|Ruler||Watcher-Lord Ulthun II|
|Images of Lastwall|
Source: The Inner Sea World Guide, pg(s). 98
Lastwall was founded in the 39th century AR with a single purpose in mind: to keep watch over the prison of the Whispering Tyrant in Gallowspire just to the north. This ancient purpose still drives much of life in the nation today, as its inhabitants work to ensure that the lich and the other nearby evils will never menace the people of Avistan again.
The origins of the Shining Crusade began when the wizard-king Tar-Baphon rose as a lich in 3203 AR, and immediately began gathering both human and orc troops under his command. He spent the next five centuries consolidating his power and conquering much of central Avistan. Eventually the Empire of Taldor, then near the height of its power, had had enough and allied with the dwarves of Kraggodan and the Knights of Ozem to bring his reign of terror to an end. They spent the next 26 years fighting a bitter battle of attrition from their beachhead at the Ustalavic town of Vellumis, eventually reaching the lich's capital of Gallowspire in 3827 AR The crusaders defeated Tar-Baphon, but proved unable to kill him, and so magically imprisoned him beneath his own fortress of Gallowspire instead. The crusaders realized that Tar-Baphon's prison could not be left unguarded, since Tar-Baphon had already cheated death once before. His first defeat was brought about by the god Aroden himself in 896 AR. If even death at the hands of a god could not stop him forever, then leaving his prison unguarded seemed to be inviting trouble. The decision was made to keep a permanent presence in the region, and the crusaders claimed the entire region as their own, allowing them to keep a permanent watch over Gallowspire and creating the Taldan province of Lastwall.
The Orc Menace
Since the end of the Shining Crusade, Lastwall has stayed true to its purpose, standing guard against the undead horrors of Ustalav and the savage orc hordes from the Hold of Belkzen. Both are tenacious foes and require constant vigilance in order to contain them. The orcs in particular have proven particularly troublesome for the last 700 years, having pushed back the borders of Lastwall three times since its founding. The current border has held well due to an influx of money and troops from Lastwall's southern border. It is not as heavily fortified as the Sunwall, the first border with the orcs, Harchist's Blockade, the second defensive line, or even the ramshackle previous border, the Hordeline.
Apart from the near-constant fighting against its stated enemies foreign and domestic, the history of Lastwall has been relatively free of wars or external conflicts. It has remained neutral, refraining from getting involved in international politicking, and attempts to remain true to its founding aim of keeping watch over the Whispering Tyrant. An exception to this was during the reign of the evil warlord Kazavon, who led an army from Ustalav deep into orc territory and constructed the grim castle Scarwall in 4043 AR. Overjoyed at the arrival of a potential ally, Lastwall sent diplomats with tributes and overtures of friendship. Unfortunately, Kazavon was not interested in an alliance and flayed the emissaries alive. The inevitable conflict this sparked resulted in the Battle of Screaming Tree in addition to numerous other confrontations. Unable to defeat the tyrant in open battle, the Lastwall hero Mandraivus led a team into Scarwall in 4058 AR and slew Kazavon.
The only other major event in Lastwall's history was its split from its founding nation of Taldor during the Even-Tongued Conquest in 4081 AR. When Cheliax declared it was breaking with Taldor to found its own empire, Lastwall too broke with Taldor. Rather than becoming a part of the Chelaxian empire, it became an independent nation, declaring that it needed to be free of any political infighting to allow it to keep watch over Gallowspire. Cheliax agreed, and while Taldor objected, it did not have the military clout to enforce obedience. Even so, Taldor continued to provide vital funding and recruits to Lastwall.
Lastwall is governed by a single elected leader: the Watcher-Lord. The current Watcher-Lord is Ulthun II, a very young ruler only 26 years of age. Despite his youth, Ulthun II has already proven himself in battle. He is an ambitious leader who wants to secure and expand Lastwall's borders into the territory of its enemies in the Hold of Belkzen. Not only is Ulthun II a capable, talented young leader, but he is also an eligible bachelor with suitors swarming his castle in Vigil. Although his position gives Ulthun II absolute power, in practice he rarely exercises this, delegating authority and seeking good advice to help him rule as well as possible.
