Stoneseer: The Red Tower
Magda escaped the court and walked feverishly down the huge hallways of Castle Leueysianna. She let the cool air calm her temper. She knew she would pay for her exit later, as her father would reprimand her for her rudeness, but for now she would enjoy this small time of freedom. She slowed her travel along the vast hallways of the castle that she loved, letting her fingertips trail along the old walls as she negotiated her way to the ancient kitchen. Ome greeted Magda with a smile and nod toward the food, as she was entirely too busy and preoccupied to take time to give personal attention. Magda did not mind, as it was one of the qualities she loved in Ome.
Ome was a large woman. Her capable hands were on her ample hips, which meant she was angry. Her substantial breasts heaved as she commanded her army of cooks and servants. She yelled, waved her arms, grabbed food, placed it on trays, smacked lazy servants and praised energetic ones. Her long brown hair was wound into a haphazard bun from which wispy strays escaped. Her brown eyes blazed and calmed as the need arose, but Ome was fair. Those who worked under her received what they deserved or earned. Magda did not disturb Ome, and she served herself from the large array of delectable foods laid out in the kitchen.
Magda chose freshly baked bread in small round loaves with cinnamon and raisins, butter and cheese in small wedges, several pieces of fresh fruit, and finally a pitcher of water. Magda escaped the kitchen and headed toward her room, which was at the top of the castle. As she passed each window, the dark night drew her attention. The velvet black was generously strewn with sparkling stars. Her country was certainly beautiful this evening, she thought. Why would the Bordokian think they needed jewels when the stars in Suntorna shined down in unparalleled beauty on her legendary country.
Dragons, thought Magda as she drew the night air in through her nostrils. She hoped they were not beasts which survived only as stories told to children as incentive to obey their parents. Now the subject of dragons was often as the object of fear and the subject of nightmares. Magda’s lonely heart longed for the romantic tales of old. She knew those times possibly never occurred, but she loved the old stories. There was always some truth in legend…or so she felt and hoped.
According to the legends and stories, the vastness of the halls and rooms were necessary for the use by dragons, even if the legends were supposedly untrue, the design of the castle was certainly unique. Lueysianna‘s distinctive design attended to the needs of the many inhabitants and visitors. There was not another castle, which had the machinations and innovations of Lueysianna. If the stories were true that the dragons were large in size, then they must have been intelligent of mind as well.
Lueysianna overlooked the kingdom on a rise at the elbow of the river Se, which in the old tongue meant “heart”. An enormous rock outcropping divided the river just before it circled around the castle. The two branches of the river each traversed an opposite side of the castle, and rejoined after passing. The river’s route created a natural oval shaped moat and the moat made accessibility almost impossible to outsiders. The outer wall of the castle was in five concave sections with each section meeting the next at a point, which was at the bank of the upper or lower river. Large wooden gates, one at each of the five points of the outer wall, were let down to allow travelers to cross the river and enter the courtyard. Guards manned the mechanics of the portcullis and stood watch at each point of the joining sections, so they could see down the length of both adjoining walls without obstruction, which the concave design allowed. The sections met and touched the river at five points, three on the northern side and two on the southern. From a bird’s eye view, the river looked like a dragon’s eye, as the courtyard walls created the iris. The castle, constructed of grey-black stone, looked as if it comprised the pupil of the eye.
The castle was a sprawling edifice with different heights, levels, and towers. The tallest tower on the east side, in which Magda and her mother’s living quarters were housed, was in the old part of the castle. The Red Tower, named for reasons unknown was a solitary residence, and no one ventured to the tower unless blackmailed. It was rumored to be haunted…a rumor furthered by Magda to keep people from snooping, she thought smiling. It was also extremely tall and required a long climb to attain the top, but from the top the scenery was amazing. The unobstructed view of the river, plain, and forested mountains was a favorite of Magda’s.
Dorgan surreptitiously watched as Magda leaned out the window of the hallway. He saw her smile, and could tell her mind was deep in thought. He wondered why she had taken offense at his question, but he also followed her from interest. He wanted to find common ground to engender her to trust him. That would require observation, and to Dorgan the opportunity was a pleasant one.
Magda looked out the window and saw the Se river, and knew it originated from an opening in the mountain that loomed on the horizon, and that by the time the water traveled down the mountain picking up speed, it was a swift and churning river. The water was clear and sustained the entire region, and although Suntorna experienced the passing of seasons, the river did not freeze in the winter. If the water were ever to freeze into a solid expanse, enemies could utilize it to get close and attack the castle, but that had never happened. The temperature changes were beneficial for the castle’s inhabitants, because the water was cleverly routed throughout the castle. By an ingenious system, the water made its way through the kitchens, springing forth from a huge round fountain which provided water utilized for food preparation or cleaning; traversing through the stables so the horses had a ready supply of clear water in stone troughs which never emptied, nor overflowed; and supplying the bathing rooms. There were bathing rooms strategically placed throughout the castle and each one contained a gradually deepening stone pit with an entrance and exit for the water. As a person cleansed, the old water washed away and continually replenished with new. In the winter, the water was comfortably warm, and in the summer, the water was often refreshingly cold. The most unusual feature was the fall rooms, which were lofty rooms from which the water fell from an opening in the roof and exited through a drain in the floor. The water flowed continuously in these rooms, and a person could stand under the waterfall while bathing. The overly tall height of the fall rooms reinforced Magda’s belief that their construction was originally to accommodate dragons.
Magda gathered her things from the window ledge and continued toward her room. She passed several fall rooms on the way and Magda preferred the fall rooms, when unoccupied. Public bathing was common in the castle and even though it was a common practice, she did not like to bathe in a room with other people present. The bathing facility in her tower room was one reason why Magda begged for the use of her quarters. Magda’s room was at the top of the Red tower and her mother’s room was located directly below. Magda counted the steps as she climbed. At the top of the tower, there was a large circular room and an adjoining fall room. It was certainly a mystery how the water climbed to the top of the tower, fell in the fall room and passed through the ornately carved drain in the floor, but it was also a wonderful convenience for Magda. Magda’s tower room was a beautiful refuge, because it was distant from the rest of the castle.
Magda loved the round and spacious room, because it was at the top of the winding steps, and gloriously carved in dragons. There were dragons around the fireplace, around the windows, and on the ceiling. There were small, large, old and even baby dragons. The border of the floor of the room was etched in dragons, and the carvings of the room held intricate detail. The room was also constructed on the same overly large scale as the rest of the castle, and with little imagination Magda could believe a dragon lived there in the past. The beauty of the room was truly remarkable, but for Magda the privacy was the most beneficial attribute. The stone of the castle was dark which made Magda’s room peacefully pleasing.
Dorgan stealthily followed Magda to the top of the tower. He chuckled to himself as he descended the steps. The Suntornan people mistakenly told stories that the large scale of the rooms was to accommodate the dragons’ size, but in reality the tower where Magda slept was the resting place of the original Watcher of Suntorna! Magda did not know about the history of her sleeping place, but Dorgan doubted it would cause such a romantic minded woman to appreciate the room any more.
In a previous visit, Dorgan had inspected the room for clues to help him solve a riddle that his King had commissioned him. He knew that in the evening when the great stone fireplace lit the room with flickering light, the dragon carvings seemed to move on their own. He thought the room rather beautiful and appealing, but he knew that the people of Suntorna though the room haunted. Dorgan would return to the room to continue his search, but for now he needed to talk to the other men of his party.