Astravia is one of the Eelian Empire’s most prosperous counties. 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 founding families - the Sostrate.
The origin of Astravia is wrapped in myth and shrouded in mystery, and separating fiction from fact is nearly impossible; 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 remains standing. Originally founded by Kleitos Sostrate as a military outpost, the history of Astravia and the Sostrate family is inexorably intertwined with the story of Eelia and her people.
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,
Throughout the Monarchal Age, Astravia's 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.
However 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, 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 Trias Rosa still have strong ties and Astravia remains one of the biggest, 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, developed a strong, matriarchal system within the ruling class of Astravia. 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.
The Nia Forest is a dense forest and home to many harrowing tales and local legends, however for the Astravian it is rich in various types of trees for lumber and a wide array of useful flora and fauna. However when centuries of deforestation and prolific hunting began take its toll and clog the vital Rio Ursus, local and regional leaders began instituting regulated hunting and lumber harvesting seasons in segmented parts of the forest. These usually rotate every 10 to 15 years and so those living in the forest tend to live semi-nomadic lives.
The South Plains are rich lands that cover nearly a third of Astravia’s landscape. Again, due to millennia of habitation, the over taxed farmlands started becoming barren and people were often forced to migrate in order to find arable land. As such, the Plains are dotted with several abandoned and inhabited settlements amongst which the population rotates every 10 years or so. Re-inhabited settlements are cleaned up, refurbished and Verdies (ver-dei-us ) the moving day, is considered a great holiday, a chance for new beginnings across Astravia. Fortifications are the only fixedly populated places in the area.
The Black Hills are named such for their intensely dark earth. Geographically the foothills of the Lillirond Mountains, these hills mark the southern edge of Astravia territory. This is a well-known wine country, but most of the region is still relatively uninhabited.
The southern Piscena Coast has fairly calm waters and several natural harbors. Piscena Bay sees a heavy amount of sea trade and many of these ships can easily dock at any number of ports that dot Astravia’s coast. However the northern third of the peninsula is controlled by Porton.
The Ori Sea Coast is a significantly longer coastline for Astravia. The northern coast is dotted with trade harbors and fortifications, though due to its long, sandy beaches, it more often serves as a popular vacation spot where people can also partake of the best seafood in the empire. The further south one goes, the more prolific fishing villages become.