A Tale of Five Kingdoms
Tsuzu is set in the remote northwest of the Imperial kingdom and contains the upper ranges of the Western mountains, which run nearly the length of the prefecture, halting abruptly before the North Sea. Unlike Chōshū to the south, its mountains are not particularly forested, consisting instead of rocky crags covered only by the hardiest forms of scraggly evergreen which cling to life amidst the grey rock. The capitol of Yachinōh sits in a cup-shaped valley, ringed on three sides by the mountains on the southern steppes. Only adding to the reputation of Tsuzu as a rugged, frontier province, the earth itself is very active- landslides and earthquakes are not uncommon and a daily danger in the mountains. Hot springs bubble up from within a number of the mountains, wreathing many parts of the mountains in a sulfurous fog.
Tsuzu relies primarily on trade, both with the Hito and Miyaga to the east, and Chōshū to the south. Tsuzu is a large exporter of raw materials such as bamboo, pine, and stone, which is exchanged for rice and grain from more fertile regions. Much of Tsuzu lives in the fortress-town of Yachinōh, but those who do not live in small villages that sprung up throughout the province around forestry or mining camps. Tsuzu’s most lucrative export by far is the iron mined from ore found deep within its mountains. While difficult and costly to mine, and small in quantity compared to deposits in the north-eastern mountains of the kingdom, the quality of it is unparalleled both for its whitish-silvery color and strength, and is sometimes referred to as ‘sky-iron’ in reference to a poem by Miyaga Ōtōh which described a hereditary blade forged from a particular deposit of the material as wrought from “the reflection of a full moon over a still lake.”
Tsuzu was designed an imperial protectorate by Emporer Seishu some 1150 years prior to current day for its vast stone resources deep in the mountains. At that time, the Wall was being constructed via imperial mandate, and the only material of sufficient caliber was mined deep within the western mountains in Tsuzu, some hundred miles from the nearest point along the Wall’s foundation. Nevertheless, at great human cost, the great stones were cut in present-day Tsuzu then painstakingly transported out of the mountains to the Wall building sites for construction. While these quarries were destroyed or closed after the completion of the Wall, a tradition of stone-working was begun in Tsuzu which survives into the present.