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Authors: Joe Dever

Tags: #Fiction, #Fantasy, #Lone Wolf, #Magnamund

Trail of the Wolf

BOOK: Trail of the Wolf
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Trail of the Wolf

Lone Wolf has been abducted by the forces of the Dark God Naar and imprisoned in a remote city-fortress on the border of the Darklands. Subjected to relentless attacks by the minions of evil, the Supreme Master of the Kai is surely doomed to die unless a rescue can be effected swiftly and successfully.

In
Trail of the Wolf
, you must venture alone into the dreaded stronghold of Gazad Helkona to find and free your leader. Can you succeed in your vital mission … or will you fall foul of the horrors that lurk within this Darklands city-fortress?

Joe Dever
, the creator of the bestselling Lone Wolf adventure books and novels, has achieved world-wide recognition in three creative fields — as an award-winning author of international renown, as an acclaimed musician and composer, and as a games designer specialising in role-playing games.

On graduating from college in 1974, Joe Dever became a professional musician, and for several years, he worked in the music industry in Europe and the United States.

While working in Los Angeles in 1977 he discovered a then little-known game called ‘Dungeons & Dragons’. Although the game was in its infancy, Joe at once realised its huge potential and began designing his own role-playing games along similar conceptual lines. These first games were to form the basis of a fantasy world called Magnamund, which later became the setting for the Lone Wolf books.

Five years later, in 1982 at the Origins Game Fair, Joe won the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons World Championships in Baltimore, an event held before 16,000 people. Inspired and encouraged by his success at Origins, Joe decided to quit the music business and devote his time to writing and games design.

In 1983, after a brief spell at Games Workshop in London, he wrote
Flight from the Dark
 — the first Lone Wolf interactive gamebook. His manuscript immediately attracted a frenzy of interest from three major London publishing companies, all of whom bid for world rights. Joe accepted an offer of publication from Hutchinson's (later to become Century Hutchinson Ltd; now Random House UK) and
Flight from the Dark
was first published in 1984.

This first book sold more than 100,000 copies within its first month of publication, and overseas rights were snapped up by twelve countries (including the United States, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, and Sweden). The success of Joe's first book laid the foundations for the future of the Lone Wolf series, which has sold millions of copies around the world.

The Lone Wolf series ended after 28 books and 14 years. Joe has continued to work in the games industry as script writer and games design consultant.

Brian Williams
was first noticed by Joe Dever for his work in
White Dwarf
magazine (circa issue 50) and the
Real Life Gamebooks
series by Jon Sutherland and Simon Farrell. Brian Williams was Joe's first choice of illustrators to replace Gary Chalk. Jon, being an old friend of Joe's, introduced the two. Brian was excited to work with Joe on the
Lone Wolf
series. He illustrated
The Cauldron of Fear
and almost every book about Magnamund since that time.

Internet Edition published by
Project Aon
. This edition is intended to reflect the complete text of the original version. Where we have made minor corrections, they will be noted in the
Errata
.

Publication Date: 28 October 2012

Text copyright © 1997 Joe Dever.
Illustrations copyright © 1997 Brian Williams.
Distribution of this Internet Edition is restricted under the terms of the
Project Aon License
.

Dedication

To Liz, Michael, William, & Charlotte Rofe

Acknowledgements

‘I would be especially pleased if my granting of the rights to distribute my books in this way was seen as my “millennium gift” to all those devoted readers who have kept the Kai flag flying high, through all the good times, and the not-so-good. It would make me very proud indeed if this enterprise laid the foundations of a lasting legacy, securing the longevity of Lone Wolf by making my creation freely and readily accessible to current and future online generations. For them, for us, for Sommerlund and the Kai. … ’
Joe Dever

Project Aon would first like to thank Joe Dever for making this generous offering of the books that we have all loved from the beginning. We are also grateful for the generosity of Rob Adams, Paul Bonner, Gary Chalk, Melvyn Grant, Richard Hook, Peter Andrew Jones, Cyril Julien, Peter Lyon, Ian Page, Graham Round, and Brian Williams for contributing their portions of the world of Magnamund to Project Aon. We would also like to acknowledge the following members of Project Aon for their diligent work:

Credits
Transcription
Sean Donald
Illustration Transcription
Jonathan Blake
XML
Jonathan Blake
Simon Osborne
Action Charts
JC Alvarez
Jonathan Blake
Proofreading
Sean Donald (Sections 1–350)
Editing
Jan Charvát
Ingo Klöcker
LeRoy McSwain
Sean Donald
Benjamin Krefetz
Simon Osborne
Timothy Pederick
Coordination
Jonathan Blake
Special Thanks
David Davis, James Durrant, Paul Haskell, Christopher Neilson, Sam Seaver
The Story So Far …

You are a Grand Master of the New Order of the Kai — the warrior élite of Sommerlund.

