Miri: Really? The Old Forest? You do realize how creepy that place is, right?
Coda: Well, yeah. But we’ll be warding off the creepiness.
Coda: With these! *presents clothes*
Miri: I am not putting that on.
So! With our special circus-themed, darkness-warding garments firmly in place, we bravely set out on our most colorful steeds for the eaves of the Old Forest.
|Now this is a thing unheard of: a hobbit walks freely into the trees when an elf dare not.|
Now, a little bit of history before we begin our trek to particularly frightening bits of this place. The Old Forest (along with Fangorn Forest) is all that’s left of the ancient, primordial woodland that spanned most of Eriador in the beginning of Middle-Earth. During the First and Second Ages, the elves taught parts of this forest the power of speech and movement, a power that they have kept to this day.
The forest came under threat of destruction during the Second Age from men using their wood for building and crafting, but especially from Sauron’s declaration of war on the elves. Most of the forest was decimated from the fires of Sauron, but the Old Forest is one pocket that has survived. Over time, the trees have become wild and corrupted, the forest infested with evil creatures that thrive in its depths. The forest is bounded on the east by the equally horrifying Barrow-Downs and on the west by the Hay (or the Hedge) built by the Brandybucks as a border of the Shire.
|Yeah, it’s creepy and very, very old; we get it. Now, let’s go!|
We didn’t get very far before we got a little turned around. That tends to happen in this place quite a bit though…
|We stopped to ask for directions, but the wolf seemed just as lost as we were. Oh, well. Onwards!|
Originally, we were aiming for the Withywindle as a mid-way point, but we somehow ran into several dead ends in the bat-infested corner of the forest, where we came across...what is that anyway?
|We still have no idea. There are older and fouler things than walking trees in the old forests of the world, apparently.|
As we neared the river (we think, anyway), we ran into a fellow adventurer taking on...yes, that is in fact a walking tree. Oh, stop gibbering, Miri, this is exciting!
|Codella practices cheerleading while Miri whimpers on the ground. Somehow I feel this adventure has reversed our roles…|
Not content with scaring the pants off her fellow adventurer, Codella decides to scout ahead...without telling her comrade. This is what she returned to.
|OH MY GOD IT’S A KILLER WOODPILE GET ON THE HORSE. (Miri has issues.)|
After promising on pain of...something very painful not to leave her again, the two continued down to the Withywindle and on a whim, began following it to the south. After passing a couple of ruined campsites and other increasingly twisted trees, the scenery began getting rather misty. Ah yes, the Withywindle Crossing. Home of bears.
|Lots of bears.|
Enjoy this pantomime by a somewhat stressed-out Miri while Coda looks on in amused concern.
|Here, bear. Have a pretzel.|
|C’mon, it’s tasty, I promise!|
|Look, I spent the better part of a week learning how to make these. The least you could do is try it!|
Fine, I’ll just force it in then! See how you like it stuffed down your throat! *hysterical laugh*
|Just eat the stupid pretzel!!!|
Coda: Okay, I’m cutting you off.
After getting Miri calmed down and back on her garishly colored horse, we finally headed out to our next stop, the spider den!
|With some lovely scenery along the way, of course.|
Once again finding ourselves a little turned around, we stumbled across something that pretty much screamed: “You! Yeah, you! This is the Spider Den!”
|You know you’re dealing with insects of unusual size when you find things like this in creepy little corners of the woods.|
But of course, being the seasoned and marginally insane travellers we are, just entering the spider den wasn’t enough for us. Oh no, we had to find the biggest, the baddest, the...it’s a huge spider, guys. You can’t get much creepier than that. (Unless you’re a Kergrim.)
|Lebrennil, mother of the Old Forest brood. Your friendly neighborhood bloggers act accordingly.|
After leading the beastie on a merry chase, Miri finally managed to bring it down in a stirringly dramatic fight that Codella would have sung about were she a minstrel.
|Codella hangs back to watch the battle and unwittingly provides an amusing sense of scale. Tiny little hobbit!|
|The beast brought low. Codella had to take this shot, as Miri refused to go any closer after the fight.|
After this battle, we turned to go home, when what should capture our attention, but this:
|A tree stands alone in the farthest glade of the forest, covered in sticky, corrupted webs…|
|‘Tis the Haunted Barren-Oak! Run, Miri, run!|
After a thrilling chase back through the spider den, we finally managed to strike back upon the Withywindle, and (yes, we know you were worried) made it out in one piece.
Coda: Whew! Remind me about this whole thing next time I say I have an idea.Miri: *exhausted glare* Noted.