Almondsey


Castle Phaar, Estalia

This woodland fortress is in the Province of South Estalia, just across the border from West Estalia, and is very isolated. If one should want to go there, the easiest access is from the nearby town of Yug, by pack bridge across the River Phaarat; otherwise, it can only be reached via dark and dangerous forest trails (the dreaded Harrum Forest). It was built, possibly in the late 17th Century, to an outmoded 'medieval' pattern, and although small is a rabbit warren of a place. Baron Harrum was a dreaded outlaw during much of his life, noted for robbery, cruelty, and treachery -- but the authorities could never catch him and he had rich friends in upper court circles who helped him build his stonghold.

The castle is located on a low hill a few hundred yards south of the River Phaarat; it is protected to the farther west by the Cliffs of Sarlon and to the south and east by the dense forest. There is a small village of wooden huts attached, where the retainers and 'providers' live -- also many outlaws and exiles from other regions. One notable feature of this building reflects on the paranoia of the builder: Different levels and groups of rooms are isolated from each other by separate stairways and corridors.

Physical Description of Castle Phaar

Castle Phaar

Ground Floor: There are vaulted cellars under the kitchen and the great hall, each reached by separate turnpike stairs; there are also underground dungeons and chambers on more than one level underneath the gatehouse (not shown on plan, as they have never been mapped). The gateway is very well protected, with a drawbridge, two towers, a portcullis, an iron door, an inner door, flanking gunloops, and overhead murder holes. The first bay of the entrance passage [c] is open to the second story, providing an interior 'killing' space (including even a small loophole in the kitchen fireplace!). The second bay leads to the great hall, kitchen, and main staircase (with another guard chamber beside it). Note the three spiral stairs at the east side here: main (access to solar, etc.), kitchen (cellar and domestic quarters), and great hall (other cellar, minstrels' gallery and defensive features). The kitchen has a fireplace, an oven, and an open flue spanning the middle, where cooking was done on grills; the west side rises through two stories. In one gate tower is the larder [a], and in the other tower is the pantry [b], with scullery and access to the castle well. The Great Hall is two stories high and has a minstrels' gallery [l]. The three rooms entered from it are the porter's lodge [d], a 'snug' [e] where the baron could go retreat when he wanted to be scarce (rumor is that there is a secret trapdoor down to the dungeon level), and an Office where he conducted business -- it also has a garderobe, or WC [f -- this letter replicated for other garderobes].
First Floor: This level is all 'infrastructure' where there are rooms separate from the upper portions of the bi-level areas. The whole west side is taken up with guard rooms [i], which also housed two to four soldiers in each, connected by a mural passage accessed from the minstrels' gallery [l]. Portcullis and drawbridge were operated from the corridor spanning the outside of the gate [k], which also has a machicolation in the floor. In the southeast tower, over the office, is the bedchamber of the castellan or chief officer in charge in the baron's absence [m]. The servants' wing shows a level of security in that it is cut off from the rest of the floor but has its own defence: bedroom for the two footmen [j] in the killing chamber over the second bay of the gate passage. Here, also, is the servants' hall or sitting/dining room [h] and the butler/steward's bedroom [g].
Second Floor: Somewhat more domestic. Here is the Solar, or main withdrawing room for the lord and his family, with a more intimate Parlour in the southeast tower, accessed from the main stair, with connection to the servant wing (the south spiral stair bypasses this floor); it has a very large bay window facing south over the forest. There is a Long Gallery (portraits, etc.) leading to the Chapel [q] and the priest's bedroom [n] -- like many very evil men, the builder was devout religiously and with a personal priest could easily be forgiven his sins. The private alcove [r] has a single-floor stair up to the principal bedchamber. In the servant wing, there are the cook/housekeeper's bedroom [o] and the dormitory for the 3-4 housemaids [p].

Castle Phaar

Third Floor: Access to this floor is by the main staircase, with also the Baron's private stair down to the Solar, and Milady's to the maids' room. Two bedrooms [a] occupy the gate towers (family, friends, whoever -- probably Aunt Emily and the idiot bastard youngest son), another occupied by the mistress of the house. A Long Gallery, again, then the two main suites: the Baron's and Her Ladyship's (has a sitting/dressing room [c]), which have the only full bathrooms in the house apart from a third in the garret [b]. Completely non-communicating with the rest of this floor is the Governor's Room [d], the mysterious 'he-who-must-be-obeyed', probably a grand wizard.
Fourth Floor: Four more bedrooms for family [a], including a large one in the southeast tower, two lobbies [f] over the Long Gallery, a private terrace [g] and a tower-top room [e] for the Baron's 'boys'. The Garret has served many functions as a lofty attic room, including gymnasium and nursery, as have the small chambers [h and i].
Roof Level: Three of the towers rise above parapet [n] and roof with caphouses. There are more bedrooms [k] in the gate towers, accessed by a wooden stair [j] from the lobby below. The east side has a small guard room [l], a watch tower [m], and a lavatory [o].


Estalia