Ludovny is a small town north of the Hoarwood Forest in the Irriseni province of Hoarwood. The town has been the main supplier of Hoarwood's provincial capital for centuries and has managed to maintain its position using political machinations and a river of bribes. Countess Natalka Aelena uses any means necessary to preserve Ludovny's lucrative trade status. Her two sons, Laszlo and Ludvak pull the strings of the Bitter Brotherhood, the gang of bandits who plague the trade routes from Lod and Dammartorp to Hoarwood. The countess's youngest daughter, Bozidara is also involved in Natalka's diplomatic efforts. Bozidara lives in Hoarwood, attending the endless parties of the Duchess Anelisha, whispering poisoned words and slipping bribes into the hands of key officials and merchants. The town itself welcomes the merchant visitors with cosy inns, rousing taverns, two extravagant brothels, and a busy theater called the Brenezoi which hosts performers from the southern lands of the Inner Sea.