The Vineyards Estate is a massive estate that is the primary estate of House V'neef. It was given to V'neef on her wedding day to Cynis Chosul by the Scarlet Empress, and includes two villages, several Manses, thousands of acres worth of both game-heavy woodland and productive vineyards, plus a main estate house and a handful of hunting lodges and other noteworthy structures. It also features several miles of shoreline along the northern edge of the Blessed Isle.
Inhabitants: The following members of House V'neef reside at the Vineyards: V'neef Chosul and his son, V'neef Imiros.
The Vineyards Estate of House V'neef
Wood Aspected Manse ••••
The Vineyards Estate - officially on the Imperial records as the Ebony Hall of Verdance Resplendent - is a massive manse. Its walls are constructed of green-jade-inset ebony that retains a highly lustrous sheen, with swathes of ivy growing up its grand walls. It is vast and palatial, with a central house and four separate towered wings that branch off of it.
The Ebony Hall was one of the Empress' favored country estates in the early days of the Scarlet Empire, and she retained personal control of it for most of her time on the throne. She retired here to give birth to V'neef, and sequestered herself in these halls for the first five years of V'neef's life, formally moving her court here - withdrawing invitations to the Great Houses to her court while doing so, in fact, a slap in the face most of them have not forgotten.
The Vineyards Estate is much quieter these days. Only Chosul, V'neef's husband and their youngest son, Imiros live here permanently. The rest of the House has a standing invitation to visit, of course, and all of V'neef's direct children have rooms here - it is where they were all raised, for the most part. The estate house itself has twenty or so suites throughout its length, not including the massive Lord's Wing and Lady's Wing, the portions of the manse set aside for Chosul and V'neef respectively.
Chosul himself bears the Song of Life Stone, the Hearthstone generated in the estate's Great Hall (its placement an Imperial seal of green jade mounted above the hearth, just behind the paired seats of V'neef and Chosul). He uses its powers to great effect, wandering through the portions of the vineyards that are not currently being worked by slaves, his mandolin in hand, singing. Through these efforts, the vineyards of the estate are kept in a constant state of harvest, year-round (although he does not go on his walks during winter). As a result, each of the vineyards boasts as many as a dozen full harvests every year.
Fishing & Shipping Village
Located about a half-day from the Estate house by horse, Bright Tide is a coastal village that boasts a shallow harbor and extensive docks of cargo barges, fishing boats and pleasure craft. Bright Tide is primarily a shipping haven; the majority of V'neef wine sales from the Vineyards Estate and other nearby vineyards go through here. The center of town is the V'neef Caskhouse, a large set of warehouses that also double as a sales floor - potential buyers who visit can sample vintages and then purchase them in bulk on the spot. Though the town's harbor is too shallow for most mercantile ships, there are plenty of cargo barges that can ferry all large cargo purchases out to anchored ships for a small fee.
The village is also a fishing village to some degree - before the V'neef prosperity, it was solely a fishing village of no real account. Other than the V'neef Caskhouse, the only other notable structures are a small Immaculate temple, the Sanctified Hall of Five Glories, and the V'neef-owned Wave-Kissed Retreat, a Water-aspected Manse built into the cliff-face just south of the harbor proper.
Wine Country Village
Located in the middle of the Estate's vast vineyards, most of the residents of Tanglevine make a living with something associated with the V'neef wine industry. The village itself - which is about an hour's travel from the Estate house by horse - has grown from the tiny hamlet it once was before the founding of House V'neef, and even now it threatens to grow into something like a full town in a the near future. Tanglevine is filled with craftsmen creating wagons, barrels and similar implements needed in the vintner's craft, as well as ample workers for the Heliotrope Hall, the wine-house that is the center of the town. The product of all V'neef vineyards for two days radius end up in the Heliotrope Hall. It is rumored that the cellars beneath the Hall have vast chambers filled with aging wine worth fortunes, and that it has a tunnel that leads to the Vineyards Estate.
The market in Tanglevine is impressive, as many merchants who are here to purchase wine to take elsewhere on the Island show up with goods intended to tempt the locals and residents of the Estate house. As such, there are luxurious goods that communities of this size rarely see. And since Heliotrope Hall pays its workers very well, they have income to spend on plenty of such luxuries. It is a common sight to see folk from the Estate house (locally referred to as "the big house") down to do a little shopping.
About a third of Tanglevine is a walled-off section that has houses and amenities for the V'neef slaves who work the fields. At night, the slaves are confined to the portion of town "behind the walls." Slaves are not permitted outside of the walls, and non-slaves are not permitted within them once the sun sets. The area behind the walls has its own taverns and entertainment intended to keep the slaves docile, and it is well known that the Master of the Walls, the slave-keeper for House V'neef, pays good money to entertainers to provide a night's enjoyment for his wards.
The Vineyards Estate is a perfect example of the kind of densely packed geomantic development that marks the Blessed Isle. There are a total of eighteen Manses scattered throughout its borders, not including the Estate house proper.
