Veneziano Palace

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The Palazzo Veneziano - known in Hallish as Veneziano Palace, also called the Imperial Manse - is the official residence of the Dynast Sovereign of Auresia and the core members of the Scarlet Dynasty, located in Cedelphia, capital city of the Auresian Empire. It is also home to the offices of several important facilities of the Imperial government. Other than as the residence of the Emperor, it is the home of the legendary Rotunda, the ceremonial heart of Auresia.

The Palace is primarily recognized by the central dome of the great Rotunda, and from which the wings of the complex radiate outward to the ring-shaped outer structure which forms a circular enclosure and grants the Palace a very large interior courtyard. The Palace is situated atop Aurelio in the center of Cedelphia, and is visible from virtually any point in the city. It is entered from the garden park of Epoch Plaza. Below Epoch is the Piazza Veneziano, which the palace lends its name to and is the public path of access to the palace.

Veneziano has a total floor space of 69,677.28 square meters, excluding the Rotunda, arranged in four wings on three floors and one basement level.


Contents

Important Rooms

The sprawling magnificence of Veneziano is home to numerous rooms, some new and some old, that each have a unique aspect to them that makes their display an attraction to be seen. Some are famous, some infamous, and some largely legendary and lost to time.

Surrounding the Rotunda is a circular corridor known as the Grand Corridor. It is three floors in height, as are the four wings. At each compass rose point - north, south, east and west - are stairs accessing the upper floors, and on the ground floor are large, open vestibules which access the rooms beyond. Each floor has stairs access the others, with exception of the north wing, which has fewer stairs due to the Imperial family being in residence. Terraced walkways ring the Corridor at each level, allowing access to each wing of the Palace from any of the others, with a little walking.

Each wing of Veneziano, is in the shape of an open square, with the wing enclosing an interior garden. These gardens are a part of the surrounding Veneziano Gardens, but cannot access the outer gardens.

Rotunda

Also known as Caesar's Rotunda, the centerpiece of Veneziano is the legendary and historical Rotunda, the single oldest part of the entire Palace after the Celestial Basilica of the west wing. Built initially as a flat-roofed hall with many great pillars and a much smaller dome, starting with Cephorus Maximus and completed by his great-great-grandson Emperor Dastari I, it has been considered the centerpiece of the city and its most prominent symbol for over two thousand years. The Rotunda serves as the symbolic and ceremonial heart of the entire Empire, where the annual Winterfest festivities are initiated, where Neo Annum is heralded in, and numerous other important events are held.

The Rotunda is a great marble dome, resting on a podium 17 meters tall and 175 meters in diameter. Atop it is the great dome itself, which brings the overall height of the Rotunda to 152.4 meters. It has seating for 10,000 people, and on a raised dais in the center of the basin is the ceremonial Golden Lion Throne. The dais it stands on is given a quarter-turn every day, so that it faces one of the four compass rose directions. Atop the dome stands a 22.8 meter tall statue of Vittorio, the Leone d'Oro, or Golden Lion of Auresia, the symbol of the nation and the Empire.

The current dome was constructed in the early decades of the 76th century, as part of commemoration of the Empire's founding and the culmination of late plans to honor the two thousand years since the birth of Cephorus Maximus.

