Isolabirre Settlement in Derkomai | World Anvil


Isolabirre is the large underground capital city of Yfel. It was constructed in a huge natural cavern which has been shaped by the Drow Elvirim deep under the Isola citadel. It is home to the largest population of Drow on Derkomai, and seat of six Drow noble Houses: House Zaquarn, House Alierma, House Drynalaer, House Khanlatzeza, House Kwaavaen, and House Siltevelar.


There are roughly 8000 Drow Elvirim living within the underground chambers of Isolabirre. Of those 8000, about 1600 are members of one of the noble Houses. House Zaquarn has about 450 members. House Alierma has about 400. House Drynalaer has about 300. House Khanlatzeza has about 250. House Kwaavaen has about 125. House Siltevelar has about 75. The rest of the Drow, those not members of a noble House, are commoners. They have smaller clan affiliations, but those clans have fewer members and are not considered noble; though some are influential as merchants, crafters, or warriors, or have somewhat important positions within the government.   Living in the slave quarters of the castle above Isolabirre are about 10,000 slaves.   About 600 are Human, some captured in raids on Koyon and Sudland, but many born into slavery. The Human slaves are primarily employed as overseers and many cooperate voluntarily with the Drow.   About 200 are Dwarvirim, mostly serving as craftsmen and builders. Their ability to shape metal and rock is highly valued, so they are generally well-treated, but the Drow are wary of them, as the Dwarvirim will kill Drow whenever there is an opportunity. The Drow closely monitor the Dwarvirim slaves, and make sure that they are always outnumbered by well-armed Drow warriors wherever they are working.   Nearly all of the rest of the slaves are Orkrim, used as muscle and to perform the most menial and dirty work. The Orkrim are often hostile and violent, so they work in chains and are regularly and publicly beaten and tortured to ensure compliance. The Drow also employ cruel social manipulation to enforce obedience: the Orkrim work in crews of eight that are organized into companies consisting of ten crews. If an Orkrim on a crew is hostile to an overseer, whether Human or Drow, the entire crew is forced to watch as that Orkrim is tortured. If that Orkrim is at all hostile again, the entire crew is tortured as the entire company is forced to watch. If any Orkrim on that crew is hostile in any way again, the company is gathered to watch as the entire crew is bound and thrown into the Well of the Lost. Over time, the Orkrim slaves have learned fear and obedience, but outbreaks of hostility and violence still occur often.   There are a few slaves captured by the Drow from species that are rarely encountered. Some the Drow call "Koboldrim." Others are "Halvirim," and others "Nomoedrim." Most of the slaves of those races don't live long in the brutal conditions of Isolabirre.


Isolabirre is governed by a ruling council made up of the six Tygowriat of the noble Houses; however, only four of the Tygowriat have any influence. House Kwaavaen was cast down by House Alierma and nearly destroyed. The Tygowriat of House Kwaavaen, Menzistrael Tygowriat'Kwaavaen, dares not open her mouth in the council without the approval of Luaraenil Tygowriat'Alierma, Tygowriat of House Alierma. House Siltevelar is outcast, and Shulvallriel Tygowriat'Siltevelar, Tygowriat of the House is only present at any meeting of the Council when Sazzok Tygowriat'Zaquarn of House Zaquarn demands her attendance.   In practice, most of the day to day operations of the city are overseen by the Gowriat advisors to the six Tygowriat and their Medriat and Aelriat assistants. Drow Elvirim commoners are employed as managers, and slaves of other species, some Human and Dwarvirim, and many Orkrim perform whatever work is required. The seat of government is in the Council of Houses, and that is where many of the Drow work at the tasks required to manage the city. The slaves are not permitted to live in the underground chambers of Isolabirre; they are kept in quarters within the castle on the surface protecting the entrances to the city. Every day, they are marched in chains down into the chambers to perform their tasks.


Being entirely underground and protected by the Yfeljang, Isolabirre has no defensive structures, other than the castle on the surface guarding the gated entrance stairways leading down to the Upper Chamber. The slave quarters within the castle are behind stone walls and thick iron bars, and the quarters of the Orkrim slaves are dug into stone-lined pits in the ground, leaving no chance for escape.

