Eden the Rogue, Chapter Twelve: Walking Too Deep


“Well well! If it isn’t the king of the sandworms! What business do you have with us here, your highness?

“I have destroyed the Master, and have shocking news for your elder.”

“Hahahaa! You?! Destroy the Master?! I don’t suppose you have any proof?”

“Well… I drew this picture.”


“And also, I have his head in a bag here. Look.”

“…! On you go.”

“Welcome, Bree-Man, to Minas Tirith.”

“Racialist,” Thought Eden in his head.

The town’s ancient elder shifted in his seat. Looking at his deeply tanned and wrinkled complexion, Eden couldn’t help but think of walnuts. “Traveller, please be quick as my time is precious.”

“Ignoring the fact that you were just sat there collecting cobwebs…” Eden muttered under his breath, before addressing the elder properly, “I have found a strange staff in my travels. It looked very old and powerful. I dared not use it.” Eden froze – why hadn’t he used it?! He could’ve left that Ukruk looking like a metroid victim…

The elder remained silent for a while, “… Indeed, you were right to come here. The staff you describe reminds me of an artefact of great power from ancient times. May I see it?”

Eden tugged his collar awkwardly, “I’m afraid I lost it…” He went on to describe his encounter with the orcs in detail, with only minor embellishments, “So, I was riding along on my tiger when I saw this group by the side of the road. ‘What’s all this?’ I thought, as I adjusted my diamond-rimmed eyeglasses…”

“… And that’s about it.”

The elder’s head was bowed in thought, his eyes closed. “Could I have that story without the nonsense, young man?”

Eden hung his head, “Found staff. Big orc. Head hurt. Gone.”

“Orcs?! In the west?! This is deeply alarming!”

Hah, Eden thought. Knew I was right, back in the Old Forest.

“We have not seen any for nearly eighty years. They must have come from the far east…”

“Excuse me? Far east?! What far--”

“But do not let me trouble you…”


“Do not let me trouble you. You brought important news and you are lucky to be alive.”

Eden rolled his eyes, “Thank you, my lord.” How many vampire lords has he slain recently?

“We have heard rumours from the dwarves that there may still be an orc presence deep in the mines of Moria. I know you have been through a lot, but we need somebody to investigate and -- GET BACK HERE!”

Eden, who was already halfway to the door, reluctantly turned, “Are you cracked?! I’m not going into Moria!”

“I can see someone like you only exists for personal gain…” The elder mumbled to himself, “Lad, I suppose you know the story of Moria?”

“Yes. Dwarves, greedy, dug too deep, balrogs.”

“Indeed. They dug too deep. They dug too deep for their mithril, gold and jewels…”


“I understand that the balrog situation is now under control, but the depths of Moria largely remain open. If one wanted the wealth within its halls now, they wouldn’t have to dig too deep – they wouldn’t have to dig at all!”


“How does ‘walking too deep’ sound to you?”


As Eden made his way towards the western entrance of Moria his attention was taken by a structure that wasn’t on his map. An abandoned ruin, obviously of elven architecture, stood open and ready for an enterprising adventurer to explore.

“Meh,” Thought Eden, and continued on his way.


Yep, this was definitely a dwarven hall. You could always tell when the bearded brethren of the mountains have had a hand in designing something. Long corridors branched around the entirety of the halls, many of them useless, simply ending in dead ends or curling around on themselves. Each and every wall was covered in engravings, the vast majority of which illustrated the various horrors and massacres the previous residents of Moria had suffered/caused. The air was thick with the smell of cat meat and mushrooms. Still, it beat the smell of…


The orcish battalion that fell upon Eden came as something of a shock. They had forgone their usual ‘drums in the deep’ routine; a few years ago the orcs realised that an orc playing a drum is an orc not beating somebody’s head open, so they banned the activity. While this choice certainly improved the stealth and manpower of many orcish groups, their strength still wasn’t enough to put Eden away presently.

Eden also noticed, with quiet irritation, that the orcish assassins he fought held rather mediocre daggers, despite ostensibly being part of one of the orcs’ largest forces in the west. Just how long would he have to amble along with dwarven-steel daggers for?

