Eden the Rogue, Chapter Three: Fun In The Forest

"What I require, I feel, is a way to disengage myself from this battle. This battle I find myself engaged in. So I am no long engaged but rather… disengaged…" Eden mulled over this conundrum as he held off Bubhosh’s furious incisors.

Then it hit him. Disengage! Rather more ambiguous than "run like a coward, possibly leaving an injured man to die" but he rather liked his name for it. Summoning up the alacrity from his boots, Eden’s Guile, Eden fled with the speed only those with an overdeveloped sense of self-preservation can. In fact, he never stopped running until he was safely back in his own home, in Bree.


The next day, Eden once again made his way into the Old Forest, not just to get into the Bree populace’s good books anymore, but also to prove to himself that he wasn’t a gutless wretch who ran screaming from a rabbit.

Luckily, it seemed that both the orc and Bubhosh were no longer present in the forest. The fact that he had seen an orc at all still had Eden rattled. He briefly entertained notions of travelling to Minas Tirith to deliver this news – they would likely find it deeply alarming. However, presently he could return to an activity he was much more at ease with: Menacing small woodland creatures, insects, and inanimate plants.

 Level 5!
 +1 Strength
 +2 Dexterity
 +1 Dual Weapon Defence
 +1 Flurry

Eden’s recent adventuring had revealed to him a new and devastatingly effective tactic: Run at your foes, and stab them a lot. No opponent would stand against his labyrinthine, diabolical, Machiavellian "flurry" strategy!

This strategy would soon find itself tested, as Eden did spy a large white snake slither between the forest’s trees, looking for something to get its unhinged jaws around. Eden dispatched it with ease, but just as he was thinking of a good one-liner to deliver to the snake’s carcass ("slither back to where you came from, you hissing… cold-blooded… thing?") he noticed another snake, this one brown. Rather more agile than the white snake, this serpent managed to sink its fangs into Eden’s arm before his daggers found their mark. As Eden was nursing his wounds – fortunately the snake hadn’t been poisonous – another snake approached. And another. And another.

Although Eden fought his way through the tangled mess of snakes as best he could, his whirling knives creating enough snake skin and meat to give every citizen of Bree a solid meal and some stylish footwear to boot, the hissing horde before him did not diminish. If anything, it seemed to grow. Eden knew it was only a matter of time before…

Snap! A copperhead snake had gotten a lucky bite on Eden’s leg, and from the painful burning sensation that spread from the wound, he knew he had been poisoned. Sensing his vitality fading, Eden began to backpeddle from the serpentine army, still hissing and snapping their fangs at him, but as he neared the boundary of the Old Forest, his steps faltered. His superstition.

"Can’t… leave… forest… while… poisoned…! Bad… karma…!"

Hopping nervously from foot to foot, Eden could only watch as a tidal wave of snakes surged towards him, hoping against hope that the poison in his blood would abate in time. "Feel pretty poisoned…" Eden mumbled, "Kind of poisoned… a little poisoned… just a little poisoned… clean! RUN!"



Eden worked his way past the sheer wall of dead snakes that blocked the forest’s path, picked a few broken fangs out of his flesh, and continued on. On immediately running into a brown bear, hungry and vicious, Eden laughed with joy, "Yes! A non-snake! Oh, look at the size of it. I can swing my knives anywhere and they’ll hit you! Bliss!" Leaving the bear soundly manhandled (knifehandled) Eden progressed through the forest, a spring in his step.

"Oh great. A shield." Eden’s mood darkened as he noticed an old iron shield, probably left by some unfortunate adventurer. He hated shields. Out of all the things he had to haul back to Bree to sell for cash, they were the heaviest and most cumbersome. Well, apart from full suits of armour, but you’d have to be terminally broken to trade in them. Then Eden realised: He couldn’t trade in them. He could leave it there. With the trumpets of the Valar blazing odes of joy in his head, Eden strode past the shield.

