Illustrations by the monks
at Steppinthrax, circa 945 GUE

   Yoruk's coffin, Steppinthrax (A) / (B)
   Shield hanging inside coffin
   Book of Saint Yoruk, 949 GUE


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 dismiss the 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 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 ‘germs’ on his body, why did they not drown when he bathed?  Certainly, there was much more knowledge to be acquired.

 But even here, he could find no door to the Heavens, no portals to the 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 himself.

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 – he was 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 tooth 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 stomach.

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.

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.

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 Garlic.

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.

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 paradise instead.

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.

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 Inquisitor.


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 unto our voices, we will afflict thee with hot and seeting fever. If thou dost not keep our many Thousand Commandments we will make the lunatic and affected with a heavy spirit. If thou dost not Observe what is observable we will dissolve thee with palsy so that the enterprises are hindered and thy mouth stopped that thou canst not speak. If thou dost not suffer thy magic to do our will we..."

"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 path."

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 of Magic.

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.