Coldforged Civilizations: Killbaran Colleges: Pt 3

I continue rushing headlong into the second year of writing Coldforged material, and this year I hope to cover enough topics in preparation to print as is possible. I hope we’re in the home stretch. This week we’re going to begin covering my last 5 Mage Colleges in Killbar. This is no exhaustive list, but the ones I wanted to make sure were in there. Let’s dive in.

Killbarum Colleges Pt3

Here we are, the final five colleges, and of course as I made my way through these I thought about all the colleges that I’d left off the list. A pyromancers college would be great, an Abjuration/Exorcist college would be interesting to write about, and the list continues. Those will all be for a later day, as these last ones are what I have completed!

The Umbral Academy

Among the Colleges of Killbarum, the Umbral Academy’s reputation has always been low. It is whispered in the halls of the republic, among senators and the military that the Umbrals have never been as concerned with arcane study as they have insisted but hidden within their midst a cabal of merciless trained assassins and killers. Whether or not this is true was never borne out by any solid evidence, but the rumors continued to taint their reputation until the bitter end of the republic.

The Umbral Academy drew in many arcanologists who were interested in the workings of shadows, darkness, illusion, light, and deception. There was never an overwhelming tide of people seeking that sort of life, but it was continuous enough to maintain the college. Students would study the workings and manipulations of light as well as subtle methods of killing and manipulation. The reputation it had for underhanded dealings was well deserved, as the underbelly of the republic and senate was riddled with graduates of the umbral academy. The rumors of assassins, poisoners, thieves, and cutthroats trained by a mages college, however, have never been substantiated, or for that matter, disproved.

Like a fleeting shadow amidst the flickering flames, the Umbral Academy was impossible to destroy during the mage purge. While the physical college was destroyed, those who sacked it came down with crippling curses, physical maladies and, to the last, died within weeks of its destruction. Known umbral mages vanished completely, yet those who would harm their families also vanished. It became abundantly clear that to strike against the Umbral Academy was to strike against death itself, and they were quickly left alone, still hunted in word only.

Today, it is rumored that the Umbral Academy has relocated, to an underground college, restarting itself in the training of a new generation of shadow mages. Those who have the wherewithal to locate and apprentice to these dangerous sorts are now taught the new way of the Umbral mage, that of complete illusion, of striking from the darkness without warning. What was once rumored to be the hidden agenda of the Umbral mages is now assumed to be their only motive. Vengeance is stoked within their hearts, and none who wrong them will stay alive for long.

The Glacial Fraternity

There have always been those individuals fascinated with the elements. The Mages of the Glacial Fraternity are fixated on the use and worth of their favorite element, Ice. The glacial fraternity is known for being cold, both physically and emotionally, but also ferociously powerful when stirred. Their philosophy was, more often than not, wait and see where the results led before acting, either for or against such results. When brought to action, they were fierce, determined, and relentless. Ice magic also proved to be extremely useful in war, and there were branches that dedicated themselves to military applications. The college maintained a respected presence within the senate, but never pushed itself for more power, nor allowed itself to drop into obscurity, continuing the make their desires known when needed and keeping quiet when necessary.

The College attracted people fascinated with the power of ice, and a few others. It was not a group of esoteric learning mages who experimented with arcane theology, metamagical concepts, or other more ephemeral concepts. Instead, as the name suggests, they focused on the study and usage of ice magic. It’s a simple concept that attracts those who are already implicitly interested in the field. Those students who seek it out where those who felt the cold of ice in their veins, the call of winter, and the chill of a bitter breeze as a friend.

During the Mage Purge, the Glacial Fraternity took too long, as is their nature, to make a judgment about the situation, and many were accosted. Sadly, this often meant that the ice mage was attacked, and few of them had any compunction about using their powers to defend themselves or the lives of bystanders. There isn’t a single instance of a Glacial Mage going down without a fight, and often one that killed many destroyed much, and took the life of a single mage. Most of the other colleges were restrained by morality, shame, or madness, but this college was not. It quickly became known that it was prudent to present oneself with overwhelming force to a Glacial mage and tell them they had been exiled. Most of the time, they would simply nod and leave, and the few times they would not, the crowd backed down, knowing most of them wouldn’t make it out alive.

Now, the Glacial Fraternity has reopened its college, and begun accepting students as if nothing happened, just a temporary inconvenience, once again welcoming Arcanists both natural and studied to their halls. While students aren’t as prominent as they once were, it is clear that being one of the few remaining colleges to be completely open will serve to bolster their numbers and bring a diversity of thought to their once calculatingly brutal school.

The Athenaeum

Many of the colleges of Killbar are concerned with the knowledge of magic, its effects, and the way it interacts with the world. The Athenaeum is concerned with this as well, however, its main goal was to catalog and host all the knowledge possible on as many subjects as possible, using what magic it had accessible for research in order to discern what actually happened. Many of these mages committed themselves to travel widely across the continent in order to gather information and learn the context of a given event. They held libraries in nearly every city and town, having as much proliferation as the Lantern Society, serving the public and the republic alike.

Those who seek out the Athenaeum often did so out of altruistic reasons, seeking to serve their Republic and the people within, or having the drive to discover the mysteries of the past, delving its depths to uncover people, places, and time forgotten. Scattered wide among the world, the few at the Athenaeum who grew old and tired of a life wandering the world and serving others would make their home at the main campus, a wide-open library within the City of Killbar, accepting students, teaching them the ways and ensuring that anyone who wanted training in magical knowledge had a home, as they turned away no one who arrived at their door with even the slightest power.

