So in a matter of minutes, I had come back to my origins. I was once again the thief I had been. I was once again a stowaway, a fugitive. I found a place in the hold, among carpets and bags of grain, and tried to comprehend what had happened.

You must realize, Hamza, that I did not know anything then. I later learned of the Old Witch, the evil sorceress who had become Jaffar's mentor. Like everyone else, I thought Jaffar had died in the tower. Little did I know.

Jaffar did not die when I battled him in the tower, Hamza, but through some sorecry, he was able to survive when he appeared dead. He had acquired the power to cast an illusion that changed appearances, making him appear to be me and me... to appear as I did. All this I learned later. But as I lay alone and lost in the hold of an unknown merchant ship, I knew only that evil had struck me down in my happiest moment.

I fell into a fitful sleep. Voices roiled in my head in a feverish blend as I relived the day in dreams and saw, in no less horror than before, the blank expression on the face of my beloved Princess, my wife, as she stared at me and yet did not see me.

There was a moment of clarity in my dream, and a strange peace descended upon me. An unfamiliar woman, by appearances a queen in a magnificent palace, stood before me, calling me. "Come to me," she said. Then the lightning hit and the ship began to toss in a too sudden, unnatural storm. I heard a sound I had never thought to hear again - the sound of Jaffar's laughter. I heard it, Hamza, recognized it, and in an instant at least one of my questions was answered.

After that, I was swimming for my life, clinging to a broken piece of what had once been the ship, a ship whose name I never even knew.

Level 2

1. I awakened on a deserted beach. Pieces of the broken merchant's ship had washed up around me. I saw no other survivors or anything of use. Fortunately, I still had my sword. I had no idea where I was, but a quick exploration of the beach revealed nothing to the east. I headed west, toward a high cliff at the other end.

2. Strange carvings appeared on the cliff face before me, and the sand between me and the cliff looked different somehow. As I stood there wondering if it was safe to walk upon this wet and somehow unsolid- looking sand, six strange stones rose from beneath the surface. All were blank except for one, which had a design matching the one on the cliff face.

Now, I've learned to recognize magic when I see it and there was something definitely magical at work here. Unsure of what to do I cautiously walked upon the blank stones but avoided the one with the design. As I stepped off each stone it sank with a sucking sound back into the odd sand from which it had emerged.

Finally, I stood before the cliff. Only one stone remained - the one with the design. Then it, too, sank into the depths. Shortly thereafter I heard a great scraping sound, and a giant boulder slid away from me, revealing a cavern entrance. I could see little inside, but had the impression of a light coming from within. Cautiously, I left the world of sun and water to explore unknown depths within an unknown mountain.

Continue to Chapter 5: The Shadow & the Flame (Level 3)
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