- The Tsunayi Aerie (Air ••): At the southwestern edge of the Vineyards Estate lies Mount Tsunayi, a modest mountain in what is effectively the very beginnings of the range that eventually culminates in the Imperial Mountain. Half of this mountain lies within the estate lands, and perched at the highest point of this mountain is the Aerie, a glass-enclosed structure of stone and blue jade. Members of the House have turned it into a sort of retreat space over the years, though it remains abandoned most of the time. The manse's hearthstone, a Gem of Surface Thoughts is in the possession of V'neef Kenet.
- Pillar of Lustrous Brume (Air X): A tall lighthouse on the shoreline of the estate, the Pillar is said to have been constructed by Bringer of Light, the folkloric manse-architect responsible for the creation of the manse-lighthouses along the northern shore of the Blessed Isle. The Pillar is still a functioning lighthouse, with a staff who operate it, including a small staff of geomancer thaumaturges who keep the manse operational. The manse's hearthstone, a XXX is in the possession of XXX.
- The Amethyst Grotto (Earth X): Once an amethyst mine, the Grotto was discovered once the miners had delved deep enough to uncover the Demesne beneath the earth at the center of the amethyst cluster. It was immediately shut down and claimed by the Empire, and the Demesne capped with a subterranean Manse. Though amethyst can no longer be mined from the site for fear of disrupting the occult architecture of the manse, it does periodically generate clusters of a rare deep violet amethyst that can be harvested. In the years since the founding of House V'neef, this gleaming white jade and amethyst structure has been the source of conflict between House V'neef and House Ragara, who claim that the manse is actually within one of their estate boundaries. The manse's hearthstone, a XXX, is in the possession of XXX.
- The August Hall of the Ablescent Dragon (Earth X): An Immaculate monastery since before the estate was in V'neef hands, the Immaculate Order retains mastery of this manse - though they do so by the will of V'neef. Situated in a valley between rice paddies in the small portion of the V'neef estate that grows rice and other grains, the Abbot Ledaal Myoshi, has sworn that any V'neef scions who find their way into the Immaculate Order will always have a place here. The manse's hearthstone, a XXX is in the hands of Abbot Myoshi.
- The Sable Loamfast (Earth X): This manse is an extremely defensible fort, located directly in the middle of a valley. Due to the power of the earthen Essence that roars down these Dragon Lines, the earth of the valley is extremely rich and black. Since the estate was taken by House V'neef, the loam here is used to grow the finest of V'neef's pale grapes, used to make their extremely prestigious white wine, the coveted Summer Pale. The fort itself is crafted of granite and white jade, and is surrounded by small crofts where slaves and hired workers alike dwell, harvesting the near year-round crop of the valley. The manse's hearthstone, a XXX is in the possession of XXX.
There are no fire-aspected manses in the Vineyards Estates.
- Wineflow Hall (Water ••): A manse situated directly in the middle of the V'neef wine country, Wineflow Hall is a simple building (as far as manses go), made up of a large hall and two towers that flank it. Part of the manse serves House V'neef as a cellars for the wines made in this part of the estate, but other than that it stands open for any of the House who are attuned to it to use as a get-away. By tradition (or perhaps, habit), Celtis always takes up residence here when he visits, which isn't often. The manse's hearthstone, a Vintner's Stone is currently in the possession of V'neef Atufu.
- The Bridal Bower (Water ••): A beautiful manse on an island in the middle of Bride's Lake, the front courtyard (which includes a small set of docks) of this manse looks out directly at the Veiled Bride. The Bridal Bower is an excellent example of the ways in which manses can be created to fulfill extravagant expectations of Essence-driven luxury. By House tradition, every female Exalt of the House who gets married spends a month here with her new husband, just the two of them and servants. She is also given the hearthstone of the Bower, and only wives of the House are attuned to this manse (and thus may visit it any time they like). The manse's hearthstone, a Mind Clearing Gem is currently in the possession of V'neef Aola, the last woman of the House to marry.
- Wave-Kissed Retreat (Water X): The retreat is built into the side of a set of cliffs, just south of Bright Tide village. A small sea-cavern juts into the cliff-face beneath it, providing access to the elaborate First Age docks within, currently in use by House V'neef for a yacht and one or two other pleasure-craft. The manse's hearthstone, a XXX is currently in the possession of one of the House's scions, XXX.
- Boughflow House (Water X): A manse built to take advantage of the powerful Dragon Line that runs down the Boughflow River, Boughflow House serves not only to cap the Demesne at this site, but to also act as a bridge-house, controlling access from one side of the river to the other. The majority of the rooms are in chambers above the bridge-hall proper, which can be sealed and locked by the will of the hearthstone bearer. The manse's hearthstone, a XXX is currently in the possession of XXX.
