The history of Rave stretches back nearly 200 years before the events of The Island. The Kylaens crossed the Madion Sea and landed on the shores, and, as these things go, decided that they would claim Rave for themselves. At the time, Rave was a loosely governed set of principalities, and the Kylaens didn’t do much but just claim them. The Raven leaders agreed to be “annexed” as long as they kept their autonomy and the Kylaens kept out of their business. They sign a treaty establishing Rave’s autonomy under a Kylaen flag.
Fast forward 150 years, and King Thormond (Galian’s great-grandfather) has discovered barethium, a mineral ore, and realized that it allows Kylaens to build bigger, stronger buildings. Unfortunately, it’s in the mountains in Kylae, and really difficult to extract. But then the Kylaens find the same ore in caves beneath Rave.
Thormond decides, unilaterally, to re-invade their own colony, throwing away the treaty. He instills his own provincial governors and builds giant processing facilities to extract and smelt the ore into a workable state. When Ravens start dropping like flies after working in the mines, they decide enough is enough. They revolt, overthrowing the provincial governors and kicking the Kylaens out of their country. But Thormond isn’t ready to give up all that barethium, so he begins a fifty year attempt to bring the Ravens back into the fold that’s continued by his son, then his grandson, King Grieg.
A Nation in Crisis
Like any nation at war, Rave’s resources are stretched to the limit to try and keep their country afloat. Kylae has an iron economic grip on the other two Madion nations, Herin and Jervan, so trade is limited. Their technology is stymied to the same level the Kylaens left when they were kicked out of the country. They struggle to keep Kylaens from bombing them every few days, pulling children like Theo into training programs at 12 and sending them to patrol the skies.
But, like Theo, Ravens are fiercely patriotic, knowing that if they don’t stand and fight Kylae, they’ll either be killed anyway or be forced to work in the barethium mines again, and die of cancer. Between the spaces of the war, their culture shows up, especially in their language.
“Raven words aren’t supposed to mean what they literally mean.”
I blinked at her in confusion. “I… What?”
“It’s hard to explain.” She furrowed her brow. “For example, you would call your mother okaachai, but it doesn’t mean mother.” She paused, considering her own words. “I mean, it does, but it means more than just someone who gave birth to you. It means an older female person that cares for you, that you just have this…I don’t know.” She huffed, obviously annoyed that she couldn’t find the right words.
I smiled at her frustration. “Are there any other words?”
“Osaichai is father, same thing,” she said. “The only person I’d consider an osaichai is Lanis. Older guy who looks after you like a father. But I never called him that.”
“Raven words are only used when you feel it in your soul,” she said. “You can’t just say them. You have to feel them.”
“Well, why don’t you feel them at me?” I joked.
She glared at me, but there wasn’t any heat behind it. “There is another one that’s used more commonly, but…” Her face reddened again.
“What is it?”
“Amichai,” she said, with a pained look on her face. “It means…lover.”
I snorted at the way she’d said the word and wondered if she’d ever been in love in her life. “Lover, huh? So like boyfriend or—”
“No, for someone to be your amichai, you have to feel it. I’ve heard that the word just comes out when…” She trailed off, growing more flustered as she tried to think about it.
“When what?” I pressed, enjoying this rare moment of unguardedness. The idea of Theo and love made me smile.
“When you are truly, madly, and unbelievably in love with someone,” she said, looking away.
Side note: I drew a little from Japanese culture here with the ‘kaachai and such.
We learn a lot about Rave in The Island, but we truly get to see the country for what it is in The Chasm. And as I said before, what Theo thinks about her country may or may not be the whole truth…