You are Lone Wolf—last of the Kai Lords of Sommerlund, and sole survivor of the massacre that destroyed them during a bitter war with your age-old enemies, the Darklords of Helgedad.
It is midwinter in your northern homeland and a mantle of snow lies knee-deep in the streets of Holmgard—the capital—when you are summoned from your monastery in the hills by a messenger bearing a scroll, signed and sealed by the hand of King Ulnar. You are surprised to read the King’s message, for it is a request for your help in solving an urgent problem of what he describes as ‘great diplomatic importance’. It seems a strange request to make of a warrior lord, whose skills are better suited to the field of battle than to parleying with foreign envoys. However, you obey the summons and upon your arrival at the capital, all is made clear.
The Zakhan of Vassagonia, the imperial ruler of this desert empire, has sent his most trusted envoy to seek a treaty of peace between your two countries, and you have been asked to sign the treaty on behalf of your country. The reason for this is easily apparent.
Less than a year ago, a renegade noble of Vassagonia called Barraka led his army of bandits in an attack upon the Sommlending province of Ruanon. This mining town and much of the surrounding land was overrun and destroyed. Many Sommlending lost their lives, and many more were enslaved and forced to labour in the mines of the Maaken Range. When the regular convoy from Ruanon failed to arrive at the capital, the king sent you to investigate. A great battle ensued in which you defeated Barraka in mortal combat. Without your courage and skill, the safety of Sommerlund and all of the Lastlands would have been placed in grave peril.
‘Your majesty, the Zakhan is gravely embarrassed by Barraka’s foul treachery, and is most anxious that our friendship and trust be restored. He begs that you send the Kai warrior, Lone Wolf, to sign a treaty of peace with him at the Grand Palace in Barrakeesh,’ whimpers the Zakhan’s emissary, as he kneels at the feet of King Ulnar.
The king rises from his throne, barely able to conceal his distaste for the fawning envoy. He turns his gaze to you and bids you follow him to the privacy of an antechamber.
‘I have no liking for this desert realm, Lone Wolf, but I like the prospect of war even less. The Zakhan is old and frail, and has no son to claim his throne when he dies. Barraka was but one of many ruthless nobles who wait like jackals for the chance to seize power, and I fear they grow too impatient to allow the Zakhan to die a natural death. The treaty may not guarantee peace with Vassagonia once the Zakhan is dead, but it will at least buy us precious time to strengthen our southern border.’
The king leads you to a window and points towards the harbour, barely visible through the falling snow. A Vassagonian galley lies anchored close to the harbour wall.
‘Go to Vassagonia, Lone Wolf. Sign the treaty and return quickly. Even with the promise of peace, I fear the shadow of war will fall upon us before the year is out.’
You wave farewell to Holmgard on this bleak midwinter’s day, feeling sure you will return before the thaw. But as you watch the spires of Holmgard disappear in the falling snow, you have no inkling of the shadow that awaits you in Vassagonia.
You keep a record of your adventure on the Action Chart.
During your training as a Kai Lord you have developed fighting prowess—COMBAT SKILL and physical stamina—ENDURANCE. Before you set off on your 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 0 it counts as zero.
The first number that you pick from the Random Number Table in this way represents your COMBAT SKILL. Add 10 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 4 in the Random Number Table you would write in a COMBAT SKILL of 14). 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 20 to this number and write the total in the ENDURANCE section of your Action Chart (i.e. if your pencil fell on the number 6 on the Random Number Table you would have 26 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 go above the number with which you start your adventure.
If you have successfully completed any of the previous adventures in the Lone Wolf series, you will already have your COMBAT SKILL, ENDURANCE points, and Kai Disciplines which you can now carry over with you to Book 5. You may also carry over any Weapons and Special Items that you held at the end of your last adventure, and these should be entered on your new Action Chart. (You are still limited to two Weapons and eight Backpack Items.)
You may choose one bonus Kai Discipline to add to your Action Chart for every Lone Wolf adventure you have successfully completed; now read the section on equipment for Book 5 carefully.
Over the centuries, the Kai monks have mastered the skills of the warrior. These skills are known as the Kai Disciplines, and they are taught to all Kai Lords. You have learnt only five of the skills listed below. The choice of which five skills these are, is for you to make. As all of the Disciplines may be of use to you at some point on your perilous quest, pick your five with care. The correct use of a Discipline at the right time can save your life.
When you have chosen your five Disciplines, enter them in the Kai Disciplines section of your Action Chart.
This Discipline enables a Kai Lord to blend in with his surroundings. In the countryside, he can hide undetected among trees and rocks and pass close to an enemy without being seen. In a town or city, it enables him to look and sound like a native of that area, and can help him to find shelter or a safe hiding place.
If you choose this skill, write ‘Camouflage’ on your Action Chart.
This skill ensures that a Kai Lord will never starve in the wild. He will always be able to hunt for food for himself except in areas of wasteland and desert. You are aware that most of Vassagonia is arid desert; should your adventure lead you into this desert, the opportunities for successful hunting may not arise. But this skill is still very useful for it also enables a Kai Lord to move with great speed and dexterity.
