I have built this Manor for many purposes, but primarily for my role as a father. A man should have a solid, comfortable place in which to house his family. As I am a King and burdened with many more responsibilities than most fathers, the house is rather a large one. But it serves very well.
Marc Frederick Stauberg-Randolph, A Royal House
When Marc Frederick Randolph arrived in the Second Creation, he did so with nothing more than the clothes on his back and the titanium willpower of a Sordaneon. His fortune and whatever reputation he had owned in the past were in the past and forever out of reach. He at first resisted the efforts of the Wall Lords to enlist him and negotiated terms. Eventually the Malyrdeons, because of their great need of him, conceded. Among those terms was the gift of Gustan Manor.
I told them I must have a place of my own that is native to me. I vowed I would adopt their language, their World, and their ways to the very best of my ability. I promised also that I would follow their plan for me, provided they explain it and I would not be called upon to betray those values I hold highest. However, my price for that would be to have my own house and land to which I might retreat, with my own bed to sleep in and my own foods, and my own people to attend me. I wanted to have more of myself than merely memories. A person cannot be whole if they are isolated from all that they are.
Marc Frederick Stauberg-Randolph, A Royal House
To this Endurin Malyrdeon, Marc Frederick’s abductor and great-grandfather, King of Essera, Wall Lord and avatar, agreed. So did Marenthro, wizard of Permephedon, who had performed the actual abduction. Labran Sordaneon is famously rumored to have said, “I suppose the Wall is in on this too.”
Endurin bestowed upon Marc Frederick property in Gustan, a quiet town in Dazunor situated on a bend of the Dazun River where it meets the River Orry. The property includes a tall hill and a great tract of land which resembled the rolling, wooded hills of Marc Frederick’s former home of Warding Hall. As gifted, Gustan Manor is personal property of the Stauberg-Randolphs and not a Crown asset.
Marc Frederick fulfilled his part of the vow and strove to become as Malyrdeon as his kindred of that name. It is at that point he was given the Stauberg portion of his name. While learning all he could, Marc Frederick communed with the Wall Lords and, it is speculated, might even have queried the Wall and used that Entity’s foresight to draft his design. He enlisted Marenthro’s ability to traverse archived worlds and the Second Creation to obtain the needed materials and workers.
Construction of the Manor began in 2/1811, one year after Marc Frederick’s arrival in Stauberg. The final bricks of the west courtyard staircase were laid in 2/1830, the year following Marc Frederick’s accession to Essera’s throne.
The site where Gustan Manor sits was a grassy rise north of Sonnen Hill. The site was excavated and filled, and raised again, using rock, gravel, sand, and soil from the countryside surrounding Warding Hall. The Manor house itself is faced with Warding sandstone exteriors—which stone is even-colored and pale buff—and boasts interiors of oak, marble, walnut, iron, and limestone. The Manor was constructed entirely using First Creation materials. These materials are temporally displaced and may be protected in some way by the Wall.
Gustan Manor was designed by Marc Frederick following a plan he conceived with friend and architect Jonathan Mason during his time in the First Creation. Situated on sloping ground, the Manor is built as a rectangle with two grand wings to the rear. The main structure has three stories set atop a deep foundation. The East Front of the central block serves as the main entrance through a reception hall. The center rectangle also holds the throne room, ballroom, formal dining and sitting halls, and one of the Manor’s three libraries. The State apartment, family residences and private rooms, and many of the Manor’s service chambers and quarters are housed in the South wing, which also has the Long Gallery. The North Wing includes a music room, map room, drawing rooms, guest rooms on the upper floors, and a conservatory. The Manor’s stately embellishments include stonework, statues, paintings, tapestries, and water features.
The Manor can be reached by river or by road. The estate has extensive Dazun River frontage and a landing with sufficiently deep water for docking barges, yachts, and schooners as well as smaller vessels. The road north from the port town of Gustan is scenic and after branching off the main road continues to the estate across a series of bridges over the Orry, which meanders through the estate. The King’s Road between Trulo and Aral passes to the north of the estate and connects to an access road to the farms and hunting preserve.
A few dozen First Creation workers and artisans, and their families, from Warding Hall, traveled from their world willingly to live on the estate, where they keep their own language and customs. They understood there would be no way back to their former lives. These people continue to run the dairy, farm, house—where their descendants today form the greater part of the staff—gardens and various industries of the Manor. Some of the original crossovers regretted their choice, with sad results, and over the years many of their descendants have left the Manor to seek lives within the larger society outside the Manor’s cozy seclusion. Aside from royal staff, only progeny of the original workers from the First Creation are permitted to build or live on the estate; such residence is at the discretion of the Stauberg-Randolphs.
During his rule as Endurin’s Heir and Prince of Dazunor, Marc Frederick lived part of each year at the Manor. He also lived at the Manor for all of his first marriage, to Thora Almegdda. Their daughter, Emyli was born there in early 2/1829. Thora sickened and died at Gustan Manor at the end of that year. Marc Frederick became king of Essera one month later. Though as King Marc Frederick moved his court between his capital at Stauberg and his palaces at Trulo and Dazunor-Rannuli, he made a point to spend part of each year at Gustan Manor with his daughter. Princess Emyli wed Erwan Cedrecson at the Manor in 2/1845 and her son Stefan, later King Stefan, was born at the Manor in 2/1849.
Gustan Manor estate, even when the family is not in residence, contributes to the local economy. The Manor’s dairy is famous and its cheese much in demand. The land under cultivation produces surplus crops, which the workers who farm it can sell for their own profit. The estate also provides lumber and an annual harvest of Dazun River eels. The Manor estate pays some taxes and is considered self-sustaining.
Rumors of magic accrue to Gustan Manor. There is the possibility of Wall protection inherent in its construction. It is also rumored that Endurin Malyrdeon, upon naming Marc Frederick his Heir, placed upon the Manor a Leur-created aegis that it could not be found by any who wished ill upon it or those who dwell there. In what may be related magic, staff tell of rooms simply disappearing, the doors that formerly led to them leading to other rooms; the rooms reappear weeks or months later as if they were never gone.
There are also tales of secret passages, ghostly protectors, and suits of armor that become warriors should the need arise.
(A photograph of Chatsworth House in England, providing an idea of what Marc Frederick built.)