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Chapter 23: Back To Middle-Earth

Haldor knocks on Zemekkys' door again.

"I have found the Blood-Runed Athame, but there was no Resonating Diamond."

"Of course there was no Resonating Diamond..." replies Zemekkys. "Did you think Briagh would let one loose for a second?"

"Briagh?"

"Briagh, the Great Sand Wyrm. He sleeps on a hoard of precious gems and metals. Including diamonds. A Resonating Diamond, you see, is nothing more than a plain diamond before it is infused by Briagh's life energies."

"And where may I find Briagh's lair?"

"South of the Sunwall. I'll mark it on a map..."

Haldor travels south again and enters the sandpit of Briagh. He is welcomed by sand creatures... worms and drakes. Suddenly, he is hit by a massive sand storm from behind. Haldor has just the time to turn around before a huge sand wyrm starts attacking him and summon sandworms to his help. Haldor retreats to a safe spot and starts casting a fire blast. It should be enough to reduce all those worms to ash...

In the lair, Haldor finds Briagh's stash of gems. Among them, a Resonating Diamond... Haldor travels back to the Gates of Morning. This time Zemekkys should be able to create a portal to Middle-Earth.

"I have a Resonating Diamond." says Haldor.

"Then let's go prepare that portal..." replies Zemekkys.

Haldor follows the shabby elf to a clean place in the Gates of Morning. Zemekkys starts to draw runes on the floor using the athame and diamond dust. Suddenly, the ground starts to shake!

"The portal is done!" says Zemekkys.

Without delay, Haldor uses the Orb of Many Ways and activates the portal. In the blink of an eye, he appears in the outskirts of Minas Tirith. But the portal is gone...

"Bah... there is still that portal in the Mines of Moria." he thinks to himself. But is it still the case?

Eden the Rogue, Chapter Seven: Visions Of Arenji

Note: Bear in mind Eden's adventure here takes place in beta12b, pre-rogue traps and pre-Maj'Eyal!

"Ah, this man looks like a guard. Excuse me, sir! My name is Eden, a simple traveller from Bree. You’ve probably heard from that novice mage who has the power to allow people into Angolwen without being admitted himself; I’m to be welcomed here, correct? Perhaps you could show me to a reasonably priced inn? Nothing Haradrim, their food tends to give me --"

The minotaur Eden had approached, fed up with the rambling of the puny ape-headed human before him, swung its battleaxe down in a brutal arc.


"Where… where am I?"

Eden opened his eyes, then promptly slammed them shut again. Commanding his eyes to show him something different, he tentatively opened them again.

A desolate wasteland stretched before him, its surface covered with unnatural-looking craters and rubble. No evidence of life could be seen, not a single plant. There was evidence of former life, though: Skeletons, heaps of them. The sky was dark, filled with roiling, purple clouds, sporadically shooting spears of fire down at the blighted land.

But Eden wasn’t focussed on this. He was focussed on the figure before him. Only the wildest, most shunned and zealous cults followed him. Normal folk didn’t dare think of his name, let alone speak it. Eden had doubted his existence too, but he was now stood before him: Arenji, the dark Vala of misfortune, chance and failure. Eden now realised that the skeletons before him must have been moments from survival before their deaths: One had a potion of full healing in its bony grip, and another held a piece of parchment, the controlled phase door incantation on it half-read.

"Enjoying your adventure, mortal?" Arenji boomed, his voice redolent with scoreboards and ASCII gravestones.

Eden squeaked in response. It seemed his vocal cords were rather more shocked than the rest of his body was.

"I needn’t tell you your fate, Eden. You’ve known it yourself, ever since you took up the Boots of Tom Bombadil in the Trollshaws…"

"E-Eden’s Guile," Eden stammered. Yes, so I just corrected a Vala, Eden thought in disbelief. He cleared his throat; the idea that Arenji was going to kill him regardless of what he said gave him a peculiar form of confidence, "Y-You know, some people in life win, r-regardless of your actions. You… you’re not all-powerful!"

Arenji’s dark eyes burnt through Eden. The supernatural equivalent of a smirk appeared on his lips, "Perhaps. Your case is a special one, Eden. You’re living on borrowed time. Already, this world is fading. Another world will replace it, a world you sadly will not be a part of. Other rogues will take your place… rogues that can lay traps, say…"

"Traps!" Eden exclaimed, "Listen, Arenji, you say this world is fading, but the only proof we have of that is your words. Maybe you’re wrong! Maybe… maybe this new world and mine can exist, together!" Metaphysical debate wasn’t Eden’s strong suit, and he soon found himself saying the first thing that came to mind. After all, he was in a hellish wasteland confronting a figure from myths and legends – he could’ve said "argle-bargle-ningy-nong" if he wanted and it would have been just as effective.

"Think that if you will," Arenji mocked, "It matters little. Soon, your world shall be destroyed in an entirely different sense…"

"Different how?"

Arenji cast an eldritch hand out, indicating the wasteland around him, "Behold, this act of destruction heralds the birth of a new world! Your kind may soon come to call it… the Spellblaze…"

"Right…" Eden considered calling the maleficent deity before him a nutcase, decided against it, then complimented himself on his wise choice.

"Who knows? Maybe you will survive, in some form. Your petty acts of burglary and stabbing may continue in the new realm. But know this: While the other Valar may vanish, I will endure, and I’ll be just the same… you silly goose!"

Eden was baffled, "Did… you just say silly goose?"

Arenji was gone, replaced by Grim, "Rise and shine, Eden!"


With a startled snort, Eden awoke, laid out on the labyrinth’s floor. Beside him was the repeatedly-stabbed body of a minotaur. Eden scratched his chin, silently thanked himself for his reflexes, and walked away.

 Level 15!
 +2 Strength
 +2 Dexterity
 +2 Constitution
 +3 Dual Strike
 +1 Weapon Combat

Eden frowned. He appeared to have forgotten to better himself when he achieved level fourteen. “I suppose I did have a lot on my plate, what with Bree and everything…”

MAZE 2

"How long does this circuitous corridor go on for? Surely there must be a shop or something soon…!"

MAZE 3

"How do mages live like this?! Maybe they just teleport between their homes and shops and things, ignoring all this maze stuff. Yevanna’s stockings, no wonder so many mages are obese."

MAZE 4

"Come on Eden, focus. Nobody said reaching Angolwen was going to be easy. Just stay calm."

MAZE 5

"hahaaahahhahahah paths and paths and paths and paths naaahahahaahaha"

MAZE 6

"Ahh, now this looks special." Eden had spied a dagger. While it may have looked normal to a passing layman, the distinguished murderer would recognise it as being of dwarven-steel construction. Dwarves, while not busy going mad, killing their nobles and flooding valleys with magma, make stellar equipment. Furthermore, the blade seemed to be coated with a corrosive acid, and its serrated edge lent itself well to massacre.

