Eden the Rogue, Chapter Nine: TRAINING MONTAGE


Normally, those who made bold claims of practising necromancy would be tried and hung immediately. This is hardly a bad state of affairs; while there was a brief necromancy renaissance a few years ago, with so-called “new” necromancers claiming that they weren’t evil but rather just “dark” and “anti-heroes”, at the end of the day the common people didn’t want a bunch of pallid maniacs forcing their deceased relatives to perform menial work and terrorise their friends.

Fortunately for Grim, her cheerful demeanour and the fact she appeared nothing like a necromancer – possessing a mop of blonde hair and a face given to smiling dopily – meant Bree’s townsfolk took her claims with rather good humour. She was treated as something of a village idiot. Of course, this doesn’t mean she was treated kindly; she was doomed by association with Eden, after all.

“Hi, Mr. Gardner!”

“You get away from me, you freak.”

“G’mornin’, Mr. Shrewsbury!”

“Keep moving, quarter-wit.”

“Nice day, isn’t it Mrs. Finswick?”

“She’s back, Elwin! Get the crossbow!”

“Yeesh, living types are always so touchy.” Grim was about ready to head to the local cemetery to perform a few extractions (the locals had been gossiping recently about faulty coffin hinges popping open on so many caskets…) when she heard a strange groaning sound coming from the dark alley behind the alchemist’s store. Curious, Grim meandered down the alley, only to find quite a sight waiting for her in the detritus piled up beside the store’s back door.


Unshaven and with bleary eyes, what was unmistakably Eden sat amongst a pile of empty bottles and golem parts. On noticing Grim, he drunkenly raised a half-empty bottle of slime mold juice and slurred to her, “I’m not dead, Grim! Sorry to disappoint you; you can’t use me as an undead slave just yet…”

“Don’t be silly,” Grim said as she came to Eden’s aid, “I wouldn’t make you an undead slave! You’d be an undead butler! What are you doing here? What have you been drinking?”

Eden raised his bottle, “Slime mold juice. It’s been out here for a while so it’s kind of fermented into something like cider. Well, cider that’s passed through a troll’s digestive system, but cider all the same! Cheers!” Eden clinked his bottle against an imaginary one, then slumped over sideways.

“What in the name of Mandos’ mountain of mistresses are you doing here, Eden?” Grim asked, “I thought you’d died!”

“How did you know?”

Grim allowed herself a small smile, “All of Eriador must have heard that high-pitched scream from Carn Dûm. It made all the dogs start barking.”

Sitting up once again, rubbing his eyes in an attempt to focus his thoughts, Eden slowly told Grim of his trial on Carn Dûm. He told her how he had been cornered by countless dragons and snow giants with next to no provisions. He told her about the fear he felt as he first stuck his head around the corner leading to the main mountain path. He told her about his countless battles against drake and giant, each time hoping that the stream of enemies that rounded the path’s corners would cease before his body gave out. He successfully escaped the hordes, but he felt no jubilation – there was an entire mountain to descend, and that seemed a terrifying prospect without his many bottles of “liquid courage”. Against all odds however, he survived.

“I admit,” Eden smiled, “I did feel rather cheerful after finally getting off that wretched mountain. However…”


“It was a lesson in my limits. I’ve been thinking about what the mayor said when I overheard that conversation, ‘he won’t keep beating these odds forever’. I’m starting to think that my adventures are doomed to failure! … Grim?”

To Eden’s surprise, Grim had already backpeddled quite a distance from him. She wound one of her arms around in a circle strangely, “I’ve never done this before,” She grinned, “And I may never do it again, so I’m going to do this right.”

“Do what right?”

Grim continued to pace backwards, “Just hold still.”

Confused, Eden complied as Grim finally stopped pacing, a good thirty yards from Eden. All of sudden she broke into a sprint, her arm twisting wildly. Before Eden could realise what was about to happen, Grim had nailed him with a full-on running slap that sent him skidding to the floor.

“SNAP OUT OF IT, EDEN! Heavens,” Grim sighed, “That felt good.”

