| Campaigns | In The Company of Witches | Florenta
 
  • Overview
  • Government
  • Nobility and Knights
  • Military
  • The Law
  • The Church
Llohna
Geography: Generally lowlands, with eastern mountains, northern forests and desert
Weather: Temperate
Ecology: Highly fertile
Languages: Imperial Common
Population: Mostly rural commoners with dense urban concentrations)

History

“The Florenta Boot” is the last remnant of the once all-powerful Empire, now in decline from its former glory days. Despite a violent and bloody history with many other nations in the Known World, Florenta enjoys excellent sea and overland trade with its neighbors. It is also engaged, as it has been for centuries, in a costly war with the Goblins of the Grimme. Over the centuries, lands once under Imperial control have broken away, causing the Empire to shrink. Between the loss of resources and an endless war with the goblins, there are many who claim the Empire will not last another century.
The land is a rich and fertile place of vineyards, orchards, olive groves, sheep & goats, cattle, horses, wheat, vegetables, mills and wineries. It has a decidedly Italian, Tuscan feel, in culture, the people, the geography. Dotted with a hundred small, unmapped villages and narrow provincial roads, Florenta enjoys gentle weather. Each city on the Inner Sea has a prosperous fishing fleet. Each village has at least one small church. The greatest wineries ever known are in the Boot, but each village bottles its own regional wine and nearly every house bottles its own private stock. Frequently, bottles of wine are used in place of coins.
Its capital city, “Florenta,” is proclaimed as being the center of culture and sophistication in the Known World, a metropolis of much prosperity and beauty, as well as the epicenter of trade, religion, education, the arts and magical sciences.

Imperial – soverign, hereditary male emperor. There was a time when the Florentian Emperor was as all-powerful as a Caesar…no longer. Now, the Empire is so much smaller than it was (with loss of resources) and is so in debt to the merchants from funding the Pass Wars, that it is a shadow of its former self and the title of emperor is often no more than a figurehead. High ruler of the Empire, the reigning emperor is the final word on all issues, and sets policy for the realm (Tax rate, frequency & collection, defense matters & troops level authorization, war plans & objectives, diplomatic matters with other countries, appointments of governors and construction of new fortifications, among other duties.) The emperor is advised and influenced by members of court, representatives from the Merchant & Science / Magical communities, and The Church. He can call upon the Imperial military forces from anywhere in the realm, can command any noble to serve and provide troops, and has immediate control over the Imperial Legion and Astoria Lighthorse, both based in Astoria. He also controls the Imperial Guard, an elite force of mounted fighters who guard the Imperial Palace, escort the emperor and carry out special assignments. In recent years the boy Emperor has come of age. At eighteen he has wears the mantle of authority. Under the expert tutalige of Lord Franko, Francisco VII appears to be bucking the historical trend of less than stellar leaders. Chief among his goals appears to be the shoring up of the empire. In the two years since he has ruled he has launched many favorable reforms and appears to be ushering in a new era of hope for the empire.

It is the Emperor who holds court in the Imperial Throneroom. He usually remains in Astoria, holding court 6 days a week (not on the Sabbath…not officially.) About every four weeks he travels to the Imperial Palace in Florenta, meets with the Cardinal, and holds court for a week before returning to Astoria. Those who wish to attend court must either travel to Astoria, or go to Florenta and wait for him to arrive. The Emperor does not travel to any other cities. “Court” involves a small measure of hearing disputes, complaints and proposals, several hours of discussion about the war, socializing and a banquet. This happens just about every day, though the Emperor has been known to dispense with the banquet and take meals privately with advisors, generals or visiting merchant dignitaries.