"An acidic implement of massacre…" Eden thought. Hardly stealthy, but then Eden didn’t consider himself a particularly cunning rogue. A good set of knives was a fine replacement for intelligence, anyway.

 Level 16!
 +2 Dexterity
 +1 Constitution
 +1 Knife Mastery
 +1 Lethality

MAZE 7

"I’m beginning to think – this is just an inkling, mind, just the tiniest thought flitting through the deepest, most subconscious part of my psyche – that this may not be Angolwen."

"PUNY HUMAN," Came a rumbling roar from the darkness beyond, "YOU DARE INTRUDE UPON THE LABYRINTH OF --"

"FLURRYFLURRYFLURRYFLURRYFLURRY"


"Sorry for not letting you finish your big introduction," Eden shrugged at the minotaur lord’s carcass, "My physician says I have an abnormally small melodrama gland. Still, it looks like my little jaunt here wasn’t completely worthless…"

"Helm the Hammerhand," Eden thought to himself as he held up the stark iron helm, "Hero of the Westdike. Now there was a man who knew strategy. After all, there’s little more terrifying than being attacked by a mad hairy man in the middle of a snowstorm!"

"Now for the journey back up…" Thought Eden with reluctance, "Good thing I’ve got a good sense of direction. This maze detour wasn’t my fault; anyone would think this was Angolwen!"


http://img222.imageshack.us/img222/271/edenoftlo.png

Eden the Rogue, Chapter Six: Eden The Wronged

TROLLSHAWS 1

"Dumb, dirty, stupid, freakin’…"

TROLLSHAWS 2

"Oh, Eden! You stopped a menace to our town?! Oops! Wrong menace!"

TROLLSHAWS 3

"I swear, once I’ve got that trunk, I’ll see it’s put to use…"

TROLLSHAWS 4

"An’ then I’ll run away and they’ll all be like, "Where’s Eden? Where’s Eden?""

TROLLSHAWS 5

"Erm… if I can interrupt your hateful rambling for a moment?"

Eden spun around – forgoing his usual stabbing frenzy on meeting a new friend – and beheld a strange warrior. He must have been wearing over a hundred pounds of sheer plate armour, and over two hundreds of pounds of armour polish. He shone so brightly it almost appeared like he was on fire. Eden shielded his eyes, "Geez, looking at you is like staring at the sun, you know that?"

"Good," The warrior grinned, "Just as a sun paladin should be. My name is Belebeth, and I need your help."

"You need… my help?" Eden was dumbfounded for a moment, but this soon gave way to irritation, "Let me guess, you’re here to slay Bill, right? For the glory?"

"What?"

"Well, listen here. Bill might just be another notch on your mace, you great and mighty warrior from the east that I don’t know about yet, but to me he’s everything! I need to slay Bill so that my hometown finally accepts me again! Understand?"

"Listen, knave," Belebeth scowled, "I have already fought Bill…"

"I knew it!"

"… and now I’m in trouble. I’m wounded. I need to flee."

Eden was stunned, "You… lost to Bill?! You, a sun paladin?" On seeing Belebeth nod, Eden suddenly felt very defenceless. Each shadow the trees around him cast suddenly looked like big, hungry trolls. On taking a closer look at Belebeth’s armour, Eden noticed several huge, trunk-shaped dents.

"Will you help me reach my recall portal?" Belebeth asked.

As it happened, it didn’t appear that Belebeth needed much help reaching his recall portal at all. Even not at his full strength a sun paladin is a deadly foe, as much of the Trollshaw’s wildlife found out. Fortunately for Eden however, Belebeth still felt the need to reward him as they found his portal.

"The Chant of Fortitude is a very useful ability, Eden. Use it well. I see that you are already invoking a hymn however…"

"Yes," Eden replied, idly waving his hand through the black aura that surrounded him, "Is that a problem?"

"Not at all. You can keep a chant and a hymn going simultaneously. It’s like throat singing, give it a try!"

Awkwardly, Eden attempted to incorporate the new chant into the hymn he was already reciting, singing both songs simultaneously, one line after another. After a few false starts he finally mastered it, and the aura that surrounded him shone with a new golden glow. Eden felt his head, woozy from the forces of light and darkness clashing inside it, "Ugh, now I know how that Dizzy character felt."

A few short goodbyes were exchanged, and Belebeth disappeared through his recall portal. "I wonder what a sun paladin was doing in these parts," Eden thought to himself, "Shoot. I forgot to ask him if he was the one who had left those tattered paper scraps all over the place. Oh well, at least we didn’t run into --"

"GRAAAGH!"

"AAGH!"

Quick as lightning, Eden whipped around and thrust his daggers out at the first thing he saw. Bill, stood over Eden in his terrible, foul-smelling majesty, slowly felt at the two horrific wounds that marked his chest, gave a confused, "Whuurga?" and keeled over backwards, the felled tree in his hand falling like a… felled tree.

Eden stood over (or rather stood beside – even prone Bill was remarkably big) his supposed enemy. Thinking back over his recent adventures, Eden realised that what he saw as one of his biggest flaws – wildly stabbing at anything that sneaks up on him – was in fact one of his greatest strengths, because it had just earned him, in his mind, the love of Bree.

"Yes!" Eden cheered, "Bill is vanquished! Now all that’s left to do is to return triumphant, with… my… trophy…" Eden’s gaze fell on the humungous tree trunk, "… Oh, by Aule’s nostrils, this is going to be painful."

BREE

"Eden! You’ve returned!"

Panting and exhausted, his leather armour soaked completely through with sweat, Eden groaned and heaved as he dragged the enormous tree trunk through Bree’s town square. The mayor watched him incredulously, remaining silent until Eden shakily addressed him. "One… one vanquished, Bill… I-I mean one Bill, vanquished. I need to sit down…"

"Eden," the mayor said as he stooped down to Eden’s slumped body, "You have done this town a great service. I thank you, and Bree thanks you."

Eden managed a weak smile, "Does that mean I can use the stores again? I could really go for a potion of greater healing…"

The mayor grinned, but said grin soon turned to an awkward grimace, and even before he started to shake his head Eden knew what was coming. "Well, I wish I could say yes, but you see…"

"What…?!"

"You have to look at it from my perspective," Said the mayor soothingly, "While I thank you for your recent service, I still have to think about all the crimes you have committed previously. After all, this is but one act, and there’s no guarantee that you’ve truly put your thieving ways behind you…"

Eden was silent.

