Stepphinx Monastery, 949 GUE

Stepphinx Monastery, 1067 GUE

The mysterious Steppinthrax Monastery was built by Locksmoore sometime between 668~789 GUE in the mountains of the Steppinthrax Peninsula, south of Port Foozle, over the spot where Yoruk's descent into Hades occurred. Once dominated by perenial volcanos, this magma filled region was the perfect place for the Zorkastrian fire-worshipped. In 1067, it was home to an equally dark cause as the Headquarters of Frobozz Electric and the Second Inquisition.

The Steppinthrax Monastery is set into the upper edge of a huge chasm surrounded by a row of large volcanos. The range of volcanoes sweeps out, lower in altitude to become rolling hills. Before the last half of the tenth-century and the first half of the eleventh, smoky columns of fire emitted from the cones of the exploding mountains. Lava flowed from one of the volcanoes, creating rivers of moving molten earth around the entire monastery and its adjoining graveyard with rotting and decaying gravestones dotting the hillside. The sky was red and the clouds are pink. Much of the terrain was black and scorched by fire. A path lead around ancient walls and climbed stairs to meet the monastery at the top.

Between the last half of the tenth-century, and the first half of the eleventh, the volcanos became dormant and the lava cooled, allowing more flexible land travel to and from the Monastery, especially along the "roads" which had formed of hardened magma.

Although by the time of the Second Inquisition the graveyard and ancient walls had been removed, the interior of the Monastery, while renovated, retained its original frame. Level 1 consisted of an entry hall (converted into the Hall of Inquisition), the Hall of Masks, a chapel (which held the Totemizer during the Inquisition), a bell tower, the relics room (also known as the museum), and a manuscript room. The second level consisted of a hallway, balcony, and private rooms for the monks. The catacombs underneath were elaborate, consisting of old rooms and at one time tunnels of fire and Francois Malveaux's alchemy lab.

The Steppinthrax Monastery was built by Locksmoore sometime between 668~789 GUE over the spot where Yoruk's descent into Hades occurred. Through his intense study of the ancient secrets, Locksmoore gradually found his way to the truth regarding the purifying religious power of fire, and even recovered Yoruk’s coffin, shield and journal. He had them placed in the lower catacombs. This monastery was where the sea of Zorkastrianism would be relocated to until 945. The mountainous graveyard would hold the tombs of many famous alchemists, such as Cornelius Agrippa, Ozmar, and Satchmoz the Incomparable. Locksmoore was executed by one of Dimwit Flathead's overzealous governors, but the ascetic order of monks continued to survive. The Steppinthrax Monastery would keep alive the fire of his ancient beliefs for many centuries.

In 922, Francois Malveaux's parents sent him to the Steppinthrax Monastery to become a monk in the Zorkastrian religion. The Zorkastrian religion was empty to young man, and he sought answers beyond it. One day, exploring the catacombs beneath the Monastery, he found the journal of Saint Yoruk. From this secret text, he wrote his Zork-wide best-selling book, “Revelation and Eternity,” which thousands in Zork credit for a resurgence of interest in (and financial contributions to) the Zorkastrian religion—although some jealous critics have said it was written with the help of a demon. The book caused enough of a stir to get Malveaux elected Bishop of Zork at Steppinthrax Monastery in 922. As the youngest in history to be invested in this second highest ecclesiastical office in Zork (about 22 years of age), the book was not enough to propel Bishop Malveaux into Zork's highest office—Grand Inquisitor. In his alchemical pursuit for the Philosopher's Stone, he would found a hidden laboratory in the depths of the catacombs.

