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Not yet does my road lie southward to your bright streams. Now let us go!

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The ridge upon which the companions stood went down steeply before their feet. Below it twenty fathoms or more, there was a wide and rugged shelf which ended suddenly in the brink of a sheer cliff: the East Wall of Rohan. So ended the Emyn Muil, and the green plains of the Rohirrim stretched away before them to the edge of sight. He is very high. He seems to be flying now away, from this land back to the North. He is going with great speed.

I wonder what is his errand, if he is the same bird that I have seen before. But look! I can see something nearer at hand and more urgent; there is something moving over the plain! They are many leagues away: twelve, I guess; but the flatness of the plain is hard to measure.

They followed their enemies now by the clear light of day. It seemed that the Orcs had pressed on with all possible speed. Every now and again the pursuers found things that had been dropped or cast away: food-bags, the rinds and crusts of hard grey bread. The trail led them north along the top of the escarpment, and at length they came to a deep cleft carved in the rock by a stream that splashed noisily down.

In the narrow ravine a rough path descended like a steep stair into the plain. At the bottom they came with a strange suddenness on the grass of Rohan. It swelled like a green sea up to the very foot of the Emyn Muil. The falling stream vanished into a deep growth of cresses and water-plants, and they could hear it tinkling away in green tunnels, down long gentle slopes towards the fens of Entwash Vale far away. They seemed to have left winter clinging to the hills behind. Here the air was softer and warmer, and faintly scented, as if spring was already stirring and the sap was flowing again in herb and leaf.

Legolas took a deep breath, like one that drinks a great draught after long thirst in barren places. Now we have a chance to lessen their lead!


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They went in single file, running like hounds on a strong scent, and an eager light was in their eyes. Nearly due west the broad swath of the marching Orcs tramped its ugly slot; the sweet grass of Rohan had been bruised and blackened as they passed. Presently Aragorn gave a cry and turned aside. These, however, did not go far before they were crossed by orc-prints, also coming out from the main trail behind and in front, and then they curved sharply back again and were lost in the trampling. At the furthest point Aragorn stooped and picked up something from the grass; then he ran back.

Pippin's I think. He is smaller than the other. And look at this! He held up a thing that glittered in the sunlight. It looked like the new-opened leaf of a beech-tree, fair and strange in that treeless plain. I think Pippin ran away from the trail for that purpose. That is heartening. We do not pursue in vain. Let us go on! The thought of those merry young folk driven like cattle burns my heart. The sun climbed to the noon and then rode slowly down the sky.

Light clouds came up out of the sea in the distant South and were blown away upon the breeze. The sun sank. Shadows rose behind and reached out long arms from the East. Still the hunters held on. One day now had passed since Boromir fell, and the Orcs were yet far ahead. No longer could any sight of them be seen in the level plains. As nightshade was closing about them Aragorn halted. Only twice in the day's march had they rested for a brief while, and twelve leagues now lay between them and the eastern wall where they had stood at dawn.

If a prisoner should escape, or if one should be carried off, eastward, say, to the Great River, towards Mordor, we might pass the signs and never know it. Their present course bears me out. In the dark we should have passed the signs that led you to the brooch.

How that is to be done cannot be guessed, but first we must overtake them. And if we rest, then the blind night is the time to do so. If the Moon gave enough light, we would use it, but alas! Ours is but a small matter in the great deeds of this time. A vain pursuit from its beginning, maybe, which no choice of mine can mar or mend. Well, I have chosen. So let us use the time as best we may! He cast himself on the ground and fell at once into sleep, for he had not slept since their night under the shadow of Tol Brandir.

Before dawn was in the sky he woke and rose. Gimli was still deep in slumber, but Legolas was standing, gazing northwards into the darkness, thoughtful and silent as a young tree in a windless night. Only an eagle could overtake them now. Stooping he roused the Dwarf. We must go,' he said. He lay there motionless, for so long a time that Gimli wondered if he had swooned or fallen asleep again. Dawn came glimmering, and slowly a grey light grew about them. At last he rose, and now his friends could see his face: it was pale and drawn, and his look was troubled.

Faint and far are the feet of our enemies. But loud are the hoofs of the horses. It comes to my mind that I heard them, even as I lay on the ground in sleep, and they troubled my dreams: horses galloping, passing in the West. But now they are drawing ever further from us, riding northward. I wonder what is happening in this land! So the third day of their pursuit began.

During all its long hours of cloud and fitful sun they hardly paused, now striding, now running, as if no weariness could quench the fire that burned them. They seldom spoke.

i daydream too much and write too little

Over the wide solitude they passed and their elven-cloaks faded against the background of the grey-green fields; even in the cool sunlight of mid-day few but elvish eyes would have marked them, until they were close at hand. All day the track of their enemies led straight on, going north-west without a break or turn. As once again the day wore to its end they came to long treeless slopes, where the land rose, swelling up towards a line of low humpbacked downs ahead.

