Updated: Oct 7, 2021
From the small nation of Daren, landlocked in the high plateau of the northernmost Dragoncrests, lives a diminutive human race--the Dareni. Though short of stature--averaging only four feet tall, these people think big, live large, and soar to new heights. Quite literally. The Daren Empire is surrounded by the rumbling volcanic region known as the Scorighauts, which at least once each year spew hot ash and calx onto the Shadowashes wasteland to the east. But these fiery mountains are the lifeblood of the Dareni, for they have learned to harness the raw energy roiling within those mountainous cauldrons, using it to power their forges, generate their steam, and drive the imaginations ever forward.
Being isolated from the rest of Arelatha, the Dareni have developed a lifestyle and mentality that differs greatly from their neighbors to the south and east. While the Trithemius promote the use and growth of various magical arts, the Dareni have focused more on the power of fire, electricity, and steam. Their natural inquisitiveness leads them to explore novel solutions not seen anywhere else, and as a result, the Dareni people are famous for developing mechanical solutions for both everyday issues and monumental problems.
Some examples of Dareni technology that have become more ubiquitous across the continent would include plate glass, magnifying lenses, water pumps and piping, at least forty different metal alloys, lighter-than-air flight, lock systems for canals, drawbridges, mechanical clocks, gunpowder and guns, and an incredible number of small, everyday items. Indeed, were it not for Dareni engineering, Arelatha would be largely primitive or utterly reliant on the arcane magicks of arcanists. Now, with rumors spreading that Dareni have harnessed both steam and electricity, the world is beginning to question whether the University of Arcanum has reached its zenith.
To everyone else, Dareni are odd, eccentric, non-serious and generally lacking in social graces. To be sure, Dareni are unlike any other people in Arelatha, but they are kind and compassionate, friendly and amenable. They do love a good joke, not verbal wordplay so much as physical embarrassment. To a Dareni, nothing is quite so funny as a cast iron skillet to the face. Though they are viewed as social outcasts--some prejudicial folk do not consider them human--Dareni are wholly unconcerned with status quo and prefer to stick with their own kind. However, pockets of Dareni settlements exist outside of the Daren Empire, established for the most part to construct and operate some marvel of engineering the rest of Arelatha doesn't know how to use.
Most people will go their whole lives and never cross paths with a Dareni. But those who do will remember the encounter with fondness for the rest of their lives.