Zetrium

An island nation off the coast of Kardia to the east, Zetrium is considered a part of the Kardian whole despite its separation from the mainland. It is relatively close to the coast of Efrea, within an hour or so by water ferry. Zetrium is known for its progressive mindset, and its odd system of government - at least, odd to the rest of Kardia. Most individuals from Zetrium are very intellectual, at least insofar as those that have frequent contact with other nations are concerned, and a very small percentage of impoverished or unemployed, as there is always something to do in Zetrium for money. The home of the skyship, and several other advancements, many biotechnical, Zetrium is at the lead of the present Kardian industrial revolution, and the most technologically advanced of the four nations. Due to its close proximity to Efrea, they are traditionally allied with Efrea in international conflicts, albeit Zetrium has remained neutral in the Efrean-Uclainian squabble over the Paskia Desert thus far.

Climate

It is said that much of Zetrium's technological innovation can be tied to its unstable climate. After all, necessity is the mother of all invention. There is a lot of seasonal variation as one travels up a mountain. Generally, the winters are not as cold as they are in Shuya, even at higher altitudes, and Zetrium's specific geographical location ensures a more even temperature gradient. Landslides are more common than permanent snow cover, or avalanches. Zetrium also experiences earthquakes, but these are rarely very severe, yet they are generally caused by built-up gas and magma, and may warn of an incoming eruption.

Coastal areas in the north and south experience a lot of fog cover and marine activity, and Zetrium's seafood is considered by many to be a delicacy. Zetrium also has many warmer microclimates clustered around areas with hydrothermal activity, usually around hot-springs. At ocean level, Zetrium has a general subtropical climate, with some mild seasonal changes in temperature, though the changes are generally predictable. Snow is uncommon in the winter. On the north and western sides of Zetrium, this means it only snows a few times a year, and melts within a day or two. On the south and eastern sides, this means it rarely snows at all, and when it does, it is a novel sight.

The northern tip of the island experiences more seasonal variation because of the cold northern winds, and generally has colder winters and warmer summers, with snowbanks building until spring. Some montane areas may be drier, particularly at high altitudes, but most of Zetrium does not have a dry season. Its rainy season lasts from spring to summer, starting earlier in the southern locales. Typhoons are common, and they may also be hit by tropical storms and tsunamis, or generate them if their earthquakes are large enough in magnitude.

Culture

Where Uclain values power, Zetrium values intellect. Most Zetriumese hold little care for personal circumstances, or origins, or even bloodlines. The only thing they really care about, is whether one is able to use their brain or not. Those capable of higher intellectual, critical thinking, often advance quicker, but even those more mediocre in intellectual ability, so long as they aren't gunning for a Darwin Award, can make it sooner or later, and most don't even really care how they make it, as long as they don't sit down, say it's impossible, or expect things to happen on their own. With a little forethought, and some executive planning, usage of resources, and effort, anybody can be somebody in Zetrium.

While Zetrium features artwork, music, and sculptures, they are perhaps unique in comparison to the rest of Kardia. They have a more modern sense of style and expression, and music, dance, paintings, sculptures, pottery, woodcarving, interior design, landscaping, and anything related, reflect this modern sense. Many artworks and designs are more abstract, or of a modern, clean style. Dance comes in several different styles, some more like traditional ball-dance, and others more like modern hip-hop, and even others like interpretive dance and ballet. From certain Uclainian tribes was imported a style that eventually evolved into something akin to belly-dancing. Music can be rhythmic, vocal, somewhat electronic or even poking cautiously into the realm of dubstep and trance, or even old-school bagpipes and bass. Different regions in Zetrium have different style leans in their art and music that is distinct from the rest of Zetrium's tastes, but the lines often blur. Pottery is glazed and fired, but sometimes fluted, and Zetrium is the only nation in Kardia to actively produce decorative blown-glass items, such as glass windchimes and similar, and some regions in the nation feature stained glass items.

A large array of religious beliefs are found in Zetrium. There is no single, one-true-path, that speaks for all of Zetrium, and each individual is left to find the path that speaks to them on a personal level, and worship, or not, in any way they choose. So long as it does not harm anyone else, no one else cares. The temples of Efrea have presence in Zetrium, as well as Shuya's Lady of Light clergy, with a small number of Zetriumese identifying as spiritual or agnostic, but there are many atheists in the nation, as well.

