The Kingdom of Sebbia
Situated in the warm waters to the south of the Heel of Accitaine sits an island named the Kingdom of Sebbia, a place of warm sun, pleasant winds and hills at times both gentle and rugged. It was first settled by Thurvish tribesfolk some 200 years or so before the Cataclysm, a tribe called the Szebiya; this tribe was on the losing end of a feud and was forced to relocate to an island many avoided due to its supposed reputation for being overrun by vicious beasts and foul monsters. This was, as it turned out, true, for much of the island was ruled by various bands of Ogres, and at first the Sebiya tribe were hard pressed to survive let alone beat them. All this changed when a great hero known only as Szine-Dzaadh (“Bright Dancer” in old Thurvish) emerged and led the clan to victory after victory, until 20 years after their landfall, the tribes slew the last clan of Ogres, making them extinct upon the island and paving the way for truly making the island their home.
Szine-Dzaadh became the new ruler of the Sebiyans, and this hero’s descendants have worked hard to create their own home, free of all threats. With the Ogre presence banished, the island flora and fauna recovered in time, and the traditional Thurvish crops of wheat, olives, apples and lentils brought from the mainland flourished well; coupled with the returning game birds like pheasant and partridge, chickens, pigs and the fish found in the plentiful waters, the Sebiyans grew strong and flourished too.
The land has been an absolute monarchy since those times, an unusual governmental style for those of Thurvish stock, but also one with the same tradition of Free Words that can be spoken before the ruling monarch. To this end, whilst there is a ruler (currently Queen Asztrakha sala Szebine and her Prince Consort Szarl), there is also a small parliament style council named the Edasz ak Xai that by custom the ruler consults with before most major matters. The council members (the number varies between 20-25 depending on certain local matters hard to follow by outsiders) come from the various Families descended from the great heroes that followed and supported Szine-Dzaadh, and indeed all native Sebbians trace their lineage to one of the Families.
Culturally, the Family is a clanlike organisation of close and not so close relations and kinsfolk that can be quite hard to follow if you are not native, for the Families various intermarriages and alliances are involved and intricate, resulting in family trees labyrinthine and baffling. It is good and expected form for a Family to look after all within its lineage, and this culture of patriarchal and matriarchal care and protection means there are almost no incidences of tramps, beggars and the like, for there is always the Family to fall back to in hard times. There can be times when Families fall out with one another, but over the years non fatal duelling and other contest forms have arisen to avoid needless death and bloodshed, some of the most cast iron rules and customs unchanged from when Szine-Dzaadh first laid down the laws for the new Kingdom.
The capital is a walled city located in the best natural harbour on the island, and is named Xibarra (after the heroic navigator who first saw it amongst the Sebiyan settlers). With great curving cliffs encircling a white sanded beach at the base of a slowly rising hill, the white painted walls and buildings of this city have struck the imaginations of a number of poets and writers over the centuries, and though there are a number of jetties and wharves in the harbour now, effort has been made to preserve the sands of the beach, with custom dictating that fishermen alone are allowed draw their boats up upon; the beach is a popular area for people to walk and relax, as it has a pleasant view of the bay in general.
Xibarra numbers some 15,000 souls normally, though trade and the habit of locals to come to the city for the Midsummer Festival named Szinavirtan (“Brightening Victory” in Thurvish, celebrating the founding of the Kingdom by their greatest hero) in the Summer months can cause the city to swell up to 25,000 at its peak, with inns and hostelries bursting at the seams, Families accommodating visiting Kinsfolk and a sea of tents and other temporary dwellings adding to the festive air.
The national character of the Sebbian is one of proud fierce defiance to all foes, warmth and generosity to ones Family and friends and a great degree of civic pride and responsibility in looking after their land. Littering is regarded with outright horror for example. They have long put aside any vendetta or feud with their mainland cousins and now enjoy the shared bond of past ancestry whilst noting and enjoying the differences. Possibly as a result of Cantabrian influences (who are amongst their greatest trade and military allies), the Sebbians don’t have much truck with the Society of Harmony, having their own approach in matters of religion, one that echoes much of the Cantabrian style. After a degree of political quid pro quo and compromise, the Society was allowed to open a small Cathedral in Xibarra a few hundred years ago, but it is largely attended and supported by visiting outlanders and foreigners (ambassadors, consular staff, merchants and the like). Of course, in the interests of fair play, a Kussadha (place of worship in the Kessavine Church of Korvaio) was also established about the same time, and its great domes and spires nestle close to the Cantabrian embassy, and is far better attended, by local and outlander alike.
Topographically, the island has rolling hills and vales of cypress trees except for the more rugged hills and valleys of the western side of the island. There is decent stone quarried there, but despite plentiful streams and rivers that flow through the island from the higher terrain in the centre, the west has little in the way of trees, though many types of thorn and gorse thickets much in evidence, and there are plentiful iron and copper deposits. The crops of olives, wheat, lentils, apples and, since the arrival of the Cantabrians, dates are found in the more abundant and fertile central and easterly parts of the island. Dates, olives and olive oil are great trade items and are a big part of the economic wealth in this land. There are some iron and copper mines in the western hills as stated, but they are rarely traded away, instead kept for practical local use. Sebbian weaponsmiths, especially swordsmiths, are highly prized as are the wares they forge, and the incidence of Masterwork level weapons from Sebbia is notably higher than anywhere else in Accitaine.
Militarily, the Sebbians have a decent enough navy of sloops and brigs, though put a lot of faith in their friendship with the Cantabrians to assist in keeping their seaways free of pirates and other threats. On land, the Sebbians have a small professional army armed in a similar way to Cantabrius and the Heel of Accitaine, with Thurvish swordsmanship ,mixed in with some old and harder to place sword styles, resulting in a strange style of swordplay, using a curved, slim bladed 2 handed sword known as the Sebbian Long Xynak. In a Sebbians hands, the blade is fast and keen, and due to its cleverly tempered design, hard for an enemy to Sunder. The Sebbians also have a culture of militia and voluntary service, and many adults also practise swordplay, even if they never pick up a musket or pike.
Ethnically, the Sebbians most resemble their Thurvish cousins in the Heel and so tend towards being deeply tanned, dusky or swarthy, and though there have been incidences of outlanders marrying into a Family, the one doing so must understand that they are becoming Sebbian, not merely marrying a Sebbian.
Entertainment forms are varied, with some Kite flying and the Desharan manner of theatre proving popular, but it is swordsmanship that grips the soul of the Sebbians, and an exhibition of swordplay and fencing will draw crowds more assuredly than any other medium. Fishing for sport is also enjoyed in the teeming streams and rivers of the land, and young men and women greatly enjoy hill walking and climbing in the autumn months. Traditional guitar, tambours (small drums played with the fingers and knuckles) and folk music is part of the Sebbian sense of self, and local dance has a dramatic, smouldering flair to it, including the Dances of Glittering Steel, a form of combined dance performance and swordsmanship that entrances and fascinates many not used to seeing it. Swimming for pleasure is enjoyed, with races proving popular but more often just an excuse to enjoy good weather.
Linguistically, they speak a form of Thurvish that has absorbed a little Old Kessavine over the years, but also has some elements from other sources harder to place.