So, I got job on killing floor as a knocker. It was a good job. Yeah, skilled labor. A cow comes up the ramp. Boom, boom, boom. And you take a sledge hammer, and - Boop! You knock the cow dead. It takes strength. It takes strength, but not only strength. It takes talent, because it's a craft. You have to do it right, or the cow gets angry. And angry meat taste bad. Yeah, you need arms to break the skull, but that's not the goal. The goal is to crush the brain inside the skull, and quick, before the pain can travel from outside the brain to the inside, so the brain never knows the brain is crushing. To give a good death is art.
Czernobog first arrived in New York but moved to Chicago and found work in the meat business as a cow knocker before the advent of the captive bolt pistol. He lives in a brownstone in Chicago that he shares with the Zorya sisters.
Shadow and Wednesday arrive at an apartment in Chicago. Zorya Vechernyaya tells Wednesday that Czernobog, who is currently in a field killing a cow with a bolt pistol, will not be happy to see them.
Shadow heads for the bathroom just as Czernobog returns home. He is not pleased to see Wednesday and throws a lamp at him. Wednesday offers him the cigarettes and herb Havarti but Czernobog still wants him to leave. Zorya Vechernyaya tells Czernobog she already invited them to dinner.
Czernobog becomes upset with Wednesday and raising his voice. Zorya Utrennyaya hurries in to shush him so he doesn't wake up Zorya Polunochnaya. Wednesday is trying to get Czernobog to come to the meeting because everyone else will be there and will think Czernobog is weak if he doesn't show. Czernobog tells Wednesday he wants his brother, Bielebog, not him.
They sit down to a terrible dinner of tough meat and soft potatoes, which Wednesday enthusiastically enjoys. Czernobog asks Shadow if he is Black. Where he is from, everyone is the same color so everyone fights over shades. Bielebog has light hair where Czernobog has black hair so everyone thought Bielebog was the good one and it turned Czernobog into the bad one. They are both gray now so there is no longer a way to tell who is light and who is dark.
Czernobog shares how they first arrived in New York and it wasn't so bad but then they came to Chicago and it's not so great. He had to get a job in the slaughterhouse and became a "knocker" on the killing floor. Zorya Vechernyaya opposes him telling cow killing stories at dinner but he continues anyway. He explains how it takes strength and skill to artfully kill a cow properly with a sledgehammer. If not done properly, the cow becomes angry and angry meat tastes bad. He complains about the ease of the bolt gun that makes it so anyone can kill cows now. He asks Shadow if he plays checkers and invites him to a checkers game after dinner and Shadow agrees.
After dinner, Czernobog sets up the checkers board, playing black and they begin their game. Czernobog asks if Shadow wants to see his killing hammer and retrieves it from over the mantle. He explains how blood feeds the hammer, giving it shine, with sunrise blood being the best. Now, his hammer is red with rust but Shadow sees blood pouring off it from the 10,000 kills Czernobog made. They continue playing checkers and Czernobog offers to make a wager. If he loses, then he will go with Shadow and Wednesday to meet with the others. If he wins, then he gets to hit Shadow in the middle of the forehead with his hammer.
Wednesday advises against it, but tells Shadow it's his decision if he wants to make the wager. Shadow considers all the crazy things he has seen in the last few days and what is real and what is not. He agrees to Czernobog's wager and they keep playing checkers. Czernobog starts singing an old song about bitter coffee and a spoon that makes it sweet as he gets more and more of Shadow's pieces off the board. Shadow loses the game and Czernobog declares that at sunrise, Shadow will willingly go down on his knees for him to knock his brains out and asks "Is good?". Shadow responds "Is good."
Shadow wakes up on the couch in Czernobog's apartment. He goes into Czernobog's room and tries to convince Czernobog to play one more game of checkers with him. He points out that Czernobog is old and weaker and he might need two hits on the head in order to successfully kill Shadow. If Shadow wins, then Czernobog has to go with him and Mr. Wednesday and Czernobog still gets his one hammer hit after they're done. If Czernobog wins, he gets two swings at sunrise. Czernobog agrees to the terms and they start playing checkers. Shadow wins the checkers game against Czernobog and Czernobog agrees to go with Wednesday to Wisconsin then he will kill Shadow.
At the House on the Rock, Wednesday wanders off on his own. He finds Zorya Vechernyaya in a room with a snowy backdrop. He flirts with her as Czernobog arrives. Czernobog reminds him the only reason he is there is because he lost a game of checkers to Shadow. Wednesday leaves them and Czernobog starts the music playing, inviting Zorya Vechernyaya to dance.
Backstage in Wednesday's memories at Odin's Hall, the gods are visible in their various non-human forms: from Odin, Bilquis, Czernobog, the Zorya sisters, and Anansi to Ame-No Uzeme, Ahura Mazda, the Lion-god, and Frau Holle. Anansi calls everyone around for a story about being at constant war with the New Gods. Odin speaks, reminding them how people brought the gods, including everyone present, with them to America. The Old Gods have been abandoned as the "true believers" either died or stopped believing. They are only getting by as they are replaced by the New Gods, who now want to destroy them.
Mama-ji interrupts, saying that she has seen New Gods rise and fall and they should wait them out. She does not see any of the battles that Odin claims are happening. Bilquis defends Odin, explaining how the New Gods have more followers, more attention, and more power, however, it is not a bad thing. She has been given the tools of the New Gods and warns them they need to evolve or die. Shadow speaks out that he believes Odin. He has lost everyone and everything but he is regaining his belief and faith because of Odin. If they help Odin, they can be worthy of their believers.
At a Motel America diner, Wednesday pours mead as the Old Gods feast and socialize. Shadow sits down next to Nancy and asks if it all really happened. Nancy plays dumb as Czernobog blows cigarette smoke in Shadow's face; the smell is a reminder to Czernobog of the offerings his followers used to burn for him. He offers to play Shadow another game of checkers so he can kill Shadow and go home.
A sniper fires into the diner, shooting down Old Gods with bullets engraved with "Deus Mortuorum" (Latin for "God is dead"). In the aftermath, Wednesday finds Zorya Vechernyaya incapacitated by a chest wound. He cradles her as Czernobog holds her hand and she dies. Czernobog curses the person who killed her so that they will not die in battle, no one alive will take their life, and "she" will find them.
Outside the Motel America diner in the parking lot, Czernobog laments Zorya Vechernyaya's murder at the hands of the New Gods. Mama-ji tells Czernobog they will summon another Zorya but Czernobog explains that there are no more believers left for her old star to rise again. He blames Mr. Wednesday for allowing Zorya to die but a new star will still rise. Wednesday promises them vengeance. Mama-ji agrees to join Wednesday's war because the fight was brought to her doorstep.
Czernobog's character is based on a 12th century West Slavic deity. His name translated from proto-slavic means "Black God."
Their beliefs claimed that bad things in the world happened because there was a "Black God" (Chernobog) causing them.
In opposition, the "White God" (Belobog) would be the cause of good luck and success.
Czernobog sings an "old" song about stirring coffee while he's playing checkers with Shadow in "The Secret of Spoons." Michael Green came up with the lyrics while reminiscing about a favorite aunt who had passed away, leaving him a sugar bowl and spoon.
My love made the sweetest coffee / With no sugar at all / She only stirred with her spoon and it was done / Now my drink is bitter / The secret of spoons forgotten / When my voice breaks on this song / Remember old love gone / And drink bitter coffee