Monday, 7 April 2008


Loremasters and the wise already know something about Forochel, that mysterious region of eternal snow and ice to which LOTRO players are to gain access later this month. Much precious information about the region and its history can be gleaned from Appendix A of The Return of the King.

It was in Forochel that Arvedui Last-king, last of the Heirs of Isildur to reign over Arthedain, died in 1974. In that year "the power of Angmar arose again, and the Witch-king came down upon Arthedain before winter was ended. He captured Fornost, and drove most of the remaining Dunedain over the Lune... But King Arvedui held out upon the North Downs until the last, and then fled north with some of his guard... He was driven at last by hunger to seek the help of the Lossoth, the Snowmen of Forochel. Some of these he found in camp by the seashore; but they did not help the king willingly, for he had nothing to offer them, save a few jewels which they did not value; and they were afraid of the Witch-king...".

Of the Lossoth, we learn that "these are a strange, unfriendly people, remnant of the Forodwaith, Men of far-off days, accustomed to the bitter colds of the realm of Morgoth. Indeed those colds linger still in that region, though they lie hardly more than a hundred leagues north of the Shire. The Lossoth house in the snow, and it is said that they can run on the ice with bones on their feet, and have carts without wheels. They live mostly, inaccessible to their enemies, on the great Cape of Forochel that shuts off to the north-west the immense bay of that name; but they often camp on the south shores of the bay at the feet of the Mountains."

Arvedui and his few remaining men spent a bitter winter in Forochel, until at last Cirdan sent a great ship to rescue him. "But the winter was long in loosing its grip that year; and though it was then March, the ice was only beginning to break, and lay far out from the shore. When the Snowmen saw the ship they were amazed and afraid, for they had seen no such ship on the sea within their memories; but they had become now more friendly, and they drew the king and those that survived of his company out over the ice in their sliding carts, as far as they dared. In this way a boat from the ship was able to reach them."

Yet the Snowmen were afraid of the ship, and their chief counseled the King to wait until summer and return by land. Arvedui however ignored this wise advice, and insisted upon sailing; and before departing he gave the chief of the Lossoth his ring, saying "This is a thing of worth beyond your reckoning. For its ancientry alone. It has no power, save the esteem in which those hold it who love my house. It will not help you, but if ever you are in need, my kin will ransom it with great store of all that you desire." And as we know, a great storm arose, most probably due to the malice of the Witch-king, and the ship foundered with all hands upon the ice: "So perished Arvedui Last-king, and with him the palantiri were buried in the sea".

What does this foretell about Book 13? For one thing, it seems clear that Narchuil, which has been fruitlessly pursued across Evendim for so many months, is none other than the ring of Arvedui Last-king, and that unlike the palantir, it has not been lost beneath the waves. The epic story line will therefore deal with the recovery of Narchuil from the Lossoth, whether by hook or by crook. It may also be that the palantir will also play a role, since such powerful magical items have a way of reappearing mysteriously.

Dealing with the extreme cold of Forochel will also be a major factor in exploring the region. Three alternative ways of handling this suggest themselves: the use of potions (boring!), the purchase or gift of furs from the Snowmen (also boring), or the acquisition of furs through the hunting of elite polar beasts (much more interesting). It also seems likely that the Bay of Forochel will prove to be frozen solid, since swimming through such icy waters should normally prove fatal; of course, the developers may have opted to provide us with boats, but that seems rather less likely. Either way, get out your thermal winter underwear (now there is an interesting crafting item).


Priest said...

The ring of Arvedui is not Narchuil, but the Ring of Barahir, and it was ransomed later on by the Dúnedain and is now in posession of Arwen, to whom it was given by Aragorn...

Kairos said...

Point taken. So, given that the latest loading screen specifically mentions Narchuil in connection with Book 13, I suppose we have to assume that two important rings ended up in Fornost at various tims...