Opinions differ as to the exact
nature of the myths regarding the Zorkastrian Saint Yoruk, who brought
alchemy—the science of transmutation—to Zork. Many have sought to
tales as nothing but mere fantasy. The Brogmoidists in particular, even
today, hotly deny the truth of these stories, fearing that the tale of
Yoruk contradicted the fundamentals of their religion. However, recent
efforts to translate certain ancient manuscripts and inscriptions have
succeeded in providing evidence in support of Yoruk that is over a
thousand years old.
The chief traditions come from the Eastlands, and are unbelievably
ancient in origin. It is possible that the traditions regarding Saint
Yoruk survive via oral legend from the remnants of the Eastern Empire.
The modern historical community seems to have reached a general
consensus that, while details of the story might have been changed over
the centuries, the bulk of the legends surrounding Saint Yoruk are in
fact historically accurate. Of the many different stories compiled, all
have several elements in common: Yoruk was a simple merchant and
tradesman from an unnamed city, who had apparently grown dissatisfied
with his life, and with the falsehoods in the ruling religion.
THE DESCENT OF SAINT YORUK
The most widely circulating, and perhaps most authentic tale of Yoruk
is that he was a Galepathian born in 353 GUE, and later in life began
his trade as a perfectly obscure mashed potato merchant. Since this
account, derived from one of the most intact of the surviving
manuscripts least tampered with by redactions, and authenticated by the
heretical Zorkastrian church, it is perhaps the most well-sculpted
image of Yoruk we can fashion.
At a young age, it was clear that Yoruk was not cut out for this trade.
His first couple of years as a merchant were incredibly boring,
consisting largely of selling and trading mashed potatoes. This is
fairly typical behavior of mashed potato merchants. In this hackneyed
lifestyle, Yoruk, himself a simple man, grew dissatisfied with his
simple trade, his simple gods, his simple life. He was bored out of his
mind with his job as a mashed potato merchant; for there was little use
for Yoruk’s keen ability to reason and deduce.
Seeking only truth, he prayed to the Implementors, and heard nothing.
He did not take it personally. He understood that he was just yipple
dung to them, a little man among little men. He spent most of his
dreary, though secure, day in a catatonic stupor. “This can’t be it!”
were the last words anyone heard him say before he stormed out of
Galepath’s mashed potato district, flailing his arms wildly.
Bored into a frenzy, Yoruk fled to the shore and stared out at the
Great Sea. It was an endless expanse whose boundaries had never been
explored. What lay beyond the Great Sea? It seemed, to him, the only
great mystery in the world worth solving. He decided to sail across the
Great Sea in search of more stuff.
Yoruk began building himself a raft. He reasoned that if he tied a few
pieces of wood together and held a large bed sheet up with a stick, the
wind would carry him out to sea. He was not sure how he would bring
himself back, but he reasoned that if he was unable to find anything of
interest beyond the horizon, he would not have much interest in
returning home anyway. He went home for just long enough to grab a saw,
a bed sheet and a sack filled with as much mashed potatoes as he could
carry, then headed into the forest to chop down a tree.
In the year 380, Yoruk pushed his raft out to sea. Two days later, his
raft snapped and sank, spelling certain death for its
aquatically-uninclined passenger. But as luck would have it, Yoruk did
not perish. As he sank into the infinite depths, his hand latched onto
a pliant, fleshy growth on the side of some larger body that was
cruising by beneath the surface. Yoruk held on for dear life as the
creature darted through the water, frequently rising to the surface and
allowing Yoruk a chance to breathe. This went on for days, and through
it all, Yoruk maintained his grip on the creature, but was never able
to open his eyes and see what it was that he was riding.
Yoruk finally lost his grip and his consciousness before reaching any
sign of land. But when he awoke after an indeterminate slumber, he was
lying safely on an unknown shore. He had accomplished the feat of
crossing the Great Sea and became the first Quendoran to set foot on
Eastland soil. And in his hand he found a shard of an ivory-like
substance that seemed to have broken off of some giant tooth. It was
exquisitely smooth, as if it had been carved by hand in the shape of a
dagger. He kept it, reasoning that it might be a useful thing to have.
Standing on the shore of the Eastlands, looking out at the water, Yoruk
was quite pleased with himself. He had crossed the infinite sea. He had
stretched the edge of his world by an incredible distance and answered
an ancient question. But he was not content. There were still many more
questions that needed answering. The scientists of Galepath had made
bold attempts at defining the world of Zork, but none were to Yoruk’s
satisfaction. For example, if the world was indeed clinging to the
surface of a giant coconut, why did the water of the Great Sea not fall
off the side? And if diseases were truly caused by so called
on his body, why did they not drown when he bathed? Certainly,
was much more knowledge to be acquired.
