Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Though It Was Fairly Slow

I suspect that at some point between writing the first Lone Wolf Magnakai adventure, The Kingdoms of Terror, and starting on its follow-up, Castle Death, Joe Dever realised that he'd neglected to provide any clue as to the location of the next McGuffin in the series, hence the somewhat awkward revelation in Castle Death's 'The Story So Far...' bit that that information popped into my character's head just after the end of Kingdoms. The second Lorestone is in Herdos, around a thousand miles East-South-East of where the previous adventure ended.

Before I get on with the adventure, I should decide which Discipline I acquired at the end of the previous one. Given that I'm exploiting Lore-circles (combinations of Disciplines which provide bonuses to my attributes) to increase my chances of surviving some particularly harsh fights in later books, I should go for one of Huntmastery, Psi-Surge (advanced psychic attacks) and Nexus (telekinesis and resistance to extreme temperatures). This time I'm choosing Huntmastery, as, in addition to reducing the inconvenience caused by ambushes, it completes the Lore-Circle of Fire and raises my basic stats to
Combat Skill: 17
Endurance: 25
I can also add a new weapon to the proficiency list. I don't recall any of the available ones being particularly significant here, so I pick Mace in memory of the first Lone Wolf I played on this blog.

As usual, I can select extra equipment from a list before starting the adventure. I restock on arrows, grab an extra Meal and a lantern, and help myself to a couple of Fireseeds, which are essentially naturally occurring incendiary grenades.

I'm also given some additional money, and it's pointed out that any cash above the limit I can carry may be stored in the Kai monastery for future use. I presume I went to the monastery to put the first Lorestone into safe keeping - a quick detour 650-odd miles to the north just to stash away 4 surplus gold coins would be a bit silly. While at the monastery, I also leave my map of Tekaro behind (since I'm not likely to need it again) and put all the Combat Skill-enhancing Alether I acquired last book into storage because I remember what happens at the end of this adventure.

Centuries ago, the Elder Magi assisted the first Kai Grand Master at Herdos, so for perfectly sound and logical (yet undisclosed) reasons (definitely not a publicity stunt, honest) my next stop is Elzian, home of the Magi, which is only a couple of hundred miles beyond Herdos. There I am shown a vision of the fortress Kazan-Oud, which contains the Lorestone I seek. It also houses a powerful force of evil that the Magi aren't capable of destroying, so they suggest that I might want to deal with it myself while I'm in the area, if it's not too much bother.

For my journey to Herdos I am accompanied by a warrior-magician named Paido. Given that he's the hero of the mini-adventure in the Mongoose edition of book 8, I considered playing that before Castle Death, as I'm pretty sure the mini is set before this book rather than between the two. Still, if I were that intent on playing in order of internal chronology, I should probably have gone for the mini from Mongoose book 5 before starting the Lone Wolf series.

Anyway, Paido and I travel by sky-ship, and our conversation along the way includes the revelation that Paido's brother died in Kazan-Oud. I don't think there's any follow-up to that: Paido won't be accompanying me into the fortress to try and avenge his brother, and I have no recollection of a section detailing the discovery of the late Kasin's remains. It's just one of those 'awkward silence and change of topic' moments.

At Herdos I see one of the towers that create a magical shield around Kazan-Oud to prevent its inhabitants from getting out and causing trouble. It also prevents people from getting in, so I'm provided with an enchanted gem that will enable its bearer to pass through the shield. At night a fishing boat takes me out onto the lake surrounding the island on which the fortress stands, and once we draw near to the shield, I get into a coracle and paddle the rest of the way on my own.

There are two places where I could make a landing. If I remember rightly, the stone jetty is home to a voracious horde of rats, so I'll try the sheltered bay instead. And I do not remember correctly, as the rats are in the bay. Is it too late to retreat and head for the jetty? Yes. The rats swim after me and gnaw holes in the coracle. Oddly, I get asked if I have the Discipline of Curing. Nexus I could understand - the temperature resistance aspect would come in handy to protect me from the cold of the lake's waters. But Curing? It's not as if I'm going to have a chance of healing the boat, now is it?

And the consequence of my not having Curing is... that I get entangled in some of the lake's plant life and have to fight to get free before I drown. Which isn't difficult. I soon get to shore, and crouch down by a boulder to take stock. The soaking has ruined all the food I was carrying, and I've also lost a lantern and a healing potion. Still, things could be worse.

They are. The boulder's not a boulder. It's one of the eyes of some kind of beached leviathan, and is now opening to look at me. Running away is inadvisable when I have no idea of the extent of this thing's reach, so I pull out my sword and poke the beast in the eye. It doesn't like that, and seizes me with a tentacle. Perhaps I should have gone for Psi-surge rather than Huntmastery, as the former is the Discipline that gets a name-check here. As I don't have it, the tentacle squeezes me senseless, then conveys me to another not-a-boulder, which turns out to be the creature's mouth.

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