FAQ/Walkthrough by Jon880

Version: 1.0 | Updated: 12/21/07 | Printable Version

PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE TWO THRONES - PC/PS2/GC/XBOX

FAQ/Walkthrough by J Woodrow  <mansion880@yahoo.co.uk>

Version 1.0 - 2007/12/12
_______________________________________________________________________________



                         P R I N C E  O F  P E R S I A
                            --  The Two Thrones  --

               Story and script by Corey May and Michael Wendshuh


-- Adaptation by J Woodrow ----------------------------------------------------



The measured words of a woman's voice told the tale.

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'We all make mistakes. Some are small, some are large.'
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Trails of stars lit black ocean waters, glittering on the surface as a ship 
glided to its course, set to the light of a new dawn.

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'But his mistake - born of innocence, fuelled by pride - was the greatest and 
most terrible of them all.'
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A young man hung over the bow, searching the way along a rocky coast. He 
fingered an amulet about his neck. A flood of memories came to him.

"All that is yours is rightfully mine..." echoed a voice.

"You cannot change your fate," came another.

He recalled another voyage, where he became swirled in waters that swept him 
to a place of destiny.

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'Some believed when the Prince journeyed to the Island of Time to escape death 
that he returned alone; the amulet destroyed, the Dahaka appeased, the Empress 
dead. The Prince was free at last. But this is not how it happened.'
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He remembered how he faced and fought a dark terrible beast, the Dahaka, 
guardian of the Timeline, giving up the amulet to end the nightmare caused 
when he inadvertently released the Sands of Time.

That was one possibility. In another he was seized by the grip of a mask, that 
allowed those cursed to wear it to change their fate. He returned to face the 
Dahaka again, and in this changed past rescued Kaileena, the Empress of Time, 
who he had once been forced to kill.

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'The truth is that he chose to save me from my destiny. In doing so, he set me 
free - and doomed us all.'
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The valiant Prince of Persia stood alone at the bow and released the amulet to 
the ocean depths. It had brought only trouble, even though it saved his life. 
Now that he had prevented creation of the Sands of Time, he would not need it 
again. Behind him a raven-haired beauty in white flowing robes came on deck.

"Prince," Kaileena stepped forward. Hers was the voice of narration, but she 
spoke directly to him now. "Of all the possible futures this one held the most 
promise. But something has changed."

"Do not worry, Kaileena, no harm will come to you in Babylon, I promise. Look, 
we are nearly home."

A skein of birds flew overhead as the ship rounded a bright sunlit cove. The 
city came into sight. A beacon blazed at the harbor mouth. Other fires burned 
too. Beyond the placid waters the Prince sensed something wrong. His eyes 
widened with shock, then narrowed as he gasped: "No!"

They drew closer and he heard anguished cries, the unmistakable sounds of 
battle. They could see now that fires of destruction swept the city as they 
approached. A missile whistled through the air, and startled them both as it 
struck down.

The homecomers were the focus of attack. A hundred flaming arrows rained into 
their ship as a legion of soldiers in hideous hawk-like masks fired volley 
after volley. The Prince ran for the tiller, and tried to steer away. The 
sails were already on fire, the tiller would not answer to his course.

High on the shore a savage brute put flame to a fireball as another chopped 
the rope that released it from a wooden catapult. It streaked through the air, 
and crashed with devastating accuracy into the little ship, smashing timbers 
and toppling the mast. The tattered sail collapsed burning to the sea. The 
stricken craft split apart, its occupants cast helpless to the boiling depths.

The Prince kicked for the surface, lungs bursting. He rose and gasped for 
breath, and flicked hair from his eyes. He clung to floating timbers and 
searched desperately about.

"Kaileena," he called. "Kaileena!"

The body of the woman was carried by wreckage beyond his outstretched arm. He 
saw her seemingly lifeless body drift towards the burning shore.

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'As our ship lay sinking in the harbor the Prince found himself in a city 
quite different from the one he had left behind. The normally busy wharves 
were now decimated. Blood-spattered awnings and splintered doorframes were 
all that waited to greet him. And the people - merchants, beggars, fishermen - 
were nowhere to be found. Others had taken their place.'
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The Prince hauled himself out of the water. He stood on a dock and surveyed 
the devastation along the shore. Kaileena lay at the sea edge. Hulking horned 
brutes descended to where she had drifted to land. One rolled her roughly with 
his boot. Though there appeared no signs of life, a second brute heaved her 
across his shoulder. The Prince looked on helpless, and shouted from a 
distance: "Let her go!" If his words could be heard they were ignored.

Ships of the invaders crowded the harbor, the home fleet turned to burning 
hulks. At the dock edge, bodies lay strewn to a low wooden door, smashed 
through at its foot. He rolled beneath.

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'The Prince made his way along the torn and blasted district, haunted by 
visions from his past: the dockside tavern where he had spent many late nights 
was now reduced to cinders. Babylon's proud armada which he would often come 
to greet lay cracked and broken, cast to the bottom of the Euphrates.'
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Inside, devastation was everywhere. Smoke filled the air, rising from cast 
metal fireballs that had smashed the thick walls. More pathetic bodies lay 
scattered, and from a battlement above came the sound of labored struggle, 
where desperate defenders fought on. Though unarmed, the Prince hurried over 
parapets that he might somehow lend assistance - although he could not 
comprehend what disaster had befallen his city he had to do something to help 
save it. He ran across a gap in a wall, and as he passed close underneath saw 
a lone defender trade heavy blows with a horn-helmeted soldier such as those 
that dragged Kaileena away. The Prince could find no way to climb up, and was 
forced to leave the poor fellow to his fate.

Past more bloody corpses a ladder brought him down a shallow ramp to a closed 
yard. Flames crackled off a fiery ball that had smashed through the roof.

"Everywhere there are signs of battle," the Prince thought grimly, "but what 
of Babylon's guard? Where have they all gone?"

Several lay slumped in the yard with him, a sheet of arrows struck across a 
door evidence enough of their valiant yet hopeless defense.

A thick wooden column stretched floor to ceiling, and he grasped tight to 
climb as high as he could until he faced back to a second column. He jumped 
over to climb higher still and back to the first. From its height he jumped 
off to a high wooden platform. Doors here were firmly shut. Looking about, he 
observed a niche running along the far wall near its height. He made his way 
over a plank dais to hang off its rail in order to jump back to his column at 
its highest section, from which he could reach the niche.

He shimmied confidently to a corner, where he dropped down to a stone pillar 
platform. Though temporarily halted, his ingenuity came into play. He spotted 
a short ledge at an opposite corner, and executed his characteristic wall run 
to reach it. An astounding feat for a man with less courage and ability than 
the agile Prince. He clung to the ledge, and by a continuation of the niche 
shimmied to a gap in the wall and pulled up.

Flames crackled where a fireball had broken through. Rumbles of distant 
explosions told of the battle that raged outside. Light streamed through dust 
in the shattered room beyond, where loose debris fell. A stone fountain basin 
babbled to one side, and the weary Prince jumped down to take a draft and 
clear his head.

-- THE RAMPARTS ---------------------------------------------------------------

Having seen so much horror already, the young Prince scarcely noticed the body 
of a defender that lay broken at one side. He ran on down wooden stairs to a 
balcony that looked over a courtyard. Standing below in clear view here and 
there were sentries of the invading army. At last he might be able to confront 
the enemy, and exact some revenge.

He scaled a ladder to high ramparts. Fires of destruction burned across domes 
and rooftops all around. The noise of battle was louder here, screams of women 
and men lost in the thunder of explosions. On a rooftop nearby, remnants of 
his father's guard kept up their vain defense. The Prince hurried to join 
them, though yet unarmed.

He stepped cautiously inside a low building. A short blade lay stuck into a 
table top within. The Prince pondered. "Why is it that every time disaster 
strikes, I find myself without a proper blade?" He snatched it up. "Still, 
it's better than nothing."

A guard stood outside. His horned mask gave the appearance of some savage 
beast. The Prince ducked down and crept up behind.

He glanced at his new blade; it seemed sufficient to deal with the guard, if 
he struck swiftly. He crept up behind and seized the wretch. His warrior's 
instinct told him the moment to strike with the blade: one slash across the 
back, then a thrust to the throat, and with grim satisfaction the Prince 
watched him fall. On the ramparts below the Prince sensed another guard on 
patrol. Across the burning rooftops he saw soldiers locked in hand-to-hand 
combat with yet more of the pitiless invaders. He must do what he could.

He swung over a railing and jumped to a column. It was too far to reach the 
valiant troops, but he slid swiftly down and came behind the pacing sentry he 
noticed from above. He waited until his back was turned, then dropped and 
moved quickly behind, where first a slash and then a thrust was enough to deal 
a second death.

Another enemy stood in arrogant stance below, and the Prince ran out on a wall 
to work his way somehow down. He grabbed hold of a niche and shimmied along, 
working up and across another where fire burned intensely. He passed right over 
the head of the seemingly deaf soldier, where from a wooden platform he 
descended a ladder to meet him. Almost incredibly, the sentry remained unaware 
of his approach, and as he dropped closer even turned his back to continue 
patrol. The Prince did not waste this good fortune. He sensed that if he were 
to make headway through a sea of enemies, he had best use each weapon in his 
armory, and though innately against to his warrior instincts he faced hopeless 
odds; at this stage his weapons must include stealth. He dropped silently and 
crouched low, moving swiftly behind the sentry to execute the assassin's speed 
kill maneuver. As before, he waited for the very moment to unleash the strike. 
With each enemy dispatched he felt this skill increased, and there would surely 
be many more chances to test it. From the body he kicked to hand a more fitting 
weapon.

He moved down steps to an empty courtyard. From what had gone before it seemed 
too quiet, and the Prince explored cautiously. A door was closed at either end, 
so he moved towards an archway in one corner. Here, his instinct urged further 
caution, and as he approached, he peeped carefully round.

Sure enough, a hulking Guard stood sentry. This brute stood in full view, and 
seemed disinclined to move away. There was no prospect that he might catch him 
unawares as the others. No matter, the Prince had abilities other than stealth. 
He showed himself and challenged the Guard head on. The invader rushed forward 
with a roar of command. "Halt!" The Prince threw up his blade as the Guard 
crashed his weapon down as if to cleave him in two. Their swords clashed, and 
the Prince unleashed a few blows to subdue the attack. He blocked again, beaten 
back by the immense but merely brutal strength of his opponent. With superior 
agility, the Prince ducked around to leap in again, striking over and over 
until the wretch fell back with a groan.

Along the passage at a corner, water rushed in streams. This was part of 
Babylon's complex sewer system. Here he needed to draw on his unique ability 
to cross over walls at a run, this time with a carefully executed leap 
backwards to a ledge. He came to the foot of a ladder, and rose to a chamber. 
Through a narrow window he dropped to the battlements again.

In a courtyard below, a door opened, and the hulking brutes from the harbor 
appeared, dragging between them a limp body.

"Kaileena!" gasped the Prince.

They moved through an iron gate at the entrance to the fortress. It slammed 
shut behind.

"No!" the Prince pounded his fist in frustration, and hung his head. He was 
yet powerless to intervene. "No way into the city now," the Prince realized. 
"I will have to climb the siege tower and enter from above."

He needed to find a way off his battlement, shattered at one side by a blazing 
fireball. At the other was a long red cloth banner, reaching almost to the 
ground. Taking up his blade, the Prince ran over to it, then plunged the blade 
into the cloth. He slid down, shearing the banner but breaking his fall to the 
bottom. Once again daring and ingenuity led him where ordinary men could not 
follow.

He landed among the short scrubby vegetation of the shore, close by the still 
burning defenses. He found the heavy gates where the kidnappers dragged 
Kaileena through. These would not open. Blood stained the ground to attest the 
brutality of the siege. As he stood wondering how he might follow inside, 
running footsteps came up from behind. Three hulking Guards hurried to 
confront him.

Now there was no option but to fight. The Prince moved swiftly, closing with 
the first. He managed to beat him to a halt, but the others crowded in, set to 
overwhelm him. He put to use his superior agility, and rolled and tumbled 
aside. He found he could easily vault over the clumsy brutes, and he was at 
his most powerful then. If they pinned him to a corner he could launch himself 
off a wall, sending them scattered like ninepins. As one closed on him he 
threw his spare blade in his face, then jumped over to grab the hapless enemy 
by the shoulders and fling him to the sea. The others soon had the fight 
knocked out of them.

Alone on the devastated shore the Prince weighed his options. The fight was 
inside the city. High above, fireballs streaked the sky.

The enemy had raised a wooden siege tower against the mighty city walls. A 
forbidding animal skull adorned the entrance flanked by shields and weaponry. 
This was how they gained access, and so might he. The Prince hurried in.

A ladder had been propped to the rear wall, from which The Prince jumped to 
the suspended end of another. He swung himself about and climbed to a higher 
level.

"I can sense the others who have passed through this place, intent on bringing 
harm to my family."

Another ladder hung just out of reach, yet with his acrobatic ability the 
Prince ran upwards on a wall to spring back to a wooden ledge facing it, and 
from there to the foot of the ladder. He rose to a higher level, shields 
framing the walls above empty weapon racks. The Prince realized these were 
even now being used in the destruction of his city, and against the people of 
Babylon.

Birds flapped away as he emerged to the light. He stood atop a mechanism that 
lowered a gate from the tower to breach the walls beside. Sure enough, this is 
where the enemy must have swept into the city. He saw again the evidence of 
destruction.

"Four weeks I have been at sea, and every day spent dreaming of my return to 
Babylon. But never in all my visions of the future did I suspect a homecoming 
such as this. War! It is the only answer. But war with who, and why?"

Far in the distance was the great Tower of Babylon, looming over the heart of 
the city. That must be his goal, for if defenders lived, they would surely 
rally there.

He dropped to battlements, edged in sharpened pikes. Soldiers fought on across 
the rooftops. He scaled a low wall to a wooden roof, on fire at one side. 
Birds scattered at his approach, alerting an enemy patrolling just underneath. 
This was a soldier armed with a bow such as those who fired arrows at his 
ship. His feathered mask with sharp protruding beak gave the appearance of a 
demonic bird creature. The Prince ducked down and drew his sword. As the 
sentry appeared to settle he ran out on the wall over his head, and caught to 
a ledge. He dropped behind, with the element of surprise. The sentry proved 
quicker than the clumsy Guards, and soon came alert. He fired an arrow that 
caught the Prince hard. As he tried to recover the agile enemy bounded away, 
and dealt another arrow in his direction. The Prince blocked it with his sword 
and closed again before the Archer was able to prime another, and finished him 
with a few swift strokes. This enemy could trouble him at distance; he would 
be wary of others.

Babylon's defenders fought on across rooftops, but still there was no way to 
reach them. Inside a doorway a ladder led down, where more of the enemy 
lurked. A Guard paced a rough passage. Light streamed at small windows under 
narrow ledges that ran along the walls. The Prince noticed that, perhaps 
because of their heavy helmet masks, these simple soldiers seemed not to 
notice when he approached from above. With this small advantage, he climbed 
swiftly to a ledge, and inched along to come close behind, where he dropped to 
execute his speed kill maneuver. At the passage end stood another enemy of the 
Archer division. This too remained unaware of his approach until he grabbed it 
by the neck and wrestled it backwards. He bent the Archer to his knees and 
leaped over, bringing his blade down, spraying blood that sent him choking and 
gurgling to the floor.

He hopped a low wall to a silent passage strewn with meager supplies, and 
climbed a ladder. He emerged now to the city streets. A stone fountain stood 
to one side.

-- THE HARBOR DISTRICT --------------------------------------------------------

A rug swayed on a rod over a doorway. The Prince made his way out on a plank 
platform to a turret rooftop.

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'You should know that it was not love that drove him, but duty. I was his 
responsibility; he had made a promise, a promise that was now broken and 
undone. As with all mistakes he had made, the Prince meant to fix this. A 
noble goal to be certain, but a selfish one as well, for he was motivated to 
ease his own pain.'
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Down in the courtyard below he saw the two thugs drag the still unconscious 
Kaileena through the streets. Others beat and kicked helpless citizens that 
cowered on the ground. Kaileena and her captors disappeared through heavy 
gates that creaked and banged shut behind.

The Prince made his way around narrow ledges, and out on wooden spars to 
platforms set high above the streets below. The sound of vicious beatings 
carried up, amid more distant screams and echoing moans. Rich carpets hung to 
dry from rails, signs of the ordinary life snatched from these people. His 
people. The Prince kept grimly to his task: he rolled under a shattered door 
to another balcony above the street below.

"I know these streets... knew them, anyway. I must keep pace with Kaileena if 
I am to find the one responsible for this."

He saw the two brutes drag Kaileena through another gate down below. He jumped 
out to a wooden beam, just as a door closed shut behind them. As he dropped to 
a lower beam, birds scattered, alerting the guards left behind. He hung 
motionless for a few moments until they resumed their posts, then dropped 
between them, hoping to put to advantage his swift skill with the blade. The 
first fell soon enough, but the second guard came alert, and fired an arrow to 
his direction. The Prince closed in and struck with his sword. The Archer 
blocked with his bow across his body, and as the Prince kept up the furious 
assault somersaulted away to gain space to fire another arrow. Now it was the 
Prince's turn to block, and he skillfully deflected each arrow, until he 
sprang forward to finish the cunning foe. Blood sprayed profusely as he 
crumpled with a groan.

There was no way through the gate where the guards dragged Kaileena. Wooden 
beams across a narrow space at one end of the enclosed alley gave hope of 
progress. He executed athletic maneuvers to ascend, and made his way past rugs 
hung out for beating to face a narrow chute between buildings. He balanced out 
on a wooden strut off a beam and jumped forwards, to wedge himself tight in 
the slender space. He slid to ground and released.

Two brutish guards hurried through a door to attack, swords drawn in unison. 
He was now adept at face-to-face combat and divided his attack between them, 
holding off one as he dealt with the other. He made use of close walls, 
rebounding off to send them tumbling, or vaulted over their heads to slash 
down as he landed. With one dead, and his busy weapon exhausted, the Prince 
turned to the next and jumped in the air, landing a stubby kick to the face. 
The body crumpled, and he stood over the stunned brute and struck him through 
on the ground, taking from him a weapon to replace the one he just lost.

He made ever more daring and precarious jumps off beams to a second chimney 
chute. He could climb up as easily as down, and hauled himself to a high 
balcony platform. Bodies of the dead lay even here, and fire blazed at every 
window. He jumped far above the street to a beam, and slid expertly down a 
slender chute.

An unwary guard patrolled directly below, and in a few deadly seconds became 
another body among those all around.

A fire blazed under a door at the foot of some steps, but the way ahead lay 
down a narrow walkway alongside. As he moved along it he heard a low growl, 
and spotted guards waiting in a courtyard round a burning pedestal below. He 
crept forwards and decided to jump to a wooden construction dead ahead. As he 
landed birds took flight, and might have alerted the guards, but they seemed 
to possess limited reasoning, and once the commotion was stilled returned to 
their station. He was right above the first. He dropped in a flash, and took 
him with two strokes of his Dagger. He crept behind the Archer companion and 
finished him with only one, albeit that he had to drag him to his knees and 
hold him down before judging the moment to strike.

There was no door from the courtyard, but the Archer had stood by a ladder, 
and up it the Prince found a platform with a jetty pointing to a balcony rail. 
He soon made his way over and moved on, spotting a patrolling Archer before he 
was seen. He swiftly made the enemy soldier pay.

He rolled under a broken door at the passage end, and found a fountain basin 
at a turn, where wooden buildings crackled with flame.

-- THE STREETS OF BABYLON -----------------------------------------------------

His first inclination was to drop over a rail to the streets below, yet he 
noticed two guards patrolling at a farther balcony, and stayed his hand to look 
for a route that he might challenge them where they stood. An outhouse section 
stood to one side, its door ablaze. From its roof he had height enough to run 
out on a wall and spring away to grab a wooden beam over the heads of the two 
sentries. As one moved away, the Prince chose the moment to drop down and 
finish him with two slashes of his blade. The second stood unaware as he crept 
up behind and slashed just once.

In the streets below the beating of subjugated citizens continued. The Prince 
hurried out to a projecting beam and jumped from it to a covered walkway. This 
led up steps to an apparent dead end. Yet the agile Prince had another 
strength to his repertoire: aligning himself between close facing walls he 
began an athletic maneuver whereby he sprang back and forth between them, 
ascending on each jump and arriving shortly at a ledge strung on the wall 
above. No ordinary man could easily replicate this feat. He scaled higher 
ledges and came around to a high beam over the deserted streets below.

"Where is kind Asha," the Prince wondered, "who would stand before her stall 
selling fruits and flowers? Or the Arab children, making trouble as all young 
ones do? Gone, all gone."

With heavy heart he pressed on over high wooden beams to a platform, where he 
looked down to a small enclosed space. Two brutish Guards stood ready. He did 
not wish greater exertion than was needed; he hopped the low rail and jumped 
away to grab at a ledge on a building opposite. He was placed now between the 
two, and might easily have dropped to finish the first, but he had learned the 
benefits of patience, and waited until both had backs turned. At that moment 
he landed behind, to finish first one, then the other.

The enclosed area they patrolled stood open at one place. Water poured from 
spouts to run to a pool below. The Prince edged out across beams and ledges to 
a broken balcony rail. Sunlight shafted through a thatched roof where there 
was a high open platform. He stood on the edge, and noticed dark hand prints 
smudged the walls. He saw at first no means of advancement, yet decided on a 
bold run out on the wall at that point, and a leap of faith to a wooden rail 
that struck out parallel. His nimble athleticism was such that he was able to 
spring up off the wall alongside to grasp on to a second rail even higher, and 
from that to a wide doorway broken into a wall ahead. Flames licked its 
shattered timber, and a fireball smoldered within. The weary Prince took 
sustenance at a fountain basin.

-- THE PALACE BALCONY ---------------------------------------------------------

He stepped over the bodies of fallen soldiers, and emerged over a low 
balustrade to a tiled roof along a secluded yard. An open balcony beckoned him 
to a familiar building.

"Home," he reflected, "and yet nothing is as I remember. Objects once familiar 
and comforting now fill me with uncertainty and dread. What has happened 
here?"

A Guard paced a balcony ahead. The Prince waited until the figure disappeared 
inside the Palace, then ran out along a wall and sprang to the balcony. 
Stealthily he advanced, and lest the guard return slipped up the wall to a 
ledge that ran overhead. He inched along until he was directly over the 
sentry. An Archer patrolled nearby. His father's home was now filled with 
invaders, and he would stretch every sinew to rid it of all. He waited until 
the Archer was out of sight before he fell upon his first victim.

He crouched and advanced into the Palace. He took up a vantage point behind a 
large carved screen that divided the entry, and peeped round. The Archer 
patrolled into a long hall. Another Archer stood halfway down, and the Prince 
realized he would be seen if he made a rash move. He did not need to be told 
that the nimble bowmen could prove troublesome together, and looked for some 
way to come up on one or other of them unnoticed. He spotted a partitioned 
room just behind where the second Archer stood, and chose a moment when that 
sentry turned aside to run for it. A stack of pots at the Archer's side gave 
no hope of direct attack.

He made it safely into the side room. A piece of low furniture was enough to 
let him run up and reach a high beam. He crept out, directly over the head of 
the unwary sentry. The other had its back turned. He dropped down and finished 
the one underneath with scarcely a sound, and crept swiftly to the other and 
dealt his now practiced surprise. He was the intruder here, and stealth his 
most precious asset.

All doors from the hall were shut. The Prince cast about for some means to 
advance, and determined to reach a high walkway along one side of the room. To 
hand was a pedestal table, and he clambered up for a better look. On the wall 
above the table were set curious decorative plates. Each had a hole at the 
center, just right to accept the blade of a dagger. He hopped up and stabbed 
for the hole. It bore his weight perfectly, and his strength and athleticism 
were enough to reach for the higher plate from it. Now he sprang backwards to 
the walkway.

A door here was shut, but the open end of the walkway gave prospects for 
advancement. A wooden shutter projected at an angle out along the wall, just 
within reach if he ran out on it. The shutter proved to be a sprung device 
that shot him far along the wall at an angle, this happy circumstance allowing 
him to land safe on a balcony. Less happily, there was only a single door, and 
that firmly shut. The door bore the familiar symbol of Babylon: an eight-
pointed star in concentric device. A floor tile nearby bore the identical 
symbol. The Prince moved to investigate a weapon rack against the wall, and as 
he stepped over the tile it depressed, and became faintly illuminated. A 
switch activated and the door opened up behind. Eagerly the Prince ran for it, 
and passed underneath only just before it closed down again. There was no 
switch this side, but he understood the principal of the mechanism, and 
resolved to keep alert for the possibility of other switches to other doors.

He was in another hall, this of rich decoration. A low table to one edge of 
the balcony where he stood gave height for a run out over a wall, yet he 
judged the distance to the far side too great even for his abilities. However, 
he spotted a plate on the wall halfway across, and prepared his blade. Sure 
enough, as he reached the limit of his incredible wall run, he passed over the 
plate, where he stabbed with his blade and caught on. He hung for a moment to 
regain composure, and noticed a Guard at the middle of the floor down below. 
He dropped to a beam just over his head. He faced a dagger plate in the 
opposite wall, and hopped quietly to stab into it. Now behind the enemy, he 
was more easily able to attack.

Now he needed to reach a high balcony at the end of the hall. He shinned up a 
thin column support to a projecting beam. As he pulled up he heard a light 
cough from an enemy nearby. He hopped to the balcony and crouched down. At the 
end of the walkway he spotted an Archer waiting the other side of a decorative 
screen. This enemy would surely see him if he advanced recklessly. A thin 
ledge led all the way along the walkway just overhead. He hauled up and edged 
along, coming right above the Archer. The Prince jumped to narrow space 
between walls over his head, and turned about to drop behind. A squirt of 
blood and a dying groan, and he had the balcony to himself.

He heard footsteps and the chink of armor below. A Guard paced the vestibule. 
The Prince hopped his balcony rail and sprang to the top of an ornate 
decorative screen. He fell on the wretch as he passed underneath, and slashed 
him expertly up and down with hardly a sound. He crouched by instinct as he 
heard another enemy somewhere nearby.

Doors at one end were shut, but the vestibule led into an open chamber at the 
other. Furniture had been propped across its doorway, perhaps as hasty defense 
by the men whose bodies lay all around. Unable to climb over, the Prince was 
forced to smash the obstruction with his sword. This alerted the sentry he now 
saw on a balcony within the chamber, so he quickly ducked out of sight. The 
sentry saw nothing amiss and returned to his post, and now the Prince crept 
right up beneath.

He hopped to the rail under the Guard's very nose, and shimmied stealthily 
behind. In a swift move he jumped over and overwhelmed him. Although the 
Prince had complete confidence in fighting ability, he allowed that he was 
deep inside enemy-held territory, and reckless assault could prove more than 
costly.

There seemed no way off the small balcony, yet he spotted now familiar dagger 
plates on a wall overhead. He jumped to catch the first, and another above it, 
and was then faced with a strenuous sideways run to a third. He caught on just 
right, and ran off to a balcony at the side.

He observed an Archer on an opposite balcony, back over the chamber on a level 
with his. The sentry seemed unaware of his presence. From a low table to the 
balcony rail the Prince judged he could run across a sprung shutter, and as he 
did so he adopted a refinement: he flew through the air towards the Archer and 
simultaneously unleashed his lightning speed kill. The enemy didn't stand a 
chance.

A large door here would not open. He noticed a beam projected overhead, and 
performed a deft upward wall run in one corner to reach it.

"I should be resting now," he declared, "recovering from my time away. Or 
sitting with Father. Instead I am forced to run and hide, sneaking about like 
a common thief. Hunted in my own city."

Still he must press on. Off his short beam he reached to another, and climbed 
up on a ledge around a higher balcony space. He jumped over and hopped a low 
rail, then ducked as he noticed two sentries at the balcony exit. They seemed 
not to see him, but he could not reach them directly since a barricade was 
strung between. He jumped up on a low table and ran up for a stab to a dagger 
plate. Now he had elevation to run off to one side and spring to a screen top. 
He edged over the barricade and came close to the first sentry below. The 
second paced to the far end of a long corridor. The Prince jumped into a tight 
space between walls over the first sentry and dropped to finish him quickly. 
Then he crept up towards the other.

This stationed himself in a doorway, and seemed set there. Pots to one side 
would make a stealth approach impossible. The Prince crouched behind a low 
table and considered his options. He noticed a beam overhead, and thought it 
likely that he could work to a partition room to one side, and off dagger 
plates in a wall to another beam and an overhead jump to narrow walls, where 
he could complete a stealthy speed attack.

A sudden rage grew in him. This was his home, his father's palace, and these 
wretches had no right to violate it with their presence. He emerged from 
hiding and faced the invader directly. Hang the consequences, he would show 
them a warrior's steel. The clumsy thug was no match for his wrath, and the 
Prince took some small satisfaction in beating him to the ground. All was now 
quiet.

To one side was a smaller chamber, and an inner sanctum where sculptures of 
twin bearded figures in robes gazed down from niches in one wall. Ancestors 
perhaps. A low dais gave height to a dagger plate on a wall, and the Prince 
clambered to a balcony ledge. A door opened up, and close above his head on 
the very balcony where his fingertips clung, the two thugs hauled the still 
unconscious Kaileena away. He scrambled desperately to an opening in the rail 
where he managed to climb up, but was in time only to see them depart through 
yet another closing door. Still, he was close on the trail.

To one side of the balcony he recognized a switch tile, but mounted vertically 
on the wall instead of on the floor. Its operation would surely be the same. 
From a low dais underneath he ran up over it, and a hatch opened high in the 
wall above. Not for the first time, the many intricacies of the palace design 
were to work to his advantage! He quickly jumped for a beam underneath and 
climbed through before the hatch closed down again.

Inside he found a water basin at which to refresh himself.

-- THE PALACE -----------------------------------------------------------------

He started down a seemingly silent corridor. A section of floor was peppered 
with rows of tiny holes that flashed briefly as his feet passed across. 
Suddenly a carpet of sprung steel blades triggered at his footfall, and he ran 
quickly ahead. A timely reminder that the palace bore many traps for the 
unwary.

A turn in the passage brought fresh danger. A semicircular blade of bloodied 
steel swept round from a slot the full width of the floor. He stood close and 
observed its relentless circuit, and dived through the short space it left on 
rotation. Just beyond this lethal device a half log rolled methodically in a 
wide groove across the passage floor. As it turned, sharpened spikes shot out. 
As design had it, though its face was deadly the reverse side was flat, and 
allowed him to choose the very moment he needed to dash across before it 
flipped to display its savage spikes again. He clambered safely up a short 
wall behind.

Facing him was another semicircular blade, mounted vertically this time from 
the wall where he must pass ahead. He once more chose the exact moment to run 
through as it swept down about halfway, and he ran on to spring off that wall 
into a second passage.

Here another rotating log device took the place of a blade, flipping round and 
around across his path over the wall. Again it took a few moments of 
observation to decide the right moment to run out, and this time as he passed 
over there was a sprung shutter at the end of the run that shot him to the 
mouth of another passage.

The floor comprised telltale holes that signaled spike tiles, and behind it a 
low wall bore another rotating spiked log. He waited until the spiked surface 
seemed ready to drop back to the wall and ran out, over the tiles and up over 
the log to pull up on the wall with alacrity. This increased test of his 
ability might even be considered training, since the traps seemed to increase 
in fiendish complexity, yet served to hone his instincts better each time.

Now there was a pair of bloody blades in the floor. These turned at the same 
lethal rate, though one rolled slightly behind the other. It meant that he 
needed to time safe crossing more finely than before. He came to the end of 
the passage, where a brazier burned brightly. It was attached to the top of a 
small wooden device with a long handle protruding from one side. With no other 
option to hand the Prince put his shoulder to the handle and turned the 
device.

A sculpture moved aside in a room up above, revealing a hatch into the floor. 
It was too high for the Prince to reach up to. A long thin metal plate on the 
wall nearby looked like a switch of some kind, but bore no lever or means of 
operation. The Prince took out his weapon and jumped up to slot it into the 
device. As hoped, it acted as a lever and set the switch to operation. A block 
extended from the wall under the hatch at his back.

As he dropped down to investigate the block slowly retracted. The switch was 
evidently on a frustratingly short timer. He set it again, and lost no time 
jumping up on the block. The hatch was still out of reach, but he gained 
enough height to pull up on a ledge, and from that pulled himself up and 
hauled through the hatch.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
'Pay attention to what the Prince overheard as he drew close to where I was 
being kept.'
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The sculpture that moved was one of four set about a grand pillared hall. The 
Prince moved cautiously inside, and noticed a sentry paced on a platform block 
high overhead. To one end of the hall was a fountain.

-- THE THRONE ROOM ------------------------------------------------------------

Massive doors to the room were shut. The Prince looked about but saw no means 
to leave at ground level. He spied a ledge overhead, and a dagger plate 
alongside. He climbed up on one of the sculptures underneath, and heard a 
voice from somewhere nearby.

"Many years ago I journeyed with the Maharajah of India to the Island of Time, 
intending to claim its secrets."

The voice was somehow familiar. The Prince listened intently.

"What we discovered was a barren ruined place, its halls deserted and its 
guardians gone to sand. Strange tales adorned its walls, which spoke of an 
empress - an Empress of Time! But of this enigmatic creature there was no 
trace. We returned to India with treasure nonetheless: a Staff; a Dagger; an 
empty Hourglass covered in jewels; and books - such secrets they contained! 
For even then I was an older man, and knew that my time would soon be at an 
end. The books showed me that life eternal was not beyond my reach, but it 
required the essence of the Empress herself. The power of the Sands. But you 
were gone, they were gone, or so I thought. I turned my attention towards 
other pursuits and left that dream behind. But then, four weeks ago, the 
Dagger stirred, and showed me things, whispered to me in my sleep. It drew me 
here towards Babylon. Alas, the Maharajah did not share my vision, would not 
grant me leave... So I slew him and claimed his kingdom, his army for my own. 
Nothing would stand between me and my desire!"

So that was what had happened here: a kingdom laid waste by a madman in search 
of immortality. The invaders had come to Babylon in search of Kaileena, the 
Empress of Time, and now the Prince had delivered her into their hands!

With a sense of foreboding he scrambled up to the dagger plate, and on to the 
small platform. The Archer sentry seemed not to have seen him. The Prince 
launched himself from a shutter and thrust his blade deep into the body of the 
invader. He ran along a wall to a facing platform, and mounted a block in the 
corner.

From its height he ran on to a sprung shutter, that launched him through the 
air to a pillar ledge. By use of a dagger plate the Prince jumped to a ledge 
and crept out on a beam, directly over the head of another Archer. From a spur 
off the beam he jumped to a tight chute formed by a decorative arch. On 
sliding down he was perfectly placed to execute a speed kill on the unwary 
sentry. He first bent him back, and then thrust the blade deep into the 
cowardly gut.

A ledge at one side led around to a dagger plate, where with a daring wall run 
the Prince jumped backwards to a thick pillar. On a wide open balcony nearby 
yet another Archer paced. He waited until its back was turned, then jumped to 
a slender column and off it to the balcony. He closed fast behind the Archer, 
and sliced him apart with a stealthy stroke.

In a lantern lit recess behind thin rustling gauze drapes sat an ornate carved 
high-backed chair. This was the magnificent Throne Room, and here all around 
were the bodies of men who had died trying to defend it.

Two Guards were in evidence below. A wide sweeping staircase led to where they 
stood waiting, but the Prince judged it too reckless to confront them so 
boldly. He spotted a more inviting possibility, and hopped the balcony rail 
near one corner to jump out to a slender pillar that matched the one he had 
used to get up here. From it he jumped to another tight chute, with a window 
behind, now close over the heads of the unwitting Guards. He dropped between 
them and took both by surprise. He took a quick slash across the back of the 
first, then hopped to repeat the attack on the other. Then he somersaulted to 
finish the first, and as the second staggered to his feet, bounded back and 
finished him too with his blade.

