Almondsey


Estalian Tower Houses

Estalia preserved all the old ways in religion, government, law, and lore, and maintained the old civilization in its most culturally advanced and static form, holding sway over the interior of the island with the magic of old, whose seat of power lay in the Navel String of Thud preserved in the Great Temple and also in the supporting spirit of the goddess Lott (who had departed the Earth long before in the days of her grief). The line of Tholfl-Tholfil Thud-Laught-t' Mistre-Mistrei-s' ruled the city of Lotta as wizard-kings; they were the progeny of Kueen by Chab, while the rulers of Jatta were the progeny of Icti (Ict's mother) by Kueen, but the two lines were eventually united by Slish Kueen-Chab and Himzip Icti-Kueen, the parents of Sonata (as celebrated in the Song of Slish and Himzip, by the deaf minstrel Pawpa). -- extract from the Archives

In the mid to late 17th Century, religious wars and aggressive territorial movements came to the fore. The Restoration Court of Charles II of England sent a representative to Estalia in the person of the Scottish necromancer Sir Edmundbury Whitcraft, who was also a military architect. High Priest Himzip-tol-Ten, a direct descendent of Slish and Himzip, had declared himself protector over the feeble-minded teenaged king Yah-to-s' the First. Himzip-tol-Ten was a fanatic conservative of the old religion, as well as being quite open to alien technologies and non-theological philosophies, and also rather sophisticated for his time. He established an Inquisitorial Court to enforce orthodoxy, and better to govern and control the provinces, enlisted the help of Whitcraft to build watch towers, fortifications, and small 'keeps' in the towns and villages. These three basic patterns of tower-house were constructed in key locations, and remained the basis of local government power henceforth, although superseded in more important places. The mystic number 49 was written in an old prophecy, so Himzip-tol-Ten limited the structures to that count, if necessary demolishing, amalgamating, or relocating towns and villages. During the days of war-footing, it was illegal to live outside the jurisdiction of one of these venues, on punishment of death or mutilation. Woodsmen and shepherds had to have special licenses to dwell in the forests and fells; farmers remote from the localities were required to send hostages, generally daughters and grandparents, to the government centers. These towers were called 'Mims' and always had supporting garrisons and special Inquisitorial constables. The system was called very oppressive in later times, but it must be granted that originally they provided security and stability in rural areas that were subject to major outlawry and raiding. The religious oppression was relatively light in that outside influences from Christian protestant sects were nearly non-existent and the populace were 98% believers and indifferent agnostics. The main source of unorthodoxy, rigorously persecuted, was the neo-Thuddite sect of Jatta/Gerousle, which denigrated the primacy of the goddess Lott, as opposed to her being co-equal with Thud, or even superior as many Estalians believed.

Note: PSE = Province of South Estalia, PNE = Province of North Estalia, PWE = Province of West Estalia.


Village Towers (Palbo-Mims)

These little towers were built in small villages to be the home place of the village constable/inquisitor. Twenty-eight was the 'magic number' for this structure, so Himzip destroyed/amalgamated many villages that did not fit into this plan, in fact created new ones in other counties where there weren't enough villages and deported the inhabitants of the surplus ones to them. They are very basic, consisting of a cellar, a living room with kitchen, and a bedroom/study, with a crawl-space of a garret above for any servants or soldiers. There was also a low-walled outer courtyard that contained less substantial buildings for retainers, storage, a public hall, and a chapel. In most cases, this still remains the center of village life, especially where a pub was built adjacent. In many instances, the tower is the only stone building in the village (Estalian chapels were traditionally made from wicker and ritually destroyed and rebuilt at the Summer Solstice, although they were mostly rebuilt in stone in the 18th Century). Palbo was a famous martyr who led an uprising against the Gerouslans and got skewered for his efforts.

This is the most basic of the tower houses, built for small villages that had at up to the most at that time 500 inhabitants. There were originally 28 of these (10 in North Estalia, 7 in West Estalia, and 11 in South Estalia). They housed the official headman of the village, somewhat like the mullah of an Islamic town, both judge and priest. There are, of course, other villages similarly organized but not strictly Whitcraft Palbos.

