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At his 111th ("eleventy-first") birthday, Bilbo leaves the Ring to his nephew and adopted heir Frodo Baggins. The Wizard Gandalf soon learns it is the One Ring, and that Sauron seeks to retake it. Taking no chances, Gandalf tells Frodo to leave the Shire with the Ring and sends him to Bree with Sam, with plans to meet him there after Gandalf goes to Isengard to meet the head of his order, Saruman. Saruman reveals that the Nazgûl, or Ringwraiths, have left Mordor to capture the Ring and kill whoever carries it; having already turned to Sauron's cause, he then imprisons Gandalf atop Orthanc. Gandalf is then forced to watch as Saruman orders his orcs to build weapons of war and create an elite Orc army called the Uruk-hai.
While traveling to Bree, Frodo and Sam are soon joined by fellow hobbits Merry and Pippin. After encountering a Ringwraith on the road, they manage to reach Bree, and there they meet a Man called Strider, who agrees to lead them to Rivendell. They agree only because Strider already knows about the Nazgûl and that Gandalf isn't there to guide them.
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