Tag Archives: Sara Oakheart

Book XV Denouement in Eriador

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.

They’re just making up their own legends at this point

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.

Setup for the final book

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.

Oversell much?

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.

Wait, after all that you’re not going to get close to him?

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.

Wait, how many of us do you see?  How many fingers am I holding up?

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.

Me either… say something next time!  Also, get out of the damn fire!

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.

I’m watching you… don’t stand in the fire!

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.

Slay Sara Oakheart? Dare I live the Middle-earth dream?

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.

Talk about your daddy issues!

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.

Gloating villain mistake… soon you’ll be telling her your plans

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.

In with the red currents!

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.

Champion of Eriador

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.

There is Something About Sara

So there I was in Agmar having sent Mordirith packing back to Mordor and sitting around with Golodir wondering if I should just shuffle off to Forochel or Eregion to finish out my run to level 50.  I was already well into level 48 by then, had explored deeper into Angmar than I had ever done before, and was starting to feel as though a bit of a break might be in order before SSG decided to unlock Moria for us.

Have I had all of the Legends I can stomach yet?

But there was the starter for the Volume I, Book 9 series of quests, complete with a new set of related deeds indicating that Volume I stretched out into a total of 15 books.  And, well, I’ve never finished Volume I of the epic quest line before, but I’ve done Eregion and Forochel in the past, so I figured I might as well go with something new… new-ish… to me.

Also, UtlrViolet is clearly daring me to carry on with this.

As I left off last post we had Sara Oakheart appear out of nowhere and steal the palantir from Carn Dum without any rhyme or reason that I could grasp.  So, of course I had to go to Rivendell to seek advice.  The change up this time was speaking to Gandalf.  I guess we cannot have Elrond carrying the whole load on the Rivendell rubber stamp front.

Gandalf was about as helpful as I had come to expect.  After a bit of “Wait, what?” from him, he sent me back to Golodir.  You know, back where I just was.  I did stop for a bit to way good-bye to the fellowship, as the start of the Volume II quest line was at hand.

Good luck storming the dark land

After that, it was back to Angmar to carry on.

Golodir hadn’t been idle while I was away.  His scouts had found Sara Oakheart out by Barad Gularan, that creepy multi-spired place I commented on in the last post.  It looks very cool.

In Golodir’s office at Gath Forthnir

Naturally, my job is to go find her.

Fortunately, in that last round of quests about Barad Gularan, where I had to fetch Golodir’s missing gear, I had gotten a feel for how to get about without getting stomped by an elite master giant or anything, so I was able to wend my way around to where Sara was waiting.

Sara just waiting for me… looking a little low-res

Naturally, on checking in with her, she asked me to follow her.  This was just what I was dreading, another Sara Oakheart slow motion escort quest.  But this time Sara doesn’t hang about.

Sara proves she has the moves

She led me off to a room inside the tower with an altar and some people in rows like pews and some clearly Mordor-esque characters hanging about.  There she stuns me… again… and stars he routine.

Sara’s setup

And, as it turns out, she is not Sara Oakheart at all… and probably never was… or something.

Amarthiel revealed

So there we go.  That slow walk escort quest way back in Bree… it WAS a plot by Mordor just to annoy us.

Anyway, in her Amarthiel guise she immediately gets on the palantir to Mordor to speak directly with Sauron, just in case anybody wasn’t clear on which side of the war she was on.

Calling Mordor, come in Mordor…

Her thing is apparently the ring Narchuil, one of the lesser rings.  Not the one or the three or the seven or the nine, but one of the practice rings made by the elves when Sauron was in his Annatar guise and helping the elves along with their ring lore before they figured out his scheme.

Then, after the whole Bond villain reveal sequence she kills me.

Well, that is that… also, I still have a pile of mithril coins there, don’t I?

Well, she doesn’t kill me.  She defeats me.  Or something.  I don’t know.  Nobody dies in LOTRO, you don’t have health points, just morale, and when you lose that you retreat.  So while this seems like very much a point in time where a baddie might try to kill the hero, necessitating an unlikely rescue or escape scenario, here Turbine just defaults to the rules of the game and lets me be defeated to re-appear elsewhere.

Seems like a bit of a cheat, really.  But there you go.  We’re well outside of Tolkein’s works with this already.  This is all Turbine “keep people busy while we finish Moria” lore.

And speaking of keeping people busy, the whole thing devolves into a search of the various zones in Eriador in an attempt to find Narchuil before the forces of Angmar.  This starts off with finding and slaying some random champions of Angmar salted about in some earlier zones.  They’re related to Mordirith who is tied up in this somehow.  So there is a guy holed up in a corner of the Lone Lands with the trolls, who seem surprisingly chill about this guy just setting up in one of their caves.

Just hanging out with the trolls

He isn’t much help.  I slay him… or maybe I just defeat him… and his buddies hiding in Ered Luin and in the North Downs.

Eventually we end up in Evendim because Annuminas is key in this somehow.  There we eventually track down Sara or Amarthiel and hatch a cunning plan to get back the palantir.

Wait, that’s our plan? Just grab it and run?

