You are Grand Master Lone Wolf, last of the Kai Lords of Sommerlund and sole survivor of a massacre that wiped out the First Order of your élite warrior caste.
It is the year MS 5075 and twenty-five years have passed since your brave kinsmen perished at the hands of the Darklords of Helgedad. These champions of evil, who were sent forth by Naar, the King of the Darkness, to destroy the fertile world of Magnamund, have themselves since been destroyed. You vowed to avenge the murder of the Kai and you kept your pledge, for it was you who brought about their downfall when alone you infiltrated their foul domain—the Darklands—and caused the destruction of their leader, Archlord Gnaag, and the core of their cancerous power that was the infernal city of Helgedad.
In the wake of their destruction, chaos befell the Darkland armies who, until then, had been poised to conquer all of Northern Magnamund. Some factions which were part of this huge army, most notably the barbaric Drakkarim, began to fight with the others for control. This disorder quickly escalated into an all-out civil war, which allowed the Freeland armies of Magnamund time in which to recover and launch a counter-offensive. Skilfully their commanders exploited the chaos and secured a swift and total victory over an enemy far superior in numbers.
For five years now peace has reigned in Sommerlund. Under your direction, the once-ruined Monastery of the Kai has been thoroughly rebuilt and restored to its former glory, and you have begun the task of training a Second Order of Kai warriors so that the skills and proud traditions of your ancestors will be carried forward in the centuries to come. The new generation of Kai recruits, all of whom were born during the era of war against the Darklords, possess latent Kai skills and show exceptional promise. These skills will be nurtured and honed to perfection during their time at the monastery so that they may teach and inspire future generations, thereby ensuring the continued security of your homeland in future years.
Your attainment of the rank of Kai Grand Master brought with it great rewards. Some, such as the restoration of the Kai and the undying gratitude of your fellow Sommlending, could have been anticipated. Yet there have also been rewards which you could not possibly have foreseen. The discovery that within you lay the potential to develop Kai Disciplines beyond those of the Magnakai, which, until now, were thought to be the ultimate that a Kai Master could aspire to, was truly a revelation. Your discovery has inspired you to set out upon a new and previously unknown path in search of the wisdom and power that no Kai Lord before you has ever possessed. In the name of your creator, the God Kai, and for the greater glory of Sommerlund and the Goddess Ishir, you have vowed to reach the very pinnacle of Kai perfection—to attain all of the Grand Master Disciplines and become the first Kai Supreme Master.
With diligence and determination you set about the restoration of the Kai Monastery and organized the training of the Second Order recruits. Your efforts were soon rewarded and, within the space of two short years, the first raw recruits had graduated to become a cadre of gifted Kai Masters who, in turn, were able to commence the teaching of their skills to subsequent intakes of Kai novices. Readily the Kai Masters rose to their newfound responsibilities, leaving you free to devote more of your time to the pursuit and perfection of the Grand Master Disciplines. During this period you also received expert tutelage in the ways of magic from two of your most trusted friends and advisors: Guildmaster Banedon, leader of the Brotherhood of the Crystal Star, and Lord Rimoah, speaker for the High Council of the Elder Magi.
In the deepest subterranean level of the monastery, one hundred feet below the Tower of the Sun, you ordered the excavation and construction of a special vault. In this magnificent chamber wrought of granite and gold, you placed the seven Lorestones of Nyxator, the gems of Kai power that you had recovered during your quest for the Magnakai. It was here, bathed in the golden light of those radiant gems, that you spent countless hours in pursuit of perfection. Sometimes alone, sometimes in the company of your two able advisors—Banedon and Rimoah—you worked hard to develop your innate Grand Master Disciplines and grasp the fundamental secrets of Left-handed and Old Kingdom magic. During this time you noticed many remarkable changes taking place within your body: you became physically and mentally stronger, your five primary senses sharpened beyond all that you had experienced before, and, perhaps most remarkably, your body began to age at a much slower rate. Now, for every five years that elapse you age but one year.
At this time many changes were also occurring beyond the borders of Sommerlund. In the regions to the northeast of Magador and the Maakengorge, the Elder Magi of Dessi and the Herbwardens of Bautar were working together in an effort to restore the dusty volcanic wasteland to its former fertile state. It was the first tentative step towards the reclamation of all the Darklands. However, although they had had notable successes in these regions, generally their progress was painfully slow and both parties were resigned to the fact that their efforts to undo the damage caused by the Darklords would take not years but centuries to complete.
