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The Duchy of Machetos circa AC 995by Dylan Rickards
This small Duchy is a coastal plain lying in between the Themeta of Kerendas in the east and the Ducate of Karameikos on the west. The County of Vyalia and portions of the Karameikan Dymrak Forest lie to the north, while the southern border is bound by the Sea of Dread. The land is mostly fertile coastal plain, which was once the second most productive agricultural area in the Empire. To the north the Dymrak Forest encroaches on this agricultural plain, with much encouragement from the native Elven population.
Machetos is primarily inhabited by humans of Kerendan, Thyatian, and Traladaran (especially towards the Karameikan border) descent, (but unlike Karameikos the Traladarans here consider themselves Thyatians). There is a notable population of Elves and Foresters in the north and Halflings, Gnomes, and Dwarves have been known to settle in some of the villages in the Themeta. Kobolds ply the river to the east and Goblinoids and Orcs share (not happily) the Dymrak forest with the Elves. The two largest settlements are the town of Machetos (population 3000) and Vanya's Gate, a keep which sits on the border with Karameikos (population 500 with nearby villages).
The people of the Themeta of Machetos are disillusioned. Twenty-five years ago the hereditary ruler Stephanius Karameikus traded his hereditary lands for autonomous dominion over the neighbouring frontier lands of Traladara. The Emperor agreed to this trade and then looted the lands of Machetos, imposing astronomical taxes and selling off almost all of the Duchy's holdings for money's to rebuild the Army. He then appointed a bitter veteran general, Callastian Jowdynites as Duke of the land. With much of the Duke's lands sold to distant investors and wealthy citizens thinking of building estates, the population could no longer use it for planting or grazing. This led to shortages in a land that was once the bread basket of the Empire. The citizens revolted and much damage was done to the wealthy newcomers, who were driven out. Jowdynites, always a soldier, put these rebellions down harshly and violently, and many people fled either to Kerendas or to the new dominion of Karameikos. So many people fled that Jowdynites tried to get the Senate to revoke the right of free movement for citizens effectively creating serfs. The senate refused but the damage was done.
Machetos is now a burnt shell, damaged by twenty years of mismanagement and rebellion, with a fraction of its former population. What is left does not trust its ruler, who keeps power tightly with the power of his military might. Cultural tensions between the Traladarans and Thyatians have flared, with many Traladarans wanting to invite Stephan Karameikos back to restore the glory that was once Machetos, while many Thyatians believe that Karameikos abandoned them to bring prosperity to the neighbouring Traladarans. Very few Machetans feel much loyalty towards the Emperor or Jowdynites at this point.