Fridays in AEthrem returns with disparaging news! Our astute and loyal viewer will have noticed that several weeks of this series have gone mysteriously missing - lost in transit to the airship docks of Koriden City for distribution to your local cinema! Investigation by the authorities continues - the suspected culprit? Sky pirates! While our faithful protectors strike back against this scourge of the air over Rasault, we struggle vigilantly to produce and distribute additional reports from our studios in Ban Nihara! Fridays in AEthrem will not be done in by these recent shortfalls!
In this week's episode, we travel to our own backyard, the Valerican Confederation. Once a cultural backwater, slowly occupied by outcasts from the west over three and a half centuries, the Valerican subcontinent has become a major world power. In the sixty years since formally gaining its independence, its influence has expanded to rival even those nations that founded the earliest colonies in Valerica!
The Sillindri Wildlands separate Valerica from western Pelifor. Combined with the inherent difficulties in water travel, this prevented settlement of this territory by humans (or the ghond culture before them) before the existence of the passage agreement between Thassyl and the native acilon of the Wildlands in 670 YF. Once an overland route to the subcontinent became available, colonies for the western powers boomed throughout the newly-open lands.
Most of the Valerican colonies were founded by Thassyl itself, Valerica's closest neighbor to the west of the Sillindri Wildlands. Nearly every major power in the west established a colony on the subcontinent, either paying heavy taxes to pass supplies back and forth through the Sillindri Causeway controlled by Thassyl or risking the myriad hazards of ocean transport: harsh storms, titanic and hostile sea creatures, and piracy. Despite its controlling power, every colony acted as a pressure valve for established society - gathering together a motley collection of outcasts and dissidents - political rivals, members of fringe religious groups, renegades or loners, and more than a few thandi fleeing persecution in their homeland.
For years the various, squabbling Valerican colonies were exploited by their founding nations, plundered for their rich and exotic natural resources. That came to an end when Thassylian colonies began openly revolting against the High King in 936 YF. Kingsland, the richest - and best defended - colony, was finally granted independence in 947 YF by a floundering Thassyl, overwhelmed by fighting rebellions on numerous fronts. Five years later, the Treaties of Confederation were ratified, creating the modern Valerican Confederation and its five provinces.
Of the five provinces, Koriden is the most well-known and the wealthiest. Renamed in honor of the rebel general Mirena Koriden (formerly Kingsland) following its liberation, Koriden covers the eastern terminus of the Sillindri Causeway, stretching across the southern coast of Valerica in the west. It is a temperate land, home to several long-established port cities. Chief among these is Koriden City - the provincial and national capital - famed for its towering skyscrapers, centers of learning, and the constant political and business squabbling among its elite. Koriden is also home to the longest-established and most famous venture companies, its cosmopolitan cities serving as an excellent hub for their unique business.
To the north and east of Koriden, Mirenfell Province varies from cool to frigid in temperature, stretching from mountains in the south and east all the way to the arctic. The mines of Mirenfell's mountains produce a vast bounty of coal, iron, and precious metals - many of the province's cities are constructed within the depleted upper level of mines. Passes through the mountains in the province have made it a crossroads for road and railway traffic within Valerica - material passing from the eastern Provinces to Koriden for export. In recent years, heavy industry has become centralized in the province to benefit from rail shipments. However, it is most well-known for corruption - its an open secret that the government in Mirenfell operates at the whim of the Gavierna, a criminal syndicate founded by the earliest refugees from Exelos to work in the province's early mines.
Giltlund is a pastoral province to the east of Koriden and Mirenfell, dominated by rolling hills covered in temperate native grasses and farmland. The earliest settlers to the province were Pathists, a divergent sect of the Church - its followers preferring a simple and agrarian life, isolated from the outside world. Later settlers established their own farms and ranches - Pathists and these outsiders rarely mingle and both steer well clear of the decadent "city folk" from the few larger cities in the province. Giltlund was once home to a significant population of ss'ra at the height of their culture, and numerous ruins remain of their former cities, especially on the eastern coast. Numerous small ss'ra communities still dot the grasslands, and a few are still hostile to human settlers.
Between Giltlund in the north and Amprissa in the south, Rasault is traditionally viewed as a navigational hazard more than anything else. Rasault is as arid as Giltlund is lush, arid deserts and scrub waste covering most of its surface, making it the least populated province in Valerica. This wasn't always the case, as the province is full of ss'ra ruins. It has become a popular destination for treasure hunters - either seeking legendary ss'ra artifacts or natural deposits of precious gems, which are sometimes found by prospectors in the wastes. In recent years, these prospectors have stumbled upon an unexpected treasure, finding massive oil deposits within the province - resulting in a boom economy for the region. The plateaus of central Rasault offer a perfect staging point for the second largest business in the province: air piracy. From isolated airstrips, criminals can easily plunder shipments of locally-harvested oil or shipments of trade goods passing from Amprissa.
Amprissa is a broad crescent of land occupying the far southeastern shore of Valerica. The tropical province once hosted ss'ra cities and, later, a scattering of Otaran colonies. For reasons the Beryl Throne has never revealed, Otaru abandoned Valerica around the time colonists began expanding into it from the west. Ban Nihara, the provincial capital, was built on the remains of the largest Otaran settlement in the area, covering the mainland and several islands, all connected by bridges and water taxis. An entire island in the city now serves as an embassy for Otaru, and goods from the continent to the south flood into Amprissan ports. The province is also home to two of the newest industries in the world: aircraft production and film production. Both originated within Amprissa, and it has since become famous for both.
The Valerican Confederation has leveraged its unique resources to great profit since its founding, new local corporations growing by leaps and bounds from the profit. It is also the birthplace of the airplane - the most talented and established manufacturers in the airplane industry still calls Valerica home. In recent years, the Confederation has also come to a trade deal with the inscrutable and isolationist continent and Empire of Otaru, with exotic items from that land flooding into its local markets on a scale not seen before. Immigrants have been flocking to Valerica for years to benefit from its expansion and development.
Today, Valerica is poised to become the dominant power in the world, if it isn't torn apart from within. Shadowy forces struggle for control of the rapidly-growing nation - policians, crime syndicates, captains of industry, and secret societies. At the same time, spies and saboteurs operate within Valerica on behalf of foreign powers to undermine the Confederation from within. While always known as a free and democratic society, life within Valerica could change suddenly if the balance between these forces were to shift to far in any one direction.
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