North Wing

  • Imperial Sanctum - The entire top floor of the north wing is home of the residence of the Dynast Sovereign and their spouse and children. Also found here are apartments for several other relations of the reigning monarch. Currently, this includes the Sovereign's parents, paternal grandmother and maternal grandfather, and apartments for each of the Emperor's brothers and their spouses and children.
  • Throne Room - This chamber is where the Dynast Sovereign holds regular court with senior military officers and members of the aristocracy. It is the location of the original Golden Lion Throne. It is located at the northern end of the second floor of the north wing, at the far end of the Lyceum from the Grand Staircase.
  • Cabinet - In the corner behind and to the left of the Golden Lion Throne in the Throne Room is a door that leads to the Cabinet, an area where the Emperor's private study and sitting room are located, and where the Sovereign tends to daily business. Very few people have access to this area.
  • Lyceum - The corridor which connects from the Grand Staircase to the Throne Room, located on the second floor of the north wing it wraps around the second floor. Branching off of the Lyceum are the Map Room, Star Chamber, and the private Alexandros Chapel.
  • Grand Staircase - in the foyer of the north wing on the ground floor, opening off of the Grand Corridor, the Grand Staircase accesses the second floor of the north wing and leads to the Throne Room and Imperial Sanctum. The Lyceum is the only section of open to visitors in this part of the Palace, and it is guarded night and day by the Red Guard. The two-story vestibule has a first floor landing which overlooks it, from with either arm of the Lyceum can be access. In this area, on any given day, one may find numerous petitioners seeking to address the Dynast Emperor or one of his Lords Paramount.
  • Secretariat Offices - Located just behind the Grand Staircase on the ground floor, these rooms are where the Privy Secretariat works.
  • Repositorium - Also known as the Imperial Archive, this secure area is home to the private papers and important papers of the Dynast Sovereign, and is also where the Eldritch Masters work. It takes up the entire ground floor of the north wing, accessed from doors flanking the Grand Staircase on the ground level.
  • Imperial Vault - Located in the north wing section of the Palace basement, this heavily-secured area is where the House of Alexandros holds many of its most valuable and priceless treasures, which are not at present on display somewhere within the Palace.

East Wing

  • Imperial Library - surpassed only by the Imperial Archives, the Imperial Library is one of the largest and finest such collections in the world. As of present date, the library offers approximately five million books and scrolls for research and enjoyment. It takes up the entire easternmost section of the second and third floors of the wing.
  • Reading Rooms - along both the northern and southern corridors of the eastern wing's second floor are a total of six reading rooms, where those who are conducting research or who simply pull books from the Library to enjoy may relax with their books or focus on their research in peace.
  • State Dining Room - capable of seating 250 people, it is where all formal dinners are held. It is located in the southern section of the east wing, just past the State Ballroom. A private, smaller dining room off of the State Dining Room is the private dining area of the Imperial family.
  • State Ballroom - capable of holding up to 500 dancers, it is the site of several annual functions. It is located in the southern section of the east wing, just before the State Dining Room.
  • Kitchens - Led by a culinary specialist known as the Cook Imperial, this is where all meals eaten both on regular and special occasions at the palace are prepared. The kitchens take up the entire southeastern corner of the ground floor, with access to both the State Ballroom and State Dining Room. Two stairwells in the kitchens access the wine cellar, pantry, and cooler, which are located directly underneath it in the east wing basement.

West Wing

  • Celestial Basilica - designed by the Cheltai astronomer D. L. Copernicum, the Basilica was originally built as a part of an ancient temple that once stood on Aurelio, and was the only portion of it that was left standing after a fire destroyed the rest of the temple nearly a decade before the rise of Cephorus Maximus. It is the sole section of Veneziano which predates the palace itself. It is a domed hall that celebrates knowledge of the heavens and the beauty of it, while simultaneously celebrating the creation of the universe and the vastness of the deep beyond. This chamber is the site of many important functions. Three floors tall, it is connected to the westernmost section of the wing.
  • Emerald Hall - a large, formal room on the ground floor, in the northern section of the floor. It is so-named for its floor ceiling decorated with pale emerald green tile, and walls of pale creme marble with curtains of dark green. It is used for a variety of formal functions.
  • Peacock Hall - a large, formal room on the ground floor, in the southern section of the floor. It is so-named for its silvery-blue tiled floor and ceiling tiled with elaborate patterns of many colors. It is used for a variety of formal functions. It's location and decor are deliberate adaptaions of the Basilica. A balcony on the western end of the room is situated on the lower edge of the basilica, looking down into the room.
  • Hall of the Great Hunt - also known as the Janessari Enclave, located on the third floor, it is home to the local Janessari compliment, as well as spaces for Jendo'a ceremonies and gatherings. It takes up the entire westernmost section of the third floor. The northern and southern sections of the third floor are home the private apartments of the Lords Paramount.

