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UBLAAT-NOR (Khanate of)
Location: Continent of Brun, southeast of Leeha, between Kameloth and the Free Plains. NW
Area: Approx. 998 sq. mi. (2,585 sq. km.); no definite borders, however.
Population: Shifting between 1,000 in winter and 2,500 at other times of the year (nomadic migrations).
Languages: Viaskodas, Heldannic.
Coinage: Barter commonly used.
Taxes: 1/3 of the family's goods must be given to the khan (baron) yearly. He redistributes half of the total amount to the needy families and keeps the remaining half.
Government Type: Barony, member of the Kingdom of Alpha, member of the Norwold Confederacy.
Industries: Horse herding, hunting, agriculture.
Important Figures: Brogahn (Baron), Barkal the Red (Chieftain).
Flora and Fauna: Ublaat-nor consists of grasslands, steppes, rolling hills and a few cultivated farmlands. It resembles the wide grasslands of Ethengar, with many colourful flowers dotting the plains and low-lying hills in spring. Small ponds and streams crisscross the country, and a few pine groves grow here and there. Small game is abundant and horses (both wild and tamed) are numerous in this valley. Monstrous flora includes grab grass patches and thorn bushes, while great cats, hippogriffs and manticores are the most dangerous predators roaming Ublaat-nor. Unicorns have been reported travelling regularly through the region.
Further Reading: CM1 Test of the Warlords, previous almanacs.
Description by Adik de Chevas and Arcadius.
The Barony of Ublaat-nor [or Khanate, as it is commonly called by its ruler and settlers. Arcadius.] is a small and modest dominion, just south of the Duchy of Kameloth and west of the Free Plains County. Basically a large grassland with a few hillocks dotted with pine trees, Ublaat-nor is home of a few standing communities of farmers, but it is better known in this part of Norwold for its nomadic inhabitants, the free-spirited and proud Viaskodas.
The visitors coming to Ublaat-nor [which means "Plains of the Sky Father" in Viaskodas. Arcadius.] will be profoundly impressed [and probably bored as well. Adik.] by the homogeneous landscape stretching all around. Seemingly infinite grasslands and lowlands, which become a disheartening white sea during winter, and bloom with a myriad of colourful flowers during spring: these are the two faces of Ublaat-nor. Ponds and streams coming from the hills in the west and from the Wyrmsteeth Mountains farther in the south provide freshwater both to the soil and to the grasslands' inhabitants.
However, even though the terrain may seem lush and fertile to the unwary observer, a further and more accurate inspection reveals that the soil is not surprisingly rich for cultivation. This is why few of this barony's inhabitants are actually sedentary farmers [mostly those living in the northwest, near the hills bordering with Kameloth. Arcadius.], while the rest are herders and hunters. In fact, Ublaat-nor has got a great deal of small game [rabbits, hares, marmots, and even the occasional deer and geese. Arcadius.] and breeds some of the best mares and stags that can be found in upper Norwold. Horses in particular are highly prized in this land, and usually allowed to roam free wherever they want. A law issued by Lord Brogahn even declares horses as "holy animals" to be protected: whoever is found killing a horse is usually lashed and killed in a most unpleasant way in Ublaat-nor [the guilty's arms are tied to two different horses, which are then sent galloping in two opposite directions, thus splitting the poor soul into two parts. Adik.].
There are no real towns in Ublaat-nor, merely a couple of villages of farmers where the occasional traveller may rest [but do not even think to look for an inn in this place: the best you can have is a bunk or some hay inside a stable or a tent. Adik.]. Since the majority of this country's populace is made of nomadic breeders, they usually move from one place to another as the seasons change, living in big tents easily packed on the backs of their horses [much like it happens in Ethengar, Lord Brogahn's homeland. Arcadius.]. Lord Brogahn himself has a standing hall in one of the villages dotting the western hills, where he can be found during the winter, but during the rest of the year he is constantly galloping around the country, to oversee his people's welfare and to participate in their rites and festivals.
First of all, one thing common to all of the people living in Ublaat-nor: they are by no means rich. They all lead a poor life as farmers, herders or hunters, and do not possess much wealth besides their herds or tools [that is why barter is so common among these folk that they wouldn't know how to use a hundred gold pieces if they had them. Adik.]. But they seem to like it this way, also since this makes them all equal, more or less, so they lead their lives without complaining too much [the kind of populace every ruler would like to have. Adik.].
A few of the inhabitants of Ublaat-nor are of Heldanner stock, and not surprisingly all of them chose the sedentary life of the farmers. The remaining people all belong to the Viaskodas tribe, a unique culture of nomadic barbarians living in western Norwold. Even if nominally under the rulership of Lord Brogahn of Ublaat-nor, these people have no real intention to settle down, and they always run with their horses throughout the plains, following the seasonal changes. They move yearly, going from the northern dominion of Ublaat-nor to the southern Barony of the Lake, preferring to reside in Ublaat-nor during the summer, and retreating southwards only when the strong winds of autumn start to sweep the northern plains and rainstorms pour over the Valley of the Wind [a long and narrow valley nestled between the Wyrmsteeth to the east and Lake Alinor to the west, connecting Ublaat-nor to the southern dominions of Chevas and the Barony of the Lake. Adik.].
Viaskodas are a strange lot, from the ethnic point of view. They have strong Ethengar features, like slightly oval eyes and tanned complexion, but at the same time the colour of their hair and eyes ranges from the typical Heldannic blond and blue, to the black and brown found among the Ethengar nomads. Their language has a couple of similarities with Ethengar and Heldannic as well, but they do not seem to have come from Ethengar, nor have they always lived in Norwold. According to their ancestral legends, they came to Norwold on their horseback, riding over the waves of the eastern sea to escape the aggression of the "White Demons," who apparently came from the Otherworld to invade and raze their ancient homeland [this may refer to the Alphatian conquest of the continent of Alphatia, thus leading to the conclusion that they were the first inhabitants of that landmass. Yet the mystery of their transition to Norwold on horseback remains, and leads us to believe they have probably exaggerated something in their legends. Arcadius.].
