ToME: the Tales of Maj'Eyal

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 9:15 pm 
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Spiderkin

Joined: Mon Jul 26, 2004 5:20 am
Posts: 480
Location: Blighty
Oh yes. You're in for it now.

    PROLOGUE

“Out, you filching footpad! You backbiting bandit!”

“Hey, wait! Look, I’ve got gold! I’m here to trade -- agh! Careful, I bruise like a peach!”

“OUT!”

Deposited in a heap outside the jeweller’s shop, covered in scratches and welts, Eden silently cursed the youthful exuberance he had displayed in his adolescence. From the first time he managed to smuggle a bottle of slime mold juice from the alchemist’s store he was hooked on the thrill that thievery brought.

Over time, as he aged, he had slowly developed and refined his faculties. He practiced the arts of misdirection and stealth, he began to carry knives with him as a “deterrent” to any would-be heroes. He learnt many skills that a would-be rogue would need, but not the most important one: Don’t steal from your hometown, especially when said hometown’s residents all know your name, face and address. Especially when you’re a rather boastful person who’s prone to bragging while drunk.

In one day, he was an outcast. The jeweller’s store was closed to him, thanks to his magpie-like attraction to shiny objects. He was chased from the alchemist’s store in a hail of broken bottles, exploding gems and golem fists. The scribe’s store had gone out of business even without Eden’s help – one could steal what they wish and simply use one of their pilfered scrolls of teleport to escape. The town’s weaponsmith even said that he “had a mithril mace of massacre just waiting for that toad Eden”.

In truth, he rarely visited the armoury even before his fall from grace; a friend of his at the tavern said that the armourer, Alatariel, was a dark servant of that menacing horror from history Morgoth. Mind you, this was the same friend who claimed she was a necromancer with a ghoulking concierge and had been seen eating the daisies outside her house on more than one occasion.

So, that was it, thought Eden. He’d have no choice but to pack his bags and move to pastures new. He didn’t relish the idea; even for a rogue, the world outside Bree seemed a frightening place. Just last night he had heard about a massacre in a small lumberjack village no short distance from his desired new home, Minas Tirith.

It was at this point that Eden spotted a strange figure stumbling down the street. An adventurer of some sort, clad head to toe in beaten and dented plate armour with a notched longsword by his side. The figure weaved, staggered, and eventually keeled over, lying perfectly still where he fell.

Eden approached the fallen warrior. He couldn’t help but notice the leaves and large splinters that dotted the crevices in his armour. “Are you well?” Eden asked slowly. He wasn’t going to loot someone’s armour unless they were completely out of it, after all.

With a great creaking sound the figure sat up. He removed his helmet; the face underneath looked like it had been stuck on the underside of a boot for a month. “That… that trunk!” He gibbered.

“Excuse me?”

“The trunk!” The warrior repeated. He retched momentarily, eventually coughing up an acorn, “You just can’t get away from it. He weaves it right, he weaves it left, then WHAM! I can’t handle it, I can’t handle it. He’s too much!”

“Who? Who’s too much?”

“Bill!” The warrior yelled. Bill? He thought that old sack of stony muscle had given out ages ago, but evidently he was still active enough to dole out arboreal punishment to anyone who came too close to his lair. Eden had thought that there was a rogue Ent about, what with all the stories of people being found dead with great stump-marks covering their bodies.

Maybe this was just the break he needed.

    TROLLSHAWS 1

Eden was feeling confident as he approached the Trollshaws. His mighty Bree powers had given him access to the school of field control, and by luck the leather armour he had appropriated for himself was rather… nature-resistant. “You hear that, nature? I resist you!”

Then he met a wolf.

“OHGODOHGODOHGODHELPHELPHELP BAARGH I CAN’T HIT IT I CAN’T HIT IT HEEEEELP!!!”

By the time the wolf fell Eden was on the verge of doing the same. His acrobatic, almost theatrical stabbing manoeuvre, a move he had coined as “the dual strike” (that he hoped would become his signature move) had sailed a clean foot over the wolf’s head. All that time practising on scarecrows was a waste, he grumbled to himself, animals can move. On spying a grey mold, quietly festering to itself on the bark of a tree, he chuckled, “Well, maybe not a total waste.”

Continuing through the undergrowth, a few belligerent worms and rats being his only obstacles, Eden felt his heart beat a little faster as he spotted it. A forest troll, sat picking its teeth under the shade of a large tree. On spotting Eden is heaved itself onto its misshapen feet, gave the formal trollish challenge of “URRRGHAAAH!” and lumbered towards him, club raised.

“Trolls. Trolls are dangerous,” Eden muttered rapidly, “Got to be focussed. No mistakes. One mistake and you’re dead. One mistake and -- gaah!”

“STUPID VINE!”

Crack! Eden slithered to the ground as a club connected with his skull. His mind still alert (but mostly scrambled) Eden leapt to his feet, both knives aimed at the troll’s heart. “Craven spawn of evil!” He declared, revelling in the melodrama, “Take this! Dual strike!” and, with an acrobatic spin, plunged both his daggers into the troll’s carbuncled hide.

Crack! The troll’s club hit him again.

Fleeing through the woods moments later, Eden thought to himself, “Shouldn’t it have been dazzled by my amazing combat techniques just now?” Eden was dazzled, that much was certain; the combination of troll concussion and poison from the vine was making strange lights and shadows dance before his eyes. With hesitation, he finally took one of his healing potions, one of his last successful thefts from Bree, and uncorked it…

“You know,” Thought Eden, toeing the troll’s knife-ravaged body, “Just once I’d like to be able to beat something without being pumped up on whatever mad reagents these potions have in them. Hey ho.”

    Level 2! +3 Dexterity, +1 Weapon Combat, +1 Dual Weapon Training

“… is a gorgeous glade, but I could swear that looked like part of a human femur.”

“Yeah,” Eden said sardonically, “What could be dangerous in a place like the Trollshaws?! Operative word: Troll!”

Wandering between the trees, Eden smiled inwardly as he noticed a large pond a distance away. The amount of drowned trolls bobbing around in it was always a comfort to him, plus it would give him a chance to wash some of the yuck off his daggers.

His drinking friend from the tavern, the one who believed Alatariel to be the very spawn of evil, had some funny ideas regarding the Trollshaw’s ponds. “Y’see,” She’d say, “Isn’t it funny that they’re always at the bottom-right? I think it’s because all the trolls, like, sit in one place so the ground kinda sinks down there.”

“… Bottom-right from what?” Eden would always reply, to which she’d shrug.

    TROLLSHAWS 2

    Level 3! +3 Dexterity, +1 Knife Mastery, +1 Dual Weapon Training

Eden frowned. There was a suspicious copse of trees in the distance, their leaves unnaturally dark and pendulous. He heard the telltale rattle of bones, he sensed strange magical energies in the air, and he could distantly sense the cries of an unseen chorus complaining about the power of skeleton mage manathrusts, and they’ve beaten [insert roguelike here] so they can’t be wrong, the game must be!



Anyway, it was obviously a skeleton mage hideout. After all, some undead minions must commute; they can’t all live in their dark towers. Biting his lip, Eden snuck away as best he could. There’s not much point putting a knife in someone’s ribcage if the ribcage is all that’s there, after all.

A huge, shadowy figure loomed ahead, and Eden felt his pulse quicken once again. Shadow trolls were dangerous even by troll standards. Coming to the decision that he should strike as hard and as fast as he could, exploiting the troll’s deficit of agility, Eden leapt at his monstrous opponent, knives bared and screaming…

The troll fell immediately. Eden was obviously pleased, but also rather baffled. On closer inspection, he could see that the troll’s dark colouration wasn’t just thanks to its shadowy nature – it was sick. Eden shuddered; just what was that green ooze he had beaten moments previously? With a quick detour back to the pond he had found to wash off his knives, and mentally blocking the knowledge that he may have just “attacked” a pile of half-digested dwarf bits, Eden squared his shoulders and continued onwards.

“11th of Yestarë. Saw an absolutely gigantic troll, but fortunately I threw him off my scent.”

“No! A gigantic troll?! That’s insane! 16th of whatever! I just saw a skeleton… MADE OF BONES!” Eden chuckled. It was much easier making fun of tattered pieces of paper than of people. He hoped he’d meet the writer of these diary pages though; club-shields are always handy.

“Hmm, this shadow troll is NOT sick.” Eden thought to himself, spying a figure a distance away. The troll was acting most strangely; it seemed to be capering around on the spot, giving off bizarre trollish giggles, lumpy flecks of drool flying from its jaws as it span and bobbed. Then Eden saw the ridiculously bright and cheerful yellow boots it was wearing.

“Heehee! Nobuddy catch Grunkthob! Grunkthob is da master! Grunkthob is good an’ heavy and his feet are… huh?” The troll had spotted him. Immediately ending its capering and hefting up its club, the troll charged at him, his boots producing a comical squeaking, bellowing “GRUNKTHOB BEAT YOU! GRUNKTHOB IS ERU MAYBE!”

