Campaign of the Month: September 2013
Kingdom of Ustrect
Centuries before the Scourge, the trolls who would found the kingdom of Ustrect came south from the Scol Mountains and settled in a lush valley near the Twilight Peaks. Legend says that the founders of Ustrect were forced into exile after a schism, but the details – indeed, the intire truth of this tale – have been lost to time along with Ustrect itself. Some scholars sugges that the Firescale moot of the Scol Mountains might shed some light on this chapter of troll history, but the Firescales remain closemouthed.
As highland trolls, the founders of Ustrect shared a love of struggle with their crystal raider kindred, and fought many battles against the troll clans of the Twilight Peaks in the first years of building their new home. The settlers repelled the raiders with such skill and ferocity that they earned the crystal raiders’ respect, and ceased to be frequent raiding targets. The settlements prospered, and soon the rich farmland began to attract lowland trolls and other Name-givers to the safe haven they had carved out of what was once prime highland troll raiding territory.
As the years passed and the trolls of Ustrect became more used to settled life, they gave up many of their highland ways in favor of the gentler and more refined manners of the other Name-giver races. They built huge structures of stone and earth, and over time their humble villages grew into a kingdom that they Named Ustrect, meaning “united.” Ustrect’s most impressive city, built (so legends say) “ten generations after our fathers and mothers came to the green lands,” owed some of its grandeur to dwarf as well as troll influence. The city of Arrakal abounded in stone buildings whose workmanship was said to rival the finest structures of Throal. Throalic records and fragments of historical documents recovered from ancient Landis indicate that many dwarf miners and stonemasons lived in Arrakal and contributed greatly to the building of it.
The kingdom saw hard times during the Orichalcum Wars, and the preparation of shelters against the Scourge further drained its resources. Most of Ustrect’s people copied the trolls of the Twilight Peaks and sought shelter in kaers dug deep into mountain rock. The folks of Arrakal, however, could not bear to leave their beautiful city to be ravaged by Horrors, and so built a citadel like the ones they had heard of in Travar and Kratas for protection. Most of Ustrect’s citizens took shelter beneath the citadel’s dome; those from the fringes of the kingdom, or who simply saw greater security in sturdy-looking mountain caves, went to the Twilight Peaks, where the crystal raider moots took some of them in.
Neither Arrakal nor Ustrect survived the Scourge. Though no one knows precisely when, the Horrors breached Ustrect’s citadel and feasted on the city’s inhabitants like a hawk cracking open a shellfish to devour its succulent contents. By the time the crystal raider kaers reopened to the outside world, the Kingdom of Ustrect was long dead – nothing left of it but shattered streets and crumbling walls.
Since the Scourge’s end, a thick forest has grown to reclaim the vale where Ustrect once stood. The crystal raiders Named the woodland the Shroud of Ustrect, saying that Jaspree had covered the ruins and bleached bones with greenery to hide the damage done by the Horrors. Though the thick growth covers most of the ruins, travelers in the region occasionally glimpse a stone wall or tower, cracked and covered with moss, poking up above the trees.
Troll legends say the ruins of Ustrect still hold the ancient kingdom’s treasures. Many of Ustrect’s people were skilled miners and craftsmen, and the ruins are said to hold countless artifacts of precious metals, living crystal, orichalcum and other valuables. The crystal raiders, however, refuse to take so much as a silver coin from Ustrect land. They believe the Horrors cursed the ruins, and that to take from the dead brings the curse upon the taker as well as dishonoring him. Others who have ventured into the ruins of Ustrect tell tales of broken buildings whose stone and living-crystal walls loom over the underbrush, and streets of cracked cobblestone overgrown with moss and ground ivy. Numerous forest predators are said to make meals of the unlucky, and whispered rumors abound that some Horrors and their constructs still dwell in the shadowed corners of blighted Arrakal.