Eden the Rogue, Chapter Eight: Is This The End Of Eden?!


"Ahh, now this is more like it!"

The secret city of Angolwen spread before Eden. The plaza he stood before was filled with mages walking to and fro; talking about new spellcasting techniques, comparing spectacles, enjoying chilled glasses of restore mana at one of the many roadside potion stands. Eden grinned – these spellweavers were so easy to steal from! They always had prime equipment, and it was child’s play to pickpocket from somebody who carried all their things using feather wind…

"May I help you?"

Eden halted as a guard clanked towards him. He noticed that on the tip of his spear there wasn’t a spearhead, but a wand. He guessed that it wasn’t of sense. "What are you doing here, rogue?" The guard asked sternly.

"Me? Didn’t you get the message from that novice mage? I’m to be welcomed here! I’m Eden!"

"Novice mage?" The guard thought to himself. With sudden realisation, he slapped his face with frustration, "This again…"

"Excuse me?"

"Some thieves who know the location of Angolwen disguise themselves as mages. They trick saps into giving them all their magical equipment, promising that they can grant them access here. Didn’t you ever ask yourself why an apprentice would have such authority?" Eden had asked himself, but it didn’t make him feel any less stupid now.

"Oh, by Ulmo’s anklet," Eden grumbled, "What do I do now?"

"You turn around, and go home."

"What?!" Eden exclaimed, "But I have no home!" This was a lie – Eden did have a home, but he didn’t plan on returning to it, what with it being in the middle of that town that hates his guts. Grim had asked if she could use it to store bodies for her necromantic experiments. Eden agreed; on the off-chance that Grim was a necromancer, the smell would drive the townspeople crazy.

The guard, seeing that Eden would not leave quietly, gave a huge sigh. “Fine, I suppose I can tell you about the standard test mages give so others can access Angolwen. I’m going to warn you though, they give out this test simply so that the people taking it get killed and stop bothering them. If you succeed however, they’ll be legally bound to allow you access. Are you interested?”


“Either the heart of the Sandworm Queen… or the head of Rantha… hmm…”

Worms or dragons? Massive, fire-breathing reptilian monsters from his darkest nightmares, or worms? It almost didn’t seem like a choice at all!

It felt more like a choice, however, as Eden approached the sandworm lair. By chance, Eden found himself walking alongside a group of fellow adventurers also interested in gaining access to Angolwen.

“Awful lot of scrolls you’ve got there…” Eden commented, noticing the reams of parchment that bulged out of the adventurers’ satchels, “Thinking of starting a library for the sandworms?”

“What, are you simple?” Snapped an elven archer at Eden, “These are magic mapping scrolls! Phase door scrolls! You’d have to be insane to enter the lair of the sandworms without these. If anything, I think we’re underequipped…”

“Really?” Eden looked at the paltry selection of moth-eaten scrolls in his pack.

“Aye. Your biggest enemy down that hole isn’t the sandworms…” A gruff-looking dwarf (is there any other type?) stooped to pick up a handful of sand, “It’s this.”

“Sand? I don’t understand what you’re – Pfagh! Plegh!” The dwarf had dashed the sand he held at Eden’s eyes.

“That, times a million.” The dwarf laughed, “Aye, the only good thing about going into the sandworm lair underequipped is that your corpse is already buried for you! How’s that for convenience, lad? … Lad?”

Eden was already a distance from the group, shouting over his shoulder, “I’m just going to go and get a thick jacket! I think I’ll need it where I’m going…”


Eden shivered. The lands surrounding Bree could hardly be called balmy, but they weren’t nearly as cold as Carn Dûm. Eden almost found himself wishing for intense combat, believing it would warm him up somewhat. Unfortunately, his primary opponents on the mountains were cold drake hatchlings and snow giants. Each battle was becoming a trial; the wounds he received from his enemies were quite trivial compared to the bitter cold he experienced each time he faced them.


“I swear, if those mages have sent me on a wild goose chase like those slimeballs in Bree did, I’ll… I’ll…” What would he do? They were mages. “I’ll… stamp my feet, have a temper tantrum and storm off…?”

Eden was rather shocked – literally – to find that some of the snow giants possessed the power of lightning, hurling great bolts of electricity at him in battle. He guessed they must’ve eaten a few tempest mages.

  Level 17!
 +2 Strength
 +1 Dexterity
 +1 Weapon Combat
 +1 Lethality


Regardless of his recent victories over the snow giants, Eden found himself feeling worn and downtrodden. While he couldn’t fault the speed boost his eponymous boots gave him, he could fault them when it came to keeping frost and slush out from his socks.

It was the chill that got him. It was a very strange experience while fighting, dreading your own blows rather than the enemies’ – each strike at the cold dragons and snow giants brought on a bout of frostbite. To someone like Eden, who employs rather a “death by a thousand cuts” fighting strategy, this wasn’t a good thing. Eden’s mind drifted, filling with images of roaring fires, his warm bed back in Bree, mittens…

It was because of this that he almost missed the remarkable clouds of steam that were emanating from around the corner of the mountain pass he trod on. “Steam…” Gasped Eden quietly, “A hot spring! I found a hot spring! Bliss! Haha, looks like my luck's turning around; the other Valar must have heard about Arenji messing around with my dreams and had him clapped in tilkal!”