“What a character,” Eden thought minutes later, tugging on the yellow boots, “If that ring from Sauron’s age was still around, this is the guy I’d give it to.”

In a different location, at a different time, in another plane of existence, a powerful and inscrutable entity grumbled to itself.
“An artifact on level two of the Trollshaws, in a self-imposed challenge game? … This death shall be exquisite.”


Last edited by Burb Lulls on Fri Oct 29, 2010 8:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 9:35 pm 
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Reaper

Joined: Wed Dec 12, 2007 12:21 am
Posts: 2257
Location: New Zealand
Me like!

More, more!

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Jon.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 10:29 pm 
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Master of Eyal

Joined: Wed Jul 24, 2002 9:26 pm
Posts: 10492
Location: Angolwen
More more !

The first DitL for T4 !! Joy !

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[tome] joylove: You can't just release an expansion like one would release a Kraken XD
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[tome] phantomfrettchen: your ability not to tease anyone is simply stunning ;)


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 11:09 pm 
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Halfling

Joined: Sun Apr 23, 2006 7:17 pm
Posts: 106
Well done, I love reading the ToME stories!


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 11:38 pm 
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Spiderkin

Joined: Mon Jul 26, 2004 5:20 am
Posts: 480
Location: Blighty
Fun fact: The lore, “… is a gorgeous glade, but I could swear that looked like part of a human femur.” I've been misreading it all this time! I always thought it said, “… is a gorgeous blade, but I could swear that it looked like part of a human femur.” I thought that some fun new bonesword artifact had been added to the Trollshaws. Anyway...

    TROLLSHAWS 3

"Ho! Friend, some assistance!"

Turning around, Eden saw that he was being called to by a lost fighter. "What happened to you?" Eden asked, "You look like you've been headbutted by Tulkas."

"Ah! If only! I go by the name of Grinymnir, and I am afraid I will have to ask for your aid! You see, I was patrolling these woods, making safe paths which had moments hence been overrun by all manner of beast and horror. Mountains of trolls lay dead at my feet, and my blade did taste the flesh of countless beasts!"

Golly, this guy's florid, Eden thought to himself.

"But alas, I now find myself brought low. I did encounter a foe beyond my ken, an all-encompassing terror that would make your blood run cold."

"Bill?"

"Ha! That milksop?"

"Rungof?"

"That wastrel pup?!"

"Then what?!"

"Bees." On noticing Eden's stare, Grinymnir added, "They sting really hard!"

"Still," He continued, "Might I ask your assistance? Could you escort me to my recall portal? It is but a short distance from here."

Eden frowned, "Hold on, wasn't word of recall banned after that guy with the plague recalled himself into Arwen's bedchamber?" The warrior stammered and coughed theatrically, eventually managing, "Ah! Er-hum! I mean... my... jumpgate? Yes. I'm one of those... anorithil fellows."

"What's an anorithil?"

"Don't worry, they've been unlocked."

"Ah, THOSE anorithils. Okay then, let's go. By the way, what do you think of my boots?"

And so the pair made their way through the Trollshaws. Eden soon found that Grinymnir was not an easy individual to guard - his recent punishment at the hands... stingers... of the bees had robbed him of what little sense of direction he had, yet he retained his Quixote-like impulse to charge towards anything dangerous looking. This impulse came to a head as the pair both ran (simultaneously) into the chest of a particularly large and nasty troll.

"A foe!" Grinymnir thundered, his eyes not focussing, "At last! Taste my blade, villain!"

"Hey, wait! Wait...!"

"HAAH!"


Image

"... What?!" Eden was as stunned as the troll was. Why didn't his dual strikes do that?! He would've been more happy if that troll had just thumped him out of his boots, Eden grumpily thought. Still, he knew an opening when he saw one; when he was done with the troll, it had a LOT of openings.

    Level 4! +3 Constitution, +1 Disengage, +1 Dual Weapon Training

"Hohoho!" Grinymnir gave a roaring laugh, "The rapscallion couldn't hope to match my strength! Good work, my boy!" He gave Eden a hard clap on the back, causing him to stumble, "You make a fine sidekick, lad!"

"How's about this for a sidekick..." Eden grumbled, shortly before noticing something behind Grinymnir. "Oh... my..."


Image

A shadow troll, bigger and nastier than the troll just defeated, stood with its club ready. Behind it, wolves from a nearby pack had approached, drawn by the noise of combat (and Grinymnir's gasconade) and were now snarling, fangs bared. Though not as readily apparent, Eden also noticed a serpentine form slither through the grass, its copper head advertising its deadly poison. Even a rat had shown up.

"Ha! So more foes wish to taste Grinymnir's wrath! Come, Eden, my faithful companion! Soon, our vestments shall be wrought of troll leather, our boots plush with wolf hide! We could maybe use the snake as a belt, and... Eden? ... Eden?"

    TROLLSHAWS 2

Eden hunched against an old oak tree, panting from his frenetic sprint. Looking downwards, he patted his new yellow boots affectionately; they might look silly, but they can really get you moving! At this point, he mused, he would normally swing by the Bree scribe's store to get them identified, but that course of action was obviously impossible now. He'd have to think of his own name for the boots! "I think I'll call 'em... Eden's Valour!"

The sounds of Grinymnir screaming as he was torn apart like soft bread echoed through the woods.

"... Eden's Guile maybe."

Eden was at an impasse. He hoped to travel further into the Trollshaws, but now a veritable wall of troll flesh, wolf fangs, snake poison and rat nibbling blocked him, and he knew that the chances of besting those odds were grim, especially if he got poisoned - he had his superstition about not leaving one "section" of the world for another while poisoned, after all.

Eventually, he decided he'd do what he'd always do when he couldn't make up his mind over something.

    BREE

"The tavern's shut down?!" Eden howled, falling to his knees with horror.

"Yeah..." Sighed Grim, Alatariel's nemesis, "It's ever since those Angolwen boffins worked out that spell that makes it so you never have to eat or drink." She smiled, "Pretty nifty though, isn't it?"

"I don't drink to sustain myself!" Eden snapped, "I drink when I need to think of something! Not to mention to block out that Grinymnir's screams. The Trollshaws were a bust. All I got out of it were these boots. Eden's Guile, they're called."

Grim grinned, "Cute." Eden sighed - he had forgotten about them being bright yellow and covered with ribbons. Grim continued, "Aren't you going to comment on MY find?"

"Whoa!" Grim had produced, out of nowhere, a flawless masterwork longsword. "That's some blade!" Eden exhaled, "Where'd you get it?"

"Some butterfingers dropped it in the Old Forest," Grim shrugged, "A fighter I found said he'd give me "skill points" if I gave it back. What are skill points?"

"You were in the Old Forest?" Eden asked, ignoring Grim's attempt at a fourth-wall joke, "Isn't that place a little dangerous? You could've been killed."

"Dangerous? Pshaw! No more dangerous than where you were mucking around. Besides, you have to be ALIVE to die... heeheehee... Eden?"

Eden was already running for Bree's border in the direction of the Old Forest, "Yeah yeah! You're a necromancer! Whatever, bye!"

    OLD FOREST 1

As Eden began his expedition in the Old Forest, it appeared that Grim's appraisal of the Old Forest was correct. Instead of trolls, Eden now found himself accosted by bees and ants. "Battles against insects," Eden thought happily to himself, "Now THIS is adventuring I can get used to."

That was when Eden saw him. An orc. He had only even seen orcs in books, and he beleived they had been banished from Middle-Earth for good. To say the scene was unreal was an understatement, especially when he saw what the orc was busy doing... petting a cute little bunny. Even though Eden fiercely stuffed the collar of his leather armour into his mouth to muffle his cackling laughter, the orc nevertheless heard and slowly turned its warty, scabrous face to glare at him.

"... You mock Bubhosh?" The orc's voice was low and dangerous.

"No! No...! Mmph...!"

"If you mock Bubhosh, Bubhosh will kill you."

"Oh, really?" Eden's ego and confidence in his fighting ability was bolstered by his recent victories over trolls in the Trollshaws, "Do you think you're capable of beating me, Bubhosh?"

The orc's glare burned holes through Eden's skull, "... I am not Bubhosh. THIS is Bubhosh."

"What?!"

"Bubhosh, attack!"

"WAAAARGH!"


Image

Will Eden fall to a vicious Monty Python joke?
Will people overlook the fact I've obviously gone to the Old Forest for more levelling?
Will Grim ever let her feud with Alatariel just drop already?
Will the fact I can't use shops ever factor into the story at all?!

Stay tuned to find out!