"I suppose, if we received proof that this wasn’t a chance occurrence…"

AMON SÛL 1

Eden cast his gaze across the dank, mossy lobby of the ruined tower he had entered, and sighed. Unlike Bill, he had heard no rumours regarding a shade terrorising Bree townsfolk. If this shade truly was a threat to Bree, it was certainly a low-key one. With resignation, Eden unsheathed his daggers and walked down the tower’s corridors…

"Aha!"

"WHOA!" (stab-stab-stab) "Hey!" (stab-stab-stab) "Aren’t you meant to be on level five?!" (stab-stab-stab) "That’s sneaky!"

Finally setting his eyes on the figure who had appeared behind him, Eden saw that it was not a shade, but a seer. The seer, a young woman who wore a long, cashmere robe and a smile wider than the Great Sea, declared, "Genuflect, my friend! You stand in the presence of the great Xanodann!"

"… Xanodann."

"Xanodann the mighty! Xanodann the powerful! Master of all! Leader of men! Well-liked by animals!"

"Stop stealing lines from Tyrian 2K,” Eden snapped, "Tell me, Xanodann, what would such an obviously powerful and mighty seer be doing on the first level of Amon Sûl?"

"Well --"

"Furthermore, what would such a powerful and mighty seer be doing on the first level of Amon Sûl, wounded?"

"…"

Eden chuckled, "Those rats certainly bite hard, don’t they? Couple of dozen of those and they might even break the skin!"

"Silence!" Xanodann pointed down one of the tower’s dark corridors, “Take me to my recall portal. I wanna go home."

"My pleasure," Grinned Eden, walking ahead of Xanodann, "To be honest, this area is rather beneath me now. I’m used to greater perils. Someday you’ll underst -- ARRGH!"

Without warning, a bolt of pure arcane energy had screamed from the darkness, knocking Eden off his feet and leaving a huge, smoking hole in his leather armour. Skeleton mages! Life’s little reminder that you’re not invincible. Taking his opponents more seriously, Eden called, "Alright! You want trouble?! I’ve got a bag of it right -- GWAARGH!"

Without warning once again, a second manathrust tore through Eden, this time from behind. "Manathrusts don’t ricochet!" He gasped to himself, "What did that?!"

Turning on the spot, Eden noticed that Xanodann had her hand out, her cheeks beginning to flush red. "Sorry," She mumbled, "I-I was going to get that skeleton and… you were in the way?"

"That almost put me away, you fool seer! I want you to keep your hands in your pockets for the rest of this fight, you hear me?!" An arrow from a skeleton archer plunged into the back of Eden’s armour. Barely noticing it, he turned and snapped, "I’m coming to you later, be patient!"


"Well, here we are," Said Xanodann on spying her recall portal, "I thank you for guiding the great Xanodann to her location, and…" Xanodann trailed off, realising that her erstwhile guardian was simply staring at her darkly, "Ah… here! Have an identify spell, on the house!"

One quiet and subdued magic lesson later, the great Xanodann had vanished.

Eden reluctantly saw the great utility his new identify spell gave him, and spent the best part of an hour sat in a corner of one of the better-lit rooms of the tower, going through his belongings. He made a few interesting discoveries: His new cured leather armour was rather cold-resistant, one of his daggers was oozing green slime (why he didn’t notice himself he didn’t know) plus his jewellery – every single piece – was completely useless.

Also, he identified his boots as the Boots of Tom Bombadil, but he wasn’t quite ready to give up his sobriquet for them.

AMON SÛL 2

"A fellow rogue! Hello!"

"Another one?!" Eden was dumbfounded as a thief approached him. This tower was more populated than Bree was! Still, it was nice to meet a fellow rogue. "What is your name, fellow agent of the night?" Eden asked melodramatically.

"Gunydir Quiggins," The thief replied. So much for melodrama, Quiggins, Eden thought to himself.

Compared to his previous escorts, Gunydir’s guarding was a simple and short affair, with no enemies to speak of at all. Pleased for the change of pace, Eden was in high spirits as they approached the recall portal. As payment, Gunydir taught Eden a few of his personal exercises, granting a boost to Eden’s dexterity.

"Thanks for the tips," Eden nodded, "So, what are you doing around here anyway?"

"Oh, I’m here to join this gang," Gunymir responded, "Their leader just got put down by one of their former members, Eden. Boy, are the knives out for him! Literally! Bye!" Before Eden could reply, he had vanished.

AMON SÛL 3

"Hello? Anyone wounded? No? … Wow."

Chop-chop-chop-chop-chop…

AMON SUL 4

Chop-chop-chop-chop-chop…

AMON SUL 5

Chop-chop-chop-chop-CLUNK!

Eden staggered backwards in surprise. That last cut he delivered seemed to be against something particularly hard. Looking at his fallen opponent, who he believed to be just another skeleton mage, he soon noticed that the robes it was clad in were both pure black and seemed to become loose and ethereal around their edges. Its staff, too, had a strange, dark and powerful aura to it. Was it possible that this was the shade?

"Well… they certainly don’t build great and terrible undead foes like they used to."

BREE

When Eden had made his way back to Bree following his victory over Old Man Willow, he entered with pomp and circumstance, assured that his troubles were over. When he made his way back after defeating Bill his entrance was more subdued, but he remained hopeful. This return to Bree held no fanfare at all; Eden slouched into town, the shade’s staff dragging behind him. It almost felt like too much trouble now.

Thanks to his quiet arrival in Bree, the group of townspeople stood around the tree in the centre of town did not immediately notice him. Noticing the secretive expressions the group wore, Eden stealthily hid himself behind a corner to eavesdrop on their conversation.

"I swear! I saw him while I was out hunting; he’s coming, and he’s got the staff!"

"Impossible! The shade should’ve done him in, easy!"

"That’s what you said about Bill, but that wasn’t a problem for him either!"

"I’ve heard that he’s gained new allies from the east! He’s been seen with sun paladins, anorithils… plus, I’ve heard a rumour that he massacred his old gang too! What are we going to do with him?!"

"People, people!" Eden recognised the voice of the mayor among the chattering throng, "You’re forgetting – this is Eden. He’s not some mighty warrior, and he won’t keep beating these odds forever. The poor sap; he actually thinks we’re going to forgive him. When he shows up with the staff, I’ll tell him that I actually meant the staff that the Master just got, down south. He’ll believe me, the fool…"

Eden’s teeth ground together. He felt strangely numb, unsure of what to do. Some people, he imagined, would hide themselves in their room and write terrible poetry. Maybe I should as well, he thought bitterly. I will… once I’ve got some of that mayor’s blood to fill my inkwell

"Wait."

