Scales of War
Once a larger town with a thriving citizenry, Marthon is now a chill, unfriendly settlement at the edge of an uncharted and dangerous forest, surviving mostly on logging and exported spices. A sharp outbreak of filth fever decades ago felled a great deal of the adult population, leading to the construction of an orphanage, Hopeful House, to house and care for the many children without parents and means of subsistance. Ostensibly dedicated to Lady Hester Marthton, the original founder of the town whose sobriquet “Hopeful Hester” reflected her genial, optimistic personality, the orphanage instead came to represent the vengeful spirit of the aging townsfolk, who took out their bitterness and grief over the decline of Marthton on the innocent children of the orphanage.
For years, rumors circulated that the Marthton orphans were used for sport, slavery, and even darker purposes, until “as cold as a Hopeful House bed” and “no kinder than a Marthtonian” became bywords throughout the Elsir Vale. When an unexpected and unexplained fire burned down Hopeful House, the orphanage was not rebuilt, and many of its former inhabitants fled to other towns to begin new lives for themselves. Since that time, Marthton has declined even further, as if the weight of past infamy has cursed the town to destitution and despair. Bereft of enough young people to revitalize the town, Marthton’s chief feature these days is its expansive graveyard, and if its fortunes don’t change soon, Marthton may well become a ghost town within the next few decades.