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Varsko Homesteadby Brant Guillory
Also the picture of the homestead.
This homestead is in the Northern Reaches. It is used by the Varsko family as a trading house near Norrvik, and is staffed by both family members and their hirees. The homestead grounds include several fields for grazing animals, a field of various vegetables, and a small grain field.
The Varsko family deals mainly in luxury goods. Their biggest trade is furs, but they have abundant imports of spices and choice meats. The homestead operates mainly as a transfer point for the family's shipping. There are large stable facilities for the incoming and outgoing shippers and there is quite a bit of space for the members of these caravans.
The Varsko family will ship most of their merchandise through this office, because its proximity to Norrvik gives them very up-to-date trade information. From here, the head of the homestead will send the goods wherever they're getting the best price. Those shots are called by Gnarth, with the advice of the their family members who work here.
The complex consists of 1 two-story building and another 3 one-story buildings along the outside. There are three towers, and two of them frame the stables and smithy.
The ground floor of building 1 is mainly single rooms, used by the staff of the homestead. There is also a kitchen, dining hall, and lounge. Upstairs is another lounge, a double room for long-term guests, and two single rooms, including the purser's room. The purser, Thibin Varsko, has a secret room attached, where he keeps most of the house valuables. The common room for the caravan workers is also here.
Building 2 is where Gnarth Varsko stays, and next to him is his son, Juskin, heir apparent to the stewardship of the Norrvik homestead. They have a private dining/sitting room here, as well.
The twin towers on either side of the stables have many storerooms. The east tower also has the meeting hall for the staff, too. Upstairs are a pair of family quarters. The east tower is the home of Gynnin and Freyla Varsko (Gynnin is Gnarth's cousin) and their two children. Freyla is the head of the ladies in the homestead, and Gynnin is responsible for ensuring that all arriving and departing caravans are pointed in the right direction.
The west tower is the home of Miskel and Jaren Krynden. Jaren, Gnarth's sister, is the midwife and veterinarian for the homestead. Miskel is the smith, and he is also one of Gnarth's closest friends. They dine together frequently, and spend much of their free time together. Though Miskel and Jaren have no children, they do have Miskel's nephew - an orphan from the troll wars - staying with them. The other bedroom is used for guests.
Building 3 is the stables. There are places for 10 horses, plus three open stalls for smaller animals such as mules and livestock. The smithy at the end holds all manner of tools normally found in a smithy. In addition, there is a cabinet where veterinarian medicines are kept.
The three buildings in the centre of the compound, 4-6, are used for travelling VIPs of the Varsko family. They are simply furnished, and used fairly often for housing the caravan masters as well as members of the family.
The gatehouse has a set of double-layer oak doors that are iron banded and reinforced with steel strips on the inside. There are two rooms here for overnight travellers who are not with the family business - they are rented out to travellers who need a place to stay. The other side of the gatehouse is a guardroom for the homestead. There are always three men on duty here, usually with one of the sergeants.
The storeroom and meeting hall is a wide open room that is used to store goods temporarily. They are stacked against the walls as far toward the back as possible, to leave as much room for meetings as they can arrange. More often than not, the meetings are festive occasions. The Varsko family celebrates all the major holidays, and often invents their own celebrations during the year to have an excuse to party.
The main tower is five stories high, and is used for many things. The ground floor holds an auxiliary smithy, an extra bedroom, and several storerooms, two of which are used for household storage, not goods for shipping. The second floor is where the "main" treasury is kept; this one is for appearances - most of the money is kept in building 1. The two single rooms are used by the two sergeants for the guard force. The third floor is where the guard force stays. They are all hired guards, and they sleep here in double bunks and have their own kitchen and lounge area. The fourth floor is used for storing clothing, weapons, and armour, as well as furs during the warmer months when they don't sell as well. The bedroom here is for Lance Varsko, the head of the Varsko trading house and family business. There is always a pair of guards on duty at the door of this tower. They are not really to keep people out, but to help police the interior of the compound and allow the gate guards to concentrate on the gate.
The animal pens are where the family keeps animals for the household - their own cows, goats, and sheep, as well as draft horses.
The guards operate in 5-man shifts, with a sergeant supervising them. They will work for 12 hours, then have 12 hours off. Every week, five guards will come with one of the caravans to trade places with the five guards here so that none of the soldiers ever get bored by too much routine. The off-duty guard are on their own time. The Varsko family has a company of about 80 guards that they use to help escort caravans and secure their trading houses. They all wear the family colours of red and green, with a large white "V" sewn on their chest. Sergeants will wear a chevron at the end of their sleeves, and lieutenants will wear a star with a "V" superimposed on it in the same place.