But even here, he could find no door to the Heavens, no portals
Planes of Atrii. Because of this, Yoruk found a small, damp cave beside
a mountain in the region just south of what is today called Port
Foozle, and made it his home. He hid himself inside the deep cave.
During the day, he wandered the realm, pondering these questions as he
hunted for food with the help of his trusty dagger. At night he slept
safely in his cave.
One evening, just before going to bed, Yoruk heard a visitor enter his
cave. He quickly doused his fire and crept into a corner. He watched
the visitor step closer, and as it drew near, he was able to make out a
faint silhouette. The visitor was of average height and build, but had
two sharp horns protruding from its forehead, and had enormous,
featherless wings attached to its back. Yoruk soon realized he was
sharing his cave with a demon. Fortunately it seemed to have no
knowledge of his presence. The demon passed right by him and continued
deeper into the cave, faintly lighting the way with the reddish glow it
emitted from its eyes.
As he crouched in his corner, Yoruk reasoned that the cave must be an
entranceway into Hades, and if he quietly followed the demon, he might
be able to gain access into the netherworld. He wanted to speak to the
Devil, and also reasoned, that the Devil, being the Devil, would
probably keep less exclusive company than the all-powerful
Implementors, and would therefore be a pretty good source for the
knowledge that he sought. And he was right.
He followed the sullen, lowly sod of a demon as it crept through the
dark caves, gradually descending deeper beneath the surface world. The
demon went down the forking forks, curving curves, and labyrinthine
labyrinths that lead down into the Underworld—to Hell. Yoruk always
kept a fair distance behind it and was careful not to make any jarring
noises that might alert the demon to his presence. As they descended,
Yoruk was led through breathtaking caverns, gorges and canyons. They
passed areas that were teeming with life of a strange and magical sort.
But Yoruk could only pay quick notice to these things, because the
demon kept a swift pace.
As they descended further, Yoruk noticed that the walls were gaining a
reddish hue, and the heat was reaching a somewhat unbearable level. But
he pressed on, driven by curiosity. When on the third day, the earth
beneath his feet began to glow red-hot with fire, and the stench of
sulfur pierced the air, Yoruk quite rightly assumed that he had finally
reached the gates of the Underworld. As the demon quickened his steps,
a broad stone door flung open – just for a moment – in the darkness.
When the demon slipped past the doors, Yoruk caught upon his cloak and
was pulled inside – the stone clanging shut just behind them. The air
was so thick with black smoke that the Devil, Yoruk reasoned, could not
be far off.
But in his path, demons of all sorts – larger and smaller, lesser and
greater, wily and woolly-headed, pleasant and not – thronged towards
the most immense demon of all. This totally horrific, fire-snarling,
three-headed serpent-beast was a major demon, the grand demon of them
all, the Great Daemon of the Threshold—surrounded by a great ring of
infernal fire, stood between all Hell and the Lord of Lamentation
The gates themselves stood directly behind a large ring of fire and
directly in front of the Great Daemon of the Threshold. As Yoruk’s
demon – a lesser, melancholy sort – approached the Great Daemon of the
Threshold, he reached into the sack it carried at his side and pulled
out a large bronze, ruby shield. It lifted the shield and leapt through
the ring of fire untouched, then through the gates and past the
enormous, fire-snarling, three-headed serpent-beast known as the Great
Daemon of the Threshold. But as the demon was hurrying through the ring
of fire, Yoruk was astonished by this fear. Knowing full-well that it
was beyond the meager skills that he had acquired as a mashed potato
merchant to leap through a ring of fire, he simply stood in awe and
lost his nerve. Yoruk let go of the Demon’s cloak with a yelp –
burnt and fell to the ground. “Oh, ye with the faith of a hungus.”
As he did so, an assortment of ghouls, monsters and other lesser demons
circled around to heckle and jeer in anticipation of his fiery death.
In a dazed stupor, Yoruk did not notice that they were closing in on
him. He neglected to notice their presence at all, for that matter. It
was not until the last moment, just before they began gnawing on his
head, that he realized he had been spotted. Miraculously, Yoruk saw his
chance to save himself from imminent incineration.
Seizing his opportunity, he swung his arms in all directions,
inadvertently poking a giant hellhound in the eye and, in the process,
releasing its vice-like grip on his cranium. He then blindly reached
out and plucked a like bronze shield, stuffed with five brilliant red
rubies, from the side of one of the careless lesser demons in the
throng. After plowing through an assortment of drooling zombies with
his shield raised, he plunged his way through the ring of fire
unscathed. When the flames touched his shield, they fell to his side,
dissipating into pungent black smoke.
