Book XV is the final final act of Volume I of the epic quest line Lord of the Rings Online. Getting past it wraps up the tale of the game before the Mines of Moria is unlocked.
We left off previously with Amarthiel defeated, deprived of the ring Narchuil, the lesser ring that corrupter her, and forced to watch her father, who had strove so hard over these last few books in order to save his daughter, struck down before her.
Mordirith awarded the ring to Mordrambor and they both left, confident in their victory.
There on the ground the narrator told us that Amarthiel was taken into custody, which ended Book XIV.
Book XV starts off with Elrond ordering an investigation of Amarthiel, who has decided to return to her original name Narmeleth, to see whether or not she poses a threat to the free peoples. This got delegated down the Rivendell hierarchy until it landed back in my lap.
The first thing was to go out and speak with her at her prison in Delossad, where she had been held by her father previously… so lots of good memories there… and possibly where she murdered and took the guise of Sara Oakheart.
That sets you on a course through the next few chapters of investigating and reliving formative points, including when Antheron… Sauron in a fair disguise, name changed from Annatar probably due to Turbine not holding the rights to works outside of the trilogy… tempts her to the dark side by offering to teach her to make wonderful things.
Feanor made the silmarils, the jewels which captured the light of the two trees, Laurelin and Telperion, which were deemed the greatest work of craft by the elves, the theft of which was the root cause of the problems of the Third Age.
Given that, I’m not sure a ring would really be beyond the imagination of Fearnor. And while it is within every salesperson to shade the truth, you’d think one of the Noldor, the kin of Fearnor might smell a rat in that. But given that they forged all those rings of power, maybe not. Elves.
The highlight of this set of investigative and marginally informative interludes is that even the devs seemed to have realized by that point that making you run, ride, or recall all over Eriador was really getting old, so the quest chain actually teleports you around. You accept some of the quests, like the one telling you to report in at Esteldin, and you just get sent there.
You still have to go do the ground work, find people, count noses, pick up a broken sword from a grave… I wasn’t aware that there would be so much broken gear and grave robbery when I signed up for this gig… but at least the whole series cut back on the whole need to travel to talk to somebody who will then send you off to do the actual task thing.
This all winds up with you and Narmeleth being sent off to defeat Mordrambor, destroy Narchuil, and throw down Mordirith, lest they overrun Eriador in the name of Sauron.
My thought on the plan was along the lines of, “Didn’t we get our asses handed to us by this duo a couple of times already, even when Narmeleth/Amarthiel had the ring helping her?” I mean, our ace in the hole was the broken blade of the sword that didn’t slay Mordirith back in Book 8. How it that going to work out well? But you go where the plot dictates, so I followed Narmeleth into Gador Gularan.
Narmeleth at least dropped the “must walk very slowly” trait she used when in the guise of Sara Oakheart. I will give her that. But one of the elements of this instance was keeping her alive and, in the grand style of LOTRO escort quests, she showed all the usual subtly in passing through danger… which means she couldn’t have drawn more aggro if she had walked into an Orc bar in Mordor clad in her elven finery and took a whizz on the symbol of the unblinking eye.
Keeping her alive was a chore, as she chose to run headlong into every room like a tank in a WoW Dungeon Finder group, intent on grabbing ALL the aggro right away. Fortunately, as a guardian, I can pull aggro back, but she seemed intent on swapping to target the mob I had the least hold on so as to beat on it until she got aggro back.
And to top that off, her speedy gait… literally running to the next fight at times… meant that she was headed into danger with half health as well. This must be a painful instance with a hunter or a burglar.
Still, I managed to shepherd her through the preliminaries despite her death wish, only to have her drop the usual NPC bombshell when the big fight looms.
Playing “the ring might still have a power over me” card, Narmeleth said she would be there ringside for the fight, but there would be no tapping her in.
There was a bit of good news to go with this however.
For the square off against Mordrambor apparently only one member of your fellowship is supposed to get in there and fight him. This was good news, to me at least, since doing this solo I had been buffed up to have the strength of a whole fellowship in a single dwarf. In the classic Sir Robin, “That’s easy!” frame of mind I dove into the battle.
