I’ve been rereading some of my old work; I thought this might be reather appropriate in October. I ought revist the Ashewoods, I think.
The Ashewoods are an interesting case.
All the Houses are interesting cases, of course, and all have their claims to uniqueness. Perhaps it might be better to say that the Ashewoods are an unsettling case. Part of it is their Hearth; what is now called Barrowlux was once a necropolis filled with the entombed ranks of the dead, catacombs beneath a long-fallen city. Part of it is their lineage, and what they bred with down in the dark.
The Ashewoods are part ghoul.
According to their history, when the Darkness fell, a few survivors sought shelter deep in the catacombs. Over the years, the descendants of those survivors adapted to their environment. As the city above Barrowlux was razed, the survivors moved deeper, scavenging for survival. Presumably the incursions from Neverborn above led to the first uneasy alliances between human and ghoul; the details remain unrecorded. Over the years, the deeper parts of the catacombs were turned into a refuge, secured as best as possible by the traps and the great doors left above.
Barrowlux sits at the far northeastern edge of the House’s lands, and is the farthest city of any note–beyond it, there are a few scattered hamlets, and the sparsely-mapped stretch of the wilderness. Buildings are being constructed aboveground–low, square, and wide-roofed, walls plastered smooth with mud or daub when stone is beyond the means or the reach of the builder. With the disappearance of the Darkness, the eating of the dead among the Ashewoods has become largely ceremonial, though it still deeply marks their culture. Their physics are a particularly striking example–nowhere else is the study of medicine so deeply entwined with the study of cooking (on the theory that really, it’s all a matter of caring for and preparing the body).
Ashewoods tend towards the wiry and pale, with dark hair, strong jawlines, and a good sense of smell. Brown eyes are most common, although green or red are occasionally seen. Occasionally the jawline will be prominent enough to be described as a muzzle, and the brown of the eyes light enough to be more reasonably described as “ochre” or “yellow”. They are generally soft-spoken, reserved (although visitors to Barrowlux report a more relaxed attitude towards guests), and quite cautious in matters of physical security.