The Kingdom of the Merinteri
The Marinteri is one of the most diverse regions in the world, due to its long history and central position. Sitting at the heart of the Mythlands means that every major land trade route passes through, while neighbors have conquered it more times than history remembers. Because of this nearly every race can be found in the Marinteri, and no particular species has a clear numerical majority. Notably, most polities are led by orcs, who have through countless wars set themselves up as the region's aristocracy.
The Marinteri is the central region of the world, the valley centered around the inner seas at the heart of the Mythlands. Mountains surround its sides, and all rivers find themselves going to the Three Seas eventually. The land is well suited to agriculture, being fertile and forming gentle slopes which are easily tilled, and with little in the way of a winter.
Despite these natural blessings, the land is sparsely populated, mainly due to the endless wars which ravage the region, as every neighbor uses it as a battleground and warlords war each other for patches of land. And terrible monsters lurk in the untended wilderness, werebeasts and goblins and worse things. As one approaches the three seas, these beasts grow ever more prevalent, and only fortified settlements survive on the shores. The island of Corinsul, at the heart of the Three Seas, is a cursed and wretched place, shrouded in myth and shunned by any sane voyager. Only the mad or desperate dwell there; amid the ruins that cover the island. Nameless terrors stalk through the ruined cities, and worse still misfortune dogs every step one takes there. Children born on the island are deformed monstrosities. It is not a place for mortals to tread.
The foremost cities of the region are Galenave, Midvar, and Theress, in order of size. These cities lie on the north-south trade route which crosses the entire world. The land is dotted with ruins, leftovers of bygone civilizations which have long since faded away. These ancient cities are said to be haunted and are generally shunned as well, a caution which is reinforced by the beasts that infest them. Still, adventurers do occasionally defy the warnings and scavenge from them, with... varying results.
Theoretically, the Merinteri is unified kingdom, under the reign of the orcish ruler High King Hedfric, whose father conquered the entirety of the region some twenty years ago. But this kingdom is a sham. In reality, every warlord with fifty men rules as independent sovereigns, ignoring missives from the capital of Galenave and warring among each other. So in reality there are as many countries in the Merinteri as there are men with swords. It is a land trapped in perpetual war, against outsiders and against itself. Its people have no sense of collective identity, and only stop fighting each other to oppose the invasions of neighbors. More than one ruler has abandoned governing this famously ungovernable people in disgust.
The most important other sovereign in the region is King Baldren, who rules the north, including the important trade city of Galmar, from the legendarily impregnable fortress at Midvar. He is forever embroiled in conflict with the human princes of Theress, which in reality is not a principality but an oligarchy controlled by the city's wealthiest merchants. This bloody rivalry has grinded on since the cities were first forced to coexist, and, it is said, will continue to grind on long after the end of days comes and the rest of the world crumbles to dust. To the west all semblance of nationhood fades away, and every township rules itself apart from the rest.
It is said that the Merinteri is the oldest part of the world, where the gods first set foot when they created the world. In the days of old, it is told, they ruled from the sacred island of Corinsul. What is clear is that the region was once as great as it is today pathetic; one needs only gaze at the ancient ruins that blanket it to appreciate its historic power. A great civilization ruled every reach of the Mythlands from their golden cities on Corinsul. To maintain their empire, they created other races to serve as their slaves, such as the orcs, who were meant as soldiers for their legions.
But all things go to dust. Filled with hubris and blind to their own ignorance, they weaved forbidden magics. As could be expected, things did not turn out as planned. The terrible monsters that today roam the Mythlands were born then, and caused unimaginable devastation across the world. The slave races saw a chance to revolt, and rose up against their cruel masters everywhere. That long lost people were killed in such droves that they were completely exterminated, never to be seen today. Such was the reach of the destruction that even the name of that empire and its builders was lost to history.
After that, the Merinteri became a haunted and savage land. It became a prize to be fought over by war thirsty neighbors, whose armies trampled across it to reach their enemies. It has become a land of death, where lives are short and hard, where any morning can be your last.
It is difficult to define a Merinterish culture, as there is not truly a merinterish people, only an assorted mess of different intermixed peoples. They are notably hardy as a whole, mostly due to the fact that never ending warfare and ceaseless monster attacks force them to adapt or die. They are survivors, stone hearted by nature because in this land to show weakness is to invite death. They are suspicious of outsiders; some places- mainly the major cities along the trade routes- are welcoming, but venture into the countryside and you'll find unfriendly welcomes and thinly veiled hostility. They have learned, after all, that outsiders bring death.
While, again, the major cities are quite wealthy, the Merinteri as a whole is wretchedly poor. Any wealth is soon pillaged by opportunistic warlords. They cling to life in fortified settlements, eking out what lives they can in this unforgiving land. What trade they do make (which is not much, as most sensible traders shun the notoriously dangerous parts) is mostly of grain and timber.