Author Topic: The Stables  (Read 1448 times)

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The Stables
« on: January 27, 2006, 07:21:06 AM »
Nestled in one of the most convenient locations in the keep\'s grounds, the stables are a sprawling, bustling double-storeyed affair where there is rarely any rest. From the business of selling and stabling horses to the exclusion and protection of superior stock owned by nobility and Royals themselves, this structure is a hive of unceasing activity. An extremely long building shaped against the inner wall, it is situated closest to the (southern) Inner Gates with large, partitioned wood-fenced corrals at that end. Stock for sale is generally displayed here and horses whose owners can’t spare any more coppers than are necessary will have their beasts kept here. Although food and exercise is given for the merest amount of money, exposure to the elements is less than ideal.
 
Both floors have two wide central walkways running from end to end, rows of stalls on either side of them. The cheapest stalls – on the bottom floor - are noticeably less spacious than those found on the second storey. The second floor is generally accessed by a wide ramp attached to the southern end of the building, above the sale yards, though there is a set of stairs at the other (of average width and leading directly to the northwest corner, where the Stable Master\'s quarters are). A fenced-off area is to be found in the north also, but this is an exercise and training yard with two rolling pits of fine sand for the royal thoroughbreds’ pleasure. A fourth and fifth enclosure farthest from the stable each hold a neat shelter, water trough and share the shade of an enormous elm tree; these paddocks dedicated to breeding and foaling.
 
Situated about four metres away from the Inner Wall as the Stables are - and at an angle that means the northern end is farther away from the wall than the southern – they have two wide cross walks equidistant from each other and the ends of the building, allowing access to either side of the structure and the yards. The narrow back of the southernmost end is overgrown with creeper vines curling around massive fig trees, blocking the way to the sales yards. Only the Stable Master is aware that there is a secret wooden door beneath the mass of foliage covering both sides of this section of the Inner Wall, found easily if you know what you are looking for, and large enough to allow a man and a horse through – or any number of young women - should the need for discretion (and the avoidance of guard sightings) arise.
 
Inside the stables there is an array of different stall styles, both open and closed, all laden with fresh hay. Stalls against the walls have shutters that can be thrust back to find a breeze in the warmer months or sealed perfectly to insulate in the colder ones. A tack room is situated at each end on both floors and in the opposite corners are the staff housing areas – complete with washrooms, bedrooms and kitchens. The Stable Master - George Linley - has a separate residence provided in the Keep’s grounds (because he has a family and it\'s more practical) but the Stable Manager - Bede Gallagher - is on the job 24/7 and sleeps in the most opulent of surrounds in the upper storey. The Stables are able to comfortably house over three hundred beasts but a minimal staff of twenty permanent and twenty casual staff is kept, most of them young due to the punishing workload so few staff and so many jobs leads to. Older workers are rarely able to meet and sustain the requirements of such a physical job.
 
A vast basement barn has been dug in a revolutionary storey beneath the Stables, accessible by two wide, cobbled ramps leading down from street on the palace side of the building. The ramps end at enormous double doors and are situated either side of the northernmost cross walkway’s entrance. Inside this dark, airless space, deals and deeds never spoken of in polite company are done, though the area is usually open to the sun during the day to accommodate the regular deliveries of hay and feed from the outlying farmlands, restricting the most wicked acts to darkness. The ramp doors are watched by patrolling Palace Guards and are generally not locked. Only the best, most voracious feline hunters are to be found as regular inhabitants in this secretive, grassy world, prowling endlessly amongst the towering sections of chaff, keeping the vermin problem to a non-existent level.
 
A farrier and a saddlery are found very close to the Stables, their interactions with the Stable staff frequent, their relationship with the Stable Manager and Master necessarily good.