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


"♪ Tum-te-tum… ♫"

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


"♪ 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.

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

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

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

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."


 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


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 –



"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?"


"… 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 --"



"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


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.