shire

LOTRO: Weekly Update

Even though Project Gold has been taking up most of my time, I have still found time to level up my two hobbits quite a bit and, although Ranhold & Gorfrik have been ignored, good old Nimlarn got a wee bit of love too.

Ranhold – Man, Champion, Historian, Expert Weaponsmith & Master Scholar. Level 40

Apart from hanging around Elrond’s gaff like a bad smell, moaning about all the scrolls he’s having to illuminate for the Scholar’s Guild, poor old Ran saw nary a sword swipe this week. Until last night that is! With Project Gold fading into the background a little, I decided to get my Champ back on his horse and back on the trail of the Epic Story. I managed the former but the latter escaped me somewhat as Ranhold ended up on a side quest to hunt down a pack of murderous wolves led by a fierce (and oddly dread-inducing) Big Bad Spooky Wolf. At level 40 I had no trouble with these guys and was happy to hack and slash them all to shreds as I was gathering in many pristine hides for Nimlarn to turn into leather with which Gorfrik could make me some new armour.

While in the Trollshaws and hunting the spooky old wolf I had a great encounter with another player that really cheered me up after a hard day at work. I was making my way slowly down the curving valley where the wolves lived when I took one of them on. Unbeknownst to me there was another hiding nearby and another wandering around the corner. Now at level 40 I can handle a wolf or two, but three was likely to be a bit closer to the bone than I felt comfortable with, especially as my time away from Ranhold meant my skill rotations were rusty as hell. Sure enough I was soon in trouble as they chomped down on some fine Champion rump and I had to pull a few tricks out of the bag to bring them down. Just as the final one was about to fall (and I was about to start breathing again!) a huge lightning bolt streaked out of the sky and killed it stone dead! Help had arrived and I turned to find a Rune Keeper standing nearby. I bowed my tanks and offered my help if she was on the same quest as me – we teamed up and headed off – it was only then I noticed her level was 33! She was either brave or foolhardy to delve this deep into a high level wolf den at 33 and I knew that I had to stick close to her if she was to survive. The next half hour was great fun! We found & killed the spooky old wolf, although my companion did ‘die’ in that fight as two more wolves chose that exact moment to respawn and I had to bring down the boss and two wolves to allow her to revive. All the way through this (and the journey back to camp) we didn’t speak much but when we did it was in RP and that was a pleasant, fun change to most other interactions I’ve had in-world 🙂

Gorfrik – Dwarf, Hunter, Armourer, Expert Metalsmith & Expert Tailor. Level 23

Nothing to see here, move along. Poor the ignored Dwarf.

Nimlarn – Elf, Minstrel, Woodsman & Journeyman Woodworker. Level 22

I haven’t done much with the pointy eared lute player (or, more rightly, theobro player now) but I have been working on mastering the next level of his woodworking skills (hence the shiny new theobro) and the ash logs he’s been collecting have been well used in the making of bows that are selling slowly but steadily in the AH. Away from the workbench I had some difficulty getting his past the start of his second skirmish tutorial, but that was down to me being a goldangfule and not reading instructions properly – the very nice on-line help at turbine sorted it all out for me in mere minutes as soon as I posted a ticket 🙂

Other than that Nimlarn has made a couple of brief, brave forays into the Barrow Downs (just the Northern ones, he’s nowhere near ready for the Southern Downs yet!) where he has had almost the polar opposite co-operative experience to Ranhold. He helped a noob out with some heals as he battled a wight above ground and then (foolishly) accepted a Fellowship from said noob who promptly chose a big nasty barrow to delve into. I tried to call the noob and explain the seriousness of this decision, but either the guy wasn’t watching the chat or didn’t speak English as I got no answer. Of course the eejet picked a fight with some wights he couldn’t beat and I had to pull both our arses out of the fire before he then went and got himself killed by a troll I also had to kill. At this point I decided to cut my losses and ran like billyo back through the barrow with every wight, spirit and crawler in the place chasing me out! What happened to the foolish noob? I know not and care less.