Victorius, St. Capella, St. Lucius and Eldred’s Cross are governed by ruling, hereditary noble families, either Barons, Counts or Dukes depending upon the size & status of the city. From these ruling families come Imperial Governors, (who look down their noses at the “Provincials” who share a similar title, considering them and their kin backwards and ignorant.) The day-to-day administration of the city falls to these rulers, and they are responsible for collecting taxes (a portion goes to the city) and transporting the balance to the Imperium. These are positions of great wealth, power and prestige, and hold considerable influence at court (depending upon the size of the city.) At least one ruling family – the House of Novella – are “Merchant Lords,” nobles with massive merchant interests and holdings (ships), making them impossibly wealthy and expanding their sphere of influence (and what & whom influences them.) Although these city rulers are like kings in their own cities, they must still follow the directives of the emperor, but how well these directives are carried out depends upon the ruler’s agenda. They always put their cities and families before the empire. These families fill the highest positions of city government with family members, and their family knights command the Imperial troops under their control. They appoint magistrates for city justice affairs, and control the City Watch, Gaolers and units of Gard D’Florenta within their city. They also maintain their own castles & lands, usually outside but close to the city they rule, collecting their own taxes and controlling their own force of troops and retainers. Like the Provincials, they can compel other city nobles to serve a cause or supply troops, with considerably more influence than the Provincials.

In rural areas, a territory is ruled by a Provincial Governor appointed by the Emperor (sometimes, but not always, a hereditary position), a noble of varied status (Baron, Count or Duke depending upon the size & prosperity of the region.) Their status & territory determines their standing and influence at court. A province usually includes numerous towns & villages, and the Governor will be based in the largest, with either a fortified villa or small castle. The Governor is responsible for collecting & transporting taxes. Depending upon the size and population of the province, he or she will have a force of imperial infantry and cavalry for patrolling the region and collecting taxes. His or her personal retainers are responsible for the governor’s safety and defense of the villa. The governor appoints a Magistrate for the province, usually a knight, to travel the towns and villages handling matters of justice. Nobles in the province handle their own defense and justice matters. The Governor has the authority to compel nobles in the province to rally to a particular military cause and provide troops, but this is often easier said than done. In some provinces, as in Southern Florenta where the Solis Family is dominant, the governor is little more than a puppet & figurehead compared to the wealth, power and influence of the Wine clan, who have their own knights & small army.

Ah, the nobility…the privileged class, living a life of pampered, overindulgence. All the beauty, art, culture and rich experiences in the known world are theirs for the taking. Secure homes, escorts and guards, coaches and servants, money to burn… it all makes for a very privileged life, far removed from the reality of most Florentians.
A person of a noble bloodline is a “Princeling,” and cannot become a full-blooded noble until they have served their requirement in the Pass Wars, after which they earn their Golden Spurs and all the privileges which go with them. It’s not just a matter of the bloodline, though that’s a prerequisite. To be truly part of the noble class, each member, male and female, must…

Follow St. Cuthbert (even if only through lip service.)
Pay an annual tribute to the Imperial House.
By their 21st year, must personally lead a force of no less than 100 troops during a 1-year tour in the Pass Wars.
Those who fail to lead their troops into battle by the end of their 21st year (regardless of ability, physical or emotional illness, etc,) are either shuffled off to remote monasteries in quiet disgrace, or are formally cast out of the noble house, with no future entitlements to any aspect of the nobility. A few of these turn into wandering adventurers.
The requirement to lead troops into the Passes for 1 year is a deadly proposition, so noble families breed early and have as many children as possible to ensure their bloodline. More than a few idiots and no-talents have been sent off to the wars, some as young as 13. A successful tour brings glory to the individual and to the house, and earns that noble the right to wear the Golden Spurs, a sign of station. Most nobles (who survive) do one year and come home. The better respected do multiple tours. Some have even done tours in younger years, returned to the baronies to raise children & look after estates, then returned to the Wars in their later years after the children have grown and taken their rightful places within the families. These few are rarities, and usually are the generals, being experienced and highly respected.

There have been some cases of young nobles successfully serving tours in the Passes, then returning home only to find there are too many siblings ahead of them to every achieve anything of value. These generally turn to wandering and adventure, retaining their noble birthright but often keeping it a secret.

