The city of Ust’ssyli (dancing fire) attainted its name from the frequent faerie fire spells being practiced in the enormous school of magery. The school is the third most infamous among the drow kingdom, situated in a well travelled region of the Underdark the city trades with several denizens of the realms below selling their main commodity of a rare poison extracted from a plant known as ‘Black venom’ because of its extraordinary potency.
Wedged between solid rock on one side and the shores of an underground lake on the other the underdark city is isolated from attack and completely self sufficient. Ust’ssyli’s buildings are hewn from a form of strengthened spider silk that hold various decorations of drow design most of which depict their mighty spider queen Lloth. Blackened walls were erected around the city upon its initial founding to provide a defensive barrier to deter and repel intruders and wandering bandits. Ust’ssyli is divided into four districts each of which contain a number of interesting sites and key resources that are vital to the cities survival.
A large deposit of faerzress is located in the eastern district along with the infamous school of magery the ‘Tortured tower’ a marvel of drow craftsmanship in itself its structure turns and twists upward from its base in a contorted and seemingly chaotic manor that many consider to be beautiful.
The northern district is dominated by the palace of Sil’Anara the ruling house within the city, however two other houses exist in the city both of which are always subtly seeking to destroy the reputation of the other they are house Mor-Ithil and house D’lakten.
The main attraction of the city to merchants and enterprising adventurers alike would have to be in the western district which, for lack of a better name is usually referred to as the ‘Black Bazaar’ one of the best black markets this side of Menzoborranzan where an assortment of magical as well as exotic goods can be purchased for the right price.
The southern district holds the residence of nobles from house Mor-Ithil who live and also teach at the Spider-fang Academy renown for turning out skilled assassins and warriors, situated alongside the main building of the Academy is a duerger blacksmith who is respected in this region of the sunless lands for his talent at shaping metal, however he refuses to enchant weapons or armour (under threat of death from the merchant house of D’lakten).
Approximately twelve thousand drow live in the city of dancing fire roughly one thousand of which are nobles belonging to one of the three houses, also dwelling within the city are twenty thousand slaves gained from various places who now serve the drow citizens, the races of which are commonly dwarves, hobgoblins, orcs and svirfneblin.
Around four hundred visitors reside in Ust’Ssyli at any given time, some of which are powerful and deadly creatures like Aboleth, Deep Dragons and fiends from the abyssal planes, Illithids being one of the exceptions to this.
An Illithid hive was recently established thirty miles away west of Ust’Ssyli and the Illithids have been involved in skirmishes with the drow ever since, travellers to the city would be wise to hire an escort if journeying with a caravan towards the city from the west in case of raids.
The range of goods one can purchase in Ust’Ssyli is extensive but its main produce are as follows- body dies and other augmentations, casks and pottery(fashioned from calcified webs), everdark ink( made from deep dragon scales dissolved in acid), expertly crafted weapons and armour, poisons, potions, subterranean lizards(specially trained and bred and used for riding or transporting goods),rothe wool, meat, cheese, spells, textiles, and quantities of water(prized by creatures travelling long distances).
Armed Forces of the Underdark
Ust’Ssyli is garrisoned by about eight thousand drow troops and four thousand slaves, all soldiers regardless of race serve one of the three noble houses which are expected to contribute a portion of their soldiers to the joint defence of the city when it is threatened by hostile forces.
Drow wizards and priests exceeding two thousand in number also dwell within the city, apart from nobles these wizards and priests are expected to perform at least one month per year of military service. Patrols outside the city usually include between twenty and thirty drow warriors as well as two or more wizards or fighter/mages and at least one priest or fighter/cleric who lead these patrols.
Inns and Taverns
The inns and taverns cater predominantly to duergar and drow, though humans and other races will be tolerated.
The Slaughtered Lamb
A massive establishment that allows patrons to indulge their sadistic lusts over a mug of ale, outfitted with the latest in bondage and torture devises customers may either participate in one of the private ‘dungeons’ which are off to the side of the main entertainment or perch upon one of the hundreds of stools situated around a gigantic cage within which there are held vicious displays of various pain inducing performances by a slave master and a few of their slaves.
If one were to seek the solitude of the dungeons they are advised to bring a partner or servant they wish to torment and then pay the required fee at the bar for the usage of the companies equipment, whips, chains, shackles and other conventional items may be found in the dungeons along with a few delicious inventions from the legendary gnome ‘Whip-tongue’ Wallish. (Located in western district)
Brothel Of Barbaric Pleasures
A circular building weaved from calcified spider silk and decorated with alluring portraits across its exterior once inside a patron pays at the desk and then is lead off to one of the twelve bedrooms where they may select one of our male stallions, the rooms themselves contain a king size bed of drow design littered with cushions and a complimentary chain with shackles attached looped neatly around a pole above the bed.
A favourite among many of the cities nobles the brothel has even been favoured by the presence of one of the matron mothers daughters, which they remember with fondness and a subtle sense of accomplishment if ever asked. (Located in western district)
Spider-Slice is actually a large fighting pit where drow warriors may either compete against their comrades or against exotic monsters captured throughout the Underdark. As one enters through the steel gate into the spider-silk structure they walk along a platform that is surrounded on either side by a bottomless drop and lined with spikes, ascending two or three steps you would find yourself in the middle of the establishment where your attention would immediately be drawn to a huge portrait of B’esctra, a legendary fighter of the pit.
With the monster pen on the right and the fighting pit directly to your right as two choices of destination and a bar positioned ahead of you where one may purchase any number of imported beverages and even purchase a potion or two it is little wonder Spider-Slice is one of the most popular places in the city. (Located in southern district)
This establishment is hewn from natural rock and caters mainly to deurgar customers due to the small, low cut entrance and the thick aroma of coal and dirt( used to simulate the smell of a mine shaft, which duergar appear to find favourable), if one were brave enough to venture into the pitch black building they would be greeted by a hearty duergar barman and just as quickly challenged to a drinking contest using the duergar’s own brew of ‘stone splitter’ ale that truly does wreak havoc on one’s liver. (Located in western district)