The Three Paths
The following story can be experienced by completing the quest "Volume 1, Book 3, Chapter 3: Fallen Once More" in Esteldin at the North Downs
‘Fly!’ Glorfindel called. ‘Fly! The enemy is upon us!’ The hobbits ran down the slope. Glorfindel and Strider followed as rearguard. They were only half way across the flat, when suddenly there was noise of horses galloping. Out of the gate in the trees that they had just left rode a Black Rider. Frodo reined his horse in, and halted, swaying in his saddle. Suddenly he knew in his heart that they were silently commanding him to wait. Then at once fear and hatred awoke in him. He shut his eyes and clung to the horse’s mane. The wind whistled in his ears, and the bells upon the harness rang wild and shrill. A breath of deadly
cold pierced him like a spear, as with a last spurt, like a flash of white fire, the elf-horse speeding as if on wings, passed right before the face of the foremost Rider.
Frodo had crossed the Ford of Bruinen. ‘Go back!’ he cried. ‘Go back to the Land of Mordor, and follow me no more!’ At that moment there came a roaring and a rushing: a noise of loud waters rolling many stones. Dimly Frodo saw the river below him rise, and down along its course there came a plumed cavalry of waves. White flames seemed to Frodo to flicker on their crests, and he half fancied that he saw amid the water white riders upon white horses with frothing manes. The three Riders that were still in the midst of the Ford were overwhelmed: they disappeared, buried suddenly under angry foam. Those that were behind drew back in dismay. Then Frodo felt himself falling, and the roaring and confusion seemed to rise and engulf him together with his enemies. He heard and saw no more.
Halbarad sat in silence, pondering his next steps. The rangers would require the aid of the Men, Dwarves, and Elves of the North Downs to defeat the evil in Fornost, but each race had their own troubles to deal with. The ranger would need to rely on the aid of the heroes once more.
With their paths laid before them, The heroes first made for Othrikar, a dwarven fortress to the North of Esteldin. The settlement had once been under Dourhand ownership, but recent events in Ered Luin had driven the Dourhands away by the Longbeards, which the dwarf hero explained in detail to his fellowship. Dori, who had fought alongside the dwarf hero and was now steward of Thorin’s Hall, had come to Othrikar to help the Longbeards fend of the remaining Dourhand threat.
When they arrived at the fortress, Dori was nowhere to be found. Hannar, who led the Longbeards at Othrikar, told of his capture by the Dourhands. An envoy of the Dourhands had recently left the fortress leaving the Longbeards with an ultimatum; turn over Othrikar or Dori would be killed. The Longbeards would not convene at Esteldin without Dori’s safety assured. The heroes made for Ost Galumar, one of the five great Arthedain cities in the North Downs, where the Dourhands had taken refuge.
The heroes fought through the ruins, defeating any and all Dourhands they came upon. The dwarf and elf heroes fought with particularly powerful conviction as their history with the Dourhands stretched many years, and always they pondered the whereabouts of Skorgrím Dourhand and the evils he was stirring. The heroes came upon a reinforced cart guarded by Dourhands within the ruins. Upon defeating the dwarves and opening the cart, they found Dori bound and gagged.
With Dori freed, the heroes reclaimed his belongings and retreated from the ruins. With Dori rescued and Othrikar safe, Dori agreed to meet with the council in Esteldin. With the dwarve's participation assured, the heroes headed south towards Meluinen, a marshland where the elves resided.
The heroes arrived at Lin Giliath in half a day. having lived in the elven refuge for ages uncounted, the elves were becoming worried as orcs had established a strong presence upon Nan Wrathen. The elves directed the heroes to Gildor Inglorion, who greeted them with deep concern etched in his face. The elf adventurer, who had known Gildor from ages past, was delighted to be reunited with his old friend. Regardless of their familiarity, however, Gildor could not agree to meet with Halbarad.
Orcs threatened the elven refuge and Gildor had to protect his people at all costs. The heroes told Gildor of their battles within Nan Wrathen days before but, while the orc forces would likely have suffered greatly, they were not truly defeated while their leader lived. Like the dwarves, the elves could not spare a moment of their time on meetings until the danger they faced passed.
The heroes gladly took upon the task of ending the threat of the Orcs of Nan Wrathen and bringing their mission, that started in Trestlebridge, to an end. Battle-hardened, the heroes swiftly fought through the orc and goblin ranks within Nan Wrathen until they came upon their leader. They fought bravely against the Orc until they defeated him atop the mountain pass.
The heroes, satisfied with their victory, returned to Lin Giliath. With the threat to their refuge quelled, Gildor agreed to meet with Halbarad. With both the elf and dwarf representative assured, the heroes made for their final destination. They had fought valiantly to protect Trestlebridge in the past and the heroes were quite excited to see how the villagers had fared.
They arrived in 2 days time and found that Nellie Boskins, who now led the village, refused to attend the council. She resented the absence of the Rangers of the North during their time of need and how little they had done, in her eyes, to aid her people. With this shocking news, the heroes were sent away from the village. With no other choice, they returned to Halbarad with the somber news.
Upon their arrival to Esteldin, they informed Halbarad of each race’s decision. He was not surprised at Nellie’s decision, but he did not have time to lament over it. The rangers had learned of an orc force moving from Fornost towards Trestlebridge. Halbarad rallied his rangers and the heroes to make for the village to defend its people.
They arrived swiftly but Nellie continued to stand against the rangers and refused their assistance against the orcs. However, the time for ideals and hard-headed stands had passed, as the orcs had reached the bridge. The heroes fought against the Orcs from Fornost through the night alongside Halbarad and the village’s guard. Although it was long fought, they came out victorious. Nellie apologized to Halbarad, who had fought bravely to defend the town and agreed to come to Esteldin to meet with the council.
The representatives of the free people of the North Downs arrived in Esteldin shortly after. They convened within one of Esteldin’s many libraries where Halbarad revealed to them the evil that stirred within Fornost. Together, they contemplated their next steps on how to topple this great evil. The heroes listened to the representatives debate and argue over the best course of action. Regardless of the method, however, the heroes knew that whatever lay in wait within the ancient kingdom would have to be destroyed at all costs...
Further Reading: King's Norbury