ZORK QUEST I: ASSAULT ON EGRETH CASTLE DATA: VERSION 1.0
Egreth Castle, once the proud home of King Duncanthrax...
...is now a crumbling ruin. Set on a crag overlooking the Great Sea in northwest Quendor, it has become a place of ill omen. Its crumbling walls have witnessed many battles -- for boundless love, fantastic wealth, absolute power... Now the stage is set for a final confrontation...
Assault on Egreth Castle
The day was waning. Not far from the castle, a small caravan made its way along the coastal road.
In the shadowy recessed of Egreth Castle, a strange light flickered...
From his well-appointed chamber in Egreth Castle, an evil magician saw a caravan cross his boundary.
RADNOR: Crystal, who dares to disturb my privacy?
The crystal ball glowed with a vision...
The crystal ball revealed a small group of travelers. They looked harmless enough. Nonetheless, the necromancer hoped they would not tarry on his land. He did not think well of intruders.
* * * * *
Driving the wagon was a merchant called Gurthark the Stout. He was employed by his brother-in-law, Mirik the Lean, who had entrusted him to carry a load of silk coverlets to markets in the south. The pleasant countryside made Gurthark forget his cares. If only every day could be like this!
* * * * *
009, 010, 011
Gurthark was a quiet little boy, but trouble seemed to follow him. He was always being bossed around. First by his mother, then by his eldest sister...
ELDEST SISTER: Fetch me my cloak, you fat little troll!
...and even when Gurthark grew to manhood, he was given grief, especially by Mirik the Lean, Gurthark's avaricious brother-in-law.
MIRIK: Gurthark, you bumbling grue! Hurry with those orders of silk!
GURTHARK: Yes, Mirik.
Gurthark was given a lowly position in Mirik's merchantile firm.
MIRIK: Don't botch this shipment to Accardi! Now go! Don't delay!!
All this bossing about gave Gurthark the constant feeling that someone, somewhere was on the verge of telling him what to do.
Gurthark found his consolation in the wealth he was slowly amassing, a nest egg ensuring his independence.
* * * * *
One thing that made this trip particularly enjoyable was the passenger Mirik had taken on, a beautiful young woman named Acia, who was journeying to the bedside of her ailing grandmother. Acia seemed so fresh and gay. Gurthark wondered whether she had any secret problems of her own.
Acia was uncomfortable in the wagon, but it was worth it. Her trip was vital. Acia was traveling to her ailing grandmother in Accardi-by-the-Sea. She was going to take care of dear Grandmummy -- or so she said. Actually, she had been sent to make sure Grandmummy left everything to Acia's branch of the family. Acia would like that to be her specifically.
They were picking up two more passengers down the road, the famous magician Frobwit the Fair and his apprentice! A scout named Ryker had been hired to protect the goods. Gurthark thought Ryker was everything a scout should be -- brave, handsome, and adventurous. He was sure that Ryker didn't have a care in the world!
Acia was pleased with the caravan. Sweet roly-poly Gurthark blushed whenever she spoke to him and Ryker, the scout, was as strong and handsome as could be. Acia was sure that he had already fallen for her charms.
As long as he could remember, Ryker had been braver, stronger, and more handsome than anybody else. Eventually the time came when he could earn a good living as a scout. Since he liked traveling as much as he liked showing off his abilities, Ryker was very content. This particular job was a cinch. There was a dishy chick whom Ryker had eating out of his hand, and a timid merchant who needed as much watching over as the load of silks he was transporting.
Up ahead was the crossroads where Frobwit and his apprentice would be waiting. Acia was planning to flirt with them as well. What fun! And there they were -- an elderly gent and a country boy.
Ryker saw people ahead at the crossroads. Ah yes! Two more travelers going to Accardi-by-the-Sea.
Gurthark told Acia about them. Frobwit was traveling all the way to the Convention of Enchanters and Sorcerers at Accardi-by-the-Sea.
Gurthark was sure that life with Frobwit would be one amazing magical feat after the other. Acia thought that the magician, Frobwit, looked like an interesting chap. And Ryker didn't think Frobwit looked like the great magician that Gurthark had made him out to be.