An open doorway stood behind. The menacing voice had come from outside. He 
knew that Kaileena was in great danger, though he had assured her of safety.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
'Recklessly the Prince drew his weapon and charged forward, intending to 
rescue me. It was as if he had learned nothing from his past adventures, or 
perhaps he had simply forgotten? Made blind and deaf by fear and rage.'
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kaileena gazed impassively, arms tied above her head. Her calm defiance belied 
her helpless situation, held captive under a sacrificial arch on a terrace open 
to the skies.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
'This is how it happened. This is how I died.'
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A sinister black-turbaned figure moved towards her, Guards at his side.

The Prince ran forward with a cry. "No!"

A squat, thuggish, bare-chested man with a bald head in a flat leather mask 
turned as the rushing figure sprinted up steps behind.

The Prince dived to attack but his raised arm was caught suddenly by a barbed 
chain that wrested the sword from his hand. This savage Daggertail pulled him 
to the ground, where the bald-headed thug held him at bay with a trident 
spear.

The Daggertail was wielded by a curiously attired female, similarly masked in 
elaborate horned headdress, who landed with a squawk of intrigue. "What have 
we here?"

These were the trusted lieutenants of the invading army. Their master turned, 
eyes burning, his gray, consumptive skin pocked with sores. The young Prince 
recognized the lined, bearded face.

"The Vizier!"

His enemy from another time held a staff to Kaileena's throat.

"Ah, you must be the Prince of Persia, come home at last," he sneered, 
blackened teeth bared. "Too late, I'm afraid."

The Prince struggled against the grip of the fiendish weapon tight around his 
arm. The Vizier returned to the bound woman. His voice oozed venom.

"I believe I have something of yours?"

He drew out a weapon that the Prince knew only too well: the Dagger of Time. 
As the shocked Kaileena stared at the weapon that she knew could destroy her, 
the evil Vizier thrust the blade hard into the abdomen of his helpless victim. 
She moaned as breath left her body.

"No!" the Prince shouted. "Kaileena!"

The lieutenants watched in awe as a brilliant cloud of light formed above the 
sacrificial arch. The body of the Empress faded to a translucent glow. Golden 
Sands formed in the image of the dead woman, then rose into the air. Clouds 
gathered and burst into light.

The Vizier shielded his eyes as the Sands swept down. A thick choking cloud 
overtook the lieutenants and washed against the Prince, still bound on the 
floor. The weapon cast about his arm glittered and cracked as the Sands hit. 
He wrestled free.

Guards and the two lieutenants screamed as they were seized in the grip of the 
choking storm that began a terrible transformation in their bodies. The Prince 
had been stung to a lesser extent. The Sands trailed away and rushed to the 
Dagger. Its blade glowed as the Vizier held it aloft.

"A promise of power fulfilled," he cried. "I will be immortal!"

In both hands he held the Dagger to the skies, then plunged it deep into his 
stomach. As the blade withdrew glowing Sand burst from the wound.

The Vizier clutched his arms, seized by a ghastly transformation as his body 
was lashed by the power of the Sands. Stubs of wings sprouted from his back, 
his body twisted under fearful contortions. Clothing was rent asunder as his 
body crackled and tore. The wretched figure gasped for air as, like a moth 
from a cocoon, tentacles writhed free and flared into life. On wild flapping 
wings the changed Vizier soared across the sky, trailing Sand.

The Dagger of Time clattered to the floor.

The Prince ran urgently forward, giving short panting breaths as he strained 
to beat clouds of dust that rolled from the crumbling palace. The ground 
shook, the floor gave way, and he was cast into a pit.

Rock fell all around as he plunged to oblivion, fingers outstretched to grasp 
for the Dagger of Time tumbling through the air just in sight. He clutched its 
hilt and thrust with both hands to scrape the indestructible blade against 
solid rock in a desperate bid to break his fall. A trail of Sand splintered 
the air as the Dagger screeched, but slowed his descent.

He fell heavily among the debris, and sprang to his feet, dazed but mercifully 
alive.

His forearm glowed like burning coal where the wounds from the Daggertail were 
now infected by the Sands. Barbs protruded from swollen flesh but he was numb 
to the pain. It seemed unlikely as yet to impede his fighting ability, but he 
must seek urgent remedy where he may. He looked at the precious blade in his 
hand. "Father, forgive what I have done, wherever you are."

             ----------------------------------------------

                            YOU HAVE GAINED
                          T H E  R E C A L L

             ----------------------------------------------

He had landed on an outside balcony. The ashen city lay spread to the 
distance, bathed in light of a full moon that broke through distant cloud. Yet 
here was no scene of tranquility. Fires burned, and around him masonry 
crumbled as the ground shook. A lit doorway was open beside, and with no other 
way down he ran in, but was temporarily hindered by scattered furniture.

"The palace is falling," cried a voice along the corridor. "Run for your 
lives!"

Too late to heed his own warning, the fleeing soldier was crushed by falling 
masonry. The Prince ran past his lifeless body, along the shattered corridor. 
Fires burned, plaster crumbled down, and at a turn the floor cracked and gave 
way under his scurrying feet. He found firmer ground at the corridor's end, 
but flight was halted by a closed door. On an opposite wall he saw a large 
tile device that he recognized as a switch, such as the one he had activated 
in the palace above. With his athletic ability he was able to run up over it, 
and the door behind opened up. He sprang away to hurry through.

Here was no respite. Emerging on a wide balcony surrounding a central opening, 
no sooner had he run out on its surface than it began to give way. Sections 
ahead and behind crashed to the floor far below. He jumped over the gap. 
Sensing that the section where he landed might soon follow the rest, he ran 
on, over crumbling blocks to the far side of the room, where though fires 
burned away the corner section, the floor at one point seemed to hold.

A second surviving section of floor stood in a far corner, but there seemed no 
way to reach it. A cracked area of tile on the wall behind him seemed to point 
upwards, and at that spot the Prince observed a familiar device in a dagger 
plate. He jumped up and stuck his blade in, then launched himself sideways to 
another, and down to the corner. A door here was shut off behind a decorative 
grille, but another could be seen at a drop alongside. A convenient red banner 
hung down almost to its height. In moments he was down, and tumbling through 
the open door, seconds before its threshold collapsed.

A basin stood inside, cracked but serviceable.

-- THE TRAPPED HALLWAY --------------------------------------------------------

He was in a darkened passage, eerily quiet. As he rounded a corner traps 
sprung to action. He had the measure of rotating spiked floor logs, and was 
quite able to judge the moment to cross, but here too were tall spiky poles 
that scythed back and forth in his path, troubling him to judge that moment 
with care. He came to a closed door at the foot of a stairway, a wall tile 
switch at its head.

Through the door was an empty room of tall pillars and high arched windows. 
The moment he set foot in it, the floor shook and looked ready to crumble. 
Sections broke away to an abyss, and lest he follow them, the Prince searched 
desperately about for some safe purchase. The pillars were too thick for him 
to climb, and there appeared no ledge within reach around the bare walls. As 
he fled ahead of crumbling floor sections, he spotted at the end of the room 
that one pillar turned into a slender column at its base. He ran and clutched 
tight as the floor completely disappeared.

This column offered only temporary respite, for it shook and trembled and 
seemed about to give way. He scaled its height, and noticed at this elevation 
that the pillars slimmed at their top in a decorative stepped arrangement. He 
jumped acrobatically from one to the next back across the room, climbing where 
he could. At the last, he spotted a thin ledge around part of the room at the 
top, and launched away to grab it. Not a moment too soon, as the columns 
collapsed after.

He worked around the ledges, which seemed as likely to give way. A lone pillar 
stood at this end of the room, and he risked a jump to it, pausing but a 
moment before leaping from it to the first in a series of dagger plates along 
the wall on one side. The motion of jumping caused the pillar behind him to 
crumble to the depths with the rest.

Now he worked methodically, one dagger plate to the next, back across the room 
again. He saw as his objective an opening in the wall on a far corner. Two 
pillars remained, and as he leaped to them each groaned and shook. With the 
merest pause he jumped one to the next and off to a pillar ledge facing the 
gap in the wall. As he hauled himself through, the pillars collapsed and 
devastation was complete.

He turned ahead, where a long red banner hung down. How proud the inhabitants 
of this place must once have felt, and how ruinous its destruction. As he slid 
down its length, the Prince judged with alarm that it would not carry him to 
the ground. He jumped at its end to wedge his feet inside an exposed chimney, 
and from there descended to the floor.

-- THE RUINED PALACE ----------------------------------------------------------

Along an empty corridor, familiar traps sprang out in front. He had not such 
haste that he blundered into them, but stayed his path until the moment seemed 
right. He arrived at a room greatly destroyed, and looking up realized that he 
was beneath the balcony level that he had only just perilously negotiated.

He made his way around a broken floor, peering into its bottomless depths. He 
reached a cracked divide where a thuggish Guard waited on the other side, 
seemingly uncaring of his own perilous situation. The Prince finished him 
easily and ran on, across a gap to cling on to a niche, where two more Guards 
rushed from an alcove to hinder him. Their blind obedience to the will of 
their master evidently overrode any sense of personal salvation. He had space 
to maneuver and skills at his command, and two were no more effective than 
one.

At one side was a narrow block, up which he reached to a central platform. Yet 
another Guard waited here, as easily defeated. The Prince seemed stopped for a 
moment, on a raised central platform with steep drops amid the crumbling 
devastation all around. He spotted dagger plates on a wall to one side. He 
climbed a raised section to jump over to reach to the lowest, then one above, 
then a thin ledge above that. He paused in his exertions to reflect on his 
situation.

"Once more the wheels of suffering are set in motion by my hand. In taking 
Kaileena from the Island of Time I have changed the course of history. Without 
the Sands of Time I never journeyed to Azad, never killed the Vizier. Now he 
lives again, driven by the same mad desire. I promised no harm would come to 
her..."

With troubled thoughts he pressed on across last fragments of flooring. At a 
steep drop he looked around but saw no obvious way forward, Then he spotted an 
angled shutter plate along the wall to one side that sprang him to a narrow 
ledge off which he found a small chamber with a workable fountain.

-- THE ROYAL CHAMBERS ---------------------------------------------------------

He opened a door with a pressure pad at its foot, and proceeded down carpeted 
steps. Fire outside lit lattice windows, casting a fiendish glow on his 
descent.

"I am being pushed deeper into the palace and further from my enemy."

At the foot of the winding steps was an open chamber. He moved cautiously 
inside, and advanced towards a hole rent at its center. A sudden spasm gripped 
him, and he held his arm in agony. It glowed. 

"My arm," he groaned. "What is happening? What has the Vizier done to me? I 
don't-"

Wracked with pain, the Prince stumbled back, and plunged into the hole. He was 
cast to the mighty sewers far below.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
'Everything had come full circle. The Prince had resurrected his greatest 
enemy. Worse, he had accidentally delivered me into the man's hands, 
unleashing a nightmare plague across Babylon. As if this was not enough, the 
Prince had nearly been transformed by the Sands himself. Though he had avoided 
death, he had not escaped entirely untouched.'
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Stripped half bare by the fall, the Prince lay unconscious in a shallow 
underground stream.

"Wake up, Prince," came a voice. "Wake up."

The Prince raised his head groggily.

"Wake up!" the voice commanded.

He looked to his injured arm, inflamed by a brilliant glow. The broken barbs 
of the Daggertail protruded from torn flesh. He seemed otherwise unharmed, and 
groaned as he got to his feet. He loosened his jaw and shook his head.

-- THE SEWERS -----------------------------------------------------------------

He was in a dark, wet place, of dank solid stone. Water flowed in spouts down 
the walls, and gushed underfoot.

"The way behind you is gone," the voice said, "so you will have to find 
another exit from these sewers. Be quick about it, start moving."

The Prince did not ever feel inclined to obey commands, but he had to find a 
way from this place. He jumped to a metal bar. The rush of water was all 
around but like the rest of the city the sewers were deserted. The voice 
seemed real but could only exist in his mind. Was he mad?

"What?" he gasped. "Who is there?"

He was talking to himself. He swung out along bars strung between walls that 
ran with streams of water. Muted light shafted from skylights above. He 
splashed through a fast flowing rivulet. The voice seemed to caution him.

"Be careful, the planks are slick. Mind your balance."

The stream plunged to a deep pool far below. He was faced by a wide gap. The 
Prince grabbed hold of a greasy bar that projected from a wall and shimmied 
over the misty fall. Up steps he caught hold of a short bar, and clambered on 
top to grab out to a ledge. He moved around to a chute in the brickwork.

"Good, good," urged the voice. "Head down."

He landed on a circular grate. A movement in the dark alerted him to danger 
and he drew his sword.

From the rank depths of a hole in the sewer wall came a hideous dwarf-like 
creature, its vile green body naked and plagued with open sores, eyes flashing 
yellow with the infection of the Sands, its malignant intent obvious by the 
short chopping blade in its twisted hand, the other a sharpened claw. Soon 
joined by another, the reptilian creatures growled in the darkness and lunged 
to attack.

The Prince backed away across the grating, illuminated by thin rays from 
above. For a moment the creatures faltered, and covered their eyes.

"Oh!" the voice remarked. "They do not seem to like the light."

Cast into the depths to eke out miserable existence, these creatures, known in 
legendary tales of terror as the Reptus, inhabited perpetual gloom. Now the 
Sands had turned them into mutant creatures of the dark.

"Lead them into the light," the voice said with confidence. "Strike while they 
are blind."

As they stumbled after the Prince they crossed into light, and each flinched 
and shielded its eyes. With this small advantage the Prince struck back. The 
demonic creatures proved resilient, and he had to move fast to avoid being 
bludgeoned under a heavy assault. With persistence and agility he swept them 
away. The last pathetic creature sank to its knees and evaporated to a fading 
glow of Sand.

The voice was impressed. "Excellent work!"

The Prince could not begin to explain where the voice might originate, if it 
were even a figment of his pressured mind, but he was in no small way 
bolstered by the advice and encouragement it seemed anxious to confer.

There was no way to squeeze into the hole where the creatures emerged, had he 
wanted to, and no obvious exit in the darkened chamber where he fought them 
off. Down a long narrow passage he thought he saw a dagger switch on a far 
wall. Water flowed beneath planks at his feet and through low grilled arches 
either side.

The dagger switch activated a cogged mechanism within the stone block on which 
it was set, that now moved away to reveal a tight space beneath. The Prince 
dropped into it, and slid between narrow blocks to emerge in a cavernous room 
of pillars and arches. He jumped to a metal bar and dropped down others to the 
ground. The room was flooded in shallow water lit unhealthy luminous green.

A door at one side was shut. Water streamed down other walls, to the shallow 
steaming pool of the floor. He waded through, and at one end in an alcove he 
found dagger plates up a wall. He made his way around ledges to a point where 
he backed onto a slender pipe. This stretched from ceiling to floor but was 
divided near the bottom. A funnel of water poured inside. As he jumped out to 
the pipe his weight caused it to slide down, where it hammered against its 
remainder at the base, causing the door to slot open at the side of the room. 
A curious mechanism to be sure, but the Prince wasted no time leaving through 
it.

He balanced out on a beam, in a high narrow chamber where more water poured to 
murky depths. He jumped to a long chute between block walls and slid to the 
ground. Water splashed in rivulets to a stream that flowed to a grating on a 
ledge beneath. A platform here opened into a much larger chamber. From a 
platform edge he looked up to a wooden walkway, and down to a stone floor with 
a shut door ahead, none of which he could reach. High on the wall alongside a 
large stone block ground slowly in and out of a niche.

The Prince clambered up short ledges built to the opposite wall and jumped for 
a column suspended from the ceiling. It slid down a short distance and faced 
to a pole that projected off a platform to one side. The block of stone slowly 
ground in and out from its niche, coming flush with the wall for a moment or 
two then retracting. A dagger plate was set on it, and he waited until the 
stone came closest to him before leaping to stab to it. The stone retracted, 
and he was borne along with it, till he came once more flush with the wall. He 
prepared a lunge sideways to run off to the wooden walkway now alongside. It 
was a simple matter of a wall run to a narrow wooden chute that brought him to 
the chamber floor.

Nearly exhausted after his journey through the fetid underworld, and troubled 
by the voice in his aching head, the Prince stepped out to investigate his new 
surroundings. All at once he was seized in a paroxysm of agony. He grasped his 
arm where the barbs of the flail had torn into the flesh. Flashes of yellow 
light pulsed, and suddenly he was caught in a black helix of tremendous energy 
that bore him into the air. He gasped and groaned, powerless to resist as 
yellow light flashed through his tortured frame and radiated out. He was held 
motionless, then cast to the ground as the helix drew away. It left a demonic 
figure in the Prince's place: a burnt blackened body that seemed to flow with 
ghastly smoke, yellow eyes burning, its torso cast in crazed burning designs 
of yellow Sand.

"What have I become!" the Prince gasped. "A Sand Monster?"

Creeping from the shadows came more Reptus creatures.

"Call it what you will, Prince, but you have been given the ability to destroy 
your enemies. Now use it!"

The Dark Prince he had become retained some of the fighting skill of the 
Prince, and was bestowed with new ability. His trusty sword was replaced by a 
long section of chain, such as the Daggertail the Vizier's evil minion used to 
assault him. He experimented swiftly, and found that he could wield the weapon 
as a flail, sweeping about to hold enemies at bay. A sharp tug could bring it 
to bear on the nearest, and its effect proved intense.

As he moved around and lashed out, the Dark Prince realized with a shock that 
his own life was constantly ebbing away, no matter how hard he fought. "What 
benefit is this?" he cried. "Even as I fight them I grow weaker."

"Kill them then," the voice suggested. "Let their lives replenish yours. It 
feels good, does it not?"

The Reptus crowded round, undaunted by the lash of the flail that flashed 
about their heads, vanquishing each with a few vicious strokes. These 
nightmare beings had been spawned by the Sands of Time, and as each perished 
Sands left them as balls of energy. The Dark Prince found that he was able to 
absorb these, and each stock gained in this way restored his life for a short 
while at least, so that he fought on.

The number against him seemed never ending. In packs of three or four they 
came relentlessly, and he moved swiftly about, turning and sweeping his flail 
to hold them at bay. He swished around wooden pillars, flying through the air 
to chop down two or three at once, and rebounded off walls to knock stray 
demons to the ground. All the while he kept his flail moving, lashing each 
wretched monster, until at last they were gone.

"Ah," the voice murmured, "I knew you had it in you."

He had cleared away his enemies but whatever he had become he was still 
trapped in a room that had but one door. The corruption brought a terrible 
toll on his body in its new form: with each passing moment his life ebbed 
away, and now the creatures were gone there remained only a few scattered pots 
with which to restore himself. He had to find a switch or some mechanism that 
would open the door.

He cast about but there did not seem to be any. A stone block set into the 
wall over a pit caught his eye. It had embossed on it the head of some 
creature, and that seemed likely to offer some means of purchase. He cast out 
his flail weapon and hooked onto it, then pulled steadily. The block came away 
from the wall, and activated some unseen mechanism that raised open the door. 
As it slid slowly back towards the ground the Dark Prince ran gratefully 
beneath. He craved answers.

"I assume this is not permanent?" he asked curtly.

"It is," purred the voice. "If you want it to be?"

"I do not."

"But you will."

He could not imagine that circumstance, but it was certain that at this moment 
he had no choice other than to accept the grotesque transformation. It was 
some small consolation that in his new state he might access a path impossible 
to traverse in more Earthly form.

Ahead was a short jetty to a wooden bar and a thick column that rose from 
misted depths. He dropped swiftly, and as he recovered his breath, became 
menaced by more creeping Reptus. He swept the Daggertail constantly, and held 
them away as he searched for an exit from the cramped cavern where he stood.

Through the mist at one end lay an open arch, and a passage between solid rock 
walls beyond. Here he discovered a miraculous ability of his chain. High over 
a pit he cast out the Daggertail to swing onwards from a banner pole, then 
released and landed safe on a rock floor. He eagerly smashed ewers left 
scattered about that each held a precious stock of Sand. The way forward lay 
off more banner poles strung between outcrops of rock high over the pit, and 
he soon slid down a chute to the plank floor of a network of caves dug into 
the rock. Here he was met by green devils. With peace quickly gained but no 
time for contemplation, the Prince in his dark terrible form searched about 
once again for means of exit. To one side was the pit he had just crossed. Up 
plank platforms behind was a shut door. Again there was no sign of a switch.

He now recognized a block that could be pulled from a wall, and flush to the 
cave across another bottomless pit he found one. As before he used his chain 
to pull it from the wall, and this duly opened the door behind. He hurried 
through to a small cave chamber.

Seemingly trapped in his new ghastly form, the Prince's mind was in turmoil. 
"Why then is this happening to me?"

"You have been infected by the Sands of Time, as I am sure you have noticed."

The Dark Prince seized on a few scattered pots to replenish his dwindling 
stock of Sand.

"Maybe it's the Dagger," the voice continued. "Maybe it's all the time you've 
spent amongst the Sands. Or..." he chuckled, "amongst the Empress? Either way, 
you are resisting it. Mostly."

The Dark Prince scrambled up on a ledge. "Mostly?"

"You did just transform into something rather unique. So I think the word is 
most appropriate." He gave a short sigh. "Think of it this way: you have been 
given a gift. You are stronger, faster."

"Uglier." The unhappy figure pulled up on a platform.

"Now, now," the voice chided.

The Dark Prince ran to a ladder in a corner and pressed for more. "That 
explains the transformation, but who are you?"

"Have you not realized? I am your untapped potential, your unrealized dreams. 
I am part of you."

"You- you are inside me?" gasped the Dark Prince. This received no answer.

He smashed pots in a desperate search for Sand to maintain his diminishing 
health. He was on a higher wooden platform built into the rock, and stabbed 
for a dagger switch tucked in a niche. The block on which it was mounted 
extended briefly, and he jumped for a wall pole and on to another. A spiked 
log section rotated in a corner, and on a moment it turned safely away he 
sprang forward to execute a chimney ascent to a platform above. Here were more 
precious stocks of Sand, and he ran on through a rough passage shored with 
wood. He jumped from a jetty to a wooden chute in a rocky cavern, and slid 
swiftly down. He dropped to a shallow pool of water.

Instantly the dark figure was gripped by a force of energy that manifested as 
a pale blue helix, that when ascended from his body and cast away returned it 
to that of the Prince once again.

He straightened up and checked himself over. Though the Sands still burned in 
his infected arm, he seemed quite unharmed.

"It has gone now. Water seems to fight this corruption." Even so, the voice 
was still with him. "Why did you hide this from me?" the Prince demanded.

"What, and ruin all the fun?"

Unable to make sense of either his transformation or revival, the Prince 
returned to his mission. He waded hip deep in fetid water to a wooden ledge, 
where he scrabbled with wet feet to pull off the cavern floor. There seemed to 
be an exit doorway somewhere above, and he climbed to higher ledges. A stone 
block ground up and down at his back across the cavern walls, and he jumped to 
a dagger plate set in it. As the block rose it raised him up, where he ran off 
at one side to a gloomy passage.

Through archways ahead pools of bright sunlight struck down from above. As the 
Prince came towards the first, Reptus creatures shuffled from dark corners to 
attack. He stood in the bright light and knocked the first creature away. 
Several small chambers were linked through the arches, and there seemed to be 
creatures in all. A door at the end was shut down, and as he fought Reptus 
away the Prince looked around for a means to open it. He found a dagger switch 
on a wall through the next to last chamber, and freed a little space to give 
time to activate it. As the door opened up he lost no time tumbling 
underneath.

More arches lay off to one side of a passage. A light seemed to beckon through 
tattered drapes at the other.

A rough but well lit passage had its floor broken into sections. The Prince 
jumped across and wound his way down, crossing stone beams over black depths. 
The passage ended at a basin mounted to the wall, its waters radiating pure 
white. A chalice cup glimmered and turned, suspended in strange light above. 
The Prince could not resist a sip of its waters.

In a flash the basin was gone. Here were just cold empty walls. Now the 
passage appeared darker, and as he moved along its stillness sudden traps 
sprang to life. Twin saw blades scythed across his path, and with the passage 
end behind him the Prince had no option but to dive through. A narrow beam 
extended in front, and might easily have been walked over, but ranks of 
vicious darts shot out over its length at rapid intervals. Again he chose the 
moment to cross, with pause at the mid point in safety between volleys of 
darts. Now from its end he faced a leap between more metal blades. Another 
bloody blade rotated fast across the passage floor in front. Brilliant light 
glimmered behind. The Prince edged forward on a small broken beam, and might 
easily have dashed past, but for the presence of spike tiles at his feet, that 
required that he run off to one side as he did so, and tumbled past the teeth 
of the blade. He seemed safe, and moved to the light.

             ----------------------------------------------
                        YOU GAINED BONUS HEALTH
             ----------------------------------------------

He came to lying on the floor beside the mystical basin where he drank. It was 
now broken apart, with no sign of the chalice. Behind him, the passage seemed 
silent. He stepped forward cautiously, but no traps sprang out this time. All 
remained silent as he made his way back along beams and broken gaps to the 
rough fluttering drapes at the passage entrance. A curious diversion, and a 
circumstance that he could not easily explain. Yet, undeniably, he felt 
stamina increased.

Ahead of him was a rank of sweeping metal blades. His excursion, real or 
imagined, had sharpened his wit at traversing such as these, and he ran 
through with scant concern. A more conventional fountain basin waited just 
beyond.

-- THE TUNNELS ----------------------------------------------------------------

Through an arched open doorway he entered a rough passage hewn from rock. It 
ended abruptly at a precipice, a barrier to all but the agile Prince. He ran 
out along the rock wall to spring off where a small platform faced a ladder 
fixed to the rock wall. A series of thin ledge in the reddish rock brought him 
up a shaft, where he paused once or twice to negotiate lethal dart traps.

He emerged to a cave, where daylight shafted through seams high to one side. 
At a far passage end he spotted movement, and advanced cautiously over a gap. 
Two Archers stood sentry on a rock platform across a second gap. In thin mist 
he crept up as stealthily as he could, and jumped behind the nearest sentry to 
cut it down unawares. In such close proximity he could hardly hope to surprise 
the second also, and was forced to join battle. As it somersaulted away to 
draw a bead with its bow, he cast his secondary weapon into its face, and 
while it reeled back he vaulted overhead, and tossed it to the depths of the 
abyss. He caught his breath, then scaled narrow rock ledges in a corner.

One or two ledges proved ready to crumble, so he did not pause long as he made 
his way up a sandy cavern wall.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
'When the Prince was struck by the Sands of Time something was woken within. 
Something strange and cunning, something dark. The seven years spent on the 
run had embittered the Prince, and made him hard. This burden sustained his 
other half, gave it strength. The Prince was tempted to do as it said, for it 
was a light in the darkness, offering comfort and guidance to a man who had 
just lost everything. But what were its intentions? Why did it help him? Only 
time would tell.'
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

He came to wooden ledges, shielded by dart traps, and chose his moment to 
ascend. Retracting ledges were as easily negotiated with good timing. He 
hauled up into a watchtower, and saw the city laid out the other side, the 
great Tower looming over, seemingly further than ever.

"Babylon," murmured the Prince. "It is so far away. As a child, Father would 
tell me stories about-"

"Pay attention," the voice interrupted. "Something is happening down there."

On the balcony terrace below, guards paced. A larger one appeared to be in 
command. To the center of the terrace was a round metal plate, a hole at its 
raised base, from which an intense beam of yellow light issued straight up to 
the sky. The commander stepped towards it and plunged his sword into the 
plate. In a dazzling explosion of light, an awesome creature emerged. The 
guard stood to attention.

"All hail Zervan!"

"What is that?" wondered the Prince, as he realized the shocking truth. "It is 
the Vizier! He has been completely transformed."

The now hairless and youthful Vizier hovered on huge golden wings, his virile 
naked body cocooned in the ghastly iridescence of light.

"Interesting," the voice mused. "He has used the power of the Sands to 
transform his army, and these artifacts will allow him to transport them 
across the city with ease. He appears to be in complete control. Things do not 
look too good for you at the moment."

The fabulous gilded creature returned imperiously to the beam of light and 
disappeared through the plate. The Prince pounded his fist. "I will not let 
the Vizier have Babylon. My city, my throne!"

He stood on the edge of the tower and considered the strange device housed on 
the platform below.

"He has used that beam as a gate. I will follow him through it."

"I'd scout ahead," the voice offered, "but, well ... I can't."

-- THE FORTRESS ---------------------------------------------------------------

A low trellis rail that ran around the watchtower was open at one place. A 
shaft led down, and the Prince dropped into it.

Two guards had been left on the terrace. One paced impatiently, the other, in 
markedly different attire, stood near the Sand Gate. That one seemed to 
receive a charge from the infernal device, a ball of Sand drawn at intervals 
in its direction. As the first guard came near the Prince dropped behind. He 
wrestled the invader to the floor and thrust with his sword. Instead of blood 
as before, a trail of glowing Sand leaked from the body. Caught suddenly off 
balance, the Prince suffered a blow in return. With a threatening grunt the 
other guard came alert, and ran to the Sand Gate to plunged his sword into it.

The metal plate pulsed with light, and as he finished his first assailant, to 
his horror the Prince saw a second hulking brute materialize in its beam.

"Well done, Prince," the voice said grimly. "Your inaction has allowed them to 
call for reinforcements."

The Sand Gate Guard stood aside as the Prince closed quickly on the new 
arrival. He knew now that these were no longer mortal; the Vizier's army was 
corrupted by the Sands of Time. This demon beat its chest as it roared angrily 
to life.

"It seems that the gate won't close until all its guardians have been 
defeated," the voice observed. "Get to work. Dispatch the guards. As long as 
they live the beam will remain."

The Prince turned ferociously on the commander, and though that sturdier enemy 
proved of no better mettle than the ordinary guards, the damage had been done. 
No sooner had the Prince extinguished one creature than a replacement appeared 
from the Sand Gate. He ducked and rolled about the confines of the terrace, 
meeting each as it came, and as his secondary weapon broke took the 
opportunity to leap over and hurl one over the low trellis rail to the yard 
below. He was grateful to find a weapon rack against one wall, and with some 
little effort beat off all new arrivals until there came no more.

"I'm impressed!" the voice allowed.

The metal plate hummed faintly, and its light faded as the last guard was 
extinguished. The Prince stepped over to examine it.


             ----------------------------------------------

                            YOU HAVE GAINED
                      A  N E W  S A N D  T A N K

             ----------------------------------------------

Puffs of Sand emitted from an eye at the center of the plate, charging his 
Dagger as they had the Sand Gate Guard. He plunged the Dagger into the eye of 
the portal, yet in a flare of light it became sealed.

"Whuh-?" groaned the Prince. "What's happening?"

"Well that certainly went according to plan, did it not?" The voice sighed. 
"You really should know by now that entering portals made of Sand only leads 
to trouble."

There was no way for the Prince to pursue the Vizier through the gate as he 
had hoped. "I will simply have to resort to a more traditional form of 
transport."

"Hopefully with greater success," came the sardonic reply.

Enemies patrolled the fortress yard below. From one corner of his balcony the 
Prince ran out past a rotating spiked log section, and rebounded to a metal 
bar projecting from a wall. As he prepared to swing off he heard a rough voice 
come up from the yard.

"Separate them into two groups. Send the weak ones to the Workshop. The strong 
must go to the palace and the Arena for changing."

"Somebody," came a pitiful cry, "help us!

The Prince swung to a second bar and hung for a moment, observing an Archer 
pacing a wooden platform close beneath. As its back was turned he jumped down, 
and swiftly finished it from behind. Two brutish creatures patrolled the yard 
below. The city was nearly subdued, all survivors rounded up.

"Please, I beg of you," came another frightened voice, "let us go."

To one side the Prince noticed a chain suspended from a beam, reaching almost 
to the ground. He took a chance and leaped for it. As he clung on, startled 
birds rose nearby. One guard seemed to sense the threat, but did not look up. 
The Prince turned upside-down and slid stealthily downwards until he was 
directly above the unwary enemy. He dropped and caught it cold. The second 
Sand creature seemed to have moved off around a corner, where the Prince crept 
behind and finished it without a sound. His caution was repaid as an Archer 
stood waiting at a turn. He doubled around to approach between buildings. A 
caged armory housed strange weapons of training: a mechanical crossbow and 
dummies. The Archer nearby might have needed the practice, for it proved no 
match for his skill.

The yard appeared not to have means of exit. Doors stood solidly shut, and 
gaps broken in walls had been roughly boarded, topped off by sharpened spikes. 
He glimpsed movement at the fortress entrance the other side. From a wooden 
platform in one corner he judged he might effect progress via dagger plates 
set in pointed arches along the wall overhead. He soon jumped up and hauled 
sideways from one to another. Off a sprung shutter he bounded to an opposite 
wall, and away off that to a corner terrace.

He scaled a ledge to stand below a covered walkway. A Guard stood directly 
above. As the clumsy sentry turned its back, the Prince hopped the low wall 
overhead and swiftly stabbed it in near silence. Further along the walkway 
waited an Archer, and he did not care to alert it needlessly. He hugged a wall 
and closed behind, and deftly disposed of that second enemy before it turned 
back its gaze. These had been set to guard a flaming capstan lever that stood 
directly above the fortress entrance. As the Prince turned its handle, the 
outer gate of a mighty portcullis raised up. The inner gate was most likely 
opened from the yard below.

A spiked log section sprang to operation on an adjacent wall by a broken rail, 
and the Prince chose his moment to run across.

He landed on a short corner platform, and cautiously stepped out to consider 
his path. Without warning his infected arm became gripped by a seizure. The 
Prince wrestled in agony as his body was ringed by a strange helix spiral of 
deepest black. Boiling clouds enveloped him as his helpless body was changed 
once more to the form of the Dark Prince.

There seemed no escape from the curse that overtook him, no remedy or cure, 
and he had no control over its effect. Yet there might be some small advantage 
to the Prince in this changed state. The Dark Prince had abilities beyond 
those of even the agile Prince of Persia. He saw his path, and ran out on a 
wall where he cast his Daggertail to a lantern guttering high over his 
scampering feet. It caught on for a few steps before release as he passed 
under, and allowed him to extend his run far out along the wall, where he fell 
safe to a high platform section. A useful trick indeed. An Archer stood below 
but did not trouble him as he jumped out over its head, to swing off his chain 
and land on another platform in a far corner. Now he ran out once again, and 
cast the Daggertail to extend his run further along the wall as before. On the 
limit of his run, he sprang out acrobatically to cling to a chain hanging from 
a beam alongside. He caught his breath but wasted no time before he slid 
towards the open ground. A Guard stood immovable directly underneath. The Dark 
Prince whipped the ends of his chain around its neck, and hauled the brute off 
its feet. The creature struggled and clutched its throat helplessly before it 
crumpled to the ground.

The Dark Prince dropped silently and crept across the wide sandy yard towards 
the inner portcullis gate. An Archer stood nearby, and this time he threw the 
Daggertail chain over its head and throttled it with bone-crunching violence. 
A second Guard came towards his side of the compound, and the Dark Prince 
quickly ducked behind a pillar. Once its back was turned he closed in, and 
swiftly tugged at its heels. He threw the brute to the ground, then as it 
tried to get up looped the Daggertail over its head and bent it to its knees. 
Mercilessly the Dark Prince used the chain as a garrote.

Time was ever running out for the Prince in his cursed condition of darkness; 
Sands drained for each wasted moment. He urgently explored.

In a corner of the yard near the barred gate was a dagger switch set to a 
wall. It proved a little too high out of reach, and there seemed nothing to 
use to climb to it. A series of thick pillars approached on one side, and he 
noticed banner poles mounted off each facing to the switch. As he cast about 
for a way to reach up to them his luck ran out.

"There he is!" came a harsh voice. "Call for reinforcements."

Guards poured from the fortress to attack the intruder in the courtyard.

"Wonderful," the voice chided. "Do we not have enough to deal with already?"

