|Colors:||Burgundy, gold & cream|
Timber Farming Matriachal Family Excellent Seafood Semi-Nomadic
|Nicknames:||The Free Wood|
Astravia is one of the Eelian Empire’s most prosperous provinces. It is located south of Piscena Bay and encompasses the region from the whole of the Nia Forest, south to the Black Hills at the foot of the Lillirond Mountains. Its largest city by the same name, Astravia, is positioned on the southern end of the Bay at the mouth of the Rio Ursus. This city is well known to rival (if not supersede) the capital of Vitalia in beauty and functionality. Astravia is also one of the oldest cities in the Empire, having been settled by one of Eelia’s Prime Noble Families - the Sostrate.
Astravia derives its name from the capital city of the province. Located between the Rio Ursus and the southern coast of Piscena Bay, it is the oldest holding within the Eelian Empire, existing well before the region was even named Eelia. Large stretches of the old stone wall of the founding fort remain standing and divide the old part of the city with its winding streets and narrow passages, from the newer side with wider streets and a more grid-like layout. F
Home to a vast commercial fleet and hundreds of warehouses and trade-houses, the Liberium Portum sees a great deal of traffic every year as well as a massive influx of exotic trade goods as well as a large number of exports funneled from various parts of the empire. Part of the seaport also connects to the river port along the Ursus. Near these ports are the heavily commercial districts and scattered throughout the city are numerous, large bathhouses as well as the innumerable public fountains for which Astravia is famous.
The origin of Astravia is wrapped in myth and shrouded in mystery, and separating fiction from fact is nearly impossible and everyon'e great-grandfather has a different version of the story, but one thing is certain, Astravia is ancient. Founded hundreds of years prior to the rise of Eelia, Astravia served as one of the original six holdings of the Ori Empire, and is the the only one of the original six that was continuously inhabited for all those centuries. First founded by Kleitos Sostrate as a military outpost, the history of Astravia and the Sostrate family are inexorably intertwined with the story of Eelia and her people.
Part of the legend is that the name Astravia is derived from Astraela, the name of the elvish wife Kleitos took upon settling the area. This seems supported by the long memory and oral tradition of the elves still found in the Nia Forest, who point to this event as the reason for traditionally excellent relations between humans and elves in Astravia, in spite of the dimsal record elswhere in the Empire.
Following the fall of the Ori Empire and the withdrawl of the Imperial Regent, what was then known as the Orien Regency of Eelia began to fall into decay and infighting. Astravia was somewhat safe from much of the chaos, in part due to its sheltered location between forest, mountains, and sea, and also in part due to its friendly relations with the local elvish population, who took advantage of the chaos in other parts of Eelia. These two factors did not prevent all pillaging and razing, but Astravians were always able to bounce back and rebuild.
Throughout the Monarchal Age, Astravian leaders managed to work through and around an increasingly totalitarian state to maintain a certain degree of authority within the realm. When finally the situation came to a head, Octavius Sostrate was one of the core nobles that plotted (and succesfully executed) the assassination of the King, leading to the Imperial Reclimation and heralding the Second Imperial Age.
It wasn’t until the beginning of the Second Imperial Age that Astravia truly began developing into the power it is today. During the Trade Wars, Tyrne Garrien Sostrate became one of the most polarizing political figures in Eelia. Having maintained the region’s uniquely independent stance and kept controversial and highly corrupt Labor Ministry offices out of Astravia, Garrien permitted the Tria Rosa guild to rebuild Astravia's old harbors as the first “Free Port” of Eelia. Because of this, the Sostrate clan, Astravia, and Tria Rosa still have strong ties and Astravia remains one of the largest, most lucrative ports in Eelia.
Garrien’s person is also surrounded by myth. Supposedly cursed by a corrupt priest for another one of his controversial decisions, for every generation after, the men of the Sostrate family were prone to disease and misfortune. Whether it was truly a curse, the changing life styles of the men, or bad blood from inbreeding is impossible to say, but it led to yet another development that would make Astravia unique amongst the realms of the Empire.
As Astravia developed strong international trading ties, it was no longer unusual for Sostrate men to start marrying foreign noblewomen. At the same time, as the typically hands-on male leaders of the family died young at sea, in war, or of illnesses (to which they were particularly susceptible), the Sostrate women emerged as political leaders at home and within three generations had developed a strong, matriarchal system within the ruling class of Astravia. Still, in the present age, it is not unusual to hear mutterings about curses should some misfortune fall one of the men of the Sostrate clan.
Today, Astravians remain fiercely loyal to the Sostrate name. They are highly egalitarian, proud of their ships, their families, and their land. The capital city of the same name is one of the largest, cleanest, and wealthiest in the Empire.