It is autumn of the year MS 5083, thirty-three years after the First Order of the Kai was nearly wiped out by the Darklords of Helgedad. These champions of evil, who were sent by the Dark God Naar to destroy your fertile world of Magnamund, have since been destroyed. Lone Wolf, the leader of your illustrious fighting order, was the only survivor of the massacre. As a young Kai initiate he stood amidst the burning wreckage of the old Kai Monastery and vowed to avenge the slaughter of his comrades. In the year MS 5070 he kept his pledge when alone he infiltrated the foul domain of the Darklords and destroyed the infernal city of Helgedad, the base of their evil power.

With the fall of Helgedad, chaos befell the Darkland armies who had, until then, been poised to conquer all Magnamund. Quickly their disorder escalated into a mutinous civil war which allowed the Freeland Alliance armies of Magnamund time enough to recover and launch a successful counter-offensive. Against all odds, a swift and total victory was secured over the feuding armies of evil.

Following the demise of the Darklords, peace has reigned in your homeland of Sommerlund. Under the direction of Lone Wolf the ruined Monastery of the Kai was rebuilt and restored to its former glory, and the raising of a New Order of Kai warriors was swiftly established. You are one of this new generation of Kai recruits. You were born in Sommerlund in the year MS 5063, during the time of the war against the Darklords. When you were seven years old you were sent by your father to the Kai Monastery. There, under the tutelage of Lone Wolf, you developed your martial skills and honed the special Kai abilities which lay dormant within you. During the years that followed, your skills were nurtured and sharpened to perfection by long hours of study and rigorous training. Your exceptional talents have helped you to master all of the Kai and Magnakai Disciplines, and you have risen swiftly through the ranks of the New Order to become one of only five who now hold the high rank of Kai Grand Master. It is an achievement which has brought great honour upon you and your family.

In the year MS 5077 your skill and courage were put to the test when an attack was launched upon the Kai Monastery during Lone Wolf's absence. By means of a Shadow Gate (an astral corridor between the physical world of Magnamund and the many ethereal domains which lie beyond it), Naar sent forth a host of dragon-creatures to besiege the monastery and lay waste to all Sommerlund. He had chosen his time well, yet his evil plan was thwarted by the tenacious defence that you and your brethren maintained until the siege was raised by Lone Wolf and the King's Army of Sommerlund.

During the six years that have elapsed since the defeat of his minions, Naar has endeavoured to enact his vengeance upon the Kai. He commands many agents of evil upon Magnamund, and they wait quietly in the shadows for the day when they may serve their fell master. One such agent was Lord Vandyan of Eldenora. Guided by Naar, Vandyan sought and found three ancient runes of evil. Empowered by his discoveries, Vandyan summoned a vast army of reptilian warriors — the Vorka — and he used them to conquer and occupy the lands of his peaceful neighbours. Emboldened by his martial successes, Vandyan then carried the war further afield.

By mid-summer of this year his army had overrun much of central Magnamund, including the realm of Lyris — one of Sommerlund's oldest allies. From war-torn Lyris there arrived at the Kai Monastery an old man called Gwynian the Sage. He was a learned scholar and was revered by the Kai for he had aided Lone Wolf on many occasions in the past. He entreated your leader to help save his country from Vandyan's horde. Without hesitation, Lone Wolf pledged to mount a Kai crusade to raise the siege of Varetta, its capital city.

The Vorka had been the key to Vandyan's military successes and he had a seemingly endless supply of these reptilian fighters. In order to defeat Vandyan and save Lyris, Lone Wolf knew that he had to cut off Vandyan's supply of Vorka reinforcements at their source. Gwynian had agents in Duadon, the capital of Eldenora, who had sent word that thousands of Vorka were being created inside the city. This was the source of the enemy's horde.

Gwynian's agents in Duadon had confirmed that Vandyan's runes were being kept in the city's stronghold, a daunting fortress called Skull-Tor. Lone Wolf asked you to travel alone to Duadon to make contact with Gwynian's agents. They knew a secret route into the fortress and would help you to gain entry. Once inside, you were to find and destroy the runes as quickly as possible. Upon completion of the mission, the agents would assist you to evade Vandyan's troops. The thought of venturing hundreds of miles behind enemy lines to undertake such a dangerous quest filled you with a sense of foreboding. Yet, you also felt greatly honoured to have been chosen for the mission and you did not flinch from your duty.

