Village Backdrop: Ashford

Once a prosperous village, Ashford now stands as a decayed shadow of its former self. A year ago, it was a busy place; its streets and gardens echoing with the sounds of life, love and commerce. Then the stranger came and death followed upon his heels. Plague had come to Ashford. In his wake, he left the hacking coughs and pain-filled moans of the dying and the wails of the survivors mourning their dead. Over half the population died, and many of the survivors packed and fled.

By Erik Frankhouse

By Erik Frankhouse

 

A few folk yet dwell in Ashford among the abandoned, deserted homes of their friends and neighbours, but it is now a quiet, mournful place. Weeds choke its abandoned gardens and untilled fields. Wolves, foxes and other less natural predators gnaw at the weathered bones filling the village’s open plague pit. The surviving villagers are distrustful of strangers, shunning them whenever possible, and few find welcome, cheer or solace in Ashford.

Notable Locations

Most of the village comprises peasant homes. A few locations, however, are of interest to adventurers:

  1. Ashford Manor: Abandoned by its lord, Ashford Manor is thought unoccupied by the villagers. Unbeknownst to them, three plague survivors lurk within.
  2. Mill: Although the mill’s wheel still turns, Praen Alston spends most of his time protecting, his young daughter.
  3. The Wailing Hall: The village church is rarely visited now, except by a few fanatical worshippers who are led in their devotions by Waldere Elvery.
  4. The Jolly Farmer: Little cheer is to be found here. Guests are served in their rooms and almost no villagers now drink here.
  5. The Burning Tower: Home to the enchantress Janaela Fisfelond, the tower stands amid the shattered ruins of a castle thrown down after its lord rebelled against his liege.
  6. Plague Pits: While the plague savaged Ashford, the villagers dug two plague pits and dumped the dead within. Feral dogs, woodland predators and Dunn Frewin have uncovered these grizzly reminders of Ashford’s fate.

Notable Folk

Most of the population are nothing more than hardworking peasants. A few, however, are of interest to adventurers:

  • Ailred Lewin (location 4; LN female human) Landlady of The Jolly Farmer, she is never seen without a vinegar-soaked mask about her face.
  • Baron Aelfgar Stannard (location 1; LN male human fighter 2) Ashford’s liege lord, Aelfgar has not been seen in the village since the plague struck.
  • Dunn Frewin (location 6; CE male ghoul cleric 2) Once one of Ashford’s priests, Dunn has returned from the grave to revenge himself upon Waldere.
  • Janaela Fisfelond (location 5; N female half-elf wizard 5) Consumed with her magical research—and with no empathy for the villagers—Janaela rarely emerges from her tower.
  • Praen Alston (location 2; N male human) The village miller, Praen hates Waldere—blaming him for his family’s painful death—and stymies him whenever possible
  • Waldere Elvery (location 3; LN male human cleric 3) Radicalised by Ashford’s horrific fate, Waldere is a raging alcoholic.

Praise for Village Backdrop: Ashford

“Mastermind of Raging Swan press Creighton Broadhurst is a master of depicting dreary, gritty, grimy locales with concise writing and vivid prose – and this pdf is no different. Indeed, if anything, it is a prime example of what can be done with a scant few words…”

–Endzeitgeist (five stars + seal of approval)

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