Aside : I am completely biased on this book. It was the first book in the series which I bought, and the third or fourth gamebook at all that I ever read. I’ll treat this (generally) as if I don’t know what’s coming, but admit in advance I know pretty much every nook and cranny of this superb gamebook. One massive plus for this book is that, unlike Flight From the Dark, it feels (to a youngster) like a genuine Lord of the Rings-esque epic journey, as compared (in this simile) to the gentle trip of the Hobbit.
The ‘Story so Far’ clarifies a few details about Lone Wolf’s quest. In the histories of this world, after the last time the Darklords were repelled from the realms of the ‘good guys’ there was a ceremonial exchange of national treasures. The Sommlending gave Durenor the Sommerswerd, a magical (MacGuffin) sorry, weapon. Durenor gave Sommerlund the Seal of Hammerdal, an equally valuable token.
Aside : I read this book many, many times without understanding completely that a ‘Seal’ was a ring. At various times, I thought it was a gemstone, a shield or just a pretty picture. (And yes, I know the ‘background’ section specifically describes it as a ring – you think I read that part carefully??) Anyway, the age-old compact between the countries was (is) that if Sommerlund was ever threatened, then Sommerlund would return the ring, and Durenor would hand over / return the Sommerswerd.
The King, after giving me the Seal, gives me the dire warning that my country can only hold out against the Darklords (who have now laid siege to the capital) for another forty days.
Hey, you can go around the WORLD in eighty days – this should be a snap!
Down to business. I get to select a sixth Kai Discipline and, for reasons that may be known to veterans of this book, I choose Animal Kinship.
Captain D’Val, the captain of the (King’s) Guard gives me several items for my travel.
Firstly, I get another (R10 + 10) = 17 Gold Crowns, giving me a total of 43.
I also get to pick two out of a number of goodies as laid out on a table before me.
Aside : I understand from a game perspective why it is important to limit the number of things you can take. However, it makes absolutely NO sense from a story point-of-view. You are going on what may be the most important mission in the history of this country – but you’d better not take a sword, a shield AND a healing potion – what would the neighbours think!?!
I select a healing potion (restores 4 Endurance at a time of my choosing) and a Shield, which adds two vital Combat Skill points in every combat where I possess it.
For what it is worth, my added Kai Discipline gives me the rank of ‘Aspirant’, rather than ‘Initiate’, although the Kai Lords who are going to enforce those titles is purely a matter of conjecture.
Armed to the metaphorical teeth, I set out on my adventure.
Captain D’Val escorts me to a carriage which takes me to the harbour and the driver points out my ship, the Green Sceptre. He assures me that the first mate, Ronan, will meet me at the ‘Good Cheer Inn’.
Feeling like my mission has not exactly been given the highest of priorities, I make my way over to the Inn, only to discover that the door is locked and the windows barred. Just as I make plans to instead order a beer from one of the rivals across the road, a hand grabs me and pulls me ‘into the darkness’.
Will that be mission over, before it even really started?
Stay tuned for the next instalment!
Final stats : CS : 17, E : 20, GC 43
Weapons : Dagger, Sword
Backpack : Meal, Healing Potion
Special Items : Map, Crystal Star, Shield (+2 to CS), Seal of Hammerdal (thanks Matteo!)
Final paragraph : 1