The White Keep
| The White Keep |
|Location||Selab, Selab System, Hapes Cluster|
|Founder||Rhel of Tharandon|
|Founded||Approximately Year -1600|
|Type||Castle built into a natural rock formation|
|Rulers||House of Tharandon|
|Military||The Ice Guard|
The White Keep is the ancestral stronghold and seat of the House of Tharandon. It is located on the planet Selab in the Hapes Cluster, carved out of a great rocky promontory overlooking the Glacial Sea and the major city and spaceport of Aviemore. The nearby mines are some of the most productive in the realm and provide House Tharandon with their wealth.
- 1 History
- 2 Locations
- 3 The City of Aviemore
- 4 Notable Residents
- 5 Quotes
- 6 See Also
- 7 External Links
The White Keep
Originally constructed as a minor outpost on its peak, the natural defences have been expanded with walls, gates, and watchtowers. The White Keep contains tunnels, cell blocks, storerooms, barracks, halls, stables, stairways, courtyards, balconies, and gardens. Its starport has docks, garages, and shipyards for repairs and is accessible by warships and freighters alike.
The Griffon's Maw
The main entry to The White Keep is an enormous natural cavern reaching two hundred feet high. Its steps are now wide enough for twenty riders. Lofty battlements and towers encircle the inner yard like a crown of ice. The White Keep is at the centre of it all, the thick-walled and ancient keep-within-a-keep that serve as the apartments of the Tharandon family, who can sit safely behind the pale white fortifications and dry spike-filled moat. In the daytime hours such as this, dignitaries and retainers are numerous here, as well members of the Ice Guard going about on their business. A small stand of fruit trees, apple, pear, and plum, cluster in an unoccupied portion of the yard in the shadow of the Tower of the Castellan.
Westward lies the outer yard of the fortress, accessible only through the great portcullis in the strong wall. The gently sloping courtyard spreads northeast and southeast in rare open spaces. To the south, the huge Winter Hall can be seen. To the east looms the Castellan's Tower in silent vigil, standing free of the walls. To the north stands the squat, square structure of the White Keep.
The great, bronze gates of the White Keep are one of the most dominant features in this western end of the outer yard. Buildings cluster along the walls and great drum towers are set into them to leave the central portion empty but for the constant traffic of men, wayns, and horses who have business in one part or another of the castle. The largest open space in the castle, smaller structures cluster at the walls, smithies, stables, barracks, granaries, kitchens, and more while the centre of the yard is given over to the constant traffic of men, animals, and carts. Often the castle's retainers and guards spend their time practicing their skills in other arms with a raucous and lusty clatter.
The outer yard continues a great distance beneath the high white walls, encompassing the smaller inner yard from which the highest peak of the White Keep can just be glimpsed. Here in these northern and southern quadrants of the outer yard, the Royal Chapel and the kitchens can be found, among a number of other structures. To the southwest is the great stable yard where the mounts of guests and the Ice Guard are kept. Rising in the east is the high wall separating the outer yard from the inner and White Keep, the only passage through being a lone portcullis. To the west, the bronze gates lead out of the castle entirely.
The Chancellor's Tower
Not a tenth as spacious as the Great Hall, nor half as imposing as the Council Chambers, the Chancellor's Tower is nevertheless possessed of its own unique magnificence. Luxurious without ostentation, intimate yet formal, the chambers of the Chancellor strike a perfect balance between authority and beauty, conducive to counsel and policy. Upon floors of polished stone are strewn Lorellian rugs, embroidered in fantastic patterns with birds, beasts and plants of exotic kind. At the southern end of the tower is a round golden window like the sun, and a watchful eye upon the rest of the city of Aviemore. Beneath it is the high seat of Lord Tharandon's Chancellor, a deceptively simple chair of polished golden wood and black leather.
