Palace at Goldshire Hamlet
- 1 The Inner Palace
- 2 The Outer Palace
- 3 The Palace Grounds
The Inner Palace
Early Site History
On the summit of Kizzy's Hill, a gentle hill overlooking the city of Goldshire Hamlet, the rulers of Goldshire have made their home since the beginning of human time. Beginning with the first natives, this commanding position was utilised as a fortification and a lookout. Looking over swathes of surrounding countryside as well as the nearby coast, it offered the ideal place for a chief to survey his territory.
History does not record the first residents of this place, aside from a few shards of buried pottery. Whoever they were, they were no match for the waves of Treesian merchants and colonists who descended on them around 4000 bASC. The Treesians, in the process of colonising most of Eastern Benacia's coast, had founded the settlement of Goldshire Hamlet as their capital. The site was chosen in part because of the protection afforded by the nearby hill, upon which the Treesians quickly established a garrison of their own.
Goldshire Hamlet grew under this protection into a thriving colony, loading ships full of gold mined locally and destined for Treesia itself. The little garrison on the hill saw occasional action fending off uprisings by native Goldshirians. It once briefly fell to a raiding party under the command of the fairy queen Moraquine, but the attackers were overstretched from their Ynnraili homeland and unable to press the attack into Goldshire Hamlet itself. The Treesians regained control of the hill, and retained it thereafter while they consolidated their rule around the ports of Goldshire.
Goldshire Hamlet was one of the few Treesian ports to hold out against the Khaz Modani invasion of the Goldshirian coast in the 2500s bASC. The defence of the Hamlet was led by the skilled tactician Lum'Ruush Mercaja, who recognised the necessity of occasionally abandoning the Hamlet to regroup on the hilltop fort, from which he could rally his forces easily - even under siege - and eventually break out to retake the Hamlet.
In time the Khaz Modani threat was wrestled back into the sea whence it had come, and the Treesians enjoyed dominance over Goldshire once more. But their harsh treatment the native Goldshirians caused many of the latter to turn willingly to the Khaz Modani for assistance. With the help of one Raynor Me'Jiliad, the Treesians were pushed out of the Benacian interior and eventually broken. Raynor's forces headed for Goldshire Hamlet as a priority, thus the Hamlet was one of the first Treesian ports to fall to Raynor and his Sword of Vengeance. Recognising the importance of Goldshire Hamlet under his own rule, he retained it as the capital of a Goldshire united with his own realm, Brookshire, together comprising a nation called Shireroth.
The Servants' Floor and the Ball Floor
From this point, the hill overlooking the Hamlet was continuously occupied by the various Shirerithian militias in a crude but important garrison. The garrison was much strengthened and fortified by order of Kaiseress Aure in the 1440s ASC - the foundations laid during this effort remain to this day. It was Duchess Jadie of Goldshire, however, who first expressed the desire to use the location as a place of government. The first known form of the Goldshire Palace was a temporary affair largely suspended from trees in the surrounding forest, which drew curious visitors from acorss Shireroth. In 1518 ASC more serious work began on a permanent palace, utilising the Aure-era garrison as a starting point before adding additional floors and numerous decorative features. The architectural plan seeked to retain the novelty of the tree fort by incorporating an Eastern aesthetic which was alien to Goldshire at the time. The plan worked however, and the finished building was soon home to the Duchess and a steady stream of curious admirers.
The ground floor was retained from the garrison and repurposed to hold the palace kitchens, stores and servants' quarters. This floor is nowadays called the Servants' Floor and has no windows, as its entire exterior wall was made into a flight of steps leading to the Ball Floor above. On the The Ball Floor are the building's four entrances: one for each aspect with none taking precedence as a 'main' entrance. Beyond the lobbies, the floor was built entirely to accomodate Duchess Jadie's tendency to host wild parties involving the entire Shirerithian nobility. Four ballrooms, each occupying a corner of the building, ensured plenty of floor space for guests. Each ballroom was essentially a self-contained annexe able to host an occasion independently of, or simultaneously with, its neigbours. Each had a bar linked to the stores below by a service staircase, as well as its own bathroom. Next door to the bathrooms were dimly lit rooms full of couches, cushions and buckets - serving a dual purpose for worn out guests to crash for the night, or for those still standing to conduct an impromptu orgy.