Unfortunately for Eden, in truth Arenji was at his diabolic best.

“Hot spring…” Eden chirped happily, “Hot spring… maybe there’s a bath house too! And a high school! And a -- FIRE DRAKE!”

The steam he had saw was the snow hissing and melting beneath the mammoth reptile’s bulk as it waddled around being generally unfriendly and avaricious, as dragons are wont to be. On spying Eden, the dragon gave a colossal roar. Not a roar of anger, as Eden thought, but a roar of joy, for it could now indulge in its favourite hobby – burning things!

“YOW!” Eden wildly weaved out of the way of a huge gout of flame, “I… I don’t know if that felt bad or good!” He stammered. It was delightfully warm…

The second burst of flame, which did hit Eden, he was less ambivalent about. Ducking around a corner, Eden heard as the dragon roared again. This roar was a roar of summoning; it was calling its brood. Unfortunately, this would be the fire drake’s undoing: Just as fighting cold drake hatchlings chilled Eden’s knives, fighting fire drake hatchlings heated them. By the time he faced the fire drake, his knives were hot enough to cut through the dragon’s thick scales like a battleaxe through an elf neck.

With one final death cry, the fire drake collapsed with a great thud, gold spilling out from beneath its body, the snow around it melting to water. Eden happily collected the gold – happily and carefully, it was still rather hot – wondering why dragons were greedy as he did. He’d never seen one in a shop before. Then again, he wasn't going in any shops soon either. "Me, you, magpies... we're of a kind, dragon."


Did extreme cold give people hallucinations? Eden hadn’t heard about anything like that, but it would be the only reason he was seeing what he was seeing: An alchemist sat on a small boulder, smoking a pipe ruminatively. While his clothes were as worn and weathered as Eden’s were from the climate and wildlife, he appeared rather unruffled. “Hello…?” Eden addressed his hallucination, “What’s your name?”

The alchemist looked up at Eden, taking the time to extinguish his pipe, empty it and place it into his shirt pocket before replying placidly, “Gunadek, my friend. But don’t concern yourself with the name of a corpse, my boy.”

“A corpse…?” Eden pulled a face in confusion, “You’re looking pretty good on it. I suppose it’s the cold, it preserves bodies well, I hear…”

“Few percent short of immunity, aren’t you?” Gunadek sighed, “There’s a beast out there, a cold drake, and it has me cornered. This long path affords no protection from its frost, and I find myself unable to travel back the way I came to boot. Fortunately, I appear to have lost it momentarily, but I fear it will find me again soon…”

“Why? What attracts a cold drake?”

“The sound of some young turk bellowing about what attracts cold drakes, for one!”

Gunadek and Eden looked up the mountain path, one languidly and the other in sheer horror, as the cold drake appeared. It was markedly different to the fire drake Eden had fought previously, terrifying in an entirely different sense: The gore of its previous meals was frozen around its snapping jaws, the frost it exhaled was so dense as to form shards of ice and hail which fell to the ground and shattered. And of course, just its presence drove Eden’s body temperature down past ‘absolute zero’ to ‘no, for real, absolute zero’.

“So, you’re an alchemist, eh?” Eden shivered, “Erm… is your golem around, perchance?”

“Eaten,” Gunadek simply replied.

“Ah… got any gems? Throw a couple of technicolour bombs its way!”

Gunadek gave a hollow chuckle, “The only gem I have left is the one on my wedding band, and I’m not sure what good that would be in a bomb… a little hate-based damage, maybe…”

The cold drake roared, expelling a massive plume of frost at the pair.

Gaaakakakak!” Eden’s body temperature dropped past ‘no, for real, absolute zero’ to ‘haahagaaagaa cold heheeha cold cold’ as the frost engulfed him. Eden's mind was so mangled and half-frozen by the assault he found himself thinking in ways he never would have thought if he was lucid:

“Cold, cold, cold. Make cold go away. Drake long way away. Can’t get to it in time. What to do? Disengage? No, disengage means to run away from, I want to run away to. What to do? Gunadek? Wounded, useless. Useless? No. Frightening. Pretend he’s frightening! Run from him! Disengage!”

In an instant, Eden found himself stood before the drake, having just ran screaming from the confused alchemist. In a way, Eden was glad as he revealed his daggers: He didn’t need his mind for what he was about to do now. The drake roared, lifting one of its own hatchlings to shield itself, but it was useless.


“Did you see how that thing used one of its babies as a human shield? Ah… draconic shield?” Eden muttered as trudged back to Gunadek, “Despicable. Can I borrow your pipe?”

“I suppose,” Murmured Gunadek as he slowly held it out, “I have no more pipeweed, however…”

“Doesn’t matter, it just needs to be warm,” Eden held the pipe to his forehead, and sighed with relief, “Aah, that’s better.”

“Here we are…” Gunadek’s eyes fell upon his recall portal, half-covered by snow, “I must admit, that was quite a feat you accomplished, and I thank you. … Any reason why you let yourself get hit by that snow giant thunderer on the way here?”

