THERE are two roads to Torkertown. The shorter leads across upland moor, while the longer trail leads through quagmires and swamp. When Solomon Kane came first to Torkertown, the swamp road was considered the safer of the two, for something terrible haunted the moors and killed in a manner more horrible.
As the Puritan discovered, the fiend was the vengeful ghost of Gideon, the cousin of wicked Ezra, the hermit of the marsh, who killed Gideon and hid his body. Both ghost and killer have now departed this mortal realm, and the moor road to Torkertown is once more safe to travel.
The village is similar to countless others across England, and indeed Europe. At the center of the village is the green, an open area of grass on which the local markets and fairs are held. This is common ground, and when not in use by the villagers it is used to graze sheep. A gallows, last used to hang the necromancer Roger Simeon, stands sentinel over the green, a reminder to all that justice, even in these days of rising banditry and rumored witchcraft, will be served. Across one side of the green stands the church, an imposing stone-built structure dating back to the Normans, encompassed by a low stone wall, within the grounds of which lie the graves of Torkertown’s citizens. Though once Catholic, the church has been rededicated as a Protestant place of worship. Beside the church is the manor house, owned by the squire, a rich landowner who is landlord to most of the populace. As befits his post, he is also the local magistrate. To the other side of the green is the local coaching inn, The Lamb.
Situated on the London road, Torkertown has a steady influx of merchants and travelers. Most of the common houses are low, stone-built cottages with thatched roofs, or timber structures with wattle and daub walls. The occupants are a mixture of crafters and tenant farmers, tilling the land of the squire or the Church-owned lands.
One of the houses belongs to the constable, charged by the squire with maintaining law and order in the village. His post is part-time, and he is called upon only when needed. A small outbuilding serves as the jail, where prisoners are kept until judged by the local magistrate or sent in chains to London to await judgment by a higher authority.
On the boundaries of the village are the sprawling farmhouses, some owned by the squire and run by tenant farmers, others are owned by the church, and a few independent of either authority. Beyond these are the crop and grazing fi elds. Like many settlements, there is an orchard in which grow apple and pear trees.