Monday, April 9, 2018

F is for Fire: Zelazny A to Z



Combustion or burning, in which substances combine chemically with oxygen from the air and typically give out bright light, heat, and smoke.

Welcome back to the second week of Zelazny A to Z. Today’s topic is Fire, specifically, God of.
"Describe this stranger!" ordered Siddhartha, forcing the words through his own lips. 
"He stands very tall," said the demon, "and he wears black breeches and boots. Above the waist he has on him a strange garment. It is like a seamless white glove, upon his right hand only, which extends all the way up his arm and across his shoulders, wrapping his neck and rising tight and smooth about his entire head. Only the lower part of his face is visible, for he wears over his eyes large black lenses which extend half a span outward from his face. At his belt he wears a short sheath of the same white material as the garment, not containing a dagger, however, but a wand. Beneath the material of his garment, where it crosses his shoulders and comes up upon his neck, there is a hump, as if he wears there a small pack." 
"Lord Agni!" said Siddhartha. "You have described the God of Fire!" 
"Aye, this must be," said the Rakasha. "For as I looked beyond his flesh, to see the colors of his true being, I saw there a blaze like unto the heart of the sun. If there be a God of Fire, then this indeed is he."
Agni, lord of the invincible fire wand, given to him by the deathgod himself,  which is said to have scored the surfaces of all three moons while Lord Agni stood upon the seashore and waved it. None may wield it without being blinded and losing a hand in the process!

Agni is one of those characters who never quite lived up to his fearsome reputation.
Agni had entered, and he pointed the wand. 
"Do not move, Sam! Demon!" he cried, above the roar of the engines; and as he spoke, his lenses clicked red and he smiled. "Demon," he stated. "Do not move, or you and your host will burn together!" 
Sam sprang upon him. Agni fell easily when he struck, for he had not believed that the other would reach him. 
"Short circuit, eh?" said Sam, and hit him across the throat. 
"Or sunspots?" and he struck him in the temple. 
Agni fell to his side, and Sam hit him a final blow with the edge of his hand, just above the collarbone.
And versus Yama
"Brother Agni, you have come up in the world." 
"I am no longer Agni, but Shiva, Lord of Destruction." 
"You wear his armor upon a new body and you carry his trident. But none could master the trident of Shiva so quickly. This is why you wear the white gauntlet on your right hand, and the goggles upon your brow." 
Shiva reached up and lowered the goggles over his eyes.
"It is true, I know. Throw away your trident, Agni. Give me your glove and your wand, your belt and your goggles." 
He shook his head. 
"I respect your power, deathgod, your speed and your strength, your skill. But you stand too far away for any of these to aid you now. You cannot come at me but I will burn you before you reach me here. Death, you shall die." 
He reached for the wand at his belt.
"You seek to turn the gift of Death against its giver?" The blood-red scimitar came into his hand as he spoke.
"Good-bye, Dharma. Your days are come to an end."
He drew the wand.
"In the name of a friendship which once existed," said the one in red, "I will give you your life if you surrender to me." 
The wand wavered. 
"You killed Rudra to defend the name of my wife." 
"It was to preserve the honor of the Lokapalas that I did it. Now I am God of Destruction, and one with the Trimurti!"
He pointed the fire wand, and Death swirled his scarlet cloak before him.
There came a flash of light so blinding that two miles away upon the walls of Keenset the defenders saw it and wondered.
 Still, I wouldn't mind some Agni side stories where he can be as badass as his reputation implies. Ideally with some snazzy Jack Kirby-inspired visuals.

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