Newcourt Tower Investigations
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- a large octagonal tower seemingly made of polished white stone and measuring approximately 120 feet high and 100 feet wide.
- taller than any other part of Newcastle's buildings.
- sited behind the Great Tower, overlooking 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 roof of the Great Tower.
- the walkway has no visible support at the White Tower end.
- there is no door or other entrance on the White Tower at the end of the walkway, but historical documentation suggests that there was a doorway when the walkway was constructed, but that it disappeared subsequent to the investigation involving Gervais, the "Mad Baron" (see historical notes).
- a ladder leads from the walkway to the flat roof of the White Tower.
- the roof of the tower is flat with no walls or handrails.
- the roof is occupied by eight very large gargoyles (12 feet tall if standing) facing out from the vertices.
- also on the roof are two circles, each some twenty feet across that appear inlaid in the surface of the tower.
- though to be capped and closed access points into the tower.
- the two bear X's of some form of metallic ribbon with large elven seals in their centres.
- the tower is apparently constructed using a form of necromantic bone construction magic.
- the walls appear seamless but have some sort of veins running through them.
- although visually seamless, magical observations suggest that each 10 feet of tower height was created separately.
- magical auras indicate a construction date of around 1,000 years pre-Panjari.
- other magics enhancing the bone construction are hardening, strengthening, durability, and permanency, and the tower is strongly protected against magical attacks.
- the tower is also enchanted to prevent access via astral, aethereal, or spectral means, or by portal magics.
- the gargoyles are the product of "Dark Bindings" an entities college that seems to specialise in using souls/spirits to animate objects.
- the gargoyles all appear similar in manufacture but each has slightly different physical characteristics suggesting elemental alignments. The elements are Light, Dark, Life, Death, Earth, Air, Fire & Water
- the gargoyles are inert but magical, awaiting the correct activation.
- the two seals on the roof are also magical (some form of warding / alarm magic) and date to around -200 WK.
- there was also concern that breaking the seals may activate the gargoyles.
- no apparent use in recent years
- although the White Tower is the official residence of the Court Mage there is no evidence that the previous mage, Simon Dufay, ever had access to the tower
- during the Case of the Missing Suitor undead were detected below ground level in the area of the tower but it has never been determined whether these were actually in the tower.
- last recorded access to the tower was in 397 WK (see The Mad Baron).
- during the elven protectorate the tower was used by the White Lodge, a society of elven and human mages.
- first occupied during the protectorate around 250-300 AP.
- the Lodge quit the tower suddenly around 1000 AP, which corresponds to the dates when the elves were leaving the Bowcourt "march" area.
- one source (from Bowcourt) suggests that some form of "disaster" befell the Lodge, but no specifics are given.
- the seals on the top of the tower date to this vacation.
- Alfheim records are unhelpful and Father Broc gained the feeling that some records may be missing.
- records are only fragmentary
- Newcastle hill appears to have been site of a College of Magic comprising a number of buildings including the White Tower (the only remaining structure form that time).
- one transation of the name of the college has survived as The Noble Order of the Veiled Way.
- order occupied the area from around 1500 BP to around time of Panjari.
- college appears to have been concerned with those magics grouped by philosophers as the Entities colleges.
- some evidence suggests that towards the time of Panjari work was being done at the College on the integration or combination of the various Entities colleges.
- one mage apparently nvolved with this work and associated with the College was Carroc.
- little known from ancient past.
- existence of Black Stair strongly suggests ancient elven presence at some time and damage probably indicates destruction in the War of Tears, however circumstantial evidence suggests that whatever was present was not a city or very high profile by that time, as one reason that nearby D'arbres was chosen for a great work in those days was its isolation and distance for any major settlements.
- only two fragmentary primary elven references have been located:
- one mentions a place or building named Morgarat, which mostly likely translates as "Black Tower", or "Dark Fortress", though it could also be translated as "Stands across/athwart the darkness".
- the other uses the term Sérëfëa, which has usually been translated as "restful in spirit", or the more poetic "heart's ease", and taken to mean some form of spiritual or meditative resting place, resort, or even health-spa, though one radical elven writer of several centuries ago argued that the original had been mis-transcribed at some point from Sírëfëa and should be rendered as "the flowing of spirits" or "river of souls".
- in neither case does the record give mention of the areas purpose, inhabitants or other useful information.
(Compiled from direct observations of previous Guild party in area, along with magical reference resources consulted by Dramus.)
Newcastle hill exhibits several distinct magical oddities: a multi-college place of power, a fluctuating mana zone, the crystalline substance known as Amber, and abnormally high spirit activity.
Place of Power
An area centered on the White Tower and extending for some 350 feet is a Place of Power for some or all of the Entities colleges; an area where mages from those colleges find it easier to cast magic, and their magics are sometimes more potent. Direct observation by Guild members has confirmed its effect for Necromancers and Rune Mages, and documentary evidence attests to its beneficial effects for Wicca. There is no hard evidence for it providing a bonus for Greater Summoners, but this is beleived to have been the college of Aunt Justine -- the Baron's late aunt (not sister as has been suggested before).
In addition to Entities mages the Place of Power appears to offer reduced but detectable benefits to members of the College of Binding and Animating Magics, despite this being a Thaumaturgical college. There is evidence that similar but Entities based magics were once performed in the area under the name Dark Bindings.
