Chapter 24: Deja-Vu

Haldor examines the situation... He has to find the key to the slime tunnels somewhere in a dungeon. But which one? He will have to explore each and every one again...

Haldor enters the Trollshaws. The trolls should pose no threat to him, now that he is much more powerful than he used to be when he entered the forest for the first time. However, the first creature he found the first time... was not the storm wyrm he faces now.

Deeper in the Trollshaws, Haldor meets a sun paladin, Aluin the Fallen. His once shining armour is now dull and stained with blood. He is surrounded by a gloomy aura and despair fills his eyes. He attacks Haldor at once. Haldor responds with spells, and kills the cursed paladin. From his corpse, Haldor picks up a bloody shield, the Sanguine Shield, and a dull black ring, the Ring of Mandos. But nothing looking like a magical key...

The Tower of Amon Sul still looks the same... undead everywhere. Haldor clears a vault he missed the first time, and ventures deeper. On the deepest level, where the Shade of Angmar loomed, he finds a strange spirit, Angmar's Fury. It seems to be the reincarnation of the Shade, looking for vengeance! The fight is intense, as the frightening ghost seems to resist magical damage, but he finally is destroyed, leaving nothing but a ringing amulet behind, the Vox.

The Old Forest seems peaceful once again. There are still wild animals, but nothing that can't be found in a wild forest. Until Haldor finds this huge corrupted Ent, Snaproot. Looking like an old scorched tree, he doesn't like the fire blast that erupts from Haldor's hands at all... The Ent has a lot of life energies, but he burns quite well... Unfortunately, he was not holding anything of value. On his way out, Haldor finds a strange potion, which appears to be the Ever-Refilling Potion of Mana! A really useful find...

The Maze is still the same confusing place. But Haldor has learned how to travel quickly in dungeons now, and he knows where the exits to the tunnels are. Around a corner, he finds a pack of ants leaded by their mother, the Queen Ant. Haldor quickly dispatches the ants... but of course they didn't own anything of value.

Haldor doesn't feel like going inside the Sandworm Lair again. He doesn't sense anything in that place that could hold a magical key... But who knows? As soon as he enters, he feels that something is terribly wrong. The sandworms have all disappeared... Haldor quickly finds the reason... A huge sand wyrm appears, shrieking as it notices what seems to be its next meal. Haldor casts a few spell and kills the ugly Corrupted Sand Wyrm. Like Breagh, this sand wyrm was holding a nice collection of gems. And a putrescent potion, the Wyrm Bile. But still no magical key... Haldor drinks the Wyrm Bile, and feels transformed... but also more talented.

Carn Dum... The icy dragon cave is still bleak and full of snow giants and frost dragons. During his exploration of the dungeon, he finds a shining dagger, Sting, the small sword once wielded by Bilbo Baggins. At the bottom of the cave, Haldor meets a huge and heavily scarred orc, his sword covered in dragon blood. A master of the Orc Pride... Finally Haldor has found someone related to his mission. No doubt he's holding the key he's looking for...

"You!" shouts Haldor. "The Orc Pride has been destroyed. There's no need to fight anymore. Give me the key you're holding and I'll let you go."

"A key?" responds Massok the Dragonslayer. "I don't know what you're talking about... I am here to slay dragons and collect treasures. But your skull will be a nice addition to my collection..."

And Massok rushes out... The hit he scores throws Haldor against the closest wall, his life energies almost all gone. He wouldn't be able to stand another hit, so he teleports to safety and regenerates. Now he has to use all his cunning and talents to avoid being hit again, while throwing his spells at the berserking orc. When Massok finally falls down, Haldor searches his dead body... He finds a skull helm, the artifact Dragonskull Helm, but no key. The orc master was telling the truth after all...

Haldor recalls which dungeons he didn't explore yet. Tol Falas... then Moria. That's about it. He heads south, hoping that his quest will not be in vain...