Behind the Throne of Iuz

Gary Gygax

Iuz’s greatest fear is not a paladin of Pelor or the Cudgel of Cuthbert or any heroes of good. He fears his mom teaming up with his girlfriend. In the Greyhawk novel Artifact of Evil, Gary Gygax narrates a comical encounter between Iuz, his mother Iggwilv, and his girlfriend Zuggtmoy. It starts when the dark lord’s orgasmic scrying device becomes a portal that lets the two of them into his private palace:

The oily liquid in the massive [scrying] pool erupted in a geyser that struck the ceiling almost twenty feet above its surface. As the droplets pattered down throughout the room, a pair of women appeared. Before Iuz’s startled gaze stood Iggwilv, his mother, and Zuggtmoy, Demoness Lady of Fungi. Between them, grasped by both, was the Second Key!

“For one who calls himself the Eldritch Lord of Evil, – you look rather startled – ‘thunderstruck’ is the word! Weren’t you expecting us?” Iggwilv said, and as she asked the question she smirked at the figure beside her.

Zuggtmoy the demoness smirked back at the crone who was possibly the oldest and most powerful human ever known, then smiled broadly at the cambion. “Iuz, my love, it has been too long!”

To better intimidate him, Iggwilv and and Zuggtmoy appear to Iuz in their true hideous and terrifying forms. Iuz calls himself by the title “Eldritch Lord of Evil,” but in this encounter he looks more like a henpecked, harassed husband and a passive-aggressive child bullied by a domineering mother that criticizes his wardrobe.

Gygax describes Iggwilv as “possibly the oldest and most powerful human ever known.” But does she keep her son, Iuz, under her thumb? Not at all. She considers him to be her “prodigal.” That’s why she must enlist his lover to obtain the second piece of the theorpart and bring her unruly son under control.  

Recovering his lost dignity, Iuz drew himself up to his full height and spoke with firm tones. “Both of you, assume a more pleasing form immediately. But first, you may hand Me that which you have brought.”

Iggwilv shook her head. “Not so fast, my prodigal. Is that any way for a devoted son to speak to his Dear Mother?” Even as she uttered this admonition, the ancient crone, one who had appeared a parody of every child’s nightmare of a wicked witch, changed. Her features flowed and changed as her body grew and straightened. Scraggly, gray locks became flowing tresses of hair like spun gold, and face and form matched the radiance of this golden head.

Zuggtmoy too had altered from a horrid harridan to a breathtaking beauty. As voluptuous as her companion, Zuggtmoy’s assumed form was as dark as Iggwilv’s was golden. As this occurred, the demoness swayed across the intervening distance between them and threw her arms around Iuz. “Greet your lover properly!” she demanded in sultry fashion. “And you too, Wilva, come and join us, do!”

Zuggtmoy flaunts her familiarity with Iggwilv by referring to great witch by the diminutive form her name, “Wilva.” In other sources, Iggwilv is usually depicted as a pale-skinned or golden-skinned dark-haired beauty, but in the Gygax novels, she has “flowing tresses of hair like spun gold.” Of course, Iggwilv can assume any form she pleases, but this one sounds like a description of her sister, Fair Elena. Iggwilv has been know to impersonate Elena in the past.

As the conversation continues, Iuz complains that Iggwilv has not always been the perfect mother. (Indeed, she abandoned the child shortly after giving birth to him.) We learn that the conception of Iuz was an unplanned pregnancy:

“You brought me forth by accident, and you have been more a mother in the breach than the office, Iggwilv. Cease your foolery and deliver my prize to me,” the cambion added with what could have been petulance. “Stop this foolishness,” the cambion said, trying to disengage Zuggtmoy’s arms with one hand and fend off the giggling Iggwilv with the other.

Thanks to the theorpart in their possession, Zuggtmoy and Iggwilv have obtained power and control surpassing that of Iuz. The unhappy cambion realizes that they have him at a disadvantage. He is not in a position to make demands of the two women:

Iuz dared not offend the one and wished for nothing more than the artifact held by the other. This was not in keeping with his dignity nor power. “I demand you stop this now!”

“Demand?” said Zuggtmoy.

“Demand?!” echoed Iggwilv.

The hard edge of both voices made the cambion hastily rephrase his statement. “My dearest love, My own Mother, you have confused and befuddled Me with your coming, with that which you bring Me, and most of all with this fond greeting!” With that he clasped the dark form that was Zuggtmoy and embraced her lasciviously. As she laughed, Iuz scooped the transformed Iggwilv into the expanse of his other arm and kissed her too. “There, My most lovely ladies, I make amends!”

Releasing them, Iuz proceeded to kiss each of their hands in a courtly fashion, greeting each by full title and welcoming them to his abode.

By freeing Zuggtmoy from the Temple of Elemental Evil, Iggwilv put the Lady of Fungi in her debt. Zuggtmoy and Iggwilv entered into an alliance to find the components of the theorpart. So long as they retain possession of it, they can manipulate Iuz to their will. But Iggwilv and Zuggtmoy are not equals. Iggwilv holds the upper hand. After freeing the Lady of Fungi, Iggwilv followed the demoness to the Abyss where, together, they hatched schemes to overrun Oerth. Iggwilv flaunts her station above Zuggtmoy in front of her son:

Iggwilv smiled, and there was a suggestion of mockery and sly understanding in the expression. “Iuz, My son, you excelled yourself in your choice of consorts. Lady Zuggtmoy is absolutely without peer!”

