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by Marco Dalmonte English translation by Gary Davies

Pyro (Ixion) - Strength, magic, balance, light, sun, fire, war
Mother Nature (Djaea) - Survival, natural balance, respect of life, druidism
Father Ocean (Protius) - Oceans and marine creatures, water, capriciousness, travel
Ashanti (Valerias) - Love, passion, desire, sexuality, beauty, arts, fertility, protection, charity
Korotiku - Liberty, guile, cleverness, wisdom, cheating and subterfuge, fun, clear thinking
Zugzul - Power, conquest, fire, war, necromancy
1. There is nothing of certain on Zyxl, a rather large island that is found to the south-east of the Peninsula of Tangor, except a passage in a number of Dragon magazines that hinted to a would-be queen “Zyxl” who could have given her name to the area. It is probably a volcanic island once thought little hospitable and unstable, so that is was only colonised by the Tanagoro only when in 700 BC they were invaded by humanoids and minotaurs and forced to flee overseas in order to survive. The group of Tanagoro that arrived on the island were led by the Queen Zyxl, who immediately imposed a stable and centralised government and a force of cooperation between the families that put aside the continuing grudges and ancestral feuds in order to guarantee the survival of the fugitives. After having personally guided the repression against any leader who had sought to contest her role, her subjects sworn fidelity to her and under her guide the Zyxlians were able to face the first tanagogre assaults that were received some years after their flight. Furthermore, thanks to her arcane knowledge, Zyxl identified an ingenious system for defending the island without having to mobilise all the population. Calling a gathering of the most skilled sculptors, the queen had built diverse stone statues of cyclopean proportions, all with her features and in a fighting pose, and had them placed along the coast of the island, transporting them thanks to her magic and enchanted in such a way to animate them in case of invasion or to command. Thus in around a decade, all the successive expeditions of the tanagogre met a firm resistance from part of the folks of Zyxl, and the towering Guardians of Stone of Zyxl also became famous among the tanagogre, which began to fear them and to propagate legends about the arcane power of the inhabitants of the island of Zyxl also to other peoples of Skothar. After nearly sixty year of uncontested ruling, Zyxl abdicated in favour of her daughter and vanished probably in search of a path for achieving Immortality. The families most loyal to the crown, which had received the more fertile and rich land to administer becoming particularly powerful in virtue of the control of this matter first. They made up a caste of nobles, and at the premature deaths of Queen Zyxl II and her consort, the lack of a heir has helped to a thorny and violent contest between the nobles, the priests and the Herald caste (instituted by Zyxl I as an elite of mages and sorcerers faithful to her) in order to take of the throne. After a century of fratricide war that made Zyxl more vulnerable and consumed part of its scarce resources, were the Heralds to prevail, also by the strength of their knowledge of the methods for building and controlling the Giants of Stone. Of common accord between the parties, in order to avoid further attrition in internal wars, it was decided that Zyxl would be divided into four regions, three of them controlled by the most important noble families and the fourth, the one in which rose the Royal Palace, under the direct responsibility of the Heralds. All the governors would nevertheless have to listen to the word of the Councillor (member of the priest caste) before taking any decision, and for that to affect the defence of the territory and foreign policies, the decisions would have been totally remitted to the Heralds. This has helped to allow Zyxl of resisting the incursions of both of the tanagogre and of the Nentsunians for centuries, even if the scarcity of resources of their territory has always forced the Zyxlians to depend on trade and magic for survival. In particular, with the passing of the generations the Heralds have always used up most of the mineral resources of Zyxl in order to create precious jewels and feed the Giants of Stone (given that they are linked to an artefact hidden in the heart of the Royal Palace, which must be fed by a rare mineral in order to activate the powers of the Giants). In the last centuries the magical mineral has been exhausted and the Heralds can no longer build new Giants, preferring to keep the reduced provisions in order to feed the existing ones and quiet the grave situation in which Zyxl found itself for not promoting the enemy incursions. Presently they have sought other deposits of the mineral in the surrounding regions, and because of this they have increased trade with Tangor and Minaea, even if it is always the Zyxlians that move abroad, and instead prevented the foreign merchants from coming too close to the island preferring to organise the exchanges on appropriate floating platforms built some kilometres from the island’s coast.
2. The majority of the Zyxlians worship Pyro as protector of the island, as patron of magic, strength and the sun (the Heralds are all in effect followers of Pyro), and all the families have at least one ancestor that is considered its protecting Immortal and who constantly pray. There also later existed other cults derived from the ancient Tanagoro traditions, like those of Korotiku, of Ashanti (Valerias), of Father Ocean (Protius) and the faith in Mother Nature (Djaea). The only faith that is hostile to the followers of Pyro is that of Zugzul, who has taken under his wing any sorcerers and particularly powerful and greedy merchants in order to attempt to gain the domination of the island. The followers of Zugzul are united in the most eastern dominion of the island, but as yet non have ever been able to wrest the control from the hands of the priests and of the Heralds, since only they know the secret for using the Stone Guardians and this makes them indispensable to the internal population. The followers of Zugzul are however always watched with suspicion by the majority of the Zyxlians, even if as yet none of the priests of the other cults has ever started a war against them, given that the resources of the Zyxlians are few and it would be suicide to unleash a civil war which would be to the benefit of their enemies (Tanagogre and Nentsunians).