March 11, 2012

Eregion Part I: The Ring Goes South

Entering Hollin
Eregion is one of my favorite places to quest.  Maybe it's the bright red holly trees that dot the landscape and look so cheerful.  Or the view of the famous three peaks of the Misty Mountains off in the distance.  Or the suddenly overcast skies that bring a long downpour.  Or the blinding snowstorms on the slopes of Tal Caradhras.  I admit to sometimes being a weather-mood player - sometimes I just want to go play in an area because I'm in the mood for the particular weather or landscape it provides.  Or perhaps it is as Gandalf said, "Much evil must befall a country before it wholly forgets the Elves, if once they dwelt there"  - there is a wholesome feeling in this part of Eregion (at least until you hit the wood trolls).  In fact we'll look more at the Elves who dwelt here long ago in a future post.  But most importantly, Eregion is a pivotal location in both the LOTRO game and  Middle Earth lore.

I like that Eregion permits us to so closely follow the path of the Fellowship.  Starting with that left turn at the Ford of Bruinen and heading south toward Hollin (although in the Fellowship of the Ring, it took the group about two weeks to reach Hollin!), climbing up the ridge to see the trees with their dark green leaves and berries glowing red in the sun, catching the first glimpse of the mountain peaks, just as the Fellowship did.

In fact, the deed "The Ring Goes South" (named after that chapter of the Fellowship of the Ring, of course) takes us to five important points that follow the journey of the Fellowship through Eregion.

The High Hollin Campsite

Our Deed Tracker tells us:  "This campsite marks a place where the Company of the Ring stayed during their journey through Hollin.  A careless Hobbit left his mark as well."

The High Hollin Campsite
The Fellowship of the Rings tells us:  "That morning they lit a fire in a deep hollow shrouded by great bushes of holly, and their supper-breakfast was merrier than it had been since they set out."  The company had intended to rest a day in this spot and not travel again until the following night.  They made a fire, and Sam and Aragorn sat up watching while the others rested.  It was in this spot that Aragorn noted the unusual silence - no bird calls or sounds of any other animals.  This was also the location in which the scouting flock of crebain passed overhead.

In LOTRO, a quest out of Gwingris will send you to this campsite where you can learn exactly what was left behind, and also open the location deed (+1 Honesty, 5 Tubine Points, and Rivendell rep!)

The Tal Caradhras Campsite
The Tal Caradhras Campsite

Our Deed Tracker tells us:  "The Company of the Ring rested here before continuing on to the Redhorn Gate.  Sam Gamgee clearly took the opportunity to provide a fine meal for the Company...."

In the book, the Company left the prior site in Hollin and, guided by Aragorn, came across what appeared to be the remains of an old road that lead toward the Redhorn Gate.  They travelled in this direction for a couple days, at one point feeling a shadow pass over them in the cold darkness just before dawn.  They stop for one last rest and make another camp before tackling the long cold climb up to the Pass.  It is here that Gandalf and Aragorn go aside to quietly debate the wisdom of taking this path vs. Moria, and also here that Boromir proposes they gather firewood for each to carry in case it is needed up on the mountain.

The Redhorn Gate
In LOTRO, a quest line from Echad Eregion will send you to this site - again to track something a careless Hobbit left behind, you'd think Gandalf would be smacking Hobbits with his staff by now.

The Caradhras Campfire

Our Deed Tracker tells us:  "It was here that the Company of the Ring set camp in the Redhorn Gate. Gandalf was forced to show forth his power to light the fire, revealing himself to all who had the ability to recognize it, putting the Company in jeopardy."

Everyone knows the journey up the path of Caradhras the Cruel, with the increasing snow, the fell voices on the wind, the falling rocks.  The Company rested against the side of a cliff, with some of the Hobbits falling asleep and coming close to freezing to death.  It was here that Gandalf gave everyone a sip of miruvor, a drink from Imladris, which brought a renewed sense of strength and vigour. It was also the place where they decided to risk discovery in order to light a life-saving campfire.
The Caradhras Campsite

"At last reluctantly Gandalf himself took a hand.  Picking up a faggot he held it aloft for a moment, and then with a word of command, naur an endraith ammen! He thrust the end of his staff into the midst of it.  At once a great spout of green and blue flame sprang out, and the wood flared and sputtered.

" 'If there are any to see, then I at least am revealed to them,' he said. 'I have written Gandalf is here in signs that all can read from Rivendell to the mouths of Anduin.' "

But the snow and wind didn't stop, while the wood burned away.  Eventually the Company retreated.  Caradhras would not yield.

This site can of course be visited as well, and is a much more challenging place to see given that it is surrounded by ice grims and blinding snow.  Nothing seems to have been left behind here, however, other than the remains of the campfire.

