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The Ancestral Trail

'"When he who is the Chosen One
Shall tread upon the Ancient Path
And battle there to overcome
The Forces of Dark
Then shall the Seven be restored
And evil banished from this world"'

The Ancestral Trail is a now out-of-print partwork magazine that was originally published by Marshall Cavendish in the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand in the early nineties. It was also translated into French, German, Example:- (In German it was named "Im Reich der Urwesen"), Italian Example:- (In Italian it was named La Storia Ancestrale") and Spanish and licensed for sale worldwide. (See Covers and ISBNs below). There was also a computer game compiled in both DOS and Amiga formats.

The first partwork was issued on Wednesday December 30, 1992 and continued on a fortnightly basis for two years until December 1994. The Ancestral Trail came from an original mythological type work by South African raised author Frank Graves. Graves's manuscript was originally written as a complete trilogy (Past, Present and Future) with a large book format similar to The Lord of the Rings in mind. This work (Past and Future Only) was then later readapted by Marshall Cavendish to better suit the Marshall Cavendish's Partwork fortnightly format style and Fergus Fleming reduced the first 26 issues and Ian Probert wrote up the final 26 issues for the partwork series release.

The story tells the fantasy/sci-fi filled story of a boy called Richard, who is brought against his will to a strange land known as the Ancestral World. This original 26 part series was extended, and Richard's adventures continued into a futuristic world known as the Cyber Dimension. The television marketing advertising spend on launch in the UK alone was in the order of £1.6 million upon initial publication in 1993/94.

The Ancestral Trail was split into two halves of 26 issues each. The first half takes place in the Ancestral World and describes Richard's struggle to restore good to the world. After the initial international run, which sold over 30 million copies worldwide, Marshall Cavendish omitted the second of the trilogy and used the third part (Past and Present) being the second series that followed. This part of the series, originated and written by Ian Probert and published in 1994, takes place in the Cyber Dimension. It deals with Richard's attempts to return home. Each issue centered on an adventure against a particular adversary, and each issue ended on a cliffhanger.

The magazine series, though originally aimed at older children, achieved a cult following at the time. Due to the highly successful adaptations of high fantasy literature, such as The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia and even "Harry Potter", there have been unsubstantiated rumours of the magazine being reprinted in 2008, and a possible TV adaptation. Similar efforts, however, involving Saban during the publication's initial run materialized and a lot of extensive work at the Saban Studios followed but, owing to disagreements over the proposed filming style and between Marshall Cavendish and Saban International, the project was discontinued.

The Ancestral Trail was illustrated by Julek and Adam Heller. Computer-generated graphics were provided by Mehau Kulyk for issues #27 through #52.

Introduction to the The Ancestral Trail

Richard, on his way home, slips and falls, causing him to black out. When he wakes, he is in the Ancestral World, where he meets an old man named Golan. Golan explains to Richard that he is the prophesied "Chosen One" and that the Ancestral World is being destroyed by a being known as the "Evil One", and that he is close to winning the battle against the forces of good.

Golan is a Guardian and the Keeper of the Life Force, which is contained in the Tree of Life through seven Life Force Pods - each pod possesses a different Life Force. Six of the seven pods have been stolen, and consequently six Guardians have been captured. Only Golan's pod remains, but he is severely weakened. He sends Richard on a quest, which he must complete in twenty six days, to recover the missing Life Force pods and free the captured Guardians and their forces.

The basic expository beginnings of the story aren't featured in Part #1 of the series but in a special four-panel folder that included the first issue. When the center fold is opened, the two closed outer arms reveal the image of a dark, sinister mask against a bloody red background. This is the face of the Evil One.

Main characters

Richard (First appears in the Introductory Folder)

  • Richard is the ordinary boy who is plucked from his normal life to save the Ancestral World. He spend the entire journey wanting to return home, but as his journey progresses, he becomes something far more than when he began. The story chronicles his adventures through the Ancestral World and the Cyber Dimension filtered through his perspective. He has oddly coloured eyes. Golan explains the philosophical importance of this: Richard's green eye sees the good side of life; his grey eye sees the evil. Only Richard, therefore, can restore the balance between good and evil.

Orkan (First appears in the Introductory Folder)

  • Orkan meets Richard almost as soon as he begins his journey, crossing paths as Orkan falls back from the forces of the Evil One. He is searching for survivors of the Final Battle when he joins Richard's quest. A half-pig, half man creature he eventually becomes the Guardian of Common Beasts at the end of Richard's Ancestral World adventures.

Melek (First appears in Issue #1)

  • Before the Evil One arrived, the aged dwarf Melek of Antona was a scribe in the Ancestral City. After the Forces of Evil corrupted his world and his people, Melek fled the Ancestral City with two books that become invaluable throughout Richard's journey. One of these, the Book of Prophecies, saves the group on more than one occasion. Melek becomes Keeper of Sacred Runes and the leader of his people after the Evil One's defeat.

Golan (First appears in the Introductory Folder)

  • Golan is the ancient Leader of the Guardians and also the Guardian of Landsmen, and the only Guardian not to fall under the Evil One's influence. He summons Richard to his world and sends him on his special quest to rid the world of the Evil One. He equips Richard with a tunic that turns him invisible, and a powerful amulet, to help him on his quest. Golan remains with Richard in spirit throughout his journey through the Ancestral World and the Cyber Dimension.

The Evil One (First appears in Issue #52)

  • An all powerful evil being, whose existence or reason for his ambitions for conquest, are never explained. He has designs on both the Ancestral World and Earth, and his plane of origin, apparently, is the Cyber Dimension. Richard eventually confronts him at the end of his journey.

