Eden the Rogue, Chapter Eleven: Sandworm Madness


At first, Eden resented the idea of travelling to the lair of the sandworms. By right he had already passed Angolwen’s test – it wasn’t his fault that his trophy was now several hundred feet out of the reach of his daggers.

However, his mood improved somewhat as he travelled to the lair. It appeared the head of Gunadek’s golem, last seen rolling down Carn Dûm, had created quite a giant snowball which had barrelled straight into the centre of Bree. Between the recent thunderstorms and the new layer of snow that now covered the town, Eden was quite gleefully pleased at the karma his hometown was receiving.

He was further pleased as he entered the lair – pleased and confused. He had been used to massive, labyrinthine dungeons. He had explored vast stretches of forest. The “lair” he found himself in was only slightly larger than his own bedroom, and it held no sandworms at all.

“… Sandworms?” Eden looked under a small rock, “Hello? Sandworms?” Standing straight, he frowned with confusion, “Is this it? Is this the lair? I don’t see how -- BARRRGH!”

Without warning, a huge sandworm, its mouth a grinding mass of razor-sharp teeth, burst through the wall of the chamber Eden stood in as if it was paper. Eden instinctively struck out at it, but his knives were woefully lost in the gargantuan mass of worm-flesh. Eden wailed, “Geez, what a crazy way to die!”

But Eden didn’t die. At least, not then, for the sandworm (which had barely noticed him at all) simply burrowed into the chamber’s wall once again and tunnelled out of sight. “Ahh, I get it…” Eden hummed, inspecting the new tunnel the burrower had created.

Placing one foot inside the tunnel, Eden leapt backwards as he heard an ominous rumbling. With a resounding crash the tunnel caved in, cast a blinding sheet of sand over Eden. Wiping the sand from his eyes, Eden regarded the chamber wall levelly.

“… I think I’ll wait for the next one.”


Eden descended to the next level of the sandworm lair, only to find the passage to the next level after that was immediately next to him. “Thank Eru for small favours…”


“If the spice is the life, I’d say that the sand must be the death.”


“Some people say fear is the mindkiller. Me? I say sand.”


“Walk without rhythm? These sandworms sure dig without rhythm…”


“It is remarkably difficult to keep making Dune references when you haven’t even read the dang thing, or played the RTS.”


By luck, Eden had descended straight into the midst of the sandworm queen’s nest, almost landing on its disgusting bulk as he fell into the chamber. True to what Eden had thought previously, the worms were no match for somebody who had fought dragons. Eden’s act of wormy regicide seemed all too simple; he considered naming his daggers ‘Magna’ and ‘Carta’ momentarily, but decided against it.

Now came the portion of the trip Eden had feared the most, more than the sand and certainly more than fighting the worms – extracting the sandworm queen’s heart.

“Ugh… this is so gross…!” Eden cringed as he tentatively searched for the organ in question. On finding it he immediately fled, wiping his gloves feverishly, “Yuck! Plegh! Funny, I always thought these giant, underground worms had three hearts.” (and a THOUSAND internet cookies if you get that reference)


Eden once again found himself in the city of mages. On entering the city’s main plaza, he found that the area was abuzz with activity – it appeared some manner of construction work was going on. Eden only had time to watch briefly before his attention was taken by the woman before him. Said woman was obviously a heavy-duty mage; the type that have enough auras whirling around them to make them look like lanterns. Eden glanced at his auras from Beturin and Belebeth’s training, and felt a twinge of aura-envy.

“And you are?” The woman asked.

“Eden,” He replied, “And you?”

“Linaniil, new ruler of Angolwen.” The woman bowed in mock humility, “This fair city has recently come under new management. May I help you, rogue?”

Eden presented Linaniil the sandworm queen’s heart, the disgusting organ wrapped in one of his old cloaks, “I got you mages a little something. I hear that delivery of this disgusting worm-bit is enough to allow me full access here?”

Linaniil peeked inside the old cloak briefly before returning her gaze to Eden. A strange smile played on her face, “Interesting… I suppose you know that there’s one final part of the test? It’s not much; you don’t even have to leave Angolwen to complete it.”

“Oh? Sounds good…”

Eden dry-heaved. Before him, the pulsing, oozing heart of the sandworm queen lay on a plate. The grins of the mages surrounding him – and the glass of potion of cure disease that stood beside the plate – didn’t fill him with confidence.