In the far west, the Drakkarim had retreated to their homelands and were engaged in a bloody war against the Lencians. Much of Nyras had been reclaimed by the armies of King Sarnac, the Lencian commander, and his flag now flew over a land which, two thousand years ago, had once been part of Lencia.
Following the destruction of the Darklords of Helgedad, the Giaks, the most prolific in number of all of Gnaag’s troops, fled into the Darklands and sought refuge in the gigantic city-fortresses of Nadgazad, Aarnak, Gournen, and Kaag. Within each of these hellish strongholds there exists now a state of frenzied civil war as remnants of the Xaghash (lesser Darklords) and the Nadziranim (evil practitioners of Right-handed magic who once aided individual Darklord masters) fight for control. By virtue of their geographic locations, and the struggles taking place within them, each of these city-fortresses is isolated from the next and poses no immediate threat to the peoples of the Free Kingdoms. It is widely believed that by the time the Elder Magi and the Herbalish reach the walls of these strongholds the occupants will have long since brought about their own extinction.
Elsewhere, throughout Northern Magnamund, peace reigns victorious and the peoples of the Free Kingdoms rejoice in the knowledge that the age of the Darklords has finally come to an end. Readily men have exchanged their swords for hoes and their shields for ploughs, and now the only marching they do is along the ruts of their freshly furrowed fields. Few are the watchful eyes that scan the distant horizon in fear of what may appear, although there are still those who maintain their vigilance, for the agents of Naar come in many guises and there are those upon Magnamund who wait quietly in the shadows for the chance to do his evil bidding.
Often, over the past two years, Lord Rimoah has warned you to be wary of one such group. They are known as the Cener Druids and they occupy a small forested realm to the south of the Stornlands called Ruel, which they have made virtually impregnable to invasion through the use of evil herbcraft. Once, long ago, after the defeat of Naar’s greatest champion—Agarash the Damned—they were used by Naar as agents of revenge. Then they formulated and released a plague that decimated the Elder Magi and left the way open for their conquest of Magnamund. Now the Elder Magi fear that, as before, Naar will use them again to enact revenge for the defeat of his champions. They fear that they will seek to destroy the Second Order of the Kai before it becomes too strong, for your quest for mastery of the Grand Master Disciplines has opened a door to such goodly power that even Naar himself may be unable to counter it. Unless he closes that door, others of your kind could soon be following in your footsteps.
Already the Elder Magi have petitioned the courts of all the Freeland rulers, beseeching them to act immediately and destroy the Cenerese before it is too late. Many of the kingdoms they have visited unwittingly harboured secret sects of Cener Druids who practised their vile herbcraft, often in remote areas. Sommerlund was one such land. Only a year ago, a sect of Cenerese was found in the foothills of the Durncrags engaging in blood rituals at a site less than a day’s ride from the Kai Monastery. News of this prompted action which brought about a scourge of the Lastlands and forced many Cenerese sects to flee to the safety of Ruel. The regular armies of three nations—Palmyrion, Lourden, and Slovia—are now encamped around its border in an attempt to contain the Cener threat. They remain watchful, but that is all they can hope to do. The Cenerese are too powerful within their own domain for the Freeland armies to dare launch an invasion. One such attempt has already ended in disaster. Six months ago an allied force numbering seven thousand men entered the Forest of Ruel, intent on storming the Cenerese fortress of Mogaruith and razing it to the ground. Seven thousand men went into the forest; only seventy returned alive.
Despite the vigilance of the three Freeland armies, the containment of the Cenerese threat within Ruel has not been entirely successful. To the south, the Cenerese can enter and leave their realm by means of tunnels which honeycomb the Skardos Mountains. These secret passages emerge in the free state of Caron, at the northern edge of the Rootstrangle Swamp which, in due course, drains into the Tentarias (the great waterway which divides the northern and southern continents of Magnamund). Once access to the Tentarias has been achieved, the Cenerese are virtually free to sail to any port or country of their choosing. Caron is helpless to prevent the Cenerese from using this route through their land. They are a poor nation with few resources, and the Rootstrangle Swamp is one of the most difficult places to patrol. It comprises a constantly shifting morass of mud flats and rotting vegetation, inhabited only by Tzargs—a carnivorous race of frog-like animals originally bred by the Cenerese for the sole purpose of guiding them through the swamp’s ever-shifting channels.
