Monday, January 26, 2015

Weekend Activities: Lord of the Rings Online

Context:  It isn't often that when somebody asks you, "So what did you do this weekend?" that you can reply with:

"Oh, I escaped from Isengard this weekend.  How 'bout you?"

But that's totally what I did.

And I had to break out before tonight (Monday night) in order to meet my kinswomen in Rohan for our weekly questing.  I'm showing up in my prison clothes.  And I'm guessing I have explaining to do.

I wanted to share the summation I e-mailed to my friend Drew about the entire affair.  Please bear in mind that this was originally a communication between Tolkien nerds!

What did I do this weekend…prepare for the epic.

Well, on Friday I discovered a few cosmetic items in LotRO that I wanted, and they were part of the Epic Quest line…and I wasn’t too far away from getting them…or so I thought…

Plus, I logged in to find that 1) I was furthest behind in levels at 76, and 2) it was bonus crafting XP weekend, and I had some crafting I needed to do for the level 30 characters we’re going to be starting soon.
But I didn’t read far enough ahead in the quest chain to learn what was coming.

When I last did epic quests, we had rallied the Rangers of the North together, led by Halbarad to help supplement Aragorn’s forces.  We were also entering negotiations with the Dunlendings, specifically the Falcon Clan, to have them join our side in the war.  So, the Rangers (Saeradan, Corunir, Lothrandir, Braigiar, Golodir, Radanir, Halbarad, Daervunn, Calenglad, Prestadir, Candac—to name a few), whom I’ve met and have bailed out of trouble more times than I can count, in addition to Elladan and Elrohir, are all abroad in Dunland.  Most are in the Falcon Clan village, helping with day-to-day tasks.

While they were doing that, DSCA, Deevius, and I sojourned in Rohan for awhile.  We obtained our warsteeds and are still working on controlling them, performing quests in that land.

Saturday, I decided to go back and pursue the EQs alone.  I did some quests in the Gravenwood, where Prince Theodred was encamped.  With him, he had Saeradan, distantly elsewhere in the wood were a couple more Rangers.  No trouble; I assisted them with gathering intelligence; I even made it to the Gap of Rohan and found another Ranger encampment within the Ring, held by Dagoras.

But then I received word that Lothrandir and I were to question the captive Lheu Brenin (leader of the Falcon Clan) had in his dungeon.  I thought nothing of it; I had questioned him before, as he was one of Saruman’s emissaries.


Figurative back-stabbing and literal betrayal took place in the dungeon, and the next thing I knew, I had been carted off to Isengard with Lothrandir.  They separated us—Saruman was taking no chances with Lothrandir.  And I warned him:  "You're going to regret not killing me. Because I'm coming for you."

Meanwhile, I was put to work in the depths, shackled and being bossed around by Uruk-Hai.  I had to clean up slop in the kitchen, empty the slop bucket…you get the idea.  Every once in awhile, surly Uruks would try to attack me, and then my Uruk-Hai “guardian” would help me fight them off.  I ended Saturday down in the dungeons, after learning that one of the prisoners down there used to be the Steward of Isengard.  He had been betrayed by Wormtongue, and wanted to tell me his story.

(Needless to say, I couldn’t quest with DSCA and Deevius tonight while LOCKED IN ISENGARD.)

Sunday, I listened to Acca’s story (and took pictures of Isengard before it fell into shadow).  Acca, another Rohirrim prisoner, and I put together an escape plan.  I cleaned up weapons in the foundry, all while pocketing pinches of black powder.  I then went to the surface and planted the black powder around the gears of one of the war machines.

Once that was accomplished, I stole the keys from an Uruk-Hai jailor and was on my way to let Acca and the Rohirrim out, when I was stopped by Dunlendings that were also being held captive.  As much as I had plans to raze the Falcon Clan’s village to the ground, nobody deserves to die in Isengard.  So I let them out…turns out there were at least a dozen of them.

The Rohirrim instructs them to make their way to the surface in small groups, so as not to attract attention.  While one of us sets off the powder charges, everyone else escapes through an overlooked passage that Acca told us about.  Acca volunteered to be the one to do it; he said his home was Isengard…not like us, who had lives outside of this place.

Well…the Uruk guarding the war machine got suspicious, and beat Acca to death.  The Rohirrim told me to keep the Uruk busy while he set off the explosions.  In the resulting chaos, we made it out and as far as the Gravenwood, but the Rohirrim did not survive to reach Theodred’s camp.  I went on alone, only to find that Radanir had made it to the encampment, to report on Lheu Brenin’s treachery.  He and Braigiar had escaped the dungeon together, but in their escape, they were both mobbed and Braigiar died.  Prince Theodred promised us that he would take his men and make a forward encampment outside the village.  With him he took two lieutenants, two soldiers, and one elderly Dunlanding woman. Though injured, Radanir came, too.

