Through dark and winding tunnels, behind secret doors and over dangerous traps there is a gate.
The gate is made of ancient wood. Solid iron hinges secure it to the rock wall. There is a smaller set of doors within this gate, through these smaller doors most beings enter for trade and slavery. Through these doors a fortress of towers and walls creates a corridor one must pass through. Guards stand at every nook ready to challenge any who dare attempt to trick them.
Once one passes the guards and stands on the clearing they are met with a most incredible sight. Beneath a glittering ceiling of red crystal there is a city. This is no ordinary underground city, this is a Drow city. Like a foul claw rising from the earth trying to smash the ceiling there is a castle set in the middle of this city. It is the first thing new visitors gaze upon. It is terrifying, catapults and archer towers jut out at menacing angles from its dark stone walls. It is designed to show the power of the Drow, and to bring hopelessness on all who would defy their will.
The dark castle gazes out above the city that spirals outwards from it. Close by, the manors of nobles stand, each as gloriously beautiful as they are terribly uninviting. Like tiny fortresses they stand, neatly paved roads extend between the nearly organized plots.
A ways from the castle the homes become smaller, and less beautiful, though no less harsh. These are the homes of the soldiers, warriors, and slavers. These homes continue the spiral, each home is unique, each conforms to the same plot size and none stand out of line. This city is organized chaos in every regard.
Even further from the castle lies yet poorer homes, merchants, farmers, craftsmen, dishonoured, and their various shops.
There is a river, with many clever bridges spanning it at many heights. This river flows from a cave on one wall, and leads to a lake in the midst of the city. On one side of this city a port and a market exists, mingled with the poorer homes of the merchants and craftsmen. On the other side of this lake are magnificent mansions with expansive mushroom gardens perfect for secret meetings. Gilded luxury craft and large trading and slaver boats sail the lake on the underground breezes.
In the center of this lake a large island of natural pillars rises. These pillars stand tall, almost as tall as the castle. The tallest of these are towers, with glittering windows look out on all sides to the water. A smaller town exists on this island, separate and unique, yet perfectly integrated with the larger city around it. This island burns with its own magical fires of every colour, wild, yet contained they sit atop great towers scattered about this island. They call this island the sorceress school.
Away from the castle, away from the noble mansions are farms, cruel mills stand in the center of these fields turning slowly in the wind, or by slaves. Around these fields low spiked walls separate them from the roads.
At the edge of this city near the great glittering walls the Orcs and Goblins and other dark creatures dwell. Smaller tunnels and homes, with neatly carved walkways cover the lowest parts of these walls on every side, except the one with the gate.
The twinkling fires from a thousand windows create a haze of smoke that scatters the reflected light off the ceiling above into an ethereal red glow all about the city.
The city is fair and wonderful, and dark and menacing. It glows with its own vicious energy and the screams of the tortured and the voices of its inhabitants echoes about the city cavern, shadows are everywhere and each is more dangerous than the last. This is the city of Sca'varn Zakath.
Drow cities are extremely regimented. Worship and sacrifice must be made at the right moment in the day. Raids can only happen at night, and they must start exactly at sunset or they may run out of time. Clever timepieces dot the cities, each magically connected to the great timepiece in the castle. The care and maintenance of Drow time falls to one man.
He is the Lani d' Draeval, his job is one few Drow would choose. It is tedious, delicate, precise work. It is work that Talinth Yutri Honglath is uniquely suited to. He is patient, precise, and punctual. He finds time a fascinating subject, and he takes excellent care of his timepieces. Not a single one is off by so much as a second. Most Drow would say that there is no need to be so exact, they say they only need to know the hour, and when the sun rises and sets. He merely shrugs and continues his work.
Trained by the greatest Dwarf jewellers and craftsman slaves he could find Talinth learned the art of making exquisite timepieces. Small jewelled pieces that many inhabitants of Sca'varn Zakath wear on their belts. Talinth, while not a great mage by any stretch, does know several ancient spells that few Drow see much use for.
Each piece he makes he ties to his pride and joy, the great central clock in the castle. He will work for weeks on each piece. He carves the metal gears one by one, it is a delicate and time consuming process, but it must be done. He places the gears in the case one by one, placing them in a perfect position so they will never fail. He sets the tiny golden hands on the face of the glowing crystal face, each number in its precise position. With tiny tools and a magnifying lens he makes minute adjustments to the gears. Then he reads over the well worn scrolls he keeps. He knows them by heart but he wishes to make certain the spell is done right. He speaks the words and focuses his magic until suddenly the piece begins to tick.
Perfect. He checks to make certain the clock is exact. He watches the arms crawl across the face, twenty four hours pass by, each second is precise. The arms move once each second on the second. The minute hand moves one minute each time the second hand reaches a count of sixty. The hour hand moves once each hour each time the minute hand reaches a count of sixty. He embellished the case with pointless gems and symbols, they look pretty, but since they do not affect how well the timepiece works he sees them as pointless. His own timepiece, which he cleans each day, is plain and simple and very precise. Its ticking hands a comfort to him in its regularity.
Talinth works alone, he lives alone, and he cares deeply about his job. Politics and intrigue, power and wealth do not concern him overmuch. He has time to keep, calendars to organize, timepieces to make and repair. Once a day, precisely at eleven, Talinth will make a short trip. He will walk familiar streets, pass familiar houses and shops. He will enter a familiar tunnel and walk the familiar path. He will walk alone and unwatched as everyone knows, but does not care, where he is going and what he is doing. He will exit the tunnel and climb a staircase, it is a staircase that few other Drow would ever wish to take. For you see, it leads to the surface and the sun. At the top of this staircase there is a door that leads to a small forest clearing.
Talinth will emerge from this doorway, his eyes smarting in the light. He will cross the clearing to its center where a lone sextant stands. He will stand in the warming sun, his eyes affixed to the sextant. He will watch as the shadow cast by the arm slowly crawls across the surface. When it is almost gone he will remove his own watch and gaze at the arms. He will count the seconds one by one as the shadow reaches noon.
They both reach noon at the exact moment. Perfect.
Talinth then proceeds to clean the sextant. He clears and leaves or weeds from around it. He trims and branches that threaten to block the light. His skin burns and his eyes ache, but he take great care to protect the sextant and its perfect record of time. Despite the pain he likes the surface. But time waits for no one. He eventually heads back down to the city.
He makes the long journey to the castle. He checks the great timepiece against his own, it is off by a second. Terrified, Talinth will climb the long way to the machine, he will open the room and adjust the time. He will then inspect each and every piece of machinery. He cannot allow the timepiece to be wrong. He recasts the spells he must and changes anything that needs changing. He will then clean it, inside and out. Even the tiniest piece of dust can change the time, something he will never allow.
Two hundred years he has kept the time of Sca'varn Zakath, he hopes to keep the time for two hundred more. Someday he will find an apprentice, someone who cares as much about the critical, and unglamorous task of keeping time. This day may be far in the future as few Drow care much about time, except him of course, he is the Lani d' Draeval after all.