Robo (First appears in Issue #27)

  • Robo first encounters Richard almost as soon as he appears in the Cyber Dimension, and follows him on his journey. Unbeknownst to Richard, Robo is actually programmed by the Evil One to eliminate Richard if he succeeds in finding all the Omni Pieces. Richard has to convince him to override his own programming to survive. Robo hates Teeza from as soon as they meet and treats him with contempt from then on onwards.

Teeza (First appears in Issue #43)

  • Teeza is a marsupial/monkey-like creature called a Wigmat, who joins Richard's journey after Richard defeats a machine who eats his people. Teeza, like Robo, can also hold Omni Pieces and becomes invaluable to Richard when Robo is lost for a portion of the journey through the Cyber Dimension.

The Ancestral World (1993)-(Part One of the author's trilogy)

The first issue set in the Ancestral World begins in the Forest of Findor where he meets his second companion, Melek before a horrifying confrontation with Sumar, the mighty Moss Beast. In the Ancestral World, Richard and his companions must travel across the land, defeating the Evil One's minions, avoiding his armies, freeing the captured Guardians, finding the lost Life Force pods, and break the Evil One's influence.

Seven races - Landsmen, Insects, Reptiles, Birds, Fish, Mythical Beasts, and Common Beasts, populate the Ancestral World. A Guardian represents each of these, and these Guardians form a council that rules from the Ancestral City, at the centre of the Ancestral World. Each Guardian has a pod representing his/her life force, and these pods hang from the great Tree of Life. Each pod also represents a quality in an individual - goodness, wisdom, endurance, knowledge, valour, and justice. The person who finds absorbs that quality. Richard's mission is to recover all the pods.

The Ancestral Trail: An Epic Story of Myths, Magic and Monsters

Title Subtitle UK Publication Date Issue ISBN
The Moss Beast In The Grip of the Slime River Ghoul December 30, 1992 #1 ISBN 0-7485-4080-6
Richard and Orkan meet the scribe Melek, before an encounter with the first monster the Ancestral World throws at Richard - Sumar the Moss Beast!
Tolosh of the Garoon Mortal Danger in Enchanted Waters January 13, 1993 #2 ISBN 0-7485-4036-9
A precious pod lies at the bottom of Lake Garoon. Will Richard and his companions survive their attempts to retrieve it?
Baal the Giant Spider Caught in a Sticky Web of Evil January 27, 1993 #3 ISBN 0-7485-4037-7
The daring trio and their new ally come face to face with a monstrous spider. But there is even more danger ahead in Baal's sticky domain.
Mirra the Magician Battle of Wits in the City of Stone February 10, 1993 #4 ISBN 0-7485-4038-5
A Guardian has been turned to stone by the cunning Mirra. Can the trio outwit the evil magician to release the Guardian and escape from the City of Stone in one piece?
Boltor, Bird of Thunder Air Attack over Desert Wastes February 24, 1993 #5 ISBN 0-7485-4039-3
The hapless trio are saved by a giant bird as they spiral through the air to certain death. But can their saviour save himself from a vicious air attack by Boltor and his forces?
Cozards and Killer Bees Death Squads in the Dying Woods March 10, 1993 #6 ISBN 0-7485-4040-7
The Evil One's stormtroopers are on a search-and-destroy mission in Green Man Wood. Will our heroes manage to evade the Cozards' deadly tactics or will they have to stay put?
Zock, Cannibal Chief Trapped in the Caves of Flesh-Eating Dwarfs March 24, 1993 #7 ISBN 0-7485-4041-5
Our friends fall into the hands of greedy cannibal dwarfs and are being held deep in the caves of Kanbala. Are they destined for the pot?
Enlil's Dungeon Dicing with Death in the Bubbling Cauldron April 7, 1993 #8 ISBN 0-7485-4042-3
The three companions trick their way past vicious guards and into the heart of a bubbling volcano. Will they find it so easy to retrieve the pod and escape from the evil bat's fiery domain?
Living Death Traps Caught in the Jaws of Killer Plants April 21, 1993 #9 ISBN 0-7485-4043-1
Melek has a near escape when he attempts a daring rescue - then things hot up fast in the Dead Wood.
Zibella's Fortress Sorcery and Witchcraft in the Watery Depths May 5, 1993 #10 ISBN 0-7485-4043-1
More than one surprise lies in store for the trio when they find themselves in the magical crystal fortress of an evil sorceress.
Klaw, Servant of Evil Battling the Army of Bonemen May 19, 1993 #11 ISBN 0-7485-4195-0
Melek braves the Pit of Perils and saves the live of a dying Guardian. Then the trio are confronted by her captor and his hideous bone army.
Scorpions of the Desert Deadly Guards of the Sandy Fortress June 2, 1993 #12 ISBN 0-7485-4196-9
Fresh from the battle with Klaw's fearsome army of bonemen, our heroes face an even more terrifying foe - the squads of giant scorpions who guard Sand City. How will the trio face against creatures who have a deadly sting in their tail?
Dragora's Inner Sanctum Fight to the Death in Cobra's Keep June 16, 1993 #13 ISBN 0-7485-4197-7
A triple-headed monster guards a precious pod, deep in Cobra's Keep. How will our heroes overcome this deadly serpent of evil?
Hulkan, the Mole Monster Under Attack from the Mud Warriors June 30, 1993 #14 ISBN 0-7485-4198-5
After their near escape from Sand City our heroes are concerned by an evil mole monster and his eerie army of mud warriors. How will the trio cope with the unstoppable onslaught?
Narkum, the Fly King At the Mercy of the Fiendish Spy Master July 7, 1993 #15 ISBN 0-7485-4199-3
Seeking refuge from flying Grapfrits in the Black Forest, our brave trio come under attack again - from another flying army! Will Richard's increasing abilities help him to evade the airborne attack and find the key to the spy master's power?
Cragmar, Man of Stone A Fatal Mistake on Plunderer's Plateau July 21, 1993 #16 ISBN 0-7485-4200-0
On Plunderer's Peak the heroes pit their wits against a giant Man of Stone. Will they overcome him and rescue Zard, the fleet-footed Guardian?
Gator, Reptile Warrior Battle for Power in the Shadowy Swamps August 4, 1993 #17 ISBN 0-7485-4201-9
On the trail of a Pod in the Shadow Swamps, the trio get covered in huge blood-sucking leeches, then come face-to-face with a vicious reptile warrior.
Kronis, the Winged Lion Fight for Freedom in the Whispering Maze August 18, 1993 #18 ISBN 0-7485-4202-7
Trapped in a maze of streets on Stone Fish Island, the heroes find a Guardian tethered by Kronis' magic. How will the trio evade the evil winged lion and release the Guardian?
Nemis, Master of the Deep In the Merman's Underwater Prison September 1, 1993 #19 ISBN 0-7485-4203-5
Seeking safety aboard a deserted ship, the trio find a ghostly welcome. Then they are pulled to the sea floor where the Merman King has a nasty surprise in store for them.
Spector, Keeper of the Ice Kingdom Trapped in the Wastes of Frigoria September 15, 1993 #20 ISBN 0-7485-4204-3
After a hazardous journey over icy terrain, the travellers are captured by a hideous one-eyed monster. To escape, they must find a way to avoid his all-seeing eye!
Stridor, Lord of the Snowy Mountains Facing up to the White Death September 29, 1993 #21 ISBN 0-7485-4205-1
The trio are battered by freezing winds and blizzards as they fight their way across the Snowy Mountains. Not only must they survive these harsh extremes, but also avoid a confrontation with the lord of this dangerous domain.
Zyton and the Curse of Loktar Sinister Steps in the Chambers of Fear October 13, 1993 #22 ISBN 0-7485-4206-X
In their search for the hidden Pod, the trio are faced with a fearsome triple-headed monster and unwittingly invoke the Curse of Loktar. Can they avoid the terrible consequences and escape with their precious prize?
Dagmar, Demon of Fire Flames of Fury over Yellow Stone Peaks October 27, 1993 #23 ISBN 0-7485-4207-8
On their way to Yellow Stone Peaks, the trio are attacked by a fire-breathing monster. Will they survive the encounter, or will their efforts go up in smoke so near the final goal?
Syrus, Spirit of the Sky Devilish Dealings with a Devious Genie November 10, 1993 #24 ISBN 0-7485-4208-6
The hapless trio are cut down to size by a monstrous genie. They must find a way to break his evil spell and escape his mountain lair. Time is fast running out for the powers of good.
Fenrar, the Desert Stalker Danger and Deceit at Dead River Sands November 24, 1993 #25 ISBN 0-7485-4209-4
After a long hot trek, the trio find a refreshing welcome in the cool blue waters at Wizard's Well. The last Pod is near at hand, but danger and deception also await at this oasis.
The Evil One Fight to the Finish in the Final Battle December 8, 1993 # ISBN 0-7485-4210-8
Richard's long and arduous search for the precious pods is over, but the battle for the Ancestral City must still be won. Will the Life Force Pods be returned to the Tree of Life and the Guardians reinstated?

