The Second Great War and other stories
Volat was founded by a wizard and economist by the same name. Seeing a long gap in the major trade route between Libiros and Mirekas, he decided to make Mt. Myrsetic a trade stop along the way. Using powerful arcane magics, he leveled the top of the long-extinct volcano and transformed it into a small but secure village that was nearly impregnable to attack from the ground.
There are only four trails leading from the ground to the plateau, and only one of them can properly be called a road. Each of those four trails has six checkpoints, including walls, towers, massive gates, and even siege engines. In order to attack the city proper, a general would have to block all four trails, surround the rest of the 2.5-mile-diameter base of the plateau with scouts to prevent a fifth trail from being blazed, and then attack six fortresses in succession. Volat has its own (essentially untouchable) water supply, which comes from deep within the mountain, so a siege would have to last at least three weeks to begin starving the population. During the Myrsetean War for Independence, Volat was bypassed entirely because no one from Avadi wanted to risk attacking it.
Over the centuries, Volat expanded and grew into a small city much like Libiros is today, but then the city reached a hard limit on its expansion – the edges of the plateau Volat had created. Faced with a difficult choice between curtailing its growth and expanding beyond the safety of the plateau, the leaders of the city took a third option – building up instead of out.
Today, Volat is known as the City of Towers, but its creation inspired an entirely new (at the time) discipline of architecture, that of engineering. While most sought-after architects are usually from Myrsetic, the greatest human engineers have invariably studied in Volat. Even the elves and dwarves send their best and brightest for a tour of study including Volat.
This also leads to its less-favorable nickname, “the city of slaves”. Slavers do a lot of business in Volat. Most visitors to the city will not be missed by anyone for weeks, which is plenty of time to disappear before the awkward wuestions start. Moneylenders in the city frequently sell their customers into slavery if they cannot repay their debts. And, finally, paying entire guilds of people to work on buildings hundreds of feet above the streets is prohibitively expensive. Slaves do the unskilled jobs to extend the towers further into the sky, and if some fall onto the paved streets below, why, no one bats an eye.
Between the dizzying height of the towers and the high premium for ground space, it should not be surprising that a thriving undercity has developed. Comprising a large portion of these nonentities are escaped slaves, and the Volat Green Arrow Fortress is located underground. Outside of the Fortress, life in the undercity is short and brutal; gangs and drug lords can and do rule with total impunity, since they don’t technically exist. Rumors of a “long stair” to some nameless dwarven kingdom have persisted for centuries.