The Prologue (aka Prelude) was a chapter in the Quest for Glory: The Authorized Strategy Guide by Paula Spiese with Lori and Corey Cole.
It had been three days since the blizzard. Happily, the cold sunshine had finally turned the snow on the narrow mountain pass to a shallow mix of ice chunks and mud. A lone figure trudged through the muck, his slushy footfalls becoming heavier with each passing hour. Soon the would fall behind the peaks, and he would have to search for night shelter.
As he plodded along, he thought one more time of how he had come to be in this mess in the first place.
It was all because of that poster.
Four weeks ago, the shivering young man, whose name was Devon Aidendale, had become a proud and eager new graduate, with honors, of the Famous Adventurer's Correspondence School for Heroes, the quintessential study-at-home course for the aspiring adventure. On that same day, this particular aspiring adventurer had made his first and only visit to his town's Adventurer's Guild Hall. and read the quest board.
Devon stopped in his sticky tracks, his heavy boots making squishing sound as he sank into the road. A stretch of dense forest loomed ahead, where the weakening rays of the afternoon sun tried to penetrate the thick trees, only to wither to an opaque gloom. The thought of spending the night in there made him shudder. Spotting a large flat rock crevice set seep in the nearby mountainside, Devon gathered a meager armful of damp firewood and crawled inside for the night.
After he had built his smoky fire, he nibbled on a bit of dry bread and some winter berries he had found, and returned to his memories of the events that had led him to this spot:
Showing his crisp diploma to the skeptical guild master at the door, young Devon tenatively entered the hallowed halls of the Willowsby Adventurers' Guild Hall.
Passing through the tapestried foyer, he paused here and there to read a plaque or look at a portrait. He stepped into the main hall which was actually a huge square room with bare wood floors and a few stuffed chairs. The mounted heads of strange beasts stared down at him from the dark paneled walls. Straight ahead, on a marble pedestal, lay the great Book of Adventurers. He rushed to it. Knowing that the histories of the town's heroes past and present were kept in the book, he eagerly turned a few pages to read some of the passages.
"Keep your hands off the book!" The booming voice of the guild master came from out of nowhere, bouncing off the walls of the vast hall and echoing in Devon's head. He jumped, dropping the book hard onto its pedestal, which rocked perilously back and forth. He grabbed for it and narrowly avoided sending the whole affair crashing to the floor.
Once the book was safe, Devon twirled on his heels and prepared to make a run for the door. Then he spotted the quest board. Postponing his hasty retreat, he went to the board and looked at the lone posted notice, written in fancy script on fine parchment.
- Wanted: Hero
- No Experience Necessary.
- Visit Beautiful Spielburg,
- Fight Monsters, Defeat Brigands.
- Reward and Title "Hero of Spielburg"
- to the Succesful Applicant.
The town of Spielburg, Devon knew, stood in a valley on the other side of the mountains from his home.
His thoughts raced. In the foothills outside of Willowsby, a spattering of snowy patches still lay on the ground, but the budding trees promised that winter was over. And at this time of year, wasn't the road through the mountains usually plenty clear? He calculated that the journey from Willowsby to Spielburg would take 14 days on foot--perhaps 16 if he hit rain.
He made up his mind. He would become the Hero of Spielburg!
He rushed home. Remembering the survival lesson from his correspondence cours, he carefully gathered supplies for his trip. He told his family of the poster, and of his plan.
"But, Devon," they protested, "this has been an especially harsh winter. You should wait a few weeks before crossing the mountains."
"By then it may be too late," Devon said bravely.
By dawn the following morning, the budding hero, dressed in brand-new tunic and boots, with a heavy cloak on his shouldersand a gleaming weapon at his side, was miles away from Willowsby and the only home he had ever known.
When he reached the mountains, he soon realized his parents might have been right. The journey was slow. Often the pass was blocked by snowdrifts or by the remains of early avalanches. This forced him to choose: he could take on the backbreaking chore of digging his way through, or attempt a detour and risk becoming hopelessly lost. Still, he never considered turning back. At least not seriously.
By the end of the second week, he was foraging daily for food to supplement his rapidly diminishing rations.
At the beginning of the fourth week, the blizzard began. Perched safely in a cave high on a rocky ledge, Devon watched the snow fall outside for two days.
When the sun finally returned, he set out again, struggling more than ever to stay on course.
"Huh?" said Devon. He sat up, groaning at the stiffness that had set in during a night spent curled up on a rock. He thought he had heard something snap.
"My mind, no doubt," he said wryly.
Pushing aside smoldering embers, he crawled from the rock shelf, gathered his pack, and walked toward thick woods ahead.
Four two hours, Devon walked in the shadows of giant trees, stepping on occasional errant patches of sunlight. When at last he saw the light of open space far ahead, he ran to it, as a person lost in the desert would run to an oasis. So excited was he to feel the sun on his face that he almost missed the sign. The big, painted wooden sign nailed to the body of an ancient oak. The sign that repeated the plea for a hero, and pointed to the village in the valley below.
Mustering the last remnant of strength in his beaten body, he marched down the path toward Spielburg.