LOTRO: Once more unto the Barrows dear friends, once more…

Extracts from Ranhold’s Journal

A letter arrived today, the newly re-instated Shire quick post finding me as I delivered my last pie to Miss Hornblower in Hobbiton. It bore the waxen seal of Bree’s Mayor and was addressed to not just me, but also to all Free People of the West who had recently aided Bree in their fight against the corruption inhabiting the dread Barrow-downs. I broke the seal and read the short missive and a cold hand gripped me as I realised being Kindred with Bree bore a price far beyond that which I have already paid. Travellers had been attacked, merchants killed and vital supplies left to rot in the fields along the Great East Road and the unquiet dead of the Downs were to blame. The Mayor all but begged any true friend of Bree to return immediately to aid them in their struggle to push back the darkness. For us, the town’s most loyal defenders, he had a special task: he beseeched us to enter the dire tomb of Haudh Iarchith in the southern fields of the dead and with hearts free of mercy slaughter any and all walking dead we found.

Suddenly I find my recent task delivering pies a very agreeable one indeed, but I owe Bree my fealty and I will answer her call. Who knows, maybe one day I and others like me will be able to reclaim the Barrows once more the honour of my ancestors and I will be able to wander their halls in safety as I study and record their history.


The horse from Hobbiton was as fast and true as I hoped, but he was not as hardy as my brave Felan and refused to cross the border into the Northern-most Downs, but no matter as I am waiting here myself to see who else answers the call for I don’t believe Haudh Iarchith is a task I can tackle alone.


Surely it is a grim sign of the times when only one other soul was able to come to the aid of Bree! Still, I count my blessings that the one soul, a hunter by the name of Enthallion, to answer is a warrior of such prowess that for the first time since the letter arrived I have allowed myself to hope I shall see daylight again after I plunge into the darkness of that accursed pit. Yes, I rather think that with Enthallion by my side, or rather I by his for his skills with bow and blade are far greater than my own, this is a fight we can win.

We have gathered our gear and are setting off on foot very shortly. If nothing else I hope my endeavours in this foul place helps the dead reclaim some of the peace so cruelly stolen from them.


Forgive my haste. This place is worse than we thought. So many. They appear behind us. Too many. Everyw


I had to run. Nowhere is safe. I owe Enthallion my life many times over. Resting in the darkness. Must go again soon. We are winning, but only just.


The foul air of the Barrow-downs had never smelt so sweet. We emerged from Haudh Iarchith two long hours after we entered, both of us exhausted by the almost constant battle we had fought deep underground. Wave after wave of walking corpse warriors threw themselves at us roaring a spitting with a fearsome hatred! The spirits that flitted and floated throughout the tomb swooped and dove at us but we fought on. Enthallion was as a man possessed! His bow sang and his blades danced. I did what I could to keep up but I know all too well that I am only alive to write these words because of his great skill and brave heart. I know I did not disgrace myself or shame my father, yet I know that I yet have much to learn in the ways of combat if I am to prove myself and reclaim my family’s heritage.

An hour after we parted in Bree, and with the thanks of the Mayor still ringing in my ears, I found myself back in Michel Delving once more surrounded by the inane chattering of the little folk, only now, after the horrors of Haudh Iarchith, it had never sounded so welcoming. Yes, I have much to think about.

LOTRO: A Hat Full of Hobbits…

Extract from the journal of Ranhold, Champion from Dale.

Gods… The Shire… If anywhere makes me wish I were back in the Old Forest being chased by rancid bears, screeching bats, howling wolves and murderous trees it surely is The Shire. Oh there’s nothing wrong with the Shire itself. Lovely rolling hills, babbling brooks, shaded glades; the whole landscape is the very antithesis of the dead Barrows or the wild Forest, but its residents are infinitely more maddening!

From the moment I arrived in Brandybuck I have been assailed by half-pint Hobbits seemingly intent on driving me to the brink of madness with their incessant wittering about food and drink or their endless empty-headed gossip about the wrong-doings of other Hobbits or failings of various family members. And if they’re not chundering on and gossiping then they are dipping into what seems to be a bottomless well of errands they require doing and appointing me their odd-job man and all-round run-around! And they only seem to pay in food!

In the Downs I was asked to rescue a lost child afore she was eaten by wolves. In The Shire I have had to rescue a pig called Sally from nibbling shrews!

Outside Bree I had to rescue a farmer’s daughter kidnapped by Brigands. In The Shire I had to rescue a sheep from some mangy old goblins!

In The Old Forest I had to do battle with a spider queen the size of a cart horse. In The Shire I had to scare a big toad back into her cage!

By all that is holy, I’m a warrior! My line can be traced back to Arnor and the nobility of Annúminas and yet these halflings ask me to deliver their mail (avoiding the ever-eager eyes of their kind’s nosiest gossip-mongers, of course) or collect spoiled fruit pies (all the while staying away from the ever-twitching noses of their kind’s perpetually hungry, naturally)!

And what do I have to show for all my efforts? Why, a feathered cap from the Bounders. A feathered bloody cap.

Is it any bloody wonder I’ve turned to drink?