HIDDEN ARTICLE NUMERO FIVE
(THE THALION BACKGROUND NOVELS)
by Richard Karsmakers
Like many of you probably know (if you've read some of the
Volume 5 issue of ST NEWS, that is), I have worked with the
German software company Thalion for a while - from October 1989
to April 1991, to be more precise.
In that time, I have written a number of background novels that
I would not like to withhold from you even though copyright law
might. That's why I have features some of them here, in this
I have included all background novels that I have ever written
for Thalion here, with the exception of the "Dragonflight" one
(which was almost 100 Kb and which I might feature in ST NEWS
Volume 7 Issue 2, in another hidden article).
Note to Juri: Don't tell anyone.
The background novel for The Chambers of Shaolin, written for
Thalion software, September 15th 1989.
Some of you might find the names being somewhat like those of
Hang Foy Soozooki. Well, you're right.
Hang Foy Qua looked up at the entrance doors towering high
before and above him. The icy wind coming from the mountains
seemed to pierce right through his clothes, transforming his body
into a trembling, defenceless victim of cold. He felt like his
bones were frozen, and could easily imagine that his blood was
now hardly getting transported at all as it went thicker and
thicker in his veins that seemed as though aching at the touch of
ice. Gathering courage, he knocked on the door as loud as he
could. In spite of the tremendous power still left in his body
though it had been drained by freeze and fatigue, the doors
seemed to absorb the knocks and turn them into soft sounds of
wooden whisper that could barely be heard above the sounds of the
icy gale. Despite the savage cold that seemed to gnaw at his
limbs, he started to sweat. It instantly froze on his skin.
The doors belonged to the Pagoda of Knowledge, which was
supposed to have been built many centuries ago amidst the
desolate mountains of Tibet. The legend told that the wisest men
of the world lived there; in the Pagoda of Knowledge the answers
to all questions answerable were held. Nobody knew exactly where
is was - and many of the people who knew had gone there and never
returned, paying with their life for the answer to their
questions or the granting of their wish.
Hang Foy Qua had every reason in the world to go there: His
village, a nice little town near the Japanese Sea by the name of
Queping, was being tormented by men of the Emperor. His trials to
resist them had resulted in Leia Sing, his younger sister, being
kidnapped. If he would ever resist again, they had told him, he
would get her back: In several parts.
He had set out to find the Pagoda months earlier, and was glad
he had finally succeeded in finding it.
Ages seemed to pass while he waited for someone or something to
react to his knocking; ages in which the cold seemed to gain
terrain on his body, and in which he knew more and more parts of
his limbs and body were frostbitten into numbness. Then, without
as much as a sound, the doors opened slowly. Hang Foy blinked his
eyes as warm light seemed to pour out from the entrance. In it
stood the dark silhouette of a man wearing a robe, leaning
difficultly on a thin staff.
Instinctively, Hang Foy knew: This was one of the Mandarins of
the Pagoda of Knowledge.
The Old Mandarin stood in silence, stroking his light grey
moustache which hung down along his cheeks, reaching the lower
parts of his neck. He didn't seem to be bothered by the immense
cold that had immediately enveloped his body after he had opened
the massive doors - indeed, his clothes nor his thin white hair
didn't seem even as much as to waver in the terrifying storm. His
eyes narrowed to a gaze like suspicion as he looked at the man
standing in front of him.
The Old Mandarin didn't open his mouth, nor did any sounds
arise. Yet in Hang Foy's brain he formed a simple telepathical
question: "What do you want?"
Hang Foy opened his mouth and replied: "Help."
The Old Mandarin hushed him, telepathically sending another
message: "Speech is like a man's mother in law - dispensable. Do
not speak. Think. I will receive."
While Hang Foy thought to sense what he considered to be a
telepathical chuckle, the Old Mandarin turned around and
signalled him to come in.
Since he was chilled to the very marrow of his bone, he didn't
hesitate and stumbled in. The doors mysteriously closed behind
him - nobody touching them.
The second they closed shut, they effectively kept out the cold
and he felt as though in an instant every vein in his body was
defrosted, as though even the very marrow of his bones were taken
into a warm caress. For several seconds, he experienced this
feeling he could not possibly describe.
When the peculiar feeling wore off, he felt comfortably warm. He
took off his coat.
The Old Mandarin was now a bit ahead of him, and he hastened to
catch up with him as they disappeared into a small house to the
right of the doors.
"Welcome to my humble abode," the Mandarin thought to Hang Foy
as they both sat down on the ground, "Please make yourself
comfortable and accept a bowl of my fine herbal tea."
"Thank you," Hang Foy thought back, now getting the hang of it
(and liking it). He gladly accepted the warm bowl filled with
nicely scenting herbal tea and drank it with relish.
When he had relaxed himself a bit, he felt as though the Old
Mandarin was probing his brain, as if tiny tentacles were
scanning his grey coils for good or evil intent. When he felt the
probing was done, the Old Mandarin spoke again telepathically.