Hocko – Hobbit, Burglar, Tinkerer & Master Jeweller. Level 18

Holcko, dear Holcko. He was trapped at Level 14 for what seemed like an age and most definitely on the back burner since his Uncle came on the scene and started working on his Project Gold. Until, that is, I had the slightly mad idea of seeing if he could collect a couple of hundred ores of silver (and the three sapphire shards on offer) from Far Chetwood. My kinmates said I was daft but seriously it was the best thing I could have done – he has collected all three shards (plus another from the wandering wolverine Snagpaw), over 150 silver ores, 200 barrow-iron ores (which have brought in 2gp for Project gold!) and a shed load of medium hides. At this rate, he’ll soon be at 20 and I’ll have my first ever Undying title! Happy days 🙂

Rolcko – Hobbit, Guardian, Yeoma, Supreme Farmer & Master Cook. Level 17

What a trooper! Despite running Project Gold for the entire Team Burro, Rolcko has also found time to complete nearly all the quests in the Shire *and* get his farming up to supreme *and* start levelling his cooking *and* join the Cook’s Guild! The guy is a bona fide hero! After clearing the Shire and making Supreme Cook I’m sending his out to Far Chetwood and then the Barrows – he’s going to be my shard collecting man hunting down each and every rare critter in the Breelands 🙂

LOTRO: A Crafty Old Week Indeed…

It’s been a busy week in LOTRO since my last update as I’ve managed to wangle quite a lot of time online & in-world and consequentially I’ve moved some of my characters along quite a bit, most notably my new Hobbit Guardian Rolcko. Still, something had to give and all the activity with the new guy and (almost) everyone’s crafting has seen poor Ranhold once more sidelined in the wonderful surroundings of Rivendell. Let me rundown what the lads have been doing:

Ranhold – Man, Champion, Historian, Expert Weaponsmith & Master Scholar. Level 40

He briefly got out of Rivendell in an attempt to restart the Epic Story. Elrond sent him out of the valley and back towards the Lone Lands to speak to his son but the journey turned into a long meandering exploration of the hills and valleys between the The Last Homely House and the ruined fortress where the Elves are leading a fight back against the rising effects of Angmar’s corruption. The Trollshaws are without doubt a beautiful! Full of lush trees, rolling hills and sweeping switchback paths zig-zagging their way up the sides of dizzyingly high mountains, they really show the game at its amazing best. Mind you, the wildlife is very bloody wild indeed with drakes, wyrms & giants lying in wait for the unwary traveller (*cough*thatwouldbeme*cough*) and there is at least one valley just west of Rivendell that I hightailed it out of PDQ after two hard and close fights with some tough critters. Be warned.

Still, all that killing did get him up to 40 at long last and a speedy trip back to his trainer in Rivendell gave him the most amusing Boast skill which essentially highjacks the gestures of those around to make them cheer you. Oh how I wished I had that in RL 😀 On top of that he finally made it up to the next level of Kindred with the Scholar’s guild which leaves only two more levels to go to become Kindred but which will take many, many weeks (around 3 months I calculate…) to achieve. Sigh.

Gorfrik – Dwarf, Hunter, Armourer, Expert Metalsmith & Expert Tailor. Level 23

Good old Gorfrik, cast adrift in the very bloody dangerous Kingsfell region of the North Downs and told to gather ore, shut up and stop moaning about orcs, spiders and wargs five to nine levels higher than him, has been doing just that. And what a great job he’s made of it, even having time to stop and craft some items that have earnt Team Burro about a gold piece in one day – this in a time when the new guy was spending everyone’s gold like it was going out of fashion! Say what you want about Gorfrik, but that guy just delivers – he kills fast and hard, he makes stuff that brings in the gold, clothes everybody in decent armour, he ensures everyone has the latest, greatest crafting tools and he still manages to level like a levelling machine! True he is still using the +25% XP boost and that coupled with the fact he’s been killing much higher level critters means he dinged up the furthest this week. Well, second furthest after Rolcko, but seeing as Rol went zero to fourteen in the Shire, the comparison is hardly fair. Gorfrik hit 20 and therefore could start his Skirmishes – more crafting shards ahead, I predict 🙂

Nimlarn – Elf, Minstrel, Woodsman & Journeyman Woodworker. Level 20

Nimlarn was looking like he’d be the poor cousin to this family for a while, but then at the last minute a hasty trip to the Northern Barrow Downs pushed him over 20 as well (although he has yet to clear the skirmishing tutorial – maybe tonight…). My big plans for him are to send him out to Far Chetwood to complete the three bear hunting quests there that grant a blue shard each time – Gorfrik got three, Ran got three so if the Elf can get his three too I should be in the market for making some special armour and weapons soon – maybe even a crited instrument for old Nim himself 🙂

Hocko – Hobbit, Burglar, Tinkerer & Master Jeweller. Level 14 and a three quarters

The true poor cousin this week, young Hocko really didn’t get to do much I’m afraid, although through Gorfrik’s ore gathering prowess both he and Gor got to level up their prospecting skills, but that’s hardly the most exciting news is it? Well it was for poor Hocko. Maybe next week will seem him journeying to Far Chetwood too – it would be a great place to level him up a bit after all.

