The Adventurer's Dagger (A) / (art)     

As the terror of Morphius esculated in the Valley of the Sparrows, Rooper caught on to enough of the evil process and set out to destroy it before it reached an unstoppable point. Prior to the earnest beginning of the investigations, on 05 Arch 1647 GUE, Rooper prepared a help message disguised as a public-relations package to be sent to everyone in the Westlands on his mailing list. This package contained a notification that the bearer had just won the grand prize of the Dizzy World Resort sweepstakes, a map to Shanbar in the Eastlands, an instant camera, a Zony tape recorder, and a gift Tele-Orb as a bonus. All the bearer needed to do to claim the prize was to journey (at his own expense) to West Shanbar and hear a presentation by Rooper and the Wizard Trembyle.

One such adventurer from the Westlands, of whose name and age have been lost to time, was ironically was the nephew of Rooper. The chronicles and perseverance of this mysterious man have been passed on from generation to generation. He stumbled across the IT&L’s Valley of the Sparrows Resort package in the mailbox of the White House during the month of Mumberbur that same year. There had always been a spark of the pioneer (the adventurer) in him, lying dormant in his heart and soul. The enclosed letter seemed to ignite these desires. Therefore, allured by its promises, the Sweepstakes Winner set out from the White House and arrived at the Mountain Pass—the entrance of the Valley of the Sparrows. Here the Tele-orb again came to life. Until the end of the quest, the Wizard Trembyle provided helpful commentary through the illumynite-powered device. The human quickly learned that the entire valley and village of Shanbar had fallen under some dark and sinister influence, having become decayed and dysfunctional. Whole buildings had mysteriously vanished, murderous vultures infested the land, people had frequent and disturbing nightmares, featuring some dark being which referred to itself as Morphius, and many of those who had survived had become reclusive and paranoid.

One of the few townspeople the Sweepstakes Winner befriended was Ms. Mavis Peepers, the slightly dowdy town schoolmarm, who gave him a notebook, asking that he investigate the causes of the powers that had gripped East Shanbar and the rest of the land. After the defeat of Morphius, she would edit this collected information into the popular book, “The Rise and Fall of Zork.”

The exploration of the valley led the Sweepstakes Winner to discover a secret door in the cellar of the old mill. On the other side, he discovered the lost East Shanbar and the remnants of the Great Underground Empire. Here Moadikum Moodock taught the game Survivor, and gifted the traveler with a token and the Sword of Zork, which was used to defeat a clan of half-trolls that had taken residence in some ancient sewer pipes near the subterranean village. Much of the exploration of this vast realm was done in cooperation with the anthropologist Rebecca Snoot, whose father’s farm had been transported to the underworld, while he himself confined to stone imprisonment by the vultures.

The two met when the Sweepstakes Winner trespassed the Snoot residence by slipping through an open window. Their encounter took place in her bathroom. With a single punch, she knocked the intruder unconscious. After changing her clothing, she kept the human at gunpoint until consciousness returned. She proceeded to question the intruder. With the correct answer she was somehow able to tell that this suspect bore her no harm. She granted permission that anything within the house could be used in accordance with the quest. Rebecca continued to aid this adventurer by gathering information and even translating one of four jokes, which would be essential in the recovery of the six pieces of the last Flying Disc of Frobozz. In the process, the two would develop romantic interest for one another.

This specific disc, known as the Nectus, was the same one which the practitioners of evil had broken up prior to the Great Diffusion in 1247. One of the pieces was found in the bowels of a boar statue in the Forest of the Spirits, a second was hidden in some underground ruins near the same woods, and the last four were in the possession of men: the Lighthouse Keeper north of Shanbar; Cliff Robinson, the proprietor of Chuckles’ Comedy Club (It was the reward of the Big Laugh Contest, which was won when the entire crowd roared after the successful telling of four jokes from Bizboz’s ancient text “The Book of Four Jokes and Learned Essays Upon Them”); the son of Cliff, who had escaped to the overworld; and the Morphius-possessed mage Canuk.

