The Feral Continent
The North (and the Schools)
Description: Geographically the smallest of the regions except for the wastes themselves, the North still manages to stretch for miles, the massive city boundaries of Whitehall spreading for leagues.
With a population of only about 180,000, the boundaries of the city are massive purely to contain the great expanses of golden grass and the campus's of each university, great stretches of winding land and roads of black gravel connecting each one as if they were individual towns, with all roads leading to the silver sand shores of Kingbreaker Lake, the shining marble structure of Whitehall castle sitting on a manmade island, watching over the sprawling expanse of the city, surrounded by the prismatic array of colours found within the Garden Of Amistall, lovingly tended by the school of Silver.
Outside of the city, great fields of eternal grass shimmer under the passage of sunlight, creating almost an ocean of fading colour, with perfectly clear freshwater rivers and streams twirling the landscape, connecting the many towns and villages dotting the land, allowing naval trade and even small embarked caravans to reach the capital.
When standing on one of the many hills, or even atop the great observatory of the school of Moonlight, at the exact moment dawn breaks and the enchanted fields of grass blaze into a spectrum of light, it surprises no-one that the North is the home of the nobility.
School Of Steel: The school of Creation. Built around what was originally Jorans smiths shop. Responsible for the study, creation, and curation of magical items for the continent. Its archive is small, only three dozen items, but they are items too dangerous to be kept in the Sphere.
The school teaches metalwork, technomancy, magical item enchantment, rudimentary physics and advanced engineering.
Headmaster: Tubal-Cain. Bafdors tutor, and a proud dwarf, dedicated to the legacy of the North.
Basic description: The tower itself is tall, about twelve stories tall, and compromised almost entirely of clockwork parts. It rotates so that the offices on the top three floors always face the sun. It's placed right on the edge of Kingbreaker Lake, great clockwork pumps sucking in water to the boilers, driving the very rudimentary steam engines that power the towers mechanisms.
Membership of the school functions like that of a trade union or a guild, with each student responsible for their own profits and income and the school taking a percentage of their profits as a membership payment, instead of having a flat fee. That way the more talented students pay more than the students not as gifted or profitable.
Membership into the School Of Steel gives its students access to lessons, workshops, and specially negotiated trade agreements to allow them to purchase raw materials at excellent prices, increasing their profit margins. 1st and 2nd Chains are also apprenticed to 3rd chains or above, and over the course of months or years gradually progress in training up the line, resulting in a constant churning out of 5th and 6th Chain crafters and enchanters.
The School Of Steel doesn't just focus on metalwork, but over the centuries have expanded to all types of crafting, such as carpentry, tailoring, smithing, enchanting, masonry, artistry, and glasswork.
Every large village or small town has at least one member of the School Of Steel, with members scattered not just across the continent but across the globe, with a headquarters for the school even being built in Absalom in the Inner Sea.
Student number: 10,000+, 800ish on campus.
School Of Silver: The school of Change (Transmutation). Responsible for the maintenance of the city structures, groundskeeping duties of Whitehall, and the Garden Of Amistall where the thousands of ingredients for the alchemists of the city are grown.
They teach transmutation, the school of magic responsible for change.
Headmaster: Magister Kropotkin. A whily and curious Westerner, his half Zorgrotian blood shows in the playful and naturally talented attitude with which he applies himself to his work. He always votes in the interest of the people.
Basic Description: Seemingly grown out of the Singing Hills, the structure is seemingly one solid piece of carved rock. Twirled up into a pointed spire, pockets of holes and tunnels piercing the tower catch the morning and evening wind and release song over the hills and fields. The structure is well-lit.
The School Of Silver has always been steeped in a degree of secrecy, with the school being very insular from the rest of the North. Membership into the School Of Silver is a permanent vocation when a student passes their 2nd chain and moves onto 3rd, with students being forbidden from marrying other mages and having children with them, to ensure the loyalty of each mage is primarily to the School itself.
Handling a lot of the administrative duties for Whitehall, the School has a wide-reaching influence. This, combined with its secretive nature and it's dedicated and large student body, have resulted in a large number of mage wars where Silver was either targeted, or dragged in. And it survived them all.
Rumor has it, it has not always kept to its portfolio of transmutation, with reports from the last Mage War, which ended barely 20 years ago, of higher students working deep in the central chambers of the Singing Hill or the Garden of Amistal, twisting feral magic and possibly even attempting to tamper with the living soul. This brief foray into feral magic and necromancy has never been confirmed, however, and the tight-lipped students present a united front against the rest of the North, who are all kept freshly aware that every time another school has attempted to learn the secrets of Silver, they have found themselves quickly…discouraged.
Student number: 8000+, 1200ish on campus.
School Of Gold: The school of Fire (Evocation). Often called the Noblemans School, due to the fact almost all nobility attempt to attend it. Responsible for the maintenance of Kingbreaker Lake, the training of the guards, and (unofficially) the education of the nobility.
They teach evocation, with a focus on battle magic.
Headmaster: Alexandra Volta. As an elf, she is incredibly patient and composed, finely tuned in to the many political intrigues of the North, with many nobles firmly in her confidence.
