New Ascya, Summary
New Ascya, officially the People's Republic of Askiilordia, is a small island nation located to the northwest of Myralis and within the Gulf of Claudius. The capital is Eliasin Skylandka, though the majority of the nation serves as a city state, with all settlements standing within close proximity.
As of the fourth decade of the second comet, the population of New Ascya had stagnated after a drawn out recession for decades, though is projected to climb to a steady point over the next few decades. With a current population of nearly 130,000, New Ascya peeked before the second comet with a population of 160,000. The majority of Ascyians claim residence within the capital of Eliasin Skylandka, with a projected 90,000 residents. Most Ascians speak Askiitch, the modern development of the ancient Ascyian language. Although, many residents of coastal settlements speak altered dialects, though all dialects are mutually intelligible. Nearly two-thirds of the population within Eliasin Skylandka work in the prestigious jewelry industry of New Ascya, which provides the island nation with approximately 85% of it's worth. While a large amount of jewelry is exported to other nations of the Ostarian lands, much of it remains in New Ascya's booming markets, serving as artifacts for holy matrimony under the eyes of the gods. Most New Ascyian residents are members of the Church of Aphellias, the most famed elder god who resided over the island in ancient times. Other churches are prominent within new Ascya, which stay true to more conservative and ancient Ascyian traditions.
New Ascya became inhabited by the masses after the Myralian forces, led by Darius Flavius, conquered the old Ascyian lands. Many Ascyians remained in their homeland, assimilating into Myralian culture, while others fled northward to the island within the Gulf of Claudius. The island had initially been known as The Hunting Grounds of the Gods, where the ancient Ascyians exiled their prisoners to. Upon arrival by boat after the end of the conquest, the Ascyians built camps, harvesting the nearby exotic crops. According to the Ascyians, they had been blessed by the rare appearance of Aphellias, who guided the people to great jewel deposits in the mainland, where Eliasin Skylandka would come to be.
Today, New Ascya exists as a holy ground to the people, the last refuge of their ancient culture. While much of their history still stands within Myralian lands, the Ascyians created a new land for themselves, independent of all other forces. New Ascya is notable for its jewelry trade, as well as its exports of exotic spices known only to grow within the island.
The Church of Aphellias, also referenced as the New church of Ascya, is the most prominent religion found within New Ascya with a devout following of nearly 155,000 members as of the 5th decade of the second comet. The Church of Aphellias is derived from the old traditions of Ascyian Faith, of which is the oldest non-dyndi religion known to the lands of Ostaria, and has greatly influenced the development of both Ascyian and Myralian civilization. As the church is relatively small, due to the small, in comparison to Myralis, population of Ascyia, only a few temples exist within New Ascya, though many small shrines can be found throughout the island. The Theos, the elected commander of New Ascya, also serves as the shepherd of the Church of Aphellias, who is said to speak the words of Aphellias himself. The Theos is based on Eliasin Skylandka, and so, is where all political and religious centers are sourced.
The Church of Aphellias sees itself as a part of the greater whole of the Ascyian Pantheon, with the elder god Aphellias as the representative of their faith. The Church of Aphellias demands that the elected Theos serves the people, and through the will of the people, forms a direct connection with their god. The Decree of Aphellias is the origin of the New Ascyian faith, although most traditions have been carried down by oral communication, and many beliefs may vary.
Instead of being transmitted through written text, Ascyian tradition is passed down through oral culture and heavily relies on ritualistic practices, with the elected Theos held responsible for bearing the role of executing the crucial act of public sacrifices to Aphellias. Certain locations such as shrines, public monuments, areas of woodlands, and the coast are all used as sacred outdoor locations for ritual activities, though indoor buildings for such activities were constructed near the dawning of the second comet, though they are not as widely accepted for important traditions. Those sacrificed would often either be burned alive, or burned after death, with their ashes placed in an urn. The practicioners then, create a ritual circle around the urn, placed upon the shrine, and release their energy into the urn, chanting their verses. After the ritual, the urn is then smashed, within, a crystalline gem from within appears. It is then placed within a lockbox, and buried under the shrine, joining many previous sacrifices.
The people of Ascya worship twice, daily, once upon waking, and once before public dinner or personal family meals. Once an Ascyian wakes, each morning, they walk to the nearest shrine to worship. Higher class individuals often have their own shrine within their residence, though these shrines are often shunned as disingenuous. At the shrine, Ascyians kneel, press their hands palm to palm, and bow, their head tucked down. They lower themselves to Aphellias, and beg for his forgiveness in any and all unholy activities they may have performed in their sleep, and they plead for a bountiful day of pleasures and good fortune. In the evening, before partaking in the public dinner, Ascyians again visit their nearby shrine, and repeat, then plead for a good night's rest.
In Ascyian daily life, Ascyians wake at the dawning of the sun to the call of a Myrmeis, a giant bird, that flies in small flocks over the skies of Ascya each morning. Ascyians immediately jump from their bedding, slip on their shoes, and walk to their nearest shrine for worship. This early lifestyle leads to a productive day, as after worship, each Ascyian has time to eat with their family, then hurry to work. Common professions include mining, fishing, jewel cutting, clothes sewing, leatherworking, and mead brewing.
Many workdays end during the time between high noon and the evening, leaving a bounty of time for an Ascyian to enjoy the rest of their day. This time is often enjoyed outside, whether hot or cold, dry, rainy, cloudy, or snowy. Ascyians enjoy walking the streets, bird watching on the beaches, shopping throughout the markets, and socializing with friends and family. Once, in some cases twice annually, Ascyians have the uncommon pleasure of witnessing a public sacrifice, taking place in the evening, just after public dinner. An even rarer occurrence, some Ascyians are blessed by Aphellias to participate in the ritual, or even perhaps be sacrificed themselves. It is considered an honor and a privilege to be sacrificed, as the individual chosen knows their life will bring great prosperity to their island nation of Ascya.
Once the workday has ended for all, there is a public dinner held at moonrise, for the wealthy and the poor alike, as everyone is welcome in Ascyian culture. There are many buildings hosting dinner throughout the night, sponsored by the elite of Ascya, giving back to the hard efforts of the citizens. Public dinner is optional, though attendance is urged, as it brings the community together. It is seen as a great outlet of socialization, and a way to meet new friends.