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Excerpt from encyclopedia: A Summary of the History of Aster: 5th edition
When humanity first developed out of Annies, they had no place open to them. Disowned by society and labeled as symbols of everything Annies opposed, they were lost, despised, and often left to die. They were crippled, too, for they lacked the magical power Annies possessed. Lost in a world that would not support them, they drifted out of existing settlements and eventually gathered together in their own communities. The Annies willfully allowed them to act as they wished unless they crossed borders, for they did not want to admit the humans existed. Over time, they gathered resources and developed technologies to compensate for the magic that nature denied them. Communities became villages, a few villages became city-states, and, in rare cases, city-states became kingdoms. Sasaka City was the capital of one such kingdom.
Sasaka was as good as human society could get for the time. The walled city boasted a population of over 100,000 with ample space for everyone. It was surrounded by many farms to support itself and engaged in widespread mining activities throughout its territories. Its citizens produced metalwork by hand that it's said no Annie could replicate at the time, even with magic. It amassed ample stores of precious minerals and metals beyond what it could possibly need. It even learned to harness crystals filled with magic to power machines and devices that would make up for their own lack of magic. There are tales that some citizens even started enslaving Annies, be it for protection, as a power source to charge crystals, or other reasons. Even its two other major (but smaller) cities enjoyed some protections and a decent quality of life.
One day, the presiding king decided that they required a monument to Sasaka’s greatness. He opened a competition to all its people, and requested the brightest mind to make such an invention that could run without using any magic at all that even Annies would experience wonder and envy in its presence. The brightest minds in the kingdom all tried to take a shot. There were many wonderful little gadgets present, but none quite fit the bill. They were too subtle, or too complex, or wouldn't make Annies jealous at all. The king turned them all down. He began to lose hope that anyone could satisfy his requirements.
Then one day, a man came forward with a schematic and a carriage. He told of an instrument you could hear from anywhere in the city, multiple times a day, every day, that could play interchangeable melodies by itself. His carriage contained a miniaturized version of his concept and with it he amazed the entire court as beautiful notes filled the room. The king, filled with glee, ordered all hands on deck to complete it. It took many hands and many hours, but with participation of many, many human hands, the Angel Bells Carillon was completed. The streets were now filled daily with song for all to enjoy. To many, it seemed like a paradise of progress.
However, disaster struck. The records of what exactly transpired, if any existed, have been lost to history. All that's known is Sasaka basically crumbled to the ground, and the royal family was destroyed completely. The majority of the citizens perished, with only about 1,000 survivors of the 100,000 remaining. They were shocked, devastated, and confused to how they lost all their homes in one swoop. But their despair was short lived, for at dawn they heard the sound of the bells they were all so familiar with. Rushing into the city ruins, much to their shock, the castle and university were left mostly intact. With their pride and knowledge secure, they rejoiced, for with these they could rebuild.
Quickly restoring the outer wall to capacity first, they then began rebuilding the rest of the town from the center outward. They took the destruction as an opportunity to start over, and rebuilt the city in their own image, making use of the latest technologies they had developed to build a better city than ever before. They began re-using the rubble as best they could, and over time they would develop special techniques to recycle materials en masse. Finally, after a year of hard work, they had a small shell of the city rebuilt, and decided to rename the city. They named it after their greatest source of hope: Songbell.
The city turned over a new leaf. Re-using materials to prevent unnecessary mining expeditions served double-duty to freeing up the otherwise-unused land. Over time, Songbell established neutral relations with Annies and sought their help in restoring the marred land within their walls, moving all their external farms within the city. They also gained new trade partners out of this endeavor and began opening up to the rest of Aster. What they could not reclaim from the rubble they got from massive storerooms in the castle, for they ceased mining in good faith towards the Annies they worked with, and with those few Annies that remained to assist them they improved their technology immensely as humans and Annies developed side-by-side. The kingdom Sasaka once led vanished, and people fled the other cities under its rule. Instead, Songbell the city-state remained in its place, unaffiliated yet open to trade, thrifty yet productive, and full of surprises at every corner.
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