IMAGE01: Acia & Ryker
    IMAGE02: Acia & Radnor (prototype)

ACIA

In the days of her youth, Acia was rich and extremely attractive. With her voluptuous body and deceptive flirtations, she was easily able to bend any man to her whims. Fresh and amorous, this proud young maiden of fabled beauty was the granddaughter of Althea.

When Acia heard that her ailing grandmother in Accardi-by-the-Sea might soon pass away (c. 957~966 GUE), she was sent to make sure that the inheritance was left to Acia’s branch of the family—to her specifically. If she was not in Althea’s will, the fortune would go to the kingdom instead. The wealth would give her the freedom to live in the grand style she deserved. Despite her true intentions, she still wished that her grandmother had lived closer so that they could have been great friends.

The Northlander found passage to the village on one of Mirik the Lean’s caravans, driven by Gurthark the Stout. Ryker the Scout, who had been hired to guard the wagon, was strong and handsome as could be. Although she usually preferred wealthy men, Ryker held her interest. It was simple for Acia to catch his attention and manipulate him with her seducing charms. She hoped to discover if he had a trove of gold and jewels stowed away from an earlier adventure. Two other passengers aboard the wagon were the young Dirinthrax and Frobwit the Fair.

One night the caravan pitched camp near the boundaries of Egreth Forest. Ryker, having detected something about the campsite, left to investigate. It was the young woman Lia, in the guise of a boy named Lim. When Ryker returned with Lia, Acia, thinking she was a boy, was mesmerized by her smile. She noticed the beautiful jeweled Amulet of Egreth which Lia was wearing. She was strangely drawn to the pretty charm and determined that she would find a way to get it.

When the travelers had made their way to bed, Acia slipped away to find Lia. Tired from the day’s journey, Lia did not hear the approaching footsteps. She looked very sweet. So did the amulet twinkling in her pocket. Acia could not resist giving her a gentle kiss. Her skin was warm and soft beneath her lips. Lia woke up, surprised with the big kiss. Acia attempted to take the amulet, but Lia angrily propelled her away.

When Lia had fallen into deep slumber, the determined Acia returned to search for the amulet. She took the amulet and hid it in her cloak and tiptoed away. Undressing by her bedroll, Acia did not notice the amulet as it slipped out of her cloak pocket onto the forest floor.

During the night, Radnor, the evil warlock ruling from the ruins of Egreth Castle, saw from his crystal ball that Acia had the Amulet of Egreth in her possession. Presuming that Acia was the granddaughter of Thorman the Red-beard (Lia was in fact the granddaughter), Radnor sent his night gaunts to apprehend her and bring her to the castle. The scaly creatures did not have any trouble finding the young woman and carried her away into the night. She struggled futilely to free herself, but it was no use.

At Egreth Castle, the beasts deposited Acia before Radnor. When he demanded an amulet from her, she sought to hand over the one she had stolen from Lia, but did not realize that she had dropped it while undressing. Enraged, Radnor sent his night gaunts back to the campsite to search for the amulet, while he had his troll guards take Acia to the dungeon.

Tricking the troll guard by begging him to sit with her inside the cell, Acia was able to break free, fleeing down the castle’s corridors. The speedy troll apprehended her, but Gurthark (who had in the meantime infiltrated Egreth with Ryker and Frobwit) saved her by felling the beast with a golden amulet in the forehead. Before they could reunite, a mysterious blue vapor enfolded Acia in a bubble. For Radnor, still having been unable to recover the amulet, sought to inquire again of its whereabouts directly from Acia. The bubble drifted away, carrying her to Radnor’s throne room.

The bubble popped, and she fell into the arms of Ryker who had also managed to reach Radnor. Frobwit, Dirinthrax, and Lia were also present. Taking on the fašade of a kind and wise old man, Radnor was able to seduce Acia into believing that the Amulet of Egreth belonged to her rightfully. She saw it in the hands of Dirinthrax and snatched it away, quickly slipping it on. Radnor placed a crown upon Acia’s head, one that when worn, cursed her into a deep trance. Then the evil warlock took the amulet from Acia.

Ryker was able to gain possession of the amulet for only a moment before Lia fished it into her palm with magic. Her disguise fell away, revealing her womanly figure. She used the amulet to reduce Radnor to a puddle of foul-smelling liquid. Frobwit entrapped the warlock’s essence in a crystal ball and sent it to the Egreth treasury. Little did the companions know, but the ignorant Gurthark took the crystal ball from the treasury, thinking it was but simple riches.

With Radnor defeated, the spirit of Thorman the Red-beard freed Egreth Castle from centuries of evil domination, magically restoring it to its former splendor. Acia recovered from her trance. Ryker and Acia confessed their love for one another, sharing both a passionate embrace and kiss.

The small caravan continued on its way from Egreth, leaving behind two of their number: Dirinthrax and Lia, as the new rulers of Egreth. Unknown to the caravan, the crystal ball Gurthark took as a souvenir of Egreth was not what it seemed. The sphere was the very one in which Frobwit had imprisoned Radnor’s evil essence. The sorcerer’s malevolent force, concentrated in this small sphere, would burst out in fits of rage, wreaking havoc upon those around him. There was a series of seven evils which had been prophesied to emit from the orb.