Rolcko – Hobbit, Guardian, Yeoma, Expert Farmer & Expert Cook. Level 14

Rolcko, Ahhh Rolcko, from wither did ye come? Why, from the mind of a madman that’s wither! An elder uncle of Hocko’s, Rolcko is back from fighting “down south” and looking to retire in the Shire where he can become a gentleman farmer and noted cook of Some Repute (Michel Delving is his base as it has the AH, a vault, crafting suppliers and a superior over facility as well as the Cooking Guild HQ – it’s also a two minute ride away from the superior farmland in Hobbiton). Rol went from zero to ten-ish in one session and then ten to fourteen a little slower, mainly because I have been concentrating on his farming and cooking. It took two days of bitty on-off-line time, but I managed to get him up to Master Farmer level (mainly by just growing and preparing flowers as they gave off a fair few leaves & petals that Ranhold needs for various dyes and the like) and now I’m starting him on his cooking. It’s funny really but I’ve never really used food in the game, but now I want to make one of my characters a top notch cook I’m beginning to realise just how vital food is! I’ve begun to cook food that will help all my guys in fights and with diseases, but what I really need to do is study what foods my lads really need and just go for them as both cooking and farming without a plan fills up precious inventory space in no time.

Apart from that he’s also been the go-to Auction House guy and has been co-ordinating my attempts to make as much gold and silver as I can. Mixed results so far, but my newly created LOTRO finance tracker spreadsheet (what? Don’t look at me like that! You’ll want one too!) shows that after the initial drop in GP & SP caused by equipping Rolcko things are on the up again and I currently have a combined wealth of just over 7GP. I’m hoping to double that in a week or so, but that may be a little ambitious, no?

So there you have it folks – there are five of me now, technically enough to start my own Kinship up 😀

LOTRO: Weekly Update (27-06-11)

Another busy week!

Ranhold (Level 31 Man Champion Historian)
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    • Passed through level 30 and dinged 31 – the Isengard XP booster is proving pretty bloody useful 😀
    • In last week’s update I talked about heading into the North Downs, but after a day in the fields south of Fornost I realised I would end up levelling too fast and, to my mind at least, ruin my much-anticipated time in Evendim by being overpowered when I got there. So I set my mind leaving the dark shadows of Angmar behind me for the time being and journeying to Everdim. Except I never got to the the shimmering lake or anywhere near the ruined city Annúminas.

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    • No, instead I found myself at Weathertop in the Lone Lands after deciding to re-join the Epic Story line and complete my last part in Bree-Land by visiting Seardan. The grumpy old Ranger sent me to meet one of his brethren outside Weathertop and since then I’ve been bobbing between The Forsaken Inn and either the Bree or Michel Delving auction houses and vaults as my ruddy bags keep filling up so ruddy fast!

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    • Still, having a collection of bad guys I can actually fight is nice! Over the in The Shire, the Old Forest and even the Barrow-Downs everything has been ‘white’ for ages meaning that they are not a threat to me so combat is not automatically engaged and I have to hit them to start a fight. It also means my combat based deeds can not be progressed by fighting them, but out in the Lone Lands the denizens of that place are ‘green’ and above which is far more fun. The biggie I burned through was “Deep Strikes” in which I needed to hit an enemy 1,000 times with “Brutal Strikes“. Ye gods that was a long slog! It helped that just north of the Forsaken Inn is the ruined city of Minas Eriol whose roots are infested with (more) huge spiders, the largest of which allowed, if timed perfectly, me to hit them with two rounds of Brutal Strikes per kill – this, let me tell you, speeded this deed up, especially seeing as I’ve had to kill well over 400 of the buggers!

