Cluster / Feebo's Folly)
Morphius behind his Suvivor board, 1647 GUE
The Cluster, later known as Morphius, was a football-sized
concentration of pure illumynite of odd color. The luminance of the
Cluster never diminished and it emitted strange sounds and energies.
the time of the First Great Diffusion (1247 GUE), the scattered
particles of evil magic seeped down into the soil. Deep in the ground,
the tiny specks of evil dust began to shift and move. The particles
percolated down through the soil, and formed veils, much like gold
veins. When they pushed their way into certain rock formations, they
produced light. One of these new materials would be called illumynite.
A particularly dense cluster of saturated illumynite developed
some unusual characteristics and started to behave like a magnet,
drawing more particles and absorbing the energy from them, more and
more day by day. The Cluster grew…pulsated. It began to emit strange
sounds and energies. Until it gained Rooper's voice in 1647,
Morphius could only communicate with people through their dreams.
Cluster was discovered by the dwarven miner Feebo in the 1620s in an
illumynite mine in the mountains at the northeastern edge of the Valley
of the Sparrows. At first, the football-sized, glowing rock was
considered a good-luck charm and a sign that a tremendous vein of
illumynite waited just ahead. But the dwarves found only worthless dirt
and rock, which was rare. Their good-luck charm quickly became
mockingly known as Feebo’s Folly, and was set aside as a gag item.
after the passage of time, something became apparent: the cluster did
not lose its glow. After some experimenting, the dwarves concluded that
chunks of illumynite, when kept out of direct sunlight and away from
water, held their luminous qualities longer. They were like rough,
natural light bulbs. These light bulbs soon became the new product of
the dwarves. The original cluster was renamed Feebo’s Fancy Find.
honor came too late for Feebo, though. Embarrassed by the Folly, he
took to drinking heavily and died after taking a wrong turn on a
joyride in a mining cart. The remains of the cart, as well as a few
parts of Feebo’s wardrobe, were enshrined in the Temple of Bel Narie
alongside the Cluster, which was placed upon a pedestal.
display of the Cluster at the Temple of Bel Narie gained particular
interest from Canuk, a mage who had participated in the First Great
Diffusion nearly four hundred years ago and was currently one of four
partners of IL&L (the others were Trembyle, Rooper and
Moadium). Fascinated by the cluster, he visited the museum
regularly. In a weakened state (from the exertions to dispel all evil),
the exposure to the Cluster had a strange effect on him: he became
mesmerized, controlled. The Cluster seemed to reach out to him and
hypnotize him. He became possessed by the evil energy of the Cluster.
But only part of his personality became possessed. The other part of
Canuk had no idea of this dual personality. Obsessed with the object,
he had to obtain it. He did. After building a replica cluster, he
infiltrated the museum one night and swapped the fake for the real one.
The East Shanbar Times reported (1635-12-14) that the Holy Woman
suspected that the Cluster had been replaced with a fake. IT&L,
was contracted for investigations.
Within five years, the evil
illumynite consciousness had come so powerful that it began to exert a
magical effect on the nearby Shanbar village. Beginning in the last
half of 1640, one at a time, local buildings and citizens vanished and
reappeared underground in a mysterious subterranean parallel Shanbar.
Eventually, all but a few buildings in West Shanbar were drawn into the
new underworld; those that remained above ground were displaced to the
south of their original location. Other areas of the valley were
similarly affected too. The crops began to
fail and the cattle weakened. Even the people who stayed became
overweight or skinny and seemed to lose their spirit. A curse settled
in various patches across the valley; one such region was the Road to
the South. All who ventured into the region between the lighthouse and
West Shanbar instantly perished.
When the IT&L partners
decided to produce the Tele-Orb and illumynite batteries, Canuk was
asked to develop an interface between the batteries and the telepathic
orbs. The mage agreed to the task, but not out of friendship. He had
been “instructed” to take the job by the silent voice of the Cluster
Inspired by the Cluster, which was now a mutating
object of much greater proportions and had a name of its own—Morphius,
Canuk fell deeper and deeper under its spell. Visions of an entire
underground city would be given to him in his sleep, and in the morning
the plans for this project would be sitting on his table. But materials
and labor were required for its construction. While the dwarves mined
illumynite, something more was needed—translumynite. Thus both were
acquired in mass quantities.
The same force that controlled
Canuk, originating from Morphius, began to possess hundreds of
vultures. These mindless buzzards roamed both levels of the valley,
passing through unknown portals. Originally the dwarves had
been paid to mine for Canuk, but after the
cost became too great, the vultures were sent to raid the dwarven
mining areas for illumynite chunks and brought them to the underground.
also engineered the Cliffs of Depression in order to mine
translumynite. The evil entity enslaved most of the people
East Shanbar to mine the ore, to build his new empire. The sorcery of
Morphius was so strong that it radiated from the cliffs causing those
within to grow so depressed that they could not get up to leave. The
only ones that could temporarily stay without being affected were those
with a bonding plant. But the spells of Morphius were so strong, that
the bonding plant could only survive a short time before wilting and
its holder be trapped forever at the cliffs as a virtual slave—a worker
in the translumynite mine.
