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[The following information was obtained, at great risk and personal expense, from confidential documentation found in the DDC offices in Sayr Ulan. Our source believed that the information was originally obtained over the course of several years, through intensive field observations and intelligence gathering. The staff of the Mystaran Almanac are, of course, not at liberty to divulge the identity of the individual in question. Ed.]

Location: Continent of Brun, west of the Dark Wood, east of the Yalu River. WB

Area: 82,000 sq. mi. (212,380 sq. km.), including28,220 sq. mi. (73,090 sq. km.) occupied by Hule, 9,800 sq. mi. (25,380 sq. km.) occupied by Zuyevo; the remainder is contested between the two empires.

Population: 175,000 (160,000 humans, 15,000 mixed humanoids).

Languages: Hulean, Zuyevan, Sendaryan.

Coinage: Various, barter is also common.

Government Type: None, except within the imperial territories.

Industries: Gold, platinum, tin, iron, copper, electrum and silver can all be found in abundance here. At the moment there are only a handful of mines. Two are operated by Hule (copper and iron), one by Zuyevo (silver) and one is independently operated in no-man's land (platinum).

Important Figures: Whoever has the most troops and the best weapons rules!

Flora and Fauna: Not included in report.

Further Reading: None.

Description by Marina Takanitas.

The Bylot Hills are a flashpoint region. They are sandwiched between the great empires of Hule and Zuyevo and are rich in mineral wealth. Thus, they have been a contested border region for many years-Talmavs and Hulean settlers have recently begun migrating to the area in large numbers to seek their fortune. Prior to this however, before the mineral wealth of the area was known, the Bylot Hills were a sanctuary for various monster races; humans did not penetrate the centre of the hills and lived primarily on the periphery. Olgarians and Huleans lived to the east, Talmavs to the west and Sendaryan tribesmen to the north. However, the balance has changed in the last twenty years-the humanoids that used to live in the area have left for employment in the Master's armies or have been hunted to virtual extinction by Talmav riders.

The Land

The Bylot Hills encompass a large area of central Brun, located east of the northern Yazak Steppes, and west of Hule's Converted Lands. The terrain mostly consists of rough, weathered hills with sparse vegetation. However, the northeastern stretches of hills are moderately forested, and tough Yazak grasslands make up a substantial part of the southwest and western portions.

The area is very rich in a number of valuable ores, although this has only been discovered in the last decade by Hulean and Talmav prospectors. The most common ore by far is copper, which can be found in quite large deposits in the eastern part of the hills. Iron and tin also form a large part of the mineral resources of the region and are located mainly in the northern and central hills. Electrum and silver veins are rarer, being located mostly in the southern and southwestern hills. Gold is not as common as silver, but tends to be scattered all over the region, especially in the eastern and southern hills. Platinum, as one would expect, is the rarest of the ores. Only one vein exists, and it is only a small one at that, located in the northeastern hills. It is currently the subject of an independent mining operation-the miners are Sendaryan, and are doing their best to keep their strike secret-although that is becoming difficult with rival armies dashing all over the place.

The People

The Bylot Hills include the following notable sites:

Bagvar (pop. 6,000): Bagvar is the only town of any note in the Bylot Hills. It is the principal Hulean outpost in the hills and as such is home to a Hulean garrison of 400 troops. Located 110 miles west of Leqan it is a cosmopolitan place, home to traders and miners. The population of the town swells to quadruple its size for two weeks every year when the Bagvar Trade Festival is held. About seven miles south of Bagvar is a profitable iron mine that produces high grade ore suitable for weapons and tool manufacturing. The ore is normally transported to Bagvar where it is refined and then shipped to Hule.

Laika Fortress: Laika is a superb defensive fortress almost impenetrable to conventional assault. Garrisoned by 250 troops it is the deepest foothold of Zuyevan power that has so far been built in the Bylot Hills. Laika provides protection to local Talmav and Zuyevan miners and settlers and also acts as a distribution point and market for goods, mined metals, weapons and supplies entering and exiting the Bylot Hills.

Andropov Fortress: Located on a large cliff-like hill overlooking the intersection of the Nyezhin and Yalu Rivers, Andropov is a strongly-built river port and fortress. It is home to 400 troops and designed to anchor the trinity of Zuyevan fortresses in the Bylot Hills. The military commander of the fortress is under orders to send patrols north along the Yalu River to deter Kazmen tribesmen from southern incursions, as well as sending patrols into the Zdredanyan Forest to assist Sendaryan tribesmen against occasional raids from the Kazmens and Huleans. Covert patrols are also sent along the Nyezhin River into the Bylot Hills, although these are careful to avoid large scale confrontations with patrolling Hulean forces.