Adorning the walls, pillared against the white stone masonry, are wall hangings depicting scenes of hunting and battle, and famous events of history. On the northern wall, a serpentine staircase spirals upward to the Lord Chancellor's private residence chambers. Before the high seat are two smaller chairs, and upon a low table between them are quill, inkwell and parchment. An extensive bookcase contains numerous tomes and scrolls, and the personal mementos of Lord Tharandon's Chancellor. Northward a pair of oak doors lead to a wide hall, where petitioners may wait for an audience. The door to the tower, heavy and reinforced with steel and brass fittings, bears the sigil of the Chancellor.
- The current Lord Chancellor of the White Keep is Lady Kuro Lorell of House Lorell.
The doors to the keep within a keep, constructed according to legend by Rhel of Tharandon, open into a spacious hall of surprising luxury, surprising, given the formidable exterior of the keep, with its spiked moat and white walls twelve feet thick. The floor of the Entrance Hall, as this corridor is known, is tiled with complex mosaics of a score of duelling Griffons in myriad colours and textures. The walls, white and pale like the rest of the castle, are decorated with tapestries and banners of divers tinctures and are lit by what seems a hundred torches hanging high above in wall sconces near the vaulted ceiling. As the sole entry to the keep and the Tharandon family apartments, it is customary for a number of Ice Guardsmen to be present, along with servants, aides, and other retainers.
The hallway continues northward, merging seamlessly into a grand staircase up to the second floor of the holdfast. An archway of magnificent proportions is upon the eastern side of the hall, beyond which is the Refectory for dining. Westward are richly-inlaid wooden doors that lead to the Guest Wing and the apartments for special guests of the Tharandon family. And finally, twin doors of oak, high and broad and double-barred with steel, lead out to the narrow drawbridge across the dry moat.
The stairs pause before a wide hallway of stone and marble, before continuing onward; the second floor of Griffon's Roost is marked by a long echoing expanse richly appointed in colours of russet and cream. The floor of the hall is tiled in a checker board pattern of those two tinctures, flecked with silver and gold, and the walls are hung with bright tapestries and garlands of flowers upon lintels. Unlit candles upon golden sticks of varying heights dot the hall, their brightness unneeded because of the light admitted by tall windows of stained and leaded glass.
The second floor holds the austere oak doors to the east which lead to the Library whilst westward are the elegant bronze and copper doors to the Ballroom. The Library is dominated by the sight of row upon row of books, as many as two hundred volumes and even a few scrolls covering every available inch of space in this stony chamber. Two full, heavy shelves of worn but seasoned wood rise high above, to the vaulted ceilings. There are works of every imaginable kind here; rare treatises, books of the healing arts, tomes of heraldry, history, and lore, manuals of the arts, essays on the properties of nature and the supernatural, and maps of distant places. Low oil lamps, blackened and tarnished by use, are unlit; daylight streams through high windows and cast golden squares upon all herein. In the centre of the chamber upon rush-strewn floors of stone are four massive tables, covered with papers, books, ink pots, and quills. A large oaken door fitted with black iron opens out onto the hallway. North is a smaller door, of plain wood and brass, which leads to the inner chambers of the library custodians.
Inside the Ballroom, the torches are unlit in their hammered metal wall sconces; they are not necessary, for day fills the large open room with silvery light. The walls, richly panelled in carved wood, are a gracious counterpoint to the beaten silver mirrors that back every sconce. Not a tenth the size of the castle's Great Hall, the ballroom is nevertheless sizeable enough to seat a hundred at its long trestle tables. Sweet-smelling rushes are strewn upon the floor, and above, in a gallery, musicians have space to play their tunes. A line of arched windows runs along the south wall, and their heavy velvet drapery is drawn back to admit the light.
The great staircase ends, sweeping east and west like the culmination of a great tidal wave of marble. Upon a white floor and vaulted ceilings, the light of day casts brilliant illumination, striking the crystalline windows that stretch high overhead in colourful shapes and patterns. The hall branches to either side, leading to the residential wings of the level, and the dwelling places of the Tharandon family.
