The Minas Elen Chronicles
By: Arjan Wardekker
Genre: Fantasy, Roleplaying
This is the story of Gildor of Elenor, High Elven king of Minas Elen.
Minas Elen is a small Elven kingdom in the Ered Elen, a large area with high, snow-covered mountains. The kingdom itself lies in a hidden valley, connected to the rest of the world only by a small pass, known as the Trollbattle Pass. The city of Minas Elen is hidden in the woods of the valley.
Minas Elen was founded in ancient days by a High Elven king named Minastar who's nation, the nation of Elenor, was seeking refuge after the Morquendi, the Dark Elves, had destroyed his homeland at the end of the Dark Years. Minastar was born after the war with the Morquendi in times of great need. The nation was seeking a new and safe place to live, but they found nothing but trouble. At Minastar's birth an old Seer, named Orodin, predicted that this child was the one to lead the Elves to a new and safe home. He was to build a strong and high tower, a tower that would reach for the stars, here and this tower would be a simbol to the Elves. Therefore he was named Minastar, meaning "Tower-Maker". When he and his nation reached the Trollbattle Pass, they encountered a large number of trolls living there. After a long and hard battle the trolls were defeaten and Minastar named the pass the Trollbattle Pass. The day of the battle has become a special day to the Minas Elen Elves. A day to celebrate our freedom and to remember the Elves who died in that battle. Minastar moved into the valley, in which few had ever ventured, made it his new homestead and build the city and tower of Minas Elen, meaning "Tower of the Stars" as the seer had predicted, to be a strong fortress which, in times of war, could stand against the forces of the Morquendi. Fortunately, these Dark-Elves never showed up.
The Minas Elen Elves live mostly of what the forest, the mountains and the small streams in the area have to offer. Because of that we have become highly skilled hunters and rangers and are master-archers. We also have great blacksmiths who provide us with the finest swords, spears, axes and arrowheads that Arda has ever seen. These Elves are well taught in both a normal smith's work and magic. They make the Macil Aranion, the magical swords which are used as a seal for the Kings of Minas Elen. Every King of Minas Elen recieves a sword, especially created for him, at his crowning. The Kings can identify themselves through holding the sword: when these swords are held by their rightfull owner, the blade will glow. This is because a part of the King's soul is incorporated in the sword. How this is done remains the best kept secret of the Elven smiths. When the King's willpower is great enough he will even be able to make the sword give a great flash, blinding all foes who look at it.
When a King leaves Minas Elen for the Undying Lands or dies, his eldest child will be the new King or Queen. I, Gildor of Elenor, was born as the son of King Arantar and queen Vanimeldë. King Arantar, a brave and noble man, was slain by the dragon Urulókë, while protecting his nation from this creature. I was crowned to be the youngest King of Minas Elen, being a youngster only 170 years of age. I received my sword, named Elenion Ancalima, which is one of the two remaining Macil Aranion. I married an Elven Lady named Ardamírë and three years later she bore me a son who we named Tarannon. Unfortunately my wife died while giving birth to Tarannon.
Suddenly I awoke. This weren't the Undying Lands! Were was I? It had been to alive to be a dream, but I did die. I tried to move my head so I could see were I was, but every movement I made caused a lot of pain. After a few minutes, although they felt like hours, I was able to turn my head. I saw an old man sitting on a chair near the bed I was laying on. He smiled and suddenly I recognized him. It was Meldanor, the wizard. What was he doing here? I tried to speak, but it hurt too much. Meldanor smiled again and said: "Don't try to speak. You must rest first. I will go now and bring my guests the good news." After I had slept a while I awoke again. Meldanor was standing near my bed and said that I should get myself ready to receive some guests.
After doing so, the door opened again and Meldanor and a group of strange people came into the room. Meldanor introduced me to them. I asked Meldanor: "Who is that beautiful lady? I can see she is of Elven blood." Meldanor told me that she was Boadicea, a Half-Elf. According to Meldanor she was the one that had saved me.
