Ashinthael

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Kingdom of Ashinthael
Flag of Ashinthael
Flag
Coat of Arms of Ashinthael
Coat of Arms
Motto:
"From the ashes we rise again"
Anthem:
Location of Ashinthael
Map versions
Capital Marble Palace
Largest city Slograde
Official language(s) Common tongue
Official religion(s) Soloralism
Demonym Ashinthaler
 - Adjective Ashinthaler
Government Absolute monarchy
 - King Irian I
 - Chamberlain Council of Elders
 - Legislature Teirwald
Establishment
Area
Population 4,521,000
Active population 1
Currency Thalmark
Calendar
Time zone(s) CMT
Mains electricity
Driving side right
Track gauge
National website
National forum
National animal Dragon
National food Roast Pig
National drink Fire Cider
National tree Wasteland Oak
Abbreviation ASH

Ashinthael, officially the Kingdom of Ashinthael, is a country located in north-central Apollonia. It occupies much of the Teir'Dal Wasteland, which lies to the north of the Transprinitican District.

Etymology

Ashinthael derives its name from Ashintully, the Menelmacari name for the kingdom which arose out of the Teir'Dal Wasteland. The name Ashintully itself is a loan-word from ancient Dagoran Eas an Tulaich and means "cascade of the hillock", referring to the constant rain of ash falling down the mountains caused by the early dragons that once ran rampant throughout the area. Over time this was altered by the introduction of other languages spoken by migratory tribes, such as the southern Slobovians and Crandish to the east. The word thael became a cognate for tully, eventually replacing it entirely in common usage.

Geography

The kingdom occupies much of the Teir'Dal Wasteland in an east-west tract in north-central Apollonia. It is bordered in the south by Hurmu, in the east and north by Lac Glacei and in the west by Meckelnburgh. The topography is mountainous and the series of peaks are known as the Dagoran Spine. The mountain line that runs east-to-west through Ashinthael is known as the Thael. Most of the region is densely forested, bisected only by roads connecting the major cities and holds. Recent industrialization has pushed back the forest around many cities, but most of the country remains rural woodland. In the early history of Micras, the area was devastated by a succession of wars - the emergence of demons during the Infernal War - and the decimation wrought by the dragons during the Menelmacari Civil War. These events caused the destruction of over 90% of the forests in the region and resulted in the moniker of the Ashlands due to the thick layer of ash and soot left behind. Over the years this ash composted into a rich and fertile soil, resulting in the forests regrowing vigorously, so that today much of the evidence of these past events has been hidden away. Only above the tree line, along the higher vertical crags of the mountains, can the scars of the old wars still be seen.

Flora and fauna

The flora and fauna of Ashinthael is often considered a microcosm of ecology on Micras as several species are endemic to the immediate region and nowhere else on the planet. The most obvious of these is the presence of dragons, and although some other communities of these have been identified in localized populations elsewhere, Ashinthael holds a significant percentage of the total global population. Although scientific studies are scarce, it is suggested that these local aberrations are possibly the result of mutations brought about by interactions centuries ago with the Infernal interlopers; possibly as a result of radiation exposure or perhaps species that escaped the tunnels prior to their closure and established a population on the surface.

History

Part I: Rise of the Riders

Eons ago, past centuries lost to time, there thrived the great Elven Empire, Menelmacar, which spread across the face of Micras, defeating all opposition that came before it. In these ancient times the world held more magic than science; strange creatures and stranger civilizations thrived in places where men dared not tread. Denizens of the dark abyss led armies of demons across the southern latitudes, while tiger-riders scouted the hills of the central continents, and ancient octopi people studied arcane texts in their frozen strongholds. It was a time of wonder, where anything was to be expected. Man was hunted, and his future dominance of the planet was far but assured. Humanity lived in fear; fear of the dark and the things that flitted and gibbered in the night. Thus it was that the humans turned to the elves for protection.

