Prior to the Ascendant Age, Upper Metsar consisted of disparate clans endlessly warring amongst themselves. Then came a man named Shimosh Rosequartz, whose heroic example inspired a generation of noble warriors to unite and end the bloodshed. In a time of valor and chivalry, the character of the land was carved out by knights in shining steel. This was the birth of Huel Vor, the largest kingdom in Orn.
The people of Upper Metsar remain driven by that same spirit of heroism to this day. Young knight errants set out into the countryside to prove their mettle, bring honor to their family names, and earn their ancestral swords. Even the nobility exalt skill at arms, and knightly tournaments are commonplace. They are proud and simple folk, defined by deep family ties and love of gallantry. As such, they tend to be welcoming toward any adventurer with a story to tell.
Like its sister to the south, the common tongue of Upper Metsar is Tceril, and most citizens of Huel Vor speak Cirth fluently as well. Velysh is commonly heard in the lowlands, particularly among the fae, and is the primary language of the Moheragh. The halflings of Meadowcroft speak Durnamn out of custom, though it is no longer as prominent as it once was. The people of Sterkfontein speak the Mjorlin dialect along side Tceril and Cirth, while many of their savage cousins speak only Mjorlin.
Most of the citizens of Huel Vor are human. Fae are common in the lowlands, and are among the few non-sylvan races welcome in the Moheragh. Ferals and cambions are common within the Mjorlin clans, who often treat with dark powers. Golems are sometimes employed by the Knights of the Crystal Fist to guard important locations. Halflings are the dominant race in Meadowcroft.
The realms of Upper Metsar are roughly divided into four political units. To the south is the kingdom of Huel Vor. The current king in Gallant Hall, Ulgre Enajin, rules from Sterkfontein to Tanfield Lea. Huel Vor is further divided by the Stohilt mountain range into the highlands of the east and the lowlands of the west. Perpetual economic and political inequity between the two halves has laid generations of hatred between the highlanders and lowlanders.
The sylvan realm of the Moheragh (“Motherwood”) lies to the northwest. An ancient custom dictates that the king and lords of Huel Vor retain Moheragh druids as advisors, but the elves otherwise keep jealous watch over their borders and maintain little interaction with outsiders.
To the northeast lies the untamed territory of the Mjorlin clans. A barbaric people, they harken back to an age of lawlessness before the coming of Lemesin and maintain no rule of law. Beasts, giants, and raiders roam these lands largely unchecked, making them hazardous for travelers. The armies of Huel Vor and the Moheragh both stand vigilant should the barbarians amass in force.
Most citizens of Upper Metsar revere Lemesin as the mortal hero who united the clans under his banner, delivered the realm from darkness, and ascended to immortality. The fae of the lowlands and sylvan of the Moheragh exalt Antasia and Ferithisia. Meadowcroft, with its population of mostly halflings, is the largest concentration of Drelani followers in Orn. Many Mjorlin pay homage to Dhuroscht or Maledreck, or else give tribute to powerful monsters in exchange for protection. In either case, they are known for offering captives abducted in raids as sacrifices to their dark masters.
- Dmanisi - The city of Dmanisi is famed for inks, dyes, and textiles. Dmanisian clothing sells for handsome prices as far away as Sardia and Varalon, though crime in the lowlands reduces what should be a kingly enterprise to a simple living.
- Huel Vor - Huel Vor is the seat of the Rosequartz throne, where the mortal descendants of Shimosh rule to this day. It commands the full might of the royal military, which charges itself with maintaining the laws of the realm. It is also served by the Knight of the Crystal Fist, an order of paladins dedicated to the eradication of fiends and their ilk.
- Klasies - One of the three great sylvan cities, Klasies lies at the heart of the Moheragh, a vast expanse of virgin wilderness that stretches from the western shores to the Scohilt Mountains. The residents of Klasies are distrustful to the point of being xenophobic, seeking to preserve the sanctity of their lands against barbarians, giants, and men alike.
- Meadowcroft - Once ravaged by the firestorm of Drathenix’s birth, Meadowcroft has recovered to become the largest halfling city in all of Orn. The vast plains surrounding the city are home to peaceful farmlands and the smallfolk are friendly and welcoming.
- Nashiro - Built on the Festering Fork marshlands, Nashiro is a lowland city famous for killing its politicians. A poor economy contributes to high crime, which contributes to distrust of highland officials, which exacerbates the economy in a vicious cycle. Every few years, new nobles arrive from Huel Vor with intent to improve conditions in the area, but they all suffer mishaps or go missing before long.
- Sendai - High atop the bluffs of Plaguy Bay, Sendai stands as the center of commerce in the highlands. Trade flows down the river Deglas Kes (“Tears of the Mountain”), west through the mountain passes, and through the port at the base of the cliffs. This makes Sendai a melting pot of many cultures and a common first stop for travelers entering the region.
- Stanwick - The city of Stanwick is the only known trading partner of Klasies, and as such is known to deal in the finest of sylvan crafts. Goods are shipped back and forth along the river, though few human merchants ever see their elvish patrons.
