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GOURNZEE (Duchy of)
Location: Continent of Brun, near Endworld Line. WB
Area: 17,600 sq. mi. (45,585 sq. km.).
Population: 7,800 (92% varkha, 8% Djikarti).
Languages: Varkhan (80% similarity with common lizard man tongue), Klagorst.
Coinage: Gshar (gp), n'kai (sp).
Taxes: Gournzeean tax rates are unknown at this time.
Government type: Monarchy.
Industries: Mining (silver, iron), farming (giant lizards, cattle, giant rats).
Important Figures: Naarn Dvorcic (Warlord).
Flora and Fauna: The Gournzee region is completely free of humanoid monsters. The few that dare enter from the Endworld Line mountains are rapidly dealt with by the varkhas. White and green dragons are known to inhabit the region and the surrounding mountains, but normally they do not attack the lizard men; other creatures are deer, wolves and several species of woodland creatures.
Further Reading: None.
Description by Giulio diSergio-Orsini.
The Duchy of Gournzee is a mountain kingdom of a race called varkhas, underground lizard men. Most of the towns are built on the mountainside, and stretch underground. The capital Eel Gaurn is completely underground.
The varkhas are smaller than their more common lizard man cousins, being four to five feet tall, but they possess similar physical characteristics. The varkhas can hardly be regarded as a friendly race, and they do not like humans, or any humanoid race for that matter. They have purged their land of all humanoids, and are among the stronger military powers of the region...but unfortunately their race has a very, very slow rate of population growth. Many varkhas are born sterile, and the child mortality is very high. Normally a female lays two to four fertile eggs during her long lifespan (nearly 400 years), but only one is in general lucky enough to survive. The varkhas are, incredibly, friendly toward the Djikarti. They do not actively discourage visitors to their nation, but are quick to avenge any perceived offences, and the local laws do not protect strangers in any way.
A small community of Djikarti gnomes from Szekesh live and work in the region, mostly providing their expertise in engineering. This often seems strange to outsiders, especially since Gournzee is ruled by a harsh militaristic regime, supervised by the Church of Pearl.
[Note: Mystaran varkhas are not totally like the AD&D ones found in Dragon Annual #1. For more information on Mystaran varkhas see The Wyrmsteeth Gazetteer by Giulio Caroletti.]
The varkhas arrived in the Klagorst region in AC 434. Their traditional history says that they were guided there by Pearl, after the destruction of their northern homeland, located in a system of underground caverns in northern Hyborea. The reasons for the destruction have never been revealed to strangers. Anyway, their patron Immortal Pearl told them of a land where they could settle. Their high priest at the time, Jesska, led them to Szekesh, where they were told to kill the troglodytes and free the gnomes of the country, which they succeeded in doing over the following years. Although the Djikarti feared that the varkhas would turn out to be new oppressors, their liberators let them be free, and asked them to help build a cave system under the Endworld Line that would eventually constitute the Duchy of Gournzee.
The varkhas remained fierce enemies of the Stygian troglodytes during the following years. Avoiding as much as possible any contact with the human populations that settled down in Brasov and Klagorst, the varkhas were able to lead several raids, called crusades by the varkhas, against the Stygians. Ten such crusades were carried out, some successful, some not, but the conflict has remained limited to these occasions due to the distance involved, and the presence of Vrancea. During the same time, the varkhas wiped out all the humanoid tribes of the region.
More recently, three more crusades were led in the last fifteen years (AC 1002, 1007, and 1014) thanks to Duke Nhorg of Vrancea, who allowed the varkhas passage through his lands to reach Stygia, much to the indignation of the troglodyte representatives of the Confederacy of Klagorst.
After a varkhan raid in Stygia last year, another war has enveloped the region, and the varkhas were beaten in the end, along with their ally Nhorg of Vrancea. Considering their low reproduction rate, the varkhas will likely keep a low profile for a long time. Warlord Naarn is a close friend of Nhorg, and the latter has chosen Gournzee as the place to seek shelter after having been exiled.
Well, just the thought of coming here is a bad idea for anyone who doesn't have a good reason to do so. The varkhas do not care for strangers, and when I say "don't care," I mean it: no inns, no taverns, a total indifference toward you, apart from guards that forbid anything to anyone... I didn't have a pleasant stay.