South Wing

  • Hall of Statuary - located just off the Grand Corridor on the second floor, the Hall of Statuary is where 88 men and 42 women of Auresia are honored for their contributions in the name of science, literature, humanitarianism, medicine and more. The likenesses immortalized herein with marble are those that have been promised by the Empire to "never be forgotten". One must pass through this chamber to access the Halls of Ministry.
  • Halls of Ministry - Including the Privy Council Chamber and the offices of the twelve Lords Paramount, this is where the daily oversight and administration of the Imperial Curia takes place. The Council chamber is located in the southernmost section, with the offices of the twelve LPs along the corridors behind and to either side of it, their windows overlooking the Plaza Veneziano and main entrance to the Palace.
  • Grand Foyer - the main entrance to the Palace, taking up the entire ground floor of the wing, it is a wide room with rows of marble columns along the east and west walls between the entry doors and the opposite ends of the chamber, with high, arched windows flanked by tall, sculpted shrubs and lush beds of flowers. In the precise center of the room stands a statue of Leone d'Oro - the Golden Lion. The far northwest and northeast corners of the room of the Foyer from the main doors opens directly onto the Grand Corridor. Stairs flanking it access the second and third floors of the wing.


Staff

Veneziano has a sizable staff that maintains its operations.

Senior Staff

There are four key, prominent officials who are recognized as the people most directly responsible for the administration and oversight of daily operations at Veneziano. Each of these officials are appointed by and answer directly to the Dynast Sovereign.

Each of the four receives an annual salary of ƒ1,500. They may retire from service after forty years, with a monthly stipend of ƒ50. They also have access to a retirement account started for them at the time of their initial employ, into which they have ƒ25 deposited every month, and from which they will receive monthly interest checks (1% interest) starting with the month after retiring. Any time they stay in service past forty years only adds to this account. In the event they pass away before being able to retire, the account is passed to their spouse or eldest child, and is immediately available to them for drawing of interest checks. These officials are -

  • Federico Padovani, Chief Butler, responsible for the footmen, coachmen, and pages. He is a 40-year veteran of service at Veneziano, and has been Chief Butler for just over a decade as of 7580.
  • Ludovica Casertano, Chief Housekeeper, responsible for the housemaids and laundry maids. She is a 33-year veteran of service at Veneziano, and has been Chief Housekeeper for five years as of 7580.
  • Livia Davaniello, Secretary Imperial, responsible for the Privy Secretariat. She has served as a privy secretary for 20 years and has led the Secretariat for four years as of 7580.
  • Giovanni Tedesco, Cook Imperial, responsible for the cooks, kitchen maids, and scullery maids. He is a 38-year veteran of service at Veneziano, and has been Cook Imperial for nearly fifteen years as of 7580.

Regular Staff

Veneziano maintains a regular staff of 200 footmen, 50 coachmen (drivers and motor pool crew), 75 pages, 300 house maids, 50 laundry maids, 10 cooks, 40 kitchen maids, and 25 scullery maids. Each of them is considered full time, and performs a range of daily duties in support of the Palace and the officials who work within.


Haunts & Legends

Jocasta, Lady of Jasmine

Princess Imperial Jocasta Alexandros was a younger granddaughter of Dynast Emperor Manion I, and one of his favorites. History remembers her as an elegant, striking young woman, with the same graceful beauty of her mother, the Princess Imperial Ageria, Manion I's youngest child. Jocasta loved painting and playing her harp, and was very fond of flowers, her favorite being jasmine. A trademark of hers was the jasmine-scented perfume she wore every day. She was wed in early 6801 to a patrician Army officer - Adriano Catteneo - after courting for nearly two years. A promising, up and coming young officer, he and the princess imperial were quite happy, and had a bright future together. Their marriage was celebrated throughout the Empire, and they vacationed together on Gallinara for their honeymoon. Three months after they were wed, the princess imperial announced that she was two months pregnant with her first child. She and her husband took up residence in Beroni Manor in the Parioli ward of Accolux District, gifted to them by her grandfather.

