Children of the Night
Canterwall – A war-battered people live in a fertile region watered by the Vistear River, checkered by farms and fields. The regions greatest invaders at present are the multitudes of ravens, ans seasonally, swarming locusts, cicadas, and earwigs. Balanced between lightly wooded plains and bleak moors, all cloaked by a dense fog. Local superstitions have a host of warnings about the mist. The simple folk work hard off the land, content to mind their own business and be glad they do not have orcs raid to defend against at present from the neighboring land of Belkzen.
* artwork by merl1ncz
Lozeri – The Shudderwood Forest dominates this most wild of Ustalev's counties, with its deep valleys, sluggish rivers, and overgrown redoubts. Outside Shudderwood, Cortraud also boast dairies and pastures providing much of Ustalev's cheeses and some of its finest milks. Many outside Lozeri see little difference between Shudderwood and its hamlets and villages – a deadly wilderness were man battles the savage wild. Hunters say, here, “By moonlight, all men cast the shadows of beasts.” The Kellid once resisted Soividia Ustav with inhuman persistence – some say literally "inhuman," for tales still circulate that the native inhabitants did not die, but instead merged with the land and the beasts and their curse remains to this day. In reality, supernatural dangers are far less likely than wolf packs, giant hunting spiders, and black bears that prey upon the Shudderwood’s robust populations of scrub boar, river trout, crow pheasant, beaver, and black deer. Still, in the heart of the forest, hunters confess by firelight to packs of lycanthropes that rule Shudderwood, as well as tribes of etterkin and arachnid monstrosities.
* artwork Marco Gorlei
Vieland – Between the peaks of the orc-inhabited Tusk Mountains and Shudderwood lies Vieland, where broken monuments to ancient Kellid worship sites lay, megalithic stone arrangements, and sacrificial idols to snake or toad-headed gods silently watch and wait for their time. Lore-hunters, arcanists, and neo-cultists regularly comb the ruins for treasures. It is a varied county, with rugged hills and dales cascading from mountains, breaking in stony outcroppings that gradually give way to dense swamps and woodlands. Vieland's historical richness and attraction for archeologists and scholars eventually gave rise to the famed University of Leipstadt. The university has fundamentally shifted the thinking in Leipstadt, with residents generally viewing Ustalev's superstitious common folk with a certain degree of shame or derision. Occasionally taking umbrage at this arrogance, generally the rustic people of Ustalev let the slights pass knowing that there’s wisdom in tradition, that bloodroot and holly protect a home, and that in the dark arrogance is just another word for fear.
* artwork by Daroz