I’m still in the Archet area, doing… something. I’m supposedly here to help the locals, but this entire town is incredibly help-resistant.
Also note that there is a ridiculous amount of content in this game. There are three totally unique areas for level 1-15 content. Each of these has way more quests than you need. You can easily pick and choose to do things based on how fun they sound.
Maida Woodwright is looking for her son. She wrings her hands as she tells me her tale, “I haven’t heard word from me son since this brigand nonsense began, and I’m mighty scared he got caught up in some trouble.”
This makes me sad, but also happy. It’s sad because her son is missing. But happy because at long last I’ll be doing something useful.
“Aw. What did the little guy look like?”, I ask.
“Oh, he’s not little. He’s all grown up.”
“So by ‘getting into trouble’ you mean he… moved out?”
“I hear he’s living out east now.”
“Wait… east?”, I ask, looking out towards the woods where I’ve been working all day. “The only thing east of here is bandits.”
“You know how boys are. So full of energy.”, she explains.
“Why would your son go and move to bandit country in the middle of a siege?”
“Could you make sure he’s all right for me?”
So we’ll find young Woodwright and see what his story is. Let’s head for Chetwood.
On my way out of town, I encounter a human and for the first time in my life I know that jealousy is actually a form of pain.
I’m not sure why her name is longer than the average family tree, but more importantly: Where did she get that outfit!?
Her clothes are gorgeous, sure. But the thing that really captures my attention is that they’re all the same color. Her clothes match. Most people look like me: Random mismatched shades of brown, green, teal, beige, rust, and dirty yellow. It’s like a clown suit that’s been sun-bleached, cut into pieces, stitched back together at random, used a a horse blanket, washed in a muddy river, and then left to mildew. I can’t believe I was ever proud of the rags I’m wearing now.
The lady runs off before I can learn the secret of where to obtain matching clothes. I’ll have to look into that at some point.
So we’re off into the heart of Chetwood, which they should just rename to “Banditburgh” at this point. The population consists of bandits, wolves, bandits, spiders, bandits, boars, and bandits, along with a smattering of my personal favorite: groups of bandits.
I slaughter my way to the gates of the ruins where the bandits live. Sure enough, there he is:
Covell Woodwright. A fine, upstanding member of the bandit community.
“Hullo!”, I greet Covell, “I have a message from your mother…”
“Blaaarg!”, he says, flying into a rage. And with that, he begins with the stabbing and the shouting.
I do not feel good about this. I was sent to bring him a message from his mother, and now I’m in a swordfight with the scoundrel. Still, it’s him or me, and I like me way better than him.
A few seconds later Covell decides that being stabbed in the junk by a raging musician is more trouble than he’s cut out for, and he runs away shouting, “I’ll never abandon the Blackwold!”
Blackwold? I guess that’s what the brigands are calling themselves. Kind of like kids forming a club. How cute. It’s even got the word “black” in it so we know they’re like, dangerous. Well, when they’re not running away from Hobbits, anyway.
Yes, Covell. You’re a member of the Blackwold. And they must be so proud to have you.
Well, this is going to be awkward.
I return to town and break the news to Ma Woodwright. I tell her that he’s joined up with the bad guys and he’s not coming back. I leave out the part where he ran away like a screaming like a little girl on account of me stabbing his junk. I also leave out mentioning that she’s a horrible mother. She drops some coppers on me and we part ways.
Let’s see: So far I’ve buried some heroes in a shallow unmarked grave, recovered a handkerchief, insulted the woodcutter, murdered for a fishing pole, and broke a mother’s heart. I don’t think my campaign is improving the lives of these people the way I hoped it would.
It’s almost as if those years of music lessons left me unprepared to rebuild a city after an invasion.
I think what I need to do is go back to the Shire. I have to settle up with the post office for all of this.
Eh. It’s complicated. You’ll see.
However, it might have been funny to come back to Archet after finishing up the Shire so Jon Brackenbrook could ask me to bury Dirk Mudbrick weeks after he died.
Ahhhh. Home again. I guess I should show you around.
It's pretty here, and at least people know how to build proper homes that don't look like warehouses. But this place isn't all sunshine and gardens.