The first human kingdom to join the elves was Elpidos, on the continent of Tapfer. Although isolated and able to defend itself, King William had become smitten with an elvish princess. The marriage combined two powerful empires and made the elves the most powerful nation on the planet. A few nations resisted further overtures to accept “protection” from Menelmacar, among them the fledgling Empire of Shireroth, but the elves were easily persuaded to direct their attention to the petty kingdoms in lands unclaimed by any civilized power. It was then that the elves landed armies on the shores of Apollonia and began the liberation of Freenesia.

To this freed land the masses of humanity spread. Proliferating like never before, they clashed with the various non-human tribes that occupied the continent, wiping out race after race in a bid to be the dominant power. What happened instead was a wholesale massacre; for while some evil races were eliminated, many other neutral races were likewise destroyed, without discrimination. As the humans and their elven allies pushed the frontiers of the empire further inland, providing a constant supply route and defending such a vast expanse became more and more difficult. By the time the northern boundaries reached the hamlet of York Na, the humans had begun to lose their footing.

It was here, among the high peaks of Central Apollonia, that the small tribe of dragon riders was first encountered. A mountain folk, who had long ago learned to tame and ride the dragons that dwelt in the caves, had formed a symbiotic relationship with their reptilian allies. The elves saw the power that could be wielded by such as they, and sought to bring the dragon riders into their fold. Having long fought against the varying dark powers, the dragon riders were easily convinced. In exchange for the power of their flying armies, Menelmacar supplied the dragon riders not only with necessities heretofore inaccessible to the mountain people, but showered them in treasures and finery. The dragon riders became resplendent in their newfound riches, and soon formed the Kingdom of Ashintully, extending elvish control to the opposite shores of Apollonia.

The dragon riders built the marvelous Marble Palace, with massive blocks of glimmering white stone lifted into place by the magnificent strength of the dragons. The palace towered over the valleys below, and dominated the land for leagues around. From their stronghold castle, the Ash Fort, they spread like never before, becoming richer and more decadent. Riders adorned in outfits of utter intricacy, and dragons decked in plaited gold armor soon became the rule. Ashintully became an empire of narcissists, so proud of its own glory that it refused to recognize any faults within itself. And this blinding pride would ultimately be their downfall.

Part II: Ashes to Ashes

The classical age of Ashintully saw it rise to command a vast swath of territory from the eastern coasts of Apollonia to its western shores. Decadent and pompous, they became arrogant and prone to vanity. The first seeds of malcontent came with the arrival of the mysterious Priest in Yellow.

Menelmacar had long been a Soloralist nation in whose religion it was firmly rooted – or so many thought. But on Yellow Island, east of Tapfer, the priest appeared at the Temple of Radiance and began attracting cultists to his following. Worshipping the dark god Musa, they quickly spread to all corners of the Imperium, including Ashinthael. It wasn’t long before the priest and his acolytes had cozied up to Ashinthaler nobility. Soon after they managed to convince the King that Soloralism was a false religion and that their god, Muza, would reward those who repented with great gifts of psychic power.

While the men of Ashinthael were blind to this perverse faith, the dragons were not. Sensing the vanity of their human cohorts, they began abandoning the area, becoming dark marauders, or fleeing to the strongholds of other dragon lairs. Meanwhile, the Yellowists established a firm foothold in the Dagoran Spine and Tapfer. All the while the rift between Soloralist and Yellowist continued to grow. The High Priest whispered words of deceit in the ears of the King and sowed distrust of Menelmacar. Alarmed by this, the Soloralists rallied and began to take countermeasures against the Cult of Yellow. All it did was aggravate the situation further.

The situation exploded when Menelmacari elections for Elenaran, who would lead the country, were announced. The Soloralists rallied behind Sirithil, long-standing Elenaran and a pillar of Menelmacari culture. The Yellowists responded by bring forth their own champion, Archimedes Tyros, the Archetype. To the common eye Tyros was a loyal and otherwise normal Menelmacari. But in the shadows he was a great sorcerer and disciple of the Priest in Yellow known as the Archetype, whose power was said to be imbued with that of Muza himself. By feeding on Sirithil's conservatism, Tyros gained the upper hand and swept the elections in a landslide victory. Outraged, Prince William, head of the Royal Guard, launched a coup against Sirithil's wishes. The result led to a bloody civil war that tore Menelmacar apart. Ashintully, swayed by the favors of power presented by Tyros, sided with the Yellowists and slid down the path of darkness.

