Sunlight Court, Starlight Court
Starlight Realm, Realm of Nature, Faraway Land
The second oldest city of the elves founded in the early days of the Old World, Arcadia. In the Old World Asrai was neighboring the Faery Kingdom. For this reason, when humans destroyed the Fae lands, the city extended an invitation for the exiled race to join them. Now, Asrai is known for the magickal power that steams from such a powerful alliance.
Asrai is a multicultural state occupying the northern parts of Evergreen. It shares a border with Nifredil to the north and Riv Amar territories to the south. The area is largely covered by a temperate forest, and is outlined by a long semi-tropical coastline to the west. The northernmost parts are covered by a perpetually snowy pine forest, and are uninhabited.
The city of Asrai, or "Asrai proper" as it is known by foreign cartographers, is built from porous, pale orange clay that is unique to the region. The clay is quite fragile, but resistant to erosion and is easy to move and shape, so construction is more of an art than a labor is Asrai. The style of architecture varies quite strongly depending on the building. Official and otherwise important buildings such as palaces, temples and walls tend to follow angular or otherwise geometrical forms, whereas private residences, shops and other private buildings can be shaped quite randomly and asymmetrically, all according to taste. Buildings of more than one floor are rare, because the clay is mostly used in thin layers and walking on such a layer could be dangerous. The buildings tend to have large, glassless windows and be generously decorated with plants and wooden carvings.
In communities outside of the main city, clay buildings are uncommon. Ranchers tend to build their cottages from wooden logs or planks. Certain smaller communities lead a mobile lifestyle and live in leather tents, caves or hollow trees.
The fae mostly live with elves, in part because their living space requirements are minimal, but also for social reasons. Sometimes, fey-only communities make a colony inside of a tree. The Starlight Court is different in this regard, and is one of the few groups of fae that has shown an interest in exterior decoration. While they also live in a great tree, they decorate it with various crystals and gemstones, using transparent tar as an adhesive. Over the years, the great tree has been almost completely covered in multi-colored, gleaming shards, and gained a rather surreal look.
Most of Asrai is on the warmer side of temperate, with a high humidity. The summers are hot, and the winters are rainy. For around one week per year, when the temperature barely dips below zero, there can be a snowfall; though the snow melts almost immediately. The coastlines are mostly tropical and never see snow, while the uninhabited borderlands near Nifredil are locked in perpetual winter.
Wood Elves - 72%
Efferii - 12%
Fae - 9%
Moon Elves - 5%
Other - 2%
Asrai is populated mainly by wood elves, fae, and assorted efferii from various tribes. Despite constituting only a tenth of the total population, the fae are considered to be a group equal to the wood elves in status. Groups of moon elven immigrants from Altamira and Riv Amar reside in the city, whereas the efferii are mainly found in the countryside. The fae are most often found living with wood elves; it is considered natural to accept a fey who knocks on your door and asks to spend a night or ten. Other races can be found in the city in modest numbers. Outsiders oftenmost choose to move to Asrai for personal reasons, so they do not form communities.
Asrai is a feudal society built on familial ties. Less than half of the total population is concentrated in Asrai proper, while the rest live in smaller communities scattered around the wildlands. These communities are composed of one or several families, and can take the form of either a ranch or a semi-nomadic hunter-forager tribe. These "countryside" communities are the main food producers of the realm. A tight trader network connects them to the city, where most of the craftsmen, artisans and other proffessionals are concentrated. The network upkeeps the flow of food from the countryside to the city, and the flow of other wares from the city to the countryside.
The realm is far away from potential dangers and has remained quite idyllic and untouched by global conflicts and technological progress for a long time. Disturbing news and advanced gadgets from foreign lands assuredly make their way here through the trade routes with Riv Amar, but the news is savored with a grain of salt, and the gadgets have failed to become popular. Asraian traditions have proven themselves resistant against outside influence, and have changed little since the city's founding in Arcadia several thousands years ago, despite the constant upheavals that have been going on in other parts of the world.
The unity between wood elves and fae has been central in the development of Asraian culture. Because fae are even more closely aligned to nature than elves, they often serve as translators of nature's will to elven druids. It cas become customary for elven children in general, and those who wish to become spellcasters in particular, to form a bond with a fairy companion who will teach them the ways of nature magic. In contrast to the moon elves of Altamira, who approach magic from a more scientifical angle, the wood elves of Asrai learn through feeling and intuition. Asraian druidism therefore differs from that of other elves, in the way that it is more feral and less organised, both when it comes to learning and practicing rituals. Regardless, the underlying philosophy of protecting and respecting nature is taken very seriously.
Asrai is a highly cosmopolitan society. All races are viewed as a part of nature, and even demons and undead can find a place here without being met with prejudice, as long as they don't cause trouble. Although solicited by Riv Amar and Altamira to join the war against humans on numerous occasions, Asrai still remains neutral as of today, mainly because they don't feel the urgency of the human threat yet.
