Althain Tower is a Paravian tower built on the edge of the Bittern Desert in Atainia, Tysan. The tower is the oldest site of continuous habitation on the continent. The earth's currents graze very close to the surface here. Althain Tower is the base of operations for Sethvir, also known as the Warden of Althain, and it is never left unattended. At least one member of the Fellowship is in residence at all times.
The tower's vaults contain artifacts, maps, and primal ciphers, some of which can unlock the bound gates of time itself.
Built in the Second Age, the stones of Althain Tower were fitted by the Ilitharis Paravians. It originally housed Paravian records and become the repository for the archives of the five royal human lines after the uprising. As Paravian presence waned in the world, the Fellowship were left as caretakers of the Tower and all its perils and obligations.
The Tower is guarded by the spirit of Shehane Althain, a Paravian who freely gave his life to protect the sanctity of the tower. Fellowship Sorcerers can move through the defense spells effortlessly, though Sethvir has to unkey the defenses to let Traithe in. In Fugitive Prince, Morriel Prime notes that she cannot defeat the wards in spite of her power.
Description and Layout
The construction of Althain Tower is described as starkly plain with rough-cut granite, with arrow slits and defensive layouts adapted to fit the needs of a storehouse. Althain Tower has eleven stories, and is described following the European methodology:
- Cellar/Dungeon: This below-ground floor contains the focus circle for the Third Lane. The room smells of cedar and wool, spiked with ozone, and the walls are seamless, pale marble. The focus circle is flanked by gargoyle sconces at compass points. A concave stairway up to a counterweighted trapdoor leads up to the next level and a spelled portal leads to the stables outside.
- Ground Floor: This floor houses the main gate entry, the portcullis (with its controls masked behind gold-chased panels), and the commemorative Paravian statuary: marble unicorns, centaurs, and sun children. This statuary is later referred to as the Chamber of Renown. The entrance has paired defense portals. A soot-stained granite staircase leads to the next level.
- First Floor: This floor contains storerooms and guest quarters, sometimes used in the story by one or more of Ath's Adepts. Among the artifacts mentioned here:
- Second Floor: The second floor contains an austere guest suite with a south-facing guest suite as well as additional storerooms. Other than the labels on the crates and shelves, the storerooms have been kept in meticulous order by Sethvir, who also decided what should be saved. Among the artifacts mentioned here:
- Third Floor: This floor contains the King's Chamber.
- Fourth Floor: This is the floor where the half-brothers stayed in Curse of the Mistwraith, and also where Sethvir is cared for by Ath's Adepts in Traitor's Knot. A ward-room also exists on this floor.
- Fifth Floor: No information has been provided about this floor, but the author has stated that it would be off-limits to Arithon around the time of Ships of Merior. Later descriptions suggest something powerful secured under spells on this floor.
- Sixth Floor: No information has been provided about this floor.
- Seventh Floor: This floor contains Sethvir's chess table, where Dakar fell asleep prior to Kharadmon's rude summons in Curse of the Mistwraith.
- Eighth Floor: No information has been provided about this floor.
- Ninth Floor: This floor contains the Library, where the Fellowship fights the meth-snakes in Curse of the Mistwraith. Sethvir spends most of his time on this floor. Among the tomes in the Library is one on celestial mechanics listing orbs and planets nowhere near Athera. Down a short stair is a scriptorium stores closet where Sethvir mixes inks.
- Balcony: Accessed by a hidden ladder is a small balcony built for Ciladis to observe the summer sky.
The focus circle in the cellar has white marble walls and an onyx floor. Eight gargoyle sconces are set up at the compass points around a bowl-shaped depression paved with black onyx.
|The patterning shaped three concentric circles, edged in Paravian runes and centered by an intricate, looping interlace . . . Asandir waited in the middle, on a starburst formed by the intersection of five axes . . .|
It is unclear from the text which floor these areas are located:
- Sethvir's living quarters are on one of the middle floors of the tower. They are described as being on the floor between the storerooms and King's Chamber in Fugitive Prince, but there is no intermediate floor described in Curse of the Mistwraith. In Grand Conspiracy, the quarters are three flights of stairs below the library, and also contain the chess table. The description in Initiate's Trial confirms that the quarters are below the King's Chamber.
- Sethvir's supper nook, where Lysaer and Traithe dine together in Curse of the Mistwraith.
- Sethvir's copy chamber, where Sethvir can often be found recording events from the earth link, and where he and Kharadmon study the Mistwraith's attack on Traithe.
- Sethvir maintains a pact with earth sprites, who normally assist Asandir with his stallion upon arrival from the power focus.
|Spoiler warning: Contains plot elements from Traitor's Knot.|
- Books with dark topics, such as necromancy, are stored in Davien's personal library, so as not to sully the Paravian works in the library here.
- Sethvir illuminates all of the sconces in the tower when crisis threatens.
- Author's FAQ
- © Janny Wurts, Stormed Fortress, p. 552 (UK-Paperback)
- © Janny Wurts, Curse of the Mistwraith, p. 246 (US-Hardback)
- © Janny Wurts, Curse of the Mistwraith, p. 252 (US-Hardback)
- © Janny Wurts, Traitor's Knot, p. 41 (US-Hardback)
- © Janny Wurts, Destiny's Conflict, p. 271 (UK-Hardback)
- Forum Post on April 27, 2006
- © Janny Wurts, Curse of the Mistwraith, p. 254 (US-Hardback)