Part III: Dark Descent

The fracture of Menelmacar split the country into three large factions. Prince William, enraged at Sirithil's apathy and refusing to accept a Yellowist as Elenaran, retreated to his stronghold on Tapfer where he declared the independence of Elpidos. Those loyal to Sirithil retreated to Feanoria. Meanwhile the Yellowists retained control of their stronghold on Yellow Island and gained all of Menelmacar's Apollonian lands, including Ashintully. Sirithil herself, wearied by the war, retreated into the wilderness and was never seen again. Though rumors of a comeback persisted for years, Sirithil never did return; but the rumor persisted and kept Feanoria going for even as it was caught in the favor of Elvish nationalism. The three successor states quickly set about plotting against each other in what soon turned into a Cold War. Although Feanoria and Elpidos remained nominally allied, the two secretly plotted against each other even while jointly operating against the Yellowists.

While all out war was carefully avoided, the Yellowists secretly plotted to spread their faith to all corners of Micras. It was especially infuriating at the loss of two-thirds of the country, so priority was placed on infiltrating Feanoria and Elpidos. But there were also efforts within to wipe out any remaining opposition to the cult of Muza. The Kings of Ashinthael, wooed by promises of greater power, embraced the Yellowist faith. But in doing so they sealed the fate of Ashinthael as it descended into darkness. Yellowist Inquisitors led Conversion Units across the country, forcibly converting the population; and those that refused soon disappeared altogether. The Inquisition also served to be the final impetus to separate Ashinthael from Menelmacar after their growing rift, and the two finally severed all ties with each other. Ashinthael found itself fully within the Imperium, the Yellowist claimant to the Menelmacari throne.

This fracture also served to create a rift between the dragons of Ashinthael and their riders. The dragon population had long ago distanced itself from their origins with the Infernals, but with the arrival of the Cult of Yellow soon found themselves slipping once again towards the gods of darkness. While no direct rebellion occurred, there was a growing separation of dragon and rider, and the once deeply-connected bond that they shared soon dissolved. Unfortunately for the dragons, the response from the Ashinthalers was to tighten their grip on the dragons, forcing them into submission through sheer force.

Part IV: Shadefall

As the Yellowists seemed poised to spread like a virus across Micras, they were shocked by the arrival of an unforeseen enemy. In the central steppes of Apollonia, barbarian forces had been gathering and coalescing into a single, vast army. These people were known as the Slobs, distant relatives of the Crandish people to the north. Moving from the central steppe to the plains of the northeast, they slammed into the borders of Ashinthael like a battering ram, taking the locals by complete surprise. At the same time the Ashinthalers were further caught off guard by the sudden revolt of the dragons and their flight into hiding. This decimated the Ashinthaler military, allowing the Slobs to advance into Teir'Dal.

Unknown to the public, Menelmacar had been secretly waging a clandestine war against the Yellowists. An elite group of Menelmacari warrior assassins infiltrated Cultist territory and made it to the Temple of Radiance where they confronted the Archetype. After a bloody conflict and suffering heavy losses, Assassin Sindarin Illune managed to kill the Archetype and destroy the temple in a massive explosion, severing the Cult's ties with Muza. This resulted in the complete collapse of the Imperium and Collective Unconsciousness. But the loss meant the complete withdrawal of all support for Ashinthael, who found themselves suddenly all alone on a hostile continent.

Within a few short months all of Ashinthael's defenses crumbled and the Slobs invaded. The Slobovian King, Troias, seized control of Ashinthael and renamed it Heathersland. For the next several centuries the Slobovians would reign over Ashinthael and keep its people in subservience. The only positive result of the invasion was the severing of ties with the Cult of Yellow, whose adherents retreated into the shadows. It began to dawn on the Ashinthalers that they'd been duped by powers of darkness bent on using them as pawns. But the realization came too late, and Ashinthael continued to be the pawn of foreign occupiers, perhaps, as some say, in karmic penance.