In the Empire, however, there is a quiet level of corruption which can bypass this requirement… with Imperial approval. This is called an “Imperial Deferment.” Ostensibly, it is granted by the Emperor (the Steward) for a young noble who’s family has “Contributed to the War Effort Beyond the Call of Patriotism.” This can be, and is, interpreted in many ways. Perhaps many members of the family have been lost in battle, and cannot spare another son or daughter. This is the most honorable interpretation. In most deferment cases, the family in question is a major source of war materials and assets, is extremely well-connected with people of power (including Church connections), and is likely a HUGE financial contributor to either the Church, an Imperial Governor or the Steward. Big bribes through the right connections can buy those Golden Spurs. Fortunately, most noble houses consider honor their greatest asset, and hold a deep love for their Empire, so earn their titles the right way. This pays dividends in the future in dealings with other nobles who “earned their spurs.”

Nobility is nobility, hereditary bloodlines with entitlements to be princelings, barons, counts and dukes. Knights are different. Any knighted noble will always be a noble. Commoners who are knighted do not automatically become part of the nobility.

Noble knighthoods come from the top ranking member of the noble house, and those knights can go on to become barons and the like. Only a noble can knight another noble. The role of noble knights is often ceremonial only, preferring to employ small armies to conduct patrols and protect the hamlets of their lands. A few noble knights actually ride their own lands, protecting their subjects and dispensing justice.
Paladin Knighthoods come from either The Church (a bishop or higher) or a senior knighted paladin (Church sanction may or may not be present at the time of the knighting, in which case The Church trusts in the knighting paladin’s judgment.) Knight paladins, if not born of a noble family, never become nobles, though they are highly respected. It is often the case that a noble chooses the path of the paladin, accepting that knighthood and forfeiting all claims on his or her noble title in favor of a life of service to Saint Cuthbert.

Family Knighthoods come from private, prominent families of considerable wealth, power and influence with their own lands. The knighting receives the sanction of the ruling family member, and is conducted by an older family knight. This position is above the commoners (as is the family), but does not impart nobility (just as the family is not classified as noble.) Only a member of the family bloodline can hope to attain this honor. It is usually given to family-member squires after extended service. Knightly service is generally spent in defense of the family and its holdings.

Imperial Knighthoods come directly from personal decree by the Emperor (or Steward.) This is granted to commoners who truly distinguish themselves in service to the Imperium, and the actual knighting is conducted by the Emperor or Steward himself. This knighting moves the commoner into the lowest rank of nobility, entitling him or her to lands (a land grant and small keep - from the Emperor’s personal holdings - is the usual gift to accompany this honor) & the authority to collect (and pay) taxes. This type of knight cannot then become a baron or duke…those are blooded titles with hereditary lands, whereas the Knight of the Imperium has been granted newly-created lands. The knight can, however, by Emperor’s decree be elevated to the noble title of Earl (ie, “Sir Keith Haney, Knight of the Imperium, Earl of Farmington.”) This ranks approximately between Baron and Count. “Normal” nobles have no access to this title. These knights most often come from the ranks of adventurers, and they usually defend their own lands and/or continue to ride the realm spreading and enforcing the power of the Imperium and their own glory. Technically, they have the authority to dispense justice anywhere in the Empire, but that could easily step on the toes of others who consider it their privilege…

TITLES & ORDERS of KNIGHTHOOD
There are several titles and orders (or honors) a knight can receive, depending upon what they do and where they come from. Being a knight is one thing, but being titled - a knight of a particular order or recipient of honors - will instantly elevate the knight’s standings, improve how he/she is treated, entitle them to a better class of everything, and of course, raise other’s expectations.

Knight-Commander: Title (Noble or Paladin only) A title granted to those knights in regular military service. Reserved for senior commanders. Grants the right to command Imperial fortifications and forces larger than Battalion size (generally over 1,000 troops.)

Lord High Commander: Title (Noble or Paladin only) A title granted to a knight (who may also hold another noble title) in military service. Reserved for the highest levels of command. Grants the right to command Imperial fortifications in the Passes and forces of Host size (generally any and all troops within a theatre of operation), and to lead forces into The Grimme on his or her sole decision.