Asrai is a feudal duarchy, where the heads of two separate families govern the nation together.
One of the families is the Asraian wood elven royal family, has an agnatic order of succession. The other family is the Asraian fey royal family, which has a matrilineal order of succession. There is always an elven king and a fairy queen, who have equal political status. They each have their own court: the Starlight Court of the Fae, and the Sunlight Court of the Elves. Their power and work are divided among them by agreement, and is not restricted to their own races. It is customary for them to meet regularly and exchange plans and advice.
The king and queen usually plan the kingdom's development together, set the projects into motion through the clique councils, and gather then reports from them. However, they may individually review cases that one of the four cliques puts before them. The cliques are loose councils that represent the interests of different social groups, and their work includes bringing the issues of that group to the duarchs' attention. Membership in the cliques is voluntary, and does not confer any notable privileges, so it is very fluid. The administrative cabinet of the duarch court is minimalistic, consisting mainly of scribes and messengers.
Through many generations, the elven and fey duarchy has shown to be a stable and harmonious government, something that would be unlikely if attempted by other races. The wondrous ability to avoid internal conflict altogether is one of the Asraian culture's great virtues.
This clique represent druids and other dedicated spellcasters of the realm. They report to the duarchs about how the realm's nature is maintained, about the proceedings of royal projects and other events pertaining nature, magic and public health, They also report messages from the Muse and other divine beings.
This clique represents the traders, innkeepers, granary and warehouse keepers, accountants, and other financial and service workers. They report to the duarchs about the collection of tribute from outlying communities, and about the proceeding of royal economical projects and eventual ware shortages. They also report messages from foreign powers.
This clique represents the craftsmen, artisans and peasants. They report to the duarchs about the proceesings of royal projects pertaining construction and agriculture. They also report about the maintenance of the infrastructure of the realm, including roads, bridges and buildings, as well as seagoing ships.
This clique represents the hunters, foragers, forest wardens, and the militia. They report to the duarchs about the security of the realm.
Law & Crime Edit
Asrai has no written law, and the definition of crime is very loose. Each member of the community is expected to know right and wrong, and can be brought before a court if he or she has broken the silent rules. The court consists of locally elected druid elders. Punishements can involve lashes, curses, or exile, depending on the severity of the transgression. There are no prisons or dungeons, and no death penalty. The rare fae transgressors can only be punished with curses, as it is considered abhorrent to physically punish such frail creatures, or exiling them from the land they share a deep magical bond with.
Some of the things that are generally considered serious crimes are assault, murder, pollution or destruction of nature, theft of magical and religious artifacts, and breaking of oaths. Other cases are left up to individual judgement of the druids. Order is enforced by members of the militia, or where such cannot be found, independent vigilantes.
Curses are by far the most popular punishment method. Their effects and length vary with the severity of the crime, as well as the imagination and magical skill of the druids who judge. Some of the more common ones include depriving the criminals of one of their senses: Curse of Silence, Curse of Blindness, and so on. Some druids get more creative, for example Curse of Honesty, under which a person cannot lie at all, or Curse of Kindness, which prevents the person from refusing when asked for help with something. As a rule of thumb, curses can never be placed permanently. For very severe crimes, exile is considered instead.
Asrai has military alliances and trade relations with other elven cities, including Riv Amar and Altamira. There are also close historical, political and ideological ties and sympathy between the three cities.
Asrai has friendly relations with Neferdrim.
Asrai has strained relations with Howldon.
Asrai has no diplomatic relations with Malekith, Salem, Pent-Vael and Grimrah or any state outside of Kyrheim.
Asrai is not at war with any state.
Being a feudal state, and employs a version of the feudal conscription methods. There exists no standing army, but there is a voluntary militia corps always present and training in the city, under the supervision of the Sunlight Court. In peaceful times, the militia is mainly used for border patrol and the upholding of public order in the city. In times of war, additional soldiers can be drawn from three additional sources. The noble houses are obliged to provide a number of fully equipped family members, depending on the size and weath of the house. The druid circles are obliged to provide a certain amount of combat-capable spellcasters, also depending on the ability of the individual circle. And finally, the hunter guilds are obliged to provide a certain number of capable archers each.
Asrai has not seen war in a long time, and its military is obsolete in its entirety. Employing only bows, swords and some offensive magic, with no cavalry or technological support of any kind, the Asraian army would fare very poorly against humans on an open front. However, if fighting in their own forest and using guerilla tactics, their chances are not as unfavorable.
There is also a navy, mainly used for fishing and trade, but that can be mobilised. The ships are mainly Arcadian-era sloops and are not much to look at, being armed with a ballista and a contingent of archers at best. It is obvious that they would not put a scratch on a human battleship made of steel. However, there is one major advantage for Asrai. The elven druids, as well as fey mages, are still in their own element when out at sea. In a conflict, they would be more than able to manipulate the waters and weather to consume an enemy navy regardless of how heavily armed it is.-- Royal Seal 19:11, August 4, 2013 (UTC)