The free city of Iskar - also known as the Shining City, the Silver City, the Pearl of the South, the Deathless City, and Sanctuary - is located on the southwest coast of the mainland. Famed for its 60ft-tall walls of pure silver (rumour has it that any lesser undead that so much as touches them will be instantly obliterated, which is why only mortal guards are ever found on the walls), it is well-known throughout the mainland as a place that accepts anyone and everyone: no matter how they look, what gods they worship, or what they want to do, as a common saying is Iskar goes, "everybody's silver spends the same".
Although it is located in the desert, Iskar has managed to turn a significant portion of its surrounding land into arable land thanks to the tireless efforts of their undead servants. The city also does a brisk trade with the Sunken Isles in the southeast, and is the primary source of magical lore, artefacts, spellcraft and rare reagents for the rest of the mainland too squeamish to deal directly with the Dead Kingdoms across the sea.
Iskar is jointly ruled by the Circle of Weejas - made up of the five most powerful necromancers in the city - and the patriarchs of the Four Families, each the head of a powerful aristocratic family that used to rule the city while it was still a monarchy. Each ruling member may cast one out of nine votes, and all civic matters are jointly decided by oligarchic vote.
Eilinove Qilin (Cammie) is a gnomish wizard studying in the prestigious Academy within Iskar. In order to pay her way through school, she took up work for the once-prestigious Morelli family as a live-in servant... until, one day, her curiosity got the better of her, and she peeked into a room forbidden to the servants, whereupon she witnessed the young master engaged in some dubious activity with a purchased slave girl.
The young gnome would have been slain, but she managed to strike a deal with the young master: instead of killing her now that she knew their secret, why not put her to work instead? In exchange for her sworn allegiance to the family, the Morellis will pay her tuition at the Academy and grant her her life and freedom. The Morellis agreed, and a contract was drafted, witnessed, and signed by both parties sub gladio, in blood and bone, upon the black marble steps of the Courthouse.
Hagren (Yongjian) is a dwarven warrior who belonged to a mercenary company that fought indiscriminately for the highest bidder. As it turned out on one fateful day, that highest bidder happened to be the innkeeper of a large Iskari tavern that had "some rat problems" in his cellar. The rat problems turned out to giant rats, and as the dwarf fought desperately to try and save his comrades against desperate odds, he stumbled upon a secret room that housed an ancient iron crown.
Endlessly curious, the warrior touched the crown, whereupon he was immediately visited by a spectre that called itself the King in Purple. Promising him great wealth and power, the King demanded that he take the crown and use it to restore the monarchy to its rightful position in the city. But the dwarf - being naturally sceptical about such deals - tossed the crown aside and, after waiting for the giant rats to lose interest in him, made his way back up.
His problems, however, did not end there. His nights soon turned into nightmares of the King in Purple, and as time went on, the nightmares got stronger and stronger: to the point that he has found himself in the grip of a night terror so powerful that he was so much as unable to lift a finger. While he is still able to function perfectly in the day for now, he knows that he must find a way to exorcise this persistent spirit or risk permanent possession one of these days.
Jandar Slavik (Zaki) is a human druid from a nomadic tribe in the deserts around Iskar. When a small horde of unbound lesser undead attacked the tribe one night, he was the only one who managed to stand up to them and, drawing upon his druidic training, turn the forces of nature against them.
The tribe elders, witnessing this remarkable feat, told him that his future lay not here with the tribe, but in the city instead. "You were meant for greater things! Go forth into Iskar, find your destiny there, and only return after you have discovered what it is that you were meant to do with your life." And so he left, determined but a little reluctant.
The druid is conflicted about the ubiquitous presence of the undead in Iskar. On one hand, they are undead, a blight upon the face of the world and an abomination to nature; on the other hand, their tireless labour is building a better life for the mortal population of the city. In fact, the city itself would not exist without the undead; yet what right do the Iskari have to carve out a small paradise in what should rightfully be nothing more than desert?
Chant (Martin) is a tiefling sorcerer with the blood of a blue dragon flowing through his veins and soul. Wishing to learn more about his abilities, he apprenticed himself to the human wizard Geph... whereupon he learnt that, while he did learn some magic, most of his job as an apprentice involved fetching books from high places, polishing tables, and ensuring that the tea tray was always stocked. Bored out of his mind, he decided to study his contract for a way to break it. It took him a while, but he eventually managed it; and although Geph was understandably pissed, Chant was now a free man once more.
Like all disenfranchised sorcerers, Chant quickly fell in with a bunch of adventurers who wanted little more than to kick down some dungeon doors and gather some loot. It was with them that he discovered his lady love, a Half-Elven Paladin of Lethae who did not return his affection. Heartbroken, Chant decided to leave the group and seek out greener pastures.