The Entities nature of the aera, taken in conjunction with the high spirit activity, suggests that the Place of Power may represent a shallowing or thinning between the material world and some form of afterlife. The events experienced during the Mystery of the Missing Suitor, with deceased persons being summoned back to animate golems, and co-inhabit living bodies, tend to support this reasoning, but the other extra-planar events also suggest that the shallowing may allow access to other material planes.
Places of Power for Colleges other than the Elementals are rare at best, and multi-college places are rarer still. Some few bi-colleged Elemental places are known, but there is little source material for any full branch Places of Power. With so few references it is hard to be definite about the nature of the Newcastle area; current information suggests that it could be natural, and that is is certainly unusual.
The mana level over most of Newcastle hill is detectably above normal, though not quite sufficient to qualify as high mana. This is almost unremarkable, given the unusual place of power, (if anything a high mana area would be more expected), except for an area extending about 150 feet out from the surface of the White Tower where there is an unusual fluctuating mana zone.
The first 10 feet or so around the tower are not part of this changing zone -- there the mana is the same as for the rest of the hill -- but from 10 feet to about 150 feet out the mana levels in the area alter from low to normal to high in a complex pattern across a number of minutes.
Fluctuating mana levels are not unknown -- there are areas where the mana strength changes with the phases of the moon or with the seasons -- but a change over only minutes along with the clearly delineated area of effect strongly suggests a cause that is not wholly natural.
Research has so far not revealed the source of the fluctuations, and there have been insufficient practical experiments made to ascertain the exact pattern of the changes.
The magical substance known locally as Amber is mined directly out of Newcastle hill. While there are other substances with similar mana-storage ability, none seem to share the exact properties of Newcourt Amber making it a unique substance.
Historical records show that small but regular quantities have been exported from Newcourt and sold throughout Western Alusia for at least several hundred years. Older records indicate that the substance was known in the time of the elven protectorate (when it was called Eldassar [Cmn. Elf-stone]), in pre-Panjari times under the names Starstone and the elven Tumnalaurë [Cmn. Deep-gold / Golden Secret]. Accounts of strange stones (sometimes called demon-stones or elf-shot) can be found even earlier, and would appear to significantly pre-date the White Tower. Finally, the fragment of ancient elven material that references Morgorat also mentions Oningolë, a term that traslates as Stone of Deep-lore, or crudely: "magic rocks".
Newcastle is host to a large number of spirit entities, although no more haunted than can be expected for a castle of its age. While these many other spirits have no corporeal or even visual form they are easily detectable by those who are sensitive to the spirit world, such as when conversing with the dead. Of the few who have been verifiably observed all once lived in the castle and environs and most probably also died in the area. A guild member who gained first hand experience of the spirit-world at Newcastle (by being dead at the time) reported that there was some form of circular "current", (something like a leisurely whirlwind), perceptable to the dead and apparently centered on the White Tower. The tower itself appeared to his spirit's sight as even larger and pitch black.
The Mad Baron
(Compiled from a number of sources in Newcourt and Bowcourt)
In the fall of 397, during the reign of King Albert Wencelas, the then Baron of Newcourt, one Eudes D'Avide, organized an expedition to enter the White Tower of Newcastle. The group was composed of a number of eminent mages including the Baron's own eldest son Gervais, said to have been a mentalist of considerable skill.
Sources are unclear as to whether the walkway between the Great Tower and the White Tower was built specifically for this expedition -- though its construction does appear to date to around this time -- but do confirm that there was a doorway visible in the side of the White Tower at the point where the walkway meets it. The doorway appeared as some form of ornate doorframe carved or etched into the wall of the tower, with only a blank area of wall where the opening would have been.
Surviving records claim that the group entered the tower through this doorway by use of some poorly described form of portal magic. They subsequently disappeared and the doorway faded from the Tower's wall, leaving no trace of its passing. When the group, and the doorway, failed to reappear Baron Eudes summoned assistance from the royal court, but "no trace of the group could be found, nor any devices or magics of scrying penetrate the walls, and the persons who had vanished therein were lost even from the knowledge of the stars".
Over two months later Gervais was found wandering in the Great Tower, quite mad. His clothes were but rags though he appeared to be as healthy as the day he left. In lucid moments he could recall who he was, though never how he came to leave the Tower, nor what he had seen therein. At other times he would rave and howl and had to be restrained to prevent harm to himself and others. After some months had passed and with his condition unchanged Baron Eudes had his son regretfully committed to the care of a sanitorium in Mittelmarkhauptstadt.
When Eudes died in 413 WK the title of Baron passed to Gervais -- still confined to the madhouse -- but Eudes's second son Alard petitioned King Eirikir Bloodaxe to have his brother put aside as Baron due to his incurable madness and after some deliberation the king agreed. Whether Gervais was ever actually Baron is a matter of some dispute amongst heralds, but either way he is remembered in local history as the Mad Baron.
Footnote: Father Broc's research in the Newcourt records shows that an annual fee is still being paid to the MMHS Royal Hospital for the "upkeep and care" of one Gervais D'Avide. The amount is not large, and it was among other regular (and unexceptional) payments to widows and pensioners, and he would probably not have noticed it save for the similarity of name and the mention of MMHS.
NOTE: Details from Within and Without to be added