The Slumbering Tsar
Covey of The Sisters
At the northernmost end of Harrow Lanes stands a former majestic villa. It covered most of a city block and, unfortunately, has succumbed to the long years and is mostly piles of rubble now. All that remains intact of this estate is the villa’s central courtyard and a hall that connected to its east side.
The dusty entryway of this shattered villa opens onto a fairly intact courtyard. The courtyard walls still stand 20 feet high. At one time they were covered in plaster and painted in bright colors, but now most of the plaster has crumbled away exposing the underlying red clay bricks. Somehow the northern wall has weathered the elements better than the others. Though cracked and crumbling in places, it still bears most of its plaster covering, painted a bright sea green now faded with age. Gateways in the north and west walls open only onto piles of crumbling ruin where the roof has collapsed in on whatever structures once connected. To the east the façade of an intact hall protrudes into the courtyard, its double doors missing, leaving only a dark, gaping opening atop a short flight of steps and empty windows looking down from above. In the courtyard’s center stands an elaborate statue in blue stone of a trident-wielding sea king riding in a seashell chariot pulled through a foaming froth by a team of hippocampi. It was obviously once a fountain but is now dry.
Inside, the ceiling of this vaulted hall stretches 30 feet overhead. Rows of squared columns once covered in tiny colored tiles but now mostly bare brick march toward the rear of the room. At one time a balcony provided access to a row of windows 20 feet above, but it has collapsed leaving only mounded debris around the room’s perimeter. The central portion of the ceiling has likewise collapsed exposing the chamber to the elements. That debris has also been pushed to the room’s edges. The once-fi ne marble fl oor now bears a network of chips and cracks from abuses it has suffered.
Inside the inner sanctum, whatever beautiful frescoes once covered the walls to this dark room have been stripped away and replaced by rust red splotches in the shape of handprints and monstrous faces. Stacked at the base of the walls are blood-stained skulls and strange bundles of sticks and bones. In the center of the room a rough fi re pit has been dug through the clay tiles of the floor. Steeping on the banked coals of the pit is a large, rusty kettle filled with some noxious brew. Strange charms and symbols dangle from the outer lip of this cauldron.