"I see you're a good person. How can I be of any help to you?"
Hang Foy wondered why the Old Mandarin helped him just like that
- without even having asked in return for money, gifts, or even
his life which he would gladly have shed for the sake of Leia
The Old man seemed to sense the thoughts, and said: "Good
persons are like a warm cup of herbal tea - indispensable."
Again, Hang Foy could have sworn to sense some telepathical
"Thank you. You are too good to me," Hang Foy said.
He explained how his village was being harrassed by men of the
Emperor, and how he had tried to resist this by fighting them or
trying to outwit them in one way or another. He had been very
successful, and that was perhaps the reason why the emperor's men
had decided to get to him and had kidnapped his sister so assure
he would be silent in the future.
How they had misjudged Hang Foy! The very morning he discovered
his sister's room ravaged and her bed empty, he swore an oath to
find her and rescue her. Even if it would mean having to go to
the emperor himself and kill him, he would gladly do so if only
his sister was to be safe henceforth.
"I swear I will not be merciful to those who inflicted this harm
upon her," Hang Foy ended, "so help me Buddha!"
The Old Mandarin had listened carefully, and looked grieved at
the hearing of so much unhappiness. Especially since Hang Foy had
not spoken and only thought of everything, the Old Mandarin had
seen far more than Hang Foy could have possibly intended. He had
seen Queping lying on the shores of the Japanese Sea, Leia Sing's
face, the evil performed by the emperor's men, and many of
Queping's residents working on the Great Wall that the emperor
wanted built to protect his empire from savage invasions from the
north of the land.
From inside his robe, he took out a small gem - it seemed like
an emerald, but its green glimmer was a bright as that of a
"This is the Thoughtstone," the Old Mandarin began, "solution to
many questions we may not or cannot answer."
He held it aloft and closed his eyes. A weird kind of hum became
audible, and several moments later the Old Mandarin started to
float upward, until he seemed to hover steadily at about an arm's
length above the ground.
The Thoughtstone started to shine even more, and then dimmed
into dark green like an abyss. Before them, a picture formed
itself in the air. The Old Mandarin held his eyes closed tightly,
and sweat was forming on his brows as he appeared to be
The picture became very clear, and it appeared as though several
scenes were depicted rapidly behind each other. Hang Foy saw
himself struggling to resist a rising tide, defending a bridge
aflame, ward off enemies attacking him with sticks and axes, and
jumping on various rising and sinking poles. He saw the Forbidden
City, the Pagoda of Fear, and formidable opponents to defeat. He
saw his sister struggling for survival in deep dungeons under the
He saw all this in what may have been but half a minute. Then,
the pictures faded away into the air and the Old Mandarin gently
floated down back to the ground. The Thoughtstone assumed its
familiar shining again. But just before the Mandarin opened his
eyes again, it seemed as though someone else, someone invisible
or someone appearing in the leftover of one of the visages,
shouted something through the room in a dark and threatening
"Shao-Lin!" it cried, after which it echoed away quickly.
When the Mandarin finally opened his eyes, Hang Foy could see
they were filled with dread and fear.
"Shao-Lin," the Old Mandarin thought, "The Chambers of Shao-Lin.
Why did it have to come to this?"
Hang Foy could barely refrain from speaking aloud, or even
crying out telepathically. "What are you speaking of, Old man?
What are these Chambers of Shao-Lin?"
The Old Mandarin seemed hesitant to answer and sighed deeply.
"An old legend says," the Mandarin thought, "that the emperor
can be overthrown and all his evil reversed if someone completes
a particular hazardous quest. Nobody has done that ever, and even
all the Mandarins in this Pagoda of Knowledge know nothing more
about it than that which you have just seen in vision. All that
is known is that someone has to conquer the Chambers of Shao-Lin
and fight several fierce opponents."
He silenced for several moments that seemed like ages to Hang
"If you should complete this quest," the Mandarin continued,
"all of the world will be happy again - and your sister will
return to Queping."
Hang Foy didn't need long to think about it. Though he wasn't a
particular hero, the life of his sister Leia Sing meant
everything to him.
"I'll do it," he said aloud, "just tell me where those Chambers
might be and I'll give it my best try."
A background novel for "The Seven Gates of Jambala" for Thalion
software. Written on September 4th 1989.
A long time ago, a mystic world of Wizardry and Magic existed -
in which thinking and handling was only controlled by Power
together with the Mind. This tale tells something about this
world, and lets us meet some of its inhabitants.
A deafening silence ruled the Old Master's room. It seemed
almost palpable, and his student, Arbolan, didn't really know
whether he felt comfortable or not - whether his rather
inexplicable feelings where those of anxiety or relaxation.
"Something big is going to happen," the Old Master had said when
he had lifted Arbolan off his stool in the library earlier that
day, "and I want you to be there to witness it. Never before have
you been able to learn as much as you will be able to learn now.
