The region of land colloquially known as the Haglands is not formally claimed by any nation, as any nation which has tried has found itself beset by ill luck of the most appalling kind. Troops go missing in the marshes, officials are found raving with terror, and wasting diseases afflict their rulers. Instead, the area is held in the iron grip of several covens of hags, which compete against one another until they unite to crush opposition. The Haglands are a dim and spiritless place, where the inhabitants can only survive by ritual sacrifice to their local hags. In normal times they may sacrifice a few drops of blood or a lock of hair on the hags' altar, but when times are lean they may have to beg a favour of the "Good Ladies", as they are known. That favour may have to be repaid with the sacrifice of their own flesh upon an altar, such as a finger or an ear. Sometimes, the hags demand that a child be sent down the Trail of Treats in the main swamp of the Haglands, to spend its days with the 'Good Ladies'. Those who venture into the bogs find strangely misshapen creatures moving in the murk, pouncing when the intruders are distracted. Attempts to drain the swamps are met with miasmas of choking green fog rolling out of the darkness, and monsters snatching the men into the water one by one. Any progress made is lost every night as trickles of water seep back into the earthworks until they collapse and erase every inch achieved. Sacrifices to the hags ensure that the individual who made the sacrifice are under their power and can be manipulated to their will. Soldiers who invade the Haglands are met as a last resort by armies of blank-eyed peasants shuffling along clutching farming implements, with unseen monsters attacking from behind once the soldiers are distracted defending themselves.
The Haglands lie underneath a perpetual gloom of cloud cover, and the air is filled with the scent of rotting, damp, and decay. The dispirited peasants who live here do so because they can imagine nowhere else to go, or have grown up sacrificing to the 'Good Ladies' of the swamps and cannot escape their power.
Wetland / Swamp