I thanked Boadicea many times and she suddenly kneeled before me and kissed my hand. You can imagine how surprized I was. She blushed and stood up again. The other people in the room began to introduce themselves. There was a Gnome who bowed for me and said that he was Ignadus, a Gnome druid from the Borial Forest, who was on a quest to return an object named Jingjissu. This object's current owner was Morion, the same wizard who had taken my kingdom. A silent human who didn't look very trustworthy nodded and told me that he was Andrea Leon, the son of a man named Fructise. Hearing that name I looked him straight in the eyes. I knew that name, but I couldn't recall who he was. I suddenly realized that much of my memory was gone. Andrea Leon asked me if I knew his father and I answered that I somehow knew the name, but couldn't recall anything else. The fifth person in the room was a human who looked very strong. He told me that he was Newdon, a man who was both a warrior, a physician and a smith. "What a remarkable combination," I said. Newdon just smiled. There also was a dog moving about the room of which Ignadus told me it was his dog and that its name was Fokkie.
Meldanor told me that if I was ever to free my people I should best pay a wizard named Bron a visit. He said that Bron lived on a remote mountain top in the Ered Elen. I was to travel with Boadicea and the other people and Meldanor was to stay in his tower. My own equipment had been destroyed in the battle and even my sword, Elenion Ancalima was gone so a only a short sword and a bow with some arrows which had probably once belonged to one of Morion's servants were to be my weapons.
At first we could travel on a small track over tree-covered hills. In the distance we could see the peaks of the Ered Elen. Accourding to our map Bron lived in an area in which even I had never ventured. I wondered how he could live in such a remote part of the world. How could he provide himself with food in those conditions? Nothing would grow on the rocky soil and in the cold at those altitudes. He probably accuired his food through magic, but then how was it possible that I had never heard of him?
"It was quite shocking when I found you. I had never seen a battlefield before and seeing all of those bodies gave me the creeps," she said, "when I finally had gathered the gutts to take a closer look I saw you laying there and I realized that Meldanor could probably still save you." "Meldanor said he could do so indeed, but he needed me to get Eekhoorntjeskruid, some kind of herb I could find at the market in Dunékàr. I went to a lot of perils to get there, but it was certainly worth the trouble," she continued smiling.
Boadicea continued: "It was in Greenoak that I met Newdon. I was getting a drink in the inn and he sat at the only table where there was a chair left. We talked to him a little, but when he insulted me I slapped him in the face. When I hit him he did a backward salto. I couldn't believe my eyes!" "Whe had some trouble there with the bartender by the way: I got a free drink but I tried to walk out of there with the glass. The guy didn't like that I guess.... so I just through the glass on the floor. After doing that I had to run for my life."
"The road back was much easier. We got back to you and Meldanor quite soon and fortunately he was able to raise you from the dead again," she said. "It is getting a little dark already and I'm tired." We decided to put up camp and wait till the next morning.
The following day we got up early and travelled further along the track. We made less speed now, because the slopes were getting steeper and steeper. Boadicea and I had led the group for a couple of hours, talking about the events of the past few weeks. At noon we were suddenly confronted with three nasty looking types with their weapons drawn. I tried to start a reasonable conversation with these men, like "Hello, how are you?", but apparently this wasn't quite appreciated. Two of these men started to swing swords at my head and the other made use of his bow. We realized that these types were after our money, that is for as far as we had any....
Getting ever further into the mountains, we realized that our current clothing was far from sufficient to bear the cold heights of the Ered Elen. After a quick discussion we made camp and Ignadus and I started hunting. After a while I heard Ignadus shouting. I walked in the direction of the noise and found Ignadus who had just entangled a deer. Realizing that this animal's skin would prove usefull when converted to a coat. After my arrow had pierced the poor animal's head we cut it loose and I, being a very strong Elf, carried it back to the campsite.
The road got heavier and heavier. After climbing yet another steep mountain side, we reached a large glacier. Knowing we had to get to the other side and that the only way to reach that goal was through crossing the glacier, we started the dangerous trip. Slowly moving across the large field of ice I felt very uneasy. I knew that something bad was going to happen and only minutes later Boadicea vanished in front of my eyes. Before me was a large gap in the ice and looking in it, all I saw was darkness.
