Hestralia is a maritime power famed for its astounding beauty, its warm weather, vibrant people and competitive spirit. Its people are warm and welcoming, working vineyards and farms in the rolling hills of the interior, or crowding into the commercial powerhouses that line the coasts. A giant peninsula, Hestralia gets most of its wealth through international trade, facilitating the backbone of world commerce through its massive fleets of ships, owned by hundreds of independent shipping and trade companies .
Perhaps because of the natural bounty of the country, or its location away from the many frontiers and outside threats of the Throne, the Hestralian spirit is always seeking to test itself through adventure. Hestralians are known for their competitive energy, and this fire burns in all manner of ways. Some Hestralians strut as bravos, dueling with rapiers those who give them insult. Others take to the seas to earn their fortunes, making their mother proud by becoming a success in business and trade. Still others burn with a passion for all of life’s pleasures, and want to see it all and do it all before the sun sets on their short lives.
Regions of Hestralia
Few actually live in Costa Nera, though many find cause to pass through. Positioned in the Northwest crook between Gotha and Hestralia, the Black Coast is a gloomy, abandoned land, where the sun never pierces the clouds. Bordering on the wine-dark Sea of Ink, it is sparsely populated, instead being a haven for pirates and cutthroats. Its dreary condition is due to it being the location of the Black Spot, the region that permits no light, with Vigevano, the famous pirate port, just outside.
The first area of resettling of Hestralia during the Lion Age, the Southwestern Carminia region is densely populated and a powerful industrial region. The Carminian people are respected for their shipwright and production, but they have been in financial decline since the end of the unification with their long-time rival of the northern Costa Luceste.
The rolling hills of central Hestralia are known for its landscapes, history, artistic legacy and its wine. Its cities, starkly divided by their factional loyalties, mark fortified areas between sweeping vistas of farmlands and vineyards.
The highlands of Montanara sit at the foot of the Vigil range in Northern Hestralia, and are the most culturally distinct from the rest of Hestralia. Rocky and colder, the region controls the land and river routes through the country, and was the last to unify. Their people are thought of as arrogant, but serious and competent by other Hestralians.
The Northeastern coastal region of Hestralia is home to its capital, Aquila, and enjoys a profitable trade relationship with Sha’ra and Capacionne. Its beautiful beaches and coastal settlements have made it grow much rapidly than other regions of the country. Known for its banking, silk and spice trade and cosmopolitan nature, Costa Luceste is the iconic image of what the world thinks of as Hestralia.
The Southeastern region of the country survived the turmoils of the last age the best of all, and has a comparatively huge diversity of plants and animals. Known especially for its leather and and beef, Durata is home to many fortresses and ruins from Hestralia’s ancient history.
The Sisters are the names for the many islands that line the Eastern coast of the country, as well as the disputed crescent islands in the Hestron Sea. The islands are thought of as more relaxed, and are littered with still standing castles from both ancient tribal kingdoms and elves. Many poets and scholars come from the sisters, and they boast some of the finest shipwrights in the world, but their distance from the central power of Hestralia, as well as other claims by Shariqyn and Capacionne ensure that many of the Sisters are often in passive rebellion, asserting their independence from the unified Hestralian kingdom.
Coat of Arms: A black crow spreading its wings on a purple field
Maxim: Never Let Them Forget
Keep: The Drowned Citadel
City of Influence: Aquila
House Dilacorvo are the quintessence of the Hestralian spirit. They trace their lineage back to the pirate kings of old, and have had many victories and losses across Hestralia’s bloody history. Perhaps more than any other faction in that long history, however, the Dilacorvo have found a way to profit from that bloodshed.
In the early years of the Lion Age, the bloodline claims that the pirate captain, Caesario the Crow, is the one who finally killed the Witchking Geryon, Prince of Thorns with a weapon of darkness looted from the Abyss. Whether true or not, they largely get the credit for it since no one can say otherwise. Funding the building of a small army through raids of southern Gothic territories like Litenam and the wealthy island Dukedom of Wazziro, even exploiting their political rivalries and wars against each other, Contra Dillacorvo amassed hidden caches of treasure all along Hestralia’s jagged coasts. In the bloody ages of warring Dukes, Costica Dilacorvo formed the Corvidia, a dreaded condottieri band that became so successful that they began demanding castles and holdfasts as payment, until finally Costica’s beautiful and ruthless daughter, Cosmina Dilacorvo, called the Iron Dove, took the city of Aquila from the wealthy Fuoco Dukes that had held it for so long, extinguishing their bloodline to the ashes of history and looting their unsounded coffers. It was Dilacorvo sails that flew at the head of the armadas that finally defeated the League of Dukes and claimed the title of Kingship over long fractured Hestralia.
