There must be an equivalent of YouTube in Middle Earth, that’s the only way I can explain it. Pray allow me to indulge in a little light exposition.

I’m working on improving my reputation with the various elf factions in Middle Earth. After vadering the goblins of Goblin Town, I quickly achieved kindred with the elves of Rivendell, Elrond transformed from a cold and aloof dignitary into my last homely homie, and where once I faced arrows and barked challenges, I now received fist-bumps and offers to share a spliff.

Next on the checklist of surprisingly hostile elves were the Galadhrim. Ensconced deep within the leafy boughs of Lothlórien, the Galadhrim are the last defenders of snooty, holier-than-thou, tree-hugging elfdom; they’re the sort of people who personally invite you to come and help them fight the forces of darkness, and then on your arrival threaten to pincushion you with arrows unless you prove your worth by running errands for them. It was a couple of these errands which caused me to settle on the YouTube theory stated at the beginning of the post, but although the quests were bizarre in nature, they were also a reliable source of generous (for elves) reputation, and as such I did what any self-respecting MMO player would do: put on a suitable podcast and zoned-out in an attempt to ignore the whole sorry business, even as I repeatedly performed it.

The first quest had me collecting orc poo. That was the first thing they had me do. They did that just to show me what they COULD get me to do, and to instil in me a suitable level of apprehension. So I ran around and gathered five piles of steaming orc dung, brought it back in my inventory because they didn’t provide me with a suitable receptacle (I suspected this was on purpose), and emptied it on the floor at their feet. Degrading enough, I hope you would agree, for one who had battled the Witch King, and turned the orc bastion of The Grand Stair into a frolicking sight-seeing tour. But they weren’t finished yet. Oh no.

“Now we’d like you to take the poo and throw into a fire at one of the orc camps bordering our forest.”
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“We think it will send them a suitable message.”

No (orc)shit, it will send them a message! It will send them the ‘message’ that we’re madder than a bag full of rabid badgers. I won’t do it! Of course they nonchalantly wafted a big fat roll of repuation in front of me, and off I ran, Captain of Gondor, hero of Eriador, with a bag full of faeces and a heart full of self-loathing. Over the course of my grind I performed this quest many times, and I could only begin to wonder what the conversation was like at the orc camp each time I turned up.

“Oh god, it’s the mad poo-flinging woman again.”
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“Oh not again! Where? I don’t see…”
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“No, don’t look! She’ll come over here. Just ignore her, Henry, maybe she’ll go away.”
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“I’m sorry, it’s no good Kenneth, I’m going to have to say something. This is totally unacceptable. We’re civilised orcs, this is outrageous!”
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“Oh no no no, don’t antagonise her, Henry! Please… don’t make a scene.”
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“Oh *really* Kenneth, you are such wet blanket. I’m just going to go over there and have a calm conversation, that’s all. You’ll see, I’m sure she’ll listen to reason.”
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“Fine, you trot over to her, but I’m staying here.”
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[...]
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“Excuse me! E–excuse me? Madam? I said ‘excuse me’. Look, if you’d just stop throwing the poo for a second! Thank you. Now, I just wanted to have a calm discussion abou-aaaHHHHhOWWWWWW! SHE STABBED ME KENNETH. HELP! OH OW ARRRGGGGGGGGHHHH!”
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“I’M COMING HENRY! I’M-A COMING! Unhand my boyfriend at once, madam! Desist I say, you heathen!”

They always bring a friend when they aggro, don’t they? Still, yet again an MMO causes me to ponder whether the NPCs were, in fact, the good guys.

Next up was fetching arrows. Not such a terrible task, I think you’ll agree. Simply run around collecting five arrows from the corpses of orcs, and bring them back to the other half of the Evil Quest Twins: the two quests were handed out by a pair of NPCs who stood resolutely next to one another, and I couldn’t help but begin to view them as a sort of Mr Wint and Mr Kidd, trying to come up with highly creative ways to bump me off, or at the very least publicly humiliate me.

“The Captain claims that our missions stink, Mr Wint.”
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“I do believe it is the Captain that is most malodorous, Mr Kidd. Perhaps the Captain would like to collect some arrows instead?”
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“A flight of fancy, Mr Wint?”
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“Indubitably, Mr Kidd!”

Where was I? Oh yes, crying into my keyboard. No, wait! Collecting arrows. Right. Having collected the arrows I was then tasked with taking them to an encampment of elves a reasonable distance away. Fair enough: your standard bland MMO quest fare. I hadn’t taken into account the Mr Wint and Mr Kidd factor, however.

Mr Kidd: “Now I’d like you to take these arrows to the encampment far north of here. It is a long perilous journey I’m afraid, and will take you some time.”
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Hero: “No problem, I’ll just grab the bundle and throw it over the back of my horse here.”
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Mr Kidd: “Horse?”
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Hero: “Yes, my horse – Hawthorn. He’s swift and can easily manage the arrows as well as myself.”
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Mr Kidd: “Ah, no, you must carry the arrows on foot. You see, it’s an, uh, ancient elven ritual. *snort* Isn’t that right Mr Kidd?”
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Mr Wint: “It is the noble nature of sacrifice that we demand, Mr Wint. *chortle*”
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Hero: “Fine, I’ll do it.”
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Mr Wint: “Y-you will?”
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Hero: “Sure. As long as I get the rep, I’m on it like Gandalf riding a Balrog. I’m a hero, don’t you know? Mundane chores are *what we do*.”
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Mr Kidd: “Okay, but…”
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Hero: “But?”
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Mr Kidd: “But… you must also, uhm… run! Yes, run. You need to get there quickly!”
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Hero: “So I’m not allowed to use my horse, but it’s a matter of urgency?”
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Mr Wint: “Yes, the arrows will melt in the sunlight if you take too long.”
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Hero: “Riiiiiight. Are you guys taking the pis–“
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Mr Kidd: “Yes. Yes we are.”
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Mr Wint: “It’s what *we* do. Now off you go.”
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Mr Kidd: “Actually, hold on.”
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Hero: “What *now*?!”
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Mr Kidd: “D’you mind if we ride alongside and film you? It’s just that we have a popular channel on EruTube.”
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Mr Wint: “And Mr Kidd has posted this excellent video of some mad bint throwing orc poo into a fire, then screaming and stabbing some orcs.”
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Mr Kidd: “It’s quite spectacular.”
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Mr Wint: “Over two and a half a million hits.”
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Mr Kidd: “And now, you see, we’re trying to top it.”
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Mr Wint: “With something even more stupid.”

Posted by Melmoth at 10:43 am