For her birthday Stephen buys Justine a new computer game. According to its makers Duchess Doom is a game that can change your life.
Pre-Level 1: The Box
'Duchess Doom, the new computer game from Glastonbury software, stared out from the game’s box cover; a raven-haired, windswept medieval warrior, with a wicked gleam in her eye.'
Pre-level 2: Inside the Box
'The objective was, basically, to defeat as many monsters, find as many secrets and open as many doors as you could before finally reaching the end of Level 13 and saving the world from its ultimate destruction.'
Level 1: Dungeon Labyrinth
'Justine was already enthralled, wandering around the dark intricate passages, and then she heard heavy breathing.'
Level 2. Underworld Caverns
'Underworld Caverns were an annex to the Dungeon Labyrinth, they were dark and organic, contaminated water dripped down the curved and crusty walls and pools of dark water clustered around the hollow floors; the breathing of ogres could be heard, just out of sight.'
Level 3. Tunnel of Loathing
'Justine had to cling on tight to the side of the narrow grey path at the edge to avoid plunging in to the murky depths of scarlet muck.'
Level 4. Demon’s Island
'After the claustrophobic dungeon, caverns and tunnel she was finally out in the open, on Demon’s Island; a strange place with purple grass, scarlet pools and a bloated orange sun that hung low in a blackened sky.'
Level 5. Valley of Despair
'When she first entered this level it was eerily empty and quiet, a vast pale desert between high, sandy mountains and a brilliant blue sky, but as she moved in this new space she realised that it wasn’t empty, it was full of ghosts.'
Level 6. Wilderness Wood
'She took aim at the two harpies, who were swooping and snarling around the high tree branches that sparkled light from the forest canopy to its woody depths.'
Level 7. Scarlet Castle
'This seemed to Justine to be an uncomplicated level, you just had to take particular care when crossing the neatly trimmed lawns to avoid the savage topiary beasts and the acid rain fountains and defeat various garden imps and goblins, who were often sent running with a mere glimpse of the sword of truth.'
Level 8. Hall of Horror
'Justine entered the grand doors of the Scarlet Castle and found herself in a large black and white space, a vast hall with a large opulent staircase in the centre of it and a multitude of silver mirrors covering the internal walls.'
Level 9. Queen’s Chambers
'Soon the plush, sumptuous purple and gold antiques that furnished the queen’s rooms in Scarlet Castle were sparkling with good natured magic.'
Level 10. Lunatic Library
'The décor in the lunatic library was insane; books as lampshades, manuscript wallpaper, quotable carpets, shelves and shelves of blank books; blank verse and blank prose, blank pages and in the centre was an evil looking librarian, pasty faced and red eyed, quite still, quite silent, but ready to make a move...'
Level 11. Boudoir of Blood
'The boudoir was a vast room, a hideous shade of crimson, a bed of pink roses lay in the centre of it.'
Level 12. Spinning Spiral Skeletal Staircase
'The staircase looked very high and Justine guessed that climbing it would take a lot out of her.'
Level 13. Terrible Tower
'The tower was dimly lit, but glittering with various metallic contraptions, varnished wooden chairs and benches, decorated with alarming leather straps, human sized cages and huge open heavy trunks full of chains and saws.'
The Secret Level. Cloud Nine in Seventh Heaven
'Justine was in a place of grey smoke and reflected pale light, on Cloud Nine in Seventh Heaven, but there were still monsters to defeat.'