In terms of physical diversity, especially of flora and fauna, the single best place to look for such is the jungle country of Rasaal.
A wide country covered by lush vegetation, Rasaal has sea borders on the east and west, with Arlatene neighboring to the north, and Nyret to the south.
A country of heat, humidity and foliage, it is home to a wide variety of animals, plus a large diversity of the Nagan races, alongside a strong presence of Men. The lifestyle of most inhabitants remains similar regardless of locale, with major differences coming only in culture, as Rasaal’s climate varies relatively little over the course of a year.
Rasaal is an up-and-coming economic power, boasting a range of new installations to enable it’s growing presence on the world stage. Seaports and airdocks are steadily making the country more accessible, though the presence of the Savage Edge on the northern border is still defying any attempts to be tamed.
Major Settlements (Mankind)
Capital: Ruthor Sundi (’Wide Gathering Place’); Palace: Kir Casta (’Sky Building’)
Old Capital: Moni Sundi (’Gifted Place’)
North City: Hiscun Sundi (’Exposed Lonely Place’)
South City: Absta Sundi (’The Strong Place’)
South West City: Casta Sundi (’Building Place’)
South Central City: Nuevi Sundi (’Hidden Place’)
East City: Lirin Sundi (’Sea Place’)
West City: Kista Sundi (’Sheltered Place’)
Major Settlements (Nagan)
Yamanagu: Inemis Bok
War between Men and Nagu has raged in Rasaal since the initial conquest by Regus Colel, some centuries ago. The bulk of this fighting, beyond the usual issues of differences between the Nagan species and Men, was spawned from the heretical treatment (by Nagan standards) of local religious antiquities and theft of cultural items by the invading force. From this initial act of aggression, centuries of continued fighting followed with further ire building up on either side.
Thankfully, the induction of a new ruler to Rasaal finally brought some peace within the last decade, and a surprise unification of Men and Nagu into what is now known as the Ever Empire. Thanks to this unique and equal peace, all Nagan settlements are considered as important as human ones… which is good considering the Nagu technically live in more places than Men do, with their greater adaptation to Rasaal’s flora and fauna.
Water: With the prevalence of moisture in Rasaal, distribution of water to most settlements is a simple and local affair. It is only in the major cities that any complex works are needed, mostly to separate incoming clean water from nearby rivers and stream, from dirtied water flowing out. Recent improvements to the infrastructure of Rasaal have added filtration systems to a majority of reservoirs and managed systems.
Food: Rasaal has ideal soil for a plethora of plants, and an extremely long growing season in the mid-line of the country. Farms tend to be less formalized and industrial in scale than in some places, save for two crops: sugar cane, and the Tlaki tree.
Cattle farming is less common than in, say, Arlatene or Wessenland, but hunting forms a staple part of the food chain even for major cities. As a result, Rasaal has strict laws on hunting seasons and locations to ensure the long-term viability of prey stocks. Nagan rangers make excellent enforcers of these laws, even in the most dense jungle outside the settled zones.
Law Enforcement: Rasaal has been through a recent period of social change within it’s borders, and thus the previous law enforcement of individual cities (under the command of the local city head) has been replaced with a national force.
Police in Rasaal have dedicated buildings to operate out of, and are strongly differentiated from the National and Royal guard. Their remit is purely prevention, detention and investigation, all in line with the new laws enacted after the country moved its capital to Ruthor Sundi.
Policing technically extends into the jungle proper via the game wardens, who are considered to have the same authority as their city-based cousins.
Fire: In urban areas, fire prevention is a high priority, however due to the damp nature of most of Rasaal, or at least the easy access to water for dousing accidental fires, the priority is less than it may be in other regions of Hevna. As a result, while cities have dedicated fire services, most smaller settlements do not, and everyone bands together on the few occasions a response might be needed.
Utilities: Rasaal provides the usual gamut of services, though they draw a lot of their gas supply from shale deposits around the country. Electricity is the newest technology pleasing the people, services beginning to be laid in to the renovated cities across the country.
Rasaal also makes great use of its natural resources, with water mills and steam power in many areas of life, and a unique mastery of water-screws.
While important utility lines, like gas, has aetheric warding on them, Rasaal’s human towns have taken an unusual stance about other warding, and actually have far fewer protections of this nature throughout their settlements.
Finally, Rasaal also has an extensive waste control system within its cities, while the smaller settlements beyond all have their own habits and services, sometimes down to routines on a family-by-family level.
Rasaal was founded on military action, when a force of conquest from Arlatene marched across the land some centuries ago, subjugating the few native Men within the jungle, and repressing the Nagu.