Industry & Trade

Isolabirre carries out some overland trade, primarily with Teiyon. Caravans from Teiyon travel to the border post at Nylabirra where they meet with Human representatives of the Drow at Isolabirre to buy goods, either with gold, silver, or precious gemstones, or in trade for high-quality crafted items made in Isolabirre by slaves. Items made by Drow are not traded with outsiders. Caravans, traders, or any other foreigners are not permitted to enter the heart of Yfel.   Some ships stop at the Yfel port cities of Nodminto, Heiminto, and Soriminto to trade with representatives of Isolabirre. Often the trading ships are, in fact, pirate ships, as legitimate trading ships of other countries are unwilling to make port anywhere in Yfel. Captains of The Red Flag Fleet frequent Nodminto and Heiminto after raiding along the coasts of Senyon, Sudland, and Rigosland, exchanging silks, furs, and other products for gold, silver, precious gems, and whatever items made in Yfel catch their fancy. Some say Hsing Jenlee has been seen in Nodminto.


Isolabirre is constructed in five levels. Proceeding from closest to the surface progressively deeper, they are the Upper Chambers, the Lower Chambers, the Deep Chambers, the Far Depths, and the Forbidden Depths.   The Upper Chambers are where four of the six Houses are located. House Zaquarn, House Alierma, House Drynalaer, and House Khanlatzeza are in the Upper Chambers. The four Houses in the Upper Chamber are within walled compounds constructed in the enormous cavern of the Upper Chambers, with House Zaquarn and House Alierma in the largest compounds, next to each other at the east end of the cavern separated by a natural stone wall. House Zaquarn is north of the wall, and House Alierma is to the south. House Drynalaer and House Khanlatzeza are in smaller walled compounds on the west side of the cavern. House Khanlatzeza is at the southwest corner of the roughly rectangular cavern. House Drynalaer is on the north side of the cavern, west of House Zaquarn. To the west of House Drynalaer is a large underground lake, known as Crystal Lake. The lake is fed by water dripping from hundreds of large crystalline stalagmites hanging from the ceiling of the cavern. The bottom and sides are lined with thousands and thousands of naturally luminescent crystals of all sizes, some taller than an average Drow Elvirim. There is a small stream that flows out of the Crystal Lake to a pool at the west end of the cavern. The pool feeds a waterfall that spills down into the Lower Chambers. Next to the pool, there is a gate leading to a wide stairway carved out of the rock leading down to the Lower Chambers.   Within the compound of House Zaquarn, there are two stairways protected by iron gates. One leads to the castle on the surface that protects the entrance to Isolabirre. The other leads to the citadel of the Yfeljang, Isola. Only the Interface may use that stairway, and only she has the keys to the gate protecting it.   Within the compound of House Alierma is a single stairway leading to the castle on the surface that protects the entrance to Isolabirre. Thus, House Zaquarn and House Alierma control all passage to and from underground Isolabirre. No one enters or exits the city without their leave.   Between the compounds of House Drynalaer and House Khanlatzeza lies the building of the Council of Houses, the seat of government of Isolabirre. It is a six-side pyramid of six storeys constructed of cut stone. Each storey is given to the offices of the managing Gowriat, Medriat, and Aelriat of one House, with House Zaquarn and the main council chamber on the top floor, House Alierma on the next floor down, Drynalaer below House Alierma, Khanlatzeza below Drynalaer, Kwaavaen below Khanlatzeza, and finally, on the bottom floor, House Siltevelar. The offices of House Kwaaven are rarely occupied, and those of House Siltevelar are empty.  
  In the Lower Chambers, the waterfall coming from the Upper Chamber cascades into a pool worn into the rock. From the pool flows a stream that leads to another waterfall spilling over the side of the Well of the Lost, a bottomless hole at the northwest corner of the rock floor of the cavern about 50 feet (15 meters) across. Just to the south and east of the Well of the Lost is the squat, black, rectangular building of the Court of Denunciation. Within are prison cells, torture chambers, and the Hall of Judgment. Those convicted of crimes in the Hall of Judgment are bound and thrown into the Well of the Lost. No one knows how long they fall, but their screams fade away long before they reach the bottom.   At the middle of the Lower Chamber on the north wall of the cavern is a stairway cut into the rock leading further down to the Deep Chamber. The rest of the Lower Chamber is filled with the large apartment buildings of the wealthier Drow commoners. The bottom storey of the apartment buildings hold shops and businesses serving the commoners.  
  The Deep Chamber holds the compound of the cast-down House Kwaavaen. The Deep Chamber has not been shaped as much as the Upper and Lower Chambers, so it is irregular, and much is still in its natural state. On the north of the Deep Chamber is the stairway coming from the Lower Chamber. On the south is a stairway leading down to the Far Depths. In some areas of the Deep Chamber, the floor, walls, and ceiling are covered in naturally luminescent crystals, similar to those lining the bottom of Crystal Lake. Those areas are known as crystal forests. The crystals are used to light Isolabirre; though, the Drow Elvirim do not need or want much lighting, as they are able to see very well at levels of illumination that would leave humans helplessly blind. To the west and north of House Kwaavaen, the Well of the Lost drops into the bottomless void. Occasionally, one of the condemned hurtles down from the Well of the Lost's opening in the Lower Chamber, plunging into the blackness, screams shattering the stillness. Most of the Deep Chamber is filled with the apartments and shops of Isolabirre's lower class commoners.  
  Below the Deep Chamber lies the natural cavern of the Far Depths. The outcast necromancers of House Siltevelar have their compound in the Far Depths, surrounded by the tombs of the dead and crystal forests. Few Drow venture into the Far Depths, except those sent there to inter a Drow noble that has passed from the mortal world. Against the northwest wall of the cavern the Well of the Lost plunges into blackness. To the north of House Siltevelar is a narrow stairway leading down into the Forbidden Depths. It is closed by a heavy iron gate. On the southeast wall is the stairway up to the Deep Chamber.  
  The Forbidden Depths are the lowest level of the caverns of Isolabirre. The cavern of the Forbidden Depths is entirely in its natural state; it has not been shaped or altered. The only sign that anyone has ever been there is that it is filled with ancient tombs. In the northwest of the cavern, the Well of the Lost continues into obsidian eternity. The chambers of the cavern lead off into the blackness of the Unknown Depths, where no Drow has ventured in centuries, if ever. What strange creatures and beings live in the Unknown Depths. no one can guess.


