Newcastle

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Newcastle, a transcription into the common language of the Lalange Château de Nuit (Castle of the Night), refers both to the large and unusual castle that is the baronial seat of the Barons of Newcourt and also to the village at the foot of the castle's hill, on the banks of the Newer (Lalange: Noir) river.

The village is a unremarkable, home to some 600 people. Some of the villagers work during the day at the castle but live in the village, and others work in the Amber mine. About 2/3rds of the villagers are Domari or part-Domari, and many speak that language in preference to Lalange or Common, and keep old rites and customs.

The castle, atop a steep-sided hill, is a sprawling edifice with many towers and wings in a wide range of architectural styles obviously built over a considerable period. The oldest visible parts date to the early days of the Old Western Kingdom, and there are known to be much older parts of the castle.

History

Newcastle hill has been the site of the baronial seat since the earliest days of Newcourt, and before that was the residence of the elven regional governor during the time of the elven protectorate. Newcastle hill offers a naturally defensible raised location overlooking the surrounding lower areas and the Newer (Lalange: Noir) river, and there are records of continuous fortifications on the site, including those of several warlords in the years between the fall of Panjari and the elves occupying the area.

The many areas of fortification on Newcastle date from a range of historical periods although most of the current castle dates from around 1000 AP to the present. The Great Tower and hall was built between 1000 and 1100 AP, and subsequent additions date through the Old Kingdom and into the Interregnum. The current constructions are largely built on older ruins -- the foundations of Newcastle are mostly older fortifications.

Some parts of the castle date back further. There are parts of the Great Tower that show evidence of elven decorations and probably formed part of the elven govenor's residence (which is known to have been built by humans from local materials but to have had an elven design). Going even earlier the remains of a pre-protectorate bailey have also been unearthed.

People

Note: All dates and years are given in the Western reckoning. Where ages are given they are usually relative to the happenings of the Mystery of the Missing Suitor (pdf).

Subsequent Adventures in Newcourt/Newcastle area White Wedding (pdf).

Baron's Family

Hugh D'Amberville
Baron of Newcourt, b. ~745. Formerly active and energetic, now somewhat older than his years (due in part to long term poisoning, which though neutralised has left its mark). Moderately intelligent, fairly wise in the ways of politics (Foxcourt politics being somewhat Machiavellian), weakness for pretty women. Suspicion that he may have arranged the death of his older brother Robert (many years ago) in order to become Baron.
Marguerite D'Amberville
(née Fortbrass), b. ~765. Baroness Newcourt, second wife of Hugh. Family are closely related to the Marquessa de Bowcourt, and like many of the Bowcourt women of noble birth Marguerite looks younger than her years (appearing about 30 while actually 40).
Justine D'Amberville
b. 786, eldest daughter of Hugh & Marguerite, and heir to Newcourt. Blessed by her Aunt Justine with beauty and grace. Was under some form of blessing/curse of innocence; now lifted. Engaged (as at 804 WK) to Henri de Malvallet, son and heir of the Baron of Faircourt.
Alys D'Amberville
b 788, second child of Hugh & Marguerite. Highly intelligent and magically talented (partially due to a blessing from her Aunt Justine). Currently (as at 804 WK) studying magic in Bowcourt.
François D'Amberville
b. 791, youngest child and only son of Hugh & Marguerite. Impressivley active, energetic and resilient (partially due to a blessing from his Aunt Justine).
Ysabeau D'Amberville
(née de l'Isle), b. ~750 d. ~770. First wife of Hugh. Died giving birth to son, Victor.
Victor D'Amberville
b. ~770, d. (?) Yule 804. Only child of Hugh & Ysabeau, and heir to Newcourt until Hugh's marriage to Marguerite and adoption of Bowcourt inheritance laws (as part of marriage arrangement). Estranged since ~785. Tutored in part by his Aunt Justine. Adept of the College of Dark Bindings. Attempted coup in Newcourt at Yule 804, including sacrifice of his half sister Justine to dark powers. Attempt foiled by Guild party, magical backlash from ritual caused nightmarish follow on events during which Victor was defeated and handed over to the Lord of a pocket dimension where he is apparently kept in some form of mystical containment device. His original body was never found however, as during the event of Yule 804 he was possessing the body of Bernard de Felius, his half siblings' tutor.
(Aunt) Justine
Justine D'Amberville (senior), b. ~740, d. Winter 798, reappeared Autumn 806. Aunt of Hugh - but appears to be about his age. Believed to have been a Greater Summoner. Died (twice) during encounter with Guild Party in the Ffenargh swamp. Details available in the Guild library: Overdue Library Books (pdf). Believed dead until she reappeared in the Autumn of 806 in time for her niece's wedding (see White Wedding scribe notes). There is some evidence that she is now inhabiting a new body (possibly previously owned by her nephew Victor D'Amberville), and appears to be accompanied by three servants of demonic origin. It is also suspected that she is older than recorded, perhaps over 500 years old. If correct this raises questions as to her identity, and may suggest that the Baron's sister's body was merely her most recent host prior to her current one.

