Land of Iron Resolve
Demographics: 70% Human, !0% Midgard Dwarf, 15% Gnome, 5% Various.
"You won't see a Derwynder's back while he breathes, lad. Be told."
The second great human nation of Atern, though the populace would severely debate which is the greatest, and the contrast between them and Kithonia could not be greater. Resilient, Implacable and shaped by conflict, the Derwynders are, as a whole, a much less ostentatious, albeit much more belligerent, nation than Kithonia. A nation of small communities, of herders, farmers and huntsmen, each settlement of Derwynd is well organised to defend against the fearsome denizens of the surrounding lands. Disdaining city living as the ways of the decadent, they have organised themselves into a number of great Holds, each with its own ruling family commanding utter loyalty from the communities under their protection. More a collection of competing and cooperating tribes than anything else, they have no king, but rather a council of equals overseen and advised by the King of Couerdefer, who is first among equals and acts as a mediator. While undoubtedly alien in concept to more traditional societies, this has allowed the Derwynders to exist in relative harmony with one another, and as a ceaseless headache to their foes.
As a nation, Derwynd has been defined by three great events; the arrival of the Nagoyans, the Ironwater Wars, and the Fall of Caraselle.
Derwynd was originally a much larger nation before the arrival of strange elves from across the sea. These invaders, wielding strange weapons and worshipping heathen deities, arrived en masse in a manner that was eerily similar to that of the Oppressor armies, some centuries later, and immediately displaced the local populations. Those who would not move were slain, and the tales of this period are of continuous, merciless battle, until the Line was drawn at what is now the border between modern Derwynd and Nagoya. This conflict with Nagoya, which has continued to the present day, has very much defined both nations, as the people of Derwynd have neither forgiven nor forgotten the atrocities committed by their Elven neighbours. Up until the construction of the Nagoyan Great Wall, and for a while after, the Shadowlands, as the borders came to be known, were remarkable for the ceaseless, relentless battles for control by both peoples. In fact, while no Nagoyan has ever admitted it, it was the persistence and implacability of Derwynd that lead to the Wall's construction. The Nagoyans, marshaling their resources, mounted a massive, concerted push across the border to claim the land beyond, but were cut off and systematically cut down by the Derwynders in what became known as the Iron Cage. The dead elves were flayed, and their bones laid across the new border, in a grim message to all who would follow after.
The second defining event of Derwynd's history was the arrival of the Midgard Dwarves and their Gnomish allies after their exile from Kel Kazardad. Despised by their jealous and insular brethren, they were forced from their homes following the Ironwater Wars, which culminated in the destruction of Midgard as a nation and the founding of the current dynasty of Kel Kazardad. None could have foreseen at the time what a turning point this was for both peoples. Arriving as refugees, in what is now the Iron Province, they were met by the Hold Father of the Iron Province and embraced as brothers by the land as a whole, who understood the Great Grudge held by the exiles as no other people could. Humbled by this, the Midgard Dwarves integrated with ease into the feudal, honour-bound society of Derwynd, and there is not a settlement in the land that does not have at least one family of Midgard Dwarves among their number. Understandably, Derwynd's armour and weapons have since become the stuff of legend, and if Kel Kazardad makes the best beer, Derwynd makes the best steel, though not an ounce of it has ever gone to Kel Kazardad, and any man or nation that sells it on to them is blacklisted by Derwynd's merchants forever more.
Derwynd's relationship with their northern neighbour, Caraselle, is rather more complicated. Prior to the rise of the Lords of Night, the nobility of Caraselle considered Derwynd to be something of a backwater and an occasional rival at best. Efforts were made to annex the Iron Province for its mineral ores, and were soundly rebuffed by Derwynd, but relations were otherwise relatively amicable. The rise of the Vampires was a very different affair. On the one hand, they rose to power through dishonourable means, which did not sit well with Derwynd, but on the other, it was largely Caraselle's own doing. While there were some initial efforts conquer across the border by the Vampire Lords, this quickly devolved into a series of constant border skirmishes. What Derwynd truly took issue with were the Feral Thirsters terrorizing caravans and the thieving Necrolords tampering with the rest of their honoured dead and attempting to usurp their homes. Thus, Derwynd's armies regularly foray into Caraselle to hunt down some monster or other, or to avenge a crime, after which they return home.
The only nation, save their foes Nagoya, to escape wholesale invasion by the Oppressors, Derwynd's fortune is due to persistence, tenacity and ingenuity, rather than what they call Elvish cowardice and treachery. However, with that being said, Derwynd has taken in (and continues to take in) more refugees from Corlye than almost every other nation, matched only by Tellugwellen, and were the first and the fastest to rise to Corlye's aid in War. With the War's end, they have turned their formidable will to rebuilding their nation, with a conspicuous amount of success. If ever there was a truism about a nation, it is this; while even one Derwynder breathes, Derwynd thrives.