But there is no “you’re all crazy” dialog response option in LOTRO, so off we went into Barad Tironn Worlds to find the palantir.

Even Amarthiel seems a bit surprised that we have arrived.  But there is the palatir sitting in its regulation size palatir stand.  Seriously, it is identical to the one in Carn Dum.

You and me both Amarthiel

Then the fight starts and Laerdan says to grab the damn thing and I do and it looks like I am running through Annuminus with a bowling ball.

I do not look happy about this either

I make it to the finish line, the instance is declared a success.  Palantir secured.

Of course, Laerdan gets captured and we eventually have to rescue him.  We also have to get the whole story, via an instance full of flashback creating braziers, to tell the story of Laerdan and his daughter Amarthiel and the ring Narchuil… and Sara freaking Oakheart.

In the flashbacks we learn, ever so slowly, how Laerdan hid Amarthiel away because she had been possessed with the evil in the ring and how Sara Oakheart had one simple set of instructions to follow.

This is all you have to do. Do not color outside of the lines

Of course, she screws this up.

Books? Why not just give her a gun?

And so on.  We find that Amarthiel gets away, but is as pissed about having to be around Sara Oakheart as the rest of us… she was probably as ploddingly slow with the room service as she was with that prologue quest… so she burns Sara’s house down on the way out.

Look, who hasn’t fallen back on arson in such times?

And… well.. a bunch more stuff happened, I ran around the Trollshaws quite a bit, turning level 50 along the way, then it was back to Angmar to rescue Laerdan and eventually end up in Barad Durgul where I found half of the ring Narchuil.

Wait, only half of the ring is here?

Apparently though the ring halves still have some power and could still aid the enemy.  Anyway, it was back to Rivendell after that for a grand consultation and discussion.  You know it is a big deal when you get both Elrond AND Gandalf in the same room.

Wait, which of you said that? And didn’t Gandalf leave Rivendell further up the page?

There we got some more exposition straight from the mouths of various people in the room before we ended up with the idea that the other half of the ring is in Forochel.

And so, at last, I set out for the coldest zone in Eriador to find half a ring.

The Angmar Shuffle

Having entered Angmar and gotten the stable master stop in Gath Forthnir, I was ready to continue on with the epic quest line.  Getting to Gath Forthnir was the first chapter for that.  From there on it was a lot of running around.

Legendary quest line time

The basic plan involves getting Lorniel into Carn Dum in order to find her father, Golodir, a ranger in Angmar who has gone missing.  This is setup in chapters 3 through 6 which sends you to Rivendell to speak to Elrond, then to Thorin’s Gate to speak to Dwalin.  The dwarves need to forge a key to Carn Dum, but of course Dwalin’s smithy doesn’t have all the parts, so you have to go to Michel Delving and Archet in order to pick up pieces.  Then it is back to Thorin’s Gate to make the key, with a side trip to Skorgrim’s Tomb, before finally heading back to Gath Forthnir to tell Lorniel you have the key.  I would dearly love to find out the burglar class gets to skip all of that by simply picking the lock, but I suspect that wouldn’t pass muster.  Surprisingly, after riding across all of Eriador, she still remembers who you are when you finally return.

Sorry I’ve been gone for what must have been months

All of that gets you on the way to the Carn Dum instance where you must escort Lorniel and keep her safe as she searches for her father.

We’re going to Carn Dum

Like many of the quests in the epic line, this one has been change to give you a special boost to allow you to do it solo.

And so you use the key and enter Carn Dum and follow Lorniel as she runs directly into danger.  So it goes with escort quests.  I actually failed at the very end of the instance when I wasn’t able to pull aggro off of her at one point and she was defeated.  So I had to do the instance all over again.

Whatever.  With that boost at least I could kill the trolls in Carn Dum, which helped me move a deed along.  The second time I was more careful.  You get an opportunity to run ahead at one point at clear the path, so you don’t face so many mobs at once.  And so we made it to the end of the instance to face Mordirith.

Wait, what others? I’m the only one here.

And, of course, Mordirith slays Lorniel, because irony demanded it I suppose.  I worked so hard to get her there safe and this is what I get.

Yeah, thanks man

But I did get Golodir back.  That finished up Book 7 and led into Book 8 which, as you might guess, involves Golodir going back to get Mordirith.  But not before another set of collections.

Not that Golodir was having it to start with.  In his misery he sent me off to Laerdan who had a plan… a plan that involved me finding yet more trinkets.  I was off to Barad Gularan out in Nan Gurth for another repo job.  Golodir’s gear was being held and I was tasked to get it.

I have to admit that Barad Gularan is one of the more badass locations in Middle-earth.  Admittedly, I haven’t been to Mordor yet, but this place is pretty neat.  It is a set of towers that you have to approach individually via various winding paths and bridges.

Barad Gularan from one side

The screen shots don’t really do it justice.

Barad Gularan around the other side

The trick here is that this area was set up for raid groups.  At least I assume it was set up for raid groups, since elite master mobs are wandering around near the base of the whole thing so if you take the wrong path you can end up in a world of hurt.

