The Hexlexl Quest - By Rosy

     There are times when the Great Yudonke River meanders and there are times when it goes in a straight line. It is the meandering course where we land this time, since Rover allows lady luck to choose our landing sights. It is particularly beautiful, lined with trees and meadows and hillocks, while the river is deep and gentle, following its back and forth meander. 

   The Rivitir is configured as a two deck paddle-wheeler, one of our favorite configurations while on the Yudonke. She goes easily in the current as Brak holds the wheel, Jant is watching radars and sonar stuff. I'm Capt. Rosy and as Captain I feel an immense comfort in cruising the Yudonke with my loyal crew. Steddy is our bot crew member and he doesn't have a specific job except to learn everyone's job as a back-up in case anything happens to anybody. Ellim, our service bot keeps us supplied with beverages and anything else that we might need, before we even know ourselves as a rule. This is a tight ship and I am right to be proud. I resist the urge to stand heroically on the prow, head held high with my raised arm holding a sword and pointing the way.

   "Thank heavens for that," Rover commented from the floor where he was looking at the maps he'd unrolled there.

   "Huh?" I said, looking at Rover with wide eyes. "What'd you say?"

   "What?" he replied, looking up at me. I was silent, unsure how to proceed. I think he'd read my mind but as usual I'm not really sure. He shrugged. "Anyway, take a look at this map." He pointed to the map in front of him. It was a map showing the section of the Yudonke that we were on, the meandering, aimless section. "See that bend there?" He pointed to a particular spot. "That's where the zombie god Hexlexl is said to have a branch office."

   I peered at the map. "Why does a god have a branch office?" I asked.

   "Oh, they all do it. Can't be everywhere at once you know."

   I nodded.

   "Well," he continued, "this might be worth checking out. They say he's influencing the vote on the Dinosaur Planet's new name." 

    "Where'd you hear that?"

   "Tonker. You remember Tonker, don't ya?"

   "Yes, heck yes, that young pteranodon fellow. He was with us for awhile."

   "That's right. Well he's some sort of a leader there now and well, we sorta stayed in touch."

   "How'd you do that?" I asked. The Dinosaur Planet was in another dimension and it was quite tricky communicating between dimensions.

   "Jant's come up with a phone that'll communicate with the Dinosaur Planet." He looked modest, "I showed her how to get through, of course, then she put in the system, the wiring, so to speak."

   "Wow, that's impressive," I said, genuinely impressed. Rover, our navigator, has managed to make interdimensional travel easy. For us at least. Thing is, we're not sure how he does it and given the number of times we've landed in places that we had no intention of going to, I don't think he does either. He knows enough to manage but there's still a lot of mystery. The only other interdimensional travel going on right now is through Bradco's Interdimensional Travel Pods (ITP).

   "So you've been talking to Tonker?"

   "Yeah. He wants us to meet him here." He pointed to a spot upstream to Hexlexl's place.

   "What for?"

   "Because we're now part of the Hexlexl Quest."

   "Oh." I don't know how I felt about that. Seems like the Captain should have some say in policy. Then again, the Hexlexl Quest does sound rather exciting. We've never come up against a zombie before, although Rover says he's not really a zombie, just one of those near-death experience people. It seems to have changed him profoundly though; into a god for one but also into one who lusts for power. A power hungry god. This did not sound good. 

   We met Tonker and Philban at the prearranged spot. They'd come in on a Bradco ITP, which is sort of scary since you have to go into a pod where they close the door behind you then you hear some buzzing and the clanking of massive engines until slowly the door in front of you opens and you wheel, or walk or whatever out into a different dimension. I thought they looked a bit frazzled but ready to go. We boarded the Rivitir and made our way downstream, moving slowly past the Hexlexl compound which we studied carefully, somewhat discreetly. We gaped but tried to hide it.

   The compound was a large fortress made of rough hewn rock. A giant arch in the center appeared to be the way in. All the windows were six sided and closed. There were six sided shields above the arch with a symbol like this: Ѝ on them.

   "Dang, that place looked scary," Tonker said when we were safely past the fortress.

   "I'll say," Rover agreed.

   "I couldn't see any entrances except the front door," I said, "probably some around back, but in any case I think we should just arrive as tourists, you know, out in the open, just seeing the sights and spotted this lovely castle."

   "Yeah, I think so too," Tonker said, "but should we all go?"

   We did have a large party; three elves, a dog, two pteranodons, and a robot.

   "Hmmm, I see what you mean," I said, nodding. "If things got ugly we'd want some reserves standing by."

   "Yeah, that makes sense," Rover agreed, "except I sort of think a large group would have more opportunity to poke around."

   "Keep them preoccupied with a large group," I said, pondering. "Well, how about this, we leave Brak and Jant here while the rest of us go and confront this god?"

   "A pilot and a radar specialist back up. Yeah, let's do this," Tonker said with a confidant smile.