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 19, 2010 10:15 pm 
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Spiderkin

Joined: Mon Jul 26, 2004 5:20 am
Posts: 480
Location: Blighty
“What I require, I feel, is a way to disengage myself from this battle. This battle I find myself engaged in. So I am no long engaged but rather… DISengaged…” Eden mulled over this conundrum as he held off Bubhosh’s furious incisors.

Then it hit him. Disengage! Rather more ambigious than “run like a coward, possibly leaving an injured man to die” but he rather liked his name for it. Summoning up the alacrity from his boots, Eden’s Guile, Eden fled with the speed only those with an overdeveloped sense of self-preservation can. In fact, he never stopped running until he was safely back in his own home, in Bree.

    OLD FOREST 1 (TAKE 2)

The next day, Eden once again made his way into the Old Forest, not just to get into the Bree populace’s good books anymore, but also to prove to himself that he wasn’t a gutless wretch who ran screaming from a rabbit.

Luckily, it seemed that both the orc and Bubhosh were no longer present in the forest. The fact that he had seen an orc still had Eden rattled. He briefly entertained notions of travelling to Minas Tirith to deliver this news – they would likely find it deeply alarming. However, presently he could return to an activity he was much more at ease with: Menacing small woodland creatures, insects, and inanimate plants.

    Level 5! +1 Strength, +2 Dexterity, +1 Dual Weapon Defence, +1 Flurry

Eden’s recent adventuring had revealed to him a new and devastatingly effective tactic: Run at your foes, and stab them a lot. No opponent would stand against his labyrinthine, diabolical, Machiavellian “flurry” strategy!

This strategy would soon find itself tested, as Eden did spy a large white snake slither between the forest’s trees, looking for something to get its unhinged jaws around. Eden dispatched it with ease, but just as he was thinking of a good one-liner to deliver to the snake’s carcass (“slither back to where you came from, you hissing… cold-blooded… thing?”) he noticed another snake, this one brown. Rather more agile than the white snake, this serpent managed to sink its fangs into Eden’s arm before his daggers found their mark. As Eden was nursing his wounds – fortunately the snake hadn’t been poisonous – another snake approached. And another. And another.

Although Eden fought his way through the tangled mess of snakes as best he could, his whirling knives creating enough snake skin and meat to give every citizen of Bree a solid meal and some stylish footwear to boot, the hissing horde before him did not diminish. If anything, it seemed to grow. Eden knew it was only a matter of time before…

Snap! A copperhead snake had gotten a lucky bite on Eden’s leg, and from the painful burning sensation that spread from the wound, he knew he had been poisoned. Sensing his vitality fading, Eden began to backpeddle from the serpentine army, still hissing and snapping their fangs at him, but as he neared the boundary of the Old Forest, his steps faltered. His superstition.

“Can’t… leave… forest… while… poisoned…! Bad… karma…!”

Hopping nervously from foot to foot, Eden could only watch as a tidal wave of snakes surged towards him, hoping against hope that the poison in his blood would abate in time. “Feel pretty poisoned…” Eden mumbled, “Kind of poisoned… a little poisoned… just a little poisoned… clean! RUN!”

    OLD FOREST 1 (TAKE 3)

“Finally!”

Eden worked his way past the sheer wall of dead snakes that blocked the forest’s path, picked a few broken fangs out of his flesh, and continued on. On immediately running into a brown bear, hungry and vicious, Eden laughed with joy, “Yes! A non-snake! Oh, look at the size of it. I can swing my knives anywhere and they’ll hit you! Bliss!” Leaving the bear soundly manhandled (knifehandled) Eden progressed through the forest, a spring in his step.

“Oh great. A shield.” Eden’s mood darkened as he noticed an old iron shield, probably left by some unfortunate adventurer. He hated shields. Out of all the things he had to haul back to Bree to sell for cash, they were the heaviest and most cumbersome. Well, apart from full suits of armour, but you’d have to be terminally broken to trade in them. Then Eden realised: He couldn’t trade in them. He could leave it there. With the trumpets of the Valar blazing odes of joy in his head, Eden strode past the shield.

    Level 6! +3 Dexterity, +1 Dual Weapon Defence, +1 Weapon Combat

Finally, on approaching one of the forest’s staircases (a previous mayor of Bree felt that building small staircases on certain slopes of the Old Forest would make travel into it more bearable, breaking journeys into “levels” as it were) Eden found himself, with absolutely no prior warning, under attack by an insane, diseased vagrant. His assailant wheezed and gibbered, clawing at Eden’s face, only stopping as he felt a pair of daggers cut him from neck to navel.

“Panhandlers!” Eden growled, “When I say I haven’t got anything to give you, I mean it! But…” Eden’s eyes alighted on a strange copper amulet around the body’s neck, “It looks like YOU have something to give ME. If you can afford jewellery, you can afford to stop begging. It’s just common decency.”

Leaving the corpse of his attacker, his newly acquired amulet hanging around his neck, Eden failed to notice that the advanced level of rot and decay in the body’s flesh was from no crippling disease. It appeared that the corpse had been a corpse for quite some time…

    Level 7! +3 Strength, +1 Dual Weapon Defence, +1 Knife Mastery

    OLD FOREST 2

“Well, look at this…” Thought Eden, picking up an old wizard’s hat, “Looks like a little spellweaver strayed a little too far from Angolwen, eh?” Eden looked upwards, considering his currently unprotected head. Sure, an effete, pointy bit of cloth wasn’t going to stop many fangs or blades, and he’d look silly, but it was better than nothing. Besides, Eden’s Guile made him look silly already. “Look at me! I’m an archmage! Manathrust! Manathrust! Sense! Phase door an’ stuff!”

    OLD FOREST 3

Eden regarded the new steel ring adorning his finger with satisfaction, “Rakish!” With his yellow boots, ostentatious jewellery and his wizard’s hat flopping around on his head, he couldn’t help but feel a little silly. Still, he pondered, I suppose you can wear whatever you want out in the wilds. It might even help with thievery – nobody ever suspects the deranged-looking fashionista, after all.

“Awful lot of beasties in this Old Forest. I didn’t think Old Man Willow liked us flesh-types in general.”

    Level 8! +3 Strength, +1 Dual Weapon Defence, +1 Heavy Armour Training

With his fingers newly fortified by his heavy armour prowess, Eden tugged on his iron gauntlets with pride. “So now I can’t handle things properly, and all my important bits are still as unprotected as before! I’m a rogue MASTER!”

    OLD FOREST 4

“Are those… dragons?!”

They were dragons. Young though they were, what was unmistakably four white dragons waddled towards Eden, gouts of frosts shooting from their nostrils. Eden hesitated; though he had fought many powerful creatures recently, trolls, bears, wolves, he hadn’t yet faced anything he would call mythological. Well, apart from the orc and his rabbit. Eden choked: HE RAN FROM A RABBIT. “How am I gonna deal with this?!” He wailed, and as one of the dragons bore down on him, he instinctively swung a dagger out at it.

“Gaak!” Eden wasn’t ready for the sensation he felt as his knife met dragonhide. It was as if the rime of frost that coated the hatchling had travelled up his blade and into his arm. Regardless, he saw that his strike had an impact, as a rivulet of blood leaked from between the dragon’s scales. Swapping to his other arm (shaking his frozen one to warm it up) Eden brought one of his knives down again.

“So, I’m a dragonslayer now.” Eden said to himself out loud. Clucking his lips for a moment, he added, “I thought I’d become more impressive by saying that, like a noble steed would show up out of nowhere with a suit of shining armour for me.” Sadly, Eden still felt like Eden, the Bree rogue outcast. But just wait until he strides back into Bree, he imagined, a picture of manliness, the princess Old Man Willow had kidnapped wrapped around him (he kidnapped a princess, right?), throwing the monstrous tree’s head… stump… at the townspeople’s feet.

They’ll BEG him to steal from them!


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 21, 2010 2:36 am 
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Spiderkin

Joined: Mon Jul 26, 2004 5:20 am
Posts: 480
Location: Blighty
    OLD FOREST 4

? Tum-te-tum… ?

    Level 9! +3 Dexterity, +1 Weapon Combat, +1 Dual Weapon Defence

    OLD FOREST 5

? Tum-te-tum… ? Eech, those rattlesnakes can bite!” Eden’s thoughts turned to his satchel; he had a fair few potions and scrolls now, but had little idea of what they did. Sensing the rising danger of the forest, and knowing that his provisions would help him little just gathering mildew in his pack, he decided to perform an impromptu “taste test”. An adventurer would’ve been mad to do this in ages past, but since the great hunts at the end of the Third Era – which had culminated in the mass executions of those jerk wizards that cursed stuff and bottled whatever nasty things they could find just to scatter around the wilderness – it had become a far safer activity.

Glug-glug-glug…
Eden felt a buzz similar to eating an entire bag of sugar. “Restore mana.”

Glug-glug-glug…
“Pfagh! Slime mold juice!” He couldn’t believe he liked this stuff in his youth; it was like drinking a bottle of toejam.

