Knot of Thorns
Lawful Good, small town
Government: autocracy chosen by the monarchy in Matharyn
Population: 1,800 (1,500 humans;150 dwarves; 50 halflings; 100
- Lord Thomas Havelyn, commander of Balentyne and Lord of
- Counselor Donnagin, priest of Mitra
- Tacitus of Morimun, magister
- Bellam Barhold, owner of the Lord’s Dalliance
Aldencross is a market town and it is not rare for smaller traders to come from all over to peddle their goods here. Aldencross is a fine place to buy supplies. There is an alchemist in town who sells potions of healing. There is a scribe with a modest selection of scrolls (none above 2nd level). Normal equipment is available in abundance. Aldencross is a soldier’s town so there are numerous smiths who make arms and armor. They’re eager for some side business to supplement their contracts to the crown.
Aldencross is a township of necessity. It exists only because Balentyne exists. First, there was the dwarven bridge that spanned the nearby River Tyburn. That bridge was built in a time when a great dwarven kingdom spanned the entire island both north and south. That bridge was a critical lifeline connecting the dwarven realms, north and south.
In time, the dwarven realms faltered and disappeared but their sturdy bridge remained surviving through the centuries. When King Accarius IV called the Architect built the Watch Wall, this ancient bridge was an obvious place to build a fortress. The king considered destroying the bridge but decided against it. The bridge might be useful in the planned invasion of the Savage North (that invasion never materialized) and the mere existence of the bridge meant the bugbears had a known choke point they were likely to attack. And so the dwarven bridge became the death trap called Balentyne.
Balentyne was not far from a crossroads where the north-south old dwarven road met the newer Talirean road that ran parallel to Lake Tarik and the River Tyburn. At that crossroads, there was single inn called St. Alden’s Cross, named for an obscure Talirean saint who protected travelers. That inn is long gone and in fact, its foundation is located at what is now the Town Hall. This inn was a small oft forgotten way station for traders and explorers and for many decades, that was all that was here.
The construction of Balentyne changed everything. Suddenly, the inn had guaranteed business. Off duty soldiers need a place to drink and relax between guard shifts. The Lord-Commander of Balentyne built a home near the inn, as did some of his officers. And around that central nexus the town began to spring up. The closeness of this relationship is confirmed by the fact that the town of Aldencross has no mayor. The master of Aldencross is always the Lord-Commander of Balentyne.
Aldencross was never a walled community. Balentyne was the fortress and offered all the protection the town may need. It is also a soldier’s town. Even though prostitution is illegal in Talingarde, Aldencross has more than its share of single women who seem always ready to have a soldier visit for “lunch”.
This unseemly underbelly of the town does not change that fact that this is a Talirean township. Most of the people in town are good Mitran-fearing farmers and artisans. They grow the food and make the equipment that the soldiers at Balentyne need to keep the Kingdom of Talingarde safe. There is not a single family in town without a connection to the Watchtower. It is their sons who guard the Watch Wall. It is their daughters who marry those sons. It is there labor that feeds it, clothes and equips the soldiers and keeps the frontier safe. This is a point of immense pride to the people who make Aldencross their home.
The town of Aldencross is located in the Borderlands region of Talingarde. It is a temperate clime, warm during the summer but bitterly cold during the winter and often receives heavy snow fall. The spring is wet and mists sometimes roll off the great lake, covering the town in thick fog. During the fall, the trees turn into a spectacle of color before shedding their leaves.
The land itself is hilly and forested up until you approach very near the river Tyburn itself, which is a great canyon that cuts through the rock and soil, making a massive scar that runs all the way from Estyllis on the east coast to Farholde on the west, nearly cutting Talingarde in half. Near the canyon the land is rocky, barren and slopes upward.
North and west of the town is the Lake Tarik, the great inland sea of Talingarde. Aldencross trades with a few small fishing villages and thus lake trout, amberscale and cold water crayfish are not rare on the dinner tables of the townsfolk. Crayfish in particular are prized, but in Lake Tarik they never grow to the gigantic size sometimes seen in Lake Scardynn nearer Farholde.
South of town are rolling farmlands broken up by scattered expanses of forest. It is these isolated farmsteads that largely feed both Balentyne and Aldencross. Wheat fields, apple orchards and vegetable patches fill the country side, as does pasture land for cattle and sheep. These farmers visit Aldencross to sell their wares and trade at its markets.
The forests are populated by all manner of game. Unlike in the heartlands, these forests are not owned and regulated by local lords. This means that even the com- mons can hunt for both fowl and deer. As a result, these animals are both often seen on the tables of Aldencross. Venison stew is probably the closest thing the town has to a local cuisine and it is eaten with great frequency.
l manner of forest birds such as warblers, shrikes, larks, winchats and nightjar are frequently seen. Hunters of course are more interested in the partridge, grouse, pheasants and ptarmigans. But most prized of all are the ducks that swim about Lake Tarik. They are skittish and fast fliers, and are thus difficult to catch but their meat is a prized delicacy.
The town surrounds some green rolling hills called by most ‘the town green’. The town green is where the townsfolk meet and socialize. When the weather is good it is not uncommon to see townsfolk out and about on the greens, chatting about the seasons and sharing the local gossip.