Archive | April 9, 2013

The Black Tower and its Council – a setting piece of Dragons Next Door

“What is the Black Tower?” The dragon cocked its head to the side, narrowly missing knocking over the fence.

I blinked. The Tower has such a reputation among our people that it’s hard to remember it’s not that well known outside of the community. Even most other humans wouldn’t know what I was talking about – and I imagine the dragons handled such things in their own way. “The Black Tower is…” I resisted the impulse to end that with “…the Black Tower.” “It’s an academy of magic, considered highly prestigious but also highly dangerous. Sage attended there.”

“Ah, the Sandborn.” Zizny nodded. “We have heard of that place. On rare occasion, a young dragon will study there.”

“Yes, the Sandborn.” I’d forgotten it had a proper name.

The Black Tower

The Sandborn Academy, the Black Tower, is a spire sticking into the sky, a nightmare against the night-time, the whisper lazy parents use to threaten naughty children. “If you’re not good, the Black Tower will send someone to get you.”

The Black Tower has no interest in naughty children. The Black Tower has very little interest in children at all, except as a necessary step in getting to the next generation of magi.

That is, of course, only as much as the Black Tower has a self to exhibit any interest at all. Regardless of rumor, conjecture, or fear, the buildings of the Black Tower do not, themselves, have sentience (yet).

The sentience of Sandborn Academy resides in its Head and its Council of Elders – seven magi who rule over the school with an iron fist and a steel-belted will. How they determine things within the confines of their Council chamber is a mystery; their dictates are handed down without explanation and with very little chance for appeal, and, in public, the Council presents a united front.

Their dictates rule everything in the Black Tower: who is admitted, and when; what the uniforms look like, and when they change; what is taught on the curriculum, and in the special independent study classes; what is served for dinner in the Dining Halls. Their dictates also determine when a member of the Council retires or is promoted to Head, and who joins the Council, and when.

There is nobody living who has ever met someone who has turned down a seat on the Black Tower Council. They may be the deans of a secondary school, but their power stretches far further than that.

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Questioned, a story for the Giraffe Call (@Inventrix)

For [personal profile] inventrix‘s prompt.

Mikary had heard the calling so loudly she had thought, for a moment, she was going deaf.

She had taken that calling and hitched her wagon to it, packed her whole life into two packs and gone questing.

“Why now?” her mother moaned. “The lovely boy down the street was just beginning to look at you properly.”

“Why there?” her father frowned. “There’s dangers on the road you can’t imagine, and monsters in the woods.”

“Why Andrung?” Everyone wanted to know that. “Why the Missing god, the lost god, the failed god?”

“Why Paladin?” The boy down the street was as lovely as Mikary’s mother said. “Why god-touched, why pure, why would you go adventuring at all?”

Mikary had no answers for them, so she gave none. The voice of Andrung was loud in her head, so loud she could barely hear the questions anyway. She packed up what few possessions she had, and she walked.

“Why now?” Villagers could see the godhead about her, and that was enough for them to give her sustenance and shelter, to ask her for blessings and prayers. It was enough for them to ask questions. “The roads will be wet with mud and thick with brigands, now.”

“Why there?” The other Paladins she passed were generally polite enough not to sneer at her choice of faith, but her choice of locations, on the other hand… “That forest has been blasted and useless for generations.’

“Why Andrung?” Even the Paladins asked that eventually. “Why the god that left, the god that does nothing, the god with no light?”

Mikary had no answers for them, so she gave none. She gave blessings – Andrung had no light, but there was warmth aplenty. Andrung may do nothing, but the gift of the god allowed Mikary to do plenty.

On the road, at least, nobody asked “Why Paladin.”

“Why now?” The forest was dark, and the voice of the god had left her head. The only voice was the traveler in front of her – tall, taller than the tallest man in Mikary’s village, and nearly as broad as the road. “Why do you travel now, when the farms need tending?”

“Why here?” His companion stepped from the forest. Only half as tall as the first one, he was twice as wide. “Why come to the depth of the world, where the monsters live”?

“Why a paladin of Andrung?” This one was a shadow on the other side of the road, with a voice like a granny. “Why the god the world bypassed? Why the god who was thrown off?”

For them, Mikary found she had answers.

“I come now because I was called. The roads are muddy, the crops need tending, and the man back home will have found another girl when I return. But now is when Andrung called me.

“And here is where he called. I answer the voice of my god, to the forest dark and blasted and perhaps full of monsters, because the god called me here. Where else would I walk?

“And who else would I choose? Andrung chose me, when naught else would satisfy. The forsaken god, the forsworn god, perhaps, but I come here, I came now, I came for Andrung. Because Andrung called me.”

“Then come to your god.” The three spoke as one, and Mikary understood, finally, why she had come.

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