There seemed too many to repel with finesse. The Dark Prince swung his 
Daggertail viciously, hacking and slicing as each brute came close. He kept up 
a steady sweep, and where the Prince might have found his own sword would 
clash uselessly with a defender who blocked, the razor-sharp flail cut through 
without effort, and soon the enemies vanished to dust. Even so, yet more 
arrived, and the Dark Prince was surrounded once again. Combat was fruitless 
with the objective overlooked.

A slender column stood to one end off the banner pillars, and the fugitive ran 
for it. He shinned swiftly up, and sprang from one pole to another until he 
clutched to the dagger switch in the corner. A mechanical ticking sounded as 
it drew down, raising the barred gate alongside at least temporarily. He 
dropped off the switch and dodged attackers as he scrambled over stones and 
scrub to the gate on the other side of the wall. He ducked under, and the gate 
crashed down, holding back the enraged demons inside.

He was outside the fortress at last. A road wound towards the city. Transport 
was here readily available, as the voice drily remarked, "That chariot should 
get us home."

A shallow moat ran outside the portcullis gate. A pair of black horses and an 
open chariot did indeed stand patiently the other side. The Dark Prince waded 
into the water, and on first contact instantly changed back to his accustomed 
form, casting off the dark force that surrounded him.

The Prince emerged dripping, and clambered aboard the chariot.

"Are you sure you can control this thing?" the voice challenged.

The bold young man whipped the horses to action. The powerful beasts kicked 
and whinnied, and charged off in a clatter of hooves. "Let us hope, if I 
crash," the Prince replied, "it is the end for both of us."

On the dusty road ahead, two brutish Guards carried a wooden cage on poles 
between them. The Prince steered aside to knock one creature to the ground, 
and charged on.

"The Prince!" the battered Guard exclaimed, yellow eyes burning with hate. 
"Stop him."

The other rushed to a chariot, and gave chase.

The toppled cage lay unattended on the ground. A woman's foot kicked out the 
broken bars of her temporary prison.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
'And so once more the Prince began the journey home, his mind afire with 
visions of the justice he would visit upon the Vizier.'
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Prince raced through a rock gully. Overhead, a narrow bridge spanned the 
chasm. Ahead of it, an enemy chariot clattered to the chase. "There he is!"

The rough, scrubby road to the city was littered with bodies, and splashed red 
with blood.

"Be vigilant," the voice cautioned.

The chasing chariot charged down from the left and crashed against his. He 
hauled the reins to force it aside. The two locked as they battled along the 
harbor road toward the port gates. Wheels screeched as the horses galloped 
along. At the last moment the Prince steered through an open arch, and forced 
the other chariot against the city walls, where it was dashed to a thousand 
pieces.

The Prince thundered on, through narrow twisting streets. A fireball streaked 
across his path.

"Run right!" urged the voice.

The street split to a raised section that he mounted to miss the rubble of the 
lower path. He careened along the city street once again.

A Guard jogged out from one side and effortlessly hopped on to impede the 
fugitive. The Prince hacked it away as another climbed aboard. He could almost 
admire their bravery but such action was more than foolhardy; a single cut of 
his blade sent each tumbling.

Still he wrestled to keep his maddened horses to their path. One mistake would 
see him dashed to pieces just as the other had been. He grazed low arches, 
gruesome hanged bodies strung above, and smashed aside wooden stalls as the 
street twisted first left, then right and left again.

Another fireball crashed into a building on the road ahead. Rubble collapsed 
across his path.

"Head left," the voice ordered.

He swerved up over a narrow divide, and clattered on.

The chariot took flight through the air, wheels spinning, its twin horses 
straining ahead, the Prince clinging for his life. It was at once thrilling 
and terrifying. He landed safe and raced on.

"You have done well, Prince, though I am sure it was not intentional."

Another Guard scrambled aboard, and the Prince hacked it aside. The street 
split again, and with barely a moment to consider the Prince yanked the reins 
right, and swung up a wide elevated section. The chariot flew over a gap 
without break in the horses stride, under an awning, to firm footing again. 
The Prince fought to guide them away from the edge. Up ahead an enemy wheeled 
a heavy cart laden with goods across his path. He pulled the reins left at the 
last moment and soared across another gap to the other side of the market, 
shaded under gaudy red canopies. He wrestled the horses to their course and 
clattered back down to the street.

Another reckless Guard mounted his chariot. The Prince tried to keep one eye 
ahead as the horses thundered up a slope under shady trees. As the intruder 
was beaten away yet another Guard tried to come aboard. "Watch out!" the voice 
warned. The Prince ran it under the wheels.

"That was close."

The road ran along the shore once again, and another enemy chariot closed in 
from the side. The two crashed together and raced headlong. Damaged buildings 
dotted the city. He could see the great Tower of Babylon in the far distance. 
The voice urged him on.

"Behind that column!"

A fireball split a massive stone column across their path. Debris cluttered 
the road, and the enemy chariot was forced wide. It crashed into the fallen 
rubble, and threw the rider headlong, wheels and carriage dashed to bits. The 
gates to the city lay ahead.

"We made it," gasped the Prince.

He mounted the front rail, and tugged hard at the traces. At that moment 
another fireball whistled down and smashed his carriage, splintering wood and 
blasting wheels apart.

"All yours," the voice cried, as the Prince leaped from the stricken chariot.

"Come on," the Prince panted, as he fell directly onto the back of a still 
fleeing horse, broken loose. He hauled himself upright and grasped for the 
reins.

His steed whinnied and snorted as it galloped towards the massive gates, 
ominously closing together. They barely squeezed through as the gates crashed 
shut, whirling clouds of sand and dust that fell about a broken wheel, rolling 
in the Prince's wake, to clink gently against the now solidly shut city gate.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
'The once bright and vibrant streets of Babylon now stood all but deserted, 
its inhabitants either dead or fled. Those left behind suffered terribly: 
captured, tortured and transformed. But the Prince did not notice this, so 
focused was he on the Vizier.'
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

He cantered to a stop before an ornate gate, and leapt from his steed. Using 
an abandoned cart as a ladder, with a few agile bounds and a handspring he was 
up and over the top.

He weaved through a rough passage and swiftly scaled ledges and ladders.

"I'm impressed," the voice remarked.

"Oh, good. Your opinion means a great deal to me."

"Is that how you thank the man who just saved your life?"

"First," the Prince snapped, "you did not save my life. I did it. Second, you 
are not a man, just a disembodied voice, a ghost. And third, I never asked for 
your help, and I certainly do not need it."

"While I admire your bravado, you would be wise to show some respect."

"And you would be wise to keep quiet. You are distracting me, and we are no 
longer alone."

Fires burned through the buildings above. He hopped a rail over thick choking 
smoke and climbed ladders and ledges. He emerged to the open rooftops, and 
took refreshment at a fountain, where water streamed into a gutter.

-- THE LOWER CITY -------------------------------------------------------------

The sounds of distressed prisoners carried up from the streets. On a balcony 
terrace close below a terrified citizen was brought before a captain of 
Guards.

"Go," it growled. "Put him with the others."

The man was shoved to one side and led away through a gate.

"Why are you doing this?" he wailed. "We have done nothing wrong."

"Save your crying for someone who cares."

"I should do something," the anguished Prince cursed.

"Go ahead, fall to your death," the voice responded. "That will be of great 
use to them."

From his elevated position the Prince could do nothing. As screams and cries 
echoed from below, he did his best to work down to the helpless citizens and 
do what he could along the way.

The captain remained on the ramparts below. Another guard patrolled into a low 
building.

"Why am I always stuck with guard duty?" grumbled a voice somewhere close by, 
"...here, a turn in this Sand-damned hovel, wasting my time."

The Prince dropped to a vented window ledge, and noticed that the disgruntled 
guard stared directly out of the window close alongside. He dropped once more 
to a ledge that ran under the window, and shimmied beneath out of eyeshot. If 
that dissatisfied demon spent more time paying attention to duty instead of 
complaining, it would see more of the action it appeared to crave. The Prince 
resolved that it and its fellows got something of that before long.

As he shuffled along the Prince noticed another guard standing sentry on a 
balcony a little too far below to risk a drop, and another creature with back 
turned on a terrace nearby. He pulled up where a lantern rail led away. 
Directly in front of him an intense beam of light projected upwards from 
another Sand Gate in the courtyard several stories below. It hummed with 
sinister energy. These mysterious portals seemed to be a hub of activity, 
since yet more guards could be discerned pacing around it in the courtyard 
below.

He jumped past the beam of light to a small terrace balcony still high 
overhead. From its open edge he ran out on a wall, and sprang from a shutter 
to an opposite balcony, where he fell on an unsuspecting Guard. He slashed it 
to silence, and crept inside an adjacent room, where the grumbling Guard he 
overheard was now relieved from its boredom. There was no way from the room, 
so he returned to drop over the balcony wall, directly over the head of one 
patrolling Guard he spotted before. The second stood not far away. He waited 
until that turned aside, and dropped down.

As the Prince moved to attack the first Guard, he overeagerly mistimed his 
Dagger slice. The brute seized him by the throat in an iron grip. The Prince 
choked but fought clear, and recovered sufficiently to knock the insensible 
creature down. In his distress the Prince inadvertently kicked over a pot, and 
the second came running. Temporarily cornered, the Prince threw his spare 
weapon in the face of the attacker, then jumped to grab it, and flung the 
brute from the balcony edge. As the other Guard resumed its attack the Prince 
was more able to maneuver, and so faced it easily. A few skilled blows and he 
was alone. He vowed never to misjudge his attack again, since stealthy 
progress was more easily rewarded.

He collected his thoughts, as from the courtyard below came a boy's cry, 
"Father, father!"

"Quiet, whelp," a harsh voice returned. "Do you wish to join him in the 
Arena?"

"Don't--don't take me there!" begged a frightened citizen. "Anywhere but that 
place."

The Prince was desperate to assist. "Something is happening down there."

The voice warned him off. "Whatever it is, it will continue until you have 
defeated the Vizier. You cannot help these people!"

Though harsh, the words made sense in the greater scheme of things. "Then let 
us make haste," the Prince agreed.

He balanced out on a wooden beam. Enemies surrounded the Sand Gate directly 
below. He jumped for a bar off a wooden beam in front, and swung forwards to a 
chute between narrow walls. He slid quickly down, and paused safely out of 
sight, to observe the enemies in their movement around the courtyard below. 
There seemed to be three, two ordinary patrolling Guards, and a Sand Gate 
Guard in command. As before, the Prince reckoned that that one for certain 
must not come alert. As one of the others came close under his vantage point 
it turned, and the Prince chose that moment to drop behind. With the lesson 
learned from his last rash attack, he jumped nimbly from one to the next, 
cutting each with a perfectly timed stroke. He dived back to the first to 
finish it with a thrust to the belly, then jumped to the second to cut it from 
behind, before it had even regained its footing. So swift was the attack that 
the Sand Gate Guard had not even become aware of the danger, and he crept up 
behind it to punish such offense. A swift slash had it reeling, then a thrust, 
and he jumped over to haul it backwards to the ground, before delivering a 
third, fatal blow.

             ----------------------------------------------

                            YOU HAVE GAINED
                    1 0 0  S A N D  C R E D I T S

             ----------------------------------------------

The voice was fairly unimpressed. "At least you came out ahead."

The Prince sensed he ought best to deactivate the Sand Gates where he found 
them, with the hope that in this way he might limit the power of the Vizier. 
He plunged his Dagger to the center of the glimmering circular plate.

Through a rounded archway to one side of the courtyard he found a smaller 
enclosed yard. It seemed empty, yet as he explored he heard footsteps, and 
ducked flat to a wall behind a building edge. Two Guards patrolled. They 
paused in their rounds, and he took the opportunity to creep up behind and 
deliver his devastating speed kill attack.

"We really need to get you back on track," the voice said. "Try and stay 
focused, it might improve your fighting skills."

Steps at one end of the enclosed yard led to a gateway, its door firmly shut, 
a still blazing fireball lodged alongside. An arched gateway at the other end 
lay similarly shut. With the aid of a dagger plate reached from a platform 
dressed in rough matting, he jumped over a shattered wall.

The alley the other side appeared deserted, but from a side passage came the 
skittering sound of clawed feet. Strange wolf-like creatures emerged charging 
to attack. These devil dogs were afire with the Sands, and with bared teeth 
and sharp claws might prove every bit as deadly as their mutant human forms. 
They rushed to the kill, hunting fresh meat. The Prince knocked one hound 
aside, with its blood-chilling screech, as the second stood square and opened 
its maw. It glowed with the fire of the Sands, and a sucking wind whistled 
out, that drew a cloud of Sand from his Dagger.

"Careful, these creatures seem to feed off the Sands," the voice warned with 
some urgency. "Kill them before they steal any more from you!"

The Prince leaped over and battered the creature to the ground. It thrashed 
and writhed, emitting a high-pitched scream. He thrust the Dagger into its 
ribs, and turned to finish the first. Sand flared then faded as the loathsome 
creature wriggled to dust.

Wary now, the Prince made his way along the back streets. Devastation was 
everywhere, with broken walkways and blazing timbers at every turn. As he 
jumped forward to enter one room with its burning floor he was gripped by the 
terrible transformation to the Dark Prince again. As ever he had no control 
over its effect, and now as he rose up in his mutated form, more hellish hound 
creatures bounded to attack. He was knocked to the ground in the shock of the 
assault, but recovered quickly, and his whirled flail saw them off. He turned 
to leap a gap and press on with his quest.

It was to be admitted that a wide gap such as this would have proved too much 
of an obstacle for the Prince in his usual form. The special abilities of this 
darker alternative served each the same purpose. The voice seemed exhilarated. 
"Onward and upwards, Prince. Hurry to the palace and reclaim your throne."

"I'm moving as fast as I can. What do you suggest - that I grow wings and 
fly?"

"One can always dream."

As the tiles under his feet cracked away he jumped to a wall pole and grabbed 
to a platform overhead. An Archer stood at its duty even here, amongst fires 
all around. The Dark Prince strangled it without a moment's pause. 

At this point the Prince would certainly have conceded advantage to his 
transformation in this strange unearthly form. As he ran out over a wall too 
far for even extraordinary agility, the Dark Prince cast forward the 
Daggertail, hooking rafters high overhead to swing out over the streets below. 
As the Prince he would never be able to cover the distance. He landed safe on 
a wooden platform. Safe that is, but that the burning timbers at his feet 
began at once to crack and crumble. Almost in a blur, at a turn he saw across 
a gap a ladder on a wall. He quickly jumped out and used his flail slung from 
a beam to reach it, then scrambled up to emerge from a shaft, where he looked 
out over his city again. The cries of the people carried up.

He ran through a shallow tiled pool filled by a spout at one side. At the 
first touch of water his tortured body began to change back to that of the 
Prince. He fell to his knees in the clear shallow water, feeling its purity 
cleanse his tortured soul. As he took a few moments to recover, the voice 
scolded him.

"Did you fall asleep? Wasting time makes me very angry, can we go now?"

Where the mysterious voice had once appeared to offer guidance and 
encouragement, the Prince wondered if it was not now more insistent, the edge 
of sarcasm perhaps a symptom of some underlying stress. What could be more 
important than that he complete his task in his own way, and in his own time? 
Was he not master of his own destiny?

"Babylon's defenders still live," he judged. "The city is not yet taken. 
Perhaps Father is among them?"

-- THE LOWER CITY ROOFTOPS ----------------------------------------------------

The sun hung low in a sky filled with smoke from the fires that blazed 
throughout the stricken city. The Prince drew his sword as he observed guards 
patrolling the rooftops. He jumped to the first, and managed to creep up 
behind the unwary Archer on it, and promptly slit its throat. A second 
patrolled a roof just below, and he dropped stealthily to repeat the trick.

He now faced the tricky problem of how to descend from his lofty position. 
There were no convenient rooftops below. He saw on a wall far ahead a shutter, 
and ran out to spring off to a second on another far wall. In this manner he 
was fired high over the streets below, to a balcony where he grabbed hold of a 
trellis rail.

A guard rushed towards him, temporarily defenseless as he clung on. As the 
brute swung his sword the Prince braced himself for a blow that did not come; 
an arrow shafted from somewhere nearby and caught the guard full in the chest. 
A second followed to send it staggering back, then a third cut through its 
helmet full in the face, and with that the threat was gone.

The Prince swung quickly to his feet, and peered suspiciously about. There was 
no sign of any person, friend or foe, on the array of rooftops or windows 
close about. His eyes lit on an arrow at his feet. He picked it up to examine 
its unaccustomed design.

"What is this? Someone helping us... Who is there?" he called. "You have done 
me a great service. Show yourself, that I might thank you." There came no 
reply. "So very strange."

He was reminded of one he used to know, whose weapon was a bow. "I wonder..." 
The Prince cast the arrow to the ground. "No. It is silly to think such 
things."

He hurried on across the canopied roof on which he stood. A jump across a gap 
brought him to a short section of roof, where a weapon rack yielded a 
secondary sword. Just above, an Archer seemed nearly alert, and he waited till 
its back was turned before rising behind it and slicing it apart. He had need 
to make little sound, for across another gap at this level two more Archers 
prowled.

He watched and waited, then chose a moment when they seemed to turn away, and 
made a great leap to join them on their section of roof. His luck seemed to 
run out as one spotted the intruder, and both turned their arrows on him. He 
had to act fast, and vaulted nimbly over one, to grip it by the head and hurl 
it over his shoulder to the streets far below. He closed on the other and 
slashed it where it stood.

"Luck," the voice muttered. "Blind luck."

He had come to a gap too wide to jump. Here were only rickety wood platform 
sections. "No more rooftops," the Prince observed.

"Indeed," the voice replied. Yet there seemed a route he might work lower 
down. "Irritating little detour," the voice continued, "but let us be on with 
it; head down to street level and we will look for a way to regain the 
rooftops."

The Prince disliked taking orders, but he saw the inevitability of the plan. 
"You are an insistent inner voice, aren't you."

"Well, someone has to make the decisions."

The Prince climbed to a higher roof section. The great Tower of Babylon loomed 
in the distance. Not far away he saw the awnings that crowned the Arena. What 
was it that so terrified the captured citizens? What could be happening there? 
He noticed arrows stuck fast in a brick pillar and wondered again about the 
mysterious archer who had come to his aid. There was nobody to be seen and all 
was quiet, though smoke billowed from burning buildings round about.

"You're certainly taking your time getting to the Palace," the voice chided. 
"I have to say I'm disappointed."

The Prince had long learned to ignore these nagging reminders. He knew what 
his task entailed, and could do no more than work quickly and methodically 
such a route as seemed viable. He looked across a gap through the low broken 
wall that fenced the roof section, and judged he could risk the jump down to a 
far roof section.

He made the leap with but a jolt. From a wall to the side he ran out over a 
springboard to launch himself diagonally to a chain hanging down into an 
enclosed space. Enemies patrolled below. He slid gracefully to the end of the 
chain, and observed two Archers patrolling. He waited until one paced near, 
and the other turned aside. He dropped stealthily behind the enemy below, and 
dispatched it easily. The second sentry stood unaware, and the Prince crouched 
low to come around a thick pillar and finish it from behind. He felt no 
dishonor in such stealthy attack; he was alone against so many, and who knew 
what dangers lay ahead?

But was he actually alone? He seemed cursed to be twinned with that 
inexplicable creation that dwelt within, ready at any moment to usurp his body 
to its own inhuman form. And there was that other, somewhere out there, 
leaving him with the unsettling feeling that he was always being watched. He 
had best stay alert.

From a gap in the floor nearby he jumped first to a ledge, then dropped down 
to another. It crumbled ominously, but simply broke his fall to a third ledge 
nearer the ground.

At a passage end he found a dagger plate high on a wall, off which he climbed 
other ledges to a roof platform. A wall run here brought him to another dagger 
plate, which he caught barely in time, catching his breath before dropping to 
another, and then to the ground.

He was in a small enclosed courtyard, a closed wooden door at either end. 
Wooden tables stood about. This was once perhaps a dining area. He cleared 
baskets from under a pair of dagger plates, from which he could launch himself 
sideways onto a lever. Both doors opened up.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Life Upgrade #2 [crown]
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

-- THE ARENA ------------------------------------------------------------------

At the end of a narrow passage stood a low rounded arch, through which he 
caught a glimpse of movement. Something very large worked busily. Scraping 
sounds of a blade being sharpened carried through.

The Prince stepped cautiously along the dark passage, the sounds growing 
louder as the figure came into view. "I don't like the looks of this," he 
thought grimly. 

The intrepid warrior emerged to the harsh light of the Arena, a place 
constructed for combat and sport. A gigantic creature bent over a massive 
sword, honing it with a rock.

"This thing was once a man," the Prince gasped. "He was there when Kaileena 
died!"

The squat lieutenant at the Vizier's side now presented a ghastly sight. 
Ravaged by the Sands, they had wrought on him a grotesque transformation that 
magnified his worst instincts. Face masked, jaw smashed, crooked teeth bared, 
and in this hideous state grown to enormous size. A thick bloody tongue hung 
from a gaping maw, trailing smears down the throat to its massive chest. A 
sheaf of arrows peppered the monster's back, to which it seemed oblivious. If 
man it once was, this creature was no longer capable of thought or feeling 
beyond a primitive urge to kill.

The nightmare creature sensed the new arrival and rose to its feet, then swung 
its sword in anticipation of fresh sacrifice to the mighty weapon. The 
terrifying figure stamped its foot and roared to the skies, where carrion 
birds circled expectantly. With the full force of both hands it crashed the 
blade down, blasting the Prince aside with the shock of the impact.

The young man was a hardened warrior, and not easily disposed to flee from a 
challenge. Even the monster's enormous size might prove no deterrent, he had 
faced such disparity before; size was often in inverse proportion to agility. 
Steeled for combat, the Prince dashed forward to try what he may. Yet the 
beast swooped down a mighty arm, and snatched him off his feet. It gripped him 
in a giant crushing fist and brought the specimen close.

"Ooh, I think he wants a kiss," the voice said, displaying grim humor. The 
giant contemptuously flung the Prince across the Arena. "Guess not," it 
conceded.

The determined young man staggered to his feet and ran aside, as the massive 
fist smashed to the ground behind him. He had few enough reserves to withstand 
that sort of punishment for long, it was surely more prudent to stay out of 
reach. He ran along the edge of the Arena, looking for escape or place of 
refuge. The beast lumbered about as the Prince ran desperately ahead.

The Arena was a wide circular pit, surrounded by terraces arranged above a 
high wall. Ragged canopies would shade spectators from a blazing sun, though 
there were none here to observe this gruesome spectacle. A huge circular grate 
at the center of the dusty ground might serve as a sluice for the blood of the 
many victims that had no doubt met their fate here. Gates on the arena floor 
were firmly shut, and the walls spiked with obstacles and traps. It had never 
been part of the design of this place that any should escape the killing 
floor.

As he ran for his life the Prince was pursued relentlessly by the beast 
clomping about. It smashed a mighty fist or struck down with its sword, 
shaking the Prince off his feet. To stand and attempt to fight back would mean 
certain death.

"Pay attention to the environment," the voice said. "There must be a way to 
gain ground and bring yourself to his level."

There seemed no better plan. The Prince could not run forever, and would soon 
become exhausted. He began to search around the walls for something to climb 
up on.

Barely discernible in a corner, a short wooden platform seemed caught in a 
pool of light. It led under a dagger plate, no use as means of escape for any 
man without the Prince's athletic ability, but the very device that might 
service his plan. He ran up and hung off it, and moved swiftly to another 
alongside. His path seemed temporarily blocked, until the enraged beast 
cleared a wall with a misdirected lunge from a fist. The Prince ran on to a 
short platform the other side, now revealed, and jumped up to another dagger 
plate on the wall above. He quickly ran off at one side to a projecting wooden 
platform.

He was now at a height nearly level with the beast Klompa's head, and as it 
turned towards him standing there, the Prince jumped forward to land on its 
shoulder, and struck down with the Dagger. As the monster scrabbled to pluck 
the irritation aside, the Prince switched shoulders, and struck a second blow. 
The powerful beast seemed hardly injured.

"Go for the eyes, Prince," the voice urged. "He cannot kill you if he cannot 
see you!"

The Prince jumped nimbly to Klompa's bullish head, and tugged it back. With a 
fast lunge he struck down with his blade. It squelched into the jelly of the 
furious monster's eye. As it thrashed wildly, the Prince slid down its barrel 
chest and tumbled acrobatically to the ground.

The enraged creature blundered backwards, lunging for its prey. The Prince ran 
ahead, searching for escape. The platform where he climbed before was gone, 
blocked by fallen rubble. He circled the Arena again, seeking some other 
vantage point.

In a corner, tucked behind a wall, he found a shallow wooden ramp. As before, 
this would have offered no escape to an ordinary man, however desperate, but 
the Prince easily ran out on a wall to clutch to a wooden beam. Even so, he 
saw no means to progress, until a thick meaty fist crunched down and 
inadvertently broke away an obstruction. Here as before a platform was 
revealed beyond, with a dagger plate and high platform above. In moments the 
Prince was up, as Klompa grunted and growled. He faced the enormous beast 
again, and launched forwards to resume the attack.

He sliced down into a shoulder, but this time Klompa caught him in its massive 
paw. The Prince wrestled about in the crushing clam that gripped the life from 
him, but held his nerve until he judged the moment to strike: as hard as he 
could he thrust his Dagger into the hand. Pain and anger caused the beast to 
hurl him skywards, where he fell to hang off its face. Panting hard, with a 
deft thrust he plunged the Dagger once more, and struck out its other eye. 
Klompa screeched and crumpled to its knees, clutching its face and spilling 
the Prince to the Arena floor. He ran to safe distance among scattered bones.

"Good," the voice said. "You have robbed him of his sight. Now bring him to 
his knees!"

The Prince boldly closed in and struck at the gigantic creature's legs. 
Flashes of Sand emanated on each successful strike, and he hacked and dodged 
aside as the mighty beast howled and grunted, slashing its weapon in fast 
sweeping circles to fend off the unseen pest hacking at its heels.

"He can no longer see you," the voice pointed out with satisfaction. "Move in 
and attack him directly."

Klompa's left foot swung furiously; a blow from the huge solid appendage might 
nearly knock the life from the Prince's body, and he moved closer to the 
standing foot to avoid it. He kept up the assault, and rolled behind as the 
enraged creature hopped madly and turned about. It staggered back, ready to 
kick again.

"His legs, Prince," the voice urged, "cut them!"

He took a tumble as the beast lumbered side to side, but stayed close to the 
heels. He drained its energy with constant stinging slashes that brought 
flashes of Sand from the back of the legs. The mighty foe stilled for a 
moment, and teetered on collapse, one wounded leg poised. The Prince turned to 
the standing leg and struck hard. Klompa was finally exhausted, and sank to 
its knees. The Prince was nearly exhausted too, but now saw his chance.

He bounded up onto the back of the beast and struck down with the Dagger into 
its spine. Klompa howled and spun about, clawing to remove the searing 
attacker. Once more the Prince was flung into the air, but struck again as he 
landed. His blade stuck into one shoulder. Klompa swung wildly, and now the 
Prince stabbed into its neck with the last of his strength, and stitched the 
length of its spine with his attack, striking flashes of Sand as the creature 
arched in agony and screeched its dying breath. The Prince fell away exhausted 
and stumbled from the twisting, writhing creature. Brilliant Sands sprayed 
from its body, that crumbled to dust as it crashed face first to the ground, 
blasting apart the sluice grate at the center of the Arena. The last remnants 
of the once terrifying and invincible creature disappeared into a hole that 
broke through the dusty ground. A deep well became exposed.

As the ground shook, a cleverly constructed mechanical disc that formed a lock 
rotated in the massive wooden gate to one side of the Arena. A latch was 
released and the gate rose up. Imprisoned townsfolk, intended fodder for the 
now departed beast, emerged blinking into the light.

"We're free!" they cheered. "We are free, he's a true hero!"

At that very moment the Prince felt his body begin the transformation to the 
Dark Prince. He grasped his arm, aglow with the Sands, and turned away from 
the freed citizens. "Keep away from me!" he yelled. They must not see him like 
this. He sprang to the nearby well, and dropped into its depths.

He landed safe, but wracked with pain as his arm pulsed and glowed with 
ravening Sand. The transformation took hold, and he was again enveloped in 
coils of dark energy.

-- ARENA TUNNEL ---------------------------------------------------------------

The Dark Prince reformed in a gloomy underground passage. Each second that 
passed drained his energies more; he must press on and hope that his quest 
might bring an end to the nightmare that presently engulfed him. He crossed a 
gap and climbed a ledge, timing the moment to climb higher before he swung out 
on a beam with his flail, and on through the underground passage again.

Pounding blocks waited at a turn. He had only seconds to judge the moment to 
run between them and swing to a far wall, where his upward progress was 
hindered by more.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
'The Prince fled from the Arena, embarrassed at the unwanted attention, 
fearful that they might realize he was becoming a Sand Monster. But something 
tugged at him. The freed citizens believed he had come to rescue them, that 
people - his people - now lived when they should have died. This was just an 
accident. His thoughts had been only of reaching the Vizier and exacting 
revenge. Perhaps now the Prince would remember he once fought for something 
other than his lost honor. It was simply too soon to tell.'
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As he ran on the Dark Prince searched about for some slight store of Sand to 
revive his strength. He searched too for water, that it might release him from 
this curse, at least temporarily.

At the foot of a ladder he reached behind with his flail, and latched onto a 
thick block that slid easily from a wall. He jumped backwards and mounted it, 
and climbed to the passage above, where a door was even now closing down. He 
felt energies ebb but found precious grains of Sand among scattered goods 
beyond.

His flail proved invaluable as he crossed over a gap to ledges, and back on an 
opposite side, where he clambered up to return over beams. Down a ramp an open 
door beckoned, and through here at last he found a shallow pool of water. His 
mutated body flashed with the release of fiery energy as he began to transform 
back to the Prince he knew.

He groaned in agony. His whole arm and now his shoulder were ablaze with the 
infection of the Sands. "It's spreading!" he groaned.

He was close to the fight once more; here were bodies of soldiers, one even at 
the bottom of the plunge pool where he stood. Others lay scattered on a short 
staircase to a chamber with its door ablaze. Flames licked the timbers of an 
opening to a balcony. The Prince stepped outside, still groggy.

A horned guard rushed at him from the shadows of an alcove. Taken unawares, 
the Prince leaped aside then moved to block. From nowhere a string of arrows 
struck the creature full in the chest, one after the other. It reeled back but 
recovered, blade held high still intent on destruction. The Prince skewered it 
with a deft thrust, and kicked the body away. He turned to find his unknown 
savior.

He looked across to a small open balcony where a beautiful young woman in a 
red sari gazed impassively.

"Well, look at that," the voice remarked.

The woman turned away.

"Farah!" called the Prince.

She stopped. "How do you know my name?"

"Yes, I..." the Prince shrugged, then trailed off.

"I eagerly await your response," chimed the voice.

"I have heard tales," the Prince recovered. "Wondrous tales of a beautiful - 
and brave - princess of India. One who has traveled to Babylon seeking to 
punish an evil vizier..." the Prince improvised, "who has caused her great 
distress."

The woman took up her bow in an instant and aimed straight for the Prince.

"See?" the voice said. "Now she is going to kill us."

The arrow whizzed over his shoulder, and scored a direct hit on a second 
horned guard sneaking up behind. As it collapsed to dust the Prince checked 
over his unharmed personage. He looked up as the woman shook her head 
scornfully.

"How in the world did you manage to survive this long? Good luck, stranger."

With that, she was gone.

-- THE BALCONIES --------------------------------------------------------------

Beneath the window where the young woman appeared a Guard stood in company of 
an Archer. They seemed as yet oblivious. The Prince flattened himself to a 
wall and watched until both had backs turned, then executed a nimble wall run 
to a shutter board, off which he sprang to swiftly kill first one then the 
other.

"You, a warrior?" the voice said, unimpressed. "I have seen cats with greater 
skill."

There was no way to pursue Farah, though he had much to ask her. Ahead, from a 
courtyard below, another Sand Gate thrust its beam to the sky. He moved to 
investigate. There lay his best hope of challenging his enemy. The Prince knew 
that with each gate he closed off he might limit the power of the Vizier - or 
whatever he had become.

On a balcony diagonally opposite paced an Archer. It seemed not to have 
noticed him. He crept to a wall to align himself with a shutter. When the 
creature turned its back, he ran out and sprang across to deliver a deadly 
blow. Stealth was prudent here, as a Guard waited on a covered terrace nearby. 
The Prince hung over his balcony edge and jumped to grab a rail there, close 
behind the unwary creature. He slid over the rail and slashed it to a choking 
gurgle of fading Sand. He hopped a rail and moved on, thoughts troubled.

"She called me stranger. She remembers nothing of our past together."

"Because it never happened!" insisted the voice. "You know, no Sands of Time, 
no Azad; you get the Vizier but you lose the girl. It doesn't matter, we're 
better off without her. Or have you forgotten? Maybe a few arrows in the back 
will help stir your memory."

It was a bone of contention, since the Prince had found that on occasion his 
own clumsy maneuvers might cause him to catch a stray arrow from Farah's bow 
when they fought alongside in their previous life. A small irritation, he was 
man enough to take it. "We must catch up with her."

"Fair enough," groaned the voice. "Though I suspect you and I want very 
different things from the girl."

The Prince occupied himself with a run off a row of dagger plates to a hanging 
chain. He slipped down, and paused as a guard came into view underneath. He 
dropped behind and took it with two deft thrusts of his Dagger.

From an enclosed yard down below came the bright shaft of light off a Sand 
Gate. A solitary monster patrolled it, but as he balanced out along a beam the 
Prince knew it was too far down for him to reach. Directly ahead was another 
hanging chain, and a Guard in evidence on the platform below. He slid down its 
length but gave pause, and looked about. His instinct was correct, for a 
second Guard patrolled a covered passage to one side, and had the Prince 
dropped hastily to attack it would surely have raised the alarm. He waited 
until the Guards moved close to one another, and dropped between them to 
finish both in one dazzling display of the assassin's art.

He peeped over the balustrade and observed the Sand Gate Guard pacing around 
the portal, entirely unaware of his presence. Still it was not certain a 
frontal assault would be his best way forward. The creature stood facing him, 
then made his rounds. A low wall just under where the Prince watched offered 
little prospect for concealment if he dropped recklessly down, but a small 
enclosure opposite in the yard might give a better chance. He made his way 
along the covered passage to a gap in the trellis window screens, and dropped 
through. He found himself inside the small pen enclosure. Through a gap 
between its walls stood the Sand Gate Guard, with back turned.

             ----------------------------------------------

                            YOU HAVE GAINED
                  T H E  E Y E  O F  T H E  S T O R M

             ----------------------------------------------

Armed with new powers for the Dagger of Time, the Prince made his way back up 
around the covered passage in search of a switch for the only door from the 
area.

At the top of a narrow flight of steps an Archer bounded into view. A mob of 
Guards hustled behind. The Prince lost no time triggering the Eye of The 
Storm. To his astonishment, Time slowed for all around, yet he kept his usual 
motion, so that he was able to close in up the steps and strike out among the 
Sand Monsters as they waded in a quagmire of slowed Time. He easily ducked 
under such arrows as were loosed in his direction, and tumbled behind lunging 
Guards as they tried to swing weapons against him. Again and again he 
unleashed the power of the Dagger as it wore off, and kept up his attack, so 
that even though they crowded him close it was all the easier to finish every 
one.

"Nice moves," the voice remarked, though with something less than real 
enthusiasm.

The Prince scarcely paid heed. He sheathed his sword in satisfaction. Here at 
last he had the perfect weapon to even the greatest odds.

On one wall was a tile switch, that when triggered opened the door in the 
courtyard below. Yet as he jumped out to run to it, the door closed down 
again. Here was the opportunity for the Dagger to assist him, and the Prince 
realized as he ran for the door in slowed Time that he would not have been 
able to pass through without it.