Notable People of the Court

Jubert
Baron's chamberlain, b. ~750. Tall, thin, and spry.
Godefroy
Baron's valet, b. ~755. A former squire of Hugh's, Godefroy is deeply dedicated to the Baron.
Giles de la Hay
Captain of the Baron's guard. Former Michaeline Knight. Fought at the Siege of Drakenberg. Personally leads the Baron's bodyguards a group of well equipped, dangerous veterans.
Agnes
Head lady-in-waiting and confidante of the Baroness, b. ~760. Originally from Bowcourt.
Collette du Bois
Justine's companion/lady-in-waiting, b. ~780. Collette is of gentle (but poor) birth in Newcourt. Intelligent and sensible, with a considerable knowledge of the politics and economics of the areas.
Venerable Thibaut
Aged court physicker, b. ~725, (was member of the court of the Baron's father). Frail, doddery, and forgetful. Was a Healer once, but has forgotten nearly all his training.
Mme. d'Apremont
(Denisette d'Apremont), b. ~755, stern and dour governess of François, and previously of Alys and Justine.
Bernard de Felius
b. ~750, d. 803. Tutor of François and Alys, killed by Victor D'Amberville, who then took his place at the court disguised as Bernard.
Jean Rossignol
b. ~784, talented, romantic and handsome minstrel (and Bardic mage). Former court entertainer, and would-be suitor of Justine. Believed to be of noble birth but estranged from family. Has now (as at 804 WK) left the court to accompany Alys (at her request) to Bowcourt.
Gobert le Gros
Head cook.
Quarters for Dramus and Broc
Chaplain
Father Broc (from Winter 805). Former Chaplain was Father Jacques (Jacques Duval) b. ~760, d. Yule 804. Discovered to be in league with Victor, and a servant of dark powers. Attempted to sacrifice Justine. Slain by Guild party.
Court Mage
Dramus (from Winter 805). Previous holder of the office was Magister Simon Dufay, a Mind Mage, who was executed in 798 for his murder of the Bishop of Newcourt.
Gilbert
A merchant of Newcourt; he is in charge of the Baron's Amber mining operation. [Not common knowledge] He is the Baroness’s lover and a subtle power in the court.

Places of Interest and Things of Note

Amber
Mined out of Newcastle hill, amber is the name given to a crystalline substance, normally a pale yellow in colour, that appears to be trapped or fossilised mana. Amber may be used to power spells and also has applications in alchemy and shaping. The best quality amber is very pale in colour (close to transparent) with lower grades being progessively darker. There is also rumoured to be black amber that has properties similar to Warpstone. The Amber lends itself to several names in the area including that of the Baron's family D'Amberville (trans: Amber Farm), and appears in the Newcourt arms. Amber is also known as "elf-stones" and by the local Domari -- some of whom work to mine the substance -- as "Bengdandi" (Cmn. "demon's teeth"). Appears to be created by devices in rooms beneath the white tower and are the by-product of magical energy being created and then not used and pumped into the rock to remove excess energy from the system.
Black Stair
A thirty foot section of glassy black spiral staircase fully enclosed in one of the older towers. The Black Stair goes from the floor of the tower to nowhere in particular(ending a few feet below an upper floor of the tower), with the top stairs appearing melted as though by great heat. The staircase is made of the elven silima, a crystalline substance of great durability, and dates to a time before the Elven civil war.
Chapter House
One of the buildings that forms part of the castle was once a Michaeline chapter house, that of the "Knights of the Dragon of Michael". The chapter fell into disrepute with the Michaeline Order several hundred years ago and was declared heretical, and destroyed. The cause of this is unrevealed, though there are suggestions that the chapter's focus may have strayed from Michael to some other entity. The Western wing of the chapter house building is now home to the Baron's new chaplain Father Broc, and the desecrated chapel has been reconsecrated. The Eastern Wing houses the Baron's Magical Advisor Dramus and his retinue.
Ghosts
Newcastle is well known to be home to several ghosts, and the whole area of the castle appears to have significant spectral activity. As reported by a Guild member who died in the area, hundreds of spectral entities were visible, apparently circling in currents that emanated from the White Tower (which to his spectral vision at the time looked jet black).
Holly Bush
Near the White Tower, surrounded by a low fence is a gnarled and stunted Holly Bush. This is magical in nature and appears to be connected in someway to a specific individual.
Place of Power
The top of Newcastle hill has been identified as a Place of Power for Entities magic and mages. The area is also often High Mana, but not always so, and occasionally even Low Mana. The cause of this shiftting mana level is not known, but appears to occur in a circular area beginning a few feet from the outside of the White Tower and then extending for several hundred feet.
Tunnels
A series of tunnels has been located running beneath the hill to the east of the dowager tower. A number of workrooms and connecting passageways have been found but as yet not investigated. An unusual form of undead, (GTN: Flayed), have been detected within the tunnels. Currently suspected entrances are on the side of the hill, in the old ossuary (Broc's new Library), and potentially one within the White Tower.
Water Pipes
Water flows through the castle in a series of underground pipes. Predoninatly these lead to rooms within the Great Tower, but most of the other buildings will have a single pipe for access to water. This water appears to come from a tank at the top of the great tower and water is provided to it by magic. Current theories suspect it involves portal magics from a magical source of water below the Great Tower.
White Tower
(also known as the Tower Blanc). A large octagonal tower apparently constructed using necromantic bone construction magic and dating to around 1,000 years pre-Panjari. The White Tower features in the arms of Newcourt. Taller than any other part of Newcastle's buildings the tower is sited behind the Great Tower and overlooks a sheer drop to the Newer River. A narrow walkway some 30 feet below the level of the White Tower's roof connects it to the Great Tower, and is notable in that there is no door or other entrance on the White Tower side. Rumour has it that there was a doorway when the walkway was constructed, but that it subsequently disappeared. A precarious ladder leads from the walkway to the flat roof of the White Tower where there are eight very large gargoyles facing out from the vertices, and no walls or handrails. Also on the roof are two circles, each some twenty feet across that appear inlaid in the surface of the tower. The two bear X's of some form of metallic ribbon with large elven seals in their centres. The seals are magical and date to around -200 WK / 1000 AP.