There's something you should know about Hobbits. They're not psychotic morons like humans. But that doesn't mean they're sensible folk. They're eccentric and silly. This is usually more tolerable than Big People, but they'll still capable of driving you batty if you let them. Speaking of which…
The first person I see when I arrive in town is Mundo Sackville-Baggins.
You remember Mundo. I accidentally rescued him during the battle in Archet. The bad guys had captured him because they were looking for a guy named “Baggins”. After a harrowing night of having heavily armed killers not harming him in the slightest, Mundo was rescued by Amdir and brought to Archet. He then spent another terrifying day relaxing around town while everyone else was hard at workAnd by “hard at work” I mean, “asking me to do hard work for them”. getting ready for the attack. Mundo was then rescued again (by me) during the battle of Archet after having absolutely nothing bad happen to him. (Although, I want to stress that rescuing him was just a side-effect of me being in town and killing everything that wasn’t already on fire.)
So now he’s here in town and he wants to talk to me.
“This is outrageous!”, he huffs indignantly, “I will not be satisfied until I receive just compensation for my treatment at the hands of those Blackwolds!”
“Done.” I tell him. “I killed those guys and then some.”
“No, I mean I want compensation. Money.”
“You want money? Believe me, they don’t have any. I mean, you might be able to score some fishing gear or a list of dead trees, but the Blackwolds are actually somehow poorer that the people they just robbed.” After a few seconds I add, “Oh, and they’re mostly dead now.”
“No! Not from them! I want compensation from everyone else.”
There’s this long pause while I look at him and he looks at me and I look at him and a little more of the Third Age slips away. Finally, I respond, “You want compensation from your fellow citizens for being kidnapped and then not hurt?”
“Were you bitten by giant spiders?”
“Ugh! Of course not!”, he says with disgust.
“Did you have to fight wolves?”
“Were you attacked by a Nazgul? Fight a boar? Get stabbed by brigands?”
“Fight a fire? Bury dead people? Dig up tree stumps with a pick axe? Mauled by a bear?”
“No. But they were very rude to me.”
“I think you are complaining to the wrong Hobbit.”
In the end he gives me a letter for Mayor Whitfoot in Michel Delving. (For you humans, Michel Delving is a town, not a person.) He also gives me 90 coppers for my trouble. I’m heading to Michel Delving anyway, so I might as well take his money.
Nearby is a fellow named Bounder. He invites me to… join the bounders? At first I think this is some kind of lame come-on, but then I remember the bounders are this group of general job-doers around the Shire. Never had need of them myself. Since their job is “do random things for money”, I kind of feel like I must already qualify for the position. Turns out the job comes with a hat. I sign up.
But just beyond Bounder I see…
Days ago I was pulled into the business of warfare and murder because the post office wouldn’t deliver a letter. In attempting to deliver the letter myself, I ended up escorting a postman who led me through a nest of humongous spiders and into a Nazgul. And now I return to the Shire and find a postman standing idle beside a table loaded with mail while he makes no effort whatsoever to deliver any of it. We have an entire postal system dedicated to employing people to carefully sort letters into piles which are then left undisturbed. Forever. There’s probably stuff from the First Age of the world at the bottom of the pile. I’ll bet if I dug through them I’d find one:
In your last letter you said not to dig too deep or we might run into balrogs. What in the name of mithril underpants is a balrog?
I storm over to the postman and jump up onto his table. I am going to unleash a fury on him that is beyond his comprehension. This guy is about to discover why you don’t piss off a bard.
Stomping on postmen and punching their faces,
kicking their shins and their sensitive places.
Hitting and biting throwing sharp things,
these are a few of my favorite things!
Griefing the postman by slapping his mother,
Make him eat marshflies one after another.
Stuff him in a barrel then float him downstream,
these are a few of my favorite things!
When the wolf bites! When the-
“Oh what luck, a volunteer!”, the postman shouts over my singing. He presses a satchel of mail against my hands until I’m obliged to stop playing and take the thing.
“What is this?”, I demand.
Gesturing at my package he says, “That one needs to go to Michel Delving. Off you go!”
Things are about to go very, very badly for one of us.
Next time: Going Postal!
 And by “hard at work” I mean, “asking me to do hard work for them”.
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