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At the far western extent of the Empire's former holdings on the main continent the land is a rocky badland rent with great crevasses and canyons. Rivers run along the bottom of these canyons and along their banks are fertile strips of flood-plain. The canyon valleys are lush and green in contrast to the stony desert at the tops of the cliffs.

Long ago these lands were settled by a people called the Dron. Humans, marked by their reddish-orange skin, pale blond hair and ice-blue eyes, the Dron were a peaceful race since their isolation left them little need for conflict. The Dron prized several abilities above all others - singing ability, artistic talent and flight.

The Empire encountered the Dron in its very earliest days. Relations were good between the two sun-worshipping cultures, and slowly over time Dron and Imperial ideas and people became intermingled. Today, Dron "culture" no longer exists as a separate entity, but has become intermingled with mainstream Imperial culture, even though the canyon area is known as Dronistor. Folk of Dronish descent are obvious with their colourations, but they account themselves Imperial citizens first and foremost. Elements of old Dron culture remain in the Empire - certain styles of pottery, rug-making and cuisine as well as the continuation of the Day of Wings and the ardrul riders. In the canyons of Dronistor, old Dronish burial customs are still used (see side-bar).

Sunset Canyon
The largest Dron settlement is in Sunset Canyon, one of the largest canyons and running directly east-west. Dronish building in general involves carving into the cliff-side, and Sunset Canyon and other settlements in Dronistor are practically vertical. Only farms and the some temples are built on the valley floors. In Sunset Canyon the Empire built the Temple of the Setting Sun complex composed of two huge stepped buildings, one at each end of the canyon. The easternmost is the Observatory, the main building and home to the priesthood. The westernmost building serves mainly as a marker for the Observatory, allowing the priests to measure the passing of time.

Once, Dronistor was run by a Magister of Dusk and Diamond posted by Grand Magisters in the capital, Reflected Glory, and a staff of bureaucrats under him or her. However, as the Empire became more insular it could no longer afford to look as far as Dronistor and so the supply of new Magisters and bureaucrats dried up.

The folk of Dronistor had to come up with their own system of government, based upon the Imperial model. Those who were already bureaucrats set up a hereditary system, and this formed the basis of the noble families that exist today. These nobles select an Overlord form amongst their number who rules for a period of ten years. Laws are pretty much the same as in the Empire, and the Overlord claims to be ruling in the name of the Emperor.

Religious Strife
The Temple of the Setting Sun and its priesthood has always had considerable power - in fact the Overlord's Palace is just a small part of the lower levels of the Eastern Temple. Since Dronistor became independent, tensions between the nobles and the priests have been growing steadily stronger.

This isn't helped by the fact that the general populace has grown tired of the Imperial Religion. This teaches that the earthly rule of the Emperor is based upon the rigid order of the heavens, but now that social order has quite obviously begun to break down the people question the validity of the Imperial Religion. Quite a few of them have turned to Divine Manrupashnar. The mystery cult of the Morning Star has also sprung up. Although both these sects claim to eschew political power, they represent a threat to the status quo and are frequently harassed by the government.

There are also a growing number of saviour cults started by some charismatic individual for various purposes. Some are truly working for the betterment of Dronish life, others are deranged individuals swept along on a tide of religious fervour. Some are more politically motivated, aiming to rid the Province of all Imperial influences. As with the prophets, it is very hard to tell the genuine freedom fighters from the opportunistic bandits.

The Empire of Splendour
Imperial Provinces
Places of Interest
Imperial Religion
Reflected Glory
The Day of Wings
As a sun-worshipping culture, the Dron had always had a fascination with flight, and the most important festival in their calendar is the Day of Wings - basically an excuse to work all year on gliders and other unpowered flying contraptions and test them out in a great contest. Although mostly treated as fun, it has became a matter of prestige for rulers and various groups to sponsor flying machine design teams, and the upper levels of the contests are fraught with politics. Contests were based on remaining airborne for as long as possible, furthest distance travelled and fastest speed over a given distance.

Ardrul Riders
In addition to building their own wings, the Dron have domesticated a large avian species native to the canyons - the ardrul. Ardrul riders became some of the most prestigious members of Dron society, and an elite cadre of these riders exists in the Imperial army.

Burial Customs
Respected members of society are mummified and placed in niches high up the cliffs, or in some cases within intricately carved tombs also dug into the cliff-face. Poorer members of society are laid out on the clifftops for the carrion birds to eat, which is believed to return the deceased to the sky from whence they came. Outsiders may be surprised to learn that this is considered as much an honour as burial in a cliff tomb.

Cult of the Morning Star
As with all mystery cults, it has secret initiation rites, secret signs and its followers claim to know great Truths but refuse to share them. Although it seems harmless at present, the rather fragile Imperial presence in Dronistor has officially banned it as subversive. What is known is that the Cult worships the morning star (seen as Glass Frog in the orthodox religion) as the "Sun to Come". They see themselves as pathbeaters for a new age, ushered in by the Sun to Come. What worries officials is that they may decide to give the "new age" a bit of a helping hand in getting rid of the old order.