The Hero's of Kassen
Lastwall, Watchful Border Kingdom
Nearly a thousand years ago, Taldor launched the Shining Crusade against Tar-Baphon, the Whispering Tyrant, who unified the savage tribes of Belkzen and ruled central Avistan for five centuries from his doom-shrouded, haunted domain of Ustalav. From all provinces of the empire the crusaders assembled, dedicated to destroying the witch-king and his minions. Commandeering the Ustalavan town of Vellumis, the forces of Taldor, aided by the dwarven kingdom of Kraggodan and the Knights of Ozem, spent 26 brutal years hacking their way to the lich’s capitol of Gallowspire. Just outside the rotting city, the Shining Crusade met the forces of the Whispering Tyrant in a final titanic battle, achieving victory when the Taldoran General Arnisant sacrificed himself to imprison Tar-Baphon beneath his own tower at the evil city’s heart.
With the Shining Crusade victorious at last, Taldor decided in 3828 to create a permanent presence to watch over the lich’s prison in Gallowspire’s haunted ruins. This province it named Lastwall, bulwark against the greatest evil mankind had ever known. When Cheliax later broke away from Taldor, Lastwall declared its neutrality, citing the need to maintain its sacred duty free from political concerns. Cheliax quickly agreed while Taldor protested, but the crippled empire lacked the power to prevent its distant province from severing official ties and becoming an independent nation.
Over the last 700 years, Lastwall has stood guard against Belkzen’s savage hordes and the deathless horrors lurking in Ustalav. The fiercest action faced by Lastwall’s defenders is typically found in the battle-plains on the Belkzen frontier, but patrols venture monthly beyond the Hungry Mountains to inspect the ruins of Gallowspire. Dismissed by some younger crusaders as merely ceremonial, this mission resonates with veterans as the heart of Lastwall’s very reason to exist. Crusader doctrine is that the troubles with Belkzen are simply the residue of the malice and menace of the Whispering Tyrant, and to ensure the seals on his prison remain inviolate is the uppermost duty of every crusader.
Lastwall enjoys good relations with Nirmathas, its newly formed southern neighbor, although it has found the Nirmathi unreliable, undisciplined allies, easily distracted and apt to disobey orders. Some in Lastwall would prefer to recruit Molthuni allies, but they cannot afford to arouse the ire of Nirmathi partisans along their otherwise secure southern border. Relations are cordial with the other nations around Lake Encarthan. Lastwall keeps a cautious eye upon the mad theocrat of Razmiran, not wanting the seditious priests of the so-called “Living God” meddling in Lastwall’s hinterlands while its defenders’ eyes are focused on the battlefront. Relations with Kyonin are civil but cool, as the elves have refused annual entreaties to aid in what Lastwall views as its defense of the entire region.
Lastwall’s people are a hardy folk. Although they live in the shadow of great evils, they are warm and friendly to outsiders, especially those who have come to help hold the line. In recent years, the number of knights-errant and glory seekers visiting Lastwall has greatly diminished, due in large part to the call to arms in Mendev against the teeming hordes of demons that infest the World wound. Many in Vigil grow concerned that they might not have the strength to hold off the orcs of Belkzen for too much longer if this trend continues. Nevertheless, the newly anointed Watcher- Lord Ulthun II has great ambitions toward securing or even expanding the borders. Having already demonstrated valor on the battlefield and vision and drive in leadership at just 19 years of age, the line of suitors for his hand often stretches well outside Castle Overwatch in Vigil.
The onslaught of Lastwall’s heavy cavalry is legendary. Its impact has broken many an enemy line with the combination of its splendidly trained mounts and riders’ skill in maneuvering horses in very close formation, like an onrushing tide of hooves and steel. Oftentimes, a contingent of heavy cavalry need only appear at a battlefield in order to turn a battle in Lastwall’s favor. The last major heavy cavalry charge conducted by Lastwall occurred against the orcish Warlord Graukrad in 4695, when 173 knights rode down and routed an orcish force estimated at more than 2,000 infantry.
The Inner Sea: Lastwall combination of its splendidly trained mounts and riders’ skill in maneuvering horses in very close formation, like an onrushing tide of hooves and steel. Oftentimes, a contingent of heavy cavalry need only appear at a battlefield in order to turn a battle in Lastwall’s favor. The last major heavy cavalry charge conducted by Lastwall occurred against the orcish Warlord Graukrad in 4695, when 173 knights rode down and routed an orcish force estimated at more than 2,000 infantry.
Government: The Watcher-Lord is appointed by the Precentors Martial of the War College. Age and experience are less important in selection than proven skill at arms, purity of heart, clarity of mind, and the embodiment of the crusader ideal. The Watcher-Lord stands first among equals in command councils, taking advice but with final decision-making authority. Since nearly every aspect of life in Lastwall pertains to the prosecution and upkeep of the Crusade, the Watcher- Lord’s authority is theoretically absolute, but tyranny has never been an issue. Watcher-Lords are chosen carefully and are never so arrogant that they fail to understand the need to delegate and work together for the greater good.
Vigil: The aptly named Vigil is the seat of the Watcher-Lord. The high spires of Castle Overwatch afford a commanding view of the blood-soaked westward plains on the Belkzen frontier, as well as the mist-shrouded highlands of Ustalav to the north. The horsemasters of Vigil breed and train the mighty destriers and swift coursers that bear Lastwall’s finest into battle, and the pastures around Vigil are known for the quality of their bloodlines. Vigil also hosts the Crusader War College, where crusader tacticians have worked to best marshal magical and military resources to defeat their numerically superior enemies.
Castle Firrine: Not so much a town as a heavily fortified mustering station and supply depot, Castle Firrine stands sentinel in the midst of the battle zone. Here, the Hospitalers of Iomedae tend the wounds of recovering soldiers as well as mounts and beasts of burden, while expert artisans and engineers repair equipment and materiel of all kinds. The Battlemasters of Gorum rouse the fighting ardor of the crusaders, although they have felt considerable consternation at the recent appearance of large numbers of Gorumite warpriests among the half-orc legions across the battlefield.
Vellumis: The oldest and largest city in Lastwall, Vellumis is a scenic port, with many buildings marble-clad, domed, and colonnaded in the once-popular Chelaxian Old White style (characterized by whitewashed walls, ornately decorated eaves, and massive arched windows). It serves both as the point of entry for goods and soldiers making their way to the front lines and also hosts all foreign embassies and diplomats, in an effort by Lastwall to keep potential spies far from the front.
The Shattered Shield of Arnisant
During the battle between the Whispering Tyrant and General Arnisant, the lich unleashed terrible magic at the outnumbered mortal army. Despite the lich’s power, Arnisant was protected from the onslaught by his magical shield, an artifact known as the Shield of Aroden. When the general and lich finally faced off, the Whispering Tyrant attempted to use a wish to summon Arnisant’s heart to his waiting claws. The Shield of Aroden prevented this dire fate and instead shattered into a dozen fragments, one of which appeared in Tar Baphon’s hand, fusing with the undead flesh and burning the lich with holy f ire. When the f lames subsided, the crippled lich was soon locked away in the dungeons beneath Gallowspire, there to rot for all eternity. The Shield of Aroden lost all of its power. Its broken remnants have been passed down from watcher-lord to watcher-lord without fail. Some say that should the Whispering Tyrant ever become free, the missing piece of the shield would have to be recovered from his bony claw for the fiend to truly be defeated.