Standing at the confluence of two rivers, the original walls and oldest buildings of Argistillum seem the newest structures in the city, being built of an almost indestructible resin-colored stony substance comprising ceramic bonded into a microscopic metal lattice. The Argistes no longer know the secret of making this, so their more recent buildings are of somber black granite clad with bronze and yellow tiles. Every archway is flanked by statues of the winged sphinxes that are the legendary guardians of the city.
Argistillum is most famous for its hanging gardens: terraces above the level of the streets that overhang them, dangling creepers and vines to give color and life to the place. Underfoot, the refuse of the streets is hidden by a carpet of reeds brought fresh from the river each day by slaves. Also renowned throughout Abraxas is the menagerie of Argistillum, where the visitor can (for a fee) view creatures both known and unknown.
Although great scholars and lawgivers, the Argistes have a streak of callousness, if not outright cruelty. The Arena is a place where all classes of Argistillum come to watch gladiators contend against fierce monsters and each other, in battles usually ending in death.
Government: The city is ruled by a triumvirate, each with different responsibilities. The King Above is charged with maintaining Argistillum's standing with the gods. The King of the World is the city's temporal leader, responsible for warfare, diplomacy and trade. Third and most sinister is the King Below, never seen by "his" subjects - a creature from another star, kept in a glass globe deep underground from where "he" issues cryptic advice about events yet to come.
People: Argistes are average height and build, very pale-skinned (almost milk white) with a faint yellowish cast to their features. Hair is curly; brown, black or blond; often with a single silvery streak (called by other nations a "cruel streak"). Men and women alike wear their hair in long ringlets, though men often shave their brow to create a receding hairline.
Dress: Clothing for men usually consists of sandals, loose trousers and an open gown that leaves the chest bare. A wide silk belt is patterned to show the man's clan and temple connections, and not infrequently a long curved dagger is tucked into this to show the clan may not be trifled with. Women wear a sheath skirt, slit to permit freedom of movement, and a short vest covering the breasts. The vest is held loosely closed by a colored cord in the case of unmarried girls.