The Chamber of Mazarbul

How an episode of Lord of the Rings might have gone if played out in Lord of the Rings Online

Part 1

Merry and Pippin stood bored with the rest of the party, scuffing stones with their feet, while Gimli and Gandalf turned to the doorway and stepped cautiously inside. "What have you found, then?", called Merry. "The Chamber of Mazarbul", replied Gimli in an excited voice. "How do you know that?", responded Merry. "See for yourself!", retorted Gandalf.

So everyone crowded through the door into the chamber. Sure enough, as Merry passed through the doorway, he saw glowing runes materialise in mid-air: "FOUND THE CHAMBER OF MAZARBUL. Discovered deed: find the seven dwarf tombs of Moria 1/7".

Gandalf and Gimli had moved to a tomb in the centre of the room. "So it is true then, Balin is dead", whispered Gimli. The tomb was carved with dwarvish runes, but everyone who looked at it saw a translation floating in letters above it: "Tomb of Balin". Gandalf had turned to an old book lying beside the tomb, his attention attracted by the fact that it was faintly flashing, lighter and darker. He opened the book cautiously, then rapidly scanned it with a magnifying glass while glowing runes rose from its pages. "This seems to be a record of the fortunes of Balin's people", he said. "That's a good find; I needed it for a quest".

But suddenly, everyone's attention was caught by a clattering sound. Pippin was standing beside a well nearby, and the noise was caused by a stone which he had dropped down it. "Fool of a Took, what are you doing?", demanded Gandalf. "The stone was flashing, so I tried to see if it was a quest object", quavered Pippin.

Gandalf was about to reprimand Pippin further, but suddenly Boromir ran back into the chamber through another door which he had just explored. "Orcs!", he shouted, "And I've pulled a cave troll!"

Startled, Pippin took a step back and fell down the well. "Oh no, I hit 'S'!", wailed his distant voice. "We'll rez you later if we don't wipe!", snarled Gandalf in reply.

"Food!", roared Aragorn. Everyone pulled a lembas biscuit from their pack and gobbled it as fast as possible. Everyone, that is, except Sam, who was getting himself into a terrible mess. "What's that?", demanded Merry. "Carrot cake", mumbled Sam sheepishly.

But then the orcs were upon them. Gimli tanked the troll, yelling and delivering mighty blows to its shins. Legolas stood at the back and shot arrows. Gandalf healed and everyone else did what DPS they could. Soon the orcs were dealt with, but Gimli was still doing deep breathing exercises while holding off the troll. Frodo took a swipe at it with Sting. "No, don't aggro it!", called Gandalf, but too late. The troll turned instantly and hurled its huge spear at Frodo, knocking him back to the wall.

The troll was defeated in a hail of blows as Aragorn ran to Frodo's aid. Sam and Gimli joined him. "Oh Mr Frodo, you didn't ought to have left 'auto-target' on", moaned Sam. "I'm alright", said Frodo through clenched teeth. "But how?", asked Gimli, "That blow would have skewered a wild ox!" Aragorn inspected Frodo's leather jerkin. "This is only cosmetically equipped", he said. "Yes", admitted Frodo, "I'm really wearing Bright Mithril Coat of the Mountain, Mad Elf Boots, Shoulders of the Tall Dwarf, Mathom Trousers and Gloves of the Michael Delving Baker. But I didn't think it would look right". "That's true, it wouldn't!", said Aragorn, "Just drink this green potion and you'll be OK".

"What next Gandalf?" asked Legolas. "Hmm, yes, we must defeat 24 more goblins, find the Bridge of Khazad Dum and 'use' the East door. Be cautious. When I did this run last week we pulled a Balrog!"

Part 2

 Soon everyone was ready for further adventures. Frodo's morale was restored. Pippin had been extracted from the well. All the orc and troll bodies had been looted for treasure. For some reason the troll had been carrying a pouch containing an unpolished sapphire, a pair of elf shoulder pads and a complete set of instructions for making a "Falchion of Mind-Boggling Impactfulness", besides a few silver coins.

