Serminia

Serminia is one of Montevalno's major states. Alacia City is its main port, and the seat of its government. The state features farmland, forests, fields, and swamps, hills, rocky cliffsides and a stretch of purple-hued mountain.

Some valleys in the northern end of the nation have been damaged heavily by fire, where a heavy infestation of the Black Road had been fought to a standstill. While there is heavy erosion and a fair amount of charred landscape in this area now, for the moment the Black Road's influence appears to have been cleansed. Appears. For the moment.

Some towns have been razed in that area as well; the refugees have by and large migrated west toward the new city Fortuna (and pronounced as the word 'fortune' is when spoken in other tongues.), which promises to be a hub of trade and prosperity some day.

Culture

Like most of affluent Montevalno, art and culture are held in high esteem in Serminia. Serminia elevates politics, scheming, and trade to the same status. Personal honor is a thing highly valued in Serminia. What that means, practically speaking, is that even the Serminians of criminal bent can generally be trusted to adhere to their personal code, if you can determine what that code is.

Ruling Family

Two major noble families have called Serminia home in recent centuries, Pitello and Scupio. The two have similar character - both historically engaged in slaughter of enemy nobility at wartime, made use of poison, spies, and generally have used the negative reactions of other nobles to their political advantage. Conventional wisdom has been that a word of warning from the Pitellos or the Scupios should not be taken lightly.

The two houses have struggled for control of the state for as long as any can remember. Several centuries ago, Scupio got the upper hand by reducing the Pitellos to only a few members, giving them sole control of the state. Under a (relatively) peaceful reign, the state prospered, punctuated by periods of strife with neighboring Paloma.

The Pitellos slowly rebuilt strength until roughly one and a half years ago (at game start), the family returned to power in Serminia in a single brutal, bloody night, apparently slaying the entire house Scupio and most of its loyal generals, concluding the centuries of vendetta and leaving other nobles wondering what will happen to the Pitellos without the Scupios to counterbalance them.

Current Regime

The Pitello family currently rules Serminia. Like the Scupio family before them, they shun titles. The head of the Pitello family is called 'Pitello', traditionally, occasionally 'Lord Pitello'. The family numbers less than ten legitimate members, and a greater number of bastards. Petrus Pitello is the apparent successor, should the family head die.

Economy

Agriculture

Serminia exports a bit more food than it imports.

Serminia is well known for its extremely high grade saffron, which under Scupio's direction has flourished into a very successful product, with varieties specialized for cooking, dyes, medicinal and other purposes, with certain crops valued domestically well above gold, per ounce. It also produces other exotic herbs and spices, though these have been less of a financial success.

Serminia also exports some peculiar hardwoods, which are difficult to acquire outside of Montevalno, as competition for space on outgoing vessels is high.

Products

Serminia produces some extremely high end clothing, some of which is made from raw textiles imported from other worlds via ships of Minos and Kitezh, then re-exported as finished products at great markup. The ultra-rich who buy the stuff seem to think this a factor of quality rather than arbitrage by three sets of middlemen and an extremely unfair government monopoly on dyes, and Serminians are in no hurry to correct anyone of that misconception.

Services

Alacia's environs sport a small war college and a few mercenary training camps, which turn out soldiers who defy any 'flashy peacock' stereotypes of Montevalnans. These men are generally elites, rather than the standard soldiers and guards employed by the controlling family.

Current Climate

The Pitello regime has had Serminia on a slow march to a proto-totalitarian state.

In the past two years Serminia has seen what is likely Montevalno's most invasive census to date - one that included a collection of family trees, relations, places lived, and so forth - which has put many at unease. Still, Serminians with recent ties to foreign nations haven't been ostracized, though persons found to have been lying were fined. Serminia could be attempting to compile a national genealogy - but to what end?

When plague came to neighboring Paloma, border checkpoints and quarantine procedures were set up in major ports in Serminia, though these restrictions have at last been lifted. Mostly. Crews still must register each member before coming ashore and leaving, but are no longer stopped from doing so for any length of time.