A dead body lay under broken rails of a gate where he tumbled inside, and 
others, pierced by arrows, within the rough chamber he found there. Somberly 
the Prince hurried to his task.

-- THE DARK ALLEY -------------------------------------------------------------

A stairway lit with tiny stacks of candles led only to a shut door. In an 
alcove at one side narrow walls formed a chimney. First clearing a rack, he 
began a strenuous ascent, leaping back and forth between the walls, until he 
reached sufficient height to stab his dagger into a metal plate, then steadied 
himself for a jump sideways to a higher chamber.

"You still have feelings for her," came the voice in derisory tones. "Admit 
it."

"Farah and I went through so much together. Though she may not remember, I can 
never forget."

In a raised niche stood a ladder. He climbed to emerge once again high over 
the rooftops of Babylon. The Tower was closer now.

He ran to the edge of a rough wooden platform, and soon observed Archers 
patrolling below. As he landed on a flat roof, pigeons took flight, bringing 
the enemy to alert. The Prince crouched low till they seemed relaxed, then 
dropped over a rail to finish the first. He ducked behind stacked baskets to 
be sure the other had not seen him. As it turned away he ran out over the edge 
of his rooftop to take it from behind. He saw the bloody corpse of a soldier 
at the Archer's feet, and felt no remorse.

He scrambled up a wall and came across the girl in the red sari on a nearby 
rooftop. She ran at his approach but turned in surprise, her eyes wide. "The 
Dagger of Time!" she exclaimed. "How did you come to possess that?

"Here we go again," sighed the voice.

"I took it," the Prince shrugged. "From the Vizier."

"That traitor. He murdered my father; enslaved my people; imprisoned me. And 
all in the name of becoming some kind of god."

With breastplate and leather bindings she had the bearing of a warrior, and 
she had the heart too. Their enemy was the same.

"I know too well what he is capable of. But I intend to find him," the Prince 
swept his sword for emphasis, "and punish him for what he has done to my 
kingdom."

"You are the son of Shahraman, the Prince of Persia?"

"And you are the daughter of the Maharajah. We both seek the same thing. 
Perhaps we should journey together?"

"Perhaps. Provided you can keep up."

She scampered away up steep steps to a far rooftop.

"I grow tired of her little tests," the voice said.

"It is simply her way. I assure you, she will prove a valuable ally."

The infection had taken root past his shoulder to the small of his back. The 
Prince did not know to what extent the Sands might overcome him, but he sensed 
the urgency of his mission.

He swept under a rope line hung with carpets, and ducked on instinct as he 
came close to a lower rooftop. A lone Guard waited on it, and the Prince 
dropped to creep up behind. He had need of a blade and snatched the weapon 
from the mutant creature's fallen body. Above one corner on a wall was the 
first of a pair of dagger plates. With no better means of progress he used 
them to swing to an adjacent rooftop. From their post in waiting, a Guard and 
an Archer came running to meet him.

The Prince dropped down and closed on the nearest. He knew from experience 
that lumbering Guards could easily be kept at a distance through his agility, 
but arrows more frequently troubled him. He cast the spare blade at the Archer 
to send it reeling, then vaulted over and flung it from the high rooftop. One 
on one now, the Guard stood little chance, even though the Prince had left 
himself with but a single weapon. He collected that of the soon departed 
enemy. Drawn by the commotion, across a far walkway two thuggish guards ran to 
confront him on an adjacent rooftop terrace.

The Prince jumped across and threaded carefully between clusters of burning 
laths where the tiled terrace floor had given way. Combat was brief but 
exhilarating. He swung around a short wooden pillar to kick to the face of one 
as he twirled his blades across the body of the other. He clubbed the first to 
the ground then sliced the second before it recovered. What fight they 
retained was shortly extinguished.

The girl reappeared. His fighting skill had evidently been under scrutiny. 
"All right," she said, "I am impressed. I suppose it is wise to work together, 
there is strength in numbers after all.

"I'm glad you have come around."

"Just don't make me regret it. Now, let us find the Vizier." She fired an 
arrow that opened up a door to a vestibule behind him.

Unable to reach him directly, the mysterious girl made off in another 
direction. Beneath where she appeared a tortured body pierced with arrows hung 
from a rope, used perhaps as target practice. Flames crackled around the dead 
on the terrace, and still came the distant cries of tormented citizens. He 
turned to his mission.

The tiled floor of the vestibule was broken up, and at one side a short jetty 
gave on to a narrow chute. The Prince slid down and turned to a dagger plate 
on an opposite wall. It was set beside a long curtain that brought him safely 
to the ground. Through passages here he returned to the back streets of the 
city. Washing hung forlorn between empty houses. He used another long curtain 
to jump backwards to a passage, and moved on, the distant wails and cries of 
the captured citizens faint but insistent as ever. An apparent dead end was 
overcome by a chimney ascent, and he made his way around high ledges.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
'With the Dahaka defeated, the Prince was slowly regaining pieces of his 
former self. The pressure and desperation which once drove him were gone. Grim 
as things seemed, there was now hope. Hope that peace could be restored to the 
land and to our tortured hero. But the Vizier's army still hunted him, and 
they grew more determined by the hour.'
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Prince was undeterred. He jumped to a platform, and made a daring wall run 
to another, where at a turn he found a ladder. At the top was a small chamber 
where light fell on a decorative star set into the tile floor. He hurried on 
up a second ladder and emerged to fresh light. The trickle of water announced 
a fountain basin standing in shadow at the passage exit.

-- THE TEMPLE ROOFTOPS --------------------------------------------------------

The Prince emerged above a garden on a wooden platform fringed in hanging 
vegetation. Farah stood on a higher platform beside, transfixed as a ghastly 
apparition hovered across the garden below.

"What!" she exclaimed. "What is that thing?"

The Prince stepped to a balcony rail and watched grimly as a golden gliding 
creature hovered over the ground.

"It is the Vizier!"

Farah was appalled. "What has happened to him?"

"Something terrible," said the Prince.

"Something wonderful," murmured the voice.

"No!" the Prince drew the Dagger of Time and moved to confront the golden 
apparition as it disappeared inside a temple doorway.

"Wait," called Farah. "Be happy that he is gone. You never would have stood a 
chance."

"Oh, how silly of me, you are right. Perhaps we should surrender, or turn away 
and leave the city? I know a lovely little island just a few weeks' journey 
from here, I am sure by the time we return this will all be sorted out."

"If it comforts you to mock me then by all means continue, but you are so 
focused on killing him you've thrown strategy completely out of the window." 
She crossed her arms and chastened him. "You could have died."

"I suppose. But now we need to find a way to enter the Temple. We are wasting 
time here."

"That seems to be our best bet." She gestured towards an opening high in one 
wall.

The Prince jumped down into the garden courtyard. All appeared tranquil now 
that the Vizier had gone, but his warrior's instinct caused him to draw his 
blade.

From nowhere a figure reached out to attack him. A bone-chilling hiss emanated 
from its body, nearly invisible. Another came at him from behind. The 
attackers were much the same as the Reptus from the sewers, short and stocky, 
and equally vicious. These seemed as chameleons, taking color from their 
surroundings so perfectly that they became almost transparent.

"You may not be able to see these creatures but you can still hear them," 
warned the voice.

The Prince hacked blindly, twisting and leaping as his sword connected with 
solid flesh. For a moment the stunned creature under his blade dropped its 
disguise and revealed its ugly green form, draped in ragged bindings. He dived 
forward, and slashed across its now exposed body again and again until it 
crumpled to Sand as so many before. Others closed in from behind. The Prince 
moved confidently about the pillars of a ruined colonnade, sweeping his blade 
and striking each sly clumsy attacker as it sought to impede him. These 
creatures needed stealth since their fighting ability with short chopping 
blade was patently limited, and the half dozen that took their chance against 
him were soon cleared away.

"Excellent work!" the voice remarked, seemingly reinvigorated now that the 
Vizier 
was close.

Each side of the garden was completely screened off by an iron fence. The 
massive Temple doors stood at the top of a flight of steps, but there was no 
way through, nor at any of several smaller doors. Treasure and trinkets lay 
scattered among the ruined grounds. At one point, not far from where Farah 
stood waiting overhead, he found a dagger plate high up on a pillar. He 
executed an upward wall run to latch onto it, and from there reached up to a 
niche in the pillar, dripping in bearded vegetation that he used to shimmy 
right around. A slender upright column stood between him and the walls to the 
castle building, and he was soon onto it and away, to snatch his blade at 
another dagger plate. From a side run off a shutter, he grasped a short pillar 
at a balcony edge, and stepped out on firm ground.

A heavy door off his balcony was solidly shut. Now what? He shrugged. Farah 
drew her bow and shot an arrow to sever a rope attached to a hanging bell 
alongside. It clanged to the ground, its note resonating through the ruined 
courtyard. The Prince jumped across to where it lay at the foot of an alcove, 
but before he could examine it was beset by another invisible Chameleon, that 
grunted and wheezed menacingly. When he had seen it to oblivion the Prince 
turned to the heavy bell.

He was beneath the hole Farah had spotted, and soon dragged the bell so that 
he could climb through. A dagger switch lay within, and he effortlessly set it 
to operation. Doors about the garden balconies slotted open, and Farah called 
across from one where she stood.

"It worked! I'm going in."

As she ran inside, the Prince lowered himself out of the hole in the wall.

"I'm not sure I like how this girl is always charging ahead," the voice 
complained.

The Prince dropped onto the caged bell. From it there was sufficient height to 
return with a wall run to the pillared balcony. "Fear not," he assured. "She 
has already proved a valuable asset to us."

The door was now open. No sooner had he stepped inside than it slotted shut.

Lit torches guttered along walls and light shafted down at intervals in a 
gloomy passage, with its floor far below. He ran over a wall to a narrow 
ledge, and sidled across to a dagger plate behind. This allowed him to reach a 
section of ledge further along, yet as he landed it shook and crumbled 
alarmingly. With no time to waste he edged on, and jumped for a second dagger 
switch at the very moment the ledge broke away. A further section of ledge 
seemed more secure.

"You know," came the voice, "I have been thinking about what Farah said 
earlier. She has a point, how do you plan to kill the Vizier? He is immortal 
now."

"The Dagger made him into what he is. It can unmake him."

"I suppose we will know the truth of this soon enough."

A dagger switch on a wall behind him opened out mechanical ledges beneath. The 
Prince was somehow certain they would not stay projected for long, and 
shimmied quickly to one side, and jumped across the passage to another. A 
ledge just above provided no firmer refuge, for even as the mechanical ledges 
retracted underneath the stone footing cracked, shook, and began to fall away. 
He clutched just in time to a niche above. A stone ledge further along felt 
suitably strong, and from a last dagger plate he reached the treacherous 
passage end. Here was a door solidly shut, yet ledges overhead brought him to 
an open arch, with what looked to be a courtyard garden beyond.

As the Prince hauled himself up, a demon beast bounded to confront him. 
Another Hunter Hound. Its wolf-like body arched as it planted thick paws and 
opened its jaws. The brilliant glow of Sand filled its mouth as it sucked 
breath from his direction. His Sand Tanks drained even as he moved to attack.

"These creatures seem to feed off the Sands," the voice reminded him. "Kill 
them before they steal any more from you!"

The Prince struck out. The beast screeched and flailed, slashing with its 
vicious claws, as he beat it away. A second beast sprang to the assault, and 
another crawled from a pit to one side. He knocked them away, though even as 
these squirmed on their backs another came slinking from the pit. The Prince 
used what Sand he retained to slow Time, giving himself precious moments to 
dodge their swipes, or slow their suction stance that threatened to drain his 
miraculous, hitherto invaluable asset. As the last remaining Hound stood with 
jaws agape he thrust the Dagger into it, and sucked the very life from its 
body. He put a boot to the carcass of the still writhing beast and kicked it 
to the depths whence it came.

"Such skill!" the voice remarked, still elated by the close pursuit.

With the enemies in the immediate vicinity banished to dust the Prince took 
stock. The courtyard was surrounded by high walls, and was empty but for twin 
ruined round towers that stood at one side. These gave no obvious means of 
ascent. Off a low block beside the bottomless pit the Prince judged a run 
around a curved wall could bring him to a projecting horizontal pole hanging 
over. This faced a dagger switch set into one of the towers, and its operation 
brought a stone block out of the ground in a corner behind the second tower. 
In no time he was up and around with a wall run to a wooden section midway up 
the first tower. A run over its curved wall let him catch to another 
horizontal pole. Turning about, he swung up to the broken wall of the tower 
top. A long and seemingly impossible leap brought him to a small shattered 
section of walkway close over the door where he entered the courtyard. He used 
a dagger plate above to run and jump out for a pole, and then a wooden spar.

He caught his breath for a moment. From close by came the angry snorting sound 
of guards patrolling a Sand Gate, just on the other side of the wall where he 
stood. He looked cautiously to an opening beneath, and sure enough saw a Guard 
standing staring in his direction. He waited until its back was turned, then 
leaped for a covered balcony high alongside.

The Prince crept stealthily to the balcony rail and looked down. Three Guards 
paced around a Sand Gate. He might easily drop down to take out the nearest, 
but judged he was unable to reach the Sand Gate Guard before it might summon 
reinforcements. This was no time to be cavalier. He spotted a series of dagger 
plates around the walls of the courtyard enclosure, and hung off his balcony 
rail to use the other side of the wooden spar projecting trough the wall to 
reach the nearest plate. The creatures below seemed none the wiser as he 
sprang off a shutter to a plate on the far wall, where he angled sideways to 
stab to the last. Now better situated, he looked down and waited until all 
three creatures below had their backs turned away. Ironic perhaps that while 
it could only be guessed what hazard they expected, and from which direction 
it might come, when danger threatened they were unprepared. He dropped between 
the nearest two and executed a dazzling strike on each, somersaulting between 
them in turn, neither able to resist until both were dead. The Sand Gate Guard 
came to his senses and rushed to put the gate to action, but the Prince jumped 
over and stopped him just in time. Even this hulking brute was no match for 
the young man's agility, and within seconds the Prince had the courtyard to 
himself. His first action was to close off the simmering Sand Gate.

             ----------------------------------------------

                            YOU HAVE GAINED
                      A  N E W  S A N D  T A N K

             ----------------------------------------------

All doors from the courtyard were closed. In one corner, two dagger plates 
were screened off, one above the other. The Prince cleared pots from beneath, 
and judged them a little to high to reach. A heavy metal bell stood to one 
side. He dragged it over to the dagger plates, and soon hauled himself up to a 
small grassy platform. Farah emerged from a doorway.

"Such a beautiful building," she mused.

"Father built these gardens as a symbol of his love for our people. Once, all 
the kingdom was like this."

"Try using these levers." Farah gestured to a neat lawn her side of a wall. 
"If I can reach the other side I might be able to find a way to open that 
door."

The levers were a series of capstans lit by burning braziers, such as he had 
used many times about the city. They were invariably useful, but he could not 
guess what action these might perform here. It appeared there was nothing else 
to be done; a dagger switch close by where he stood was too high out of reach.

He dropped over a low wall under the dagger switch and clambered up to the 
nearest capstan. It stood alone beside the ruins of a round tower. As he moved 
its handle, top sections of other round towers nearby began to rotate. 
Projecting platforms spun round as a turntable, facing to one another. The 
Prince began to see the makings of a plan.

He jumped down under the dagger switch once more, and from a low dais in the 
ruined tower managed to grab up to a dagger switch. Others alongside brought 
him around to an open wall, which he reached to climb over.

Here was the neat lawn that Farah had found, with its two burning braziers on 
capstan levers. She stood on a high tower platform watching the Prince as he 
prepared to put them to operation. It seemed each lever turned the two towers 
nearest to it. The one nearest Farah brought her platform around ninety 
degrees, and another tower platform cranking away from it. He would need to 
turn that one back.

He tried the second lever, and it duly revolved the tower in the reverse 
direction, so that it now faced on to her platform. Farah hopped the short 
gap. The Prince ran eagerly to greet her.

"Do you think you could move a little faster?" she called down.

"You are more than welcome to try come down here and try it yourself," he 
called back. He shook his head and muttered: "Seven years and still nothing's 
changed."

"Seven years?" She looked puzzled. "What are you talking about."

"It's, uh -- a figure of speech."

Now Farah shook her head. "There is something very odd about you."

The voice gave a short laugh. "She has no idea."

The Prince ran back to the far capstan and put his shoulder to its handle 
again. The turntables came about once more, raising dust as they cranked round 
sending Farah out overhead. Hers and a third platform met in the middle, and 
Farah stepped over to the next tower.

"Ah," the Prince grinned, "we are making progress."

"I think I see a bell in that tower." Farah pointed to a hole at the top of 
the ruin. "Perhaps if you can get me to the next balcony I can sever its rope; 
you can use it to access the door switch."

"With my luck, it will probably trigger some terrible trap, or summon Sand 
Monsters. Or bring about the end of the world."

"Would it kill you to show a little optimism?"

"Experience has taught me wishful thinking only leads to disappointment."

Farah stood now on the third tower platform. Using the same lever, the Prince 
brought it back round again, where Farah jumped across. At this moment of 
triumph, Sand Monsters scaled walls from their lair below and closed in on the 
Prince. Just as he feared.

These were more devilish Hunter Hounds that sucked precious Sand from his 
store. He whirled round and knocked the nearest on its back, where it wriggled 
and squealed. Bony ribs blazed with fire of the Sands, and the Prince slashed 
down without mercy. Familiar now with their mode of attack, the Prince faced 
another as it came, and watched for it to open its jaws, at which he plunged 
the Dagger in, turning the tables on the creature as he sucked out its life, 
twisting and screaming on the end of his blade.

"Well done," the voice said, with more than a hint of sarcasm.

The levers in the garden space moved only the outermost towers. He needed to 
return to the first capstan in order to rotate the inner tower back to its 
starting position. Soon enough he sent Farah turning about on its high 
projecting platform.

"See?" she said, bowing an arrow. "You did it."

"We did it," he stressed.

He looked up where Farah shot her arrow though the ruined tower alongside, 
severing a rope. A bell suspended from it clanged to the ground.

The Prince hopped down. With its wooden housing, the bell was the perfect 
platform to reach the dagger switch. As hoped, it opened a door alongside. As 
he dropped off the switch, ready to investigate, moans and tortured cries 
could be heard.

"Wait!" Farah shouted. "There are people hurt inside. We should help them."

As the Prince pondered what to do, the metal door beside him clanged shut 
again.

"Now is not the time, Prince," the voice cut in. "You can help all you want 
later."

The Prince was torn. "Go, Farah," he called over. "Tend to the wounded. I will 
catch up with you once I have dealt with the Vizier."

She ran off inside the fortress. The Prince turned again to the dagger switch 
and reopened the door. He climbed the low wall to run inside before it closed 
down again. He made his way along narrow ledges using a dagger plate to cross 
a bottomless passage inside.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
'And so the Prince and Farah separated. She sought to save lives, he to end 
them. For the Prince intended to confront his enemy and perhaps utilize the 
powerful warriors who had holed up inside the temple. His mind churned with 
thoughts of glorious vengeance. But something new as well; descending into the 
depths his thoughts kept returning to Farah. He wondered if she was thinking 
of him as well.'
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From a platform at the passage end he mounted a dagger plate to reach ledges, 
and swung to one side off a high dagger plate to pull himself up along a 
narrow stone passage. A door here was soon opened with a dagger switch 
alongside.

-- THE TEMPLE -----------------------------------------------------------------

At the foot of spiral turret stairs he came on a gruesome sight. Bodies of 
soldiers, their armor no protection, slumped where they had been slaughtered.

The Prince turned away sadly. From a short balcony he looked down into the 
tower. More of his father's dead warriors lay piled at the feet of a demonic 
creature that even now confronted one valiant survivor. As the Prince watched, 
horrified, it sliced the brave soldier clean in two. With unbecoming relish 
the creature uttered a harsh exclamation of triumph.

This was the Vizier in his new, terrifying state of transformation.

"To conquer a city is one thing," the shocked Prince exclaimed, "but to do so 
with such violence and cruelty is something else entirely. I will return every 
blow he has landed against my kingdom!"

"We are close, Prince, so close," urged the voice. "Let us make him suffer."

Somehow the rage that built inside the Prince at that moment triggered the 
change that began with a seizure in his infected arm, then sucked him into a 
vortex of dark energy as Sands radiated through his body. Cast to his knees 
the noble Prince rose as the Dark Prince once more.

In whatever form, his task remained to confront each wicked foe that enslaved 
his kingdom, and ultimately face their evil master. He hopped his balcony 
vantage point and sprang to a ledge. He dropped off to a beam and saw a Guard 
on a balcony below. From a second beam he dropped onto it, planted a foot in 
its back and throttled it with his chain. At that a Hunter Hound crept up to 
join him on the balcony. He waited till its glowing jaws were spread wide, 
then flung the flail around its head and struck with his Dagger, sucking the 
squealing beast dry of its Sands.

With his stock renewed the Dark Prince headed off in pursuit of the Vizier. In 
a cavernous room of stone pillars he ran around walls, deploying his chain 
where he could and falling at length on a lower balcony with its requisite 
Guard. No sooner had he dispatched the hapless sentry than not one but two 
Hunter Hounds prowled to greet him there. A few lashes of the flail were 
enough to subdue them. He looked about for some means of progress, and from a 
rough wooden edge to the balcony observed a stone block, that when extracted 
served as a platform for an upward run to a semicircular open platform.

Through an arch was a deep narrow chamber room, its walls lined with pillars. 
He dropped to a ledge that backed to a stone block in an opposite wall, and 
tugged it out with his chain. This served as a launch platform to run across a 
wall, swinging from lanterns and springing from shutters. The Vizier was here 
somewhere, carrying out his evil work.

"I am Zervan, God of Time," were his gloating words. "I bear gifts: pain and 
suffering. Come closer, that I might share these treasures with you."

"It-it has Fazad," came a terrified voice.

"What's it doing to him?" trembled another.

"Stand your ground! Do not let it- argh!"

A brave defender's urgent cry was strangled by a blood-curdling scream of 
anguish. The Dark Prince listened grimly as he fought aside Sand Guards on the 
balconies above, and made his way further along walls and platforms.

"Doomed, we're all doomed," wailed a last desperate voice. "Retreat to the 
sanctuary."

The Dark Prince stood on the rough planks of a corner platform.

"Babylon's last line of defense fallen," he realized. "These men served my 
family well; with their defeat the city is fully in the hands of the Vizier."

The Temple was a high room that housed monumental sculptures of cowled figures 
each bearing a bowl of flaming coals. One such had been shattered to the 
floor. The Dark Prince ran out to wedge himself behind the nearest, and 
lowered himself a little in order to use his flail to jump forwards to the 
next. He lowered down a little again, to jump and land on a corner platform, 
with a balcony above. Unable to climb directly up from here, he ran to an 
opposite platform passing underneath the balcony, and ascended from there.

Two Guards were taken by stealth, then he rounded the walls of another 
chamber, dropping down long hanging red banners to the floor.

Strange runic stones adorned in ancient ideograms stood in alcoves to each 
side. This might once have been a place of holy ritual. It threatened at this 
moment to become a place of sacrifice: from holes in the walls came creeping 
Reptus. The Dark Prince had no time for endless combat without profit, and ran 
to step on a decorative floor tile, that opened a door at one side. He 
hastened through, leaving the growling, hissing creatures to their domain.

A stone stairway led up, and as he passed over another floor switch at its 
foot he heard a door open at the top. Certain that it would not remain open 
for long, the Dark Prince made his way up the stairs, little troubled by 
swishing sword drums at each turn, or pounding blocks between. At the top of 
the stairs was the open door, and the Vizier in his mutated form visible 
hovering in a chamber beyond.

"I came offering power, and this is how you respond?" scoffed his voice. "So 
be it. Join your brethren in the afterlife!"

As the Dark Prince entered to face his quarry the demon Vizier vanished. Feet 
splashed in water, and a burst of energy bolted through the tormented figure, 
transforming him back to the Prince.

He was in a cylindrical chamber similar to the last, flooded by a shallow 
pool. Here in an alcove were more of the strange runic stones, framed in 
sculpted bas-relief. Facing this in another alcove stood a flaming capstan, 
water flowing underneath. The Prince waded over. Its operation set down a 
shutter that stopped the flow of water, at the same time opening a sluice to 
drain the chamber pool in gurgling eddies.

The Prince stepped out on the floor to investigate what new possibilities had 
arisen. Without warning, two strange slender beings emerged from the dried 
center sluice, raising foul clouds of yellow dust about their ethereal form. 
Each flung rapid volleys of short blades that stung him backwards. As he tried 
to close to attack they glided about the floor and disappeared as a mere 
illusion from the lash of his sword. One creature flung him to the ground as 
it sailed past, too fleet for his swing. Demonic shrieks echoed in the chamber 
as blades came flying, and as he turned to attack each enemy melted away. 
Enraged, the Prince flung his own weapon, and scored a direct hit, the 
stricken Illusion melting away. He snatched up a fallen blade and repeated the 
trick on the other.

Despite his efficient dispatch of these most unusual enemies, the voice was 
unimpressed. "What happened to the Prince I once knew?"

With water now drained from the room, the Prince found that he could more 
easily run up on walls. He noticed the stump of a broken column facing a 
niche, and at this point he gained sufficient height to spring backwards to 
the remainder suspended from the ceiling. He scaled it as far as he was able, 
then turned to a second short section of column protruding downwards, and from 
it jumped back to a platform ledge. The chamber flooded light from an opening 
high above, where last he saw the evil Zervan.

"Every time I reach him he slips away. Why will he not just stay and fight? It 
would make things so much simpler."

"It is not always about combat, Prince. Some battles are waged in other ways, 
on other terms. I fear we have underestimated our opponent. Let us not make 
the same mistake a second time."

The Prince ran out on a wall and jumped to grab a thin metal bar that almost 
spanned the chamber. Other bars were set at intervals to the opening at the 
top.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Life Upgrade #3 [scepter]
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

He jumped from the last bar and hauled out of the Runic chamber. A shaft of 
sunlight struck down from a dome skylight into the octagonal hole.

Through a doorway more bodies lay broken on the floor. A flaming capstan stood 
ready. He turned its handle, and passed under an opened door.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
'Babylon had finally fallen, and none were left to come to the Prince's aid. 
He was now the cities only hope. If he failed his entire world could be lost, 
for the Vizier was not content to simply be a king. No, he fancied himself a 
god. The question now was whether the Prince realized the position he was in? 
And if he did, would he accept this responsibility. Would he become a hero?'
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

At a gap in a balcony rail the Prince ran out on a wall to a long red banner, 
and jumped away at its length to a second on the wall behind. He slid to 
ground, where through an open door he found a dagger switch. The door it 
opened closed down slowly. Passing under he found himself in a rough stone 
passage.

He ran out on a wall to cross a drop, and climbed a balcony rail. Wind whipped 
the barren passage, and he heard once more the cries of his people. He hurried 
up a ladder and saw daylight ahead.

-- THE MARKETPLACE ------------------------------------------------------------

The Prince emerged along an arched colonnade above the old Marketplace. He ran 
quickly down steps to one side, where he found Farah waiting behind a barred 
door.

"Are you all right?" she asked.

"He has escaped." The Prince put his hand to hers. "And you, what of the 
troops?"

"Dead, all dead. But I saw the Vizier, or whatever it is he has become. He 
flew towards the palace."

"Then we know where to go."

"All right, but I seem to be - well - stuck. Could you find a way to open this 
door?"

"I understand the principles of courtesy," the voice grumbled, "but I think 
you take things a bit too far."

The Prince turned to look about. Farah did not seem to notice that nearly the 
whole of his back now glowed with infection of the Sands.

A body pierced by arrows lay slumped over a balustrade. The Prince could find 
no switch or mechanism nearby that might open Farah's door. He reasoned that 
it had to be below, but there seemed no way down. The Prince returned up the 
steps to try further out along the colonnade.

Fires drifted up. A pall of smoke hung over Babylon. Still there came the 
distant cries of the citizens. Broken steps in front might have proved a 
barrier to lesser men, but the Prince ran out on a wall and jumped to a wall 
turret ledge. He shimmied around and jumped to a narrow chimney formed by the 
wall and a trellis. He slid towards ground.

Two Sand creatures patrolled below. They seemed in appearance - if it were 
possible - even more menacing than the Guards he encountered elsewhere in the 
city. Their armor was heavier and more elaborate, bearing spiked epaulettes, 
and they carried extra weapons. Despite this fearsome appearance they were as 
unwary as the others, and fell to the swiftness of his stealthy attack just 
the same.

He sheathed his Dagger and looked about. He was in a narrow alley section, 
blocked by blazing rubble at one end. Trellis barred arched storage sections 
along one side. He stepped on a floor switch that opened up a door, but this 
slid shut the very moment he stepped off. There was no hope of him reaching 
it, even with his ability to control Time. He would need to find something to 
weigh down the switch. To one end of the enclosed space, a likely candidate 
showed itself as a large wicker basket with handles. He dragged this over the 
switch, and the basket indeed weighted it sufficiently. The Prince made his 
way through.

The passage beyond was scattered with the bric-a-brac storage of the 
marketplace: pots, jars, boxes, baskets, sacks. The passage led only to a 
closed trellis door. The Prince clambered up to an opening above, and ducked 
down as he saw more Guards below.

Invaders had looted the market. Bodies lay strewn among burning carts and 
sacks of goods. A tortured soul hung off a gibbet. The Prince jumped out to it 
and swore silent vengeance on the curs that sought to perpetrate such 
atrocities. He stared down at the three that occupied the marketplace. Though 
similar in appearance, one in particular seemed different. He judged that the 
Sands had infected the invaders to varying extent, and that some more 
prolonged exposure might cause greater mutation. He spurned the easy 
opportunity to descend on the nearest enemy below, and began to work his way 
closer to the strangest of the three. He jumped to a second wooden post, and 
off to a dagger plate on one wall. Here he gained a more advantageous angle to 
surprise the unwary posse. He fell swiftly and struck out with his Dagger.

As he suspected, the strange Sand Monster had gained greater strength than 
those he met previously. Fully five sweeps of his flashing blade were required 
to send it choking to the ground. Now he crept to the others, and dealt some 
small recompense for the deaths of blameless citizens.

Even with the enemy cleared he saw no obvious route ahead. This side of the 
market was blocked by rubble as the other. To hand was a wicker basket, and he 
judged that it might be the right height to give onto a twin arch section with 
a lower wall at one side.

Here was the far corner of the marketplace. A pair of Guards stood sentry. A 
wooden spar jutted towards a dagger plate, and with sprung shutter boards to 
another dagger plate alongside, the Prince worked his way over the heads of 
the unsuspecting monsters. He dropped down and finished them as one.

On the ground were two switches much the same as the one he had last weighted 
down, but there did not appear to be any heavy object that he could place over 
either. In any case, after experimentation neither switch opened the door at 
the middle of the area that seemed the only means of access. It appeared that 
the switches must be depressed at the same time, but he was conspicuously 
alone. At the far end of the space, in a covered alcove a dagger switch was 
mounted to the wall. This opened the gate that held Farah captive above, and 
she emerged to look down on the Prince from the colonnade. "Thank you, 
Prince."

"Of course," he shrugged. "The problem is, now I am trapped."

"Just like a woman," the voice remarked. "Solving her problem creates a new 
one for you."

Farah spoke up. "Allow me to return the favor, then."

She looked about, and finally shot an arrow at a winch platform suspended on a 
rope. As one side snapped loose, the platform tilted, and a large wicker 
basket hoist on it toppled down.

"You were saying?" the Prince asked of the voice.

"Go on, then," it conceded.

He dragged the heavy basket over the nearest switch. A mechanism slotted to 
operation, though the door remained shut. He ran to the second switch and 
stood on it. The door at the middle of the space opened up. It promptly began 
to fall the moment he stepped off his switch, but he ran the short distance 
and rolled under.

Inside were small chambers cluttered with goods. Beside another dead body he 
climbed a ladder to a wooden shaft. Thin beams of light struck down through a 
partly broken grille. He clambered up using a dagger plate.

"I hope Farah is all right."

"You are spending way too much time looking after the girl," the voice 
returned. "Is this necessary?"

"You sound upset. Are you jealous?"

"Just focus on getting to the palace."

From a broken balustrade he ran out on a wall, and sprang off a shutter to a 
dagger plate, nearly concealed by hanging branches. He swung off to a thin 
ledge at one side and continued around battered brick walls high above a 
twisting passage, striking out on dagger plates, beams, and shutters, until he 
pulled up in a passage of stone arches. Any moment of contemplation brought 
sharp rebuke from the voice.

"Dreaming about the girl again? Well, wake up!"

-- THE MARKET DISTRICT --------------------------------------------------------

The Prince dropped to a small platform, where he ran out over a wall and 
jumped to a pillar ledge. He dropped to hold on, and shuffled about a turn 
where he dropped to a dagger plate. Enemies patrolled a Sand Gate in a 
courtyard below. There was no way that he could risk a drop from this height, 
and he swung to a dagger plate on the other side of the pillar to pull up on 
ledges. Farah came running.

"There you are," she called with relief.

"Keep your voice down! There are enemies below."

"OK, but see if you can do something about these crates, I cannot get past 
them." A tall stack of wicker crates faced her between her wooden walkway and 
another.

"Do you understand now?" the voice said. "This is the sort of thing that slows 
us down."

The Prince carried on around the pillar to a wooden hoist that projected 
towards a narrow chute in a wall opposite. More guards patrolled the space 
below. He dropped above the head of one, and though he may have taken it by 
stealth very easily, he observed another sentry closing in. To alert all at 
once might provoke unnecessary danger, and he waited until the sentry turned 
away before he started his attack. Such caution was well founded: the guard 
below proved to need a lot of killing. As the sentry returned, the Prince 
climbed a ladder out of sight.

The sentry appeared to find nothing amiss, and now the Prince looked to where 
a third stood guarding a door. That seemed the most likely means of exit from 
the small enclosed yard, and he noticed a niche in the wall that led right 
around to a beam close above it. He jumped across to grab it, and made his way 
to the beam. Here he delivered a dazzling attack that caught the sentry 
underneath by surprise. The other came running. A cart blazed in a corner and 
the Prince vaulted over the enemy to grab its shoulders and toss it to the 
flames. He cleared loose pots from beneath a dagger switch on a wall by the 
ladder. It helped that the Prince had recourse to the Eye of The Storm to pass 
under as it closed down again.

Along a cluttered passage he came to a trellis screen the other side of the 
courtyard space where he discovered the Sand Gate and its legion of guards. He 
climbed up on top to survey.

The Sand Gate lay directly ahead. He edged out along a beam and counted four 
guards below. The Sand Gate Guard was furthest from him - he saw puffs of Sand 
drawn to the figure at regular intervals - and he judged it prudent to tackle 
that enemy first. Four were enough to deal with without reinforcements making 
life difficult.

He jumped to another beam close behind the Sand Gate Guard. Though dagger 
plates against a far wall might bring him closer, the situation was not 
advantageous. One guard seemed to cover another so that whatever chance he 
took he was as likely to alert one or more. He faced to the Sand Gate Guard, 
dropped behind it and finished it fast.

Now the others were alerted but he had confidence in his ability. The Prince 
moved swiftly, drawing the clumsy brutes around the marketplace, skirting 
scattered pots and baskets then lunging forward, slashing them as they fumbled 
about. He used walls to rebound, knocking one and another to the floor, and 
used Eye of The Storm to limit their attack should any catch him in the force 
of its blade. With patience and persistence he vanquished the heathen horde.

"It's a good thing you have plenty of time," the voice grumbled.

             ----------------------------------------------

                            YOU HAVE GAINED
                     1 5 0  S A N D  C R E D I T S

             ----------------------------------------------

He saw a stack of wicker crates to one side. As he pulled away one at the base 
the others fell, allowing Farah to skip nimbly past overhead. As the 
precarious stack toppled, she jumped and flew through the air, barely grasping 
to a high wooden platform. With gymnastic agility she pulled herself up and 
looked about.

