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SERENITY (Barony of)
Location: Continent of Brun, northeast of Oceansend. NW
Area: 480 sq. mi. (1,245 sq. km.).
Languages: Thyatian, Heldannic, Alphatian (the use of Alphatian has dropped at the court since Serenity has cut its ties with Alpha).
Coinage: Oceansend Standard: heart (gp), blade (sp), wall (cp).
Taxes: 25% income tax.
Government Type: Independent barony.
Industries: Horse, agriculture, some fishing.
Important Figures: Siegfried Sixx (Baron).
Flora and Fauna: The lightly forested areas of Serenity are composed mainly of hardwood, especially oaks and birch. A native form of short corn grows rather well in the farmlands around the town of Serenity, which is used both to feed the populace and the horses that are bred here. Common game live in the woodlands, along with some carnivores that prey on horses on occasion, including wolves and great cats. Manticores in search of easy prey have wreaked havoc in the corrals several times, while dragons and wyverns are rarer (much to the herders' relief). Scavengers are often present near the border with the enemy Barony of Dikhoff, especially vultures.
Coats of arms: Baron Siegfried Sixx: Black human skull between two sets of crossed black daggers forming two Xs (right and left), white background; Barony of Serenity: Black castle between two sets of crossed black daggers forming two X (right and left), black human skull (upper left quadrant), white background; City of Serenity: Black castle between two sets of crossed black daggers forming two X (right and left), white background.
Further Reading: CM1 Test of the Warlords, previous almanacs.
Description by Adik de Chevas and Arcadius.
Independent from Alpha since the Great War, the petty Barony of Serenity is recognised as a regional power by its neighbours. Embroiled in a vicious war with long-time foe Dikhoff, a war in which most other local nobles were dragged into over time, Serenity is definitely not a calm place by any means-despite its name.
The barony occupies a small area northeast of Oceansend, consisting mostly of rolling plains and light forest in the southwest. The woodlands are light enough so that cavalry can ride through them, albeit at a slower pace.
The City of Serenity is built around Castle Serenity, where peasants can get protection when the city is attacked by the Dikhoffians. The city itself is not protected by a wall or palisade, though it is constantly patrolled. The city has already been pillaged and burned on one occasion, when Baron Dimitri attacked Serenity at the beginning of the Great War, but it has since been rebuilt. Corn fields and ranches dot the plains around the city. Castle Serenity is a sturdy, defensible construction that once was the last place controlled by Baron Siegfried, but marked the end of the Dikhoffian forces' advance [until the siege was broken by a rather brutal sortie of the heavy cavalry. Arcadius.]. The castle has its back on the New Alphatian Sea, with access to wharves where fishermen unload their catches. In case of a siege, unless the enemy can afford a naval blockade [which isn't the case for Baron Dimitri. Arcadius.], the castle can be supplied with fresh fish and imported food. Besides, the castle houses granaries where corn is stocked, and it can feed both humans and horses for long periods.
There is a swampy area on the southwestern border of the barony, where many attacks by Dikhoff come from. The Oceansenders call it simply "The Swamp," while in Alpha and other equally distant places it is referred to as "The Oceansend Swamp." Native Antalians call it "The Tranquil Swamp," a name that probably inspired Baron Siegfried Sixx in naming his dominion. The Tranquil Swamp is a big boggy area, but is not as full of monsters and other hazards as your typical swampy wilderness, hence its name.
Most of Serenity's population are humans from various ethnic origins, mostly Alphatians, Thyatians and Heldanners. A good chunk of the population of Serenity is in the business of horse breeding, growing corn, raising or training horses, trading them, or riding them as the baron's elite cavalry. All those activities revolving around horses generally remain separate, with family-sized farms or ranches, though a few ranches have grown to larger proportions, with a large corral tended by several employees, and often an adjacent farm dedicated solely to the production of food for the horses. Such ranches often are under contract with the baron, and select the mates especially for the attributes the army is looking for. Oxen and other beasts of burden are rarely used in Serenity, as there are suitable horses aplenty. Indeed, not every horse, however carefully selected its parents were, becomes a sturdy war-horse. Thus lesser horses are used to pull every chariot, cart, caravan, plough, or water pump. This heavy use of horsepower has prompted the baron to ban slavery and servitude [which is not the case in all the petty dominions across Norwold. Arcadius.], and even the servants and commoners have less exhausting work to do; this is the main reason why commoners do not flee this otherwise war-stricken dominion.
