November 5, 2012

A Dunlending and Rohirrim Romance

This post is going to involve me doing a bit of predicting on where the epic line is going, but it is something that I have suspected since the Great River epic line.  If I'm right, I apologize for any spoilers!  And this will spoil things a bit if you have not done the epic line in Rohan.  If I'm wrong, I hope I at least end up entertaining people!

First we need to backtrack to Volume III, Book 2  of the epic line.  This volume had us heading south with the Grey Company into the hills and plains of Enedwaith, a region heavily populated by different factions of Dunlendings.  We met a Dunlending warrior named Wadu in Chapter 9 and gained his trust - a very difficult thing to do with Dunlending peoples.

In a subsequent quest in Chapter 11, while on a task for Saeradan, we discovered a sword with ancient markings.  Saeradan determines that this is a sword of the Rohirrim.  As you search to find the presumable man of Rohan who owned that sword, you discover the owner was actually the Dunlending Wadu, and he is dead.

Saeradan:  "I am sorry indeed to hear that Wadu has been slain, but I cannot understand how he came to possess the sword that was taken from him. It is without doubt a sword of the Rohirrim, and the Men of Rohan are no friend to the clans of Dunland. There is a long history of war between the two, and I fear that if Saruman's plans continue to bear fruit there will be war again. Why would Wadu have borne such a sword? And what brought him to that road to die? Was he so o'ermatched in number that even such a well-crafted sword could avail him nothing?"

Thanks Corudan so I don't feel like three's a crowd.
As we know, we see much more of Nona throughout Dunland and into the Great River area, and of course as we enter Rohan.  At the end of Volume III, Book 6, it even looks like we may lose Nona after she is harmed by the mount-less Nazgul in the Brown Lands, but we are able to take her, assisted by the kinder-hearted Rohirrim guard Horn, to Galadriel in Caras Galadhon to be healed.  In the company of Nona, Horn, and the Elf Corudan, you head off to the Falls of Rauros and then into Rohan.

But let's get back to that sword.  There is a lot of time spent on that sword back in the Chapters of Volume III, Book 2.  You find it, Saeradan analyzes it closely and comments on how it could possibly have ended up in the hands of a Dunlending warrior so far away from Rohan, you hunt it down for Nora after she left it under Wadu's favorite tree and she decides she wants to use it.  A lot of running around and attention for an old sword, and we still do not know where it came from, only that "it came to" her brother Wadu somehow.  However, in a bit of what I think is foreshadowing, in Book 6, Chapter 8, as Horn is contemplating the statue of Eorl the Young and Cirion, he muses about the great battle that took place on the Field of Celebrant, and has the feeling that the sword carried by Nona was present during that battle.  Hmmmm.....

Later as we begin to encounter the Rohirrim, we also encounter their great disdain for and stereotyping of the Dunlendings, even toward someone like Nona who is on their side as an enemy against the forces of darkness.  Even as she lies wounded in Stangard at the end of Book 6, several of the Rohirrim are disinclined to do anything to help and would have left her to die, if not for the assistance of Horn.  And she comes close to losing her sword to the Thane of Stangard at one point.  Again - that sword.

In the epic books that take us into the East Wall and Rohan, we see a growing romance between Nona of the Dunlendings and Horn of Rohan.  Ain't it always the way.  But I think this is symbolic of what I fully expect us to learn in future epic books:  that Nona is actually part Dunlending and part of Rohirrim descent, and that she and Horn will play a significant role in starting to bring together two groups of peoples who have hated each other for hundreds of years.

Map of Rohan, thanks to The Thain's Book
Where do I get the notion that Nona has Rohirrim ancestry?  We have also been exposed to a bit of the tale of Wulf - remember Wulf's Cleft south of the Starkmoors in Dunland? (Why do we not have a raid instance there?!?)  Nona also tells us the story herself, although she's sort of interrupted by being nearly killed by a Nazgul.