“Hmm…”
Eden instinctively closed his eyes as a huge burst of light illuminated the grove he stood in. “Scroll of light.”

“Hmm…”
Eden rubbed his head as knowledge of his immediate surroundings came unbidden into his brain. “Magic mapping.” The knowledge that behind the trees surrounding him were more trees wasn’t exactly a shock.

“And finally…”
All of a sudden, Eden found himself hanging upside down from a tree branch, the remaining contents of his pack falling to the forest floor. “… Phase door.”

    OLD FOREST 6

    Level 10! +3 Constitution, +2 Flurry

The knowledge that he had the aptitude to learn a new school of skills, or improve an old one, surfaced in Eden’s brain. He grumpily stuffed it back down again; he didn’t feel like thinking yet.

“By Melkor’s goatee! Those bees CAN sting!” Maybe Grinymnir’s fear wasn’t completely groundless; a hummerhorn the size of a small cat had tore through the undergrowth without warning and deposited Eden at the base of a tree stump. The fact said stump belonged to an angry huorn didn’t help matters. Luckily, the huorn was old as well as angry, allowing Eden to splinter its ancient wood with his daggers easily.

“Crazy tree.” Eden grumbled. Before continuing on his way however, he spotted a telltale glimmer of steel protruding from a nearby bush.

“What’s YOUR name, little one?” Eden purred as he held up the steel dagger. “Doesn’t matter!” He added, overlapping the dagger’s imagined response, “Your new name is… Little Eden.” He looked sideways at the old iron dagger in his offhand, “YOU don’t get a name, you rusted piece of junk.”

Quite unexpectedly, through the mass of trees before him, Eden spyed something that wasn’t further masses of trees. It was a fort! Gazing at the crude stonework and the primitive symbols and markings that were daubed on it walls, Eden could only guess that it belonged to trolls. The fact that there was a troll sat outside, idly splashing its feet in the moat, helped as well. Sneaking between the trees adajacent to the fort, Eden was all but ready to introduce the troll to his new, sharp friend, but he never got the chance.

Pushing aside the trees that impeded its progress, the ground quaking with each of its footfalls, a giant figure thundered towards the fort. Clad in massive armour of leather and fur, its skin so pale as to be almost white, and with a beard to rival even the most dwarf-like dwarf, it was one of the frost giants of Carn Dum! Eden thought to himself in a panic why a frost giant would be so far from its home, but then he realised. There’s only one reason why frost giants are ANYWHERE – to smash things smaller than themselves. And that included the troll.

It was a strange spectacle, seeing an ugly lump of muscle like a troll being so soundly manhandled, and Eden could only watch with fascination as the giant grabbed the troll by its head, smacked it against the fort’s walls a few times, before hurling its broken body into the moat with a humungous splash.

There are many ways you can react to such a scene. You can slowly back away, hoping not to be seen. You could scream and run. You could even just stand there, totally petrified. All Eden knew was that the one thing you should NOT do is sneeze.

“Mr. Frost Giant!” Eden nervously stammered through a grin as his oversized opponent approached him, “Excellent work, dealing with that nasty troll! We could make a good team, couldn’t we? … Couldn’t we?”

The giant had stopped, simply staring at Eden. That didn’t just work, Eden thought to himself in disbelief, I did not just convince a frost giant into teaming up with me. Then he saw the giant slowly raise a finger to its head, and Eden felt his mind grow hazy…

“Thought not,” Thought Eden as he was sent spiralling through the forest from the giant’s strike.

Although it took a considerable while, and Eden took more than his fair share of bruises, the hulking form of the frost giant eventually fell under Eden’s relentless stabbing at his shins. Exhausted, Eden staggered a few paces before collapsing in a sun-lit clearing. The fight had almost frozen him to the bone; it appeared that the giant had the same cold-inducing qualities as the dragon hatchlings had.

Fortunately, this battle did have one positive effect: It put things into perspective.

“Ugh?!” The troll inside the fort’s antechamber grunted, “HUMAN! BASHLOB CRUSH PUNY HUM—AAAARRGH!”

“Whatever,” Eden growled moments later, rooting through a pile of potions, a heap of troll corpses behind him, “I’ve got grown-up problems now.”

    Level 11! +3 Dexterity, +1 Flurry, +1 Knife Mastery

    OLD FOREST 7

He was in the centre of the Old Forest, and he knew that he had gained the attention of Old Man Willow. Even with trolls, huorns, dragons and a frost giant behind him, Eden wasn’t quite ready to believe his own hype just yet. He took careful steps, anxiously watching the trees that surrounded him on all sides. You never knew when one was going to suddenly move and –

“Hi!”

“WAAAARGH!”

“Careful! Careful!” The elven woman that had approached Eden had to grip his wrist to stop his mad stabbing at the air, “I’m not an enemy!”

“Not an enemy?” Eden gasped, gathering himself, “Then what are you?”

“My name is Beturin. I am an anorithil.” Judging from her garb, not to mention the strange, fluctuating aura that surrounded her, Eden was inclined to believe her, “Could I ask for your assistance? You see, I have a jumpgate set up close by, and I was hoping that you could –”

“Escort you there, because you’re injured?” Eden interrupted smoothly, “Yeah, I could. I am familiar with being the hero, after all…” He smugly checked his nails; Grinymnir’s screaming surfaced in his mind for a moment, but he quickly blocked it out.

“Actually,” Beturin huffed, “I was just about ready to head back to gate anyway. YOU injured me,” Eden looked down at Beturin’s robes, where an obvious bloodstain was growing. It looked like his mad stabbing had accidentally found a mark. He offered a mumbled and awkward apology.

“Okay,” Eden continued, “We better get going. Stay behind me, okay?”

“Okay.”

“… You’re actually going to?”

“Of course. I’m wounded.”

“… I like you already,” Eden grinned, “Let’s move, we just better not run into – eep!”

An ancient grey willow tree, ruler of the Old Forest. Despiser of trespassers in his territory. Old Man Willow was already angry with all the rats, ants, bees, orcs, bears, rabbits, trolls, frost giants, dragons, wolves and foxes intruding upon his domain, but the pair of adventurers he had just spied took the cake. Effortlessly uprooting himself from the ground (an ability not used in LoTR, but AN ABILITY HE HAS) the humungous tree creaked towards Eden and Beturin.

“Do you have a plan?” Beturin whispered to Eden.

“I do,” Eden nodded, “But I’d rather not go into it. It is a gargantuan, impenetrable thing. A grand scheme the likes of which Arda had never known. The works of Sauron are but child’s play in comparison. Morgoth’s dark designs, footling fancies. This great, dark, cosmic conundrum that --”

“WHAT IS THE PLAN?!”

“… FLURRYFLURRYFLURRYFLURRYFLURRYFLURRY”



“I admit, I was rather sceptical about your plan Eden, but…” Beturin and Eden shared a grin, sat around a merrily burning pile of distinctive grey wood, “… The end justifies the means, eh?”

Moments later...

“Well, there it is,” Beturin sighed happily as a faintly glowing oval, etched into stone, appeared at the end of the path they walked along, “Thanks for escorting me.”

“Don’t mention it, and sorry about the whole… stabbing you… thing.”

“Well, that can’t be helped now. Perhaps I should teach you one of my hymns, the Hymn of Perseverance. It could help you with your stabbing-anything-that-tries-to-talk-to-you problem.”

“You stayed behind me when I said to, you fought alongside me against Old Man Willow, you’ve freely given me a secret power of your people, and you’ve also given me an AWESOME DARK AURA. … I think we have to get married, Beturin.”

Beturin had already vanished. Eden tapped on the recall portal ineffectually, but it had already been magically locked from the other side. “So it goes,” He shrugged.

    Level 12! +3 Dexterity, +1 Flurry, +1 Weapon Combat

    Level 13! +3 Dexterity, +1 Dual Strike, +1 Knife Mastery

    ROAD TO BREE

Eden skipped along, in high spirits. His trip to the Old Forest couldn’t have gone better: He had a shiny new pair of daggers, he had defeated opponents he wouldn’t have dreamed of fighting days previously, he was moments away from a hero’s welcome in Bree, and if he ever wound up wherever anortihils came from, he’d have a guaranteed place to mooch from!

It was at this moment that Eden became aware of a distant voice. It was strange, it almost sounded as if it was coming from underground. He could clearly make out what it was saying though. “Help.”

Normally, Eden would have just chuckled maliciously and continued on, in even higher spirits if anything, but he was still coming off the high from saving Beturin in the Old Forest, and with his triumphant return to Bree approaching he was feeling rather heroic. A cursory inspection of the area soon revealed a trap door; unsheathing his knives, Eden opened the hatch and leapt into the darkness.

He had landed in a strange underground complex, only dimly lit by a few torches bolted to the walls. Eden looked around, and noticed that figures were approaching him. Judging from their knives, and the angered shouting coming from further down the corridors, he guessed they weren’t the ones who needed help. As the figures stepped into the light from his lantern, Eden gasped.

