One of the Palatinates, a group of Ustalavic counties no longer ruled by their hereditary noble families, Canterwall is renowned as the “breadbasket of Ustalav”, providing practically half the food of the nation.
Canterwall lies in the west of Ustalav abutting the Hold of Belkzen on its western border; to its south lies the prison county of Virlych; to the east are the two Soivoda counties of Ardeal and Amaans; finally, to the north, is Canterwall’s Palatine ally of Lozeri.
Threats to Canterwall
Despite the fertile nature of its farmlands, Canterwall is far from an idyllic place, as its borders are threatened by powerful enemies. To the west of Canterwall lie the hostile lands of the Hold of Belkzen, teaming with orcs hungry for slaughter and pillage. More recently (in the broadest sense of the word since it has been there since 3828 AR) the creation of Virlych, a haunted wasteland surrounding the Whispering Tyrant’s prison, to the south has created another dire threat. The only reason Virlych is not a bigger threat to Canterwall is that it is regularly patrolled by brave knights from Lastwall who patrol the area to ensure the Whispering Tyrant does not return. As if these perils were not enough, recently several hamlets in south-western Canterwall have been discovered with all their inhabitants missing, the villages were found with no obvious signs of struggle and no clues to the inhabitants’ location; it is almost as if they had been swallowed up by the mists that often sweep across the land.
In the early decades of the 41st century AR, the county of Canterwall was known as Tamrivena, and was in a precarious situation. Ustalav had only been freed from the Whispering Tyrant’s control in 3828 AR, and Tamrivena was still in the process of recovering from over 600 years of abject enslavement. The orcs of the nearby Hold of Belkzen sensed the county’s frailty and conducted numerous cross-border raids in that time. They were driven back by the tactical cunning of Tamrivena’s rulers and the strong bows and axes of its rangers time after time.
This changed with the ascension of Count Andachi. Knowing he did not have his ancestors’ genius for warfare, he pleaded with the Ustalavic court for help, but his requests were mired in endless bureaucracy. Mile by mile, the orc forces pushed further into Tamrivena, and even the Count’s pleas to Desna went unanswered. In desperation, he turned to a darker patron; he pleaded with Zon-Kuthon for aid.
The Dark Prince heard his prayers, and sent the mercenary Kazavon, who quickly reorganized Tamrivena’s army, brutally training them to be ruthless and efficient. Kazavon led the army across the border and massacred the disorganized orc hordes. By 4043 AR, the enemy had been driven off Tamrivena’s land, retreating into the foothills of the Kodar Mountains. It was then that Kazavon revealed his true intentions: instead of returning to Ustalav, he built a stronghold at Castle Scarwall and began to gather forces of his own. When Count Andachi realized Kazavon’s cruelty and lust for power, he turned against the general, raising an army and marching against Castle Scarwall. The Count was easily defeated and publicly executed. Kazavon expanded his realm and ruled with terror and war for over a decade, until he was destroyed by an army led by the Lastwall hero Mandraivus.
The first of the Ustalavic counties to overthrow autocratic rule was Lozeri, in 4670 AR, in a relatively non-violent coup. The ruler of all Ustalav at that time, Prince Valislav Ordranti, was disinterested by this political manoeuvre and quickly recognized the new arrangement in Lozeri. Shortly thereafter, the two counties of Vieland and Tamrivena followed suit, the latter county re-established itself and changed its name to Canterwall. These three counties became known as the Palatinates. In the case of Tamrivena, the reliance of the whole of Ustalav on its food production was considered a major reason for the crown not contesting its political reformation as Canterwall.
The county town of Tamrivena is located in the western Ustalavic county of Canterwall, one of the Palatinates, in close proximity to the unsettling Shudderwood. The county of Tamrivena was one of the first to declare its independence from traditional rule after nearby Lozeri did so in 4670 AR, replacing its hereditary ruler with a Palatine Council in a bloodless coup and changing its name to Canterwall.
Flourishing while dozens of similar
communities have died and rotted away around it, the quaint
village of Ravengro stands as a testament to the persistence
and determination of Canterwall’s people. Nearby squats the
ruins of Harrowstone prison, a penitentiary where guards
and prisoners alike were consumed in an uprising’s f lames,
and tales say none rest quietly.
The Hamlet Azurie is a small farming community but bosts a couple of inns and taverns for travelers heading along the Old Mountain Road.
Women outnumber men 10 to 1 in the
lavender-festooned town of Marian Leigh. Grown around
the lush garden estate of Lady Urora Demerrval, a dowager
who’s survived nine husbands, the community prides itself
on being one of the most pleasant in the country, largely due
to its homogenous population. While men are not forbidden
in Marian Leigh, more than one passing lothario or quicktongued
chauvinist has disappeared amid the community’s
garden mazes and greenhouses.
Sites of Interest
Lake Lias is a huge lake to the north of the town of Ravengro in the west of the county of Canterwall in Ustalav; it is one of the sources of the Vistear River. Lake Lias is referred to locally as ‘The Great Blue Dot’ and fish is taken from the lake to supplement local diets; however, there is no major fishing industry supported by the lake.
The Saffron House is located within the murky Sclerain Swamp in eastern Canterwall, one of the counties of Ustalav. There is something wrong about this haunted and abandoned manor house: it is claustrophobic inside, the furniture is mouldy and there are noises from within the walls. Even stranger is a repulsive yellowing on every surface. Not many know of this house and fewer understand its blighted nature.
Clover’s Crossing was a thriving village in the north of the Ustalavic province of Canterwall until it was overrun by a large numbers of ghouls who rose up out the local church’s graveyard. Today, Clover’s Crossing is a ghost town that few willingly agree to enter.
Castle Andachi is one of only two defensible positions on the Bleakwall that separates the Ustalavic county of Canterwall from the orcish Hold of Belkzen. It is located west of Lake Lias in the southern foothills of the Tusk Mountains. The castle is presumably named after Count Andachi of Tamrivena who led a successful defense of Ustalav in the 41st century AR, before being betrayed by his head general, Kazavon. Castle Andachi is avoided by all, as it is known to be the lair of powerful creatures or haunts.
The remnants of ages of war and destruction,
an uneven wall of stones and fallen fortresses spans the
roughly 90-mile border between Ustalav and Belkzen.
Formed from the scattered barricades and bulwarks
of felled fortresses, the expanse is a wall in name only,
generally rising no more than 2 to 4 feet high and
sometimes breaking for spans of a quarter-mile or more.
While a scattered number of surviving turrets still
occasionally serve as watch posts for the county’s militia,
only the brooding ruins of Tower Valballus and Castle
Andachi bear enough of their original architecture to
be identifiable as the citadels they once were. Even these
fastnesses are shunned, though, as tales tell of creatures
worse than orcs lurking amid the shattered stones.
Tower Valballus is one of only two truly defensible positions on the Bleakwall in the Ustalavic province of Canterwall on the border with the Hold of Belkzen. It is avoided by both the militia of Canterwall and the orcs of Belkzen, as it is known to be the haunt of dangerous creatures.