Chapter 19: Mount Doomed

After entering the land of Eruan, Haldor immediately spots a young elven woman resting in the palm trees. She looks tired and wounded.

"I am Vorylaith, Seer of the Gates of Morning. I was sent here with a group of sun paladins to investigate about the orc menace. We were attacked and separated. I know there's a recall portal somewhere, could you help me find it?"

But before Haldor could respond, many giant insects with sharp claws and venomous fangs pop out of the sand. Ritches! Before Haldor can do any move, some of the insects start injecting corrupting diseases in the already wounded body of Vorylaith. In an instant, she dies. Haldor buries the poor seer and continues his exploration of Eruan.

A moment later, Haldor meets one of the sun paladins from the group of Vorylaith. She's lost and wounded. She introduces herself as Ce'Nille, and gratefully accepts Haldor's help to reach her recall portal. When she's finally in safety, she improves Haldor's Chant of Fortitude as a reward.

In the same area, Haldor finds a strange loose rock. Moving it reveals the entrance to a small cavern. The den of a greater multihued wyrm and its children... Experience and treasures...

Deep in the desert of Eruan, Haldor meets another one of the sun paladins from the group of Vorylaith. He is waiting near a small oasis surrounding a strange portal.

"Haldor, my name is Guren, and I am one of the sun paladins sent by Aeryn. We have hunted the orcs who were guarding the staff up to this place. Unfortunately, they escaped through that portal with the staff, and we learned that they plan to use it to absorb the power of a remote place for a dark ritual. Some of my friends followed them. You must take this portal and stop the orcs!"

"I will not deceive you." replies Haldor.

Using the Orb of Many Ways, Haldor enters the swirling portal and, in the blink of an eye, finds himself in the heart of a volcano! Five sun paladins stand in line, fighting a large group of orcs.

"Sir Rodmour, the archmage has arrived!" shouts a human sun paladin.

"Haldor," replies High Sun Paladin Rodmour, "the orcs already started their dark ritual. I can sense the power of the staff absorbing the surrounding magical energies. You must go in the heart of Mount Doom and stop that ritual! We will try to contain the orc flow here as long as we can, but we won't be able to hold for long. So go now, do not let the orcs finish their work!"

"Farewell, my friends. Your sacrifice won't be in vain..."

Haldor progresses with great difficulty in the searing heat. The lava floor saps his life energies, and all fire creatures which he has to face are really hard to kill without his fire spells. But using mana, lightning and ice bolts, he manages to reach the heart of Mount Doom.

Haldor was expecting orcs to wait for him, but not at all. Before him stand two wizards, clothed in blue robes. One of them is holding the Staff of Absorption, the other...

"Damn you!" shouts the blue wizard. "You only postpone your death! We must depart now, but we'll leave you with a little surprise... Fyrk!"

Suddenly, a huge fire elemental appears. Flames swirl all around him. Haldor retreats behind a lava wall and waits for Fyrk, the Faeros High Guard, to appear. The fight is hard, no fire or ice spell can harm the tough elemental, and Haldor has to stay in short range to cast his mana and lightning spells. But finally, the fire elemental is destroyed, leaving behind his powerful amulet, the Fiery Choker.

Haldor turns around, but the blue wizards have left through a portal, which seems to go back to the Far East. Haldor must follow them to find out what their true purpose is. Maybe Aeryn will be able to tell more...

But Haldor is troubled, because he cannot believe what he just saw. During his recent travels, he learned the stories about the Istari, powerful Maiar who took a human form during the Third Age to help the nations of Arda in their fight against Sauron. He learned the story of Gandalf the Grey, who was known as Olorin when Haldor was still alive during the First Age, and his role during the War of the Ring. He learned about Saruman, who betrayed Gandalf in favor of Sauron. The two blue wizards he just saw were undoubtedly two of the Istari. Haldor has no idea who the first blue wizard is, but he recognized the second one. Although the past six thousand years have turned his human form into the shape of a very old man, it's still the same powerful Maia.

The second blue wizard was his mentor, Eldorin...

The twist upon a twist :)

I like how you took my story twist and twisted it some more!

No go kick his ass!