Following this conquest, Rasaal broke itself into several major cities, led by the generals of the force, under the united banner of King Regus Colel, who had led the invasion. Under his rule, cities were permitted, if not outright required, to maintain a standing force of men for military purposes, which mostly came down to fighting with the native Nagu.
In the centuries since, this maintenance of forces of arms by regions had descended into a general state of unreadiness across the country as a whole, with all areas concerned only with local domestic fighting.
This has changed in recent memory, however, with the social restructuring of the entire country. The latest ruler of the Colel line has enforced a unification of armed forces, with new training regimes, and while the size of Rasaal’s Army, Navy and Air Force is but young, it is organizing itself very quickly.
Rasaal’s military is perhaps of most note though for its integrated use of Nagan soldiers alongside Men, and acceptance of certain Nagan tactics into their basic training for all troops.
Unique Imports and Exports: Rasaal excels in exporting the exotic. Whether it is spices unique to the jungle, perfume made with the musk of the species living there, silken fabrics, sugar, or drugs, Rasaal has a wealth of trade goods at its disposal. It imports stone, aether technology and communications devices more than anything else, trading primarily with Wessenland, Arlatene, Keque, Gita, Helze and Nyret.
The country favors air-trade, despite the risk of pirates, as even raiders cause less damage than trying to circumvent some of the more dangerous waters around Rasaal, and the inhospitable regions of the Imyran Desert and Savage Edge.
Docks: Rasaals coastline is made up of small docks, with larger commercial docks at every major town and city on the shores. Fishing forms a strong backbone of Rasaal’s domestic markets, and while the country prefers air-trade, it is far from uncommitted to providing suitable docks for those ships which do visit its shores.
Airports: Rasaal favors airtrade, so it maintains significant airports in every major city, including the Nagan ones. That said, there are a lot less rural strips, thanks to how quickly the jungle likes to reclaim open land. Beyond the city ports, there is one more significant airport of note – the small airfield on the periphery of Rasaal’s Lodestone, which is visited regularly by people from all over the globe. Needless to say, the placement of the airstrip and rules for accessing it are extremely tight, to prevent accidents over the Stone itself (not least of which because aether ceases to work when close enough to the Stone).
Railways: Under the rule of Emperor Deimon, and the complications of a non-functional government system, adoption of rail technology simply hasn’t been possible. Without a strong economy to bid for the complex machines and raw materials, as well as the problems of Rasaal’s extensive and aggressive jungle plants that make even road maintenance a chore, rail travel was not something even on the table for discussion.
However, with a change in ruler from Deimon to his heir, and a massive overhaul of both the countries governance and economic stance, growth has exploded across Rasaal, and one can only assume that will soon mean in terms of rail links, too. Time will tell.
Currency: The Rasaalian Hekte (RAH). The Hekte is a derivative of the old Arlatian Hela currency. While the northern country has changed to the Florin, Rasaal maintains the older style coins, though with better uniformity and composition than the old Hela.
A Hekte is an octagonal coin, measuring 28 millimeters across at its widest point, with a 55% silver content. The Hekte is subdivided into Mena, Dena and Syli.
State Religion: Officially, exclusively Lodaism. While other religions aren’t banned by any stretch, all Rasaalian’s are Lodaists, with variance in the belief structure between Men and Nagu.
Visitors are welcome to practice their own faith, and some cities have outposts of Lights worship, but no mission has yet succeeded in budging the native populace from their belief system, which may simply come down to how ‘built-in’ the religion is to day to day life, and the fact Lodaism grants more holidays per year than its counterparts.
Conflicts: Historically, domestic conflict between Men (especially between layers of the class system) and Nagu has been a very serious problem for Rasaal, not to mention the regicide that came to define the jungle, prior to the recent restructuring.
Since the revival, however, domestic aggression has drastically receded, especially in terms of racial tension, in favor of pressures from outside the country.
While the very recent and significant military action in Rasaal is technically considered to have been ‘civil unrest’ after a change in ruler, there are rumors that this attempted coup was sponsored by a foreign power…
Alliances: Rasaal has no specific alliance with any other country at the present time, but has become a trade partner of significant strength to many nations. The value of Rasaalian sugar shipments is such that pirating the nation is very lucrative, but also very dangerous as Rasaals neighboring nations now protect the trade lanes outside its direct air and sea space.
Time will tell exactly who Rasaal choses to see as a more long term and close friend, though the current government seems in no rush to tilt the scales between Wessenland and Arlatene by throwing its own hat in the ring.