The orc-trail grew fainter as it bent north towards them, for the ground became harder and the grass shorter. Far away to the left the river Entwash wound, a silver thread in a green floor. No moving thing could be seen.

Often Aragorn wondered that they saw no sign of beast or man. The dwellings of the Rohirrim were for the most part many leagues away to the South, under the wooded eaves of the White Mountains, now hidden in mist and cloud; yet the Horse-lords had formerly kept many herds and studs in the Eastemnet, this easterly region of their realm, and there the herdsmen had wandered much, living in camp and tent, even in winter-time. But now all the land was empty, and there was silence that did not seem to be the quiet of peace. At dusk they halted again. Now twice twelve leagues they had passed over the plains of Rohan and the wall of the Emyn Muil was lost in the shadows of the East.

The young moon was glimmering in a misty sky, but it gave small light, and the stars were veiled. I fear they have already reached the forest and the dark hills, and even now are passing into the shadows of the trees. Yet I am weary. I distrust the silence. I distrust even the pale Moon. The stars are faint; and I am weary as I have seldom been before, weary as no Ranger should be with a clear trail to follow. There is some will that lends speed to our foes and sets an unseen barrier before us: a weariness that is in the heart more than in the limb.

For the will is not behind us but before us. Halt we must once more; for, see! But north lies our road between down and fen when day returns. As before Legolas was first afoot, if indeed he had ever slept. Strange things await us by the eaves of the forest. Good or evil, I do not know; but we are called.

The others sprang up, and almost at once they set off again. Slowly the downs drew near. It was still an hour before noon when they reached them: green slopes rising to bare ridges that ran in a line straight towards the North. At their feet the ground was dry and the turf short, but a long strip of sunken land, some ten miles wide, lay between them and the river wandering deep in dim thickets of reed and rush. Just to the West of the southernmost slope there was a great ring, where the turf had been torn and beaten by many trampling feet.

From it the orc-trail ran out again, turning north along the dry skirts of the hills. Aragorn halted and examined the tracks closely. I fear that your heart spoke truly, Legolas: it is thrice twelve hours, I guess, since the Orcs stood where we now stand. If they held to their pace, then at sundown yesterday they would reach the borders of Fangorn.

They would be more willing, if my heart were less heavy. The sun was sinking when at last they drew near to the end of the line of downs. For many hours they had marched without rest. They were going slowly now, and Gimli's back was bent. Stone-hard are the Dwarves in labour or journey, but this endless chase began to tell on him, as all hope failed in his heart. Aragorn walked behind him, grim and silent, stooping now and again to scan some print or mark upon the ground. Only Legolas still stepped as lightly as ever, his feet hardly seeming to press the grass.

Wearily they followed him, climbing the long slope, until they came out upon the top. It was a round hill smooth and bare, standing by itself, the most northerly of the downs. The sun sank and the shadows of evening fell like a curtain. They were alone in a grey formless world without mark or measure. Only far away north-west there was a deeper darkness against the dying light: the Mountains of Mist and the forest at their feet. It is growing cold!

Yet do not cast all hope away. Tomorrow is unknown. Rede oft is found at the rising of the Sun. The night grew ever colder. Aragorn and Gimli slept fitfully, and whenever they awoke they saw Legolas standing beside them, or walking to and fro, singing softly to himself in his own tongue, and as he sang the white stars opened in the hard black vault above. So the night passed. Together they watched the dawn grow slowly in the sky, now bare and cloudless, until at last the sunrise came. It was pale and clear. The wind was in the East and all the mists had rolled away; wide lands lay bleak about them in the bitter light.

Ahead and eastward they saw the windy uplands of the Wold of Rohan that they had already glimpsed many days ago from the Great River. North-westward stalked the dark forest of Fangorn; still ten leagues away stood its shadowy eaves, and its further slopes faded into the distant blue. Beyond there glimmered far away, as if floating on a grey cloud, the white head of tall Methedras, the last peak of the Misty Mountains. Out of the forest the Entwash flowed to meet them, its stream now swift and narrow, and its banks deep-cloven.

The orc-trail turned from the downs towards it. Following with his keen eyes the trail to the river, and then the river back towards the forest, Aragorn saw a shadow on the distant green, a dark swift-moving blur. He cast himself upon the ground and listened again intently. But Legolas stood beside him, shading his bright elven-eyes with his long slender hand, and he saw not a shadow, nor a blur, but the small figures of horsemen, many horsemen, and the glint of morning on the tips of their spears was like the twinkle of minute stars beyond the edge of mortal sight.

Far behind them a dark smoke rose in thin curling threads. Yellow is their hair, and bright are their spears. Their leader is very tall. Shall we wait for them here or go on our way? Or at least others were before us; for these horsemen are riding back down the orc-trail. We may get new s from them. The three companions now left the hill-top, where they might be an easy mark against the pale sky, and they walked slowly down the northward slope.