The look in his tutor's eyes had been promising, and Arbolan
thought he noticed a shimmer of light he had not seen there ever
before - the way in which the old man had beckoned had also been
quite different from the times he had been beckoned earlier.
With remarkable speed, the Old Master had preceded Arbolan from
the city library to a dungeon-like room in the cellar of the
wizard's house, several miles outside the city limits. Normally,
this room used to be securely locked but now the door was ajar as
they arrived, and a deep orange light could be seen to come from
He refrained from asking questions, feeling instinctively that
they would be answered at a later time during that day anyway.
The room seemed vaulted, as though it was but the corridor to an
even more obscure room further down. Cobwebs hung down the arched
ceiling, of which some stroked along his face and the magician's
as they walked. Sounds of water dripping from the curves were
clearly audible, and the dancing shadows caused by several
flickering candles and torches made the dungeon appear ghostly.
Arbolan had seen mystic things in his career as a student of the
Old Master, and he had read about things even worse - but this
beat it all.
As his eyes grew used to the dim light, he carefully observed
the things standing in the room and hanging on its rough stone
walls. There were several shelves clung to them, on which small
pots and jars stood. Most of them were covered by thick layers of
dust, but ofttimes the labels stating the contents were still
discernible - the were jars containing lizard tails, spider eggs,
bat wings and fox eyes, whereas the pots mostly contained powders
that could cure (and, indeed, cause) various illnesses.
Largest part of the dungeon was dedicated to a black cauldron; a
large pot presumably made of iron that was on four sides
surrounded by candles that hesitantly threw their light on it.
Although Arbolan didn't see a fire or any such thing burning
under the pot, the liquid in it still seemed to be boiling. The
fumes that arose from it reminded him of his younger hangover
days, and he had some initial trouble breathing as the scent
seemed to grasp his lungs like if a spirit was trying to prevent
the foul air from ever leaving his body again.
The wizard told him to sit down and be silent. Far too near to
the cauldron, as far as Arbolan was concerned. He was beginning
to understand why the people considered wizard to be a rather
weird profession, and why the magician's house was built outside
the city limits.
"What's..." Arbolan asked, but with an obvious move of his hand
the Old Master signalled his student to remain silent and to keep
The look in the magician's eyes sent shivers down Arbolan's
spine. It was the you-know-what-happens-if-you-don't-listen-look.
And, indeed, Arbolan knew what was going to happen if he didn't
indeed keep his mouth shut and if he didn't indeed remain seated
on the small wooden stool he was placed upon - even though this
happened to be located so near to that awfully smelly kettle.
To become a wizard, one had to be a pupil at a well known
magician's for twelve years in a row. And after having
successfully gone through that, one had to take an exam, so to
say - one had to conquer the complex labyrinth of Jambala with
the cities lying in there.
Only few returned from this mysterious and seemingly dangerous
labyrinth, and none of those who had eventually returned from it
were liable to speak of it - as though a sacred oath prevented
them from doing so. Performing this task was even far beyond the
capabilities of most accomplished students, let alone for someone
like himself - who had only been tought the basics of magic in
the few years he had been tought by the Old Master.
It would mean sure death, yet there was still hope for him,
might he end up to do something that would cause the wrath of his
tutor to be unleashed upon him - which would surely make him
undertake this quest at a somewhat preliminary date: The Magic
There were ancient legends being told of this Wand. In the days
before his age - and probably even before that of the Old Master
- there was an omnipotent magician that got his considerable
power from a magic stick wrought by even older races of mankind
that were the purest incarnation of wizardry themselves.
Some way or another - not even the legends care to tell exactly
how, why and when - this race became extinct and the Magic Wand
they had created was lost for many centuries.
Around that time, a simple carpenter roamed the forests around
his native place and quite simply found it in the innards of a
cave - how the Magic Wand got there, the legend again fails to
He became Linmer the Magic One - even up to know the most
powerful wizard ever to have lived on the whole of the earth. He
was no bad wizard, and even though he by far surpassed the other
magicians in the guild, he still agreed to perform the regular
exam all wizards had to undertake. He agreed to conquer the
labyrinth and the cities of Jambala.
Even though nobody questioned his power and abilities, he was
never heard of again. He might have been the most powerful wizard
ever to have lived on the whole of the earth - but he had been so
only for a very short time.
The legend now tells that his Magic Wand, broken in seven
pieces, was scattered within the labyrinth. He who would be able
to retrieve the individual pieces and put them correctly together
to form the whole Magic Wand again, would be given unimaginable
powers - powers that would greatly enlarge his chances of
surviving, and indeed leaving the labyrinth. Only with the help
of the Magic Wand, a relatively inexperienced student like
Arbolan would be able to successfully complete the task in the
more than likely event that the Old Master would cast him in the
labyrinth on the aforemeant preliminary date.
For Arbolan knew himself. He was always eager to learn, but also
eager to talk and intervene. More than once, he had imperilled
his life and that of his tutor by striving to 'improve' spells or
potions; and last time the Old Master had told him that "next
time.....you'll know what happens!"