Issue synopsis' are from the blurbs of the actual issues.

The Guardians and the Life Force Pods

The Guardians

With the exception of Golan, all the Guardians left to fight the Evil One's forces and never returned. Richard finds each of the Guardians as he progresses through the Ancestral World. Some of the Guardians Richard releases impart him protective equipment - some of them become really useful later on in his journey. Golan equips Richard with a tunic that becomes invisible as well as an amulet with special powers, Juroot gives Richard a dagger, Kika gives him a magical belt and Tishon & Shunta give him a special oil to protect him from exposure.

Guardian name Guardian of... Weapon Held by Location Appeared
Golan, Keeper of the Life Force Landsmen Unknown N/A N/A

Intro Folder, Issue #26
Juroot, Keeper of Truth Birds a Mace Mirra Petroplis

Issue #4, #26
Kika, Keeper of Goodness Insects a Blowpipe and darts Klaw Pit of Perils Issue #11, #12, #13, #14
Zard, Keeper of Endurance Reptiles a Battleaxe Cragmar Dreadmort Cliffs

Issue #16, #17
Tuska, Keeper of Knowledge Mythical Beasts a Halbard Kronis Stone Fish Island

Issue #18
Tishon & Shunta, Twin Keepers of Justice Fish Daggers Nemis Sea of Lost Souls

Issue #19
Armor*, Keeper of Valour Common Beasts Unknown N/A N/A

N/A

*Armor is killed by the Evil One's forces before the Final Battle and is never seen in the series. Richard does, however, meet Armor's lieutenant, Broon. Armor is replaced as Guardian of the Common Beasts by Orkan in episode 26.

Life Force Pods

Each of the missing Pods must be found and kept by Richard - even if one of the Pods remains within the grasp of the Evil One's powers all of the efforts of the Forces of Good will be in vain. Therefore when Richard leaves a Pod with Baal the giant spider, he must return to retrieve it from the overgrown arachnid.

Pod name Held by Location Found
Pod of Life* Golan Tree of Life N/A
Pod of Endurance the Water-Tolosh Lake Garoon Issue #2
Pod of Goodness Enlil Enlil's Volcano Issue #8
Pod of Justice Dragora Cobra's Keep Issue #13
Pod of Valour Gator Shadow Swamps Issue #17
Pod of Knowledge Zyton Pyramid of Loktar Issue #22
Pod of Wisdom Fenrar Wizard's Well Issue #25

*This Pod was the single Pod not to have been stolen by the Forces of Evil.