House Dilacorvo prides itself on its ability to win, and win with style to spare. In some ways, their ability to waste effort on style is what gives them the dangerous reputation that they enjoy, and their scions spend equal time on leisure as discipline, making sure to let the world know how easy victory comes to them with frequent displays of ostentatious wealth, lavish parties where unthinkable amounts of money are spent on colored black powder fireworks fired by golden cannons, masquerades that take place on flotillas of warships in the Aquila harbor, and many other displays that demonstrate not only their wealth and their willingness to spend it on spectacle and adventure, but also the subtle but inescapable presence of their military might.
- Aquila is a city of endless alleyways and canals, and one of the most populous places in the entire Throne. Its many districts vary from the obscenely wealthy, facades shaped from corrugated marble boasting masterpieces of statuary, to the truly wretched, little more than sticks of driftwood piled high and crudely nailed on great rafts made of the bloated wood of the crumbling boardwalks.
- The canals and bays of Aquila are famous for their wildlife, especially sharks, which haunt the water nearly everywhere, and shark meat is an especial delicacy in Aquila. Blood sports involving shark hunting are exhibition events on the frequent festival days, and feats of manliness involving swimming with or knife-hunting sharks compete with acts of hot-headed revenge for the leading causes of death of young men in Aquila.
- The city itself is largely built upon an elven ruin from ancient days in the Age of Heroes when elves still inhabited much of what is today the Throne. While so much has been destroyed in the many wars of Hestralia’s bloody ages, many beautiful elven gardens, complete with surviving statues and murals of inexpressible beauty survive throughout the city, and are favorite places for lovers to visit and soak up the wonder of the inhuman sensitivity of the elven craftsmen and crimson roses that bloom all year long. The Drowned Citadel itself, an enormous tower jutting from the sea, apparently built upon the sea floor and upward some 160 feet above sea level, is itself an ancient elven structure. Even today scholars have no idea how it was constructed, save by magics even the masters of the Guild of Earth Magicians cannot duplicate.
The Dancers are the royal knights of House Dilacorvo. Their simple name is an irony in the face of their ostentatious swagger, as they are killers and performers both, making a show and an art form of their dauntless grace in the face of what other men would find terror at.
As the elite soldati of the royal family, they are matchless fighters using poise and speed to dumbfound their opponents with gymnastic grace. Trained to be shipboard corsairs like the pirate kings of old, the Dancer’s primary role was to leap from the tallest ship masts and make it to the distant rigging of enemy vessels as the waves pitched them close during broadsides. During the increasingly frequent times of peace, the Dancers perform during festivals by dueling gladiators on buoyed grids of wooden platforms in the middle of the bay, after great sharks have been lured by chum. Each gladiator that falls into the shark infested waters below drives the beasts madder and madder, until finally they begin to breach water and leap for the survivors on the planks. The Dancers then kill the sharks with hooked spears as the predators leap over head, managing that at the same time they avoid the shark’s rapid leaping bite and keeping their footing on the shifting wooden platforms. Like all things Dilacorvo, they never let you forget their ability to draw blood with style to spare.
Patron Angel: Cyanahim
Patron Saint: Corvo d’Aquila
The Ordo dell’arte are characterized by their elaborate masks, which they wear at all times and on all occasions that they are in public. No one knows the true identity of any of any member of this order, but they can be seen with regularity throughout the streets of Aquila, where they walk both day and night, alone and in pairs. It is not uncommon to see them operating small puppet theaters, or to find them putting on small one act plays on corners or in piazzas, wearing different masks to symbolize different roles while acting out a morality story or some more cryptic message. Invariably people stop and watch such performances, and offer coin donations before walking away in wonder. It is unclear exactly what this mysterious order’s specific aims or mission are, but rumors abound of chuckling masked priests encountered saying last rites over groups of mangled corpses, or spying a sliver of moonlight catching on white mask under black cloak fluttering on a distant tile roof, high above the canals at night.