Largest City: Vanta
Official Language: Aweti
Head of State: The 8 Flames
Official Representative: The Ambassador of Aprax
Official Governing Body: The 8 Flames
Head of Military: Flame of Conquest
Wizard Population: 14%
Economy: Varies (Overall Decent)
Early in recorded history, when magical theory was forming and its concepts were still simplistic, the Island of Aprax was hard at work forging their weapons. A people who lacked almost any aptitude for magic, their first expedition to the mainland was an immense cultural shock; the explorers returned to report all that they'd seen along with a handful of magical manuals. It wouldn't be long before they returned to the mainland and this time it was their turn to shock the world. Aprax had invented Holder Magic. Many of Aprax's people migrated and with them the secrets of Holder Magic became well known and commonplace. However Aprax descended into anarchy. The small tribal villages that were still there waged war constantly with their newfound abilities, whole family and clans were wiped from the board. With each peace treaty or alliance another splintering group started shedding blood. Added to them are the people who came to Aprax in order to mine their ore deposits for magic weapons and items. Eventually it became too much and one clan sacrificed themselves to end it. Turning all of their souls and bodies, thousands of lives into Erthanano energy which was poured out into eight vessels, the last of their clan. These immense powers banded together and became known as the 8 Flames. They nearly burned the island to ash, the island shook, lights could be seen even from the mainland and blood ran deep. Everywhere they went, together or alone, they sent the same message again and again; either end the wars or we'll end them by ending everyone. In the face of these absolutist demands the 8 Flames found themselves to be widely popular; those who wanted peace gladly followed them, those who respected strength bowed down to them, those who wanted power found in them a measure of strength, invaders and leeches were pushedto the oceans and expelled forever and the rest either lay down their weapons or held onto them until death. Eventually the 8 finally brought the majority of the country to heel. Unsure what else to do, they returned home followed by their new nation. It was at Dralo that the nation of Aprax was founded. They used their immense power to heal their country and helped to secure their borders. For almost 40 years Aprax experienced a healing and then a golden age; the Flames split and each worked on different ideas in different regions of their country in order to maximize their ability. Where disagreements existed the 8 would meet and discuss which worked for about 10 years, till they came to an impasse. It was decided to avoid a civil war that the two disagreeing sides would come to blows with the winners getting their way. This rule was the first, more would come a set of commandments that limited the Flames. But outside of these rules, there were none. The Flames did as they pleased right up until they reached old age. In order to make sure that the peace would live past them they would drain their power into 8 super structures known as the Sacred Flames which would necessitate the city of Oretin. When a Flame dies, their power is absorbed by their flame along with all their ideals and beliefs. It's this combined spirit that chooses the next host, based purely on those who came before. In order to be chosen two conditions must be met. 1) They must already be highly accomplished individuals, this is due to the fact that without being properly prepared, the body of the wielder would breakdown every time they attempted to use their newfound power. 2) They must be present on the island 3 days after the last user dies to be considered for that is when the power chooses its next host. This has been the way of Aprax for centuries; like any nation they've had their share of failures and struggles, but the history of Aprax has hundreds of stories in which the Flames have single handedly shaped Aprax's history. Aprax has faced more than one invasion for its resources, and it has never faced a permanent defeat.
Aprax is an enormous island nation north of the continent. A dormant volcano in the north-most point, is largely theorized to be the source of the landmass known as Aprax. The country is a mass of savannas that's littered with large hills. Whatever eruptions happened before created plenty of earth and the nutrients required for them to grow. It also brought to the surface reserves of rare minerals that were terrifyingly effective in creating holder type items for mages to use. Years later it was found that these were specks of sand compared to the desert of ore underneath. The natural magic that creates and maintains these ore deposits also keeps the earth lush as well as heals the damage done to it more readily. As a result Aprax's lands are vibrant year round and boast almost no scars from the wars perpetrated time and time again. The final notable terrain feature is entirely man-made; numerous hidden runes circle the island as well as major cities and settlements. These are largely defensive in nature and can be activated by high ranking inhabitants of the island; a necessary defense given the island doesn't boast too many natural defenses.