Good Forces within the Ancestral World

  • Merkat (Issues #2, #3)
  • Muldoon (Issue #3)
  • Bird Forces (Issues #4, #5, #26)
  • Oganga (Issues #5, #23, #26)
  • Living Tree (Issue #6)
  • Common Beasts (Issues #8, #9)
  • Timid Cat (Issue #9)
  • Reptile Forces (Issues #13, #17)
  • Insects (Issue #15, #26)
  • Fengal (Issue #17)
  • Mythical Beasts (Issue #18)
  • Fish Forces (Issue #19)
  • Doonar (Issues #19, #20, #26)
  • Sea Mammals (Issues #20, #26)
  • Dion (Issue #23)
  • Ronek & the Landsmen (Issues #24, #25, #26)
  • Ravan (Issues #25, #26)

Bird Forces Most of Juroot's Bird Forces are trapped in stone in the city of Petropolis, and are freed by Richard alongside their leader. They seem to mainly be armoured eagles, although injured hawk-like birds are seen huddled together in the Valley of Death. Two giant winged birds - Oganga and Dion help Richard and friends at various points throughout their journey (Issues #4, #5, #23, #26)

Common Beasts Armor's Common Beasts are enslaved by the giant bats Enlil and Erna, and are set free by Richard. The leader of the beasts, Broon, thanks Richard before they leave for the Ancestral City. The Common Beasts appear to include wildebeests, leopard-men and bears. (Issues #2, #3, #8, #9, #26)

Reptile Forces Zard's lizard Reptile Forces are kept prisoner by Dragora, the three-headed snake within the Sand City. Kika leads them back to the Ancestral City, while Zard himself frees the alligators under Gator's influence and likewise, leads them back to the Ancestral City for the final battle. (Issues #13, #17, #26)

Insect Forces Kika's Insect Forces are used as the dark eyes and ears of the Forces of Evil, all transformed into black flies and reporting to the giant fly, Narkum. Upon Narkum's death, they moult back into their proper forms - dragonflies, butterflies and huge multi-coloured beetles. (Issues #15, #26)

Mythical Creatures Tuska's half-believed figments of legend are consigned to the shadows of Stone Fish Island by the winged-lion, Kronis. Some of them are amalgams of creatures known to Richard, some not. They are set loose upon Kronis' demise and return with Tuska to the Ancestral City. The winged unicorn Ravan saves Richard's group from the shapeshifting Fenrar, and brings them back to the Ancestral City in time for the Final Battle. (Issues #18, #25, #26)

Fish Forces & Sea Mammals Twin Guardians Tishon and Shunta's fish forces are held captive by the evil merman Nemis, while the sea mammals are held frozen in ice in Spector's frozen Frigoria. Doonar, the dolphin, who is also the last of the sea mammals, helps Richard and friends free the Guardians; Richard and friends actions in Frigoria melt the ice, freeing the previously entombed animals. (Issues #19, #20, #26)

Landsmen' Many of Golan's landsmen are scattered throughout the lands - Melek's dwarf people fall under the influence of Zock and become cannibals until Juroot liberates them. Ronek, leader of the Landsmen Forces, and a large number of his troops are captured by Syrus, the evil Genie within Sorcerer's Falls. Many landsmen take part in the final battle at Ancestral City. (Issues #1, #7, 24, #25, #26)

Evil Forces within the Ancestral World

It was never explicitly stated within the story whether most of the "main" villains of each issue were on the side of the Good Forces before the Evil One arrived in the Ancestral World, or whether these creatures arrived alongside the Evil One. It is most likely that the Evil One corrupted creatures native to the Ancestral World and used them to enslave their respective populations.

Evil creatures who inhabit the Ancestral World include giant versions of Earth's spiders, snakes, bats, earwigs, scorpions, vultures, winged-lions and alligators.

Regular confrontations between Richard's group are made with both Cozards and Grapfrits. Cozards are the Evil One's reptilian military, and are frequently seen on 'search and destroy' units. Orkan states of them "they are disciplined, mindless and completely ruthless". Richard runs into them on more than one occasion.

Likewise the a number of times Richard crosses path with the Grapfrits - small insect-like creatures that live in the forests of the Ancestral World. They have long proboscis-like noses which they use to drain their victim's blood - luckily they have got dreadful eyesight and are relatively easy to avoid.

There are a number of other more human-like figures within the Ancestral World - very few of these are revealed to be in line with the Evil One; some of them may simply always been evil or are more ambiguously operative. The Living Death Trap plants, similar to our Venus flytraps, may simply be feeding with no sense of good or evil; it is also unknown if these plants existed in the Ancestral World before the Evil One arrived.

  • Sumar, the Moss Beast (Issues #1, #26)
  • Grapfrits (Issues #1, #13, #14, #26)
  • Water-Tolosh (Issue #2)
  • Land-Tolosh (Issues #2, #26)
  • Baal (Issues #3, #4)
  • Lotan (Issue #3, #4)
  • Mirra (Issue #4)
  • Earwigs (Issues #4, #5, #26)
  • Boltor (Issue #5)
  • Vultures (Issues #5, #..)
  • Cozards (Issues #6, #9, #26)
  • Killer Bees (Issue #6)
  • Zock (Issues #7, #8)
  • Cannibal Dwarfs (Issues #7, #8, #26)
  • Guard Dogs (Issue #8)
  • Enlil & Erna (Issue #8)
  • Zibella (Issue #10)
  • Klaw (Issues #11, #12))
  • Skeleton Army (Issues #11, #12)
  • Scorpion Guards (Issues #12, #13, #26)
  • Dragora (Issue #13)
  • Hulkan (Issue #14)
  • Mud soldiers (Issue #14)
  • Narkum (Issue #15)
  • Fly spies (Issue #15)
  • Cragmar (Issue #16)
  • Leeches (Issue #17)
  • Gator (Issue #17)
  • Alligators (Issue #17)
  • Kronis (Issue #18)
  • Nemis (Issues #19)
  • Ghost Sailors (Issue #19, #26)
  • Spector (Issue #20)
  • Stridor (Issue #21)
  • Zyton (Issue #22)
  • Loktar (Issue #22)
  • Dagmar (Issue #23)
  • Syrus (Issue #24)
  • Fenrar (Issue #25)

