Level 3

Once again, I ran from the stairs through a door, which closed behind me. I was still in the dungeon, but the air was a little less stale and the stonework appeared to be of low-grade marble interspersed with serpentine. The air was drier here and less harsh on the throat. My spirits lifted momentarily. Perhaps I was close to the exit.

1. After a quick exploration, I decided to head to the east.

2. I soon came to a tower blocking the path. High up I could see a torch and knew a passage led through the tower. So I climbed the western wall opposite the tower and jumped across after climbing to the second alcove.

Then I walked carefully to the edge of this landing and, in the light of the flickering torch, spotted more ledges above me. So I climbed again.

3. Three times I lifted myself up until I stood high above the floor. The western path seemed more inviting, but for some reason I turned again to the east and jumped across a gap to the platform I could dimly perceive on the other side.

4. I stood on a platform just longer than my body. Two small pillars stretched through the darkness to the east, and one showed the telltale signs of a pressure plate. I jumped carefully across the two gaps, and far in the distance to the west, I heard the sound of a gate lifting.

I was about to head back toward the gate, when I thought I saw a platform just east of my position. So I jumped into the darkness to the east.

5. I landed on the platform, but could see no way to continue. I was about to head to the west again, when remembered the loose ceiling tile I had discovered previously. I jumped up and luck was with me, I found one of the stones was loose. It fell, revealing a gap above. It was just past the pillars holding the ceiling up. I climbed up into the gap.

6. There was nothing above but a path stretching to the east. I ran that way.

7. Suddenly I stopped short. My approach had set in motion a diabolical trap- a set of three chopping blades that would surely separate one half of me from the other. A sensible man would have turned and gone the other way, but I did not get into this predicament by being sensible, and I wasn't sure I would get out by being entirely so.

There was no switch that I could see to turn the terrible blades off, but I did notice that they clanked together in a pattern. I waited until the first of the blades was just closing and began to run as fast as I could. By the time I had gained speed, the blades were open again. I kept going and made it through the gauntlet!

Now I climbed up two landings (there being no other way to go), and, although I came to a dead end, I found another of the life-giving elixirs, what I have come to call Life Enhancing Potions. I drank it happily and experienced the same hot/cold sensation followed by an increased sense of my aliveness.

My elation was quickly dampened by the realization that I would have to backtrack through the chopping blades. I could see from their pattern that I could not rush headlong through them as I had on the way into this trap. But by stepping very carefully up to each one and waiting until just the right moment I was able to get through the first two sinister traps. I ran with relief through the third.

5. I dropped through the gap in the floor and headed west, jumping across the gap and back onto the pressure plate I had stood on before.

4. Again, I heard the sound of the distant gate and realized that I would have to find it. But it was far away, and would close before I reached it if I did not hurry.

Quickly, I jumped across the two narrow gaps, and when I landed on the widest of the platforms, I started running right away, jumping as I reached the edge.

3. As I landed again on the solid pathway, I heard the sounds of the gate already beginning to close. I ran as fast as I could.

8. Up ahead I spied another gap, and without hesitating, I jumped it while in a dead run and continued on toward the gate ahead.

9. The gate was almost closed! I ran as fast as I could, hardly seeing the gap that lay ahead of me. At the last instant, I leapt as hard as I could. I felt the stone beneath my feet drop away, but had no time to worry about it. I stretched out my hands, seeking a grip on the ledge beneath the gate. For an eternity I sailed through the dusty air until finally, with a wrench that nearly took my arms off, I caught hold of the distant wall. I heard the slithering hiss of spikes appearing below me, but had no time to look down. I pulled with all my might, and just managed to roll under the closing gate.

10. I stood, breathing heavily, nearly spent. I had made it but it had been a close call! Death had awaited me and I had barely escaped it. I hoped my escape from this dungeon would come soon. Allah grant that it not get any worse!

There was a healing potion on the ground in front of me, but, fortunately, I had no need of it. I continued west, there being no other way to go now.

11. As I continued my exploration, I passed a pile of bones - a grim reminder that others before me had tried... and failed. But perhaps some had succeeded. I had to believe it possible!

Another gate blocked my way to the west, but it opened with a pressure plate and I continued, leaving the skeleton behind - but not for long!

12. I passed a single blade trap without difficulty and dropped down a series of landings until I came to a long hallway.

13. At the end of the hallway I spotted a pressure plate. I stepped on it and heard the familiar sound of stone sliding on stone. The sound came from below me, and I guessed that the exit door was there.

I could see no way to get down to the door from here. However, I backtracked, climbing back up the maze of short landings until I had returned to the single blade trap.

12. As I climbed, I pushed on a pressure plate and heard a gate opening to the east. I watched the blade as I climbed and realized that I could run right through it without hesitation, which I did.

11. I almost met my doom as I ran through the gate and jumped down to the lower platform. I gave no thought to the old skeleton lying there, but, the moment my feet touched the ground, the pile of bones clattered to its feet and brandished a sword that also seemed to be made of bone. It was sharp, though. I could see that I just had time to draw my sword and strike before the skeleton got me. It was fast, but I made it retreat. When I struck the monster, it seemed momentarily to break into pieces, but some unnatural force kept knitting it back together, and it attacked me relentlessly.

My arm grew tired from whacking this creature without any result. Each time I would connect, a dry, rattling sound would emanate from the skeleton and it would back up. But it came forward again almost immediately.

Finally, I drove my undead opponent backward off a ledge, and it fell soundlessly. I heard its brittle body hit the ground and thought, that's done. Breathing more easily for the moment, I sheathed my sword and followed the skeleton's path, carefully climbing down in the hopes of finding the exit door from this hellish place.

Translator's Note:
Here, there are two distinct versions of the Prince's story. One is decidedly more entertaining than the other and shows the remarkable resourcefulness of this legendary hero. However, in the interests of historical accuracy I have included both verstons.

Version 1

14. The fiend was waiting for me! It got a good stroke on me before I could strike back. Would I never be done with this creature? I attacked furiously, angry at its sneak attack! I struck mercilessly, again and again, until the creature stepped on a loose floor stone and, once again, fell soundlessly into a dark chasm.

This time, I did not follow the skeleton's path, which seemed to lead to certain death, but leapt over the chasm and jumped down to a floor beyond. I headed further west, seeking the door.

Version 2

11. I climbed down at the ledge and peered into the flickering light below me. I thought I saw a form move down below, and quickly pulled myself back up.

Again I lowered myself and looked down. This time I saw more clearly. The fiendish skeleton was still alive! And when it saw me it tried to get as close as it could to me. I pulled myself up again. I had to think.

Several times I lowered myself, spotted my bony adversary, and hauled myself up again. However, I had a method to my madness. I saw that the brainless creature below would eventually run past me and I would be able to drop behind it and make my escape.

And so it was! I outwitted the monster by dropping down behind it, and ran to the west, leaving it clacking its bones together angrily.


13. Luck was with me, at last! I found the door just ahead, and it was open, revealing yet another staircase. Would this lead to freedom?

Continue to Chapter 3: The Dungeon (Level 4)
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