Two Twines - The Elven Embassy
In the words of the Great Bard Taslinus Excellencus . . . yet on entering The Embassy one is conscious of calm and complete beauty echoing the mood of majesty and peace that is the essential quality of The Valley and Greater Elven Kingdom. . . . against a background of forest and precipice the architect has nestled the great structure of granite, scaling his design with sky and space and stone. To the interior all ornamentation has been confined, and therein lies a miracle of color and design. The Ancient Elven motifs, primitive yet timeless, are supreme . . . . The designs are stylized with tasteful sophistication; decidedly Ancient Elven, yet decidedly more than Elf, they epitomize the involved and intricate symbolism of Man . . .
The Human and Elves had skirmished and warred for most of recent time. Two peoples with so much in common, yet alien enough that they could not find a common ground to build the lasting friendship that many on both sides desired. Such a common ground had to be built, lest the Peoples of Light fall to themselves rather than The Dark Ones.
The Two Twines that were the Peoples need to be woven together, to form one stronger rope. To make such a twine, both would have to be in the same place, to twirl and dance together.
Thus PlaceofSpirallingTwoTwinestoStrengthentheDanceofTime was to be created. However Elves and Men were two very different species. Elves built, if they built at all, with sculpted growing things. Humans could only master dead matter, yet they could touch iron. Humans slept and ate because they had too, while Elves seldom if ever did so. Humans need protection from the elements, while Elves were part of them. Elves kzwan, Humans are unable. And the language of Humans was so simple as to be difficult for the Elves.
Then there was fire, bane to the living world the Elves cherished. Fire the destroyer. Fire the changer. In addition it danger it presented to the Elven Home Forests, it was the practically the symbol of all things wrong (and Evil, though they do not have that word or concept) for the Elven kind. Yet, humans handled this chaos regularly. They even seemed to required it for their everyday lives.
Humans also did not understand The Order of Things. The Elves had an intuitive grasp of the world's pattern. Not only did this allow them to shape the pattern (do magic in Human speak), but made sure their creations and gathering places were in harmony with all. Humans simply did things, Human buildings sent such echos and discordance in the pattern of things.
Thus it began.
Underwood was chosen to be the designer/ creator of the Embassy. He had spent time in Human Lands. He understood things like building, cooking, and sleep, (as much as any elf could). And, most importantly, he had watched how they built their great buildings. While these permanent blots of stone and wood upon the landscape offend the Elves and the pattern, there was sometimes great esthetics in their work. That he tried to capture.
In designing the building Underwood took great care in choosing the materials and the treatment of the materials. The design, though mixing human and elven ideals, would be have to be mostly wood. But there were issues with that.
To meet elven sensibilities, there should be few straight lines and there would need to be "comfortable" wood here, preferably in large amounts. A number of trees were choosen for the project. Most were fine grain pines. A few trees "with character", i.e. knots, were included so there would not be such a homogenous look. A variety of finishes would help mix the wood effects. The removal of so much living wood was a problem for some Elves. Just gathering supplies for the embassy almost stopped the project.
Natural stone was an ideal substitute as a building material, but totally unsuited for a larger building. Underwood thought long and hard and choose weathered granite set in the wall with only the weathered face exposed. This treatment would someday become the standard for rustic buildings using masonry in all the lands. This made it seem more "natural" and lacking the artificialness of smooth sided stone it disturbed the flow of things less. More stone was added to the design, almost too much for Elven comfort.
More wood was the cry. However, that much wood (even with the increased amount of stone) and this much fire made too much risk for the Elves involved. Something that would not burn, yet was still as comforting as wood had to be found. After many attempts, a solution was found. Mystically shaped stone was then designed to imitate wood in color, form, and texture. This wood that was stone was used for most of the large supports, framing of the stonework, and large exposed pieces. They help support and contain the building.
With the supports and large elements of enchanted stone wood for safety and support, there could be warm worked wood throughout the embassy. Most of the interior has wood trim, wood floors, wood panels, wood handles, wood furniture, wood plates and eatingware, and so on.
Underwood's blocky masses of the building that stepped up the structure to the penthouse gave the building a physical presence in architecture that was parallel to the presence of Great Stone Domes in nature. It echoed the grandeur of the Great Earth Water Valley. Underwood succeeded in his assignment of designing a building that fit with its magnificent setting.
The Embassy was built in the east end of the Great Earth Water Valley. Sited in a meadow, the building's large scale is diminished by the awesome beauty of the sheer granite cliffs of the north valley wall above.
Elves aided Humans in the construction. The creation process was difficult as the two alien cultures tried to work together. Luckily, most of the human builders had been recruited from ex-warriors who had joined with the Elves at the Battle of Darkcreig. Knowing the Elves were "good folk", not the demon like things of folklore, they were able to put aside any fear, hatred, and confusion and worked with them. The process was good for both sides as skills were exchanged and initial diplomatic ideals and assumptions were created. As was understood by the Elves (and slowly learned by the Humans), the process of embassy creation did more for laying the foundation of Human Elf relationships, than simply having meetings in any court.
