Saf-Athan Palace Building / Landmark in Qal'ath | World Anvil

Saf-Athan Palace ([zæf:aeθ:æn pælæð])

➡️ Note: Drawings and Layout Sketches are in the works (started, I mean) but I've had to focus on writing. Watch this space. Or go read another WA creator's work, that's a better idea!
  Saf-Athan Palace is the centre of power in the Capital of Qal'ath and stands in the centre circle of Bezélan, though that "circle" was, in fact, a pentagon. Adjacent to the Palace were the Bezélian Archives and the King's Courtyard. Although in the centre of the Capital, the Palace stood twice the height of its surrounding walls, making it visible from many above-ground quarters of the city. Even the top of its tallest tower (or Spire) could be viewed from the bottom of the hill leading to Faiqal Gates.  

The Meaning of the Name

Saf-Athan is mostly Foyiitùn in origin from:
  • Saf (pronounced zaff): precious stone or jewel (but not Crystal)
  • Athan: Fortress
Thus is was branded a fortress within a fortress. And this name well described the structure, as we shall see.   ˆ Section Menu

The Original Palace

The current incarnation of Saf-Athan was built on the historic "King's Hall", which was more akin to a barn in layout than a place to entertain foreign dignitaries. From what records we have been able to find from the early years after the First Destruction, the King's Hall was utilised for storing grain, wine, perishable food and even the occasional goat or ten. This was probably due to a rationing system being in place - and to secure the food both from inside thieves and any potential raids seeking to take advantage of Qal'ath's then weakened state.   That is not to say the original Palace had no majesty to it. While the outside remained in keeping with much of the city, the King's Hall itself was, and still is, long and supported by four rows of pillars leading to the throne itself. Though, the few sketches we have attempted to restore seem to only show these as wooden, or possibly wood carved in the likeness of trees. Such materials, and architectural touches would be consistent with the first century After the First Destruction.   ˆ Section Menu

Saf-Athan Palace Today (534AFD)

The Palace, while made of white stone from Crescent Cliffs these days, it retained the original barn-like layout on the ground floor. However, over the years, various modifications - some minor but most on a grand scale have been built on.  

Exterior Appearance

The Spires
On the roof of the King's Hall, stand two towers - or "Spires" as Carnael II would prefer them named.  
The Light Spire
The nearest tower's base is akin to a small hold-out fort with a parapet and is the same height as the ground floor, effectively doubling the height of the Palace. From the centre of its top rises a narrow, shining conical spire and all over its surface is engraved the symbol of Qal'ath. These engravings reflect light in different directions, illuminating the King's Courtyard below on clear days and nights. This has been dubbed "the Light Spire" for obvious reasons.   The Podium
Aside from the standard complement of guards and scouts, the only other notable feature is that from its top level protrudes a somewhat less-elegant column with a stone wall around it, named The Podium. From this vantage, the Kings of Qal'ath could survey and give instructions to, the military in the Courtyard below, or utilise it for making royal announcements.
Ascension Spire
Behind the Light Spire stood a marvel of metalsmithing, the polishing of jewellers and the careful planning of masons: the Ascension Spire. Modelled on the twisty horns of the Stags of Antler Pastures, this Spire featured several levels of plush rooms, heated by the sun in Spring and Summer and warding against the cold in Winter. Each level was accessed solely by the elegant, marble, spiral staircase. that narrowed as the Spire did.   Unlike the Light Spire, however, Ascension Spire had little in the way of protection against attack. The generally-lax way the most recent Kings of Qal'ath led the Realm meant the importance of appearance mattered far more than such practical (and aesthetically unpleasing) concerns. While, in full sunshine, the Spire could dazzle and disorient flying foes (see Jewel of Qal'ath), it was effectively defenceless during the nighttime.
Other Facilities and Chambres of Ascension Spire
On other floors were small libraries, the King's personal jeweller and tailor, and an observatory where the lesser, non-magical prototype of The Lens resides and astronomers try to make sense of what lies beyond the skies of their Orb called Savàni.   At the top of this Spire stands a now-abandoned Elemental Insights chambre, where kings prior to Carnael I would consult with one or two Mages of the Crystal Circle as close to the Sky as possible, where the Air was not obstructed, where Light (and in the daytime, Fire) was all around and with the stonework of the Spire connected them to Erdé. For these reasons it was usually the Guardian Mage of the Crystal of Water who went as a matter of course. Unless it was raining, then it would be more likely the Guardian Mage of the Crystal of Light.   If this Spire were in a city where religion was officially practised, you could have reasonably presumed that this Spire was intended to reach the heavens. Instead it stands as a monument to Paràntii ingenuity and progress.     ˆ Section Menu

The Jewel of Qal'ath

While the Jewel Fortress may have been simple imagery when it was first thus named, more recent rules, especially Carnael I and his son Carnael II), have taken a more literal approach. Before goldsmiths and jewellers - or treasure-hunters and raiders - become too excited, the only jewels stored here are those in the one Crown of Qal'ath and the King's Signet Ring.   However, as Kings wished for the Palace to be as visible as possible and exude the wealth accumulated there, skilled masons and alchemists worked together to give the highest tower the sheen of a jewel. It is this work that gives it the light-reflectiveness already mentioned.   ˆ Section Menu