The decisive look in the old man's eyes was unmistakable. This
was no bluff. The old man meant it. Every hair of his long grey
beard radiated with anger; every square millimetre of his pupils
radiated with anger. His skin had become very red.
He had meant it, all right.
Arbolan knew himself, and therefore he aimed to be very careful
- especially today, now "something big was going to happen". He
was also kind of inquisitive to what his tutor referred to as
'big'. He had never called changing lead into gold 'big', and not
even turning frogs into beautiful fair-haired princesses and
worthy courageous princes (this varied according to their
Arbolan watched carefully as the Old Master took some
ingredients off the shelves and cast them all in the fluid that
was zealously boiling in the cauldron. The fumes became instantly
dark, yet seemed to vanish quicker now. Arbolan now saw that they
were sucked into an exhaust pipe located at the far end of the
vaulted chamber. The horrible scent also seemed to lift, and with
relief the young pupil breathed the fresher air deep in his
lungs. At least, he needn't be afraid of fainting now anymore.
He stood up from his small wooden stool, trying to get a better
look of what the Old Master was doing, who had now taken a big
book with faded yellow and light brown pages clad with dust and
written on in a kind of writing Arbolan only recognised a few
basic words of.
The old wizard didn't actually read them; his eyes were closed
as if meditating, deep in thought. Arbolan leaned over and got a
clear look of the page. Some of the words he recognised concerned
'cauldrons', 'potions', 'ingredients' and 'dust'. Though, of
course, this didn't clarify much even to a student of the
mysterious science of magic.
The Old Master opened his eyes now and turned over a few pages.
Dust fell off the paper, that seemed to be brittle and ancient.
Arbolan for a moment had to take care not to sneeze - doing that
would probably cause the book to evaporate into thousands of
little fragments that even the Old Master's magic would not be
able to put back together again.
Lucky for the young student, he succeeded in withdrawing the
urge. He was quite considerably relieved at that - since sneezing
had no doubt made sure he would have ended up in the labyrinth of
Jambala before he would have been able to say "Arfle Barfle
He sat back, and transferred his weight to a sturdy-looking
wooden lever on the wall.
Which he probably should better not have done, for in spite of
its rusted hinged and sturdy looks, it gave way with quite a
remarkable ease that stunned him witless.
Neither Arbolan nor the Old Master could tell precisely what
happened then, as the vaulted room was instantaneously transmuted
into something that was a black as anything could possibly be
black - in purest and deepest darkness imaginable. It was as if
the candles and torches had all gone out in that same instant
without any obvious cause - which they probably had.
He could sense nothing except for cursing in some ancient tongue
in which he only now and again recognised his own name. The
cursing grew dim and distant as Arbolan lost consciousness.
Arbolan awoke after what seemed to him like seconds later - but
which could easily have been minutes, hours, or even days. The
angry words of his old tutor, even though he had not been able to
understand any of them, echoed literally through his head as he
regained full consciousness again.
After the dark veil had seemed to dissolve itself before his
eyes, the only thing he could become aware of was a thick wall
before him - not unlike the walls of his tutor's dungeon he had
been in, but even older and more grey. In that wall was a small
door with iron ornaments on it. It opened - autonomous, to it
seemed, and next thing he felt was that he was being sucked into
whatever was behind its dark opening by powers unknown to him.
Even before he truly knew what had happened, he was on the other
side of the old grey wall. The door had closed behind him.
Although Arbolan didn't quite know what had happened to him, he
kind of guessed what had become of him, and how people generally
named the place he was in now...
THE SEVEN GATES OF JAMBALA
The background novel for a game of Thalion software called "A
Prehistoric Tale". Although the actual game was to be released
more than a year later, this novel was written in December 1989
When he regained consciousness, the Timetraveller shook his head
and moaned. He immediately felt a mindsmashing headache,
throbbing through his head as if it wanted the very bones of his
skull to burst at every single heart's beat. He once more swore
never ever to do it again.
As his senses focused on the sights and sounds around him, he
noticed that he was indeed teleported (and even warped) to the
era he was supposed to be teleported (and indeed warped) to: The
Jurassic era, a massive 150 million years ago - there were ferns
as high as three-storey flats, and all kinds of flowers that were
to die out at the end of the Cretaceous era, about 65 million
So this was where the Interstellar Palaeobiological Regeneration
Associations wanted him to work for some time to come.
The Timetraveller shook his head again, and blinked his eyes.
There was also a rather enormous specimen of extinct reptile
standing directly in front of him, but this he did not notice
until it opened its fangs and the sun reflected on some
terrifying rows of flashy white teeth - with spots of bloody red
on them as well, so the Timetraveller was somewhat startled to
A large piece of dripping wet meat - presumably its tongue - was
licking them in what could only be described as quite a menacing
The Timetraveller was about to swear that he would never do it
again when the rather enormous specimen of extinct reptile
(further to be referred to as Allosaurus) decided it had seen
enough of this pathetic human and knew only one way to rid itself
of such a minor irritation: Eating it.