Once created, the Two Twines Embassy was a fine structure. Not only was it large enough for several royal retinues, it was in harmony enough for Elves to be there without pain.
The Building Itself
The building has an irregular, asymmetrical plan that is Y-shaped and contains 150,000 square feet. Primary building materials are rough-cut granite and enchanted stone. The uncoursed granite rubble masonry of the piers matches the color of the adjacent cliffs. What looks like wood siding and structural timbers between the piers is actually mystically shaped stones, shaped and colored to look like horizontal redwood siding and large rough milled timbers. The stain on the shaped stone, similar in color to pine bark and redwood lumber, reinforces that illusion that the stone is wood.
The building is massed into several enormous blocks with a six-story central block and wings of three stories. The multiple hip and gable roofs are finished with green slate and further break up the building's form, making it appear as rough and textured as the surrounding landscape. The building has balconies and terraces at several different levels that add a spatial interest not only to the exterior but also to the visitor experiencing the interior of the building.
The Embassy contains approximately ninety rooms for guests and staff, various public spaces and meeting rooms, an enormous dining room, and utility spaces. The principal entrance to the building is through a porte-cochere on the north side of the building. The log and wood entrance contains painted decorations in geometric patterns of the ancient Elven, setting a tone for the interior. (Ancient Humans had similar patterns though The Humans seldom know that.) This entrance serves mainly as a utilitarian space to funnel people to the building's interior, and to the views of the grassy meadow to the south and the impressive vistas, seen from most of the rooms. The main entrance is more subdued than noteworthy; the most impressive views of the hotel are from the southern meadows.
The Embassy is lit by an odd mix of ElfLights, HearthStones, and candles. His humans are unable to manipulate ElfLights and HearthStones, they tend to be only in open common areas. (The ElfLight's warm glow is well complimented by the light of candles and fireplaces). In fact, personal rooms were originally heated by Hearthstones, but that policy changed. Humans were fearful of the items since they could not control them and they could be set to "broil" anything in the room (or turned off to freeze someone) by any Elf nearby. The Elves apologized and the rooms now have extra blankets, fireplaces, and warm air from the common rooms via nearly hidden vents. (Small Hearthstones are available from the staff for Elven or magical guests).
The north wing of the Embassy contains the First Hall (i.e. Lobby), decorated with floor mosaics of Ancient Elven designs executed in brightly colored rubber tiles. The cornice is stenciled with Crol-Elven-design paintings (geometric patterns reminiscent of South West Indian patterns). The First Hall continues the Ancient Elven designs with sawn-wood reliefs on the elevator doors and an abstract mural based on Crol-Elven basket patterns over the fireplace in that room.
The Great Lounge's 24-foot-high ceiling has exposed girders and beams painted with bands of Ancient Elven designs. The exposure of the ceiling's structure gives the spatial impression of a coffered ceiling. The enormous fireplaces at opposite ends of the Lounge are cut sandstone. The wrought-iron chandeliers and Imperial tapestries hanging on the walls, and the wood furnishings.
Other Imperial rugs, primarily replacements, are on the polished wooden floor of the Great Lounge. The floor-to-ceiling windows in the Great Lounge have 5x6-foot stained glass panels at the top, with handsome designs based on geometric patterns, but like many of the other interior elements done with a flatness similar to Art Deco architecture.
Directly off the Lounge are two grand rooms and the solarium that overlooks the southern meadow. The two rooms have murals that run the full length of one wall and depicts local flora and fauna in a style reminiscent of medieval tapestries.
The large dining room (6,630 square feet) has a gable-roofed ceiling 34 feet high at the ridge. The walls are massive granite piers interspersed with 11 floor-to-ceiling windows with the exception of the partition wall between the kitchen and dining room which has a six-foot wainscotting of wood panelling with plaster above. The sugar-pine roof trusses are supported by mystically shaped stone "logs" again painted in imitation of the real thing. Original wooden furniture and wrought-iron chandeliers (Human Gifts) remain in use.
Originally the dining room was a "human space", a large hall with long tables and orderly chairs. While perfect for the Humans, the Elves felt out of place in this rigid orderly space. To make the Elves more comfortable, the Humans suggested they should make changes. So they did. There is actually a small stream with a tiny waterfall running through the room. There is a bridge over it near the middle of the room. There are dozens of extra "trees", mystically shaped stone "logs" supporting the roof now. They have additional greens added to them, making thems seem more natural. There are even three miniature trees planted in the room, as well as a few dozen ferns boxes, to add to the Elven feel. There are glass panes in the ceiling, allowing for more daylight. Now the smaller tables are nestled in made landscape. It is like you are outside or in a natural space. Yet it is still warm. (See http://www.santacruzpl.org/history/tourism/brookdal.shtml )
Also included within the boundaries of this dominion are the meadow directly south of the Embassy, the stone gatehouse marking the entrance to the property, the coach house, horse enclosures, the small pond and walkways at the building's entrance, directly north of the porte-cochere.