Frobwit's reputation was due largely to some great storytelling about his own magical exploits. Frobwit had always tried hard to be a good magician, studying diligently at magic school and practicing his spells every evening. After graduating, he had hoped to become apprentice to Thorman the Red Beard, one of the finest magicians of the time. Thorman had much to teach him. But another, cleverer student, Radnor, convinced Thorman to take him instead. Frobwit was devastated. His life long dream of serving Thorman was dashed! After that day, he never fully regained his confidence.
The years passed...
Frobwit had to practice his craft in the rural areas, as the better magicians monopolized the towns. AS the time went on, he began to have difficulty with even the small household spells. Things improved when he took on Dirin as an apprentice.
Dirinthrax was a farm boy, with mud on his boots and straw in his hair, but he showed magical aptitude. After making the family cow vanish, Dirin's parents realized that they had to send him away. Dirin's parents were too poor to send him to one of the big magic schools in the south so they apprenticed him to Frobwit the Fair, a local magician.
There wasn't much Frobwit could teach the boy, but an apprentice is pretty nearly a servant, and he had great need of one. Although Dirin had learned a few common spells, he mostly stoked the fire and mopped the floors.
DIRIN: Like this, Master Frobwit?
FROBWIT: Very good, Dirin! Your work will not go unrewarded. You will accompany me to the Sorcerers' Convention at Accardi-by-the-Sea.
DIRIN: Oh boy!!
FROBWIT: It will do us both a world of good. Now, please wash the dishes!
He liked Dirin. He reminded Frobwit of his own happy and energetic days of childhood.
At last, the day arrived! Frobwit and Dirin set out for Accardi-by-the-sea. And now here they were, joining up with the caravan that would take them to Accardi!
RYKER: Who's your young friend?
DIRIN: I am Dirin, apprentice to Frobwit the Fair!
The boy Dirin could hardly believe his luck. The magician Frobwit climbed up front and sat comfortably beside the genial merchant, leaving Dirin somewhat less comfortably in the back with the lovely Acia. Still, he got to sit in back with the beautiful girl! Now if only he could say something without sounding stupid...!
Frobwit was assured that the two young people could keep each other company. Gurthark was honored to have Frobwit sit beside him. He hoped that Dirin would be good company for Acia in the wagon.
Ryker certainly didn't have to worry about Dirin as a rival for Acia's affections. Acia did think Dirin was kind of cute, but not very sociable. She knew how to fix that!
ACIA: We'll be stopping for the night soon. I hope I don't get scared!
They continued onward. Ryker's keen eyes scanned the forest. What was that?? A shadowy figure slipping through the woods! It seemed to be keeping pace with the caravan! Ryker didn't like the looks of it. Evil creatures were known to dwell thereabouts... He would have to keep a careful watch that night.
Soon they would make camp for the night. Gurthark looked forward to Frobwit's legendary tales. Frobwit looked forward to a hot meal and a good night's sleep.
* * * * *
As darkness fell over the land, the travelers settled down for the night. It was nice for Acia, good for Frobwit, and fun for Dirin to sit with the others around the warm campfire and have a good supper. Dirin imagined that someday he would have as many tales to tell as Frobwit!
GURTHARK: That hungus stew was marvelous! Ahhhh!
Acia had caught the attention of Ryker, the handsome scout. He gazed back at her across the campfire, his rugged features warmed by its glow. Although she usually preferred wealthy men, this stranger clothed in animal skins held her interest. Perhaps he had a treasure trove of gold and jewels stowed in a tree trunk from an earlier adventure!
Although the others were relaxing, Ryker did not let Acia's charms distract him from his job. He knew the surrounding woods were full of danger.
He heard a furtive rustling nearby. It could well be some evil creature intent on harming them!
Mesmerized by the flickering flames, Frobwit barely noticed the figure moving to squat beside him. It was Ryker, the scout. Ryker asked Frobwit to distract the others with a story while he investigated.
RYKER: Distract them with a story, Frobwit. I have business to attend to.
Frobwit was quite pleased. He was actually better at storytelling than at making magic.
FROBWIT: My pleasure, Ryker!
Dirin noticed that Ryker, the scout, had moved next to Frobwit. What were they talking about?
