Journey to Fate’s doorstep: Catchbreeze estate – Castle Ward, Waterdeep

A modest, but comfortable city estate, easily recognized by its copper roof and ivy-covered red stone walls. It lies at the edge of Castle Ward, with its facade shielded from onlookers by a garden full of evergreens and rose bushes, and its heart well-protected by a steep drop in terrain, which provides a dynamic view of Dock Wards and the sea beyond.

The building is a former finishing school which was converted to a private residence after the idea of sending adolescents away to be educated fell out of fashion with Waterdhavian nobility. The building’s origins can still be found in the over-sized library, the large kitchens and store rooms and random bits of graffiti carved into the wood beams that support the lower floor.

These days, the estate has been lovingly refitted to accommodate half a dozen permanent residents. Both the grounds and the design of the building allow for much privacy, but the receiving rooms (former lecture halls and teachers’ common room) are well-appointed and can be used to host gatherings and soirées for visitors of all sorts.

Staff quarters are present and are all located on the lower level, adjacent to the kitchen and larder with wine storage. The majordomo has a small apartment to allow for receiving tradesmen, while a further 3 members of house and kitchen staff can be retained in individual rooms.

Residents quarters exist of apartments that have 3 floors, making the most of the different nature of each floor. The lower level has access to private washing facilities, and place for a dressing room or study. Each room has doors that open up onto a covered courtyard which has in the past been used as a place for physical exercise, as well as for hosting large, informal gatherings. While most of this floor lies below ground level, carefully enchanted windows allow daylight to come into the central covered courtyard, while being indistinguishable from the rock in which they are embedded from the outside.

Basement Level

Catchbreeze Basement level
Catchbreeze Basement level

Note that two hidden exits from the residence are on this level. The one accessed via the outer wall exits at the bottom of the steep drop that forms the estate’s border, landing the user on a small, unnamed alley in Docks Ward. The one next to the majordomo’s apartment exits on estate grounds inside the mausoleum of the Dessavere family – the founders and long-time headmasters and -mistresses of the once-famous school.

Garden Level

Catchbreeze Garden level
Catchbreeze Garden level

The garden level of the main building contains the entryway, library (continues on the balcony level via its own staircase) a music or drawing room, a salon and formal dining room, along with washing facilities for guests. The dining room, as well as residents’ quarters on this level all lead out onto an enclosed garden that shields against the strong winds and harsh climate of Waterdeep. A small fountain, various low-growing fruit trees and many flowering plants make for a lush retreat with ample opportunity for private conversation.

Balcony Level

Catchbreeze Balcony level
Catchbreeze Balcony level

The balcony level is the most private, and yet the most open. Long, outward-facing porticoes allow residents to enjoy the ocean breeze and look down on city life as it spills out beneath them. Other than the second level of the library (no exits on this floor), there are no public spaces on this level, and house staff can use the exterior staircases to access quarters if needed.

Grounds

The grounds, while small due to Catchbreeze’s central location, have some outbuildings. There is a dedicated guest house that offers two suites for visitors of various size and preference. The chapel is small, but lovely and sits among a carefully planted grove of fragrant besom trees. It has a small plot on which there is room to inter one’s loved ones. There is a groundskeeper’s cottage nearby, which features three rooms underneath a thatched roof.

Last, but not least, a stable offers room for riding horses, a pair of coach horses and coach, as well as room to house smaller animals such as hunting dogs or birds for falconry. Do note that Waterdeep does not permit hunting within the city limits, unless by guild-permitted rat catchers.

The estate covers its expenses by means of some acreage of field and forest outside the city limits. The fields are on a long-term lease to the cattle drivers’ guild, who rent out portions of it to local farms with small herds of either dairy goats or the local variety of longhorn sheep (prized for their delicate wool), and keep the other part in reserve to receive large herds of livestock from the backcountry prior to butchering or shipping. The forested parts of the estate’s grounds are currently under lease to the neighboring Bleutenger family, who use it to expand their recreational hunting grounds. This lease is soon set to expire and re-granting it could be a good way to curry favor.

Staff

Peth Amers, Majordomo
Petha Amers, Majordomo

Majordomo – Petha Amers, a half-elven woman of excellent repute. She is a middle-aged spinster who has worked in service all her life and was invited to administer the estate ages ago due to her flexibility when dealing with unorthodox residents. Her human origins lie in lands far to the east, and she claims wood-elf ancestry. While she would never gossip, she is a font of information about the city and its history. She has a sister, Esthra, to whom she writes and who she visits during her annual leave. Her sister has children, which are full humans, and she speaks of her nephews and niece fondly. The elder nephew, named Doro, has recently become a sailor. The younger one, Semre, is recently apprenticed to a cobbler, although it seems he can be found haunting the taverns more than usual for a boy his age. Petha’s niece is called Kasha, and she is still in school. It appears she has a little magical talent, and Petha wonders if she should give up some of her savings to get her niece into a proper magical academy once she is the right age.Petha is quite formal with most people, but once she has developed a sense of trust with her employers, she will show her innate sense of humor. She feels closest to Kendel, both because she enjoys his attitude and because he is the most traditionally ‘lordly’ out of the bunch. Her tasks are financial management of the house, arranging maintenance, acquisitions of household goods including food and wine, menu planning and serving at large or formal meals. She will be delighted if she finds that any of the estate’s residents has any interest in this work, and she believes that input from the owners is invaluable to the optimal running of a proper house.

