Archive for the ‘11 – A Knife in the Dark’ Category

Well, this is fun. My computer’s having connectivity issues at the little market I try to write these at when I’m caught between work and rehearsal. No internet, but I still have the burning desire to get this out of the way. Thus, what you’re reading now is what I wrote offline, and have since uploaded onto the blog. Maybe with minor edits.

But you will never know for sure...

Regardless, we have a page of Lord of the Rings to talk about.

Aragorn checks out the encampment that Sam and Pippin happened upon. He can tell that it was made by Rangers, but there are other tracks, made by heavier boots. The hobbits assume the worst, and start worrying about getting out of the hollow that they’re currently in. Unfortunately, Aragorn doesn’t know of anywhere better to hole up.

Merry has a revelation, wondering if the black riders can see. They’ve seen them smelling about before, but Aragorn jumped for cover on Weathertop when he saw them in the distance. It seems, explains Aragorn, that the Ringwraiths do not see in light like we are accustomed to. They see shapes as shadows, but can “see” this way very well in darkness. They smell blood in living things, and emanate fear. And they are drawn to the ring!

They are everything that this guy isn't.

How creepy is that? They do sound similar in kind to vampires, but without the whole blood (technically energy) sucking thing. It wouldn’t take them long to find our band of heroes, especially as night approaches.

But, okay, Aragorn seems to have accepted what we’ve known for a while now: the riders are coming. There are no immediate ways to escape. Five have joined up, and they’re headed this way, presumably to check out this camp that they ransacked some time ago. It’s like being in shark-infested waters right now. You know the bite is coming, but WHEN?

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the banana...

It’s hard to tell how much I’ve really written when I’m not typing directly into WordPress like I usually do. Hm. This is either going to be one of my shorter posts, which I doubt, or a long one. Don’t worry, I don’t think there’s any chance of beating that one post where I went diving into ancient Middle-earth history. We’ll see. Hopefully the issue with my wifi is confined to this market and doesn’t follow me once I get home!

“‘Also,’ he added, and his voice sank to a whisper, ‘the Ring draws them.'”


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Hark! In the distance!

Over there! Can't you see it?

While Aragorn estimates that Rivendell is over a fortnight away, Frodo sees black specks on the road in the distance, five in total, two joining three. Aragorn pulls Frodo and Merry down to hide, and confirms that black riders are approaching. They head down to find Sam and Pippin.

Meanwhile, Sam and Pippin have been doing some exploring themselves. They find fresh footprints near a small camp, along with a pile of firewood. They assume that Gandalf must have been there. Once being told of this, Aragorn himself goes to take a look.

First Mentions:

-the Ford of Bruinen: River-crossing near Rivendell. This is estimated to be twelve days away by road. Seeing as Aragorn wants to stay off the road, it will take longer.

-the Loudwater: River (crossed at the Ford of Bruinen) that runs out of Rivendell. It is said that the elves of Rivendell exercise some control over it…

There’s an example of how great a vantage point Weathertop is. Frodo can see the riders on the road when they can only be seen as specks. I don’t know how to estimate distance on that, but it’s a ways. I like to think of how I can see things on the ground from my apartment on the 26th floor. Something like that.

Tell me about it, Harry.

However, bad decisions by Sam and Pippin? Wandering around by themselves doesn’t seem like the best idea. I would assume they have no clue about the approaching riders until Aragorn, Frodo, and Merry return with that news, but this isn’t country one can just go meandering around. Left for an extra hour or so, how long would they have lasted if they riders got to them first? Not very long, I would imagine. Ringwraith wins that battle every time.

Note: Aragorn has better eyesight than the hobbits. It’s a known fact that elves have the best sight, but it also appears that men are superior to hobbits. Let’s keep tabs on it and see if it holds true for everyone.

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Proper nouns, always with the proper nouns! If nothing else that proves that Tolkien was being creative, if, you know, that wasn’t already obvious. He did write a bit of a book here.

“‘I wish I had waited and explored the ground down here myself,’ he said, hurrying off to the spring to examine the footprints.”

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Where in the world is Gandalf Sandiego?

If you didn't play this game, I weep for your childhood.

