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Prologue

I amar prestar aen… The sever is changed.

han mathon ne nen… I feel it in the Overworld.

han mathon ne chae… I feel it in the Nether.

a han noston ned gwilith. I smell it in The End.

Much that once was is lost. For none now live who remember Alpha.

THE LORD OF THE CRAFT

A female voice describes the development of the Rings of Power. Elves, Dwarves and Men are enthralled by the beauty of the rings upon their fingers.

Galadriel: It began with the forging of the great rings. Three were given to the Elves, immortal, wisest and fairest of all Minecraft players. Seven to the Dwarf lords, great miners and craftsmen of the Stronghold halls. And nine, nine rings were gifted to the race of Men, who above all else, desire power in this server. For within these rings was bound the strength and will to govern each race of Minecraft.

But they were all of them deceived, for another ring was made. In the land of the Nether, in the lava of Mount Doom, the Dark Mod Sauron crafted in secret a master ring, to control all others.

Sauron is shown at the Crack of Doom in the Nether, masked and clothed in metal armour, wearing the One Ring upon his right hand. It begins to glow and an inscription appears as if written in red flame.

And into this Ring, he poured his cruelty, his malice, and his will to dominate all Minecraft. "One Craft to rule them all."

N00b players flee in terror from their burning homes as the army of Sauron begins its relentless attack on the inhabitants of Middle-earth Server.

One by one, the free lands of Middle-earth Server fell to the power of the Ring. But there were some who resisted. A last alliance of Men and Elf players marched against the armies of the Nether, and on the slopes of Mount Doom they fought for the freedom of Minecraft.

Vast armies of Men, Elves, Zombies, and Skeletons assemble on the battlefield. The Elves and Humans regard their enemies as the Zombies snarl back, taunting them. Then the Zombies attack the Alliance, rushing across the field that separates the two armies. The Elven lieutenant gives the command to the Elven archers to engage.

<<Elf: Tangado haid! Leithio i philinn! (Hold positions! Fire arrows!)>>

The Elves raise their bows and release a slew of arrows at the oncoming Zombies, taking down the first line of Zombie defense. As the wave of the Zombie infantry reaches the first line of the Elven troops, the Elves swing their diamond swords up, slicing the Zombies as they come, one after the other down the line. Soon the Eves and the Men are fully engaged in combat, taking down many of the Zombie troops. The leader of Men raises his diamond sword in triumph.

Victory was near. But the power of the Ring could not be undone.

Sauron strides onto the battlefield. The Elven lieutenant looks up in trepidation. The Dark Mod, towering over both Elves and Men, brandishes a mace and shows the Ring of Power glowing on his finger. In fear, some of the warriors back off. Sauron wields his mace, hitting a group of warriors and sends them flying across the field. He repeats it with another fell swoop. The leader of Men raises his sword to strike Sauron, but Sauron parries the blow and flings his adversary against the rock, crushing him to death. A sign comes up saying, "High_King_Elendil was killed by Mod Dark_Lord_Sauron." Horrified, one of the Men rushes to the fallen warrior.

It was in this moment, when all hope had faded, that Isildur, son of the King, took up his father's sword.

Isildur grasps the hilt of the diamond sword, but Sauron quickly stomps it down, shattering the blade. Sauron, with the Ring on his finger, reaches down towards Isildur, but suddenly has connection problems and freezes. With a last desperate attempt, Isildur lets out a battle cry and strikes Sauron’s hand with the shards of the sword, slicing off the finger that bears the One Ring. Sauron's wireless connection returns and he lets out a cry as the Ring is separated from him. He implodes, sending a shock wave throughout the battlefield, knocking the warring troops off their feet. His armor falls unto the ground, his body vaporised. A sign comes up saying "Mod Dark_Lord_Sauron imploded."

Sauron, the enemy of the free-peoples of Minecraft, was defeated. The Ring passed to Isildur, who had this one chance to destroy evil forever. But the hearts of human players are easily corrupted. And the Ring of Power has a will of its own.

