The town of Bitterford lies in the valley of the Red River, on the southern edge of the
Pagan Plains. Built on the ruins of an older settlement that dates from before the War
of the Wizards, Bitterford is connected by road to the much larger settlements of
Kaad, Mirewater and Port Blacksand (via Riverglade). As a result, much trade passes
through the town, whether it be ore-barges from the Dwarfish mines upriver or
merchant caravans carrying exotic wares to the Allansian interior. In addition to
wealth from trade, the farmland surrounding Bitterford is rich and fertile, supporting
a prosperous community of farmers and freeholders. Not surprisingly then, the town
has been often raided by marauding tribes of nonhumans and bandits from the
windswept Pagan Plains to the north.
Raljak Lying-Jackal, A Shorter History of Allansia, 284 AC, the Year of the Fox,
Salamonis: Scrolls from the Halls of Learning.
After Bitterford was razed for the third time since its founding, merchants from both
Kaad and Mirewater banded together to create the Bitterford Guard, a small but
efficient unit led by a Human or Dwarf warrior appointed from either town. Since
then, although the raids haven't stopped, they have been limited instead to stealing the
odd herd animal under cover of darkness, as opposed to wanton bloody destruction of
the entire town. The current Marshal of the Bitterford Guard is Urad Blackaxe from
Mirewater, a grizzled Dwarf skilled with either axe or crossbow and rumoured to have
one time been a Trialmaster in Baron Sukumvit's legendary Trial of Champions. As
well as directing the operations of the Bitterford Guard, Urad is the face of law and
order in Bitterford though he usually leaves the more mundane judgements and trials
to a Bitterford Council made up of the more wealthy merchants and land-owners
living in the town.
|Artwork © David Alexander Smith|
For the past week however, both Urad and the Council have been sorely troubled by
rumours and portents emanating out of the trackless wastes that are the Pagan Plains.
Thick intertwining columns of smoke have been spotted rising from the Plains,
always an excellent indicator of a predatory warband on the move. A small family
clan of Centaurs was found slaughtered on the northern road to Kaad by a merchant
convoy from that town. Such was the scene of carnage they encountered that the
convoy's Strongarms were still grey-faced and shaking even as they crossed the Red
River and left for Mirewater the next day. Then, Lael Whitebeard, a hermit and
hedge-wizard who lived in a small stone hut about a day's ride into the Plains, was
found wandering towards Bitterford by a Guard rider out scouting. Most of his skin
had been flayed and removed, apparently by a particularly blunt sword. He said just
one thing before expiring, whispering slowly whilst clutching the Guard rider with his
now-skinless fingers: "Gore! Gore will come!"
YOU however, still possess all your skin and have never strayed further than a day
from Bitterford in the first fifteen years of your life. You were orphaned five years
ago when a rogue band of Hill Trolls, raiding further west than is usual, got as far as
the Bitterford outer reaches, slaying your parents and several other townsfolk in the
process, before being wiped out by Urad Blackaxe and his Guard. The only reason
you survived was that you were with the Guard at the time, pestering the younger
ones for combat lessons. Since then, you have lived in the simple wooden hovel your
father built, employed by the people of the town to do odd jobs and general labour
about the town and its surrounding farmlands. Partly due to the fact you are
significantly larger than a typical fifteen year-old Human, and partly due to the odd
spot of combat practice with the Bitterford Guard, a large number of your jobs
involve disposing of various weird Allansian creatures that wander into town in
search of food. And there are a few. Darkwood Forest is not that far to the east, the
Dawn Mounds and the woods around the Tower of Zanbar Bone to the south have
long been a baneful area of ill repute, and then of course there are the Pagan Plains...
You are, in short, self-appointed peasant pest-destroyer of Bitterford, but also open to
other forms of employment. Could an adventuring career be among them?