The seperation of ballrooms and their adjuncts did not work in practice, however. As one party tended to overrun its schedule and overlap the next, the initial housewarming party extended to all four ballrooms and lasted the entirety of Jadie's reign under one guise or another, until all semblence of occasion was forgotten and the event was simply known as the Goldshire Party. Guests left and returned at will over the course of their lifetimes, and it is said that the number present never fell below a dozen at any hour. The Ball Floor is in part still used to entertain the closest associates of the Grand Duchess, with more formal state occasions being held in the ballroom of the Outer Palace, but after the accession of the Grand Duchess Noor a significant portion of the floor was turned into an extension of the Grand Duchess' Quarters containing a Grand Ducal Nursery for the offspring of the Grand Duchess Noor, i.e. her children with the Prince Nathaniel and King Noah of Elwynn.
The Grand Ducal Nursery is a suite of rooms, including the night nursery, where the Grand Ducal offspring sleep, and a day nursery, where they eat and play. The nursery suite includes bathroom facilities and a kitchen. The Lady Nurse (nanny), the Lady Nursemaid (assistant), and the Lady Reader (assistant) sleep in the suite too, to be within earshot of the sleeping children. The schoolroom might also be adjacent, but the Lady Governess, whose job it is to teach the children, is part of the Grand Ducal Nursery; she has her own bedroom in the Outer Palace.
The Ledger Floor
Above the Ball Floor was built the Ledger Floor. Being partially obstructed by the balcony of the Ducal Floor above, the Ledger Floor never afforded a good view of anything and was made into offices. Here the Duke's retinue of clerks did their work, administering the minutiae of Ducal business across Goldshire. Since such business was moved to the Outer Palace, the Ledger Floor was made into an extension of the Duke's Quarters containing a billards room and the Grand Duchess' personal library.
The Grand Ducal Floor
Above the Ledger Floor is what nowadays is called the Grand Ducal Floor. The staircase ascends straight into the Throne Room, where the Ducal Throne of Goldshire - the Golden Hovercat Throne - lied directly beneath the building's central dome. The throne - like much of the room itself - is made of pure, solid gold without cushions or any other adornment. It is said that due to the malleability of said precious metal, it gradually shapes itself to the posterior of a (Grand) Duke over the course of zir reign and making it slightly less uncomfortable as the years pass. Indeed the throne shows evidence of this: the seat dips noticeably in the middle, and on close inspection the legs appear slightly bowed in random directions. While a little daylight filters down to the throne from the small windows of the dome above, most of the room's light is derived from a ring of chandeliers - giving the room's polished golden features a reflective glitter almost painful to the eye.
Behind the Throne Room is the Grand Duchess' Office, wherein the most important business of the Grand Duchy is prepared and conducted. Here the relentless gold trim of the Throne Room gives way to a more habitable polished teak panelling and tastefully moulded ceiling. Along one wall stands a bookcase, containing those volumes used too frequently to be kept in the Grand Ducal library below. The Grand Ducal desk lies opposite, a heavy carved wooden affair accompanied by a similarly robust chair. The use of the Grand Duke's Office and Throne Room by the Grand Duke zirself has varied according the the individual, with some insisting all office work be done by a retainer and presented for zir signature in the Throne Room. Others have taken a more involved approach to Grand Ducal affairs and ruled from the Grand Ducal desk itself: either because the throne was too uncomfortable, or because they trusted nobody enough to delegate the paperwork.