All within Zetrium are afforded an education, and being educated is a serious deal in the island nation. Not only are children offered, often tuition-free, education from childhood to young adulthood, which will teach them both a wide range of intellectual subjects as well as practical ones, there are also trade and craft schools, where adults can go to learn a trade or craft, and higher education institutions, where they can study specific subjects, and eventually enter into a more specialised workforce, such as the medical field, or the biotechnology field. All are given opportunities and resources, and it is simply up to them whether they use them or not, and how.

Much like Uclain, sexuality is a very fluid concept, and rarely does a Zetriumese citizen strictly identify as any one label. People in Zetrium like who they like, and marriage is not a common practise. In fact, a large number of individuals in Zetrium are polyamorous, and do not really have a single individual to whom they feel they want to be tied forever. Many in Zetrium are also busy businesspeople, and prefer the non-committal company of a prostitute or a sugar baby, sometimes both. Love and intimacy are very wildly alternative in Zetrium, and much like with anything else in Zetrium, there is no one 'right way' to do it.

Zetrium is the absolute most accommodating nation for transgenders. There are even several privately sponsored programmes that will assist transgenders in completing their transition, should they decide they wish to. There is very little, if not none at all, transphobia, and trans individuals are treated the same as anyone else, as long as they're not gunning for a Darwin.

A large number of Zetrium's citizens and "frequent flyers" are pirates. It's just part of being Zetriumese.

Currency and Trade

Like the rest of Kardia, or most of it, Zetrium uses the druz. Barter-trade is becoming a dwindling practice, but those with the inability to afford a service or a product, can usually find work with the person that they owe, and work off the cost of whatever they need. In a sense, this is really more of a trade of a service or product in return for labour, so some could say Zetrium doesn't really trade any more, others can say they certainly do. Honest work is very easy to find in Zetrium, as there are always factories and large business chains to work for.

Zetrium mints its own druz, as well, usually with small circuit-like patterns engraved in the pieces. There's a long-standing rumour that the druz pieces can be used to power machinery, but how this is supposed to happen, and whether this is true or not, has never been stated. It is, as of now, false.

Demographics

Zetrium is a booming nation; its small island is almost overflowing. For the last several years, Zetrium's population has been steadily on the rise, with more births every year than before, and more individuals from other nations in Kardia moving onto the island. There are many abundant opportunities for work in Zetrium, and it is attracting many people. Some economical specialists and analysts believe that sooner or later, Zetrium's economy will collapse, or the druz will experience a severe over-inflation and lead to widespread poverty, but so far, so good.

Currently, Zetrium has the lowest number of impoverished and unemployed in the entirety of Kardia, at a scant 3% of its populace. The people are beginning to live longer and longer lives, currently hovering around an average of 75 and steadily going up, partially due to improved living conditions and advancements in medicine, and partially due to the immigration of half-bloods and ilim, both of which are notoriously long-lived. Without the true separation that social classing gives, it is difficult to state how many of Zetrium's people are 'lowborn' and how many 'highborn,' but a very small fraction, just as with those below the poverty line, are considered disproportionately wealthy, around 2%. Many make a decent amount of money, and a small number, about 10% or so, make just enough to get by.

Geography

Like Shuya, Zetrium is very mountainous. Lying off the coast of Efrea, Zetrium was formed over a spreading oceanic ridge, and is very geologically active with volcanoes, geysers, and lava seeps dotting the landscape. Much of this geothermal energy is used to power the technological creations that Zetrium is known for, and it is not uncommon for academies and institutions to build a power source directly harnessing geothermal energy, instead of drawing from the city grid. The people of Zetrium have learned to control and direct the volcanic activity, what little of it Zetrium still has, and can direct lava flows in any direction they choose, should they catch it quickly enough. Much of Zetrium's mountains are, however, dead or inactive volcanoes, and those that still actively erupt generally do so in more of a magma-gushing manner, rather than a cataclysmic force one, and when they do erupt with some semblance of force, it is almost always just hot ash.

