The Queen's River
Thirty years have passed since Lord Roderick Arundel received a land grant along The Queen’s River from the Emperor as a reward for his brave deeds. The young lord, seeking to make his mark on the world, gladly accepted the charge to help civilize the province by building a manorial village.
Soon a prospering new village surrounded by rich croplands stood along the river. Lord Arundel named the community Briarton for the thick briars of the forest they cleared.
Time passed, until 16 years ago Briarton celebrated the marriage of Lady Alianora, daughter of Lord Arundel, to Sir William Fitzhugh. The splendid wedding was held in the stately manor house, with many nobles in attendance and a song-filled festival held in the village.
Though an outsider to Briarton, chivalrous Sir William quickly won over the villagers with his courage and friendly manner. The village rejoiced when he and the Lady Alianora produced a son, Robin Fitzhugh, a year after their wedding.
A bare few weeks after the happy event, however, tragedy struck the quiet farming community. Blood and fire engulfed Briarton. A midnight raid by vicious orcs left several villagers wounded or dead as the smoke of burning homes rose into the starlit sky. Even worse, the orcs carried a handful of villagers off to their dank lair in the ruins of Fort Houndskull deep in the Tangled Hills.
A stalwart party led by Sir William braved the wilderness to rescue the prisoners. They retrieved the survivors, but Sir William perished while fighting the orcs. All of Briarton grieved when his companions returned with the tale of his final battle.
Reminders of the raid are plentiful in Briarton even 15 years later. Kenrick the Lame, now the village glassblower, took the leg wound that gave him his name while protecting his family from the gnolls as a teenager. Many whisper that the dangerous foray into The Tangled Hills broke the nerve of Leoric the Old, starting his descent into his sad status as the village drunkard.
Grimbor, the half-orc son born of Ailith the Potter nine months after the raid, serves as a constant reminder of the tragic events. While he is loved by his mother and accepted by some, lingering hatred of orcs by other villagers makes the hulking teenager an outcast in Briarton.
In the years since the raid, Briarton has prospered. Harvests are good, and new craftsmen have settled in the village over the years. Travelers are welcome at the inn, and wandering tradesfolk make Briarton a regular stop on their circuits.