- Sterkfontein - Sterkfontein represents the last bastion of civilization before the northern territory of the Mjorlin clans. The clans who bent their knee to Shimosh dwell in Sterkfontein and act as a buffer between their savage cousins and the rest of the highlands.
- Tanfield Lea - Tanfield Lea is a common port of call for ships passing through the Straits of Metsar. It is said that, on clear nights, the great lighthouse of Tanfield Lea can be seen from the eastern side of the straits.
- Bothuar Ceatha - An old fae legend tells of the "Rainbow Way," a domain of the Near Prime that granted safe haven and swift travel to the fair folk throughout Upper Metsar. The stories say it was lost when a bard tricked the fairy queen into allowing him passage. No sooner did he set foot on the Way than it became twisted into chaos. Some claim to have accidentally entered Bothuar Ceatha through clover patches only to become lost and end up vast distances from where they started.
- Ciorcals - Scattered throughout Upper Metsar are ancient circles of stone statues depicting robed figures with otherwise indistinguishable characteristics. These “ciorcals” are thought to date back to the Dawning when they served as primitive shrines for mortals to venerate immortals. The elves of the Moheragh have been known to conduct ceremonies at these sites, though none can say to what end.
- Beggar’s Court - Hidden in the woods north of Nashiro is a camp of bandits led by the mysterious Beggar King and his lieutenants. They prey upon travelers coming through the mountains, giving the main road the moniker “Traitor’s Pass.” They are especially fond of robbing from wealthy merchants and aristocrats, though they’ll steal from anyone in order to feed the poor in their charge. Consequently, it’s always easy to find a fresh wanted poster offering rich rewards for the head of the Beggar King.
- Deglas Muur - During the savage times before the coming of Shimosh, the Domolhaar clan of Mjorlin raiders ruled much of Upper Metsar. They claimed a keep in the mountains west of present-day Huel Vor as their capital, naming it Deglas Muur, the Crown of the Mountain. Then a bleak winter came and the Domolhaar, snowed in and spurned by their neighbors, starved to death. To this day it remains haunted by hungry specters, and many superstitions persist around warding off their vengeance.
- Flesh Forging - Before Lemesin ascended, he was a mortal who pitted himself against insurmountable foes. One fateful battle deprived him of an arm and an eye. Beyond the aid of healing magic but unwilling to give up the fight, he assembled all of the mages and theurges in his service and tasked them with crafting replacements. Thus was the art of flesh forging born. The practice is expensive and known to induce madness in some. All the same, it is not uncommon to see warriors or soldiers sporting magically animated prosthetics made of wood, stone, steel, or more exotic materials, such as ivory or, like Shimosh himself, crystal.
- Ol’ Da - The sailors of Sendai tell tales of a giant lurknen who dwells in the depths of Plaguy Bay. They say he only comes out at night, that his whiskers are the size of tall trees, and that he feeds once every 13 years by swallowing a ship whole. Of course, few have ever seen him, so his existence is a matter of some debate.
- Owi Uldros - The ancient dwarven fatherland of Owi Uldros once flourished in the southern Scohilt mountain range. The smallfolk were known for their prosperity and generosity, dwelling beneath the sky as other races in those times. An invasion of giants spelled the end of the kingdom and drove the dwarves into their mines, where they beseeched Espidrel for aid. The Mason of the Mountains carved a tunnel that led them to safety and named the dwarves his children. They have dwelt in the safety of the earth ever since, and consider it taboo to speak of their fallen homeland or its ruined fortresses, which now serve as strongholds for giants.
- Womb of Fire - During the Shattering, the Great Dragons Thrinik and Maledreck appeared in the plains south of Meadowcroft and waged terrible battle with one another. The resulting earthquakes and wildfires ravaged the countryside as far away as Sendai, only ending when the two dragons joined to form Drathenix. Though much of the destruction has faded with time, the area is still known as the Womb of Fire.
- “Falling on your father’s sword” - An expression used to describe an arrogant or foolhardy act based on family reputation. For instance, the son of a famous knight picking a fight he can’t win would be “falling on his father’s sword.”
- “Giant’s Milk” - An alcoholic beverage made from fermented pepper juice, favored by the Mjorlin. The name is derived from a local legend, which states that giants become ill-tempered as babies because giant's milk tastes like the beverage.
- “Lurkhabben” - Also called "lurk stew" or "lurk porridge," Lurkhabben is a dish made from boiled oats, vegetables, and lurknen, a type of large, carnivorous catfish native to the seas around Upper Metsar. It is notable for the thick layer of lumpy gray grease that forms on top of it from fatty meat of the lurknen. Many traditional cooks prefer to include the bones of the fish in the stew, and may even put them in the bowls when it is served.
- “Scars for sale” - A highlander expression used to indicate a person who is especially bloodthirsty or battle-hardened.
- “Share the first sip, leave the last bite” - Often shortened to “share the first, leave the last,” this statement refers to spilling a bit of your cup before drinking and leaving the last bite of food uneaten to appease the spirits of the Domolhaar. Those who fail to honor this superstition are thought to invite bad crops, spoiled food, and worse upon themselves and their family.