The Legend of Zachbar and Coyote
as told by Elder Pavaro Kheti of Clan Fengraesi
Collected by Master Historian Barnold Gameltar of Greysham University, during his travels with the Fengraesi Clan in the Southern Desert.
In the beginning, Zachbar, the first man, had dominion over the surface of Ereth. He looked to the welfare of all things above ground, for they were of his domain. All the creatures of Ereth answered to Zachbar as their ruler. He sat on the Council of the Gods and was equal to them in all rights.
The evil god, Gorach the trickster, was jealous of Zachbar. He thought no mere man should have such favor. Gorach plotted to take him prisoner and make him a slave in the underworld. He sent Coyote, a creature of Zachbar, to tell him of a beautiful woman who wished to meet with him.
She presented herself as a helpless captive in the underdark and begged to plead her case. Having heard of his standing on the council of Gods, she said that she prayed that he could help her. Zachbar listened to Coyote and agreed to speak with the woman, Lialu.
Coyote led Zachbar deep into the forbidding caverns of Magyarovscki. He led him through dark, twisting paths until Zachbar became lost. He knew that he could no longer return without Coyote's lead. They traveled for many days, deep into the labyrinth of tunnels and caves.
At last they came to the dwelling place of Lialu and Zachbar did indeed find her most beautiful. Lialu's long, luxurious black hair gleamed in the candlelight. Her eyes shown like the darkest of amethysts and her full red lips were moist and sensuous. Her voluptuous body, clothed only in a long, wine-red skirt of heavy silk, was more enticing than Zachbar could ever have imagined.
She plied Zachbar with strong drink and spoke sweetly until Zachbar listened to her every word with believing ears. She pleaded with Zachbar, telling him of her longing to live under the warm sun of Ereth. She told him how she longed to feel the breezes on her skin and the cool grasses under her feet. Sobbing, she said that she sorely missed the singing of the birds. She told Zachbar that her cruel husband, Gorach, kept her prisoner in the underdark. Zachbar took pity on her plight. He promised to help her make an escape and to take her to the surface and make her his wife.
That night he lay with Lialu in her bed. When he awoke in the morning, he saw her body uncovered. Her legs were covered in coarse, black hair and instead of human feet, she had cloven hooves. Then Zachbar knew that he had been tricked. She was truly a creature of this underdark and would never leave with him and be his wife. He was repelled by her grotesqueries and ashamed that he had allowed himself to be seduced by such a creature.
Zachbar commanded Coyote to lead him from the caverns before Lialu awoke, but Coyote refused. He laughed, showing Zachbar the moonstone given to him by Gorach for betraying Zachbar.
Too late, Zachbar realized that Coyote had been bribed. He offered him a silver star on a silver chain if he would lead him from the labyrinth. Coyote was greedy; he wanted the beautiful necklace. Zachbar put the star around Coyotes neck.
Lialu awoke; seeing Zachbar with Coyote, she feared she would lose their prize. She called out for her husband, Gorach, to come and claim him. Gorach's evil laughter could be heard echoing in the caverns. His heavy footsteps came closer and closer.
Coyote, in fear, ran away through the twisting tunnels, leaving Zachbar behind. Zachbar could only follow him by the glint of the silver star. Finally, they reached the surface where Gorach could not follow. Zachbar was free. He confronted Coyote with his betrayal. Coyote groveled before Zachbar. He begged his forgiveness.
Zachbar, in his anger, cursed Coyote - all would know of his deceit and no creature would ever trust Coyote or welcome him or his kind. He must forever scavenge for his livelihood and be an outcast among the creatures of Ereth.
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