An impressionist narrative of the Nation of Saraliana
Saraliana started as a colony of the Corum Valley. The Corum Valley was pushed into a dark age for several centuries because of constant raiding from barbarian tribes. Culture was forgotten, science and innovation was forgotten, diplomacy was forgotten, the Corum Valley turned into a group of collapsing towns that were good at nothing but hiding food and fleeing quickly. The population kept declining, and many of the countless town-states that made up the Valley fell into and out of abandonment.
A small group continued to hold onto books, charts, and in general, knowledge and culture. They became outcasts, as the Corum leaders kept forcing people to do nothing but survive. Eventually, the Corum Valley felt a huge exodus of their top intellectuals. They sailed north, and discovered a small, frigidly cold archipelago in a region formerly thought to be endless ocean.
They set up some small towns, and roughed it through winter after winter before they started settling in. Numbering only a few hundred, everyone knew everyone, and so naturally they felt no need for politics. All they did was study the natural world, explore the archipelago, look at the stars, write books, and fish and farm.
They called themselves the Saraljanans, named after an early Korinese (the demonym for Corum) scientist, who inspired scientific pursuit earlier in Corum history.
One day, an exploration ship was sailing a ways offshore from the northern part of the archipelago, when they made a fascinating discovery: a massive chunk of rock, in the sky, just sitting there.
Fuelled by their growing self pride, these people committed themselves, collectively as a group, to find a way up, and to settle it.
But flight was something foreign to all mankind, and accomplishing it on such a scale was too far out of their ability.
Naturally, they tried many theories, one of the prominent ones being an attempt to replicate bird flight. This failed, as they could not generate the necessary lift given the weight of the materials at their disposal (iron, wood, and stone).
A few of them were sitting around a campfire, when one noticed, aloud, that the smoke from the fire rose up into the air. One suggested finding a way to use the upward force of the smoke.
As an experiment, they made a balloon out of paper, and held it over a fire, and then after a minute, let it go. It sailed upwards a distance before coming back down. They could even tie small rocks to it, and it would still float up.
They attempted to up the scale of it, the ultimate goal being to lift a person, a fire, and a basic payload. A small roadblock that they faced was that paper became too weak when the scale was upped. A quick change of material solved the problem.
After studying wind patterns for several months, they floated up some balloons, but even still, it was painstakingly difficult to get a balloon to be able to land on top of the rock.
Eventually, they secured a cable off the side of the rock, and used it to ferry up building materials and people. The new capital of the Saraljanan people was established, and a more solidly built gondola was constructed.
Up until that point, the Saralianans had never really established a proper political system. There weren't enough of them, and they had no large disagreements to merit a codified system. Since they had settled nearly a century ago, they had always sort of unofficially been led by their top intellectuals.
When word of the settlement got out, thousands upon thousands of Korinese peoples began the mass exodus to the new archipelago. Now, most of these people, indoctrinated by generations of living the most basic lives they could, did not see the value to science and innovation.
In order to preserve these values, they quickly established a meritocracy. Only those who could prove themselves intellectually could live up in the safety and luxury of Saraliana Proper, while the commoners were forced to set up their own towns and, eventually, cities, throughout the archipelago, but of course, under loyalty to the meritocrats.
In the coming generations, the Corum Valley neared utter extinction, with refuge to Saraliana as the main cause, followed closely by death. When the barbarians started stealing ships and building their own, they followed the refugees up north, bringing violence with them.
In the decades of terror that followed, the common people of the newly founded nation dedicated their lives to science and research and innovation in fervent pursuit of earning their way up to Proper. Proper, which was crouding up quickly, was swiftly capped at ten thousand inhabitants, but even by this time, the research started paying off: new technological advancements, such as an intricate railway, even an extent of industry, and steam power, and automation, gave Saraliana a huge advantage over the barbarians, who were eventually pushed to non-existence.
Once an underground railway was established southwards, a pilgrimage to the Corum Valley began, though many stayed in the now thriving nation, as it was a free, progressive, and welcoming place to live, with a strong sense of national identity, and a beautiful culture, and a very high quality of life.
However, as the generations went on, the meritocracy became egoistic by the idolisation that the nation placed in them. Saraliana became more and more centralised, with Proper becoming more of an administrative centre than an intellectual one. Cities such as Evendrin became the new national mecca for science, though Proper still ruled the more and more collectivised national industry with an iron fist.
Meritocracy turned to despotism. Anyone who didn't live in Proper, Evendrin, or the few other upper class settlements were reduced to hard labour, living and working in resource outposts, feeding the aristocracy. A heavily nationalist propaganda machine became the only thing preventing revolt. This sense of bloated nationalism led to expansion and conquest. Lands of peaceful yet rich peoples lived far to the east and west of the Archipelago. The military became a desirable alternative to slave labour, and the army was put into action fighting, invading, annexing, and ultimately assimilating, tens of thousands of defenseless peoples in the newly named western and eastern fronts.
As the nation felt a surge in military manpower, it felt an inverse change in industrial size, as its workforce abandoned the factories, and farms, and mines. Though the means of production was nearing automation, the still present demand for labour was filled by more and more brutal slave camps on the fronts, manned by the inhabitants of the newly captured settlements.
Cities like Etsolina and Velang were established, bastions of federal power in the fronts to keep an iron fist over the nation's edges.
Military death, a drop in birthrates, and further emigration pushed the Saralianan population down. Saraliana began to struggle to keep the fronts from collapsing, and on top of that, the aristocrat class was forced to shrink to accommodate the economic deficit.
When running the country became too stressful, politics became an undesirable field, and the upper class instead chose a path of laziness and expectance. As a result, the iron fist utterly collapsed. The fronts were lost as regions fought for and seized sovereignty, and the Saralianan population began to implode. Reduced to the Archipelago, and utterly lacking workforce, the upper class first started to feel poverty.
"When the first Proper-born Saraljanan hungers, when that day comes, Saraljana will truly be able to look into a mirror and see a demon." - Commander Samilin, the night before drinking himself to death.
At this point, even the aristocracy began to leave the nation. Many sought an honest life in the Corum Valley, many also left to join the world superpower the Nation of Fellowship, which was full of honest jobs and entrepreneurial economic opportunity.
The newest High Protector took his own life only two years after coming into power. The High Council, instead of reaching consensus over who to put in power, descended into infighting. Gangs and the black market took off, and insurgents tried to take control of parts of the country. After several years of no decision, and locked in bitter stalemate, the High Council officially dissolved the meritocracy.
Various Corum states deliberated, and partitioned the Archipelago amongst themselves. Proper was usurped by a member of the former High Council, and reformed into a feudal manor. He used what was left of the nation's gold reserves to live off of.
From several hundred, to eight million, to ten thousand in half a millennium. Saraliana led the world industrially and technologically, she invented flight, she invented steam power, she industrialised her means of production, she discovered particle physics, and she had held the largest borders in the world for a nation of her population.
Two hundred years later, an individual set foot on Proper. He claimed to be the closest direct heir to the last High Protector, though nobody could verify the claim. Proper was abandoned, except for squatters, hooligans, and a few gangs. The rock was under administration of a prominent Corum nation known as Iria.
Being nothing but a strain on their economy, Iria agreed to give away Proper, if the man could demonstrate that he could make the nation self sufficient. After years of campaigning, he won over the loyalty of several relatively autonomous, though sparse and barely inhabited, territorial partitions throughout the archipelago. He established a nation where all inhabitants had the same rights, where the government would remain transparent and accountable, where the people would not have to choose between fighting and starving, and once again began the chore of nation-building.