Raynor's Keep

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Raynor's Keep
Map raynors keep.png
Nation: Imperial Republic of Shireroth
City: Shirekeep
Predominant language: English, Præta Sxiröþes

Main roads: Nobles' Avenue
Major ethnicities:
Raynor's Keep.

Raynor's Keep, sometimes known as The Keep, stands in the center of the city, surrounded by a stone wall. Most of the city's historical attractions are here, as well as the center of the Shirerithian government. There are only three gates into the Keep (one to the east, one to the west, and one to the south); these close at 11 PM and open each morning at 10 AM or when the guards wake up, whichever is later. Foreigners who have a Certificate of Non-Evilness will need to show it to the guards before entering the Keep.

Built by Kaiser Raynor I as his capital and fortress, it now serves as the Kaiser's palace, administrative center, and reception hall. It connects to the Triple Towers by a series of battlements, which are currently used as government offices and storerooms.

The building and some surrounding houses and offices form the Raynor's Keep district.


The fortification known as Raynor's Keep has endured for the entire span of Shirerithian history. Before Malarbor, before the moose, before the Mango Throne, Raynor's Keep existed. In that time, the form of Raynor's Keep has evolved; Raynor's Keep of today would be unrecognizable to Kaiser Raynor I. Even so, at its core lies the original fortification, to which later generations have added. This is the story of a structure as old as Shireroth itself, as told by the ever-credible tour guide, whose tale is told during the periods of peace and prosperity, when the imperial government has allowed schoolchildren and tourists inside its ancient gates.

First Era

The Keep's History during the First Era

Side View with Forebuilding during the First Era

According to tradition, Kaiser Raynor I ordered the construction of the keep that now bears his name. Located at the confluence of the Blue Elwynn and the White Elwynn, the Kaiser could equally respond to the needs of Brookshire and Goldshire, the two halves of his new realm. He named it the Shire Keep, and it would serve as fortification against the northern tribes, the primary kaiserial residence, and seat of the government.

To build the Shire Keep, Raynor I needed engineers to design it, carpenters and stone masons to construct it, smiths, glaziers, and plumbers to furnish it, financiers to help pay for it, and laborers to provide the necessary muscle power. All of them were in need of food and shelter, as well as the luxuries of living in the shadow of a ruler. Once the central bureaucracy was established, it also needed a place so that it may serve the Kaiser. Thus, the capital was born. Roads were cut through the forests to integrate the Shire Keep and its two shires together for efficient governence, and now that the confluence of the Elwynn was under the Keep's command, it became safe for trade to cross through the interior of the continent, using the new roads as well as the many tributaries of the River Elwynn.

Villages sprung up around the periphery of the Shire Keep, supplying it with the food and material resources it needed to grow and thrive, and over time, as the city grew, villagers and merchants had more and more business with the city around the Shire Keep and not the Keep itself. Thus, the name "Shire Keep" or, increasingly, "Shirekeep", came to be applied to the city that surrounded the Keep rather than the Keep itself.

During this early era of Shirerithian history, many Kaisers operated for extended periods of time in the field, accomplishing the feats that have become the stuff of Shirerithian lore. Some Kaisers of the First Era were only present in the Keep for a single state function, the coronation. In their absence, a Constable of the Keep would be appointed for the management and maintenance of the Keep. The position included a number of profitable benefits and courtiers competed over the title whenever it became available. Once the frontier was pushed further northwestward and additional fortifications established in that direction, the military function of the Keep decreased, and Constables of the Keep skirted their original job purchase, allowing the Keep to deteriorate over time.

During the rule of the Line of Alexander, the outer villages were incorporated into the City of Shirekeep. By this point, a string of Constables of the Keep had fleeced so much funds for so long that the Keep had fallen to a severe state of disrepair. Leaking roofs allowed the wooden elements to rot away, and eventually collapsed in themselves. Less reputable businessmen in need of good stone would make even less reputable laborers to go steal stones from the Keep. The forecastle, which bore the entrance walkway, was deconstructed in this way. Instead of residing at this deteriorating structure, Kaiser Marcus I established a new palace, located in the space between the Old City and the newly-incorporated Northshire. This land consisted of water-logged wetland, farms, and grazeland. Few trees remained from the land's original, heavily-forested state.

