Friday, 18 April 2014

N is for New Palace

The foundations of Marienburg were laid down over two and a half millennia ago, before the time of Sigmar and the rise of the Empire. The city has stood, in one form or another, under a handful of different rulers, this entire time. However, this isn't to say that all of the buildings have held firm.

Due to Marienburg's great economic value, the city has been sacked at least five separate times: by Norscans, Bretonnians and Imperials alike. In all these attacks, few buildings have survived to this present day, with most of Marienburg's real estate being less than 500 years old. It is perhaps ironic that one of the oldest buildings left standing is, in fact, the New Palace.

The New Palace began construction (after the previous one was burnt to the ground by the retreating Bretonnians) under Baron van Buik, the then Baron of Marienburg, as a fortified stronghold in the event that Bretonnia would once again attempt to invade and hold Marienburg as it had done seven years prior. However, the coffers of the city were severely emptied after paying the extortionate levies asked by the 'Liberating Forces' from Middenheim. As such, the Baron was forced to take massive loans from the rising merchants of the city in exchange for seats on the City Council, thus beginning the earliest democratic governance in 1604 IC. It is for this reason that the palace is sometimes called "Democracy's Cradle".

The palace was eventually completed in the heart of Paleisbuurt, and stands to this day as a domineering fortress - four massive towers guard the approaches, a lone Dwarf-built steel gate defends the courtyard, and thick arrow-slitted walls hold its massive dome roof aloft.

But, it has been over 700 years since the last successful attack on the city, and the merchants of the Directorate have held the palace for nearly 100 years themselves, using it as the home and official meeting place of the Staadholder (the official head of the Directorate). This more comfort-oriented ownership has resulted in several changes to the otherwise citadel-esque building: large, Bretonnian-stile windows now face out through the walls, unfortified out-builds have been connected - including a chapel and massive banquet hall, and one of the guard towers has been converted to a roost for the current Staadholder's prized pigeons!

Despite it looking now like an over-the-top, embellished, "wedding cake" of a building, the New Palace holds within it some of the darker dealings of the city. As stated, the Directorate formally meets within its walls, and as such the politics of the city and further abroad are discussed cloak-and-dagger, not to mention the fact that the Fog Walkers, the covert arm of the Secretariat for Trade Equity have their 'head quarters' within its lower basements.

Needless to say, a well placed spy in the New Palace would reap their master more intrigue than imaginable - not to mention the ire of the most powerful men and women the Old World has ever known.