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Satha (or Satha the Old One) is a giant serpent kept by the wizard Tsotha-lanti as a pet in the Halls of Horror beneath the Scarlet Citadel. Satha is white with yellow eyes and measures eighty feet in length. His fangs are twelve inches long and drip a burning venom. When Conan was held prisoner in the dungeons beneath the citadel and confronted Satha, a drop of venom fell on his thigh, leaving a scar for the rest of his life. Although he's venomous, Satha is also capable of constricting his prey.[1]

Satha hunts for prey in the great central corridor of the dungeons, and for this reason the monsters inhabiting the numerous smaller side passages avoid the main corridor. The sorcerer Pelias was once forced to watch as ten of his acolytes were fed to Satha by his rival Tsotha-lanti. On the other hand, a spellcaster as mighty as Pelias was able to instill great fear in Satha, whose senses allowed him to see what was in the sorcerer's naked soul.[1]

At some point well before the Hyborian Age, much less recorded history, another member of the same species (rare even back then) was killed in the remote jungle by a warrior named Niord, who belonged to a southward migrating tribe of Æsir. After trapping this serpent and cutting off its head, Niord steeped his arrowheads in the reptile's venom. Afterwards, he used the poisoned arrows in slaying a gigantic tentacled monster known as the Worm of the Valley. It's stated the wood of the shafts would have been destroyed quickly by the venom, if Niord hadn't been careful to steep only the tips of the arrows themselves. After destroying the Worm, Niord died of his injuries.[2]

Niord's battle against a giant serpent, along with the Worm, formed the basis in reality for future tales of dragonslayers, such as Siegfried, Beowulf, and Saint George. Legends and tales of Satha himself became twisted into demonology, so he became revered by the Stygians as an avatar of Set, the Old Serpent. In later ages, he would become Satan and Leviathan.[2] During Niord's life, it was stated the Picts living close to the Worm's feared nothing expect for it and giant vipers.

Satha is described in "The Scarlet Citadel" as white in color.[1] However, in "The Valley of the Worm", his scales shimmer with a "thousand changing scintillations".[2] It is possible the change in Tsotha's pet was due to living in complete darkness.

References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Robert E. Howard, The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian ("The Scarlet Citadel"), Del Rey (2003).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Robert E. Howard, The Best of Robert E. Howard, Volume 1 - Crimson Shadows ("The Valley of the Worm"), Del Rey (2007).
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