Then he dashed through the gates of Hades and almost made it past the
enormous, fire-snarling, three-headed serpent-beast known as the Great
Daemon of the Threshold. When Yoruk came to his senses, he looked up
and realized that the Great Daemon of the Threshold, anticipating his
arrival, had stepped into his path and blocked him with its tremendous
stomach. He lay on the steaming hot ground, at the Great Daemon of the
Threshold’s feet. The Great Daemon laughed as Yoruk scrambled to his
feet, and it laughed when Yoruk pulled out the shard of a giant
that he had found in his hand on the shore of the Eastlands, but it did
not laugh when Yoruk swiftly stuck the shard into its tremendous
The enormous, fire-snarling, three-headed serpent beast known as the
Great Daemon of the Threshold flailed wildly for several minutes,
partially out of pain and suffering, partially out of shock, and
partially because it just enjoyed the melodrama of it all. Regardless,
it eventually laid down, thoroughly dead. Thus, Yoruk, armed only with
the simple blade of a simple merchant, slew the Great Daemon of the
Threshold in his surprise.
Yoruk had no idea that Belegur had been watching his escapades all
along, nor did he know that the Devil was actually quite reasonably
amused. When the Great Daemon finally died, Belegur emerged from the
shadows and brought him down to his lair, allowing Yoruk to form a warm
relationship with him. The two got along splendidly and became very
good friends. In time, Belegur imparted his knowledge to Yoruk of
certain arcane mystical secrets regarding the nature of the elements,
and the forces that bound together the universe. This included the
Great Mysterious of the Cosmos and an extended session on the topic of
Deep Magic, one of the three kinds of magic that flows through the
cosmos, and the one that is commonly linked to the dark ways of those
who dwell in the underworld. Yoruk spent the rest of his life making
good sense out of Hell. This infamous journey has since been verified
and documented by Zork historians.
LATTER YEARS OF SAINT YORUK
Yoruk eventually left Hades and returned to the surface world. Armed
with an implicit understanding of the universe and its workings, Yoruk
made a far better sailor than before, so he was able to construct a new
and much more seaworthy vessel in a very short time. In 406 GUE, he
returned to the shores of Galepath, but instead of marching into the
city and gaining instant fame for his knowledge, he built himself a
modest cottage in the forests of Egreth where he lived out the rest of
his natural life as a hermit where he would behind the workings of what
is today known as the “Books of Saint Yoruk.” His deeper understanding
of the arts of magic and science, he only shared with those close to
him. Within the same year after his retirement, Yoruk was declared a
saint by the Zorkastrian Church.
DEATH OF SAINT YORUK
By 425 GUE, the Books of Saint Yoruk were completed; their pages filled
with many dark revelations. While they are most often cited as the
source of the Great Brogmoid theory, one of the great many things he
learned under the Devil’s tutelage, this is pure deception, as it is a
well-known fact that the Great Brogmoid had been known about even
before the beginning of the Kingdom of Quendor.
And in the same year, when Yoruk’s natural life drew to a close, he
died as most people do, leaving behind his large body of work and a
human-sized body of not-so-ripe flesh and bone. Eventually most of his
flesh and bone disappeared, as is usual with dead bodies.
The legends disagree as to Yoruk's final fate, the most common thread
being that his adventurers continued on well after his death, with his
transcendence to the Ethereal Plane of Atrii, and his strange
encounter with the Implementors. After watching his exploits, these
minor deities took an interest in him and brought him to their far away
realm as a guest. Thus, upon his death, Yoruk found his spirit creeping
upwards to the Implementors, the seraphim and the cherubim—the harmony
and the ecstasy, seemed strangely florid and overwrought to him. He
stayed to talk awhile with the Implementors and found them likeable
enough in their own way, but, surprisingly, was none too impressed with
them. Yoruk politely requested that he be returned to the company of
his good friends in the Underworld, citing differences both aesthetic
and philosophical. The Implementors were terribly offended and refused
to grant him his wish. They resisted until Yoruk decided to head off on
his own to find his way back. Brandishing his sword and the bronze
shield with the five fire rubies, he hacked a path through the Happy
Fields where Joy forever dwells, and was never heard of again, though
his vast knowledge of things Above and Below, as scripted in the many
Books of Saint Yoruk, is truly Enlightenment of a most sensible,
although twisted sort. After his death, his autobiography became an
instant best-seller, and, sometime between 748~966 GUE, the book was
made into a musical called “Yoruk!” starring the incomparable Judy
Though his spirit is said to still wander, his knowledge of Deep Magic
was imprinted within his corpse—retained with his skull. Thus, the
Skull of Saint Yoruk has become one of the most coveted and sought
after relics in all the Empire. Its bearer wields the knowledge and
power of Deep Magic. Some historians believe that the skull has been in
the possession of many celebrated figures throughout history, others
claim from the empty casket where he was buried, that his body returned
with him to Hades and through either some common Hades “body part
routing error”, or just gradual decay as is common with old corpses,
the only thing that time permitted to remain was the skull.
