Chapter 5: Treasures

The few living beings encountered on his way outside of the forest told Haldor about a town west of his location. And about some caves below a ruined tower containing a lot of treasures. They warned him about all the undead infesting those caves, but now that he's one of them, it doesn't matter at all. His spells should be able to deal with all the enemies he's gonna meet.

Amon Sul. That's the name the people here give to this tower. Built during the Second Age by the kings of the West as a watch tower. Today is supposed to be the 48th Tuile of the 122nd year of the Fourth Age. Haldor is stunned... more than six thousand years have passed since Angband fell, ending what people name the First Age. All the people and places he knew have disappeared long ago, except maybe a couple of elves that survived all this time and decided to stay in Middle-Earth instead of taking the last boats to Valinor. Cirdan is one of them... maybe he'll visit his new home to the west someday, the Gray Havens. For now, what Haldor wants is fame for himself... and some good treasures could help him too.

Haldor enters the dark tunnels below Amon Sul. The atmosphere here really reminds him of the Paths of the Dead. Not very far from the entrance, he finds a room guarded by some skeleton warriors, mages and archers. Once the guardians are dead, he spots a small wooden chest in the corner of the room. Haldor opens it... and finds a beautiful golden belt inside. He identifies it as Goldenberry's Girdle of the Calm Waters, a belt that heightens his will, resistances and life energies regeneration capacities.

Deeper in the dungeon, Haldor meets a strange man, wearing blue magical robes. A mage? Haldor has encountered many mages in his life, but this man seems to have a different profession.

"I am Aerimas, and I'm an alchemist from Bree. I was looking for special gems in this place to sell to Bree's jewellery shop, but I'm afraid I got lost in this dungeon. I've set a recall portal not far from here, but I don't remember where it is. Can you help me find it again?"

"No problem." replies Haldor. "I will protect you."

The glowing blue aura of the alchemist's robe seems unfortunately to attract all creatures in the vicinity. Haldor has a hard time dispatching the various undead, rodents, worms and all sorts of underground creatures that cross his path, but finally he manages to lead the lone alchemist to his portal.

"Thank you, friend." says Aerimas. "I will reward you by teaching you how to imbue your armor with the power of gems. This should be very helpful to you. Now I'm going back to Bree. Farewell..."

"Wait!" shouts Haldor. "Bree? Is that the town west from here?"

"Yes." replies Aerimas. "If you come to Bree, maybe we'll meet again there..."

And with these words Aerimas is gone. Haldor feels more powerful again, and senses that the time has come to learn how to magically map the surroundings and make the burden of his possessions lighter. Further in the dungeon, Haldor finds a circular corridor and a door at the end... the entrance to a vault. The vault has very experienced skeleton mages guarding it... but Haldor knows that his mana/lightning combo should be able to destroy them. The treasures from the vault are quite disappointing, but Haldor finds a good ash staff of might to replace his old staff. More damage to his spells never hurts...

Now Haldor also knows how to confuse his enemies with his flame spell. The dungeon level he entered seems very humid, and any trace of light has disappeared. Behind a door, he finds a strangely shaped corridor. Suddenly, a skeleton with fire in his empty eyes appear.

"I sense it... you're not what you appear." says the skeleton. "You are one of us. I am the Shade of Angmar, and this is my realm. Come and rejoin the armies of my undead servants..."

"I'd rather kill you and take your staff..." replies Haldor, greedily looking at the skeleton's powerful glowing staff.

"Then so be it..."

And a powerful mana bolt surges from the Shade of Angmar's staff... Strangely, the skeleton appears to be a less powerful opponent... once he gets frozen by one of Haldor's spells. Then various bolt spells follow, and finally the Shade of Angmar gets destroyed.

"Now your staff is mine." says Haldor. Searching the Shade's hideout doesn't show any more treasures than that staff. Haldor leaves the Amon Sul dungeon and heads west, to the town of Bree.