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 5077, twenty-seven years 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 and the seat of his 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 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. Their commanders exploited the chaos skilfully and secured a swift and total victory over an enemy far superior in numbers.
For seven 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 the task of teaching a Second Order of Kai warriors the skills and proud traditions of your ancestors is also well established. 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 the training of the Second Order recruits. Your efforts were soon rewarded for 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. The Kai Masters rose to their newfound responsibilities readily, 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, a 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 which 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 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, 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 centuries to complete.
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.
Already your newfound skills have been tested against Naar’s agents and you have, on each occasion, acquitted yourself admirably. But your continuing victories against his minions have enraged the Dark God and inflamed his lust for vengeance. Earlier this year you thwarted Naar’s plans to revive Vashna, the greatest of all the Darklords, whose spirit is trapped deep within the fathomless reaches of the Maakengorge—the Chasm of Doom. Vashna’s spirit has remained there in uneasy entombment ever since the day, long ago, when he and his army were defeated in battle by King Ulnar I of Sommerlund. Your brave and courageous actions prevented Naar’s agents from summoning to Magnamund a Demoness named Shamath from the Plane of Darkness. This supernatural creature possessed the Deathstaff—an artefact of great evil forged by Naar himself—with which she could have resurrected Vashna and his army from the Maakengorge. Yet your timely intervention destroyed the Shadow Gate through which she was travelling, and by so doing, you imprisoned the Demoness Shamath in the limbo which exists between your world and the Plane of Darkness.
Confident in the belief that you had saved Magnamund from the Demoness and the Deathstaff, you returned triumphantly to Sommerlund. Several months later, however, as the year was drawing to a close, Lord Rimoah came unexpectedly to the Kai Monastery seeking an urgent audience. With growing dismay you listened as he relayed ill news—the Deathstaff had reappeared in Magnamund. The threat to the peace of your fragile world was greater now than ever before.
‘When you destroyed the Shadow Gate at Maakengorge, Grand Master,’ said Lord Rimoah, as the two of you discussed the matter in the secure privacy of your vault below the Kai Monastery, ‘you banished Shamath to the void, hopefully for all eternity. Yet, alas, the weapon she possessed did not go with her. Naar’s accursed Deathstaff has since returned to this world through another Shadow Gate, one that lies far away to the west, on a remote and icy peninsula that is called Ixia.’
‘My lord, do you wish me to go to Ixia—to find and destroy the Deathstaff before another of Naar’s agents can use it against us? Is this why you have come seeking my help?’ you replied, expecting Rimoah to affirm your assumption.
‘Partly so, my lord,’ he said, holding you with his steel-grey eyes, ‘but I fear that already it has fallen into the hands of an enemy—and one who is deadlier than even the Demoness Shamath. What do you know of the Deathlord of Ixia?’
You faintly remembered having heard this name before but were unable to recall any detail. Lord Rimoah, seeing that you were unable to give an answer, obliged with an impromptu history lesson:
‘The Deathlord of Ixia was once lieutenant to Agarash the Damned—the most powerful of all Naar’s champions of evil,’ said Rimoah, his head bowed as he paced the granite floor of your vault. ‘During the Age of Eternal Night he conquered much of Northern Magnamund, including the realm of Ixia which was once a rich and very fertile land. He destroyed the native Ixians, transforming them into a legion of undead servants under his command. Many centuries later, when my ancestors defeated Agarash during the Age of War, they magically imprisoned the weakened Deathlord in a secret tomb within the dread city of Xaagon, near to the southern coast of Ixia. For thousands of years his tomb lay undisturbed until the first of the Drakkarim appeared on Magnamund. They entered Xaagon and found the Deathlord’s tomb—yet legend has it that none of them escaped Ixia alive. Perhaps they, too, serve him now. During the Age of the Black Moon, the Darklords conquered all of the territories surrounding Ixia yet they chose to avoid setting foot in the Deathlord’s realm. Mindful of his origins, they feared that if he were released from his sorcerous prison he would seek to dominate and destroy them.’
‘My lord, are you telling me that the Deathlord of Ixia is now free of this prison and in possession of the Deathstaff?’ you asked, fearing Lord Rimoah’s reply.