Then Ryker hurried away from the campfire. The scout seemed to be in a hurry, Frobwit thought. Perhaps he had drunk too much ale with his supper! But Dirin knew that the scout was no doubt involved in some brave and daring mission. If only Dirin could go with him!
Through drowsy eyes, Gurthark saw Ryker slip away into the woods. The scout was in charge of keeping nasty animals away from the caravan. Gurthark was glad he was not a scout. He would much rather sit by the warm fire.
Acia came out of her daydream to see Ryker slipping away into the woods. Where could he be going?
ACIA: Hmm... maybe he's hoping I'll follow him!
But before Acia made up her mind to rendezvous with Ryker, Frobwit began to tell a story!
FROBWIT: My friends!
Frobwit was going to tell another story! Now Dirin was glad he'd stayed by the fire.
FROBWIT: Yonder lie the ruins of Castle Egreth...
They all looked up at the towers rising above the steep cliffs. The castle was perched on its rocky outcrop. It was full of magic and mystery. Acia observed that they were dark and foreboding.
FROBWIT: I shall now tell the tale of its glorious beginnings and subsequent decay... In its heyday, Egreth Castle was a lively place, the site of tournaments, banquets, orgies, and other diversions of the lusty, bloodthirsty King Duncanthrax. After his death, the castle fell into decline. It was abandoned altogether during the reign of Dimwit Flathead, who built a new palace in Aragain. Egreth became a place of ill omen, inhabited by grues, goblins, and other creatures of the dark. A succession of evil magicians dwelled there, enslaving the creatures to do their bidding. It is said that a greater part of the evil in Quendor still lies within Egreth's crumbling walls.
The story was a big success.
Frobwit told of a time when great feasts were held at Egreth. Suckling pigs! Berry tarts! Mead! The feasts were thrown by a crude fellow named Duncanthrax, who was some kind of king. When Duncanthrax passed away, the new owners weren't so keen on the place. They built a new castle in Aragain and abandoned Egreth. All those banquet tables gone to waste! The sorts of creatures that Gurthark hoped never to see in his whole life moved into Egreth. The goblins and grues were enslaved by evil magicians, who worked black magic in the royal rooms. The most evil magician of all was still living there, surrounded by his monstrous servants!
The old wizard looked thoroughly delighted with his dreadful story!
Frobwit told of a lovely castle that was famous for its extravagant parties. What fun! They were thrown by a rowdy king named Duncanthrax. Unfortunately, he died. After his death, no one came to Egreth. It was very sad. Another king, Dimwit Flathead, built a new palace in Aragain, and Egreth just collected dust. All sorts of awful creatures moved in. Grues and trolls and even horrible old hobgoblins. And then evil wizards came to do their horrid magic spells and make the creatures their slaves. The latest magician, who was there at that very moment, was supposed to be the most dreadful of all!
The old fellow looked pleased with himself and his gruesome story.
Frobwit told of the early days of Egreth Castle. There were tournaments every day, with brave knights, daring feats, and beautiful princesses! Then King Duncanthrax died, and another ruler, Dimwit Flathead, built a new palace in Aragain. Without any people around to bother them, trolls and grues and goblins moved into Egreth. It must have been fun for them to have the place to themselves. But it didn't last long. A bunch of evil magicians made the creatures their slaves and used the castle for their black magic. The last of these black wizards was still living within Egreth's old walls!
Frobwit's story was over. Gurthark looked frightened and alarmed. He had already been worried about the safe transport of his silks. How he was panicked!
As for Acia, she was as pale as the ghosts that were no doubt lurking about the campsite. The tale brought a shiver to her. The story must have scared her! Perhaps they shouldn't have camped so close to the castle, Acia thought.
What a bunch of scaredy-cats! Dirin thought.
FROBWIT: Golly, Frobwit! You sure know a lot of great stories!
Acia wondered what had happened to Ryker. He should be there protecting them!
* * * * *
Ryker had indeed heard a strange rustling in the forest. It might be a raccoon... or something far more dangerous. Even if no more than a raccoon, Ryker was not a man to operate on assumption. He had not wanted to alarm the others, but these were dangerous woods they had made camp in.
Ryker spotted the intruder! He would catch the fiend!
With the speed of a tiger, Ryker lunged at the stranger.
