Ilbarych Stone Water Works
The design and construction of great edifices of stone is a hallmark of imperial engineering. Immense castles, walls, and other notable constructions are readily built in the Crowndom, although it does take significant resources to do so. Imperial lore teaches the pinpoint-fine splitting and shaping of stone, as well as the creation of immensely strong and durable mortars, and cunning slot-fitting designs that actually increase stability the heavier the edifice. Keystone arches, cobbled pathways, and great walls are all significators of imperial engineering.
The joins on imperial stonework are so precise and its mortars so resilient that such constructions can easily channel and contain water. As a result, a great deal of imperial technology includes cunning ways of moving, containing, and using water.
It is said that the Imperial aqueduct forms the basis for Imperial civilization, allowing the formation of settlements far from easily potable sources of water and making possible the prosperous cultivation of fields through advanced irrigation.
- The ducts themselves are fitted stone, with interiors made of alchemically-soldered porcelain plates. These are elevated on stone arches that allow a gradation so the water can flow naturally toward the terminus of the aqueduct.
- It is said that the old Imperial Aqueduct was a single, interconnected, weblike network of aqueducts that provided water to every place in the Old Empire. While that is not the case with the Crowndom, networks do tend to sprawl across countrysides providing water for many domains simultaneously.
- All aqueducts are property of the Crown. Local nobility may not tamper with, improve upon, expand, or change the course of aqueducts that originate, run through, or terminate in their domains. They are charged with maintaining them, however, as part of their taxation obligation to the Crown. They may request alterations or expansions through the court of their Warden Lord.
- Devotees of Uncta Zaleria of the Fountain are charged with the expansion of these networks by the Crown. They range outward with crews of dedicated workers, performing upkeep, expansions, and alterations to the existing networks.
- There are a number of discreet components of the aqueduct systems. These are:
- Channels are the stone ducts through which the water flows. They are completely sealed to prevent detritus or spillage. Some channels have drop-channels where water is sent off to provide water to nearby buildings or field irrigation networks.
- Pillars are the tall stone stacks which support the channels off of the ground. Every one to three miles there is a filtration pillar, a slightly larger structure with an internal cistern filtration set-up to continually clean water that passes through the aqueducts.
- Raintowers are large tower structures with gathering cisterns for collecting and filtering rainwater. Their bases are usually a storage space for limestone blocks and sand for maintenance.
- Welltowers are large tower structures with pump systems in their interiors, topped with windmill fins. As the windmill turns, it pulls water up from the spring or well beneath the tower, adding the flow of water to the aqueduct channel that connects to the welltower. Some welltowers also act simply to move water up an elevation change in an aqueduct network, although this is an inefficient design and done only when there is no other option.
- Milltowers are large tower structures built beside running water, with a water-wheel attached. In addition to the normal benefits of a mill, the mill motion also pumps water up from the river or stream to add water to the aqueduct system to which it is connected.
- Waytowers are large tower structures built to provide water from the aqueduct system to settlements. They are a final filtration system, and include a number of useful designs. Some terminate in simple spigot systems with animal troughs at their base, while others may have elegant fountains and other waterworks built into their bases. Most waytowers also contain a system of pipes that drop down their hollow centers, which provide water to surrounding buildings. A hamlet usually has a single waytower at most; towns can have a handful of them, and some of the largest cities have dozens. In Imperial records, each waytower is named, and in places with many of them, the neighborhoods of those settlements are named after the tower at its center.
The Welcoming Font
Because the essence of Imperial civilization is centered around ensuring that a place has access to good, clean water, a ritual has evolved in the Crowndom used to welcome new guests. This ritual is used in most levels of society, in some form or another. When a new guest arrives, they are brought to this water where the guest may wash their hands in it, seeing that it is pure and sweet. In the case of large groups of visitors, the leader or representative is the one who performs the hand-washing ritual.
- Noble keeps and towers are usually built with fonts in entry foyers or just inside gates. These are often built of lavish materials with an artistic flair, as they represent the House itself. They are frequently carved with heraldry or set with other symbols important to the House or domain.
- Large homes with access to piped or cistern water may also have a font, usually installed either beside the front door or just inside in a foyer or entry courtyard.
- Smaller homes usually set a bowl beside the front door, or sometimes hang a basin from the wall next to the door. This water is changed out daily in anticipation of visitors.
Imperial cistern systems allow the gathering and filtration of rainwater. They usually consist of stone tubs with a layer of limestone sand sandwiched between two layers of tightly-fitted limestone blocks in the middle of the tub. Water filters down through these layers and drops into the sealed system beneath it. These systems are either the channels of an aqueduct system, a sealed vessel for storing water, or a system of household or civic pipes.
The topmost layer of bricks usually builds up a layer of rotting plant material, detritus, and dirt that has blown into the open cistern, but was filtered out of the water that passes through the system. In high summer, the heat and dryness usually bakes this layer of filth onto the bricks, allowing the bricks to be changed out for a fresh layer. The old, filthy layer is scrubbed clean and either put away for a later change cycle, or pounded into limestone sand (for the middle layer of the filter) if the bricks are old or damaged.
Sluice Sheds & Cesspits
Every hamlet has at least one sluice shed, and many have several. These sheds are free-standing privies with stone irrigation channels to sluice waste into a somewhat-distant dedicated cesspit. Sluice sheds usually have their own roof-cisterns to provide water for easy flushing away of waste. Cesspits have several covered, wide, shallow pools into which sluice channels terminate – once a pit is near capacity, alchemical treatments are added to the filth and then the pit is sealed to sit for at least a season, allowing the waste to dry and break down into relatively-safe nightsoil that is harvested from the pit and spread on agricultural fields. The cleaning and maintenance of both sluice sheds and cesspits is usually performed by a community's Bounded.