In the southern portion of Norcrofts lies the settlement of Faldham. So far it has been untouched by war, but the young thane knows it is only a matter of time until the war comes to him. He is Elfmar, son of Elfhelm (whom we met on the Isen). Here we are presented with an image of a son of a great man, trying to act in a way that would make his father proud – and that gains him the respect of the veterans under his command. These veterans have refused to follow Reeve Athelward’s orders to gather in Cliving – and Elfmar understands that Athelward only thinks of Cliving and not the rest of the realm.
The first thing we do is spar with some of Elfmar’s men. This is a rather fun little instance where some of the opponents give in very easily, and others not so easily at all. We also spar with Elfmar himself. Youthful he may be, but there is no doubt he takes his role as a military warlord seriously. In the next series of quests it becomes plain he takes his role as protector of his people very seriously too, as we help the folk of Faldham prepare themselves for the coming battle. Some of these tasks are fairly mundane – helping people board up their houses for example. Others are far more military, such as a pre-emptive strike against an orc-ish encampment and thereby hoping to disrupt the attack.
Overall there is a “calm before the storm” feel to Faldham, but not an ignorance. The people are serious minded going about their business as the children, more innocent of the world, run and play. The storm does eventually break however in an instance where we start off following Elfmar – and then others – in defending Faldham from assault. In what I felt was a rather nice touch, one of the Rohirrim warriors at some point says how useful it was to have disrupted the orc-ish encampment. This is a little thing, but it always heartening to see the developers try to give quests a sense of significance.
Faldham is defended, and both the epic storyline and ordinary quests now set us of to see the Reeve of Entwash Vale. Faldham has been far the most “hopeful” of all the settlements we have visited in eastern Rohan, with a capable and even optimistic Thane. We leave Faldham and Norcrofts behind on a high.