Eden turned. Grim was stood behind him, "You go into a flurry-frenzy, and you’ll prove everything they’re saying about you."

"Can it, Grim," Eden retorted, "Aren’t you a necromancer, anyway? I thought you’d like corpses all over the place."

Grim didn’t miss a beat, "Not really. When people are killed like that all they do is moan as ghouls. Oh, I’ve been wronged. You’ve killed me! Revenge! Plegh. I prefer people who die from dementia or pipeweed fever. Much more fun to talk to."

"Well, what do you suggest?" Eden grumbled, "This entire town hates me! What resolution can there be to this that’ll make me happy if not a massacre?!"

"Whoa there, you’re on the verge of becoming a reaver, Eden!"

"If only."

"Actually…" Grim thought, rubbing her nose, "You’ve always talked about moving to Minas Tirith, haven’t you? A fresh start. Maybe you should start thinking about it more seriously!"

"A fresh start…?" Eden mused to himself, "You always hear about people leaving the big city to go live in the countryside, but leaving the countryside to go live in the big city?" After a moment’s thought, he shrugged, "I suppose it’s worth a shot! Plus, when I’ve earned enough money down there I can buy Bree and turn it into a mold farm. Heheh."

Taking up a satchel, Eden took one last look around him, "Well, goodbye Bree. It’s been real. Oh wait," He added sarcastically, "No it hasn’t. I hope you rot. See ya, Grim."

"See ya! … Hey, wait! That’s my satchel!"

WILDERNESS

Eden was so busy muttering angry nothings to himself, imagining all sorts of horrible things happening to Bree’s population, that he almost bumped into the apprentice mage that was walking in the other direction. The mage shared Eden’s method of dealing with unexpected guests, although in his case he repeatedly knocked his assailants on the head ineffectually with his staff rather than stabbed them.

"Who are you?" Eden grumbled, rubbing a number of fresh bruises on his head, "What brings an apprentice mage out into the wilds?"

"Ahh, my story is a sad one… I should not trouble you with it, my friend." The mage melodramatically cast his gaze into the middle distance, not noticing Eden shrugging his shoulders and continuing on his way. When he finally did notice his absence, he hurried to Eden’s side again and repeated with a glare, "I SHOULD NOT TROUBLE YOU WITH IT, MY FRIEND."

With a rattling sigh, Eden shrugged, "Fine. It is no trouble at all! Please tell me!"

Launching into his prepared speech, the mage continued, "Well, if you insist… I am a novice mage, as you might have noticed…” He waited for Eden to look suitably impressed. On getting no reaction, he continued, “… and my goal is to be accepted by the elves of Angolwen and be taught the secrets of the arcane."

Eden smiled, summoning up a faraway look in his eyes, "Ah yes, Angolwen, I have called it home for many years…"

"You’re an archmage?!" The apprentice squawked incredulously.

"No, I’m just messing with you. Who are the elves of Angolwen?"

"The keepers of ar…" The apprentice caught himself awkwardly, tugging the collar of his robe, "Err, I do not think I am supposed to talk about them… sorry, my friend…” Another theatrical gaze into the distance, another total lack of response from Eden. The novice mage was getting rather fed up with Eden’s lack of appreciation for his showmanship, but he continued nonetheless, “In any case, I must collect fifteen magic staves, rings or amulets, and I have yet to find -- umph!"

Eden had cast the staff he found on the shade’s remains at the apprentice – right at his face, more specifically. "I’m not helping you with your errands, boy," Eden scowled, "Take that one, it was useless to me, and be thankful you’re even getting one out of me."

Having vented his bad mood at the poor mage somewhat, Eden made to turn and stalk away when he heard the mage’s flabbergasted voice over his shoulder, "Holy… dip! This is Angmar’s Fall! Where did you get it?!"

"Angmar’s… Fall?" Eden said in confusion, "You mean it’s not just a regular staff?"

"Oh yes, my friend, this is indeed a powerful staff!" The mage enthused, "I think that it alone should suffice to complete my quest! Many thanks!"

Eden was caught off-guard by the mage’s gratitude. He had believed the staff to be a long, wooden red herring, but it seemed to have some value after all. "Well, I cannot use it anyway…" He mumbled apologetically, rubbing the back of his neck.

"Ah yes! I am so glad!" The mage grinned, "I will be able to go back to Angolw… err… Oh well, I guess I can tell you; you deserve it for helping me. During the dark years of Sauron’s reign, more than one hundred years ago, Gandalf the Grey worried that…"

Eden nodded repeatedly, the mage’s voice slowly dissolving as his attention waned. "Why do mages have such funny shoes?" He thought to himself, "Maybe he miscast a spell and it made his toenails grow funny and… I’m babbling. Babbling in my head. Not that I can say much about funny shoes anyway, with Eden’s Guile here. Hmm, I’m kinda hungry. Think I’ll have pie for dinner tonight. Ritch and mushroom."

"… many people are accepted there but I will arrange for you to be allowed inside." The mage finished happily, "Aren’t you happy, Eden? … Eden? … EDEN!"

"Whuh?!"

"Were you paying attention? I said you could come and visit Angolwen!"

"Visit Angolwen?" Eden pondered, "Hmm. Well, as much as I’d like to hang around a bunch of archmages, phasing and teleporting here and there, summoning fire from the skies, warping the fabric of reality, I don’t think a country bumpkin from Bree will really fit into the milieu… unless…" Eden suddenly realised something. Fixing the mage with a steely glare, he asked, "Wait. Do they have shops in Angolwen?"

"I… I imagine so." The mage shrugged, "Why?"

"No reason," Smiled Eden, slowly backpeddling from the apprentice mage, "I suppose I better go introduce myself to the mages… make some trades… thanks again!"

"Wait, don’t you want to know where Angolwen is?” The mage called after Eden, “You’ve got to go west, then…" The mage’s voice faded out of earshot.

Finally, a break, Eden thought happily to himself. Rather than travel the length of Middle-Earth to start a new life in Minas Tirith, he could simply travel to the city of mages instead! Beyond the simple benefit of being able to trade again, living in Angolwen could pay additional dividends… "I think that when I become the most powerful wizard in all of Arda, I’ll make a great big thunderstorm over Bree. That’ll teach ‘em. Heheheh…"

He hadn’t heard the mage’s directions, but this didn’t bother Eden. Rogues have an uncanny sense of direction, and Eden felt that his was especially good – his parents told him that he ate a compass when he was little.

"This looks like the way to Angolwen," Eden said to himself, "Some grandure! You’d think a city of mages would have a better entrance; this is barely a hole in the ground!"