A rather tasteless word that had something to do with used food
passed the Timetraveller's lips as he noticed the obviously foul
intent of the giant reptile.
The Timetraveller immediately grasped that it was of no avail to
try and convince Mr. Hungry Allosaurus of the disgusting taste of
his flesh. He pushed a couple of buttons on his portable time
"See you in ten minutes' time!" he said before pressing a purple
button labelled 'red'.
Ten minutes later.
The Timetraveller noticed that his headache had virtually
vanished when he opened his eyes again, a mere second after
pressing the purple button labelled 'red'.
He saw the world what it looked like 150 million years minus 10
minutes ago, and had to admit that it hadn't particularly
improved much to his liking.
But, just like he had hoped, the enormous specimen of extinct
reptile (sometimes also referred to as 'Allosaurus') had decided
not to think long about the mysterious vanishing that had just
taken place and had wandered off again.
A positively deafening sound of what could not be interpreted
for anything else rather than some mega-amplified and giga-
boosted earthquake sounds roared through the trees, and Cronos'
attention was instantly drawn to an enormous specimen of extinct
reptile (sometimes also referred to as 'Allosaurus') that was
experiencing some quite violent spasms behind a couple of ferns.
It was balancing at the edge of a gap in the ground that had
definitely not been there a mere 10 minutes ago.
And it was getting bigger as mere more seconds passed. He
blinked his eyes in disbelief. Was his job that urgent?
The somewhat outdated specimen of extinct reptile (which is
indeed sometimes also referred to as 'Allosaurus') disappeared
into the gap, making some awesome sounds of terror.
The sound of the mega-amplified and giga-boosted earthquake all
of a sudden ceased, and the Timetraveller was even more than a
bit shocked to notice that the Allosaurus had truly vanished (and
The seismic activity in this region was surely not to be fooled
with - the guys at the Interstellar Palaeobiological Regeneration
Association were just in the nick of time to send him over to
teleport these dinosaurs to a safer place. And if he didn't do
something really soon, the dinosaurs would all die out...even
before these giant animals would have had the decency to take
care of some more or less intelligent mammalian offspring from
which men would eventually evolve!
He felt his strength already growing slightly weaker...
Background story for "Wings of Death". Written June 1990.
As the dust cleared around him, Sagyr felt something like
trepidation grow on him. He was startled when he sensed this;
what had become of the fearless sorcerer he has always been?
Nearly all light seemed to have been cut off from its source,
and his castle dining room was now enveloped in a dark grey that
almost neared black. He felt instinctively that Xandrilia, the
Wicked Witch of the West, had now disappeared from the spot where
she had been up to the moment that all this dust and flashes of
fire had occurred.
What had she done? Had he beaten her or scared her off, or had
she done something horrible to him that he was yet to discoverer?
He sharpened his ears, but all he could hear was a slightly
regular appearance of a quite unintelligibly high sound that he
hadn't heard during his entire existence.
The high sounds became more regular, urging Sagyr to halt
instinctively. Before him, some of the scarce light illuminated
something that surely seemed like nothing else but a mirror.
Sagyr went nearer.
The mirror was soiled by the dust, but what he could distinguish
in the image nonetheless made the very blood freeze in his veins.
He saw a bat - indeed, one of those black flying things with
razor sharp white teeth, enormously large ears, infeasibly
effective sonar-aided hearing and an instinctive craving for
fresh red fluid out of virgin's necks.
So that was where the unintelligibly high sounds had come from.
A curse rolled off his tongue.
Why had he been so stupid as to assume that he could face
Xandrilia? Since times long gone by, she had always been jealous
of his immense wealth and sheer magical power - and she had more
than once sworn to bereave him of it.
So when she had asked admittance to his castle earlier that
morning, he had considered himself powerful enough to withstand
whatever would happen - and he had lowered the drawbridge.
He should never have done that.
Once she got in, she had not only done some rather aggressive
interior redecorating, but she had also changed him into a
He wondered how he could ever get back his human shape again,
only to be interfered in his thoughts by lots of unintelligibly
There was no way he was ever going to find the right spell in
his many books - even if he could find and open the right book,
it was to be doubted if his bad sight would help him out. And his
infeasibly effective sonar-aided hearing would probably not help
much in that department, either.
So there was no other choice but to find back Xandrilia and
force the spell out of her - which would be pretty tough given
his current state of power.
But, as counsel usually comes with time, he decided to head for
Xandrilia's bewitched empire. Chances were big that he would run
into some kind of spell or another; maybe it would not change him
back into his old human shape again, but it would surely assist
him to be more powerful in the end - when he would have to beat
Xandrilia for once and for all.
His wings bore him to a door that was standing ajar, revealing
the bewitched rooms of his own castle.
