:: Fort Hold :::: People of the Hold ::Lord Holder:Lady Holder:Heir Apparent:Steward:Headwoman::: Construction of the Hold ::
Fort was built into a valley formed by a fault line. The right-angled cliff face of a palisade three kilometers long, permits entry to a network of caverns through an opening at its foot about four meters high.
The Hold is built out of a maze of small caverns linked together with a gigantic, vaulted bubble of rock that creates its central hall. To one side, a natural stair leads up to another gigantic cavern space. This "Great Hall" is fifty-seven meters deep, tapering to forty-five meters and forty-two meters at either end. At the back of the Hall, eighteen different openings lead into further tunnel complexes. Springs of fresh water circulate through one of these side tunnels.
Nothing of the natural, rugged face of the mountain, has been changed. The inside however, was transformed into a beautiful, opulent, almost Byzantine living space.
The natural opening of the cave has been filled in with native rock, leaving a wide opening that serves as a main entrance. The doors were crafted of a bronze-colored alloy obtained by melting down plates of the colony ships. Leading up to the grande entrance of the Hold, a ramp has been formed out of blocks and crushed rock and slagged solidly into place in front the natural courtyard. Steps have been cut into the sides of the ramp leading upward.
Offices and living quarters for administration take up the rooms just inside the thin rock wall. An inner wall was built up and levels floored in, their windows cut evenly into the rock face. Each window was fitted with metal shutters of the same alloy as the doors so that none of the inhabitants would be threatened by the sight of falling Thread. Hallways and the walls in living quarters, have been melted smooth, but rooms intended for storage were left fairly natural. The outer Hold was built from rock quarried out of the Inner Hold.
Natural chimneys leading from the interior caves to the clifftop provide ventilation ducts for the Hold. Artesian wells and the surface water source in the inner tunnel allow for water to be pumped directly into baths and sinks throughout the Hold. A thermal layer under the ridge provides heat in the winter that can likewise be diverted directly out of the complex during summer time by the flip of a lever.
Above the first five levels, windows become irregular, since these rooms were built from several individual cave rooms.Some tunnels extend several hundred feet underground into large bubble caverns.
Some of the ground-level caves now comprise the beasthold. This is where herds of ovines, porcines, bovines, varieties of Terran fowl and Pernese avians, and the two surviving types of canines are housed. The breed that resembled a Jack Russel terrier proved to be first-class at pursuing and killing tunnel snakes. The other, a large German shepherd/boxer breed, was used for herding and hunting. Cannines were also of use for pulling mill wheels and turning hearth spits.
Built high on the outer cliff with a long winding stair leading from the inside ground level, is the Harper Hall Drum Heights. Perfectly squared stairs were created with stonecutters, puzzling later generations, who could not understand how they were crafted.
Fort Hold was intended to house between a thousand and twelve hundred people within its walls. Fort Hold supports another ten thousand people who do not live in the Hold proper, but in the farmlands and beastfolds around it. The Hold itself is an immense complex that builders could easily continue making more and levels hospitable so as to house more people. It would have taken more than a single lifetime to learn all the ins and outs of the complex cave system. Any natural passageways deemed to be dangerous were blocked by slagging the entryways closed with stonecutters, and then new corridors between important chambers were opened to take their place. Ramps crafted from native stone and spiraling metal staircases may be found throughout the Hold, providing access to each of the levels.:: Cotholds ::
Rubble quarried from inside the Hold caverns was used to build cotholds. The earliest ones lay in the shadow of the high cliff, but as Turns passed, more were built nearer the grain fields where alfalfa and fruit orchards were started. Apples, plums, and pears are amoungst these fruits. Cotholds are roofed with slate held in place with lead, an easily worked metal found in quantity. The cotholds were all very much alike: boxlike buildings of one to three stories with bronze window shutters. Decorative strips of color just under the eaves differentiate the buildings. The colors were initially intended to show Craft affiliation, but not every cotholder changed the decoration when he moved in. Nowadays, a tanner might live in a cot that is called "Baker's Cot" due to a noteworthy tenant who lived there previously.:: Roads ::
Roads leading through and out of Fort Hold are as good as any Roman road. Stonecutters metlted rock down several feet creating squared U-shaped trenches with draingage holes set in intervals. These treches were filled in with layers of big broken stones, smaller stones, and then gravel. Roads nearest the Hold are cobbled to withstand heavier traffic. Gravel roads leading to Fort Weyr are well enough maintained that it takes only one day on a fast runnerbeast to reach it. On foot, the trip takes two to three days, but the going is easy and well sheltered.
The road to Ruatha is not as well maintained and some of these roads are not well traveled enough to make it of great concern.