MAZE 1

"Now, I just need to find a signpost… geez, Angolwen’s a freakin’ labyrinth."

And My Conclusions

Ok, I've discovered one thing this first day.

Slingers. Are. Awesome.

Right now I have a halfling slinger going. Let's see how long he lasts.

Chapter 22: Demonic Refusal

Limmir the Expert Jeweler lives south of the Gates of Morning in a small clearing. Before trying to go back to Middle-Earth, Haldor decides to go see him and talk about the strange tome he found in Vor Armoury. Limmir peruses the tome quickly and looks amazed.

"This is a wonderful tome. It describes how to create really powerful rings by imbuing gems into them. However, the crafting process requires a special magical place to draw enough power to create the rings. There are rumours of such a place in the southern mountains. Take this scroll... You will be able to summon me with it once you have found that place. In the meantime, I'll retire to study this tome..."

Limmir points a location on a map called the Valley of the Moon. Haldor leaves the Gates of Morning and heads south. Before reaching the Valley of the Moon, he has to go through a system of caverns... and kill many demons!

Ithilthum, the Valley of the Moon, is not really a nice place to stay. The lake in the middle of the valley is filled with deadly poison. Three infernal portals in the northern part seem to be connected to some kind of demonic dimension. And it's the place where he must summon Limmir. Haldor reads the Scroll of Summoning... and Limmir appears.

"This place is corrupted... I will cleanse it." tells Limmir. "Demons will try to stop me, you will need to protect me until the corruption is gone."

Haldor remembers the three portals. He has to make sure no demon gets too close to the central island. He teleports quickly near the portals and, with the help of his spells, holds firm.

Suddenly, a strange gloomy aura emerges from one of the portals. Haldor targets the gloom... and drops of black blood fall on the ground. A balrog cloaked in invisibility... The powerful demon takes many hits, but that doesn't seem to stop him from advancing towards the central island. Haldor teleports back on the island and puts himself between Limmir and the balrog. He sustains the damage inflicted by the balrog's fiery whip while continuously hitting him with spells. Finally, the demon's whip falls on the ground and, a moment later, the hideous corpse of the Corrupted Balrog becomes visible again.

The death of their master doesn't stop the other demons. Haldor is now surrounded and out of supplies to regenerate his life and magical energies. Suddenly, the demons start to scream... and they dissolve in thin air!

"This place is finally free from corruption..." tells Limmir.

About time... From the many objects the demons left behind, Haldor finds the Whip of Gothmog and Glamdring, the Long Sword Foe-Hammer.

"So you can make better rings in this place now?" asks Haldor.

"Yes, thanks to you. I will stay here to study the magical aura. If you bring me a non-magical ring and two gems, I will be able to transform them into a powerful ring."

"I'll keep that in mind..."

Haldor leaves the Valley of the Moon. He still has to find a Resonating Diamond to go back to Middle-Earth and continue his mission.

Chapter 21: An Armoury Filled With... Lava

Aeryn greets the good news with relief.

"The rumor of your feats have reached me. I am truly amazed by your power. We have been at war with the Orc Pride for so long... and now the war is over. While you were busy bringing an end to the orcs, we discovered a way to disable the magical shield protecting the High Peak. In order to do so, you must enter the slime tunnels, located in the Grushnak Pride bastion, find the control room, and use the four Orbs of Command which were in the possession of the four Pride masters to deactivate the shield."

"This should pose no problem..." thinks Haldor.

Aeryn continues:

"The entrance to the slime tunnels is sealed by a magical door. We have learned that the magical key required to open that door is kept hidden by an ally of the Orc Pride in a dungeon... back in Middle-Earth."

"In Middle-Earth?" exclaims Haldor. "But I have no idea how to get back to Middle-Earth!"

"Don't worry..." responds Aeryn. "Zemekkys should know how to send you back to Middle-Earth. He's living just right there..."

Haldor leaves Aeryn and knocks on Zemekkys' door. A slot in the door opens, and a pair of wild eyes peer out.

"What do you want?"

"Paladin Aeryn told me that you could help me. I need to go to Middle-Earth."

"Middle-Earth? Why not the moon while you're at it? You're wasting my time... The only way to go to Middle-Earth would be to create a portal and use the Orb of Many Ways to activate it. But the Orb has been lost for ages..."

Haldor pulls out the Orb of Many Ways from his backpack. Zemekkys' eyes open wide.

"Holy cow! It is the Orb of Many Ways! Maybe we can send you to Middle-Earth after all... Now listen... In order to create a portal, I will need a Blood-Runed Athame, a Resonating Diamond and 200 gold."

"Where can I find all that?" asks Haldor.

"Try your purse for the gold... as for the Athame and Resonating Diamond, try the Vor Armoury. The orcs should have some for their own portals..."

Zemekkys points the location of the Vor Armoury on a map. Haldor leaves the Gates of Morning and goes back to the Vor Pride bastion. After a small journey through humid tunnels, he finds the Vor Armoury. The door opens, and a ugly orc wielding a huge two-handed sword pops out.

"Guards! An intruder! Your Warmaster Gnarg calls you!"

Haldor has already fought orc masters. This one is no different from the others. He burns... and dies, leaving behind his blood-etched greatsword, Warmaster Gnarg's Murderblade.

In the first room, Haldor meets Gnarg's guards. All sorts of orcs, from berserkers to high pyromancers and cryomancers, blood mages, and even a corruptor. After having dispatched the orcs, he enters a second room containing a panel of weapons and armor parts. Among the treasures he finds the Blood-Runed Athame he was looking for. Maybe next room will contain a Resonating Diamond?

Haldor opens the next door... and stumbles upon a very experienced storm wyrm. A nasty surprise. After dispatching the wyrm, and all his summons, he crosses the room and finds another door. Feeling an intense heat behind the door, Haldor decides to use his Dig spell from afar. A very good idea... The room is filled with lava... and a legion of highly experienced greater multihued wyrms. One of these could fry him in no time... and there are many in the room. Haldor hides behind the door and throws his fire blast in the room. Strangely, the wyrms don't seem to react to the spell and, even if they are highly resistant to the heat, they aren't immune and they finally all die.

Haldor inspects the room. The floor is made of lava, which burns him on every step. Some items are scattered on solid spots: an ancient tome, a huge shield, and some common weapons and armor parts. The tome seems to talk about the power of gems... maybe the jeweler in the Gates of Morning could tell more about it. The huge shield happens to be an artifact, the Titanic.

Haldor has searched the whole Vor Armoury... no trace of a Resonating Diamond anywhere. He will have to talk to Zemekkys about that...

Playing Tales of Maj'Eyal for the first time

Ok, so I'm booting up Te4 for the first time since early development.