His road to victory would not be easy, but at least he had his
Wings of Death.
Background novel for the game "Enchanted Land". Written June
1990. Nic (programmer of the game and member of TCB) deserves
credit for the name of the protagonist.
The sun set over Damiran in a haze of pink and purple. It cast
an eldritch gleam on the lengthening shadows of the forest,
seeming to envelop the land in something that could only contain
peace and harmony.
This may once upon a time have been true, but even long before
the memories of the most ancient elders begun it had been
enchanted by an Evil Power of formidably dimensions - at that
time, peace and harmony had probably altogether disappeared from
the land like a Troll would from the sun.
Ever since that time, now and again a Damiranian would escape to
the neighbouring countries, bringing with him wild tales and ill
tidings of Evil, Black Magic and Chaos; tales of an Evil Sorcerer
- who had destroyed the land's Heart of Lore.
Old scriptures spoke of Damiran's Heart of Lore as its main
source of prosperity, law and order. It had kept ill away from
the land, and had indeed been of major influence on the well-
being of all the people who had dwelled there. Damiran's monarchs
of old had thus cherished this Heart as if it had been an
invaluable treasure - which indeed it had.
Yet in Lumthorn, a forest on one of the outer edges of the land,
a sorcerer called Plogthor had lived who wasn't content with
anything. He had noticed that people didn't come to him any more
when they had needed something magical do be done - they had
rather visited the king who wielded the Heart of Lore instead. In
his forest hut, he had concocted evil plans and dark potions that
he wanted to use to render Damiran's Heart of Lore useless
It had been a dark day in the history of Damiran when the
sorcerer arrived at the gates of Traskor, the land's capital.
Behind him, a large box wrapped in black had floated on what must
have been an invisible field of power. A sense of doom had
radiated from his eyes when he had ordered the guards to escort
him to the King's castle.
The inhabitants of the city had looked at Plogthor with awe as
he strode by, wearing his ominous dark blue robe. They had
whispered among each other, not even daring to point at this
mysterious black box.
When the sorcerer and his escort had arrived at the castle, the
drawbridge had been lowered - upon which Plogthor, followed by
his mysterious floating box, had entered.
That night, a huge explosion had shuddered the city of Traskor.
Fire had burst forth from the King's castle and had viciously
hurled bolts of white lightning into the night sky which it had
seemed to tear apart in a tremendously huge cacophony of
thunderous roars and blackest of fumes.
Nobody had known much of what had happened that dark night, but
it had been the start of a bad epoch for Damiran. The Heart of
Lore, so it turned out later, had been destroyed and its magical
potency had diffused over all the land in countless fragments,
impossible ever to regain and assemble back into what had once
been Damiran's main source of prosperity, law and order.
Or had it?
The most ancient of elders had looked ghostly in the light of
the candles and the odd torch that had shone upon the lined image
of his face. An eerie silence had filled the room as he had
opened his eyes and had prepared to speak.
"We are gathered here tonight to send forth a mission of help,"
he had spoken with a voice that had seemed to be worn with
centuries of sorrow and grief, "a mission of help to our
neighbour country, Damiran."
He had looked around him, and his gaze had settled on an older
wizard by the name of Kurgan.
As if he had sensed the gaze, Kurgan had looked up without
speaking, swallowing something.
The most ancient of elders had continued: "Too many people
suffer the acid reign of Plogthor, known to us as the Despiser,
and it is our sworn duty to help the Damiranians to get rid of
the yoke which now rests heavy upon their writhing shoulders."
A low mutter of agreement passed through the ranks of the other
elders present in the room.
"I have selected Kurgan, our wisest and most experienced wizard,
to attempt the Quest of trying to regain the parts of Damiran's
Heart of Lore. Only the Gods know if he will succeed in
fulfilling this formidable task. Only he can bend the fate of
Kurgan had looked up, proud of the fact that the most ancient of
elders had considered him worthy of this mission.
And now the time had come.
He looked at the setting sun and felt a peculiar kind of nausea
shatter a feeling of what might have been joy at the beholding of
such a beautiful sight.
For a moment, he hesitated.
Without looking back, he crossed the border to THE ENCHANTED
The background novel for a Thalion game (a simulation) called
"Australian Pioneers". Written end of January 1991. The end of it
is really serious, this because it is actually a simulation that
cannot all be witty and stuff (you know).
700 - somewhere off the east coast of a vast, unknown continent.
"Land ahead! Land ahead!"
The wind blew firmly through captain Torbj¢rn's hair when he
went on deck to see what the shipmate's yelling was all about.
The mere concept of land at this location was, to say the least,
improbable. He looked rather impressive with his horned helmet,
especially against the sun that was setting in the distance.
"Leave it be," he commanded, "looks too deserted. No women to
rape or towns to plunder. These reefs also look a bit too dodgy
to try. Head due east!"
1557 - somewhere very, very far off the aforementioned
continent, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
"But, sir...Captain Drake, sir...aren't we supposed to..."
