|Realm||Ash-Kingdom of Maur|
|Resources||Steel, Deathiron, Maur's Skin|
The Ash-Kingdom is a harsh place, much of it taken up by mountains, and the weather is frequently clouded, or, especially in winter, snowy; still, enough of the land is arable (mostly formerly forested regions that have been cleared), or sustains a population of edible animals, to sustain a fairly large population, aided by their apparently-inborn desire for efficiency - and, more importantly, a network of sheltered, usually much warmer (though everything freezes in winter), valleys in the realm's interior, known as the Hearth.
However, while this is the site of a number of farming and herding communities, land in The Hearth is too valuable to cover with a city, given how little of it there is - most of the populace is scatted throughout small towns, mainly mining communities or devoted to harvesting lumber, and the capital city of Maurshael (Great Dragon's Wings) is on the expanse of tundra called the Ashway, after the strange fogs, black and filled with gritty flakes, that, though occuring throughout the entire country, are most prevalent there, bordering the Forest of Bones, so named for the incredibly resilient trees, with bark, wood, and foliage in shades of white and pale grey, that compose it.
The mountains, meanwhile, contain a veritable labyrinth of caves, underground rivers (a number of which lead to the sea, allowing certain cleverly made ships to pass beyond their borders), and perhaps entrances to a true underrealm, though if such portals exist, they have not yet been explored... And given the dangers inherent in such things, likely will not be without orders from the queen.
The Maurani (Children of the Great Dragon, roughly translated) are an unusual race, by most standards - some are fae-tainted from the long alliance with Niskovia, and the resulting intermarriages, while other branches remain, at least ostensibly, human. Universally black haired, many of them share the Tzalteclan's copper skin as well, though fewer than are as ashen as their kingdom's name would imply, and, also like them (though in this case far more likely to be a coincidence) they carry themselves with pride.
Even more unusually, they also (to an extent) share an origin myth - they say that they are descended from a dragon as well, though they name him Maur, and title him "Great Dragon", venerating him as their chief deity; their religion states that it was his task to craft mortals, and, though his power was unreduced, his first success cooled his urgency, transmuting his skin from living flame to a layer of ash, constantly sloughed away by his sister, the serpent of the winds, but constantly renewing itself, and that this is what he used to craft them, the shed flesh of his own body; those with copper skin are thought to be ones born, like those first children, of the flame, either brought with him or crafted there, to be the flame to keep life burning here - and they say, too.
How this came to pass is unclear - while they do not, as yet, know of the Tzalteclan, the similarities are certainly striking; it is possible that it is the result of some too-early ship bearing a Tzaltec crew, who mingled with those living here and combined their religion with the local tales... Or perhaps it is some memory of true draconic intervention. Who can tell? Certainly not the people themselves...
The mountains that run throughout the Ash-Kingdom are rich in many materials, though most are not geared towards trade so much as war - though certainly war materials can be sold, and many of them are used for machinery too, making them doubly valuable; many of their priests are also smiths, and the ritual introduction of the carbon-rich ash that falls all over the country into their forging has allowed them to, over time, produce high-quality steel.
Other metals they harvest are stranger, however; deathiron, a grey-black metal much like its mundane counterpart, stripped from the most damaged of the ruins that are scattered across the landscape, and mined from the deeps, most notable among them. When properly forged, it forms something of incredible resilience, that even their best smiths have been unable to melt down again - but few outside the Ash-Kingdom would be willing to do so, for the process requires human sarifice to complete. Which, perhaps, explains its strangest properties: it feeds upon death and pain, and the more people who have died around it, or especially to it, the more of that energy is available to the wielder, though how it is used is seen as an intensely personal thing - some have managed to command the spirits of those they killed, others use it to enhance their physical capabilities, and a few have even found that they shape it to their will, to a point.
Maur's Skin is their name for the ash that falls throughout their land, reverently harvested and used in smithing - and it has properties of its own; despite being ash, it can be used to fuel fires that burn clean and hot (and it is used for their furnaces, as a result - furnaces that are, when possible, stoked by what they call Sister's Breath, the wind that comes out of the west, for their smithing is steeped in religion and ritual, creating from fire like their ostensible progenitor as they do); what else it can be used for, besides the forging of steel and refinement of deathiron, is unclear.
However, despite the Hearth and the herds of animals (including some megafauna) in the region, they simply do not have enough to support their population - especially if it continues to grow, and as such, they need to import food.