Their happiness was tragically short-lived, however, when word came in early 6802 that her husband, who was dispatched on a liaison mission to Amberia (which was to have lasted three months), had died when his ship sank after being caught in a storm while transiting the Soll. At the time, Jocasta was seven months pregnant, and the news of her husband's death hit her exceptionally hard. Efforts by family and friends to console her only seemed to offer short term comfort, and she sank deeper into depression as time went on. She sold the manor at Beroni, and moved back into an apartment at Veneziano. On the one month anniversary of her husband's death, while alone in her apartment at Veneziano, she flung herself from the balcony of her sitting room, falling to her death. She was found in the north gardens by a Tentenal on patrol shortly thereafter. Jocasta was laid to rest in the Garden of Tranquil Repose, a private cemetery behind the Scarlet Cathedral in Epoxague, reserved for blood relations of the Imperial House. The death of one of his favorite granddaughters affected Emperor Manion I particularly hard, and he fell into a deep melancholy that is said to have hastened his death, which came a little more than a year after the loss of Jocasta herself.

About five years after Jocasta's death, stories began floating about the palace that servants attending their duties, soldiers on watch and courtiers alike would report sightings of her ghost at various locations within the palace and on the grounds. Each time, those who saw her described her as wearing a flowing white dress and a white veil, and claimed smelling the distinct odor of jasmine. Over time, reports of sightings Jocasta's spirit, and the accompanying presence of a jasmine scent, would be linked to several unusual events. The first was the time the scent was detected by Prince Imperial Elrood, later Emperor Elrood III, who followed it out into the corridor from his room shortly before the chandelier he had been standing under only moments earlier fell after its chain gave out. The most recent came when Emperor Emthoro IV smelled jasmine while in the Palace library. When he followed the scent to a nearby sitting area, he found his brother asleep, a lit pipe in his hand, which was moments from spilling its smoldering contents and lighting the chair Prince sat in on fire. Emthoro woke his brother, who suffered no ill effects.

The common factor with sightings of Jocasta's spirit is that she always first appears near the portrait of her that was painted in 6800, on the advent of her eighteenth birthday, which hangs in the Blue Parlour on the ground floor of the west wing. She also appears, according to legend, whenever the great grandfather clock in the Emerald Hall - where her wedding took place - strikes midnight on the anniversary of her wedding day. The sound of her harp - which still sits in the Music Room - can be heard in the late night hours on the anniversary of the day of her death. It is also claimed she typically wanders the palace on stormy nights, mourning and missing her lost beloved, and waiting eternally for his return.

Ferrun the Red

Born in 7414, Prince Ferrun Alberico Alexandros was the oldest son, and oldest of the four children, of Dynast Emperor Emthoro V's younger sibling, Princess Imperial Lavina Giulietta. As a boy, he was restless and imaginative, said to be gifted of a very bright and creative mind. Somewhat rebellious and difficult to manage, he was raised in the same firm but loving environment that has long been a hallmark of being raised an Alexandros. But as he came of age, his stubborn resistance to his parent's authority only grew, though he seemed to mellow after serving a ten-year tenure with the Imperial Army. After he stepped down from active service, he attended the University of Gaaze and acquired his medicinae magister in 7445. He specialized in the study of illness and seeking to better understand the symptoms, signs, and pathology of disease. He established a laboratory for himself in the palace basement, where he carried out his experiments, often times working 10 to 14 hours a day. His talents were unmistakable, and he was recognized as a brilliant and capable scientist and scholar. His family and those who knew him were confident that, in time, his efforts would vindicate him as one of the preeminent students of his craft when his legacy was considered by history.