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    • I decided to use a deed accelerator (they count one kill as two in order to speed up loooooong bad guy grinds) to help me get the following Enmity of the Wargs 1 & 2 and Spider Slayer Advanced – the former was for around 150 wargs and gave me a very handy “Return to Bree” skill, the latter was for 300 long, long, loooooooong kills (not the 120 the links shows – that is way out of date). I actually quite like these mob grind quests as the rewards are usually quite useful and it gives me a chance to practice new combat skill pattens and rotations in a way I just would never do in a raid or out on a quest.
    • I’ve been hitting the AH pretty hard with all the spoils of my recent burst of grinding, farming & metalsmithing activities and although I’ve made a good few hundred silver coins at that, the real money I’ve made is has been from selling the stuff I’ve collected from my slain enemies to the various vendors scattered about. Doing this I made enough gold to buy a house and upgrade storage, which was nice.
    • Speaking of storage, I’ve made use of the LOTRO Store sale on storage and upgraded to near the top – and still it is not enough! DAMN!
    • During a trip into the Barrow-Downs to gather Scholar supplies so I could create a scroll for my kin-mate Enthallion (see next point) I decided to pay my old enemy Brishzel a visit in Haudh Nogbenn. This boss barghest has killed me at least twice if not three time and I was determined to carve me a big fat wolf steak out of this bastard’s behind. Long story short, it was a close fight (I’m sure this boss is bugged and over-powered!) but I laid this particular ghost to rest. Thank fek for that!!
    • As I hit level 31, my kin-mate & fellow historian Enthallion offered to make me a very nice sword that has proved very useful against some of the larger White Hand Orcs of the Lone Lands not to mention the dead wandering about the Red Marshes east of Ost Guruth.
    • Over at the Forsaken Inn, I tried my hand at the Inn of The Forsaken instance, a 3-man raid into a Goonies-like cave system searching out pirate gold! As I was on my own, I got creamed at the second room but what little I saw I loved! Beautifully realised and great fun, I especially love the doors that won’t open until you solve a riddle and guess (then use) the emote animation that matches the answer – a really neat little riddle system Turbine came up with there 🙂 See the CTSM video of their kin run through it here (obviously there will be spoilers!): http://www.justin.tv/strolltomordor/b/284791306

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      • After a long time no see spell, I met my first mate in LOTRO, Lirwen! We didn’t get long together but it was great to see her again 🙂
      • As part of my journey up the ladder of crafting experience, I joined the Scholar’s Guild in the Shire – there I was told to report to Elrond’s house in Rivendell where I could use the excellent library and meet the Guild Masters. This was the week I answered this invitation and now I have to expend a great deal of in-world coin in order to advance and gain skill and reputation. Bloody Guilds, they’ve got it all sown up! On a serious note, although I LOVED Rivendell (and the looooong journey) there I wasn’t happy about having to go because I didn’t feel Ranhold’s story arc was ready, so I was in & out as soon as I could be and I’ll move Ranhold there in what feels to me a more natural way – after all, he *is* moving east so he’ll get there soon 🙂

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    • Got Ran’s fishing up to proficiency level 26 (of 200) but still haven’t caught anything cool 😦
    • Summer Festival! My first festival in LOTRO – I’ll write a separate post about this, but suffice to say it’s great fun but I don’t always have the time to complete all the quests needed so I doubt I’ll come away with much from it bar a warm feeling of developer love 🙂

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Gorfrik (Level 12 Dwarf Hunter Armourer)

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I managed to grab some time online with the much-neglected dwarf, but all I really did was grind some slayer deeds and collection tasks for reputation. Poor Gorfrik…
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LOTRO: Weekly Update (20-06-11)

A busy week for one character this week – the +25% XP bonus item that came with with the Rise to Isengard pre-order is more than proving itself as I managed to move Ranhold out of the 20s and into the dizzy heights of the early 30s at last!

Ranhold (Level 29 Man Champion Historian)
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  • Completed a ‘hidden’ task in the Shire – helped five landlords get ingredients for their beers and was rewarded with five beers, a severe case of drunkenness, a doozy of a hangover, a new title (Shire Brewmaster) and 5TPs. hic.
  • Worked on my weaponsmith crafting and got up to Expert at last – had a marathon session to get there and am now trying to sell swords, axes and blades in the Auction house in the manner of a master criminal running some kind of country-toppling gold-devaluing scheme!
  • Completed all the available tasks in The Shire, Bree & The Old Forest and began to move on to Book 2 of the Epic Storyline.
  • Got my arse kicked by the giant Svalfang before recuperating enough to try again and managing to kill the bugger – bloody close fight though – one more stomp of his boots and one more rock to the noggin & Ran would have wiped again!
  • Dinged up to level 30 during a huge Siege of Gondamon skirmish – it was a proper brawl and I think I handled myself pretty well. Ranhold really can’t hold aggro which is both a good and bad thing – good because I can get behind the bad guys and start laying into them like billyo yet bad as I often have to run to keep up with the bad guy if he’s after the main threat. I seemed to have no problem generating fervour as my *sching sching* moves were in full flow – more so, or so it seemed to me, than in my solo action of late.
  • Getting to 30 gave Ranhold a couple of cool new skills: Glory & Dire Need – both look awesome!
  • Getting to 30 also opened up a hat full of quests pointing me all over the compass towards the Lone Lands, the North Downs, and Evendim. With deeds leading me to Erid Luin and a crafting guild order to report to Elrond in Rivendell poor Ranhold doesn’t know which way to turn!
  • Given my recent grinding of Shire/Bree-land quests and deeds I decided to pay the Bard in the Prancy Pony a visit to reslot – and I must have done something right because Ranhold is fighting better than he has ever fought! He is producing long runs of unbroken DPS & AOE heavy hits and the bad guys are falling before like nine pins! In fact the only time it nearly came unstuck was in the North Downs (Kingsfell to be exact) when I took on a fekking huge orc and only just beat him in time – Ran was down to 1%, around 160, and in a bad way. I *should* have used Dire Need but like a dope I forgot about it and just went into “SHHHHHIIIIIIIITTTT! – HITHIMHITHIMHITHIM!” mode. I, or rather Ranhold, was very bloody lucky to live, let alone win. Lesson learnt.
  • From the fact I mentioned my fight in the North Downs in the last point you shoudl have guessed where I headed after the Shire but after a full day wandering around the fields south of Fornost I decided I was in the wrong zone for my level and have started to head back west to Evendim where I aim to join the Rangers and fight for the honour & freedom of fair Annúminas 🙂
  • Got Ran’s fishing up to proficiency level 25 (of 200) but still haven’t caught anything cool 😦

