Chapter 1: Awakening

Haldor wakes up in a dark and sinister dungeon.

"So that's how the Halls of Mandos look like... I was expecting something much more interesting."

Before him stands a human clothed in black robes, or at least an entity in human form. Could that be Mandos himself?

"Oh yes! I've done it! The most powerful slave ever created! And it's... MINE!"

Something is clearly wrong... This can't be Mandos... And the place... It's not a hall, it looks more like a summoning circle in a dusty dungeon. Haldor can't move... stuck inside the circle made of powerful runes of protection. And now he contemplates what remains of his old self... a set of pathetic bones, brought back to "life" by black magic with some kind of consciousness, a remnant of his past life as he once was Haldor, the Easterling Mage. Silently, he listens to the demented necromancer that created the abominous monstruosity he had become...

"A powerful slave against my enemies! No one will stand against me now!"

"I'm not a slave! I am Haldor, Archmage of Rhudor!", Haldor responds to the necromancer. "Now release me!"

"You're nothing more than a set of animated bones, conjured here to serve me!", replies the dark hooded figure. "Now shut up, slave!"

The ritual must have weakened the necromancer's powers. As he turns around for a moment, Haldor notices a part of the summoning circle starting to fade. A chance to escape? Even without his old body, Haldor still feels the magical energies flowing through his bony remains. Maybe his old magical powers are still intact. Without a moment of doubt, he conjures a powerful fire bolt and aim it at the overconfident necromancer.

"No! This can't be! I am your master! You must obey me! I'll teach you obedience, slave!", shouts the necromancer, as he calls the horrible spell of Soul Rot.

Nimbly dodging the spell, Haldor replies with a lightning bolt... and the necromancer falls to his knees.

"Why did you do that? With your help, we would have been unstoppable and conquered the world!"

"I'm not interested.", replies Haldor. "And I will destroy you for making an undead out of me!"

"Nooo! Please spare me! I'm a poor necromancer who needs his undead slaves to survive in this cruel world", gurgles the necromancer, as his life starts to slip out of his body. "And you will need me anyway to survive too! In your current form, everything you will meet outside of this room will try to destroy you..."

"So what do you propose?", asks Haldor.

"Here, take this cloak. It is an enchanted cloak that will hide your true nature and make you look like a normal human."

Haldor looks at the black cloak which seems to radiate magical energies. As he puts it on, he feels his magical energies increase... a powerful cloak indeed. Looking at himself through one of the polished stones that form the walls of the room, he sees a man, vaguely resembling the old Haldor he once was, the cloak giving an illusion of a skinny body to everyone that would look at him now.

"Thank you for the gift... now you may die.", says Haldor without a trace of mercy in the voice.

"NOOOOO... *gurlgle*."

The necromancer dead, Haldor starts to think about what he should do now. The idea of spending the remaining of his time on Arda as an undead skeleton repulses him... but ending his unlife now in this forsaken dungeon is not the answer. Suicide has never been liked by the Gods, and would probably cost his place in the afterlife... and appearing as this pathetic set of bones in front of Mandos is not really what he's looking for right now. Maybe there's still something to accomplish in Middle-Earth after all, and he's gonna have time to think about his second death later...

Haldor looks more closely at the room he's currently standing in. Where could he possibly be? And a more important question... when? How long did he stay in limbo state before being awakened here instead of in the Halls of Mandos?