"Shut up, nonworthy excuse for a sailor, or I'll have you
beheaded," the captain growled, "I don't care what the English
government told me to do, you hear?"
"But they told us to try and contact the natives of Terra
Incognita Australis, sir" the sailor ventured again, "we
shouldn't rob those Spanish ships filled with Peruvian treasures
Obviously, this particular sailor didn't value his head much.
A couple of seconds later, after the captain had moved his sword
swiftly and suddenly, it fell off.
1605 - somewhere in utter darkness, quite horribly close to the
coast of a vast, virtually unknown continent.
CRASH (horrible sound of ship running into something).
"What, in the name of our Lord, was that?" a voice swore in
"Erm....well....er....land, sir," answered another voice, high
up in the crow's nest, sounding as if its owner was barely awake
- or, indeed, barely asleep.
The first voice, that turned out to belong to the ship's captain
by the name of Janszoon, swore once again.
Thus, Australia was officially discovered.
1783 - in a prison director's office, somewhere in England.
"Things are getting out of hand, sir!"
It was the concerned voice of a prison warden that had spoken
"You are right," the prison director replied, "our capacity is
getting too small."
"We could," the warden proposed, "write a letter to the
government or something."
"Hmm. I guess we could do that," the director now spoke, "as a
matter of fact, I will write one immediately."
1788 - deep down in a ship heading for the coast of a vast,
largely unknown continent that had in the mean time been named
"Bummer," someone said.
"Whaddayasay?" someone else replied.
"Bummer!" the first repeated.
"Yeah, you're surely right there," the other said, "never
thought they was gonna send me off to some Godforsaken continent
only because I stole a loaf of bread."
"Well, at least you stole something," the first said, agitated,
"but I am innocent!"
"Sure," the other said in a peculiar way, "sure."
It had more or less been a coincidence that caused the start of
the colonisation of Australia.
After the discovery of America, English criminals no longer
served their sentence in their home land; instead, they were sent
to this newly discovered continent.
When the American colonies became independent in 1776, it was no
longer possible to send the convicts there. At that time,
explorers like Cook and Banks had discovered the fertile eastern
coasts of Australia, which surely looked very much like the ideal
location to replace America with respect to the problem that had
but recently arisen regarding these delinquents.
On January 18th 1788, the first prisoner ship arrived in
Australia. Apart from 717 convicts (amongst which were 188
women), it brought 191 sailors and 18 civil servants.
These founded the city of Sydney.
Life was harsh; there were no known natural resources, and
everybody dependended entirely on convoys from London. As England
happened to be primarily occupied by its wars with France, sea
voyages were dangerous and thus few. Each year, up to 3000 new
convicts were to be sent to this new prison colony, that were put
to work under military supervision.
Once the convicts had served their sentence, they got appointed
small parts of land. As they lacked any experience, however, this
plunged them deep into poverty and misery.
Only later, the first governor of what then became an official
colony introduced more humane legislation. He also built
churches, schools, roads and bridges. The most important thing he
did, however, was discovering the fact that the Australian soil
may not have been right for agriculture, but was of excellent
quality for cattle breeding. Especially Merino sheep could be
bred excellently, thus fulfilling the enormous demand in England
for this fine quality wool, that would eventually lead to
Australia producing one third of the total world's wool
This new wealth now attracted more colonists towards Australia -
but now ones without a prison record. In 1813, colonists
conquered the Blue Mountains, thus discovering huge grass lands
behind them. The government encouraged this form of colonisation;
free colonists got assigned a piece of land as well as a number
of prisoners that had to work for them.
New South Wales soon became an enormous cattle breeding area
that was in the hands of a couple of farmers that owned enormous
herds. After the civilian goverment was installed, in 1823, these
farmers became know as the 'squatters', who eventually colonised
the area that was later to be called Queensland.
In that time, Australia actually primarily produced wool. All
major cities at its coast were occupied exporting this wool, and
importing industrial products.
In 1850, gold was found to the south of Sydney. This caused many
people to be infected by gold fever, and this gold rush made sure
that the number of people that came to Australia increased
quickly. Coal, lead, silver and zinc were later found there, too,
whereas other sources in South Australia and Victoria were
discovered to have supplies of uranium, copper, iron and tin.
Agriculture started to bloom later as well, especially after big
stretches of land could be irrigated. The dryer areas are used to
grow wheat, wheras the others are also used for oat, corn and
barley (the latter primarily for beer breweries).
The introductory novel for a Thalion game called "Ghost Battle".
Written February 13th 1991.
Two eyes peered at the mercenary annex hired barbarian. They
were red in a frightening kind of way, and he had no reason
whatsoever to like that. Nor, as a matter of fact, did he have
any reason at all to like the entire setting he was in.