Locations within the Ancestral World

  • Forest of Findor (Issue #1)
  • Lake Garoon (Issue #2)
  • Cobweb Wood (Issues #3, #4)
  • Petropolis (Issues #4, #5)
  • Valley of Death (Issue #5)
  • Green Man Wood (Issue #6)
  • Caves of Kanbala (Issues #7, #8)
  • Enlil's Dungeon (Issues #8, #9)
  • Dead Wood (Issue #9)
  • Zibella's Lair (Issues #10, #11)
  • Pit of Perils (Issue #11)
  • Sand City & Cobra's Keep (Issues #12, #13)
  • Hulkan's Heights (Issue #14)
  • Black Forest (Issues #14, #15)
  • Dreadmort Cliffs & Plunderer's Plateau/Peak* (Issues #16, #17)
  • Shadow Swamps (Issue #17)
  • Stone Fish Island (Issue #18)
  • Sea of Lost Souls (Issue #19)
  • Frigoria (Issues #19, #20)
  • Snowy Mountains* (Issue #21)
  • Forgotten City (Issue #21)
  • Valley of Fear (Issue #22)
  • Yellow Stone Peaks (Issue #23)
  • Sorcerer's Falls (Issues #24, #25)
  • Wizard's Well (Issue #25)
  • Ancestral City (Introductory Folder, Issue #26)

*Most of the place names are from the Location Recorder that was part of The Ancestral Trail RPG Game. Some of the other locations are known from both the Ancestral World map, and from the story text - these are marked with an asterisk.

Melek's Books

Book of Prophecies

Melek stole the Book of Prophecies from Ancestral City's Great Library just before it was overrun by evil. It contains numerous prophecies that predict the rise of evil and the path of The Chosen One to eradicate it. It is also believed that only The Chosen One can unravel the book's secrets completely - although Melek and Orkan infrequently make correct guesses at the riddles. The book also contains a number of spells and magical instructions which are sometimes used on the journey.

Contained within the spine of the Book of Prophecies is the Path Finder, a shimmering dagger which changes colour to show the land ahead and shimmers gold to indicate the path Richard should take - although he often does not follow its advice. The Path Finder was first shown in Issue #2 and its riddle revealed in Issue #13.

The Path Finder riddle was:

"Across Green fields, Overland you go, where Winter solstice White brings Ice and snow,
The Grey dove flies to fresher Air, and shuns the Yellow swamp of Wastes' despair,
When Blue eyes, to Water clear aspire, round campsites Orange tongues will wag in Fire,
Out of Stone, rise cities cloaked in sand, and Brown caves weave in secret, Underland,
The Silver moon shines potent magic Light, though Black skies loom in the silent dark of Night,
Golden glimmers brightest on the spear, and leads to Good, when journey's end is near".

Morbane's Book of Monsters & Magic

As described earlier, this fictional book was worked into the storyline and was carried by Melek along with the Book of Prophecies. Two cards were given away with each issue, each detailing a different myth or legend with at least one of the featured cards being used as the basis for that issue's monster or adversary.

The featured myths/legends were: Scylla, Nya Nya, Gilikango, Rusalki, Arachne, Biliku, Medusa, King Midas, Lightning Bird, the Green Knight, the Green Man, Cannibal Zim, Baba Yaga, Cerberus, the Fire Giant, the Tree of Poisons, the Lotus Eaters, Rats of Hamelin, Morgan le Fay, the Banshee, Grey Claw, Dragon's Teeth, Zombies, Isis, the Servants of the Sun, Hydra, the Feathered Serpent, Treasure Worm, Lakyan, the Furies, Nomatotlos, Golem, David and Goliath, Duku, Sebek, the Griffin, the Minotaur, the Sirens, Lorelei, Cyclops, Argus, Atlas, Big Foot, Dragons, Geryon, the Sphinx, the Chimera, the Genie of the Lamp, Beelzebub, Werewolf, Witches, Vampires and Merlin.

The Cyber Dimension (1994)-(Part Three of the author's trilogy)

Richard is pulled into the world of the Evil One before he can return home to Earth, and must survive the futuristic hell that is known as the Cyber Dimension - a metallic world where machines rule and carbon-based organisms cannot survive. The Cyber Dimension is populated by evil robots and machines who obey the Evil One. There are also peaceful, silicon-based organisms called Wigmats, who are persecuted by the evil machines.

He teams up with the seemingly friendly robot Robo, and later in the story, by cute Wigmat Teeza, and must collect seven Omni Pieces - little glowing metal shapes which, when brought together at just the right place, open doors to other dimensions. He can use the Omni Pieces to return home to Earth - however the Evil One can also use the Omni Pieces to open a gateway to Earth, leaving it ripe for his conquest...

