The Adventures of Annalax: Volume II

dagger_and_cross_gladiator

Last time we left our intrepid Drow Rogue, he had managed to spread the righteous ways of Lolth to a human village, and made off with a Healing Potion and a Vial of Poison. This time? Well, the plot has thickened.

You see, Annalax likes to lodge with fellow Thieves Criminals Ethically Flexible Seekers of Zero Interest Emergency Loans. It’s cheaper. And the kind Smugglers Toll-collectors of this town offered him and the party a deal – lodging in return for helping cart boxes of items through the surrounding forest. What could possibly go wrong? Well, after an encounter with one owlbear, one dryad, three pixies (who turned a Healer into a rabbit), and five blink dogs, we barely had time to grab the loot before the Summer Eladrin turned up. A party member (he who had spent a fair amount of time in cunicular form) found an escape portal, and we departed very, very quickly.

This also allowed the party to progress to Level Four. Annalax promptly grabbed the Magical Initiate feat, which has come in handy since. But I get ahead of myself. It turned out this was a portal into the Dreamworld… and we found ourselves in a large forest. Full of Zoogs, actually, though we got through via gifting them some of the drugs we’d looted from the Smugglers (why, yes, we found a fair quantity of… ethically flexible material). From there, it was up to a city. You see, the party had promised the godlike guardians of the portal that we were on our way to see the Queen of this realm. Annalax doesn’t know anything about the Dreamworld, so he just went along with it.

The stay in the city proved fruitful. Annalax got himself a shortsword (Smuggler’s stockpile), a Bag of Holding (filched), and some books on the Moon (filched), to go with his two bottles of rare wine (filched), and his laxative-infused wildberry cake (don’t ask). We were also lugging around the dead owlbear for quite some time. To unwind, Annalax also took the evening off at the Church of the Bloated Woman – a Dreamworld cult devoted to hedonism and debauchery. Not that Annalax subscribes to hedonism or debauchery. He’s not that sort of Drow. He was just after some chastisement, to set him on the straight and narrow. Ahem.

(Oh, and using a combination of Prestidigitation, Shape Water, and cocaine, he invented this world’s first iteration of Coca-Cola. He only made four gold off it, but it was fun to try).

Once past the city, the party hired an appropriately ethically flexible gentleman to arrange a ship voyage over to see the Queen of Dreamworld. Oh dear. Annalax failed a Constitution saving throw, and ended up sea-sick. Worse, he was still sea-sick (and thus at disadvantage) when magical sea-monsters turned up and attacked. Suffice to say, he did get knocked unconscious at one point – but even that was a mercy, since he was too injured to be affected by the attackers’ vicious fear spell, which screwed with nearly everyone else. The fight is still ongoing, but Annalax can report that he’s put his Magic Initiate spells to good use. Shape Water was used to rescue party members that had ended up overboard, while Fog Cloud has allowed us a safe space to regather. It has basically become a war of attrition at this point, to be continued next week.

Anyway, current stats:

Name: Annalax (Drow Rogue – Arcane Trickster – Level 4)

  • STR: 9
  • DEX: 20
  • CON: 11
  • INT: 15
  • WIS: 10
  • CHA: 12
  • Will Power*: 10

Spells:

  • Cantrips: Mage Hand, Minor Illusion, Parley*, Dancing Lights, Prestidigitation [Magical Initiate], Shape Water [Magical Initiate]
  • 1st Level: Faerie Fire (innate), Disguise Self, Spider’s Kiss*, Dusk Warp,* Fog Cloud [Magical Initiate], Silent Image

*Homebrew.