Manner of Rule: Rasaal has operated on a hereditary monarch system for centuries, since the conquest of Regus Colel. Eventually, this led to a system of regicide and political posturing within the government, which has only recently been brought to a sharp end by the current ruler.
Incorporation of Nagan councilors to positions of political power, as well as the adoption of a Nagu bodyguard for the ruler has done much to stabilize various elements of the hierarchy, as has a restructuring of the nobles from the races of Men, leading to a government all pulling together with their ruler for the first time in decades.
Sugar: Sugar cane is native to Rasaal, which is kind to those grasses which can compete with the other flora of the jungle. It could be said that sugar is therefore a super-grass, and it has certainly been super for Rasaal’s economy.
Favored and enjoyed in the country for centuries, the product is used by nigh all inhabitants of the jungle, and to make the characteristic Rasaalian alcohols loved the world over.
In recent years, progress in refinement and distilling processes have allowed sugar cane to be processed in a way that makes it ideal for export all over the globe, to the point that it is now the number one crop for new farms inside Rasaal, and almost single handedly responsible for the strengthening of the current economy for the Empire.
Papaver & Medicine: While the Papaver plant is not native to Rasaal, since its discovery as a pain medication and narcotic, it has been introduced very successfully to Rasaal’s fertile soil, and is counted among the countries exports. Papaver is the backbone of many treatments and surgeries the world over, and it could be said Rasaal has an addiction problem in many places thanks to how easily the plant grows.
The jungle is also a rich source for other medical plants, a fact science is only just beginning to realize as botanists catalog the overwhelming diversity of plants in the jungle, and their use by native peoples.
Building Materials: Stone is less common than in other Imyran countries, but wood is very easy to access and entire forests of preferred woods are managed to provide construction lumber. Rich inhabitants of the country often opt for stone flooring and fixtures, but all houses have stone fire places available to them for safety.
Bricks are a modern convenience on the rise, using the rich river clays of the jungle, however wood is often quicker and easier to harvest for most needs, with reeds for roofing. Nagu often Weave living plants to form certain buildings in their cities.
Healthcare: Healthcare is a personal issue for most Rasaalians. With a jungle of potential cures surrounding any and all settlements, local doctors are easy to find and self funded to help the sick. Even the Empires’ ruler simply defers to a preferred doctor, rather than scientific organization or hospital.
Disaster Relief: Natural disasters are almost a way of life for the jungle, however the largest cities do have evacuation plans in the event of something truly out of the ordinary.
Since the revitalization of the area, the government keeps a national emergency fund for recovery works, but it would take something truly catastrophic to warrant using it.
Generally, the people of Rasaal understand how fragile their homes can be, and rebuilding is not considered a major disaster in itself. Every major settlement has an agreed safe area to which the people retreat, especially during Aether Storms.
The Rasaalian Lodestone
Like the other six Lodestones around Hevna (in Adane, Letch, The Esian Desert, The Lode Islands, The Okan Islands & The Nostalian Snowflats), Rasaal’s most unusual and unique piece of rock has several remarkable features.
The Stone itself, under normal daylight during the Weft, is merely a very large gray monolith. Canted at an angle and surrounded by a shallow pond, it has few jagged edges, and a smooth texture across the bottom two thirds of it’s surface, before becoming pocked and rough toward the top. During the Spin/Warp, however, the edges and pocks of the stone light up in iridescent color, periodically sparking motes of light from these area in all colors of the rainbow.
This strange color projection is similar to phenomena described at other Lodestones, and like them, the Rasaalian Stone will also spark in the Weft, when human ashes contact the Stone.
In keeping with other Lodestones, the Rasaalian Stone seems to absorb any aether in the area near it, even during Storm seasons, and has a ‘scrambling’ effect on magnetism. Birds and animals avoid it, which may be due to how it interferes with homing instincts in these creatures, and only low growth plants seem to be able to sustain themselves within a half-mile radius of the Stone. Aether ships flying within this half-mile radius will spontaneously fail and crash, even wooden ships impregnated with latent aether.
The people of Rasaal venerate the Stone, especially the Kumonagu who believe their race was directly birthed from the Stone. The Lodaist Faith also venerates the Stone as the resting place of the Great Green Dragon, San. Due to this, there is a Lodaist Lodge constructed on the edge of the pool around the stone, with priests of all the races of Rasaal present. The greatest task this Lodge precedes over is the final funeral rite of Rasaal’s dead, when the cremated remains of a loved one are committed to the Stone.