In those days, the monks were in the process of illustrating the books about Saint Yoruk's descent into hell. Each manuscript detailed another part of his journey. They also managed to horde a tremendous collection of rare artifacts, many of which were later lost or stolen during and after the days of the Curse of the Nemesis (c. 945~949 GUE). While a complete catalogue of relics once contained in the museum has not been preserved, several fragments have allowed our researchers to assemble the following list:
  1. model of the Oracle of Bargth (not to scale)
  2. model of the Ouroboros (not to scale) [at some point the sign to the Oracle of Bargth exhibit found itself upon the Ouroboros exhibit]
  3. standard issue magic wand
  4. three Zemdor scrolls
  5. The Phee Hourglass
  6. Radnor's crystall ball, period of Moog [brought from the future]
  7. sacred granola
  8. Sheath of the Grueslayer
  9. Legendary Blade of King Entharion (Grueslayer)
  10. Zork Shroud of Zylon
  11. spenceweed of Zylon
  12. stick frotzed by Vilboz the Great
  13. Jewel of Jerrimore
  14. a replica of Yoruk's Shield
  15. an authentic ruby taken from the Shield of Yoruk
  16. Torch of the Endless Fire
  17. globe of a mythical universe
  18. first edition of "On The Presence of Incredibly Weird Stuff Going On" by Bizboz
  19. scrolls on magic by Bizboz
  20. Zizbit: Books of Lore
  21. an ancient tablet
  22. Mostly Dead Sea Scroll
As part of the plan of his dark cult, Malveaux was granted permission by the Grand Inquisitor to have a young girl by the name of Alexandria Wolfe stay. At the age of 10, it was requested that she be moved to the Frigid River Branch Conservatory. Although this transfer was completed, the Monastery was under suspicion for quite some time, as it was hardly proper for an institution of male monks to be raising an orphaned teenage girl. Malveaux was murdered in 945 and the curse of the Nemesis plagued the region with tormenting hallucinations. And by the third month 947, Steppinthrax was overtaken and closed by the Grand Inquisition in Syovar's name after claims of demonic infestations. As sign was placed outside the building reading:




(Signed at Foozle, 21 Arch 947, IV xxii.)

The monastery was then abandoned to two insane monks who refused to leave. These two had gone mad from the evil and demons they testified to that were everywhere around, especially in the master's room.

When Bivotar arrived at the Monastery at Steppinthrax on Arch 21, 948, he found that the monks there still mourned the departure of their dead Bishop, who had, for the most part taken a vow of silence. In an empty office, he found several volumes on alchemy. Shortly after, an unknown female pilgrim in 949 would tread these same grounds--she would find Yoruk's shield in his coffin in the catacombs and use it to pass the fire which had been placed before Malveaux's alchemy lab. There she would forge his metal before leaving.

After the curse of the Nemesis had been uplifted in 949, the Monastery reopened. Sometime before 966, the Great Underground Subway system was installed, one of its stations connected to the lower levels of the Steppinthrax (the entrance to his station was destroyed during the Second Inquisition by Mir Yannick, who wanted to seal off the Great Underground Empire forever).

After the collapse of the First Age of Magic, Mir Yannick joined a Zorkastrian Seminary at Port Foozle to begin a career in the booming and highly lucrative field of religious fanaticism. Over time, Mir found that by bartering with his superiors over student directories of True Names stolen from the admissions office, he might accomplish the double purpose of avenging himself on all those who ever laughed at him, and ingratiating himself with the Zorkastrian officials. It worked better than Mir ever hoped; his classmates found themselves under perpetual surveillance as infidels and heretics, and Mir himself quickly became Master Mir, Father Mir, Elder Mir, and then Bishop Mir. By circa 1000, Mir ascended to the calling of First Archbishop in High Office of the Grand Inquisitor of Zork.

Mir would  not be satisfied until he saw to it that all of his magic-using one-time classmates from GUE Tech were confined in the dark recesses of Steppinthrax Dungeon. At first when Mir called for a good old-fashioned inquisition, the Grand Inquisitor refused to listen to him. By 1033, Mir has his Inquisition and Vice Regent Syovar III supported him. By 1047, Yannick murdered the Grand Inquisitor and took his place. Syovar III followed at his heels, and thus Yannick was in control, not only of the Inquisition, but of the government of Quendor.

Yannick ousted the last remnants of Zorkastrian from the Steppinthrax Monastery, converting the building into both the headquarters of the Magic Inquisition and of Frobozz Electric. Using the Totemizer, which he moved in as well, Yannick oppressed the surrounding region. A Totemized Daily billboard was erected outside the front doors. The time tunnel in the entry hall was closed, and then filled with the Perils of Magic exhibit--a place where the public came to see dioramas of various magical disasters that intended to brainwash so that they should be content with their miserable lives, because they would be much more miserable if wizards and alchemists were still running around.

It is uncertain what fate befell Steppinthrax Monastery following the defeat of Mir Yannick and the return of Magic in 1067 GUE.