A Great and Terrible Whisper
Formerly the counties of Virholt and Grodlych, these lands are lifeless and haunted, seemingly poisoned by Gallowspire’s very presence.
The chain-bound steeples of Gallowspire—the stake in the heart of Ustalav—looms over an accursed wasteland of shattered mountains and dark magic, a monument to an age of genocide and blasphemy. Spreading around it, tainted by proximity to the Whispering Tyrant’s throne, sprawl the scars of the arch-lich’s maniacal vision, a realm of ruin wracked by uncontrolled spell-storms and prowled by the abandoned miscarriages of unholy experiments. For the inheritors of this scarred age, Virlych bears more than just the wounds of history, for within its crumbling womb sleeps the architect of that dread epic, a deathless obscenity whose dreams still seep forth to poison the world.
In the age before Ustalav became the killing ground of the living dead, the counties of Grodlych and Virholt stretched over the western arm of the Hungry Mountains and controlled many of the lands south of the Path River. Where Grodlych reached from the southern mountains to the coasts surrounding modern Vellumis, comprising much of the land now known as Lastwall, the smaller, rockier lands of Virholt spread southwest, continuing the border now guarded by Canterwall, halting at the shadow of the Fangwood. While Grodlych fell just as its sister counties to the east—and was ultimately ceded to the country’s liberators after the Tyrant’s defeat—histories hold that Virholt’s ruin was deserved, a price paid for betraying not just the nation, but the living. Although few texts recount the specifics, the count of Virholt bargained with the resurrected lich, selling his land and his people into slavery in return for his own salvation. What fate the traitor met remains mysterious, but many accounts indulge in baseless conjecture on fates just as torturous as that suffered by his realm. Much of the rest of Virlych’s history is actually the chronicle of Lastwall’s formation, with the Tyrant’s defeat by the Shining Crusade and the swearing of the protector nation’s oath to guard his grave-lands. Since then, the people of Ustalav have shunned the wreckage of their westernmost realm, the trauma of centuries past still all too real in the arcane storms, wandering ghosts, unholy ruins, and accursed creatures that brood and work the lich’s immortal will in those deadly lands.
Little lives in Virlych, though the realm is hardly uninhabited. While the eastern Hungry Mountains are known for driving rain and violent lightning storms, these take on a terrible aspect to the west, where twisted magical aethers imbue the harsh weather with seemingly malicious intent. Tales of living dust storms and lightning phantoms pass among those forced to travel near these lands, such apparitions sometimes being visible from miles away. Natural creatures do exist in Virlych, though the sparse vegetation and incessant storms make even the meanest beasts rangy and fierce. Small packs of mangy wolves, spiny beetles, feral rodents, and all manner of carrion birds scour the land’s corpse in search of its sparse vegetation and trespassers slain by things with no need for food.