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|Duchy of Leidenstad
|Kingdom of Cryria
|House of Leidensen
Despite the name, Leidenstad Castle is not actually located in the capital city. Rather, it is positioned among the hills outside the city, from where it overlooks the point where the River Leiden meets Lake Lasi, itself an important river junction vital for transportation throughout the interior of Älmark. Leidenstad Castle was built to be the center of a larger network of medieval fortifications defending the capital, and its location effectively allows it to control transit between the city and the interior.
The lakeside below is home to more palatial estates belonging to the House of Leidensen, including Tvillingblom Palace. These more extensive and comfortable accommodations were historically used for festivities and the day to day gathering of the Royal Court, while the Castle above offered a fortified sanctuary in times of crisis. The nearby Elskov Arsenal provided a more modern defense of the strategic Lake Lasi area throughout the Absolute Era.
The nearest settlement is the village of Kamburn, which began as a barracks for workers building Tvillingblom, and further developed to support the royal family's nearby estates. The Kamburn Royal Arsenal is an army base located north of the Castle, and houses the headquarters of the Royal Guard.
As the active residence of the House of Leidensen, the castle remains closed to tourism, and as the surrounding lands are owned by the Royal Family it is impossible for ordinary visitors to approach the structure or its adjacent estates at all. An attempt by visiting Cafe Vibes influences to fly drones past the Castle in December 2019 failed due to jamming by the Royal Guards detachment in what became humorously known as Leidenstad Castle's Last Battle. The operators were charged with criminal trespass and violations of the Espionage Act, though the latter was dropped at the Queen's request. The nearby village of Kamburn, however, remains a popular center for boating on the lake. The Elskov Arsenal is also owned by the House of Leidensen, but forms part of the Crown Estates operated by the Government. As such, it is also open to visitors and offers a well preserved example of a Cryrian star fort.
The construction of fortifications on Castle Hill dates back to the ninth-century when King Magnus claimed formerly-Lindesgaarder colonies in the area that would become Leidenstad. The area was valuable for its plentiful supply of lumber which could support shipbuilding, but the Cryrian presence soon came into conflict with the Highlands Elves. Simple outposts were established along the hilly approaches to the growing town, including one atop the hill which would later become home to Leidenstad Castle. Over the subsequent centuries, the importance of both Leidenstad and its outlying defenses grew, particularly when the Royal Court moved to the city from Vesterholm. A new stone keep was erected to guard the river route from the Highlands. By the end of the eleventh-century, methods of Talveri castlebuilding were incorporated to expand the fortifications. Additional structures and curtain walls were laid down to protect the strategic location. At this time, the fortress was simply referred to as "The Castle on the Leiden" in the Royal Court's records, though the name was slowly shortened simply to "Leidenstad Castle."
The Castle was quick to come under attack from advancing Elven armies when the Veiled King marched on Leidenstad. A siege set in, and the garrison was force to hold the position for four months as royal armies had been strung out across the region by earlier Elven raids. When a relief was finally mustered, it resulted in the devastating Battle of Barren Hill which saw King Karsten slain and his army destroyed. Hopes that the Castle might surrender were soon dashed however, as the 200-strong defenders held their position for another two months. After starvation took its toll, the Elves assaulted the walls and seized the fortress, finally opening the way to assault the city itself. The defense of Leidenstad Castle brought valuable time to the capital's defenders and had allowed the new Queen-Regent Lielsta to consolidate her power, leading to another siege. Though the city walls were breached and the cathedral burned, the arrival of Talveri reinforcements brought a Cryrian victory. Leidenstad Castle was retaken in Lielsta's first counterattacks and the names of the 200 defenders were carved onto the bastion's walls, a memorial which remains to this day.
Following the Scouring, King Rikard was afflicted by the Weeping, and his deteriorating state made him unable to rule. In an effort to remove the increasingly unstable King from the eyes of the court, his advisors arranged for him to be sent to Leidenstad Castle. While it was hoped that the King might receive treatment in the more private setting, this first instance of the Weeping proved to be as fatal as every case to come, and most historians agree that the sudden, forceful shift to the isolated castle only worsened the King's health. Queen Lielsta once again took up the regency, and the first King to reside in Leidenstad Castle perished in the Old Keep, which soon became known as the Sleepless Tower. The tradition of relocating monarchs suffering from the fatal insomnia to the Castle to keep them out of the public eye would persist, giving the fortress a grim reputation.
