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Item - In Search of the Lost Land

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Series: Proteus — no. 14
Translated Into: Az elveszett föld nyomában (Hungarian)
Author: Pracy, Ruth
Illustrators: Berdak, Keith (cover)
Frazetta, Frank (interior)
De Leuw, Dave (interior)
Dunn, Mark (interior)
Campbell, Paul (interior)
Hunter, Alan (interior)
Challenger, P. (interior)
Harrod, Gary (interior)
Garland, Roger (poster)
Date: September 18, 1987
Ed's Thoughts:

1. You walk through the dusty corridors of the Proteus archive. Without warning a formidable-looking female LIBRARIAN steps out from between two bookshelves and bars your way.

"Halt!" she commands. "None but the initiated shall pass."

If you have played or read reviews of Ruth Pracy’s earlier works (featured in issues 8 and 11 of Warlock magazine), she lets you past (turn to 16). Otherwise, she refuses to let you go any further (turn to 18).

2. You should know better than to try something like that. Your death is slow and painful, and involves aspects of the Dewey Decimal System you had no idea existed.

3. The creature rears up and begins to speak, saying, "6 is badly-punctuated and clumsily shoehorns a hidden reference into the text. 29 ignores the possibility of your having killed the Dwarf. You may lose your sword, yet suffer no penalty, and subsequent sections fail to acknowledge the possibility that you might no longer have a sword. Many sections lead to other paragraphs on the same or the facing page."

If you think knowing these weaknesses will help you get past the Adventure, turn to 19. If not, return to 13 and choose again.

4. You break the seal and open the scroll. On it is written a brief summary of the events you experienced in the Floating City and the Land of Changes while passing through the Warlock's realm. It goes on to state that you have been busy accumulating fame and fortune between then and now, which puzzles you, as the summary includes the fact of your having sworn to undertake a quest "to find the secret of the Universe, which lies beyond the mountains that rim the world, or to die in the attempt." Reading on, you feel a sensation of déjà vu as the text states that you have grown tired of wealth and power, and wish to go adventuring again.

The scroll has told you little that you could not have worked out by yourself, and in places appears to contradict your memories. You feel an urge to put parts of it into the jar of bugs. If you give in to this urge, turn to 10. If you would rather not, turn to 19.

5. This is an Adventure, not a weed! It hits you with an Instant Death faster than you can say "Capability Brown".

6. You tip out the dice. There are four of them, three resembling the ones you used in the Warlock's realm. Studying them more closely, you realise that each of them has something engraved on the uppermost face. One of the familiar-looking dice bears the message 'Dexterity: +6', the other two stick together, spelling out 'Strength: +12'. Scratches indicate where other words, possibly beginning with the letter 'S', have been obliterated. The fourth die only shows the numbers from 1 to 3, along with the word 'Wisdom'. Looking at the lower numbers does not instil in you a sense of impending doom, which comes as somewhat of a pleasant surprise. Turn to 11.

7. The Adventure is composed of 200 sections, and is the first such that you have encountered in Proteus for a while. Many of the sections are larger than any you have previously seen in a Pracy-spawned Adventure, but there are still more of them connected in simple chains than you feel is necessary. You sense that you will need to use an item from the Kit if you wish to get much further. Turn to 13.

8. The book falls open at a page depicting various aspects of Norse mythology. You recognise several of these myths within the body of the Adventure. If you think identifying some of the Adventure's roots will help you beat it, turn to 5. If not, return to 13 and choose again.

9. For a while you think you're doing all right, but before long you realise that you haven't yet achieved enough to be able to beat the Adventure. Your inevitable doom is not long in coming.

10. You open the jar. Out crawls a 183-legged creature which smells of sulphur and brimstone, even though they're both the same substance. Turn to 3.

11. You throw the dice at the Adventure. However, some instinct tells you that you will probably have to throw them several more times before you can beat it. Turn to 19.

12. Fumes from the paint on its tip cause you to see things. To your horror, you catch sight of John Pickering's skull on a spear again. Images of Frank Frazetta, Paul Campbell and Keith Berdak appear within the Adventure, giving you the impression that they existed before it came into being, and that parts of it had to take shape around them. You see two Challengers, both of which look more formidable than any you had previously seen. Then comes Gary Harrod, looking a little weaker than usual, and Mark Dunn brings along another very attractive woman. A manifestation of Dave De Leuw causes you to see double, and you perceive a small bug in the repeated image.

The vision fades. Return to 13 and choose again.

13. Will you take out:
A sealed scroll bearing the label 'Your Quest Begins'? - Turn to paragraph 4.
A cup containing dice? - Turn to paragraph 6.
A book of myths and legends? - Turn to paragraph 8.
A jar of bugs? - Turn to paragraph 10.
A paintbrush? - Turn to paragraph 12.
A carved wooden hand in the shape of a fist, the thumb sticking out? - Turn to paragraph 14.

14. The fist falls to the ground, bouncing along a narrow path, at one point going in a circle, and occasionally veering off in unexpected directions before passing through the Adventure. It comes to rest with the thumb pointing up rather than down, but its passage has made apparent several familiar-looking flaws within the Adventure. Turn to 17.

15. Suddenly, unexpectedly, and quite possibly in a manner that strikes you as very unfair, the Adventure strikes you dead.

16: You resume your journey, then stop dead as you catch sight of a RUTH PRACY MINI-ADVENTURE. A box marked `Reviewer's Kit' lies on the floor at your feet. If you want to take a closer look at the Adventure, turn to 7. If you would rather use an item from the Kit, turn to 13.

17. You beat the Adventure, though not without feeling that some of what you do in order to achieve victory is uncharacteristic and inappropriate. Turn to 20.

18. "Before you go any further, you must go here," says the Librarian, pointing to a narrow doorway at the far end of the stack of books on her left. You may do as she says (click on the link) or attack her (turn to 2).

19. The Adventure gives you little room to manoeuvre. Throw one die. If you throw 1 or 6, turn to 9. If you throw 2, 3, 4 or 5, turn to 15.

20. You get the impression that Ruth Pracy is still not entirely convinced that you are a hero, and would like to send you on yet another quest, but as far as you can tell, this will never happen.

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