March 29, 2012

The Brown Lands Part II: The Blue Men Group

I am extremely pleased to submit a guest post by my Council of Eriador kinmate, Joel.  Hang on to somethin', he has uncovered some good stuff!


Hello folks, it is Joel. I have been playing LotRO for 5 years since the first public beta (commonly known as Founder’s Beta, which started on March 31, 2007). I am still a young hobbit in terms of arriving into the Tolkien scene, having done so in November 2002. One fateful night, a friend of mine had recently acquired the just-released Extended Edition of Fellowship of the Ring and had invited a bunch of us attending the University of Oregon at the time over to see it. I was instantly hooked at that point, and in the course of 9 months, until the end of that following summer, I had devoured the books, gone out and purchased my own set, and started nomming on The Silmarillion.

Since then, my love of Tolkien has grown by leaps and bounds. In April 2004, I joined a fanatics site called the Lord of the Rings Plaza, and was captivated by the ability to roleplay on their forums. Less than 3 years later, I heard this game was coming out within a few weeks, so of course I opted to try it out, not able to get enough of the world of Tolkien, even though I had just about every book concerning Middle Earth written by the Professor and his son.

So, when I stumbled across this blog a couple of months ago, after joining McFarlane’s kin, I fell in love with it. I love the lore, and seeing the lore come to life. I even secretly hoped to one day contribute. Well, I am honored to be given that chance with this guest post. I too, am a completionist, but more often than not, I get that satisfaction and chill when something obscure from the books is brought to life in the game in front of my eyes.

Long introduction aside, let’s get to the heart of this.

The other day, I was wrapping up questing in the new Great River region that came with the recent Update 6, and the last area left for me to do was The Brown Lands. There was a quest that takes you into this camp to burn down some banners flying around their camp. Sounds like a typical quest. I like to read quest text. It makes some folks that I group up with irritated. Even if I have done the quest before, I still love to read the quest. I’m glad I took the time, because for this particular quest, something caught my eye, and cue the “O.M.G. No Way!” reaction.

"The Khundolar have the gall to fly the banners of the Dark Lord at Lashkarg. I have heard that they serve Mordor in direct disregard for the mandates of their master, a man who calls himself Yirokhsar the Blue, a sorcerer of no small power, they say."

Wait. What?! A sorcerer of no small power? The Blue? If I am not mistaken, this could possibly be referencing one of the Blue Wizards that came over from Valinor with Saruman, Gandalf, and Radagast. Together, with a second Blue Wizard (there were a total of 5 that came from Valinor), they journeyed to lands far in the East, but never returned to the west-lands, and not much was known about them.

So, I instantly grabbed my copy of The Unfinished Tales, all while excitedly speculating with our McFarlane, and found the following from Part Four, Chapter II: The Istari (also referred to as “the essay on the Istari”).

"Of the Blue little was known in the West, and they had no names save Ithryn Luin "the Blue Wizards;" for they passed into the east with Curunír, but they never returned, and whether they remained in the East, pursuing their the purposes for which they were sent; or perished; or as some hold were ensnared by Sauron and became his servants, is not now known(3). But none of these chances were impossible to be; for, strange indeed though this may seem, the Istari, being clad in bodies of Middle-Earth, might even as Men and Elves fall away from their purposes, and do evil, forgetting the good in the search for power to effect it."  There is a footnote in this passage (in the book it is the third such footnote, so I have left it as 3 in the quote above):

"In a letter written in 1958 my father said that he knew nothing about 'the other two,' since they were not concerned in the history of the North-west of Middle-earth. ’I think,' he wrote, 'they went as emissaries to distant regions, East and South, far out of Númenórean range: missionaries to enemy-occupied lands, as it were. What success they had I do not know; but I fear that they failed, as Saruman did, though doubtless in different ways; and I suspect they were founders or beginners of secret cults and 'magic' traditions that outlasted the fall of Sauron.'" (This is found in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 211, where he responds to a question about the color of the two wizards mentioned in LotR, but never named, among a multitude of other questions).

Hmmm, sounds a lot like the quest text description above, doesn’t it? “I have heard that they serve Mordor in direct disregard for the mandates of their master, a man who calls himself Yirokhsar the Blue, a sorcerer of no small power, they say."

Keep in mind, that the Istari, or “Wizards,” were sent to Middle-Earth by the Lords of the West in Valinor only to move Men and Elves to action against the rising of Sauron. There is so much we could delve into about that alone, but I’ll save that for another blog post that McFarlane can dive into if she wishes.

