Palestrina is a group of islands south west of the Western Kingdom, about 800 miles from Carzala and the Guild.
There is very little trade or interaction between Palestrina and other nations, it is common knowledge amongst sailors that Palestrinians are arrogant, unfriendly, and more likely to knife you than sell you a decent drink.
More reliable first hand reports from guild members state that the people are friendly but most don't speak common (or choose not to), and have very little interest in the rest of the world. They especially dislike the barbaric sailors from the Western Kingdom and surrounding nations, most of whom (as everybody knows) are pirates and slavers.
The western end of the main island of Palestrina is the most populated, divided into independent city-states some of which are republics, some principalities, the biggest of which is a theocracy. The less populated (and many would say less civilised) eastern end of the island is entirely claimed by the Kingdom of Salerno.
- Palestrina has many similarities to 15th century Italy.
Palestrina has a warm gentle climate, the summers are long and the sea breezes keep them from getting too hot, the winters are short with snow in the highlands but rarely reaching the coast.
Some of the mountains and islands are volcanic in origin, a few are still semi-active. There are several active geothermal areas (hot springs, hot-smoking ground, geysers, hot mud pools, etc.) throughout the islands.
The western end of the main island is well settled and well cultivated. The eastern end is more mountainous and mostly wilderness.
The other large islands, Serpentera and Agentera, are not settled, it is not known why.
The people of Palestrina are patriotic, they take great pride in their home, their family, their city/state, and their history. Most of them believe that they live in the finest place in the world and the rest of Palestrina (let alone the rest of the world) has little to offer.
Provided that you accept this fundamental truth, the people are open, passionate, cultured, and well educated. Fine food, wine, arts and theatre are a valued part of every day life.
The primary language of Palestrina is Paliano.
Literacy (using the Westron alphabet) is reasonably common, as high as 30% of the adult population in some cities.
Each city-state in Palestrina has a slightly different regional dialect, and city vs country accents are easily identifiable by those familiar with the language.
Common is understood by many within the cities, especially those who more frequently deal with foreigners (Merchants, Courtiers, Inn Keeps, etc.) but few will speak it in their own city by choice.
While native speakers of Paliano can all understand enough of each others dialects, it is not uncommon for merchants to barter in Common in preference to admitting they understand each others dialects.
While low level magic is a common part of life, colleged magic is rare, knowledge of it is carefully guarded and kept within families.
Varying levels of talent magic tends to run in families, the stronger and more useful talents are usually associated with the more powerful families.
Religion seems similar to the Western Kingdom followers of the powers of light, but with more focus on the many Saints than on the angels and arch-angels known to the Western Kingdom Church. The Priests have some form of magical ability. One is reported to have performed an ex-communication that made the target unable to benefit from any magic, including Healer.
There is steady trade between the nations of Palestrina, the trade continues along side many levels of conflict ranging from verbal feuds to wars of conquest. Most feuds are between families (usually of different nations), many are centuries old and are rarely relinquished before the fall of one of the families involved. Feuds are over love, land, trade, ancient wrongs, stolen magical knowledge or blood lines, or even of the most trivial seeming (to outsiders) insults.
The steady growth of the Patrimony over recent decades is cause for concern for most of the independent city-states, but generally not concern enough to give up ancient rivalries.
Patrimony of the Light
Kingdom of Salerno
Most Palestrinian histories are contradictory, each written to convey the (heavily biased) true history as only the people of the home nation of the author know it.
It is likely that Palestrina has been settled for over 2,000 years, some histories state it is as little as 1,000 years, other claim over 20,000 years. It may be the birth place of humans on Alusia, but it is more likely to have been settled by explorers or refugees from Panjari, the Lunar Empire, or people driven from the mainland around the time the Western Kingdom was first formed.
Language and cultural similarities imply influence by Elven society, and historical links to Tuscana, Ranke, and the Lunar Empire.