The witch Moog, who was seeking to have Radnor’s crystal ball in her possession, desired to lead the caravan towards Pheebor. Incanting a road sign changing spell, she altered the nearest sign to read “Borphee” instead of “Pheebor.” Although Ryker suspected the sign was incorrect, they were deceived into trekking the road towards Pheebor.

Later that day, the first peril commenced—an eerie light emanated from the ball, fabricating a flock of giant corbies from nowhere. One snatched Frobwit out of the wagon, carrying him far away. Ryker bravely fought off the winged aggressors with his long bow. They searched for Frobwit but were unable to determine his whereabouts.

The caravan resumed its journey, travelling through the night and into the next morning, when the second peril of the crystal ball caused Acia to suddenly grow desperately ill. Her conscious quickly slipped away. Acia was drawn out of her body into the crystal ball with Radnor, who had summoned her into his hellish reality. He had since realized that Acia was not the daughter of Thorman, but instead assumed that she was her grandmother, Althea. He told her that she was her queen and that she would help him escape from the vile prison. Then she was suddenly drawn away.

In the meantime, Ryker had gathered magical gumpwort fungus from a nearby mesa and forced Acia to eat the remedy. The cured the illness had brought her back to consciousness. Once she was better the caravan departed. As dawn broken, they turned down an overgrown path heading southeast. By mid-morning the travelers had reached the shore of the great Borphee River. The ferryman was Ryker’s uncle, Ozark. They set sail on his boat for Accardi-by-the-Sea.

Gurthark relaxed in the warm sunshine by doing a little fishing, when a sea serpent caught hold of his line, pulling him into the dark waters of the river. Ryker dove in and searched the murky waters, but could find no trace of their companion. Ryker and Acia mourned the loss of their friend. They would find him many seasons later after his expedition within the Kingdom of the Elves. The two lovers spent a romantic evening together.

The next day, the long difficult journey reached its end as the boat docked at Accardi-by-the-Sea. Ozark bid them a final farewell. A festive air pervaded the little town, which was gaily decorated for the Enchanters’ Convention. A pleasant lane led out of town to where Acia’s grandmother lived on a knoll overlooking the harbor. They reached the house by nightfall. Ryker left her to return to Accardi to drop off Gurthark’s quilts to Mirik’s shop. Before leaving, he handed Acia Gurthark’s sack containing the crystal ball, but not before it emanated—this was the fifth burst of evil, one which would transform Ryker into a hideous beast of mammoth strength when he reached town.

Acia tried to look as sweet and angelic as possible as she entered. There was no answer to her calls, and she found Althea, her grandmother, in bed—she looked terrible and was barely able to recognize her granddaughter. The old woman slipped off into a deep sleep after a nearly incomprehensible conversation. While Althea was asleep, Acia took the opportunity to see if she could find her will or fortune; but she could not locate either. When her grandmother reawakened, she inquired about the will, but was met by more confusion.

Acia’s thoughts were interrupted by a loud unnerving noise coming from the sack. A strange glow filled the room, and an electric sensation coursed through Althea’s body as the sixth burst of evil was unleashed. Althea miraculously regained all the loveliness and vigor of her youth, while Acia became as weak, withered, stooped and wrinkled as a woman many times her age. The mirror revealed the terrifying truth and Acia’s tormented screams filled the house. She lost not only her beauty and strength, but also her spirit. Althea persuaded her to lie down while she sought help at the Conventions of Enchanters and Sorcerers.

Alone, Acia realized that the crystal ball was the source of all the strange occurrences of evil. She wanted to flee the vile thing, but her ancient body did not have the energy to run. When Ryker returned in the form of a monstrous creature, Acia was terrified. It took her only a moment to realize that it was him. Ryker gave Acia a bite of the last half of the gumpwort fungus, before he devoured the rest. The two of them were restored to their unblemished states. It was then that they realized that they were destined to be together.

It was then that the seventh curse of the crystal ball broke out. Ryker, seeking to rid them of its presence, grasped the crystal. As he did so, the spirit of Radnor fought its way out of the crystal ball. It darted straight at Ryker and leapt into him. Then Ryker’s spirit floated out of his own body and into the crystal. Ryker’s body now belonged to Radnor. As he moved towards Acia to take her as his queen, he suddenly disappeared (he had been summoned by Moog as part of the Triax).

As the reign of the Triax dawned, Acia tenderly reached for the crystal ball and cradled it in her arms. It had changed from an object of horror to one of deep value. Outside the cottage, an eerie thunderclap shattered the stillness of the night as dark forces cast their evil shadow over the Kingdom of Quendor. But Acia, lost in sorrow and yearning, thought only over Ryker, trapped in the crystal ball. And it is with much disappointment that all records of the time of the Triax have been lost to us, and the fate of Acia is unknown.








SOURCE(S): Zork Quest I, Zork Quest II