Name of building: Justice Hall, Halls of Justice, or the Courthouse
Submitted by: Scott Bonner
Type of building: 4-story stone and brick structure, with 3-story wings.
Business conducted: Arylon's Legal Affairs
Owner: City property
Number and Types of Employees:
Description of Building:
Fittingly enough, Arylon's Justice Hall was originally a prison. The first structure to stand on the current site was built in 1098. Amn held Arylon then, using the Chionthar as a primary trade route as they continued to build new trade ways. On what was then the north end of Arylon, Amn built a prison to hold criminals captured on the waterways. The original building was a 2-story stone structure with two additional floors below ground.
In 1178, with less trade passing along the river as the overland tradeways neared completion, the prison was closed. Grand Magister Dartlansh, the fourth ruler of Arylon appointed by Amn, took the former prison and surrounding lands as his own. Dartlansh endeavored to fix his place in history through monument. He seized for city ownership a series of gardens and parks between the prison house and the central gate of the wall that runs along the center of the city. He razed the structures there and began building a massive park and finding suitable statues and fountains to fill it, pronouncing it the Promenade Walk and renaming the central gate Promenade Gate. He took the prison house and tore down the aboveground parts of the structure, keeping and expanding what lay below. In its place he began building a manor house, which he called a palace, to serve as both his private residence and the seat of city government. Dartlansh was determined to build a city-state to be turned over to expanding Amn.
Dartlansh was ill fated. To pay for the structure and park, he not only bled the city of wealth but also began taxing traders more heavily and, foolishly, stealing from Amn's share of Arylon's profits. In addition, he became increasingly self-absorbed, eccentric, and petty. In two years he built his monument, drained the city of much of its wealth, and as a consequence was deposed. He lived in his palace for 48 days before the Amnian government forced him to return to his country of birth.
But the palace remained and continued to serve as the seat of government. Shortly thereafter, many of Arylon's judges moved their practice out of private residences and into the structure. Because of this, and for political reasons, the palace was renamed The Halls of Justice, or Justice Hall. Eventually, the next ruler placed by Amn took up residence in Justice Hall.
Dartlansh had hoped to impress Amn with his sturdiness and his commitment to Amnian culture. He requisitioned a huge, 4-story block-like structure with two large 3-story wings angling back and north from the central block.
The entire structure forms a shallow, angular crescent of thick buildings. The walls are fortress-like, with smooth, unadorned surfaces and rows of very small, tall windows. The design proved intimidating and somewhat defensible. To show his devotion to Amnian culture, Dartlansh then decorated his massive creation with elements of southern architecture. He kept the walls smooth, but decorated the seams of the structure with a six foot wide strip of intricate bas-relief carvings celebrating southern art. To each corner of the central building he added a short onion dome tower. He built an ornate and massive double door to serve as the front entrance, and an equally ornate set of doors at the rear. He turned the plot of land encompassed by the arms of the building into an ornate maze garden and planted thick hedges to shelter it from commoners. Finally, he built his escape, a long tunnel running from beneath his palace to a stone storehouse owned by the city. Inside, he kept the structure stark and spacious, even lonely in its barrenness. In 1241 invading orcs failed to take it, the damage was quickly repaired, and Inner Ward was rebuilt around this proud and imposing structure.
The construction has remained essentially unchanged until modern day. The front doors enter into a central hall 120 feet long, 40 feet deep, and three stories high not counting the arched roof. Two huge pillars help support the weight of the ceiling and provide meeting points for the veins of two dome arches. Outside, the shallow domes are barely visible from nearby buildings due to a stone facade reaching up ten feet from the walls of the central hall, and a secret walkway forms an "S" shape between them to connect the wings in times of emergency. To the rear of the central hall are the Garden Doors.
To either side of the central hall are two lesser halls, forming the wings that angle north where they join with the central hall. Each is 60 feet long, 40 feet deep, and 15 feet high. Above these halls are 2 low stories of smaller rooms, making the wings as tall as the central hall. The west wing holds what is currently the meeting chamber of the city magistrates. Each of the two wings has been turned over to government offices, private chambers for the magistrates, and little-used courtrooms. Nearly one third of each wing is essentially used as storage space. No one lives in Justice Hall, though Silver Crescents guard it at all hours.