Aesthetic Changes

Aside from the obvious Spires, the outside of Saf-Athan Palace has been modified in two notable ways:  
"The Horns"
To counteract the essentially ugly nature of the speech platform, or pillar, two mirror copies of huge flowing stone were constructed atop the main gate. The designing mason in question had taken inspiration from the flow of rivers from mountaintops. So the stonework began as a point at each side of the platform and flowed down in uneven undulations, one towards the gate and the other towards the exposed side of the Palace. While somewhat of an engineering feat for Qal'ath, who had not taken advice from the Elelupii beforehand, from the front of the gate these appear as the ears or horns of a beast. Thus, when ridiculing the Palace (as the general populace, rich and poor were in the habit of doing), they would be known as "The Horns".   Once realising his (we believe the designing mason was a 'he') work had garners so much negative opinion, he had his name erased from the Palace's records. Repairs are carried out by the local masons, still, however. In an effort to counter this, Carnael II had the Elelupii Alchemists concoct a water-proof, pale blue dye applied to them.  
Sloping Roof
While it is not known for certain when the work was carried out, it is believed that somewhere around 90-120AFD the roof of Saf-Athan underwent major works. While the original King's Hall did not have a perfectly flat roof, it was in the habit of collecting rain and snow. What with most of the Hall being made of wood and older cast metals, this weakness had caused the wood to bend and, in many cases, break - and the metals to rust.   As the Palace as a whole was an 'L' shape, the two sections each have individual half-dome roofs, facilitating the run-off of precipitation.   Around 250-300AFD was when construction of the Spires took place. This entailed making much of the King's Hall roof flat again, but ensuring the edges were still sloped (or "quarter domed"). As the remaining roof was filled with conical structures, the changes did not affect the waterproof requirement in ay adverse way.   ˆ Section Menu

The Doors

The curved archway leading into the King's Hall (as that section still retained the name) was split vertically in two and secured by way of huge, heavy and mostly metallic doors. While one strong person could open the door just enough to squeeze through, the "Palace Gate" was normally opened by at least two Réjan - or Royal Guards to give them their Common Tongue name. To open both doors simultaneously required at least four strong warriors.   While the drawbridge was almost always down, the doors to Saf-Athan were usually closed and heavily guarded. With the Light Spire being the foremost of the two, archers (of dart or Fire) were routinely posted to keep watch from a distance. If a threat to the King was deemed reasonable, crossbow archers lay on The Podium, where the low wall was more than sufficient to hide them from anyone in the circle below.   Thus, the combined might of the Rejan and the Archers guarded the enormous gates, with the doors themselves being the last external defence of the Palace.   ˆ Section Menu

Other Minor Defences

  • A relic of ages past, Saf-Athan has a drawbridge mechanism. This is not in place of the huge doors, but as well as them. Any invading foes would need to penetrate both to breach the Palace.
  • A "river of traps" (a small moat of sorts) runs from Psykii Lawns into the centre circle, in front of Saf-Athan and around its longest side, before turning to follow the wall. In it are many rusty traps, useless blades and the occasional spiked plate. This was intended to deter enemy foot soldiers from scaling the walls, but as it is only about five "arm spans" (from the fingertips of one hand to the fingertips of the other when outstretched) wide, its use is predominantly redecorative nowadays.
  ˆ Section Menu


There was only one way into Saf-Athan, and officially only one way out. This was through a guarded gate in the South-East of the pentagon, and cutting across the King's Courtyard. If the drawbridge was down (which it almost always was), you would have to walk across it to reach the main doors. If it was not, then you likely were not welcome, but could try to cross the minor moat, at risk of cutting your legs on the traps under the water. But it as possible.   Technically, you could reach the Palace through the Archives, but that was unnecessarily inefficient. That door was primarily for the use of Archivists, Researchers and Chroniclers - or Royal Guards and Messengers visiting such people.   Skip to:

Interior Layout

While this will take several documents outlining the inside, out of necessity I will stress that entry into the Palace itself did not mean instant access to the Throne Hall, which was barred in much the same way as the main external doors, only with the doors opening outwards.   Much of Bezélan was designed in such a way as to frustrate any enemies who may breach its walls. Doors did not lead immediately to other doors such that it took longer to reach any given location in the city. Naturally, this frustrated everyone else as well during peacetime. Saf-Athan Palace followed the same principle:  
  1. The entire back of the Palace was built into the wall of the first circle, into one of its five points. This prevented access from anywhere other than the King's Courtyard.
  2. The main doors led to a partial dividing wall, with smaller archways either side.
  3. The Throne Hall's doors required pulling to open, rather than pushing, meaning more effort was needed.
  4. The stairways to the upper floors (and Spires) could only be access when facing towards the exit rather than when entering it.
  5. While the Kitchens could be "stormed" by invaders, the opposite room - the "Consultation Chambre" could only be reached from the back of the Throne Hall.
  6. To reach the King's Quarters from the outside of the Palace, therefore, required no fewer than five doors or gates to be opened.
Founding Date
Alternative Names
Bezélan Palace
Parent Location
Ruling/Owning Rank

Minor Defences
➡️ Drawbridge
➡️ River of Traps


Please Login in order to comment!