"There was no phosphorus here, but the light of the torches fell on a larger altar and a more obscene and repulsive god squatting toad-like upon it. Before this repugnant deity Gorulga and his ten acolytes knelt and beat their heads upon the ground, while chanting monotonously. Conan realized why their progress had been so slow. Evidently approaching the secret crypt of the Teeth was a complicated and elaborate ritual." -- Robert E. Howard: "Jewels of Gwahlur"
In the mythology of Keshan, the jungled land south of Stygia, Gwahlur is known and worshipped as the king of darkness, a demonic creature that revels in destruction and death. It is said that in the birth of the world, the other gods wrenched the teeth from the awful jaws of Gwahlur, and commanded them to be hidden.
The center of Gwahlur worship is Alkmeenon, a hidden city which is taboo to all Keshians except the priests of that land. Beneath the ruined palace of Alkmeenon, there exists a series of caverns, each with a hideous idol of a god or demon (images, perhaps, of Gwahlur, or of the gods that cooperated to steal his teeth). Only priests know how to unlock the bronze gates leading to these tunnels. During ceremonies, the priests make their way into each chamber and chant before each idol before moving into the next chamber. Darkness, which seems to consume and eat torchlight, hides the true size of each cave.
The worship of Gwahlur was brought to Keshan by the Shemites who founded the city of Alkmeenon. It is thus probable that cults or servants of Gwahlur still exist in Shem.
Status: Demigod (?)
Spheres of Influence: Darkness, prophecy
Symbol: Nine gems
The oracle Yelaja, the last princess of the original founders of Alkmeenon, has some sort of arcane connection with Gwahlur; she is sometimes called the "dweller with the great one of darkness".
Much secrecy and superstition surround the myths of Gwahlur. Evidence seems to suggest that the priests of Keshia are not in fact priests of Gwahlur, but worship other gods of the jungle, such as Dagon, Derketa and Damballah. These gods might have tasked the priesthood to guard the sacred gems known as the Teeth of Gwahlur, and to perform rituals that keep Gwahlur chained or imprisoned somewhere. As such, the true might of Gwahlur can only be guessed at.
The black priests of Keshan dress in leopardskin tunics, their heads decorated with ostrich plumes. They use invocations spoken in the ancient tongue of Alkmeenon, handed down from generation to generation of high priests.
The former high priest, Gorulga, was killed by bestial corpse-eaters during an expedition to Alkmeenon.