But while roaming around in the Brown Lands, you do come across Blue Caste Sorcerers. This may allude to one of the Blue Wizards, much like White Hand Orcs/Uruks are under the sway of Saruman the White. Only time will tell if we are able to confront one of these Blue Wizards in the future of LotRO, as this does open up many possibilities for future storylines, especially with not much information on them in the lore.

Sources: Unfinished Tales, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien

March 24, 2012

Eregion Part II: The Ring Lore of Eregion

Or, "Why Exactly Did the Elves Help Sauron Make His Rings of Power?"

Or, "Sauron is Evil?  But He's Soooo CUTE!"

Who hasn't run the School and/or Library at Tham Mírdain over and over again?  Who hasn't read about the Doors to Moria and wondered what the text meant, beyond the simple translation?  Who hasn't sought after a Symbol, or Worn Symbol, of Celebrimbor in order to craft a yummy legendary item?  Who hasn't run through the latter Books of Volume I, encountering that rotten Amarthiel seeking her ring, Narchuil, and wondered how a nice Elf girl like Narmeleth could have ended up the way she did? 

The timeline of Appendix B to the Lord of the Rings shows us that Eregion was settled by the Noldor Elves in the year 750 of the Second Age.  Fortunately for us, we are able to learn more in other sources, usch as the Silmarillion.  However, the version here is largely from Unfinished Tales, and I love the extra details it provides on Eregion, Sauron's relationship with the Elves there, and the Rings of Power.  However, we do need to note that at times there are minor discrepancies between what appears in the account in Unfinished Tales and the information in Lord of the Rings, and I will try to point those instances out when they occur.

We learn that it was Galadriel and Celeborn who settled Eregion.  With them they brought a talented Elven smith named Celebrimbor, who is described as having "an almost dwarvish obsession with crafts," and who became the head crafter in Eregion.  His love of crafting made him a natural ally of the dwarves next door in Moria, particularly one named Narvi.  (Sound familiar?  "I, Narvi, made them.  Celebrimbor of Hollin drew these signs."  Some of the words found on the western door into Moria.)  A strong relationship was enjoyed between the Elves of Eregion and the Dwarves of Moria, with both sides benefiting immensely (although Celeborn still didn't care much for Dwarves).

This was taking place about 700 years after the end of the First Age and the overthrow of Morgoth.  One of his great Lieutenants, Sauron, had fled and laid low for a few hundred years.  At around year 500 of the Second Age, Sauron began to stir again and eventually became aware of the Elves settling in Eregion, establishing Mordor as his own "seat" of rule in the year 1000.  Sauron hated the Elves.  He did try to destroy them in the First Age, after all.  They just didn't care about Middle Earth in the way HE cared about it, you see.  In the Second Age he hoped to again attempt to bring them under his dominion.

Sauron as Anatheron
In the year 1200, Sauron went to visit the Elves of Eregion in the guise of Annatar, a beautiful emissary of the Valar, supposedly sent there to provide aid to the Elves.  Sauron used all of his charm and art to ingratiate himself with Celebrimbor and the other artisans of Eregion, who by this point had formed a tightly knit and powerful society called the Gwaith-i-Mírdain.  Somehow Galadriel and Celeborn, without of course realizing who he was, remained immune to him and maintained a suspicious view of him.

In this fair guise Sauron taught much to the Gwaith-i-Mírdain, drawing them closer and closer to him, and shockingly convinced them to revolt against Galadriel and Celeborn.  According to Unfinished Tales this occurred some time between 1350 and 1400 of the Second Year.  At this point, Galadriel left Eregion, passing through Moria, into Lorien (this account indicates she took her daughter, Celebrian, AND her son, Amroth with her - for a history of Amroth and whether or not he was really a child of Galadriel and Celeborn see my prior post on Lothlorien).  Celeborn, however, was a Dwarf-hater and would not enter Moria, thus staying behind in Eregion, scorned by Celebrimbor.  It was at this time that Sauron had the Gwaith-i-Mírdain begin forging the Rings of Power, without their knowledge of what they were being created for.

Sauron then returned to Mordor, and crafted the One Ring in the fires of Orodruin.  Celebrimbor, who had been blind but never "corrupted in heart or faith," now learned who Annatar was and of the existence of the One Ring, and went to Galadriel for guidance.  They unfortunately "failed to find the strength" to destroy the Rings of Power.  Galadriel instructed him to give the Three for the Elves, since they were made by Celebrimbor alone, without the aid of Sauron, to Elves for safekeeping.  Hence she received Nenya, the Ring of Adamant, and the other two Rings were given to Gil-Galad.  Gil-Galad later passed Vilya, the Ring of Air, to Elrond and Narya, the Ring of Fire to Cirdan the Shipwright, who then passed it to Gandalf.