Aprax is a country of name recognition. What used to be hundreds of clans, groups and alliances were brought to heel all at once by the Flames. But most people never forgot their family names and bonds. A man's last name holds as much weight in Aprax as guild association does in Fiore, who your father was, his deeds, debts and favors owed him all pass down to family members. Yet family is not necessarily blood; it is a fairly common occurrence to treat adopted children both in childhood and older age as well as children by marriage as indistinguishable from the original. Individualism is not a thing common to Aprax, what one does reflects directly to family and those who stray far enough as to be cut off from family are regarded as anomalous. The wellbeing of one's family is of the utmost concern. This also makes many of them self-governing; when one of their own cause issues, they make it a point to bring them back or in the worst cases, bring them down. The people of Aprax are largely built around the activities of mining, runecraft, smithing and contest.
Contests are the activity of Aprax. The 8 Flames are chosen at least partially based on strength. The weapons, armor and objects made of Apraxian ore are super effective at channeling magic and creating magical items. However Apraxians are notorious for their inability to use anything beyond holder magic; perhaps as a counter to the natural resources they were blessed with their magic manifests best through these items. Thus they relied on weapons and tools to win where others might make use of magic. Across Aprax many competitions that cover the other 3 major areas are held yearly. The best smiths, the greatest rune-crafters and the mightiest champions appear in contests constantly. The most common type of contests are direct combat (whether as teams, solos, gauntlets, etc). Because of this, the country has developed many weapons and ways to fight with them, some fairly common others known only by a few. Most Apraxians are skilled in at least one style which, in times of stress, means most of the nation has the potential to be a standing army. The biggest of these tournaments is held in Vanta every year.
Before opening their friendly relations with Ca-Elum, the people of Aprax learnt to forge their own weapons. While most retain the skill well enough, they are nowhere near the masters of the sky city. What it does give them is access to forge technology in exchange for some of their ore. Many of the large cities have fully operational blacksmithing operations, even the smaller ones have a well maintained forge or two. The care of weapons is due to the fact that Apraxians have been known to grow attached to their weapons, some of which have been in their family lines for centuries. It's been said that the longer they exist the more power they have, but outside of a few specific items this claim has never been proven concrete. Regardless Apraxians treat their weapons with care, passing them on for as long as possible or failing that using their shattered pieces to forge a new one. And all of this is made possible with Apraxian ore. Found within the endless tunnels below, the economic and military power of Aprax rests on this single metal. Not much stronger than normal metals, it absorbs magical energy like a sponge; enhancing objects made from it, negating other magic fields or simply storing it for later. It also makes working and reworking the metal easier a more readily viable option. The metal has always been used on the island, and very limited portions are sold in the world beyond, both to drive up demand and limit its threat to their own home.
One aspect of great interest in Aprax is their use of runes. Due to the outdated magic the first explorers returned with, much of Aprax uses a style of rune that is incredibly different to the standard, so much so that their effects are less intuitive without knowing their language. Their runes shape their magic; the large majority of Apraxians use runes as their preferred focus, etching them onto their tools and weapons in order to better control their power. Even the non mage population have a decent understanding of it. Part of their sheer popularity is how well runes interface with Apraxian ore, essentially gifting the items with magical power to a much more efficient degree than normal metals ever could. The runes also makes up the basis of the island's defense system.
Aprax is ultimately very isolationist. You'll find Apraxians all over but the bulk tend to live and stay well within the island for all or most of their lives. This is for a few reasons. The Flames must call the island home; it being the highest honor amongst their people many would stay just for that. Their freer customs and simpler living have been known to cause dissonance when interacting with other advanced nations, part of the reason they currently have a few disagreements with Bosco. Finally being family driven it is unlike Apraxians to leave home permanently, rather growing community, traveling and returning often. They're isolationist nature means they are self sufficient enough to manage by themselves. They welcome outsiders but their hospitality lasts only as long as they sense goodwill from them.