If you choose this skill, write ‘Hunting’ on your Action Chart.
This skill may warn a Kai Lord of imminent danger. It may also reveal the true purpose of a stranger or strange object encountered in your adventure.
If you choose this skill, write ‘Sixth Sense’ on your Action Chart.
This skill enables a Kai Lord to make the correct choice of a path in the wild, to discover the location of a person or object in a town or city and to read the secrets of footprints or tracks.
If you choose this skill, write ‘Tracking’ on your Action Chart.
This Discipline can be used to restore ENDURANCE points lost in combat. If you possess this skill you may restore 1 ENDURANCE point to your total for every numbered section of the book you pass through in which you are not involved in combat. (This is only to be used after your ENDURANCE has fallen below its original level.) Remember that your ENDURANCE cannot rise above its original level.
If you choose this skill write ‘Healing: +1 ENDURANCE point for each section without combat’ on your Action Chart.
Upon entering the Kai Monastery, each initiate is taught to master one type of weapon. If Weaponskill is to be one of your Kai Disciplines, pick a number in the usual way from the Random Number Table, and then find the corresponding weapon from the list below. This is the weapon in which you have skill. When you enter combat carrying this weapon, you add 2 points to your COMBAT SKILL.
The fact that you are skilled with a weapon does not mean you set out on the adventure carrying that particular weapon. However, you will have opportunities to acquire weapons in the course of your adventures. You cannot carry more than 2 weapons.
If you choose this skill, write ‘Weaponskill in _______ +2 COMBAT SKILL points if this weapon carried’ on your Action Chart.
The Darklords and many of the evil creatures in their command have the ability to attack you using their Mindforce. The Kai Discipline of Mindshield prevents you from losing any ENDURANCE points when subjected to this form of attack.
If you choose this skill, write ‘Mindshield: no points lost when attacked by Mindblast’ on your Action Chart.
This enables a Kai Lord to attack an enemy using the force of his mind. It can be used at the same time as normal combat weapons and adds two extra points to your COMBAT SKILL. Not all the creatures encountered on this adventure will be harmed by Mindblast. You will be told if a creature is immune.
If you choose this skill, write ‘Mindblast: +2 COMBAT SKILL points’ on your Action Chart.
This skill enables a Kai Lord to communicate with some animals and to be able to guess the intentions of others.
If you choose this skill, write ‘Animal Kinship’ on your Action Chart.
Mastery of this Discipline enables a Kai Lord to move small objects with his powers of concentration.
If you choose this skill, write ‘Mind Over Matter’ on your Action Chart.
If you have successfully completed Books 1–4 of the Lone Wolf series, completion of Book 5 will raise you to the rank of Kai Master. This means that you will have acquired all ten basic Kai skills.
All of the Special Items that you have found and kept during your adventures, may then be used in the Lone Wolf ‘Magnakai’ series, which begins with Book 6 entitled The Kingdoms of Terror.
Before leaving Holmgard on your voyage to the Vassagonian capital of Barrakeesh, you are given a map of the desert empire and a pouch of gold. To find out how much gold is in the pouch, pick a number from the Random Number Table. Now add 10 to the number you have picked. The total equals the number of Gold Crowns inside the pouch, and you may now enter this number in the Gold Crowns section of your Action Chart. (If you have successfully completed previous Lone Wolf adventures, you may add this sum to the total of any Crowns you may already possess. Remember you can only carry a maximum of fifty Crowns.)
You may take your pick of the following items (in addition to those you already possess, but remember you may only carry two weapons). You may take up to four of the following:
List the four items that you choose on your Action Chart, under the heading given in brackets, and make a note of any effect it 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 don’t need to make notes but you can refer back to this list in the course of your adventure.
Any item that may be of use and can be picked up on your adventure and entered on your Action Chart is given capital letters in the text. Unless you are told 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 the 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 only evade if the text of the particular section allows you to do so.
The following table is a guide to the ranks and titles that are bestowed upon Kai Lords at each stage of their training. As you successfully complete each adventure in the Lone Wolf series, you will gain an additional Kai Discipline and gradually progress towards mastery of the ten basic Kai Disciplines.
Beyond the ten basic skills of the Kai Master await the secrets of the higher Kai Disciplines or ‘Magnakai’. By acquiring the wisdom of the Magnakai, a Kai Lord can progress towards the ultimate achievement and become a Kai Grand Master.
Your mission is one of peaceful diplomacy—but beware! The desert empire of Vassagonia is notorious for being a land of deceit and treachery. Be on your guard at all times. Also, make notes as you progress, as you will find they will be of great help in future adventures.
Many things that you find will aid you during your adventure. Some Special Items will be of use in future Lone Wolf adventures and others may be red herrings of no real use at all, so be selective in what you decide to keep.
If this is your first Lone Wolf adventure, choose your Kai Disciplines with care—a wise choice and a great deal of courage should enable anyone to complete both parts of this adventure, no matter how weak his or her initial COMBAT SKILL and ENDURANCE points. Successful completion of previous Lone Wolf adventures, although an advantage, is not essential for the completion of this book.
May the spirits of your Kai Masters guide you on your perilous adventure.