The Great Hall
Words are insufficient to describe the stupendous scope and awesome sight of the Great Hall of the White Keep. Impossibly high vaulted ceilings loom over a chamber large enough to accommodate the hundreds of nobles and commoners alike who customarily wait upon their Lord. Through the high narrow windows, the light of day spills across the floor, laying bright white stripes upon the walls where the Lord of House Tharandon presides from his high chair.
There are no benches for Lord Tharandon's court and petitioners. Save the council; all are expected to stand respectfully or to kneel before the high chair. The seat of the Lord of House Tharandon sits upon a high iron dais, with steep and narrow steps leading up to it. The marble floors of the chamber are arranged in elaborate mosaics, and a single crimson carpet divides the massive room. Two galleries for commoners, merchants and lesser nobles overlook the Great Hall upon east and west and are accessed by spiral staircases of iron. To the rear are a pair of tall wooden doors leading to private chambers. Southward are the great entry doors, oak and bronze, guarded at all times.
The Winter Hall is a large reception hall, though not as large as the Great Hall of Griffon's Roost, was carved out of the natural rock formation and used for diplomatic reception. The pillars that march down its center restricts one's view of the far side. The outer wall is lined with narrow windows that look onto the southern yard, and a number of trestle table stand ready there. The opposite wall is dominated by the great hearth of carved white marble, the mantlepiece depicting various scenes from Hapan history. Trestle tables line the hall along the windows, though there is no dais, only a heavy banner marks the seat of the Tharandons here.
Torches and lamps burn day and night to augment the meager light that comes through the narrow windows. The tapestries on the opposite wall are situated to make the best of this light, each scene of Tharandon glory spotlit with natural light, though this light is not bright enough to illuminate all the corners of the hall. The rushes on the floor around the trestles are kept fresh and strewn with herbs, and the open area near the doors is swept clean of even these. Each of the white stone pillars holds two torches in bronze sconces fashioned like Griffon claws, the rafters overhead blackened by years of smoke. Though the hall is narrow, longer than it is wide, it is a cozy space for large gatherings, with room for casual feasting, gaming, or even dancing.
A pair of heavy oaken doors, carved with fiercely snarling Griffons, gives way to the entrance hall of the Winter Hall, these stand open most of the time so that the Keep's denizens may pass through freely.
The Guest Tower & Solar
The open flat space on the roof of the Guest Tower has been given over to the airy solar on the northern side, and a small garden on the south. Here under the sky, there is a view of the White Keep from above the smells and bustle of court life, and airy sort of freedom that is rarely found in the Tharandon court.
After the dimly lit lower halls, the Solar is a glory of light and air atop the Guest Tower. Here the windows are wide and numerous, most of them looking onto the gardens on Hall's roof and seems a place above, with its panoramic view of the White Keep on all sides.
In daytime, there is light aplenty. Draperies hang at the windows to be drawn open or closed at will to shut out or let in the sun. Braziers wrought of iron and set in bronze stands ward off any chill and are placed about the room so as to benefit all who might come here to work or socialise. There are a pair of large tables set with ink pots, candles for heating wax and sand for drying ink. Clusters of chairs invite ladies to congregate with sewing projects or for idle gossip. A small table in one corner holds a tray of flagons full of wine or stronger spirits, and servants are but a bell-rope away. The garden is a pleasant sight beyond the windows of the western wall, the leaves of small fruit trees and seasonal flowers tempting when the weather is fine.
A narrow stair leads to the Guest Tower's third floor below, lit dimly at all hours by small lamps set in bronze sconces. A pair of glass doors gives way to the rooftop garden to the west.
The light of day does not penetrate here, save for a single open garden overlooking the Glacial Sea and the city of Aviemore below the low parapet and the occasional bathing of dappled green ghost-lights upon the leafy floor of the wood. The Snow Garden of the White Keep, sacred grove of the old and new, has stood unsullied since long before the castle rose around it. An acre of chestnuts, elm, alder and black cottonwood, tall and ruinously old, stand their silent vigil of the ages, their dark branches stretch overhead like massive entwined fingers, creating a canopy of ever-rustling leaves and boughs. Gnarled roots wind through rich black soil and green turf, and a whispering stream meanders aimlessly among the massive trunks. At the very centre of the Snow Garden is an oak of gigantic height and untold age that casts its shadows over the entirety of the small forest.