This positive outlook, and the hope it had inspired, began to slowly dim, however. In 7449, quiet rumors began to make their way to Emthoro V of odd and disconcerting experiments Ferrun was conducting. While the use of animals - both living and dead - in medical studies was not uncommon, the whispers that he was subjecting living people to his experiments was considered a whole different matter. Initially, Emthoro refused to believe the reports, thinking his nephew above such abominable behaviors. Things came to a head in 7452, however, when a half-dead man with extensive surgical scars on his torso was found hiding in a storeroom in the basement by a servant. Word of this discovery quickly reached the emperor, who had Ferrun detained and had his test subjects either released if well enough or euthanized if too ill or incapacitated to function on their own. Emthoro V died soon after, however, and his successor, Dastari III, himself unable to believe what he had heard, ordered his nephew released.

The prince refused to give up his studies, however, and went back to his gruesome methods in short order. He went to great lengths to hide his experiments from his uncle, knowing that if his grandfather had reacted with outrage to his work, his uncle would do likewise. His secrecy held, without anyone outside of his small team of assistants knowing what he was doing, for nearly eight years. Test subjects who died were quietly smuggled to the palace boiler room and dumped in the furnace, leaving no trace of their existence. It wasn't until 7459 that the secrecy Ferrun maintained broke, when a test subject was able to scream aloud. The screams were heard by staff and guards alike, and Tentenal who rushed to trace its source discovered the prince with the dying man on his operating table, a bone saw in his hand, and a severed limb laying next to the victim.

Emperor Dastari ordered Ferrun seized, and had him locked away in the Tower of Cedelphia. A half dozen dead men and women were found in his laboratory, some with limbs surgically removed, some with strange procedures having been conducted on them, all showing signs of having been alive when worked on. The emperor ordered Ferrun's four assistants all executed by hanging, and left Ferrun in the Tower. For nearly six months, the prince languished in his dark cell, fed only one meal a day, which consisted of bread and water. In mid-7460, however, Dastari determined to eliminate Ferrun and make an example of him. He ordered the prince racked, before having him hanged. His body was cremated, and the ashes were scattered in an undisclosed location. Only two monuments to his ever having lived exist - an empty tomb with a small statue of him atop it sits in the Garden of Tranquil Repose behind the Scarlet Cathedral in Epoxague, and the portrait of him painted on his eighteenth birthday, which hangs in the palace library.

Ferrun's laboratory was locked up, and the emperor forbade anyone to talk of it or the prince. To modern times, the location of the laboratory remains a mystery, as no effort to re-discover it has yielded any fruit. It is said that the angry spirit of Ferrun sometimes wanders the halls of Veneziano, angry at his uncle for his death, angry for his research being interrupted. It is said that when Ferrun's spirit is on the prowl, the occasional screams of one of his victims can be heard echoing in the palace basement, chains can be heard rattling, painful moans are heard, or other sounds such as rushing wind or the bubbling of liquids. People near to where he is present will report being overcome with feelings of unease, almost to the point of sickness. The room they are in will begin to feel very cold, and will seem darker even with lights on. Those who have seen his ghost typically describe him as a tall, slender man in tasteful clothes, with shackles around his wrists and ankles, and chains wrapped around his torso. His face is described as "pale and hawkish, with black eyes".

The most recent sighting of Ferrun came atop a simultaneous reported sighting of the spirit of Jocasta, the Lady of Jasmine in mid-7552. Three housemaids cleaning a room in the south wing on a stormy afternoon reported suddenly being overcome with great feelings of unease and even sickness, and the rattling of chains was heard. A "dark presence" was said to be seen standing in the far corner, but none of them dared to approach it or speak to it. According those present, shortly afterward, the scent of jasmine manifested in the room and the ghost of Jocasta appeared. When he saw Jocasta, Ferrun fled from her. Why he did so remains unknown. The servants also said that Jocasta remained with them until their feelings of uneasiness passed, and then vanished. This remains the most recent sighting of both spirits, though their ethereal presence is still occasionally reported in various places throughout the palace.

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