**

Back to the Annalax Index: https://phuulishfellow.wordpress.com/2021/01/07/the-adventures-of-annalax-a-compendium/

2 thoughts on “The Adventures of Annalax: Volume II

  1. Do delete this if you please Dan! It’s some fanfic I wrote too long ago. Here committed to the blogsphere for the first time

    The Adventures of

    Galadriel and Celeborn

    In Middle-Earth

    Foreword by Holfast Gardner, S.R. 1547

    This tale, which I here commit to writing for the first time, has been a favourite of our family for many years. It was first told by my Aunt Goldilocks who was the third daughter and sixth child of Samwise the renowned. (My father Frodo Gardner was Samwise’s eldest son and second child). In this Foreword I shall recount how it came that Goldilocks learned so much more about these two great Elves than has been told in the famous Red Book.
    Goldilocks was born in the twelfth year of Samwise’s marriage to Mistress Rose and the tenth of the new Age, that is 1431 in the Shire Reckoning. As a tiny child she delighted to hear her father tell of the Elven-lady Galadriel, who lived in a mallorn-tree just like the one in the Party Field. It only increased her curiosity that when he talked of Galadriel, Samwise would sometimes blush and stumble over his words, the more so if Rose was present.
    Goldilocks was rightly named, for she had curling yellow hair like her eldest sister Elanor the Fair. But though Elanor was (for our people) very tall, Goldilocks was small. Nonetheless Goldilocks was as fair of face as Elanor, and she was the darling of the family. Samwise would say in jest that she must be not a hobbit-maid, but an Elf, and he must have brought her back from his travels in his luggage. The joke went farther than old Sam intended though. In her age Goldilocks told me that for many years she really did believe she had been brought from the land of Lorien “in the luggage”, and that she was the daughter of Galadriel herself. But with a child’s ability to invent a secret hurt, many times she cried herself to sleep, believing she must have been given away because she was so small.
    The years passed and infant fancies were forgotten. Then when Goldilocks was seventeen, though still a child in our reckoning, dwelling with Rose, Samwise, and many brothers and sisters at Bag End, a visitor appeared. He came striding up the Hill one afternoon in May when the Sun was westering and the warmth of the day had passed. A tall Man of full age he seemed, for his hair fell in long locks of silver, but he wore no beard. He was straight of back and slender of build, he went bare-headed, and his raiment was a soft tunic which seemed to shimmer grey-green against the bright Spring leaves. By the law of King Elessar no Man was permitted to enter the Shire, but no hobbit dared challenge the stranger. The few who looked up to his face saw that it bore no lines, and those fewer who looked in his eyes saw that they were grey, and they thought of the Sea, though none of the hobbits had ever seen it.
    The stranger tapped on the great round green door of Bag End. Mistress Rose appeared and in confusion curtsied to the tall visitor, more than twice her height. Softly he asked
    “Is this the dwelling-place of Master Samwise the Mayor?”
    ” Yes”, she replied, “but he is out on his rounds a-visiting folk, but we are expecting him back by nightfall.”
    “Then I will wait for him, if I may.”
    “Will you come in and join us for tea, Sir?”
    He smiled and shook his head “Nay.” And with that he turned and strolled back down the Hill toward Hobbiton, but after going a short way he turned into the Party Field which lay next the path. Peeping from behind her mother Goldilocks saw him standing with his back to the declining Sun, his long shadow stretching out on the grass before him, holding out his arms to the great mallorn-tree, and she heard him singing. She thought, “He seems to be saying farewell to it, but how can that be, for he has only just arrived?”
    The children ate their tea, but their usual chatter was hushed. They could not take their thoughts away from the stranger whom they could see from the window of the dining-room (which had once been Bilbo’s parlour). For the convenience of Samwise’s family a small tunnel, leading to a door into the open, had been made at the far end of the great entrance hall. As soon as she could Goldilocks slipped out by this way and crept down the Hill to the Party Field. She stopped some way from the stranger. He seemed not to see her, and still he sang. His voice was sweet, but the words were all in a tongue that was strange to her.