On midsummer’s day, Lord Rimoah arrived at the monastery without, as was customary on such occasions, any forewarning of his visit. His unexpected appearance surprised the other Kai and caused them to speculate in whispers about the reasons for his journey. Yet his coming was of no surprise to you. For days you had experienced a feeling of unease, a presentiment that your orderly life at the monastery was about to undergo a dramatic change. Rimoah brought with him a glass phial of pale green liquid, a liquid that was proof-positive that the Cenerese were indeed preparing to enact Naar’s revenge upon the Free Kingdoms of Magnamund.
The phial had been found among the possessions of a Cener Druid who had been caught in the city of Ragadorn after having been followed there by a watchful Herbwarden from Bautar. Under interrogation, the Cener revealed that he had been sent to Ragadorn by Arch Druid Cadak, the ruler of Ruel, to distribute the phials of this liquid to agents sympathetic to the Cenerese cause. The Herbwarden had sent the phial to Dessi where the Elder Magi, upon analysing the liquid, discovered it to be a powerful vaccine against a new and complex plague virus. Judging by the composition of the vaccine, this plague virus would prove to be several times more lethal than the Great Plague which had so devastated their race thousands of years ago. The Cener succeeded in taking his own life before he revealed further details, but, judging from the evidence in their possession, the Elder Magi were convinced that the Cenerese are getting ready to unleash an airborne plague virus that could kill all the living creatures of Magnamund, save those that had ingested the vaccine.
Rimoah informs you that the Elder Magi are unable to replicate the vaccine in huge quantities, and even if they were so able, to distribute it to every living creature on Magnamund would be an impossible task.
‘The Herbwardens are sure that the Cener they found in Ragadorn was one of the first of those sent out of Mogaruith to distribute this vaccine,’ said Rimoah, his voice uncharacteristically sombre. ‘Therefore we must act quickly if we are to destroy the virus before Cadak is ready to release it into the atmosphere. Someone must enter Mogaruith. They must find and destroy the plague virus, and they must ensure that this evil work can never again be resumed.’
For a long moment you stood in silence staring into Rimoah’s unblinking eyes. Then, with a nod of your head, you acknowledged what had to be done. Only a Kai Grand Master possesses the skills and experience that would be essential to the success of this vital mission…and there is only one Kai Grand Master.
You keep a record of your adventure on the Action Chart.
For five years, ever since the demise of the Darklords of Helgedad, you have devoted yourself to developing further your fighting prowess—COMBAT SKILL—and physical stamina—ENDURANCE. Before you begin your first Grand Master adventure you need to measure how effective your training has been. To do this, pick a number from the Random Number Table. If you pick a 0 it counts as zero.
The first number that you pick from the Random Number Table in this way represents your COMBAT SKILL. Add 25 to the number you picked and write the total in the COMBAT SKILL section of your Action Chart (i.e. if your pencil fell on the number 6 in the Random Number Table you would write in a COMBAT SKILL of 31). When you fight, your COMBAT SKILL will be pitted against that of your enemy. A high score in this section is therefore very desirable.
The second number that you pick from the Random Number Table represents your powers of ENDURANCE. Add 30 to this number and write the total in the ENDURANCE section of your Action Chart (i.e. if your pencil fell on the number 7 on the Random Number Table you would have 37 ENDURANCE points).
If you are wounded in combat you will lose ENDURANCE points. If at any time your ENDURANCE points fall to zero or below, you are dead and the adventure is over. Lost ENDURANCE points can be regained during the course of the adventure, but your number of ENDURANCE points can never rise above the number you have when you start an adventure.
If you have successfully completed any of the previous adventures in the Lone Wolf series (Books 1–12), you can carry your current scores of COMBAT SKILL and ENDURANCE points over to Book 13. These scores may include Lore-circle bonuses. You may also benefit from the Disciplines that you’ve mastered (e.g. Weaponmastery, Curing, and Psi-surge bonuses). Only if you have completed these previous adventures will you benefit from the appropriate bonuses in the course of the Grand Master series. You may also carry over any Weapons and Backpack Items you had in your possession at the end of your last adventure, and these should be entered on your new Grand Master Action Chart. (You are still limited to two Weapons, but you may now carry up to ten Backpack Items.)
However, only the following Special Items may be carried over to the Lone Wolf Grand Master series (Book 13 onwards):
During your distinguished rise to the rank of Kai Grand Master you have become proficient in all of the basic Kai and Magnakai Disciplines. These Disciplines have provided you with a formidable arsenal of natural abilities which have served you well in the fight against the agents and champions of Naar, King of the Darkness. A brief summary of your skills is given below.
