Dassivet, Soul of the West
Dassivet is the capital city of the Treatise of Ariad, the Westernmost City-State composed of a series of allied trade regions sprinkled on the inland ranges of the Continent of Kalderra. It is now the primary trade and commerce capital of the entire Western Hemisphere of Tarrea, with what one might call a golden grip on the many other City-States and Kingdoms nearby. It's led to a great many strange alliances with Dassivet, as well as the making of many enemies. It is headed by a group of Lord High Councilors who sit on the Council of Merchants, glorified business owners and trade-lords who have clawed their way into their cutthroat office—-making decisions for 'the good of Dassivet and its many investors.' They could be replaced at any time by way of business deals, murder, calumny, losing their assets or control over their districts, or failing the rest of the council. Their 'election' is normally gleaned from information retrieved by a guild of political accountants, Keepers of the Coin, who utilize a massive spy network and secret police force to uncover all sorts of information and report it to the council accordingly, at which point the council decides by law and tradition if a council member shall stay or go depending on the financial and political data they receive. Unfortunately for the Council members, they are prone to both a high and unexpected turnover rate. There are protections by law for the council members but they are rarely heeded under the table, only truly in public service. Presiding above the Keepers of the Coin and below the Council of Merchants, a secondary council of 'religious' Magisters (known simply as the eponymous Dassivetian Magisters) advise The Lord High Councilors in all matters of state, business, politics, judiciary, and war—-as well as acting as Ambassadors to all foreign entities, essentially deciding the fate of the regions of control and playing chess with the whole of Dassivet's resources at its disposal. One might say the City is actually largely controlled by the Dassivetian Magisters, while the Council of Merchants act as primped public figureheads with an eye for obtaining and keeping coin and power. When people voice that sentiment, however…it doesn't normally end well.
The historical origins of Dassivet are truly tragic. During the Drow's first voyage to Tarrea from Illerageld around the same time as their other Elven brethren, the Spider Queens of the Adeldark burrowed deep beneath the surface of Dassivet—-which was then a simple black sand island not far from shore. The Spider Queens and the Drow formed an entire city beneath the island, its mountainous dormant volcano humming away and serving as their forge and kiln. The City became so large and so efficient, there were entrances to it from both the island and from the continental shore in the form of two very large black gates which still stand and serve as migratory entrances to Dassivet to this day.
As the Drow thrived, humans and other mortals traveled Kalderra, eventually coming upon the doors of the great Drow City. The self-proclaimed elven businessman Arteca Taven of ancient Llarevi (no longer standing or in existence) arrived at their doors with promise of fine trades and goods, a snake oil salesman if ever there was. Despite being invited in due to good Drow hospitality, he wore out his welcome rather quickly after offering his penis to one Drow Queen too many. Determined to buy, fuck, or murder his way into power over the Drow and their incredible magical resources, he reappeared with a Dwarven surveyor he hired from a nearby tavern to inform the Drow that they would be better off mining their sacred sparkling caves and taking advantage of the massive ores of minerals in the walls to sell and trade as goods. The Drow were hesitant but pleased with the idea of gaining resources, opening their walls with some minor trade at first, but eventually told the Arteca to exit the city and never return after yet another incident of indecent exposure in the presence of a Drow Queen.
Arteca was not so easily assuaged. He decided to take a powerful mage known only as 'Irefaite' to the island of Dassivet in the dead of night, where Irefaite triggered the dormant volcano sitting on the Eastern side of the island, committing a great and terrible genocide against the Drow. They were forced to flee into the caverns of the surrounding mountains while Arteca proclaimed the island and resources below his own. Arteca's luck ran out when Irefaite impaled Arteca on his staff, imbued him with an arcane catalyst, and tossed him into the pit of the dormant volcano, sealing him in the quickly solidifying magma permanently.
