The Duchy of Lestecha is one of the major realms of the Empire of Gard. A land mostly characterized by desert, it is bordered on the west by Arcland, and its human inhabitants are mostly of the Arcish ethnicity. The region is often considered harsh and lawless, though Lestechanos are often quite moral and self-sufficient.
Lestecha is ruled by Duchess Adaladrativ (Adala for short), a brass dragon. She has held her position for over a 100 years, although she is one of the youngest of the dragon rulers of any Gardish realm. The Human’s Revolution hardly touched Lestecha, so her power has never truly been challenged.
Historically, the desert region that Lestecha is the eastern part of has been inhabited mostly by orcs, dwarves, and humans of an ethnicity closer to Arcish than Gardish. Lestecha’s government is modeled on the Arcish form, as well. The Duchess has absolute power. She can commission new aristocratic or bureaucratic offices, and she often does, but she is answerable to no constitution or aristocratic tradition – only to the Emperor of Gard.
That said, Duchess Adala exercises very little of her legal powers. She is the ultimate arbitrator in legal affairs and occasionally intervenes personally to handle local crises, and demands absolute loyalty from her military. But she does not keep a large army, does not collect high taxes, and leaves most matters up to local bureaucrats of her choosing.
Most Lestechanos like the Duchess as long as she keeps her claws out of their affairs, but other governmental officials are another matter. Most of the bureaucracy is incredibly corrupt. Officials are a mix of humanoids and brass dragons, but they all have the reputation for wanting to enrich themselves and ignore their jobs. They, in turn, are ignored by the people whenever they can get away with it.
Lestecha is to the east of the Granite Mountains, which trap moisture to the west. As a result, Lestecha has a largely desert climate. Large swaths of the land in Lestecha are good for cattle ranching, but most of it has little plant life apart from scrub and cacti. The southern Granite Mountains themselves are disputed between Lestecha and Arcland. It would be hard to say which side has the better claim.
Much of the of human population of Lestecha lives in small towns and villages. The capital, Lestecha City, is built on a mesa which moves about the desert, and the city of Lastón fortifies a pass through the Granite Mountains, but neither city is terribly large in population.
The main facts of life for Lestechanos are corrupt government officials, a great distance to the rest of civilization, and the contested border with Arcland. Therefore, the main cultural values Lestechanos hold dear are straightforwardness, self-sufficiency, and preparedness for trouble. They also prefer faiths and philosophies that put an emphasis on high moral character.
Because it’s so isolated, Lestecha has a limited economy. This is not to say that Lestechanos are poor. But it is not a place for the aristocrats or the fantastically wealthy. Even rich Lestechanos not only have to work, but are expected to work, for to rely only on reserves of wealth would be seen as lazy by their culture.
On the other hand, when work is scarce, many people turn to lives of crime. Law enforcement varies from town to town, but it’s usually too corrupt or too weak to keep the peace. Unless there is a trusted local sheriff, most Lestechanos will take the law into their own hands rather than rely on anyone else to protect them. They also resort to duels and brawls to solve personal disputes.
This system works to some degree, but it has also permitted the rise of organized crime. The Crowd is a greater force in Lestecha than in any other realm.
Lestecha is sometimes thought of as a fringe realm due to its geographic and economic isolation. Duchess Adala and the people in general have little opinion about the conflict between Gideon City and Eustace, or about the public debate over the role of dragons in society. But, because of this, some politicians see Lestechano support as an unclaimed resource.
The constant tension between Arcland and Gard always turns Imperial attention to Lestecha, whose western mountain border is contested. There had been some fighting recently in the northern Granite Mountains. Fortunately, diplomats have agreed upon a truce. Unfortunately, not everyone in Lestecha listens to diplomats.
It is a well-known but rarely-discussed fact that the Crowd is slowly becoming entrenched in Lestecha. The rumor is that the Crowd now has a hidden base of operations somewhere in the desert, which is now their world headquarters since they were kicked out of Silverstream, Lasant.
There is no state religion in Lestecha, but the same gods are worshiped almost everywhere: Lotheria, Hiropeh, Kyon, Dilentu, and Ielda. There is also a feared cult of Kryvok in Lestecha which doubles as a bounty-hunting guild.
Followers of other religions than these are usually shunned in Lestechano towns. No enforced laws prevent the worship of any particular god, but followers of evil gods attract lynch mobs if they are found out. The one evil god people tend to tolerate is Beuben. Local folklore says that Beuben’s tower can be found somewhere out in the desert sands, and people are too afraid of the Lord of Lichdom to attack his clerics.
Lestecha has a large population of orcs, half-orcs, and dwarves. They mix rather completely with humans, who live intermingled in orcish tribal villages or dwarven mountain clans just as freely as other races live in human cities. On the ranches, half-orcs are especially prized as cowboys and herders able to work hard in the hot weather.