After this, the Company continued south and elected to let the Ring Bearer choose whether they would proceed through Moria, or south to Rohan.  In the midst of their discussion in their new location, Frodo noted, "How the wind howls!"
The Burnt Tor


The Burnt Tor

Our Deed Tracker tells us:  "Here it was that the Company of the Ring fended off a pack of shadow-wargs sent by Sauron to hunt down the Ring.  The wargs were at least driven off when Gandalf the Grey caused a powerful fire to blaze forth, a fire which ruined the wooded hilltop."

The wind was howling with the voices of wargs, of course.  This was the deciding factor to turn them all in favor of Moria - shut themselves off from pursuit from these or other wargs or beasts that may be sent after them.

But first they had to escape from this imminent problem.  "For their defence in the night the Company climbed to the top of the small hill under which they had been sheltering.  It was crowned with a knot of old and twisted trees, about which lay a broken circle of boulder-stones.  In the midst of this they lit a fire, for there was no hope that darkness and silence would keep their trail from discovery by the hunting packs."

After a second siege surrounded by wargs, Gandalf again takes matters into his hands, speaking some familiar words:  " 'Naur an endraith ammen!  Naur dan i ngaurhoth!' he cried.  There was a roar and a crackle, and the tree above him burst into a leaf and bloom of blinding flame.  The first leapt from tree-top to tree-top.  The whole hill was crowned with dazzling light."

I particularly like how embers are still glowing in the tree trunks, showing us that the Fellowship was here very, very recently.  The attack by the wargs occurs on January 13 in the book.  I am not aware specifically what the date is meant to be in the game at the point we are journeying through Eregion - January 14? 15? - and if anyone does know I would enjoy hearing.

The Sirannon Gate to the right.
The Sirannon Gate

Our Deed Tracker tells us:  "This gateway leads up the Sirannon to the Hollin Gate."

On this same day, the Fellowship hastens to find the entrance to Moria, going astray for a few hours that morning because they cannot find the Sirannon, the Gate-stream, that would lead them to the entrance.  Finally Gimli spots it, but it is not as they expect - instead of a flowing stream, it is a rocky, dry riverbed.

In LOTRO the transition to the Walls of Moria area is marked by an actual gate between Echad Dunann and the Sirannon, which is also the point to pick up the quests to start Volume II. Legendary Items here we come!

The discovery deed for The Ring Goes South is now complete.  However, there are still a few important points of interest that also lay on the Fellowship's trail.

The Stair Falls

The Stairs and the dry Stair Falls.
This once marked the spot where the water of the Sirannon flowed down from a small valley that lay in front of the Walls of Moria.  The Sirannon flowed out of Moria, and a road followed it.  A series of steep stairs were carved into the rock leading up to the valley.

The Black Pool

The Black Pool - NOT what the Company expected.
Of course the waters of the Sirannon have been dammed, and nothing flows now over the Falls except a small trickle.  A quick climb to the top of the Stairs shows us why - the valley in front of the Walls of Moria is filled with stagnant slimy water and...well, we know what else.

Far across the Black Pool we see the shadow that is the flung-open doors to Moria.  We'll be visiting them very soon.

I have always enjoyed that sense of being one step behind the Fellowship as I traveled across Eregion.  Sure, we actually got to see them and interact with them in Rivendell, but this is different.  It's being so close to the real action of the Fellowship.  No matter how many times I do these quests and visit these sites, that feeling never goes away.

Sources:  The Fellowship of the Ring; Lord of the Rings Appendix B


  1. I love Eregion, too! It really does have a fantastic atmosphere. Great post.

  2. I thought you were following the books, not the films :(

    "...the Company continued south and elected to let the Ring Bearer choose whether they would proceed through Moria, or south to Rohan."

    That's pure Jackson, nothing to do with Tolkien. Aragorn & Gandalf made the route decisions.

    1. From the chapter, "A Journey in the Dark" -

      Aragorn states, "I do not wish to enter Moria a second time."

      "And I don't wish to enter it even once," said Pippin.

      "Nor me," muttered Sam.

      "Of course not!" said Gandalf. "Who would? But the question is, who will follow me, if I lead you there?"

      "I will," said Gimli eagerly.

      "I will," said Aragorn heavily. "You followed my lead almost to disaster in the snow, and have said no word of blame. I will follow your lead now - if this last warning does not move you. It is not of the Ring, nor of us others that I am thinking now, but of you, Gandalf. And I said to you: if you pass the doors of Moria, beware!"

      "I will not go," said Boromir; "not unless the vote of the whole company is against me. What do Legolas and the little folk say? The Ring-bearer's voice surely should be heard?"

      "I do not wish to go to Moria," said Legolas.

      The hobbits said nothing. Sam looked at Frodo. At last Frodo spoke. "I do not wish to go," he said; "but neither do I wish to refuse the advice of Gandalf. I beg that there should be no vote until we have slept on it. Gandalf will get votes easier in the light of the morning than in this cold gloom. How the wind howls!"