This is definitely not The Neverending Story!

This story was probably read sometime in the last millennium (possibly in the 1980s) in a science fiction or fantasy magazine that probably had large pages like most fanzines. It could have have been a fanzine but I think it was a professional magazine.

The young protagonist in the story whose name I forget spent months or years at the court of the fictional child Empress Y'golnac, or however her named was spelled, (reigning over a fictional empire whose name I forget) long enough that she may have become the teen Empress Y'golnac or even the adult Empress Y'golnac. And I don't remember if the protagonist ever met the empress.

The story may have been part of a series since I remember that at the end the protagonist departed the court and it was said that his education was complete. I remember thinking that his education to become a wandering rouge, swashbuckler, thief, assassin, adventurer, or mercenary seemed rather complete, but his education to become a wandering philosopher, tradesman, scholar, missionary, wizard, or any sort of a good and useful person, seemed woefully incomplete.


It's possible this is the first story from Samuel R. Delany's collection Tales of Nevèrÿon. If so the child empress' name is Ynelgo and the youth's name is Gorgik.

The story The Tale of Gorgik is much the same as you describe. The summary on Wikipedia is:

In his youth Gorgik is one of the “brown, respectable” people of Kolhari, the major port of Nevèrÿon. When he is sixteen, because of a radical takeover of the government, Gorgik is captured and taken as a slave to work in an obsidian mine—not all the slaves are blond, blue-eyed barbarians. But the ones who are darker-skinned generally fare better than those who are not. Soon Gorgik is a mine foreman. When he is twenty-one, Gorgik is purchased by the Vizerine Myrgot as her lover and is taken to live in the castle of the Child Empress Ynelgo, back in Kolhari, where he gets his first taste of the advantages (and disadvantages) of life among royalty. Eventually the Vizerine frees him and secures him a commission in the army. Finally, however, Gorgik becomes an outlaw, for a while even working as a guard for a slave pen. But he is so disgusted by what he sees there that he goes back to being an outlaw, working to free all the slaves of Nevèrÿon, no matter their color. To this end, he makes use of some of the friendships he made while living at the court.

So it contains all the elements you describe.

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  • Good work. I guess my memory of where I read is a little wrong. I'm pretty sure I didn't read Tales of Neveryon so I probably read "The Tale of Gorgik" in its first publcation in Asimov's SF Adventure Magazine, summer 1979. – M. A. Golding Feb 2 '19 at 17:12

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