The Wizard and the Princess, Part 3: Meeting the Locals

The bridge is raised and I can finally leave this desert.  I never want to see another scorpion or snake for as long as I live.

Verdant fields and tall trees immediately greet me on the other side of the chasm, a dramatic change indeed.

Image from the 1980 Sierra game, the Wizard and the Princess, showing a house by the edge of a chasm.

There is a small house perched at the edge of the chasm, but it contains nothing other than some furniture and a solitary apple.  I've heard enough fairy tales to know that the apple is bad news, but I'll take it with me on the off-chance that the Brothers Grimm and/or old Disney films aren't part of the childhood canon for all denizens of Serenia.

Just beyond the house is a small forest.  On entering, I'm greeted by a gnome, who looks every bit like he's escaped from some suburban lawn display.

Image from the 1980 Sierra game, the Wizard and the Princess, showing a gnome in the forest.

I make a variety of friendly overtures to the gnome, but he just stares at me.  Another mute Serenian.  Great.  The idea of taking his hat and trying it on briefly crosses my mind, but I finally decide it's best not to antagonize the locals.

Just as I'm turning to walk away, the gnome leaps up into the air, kicking up several clumps of grass, and flies at me with his arms outstretched.  Before I can react, the little bastard thrusts both hands into my pocket, chitters like an agitated chipmunk, and runs off with several of my things.

Oh, hell no.  Serenia's not going to do me over that easy.

I run full tilt after the gnome, doing all I can not to lose sight of him before he ducks into a nearby tree.

Animation using images from the 1980 Sierra game, the Wizard and the Princess.  It shows a gnome running into a hole in a tree and then slamming a door on the player.

Having no thoughts but for my stolen items, I charge head-first into the tree hole, just in time to see the gnome slam a door in my face.

My upper body now lodged in the tree, I lose complete control and begin flailing my legs wildly and cursing like a drunken longshoreman.

This continues for about an hour, at which point my convulsions cause me to break out of the hole and collapse exhausted on the ground.

Day 6

After spending a less-than-restful night in the house by the chasm, I'm determined not to give up on my equipment.  I return to the tree where the gnome disappeared and notice that the ground is slightly elevated underneath it, perhaps suggesting that there are underground tunnels.  

Rather than break through the tunnels and risk damaging my stuff, my now-level head tells me it would be better to try to find the entrance.  A faint ridge in the grass continues away from the tree, which becomes more prominent the further I follow it, eventually expanding into a large mound.

Image from the 1980 Sierra game, the Wizard and the Princess, showing a crevice in a mound of dirt.

There's a narrow crevice in the mound, but unfortunately it's much too small for me to fit through.  I don't have anything that would be good for prying it open, and even if I did, it's not clear that I would fit inside.  It soon becomes clear that I have only one option.

...

*sigh*

...

"HISS"

Animation using images from the 1980 Sierra game, the Wizard and the Princess.  It snake going into a hole, which leads to an underground tunnel.

As a snake, I'm easily able to fit through the crevice, which leads into a narrow tunnel.  There's no sign of the thieving gnome, but there are faint footprints in the dirt, suggesting that the passageway has been used recently.  

The tunnel is featureless and only continues for about 10 yards.  At the end, I find my stolen items scattered on the ground beside a closed and locked door -- likely the one I saw from inside the tree.  Before I have time to think about how I might carry the stuff out, I feel a limb beginning to sprout from my body.

Acting quickly, I unlock and open the door with the arm that has already sprouted.  I scoop up my stuff and start pushing myself forward -- with some combination of snake and human muscles, I'm not sure which ones -- and just as I reach full size, my body extends far enough up the tree that I can grab the rim of the tree hole with both arms.  Pushing with all of my strength, I'm able to force my body through, and I pop out of the tree hole like a newly birthed calf.  

As I fall unceremoniously onto the grass below, once again covered in dead snakeskin, I think about how different fantasy worlds are from how they're portrayed in books.

Day 7

The rest of the forest is surprisingly peaceful.  On one end, I find a gently flowing river, which allows me to refill my flask of water and wash off the dead skin.  In the center of the forest, there is a tall tree, the top of which provides a view of the surrounding area.

Image from the 1980 Sierra game, the Wizard and the Princess, showing a view of the shore from the top of a tree.

It seems that I'm on a peninsula of some kind, so if I want to proceed beyond the forest, I'm going to have to cross the water somehow.  There's a sailboat in the distance, so perhaps if I hail it from the shore, I can procure a ride.  

As I'm getting down from the tree, I notice a parrot perched on a nearby branch.  She eyes me carefully, and something about the way she's looking at me suggests intelligence, but she doesn't say anything.  Just then, it occurs to me that she might be interested in one of the items I rescued from the gnome.

Animation using images from the 1980 Sierra game, the Wizard and the Princess.  It shows a cracker being given to a parrot, who then gives the player a vial.

I give her a cracker, and in exchange she reveals a vial tucked inside her feathers, filled with a clear liquid.  I think better of testing the liquid just now... not knowing what would happen, it would be better to save it for a desperate situation.

Tucking the vial away, I make my way to the shore.

Image from the 1980 Sierra game, the Wizard and the Princess, showing a lion by the shore.

Barring my way to the water's edge is a massive lion.  Normally, the sight of a lion would cause me to flee in terror, but something about this beast feels different.  Sporting a goofy smile and unkempt whiskers, it looks more the part of a town fool than the fearsome king of the... peninsula.  His vacant, gawking stare reminds me of the ducks I used to feed at the pond in my hometown.

I threw bread at the ducks, so...

Animation using images from the 1980 Sierra game, the Wizard and the Princess.  It shows bread being thrown to a lion, followed by a fade out.

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