You might remember my ‘Forging a character’ posts from a while ago. And while I’ve (almost) exhausted the stories behind creating characters… there are stories left to tell about creating the world.
My first look of this type will be aimed at nothing else than the glorious elven capital and the royal palace above it.
In the concept stages, I did not really have much. Of course, every kingdom needs a royal palace and a capital city but there wasn’t much detail needed when I did not have even a complete idea of the story.
What I knew about the palace was a vague idea of its appearance: as my story is based on the ‘high elf’ concept, it’s built from white marble, a perfect example of peak fantasy architecture. Just the same, even city-dwelling elves would want to have nature at their very doorstep and so one of the major features since the start was a vast park behind the palace – I guesstimate the size at a few square kilometers.
The palace of stone would then overlook the capital from a low hill. The town, though I was far from solidyfing the concept, would be made of wooden houses, but with wide streets paved with stone, lit by magical lamps, and with trees growing on the main streets, dividing them on half.
Building a capital…
Mentioning wide boulevards might get the attention of those with history or geography knowledge, so there’s a story for why it’s this way – a story I might explore in depth later. In short: Eltoria was built only after the Elven War ended and the elves were unified under a single banner. Thus, the new capital was built pretty much from zero, which allowed for detailed planning.
Thus, the city is built with perpendicular streets. The main boulevards are done so that each half (as I mentioned above, they’re divided by a strip of trees, lamps, and flowers) allows the passage of carriages and pedestrians without space issues. This has the side effect of limiting potential city fire.
The very heart of the city is a massive square with a central fountain and several trees. The square itself serves as a marketplace but is large enough to host public events. The houses around it have various shops on their ground level, inspired by historical European cities.
Population? Around 85k. This is, again, inspired by the population of major European capitals in medieval times.
… and the palace
The palace gets a lot more screen time than the town itself, but my ideas were quite vague for a long time. I knew there would be a main courtyard (with an tear- or oval-shaped path that would allow guests to leave their carriages at the main entrance one by one) leading into the entry halls, with two ‘front’ wings – stables (right) and some kind of service quarters (left).
The palace proper would then have three wings: the central was the place of all the ‘important stuff’ – the royal and guest quarters, lounges and halls for diplomatic meetings, a grand ballroom…
The left wing, called ‘Halls of Wisdom’ would then house the Royal Library, the best magi and other ‘fantasy scientists’ – zoologists, botanists, alchemists, etc. The right wing, on the other hand, was to house the military command, the courtrooms, and the underground prison.
The result was a kind-of deformed butterfly shape. And it remained that way until May 2020.
A palace upgraded
Being done with beta and needing a different aspect to focus on before the self-read, I decided to give the palace some attention. Protect your eyes, for here come the pictures!
This awful doodle, made even worse by poor contrast (even post-edits), is what I produced. I knew that it would go poorly through a scanner, so I made a second version with what I found suitable for the job: four colored roller pens. Post-scan, I added labels in the almighty MSPaint.
Behold the result! (Black lines are building walls, red lines are paths, green lines mark some nature-like elements, the lake is blue line because water).
While the right wing remained pretty much intact (apart from moving the side entrance instead of having the paths connect before the main gate): I only added the ‘path of shame’ as a shortcut to the prison entrance. I still need to decide whether the part housing the army officers will be called ‘Halls of Arms’ or ‘Halls of Command’.
The middle wing got a minor change: the three parts making it (Halls of Diplomacy, Halls of Residence/Royal Quarters, and Guest Quarters) were split into individual sections. To fill the place between the mid- and right-wing, I plopped down a hedge maze.
The left wing, on the other hand, got a major makeover. In the original concept, the present parts were L1, L3, and L5. I knew I wanted the palace to have a rosarium, though I had no idea where it would be. Similar story is with the ‘teleport courtyard’ (the only part of the palace without anti-teleport ‘forcefields’, barring the far sections of the park). It wasn’t that I did not know what I wanted in that section, I just had no idea how to organize them, until I did…
As for some finishing touches, I added the entry arch (because a palace deserves eye-catching entrance) on the boulevard leading to/from the capital itself and the Statue of Unity – something to point out the unification of elves, even though I don’t have any idea how could the statue look. At least not yet.
So, after almost five years of writing, I’ve finally finalized the layout of the royal palace. I’ll have to eventually decide whether I’ll try to get the sketch into some better shape and include it in the book, or if I’ll just keep it like it is now (maybe with some minor edits) and have it just here on the weblog for those who might want to know more about the story…
So, that’s it for today. Feel free to comment. Is there any place in your stories with a history of its own? Did you try to draw a sketch of some place? Want to tell me my drawing skills suck? The comment section is here for you!