Garsfeld is the home of the Rohirrim we rescued in Fangorn Forest. He begged us to be of aid to its inhabitants, and in the epic storyline Éomer asked us to meet him in Snowbourne – and Garsfeld happens to be on the way. We approach Garsfeld from the north, green grass with wildflowers on either side. Through the gates it appears to be a slightly rambly place, and full of soldiers. Well, the Rohirrim told us it was approached by a host of orcs so that makes sense. Curious the Mead Hall is the first, I think, without a great fire in the middle. Even Langhold’s tiny hall somehow felt more opulent.
The luscious northern approach was an illusion. Garsfeld is under tight siege, the elderly Thane still brave, but indecisive. His son is more active in Garsfeld’s defence, but limited in what he can do. Nevertheless he sends us on a mission to the crofts. We find these blackened ruins. In time we also get a mission to thin the half-orc numbers in their camp – which we do – but that is all. Unlike, for example, at Faldham where an attack on an orc camp was done with an aim of disrupting the enemy forces by removing leadership and vital supplies, all we do here is kill some half-orc and burn some banners – the latter a task I always figure more likely to enrage than to disorganise.
Even after our successful raid of the half-orc encampment the Thane still dithers. He asks us to consult with his son and two of his lifelong companions. One companion can only see defeat against the vast numbers of the orc, whilst the other does not care to count. He is sure their duty is simple: slaughter every last invader. I must admit, I find his directness refreshing compared next to his thane. The son offers more practical advice – given how bad things have gotten it would be best to evacuate the civilian folk and then defend Garsfeld with the fighting men. The Thane agrees with his son’s recommendations, and says he will stay with the defenders whilst his son will lead their people to Snowbourne.
First though we have a last set of tasks, to see if there are any survivors from the croft at greatest distance to Garsfeld. The place is over-run with orcs, with many slaughtered. One man alone appears to be a survivor, tied up. We free him and quickly set about revenging the fallen farm folk. That done, it is time to return to Garsfeld to assist in the evacuation. All the time I can not help but to think of Langhold. The situations are not entirely the same, but there are similarities. An inactive Thane, a vast opposing force, and a decision to evacuate. This time though we are not staying behind.
As it happens the evacuees are attacked along the route, but the orcish raiders are fought off with help from yours truly, and we arrive at Snowbourne. Garsfeld is left behind to its fate.
I have to say, for the first time in the expansion I feel a little underwhelmed. There is no “great moment” to the Garsfeld quests. No named enemy to slay – even in the final instance. Perhaps the quest line will lead us back there at some point, but right now the entire storyline feels quite weak. Given the high quality of the other quest hubs, this is truly disappointing.
I am now in Snowbourne, ready for what is presumably the final portion of the single-player storyline. Hytbold still awaits me too, and the rest of the Book IX, so there is still plenty to do.