Population: Approx. 10 million
Founded: AF 21
Government: Representative Democracy
Ruling Body: Riksdag
Symbol: An owl, both eyes open and studying
Local currency: Krona
Religious makeup: 55% Universalist, 22% Ascensionist, 4% Druid, 19% Other/None
Saernis City was the capital of Terranis before the Fall, and its largest city. Although the city came under attack and was plagued by riots during the Great Enemy invasion, it survived the conflict relatively intact. After the Fall, the city was powerless to offer any kind of leadership or protection except in its immediate vicinity. With limited resources and no ability to create new technology, what existing copies, along with any scrap of knowledge or records, were jealously hoarded and guarded. Since the old digital storage mediums were largely no longer accessible, whatever knowledge was remembered was fastidiously copied by hand to written mediums, giving rise to the city's first libraries. Intact power sources were relentlessly hunted down, hoping to restore those data storage devices from before the Fall and extract their records before they were lost forever.
By the 2nd century, these libraries had grown into vast repositories of knowledge, and an entire industry of scribes arose in Saernis City to expand and maintain them. Even if the pre-Fall knowledge was poorly understood, it was kept intact in the hopes of future comprehension as humanity rebuilt. Not content to merely preserve what came before, those scribes also worked to expand the breadth of human knowledge. One of the greatest accomplishments of this movement was the formation of the Royal Academy of Magic. Created under decree by King Gustaf in the mid-2nd century, the Royal Academy was to become the premiere institute for studying and cataloging the newly developed abilities countless humans found within themselves.
Fortunately for Saernis, its early history was relatively unplagued by the sorts of conflicts and warfare most other nations on Terranis were facing. It was completely unaffected by the First Barbarian Wars, due to a combination of its defensible location and being nearly entirely surrounded by friendly nations. This would not prove to be an advantage in Dragon War, however.
Saernis' involvement in the Bastion Wars was far lower than that of other nations. They were less interested in attempting to seize as much land and resources and more focused on a policy of “aggressive exploration”. As such, they kept mostly to the coastal regions, and even avoided the forces of the other nations on many occasions. Another factor in this policy was their relative military weakness compared to the other nations, even with allied forces from Poltika bolstering their ranks. While their elite mages could easily win battles for them, they lacked the raw manpower and basic martial might for large-scale conflict. Saernis was also the first power to begin attempting the peace talks that would lead to the Treaty of Daeldren.
Were it not for the strong diplomatic ties Saernis had built following the Bastion Wars, it may well have fallen in the Dragon War of the 4th century. Fortunately, nations around the world immediately lent their aid to protecting Saernis and its neighbors, though only Saernis endured the resulting conflict. After the war, as it rebuilt Saernis City, it absorbed much of the surrounding territory that was now leaderless, nearly doubling its size almost overnight.
Saernis also underwent a fundamental transformation following the Dragon War. Its royal family had been completely destroyed when Saernis City was razed to the ground. Those surviving members of the court immediately banded together to form a ruling council that would guide the country for the next several centuries.
After the Third Barbarian Wars, in which the Riksdag, the ruling council of Saernis, made a string of strategic blunders that led to an excessive amount of needless losses, its popularity among the people swiftly declined. It was felt the hereditary council had outlived its usefulness, and that the people would be capable of making better decisions. Following extensive and intense debate, the Riksdag formally agreed to relinquish much of its power, and the body was reformed into a democratically-elected parliament. The former council members shifted to purely advisory roles, and were forbidden from holding office. Saernis was now the first democracy on Terranis, and continues this style of governance to the modern day.
While the notion of democracy was a foreign one to the other nations of Terranis, Saernis continued to thrive for centuries after embracing it. The common citizenry enjoyed levels of personal freedom unseen in any other nation, and, additionally enticed by its many libraries and repositories of knowledge, countless scholars, philosophers, inventors, and other entrepreneurial individuals flocked to Saernis.
Indeed, it has only been in the last half-century that flaws in the system have become readily apparent. The sense of unrestricted freedom, long criticized by other nations, has allowed more extremist ideologies to flourish with little restraint. The growing divides in society have reached the point where open conflict has erupted between adherents of various ideologies regarding anything from religion's place in the public life to the government's role as steward and protector of the people to the necessity of organizations like the Mercenaries' Guild.
The military of Saernis has now struggled for decades to contain these outbreaks of violence, but, with the government refusing to curtail the individual liberties of its citizens, firebrands and agitators have continued to spur the populace to violence. In recent years, Saernis has requested aid from its neighboring countries. Doramor has sent the majority of its military to help maintain stability, though many in Saernis view this as an unofficial invasion, and, in some ways, the violence has only escalated as a result.
Knowledge and wisdom have always been the watchwords of Saernis. Were it not for the diligence of its scribes, vast amounts of pre-Fall knowledge would have been lost, including the knowledge required to use all the technology discovered by Korneth in the 4th century.
With that knowledge has come an ability to view the larger picture of situations and appreciate a longer strategy. While other nations might be focused on immediate material gain, Saernis tends to consider long-term effects, repercussions, and requirements, and thus is slower to act in political matters, but can be no less decisive once committed. This foresight was what saved the priceless repositories of knowledge located in Saernis City during the Dragon War, as the libraries were ordered emptied and moved to more distant locations long before it was even apparent the city was going to be attacked, preserving the knowledge through the city's destruction.
In daily life, citizens are free to pursue whatever destiny they seek, and this sense of freedom permeates all elements of society. No doubt this is a large factor in the more open-ended spirituality of Universalism being the most popular religion of Saernis. The people of Saernis also possess the most open attitudes towards all manner of recreational activities, which draws countless visitors every year seeking to indulge.
Not only is open trade of physical goods a vital part of Saernis' economy, but, as the world's foremost repository of knowledge and scholarly pursuits, less tangible goods are also in high demand. Scholars, librarians, mages, and the like are all recruited from Saernis to serve all manner of clients around the world, and Saernis' institutes of learning are highly paid to secure their top students.
The descendants of the original Riksdag council still perform their advisory roles to the modern body, and, as such, tend to command considerable wealth and influence. It is not unheard of for the families to sometimes compete with each other over certain contentious policies. Sentiment has come and gone towards removing them from power outright, but, as the families often advocate for various regions outside the capital (often those regions they own land in), such sentiment never reaches critical mass.
Despite the turmoil that has engulfed the country in recent decades, visitors are still generally welcomed throughout the land. While Saernis is somewhat self-sufficient, it relies on extensive imports from both Doramor and Korneth to survive, and keeping those trade lanes open remains a top priority to the government. Likewise, Saernis enjoys exports of mass-published books, all manner of scholarly services, numerous vintages of wine and mead, and countless new inventions aimed at improving life for people across Terranis.