The one thing that can be seen as problematic both internally by some and other foreign leader is the sheer dominance of the 8 Flames. They're treated as kings, their word and actions shape the country. Thus far it has worked, but there is a worry among some that the 8 are followed almost religiously. If they decreed a war could start just like that. To some that absolute power is worrying.
Aprax boasts dozens of small cities that dot the massive island. In truth most are communities of family, clans or a mix of close clans that choose to live amongst each other. Only a few major cities exist on the island, many of them made with a purpose in mind. They are:
Dralo -: The Shining Capital. Dralo is perhaps the only settlement in Aprax that could be called a metropolis. After all as the first settlement it was created to be a symbol of absolute power and strength in establishing a reign. The entire city is located atop a large hill slightly north of the center. At the very center of the city sits a castle made of reinforced stone, the interior of which originally housed nothing but empty rooms, a table and 8 seats. Today it is the administrative seat of power for Aprax. The government of Aprax is very freeform but what few decisions have to be made, they are made from there. The rest of the city spread out from this centre. Notable sections include the Judges (just west of the castle), who preside over cases of criminal law and tend to be the last place civil cases can be resolved before it comes to an official clash; the Guildhall section (northmost) which houses many of the big rune-craft and smithing (not magic) guilds of the country; an arena (far east of the city) where competitions and official challenges are held and The Market which sells and manages their craft. Beyond this there are many who choose to live in the city, mostly tradesmen and champions who desire to be close to the action.
Oretin -: Oretin can hardly be called a city. This is the place that lends to the idea of the Flames as being revered, for Oretin, the volcano, is holy ground to all who live on the island. When the 8 Flames first thought of creating a cycle, they built 8 skyscraper like structures out of pure Apraxian steel, covered in powerful runes and molded in the shape of immense candles. Surrounding the base of the volcano, each one was set alight at the top by magic and tied to one of the 8. As long as the flame burns bright yellow all is well; it's when a flame turns black that the people know a Flame has fallen somewhere, somehow. And it remains that way for 3 days before a new Flame is automatically chosen. The entire area is regularly patrolled by elite guards directly loyal to the Flames. Over the years people have come to see the massive super structures and while settling under them is not illegal, most find the raw power of the whole thing intimidating and so prefer to stay away.
Vanta -: The city of champions. Located in the south. This is where the single largest arena in the country is located and the home of the single greatest competition in Aprax. The Vanta games. Named in honor of one of the greatest champions to ever live, an eventual Flame and a woman who died at an old age. Everything that happens in this city exists to further the games. Many combat schools operate out of the area and a stunning market where all manner of items can be procured. The arena itself is an enormous circular structure; which is all that can be really said as everything within is almost year round altered and changed to fit the competition. Vanta also holds the majority of the nation's standing army as a by-product. Even without the main competition something is always happening at Vanta. The only rule for entering most tournaments is the ability to pass a minimum physical ability test; foreigner or native, man or child, anyone is welcome.
Aprax is a nation that prides itself on it's near total self-sufficiency in the world. The sun shines bright and the mineral rich land means that farming is always an option. as well as a multitude of rivers and the ocean for fishing. Beasts both magical and mundane roam to be hunted. Most people care for themselves, or are cared for by family ties. It's an odd thing to see a person abandoned entirely in Aprax, and where it does happen larger clans have stepped in to ensure that no-one dies a lonely death who doesn't deserve. Rather they elect to take many in, some of which eventually become full fledged family. But no country is perfect, some are lost, some do die. In Aprax family is meant to protect and that system mostly works
On a more official level the government does keep a strict ban on the export of Apraxian ore. A person may gladly take their own tools with them to the outside, most would never sell their family arms anyways. In times of stress or where specific resources have been needed, Aprax has been known to sell its ore to the highest bidder. This is a rare occurrence but where it happens it reflects the preparation of Aprax to make big waves.
The island of Aprax is an absolute Oligarchy with the Flames at its center. They represent the absolute and final word of the government and their power is uncontested across the island. That said most of the Flames in time have taken an extremely hands off approach to running the country. Most spend their time either perfecting their own skill, teaching the next generation or else roaming the country village by village. They gather only yearly at Dralo, when a light is extinguished at Oretin or during times of emergency at the nearest large settlement/garrison.