This new palace, located on the eastern edge of this land, would eventually be demolished, but its site would eventually serve as the location of the modern Landsraad Building. This period of time also established the precedent of decentralizing the offices of the central government throughout different sections of the City of Shirekeep. The Keep lay quiet and cold.

The Keep's Design during the First Era

Raynor established his Shire Keep at the confluence of the Blue Elwynn and the White Elwynn. Cliffs of varying height follow the riverside, and at the point of the confluence, this rises up to a commanding hilltop. Here, the Keep was constructed, with a chemise wall that followed the contour of the hilltop. Small, wooden buildings occupied some of the space in the bailey of the Keep.

The Keep, not including its corner towers, bore a 36-meter by 36-meter square footprint, and rose to a height of 35 meters. It had three stories above the ground floor, which was used as a cellar. A supporting wall cut through the center of the Keep, from ground level to the battlement, dividing each story into two chambers. The first story contained the Entrance Hall, and space for the living and working of servants and the Keep's garrison. The second story contained the Banquet Hall and the Throne Room, where the Kaiser could preside over ceremonies, grant audiences, and bestow honors. The third story contained the Council Chamber, where the Kaiser met with officials of state, and Bedchambers. Above that, the Keep became solely military in function. A gallery was cut into the wall, with arrow slits facing outward in each direction. At the top of the Keep was the battlement, where a short wall afforded some protection to defenders, and the corner towers, at a higher elevation, served as fighting platforms.

The sole entrance to the Keep was on the first story. From here, a drawbridge could be lowered, connecting to an elevated walkway which extended through a forebuilding built in front of the Keep. Should an attacking force breach the chemise wall surrounding the Keep, they would need to swing around and approach this walkway under fire. At the forebuilding, a portcullis and a barred door prevented entry. Should this be breached, the drawbridge would be raised, forming a solid wooden barrier, behind which stood another portcullis and another barred door. Should an intruder somehow breach this and enter the Keep itself, the corner staircase nearest the entrance door does not open on the first story, forcing any intruder to cross the first story in order to make progress up the Keep.

On the outfacing sides of each corner tower were mounted large sculpture faces of despair, each taller than a full-grown man. Their symbolic significance has been lost to history, but appear to have ichthytic features. Each one contained a built-in series of tubes and chords, which funnelled wind and generated dissonant harmonic chords and amplified outward by the trumpet shape of the gaping mouth.

Second Era

The Keep's History during the Second Era

The Keep during the Second Era.

As the traditional account continues, we arrive at the reign of Kaiser Leto I, who is credited with rejuvenating Shireroth and thus marks the beginning of the Second Era. Under his reign, the old Keep, now long-abandoned, was rebuilt to serve as the imperial residence once more. In recognition of the one who built its first incarnation, it was officially named "Raynor's Keep". Leto's Keep, however, expanded far beyond the original stronghold. The old chemise wall, a short, stout wall that acts as a fighting platform and prevents siege engines from reaching the Keep, was replaced with a proper curtain wall. This new curtain wall, made of a dark grey stone of excellent quality, had five towers placed at its corners, and was built to accommodate a number of subsidiary structures to support the needs of the Keep in its function as royal residence, seat of government, and military fortification.

Considering the extent of all of this construction, it is doubtful that Kaiser Leto I lived to witness the completion of his Keep. The record does not bear attribute what was constructed during whose reign. Nothing remains of the subsidiary structures housed inside, as they were not protected by the First Incantation, and have long since been demolished to make space during the Third Era.