Looking to see what I'll do with the latest version of my first ever roguelike.

(Notice- From here on is incoherent)

I start up a character, use a cliche WH40K-esque name, and see the options.

I set difficulty to discovery. Call me a wimp.

I choose a male Higher Berserker. Call me crazy, but it sounds cool.

I change graphics mode and... yeah. (ASCII 32x32 w/background)

Starting up Te4 again.

Wait, nevermind, it was just taking its time.

I find a leather armor and iron shield, but I'm using a greatsword and better armor, so I drop them again.

Death Dance, yeah!

This music is so peaceful.

And now I must go for now.

Eden the Rogue, Chapter Five: Gang Warfare

UNKNOWN TUNNELS 1

Just as fighters commonly become members of a guild, rogues usually find their way into gangs. Why Eden had wanted to join this gang escaped him. All it seemed to consist of was a humiliating and painful hazing, followed by a brief and violent meeting with the gang’s boss, a truly sinister individual who had but one snarled instruction for him: "Bring me gold and valuables and you won’t get a knife in the clavicle." On asking timidly what his share of the loot would be, Eden received a knife in the clavicle. Luckily, this was before the alchemist’s store had banned him, and a week of bedrest and intensive potion-chugging had him back on his feet.

He realised, rather too late, that the gang wasn’t for him. He didn’t have the ability to gather enough gold for himself at the best of times, let alone enough to please his "friends". So eventually, Eden turned to an aspect of the rogue that he was good at: Hiding. Roughly five years had passed since his flight from the gang, and as his old colleagues now told him, he owed them roughly two million gold pieces of plunder, or one life – his pick.

"What’s it gonna be?" Sneered one of the rogues, running a finger along his dagger menacingly. Novan was his name, Eden remembered. As he recalled, he was the one who stamped on his throat during his hazing and called him a "useless, insignificant piece of sputum who didn’t deserve to live". Eden always considered him one of his best friends in the gang.

"C’mon! Lemme cut ‘im! Lemme cut ‘im!" Giggled another rogue, Melna, deliriously. Eden always thought that she was an inmate from the nearby sanatorium that the gang had freed, and her behaviour didn’t exactly impugn these claims, "Hehehaha! I-I-I like the way the blood comes out of ‘em…"

"Fellows, fellows!" Eden soothed, attempting to cover his obvious fright, "Surely there’s a reasonable resolution to this problem! After all, I…" He stopped. Looking downwards he spied his yellow boots, which seemed to squeak in response. He had an idea. Looking up again, he continued with greater confidence, "See these boots? Got ‘em just for the gang. Enchanted. Definitely artefact-level."

This had the effect Eden intended, as the rogues surrounding him lowered their knives. Crouching down to Eden’s feet, Novan pulled a scroll of identify from his belt and read it quietly to himself. "Boots of Tom Bombadil, eh?” He mumbled, “Interesting…"

Eden’s Guile, Eden thought huffily to himself.

"Looks like your holiday wasn’t a total loss for us," Novan grinned, "I think the boss might want to hear about this."

"What?! No!" Melna wailed, "Lemme cut ‘im! Lemme cut ‘im!"

Novan grumbled, massaging his temples, "Boys, take that mad woman back to her quarters before she gives me a migraine! Steal a cow for her to stab or something. As for you…" Novan returned his attention to Eden, who watched him warily, "You sure these boots are genuine? Lots of fakes around, boy…"

"Of course they’re genuine! Why don’t you take a closer look?"

UNKNOWN TUNNELS 2

"GET HIM! CUT HIM UP! DON’T LET HIM ESCAPE!"

Eden leapt down a second trap door, slamming it behind him and blocking out the roars of the furious horde of rogues that were in hot pursuit. He had proved his old maxim true once again: Before you live for the next year, you have to live for the next ten seconds, so concentrate on that first. Of course, he hoped that he could continue to prove it true…

"Ahh, the intruder at last… And what shall we do with you? Why did you kill my men?"

Eden whirled around on the spot to see, with sudden horror, his old boss stood before him, the Assassin Lord. It was a title he held with no small amount of pride; after all, assassins aren’t known for their love of hierarchy, commonly silencing those in power rather than bowing to them. He was obviously a man of great skill, but he didn’t seem to be a man of great memory: He had forgotten who Eden was.

Eden decided to try and play it fast and loose, "I heard some cries, and your men… they were in my way. What’s going on here?" Eden rubbed his head in theatrical confusion. Pretending to be a gormless villager rather than a rogue outcast was a small improvement, but an improvement nonetheless.

The Assassin Lord rolled his eyes, "Oh, so this is the part where I tell you my plan before you attack me?" His voice rose to a cruel shriek, "GET THIS INTRUDER!"

"Wait!" Eden yelped, "Maybe we could work out some kind of arrangement; you seem to be a practical man."

"Manwe’s teeth," thought Eden in his head, "I have no idea where I’m going with this!"

The Assassin Lord perused Eden intently for a moment, before finally making a hesitant grunt of satisfaction, "Well, I need somebody to replace the men you killed. You look sturdy; maybe you could…"

"Please save me!" Came a shrieking voice from the Assassin Lord’s side. Unbeknownst to Eden, a ragged and petrified-looking merchant had been present for his entire conversation. Ironic, he thought, the merchant being the only one I didn’t notice in a nest full of thieves and assassins. Still, it did give him an opportunity…

"Shut up!" The Assassin Lord struck the lost merchant around the face, silencing him. Turning back to the empty space where Eden had stood, he continued, "Maybe you could work for me. You will have to do some dirty work for me, though, and… huh?"

"FLURRYFLURRYFLURRYFLURRYFLURRYFLURRY"

WILDERNESS

"Yeah," Eden said to the merchant as they both emerged from the trapdoor, back into the light of day, "Shrieking-cowardly-madman-who-essentially-sissy-fights-with-knives might be a more accurate class name for me, but I think rogue carries more… presence, don’t you agree?"

The merchant was silent, his complexion almost white, except for the speckles of blood that dotted his face. Eden noticed this, and grimaced: Only fellow adventurers had seen his flurries previously. He didn’t realise what an effect his one-man charnel house impression would have on a civilian. "Still…" He said, attempting to cheer up the merchant, "You’re free."

"I’m… free…?" The merchant whispered, his pallor slowly fading, "I’m… free! Oh!" Shaking Eden’s hand frantically, he stammered, "Oh, thank you! Please! It’s not much, but please, take it! Take it!"

"Whoa, easy!" Eden struggled as the merchant fanatically tried to cram gold into his satchel, "You’re welcome, you’re welcome! Not sure how much good it’ll do me, what with my vilifying in Bree, but…"

"Vilifying?" The merchant said slowly. He stared at Eden, an odd new expression on his face, "Is your name… Eden?"