Basic Description: Seemingly forged out of gold itself, the twin arms of the Gold school shimmer like yellow diamonds in the sunlight, and at night they shine the coldest blue as if lit from within. Shaped like a great archway, with a sphere at the apex of the curve, the arch forms the unofficial entranceway to the city of Whitehall.
Originally formed from the three surviving apprentices of Ysgar The Blue, the School Of Gold dedicated itself to the study of elemental magic from its formation just before the end of the Crusade. It's purpose quickly expanded, however, as nobility arriving from the Inner Sea to the new land lacking the talent to join Steel or the dedication to join Silver flooded into the School Of Gold, bolstering its numbers.
Ever since, it has always been the most political of the schools, and the most willing to stretch its magical muscles, with mages from Gold often achieving awesome power and then using it to boost their families influence, leading to the rise of the great noble families of the North.
Including the Vales, which is a history they have never been fond of remembering.
500 years after its formation, the School Of Diamond was formed, and snatched away authority over protection and the Norths military away from the School Of Gold, usurping its power and the stranglehold the nobility had on the protection of their region.
The School Of Gold did not take the insult kindly, and went to war, winning the right to handle 50% of the military and guard workload, and the right to have jurisdiction to investigate Diamond whenever they suspect anything.
The two schools have despised each other ever since.
The nobility of Gold are more than aware they are feared and despised over the entire continent, but the dozens of noble families with ties to the school have their fingers in hundreds and hundreds of pies, and the influence of Gold grows constantly, commanding loyalty to a degree that Silver would be envious of.
The School Of Gold is the only school to be able to boast that they've never had a traitor or a deserter. Or, at least, they've never had one make it out the front gates of the great archway…
Student Number: 30,000+, 2500ish on campus
School Of Moonlight: The school of Divination. The Moonlight school is responsible for the keeping of the grand library of the city, along with the Silver Observatory which is its pride.
It teaches divination, and also a bit of divine magic, functioning almost as a Seminary for many priests and clerics, with the local temple to Desna often hosting gatherings in the Observatory on clear nights.
Headmaster: Father Johan. Ancient and wise, Johan is blessed by both Desna and Hoht, blessed with incredibly long life and foresight. He very rarely leaves the observatory, due to his weakness and age.
Basic Description: Carved and constructed out of the blackest obsidian, the tower would look like a stereotypical rook from chess, if it weren't for the great crystal orb at its top housing the observatory. The bottom two floors are the library, open to the public.
The School Of Moonlight began both as a storeroom, and a library.
The only Feral God with any written history is Hoht, and collections of his prophecies were pillaged during the Crusade and stored in a mixture of library and vault. Over time this collection of scrolls lured a wide variety of scholars and priests from the Inner Sea to come study them, and these priests and scholars built dorms, halls, added extra floors to the archive, and…eventually the School Of Moonlight was born
Keeping out of the political meddling of the other Schools, Moonlight sees itself as a public service to the people, with no official membership or binding bylaws in place in its structure. It offers lessons in reading, philosophy, astronomy, divination, religious discussion and sermons, historical lectures, debates, and forums, and all of these lessons, all of them, are open to the public and free of charge.
If you wish to achieve a chain in the school, all you must do is go to the desk and schedule an examination for the next level, and then pass it. And yet despite this ease, membership of the School remains small, with most potential students eventually drawn away to one of the grander schools.
But those that remain, are dedicated to their work, and work away in the great orb of the Moonlight Observatory, looking out over the city and up into the stars.
Student number: 3,000+, 600ish on campus
School Of Glass: The school of Conjuration. The Glass school, with its small size, is regarded as the most humble of the schools despite the important role it plays.
While it teaches many great summoners, it also trains the majority of the continents healers, that role considered so important that it has no other obligations to the city.
It teaches conjuration, with a focus on healing magic, and functions as a large hospital.
Headmaster: Liz Blackwell, and her eidolon Lister. While not a spectacular healer in her own right, Liz is incredibly passionate and devoted to her work, and a jack of all trades in conjuration and healing. Her azata eidolon, Lister, supports her entirely, as her defender, her surgery partner, and her best friend.
Basic Description: Formed in appearance to be a dome blown from glass, its built out of hardened crystal, with the bottom few stories devoted to the hospital, and the toppermost level functioning as Liz's office.
When the schools of Gold and Diamond went to war for the first time over the right to command the military, there were students from each who abstained from the violence, abhorred at the very notion of the North turning to civil war. Those students came together and swore off all practicing of violent or destructive magic, and as a sign of goodwill to the rest of the city pledged themselves to the art of healing and creation.
The School Of Glass was formed.
Taking inspiration from the School Of Moonlight, the School Of Glass functions a lot like a university. Membership is through application, and all successful applicants are taken as 1st Chains. Lessons are structured and rigorous, with studies into practical healing magic but also mundane healing, biology, physiology, alchemy, and healing theory. Each level of chain also has a separate responsibility when it comes to the main area of the School, which is the great hospital taking up its bottom two floors.