His old gang had found him.


Last edited by Burb Lulls on Sat Oct 30, 2010 7:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2010 11:12 am 
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Spiderkin

Joined: Mon Jul 26, 2004 5:20 am
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Location: Blighty
    UNKNOWN TUNNELS 1

Just as fighters commonly become members of a guild, rogues usually find their way into gangs. Why Eden had wanted to join this gang escaped him. All it seemed to consist of was a humiliating and painful hazing, followed by a brief and violent meeting with the gang’s boss, a truly sinister individual who had but one snarled instruction for him: “Bring me gold and valuables and you won’t get a knife in the clavicle.” On asking timidly what his share of the loot would be, Eden received a knife in the clavicle. Luckily, this was before the alchemist’s store had banned him, and a week of bedrest and intensive potion-chugging had him back on his feet.

He realised, rather too late, that the gang wasn’t for him. He didn’t have the ability to gather enough gold for himself at the best of times, let alone enough to please his “friends”. So eventually, Eden turned to an aspect of the rogue that he was good at: Hiding. Roughly five years had passed since his flight from the gang, and as his old colleagues now told him, he owed them roughly two million gold pieces of plunder, or one life – his pick.

“What’s it gonna be?” Sneered one of the rogues, running a finger along his dagger menacingly. Novan was his name, Eden remembered. As he recalled, he was the one who stamped on his throat during his hazing and called him a “useless, insignificant piece of sputum who didn’t deserve to live”. Eden always considered him one of his best friends in the gang.

“C’mon! Lemme cut ‘im! Lemme cut ‘im!” Giggled another rogue, Melna, deliriously. Eden always thought that she was an inmate from the nearby sanatorium that the gang had freed, and her behaviour didn’t exactly impugn these claims, “Hehehaha! I-I-I like the way the blood comes out of ‘em…”

“Fellows, fellows!” Eden soothed, attempting to cover his obvious fright, “Surely there’s a reasonable resolution to this problem! After all, I…” He stopped. Looking downwards, he spied his yellow boots, which seemed to squeak in response. He had an idea. Looking up again, he continued with greater confidence, “See these boots? Got ‘em just for the gang. Enchanted. Definitely artefact-level.”

This had the effect Eden intended, as the rogues surrounding him lowered their knives. Crouching down to Eden’s feet, Novan pulled a scroll of identify from his belt and read it quietly to himself. “Boots of Tom Bombadil, eh?” He mumbled, “Interesting…”

Eden’s Guile, Eden thought huffily to himself.

“Looks like your holiday wasn’t a total loss for us,” Novan grinned, “I think the boss might want to hear about this.”

“What?! No!” Melna wailed, “Lemme cut ‘im! Lemme cut ‘im!”

Novan grumbled, massaging his temples, “Boys, take that mad woman back to her quarters before she gives me a migraine! Steal a cow for her to stab or something. As for you…” Novan returned his attention to Eden, who watched him warily, “You sure these boots are genuine? Lots of fakes around, boy…”

“Of course they’re genuine! Why don’t you have a closer look?

    UNKNOWN TUNNELS 2

“GET HIM! CUT HIM UP! DON’T LET HIM ESCAPE!”

Eden leapt down a second trap door, slamming it behind him and blocking out the roars of the furious horde of rogues that were in hot pursuit. He had proved his old maxim true once again: Before you live for the next year, you have to live for the next ten seconds, so concentrate on that first. Of course, he hoped that he could continue to prove it true…

“Ahh, the intruder at last… And what shall we do with you? Why did you kill my men?”

Eden whirled around on the spot to see, with sudden horror, his old boss stood before him, the Assassin Lord. It was a title he held with no small amount of pride; after all, assassins aren’t known for their love of hierarchy, commonly silencing those in power rather than bowing to them. He was obviously a man of great skill, but he didn’t seem to be a man of great memory: He had forgotten who Eden was.

Eden decided to try and play it fast and loose, “I heard some cries, and your men… they were in my way. What’s going on here?” Eden rubbed his head in theatrical confusion. Pretending to be a gormless villager rather than a rogue outcast was a small improvement, but an improvement nonetheless.

The Assassin Lord rolled his eyes, “Oh, so this is the part where I tell you my plan before you attack me?” His voice rose to a cruel shriek, “GET THIS INTRUDER!”

“Wait!” Eden yelped, “Maybe we could work out some kind of arrangement; you seem to be a practical man.”

“Manwe’s teeth,” thought Eden in his head, “I have no idea where I’m going with this!”

The Assassin Lord perused Eden intently for a moment, before finally making a hesitant grunt of satisfaction, “Well, I need somebody to replace the men you killed. You look sturdy; maybe you could…”

“Please save me!” Came a shrieking voice from the Assassin Lord’s side. Unbeknownst to Eden, a ragged and petrified-looking merchant had been present for his entire conversation. Ironic, he thought, the merchant being the only one I didn’t notice in a nest full of thieves and assassins. Still, it did give him an opportunity…

“Shut up!” The Assassin Lord struck the lost merchant around the face, silencing him. Turning back to the empty space where Eden had stood, he continued, “Maybe you could work for me. You will have to do some dirty work for me, though, and… huh?”

“FLURRYFLURRYFLURRYFLURRYFLURRYFLURRY”

    ROAD TO BREE

“Yeah,” Eden said to the merchant as they both emerged from the trapdoor, back into the light of day, “Shrieking-cowardly-madman-who-essentially-sissy-fights-with-knives might be a more accurate class name for me, but I think rogue carries more… presence, don’t you agree?”

The merchant was silent, his complexion almost white, except for the speckles of blood that dotted his face. Eden noticed this, and grimaced: Only fellow adventurers had seen his flurries previously. He didn’t realise what an effect his one-man charnel house impression would have on a civilian. “Still…” He said, attempting to cheer up the merchant, “You’re free.”

“I’m… free…?” The merchant whispered, his pallor slowly fading, “I’m… free! Oh!” Shaking Eden’s hand frantically, he stammered, “Oh, thank you! Please! It’s not much, but please, take it! Take it!”

“Whoa, easy!” Eden struggled as the merchant fanatically tried to cram gold into his satchel, “You’re welcome, you’re welcome! Not sure how much good it’ll do me, what with my vilifying in Bree, but…”

“Vilifying?” The merchant said slowly. He stared at Eden, an odd new expression on his face, “Is your name… Eden?”

“Yep, Eden. Your hero. Your rescuer. Your saviour --”

“Thief! Brigand!” Instead of gold, Eden now found himself being pelted by sticks and pebbles. The merchant raved, “Fiendish footpad! Blackhearted bagman! Away! And don’t even THINK of coming to my rare goods shop in Minas Tirith!”

“Ow! What?!”

“Lacklustre layabout! Pilfering pickpocket!”

“What is it with shopkeepers and alliteration?!”

“Away! Away! AWAY!”

“Alright, okay! I’m going, see?” Eden snapped, “That’s gratitude for you. I swear, I -- OW!” One of the merchant’s shoes smacked Eden square in the face. Holding it up, he barked, “And don’t think you’re getting this back, you maniac!”

“AWAY!”

    BREE

Shopkeepers, thought Eden. He didn’t like them much as a breed. Once I’m back in this town’s good books, he stewed to himself, I should start stealing things again out of spite. Shaking his head, and putting such thoughts from his mind, he turned his attention back to his current activity: Winning the hearts of Bree’s populace once again.

“Ladies and gentlemen! Good citizens of Bree!”

He had spared no expense. Having constructed the grandest stage he could muster – a small wooden crate to stand on – and having hired the greatest entertainers he could afford – Grim playing a homemade flute – he now addressed Bree’s town square. “I come before you not as a petty thief, but a warrior! Behold!” He cast the barkwood of Old Man Willow to ground, “Old Man Willow is no more! Yes, so now if any of you wish to take a walk in that dark, damp, gloomy, terrifying Old Forest, you no longer have to worry about being inconvenienced by a giant, sentient tree! Well, apart from the huorns. Plus, just about every other animal and plant there will try to kill you as well, but I digress…”

The town square was empty, except for one man – the mayor of Bree. Listening to Eden’s grandiose speech, he held a hand to his forehead. “Mercy, Eden.”

“What?” Eden said, hopping down from his box and slapping the flute from Grim’s mouth. She didn’t know how to either make or play a flute, and had essentially been blowing into a tree branch with holes randomly cut into it for the duration of Eden’s speech.

The mayor of Bree, while he mistrusted and disliked Eden as much as any other townsman, at least treated him with civility, “Did you not say that you were going to slay Bill, not Old Man Willow?”

“Well, yes… but there was this --”

“Out of Bill and Old Man Willow, which has routinely beaten and killed innocent townspeople in the lands surrounding Bree?”