The power inherent in the position of Watcher-Lord creates the potential for tyranny, but this has never been a big problem in Lastwall. The Watcher-Lord is elected by the Precentors Martial of the Crusader War College, who look for purity of heart, clarity of mind, and someone who embodies the crusader ideal. As a result, there has never been a Watcher-Lord arrogant enough to try and assume tyrannical control over the country, as they understand that delegation of duty and working together are important for promoting the greater good.
Of late there has been a growing divide between the military government in Vigil and the fort commanders on its border with the Hold of Belkzen. Out in the field, many of the soldiers believe that the central government is more interested in maintaining the status quo, rather than taking the fight to the orcs. Fort commanders, such as Captain Thaum Gauntwood of Castle Everstand, have been tempted to take matters into their own hands if they do not receive more support from Vigil.
Since the moment the nation was founded, the soldiers of Lastwall have been on constant guard against the orcs of Belkzen and the various undead menaces of Virlych. The most intense action takes place on the plains of the Belkzen frontier, but every month there are patrols that scout the Hungry Mountains, looking for any sign of undead activity. These missions are largely dismissed as inconsequential by the younger soldiers, while the veterans see them as the very foundation of Lastwall's reason to exist, holding them in much higher regard. Crusader doctrine considers the orc menace simply a byproduct of the Whispering Tyrant's rise, and that maintaining the seals that keep the lich imprisoned is every soldier's uppermost duty.
The Lastwall cavalry is legendary for its ability to turn the tide of battle. Its expertly-trained horsemen and magnificent mounts can maneuver in tight formation and, when charging, present an unstoppable wall of hooves and steel. Sometimes the Lastwall cavalry only need appear in order to trigger an enemy rout. The last such decisive battle took place in 4695 AR, when a force of 173 mounted knights rode down a force of over 2,000 infantry under the command of the orc Warlord Graukrad.
Lastwall is on generally good terms with Nirmathas, its neighbor to the south, even though Nirmathi troops have proven somewhat unreliable and undisciplined during joint missions. Some in Lastwall would prefer to ally with the more disciplined soldiers of Molthune farther south, but are unwilling to provoke Nirmathas by doing so, given that their southern border is one they don't have to constantly guard. The government is on congenial terms with the other nations bordering Lake Encarthan, although it keeps a close eye on the tyrant of Razmiran, and the prophets of the so-called "Living God". Relations with Kyonin are cool, as the elves refuse to aid Lastwall in what it believes is the defense of the entire region.
Lastwall is a nation marked by both impressive geographical features and regions of danger. It is located on the western shores of Lake Encarthan, the largest fresh water lake in Avistan. Lastwall's largest city, Vellumis, sits on Encarthan's banks. To its north, just across the border with Ustalav, lie the Hungry Mountains. To the south lies the Fangwood, the majority of it within neighboring Nirmathas. Despite these regions of bountiful natural resources, Lastwall is bordered by two incredibly dangerous areas. To the northwest lie the lands of the Hold of Belkzen, a barren region of dusty plains filled with savage hordes of war-loving orcs. To the north, nestled in the Hungry Mountains, lies the Ustalavic province of Virlych. This desolate region is home to Gallowspire, the prison of Tar-Baphon, and is inhabited only by the restless dead. All saner inhabitants have long since abandoned this desolate land.
The inhabitants of Lastwall are mainly human, but are willing to accept people of any race who are dedicated to their cause. They are hardy and friendly, especially towards any heroic crusaders who have come to help defend their land, or assist Lastwall's government in maintaining its vigil over Gallowspire. Lately, fewer of these brave individuals have been emigrating, instead heading north to Mendev to hold back the ever-encroaching horrors of the Worldwound. This lack of new recruits to Lastwall's cause is a matter of much concern amongst its government and residents. Some fear that if there is no influx of new blood, Lastwall will eventually fall to the orc hordes that lie across its northwestern border.
- James Jacobs et al. (2011). The Inner Sea World Guide, p. 98-99. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-269-2
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