"I can see the palace from here. Make your way to me."

His hands still on the wicker crate, the Prince noticed he could use it to 
reach up to a dagger switch underneath where Farah landed. This opened a gate 
at the other end of the enclosed area. He hurried through.

Inside a bare passage he found a ladder. The passage at the top ended abruptly 
in a deep drop, but he crossed with the help of sprung shutters.

The Prince landed heavily, and rolled to his feet. Farah joined him from a 
doorway nearby. The Prince looked about and spoke solemnly. "At last we have 
returned."

Before she could comment, Farah drew her bow and turned as a terrified female 
voice echoed from somewhere nearby: "Please! Do not make me go back down 
there, I--I do not want to become like the others."

"Did you hear that?" Farah said urgently.

"If you know what is good for you," the voice warned, "say no."

"Farah, we must press on. I am sure she will be all right."

"Are you mad? She was begging for her life. She said there were others."

"No, we can afford no more delays." He walked away, a hand glowing with Sand 
pressed to his weary head.

"Good," the voice agreed. "Put her in her place."

"These are your people," Farah insisted. "You are their prince, and yet you 
would leave them to suffer?"

The Prince turned on her. "That man has taken everything from me, and now that 
I have the opportunity to punish him you want to delay me? Have you forgotten 
what he did to you?"

"But, I-"

"You are burdened by a guilty conscience, Farah. He made you watch as your 
people suffered, unable to aid them. You were not to blame. Do not let it 
cloud your judgment."

"It is not I who suffers from clouded judgment." Farah hurried off along a 
passage. "You may choose not to help them, but you cannot stop me."

"I go to kill the Vizier," he shouted. "To end this, while you run about 
applying bandages to axe wounds."

She was gone. The Prince trudged away up stone steps.

"Good riddance!" the voice uttered. "She has been nothing but a distraction, 
always getting into trouble and slowing us down. Finally we can-" It broke 
off, aware of the Prince's pointed silence as came to a halt. "What?"

"Something could happen to her." The troubled Prince turned to look back. "I 
cannot lose her again."

Though the great Tower of Babylon loomed near, the Prince made a decision. He 
ran back to help Farah.

"No, no, no!" the voice hissed in frustration. "We are so close."

-- THE BOWERY -----------------------------------------------------------------

"Farah?" There was no sign of the Princess. "Where have you gone off to?"

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
'So she had reached the Prince. He feared for her safety. Even if it was just 
one person, at least now he thought of someone other than himself.'
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Somehow she had made it outside, beyond a sheer edge to the narrow streets 
below. An Archer paced back and forth on a walkway ahead. The Prince ran out 
across a wall and jumped away to a ledge. Without a sound he grabbed up to a 
niche and edged sideways beneath the sentry. He waited until its back was 
turned, then sprang up and slit its throat.

He pressed on over wooden struts and ledges to a balcony, where he saw Farah 
in a courtyard below run off through tall gates that closed shut behind her. 
He wanted to call down, to explain his change of heart, but she was gone. At 
that moment of remorse he was gripped by a paroxysm, and though he wrestled 
against it, arm gripped in agony, he was caught up in the bodily 
transformation, and soon rose to his feet, once again in the unearthly form of 
the Dark Prince.

"I cannot let Farah see me like this," he groaned.

"Worried she will prefer the new you?"

"Charred skin, glowing eyes, melted face," he uttered ruefully, "I am sure it 
will be love at first sight."

The Dark Prince hung over a balcony rail and used his chain to swing across a 
gap to a ledge on a building. It collapsed under his weight, dropping him to a 
lower ledge, from which he hopped to the ground.

Instantly slender Illusions emerged where he landed. The doors where Farah 
disappeared would not open, and as the Dark Prince searched for another exit 
the gliding enemies hurled small daggers, sending him reeling. He had need to 
reply, but should he try to strike back each swept away like an ethereal 
shadow. This trick proved a thing of consternation to him as he dashed about 
trying to lash with his flail, but he might as well try to punish the air. Yet 
he had the power to slow Time, and with the Eye of The Storm brought to 
operation he closed fast, and as he caught one in the sting of his whipped 
Daggertail it collapsed in an instant. At a moment of peace he ran for a far 
ledge before they came again.

"Better luck this time," the voice said as he left the curious ambush below.

He caught up to a higher ledge from which he gained enough height to jump out 
and swing with his flail to a beam, off which he jumped to a balcony. He 
entered an adjacent building.

"Is this necessary?" the voice wondered.

"Yes."

"You are sure?"

"Yes," he returned, more insistently.

In a gloomy carpeted chamber the Dark Prince ran up on a wall switch.

"Fine," the voice grumbled. "Waste your valuable time rescuing the Princess, I 
can only imagine what the Vizier is doing right now. Probably expanding his 
army, torturing innocent citizens, deciding what kingdom to conquer next! What 
he should be doing is dying."

The Dark Prince slowed Time that he might make it under the fast closing door 
that the wall switch opened up. Even so, he barely made it. This was a 
forbidden place.

"I have not forgotten my mission," he declared.

"Could have fooled me."

He came through a thick-carpeted corridor to overlook a richly decorated room, 
bathed in warm light. He dropped swiftly down a red banner and landed to a 
reception of dancing demons in female form. These whirled about, moaning 
seductively, twirling flashing blades over their heads. He was at first 
enchanted, their hypnotic swaying rhythm dulling his warrior's edge. This 
momentary lapse proved costly, for they were as deadly as any other Sand 
Creature. One and another came suddenly flying at him, to slash with their 
vicious weapons or knock him off his feet. He shook himself together and laid 
into the Enchantress demons. Each dissipated with a shrill shriek as his flail 
cut through.

There was not yet any peace, for a trio of ghostly Illusions materialized to 
glide about the room and assault him. He had not long earlier discovered that 
there was a particular combination of blows that dealt most swiftly with 
these, and he set to with relish.

When the room was silenced he searched about for an exit. Dim light slotted 
through trellis screens at each end of the room and from hanging lanterns all 
around. Amid sumptuous decoration of rich carpets and tapestries lay discreet 
shadowy alcoves lined with soft scattered cushions. The purpose of this part 
of the building could be easily guessed. The ghastly female creatures that 
attacked here were no doubt the last unearthly form of its denizens. Ornate 
filigree bars of a locked gate prohibited entry at the foot of carpeted 
stairs. None but invited guests could enter here, and unfortunately there 
seemed no way for the Dark Prince to leave. An ornamental mirror to one side 
of the room reflected only darkness.

A thick square pillar dominated the room, clad with erotic decorative friezes. 
Ornamental columns surrounded it, that propped higher balconies, and he 
thought it best to find some means of access to them. He scaled one slender 
column, and jumped off to the thick central pillar. He mounted a ledge and 
from it used stealth to kill an Archer standing unaware on the nearest 
balcony. After a wall run to another he met more seductively whirling 
Enchantresses, practice enough for his telling combination. Such Sand as they 
released sustained him for precious seconds to press on.

An Archer waited on another wall run, as easily silenced. He carried on into a 
small anteroom, this perhaps for favored guests, a screened alcove at one end.

"I really expected quite a bit more from you," the voice now continued. "On 
the Island of Time you were so focused, so dedicated."

"So selfish."

"Nonsense. You were simply trying to protect what was yours. Where is the harm 
in that?"

"Look around. All of this destruction is my doing."

The room had no exit but a nimble chimney ascent between walls in the far 
corner 
brought him to a higher floor.

Through an arched doorway he came on a balcony open at one edge. He glanced 
out across the room and saw an Archer, ready with its bow. He judged the gap 
too far to cross, and his eyes fell on a capstan behind him on the balcony. 
Despite arrows shafting across the gap to impede him, the Prince turned the 
capstan, which lowered a rod of lanterns from the ceiling.

He ran quickly along the wall to spring back and use his flail to swing off 
the lantern rod, and land safely out of arrow shot in a carpeted passage 
between. He hurried under a billowing gauze drape to join close battle with 
the impudent Archer.

The demon had been set to guard an open door, which slid down behind as the 
Dark Prince hurried under. A screen wall was open at one side of the short 
empty chamber beyond, and he hopped through. Sounds of women sobbing never 
left his ears.

He landed in a pool of shallow water, at first touch of which his body began 
its excoriating transformation back into its accustomed form.

He looked around. Steam rose from the shallow water of the baths. Light 
shafted through trellis screens onto patterned tiles. The luxurious purpose of 
this part of the building was finally confirmed.

"Traipsing through a brothel while your city falls apart," the voice chided. 
"That's not what I would call heroic."

"I am here for Farah."

"You're not here for her, you're here for you. She made you feel guilty and 
you hope to prove her wrong. Your reasons for being here are hardly selfless."

"You do not know my motives, and you do not know me!"

"I am you. And the sooner you realize it, the better."

The Prince waded to an open screen on the opposite side of the bath. A partly 
ruined corridor was alive with the sound of steel blade traps that whistled 
and spun along the floor. Uninvited guests were not welcome here.

He chose the proper moment and ran between rolling blades. A serried rank spun 
fast along grooved slots in the floor just beyond. Twin sets of blades rushed 
forward and back, daring him to try to run between. This presented a difficult 
obstacle. Even an athlete such as he would find it too demanding a test to run 
through safely, yet with the Eye of The Storm at his command the Prince was 
able to judge the moment exactly, dashing forward as one phalanx retreated, 
then switching aside as they spun rapidly towards him again. Not for the first 
time he considered that he and he alone, armed as he was with the Dagger of 
Time, could pass along his chosen route. At the corridor end, a pile of 
collapsed rubble revealed a dagger plate, which he used to reach ledges above. 
He paused before hauling to daylight at the top. Sentries prowled.

The Prince used his stealthy attack to come up behind an Archer. He grasped 
its throat and bent it to its knees, then struck with his Dagger at just the 
right moment. So swift and silent was the attack that a second Archer stood 
unawares just a few feet away, until he was delivered of the same.

The Prince came to a low wall where a familiar figure waited above.

"Farah!"

"What do you want?"

She was still displeased at his initial refusal to help. He hopped up to join 
her.

"I have thought about what you said," he spoke gently, "and you are right. I-"

At that moment a blade whistled past his shoulder, cutting his words and 
almost his head. A curious masked figure in female form looked down from a 
balcony above. She wore parti-colored hose and a tight short gown; such gay 
apparel might suit a carnival parade but this creature bore a more menacing 
air. She had just demonstrated malignant intent.

Farah challenged her. "Can't you see we are in the middle of a conversation? 
If you really do desire death, kindly wait your turn."

The strange creature scampered away. The Prince turned to Farah.

"I have killed most of the guards, it should be safe. Go and find the women; 
free them." The Prince had a score to settle with the woman who had threatened 
Kaileena and attacked him with her flail. "I will deal with her."

He needed a secondary blade, and dropped back down where he had noticed a 
weapon rack. Fully prepared, he clambered up again and ran forward to a higher 
wooden platform.

"Wonderful work," the voice sighed. "You return to save Farah and then send 
her back in the thick of it while you run after this one. My hero."

"You know as well as I do that the brothel is no longer dangerous, but if I do 
not kill that Sand Monster she will pose a threat to Farah."

-- THE BROTHEL ----------------------------------------------------------------

The Prince made haste after the masked apparition. He hopped down wooden 
stages to a platform set in one corner high above a courtyard. From a similar 
platform diagonally opposite, the demonic woman sprang to confront him. As the 
Sands had transformed her companion to the ghastly Klompa, they had similarly 
magnified the worst traits in this ally of the Vizier. Possessed by cunning 
and acrobatic agility, the eyes of Mahasti glowed yellow through her mask. She 
brandished a cruel blade in each velvet-gloved hand. As the Dark Prince stood 
in awe she unceremoniously laid into her implacable enemy.

Sand Monster or not, this creature was expert with swords. Twin twisted blades 
flashed cruelly as the Prince threw up his weapon to block. He found very 
quickly that force would not be enough, he must use speed and agility to 
counter her lightning attack. Blows came in rapid volleys, she turning 
balletically to deliver thrusts behind and from above. The sly mistress 
cackled with glee as each blow struck home. The Prince blocked manfully and 
probed for weakness.

He found he could vault clean over her head and strike down, and this seemed 
to do great damage till she sidestepped his landing. At once she lashed out 
with her foot, and caught him a bone-crunching blow that threatened to send 
him skating over the platform edge. He recovered and moved cautiously out of 
range, allowing her to expend energy on her extravagant assault before leaping 
to attack as she paused to recover.

When he dealt enough damage they locked blades and began a struggle for 
supremacy. He summoned every ounce of strength to throw her back, and they 
resumed their deadly cabaret.

Now she seemed more circumspect, and dodged his retaliation. He used the close 
walls to launch at her, yet this seemed to have little impact. His aerial 
assault delivered a satisfactory return, and he had only to ensure that he 
avoided her kick and sudden slashes to begin to wear her down. They closed on 
one another and crossed swords again.

Blades struck sparks of steel. The Prince gasped with ferocious effort. Every 
sinew strained against exhaustion. He threw the demoness back, at which moment 
he felt the unwelcome surge through his body that signaled the Dark Prince's 
return.

"No!" he moaned in agony. "Not now."

Mahasti took advantage of his torment and kicked him hard against a wall. The 
Prince sank to his knees, wracked with the dark force sweeping through his 
body. Black clouds boiled around him, and though he wrestled to overcome it, 
the force surged to complete its ghastly transformation. He arose in his 
strange unearthly form, hair flowing upward like smoke and cinders, blackened 
body laced with fiery tattoos, his eyes glowing yellow, arms and back pocked 
with black scaly horns. He cracked his neck and stood as the Dark Prince once 
again.

Startled by this, or perhaps aware that here was a very different proposition, 
Mahasti leaped away for a far platform to take stock of her new opponent.

"You should consider, I don't know..." the voice ventured, "following her?"

A prompt to action came in the form of a dagger cast at him by the now distant 
demoness. "Over here, Prince."

She would not be tempted to close combat where now he might have some 
advantage with the power of his lashing Daggertail. He could not stay long in 
this place where there did not seem to be any source to replenish his ever-
dwindling stock of Sand.

"Were you planning on giving chase," the voice asked, "or do you want your 
enemy to escape?"

There was nothing else for it. If she would not come to face him where he 
stood them he would have to chase her down, and finish her quickly.

He ran along a wall to drop onto a flat roof platform in one corner. An 
Illusion appeared from nowhere in a glow of yellow Sand, and screeched as it 
flung daggers towards him. A few sweeps of the Daggertail pinned it to one 
corner, where the Dark Prince lashed it to oblivion. A residue of Sand swept 
to his body and replenished his store, at least temporarily. This would not 
last him long, so he turned again to his quarry.

Mahasti laughed cruelly from her refuge in an adjacent corner, and flung 
blades wildly in his direction. He hopped to a plank beam midway between them, 
and jumped to grasp the edge of her platform.

As he raised himself ready to do battle the maddening creature sprang away, to 
land diagonally across the wide courtyard to the platform where he began. "You 
can't catch me," she said. "I admire you for trying."

"She mocks you Prince," the voice confirmed. "Go to her, punish her!"

He ran out on another wall now, and dropped to another flat roof platform. As 
before, an Illusion rose to impede him, and was as easily repulsed. More Sand 
to his benefit. The Dark Prince edged out on a beam, blades sweeping by, and 
jumped to meet the artful demoness again.

He slashed but she sprang away in an instant, and landed on a far platform as 
before, mocking him with laughter. "Too slow, I'm afraid."

"She's too fast for you," the voice pointed out. "Find a way to even the 
odds."

The Dark Prince could move no faster, though he could find no other course of 
action than to try to chase her down again.

"Concentrate," the voice said. "I am sure there is a way for you to slow her."

As another Illusion appeared on the platform below, the Dark Prince realized 
he might use its Sand not only to prolong his ebbing life but also to charge 
his ability to slow Time. "The Dagger!" the voice agreed. "Unleash the 
Dagger's power."

This time as the Dark Prince hung from the edge of Mahasti's refuge, he 
triggered the Eye of The Storm to slow Time before pulling up. He closed fast, 
and as she made to leap away again, he quickly used his Daggertail to block 
her escape. Now he lashed her with furious combination sweeps of the chain, 
connecting in satisfying stinging blows, each eliciting bright flashes of 
light from her body. In pain and anger the desperate creature leaped away to a 
far corner again.

The Dark Prince was now confident in the wisdom of his method. Let the 
demoness suffer under the lash of her own device! Again and again he circled 
the arena walls, collecting such stock of Sand as the hapless Illusions were 
forced to give up, and delivering vengeance on the fleeing Mahasti at every 
corner opportunity. Soon enough she was trapped, and at last turned on him 
directly.

Their weapons clanged and screeched as each fought for the upper hand. Using 
all his strength the Dark Prince forced the lurid creature away.

"You waste your time," Mahasti hissed. "The Vizier has already begun to 
transform the women I have imprisoned. You buy yourself hours at best."

The Dark Prince slashed hard against her body, sending the cruel demoness 
plunging from the platform. Her scream echoed to silence.

"If I had some Sands for every time someone has said that to me..." the Dark 
Prince remarked ruefully. From the lifeless body below a burst of energy 
surged through his mutated form. "Oh, I do."

Farah reappeared on a platform close by.

"The women are free, and headed for safety. It was right of you to return-" 
She gasped as she saw the apparition. Its form was incredible but 
unmistakable. "Prince! You ... you are one of them?"

"No! Farah, this is not how it appears."

"You are a Sand Monster! You lied to me, all this time." She raised her bow 
against him.

"No. I have been tainted by the Sands, this is true. But my mind and my heart 
are my own. Please believe me."

"Just stay away from me."

She could not bear to look at him. Farah fired an arrow in his direction, then 
hurried from his sight.

-- THE PLAZA ------------------------------------------------------------------

The Dark Prince stood alone. He made his way across to the platform where 
Farah appeared and ran inside to track her down and explain, or try to.

Along the short passage ahead was a long red curtain hanging into a drop. 

"Well?" The voice showed little sympathy. "You did lie to her."

"No," protested the Prince, "I simply-"

"Yes?"

"But she would not understand." He sighed. "What was I thinking?"

His heart was heavy as he slid to ground and ran on along a deserted passage. 
He wearily scaled ledges, using his flail or sprung shutters to cross 
bottomless pits as he made his way after the wayward Princess.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
'Poor Prince. His secret self had been revealed, and Farah quite disturbed by 
what she had seen. Perhaps he should have been honest from the beginning. Too 
late he realized his mistake in staying silent.'
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Dark Prince gathered Sand where he could and ran over a wall, using his 
flail off a fixed lantern to bridge a last gap, impassible for any normal man. 
He moved cautiously toward a sunlit courtyard.

Instantly four thuggish Thrall creatures with bodies of colorless Sand rushed 
to block him. He lashed out with his flail, taking to himself their life force 
as each fell. No sooner had he vanquished the sentries than mutant troll 
Reptus emerged from dark corners. He saw them off in the same manner.

The courtyard was enclosed with no obvious exit beyond that where he arrived. 
He thought he might find progress above. In a far corner, he executed an 
upward wall run to swing backwards and use his flail off a hanging lantern to 
reach a high beam. From a balcony off that he ran out on another wall, and 
used the flail again to reach springboards, which ejected him to a broken 
pillar top. He soon shuffled round its edge to reach a platform above where he 
started. Remembering as always to replenish his stock of Sand from any likely 
source, he climbed through a low open window.

The distant cries of imperiled citizens had never left him, and he hurried 
inside to do what he could to help save them. He passed around the corners of 
a chamber with ledges and his flail to a chain suspended to the floor below. 
He slid silently down to garrote an unwary Guard, then dropped to a polished 
marble floor. His feet made no sound as he crept up behind a second Guard that 
paced the room, unaware of the threat bearing down. The Dark Prince dashed up 
and pulled the feet from under the monster. As it fell flat on its face he 
jumped onto its back and broke its neck in a crunch of gristle.

The doors from the lavish reception chamber were shut, but he noticed at one 
place a wall tile switch. No sooner had he activated it than a pair of vile 
green trolls were released from dark holes, and emerged to assault him. He 
dealt with them quickly, grateful to restore his constantly dwindling Sands. 
He reopened the door with the wall switch again, and hurried down a corridor 
beyond.

This time it was the Dark Prince who appeared unwary. As he ran along the 
ruined corridor, he blundered into a guard waiting at a turn. After but a 
short struggle, he rolled under a broken section of a rough wooden gate to 
continue along the corridor. He spotted a fleeing figure at the passage end.

"Farah! Wait!"

He was temporarily obstructed by oddments strewn in the corridor, and by the 
time he had cleared his way she was gone. At a corner he found a shut door. He 
hopped a low wall to a room with a shallow pool for one half. There was no 
sign of his erstwhile companion.

As he splashed into the water his body began its agonizing retransformation to 
its accustomed form.

"The corruption is getting worse," the Prince groaned, "and there seems to be 
no way to slow it! I must hurry."

-- THE UPPER CITY -------------------------------------------------------------

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
'The Prince cleansed himself in the waters of the fountain. Though returned to 
a normal body, the same could not be said for his mind.'
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The poolroom showed no means of exit at ground level, though he could see 
wooden walkways high above. Dripping wet, he crossed the raised half of the 
room to where a wooden device stood against the far wall. It would not move, 
though it seemed that it should, most likely along a grilled trough beside. 
The base was held firmly by a raised metal plate. Still the device might prove 
useful at its present position. The Prince clambered up to the flat top that 
bore a wooden T-bar, and noticed scratch marks along a wall leading away. This 
gave him inspiration to use the height for a wall run to one corner, where he 
leaped backwards to a wooden platform rail. A capstan was set on a stone 
balcony.

He might have hoped that its operation opened a closed door just beside, yet 
there were other possibilities as he saw the metal plate on the floor below 
retract to free up the wooden device. He saw too that shutters became closed 
in the wall opposite. He guessed where the wooden device might belong, and 
jumped down to see.

With but little effort he hauled the device along the trough to its end. 
Climbing up, he could see that from its T-bar beam he might jump to a chute at 
this higher level, yet the wooden shutters now proved an obstacle. He turned 
about on the beam and jumped to the stone balcony behind in order to use the 
capstan handle again to reopen them. He was now perfectly able to jump from 
the beam to lodge himself in the narrow chute. He scrambled up and turned 
about, facing a suspended beam that might have been placed with no purpose 
other than to allow him to spring forward off it to a second chute on the far 
side of the room. He might have used it to reach higher beams and surprise two 
Guards waiting on the highest platform there, but he was unlucky in that they 
became alerted to his presence. Had he shown a little caution and turned about 
to watch, he would have stayed out of sight as they came near. Still they were 
unable to resist his agility as he flung first one then the other to the floor 
below.

"In case you have forgotten," the voice chided, "Zervan has conquered your 
kingdom, and you are fighting to get it back. Or at least you were."

He could hardly expect praise in his enforced diversion, but the Prince 
pressed ahead. A capstan stood on this highest platform, and as before, where 
he might have hoped for it simply to open the door close beside, operation of 
its lever opened a door somewhere below. As he ran over to see, the Prince 
noticed a Guard standing in the now open doorway, no doubt wondering just how 
it had opened. The Prince drew his blade and ducked down, but the demon soon 
lost interest and trudged away. The fugitive used the moment to jump forwards 
and drop through the door, where he sneaked up behind. He felt no shame in 
these tactics of stealth; his was a higher purpose and he would surely 
demonstrate his warrior abilities when the time came.

Through an arch was a stone platform, its flagstones loose on wooden rafters. 
On the walls ahead were a series of sprung wooden shutters, and as so many 
times before the Prince shot forward on each to land on a far balcony.

He had caught up with Farah again. The lone figure ran on in a courtyard 
below. The Prince called out to her. "Do you see now? The change was physical, 
nothing more."

She folded her arms and looked up with undisguised contempt. "Why should I 
believe you?" Her voice nearly broke from the pain of his betrayal. She 
accused him with a sharp gesture. "Everything you have done contradicts this. 
I have seen the way you hunger for combat. You take pleasure in creating 
death, your constant talk of bloody vengeance, your cold disregard for your 
own people. You heard the women in the brothel as clearly as I did, yet you 
turned away."

"But I came back! I came back ... for you."

"You are a prince in title only. Go and reclaim your throne. But know this," 
she hardened, "you do so alone."

The Princess ran off through a gate in the courtyard below. The Prince hung 
his head.

"You certainly have a way with women," the voice cheered. "Those you don't get 
killed can't get far enough away from you."

He had to follow her, to try to explain. A chain hung down to the courtyard, 
and he reached it via a wall run to a wooden jetty. As he landed to ground he 
was beset by green demons such as he faced in the sewers and elsewhere about, 
creeping from cracks low in the broken walls. He retreated to a sunlit spot 
and took them as they came.

Flames crackled in the building beyond and smoke hung in the air. Birds 
chirruped in knots of vegetation high above. The door through which Farah left 
was closed, but a wall switch nearby opened it, briefly.

A Sand Guard paced the quiet passage beyond. The Prince crept stealthily 
behind to finish it without noise. Who could say what other danger lay ahead?

As he guessed, two more thuggish Guards waited at a turn. He retraced his 
steps and found a window ledge from which he jumped to a small wooden platform 
above one corner. He worked across a sprung shutter to rafters overhead, then 
dropped between them and took on both in a single dazzling maneuver. He first 
cut one to the ground, then leaped to the other and stunned it with his blade. 
As the first recovered and drew out its sword he leaped back, held briefly 
then slashed. It was already dead by the time he jumped back to the second. 
Even so, he mistimed his stroke, and the monster recovered to turn swiftly and 
grab him by the throat. It flung the Prince down and he was forced to meet it 
directly. A few hard blows and it departed as the other.

Here in the passage was more devastation, painful to see, and he felt little 
remorse for dispatch of the creatures that though responsible seemed entirely 
unconcerned. At the end of the passage a ladder stood raised to a balcony 
ledge, and with some effort in rebounding off a wall close behind he soon 
reached it. Now with a run up from a wall he sprang to a wooden rafter 
overhead. Flames licked shattered timber and glowing embers drifted past. He 
clambered up through a broken gap in a wall.

"In my youth I would often lose myself in the back alleys of the upper city," 
he reminisced. "I spent hours running and tumbling, imagining myself all 
manner of creatures. The rooftops and passageways were secret windows onto 
other worlds. But now everything has changed, the color bled away and the 
sounds of life replaced by a heavy stillness. It has all gone dark and 
bitter."

From a courtyard below came the brilliant white beam from a Sand Gate, 
projecting to the open sky. The usual posse of Guards paced round it.

The Prince ran first to a beam, and on to a flat wooden roof. He took stock. 
There was a platform balcony just below, and a Guard in evidence on a wider 
balcony not far opposite. He edged out on a narrow ledge and dropped via 
others to the balcony below. From there he saw shutters ahead, and with his 
astonishing acrobatic ability came easily to a ledge above the unsuspecting 
Guard. A moment of stealth saw him catch it unawares. It would surely be more 
difficult to surprise the three Guards now in evidence around the Sand Gate 
close below.

He had confidence in his ability, but knew the consequence of rash action. He 
singled out the Sand Gate Guard and crept closest to it. Choosing his moment 
he fell onto the creature and wrestled it to the ground. If he could only 
delay it from rushing to open the gate he might stand a chance. He flung his 
spare weapon in the face of a second creature running to attack, and jumped to 
fling the third out of the way. Quickly he turned to the gate guardian and 
slashed hard, stunning it before beating it to the ground once again. As the 
others closed in he sprang overhead, cutting them down, and rebounded off 
walls to scatter them to the floor. The onslaught proved taxing; temporarily 
cornered, he was unable to finish the guardian. It stumbled to its feet while 
he was otherwise occupied, and bent over the Sand Gate. To the Prince's dismay 
fresh Guards appeared. He attacked the guardian viciously, finishing it and 
the next in a whirl of deadly steel. A fireball blazed in a corner, and he 
tossed one attacker to the flames. As more crowded round he flung another 
beside that, and soon built a pyre of Sand Monster corpses. He collected his 
energy, gasping for breath as he wiped his blade clean.

"I've seen cats do better," the scornful voice remarked. "Maybe Babylon is 
better off in Zervan's hands. Oh - did I hurt your feelings?"

             ----------------------------------------------

                            YOU HAVE GAINED
                     T H E  W I N D S  O F  S A N D

             ----------------------------------------------

The effort was worth it. The Dagger acquired powers new: should he find 
himself hemmed in again he might knock all enemies down simultaneously with 
devastating Winds of Sand.

He activated a wall switch and left by a nearby gate. A flight of steps led up 
a twisting corridor, where he was soon faced by a trellised door, too solid to 
break. A circle of light struck down from an open skylight. The Prince looked 
up to see that the wall the door was set in was not high, though a little too 
far for him to reach over. Perhaps among the bric-a-brac there might be 
something that he could use to climb up on? In a low alcove, partly concealed 
by oddments, the Prince found the very thing, a wicker crate such as had 
served him more than once before. With but a little effort he was soon over 
the door.

Light vegetation grew at the open passage end, and birds twittered amid the 
sound of running water. The voice spoke with something like impatience.

"The Palace is close. Let us at last be on our way?"

The Prince hauled himself atop a stone block, where he found a dagger plate, 
and another on an opposite wall that let him reach up to a broken niche, from 
the side of which he climbed to a chamber holding a water basin.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
'The Prince was finally forced to accept the fact that Farah was lost to him, 
and that he alone was responsible for this. Had he not hidden the truth from 
her, had he shown more compassion, then perhaps things may have gone another 
way. But now it was simply too late. In spite of this - or perhaps because of 
it - the Prince found himself profoundly affected by Farah's earlier words and 
deeds. They had wrought a change in him, slowly supplanting the dark demands 
of his ruthless alter-ego.'
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

-- THE CITY GARDENS -----------------------------------------------------------

From an open balcony the Prince looked down on a terrace garden. Water poured 
from ornamental ducts at one side to a rapid stream that ran from under a 
gate. The Prince jumped out on a pole and used dagger plates and ledges to 
work his way over. He looked out to distant rooftops. A pall of smoke hung 
over his city. Via more dagger plates set in fantails over the water spouts he 
swung to a small platform ledge, where birds scattered as he fell. Above his 
head a Guard came to investigate. Seeing nothing he turned away, and the 
Prince crept up to service the inattention.

He was on a covered balcony above enclosed gardens, where came the sound of 
sentries pacing below. He pressed on across a pole to another leafy balcony.

"You've been so quiet," his alter ego spoke up. "What's on your mind?"

"Perhaps she is right."

"Where is the Prince I used to know? You are a hardened warrior, stop being 
so... sentimental."

"Were it something I could push away or ignore, I would."

"You must try. What lies ahead will be the greatest test you have yet faced."

The Prince dropped off a narrow ledge and aligned himself carefully for a leap 
to a ledge around a thick column. One side advanced no progress but from the 
other he faced to a slender palm. Four sentries paced the greenery below. He 
carefully jumped for another palm, and one beyond that, to the far side of the 
garden space. He slid expertly down its trunk enough to spring to a ledge 
along the far wall. He watched and waited and crept sideways to take one by 
surprise. He moved stealthily to the next, but then others came running and 
threatened to overwhelm him. At this he decided to test the new powers of his 
Dagger. Gaining a little space for himself he summoned the Winds of Sand, and 
though it took a moment to charge, and near drained his Sand Tanks, the effect 
was devastating. All enemies were blasted aside, and with a few astonishing 
twirls about a slender trunk he finished them before they recovered.

"What was THAT," scoffed the voice, unimpressed despite such artistry.

The Prince saved his best move for the last survivor, sweeping behind to cut 
it in two, but even this drew no plaudit. "I've seen better."

There was not much to find in the small enclosed garden, thick with cactus 
and succulent plants. On a square pillar side he found a dagger switch, that 
the Sand Monsters had evidently been set to protect. It activated stone rings 
in the thick column he had traversed by ledges, and in their rotation twin 
jetties faced out. Here now was the means of progress to gardens beyond.

Back up the palm trees he soon shimmied around the column again, to drop onto 
the first outward jetty. From the second he worked around an identical column 
to stand high over another enclosed garden.

"Tell me then," prompted the Prince. "What do you believe it is to be a 
warrior?"

"It is to hunger for combat, to seek solution with the sword. Do you 
disagree?"

"Had you asked me when we first met I would have said the same. Now, I am not 
so sure."

"Think on it, then," the voice advised.

With his thoughts in this way occupied the Prince sprang out to a ledge, from 
which he dropped to a dagger plate. The fall to the ground would have been too 
far without it. The clink of armor and heavy footsteps alerted him to the 
presence of enemies nearby. He made his way across jetties to a ledge over a 
shallow pool, and climbed higher on poles off ivy-covered walls to a high wall 
top.

He looked down on another garden, a Sand Gate set into its center. Here paced 
the guards he had heard. As the Prince jumped out to a slender trunk the 
nearest was directly below at his mercy, yet the Prince had learned the 
necessity of dealing with the gate guardian first. He jumped to a masonry edge 
and used dagger plates to work close to a beam in the corner where the 
guardian stood. In a second he dropped down and took it with a few slashes. 
The others rushed to assist, too late to save their commander. The Prince 
threw a weapon in the face of the first, rocking it back with a grunt of pain, 
then vaulted over to toss it off the high garden edge to the waters below. He 
dealt with the last directly, and was sickened to see that it spewed forth 
green bile in place of blood, such was the effect of the Sands in this place. 
With peace gained at last he turned to close off the Sand Gate.

             ----------------------------------------------

                            YOU HAVE GAINED
                      A  N E W  S A N D  T A N K

             ----------------------------------------------

To one side stood a square column bearing another dagger switch. This rotated 
other jetties in columns, and raised a metal platform that should allow him to 
reach them. He scaled the tall palm tree to return over the wall top, where he 
soon hopped over to the column ledges ahead. He continued his discourse with 
his darker half.

"I think a true warrior fights for something other than himself."

"And what of the man that battles to better his own station, to improve his 
lot in life? Often, it is the only way to achieve greatness."

"But what you describe is not a man, it is a monster."

"I see."

The Prince lost patience, and snapped: "We will have to continue this 
discussion later."

In the section of garden below waited fresh enemies. The Prince worked his way 
to ledges close overhead, and chose his moment to drop between the pair 
standing unaware, finishing both with a couple of strokes.

Down below a circular courtyard lent the air of an arena. A colonnade ran 
around one side and waters spilled down its edge. A wall run carried him out 
to a pole, from which he swung to a ledge around the wall ahead. A pair of 
Guards were in evidence on the colonnade now directly below. He dropped 
between them to execute his twin stealth attack, and with the space to himself 
hopped down to the arena floor.

He stepped out cautiously, warrior's instinct warning him this place was not 
as tranquil as might first appear.

Sure enough, from its hiding place in a corner a towering beast rose up, 
blasting aside thick blocks of masonry as if made of wood. It roared mightily 
and stood over the shocked Prince.

Its unearthly form seemed partly composed of vegetation: thick knotted green 
sinews twisted around its body. Yet it might have been fashioned from stone 
for the impression the Prince's blade made as it attacked. Though he slashed 
with all his might he could not injure it, and faced death from its crashing 
feet and thick meaty fists that pounded down to flatten him where he stood.

"If you are to have any chance of defeating this beast," the voice urged, 
"engage it from behind!"

He saw the logic in that. He dived between its legs and slashed at its 
haunches. Enraged, the creature stomped about and tried to crush the attacker 
at its back. He fought to subdue it, rolling aside to assail it again, and 
finally managed to bring it to its knees.

Taking his chance, the Prince mounted one gigantic leg, and scrambled up the 
creature's back. He plunged his Dagger into the neck. The beast roared and 
drew its arms up to knock him off. Though the blow was not enough to finish 
the mighty creature, he now had control over it, and as it reeled about in 
fury he fought to stay on top.