In 1345, King Segol II ordered an overhaul of the Castle. While the Old Keep and the central bastion remained intact, the surrounding fortifications were rebuilt and modernized, giving the Castle its current appearance. After fires damaged Karsholm Palace in 1352, Segol II ordered the Cryrian Crown Jewels, Royal Regalia, and various other relics to be stored in the Castle instead. Though Karsholm was eventually restored, many of the Crown's treasures remained at Leidenstad Castle. Throughout the late 15th-century, the Castle was used by Cardinal Leidenstad and his fellow conspirators as a secure location to plot the removal of Princess Charlotte from the line of succession, a move which in turn led to the Sorrows.
In 1553, Queen Evelina commissioned the construction of Tvillingblom, an extensive lakeside estate in the shadow of the Castle. By the 1600s, the fortifications of Leidenstad Castle were considered to be largely outdated, but the location remained important. A formidable star fort known as the Elskov Arsenal was built on the banks of the Leiden and Lake Lasi nearby, and achieved completion in 1694. While Leidenstad Castle retained an important ceremonial position as the home to many royal treasures, Elskov would take over much of its previous military role.
While Tvillingblom had originally been used as a site for festivities and as a getaway, the grounds were rebuilt and given a new role over a century later under Queen Leonora. Leonora increasingly sought to bring the court to the new palace. Previously, the Court had typically reigned from Karsholm Palace, but also frequently moved around the Kingdom in order to appease regional powers. However, past disputes with the guilds in Leidenstad and the subsequent rioting had made her wary of the Crown's vulnerability to urban volatility. Located away from the city and near the powerful Elskov Arsenal, Tvillingblom offered security from the masses. Additionally, the new estate was a demonstration of royal wealth and power, and Leonora hoped that by drawing the nobility there, she could reduce the traditionally immense power of the regional aristocracy and end the Court's itinerant nature. Beginning in 1695, Tvillingblom increasingly became the de facto seat of government, as well as a center of art and architecture. The Royal Family would begin to permanently use both Tvillingblom and Leidenstad Castle as their official residence, and the two locations were increasingly referred to as one due to their close proximity and shared role.
Leidenstad Castle remains the present home to the Cryrian Throne. The empowerment of the Riksdag to conduct day-to-day governance resulted in the transfer of power back to Leidenstad in the nineteenth-century. Shortly after her coronation in 2019, Queen Ulrika II moved to open Leidenstad Castle and Tvillingblom to limited visits for the purposes of historical and archeological research.
In Popular Culture
Leidenstad Castle is often used as a symbol of the Cryrian Crown. The impossibility of filming on the site, however, has meant that it has rarely been featured onscreen by the small Cryrian film and television industry. The 2010 television show Age of Sorrows briefly depicts the Castle's façade through computer-generated imagery, while additional scenes inside the fortress are actually filmed at Talna Castle near Talvere.
The Royal Family's decision to continue reigning from the more isolated location has drawn criticism and suggestions that Leidenstad Castle represents the monarchy's aloofness and indifference to the Cryrian people. Though much can be drawn from the Castle's history to support this, it has been equally argued that by remaining outside of the capital, the House of Leidensen demonstrates that it will not interfere in the day-to-day running of the country or its democratic processes.
Myths and Legends
Numerous legends have appeared around Leidenstad Castle and its thousand-year history. Several hauntings have been reported around the Sleepless Tower, which housed members of the Royal Family who fell victim to the Weeping. Though the Tower remains unused and empty beyond this function, guardsmen on their night shift have often claimed to see lights shining through its windows. Custodial staff have also reported feeling a "soporific effect" and hearing strange noises while working in the Tower. On one occasion, a maid refused to work in the building after she reportedly blacked out and awaking to "The sounds of the portraits laughing." The matter was dismissed as the result of carbon monoxide leak, though rumors and ghost stories persist.
In 1965, a seventeen-year old boy named Arendt Nyström from nearby Kamburn went missing. After a police inquiry was launched, his classmates admitted that he had taken up a dare to break into the Castle and the Sleepless Tower. Royal Guardsmen on duty that night had reported no unusual activity, and though no closed-circuit cameras had been emplaced at the time, a subsequent National Police investigation on the Castle grounds revealed nothing. The door to the Tower was found open, but subsequent interrogations found that a groundskeeper had erroneously left it unlocked earlier in the day. It was ultimately concluded that Nyström must have gone missing in the woods prior to reaching the Castle, but no further trace of him was found. Arendt Nyström remains one of the most famous unsolved missing persons cases in Cryria.