Your journey to Duadon was fraught with many perils, yet you overcame them all and made contact with Gwynian's agents. With their help you gained entry to Vandyan's stronghold of Skull-Tor and destroyed the evil runes, thereby extinguishing the source of the power by which the Vorka horde were permitted to exist. Vandyan's army dissolved and the Kai were then able to enter Lyris and raise the siege of Varetta.

During your mission in Skull-Tor, you discovered that the Vorka were not the only creatures that Vandyan had summoned by the power of the runes. A demonic entity called Zorkaan the Soultaker had also been brought to Magnamund from his lair upon the Plane of Darkness — the ethereal domain of Naar. Having fought and defeated this creature, you believed that he had perished forever when subsequently you smashed the runes. Sadly, this was not so.

Following your victory at Skull-Tor you were met by Guildmaster Banedon, the leader of Sommerlund's Guild of Magicians, who spirited you away from Duadon aboard his flying ship
Cloud-dancer
. Within minutes of your arrival aboard, a route was charted and a course set for the city of Varetta. The journey by air took little more than two hours and, although darkness had fallen, Banedon's skilled crewmen had little difficulty locating the city. Its siege-damaged walls were ringed with beacons of fire that were visible for fifty miles. As you drew closer, you saw the lifeless remains of the Vorka horde spread out across the plain surrounding Varetta, and the regiments of the allied armies marching proudly towards its gates. The beacons guided Banedon's craft towards the centre of the city where it was made to hover above the Halls of Learning, Gwynian's home. Swiftly you were lowered by cage to the grounds of this magnificent building where the New Order Kai were encamped. There you were greeted by the thunderous cheer of your fellow kinsmen, and the proud embrace of Lone Wolf and Gwynian the Sage. It was a joyful and victorious reunion, one that will live forever in your memory and in the legends of the New Order Kai.

News of your arrival spread quickly through Varetta and you were fêted by its grateful citizens. By your brave action, the cruel siege of their city had been lifted. Following a night of celebration, Lone Wolf ordered you to return in triumph to the Kai Monastery aboard
Cloud-dancer
. He chose to ride home with the New Order and was expected to arrive in a week's time. Gladly you obeyed your leader's command, and shortly before noon you waved farewell to your proud brethren from the deck of Banedon's magnificent flying ship.

Early the next day, you arrived at the Kai Monastery and delivered the glad news of your victory at Skull-Tor. Warmly the garrison praised your achievement and listened in awe when you recounted the details of your perilous mission. You informed them that Lone Wolf and the Kai crusaders were returning from Varetta and would arrive at the monastery in seven days' time. You were the highest ranking Kai present at the monastery and so you took charge and oversaw preparations for their welcome home.

Five days passed and the preparations were completed ahead of schedule. Everyone was looking forward with eager anticipation to their return. It was late that afternoon when a Kai scout called Gold Rain arrived unexpectedly at the monastery. His face and clothes were badly travel-stained, and it was clear from his state of near-exhaustion that he had ridden hard without rest. You were hoping that he had glad tidings, but you soon heard to the contrary; Gold Rain had grave and shocking news to impart.

You learned that Lone Wolf had disappeared. During an overnight encampment on the outskirts of Ruanon, your leader had been abducted. Those who witnessed the abduction said that Lone Wolf was engulfed by a whirling black shadow that fell upon him from out of a stormy sky. So swift was the attack that your fellow Grand Masters were unable to prevent him from being carried away.

A cold chill ran down your spine as you listened to Gold Rain's report. His description of the whirling black shadow was identical to the form adopted by Zorkaan the Soultaker. You were filled with a gnawing sense of doubt, a dire fear that the destruction of the rune used by Vandyan to summon Zorkaan did not bring about the fell creature's demise. Instead, it had trapped Zorkaan upon Magnamund. Immediately you suspected that Lone Wolf's abduction was an act of revenge. Your Kai Sixth Sense told you that Lone Wolf was still alive and present somewhere upon Magnamund, but you could not determine exactly where that place was.

You had achieved a great victory at Duadon, but the shocking news of Lone Wolf's disappearance cast a deep shadow over your triumph there. You feared that the loss of your illustrious leader was too high a price to pay for the defeat of Vandyan and his Vorka hordes. Your natural instinct was to do everything in your power to find Lone Wolf and release him from his shadowy abductor, but you knew not where to look.