Persons entering Serminia through via ports and roads can expect their names and itineraries to be collected and archived.

The new city Fortuna, located by the sea at the border with Aventia to the north, is a vibrant city in its infancy. There is much money to be made for enterprising youths. This city's civilian administration is nearly half foreign to Montevalno, and its foreign-friendly policies stands in stark contrast to the way the rest of the state is run. The city presents a welcoming, open border to its neighbor to the north.

Government

The exceptionally astute or cynical might opine that Serminia has three governments - the ruling house, the bureaucracy, and the minor houses.

The Ruling House

The de jure rulers of Serminia change from century to century, whenever opposition becomes strong enough and coordinated enough to exterminate most of the outgoing family and to remove their support among the populace, civil administration, and minor houses. Ruling Serminia has its rewards, but the thing that is most true about the job is that it is high maintenance, as Serminian politics can be more than a little chaotic. Rulers in Serminia in theory wield a great deal of power, but in reality, they can only do so much at once without support.

The Bureaucracy

While justice is heavily influenced by the current ruling family, much of the rest of Serminian administrative society is functionally independent of changes in ruling family. The bureaucrats are the ones handling weighty decisions like taxes and long-term planning,
ordinances and so forth. The Pitellos have attempted to 'close the loop', and believe themselves to be in close partnership with the various bureaucracies, but the reality is that every ruling family deludes themselves into believing the same thing.

Civilian authorities can be bribed to make allowances and look the other way, or threatened into the same by those bold enough or powerful enough to do so with impunity, but the bureaucracies aren't generally seen as corrupt - the aristocracy simply deserves a bit of leeway.

The Minor Houses

There is no official list of so-called 'Minor Houses', but there is generally consensus as to which families qualify at any given moment. These families feature prominent business leaders, aristocrats, patrons, public speakers, and the military elite. For the most part, they do not get involved in civil administration - which is probably a good thing for Serminia, as the Minor Houses are bastions of corruption, scheming, and trouble. These houses shape the economic landscape with their collective threats, collusion, and conflicts with one another. Generals in the Serminian military are almost exclusively from this social caste, and thus their influence is very real in terms of who they will tolerate to rule over them.

No successful attack has ever been carried out against a ruling family without the support of the minor houses.

Cast of Characters

Pitello Family

Ilario Pitello, aka Lord Pitello, Papa Pitello, etc: An aging man, vicious and frighteningly clever, he is unquestionably in full control of the worst faculties of man. He's often at the center of political violence in Serminia. Despite this, he seems to hold the people's favor… for now. Some commonfolk are half-convinced that Ilario may not be a man at all, but some sort of demon.

Petrus Pitello: son of Ilario Pitello and a foreign woman. Heir-presumptive, he's currently assigned to Amber as representative of the State.

Victoria Pitello: daughter of Ilario Pitello. An well-respected authority on perfumes.

Moravi Pitello: son of Ilario Pitello and Perina Meglio. Dead. Officially, he drowned in a tragic sailing accident. Unofficially, his corpse was interred, headless with a seared neck.

Giano Pitello: son of Ilario Pitello and Perina Meglio. Alive and well, he's considered by some to be the most likely successor, should someone axe Petrus. Giano is well known for naval interests and his wildly exaggerated 'autobiographical' tales from the high seas are a popular read in Serminia.

House Riotti

House Riotti is one of several Serminian families held in high-esteem by the Pitello family. They were firm supporters of the house within hours of the massive coup, and though its former leader (Luciano Riotti) has since lost his head, the Pitellos find continued support in his son Biaggio, who now heads the house. The house's primary interest is trade, though they are well established and have fingers in virtually every pot there is, in Serminia.

House Urso

Of middling importance, House Urso is mainly known as a military family; some members instruct at the war college near Alacia, and there are two fairly high-ranking Ursos in the Serminian state military. House Urso is frequently a strong and public proponent of war and of expansion.

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