We ventured further into the corridor we had found and we reached a large room. Knowing this a hand-made place could only mean trouble, we drew our weapons and moved around silently and very cautious. The only things in the room were some rotten remains of what once were tables, a few heaps of stones against the walls and a large door. After opening the door I couldn't believe my eyes. There were six armed skeletons wandering at the other side! How could dead people still move? I wasn't granted much time to think this over as these skeletons came running towards us immediately. These creatures apparently didn't like Elves: I had moved back into the room and all six of them ran after me. This did gave Boadicea and Ignadus a chance to trow fireballs at the things and after a quick fight we had slain them all. The question of why those skeletons were there at all remained. Maybe we could have found out in the corridor. At the end of the corridor was another door. As soon as we openend it Boadicea casted a fireball in the room behind the door. All we could see was a burning chest.... the answer might have been there.
We examined every corner of the room, but found nothing. There was no way back and the creator of this place, who ever he or she was, must have had some kind of entrance. We decided to have a closer look at the first room. After long hours of labour we discovered that behind one of the piles of stones against the wall there was a small corridor. Having no other option but to go that way, we walked down the corridor. It was not long before we noticed a strange smell. The smell grew horrible and with an uneasy feeling we strode on.
We reached a small and lovely valley. According to our map we had to cross this valley and climb the mountain on the other side. The wizard Bron should live on the summit of that mountain. So we descended among the trees. I felt happy being in a valley which was quite like my homelands. Thinking of how the clear streams ran across the slopes of the Minas Elen valley and about them doing likewise in this place, I realized that I was really longing for home. As the memories of my fellow elves ran through my mind, I was confronted with a scene that wasn't quite like home.
We assembeled down the slope again and set off immediately. In order to avoid any other meetings with the stone-golem, we took the 'tourist route' towards the mountain we had to climb. After walking for several hours we reached it and started the last step of our journey to Bron. The only problem was that the slope we had to climbe was completely vertical. As I have lived in these mountains for all my life, I took the lead with Andrea Leon right behind me. That poor fellow clearly showed his lack of mountaineering experience as he completely forgot to secure his rope after every few feet. He repeatedly fell down quite a distance and that must have hurt. After I had completed the climb and after I managed to get Andrea Leon up to we realized that we had to pull the others up. They didn't stand a chance against the cliff, because they were far less agile than we were. It took a lot of time to get them up the cliff to and when we had succeeded in doing so, we put up camp on the ridge we were on now.
In the room we found an old man. "Are you the wizard Bron?" I said. "Yes," the old man replied. "I know what you are here for, but there isn't enough time for me to help you. Morion has used Jingjissu against me to," Bron said. "If you should ever fight Morion and his servants, make sure you are armed with weapons of magic. Put the crystal globe on the stone on the table and find those magical weapons!"
When I woke up I saw only leaves above me. I was laying in a forest. My companions were not far off and as I quickly got to my feet and readied my bow, they came running towards me. "What has happened?!" was Ignadus' first remark. Of course no one knew. We cautiously walked on through the forest until the evening and put up camp. The following morning we walked on and after a few hours we heard some noise. Hidden in small bushes we slowly moved closer until we could see a tree fall down. Still remembering our previous encounter with falling trees, we feared for another stone-golem. Nevertheless we continued and we heard a sudden shout: "Timber!" Another tree fell down.
Standing at the gate of Cerm, we were confronted with some gatekeepers in a bad mood. We managed to get them to let us in, but that wasn't easy. They said we were a really strange band of people and that these were dangerous times, with the war and all. Maybe they even thought that Ignadus was a goblin spie. He sure has the right size to be a goblin and there aren't that many gnomes in this area. When Ignadus insulted the guards, they got really angry and kicked him away. But anyway we got in and entered the nearest inn.
The following morning we went shopping. We needed to sell the weapons and equipment we got from the enemies who we had met on our way. Those profits were a welcome thing. Because I had more money now, I was able to buy a nicely decorated extra large quiver which was worthy of being carried by an Elf like me. Of course this thing still was a very simple thing compared to the quivers we Elves make, but I was the best I could get in the lands of the mortal men.