“What are you talking about, Eden?!” She continued, “What happened to my old friend, who felt that he could take on the world as long as he had a dagger in his hand?! What happened to my friend who strode into the wilderness with nothing more than a knife and the leather on his back, to come back a troll-crushing, bone-crunching, tree-bothering hero?! What happened to him?!”

“He nearly got his face bitten off by dragons!” Stammered Eden, rather frightened by Grim’s hysterical rant.

“Nearly! Tell me, does nearly kill you?! Have you ever gone to the local sawbones and said ‘Gee, doc! I think I’m coming down with a case of nearly’! I’ll tell you what nearly means! It means your enemies failed, which means that you won! And you’ll win again!”

Eden leapt to his feet. Grim’s pep talk was working, even if it was for the wrong reason, “Don’t you get it, Grim? Those dragons were underlings, henchmen! Henchdragons! If they stopped me, what chance would I have against Rantha?!”

Grim’s eyes lit up – she was about to play her trump card, “Eden, think. What would Beturin think if she saw you now?”

Eden froze, “… Beturin?”

“You know what she’s doing now? She’s hanging around anorithil-land or wherever they live, thinking ‘why hasn’t he called me?’ ‘why hasn’t he called me?’

“Because phones haven’t been inven--”



“Tell me. Did she give her heart to some two-bit, cowardly thief who wails and flees whenever he faces adversity?”

Eden’s eyes blazed, “No way! She gave it to a two-fisted, dual-strikin’, flurry-stormin’, void-spawned demon! Rantha’s going down!” He stood dramatically for a moment, before suddenly realising, “How did you know about Beturin anyway?”

Grim sniggered, “I saw that picture you drew.” Eden cringed, cheeks turning red.

“However,” Eden added, “This doesn’t change the fact that I almost got my ticket to the Halls of Waiting from those dragons. Any ideas on getting past them?”

“Don’t worry,” Grim tapped her nose, “I’ll train you.”


Grim and Eden stood at the mouth of the maze, which Eden had previously believed to be the entrance to Angolwen. “I see fighters and stuff go into this place all the time when they need training,” Grim said, “They always come out lookin’ much stronger. They usually have shiny new equipment, too!” She turned to Eden, who now wore a heavy suit of steel plate armour thanks to his previous massive armour training, “How do you feel?”

Eden shifted uneasily, his armour squeaking, “I don’t like this armour. The metal plates keep grinding together. I don’t like grinding.”

“Ahh, stop complaining.”

“You know why it grinds, don’t you? It was cheaply-made. It’s cheap. I don’t like cheap grinding.

“Oh, hurry up and get in there!”

“Cheap suits of armour are usually made in bulk by unscrupulous armourers, the scum. In fact, I hear in Dale the practice has been nicknamed scumming. I don’t like CHEAP GRINDING, SCUMMING…”

“GET IN THERE!” And with a swift kick, Eden began his “training session”.


“This was where I had that dream with Arenji. Ha! See this, Arenji? See how I’m breathing? See how my heart’s beating? These symptoms are common to those with the condition, being alive.”


Picking up a scroll of phase door, Eden suddenly felt rather more safe. His thoughts turned to the adventurers he saw travelling to the sandworm lair. “I wonder if they managed to kill that sandworm queen. If they did, it’d certainly be a big boost to NPC rights.”


“I have a theory. Fighters come out of here looking tougher because their skin has gone all leathery from all the acid that’s poured on them!


Clank, clank, clank…

“If I get an itch in the middle of a fight with this on, I’m scuppered.”


 Level 20!
 +3 Strength
 +2 Dirty Fighting
 +1 Combat Techniques (The one with precise strikes, rush, etc.)

Hold on, Eden thought. It appeared that his previously gained category point had vanished! “Geez, I probably accidentally committed some useless skill to memory somewhere and have forgotten about it. Probably something like macramé or whittling, knowing my luck.”


“Damned labyrinth. I bet this thing would be child’s play to get through if I could see it from above.”

Eden found himself thinking: If the only reason I’m here is to gain experience, that means I’m killing all these creatures and people just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It feels… it feels… fun. Reavers have been unlocked.