Isildur, proudly wearing the Ring of Power on a chain round his neck, returns from the battle. On the way, his troop, all but obliterated in the recent battle, are attacked by a band of Zombies. In the melee, Isildur grabs the chain and snaps it, putting the Ring on his finger, and immediately vanishes. He dives into the river, but the Ring slips treacherously off his finger and falls down to the river bottom. Isildur, visible again, is spotted by Skeletons and killed by 3 arrows. His body floats down the river. A sign comes up saying, "High_King_Isildur was killed by Skeleton."

It betrayed Isildur to his death. And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost.

Alpha became Beta, Beta became Version 1.0, and for two and a half thousand Minecraft years, the Ring passed out of all server knowledge. Until, when chance came, it ensnared a new bearer.

A small pixilated human-like hand, scrabbling on the river-bed, comes across a round metal object, and closes its fingers around it.

<<Gollum: My Precioussssss>>

The hand, now gnarled, twisted and filthy, opens its palm to reveal the Ring.

The Ring came to the player Gollum, who took it deep into the Dungeons of the Misty Mountains. And there, it consumed him.

The Misty Mountains come into view. The scene changes to reveal a midden of decayed fish flesh and bones. Beyond them, Gollum, twisted and deformed beyond recognition by his 'precious', crouches with his treasure.

<<Gollum: It came to me, my own, my love, my own, my prrrrreciousssss! Gollum!>>

The Ring brought to Gollum unnatural long life. For five hundred Minecraft years it poisoned his mind. And in the gloom of Gollum's cave, it waited. Darkness crept back into the forest of the server. Rumor grew of a shadow in the east, whispers of a nameless fear, and the Ring of Power perceived its time had now come. It abandoned Gollum.

The Ring bounces slowly down a chasm in the rocks of Gollum's cave, and hides itself, unbeknownst to Gollum.

But something happened then the Ring did not intend. It was picked up by the most unlikely player imaginable.

A human-like creature, scrabbling amongst the bones and scree in the cave, comes across a round metal object. His fingers close upon it.

<<Creature: What’s this?>>

A Hobbit: Bilbo_Baggins of the Shire community.

<<Bilbo: A ring!>>

Bilbo gazes in delight and wonder at his new find.

<<Gollum (from afar): Losssst! My precious is lost!>>

Bilbo hears Gollum's shrieks of dismay, and gets to his feet in alarm. Something tells him to put the Ring in his pocket.

For the time will soon come when Hobbits will shape the fortunes of Minecraft.

Chapter One: A Moderator is Never Late

The Misty Mountains fade from view as a Minecraft map appears, moving slowly across the landscape to reveal the length and breadth of Middle-earth. A different voice takes up the tale.


<<(Voiceover): Ahrrmm . . . The 22nd day of September in the year 1400, by Shire Faction-reckoning. Bag End, Bagshot Row, Hobbiton, Westfarthing, the Shire, Middle-earth. The Third Age of this server.>>


<The interior of Bag End makes its appearance. Organic, rounded and compact in nature (obviously a mod was the culprit), it is revealed as the home of a well-to-do, settled but rather untidy player. Books (not that they do anything in Minecraft) and maps are piled up in every chest, spilling over shelves, on the floor, anywhere they can find a spare space, alongside random pieces of wood and assorted homely utensils.>


THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING


Bilbo_Baggins is seated at his desk in the study at Bag End. His skin wears clothes are well-made but carelessly worn, despite never coming of as of being what a skin does; someone who has more important things on his mind than mundane matters such as appearance. He has his back to view and is apparently writing something in a large book. The title is revealed:


<<Bilbo: There and Back Again. A Hobbit's Tale, by Bilbo_Baggins. Not that you can read books on this game.>>


Bilbo turns the title page over to start afresh on a new page. He pauses and takes a puff from his pipe, another mod-made item.


<<Bilbo: Now . . . where to begin? Ah, yes.>>


<He resumes his writing.>


<<Bilbo (v/over): Concerning NPC Villagers.>>


Images of the Shire part of the Middle-earth server and its quaint inhabitants appear as Bilbo begins to describe the life of NPCs. In the market square NPC Villagers gather to look over the latest wares, present their stock, and share a drink (despite not having moveable arms). In the fields, cows are being milked, pathways swept clean, and animals grazed.