"Yep, Eden. Your hero. Your rescuer. Your saviour --"

"Thief! Brigand!" Instead of gold, Eden now found himself being pelted by sticks and pebbles. The merchant raved, "Fiendish footpad! Blackhearted bagman! Away! And don’t even think of coming to my rare goods shop in Minas Tirith!"

"Ow! What?!"

"Lacklustre layabout! Pilfering pickpocket!"

"What is it with shopkeepers and alliteration?!"

"Away! Away! AWAY!"

"Alright, okay! I’m going, see?" Eden snapped, “That’s gratitude for you. I swear, I -- OW!" One of the merchant’s shoes smacked Eden square in the face. Holding it up, he barked, "And don’t think you’re getting this back, you maniac!"

"AWAY!"

BREE

Shopkeepers, thought Eden. He didn’t like them much as a breed. Once I’m back in this town’s good books, he stewed to himself, I should start stealing things again out of spite. Shaking his head, and putting such thoughts from his mind, he turned his attention back to his current activity: Winning the hearts of Bree’s populace once again.

"Ladies and gentlemen! Good citizens of Bree!"

He had spared no expense. Having constructed the grandest stage he could muster – a small wooden crate to stand on – and having hired the greatest entertainers he could afford – Grim playing a homemade flute – he now addressed Bree’s town square. "I come before you not as a petty thief, but a warrior! Behold!" He cast the barkwood of Old Man Willow to ground, "Old Man Willow is no more! Yes, so now if any of you wish to take a walk in that dark, damp, gloomy, terrifying Old Forest, you no longer have to worry about being inconvenienced by a giant, sentient tree! Well, apart from the huorns. Plus, just about every other animal and plant there will try to kill you as well, but I digress…"

The town square was empty, except for one man – the mayor of Bree. Listening to Eden’s grandiose speech, he held a hand to his forehead. "Mercy, Eden."

"What?" Eden said, hopping down from his box and slapping the flute from Grim’s mouth. She didn’t know how to either make or play a flute, and had essentially been blowing into a tree branch with holes randomly cut into it for the duration of Eden’s speech.

The mayor of Bree, while he mistrusted and disliked Eden as much as any other townsman, at least treated him with civility, "Did you not say that you were going to slay Bill, not Old Man Willow?"

"Well, yes… but there was this --"

"Out of Bill and Old Man Willow, which has routinely beaten and killed innocent townspeople in the lands surrounding Bree?"

"Well, like I was saying --"

"So, if I understand you, instead of travelling to the Trollshaws to put an end to this menace, you instead headed in the other direction, attacked a tree, and now believe that dropping an old piece of bark at my feet is enough to make this town forgive you your many, many, misdemeanours?"

"…"

"I think you have unfinished business to attend to, Eden."

User blogs on te4.org

I have activated user blogs on te4.org.
Every tome player possessing an account is able to blog about her/his characters, her/his new developments for the game or the engine, ...

Both Burb Lulls and Powerwyrm have already begun posting their Day in the Life stories, go read them, post yours.

Enjoy!

Eden the Rogue, Chapter Four: Moon Maiden Vs. Giant Enemy Tree

OLD FOREST 4

"♪ Tum-te-tum… ♫"

 Level 9!
 +3 Dexterity
 +1 Weapon Combat
 +1 Dual Weapon Defence

OLD FOREST 5

"♪ Tum-te-tum… ♫ … Eech, those rattlesnakes can bite!”

Eden’s thoughts turned to his satchel. He had a fair few potions and scrolls now, but had little idea of what they did. Sensing the rising danger of the forest, and knowing that his provisions would help him little just gathering mildew in his pack, he decided to perform an impromptu "taste test". An adventurer would’ve been mad to do this in ages past, but since the great hunts at the end of the Third Era – which had culminated in the mass executions of those jerk wizards that cursed stuff and bottled whatever nasty things they could find just to scatter around the wilderness – it had become a far safer activity.

Glug-glug-glug…
Eden felt a buzz similar to eating an entire bag of sugar. “Restore mana.”

Glug-glug-glug…
“Pfagh! Slime mold juice!” He couldn’t believe he liked this stuff in his youth; it was like drinking a bottle of toejam.

"Hmm…"
Eden instinctively closed his eyes as a huge burst of light illuminated the grove he stood in. “Scroll of light.”

"Hmm…"
Eden rubbed his head as knowledge of his immediate surroundings came unbidden into his brain. "Magic mapping." The knowledge that behind the trees surrounding him were more trees wasn’t exactly a shock.

"And finally…"
All of a sudden, Eden found himself hanging upside down from a tree branch, the remaining contents of his pack falling to the forest floor. "… Phase door."

OLD FOREST 6

 Level 10!
 +3 Constitution
 +2 Flurry

The knowledge that he had the aptitude to learn a new school of skills, or improve an old one, surfaced in Eden’s brain. He grumpily stuffed it back down again; he didn’t feel like thinking yet.

"By Melkor’s goatee! Those bees can sting!” Maybe Grinymnir’s fear wasn’t completely groundless; a hummerhorn the size of a small cat had torn through the undergrowth without warning and deposited Eden against a tree stump. The fact said stump belonged to an angry huorn didn’t help matters. Luckily, the huorn was old as well as angry, allowing Eden to splinter its ancient wood with his daggers easily.

"Crazy tree." Eden grumbled. Before continuing on his way however, he spotted the telltale glimmer of steel from a nearby bush.

"What’s your name, little one?" Eden purred as he held up the steel dagger. "Doesn’t matter!" He added, overlapping the dagger’s imagined response, "Your new name is… Little Eden." He looked sideways at the old iron dagger in his offhand, "You don’t get a name, you rusted piece of junk."


Quite unexpectedly, through the mass of trees before him, Eden spyed something that wasn’t further masses of trees. It was a fort! Gazing at the crude stonework and the primitive symbols and markings that were daubed on it walls, Eden could only guess that it belonged to trolls. The fact that there was a troll sat outside, idly splashing its feet in the moat, helped as well. Sneaking between the trees adjacent to the fort, Eden was all but ready to introduce the troll to his new, sharp friend, but he never got the chance.

Pushing aside the trees that impeded its progress, the ground quaking with each of its footfalls, a giant figure thundered towards the fort. Clad in massive armour of leather and fur, its skin so pale as to be almost white, and with a beard to rival even the most dwarf-like dwarf, it was one of the frost giants of Carn Dûm! Eden thought to himself in a panic why a frost giant would be so far from its home, but then he realised. There’s only one reason why frost giants are anywhere – to smash things smaller than themselves. And that included the troll.