   Ten minutes later our group, consisting of Rover, Tonker, Philban, Steddy and myself left the Rivitir, leaving Brak and Jant at the helm, and began walking upstream to the fortress. It was about a twenty minute walk and we used the time to examine every aspect of our surroundings as much as we could. All we knew about Hexlexl is that they are behind the Klaxenglot name rebellion, which is how I came to think of it. A rebellion to render the voters of the Dinosaur Planet irrelevant and force a name that an apparently renegade god has chosen instead.

   The walk along the great Yudonke River was relatively easy. Small water-rounded stones and gravel mostly, only getting muddy down by the water. The river here is narrow, just about a kilometer across, and quite deep. Inland is forest, mostly large deciduous trees with a fairly open floor. Seemed very pleasant. As we neared the fortress I saw a couple ogres and a troll in the forest but they quickly hid. With Rover leading the way we marched boldly up to the front door where Rover pounded out some of his 'THIS IS THE POLICE! OPEN UP!' knocks. Loud and authoritative.   

   Inside an irate voice screamed, "What the hale?" We looked at each other with round eyes. Then there was a rhythmic dragging sound until finally the door creaked open. There appeared a small ogre with an angry demeanor. "What's going on out here?" he screamed. "Who's making all the racket?" We all stepped back in fright. Ogre's are especially scary to us because they come from human stock, like the Grimn-Leapers. He was brandishing a shiny sword that he waved back and forth as he spoke. "Speak up! Or I'll slice you all into a thousand pieces!"

   We saw no reason to doubt him so I stepped up and told our story.

   "Sorry!" I began. "We didn't mean to cause a ruckus, it's just that, well, we're tourists seeing the Great Yudonke River, innocent tourists that mean no harm." I sort of regretted Rover's resounding knocks now. The ogre continued to glare at me. "We uh, we saw your castle here and thought wow, it'd be great to see that, you know?" He continued to glare but he lowered his sword part way.

   Suddenly he spoke in a slow, ultra-bass voice, "Wud yu wont?" I'm sure I felt a vibration in the ground with each word he spoke.

   "We're just sight-seeing," I responded, trying to use my Captain Voice, stalwart and strong. "you know, seeing the sights and, well this castle here is quite a sight . . ." I stopped as the horrid creature had turned and walked away, disappearing into the castle's dark interior. Curiously, he left the giant wooden door open.

   "Well, that looks like an invitation to me," I said, trying to sound chipper.

   "It does?" Philban asked.

   "We want to get in there right?" I pointed out. "And here's an open door with no one blocking it." I gave Rover a slight nudge. I could hear him growling low like he does when he's upset but he began walking into the dark castle. We followed. As we walked we got lighter and lighter until we were floating. We could move by pulling ourselves along on rings that were mounted on the wall in regular intervals which we did, and eventually arrived at what for all the world looked like the control center of a large spaceship. We floated slack-jawed and stupid as the Captain's chair slowly swiveled around toward us. There, grinning wide, sat Brad Puffup, CEO of Bradco Inc and arch-criminal.

   "Well, well, well," he said, "here's my old pal Rover. And aren't you Capt. Rosy? You've brought a lively bunch Rover. What's going on?"

   "That's what we want to know," Rover growled, "and we were never friends, Brad."

   "Oh Rover. That makes me so sad. But I still don't get what you're looking for."

   Tonker stepped forward. "Klaxenglot," was all he said, in a loud, stentorian voice.     

   Brad looked at him with pleasant surprise. "Klaxenglot? Your planet's new name, is it not, pteranodon?"

   "No it is not," Tonker replied.

   "The magnons liked it," Brad told him with a sneer.

   "The magnons comprise less than one tenth of the planet's population," Steddy said forcefully. "They don't get to choose the name without the other inhabitants agreeing, and we don't!"

   "You all voted for it, bot."

   "Mesmerized Puffup, no one meant to vote for it. We hadn't even heard of it before," Rover barked.

   "Hmm? How could anyone do that?" he asked in mocking tones.

   "That's why we're looking for Hexlexl," I put in.

   "Ah, Captain. So you seek a god?"

    "Whatever he calls himself, Puffup, we are looking for him," I answered.

   He sighed. "Well this is a branch of his church so I can see why you came, but," he paused, "unfortunately he's not here."

   "Where's he at?" Tonker demanded.

   "What's your name, bird?" Brad asked with a scowl.

   "I'm Tonker. Now where's Hexlexl?"

   "Gee, you're in a foul mood, Tonker," Brad replied, with a deeper scowl.

   "We're all in foul moods, Puffup!" Rover growled.

   Brad paused, seeming to speculate. "So, you want Hexlexl do you?" He smiled a sly smile. "Well, let's see what we can do." He picked up a wooden mallet of some sort and swung it around at a small round bronze-colored bell that was in a harness by his chair. It was connected top and bottom so it wouldn't just float away but it could still ring as we quickly found out. Brad gave it a strong wallop and a monstrously loud ringing ensued. Brad smiled at our discomfort as we covered our ears, helpless to move away. Then there were lightning flashes from a cloud that had suddenly appeared and a strange creature emerged. It walked stiffly and its eyes were glowing red.

