I was speed levelling my hunter, Ravereth. Not something I normally do, but I had promised to bring a level 65 to a nostalgia raid and I didn't have one. Now there was just one week left and still over ten levels to go. The epic quest urged me to talk to Elrond, but I had never been to Rivendell and couldn't take a swift horse there. The captain in Rivendell that I found with the /who command didn't respond to my polite request to summon me. Relunctantly I ported to Ost Guruth and mounted my own horse to make the trip manually. This would take much of my precious time.
It wasn't long before I passed a company of four players walking the road eastward. I blinked. They weren't running (the default movement for moving in MMOs), but actually walking. In other words, they were consciously moving about as slowly as possible, on a road with nothing to see. Curiosity got the better of me.
Ravereth: "Hail, travellers. Where goes the road?"
Hobbit 1: "We're walking to Minas Tirith."
Ravereth: "To Minas Tirith?! That road is long and perilous. Even I haven't travelled that far. I advice you to buy a horse, if you have the coin. I would share mine, but it couldn't bear all of you."
Hobbit 2 (squeeling): "We've been walking all day. I haven't had second breakfast yet."
Dorf (grumbling): "Damn hobbits. Always thinking with their stomach."
You trade [Superior Spiced Apple Pie] to Hobbit 1.
You trade [Superior Spiced Apple Pie] to Hobbit 2.
The hobbits are silent for a bit, occupied with their pies. Hobbit 2 looks more cheerful already. The man of the company doesn't seem interested in pleasantries (or pies) and walks ahead.
Hobbit 1, who seems to be the leader of the lot: "You can come with us, if you want. But no horses. We travel by foot."
I sigh internally. Over my dead body, I think. I estimate it will take several analogue days staring at the screen to walk all the way to Minas Tirith.
Makeshift map of the in-game road to Minas Tirith
Fun fact: using the data of this cool site that tries to stimulate people to walk through Tolkien, I would estimate the length of the road from the Lonelands to Minas Tirith to be about (198.5 (half the distance from Bag's End to Rivendell) + 693 + 535 =) 1,426.5 miles or 2296 km. With an average of 20 km per day, that would be 115 days of walking! Luckily for the company of four that I met, the in-game distances are considerably smaller. They do have to take a detour through Moria, though.
Ravereth: "Thank you for the invitation, but I carry an urgent message to Lord Elrond."
The hobbits stare at me indifferently. The name of the important Half-elf doesn't appear to ring any bells.
Ravereth: "Alright then. I will travel with you to the Last Bridge, but then I must really be on my way."
I get invited to their fellowship and so we walk the dust of the Lonelands. The presence of an agile Elf seems to have an inspiring effect on the others and they step up their pace. This invokes cheers from my company.
As we near the Last Bridge, excitement gets a hold of the hobbits.
"Time to jump down from the bridge. It's tradition!" Hobbit 1 shouts.
Ravereth: "Whoa, be careful! You might break a leg!"
But it is no use. The travellers jump up and down in anticipation and encourage each other to take the jump. When I say my farewell and mount my steed, they're still absorbed by it and don't notice me riding off. As I continue my road through the Trollshaws I smile and ponder on space and time and how players experience it differently.