The beast crashed through a solid wooden door, and another through a 
courtyard, where it lumbered down a narrow passage beyond. Guided by the 
course of a stream, the Prince steered it desperately between the high walls 
lest it crash to the ground and crush him beneath. He fought to rein it in 
like a runaway horse, maddened by the sting of the weapon at its neck. Left 
and right and right again it careered down the watery passage, screeching and 
roaring in fury, its mighty feet thudding faster and faster. They scraped 
walls and rolled about, but the Prince made steady tugs on the Dagger to force 
the beast to its course. All at once they faced a solid gate at the passage 
end. Without break in its stride it crashed through, sending the Prince 
tumbling to the ground. The beast thundered on and collapsed into the stream, 
where its mutated body crumbled amid the debris that pounded around. In a few 
moments it was gone.

The exhausted Prince dragged himself to his feet. He was in a river gully, 
open to the sky, studded with holes where water poured from the thick city 
walls. A ladder stood at one side.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Life Upgrade #4 [twin figurine]
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

-- THE CANAL ------------------------------------------------------------------

He took grateful sustenance at a fountain. A low grating lay open at one 
corner. His path lay upward along a mossy passage, where a chimney ascent 
brought him along a passage to a ledge and a ladder, that he descended to a 
lower ledge and a bar to another convenient fountain.

-- THE PROMENADE --------------------------------------------------------------

A squat Guard patrolled the passage end down a short flight of steps. The 
Prince ducked behind a plank scaffold as it paced towards him, then he climbed 
on top and jumped to a beam over its head, that he might drop and execute his 
stealth attack. Even so, it took fully five sweeps of his blade to subdue this 
more than usually demonic creation.

Though this passage had several doorways, each was firmly shut. A stream of 
water sprayed from a sluice to a shallow pool beneath. He hopped a low wall to 
splash through the water, but found no way forward. Birds twittered somewhere 
out of sight. His best chance for progress seemed to be somewhere above, where 
he saw shutters and ledges, but he had no means to reach them from the shallow 
pool. He climbed back out, and noticed scratch marks along the wall to one 
side. This set him to thinking, and as he had done more than once before, 
hauled a wicker crate to the edge by the low wall, and used its height to run 
out over the water. At his furthest reach he sprang back off the wall to an 
alcove, where he performed a chimney ascent to a grassy platform. A second 
golden guard patrolled above.

He found another solid wooden door. Facing it was a wall tile switch that 
temporarily dropped a shutter over the waterspout. Running over this, the 
Prince was able to spring off a shutter back to the corner of an opposite 
wall, where he landed on one of the ledges he had seen from below. A chimney 
ascent brought him to the roof of a small wooden structure built out from the 
wall. Each residence in this part of the city seemed to have one or more of 
these curious shuttered structures built to it, and though he could not be 
certain what purpose they might serve, with the ready supply of flushing water 
nearby, he might guess. From this convenient projection, he ran across higher 
shutter boards to spring to a far balcony. He hopped its stone rail and headed 
through a rounded arch doorway. The red blaze of a sunset appeared across the 
sky.

The Prince stepped out on a decoratively tiled covered terrace. Desperate 
voices drifted from below: "Help us! A fire, in the Workshop, somebody let us 
out - we're trapped inside!"

This was no sunset. Fires raged through the city below, and roared from the 
windows of a tall building nearby.

"What has happened?" the Prince wondered. "These people are clearly in 
danger."

It was the Royal Workshop that blazed closest, its occupants trapped inside. 
At this moment of stress his body was wracked with spasms, and he began to 
mutate to the Dark Prince again. He rose rigid above the ground, caught in the 
black helix, rent by flashes of fiery light. He fell to the ground to rise as 
his unholy other.

Still he would not be deflected, and ran to give what assistance he could, as 
shouts and screams echoed below. He dropped through a hole in a cylindrical 
chamber ahead, and slid down a chain in a shaft of daylight at its center.

"How convenient," chimed the voice. "A burning building filled with helpless 
citizens just begging for rescue."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, it sounds like a trap."

"Ridiculous."

"Is it? If I was an enraged Sand god intent on killing you, and you had 
already slain two of my best lieutenants, well, I would be inclined to try a 
less direct approach. One that exploits your new-found compassion."

"Trap or not, those people need me."

"No good will come of this," the voice warned grimly.

At the bottom of the chamber a solitary guard paced out through a doorway. 
This was a squat thuggish creature, stronger than the usual guards, but 
equally insensitive. The Dark Prince emerged to a covered terrace and crept up 
behind it, then vaulted over and put a boot to its throat, to throttle it with 
the flail. No sooner had the guard vanished to dust than two of the wolf-like 
Hunter Hounds skittered up over an open edge at one corner of the terrace and 
pattered to attack. He whirled the Daggertail about him and lacerated both to 
screeching agony of destruction.

A dagger switch on a wall to one side lowered metal shutters over windows, and 
with use of his flail off a lamp bracket between, the Dark Prince was now able 
to run out over a wall to a long red banner that hung in a corner. He slid 
down and sprang off its end, deploying his flail to swing under a bar to a 
terrace edge. As he grappled up, Sand Creatures gathered to attack.

In a tight space he was confronted by near-naked demons in seductive female 
form. He had seen their like in the brothel. Three perverted creations moved 
slowly towards him, whirling a blade in each hand as they hummed and moaned 
hypnotically. These were not of the gentle sex; in a moment they lunged and 
dealt vicious blows with a cry of triumph. At their midst bounded a Hunter 
Hound, and the Dark Prince lost no time in dispatching it, lest it suck from 
his body precious Sand. He would need every ounce under the constant attack of 
the Enchantresses.

He got amongst them, flashing his Daggertail to cut through the pack. Each 
proved quick to block, and struck out with athletic reflex. As he gathered his 
resources one or other performed gymnastic tumbles towards him, able to knock 
him off his feet with a lightning strike. An ordinary man would thus be 
quickly humbled, but the Dark Prince had an invaluable resource to even any 
odds: he used the power of the Dagger of Time. Caught in the stricture of 
slowed motion, these she-devils were no match for his powerful weapon, and 
groaned under each lash of the Daggertail barbs. Soon enough he had the 
terrace to himself.

This was a pretty verandah with delicate hanging greenery and cartouches on 
the walls. It overlooked a fountain and palm trees in a neat garden below. 
This must once have been a tranquil spot. Round about were a number of 
scattered pots, that when smashed gave up vital stocks of Sand, and with life 
at least temporarily sustained, he looked for some means of progress.

There seemed no way down off the verandah, but in a corner he recognized a 
dagger switch set into a wall, and quickly put it to operation.

Twin shutters dropped over windows on an adjacent wall. The Dark Prince was 
now able to run out from the terrace, and used his chain to swing forward to 
shutters, that fired him on around the corner of the building, to a flat 
rooftop square. He heard the swing of steel as a blade was drawn, and sure 
enough a Sand Guard waited here, but this solitary opponent was easily 
overcome. He crossed more shutters that shot him between the narrow walls of 
buildings shafted in evening light. He threw out his Daggertail to hook to a 
beam, and dropped to a small rooftop garden. Enemies rushed forward.

He had not time to waste in fruitless combat. First he used the Eye of the 
Storm to slow his attackers, then unleashed the Winds of Sand to blast all to 
the ground. The shock wave reverberated in the small space, smashing pots that 
easily gave up fresh stocks of Sand as he moved near. Twin Hunter Hounds 
writhed on the ground as he finished them with a stroke, and recovering Guards 
proved no match for his prowess even without the benefit of slowed Time. He 
had peace soon enough.

There was nothing to find on this balcony, but he made a wall run to another 
close by and found a dagger switch there. This raised up more window shutters, 
and he climbed on top to return to the empty balcony. He ran up off the wall 
in a corner to get onto the next shutter there, and ran out on the wall 
alongside, where he sprang away and cast out his flail, swinging joyously from 
bar to bar across a wall to land on a narrow stone platform top.

He dropped off the side to a niche, and shimmied around to face a stone block. 
He used the flail to bring it out from its wall, and jumped backwards to reach 
it. Now he ran aside to a short hanging ladder, and at its foot extracted 
another block from behind. From this he ran off along a wall and jumped away, 
where he landed in a gushing pool of water. On the first refreshing splash he 
instantly began the transformation to become the Prince again.

He stood for a while in the cool water, collecting his thoughts. Though the 
terrible form of the Dark Prince had been cast off once again, the voice still 
seemed to live in his pressured mind, and soon showed its frustration.

"Stopped to plan your next mistake? I'm getting sick of this, come on, move!"

The Prince pondered the increased urgency. He was doing his best. He hopped up 
out of the pool on a ledge at one side, and landed on a deserted balcony. A 
Sand Gate projected its beam from a courtyard below.

"I must hurry," the Prince said, "find a way inside."

"Have fun with that," returned the voice, curtly. "You can figure it out on 
your own for once, I will play no part in this."

             ----------------------------------------------

                            YOU HAVE GAINED
                     2 0 0  S A N D  C R E D I T S

             ----------------------------------------------

Through an open doorway in one corner stone blocks stopped up a passageway. He 
hopped over and found a well-built corridor. Light came through circular slits 
in the wooden ceiling. Ladders and builders' material lay alongside a conveyor 
of stout wooden rollers laid into the floor. A stone block stood outside a 
closed door, and the Prince guessed that the rollers might convey such blocks 
as that to the Workshop further along. He followed the rollers down the 
corridor.

A branch in the rollers led from another closed door, and here at a turn he 
faced hazards in the form of pounding blocks. These bore the appropriate 
decoration of bull-headed rams, and he knew from past experience that he would 
suffer greatly if caught in their path. Perhaps their function was to break up 
heavy blocks, and there appeared to be saw blades for cutting mounted in the 
wall either side just above. Casual passage would have been difficult if not 
impossible. The Prince slowed Time and clambered effortlessly on top to roll, 
run, jump, and tumble over each pounder even as it retracted.

Through a low open archway ahead the corridor opened to a small chamber. The 
rollers led to a shut door with a dagger switch alongside.

-- THE ROYAL WORKSHOP ---------------------------------------------------------

The Prince hurried into the burning workshop but skidded to a halt and looked 
back as the door crashed shut behind him.

"Poor Prince," came a guttural voice. "Locked inside a burning building and no 
way out." A hulking helmeted figure gazed down through a high window. It beat 
a fist: "Too bad for you!"

The figure disappeared with a grim laugh, leaving the Prince helpless.

"Well look at that," the voice remarked. "A trap. Do you see now what happens 
when you try to help other people? You die!"

"They locked us in here," a voice shouted. "We're going to burn!"

Desperate citizens appeared behind barred windows high in the walls.

"Help us," called a man, urgently. "Please help us."

Other voices cried: "Over here, over here!"

"Please," a woman begged, "find a way to get us out!"

The workshop was dominated by a massive sculpture in the likeness of his 
father, no doubt a tribute from his grateful subjects, just recently completed 
and evidently ready to leave the workshop on a conveyor of wooden rollers.

"Oh, Father," the Prince moaned, "give me guidance, lend me strength. Where 
have you gone?"

He hung his head in despair. His own words echoed: "Father, gone..."

The image struck him of the statue of his father gone from the workshop. 
"Wait, that's it!"

The Prince turned and shouted up to the desperate citizens trapped behind 
burning windows of a locked tower. "Where is the machinery that controls these 
conveyors? Quickly please, there is not much time!"

"Above us," a forlorn voice replied. "The stairs are burned though, you will 
never be able to reach it."

The Prince stood by massive wooden doors that led from the workshop. He looked 
to the statue at the far end. A very solid stone tray projecting in front gave 
him the idea. He considered the distance to bring the structure across the 
workshop to the door.

He ran down to examine the statue. It held in one hand an upright staff, and 
the other must still have been worked on; the tray was a framework 
construction built onto it. Still it looked very solid, and might prove ideal 
for the purpose he had in mind.

The Prince shinned up the staff and jumped for the stone tray. He looked down 
on the blazing workshop, where wooden platforms lined the walls, and saw how 
the stairs had already been burned out. From his vantage point he was easily 
able to jump across to the nearest platform, and around a pillar where a wall 
run and chimney ascent brought him to a ledge. He dropped and shimmied along, 
until he could jump for a beam projecting from one wall, and to a platform 
alongside. A capstan lever stood ready.

These must be the controls to operate the conveyor. By the markings on the 
floor under the capstan he judged that this should slide the statue forwards 
and back. He turned the capstan handle and, though the statue did not move, he 
noticed a dagger switch on the wall in an alcove change its direction 
indicator from forward to back. Since the statue was backed firmly against the 
far workshop wall, it could only come away, so he rotated the capstan handle 
again to return its direction to forward just as he found it. Then he set the 
dagger switch to operation.

To his satisfaction the gigantic statue began to trundle along the wooden 
rollers. As the cogs in the mechanical switch wound down, the conveyor 
stopped. The Prince reached up to activate the switch again, but found this 
time that the stone staff on the statue fouled against part of the structure 
of the room, and it would not come any further. He would have to work out how 
to bring it by stages past each obstruction.

The Prince studied the statue. He judged that he might bring it forward if he 
could somehow change its orientation. The workers must have planned for this. 
He noticed a brazier burning on top of a capstan on the opposite side of the 
workshop. It had to be a separate control for the conveyor. A ladder waited 
close by, with an elevated wooden walkway joining the two control platforms, 
and he hurried across.

He found a capstan and dagger switch nearly identical to the first. The symbol 
on the floor by the capstan showed a rotating cog, and the adjacent dagger 
switch a clockwise symbol showing which direction it would turn. One way 
seemed good as another to begin and he left the capstan at its present setting 
before he put the dagger switch to action. The enormous statue creaked and 
clanked on its mounting as it rotated fully one quarter-turn. A good start, 
but he judged that the statue might come forward more easily with its back 
faced into the room. He rotated it again using the dagger switch, until its 
stone tray pointed away from the door. Now he was sure the statue could come 
forwards again, and he hurried up the ladder to the other side. Smoke and 
flame billowed through the rafters.

As he pulled down on the dagger switch, the statue trundled past the first 
obstruction. He judged that he might bring it even further into the room, and 
used the switch again. This moved the statue right alongside. Now its stone 
staff was blocked by the overhead walkway, and the edifice needed to be turned 
about once again.

He used the stone tray as a convenient bridge to return to the other side. 
There was no time to waste; flames crackled everywhere about the workshop and 
he tried not to be distracted by screams of the desperate trapped citizens who 
now depended on him.

The stone tray would foul against this side of the workshop were it to move in 
a direction other than that in which it was already set, so the Prince needed 
only to pull down on the dagger switch for it to move safely about. It meant, 
though, that he could not turn it to face out since it now fouled on the far 
side. He had to rotate it another ninety degrees, but would need to move the 
structure back into wider space first. The solid construction of the statue 
with its thick blocks of stone impressed him as he ascended the ladder.

He turned the capstan lever to change the direction arrow back into the room, 
and then pulled the dagger switch down. With the statue backed away, he could 
see that it would now have room to rotate. He climbed the ladder once more to 
the rotating side. This was becoming tedious but he was confident of the 
soundness of his plan, even if the result was yet unclear. There seemed no 
alternative to this course.

He pulled down on the rotational switch. Now the statue faced forwards again, 
further into the room this time. He climbed the ladder to the other side and 
reset the capstan to forwards direction. He brought the statue further towards 
the door, yet the troublesome staff still aligned with the next obstruction 
ahead. It would not pass under the walkway without a little more ingenuity.

He scaled the ladder to use the second dagger switch yet again. He dropped off 
and turned to see his father's solemn face gazing upon him. He could only hope 
he was doing the right thing. With desperate cries and screams of the trapped 
citizens echoing still, he must try. He returned to the first dagger switch.

The weary Prince drew down the switch yet again. At last the statue passed out 
between the wooden platforms, the curvature of its staff now clearing any 
obstruction. Indeed, it might easily move all the way to the door, but in its 
present orientation would serve no purpose. The Prince neared the last stage 
of the plan. The statue needed to face outwards, with its stone tray projected 
towards the massive wooden door. To this end, the Prince hurried over the 
walkway yet again.

He observed that the statue rested hard against the walkway in one direction, 
and might easily foul. Though he had until now seen no need to alter its 
course of revolution, he first turned the capstan handle to set rotation anti-
clockwise, that it might turn towards the door, then pulled down the switch. 
In the open space at the end of the workshop the statue turned easily about. 
At last it faced the solid doors through which lay all hope of escape. With 
renewed energy the Prince hurried up the ladder to use the forwards dagger 
plate for what he hoped and expected to be the last time.

As he tugged down the switch the towering statue moved forwards. It crashed 
through the door, timbers clattering down the steps outside. The statue 
tumbled to the ground. Citizens spilled from the burning building, crawling 
and stumbling to safety as they joyfully embraced. The Prince helped one woman 
down the steps to the comfort of friends.

An old blind man stepped forward, bent over his staff. "Do you know your 
savior, friends? I tell you now and true: it is the Prince of Persia."

The crowd was awed. "The Prince of Persia? I can't believe it! He's come back 
to us!"

The Prince recognized the Old Man, and came to greet his trusted mentor. "It 
is good to see you safe."

At that moment a woman screamed, and the throng parted as a chariot was raced 
recklessly through the crowd. The Prince seized the Old Man and pulled him 
from its path. The Sand Creature that mocked his fall into the trap clattered 
away. The Prince leapt to an empty chariot and whipped its horses to the 
chase.

-- THE KING'S ROAD ------------------------------------------------------------

"I think you are tasking this hero business a little too far," the voice said. 
"You've already saved the citizens."

The Prince raced under an archway to narrow twisting streets. He steered left 
and right at full tilt. The horses shivered and whinnied as they crashed 
against a stall, sending debris flying. He struggled for control: impossible 
to rein in, he judged it best to give the powerful beasts their head and guide 
them firmly left and right ahead of time, leaving them to run full flight 
between alternate obstacles.

A guard jogged quickly from one side and jumped aboard to hinder him. A short 
slash from the Prince's blade beat him away. A second tried the same tactic 
but was cut down in similar style. The Prince stuck to his task of negotiating 
an even path between obstacles close either side. As still another enemy came 
aboard with a grunt he chopped savagely and sent it under the wheels. His 
quarry shot overhead across a covered wooden bridge.

Another thug came in front but was dragged underneath. The chariot jumped a 
gap then flew through the air beneath the fine rainbow spray of a waterfall to 
an underground cave passage. As he negotiated its rocky walls a chariot joined 
the chase from an adjacent path. The two machines jostled for the line along 
the winding path, the Prince trying his best to force the enemy against the 
rock walls while keeping his own horses to their course. A cloud of bats 
screeched overhead. The passage narrowed suddenly and the other chariot 
smashed against an outcrop. He was left to steer a course to one side of a 
divide, with a perilous drop close in front. His horses took the gap without 
break in their stride, though the chariot bucked and crashed against rock 
walls. With barely a moment to collect his breath, the Prince saw up ahead a 
slender bridge. More bats flew thick from the depths either side as he 
thundered towards it and guided the horses across to another divide. Safely 
through, he ran alongside the fleeing chariot, with its miscreant rider.

"You are one of us now, Prince," boomed the guttural voice of the Sand 
Monster. "How does it feel?"

Unable to close with the object of his pursuit, the Prince emerged between 
buildings again. He struggled as before to guide the powerful horses between 
walls, through narrow arches and across perilous gaps. More able now, he 
adopted a regular rhythm, first to the left and then to the right, making firm 
guiding gestures to keep the beasts galloping safely ahead of each turn. A 
heavy hand would see him crash to destruction.

As he reached a wider clearing, the Prince was rejoined by the chasing chariot 
bearing down at his right. "Hyah!" he cried, as he snapped the reins and urged 
his horses on as their wheels crashed together. His chariot was knocked to one 
side, the attacker escaping past a low planted divide along the road ahead.

The Prince's horses bolted through an arched alley, thundering towards a 
closed gate. It shattered as nothing, though the chariot was knocked about, 
and he careered on along a narrowing path between buildings beyond. This was 
the private King's Road that led to the palace. He dodged scaffold at either 
side, and smashed through another chasing chariot as it crashed across his 
path to a dead end wall.

The Prince grappled for control of the galloping beasts, forcing them left to 
one side of a turbulent stream that boiled with white foam crashing from 
above. He steered away at its edge and up a gradient path tending right again. 
Ahead was a piton of shields and spears across his path on one side. A sentry 
emerged from behind it to give chase. A brutal hack broke it away, as a second 
left its post to jog alongside. The other chariot appeared again running 
alongside beyond a divider, yet the Prince had his hands fully occupied. He 
beat the guard off, as others came from the left and the right; he chopped the 
first down with a savage blow and dragged the other behind like a rag doll. 
All the while he guided his horses between the pike obstacles.

Suddenly the whole span of the road appeared blocked, and he tugged hard to 
the left along a plank road down to a narrow arch. He barely scraped through 
and brushed close along another twisting street. The headstrong stallions 
drove on, and he guided them firmly with the suggestion of a tug ahead of each 
bend.

More guards attempted to hop aboard, and now the road obstacles were solid 
blocks of stone. The Prince hacked a deft blow down on each attacker, as he 
carefully negotiated left and right, and left again.

He came to a wider course. The chariot of the Sand Monster swept alongside 
and their wheels crashed together. The horses galloped madly and the Prince 
mounted his chariot side. Determined not to let the Sand Monster escape he 
hurled himself across, and send the two of them clear through a hole in a 
building wall, tumbling to the ground.

They landed on a wide flat circle of stone. They wrestled briefly then broke 
apart. The creature swung a massive axe, striking it off the stone as they 
stared each other down. Breath steamed in snorts from the foul being's mouth, 
its cruel face pinched under a hideously horned helmet.

As the Prince squared up to the towering axe man, a second thug appeared 
behind. A kick in the back knocked the Prince to the ground. This pair worked 
in tandem, and they liked to fight dirty.

"All right, I will admit," the Prince gasped, getting to his feet, "I was not 
expecting that."

The new arrival brandished a wickedly hooked sword. He cast a ring of fire 
around the arena, and gave out wicked laughter. There was to be no escape.

The Prince closed in on the new arrival to try combat one-on-one. No crude 
soldiers these; the brute blocked expertly and swung his massive sword in 
swift reply. The axe man closed in from behind, and the Prince was knocked 
heavy blows between them as he attempted to block. A boot kicked out. He could 
not afford to be caught close between the two opponents, and rolled aside as 
the axe crashed down. Agility was his surest defense.

He fought back as well as he was able. His vaulting attack proved useless. 
Whichever of the two he attacked, he was battered to the ground every time. 
Even as he faced one he seemed never to gain advantage before the other lunged 
fast to assault him from behind. The brutes seemed inexhaustible; as fast as 
he struck one the other closed in, and he could not hope to hold both.

"Turn your attention towards the one who has the sword," urged the voice.

With no better recourse the Prince took the suggestion. He moved to separate 
the two, testing the principal of divide and conquer. When he judged he had a 
little space to maneuver he closed in and struck hard at the swordsman. His 
powerful opponent blocked every blow. After two or three solid strikes the 
Prince sensed the axe bearer closing behind, and rolled aside as its mighty 
weapon hammered down. Confounded by the speed of its prey, the brute struck 
solid stone, striking sparks; the blade drove into the ground and became 
stuck. The Prince saw his chance. He moved swiftly behind and rained blows on 
the stunned creature, doubled over and suddenly helpless. The swordsman 
slashed wickedly in his direction but the Prince rolled aside, and kept up the 
assault, until the axe man straightened once more.

He had stumbled on the weakness in the twin Sand Monsters' strategy. Their 
massive weapons required brute strength to muster, and once launched to attack 
they could not simply wind down.

The Prince moved to open distance between them, rolling to the center of the 
arena to stay away from the scorching flames all around. As the swordsman 
leaped through the air to attack, the Prince dodged aside then turned in, and 
struck with his sword once again - it required only that he judge the moment 
not to receive the edge of wild swings or the swordsman's cruel thrust return. 
As the axe man closed in from behind and suddenly loomed close the Prince 
rolled aside just in time. As before, the heavy axe became stuck in the 
ground. Now the Prince rolled behind, and paused for a fraction to allow the 
swordsman to counter. He moved nimbly as it launched the attack, and once more 
railed on the stricken axe man as the swordsman thrust and slashed furiously 
in the wrong direction. The Prince watched for the axe man to rise as he kept 
up the assault, then moved away to set the sequence again.

At a precise moment he was ready to dive in with his Dagger, whereon he dealt 
a single stab to each twin. This drew fully half their strength.

The Prince patiently maneuvered to execute the trap again and again, each time 
luring the enraged creatures to their pattern of weakness. Soon enough he 
sensed a chance to use the Dagger a second time. At a moment it seemed they 
had beaten him down he ducked to the left as the axe crashed down, then rolled 
right to avoid the sword, and jumped up to dive in with the Dagger. With the 
last of his strength he struck one, then flipped and hung off the neck of the 
other. He stabbed fast and threw himself clear. The demon with the sword was 
cast onto the axe, and evaporated to dust. The Prince sank exhausted to his 
knees.

Yet it was not over. With a terrible roar, the axe man rallied, blood oozing 
from wounds as it leaped through the air towards the Prince, set to bring down 
its mighty weapon on the head of its twin's assassin. At the moment of the 
fatal blow that the Prince had not strength to avoid, an arrow struck out and 
toppled the brute backwards, this time to oblivion. The axe crashed to the 
stone close by the Prince's head. He looked about in wonder.

Farah tumbled acrobatically to the arena. "It seems I chose the right moment 
to return."

"Thank you," said the Prince, with feeling.

"Lucky shot," grumbled the voice.

The Prince staggered to his feet, recovering strength. His entire arm and more 
than half his back glowed with infection of the Sands.

"We should move," Farah suggested. "I'm sure more are on the way."

She ran towards a door. The Prince followed close.

The pair stepped outside. Solid buildings were washed in eerie blue moonlight. 

"Be on your guard," warned the Prince.

Farah moved warily, bow ready. "I always am."

Mist rose off the cold stone of a wide deserted plaza. The great Tower of 
Babylon was silhouetted against a lowering sky. All seemed quiet. Too quiet. 
The Prince touched a hand to the ground. He stood and looked around, his 
warrior's instinct bristling. Something was coming.

"Run!"

They fled across the open plaza, dwarfed among towering statues. The ground 
shook as an ominous rumble rolled towards them.

Sand Monsters appeared from a doorway then spilled from all corners. Vicious 
demonic creatures, wickedly armed, gathered to the attack. Scores, hundreds, 
swarmed from every building, under arches and along colonnades, and ran like a 
flood to surround the couple trapped in the plaza. 

The Prince and Princess skittered to a halt. The creatures closed in, hundreds 
upon hundreds, twisted beasts in hideous form that hissed, grunted, and 
growled, foul breath steaming, cruel weapons drawn. Their yellow eyes burned 
with hate. The Prince and Princess stood firm, back-to-back. Farah pointed her 
bow at first one then another. It would make no difference; the two were 
hopelessly outnumbered.

A shout came from one side of the plaza: "All hail the Prince of Persia, the 
greater hero the land has ever known!"

The creatures turned as one. A mighty cheer rose from the crowd of citizens 
that appeared from the buildings and rushed to the Prince's aid. Each man bore 
a weapon waved to the sky: spears, swords, staffs, clubs, and poles, any 
implement brought to hand and turned to a weapon.

"You have saved the people of this city," the Old Man at their head cried out, 
"and we have come to repay the favor!"

With a roar of defiance the people charged, hurling spears and firing arrows 
as they ran to join in hand-to-hand combat. The demons reeled under the force 
of the charge. A spear was thrust, a creature swept off its feet. A monster's 
sword came down but was blocked in a valiant clash of steel. One giant brute 
lumbered through the tide and was clubbed aside in a solid blow, head smashed. 
Swords slashed and demons were bludgeoned to the ground. Arrows flashed and 
stunned first one then another. In the thick of it, Farah kept up rapid fire. 
The headless giant fought on, Sand glowing from its body. She shot an arrow 
that finished it, as simultaneously the Prince vaulted its now fading form.

A ring of stout defenders shielded the Old Man. The Prince bounded to his 
side. "You cannot kill these creatures," he warned.

The Old Man nodded. "But we can slow them. Go Prince, find the Vizier and 
finish him, so that this nightmare might finally end."

Farah fought off attackers with her bow. The Prince rushed to her side and 
slashed a brute to a flash of dust as the pair ran fighting through the horde.

From the top of steps to a gate more creatures rushed to block their escape. 
The Prince pushed one aside and forced his way up. The Princess turned to 
cover their backs, and drew an arrow from her inexhaustible supply. It found 
its mark, followed swiftly by another. Devilish creatures fell with a groan. 
The Prince led the way to the top. A Guard lunged with a sword but he slashed 
it to dust, and elbowed another aside. As he ran across the threshold under 
the gate, Farah close behind, the Prince cut a rope with a sweep of his sword. 
The portcullis crashed down, trapping the demon horde behind them and allowing 
the Prince and Princess their escape.

Farah ran on, through an open door. Thrall creatures leaped with a roar from 
high walls to cut off the Prince. The door thudded closed behind the Princess.

"Separated again," the Prince sighed. "I'll be with you soon, I need to find a 
way to open this door."

At this critical moment his body was seized by the transformation to the Dark 
Prince.

He became surrounded by brutish monsters, that clubbed him from behind if he 
stood overlong. He moved about, sweeping his flail as he tended to each. They 
swept down from the walls in great number, one on another. He retreated to low 
steps at one end of the courtyard, that he might at least limit the direction 
of their attack. Gleeful Enchantresses formed up out of the ground to lend 
support to the attack, and he whirled fast in reply, dealing on them the same 
swift account as on the others.

With strength and agility he gained peace at last, but sensed he had not long 
before others arrived. As he searched about for some means of exit the brutes 
came again. They stood foursquare and challenged him on. Temporarily 
outnumbered, he summoned the Winds of Sand and cast them all to the ground, 
then swung his flail expertly and banished them to dust.

As the last expired a door opened up to one end of the courtyard. The Dark 
Prince hurried through and found a smaller enclosed yard. Doors either side 
were shut but he spotted a gap in a decorative screen at a terrace window in 
front. He cleared pots to scramble up one side and shimmied across to climb 
through.

He was in a luxurious chamber. Food and other delicacies were laid on a low 
inlaid table surrounded by scattered cushions. As the Dark Prince cast about 
for Sand to replenish his stocks, feathers flew in the air. A shallow bath lay 
at the foot of short steps. He pushed through a gauze drape and plunged in.

The touch of water quenched the fire that raged within, and returned his body 
to that of the Prince, at least for the present. The dark force departed in a 
helix of palest blue light.

"I must find the Vizier soon!" the Prince groaned. "I feel I shall lose myself 
entirely to this corruption."

Bare-breasted statues illuminated alcoves to either side. Set into a wall 
display ahead, twin figurines of the mythical Griffin held a golden chalice 
between them. Echoes of legends past. The Prince hopped a low rail above, and 
took grateful sustenance at a fountain basin.

-- THE PALACE ENTRANCE --------------------------------------------------------

A light beckoned him up steps along a gloomy hall. He emerged on a small 
balcony, and stepped cautiously out.

"Incredible." Farah came from a side room down below and looked up. "I have 
only heard stories of such marvels, but to see one up close..!" She stood at 
the foot of a mechanical tower. "Is there not a similar device in Azad?"

By the square platform at its base it appeared to be an elevator of some kind. 
The Prince called down to her.

"This lift will bring us to the Throne Room," he reasoned. "But wonder of 
wonders, it seems to have stopped working. I will try to return it to life."

Farah stepped inside the device and stood in awe. "I do hope to visit Azad 
some day."

The Prince was at the next storey above. A gap in the low balcony rail allowed 
a wall run to a springboard shutter. He landed on a thin ledge, a chimney gap 
behind him. He skimmed upwards until he reached the level of the next storey. 
On a balcony here stood a capstan with its familiar burning brazier. Making 
sure he had enough height to complete the jump, the Prince leaped forward and 
caught the balcony edge. In moments, he turned the capstan handle, and a door 
alongside opened up.

He stood in an opulent hallway. The sound of machinery creaked and clanked 
somewhere beyond. It seemed the capstan also set the mechanical device Farah 
waited upon to motion; the elevator rose in its tower. There seemed no exit 
from the hallway. A pair of wooden doors was solidly shut, but a wall pillar 
had been broken away at one side, where torn lattice windows faced the rear of 
the lift shift at the center of the room beyond. A red banner hung off it, and 
with no other way forward the Prince jumped out and dropped from its end.

He caught a fissure in the wall under the broken pillar, further evidence of 
the destruction wrought by the invaders, and indeed he was not alone in this 
place - as he shimmied to an alcove area, above the clanking of machinery came 
the angry roar of horned Guards on alert. He scaled a wall under the very 
balcony on which they waited, and sprang up to do battle. Fierce as they 
appeared, these two were no match.

As below, there seemed no exit through a very solid door. Yet as before he 
found a narrow gap in the balcony wall that let him run out beyond, there to 
spring backwards to a metal bar. He was midway up the elevator shaft, that 
though damaged was evidently still operational. He jumped up to a higher bar. 
On the wall facing him was the recognizable shape of a dagger plate, and no 
way forward but a leap to it. As he crouched suspended by his blade in this 
perilous position, the Prince considered, not for the first time, that his 
path would prove impossible for any man of no more than ordinary ability. By 
way of confirmation, he made his characteristic sideways wall run off to a 
balcony. Farah should know of his efforts, and his reasons.

"I am sorry," said the Prince, quietly.

"What?" answered Farah somewhere above.

"I said 'I'm sorry'. I never apologized for the way I acted, for the things I 
said. For who I was."

"I owe you an apology as well," she conceded. "It was unfair of me to accuse 
you of such terrible things."

"But I have done terrible things."

"We all make mistakes, Prince. The difference is that you have accepted yours. 
I saw what you did at the workshop, and what the Old Man said is true - you 
are a prince."

"You're killing me," commented the voice, drily.

Once again, there was no easy exit from the balcony where he stood. He hopped 
the low wall to one side, and aligned with a dagger plate on the wall beyond. 
The Prince wondered at the purpose of these decorations, seemingly useless for 
any but himself. Without them he could not advance, although even with their 
indispensable utility he faced peril. Here now he judged he must time his run 
off the plate to a stone platform at one side. This made slow steady extension 
to butt against the elevator shaft for a second or two before sliding back 
into the wall. The Prince guessed that it might serve some use as a service 
platform, for the elevator shaft showed signs of patched repair at that point. 
One thing was certain: he had only those few seconds the platform connected in 
which to effect a wall run up from it to rebound against the planks above and 
there find safe purchase on a higher dagger plate. Any mistiming would see him 
plunge to the floor.

He could see no vantage to either side, but poles from the adjacent wall 
appeared within reach of a daring run and jump. He swung for a moment and 
noticed on a balcony ahead wicked seductive Enchantresses that whirled in 
anticipation of their next guest. With his warrior's ardor the Prince launched 
a furious assault, but where the Dark Prince had cut them effortlessly with 
his flail, with his own weapons the Prince failed to observe that in their 
whirling trance state, the strange apparitions were immune to attack.

"Wait until they stop moving before you attack them," the voice cautioned.

Summoning the Eye of the Storm, he slowed them sufficiently and returned their 
advances, with interest.

"Come on," the voice sighed. "Show me something I haven't already seen."

The Prince was not aware that he had been fighting for the delectation of the 
voice that spoke within. On the narrow balcony was a capstan lever, that 
opened a side door to a small anteroom.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Life Upgrade #5 [hand mirror]
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

He jumped for a dagger plate and clambered up to a balcony. As at a lower 
level balcony, a dagger plate on a wall beyond beckoned him. He hung off the 
rail and jumped to stab to it, then angled for a run to the side, where a 
second retracting stone platform gave a second or two for him to jump forward 
to a narrow ledge.