Much of the day to day running of the country is handled rather by the people. Each city must abide by certain laws and statutes, but otherwise they self manage. The heads of the most influential families are often left to run things from Dralo as needed along with guildmasters. Where conflict does arise it's not uncommon for at least two Flames to be called in to provide a ruling and where the Flames find unsatisfactory leaders, they may abolish some or all of the leaders as they see fit; though such drastic action is highly uncommon. This balance of power ensures that while the families are allowed to carry on as they see fit, certain measures are in place to prevent a disaster or abuse of that power.
The Judges are elected and controlled by the Flames, usually the Flames of Peace and Perdition are responsible for these choices.
While the Flames are powerhouses, they are not tyrannical, the trust people have in them is genuine and most follow because they believe in their ability.
The standing military of Aprax is made up of 10% of the total population. The service is largely voluntary and while many go through it at some point, only 10% of the population can be kept active at any time. During a large scale conflict this goes as high as 20% and in defense of Aprax as a whole and Oretin specifically; you may find yourself fighting the entire island.
The structure of the military is slightly more structured, with the Flame of Conquest being the primary military leader in times of peace and war. Under him are the 3 Great General; soldiers and champions who are past their prime but represent a source of great knowledge on battle tactics and training. The three are in charge of the largest garrisons in the country as their bases and their troops are well distinguished; everyone knows who is their supreme commanding officers. Below them the army splinters into a dozen ranks with each one being lower than the last until the rank and file foot soldiers. The uniform of the Apraxian army are shades of green and black together.
Aprax has little interest in conquest, and so much of its structure is designed to protect what is theirs. For that reason the entire island is covered in runes that are now hidden underneath the earth and waves. In the event of an attack upper command can cause these runes to go off, unleashing effects that range from fireballs, to defensive spells to terrain changers all in an effort to give Aprax the best shot at survival in the face of attack. Similar to the Magic Council of Fiore they have a last ditch weapon that can only be fired by a Flame. When Flames are dead and a host is yet to be chosen their power can be routed into the volcano and fired as a weapon. The more flames dead the more potent the weapon; but it costs them. For the Flame's power requires up to a full month to recover at which point no new Flames are born. It's a last ditch effort that can turn the tide of battle by sacrificing the power of the Flames for a time.
The 8 Flames are main leaders of the country. As individuals, and even moreso as a group they are considered the absolute word of law. The titles of the Flames change to match a characteristic of that Flame. The current 8 are known as:
Flame of Conquest (Arae) - Arae is the oldest and the defacto leader of the Flames. At 74 years old she is both the oldest Flame and their longest running member. Chosen 38 years ago she has spent the majority of her time roaming all of Aprax, searching for the greatest among them either to train or recruit as she saw fit. She operates much the same now as she ever has; those foolish enough to challenge her learn that age has done nothing to dull her senses in the slightest.
Flame of Perdition (Kuseka) - Kuseka is proof that any man can become worthy. At 21 years of age he abandoned his claim to family and struck out as a would be warlord in the East. His natural talent and prodigious talent led him to be arrogant and attack Arae in a bid to prove himself. She alone annihilated his entire army and imprisoned him. The young man took the time to reflect on his loss; the then Perdition Flame saw potential in the young man and trained him to be more. When that flame passed doing his duty, Kuseka found himself the new Flame at age 32, a job he has done diligently for years. He will either reform you or see to it that your sentence is carried out in full
Flame of Peace (Hatto) - At the age of 16 Hatto is the youngest flame by far in history. It's entirely unclear how he even became a Flame without dying, but upon being chosen last year he has worked endlessly to prove himself. Much of his time has been spent following around other Flames on expeditions in an attempt to learn from them. Despite his young age and soft spoken demeanor, he is a Flame like any other and is shown the respect of such. Only time will tell his hidden potential.