I went with them, and started prepping the village to be taken by Theodred and his men.  I disabled their traps, stole provisions, reclaimed Braigiar’s body from where it was left in the streets…and slaughtered as many of those traitors as I came across.  At first I was just going to kill as many of them as it took to get the provisions and get Braigiar…but along the way I acquired bloodrage tunnel vision.

Anyway.  Then Theodred, his lieutenants, and I went to free the remaining Rangers in the dungeon.  Once freed, Golodir told me to make haste; Lheu Brenin had taken Halbarad and the sons of Elrond below. 

(As an aside, you have to understand: I’m from Rivendell.  I grew up with Elladan and Elrohir.  I’m like the idiot little kid from down the street that grows up and leaves town and everybody breathes a sigh of relief.  And here was my chance to save the princes of my homeland.  My cuddlemuffins, as I call them. To make a My Little Pony reference: I am Derpy Hooves.)

To the battle cry of, “I’m coming, snugglemuffins!” I charged off to free these men.  I arrived in the lower dungeon level to find that they had completely subdued all three guards and had handily saved themselves.  -_-;;

The four of us go chasing off after Lheu Brenin, whom we find standing on a narrow stone bridge, with the remainder of the Falcon Clan behind him.  And then he monologues about how we have lost this day.  He and his people have the maze of tunnels below the dungeon memorized, and there’s no way we can follow.  And now we have to go abroad and tell the story about how we were bested by the Falcon Clan.  And if it weren’t for Halbarad telling me ‘no’, I would totally have charged in and thrown Lheu Brenin off of that bridge.

Thus, we retreated.  Back at Theodred’s camp in the Gravenwood, Halbarad made the decision to send me with Theodred into Rohan, to hold the Ford of Isen against Saruman’s forces.

(To give you context, I’ve been helping out the Rangers since Level 20.  I’m level 78 now.)

To be told that I needed to say my goodbyes because my journey with them was over was *very* sad.  But in particular, Saeradan:

“Halbarad told me his decision, and I will not speak against it. But I will miss you, Keywen, and I wish you might still travel with us.”

'You have a skill beyond strength of arms or the reach of knowledge, Keywen. You find friends wherever you tread, and where they cannot be found you make them with kindness and generosity. Halbarad does not realize how close he came to spending the rest of his days in the prison-caves of Tûr Morva, but I do.”

“Consider this, my friend, and do not forget it: Prince Théodred was at this camp for days before you escaped from Isengard and held council with me. But he did not move to rescue my kin until he spoke with you. Nay, do not console me! I am not ashamed. Your ability to rally people to your side is yours alone, and it is a power you must not forget. It has saved many lives already, and I know it will again.”

And then Corunir:

“You are leaving us now? How can this be Halbarad's decision?”

*Corunir stares at his feet for a short moment before he meets your gaze again.*

“I suppose the Prince of Rohan has need of you. I cannot blame Halbarad for wanting you to help hold the fords of the Isen. I think your tale of the army Saruman is preparing within Isengard shook him deeply, and if that crossing is lost then the kingdom of Rohan will surely follow.  We have been through a great deal, Keywen, have we not? It seemed we would stay within the musty library of Zudrugund with Nár and Frithgeir for the rest of our days, did it not?”

But it was Radanir who finally made my elf eyes tear up:

“Sit with me a moment, Keywen. I know you are leaving us, and that Théodred has need of you at the fords. That is the way of it, is it not? We go where we are needed. The Grey Company owes its freedom to you and to the Prince of Rohan, and this is how Halbarad seeks to repay the debt to Théodred. Perhaps he thinks our debt to you is too deep to repay so easily?”

*Radanir raises an eyebrow and subjects you to close scrutiny.*

“Once this is all over, if such a thing is possible, you and I will meet at some tavern in some peaceful land, and I will buy you a drink and you will buy me three, and we will remember this day and laugh at our cares.”

All. The. FEELS.

I was a wreck.  (This was the quest that had the items I wanted, too.  Little did I know the cost.)

And finally, Halbarad’s last words:

“I am not one for long farewells, my friend. Know that you are one of us, with ties not of blood but rather strengthened by blood: the blood of our foes. Our roads entwined this far, and may do so again, but for now it is the time of leave-taking.”

“Keywen, it has been an honour to travel with you. The Grey Company owes you much and more.”


*long, heavy sigh*

And then I hauled my cute elven butt back to where I last saw DSCA and Deevius.  Still in my prison outfit.

And that…is what I did this weekend.

If you decide to try The Lord of the Rings Online experience, you'll find me and my kinship on the Arkenstone server.  Though it has it's flaws, we Tolkien fangirls have been thoroughly enjoying touring Middle-earth as the biggest bunch of rednecks you've ever seen.  I encourage you to come and try it out!

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