Living in vast cave cities build under the earth, the Ereskial have a reputation for secrecy, keeping the wealth of their mining empires hidden from the surface.
It is rumored that in the earliest times, the Ereskial were elves who chose to travel into the depths of the earth to better mine and work the precious metals and gems found there. Whether this rumor is true, it has no relevance or influence on the Ereskial today. Ereskial do not bear the telltale pointed ears of elves, and their skin shows the influence of generations underground in its pale complexion. Their blood is likewise adapted to the cold, thickening and darkening to the point that every Ereskial has networks of blue/black veins visible through their pale skin. Many people find Ereskial appearance terrifying on their first meeting, and the scarcity of Ereskial on the surface provides little opportunity for individuals to dispel the dark rumors that surround them.
Life in an Ereskial cave city is neither equitable nor easy. A rigid oligarchy, the privileged among the Ereskial have all the power and wealth of the city at their command, while the populace toils endlessly to provide for the grandeur of the city. The top of Ereskial society are the noble houses, where birth grants status and the rights of a full citizen of the Ereskial kingdom. Beneath the noble houses are the populace; merchants, craftsmen, foreigners, and individuals who possess useful skills and aptitudes. At the bottom are the slaves, forced to work in the deep mines pulling priceless goods from the bowels of the earth. Slaves who work long enough and hard enough may someday earn their freedom and ascension to the middle class, but it is a difficult task that not many live to achieve. Almost outside this structure are the warriors of the kingdom. Technically a part of the noble houses, the Ereskial warriors are adept at combat against the many and various monsters living underground. The training of these warriors is intense and brutal, and the few Ereskial warriors who have left the kingdom to live on the surface fetch high prices as caravan guards, mercenaries, and bodyguards through the dangerous wild parts of the Empire.
The mines of the Ereskial provide the immense wealth of the kingdom. Nearly all the precious metal and gem mines in existence are owned by the Ereskial kingdom, and a large portion of the mines for lesser metals are also under their control. The access to these resources has made the Ereskial consummate smiths, producing the finest metalwork artifacts, most intricate jewelry, and strongest steel available. Ownership of Ereskial metalwork is considered in many places to be a symbol of great wealth and status, while in others is seen as a sign of wasteful decadence.
Trading with the Ereskial is always conducted at the surface entrance to one of their cave cities. The first and largest of these cities is the City Under the Sand in the great desert. First discovered by the Mehrdahd’i, this has remained the center of Ereskial trade with the surface world and has created an understanding, if not a friendship, between the Ereskial and the Mehrdahd’i.
Relations between the Ereskial and the surface lands have always been very cold. The Ereskial need many things that cannot be easily produced underground, and the surface world has an insatiable appetite for their metals and gems. This need has kept contact between the two worlds necessary, but both sides approach the arrangement as a necessity, not an enjoyable task. Few surface dwellers have ever chosen to move below the earth into the Ereskial kingdom. Those who have are almost exclusively artists or merchants who have decided to study the metal craft of the Ereskial first hand or have thought they can profit by their knowledge of trade on the surface. These few brave souls have found themselves in the Ereskial middle class, given rights but few privileges and expected to act as a citizen of the kingdom, not a foreign visitor. The Ereskial have the “Ereskial” Trait.