 Level 21!
 +3 Dexterity
 +1 Health
 +1 Lethality

Eden certainly felt a little more experienced since his entry into the maze, but in truth experience wasn’t his primary concern. It was supplies. He was now truly feeling the effects of his banning from Bree’s stores – the only healing potions he possessed were a few meagre vials that he had scrounged during his recent trip.

Still, the journey had been far from useless. In particular, he had found three interesting rings. The first two afforded Eden protection from fire and cold respectively; he could have asked for no better assistance against the breath of the dragons. The third ring was something special indeed: It glowed with a multitude of colours as the primal forces of nature warred within it. It almost seemed to shake with fury… Elemental Fury.

“Meh.” Thought Eden.


Eden emerged from the maze once again, exhausted and sporting his first set of armour dents. Attempting to keep the cheerful sign pointing to Angolwen out of his eye line, he looked for Grim. “Grim? Where are you?”

Eden found a note nailed to the back of the Angolwen sign. “Got bored waiting. Gone home for lunch. Kiss kiss, Grim.” Eden grumbled.

As Eden made his way back to Bree he spied a distant mountaintop - Carn Dûm. He shivered. Even with his newfound experience he still felt a primitive fear as he thought of scaling the mountain once again. Maybe his near-death experience would stop him adventuring effectively for the rest of his life?

Eden was shaken from his reverie as a figure approached him. “Massacre! Massacre!”

The man that fell at Eden’s feet was visibly shaking, attempting to form words through his constant panicked gibbering, “Help! H-H-Help! Massacre!”

“Righty-dokey. Where do you need a massacre? Please say Bree.”

“No!” The man shakily got to his feet. From the look of him Eden guessed he was a lumberjack, “You’ve got to help me! You’re an adventurer, aren’t you?!”

“Well, I’m not sure anymore --”


“… Yes, I am. Where’s this trouble?”


Eden heard a man’s screams further ahead. "Why didn’t he scream like that?" He thought. His screams always made him sound like a little girl who had seen a spider. He hadn’t been able to get out of the panicking lumberjack what the threat to his village was. It could've been anything: Trolls, undead, maybe even orcs. If it was a dragon… would he be able to face it?

It turned out to be none of these things. A mass murderer, a frenzied, blood-soaked butcher stalked the paths of the village. Eden watched as his victims seemed to freeze, their eyes filled with horror, as the insane lumberjack approached them, only to fell them like miniature trees. Eden watched the spectacle momentarily, only coming to his senses as the murderer’s eyes fell on him.

“Tell me, boy…” He growled through a mouth of gore and broken teeth, “Are you afraid of dying…?” His knuckles were turning white from how tightly he held his axe.

The impact of the murderer’s statement stunned Eden; it was almost as if he knew about his experience on Carn Dûm and was now using it against him to deadly effect. Eden could only watch as the murderer stalked towards him, and gloom descended…

A shrill scream rang out from behind a nearby house, diverting the murderer’s attention and causing Eden to shake off the gloom. A woman and her young child had attempted to use the distraction Eden offered to escape, but now the murderer bore down on them, knocking the woman to the floor with the butt of his axe.

“Ben…! My husband…! Please!”

Ben Cruthdar lifted his axe, snarling, “Let’s see how much blood’s in you--”

Aaand that’s just about enough of that.”

Ben looked down – a pair of daggers was sticking through his stomach. Eden kicked Ben’s body off his knives, leaving him in a pool of blood beside the petrified mother and child. Before he died, Ben stared up at Eden. Expecting to see nothing but hate and madness in his eyes, Eden was surprised to see they had taken on a strange new shine. “Thank you…” He whispered.

“… You’re welcome?”

“People actually happy I exist,” Thought Eden as the group of lumberjacks before him offered him a small sack of coins, “I could get used to this.” Speaking out loud, he asked one of the lumberjacks, “I don’t suppose you have any shops I can use here?”

“Sorry, my friend. This is just a simple lumberjack village, after all.”


“Still, you’re welcome to stay as long as you please. We’ll make sure you’re well looked after; you’re our hero, after all.”

“Sorry, but I’ll have to decline your offer. I’ve got a dragon to slay.”

Grim sniggered, "I saw that picture you drew."


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