“Well, like I was saying --”

“So, if I understand you, instead of travelling to the Trollshaws to put an end to this menace, you instead headed in the other direction, attacked a tree, and now believe that dropping an old piece of bark at my feet is enough to make this town forgive you your many, many, misdemeanours?”

“…”

“I think you have unfinished business to attend to, Eden.”


Last edited by Burb Lulls on Fri Oct 29, 2010 10:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2010 2:21 pm 
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Thalore

Joined: Fri Sep 24, 2010 10:40 am
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Location: East Sussex, England
Excellent story, I truly enjoyed that.

Predawn

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2010 2:23 pm 
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Master of Eyal

Joined: Wed Jul 24, 2002 9:26 pm
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Location: Angolwen
Indeed!

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[tome] phantomfrettchen: your ability not to tease anyone is simply stunning ;)


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2010 2:48 pm 
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Perspiring Physicist

Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 2:53 pm
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And here I was expecting DG to say "MOAR!" :wink:

EDIT: Plus 1 for great story.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2010 4:14 pm 
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Archmage

Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 1:33 pm
Posts: 310
Great story!

On another note, I have a signature now! :P

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Burb Lulls wrote:
"FLURRYFLURRYFLURRYFLURRYFLURRYFLURRY"


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 10:56 am 
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Spiderkin

Joined: Mon Jul 26, 2004 5:20 am
Posts: 480
Location: Blighty
Thanks for all your comments! I'm glad you're enjoying my story; glad and MYSTIFIED.

BTW, I'm certainly using text from the game for the Assassin Lord's speech, etc. because it's funny. Not out of laziness. No.

    TROLLSHAWS 1

“Dumb, dirty, stupid, freakin’…”

    TROLLSHAWS 2

“Oh, Eden! You stopped a menace to our town?! Oops! Wrong menace!”

    TROLLSHAWS 3

“I swear, once I’ve got that trunk, I’ll see it’s put to use…”

    TROLLSHAWS 4

“An’ then I’ll run away and they’ll all be like, “Where’s Eden? Where’s Eden?”

    TROLLSHAWS 5

“Erm… if I can interrupt your hateful rambling for a moment?”

Eden spun around – forgoing his usual stabbing frenzy on meeting a new friend – and beheld a strange warrior. He must have been wearing over a hundred pounds of sheer plate armour, and over two hundreds of pounds of armour polish. He shone so brightly it almost appeared like he was on fire. Eden shielded his eyes, “Geez, looking at you is like staring at the sun, you know that?”

“Good,” The warrior grinned, “Just as a sun paladin should be. My name is Belebeth, and I need your help.”

“You need… my help?” Eden was dumbfounded for a moment, but this soon gave way to irritation, “Let me guess, you’re here to slay Bill, right? For the glory?”

“What?”

“Well, listen here. Bill might just be another notch on your mace, you great and mighty warrior from the east that I don’t know about yet, but to me he’s everything! I need to slay Bill so that my hometown finally accepts me again! Understand?”

“Listen, knave,” Belebeth scowled, “I have already fought Bill…”

“I knew it!”

“… and now I’m in trouble. I’m wounded. I need to flee.”

Eden was stunned, “You… lost to Bill?! You, a sun paladin?” On seeing Belebeth nod, Eden suddenly felt very defenceless. Each shadow the trees around him cast suddenly looked like big, hungry trolls. On taking a closer look at Belebeth’s armour, Eden noticed several huge, trunk-shaped dents.

“Will you help me reach my recall portal?” Belebeth asked.

As it happened, it didn’t appear that Belebeth needed much help reaching his recall portal. Even not at his full strength a sun paladin is a deadly foe, as much of the Trollshaw’s wildlife found out. Fortunately for Eden however, Belebeth still felt the need to reward him as they found his portal.

“The Chant of Fortitude is a very useful ability, Eden. Use it well. I see that you are already invoking a hymn however…”

“Yes,” Eden replied, idly waving his hand through the black aura that surrounded him, “Is that a problem?”

“Not at all. You can keep a chant and a hymn going simultaneously. It’s like throat singing, give it a try!”

Awkwardly, Eden attempted to incorporate the new chant into the hymn he was already reciting, singing both songs simultaneously, one line after another. After a few false starts he finally mastered it, and the aura that surrounded him shone with a new golden glow. Eden felt his head, woozy from the forces of light and darkness clashing inside it, “Ugh, now I know how that Dizzy character felt.”

A few short goodbyes were exchanged, and Belebeth disappeared through his recall portal. “I wonder what a sun paladin was doing in these parts,” Eden thought to himself, “Shoot. I forgot to ask him if he was the one who had left those tattered paper scraps all over the place. Oh well, at least we didn’t run into --”

“GRAAAGH!”

“AAGH!”

In a lightning movement, Eden whipped around and thrust his daggers out at the first thing he saw. Bill, stood over Eden in his terrible, foul-smelling majesty, slowly felt at the two horrific wounds that marked his chest, gave a confused, “Whuurga?” and keeled over backwards, the felled tree in his hand falling like a… felled tree.

Eden stood over (or rather stood beside – even felled Bill was remarkably big) his supposed enemy. Thinking back over his recent adventures, Eden realised that what he saw as one of his biggest flaws – wildly stabbing at anything that sneaks up on him – was in fact one of his greatest strengths, because it had just earnt him, in his mind, the love of Bree.

“Yes!” Eden cheered, “Bill is vanquished! Now all that’s left to do is to return triumphant, with… my… trophy…” Eden’s gaze fell on the humungous tree trunk, “… Oh, by Aule’s nostrils, this is going to be painful.”

    BREE

“Eden! You’ve returned!”

Panting and exhausted, his leather armour soaked completely through with sweat, Eden groaned and heaved as he dragged the enormous tree trunk through Bree’s town square. The mayor watched him incredulously, remaining silent until Eden shakily addressed him. “One… one vanquished, Bill… I-I mean one Bill, vanquished. I need to sit down…”

“Eden,” the mayor said as he stooped down to Eden’s slumped body, “You have done this town a great service. I thank you, and Bree thanks you.”

Eden managed a weak smile, “Does that mean I can use the stores again? I could really go for a potion of greater healing…”

The mayor grinned, but said grin soon turned to an awkward grimace, and even before he started to shake his head Eden knew what was coming. “Well, I wish I could say yes, but you see…”

“What…?!”

“You have to look at it from my perspective,” Said the mayor soothingly, “While I thank you for your recent service, I still have to think about all the crimes you have committed previously. After all, this is but one act, and there’s no guarantee that you’ve truly put your thieving ways behind you…”

Eden was silent.

“I suppose, if we received proof that this wasn’t a chance occurrence…”

    AMON SUL 1

Eden cast his gaze across the dank, mossy lobby of the ruined tower he had entered, and sighed. Unlike Bill, he had heard no rumours regarding a shade terrorising Bree townsfolk. If this shade truly was a threat to Bree, it was certainly a low-key one. With resignation, Eden unsheathed his daggers and walked down the tower’s corridors…

“Aha!”

“WHOA!” (stab-stab-stab) “Hey!” (stab-stab-stab) “Aren’t you meant to be on level five?!” (stab-stab-stab) “That’s sneaky!”

Finally setting his eyes on the figure who had appeared behind him, Eden saw that it was not a shade, but a seer. The seer, a young woman who wore a long, cashmere robe and a smile wider than the Great Sea, declared, “Genuflect, my friend! You stand in the presence of the great Xanodann!”

“… Xanodann.”

“Xanodann the mighty! Xanodann the powerful! Master of all! Leader of men! Well-liked by animals!”

“Stop stealing lines from Tyrian 2K,” Eden snapped, “Tell me, Xanodann, what would such an obviously powerful and mighty seer be doing on the first level of Amon Sul?”

“Well --”

“Furthermore, what would such a powerful and mighty seer be doing on the first level of Amon Sul, wounded?

“…”

Eden chuckled, “Those rats certainly bite hard, don’t they? Couple of dozen of those and they might even break the skin!”

“Silence!” Xanodann pointed down one of the tower’s dark corridors, “Take me to my recall portal. I wanna go home.”

“My pleasure,” Grinned Eden, walking ahead of Xanodann, “To be honest, this area is rather beneath me now. I’m used to greater perils. Someday you’ll underst -- ARRGH!”

Without warning, a bolt of pure arcane energy had screamed from the darkness, knocked Eden off his feet and leaving a huge, smoking hole in his leather armour. Skeleton mages! Life’s little reminder that you’re not invincible. Taking his opponents more seriously, Eden called, “Alright! You want trouble?! I’ve got a bag of it right -- GWAARGH!”

Without warning once again, a second manathrust tore through Eden, this time from behind. “Manathrusts don’t ricochet!” He muttered to himself, “What did that?!”

Turning on the spot, Eden noticed that Xanodann had her hand out, her cheeks beginning to flush red. “Sorry,” She mumbled, “I-I was going to get that skeleton and… you were in the way?”

