The Holy City
Mejtid aska natt tajboska
(English: Face to the sky, always)
Official languages: Lashmal
Demonyms: Kristianian OR Kristianan, Kristianite, Kristaner
Kristiana is a small city in the northern region of Laskland, called Gudshjälm. It is best described as being midway between suburban and rural, with a concentrated hub in the centre. Despite its small size and wealth, it has garnered an unusual reputation for its resilience and its idiosyncratic residents. Historically, it has been the birthplace of many religious iconoclasts, monks, and clergymen, leading it to earn the moniker of "the holy city". (Laskmal: allujfet dejsvar)
In the 18th and 19th centuries, it functioned as a trading hub between the two larger empires of Ostmark and Fära, due to its advantageous position as a peninsula. A volcanic eruption in the late 19th century, commonly known as the 1875 Askta eruption, destroyed much of the city's infrastructure, and large sections of it were rebuilt further north and inland. This not only caused untold damage and costs, but also exacerbated the geographic isolation between it and Laskland's capital, Keilska. Kristiana has never quite recouped its losses, and many of its younger residents are choosing to move to Keilska and other larger cities. Nonetheless, Kristiana has some enclaves that continue to thrive; for example, there are many immigrant communities and active indigenous groups in Kristiana, some of which are regaining much of their agency in the wake of lax regulations and bureaucratic red tape. The most populous and well-known of these groups is the Sacha.
Despite the increasing plurality of culture, language, and religions in Kristiana, the majority faith is the Samme faith. An estimated 84% of Laskians identify as Samme, and ethnic Laskians make up over three-quarters of the total population. Kristiana is "sister cities" with Jeska, a town located on Laskland's largest island of the same name. Together, the two cities are known to have strange and ambiguous reputations, as represented in folktales and urban legends.
Kristiana sits at the foot of the Hauvetian Mountains, in the heart of Laskland. It is bisected by the Gudshjälm River Valley, which flows out into the Ajjesar Sea. To the direct south of Gudshjälm province is the Taarimi Peninsula, where the capital, Keilska, is located. Most of Kristiana is covered in boreal and deciduous forests; approximately 70% of its area can be classified as taiga, with temperate regions becoming common as one travels further south, and along the coastline.
Kristiana's climate can be categorized with the Köppen climate category of Dfc, or a subarctic climate. The D indicates that it is a continental climate, with the coldest winters measuring below 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit). The f indicates that it is without a dry season (neither dry winter nor a dry summer), while the third letter, c, indicates that it is regular subarctic (as opposed to severely cold), where the coldest month is between -3 degrees Celsius (26.6 °F) and -38 degrees Celsius (-36.4 °F). 
Known as the "Holy City", Kristiana has functioned for centuries as a cultural and religious outpost of Laskland. Before the 1875 Askta volcanic eruption, it played a role analagous to Vatican City of Italy, housing the epicenter of the Samme Church. Although its influence today is only a shadow of its former self, the Östanbäck Monastery and accompanying cathedral, which are located at the heart of the city, are still seen as the de facto ecclesiastical backbone. According to a recent census, almost eight in ten of the city's population is actively religious; half are clergy, or involved in some level in the management of a church. Several famous theologians, writers, and artists have either lived or were born in Kristiana. Among them are Isak Hjartarson, painter, Noach Helmer, stagewright, and Naum Wrona, the founder of the Gudshjälm Divinity School. In recent years, Kristiana has suffered somewhat of a "brain drain", as the work force has left to live in larger cities, creating a vicious cycle that has led to economic and technological stagnation. As a consequence, its modern reputation has shifted towards it being backwater and bleak, though the broader opinion of Lasklanders (especially of the older generations) is still generally a positive one.
The Samme faith (also called simply "Samme") is by far the most major religion in Kristiana and Laskland. It is deified in "The White Mother", or the Kvitan anna. The Kvitan anna is the arbiter of all spiritual things. Her daughter, the Órskka askna (The Spider Daughter), is the creator of all material things. The Samme faith stresses the spiritual world above all else. For this reason Órskka askna is frequently characterized as less-than-benevolent, though not entirely evil or manipulative by any means. Her role in the world is shrouded in mystery and esoteric narratives.