    “Please sir…”
    The stranger fell silent.
    “Please sir, are you a Man?”
    “Nay, but tell, are you one of the children of Master Samwise?”
    “Yes sir, Goldilocks if you please sir”.
    He looked at her for the first time. To Goldilocks’ dismay his face twisted in sorrow and tears welled in his eyes. He recovered himself and said
    “Nay I am no Man, but an Elf, aye an Elf of Lothlorien – maybe you call it the Golden Wood. So I do not break the law of your King”. Now he smiled a little, though still sadly she thought. She drew herself up and said proudly
    “We have heard of Lorien – Lothlorien I mean – in the Shire, and my father went there once, and he met Lady Galadriel. But I never heard of Elves coming to pay a visit, they just walk around at night you know-” She stopped in confusion, for she thought she had been a little too forward. But at the mention of Galadriel the stranger’s face had grown sorrowful again. Again he recovered himself, and he smiled.
    “Why Miss Goldilocks, I am a Sea-Elf. My cousins the Deep-Elves might very well wander in your land without a by-your-leave, but they have no better manners than a Dwarf.”
    Goldilocks recalled her father’s feasting by the Elves under the stars in the Woody End, and also that Samwise had always accounted the Dwarves courteous folk after their fashion. But she saw that the stranger was humouring her, and she decided to change the subject.
    “A Sea-Elf? My father never told me anything about them. What is it like to sail on the Sea? But I thought it was Wood-Elves that lived in Lorien-” Again she stopped in confusion. But the stranger replied
    “It is two long Ages since last I saw the Sea, child. For since the ending of the Elder Days I have dwelt in the woods of Middle-Earth. I am Celeborn who was the lord of Lothlorien, and ere I pass from mortal lands I would tarry a while in this Shire of yours, and I would visit your father. For he has hospitality of mine to return!”
    Now Goldilocks was really in awe, and also frightened. For were not the Good People very particular in exacting the repayment of debts owed to them by mortals? She loved her father but he had been known to speak out of turn. Would he get on the wrong side of Celeborn and end up imprisoned in a tree, or turned into an owl?
    Suddenly, singing a low murmuring song came Samwise himself plodding up the Hill. His eyes were on his path and he did not even look aside to the Party Field until Celeborn called in a clear voice
    “How now Master Samwise?”
    Samwise stopped and his mouth made a great O. “Master Celeborn, if I’m alive! Why, won’t you come into my hole, to Bag End?”
    “I will”, said Celeborn.
    Well, that is all that need be told of the coming of Celeborn to the Shire. Aunt Goldilocks’ fears proved groundless, but, she thought, at least Father had said the right thing for once. Celeborn stayed a few nights in Bag End, but then with help from Samwise he contrived a bower in a sheltered fold of the Hill, for he preferred to sleep under the stars after the Elvish fashion. He stayed all summer and all the following winter. He delighted to teach the Elf-letters to the hobbit children, and to some (especially Goldilocks who remained his favourite) he taught words of the Elven tongue, and they learned many Elvish songs and tales. The hobbit woodwrights and smiths were astonished to find that the great Elf-Lord was a master of many useful trades. Under his guidance two young Brandybucks who were staying at Bag End built a very handy little skiff which they poled and paddled on the Bywater Pool. Before summer was ended they set off in great style down the Water to the Brandywine and Buckland. No local hobbit would have anything to do with these watery goings-on though. What gave greatest pride to Samwise was the instruction that Celeborn was able to give to his cousins the Tighfield ropers. No hithlain could be found growing in the Shire, but flax proved a passable substitute, and for generations after the Tighfield walks were renowned for ropes that were slender, strong, and easy on the hand.
    One day in April there came a rushing West wind with a tang of salt. Celeborn raised his head and breathed deeply, and though he said nothing, the hobbits knew that at last he felt the call of the Sea. None saw him leave, but by the next day his visit seemed only a dream. Whether he ever saw Galadriel again can only be guessed, but a hint of their destinies may be gathered from the story he related to Goldilocks.

