Almondsey


Estalian Whitcraft Towers


This chunky but impressive-looking building is an Estalian border watch tower. Thirteen of these structures were built in the 1670-80's to a design by Sir Edmundbury Whitcraft, who had been sent by Charles II of England as an unofficial ambassador. In addition to their border-guarding function, they also served as aeries for prominent Estalian priest-wizards. Most of them are not near major border crossings, which have more elaborate fortifications, but in remote areas where there is still good access for 'sneak' attack and infiltration. In supplement to the wizard and his servants, there was usually a platoon of 16 or so seasoned soldiers under a sergeant-major; for the most part, the household lived in outbuildings, as the tower has limited accommodation, most of the upper floors containing the wizard's quarters and work rooms. Originally, since firearms and artillery were rare in Estalia, there was little defensive provision apart from thick walls, small windows, and a moat and portcullis protected entrance; in the next century earthworks, batteries, and other defenses were added, also larger garrisons. Polliberry in the southeast near the Kajudder Bridge became the keep tower of the notorious prison for heretics and spies that was destroyed by the Almondese in a punitive expedition to rescue the diplomat Farcas. Pamelard and Pottle, which were relatively nearby, were also slighted, although they were less important strategically. In effect, this reduced River Lin side of the county of Pleth (which was what South Poggit was called then) to the status of a buffer, or march, area that to this day remains the least 'Estalian' of the provinces of that nation, although it is the most fertile agriculturally.





There are 13 'Whitcraft' towers distributed around the borders of North Estalia. They were all basically built to the same pattern by Sir Edmundbury Whitcraft, a Scottish Necromancer-of-fortune who caught the attention of the High Priest Himzip-tol-Ten in the late 1600s and abetted the latter's idea of protecting the kingdom by a series of watch-towers each manned by a wizard/escrier as well as a garrison. Five still survive intact (some with refurbishment and modernization), five are ruinous or decayed and abandoned, and three, between Hamnet and Ft. Lorig, were destroyed to the foundations by the Gerousle army in 1792 during the Border Fracas of Farcas's Nose.

The tower plan in all cases was the same except for orientation; what varied was the outer works, which depended on the terrain. Most of them had a barmkin or outer enclosure that included more accommodation for soldiers as well as outbuildings such as stables, bakehouses, and barns -- two were actually incorporated into major border fortresses, which still exist. The one shown here, L'mozzian's Tower (W-2), is in the remote northeast corner of the country and has basically not been changed since it was built. It is also stand-alone in that there is nothing else there except a primitive hamlet of wattle-and-daub forestry huts. The current L'mozzian scion, a notorious recluse and necromantic scholar, remains in residence with no more than a half-dozen retainers.

In basic plan, a Whitcraft tower is a five-story building with cellar and attic, consisting of a sprial stair turret and a rectangular structure of two interposed squares, one rotated 45 degrees to the orientation of the other. On the entrance side is a rock-cut ditch, usually filled with water to supply the building (others have a well in the cellar). Basement contains the storage cellars, ground floor the guardrooms and kitchen/mess hall, first floor the garrison chamber and portcullis room, second floor the retainers' sleeping quarters, then on the upper two floors the Wizard's chambers (including the 'Igor Room' for the wizard's personal servant who may or may not be a demon).

The attic floor contains a large garrett with gable windows unusually sited at two of the three descending corners and a projecting round turret on the third. Two chimney stacks with obelisks on the outer face, with the steep pyramidal roof, give the building its interesting profile. On the entrance side there is a caphouse of two stories with a library and an arboretum with a glass roof (well, at least in this case, since L'mozzian raises poisonous plants -- two similar towers house a herpetarium (WT-3) and a spider/centipede nursery (WT-4)).

Surviving towers are Tatohead (WT-1) at the bottom of Tato Bay, L'Mozzian (WT-2), which is the northernmost fortress in Estalia, Silside (WT-3), Margin (WT-4), and Gorgeron (WT-5). Polliberry, Pamelard, and Pottle were demolished. The ones located in the interior of Pleth (South Poggit) west of the River Lin, and not destroyed by the Almondese, have been left to decay.


Lin Gorge

Estalia