The ledge ended short, and there was no option but an upward ascent by means 
of rebounding from the elevator shaft, here shored up with planks. At the top 
was another balcony, with reception party as ever. He fought aside two clumsy 
Guards, then looked for a way ahead. He was now very near the top of the room. 
A gap at the balcony edge faced out to a partially collapsed wall, and he ran 
to grab for a bar across the elevator shaft, and another above. As he had done 
at a lower level, he had now to swing out to the far wall, with the 
inconvenience of an athletic rebound or two to reach onto a dagger plate set 
into it high above. He ran easily to a ledge at one side.

"We are nearly there," came the voice. "Soon everything will be better."

"You seem a bit too excited about what is to come."

"No, Prince, you have simply forgotten your mission," the voice replied 
sternly. "That you do not share in my joy indicates as much."

Troubled by the words of the voice the Prince made his way to a last balcony. 
It seemed almost routine that he be met by more Enchantresses, these two in 
company of a Guard. Farah waited anxiously on the elevator platform, now 
risen. He joined her soon enough.

The elevator was a small cage, open at one side. Cushioned seating lined the 
others. It set to operation again as he joined the Princess on it.

"What is your favorite color?" Farah asked suddenly.

"Color?"

"Shall I repeat the question?"

He considered for a moment, then decided. "Blue."

"Blue!" scoffed the voice, "that's not my favorite color."

"What is the point of this?"

"Must every conversation we have be so serious," Farah said by way of 
explanation. "I know so little about you."

"Very well," the Prince conceded. "Then, what is your favorite food?"

"The pomegranate, of course."

"I do not like pomegranates."

"What is wrong with you," she laughed.

"They are messy; impossible to eat with dignity. So much work for a few 
seeds."

She chuckled. "But is it not the effort that makes them that much sweeter?"

Somehow they did not seem to be talking about fruit. The voice was not amused. 
"I think I am going to be sick."

The elevator arrived at its height. It burst into moonlight at the center of a 
high walled garden.

"What is this place?" wondered Farah.

A few small trees grew in the enclosed outdoor space. Huge blocks of stone 
moved in mechanical orientation about walls covered in thick vegetation.

"It is the heart of the hanging gardens," the Prince explained. "These are 
instruments of life, regulating and running everything."

Farah ran off to explore a passage at one side. She skidded to a stop in 
exasperation as a barred gate clanged down behind her. There was no way back.

"Prince!" she yelled as a pair of mesmerizing women appeared out of the ground 
behind him. "Watch out."

These Enchantresses were the unfortunate women Mahasti had enslaved from the 
brothel, and he had met their like not long before. Here they seemed more 
determined. Eyes flashed with yellow Sand as they gyrated and moaned in erotic 
fashion, but their intent was far from amorous. As the Prince stood spellbound 
they unleashed violent whirling attacks. He snapped out of his trance and 
struck back, moving among garden furniture to limit their advance, and 
slashing where he could. Usual combat techniques would not easily prevail. His 
reliable aerial assault was most often blocked, and any frontal attack proved 
fruitless while their weapons whirled in front. A sudden vicious swipe hooked 
his legs from under, and flat on his back the Prince was at their mercy. He 
sprang to his feet and rolled aside. A wall rebound bought time to compose 
himself. A stone lantern pillar proved useful to launch a sweeping attack, and 
he was quick to face them directly as they recoiled, and give the full force 
of his sword. Had he energy in his Dagger to slow Time this might all prove 
much easier, and he struggled hard to find the exact combination of blows that 
might be effective against them, yet if it took fifty strikes, he was 
determined to keep up the attack until each loathsome creation shriveled into 
dust.

After all his exertions, the voice gave but a mocking laugh. "What was that!?"

The passage where Farah ran ahead was firmly barred by the gate. A capstan 
lever stood at one side of the garden, and where the Prince hoped it might 
raise the gate and allow him to follow, it put to motion various blocks of 
stone set within heights of the garden walls, sliding slowly back and forth at 
intervals. The Prince considered the effect.

A block at one moment became flush, and the next formed a deep recess. Looking 
about, he judged that he might use each condition to his advantage, and make 
his way about the walls to heights above.

He first waited until a block close by retracted, then began an upward chimney 
ascent. He pulled onto a flat grassy ledge before the block returned to smash 
him to the ground. To one side another block slid forwards at intervals, ad 
this bore a dagger plate at its center. He jumped up to stab to it, and as he 
was carried flush ran off sideways to stab to more. He pulled up on a higher 
grassy block ledge.

Now he was at a height where the first block met a wall alongside. This block 
also bore a dagger plate, and he chose his moment to run to it. He caught his 
breath as he was carried inside, then ran out for a ledge as he was brought 
back flush to the wall. A vertical block section formed a temporary bridge 
across a gap in the wall alongside, and at the limit of his run across it the 
Prince caught onto a long red banner with his blade. He made an acrobatic 
somersault at the end of that to a stone jetty off a thick block of suspended 
stone. He balanced delicately to a ledge around it, dripping with vegetation, 
and from a second jetty leaped to a narrow chimney. At its height he jumped to 
a dagger plate, and caught his breath. Moths or fireflies drifted in the still 
air. On a wall further along he spotted another dagger plate, and ran on so 
that he could spring off his stone block to reach to it. Another sideways run 
and he clung to a niche on a corner pillar, and shimmied around to where he 
dropped gratefully to safe ground.

He left the central garden behind and advanced through a high open arch to the 
edge of a short grassy ledge. In front was an overgrown passage, thick foliage 
rising from its depths and light glimmering through vegetation above. A 
lantern swung lazily. Noise of insects and strange creatures hummed in the 
stuffy air. Nearly hidden in the greenery covering one wall were a set of 
dagger plates. The Prince ran out on one wall and sprang backwards to snap his 
blade into the first. From the next he leaped out to a wall bar, and from that 
to another dagger plate in an opposite wall. A slender block section ground 
back and forth flush to the wall across his path to a waiting basin on a 
ledge, and he timed carefully his moment to run over to it.

-- THE HANGING GARDENS --------------------------------------------------------

He looked out from another grassy ledge to an arcade of columns and arched 
recesses. Mist rose from bottomless depths. To one side, a Sand Gate streamed 
its infernal beam into the twilight sky. Sand creatures paced at levels close 
by.

The Prince dropped first to thin ledges around stone walls, and pulled up on a 
screened balcony. He stood breathless and panting. Farah appeared on a wooden 
walkway high above. The Prince shrugged, and gestured that he could see no way 
forward. Farah drew her bow, and shot an arrow that struck a mechanism to 
close down a raised shutter. He now had a flat wall to run out on.

Midway along he jumped away for a metal bar strung between two long blocks of 
stone that formed a chimney chute. He slid down above the heads of two Sand 
Monsters on the terrace balcony below. He dropped behind the first, and seized 
it by the neck, then delivered a series of deft thrusts. His blade sucked at 
each strike, until the lifeless creature slumped to the ground. The other was 
yet unaware, and the Prince crept behind it to reprise the performance.

The Sand Gate was on another platform close by yet out of reach. From the open 
edge of his platform the Prince ran out to stab to a dagger plate. From an 
adjacent wall a thick block ledge ground slowly in and out. He judged the 
moment to run sideways and back off his wall, clinging to the block edge for a 
frantic moment until he could haul himself on top and run along, and off to a 
bar that protruded from a wall close ahead. Others stuck out above, and the 
Prince jumped to grab each until he stood on a high stone beam. A trio of Sand 
Monsters paced on the balcony now directly beneath, surrounding the Sand Gate 
he had seen. Ominously, he observed by the puffs of Sand that traced out there 
were not one but two Sand Gate Guards, each able to summon reinforcements.

Here, the once peaceful gardens were bathed in clear moonlight.

"It's so beautiful," came the voice of Farah, somewhere nearby.

The Prince had distractions other than scenery. He jumped for a gnarled 
hanging branch of a tree and on to a wall pillar top. Farah stepped out on a 
plank bridge close overhead.

"What is he like," she called softly down, "your father?"

The Prince thought as if for the first time. "He is a good man. No, a great 
man. Strong, loyal, kind," he spoke with a sad memory. "Forgiving."

"What is it?"

"I... that is to say, we did not part on the best of terms. It was many years 
ago. I was young and full of pride. Full of fear as well. He offered to 
listen, but I could not find the words. Would not find them. And I only hope 
that I may see him once more, to say that I am sorry."

Farah nodded sympathetically.

The threat was too obvious below. "But this is a story for another time," the 
Prince affirmed. "Let us speak of other things. Surrounded by so much sadness, 
we should not succumb ourselves. Returning to the matter at hand, I cannot get 
to you from where I am."

"I can close another shutter then," Farah suggested. "Let us regroup ahead."

She shot another arrow and a heavy metal shutter clattered down, flush to the 
wall just ahead of the Prince. It was certain now that he would make slower 
progress without her.

He ran over the shutter and grabbed onto a ledge. He dropped to a chute formed 
by wall pilasters beneath, and descended over the very heads of the Sand 
Monsters.

He confirmed that there were indeed two Sand Gate guards. He could ill afford 
to alert either. Still he fearlessly dropped down and began his bold 
infiltration. His blade flashed as he soared above the head of the first 
guardian, slashing down once and again before wresting it to the ground and 
delivering the coup de grace. So swift was this attack that the other remained 
unaware of his presence until he served similar justice upon it. The third 
guard came alive now but it was no match for the Prince and he dealt death at 
his leisure. With grim satisfaction he closed off the gate. 

             ----------------------------------------------

                            YOU HAVE GAINED
                       T H E  S A N D  S T O R M

             ----------------------------------------------

The Prince called up to Farah. "There is still no way for me to get to you. 
However, you can reach the Throne Room from where you stand, and I can pass 
through the greenhouse. This will certainly bring us to the same location."

"Be careful, Prince."

A door creaked shut after her.

The Sand Gate had been set on a balcony platform at the center of towering 
garden walls. A second balcony faced it not far above. The Prince hung off the 
balcony rail to jump off to dagger plates set in one wall. Just above his head 
a vertical block section slid slowly in and out. He timed the moment to begin 
a chimney ascent between a wall and the section before it retracted. He took 
temporary respite hanging from a niche. A Sand Monster grunted and paced on 
the balcony not far to one side. The Prince worked his way up, and around 
ledges to a narrow chute somewhere over the balcony. Now he spotted a second 
guard.

The pair paced up and down, and met in the middle directly below him. First 
one turned away then the other. He chose this moment to land between them. A 
few swift flashes of his Dagger and the first was done for. The second had 
walked away unawares, and the Prince crept up behind, its breath snorting in 
the crisp night air. He pounced, and again the Dagger flared as he stuck the 
blade home time and again, sucking out wet as it dealt the next blow.

"You call that fighting!" scoffed the voice.

What was he supposed to do? His mission was too important to risk all on a 
reckless encounter with such as these. The Prince ran out on a gap in the 
balcony and clutched to a ledge on a corner block. An athletic leap off a wall 
pole brought him up to a mossy ledge above a closed arch. Fireflies danced as 
he shimmied around and jumped to a higher balcony. A fountain stood through a 
doorway beside.

-- THE STRUCTURE'S MIND -------------------------------------------------------

He was in a short passage. Light filtered through vegetation above. A jetty 
projected towards a narrow chute, where vicious metal blades spun ferociously 
at intervals to the ground.

The Prince summoned his miraculous power to slow Time, and dropped carefully 
between each sweep of the blades. This ability served just as well to 
negotiate spinning spiked poles across the passage width below. Darts shot 
harmlessly behind as he ran safely between.

More scything saw blades barred progress at a turn, their rapid rate too swift 
for an intruder to pass. Even with the Dagger's power the Prince risked 
laceration as he chose the very moment to slip through.

From the perilous trapped passage he emerged to a tranquil courtyard space. 
The traps behind him became stilled, and there was silence but for running 
water somewhere close by. Three low platforms enclosed the area, a capstan 
lever on each. Between them was a wide metal grille across the ground. Through 
it he saw a spout of water poured from the base of each platform to disgorge 
through a tunnel in the direction of the only exit from the enclosed space, 
where through a high open archway he saw a chamber room in pale light. 

The chamber bore the appearance of a cathedral. Light streamed from a latticed 
dome high above. A door could be discerned high up on the wall opposite, yet 
the room was a deep void between, leaving no obvious means to cross to it.

Returning to the courtyard, the Prince looked up. Around the walls could be 
seen short metal platforms, though without obvious use. With no other 
recourse, he decided to set each capstan in turn to see what effect they might 
have.

He tried the nearest, yet it did not put any machinery to operation as he 
might have hoped. It seemed to rise slightly on its base, but then sank down 
again, blocked as it was by one of the metal plates above. The next capstan 
proved more promising. The platform on which he stood rose up, and metal 
grilles cranked along channels high around the walls, to a purpose he could 
not yet determine. Though the first platform was still pinned down by its 
metal plate, the third platform looked clear above.

He jumped down to try the third capstan, furthest from where he entered. This 
platform rose up like the last, and he noted too that the metal plate moved 
away from the first platform. If that had prevented it from operation, he 
might now set it to action.

He descended carefully back to the ground, and ran over to the first capstan. 
Sure enough, it rose up, and now all three platforms were at the same level. 
He saw that the plates appeared to move that they might lock the three 
platforms to a particular level if they were not rotated in sequence. His 
platform would rise no further than its present position, so he tried the next 
one along. Although this rose further, as hoped, it also moved a metal grille 
over the third platform, preventing its likely operation. Aware that he had 
made a mistake, he returned the handle and moved along to try the third lever 
again. He was still uncertain of the purpose the raised platforms might serve, 
but he sensed this to be the correct course of action.

The third platform duly rose higher still, now above the two others. From this 
precarious height, he made his way very carefully by means of ledges on a 
corner pillar to return to the middle platform. This seemed free to move up or 
down, but he trusted his instincts and raised it to the level of the last. A 
metal plate slid away from the first platform, now the only one still to be 
raised.

The Prince moved on to the first platform, and turned its capstan handle. The 
platform rose to the level of the two others, and on that operation unseen 
machinery cranked into life. This had an unexpected but welcome effect.

A stone bridge cranked out over the deep void in the cathedral chamber below. 
A slender figure stood patiently on the far side. Using a series of ledges at 
one corner pillar, the Prince dropped swiftly to the ground, to determine the 
result of his labor. Through the metal grille at his feet in the middle of the 
courtyard he saw a waterwheel spinning. Each platform had been a sluice that 
released a flow to the center and this had evidently released the drawbridge 
in the chamber beyond. He ran eagerly inside. To his delight Farah waited for 
him at the end of the platform.

Suddenly she was snatched away.

"Do not take another step!" a voice roared.

The Vizier descended in his fabulous gilded form, the helpless Farah clutched 
in his arms.

"I am impressed you made it past my little welcoming party," he sneered as 
Farah struggled in vain. "Impressed but also quite annoyed, you have robbed me 
of my strongest allies. It would be an error of me not to return the favor. 
Farah will make an excellent queen, fit for a god! Although we will need to 
make some 'modifications'."

"Let her go!"

"Ha-ha-ha-ha!" The Vizier threw Farah to the floor as he towered above the 
Prince. "You act as though you have a say in the matter - which you don't."

The enraged Prince charged forward, but the Vizier hurled a whirlwind of Sand 
that blasted out the stone at his feet. The slender platform shattered and the 
Prince fell into a bottomless pit. The Vizier's contemptuous words faded 
behind.

"Say hello to your father."

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
'The Prince was cast to his death into a pit of darkness. Robbed of Farah, 
distanced from the Vizier, he had been warned that his journey would not end 
well.'
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Pinpricks of light glowed in the darkness. As he fell, the tormented Prince 
began to change to the form of the Dark Prince. He cast out his flail and 
snatched to a bar. Steel links whipped round, breaking his fall as he crashed 
through a stone wall and collapsed to the ground.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
'Ah, but do not be surprised; the Prince's transformation had saved him. 
Sometimes good can come of ill. Sometimes.'
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

-- THE WELL OF ANCESTORS ------------------------------------------------------

He was in a bare stone passage. He could not say how far he had fallen. The 
only means to leave appeared to be off a closed balcony, open to one side. He 
deployed his flail to cross gaps as he ran over walls to small ledges.

"Agh," the voice snorted angrily. "Once again you have denied us victory. How 
many times did I warn you that nothing good would come of pursuing that girl? 
We would not be in this situation if you had just stayed focused!"

"Enough! All you do is taunt and insult me. I do not know what you are 
planning but I know that I do not trust you, and I am ashamed that I ever 
did."

"I have nothing but noble intentions."

"I understand now what it means to be noble, and you are none of those 
things."

"You self-righteous bas-"

"I have listened to you for entirely too long," snapped the Dark Prince. "Be 
silent, let me finish my task, and then we shall see what to do about you."

"Oh yes!" scoffed the voice. "I forgot who is really in charge."

The Dark Prince descended a chain suspended at the center of a huge 
cylindrical chamber. Blue light glimmered as pinpoints below. He dropped off 
to a stone beam, that trembled and shook under his weight. Before it collapsed 
he sprang off to one side, and used his Daggertail chain once more to span a 
wide gap across a wall. He fell to a small chamber and gratefully charged his 
Sand Tanks at a store of tall pots. In his ungodly form the Dark Prince was in 
constant danger of seeing his short life extinguished. 

He jumped to a stone beam, which cracked as he landed, and dropped to another 
below. The pinpricks of light were blue lanterns fastened about the curved 
walls. He used them to swing off with his chain as he ran around to short 
platforms mounted at intervals. He soon slipped from a narrow rock ledge and 
descended a tight chimney chute. He drew his weapon instinctively as an animal 
grunt came somewhere close by.

From holes in the walls of a small chamber came creeping Reptus, each vile 
creation bearing a short chopping blade. He whirled among them with his chain, 
sucking out their life-giving Sand as each fell. At a moment of quiet he 
jumped out to the middle of the chamber and crossed from a pole with his 
chain. He ran on using blue lanterns, dropping off ledges and clinging to 
beams until he found what appeared to be safe refuge in a cave passage.

Reptus swarmed from hiding to confront him as he moved inside. Their Sand 
sustained him till he emerged to the chamber again. He inched along a steep 
narrow ledge.

"Listen, Prince, and look around," the voice gloated. "We are in a well, but 
do you hear water? Do you see it? Feel its moist embrace? Why, I think it's 
gone! I think the Vizier has drained it. How long do you think you can 
maintain your health, your control of the body?"

He tried to ignore the mocking words as he descended, dropping off ledges and 
beams. On a broken platform to the center of the room vicious Illusions 
appeared from nowhere to obstruct him. He cleared them easily enough, but knew 
he could not afford delay. Somewhere there had to be water to rid himself of 
the dark force that gripped him.

He descended a narrow chute to a doorway. A stone passage led within.

"Tick, tock, Prince," mocked the voice, "tick, tock."

He ran on, slowing Time at a corner to diminish sweeping saw blades that 
scythed in his path on a wall run ahead. He needed to find water, the catalyst 
that returned his tortured body to its accustomed form, but here there was 
none, even in pots and ewers stacked about that contained only Sand.

"Feeling thirsty, feeling dry?" the voice taunted. "Oh, am I distracting you?"

He tried to ignore it. The Dark Prince dropped off a ledge as it crumbled, and 
traversed others past a saw blade beneath, till he hauled up on safe footing. 
Safe, that is, until a pair of bloody blades ground into action the width of 
the passage just ahead. He summoned the Eye of The Storm once again and dived 
past. Slender pots stood at a turn in the passage with their precious store of 
Sand.

The passage floor ended shortly ahead, but he crossed over with use of his 
flail and landed on a short section of stone floor. It trembled and shook, and 
gave way just as he jumped up to one side and grabbed hold in a niche. This 
part of the Palace must surely have been very ancient, and he descended to 
rock ledges at its dark depths.

A passage led up at one side, and as he ran on the Dark Prince suffered the 
insistent voice from within.

"Time is precious, time is fleeting, time is ... something you have too little 
of."

He ascended steps to find saw blades sweeping his path, from the walls as well 
as the floor, and spiked rotating floor sections at a turn. He swiftly 
negotiated each trap, and a wall run carried him past a legion of darts sprung 
out of a wall. He clung grimly to a ledge and hauled up.

"Oh," the voice continued, "would you like a drink?"

What he would like was silence to concentrate. He dropped between sweeps of a 
saw blade, and slowed Time yet again to execute an upward wall run past 
another to hang off a ledge. He shot out the flail to grab onto a block 
section, and drew it from the wall at his back to jump off to. Another jump 
brought him to a ledge, and he dropped to the passage end. A door stood the 
other side of a trio of saw blades, and with a last use of the Eye of The 
Storm, the Dark Prince slipped through and passed over a floor switch to open 
the door.

The other side was in pitch darkness. As he entered, something glinted on the 
stone floor.

"Father's sword!" He picked it up in surprise and confusion. "But what is it 
doing here?"

His jaw fell. Sprawled out was the fallen body of a mighty warrior. The sword 
clattered to the floor as the anguished Prince sank to his knees at his 
father's side.

"Oh, come on now," the voice said. "Did you really expect to find him alive? 
Even after everything you have experienced, still you hold out hope!"

"Oh, Father. What have I done?"

He clasped the body in his arms. The voice was pitiless.

"What now, then? Gather up enough Sand, perform another grand rewind? Or 
perhaps you can return to the Island, and travel back to a time when he might 
still be saved? Maybe rescue a damsel in distress along the way!"

"No!" roared the wretched figure. "You are right, I have been like a child: 
naive and arrogant, always rushing to undo my mistakes. Never facing the 
consequences of my actions."

He drew up his father's sword.

"No more. I accept what I have done, and all that it implies."

On those words, an unknown force surged through him. Light radiated from his 
body. In a flash the Dark Prince was gone, and the Prince of Persia stood in 
his place.

"What is this?" the voice was incredulous. "You have no water, how did you-"

"You hold no power over me now," the Prince declared. "Begone! Retreat to 
whatever dark hole spawned you, and do not trouble me again."

"Were it only that easy, Prince. You will see what true trouble is, soon 
enough."

Trouble came at that in the vile green shape of Reptus, creeping from their 
holes in the dark to assault him with short chopping blades. His father's 
sword proved a formidable weapon. Seemingly at a stroke, each creature was 
diminished to a flash of dust. In a fury of action, as many as they were, the 
Prince finished each, and soon he was alone once more.

The chamber was solid stone and cylindrical in shape. His father's body lay at 
the center, four carved pillars around. Twin colonnades circled the room, 
empty niches within. A fitting cenotaph for the fallen warrior Shahraman.

His sword had other capabilities. Where first the Prince saw no escape from 
the dark chamber, he noticed one wall appeared cracked and ready to crumble. 
He stood in its doorway and brandished the sword. With a colossal blow it 
broke down the wall, and shattered stone to dust. 

-- THE WELL OF ANCESTORS (II) -------------------------------------------------

The infernal glow of the Sand that infected the Prince's body gave unexpected 
benefit. As he moved in the dark, his own body cast light that broke through 
the shadows always ahead.

The floor was everywhere broken at the edge. He could not see to the depths. 
The walls were carved in geometric pattern. Cracked pillars held fragments of 
the floor above. He ran over a wall to another section of floor, determined to 
find the way ahead.

On his broken platform something moved in the shadows. He drew his weapon on 
instinct but could see no enemy. Suddenly he bumped into an obstruction that 
seemed invisible. Instinctively he knew that the Chameleon creatures haunted 
this place, and meant to hinder him here. He struck out blind, and made 
satisfying connection with one infernal foe. It barked in fury, and he struck 
again, forcing it to drop its disguise so that he easily cleaved it with his 
father's sword. He ran on, over a short jump to another platform section. An 
animal hiss greeted him.

"You may not be able to see these creatures," said the voice, "but you can 
hear them."

He turned aside and struck out, once more connecting with the sly creeping 
chameleon. A second lurked close by. The Prince slashed both to oblivion then 
hurried on.

Wall runs brought him across other sections to a corner. Pillars proved too 
thick to be climbed, and there were no further floor sections that he could 
reach. He exercised his athletic ability in an upward chimney ascent between 
wall sections tight to the corner.

A chameleon lurked on the platform above, though the Prince was little 
troubled in a jump to a second floor section. The upper level was more greatly 
damaged than below; he negotiated narrow sections further into the room.

He trusted his ability as he leaped in the dark. Each section seemed just 
about in reach of another until he noticed a fountain basin glimmering in the 
darkness across a wide gap. He could see his direction, but the wall was 
broken out between them. The Prince had first to make a detour across a short 
broken section to another, and from that to a wider piece of floor. Wide 
enough to harbor a last invisible foe, for a blade glinted in the hand of the 
waiting demon.

With a couple more daring wall runs over the dark the Prince arrived safe at 
the fountain.

-- THE LABYRINTH --------------------------------------------------------------

A floor switch opened a door alongside. He ran on along a dark passage of 
sculpted stone blocks. The Sand burning in his body cast eerie shadows. At a 
turn a bottomless pit stretched ahead, too risky to attempt any sort of run or 
jump to get across. Above his head along one wall was a ledge, with others now 
barely discernible beyond. Across many slender ledges he hugged to the cold 
gray stone as he edged for the continuation of the passage, where he pulled up 
to find another floor switch and a door.

Droplets fell from the dank ceiling of the rougher passage beyond. He crossed 
another pit by acrobatic leaps off the longer of many projecting horizontal 
poles to ledges, where he ascended a deep shaft through use of dagger plates 
mounted at intervals on the walls. Certainly no ordinary man could pass the 
same way.

At the top he was faced by a collapsed doorway, stopped up with rubble. He 
used his mighty sword to break it down. Lying in wait on the other side were 
Reptus, issuing wild animal growls. He whirled among them, finishing each at a 
stroke.

He was in a gigantic cavern. Pillars built into the rock rose out of steaming 
waters. Light cut through cracks in the cave roof far above. He jumped to a 
pillar platform, and took refreshment at a basin for the trials that surely 
lay ahead.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
'And so the Prince's eyes had finally been opened to the true nature of his 
corrupt half, that cruel and charismatic voice which once whispered in his 
ear. It had subtly encouraged our burdened hero to do wrong. But now the voice 
was stilled, the Prince's mind once more his own.'
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

-- THE UNDERGROUND CAVE -------------------------------------------------------

He looked out on platforms, columns and pillars set about the cavern high 
above. He had to find a way to them and leave this place. A nearby platform 
ledge fronted a doorway stopped up with rubble as the last. He broke through 
with his sword.

Dust cleared and he found a passage broken by gaps in the floor. Twin spiked 
poles scythed on a section between. He judged the moment and jumped over as 
one pole sliced aside, and scrambled up and away before it returned. He heard 
low animal growls as he shimmied along a niche to a platform floor, and at the 
end of the passage found another doorway of rubble. He kept his sword swinging 
as he broke through, and cleared away the reception party: green demons with 
vicious yellowed eyes and bodies livid with the welts of bloody lesions. 
Mutant creatures of the dark wet places, it was almost a mercy to rid them of 
life. Others dropped from hiding to continue the attack.

"Lead them into the light," the voice reminded him. "Strike while they are 
blind."

Where once he had found these creatures sometimes troublesome, his father's 
sword cut them down at a stroke.

A wall run to one side carried him to a tight chute, where he climbed up. 
Distant sounds reminded him that danger lay ahead. He jumped to a dagger plate 
and dropped to a bar, and soon scrambled up to a ledge where he performed his 
acrobatic chimney ascent to a short stone platform block under a dagger switch 
on the wall alongside. It drew out twin blocks, sliding in and out of an 
adjacent wall. To cross would need timing and agility. Though he did not with 
certainty have need of it, there was always the Eye of The Storm he could call 
on to slow their rate of retraction. With a nimble wall run and three swift 
clever jumps he came to a wider balcony platform, where a horde of Sand 
Monsters waited.

The Reptus were here joined by Hunter Hounds. The Prince made sure to finish 
them fast, for he could ill afford to lose his precious store of Sand, 
notwithstanding that his expert swordsmanship made short work of other enemies 
to replenish it. His father's sword proved as able to cut these creatures down 
as any other, and in a few moments the Prince had the platform to himself. A 
dagger switch caused thick blocks of stone to rotate about a solid pillar to 
the center of the cavern. Ledges had been brought to face the platform where 
he stood. He jumped across, bright foaming waters far below, and soon worked 
around the pillar to another mossy platform. Creatures growled and waited the 
other side of a pile of cracked rubble at a door. Once broken through, he 
whirled among them, until he had peace to look about.

His platform section faced a perilous drop. Dagger plates set about the walls 
offered test of his athleticism, and soon he dropped down on a pair of 
grunting, snuffling Hunter Hounds. Reptus descended too late to prevent his 
clearing them aside, and another wall of rubble fell to his sword.

There seemed no obvious way forward from the platform ledge beyond, but 
looking up, the Prince noticed thick blocks of stone over the doorway. He 
ascended by leaps off a wall and pulled on top. Now he performed a very long 
wall run, at the limit of his ability, and clung to a bar sticking out from 
the wall. It bent and swayed under his weight, but did not break. He swung on 
to a second bar, and aligned carefully to swing to a narrow chute directly 
ahead. He could not risk a clumsy fall from such a height, and slid quickly to 
the ground.

A group of Reptus waddled to meet him, and as fast as he banished them each 
was replaced by another dropping from above. Still he stuck to it and as many 
as there were, he was scarcely injured as he sent the pack to damnation.

A thin stream trickled at his feet and ran over a ledge, joining the bright 
foaming waters below. The Prince jumped forward to a dagger plate, and by 
ledges and more plates drew up on a short platform. He had reached the upper 
limit of the cavern. He struck a likely wall hopefully with his sword, yet the 
blade clanged off with no possibility that it might give way. Behind him a 
thin jetty jutted out towards a slender column hanging from the cave roof. It 
looked precarious but there was no other alternative than a leap to cling on. 
He slid down as far as he was able, then sprang off to a second column 
fragment. As quickly as he could he jumped again, and landed on a lichen-
covered platform where Hunter Hounds prowled, set to suck his Sands from their 
store. He interjected his trusty blade, and swept them away.

Through a cave doorway other Reptus crept towards the sound of the intruder. 
The Prince ran through, clearing aside such few as troubled him, and found the 
back of the cave passage stopped up with rubble. He smashed through to a long 
narrow section of facing walls with no floor above a torrent of water far 
below. He performed a lengthy wall run to a dagger plate, where he caught his 
breath for a moment. He saw no plate alongside, or above or behind as would 
have seemed usual, but there was a narrow ledge evident on the opposite wall 
much further along. He looked down to misty depths, took a deep breath and ran 
out again and leaped off, where he clung to the ledge and climbed around.

From higher ledges he sprang to a fluted column, where small jetties projected 
towards a stream running in a narrow chute off a block ledge ahead. He jumped 
off to wedge into it, its slippery surface not spoiling his grip. He eased 
upward and pulled out where fine spray splashed at the foot of the stream from 
above. He sprang back and forth off close edges of block sections to arrive 
where the stream tumbled down. It ran under scything poles set to prevent 
access to intruders.

He followed the chill waters upstream, rolling nimbly under each pole as it 
rose. The water poured from a spout in a high rocky wall. To one side a legion 
of buzzing blades coursed back and forth in his path, divided by a pounding 
block for good measure. Had he not faced hazard enough? He was grateful for 
the power of the Dagger of Time to guide him safely through.

Torches lighted the way beyond. The passage was a dead end but his blade 
hissed in the strange quiet as he hoist up on dagger plates. A shallow flight 
of stone stairs brought him to a fountain.

-- THE ROYAL KITCHEN ----------------------------------------------------------

There seemed at first no means to advance, the area about the fountain being 
closed in solid stone blocks, yet a familiar dagger switch showed itself set 
into one wall. Its operation raised up a section in an alcove, revealing a 
secret door.

On the other side he was beset by whirling Enchantresses and sorceress 
Illusions. His father's sword made short work of them, should he manage only 
to come at a blade's distance. No sooner had he cleared every one than hulking 
brutes dropped from a balcony edge, and hurried to attack. The sword dealt 
with them as easily, though still they came, one after another as he put each 
to the sword. He stationed himself between long refectory tables, to limit the 
attacker's direction, and cast on each hopeless assailant heavy blows that 
knocked them to a standstill. Utensils shattered and spilled as his weapon 
whirled about, sending each to a flurry of dust.

A huge fireplace lit one side of the room. He could see poles and beams above 
it, and judged that he might reach an upper balcony if he could somehow climb 
onto them. A short flight of stone stairs led up either side at the middle of 
the room to a door. A wall switch was mounted above, far too high for him to 
run up on. Midway up one flight of stairs was a dagger plate, with another 
above, that the Prince used to angle himself for a run to the beams he had 
noticed from below. As hoped, he was able to swing via a banner pole to the 
high balcony.

There was nothing to find there, only empty rooms that had housed his 
attackers. A beam led out over the kitchens on the opposite side, and he soon 
worked his way to face a dagger plate on the wall by the door at the top of 
the stairs. The switch was conveniently alongside, and he nimbly activated it 
as he dropped down in front of the now open door.

Up two flights of steps stood a fountain.

-- THE SECRET PASSAGE ---------------------------------------------------------

On he climbed up another flight, and came to a deep drop at a turn. He crossed 
over bars to short ledges. The middle of three retracted at intervals, but 
troubled him little as he scaled the wall to a balcony, and climbed off. Along 
a silent twisting corridor he approached open air through a small doorway.

-- THE LOWER TOWER ------------------------------------------------------------

A sinister sight greeted him. The great Tower where he stood was ringed in 
beams of light set at precise intervals through the city below. Their purpose 
was yet unknown, but here at their heart was surely the seat of Zervan's 
power, or the place of his evil intent.

Scaffold had been erected around sections of the Tower walls. The monumental 
edifice was ever under some stage of construction or repair. The Prince 
mounted a wooden platform and ran to a bar sticking out from the Tower wall. 
It served well to allow him to reach a smaller plank scaffold.

An invisible enemy struck at him here, but was easily repulsed. Reminder 
enough that even in this most inaccessible spot enemies lurked and he was in 
constant danger. His path was precarious enough. He kept concentration and 
ascended by plank ledges to a platform, from which he ran to a shaped metal 
bar built into the wall. A pulley wheel clanked and wheezed as it turned in a 
narrow chute above a landing stage. The Prince dropped down in his usual 
manner.

A larger construction of scaffold stood off to one side. As the Prince jumped 
to it he noticed a Sand Monster patrolling its timbers. Birds scattered on his 
arrival, but there was no need for stealth here. The lone Guard stood no 
chance against his father's weapon even if brought to alert. A capstan stood 
ready on the far side of the platform, and the Prince could not resist putting 
it to operation to see what function it might serve. A lift cranked inside a 
rough plank partition, rising to the next stage above. Pulleys hung off arms 
at points around the scaffold, but he could at first see no way to reach them, 
until he found a raised ledge on the lift partition at the platform center.

He jumped off to one pulley arm and edged carefully towards the next. Wind 
whistled about and clouds whirled far below. Was that a sunset or a sunrise on 
the far horizon? In all his exertions the Prince had quite forgot the hour of 
the day. He jumped to an empty platform at one side.

Empty but for the unwelcome appearance of chameleon creatures. They hissed in 
warning and he struck out fast, and connected well enough though he could not 
see his enemy. These creatures used stealth as their ally to mask their 
relative weakness; no sooner had he found them with his blade than they were 
gone. A spur jutted out and he jumped to the next highest platform. He came 
now to another capstan lever, that with the small inconvenience of a chameleon 
to be cleared was soon put to operation. He saw now that the lift he operated 
carried a large stone block up a shaft. It might come to some use.

The Prince scattered birds off their perch as he clambered onto another pulley 
arm. With a few jumps he came to the stone block on the lift. As luck would 
have it, there was a dagger plate in evidence on the Tower wall, at just such 
a height as the block might allow him to reach.

