And when I looked up, January was almost gone!
"But I had such plans!" I cried out to the unfeeling universe. "Such amazing plans for exploring the world of The West Wood!"
"January's not quite done," the unfeeling universe pointed out. "If you start now, you can be done before midnight."
On that note, I present...
The freehold known as Foster's Crossing stands where the Vancine River intersects a major trade route. Davas Foster founded it as an inn, catering to both road and river travelers, over 40 years ago. Since then, the settlement has grown into a thriving town of several hundred people (if you include the folks living in the outlying farms). It's even got its own resident witch.
Foster's Crossing is ruled by Davas' daughter, Lady Mayor Sal Foster. Sal's not as young as she used to be, but she's still got the wits and wisdom that helped her turn her pa's inn into a bustling trade town. She welcomes newcomers, keeps the peace between the business-owners and the farmers, and cracks the whip on the bureaucrats who help her run the freehold. But it's starting to wear her out.
The townsfolk expect that, when Sal passes on or steps down, her eldest son Dom will take over--which, they all agree, is a shame. Dom's an arrogant blowhard who's not nearly as smart as he thinks he is. His little brother Amos would make a much better lord mayor, but the title falls to the eldest heir, not the most qualified. Of course, that's just tradition, and tradition has a way of falling out of favor out west.
Foster's Crossing is literally at the crossroads of the frontier. Travelers and cargo pass through both by river and road, heading in all four directions. One the one hand, this means plenty of cash into the town's coffers. On the other, it means the freehold has more than its share of troublemakers (human and fairy-folk alike) drifting through.
The freehold's relative wealth and strategic location has not gone unnoticed. To the north of Foster's Crossing is the dominion of Stoneworth, which is ruled by the noble Glynn family. Baron Ashton Glynn has been trying for years to convince Sal to bring the town under his "protection," but she's make it clear that Foster's Crossing can protect itself without subjecting itself to the whims of the nobility. Baron Glynn doesn't have the military might to conquer the freehold without destroying it, so he employs mercenaries (including monsters from the Deep Forest) to sew chaos and destruction in town. He hopes that that with this added pressure, the townsfolk will eventually come begging to be taken under House Glynn's protection.
The biggest news this year is that silver has been found in the hills two days' south of Foster's Crossing. Now the freehold is being flooded by prospectors, dwarves, and other folks looking to cash in on the silver strike. While most are honest miners and merchants, more than a few bandits and would-be claimjumpers pass through town with them -- and even the most honorable silver-hunter can turn violent with enough drink in him.
Luckily, Foster's Crossing is protected by Urtogg, the sheriff. A hulking, orcish grenlen with blue skin, Urtogg rarely needs to draw the six-shooter the town witch enchanted for him so many years ago. While he appears a brute, Urtogg is actually quite patient and gentle, and serves the people with love. He has a pair of deputies to help him in his peace-keeping duties, and another dozen reliable citizens he can call on to create a posse if necessary.
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