Saturday, 2 June 2018

The Monastery on the Sword: Part Two

The Monastery itself is built on a hill. A fast-flowing stream runs past it from north to east. The monastery is surrounded by a stockade, with two main baileys: one outer, with quarters for guests and lay brethren, as well as a field for vaster crowds of pilgrims to camp on. The inner bailey surrounds the Sword itself, as well as housing quarters for the earthbound monks. The hillside is largely covered in low bushes and scrub. They have not yet been cultivated; some berry bushes and the like may be found.

The Abbot is the official head of the Monastery, but spends much of his time atop the hilt; nurturing in a spiritual sense or overseeing the vault. His duties are fufilled at ground level by the Prior. There is a similar division between those monks atop the hilt and those at the base of the blade. The ground has earthly comforts - but none of the prestige, spiritual power or wonder of dwelling on the hilt.

The lay brethren serve to aid the monks in many aspects of day-to-day work, gaining reflected glories and blessings into the bargain. By virtue of largely being muscular and obtuse, they also quietly serve as watchmen and peacekeepers among the pilgrims; keeping them out of the monk's way when necessary and monitoring any travelling salesmen or peddlers that tag along with these holy travellers.  They are, however, hardly an armed force (even if some have been soldiers).

Orange indicates the contours of the hill the Monastery is based on. Values are height in metres above sea level.
Blue-Green is the line of the stockade about the Monastery.
Black gives the outlines of buildings.
Blue is water - in the form of the stream or the cistern.
Green does double service as fields and other planes - elevated or otherwise.
Red numbers or letters indicate an entry on the below table.

1. The Monk's quarters - at least, for those who are spending time down on earth.  The novices, for instance; and the Prior. This block contains a number of individual cells. Any personal possessions here are unlikely to be of any great value. There is a small kitchen at the right-hand end of the block.
Likely occupants: Monks, Novices, the Prior.

2. The Chapel and Reading Room. Whilst the real spiritual home of the monastery is atop the sword, there is a chapel so that the earth bound may receive spiritual nourishment. In addition to a few side rooms for vestments, candles and the like, there is also a Reading Room; not quite large enough to be a library. It also serves as a classroom. The Chapel has some fine fixtures, but no extravagantly ornate or valuable pieces. There are no notably rare/extremely useful books in the library.
Likely occupants: Monks, Novices, the Prior, visiting Priests (look up/create as appropriate hours of prayer).

3. The Sword itself. This demands it's own post. However, the Abbot and a number of the most devout monks live in cells at the hilt. They can lower a cage to draw up people, or to carry provisions - or night soil. From a gantry, covered in rigging, they can operate great polishing pads to scour the sword of rust.  The monks are assisted in this by a very placid, well trained mule on a treadmill. This mule (and it's predecessors) were specially trained in a Church-owned farm. They are expensive beasts to purchase, but uncommonly sensible and obedient.
Likely occupants: (at the hilt) The Abbot, less than a dozen monks, and Patience the Mule.
This is one area that will be expanded upon. As the centrepiece, it would have to be.

4. About the foot of the Sword are a number of bore holes. These were drilled painstakingly with assistance from the hilt. Into these holes is poured tallow - it is held that this will set the Sword firmly at the base.
Likely occupants: none.

5. This platform serves as a way to mount the cage that can be drawn up to the hilt. It can also serve as a stage for outdoor services to massed crowds of pilgrims.
Likely occupants: none.

6. Two storerooms; one holds tallow for the holes, the other oil for the blade. Both are noxious enough to keep away from the living quarters.
Likely occupants: none.

7. Several flights of steps lead down to a fast-flowing stream. There is a small postern in the stockade to allow this. There is no spring on the hill itself; this is the best source of water for the inhabitants o the monastery. Rain isn't quite reliable enough.
Likely occupants: none, though lay brothers regularly trek up and down the steps to the stream.

8. A complex of buildings provide a number of services to visitors and acts as the home of the lay brethren that serve the Monastery. It is known as the Hall. The current Chief of the Lay Brethren, a former soldier, has taken pains that the lower floor has stout shutters and thick doors - intending that the Hall could provide a Redoubt of sorts if it were ever needed.

a. This is a kitchen, serving the whole complex. A back door leads to a midden.
Likely occupants: cooks and scullions.

b. This long room serves as refectory and common room - and indeed, for many of the poorer visitors, dormitory.
Likely occupants: servents of those in c.

c.  A series of more-or-less private chambers are set here, for important visitors - or those who can pay.
Likely occupants: envoys, merchants, the odd noble.

d. This is little more than a covered passageway and a row of storerooms, both for food and hardware.
Likely occupants: none.

e. The stables. Whilst horses can be let in the paddock, those beasts that should be cared for (or with concerned owners) could be lodged here.
Likely occupants: maybe a groom. Horses for anyone in c.

f. The lay brothers mostly lodge in these rooms. Neatly furnished, but not sumptuous.
Likely occupants: The lay brethren - at least, come the end of the day's work.

g. This acts as an office for the Chief (as much a foreman as anything else, even if his reputation and bearing enhances his official position) of the Lay Brethren and as a sort of Reception for guests at the Hall.
Likely occupants: the Chief of the Lay Brethren

h. There are no gates to the Hall, but a stout bar lays across to bridge the gap between c and g. If necessary, this would provide a framework for a barricade.
Likely occupants: none.

9. A number of smallholdings rest here. There is enough produced by these to meaningfully supplement the Monastery's diet - but not to make it self-sustaining.
Likely occupants: during the day - labouring lay brethren.

10. Two large rock cisterns are set here, in order to provide a closer supply of water.
Likely occupants: none.

11. Two fenced paddocks; one is generally home to livestock; the other, draught animals.
Likely occupants: dependant in the number of visitors.  The monks keep a few milch cows and beasts of burden. 

12. A long, shallow ramp gives access to the Monastery.
Likely occupants: travellers.

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