Emperor Victorius Cross (Knight EVC): Order (Any non-paladin) This order is bestowed by Emperor’s decree for the highest level of personal bravery and accomplishment while in service to the Empire. It is the highest knightly order in the Imperium. If given to a previously titled knight, it will generally elevate him/her to Earl. If given to a landed noble, it can elevate a baron to a count, a count to a duke, or a duke to an Archduke.

The Imperial Sword: Order (Any non-paladin) The 2nd highest honor a knight can attain. This is granted by the Emperor to any knight who faces and defeats – in single combat - a being of mythic proportions (such as Dragons, Higher Demons, a Lich, Nessian Dark Mage, Mind Flayer Archlord, Goblin Clan Lord or Archmage, etc.)

The Iron Drake: Order (Any non-paladin) This honor is bestowed by the Imperium to those knights who selflessly act above & beyond the call of duty while in service to the Emperor. It is the third highest honor a knight can receive.

The Golden Spurs: Order (Noble only) These actual solid gold spurs are an honor bestowed upon any noble who successfully completes his or her mandatory (1) year of service at the Pass Wars, and confers full noble status. The jingle of hundreds of golden spurs serves as a musical backdrop to large formal parties thrown by the nobility.

The Claymore: Order (Any non-paladin) This honor is granted by the Imperium to any knight who distinguishes himself in a combat infantry action. Can be awarded by anyone of Duke status.

The Imperial Saddle: Order (Any non-paladin) This honor is granted by the Imperium to any knight who distinguishes himself in combat cavalry action. Awarded by anyone of Duke status.
The White Steed: Order (Astoria Lighthorse only) Granted for selfless bravery above and beyond the call of duty during combat action. The highest award in the Lighthorse, it is bestowed by the ranking Lighthorse general, and the Lighthorse Hall in Astoria is filled to capacity with horsemen present to pay their honors.

The Grey Mare: Order (Astoria Lighthorse only) Granted to those knights of the Lighthorse who distinguish themselves during combat. Awarded by a Lighthorse Regimental Commander.

Lord Admiral of the Deep: Title (Any non-paladin) A title granted to a senior knight in Naval military service. Grants the right to command an armada of up to 100 warships and 50,000 sailors and marines. There is usually only one Lord Admiral in existence at any given time.

Knight Commander of the Ocean Seas: Title (Any non-paladin) A title granted to a knight in Naval military service. Grants the right to command up to three Imperial War Galleons, and a force of up to 1,500 sailors and marines.

The Scarlet Wave: Order (Any non-paladin) This honor is given to knights who distinguish themselves during Naval combat engagements.

SOLDATA: The basic soldier enlisted into service for the Pass Wars, the Crusade, or general service in the realm can be any race, sex or class. Soldiers not only serve in the passes, but occupy sizeable garrisons in all Florentian settlements of city size. Infantry & Cavalry is responsible for patrolling the roads of the Empire.

For the common soldier, there are generally two types of service. The first is a standard conscription, an enlistment into the Imperial Army, with two options; Option one is a five-year tour of general service in the realm, with assignment to anywhere in the empire as infantry, cavalry or city garrison. Option two is for a minimum of one year Pass War or Crusade service, with immediate deployment. Of course, some soldiers already in the army volunteer for Pass War or Crusader duty, and war veterans frequently either extend their enlistment and join regular units in the realm, or re-enlist for another year at the Passes. In the case of re-enlistment at the Passes or Crusade, the soldier usually receives a promotion to corporal or sergeant, which doubles or triples their pay. Any soldier who serves a one year tour at the Passes (and now the Crusade) gets a brand on the right bicep - a circular dragon with a tower at the center - to prove service. A hashmark for each year goes under the brand. This is a serious badge of honor. Anyone caught forging such a brand is hung. Those who legitimately wear the brand can usually expect free basic lodging and meals throughout the Imperium.