The bulk, if not all, of the Serenic army is made up of cavalry. Some of it consists of light cavalry, mounted on light war horses and equipped with light lances, short swords, light crossbows, and leather armour. Their primary purpose is to patrol the barony and scout the buffer zone [and occasionally enemy territory. Arcadius.] for advance patrols belonging to enemy forces. They will apprehend trespassers, engage small enemy groups, or report to the castle any larger force. Another group consists of medium cavalry, mounted on medium war horses with leather barding, equipped with medium lances, long swords or maces, light crossbows, and chain mail. They patrol around the castle and the large ranches, and often engage enemy troops. When not on a mission, they can be found drilling within the castle walls. Heavy cavalry constitutes a small elite group, the baron's guard. They are mounted on well-trained, much sought-after heavy war horses, protected by plate barding, and are equipped with heavy lances, broad swords, and plate mail. They generally train at the castle, only engaging the enemy when it strikes deep inside Serenity, or when the baron is leading a large-scale attack on Dikhoff. They never attack alone, though, relying on medium cavalry to protect their flanks while they charge the Dikhoffian grunts.
Today nobody lives in the buffer zone anymore: everybody has already migrated to one barony or the other, or occasionally to another country altogether, far from this war-plagued area. It is rumoured however, that a lone old man still lives in his hut in the middle of the buffer zone, apparently not scared by the war. He must be a very powerful man to be still alive there, or a very mad one. Both barons have heard of this strange person and tried at some point to contact him-each one believes the hermit could be a precious ally against the other. However, scout patrols seem to have problems locating his hut, not to mention that the buffer zone is a hotbed for skirmishes and disputed ground. Some rumours have it that the man is only a deranged fool, while others think he's an insane yet absent-minded Alphatian wizard, who was stranded on Brun after the sinking of Alphatia.
Serenity is a fairly recently-established dominion; until the dawn of the new millennium, it was but wilderness, with just the occasional settler. When King Ericall invited heroes from all lands to come in Norwold and gain nobility and dominion in return for pledging fealty to the crown of Alphatia and to himself, many worthy heroes came to carve out their own dominions; among them was Siegfried Sixx. He became a baron of Ericall's and settled in this region of Norwold founding the city of Serenity, where people would live under his protection. But next door the baron's old nemesis, the treacherous Dimitri Dikhoff [who a few years earlier took his life in a duel while he was already lying unconscious on the ground. Arcadius.], boldly founded his own dominion too. Only a miles-wide buffer zone separated the two countries, where whole planes of existence would have been needed. Skirmishes between the two noblemen's forces were frequent and bloody, despite King Ericall's best efforts to prevent infighting between his vassals. Their role at court was not so much to assist their liege, but indeed to try and gain support from other lords, especially their close neighbours.
When mighty Alphatia declared war on Glantri and its allies, Baron Dimitri was quick to declare Baron Siegfried a traitor [based solely on Siegfried's Thyatian origins, and no actual evidence. Arcadius.] and attacked Serenity. King Ericall, unable to keep his noblemen in line, could not prevent this from happening [besides, other lords did betray him, and it was hard at the time telling who was still loyal and who was not. Adik.]. This initial attack was met with Baron Siegfried's well-prepared forces though, and the assault could not break the defences. The two dominions have been in an intermittent state of war ever since. Battles occur from time to time, and there exists no more a clear line between them, as the buffer zone and the enemy's territory are regularly crossed as if they did not exist.
Both nobles have stopped answering to King Ericall's calls, as well as sending any tribute, as they estimated they have better to do with their time, troops and money. The situation has grown into a stalemate lately, and each baron is trying to gain a decisive edge. The latest battles have been confined to skirmishes in the buffer zone, some settlements burnt and their inhabitants killed, but no major battle leading to significant land gain, until a truce was declared-but few believe it will last. Baron Fergus has been an ally of Baron Dimitri ever since Baron Siegfried was rumoured to be a traitor in the Thyatians' pay, and estranged Lord Maximus I has on occasion lent his minions as mercenaries to Serenity to supplement their cavalry with some needed infantry. Baron Siegfried claims that his enemy is trying to forge an alliance with the Heldannic Knights to the south, but whether this is true or not remains to be seen.
Horse lovers, come to Serenity! This is one of the rare places in Norwold where you can find horses for sale at a decent price. Of course, you won't find fine stallions as in Ylaruam or Ethengar, and of course the baron gets the first pick to supply his troops with the best war horses. However, you may stumble on the rare overlooked fine stallion, or opt for a horse that is not suited for warfare but will do a great job as a riding horse or as a beast of burden. The annual horse fair takes place on Tslamir 15 [Felmont 15. Ed.].
Be especially careful when entering the Barony of Serenity-or even when roaming anywhere in the area-because of the war going on between the powers of the region. It is easy to find oneself right in the middle of a deadly skirmish between the Serenic cavalry and the Dikhoffian infantry [though the wise look up at the sky regularly, watching for vultures. Adik.]. Even then, you can hardly travel a few miles without being arrested by a heavily armed patrol, always on the lookout for enemy scouts, spies, or saboteurs. I recommend abiding by their directives and accepting their searches and many questions without complaining, because they are quick to consider the faintest opposition proof of your culpability.