The Lakeview Chamber of Commerce
Something a Little Different
Martin F. Melhus
Cast of Characters:
"Let the judgment begin," intoned the great lizard. "Will the subject state
his name and summarize his life."
"Human, that is you."
"Oh, sorry. Right. (Hmmm, state name and summarize ..., hold on, I ...)
O.K. I am Phroboque Lizard Khan. I rule the Lizard -"
"WAS Phroboque Lizard Khan"
"Yes, um, I suppose so. I rule, well, ruled the Lizard People."
"That's it, eh?"
"Well, it was hard. Lots of decisions and tough choices to make."
"And you had no advisors, sages, wazirs, or assistants?"
"Sure, I had plenty of them. But, ...."
"And they helped with the tough choices?"
"Umm, yes. Well, really they ..."
"Made all the decisions, and then told you what to say?"
"Umm, yes. That would sum it up, I suppose."
"So how hard can being the Lizard Khan have been?"
"Well, I had to be a figurehead. The people all looked up to me."
"Because you could fly?"
"Yes, I could ..., no wait, I mean they looked to me as a role model, as an
expression of their beliefs about the world, and the Lizard Tribe's place in
"Umm, well, maybe. But it sounded good when I just said it."
"You will find that the loss of the material body changes more than your
physical self. The illusions that you became so comfortable with that you
couldn't even see them melt away here like beeswax in a forge. So you were a
figurehead to the Lizard People? And you died leading them in battle?"
"Umm, no. I wasn't ..., but I was on a secret mission to try and subvert the
enemies that were harassing our kingdom."
"So let me see if I have this straight. You, the mighty Lizard Khan, were on
a secret mission?"
"Um, yeah. I was in disguise."
"Disguise. Interesting. This was your idea?"
"Umm, no. I think Hershomish thought that ...."
"No, of course not. Really, now. Think about it. Your people are being
raided by the army of a neighboring nation, so you, the mighty Lizard Khan,
go in disguise to try and subvert them. Clever. Now what was really
"Do you mean that Hershomish ...."
"Yes, to get you out of the way. You succeed, great. You fail, so what.
You die, no skin off his back. You really weren't born to be a ruler, were
"Umm, no. Not at all. I didn't even want to do it. It was thrust upon me."
"Well, they made me take the job. I would have been happier traveling,
drinking some, figuring out my own path, not forced ...."
"And your life was all about your happiness?"
"When you put it that way, I suppose that ...."
"Let's get back to your death. What were those details again?"
"Um, well, so I was in disguise, as some fat merchant, and working for the
Lakeview Chamber of Commerce."
"That's exactly what I said. But Papa Lozano and these other, umm, people (I
suppose,) were sending us on these strange missions, and I was trying to
subvert the army ...."
"And you were going on these missions to subvert the army?"
"No, well, yes, well, not really, you see, they were part of the disguise,
these missions. So we first checked out the temple of the Blue Mushroom cult
(or something like that, it was kind of a blur after the wizard knocked us
out.) and then we were supposed to go to another temple and get some Demon
Amulet, for some unexplained reason. So first we meet, well before that, we
is me and this Golan Elderberry fellow. We meet General Gorgo the Goblin,
who has a flying carpet. I get a crystal ball so we can talk to the council,
and the Goblin flies us up to Thareo ...."
"I think so. Or maybe it was Tharco. Places and people seem so distant
"They are. More than you can know. Continue."
"So the goblin creep won't talk to us on the trip up there, and then drops us
off at this ruined temple place. There's an open circle with stairs down and
some awful demon statue in the middle. We mess around a bit, and then decide
to go down. The statue is blackened and weathered, and doesn't have an
amulet on its neck. We're pretty disappointed, me especially, as my chances
for subverting the army way out here are pretty small. So one of us spits on
the statue, and the other kicks it. Nothing happened, so we decided that we
could either make camp or search. We search, and find a hidden passage in
the base of the statue. Incredibly trite, don't you think?"
"No, it was there for a reason."
"And what was that?"
"We'll get to that later. Proceed with your tale."
"So we open the passage, and proceed downward into a large round room. The
central feature of this room is a large statue of a beaked stone head thing.
There's also a stench of sulphur, and a double door. So we head through a
double door, and enter the room of fractured frescoes."
"This was your name for that room?"
"Hell no. It's just that all the frescoes were cracked. I don't know where
the alliteration came from."
"Never mind then. Go on."
"So we look around, and there's this alcove that lets you stand sort of
behind the beaked stone head thing, and the acoustics are such that one could
stand there and perhaps speak, and it might sound like the statue was
speaking. Other than that we found nothing of interest, and then we
searched, and found more nothing of interest. So we head back to the first
room and search there. Now the fumes are starting to really bother me, and
just then Golan finds a secret door. So we head through, and find a corridor
filled with this yellow mold-like substance ...."
"So it was yellow mold?"
"I suppose so. So we figure OK, let's go, and we hold our breath, and head
across it. Then it knocks us both unconscious. We're both holding our
breath, see. Who would figure that mold would have a stun attack?"
"Well, if you had, you probably wouldn't be here."
"I suppose so. So then I never really woke up fully, although I do have some
recollection of something eating at my soul. Can you help me out here?"
"After the two of you were knocked unconscious by the mold, a spectre came
wandering through. In its continual quest for life essence, it ate your
soul, and then attempted to eat Doink's, but Doink woke up ...."
"Doink? Who is this Doink?"
"You knew him as Golan."
"So he lied about his name?"
"Yes. You of course told him that you were the Lizard Khan."
"Umm, no. I was in disguise, see."
"Yes, so you say. Now, Doink woke up as the spectre attacked him, and then
grabbed your sword and dispatched it. Quite easily, I might add."
"It's a really great sword. Sword of the Lizard Khan. Never lost a fight
"It is far more than that. That sword was molding history to its desire long
before the first Lizard Khan crawled from his mother's womb. But I digress.
After defeating the spectre, your soul began to rise out of the body as a new
spectre, and Doink dispatched that as well. He then decided to abandon the
mission, take all your possessions, and return to his people, the mermen."
"That no-good double crosser. I trusted him."
"Not one of your better choices. But all of this serves a purpose."
"How's that, now?"
"Hershomish will discover that the possessions of the Lizard Khan are now
held by the mermen of Sprengen. He will weave a glorious saga of how you came to
them to form an alliance, and they treacherously killed you and stole your
possessions. Meanwhile, said mermen will use their newfound power,
generously provided by said possessions, to launch a new set of offensives
against Vindstadt. This will require the army to withdraw from their
campaigns against the Lizard People and defend the city. At first, there
will be talk that you are leading the mermen, but the tale of your demise
will quell these stories. The Lizard Tribe will then ally with Vindstadt in
this war, both having a common enemy. And so the wheel turns."
"Wow. So I suppose that I succeeded in my mission. That's something, then."
"No, you didn't, and it isn't."
"Well, what of me then?"
"Let us continue with the judging. Tell me of your childhood, ...."