“Now, eat it.” Linaniil commanded.

“… Is this a joke? Jokes are meant to be funny.”

Linaniil’s expression was now a picture of seriousness, “Eden. Do you believe magic is something we just… acquire? Through luck? We have all undergone extreme trials here. Only through suffusing our body with dangerous substances such as this do we truly touch the arcane. If you wish to join us, you must do the same.”

Eden looked at the sandworm queen’s heart again, “So, you’re saying… I’ll become a mage if I eat this? Able to tear the earth asunder with a snap of the fingers? Able to rip the threads of time and space like a temporal kitten?”

“Sure, why not?”

Eden thought to himself deeply. Should he eat it? “Oh, you know you’re going to, you cretin,” A voice in the back of his mind sighed, “Just tell me when, so I can turn off your taste buds, okay?”

Eden raised a knife and fork, cut away a section of the heart (ooze, ooze, ooze) and held it to his mouth…


 Sandworm Goodness!
 +3 Constitution
 +1 Precise Strikes
 +1 Health

Eden woke up in a ditch, his head spinning, the phrase “ZIGURANTH LOVER” messily daubed across his forehead in ink. Half-expecting to feel the mother and father of all hangovers, Eden was surprised to find he felt rather good. The heart had given him a sense of hardiness and constitution that didn’t appear to be fading. “This can’t be right,” He mused, “There must be a downside to this… I’ll go back to Angolwen and ask… ask… uh-oh.”

Eden could feel a hole in his memory; the distinctive feeling of knowing you’ve forgotten something, but not being sure what it was. The mages had erased his knowledge of the location of Angolwen!


Trolls, Bree, Angolwen, snow giants, dragons… Eden’s enemies list was becoming rather crowded. It would soon find a new member, though: As Eden approached the gates of Minas Tirith, he saw that the guards moved to block him, halberds at the ready.

“Leave us, you insane fool,” One of the guards yelled.

“What?!” Eden yelled back, “I haven’t even been here yet!”

The guards conferred for a moment, one of their number finally stamping towards Eden. “Haven’t been here?!” He shouted, “Then tell me – who was that mind-addled imbecile who showed up last night, screaming that he was king of the sandworms, raving about liches living in the town library, shouting about thunderlords to that rock over there?!”


“And then you run off with our elder’s hat, bellowing about crushing the menace that resides in Tol Falas! As if! You’re lucky I haven’t run you through now, troublemaker! Leave!”


Bree was closed to Eden thanks to the general unpleasantness of its population, Angolwen was denied to him too, and now he had been forbidden from entering Minas Tirith thanks to a bout of sandworm madness. What was he to do now?

“One thing that guard told me puzzles me,” Eden thought to himself, “I talked about a menace in Tol Falas? I haven’t even heard of a menace in Tol Falas… so… maybe that part of my raving was true?”

Eden formulated a plan… they would allow a madman into Minas Tirith if it was a madman who kept his promises.


“Some assistance, please?”

Eden was pleasantly surprised – a warrior had hailed him without the slagheap of bluster they commonly employ. Indeed, this fighter appeared quite calm and levelheaded. He was still wounded however.

“I’m… Boryrab… recall… over there… help… escort?” He panted, “Man, those skeletons pack a wallop!”

“Very well,” Eden nodded, “But you say tally ho once and I’m leaving you to fend for yourself.”

Eden was further pleased as he and Boryrab made their way through the first floor of the tower, and indeed came to appreciate how devastatingly effective a fighter is when they use tact; given the right preparation, a warrior could weather punishment that would reduce an archmage to a bloodstain.

“There’s your portal,” Eden indicated the familiar sight of an etched circle in the ground, “Just ignore that skeleton warrior over there and get outta here. I’ll deal with it.”

Boryrab froze, turning to stare at Eden with shock, “Leave… the skeleton warrior? I’m to… just run… and not fight?”

Eden’s face iced. He knew exactly what was coming, “Oh no. No no no! Don’t you dare! DON’T YOU DARE--”

“Ha-ho! Come, face me, you wretch! A-ha! Rapscallion! I’ll see your skull above my -- whaa! Where’d you get that mace from?! I -- no -- ack -- GRAAGH!”

And so passed the last remaining brother of the Grinymnir family… Eden hoped.