    1

    Galadriel and Celeborn plighted their troth in Thingol’s kingdom, Doriath in the lost land of Beleriand, far back in the First Age of the world. Galadriel came of the royal line of the Noldor, that is the Deep-Elves, though in her ancestry she counted both Fair-Elves and Sea-Elves. She was born in the Blessed Land in the light of the Two Trees before ever were seen the Sun or the Moon. After the poisoning of the Trees by the Enemy, Morgoth, she fled Valinor, as did Feanor who led the Rebellion of the Noldor and was half-brother to her father Finarfin.
    Celeborn was of the Sea-Elves, a great-nephew of Thingol.. He would never say whether he had been in Valinor, or whether he was one of those who after the Great Journey had lingered with Thingol on the shore of Middle-Earth, and never passed over Sea. Nor would he tell what part Galadriel had played in the Rebellion. Certain it is though that Galadriel was an Exile and Celeborn willingly joined in her fate.
    In Doriath they played valiant parts in the war to recover Feanor’s Jewels that had been stolen by the Enemy. But after Galadriel’s brother Finrod Friend-of-Men, King of Nargothrond, was killed they lost heart for the war that seemed only a private feud of Feanor’s sons, yet was like to ruin all the kingdoms of Beleriand. So it was that ere Doriath fell they passed East over the Ered Luin into the wide land of Eriador. There they found Dwarves and Men and wandering Elves. Yet while the Darkness remained in the North, few even of the Elves would follow them or be instructed by them, for all folk feared to be drawn into the struggle against Morgoth. Galadriel and Celeborn did not wed, but each pledged to the other that they would do so if ever hope returned to Middle-Earth.
    Beyond expectation the Lords of the West arose in might and in the War of Wrath overthrew the Enemy and cast him out beyond the walls of the world. Eonwe, herald of Manwe, now made encampment in the east of the blue Ered Luin: for Beleriand was drowned, and Ulmo and Osse yet stirred in the Sea, and none knew how the coasts of Middle-Earth would be shaped in the times to come. Yet Eonwe was charged to give judgement on all folk that had survived the War. On a bright day of Spring there came to him Galadriel and Celeborn. They marvelled at the pavilions of the army of the Valar, set about with streaming banners bearing fair devices. Amid a great concourse they met many of their Elven friends and kinsfolk, but they missed many more who had been dispatched to the Halls of Mandos. Here also were grim warrior-men, sad matrons and pale maids, seeking assuagement of their suffering and loss in the terrible War. They came to a great throne made of green turves, but it was empty, but on a low step before it sate Eonwe clad in mail of shining silver. And as Galadriel and Celeborn took thought how they should make their address, another stepped before them.
    “Hail Eonwe! May I, a penitent, approach thee?”
    The speaker made a mighty figure, though whether he was Man or Elf could not be told, for he was girt in black armour even to a great helm which covered over his head. Eonwe replied sternly “Uncover yourself, and speak your name.”
    With that the giant cast off his helm and armour and lo! he was fairer of face than any mortal, his hair was shining gold, and he was clad in flowing robes of white. In a voice thrilling and low he said “I am he who is reborn, he who has cast off the Shadow.” He passed his hand over his face, and seemed to brush tears from his cheek. “Gorthaur they named me”.
    A whisper went around the crowd. “Gorthaur, the Abhorred – Sauron we called him, lieutenant of Morgoth – how many died in his accursed dungeon? – can this be he?”. For none had seen that fair countenance before.
    But Eonwe said “Well do we know your name, Gorthaur, and the tale of your misdeeds. We have it on good report, you defended your fortress on the river-isle Tol Sirion until the deluge, and you were drowned with your evil folk.”
    “My folk are not here to answer. But as for me, aye, Lord Osse overcame me, and I perished, as you would say.”
    “How then came you to be reborn?”
    “By the grace of the Valar!”
    “You need not their grace, for shame though it be you are accounted one of the Maiar.” (These immortal spirits, of whom Eonwe himself was one, had power of their own will to clothe themselves in new flesh if ever their bodily form was destroyed). “So revenant, say what has passed between you and the Lords in the West.”
    Gorthaur knelt and held out his arms in supplication. “I perished, I slept, I awoke, I was reborn. I found myself as you see, cast up on the strand. I heard the prompting of a voice, as it were Lord Manwe himself, saying ‘Seek Eonwe and ask for his judgement’. And I do ask for judgement. For I was evil and I did evil.”