Hungry for information of were the magical weapons were, we visited several taverns. According to the locals, the best chance of finding anything at all would be the nearby Goblin temple. Nobody seemed to really know where that temple was. Walking into an inn I found a paladin sitting lonely at a table. I bought him a beer and he started talking. He introduced himself as Gambar. I realized that he might be a usefull asset to my compagnie. Andrea Leon and Newdon joined our coversation and we managed to convince him to join us. We exchanged quite a lot of drinks so I don't really remember why he wanted to join so quickly.
Leaving my compagnions alone at the inn in the evening, I went out to search the town for someone who might know were the Goblin temple was to be found. As inns and tavers usually are the best place to look for information, I visited several of those locations. These mortals seem to be very fond of beer, as it was drunk in abundance. In many locations in the backstreets of Cerm there were small fights. At last I found a small tavern in which there were less fighting people. I walked in and tried to see anything through the dense smoke. There were a few men who looked like rangers sitting at a table. As these mortals were probably colleagues and they would probably know a lot about the surroundings of Cerm, I offered them a beer. We talked about our common profession and everyday life in and round Cerm. One of the men, a middle-aged man, named Bransar certainly was a ranger and quite an experienced one to. I offered him to be our guide to the Goblin temple and help us raid it. We agreed that he would help us for a reasonable amount of gold. We were to meet him at the City Hall at sunrise.
I slept well that night, knowing that we would finally make some progress in the battle for my kingdom, already forseen in the Seventh Prophecy of Orodin the Seer as the Battle of the Stars. I got up early, had a great meal and waited for the others to get their sleepy heads out of their rooms. When they had finally had breakfast and were ready to leave, we sped to the City Hall and found Bransar already waiting for us. We wasted no time and left the city right away.
After about a day's walk we were confronted with a group of Goblins and a group of Orcs, who were trying to slay eachother. We hid ourselves in the bushes near the battlefield and watched the event. The poor Goblins didn't stand a chance against the much stronger and better equipped Orcs. After all Goblins were reduced to bloody heaps of flesh and bone, the Orcs left. We waited for several minutes and moved to the dead Goblins with great caution. A few bad quality swords and arrowheads were laying there and we took them with us. Maybe some weaponsmith in Cerm would give us a little gold for them. We gathered and talked about how to avoid unwelcome confrontations with Goblins and Orcs, as there were probably much more of them roaming around.
Yet another day further on our quest, Bransar told us that we were nearing the location of the Goblin temple. Cautiously we moved to the edge of the forest. Before us wide fields of grass stretched out to the horizons at the west and at the east of us. To the north we saw a heavily fortified town, the high wooden walls heavily patrolled by small figures. A road, only a few yards away, crossed a creek which flowed from the fields into the forest. Behind the Goblin town, about half a mile away, we saw a huge cleft rise like a giant's big toe. It looked to be very high against the flatness of the fields, though it was only a pebble compared to great Mount Eversun, back home in the Ered Elen. The memory of the beautifullness of the mountains of my homeland, forced me to sing one of the sad songs, which make our Elven music so beautifull.
The Song of Eversun:
"When the sun rose over the rim of the mountains,
"O great Mount Eversun, towering high above the clouds,
"Many have perished in the Dark Years,
"From your summit the Cry of Elenor will be heard,
"This song will remember the greatness of Orodin,
Just in time, Bransar urged me to stop singing. A group of Goblin hunters came hopping around a corner of the road. We hid ourselves among the bushes and talked about what we should do. We decided to have a nice conversation with them, because they might be able to give us lost of usefull information about the town. As we walked out of the bushes to the Goblin party, they were very impressed by my appearance and panicked. The Goblins, all of them armed with short bows, randomly fired in our direction. I readied my bow and fired an arrow, slaying five of the seven Goblins in a single shot. My friends then attacked the two Goblins left, slaying one of them at great difficulty and knocking the other one unconscious. We tied the Goblin to a tree, some yards away from the road and waited for him to regain consciousness.