Once Raynor's Keep was restored to an inhabitable condition, Kaiser Leto I abandoned the Palace of the Alexanders. Instead, he gave that palace over to the Nobility of the Realm, so that they would have a place to meet and discuss issues of national importance. The Landsraad continues to meet in a building constructed on that same site to this day.

While the same stone was used in the restoration of the Keep as was used to construct the new curtain wall, Kaiser Leto I chose to have the Keep whitewashed, so that it would stand out against the rest of the fortress, gleaming from its hilltop. The whitewash had been maintained during his successors right up until the First Incantation was applied, preserving it in its gleaming white state for over two thousand years.

The First Incantation

One of the reasons why Raynor's Keep has survived in such a pristine state is because of two incidents of magical application to preserve it, called the First and Second Incantations.

The First Incantation was ordered by Kaiser Edwin I. These incantations were laid upon the primary defensive structures of Raynor's Keep: the Keep itself as well as its curtain wall and towers. While the exact nature of the First Incantation is unknown, it is assumed to be of the same nature as the Second Incantation: it increased the hardness of the stone beyond that of perfect diamond and made especially resistant to projectiles.

A side effect of the First Incantation is that it preserved Raynor's Keep in a pristine condition for approximately 2400 years, requiring no maintenance until the incantation began to subside during the early Third Era. The First Incantation also prevented changes to be made to these structures, as no tool existed that was powerful enough to reshape its stones.

The Keep's Design during the Second Era

The original Keep of Raynor I, heavily damaged by neglect during the latter half of the First Age, was used as a foundation to construct a new Keep. The walls were thickened and embellished with decorative buttresses. New corner towers were added, three round and one square. The Keep itself was whitewashed, allowing it to stand out sharply against the rest of the fortress, which had a charcoal appearance.

New floors and ceilings were constructed at roughly the same heights as before. The roof was made of a dull red slate, which was in abundant quantity in Shirekeep until modern construction methods decreased demand during the middle Third Era.

The Kaisers of the Second Era had a different sentiment towards living spaces than the First Era, and so the functions of chambers changed. Additionally, because part of the garrison was moved out of the Keep to a barracks, there was more space for courtly functions and comfortable living for the Kaiser and their family. The new corner towers also added available spaces. As before, a supporting cross wall divided each story into two chambers, which could be further subdivided into separate rooms.

The Basement Level remained in use as a cellar, though the southwest corner tower was used as a prison cell, complete with oubliette.

The First Story held the Entrance Hall in the larger chamber, and the smaller chamber was divided between a Kitchen and a Pantry. Corner towers afforded living and working spaces for servants.

The Second Story held the Great Hall in the larger chamber, complete with a raised dais for the Kaiser's Throne and governing council to receive subjects. The smaller chamber was used for regular meetings of the governing council or preparing food adjacent to the Great Hall during feasts. Corner towers afforded living and working spaces for servants, except for the southwest tower, which became known for its splendid public lavatory.

The Third Story held the Solar in the larger chamber (which proved difficult to keep warm in the winter), and the smaller chamber contained the wardrobe and bedchamber. The northwest tower contained a private study for the Kaiser, while the northeast tower contained a bower for the Kaiser's consort. The southwest and southeast towers contained bedchambers for the family.

A Gallery along the inside of the wall above the third story, providing storage and temporary accommodations for archers, as well as arrow slits for their use during battle. The corner towers acted as armories.

Atop the battlement, archers could make use of arrow slits in the merlons to fire upon attackers without exposing themselves to fire. Each corner tower was a story above the main battlement, and each corner tower possessed a spiral staircase that extended upward yet another story to act as a watch position.

Outer Defenses

The Keep had been sited at the high point of the hill, with sheer slopes on its northern and eastern faces to act as a natural barrier. As such, when Leto I ordered the construction of a curtain wall, it did not fully-enclose the Keep, but rather the immediate terrain to its south, which was further flattened out to ease internal movement. Outside the curtain wall, the hill slopes down more gently from there to the north and east, and more sharply to the south and west.

