Though smaller than many of the wings of the Great Houses in the Imperial Palace, the V'neef Wing lies quite close to the center of the Palace, a reflection of the Scarlet Empress' affection for her youngest daughter. The V'neef Wing is built in a small arc around a courtyard with a reflecting pool, and is surrounded by lush gardens that V'neef has had turned into a small vineyard with vines taken from her own Vineyard in the Qishi Prefecture, both a comforting bit of nostalgia for the House's founder, and a reminder to the other Houses of the source of V'neef's prosperity.
Inhabitants: The following members of House V'neef inhabit the V'neef Wing in the Imperial Palace:
- Main House: V'neef
- Familial Suites (Eastern): V'neef Mesara, V'neef Kenet, V'neef Isira, V'neef Urado;
- Familial Suites (Western): V'neef Lyhisa, V'neef Zirato, V'neef Lasaya, V'neef Waliya & Aiya; V'neef Shar
Courtyard & Galleries
The courtyard is a cobbled affair, crafted with stones taken from the Imperial Mountain itself. There are a variety of statues here and there, depicting figures from history, and a massive reflecting pool with a statue of the Scarlet Empress in its center. The statue is not the stern, regal ruler that so many depictions of her are. Instead, she is smiling coyly, as though she has a secret, and holding a lotus flower. The pool itself has many lotuses growing in it as well.
The galleries are all built according to the same principle: long hallways between main buildings with massive windowed walls that face the courtyard and the gardens. In the center of the galleries are small antechambers, salons and offices to provide easy and private spaces. Many of these chambers have sliding walls, allowing the household to shift the size of these spaces to fit the needs of the family.
The gallery that connects to the Hypocaust Towers features a single large lounge which the towers open onto, with seating sunken into the floor and simple food and wine available for those who've just enjoyed the relaxation of the Hypocaust Towers, and wish to socialize, eat and drink a little.
The first floor features a large entry foyer, with entries out onto the Galleries to either side of the main house as well. Attached to these are a selection of small side parlors, generally used as waiting and meeting areas for guests and visitors. Just past the entry foyer is a massive staircase hall, reaching all the way up to the fifth floor, with balconies on each level that overlook this area. Just past these are the kitchens and dining chambers, as well as a variety of household storage and servants' quarters.
Just up the massive staircase that leads to the second floor is the family parlour, a large, luxurious area with ample seating, a large bar stocked with the finest of drink and drugs, and a slave here at all times to tend to the needs of any family members who come here. This chamber, above all others, acts as the common gathering room for members of House V'neef present at the manor.
Balconies run along the side of the open stairwell space, leading to the rooftop gardens and the viewing gallery. Just beyond the family parlour is a selection of chambers the family consider their own: a family dining hall, much smaller and more intimate than the grand hall on the main floor; V'neef's solarium where she relaxes and often holds private audiences with guests and family members alike; and the ballroom at the very back of the building, used only during the House's infrequent great parties.
The stairs from the staircase hall open onto the house's nursery suite, where children too young for their own rooms are housed while growing up. This suite also includes a play area, dining room and the chambers of the head governess and the slave nannies she oversees. A locked door from the nursery suites leads to V'neef's suites - a massive bedchamber, with adjoining armory-wardrobe and bath-chambers. V'neef's offices and library are also tucked back here, and they connect via a small private staircase to her solarium below.
Fourth & Fifth Floors
These levels are closed off, having been deemed unnecessary at the moment. They consist of a variety of well-appointed and roomy suites. At the moment, with most of the household in the adjoining Familial Suites, there is no need for these rooms - V'neef's household simply isn't large enough to warrant these rooms being kept open.
The cellars are given over almost exclusively to the legendary V'neef wine cellars, overwatched by its Master Somellier and his wine-stewards, all slaves chosen for their grace and bearing to act as cup-bearers and wine-servers for the household. The Master Somellier's offices are located down here, as is the House's Wine Gallery, a luxuriously, sensuously appointed lounge intended solely for the consumption of the household's finest wines, usually while in the company of guests. Hidden beyond the mazes of wine-racks and walls with inset casks are two household secrets: the V'neef Vaults, Essence-defended vaults where much of the house's uninvested wealth and artifacts are stored, and the Hidden Study, the affectionate name for the area set aside for the use of Sorcery by household members.
The familial suites are three story buildings, with lavishly appointed suites throughout the building. Each floor has an extensive, multi-room suite at each end, with smaller two- and three-room suites between them. The ground floor has a small set of kitchens and dining area (although most of the larger suites include dining facilities), as well as a selection of single rooms often given to single, less important members of the family.
In the Eastern Familial Suites, V'neef Mesara dwells on the second floor in the main suites there, with her children Isira and Urado in their own smaller adjoining suites. There are also suites for her other, absent children, Mahina, Takaro and Aliset, who are all away traveling or at school. Mesara's first-born Kenet also dwells in the larger set of suites on the other side of the first floor. The third floor remains uninhabited, and closed up.
In the Western Familial Suites, V'neef Lyhisa (and Atufu, when he is home) occupies the third floor in the main suites on one end, with her twin daughters Sitia and Haria laying claim to the main suites on the other end (although they are away at the House of Bells). The other suites of this floor are filled, all allocated to Lyhisa and Atufu's children. V'neef Shar dwells in one of the main suites on the second floor, and the other suites of this floor are in half-preparation for the visit of any members of V'neef's blood family who come to visit (most other members of the House are put up in Guest Quarters).
The galleries that connect the Familial Suites with the Guest Quarters also connect to a set of squat stone Hypocaust Towers, featuring hot baths and hypocaust rooms, and upper-story "wind galleries" - large open chambers at the top of the towers intended to permit sky-gazing, sunbathing and relatively private enjoyment of the winds.
The ground floor of these towers feature large central chambers with several baths in them - a large, round bath of hot spring water, a smaller bath of quite cold water and a set of tubs set into the floor with sluice openings above them, allowing for a quick scrub-down before entering either of the larger tubs.
Aside from the entry from the galleries, and the large glass window that looks out onto the gardens, the sides of the towers are entirely taken up by multiple hypocaust rooms, warm brick and wood chambers with wooden benches, and thin vents in the floor from which rises the steam of the hot springs below. There are six of these rooms, four of them small chambers for no more than four or so people, and the last two large enough to host parties of up to a dozen people.
It is not uncommon to find members of the household bathing and relaxing here, and much of the household business goes on in one of the large tubs. V'neef herself favors a morning constitutional every morning, with some time in a hypocaust, followed by a quick scrub and then some lingering time in the hot pool, where she often enjoys a breakfast of watered wine and fruit. It is not uncommon for family members to join her.
The guest quarters are lavishly appointed, with live-in slaves whose sole responsibility is to keep these quarters permanently ready for any guests who may arrive, and to serve them in any capacity while they're there. The ground floor of each of these buildings has a formal dining area, a ballroom and several small salon lounges off of those, with massive walls of glass that face the gardens. On the second and third floors, foyers lead to several sets of double doors, each leading to expensively appointed accommodations, large suites of several rooms each.
The entry towers are tall spires with a guard room on the ground floor, and an armory in the basements beneath it. Above that floor, the spire holds a barracks and mess hall for the House guards, as well as a set of smaller, simple rooms for any guards or slaves that guests may bring with them.
The V'neef stables are a gorgeous stone and wood structure, nearly half-covered in ivy. The building holds spaces for twenty horses, plus a small veterinarian's station off to one side. The loft level above the stables is where the fodder - oats and hay, generally - are stored, along with simple sleeping arrangements for the stablehands.