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Ostland (Kingdom of)
Location: Off the coast of the Sea of Dawn, east of Vestland and southeast of Heldann. OW
Area: 8,920 sq. mi. (23,105 sq. km.).
Population: 141,100. Population increased by the addition of a new jarldom in AC 1018.
Languages: Heldannic, Dwarvish (Archaic and Rockhome dialects).
Coinage: Krona (gp), eyrir (sp), oren (cp).
Taxes: None. All revenue is gained through raids into other nations.
Government Type: Feudal monarchy.
Industries: Piracy, agriculture (grain, potatoes, and beets), fishing, logging, and trade.
Important Figures: Finn Hordson (King), Yrsa Svalasdottir (Queen-Mother), Asgrim the Bowed (Royal Adviser), Throfar Strongarm (Jarl of Gråbjerge).
Flora and Fauna: Sheep, horse, cattle, goats, dogs, deer, elk, and brown bears can be found on the islands of Ostland. The forests are composed of ash, yew, and conifers.
Further Reading: GAZ7 The Northern Reaches, The Domains of Ostland by Jacob Skytte, previous almanacs.
Last Year's Events: See below.
Description by Gilis Shadowborn.
The island Kingdom of Ostland is my home. These words are not easy to say, even now, for though they are true, my real home, the home of my heart, is not the Kingdom of Ostland, but the Kingdom of Gråbjerge. Alas, a kingdom we are no longer and such thoughts are but sentimental clinging to the past. We have become a jarldom, part of a greater whole. My people are now the equals of the human karls, who struggle daily to carve out their existence in this harsh land.
Ostland is a hard place to live. The humans huddle behind walls, find shelter in bays and coves, hide in their valleys. Yet, to survive, they must venture out, to plant their fields or take to the vast sea to pull out food from its depths or to take what they need from others. The land offers little solace to those who dwell on its surface. It speaks well of them that they manage to prosper under such conditions.
Beneath the land, beneath the mountains, my people have found the only way to be completely self-sufficient in this land. In our caves we have all that the heart could desire. The tunnels run deep beneath Gråbjerge and many natural wonders can be found here. Food is good, bats and giant beetles are plentiful if you know where to look, and with a supplementary diet from the mushroom fields, you have everything you need for your body to survive.
As everybody knows, the mind needs more than just food to survive. Thankfully, our land has what the mind craves: precious metals, gems and iron. These resources are not in abundance, but they are here, and we know how to find them, work them, and profit from them. The hallmark of my people is quality and excellence, and when we desire something from the humans, we need but offer some of our craft or services to obtain it.
The humans believe that they are the masters, the dominant race of Ostland. They think that it was they who settled this land, bent it to their will and carved civilisation out of it. Yet, my people were here long before the humans. We are the dwarves, and we settled Ostland in ages past. We are the Modrigswerg, exiled from Rockhome for being too clever, for pursuing our crafts without restraints, for being ambitious where others wanted things to never change.
You can hear the story from any Rockhome dwarf, how we supposedly dealt with demons and dark elves, how we sold out our race to learn forbidden magic. We did no such thing. To perfect our crafts, we learned from those who were not dwarves, and in return we shared "secrets" of our crafts with the outsiders. The other clans considered this a terrible act of treachery and exiled us, fabricating their lies in the hopes that others would be loath to deal with us, that we would never again teach outsiders the dwarven ways.
The clan split apart and my ancestors came to Ostland. They found the small mountain range to be a perfect home, its natural caverns a good foundation for a great clan hall. When the humans settled the lands outside the mountains we did not mind, and for some time we had dealings with them. Yet, the dwarves of Rockhome came to the land and warned the humans against us, spreading their lies again. The humans, believing the lies that they were told, withdrew completely from the mountains, afraid of what we might do to them. It was with regret that my people decided to keep to themselves, rather than aggravate the humans.
So it was for many centuries, millennia even. The occasional open-minded individual would approach us and benefit greatly from trading for our superior crafts, but by and large we had no dealings with the humans who had settled the land beyond the mountains.
It took two truly great individuals to change this unfair turn of events to the better: my father, Throfar Strongarm, and the young King of Ostland, Finn Hordson.