The Ancestral Trail: Cyber Challenge in the Next Dimension

Title Subtitle UK Publication Date Issue ISBN
Tengam, Gravity Defier Clash of Metal with a Cyber Warrior December 22, 1993 #27 ISBN 0-7485-4211-6
Trapped in a terrifying time-warp, Richard faces an unforeseen danger. Are his skills and bravery enough to defeat the ruthless new foe?
Zenon, Laser Lancer In the Clutches of the Creature of Light

January 5, 1994 #28 ISBN 0-7485-4212-4
Richard and Robo encounter a foe that is composed of pure light. Can they evade the creature's deadly spears and find a way to overcome its awesome powers?
Flector, Hi-Speed Solar Cruiser Battle of Wits with an Airborne Assassin January 19, 1994 #29 ISBN 0-7485-4213-2
Richard's adventures continue as he meets an invincible adversary that is able to absorb any power. With Robo at his side, Richard also encounters the sinister Pekods.
Mortex, Molten Trail Blazer White Hot Terror in the Tunnels of Doom February 2, 1994 #30 ISBN 0-7485-4214-0
Richard is held captive underground by the sinister Pekods. Can he survive his sternest test and defeat the terrifying being of fire?
Holotron, Dynamic Deceiver Battle of Wits with a Shape Shifter February 16, 1994 #31 ISBN 0-7485-4215-9
Richard loses Robo and enters a land where nothing is real. Can he find a way to escape the clutched of the incredible shape shifter?
Husasan, Silicon Samurai Dual of Doom with an Android Warrior March 2, 1994 #32 ISBN 0-7485-4216-7
Richard battles a robotic swordsman and enters a mysterious library, containing evil from another dimension.
Terraforma, Enviromorpher Trapped in the Lair of the Land Changer March 16, 1994 #33 ISBN 0-7485-4217-5
Richard steps into a land of fire and ice to encounter an evil being with the power to transform any environment.
Toxis, Poison Predator Caught in the Grip of the Slime Creature March 30, 1994 #34 ISBN 0-7485-4218-3
With Robo at his side, Richard is forced to seek a special potion which will free an awesome creature of the deep.
Identico, Deadly Replicator Lost in the Factory of Dreams April 13, 1994 #35 ISBN 0-7485-4500-X
Fantasy turns to fear as Richard and Robo enter a world that exists inside a bubble. To continue their quest they must face the evil Identico and his Replitype hordes.
Scordef, Sinister Supervirus Hypontized by an Evil Computer Virus April 27, 1994 #36 ISBN 0-7485-4501-8
At the heart of the Cyber Dimension, Richard must repel the challenge of a deadly living computer virus.
Cronid, Micro Creature Horror of the Cyber Insects May 11, 1994 #37 ISBN 0-7485-4502-6
Richard and Robo are trapped in a microscopic world inhabited by the Petronites and their evil master.
Mescon, Menacing Multi-Form Caged by the Galactic Zoo Keeper May 25, 1994 #38 ISBN 0-7485-4503-4
Richard and Robo meet a nightmarish creature that is made from the body parts of specimens in a galactic zoo. Can they escape it's evil clutches?
Proton, Power Android Tank Battle on the Cyber Plains June 8, 1994 #39 ISBN 0-7485-4504-2
Richard gets behind the controls of a cyber tank and enters a battleground. Can he defeat a gigantic robot to locate the next Omni Piece?
Kentar, Cyber Demon Fight to the Finish in the Cyber Skies June 22, 1994 #40 ISBN 0-7485-4505-0
Richard and Robo are lost in a city of clouds. Then they are swallowed by a gigantic robot sea serpent. Is this the end of their adventures?
Continuuma, Empress of Time Kidnapped by the Controller of Time July 6, 1994 #41 ISBN 0-7485-4506-9
Richard is lost in history as he comes under attack from an evil time controller. Can he get back to the present and vanquish his foe?
Tyrannix, Robo-Dinosaur Peril in the Jungles of the Robot King July 20, 1994 #42 ISBN 0-7485-4507-7
In the midst of a blazing inferno, Richard comes under attack from pre-historic robots. Can he escape a raging forest fire and rescue Robo before it is too late?
Galaxia, Anti-Matter Alien Marooned in the Domain of Terror August 3, 1994 #43 ISBN 0-7485-4508-5
Abandoned in the Cyber Dimension, Richard meets a new friend and has to fight an evil creature powered by anti-matter. Can he survive this latest exciting adventure?
Quasar, Faceless Fiend Sieged by a Savage Super Being August 17, 1994 #44 ISBN 0-7485-4509-3
Richard finds himself trapped in a world of fractals and meets its ruler, a creature who has no form. Can he and Teeza find a way out of this strange world?
Cortix, Mind Master Duel of Minds in Computer City August 31, 1994 #45 ISBN 0-7485-4510-7
The adventures continue as Richard and Teeza meet the guardian of a computerized city. After battling the deadly Mutators, Richard is forced to fight a mind battle.
Hydron, Mercury Monster Return to the Perilous Sea of Mercury September 14, 1994 #46 ISBN 0-7485-4511-5
Richard returns to the scene of a previous adventure and once more battles the awesome Hermisites. At the bottom of the Sea of Mercury a prize awaits for him.
Mandelbiot, Fearsome Fractal Fatal Fury of the Deadly Digital Demon September 28, 1994 #47 ISBN 0-7485-4512-3
A terrible fractal disease threatens to turn Richard and his two companions into slaves. Can Richard outwit the dreadful Mandelbiot and find the antidote before it is too late?
Pixar, Particle Blaster Evil Revenge in the City of the Lost October 12, 1994 #48 ISBN 0-7485-4513-1
Richard continues his search for the last Omni Piece. But first he must defeat Pixar, possessor of on of the most fearsome weapons Richard has ever encountered.
Malachit, Evil Incinerator Plasma Attack of the Cyber Warrior October 26, 1994 #49 ISBN 0-7485-4514-X
Richard and Robo are captured by the Dark Robots and taken to a cyber arena. There, Richard is forced to fight for his very existence.
Robo, Robotic Betrayer Friend Becomes Foe in Battle to the End November 9, 1994 #50 ISBN 0-7485-4515-8
Richard finds the final Omni Piece and celebrates the end of his quest. However, before he can return home he must face the wrath of one of his closest allies.
Vileeon, Cyber Judge Trapped in the Court of the Cyber Citadel November 23, 1994 #51 ISBN 0-7485-4516-6
Richard and Robo are put on trial in a cyber court. The evil judge sentences them both to death and this time there is no escape. Is this really the end for Richard and his friend?
The Evil One Final Battle with the King of Cyber World December 7, 1994 #52 ISBN 0-7485-4517-4
The battle between light and darkness reaches its conclusion. Can Richard overcome his fiercest opponent and finally return home?