A little above the hill's foot they halted, and wrapping their cloaks about them, they sat huddled together upon the faded grass. The time passed slowly and heavily. The wind was thin and searching. Gimli was uneasy. But I do not know what has happened here of late, nor in what mind the Rohirrim may now be between the traitor Saruman and the threat of Sauron. They have long been the friends of the people of Gondor, though they are not akin to them.

It was in forgotten years long ago that Eorl the Young brought them out of the North, and their kinship is rather with the Bardings of Dale, and with the Beornings of the Wood, among whom may still be seen many men tall and fair, as are the Riders of Rohan. At least they will not love the Orcs. At length even Gimli could hear the distant beat of galloping hoofs. The horsemen, following the trail, had turned from the river, and were drawing near the downs.

They were riding like the wind. Now the cries of clear strong voices came ringing over the fields. Suddenly they swept up with a noise like thunder, and the foremost horseman swerved, passing by the foot of the hill, and leading the host back southward along the western skirts of the downs. After him they rode: a long line of mail-clad men. Their horses were of great stature, strong and clean-limbed; their grey coats glistened, their long tails flowed in the wind, their manes were braided on their proud necks.

The Men that rode them matched them well: tall and long-limbed; their hair, flaxen-pale, flowed under their light helms, and streamed in long braids behind them; their faces were stern and keen. In their hands were tall spears of ash, painted shields were slung at their backs, long swords were at their belts, their burnished skirts of mail hung down upon their knees. In pairs they galloped by, and though every now and then one rose in his stirrups and gazed ahead and to either side, they appeared not to perceive the three strangers sitting silently and watching them.

The host had almost passed when suddenly Aragorn stood up, and called in a loud voice:. With astonishing speed and skill they checked their steeds, wheeled, and came charging round. Soon the three companions found themselves in a ring of horsemen moving in a running circle, up the hill-slope behind them and down, round and round them, and drawing ever inwards. Aragorn stood silent, and the other two sat without moving, wondering what way things would turn.

Without a word or cry, suddenly, the Riders halted. A thicket of spears were pointed towards the strangers; and some of the horsemen had bows in hand, and their arrows were already fitted to the string. Then one rode forward, a tall man, taller than all the rest; from his helm as a crest a white horsetail flowed. He advanced until the point of his spear was within a foot of Aragorn's breast. Aragorn did not stir.

The Rider leaped from his horse. Giving his spear to another who rode up and dismounted at his side, he drew his sword and stood face to face with Aragorn, surveying him keenly, and not without wonder. At length he spoke again. Indeed you know little of Orcs, if you go hunting them in this fashion.

They were swift and well-armed, and they were many. You would have changed from hunters to prey, if ever you had overtaken them. But there is something strange about you, Strider. And strange too is your raiment. Have you sprung out of the grass? How did you escape our sight? Are you elvish folk? The Rider looked at them with renewed wonder, but his eyes hardened. These are strange days! But if you have her favour, then you also are net-weavers and sorcerers, maybe.

Gimli rose and planted his feet firmly apart: his hand gripped the handle of his axe, and his dark eyes flashed. You speak evil of that which is fair beyond the reach of your thought, and only little wit can excuse you. We intend no evil to Rohan, nor to any of its folk, neither to man nor to horse. Will you not hear our tale before you strike? First tell me your right name. There is trouble now on all our borders, and we are threatened; but we desire only to be free, and to live as we have lived, keeping our own, and serving no foreign lord, good or evil.

We welcomed guests kindly in the better days, but in these times the unbidden stranger finds us swift and hard. Who are you? Whom do you serve? At whose command do you hunt Orcs in our land? There are few among mortal Men who know more of Orcs; and I do not hunt them in this fashion out of choice.

The Orcs whom we pursued took captive two of my friends. In such need a man that has no horse will go on foot, and he will not ask for leave to follow the trail. Nor will he count the heads of the enemy save with a sword. I am not weaponless. Aragorn threw back his cloak. Here is the Sword that was Broken and is forged again! Will you aid me or thwart me?

Choose swiftly! Gimli and Legolas looked at their companion in amazement, for they had not seen him in this mood before. For a moment it seemed to the eyes of Legolas that a white flame flickered on the brows of Aragorn like a shining crown. He cast down his proud eyes. And what was the meaning of the dark words?

Long has Boromir son of Denethor been gone seeking an answer, and the horse that we lent him came back riderless. What doom do you bring out of the North? None may live now as they have lived, and few shall keep what they call their own. But of these great matters we will speak later. If chance allows, I will come myself to the king. Now I am in great need, and I ask for help, or at least for tidings.