Isolabirre is relatively wealthy. The noble Houses obtain high-quality goods through some trade - most with Teiyon, and the mines and forests of the Scorpion's Tail Range produce raw materials that are fashioned by the Drow and their slaves into exceptionally well-made clothing, tools, and weapons. Each of the noble Drow females is given an extremly valuable Bharana after her Trials of Ascension and elevation from Diriat to Aelriat. The Drow also acquire valuables from raids and covert operations in Teiyon, Koyon, Rigosland, Sudland, and even Senyon that they present to their Gowriat and Tygowriat to gain influence and win favors. One of the most coveted items is silk from Senyon, as it is difficult to acquire. Only the most daring Aelriat are willing to attempt to steal into Senyon to get it.

Guilds and Factions

Each of the six noble Houses is, essentially, a different faction of the Drow, pursuing its own agenda, while also furthering the influence and agenda of the entire race of Drow Elvirim, and meeting the needs and desires of the Yfeljang. However, within each of the Houses, there are factions and alliances among the Aelriat and Medriat loyal to particular Gowriat of their House. In the past, there have been schisms and feuds within Houses, sometimes weakening a House to the point that has been cast down or even destroyed completely. In the recent past, House Kwaavaen was cast down by House Alierma after being weakened by an internal schism, and House Siltevelar was cast out by House Zaquarn and House Alierma for practicing forbidden necromancy.   Each House also maintains secret organizations that perform covert operations on its behalf. House Zaquarn has Obsidian. House Alierma has The Night of Apopshe.
Isolabirre Upper Chambers
Isolabirre Upper Chambers by Peter Nelson (Zero Sum Games)
Diagram of the Upper Chambers of Isolabirre
Underground / Vault
Ruling/Owning Rank
Owning Organization
Related Traditions
Isolabirre Lower Chambers
Isolabirre Lower Chambers by Peter Nelson (Zero Sum Games)
The Lower Chambers
Isolabirre Deep Chambers
Isolabirre Deep Chambers by Peter Nelson (Zero Sum Games)
The Deep Chambers
Isolabirre Far Depths
Isolabirre Far Depths by Peter Nelson (Zero Sum Games)
The Far Depths
Isolabirre Forbidden Depths
Isolabirre Forbidden Depths by Peter Nelson (Zero Sum Games)
The Forbidden Depths

Cover image: by Peter Nelson (Zero Sum Games)


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