Chapter 4: Rhudaur

Haldor continues his journey south to his homeland. Soon he reaches the river Mitheitel, and a bridge he's sure he never saw before. Just a few miles, and he will be able to see the forest of Rhudaur. And inside the forest, the city of Rhudor... his home.

Haldor already smells the scent of a good fire and roasted meat. And the hospitality of his people... maybe many years have passed since he died, and all the people he knew are probably dead too, but he knows he will be greeted with open arms. Now he's at the edge of the forest. In his memories, this was a part of the great forest of Ossiriand, where both elves and men used to live together before Morgoth started to corrupt all living things in Middle-Earth from his fortress of Angband.

A noise in the trees... Haldor carefully hides himself behind a large oak. Just in time to see three heavily armed trolls coming his way.

"Trolls! In the forest of Rhudaur! This can't be... they were supposed to be exterminated on the plain of Anfauglith when Morgoth fell that day." thinks Haldor, really starting to feel that many things did change during his forced absence.

After the trolls disappeared out of Haldor's sight, he started to hurry and went deeper in the forest. Something's definitely wrong... this is clearly not the forest he remembers. He should have reached his city now... And what he sees on top of a small hill confirms his doubts... Ruins... ruins of a city now buried in the forest. Nobody must have lived here for hundreds of years, if not thousands.

Haldor falls on his knees... if he still had eyes, he would probably cry. Now he's sure... nothing remains of his past life. He will have to make a new spot for himself in this world. Now he hears more noises in the surrounding forest... trolls again, this time heading deeper in the forest, to the east. Haldor follows them, and soon the forest becomes thicker. The trolls disappear through a small passageway in the trees.

This part of the forest is totally hostile. Rodents, wolves, giant worms, all types of wild animals, and of course... trolls.

Haldor looks on the ground and sees a tattered scrap of paper. Something is inscribed on it, perhaps a part of a diary entry... something about a glade and human remains.

"Excuse me, sir. I'm afraid I lost myself in this forest. Could you help me please?"

Haldor turns around an sees a woman wrapped in heavy plate armor, wielding a long sword... a paladin. She's seriously wounded and would probably not survive her next hostile encounter in the forest.

"My name is Xitha, and I've been separated from my company. They have set a recall portal somewhere in case we got lost in the forest. I will be able to rejoin them there".

"Lead on, my lady." replies Haldor. "I will protect you."

Fortunately, the recall portal stands very close to where Haldor met Xitha. A few bolts to dispel some bears and a forest troll, and the female paladin is lead to safety.

"Thank you very much, my friend. As a reward, I'm gonna teach you one of the chants of the sun paladins. It will grant you protection against physical attacks and spells. Now farewell!"

"Wait!" shouts Haldor. "Sun paladins? What are sun paladins?"

But Xitha has already crossed the portal and Haldor remains alone again. Continuing his progress in the troll-infested forest, he finds two more scraps of paper... parts of a diary, mentioning an old gigantic troll. A ruined building stands in this part of the forest. Haldor explores the building carefully, but finds nothing... except another scrap of paper, where the writer asks for help.

Now Haldor stands in the heart of the forest. The last scrap of paper he finds mentions the writer in a tree with the giant troll waiting at the bottom. Considering that nobody can currently be found near that tree, he supposes that the writer flew... or more probably got killed by the aforementioned troll.

And finally he sees him, the huge troll. Big, brawny, wielding a small tree trunk as a weapon.

"I am Bill, the Stone Troll, ruler of the Trollshaws. No human is allowed in my forest, and whoever enters it should be promptly killed!"

Haldor knows he'll have to get rid of the troll. His spells have grown quite powerful since he was awakened again, and even a big troll would be no match to his powers now. Freeze, mana bolt, lightning bolt, freeze... the giant mass of muscles drops dead.

Haldor searches the surroundings, but finds nothing except the poor belongings of Bill, the Stone Troll. Feeling discouraged, he turns back and leaves the forest...