Wizard and the Princess has two prologues, one that appears on the back cover of either the manual or the box/folder, and another added to later releases that appeared inside the manual. Both prologues appear together in the Apple II and Atari 400/800 rerelease box versions. The manual version was also included in the C64 and PCJR versions (but with a different game description on the back of the box). Both prologues are intended to link together through the time traveling barbarian character known as the 'wanderer'. The story (in particular to the references in the original manual) was later expanded upon by the 2nd Edition of the King's Quest Companion.
You are a happy wanderer passing through a village in the land of Serenia when you notice a large crowd. Being a curious wanderer, you saunter over to see what is going on. From the middle of the chaos you hear a bell ringing. As you get closer, you see the town cryer with a proclamation from the King of Serenia.
"Hear Ye!" "Hear Ye!", he cries. "His Magesty King George, has just suffered a terrible loss. His fair daughter, Princess Priscilla, has been abducted by the great and dreadful wizard, Harlin, to his castle beyond the great mountains.
The crowd is now hushed, waiting ot hear more. The town cryer then shouts, "His Magesty offers half his kingdom to anybody who can bring the princess back safely." That is all he has to say, but it leaves you shaking. Not only are you a happy wanderer, but you have an adventure as well and half a kingdom is a great reward. You decide to find her. But where are the great mountains? As you look around you see no mountains. Just a vast desert that seems never to end. You ask a villager where the great mountains are located, and he points to the north and tells you, "there are a great many dangers on the way to the great mountains, and the Wizard Harlin is very powerful and bad."
You thank the villager for his information and start off to the north. As you enter the desert, you check your belongings. You are carrying a flask of water, a small knife, a loaf of bread and a blanket. Not much for such a long journey, but it would have to do, for you have no money. And so, you are on your way.......
His bearded chin rested on his fists, a forefinger pointing toward his temple.
At a glance he appeared an old man, withered and wiry. But something shone from his eyes - secrets, dark secrets, evil secrets. And he began to speak:
Spells fell to bravery and cunning, and the fair Princess Priscilla was rescued.
I called on the elements and created deserts and mountains to cross, oceans to sail and chasms to span.
But I'd underestimated the wanderer's resourcefulness. Through logic and luck, he overcame my magical obstacles.
He plotted his path meticulously, leaving no avenue unturned, no setting unexamined. He learned the passwords that magically opened paths where none existed.
I conjured up all the evil and dangerous creatures within my powers to block his way.
Still he pressed onward. His possessions were few to begin, but he learned quickly to use what he found along his way - sticks and stones, apples and crackers - to defeat my beasts of diversion.
Finally, I took shelter behind my magic. At last, I believed, the wanderer was defeated. I rested too easily. In the final hours of his search, he made his way through the corridors of my castle and solved my magical mysteries.
The princess was rescued; I was beaten.
But I do not accept defeat forever! My magical powers remain intact - just as strong, just as evil.
I can reverse the sands of time with a single spell and face a new adventure - and this time I won't lose!
Well then, my foolish friend, I offer the challenge. Should you accept, your only possessions will be a flask of water, a loaf of bread, a blanket and a knife.
Many have tried to defeat me; only one has succeeded."
"So, you accept! Well then, welcome to the beginning of your end!"
With a boisterous cackle, he faded into time, only to be replaced by a vision far more fair: the Princess Priscilla.
What the wizard Harlin warns is true - his magic is powerful and the obstacles great.
But the journey is far from impossible. I can only offer you a computer and a few words of encouragement. All else you must do on your own. Now insert your Wizard and the Princess disk into the drive and turn on the computer. Eons will slip by and you'll travel to my father's kingdom of Serenia."
- Command Wisely, My Hero
"Your computer is a steadfast companion, but it only understands simple commands of one or two words.
"Harlin unwittingly offered you good advice in spinning his tale. There are many necessary - and some dangerous - things along your path, so be watchful.
"If you see an object you think will prove useful - a ring, for example - command the computer to GET RING. If you ever decide to leave it behind, command DROP RING.
"Along the way, you may encounter others who have clues for you. Or they may only be there as a hindrence."
"If ever your computer questions you, give it a direct answer.
"You may look at what you are carrying at anytime commanding INV; a list of your possessions will appear.
"Should you ever desire to look into the past, you can review the previous 24 lines of command and description..."
- Plot Your Path or Perish
"The road to Harlin's castle is long and the path confusing. You'd be wise to mark your progress on a map. Show where you've been and what you've done along the way.