Part V: The Penitent Men

Ashinthael would remain the thralls of barbaric powers for many years. At first under the Slobovians, but as time passed under other migratory tribes. The second wave came in the wake of the establishment of another large Apollonian power, Lovely. The Lovelians quickly took over much of the central continent, allying with local tribes to bolster their massive army. One such tribe was known as the Hobs, who with the support of Lovely pushed out the Slobs and established sovereignty over Ashinthael. The Kingdom of Hoboland survived only so long as it was supported by Lovely, and when they collapsed the Hobs soon found themselves fighting amongst themselves as petty warlords sprung up and the state descended into civil war. As the Hobo state collapsed the vacuum was filled by a fledgling power to the north known as Gralus.

While the barbarian tribes had little concept of magic besides primitive ceremonial rites, the Gralans were deeply-rooted in the arcane and when they conquered the Teir'Dal corridor they brought with them a return to the old ways. The St. Nova Academy in Novatainia became the pre-eminent school for magical instruction, and many Ashinthalers strove to achieve grades adequate to enroll. But the stigma of their misuse of magic during the reign of the Yellowists tarnished their reputation, and although there was no official bias even written in stone, the academy made sure that enrollments from the wasteland hills were few and far between. Ashinthael would remain under the auspices of Grails for nearly a hundred years, from 1537 to 1615 AN. While Ashinthael ceased to exist, its people survived and continued to learn magic, although they remained all but alienated from the dragons, who continued to seek refuge elsewhere.

Part VI: The Four Year Journey

After the western collapse of Gralus, Ashinthael was occupied by petty warlords. The last royal, King Sindari, rallied the local tribes around the Marble Palace and launched a crusade to reclaim the kingdom. His initial successes led many to believe he would achieve his objective and reunite the kingdom, ushering in a new golden age. Within a year he re-took the Ash Fort and raised an army of loyalists, but lacking the air superiority provided by the dragons they were relegated to cavalry. Over the next four years he expanded his realm around the fort and palace, but became unsatisfied with the rate his realm was expanding. In 1618 he gathered a large force of mounted knights and marched west, hoping to reach the shore and establish a harbor fort which would allow weapons to be imported. He made it as far as the sea, near present-day Slograde, but was killed in action while fighting pirates. Ashinthael soon plunged into chaos as petty lords vied for control of the throne and the Queen and infant heir apparent went into hiding. By 1619 the brief resurgence of Ashinthael had burnt itself out in a bright but brief flame. Except for the rise of Crowsilver in the west, the hills of Ashinthael would remain divided until 1705.

Part V: Heart of the Dragon

In the late 1620s a widow living a lowly life in a hovel, deep in the woods of the Ashlands, was raising her son as a single mother living off the land. At this time Ashinthael was a barbarous land filled with roving bands of mercenaries and petty warlords trying to dominate each other. Life was harsh, and the common folk did their utmost to avoid notice. It was a successful year if their crops hadn't been looted and their home burnt down. Luckily for Lilieta, she had constructed her rude home of stone and thatch far away from anyone else. Even the nearest village was several miles away. Thus she was spared the worst of the pillaging. Her son, Irian, was also thus spared the worst of the ordeals, and grew up enjoying the country life and natural world that surrounded him.

As Irian matured into a man, his mother likewise grew old and eventually came to the end of her life. On her deathbed she revealed to him that he was the infant crown prince who had been scurried away into hiding after the death of King Sindari. In the course of her revelation she implored the young Dorian to avoid the path of his forebears and seek to reconnect Ashinthael with nature, especially the dragons, who had remained in hiding since their revolt against the Yellowists. She charged him with finding a way to reconcile the people of Ashinthael with the dragons, and return the kingdom to the old ways when life was harmonious with nature. She then departed this world for the next, leaving the mystery to be solved by her son. Thus Irian began the quest for the heart of the dragon.