The piece retrieved from Canuk is the most interesting of these tales. The mage was briefly freed from his imprisonment when the unknown Sweepstakes Winner used the mage’s own spell to revert him back to human form. The sweet Canuk, still unaware of the duel-personality, aided this hero. Besides translating one of four jokes, which would  be used in the acquiring of one of the pieces of the last Flying Disc of Frobozz, Canuk also sent this adventurer to gather a piece which he had obtained sometime after the disc’s sundering. The piece had been placed in a safe in the cabin of a miniature ship that rested inside a small glass bottle. Enchanted with a shrink spell, the adventurer was able to enter the bottle and removed the disc piece. Canuk, now in his possessed state, was waiting for the adventurer to emerge, who he planned to transform into a mallard. In defense, the hero wielded a shiny object as a shield, which ricocheted the spell and instead ducked the mage once again. To return to the surface, the adventurer invented Pet Vulture Rapid Transit.

When the Sweepstakes Winner arrived at the dwarven mines, above ground at the northeastern quadrant of the valley, the dwarven army had been summoned to protect their illumynite from Morphius’ thieving vultures. Their general, in collaboration with the current Head Dwarf Miner, succeeded in turning away the vultures. The dwarven general had intended to raid the Citadel of Zork and smite the evil that dared to threaten their peaceful valley, but before preparations could be finalized, the entire conflict with the vultures was put to a halt when that the nameless Sweepstakes Winner passed through the dwarven mines and finished the quest.

For on the other side was the ancient shrine which had been dedicated to six of the Muses of the Arts, the same one which may have been built by Belboz in 966 and later converted into a forge by the practitioners of evil in 1247. Our hero placed the pieces into the shrine’s trencher in the proper order (starting and the 8:00 position and laying the rest sequentially clockwise). This placement caused the eyes of the statues to turn green and the forge’s two buttons lit up. Then the red button was pressed. Due to the continual lightning strikes in this region, the Tele-orb could not be placed directly in the hand of Lib without being struck by a bolt. Thus the moving statues had to be enlisted to help place the orb safely in his hand. Following an ancient verse, the adventurer placed the following items upon each statue (from left to right): Mit, a bog stick; Selrach, a return talon; Mik, a thermos; nothing was given to Lib; Cire, a box and a miner’s helmet (an account of debatable authority also mentions that a knife was placed upon this statue); Xela, a shield from the temple of Bel Naire; Eoj, the Tele-orb.

When the red button was pressed, the forge ran, and after an extended performance by the statues, the last Flying Disc of Frobozz was successfully reforged using magical properties somehow inherent in the statues themselves. It was then tossed like a frisbee at the wall of illusion which guarded the hidden passageway to the Citadel of Zork, shattering it. Our hero raided Morphius’ home, conquering orcs and bypassing many snares, before finally arriving at the Hall of Stone and Transformation Room.

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.

In the final confrontation with Morphius, the nephew of Rooper was able to outwit Morphius by winning a round of a life-sized game of Survivor, which had been played using the actual petrified Canuk and Trembyle. To think that he had been defeated, was too much for Morphius to bear. As his terrible shriek of defeat echoed through the Citadel of Zork, he 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 finally escaped Morphius’ spell, being released from their stone imprisonment. Rising to the occasion, the followers of good magic casted long forgotten spells to again disperse evil magic and scatter the vile creature Morphius into the atmosphere. 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.

When he had returned to Shanbar, the Sweepstakes Winner was finally reunited with his uncle Rooper. Having developed romantic interest for one another during the course of their explorations, Rooper's nephew and Rebecca Snoot became a couple following the conclusion of these events; it is unknown if their relationship ever consummated in marriage.

SOURCE(S): Return to Zork (game, official backstory, design documents), A History of Quendor