Mural venerating Anatheron.
Once Sauron learned his disguise was blown and Celebrimbor had abandoned him, he became enraged and set forth to attack and destroy Eregion.  Gil-Galad learned of the plan, and sent Elrond forth with a host to help defend Eregion, but they were too far away and too late.  Celeborn briefly drove Sauron's vanguard back, but the main host was too large and powerful - the devastation of Eregion thus occurred.  Sauron was able to capture "the House of the Mírdain, where were their smithies and their treasures"  and took the Nine Rings for Men, but did not find the Seven for the Dwarves (for the first time ever, Snow White just popped into my mind) or the Three for the Elves.  He captured Celebrimbor and, under torture, learned where the Seven were.  (Appendix A indicates the belief of the Dwarves that the Ring received by Durin was not among those tainted by Sauron.)  Celebrimbor would not reveal the location of the Three, however, and was killed by Sauron.

"In black anger he turned back to battle; and bearing as a banner Celebrimbor's body hung upon a pole, shot through with Orc-arrows, he turned upon the forces of Elrond.  Elrond had gathered such few of the Elves of Eregion as had escaped, but he had no force to withstand the onset.  He would indeed have been overwhelmed had no Sauron's host been attacked in the rear; for Durin sent out a force of Dwarves from Khazad-dum, and with them came Elves of Lorinand led by Amroth.  Elrond was able to extricate himself, but he was forced away northwards, and it was at that time (in the year 1697, according to the Tale of Years) that he established a refuge and stronghold at Imladris.  Sauron withdrew the pursuit of Elrond and turned upon the Dwarves and the Elves of Lorinand, whom he drove back; but the Gates of Moria were shut, and he could not enter.  Ever afterwards Moria had Sauron's hate, and all Orcs were commanded to harry Dwarves whenever they might."

In LOTRO, Turbine could not use the name Annatar because it is not mentioned in the LotR; instead we get to meet him as Anatheron in the Session Play "Daughter of Strife" - where we see the LOTRO character Narmeleth representing how easily swayed the Gwaith-i-Mírdain must have been.  Thanks to LOTRO-Wiki for the photo as I can't get back in there to take one myself!  Also thanks to One Wiki to Rule them All for the mural photo.

So much Lore tied to Eregion - how it was first settled by Elves and what drove Galadriel and Celeborn to later move to Lorien, the roots of the brief good relationship between them and the Dwarves of Moria, how the Rings of Power came to be crafted and the Three ending up with their eventual owners, even the origins of Imladris tie in here.

Sources:  Lord of the Rings Appendix A, Appendix B; Unfinished Tales, The Silmarillion

March 21, 2012

The Brown Lands

Despite every expectation that the name might convey, it was a joy to be able to enter and quest in this area.  As is the case with my entire blog, Here Be Spoilers.  If you haven't ventured this far in your questing and don't wish to be disappointed, read at your peril!

The Brown Lands feature on various maps of Middle Earth created by Professor Tolkien, and certainly served as the locale for certain points of Lore.  When I first learned the term "scorched earth policy" in a history class long ago, I carried that image into every reading of LotR ever after.  This region personifies that - this isn't the healthy, earthy brown hues of living things; this is the brown of death.  Even the air is tinted brown.

The Desolation of the Gardens
Our main ally post in the Brown Lands is Etheburg.  This makes me think of a passage from Unfinished Tales, where Eorl the Young talks about returning after Cirion had granted to him the lands that would become Rohan, leaving some men behind to keep order while others returned home to gather their families and belongings.  "....the main force shall remain in the North-east to guard above all the place where the Balchoth made a crossing of the Anduin out of the Brown Lands; for there is still the greatest danger, and there also is my chief hope, if I return, of leading my people into their new land with as little grief and loss as may be."  For he planned to bring his people back down the east side of the Anduin (choosing this side despite having to travel in the shadow of Dol Guldur, avoiding travel down the western side of Anduin in part due to it not being easily traveled by horses/wagons but also because it would take them near the "Dwimordene where dwells the White Lady and weaves nets that no mortal can pass" - such a reputation Galadriel built up for herself!).

The Brown Lands have been so for 3000 years - Treebeard references traveling here during the time of the "war between Sauron and the Men of the Sea" to find "a desert:  it was all burned and uprooted, for war had passed over it." 