Aragorn spots a white rock on top of a pile of burned ones. Picking it up, he and Frodo discover markings on it, which seem to indicate “G3”. In Aragorn’s estimation, these may mean that Gandalf was at Weathertop on October 3rd, three days ago. Due to the brevity of the message, he was probably in some sort of trouble. Ah, now those bright lights in the sky three nights ago mean something…

It is likely that Gandalf has moved on to Rivendell, but nothing can be known for sure. Aragorn guesses that they are still about twelve days away.

First Mentions:

-the Forsaken Inn: A day’s travel east of Bree. Probably the last measured point in distance on the road. Is it still open? Something of a waypoint? Whatever. It sounds sketchy.

So, things are starting to make some sort of sense. Those flashes in the night probably had something to do with Gandalf, and probably had something to do with the burns covering Weathertop. This is why I see him as a sort of Carmen Sandiego. He leaves hints here and there to his whereabouts. Eventually we’ll track him down, and recover whatever he’s stolen from the world’s museums!

Yar, thar be treasure!

And wait, TWELVE DAYS to Rivendell? Since when did we expect this leg of the journey to take this long? What is this, Oregon Trail? No one’s caught dysentery, so at least we’ve escaped that, but who’s going to die fording the river, huh? Seriously…strap on your walking shoes. Don’t you ever forget how grand in scale Middle-earth is!

Don’t worry though, we’re not actually going to spend all that time walking. Things happen.

“‘But I know how long it would take me on my own feet, with fair weather and no ill fortune: twelve days from here to…'”

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It was Sam!


Bilbo taught Sam the poem long ago. There is more to it about Mordor, but he never bothered to remember it because it scared him. According to Aragorn, it was Bilbo who translated this ancient poem into the common tongue. They near Weathertop around midday, and decide to make a beeline for it. Sam and Pippin wait in a hollow with the pony while Frodo, Aragorn, and Merry take a look at the ruins on top of the hill. There is a great burn mark in the center, but no sign of any life. Looking out across the road for miles, nothing is stirring.

First Mentions:

-The Fall of Gil-galad: The poem recited by Sam. An ancient piece, as translated by Bilbo. Not even Aragorn knew that.

Something I forgot to bring up yesterday is that we were given a date. So many days have passed recently that I lost track of what day it was, but yesterday we were told it was the night of October 5th. This means that today, as the team climbs Weathertop, it is October 6th! Do our heroes have plans for Halloween?

Looking good!

Anyway, the scorch marks in the ruins of Weathertop are interesting. What burns that much? A dragon, yes, but those aren’t around doing that kind of damage anymore. Is it recent? That’s not clear.

Regardless of the eerie damage, the view from Weathertop is clearly breathtaking. You can see all the way east to the Misty Mountains, and wide grasslands in every other direction, dotted by occasional forests. They’ve been lucky, as the weather is beautiful, and has been ever since they picked up Aragorn in Bree. Karma? Totally.

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We haven’t blamed the English enough lately. I blame the English!

“Following its line eastward with their eyes they saw the Mountains:…”

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Very interesting page today!

However, some other news to get to: I finally got the end of my Christmas presents last night! Why is this relevant, you may ask? My girlfriend finally finished off my collection by getting me both Extended Editions of Fellowship and Two Towers, which joined up with Return of the King to make the full set of DVDs! I already had the first two movies…but not Extended Editions, so they didn’t really count. Also, her mother (giver of the great tome that I read from) gave me four glasses. Two are engraved with the logo of The Green Dragon, and the other two are from The Prancing Pony! They will come in handy. Very much.


On to today’s action! The next morning, being six days of travel from Bree, the hobbits and Aragorn come across a path. Merry is skeptical of it, worrying that it might be the work of more Barrow-wights. Aragorn calms his fears, and gives some history of Weathertop and the surrounding area. His ancestors once defended the lands from attacks from Angmar, and built a watchtower on Weathertop. Now nothing is left but ruins, though it is said that the great king Elendil would stand at the tower to watch for the elf-king, Gil-galad. Suddenly, someone speaks a poem about the great life and downfall of Gil-galad.

First Mentions:

-Arnor: The ancient northern kingdom of men. Aragorn’s ancestors hailed from here to defend the hills. Destroyed and scattered.

-Amon Sûl: The watchtower of Weathertop. Tall and proud, though now in ruins. One of the places to once contain a Palantír. More on those later. Much later.

-the Last Alliance: Union of elves and men who resisted Sauron in a great war long ago. The conflict ended when Isildur cut the ring from Sauron’s hand with Elendil’s broken sword.

