About St Sebastian’s Redoubt
|Name:||St Sebastian’s Redoubt|
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“Lovely buttresses. Fantastic ceilings. Amazing arches. Shame about Ricardo; went on a stroll in the crypts, never came out again. Apparently easy to do; always one for going on without a companion, always knew it’d be the death of him. Buttery in the Guest’s Common Room is exquisite; I recommend the jam custard, which is apparently a traditional recipe.” – Travel Diary of Lucius di Firro, 574.M41
St Sebastian’s Redoubt – once known as the Raven Estates before its seizing by Imperial Forces is 227.M41 – is, in a very technical sense, a space station. It is built upon a large asteroid forced into a habitable orbit around a young, yellow star. It is in appearance and structure unique, however: the Redoubt takes the form of a gigantic, sprawling castle, hewn from the rock itself. One says “castle” – but really it is a set of castles, and walls, and small forts, and follies; built without apparent forward planning or purpose by whomever it was who built it. The Redoubt is surrounded by a shell of reinforced glasscrete – comparable in strength to that used in some of the most robust Imperial vessels – the walls of which begin about a mile out from the Outer Battlements; the glass extends upwards in a great dome, which reaches its peak directly above the Raven Tower, the highest point on the Redoubt itself. The rest of the asteroid is a sheer jut of barren stone; the only way in, or out of the Redoubt itself is via Dock Alpha (or the “Drawbridge” to its inhabitants), near the base of the dome, where the Redoubt’s own vessels – such as they are – are berthed – and where a shuttle may gain access, although not without express authorisation from those within.
The Redoubt was taken by Imperial forces in 227.M41, as part of the consolidation of Imperial control of Subsector Primus during the Hundred Year Stalemate. It had previously been home to a small order of monks, the Order of the Raven, and many more laity who worked as a serf-class to the monk’s needs. The Order of the Raven was dedicated to the worship of He Who Soars, a winged figure depicted as half-man, half-raven. When the Redoubt was found – so small that it had been missed by Imperial explorers for many years until a chance navigational error led to its discovery – the Ecclesiarchy took a swift interest.
Neither the monks nor the serf-class were particularly martially inclined; it did not take long for the Imperium to supplant the monks – decried as heretic-priests of a false religion, and for the Ecclesiarchy to spread the Imperial Cult quickly and effectively. While holdouts remained for some time in some of the deeper catacombs and crypts, in the main the local population took quickly and fervently to the Creed; the symbol of the Aquila, as perhaps might be expected, was especially popular. During the foundation of the Schola and the Seminary which make their base here – intended to keep a firm check on heterodoxy by their very presence – much time was invested in finding every last carved raven, and converting it, with a few swift strokes, into something which was definitely, and definitively, an eagle.
The Redoubt houses the premises of two major Ecclesiastical institutions. The majority of the Scarlet Wing – so-named for the colour of its plush leather décor – is given over to the Schola Progenium of St. Sebastian. “Scarlets”, as its Progena are known, make up the majority of those those orphans chosen for Schola training in the sector; the capacity of the Schola is limited, however, and the Holy Pedagogues of St. Sebastian, the order who run it, are ruthless in their selection. Successful “Scarlets” can be found in roles throughout the Sector; for instance, many fine Commissars have passed through its doors. A common trait that all of the Schola’s Progena possess is an almost supernatural sense of direction; those who grow up within the walls of the Redoubt quickly learn how to navigate its myriad passageways, how to orientate themselves by small changes in atmospheric pressure, and of the difference between, for instance, the stairs to the Forbidden Catacombs and to the Scholar’s Dining Room (the trick is that the eagles look to their right on the former, and mostly to their left on the latter). Those who do not develop such senses rarely grow up at all.
In contrast, the Emerald Wing is the territory of the Seminary of St. Sebastian. This institution is dedicated to the theological training of young hopefuls planning to join the ranks of the Ecclesiarchy in both lay and ordained roles. Seminarians normally begin their training at the age of around 17, although there is some variance.
It is most common for students to be nobility or high-class merchants – the fearsome entrance exams are best tackled with the liberal help of tutors, and the resources and learning only money can really buy. Still, though, any Imperial citizen may apply to enter the Seminary, and every year there are a few students who come from colourful backgrounds.
The Seminary is divided, for administrative purposes, into Collegia: a particular sets of quarters, chapels, libraries and lecture halls, with a particular group of seminarians assigned to each one. Unlike the Scarlets, the “Emeralds” have not had the benefit of a childhood navigating the endless corridors of the Redoubt, and hence are rather inclined to stick to their own Collegia, rarely venturing outside without an experienced guide. The teaching staff are an eclectic mix – some from the Holy Pedagogues, but also many visiting priests, abbots and so forth from across the Sector and beyond. As a theological collection, its libraries are some of the finest in the sector; unfortunately, they lack a coordinated filing system, and seminarians can spend days wandering their College’s stacks looking for some text their mentor has recommended.
The Golden Wing forms the public-facing part of the Redoubt, a large sprawl that comes up from the Drawbridge up to the Scarlet and the Emerald Gates on either side, the entrances to the Schola and Seminary respectively, It includes the Outer Battlements – where visitors can take a tour round the entire Redoubt, a journey of some days; the Raven Tower – access is mostly restricted to the upper levels, but on the lower floors there are some superb examples of devotional sculpture in the various shrines and chapels that have been constructed here; the Courtyards – areas within the walls given over to green space, where much of the food of the Redoubt is grown – and of course the Grand Keep, where the High Abbess – who possesses the ultimate Ecclesiastical Authority on the Redoubt – keeps her own staff and organisation. Many of the laity who work in the Golden Wing are descended from the original inhabitants of the Redoubt.
There are among the students and scholars of the Redoubt always rumours of hidden secrets of the place. Strange things that lurk in some of the darker and more forgotten corridors of the Redoubt. Crypts without exits, only entrances. Hallways and great halls only seen in half-forgotten midnight walks by those walking out alone to prove their bravery. This is, generally, considered mostly nonsense by those in charge; but vigilance remains. This dark citadel, suspended on a sunbeam – though its halls fill with the Emperor’s light and those who chant his name song – may still hold some secrets still.