You heard that we are pursuing an orc-host that carried off our friends. What can you tell us? Were there no bodies other than those of orc-kind? They would be small. Only children to your eyes, unshod but clad in grey. The ashes are smoking still. It seems that you have heard in Rohan of the words that troubled Minas Tirith. They spoke of the Halfling. These hobbits are Halflings.

But they are only a little people in old songs and children's tales out of the North. Do we walk in legends or on the green earth in the daylight? The green earth, say you? That is a mighty matter of legend, though you tread it under the light of day! Let us leave these wild folk to their fancies.

Or let us bind them and take them to the king. But you have not told all. Will you not now speak more fully of your errand, so that I may judge what to do? My errand was to go to that city with the son of Denethor, to aid his folk in their war against Sauron. But the Company that I journeyed with had other business. Of that I cannot speak now. Gandalf the Grey was our leader.

He has been a guest in the land many times in the memory of men, coming as he will, after a season, or after many years. He is ever the herald of strange events: a bringer of evil, some now say. At that time our trouble with Saruman began. Until then we counted Saruman our friend, hut Gandalf came then and warned us that sudden war was preparing in Isengard. He said that he himself had been a prisoner in Orthanc and had hardly escaped, and he begged for help.

He is wroth.


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  • For Gandalf took the horse that is called Shadowfax, the most precious of all the king's steeds, chief of the Mearas , which only the Lord of the Mark may ride. For the sire of their race was the great horse of Eorl that knew the speech of Men. Seven nights ago Shadowfax returned; but the king's anger is not less, for now the horse is wild and will let no man handle him. But alas! Gandalf will ride no longer. He fell into darkness in the Mines of Moria and comes not again. My part it has been to guide our Company on the long road from Moria. There Boromir was slain by the same Orcs whom you destroyed.

    That was a worthy man! All spoke his praise. He came seldom to the Mark, for he was ever in the wars on the East-borders; but I have seen him. More like to the swift sons of Eorl than to the grave Men of Gondor he seemed to me, and likely to prove a great captain of his people when his time came. But we have had no word of this grief out of Gondor. When did he fall? This deed of the three friends should be sung in many a hall. Forty leagues and five you have measured ere the fourth day is ended! Hardy is the race of Elendil! I spoke warily before my men.

    It is true that we are not yet at open war with the Black Land, and there are some, close to the king's ear, that speak craven counsels; but war is coming. We shall not forsake our old alliance with Gondor, and while they fight we shall aid them: so say I and all who hold with me. The East-mark is my charge. Some years ago the Lord of the Black Land wished to purchase horses of us at great price, but we refused him. Then he sent plundering Orcs, and they carry off what they can, choosing always the black horses: few of these are now left.

    For that reason our feud with the Orcs is bitter. He has claimed lordship over all this land, and there has been war between us for many months. He has taken Orcs into his service, and Wolf-riders, and evil Men, and he has closed the Gap against us, so that we are likely to be beset both east and west.

    He walks here and there, they say, as an old man hooded and cloaked, very like to Gandalf, as many now recall. His spies slip through every net, and his birds of ill omen are abroad in the sky. I do not know how it will all end, and my heart misgives me; for it seems to me that his friends do not all dwell in Isengard. But if you come to the king's house, you shall see for yourself. Will you not come? Do I hope in vain that you have been sent to me for a help in doubt and need?

    There is battle even now upon the Westemnet, and I fear that it may go ill for us. But scouts warned me of the orc-host coming down out of the East Wall three nights ago, and among them they reported that some bore the white badges of Saruman. There we surrounded them, and gave battle yesterday at dawn.

    Fifteen of my men I lost, and twelve horses alas! For the Orcs were greater in number than we counted on. Others joined them. And others, too, came out of the forest. Great Orcs, who also bore the White Hand of Isengard: that kind is stronger and more fell than all others. But we have been too long away. We are needed south and west. There are spare horses as you see. There is work for the Sword to do.

    Yes, and we could find a use for Gimli's axe and the bow of Legolas, if they will pardon my rash words concerning the Lady of the Wood. I spoke only as do all men in my land, and I would gladly learn better. We found a clear token not far from the East Wall that one at least of them was still alive there. But between the wall and the downs we have found no other trace of them, and no trail has turned aside, this way or that, unless my skill has wholly left me.

    They may have been slain and burned among the Orcs; but that you will say cannot be, and I do not fear it. I can only think that they were carried off into the forest before the battle, even before you encircled your foes, maybe. Can you swear that none escaped your net in such a way? The world is all grown strange. Elf and Dwarf in company walk in our daily fields; and folk speak with the Lady of the Wood and yet live; and the Sword comes back to war that was broken in the long ages ere the fathers of our fathers rode into the Mark!

    How shall a man judge what to do in such times? It is a man's part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.

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    Yet I am not free to do all as I would. It is against our law to let strangers wander at will in our land, until the king himself shall give them leave, and more strict is the command in these days of peril. I have begged you to come back willingly with me, and you will not.