Religious scholars and theologians have proposed the possibility of a third major deity, simply dubbed, "Atan", or "The Father", but this is a fringe theory; scholarly consensus is that the figure of Atan was not a part of the original Samme doctrine and was due to influence of other sects as foreign clans migrated from the northwest, mainly from Ostmark.
It should be noted that spiders and birds are powerful creatures in Lasklander mythology. Crows and terns make frequent appearances in traditional paintings, poetry, and music. Spiders symbolize intelligence, hardiness, and strangely enough, humanity itself. Both animals are seen to blur the line between worldly organisms and transcendent, spiritual beings, often appearing as psychopomps in children's stories, for example.
Ija! That is the informal greeting in Lashmal, often used among family and friends. Another common greeting, this one with strong religious connotation, is Allujfót sket, literally meaning "O that which is holy!" or "O Holiness"!
Lashmal is an SOV language, meaning that its sentence structure is primarily in the subject-verb-object format. However, due to its case system, word order is flexible relative to English, with greater creative license in poetry, literature, and song. Its syntax is head-final, and it also exhibits some agglutination, particularly in its verbs. Stress is fixed in Lashmal; the stress always falls on the penultimate syllable, except in loan-words from other languages. Lashmal exhibits limited vowel harmony in archaic words, though this particular feature is much more diminished than it was only a few centuries ago.
Lashmal has 19 consonants and 9 vowels, and a variety of dipthongs. The most superficially characteristic feature of Lashmal might be the dipthongs that end in "j", which represents the phoneme [i], and [ɨ] when unstressed: "aj", "ej", "oj", "ój" and "uj". Another prominent feature is the orthographic representation of [ʃ] as "sk". That is why Laskland can be written as Lashland, Laskmal as Lashmal, etc—though any Lasklander worth their salt would write the former.
A lasklandom laskmala ainuddan. Stolvar keilskadan. This sentence says: in Laskland, Lashmal is spoken. [The] capital is Keilska.
To break it down part by part: A often precedes a sentence in a formal and factual tone. It functions similarly to the English "actually", without being as imposing. laskland-om: the -om suffix indicates the locative place, similar to "at" or "in". ainudd-dan: ainudd is the passive voiced version of the verb aina, meaning "to speak". The "-dan" suffix succeeds a sentence that is a factual statement. Stolvar simply means "capital", from the Proto-Laskmal roots "stol", meaning strong, and "var", meaning town. Note that the definite article is not indicated in Lashmal. If there is no suffix, it is assumed that the noun is definite. We see the suffix "-dan" again here, meaning that the sentence preceding it is meant to be understood as fact.
One of the biggest monasteries in Laskland (and the one Inge plans to go to). Believed to have been built more than eight centuries ago, it is almost as old as Laskland itself. Simply referred to as "Kvitan anna" (The White Mother) by Kristaners, it is the keystone of the Samme faith. It doesn't seem like much: an austere, eggshell building with a black roof, but once one approaches, one can notice an intricate carving that dimples its entire front-facing wall, a subtle but massive effigy of a winged woman with short hair and closed eyes, holding a bushel of white roses. The white rose and bird-motifs are ancient symbols of Laskland itself, appearing on its flag. The monastery is an subtle architectural marvel, a beacon of spirituality, and an unmistakable statement of Lasklander nationalism. Every year, thousands of tourists not only from Laskland, but around the continent, flock to Óstanback to recieve the Kvitan anna's blessing.
Órskka askna (The Spider Daughter) is the unofficial name of a chapel estimated to have been built around five centuries ago. Small anchorite's cells surround it. Situated only a few hundred meters from Óstanback, their doorways face each either at perfect complementary angles. Where Óstanback is broad and pale, Órskka askna is dark and spindly. A small wrought-iron statue of an embracing Kvitan anna and an Órskka askna stands in its courtyard, though it is often the subject of vandalism and rarely, theft.