<<Bilbo (v/over): NPC Villagers have been living and farming in the four Farthings of the Shire for many hundreds of Minecraft years. Quite content to ignore and be ignored by the world of the Players - Middle-earth being, after all, full of strange creatures beyond count. NPC Villagers must seem of little importance, being neither renowned as great warriors, nor counted among the very wise, and have such ridiculous noses.>>


One of the more wisdom-challenged NPC Villagers seems intent on giving a Squidward-stare at a sheep. Bilbo pauses in his writing and chuckles to himself at the image. A knock sounds at his door.


<<Bilbo: Frodo! Someone at the door!>>


He resumes writing.


<<Bilbo (v/over): In fact, it has been remarked by some that the NPC's only real passion is for getting people out of their houses.>>


<A Hobbit player, making eyes at and preparing to kiss his lady love, is pushed out of the room by an NPC, who closes the door after him. The lady does not get her kiss.>


<<Bilbo (v/over): A rather unfair observation, as they have also developed a keen interest in brewers, and the smoking of pipe-weed, a rare mod allowed in the server. But where their hearts truly lie is in peace and quiet, and good tilled earth. For all NPC Villagers share a love of things that grow.>>


<A young NPC, in a garden tending to his flowers, holds up a fine specimen, pleased by its beauty.>


<<Bilbo (v/over): And yes, no doubt, to others their ways seem quaint.>>


<Images of party preparation in a field begin to emerge.>


<<Bilbo (v/over): But today, of all days, it is brought home to me, it is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life.>>


A Party Banner is erected in the field, to much applause and cheers.


More knocking at the door. Bilbo exclaims impatiently.


<<Bilbo: Frodo! The door!>>


The knocks become louder and more insistent.


<<Bilbo: Sticklebacks! Where is that boy? Frodo!>>


A young hobbit player is sitting beneath a tree in the woods, reading a book, or at least pretending to since the ability to read a book hasn't been developed in Minecraft yet. He hears a male voice singing.


<<Voice: <humming>, down from the door where it began. <humming>, and I must follow if I can.>>


The hobbit closes his book and stands, listening. Recognising the voice, he smiles then runs to the road. An old pixilated player, with the skin of a gray cloak and a pointy hat, is riding a minecart filled with TNT and such.


<<Old Man (singing):

The road goes ever on and on,

Down from the wooden door where it began.

Now far ahead the road has gone,

And I must follow if I can…>>


<<Hobbit: You're late!>>


The old man does not look at the hobbit at first, and then turns slowly, with an emphatic expression on his face (mod) that begins to twitch.


<<Old Man: A Moderator is never late, Frodo_Baggins. Nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to.>>


Both he and Frodo slowly begin to grin and crack up into laughter


<<Frodo: leaps onto cart and hugs the old man It's wonderful to see you Gandalf!>>


<<Gandalf: laughs Ooh! You didn’t think I’d miss your Uncle Bilbo's cyber birthday?>>


Gandalf sets the cart in motion and resumes his ride towards Hobbiton.


<<Gandalf: So, how is the old ex-griefer? I hear it's going to be a party of special magnificence.>>


<<Frodo: You know Bilbo. He's got the whole server in an uproar.>>


<<Gandalf: Well, that should please him! chuckles>>


<<Frodo: Half the server's been invited. And the rest of them are turning up anyway.>>


They both laugh. Bilbo's voice takes up the narrative again as the minecart makes its way past the fields of bright crops, over the bridge by an old mill, and past the market square.


<<Bilbo (v/over): And so, life in the Shire section goes on, very much as it has this past Age . . . full of its own comings and goings, with change coming slowly, if it comes at all.


The cart begins to climb up a gradual slope towards Gandalf's destination. The hillside and the surrounds are lush and verdant - the Shire is a land of plenty.


For things are made to endure in the Shire, passing from one generation to the next. There's always been a Baggins, living here under the Hill . . .


Back in his study, Bilbo puts the finishing touches to his opening chapter.


