Ulek, County of
Proper Name: County Palatine of Ulek
Ruler: His Noble Mercy, Lewenn, Count Palatine of Ulek, Archdruid (N male human Drd13 of Berei)
Government: Hereditary feudal monarchy; count must be member of druidic hierarchy and fulfill ritual requirements unique to this county
Major Towns: Jurnre (pop. 13,100), Kewlbanks (pop. 10,900), Courwood (pop. 7,800)
Provinces: Various human and nonhuman viscounties, baronies, townships, etc.
Resources: Foodstuffs, copper, silver, gems (I-II)
Coinage: Goldsun (gp), mirrorpool (ep), silvermoon (sp), coppercask (cp)
Population: 370,000—Human 79% (OFS), Gnome 8%, Halfling 6% (lightfoot 45%, stout 30%, tallfellow 25%), Elf 3%, Dwarf 2%, Half-elf 1%, Half-orc 1%
Languages: Common, Gnome, Keolandish, Halfling
Alignments: N*, LN, CN, LG, CG
Religions: Berei, Beory, Ehlonna, Obad-Hai
Allies: Ulek states, Keoland, Gran March, Verbobonc, Dyvers, Greyhawk, Knights of Luna, Celene (in theory), Knights of the Watch (weak), druidic circles (particularly in the Sheldomar Valley)
Enemies: Pomarj, Iuz
Overview: The mid-most of the three Ulek States, the county is separated from the duchy to the north by the Kewl River, while the Old River to the south forms the border with the principality. The eastern limit of the county is marked by the Handmaiden River, beginning several leagues north of Courwood, continuing through the Suss until it joins the Jewel River, and another 20 leagues beyond. The county has retained its territory in the Lortmils, due primarily to the staunch efforts of the Suss Rangers and mountaineers who protect the forested eastern highlands.
The county’s defenders are organized into racially separate companies. Medium and light cavalry units are made up of humans wielding lance and sabre. The heavy infantry units of the western regions are human pikemen and billmen, supported by gnome and halfling slingers and archers. Gnomes and halflings also form their own companies of spearmen. In the eastern county are ranger-led mountaineers wielding axes, swords, and spears. These are on very good terms with the elves and half-elves of southern Celene.
Agriculture is the main occupation in the County of Ulek. Halfling and human farmers from the rolling countryside of the western and southern county provide grain to the mills of Keoland, while Gnome brewers and woodworkers produce goods for export as well as local consumption. The county benefits greatly from druidic oversight in all these areas, and the count himself is required to belong to the druidic hierarchy. The current count and his family belong to the faith of Berei, but many folk are devotees of Ehlonna and Obad-Hai. The nonhumans especially favor Ehlonna, but the county’s citizens are not given to conflicts based on faith or creed, caring more about their land and fellows than differing religious beliefs.
History: The County of Ulek has had a long history as one of the more peaceful lands in the Flanaess. The native Flan and halfling peoples were willing to accept Oeridian sovereignty in exchange for protection from the more rapacious Suel, then showed an equal willingness to accept Suloise of more amiable disposition. They came under the rule of Keoland in that state’s early history, though the county was always a distinct land with its own lord. The Old Faith (druidism), as practiced by the common folk throughout the central Flanaess, was the center of culture here. The sovereign was always a member of the druidic hierarchy, whose position was respected by both the human and nonhuman inhabitants of the county, regardless of the ruler’s race or patron deity.
The first count, Ursunn Kewl (who long ago followed the path of the Hierophant), established the tradition of using noncombative physical tests to determine fitness to rule, separately from combat determining druidic advancement. These were the Rigors of the Elements, performed by the count on a seasonal basis to determine the length of his term in office. Each of the Four Dwellings that Ursunn created could be entered only by surmounting the associated Rigor; from here the count reigned until the beginning of the next season. Even if the count were demoted in the druidic hierarchy by a stronger challenger, he would not be replaced in office so long as he could face the Rigors.
For many years the County of Ulek followed its own path, under the protection of the Keoish military. However, after a time, Keoland attempted to conquer more neighboring lands. The count, and his nobles of every race, decided to join with Celene and the other Uleks in rebellion against the Keoish imperialists. The Keoish strongholds were quickly demolished, and their surprised troops ejected from the county en mass. Not a blow was struck, though a number of commanders had to have charms dispelled when they arrived home in Keoland. Despite this action, the County of Ulek quickly came to terms with Keoland, this time as a truly independent state.
The Hateful Wars embroiled the county as they did all of the Ulek States. They provided support, primarily to the Principality of Ulek, of food and raw materials, while the druids of the county used their healing skills to assist each of their allies. All of this was done in memory of the fallen prince consort of Celene, whose life was lost in a narrow pass high in the Lortmils, called the Druid’s Defile. A company of rangers was even formed, dedicated to guarding the dangerous route between the Druid’s Defile and the small town of Courwood on the county’s eastern frontier, ever after in the name of Triserron of Celene.
The end of the Hateful Wars saw the county again at peace, a peace that lasted until the years of the Greyhawk Wars. The decision of the count to sign the Treaty of Niole Dra, committing county troops to war in the north, was based on the advice and persuasion of his old friend, the Duke of Ulek. The majority of the county’s standing force went with the combined armies to fight in defense of Furyondy, leaving the hills and highlands undefended. The rangers of the Suss and the eastern Lortmils were sufficient only for the defense of Courwood, which was bypassed by the main horde of nonhumans from the Pomarj. That horde was soon turned back in defeat, thanks to the valiance of a dwarf-led contingent of volunteers, but the nonhumans entrenched themselves in the Suss, where they remain to this day.
Though the Greyhawk Wars have ended, hostilities in the county’s eastern holdings have never ceased. Forces from the Principality of Ulek, and southern Celene, join with the rangers and mountaineers of the county in fighting their nonhuman foes from the Pomarj. The combined frontier forces of the Uleks thwarted an attempted invasion of Celene five years ago, thus regaining control of the western bank of the Jewel River within the Suss Forest. The rest of the county supports these actions, and all efforts made by the Principality of Ulek to regain its lost territories.
Conflicts and Intrigues: An upsurge of fighting against Pomarj forces in the Suss Forest has been reported. Count Lewenn was recently demoted in the Old Faith druidic hierarchy. A relief effort is underway for the Silverwood elves, who are suffering from a strange disease.