High King's Flame
Medwilard is a loosely organized kingdom comprised of mountainous keeps and a broad, but somewhat inhospitable plains region. The kings of Medwilard are from the mountains, but have secured the fealty of the nomadic clans who inhabit the plains. Medwilard’s mountains are extremely rich in precious metals and gemstones, but also exceedingly dangerous. There are several active volcanoes and the region is regularly shaken by earthquakes, mine collapses and the occasional eruption. The mountainous regions are also fairly wild, still crawling with orcs, goblins, and the rest once you get off the beaten path. Prospectors trying to find the next rich lode can also be deadly if they think their stakes are being encroached upon.
The Medwil king, Osric, is a first-among-equals kind of monarch, who controls the trade between Medwilard and the Empire and has been granted the power to adjudicate claims and grant mining rights to the various stakes. He isn’t elected, the position is hereditary, but the agreements between the Earls and the King limit his rights as well as theirs. It is to him that the nomadic clans swear their fealty, another contractual agreement made centuries ago, wherein the clans have fairly large autonomy in return for military service in defense of Medwilard. Of course, trade between the mountains and the plains is also beneficial to both.
Medwil cities sprang up around successful mines, and serve as a place for the miners to spend their money, house their families, and find work. Often times the mine entrances are right in the middle of the cities, which are usually fortified against attack from the non-humans and other foes. They are also the homes of the some of the best goldsmiths and jewelers in the Empire, who process and evaluate the hauls before shipping them down river. None of the cities are particularly large, three-to four thousand is about as big as things get. The few cities in the plains, are generally smaller.
Medwilard is fairly dependent on trade to support its mining communities. There is some farming and husbandry in the mountains (they eat a lot of goat and sheep), but they don’t have the capability to feed the numbers that they cram into the mines by themselves. Most of the trade comes upriver from Derg, sometimes from the plains directly. The major routes are well-known and protected by the King’s men, but bandits do try it—usually focusing on down-river traders who will be carrying the precious metals and gems. The plains-dwellers have some farmers but the majority of the people are herders who have few crafts or skills. They meet in temporary trade gatherings several times a year, where they seal marriage alliances, trade news, and etc.
Medwilard and Haargensbarg are openly hostile to one another—the Medwils were once part of the Haargensbarg dynasty but split in a centuries-old civil war. Medwils do not condone slavery in their mines, are not nearly as warlike, but are able in the defense of their lands. The plains-dwellers take the brunt of the aggression from Haargensbarg (one reason for their preference for nomadic ways) and serve in many ways as a buffer between the two mountain regions.
The Medwils of the mountains are mostly converted to the One God, as are many in the clans. Some clans stick with the older nature gods (Crom and the Mother), and little missionary work is done there. The Church in Medwilard is low-key, many of the priests work alongside the others in the mines and have taken to a shepherding role rather than one of dominance and power. That seems to be the way they like it there.
As for their relationship with the Empire, Medwilard was formed after the Empire was established, and received support from the Emperor against Haargensbarg, so there is no great feeling that they are being oppressed. They send what they need to send tax-wise, and militarily usually are on good relations with Derg, the nearest Imperial city. Since the interregnum, however, things have changed.
It is widely believed that Valerian Verendoux, the husband of Princess Eldorathe and accused murderer of Prince Rupert, fled to Medwilard. His sister, Therese Jarlsburg, who married Medwil Earl Wilhelm Jarsburg, is believed to hide him while he raises support among the outer Kingdoms for his revolt against Rupert Heimdalyn.