    Galadriel had listened intently. The spectacle and the words seemed part of a great show in which she had earned a part. But at Gorthaur’s last plea there came into her mind the thought, ‘He tells truth, he was evil and maybe he still is. That which is evil can perceive that which is good, but evil it remains’. Horror clasped her throat like a strangler. She felt a touch as if it were Pity drawing gentle fingertips past her cheek, but she shook it aside, and drew in her shoulders and bowed her head and let despair well up from her heart. For, she thought, what had the struggle been for if not to vanquish Evil and make it as if it had never been? But here after the triumph of Good was Evil incarnate, defeated and a supplicant but unchanged in its nature. She glanced at Celeborn beside her and she saw that his thought was the same, and she had comfort from that.
    The day was breezy and changeable, and as Galadriel looked again at Gorthaur a few drops of rain settled on his face. Suddenly it seemed to her that the skin contained no living flesh. Rather, the wind and the rain were more substantial than what lay within, as if the great world had made for itself an integument to wall off a part of the Void.
    Eonwe regarded Gorthaur impassively. But Gorthaur continued “I ask for judgement. I am in your hands. You know all my history. I make no excuse save only that I served a will greater than my own. But I would atone. Yea, great service can I render to Man and to Elf -”
    “Silence!” cried Eonwe. “I will give you my judgement and I will give you its reason also. Think not you can deceive me. Well do I see the evil that remains in you. No atonement will amend the evil, nor can it be cleansed by any power or any punishment in Middle-Earth. Yet maybe it can be cleansed. I give you this choice. You can join your master beyond the Door of Night, never to return. Or you can pass, body and mind, into the farthest West. But beware, its light will burn and torment your body and if you are truly beyond saving, the torment will be forever.”
    Gorthaur stood again, and looked levelly at Eonwe. “I choose the West”. His mouth twitched and he seemed almost to smile. “How then shall I be brought there?”
    “Silence again! Take him” And at Eonwe’s bidding Gorthaur was led away. Loth were any of the Army to lay their hands on him, but none needed to, for he made no resistance. He was taken to a Dwarf-mine that lay abandoned not far away, and they blocked it with great stones, and they made shift to feed him by lowering provisions by a narrow shaft from above.
    Now commenced many days of feasting and revelry. Each morning Eonwe gave happier judgements and rewards. A great part of the Edain, Men who had been steadfast against Morgoth, chose to depart over Sea to a great Isle, Elenna, that had been raised for them. To the surviving Elves of Beleriand he remitted their Exile, and offered safe passage to the further isle Tol Eressea, “for”, he said, “that is nigh to Valinor, and I doubt not in time you will be allowed to come to the Blessed Land itself”. But some of the Elves, and the greater Noldor especially, declined to leave Middle-Earth. These were Elven-Lords who had purposed even before the revolt of Feanor to make realms of their own in the Great Lands. They believed their sojourn with the Valar had been but a period of tutelage. It must be Iluvatar’s will, said they, that their arts and manners should enrich Middle-Earth and its yet barbarous folk. “As to that”, said Eonwe, “the will of Iluvatar is not known to you or to me and it is impious to claim it for your enterprise. Yet I will permit it. Yet return into the West is allowed only for this time, and long it may be before you receive a like offer again. In short, if Exiles you were, Exiles you will remain.”
    Galadriel and Celeborn chose to stay in the Great Lands. But Eonwe showed them many marks of love and friendship, and at Galadriel’s request, he married them.
    Now all was done, and the Army of the Valar prepared to return into the West. They came to the Dwarf-mine and they rolled aside the great stones and they passed within. There was a stale smell, but it came from the provisions which had been lowered, but which had been cast about uneaten. And on the floor lay a pile of white rags, but of Gorthaur there was no trace.
    “It is as I feared”, said Eonwe. “He dwells now in the Shadow-World. Well, my judgement has gone amiss. Yet of the two choices I offered, one will be his fate. He cannot again return in body, except by the aid of the Valar, and that can only be if he wishes to be cleansed. But he may yet return as a phantasm.”
    Galadriel exclaimed “The Shadow-World! He is with his master already then!”
    “Nay. The Night into which Morgoth has been cast is Outside. The Shadow-World is Inside. It is inside every stone, behind every leaf, and it is inside us too. But those that dwell in Shadow have power only through such agents as they may find who yet live in the world of light.”
    Galadriel was doubtful, and would have asked more. But Eonwe seemed to grow distant, and he turned his head as if he heard far Elf-horns calling, and in the twinkling of an eye he and all the Army of the Valar were gone, and on the hillside were left standing only the Exiles.