 Level 23!
 +2 Dexterity
 +1 Cunning
 +1 Rush
 +1 Knife Mastery

Eden faced a new breed of foe here – a demon. A lithe and ferocious figure, clad in heavy armour and wielding a vicious knife, tore towards him. Eden smacked it with the pommel of one of his daggers the moment before it struck, sending it flying backwards, its body evaporating, leaving its armour to hit the tower wall with a clatter.

“Should’ve spent a bit more time in the Item World, demon,” Eden mocked, “Item World… I want to go to Item World. I bet Eden’s Guile World would be awesome, full of parties.”


Eden dropped the empty potion of cure disease with a clatter, shuddering, “These ghouls really need to learn proper dental hygiene.”


Dangerous foes dwelled on this level of the tower. Eden almost believed the maulotaur he found to be the master of Tol Falas, as it swung its giant greatmaul through the air, barking orders at the pack of dragon hatchlings it commanded. These hatchlings were strange – their scales shone with a scintillating myriad of colours. Eden felt a multitude of energies burn through his arm as he struck them; you’d think your arm getting simultaneously chilled and heated would mean that it wouldn’t do anything at all, BUT YOU’D BE WRONG.

Once his foes had been felled, Eden noticed that they had been gathered around a large, wooden signpost. On said signpost there was a message, written (ostensibly) in blood in a large, menacing hand:

“MINIONS: Be aware. I, your great Master have found an item. It is of extreme power, but not yet complete, at least for my purposes.

All hail your brilliant Master. Would you like to walk in the sun? Would you like to be free to roam green meadows and crush innocent children? Such are my wishes also. The reward to anyone who brings me any item that will help me bend this sta... item to my will shall be stupendous.

Also, any new minions who have magical research skills are wanted. Recruit them and you shall be rewarded. Though if they steal my secrets, your blood will be my wine and your heart my appetizer.”

“Whoa,” Eden thought, “He actually wrote out his mistake on the second paragraph there. I’m guessing this guy’s a vampire, from the haemophiliac special he outlines at the end…” Looking down, Eden noticed a small message carved into the wood of the signpost beneath the parchment:

“Unded Unyion #610 UNYTE!”

Fight the power, ghouls. Just learn to spell first.


Affixed to a second signpost, Eden found a new missive from Tol Falas' supposed master.

“MINIONS: Perhaps you are minor dens of foulness because you have nothing to aspire to? Perhaps you could be greater if you had a worse example before you? Consider me! I began my long unlife as a foolish pipsqueak such as yourself. Why, there was a time before I had conquered even a pit let alone a level or a dungeon. Now, behold all that is mine.

You must have aspirations. I am not content with just the rule of Tol Falas. No, soon I shall have more. Much more. My boots shall tread the surface of the earth! I shall explore and destroy the most beautiful mountains. All shall be mine once I can walk in the sun once more. Where will you be? Do you wish to be more than the wight I stepped on yesterday? I shall need great leaders to guide my armies across the land.”

Eden frowned with thought, “This guy sounds like he means business. Not sure about the great leaders part – most undead have enough trouble stopping their brains from falling out, let alone using them.”

 Level 24!
 +1 Dexterity
 +2 Cunning
 +1 Weapon Combat
 +1 Dirty Fighting


Strangely enough, this level was almost deserted. Perhaps it was a strike? “Looks like Undead Union #610 finally grew a backbone.”


Eden walked along the tower’s passageways, as happy as you like, when suddenly he found himself sent sprawled to the floor, grievously wounded. His mind was on fire! “Gaaaak! What… the heck’s… happening…?!”

A woman with lank, black hair and a strangely flattened face peeked around the corner at Eden. Eden was confused at first, but this confusion soon gave way to horror as the woman rounded the corner proper, revealing the huge, trailing serpentine body that followed her. “Psyren…!” Eden attempted to croak, but no noise escaped his lips – he had been silenced.

“Walker…” The naga hissed, “If a huorn falls in the forest, and nobody is around to hear it… does it make a sound?”

“Get out of my head!” Eden wheezed mutely.

“What is the sound of one hand clapping?”


The psyren’s mouth curled into a grin as she slithered towards him, intent on finishing the job; she had a riddle about grain, chickens and foxes that she had been dying to test out. Eden found that he was thinking better now his constant running commentary had been silenced. If nothing could come from his mouth, he’d have to put something in, and he had just the thing.