This is a typical Estalian village (Phlibocx, PSE), although perhaps a little larger and more heavily defended than usual, and with an 18th-Century fort built in the corner. It is surrounded by an embanked wooden stockade with corner towers and four stone gatehouses. The market square is in the center, with the tower house, an inn, and a temple on one side, near the garrison. There is a pier for small boats, as the River Phli is fairly navigable below this point. But see Har-bocx (PWE) for a more primitive example of an Estalian village. It should be noted that this resembles an old legionary Roman fortress and is very barrack-like in appearance, with two gateways (one of stone) and four corner towers. Existence for these poor peasants was rather grim and regimented.


Town Towers (Plimbo-Mims)

This was the middle-sized oligarchy tower for the larger towns. It is somewhat more elaborate than the village tower, but not much more. The surrounding courtyard, or barmkin, was quite a bit bigger and had more subsidiary buildings, such as a stable and a tithe barn, in addition to the usual public hall, chapel, and servants' quarters. Plimbo was a famous Chancellor of the Exchequer who was known as a chess master as well as for arranging for the financing of these projects by draconian tax measures (which also led to the short-lived but brutally handled Farthing Rebellion). Plimbo in fact negotiated a mutual support treaty with the Swedes when it looked as though British influence was becoming too blatant under Charles II's diplomats. His tower survives as a ruin in (1) Plimboton (PSE) -- actually half blown up during the 1840 War of Holy Success when the eastern shore of the lake was captured by Almondese-inspired rebels. These towers have a garrison hall above the cellar, a 'great hall' with an alcoved kitchen, and a large bedroom for the local satrap, with two caphouse rooms put to various uses. The tower of (2) Hash-kay (PSE), in the market town of Alkol, was incorporated into the palace of the Margrave of Pulse-withal, who was a notorious politician in the 1760's and was double-dealing with both the French and the Russians. There is no title Margrave in Estalia, so he invented it. But after his execution, his daughter married King Phlobo the Lean, and the site became a minor royal palace for dowagers and other unwanted members of the family. The tower there has been nicknamed Mother-in-Law's Boudoir (Bodro M'lon Mar). Another of these towers, (3) Poolot't (PSE) became part of the University of Estalia, as the Astrologer Royal's residence. As they are inadequate as residences for modern satraps, the barmkin areas have been built up considerably in a more 'Queen Anne' style in many cases except for six, which have fallen into decrepitude -- (4) Poskrit, PSE, is currently part of a tannery in fact, and (5) Palominomin, PWE, is a junk shop. (6) P'pshitt and (7) Lom'bom (both PSE) are ruinous, having been officially abandoned then decaying over the years, and (8) Ploybart (PNE) and (9) Possonlay (PSE) are in a state of decay although still officially 'commissioned'. Still in more or less continual usage as intended are: (10) Plahsh (PSE), (11) Pilhomen {PNE}, (12) Hagg-nookh (PSE), (13) Hamm-bosch (PWE), (14) Pillitove (PNE), and (15) Lovitweir (PNE).

There are 15 of these basic four-story tower houses in as many towns (generally with a population of less than 1000 but more than 500).


Borough Towers (Pogin-Mims)

Although not that large, these towers are more elaborate than the others, including three separate bedrooms on one floor and a large garret and defensive garrison area at the top. Outlying precincts are also quite a bit more extensive, in some cases including a whole local government precinct -- courts, temple, constabulary, etc. These structures rated a ranking Inquisitor, as well as a Chief Constable, and a Mayor. They are all in the Main Province of South Estalia except for Parson. Pogin-Central, in Lar'Min, was destroyed by the Almondese in 1840 in the War of Holy Success, but the other 5 survive: (1) Parson (PWE), (2) Pumfrit, (3) Ma'ar-mit, (4) Smardogg (where the 1840 rebels were finally halted -- see below), and (5) Lash-l'rou (now part of the University of Estalia). A seventh 'pseudo'-Pogin-mim is Hanssolu (PSE), constructed in the mid-19th Century. Pogin was a famous general who led the Estalian army to victory against the Almondese in the War of the Succession of 'M-tolemo in 1740. He was betrayed and captured leading the army into the heartland of the Gerouslans and barbarously executed in the market square of Gerousle.

Smardogg. A typical Pogin Tower precinct, containing a cavalry stable, a temple, a courthouse, a garrison, and a couple of 18th-century artillery redans facing outside of town. This arrangement of course varies from place to place. Smardogg is famous for being the town at which the rebellion of 1840 (War of the Holy Success) was halted and suppressed. For a plan of the town and castle, see Rebel's Halt.

There are 7 of these more elaborate five-story tower houses in as many towns (generally with a population of 1000-2500 -- anything larger than this in Estalia is considered a city).


Estalia