 Level 28!
 +2 Dexterity
 +1 Cunning
 +1 Precision
 +1 Knife Mastery

"Aah... Do you hear this noise? This is the end of knife mastery and weapon combat's tyranny over my generic skill points. I can finally specialise... anew."


It had been a long time since Eden had fought trolls. The Trollshaws were a distant memory, but here he saw that the big and brutish race still had some tricks up their sleeves. With a mishmash of metal plates covering their hides to improve conduction, not to mention segments of carpet under their feet to generate electricity, the trollish thunderers were indeed dangerous opponents. Eden would have gladly traded in his Frost Treads for rubber treads while fighting them…


Next up in the long parade of Eden’s enemies: Wyrmics. Two of Eden’s least favourite things – orcs and dragons – brought together in imperfect harmony. The main dangerous thing about fighting wyrmics was unpredictability; some wyrmics are genuinely mighty opponents, wielding forces draconic to deadly effect. Others were just orcs slightly touched in the head who liked dragons a little too much. After a while, Eden had discerned a fairly reliable system for judging wyrmic danger: If they’re wearing fake tails, take it easy.

On approaching the stairs leading to the lowest level of Moria, Eden couldn’t help but notice the heavy, hot and mephitic air that blew upwards from the depths below. Demons in Moria? No…


The long and winding corridors finally coming to an end, Eden now entered a spacious hall, used by the previous dwarven occupants of Moria as a communal meeting hall. A rather different community resided here now, although it was a community Eden now knew all too well – orcs.

Eden pointed wildly, screaming at something over the orcs’ shoulders, “BALROG!”

By the time the orcs realised Eden was lying, they were already dead. “Only in Moria does a trick like that always work,” Eden chuckled, “To be honest, I am pretty surprised that there actually isn’t a balrog here.” It was at this point that a great scorching wind blew through the hall, displacing the many dwarf skeletons that were piled up around its perimeter.

“Perfect,” Eden thought, “I knew there had to be at least one -- brrr!”

Without warning, the scorching wind ceased, only to be replaced by a wind as chilling as those from the Icebay of Forochel. Confused by the dungeon literally ‘blowing hot and cold’, Eden only understood why as the leader of the orcs he had fought stepped into the hall. Eden found himself wishing that he didn’t understand now.

The orc was massive, easily the largest specimen Eden had the misfortune of facing, and the great multitude of scars that marked his flesh were displayed as trophies of the many battles he had endured. Eden noticed – with concern – the many scars on his chest he had received from daggers. If an assault like that wasn’t going to stop him he was in a bit of trouble, he thought. He also saw that said orc was a wyrmic, a skilled and powerful one indeed; one half of his body glowed with heat, licks of flames appearing occasionally, while the other half was frozen, with ice crystals constantly forming and reforming across his skin.

Eden stood uncertainly as the orc approached, mace in hand. The two stood before eachother momentarily, the orc silent, Eden waiting for the inevitable threats and boasting that all orcs employ. To say he was rather surprised when the orc’s mace met with the side of his head is an understatement.

Shaking off the initial blow, Eden and the orc began their fight proper. As it transpired, Eden’s fears were quite genuine; the orc was less than impressed by his knifeplay, and despite his bulk could easily match Eden’s agility. The orc’s minions didn’t help either, for while Eden could handle them easily enough they served their purpose of distracting him from his main foe, which only served to press the orc’s advantage home.

Eventually forced to phase door away to catch a momentary respite, Eden took stock of the situation. It was the fire and the ice he really couldn’t deal with; between this guy and Carn Dûm, Eden was cultivating a rather large rivalry with the elements in general. But that was when it hit him.

“Hey!” Eden shouted from his hiding place, “You… what’s your name?”

“Golbug!” The orc thundered.

“Golbug, hi. Which side of you is fiery again?”

“The left side! Daargh!” Golbug smacked himself in the head with his mace, “What am I doing?! Time to die, wretch!”

