What does this week hold for the pint-sized adventurers? Vote on this week's poll, follow along on Gibbi the Hobbit's in-character portrayal and read my impressions of how the game has been going so far, all after the jump.
"Are you quite certain we're in the right area?" Feldalor asked. The elf never did quite trust Hobbits for anything but making delicious baked goods, and he feared that their sense of direction was lacking a bit.
"Yes yes," Gibbi barked. "It's an enormous mountain, how could we possibly miss it?"
The truth is, the five hobbits and the elf were stumbling their way through the barren hills of the Lone-lands for hours now. The sky was overcast on that warm summer night, so neither stars nor the moon would help guide their way.
"The kind men at the Forsaken Inn told us to look for the ranger at the foot of the mountain," Binkylo added. "It's just too dark to see our own feet, let alone a mountain's!"
While recovering at the infamous Forsaken Inn earlier in the day -- their wounds cured by several pints of ale -- the group once again joined in on the conversations of fellow travelers. The Lone-lands were an exciting area for Gibbi, for he had never seen such desolation and lack of foliage. It seemed like such an evil place, almost as much as those cursed Barrow-downs. Luckily, Gibbi had not come across any walking dead, yet.
The bar patrons seemed more rugged than those they'd seen at the Prancing Pony, and their stories were more harsh, like the landscape. Gibbi had been told that the patrons of the Prancing Pony were mostly glory-hounds, out for some sympathy and a quick copper piece for their tales. Those at the Forsaken Inn though -- they were real adventurers.
One particularly intriguing story involved a ranger named Candaith who was supposedly busy fighting the Orc advancement near a mountain called Weathertop. Candaith preferred to do everything by himself, which was no concern to his fellow rangers, who knew he could handle himself quite well. Yet, even as Candaith remained a living legend to the regulars at the Inn, they still feared his demise. See, Candaith hadn't been seen for weeks, which was very unlike him.
So, as you may have already guessed, Gibbi and the Massive Hobbits kinship agreed to find Candaith and return with word of his progress against the Orcs. The trouble is, their excitement got the best of them and they soon found themselves lost in the Weather Hills, searching for Weathertop in the darkest of dark nights.
"Look! Over there!" Puckric whispered. "It's a fire. A campfire, perhaps!"
The group crawled through some bushes and trees in what appeared to be one of the only parts of the area with vegetation. Off amongst the trees, in a clearing, was what appeared to be a man poking around in a campfire. The man seemed aware of their presence, although he wasn't facing them.
"Speak your business!" The man said in a voice just loud enough for the group to hear.
Gibbi noticed that the man seemed injured, as the fire light revealed a heavily-bandaged left leg. He finally turned his head towards the group, careful to stay behind a large rock for cover if needed.
"I am Gibbi the Hobbit, and these are my fellows: Binkylo, Andyna, Cehrah, Feldalor the Elf and Puckric. We're searching for Weathertop."
The man let out an involuntary bellow of laughter that he quickly stifled his both hands. He looked more closely at the group as they approached his camp. The grip on his knife relaxed as he could sense there was no danger from these lost travelers.
"Kind Hobbit, let me introduce myself. I am Candaith the Ranger. And you've found Weathertop."
"Oh no, sir ranger. We are actually here to find you. We've been told by your fellow rangers that you may need help. I can see that they were correct." Gibbi noted, while pointing at the ranger's bandaged leg.
Candaith eyed the group for what seemed like an eternity before speaking his mind. "Alright. Your help is appreciated, and if it weren't for this injury, I would join you. I need you to do some scouting for me. There is an Orc encampment over this pass, into a small valley. They were ordered here from the north and I was sent to confiscate their orders, and discover why they're this far south and west. Infiltrate the camp and return those order to me, and I will tell you more."
The Massive Hobbits were excited to help the ranger, so they set off to kill some orcs. After a brief battle, the group was able to easily take over the camp and find the orders. They returned to Candaith, who had to admit was quite surprised to see them back so soon. He told them of a larger band of orcs making their way to the top of the great hill. They were building fortifications and preparing for something big. Gibbi had no doubt, after the last battle, that he and his companions could take on these orcs.
Candaith drew a small map for the group, showing the quickest way to the summit of Weathertop. The hobbits and the elf found the journey much easier, now that the sun had risen and they could see where they were going. As expected, they encountered many orcs along the way, including a pack of vicious wargs and their pack leader. Once at the summit's ruins, they were quickly spotted by a patrolling orc and were forced to fight much more than they had originally planned.
Using the strategies that the group had learned from their previous experiences with orcs, they were able to efficiently cut the numbers down to a manageable size and defeat the orcs, goblins and wargs with no casualties on their end. But just as the last orc was going down, a sneaky goblin was spotted running off the opposite side of the hill.
"Get him!" Gibbi shouted. "We can't let any get away!"
The fellowship stormed towards the goblin, but were suddenly forced to halt when they heard a low growl eminating from where the goblin ran just out of sight.
"That doesn't sound like any goblin I've heard before." Andyna acknowledged.
The goblin came running back into sight, but the group knew better than to fall for goblin trickery. They knew he had something big back there, hidden over the ridge, and they weren't going to fall for it.
"It's a mountain troll!" Feldalor screamed over the creature's noisy entrance.
They fought hard against that mountain troll, knowing that it was their last hope to turn the tide on the orc encroachment into the Lone-lands -- or so they believed. With one final swipe, the troll collapsed to its knees before finally succumbing to its wounds. The weary adventures regrouped and rested beside the lifeless hulk. Gathering his part of the loot, Gibbi realized that this was more than just a matter of killing a troll (which he noted was the second one he had ever killed) and a few orcs, but this meant that all of Sauron's forces will be after them now. No longer are they an inconvenience to the dark lord, but they are actually making a difference, and the attention was turned towards them for good. Sauron may now know that Gibbi's band of farmers and smiths are out to aid the hobbits who carry the ring, and he will have to split his armies to take on both groups.
Bring it on.
Retaking Weathertop was certainly fun, and it reminded me of the depth of some of these side quests in LotRO. While not mandatory to progress, it's a fun little questline that takes you through one of the most famous parts of Tolkien's books.
Granted, we blew through these quests with no problem, but for next week we will try something a bit more challenging. No, I mean it this time! There are three weeks left with our adventures in Middle-earth, so let's make them count! Vote below to let us know what you want us to do for next Wednesday.
- Finish Book 2: This would involve finishing all 9 chapters (and an extra instance) of Book 2, which is aimed at level 30ish.
- Complete quests in Harloeg: This is the forested/swampy area just south of Ost Garuth, and is teaming with undead, insects and trolls. While completing all quests might not be possible, we would do most of them.
- Finish Garth Agarwen: This would involve completing the quests within the Garth Argawen instance. Some of this is level 35+, so the challenge would certainly be there.%Poll-34467%