The Drow Empire is as large as it is beautiful. It lies across the Atria from the United Human Holds on the far side of The Chasm and Eriava T’Ri (Lake Crystal Calm). The Drow have spent millennia sculpting their towers and minarets and artfully laying out fo’glia (the glowing fungus that the peoples of Infra use for natural light). Now, in the largest chasms of the Atria, blue-white oceans of light can be seen from plateaus above. These are the cities of the Drow.
The Drow Empire is ruled by a Sourceror-King, Adiminys, whose existence is the font of all Dark Elven life. Though is position is not technically life long, Adiminys has served out his position for as long as any Drow can remember, pre-dating even the arrival of the first humans.
The elves nurtured a violent dislike of surface dwellers, particularly surface dwelling fey, for the first hundreds of years they lived in Infra. Time has cooled their fury and now they just have a distaste for those fey that live in the wash of the sun. They do not envy their brethren and believe that subterranean life is ideal. Now they simply exist in pursuit of life and lore and the scholarly, though their martial practitioners are some of the greatest around thanks to centuries of honing their skills in the darkness of Infra.
In the years since ceding the lands around The Great Stairway to the Exiled humans, the Drow have begun to cultivate mushrooms to feed their population. Though they have had some success, they are still almost completely dependent upon the shipments received from the Holds to sustain their people. This provides an intricate balancing game for the Drow and Humans to play — the Drow could likely crush the Exiles, but not without first being starved and blooded, perhaps irreparably.
The Drow Empire boasts a standing army that may be equal to the entire population of a single Exile city and their own settlements are like glimmering pillars of light and beauty within the harsh darkness and climes of Infra.
Cities of the Drow Empire
Shaer’Tu A’Lass (City of the Source)
Shaer-Tu A’Lass occupies the North-most region of the northern most gallery that is under Drow rule. It is known as the City of the Source by the Drow, who’s Sourceror-King calls this beacon of light in the darkness his home. The City of the Source is the single largest, most metropolitan settlement in Infra and boasts many districts — each having sprung up as the necessity of more space arose from a growing population.
The center piece of Shaer’Tu A’Lass is A’Tiva Nu’A’Tha (The Tower Beneath the World), the royal tower of the Sourceror-King Adiminys, which was carved from a breath taking, massive stalagmite.
Shaer’Tu A’Cel (City of Circles)
The City of Circles is known as such for its use of the natural caves that perforate the walls against which it rests. The caves form large arcs that take dwellers from one end of the city to the next. The City of Circles is a metropolis of scholarly minded Elves and Exiles who undertake archaeological and arcane pursuits. It boasts the most well known, and restricted, arcane college in Infra — some say that the college even employs dangerously powerful Tiefling arcanists, though this could hardly be proven.
Shaer’Aen Hal (City Against the Wall)
Shaer’Aen Hal is a fortress city that overlooks the vast chasm separating the last of the Drow galleries from the atrium that acts as a buffer between the Drow Empire and the atria inhabited by the Exiles. The fortress was formed from the face of the plateau that the settlements of the Empire sit on, looking out across the chasm and the bridge that spans it. It is a haunting and beautiful sight to see the dim blue lights wavering in the window slats from the other side of the bridge leading into the City Against the Wall.
Shaer’Tu A’Fala (City of Songs)
The City of Songs (or the City of Lies) is a smallish city that rests around the edges of a fumarole in the depths of the World-Beneath-the-World. The fumarole emits long, low moans or high pitched squeals at random in addition to smoke and gas from somewhere far below. Some also know Shaer’Tu Fala as the City of Lies because there is a rumor that an elite group of Drow warriors operates out of it, selling and buying information that could be worth the lives of whole villages.
Tiva’Tu A’Galoth (The Jeweled Tower)
Tiva’Tu A’Galoth was built around a tower the Drow found that was abandoned many cycles before their own arrival and created many cycles before that. The tower emits a sense of oppression and the habitats that have sprung up around it defy elven architecture and remain squat, as if being held down by the weight of the tower itself. The tower is adorned with ever-lit, bluish flames that flicker intermittently, unlike the bioluminescent algae the Drow cultivate for their own lighting purposes.
Regardless of all of this, the Drow still occupy the tower and guard its interiors well. Foreigners who travel to the Jeweled Tower are never shown beyond a very well defined set of rooms within it.
Shaer’I A’Ri (The Crystal City)
The Crystal City is a settlement on the edge of Eravia T’Ri (The Crystal Calm), the massive, underground sea in one of the Drow galleries. The water is black and the city seems to melt right into it, with homes that perch over top of the water. The Crystal City is home to a metropolitan cross-roads between Shaer’Aen Hal and the rest of the Drow settlements.
Thas Shaeress (City of Gardens)
Thas Shaeress is a city that has much in common with monk-like societies of the surface world. The entire city has been sculpted from the surrounding stalagmites, though it hardly looks like a city from the outside perspective. The central plaza is a massive series of “stone gardens,” walk-ways that wind in and out of both natural and artificial stalagmites. The City of Gardens is home to a monastery of Drow clerics who worship the Sourceror-King fervently.