- The Yew-Heavy Grove (Wood X): A manse clearly built with martial endeavors in mind, House V'neef has turned this into the primary headquarters and garrison of the Seventeenth Legion, one of the V'neef Legions. The strategoi of the Seventeenth all maintain long-term quarters here, and part of its structure has been turned into the Legion's central armory. The vast courtyard in front of it sees frequent drills, and it is flanked by a series of barracks for those soldiers (usually legionnaires resting between assignments or new recruits being trained). A small farming hamlet nearby farms rice, though it is known for the quality of its bowyers, who have generations of craftsmen making use of the yew trees that surround the manse to make excellent bows. The manse's hearthstone, a XXX is currently in the possession of XXX.
- Meliorate's Abode (Wood X): This modest manse sits in the middle of V'neef wine country. Its workers are some of the healthiest and halest of the entire estate, and with good reason - the Essence in this area flows thick with healing resonance. The Abode is often used by members of the House (and occasionally allies or legionnaires from the Seventeenth) as a place of rest and recuperation. The presence of a small but very competent staff of healers also makes it a place that many of the estate's residents travel to, as House V'neef has declared that residents of the estate who are ill or injured have only to get to the Abode, and they will be treated to the best ability of those healers. The manse's hearthstone, a XXX is currently in the possession of XXX.
- The Great Conservatory (Wood X): A massive garden with a relatively small structure of glass, dark wood, fieldstone and green jade in its center, the Conservatory boasts an incredible variety of plants. Greens that should not be able to grow in the climate of the area do so, and well. Located in the middle of V'neef wine country, House V'neef uses the Conservatory to test the growth and development of new breeds of grape and other berries with the intention of sowing the finished breed in their greater vineyards. The hearthstone chamber is located in the glass enclosed central structure - the great bowers and hedges of the Conservatory grounds form the occult architecture of the manse. The manse's hearthstone, a XXX is currently in the possession of XXX.
- The Oaken Copse (Wood X): Partially surrounded by a grove of oak trees, this manse is built as a defensible keep. It is fairly old, dating back at least as far as the Shogunate, and still has the scars of battle on it. Though it is in the middle of some of V'neef's vineyards, the locals have no interaction with it. It is generally sealed up, unless members of the House choose to open it - a rare event, as the accommodations are relatively spartan. The manse's hearthstone, a XXX is currently in the possession of XXX.
- The Viridian House (Wood X): Enwrapped with grape vines over its outer walls is the Viridian House. The crops it produces are rich and full, as part of the manse's Essence is directed into the fertility of the land around it. The Viridian House acts as the main headquarters for the wine-selling operations of House V'neef, and is technically overseen by Chosul, although its day-to-day operations are tended by a mortal great-nephew of his. The manse's hearthstone, a XXX is currently in the possession of XXX.
- The Palace Bacchanal (Wood X): Of the vintages of wine that come from the Vineyards Estate, none are so rare or costly as the Crimson Bacchanal. The Empress' favorite table wine, Crimson Bacchanal is crafted in this vintner-manse, from the brilliant scarlet grapes that grow around it. The Essence-driven processes here are nearly unique in Creation, and it produces a heady and potent wine capable of inebriating even the Exalted. The manse's hearthstone, a XXX is currently in the possession of XXX.
- The Monarch's Hall (Wood X): A favored hunting lodge used by members of the House and their guests, the "monarch" of the manse's name refers to a massive ten-tined stag's head above the hearth in the main hall. The hall has ample guesting space, and a small staff of servants and "stalkers" whose jobs are to warden the Farnal Woodlands and help keep its wildlife populations high for good hunting. The manse's hearthstone, a XXX is currently in the possession of XXX.
- The Manse of Nine Elms (Wood X): A fairy-tale treefort-manse, the Manse of Nine Elms is built in the tops of a copse of massive elm trees, with individual chambers formed by the upper boughs of trees carefully shaped into the structures. The individual trees are connected by rope and wood walkways, and feature a variety of rope ladders, climbing ropes and even a modest pulley-system elevator to get into the structure. The manse's hearthstone, a XXX is currently in the possession of XXX.
- The Shattered Hall (Wood Demesne X): Once called the Hall of Carvings, the Shattered Hall was a simple but elegant structure crafted of panels of carven wood, inlaid with green jade. At some point before the founding of House V'neef, however, a massive tree fell on the structure during a storm, damaging it badly. The site has reverted to a demesne, and some of the House's foresters report that they've seen scavengers in the ruins picking out pieces of valuable jade to sell. The cost of repairing the manse is quite extensive, and for many decades, other expenses have remained the V'neef priority. The manse currently does not produce a hearthstone.
Other Notable Features
- The Farnal Woodlands: X
- Bride's Lake & The Veiled Bride: Lake formed at base of waterfall, carved into the shape of a woman (V'neef), with a veil of water pouring down her.
- The Boughflow River: River that flows into Bride's Lake, from the forest.