‘Yes, Grand Master. I’m afraid that is exactly the situation which confronts us. Since the passing of the last moon, I and others of the High Council of the Elder Magi have detected a great imbalance between the forces of Good and Evil in our world. By ill chance or by Naar’s design, the Deathstaff has fallen into the hands of Ixiataaga. Once again the Deathlord is free to indulge his unholy and insatiable appetite for living beings. Already we have heard reports from Lencian fishermen which tell of the destruction of remote Drakkarim settlements around the Gulf of Konkor, and there are even claims of a “death fleet” having been sighted in the waters of the Shakoz Bight. Yes, Grand Master, the Deathlord is free to roam the face of Magnamund once more, and I fear he will not stop until every living creature is enslaved to him in undeath.’
For hours, you and your trusted advisor deliberated over what could be done to prevent this unspeakable disaster from befalling Magnamund. You considered a muster of the Freeland armies and an immediate attack upon Ixia, but such a plan simply could not be executed. The peninsula of Ixia is far too remote and desolate a territory to be reached by any Freeland army on foot, and, with winter already so far advanced, any ship-borne invasion would be doomed to fail. Time was also against you. The Deathlord had to be stopped as quickly as possible before he could unleash an army of undead upon Magnamund, an unkillable army that would grow larger with every battle it fought against the living.
‘Only I can stop this,’ you said, voicing your thoughts.
‘Yes, Grand Master. Only you,’ replied Rimoah quietly.
After a few moments’ silence, Rimoah continued, ‘In expectation of your decision, preparations have already been made for your journey, Grand Master. I trust this doesn’t offend you?’
You smiled your consent.
‘Good. Then I shall call upon Guildmaster Banedon—he knows of the Deathlord’s rise and he has offered his ship Skyrider to hasten your journey westwards. He will tell you more about Ixia and how you will be conveyed there. Godspeed, Grand Master. I shall pray to Kai and Ishir to watch over you on this fateful mission.’
You keep a record of your adventure on the Action Chart.
For more than six 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 this Grand Master adventure you need to measure how effective your training has been. To do this take a pencil and, with your eyes closed, point with the blunt end of it onto 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 1–16), you can carry your current scores of COMBAT SKILL and ENDURANCE points over to Book 17. These scores may include Weaponmastery, Curing, and Psi-surge bonuses obtained upon completion of Lone Wolf Kai (Books 1–5) or Magnakai (Books 6–12) adventures. Only if you have completed these previous adventures will you benefit from the appropriate bonuses in the course of the Lone Wolf 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 from the Lone Wolf Kai (Books 1–5) and Magnakai (Books 6–12) series to the Lone Wolf Grand Master series (Books 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 fifth of the Lone Wolf Grand Master series, you may add a further Grand Master Discipline of your choice to your Action Chart in Book 18.
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(s), 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 Dawn of the Dragons.
Before you set off on your long journey to Ixia you take with you a map of Ixia and the Hardlands 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 1–16), you may add this sum to the total sum of Crowns you already possess. Fifty Crowns is the maximum you can carry, but additional Crowns can be left in safekeeping at your monastery.
You can take four 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 four 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.
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.
If you are a Grand Master who has reached the rank of Kai Grand Guardian (5 Disciplines), you will now benefit from improvements to the following Grand Master Disciplines:
If you are a Grand Master who has reached the rank of Sun Knight (6 Disciplines), you will now benefit from improvements to the following Grand Master Disciplines:
If you are a Grand Master who has reached the rank of Sun Lord (7 Disciplines), you will now benefit from improvements to the following Grand Master Disciplines:
If you are a Grand Master who has reached the rank of Sun Thane (8 Disciplines), you will now benefit from improvements to the following Grand Master Disciplines:
The nature of any 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.
Ixia is a cruel and treacherous region. Be wary and on your guard at all times, for you can expect no help at all from the fell creatures who dwell in this remote territory.
Some of the things that you will encounter 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. If you discover items, be selective in what you choose to keep.
Pick your 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 adventure.
May the light of Kai and Ishir be your guide as you venture into the darkness of Ixia.
For Sommerlund and the Kai!