<<Bilbo: . . . in Bag End. And there always will be.>>


In the cart, Frodo and Gandalf are nearing Bag End.


<<Frodo: To tell you the truth, Bilbo's been a bit odd lately. I mean, more than usual.>>


Gandalf looks thoughtful.


<<Frodo: He's taken to locking himself in his study. He spends hours and hours poring over his map when he thinks I'm not looking.>>


Bilbo tosses aside the map he's been studying and sighs. He puts his hands in his pockets (mod). Suddenly an expression of alarm comes over his face, as he digs urgently into his pockets and turns them out, becoming more frantic.


<<Bilbo: Where's it gone??>>


He starts to turn the house over, desperately searching for the lost item. Finally he digs deeper into his waistcoat pocket, and with a huge sigh, pulls out the object and closes his palm over it, closing his eyes in acute relief.


<<Frodo (back in the cart): He's up to something.>>


Frodo glances at Gandalf, but the wizard is non-committal and just stares deliberately at the scenery.


<<Frodo All right then keep your secrets.>>


<<Gandalf: Hrrrmmph>>


<<Frodo: But I know you have something to do with it.>>


<<Gandalf: Good gracious me!>>


<<Frodo: Before you got us to buy Minecraft, we Bagginses were very well thought of.>>


<<Gandalf: Indeed?>>


<<Frodo: Never had any adventures or did anything unexpected.>>


<<Gandalf: If you’re referring to the incident with the Enderdragon, I was barely involved. All I did was give your uncle a little nudge out of the portal.>>


<<Frodo: Whatever you did, you’ve been officially labeled a disturber of the server.>>


<<Gandalf: Oh really? Whispers It rhymes!>>


As the cart drives past, NPC Villager children are drawn to the sight of the old wizard and his mysterious packages. They run behind the cart, shouting.


<<Hobbit children: Gandalf! Gandalf! Fireworks? Gandalf?>>


A grumpy old NPC Villager with a grim look is raking his yard. His wife comes out to see what the fuss is about. She looks very disapproving with her Squidward nose. Gandalf pretends to ignore the children. They come to a halt as the cart keeps on going away from them.


<<Hobbit children: <disappointed> Awwww.>>


TNT packages suddenly go off from the cart.

The NPC children cheer.

Gandalf laughs.

The NPC children blow up.

The grumpy old NPC Villager chuckles (mod).

The grumpy old NPC wife gives a nagging look to the grumpy old male NPC.

The grumpy old NPC restores his grumpy look.


<<Frodo: Gandalf, I'm glad you're back.>>


<<Gandalf: as Frodo jumps off the minecart So am I, dear boy! . . . So am I.>>


Outside Bag End, Gandalf jumps out of his cart.


<<Gandalf: Whoa, whoa.>>


He gets down and goes through the fence gate which bears a sign saying: "No admittance except on party business." Gandalf knocks on the door with his staff.


<<Bilbo: from within No thank you! We don't want any more griefers, well-wishers or old Call of Duty buddies!>>


<<Gandalf: And what about very old Minecraft friends?>>


Bilbo opens the door


<<Bilbo amazed: Gandalf?>>


<<Gandalf: Bilbo Baggins!>>


<<Bilbo: My dear Gandalf!>> gives Gandalf a hug (or tries to without using a mod)


<<Gandalf: Good to see you! One hundred and eleven server years old --who would believe it? looks at Bilbo in astonishment You haven't aged a day.>>


Bilbo and Gandalf laugh as Bilbo bids Gandalf inside.


<<Bilbo: Come on, come in! Welcome, welcome! closes door and takes Gandalf's hat and staff Oh, here we are. Tea? Or maybe something a little stronger? I've got a few bottles of the Old Winyard left. 1296 --very good year. Almost as old as I am! Hahaha!


Bilbo hangs up Gandalf's hat and disappears down the corridor on his hunt for refreshments.