I don’t even know what an Elite Master mob really is

You have to find Golodir’s sword, shirt, and shield, each of which is behind a door up one of the paths to the tower.  The key is that each is held by a different type of mob (hill man, goblin, and dwarf), so you can tell you’re on the right path when you spot those mobs.  Follow them up the path to the door, behind which is the instance where you get to defeat the champion of each.

I’ll take what’s behind the red door I guess…

Each encounter has its own mechanic, which seems easy enough to figure out.  The buff you get makes you more than powerful enough.  So I was able to best each of them and collect all of Golodir’s missing gear.

Outside of the Goblin door there is a quest.  Dirdre wants you to release her and escort her to safety.

This is going to be an escort quest, isn’t it?

However, since the first thing she did upon being released was run straight into a mass of goblins, I left her to her fate.  She wasn’t on my list of things to acquire.

Back in Gath Forthnir it was found that the gear needed some sprucing up before we gave it to Golodir, so I was back on my horse to visit various locations in Eriador.  It turns out there is no one-stop repair shop for gear, so it was Esteldin for the mail shirt and the shield, then Rivendell to get an elf to work on the sword.

I’m not sure dunking it in there will help

With all the gear now looking good we were able to revive Golodir’s spirits and get him out of his room and on his way to challenge Mordirith.  And so we were off into the palace within Carn Dum.  Golodir had a warning as we arrived.

Yeah, I’m on it

Mordirith’s main plan seemed to be to monologue us into defeat.  That and to toss some of his minions at us in every room as we advanced to the main chamber.  So it went, quip, kill, quip, kill, until we arrived in the big room.

Look, are you going to fight us or what?

There, in the throne room, before the dais on which sat his throne, we finally got stuck into Mordirith.  Again, there is a mechanic to the battle that is pretty simple to figure out once the event is on.  You cannot damage Mordirith until Golodir does his special thing, so you just kite the big guy around until he is vulnerable and they lay into him with all you’ve got while you have the chance.

Mordirith doesn’t hit too hard, but the level of dread is high… and I didn’t have anything besides the good old Glass of Aglaral to counter act that… special edition for the win I guess… so my hit points were essentially cut in half.  That was enough that I had to get on my bicycle and stay out of range so the solo buff would heal me up some.

Mordirith continues to talk and sends visions of Lorniel out to torment Golodir, but it is to no avail.  We have his number and soon enough he realizes the jig is up.

Golodir, he’s behind you

There was a bit more dialog as Mordirith assured us that he was down but not wholly defeated before he fled.  Then the fight was done and I was wandering around, taking a few screen shots of the throne room and wiping my backside on the tapestries of Angmar.

Pretty sweet setup Mordirith had here

Golodir had the flaming ring above his head, which I assumed was just going to be the end of the instance, let’s go home part of the event.  But when I interacted with him, rather than the usual cheers all around, he announced that the east gate of the throne room had opened.

Indeed it had.

And who should walk in through the gate but Sara freaking Oakheart.

Enter Sara stage right

I did a search and found that I have not mentioned Sara Oakheart on the blog.  I feel remiss in that, since she is the prime reason to roll up any race besides that of man.  In the epic quest prologue out of Bree called The Hideout, she is the target of an escort quest.  As usual, she won’t leave until she has fetched some nick nack taken from her, a stick in this case.  Everybody is always so worried about their possessions when you’re trying to save them.

But the big deal about her is that she may be the slowest escort target ever in the history of fantasy MMORPGs.  The mobs arrayed to stop her escape are practically tapping their feet and fidgeting with impatience waiting for her to make her way to them.  She is practically legendary in her slowness and stands as a measure against which all other escort quests measured.

I go on about Pengail in the Lone Lands or Lalia in the Barrow Downs, but creeping along with Sara Oakheart is the real misery.  Even Dirdre up the page here, she may have headed straight into a mob of goblins, but at least she was quick about it.

She also, oddly enough, appears in the Elf/Dwarf prologue, but you don’t have to escort her.  She is just a captive of the goblins… seems to like being a captive I guess… and thanks you for releasing her.  Then she grabs he stick and goes while you deal with Skorgrim.

So color me surprised to have her suddenly show up at the end of the instance.  I feel like I must not have been paying attention.  And then double down on that surprise when she stuns us then runs… actually gets up and moves in a way one wished for back when doing that damn escort quest… and steals the palantir from the throne room and scampers off.

Did I not mention the palantir?  Yeah, Mordirith had one.  It was his bat phone to Mordor and he used it to torment Golodir with visions.  It came up a few times, but wasn’t exactly key to the events… until Sara Oakheart stole it.

But now the instance was done, though Golodir had a few words of dread to dispense.

Ever would really be too soon in my book, but I guess now it will be

But at least Mordirith had been thrown down.  That was it for Angmar I suppose.  It was certainly the end for the initial set of epic quests.  With the end of that I had finished the deed for Volume  I of the epic quest line.

Epic Deed Complete

At that point I already had the prologue and opening for Volume II in my quest log.  That features the fellowship of the ring packing up in Rivendell to head out towards Moria.

But I also received the forward to Volume I, Book 9, and that had Sara Oakheart written all over it.