The second type of service is under the command of a noble house, following a knight or lord to the Passes. This type of soldier is from that noble’s lands, and receives whatever pay and support the noble provides. Tour of service is as long as the noble stays in the war, at least one year, but sometimes longer if the noble so chooses. This can be a very real and dangerous burden to these types of soldiers, but the benefit is that they are not bound to service any longer than their liege. Essentially, if their noble is critically wounded and taken from the Pass or Crusade, these troops go with him or her. If the noble is killed, their troops are released to return to the noble’s lands, usually bringing the body back for burial.

Each village maintains a loose militia of locals, usually led by a retired soldier from the Pass Wars. Cities have garrisons and units of professional troops.
IMPERIAL RANGERS: Elite forces, with their own command structure outside the basic Soldata units, these Rangers work individually or in units of up to four, penetrating deep into the Grimme to gather intelligence on goblinoid forces. Fierce fighters, their mission is nonetheless one of stealth and conflict avoidance. Any Ranger returning to one of the Pass fortresses is shown immediately to the Commanding General, and listened to with great interest. Among the Military, Rangers are highly respected, a little feared, and a little disliked due to their general aloofness.

PASS WARS
For the last 150 years, there has been a constant state of war between the Imperium and the Goblins of the Grimme for control of the three Passes across the Florentian Alps dividing the two nations. Until the recent start of the 5th Crusade, the battle lines had stagnated. Winter shut down warfare, and whomever was in control of the pass at that time held it until hostilities began again in the spring. Possession changed hands every few months or even in a matter of weeks, and each pass had become a meat grinder for men & material. Enlistees were always needed.

With a resounding Imperial victory at all three Passes and the start of the Crusade on Hax, these fortified locations have become military support and supply points. Butcher’s Pass, The Chalice and Red Saddle, castles and castle-towns, are each under military rule by a High Commander. This individual is frequently of noble birth or recipient of a knighthood, but not necessarily. In the Passes, martial law rules, and the High Commander is the final word, regardless of the status of other serving nobles, or even The Church (though they have influence.) No taxes are collected (the entire war effort is a huge drain on resources, giving nothing back but a sense of security, wounded war veterans and the dead,) and there is no indigenous population.

About half way up the mountain at each pass is a support fortress which does not change hands, and these are nearly as impressive as the main fortress. They are the launching pads for every assault, storehouses for weaponry, material, and military training grounds. Anyone going north into the mountains from these lower fortresses is met at the gates by a priest of St. Cuthbert, where they are sprinkled with holy water and given absolution. The support castles for each of the Passes (Nevermore for The Chalice, Elle’s Rest for Red Saddle, and Ironback for Butcher’s Pass) also have military rulers, again perhaps and perhaps not of noble birth. They are called Keep Commanders or Knight- Commanders depending upon noble status. They are the final word in their fortress worlds, and each is considered junior to the High Commanders at each of the Passes, answering to them in several matters. In incidents where a Pass falls to The Grimme, the retreating High Commander moves his flag back to the support castle and becomes senior in command. The Keep Commander or Knight-Commander becomes the executive officer (2nd in command) until the High Commander returns to the pass. As everyone involved is of a military nature, this fluctuation in command is accepted and supported with very little bitterness or territoriality…Keep Commanders and High Commanders usually get along quite well. The Pass knows it needs the backing of the Support Castle, and the Keep Commander knows he or she may be called upon to serve as a High Commander in the future.
Nobles who serve in the passes or support castles are given no special consideration during their tour, unless they distinguish themselves on the field. Those nobles who stay for multiple tours, or who return to military service in later years are treated with greater respect, and their experience is certainly tapped by the High Commander. However the ruling military class has little regard for soft nobles who serve only one year and no more, avoiding battle as often as possible and escaping to their lands the day their tour is up. Frequently, these “Feathers” as the veteran commanders refer to them, do not survive their year.