Either side of the Grand Ducal Office and surrounding the entire Throne Room are the Grand Duchess' Quarters, which take up most of the floor. This is divided into a bedchamber, bathroom, drawing room and dining room. The Quarters are carpeted throughout and slightly less ornate than the rest of the building, giving it a mroe informal feel. It is the sole domain of the (Grand) Duke, zir family and zir personal servants: it is extremely rare that a guest will be admitted to the Quarters, with the exception of those (Grand) Dukes in the past who took concubines. Outside a balcony surrounds the entire building, accessible only from the Grand Duchess' Quarters. It is adorned with a mezzanine roof in the oriental style, and overlooks the landscaped courtyard of the Outer Palace.
In each corner of the building a small staircase leads from the Grand Duke's Quarters to the roof, emerging via the minor domes. The roof contains a garden of shrubs and flowers with the occasional ornament, and is considered a private extension of the Grand Duke's Quarters. From here one can see over the roof of the Outer Palace into Goldshire Hamlet, and around the surrounding countryside and coast. The minor domes are adorned with golden shamrock finials, while the main central dome is topped by a flagpole from which the flag of the Grand Duchy flies at all times.
The Outer Palace
As Goldshire was incorporated into Brookshire and its identity lost, the Goldshire Palace became vacant and run down. For a period it was occupied by the Brookshirian military, who stripped out many of its interior features and converted it into barracks. A simple flophouse at first, the palace's ornate form caught the eye of the Brookshirian officer corps who requisitioned it as their own mess and sleeping quarters. The upstairs rooms were partially restored, as was one of the ballrooms. The rest of the palace was either used for storage or left empty.
Developments in Duke Harvey's Reign
In 3729 Goldshire was re-granted autonomy under Duke Harvey, who set about making the Palace inhabitable. While it was sufficient to house him and his personal servants, it was found to be too small to support the vast retinue of Ducal officials required in an age far more modern than that in which the Palace was built. The staff was eventually housed in a series of temporary buildings around the palace, accompanied by a military garrison. Parts of the grounds were restored to proper maintenance for this staff, as well as a section for Duke Harvey himself. Large parts however remained wild and unmanaged.
Developments in Duke Aryeztur's Reign
In 3803 the palace finally received proper attention in the form of Duke Aryeztur, who had taken power in 3799. His solution to the overcrowding of the Palace was to surround it with an Outer Palace, dedicated to the business of Ducal government. The specifications required something far larger than the Inner Palace, but built to the same oriental design. The Duke famously summoned his finest architects and gathered them into his Throne Room, from which he threw fistfuls of drawings and photographs at them until the floor was completely covered. Unable to interpret his wild screaming, the bemused builders gathered up these papers and withdrew to confer upon a plan of construction. The result of their deliberations was a square yet elegant affair, comprised of a standardised frontage arranged fourfold into a square around the Inner Palace.
The Four Corners
The four corners of the Outer Palace featured pillars, atop which were placed four giant statues of pure gold featuring famous figures in Goldshirian history: on the southwest pillar, Moraquine the fairy queen. On the Southeast pillar, Lum'Ruush Mercaja the Treesian leader. On the Northeast pillar, Raynor Me'Jiliad himself. And on the Northwest pillar, a double statue depicting Duchess Jadie with Zarathustra Erutirn, famed Goldshirian general and husband to the Duchess. On the roof above the main gates are shallow domes capped by flagpoles, from which it is customary to fly the personal standard of the reigning Grand Duchess while zie is within the Palace walls.
Claymoore Floor and the State Floor
Claymoore Floor is the ground floor of the Outer Palace. It is taken up by various services for the floors above: kitchens, stores and archives as well as the Palace mailroom, workers' cafeteria and guardhouse. Above the ground floor is the State Floor, containing various formal venues including ballrooms, dining halls, and theatres. The outer exterior of the floor is surrounded by a balcony, which when not reserved for visiting dignitaries serves as a popular location for Palace staff during breaks in their work day.