In addition, a bastion was added against the southern side of the Keep. It housed a drawbridge and an elevated fighting platform, should the curtain wall be breached. The packed earth was made level with the entrance doorway to the Keep.

The Main Gatehouse possessed an inner gate and an outer gate, surrounded by four towers and a courtyard in the center. Should the outer gate be breached, attackers would need to enter the courtyard before attacking the inner gate, harassed by plunging fire from all sides. It also limited attackers' abilities to make use of siege engines to force entry into the Bailey.

The southwest corner tower was built differently from the other towers of the curtain wall, a large rectangular tower with a circular forebuilding. This structure served multiple functions. The lower levels acted as a Postern Gatehouse, leading down a rough pathway to the River Elwynn below, where the Kaiser and his men could beach ships for transport into and out of Raynor's Keep. The upper levels of the tower served as the residence of the Steward during the Second and early Third Ages.

Inside the Bailey

The center of the Bailey provided open space to perform ceremonies, engage in military drills, and move between structures. Along the inside of the curtain wall, timbered and half-timbered buildings were constructed, housing subsidiary functions that served the needs of the Keep as an imperial residence, seat of government, and military fortress.

In the northeastern corner sat the Barracks. The military garrison at Raynor's Keep grew beyond the capacity of the first story of the Keep to permanently house them. It had its own dining hall, and included the northeast corner tower.

Along the eastern wall sat the forge and a series of workshops.

In the southeastern corner, built into the corner tower, was the Mint and Imperial Treasury.

Along the southern wall sat the stables, kennel, and hawk mews.

In the southwestern corner sat the Postern Gatehouse, which served as the residence of the Steward during the Second and early Third Ages.

Along the western wall sat a dovecote, granary, hog pen, and laundry. It is said that Kaiser Brrapa IV of Metzler declared swine to be a filthy animal unfit for noble consumption (preferring a diet of fresh game and fowl), and had the hog pen converted for coprophagic disposal of human and animal waste. The latrines in the southwest corner of the Keep became preferred due to its proximity to the hog pen for easy transportation.

In the northwestern corner, vegetables were grown. For a time, the open space west of the Keep was used for shambles.

Third Era

History of Raynor's Keep in the Third Era

Current Status

Structures within Raynor's Keep

Imperial Apartments

The Imperial Apartments began as the Outer Harem, constructed by Kaiser Aurangzeb in order to accommodate concubines of lesser rank. Mostly unused (other than for storage) until the Cabbage Crisis, when it became a barracks for elements of the Apollonian Guard stationed at the Keep.

Reconstructed as a luxury residence during the reign of Kaiser Aiomide to provide housing for the candidates to produce successors for the new Line of Octavius. Thereafter, it has been used variously to house visiting dignitaries and heads of state, relatives and paramours of the reigning kaiser, and so forth. It has also been renovated and expanded under Kaiser Mo'll, Kaiser Ayreon III, and Kaiseress Noor.

It is located in the Outer Keep, built against the west-northwestern face of the hill upon which the Inner Keep sits.

Treasury of Fish

The Treasury of Fish is a repository for numerous items of historical importance to Shireroth. It is located in the Outer Keep, near the Blue Elwynn sea wall.

The treasury was founded by Kaiser Fish XII as the Treasury of Fish XII, but the regnal number was stolen from the sign during the chaos at the end of the reign of Kaiser Ayreon II. Following the Cabbage Crisis, it officially received its modern name.

Current Contents:


Quarters and districts of Shirekeep

City Centre: Audente Quarter - Boreal Quarter - Commercial District - The Hub - Landsraad District - Metzlershire - Northshire - The Old City - Raynor's Keep - The Rim - Soloralist Quarter - Treesian Quarter - Yardistani Quarter - Outskirts: Caeol’s Village - Docklands - Foreign Quarters - Halluci Shire - Little Holwinn - Loki’s Line - Timothy’s Cliff - Westshire