Referred to as "the menagerie", Aselia Astra boasts a number of intersecting phenomena. First, willing travelers must traverse the canyon road, Tempus Vel Memoria - the only passable land road to the country. Guests of the airship ferries that are stationed on the beach at the end of the road are greeted with the sight of the Aselia Astra islands flying roughly five hundred meters (one thousand six hundred forty feet), above the gulf waters -- three as large as mountains serving as the primary hub for and hundreds of smaller of chain islands. Some of the smaller islands are large enough to serve as estates or plots, and generally house the extremely rich, who must cross massive bridges and guard towers to access the main islands and thus, are rarely seen. From the beach or the water, masses of the darkroot vine systems dress the drab stone cities with greens and purples. Within the city walls, huge tunnels serve as bustling byways, softly cushioned with dry cave moss. The darkroot vines on the walls purify the air while drawing in excess moisture, allowing just enough for a dry moss to grow on the cave floors. As well, the vine-root system invades the lowest levels of the craggy, jagged underside of the islands, hanging down almost halfway to the water's surface.
The three main islands represent three distinct sister cities, including a sizable merchant quarter, demvir facilities, and a booming recreation district with a stadium arena. One island boasts the serene blooms of the Medda's Grove rooftop gardens, where high-ranking officials live. Sea-facing living chambers vary in the number of rooms and often have large port windows, walls missing that allow tenants to look outside; somewhat wealthier residents prefer chambers away from open air spaces, gently lit by bioluminescent plants and torches. Placement may also dictate that port windows overlook distant rotundas where the streets also overlooked the gulf waters.
Most of the tiny islands remain unclaimed, save for the presence of two animal species: chimera cubs and meeps. The gentle creatures cohabit in large numbers across the island chain and are protected by the government under threat of heavy penalty. The odd pairing will nest together in tiny caves and even along the darkroot vine network. Perhaps the greatest evidence of their bond, is the meeps' proclivity for swooping down to the bay and bringing back fish for the chimera to eat. Fortunately, their numbers seem to naturally balance around the presence of citizenry and are treated well, thanks to their collective easy-going disposition.
Parva et Magna
The nation's military police are an elite group, maintaining a strict grip on pervasive crime. They are predominately headquartered in the main living areas, with stations and guard-posts in other strategic deployment points. To their credit, in addition to heavy-handedness, the military police are surprisingly forgiving for small offenses. Recognizing that they could also be branded as criminals, the first council adopted a policy of conditional leniency, usually when repentance before the council or any official audience was deemed genuine. This eventually came to include officers in the military, and heavier offenses came with much heavier punishments. It is often overlooked that the death penalty is technically still legally in the hands of the government. As a modern military organization, it is also assumed that measures have been installed for fair trial and equitable interrogation tactics.
Despite any public perception, it is a persistent and well-advertised fact that the three thousand spearman and women of the Aselia Astra military police, were nobly formed to repay the demvir if ever Eleutheria requested aid. To join the military, knowledge of the spear is a requirement, and candidates for advancement are commonly those who seek out other useful skills - magic, or otherwise. To date, Aselia Astra's Parva et Magna ("small yet mighty") has never been called upon.
Establishment & History
The Aselia Astra nation was established more than three hundred years ago, when the empire abandoned its terra regia mining colony, Seos Odveta. The flying islands had previously held deep caches of the precious minerals, though few remain. When they refused to leave their home after decades of living in the mines, the velen citizens and their families united under Aselia Ascani, a warrior from the Glass Lake, declaring their independence from the empire. Aselia propagated an alliance with the demvir, who would save the withering community. After a few years of posturing, the empire eventually washed its hands of any claim to the curious flying islands and the new nation was affectionately called, "Aselia's Star." The benevolent demvir sponsorship was managed by a council of demvir and velen diplomats, and allowed for generous trade agreements, along with a strong mercantile presence. Shortly after its renaming, the council became a permanent fixture, leading and running their small nation as their highest echelon. One hundred and ten years later, the independent nation operates a small but vibrant culture populated by mostly velen and demvir, although there are always exceptions.