The Embassy is based on the Ahwahnee in Yosemite. If you need help visualizing it... http://www.webportal.com/ahwahnee/ OR http://images.google.com/images?q=ahwahnee&hl=en&btnG=Search+Images (image.yahoo.com search ahwahnee)
Plotlines 1: Early Days: A problem pops up with someone being harmed by the heating system. The rooms are heated by Hearthstones. Humans were fearful of the items since they could not control them and they could be set to "broil" anything in the room (or turned off to freeze someone) by any Elf nearby. SOmeone may turn it off by accident or attempt mischief and turn it up. Freaking the humans out.
Plotline 2: Early Days - The Elves are uncomfortable in this huge rigid dinning hall that is comfortable for the humans. it gets to the point where dignitaries will not eat with Humans... creating a round of insults. Someone needs to find a solution.
Plotline 3: Elves sleep on "the ground" or a floor mat. People start getting touchy about having the wrong kind of sleeping arrangements, especially if the place is overcrowded.
Plotline 4: A human party is snowed in, trapped here for various reasons. (The Elves try not to laugh at the Humans lack of nature craft). The supplies here are running a bit low, as they were not expected to stay.
Plotline 5: An important human staying in next room mere existance is disturbing the kzwan of an Elven functionary. The Human will not move, nor will the Elf. The two need to be seperated.
Plotline 6: In a related events, Humans keep disturbing (or trying to disturb) Elves kzwaning. While Kzwan, they appear to be staring off into space or even sleeping (while sitting, standing, or so on). Servants ask questions of them, others looking for them actually touch them. One Elf was so angered by this breach of personal zamba (a concept no Elf seems to have a good translation for), that he assaulted several humans in his immediate area and proceeded to attack others. Both sides seek greivences and see themselves as "in the right".
Plotlines 7: Some human child picked a number of flowers in the south meadow. The Elves are all up in arms about the disturbance.
Plotline 8: (Optional) A group of Human Clerics have come to the Embassy with another party. The Clerics have been against these monsters for centuries. To make matters worse, certain holy items can cause Elves pain and Holy Water can be a weapon against them. This has created a great deal of tension in the Elf population here. Yet the diplomatic mission they are attached to is important.
Various Plotlines: Diplomatic missions of all sorts come here. Humans who don't like each other might be here at the same time bringing Embassy to the Elves. You will have Human vs Human diplomatic shuffling, occasionally dragging the Elves into it.
There are a lot of touchpoints here between the two species. Unseasy truce, alliances only to fight Dark Ones, totally alien mindsets. Any number of misunderstandings can arise. These can make what would be a simple diplomatic scenario into a complicated one. The PCs, of course, will have to help mend fences and such.
Other options would the the traditional Mystery (Murder or Theft) and any number of Espionage related scenarios.
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? Responses (13)-13
As you can tell, these are not your Tolkein Elves. These are not humans with pointed ears and bows. They are alien peoples, who truly are part of the world and magic, so different from the human perspective. I will eventually do a write up for them as well.
You can tone this down to fit your view of Elves.
Oh and 99% of the 130 hits are mine that I did while working on it.
Ok this one definately deserves a 5.0+ somethine else.
It flows in a very reader friendly direction from one section to the next.
The story behind it fits well with the concept of the building.
Did I mention it was long and detailed as well?
This is a great submission. While it is very specific and not really world friendly for my world it none-the-less is a very interesting and thought out read.
Two pawns up Moon... its great.
Hey I got paws up from someone else! That is cool.
I like the idea a lot.
Updated: spelling correction
*begins drooling* Verisimilitude.... Detail... Fluff... Awesome...
If I had the ability to give HoH votes, I would, and as soon as I can, I will.
*mops up Roack's drool*
I personally think this deserves a 7.5, but I'm just going to have to give it a five. It's original, covers EVERYTHING, and is detailed. This is a great example of what great posts should look like.
It is easy to see that you want so much with this. I love the detail about the ElfLights, HearthStones and Candles. Sweet touch. I can do naught but tip my hat for the effort that went into this.
Still... In my heart I feel there is something missing. The last brick in the wall so to speak.
Anyhow: Great job MoonHunter! Two paws up!
So when do we get the Elves?
My interest caught the historical significance of an elf/man creation that may have created the bonds that have lasted for generations. I like that as an arcing idea in an adventure. That way you can have antagonism between elf/man and also have the friendships that so many adventure teams need to have but often times fail to fully explain.
Same type of situation can be used with dwarfs just changing the type building.
A few excellent plot lines too.
I seem to have the same feeling as AG as something, I don't know what, is missing. Just a slight tug of wanting something more. Wish I could give a specific. Awesome submission and well worthy of the 5 regardless of any psychosis I might have.
It is very detailed and complete, yet it seems to lack... spice? Spice.
An interesting thought might be a common meeting place for dwarf and elf, or for dwarf and human, as suggested by Strolen.
Echo, if these were garden variety, humans with pointed ears kind of Elves, then I agree, there is no point. These are not those kind of Elves. These are Elves with a totally alien view of the universe.
I like this place a lot - and if you have difficulty integrating elves this odd, than simply add them as a different type of elf different from your traditional ones.
I expect these elves would view Tolkienesque elves as no better than half-elves if elves at all.