Helm Hammerhand was King of Rohan from 2691-2759 of the Third Age, over 200 years before the events of the War of the Ring.  During his rule there was a man in Rohan named Freca who owned large tracts of land on either side of the Adorn River, between the Isen and White Mountains, in the west of Rohan.  Freca is described as being rich and powerful, and though Helm included him in his councils, he disliked and mistrusted him.  Though a man of Rohan, Freca was also suspect of having "much Dunlendish blood, and was dark-haired."  Appendix A states he claimed to be descended from King Freawine, who would have been Helm's Great-Great-Grandfather, thus making the two of them distant cousins.

During one meeting at Edoras, Freca attended with a number of his men and asked Helm to give the hand of his daughter to Freca's son, Wulf.  Helm's response was "no thanks," although perhaps not delivered as diplomatically as it could have been:  "You have grown big since you were last here; but it is mostly fat, I guess."  All of the men of Edoras laughed.  After the meeting Helm took Freca outside and away from all of their men to speak privately, again basically told him he was stepping way outside his bounds, and punched him hard enough that Freca fell and soon after died.

Freca's son Wulf was furious, and led a large host of Dunlendings against Edoras and occupied it, slaying one of Helm's sons while Helm had retreated to the Hornburg (what we also know as "Helm's Deep").  At the same time, Rohan was again being invaded by Easterlings, and this time enemies of Gondor joined in Wulf's attack.  Rohan was completely overrun and its people fled to the mountains.  Wulf and the Dunlendings (sounds like the name of a garage band) occupied Edoras over the long winter of 2758-9, when all of Rohan lay under snow for almost 5 months.  Both the Rohirrim and their enemies in Edoras suffered.  Helm's second and last son, Hama, set forth from the Hornburg to retake Edoras, but was lost in the snow.  Finally Helm himself set out solo and barehanded to take on all of the Dunlendings in the belief that if he himself bore no weapons, no weapon could "bite" him.  This led to a Dunlending legend that Helm actually ate his enemies.  An interesting plan of Helm's but nevertheless he was found dead, frozen upright.  Anyone getting the impression that our noble Helm of Helm's Deep infamy was a bit nuts???

Finally the winter broke and a company of Rohirrim led by Frealaf, a nephew of Helm and ancestor of our King Theoden, retook Edoras and defeated Wulf. 

My theory is that Nona is somehow a descendant of Wulf and Freca, thus making her also part a descendant of King Freawine (not to mention a very, very, very distant counsin of Theoden, Eomer, and Eowyn) and so of Rohan blood as well as a woman of Dunland.  Somehow the sword will turn out to have belonged to Wulf, possibly handed down from King Freawine - maybe even from Eorl himself or at least someone else who was present at the Battle of Parth Celebrant, if we can trust the intuition of Horn.

A lot of backstory to get to my brief theory!  Only time will tell if I predict correctly or am way off the mark (and way off the Mark as well).  And I'm looking forward to it either way.  Yeah, I'm a Nona/Horn 'Shipper at heart.  Bring on the next Epic Book!

Sources: The Return of the Kings, Appendix A and Unfinished Tales

Cracked Eggs: Prostitution in Middle Earth???

I know, I know.  The Riders of Rohan expansion just came out; I took a several month hiatus away from blogging about Middle Earth lore in LOTRO.  And what do I choose to be my first topic upon return?  In my defense, it is the expansion that finally prodded me to cover this subject!

The Inn at Elthengels
No, this is obviously not a Lore-related post, hence my titling it as a "Cracked Egg" submission.  If you remember back to my early blogging days, the Cracked Eggs series are devoted to little non-Middle Earth jokes and Easter eggs.  I'm drawing a line in the sand and calling out the Dev's obsession with, yes, prostitution!  *WINK*

The impetus for this post actually came from exploring the early areas of the new Riders of Rohan expansion.  In the village of Elthengels in The Wold, they have a lovely tavern.  Being able to explore the insides of the very beautiful homes and buildings of the Rohirrim is something I particularly enjoy.  In Elthengels, we eventually get to go in and speak to some of the patrons.

