Level 5

As I climbed the stairs, the malaise that had overtaken me after jumping through the mirror faded and my strength returned. I still felt a strange emptiness in the pit of my stomach, but my head no longer ached as it had, and my legs and arms regained their strength. I ran up through the inevitable doorway and found myself standing in a great room with two high balconies and gates everywhere.

1. A quick survey to the west showed me that could not go far, so I headed east after activating the gate in that direction.

2. I came into a multi-level room where balconies and alcoves stuck out with little regard for architectural harmony. A guard awaited me on the first balcony.

"Don't tell me you're going to insult me and therefore make me quake with fear," I called, hoping to head off the usual conversation.

"Fear not, little evil one," he called back. "I have no skill with words, but prefer to let my sword talk for me."

"That's a relief," I answered as I pulled myself up to his level. "Your sword is no doubt as illiterate in the arts of battle as you are in the world of ideas. Let me pass."

The guard offered no reply, but attempted to stick me through before I had yet drawn my sword. He was too late, however I struck first, and drove him backward. I saw that I could send him over the edge of the chasm that yawned at his back, but he was so poor with his weapon that he was finished before he came close to the edge.

I climbed up to the east, then turned around and climbed again, finally heading west.

3. Here I had several choices of direction, but I chose the middle path, as I spotted a pressure plate to the east.

4. As I passed another pressure plate, a gate opened below I heard the distinctive clash of two blade traps, though a hanging tapestry prevented my seeing them.

I jumped down and ran through the gate which crashed closed behind me. The blade traps were just above me now. Climbing carefully, I faced the traps, and ran just as the nearer of them clashed shut clearing them both in one headlong rush.

I stepped on another pressure plate and heard a gate open above me. As I stepped onto one more plate, I spied a Life Enhancement Potion above. I started toward it, but before I had moved more than a few steps, a familiar shadowy manlike form ran from the west. The creature drank the potion before my eyes and ran back the way it had come.

3. I ran in pursuit, but the shadow disappeared as if it had never been. I was angry. What was this shadow figure? And would it continue to haunt me?

5. I ran to the west, still angry, and almost fell to my death. I had come out on a balcony high above the entrance door. At the last moment, I took a running jump and made it to the balcony on the opposite side.

I stood there, perplexed. For the gate leading from this balcony was closed. I was pretty sure I could just make the jump across to the first balcony, but could see no reason to return the way I had come. Then I had an idea. Looking down below where I stood, I saw another balcony, and the gate leading from it was open.

1. I lowered myself to the next balcony and headed west again.

6. Immediately I ran into another guard. He had been waiting for me, and once again I had to move quickly to fend off his attack. He said nothing, and I thought I detected a hint of fear in his eyes. I countered his attacks and forced him backward until be fell off the edge to the ground below. He struggled to his feet and stood there, glaring at me but not daring to climb back up, for he would be helpless as he climbed.

I was tired of killing, and decided to spare him, perhaps because he had not insulted me. I hot a running start and jumped safely over his head. I continued running to the west and be did not follow. Perhaps he knew better than to seek death.

7. Yet another guard awaited me. Was there no end to them? I knew that if I survived, I would have unpleasant dreams of killing and death for years to come. But first, I had to survive.

"Stop!" yelled the guard. "You cannot pass here by order of the Grand Vizier, Jaffar!"

"Jaffar is a two-headed toad," I screamed "Stand aside and let me go on my way!" He said nothing, but his eyes told me that he would not give way. I came forward carefully.

This guard was by far the quickest and most skillful I had encountered so far. I was forced to counter several attacks, and, I'm ashamed to say, he landed several blows. But in the end, the result was the same. I parried a vicious chop at my forehead and untered with a direct hit, and the battle was done.

8. I ran to the west and found a healing potion below the floor in a secret alcove.

9. I found yet another healmg potion below the first, guarded by a blade trap. I climbed back up two landings and continued on my way along the upper path.

10. I was in for an unpleasant surprise. Yet another guard. And he was as intent on my death as the others. Moreover, I almost got caught standing on a loose floor. I had to move quickly past it, then attack immediately, or else he might have driven me to my death.

I don't remember what this guard said to me. Something unoriginal about a camel and my ancestors, but I ignored his insults and fought silently. I continued to the west.

11. A gate was closing as I ran down the hallway, and I had to jump a chasm in the middle of the floor and get through the gate before it completely shut me off.

12. As I stepped through the gate, I landed on a pressure plate. For once, things went easily. The plate opened the exit door and I wasted no time climbing the stairs.

Continue to Chapter 3: The Dungeon (Level 6)
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