Ulek, Principality of
Proper Name: Principality of Ulek
Ruler: His Serene Highness, Prince Olinstaad Corond of Ulek, Lord of the Peaks of Haven (LG male dwarf Rog12/Ftr3)
Government: Independent feudal monarchy with hereditary rulership, in which the royal and noble houses are all dwarven; royal family (House Corond) owns Gryrax and closely administers affairs of the realm, including some internal affairs of the noble realms
Major Towns: Eastpass (pop. 15,500), Gryrax (pop. 27,300), Havenhill (pop. 32,100), Thunderstrike (pop. 17,400)
Provinces: Twelve provinces, five of which (in east) are currently occupied by Pomarj forces; nobles in charge of provinces have various titles (count, duke, baron, etc.), but fiefs are all called “provinces” nonetheless
Resources: Foodstuffs, silver, gems (II-IV)
Coinage: High crown (pp), forge (gp), anvil (ep), hammer (sp), common (cp)
Population: 538,400—Human 53% (SO), Dwarf 30% (hill 65%, mountain 35%), Halfling 10% (stout 60%, lightfoot 40%), Elf 3%, Gnome 2%, Half-elf 1%, Other 1%
Languages: Common, Dwarven, Keolandish, Halfling, Gnome
Alignments: LG*, LN, N
Religions: Ulaa, dwarf pantheon, St. Cuthbert, Lydia, Phyton, Fharlanghn, Osprem, Ehlonna, Olidammara, Norebo
Allies: Ulek states, Keoland, Gran March, Verbobonc, Dyvers, Greyhawk, Knights of Luna, Knights of the Watch (weak), Celene (in theory, now hated for isolationism)
Enemies: Pomarj, Iuz, Scarlet Brotherhood
Overview: The Principality of Ulek is the southernmost of the three independent Ulek States. It is likely the largest mixed dwarven and human realm in the Flanaess, and one of few that is both possessed and administered by the dwur themselves. The principality sits in the western Flanaess along the coast of the Azure Sea, bordered by Keoland to the west and the Pomarj peninsula to the east, between the Sheldomar and Jewel Rivers, respectively. Its northern border with the County of Ulek has traditionally been observed as the Old River, from its source at the southern tip of the Lortmil Mountains to where the river flows into the Sheldomar. Some logging has been conducted in the northeastern corner of the realm, where the Suss verges across the Jewel, but the most dominant feature of the principality is the broad set of lofty hills that dominate the central fastness of the realm, separating it into two distinct regions all the way south to the sea.
The Principality of Ulek is easily the most cosmopolitan of the three Ulek States. Its large and busy port at Gryrax is second only in size to the great cities of Gradsul and Irongate on the Azure Sea. It prospers tremendously from the trade that passes through its markets, including goods from as far north as Celene and the Duchy of Ulek. Traditionally dominated by nonhumans since ancient times, the Ulek states are notoriously provincial, but the prince and his court conducts foreign policy and engages in trade and commerce with his neighbors as would any human lord. Taken together, halflings and dwarves outnumber humanity in all of the provinces but the city of Gryrax. This breakdown carries over to the military forces of the realm, highlighted by the elite heavy dwarven infantry armed with battleaxes and dressed in adamantine chainmail. Halflings are used frequently as scouts and slingers. The principality maintains a strong naval presence on the Azure Sea to both patrol the southern coast and keep shipping lanes secure from pirates. These vessels are mostly crewed by humans in the service of the prince, but they are frequently staffed with dwarven marines of unusual discipline and courage.
Mining and metalwork are the primary industries of the Principality of Ulek, and competition with Irongate for supplying such goods to other nations in the Flanaess has been fierce for centuries. The dwarven-fashioned city of Havenhill, more than a day’s march north of Gryrax, is the center of this trade. The surrounding hills are honeycombed with warrens and deep excavations, with some dwarves still preferring these tunnels to the surface. Human farms and steadings are most common in the provinces west of the hills, especially as one approaches the eastern bank of the Sheldomar. The humans are primarily a Suel-Oeridian mix, like their brethren in Keoland. All citizens owe fealty to the prince, the hereditary lord of the realm who maintains a palace in the hills north of Gryrax.