If someone has an important message to relay, he can bespeak a dragon, and helios or drums can transmit messages that are not strictly confidential.:: Food ::
The food of Fort Hold is handled by a central storage facility. Fort's cavern system includes as vast storehouse to which all the farmholders bring crops and withdraw enough to feed their families. The food center is divided into caverns for each type of storage, and one large high-ceilinged room for food preparation.
These cooking facilities -and the cooks- are the best on Pern. Chefs and cooks have their own Craft, though it has no major Crafthall of its own. Cooking is considered a Hold Craft. Cooks barter among themselves for recipes and special spices. An aspiring chef might foster at Fort to get the best education in the craft only to return home years later.
Present-day Fort Holders eat a lot of stews and filling, hearty soups to make use of every edible part of a herdbeast. Roasts are served primarily for special occasions. Salted fish is a frequent main dish, supplied to the storehouses by Fort Sea Hold in exchange for red meat and fruit. Fort makes salty cheddar, Sitlton, and a few soft cheeses for spreading on bread. Mushrooms are popular, as are dishes made with peanuts, river grains, and soybeans. Legumes are added to savory dishes to thicken them up. Tubers are kept over the cold season in sandpiles, along with swedes, parsnips, fingeroots, sugar beets and turnips. Wheat and several types of berries are also harvested -thus the famous bubbly pies from its bakercraft.
Herb and spice gardens grow in abundance. Bunches of herbs hanging overhead in kitchens and corridors sweeten the air as they dry. At Fort and Nerat, the holders raise the whole range of herbs that the colonists brought with them to Pern.:: Clothing ::
Fort Holders have a keen eye for style. With such close proximity to the Weavercrafthall in Southern Boll, Fort Holders get the news first on what is fashionable for each season. The Hold lies in the temperate zone, so the syles of dress vary widely with the flow of the seasons. Fur-lined garments are necessary in the cold-season. Some Holders wear floor-length robes and pats through most of the Turn, though the weather may become stiflingly hot in the height of the summer. It is not unheard of for someone to reinvent the bikini or weave clothing out of grasses, depending on how much attention he or she wants to attract.
Tastes in clothing tend toward the ornate in Fort Hold. The use of stones and hammered gold or silver leaf and interesting dyed designs are used for adornment. Fort is famous for its complex brocades, knit or woven on multiple looms. Knit brocades are crafted by the use of needles as fine as sewing needles, using ordinary thread of sisal or cotton, but with nothing ordinary about the results. Brocade jackets cut to the ancient Chinese pattern turn up from time to time.
The weavers can produce cotton velvet, terry cloth and other slubbed fabrics. A cloth similar to denim is made for work clothes. There are no zippers on Pern; trousers close with button flaps, drawstrings, or a two-sided substance similar to velcro. Long-sleeved boatnecked sweaters and bush trousers are recommended wear for going outside the Hold, as there are many stinging plants to beware of: needlethorn, itch-leaf, saw grass, etc.:: Inside the Hold ::
Inside of the Great Hall, stone is decorated with etched and painted line patterns of great complexity. Knotwork designs of African, Celtic or Indian extraction arch high over the doorways and surround niches cut into the rock where statues and works of art are on display. Paint on the wall desings is reapplied from periodically, but no one has ever tried to clean or repaint the etchings on the expansive arched ceilings.
It is the duty of the Lady Holder of Fort oversees the placement and care of valuable works of art left behind by her ancenstors. The Archives house oil paintings hundreds of Turns old, and facsimile pictures far older are treasured as heirlooms that make contemporary artists sigh with envy of the skill. The Lord and Lady Holders' apartments are full of artistic displays of fine rugs, tapestries that line the stone walls between the windows and other framed art, lending vivid color to the otherwise unbroken gray.:: Gathers and Celebrations ::
The most important Gather at Fort is the two-day celebration for Turnover, at the winter solstice. A Pernese Turn consists of 366 days or 52 sevendays plus two days left over. These two days are called Turn's End and Turn's Beginning, and are marked each turn by special presentations from the Harper Hall.
Crossing Day celebrates the anniversary of the Second Crossing.
Havest Gather occurs every Turn, but the most important of these comes once every 250 Turns. The first Harvest Gather after a Pass ends is a fantastic event, hosted on the twenty-eighth day of the ninth month.
Firstday of the Weyr is celebrated on the first day of the fifth month of each turn, dating from the fourteenth year of the colony. Each region has a celebration for the Weyr it is beholden to, but Fort's is significant in that it honors the first Weyr and the first of dragonkind.
Fort Holders host sailing races. Gaming meets are popular too, such as board game tournaments or parnered chess on a big board, a Pernese variation of the Ancient game.
Fort Hold also celebrates the Landing Day however, they have forgotten its real importance. Landing is considered to be the eighth day of the third month in Southern. It has now come to be a planting festival for early crops.
Gather stalls are stored in a back cavern until they are needed. Each Craft has traditional places where they set up their pitches, unchanged in hundreds of Turns.