Volume One, “The Elven Dagger”
Part One, “The Fate of Arnor”.
ROTD starts with a portrayal of the peaceful Shire, prospering after 300 years of peace. The major character of ROTD, Folco Brandyback, is a young hobbit, a distant descendant of Merriadoc the Magnificent. He lives in Buckland, in a family “mansion” of the Brandyback clan, Brandy-Hall. All hobbits are quite happy with their comfortable lives with the exception of Folco, who is dreams about battles and elves and adventures, just like Bilbo and Frodo of years long past. Often Folco would ride alone in the nights, being bored by the everyday routine of Brandy-Hall. One night he meets a wandering dwarf, Thorin, on his way through the Shire. During this surprise meeting, Folco loses his pony. Faced with the prospect of punishment from his cocky and arrogant uncle, Folco asks Thorin for help. The dwarf agrees. During the conversation, Thorin confessed to Folco, that he was looking precisely for someone from Brandy-Hall, where a huge collection of ancient manuscripts and The Red Book has been stored. The reason is that dwarfen stronghold, Moria, has been lost again, but not to the orcs. An unknown terror has forced the dwarves from there. Thorin is looking for additional information before setting of on a possible quest into Moria.
The hobbit and the dwarf became friends.
Thorin also tells Folco, that the world around is not that peaceful, there are many “petty wars”, on the borders of Arnor, in the Wild, on the seas, etc. During their attempt to find the missing pony, Folco and Thorin stumble upon a small creature, a gnome who is part of a spying party sent by “an unknown employer” “to scout the around the Shire.” Taking the creature prisoner, Thorin leaves for the Annuminas, the rebuilt capital of Arnor, saying that this is very serious and he must report this fact to the Governor in person.
Folco stays in the Shire for a while, but then, driven by an outburst of rage, when forced back into his previous “boring” life, he leaves Brandy-Hall in pursuit of his dwarven friend.
Folco and Thorin reach the village of Bree. On the way there they noticed a strange procession that was leading to the fields of the Barrow-Downs. It looked as though they were worshipping the Barrow-Wrights.
In Bree, in the infamous “The Prancing Pony”, Folco and Thorin encounter a hunchback named Sandello. A quarrel then turns into a fight – Folco having been teased by one of Sandello’s companions, and the hobbit was able to knock a teaser down, throwing a beer mug into his face. Sandello intercedes and Folco gets severely beaten. Thorin, who was arrived at the inn late, tried to stop the hunchback, swords are drawn, but as blood was about to be shed Sandello is stopped by some mysterious leader of this group.
The fight interrupted, Folco and Thorin are approached by Rogvold, the former commander of five hundred cavalrymen in Arnor’s army, and now a trapper. After discussions Rogvold promises to lend them his support in setting up a meeting with the Governor in Annuminas. Being troubled by the news, that someone was worshipping the Barrow-Wrights, Rogvold suggests a “short recon” to the field of the Barrow-Downs. But prior to going there, he suggests that the hobbit be armed.
In an armory shop after bartering for considerable time its strange looking old keeper suggests a fabulous elven bow to Folco. The bow looks like it was made exactly for a hobbit’s hand. Elven arrows accompany the purchase.
The three companions venture deep into the Barrow-Downs. There they spot a site for sacrifices – a bonfire with bones in it and several crudely forged swords left in the ashes. Thorin decides to take one as evidence. By “violating” the evil sanctity of the place, Folco, Rogvold and Thorin are assaulted by a Barrow-Wright and only an elven arrow from then elven bow was able to stop it.
The adventures then proceed through the land of Arnor, seeing more and more evidence of disturbance and unrest. Senseless battles between different villages provoked by a mysterious old man Hraudun, settlements burnt to the ground by raiding rogues and outlaws, etc.
Once, while passing through a forest, the three travelers found a rather peculiar place. It looked as though an enormous fireball had hit the ground here and at the bottom of the crater Folco was able to discern the faint contours of an armored figure. The place was filled with an evil force and our wanderers hurry to leave this place. Following a narrow path in the woods, Folco finds a fibula, a broach to fasten his cloak. It was carrying the same emblem as on the sword that had been picked up by Thorin in the ashes of the bonfire in the Barrow Downs – a ladder coming from out of the ground leading to heaven.
Proceeding onward they found themselves at last in Annuminas. Although a very time-consuming task they were finally able to arrange a meeting with the Governor. Meanwhile both Thorin and Folco got used to the living in the proud capital of the North Kingdom. Folco becomes a cook; Thorin takes on a job as a smith. At this time, they meet a group of dwarves who are planning a daring raid in an attempt to retake Moria or, at least, in doing so figure out what was happening there. Among them was one dwarf, Strory, nicknamed “The Kid” – a merry fellow, who likes good beer, good food, good company and a good fight – preferably, in the ranks of good company. Strory becomes a close friend of Folco's and Thorin's and teaches Folco swordsmanship.
While in Annuminas the three travelers survive a second assault by a strayed Barrow-Wright who had been driven far from his grave in pursuit of the sword he worshipped, which had been taken by Thorin. They were saved by the fortunate that Folco had sensed the presence of the worshippers of the Barrow-Wrights. The guards of Arnor, however, were too late and the conspiracy was not revealed.
At last the friends meet with the Governor. The news they bring him, unfortunately, does not impressed him. His motto was “Everything is under control.” Arnor possessed a false sense of invulnerability and invincibility.
Folco had left his home in late summer and had now spent the entire winter and spring in Annuminas. On one occasion Folco, Thorin and Strory ran upon a strange pair talking in a tavern besides them: an old chronicle-writer Theophrastus and his strange companion who was talking as if on behalf of the orcs, easterlings, haradrims and all other nations and peoples in Middle-Earth that are considered to be part of the “dark forces”. Those who fought on the "wrong side” during The War of The Ring. “Every Will or every Power, regardless of whether it is good or evil, is right provided it leads men to valorous deeds, to Glory!” The man’s speech turns to be rather anti-elven with the motto: “We do not need bits of their great knowledge. Sooner or later Men will acquire all this richness by themselves”.
The guards of Arnor guards finally appear and try to apprehend this stranger. A fight breaks out, during which we once again meet Sandello who seems to be in the service of the stranger. Nonetheless, the stranger escapes, leaving the old chronicler behind, who was almost trumped during the fight. Folco, Thorin and Strory help the old man to his house and learn that the name of this mysterious man, who had been chased off by the guards, is Olmer - a gold seeker from Dale. He is interested in the history of the war of the Ring and he is seeking those places where the fabulous "Heaven’s Fire" hit the ground in the past.
Olmer will play an important role as the story unfolds.