LIM: Aaaah! Let go of me!!
It was a boy! What was he doing running around in this dangerous forest?
RYKER: Who are you?!
LIM: Er… um, Lim, sir! Please don’t harm me!
Ryker had a good sense about people. He knew that this child was hiding something.
* * * * *
Unknown to anyone, beneath Lim’s leather garments was the fair figure of a woman! Her name was Lia, and she was travelling in disguise to facilitate her flight from home.
She remembered little from her earliest years beyond her mother’s gentle face and the red beard of her favorite grandfather. Orphaned at the age of five, she was brought up by distant cousins.
Shortly after her parents’ death, Lia was walking in the woods. A sudden gust of wind blew some leaves away, revealing a beautiful shining amulet! The amulet was strange. It almost seemed to be alive. Lia slipped it around her neck and wandered home.
As Lia grew into womanhood, her friends loved her willful nature and the small magics she was able to work. But her stepparents thought her fey and looked upon her with fear rather than pleasure.
One night, Lia overheard them plotting to sell her to the Green Magicians. It was then that she disguised herself as a boy. She ran away from the village hoping to find work in one of the larger towns in the Southlands. Although fully a woman, Lia realized that she must now think of herself as “he.”
* * * * *
To Lim’s surprise, the man loosened his grip and let go of the boy altogether. Ryker almost seemed amused! There was something he liked about Lim... Perhaps he reminded Ryker of himself as a child. An adventurous runaway.
RYKER: My name is Ryker. I think I can help you!
Ryker and Lim took a walk along the steep cliffs overlooking the Great Sea. Ryker explained that he was the scout for a small caravan travelling south. He proposed that Lim join the caravan. If Lim would care for the pack of animals, they would provide him with food and safe passage. That was all he had to do. Lim accepted at once and the deal was struck. Lim followed the scout back to the campfire to meet the other travelers.
* * * * *
Back at the campfire, Frobwit was all ready to tell another story when, as if answering Acia's thoughts, when the handsome scout suddenly reappeared.
DIRIN: Hey, Ryker's back!
Ryker stepped back into the firelight. A stranger was with him; a boy around Dirin's age.
A cute young guy, Acia thought.
A nice-looking lad, Frobwit thought.
Ryker introduced Lim and explained the arrangement they had made.
RYKER: This is Lim. He seeks safe passage to the southlands. I offered him the protection of our caravan in exchange for the care of our pack animals.
ACIA: How nice for the animals! And how nice for me!
I'm in charge of this caravan! Gurthark said in his head. Ryker can't bring on anyone he pleases! Trying in vain to sound as though he were in charge, Gurthark muttered something about Mirik not minding.
GURTHARK: Er... It is surely a fair exchange. I don't think Mirik would mind.
Dirin noticed that Lim seemed very quiet. How had he managed to survive alone in a forest ruled by dark magic? Perhaps Lim had some magical power of his own. He had better not try to become Frobwit's apprentice!
FROBWIT: Welcome, Lim! Greetings!
Oh, great, Dirin thought, Frobwit already likes him!
The old fellow, Frobwit, was a magician traveling to the Enchanters Convention. Lim thought that he seemed very nice, but Frobwit’s apprentice, Dirin who was about Lim’s age didn’t seem very friendly. The girl, Acia, seemed to welcome Lim, but she had a strange look in her eyes. What was she thinking?
Gurthark, the caravan leader, accepted Lim into the group after some hesitation. Then Frobwit suggested that they all retire for the evening. All that is, except Ryker. He would naturally stay on guard at the campfire.
FROBWIT: And now, as it has been a long day, I suggest we all go to bed.
Gurthark refuted silently: I couldn't possibly sleep a wink! but feel fast asleep in place.
The new boy Lim lingered by the campfire with Ryker and Acia. There was something strange about him, Acia thought. She was mesmerized by his shy smile. She noticed that he was wearing a beautiful jeweled amulet. She felt strangely drawn to the pretty charm and determined that she would find a way to get it.
Acia made Lim strangely uncomfortable. He decided that it was time to go to bed after all.
Dirin didn't feel at all tired. But he was used to obeying Frobwit, so he left the warmth of the campfire and made his way to bed. The tale of Egreth Castle ran through Dirin's mind. It was so eerily exciting that he didn't think he would ever fall asleep.