Most of Zetrium's beaches are rocky, but there are some areas with sandy beaches like the ones in southern Efrea. In areas with a lot of previous volcanic activity, the beaches may actually be black. These are common tourist attractions, and the black sand is sold by many as souvenirs. As the mineral and nutrient makeup of Zetrium's volcanic upwelling is different from that of the Virae Field of Efrea, comparing the two has become a subject of interest for biologists and geologists. Due to its isolation from the Kardian mainland, Zetrium is home to many unique plant and animal species, which is also of interest to biologists, and botanists.

Government

In stark contrast to the rest of Kardia, Zetrium runs on almost a democratic republic structure. A Prime Minister runs Zetrium. Once every five years, the people of Zetrium elect a new one, along with those that assist the Prime Minister in maintaining the executive government branches, and those that run the judicial. A severe nose-dive in the people's favour of a particular politician can lead to their decisions being overruled by more favoured ones, or outright replaced by their runner-up until a new election rolls over. In general, however, Zetrium has a bit of a technocratic lean, as those that are favoured for office are typically having of high standing in some sort of scientific or technological field, such as medicine, biology, biotechnology, or similar. As these individuals are often self-made success stories, they are generally not very disconnected from the general public of Zetrium, and understand both the high-class, and the low. As such, very rarely does a "politician" of Zetrium truly mess anything up, and the other governmental representatives are there to ensure no single individual of their number can do anything particularly damaging or stupid.

Overall, Zetrium's government is somewhat lax, in that its laws are few, and some are hardly enforced. While Zetrium is far from an anarchy, there are very few restrictions on personal freedom, and in some jurisdictions, those that fall for criminal and scam traps are almost blamed for being so unintelligent as to fall for such obvious trickery.

Religion

A mish-mash of different religious beliefs, some semblance of all of the other nations' religious orders and clergies have reached Zetrium's shores, but there are a large number of Zetriumese that do not truly believe in any god or pantheon, nor subscribe to any particular religious doctrine. Efrea's gods have temples in Zetrium here and there, and Shuya's Lady of Light has a Zetriumese chapter, but these are often merely placed where they are as a small comfort to those that have left their homeland, and found themselves on Zetrium's shores, for whatever reason they may have.

Some small amount of Uclainian spirituality has reached Zetrium's shores, as well, so some Zetriumese identify not as atheist, but perhaps as agnostic or spiritual, instead. Some pick out an Efrean god and pay homage to that one, while others believe in the Lady of Light, but do not make it obvious. Ways of religious worship are as varied as the people in Zetrium are, and no one way is wide-spread purported to be right in Zetrium, and each individual is left to find the way that calls to them.

Technology

Zetrium has a powerful, self-sufficient economy. On the back of farming and fishing, Zetrium gains plenty in the way of food, and various natural material farms lead to rather the impressive textile industry, one of which produces a naturally flame-retardant material. Despite the lack of abundant mineral deposits as other nations boast, Zetrium does trade with other nations, often their textile materials for ores and gemstones. Many of these gemstones are not jewel quality, as they are intended to be used in industrial endeavours.

Primarily, Zetrium's technology is always asking, how do we do this better? In learning to harness geothermal and hydrothermal power, Zetrium empowered itself to create more. The island nation is home to some of the most knowledgeable people in Kardia, and its many academies and institutions encourage research and learning. The Zetriumese are always learning, testing, and playing with, anything they can find, not because they need to, necessarily, but because that is what Zetrium does, now. The island nation was the first to perfect controllable prosthetics, tied to the wearer through their Heart's energy, which enables them to use a prosthetic leg, for instance, as if it were a part of them - because it is. Zetrium later prototyped, and eventually better polished, the motor vehicle, which runs on a magic-fuelled combustion engine and solar energy for electrical power. It was also a Zetriumese individual that invented naval ships, and later the skyship, and Zetrium boasts the strongest naval and air fleet in Kardia. Through their powerful navy, the Zetriumese went on to discover several hundred small islands dotted around the perimeter of Kardia. Not all of them are settled, but some were colonised by the Zetriumese. When skyships were invented, Zetrium also discovered the existence of other continents besides Kardia, but have not explored them, nor mentioned this to other nations.

Unlike other nations, Zetrium does not perform sex changes with magic; instead, they use modern technology, and shift the biological attributes of the individual from one sex to another, enabling their body to eventually, given time, begin producing less of one hormone and more of another, fully completing the transition. In many cases, the given individual is also capable of reproducing afterwards.

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