[ruling species:: Empyreans
[native language:: Common
[monarch(s):: Cylene Slithersteel
APPEARANCE: Istu'gan is as much a fortified mine as it is a city. Dwellings are carved from solid rock, and excavated stone is added to the great wall surrounding the town, which is formed to provide defenders an abundance of ambush spots. The town was built around a mythmetal mine, with the protective wall being built as the mine and town were both expanded. The deepest tunnels are carefully watched for signs of openings into underground chambers that may connect to Empyrean territory.
CULTURE: The mythmetal found in the mine provides Istu'gan with an abundance of wealth, usually in the form of trade with other mythkin. It is also not uncommon for some of the mythkin to sneak into Ravekos to steal the bones from human bodies, whether the dead be natural, or failed Empyreans, despite the danger these remains pose. Mythmetal veins are heavily coveted, and it's quite common for claims to change hands rather frequently, due to murder or coercion.
APPEARANCE: Little exists on the surface of the mighty fortress that once stood there, but the fortress-city beneath the ground is every bit as grand as the one that once stood on the surface. Mighty stone gates ward off any would-be interlopers, and a vast parade ground surrounded by numerous barracks stand near a towering citadel that reached from the cavern floor to its ceiling.
CULTURE: Kadrath is the headquarters for the majority of the Slithersteel military, and frequent military exercises take place on the city's parade ground. Much like Neraka, Kadrath never sleeps, and part of its army stands ready to oppose any invader at a moment's notice.
APPEARANCE: A massive, spell-blasted spire made of dark stone towers high above the scattered ruins around its base, its top reaching the dark, low-lying clouds that blanket the skies above the Darklands. Within the spire, numerous labyrinthine passageways twist and turn, with many in ruins. However, deep beneath the surface, a vast city lies within a series of vast caverns, hewn from stone, and reinforced with solid steel. Lit by an eerie glow from enchanted gemstones, the base of the spire above serves as a palace.
CULTURE: The heart of the Darklands, Neraka is the capitol city of the secretive Empyreans. Hidden from the light of the sun, moon, and stars, Neraka never sleeps. Metal ore from beneath the Darklands is brought to Neraka for refining, while activity on the surface is closely monitored by scout reports and scrying.
APPEARANCE: The only Empyrean city that lies on the surface, Ravekos is tucked up against a steep, jagged mountain range, and divided into upper and lower sections. The lower section is reserved for non-Empyreans who hope to one day earn the right to become Empyreans themselves, or who are undergoing indoctrination. The upper section possesses far better housing and accommodations than the lower.
CULTURE: Ravekos is the only city in the Darklands to have non-Empyreans living in it, although most of them are either aspiring to be or are on their way to being Empyreans themselves. Slithersteel indoctrination takes place among those who live in the lower section, and the Empyreans keep them in line by controlling the only clean water in the city, which is pumped up from underground.
APPEARANCE: A number of near-intact structures lie beneath the waves, and secreted among the underwater ruins is the entrance to Skaara. The lower halls and chambers of Skaara are underwater, while the upper reaches are dry. Numerous gates and traps serve as strong deterrents to potential interlopers. The city itself is a mixture of carved stone and coral, and gleaming metal enchanted to resist corrosion.
CULTURE: Skaara serves as a secret way for Empyreans to reach the surface of the Darklands, as well as keep a close watch on any approaching vessels. Any vessel deemed to be snooping too close to where it shouldn't be, or carrying artifacts or people that could reveal the existence of the Empyreans is sunk, and its crew and passengers slaughtered. Within the city, artifacts recovered from beneath the sea are examined, and sent to Neraka for further study and use.
APPEARANCE: Smoldering pits and scattered stones stand as mute testament to the destruction delivered upon the Darklands in days long past. But beneath the surface, Ungor has been rebuilt. Little more than a series of haphazard structures at the heart of a twisting sprawl of mineshafts and tunnels, this city is the primary source for the raw metals refined in Neraka.
CULTURE: The mines of Ungor are a hotbed of activity. Slithersteel demands copious amounts of raw metals, and the Empyreans toil endlessly to extract it from the stone. When not engaged in mining operations, Ungor oversees expeditions into the various cavern systems that connect the underground domains, and implements reinforcing supports where the rock has been weakened.