Read The Curse of Naar Online

Authors: Joe Dever

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

The Curse of Naar (6 page)

9

Patiently you wait until the bridge is clear of traffic before you muster your courage and seize the opportunity to make a dash for the far side.

Pick a number from the
Random Number Table
. If you possess Assimilance, add 1 to the number you have picked. If you possess Grand Huntmastery, add 1. If your current
ENDURANCE
score is 10 or lower, deduct 2.

If your total score is now 4 or lower,
turn to 241
.

If your score is 5 or higher,
turn to 196
.

10

The instant you tap the tenth square, amber sparks flare and crackle into life to encircle the opening like the trail of a slow-burning fuse.
5
You sense that the magical shield which protects this hatch is rapidly disappearing. When you can no longer detect any residue of magical energies, you pull yourself through the trapdoor and climb into the nest of fire.

Turn to 250
.

[5] This is the correct answer to the combination lock in
Section 239
.

11

You speak the words of the Brotherhood Spell
Net
and point your right hand at the attacking creature. A gout of sticky fibres shoots from your palm and engulfs the beast, ensnaring its head and forefeet in a gluey net which brings it crashing to the floor at the foot of the ramp.

As the beast struggles to break free from its sticky prison, you turn your attention to the portal and examine its surface in an attempt to find a way to open it. Using your advanced Kai skills you are able to decipher enough of the runic text to discover the secret code which keeps it secure. Confidently you press a section of the surface and, just as you believe it will, it moves inwards with an audible
clunk!
Moments later the portal creaks open and you hurry through, slamming it shut behind you to prevent the beast from following in your wake.

Turn to 210
.

12

You raise the axe and stagger to where Alyss sits imprisoned within her sparkling force-field. Then, with one precise and powerful blow from Kekataag's fearsome weapon, you shatter the sorcerous prison. The anguished scream of Naar echoes through the corridors and dungeons of Dazganon. As its terrible timbre begins to rumble and fade, you are horrified to see a host of monstrous creatures burst forth from the smoky walls of the inner sanctum and close in upon you from all sides.

Turn to 52
.

13

You stride towards Nza'pok and raise your weapon, grimly determined to rid the universe of this foul creature.

‘So perish all spawn of evil,’ you cry, and, with one swift and mighty blow, you sunder his ghastly body in two. From the torn halves of his carcass there is an eruption of putrid gas that makes you reel backwards and cover your mouth and nose. Rapidly this gas dissipates and, in a matter of seconds, the remains of Nza'pok and his amulet have turned to dust.

A collective cry of horror arises from the distant horde the moment you slay their master. Fearing that the destruction of their leader will spur them to seek revenge, you hurry away along a track that winds through the settlement of huts and down to a beach covered with coarse black sand. Here a ramshackle jetty, constructed from wood and bone, protrudes from the lee of a sand dune and out into the sluggish grey sea. Fringing the beach is dense jungle from where there suddenly arises a cacophony of hellish cries, echoing those of the chaos-horde. You glimpse shadows moving in the undergrowth, and when you stop momentarily to take a longer look, several arrows come shooting out of the trees. They arc towards you and explode when they hit the sand close by. Your Kai senses warn you that there are a great number of archers lurking in the jungle, far more than you can hope to defeat single-handedly. Anxious to escape while you are still able, you hurry down the beach to the jetty where you discover a sea-going canoe. Without daring to look back, you leap into this canoe, cast off its mooring rope, and paddle as fast as you can away from the shore.

Once you feel sure that you are beyond arrow range, you attempt to follow the coastline in the hope of finding a safer place to put ashore. But a mist sweeps in across the water and engulfs your tiny craft before you can change course. This mist thickens rapidly to become a dense sea fog, the like of which you have never experienced. Despite your advanced Kai skills, you are unable to see through it and you quickly lose all sense of time and direction.

After what seems like many hours, you eventually catch sight of a dark shape low in the water which, at first, appears to be a distant island. You paddle towards it but as you draw closer your senses suddenly scream a warning that you are heading into deadly danger. Instantly you reverse your stroke to change course, but it is already too late. Two slits open in the dark shape and a ghostly light washes over the fog-wreathed ocean. You feel the canoe lurch violently as it is hit by a powerful undercurrent and, in the next terrifying instant, you are sucked into the maw of a titanic sea creature and swallowed whole.

