The second largest city in Ivona and considered by many to be the cultural and academic hub of Ivona. Melior is a city focused simultaneously on the past and the future with historical preservation and dozens of universities and research institutions.
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Melior was the second city founded on the continent of Reial. Although it later became a hub of academics and learning, this was not always the case. For much of its early history, Melior was controlled by a series of warlords. The used their military power to unite several surrounding farmers and merchants into one unified area that became known as Melior. Each one of the warlords was well known for their control of water and ice magic and the family ruled Melior with an iron fist for over a hundred years.
During the period of Unification when Ivona transitioned to a representative democracy, Melior was one of the few areas that resisted, not wanting to give up military control. Approximately 350 years ago several small scale battles between Bellcius and Melior were staged in the land on and between the two cities.
Although Melior possessed superior military technology, they could not compete with the manpower of the Bellcius armies, and the battle slowly turned against them. The conflict ended with the assassination of the last warlord and a son of the military leader of Bellcius marrying the warlord's daughter and becoming the first senator of Melior.
The position later became an elected one after the senator died without issue.
Having been militarily subjugated, and no longer keeping a large standing army, Melior became the artistic and academic hub of the new Ivonian union, with Bellcius to provide the military might, Melior started to focus almost entirely on the humanities, arts and sciences. The magitech and steam power needed to produce the very first airships were pioneered in Melior. And they will not let you forget it.
Some of the more old-school members of the Parliament from Melior believe that Melior, and not Bellcius, should have been the center of the union, but most mumblings are left to drunken complaining in cigar bars, not something that is said out in the open.
Melior was founded on the Sarysa River, just above where it splits and feeds the Ondin. The Sarysa travels through city center and several government buildings are built around the river, but the majority of town is to the south of the river and most commercial, residential and production wards are to the south of the Sarysa. Residential areas in northern Melior are some of the most expensive and classiest, and living in northern Melior is considered a sign of high class.
Recent environmentalist concerns have led to a clean up effort on the river, mostly for aesthetic purposes, but the water has always been potable and safe to drink with minimal water processing.
The land is relatively flat and the surrounding country is good for farming. Melior itself does not have an abundance of farmers, and what land is farmed is usually handled by steam powered machines, less so than by hand.
Melior focuses almost exclusively on academics, to the detriment of military and production. Competition for the top jobs is intense and cut-throat. Competition for the few shop and production jobs in the city is also harsh, as there are not enough unskilled jobs for all of the unskilled workers in the city.
The entire area has a very high cost of living, so even lower level researchers, scientists and shop keepers are forced to live in distant and less desirable, and filthy, suburbs in the manufacturing outskirts of town. The central areas of Melior are some of the nicest in Ivona, architecturally speaking and students at the many universities often rent small houses and pack them to near-unsafe numbers.
Melior has the highest percent of their population with university degrees and doctorates or medical degrees in all of Reial, and some of the highest per capita income.
There are hundreds of educational and research institutions in Melior, however some of the most famous include:
Melior Military Institutes - a recruiting and training center for the Ivonian Navy and Army. The two branches train in separate buildings on the same campus but share physical training (gymnasium, pool, etc) rooms and cafeterias but they do not share dorms or classrooms.
Nantes Conservatory - specializing in the musical and performing arts, students practice for years to even receive a sponsorship to study there. There is no application process, the only way you can be considered for attendance is if your instructor (usually a Nantes graduate themselves) recommends you to the school. Tuition, room and board are incredibly expensive, but graduation virtually guarantees employment as an exclusive instructor or as a member of an orchestra or a nationally renowned acting group.
Toomes Center for the Humanities and Natural Sciences - Home to the study of Ivonian history in general, as well as the history of Melior, theorization about the world below, geography, cartography, archeology, sociology, biology, chemistry, and so on. The Toomes Center was founded by Alfred Toomes, a man who liked to study a little bit of everything, but never knew much of anything on any of those subjects. He made his fortune surveying - and claiming - parts of the Badlands and selling them to settlers, he blew his fortune on an enormous institute dedicating to studying a little bit of all the things he enjoyed in life. Architecturally it is one of the most amazing campuses in Melior, academically ... they do alright.
The Melior University - as befits the name, the Melior University is the institute of higher learning in Melior. Admissions is very nepotistic, and receiving an education here means you basically know someone who is a very major player in the city of Melior associated with technology or sciences. Doctorate level education is almost always sponsored by an employer.
Fitzkairn Academy of Medicine - Sawbones need not apply, the Fitzkairn Academy deals with delicate surgeries and medical techniques, and even some healing magic. The curriculum occasionally delves into the strange and dark, and rumors of a necromantic cult resurge from time to time. Just like the living dead.
Academy of the Arts - Not the sort of arts with paints or pencils, this is the best school for studying learned magic. The place has a weird reputation and the instructors are considered flashy and self important, but their magic is top notch. Since the focus in Melior is on the sciences, magical education tends to take a back seat, and the Academy of the Arts is not as exclusive as the other universities or similar schools in Kropmork.
The list is hardly comprehensive and there are dozens of more institutes, academies, centers, conservatories and so on in the city.
Draklor Laboratory - Draklor Laboratory is the foremost weapons research and manufacturing for the Ivonian Military. Standing at over 80 stories tall, the Laboratory dominates the northwestern part of Melior's skyline, taller even than the old warlord's palace.
Although standard airship, steam and magitech are the stated research areas of the Lab, there are many floors wings and subbasements that hold more dubious research. Experiments on humans and demihumans, research into augmenting magic. The number of scientists who are aware of the research is only a handful, but increasing as the Ivonian Military becomes more and more focused on military tech and not caring how they acquire it and who they hurt.
Doctor Cidolfus Demen Bunansa, graduated from The Melior University and worked his way quickly up the ranks of the Laboratory, eventually taking over at a very young age. There are a few whispers that he has started to become mentally unstable in his old age, but very few people know the truth of the matter, and he seems to manage the day to day of the lab just fine.
Wild Kat - A hip and happening coffee shop in one of the trendier parts of Melior. It is owned and operated by Sanae Hanekoma (aka Kat) who is also a notable anonymous artist. The shop serves coffee and a few pastries, but it is more famous as being a cool hang out for Melior youth.
Rockbell Magitech - A shop previously owned and operated by Pinako Rockbell. It was particularly famous for producing general magitech goods, but was especially renowned as being the only shop in Melior to provide magitech limbs. Pinako's granddaughter closed the shop down some time after Pinako's death, but it is well maintained.
Museums - There are several dozen museums, large and small for art, history, natural history and so on. There are many specialized and generalized museums all over the city. The museum detailing the history of the development of flight, as well as the history of Melior are some of the most popular.