Issue synopsis' are from the blurbs of the actual issues.

The Omni Pieces

Located:

  • In The Keeper's possession (Issue #33)
  • In Scoredef's possession (Issue #36)
  • In Proton's Tower (Issue #39)
  • In Galaxia's possession (Issue #43)
  • In Quasar's possession (Issue #44)
  • In Hydron's possession (Issue #46)
  • Under Malachit's guard (Issue #50)

Richard's Cyber-vehicles

During Richard's travels throughout the Cyber Dimension, he acquires several modes of transport. In addition to the temporary flight abilities of Robo, Richard can also use: a Cybercruiser (Issues #28 - #38), Cybertank (Issue #39) and finally the Cyber Cruiser Version 3.11 (Issues #40 - #49).
More to come on this subject

Good Forces within the Cyber Dimension

Not too surprisingly, there are very few, almost no, creatures or machines on the side of Richard - almost every lifeform or artificial intelligence is out to destroy him. However, there are a few friendly faces he meets during his time in the Cyber Dimension.

  • Wigmats (Issue #44)
  • Gomm & the Tilomites (Issue #47)
  • Elitper & the Liberosans (Issue #48)

Evil & Non Aligned-Forces within the Cyber Dimension

The Cyber Dimension, and its sub-version, is the Evil One's domain - almost everything Richard encounters on his journey is an enemy. Richard, however, meets some lifeforms who are not aligned with the Evil One.

  • Tengam (Issue #27)
  • Land Leapers (Issue #27)
  • Hydronomizers (Issues #27, #28)
  • Zenon (Issue #28)
  • Hydron & Hermisites (Issues #28, #29, #46, #51)
  • Flector (Issues #29)
  • Pekods (Issues #29, #30)
  • Mortex (Issue #30)
  • Holotron (Issue #30)
  • Dakom (Issue #30, #31)
  • Husasan (Issue #32, #51)
  • Antimatter Beings (Issue #32, #33)
  • Spikers (Issue #33)
  • Terraforma (Issue #33)
  • The Keeper (Issue #33)
  • Toxis (Issue #34, #51)
  • Gargoyles (Issue #34)
  • Replitypes (Issue #35)
  • Identico (Issue #35)
  • Scoredef (Issue #36)
  • Cronid (Issue #37)
  • Land-Petromites (Issue #37)
  • Air-Petromites (Issue #37)
  • Menanger (Issue #38, #51)
  • Mescon (Issue #38)
  • Cub Cub (Issue #38)
  • Trebo Beast (Issue #38)
  • Proton (Issue #39)
  • Molos (Issue #40)
  • Kentar (Issue #40)
  • Sophrites (Issue #41)
  • Continuuma (Issue #41, #51)
  • War Robot (Issue #41)
  • Robo-Dactyl (Issue #42)
  • Tyrannix (Issue #42)
  • Ceratopian Robot (Pentaceratops?) (Issue #42)
  • Galaxia (Issue #43)
  • Quasar (Issue #44)
  • Fractites (Issue #44)
  • Cortixian creature (Issue #45)
  • Cortix (Issue #45, #51)
  • Mandelbiot (Issue #47, #51)
  • Goffal (Issue #48)
  • Pixar (Issue #48)
  • Malachit (Issue #49)
  • Dark Robots (Issues #49, #50, #51)
  • Vileeon (Issue #51)
  • The Evil One (Issue #52)

*Interestingly, Vileeon is an anagram of Evil One.

Series Extras

Not just a story spread out over 52 magazines, each issue contained numerous things to do when finished reading the main text - this included interpreting prophecies, spotting hidden sprites, playing card games, board games, and creating your own map of the Ancestral World part by part each fortnight.

The Prophecy Scroll and Robo's Binary Panel

Each adventure had a prophecy printed on the inside of the front cover which pertained to that specific issue. You could either try and work out the meaning of the prophecy from the beginning, or go back and look at it at the end of each part and work out what each line in the riddles meant afterwards. Reading the prophecy was not essential to the story, and by not reading it you did not ruin your enjoyment of the story, as in a lot of the issues the prophecy was worked into the dialogue. In some cases, it may be possible to use the prophecy to guess what will happen next after getting approximately half way through an issue.

Beginning with Issue #27, Richard's first adventure in the Cyber Dimension, the prophecy on the inside cover was replaced with Robo's Display Panel - Binary messages which were also at times worked into the story. By deciphering the code you could discover that issue's main adversaries weakness alongside Richard who also used it within the storyline for the same reason. Again, not reading the code did not impede your enjoyment of the story. A binary decoder card was given away with Issue #27.

Information Cards

The monsters from the Ancestral World were based on real legends, for example, the magician Mirra was based on Medusa. Cards featuring information and stories on various monsters were given away free with the first half, and it was a challenge to guess which the main bad guy in that story was based on. These card could be kept together within a folder given away with issue #2 entitled "Morbane's Book of Mosters & Magic", which was eventually worked into the series storyline.

The monster cards were replaced in the second half by Techscan cards, which told the reader about various scientific principles and theories, generally those which had featured in some way in the issue. The Techscan cards could also be used within the Mainframe Control game. These included such things as lasers, acids & alkalis, and magnetism.

