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VESTLAND (Kingdom of)

Location: Southeast of Heldann, east of Ethengar, north of Soderfjord and west of Ostland. OW

Area: 21,065 sq. mi. (54,558 sq. km.).

Population: 157,000, including the capital city of Norrvik (pop. 16,000). Dwarves make up about 5% of the population. Population figures are down due to wars with goblinoids over the past few years.

Languages: Heldannic.

Coinage: Schilder (5 gp), guldan (gp), hellar (ep), floren (sp), oren (cp).

Taxes: None. Revenue is raised from tolls to use roads and bridges. The king is planning on installing some form of income tax in the next couple of years.

Government Type: Monarchy, with a strong feudal aristocracy. There is also a significant middle class. Member of the Western Defence League.

Industries: Agriculture (potatoes, barley, and beets), logging, fur trading, crafts (with an increasing dwarven presence), trade.

Important Figures: Bergthor Haraldson (King), Harald Gudmundson (Former King), Eyvind the Odd (Jarl).

Flora and Fauna: The deep forests harbour many normal animals-deer, boars, elk, bears and wolves. The western hills are thinly populated with trolls and other assorted goblinoids. The lowlands are home to many sorts of herd animals such as sheep, horses, cattle and goats.

Further Reading: GAZ7 The Northern Reaches, previous almanacs.

Description by Gilor Rockcrusher.

As you must all have heard by now, Vestland has taken to declaring itself a "civilised," "progressive" nation. The days where a man settled his disputes by force of arms are past. Now men hide themselves behind words, and depend on those who are good at twisting those words in their favour to not only defend them, but to deprive others of their homes and livelihoods. It is a strange state of affairs.

Still, when it comes to times of trouble the Vestlanders prove that they have not all forgotten how to plant a spear in their opponent's chest, and they have not forgotten how to appreciate a strong arm and an axe, when it is needed; appreciate it with golden schilder that is. I can relate many a tale of beleaguered jarls, beset colonists, and punitive war parties that had need of a skilled axe and a strong back.

When I took this assignment as scribe for the Mystaran Almanac, Dorrik Stonecleaver asked me to relate the improbable tales of humans of elven ancestry living in Vestland. He was, of course, referring to the Namahed Clan, a powerful family of Vestland that has ruled and expanded its lands for many centuries. I have often visited their great hall of Tromso, getting outfitted for travel in the troll-infested hills of Trollheim, so I have made my observations.

The Land

The lands of Clan Namahed lie far to the north, with easy access to Nordesfjord. Towards the ocean, steep cliffs prevent men from entering the land, but as you near the fjord, you find that the land suddenly levels with the sea. Atop the high cliffs are coniferous forests, home to varied wildlife that is often on the menu in Tromso inns.

Tromso is built from the plentiful lumber found throughout the lands of Clan Namahed, and is a small, but thriving, town of 2,000. If you watch the old buildings closely, you will quickly find that something is strange about them. It seems that those houses built in times long past are of a different design than the newly erected ones, with gentle curves and fancy carvings. While any Northman is proud to display his woodworking skills, no sane Northman would work wood this way, if you ask me.

Contrary to claims of elven ancestry, the heads of Clan Namahed have chosen to move from just such a wooden building to a clan hall made of stone, set into the cliff-side, and rumoured to have many hidden tunnels leading into the very cliffs themselves. Some are even said to lead into the neighbouring domain of Jamtfjord. This new workmanship is naturally dwarven, and, from what I know of them, it would be very un-elf-like to live in a place such as this.

The People

Taking a stroll around Tromso, you will see that there are several distinguishable types of body builds evident among the populace. A fair amount of the inhabitants are of the regular Northman stock, heavily-built, well-muscled folk. Some are dwarves come to live and work here, away from the oftentimes harsh rule of their elders. The remainder, a not insignificant number of people, are slighter of frame and finer of feature than the rest. These are supposedly the infamous "half"-elves of Clan Namahed, and, as others are quick to point out, they are all from families long settled here, and members of the ruling clan.

Foremost among these men of mixed heritage is the jarl, Eyvind the Odd. He has, by all accounts, held the position of jarl for close to 50 years now, and he still appears to have many years left in him, lending support to the claims that he carries long-lived elven blood. Eyvind is a well-known priest of Odin, who has been gifted (or cursed according to some) with the Sight, apparently seeing visions of a prophetic nature during strange fits and trances that overcome him. Creepy, if you ask me.

So are the members of Clan Namahed truly half elven, half human? As much as the thought of these two different races intermingling seems repulsive to me (imagine a human and a dwarf getting together!), the tall races are rarely known for their restraint, and it may well be that an ancestor of Jarl Eyvind the Odd took an elven thrall many centuries ago, when this practice was also common in Vestland, and forced himself on her. Children might even have sprung from this coupling, children whose features are seen even to this day, a testament to the weak will and bad taste of the human race. The truth is not known to me, but this scenario seems likely.

Neighbours have at times accused Clan Namahed of actually harbouring elves in their forests (now they've hidden them in their caves, of course), and mating with them in unholy rituals. The jarl's strange fits are seen as the High Lord Odin's punishment for his unnatural ways, and the entire clan should just be run out of Vestland. Needless to say these neighbours look to the lands of Clan Namahed with a greedy eye, and would use words to obtain them, rather than risk their worthless hides in true battle.

Recent History

Clan Namahed has had centuries to consolidate its hold on the region, and today controls three domains, those of Namahed, Verfjord, and Jamtfjord. They would likely have spread further, were it not for the trolls infesting the region, and the constant threat of raids from their neighbours. In the new, more unified Vestland, the clan thrives in its position as a last stop before approaching the lands of Trollheim from the sea.

Many a colonist or mercenary wishes to send what might be his last words or gifts to family waiting for news at home. And many are those who fear for their lives and blow their funds on a last binge before heading into deadly troll lands. So it has been in recent years, and Tromso merchants grow fat from these fools.

The coronation of a new King of Vestland, Bergthor Haraldson, in AC 1016 will likely bring little change to this area. King Bergthor is by all accounts an open-minded man, who spent years adventuring throughout the old world, a man who will maintain the traditional rule of Vestland, as he was brought up to do, and will do little to endanger the current stability of his nation. His rule has yet to be seriously challenged, and it remains to be seen what he will do when faced with troubles of a more serious nature. The recent border raids by Soderfjord raiders (in which I was a participant, I might add) may become the first challenge for this new king to overcome.

Don't Miss

If you're in Tromso during a stopover of colonists heading for Trollheim, don't miss a night out in town. It will be filled with drunken fools, who suddenly wish to be your best friend, and if you can put up with their pathetic whining, you can easily get yourself free mead, and perhaps win some gold, gambling. Or if you're in need of work, you might sign on as a mercenary to protect these same fools, but make sure you get them to sign your contract, so they won't go back on their word in the morning.

Do Miss

There's little to see or do in Tromso outside of colonist stopovers. Sure, the people are mostly friendly, there's basic back-breaking (your own, unfortunately) work to be done, and there's even dwarves, but you will find little to keep you entertained, and no promise of quick riches to be found anywhere.