Tomorrow my daughter is five months old, and utterly dependent on her mummy and daddy (ie, me!). At some point that will change. At some point all parents have to allow their children to live their own lives. It is perhaps the defining part of parenthood – to see whether this life one has cherished and cared for is able to soar. One has to give them the freedom to realise their dreams, but this also means the freedom to fail.
I am not looking forward to it.
We arrive in Floodwend having assisted the small outpost of Twickenburg by investigating a mound containing a tomb with some restless dead. From there we are directed to Floodwend where the young Thane’s mother is holding tightly onto her son, Radwig. His father has recently been killed in another early blow of the invasion of Rohan. Floodwend, like the rest of The Wold, is beset. Her son is young, fired up with youthful dreams, eager to be a good leader for his people. In the culture he belongs to “good leader” means “military warrior”. Of course, riding out to war is hardly the safest of activities, or the most certain. Caution is a disputed military virtue. Too excessive and you end up like McClellan – too excessive and you become a reckless idiot. Of course, the definition of what is reckless or overly timid changes depend on the situation – and therein is the trick. Being a young man, eager to avenge your father’s death and to play hero is perhaps not the best frame of mind. Of course, recently widowed and being fearful for your son’s life is also not perhaps the best frame of mind.
At first, Radwig’s mother definitely has the upper hand in their relationship – and the general approval of the majority of the people of Floodwend. The lordling however sends us out to cause some trouble for the minions of Sauron. This seems to inspire Radwig, who tries to make a sortie himself. I say tries because his mother cleverly makes sure some of the guards keep him out of trouble. His basic idea is sound though – try a pre-emptive attack to disrupt the preparations of the forces gathering against Floodwend. On our return to the town, his mother has some sharp words for us, and then dispatches us to the outpost of North-tor, hoping to try and reclaim some of her influence over her son.
From North-tor we learn the situation is more serious than just an assault of Easterlings and orcs, as the quests eventually uncover that the Nazgul which attacked Langhold is leading the assault on Floodwend. Fortune – or perhaps more accurately foolhardiness (in other words, the quest objective) leads us to drive the Nazgul off with fire. The attack still falls on Floodwend, but weakened due to our attacks on the enemy forces. Waiting in the Mead-Hall before the attack Radwig dismisses his guards to help defend the rest of the town, over his mother’s protests (and attempted counter-orders) to stand with us facing any attackers than break into the hall. There are several waves of these. Radwig is no slouch when it comes to combat – and as a Hunter I found him quite effective at keeping the baddies at an initial distance allowing me not to be entirely swampped all the time. After the fight Radwig receives the grateful thanks of his people, and has earned the admiration of his mother whom has started to see the man he is becoming.
The story in Floodwend is of an heir becoming a thane, of an inexperienced youth filled with childish thoughts starting to grow into the grizzled warrior lord (if he is fortunate to to live so long). It is also the story of a parent learning to let her son go. Along with Langhold and Harwick, Floodwend offers us a triptych of war.
Alongside the quests that centre on Floodwend we also pick up again with the epic storyline, which culminates in a “race” to the first town in the Norcrofts region of Eastern Rohan. The entire series of quests in and around Floodwend flow very nicely from one to the other. Indeed, the whole questline in The Wold generally flows very smoothly with relatively few awkward edges. The one element that was a slight let-down was the final assault on Floodwend. It felt like that was begging to be turned into a defensive skirmish with three or four phases, culminating in the final battle at the mead-hall.
I have now completed, to the best of my knowledge, the regular quests in The Wold, and onto Norcrofts it is.