Citadel of Zork was the first structure built with the new
architectural techniques. It was, in fact, an incubator for the
Cluster. Here, the vultures delivered the stolen chunks of illumynite,
which were absorbed into the structure housing the Cluster. Energy then
was drawn in large quantities to speed up the mutation of the Cluster.
of half-orcs were gathered as sentries for the Citadel. When the
inspired Canuk had completed its construction, he sealed it with a Wall
of Illusion. The Citadel was only known to his possessed personality.
The other Canuk was unaware of the construction, only brief glimpses of
the project were left in the untouched portion of his mind. Morphius
feared that the pieces of the last Flying Disc of Frobozz would be
recovered and reforged and his illusionary shield would be shattered.
Thus his minions sought the manual for the forge and destroyed it.
went forth to continue building an entire town for Morphius, but more
materials were required. The vultures regularly raided the dwarven
mining areas, but the dwarves became resistant. Morphius despised
the dwarves who charged too many zorkmids an hour for mining.
Until he could replace them with machines, he hoped that the Cliffs of
Depression would be successful in breaking the dwarven union
permanently, but it only grew stronger. The buzzards also preyed upon
any living thing that was stupid enough to isolate itself. These living
things were delivered to the Cluster, so that the force
within—Morphius—could develop a form that would enable communications
between the force and everything else.
Confused by the
variations delivered, Morphius’ mutation process became a nightmarish
and disgusting event. Its shape constantly changed to fit the images
and patterns of the sample creatures delivered. But the process went
on. And the mutation grew and grew and gained more power with every
minute. Its influence spread and its demand for more energy created a
busy agenda for the marauding vultures.
These vultures were also
the eyes and ears for the evil force; enabling him to be virtually
everywhere. Able to zero in on subjects who spoke or acted against the
force, they would swoop down and carry the offender away, never to be
seen again. Morphius studied the best qualities of every life form and
most of these unfortunate persons were incorporated into his very
being. Others that he judged to be a value (those who needed to be
thoroughly analyzed after the mutation was complete) were turned to
stone statues or zombies and used to decorate and entertain the Halls
of the Citadel. They were, in fact, merely suspended or preserved until
later. He spent an incredible amount of energy on keeping them from
Trembyle and Rooper soon discovered that
something peculiar and magical was definitely occurring underground. An
odd form of architecture was adopted, using illumynite building
materials. New buildings had sprouted up everywhere, as if in
preparation for mass immigrations. When they caught on to enough the
evil process they set out to destroy it before it reached an
It did not take long for Morphius to
respond to the presence of the two snooping humans. Trembyle was the
first to be turned to stone, having stumbled upon far too much
information. This disappearance of Trembyle caused Rooper great
concern, and reacting in typical adventurer spirit, he donned his
battle gear and prepared to find and defeat whoever or whatever was
responsible. It would be several months before Morphius was able to add
Rooper to his collection of statues and use the human's voice for
1647 GUE, the namless Sweepstakes Winner, the nephew of Rooper, was
evade the vultures, reforge the Flying Disc of Frobozz, shatter the
Wall of Illusion and raid the Citadel of Zork. Over the course of three
nights, Morphius had visited this human's dreams. He was determined to
take strategy from from that one. One reason that the Sweepstakes
Winner was able to make it through the Citadel without detection was
that Morphius was making a counterattack against the remaining citizens
of the Valley. The vultures petrified and captured many more of the
surrounding villagers; these included Rebecca Snoot, Canuk, the Holy
Woman of Bel Naire, Barry the Blacksmith, and Witch Itah. This nameless
hero faced Morphius in his research laboratory, the Hall
of the Stoned and Transformation Room. A huge Survivor board had been
erected, using the stoned versions of the actual Canuk and Trembyle as
the pieces. Morphius cast a spell which made them follow the
adventurer's commands within the bounds of the gameplay rules.
When Rooper's nephew was able to outwit Morphius by winning a round of
this Survivor, the mutant evil was furious, releasing a
terrible shriek of anguish that echoed through the Citadel of Zork,
shaking its very foundations. Keeping his subjects as statues was very
taxing. Unable to concentrate on more than one thing at a time,
Morphius lost grasp of his confining spell. The statues he was holding
began to dissolve. Rebecca, Rooper, the Holy Woman, Kelly, Witch Itah,
Wizard Trembyle, and even Canuk were released from their stone
to the occasion, the followers of good magic (Holy Woman, Itah,
Trembyle, Canuk) moved to the center of the room and casted long
spells which had been used during the First Great Diffusion. The spell
travelled upwards towards the unsuspecting Morphius. He became stoned
and fell out of the air that he was hovering in. The statue broke
apart. The vile creature and all evil magic were dispersed into the
atmosphere. The spell that kept the Citadel walls up collapsed and the
room began to disintegrate. These events would be remembered as the
Second Great Diffusion! Throughout the valley, from every tower to the
depths of every crevice, evil magic had vanished.