Eden shrugged, shaking off his electrocution and attempting to smooth out his frazzled hair, “It keeps you warm.”

“Super. Still!” Gunadek nimbly span his staff as he walked towards his recall portal, “Shall I reimburse you for your troubles? I could teach you how to petrify with a touch, to imbue your equipment with the power gemstones possess, even to channel raw magical energy through --”

“Wow! How did you do that?”

“This?” Gunadek twirled his staff again, “Just a trick I picked up during my studies.”

“Teach me that! Teach me that!”

“Are you sure…?” Gunadek asked uncertainly, “It’s only got to be worth, like, one point of dexterity…”

“Teach me!”

“… Very well…”

 Level 18!
 +2 Dexterity
 +1 Cunning
 +1 Knife Mastery
 +1 Lethality

“An escort quest and a level! Quite an adventure this area of Carn Dûm was. Still, I suppose nothing else interesting could hap--”


The pack of bandits leapt upon Eden without warning, but then Eden spun his daggers around without warning as well. Seeing three of their number immediately fall, the remaining brigands fled, leaving Eden to look over those he defeated. He recognised one of them: Melna.

“Ha… haha…” She croaked, still attempting to heave herself up to stab Eden regardless of the mortal wound she had received, “Gonna get ya, Eden… gonna… why am I so cold?”

“Honestly,” Tutted Eden, looking down at his deranged assailant, “When you’re a psychopath, stabbing things like a maniac is the only thing you can do well! How hopeless must you be to be out-stabbed by a lucid fellow like me?”

“Cut ya… kill ya…”

“Charming. Ooh, hello…” Stooping down, Eden tugged the heavy gloves from Melna’s twitching hands. One identify spell later, and he said, “I should’ve known! How could a madwoman like you hold onto anything without the Gloves of the Firm Hand?”

“Mel… Melna’s Guile.” Melna coughed, then she died. For this last statement, Eden decided to give Melna a proper burial. “She’s stabbing Maiar now,” He said solemnly to the cairn he constructed, then walked into the snow.

Still, it appeared his old gang was still operating, regardless of their leader’s death, and they were now outfitting his assassin’s with artefacts? Maybe they were getting outside help…


“♪ Twirly-twirly-twirl… ♫ Getting these Gloves of the Firm… M-Melna’s Guile just after learning this staff-twirling trick was really quite fortuitous!”


“Ho! Friend, some assistance!”

Eden groaned. Do all warriors begin their conversations with that? Sure enough, on turning he spied a man in plate armour approaching him. While most of the adventurers he met were injured or troubled in some way, this man had been put through the ringer quite extensively indeed. His shield was little more than a dented piece of tin, and the blade of his axe had been broken clean off, leaving a rough haft in his hand.

“Hathyrath, my friend,” The warrior shook Eden’s hand firmly, “I require your assistance --”

“Another recall portal job?” Sighed Eden, “Where are you all getting these portals anyway?”

“Recall? Ha!” Hathyrath laughed, “It is true that I shall be using a recall portal to leave eventually, but first I have enemies to slay! I was just going to ask if you would assist me, rogue.”

Eden was surprised, but not necessarily annoyed, “Okay… I guess the exercise will keep me warm. What enemies are you planning on slaying, anyway?”

“Those ones!” Hathyrath pointed over Eden’s shoulder. Eden turned, and his jaw hit the ground with a resounding thump.

Four cold drakes. Three snow giant chieftains. Both dragon and giant had brought hordes of underlings. The forces arrayed before Eden would have been enough to siege Minas Tirith, let alone turn a lost warrior and his rogue escort to goo.

“Ah, if only my brother was here!” Hissed Hathyrath.

“Brother?” Eden knew the answer to his question before it even escaped his lips, “Was your brother’s name… Grinymnir?”

“Why, yes! You’ve met him? Ah, he is a peerless warrior – without equal! Would that I had the skill and raw might that he possessed! How did you come to meet him? I assume he is still travelling the wilds on his adventures?”

Eden didn’t know what expression he was wearing as Hathyrath was simultaneously frozen, crushed and torn asunder by the horde. He could only hope it wasn’t silly. But now, he had to turn to the matter of his survival, which was very much up in the air. The horde remained, and was continuing to swell as the drakes screamed for their broods.

 Level 19!
 +1 Dexterity
 +2 Constitution
 +1 Massive Armour Training
 +1 Dirty Fighting

No more fooling around, thought Eden. If I’m going to be fighting stuff like this I’m taking no chances: Wear enough armour to survive an apocalypse and cheat, cheat, cheat.

He hurriedly unfurled a scroll of phase door and read it. It deposited him two feet to the right. Cursing angrily, he read a second. This one deposited him into a snow giant warcamp. The third, a dragon’s nest. The fourth, another dragon’s nest…

The last of Eden’s healing potions fell the to the ground, empty. His scrolls of phase door and teleport were consumed. He had found a momentary respite, a tiny alcove hidden from the baying hordes that waited for him. Arenji’s frenzied laughter rang in his ears. Eventually, he would have to make a run for it…

Syndicate content