History: Dwarves have lived in these hills since well before the Great Migrations a millennium ago. Treated as an extension of the legendary dwarven kingdoms of the Lortmils at their height, there has been a dwur prince in these foothills long before there ever was a human king in Niole Dra. These dwarven lords protected the wealth and resources of the southern Ulek hills for ages, establishing their lonely halls in the earth and interacting little with the native Flan who inhabited the flatlands. This remained true until the Suel and Oeridians came together in the central valleys to found Keoland. These newcomers treated well with the nonhumans at the fringes of their kingdom, reaching out to them in friendship and alliance. When the other Ulek states were incorporated as provinces of the expanding nation, the dwarven prince followed suit and founded a nation, accepting a seat in council in Niole Dra and settlers from Keoland to administer on behalf of the realm.
The principality and its lords dealt with its Keoish neighbor well, if somewhat indifferently, until the coronation of Prince Olinstaad Corond in 281 CY. This dynamic young lord of the dwur moved his capital from the ancient city of Havenhill to his birthplace south in the city of Gryrax. When Tavish I of Gradsul took the throne of Keoland in 286 CY, the dwarven prince found in the new king a like-minded individual. Within a handful of years, an alliance between the two sovereigns produced an invasion and conquering of the Pomarj, which was granted to Corond as a subfief to administer for the throne. From Olinstaad, Tavish gained the use of Ulek’s heavy elite infantry, which he employed in the southern campaign to annex the region between the Hool Marshes and Jeklea Bay; the latter eventually became the Hold of the Sea Princes. It was no secret that Prince Corond, alone among the Ulek lords, was an enthusiastic supporter of the Keoish throne and its imperial ambitions. When Corond refused to disavow the Wealsun Proclamation of Tavish II, his relationship with the other Ulek states soured. This state continued until the incompetence of Tavish’s successors forced him to acknowledge the collapse of the empire and withdraw his support.
After the Pomarj fell to the nonhumans in the aftermath of the Hateful Wars a few decades later, the prince made every effort to succor his former subjects and liegemen in the Pomarj. While he rescued thousands of refugees by engaging his eastern border across the Jewel River, he could not conquer and hold any of the old baronies of the Pomarj from the invaders for very long. A status quo developed over the last century, with the Principality of Ulek maintaining the frontline against the hosts of the Pomarj, receiving aid and support from its northern neighbors in the County of Ulek and Celene. The rise of Turrosh Mak upset that balance, and the Principality suffered the brunt of the attack when the half-orc and his forces crossed the Jewel and pushed back Corond’s forces nearly to the eastern edge of the hills, almost threatening Havenhill until the onslaught was stanched in 585 CY.
The prince has ruled for more than three centuries and is an aging but able sovereign. He has seen the rise and fall of Keoland’s brief empire and has survived the bloody Hateful Wars with the orcs of the Pomarj in the last century. The Orcish Empire of the Pomarj now holds a large portion of the open land to the east between the hills and the Jewel River. This ground is in active contention by the principality and is by no means conceded to the invaders, but Prince Corond has been desperate for an edge to help him defeat the orcs and goblins of the Pomarj. In 586 CY, an alliance with the Knights of Luna produced a counteroffensive that recovered some of this land.
It is rumored that Corond recently reached out to the Lordship of the Isles for assistance in the form of trade, which great consternation in Gradsul and Irongate. Ships flying the colors of the Lordship of the Isles visited Gryrax during most of 591 CY; such trade is expected to greatly increase this year.
Conflicts and Intrigues: An ambassador from the Lordship of the Isles counsels peace with Turrosh Mak, but no one listens. The prince asked Greyhawk and Keoland for help in the current war effort; he also sent parties into the Suss Forest to uncover the reason for Turrosh Mak’s recent obsession with the region. Some humans in the western lowlands wish to rejoin Keoland.