Nice blind shot, Legolas!
This is also the place Turbine has chosen to have the Company  encounter the Nazgûl and shoot down him and his mount on their trip down the Anduin, not knowing what manner of foe it was (though Frodo of course had his suspicions).  "Suddenly the great bow of Lorien sang.  Shrill went the arrow from the elven-string.  Frodo looked up.  Almost above him the winged shape swerved.  There was a harsh croaking scream, as it fell out of the air, vanishing down into the gloom of the eastern shore.  The sky was clean again.  There was a tumult of many voices far away, cursing and wailing in the darkness, and then silence.  Neither shaft nor cry came again from the east that night."  Too bad it hadn't fallen just a littttttle more to the west.

But of course the big draw for me to the Brown Lands was the chance of hearing more about the Entwives, and this did not disappoint at all.

As Treebeard tells Merry and Pippin, when the world was young the Ents and Entwives walked together and housed together, but their "hearts did not go on growing in the same way" - what a wonderful way to put it!  The Entwives became most concerned with growing things that produced seeds and berries and nuts that could be harvested, things that could be cultivated and trained.  The Entwives sought "order, and plenty, and peace (by which they meant that things should remain where they had set them)."  Another wonderful description!  At the time when the Darkness came in the North, the Entwives crossed the Anduin to plant gardens and fields, and taught their knowledge and skills to Men.  But the Ents and Entwives saw less and less of each other as the years passed, until the visit Treebeard made to discover they were gone.

As far as the Ents were concerned, they were gone, not dead.  He makes this very clear to Pippin and Merry.  As he states, songs were made of the search of the Ents for the Entwives.  Some people said they saw them heading west, or east; others said south.  Some never saw them at all.  Nowhere could the Ents find any trace of them, however, and they eventually returned to their forests.  Ent legend holds that the two will meet again some day in a new land where both can be happy, but that it cannot happen until both have lost everything dear to them.

This is why Treebeard is particularly interested in learning more about the Shire; based on the description he gets from Merry and Pippin, it naturally sounds like a place the Entwives would have dearly loved.

In my post on the Old Forest, I talk about how Turbine cleverly found a semi-resting place for these highly sought Entwives.  Truly, do the Flowers of the Old Forest quest - use a map if it makes you crazy, several good ones exist! - and most importantly hover over each flower's deed once you complete it.  I had always noted that a flower for one famous name was missing, and I wondered why - until now.  I won't spoil this, and will instead leave it for you to find in the Brown Lands.

We also see more mention of the Entwives in the dialogue that appears in the green haven, Limlight Glade, you eventually reach when visiting the Limlight Gorge to knock out the quests in that region.  If you stay to listen, you also encounter some very neat dialogue between one of the Ents here and an Elf, Ordhrien (who reveals himself to be over 3000 years old), including the following:

Ordhrien says, ''Have you considered the Lady's offer yet Thickbark?''
Ordhrien says, ''Such an alliance could protect both our forests.''
Thickbark says, ''Oh? Indeed. Hrrm...''
Thickbark says, ''Then tell me, where were the Galadhrim when our Gardens were despoiled by the enemy?''
Ordhrien says, ''What?''
Ordhrien says, ''We were fighting... *I* was fighting - on the very slopes of Mount Doom!''
Thickbark says, ''Haroom... No doubt. No doubt. You are a great warrior. That much I can see.''
Thickbark says, ''But Mount Doom was a long way away from the Gardens... a long way indeed.''
Thickbark says, ''Too far and too late, I am afraid, to be of any help to us.''
Ordhrien says, ''Nothing I say can change what happened then. But we can still help each other now.''
Thickbark says, ''Hrrmm... I suppose we could help you, yes. We are still strong. Strong enough for orcs.''
Thickbark says, ''But I do not think you can help us. Hrrumm... It has been too late for that for a long time now.''

The real Lore about the Entwives is less encouraging.  Fortunately this isn't mentioned in the Lord of the Rings, so it leaves the ability to conjecture in the LOTRO storyline.  Yet Professor Tolkien was frequently asked about the fate of the Entwives.  In a letter (Letter 144) the fate of the Entwives does not sound promising:  "What happened to them is not resolved in this book. ... I think that in fact the Entwives had disappeared for good, being destroyed with their gardens in the War of the Last Alliance (Second Age 3429-3441) when Sauron pursued a scorched earth policy and burned their land against the advance of the Allies down the Anduin. They survived only in the 'agriculture' transmitted to Men (and Hobbits). Some, of course, may have fled east, or even have become enslaved: tyrants even in such tales must have an economic and agricultural background to their soldiers and metal-workers. If any survived so, they would indeed be far estranged from the Ents, and any rapprochement would be difficult -- unless experience of industrialised and militarised agriculture had made them a little more anarchic. I hope so. I don't know."  Readers can and do still debate what this all means, but in the end, I myself am left with little hope that they survived.