    Loth am I to begin a battle of one hundred against three. Never in former days would any high lord of this land have constrained a man to abandon such a quest as mine. My duty at least is clear, to go on. Aid us, or at the worst let us go free. Or seek to carry out your law. If you do so there will be fewer to return to your war or to your king. This is my choice. You may go; and what is more, I will lend you horses. Thus you shall prove to him that I have not misjudged. In this I place myself, and maybe my very life, in the keeping of your good faith. Do not fail. I would sooner walk than sit on the back of any beast so great, free or begrudged.

    Then all will be well, and you need neither borrow a horse nor be troubled by one. A great dark-grey horse was brought to Aragorn, and he mounted it. A smaller and lighter horse, but restive and fiery, was brought to Legolas. Arod was his name. But Legolas asked them to take off saddle and rein. Gimli was lifted up behind his friend.

    I have yet to teach you gentle speech. With that they parted. Very swift were the horses of Rohan. Aragorn did not look back: he was watching the trail as they sped on their way, bending low with his head beside the neck of Hasufel. Aragorn dismounted and surveyed the ground, then leaping back into the saddle, he rode away for some distance eastward, keeping to one side and taking care not to override the footprints. Then he again dismounted and examined the ground, going backwards and forwards on foot.

    But this eastward trail is fresh and clear. There is no sign there of any feet going the other way, back towards Anduin. Now we must ride slower, and make sure that no trace or footstep branches off on either side. The Orcs must have been aware from this point that they were pursued; they may have made some attempt to get their captives away before they were overtaken. As they rode forward the day was overcast. Low grey clouds came over the Wold.

    A mist shrouded the sun. Ever nearer the tree-clad slopes of Fangorn loomed, slowly darkling as the sun went west. They saw no sign of any trail to right or left, but here and there they passed single Orcs, fallen in their tracks as they ran, with grey-feathered arrows sticking in back or throat. After a few steps, you notice that the floor underfoot is covered in a thick layer of some kind of droppings. With your next step you hear a fateful click, and then you feel sick momentary as the ground underfoot disappears.

    You have triggered a trap door. First, keeping note of this entry, turn to 71 and put a tick in the box then return here and continue. To avoid falling through the trap door you need to succeed an ability test, in this case against your Strength. Do you have an Ornate Key marked in your possessions? Otherwise: Do you want to try to pick the lock? Go to 5. Do you want to try another door? You desperately reached for something to grab to stop your fall, but you can only flail helplessly as you plunge through the gap and accelerate towards the unforgiving floor of the entrance hall.

    You are about to hit the ground. To avoid taking the full damage from the fall you need to succeed an ability test, in this case against your Dexterity. Go to 3. You're in a twenty-foot square room off the main entrance hall. Water leaks from the ceiling of the room, and whatever the room previously contained has long since disintegrated from the water.

    The door in the west wall leads back to the entrance hall. A set of double-doors takes up most of the north wall and a small discrete door is set in the south wall. Do you take the double-door in the north wall? Do you go through the small door in the south wall? You were so close to your goal, but the Skeleton Lord and his undead minions cut you down.

    Now your body will remain here in the tower, waiting for the next foolish adventurer to test himself against its dangers. The trap door opens beneath you revealing a dizzying drop all the way to the floor of the entrance hall below. Paralyzed with fear, you plunge through the trapdoor crash into the hard floor of the entrance hall. Approaching these double-doors, you see that they are each carved from a huge piece of stone.

    There is no latch or handle, but an intricate carved circular motif lies across both doors about four feet from the ground. Do you have a Circular Medallion listed in your possessions? Do you have a Circular Headpiece listed in your possessions? You are blown across the room by the blast and crash to the floor, where you die slowly from your injuries.

    You cautiously mount the stairs and take them up to the next level of the tower. You're at the south end of the corridor. The roof above is entirely missing here, and the pouring rain has turned the animal droppings into thick slurry. The damage to the roof extends to the outer wall of the tower to the south. The rubble and debris is piled against the remains of the damaged wall.

    There are doors in the west and east sides of the corridor. The double-doors are locked. Do you investigate the damaged wall to the south? Go to 6. Do you return to the stairs down to the first level? You beat as hasty a retreat you can manage, and return to the room at the top of the stairs. You safely reach the other side of the gap. Stealing a quick glance down the perilous drop, you step away from the edge and into the room.

    Safely away from the edge, you take in what remains of the room. Somewhere in the past the roof and walls of the room have been sheared off, along with most of the level above. You carefully shuffle to the edge of the floor where the outer wall has been destroyed and look over the side. Far below the mounds of rubble are piled against the base of the tower.

