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Well, despite my best efforts and everyone else’s worst, the town of Archet was burned down, most of the inhabitants were killed, Amdir was made a thrall of the Dark Lord and the villainous Eogan got away.

It’s morning now and everyone is crawling out from under the heaps of ashes, debris and dead bodies, wondering what to do with themselves.

That’s it for the tutorial. We’re now in the full open world and have access to all of the game content.

Normally Hobbit characters are sent to the Shire at the end of the tutorial, but I think it’s kind of abrupt to leave Archet without finding out how the battle turned out and doing a couple of the wrap-up quests.

Well, I’m anxious to get back to the Shire. I’m homesick and I have a score to settle with the post office for getting me into this stupid mess in the first place. But I feel like I should help out a bit before I leave. I know I’ve ridiculed these people quite a bit – no less than they deserve, mind you – but they’ve had a hard time of it and I feel like I could make a real difference here. Having your home burned to the ground is always a tragedy, even if you’re a towering dunderhead.

First, let’s take a look around town and see who made it through the night.

Looks like the Archet Jail survived.

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Good for them. Now they’ll be able to go on serving the finest cakes and pies to the cutthroats and highwaymen of Middle Earth.

Looks like the Tavern might have suffered a little smoke damage.

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I don’t think anyone will be stopping in for a pint anytime soon.

I’m glad to see the Greater Archet Shopping Center still going strong.

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I couldn’t reach this strip mall during the siege, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that these loonies were here the whole time, selling crap while the bandits ran around butchering their customers.

So taking account of the damage, it looks like the tavern is the only building they burned down. I realize these guys are working for the disembodied spirit of pure evil, but wow: To burn down only the tavern? That is truly depraved.

I spy Jon Brackenbrook. It looks like he’s stopped blubbering about his dad, so I ask to see if he needs any help. The job he gives me is a big one:

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Head bowed, Jon makes his request, “I would ask that you go out and bury the heroes that fell in last night’s-“

“Hang on, hang on,” I protest, “How am I supposed to bring a grown man back to town all by myself?”

He raises his head, looking slightly confused. “I don’t understand. Why in blazes would you bring them back here?”

I glance over to our right, where many coffins have been filled and are awaiting transport to the graveyard:

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Surprised, I stammer back, “I guess I thought you’d want to bring them back here for a funeral or something.”

“Funeral?” he exclaims as if I’d just suggested he marry a giant spider. “I said these men were heroes, but let’s not get carried away with talk of funerals and such.”

“These guys aren’t getting funerals? Don’t you want to pay your respects or anything?”

“Understand that these men died bravely, but… poor. They were good fellows, but they didn’t have two coppers to rub together. No need to get ourselves all worked up while there are people of quality waiting to be buried and have their wills read.”

“So what do you suggest, then?”

Jon lets out a long, thoughtful sigh. “I dunno. I suppose the dirt in one place is as good as another.”

“So you just want me to toss some dirt over them?”

Jon brightens up, “You know, that sounds very nice. I’m sure if they weren’t dead they’d really appreciate it.”

“Actually, I imagine they’d object strongly to it if they weren’t dead, but I see what you mean. But is this really how you honor your friends who died in battle? I mean, I’m a complete stranger. What would you have done if I had died? Feed me to your pigs?”

“Oh no, of course not! God no!” he says with a bemused laugh.

“That’s good, I suppose.”

“Not my good pigs, anyway.”

Right.

So, let’s get out there and find the fallen men…

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Noooo! Not Dirk Mudbrick!

I return the brave guardian of the sheep to the earth.

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Yes, when the game says “bury them with honor” it really means, “leave them in a shallow, unmarked pile of dirt.”

Alas. Farewell Dirk Mudbrick. (Sniff.) You died as you lived: With a silly, silly name.

I make the rounds of the battlefield, burying other men with better names but lesser courage. Well, okay… their names aren’t that much better.

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WHY SO SERIOUS?

Wil Wheatley?

Man, I loved him in that one show, “Star Trek: The Next Generatley.”

I return and let Jon know that his men have been given the best burial that his 90 coppers can buy. Then we say our farewells.

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No need to thank me, Jon. Not being fed to your second-rate pigs is thanks enough.

The big thing they need around here is wood. One of the locals sends me to Chetwood where lumber is being cut and gathered,to see if I can help the process along. The sooner they get the wood they need, the sooner they can rebuild. To that end he sends me to the Combe lumber camp.