Gorfrik (Level 12 Dwarf Hunter Armourer)

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Unfortunately I haven’t done much with poor Gorfrik this week – I intend to boost up his meatlsmithing profession and crank out more ingots for Ran to progress in his weaponsmithing though.

  • Nowt. Poor the dwarf 😦

Other Stuffs…
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About the only other thing I did this week was some house decoration with a mixture of deed rewards, bought items and gifts from the Kin. The kin leader, Vhaladris, has been very kind and sent me several fish trophies for my wall – Kin FTW!

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

Extracts from Ranhold’s Journal
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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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: If you go down to the woods today…

Extract from Ranhold’s journal.
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Bloody trees. Honestly I wouldn’t care if I never saw one again. Oh I know I was yearning for verdant sward, sweet water and clean air when I was skulking around the Barrows, but after two full days lost and wandering in The Old Forest outside Buckland I’m beginning to wonder if I did the right thing in leaving there and coming here – maybe I should have stayed in Bree where there are no bats, bears, wolves and (to the best of my knowledge) huge walking trees that attack you with their roots! I swear I must have felled three dozen of the brutes and still they harry my every passing!
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And if it’s not giant angry haunted trees it’s more bloody spiders! These have been by far the biggest I have ever seen and the desperate few hours I spent trying to escape their huge nesting area in the far south of this Gods-forsaken forest were amongst the grimmest of my life. I still recall the revulsion I felt when the queen of all the spiders found and attacked me – with a body larger than a fully grown bear and legs that raised her taller than a horse, she charged at me with pure hatred in all eight of her disgusting eyes! The battle was as fierce as it was long, with several of her kin joining in to defend their queen (the ones that lowered themselves from the silk-covered trees above me still haunt my nightmares!) but in the end I was victorious. True I have several nasty bites and puncture wounds, but the potions I bartered for in Bree are holding any infection at bay as they heal.
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I can not understand why one such as Tom Bombadil, a man possessed of such power that he could crack the earth and fell a great Wight-Lord as he did when he rescued me from the Great Barrow, suffers these foul creatures to life in and pollute his beloved Old Forest.
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But then I am at a loss to see what he finds so agreeable about such a dark, dismal place as this. Oh I understand that once it may have been a beautiful wood to walk through, but even the fabled Ent Wives could not survive here, leaving only their flowers to mark the places where they were subsumed into the Forest and ceased to exist.
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Everything here is hostile and monstrous in a way that is very different from the Barrow-downs – there the dead have been given life by the long dead Witch-King and as such are almost fated to be evil and murderous, but here life, not death, abounds and still everything seems intent on murder! Every glade and dell, every tree and bush is bursting with vigour & vitality… it’s just that it seems to hate, nay despise! anything that is not from the Forest. There must be a deep, dark scar here – something terrible in this Forest’s past that has twisted it and warped it into a nightmare of its former self. As far as I can see, the only pure thing in this forest is Tom’s wife, Goldberry, who is a women of such beauty that our one and only meeting still makes my heart sing!
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Since then I have completed a great many quests and deeds in the Old Forest – finding two Hobbits who were fool enough to run after a Brigand was the most testing (I have heard tell that a week in the company of these wee folk from the Shire will make even the most patient soul desire to slap them into a lake!) but many other have also been testing in various ways. Still, ’tis done now and I can at last move out of this damnable greenness to explore the open, rolling hills of the Shire at length on my way to see the magnificent ruins of Annúminas on the shores of distant Everdim where I’m sure I can at last rest my sword and attend to my studies of the past. All I need to do first is find the hedge tunnel back into Buckland…