The Wizard and the Princess, Part 6: Dream-Walking



"LUCY!"

A loud whooshing sound, like someone suddenly inhaling, echoes all around me.  Before I know what's happening, all of the items I had collected disappear from my person, instantaneously changing my center of gravity and causing me to stumble forward onto the bridge over the chasm.  As I work to collect myself, I can feel the bridge's supports buckle.  Panicking, I take a desperate leap to the other end of the bridge, but the force of the jump causes the bridge to collapse under my feet and I fall helplessly into the dark chasm.

I open my eyes, not knowing they had been shut.  I am back at the side of the chasm and the bridge is in front of me, fully intact.

The bizarre dreams that I experienced overnight in the cave now seem to be permeating my waking life, leaving me to question what's real and what isn't.  Are they warnings?

I take several steps back from the chasm bridge.

"LUCY!"

Much like in my dream, the items disappear from my body, leaving me flat on my face in front of the bridge.  Just when I thought Serenia was getting more sane, the real world is getting pulled from under my feet... in more ways than one.

Sighing pathetically, I stand up and walk slowly across the bridge.   It shudders under my weight, but doesn't give.

On the other side, there are more hills and caves.  With my inventory now transported to god-knows-where, I'll need to explore the caves for any items or food that might help me on my way.  Fortunately, the first cave reveals a very pleasant surprise.

Image based on the 1980 Apple II adventure game, the Wizard and the Princess.  Items are scattered on the floor of a cave.

So this is where my equipment went.  I briefly wonder who this "Lucy" was, and why her magic had such a strange effect.  Maybe she was a little girl who got lost in the hills, or perhaps some lonely wizard's lover, or maybe an australopithecus time traveler with a penchant for the Beatles.  Regardless, I happily collect my items and continue on my journey.

I'm walking between the hills, not far from the cave's exit, when I begin hearing a low, rhythmic humming sound.  I spin around, looking to see if I can isolate the sound's origin, but there are only trees and rocks around me.  I'm about continue my journey, when suddenly I  see one of the trees move.

Looking upwards, I quickly realize that it's not a tree at all, but rather a large humanoid dressed in a poorly fitting tunic and tights.  His tights look like stretched-out potato sacks sewn together, and the overall appearance is pathetic, in a terrifying sort of way.  He is, not surprisingly, in a foul mood, and I don't get the sense that he will be particularly eager to allow me safe passage.

Image from the 1980 Apple II adventure game, the Wizard and the Princess.  An angry giant stands beneath hills.

"Go away," he rumbles.  My ear drums feel near to giving way, so I quickly shove a fistful of leaves in my ears.

"Pardon me, good giant, but I mean you no harm.  I only wish to continue on my journey, preferably without changing into an animal or getting stuck in the cavity of a tree."

He stares at me.  I'm fairly certain he can't make out what I'm saying; if his ear drums are scaled up with the rest of his body, the frequencies of my voice will be difficult for him to discern.  Digging through my stuff, there's only one thing I have that might make a louder noise -- the harp.

It seems likely that the harp's frequencies would be just as difficult for him to hear as my voice, but having nothing to lose, I begin plucking the strings.  He seems to perk up at the first notes, and watches me intently to see what comes next.

My harp skills are more than a little rusty.  I took a year of beginner's harp in third grade, but most of the lessons ended with me sitting quietly in the corner (I would frequently forget to bring my harp with me to school).  The teacher once told me that my talents reminded her of a young Jimmy Hoffa, but I wasn’t sure how to take that.

I pull up a rock and get into a harpist's posture, siting with the harp's long end facing away from me.  I explore the strings for a few moments, trying to recall which note is which.  Eventually, faint muscle memories stir in my subconscious and I move my hands in the pattern of a song -- "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star".  I play it slowly and awkwardly.

The giant frowns, and I sense that I'm not making a good impression.  Fortunately, the more I play, the more the memories of third grade harp class come back to me.  Before long, my hands are moving effortlessly from string-to-string and the lilting tones are permeating the glen and echoing from the hillsides.  I smile in triumph.

About the fourth time through the song, the giant's frown turns into a grimace, and he begins jumping up and down angrily.

Animation based on images from the 1980 Apple II adventure game, the Wizard and the Princess.  The giant pounds the ground causing my harp to fall.


"NO NO NO NO NO!"

The giant's jumping causes the ground to shake violently, knocking me off of my seat on the rock and breaking several of the harp's strings.  Even the thick clumps of leaves in my ears aren't enough to blunt the barrage of sound waves coming from the giant.

As he continues jumping and hollering, the unbroken strings on the harp vibrate, creating an odd-sounding dissonance over top of the giant's tantrum.  He must have caught the sound of it in between hollers, because he stops and listens to it.

A curious look appears on his face.  He smiles, picks up the harp, and walks away, humming a cacophonous din in unison with the broken harp.  Apparently he is a lover of music; avant garde drone, to be precise.  There's no accounting for taste, I suppose.

Day 10

My last night in the hills is mercifully quiet, with nothing but the sound of insects to accompany my sleep.  The dreams don't stop -- in fact, they seem to be getting more vivid -- but they are becoming more... familiar.  It's almost as if Serenia is slowly working its way into my mind and I am becoming a part of it.  

When I step out of the cave in the morning, I'm immediately greeted by a peddler.

Animation based on images from the 1980 Apple II adventure game, the Wizard and the Princess.  A peddler shows his wares, which appear and disappear from the table.


I have seen this so many times in my dreams that I wonder if I might still be in the cave, sleeping.  The peddler flashes a sinister grin at me and gestures towards his wares.  The scene distorts and multiple visions come to me at once.  In the dream world, I have sampled all of his items, but for some reason I still can't make out what any of them do.

I know there is only one right decision, but I don't know why.  I remember lying in front of a castle, trapped at the edge of a moat...

The peddler continues staring at me silently as my head spins.  Suddenly, I see a gate...

What could I do with the rest?  There is only one possible choice.  I hand the peddler the coin that I found at the end of the rainbow and take my item.  As I walk north into the quiet countryside, I hear him packing up his things to leave.  There are no other sounds.

Within an hour, I see the castle rising up in front of me.  My destination, and perhaps my destiny, are now clear.  I walk up the edge of the moat, breathe deeply, and bring the horn up to my lips...

Animation based on images from the 1980 Apple II adventure game, the Wizard and the Princess.  This shows a castle fading out.

The adventures continues...

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