One of the things that entertains me endlessly in LotRO is searching for all the little easter eggs and places that are accurate to the books. The stone trolls in the Trollshaws are a great example – one even has a birdsnest behind it’s ear, just like it should. Even better is when I find that Turbine has taken something that is alluded to in the books, and has ran with it to make it’s own story.
I’ve always liked the Agamaur area and the Garth Agarwen quests, but it wasn’t until my latest run through the place that something jumped out at me – a bit of quest text by a shade in Harloeg:
‘In ages past, we were cursed by Iarwain Ben-adar for our inaction as the Red-maid slipped further from the gentle creature she was to the corrupt thing she now is. Until she is redeemed or removed from the world, we are cursed to wander these swamps, with no hope of rest.
‘But we have no hope. She is too powerful, or so the men believe. I do not believe this is so. I must find a way to restore the men’s resolve. I must find a way to restore their resolve. One of the Eglain, Hartrím, has gone to the place where she dwells. He goes to secure items lost as my brethren and I battled the Angmarim and Hillmen of Rhudaur: our shields. I believe they are still held by the Hillmen who worship the Red-maid and the brigands who have allied themselves with them.
Wait. Iarwain Ben-adar? That is none other than Tom Bombadil, as Elrond tells us in the books during the Council of Elrond. It translates to “oldest and fatherless”, or “old-young”. Apparently he was pretty upset about the Red-Maid’s corruption, according to the quest text. Hmm.
The Red-Maid, the game tells us, is Naruhel, Goldberry’s sister, who became corrupted under the influence of Angmar. She, along with the other in-game river-maids – Gwindeth, the Blue Lady in Evendim, and Roamingstar in Gondor, is an invention of Turbine, and is not canon to the Middle-Earth universe. In the books, Goldberry is said to be the river-daughter, the daughter of the river-woman, so sisters are not out of the realm of possibility.
Then I remembered this bit of text from Fellowship of the Ring:
He chose for himself from the pile a brooch set with blue stones, many-shaded like flax-flowers or the wings of blue butterflies. He looked long at it, as if stirred by some memory, shaking his head, and saying at last:
‘Here is a pretty toy for Tom and his lady! Fair was she who long ago wore this on her shoulder. Goldberry shall wear it now, and we will not forget her!’
Who exactly Tom was referring to? It’s always been considered a mystery – Tolkien never went into more detail, and the popular theory if you only consider the books is that the lady was perhaps the wife of one of the kings buried in the Barrow-Downs. But I like to think that Turbine perhaps spun the Red-Maid story off of this – what if Goldberry had a sister, and what if this was her brooch? What if Tom Bombadil cursed the shades because of the corruption of Goldberry’s sister?
It’s an interesting story if indeed this was intended by Turbine.