Tragically, your life and your quest for the Moonstone come to a watery end here.

14

To your relief you sense that your precautions have worked; the dragon no longer suspects that it is carrying a stowaway. It raises its head and continues its flight towards the construction area which lies close to the main temple. Upon reaching this busy area it hovers above an expanse of levelled ground which is covered with dozens of cargo nets full of blocks awaiting collection by the building teams. A crew of four reptilians guide your net gently to the ground and then swiftly they unhook it from the dragon's harness using long poles.

From the safety of your hiding place you watch as the dragon flies away to collect another cargo. As soon as the reptilians move on to attend to the next delivery of blocks, you leave the net and make your way as quickly as you can towards the main temple.

Turn to 220
.

15

Despite your brave attempt to dodge the onrushing lance of flame, it glances your back and sends you spinning backwards across the hall's slimy floor.

Pick a number from the
Random Number Table
(0=10). The number you have picked is equal to the number of
ENDURANCE
points you have lost as a result of your wounds. If you possess Deliverance, you may reduce this total by 1 point.

Aware now that the Lord of Decay seated on the right-hand throne is Jantoor, you stagger to your feet and shout out his secret name. Immediately the creature becomes immobile. The sight of his frozen form — and the sudden cessation of mind contact — throws his brother-lord into a state of panic and confusion. In a blind rage he utters a curse and, to your horror, you see the maggot swarm emerge from the shadowy recesses of the hall. As the tide of larvae writhe towards you they begin to swell grotesquely in size.

If you are to save yourself from this monstrous horde you must quickly use the secret name of the remaining Künae. But there is no time to consult the Tome of Darkness: you must try to recall the name from memory.

If you think the secret name is ‘Rhunotar’,
turn to 96
.

If you think the secret name is ‘Rhunadan’,
turn to 311
.

If you think the secret name is ‘Rhunaguin’,
turn to 289
.

16

As you tumble and spin through the void of the Shadow Gate, you struggle to keep your eyes focused on a tiny mote of light which glimmers in the dark, immeasurable distance. You sense that your passage through this astral corridor is being guided by the concerted will of the council gathered at the entrance to the portal. Using their psychic powers they are attempting to steer your body through a maze of channels which will lead towards that remote speck of light. Sensing this, you draw upon your improved Kai Discipline and use it to aid the magicians' efforts. By doing so you are able to stabilize yourself and reduce the terrible fatigue of your journey.

Turn to 90
.

17

As you descend once more towards the base of the column of light, you use your innate Kai curing skills to treat your burns and you count yourself fortunate to have survived the fire-storm that is ravaging the surface. You resolve to try to avoid the Lavas and, upon reaching the dais, you see that the creature has not moved from its position. With bated breath, you step out from the shimmering light and tiptoe silently towards the tower archway, thirty yards distant.

Pick a number from the
Random Number Table
. If you possess Grand Pathsmanship, add 2 to the number you have picked.

If your total score is now 5 or less,
turn to 93
.

If it is 6 or more,
turn to 235
.

18

Suddenly you fathom the identity of the third spirit occupying this hall. It is Cadak, Arch Druid of the Cenerese, sworn enemy of the Kai and all who ally themselves to the cause of Good. His body was destroyed on Magnamund five years ago but his spirit survives here, in this reeking hall, bound in eternal servitude to the Lords of Decay.

Your heart pounds as you witness a swirling, ghostly, gossamer shape arise from the hollow rib cage of the carcass and snake towards you like a vampiric mist. As it draws closer, you hear the chilling voice of Cadak invade your mind: ‘From beyond death the powers of decay grant me revenge, Lone Wolf!’

If you possess Kai-screen,
turn to 249
.

If you do not possess this Grand Master Discipline,
turn to 4
.

