Thursday, September 30, 2010

Neighborhoods: Government District Hall of Voices Part Two

The Hall of Voices is the seat of the ruling guild parliament, an ancient and imposing snow white marble edifice from the time before Stormhaven’s founding. Surrounded by wide steps formed by seven progressively smaller layers of marble blocks, the Hall is a building without walls. The steep, pitched roof is decorated by intricately carved murals of idealized men and women in togas, supported by dozens of 20 foot high, fluted columns. A large, rectangular stone table and a flag stand are the only furnishings. On most days the Hall of Voices is open to all, with two guards stationed at all times to deter vandalism and reassure the wealthy Upside visitors, who often picnic on the steps.

Once every two weeks, the Hall comes alive. The dust and leaves are swept away, a dozen high backed oak chairs are placed around the table and a Stormhaven flag unfurled and set in its holder. As the sun rises the guild councilors gather at the Hall for the Grand Parliament, each attended by two pages and a scribe, savvy in Stormhaven law.

When all the councilors have gathered, the Hall is sealed off by a detachment of 20 elite Stairway Keep soldiers, led by a Guard captain and supported by several battle mages. While the Parliament convenes, no-one is allowed to step inside the Hall except by special invitation of a council member. High ranking guildsmen with no formal seat in the Parliament and fringe political organizations often demonstrate just outside the steps of the Hall, shouting out their agendas to the disinterested council. Outbreaks of violence are common during the Grand Parliament, and the guardsmen respond with brutal precision using truncheons, sleep spells and other tools to disperse the crowd. Watching the brutality has become a popular spectator sport among Upside’s citizens.

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