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being a brief description of the demesne of Duke Queequeg
by Jeff Hartke


The Castle in the City

Looking to establish a seat of government as well as a personal residence, Duke Queequeg the Wise ordered the construction of numerous buildings along the banks of the River Angrul. For reasons best known to himself, the Duke dubbed the result "Castle Surlamar" though it seems very unlike a military outpost. Many have noted a resemblance to the campuses of the great Colleges of Magic, with its many specialized buildings separated by green and verdant gardens.

In keeping with its function the castle is divided into two sections. The workplaces of administrators, the Hall of the Grand Council, residences for important traveling notables and the other needs of government are located on the east bank of the Angrul, at the end of the Grand Processional Way. Queequeg's private residence, including the homes of his wives and children, is located on a large river island about a hundred yards from the east bank, to which it is connected by a high-arched bridge.

Architecturally, the Castle has an open, airy feel to it, with large substantial buildings separated by wide lawns, flower gardens, and statuary. Soaring arches, bright colors and exotic construction materials add to its almost otherworldly appeal, and make it a definite contrast to the workaday world that defines the rest of the City of Freeport.

East Bank

Grand Processional Way

If this is not the longest street in Freeport, it is certainly the widest - a whopping 10 yards wide all along its way. The Grand Processional Way links the Temple District to Castle Surlamar, and serves as the main artery through the quarters of the wealthy, the priests and the bureaucrats. Unlike most streets, the Way is actually paved with cobblestones, adding to its attractiveness and another reason why the rich prefer to use it in preference to other, dustier streets.

The Grand Processional received its name from one of the great rituals of the town, the Marriage of the Angrul. With great pomp and ceremony the Duke and other notables, accompanied by most of the town, march from the Temple of Erinhoru to the banks of the Angrul, bearing a wedding ring. After an appropriate ceremony, the ring is tossed into the river, signifying and renewing the bond between the city and its river, and officially beginning the riotous Festival of Ringkol.

Government District - Overview

The grounds of the castle are delineated by a high residential wall, which surrounds the Government District on three sides, the fourth being the river. Elegantly faced with sandstone, the salmon colored walls serve to screen off the campus from the bustle of the city. Most people enter through the Duke's Arch, a large gated entrance on the Grand Processional Way, but there are four smaller archways, two each on the north and south, for pedestrian traffic. Travelers preferring water transport can take advantage of the small dock in the quarter's northeast, or tie up their craft to one of the many posts sunk along the bank for just that purpose.

The most prominent feature of the District is the Hall of the Grand Council, an imposingly square structure of marble standing atop a high foundation of dressed stone, in the style usually reserved for temples. The foundation resembles the lowest 50 feet of a pyramid, and the Hall stands in its center, a large stairway leading up to it. The Duke has ordered that no structure in the city stand higher than the top step leading to the Hall, effectively limiting city structures to no more than four stories.

Also present is the Hall of Scribes, which houses most of the functional aspects of government: census, customs and duties, banns and devoirs, etc. Lastly, several comfortable residences have been set aside for visiting dignitaries.

Hall of the Grand Council

Imagine a grand pyramid stretching high into the air, its equilateral sides meeting at a single point 500 feet in the air. Now imagine that a giant scythe comes down and slices the top off so that it now stands only 50 feet high - this is the foundation base on which the Hall of the Grand Council stands. The Hall itself fills about a quarter of the base it sits upon, the remainder being a courtyard. A wide staircase leads up to its imposing doors, and in each corner of the palisade a tall column stands, each column topped by a statue of an imposing creature of good alignment.

The Hall itself is in keeping with its monumental status - it is both imposingly large and ornate, its massive pillars of marble carved in what will become known as the Coranthian style. As a symbol of the importance of the collaborative manner of rule the Duke has chosen, no building within the borders of Freeport may stand higher than the top step leading into the Hall. Thus the highest and symbolically most important building is that of the government.

There are two functions carried out within the Hall - meetings of the Grand Council, and that of the Magisters. The Grand Council is an advisory body to the Duke made up of priests, merchants, and guildsmen - such that all the town's important groups are represented in some manner. Many members of the Grand Council also serve as Magisters, which have a judicial function. Magisters form a pool of important personages who can form panels that issue binding judgments on civil matters, and serve as juries during trials of the nobility.

Hall of Scribes

What government can survive without the meticulous keeping of notes, scrolls and ledgers regarding the business of its citizens? Freeport is no different, and these are gathered and maintained in the Hall of Scribes.

One of the largest concerns is the Office of the Censor, which is charged with recording the names and locations of every citizen of Freeport as they are born or immigrate in. The Censor is also responsible for collecting the Soul Tax of 1 silver per adult per year. Since the families of those who have died or emigrated outside the Canton are still considered responsible if they are on the rolls, the public usually is prompt to report any such changes to the Censor.

Here also is the Customs House, where caravans and ships pay their taxes, and where the Merchant Houses enroll their members. Freeport draws on the expertise of the Merchant Houses to provide many of the experts needed to run the more complex financial bookkeeping. As a form of tax, Freeport requires that each Merchant House provide the services of one journeyman per year at no charge to the city. While its assumed that the journeymen will be using their unique position to gain commercial advantage for their respective Houses, the fact that all of them donate one and only one journeyman keeps things level.

Hall of Ambassadors

The city maintains a small estate and two large houses that it provides to ambassadors and other distinguished visitors. Cooks, maids and other servants are also provided, as well as guards to supplement any contingent with which the visitors traveled.

Mosaic Pavilion and Statuary Garden

The Duke commanded the city to create a splendid park inside the Castle, and spared no expense to fill it with the finest examples of public art. In keeping with the times and the nature of its patron, most of the artists chose themes drawn from the War of the Gem.

Perhaps the most well-known, and certainly the most spectacular, is a huge mosaic depicting a scene from the Great Council of the War of the Gem, where Bahamut, the King of Dragons, offers his help. Although the Duke noted that the artist took considerable liberties with history (for some reason Morg is waving his sword, and a giant rune appears above Lancre's head inexplicably) he charitably agreed that the spirit was identical to that of the Council.

Other monumental works include depictions of the last conversation of Gods to men, with Meredros, Vastalla and Flupnir speaking to the Heroes of the Gem, and the assault on the curtain wall int he West Mountains. Again, history seems to have suffered at the expense of grandeur and glory in the latter work. Queequeg - who was not present at the assault - is shown tossing a harpoon towards a beholder's central eye, for example.

The park is shaded and pleasant and open to all citizens of the city during the daylight hours. It, like all of Castle Surlamar, is off-limits from dusk until dawn.

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