As I ran up this latest staircase, I had a momentary vision of the Princess. She lay exhausted on her pallet, staring at the sand in the hourglass as it emptied steadily, relentlessly, hastening her doom. The sand in the upper half had lowered perceptibly. Time was passing too quickly. Could I escape in time?
Level 4

When I reached the end of the stairway I came through a door, which, as usual, slammed behind me. But I hardly noticed. I was no longer in the dim and forbidding dungeon. I appeared to be in one of the palace wings. Had I truly escaped? Was I now free? I knew that freedom meant danger, for every guard in the palace was my enemy.

1. I quickly found a pressure plate that opened the western gate. To the east was a closed gate, and beyond it, a guard. I headed west.

2. I ran across several pressure plates and through another gate leading still to the west.

3. I was in a great hallway. A gate blocked the western exit, but I spotted two pressure plates and guessed that one opened and the other closed the gate. I stepped on the first and avoided the second, but when I stepped on the floor next to the gate, it began to fall. My momentum carried me forward, but I thought I heard the sound of a distant gate opening back to the east.

4. Just as I began to feel safe, I felt the floor give out beneath my feet again, I caught myself before I could fall, and lifted myself back to the solid floor. Another high gate greeted me to the west, but I could see no pressure plate. I walked all the way to the wall beneath the gate and heard another floor stone fall behind me. Suddenly the gate began to open. I guessed that the stone had triggered something. I had no complaints. I continued to the west.

5. Just behind a blade trap I found another Life Enhancement Potion, which I greedily drank. There seemed to be no exit from this place, however, so I returned the way I had come.

2. I came to the area just west of the entrance and this time chose the lower path, leading east.

6. I dropped down into a low hallway, dimly lit with torches. I continued to head east.

7. I spotted a healing potion on a lower alcove, but had no need of it, so I continued on my way.

8. Ahead of me was a single blade trap, and behind it, a guard. In an alcove below I spotted another healing potion, but I had no need of it. I stood hesitantly at the edge of a short gap.

"Which blade do you want to taste, young cur?" called the guard. Another talkative one! And another insult!

"Why don't you sample them for me?" I replied. "Or should I introduce you to a friend of mine, O consort of jackals?"

"You have a nasty tongue, O swine-dressed-as-a-man, it will be my pleasure to cut it out."

At this time, I made up my mind. I leapt across the gap, just as the deadly blades were snapping shut. They opened as I reached them and I landed just past their mortal embrace. The guard, seeing his opportunity, charged forward. I had to fight furiously to push him back as he tried to force me back into the biting teeth of the trap!

"You are an even poorer swordsman than you are a talker," he taunted, but the blood on his tunic belied his insult. I said nothing. I had seen a way to turn the tables on my enemy.

I charged forward, blocking his blows, until we stood hlit to hilt. Our eyes locked, even as our swords were thus engaged, and I quickly spun around him. Now the deadly blades were at his back!

I would gladly have turned and run at this point to avoid another senseless death, but I knew I would not get two steps before he would cut me down from behind. So I advanced, forcing him toward the snapping razors.

He fought furiously, fear giving him renewed strength. I parried his wild blows, then thrust forward with a final, telling lunge. He had made his choice of blades - the same choice he had offered me. It was justice of a sort. I turned my back to him and ran to the east.

9. My path suddenly ended at a wall. I turned and climbed up some ledges on the western face of a chasm.

10. Twice I climbed the ledges until I stood in an arched and colonnaded hallway. I decided to head east, so I turned and jumped across the gap in that direction.

11. I continued to run east jumping over a spike trap at the last instant.

12. I came through an open gate and almost ran into the guard there. He seemed less surprised than I. Perhaps he had heard me coming. I drew my sword quickly Without any of the customary banter, we laid into each other.

I felt that should I survive and rescue the Princess, I would have to speak with the Sultan about the quality of his guards. This one fell as easily as the others, though he was a bit tougher. It took four solid strikes to dispatch him.

I had noticed a doorway when I first entered the room, and now that the guard no longer occupied my attention, I had moment to search for a way to open it. There was none, so I continued east.

13. As I ran, I stepped on a loose floor stone. I had a glimpse of a potion below before I passed onward.

14. I ran through an open gate and to a wall, which I climbed. I continued running to the east, worried that time was passing all too quickly.

15. I came to the end of the hallway, but dropped down one level to find yet another. A blade trap clacked and clanked to the west, and I figured that it must guard something of importance. I jumped through the blades.

14. I found another pressure plate just beyond the blades, and when I stepped on it, I knew I had found the way out. The door would be open now. If I could just make it back through these blades, I would be on my way.

15. Without hesitation, I ran through the blades. They never touched me. Then I climbed the way I had come and began running again.

14. I thought I had seen the end of traps and tricks in this place, but I was dead wrong. For as I ran back toward the exit door, I was brought up short. I could a feel an uncomfortable tingling in my spine as I ran to the west. Then I saw the mirror.

It hadn't been there before. Of that I was sure. And I was equally sure that it wasn't there to help me comb my hair. What its sinister purpose could be, I had no idea, but instinct told me that it was Jaffar's doing. It seemed solid and I could not get past it.

No better idea came to mind, so I decided to smash my way through the mirror - seven years' bad luck or not. The Princess needed me. So I made room, ran my fastest and jumped into the mirror - dead center. I braced myself for the impact, for the shards of glass that would fall with me, but there was no impact... no shards. I had passed completely through the mirror without touching it!

Although the mirror did not break, I felt a terrible weakness and a great wrenching in my gut. My head felt as if it were being torn apart, and I stumbled. I could hardly stand. It was as if the life had been sucked out of me. Looking back, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a shadowy, man- like form run off to the east, directly on the other side of the mirror, which was now transparent.

13. I stumbled onward and drank the healing potion I had passed earlier. It helped a little, but I was still weak.

12. I came finally to the door. The guard still lay dead where I left him. At least he did not come back to life! In my sorry state, I wasn't sure I could fight him. But I could climb the stairs and get out of this place of black sorcery. I thought only of the Princess as I scaled the stairs and made my way hopefully to safety.

Continue to Chapter 3: The Dungeon (Level 5)
Table of Contents