Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Staircase Keep

“Watch thy step citizen” a sign posted above the Stair Gate

Looming over the Grand Stair like an enormous bird of prey, the soaring walls and towers of Staircase Keep are a stern reminder to visitors from the Downs that Upside holds power over them.

Outer Walls and First Gate: The outer walls of the keep are 50 feet high and 20 feet thick, build from granite blocks reinforced with wooden timbers. Built directly against the edge of the World Disk, the walls run alongside it for hundred of yards in each direction, then angle sharply back to meet behind the keep, forming a roughly diamond shape. Slender and circular guard towers 60 feet tall are build into the walls every hundred yards, each topped with a ballista and manned by a Staircase Guard detachment. There are four gates set into the outer wall. Three of them are spaced euidistnat from one another to the rear of the fortress, just large enough for a cart to pass through. The fourth, known as First Gate, is a much larger arch fully 25 feet at its apex and twice that in width. Twin guard towers studded with murder holes flank First Gate. Iron portcullises on each side of the wall can be dropped in times of need, but neither has been used in living memory. First Gate is guarded at all times by two Staircase Guard detachments, supported by a skirmisher and a member of the Spellwatch.

The Inner Keep: The keep is a marvel of architectural design, built with an eye for beauty as much as functionality. The main body of the fortress is built in a triangle shape, with the point towards the Grand Stair, splitting it like a wedge. The inner keep contains barracks for the rank and file of the Staircase Guard, plus kitchens, larders, several armories, offices, meeting halls and a large cathedral dedicated to the gods of protection and war. The walls are 75 feet high and fully 25 feet thick. Internal doors are stronger than normal but kept unlocked, with the exception of armory doors.

Tower of Beasts and the War Tower: These twin square towers are 75 feet high, separated from the inner keep by the Grand Stair. To allow easy passage between the towers and keep, two sets of reinforced, covered bridges run between them at a height of 25 feet. To the west is the War Tower, with officers’ quarters, and living space and research laboratories for the Spellwatch. An entire floor is set aside for Guard Captain Magdalena Ronoff. The interior of the War Tower is lavishly decorated with tapestries and flowering plants, giving it a comfortable homey feeling sadly lacking in most castles. Inner doors are kept locked and, in the case of laboratory doors, protected by alarm spells, some uniquely created for the War Tower.

The eastern tower is the Tower of Beasts, home to the keep’s few horses and its famous griffons. The horse stables occupy the lowest level of the tower with stalls for a dozen chargers. It includes tack rooms for saddles, leather barding and bails of hay, plus living quarters for the Keep’s stablemaster and his assistants. Directly above the stables are the spacious living quarters of the five-member griffon guard, as well as their flamboyant leader, the elf warrior Hanan Al’ Sharif. Above the griffon guard is the griffon rookery, a single, spacious room occupying the entirety of the tower’s upper half. The rookery is an ideal playing ground for the griffons, filled with platforms and beams for climbing, and the magical beasts are allowed the run of it.


Gordzilla said...

Taking votes to replace the Griffons which are now a fantasy cliche. Please post optional fantasy flying steeds, comments section is fine. Then once I've decided from the suggestions, I'll edit this post.

James said...

Hippogriffs first come to mind as there are horses also listed in the keep.

harrygoblin said...

Giant albatross has a great oceanic feel to it