“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 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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