Rzev Fortress: Located in an isolated section of the Bylot Hills region known as the Iron Hills, this area is home to a major silver mine and hence the reason for the Zuyevan presence. The fort is surrounded by wide grasslands, and a garrison of 150 troops is present to secure the northern route from Kulikovo to Andropov and to prevent incursions from the humanoids of the Yazak Steppes (although they are of little threat now-the Zuyevans are being cautious against their inevitable return).

Recent History

Fall, AC 1003: The Zuyevan crusade has driven out or slaughtered many of the humanoids that inhabit the northernmost part of the Yazak Steppes. Unlike the tribes that threaten the Savage Coast (like the Dankut, Hupkur and Kuttai) the northern Yazak tribes are relatively disorganised and weak; they have proved unable to stand against the might of the Zuyevan war machine. Of those who survive, many flee eastwards to Hule, and into the welcoming arms of the Master.

Summer, AC 1004: A detachment of Talmav settlers arrives in the northern Bylot Hills from the Empire of Zuyevo. They settle among the local colonists and are rapidly integrated in the multicultural society of the Bylot Hills. However, they secretly remain loyal to the distant tsar.

Spring, AC 1006: Consolidating their control of the eastern bank of the Yalu River, Zuyevan troops begin constructing a defensive corridor to allow easy and safe access to the northern Bylot Hills. The construction of three major fortresses that anchor this corridor-Laika, Rzev, and Andropov-begins. They will eventually provide Zuyevo with the ability to maintain large garrisons in the northern Yazak Steppes and northwestern Bylot Hills. The fortresses are situated in a manner that makes them easy to resupply both by land from Kulikovo and directly from the Yalu River via Magnitogorod and Sharya.

Summer, AC 1011: Contacts are made between the Zuyevans and the exiled Olgarian Church of Traladara. The Olgarian Church and the Zuyevan Orthodox Church share many sympathies so the Empire of Zuyevo pledges to support the rebels in their struggle against Hule. This support soon materialises in the form of gold and experienced Talmav mercenaries.

Fall, AC 1012: Relieved of some of the military pressure put on them by the humanoids of the Janizary Lands, the Olgarian population rebels wholesale in what seems to be a carefully planned operation. The Hulean governor is ousted and Dimitur Yotov, head of the Church of Traladara is liberated with the aid of Talmav mercenaries. The church's clergy proclaims Rahil Venevanova Queen of Olgar. Meanwhile, Zuyevo dispatches some of its Talmav troops to take control of the mineral-rich Freelands of the Northern Bylot Hills, a region nominally under the control of Hule. The Master is furious, but winter is too close for him to retaliate against his new big neighbour.

Spring, AC 1013: A massive Hulean counterattack is mounted against the Talmav troops of the Empire of Zuyevo in the northern Bylot Hills. They are met with strong resistance from the Zuyevans and are also harassed by the Sendaryan tribes from the Zanovoi River valley. Also, further south, troops are sent to quell the rebellion in Olgar. However, the entrenched Olgarians are able to hold them in the eastern part of the country and the two groups seem to be locked into a static position.

Summer, AC 1013: More troops from the northern part of the Hulean Empire are sent into the Bylot Hills and against the Olgar rebels. Seeing that the Master is weakening his northern position and that he won't be able to supply support to Sardjikjian, the northern nomads head for Kiteng in order to be in a better position to threaten Hule. Under the weight of the Hulean onslaught, the Zuyevans retreat from the Bylot Hills to their possessions on the Yalu River. The Zuyevan Tsar officially apologises to the Master for the involvement of some "loose catapult" subjects in Hulean-held lands. Meanwhile, under the guise of humanitarian assistance, the Zuyevans continue to send supplies and mercenaries to help the Olgarians in their fight against the Master.

Spring, AC 1014: The Master's troops in Olgar finish cleansing the area of the last obviously rebellious groups. Hulean control of the region is reinstated; however, the rebellion is far from defeated. Instead it has just gone underground and some rebels have moved to the Zuyevan outposts in the Yazak Steppes, where they get resupplied and benefit from free military training courtesy of the Zuyevans. Agents of the Master are sent to the Yazak Steppes goblinoid tribes in order to create an interference with the Empire of Zuyevo's plans to extend its influence in the Converted Lands.

Fall, AC 1015: With some of his troops recalled from the Bylot Hills region, Tsar Andrei channels more reinforcements into the effort to secure the southwestern reaches of the Hyborean Steppes. Also, he masses a number of regiments at Zablin for a push south to the independent dominion of Richland. For the time being the tsar decides to keep his imperial troops out of the Bylot Hills. However, his interference in the region will continue-he sends a party of high-level adventurers to infiltrate Greatrealm.