There are no “independents” or mercenaries permitted at the extremely-organized and disciplined Passes (though they are allowed in the Crusade.) If someone wishes to fight, they must enlist or be part of a nobleman’s company. Anyone unbalanced enough to attempt “passing through” a theatre of war en-route to the Grimme (for adventuring purposes or otherwise) will be turned away at the support castle, forcibly conscripted, or even hung for treason (“going over to the enemy.”) Even clerics wishing to serve – although they do not sign a standard enlistment contract – must receive a Bishop’s Decree authorizing them to go to the war area, with specifics about length of service and assigned duties. They will then come under the authority of the Pass Bishop and his subordinates.
The only exception to the “independent” restriction is wizards and sorcerers.

In noble realms, the ruling noble handles any court proceedings. In cities this falls to complex court systems and layers of magistrates and judges. In the Provinces, the governor appoints a traveling Knight-Magistrate for this task. There are times, however, when someone runs afoul of the law and these options are either unavailable, or not practical, as is often the case when offenses are committed on the Imperial Roads (crimes like brigandry or horse theft, or crimes against a remote, roadside tavern/inn.) In these cases it is usually a patrolling Imperial cavalry unit which apprehends the offender. If transporting the accused to a village (and then securing them indefinitely until a Knight-Magistrate rides through to hear their case) is impractical, the commanding officer of the military unit assumes the role of judge and executioner. A brief inquiry is made (sometimes) and sentence is immediately carried out. Highwaymen & brigands are hung without much delay at “Gibbets,” poles set along the Imperial Roads at intervals which arc out over the road. The crow-eaten bodies of highwaymen hang there as a warning until the rotting skeleton drops off on its own, or is cut down to make room for a new offender. Many cavalry commanders are quick to decide a formal trial is impractical…

IMPERIAL MARSHALS: These men and women are rare, generally higher level, often of a prestige class, who frequently work alone (though many are often accompanied by a band of retainers.) Almost always recipients of an Imperial Knighthood, these dangerous and skilled individuals have the premier law enforcement position in the Empire. Their primary responsibility is hunting down wanted criminals and bringing them to justice. They only go after “big game,” rarely bother with petty brigands, and once they are in possession of a warrant for an individual – issued by any court or ruling nobility – they are authorized to go (and have jurisdiction) anywhere in the Empire. They are often paid a bounty for their capture (50% if brought back dead) but many due it out of unswerving loyalty to the Imperium. Some Imperial Marshals go on to become High Constables or High Justices.

THE WATCH: These are the basic guardsmen who protect the cities and larger towns of Florenta. They man the gates and walls (if any), protect the courts and magistrates, guard Imperial buildings or functions, patrol the streets and maintain Watchhouses (bases or operations & armories.) They handle the day to day peacekeeping functions, and about ¼ have access to horses for fast response.. Watchmen are usually 1st – 3rd level, with sergeants and officers being slightly higher. The most senior member of the Watch in anyplace City-sized or greater is known as the Commendatore.

GARD D’FLORENTA (a.k.a. “Stilettos”): Men or women in this service can be of any race, and must have at least three tours in the Passes. Many are former Imperial Rangers. The Stilettos are a secret-service-type, urban-oriented unit, and have discrete bases of operation throughout every city. They are few in number (a small city might have a dozen Stilettos, the Capital City might have 4 or 5 groups of 10 Stilettos spread around the city.) These people engage in intelligence gathering to support the Empire, carry out protective assignments for Nobles or Imperial officials, and pursue their primary function; hunting and eliminating members of the Facci (the Thieve’s Guild.) Stilettos have been known to go undercover to penetrate the guild, but this is extremely hazardous and rare. The greatest problem they face is the fact that the Facci almost certainly knows who they are, but the Stilettos do not know who the Facci are. Members of this unit are at least 7th level fighters, and every unit has at least one wizard.