Tarrus Ropewell, Cook
Tarrus Ropewell, Cook

Cook – Tarrus Ropewell, is one of the Hin (i.e. Hafling). A relative newcomer to the Waterdeep food scene, he made a grand entrance by challenging the long-time family cook of Kendel’s parents to a cook-off of a number of exotic dishes some months ago. While Tarrus’ cooking cannot be faulted, Kendel’s mother was not impressed with his style of showmanship (or his swearing), and decided the sailor-turned chef would perhaps be well-suited to serve at the estate which now houses her son. She arranged for Tarrus to be escorted to Catchbreeze with a glowing letter of recommendation and a complement of guards, which would not leave Petha’s quarters until she had promised a position to the young upstart. He now cooks pungent dishes from a variety of locales and origins, and has only stopped trying to serve his ‘Gracklstugh Mushroom Special’ to the party after Royce and Naismith once held him at knife-point.

Tarrus mentions neither friends nor family, only referring to his past in the vaguest of terms. Under what circumstances he lost his ear, is as of yet unknown. He likes to sing while working, but the words to any song are invariably changed to something raunchy. Tarrus can neither read nor write, which he will do his very best to hide. If he is ever found out, he will do everything he can to ensure his secret is kept, up to and including bribery and threats of grave bodily harm.

House keepers

Djanni Morvillis, House Keeper
Djanni Morvillis, House Keeper

Djanni Morvillis is a young human woman who came to Waterdeep as a child when fleeing the conflict in the southern states. Now she lives at the estate and is responsible for the management of household tasks and chores. If needed, she can serve as valet or lady’s maid for formal occasions, but her best work is in arranging domestic tasks and services. She has deep roots in the community of professional service workers, and Petha, with whom she is fast friends, often relies on her to find additional serving staff for formal occasions. Most of Djanni’s pay goes to her parents, but she also tithes to the temple of Selûne, the deity she claims helped her and her people escape the war. She has two younger brothers, Aiken and Daran, who both work on the docks. Djanni’s most treasured possession is a fur coat: a present from lady Ervienne Melanctha, for whom she used to serve as lady’s maid. She is currently being courted by Domenco Melanctha, a younger cousin of lady Ervienne’s, but she is hesitant. While she likes the man well enough, she isn’t inclined to give up what she sees as the independence and freedom of a well-paid position for the relative bondage of life as the wife of a minor noble in the status oriented and hierarchical city of Waterdeep.

Joscellan Vegho, Valet
Joscellan Vegho, Valet

Joscellan Vegho is an older human male with an extensive resume in service, both as valet and household staff. He is extremely straight-laced and private, preferring not to share anything of a personal nature with those for whom he works. This reticence can easily be mistaken for rudeness, but it is really part of a sense of professionalism that represents an older ideal of service, no longer in vogue in households such as these. Joscellan occasionally laments the olden days but is also grateful for the improved standing of serving staff, and the rather loose approach that Catchbreeze’s current owners take with regards to propriety. It allows him leeway to take care of his oldest child and only son, Guilleme, who has fallen upon hard times after a failed business venture and needs both money and his father’s broad shoulders. Should Joscellan’s private concerns ever be discovered, he would greatly value discretion, but would feel obligated to accept any help offered if it benefited his son. In return, he would share information about his three daughters: Ermena, who has a small sheep farm outside of the city with her husband Denno and children Cara and Morro, Temera, who has recently made first mate on a trader ship, and Deleine, who works as a weaver in the wool district and has recently engaged herself with a young woman named Mayka and is set to marry come spring.

Groundskeepers

Jero Argario and Sur Hennerley, both human natives of Waterdeep, have worked on the estate since early adulthood, and have shared use of the groundskeeper’s cottage for almost as long. Some years ago, Sur’s sister Andra died in childbirth. When the baby also died and Andra’s husband had to return to sea, Sur took in Andra’s surviving daughter Yonica. She is a teenager with dark hair and eyes, who takes after her father, both in looks and temperament.

Jero Argario, Gardener
Jero Argario, Gardener

Jero serves as gardener, and he is exceptionally proud of the state for his rose bushes (along with tea roses and peonies he grows a unique purple variety, which is just now showing great results) and his ability to keep alive an oranianap tree in the sheltered house garden (they are rare and are native to much warmer climes). Petha allows Jero use of the house kitchen when the estate’s fruit harvest comes in, and so the house is always well-stocked with jams and marmalades. He will talk anyone’s ear off about gardening and botany and he will always treasure a gift of anything relating to plants and how to grow them. He doesn’t leave the estate often, but will, if given permission, borrow large quantities of books from Catchbreeze’s extensive library. If asked, he will mention his parents, both of which serve Chauntea. He has two sisters, Geri and Amri, but is not in contact with them at this time.

Sur Hennerley, Handyman
Sur Hennerley, Handyman

Sur is the estate’s handyman. He fixes everything, and if the job is too big for him alone, he knows which craftsmen to bring in to get it done. He is exceptionally well-connected in the city and knows many people in Waterdeep’s various guilds. Due to his exacting nature and limited quantity of patience, he is known as a hard taskmaster. He works together with Petha to keep the estate’s books current and spends much of his free time teaching his niece those things he considers useful. Sur is not very talkative, except on the subject of his latest project, but he is very observant and can sometimes let his curiosity get the better of him. This has occasionally unnerved his employers, especially if they were on the other end of his pointed questions, but his intentions are good, even if his manner isn’t.

Yonica, Stable Girl
Yonica, Stable Girl

Yonica, while still young, is very capable.  She serves as stable girl and takes care of the estate’s population of (fully licensed) rat terriers (Snap, Fang and Spotty, the latter of which she delivered and named herself). She is shy and reclusive and often feels embarrassed by her uncles and their various passions. This is likely a feature of her age and will lessen over time. When she is feeling particularly rebellious, she may attempt to sneak away and explore the city in disguise. No one knows quite where she goes when she does this.

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