Above the State Floor is Whalemoore Floor which, just like the Ledger Floor in the Inner Palace once did, now houses almost the entire machinery of the Grand Ducal government. The floor is divided into the various departments by which the Grand Duchy is run - the smallest being the Grand Ducal Department of Highways which is limited to a single desk, and the largest being the Grand Ducal Military Command headquarters which takes up the entire Eastern frontage. It is rumoured that this military portion contains a hidden staircase descending inaccessible through the lower floors and continuing deep underground to some kind of bunker, though the relevant personnel involved in its construction and operation have been naturally silent about its nature.
Above the Ledger Floor at the top of the building is the Abode Floor, containing apartments and dormitories for the majority of the Palace workforce who live in situ. The floor contains four luxury quarters for visiting VIPs, as well as a handful of empty apartments to accomodate visiting petitioners and minor guests. The Outer Palace's roof is unused, except for the occasional visit by the Grand Ducal Falconer to scare away roosting pigeons with his hawks.
Highcalere Courtyard is the courtyard containing the Inner Palace and a landscaped affair surrounding the Inner Palace and its driveway, which extends in four directions via gateways running through the Outer Palace.
The Palace Grounds
The Palace estate includes most of Kizzy's Hill, sloping gently upwards from its boundary toward the Palace at the hill's summit. The estate has two main gates: the first faces north, leading down to Goldshire Hamlet. The second faces east, over a private military road which leads to the nearby Auraumbre Barracks. Between these entrance roads a large lawn covers the slope up to the Palace, lined on each side by a row of oak trees. Under the watchful eye of Raynor Me'Jiliad whose statue caps the Palace's northeast corner, the Grand Duchess and zir guests often take a morning walk around this lawn. It is traditional for the Grand Duchess to open this lawn once per year for the Palace soccer match, wherein a team composed of the Grand Duchess' servants plays a team composed of Palace bureaucrats for a prize awarded by the Grand Duchess zirself.
The entrance roads are known as Saikar's Ways. They, after leading through the Palace courtyard, extend in two directions. The Western road leads down to the Palace Wharf, where the Grand Ducal Yacht is based. Here a boat shed with accompanying slipway houses all manner of smaller craft. The Wharf is maintained by a small garrison of naval personnel who maintain a presence there at all times.
The Southern road leads to the Palace helipad, where the Grand Duchess' personal helicopter stands ready to provide rapid air transport to anywhere in Shirerithian Benacia. Motor transport is provided by the Palace Garage, which keeps a fleet of limousines at a base near the North gate. Opposite the garage is the Chief Groundskeeper's cottage, as well as a storage shed for the wide variety of tools and machinery required to maintain the Palace grounds.
The southwest side of Kizzy's Hill, the hill upon which the palace stands, is the steepest, sloping down into an ornamental lake called Lake Ryabin at its base. Lake Ryabin hosts a large number of wildfowl, as well as a variety of freshwater fish kept in stock by the Palace gamekeeper. The gamekeeper works from a small and primitive annexe to the Palace hunting lodge, which stands on a promontory jutting into the lake. Besides a pontoon for fishing, the lodge contains a smokehouse for the preparation of game. When not gathered by the Grand Duchess' shooting parties, the numerous pheasant and quail around the estate are represented in the Palace kitchens by a selection from the gamekeeper himself.
The greater part of the Palace estate, expecially around the perimeter, is covered by woodland which is known as Jadie's Woods. A series of rough paths are maintained through these woods, which are interspersed with hidden glades and wild gardens. Ever since the wedding of King Noah of Elwynn and Grand Duchess Noor of Goldshire, a portion of Jadie's Woods serves as a Godsgrove.
Some parts, like that between the Wharf and the Garage, are heavily used by servants and groundsmen taking shortcuts. Others, like the woods near the Eastern gate, are essentially left to wilderness. The very edge of the estate's perimeter is kept as a clear path for security patrols. Along their path is the boundary fence, a tall affair of wire and wood constructed with deliberate weakness to aid location of unauthorised entries by their broken segments.