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Origin

Zula was a Prince, and the son of the chieftain of the Zamballahs, a tribal nation dwelling south of Darfar. During his rite of passage ritual of manhood, a band of Kushites (who had smoked the peace root with the Cheiftain) invaded their territory and slew every adult male, intending to keep the women and children as slaves. Alone in the hut of retreat, Zula awakened to see his own father cut down before his eyes. Zula considered rushing out and avenging his father but instead decided that his tribal heritage must somehow survive. He removed the decorative jewelry that would identify him as the chief's son and placed them on a dead warrior one year older than him. Zula was spared death, disguised as a commoner the last male survivor of his once-proud race. He was marched to the Kushite village, where their war-chief took him and made him his personal slave, instead of selling him in Khemi or on the black coast.

Creation

Zula was created by Roy Thomas, John Buscema, and Ernie Chan.

Character evolution

Sold into slaver

Zula later intended to eventually slay the war-chief that enslaved him in his sleep, but was sold to Ptor-Nubis, a Stygian sorcerer. Zula was taken to Kheshatta, the Stygian city of magic. There he was given as a gift to Shu-Onoru, one of the eldest, most feared, and venerated sorcerers. Assuming Zula too ignorant to read, Shu-Onoru did not bother to lock away his spell books and scrolls, giving Zula the opportunity to master them in secret when cleaning his sanctum sanctorum. but Zula, a quick study, learned Stygian, and he learned much as he watched his master in silence. Zula faked superstitious fear of arcane forces to prevent Shu-Onoru from realizing the truth, and Shu-Onoru even allowed him to grow the war-crest that was the symbol of the Zamballah chiefs.

Zula was eventually given a tiger's hide to wear when he grew to manhood, Shu-Onoru jesting that he had tamed a tiger and Zula as a jungle beast. His patience bested by this insult, Zula watched that evening as Shu-Onoru summoned the demon Helgor, intending for him to share the secret of the "Sword that Conquers All" memorizing all that he could. After Shu-Onoru went to bed, Zula brought a sword into the sanctum and attempted to repeat the ritual, reading from the tomes of Shuma-Gorath, Skelos, and Vathelos. Unfortunately, Zula had not matched the ritual exactly, and Helgor appeared and then angrily attempted to slay him; sensing the mystic commotion, Shu-Onoru returned, banished Helgor, and then made Zula's sword to hot to hold thus disarming him.

Gladiator

Realizing Zula could not be trusted as a slave any further but wishing to gain some enjoyment from his passing, Shu-Onoru forced him to fight other war captives from Zimbabwe, promising freedom to the warrior that slew Zula. Zula was forced to kill them. He then attacked Shu-Onoru, who knocked him out with a potion.

Meeting Conan and the fight for freedom

Realizing Zula was not ignorant and could learn, Shu-Onoru decided not to have him killed, but instead sold him to a Khemi merchant, Sheb-At, who brought him to the Hawk god worshipping Stygian city of Harakht. Conan who was captured by the soldiers of the king Mer-Ath, ruler of Karakht. Zula rushed forward, dragging his master, Sheb-At, alongside him, and knocked out Conan, so the guards wouldn't be forced to kill him just to to stop him. Sheb-At drew his sword to slay Zula for the rough treatment, but a grateful King Mer-Ath stopped him and insisted Zula not be slain. As punishment Zula was sent to the dungeon.

Conan was then chained up in a dungeon, the same one Zula was sent to for the night, just as Zula had planned. Zula revealed that he had hit Conan to save him, then offered to free Conan if he would join him on a mission of vengeance against his capters. When Conan agreed, Zula produced a bottle of acid and melted both their chains. Zula then screamed that Conan was trying to kill him, leading the guards to come rushing in, and they knocked out the guards, stole their swords, and fought their way out of the dungeon and to freedom. En route, Zula stole one of the flutes that the city's hawk-riders used to control their giant hawks. Zula then used the flute to control a pair of hawks, allowing him and Conan to escape on the hawks' backs.