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The leader of the lumber camp is one Taylor Green. I trot into his camp and offer my services. He’s dutifully grateful for the assistance. “We want to start taking down trees just north-west of here, but there’s a wolf den in there. I’d be obliged if you could clean the place out for us.”

“You mean you want a lone Hobbit with a knife to go in and make the area safe so you can send in your groups of men with axes?”

“Like I said, I’d be much obliged.”

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It looks like there’s no point in arguing, so I stomp off into the woods to kill a big pile of wolves.

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This is not nice work, but then I do like it more than killing spiders.

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“Done.” I tell Green after I return.

“Really?” he asks enthusiastically, “The wolf den is all taken care of?”

“Not in the slightest. The thing is still swarming with the furry bastards. But I did as you asked and killed just six of them.”

His casts his eyes downward, “Oh.”

“Not to worry though. I’m sure you’ve got them demoralized by now.”

“You think so?” he asks hopefully.

“No,” I say with a shrug, “But I did my part.”

I pocket my 90 coppers and look around for anyone else in need of my services. I see a Hobbit standing nearby, which is a pleasant surprise.

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It really is nice to see a friendly face at eye level for once. Maybe one of the reasons I hate humans so much is because I always end up looking them in the crotch?

Posco Burrows is worried about his uncle. It seems the two of them were having tea when his uncle Filbert heard about these brigands and their attack on Archet. Outraged, he got up, left his tea, and went off to give them a piece of his mind.

“Oh Posco, I’m sorry to hear that.” I place a comforting hand on his shoulder, “Old people do sometimes go senile like that. Heartbreaking. If it’s of any comfort, he probably didn’t suffer too much.”

“What?” he says, shrugging my hand off, “No, I was hoping you’d find him for me!”

I nod my head, “Of course. Sorry. You want me to recover his body so we can give him a proper send-off. Understood. Sorry. I’ve been hanging around humans lately. You wouldn’t believe what their funerals are like.”

“No, no! I just want you to see if he needs help.”

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“Posco, your elderly uncle ran off alone and unarmed into the heart of the brigand hideout to say rude things to them. The only help we can give him now is to make sure we pick out a good suit to have him buried in.”

“Please, No more talk of him being dead!” Posco protests, “Just go and talk to him.”

The poor lad is in denial, but I guess I can’t blame him. I charge off into the bandit-infested woods in search of poor Uncle Filbert.

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He’s about twenty paces in, looking fiery and indignant.

“The nerve!” he shouts before I even introduce myself, “You know, I went to talk to those ruffians and do you know what they did?”

My first guess would have been “killed him,” but it’s obvious that didn’t happen. In fact, the old boy looks just fine. Not a scratch on him.

“They took my handkerchief!”

“You… went into the lair of the guys who just burned down Archet and all they did was swipe your handkerchief?” I stammer.

“Can you imagine?!” he says, stomping his foot.

I am trying to do exactly that:

BANDIT: Hey boss, this short little geezer said we’re all good-for-nothing!

LEADER: He’s got some nerve coming in here and insulting us to our faces. Looks like we need to teach him a lesson, boys!

BANDIT: Right! Let’s cut his throat and dump him outside of town. That’ll show ’em!

LEADER: Hm. I don’t know. That seems a bit… extreme.

BANDIT: Boss? We killed like, a hundred of these guys last night. I don’t think one more is a big deal.

LEADER: Let’s just take some of his things.

BANDIT: Ah! Yeah, We’ll strip him naked and send him home. That should be good for a laugh.

LEADER: I was thinking of just taking one of his things.

BANDIT: Like what?

LEADER: Does he have anything with snot on it?

“So will you do it?” Filbert asks.

“What? Do what?” I ask, suddenly snapped back to reality.

“Get my handkerchief back for me? I imagine one of their leaders will have it.”

“Great. I’ll get right on that,” I find myself saying.

And with that, I wander off into the heart of the ruffian-infested woods.

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Farewell the Mudbrick

Rest now dear Mudbrick, farewell to your sheep.
The bucket you’ll now kick, and go to your sleep.

So lay down your sword and forget all your hurt.
Here’s the heroes’ reward: a layer of dirt.

Your grave I have strewn, now forget all your pains.
We’ll see you real soon. (The next time it rains.)

Next Time: Why did I agree to this?

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