Basic treatment at the School Of Glass is free to the public and those who need it, with only those able to pay having to pay.
When a student reaches their 3rd chain, they are declared a 'journeyman' and are encouraged to wander the world, expanding their knowledge through practical application and encounters. Most students are comfortable only reaching this level, with barely a handful returning to the School and continuing onto their 4th chain and beyond.
This, coupled with the mage wars over the years and increased tensions in the North drawing potential students to the more aggressive and powerful schools, has led to a shortage of higher chains at the School Of Glass. Indeed there is currently only one 6th chain in its membership, the Headmistress herself, and barely half a dozen 5th chains, most of whom are currently in the South helping with the refugee effort.
Student Number: 4500+, 1000ish no campus
School Of Agate: The School of Enchantment & Illusion. Reclusive, obscure, and unwilling to participate with the other schools, the Agate school relishes in its murky reputation and its study of magics that affect the mind.
Illusionists, tricksters, and bards thrive in the jittery environment, and the unsuspecting meddler finds themselves losing time and thoughts as they wander the halls that constantly sing with music.
It teaches all magic that affects the mind.
Headmaster: Maester Esmeralda. Careful and contemplative, Esmeralda approaches all things with the paranoia and patience of a master illusionist. A talented musician and socialite, she easily comes across as the most approachable of the headmasters.
She is also the aunt of Uruz
Basic Description: The most mundane appearing of the schools, it looks in appearance to be a large manor (close in appearance to manor that Esmeralda calls home), with no particular quirks or tricks. This mundaneness for a school of illusion makes visitors uneasy, which the students enjoy.
Unable to escape certain cliches, the School Of Agate began its life as a Bards College and a theater, the great auditorium of the Schools original campus being one of the great wondrous sights of the North back in its early days.
But, the thing about being a Bards College, is you tend to attract membership from Bards, and slowly but surely the school developed into a magical college of illusion, mind enchantment, and music.
It's membership was expansive and massive, with the entirety of Whitehall constantly deep with the sound of songs and tunes, great shows of illusion and spectacles performed in every square. The theater was deep in the spotlight, and it seemed it would be there forever.
Until the fifth mage war.
Silver and Diamond had come to odds, with revelations that students from Diamond under the secret orders of Headmaster Lucius Vale had attempted to infiltrate the School Of Silver out of suspicion Silver mages had been studying forbidden Feral magic.
When the spies were discovered sneaking about one night, a Silver 3rd chain had panicked, and slain them as they attempted to escape. And so Silver and Diamond went to war, each for their own reasons.
But there was a complication. The headmistress of the School Of Agate, Jynnrose Variel, was the betrothed of Lucius Vale, and so felt compelled to assist her beloved in the conflict. Many of her loyal students agreed, and it wasn't until the alliance of Diamond and Agate was betrayed by spies from Gold that it was discovered.
Silver responded by sinking the great theater into the earth while its students were sealed inside. Jynnrose Variel, who had been at her families estate, retaliated by bewitching Silvers 6th chains to commit suicide by leaping off their great tower.
Agate has never participated in a mage war since, nor has its numbers recovered from the massacre. And Silver never forgave the Variel family for their acts during the war.
Student Number: 3,000+, 500ish on campus
School Of Diamond: The school of Abjuration, and defensive magic. Assisting the school of Gold with the training of the city guards, the school of Diamond mans the great walls of the city and the personal security of Whitehall Castle. Open and friendly to the public, the school of Diamond is respected and trusted by all others, coming across as a voice of reason.
Due to their importance with the defense of the city, they have no real ambition in seizing power.
Headmaster: Lilian Vale. The Vale family having staffed the school of Diamond for generations, she sits in her position with ease and confidence. She cares about security and safety, and the survival of the other schools. Slow to trust, but loyal to her allies, she is normally the speaker at council meetings.
Basic Description: Seeming to function as the main guardhouse for the city, the school of Diamond is a squat fort built into the city walls. Tidy, neat, and organized, gentle streams of light dance along the stone, bathing the structure in a soft glow at night.
When the nobility clearly began to hold majority in the School Of Gold, and were using their grip over the lands guards and military selfishly, a large group of lowborn students of Gold rebelled peacefully, casting aside their golden chains and forming their own school.
Through a mixture of favors, subterfuge, and political maneuvering, the newly established School Of Diamond, with the then young Vale family at its head, snatched away control of the military away from Gold.
And they've held it ever since.
The School Of Diamond functions a lot like a military, with several ranks in between each level of chain acquired. They study defensive magic, and also stick to the protection and safeguarding of the city and of Whitehall Castle.
And they have always, always, put that duty and their obligation to protect the people, above all other temptations and obligations. Even during wars.
While Gold has the most destructive power, Diamond has the trust of the people, the now powerful and ancient Vale family standing tall above all others, with many voices over the years whispering that perhaps they will sit the throne one day.
Lillian Vale, the current head of the family, has done little to quell those voices, the first in her line to allow them to whisper.
Student Number: 20,000+, 2000ish on campus.