“That almost put me away, you fool seer! I want you to keep your hands in your pockets for the rest of this fight, you hear me?!” An arrow from a skeleton archer plunged into the back of Eden’s armour. Barely noticing it, he turned and snapped, “I’m coming to you later, be patient!”

Five minutes later…

“Well, here we are,” Said Xanodann on spying her recall portal, “I thank you for guiding the great Xanodann to her location, and…” Xanodann realised that her erstwhile guardian was simply staring at her darkly, “Ah… here! Have an identify spell, on the house!” One quiet and subdued magic lesson later, the great Xanodann had vanished.

Eden reluctantly saw the great utility his new identify spell gave him, and spent the best part of an hour sat in a corner of one of the better-lit rooms of the tower, going through his belongings. He made a few interesting discoveries: His new cured leather armour was rather cold-resistant, one of his daggers was oozing green slime (why he didn’t notice himself he didn’t know) plus his jewellery – every single piece – was completely useless.

Also, he identified his boots as the Boots of Tom Bombadil, but he wasn’t quite ready to give up his sobriquet for them.

    AMON SUL 2

“A fellow rogue! Hello!”

“Another one?!” Eden was dumbfounded as a thief approached him. This tower was more populated than Bree was! Still, it was nice to meet a fellow rogue. “What is your name, fellow agent of the night?” Eden asked melodramatically.

“Gunydir Quiggins,” The thief replied. So much for melodrama, Quiggins, Eden thought to himself.

Compared to his previous escorts, Gunydir’s guarding was a simple and short affair, with no enemies to speak of at all. Pleased for the change of pace, Eden was in high spirits as they approached the recall portal. As payment, Gunydir taught Eden a few of his personal exercises, granting a boost to Eden’s dexterity.

“Thanks for the tips,” Eden nodded, “So, what are you doing around here anyway?”

“Oh, I’m here to join this gang,” Gunymir responded, “Their leader just got put down by one of their former members, Eden. Boy, are the knives out for him! Literally! Bye!” Before Eden could reply, he had vanished.

    AMON SUL 3

“Hello? Anyone wounded? No? … Wow.”

Chop-chop-chop-chop-chop…

    AMON SUL 4

Chop-chop-chop-chop-chop…

    AMON SUL 5

Chop-chop-chop-chop-CLUNK!

Eden staggered backwards in surprise. That last cut he delivered seemed to be against something particularly hard. Looking at his fallen opponent, who he believed to be just another skeleton mage, he soon noticed that the robes it was clad in were both pure black and seemed to become loose and ethereal around their edges. Its staff, too, had a strange, dark and powerful aura to it. Was it possible that this was the shade?

“Well… they certainly don’t build great and terrible undead foes like they used to.”

    BREE

When Eden had made his way back to Bree following his victory over Old Man Willow, he entered with pomp and circumstance, assured that his troubles were over. When he made his way back after defeating Bill, his entrance was more subdued, but he remained hopeful. This return to Bree held no fanfare at all; Eden slouched into town, the shade’s staff dragging behind him. It almost felt like too much trouble now.

Thanks to his quiet arrival in Bree, the group of townspeople stood around the tree in the centre of town did not immediately notice him. Noticing the secretive expressions the group wore, Eden stealthily hid himself behind a corner to eavesdrop on their conversation:

“I swear! I saw him while I was out hunting; he’s coming, and he’s got the staff!”

“Impossible! The shade should’ve done him in, easy!”

“That’s what you said about Bill, but that wasn’t a problem for him either!”

“I’ve heard that he’s gained new allies from the east! He’s been seen with sun paladins, anorithils… plus, I’ve heard a rumour that he massacred his old gang too! What are we going to do with him?!”

“People, people!” Eden recognised the voice of the mayor among the chattering throng, “You’re forgetting – this is Eden. He’s not some mighty warrior, and he won’t keep beating these odds forever. The poor sap; he actually thinks we’re going to forgive him. When he shows up with the staff, I’ll tell him that I actually meant the staff that the Master just got, down south. He’ll believe me, the fool…”

Eden’s teeth ground together. He felt strangely numb, unsure of what to do. Some people, he imagined, would hide themselves in their room and write terrible poetry. Maybe I should as well, he thought bitterly. I will… once I’ve got some of that mayor’s blood to fill my inkwell…

“Wait.”

Eden turned. Grim was stood behind him, “You go into a flurry-frenzy, and you’ll prove everything they’re saying about you.”

“Can it, Grim,” Eden retorted, “Aren’t you a necromancer, anyway? I thought you’d like corpses all over the place.”

Grim didn’t miss a beat, “Not really. When people are killed like that all they do is moan as ghouls. Oh, I’ve been wronged. You’ve killed me! Revenge! Plegh. I prefer people who die from dementia or pipeweed fever. Much more fun to talk to.”

“Well, what do you suggest?” Eden grumbled, “This entire town hates me! What resolution can there be to this that’ll make me happy if not a massacre?!”

“Whoa there, you’re on the verge of becoming a reaver, Eden!”

“If only.”

“Actually…” Grim thought, rubbing her nose, “You’ve always talked about moving to Minas Tirith, haven’t you? A fresh start. Maybe you should start thinking about it more seriously!”

“A fresh start…?” Eden mused to himself, “You always hear about people leaving the big city to go live in the countryside, but leaving the countryside to go live in the big city?” After a moment’s thought, he shrugged, “I suppose it’s worth a shot! Plus, when I’ve earned enough money down there I can buy Bree and turn it into a mold farm. Heheh.”

Taking up a satchel, Eden took one last look around him, “Well, goodbye Bree. It’s been real. Oh wait,” He added sarcastically, “No it hasn’t. I hope you rot. Farewell. See ya, Grim.”

“See ya! … Hey, wait! That’s MY satchel!”

    WILDERNESS

Eden was so busy muttering angry nothings to himself, imagining all sorts of horrible things happening to Bree’s population, that he almost bumped into the apprentice mage that was walking in the other direction. The mage seemed to share Eden’s method of dealing with unexpected guests, although in his case he repeatedly knocked his assailants on the head ineffectually with his staff rather than stabbed them.

“Who are you?” Eden grumbled, rubbing a number of fresh bruises on his head, “What brings an apprentice mage out into the wilds?”

“Ahh, my story is a sad one… I should not trouble you with it, my friend.” The mage melodramatically cast his gaze into the middle distance, not noticing Eden shrugging his shoulders and continuing on his way. When he finally did notice his absence, he hurried to Eden’s side again and repeated with a glare, “I SHOULD NOT TROUBLE YOU WITH IT, MY FRIEND.”

With a rattling sigh, Eden groaned, “Fine. It is no trouble at all! Please tell me!

Launching into his prepared speech, the mage continued, “Well, if you insist… I am a novice mage, as you might have noticed…” He waited for Eden to look suitably impressed. On getting no reaction, he continued, “… and my goal is to be accepted by the elves of Angolwen and be taught the secrets of the arcane.”

Eden smiled, summoning up a faraway look in his eyes, “Ah yes, Angolwen, I have called it home for many years…”

“You’re an archmage?!” The apprentice squawked incredulously.

“No, I’m just messing with you. Who are the elves of Angolwen?”

“The keepers of ar…” The apprentice caught himself awkwardly, tugging the collar of his robe, “Err, I do not think I am supposed to talk about them… sorry, my friend…” Another theatrical gaze into the distance, another total lack of response from Eden. The novice mage was getting rather fed up with Eden’s lack of appreciation for his showmanship, but he continued nonetheless, “In any case, I must collect fifteen magic staves, rings or amulets, and I have yet to find -- umph!

Eden had cast the staff he found on the shade’s remains at the apprentice – right at his face, more specifically. “I’m not helping you with your errands, boy,” Eden scowled, “Take that one, it was useless to me, and be thankful you’re even getting one out of me.”

Having vented his bad mood at the poor mage somewhat, Eden made to turn and stalk away when he heard the mage’s flabbergasted voice over his shoulder, “Holy… dip! This is Angmar’s Fall! Where did you get it?!”

“Angmar’s… Fall?” Eden said in confusion, “You mean it’s not just a regular staff?”

“Oh yes, my friend, this is indeed a powerful staff!” The mage enthused, “I think that it alone should suffice to complete my quest! Many thanks!”

Eden was caught off-guard by the mage’s gratitude. He had believed the staff to be a long, wooden red herring, but it seemed to have some value after all. “Well, I cannot use it anyway…” He mumbled apologetically, rubbing the back of his neck.