Viaskodas seem to honour not only specific Immortals associated with weather and other environmental phenomena [as it happens in most primitive and barbaric cultures. Adik.], but they have also a strong mysticism that pertains to their dead ancestors. They pay homage to the spirits of their departed [which are embodied by animals, as it happens in Ethengar and among the children of Atruaghin. Arcadius.] with weekly ceremonies, and often their shamans ask them for guidance on important matters, if the clan leader doesn't seem sure enough to make a decision by himself. This gives the shamans a strong influence on the daily life of the tribe, and in fact they are shown deep respect by both the common tribesmen and the leaders.
Another peculiar figure among the Viaskodas is the so-called taltos. These people are considered especially blessed and gifted by their peers, because they have a very close relationship with the spirits of the ancestors, who impart to them secret knowledge regarding all aspects of life and afterlife. As the saying goes among the Viaskodas: "A taltos is born, not made." A caul or teeth at birth, webbed fingers or toes, even a sixth finger or any other distinctive birthmark are signs that a child is destined to be one of the taltos. Taltos are innate spellcasters, drawing power both from the spirits of the dead ancestors and the Immortals, as well as from their inner souls. They are usually trained to become the protectors of their clan, and are bound to destroy evil creatures, especially undead and demons, wherever they find them, giving these wicked souls their final rest.
It is no surprise then, that Lord Brogahn has found so many similarities with these nomads to make blood-bonds with their chieftain, the brave and powerful Barkal the Red, obtaining their support as well as their respect after showing them his strength and courage in battle [the baron told us he undertook many ordeals and tests of bravery, according to the customs of these tribes, before being acknowledged as lord of Ublaat-nor. Adik.].
It is not known why exactly Brogahn of Ethengar came to Norwold in AC 1001. No rumours circulate over this lord's past in his homeland [a clear sign that his subjects both fear and respect him. Adik.], so we must give credit to his words and assume he was simply drawn here by a dream-induced omen received by the spirits. After swearing loyalty to King Ericall of Alpha, he travelled extensively to find a suitable place for his barony, and stopped in Ublaat-nor, where the spirits told him he would forge his own khanate. He immediately began to make his intentions known to the people living in these grasslands and after travelling with the different clans of the Viaskodas, he was finally able to claim his right to rule Ublaat-nor in front of the assembled Council of the Chieftains in AC 1002. After succeeding in many different tests posed to judge his strength, his honour and his motivations [last but not least the bare-handed duel with Barkal the Red, renowned champion of the Viaskodas. Adik.], he was officially acknowledged in his position by the council, who however made it clear the Viaskodas would never settle permanently in his land. They came to terms easily, since Lord Brogahn was used to the nomadic lifestyle, and the tribes agreed to pay him a small tribute in exchange for his protection and friendship.
During the Great War [AC 1005-1009. Ed.], Brogahn and his men became an impassable obstacle for the Thyatian legions who marched eastwards across Kameloth, forcing them to avoid these plains and to march along the northern coast, where the troops of Lady Allisa Patrician crushed their advance once and for all, preventing them from reaching Alpha. It was after this combined military campaign that Lord Brogahn developed a close relationship with Lady Allisa [many say more than an actual friendship, although everyone at the court of Alpha knows well that Lady Allisa's favours were always directed more towards Lord Ernest Day rather than Lord Brogahn. Adik.], and at the same time started a friendly competition with Lord Day of Hopeland regarding any sort of field activity. The friendship bond that linked these three lords was so strong that every time one of them had problems, the other two immediately came to aid their fellow. More than once King Ericall took them as example to show the other Norwold lords the best way to cooperate and create a unified country, but it seems they have always remained the exception to the rule in Norwold.
In AC 1016 the Norwold Wars ravaged our lands, and the three lords were busy repelling dragons, monstrous worms and the baneful armies of the treacherous Black Duke. Lord Brogahn worked with Lady Allisa to stop the Black Duke's soldiers and unholy troops from gaining access to the Alphan Peninsula, and their final battle at the Regent's Pass is now part of Norwold's most heroic legends. Even if King Ericall offered him a promotion in status, Lord Brogahn refused as he had done in the past, staying content with the fame he had gained inside the confederacy. The only bad news for him was the exile that Lord Day had to endure after the peace signed with the dragons of Wyrmsteeth. Lord Brogahn has done everything possible to ease Lady Allisa's pain after Lord Ernest Day's disappearance, but it seems Lady Allisa's heart will still weep for a long time.
There's nothing really unmissable in Ublaat-nor except for the country as a whole, especially during spring and summer. Flowers bloom everywhere, and the festivals and contests held by Viaskodas are a pleasure to attend, if you are welcome, that is. Also particularly interesting is the Summer Fair held by Lord Brogahn near his hall in Felmont, to celebrate the harvest as well as his friend Allisa's birthday. He has taken the habit of inviting lords from nearby lands and issuing duelling contests of various kinds, so it is always an exciting event.
Again, if you're not used at frigid temperatures and do not know how to escape a pack of voracious wolves, I wouldn't recommend you staying out in the snowy fields of Ublaat-nor during the winter. Better keep your doors shut and a fire always cracking inside the heath as the farmers do, and pray that the evil spirits of the winter do not come to knock at your door.