It was depressingly dark and he was in the middle of an
enormous kind of wood. Eerie sounds found ways of echoeing
through this wood, and now and again red or green or purple eyes
would stare at him conspiciously as if waiting for an opportunity
The worst thing of all was that he had left all his killer
gadgets at home. So he didn't have his trustworthy longsword with
him, nor his double bladed battle axe. Hell, he didn't even have
a common knife of some sort on him.
All he had was a book. It was called "Novice Sorcery" by Egidius
Leonardo Vira, and on its cover it had a picture of a scarsely
dressed female that somehow looked disproportionate to him.
"This book", so its previous owner had confided in him before he
had shelled out a large amount of gold, "is all one needs to get
through any precarious situation relatively unscathed".
He had been totally thrilled. He had been extremely excited. He
had also wondered what 'sorcery' actually meant.
While walking through this wood, he had deemed the time fit to
leaf through this miraculous new acquisition of his. In the end,
he reckoned this might leave him with something to defend himself
should any of the ominous owners of those conspiciously staring
red or green or purple eyes should decide to strike.
He quickly leafed through to a chapter that sounded interesting
"CHAPTER XVIII," he read aloud to himself, "Enchantment of
This was the part where, should this have been in a movie, the
soundtrack suddenly starts to go weird, trying to indicate the
beholder that something is about to happen that may succeed in
getting his pants wet.
As the mercenary annex hired barbarian walked on while
laboriously studying the book, one of the many pairs of red eyes
that had in the mean time appeared got quite awfully much closer,
looming up as it were behind him in a positively menacing
It was not before a deep and meaningful growl was uttered by the
owner of this particular pair of conspiciously staring eyes that
our hero noticed anything.
He looked around and stood face to face with what can not be
described to be anything else rather than a particularly nasty
kind of monster, that had probably also been the ugly duck of its
A very big duck, that is, for it towered above him to at least
twice his height.
"Hmm, interesting," was the first thing to enter the mind of the
mercenary annex hired barbarian, thereby taking up all place for
itself. It was quickly fighting for cranial dominance, however,
with thoughts along the lines of "Oh", "Oh dear", "Crikey" and
"Is that my mother calling?"
Eventually, one thought managed to remain locked in the
barbarian's miserable excuse for brain cells: "Hmmm. Maybe the
book explains how to deal with 'Big, Strikingly Ugly Ducks That
Unexpectedly Loom Up Behind You'."
He quickly turned to the next page. He was significantly
relieved to notice that it beamed towards him with 'Dealing with
Big, Strikingly Ugly Ducks That Unexpectedly Loom Up Behind You'
written at its top in big, bold, capital, underlined letters.
This discovery cheered him up for a short while - in fact it
cheered him up until the precise instant on which the monstrous
duck started to breathe directly in his face, instantly drawing
his attention back to the severity of the situation at hand.
A satisfied grin formed itself around the bill of the big duck.
It feels nice to be appreciated, even when you're fourteen foot
tall and very, very ugly.
It growled again, just to make its point.
The barbarian quickly scanned through the page. It was
conveniently divided in paragraphs, each written with another
specific kind of weapon in thought. He skipped the ones headed
'Longsword', 'Double bladed axe', 'Lord of the Rings One-Volume
Edition' and some others, quickly reading the one headed 'None of
any kind whatsoever'.
"In case thou dost not haveth any weapon at thy disposal," that
particular paragraph considered proper to mention, "resorteth to
Swell. That was just great. Just great.
And the monster was getting impatient, too.
It growled again, somewhat louder this time.
Resort to magic? That would pose a serious lack of ability to
get out of this situation relatively unscathed, for he had
utterly and totally flunked all subjects in school that had the
tendency of even being distantly related to magic.
The monster licked its huge, frightfully yellow bill in quite a
revolting way. It was going to end the life of this pitiable
human. Even according to the Monster & Violence Convention, it
had given its victim more than the lawfully required time that
was considered to be sufficient for the the victim to employ some
serious reaction - be it aggressive or defensive.
The barbarian thought hard. Something of all those lessons in
magic must still be present somewhere. Scattered bits of memories
flung themselves at him, until finally he had been able to
retrieve a long forgotten spell from a dusty drawer somewhere in
"En nu ben je dood!" he yelled with all the power he could
manage, nearly finishing off his vocal chords.
A strange kind of light was emitted from the barbarian's being.
This gently transformed itself into something like fireworks, but
bigger and more powerful, of which the flames mercilessly sped
towards the vile creature.
Before it had time to protest against the fact that magic was
not allowed in a fair fight according to the Monsters & Violence
Convention, it was totally incinerated.
"It's a kind of magic," the barbarian whispered softly in a way
that betrayed his Scottish ancestry.
Having completely regained his self confidence now he had
remembered this powerful spell, he briskly walked on through the
forest, merrily singing a tune about a poor lonesome barbarian
far away from home.
That's all, folx. More to come in the next issue of ST NEWS
(maybe). I will by then also have contacted Eclipse's Marc
Rosocha to get permission for the publication of the Eclipse
background stories I wrote ("Monster Business" and "Wings of
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.