Morphius behind his Suvivor board, 1647 GUE
MORPHIUS (The Cluster / Feebo's Folly)

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.

Since 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.

The 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.

However, 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.

The 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.

The 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, Inc 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 inside him.

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.

Canuk also engineered the Cliffs of Depression in order to mine translumynite. The evil entity enslaved most of the people from 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.

The 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.

Hordes 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; and it is assumed that the Legions of the Dead restricting access to the Shrine of the Six Muses (holding the secret forge) were amassed there by him.

Plans 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 being de-stoned.

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 unstoppable point.

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 himself.

In 1647 GUE, the namless Sweepstakes Winner, the nephew of Rooper, was able to 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, the Wizard Trembyle, and even Canuk were released from their stone imprisonment.

Rising to the occasion, the followers of good magic (Holy Woman, Itah, Trembyle, Canuk) moved to the center of the room and casted long forgotten 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.