It was a strange spectacle, seeing an ugly lump of muscle like a troll being so soundly manhandled, and Eden could only watch with fascination as the giant grabbed the troll by its head, smacked it against the fort’s walls a few times, before hurling its broken body into the moat with a humungous splash.

There are many ways you can react to such a scene. You can slowly back away, hoping not to be seen. You could scream and run. You could even just stand there, totally petrified. All Eden knew was that the one thing you should not do is sneeze.

"Mr. Frost Giant!" Eden nervously stammered through a grin as his oversized opponent approached him, "Excellent work, dealing with that nasty troll! We could make a good team, couldn’t we? … Couldn’t we?"

The giant had stopped, simply staring at Eden. That didn’t just work, Eden thought to himself in disbelief, I did not just convince a frost giant into teaming up with me. Then he saw the giant slowly raise a finger to its head, and Eden felt his mind grow hazy…


"Thought not," Thought Eden as he was sent spiralling through the forest from the giant’s strike.

Although it took a considerable while, and Eden received more than his fair share of bruises, the hulking form of the frost giant eventually fell under Eden’s relentless stabbing at his shins. Exhausted, Eden staggered a few paces before collapsing in a sun-lit clearing. The fight had almost frozen him to the bone; it appeared that the giant had the same cold-inducing qualities as the dragon hatchlings had.

Fortunately, this battle did have one positive effect: It put things into perspective.


"Ugh?!" The troll inside the fort’s antechamber grunted, "HUMAN! BASHLOB CRUSH PUNY HUM--AAAARRGH!"

"Whatever," Eden growled moments later, rooting through a pile of potions, a heap of troll corpses behind him, "I’ve got grown-up problems now."

 Level 11!
 +3 Dexterity
 +1 Flurry
 +1 Knife Mastery

OLD FOREST 7

He was in the centre of the Old Forest, and he knew that he had gained the attention of Old Man Willow. Even with trolls, huorns, dragons and a frost giant behind him, Eden wasn’t quite ready to believe his own hype just yet. He took careful steps, anxiously watching the trees that surrounded him on all sides. You never knew when one was going to suddenly move and –

"Hi!"

"WAAAARGH!"

"Careful! Careful!" The elven woman that had approached Eden had to grip his wrist to stop his mad stabbing at the air, "I’m not an enemy!"

"Not an enemy?" Eden gasped, gathering himself, "Then what are you?"

"My name is Beturin. I am an anorithil." Judging from her garb, not to mention the strange, fluctuating aura that surrounded her, Eden was inclined to believe her, "Could I ask for your assistance? You see, I have a jumpgate set up close by, and I was hoping that you could -–"

"Escort you there, because you’re injured?" Eden interrupted smoothly, "Yeah, I could. I am familiar with being the hero, after all…" He smugly checked his nails; Grinymnir’s screaming surfaced in his mind for a moment, but he quickly blocked it out.

"Actually," Beturin huffed, "I was just about ready to head back to gate anyway. You injured me," Eden looked down at Beturin’s robes, where an obvious bloodstain was growing. It looked like his mad stabbing had accidentally found a mark. He offered a mumbled and awkward apology.

"Okay," Eden continued, "We better get going. Stay behind me, okay?"

"Okay."

"… You’re actually going to?"

"Of course. I’m wounded."

"… I like you already," Eden grinned, "Let’s move, we just better not run into –- eep!"

An ancient grey willow tree, ruler of the Old Forest. Despiser of trespassers in his territory. Old Man Willow was already angry with all the rats, ants, bees, orcs, bears, rabbits, trolls, frost giants, dragons, wolves and foxes intruding upon his domain, but the pair of adventurers he had just spied took the cake. Effortlessly uprooting himself from the ground (an ability not used in LoTR, but AN ABILITY HE HAS) the humungous tree creaked towards Eden and Beturin.

"Do you have a plan?" Beturin whispered to Eden.

"I do," Eden nodded, "But I’d rather not go into it. It is a gargantuan, impenetrable thing. A grand scheme the likes of which Arda had never known. The works of Sauron are but child’s play in comparison. Morgoth’s dark designs, footling fancies. This great, dark, cosmic conundrum that --"

"WHAT IS THE PLAN?!"

"… FLURRYFLURRYFLURRYFLURRYFLURRYFLURRY"


"I admit, I was rather sceptical about your plan Eden, but…" Beturin and Eden shared a grin, sat around a merrily burning pile of distinctive grey wood, "… The end justifies the means, eh?"


"Well, there it is," Beturin sighed happily as a faintly glowing oval, etched into stone, appeared at the end of the path they walked along, "Thanks for escorting me."

"Don’t mention it, and sorry about the whole… stabbing you… thing."

"Well, that can’t be helped now. Perhaps I should teach you one of my hymns, the Hymn of Perseverance. It could help you with your stabbing-anything-that-tries-to-talk-to-you problem."

"You stayed behind me when I said to, you fought alongside me against Old Man Willow, you’ve freely given me a secret power of your people, and you’ve also given me an AWESOME DARK AURA. … I think we have to get married, Beturin."

Beturin had already vanished. Eden tapped on the recall portal ineffectually, but it had already been magically locked from the other side. "So it goes," He shrugged.

 Level 12!
 +3 Dexterity
 +1 Flurry
 +1 Weapon Combat

 Level 13!
 +3 Dexterity
 +1 Dual Strike
 +1 Knife Mastery

WILDERNESS

Eden skipped along the path to Bree in high spirits. His trip to the Old Forest couldn’t have gone better: He had a shiny new pair of daggers, he had defeated opponents he wouldn’t have dreamed of fighting days previously, he was moments away from a hero’s welcome in Bree, and if he ever wound up wherever anorithils came from, he’d have a guaranteed place to mooch from!

It was at this moment that Eden became aware of a distant voice. It was strange, it almost sounded as if it was coming from underground. He could clearly make out what it was saying though. "Help."

Normally, Eden would have just chuckled maliciously and continued on, in even higher spirits if anything, but he was still coming off the high from saving Beturin in the Old Forest, and with his triumphant return to Bree approaching he was feeling rather heroic. A cursory inspection of the area soon revealed a trap door; unsheathing his knives, Eden opened the hatch and leapt into the darkness.


He had landed in a strange underground complex, only dimly lit by a few torches bolted to the walls. Eden looked around, and noticed that figures were approaching him. Judging from their knives, and the angered shouting coming from further down the corridors, he guessed they weren’t the ones who needed help. As the figures stepped into the light from his lantern, Eden gasped.

His old gang had found him.

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