    2

    Galadriel and Celeborn took counsel with the other high Elf-Lords, with Gil-Galad heir of Finarfin and Celebrimbor grandson of Feanor, Cirdan the shipwright and Elrond half-elven. Gil-Galad and Cirdan purposed to dwell by the sea-shore, and there make a haven and build ships by their Elven-craft, so that they might delight themselves by voyaging, and they reckoned also to hold the southward coasts in fee. Celeborn the Sea-Elf might have stayed with them, but Galadriel’s desire was otherwise. Now at last she could follow the wish of her heart and explore the Great Lands, mountain and forest, and seek a place wherein to make a realm after her own design. A garden and bower she desired to plant, like to Lorien the garden of dreams in Valinor, but greater and more mysterious, a plot for secret makings that would take ages to unfold. Celeborn must needs follow, and with them went Celebrimbor and many others of the Noldor.
    On a time they tarried by a lake of dark water set among bare rounded hills. Often toward sunset the last rays painted the hills russet red and the lake captured a deep blue from the sky. They named it Nenuial, Water of Evendim. One autumn day as twilight fell, Galadriel stood gazing over the water. Dusk deepened and a mist spread over the lake. On a sudden Celebrimbor stood by her side. He held up his hand, and she saw on it a ring that she had not marked before. A plain band of silver it seemed, though of uncommon lustre.
    “Will it please you to breathe on the ring, Lady?” said Celebrimbor.
    “Breathe on it?” she said mistrustfully. For she knew that Celebrimbor loved her, though her heart was entirely her husband’s.
    “Aye, only breathe. It is but a fancy to amuse you.”
    She blew gently on the ring. In the chill air her breath streamed in a white vapour, though to Celebrimbor its touch was wondrous warm. He turned toward the lake and waved his hand and murmured soft words as of a spell. To Galadriel’s wonder, the mist gathered itself into shapes of white horses bearing pale warriors. They galloped hither and thither until, as it seemed, by the very fury of their rout they dissolved into ragged tatters and nothingness.
    “Whence came the ring?”
    “The ring is of my own forging. But the metal is mithril, truesilver. It was mined by the Dwarves of Hadodhrond, that they name Khazad-Dum.”
    “I know you, Celebrimbor. You are subtle in making. Trinket you may pretend it is, but I doubt not this ring is an essay in an art of great worth. Now I command you, in the name of friendship which I have never withheld from you, open your mind to me!”
    Celebrimbor smiled. “Very well. In we of the Elven folk, and most of all those who have dwelt in the Blessed Land, there is virtue to rule

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