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).
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.
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.