Merrshaulk

Merrshaulk of the Emerald Scales, Merrshaulk the Elder Serpent.

Merrshaulk is the ancient god of the sarrukh of Mhairshaulk, formed from the fragmentation of the World Serpent, and believed to have been reborn himself in the form of Sseth in -304 DR.

Merrshaulk is depicted as an enormous, emerald green serpent with a humanoid body and multiple serpent heads sprouting from his neck and arms, with a large pair of wings sprouting from his back.

Since the appearance of Sseth, Merrshaulk has not been worshipped in Faerun by the yuan-ti, although he still has some worshippers among the ancient sarrukh of Okoth, and the slumbering sarrukh of Mhairshaulk (should they ever awaken).

Mythology

The mythos of the sarrukh has long since passed into distant memory, with none alive to remember the truth of the legends, and the passage of time has corrupted those legends again and again as the sarrukh empires fractured and were superseded by those of their former servants.

Most sarrukh today hold the lofty belief that Merrshaulk is the product of the fragmentation of the World Serpent, along with other elder serpentfolk gods such as Jazirian. The most widely held belief is that Merrshaulk and the other “children” of the World Serpent were just aspects of their parents personality that became separate beings as he perished.

Merrshaulk guided the sarrukh to form the three empires on Faerun and then sank into an eternal slumber, and in his absence the three empires; Isstosseffifil, Mhairshaulk, and Okoth, all failed in turn. Merrshaulk only re-emerged as the younger and vigorous Sseth who helped the yuan-ti forge the Empire of Serpentes until he too fell into eternal slumber.

History

The legends of Merrshaulk and the gods of the sarrukh mirror the historical events that befell the sarrukh and their servants that inherited the empires of their masters.

The fragmentation of the World Serpent has obvious parallels with the fragmentation of the sarrukh Empire of Okoth, which led to a great migration and the formation of the empires of Mhairshaulk and Isstosseffifil.

Olfactory histories from the yuan-ti claim that the World Serpent was the only deity worshipped by the sarrukh to the exclusion of all others, until the yuan-ti and naga were created, and it was the creation of these servant creatures that caused the fragmentation of the World Serpent into separate entities.

However, the above claim ignores the fact that the sarrukh were spread across three entirely separate empires, two of which were at best unfriendly with the first (Okoth), it also doesn’t take into account that the yuan-ti and naga were only created in Mhairshaulk and it is unlikely that their emergence would have affected the religious practices of sarrukh in the far flung corners of Faerun.

Furthermore, there is no evidence that the sarrukh of Okoth worship any being other than the World Serpent (although some claim that they worship Merrshaulk or Sseth), but there is certainly no indication that they have even heard of the other fragments of the World Serpent. 

Similarly the sarrukh of Isstosseffifil only worship Merrshaulk, and none of the other fragments of the World Serpent that supposedly arose in the wake of the creation of the naga and yuan-ti. Whereas, the Kingdom of Najara, which was created long after the fall of Mhairshaulk, worships almost the entire spectrum of serpentfolk deities.

It would seem that whatever event caused the fragmentation of serpentfolk religion occurred after the founding of the Empire of Mhairshaulk, and was centred on the Chultan Peninsula and those serpentfolk successor states that arose in the wake of the fall of Mhairshaulk.

The truth is of course impossible to determine after 30 millennia of history, especially given the parallels on the Outer Planes with beings such as Jazirian and Ahriman who also formed an entity known as the World Serpent.

It is likely that Merrshaulk and Jazirian were part of a number of powerful sarrukh that led the clans forced out of the Empire of Okoth in a great migration that took them across southern Faerun to the Jungles of Chult and then north to the Desert of Anauroch (although both regions looked very different 30,000 years ago).

The flesh warping powers of the sarrukh are legendary among the serpentfolk, for they can alter any reptilian form with a thought. Murals deep in the Mhair Jungles depict Merrshaulk as huge serpentine being with a vaguely humanoid shaped torso and many snake heads sprouting from his neck and arms (a form not dissimilar to the yuan-ti anathema). It is possible that Merrshaulk practised flesh warping on his own form (it is believed the migrating sarrukh were outcast from Okoth for deviating from the pure form of the sarrukh), and it is also possible that he pushed the magic to its very limit and altered his form too much.

It is known that a number of incredibly powerful serpentine creatures of immense size once roamed the Chultan Peninsula long before the rise of mankind, The likes of Squamata the Black, Dendar the Night Serpent, Varae, etc are both feared and revered by human and serpentfolk alike. It is also known that the sarrukh of Mhairshaulk fell into decline, then an eternal torpor that led to the yuan-ti becoming caretakers of their former masters.

The most probable version of events is that the sarrukh that fled Okoth were led by such greats elders as Merrshaulk and Jazirian, who took the bulk of the migrating sarrukh to the Chultan Peninsula (although a half their number split and journeyed north from the Lake of Steam, eventually reaching the shores of the Narrow Sea in modern day Anauroch). Merrshaulk founded the great empire named after him (it is the vanity of the yuan-ti that claims the deity Merrshaulk came into being with the birth of the yuan-ti and thus that Merrshaulk is named after the Empire of Mhairshaulk).

Merrshaulk likely pushed the boundaries of fleshwarping magics to the limit, and augmented his body until it barely resembled his closest kin (becoming the first anathema). In this form he was able to consume other beings and merge them into new forms, giving rise to the yuan-ti, naga, and troglodytes. 

At some point Merrshaulk’s body began to destabilise and he literally split into a multitude of living beings (Squamata the Black, Varae the Father of Dinosaurs, etc) that ran amok among the Jungles of Chult. At around the same time the sarrukh of Mhairshaulk began to fall into a deep slumber (caused by Merrshaulk’s manipulation of a powerful magical source to augment his fleshwarping abilities), and ultimately the yuan-ti became the new masters of Mhairshaulk.

Whether Merrshaulk survived the rending of his physical form is unknown. Legends say that Merrshaulk slew Jazirian on some distant plane, although the source of this legend is related to the wanderings of the Okothian sarrukh, and so it is likely that some extraplanar being representing the World Serpent (and confused with Merrshaulk, who was also referred to as a fragment of the World Serpent) slew Jazirian. Given the war between the Okothian sarrukh and the khaasta of the Abyss, it is possible that the sarrukh sought assistance from the depths of Baator in destroying their ancient foe Jazirian.

Recent history states that Merrshaulk rose again in the form of a winged avatar that emerged from the Peaks of Flame at a time when the yuan-ti of the Chultan Peninsula threatened to destroy themselves. However, this being, known as Sseth was unknown to the yuan-ti at the time of his appearance and so cannot have been summoned as an avatar. It is almost certain that Sseth was a material being that manipulated events (he may have even orchestrated these events) in order to gain the worship of the yuan-ti in a possible bid to achieve true godhood.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s