During the Mage blight, like so many other colleges, the Athenaeum was assaulted, those unable to flee slain, those able to flee becoming fugitives. It was a dark time for the college, as much of its information was destroyed in the aftermath of the Purge. Thankfully, many were away on field research, looking up the information they didn’t have access to. Some few were able to avoid the fate inflicted upon so many others.

Now, those who remain seek to reconnect with the rest of their college and rebuild, perhaps founding a new main campus and creating a library to rival even their own mere decades ago. Many know it is a hopeless dream, yet they still attempt, as it provides them with purpose, giving them something to research and strive toward now that all of their resources have dried up. They must look to start anew amid the current chaos, something that they know many of them simply will not be able to do.

The Iron Mountain

Within the heart of Mt. Uribius, the mages of the Iron Mountain train, turning their very bodies into weapons and their minds into unassailable fortresses. No other College was as interested in the perfection of the body and, by extension, of the mind, as the Iron Mountain. They provided for public defense when the Killbarum military was not around and stood up against bandits and other rabble when needed. The Iron Mountain was a bastion of solid thinking and reliable force when needed, leading to its seemingly interminable position in the high ranks of power within the republic.

Life in the Iron Mountain, and of those who would join, was focused on physical prowess, honing one’s body, and with it, their mind. They trained in magic that strengthen and protect the body and mind and purge it of unwanted influences and undesired effects. This desire to improve themselves often lead them to have a particularly disdainful viewpoint on those who weren’t trying to improve their lot in life, finding those people unmotivated, uneducated, and weak-willed.

During the Mage Blight and the ensuing Purge, the Iron Mountain was nearly unaffected within the college. Those who were affected and could make it to the campus were taken in and purged of the blight, either through their own magical power or through the combined attention of dozens of mages trying to eliminate the affliction. They also maintained complete invulnerability due to their unassailable school, located in the heart of the mountain in the ruins of a once-grand civilization that carved out the mountain and left within its hollow heart great halls and chambers.

Following the Purge and the Mage Blight, where many of their outposts were lost and dozens of their friends and scholars who were unable to make it to the campus, the Iron Mountain has gone into reclusion, blaming themselves for many of the failings of the republic. Many of them no longer believe in the ideals of the republic, and some of them are even convinced that their own pursuits of perfection are in vain. They will reluctantly accept new students, much like their prior incarnation, taking them in and instructing them in the Colleges ways, but it is no longer with the zeal that they once had from generations of invulnerability and improvement.

College of the Crystal Iris

Within the City of Ketros, the relatively small college of the Crystal Iris grew up around the study and use of a specific, ancient, device. The Crystal Iris is a massive magical contraption that was found in the ruins of a tower in a small town. Over time, a number of mages gathered to study the instrument, with others naturally following. The Item had the ability when aligned correctly, do show myriad realities of past present and future, alternate dimensions, planes of existence, and all manner of other aspects of this reality and others. Using the item was difficult and complex, with magic being used to study its workings before working its magic.

An extremely small college, it never had a large reputation, nor a position within the senate that was formidable. Instead, the College focused its research on the mysterious object and its hundreds of years that it took to decode, and even then, never completely. New students were almost always those rare individuals who had an insatiable desire to solve mysteries, who looked at the curious object and thought about what it could do that it wasn’t.

The Mages of the College managed to keep their heads down, stay out of sight, and avoid most of the mage purge, and the mage blight itself. With such a small population, it seemed to pass them over, and they were able to hide those who were afflicted with the blight and prevent any wide-scale knowledge of their infection. With the Mayor of the town a member of the college, and her son the leader of the watch, they were also able to keep the city from turning on the college and were somehow never visited by the General or his troops.

This story of avoidance and protection is the story of many of the smaller, more humble colleges within the Republic, who were able to avoid the disaster that struck the republic. Like them, the College of the Crystal Iris now provides support to their host town, propping it up when all the structure has vanished from Killbarum and the city is on its own. Its labs are damaged, a number of mages have died in the ensuing years, and admission isn’t anything like it was in the glory days of Killbarum, but the synergistic relationship developed will continue for years to come.

The Scions of Thunder

Sometimes, a school is so exclusive that its existence is semi-mythical. If it wasn’t for the pair of senators that represented the Scions of Thunder, many would never encounter a Scion, though those that did remember it for the rest of their lives. The School taught the power of lightning, thunder, and storm, combining their destructive powers into a whirlwind that always centered on the magus who graduated.

Those drawn to the College had to seek out and find a current scion, and beg their training. The Scion was often too busy or important to train the prospective student, and would then divulge the location of the College, sending them on their way. Once at the college, it was a brutal training in both harnessing and enduring the power of the storm in order to one day control its power. It is known that a number of students would inevitably perish during training, but it was seen as a winnowing of those who couldn’t pass the muster of the storm god, Gestril, whom the college was fanatically devoted to.

During the purge, and even to this day, few know where the college resides, only that it does, and its graduates are fearsome and potent magus. When they were afflicted with the blight, their insanity nearly instantly took root, and their powers destroyed anything in their path. Any of the Scions that were found – infected or not – were ordered destroyed by the general’s forces, no matter the cost. Much like the glacial fraternity, the destruction of the Scions was a devastating affair, though in the case of the Scions it was often one which had no other options, as they gave no quarter and expected none. It is unknown how many were killed, or what toll it took on the college.

In truth, no one knows if the College and the scions still exist, or if they are accepting students. There are those few Scions left, the last of a powerful dying breed, those who were able to stave off the effects of the blight and evade the general’s forces. If one was to track them down, convince them that you were committed to training as a scion and they didn’t have the time or inkling to train an apprentice, it might be discovered if the college still remains, or if it has fallen into disrepair.