Gondor had all but fallen. Boromir holding the last vestiges of hope in Dol Amroth, besieged by Southrons. No help will come.
Rohan is in a pincer, the armies of Orthnac to the north and Sauron to the south. Helms deep has fallen. A small army of Rohirrim assemble in Edoras, but are clearly outmatched by the massive Orcs streaming up from a fresh plundering of Minas Tirith.
Aragorn was crowned quickly in Dol Amroth, but departed back to Rohan, on a mission of secrecy. Gandalf the White rumored to be in Fangorn. If any hope was left, it would need the strength and wisdom of the King and the Wizard. Somewhere in the lands of the horsemen, they meet one last time, cloaked from the watchful eyes of the two towers. There they laid out new plans on which the fate of Middle Earth would balance. The ranger king moved stealthily south. The wizard, on Shadowfax, galloped north.
The fellowship has made good headway through Parth Celebrant. But the burden is heavy, and Rohan and Gondor flooded with Orcs, so there will be no more safe havens to rest. The fellowship is forced to retreat back to the tenuous safety of Lorien, itself in the bulls-eye of massive shadow armies converging from Dol Guldur in the east and Moria in the north.
Fear Fire Foes*....it's Gandalf the White bringing the news to Bree. “Awake, men of the North! The dominoes fall....Gondor...Rohan....the North will be next”. And the word goes out like wildfire. In short order, Bree gathers a small army around Gandalf. The Rangers of the North mobilize and quickly move against, and conquer, the city of Angmar. Grimbeorn the Old* gathers his forces in Carrock. Not content with merely holding the high pass, he marches on Mount Gundabad, bringing it under siege.
Further east, the men of Dale and Elves of the Woodland Realm turn their eyes south on Dol Guldur, emptied for the attack on Lorien. Seeing this new northern threat, the orcs multiply again* , shoring up Dol Guldur to discourage any elvish mischief while simultaneously forcing Grimbeorn to hibernate any plans of assaulting Mount Gundebad. The Dwarves of Erebor, led by Dain Ironfoot*, not yet stirred for offensive work, muster a rear guard in Erebor...just in case the Dale men and elves decide to sortie south.
The kindred of Glorfindel* make a call in Rivendell as Gandalf counsels with Elrond. The men of Bree and surrounds march east toward Moria. Insufficient by themselves, they find help from the elves as Elrond, heeding Gandaf's call, empties Rivendell and heads south. The two armies meet, merging into a great army of elves and men led by Gandalf the White. An amazing sight for the Moria orcs to see...Elvin elites and renowned leaders, rough men, and a white wizard in front! The orcs quickly retreat into the mines to hide, as rumors of a Uruk-Hai relief army, lead by non other than the Witch King himself (exceedingly upset that Rangers lounge in Angmar), flow up from Orthanc.
The battle lines literally split Middle Earth in two. Shadow in South. Free in North. The great battles of the times, building toward a massive confrontation at the gates of Lorien and Moria, with the Fellowship right smack dab in the middle of it all. Unfathomable to think at the time, and against all counsel of the wise, the “ring” in Lorien would prove very useful in the battles to come.
To be continued....