Take special care to map when you're in a maze - the bane of all adventurers. It may be a tunnel or a cave, or just a repeating scene.
Above all, try all directions. Otherwise, you'll never know what helpful object might be found or what unlikely route should be taken to rescue me.
I've enclosed a typical map for you to use."
- Magic of Your Own
"Through my captivity, I have learned a bit of wizardry myself. This I pass onto you. It's called "saving a game," and enables you to rest or come back to life if you die. Here are the three parts I've penned for you."
- A Last Bit of Advice
"I do not know the exact path to the castle. I know only that it is long and dangerous.
You may travel the same road several times before progressing further. Don't be dismayed. It is part of Harlin's evil wizardry.
You'll need passwords at certain points in the game. Watch and listen carefully to find them.
The wizard is powerful and able to change his shape and that of others. Things are not always as they appear, and there may be beauty behind ugliness and evil behind beauty.
Occasionally, you'll lose all of your possessions. But be patient and determined, and you'll get them back.
There is no more I can say, except to wish you luck and speed; Harlin cannot hide behind his evil sorcery forever, for you have become the wanderer."
Become the hearty and steadfast adventurer who rescues the fair princess from the dreadful wizard, Harlin. He has taken her to his towering castle beyond the Great Mountains. You must outwit and outmaneuver the mystical power of the wizard which has grown dark and potent through time. Begin your adventure in the small village of Serenia, but take heed, everything is not as it may appear...
Behind the scenes
Later editions of Wizard and the Princess included two prologues linked together by the character 'wanderer' who was said to be the player "you" (a barbarian according to the Companion). One prologue appears on the box (of all Apple II and Atari 400/800 versions), and the other in the manual (of the rereleases and c64 version).
The manual prologue is a story that appears in the manual of several rereleases of Wizard and the Princess including the SierraVenture rereleases (atari and c64) and the two c64 releases. The prologue covers the point for when the wanderer ("you") was sent back into time into to the desert by Harlin. The original prologue story which appeared on the back of the box of most versions of Wizard and the Princess (including the C64 version), covers the point of time from when the wanderer ended up in the desert to the point he entered the village, and hear's the king's reward.
The Atari rerelease version of the manual was expanded by two extra sections.
The 'computer' as a puppet or companion to the Wanderer appears in all versions of the manual (including the original Apple II and Adventure in Serenia versions).
The King's Quest Companion in the chapter An Encyclopedia of Daventry expands on the characters and information mentioned in the box prologue from the Apple II and Atari 400/800 versions, including the characters of the wanderer, the wizard Harlin, Priscilla, and George. George is given the name George IV. The wanderer is described to be a wandering Barbarian, who later died in the desert after turning down the king's offer, and became the bones Graham encountered in KQ5.
- Appears on the back cover of box for Apple IIr erelease and Atari 400/800 releases, and Atari 400/800 release. But is missing form other editions including C64 and PCJR versions
- It appears back of the original Apple II manual. https://archive.org/details/The_Wizard_And_The_Princess_Hi-Res_Adventure_2
- Apple II, Atari 400/800 rereleases, C64 versions, King's Quest Collection 2 and Roberta Williams Collection, version of the prologue ends here.
- These two lines were included in the Atari 400/800 rerelease version.
- this section was included in the Atari 400/800 rerelease version, a paraphrased version is included as a separate inlay card in other versions
- This section was included in the Atari rerelease version
- From the back of the box; " WIZARD AND THE PRINCESS (tm) COM 64 DISKETTE VERSION BY BOBBIT SRL 812 WARNING: This is MORE than an Arcade style endeavor. Enter the world of computer adventure. Each Sierra On-Line adventure takes several weeks to master, providing hours of fascination and intrigue. The player must use their imagination and logic to unlock the mysteries of each adventure. Map skills are a must since our adventure games contain over a hundred full-color computer-generated images which lead you in every direction. So, muster up all your wit, logic and perseverance for this is a Sierra On-Line adventure and a challenge to your ingenuity. Become the hearty and steadfast adventurer who rescues the fair princess from the dreadful wizard, Harlin. He has taken her to his towering castle beyond the Great Mountains. You must outwit and outmaneuver the mystical power of the wizard which has grown dark and potent through time. Begin your adventure in the small village of Serenia, but take heed, everything is not as it may appear... "Sets a standard by which future graphic adventures will be judged." - The Book of 1983 Software"