That's why I'm so glad Turbine is able to give us a way to experience a happier ending for this great story.

Sources:  Unfinished Tales, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien

March 13, 2012

Eorl the Young and Cirion, Steward of Gondor

How is everyone enjoying Update 6 so far?  I am loving it!  Yes, I had the day off yesterday and spent many hours exploring from the moment my update completed.  Some kinmates and I even tried out the new instance last night on Tier 2 - easy it ain't!  We worked out how to get past the first boss, but the last boss...I'll just leave that to you all to discover on your own!

New content is always exciting, but particularly with this latest update I expected lore to be abundant in this new area, and already on the first day I have not been disappointed.  There is so much lore in previous areas I have yet to cover, and I don't want to engage in spoilers for the new content since it is only a day old.

But just ONE couldn't hurt, right?  At any rate, I can't resist.  I'm not even going to try to resist.

Let me say I absolutely love the village of Stangard.  That's ALL I'll say about it for now.  But as I traveled to the west of Stangard, I encountered a truly breathtaking sight - two humongous statues so large it was difficult to fit them in my screen or find a good spot to view them from.  It felt like standing underneath a miniature version of the Argonath.

As we learn in a quest line, these noble statues represent Eorl the Young and Cirion, Steward of Gondor, and celebrates the victory on the Field of Celebrant in year 2510 of the Third Age, and the forging of a mighty union that would last over 500 years.

So who exactly were these two, and what was the battle on the Field of Celebrant, and why do we need to know about them?

Cirion was the Steward of Gondor, 12th in line after the last King of Gondor, Eärnur, died/disappeared without an heir (and my goodness, is THAT a story for some other time - although we aren't anywhere near the point of seeing lore about him yet in LOTRO-see my comments below) in year 2050 of the Third Age.

During the time of Cirion's Stewardship Gondor was invaded both by Easterlings as well as Orcs from the Misty Mountains.  The host from Gondor was threatened and defeated in one area and driven toward the Limlight, with things looking dire indeed.  Cirion had sent a call to help to the north to a people who were led by a man named Eorl the Young.

"Eorl the Young was lord of the Men of Éothéod.  That land lay near the sources of Anduin, between the furthest ranges of the Misty Mountains and the northernmost parts of Mirkwood.  The Éothéod had moved to those regions in the days of King Eärnil II from lands in the vales of Anduin between the Carrock and the Gladden, and they were in origin close akin to the Beornings and the men of the west-eaves of the forest.  The forefathers of Eorl claimed descent from the kings of Rhovanion, whose realm lay beyond Mirkwood before the invasions of the Wainriders, and thus they accounted themselves kinsmen of the kings of Gondor descended from Eldacar." [note from McF:  this is NOT the same Eldacar who was a king of Arnor and part of the Tombs of Elendil tour]

Once Eorl heard of the need of his friends to the south, he led a large host of riders and came to the Field of Celebrant - or Parth Celebrant (hey, one of the areas in Update 6!) - as was called the land that lay between the Silverlode and Limlight.  The riders from the north helped Gondor utterly defeat the invading hosts.

"Cirion, therefore, in reward for his aid, gave Calenardhon  between Anduin and Isen to Eorl and his people; and they sent north for their wives and children and their goods and settled in that land.  They named it anew the Mark of the Riders, and they called themselves the Eorlingas; but in Gondor their land was called Rohan, and its people the Rohirrim (that is, the Horse-lords).  Thus Eorl became the first King of the Mark, and he chose for his dwelling a green hill before the feet of the White Mountains that were the south-wall of his land.  There the Rohirrim lived afterwards as free men under their own kings and laws, but in perpetual alliance with Gondor."

Was the land completely empty when Cirion gifted it to Eorl and his people?  Hardly.  Ever wonder why the Dunlendings hate the Horse-lords so much?  Here lies the root of that hate.  As is always the case with history, there's more than one side to a story.

This is why I find Turbine doing such a wonderful job in examining the great events of Middle Earth from more than one perspective.  I can't wait to see what I find around the next corner.

Sources:  Lord of the Rings Appendices A and B

March 12, 2012

Happy Update 6!

Happy Update 6 day everyone!

A whole new area full of lore to explore.  It's awesome being able to move into the lore of the southern regions and peoples, which is often less well known.

Have fun exploring!

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