There is unanimous agreement amongst scholars that this skull
eventually ended up in the clutches of the second Dungeon Master in 948
GUE who had found it in the Land of the Living Dead beyond the Gates of
Hades, but it disappeared a short time later and then was not heard for
many years. Other scholars are baffled at how Yoruk’s coffin, along
with his authentic ruby shield found themselves in the Steppinthrax
Monastery before 949 GUE. Whatever the truth may be, modern guardians
of the alchemical secrets still maintain that their knowledge exists
via a direct line of tradition stemming from Yoruk's original descent
into the underground. These stories will be further detailed in the
future, Eru permitting, of course.
PILGRIMAGE TO HADES
By the mid-fifth century, the Books of Yoruk already had grown quite a
following. Those who sought adventure, as Yoruk once had, found it
within his words. Those who sought answers, as Yoruk once had, found
those as well. And those who sought proof of Yoruk’s claims, as much of
Quendor had begun to, built ships to retrace his path. Assuming that
they would not be graced with Yoruk’s incredibly good fortune, it was
required that the crafts be far more seaworthy than his humble raft. A
great number of innovators applied the breadth of technology in the
realm and, in 454 GUE during the reign of Harmonious Fzort, in an
attempt to create Yoruk’s historic journey, the largest fleet of ships
ever assembled embarked on a pilgrimage to the Eastlands.
Most of the ships sank within the first week, and when a sailor on one
of the few overcrowded vessels that remained spotted a land mass on the
horizon, no one dared to ask if it was the one they were looking for.
The currents had brought them to the island of Antharia. While only 959
square bloits in size, the beautiful landscape and near-perfect weather
quickly became known as home to the unwitting colonists. Relying
heavily on the sea’s bounty, they built a quaintly misanthropic
civilization, exhibiting no interest in maintaining contact with the
homeland. They left in search of enlightenment and accidentally found
During the mid-seventh century, a man named Locksmoore recovered
Yoruk's shield and journal. He shared this knowledge with Cornelius
Agrippa. Agrippa would be the first head of the modern alchemical
order, the first in a direct line of succession that stemming from
Yoruk's original descent into the underground. Before his death,
Locksmoore founded an ascetic order of monks that would keep alive the
fire of Yoruk's ancient beliefs until this day.
It is not certain if the Steppinthrax Monastery was founded by
Locksmoore or a later member of his order. This religious establishment
appears to have been built on the spot on where Yoruk descended into
the underworld. Yoruk's empty coffin was placed in the monastery's
catacombs and Yoruk's shield (minus one ruby) was hidden on the
undersize of the cover. Here remained the sea of Zorkastrianism and
heart of the teachings of Yoruk for many centuries.
FRANCOIS MALVEAUX ELECTED BISHOP
One day, exploring the catacombs beneath the Steppinthrax Monastery,
Francois Malveaux 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
SAMPLES OF THE PERVERSE WRITINGS OF
According to Yoruk, all compacts made with the Implementors were
dependant upon human
agency. So reads the Binds of the Mortal from the First Book of Yoruk:
"If thou dost not Hearken
our voices, we will afflict thee with hot and seeting fever. If thou
keep our many Thousand Commandments we will make the lunatic and
a heavy spirit. If thou dost not Observe what is observable we will
thee with palsy so that the enterprises are hindered and thy mouth
thou canst not speak. If thou dost not suffer thy magic to do our will
"The Happy Fields where joy forever dwells cannot hold a candle to the
warmth of the fires that burn in the Underworld. Follow the right
Of the following Zorkastrian
quotes, some may be authentic utterances of Yoruk:
"Flames were all around."
"The holy five red rubies."
"Die a little to live a little."
"The perfect stone."
"Lost forever, the most sought of objects, the shield of Yoruk."
"Down, down, down."
"Anointed by the gods to defeat evil."
"As red as rubies was his blood..."
At least four rocks blessed by St. Yoruk were housed in the vaults of
the Frostham Museum of Modern Arts and Sciences during the Second Age
Some said that the Temple of Agrippa had its origin in or before the
days of Yoruk, but there is no definite way to confirm this assumption.
Yoruk is the subject of a popular ritualistic Zorkastrian prayer of
repentence, known as a "Hail Yoruk".
Both Yoruk's skull and shield are widely sought after relics that have
been used in powerful rituals and events over the course of history.