We crest a hill in the northern part of the Entwash Vale. In the distance smoke rises and a smouldering ruin comes into view. Thornehope has fallen. A short way outside the ruins stands a man dressed in the armour of a soldier of the town. Only this armour is clearly no common Rider’s gear, but rather someone far more aristocratic. The man also appears to be more than a little mad, but inbetween his gibberings and rantings about orcs and being saved by a giant we learn that he is Béortnoth, son of the slain Thane Wulfrad.
This is not the first time we have seen defeat in Rohan – Langhold fell to a Nazgul while we were assisting in its defence. In that instance though the majority of the folk were safely evacuated so the community of Langhold persisted under Cillan’s stewardship. Here the hold has fallen and no such deliverance took place. Thornhope has fallen, as there seems precious little hope of it being retaken, let alone rebuilt.
Nevertheless, as Béortnoth starts to collect himself he begs us to venture into Thornhope to find if there are any survivors within, and more generally to kill some orcs in revenge. We find several such survivors, who in turn also beseech our aid. Some wish for personal things, reminders of loved ones or comforts – others wish further revenge. A maid even desires us to gather some things which, she hopes, will bring some comfort to the young Thane.
The young Thane himself is determined to reclaim Thornhope from the orcs. Is he mad? More than a little, I think. Nevertheless, one has to kind of admire his grit and determination. With his ragtag band of survivors he thinks he can take on the whole world – and in this little corner of Rohan perhaps he can.
Eomer also sent us out in this corner of the Vale, directing us to the sight of his slaughter of the orcs. This leads us to a few quests on the edge of Fangorn, and we confirm that the young Thane was saved not by a giant, but by an Ent. This explains a fair bit of his apparent madness. After completing a few bits and bobs the epic questline takes us back to Eaworth to speak to Eomer again. I am not sure, however, if I will follow it or follow instead the quests leading me deeper into Fangorn.
I have mentioned before how we have been presented by a series of separate “images of war” in Rohan thus far – and Thornhope presents us with another. Thornhope gives us destruction and decimation, and trying to pick up what few pieces remain. It is a powerful image after our more successful efforts, and also I think a reminder the fate of Thornhope could all too easily be the fate of many of the towns we have visited thus far.
Finally, at the end of the quests in Thornhope there is a solo instance where, along with the young Thane, we attack the orcs in Thornhope. It actually turns into a daily quest. Anyway, I was running it for my first (and so far only) time, and it bugged out. One of the npcs failed to complete his dialogues, meaning I couldn’t get the quest to finish the quest. So I asked for customer support. It took perhaps 25-30 minutes before a GM responded – which considering this was in peak EU timeperiod I thought was pretty good. He (or she) quickly understood the situation, and resolved it for me within about 10 minutes. In any game of the complexity of a modern MMO I expect things sometimes to go wrong, especially in new content. The trick is in the support response, and thus far I have also had great service and this was no exception. So just a quick heads up for the GM who helped me out, and to his/her colleagues in all of these wonderful games. Next time one helps you out, remember to say thank you. I am sure they appreciate it.