“Thank you, dear Iggwilv,” the transformed demoness said prettily. “I am in your debt, and you will never regret aiding Me.”

“Tsch! Do not mention it – time for settling that will come. You and I have much to accomplish now,” she added, giving the Queen of Fungi a meaningful glance.

“What – ” Iuz began.

“Of course,” the woman who had given him birth said, “you are wanting information. Well then, attend Me. It was a near thing, for those soft and stupid ones who oppose the true order of things come in their multitudes. Despite their mewling attempts, I found and freed Dear Lady Zuggtmoy. Together we went to her lovely estate in the Abyss, where she renewed herself. What wonderful chats we shared, and what plans we schemed, Lady Zuggtmoy and I! Then, as time was of the utmost, we returned to this mundane plane to set matters on the correct course here…”

Iggwilv needed Zuggtmoy’s help to locate and take possession of the second portion of the theorpart, but what was she really trying to accomplish? It turns out that the mother of Iuz intended to become the power behind this throne. She wants to use him as her new pawn. She takes control over his kingdom to achieve her ambitions of empire. In other words, she is the impetus behind the expansionist ambitions of Iuz which we see played out in the Greyhawk Wars:

The Second Key – from where did you get it?” Iuz interrupted.

“This?” Iggwilv feigned a negligent disdain for the oddly twisted shape of dull metal and lusterless crystals of dusky hue she still held. “It radiated a dim aura which was discernible to us when we melded our powers and considered it,” Iggwilv told the cambion. “So we changed ourselves and went unnoticed to where it was. It was a simple matter to take it and bring it here. Once possessed, its power is such that only a major combination could prevent we two from doing as we wished!”

“Did a dwarf called Obmi bear it?”

“That one was heading directly for a large group of puissant elves – the snot-nosed servants of that upstart Mordenkainen. How that silly trickster howled when we took the prize before his own dogs could snap it up…”

“And the dwarf?”

Iggwilv smiled and gestured to Zuggtmoy … “Come, come, my dears, let us get to matters of import. My little Iuz has a kingdom to expand. There are plans to make. But first there must be a triumphal procession and festival here in Dorakaa! The populace must know of our coming, of the new power of the land, and of its new status as arbiter of all!”

Iggwilv wants all of Dorokaa to know of her presence and to understand her authority over Iuz. She does not try to hide her power; she flaunts it.

Iuz groaned inwardly, cursing Iggwilv carefully in a corner of his mind that was well shielded from any possible prying by magic. Now, the cambion thought, I understand why Graz’zt imprisoned her in a dismal plane within the Abyss! Iggwilv, it was certain, would not settle for a role of silent helper in matters of state – or any other matters. In tandem with Zuggtmoy – and the two seemed to have become virtual sisters – they would never allow him his prerogatives, nor a moment’s peace.

Iggwilv knows when Iuz is hiding his thoughts from her, and she scolds him for it like a mother reprimanding her sullen sulking child. She complains that, as a child, Iuz was given to daydreaming and laziness. The scolding only emphasizes how the new alliance between his mother and his lover has effectively castrated the lord of evil. Zuggtmoy drives home the point. Iuz is no longer independent or in control of his own kingdom. Instead he has been reduced to the a third member of a triumvirate:

“Pay attention, Iuz!” Iggwilv said with a scolding tone that didn’t fit her charming beauty at all. “You were always a daydreaming little do-nothing as a youngling, but that won’t be the case anymore!”

“Yes, Iuz, do attend our words,” added Zuggtmoy. “If we are to rule a fitting state here on this silly little world, you must be able to do your part, so pay attention!”

Iggwilv took the opportunity to berate him for his poor choices in selecting members for the three groups of six who served him. “It is just as well that Ormuz and the one called Patch chose to die in battle! Had they dared return, their deaths would have been longer and less handsome! Know you that the one dealt with lackeys of Nerull, whilst the other sought to make a pact with your father?”

Iuz shook his head, for he could not speak.

Poor Iuz. Even victories on the field of battle fail to cheer him so long as he remains under the control of his manipulative mother and his fetid lover.

It was not all well with Iuz. The victories were hollow to the cambion, for he had to share them with the two women who seemed determined to make his existence a hell – no; worse than that. Ordered and regimented as it was, Iuz thought that such would almost be preferable to what he suffered. Iggwilv held the Second Key and would not give it to him. With it in her possession, Iuz dared not argue strongly, let alone attempt force. Zuggtmoy, meanwhile, directed his every move, with Iggwilv’s advice and blessing. It was intolerable! Only he knew that somehow he must tolerate it all, biding his moment, the time when he actually gained the Second Key and stood above the two who ruled him as he had ruled others.

Iuz dreams of escaping Dorokaa and taking up residence in his new capital, far away from these powerful women. Better yet, he think, he should take a vacation to the warm beaches of the Pomarj (where it never snows), far to the south and far from Iggwilv and Zuggtmoy:

Winter howled over Dorakaa, and Iuz wished that the reconstruction of his new palace at Molag were done so at least he could enjoy the benefits of that warmer clime. Thinking of the fair shores of the Pomarj, where snow never fell, Iuz wandered off to the dungeons below his dreadful palace in Dorakaa to see if a little amusement there might cheer him somewhat.


Excerpts from Gary Gygax, Artifact of Evil © 1986 TSR
Featured Art: Zuggtmoy by Virginie Ropars © 2015 WOTC
Read more stories about Iggwilv in the ongoing series “Mother of Witches.”

 

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