I thought Gil-galad was going to be a First Mention… Nope. We’ve talked about him a bit already.

But don’t worry, we’re going to talk about him again!

You didn't know he was in the movies, did you?

The poem spoken at the end of this page is gorgeous. We don’t learn the speaker (we will tomorrow), but it tells the sad tale of the elven king. He was great, but fell in the battle against Sauron. “For into darkness fell his star,” the poem states. Pretty stuff, if I do say so myself. “In Mordor where the shadows are,” it ends. Does every dark poem end with a line about Mordor and its shadows? The final line of the poem containing the ring inscription is “In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.” That’s two! I’m sensing a pattern.

The poem really dominates in how I view this page. I find it very beautiful, and after highlighting it I can’t really bring myself to say much else. The brief history lesson from Aragorn is nice, and goes a ways to show how he connects with his kingly lineage. He won’t say it, but when he brings up Elendil he’s talking about his great-great-great…etc. grandfather.

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Yes, “barrow-wightish”, meaning kind of like the same feeling as a Barrow-wight. You know, generally creepy?

“But long ago he rode away, and where he dwelleth none can say; for into darkness fell his star in Mordor where the shadows are.”

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After last night’s sleepiness debacle, I’ve devised a new way to fit this into my schedule on busy days. I have some downtime now, and thus, BLOG! I’m doing this in marketplace. Isn’t that terribly hipster and bourgeois of me, to blog in a marketplace?

Sort of like this. But I have my own computer.

Aragorn has a plan to skirt around Weathertop a bit and arrive from the north, where there is more cover under the trees. They make camp for the night near a stream, and the hobbits awake feeling very rested the next morning. Pippin jokes that Frodo looks much better with the rest, though Frodo knows that he has lost a lot of weight so far on their journey. As they move on, the hills (including Weathertop) draw closer and closer.

So, there’s really not a whole lot going on. About his weight loss, Frodo offhandedly says: “I hope the thinning process will not go on indefinitely, or I shall become a wraith.” Aragorn snaps at him suddenly, begging him not to joke of this. A little touchy there, Son of Arathorn? Here’s the thing: he has a point. We’ve already heard about using magic rings to such an extent that mortals turn into wraiths. We’re also going to hear a lot about the properties of evil blades…

Which looks more evil: the sword or the dude? Discuss.

All in all, Aragorn’s plan makes a lot of sense. He doesn’t know what will be waiting for them at Weathertop, so increasing the amount of time that they can’t be seen approaching it is all for the better. He mentioned earlier that as soon as they broke into view of the hilltop, they could be seen in the open by anyone looking out from Weathertop itself. It’s very well placed for that sort of thing.

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With that, I’ve run out of things to say already. It’s just another page of them getting from Point A to Point B. Not exciting, but they’ll happen from time to time. I wasn’t planning on skipping anything.

“Along the crest of the ridge the hobbits could see what looked to be the remains of green-grown walls and dikes, and in the clefts there still stood the…”

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It is WAY too tired in here to do much tonight. I have a handful of really long days in the next few weeks ahead of me, but we’re going to get through them.


Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, and Aragorn make an uncomfortable camp in the marshes. With bugs everywhere, it’s a restless night, and the next day is much the same. That (second) night, Frodo awakens to see flashes in the distant night sky. Aragorn, always awake it seems, doesn’t know what they are.

The following day, they leave the marshes and can see Weathertop in the distance. Aragorn does not know what to expect when they arrive there. He is doubtful that Gandalf will have arrived, and possibly the black riders will make for it.

First Mentions:

-Neekerbreekers: “Evil relatives of the cricket.” Sam names them so because of the noises they make at night. Sounds pleasant!

Quick hits:

-Aragorn freaking never sleeps. HE’S JUST THAT GOOD.

Things I don't have: insomnia.

-We are first told here that some birds are spies! How evil is that? Wouldn’t you think that all birds would just be happy flying around in the sky all day? Why do they have to go and work for nefarious purposes? I bet it’s all the ravens’ doing. Don’t trust ravens.

-What is this flashing in the sky? It’s white. Honestly, I have no idea. If it were red, it might be a battle or something, but it doesn’t seem to be that. Mysteries of the universe!

Anything else? I don’t know. Sorry. There are times when a boy needs sleep like woah.

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It seems we have a common theme here today.

“‘Not all the birds are to be trusted, and there are other spies more evil than they are.'”

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