The latest in a long line of great craftsmen kings, my father is perhaps the most brilliantly gifted dwarf of our time. He has tracked down the other Modrigswerg clans and, with a little help from his devoted daughters, united us in a great truce. Approaching their king, he has even allied us with the humans, something that would have been impossible not long ago, when Hord Dark-Eye held the throne of Ostland.
Young King Finn is truly a pride to his people. Rarely do we dwarves find a kindred soul in a human, one who understands us and does not let prejudice blind him. King Finn's rule will truly bring an age of prosperity to Ostland, our two races finally united. Let the outside world say what it will, legends are in the making.
As good Ostlanders we have opened our great hall to our human brothers and sisters. Though we may put restrictions on where you go in our caves (for your own safety, of course-our tunnels were not built for humans), you will see wonders, be treated to a feast, and get to know my people better. You will find the opportunity to trade for our excellent crafts or commission fabulous work from our famous smiths and jewellers. We are your kinsmen now, and will treat you as such in the hopes that you will return the favour.
All that we ask in return for our hospitality, is that you refrain from exploring the caves without our consent. You will find that if you ask, we may provide you with guides to show you some of the wonders of the underground world we inhabit. But if you go on your own, you risk death from any number of dangers. There are creatures living in our caves that endanger our lives daily, and we have learned to deal with them through centuries of contact, but you may quickly find yourself prey to them. You also risk cave-ins, stumbling into a deep crevice or being caught in a pocket of gas. Our caves are dangerous for the unwary, so please come to us before endangering yourself needlessly.
A Second Opinion by Bombic, Son of Morur, Resident of Ostland.
[This is a heavily edited transcript of a lengthy letter received by the editors of the Mystaran Almanac, presenting a different view of the Modrigswerg. Ed.]
What kind of harebrained, idiotic [...] publication are you people running? [...] Bad enough that you lure my lad, Gilor "Rockcrusher," to engage in reckless, ill-conceived [...] adventures with the promise of gold, gold that he could easily obtain if ever the lad had the sense to settle down, take up some honest work [...] and show proper respect for his elders. But no, that isn't enough for you. You send him into the last place any sane dwarf would go: the realm of the Modrigswerg! The most despicable, dishonest [...] breed of vile betrayers! Don't you people have any sense inside your thick skulls? Do you delight in putting honest, hardworking [...] folk and their families in danger, not just of their lives, but of their very souls?
I'll tell you about those dirty, rotten so-called dwarves! Not only are they insane and evil, they practice the worst kind of cruel sorceries! The Modrigswerg steal men's souls and bind them into their crafts, where the soul will suffer horribly forever. They are in league with the Immortals of Entropy! [...] They may appear oh, so charming, all smiles and grins, but those smiles are not so pleasant when they're the last thing you see before your soul is sucked into a gem! To actually send people into their lair is so irresponsible, crazy [...] that I cannot help but wonder what other places and dangers you subject your contributors to. Clearly you have no children of your own, or you would know that one does not send youngsters where evil and corruption lies!
Now the bastard Modrigswerg have even dared venture outside their hiding places, no doubt encouraged by you people foolishly disturbing their long peace. For millennia they hid themselves away from the world, they kept those malicious, devious [...] faces out of the light. Now their leader, no less, prances about in King Finn's court, a honoured jarl! What sorceries he has employed, I do not know, but I fear for the fate of our nation, when twofaced, lying [...] villains walk openly among us.
[...] If I could get my hands on my lad, I would pound some sense into him, but the gold he received from you people has gotten to his head. The lad has run off to Soderfjord, where I hear even more of these disgusting, immoral [...] Modrigswerg traitors have crawled out of their holes to haunt and terrorise respectable karls. If you know what's good for you, you'll get word to my boy that he is to come home immediately!
[The editors of the Mystaran Almanac wish it to be known that all contributors are volunteers, and that the payment they receive is mostly symbolic, not something that will build you a fortune. Furthermore, the Mystaran Almanac sees it as its duty to bring news and descriptions of all the diverse cultures that inhabit our world, without judgment and bias on our part. Ed.]