Now, through the pursuit of your new skills and the further development of your innate Kai abilities, you have set out upon a path of discovery that no other Kai Grand Master has ever attempted with success. Your determination to become the first Kai Supreme Master, by acquiring total proficiency in all twelve of the Grand Master Disciplines, is an awe-inspiring challenge. You will be venturing into the unknown, pushing back the boundaries of human limitation in the pursuit of greatness and the cause of Good. May the blessings of the Gods Kai and Ishir go with you as you begin your brave and noble quest.
In the years following the demise of the Darklords you have reached the rank of Kai Grand Defender, which means that you have mastered four of the Grand Master Disciplines listed below. It is up to you to choose which four Disciplines these are. As all of the Grand Master Disciplines may be of use to you at some point during your adventure, pick your four skills with care. The correct use of a Grand Master Discipline at the right time could save your life.
When you have chosen your four Disciplines, enter them in the Grand Master Disciplines section of your Action Chart.
This Discipline enables a Grand Master to become supremely efficient in the use of all weapons. When you enter combat with one of your Grand Weaponmastery weapons, you add 5 points to your COMBAT SKILL. The rank of Kai Grand Defender, with which you begin the Lone Wolf Grand Master series, means you are supremely efficient in the use of two of the weapons listed below. For each book that you complete in the Lone Wolf Grand Master series (Books 13–20), you will gain mastery of an additional weapon. For example, if you complete The Plague Lords of Ruel and have the Grand Master Discipline of Grand Weaponmastery at the beginning of the next Lone Wolf Grand Master book, you may choose an additional Weapon to gain mastery of.
If you have the Discipline of Grand Weaponmastery with Bow, you may add 5 to any number that you pick from the Random Number Table, when using the Bow.
Grand Masters have considerable control over hostile, non-sentient creatures. Also, they have the ability to converse with birds and fishes, and use them as guides.
Grand Masters are able to use their healing power to repair serious battle-wounds. If, whilst in combat, their ENDURANCE is reduced to 8 points or less, they can draw upon their mastery to restore 20 ENDURANCE points. This ability can only be used once every 20 days.
Grand Masters are able to effect striking changes to their physical appearance, and maintain these changes over a period of a few days. They have also mastered advanced camouflage techniques that make them virtually undetectable in an open landscape.
Grand Masters are able to see in total darkness and have greatly heightened senses of touch and taste. If you have chosen the Discipline of Grand Huntmastery as one of your skills, you will not need to tick off a Meal when instructed to eat.
Grand Masters are able to resist entrapment by hostile plants and have a super-awareness of ambush, or the threat of ambush, in woods and dense forests.
When using their psychic ability to attack an enemy, Grand Masters may add 8 points to their COMBAT SKILL. For every round in which Kai-surge is used, Grand Masters need only deduct 1 ENDURANCE point. When using the weaker psychic attack—Mindblast—they may add 4 points without loss of ENDURANCE points. (Kai-surge, Psi-surge, and Mindblast cannot be used simultaneously.)
Grand Masters cannot use Kai-surge if their ENDURANCE score falls to 6 points or below.
In psychic combat, Grand Masters are able to construct mind fortresses capable of protecting themselves and others. The strength and capacity of these fortresses increase as a Grand Master advances in rank.
Grand Masters are able to withstand contact with harmful elements, such as flames and acids, for upwards of an hour in duration. This ability increases as a Grand Master advances in rank.
This Discipline enables a Grand Master to spirit-walk for far greater lengths of time, and with far fewer ill effects. Duration and the protection of his inanimate body increase as a Grand Master advances in rank.
Under the tutelage of Lord Rimoah, you have been able to master the rudimentary skills of battle-magic, as taught to the Vakeros—the native warriors of Dessi. These skills include the basic use of Old Kingdom Spells such as Shield, Power Word, and Invisible Fist. As you advance in rank, so will your knowledge and mastery of Old Kingdom magic increase.
Under the tutelage of Guildmaster Banedon, you have mastered the elementary spells of Left-handed magic, as practised by the Brotherhood of the Crystal Star. These spells include Lightning Hand, Levitation, and Mind Charm. As you advance in rank, so will your knowledge and mastery of Left-handed magic increase, enabling you to craft new Kai weapons and artefacts.
If you successfully complete the mission as set in this, the first of the Lone Wolf Grand Master series, you may add a further Grand Master Discipline of your choice to your Action Chart in Book 14.