19

The few remaining vines that survive your deadly blows rapidly disappear into the canopy of branches and, within seconds of your victory, the jungle becomes deathly silent once more. You wipe your weapon against the trunk of a tree to remove the worst of the foul-smelling ichor, and then you move back along the trail towards the beach. However, when you reach the edge of the trees you see a patrol of scaly-winged reptiles swooping and gliding along the rocky shoreline. They have discovered the remains of the canoe and are now searching the beach for signs of survivors.

Rather than risk being spotted by these vicious-looking creatures, you stay hidden beneath the jungle canopy and return once more along the trail. At the place where you had previously been halted by the curtain of bloodsucking vines, you now discover the way ahead is open and you press on until you come to the edge of a large clearing. This expanse of level ground is devoid of foliage yet it is littered with strange fruits that resemble gigantic grey pineapples. Beyond these curious fruits you can see the ruins of a settlement partially overgrown with moss. Warily you make your way around the fruits and across the clearing towards a statue which is crouching amongst the ruins. It is constructed of a smooth, lustrous black mineral and is fashioned in the likeness of some evil beast of prey. It reminds you of a hyena, but one with a massive lower jaw set with a pair of sabre-toothed fangs. Between its forelegs is a flight of rubble-strewn steps leading down to an open door. You detect waves of power emanating from somewhere beyond this darkened doorway, but you are unable to determine just how deep below the ground the source of this energy is located.

If you possess Telegnosis and wish to use this skill to spirit-walk through the doorway to investigate what lies beyond,
turn to 76
.

If you do not possess this skill or choose not to use it,
turn to 177
.

20

You are wise not to trust Cadak's repentant plea for forgiveness: it is a trick. Sensing that you have seen through the charade, his spirit-entity becomes enraged. It howls a curse and the ring instantly transforms into a huge scaly worm. This creature has no eyes, but it does possess a large mouth packed with razor-sharp fangs which it snaps repeatedly, like an angry dog. You draw and raise your weapon and, in the space of a heartbeat, you deal the worm a mighty blow which splits it open from mouth to tail. Cadak's spirit emits a hideous scream, as if the destruction of the worm has wounded him deeply. Rapidly his spirit-form fades until all that is left is an echo of his plaintive cry of pain and frustration.

Invigorated by your victory, you turn your attention now to the huge carcass that dominates this hall. You are determined to find a way out of this stinking chamber and you feel sure the answer lies somewhere here. You are advancing towards these huge rotting remains when a new and sinister threat to your life suddenly materializes.

Turn to 228
.

21

Automatically your advanced psychic defences knit together to shield the fabric of your mind from this sudden, violent assault. But the speed and intensity of the attack is such that it threatens to penetrate your formidable mind-armour. Just how successful your defences will be is dependent upon your previous experience of psychic combat.

If your current level of Kai rank is Sun Knight or lower,
turn to 187
.

If your current level of Kai rank is between Grand Thane and Sun Lord,
turn to 219
.

If your current level of Kai rank is Grand Crown or higher,
turn to 82
.

22

The unexpected sight of your face in the pool fills Shamath with a blind rage. In her fury, she expels a mass of psychic energy from which, using your Magnakai Discipline of Divination, you are able to extract scores of vivid images. They are Shamath's memories of what befell her after she failed to resurrect Darklord Vashna from the depths of the Maakengorge.

From the collage of images you deduce that your destruction of the Shadow Gate at Maakengorge forced Shamath to return to the Plane of Darkness. As punishment for her failure to complete her mission, Naar imprisoned her and commanded Shamath's hated rival — Avarvae the Tormentress — to ruin her evil beauty. Satisfied that the Demoness had paid for her failure, Naar allowed her to return to her realm where, ever since, she has been goaded and tormented by her malicious rival.

The appearance of your face in the pool has brought back these haunting memories. It has also alerted Shamath to your presence in her Throne Room. As her rage subsides, you sense that she is communicating telepathically with her two lieutenants. Suddenly, all three turn to stare at the pillar behind which you are hiding, and your Sixth Sense tells you that they are preparing to launch a combined psychic attack.

If you possess Kai-surge and have attained the rank of Kai Grand Guardian or higher,
turn to 267
.

If you do not possess this skill, or if you have yet to attain this level of Kai Mastery,
turn to 335
.

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