    Looking around, you guess that the room was originally a sitting room, judging from the decrepit remains of the furniture. You take a moment to move a few long floorboards and fashion a make-shift bridge back to the central corridor. Keeping note of this entry, turn to 95 and put a tick in the box then return here and continue. Having created a serviceable exit path, you weigh up your options. To the north, the damaged remains of an interior wall separate this room from another. Unlike this room, the room to the north is largely intact. The door back to the central corridor is accessible across your newly created bridge.

    The last thing you see as you fall to the ground is a zombie falling hungrily on your body. And they you feel it bite into your exposed flesh and tear of the first of many strips. You skirt along the torn edge of the floor to reach what used to be a room in the north-east of the tower. The wind increases and the rain pounds into your face and hands. Whatever this room was, it is now no more than rubble and debris. You can see remnants of furniture; an upturned chair pokes out of a pile of stone, a tattered carpet flaps in the wind. To the west, you can see into the other room on this floor.

    It contains even more debris that this room, including piled ceiling joists, tiles and tree branches. Do you head back central corridor? You stamp out the various fires that have ignited on your clothes and throughout the room and resolve to be more careful next time you search an object. Keeping note of this entry, turn to 96 and put a tick in the box then return here and continue. With the fires put out, you turn your attention back to the rest of the library. The scattered bones of the skeletons are littered across the floor of the crescent shaped room.

    The circular steps of the dais lead up to a set of stairs in the middle of the south wall. Two sets of double-doors are set in the extreme west and eastern ends of the south wall. Do you take the stairs at the top of the dais? Do you take the double-doors at the west end of the south wall? Do you take the double-doors at the east end of the south wall? Remembering the trap in the floor of this corridor, you carefully edge part way along the corridor.

    As you shuffle along, the floor is layered in a thick coating of some foul emanation. When you come to the location of the trap door, you carefully press yourself against the wall and avoid the nefarious mechanism. With the trap avoided, you continue along to the south end of the corridor. You step around the table and examine each of the corpses. Each appears to have died mid-meal, their plates filled with long-abandoned food, their drinks since evaporated. You leaf through the books and papers that fill these shelves, but find nothing further of interest.

    This small triangular room appears to be what remains of the quarters of a servant. However, the water leaking from the ceiling has ruined all of the contents, leaving only the remains of a wooden sleeping pallet. Do you want to rest here? Go to 4. Do you exit through the door to the north? The last thing you see as you fall to the ground is the boney hands of a skeleton reaching for you, and then the horrid tearing of your flesh begins.

    You approach the desk to investigate its contents. You gather your courage and head down the stairs into the tower's basement. The stairs wind their way down and around deep into the earth beneath the tower. With each step your dread rises at what you will find at the bottom. You hear a sound from behind you and, momentarily distracted, you plummet off the last step and fall out of the bottom of the world.

    As you tumble through the ether, you can confirm that it is indeed - turtles all the way down Cheater, don't come back until you've found the right item. You clamber over debris piled in the entrance of this room. As you reach the top, a flash of lightning illuminates the area, revealing that the pile on which you stand is the elevated lip of a large circular nest. The thunder follows a moment later and wakes the huge Roc that shelters in the middle of the nest.

    The beast catches sight of you and lets out a blood-curdling shriek. Then it launches itself at you. You have climbed into the nest of a Roc. Fearsome Roc. Your final blow leaves the Skeleton Lord and his minions scattered across the floor of the basement. With the death of the undead master of the tower, the great oppression you felt is gone, as if a great weight was lifted from your back.

    You catch your breath for just a moment then examine the Skeleton Lord's stone casket. Inside you find a pouch filled with 10gp and 50sp and a handful of valuable gems, enough to keep you living well for some time. You pick your way carefully along the corridor, careful to avoid the trap door and the piles of animal droppings.

    You use your makeshift platform to cross the gap and reach the central corridor. If the box above is empty, put a tick in it now. If the box was already ticked, go to You come to the remains of the central corridor that once ran from the north to the south of the third floor of the tower. While the interior walls of this level were somewhat intact near the stairs, you can now see that the tower has been sliced diagonally through this level.

    The damage has cut the nearby interior walls all the way to the floor, and a few steps further to the east the floor itself has been torn away. You step closer and look over the edge, first down to the sitting room directly below, then through the damaged floor of that room to the balcony level and entrance hall below that. Dizzy with vertigo, you step back from the precipice and take in the rest of the room. The remains of the interior walls mark out the rooms that once occupied this floor.

    The most intact part of the floor appears to the north-west corner. Do you head north towards the intact rooms? Do you head west back to the stairs? You're in the decrepit sitting room on the second floor of the tower. Most of the original floor of this room has collapsed, leaving a large hole that drops past the balcony level to the entrance hall far below. The ruined wall to the north gives access to an adjacent sheltered room, and your makeshift bridge allows a quick retreat back to this floor's central corridor. Do you go through the damaged wall to the room to the north?

