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Zyxl, Immortal Patron of Adventurers Down on their Luck

by Jeff Daly

It had been a long time since Schmug had been in Thyatis. When he left, it had been in the company of his new owner, an arch-mage bent on domination of the empire. But that was in the past. He had served that master well, and things had looked pretty dark, but along came the heroes who put the evil mage to rest, and miraculously given Schmug the chance to serve the side of good, rather than evil.

So began the days of wandering. Schmug had seen and done much with that group, but eventually they had split up and gone their separate ways. Now Schmug, prompted by a mysterious letter from a friend, had wandered back to the amazing, confusing, bewildering city of Thyatis. He now found himself at the "Amazing Stag", the group's old hangout. And yes, seated there at the customary table, was that...?

His cloak was pulled tightly around his neck, only partially concealing him. The cap he wore was tilted at a rakish angle, and he leaned back in his chair at deceptive leisure. But it was the smile, that devil-may-care, I'm-about-to-do-something-really-bad, however-you'll-love-and-follow-me-anyway, kind of smile that Zendrolian so often wore when they were about to go on an adventure. He turned that smile on Schmug, and it was as if no years had passed between them.

Shaking his head at his own stupidity, Schmug sat down across from Zendrolian and the skinny elf who accompanied him.

"How are ye, mister high priest?" Schmug asked.

The elf looked confused, "High priest? I thought you were more of a rake..."

Zendrolian's mouth twisted, "Its a long story...unfortunately, it has direct relevance to what we're about."

"We?" Schmug inquired, "Who said anythin' about we?"

The rake nodded, "Let me tell you something about what's going on first, before you say yea or nay. I've had a...visit."

"From Zyxl?"

Zendrolian shushed him harshly, "Names have power. Do not speak that name unless you wish unwanted attention."

"Yeah but...if that name has power, I doubt its very much, mister high priest."

"Alright, you're going to have to stop calling me that. Look, you're probably right, but under the circumstances..."

The elf shook his head, "I'm confused. Isn't Zy-- er, isn't that name referencing a certain historical dog? A dog owned by a certain emperor who, I presume, you are named after?"

"It is?"

The elf snorted in disgust, "Don't you read your own empire's history?"

Zendrolian shrugged, "I knew where my name came from. There are many children named after that emperor and after other historical figures. And why should I know anything about his dog?"

"It depends on the rest of your story."

The rake nodded, "He who is not to be--oh heck with it. Zyxl is the name of--"

Just then the tavern doors flew open and several guardsmen entered the building. They strode immediately to the barkeeper.

Zendrolian whispered urgently, "You did not see me." and slipped out the window.

The elf asked, "Is he always like that?"

Schmug rubbed his head tiredly, "I am afraid so."


He did not know if the place truly existed, or if it was an illusion in entirety. He only knew that putting the idol beneath his pillow would bring him to this place, which always appeared the same. Zendrolian stood between two rows of white pillars. The walls and floor were of marble, and intricate carvings graced the ceiling. At the other end of the room was a dais with a bathtub where the altar should be. In the tub sat a grossly fat man with a grin so large it made him look like a caricature of a human being. Three fat women attended the man, rubbing his shoulders and bringing him food and drink.

The priestly rake cleared his throat, "Zyxl?"

The fat man looked up, "Now really Zen, you could at least give me a "Great One" now and then. How am I supposed to feel divine when you insist on calling me by my first name? Do I ask too much?"

"No, Great One. But let me ask you"

Zyxl's face fell.

"Why, what do you mean, my high priest?" he asked cagedly.

"Look, if I'm to serve you loyally, we have to be honest with each other. I brought you out of that forgotten desert and I've been your follower ever since. I won't let anyone harm and someday I will even build a great temple for you. But really, I need to know...what is the connection between you and the dog?"

The fat, buddha-like god shook his head, "I honestly have no idea what you are referring to."

"What is the connection between you and the first emperor of Thyatis' pet?"

Zyxl stared at Zendrolian for the space of several moments, then as if struck by realisation, "Oh! THAT dog! No, I'm afraid there is no connection. Purely coincidence...though I must say others have commented on it. No no, don't feel embarrassed. Its quite alright."

The rakish high priest through his hands up, "Alright, fine. I'll continue to do your bidding, and I'll continue to wonder. But that's just fine."

After Zendrolian left the hall, Zyxl turned to one of his large servants, "Oh I suppose I should have told him. It couldn't really have done any harm after all. I mean...he'd still respect me, wouldn't he?"