By Keith Martin
Stealer of Souls is a book I know I have completed before so I hoped I would stand a decent chance here. I was even more confident when I saw the stats that I managed to roll:
Wow, I will probably never roll a better hero than this! In this book I am an adventurer who is asked to rescue a good wizard called Alsander who has been locked up by the evil sorcerer Mordraneth. Mordraneth has been feeding off the fear of the recently dead, and he apparently prefers those that he has recently killed himself. I am not sure why he hasn’t killed Alsander but he is an all round bad egg.
Alsander is being held on the Island of Despair (they need to work on their branding I think!) so I hop on a ship to take me there. Things don’t start off well as we are attacked by a Giant Stormbird. The hero that I am, I stand and fought it off and for my bravery one of the crew members gave me some insect repellent (I never got to use this).
When we arrive at the island I take a smaller boat as the ship cannot dock there. On my way to the island I was attacked by a giant crab so I fight and kill it. Sadly this crab happened to be a pet (called Edwina) of a Sea Giant. He is so enraged that he attacks me on the spot. This is a harsh fight that a lesser hero would probably lose but I am able to kill him and, feeling a little bad at this turn of events, head off North to the direction that the Giant came from.
I soon find the Giant’s cave and I eat some of his broth before looting his belongings, finding some gold and taking some provisions. Poor giant. I go back to the trail and head West. It is cold and drizzly, much like the English countryside and after a while, the path splits and also heads north. I decide to investigate. I come to another cave and decide to stay the night. Before settling down I check the floor for anything nasty and get bitten by a poisonous centipede – ouch! I get a few hours sleep before carrying on the next day.
The next day I am greeted by a talking lizard…. The lizard has something that it is willing to give me if I help kill a Stormbird that has been raiding its nest. I agree to this, slay the Stormbird and return to the lizard who is as good as his word and gives me a rose pearl and a silver medallion – these are to prove useful in the adventure to come. Thanking the lizard (fighting fantasy has me writing this as if it is normal!) I head back South to the junction and continue West.
As the day draws to the end I am thinking about finding somewhere safe to stay for the night. At this point, a tree sprite jumps down from his tree and offers me a hammock up the tree. I decide to accept this offer. Unsurprisingly I wake to find him rifling through my backpack. I react angrily but agree to spare his life so the little wretch gives me some magic dust for my act of leniency. He promises not to disturb me for the rest of the night and he keeps to this promise so I wake up quite refreshed in the morning.
Before long I come to a cross roads and head South. I eventually meet some of the locals who take me to their village. The chief introduces himself as Akandi and it appears he has a shop! I decide to buy a silver feather, cat statuette and a rope. These were all pretty useless as it turns out, I should have purchased the Ebony Key but I wasn’t to know that! Before I leave the shaman tells me not to go North at the crossroads. Bearing this in mind, when I reach the crossroads I head West.
The trail to the West turns Northwest and I see a small shack quite a distance away so I go and investigate. When I enter the house I can see a man tied up in chains and he reaches out to me for help. I decide to wait and see what happens next. What happens next is the man transforms into a dark priest and casts a chilling spell on me which does 6 points of stamina damage! Ouch! I slay the priest before settling down for the night in this rather spooky, evil house. There is a trapdoor in the floor which bothers me somewhat but all that happens is I have an odd dream which is apparently a good omen (the silver medallion from the lizard helped me here…). In the morning I open the trapdoor…
I go down a tunnel and eventually come to an iron grill – I have found the entrance to the Iron Crypts, this is where the old wizard should be locked up. I lurk around the entrance for a while until a Goblin appears on the other side. I make a noise to get its attention and he comes to investigate with a friend. They are easy prey and they left the gate open so I stroll through. I come to a dead end which turns into hidden door. Opening the door, I find a room inhabited by two more Goblins. I put them to the sword and pick up the bone dice they were playing with when I burst in. There are several doors leading from this room and I pick the south door.
The room is a small store room with a mound of skulls. As I stand there blood starts flowing from the eye sockets of the skulls. Not surprisingly I slam the door shut and take the West door from the Goblin room. This opens up to a corridor and ends at a T junction. I head south before walking into a cavern. There is a large ominous looking statue standing in my way and it demands a gem. I oblige by giving it the gem that the lizard gave me and it crushes it up before letting me past. I go up some stairs at the end of the cavern.
Next I find myself in an East West passageway and also a mistake in the book. I am asked if I want to go west or west! I assume on of them means East so I head “west” which actually turns out to be East… Anyway, I then take a side passage to the North and come to an open air room with a Razorbeak bird ripping something apart. It then tries to do the same thing to me so I have to kill it. I don’t have the grappling hook I need to investigate its nest so I have to leave by the same door to the South. A strange smoke blocks my way East so I have to go West past the steps and turning South as the passage curves.
I travel past two rooms that need keys to open (Ebony key or a bunch of keys). At the end of the passage is another door that I can open. The room beyond has two Orcs who attack me as I enter. They only have 1 gold piece so I take this and open the door to the East. This room contains nothing of interest so instead I backtrack and go through the South door. I go past another door where I need that blasted Ebony key and instead head East down another passageway. This passage ends at a door and on opening it I am attacked by another Orc. I slay it quickly but ominously the Orc shouts “Master! Master!” before he died. His master soon enters the room…
In runs a Dark Priest who thankfully doesn’t have the time to cast a spell on me before I swing at him. The Dark Priest has a gold bracelet so I stupidly put this on my wrist. Apparently the bracelet hates anyone less evil than the dark prince (the book’s words, not mine) and that would be me – it contracts, causing me some skill and stamina damage before I can remove it. I leave by the East door and find a meal laid out for someone. I decide to eat it and gain some stamina back. I enter the next room to the South which contains a trapdoor and a bed. Making sure all the doors are barred, I settle down for a nap. Upon waking I open the trapdoor and climb down to the landing below.