    Do you cross back over the gap to the corridor? With a deft flick of your wrist you unlock the ornate lock. Go to 16 and immediately put a tick in the box, then follow the instructions for the ticked box. The kitchen is covered in a thick layer of animal droppings. A few stirge corpses remain on the floor, but the rest have fled. The only exit from the room is the door in the east wall that leads back out to the corridor.

    Do you return to the corridor through the door to the east? Do you search the room? This room is the tower's library. Two entire walls are taken up with bookcases that overflow with books and stacks of parchments and every spare nook and cranny has been stuffed with rolled up scrolls. An ancient and well-used writing desk is pushed into an alcove in the south wall, its top also covered with papers. A steady drizzle of rain enters this room through a set of stairs in the south-west corner of the room.

    You presume that the stairs once led to the highest floor of the tower, but the damage has sheared off the tower's roof so the stairs now appear to ascend to an open roof floor. Do you go up the stairs? Do you search the bookcase? Do you search the desk? Do you go back through the door to the east? You detect a hint of magic as you approach the desk. Do you go search the desk?

    Do you leave the desk alone? You carefully slide the golden headpiece into the motif in the middle of the door. The piece clicks home and then there is a flash of magic from the honed gap between the doors. With a foreboding silence, the doors swing open revealing a. The carcass of the fierce roc lies where it fell, the rain washing away the evidence of your fight with the beast.

    The great bird's nest fills this room. You carefully climb the stairs from the library up to the top floor of the tower. The steps are slick with rain, and every step threatens to collapse under your weight. Thankfully, you climb without incident and soon you are standing on what used to be the floor of the top level of the tower, but is now open to the sky and the rain-laden clouds. You have entered the nest of a flock of stirges and roused them from their sleep. Blood-Thirsty Stirges. The desk is scorched and smoldering, so you see no point in endangering yourself further by examining it again.

    You are standing at the top of the stairs that reach this level from the floor below. A 40' corridor stretches to the south, two doors are visible at the far end of the corridor, one in each of the east and west walls. Beyond the doors, the outer wall of the tower appears to be damaged. Do you proceed south along the corridor? Do you take the stairs down to the first level? You steel yourself for the revolting job of searching through the muck-covered contents of the room. Do you continue to the bottom of the stairs? Do you retreat back up the stairs?

    If the box is ticked, go to You take a few moments to investigate the gap. You see that there are some wooden beams sticking out of the west wall which you think you could use to cross to the other side of the gap. Alternatively, you think that with a short run-up you could jump clear across the gap and land on the existing floor. To make it across the gap you need to succeed an ability test. You have two options; you can use your strength to try to jump across or you can use your dexterity to climb along the wall.

    If you don't want to attempt to cross the gap, you can return to the corridor. You push open the door and step into the darkened room beyond. Dim light enters the room through a small hole near the ceiling in the south-east corner. The room appears to have once been a kitchen, but the benches and floor are thick with animal droppings. The sound of the rain is softened enough that you can hear a faint rustling and chittering from above you.

    Looking up, you realize that the black shapes on the ceiling are not stains, they're roosting stirges. Before you can back out of the room, one of the stirges shrieks a warning and the air is thick with these parasitic predators. You search through the filthy kitchen, and eventually you find a bucket containing a handful of potion bottles. One of the bottles is full of a thick green syrup that you recognize as a healing elixir. You tuck the bottle into your pocket just in case you need it in the future.

    You have found a Healing Potion 10 HP. You can use this potion at any time. Using it during a combat encounter is a minor action if it is already held in your off hand. If not, you first need to retrieve it with a move action. The potion immediately restores 10 HP, but it will not take you above your maximum Health Points. When you use the potion, you must cross it off from you possessions. You enter the room and immediately notice the large dining table that is the focus of the room. Six ornate chairs are arranged around the table. As you draw closer you see that five of the seats contain desiccated corpses, some have fallen forward into their plates, while others are slumped back with their arms hanging uselessly at their sides and their pewter goblets lying on the floor.

    The sixth seat at the head of the table is unoccupied. The plate and goblet in front of this seat are untouched. Unlike the adjacent sitting room, this room is only partially damaged, with part of the outer wall missing in the southeast corner and the southern interior wall largely collapsed. There is a door in the west wall and access back to the sitting room through the damaged interior wall. Do you examine the corpses around the dining table? Do you go back through the damaged wall to the sitting room to the south?

    You emerge from the front doors of the tower to find that the rain has stopped and the sun is chasing the clouds from the skies. Somewhere nearby you hear the movement of animals in the undergrowth and the buzz of insects. You take a moment to bask in the sunlight, then begin the long journey back to civilization. Congratulations, you have defeated the undead lord of the sundered tower, taken the prized treasure from his claw-like hands and lived to tell the tale. You slump to the ground as one after another the stirges fall on your body and plunge their proboscises into your body and suck the warm blood.