“Ah yes! I am so glad!” The mage grinned, “I will be able to go back to Angolw… err… Oh well, I guess I can tell you; you deserve it for helping me. During the dark years of Sauron’s reign, more than one hundred years ago, Gandalf the Grey worried that…”

Eden nodded repeatedly, the mage’s voice slowly dissolving as his attention waned. “Why do mages have such funny shoes?” He thought to himself, “Maybe he miscast a spell and it made his toenails grow funny and… I’m babbling. Babbling in my head. Not that I can say much about funny shoes anyway, with Eden’s Guile here. Hmm, I’m kinda hungry. Think I’ll have pie for dinner tonight. Ritch and mushroom.”

“… many people are accepted there but I will arrange for you to be allowed inside.” The mage finished happily, “Aren’t you happy, Eden? … Eden? … EDEN!”

“Whuh?!”

“Were you paying attention? I said you could come and visit Angolwen!”

“Visit Angolwen?” Eden pondered, “Hmm. Well, as much as I’d like to hang around a bunch of archmages, phasing and teleporting here and there, summoning fire from the skies, warping the fabric of reality, I don’t think a country bumpkin from Bree will really fit into the milieu… unless…” Eden suddenly realised something. Fixing the mage with a steely glare, he asked, “Wait. Do they have shops in Angolwen?”

“I… I imagine so.” The mage shrugged, “Why?”

“No reason,” Smiled Eden, slowly backpeddling from the apprentice mage, “I suppose I better go introduce myself to the mages… make some trades… thanks again!”

“Wait, don’t you want to know where Angolwen is?” The mage called after Eden, “You’ve got to go west, then…” The mage’s voice faded out of earshot.

Finally, a break, Eden thought happily to himself. Rather than travel the length of Middle-Earth to start a new life in Minas Tirith, he could simply travel to the city of mages instead! Beyond the simple benefit of being able to trade again, living in Angolwen could pay additional dividends… “I think that when I become the most powerful wizard in all of Arda, I’ll make a great big thunderstorm over Bree. That’ll teach ‘em. Heheheh…”

He hadn’t heard the mage’s directions, but this didn’t bother Eden. Rogues have an uncanny sense of direction, and Eden felt that his was especially good – his parents told him that he ate a compass when he was little.

“This looks like the way to Angolwen,” Eden said to himself, “Some grandure! You’d think a city of mages would have a better entrance; this is barely a hole in the ground!”

    MAZE 1

“Now, I just need to find a signpost… geez, Angolwen’s a freakin’ labyrinth.”


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 6:23 pm 
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Spiderkin

Joined: Mon Jul 26, 2004 5:20 am
Posts: 480
Location: Blighty
“Ah, this man looks like a guard. Excuse me, sir! My name is Eden, a simple traveller from Bree. You’ve probably heard from that novice mage who has the power to allow people into Angolwen without being admitted himself; I’m to be welcomed here, correct? Perhaps you could show me to a reasonably priced inn? Nothing Haradrim, their food tends to give me --”

The minotaur Eden had approached, fed up with the rambling of the puny ape-headed human before him, swung its battleaxe down in a brutal arc.


    * * *

“Where… where am I?”

Eden opened his eyes, then promptly slammed them shut again. Commanding his eyes to show him something different, he tentatively opened them again.

A desolate wasteland stretched before him, its surface covered with unnatural-looking craters and rubble. No evidence of life could be seen, not a single plant. There was evidence of former life, though: Skeletons, heaps of them. The sky was dark, filled with roiling, purple clouds, sporadically shooting spears of fire down at the blighted land.

But Eden wasn’t focussed on this. He was focussed on the figure before him. Only the wildest, most shunned and zealous cults followed him. Normal folk didn’t dare think of his name, let alone speak it. Eden had doubted his existence too, but he was now stood before him: Arenji, the dark Vala of misfortune, chance and failure. Eden now realised that the skeletons before him must have been moments from survival before their deaths: One had a potion of full healing in its bony grip, and another held a piece of parchment, the controlled phase door incantation on it half-read.

“Enjoying your adventure, mortal?” Arenji boomed, his voice redolent with scoreboards and ASCII gravestones.

Eden squeaked in response. It seemed his vocal cords were rather more shocked than the rest of his body was.

“I needn’t tell you your fate, Eden. You’ve known it yourself, ever since you took up the Boots of Tom Bombadil in the Trollshaws…”

“E-Eden’s Guile,” Eden stammered. Yes, so I just corrected a Vala, Eden thought in disbelief. He cleared his throat; the idea that Arenji was going to kill him regardless of what he said gave him a peculiar form of confidence, “Y-You know, some people in life win, r-regardless of your actions. You… you’re not all-powerful!”

Arenji’s dark eyes burnt through Eden. The supernatural equivalent of a smirk appeared on his lips, “Perhaps. Your case is a special one, Eden. You’re living on borrowed time. Already, this world is fading. Another world will replace it, a world you sadly will not be a part of. Other rogues will take your place… rogues that can lay traps, say…”

“Traps!” Eden exclaimed, “Listen, Arenji, you say this world is fading, but the only proof we have of that is your words. Maybe you’re wrong! Maybe… maybe this new world and mine can exist, together!” Metaphysical debate wasn’t Eden’s strong suit, and he soon found himself saying the first thing that came to mind. After all, he was in a hellish wasteland confronting a figure from myths and legends – he could’ve said “argle-bargle-ningy-nong” if he wanted and it would have been just as effective.

“Think that if you will,” Arenji mocked, “It matters little. Soon, your world shall be destroyed in an entirely different sense…”

“Different how?”

Arenji cast an eldritch hand out, indicating the wasteland around him, “Behold, this act of destruction heralds the birth of a new world! Your kind may soon come to call it… the Spellblaze…”

“Right…” Eden considered calling the maleficent deity before him a nutcase, decided against it, then complimented himself on his wise choice.

“Who knows? Maybe you will survive, in some form. Your petty acts of burglary and stabbing may continue in the new realm. But know this: While the other Valar may vanish, I will endure, and I’ll be just the same… you silly goose!”

Eden was baffled, “Did… you just say silly goose?

Arenji was gone, replaced by Grim, “Rise and shine, Eden!”


    * * *

With a startled snort, Eden awoke, laid out on the labyrinth’s floor. Beside him was the repeatedly-stabbed body of a minotaur. Eden scratched his chin, silently thanked himself for his reflexes, and walked away.

    Level 15! +2 Strength, +2 Dexterity, +2 Constitution, +3 Dual Strike, +1 Weapon Combat

Eden frowned. He appeared to have forgotten to better himself when he achieved level fourteen. “I suppose I did have a lot on my plate, what with Bree and everything…”

    MAZE 2

“How long does this circuitous corridor go on for? Surely there must be a shop or something soon…!”

    MAZE 3

“How do mages live like this?! Maybe they just teleport between their homes and shops and things, ignoring all this maze stuff. Yevanna’s stockings, no wonder so many mages are obese.”

    MAZE 4

“Come on Eden, focus. Nobody said reaching Angolwen was going to be easy. Just stay calm.”

    MAZE 5

“hahaaahahhahahah paths and paths and paths and paths naaahahahaahaha”

    MAZE 6

“Ahh, now this looks special.” Eden had spied a dagger. While it may have looked normal to a passing layman, the distinguished murderer would recognise it as being of dwarven-steel construction. Dwarves, while not busy going mad, killing their nobles and flooding valleys with magma, make stellar equipment. Furthermore, the blade seemed to be coated with a corrosive acid, and its serrated edge lent itself well to massacre.

“An acidic implement of massacre…” Eden thought. Hardly stealthy, but then Eden didn’t consider himself a particularly cunning rogue. A good set of knives was a fine replacement for intelligence, anyway.

    Level 16! +2 Dexterity, +1 Constitution, +1 Knife Mastery, +1 Lethality

    MAZE 7

“I’m beginning to think – this is just an inkling, mind, just the tiniest thought flitting through the deepest, most subconscious part of my psyche – that this may not be Angolwen.”

“PUNY HUMAN,” Came a rumbling roar from the darkness beyond, “YOU DARE INTRUDE UPON THE LABYRINTH OF --”

“FLURRYFLURRYFLURRYFLURRYFLURRY”

    * * *

“Sorry for not letting you finish your big introduction,” Eden shrugged at the minotaur lord’s carcass, “My physician says I have an abnormally small melodrama gland. Still, it looks like my little jaunt here wasn’t completely worthless…”

“Helm the Hammerhand,” Eden thought to himself as he held up the stark iron helm, “Hero of the Westdike. Now there was a man who knew strategy. After all, there’s little more terrifying than being attacked by a mad hairy man in the middle of a snowstorm!”

“Now for the journey back up…” Thought Eden with reluctance, “Good thing I’ve got a good sense of direction. This maze detour wasn’t my fault; anyone would think this was Angolwen!”


    * * *

Image


Last edited by Burb Lulls on Fri Oct 29, 2010 10:07 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 6:35 pm 
Offline
Loremaster

Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 10:18 pm
Posts: 3516
Location: London, England
Haha, love the picture. You even drew Eden's Guile correctly!

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