"Are we all ready to go on?", asked Gandalf. Before the rest could reply, more orcs charged into the chamber! "Respawns!", yelled Aragorn, "Get out of here before the troll comes back!" The fellowship ran to the further door and crowded through it just as the troll reappeared. Gandalf flourished a key. "Golden Master-Key of Moria", he boasted, locking the door, "Now we can get away". But the troll was well armed: massive blows began to shake the door. "That is the sound of a hammer, or I have never heard one", commented Gimli.

"We must leave here", Gandalf called, "Down the stairs. You will have to do without light for a while: 'Glowing Staff' is on five minutes' cooldown". The party began descending a spirally staircase. Annoyingly, each turn of the staircase was the same shape and directly below the previous one, so it was impossible to form a mental map of the layout or maintain sense of direction. But eventually they all emerged into a great hall. They were relieved to see daylight at the far end, but between them and the exit were many goblins.

"We'll run through these", Gandalf decided. "Mount up!" Everyone whistled, and their mounts appeared. But instead of the usual horses, they were sitting astride giant goats! "This is no place for a proud dwarf!", grumbled Gimli. "Phew, smelly!", complained the hobbits. Even Legolas wrinkled his nose. But Gandalf kicked the sides of his goat and away they went.

It was a hectic ride. As they ploughed through the crowded goblins, those goblins all grabbed their weapons and converged on Gandalf who was in the lead. The fellowship soon had a cometary tail of scores of enraged goblins. Merry shut his eyes and hung on, crouching down to avoid notice by the goblins now running on each side of him. Luckily they were all after Gandalf and didn't really seem to notice the rest of the group.

But the inattention was a grave mistake. Looking ahead again, Merry saw that he was heading straight for a pillar. He heaved on the reins and his goat turned, passing to the left of it and away from the rest of the party. "No, not that way!", yelled Gandalf. Merry turned back, but heard a great roar behind him. "That's done it! You've pulled the balrog!", screamed Gandalf.

That was when things unravelled. Bolts of fire unseated most of the riders. All dismounted and began smiting the goblins furiously, trying to clear them away before the balrog could join the fight. Merry blinked. It was getting hard to see the goblin he was fighting: runes saying "Roll" and "Pass" kept floating in front of his eyes. They slew the last goblins just as the balrog joined the fight, making straight for Gandalf with its fiery sword.

Everyone joined in and the fight seemed to be going well. But suddenly Aragorn was kicked, high into the air like a rugby ball. The rest saw him steering in midair, trying to land somewhere safe, but he fell into a chasm behind them and disappeared from sight. Then the balrog yelled, "I'll gnaw your boots!"  "AOE!" shouted Legolas in warning. The balrog swept its flaming whip and the whole party were swept away and thrown through the air.

Legolas found himself alone on the very edge of the chasm. Looking around, it seemed to him that all of his companions had been thrown into the chasm. The balrog was advancing again and he prepared to fire his last arrows. "This way, you crazy elf!", came Gimli's voice from behind him. Turning, Legolas saw that Gimli had also survived, by landing on the centre of a very narrow bridge over the chasm.

Legolas and Gimli fled back over the bridge towards an opening of daylight. The balrog pursued them. "This way!" yelled Gimli, turning directly to the right at the far end of the bridge. They ran ten paces and then stopped to look back over the chasm. The balrog was at the very centre of the bridge, but when they turned to the side it had also turned, and they saw it plunge off the side of the bridge and fall into the chasm. "Why can't those pesky dwarves build handrails?", complained its deep voice as it disappeared into the depths.

Legolas and Gimli emerged blinking into sunlight and cast themselves down in mourning for a few moments. Then Legolas arose. "Come, Gimli, we must be away from here before more goblins spawn", he warned. Gimli looked up. "Yes, let us go from this cursed place and look upon Dimrill Dale". They passed down the Dale. Gimli gave a running commentary. "Ah, here are the cold springs of Kibil-Nala. And here is the deep water of the Mirrormere, fair Kheled-Zaram. And yonder lies the ancient stone circle of Resurr-Akt! Behold our comrades standing within it awaiting us."

"But where is Gandalf?", asked the keen-eyed Legolas.

"He's gone link-dead!", responded Sam despondently.