    Skeletal Adventurers The skeletal adventurers lift themselves from the ground and advance as they draw their rusted weapons. Tactics All of the monsters start the encounter Prone. They first use a move action to stand up, and then they follow their normal behavior with their remaining actions. The skeletal adventurers have only basic intelligence, so they follow simple behaviors when trying to attack you. If it cannot move far enough with a single move, it uses its major action to move again.

    V pr Sep 20, Fel rated it really liked it Shelves: paranormal-romance , made-up-world. But overall, i love the awesome relationship and friendship! Jan 03, Syd Dickson rated it liked it Shelves: easy-afternoon-fantasy. Very dark, but I like that. I was a little disappointed to have the story be told mostly from Darin's perspective rather than Erin's, but given that she's a blithering amnesiac for the majority of the book, it makes sense. The story really picks up at the end of this book, and you can tell the next two books will have a much quicker pace. Jan 17, Marajean rated it liked it.

    So far the book went on about Darin's life, the rules that I learned previously are bent all out. Stefanos isn't that great or evil, and Sara has slept for more pages than I care to count. And all of this is leading towards my big payoff of her remembering before they even get together and hating him. Oct 16, Amanda Kern rated it really liked it. Here is the greatest review. It made me cry and it made me laugh. That is all I can say about this book. I mean to go through all that he went through, only for this to happen. Then that part where he realised exactly what he cost himself by doing it, I nearly cried, not even kidding almost cried.

    Well on to book number 3 I guess because like hell I'm stopping now, clearly. Jul 30, Limecello rated it it was ok Shelves: It was a good follow up to the first book. Satisfies the curiosity on what will become of the Sara and Stefanos. Of course the end is still open for more, but as with the first the curiosity is there but not particularly burning.

    Apr 20, Sbuchler rated it really liked it Recommended to Sbuchler by: Diana. Shelves: read-in , scifi-fantasy. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Genre: High Fantasy If the first book in the series was Erin a. In short, if the first book was Sara falling in love with Stefanos, and proving it, this was Stefanos falling in love with Sara and proving it.

    Just for a twist, this book takes place years after the first book, so all the supporting characters are different. I find them more engaging then the first set, actually. Sep 10, Marisa rated it liked it. Liked the story - stayed up all night to finish Children of the blood and sequel Chains of Darkness - however, I gave it just 3 stars because in my view the story could have been told in much less time. So, I just had to know what happened in the end but a good editing job would have made this a great story.

    Believe me, you have to skip through so much of the story that seems extranneous and It was quite annoying to say the least until I got used to it. Once I got used to it I just focused on the settings that I thought were relevant to the core of the story and pretty much skipped the rest. Otherwise, I quite enjoyed the main story. Dec 15, Lela rated it really liked it Shelves: fantasy. It was a great sequel to the first book although some parts of the book had me losing interest. We get to see the First of the Sundered at his most vulnerable and it did get kind of boring at times, with him trying to decide whether or not to give Sara's memory back, and Sara well sleeping or fainting often.

    Maybe because Book 1 had a lot more action and things going on, although to be fair there was a war then and well now the war is over, so it isn't fair to compare the two books. I also reall It was a great sequel to the first book although some parts of the book had me losing interest. I also really liked Darin, so brave and courageous, you'd never guess he was just a young boy. Overall great book and a great ending, will definitely continue this series.

    Sep 11, Mykle Law rated it liked it Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy. Erin of Elliath--now called Sara Laren-- has slept for years, cut from her mortal bonds and her memories by Stefanos's magic, but as Stefanos's power has waned as he has lived by Sara's rules, the power of his rivals has grown, and as Sara awakens to a world in which all of the defenders of Lernan are gone, her life-- and Stefanos's-- may very well be forfeit.

    I had been quite surprised when I did like the first book but this second one made me crazy. Just depressing and redundant thoughts. I had hoped the new character would be able to carry the book but it was not meant to be. Luckily reviewers gave away the endings of the next two books so I got the gist of what happens and that is enough for me.

    Will not continue this series. Oct 07, Mei rated it it was ok Shelves: fantasy-and-science-fiction. I can see this turning into a historic fantastical tragic romance but I find it harder to care for the characters as I do not somehow find them identifiable or appealing notwithstanding their suffering. It is however a worthy book and someone with a longer attention span than my butterfly brain might enjoy it more. Aug 17, Cyn Armistead rated it really liked it. Review of entire series posted under Chains of Darkness, Chains of Light.

    Jul 19, Jake Langthorn rated it really liked it. This review applies to the Sundered Series as a whole. Clearly this is a beginning effort, but already, West shows the imagination that marks her later works. This is terrific stuff. Yes, it is dark, but even with the awkward writing style, it is very powerful. Less intense than the first book and slower.