Flame of Life (Veneka) - The most loved and fear of the Flames, Veneka is in her 30's and has been a Flame for at least a decade. As the Flame of Life her power belongs to and bleeds to the very earth, helping to keep the land vibrant. This very fact is what makes her so terrifying, those who displease this Flame may find the once lush earth turn dry, rivers turn sour, plants begin to die and disease spread. One who can take life can give it as easily. Of all the Flames this one is claimed to have the most potential for countrywide devastation; or restoration depending.
Flame of Creation (Elfrun) - The Flame of Creation is one who shapes the Flame of Life. Elfrun and Engul are quite the pair. A group of masters in their 50's, these twins were chosen one after the other. Where Veneka spreads life, Elfrun coaxes it into shape, able to create something where there was once nothing at all. Elfrun can be constantly seen at the borders in the forests of Aprax, testing the limits of his creation on the things that exist there
Flame of Secrets (Engul) Engul, like all his predecessors is one who's flame is hidden from this world. No one save Elfrun ever knows where he walks, but the whole island knows he is there. Engul is said to possess the greatest vision in Aprax, so much so that some would (falsely) call him all-seeing.
Flame of Corruption (Ruben) - Ruben is probably the least suited to the power he has been given. A magic capable of eroding anything, even mind and memory; this man in his 30s spends almost no time exploring the dangerous depths that are his abilities, but rather works to help all those that come to him. It is feared that should the time ever comes, he will be unable to do what must be done and remove Aprax's enemies, but only he knows for certain.
Flame of Steel (Ineke) - Ineke is the undisputed weapons master of the Flames and Aprax in general. Starting as a young gladiator, this woman is now in her 50s and said to have mastered every form of fighting that exists, some she created and more that don't exist. Only the young and foolish still challenge her, though she welcomes all to try.
Flame of Wings (Austa) - None is as free as the Flame of Wings. In terms of air superiority her magic and equipment allow her to take and keep control of all airspace she belongs in. Austa isn't as combat focused as some of the other flames, preferring to enjoy herself and push the limits of her ability. But when needed she guarantees the skies of Aprax belong to her.
Flame of Strength (Isaura) - In terms of raw physicals, nothing even comes close to the Flame of Strength. All of Isaura's magic is based in physicality, he has strength and speed that seem like a blur to most. If Ineke can't be beaten with a sword in hand, Isaura can match her with his own two hands. The two have come to friendly clashes more than once. The first impromptu clash caused all 8 Flames to approach the battlefield in order to investigate. Since then they've been banned from doing so on the actual island
The original 8 Flames were each unstoppable legends in their own right; but their passed on strength is not so. Regardless the modern day 8 Flames are said to rival the 10 Wizard Saints as a group, despite the latter's numerical advantage. The two group have never been known to clash.
Desierto - The oligarchical nature of Desierto means that they have a good understanding and respect for the power of the 8 Flames. The two nations are largely neutral, preferring to remain out of one another's affairs.
Ca-Elum - Ca-Elum is the nation that has maybe the best relationship with Aprax. Aprax admires the hard working and skilled craftspeople of Ca-Elum, while Ca-Elum is the nation that most regularly can afford to buy and properly use Apraxian ore. As a result there is a mutual respect between the two nations and a largely unspoken alliance; this is partly due to the fact that any official alliance may endanger the balance of power, causing others to become uneasy.
Seven - Largely neutral
Bosco - Bosco is one nation that has clashed too often with Aprax. Some in Bosco's upper chains have on occasion decided that the resources of Aprax are better used in their own labs. Though never officially, Bosco has attempted to (and even succeeded in) stealing Apraxian ore for their own purposes. Thus far the Flames have tempered themselves as these clashes are rare and often have no actual trace to Bosco's higher ups. That said both countries know a major incident could incite conflict.
Joya - Largely Neutral.
Midi - Largely Neutral
Minstrel - Trading partners on occasion. Minstrel has no shortage of buyers
Iceberg - Tense neutrality. The Flames fear something must be done, but are not willing to commit to an assault of that scale
Pergrande - No functioning relationship. Relations between the two broke down the moment the power of the Flames came into power. The two want and currently have nothing to do with one another.