Fighting Mordrambor wasn’t really a chore. With the buffs, and being a guardian, I was handling him pretty well. Only after a while did I realize what the rest of your fellowship is supposed to be doing while one of you fights Mordrambor; protect Narmeleth.
I suddenly realized that her health bar was extremely low. Fighting with my back to her I hadn’t noticed that she had attracted some mobs and was literally standing in the fire, quietly dying. I ran back to her and cleared off the attackers, but her health bar was dangerously low. After that I had to shuttle back and forth between her and Mordrambor. But her health was too low to last, and soon disaster struck.
So it was back to the start again.
This time, knowing her style, I immediately ran ahead to grab mobs before she got in the room, saving myself a lot of hassle in trying to rescue her every time the cave got wide enough for some orcs to hang out.
We faced Mordrambor again. This time I positioned myself to fight him while watching her, running back and forth as needed.
Mordrambor just stays in his spot when you run back to her, which seemed pretty sporting of him. It would have been easy for him to just stick me in the back while I was attending to other issues.
Forewarned of the dynamics, Mordrambor was defeated. Narmeleth took the ring from him and, after the usual reminiscing over the power the ring gave her, tossed it into the molten pool, destroying it.
That left Mordirith.
He was deeper in Gador Gularan and, when we arrived, acted the smug host saying that our arrival was not unexpected. The usual villain puffery. And so we got stuck into fighting him. His trick for the battle was to summon up people from past chapters in an effort to throw Narmeleth. But that wasn’t going to throw me.
Those multiplied in number with each round, though the individual illusions grew weaker as they were split, so five Laerdans were no more difficult than three Sara Oakhearts.
After that played out… who was he going to use after Laerdan… Narmeleth called out Mordirith to come and face her like a… whatever he is… and he didn’t, knocking her down, stunning me, and taking control of the camera to keep it focused on him. And then he proceeded to monologue.
During this whole speech the character models interact in a very odd way, with Narmeleth’s head lolling about, eyes open and an awkward look on her face, as Mordirith seems to move her about like he is rubbing her head on his torso. I realize that it is just that the models… and human bodies… just don’t bend that way gracefully, but I have to admit I found it a bit distracting.
This ends in the expected way, with the delay letting Narmeleth rally while the content of the monologue only enrages her, letting her anger and determination combine so that when he starts making fun of her father she strikes.
She sticks him with the sword and he is reported as “thrown into the void… never to return” as Narmeleth lays there. She declares that her time no Middle-earth is ending as well and asks me not to weep, though by this point I think she is delirious and mistaking relief with sorrow.
After that it was back to rewind up the chain of command, back to Elrond, who gives you an epilogue task that has you rooting around Laerdan’s room for a package he has left for you. That awards you a cosmetic cloak, a mount, some legendary item experience (wasted, since I don’t have one yet), a portrait of Narmeleth to hang in your house (also wasted, as LOTRO housing does not appeal to me), and a title to commemorate your deed.
And so it goes.
At that point I had pretty much accomplished what I had set out to do on the legendary server. As with any run through content I’ve done before… some of it many times when it comes to LOTRO… I managed to go through some old favorites while seeing some bits I had not done before.
I had some idea about doing an alt or two through the original content as well, but at this point I am feeling more like taking a bit of a break. I played pretty regularly over the last three month, logging in nightly to play over the first eight weeks at least. That tapered off some towards the end as the end of the epic quest line came within sight.
I might go back and finish off some lower level deeds as the month goes by, but I doubt LOTRO will rank as high in my play time this month as it did last.
The main question is probably whether I will return for the unlocking of The Mines of Moria, currently slated for “March-ish.” That is in doubt. Most of my affection for LOTRO lays in the first fifty levels. I don’t dislike Moria, but neither do I yearn for it or the annoyance of the legendary item system. And beyond Moria there isn’t much to pull me. I found Mirkwood a bore, its dark tedium a barrier between me and any further content.
But the main issue is that come March we will be getting into the EverQuest 20th anniversary events, and there is a distinct possibility that my focus will lay there rather than in Middle-earth.
So we shall see where I end up come the end of the month I suppose.