On the Shoulders of Heroes
Villages: Timtala, Vuorihum
Population: Dwarves (40%), gnolls (10%), humans (40%), other (10%).
Exports: (Precious) metals, marble
Languages: Metsä (Kesma), Vuori (Vuorilas), Dwarven.
Government: Monarchy. Koning Ürtis named himself King of the Mountains when his family claimed Vuorilas.
Symbol/flag: A snowy mountain on red and white background.
The mountains of Vuorilas are rough and impenetrable. For many generations human pioneers felt intimidated by the danger of the peaks and they did not even try to explore them. This changed over four hundred years ago, when the family of Ürtis decided to make the climb after a shared prophetic dream. In this dream Vainamoinen and Ilmarinen dueled on the rocky edge of a burning mountain. Swords clash and the rasps of metal were deafening. At many points it seemed like the duel could go either way, but Ilmarinen finally managed to defeat the hero, smiting him into the fiery depths. After this dream, which all members of the family seemed to have, they went to see their jarl and requested the mountains themselves. The jarl, uninterested in further expanding his people into treacherous territory, agreed on the condition that Ürtis would guard his own land and provide assistance to Kesma when needed.
The Ürtis named themselves rulers of the mountains and since then the steep cliffs, called the King’s Wall, form the border between their realm and Kesma. Unlike the other jarls, the King of mountains hardly ever makes appearances at meetings, instead he relies on his sons to represent his interests. All clans currently inhabiting Vuorilas can trace their heritage back to Ürtis and his kin, although many lines have become even more muddled with dwarf and orc blood. Only the sons of Ürtis are allowed to lead clans, so many keep detailed records of their heritage. Many of the mountain folk follow a mix of the rules of old Gamle and the Wegge.
The land between the mountains is dangerous. Avalanches plague travelers and icy winds shred the leaves of the trees. A large populations of orcs and goblins still live in the caverns under the peaks, as well as ferocious bands of giants and trolls. Vuorilas knows no traditional farms, the area is too hostile to support them. Instead families inhabit traditional dwarven fortress homes, close to, and in the mountains. From their fortresses, that also serve and homes and workshops, man and dwarf mine the granite walls together. People only leave their home for good reasons and never without protection. Every home is dependent on itself for protection. Caravans to, and from, Kesma have to be well guarded. These traders make appealing targets for bandits and slavers. In Vuorilas a man is judged on physical strength and cunning. Because of their inside knowledge into the mind of orcs and their famous battle prowess half-orc mercenaries are in high demand. Heritage is somewhat of an obsession to most clan chiefs though and one can only get so high up the food chain without being kin. Currently a single heir of Ürtis calls himself the King of the mountain, while a hand full of kin pay fealty and lead clans of their own.
The inhabitants of Vuorilas have found immense riches in the mountains, but the earth does not give up its wealth easily. When pioneers and dwarves came to Kesma in the past, the orcs and goblins were forced to move to safety of the mountain passes where they mingled with the creatures that lived there. This means that all sorts of half-breeds and monsters hide in the desolation of the Giants Mountains. Attacks of both giants and trolls unfortunately are still common. The White Mountains still remain largely unexplored and only very sparsely inhabited by common folk. It is said a blue magi warrior by the name of Kobishi rules a small orc kingdom with an iron fist.
In Vuorilas man worships The Father, Ukko, and The Mother, Ilamatar, as guardians of home and hearth. It is traditional for each home to have a stone chapel and having a household priest, especially one with powerful divine powers, is greatly coveted. Ilmarinen plays a special role in the history of the family of Ürtis as something of a guardian saint.
Places of interest
After ongoing problems with hobgoblin pirates between Waalderstal and Vuorihum the King decided to build a cliff top fortress to patrol the area more effectively. His oldest son, Kris, was appointed lord and protector of the sea. The boy does so with more dedication than is expected of him; he sends his men out into the sea late at night and keeps expending his army of kuo-toa warriors. It is whispered, that prisoners are treated with nothing but contempt and they are often killed brutally as entertainment for the troops. There are rumors that the dungeons under the castle are full of torture devices and inhumane prisons. The pirate attacks have mostly been stopped, but at what price?
The Gaping Gully
A notorious passing between the hobgoblin empire and the reams of men. In ages past the gorge was often used by hobgoblin raiders to attack Kesma, until the jarls build a fortress at the entrance. Through the years the attacks seized and the fortress was eventually abandoned. The ground here is strangely barren and the terrain hostile. The rusted ruins howl on stormy nights and only ghosts remain here.
The King’s Wall
A steep cliff that separated the Giant Mountains ans Kesma. The family of Ürtis have named it the King’s Wall in their own honor, to celebrate their role of protectors of the realms of men. These days the wall remains mostly unguarded, however, as the family lacks the resources to patrol it.
The White Fort
This fortress fortress of white marble is the military pride of Vuorilas. It has been constructed over the course of almost two hundred years by generations of the Ürtis family. It was one of the most costly and time consuming projects man has ever undertaken. The King and his relatives often stay here during the summer months and sometimes sail the Knife to Waalderstal.
The White Peaks
The tops of these great peaks are capped with eternal snow. The area is vast and treacherous, with steep slopes and regular avalanches. It is rumored that strange creatures inhabit the mountains and that the King pays them a yearly tribute. Legends even exist of a kingdom lead by a white dragon queen.