For every Grand Master Discipline you possess, in excess of the original four disciplines you begin with, you may add 1 point to your basic COMBAT SKILL score and 2 points to your basic ENDURANCE points score. These bonus points, together with your extra Grand Master Discipline, your original four Grand Master Disciplines, and any Special Items that you have found and been able to keep during your adventures, may then be carried over and used in the next Lone Wolf Grand Master adventure, which is called The Captives of Kaag.
Before you leave the monastery and begin your long journey to the land of Palmyrion, you take with you a map of the Dark Realm of Ruel and a pouch of gold. To find out how much gold is in the pouch, pick a number from the Random Number Table and add 20 to the number you have picked. The total equals the number of Gold Crowns inside the pouch, and you should now enter this number in the ‘Gold Crowns’ section of your Action Chart. If you have successfully completed any of the previous Lone Wolf adventures (Books 1–12), you may add this sum to the total sum of Crowns you already possess. Fifty Crowns is the maximum you carry, but additional Crowns can be left in safekeeping at your monastery.
You can take five items from the list below, again adding to these, if necessary, any you may already possess from previous adventures (remember, you are still limited to two Weapons, but you may now carry a maximum of ten Backpack Items).
List the five items that you choose on your Action Chart, under the appropriate headings, and make a note of any effect they may have on your ENDURANCE points or COMBAT SKILL.
Now that you have your equipment, the following list shows you how it is carried. You do not need to make notes, but you should refer back to this list in the course of your adventure.
Any item that may be of use, and which can be picked up on your adventure and entered on your Action Chart is given either initial capitals (e.g. Gold Dagger, Magic Pendant), or is clearly labelled as a Backpack Item. Unless you are told that it is a Special Item, carry it in your Backpack.
There will be occasions during your adventure when you have to fight an enemy. The enemy’s COMBAT SKILL and ENDURANCE points are given in the text. Lone Wolf’s aim in the combat is to kill the enemy by reducing his ENDURANCE points to zero while losing as few ENDURANCE points as possible himself.
At the start of a combat, enter Lone Wolf’s and the enemy’s ENDURANCE points in the appropriate boxes on the Combat Record section of your Action Chart. The sequence for combat is as follows:
This process of combat continues until ENDURANCE points of either the enemy or Lone Wolf are reduced to zero or below, at which point that combatant is declared dead. If Lone Wolf is dead, the adventure is over. If the enemy is dead, Lone Wolf proceeds but with his ENDURANCE points possibly reduced.
A summary of Combat Rules appears in the back of this book.
During your adventure you may be given the chance to evade combat. If you have already engaged in a round of combat and decide to evade, calculate the combat for that round in the usual manner. All points lost by the enemy as a result of that round are ignored, and you make your escape. Only Lone Wolf may lose ENDURANCE points during that round (but then that is the risk of running away!). You may evade only if the text of the particular section allows you to do so.
The following table is a guide to the ranks and titles you can achieve at each stage of your journey along the road of Kai Grand Mastership. As you successfully complete each adventure in the Lone Wolf Grand Master series, you will gain an additional Grand Master Discipline and progress towards the pinnacle of Kai perfection—to become a Kai Supreme Master.
As you rise through the higher levels of Kai Grand Mastery, you will find that your Disciplines will steadily improve. For example, if you possess the Discipline of Grand Nexus when you reach the Grand Master rank of Grand Thane, you will be able to pass freely through Shadow Gates and explore the nether realms of Aon and the Daziarn Plane.
The nature of these additional improvements and how they affect your Grand Master Disciplines will be noted in the Improved Grand Master Disciplines section of future Lone Wolf books.
Your mission to enter the Cenerese stronghold of Mogaruith and destroy the deadly plague virus will be fraught with deadly danger. Be wary and on your guard at all times, for the inhabitants of Ruel are sworn enemies of the Gods Kai and Ishir.
Some of the things that you will find during your mission will be of use to you in this and future Lone Wolf books, while others may be red herrings of no real value at all, so try to be selective in what you decide to keep.
Choose your four Grand Master Disciplines with care, for a wise choice will enable any player to complete the quest, no matter how weak their initial COMBAT SKILL and ENDURANCE scores may be. Successful completion of previous Lone Wolf adventures, although an advantage, is not essential for the completion of this first Grand Master adventure.
The prevention of the spread of a deadly Cenerese plague virus, and the subsequent deaths of untold millions, depends on the success of your mission. May the light of Kai and Ishir be your guide as you venture into the darkness of Ruel.
For Sommerlund and the Kai!