Holy freakin' crap what a creepy and awesome place.
I'm talking about the Old Forest, which is nestled in the hills west of Bree proper. Last night after getting home and settling in, I booted up LotRO and dove in to finally take Begud past that dreaded level cap of 15.
You see, during all my time in beta (and alpha) I religiously played the early levels only. For one, I didn't want to get too far into the game, leaving me nothing to look forward to at launch. And secondly, I'm not a power-gamer so 15 was pretty much the highest I would get before a whipe came because of my altism.
Anyway, because of my lowbie-love during the beta I never really explored all that much of Middle-Earth. I saw Rivendell during the Vault's beta event (hosted by yours truly), but that was about the extent of my sight-seeing.
So last night, because it felt just right, I journeyed all across Bree-lands, doing quests and just plain exploring the beautiful world Turbine had created. Eventually, after many dead boars and bears (I swear they breed like rabbits) I made my way to Adso's Camp, which is situated just north of the Old Forest.
I received a few quests there, mainly things to help out the supplying of the camp (collect hides, boar shanks, etc), but Adso himself, hobbit that he is, sent me into the Old Forest to look for some fresh spring. Presumably this was the spring of fame from the books, that of Goldberry, Tom Bombadil's maiden.
Night was falling, mist was pouring in across the land, but damn it... I had a job to do. It's just a forest anyway. What could happen?
My trek into the canopy of trees started normally enough. There were some stray and hungry beasties that picked a fight with the wrong dwarf, but nothing really out of the ordinary. No signs of water though. From my memory I knew the Withywindle river/creek was somewhere near by so I made my way deeper into the woods.
A large hill, Bald Hill as a matter of fact, eventually sprouted up ahead of me and I decided to climb it to get a better look at my surroundings. Yeah... it didn't help. The view was nice, but the foliage was so thick I couldn't see squat past the bottom of the hill.
I'm not sure if it was the night, the fog, or just my lack of a sense of direction, but I then realized I couldn't remember which way I had come in. Forget it, I thought. I'll find the way out later, I needed to find this spring for Adso. I'm not one to let my quests get the better of me, so I pressed on.
Off I went in one of the many directions from the Bald Hill, only to find some new evil there waiting for me. My power, my energy, my strenght were draining from me in the presence of some dark thing in that forest... Old Man Willow! Holy freakin' crap, it was Old Man Willow. The same bastardly tree that had nearly put an early end to Frodo's journey.
Doggedly I ran as far away from that vile growth as I could. I slogged my way through some brambles and into, by accident, the mirky waters of the Withywindle. It's not the spring Adso was looking for, but I knew it would lead me to safety... to Tom Bombadil's cabin.
And so it was that I came to that safe haven in the darkening woods of the Old Forest. The man/demi-god/jovial poet greeted me with a smile and kind words, as well as the many other travellers that sought refuge within his home's walls. But Goldberry was nowhere to be found. Why didn't I pay more attention to this part in the books!?
I left Tom's cabin in search of this spring. But I did not find it. Rather, I stumbled one too many times into lumbering, angry trees that felt I was a threat and uprooted themselves to chase me around the forest. Eventually, the night was ending, and I realized that I had another pressing quest from Adso's camp that required the vale of evening.
Slowly, awkwardly, and confused I made my way out of the Old Forest, defeated but determined to return and find the spring Adso seeks. I settled instead that evening to deliver a package to Bill Ferny under cover of night (the prick) and collect my small copper reward for doing so. I explained to Adso that not all had gone as planned in the Old Forest, but that I would not give up yet.
But my night was over. Far away in the distance I heard the beckoning call of my wife... and that's an adventure all its own. The orcs in Trestlebridge and the mysterious spring of the Old Forest would have to wait. The missus needed me.
(On a side note, if anyone knows where to find that damnable spring for Adso, please let me know.)