Alternatively: AOKU History part 1
This will be the first of a series of journals that will use to list out some of the setting and background information for AOKU, updated however frequently or infrequently.
After playing with several ideas for the setting, both time wise, and location I eventually decided it would be easiest to create my own setting within the RWBY universe rather then use Vale and Beacon or one of the other kingdoms that have little solid information available.
Aoku is set in the City-state of Frostfall, located on the otherwise unsettled continent to the west of Atlas. Founded several years after the end of the Great war by Atlas, it was initially a penal colony, and prisoners sentenced to life or death were given the option of working there for one or two decades respectively instead. Between the harsh working conditions and the rampant grimm attacks, very few of the prisoners would reach the end of that period. Along with the prisoners were of course the required guards, and with those some families chose to follow as well.
Despite the efforts put into it, it was not expected for the colony to last more then a few years, and was merely there to profit from the rich dust veins located there by an earlier expedition and make use of otherwise space consuming criminals. Despite their criminal status many of the workers were given a great deal of leeway by the guards, escape would mean death in the wild, and on the chance they could take control of the settlement they would lose the, at the time, vital support from Atlas.
The small town survived though, and deaths began to decrease little by little while the influx of workers and with them additional guards, rose. From this success Atlas grew more bold with their efforts, and began encouraging additional settlers to make the transition, and with them a more formal guard. The Des Sees family, after a series of disagreements with the Atlas government, was given the dubious honor of forming and commanding the formal defenses of Frostfall. Even with the support and resources of Atlas, the growing settlement was, more or less, self governing, often ignoring laws and decrees that Atlas had set in favor of their own. Atlas made several half-hearted attempts to fully impose their will on Frostfall, but the stubborn will that was needed to survive the area also made the inhabitants incredibly unruly by any of the kingdoms standards.
Along with the normal settlers, ones convinced through one means or another to make a new life in the frozen hell that is Frostfall, so too came stowaways and other degenerates desperate to leave direct control of the Atlas government, and even the other kingdoms. Political refuges and dissidents, non-condemned criminal elements, and others eventually began to make it a home, either by their own choice, or by the force of their home kingdoms to get rid of them.
Before the second decade of its existence even ended, the settlement had grew such that even the inhabitants noted a need for formal governing instead of the command by the guards. Rather then requesting and accepting an Atlasian picked governor, the people of Frostfall chose to create a council of their own, putting several of the more influential people and families present in power. There were seven seats on this council, one given to the Des Sees family, to be held by whoever the at the time family head would be, another seat to the Howitt family who had come from Atlas when formal settlement began, and others held by different families over the years to come.
When the second decade finally ended, Frostfall was pratically a small city, and had begun establishing its own means of supporting itself. Atlas had decided to ignore how unruly the settlement was becoming as it still ultimately fell under their control, and sent the majority of the dust mined back to them. With the success of Frostfall, Atlas decided it was time to expand upon that base, and start another settlement on the continent. Within a year of reaching this decision, expeditions were launched, and a location was decided upon, and two years after that, work on the next site had begun.