The next day, Gambar and Andrea Leon returned with Newdon. The priests in Cerm had healed him sufficiently to return to the glorious battlefields. They also returned another of my friends. Ignadus was walking right behind them, tied to a rope. An old dog was walking right beside him. Andrea Leon told us that they had found Ingadus near Cerm and lassoed him at the spot, because he'd probably not come with them if they hadn't done so. Ignadus seemed to have some differences with several members of my party.
Now, with the party complete again, we could finally try to get to the temple. Of course, a direct assault would be unwise, considering the huge amount of little, though heavilly armed, green fellows walking about the place. Someone did come up with a nice sceme. As Ignadus was about the same size as a Goblin, we would make him sneak into the town. The only problem was that Ignadus wasn't green. Bransar brought the solution to that. He knew quite a lot about the local herbs and he found us a certain plant that could be turned into a green, paint-like substance. Before he could object, Ignadus was as green as a Goblin. Bransar tought him several words in Goblin, that might keep him out of trouble. At least, that is what we thought.
It took several tries for him to gather some usefull information. He told us that there were some large builings, where the city chiefs lived and he told us where the temple was. The priests also seemed to be in control of the town's water supply. We considered to somehow make sure they couldn't drink it anymore, but Ignadus told us that they could easily get water from the creek nearby. To just try anything at all, I sneaked out there, within bowshot of the town. Ignadus had told me that all of the houses were made of wood. So I dripped several arrows in an oil that would burn, I lighted the arrows and shot them over the walls. Overall confusion was the result. A large host of Goblins ran out of the gate to the place where I had been during my attack. Of course I had been as smart to let this place be far away from the gate and I was long gone when they got there.
It was a certain, unfortunate moment in time, when Ignadus was again among the Goblin tribes, when movement occured in the woods. From our hiding places, we could see a great host of Orcish warriors approach the Goblin town. Many a siege engine they carried with them. It was clear that they would besiege the town and that they were determined to carry it on until the last Goblin was slain. From our hiding place in the woods, we looked over the fields, watching the battle take place. For hours on end, we watched, being worried about Ignadus' ill fate.
He started telling what had happened with him, during his stay under Orcish siege. Apparently, Ignadus had been forced to fight with the Goblins against the Orcs. He tried to get out of the dangerous situation on the town walls several times, but he always got into troubles with the shamans, that were leading and guarding the ordinary troops. Being roasted by several lightning bolts and hit by some Orcish arrows, he had finally been able to hide himself. Ignadus tried to sneak to the temple to see if he could sneak into it and get the magical weapons. When he reached the temple, he saw a group of pupil-shamans, guarding the place, while the other shamans were gone. Unfortunately for him, they saw him to. Angrily their leader came to and summoned him to go back to the walls. Ignadus tried to run for it, followed by lightning bolts. He managed to run into an alley and the Goblins ran past it.
We went back to our camp and started gathering food. Ignadus and myself went deer-hunting and Gambar went fishing in the creek. I returned with Ignadus and enough deer to feed us. On my return, I found much confusion in the camp. Gambar seemed to have caught a really weird fish. The creature, now trapped within a water-filled pot, was brightly colored. Boadicea informed Ignadus and me that the fish could even talk. I took a good look at it, and his eyes betrayed some form of intelligence.
We noticed Boadicea coming back from washing herself in the creek. She had a strange look in her eyes and her head was glowing red. Her behaviour showed us that she was clearly not at ease. Whe asked her what was wrong, and after a while, she confessed that she had eaten the fish and had also caused the crate to fall down. I, being utterly amazed, asked her if she was allright and what had happened to her. She was left no time to answer, though, as Gambar unsheated his sword and started running towards her, screaming furiously.
Upon seeing this, I fearlessly ran towards the paladin and smashed him to the ground. I, Gildor of Elenor, the noble hero, had saved the beautiful maiden from sudden death at the hands of this monster! When Gambar regained consciousness, we talked it over as men and he cooled down. Boadicea explained that the fish had appearantly given her some special skills, but she wouldn't reveal what these skills might be. Somehow, I felt them to be connected to our previous unexpected guest, the crate.