* * * * *
When the travelers had made their way to bed, leaving Ryker nodding by the campfire, Acia slipped away to find Lim. Tired from the day’s journey, Lim didn’t hear the approaching footsteps. He looked very sweet. So did the amulet twinkling in his pocket. Acia couldn’t resist giving him a gentle kiss. His skin was warm and soft beneath her lips. Lim was surprised with the big kiss!
LIM: Hey, cut that out!
ACIA: Oh, come on, honey, why don’t you give my something nice? If you won’t give me a kiss, then how about your pretty amulet, hmmm?
LIM: What do you mean, my amulet!!??!! Get out of here!!
ACIA: Hmmph! I’ll show him!
Acia stomped off, barely troubling herself with a glance back at Lim’s sleeping figure. But was she gone for good?
That was close! Lim was regretting having joined this caravan. Now, to try to get some sleep! And Lim soon dropped off to sleep.
* * * * *
The magician had spent the afternoon immersed in evil thoughts and yearnings. He was waiting for a precious object, long lost, to find its way back to him.
When night fell, he was enraged to see a campfire flickering close by the castle.
RADNOR: Crystal, expose these intruders!
But his rage turned to joy when the crystal revealed the only thing dear to his heart.
RADNOR: My amulet! Lost so many years ago... destined to return to me in the possession of a woman. The amulet magnifies the power of its owner, be it for good or evil. Now at last, this mighty power shall be mine!
The evil magician summoned his troop of night gaunts. They arrived within moments. The master was waiting for them in his chamber.
RADNOR: A group of travelers has encamped in the clearing near the castle. Go there and bring back the women among them!
GAUNTS: Yes, master.
The night gaunts were quick to obey for they feared the evil one greatly.
* * * * *
Later that evening, when Lim had fallen into a deep slumber... Acia returned to search for the amulet. The pretty thing was buzzing softly to itself, easy to find! Acia hid the amulet in her cloak and tiptoed away. So much for Lim!
Undressing by her bedroll, Acia did not notice the amulet slipping out of her cloak pocket. It fell soundlessly to the forest floor. What secrets did it behold?
* * * * *
A mighty wizard’s most cherished possession cast from the turret window as his dying gesture, so that none but his granddaughter should have it. The powerful amulet set out to fulfill the wizard’s last wish.
The carp that ate it found that it could swim farther and faster than ever before, but not fast enough to elude the raccoon waiting on the shore.
The raccoon felt a strange power surging through him. With a might breath, he send the amulet on its way.
Skimming the treetops on its nightly prowl, an owl spotted the glittering lure. The owl traveled long into the night. Never before had the owl journeyed this far into the Northlands. The amulet’s destination was close at hand.
A small child walking in the woods, unknowingly fulfilled her grandfather’s dying wish when she found the amulet and took it as her own.
* * * * *
ACIA: Time for my beauty rest.
Soon she was dreaming of knights and white horses and a princess named Acia.
* * * * *
The fire had burned down to smoldering embers. Ryker’s eyes were heavy with sleep. Ryker startled awake. Something was wrong. He could feel it. He scanned the surrounding forest, but it was too dark to see anything. He just knew something was there!
* * * * *
There was a troop of night gaunts lurking in the bushes! They surveyed the campsite. Everyone was sleeping. The only problem looked like the big fellow by the campfire.
* * * * *
A stealthy sound disturbed the stillness of the campsite!
Night gaunts! Perhaps they were just passing through, Dirin thought.
Before Ryker could take further action, he was knocked out cold! Luckily for the gaunts, the fellow was not on his guard. He was easily disposed of.
They didn’t have any trouble finding the young woman either. She was quite a prize. The master would be pleased!
The scaly creatures grabbed Acia and carried her away into the night! The maiden was a feisty little thing. She almost managed to struggle out of their grasp.
The scream came from Acia, who had been abducted by the gang of scaly creatures! Acia struggled futilely to free herself from their slimy grasp, but it was no use. The gaunts knew that they must hold her tightly, and they carried Acia, kicking and screaming straight to Egreth Castle where the master was waiting them!!