 Level 6!
 +3 Dexterity
 +1 Dual Weapon Defence
 +1 Weapon Combat

Finally, on approaching one of the forest’s staircases (a previous mayor of Bree felt that building small staircases on certain slopes of the Old Forest would make travel into it more bearable, breaking journeys into "levels" as it were) Eden found himself, with absolutely no prior warning, under attack by an insane, diseased vagrant. His assailant wheezed and gibbered, clawing at Eden’s face, only stopping as he felt a pair of daggers cut him from neck to navel.

"Panhandlers!" Eden growled, "When I say I haven’t got anything to give you, I mean it! But…" Eden’s eyes alighted on a strange copper amulet around his assailant's neck, "It looks like you have something to give me. If you can afford jewellery, you can afford to stop begging. It’s just common decency.”

Leaving the corpse of his attacker, his newly acquired amulet hanging around his neck, Eden failed to notice that the advanced level of rot and decay in the body’s flesh was from no crippling disease. It appeared that the corpse had been a corpse for quite some time…

 Level 7!
 +3 Strength
 +1 Dual Weapon Defence
 +1 Knife Mastery


"Well, look at this…" Thought Eden, picking up an old wizard’s hat, "Looks like a little spellweaver strayed a little too far from Angolwen, eh?" Eden looked upwards, considering his currently unprotected head. Sure, an effete, pointy bit of cloth wasn’t going to stop many fangs or blades, and he’d look silly, but it was better than nothing. Besides, Eden’s Guile made him look silly already. "Look at me! I’m an archmage! Manathrust! Manathrust! Sense! Phase door an’ stuff!"


Eden regarded the new steel ring adorning his finger with satisfaction, "Rakish!" With his yellow boots, ostentatious jewellery and his wizard’s hat flopping around on his head, he couldn’t help but feel a little embarrassed. Still, he pondered, I suppose you can wear whatever you want out in the wilds. It might even help with thievery – nobody ever suspects the deranged-looking fashionista, after all.

“Awful lot of beasties in this Old Forest. I didn’t think Old Man Willow liked us flesh-types in general.”

 Level 8!
 +3 Strength
 +1 Dual Weapon Defence
 +1 Heavy Armour Training

With his fingers newly fortified by his heavy armour prowess, Eden tugged on his iron gauntlets with pride. "So now I can’t handle things properly, and all my important bits are still as unprotected as before! I’m a rogue master!"


"Are those… dragons?!"

They were dragons. Young though they were, what was unmistakably four white dragons waddled towards Eden, gouts of frosts shooting from their nostrils. Eden hesitated; though he had fought many powerful creatures recently, trolls, bears, wolves, he hadn’t yet faced anything he would call mythological. Well, apart from the orc and his rabbit. Eden choked: HE RAN FROM A RABBIT. "How am I gonna deal with this?!" He wailed, and as one of the dragons bore down on him, he instinctively swung a dagger out at it.

"Gaak!" Eden wasn’t ready for the sensation he felt as his knife met dragonhide. It was as if the rime of frost that coated the hatchling had travelled up his blade and into his arm. Regardless, he saw that his strike had an impact, as a rivulet of blood leaked from between the dragon’s scales. Swapping to his other arm (shaking his frozen one to warm it up) Eden brought one of his knives down again.

"So, I’m a dragonslayer now." Eden said to himself out loud. Clucking his lips for a moment, he added, "I thought I’d become more impressive by saying that, like a noble steed would show up out of nowhere with a suit of shining armour for me." Sadly, Eden still felt like Eden, the Bree rogue outcast. But just wait until he strides back into Bree, he imagined, a picture of manliness, the princess Old Man Willow had kidnapped wrapped around him (he kidnapped a princess, right?), throwing the monstrous tree’s head… stump… at the townspeople’s feet.

They’ll beg him to steal from them!

Eden's tree-based adventures continue in chapter four!