- Oligarchy. Aristocracy + Plutocracy.
- Phraya Sel Ichiban is the ruler, but does not hold most of the power.
- Three main power centers
- Phra (landed nobility). Heaviest control outside the capital.
- Wealthy lai groups. Heaviest control in capital.
- Priest bureaucracy. Total control of Ar Salem Dolem, influence over commoners outside of that. Hold power via threat of riots.
- Organized crime is heavy in the capital.
- Fang-kin humans (40%)
- Fang-kin half-elves (40%)
- Ophidians (18%)
- dwarves (2%)
See Queen Ascendant. Common folk and ophidians are quite devout, upper castes pay lip service. Many of the wealthy worship Kela Loran or Aerielara. Perversions including demon (Barbed Rose, mainly) and devil worship (Mara) are rumored among the upper crust.
- Caste based, but the lines between the lai and isal castes has blurred significantly. Commoners are still lower class.
- Ophidians are not hated, but struggle to rise above the lower lai caste.
- Show of piety
- heavy corruption. Wealthy get away with almost anything.
- Plantations outside the city. Range from enlightened to brutal. Commoners aren't quite serfs or slaves, but not far off.
See Asai'ka (City).
- Finished goods, especially metals. Religious and divine goods. Spices and dyes.
- Wild products, fish.
- Considered corrupt by the other two Jungle of Fangs nations.
- Moderately good by everyone else.
The official ruler of Asai'ka is Phraya Sel Ichiban, second child of former Phraya Hvang Ssa'ka. About 40 years old, he is a vain, petty noble obsessed with popularity among the isal caste and wealth. Fortunately, his direct power, although theoretically absolute, is quite limited. Instead, power really belongs with the Board of the Benevolent Organization.
The Benevolent Organization
Main Article: Benevolent Organization
Founded before the liberation of the Queen Ascendant as a band of underworld actors looking to regularize their territories, the Organization has grown into the shadow leadership of the nation. All criminal, and much of the legitimate business passes through the hands of Organization members. They also provide the police force and lend money to priest-bureaucrats, nobles, and merchants alike. This money lending is the main way they maintain power. The Organization, despite being a loose alliance of nefarious types, is held together by the oversight of the Board.
The Board is composed of a representative from each of the major power bases in the nation, and their word is absolute. The identities of the Board Members are not officially public, but are a widely-known secret. The Members are
- Phra Phel Solkan. An older half-elf, he married Lady Kagome Ssa'ka, Phraya Ichiban's older sister. When she and their daughter died of suspected poison in the chaos surrounding her father's death, he became the power behind Phraya Ichiban. He's been on the Board since 220 AC. In most cases, he takes the leadership role.
- Lai So Lender. A hard-faced woman in her 70s, So is the owner of the largest chain of banking houses throughout the Jungle of Fangs. Immensely rich, she sees everything in mercantile terms, in terms of profit and loss. Even lives are but counters in a ledger. She represents the lai caste. The senior member of the Board, she's been there since the Liberation.
- Senior Scrivener Jashan. Officially, he's merely a mid-ranking scribe with the priest-bureaucracy. In truth, he's the leader of the dominant faction, the Scales of the Goddess. Although he is devoted to increasing the power and prestige of the Temple to the point of austerity publicly, he isn't averse to living a sybaritic life in private. It's said that he prefers men for partners...or rather boys, the younger the better. Other, hastily suppressed whispers talk of darker desires and appetites. At 35, he's the youngest member of the Board.
- Mugen the Knife. A retired assassin, he represents the criminal element. Little is known about this man due to his intense obsession with privacy. What is known is that he heads up the enforcement arm. Of all of the Board Members, he's reputed to be the most concerned with the common good and the least corrupt.