Government and Politics

Ashinthael is an absolute monarchy with all executive powers vested directly in the King. To help with the day-to-day administration, the king keeps an advisory court known as the Council of Elders. The Elders are appointed to the council by the King, typically based on merit or service to the kingdom. A lower legislative body known as the Teirwald (Dark Council), also appointed directly by the King, is vested with drafting and codifying the laws of the kingdom. The Teirwald is a clandestine group composed of ethnic Menelmacari who keep their identity hidden so as to be considered truly neutral and unbiased in their decision-making.

Administratively the kingdom is divided into "holds", territorial districts that are governed by a Lord Holder. The position of Lord Holder is appointed directly by the King, often with guidance from the Teirwald. Most often the title is granted in response to distinguished military service to the kingdom (for new holds) or by bloodline for established holds. The King may, in rare instances, overrule a blood heir and appoint another as Lord Holder; but this is very rare. Several of the more prominent holds include Greyloch (the King's personal hold), the Elkshire, Slobenberg and Ashland. Holds have designated roles within the greater community of the kingdom. For example, Slobenberg is responsible for much of the industrial output of the nation, and supplies the other Holds with mechanical equipment.

Major Holds
Hold Capital Role
The Palatinate The Marble Palace Administrative
Summit Bascomb Military
The Spine Dannemoor Raw Materials
The Ashlands Ash Fort Agricultural
Slobenberg Slograde Industrial
Elkshire Villae Raw Materials
Hyllandor Treythril Agricultural
Valaris Silveria Industrial

See also: Foreign relations of Ashinthael

Culture

Ashinthaler society is built around a strong relationship between people and dragons, the latter of which have become naturalized to the region after several millennia of existence. Dragons survive exclusively in the Teir'Dal Wasteland and the only other known population on Micras is in Ralgon and the Hexarchy. The relationship between a dragon and its human rider is one that evolved over two-thousand years of co-existence. Thus this symbiotic relationship is heavily ingrained in the society of Ashinthael.

Dragonology

The relationship between people and dragons in Ashinthael stretches back several centuries to when the first men began arriving in the heretofore-unpopulated Teir'Dal Wasteland. Up until that time, the area was overrun with wild dragons who had laid waste to the forests and left the land a smoldering ruin of ash. This had the effect of reducing natural prey so that the dragons had begun to starve to death due to the ecological collapse they precipitated. As a non-native species they had effectively become invasive. This was the scene that the first settlers came upon when entering the region. But the stalwart Ashinthalers, undeterred, saw potential where others had turned back in dismay. Sir Warvius was the first to capture a wild dragon and tame it. Soon he was leading other knights in capturing and taming dragons. Within a few years they had also mastered the art of using them as steeds, becoming the first Dragon Knights. Warvius eventually became King of Ashintully and led the Dragon Knights in capturing most of the wild dragons and developing a balance with the local ecosystem so that nature could repair itself from years of degradation.

Magic

Dating back to the days of Menelmacar, and even before that the Infernals, magic has had a strong presence in Ashinthael. The tradition of magic-wielders continued into more modern times under Gralus but was briefly lost until the restoration of the kingdom. Magic and those who wield it is considered neither good nor evil; it can be either good or bad depending entirely on the person wielding it. In the wrong hands it can be deadly and as such is heavily regulated within the kingdom. The Department of the Arcane and Magical (DAM) is the governing body responsible for regulating magic within Ashinthael. Only licensed magic-wielders can practice, and then only within certain guidelines set out by the DAM. The DAM was formed as a continuation of policies and guidelines laid out by Gralus, whose careful management of magic helped to incorporate it lawfully into modern society. With the merger of Angsax into Lac Glacei in 1713, fears of violence against magic users spurred an exodus of people from Angsax to Ashinthael. Local jurisdictions have been overwhelmed with processing the newcomers, with such small towns as Villae calling on aid from the central government for assistance. So far the policy has been to welcome these refugees, but to carefully document each and get them started on a path to citizenship. One immediate benefit has been an increase in sales of magical items (wands, potions, etc) and a rapid growth in local industry thanks to the influx of labor in the otherwise-rural north.