“If you had a boat that could only hold three things, including yourself… hey, where did you go?!”

The invisibility the potion had granted Eden had given him enough time to flee, and he now hid against a wall, frantically chugging as many healing potions as he possibly could. The psyren found him before he had finished, so he could only manage a choked, “Glmfph! Mmplhf! Flurrmpfhy!” as he swung a dagger out at her. Eden’s voice returned only after the psyren had fallen, “Psionics: Like magic, but more smug about it.”

 Level 25!
 +1 Dexterity
 +2 Constitution
 +1 Sweep
 +1 Knife Mastery

With peril comes plunder, however, and Eden soon found himself the proud new owner of a dwarven lantern and a cloak of the Shire. The cloak looked rather silly; it was very small, and when Eden put it on it looked like he was wearing a large napkin backwards, but he couldn’t fault its boosts to his dexterity and cunning.


“MINIONS: To my newest vampire: Burn, foolish adventurer, burn! I bet you are sorry for that flame spell now, aren't you? Suffer as I revisit it upon you.

To the rest of you, there will be punishment. An adventurer got down to my bedroom and surprised me. I, myself, was hurt and almost had to use my special power. All is well now and I am as dangerous as ever, but you shall suffer for letting him get so low. The next minion I see shall be toasted with my marshmallows. Where then were the special pits of doom I organized? Where was the poison of my wights or the diseases of my ghouls? Indeed, I should slaughter all of you and I would, but those who were most foully remiss were already slaughtered by the adventurer. The rest of you? Beware my wrath.”

“Beware my wrath,” Eden echoed sarcastically, “I wonder what this guy’s special power is. It’s probably quite impressive, but I’d laugh if it was just slapfighting or something.”


 Level 26!
 +2 Dexterity
 +1 Cunning
 +1 Sweep
 +1 Knife Mastery

Eden marched into the tower's throne room. Before him, his greatsword resting on his lap, the Master regarded him with quiet fury.

“So what’s it to be?” The dark figure spoke quietly, “Will you join the unity, or will you die here?” Without warning the vampire leapt to his feet, whirling his greatsword in a frenzy, slashing tapestries and shattering pots, “Join! Die! Join! Die!” He screamed.

Eden pursed his lips, shaking his head, “Do you really want the last thing you say to be a hokey reference? Wouldn’t you prefer to quote some great thinker or something?”

The vampire sat in his throne again, seething, “You’re remarkably confident for somebody ten seconds from becoming a corpse, and don’t think that dying will keep me from you. It is no exaggeration to say that an eternity of suffering begins for you here. MINIONS!” The Master howled, “TAKE HIM!”


“To be honest,” Eden smirked, theatrically picking his fingernails with one of his knives, “I don’t enjoy using enemy detection or magic mapping scrolls – I feel it’s detrimental to my sense of direction – but I must admit they were splendidly helpful here. This entire level is as empty as a death mold’s soul, except for you and me…”

The Master snarled, brandishing his greatsword; he was so used to the praise he forced his minions to heap upon him that Eden’s sass bordered on heresy, “FOOL! You actually believe you are a threat to me! The greatest blades of the warriors and the most powerful spells of the mages have failed to destroy me! What can you do?! Stealth me to death, rogue?!”

“There’s more to rogues than stealth, vampire,” Eden and the Master circled eachother slowly, “They can steal, perform great feats of agility, set traps – well, not in this beta – and of course, they can fight dirty!”

** WHUMP! **

The Master stumbled backwards from Eden’s sudden (and rather below-the-belt) kick. Initially pleased with the reaction his dirty fighting received, Eden’s face fell as he realised the Master wasn’t hunched up in pain, but laughter.

“That’s it?!” He cackled, “A child could give me a greater challenge! I believe I shall have some fun with you; torture is an art, after all. Won’t you be my canvas…?!”

“Tch, that’s what I get for trying to mix up my strategy,” Eden rolled his eyes, “Back to the ol’ grind: FLURRYFLURRYFLURRYFLURRYFLURRY”

The Master’s body fell, soundly perforated. It was Eden’s turn to exclaim, “That’s it?! Seriously, if these guys keep falling this easily, it’s just going to get harder and harder to describe these battles.”

“Hmhmhmhmhm… FOOL!”