   "Who dares awaken me?" it said in deadly tones. I looked over and wasn't surprised to see that Brad was gone. This new creature was scary.       

   "Who are you?" Rover asked.

   "Step back, that you aren't blinded by my magnificence," the creature said in rather haughty tones. "For I am the great god Hexlexl of the zombies." Now he was glowing, sort of an orange glow that somehow conveyed great menace. He looked at me. "So, what do you want?"

   Tonker spoke up. "We want no more mesmerizing of anyone on the Dinosaur Planet when next we go to vote." Hexlexl turned his baleful gaze to Tonker.

   "Klaxenglot?" Rover added. Where'd you get that?"

   The god's eyes went round, then he seemed to grow in size until he was the tallest in the control room.

   "You dare question this holy name?" Hexlexl shrieked.

   "Just wondered where it came from is all," Rover answered in a calm voice.

   Hexlexl started spinning and shrieking incoherently, then he started to emit smoke until a greenish cloud enveloped him. The cloud slowly dissipated revealing the ogre who had answered the door.

   "It's what Mama wants," the ogre said in a gravelly voice.

   "Who're you?" Rover barked.

   "Hexlexl. I thought you knew."

   "So who was that last guy?" Rover asked.

   "I am a god, dog . . . I have many forms," Hexlexl snarled.

   "Okay, so who's mama?" I asked.

   He looked at me with solemn yet disbelieving eyes. "Mama is the supreme mother of all. She is the ground, she is the sky, she is the very air we breath. Mama is Klaxenglot."   

   "Gosh. Are you talking about the planet itself?"

   "Yes, Mama whose holy name is Klaxenglot, she is the very planet I'm standing on." He paused. "She chose me because her name was left out of the vote and I, well, I can er, influence people."

   "You can mesmerize everyone on a planet? All of a planet's people?" I asked incredulously.

   "Ma'am, I am a god. This is getting tiring."

   "You talk to her? You talk to Mama?" Tonker asked.

   "Yes, of course. All the gods do, it's sort of our special thing."

   "I see, so what if we held another vote that included Klaxenglot, and all of her information was disseminated like we did for the other names."

   He paused with his eyes shut. Then the green mist around him began to thicken. Just as he was about to disappear into the cloud, he spoke, "Mama says yes." Then he was gone. I was pretty sure that meeting had been a materialization that had been projected from the Dinosaur Planet to us here on Yudonke because he mentioned 'this planet I'm standing on' when talking about Klaxenglot, like that's where he was actually at, which I think he was. Also that's where a god like Hexlexl would have to stay, close to the source, close to Mama, close to Klaxenglot.

   We floated for awhile. We knew we should return immediately to the Rivitir and back to Pteran to establish a new vote, yet we lingered.

   "I've never seen a dashboard like that before," Rover said. "Too bad Brak's not here. He might understand it. How about you Captain?

   "No, I've never seen anything like it," I answered.

   "Nor could you, this is a Bradco original," Brad said as he glided into the room. "This is the all new and ultra advanced Bradco Hyper-All-Vehicle 111 Damfaster." He was quite proud.

   We were all gaping at this point. "You made a Hyper-All-Vehicle?" I asked, shocked and dismayed, for this was the next step in All-Vehicle evolution, the Hyper-All-Vehicle or HAV. I was excited and wanted to know more, but with a wave of his hand he dismissed us. "Out you go now. You got to meet with Hexlexl, a rare privilege, and I believe this meeting has solved a lot of your problem's, yeah? Now, if you'll excuse me I have work to do." An ogre appeared to escort us out, the same ogre, I think, that originally greeted us. I wondered if this was Hexlexl in butler form?

   "No," the ogre said to no one and maybe to everyone when we reached the door. He was silent as we bid him adieu and returned to the Rivitir. It was good to have gravity again. Brak and Jant were really happy to see us. We told them everything as Brak reconfigured the Rivitir into a flying saucer which we then used to take Tonker and Philban back to the Dinosaur Planet. We're going to stay for the next vote, as we're all very curious to see if Hexlexl kept his word or not.

   I am also concerned about Bradco's new HAV. There was sort of a competition between Grandma Hortense and Brad Puffup and we were rooting for Grandma since Brad was a CEO and arch-criminal.

   A few days later a new vote was announced with the names submitted being Holler, Niceplace, Greenwater and Klaxenglot. After learning the details about Mama a lot of people voted for her name, more than we expected and Klaxenglot again won the vote. It appeared to be totally honest this time with Pterans generally going for Greenwater, T-Rexes pretty reliably with Niceplace, and sasquatches with Holler while the magnons, along with all the various members of each nation who felt the planet ought to be able to name herself, were solidly behind Klaxenglot, enough in fact that Klaxenglot was again the winner.

   Philban was depressed. "I think we should have stuck with Pteranodonia," he wailed. Tonker nodded and smiled, staying silent, for he had voted for Klaxenglot too.

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