It certainly is, thought Eden as he slipped on his rings of fire and ice resistance, making sure to put the ring of fire resistance on his right hand…

With the elements the orc controlled dulled by Eden’s rings, not to mention the forces under his command all falling or fleeing, it wasn’t long before the battle turned in Eden’s favour, culminating in a killing blow straight at Golbug’s heart. The orc staggered, but before he fell he turned and slammed open the pair of wooden doors behind him. Beyond them was a small chamber in which a portal, like the recall portals Eden had seen before but much larger, took pride of place. Taking a large glass orb from his pocket, Golbug’s final action was to roll said orb towards the portal, dropping it as he fell. The orb fell short by a couple of feet.

 Level 29!
 +3 Constitution
 +1 Precision
 +1 Trap Detection

Eden approached the portal, holding up the strange orb. “Interesting trinket,” He thought, “I bet Minas Tirith would love to see this. Suppose I better go show them… at least there’s no chance of me being ambushed by orcs this time, seeing as…” Eden tapped Golbug’s body with his toe, “… you know.”

As Eden made to leave the hall, he almost ran into the courier that was headed in the other direction. Hiding his face, the courier offered a sealed scroll to Eden. “Here.”

Eden unsealed the scroll and read it, “Mmhm… our elders found… yadda yadda… orc hands… hmm… masters in the far east… yadda yadda yadda… should you find this Golbug… please investigate?”

“Investigate?” Eden repeated, “What do they mean by that? I mean, my knives have investigated most of his insides… what do they want me to do now?” Properly noticing the courier for the first time, Eden nodded and reached into his coin pouch, “Sorry, I forgot. How much do I owe ya? Five?”

Crack! Eden was floored by the courier’s kick. Before he could gather his thoughts he could already see that the courier now held a dagger and was ready to strike down at him. Rolling away from the strike, Eden got to his feet and spat, “Geez, okay, ten! What, are you… YOU!”

From beneath the courier’s hat, the face of Novan gave Eden a smile straight from the deepest reaches of the void, “Thought we’d forgotten about you, scum?”

“What are you doing?!” Eden shouted at his former colleague, “What are you doing in that courier get-up? Got a second job? Just being a horrible bastard can’t pay the bills by itself I guess…”

“The courier is dead,” Novan snarled – Eden noticed that the clothes Novan wore were bloodstained, “And you will be too. You took Melna. You took Melna from me!” Novan swung at Eden again, but this time he was ready to dodge.

“What do you care about Melna?” Eden retorted, “If you like mental patients so much, why don’t you go back to the madhouse you got her from and kidnap another?”

Novan had no more words for Eden, simply unsheathing his second dagger and running at him furiously. Eden brought his own daggers up to block, but Novan’s berserker charge was enough to knock him from his feet. Eden disentangled from Novan, who was already bearing down on him again. Bringing up his daggers in preparation for a flurry, Eden was dismayed as Novan effortlessly blocked the attack. “You always were worthless, Eden. I’m just about to show you how worthless!”

Eden knew he was fighting a losing battle. The memories of his losses to Novan while he was in the gang haunted him, and facing him in his present fury seemed a foolish choice. He couldn’t flee, either – Novan blocked the only exit. Or did he? Eden noticed that as their fight neared the portal the orb he had taken from Golbug began to resonate, the swirling mist inside it glowing brightly.

“Where will it take me?” Eden thought, “Does it matter? Any location is better than ‘on the end of this maniac’s knives’. Besides, it’s probably two-way.” Disengaging from Novan again, Eden fled into the portal chamber.

Within seconds his pursuer faced him again. Eden watched Novan pant and seethe from within the portal’s soft light. “Don’t think that fool glyph will save you from me, Eden! Any last words?!”

Eden didn’t have any last words, but he did have a last hand gesture. Suffice to say, it wasn’t a wave. With a pop, he vanished, leaving Novan to stare in horror.

“Coward!” Novan howled at the portal, “Fine! Run! You may be able to save your own hide, but can you say the same of those you care abo…” Novan was so invested in his raving that it took him a while to notice the excruciating pain that had appeared in his back, and was rapidly spreading to his chest.

Looking down, Novan only saw the scythe blade stuck through his chest for a second before it was brought upwards, effectively ripping his torso in two.

Pulling her scythe from Novan’s body, Grim stepped forward and regarded the faintly glowing portal with interest.

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