Almondsey


The Hierophant's Palace in Estalia

The Hierophant's (or High Priest's) citadel is located a couple of miles or so from the Summer Palace of the Archduke in the hill country northwest of the capital city of Lotta.


Ground Floor

A grim fortress built on a natural hill carved into a regular shape to become a motte of the Norman kind. There is no bailey in the strict sense, just the huge walled estate surrounding the castle. There is a very large keep, attached to a formidable gatehouse / garrison quarters (up to 50 men-at-arms), but there are three other 'wings' -- a service area (kitchen, servants' quarters, etc.), a lodgings wing around a cloister for priests, deacons, and family, and the private wing where the hierophant lives and practices his vile activities. In the center diameter is the Banquet Hall, and the State Room or Ballroom, with the large chapel off at the central angle. A screens passage connects the two courtyards and serves the Hall and Ballroom (with a buttery and pantry on the Hall side, and music galleries above both rooms). The Lord's Hall in the keep is the site of the Curia for Disciplining the Faithful and Confounding Infidels.

Basement

The basement areas are dug into the motte. Note that there are two separate prisons under the gatehouse -- one for prominent folk, one for commoners, although there is not much difference in amenities -- but they are not large, because few prisoners remain for more than a couple of days. The kitchen cellars are extensive as the Hierophant prides himself on the cuisine and wine list, even for his prisoners ('I am not a barbarian, even the worst of heretics will be well-fed and go to their fate in a happy state of physical comfort"). Vaults in the keep are mainly used for exhibiting and storing the great treasures confiscated from heretics and political enemies. There is a game room / casino for the benefit and amusement of the politically correct, justly famous for its high stakes and bizarre wagers. Little comment should be spent on the infamous crypt and 'nasty rooms'. (In case you haven't noticed, this author is a refugee from Estalia who has taken refuge in Gerousle.)

  
First Floor

There is another wing of five bedrooms (three levels in the castle in all, making fifteen) here, with a communal bathroom; the cloister is a closed corridor at this level, and an open parapet on the next floor. The library has a window overlooking the top part of the two-story ballroom, then there are the hierophant's primary living rooms, and the Secretariat or ecclesiastical office in the keep. The chapel and great hall are also two stories tall. To the south of the chapel are the Chaplain's Tower (actually the Grand Inquisitor's quarters) and the Butler's Tower (assistant Grand Inquisitor as well as wine steward). Then there is the servant dormitory -- all eunuchs by hallowed tradition, although some of them were originally female before their sterilization. The large music gallery is shared by both the Great Hall and the State Room. Guards' Tower houses the senior garrison officers, and Steward's Tower the castellan.

  
Second Floor

Another range of bedrooms and the roofs of the Chapel, State Room, and Great Hall and a terrace over the servants' dormitory. The apse of the chapel extends above the roof as a celestial dome with fine mosaic motifs. Top floors of the Chaplain's and Butler's towers are part of their accommodation. The palatial living quarters of the Hierophant are in the northeast wing. The infamous Nonesuch Hall in the keep cannot really be described because it is taboo to all but high priesthood. Nobody in Gerousle knows what unspeakable furnishings and activities it harbors. Note the square stair tower in the courtyard. This is a landmark in Estalia and extends up another 75 feet into a campanile, clock tower, and observatory. This also is private territory.

  
Third Floor

This top floor (apart from tower and keep garrets) is mostly defensive in function: the hierophant's private bedchambers excepted, as they are on the least vulnerable side of the castle, facing the Dismal Swamp. There is a 'minaret' very similar to a Muslim structure next to the chapel apsidal dome -- basically just a thin spire leading to a tiny watch room. The Grand Inquisitor's laboratory is on the top floor of the Chaplain's Tower. In the southern sectors are the strongest wall-top defenses, including a machicolated parapet in the Great Hall gable, and the gatehouse towers. Note the flying bridge between these two towers overhanging the drawbridge. Above the armory in the keep is a flat roof with a fighting gallery and parapet on all sides. The campanile continues to rise for two more stories, and obviously contains bells -- a set of eight forged in London in 1799 and presented to the then hierophant by the British ambassador under William Pitt the Younger. (That was Sir Charles Fosworthy, of whom we might have more to say at some time on this web site.)


Estalia