Hurriedly you dispatched a rider to Toran and summoned Guildmaster Banedon to an emergency council at the Kai Monastery. He responded swiftly to your summons and arrived within hours aboard
Cloud-dancer
. He was accompanied by Lord Rimoah of Dessi, an Elder Magi magician who is also Lone Wolf's oldest friend and advisor.

Rimoah confirmed your suspicions that Zorkaan had been summoned to Magnamund by the power of the runes. When you smashed the runes, this entity could not return to the Plane of Darkness from whence it had come. Inadvertently, your action had trapped Zorkaan upon Magnamund. The arrival upon your world of this powerful creature of evil had not gone unnoticed by the Elder Magi. From afar they had sensed Zorkaan's presence and, through the use of their Old Kingdom magic, Rimoah and his fellow elders had charted his movements. For a short while, following the destruction of the runes, the creature had roamed the planet freely. But his freedom was soon curtailed.

Lord Rimoah then told you of an evil sorcerer called Xaol. He is a necromancer who dwells in hiding in Gazad Helkona, a former Darklord city-fortress located in the desolate wastes of northern Skaror. Xaol is also an agent of Naar who, since the demise of the Darklords, has patiently awaited the chance to serve his fell master. During the days before Lone Wolf's abduction, Rimoah and the Elder Magi detected streams of psychic communication coursing between Gazad Helkona and the Plane of Darkness.

‘Naar was transmitting to Xaol the secrets of a Ritual of Binding by which the freed spirit of Zorkaan could once again be enslaved,’ said Rimoah. ‘We now know that this ritual was enacted successfully by Xaol in the stronghold of Gazad Helkona.’

‘Naar's insatiable thirst for revenge is a menace that Lone Wolf has had to live with since the day he destroyed the Dark God's champions,’ said Guildmaster Banedon. ‘He maintains his vigilance against the constant threat of assassination by the agents of Naar, yet it seems he's been caught off-guard during the long march home to Sommerlund.’

‘Through the ritual enacted by Xaol, Naar has gained control over Zorkaan,’ replied Rimoah. ‘He sent this creature to assassinate Lone Wolf at a Kai encampment near Ruanon, yet the attempt was unsuccessful. Zorkaan failed to kill Lone Wolf … but he was able to subdue and abduct him.’

‘So where is Lone Wolf now?’ you asked, anxiously.

‘He is imprisoned in Gazad Helkona,’ replied Rimoah, ‘and he is in great peril. Only his Supreme Master Disciplines and the power of the Sommerswerd, his magical blade, have spared him from death by the hand of Naar's foul creation. Your leader is brave and resourceful, but I fear that Zorkaan's frequent attacks will weaken and eventually destroy Lone Wolf unless he is rescued quickly.’

Selflessly you volunteered to attempt such a rescue. Rimoah and Banedon were impressed by your courage and your confidence, and readily they agreed to help you achieve this difficult task. Rimoah informed you that Gazad Helkona is occupied by Xaol and his cohorts, which comprise Hammerland bandits and remnants of the army of Darklord Chlanzor, the former ruler of this city-fortress.

‘The stronghold is located in a remote volcanic region, surrounded by a petrified forest from which it takes its name. It is a difficult place to reach and assault by force,’ said Rimoah.

‘But where an army may fail, a single Kai may triumph,’ interjected Banedon, wisely.

At length you discussed the rescue and agreed upon a plan of action. Banedon will transport you aboard his flying ship
Cloud-dancer
to a valley in the Shezar Hills, situated fifty miles to the south of Gazad Helkona. Here you will disembark and then approach the fortress on foot. Banedon will remain aboard his flying ship, safely out of sight of Xaol's lookouts, where he will await a telepathic signal from Lone Wolf to confirm his rescue. Upon receiving this signal, he will bring
Cloud-dancer
into the centre of Gazad Helkona in order to collect you both. If you are unable to complete your mission to set Lone Wolf free, you must make your own way back to the flying ship.

During your mission, Lord Rimoah and the Elder Magi will use their combined powers to disrupt the channel of communication that exists between Naar and his agent Xaol. Rimoah is confident that this action will serve to prevent Xaol from detecting the arrival of
Cloud-dancer
, and it will also help to keep secret your approach to his grim stronghold.

BOOK: Trail of the Wolf
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