The Prince hung off a plate and considered his options. There did not seem to 
be any platform within reach, and nothing anywhere about that he might easily 
climb on to. He steeled his nerve for the one possibility: a daring run along 
the wall and a leap into space to clutch for a thick wooden pole suspended 
from a pulley. Somehow he made it, and returned to the wall to make more 
conventional - though no less daring - progress via dagger plates and wall 
bars, turning about to swing up to a high wooden walkway. He soon reached 
another above, and at its end returned gratefully inside the Tower.

Yet here were hazards as great. The passage ahead had no floor. A saw blade 
buzzed up and down in the wall over which he must run, and rotating spike 
sections were set close behind. This presented an impenetrable defense, but 
the Prince had the Eye of The Storm. He used it to slow the lethal traps 
sufficiently and ran over, where shutters shot him safely to the point where 
the passage floor resumed.

More hazards were in evidence here. A differing configuration of saw blades 
and spikes were once again countered by slowing of Time, and further obstacles 
at a turn in the passage by confident rolls. He took as light exercise the 
negotiation of dagger plates and shutters beyond.

-- THE MIDDLE TOWER -----------------------------------------------------------

A dagger switch opened a door. The Prince stepped out onto a square stone 
balcony. Thin sunlight broke between distant mountains. The beams of light 
that ringed the Tower projected at regular points from the depths of the 
walled city below. As he contemplated their sinister implication, whirling 
Sand creatures materialized at his back. He slashed quickly and soon cleared 
them.

As before he made arduous negotiation of the curved Tower walls by dagger 
plates and platforms to a thick hanging pole, and off that to another plank 
scaffold workstation. Here was another capstan lever that operated a wooden 
lift. It brought a stone block to the level above.

The Prince made his way up, and cautiously moved to investigate. This middle 
platform appeared deserted as the last, but Sand Monsters paced the level 
above. A lift platform stood empty, but the block waited on its separate 
hoist. The Prince spotted an empty cage suspended far off to one side, and 
wondered if this block might somehow belong there. A capstan lever at his 
level activated the empty lift, so he first slid the heavy stone block over to 
it. The Guards above seemed unaware of the activity as the block was hoist 
aloft.

He made his way up using poles off the wall. The block waited on its lift but 
he had first to clear the platform of danger. He dealt easily with the clumsy 
Guards, who were soon supported by invisible Chameleons. None troubled him 
greatly.

To the far side of this highest platform was a small winch lift. The Prince 
saw now that he had no hope of maneuvering his block out to the suspended cage 
lift, but decided to bring it to this other one to see what effect it might 
bring about. As he slid the block off its lift and across the platform it 
appeared to become stuck, but this was a Chameleon in his way attempting to 
delay him. An obstruction soon cleared. It was a tight fit but the block slid 
into the small winch lift well enough. At once the heavy block caused the lift 
to fall. Counterbalanced, the far lift rose on its rope. The Prince saw that 
it was at such a height that he might reach it from the Tower wall. He climbed 
up on a ledge and stepped onto a platform, where he stood ready.

He gathered his strength and ran out on the sheer wall, high above the domes 
and minarets of the city stretched out below. By a superhuman leap into space 
the Prince clutched to the wooden rail of the suspended lift. He hopped in and 
hopped over, and from another rail made a leap to a far winch beam off a 
rugged plank platform. He soon ascended a pulley station to a projecting beam.

He startled more birds off their perch as he jumped to a small wooden 
platform, and by dagger plates and wall bars came up over small platforms to 
enter the Tower again. He judged that he must be nearing the top now.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Life Upgrade #6 [seal]
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Inside were more impenetrable traps. With daring and timing, and judicious use 
of the Eye of The Storm, the Prince passed along walls over saw blades and log 
traps, over shutters and dagger plates to haul out at a passage end, where 
Sand Guards patrolled a covered walkway. He cleared them away for a little 
peace to consider his next move.

He was inside the Tower where stout vegetation had partly broken through the 
walls. Water ran down from gaps rent in the block work by branches of a tree. 
He ran out over and swung off wall bars to a ledge by an outer wall. A 
scaffold tower of wooden platforms had been rigged at the center of the space 
to effect repairs. It stretched from the depths up to where he observed high 
platforms around. That way his path surely led.

Outside from a small grassy platform he looked out on the gray city ringed by 
the beams of sinister light. He advanced to a second small platform and 
clambered through a wide gap in the wall to return inside. A hypnotically 
whirling Enchantress lay in wait on a rough plank walkway the other side, 
moaning to herself in trance-like gyrations as she awaited her next foolishly 
tempted victim. He dealt with her swiftly then ran up the walkway to jump for 
the lowest platform on the central scaffold tower. From an adjacent platform 
came the regular rhythmic exhalations of an Enchantress limbering up her 
athletic somersault routine. Sand Guards tramped about to accompany her. No 
doubt he would get to them soon enough.

His platform was bare but for a squared stone block. The block served no 
purpose on this empty platform, but he somehow felt with certainty it would 
serve him above; he pushed and pulled it into an open lift at one side.

He hopped the rail and jumped out to a grass ledge in the shadow of the thick 
tree trunk that had broken through the wall. He jumped quickly to the wider 
ledge that the Sand Monsters waited upon, and rushed to do battle. Prepared as 
they were, even these offered disappointingly limited test of his skills. He 
made his way along their platform to return to the central scaffold tower, at 
the next platform up.

A capstan lever brought the lift underneath past his platform to the one 
highest up. He balanced out on a thin beam to find some means of rising to 
meet it. From a small plank platform he climbed to a covered walkway identical 
to - and directly above - the one where he first entered the space. The 
reception here was a pair of Enchantresses, and where once they had troubled 
him greatly they fell almost at once to the power of his new sword.

From the end of the walkway an extension reached, and he jumped up eagerly to 
a beam that faced the highest platform on the scaffold tower. Two Guards drew 
their swords on it, ready to stop him, but they could not have expected the 
powerful weapon in the hands of the determined figure that fell vengefully on 
them.

Here was the block in its lift. A second lift led off another side of the 
platform, and in moments he pulled the block off the first lift and pushed it 
onto the other. As that lift fell under the weight a third was raised, close 
to the wall. The Prince hopped across from the back of the empty lift on his 
platform. From the risen lift he had height enough to jump to a grassy 
platform in one corner.

This might have been a tranquil spot in different circumstances. Bright 
sunlight illuminated windows around, and light vegetation grew over walls. As 
it was, twin Enchantress demons whirled and twirled about, waiting the arrival 
of a likely paramour. The Prince dealt merciful death on them with not so much 
as a hint of pity or remorse.

He climbed about the walls of the cavernous space, on a beam, and up ledges, 
now shinning up a thick hanging branch of the tree, to jump for a plank 
platform. Scratched marks on the wall indicated a dagger plate on the wall 
above, and from a shutter he sprang to clutch for another, and more alongside.

Through decorative iron trellis a pack of Sand Monsters were in evidence 
patrolling their lonely station. He dropped through an open section and was 
immediately crowded about. He brought down the power of the Dagger to sweep 
them of their feet with a powerful Sand Storm. All lay dead in an instant. 
Another section stood open to one side, and where at first there seemed no 
prospect for advancement off a sheer ledge, he observed scratch marks on one 
wall that indicated someone at some time had attempted to reach to a dagger 
plate in the wall just above, which he now duly did.

With a few strenuous reaches to more plates along the wall the Prince fell to 
a short wooden beam. He was now very high in the space, close to its ceiling, 
where the thick gnarled tree trunk reached out its branches. He balanced 
precariously along the beam and jumped to another further out. He edged 
carefully along its various twists and approached the outer wall again.

Birds took flight as he thudded down beside, causing him to jump in 
expectation but there was no immediate danger. He had faced trouble at each 
turn it seemed, yet here for the moment he was alone with his thoughts. He 
looked out on the impressive sight of the city - his city - shrouded in misty 
gloom and pierced by the vertical beams of light. He hurried to his task once 
more, though he was momentarily thrown by the seeming impossibility of a jump 
from his wooden platform to another some distance ahead and a little below. He 
stood on a wooden spar that offered some distance towards it, but judged the 
gap still too far. He took the safer route of a drop to a twisting wooden 
jetty just below, and off it to another, whereon he dropped safely to the 
opposite wooden platform and on to a third close beside.

A trio of dagger plates in vertical arrangement gave enough height for a 
sideways run off a springboard, that launched him diagonally out over the long 
drop to the atrium floor where he could just barely make out the platforms 
over which he had begun to fight his way to this point, close below its 
trellised ceiling. He clung now to a thick gnarled root of a tree, that 
stretched down from the gardens above, where thick vegetation broke through. 
The Prince jumped away to a thin ledge on a wall, and edged to a wider 
platform of stone. Sounds of cheerless birdsong echoed dimly as he left the 
atrium to return inside the Tower at this, its highest exit.

-- THE UPPER TOWER ------------------------------------------------------------

The Prince ran out on a wall across a bottomless pit. He stabbed his Dagger to 
a plate at the last moment to save him from plunging into it. Now he was able 
to run on to a thin ledge. He executed a deft upward wall climb to a higher 
ledge, and soon ascended dagger plates to a doorway, where another pit was 
crossed off wall bars. Retracting ledges were easily negotiated with proper 
timing.

In a chamber room of four pillars another retracting ledge gave onto a wall 
pole that bent under his weight as he swung away for a second pole. He 
clambered over a rail to a silent corridor with polished gray marble floor. A 
lattice of golden light played over a patterned carpet from a lantern shade 
that swung gently overhead. His feet were muffled on the carpet as he headed up 
a stone stairway.

Through an arched door twin basins were set at the foot of short steps, open to 
the skies. He had reached the top of the great Tower of Babylon.

-- THE TERRACE ----------------------------------------------------------------

Through narrow arches at one side the Prince looked out to the distant city, 
ringed by the Vizier's sinister beams of light. The evil master was here 
somewhere, there could be no doubt - this symbolic place formed the seat of his 
power.

A decorative caged gazebo stood at the top of the steps, a closed door beside. 
Steps continued to an arched pergola framing a stone bench. The view out over 
the city was magnificent, but for the disquieting beams of light piercing 
upwards. To one side a narrow colonnade led directly to a wall switch. It 
illuminated as the Prince trod over, and the closed door below slid upward. The 
Prince hurried down to pass through. The Vizier was close, he could feel it. 
Their destiny was as one.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
'You may wonder why I would let this come to pass? So many are dead and likely 
more to follow. An empire reduced to rubble. A prince cast to the streets and 
hunted like a common criminal. But I had seen the timeline and of all the 
outcomes lay bare to me, this one held the most promise of them all. For the 
Prince would have an opportunity to set things right. Watch now, see the thing 
of which I speak.'
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Down a silent marble corridor the Prince hopped over a balcony rail and jumped 
a deep shaft. Lanterns swung gently, casting yellow grids of light on the gray 
tiled floor. At a turn it seemed his path was a dead end, a door firmly shut, 
but light broke through a facing wall. The Prince would not be deflected from 
his mission, and broke down the wall with his father's mighty sword. As dust 
cleared a secret passage was revealed, stone steps leading down through arched 
doorways to daylight beyond.

He came into a small cylindrical chamber, open to the sky high above, but 
without another door or means of ascent. The door slotted shut at his back. As 
he stood to consider his course, unseen machinery clanked and hissed to 
operation, and the floor on which he stood rose up, a disc platform bearing him 
towards the open sky.

He emerged at last to the top of the mighty tower, a wide flat arena ringed in 
arched walls. The Prince looked about, and gasped sharply at the sight of the 
Vizier in his awesome winged transfiguration, hovering before the still defiant 
form of the princess Farah, chained to a wall high out of reach.

"Now where did I put those wings?" oozed the Vizier, as yet unaware of the 
arrival of the Prince on the open terrace below, sword drawn as he watched the 
drama with growing unease.

"Zervan?" Farah whispered.

"What is it?"

"In case I don't get the chance again..."

She puckered her lips. Zervan leaned close, gratified. The Maharajah's daughter 
spat in his face.

"You impudent pig! I offer you life eternal, and this is how you respond? Oh, I 
shall enjoy changing you."

Sparkles of Sand swirled and glittered high above as the Prince looked on in 
horror. The Vizier suddenly turned to the figure standing beneath him, as yet 
powerless to intervene. "Hello, Prince. Not quite the homecoming you expected?"

If the Prince expected anything it was that this evil sorcerer should die at 
his hand. He stood ready as the ungodly apparition descended.

The Prince had seen the wicked Zervan at work eviscerating his troops. Each 
gilded appendage bore vicious barbs at the tip that jabbed down at every 
opportunity. The Prince had to get close enough to strike, but remained wary of 
this deadly attack. He rolled aside as one wing tip struck down, and though he 
was knocked off his feet he judged the wound not too severe, and resumed his 
assault.

Following a series of telling blows, the Vizier withdrew with a cruel mocking 
laugh. As the Prince recovered strength a section of masonry under Zervan's 
control flew from a high colonnade and whirled down towards him. He rolled 
aside as it smashed to dust in his place.

The Vizier swooped down again, and the Prince ran to meet him. He knew his only 
chance was to strike hard with his sword. Even as he did so, the creature 
closed its glittering wings to protect the vestige of the Vizier cocooned 
inside. Once it opened to attack him again he thrust hard, and wounded the vile 
being once more. In an instant it drew up as before.

"Why do you even try to harm me," the creature said. "I am immortal."

"Immortal perhaps, but not invincible."

The Prince panted for breath, and stood wary. Another block of masonry span 
down to smite him, and he rolled aside. A second followed and he ran the other 
way to avoid that too. The angry Vizier swooped down again. As the Prince ran 
forward to meet the evil being, Zervan fired out a bolt of energy, glowing in a 
fiery ball towards him. He managed to tumble from its path, and recovered to 
close in and assail the demon once more. He found if he stayed close and struck 
fast the creature would not have the chance to unleash its fiery bolts. He had 
only to watch for the short chopping tips of the hanging appendage.

In this he discovered the perfect technique. Here was no demand for subtlety or 
skill, he faced the demon full on and slashed with his sword. Two strokes hit 
home, and then he was blocked: now he could expect Zervan to strike with the 
tip of a wing, at which the Prince simply hopped straight up in the air. The 
otherwise damaging blow connected only with the ground under him, and the 
Prince landed ready to slash with his sword once again. Repeating the move 
exactly, at the moment he found himself blocked he hopped straight up and 
resumed the attack. It was undignified but very effective.

The enraged Zervan rose up for a third time.

"You will pay for what you have done to my people," the Prince vowed.

"Done to them?" the Vizier scoffed in reply, then insisted: "things will be 
better now, you should thank me."

"They live among mindless monsters, in service to your madness."

Zervan was unmoved. "It is the price of progress."

In furious sequence three solid chunks of stone came lying at him one after 
another, but the Prince was now ready, and effortlessly ran back and forth as 
each came.

Tired of the assault, the evil Vizier stilled his flight, and drew his arms in 
front of his face. By some unimaginable force, the upper tier of the rooftop 
arena cracked, and pillars and columns broke away. With a gesture of his palms 
the Vizier forced rubble to the floor, where huge blocks of masonry swirled 
about the astounded Prince, and threatened to crush him.

He moved about, trying to steer a course between moving blocks.

"Quick and clever," Zervan remarked. "You would have made a fine addition to my 
army. But adding you to my collection of corpses will have to suffice."

It seemed as though the heavy blocks moved to meet his path wherever he turned. 
As he threaded past one another might drift between, and he surmised Zervan was 
directing them in order to frustrate him. As he paused to catch his breath the 
Vizier fired out a bolt of energy that blew him off his feet. He had to keep 
moving and find some way to fight back.

As he struggled up, a fragment smashed into him. It collapsed to dust but in so 
doing inflicted damage that he could not long sustain. He had at least the 
miracle of the Sands with which to undo such hurt as he suffered, if more than 
one took its toll, but he somehow sensed he would need the power of the Dagger 
to better purpose. He flipped himself back on his feet and drew a wary path 
between the remaining blocks, nearly obscured in dazzling clouds of dust as 
they swirled about.

He made a quick assessment of the track of each block. Where first they 
appeared to move in a random pattern, and might even seem to anticipate his 
course, they were in fact arranged in a simple regimented pattern: three 
equally spaced sets of three moving in circles by alternate direction. The 
three blocks to the center of the arena need hardly trouble him, though he 
might seek temporary refuge where none seemed to pass. He bore in mind that 
should he stand long, the Vizier's bolts could yet easily find him. Their hurt 
was at least the equal of collision with any block, and so best avoided. The 
middle pieces moved clockwise, and their rate and distance troubled him more, 
since each moved slightly faster than he could run. Conversely, this allowed 
him refuge if he swerved to follow behind in its stately path. The outermost 
set had greater distance between, that he could move easily aside as each 
drifted towards him. It meant that he needed to watch two directions at once as 
he moved towards the Vizier.

He closed in, and looked to climb any object that might bring him to face the 
hovering demon. He saw his chance as the evil sorcerer paused beside one 
twinned column pillar. The Prince ducked between passing blocks and ran swiftly 
up and sprang back, taking the moment to prepare his Dagger to strike.

The first blow slashed fast, and the Vizier flapped his gilded wing, trying to 
dislodge the Prince, hanging on. The determined young man brought the Dagger 
down again and cut deep, and as he was thrown into the air put his weight and 
force behind another that sliced the wounded wing clean off. Zervan howled in 
rage as the Prince dropped to the ground.

Pleased with his success, but wary of the motion of masonry blocks, the Prince 
took to his heels in a flash. He circled slightly to get behind a moving block, 
and followed it towards the enraged Zervan again. As the Vizier paused near a 
twin column, the Prince ran up beside, and leaped out for a second attack.

He sprang out off the column, and slashed at the other wing. As the Vizier 
twisted, the Prince hopped to the other side and clung onto an arm in a 
desperate struggle as the creature writhed about. He made two swift slashes to 
the glittering appendage. In a swift flowing move he leaped up above, and 
plunged his Dagger down. The second wing fell to the ground. Satisfied that he 
had crippled the demon sufficiently, he jumped down to the arena floor.

Still the stone blocks sailed in relentless circular motion. He watched 
carefully and weaved a course between, tracking the wounded Vizier as he moved 
away. Confident now of his ability, the Prince dashed quickly up another pillar 
closest to his quarry, and slashed with the Dagger for a third assault. Now he 
hung off the tail as he gathered for the next strike, and finally a flip high 
overhead brought him sailing down, where he plunged the Dagger hard into the 
crippled body of the Vizier.

"Hah!" Zervan spat as he ascended to great height where he might lick his 
wounds.

The Prince watched in amazement as the masonry blocks whistled into the air and 
hung overhead in fixed arrangement.

The furious Vizier groaned in agony. His cries echoed as the Prince stood alone 
wondering how he might reach his enemy at such great height, where still 
wrathful bolts flared at his insolent nemesis below.

The Prince could see Farah still chained to a platform ledge high overhead. The 
Vizier seemed now content to stay out of reach and cast his inexhaustible 
supply of life-sapping missiles at regular intervals. There was no way down 
from the arena, and no Sand to recover lost strength. No other recourse than to 
meet his enemy above.

One piece of masonry was suspended quite low overhead, and with use of a double 
wall pillar the Prince scrambled onto it. From its narrow surface he looked 
quickly about and judged that his athletic prowess might enable him to reach 
other pieces one from another, and hopefully bring him within reach of the evil 
miscreant.

A bolt struck down, stunning the Prince temporarily and sending him tumbling 
off the masonry block. He recovered his footing and jumped up to it again. He 
would need all his speed and agility to ensure that he did not linger long in 
one spot and receive a more deadly blow.

He saw first that a slender piece hovered alongside, and jumped swiftly to it. 
He climbed on its thin edge and sprang off to a pole that stuck straight from 
another shattered fragment. Sensing a bolt due from the Vizier, he swung away 
to a ledge off the arena wall. Without time to collect his thoughts the Prince 
ran off around the curved surface, and rebounded to a suspended fragment more 
slender yet. It served well enough to allow a leap to a larger piece. He 
searched desperately about, and saw another large section to one side. He 
jumped for it even as a bolt shuddered towards him. Farah was close by but he 
could not reach her. He sensed her look of encouragement, urging him on in his 
quest for revenge.

Fragments above were too far out of reach, but a rounded flat piece stood lower 
ahead. He jumped to it, and away to another platform ledge on the arena wall. 
Another nimble run brought him opposite a second bar pole, though as he jumped 
to it he sensed another bolt of energy about to strike, and hopped up on top. 
Too far preoccupied to dodge it, the bolt struck him hard, but his presence of 
mind meant that it simply dislodged him to hang under, and not knock him to the 
ground far below, surely fatal at this height. He swung off to a thin edge 
before another bolt struck. From this he balanced as far as he could towards 
another platform ledge on the arena wall.

A long wall run brought him to a jump for a round platform piece, and he jumped 
quickly to others, ascending as some infernal staircase higher and higher 
towards the Vizier. Bolts came steadily to impede him, and he took the 
precaution of standing on poles where he thought he might have to take a jolt. 
They seemed to arrive at regular intervals.

He pressed on determined, and made swift progress. Finally he fell on a flat 
platform with facing edge, and an upward run let him rebound to a higher slice 
of fractured stone. There before him at last hovered the Vizier, his tortured, 
twisted form hunched in golden brilliance. A last stone stood between them, and 
the Prince jumped to it. He pulled up and finally faced the monstrous Vizier.

The city stretched to distant hills on every side. He stood higher than the 
tallest minaret atop the mighty Tower of Babylon. From gray ruins of the city 
shone at fixed intervals the sinister beams of light that ringed the Tower, 
proclaiming the stranglehold the Vizier and his cruel invaders had over 
Babylon. One man alone had the power to stop him. The Prince drew out the 
Dagger of Time. It flared as he sprang forward.

He seemed to hang for an eternity, destiny locked with that of the Vizier, the 
Dagger poised for the moment to strike. With an avenging cry, the Prince 
plunged the weapon to the bared breast of his evil enemy. It pierced his black 
heart. The wretched creature spiraled to the ground, throwing the Prince to one 
side. Masonry pieces collapsed to dust around them.

The Vizier staggered upright, the Dagger of Time lodged in his chest. The 
Prince jumped forward and drew out the mystical weapon. A rush of Sand poured 
from the mortal wound.

"This is not what the Dagger promised!" wailed the Vizier.

In a hail of noise and confusion his body was blown apart in a shattering burst 
of light.

High on a ledge overhead Farah's bonds were smashed in the explosion. She broke 
free of her chains, and jumped down.

In the streets of the city, Sand Monsters crumbled as their life force was 
sucked into the air. The freed citizens cheered at their salvation.

In glimmering trails the Sands swept to the top of the Tower. Farah and the 
Prince watched in amazement as they reformed to the ghostly figure of Kaileena, 
Empress of Time. This benign apparition hovered before them, and spoke softly.

"This world was not meant for me. But there are others, and I will find my 
place, just as you have found yours."

She held out her hands, and the Prince stepped forward to place the Dagger of 
Time into them. Her body shimmered as the Dagger was absorbed in the 
transparency of golden Sand. The Prince looked to his arm where the barbs of 
the flail fell away, leaving his body with not so much as a scar.

"Be free now, Prince, your journey is at an end."

Kaileena turned away. The Sands faded and drifted apart, and all traces were 
swirled to the winds. Farah and the Prince stood in silent awe.

A metal object jingled on the ground.

"What is it?" Farah asked.

A golden crown lay at the center of the tower floor. The Prince kneeled to see, 
reflected in its surface as he reached out. A heavy boot trod down. A sinister 
cowled figure snatched up the crown.

"All that is yours is rightfully mine," a voice hissed as the cloak fell away. 
The Dark Prince now held the crown in triumph. "And mine it will be!"

He drew back the Daggertail and lashed it to black.

-- THE MENTAL REALM -----------------------------------------------------------

The tower and its arched arena appeared fully restored, lit with an eerie 
twilight glow. Light glittered off the roofs of houses in the city below, now 
unscathed. The Prince stood armed and fully dressed. Farah was gone but he was 
not alone: standing before him was an impossible figure.

"What did you expect?" asked the Dark Prince. "That when you slew the Vizier I 
would simply disappear? Oh, but you are so blind! Your rage, your pride, your 
selfish ways... They gave me form and substance. Even with the Sands gone I 
have the strength to remain, and with the Vizier gone I can take your place and 
rule the kingdom! And there is absolutely nothing you can do about it."

The shockingly sinister being stood, arms crossed defiantly, head thrown back 
in silent laughter, then swung a fist in a gesture that the Prince should 
attack, if he dared.

There was no way down from the tower, nowhere for either of them to go, no 
escape and no reasoning. The two were bound together in this place, and here 
their fate must be decided. For everything that the Prince had suffered to this 
moment, the dark presence beside him was to blame.

The Prince felt anger rise. Goaded by the mocking figure he lashed out, and 
struck again and again, heavy blows of fury and righteous anger. The creature 
reeled, but bent as the wind and absorbed every blow.

With each angry strike, surroundings dimmed. The Dark Prince groaned under the 
attack but stood firm. He no longer had his Father's sword, but the Prince 
lashed his own weapon on the fantastical being with all the strength he could 
muster. It had no effect. As light failed completely to dark the Prince struck 
again, and the ground opened up. He was plunged suddenly into a void, arms 
flailing wildly as he fell through thin ghostly streams of flowing light that 
meshed to a web all around.

He landed on a transparent platform that pulsed with radiant light. His feet 
scrunched as if caught in some sticky substance, and each footstep raised a 
glow of light on the formless surface. All around was the infernal 
impenetrable web, hazy in constant dreamlike oscillation.

Whatever manner of place he had come to there seemed no clear direction away, 
until from the shapeless void a platform emerged floating nearby. The Prince 
jumped to its flat spiral surface and saw another platform just ahead, marked 
in a geometrical grid. He jumped to it, finding its transparent surface quite 
sound. A second lay beyond, a similarly glass-like gridded wall between. As 
the Prince ran across he noticed a figure waiting.

The Dark Prince stood silently, gesturing as before that the Prince should 
attack if he dared. There was no means of escape from the platform on which 
they stood. In frustration the Prince struck out once more. The figure 
vanished but its voice mocked him.

"With the ability to manipulate Time itself you had the chance to be the 
greatest king the world has ever known. What wars you could have fought, what 
monuments you could have erected in your honor. What women you could have 
kept."

Ghostly glimmering shapes formed from the spider's web of synaptic 
connections. Was that the Hourglass towering before him? A platform seemed to 
drift near. He landed, and another formed itself from a warp of light. A wider 
platform stood under a four-pillared canopy. Once again the Dark Prince stood 
in mocking defiance. Once again there was no means to depart; the two of them 
seemed doomed to face each other in this eerie dimension of the mind.

The Prince grasped something of the grim mechanics of the world he had come 
to. He must challenge his alter ego in order to progress. On a single blow the 
figure disappeared.

"But you failed me Prince," the voice of the Dark Prince continued. "You grew 
soft and sympathetic. My attempts to convince you to seek glory fell on deaf 
ears. So I bided my time, waiting for the proper moment to strike."

A short jetty appeared that led off his transparent platform, jutting towards 
a high-raised short length of beam. Seeing no other means to escape this 
strange world he jumped to it, and dropped to another just below. As he 
advanced across a small platform disc, he found another rise up to form a 
bridge to a far platform. There waited the Dark Prince as before.

As he leaped to cross, a blinding white flash transformed his surroundings to 
a blue-lit misty cavern. Stone pillars rose from bottomless depths, rope 
bridges strung between. Strange as it was, this place looked oddly familiar. A 
distant memory or a dream. In a canopy beyond the rope bridge in front of him 
stood what he fancied a magic fountain. He moved to reach it in slow motion.

As he jumped the surroundings changed back to the infernal web. The Dark 
Prince confronted him, arms crossed. It ranted wildly as the Prince beat it 
away. "You do not deserve what you have been given: control of the world's 
greatest empire. With the power at your command you could rule the world! You 
have squandered it, Prince. I would do it justice, and so it should be mine."

The Prince shouted to the void: "You are just a parasite. You deserve 
nothing!"

The platform on which he now stood alone spun about. Another floated to one 
side. He jumped to it and walked out on a long beam. His head swam giddily, 
and he struggled for balance, though if he lost his footing and fell to the 
void he arrived magically back at the same spot. He jumped to another squared 
platform, where his grim alter ego stood ready to answer the charge.

"But don't I? Have I not earned it? Do you think you would be here now if not 
for me? How many times did I save you, how many times did I unblock your path, 
take down your enemies, remind you of your mission? While all you did was cry 
about your father, and Kaileena, and Farah, how everything bad always happens 
to you. Boo-hoo, Prince."

"Your words are empty, have always been empty. You are just a desperate 
selfish spirit."

Another white flash, and he was tumbling through the void, arms flailing as he 
fell towards the wreck of a burning ship - his ship, once - marooned on an 
endless sea. As he plunged through the air to its deck he was back to the 
realm of floating platforms. These visions from his disturbed mind were surely 
an attempt to unsettle him, to detach him from reason and logical thought.

He ran on across floating platforms to encounter the Dark Prince again.

"If I am selfish, Prince, it is because you are. If I am ruthless and reckless 
and lacking in morals, it is because you are. I did not spin myself out of the 
ether, I was not conjured by some mad vizier. I am you."

"No. I have seen the error of my ways, and I have atoned for the 
transgressions of my past." The Prince then declared, firmly: "I am no longer 
that person."

He leaped for a circular platform down below, and found himself now on a 
similar sized platform made of solid stone, this in a castle chamber. Pillars 
ringed a tragically familiar spiral design on its floor. As he moved in slowed 
motion and leaped for it he landed back in the ethereal neverworld.

Now he climbed stairs but in a flash was at their foot again, his path in the 
opposite direction. It was impossible to keep his bearings, and there was no 
escape; he must simply keep pressing on in this world of warped dimension, and 
hope somehow to find an end to it.

He came on the Dark Prince again, framed in a cascade of globules of light 
that flowed to infinity and streamed fast at his feet on the stage. The Prince 
slashed at his tormentor.

"Seasons change, tastes change. But people? People never change, and you 
delude yourself believing otherwise," the dark being insisted. "Do not fight 
me, set down your sword. Embrace me."

It vanished again and the Prince jumped to another floating platform, and from 
that to a hollow cube that shifted dimensions as he landed on its surface. The 
plane on which he stood was too short to allow progression to his goal, a 
stage on which the Dark Prince waited once more. Confounded, the Prince 
returned to his previous perch, whereon the cube reformed to a more elongated 
shape, reaching now fully towards the platform where stood his mocking rival. 
He jumped back and ran on to the far platform. He struck the apparition as 
hard as he could.

"Do you need to kill me then?" demanded the Dark Prince. "To cut me down like 
all your other enemies? Swing that sword, Prince! Huh, we have seen how well 
that works."

A short round platform oscillated gently towards and away from a larger square 
platform. On landing safe the Prince judged a wall run against emptiness, the 
only means to reach the Dark Prince, waiting as ever on the stage beyond as 
his feet squelched towards it. In rage of endless frustration the Prince beat 
the Dark Prince with his sword.

"Such violence! Your anger serves only to feed me. So I have to ask: have you 
really changed? After all, I am still right here, standing before you."

There was bitter truth in the mocking words, a terrible truth too plain to be 
ignored. Each small victory over the spirit brought the Prince no closer to 
escape. Yet in the nightmare torment there was no other way for him; what 
other way could there be for a warrior than to fight?

He moved to a short jetty that faced a rotating beam. As it swung close he 
hopped across, and advanced to its other edge, where he was borne out towards 
a short but thankfully stationary beam. There before him stood the Dark Prince 
again. Almost wearily he sprang forward to meet it, yet in a flash of white 
light landed in a gorgeous domed chamber room with polished marble floor. Low 
carpeted risers led up to a candlelit dais laid with a soft bed under a canopy 
of translucent net. This he knew to be Farah's bedchamber, a distant memory of 
another life. Through arched windows he saw the swirling clouds of infinity, 
and knew that he was not within the palace of the Maharajah but still trapped 
in the Mental Realm. Standing between open doors ahead a figure waited for 
him. With relief he recognized lost Farah, and ran eagerly forward.

In another flash of white she was gone, but reappeared as he found himself in 
a Throne Room ringed in twisted arch columns without solid substance, the 
whirling void an impenetrable web all around.

"Prince," her voice begged, "leave this place. It reeks of sadness and cruel 
intentions. You must not chase this shadow. Turn away, wake up. I will lead 
you."

She left up stairs to bright light, yet as the Prince moved to follow the Dark 
Prince stood in his way. The Prince struck out. The spirit broke into two, 
each as the first. It gave out a burst of laughter.

"Stop please," rang an echoing taunt. "You're hurting me! Ha-ha-ha."

The Prince struck again and now there were four mocking forms, then eight, and 
more, multiplying over and over, as quickly as he cut them down.

"That worked well," the voice said. "Notice how you continue to fail?"

Was the Prince now totally mad? He brushed past the crowd of demons, 
determined to follow Farah away from this hellish place.

He saw that the chamber of pillars housed not one but two thrones. One sat 
solid and stately, one blackened and scorched. The left side and the right 
side, the dark and the light. Farah had led the way up the stairs between. The 
Prince started after.

"Yes, run away!" came a voice at his back. "Leave me here that I might finish 
my work: take what belongs to me!"

The Prince stopped. Behind him the Dark Prince seemed to multiply in form. He 
wrestled with his emotions. Every instinct told him he could not leave it to 
its intention, and he returned to try a last time to vanquish the spirit, 
whatever its purpose.

"By all means stay and fight," it declared. "I, on the other hand, have a 
kingdom to attend to."

As he struck the apparition again, it split and divided into identical form, 
again and again on each blow until he was faced with a host of cruel mocking 
demons. He hacked and slashed, whirling among them to send each to oblivion, 
yet still they multiplied, and still they mocked.

"Just a little bit longer, Prince. Are you ready to relinquish control yet?"

Farah's voice called to him. "Put the past behind you, Prince. You are a 
better man than this. End this nightmare; wake up."

The Prince stood exhausted, surrounded by mocking forms, gesturing him to 
attack. As much as he fought, combat achieved nothing. Over and over he struck 
out with the same useless result. Finally spent, the Prince came to a 
realization: this enemy could not be overcome, for it was the enemy inside 
him, product of his own tortured mind. If he fought he fought only himself, 
and there could be no victory there. The Prince turned for the stairway.

"No!" cried the voice behind him. "What are you doing?"

The Prince ran on, striving towards the light.

"Do not ignore me. Do not leave me behind..."

Lunatic laughter rang in his ears, fading to the darkness. The Prince ran on, 
and the voice diminished to a last impotent cry: "No-o-o!"

"Wake up. Wake up!"

From dazzling white a familiar face loomed over him.

"Farah?"

Her concern showed in a smile. "Are you all right?"

He was once more atop the Tower of Babylon, safe by the side of the princess.

"I think--I think it's finally over."

She laughed reassurance. Together they watched dawn break over the now 
peaceful city of Babylon. Birds flocked in clear skies.

"Prince, there's still something I don't understand. How did you really know 
my name?"

He tenderly brushed hair from her face. "Most people think time is like a 
river that flows swift and sure in one direction," he began. "But I have seen 
the face of time, and I can tell you - they are wrong!"

A young Prince runs through monsoon rainforest. He must meet a Princess.

"Time is an ocean in a storm. You may wonder who I really am, and why I say 
this. Come, and I will tell you a tale like none you have ever heard."


-- THE END --------------------------------------------------------------------



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(c) 2007 J Woodrow 

This document includes an unofficial transcript and storyline from PRINCE 
OF PERSIA: THE TWO THRONES (c) 2005 Ubisoft Entertainment. Copyright is 
claimed for original material herein and no declaration of ownership of 
previously copyrighted material is intended or should be inferred. 
Transcript may contain errors or omission and is not representative work 
of the acknowledged copyright owner. All contents are for personal and 
private use and no part of this document may be altered or amended or 
stored in a retrieval system or transmitted by any means for profit 
without the express written permission of the copyright owner.
_______________________________________________________________________________