Duchy of Flache-Ebene
The swathe of scrubland that hugs the base of the Felsspitze Mountains is ruled by the Duke of Flache-Ebene, and is the first of the independent micro-nations most travellers will come to when they journey to the Mountain Principalities.
The Duchy is run as an autocracy with the Duke of Flache-Ebene at its head. There is no formal council to the Duke, or representative assembly, but the Dukes of Flache-Ebene do retain some advisors who they consult periodically on a variety of matters.
The relatively flat terrain of the Felsspitze Lowlands in theory makes the Duchy better suited to agriculture than the rest of the Mountain Principalities, however, due to the dense carpet of scrub and shrub it is incredibly hard to clear large tracts of land for use in arable agriculture and keep them free from invasion by the native scrub. The Lowland breed of pig that is widely farmed in the Duchy is particularly specialised to the area, and is very partial to eating the roots of the low shrubs and trees. Instead, the Duchy has specialised in the husbandry of goats, sheep and pigs, all of which thrive in the scrubland and are able to eat the foliage of the tough trees and bushes. On the whole more cultivation of beef and dairy cattle takes place in Flache-Ebene than elsewhere in the Mountain Principalities, but like the practice of arable agriculture in the area, this requires significant effort to keep areas clear of scrubland to allow more palatable grasses to grow. Like their neighbour, the Barony of Bolunburg to the north, Flache-Ebene benefits greatly from the fact that the main land trade route to the kingdoms of the south and the rest of the Mountain Principalities passes through their territory. Indeed, as the Duchy is the first of the Mountain Principalities caravans making the journey north pass through, they can profit from the buying and selling of goods within their territory. Merchants from the Duchy will routinely buy goods from the other micro-nations of the Felsspitze Mountains and then sell them at a premium within their own borders, saving many of the caravans a treacherous journey north, and giving the Ebenite merchants a healthy profit.
Demography and Population
As the gateway to the Felsspitze Mountains, the Duchy of Flache-Ebene is, by the standards of the other Mountain Principalities, a rather diverse place, with a wide mix of individuals from the whole spectrum of sapient species living in the major settlements and travelling through the Duchy. The rural areas away from the major settlements and highways are much more parochial in feel, and the majority population is mostly comprised of Half-Orcs, who are well suited to dealing with the tough vegetation and dry conditions of the Felsspitze Lowlands.
Flache-Ebene maintains a small standing army that is mostly used as a border force, and to protect the major settlements of the Duchy. This standing army tends to move and patrol along a network of towers that were originally built as lookout points by the Kingdom of Reinhart to protect its southern border, but which the independent Duchy has adopted. The rest of the country is protected by militia regiments that are drawn from the local populace in times of crisis, and then disband when they are no longer needed, or when they’ve had enough of fighting.