I came upon an unexpected discovery while furthering my medieval research! It turns out that Edinburgh Castle in Scotland was built on top of an extinct volcano! This gave me an idea for my next fantasy volume by featuring a castle or a series of castles that are built on top of extinct volcanos. That way I can better connect with my Scottish heritage.
I discovered something utterly fascinating a couple days ago in yet another medieval documentary, Going Medieval. Guedelon Castle, which is located in France, is being built from the ground up for the past twenty years. It is not an ancient castle at all. It is a freshly made one that is still under construction. The people in the project have been building it with no modern equipment or materials, only using tools and materials from the period. They say the castle will be completed in the 2020s. I think I will wait to see this castle when it is finished, that way I can get a better scale of a freshly made castle for future reference.
When coming up with the Imperial Palace in Numen the Slayer, I drew inspiration from museum displays of gold and my experiences on top of Mammoth Mountain. I thought that a palace fit for an emperor had to be the biggest, richest, and most impregnable castle in the entire Empire. After examining gold samples and remembering my time on top of a mountain, I thought of making the Imperial Palace a mountain that started out as a mine before being converted into a vast stronghold. To this end, I drew inspiration from various interpretations of dwarf kingdoms in fantasy. In fact, thousands of years ago, the Imperial Palace started as a dwarf kingdom until it was taken from them by human conquerors. After the sacking of the Imperial Palace, the dwarf race became extinct throughout Gradaia along with the elves. The Palace’s new human owners took full advantage of its limitless wealth of gold, silver, copper, and precious gems. Then the Imperial Palace was taken by Galen the Bull, who made the Palace his seat as he conquered the other Petty Kingdoms. On the outside, the Imperial Palace is a thousand foot tall mountain made of red and yellow stone and rests in the middle of a lake that acts as a natural moat. The only features that give it away as a fortification are the front gate and a citadel carved out of the summit. Inside the Imperial Palace are countless halls, galleries, barracks, storerooms, vaults, kitchens, and many other rooms. Its stables could house over a thousand horses, its great hall had two dozen hearths, and its storerooms can contain enough food and provisions to last decades in case of a siege. Each of these rooms and halls are big and lavish enough to occupy gods. The throne room is the largest of the chambers and contains three distinct thrones: one made of gold, one made of silver, and one made of bronze. The gold throne is for the ruling emperor or empress, the silver throne is for their consort, and the bronze throne is for their heir apparent. The Imperial Palace is so vast that it requires more than ten thousand men-at-arms to be properly garrisoned. The largest army in the Empire can lay siege to the Imperial Palace and be repelled. The only way into the Imperial Palace is with the occupants’ consent. Overall, the Imperial Palace is a stronghold that shames all other castles in terms of size, wealth, and defense.
While writing Numen the Slayer, I drew inspiration on the design of various castles. For instance, I modeled the Umbran castle of Blood Arrow after the design of the castle in the picture. However, the architecture would be grimmer and more ominous.
To make my fantasy world as medieval as possible, there will be a special type of castle present called a motte-and-bailey castle. This type of castle was mostly made of wood and consisted of a man-made hill and moat. Stone castles were not introduced to England until the Normans invaded. While a motte-and-bailey castle will be featured in the kingdom of my first fantasy book, these castles will appear more frequently in heavily forested regions where timber is easily accessible.
Let’s say you hold up inside a castle with walls that are thirty feet high. You have a garrison of about five hundred men armed with swords, shields, spears, longbows, crossbows, and ballistas. You also have enough food and provisions to last you six months. Now imagine a dragon the size of the castle itself flying overhead. The dragon has enough firepower to destroy the entire castle unless someone gets lucky and hits a weak spot in the dragon’s hide. What do you think you chances of survival would be?
While studying my heritage, I discovered that my ancestors on my mother’s side owned Crathes Castle in Scotland. The land the castle inhabited was given to us by Robert the Bruce, King of the Scots while the castle itself was built during the reign of Mary Queen of Scots. My mother’s family were a cadet branch of the main owners of the castle, but we still had a claim to it. We no longer own the castle and it is open to the public nowadays as a museum. Still, it is comforting to know that my family is descended from Scottish nobility. Since I will be modeling the setting of the first volume of my fantasy book after Scotland, I am thinking of modeling one of the castles after my ancestral home.