Irefaite went on to found Dassivet as a free market kingdom without the bounds or laws of kings, helmed by a 'court of greedy fools' and 'controlled by only the most cunning,' becoming Tarrea's first purported 'free city' and amassing a population in earnest. Irefaite, feeling it would only be correct and fair to the Drow, offered their land back to them in exchange for labor down in the ruins of their former city, assuring them that they would be granted freedom and a chance at climbing the Great Chain of Industry like anyone else who approaches the gate of Dassivet if they worked for that freedom. When the Drow amassed enough resources to appease Irefaite, he made them build the 10 towers of the Golden Mount, which stand to this day and house the members of the Dassivetian Magisters, surrounding the Grand Palace of the Golden Mount as if to keep a watchful eye on their enterprise. Only after their completion did Irefaite allow them free license to trade and open mercantile enterprises of their own volition. However, the markets did not (and still don't) prove very friendly to the openly frowned-upon lowborn Drow, and frequently saw a great deal of them return to the Drow Ruins to mine for a meager living. Killed, forced into labor in order to live on their own land, and spat upon by superiors—-the Drow persevered. Day after day they dug and mined through the ruins, finding their own kin burned alive in their own armor, fused to the metal and clothes they once wore. But, it came with the knowledge that the Drow armor, flesh and all, might fetch a median price on the market. Being paid for someone else's sin became the norm. Desperation is the mother of numb action, after all. Eventually the Drow, after a few centuries of that, literally mining obsidian out of the lava that killed masses of their people on the ruins which were once proud and opulent beneath the ground and sea—-they were essentially left to the throes of the market to survive. They had to learn Common. They had to learn crafting. They hard to learn economics. All of this—-the hard way. All the citizenry underneath the temperamental market had to climb and scrabble up the stairs to try and reach the top, where everyone wants to be.
Geographically speaking, Dassivet is a very large island with rather tall, sloping cliffs towards the upper end of the citadel, close enough to land to have a viable, sailable body of water between itself and the shores of Kalderra, yet still deep enough to house the ancient Drow caverns stretching beneath the water leading into the continent at the shore. The trail starting there on the Kalderran shore is formally called 'The Steppe of Seasons' since it, in Dassivetian lore, starts the season on land, enters a dark cold set of caverns, reappears near the heated and humid Docklands and slums, climbs further up into the Manufacturing (Crafter's) District, then the Market District (the largest district), the Coining District where the wealthiest dwell, the Dassi Colleges, and then at the highest points of the city, the Ten Towers surround the Palace of the Golden Mount the over the city. These thousands of steps lead all the way from continental land into the palace itself.
Politically, the influence of the city has a virtual gridlock on surrounding nations, more or less using them for strip-mining, and extorting all surrounding communities by buying more land. Logging, mining, digging, panning, even putting prices on the lowest commodities. Even though the 'city' itself is on the island, a good piece of the western continent belongs to the city itself, growing constantly as the Council of Merchants bribes landowners and renders kingdoms so far into debt that the merchants have wonderful opportunities to make a virtual power grab and declare the citizens of that kingdom now 'free citizens' of Dassivet. Since it's a 'free market' there are obviously no tariffs or restrictions on what merchants can ask customers to pay so all merchants are cutthroat bastards more or less, to some extent—-to the point that if you're one of the higherborn merchants or a member of a privileged class, offering too low of a price on an item to someone while haggling is considered rude. Extremely opulent merchants and dignitaries who stay here to remain in the good graces of what is essentially one of Tarrea's biggest money pits, and thrive on the back of the proletariat.
In very recent years, an all out war broke out with the Kingdom of Odul, a powerful and well fortified nation to the Northwest of Kalderra, when they began to use their own powers of enterprise to forcibly obtain lands and resources from Dassivet, effectively dividing the Treatise of Ariad. Odul contracted the Pirates of Davadjal to put Dassivet into a state of Siege, bolstered by its own Navy to give its support to the Pirates. The conflict lasted for five years, but a stalemate was finally reached and the regional lines of ownership were redrawn in Dassivet's favor since Odul was forced to pay restitution for starting the war with violence rather than diplomacy. Upon the return of all its soldiers, and the Great Siege of Dassivet was ended—-the citizenry who served Dassivet expected to be rewarded for their services to the Council of Merchants, but were given what amounted to a pat on the head and being told to 'get back to work.' This did not sit well with the populace, and the approval rating reached an all time low. The Keepers of the Coin sent in their forces to root out dissent and kill people voicing their protest, but were met with surprising resistance from all the veterans of the recent war. Notably at the center of it all were two incredible veterans, Iniralchath 'Nir' Dalzhind, an ancestral Drow, and the Half Drow, Half Goliath warrioress Veera Azad, who roused the population of Dassivet to rise against the Great Chain, storming each district and taking it for their own under the rule of the people. Eventually they reached the Palace of the Golden Mount, as well as the Congregate of Magisters, fighting bitterly until their deaths and mutual disappearance, having freed all Dassivetians from their seemingly eternal prison beneath the Capitalist regime.