<<Bilbo: It was modded by my father. What say we open one, eh?>>


<<Gandalf: Just tea, thank you.>>


Gandalf, bent double, backs into the chandelier. He steadies it, but then bumps his head onto the beam and utters an "Ooooff ". Nursing the pain he enters Bilbo’s study and sees the map of the Lonely Mountain mounted on a frame. He picks it up to examine it. Meanwhile, Bilbo is pottering around in the kitchen.


<<Bilbo (out of sight): I was expecting you sometime last week! Not that it matters, you come and go as you please. Always have done and always will. You caught me a bit unprepared, I'm afraid. We've only got cold chicken and a bit of apple ... Oh, there's some milk here- oh no, that won't do. Err, we got rasberry jam and an apple tart ... Not much for afters, I'm afraid. Oh, no -we're all right! I've found some pork chop. enters the study I could make you some beef if you like-- oh. Gandalf?>>


<<Gandalf (appearing right behind Bilbo): Just tea, thank you.>>


<<Bilbo: Oh, right! <with mouthful of pork chop> You don't mind if I eat, do you?>>


<<Gandalf: Oh no, not at all.>>


Gandalf sits down on a chair just inside the kitchen entrance. There is a sudden, incessant knocking on the door and a female player shouting: "Bilbo! Bilbo_Baggins!"'


<<Bilbo: <whispers> I'm not at home!>>


He tiptoes up to the front window and peers out to identify the unwanted visitor.


<<Bilbo: It's the Sackville-Bagginses!>>


<<Sackville-Baggins (outside): I know you're in there!>>


<<Bilbo (in alarm): They're after the house. They've never forgiven me for living this long!>>


Still armed with his pork chop, Bilbo disappears hurriedly into the kitchen.


<<Bilbo: I've got to get away from these confounded relatives hanging on the bell all day, never giving me a moment's peace! Well, it is Minecraft after all...>>


Bilbo puts down his pork and stares out his window while Gandalf tries to make himself comfortable at Bilbo's hobbit-sized table (plug-in).


<<Bilbo: I want to see mountains again, mountains, Gandalf! And then find somewhere quiet where I can finish my book. Oh, tea! He hurries to prepare the tea.>>


<<Gandalf Still disposing his limbs.: So, you mean to go through with your plan, then.>>


<<Bilbo: Yes, yes. It's all in hand. All the arrangements are made. Gandalf lifts up the lid of a tea pot, Bilbo starts to pour water into it. Oh, thank you.>>


<<Gandalf: Frodo suspects something.>>


<<Bilbo: ‘Course he does. He's a Baggins! Not some block-headed Bracegirdle from Hardbottle community.>>


<<Gandalf: You will tell him, won't you?>>


<<Bilbo: Yes, yes.>>


<<Gandalf: He's very fond of you.>>


<<Bilbo: A pause. Bilbo looks away. An expression of regret comes over his face. I know. Bilbo again wanders over to his glass window. He'd probably come with me if I asked him. Chuckles I think, in his heart, Frodo's still in love with the Shire: the woods, the fields … little rivers. I'm old, Gandalf. Bilbo comes away from the window. I know I don't look it, but I'm beginning to feel it in my heart.>>


Gandalf's gaze is drawn downwards to Bilbo's waistcoat pocket as the Hobbit's fingers begins to fidget with something inside it. Gandalf frowns.


<<Bilbo: I feel thin -- sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread. He sits down wearily at the table. I need a holiday - a very long holiday - and I don't expect I shall return. In fact, I mean not to!>>


Evening falls on Hobbiton. Bilbo and Gandalf sit peacefully smoking pipe (mod) outside Bag End. Below them, in the party field, sounds of laughter and revelry float up from a growing crowd of players and NPCs preparing for their evening's entertainment. Torches and candles light a festive scene and everywhere food is rapidly filling up the space on wooden trestles.


<<Bilbo: Old Toby. The finest weed in the Southfarthing.>>


Gandalf is unimpressed. Bilbo blows a large ring of smoke which hangs gently in the still air. Gandalf regards it for a moment, and then, sucking his cheeks in and out, blows a majestic, full-rigged ship that sails right through the ring.


<<Bilbo: Ahh! Gandalf, my old friend. This will be a cyber party to remember!>>

The Departure of Bilbo_Baggins

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