GAOLERS: Predominantly men or mannish females (for this is a lowly and unpleasant job), Gaolers have the responsibility of running and guarding the assortment of prison facilities in the Empire, from single-cell lock-ups all the way to fortress-style prisons. They also transport the convicted from court to the facility (in the Capital City this is done in enclosed and locked gondolas), and they carry out sentences of execution. Low education and low hygiene is typical, but they are by no means stupid. Close contact with the criminal element and the ways of prison life make them cunning and careful, and they are not easily fooled. It’s simply dangerous, unpleasant work. They have their own command structure independent of the Watch, but ultimately the Gaoler organization in a city answers to the Commendatore’ of the Watch. The average Gaoler is 1st-3rd level, with Senior Gaolers (sergeants) and Officers being slightly higher. Few have seen service in the Passes. Any fortress-style prison has a Warden, usually a fighter of 10th-12th level with Pass War experience, who rules his/her facility like a king. Some Wardens are assisted by a wizard. The entire Gaoler culture is especially prone to corruption. They are grudgingly acknowledged by members of the Watch, but are still considered inferior.

St. Cuthbert is the primary faith, and about 95% of Florentians follow the faith. Other religions are looked upon with disdain, scorn or are simply ignored. The Empire is filled with chapels, small parish churches, monasteries and convents, and even great cathedrals, each more splendid and ornate than the next, some towering structures of terrifying beauty and presence, with carvings of saints, angels and gargoyles looking down upon the faithful. Many churches have catacombs for burial (and some of the oldest ones in the Capital City are flooded from centuries of canal pressure), and each has a bell tower, some with entire galleries of huge and fantastic bells. Some churches have gardens, and most have basic quarters for the highest level priest and sometimes lower level staff. The average priest lives off-site at a nearby rectory.
In the capital, the Basillica (a defended, restricted Vatican City-style palace complex) is the center of the faith, and home to the Cardinal, the mortal leader of the church. At present, the Throne of Saint Peter is occupied by CARDINAL STEPHEN II. The complex is defended by paladins, clerics and devout men-at-arms which make up a small army known as “The SHIELDGUARD.” The Cardinal is attended by (12) Bishops who make up the Holy Council, and who advise the Imperium on all major issues. Each major city, as well as each of the three Passes, also has a Bishop.
Priests are a part of the landscape, and can be seen everywhere. They know the business of their congregation, and are an integral part of a family’s life. They are sought for blessings of homes, businesses, holy objects, births, deaths, weddings, the sick, 1st Communion, family counseling and dispute resolution among neighbors. They are highly respected and treated accordingly.
Florentians, rural and urban, attend Mass on Sunday, and sometimes during the week (it is held daily in every church.) They donate to the poor box, make their confessions, show respect or make small offerings at shrines throughout the city, pop into chapels to say a quick prayer or light a candle for someone. They are by no means saints, however, and are as subject to temptation and vice as anyone. They try to lead good lives, however, and when called upon to commit a sin (such as killing in war) they know St. Cuthbert will forgive them. For everything else there is confession and penance.

FATHER ANTHONY PEZZOVANTE, PAPAL NUNCIO
The Papal Nuncio is a singular position, elevated above Archbishop, who serves as the Cardinal’s personal ambassador. He is arguably the second most powerful person in the Church, and has the Cardinal’s ear in all things. Although based in the Basilica, the Nuncio travels about 50% of the time, bringing the Cardinal’s commands and authority with him, and is more frequently seen than the Cardinal. Church doctrine prohibits a Nuncio from being named Cardinal. The Nuncio is a sharp individual, highly intelligent and wise, devout and faithful to his church and his Cardinal, and a brilliant administrator, planner and advisor. A high level cleric, he is also watchful for deception and betrayal, highly protective of the Pontiff.

In Their Own Words…
“I am not questioning your need for another country villa, Archbishop, I know you toil endlessly on behalf of Holy Mother Church and need a suitable place to meditate upon the mysteries of the Faith. I am, however, distressed at the recent wagonload of gold which you were to see delivered to the Basilica, and which has apparently gone missing while under your care. I have every confidence you will find it. His Holiness will expect the delivery within the next three days. Go in peace.