A number of smooth stone paths wander through the wood, carefully placed so as to provide one with the greatest possible solitude. The main path leads past the stream to the inner courtyard of the castle among ever thinning stands of chestnuts, until terminating in the rolling lawns before the Winter Hall and Guest Towers.
The Ice Gallery & Hall of Heroes
Buried deep within the rock, the Ice Gallery contains treasures of the Tharandons, including gilded ornaments and walls of white gold who's appearance, is that of ice, lending the name to the gallery. Also buried deep within the rock lies the Hall of Heroes, the crypt where the Tharandons and their close kin who have died valiantly are interred. The armour of Tharandons of old are also displayed in the hall.
The City of Aviemore
The city of Aviemore is roughly square-shaped, sprawling below the White Keep for several miles. Defended by tall walls, it is also dotted with manses, harbors, granaries, brick storehouses, timbered inns, merchant stalls, taverns, graveyards and the large primary spaceport that serves the planet. Between buildings, the roads are broad, lined with trees and branching alleys and streets.
From all directions, a colourful array of peoples seem to smash into one another. There is no order to the flows of movement through the central square of Aviemore. To and from one street, to and from another everyone goes. All range of classes and styles of dress can be found here, from wealthy merchants in their bright finery to urchins in drab brown. The confusion is further amplified by hawkers selling a seemingly random assortment of products, their voices straining to rise above those of the others. The Ice Guard patrol, of course, but often find themselves pinned in the crowd if they are not paying proper attention.
Though the focus of Aviemore is, in fact, the White Keep and Griffon's Roost within that dominates the skyline; it is at the aptly named Central Plaza that all its avenues come crashing against one another. The immense open space, filled with various ornaments and statues, leads off in all directions, intercepted by the majestic Street of the Griffins, the more utilitarian Snow Way and the quite common Street of the Ice. Towards the east, however, Griffon's Roost begins to dominate the city, rising until it stops with the White Keep at its peak. Of particular interest in the plaza is the Lucky Thirteen Cantina, the largest in the city, known for acceptable lodging and dull conversation in its common room.
Lucky Thirteen Cantina
The common room of the Lucky Thirteen Cantina is the largest and most famous in the city of Aviemore, and it is easy to see why. It holds a rustic charm that endears it to both local patrons and weary travellers alike. A series of five large bay windows reinforced with wrought-iron lattice and etched with leaves, fruits, and stylised birds look out upon the street. The walls are of simple off-white plaster and dark beams of oak, adorned with antlers, shelves of books, and various mementos of Aviemore's lively past. Massive, beautifully-crafted wooden tables and chairs are arranged in the centre of the large common area, and a series of more secluded booths line the walls. The floor is rich golden-brown oak worn smooth by long years of use, and covered by lovely woven rugs, whilst many lamps and lanterns lend brightness to the inn, as does a crackling fire in a huge stone hearth.
Before the heavy door is a sturdy wooden counter, upon which is a bowl of dirty water offered as a courtesy to patrons who might want to wash their hands before departing. A pair of tall doors in the centre of the back wall of the cantina leads, presumably, to its bustling kitchen, whilst a narrow, high-stepped staircase winds upwards to the guest rooms above.
- Lord Benedict Tharandon, Lord of The White Keep, Head of House Tharandon
- Lady Sarisa Tharandon, wife of Lord Benedict.
- Daeron Tharandon, younger brother of Lord Benedict.
- Kuro Lorell of House Lorrell, Lady Chamberlain of the White Keep.
- Geralt Tharandon of Aviemore, Master-at-Arms of the White Keep.
- Aurine Tharandon of Aviemore, sister of Geralt.