The location wasn't very far from our campsite. We reached the place in only a day's travel. Upon reaching the designated spot, we looked around, but all we could see, were trees, trees, and the ground beneath our feet... Clever thinking again was our help and as we started podding in the ground with our swords, we found a strange area, where the soil didn't react as expected. We digged our way down, until we reached a couple of wooden bars and a piece of rope attatched to it.
The corridor lead us to the north, slightly downward, in the direction of a small hilltop. The corridor was clearly manmade, as the floor was smooth. It wasn't long before we reached a sideway. Ignadus told us that he had a bad feeling about the sideway, so we decided to take it. It lead us to the west. After we had walked about a 100 yards, a huge rock appeared in the dim light of our torches. A dead end. Some extra torches were lit and we examined the rock closely. It was not a piece of the wall, and clearly hewn by skilled hands, so it might be possible for the corridor to continue, behind this thing. We tried about everything to get rid of it, but the rock remained in place. Ignadus even cast a fireball on it, but the only result was that the rock now had a large black spot on it.
We were amazed that a small Gnome, a creature with legs so small that we regularly made fun of it, could run that fast... We were truly amazed, even more when we saw the difference with the huge boulder that rolled right behind Ignadus in the corridor. As we managed to pick up our jaws, that had fallen to the floor out of amazement, we realized that the boulder wasn't only huge, especially in comparison to Ignadus' tiny legs, but that it was also rolling straight towards us.
We entered a small but beautifully decorated room, carvings in every granite wall. A lovely marble pillar stood in the middle of the room and a in the light of our torches brightly glittering object lay upon it's upper side. Who would put such a treasure in a place like this, I wondered. Fearing it to be a trap, I courageously eliminated the main threat. I grabbed the Gnome and prevented him to storm for the "glitterstone", as he would put it. Then, something none of us had expected happened. Boadicea ran towards the object, screaming with all the lady's grace that was left in her, she informed the world "It's mine!" and grabbed the stone.
Lady Luck must have been smiling down on us, when we finally got the thought to look at the ceiling. There, there was our escape! A simple rope-ladder, just beyond our reach, hung from a small platform above. We only need to get to it, somehow.
"Wasn't this platform supposed to be above ground?" said a faint voice inside my head. We had lost all sense of hight. It was sure that we were quite high now, but I couldn't see anything to act as a reference. The small corridor that led from the platform, was going down steeply, we presumed in northerly direction. A sharp turn to the left followed after several hundreds of meters and many more of those meters followed. The corridor was less steep now. This part of the journey had taken quite a lot of time, watching out for any more of those nasty surprises, often referred to as "traps", that were designed by a person with a sick sense of humor.
As we silently moved on, avoiding any touching the walls, we heard someone smashing against a door. It was our mine-buster, Ignadus, who had somehow managed to walk against a huge, closed, oakenwooden door in the wall. Ignadus tried to crush the door, aparently by smashing his head into it. I pulled the door open for him, so he wouldn't hurt himself more that would do the party good. We stared into a black corridor, hearing a faint murmer further away.
We moved in, feeling the adventurers' strange need to investigate strange events. As we drew nearer, the murmer grew louder, words could be heard, words in a strange language. We ended up in a small cavern, dimly lit by torches and candles. They spread an eerie light over a large statue, that took up most of the far side of the room. The dark mass, vaguely resembling something like a spider, with huge, empty, staring eyes. Shivers ran across my back, when I looked it in the eyes.
"But Halflings are friendly people... they won't hurt us," said Ignadus when we directed a flow of very unfriendly words to his head. "No, normally they would probably let us live, but you've just robbed one of their shrines. Now we'll see how unfriendly they can get," was Boadicea's reply.
In a desperate attempt, I looked to the ceiling. And again, the ceiling proved to be our way out. A hatch was clearly visible. Why didn't we take a look above our heads a little sooner? We always seem to find the way out to be a quite easy one, but we have a really hard time finding it. We tried to open the hatch, which was easy, and a rope-ladder fell down. We threw Ignadus up, in the room above, and we waited for possible explosions. No explosion followed, so we climbed up, just in time. Arrows flew all around the place and some of us were hit. We cut off the rope-ladder and pulled it up. The Halflings could not reach us now... we were safe.