Lifted back onto his feet by dark and unstoppable forces unknown, the Master was resurrected, his strength completely restored. “Do you see your folly now?” He sneered, “I can will myself back to life as many times as I wish… s-seriously. If you wish to flee now, I shall understand completely, and… hm?”

Eden was missing. All that remained was a hastily written note by the Master’s feet. Taking it up, he read, “Sorry I didn’t hang around for your post-resurrection boasting. Teleported away to warm up my stabbing arm. Flurries take a lot out of it, you know. Back in ten turns or so, Eden.

“Turns,” The Master growled, stalking out of his throne room in pursuit of Eden, “What inanity, what insolence, what --”


The Master’s body fell again, even more soundly perforated than before. “A double-flurry job,” Eden thought, regarding the Master’s body, which was not resurrecting again, “You were indeed a mighty foe. Now, I’ll just loot your mighty body, if I may…”

The first item of import Eden found on the Master’s body was his black choker. Grim would kill for that, Eden thought; necromancer chic was pretty much like goth chic, except less eyeliner… usually. Still, its ability to prevent blindness and the total uselessness of Eden’s previous amulet meant that it was going around his neck for the duration.

The second item both enthralled and repulsed Eden simultaneously. Even someone as… differently magical as Eden could tell that this was the staff. He knew that mages would salivate over this bit of magical wood like an Ent would over an Entwife. “Forget gaining access to Angolwen,” Eden smiled, hastily identifying the staff as he took it up, “Staff of Absorption… when I show up with this bad boy… they’ll make me its king!

 Level 27!
 +1 Dexterity
 +2 Cunning
 +1 Precision
 +1 Weapon Combat


Eden was so thrilled with his recent acquisition that he almost ran into the skeleton mage that stood before the stairs he descended. On instinctively turning and fleeing from the undead manathrust machine to safer ground, he then ran into another one. It was at this point that a skeleton warrior got a lucky hit in on him as well, stunning him as the mages surrounded him.

Eden survived, but barely. “So, that’ll be three minions taking it to me more than the grand high boss of this place did. Yep. Normal service resumes…”


Ukruk, nursing both many scars and a grudge, stormed to the entrance of Tol Falas, a new and more powerful warband in tow. “I had to kill ten patrols of sun paladins to earn this new squad,” He growled, “They are not going to waste.”

“Brothers!” Ukruk stood before his new band, on the steps of the tower, “The time has come to retrieve the staff from this insolent vampire’s lair! Do you remember the plan?”

The orcs were silent. Planning wasn’t one of their strong suits.

“Very well,” Ukruk grumbled, “Essentially, it’ll be like most other orc incursions into the west. We’ll send in a bunch of grunts, let the Master get complacent in slaughtering them, then surprise him with an out-of-depth corruptor. You ready, G’nel?”

G’nel, the team corruptor, clicked his blighted fingers at Ukruk and winked. He loved his job.

“For the glory!” Ukruk raised his axe, then turned and almost bumped into Eden as he was leaving the tower, Staff of Absorption still in his hands. The two parties stared at eachother.

Eden coughed quietly, “… I don’t suppose any of you know the way to Ang--”

Eden awoke minutes later, both without the staff and thoroughly stamped into the ground. “You… you just can’t get the staff these days,” He burbled, before spitting out a tooth and passing out again.

As if things weren’t bad enough – exiled from Bree, exiled from Angolwen, exiled from Minas Tirith, recently impositioned by a bunch of orcs – Eden was now further aggravated by his conscience gland acting up. Orcs in numbers such as this, stealing staves from innocent travellers, was news important enough for the rulers of Minas Tirith to hear.

He would have to travel there to tell them, but first he had to make a detour.


“Heya Eden. Did something happen down south? I keep hearing stories about groups of the undead roving around, cheering and burning payslips.”

“Yeah, about that…” Eden twisted the tip of his beard reluctantly, “I kinda destroyed this guy called the Master, a head honcho vampire operating out of Tol Falas.”

“The Master?!” Grim, who always kept up-to-date with the latest affairs of the differently-alive, keened with delight, “You took down the Master?! That’s amazing! That’s… why are you so sad?”

Eden paced awkwardly, “That’s just it. I destroyed the Master. Without any trouble. The only offence he got out was a single manathrust. Not only is it completely out of character for me, but also it’s a total anticlimax! Can you help me?”

Grim tapped her nose, “Just leave it to ol’ Grimmy.”