Luxor

while Zula and Conan continued their flight on the backs of giant hawks, they shared their pasts with one another, and developed a brief but strong bond of camaraderie. Upon landing, however, Conan renigged on the deal he made with Zula telling Zula that he had he had also vowed to help Belit gain vengeance against those who had murdered her father. Outraged at this betrayal Zula attacked Conan. The two fought to a stand still but briefly. Conan, not wishing to kill Zula, offered to compromise: he would aid Zula after Zula helped him locate and assist Belit. Accepting that he had little choice in the matter, Zula agreed to accompany Conan to the capital city of Strygia, Luxor. Their hawks died of exhaustion from the long flight, and so they continued their journey on foot.

Arriving at luxor, Zula and Conan climbed over the city's wall killing the guards. Zula pretending to be Conan's slave get in the city. While Zula waited outside a tavern while Conan got information on how to get to Ctesphon. Dealing with the racist taunts of some Stygian acolytes as he waited, Zula was more than willing to confront and slay those same acolytes when Conan gave the signal to strike. As part of the procession, they entered the base of the partially completed giant pyramid via a canal. Zula was recognized as an outlander. Zula and Conan fought their way pasts the priests, but encountered the monstrous Devourer of the Dead. Easily overpowered by the monster, Conan led Zula to light the barge on fire and send it at the Devourer, while they took the sarcophagus that Belit was imprisoned in, She had been placed there by agents of Neftha, sister to King Ctesphon.

Declaring himself a champion of the downtrodden, Zula offered to help Belit rescue her father, and he accompanied her and Conan through a tunnel to the royal palace. They arrived just in time to prevent Ctesphon's executioner from killing Neftha, and Zula and Conan took down the palace guards while Belit killed Ctesphon upon learning that he had long ago had her father put to death.

Neftha was then crowned King Ctesphon III (per Stygian law and tradition) and she swiftly ordered the deaths of Belit, Conan, and Zula. Zula used hypnosis and magic, learned from watching Shu-Omoru, to make them invisible to the guards' eyes. While the sorcerer Hath-Horeb tried to counter Zula's spell, Belit skewered him with a spear, and the three of them escaped.

Zula, Conan, and B lit fought their way out of the palace, attempting to slay every last guard so that none could sound the alarm. They escaped back into the tunnel, and the guards pursuing them were sent back by Thoth-Amon, who had his own plans for them. In their moments' peace, Zula reminded Conan of his vow to help him, but upon learning that Pto-Nubis was in Shem, he agreed to accompany Conan and Belit there. Thoth-Amon then sent an immense Man-Serpent into the tunnel after Zula, Conan and Belit. It mesmerized Belit into approaching it. Zula heard the call, but his experience with hypnosis enabled him to resist the call, and he saved Belit. Evading the Man-Serpent's first strikes, Zula was nonetheless snared in its coils, which began to crush him, and its thick body resisted his sword strokes. Just as Zula was ready to pass out, Conan rushed in and called out his name, distracting the Man-Serpent as it hovered in preparation of striking, and Zula decapitated it.

Zula and Belit were subsequently separated by Conan by boulders hurled at them by a pair of Serpent Men. Zula and Belit rejoined Conan, following his request to speak the words "Ka Nama Kaa Lajerama" to prove they were not also Serpent Men. They were confronted by other Serpent Men posing as Belit's crew, but Conan exposed their true nature with the magic words. They escaped again and found a ship they used to get to Khemi and the Western Sea.

Zula, Conan, and Belit rode the ship along the River Styx, getting off as close to Khemi as they could risk, and had the crew carry their supplies as they headed the rest of the way on foot. Unwittingly wandering into a Stygian holy place, they end up getting caught in an earthquake, which opened into a chasm into which many of the crew (and their food supplies) fell. They repelled down to rescue the others, and Belit found the bones of one of the Giant-Kings, as well as a tomb containing a jeweled diadem that was worn by one of the Giant-Kings. Zula watched the diadem while Conan and Zula went to look for more such treasures, but Strygian marauders then ambushed Zula, stunning him with a rock to the head, while they stole the diadem. This theft triggered a curse that restored the Giant-King to life, and while the Stygians fled, the Gaint-King picked up Zula to devour him. Returning to the scene, Conan told the Giant-King that Zula's black meat was poisoned, causing the the Giant-King to cast Zula away. Regaining consciousness, Zula followed Conan's instruction to scale the rope to escape the cavern, then wait for Conan's call to throw the rope down for him. When Conan called, Zula cast down the rope, and Conan, Belit, and one Stygian escaped.

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