The upstairs of this particular tavern is a busy place, with many men and women sitting at tables, enjoying the tavern fare.  Curiously there are two small bedrooms that open directly onto the tavern area, partitioned off only by hanging curtains.  One room has a large, full-sized bed; the other room has two small single beds.  *WINK*
"Walking the Streets" - Cosmetic LOTRO

Yes, yes I know what you are thinking:  these are the rooms of the tavern owners, or their servants.  Or the tavern also serves as an inn, and these are guest rooms.  It's Middle Earth!  These are the Rohirrim!  They wouldn't...!  They didn't...!  That seems entirely logical.  But not for me!  My first thought on seeing those rooms were that they are rooms meant to conduct business of generally fairly short duration, several times a night.  *WINK*   It isn't at all unheard of to see such rooms above taverns through history.  Of course, it is equally common to see true inns being run in taverns as well.  What can I say, sometimes the imagination runs and I have to let it.

OK, so maybe I'm be overly imaginative.  But what made me more inclined to make this leap of the imagination are the precedents set in Bree.  Yes, Bree.

In one of my first blog posts, I reference Wink the Cat *WINK* and the Cat House in Bree.  Much has already been discussed about this house, particularly in the LOTRO Forums over the years.  In one of those Forums, Turbine's Berephon is credited with stating this was an inside joke among the Devs.  Believe me, I'm not the first to speculate on exactly what that inside joke might be.  Let's think of different words for "cat."  When a number of one of those "cat" words are congregated together in one house, there could be several types of living situations possible.  And no, I'm not thinking of a sorority house.

Wink and the Other Cats in Bree
Visiting that house is of course part of Chicken Play.  Not to mention being ported there after getting stinking drunk using an Inn League keg - how often is that how most people get into a Cat House in the first place?  Or, sweetest of all, at least we used to be sent there with flowers during the spring festival (even if they really were meant for the "nice" lady next door).

So "cat" lovers *WINK* in LOTRO have always had a special place to go in Bree.  But what if a cat isn't your favorite animal?

Enter - the Turtle House! *WINK*  In the spring of 2012, a new series of quests was introduced to Bree, after teasing us for some time with what were locked doors that could presumably be opened some day.  This let us travel into the interior of a few more Bree buildings, in line with what the Great River area brought us in Stangard and beyond.

Scary little turtles!
But my little radar tells me it was more than this.  After years of having the Cat House in Bree, it was only fair that a Turtle House should open up.  After all, we are told in this quest line that "the mayor has been known to turn a blind eye to the keeping of numerous pets within homes in Bree."  We covered "cat" euphemisms earlier, now let's think about what "turtle" and "turtle shell" can be used to describe.  *WINK*  (Hey, I do try to keep my blog as family-friendly as possible, which is quite challenging with this particular subject.)  We meet the Hobbit Grobo in Staddle, who is clearly a...turtle-phobic?...Hobbit.  Just the thought of these turtles getting bigger fills him with dread.

All I can say is - three cheers for Mayor Graeme Tenderlarch for being Equal Opportunity in permitting fans of cats, or turtles, or both, to have places to visit in Bree!  After all, in the words of Quick-wit Culver in the instance The Infiltrator's Surprise, "Are you sure you're one of us? This has been a long time coming, and I don't want some outsider spoiling it."  Long time coming, indeed!  Fortunately all the turtles in Bree have a home with Artie Root (such a name), who happens to own the nicest window view in the whole town.

The Turtle House - Nicest window in Bree!
I understand, it appears I have my mind in the gutter and there could be all sorts of Freudian interpretations made about ME.  And that I could be accused of drawing these assumptions with very little concrete evidence.  But - meh - I call 'em as I see 'em!  And I see Devs who like to be playful and about as naughty as they probably dare be while still maintaining the integrity of Middle Earth.

Plus I wanted to return to my blog in a big way.  NOW on to Rohan....

Many thanks to Hymne from Cosmetic LOTRO for letting me post one of her early outfit designs, "Walking the Streets."  It has always stuck in my memory and I was pleased to be able to link to it here.  If you have never visited her site before, you are missing so much - please stop by!