RPG

Free Monster Might cards were given away with Issues #2 through #8 for use in RPG activities. Rules for various games were printed intermittently along the series run. These cards consisted of four suites, two for the Good Forces and two for Evil Forces and contained all of the series principle characters or groups. Each had a different score in six attributes: Good/Evil, Size, Strength, Magic, Trickery, and Weapons.

Role playing games that were featured in the Ancestral Trail were titled: The Ancestral Trail (Locator cards, tokens, six Pod and Interceptor card throughout Issues #1 - #26; Instruction booklet in Issues #15 & #16), Pod Quest (Issue #1), Advanced Pod Quest (Issue 6), Megapower (Issue #11), Random Challenge (Issue #15), Fighting Forces (Issue #20) and Battle Axe (Issue #25).

A number of games were included with the second half of the series - games such as Mainframe Control and Cyber Chess. The pieces for the games were printed at regular intervals starting in Issue #27, and were followed by a special playing board and rule booklet.

Cyber Power cards were printed in the second half, unlike in the first half which were given away on the cover, featuring characters, beings, and machines from the Cyber Dimension. Because there were almost no "good" characters in the Cyber Dimension, the cards used the following characteristics: Speed, Intelligence, Size, Weapons, Strength, and Function.

Cyber Power cards could be used to play the Monster Might games Mega Power and Fighting Force with no change to the rules or gameplay.

Visual Activities

Various tasks were included in the issues including spotting hidden artwork, such as the characters of Shoomi and Shoobi, two friendly creatures who quietly followed Richard on his quest and who could be seen around two times in every issue.

Fragments of the Evil One's mask and random other 'canon' paraphernalia were also hidden in the background art - these tasks constituted the regular 3-Minute Challenge. Each issue had a challenge, usually finding a fragment of the Mask of Evil. Other items that could be found in the artwork throughout the series were: Juroot's mace, Zock's pendant, Enlil's bat minions, the Libertas spell elements, the Path Finder, Hulkan's worm-infested mud warrior, Narkum's fly spies, Zard's battleaxe, Tuska's dagger and halberd, Nemis's trident, Spector's eye, the Seal of Loktar, and the Spell Stopper.

Life Force pods were intermittently hidden in the background artwork, as well as the names of Pods that Richard had found hidden within the text.

Shoomi and Shoobi continued to follow Richard into the Cyber Dimension and could still be seen in the artwork, as could various pieces of 1990's technology - this was called the Computer Challenge. Items that could be found throughout Richard's adventures in the Cyber Dimension were, in order: a SIMM card, a power connector, a VRAM chip, Computer mouse, a floppy disk, a SCSI cable, a VDU, a computer keyboard, a terminator plug, a desktop bus port, a bubble-jet printer, a CD-ROM, a portable scanner, a microprocessor, a network connector, an accelerator card, an internal hard disk, a computer pen, a digital camera, a hand held computer, an external hard disk, a flatbed scanner, a modem, a CD-ROM drive, and finally a complete unit. The hidden technology was pointed out and explained in the following issue.

Some of the above terms have fallen from use for example nowadays a 'hand-held computer' would be known as a Personal Digital Assistant. Interestingly, the Hard disk entry in Issue #44 has really dated itself - it states that the biggest hard drives can only contain 1.3 Gb!

The Computer View Panel appeared twice in every issue from #27 to #52. It has a special function that is not revealed until the very end of the series run. Robo reveals to Richard that he can see them, although Richard and Teeza can't. The Evil One had been using them to drain Richard's powers while he was within the Cyber Dimension - leading to the Evil One's fatal weakness.

Practical Activities

A large blank map of the Ancestral World was given away with Issue #1, which could be filled in with map 'pieces' which were given away with each issue as well. As the series progressed the map could be built up, eventually being completed by Issue #26. Putting the map together was not easy, but was well worth doing.

Competitions

"The Power of Evil" was a competition running from Issues #1 through #26 where a letter block would appear in each issue. Once re-arranged the phrase would reveal the source of the Evil One's power. The competition prize was a, at the time, top of the line Atari 1040 ST computer. Clues to solve the phrase appeared in Issues #14 and #26.

After every issue had been collected, you would have 26 letter blocks. If you then looked at each issue, you would see that the first word of the story in each issue is depicted in the style of a letter block. The first letters of all 26 issues match the 26 collected letter blocks exactly.

When you take the first letter of the story in each issue, you get the following: DNIMEHTNIYLNOSITAHWTONRAEF. When written backwards, it reveals the source of the Evil One's power: FEAR NOT WHAT IS ONLY IN THE MIND

The Cyber Dimension-era competition was to win a Sega Mega Drive bundled with a copy of the role playing game "Shining Force".

Like in the first series of issues, you had to cut out a letter blocks and re-arrange them into a phrase - a phrase that reveals the fatal flaw in the Cyber Dimension.

The second competition proved to be much harder than the first, you could not just read the first letter of each issue as it made no sense in either direction: EIOAAAEATHMNDFMNSHLLMSTRLL

To solve it, you had to put the following letters into the spaces provided:

AAAA D EE F HH I LLLL MMM NN O R SS TT

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Which translates into: THE MIND OF MAN SHALL MASTER ALL

Obviously, both competitions are closed to new entries...

References

  • Arxane Ancestral Trail/Blogspot. " " Retrieved Feb 16th, 2006.
  • BBC Entry " " Retrieved Feb 16th, 2006
  • Ancestral Trail Compnix. " " Retrieved Feb 17th, 2006
  • Ancestral Trail Yahoo! Group " " Retrieved Feb 17th, 2006
  • Ancestral Trail is discussed at The Talented Cafe Blogsite with the author.

External links

  • www.marshallcavendish.co.uk - publisher's web-site
  • See Opening Chapter
  • Ancestral Trail story and Pictures" "

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