Almondsey


Town of Hamnet, Estalia

The major Estalian town on the upper reaches of the River Lin is Hamnet, which is located just below the start of the Lin Gorge. Its most famous feature is the bridge over the River Lugg (a tributary marking the boundary between the counties of North and South Poggit), a fortified structure with buildings on either side of the roadway, including a mill and an inn. One should note that Hamnet contains the only theatre in North Estalia (not a very good one, but it's surprising it is there at all). There is also a strong castle on the south side of town. The town walls and other fortifications are solid and workmanlike but hardly anything to match the Almondese walled cities of Nuorgk, Ffanshoe, and Kajudder on the other side of the River Lin. Hamnet is the administrative capital of North Estalia, and pretty much the only official trading post with Almondsey in this area.

The key is self-explanatory, but there are additional comments. The Christian church (non-denominational) is allowed by the authorities on sufferance to serve the handful of foreigners and 'legitimate' Christians, although citizens are forbidden to attend. Bard Theatre is the only legitimate house of entertainment in North Estalia; the Cockpit, however, is more typical -- boxing, cock-fights, and bear-baiting. There are three inns: The Hound, The Whitcraft Arms, and the Green Frog (on the bridge). Government center consists of a town/county hall, or 'parliament', a prison, and law courts, with associated bureaucracies. Poggit Court contains six houses for office-holders of relative importance. The four blocks of houses at the southwest are the 'posh' area of town. Shops are on the north side of High Street opposite the Temple of Lott and Thud. Town Dock is for river trade, with warehouses on both sides of the wall, an associated Trading Hall, and a customs house in the wall tower (there are five of these square towers from the older fortification). Along the west side is an 18th Century artillery wall, with pointed bastions and an exterior earthen rampart -- but no ravelin. The Great Gate is a fine building, official residence of the Provost-Major of North Estalia. Note also, near the castle, the Seona Hotel, one of the Castello Chain hostels.

The Great Gate. There is really not much to say about this, except that it is rather awesome. It was built (actually rebuilt) in 1745 as the residence of the newly appointed Provost-Major. His name, believe it or not, was Polonius Pontius Peppergrind (PPP, or Three-Pea as his denigrators called him). This was during a period of consolidation after several defeats of the Estalians by Almondese and a considerable amount of heresy, smuggling, and general lawlessness. Peppergrind was a third-generation descendent of an exiled regicide from the Cromwellian era of Great Britain. His grandfather had moved to Hamnet at the time of the Restoration and had over many years become a prominent local politician, advisor to the Duke, and his son actually Seneschal or chief deputy. The Peppergrinds found the Thud/Lott religion just as tastefully narrow-minded and puritanical as their own, so had no problems giving up Christianity and becoming Retro-Orthodox Estalians and pillars of the Temple. The family also had quite a bit of money, having invested heavily in the Dutch East India Company. When North Estalia was brought under control, Polonius was awarded the title of Provost-Major (he could not be made nobility because to be appointed such requires ancestry to one of the ancient m'Ludd families), and out of his own pocket paid for the elaborate overhauling of the old gatehouse of the town.

But it is rather a simple structure, with the lower part designed for garrison duty and just some large but basic rooms on the three upper floors for the Provost (an audience chamber, kitchen, great hall, solar, and bedrooms). Externally, the most prominent feature is the pyramidical obelisks atop the gateway buttresses; they are solid and have no function. An innovative, possibly unique, thing is the drawbridge within the gate passage. It rises over a deep stone-lined pit with iron spikes at the bottom and is raised laterally in two panels instead of dropping forward.


Estalia