Types of Magic

Magic-wielders, often referred to as Mages or Wizards, need to channel magic through careful mental and physical training, along with learning the alchemical sciences. It is a slow and often tedious process wherein the results do not often manifest until a person has studied for many years. Many mages can practice a variety of spells, but most deign to focus on a particular specialty. As such magic-casting is divided into four primary categories:

Physical Magic - The process of saying certain words, where certain physical actions/shapes with the caster's body produce a magical result.

Runic Magic - The carving of runes into things to enchant them - slow but lasts.

Potion Magic - The mixing of certain ingredients to make magical spells.

Musical Magic - The playing of certain melodies or styles and using music to control magic.

Religion

The official religion of Ashinthael is Soloralism, which was adopted back in the days when the kingdom was a client state of Menelmacar. Most Ashinthalers are magic users and thus are strongly connected with the Soloralist concept of the Empathi Field - a network of energized ley lines that crisscross Micras and can be tapped in to by those who are adept. They also follow the concept of the Quintessences, which can vary from person-to-person depending on the individual; meaning they can be used for good or evil.

In some remote corners of the kingdom there are those who still worship Muza and the dark gods of the Yellowist faith. But these are generally isolated to lone individuals living in remote and inaccessible areas.

Sports

Cuisine

The cuisine of Ashinthael is rather diverse, especially if comparing the food served in a city such as Slograde versus that served in a remote city such as Silveria. Slobenburg, for example, boasts a more diverse offering of ethnic plates from the many people who come and go in the port. But in the more rural areas the food tends to be more meat and potatoes type meals, often proffered fresh from the land itself. It is not uncommon for most people to hunt for their own meals and grow their own vegetables. Roast boar is especially popular at the Marble Palace (the leftovers often fed to the dragons as a treat). Fast food is virtually non-existent, as most of these industries have not expanded into Ashinthael yet. Only in Slograde and along the coast can one find something akin to a short order restaurant; but even these are much less prevalent than the pubs.

Demographics

The country has a total population of 4,521,000 citizens.

The following was the ethnic breakdown of the country, according to the 1691 census:

  • Ashinthalers: 2,905,331
  • Menelmacari: 980,472
  • Gralans: 333,091
  • Crandish: 198,802
  • Slobovians: 74,528
  • Unidentified: 28,776

Economy

Ashinthael's economy is still in a relative stage of infancy. Because of the the rural dispersal of the population across the country, industrialization has been slow to occur. Only in the major cities are there any signs of major manufacturing. As such most of the kingdom's exports are in the form of raw materials. Timber is one major export, while ores mined from the Dagoran Spine are another. Tourism is the third-largest source of income, with many coming to witness the unique dragons to the area. Most communities are self-sustained and therefore do not require a more globalized infrastructure of most modernized nations. As such Ashinthael does not engage in much external trade, instead focusing on internal development.

The national currency is the Thalmark and is pegged to the Glaceian Blanc due to the lower regional circulation of the former.

Infrastructure

Ashinthael's infrastructure can best be described as pre-industrial, mostly due to the region only recently coming out of years of barbarism and warfare. Industrialization had occurred in the past, notably during the heyday of Slobovia. However much of this fell into disrepair during the intervening years of anarchy and now only exists in ruined fragments. A general distrust of technology, spurred by a reliance on magic, has also slowed the renewal of an industrialized economy. The country also has a largely rural population spread out over great distances, leaving cities isolated and limiting trade. Most of the population resides within the major cities of the country, with the rest spread out in various hamlets or on large farms. The country is actively trying to connect to the Apollonian Express in order to increase trade and establish a stronger commerce network. Economic revenue is driven primarily by the country's unique alchemical/magical services; one of the few countries still actively practicing these arts. Although many offers have been made to purchase them, strict laws prohibit the sale of dragon eggs to foreign persons or entities.