Veins of Crystal and Blood
Daraska is a great many things, and it varies greatly depending on whom you ask. A nearly lawless city of brigands and thieves, a wonderful land of fair business and opportunity, a global trading hub, a decadent paradise, or a slum filled with unfortunates who simply cannot afford to be anywhere else; Daraksa is all of these things. It all relies on perspective. The only thing that all parties can agree on is that taking anything at face value in Daraska is a terrible mistake that one would have to be both incredibly lucky and incredibly stupid to repeat. Opportunities are everywhere, both for you and your enemies, and all of its citizens know to capitalize on them.
It has the oldest history of any standing city in the world, dating back to the beginnings of the 2nd age where its foundation as a trading port to the rest of the Golden Empire ensured its rapid growth and access to any goods that it desired. Quickly growing into one of the wealthiest cities within the Empire, Daraska attracted the greedy and ambitious in droves. Once small mercantile houses filled their coffers to bursting, and establishing empires of their own which gave rise to the court intrigue that Daraska is now famous for. From then until now, no matter what sort of world Daraska has its place in, only one thing has truly remained constant: there are rich and powerful families competing against one another, allying with and betraying one another, with collectively the most well-informed spy network in the entire world. All of that, for all of this time, a constant competition over who holds the true power within the city; the power to fund its guards and keep its trade flowing.
Upon the dissolution of the Empire at the end of the 3rd age Daraska maintained its distance from its new found neighbors, maintaining constant trade with them and burying its spies within their lands but taking no political action outside of that. When Amalthea rebelled against their tyrant king and instilled a military government based around the knightly codes of honor, the fledgling nation of Bennal began to look down upon Daraska as a schemer who was scarcely better than the tyrants that they had overthrown. For the duration of their time sharing borders Daraska and Bennal were in a constant state of cold war against one another that on a few occasions exploded into dramatic and short-lived open conflict with each side simply wrestling each other into stalemates and truces, only for the tensions to continue smoldering until they ignited the next conflict. As a testament to the economic power that Daraska holds, the only time that trade between the two nations ever ceased was during those times of open conflict… and even then, there were always curiously abundant Daraskan goods for those who searched.
[to be expanded upon]