In the first room there are a couple of doors and I go East. In this room there is a man asleep with his sword. I decide to wake him but he doesn’t take too kindly to this and I have to fight him. He doesn’t last long and I manage to pick up a crowbar and some funky armour before heading back through the only door in the room. This time I head south into a short corridor and through another door. In the next room is another meal set out for someone but this time I ignore it and go through a door to the East. In this room there is a man sitting at a desk. I tell him that the people upstairs sent me and he takes me for a torturer, here to torture poor Alsander. He obliges with some directions and I leave the room back West and take another door to the West that opens up into a corridor.
The corridor splits in two and I head West before the tunnel turns South. I come to a side passage to the East that ends at a door. There is a sign on the door that says “Danger! Keep Out!” Of course I open the door and go into the room. Wouldn’t you know it, I need an Ebony key to open the door! This time, however, I am able to break the door down with the loss of some stamina. In the room there is a chest guarded by a very odd spherical creatures with odd claws. I kill the Diadrone and turn my attention to the chest. Luckily I manage to miss the trap that has been built into the chest (this must have something pretty swish in it) but guess what? The chest will open if I have that damn Ebony Key – that thing is really haunting me! Thankfully I can break into the chest using the crowbar I picked up earlier and some stamina loss. Inside the chest is a bronze ring and a platinum amulet. I put them both on and neither of them hurt me in any horrible way so I guess they will come in handy later. I leave the room and go through the door to the South.
The next room is large and there is a fountain in the corner. I toss a gold coin into it and it is dissolved by the acid – good job I didn’t drink any of it, huh? I leave the room by the ajar door to the East. In this room is the jailer who also decides I must be the torturer. I wait for him to return with Alsander before attacking and killing him. I unlock Alsander’s shackles and give him one of my provisions. He tells me that Mordrandreth is actually in the iron crypts too so I agree to go and slay him to rid the world of him forever. Alsander then teaches me some spells for the final part of my journey.
I am shown a secret door out of this room that leads to some Dark Elves before I can get to the “Realm of Illusions”. As Alsander said, the Dark Elves are present and correct so I slay them and take their gold and food before finding the teleport room through another door. I step through and find myself in the Empire of Illusions.
The tunnels leading off this room are all different colours so I pick the Yellow corridor because it sounds less dangerous than the red or black one. The yellow tunnel contains an Eagle illusion which I must overcome in combat before moving on. The tunnel is becoming brown and turning green if I turn in a certain direction so I go that way – green sounds the safest colour of all! The green tunnel turns blue, however, and I am confronted by a massive wave. I think I am drowning until I am rescued my Mordraneth’s assistant who informs me it is an illusion (yup, got that myself I think!). He then gives me golden flask which he says will help and I stash it in my backpack. He then runs off to escape because in his opinion, Mordraneth has become raving mad! Interesting…
I go through a brown archway and find myself in a sewer and am attacked by a plague of rats. I decide to make a run for it and suffer a bit of stamina damage from them nibbling my ankles. I am then greeted by a choice of a yellow-green or a rainbow tunnel – well, the colours are certainly getting more sophisticated! I decide the rainbow tunnel sounds too good to be true so I take the other one. This corridor opens up into a cavern that has a floor entirely covered in snakes. This looks a little dangerous so I decide to cast a dispel illusion spell. This works wonderfully and the snakes disappear so I head down an azure passageway leading off from the cavern.
The passage turns into a bridge and then leads into a black passage which opens up into a dark cavern with wells of lava. I am then faced with a Death Skull which is apparently not an illusion and hungry for my soul… It isn’t after I put my sword through it a few times. As I leave the cavern I can chose between a light and airy passage or a darker frosty one. Again, I suspect the light airy tunnel could be a red herring so I take the frosty one. This tunnel leads to a cavern that has many skeletons on the floor. I say a quick prayer for them which is good for their souls and also good for mine, gaining me some luck and restoring the skill I lost from that dratted bracelet I tried on in the iron caves. I head down an earthy coloured tunnel next.
This tunnel ends in a door and opens up into a bit of a bog standard room, except that there is a skeleton illusion trying to attack me. I run for a violet tunnel but it strikes me in the back, causing me a bit of an injury. Thankfully, as it turns to strike me again, my silver Medallion glows and turns it into smoke – hurrah! I head down the violet passage unimpeded. This passage ends in a cavern with a spider illusion, which I must fight before entering a splendid looking chamber and up on the balcony I see Mordraneth himself! Ominously, however, he is muttering and making signs with his hand…
I run for the steps on the right, heading up to his balcony just as he shoots a fireball at me. My bronze ring helps me withstand the worst of the blast and I only suffer minimal damage. I am now standing rather close to the evil mage himself. I fight him in hand to hand combat and he is a tough opponent, but not as tough as me! After a long battle I manage to slay him and I see those words that I have only seen once before in 34 books… “turn to 400!”
Mordraneth is dead, I have released countless souls from their torment and the colourful illusions are banished and I am left standing in a normal looking cavern. There is a passageway leading out into the light so I go that way and wait for the ship to take me home to fame and glory!
I have won a second book in this series! I did kind of bulldoze my way through though due to my titanic stats that I rolled at the start. There is certainly a better way through this adventure, probably involving the Ebony key so perhaps I will try and find that next time.
I enjoyed Stealer of Souls – it is a very traditional book with an overground romp before a dungeon crawl leading to an otherworldly lair of an evil wizard, so I guess I’d say its not that original but it is good fun.