The famous Magical Academy of Ximax (also called the "Institute of Magic" or simply the "School of Magic") harbours twelve towers, six of them form the Inner Circle, six the Outer Circle, with a house between each tower of the Outer Circle. In the center of the Academy is the Orb of Ximax, an immensely powerful sphere of magical energy. Originally constructed in 2015 b.S. and restored in 621 b.S., the Ximax Academy is, today, an impressive site, home of some of the most powerful magi and archmagi in all of Caelereth. It stands as an enduring symbol of unity, perseverance, and pure magical might.
Picture description. The lobby of the Academy's Water Tower with its smooth, blue-veined black marble walls, featuring an immense ornamental fountain in its center. Picture drawn by Seeker.
The Academy of Ximax consists of three parts. For one there's the Inner Circle,
comprising the Elemental as well as the Xeuá and Ecuá Towers plus the
School/Shield Dome and the Inner Cortyard. Secondly, the Outer Circle consists
of the Guard Tower, the Infirmary and several additional towers and houses
dedicated to specific aspects of education and
magical and non-magical practices. The
last part of the Academy can be described as the Outside and Under the Circles
area, featuring gardens, recreation space, pastures and even the catacombs. In
the following we describe each part of the Academy in detail.
The Inner Circle. The Inner Circle of towers include the Xeuá Tower, the Ecuá Tower, the Wind Tower, the Water Tower, the Fire Tower, the Earth Tower, and, at the very heart of these, the Shield Dome, constructed to protect the outside from the immense power of the Ximax Orb. The Inner Circle represents the first structures built when the Academy was originally constructed around 2015 b.S., and the first to be repaired when a dedicated team of magi and architects restored the Academy in 621 b.S. While the school has undergone many changes, the original structure of the towers has remained more or less the same.
The towers are all unifyingly similar, and yet also distinctively unique. Each one is roughly cylindrical, roughly 200 peds high and 60 peds at the base; however, the towers taper, so that the base is larger than the top. This structure corresponds accurately to the internal levels of the towers, with level one magi (being the most numerous) on the lower floors and the archmage (of which there is only one per tower) residing at the top. The first floor is generally a lobby area, where magi of the tower often choose to meet up. The second floor serves as both a private library, with literature strictly for the study of that tower's element, as well as a fair number of areas for group and individual study. The next several floors contain classrooms, research labs, and study halls. Following these levels are the dorms and private rooms for all occupants of the tower, with the level one magi occupying the lower floors, followed by the second level magi, then the third, all the way to the archmage who resides at the pinnacle of the tower.
The means of transportation up and down the towers is also the same among them all. When the original towers were built, travel vertically up and down the towers worked through an intricate pulley-system, but the system was upgraded soon after through the use of a complicate Xeuá enchant. Through a magical, spoken formula, students may move up and down by activating this complex enchantment. Unfortunately, the enchantment wears off relatively quickly, and must be reapplied at least once (occasionally twice) per year, making the system a difficult one to apply outside the Academy. Naturally, the tower also has a set of stairs, which are still frequently used by students to different levels assuming the climb isn't too strenuous.
While the towers have many similarities, they are also uniquely different, having distinctive features and colour schemes. Thus, while the similarities give the impression of unity among all the towers, the idiosyncrasies in their appearance reflect the individual identity of each.
The Wind Tower
The Wind Tower (also called the "Indigo Tower/Ward", "The Tower of the Skies", and the "Tower of Wind"), which lies farthest to the east of any tower in the Inner Circle, seems to float between the Xeuá Tower and the Fire Tower. Up close, its shape seems indistinct and shifting, its colour always seeming to change as though with the weather. On some days, the tower appears a light bluish-purple, on others a stormy gray. Currents course all around its elegant figure, giving the tower, from a distance, the illusion of a distinct and concrete form.
Picture description. The turbulent Wind Tower lobby of the Academy in Ximax with its ever swirling currents of wind, which also features an impressive chandelier made entirely of lightning. Picture drawn by Seeker.
Between the tiles of the walkway around the Wind Tower, and planted close to
its walls, grow flora associated with
Grothar the Windlord and his colours, though the Academy harbours no strict
religious affiliation. Purplish ivy sends out its tendrils to find purchase on
the stones. Miniature willows, only about five peds high, tremble their silvery
leaves in every breath of air, while underfoot the lavender flowers and tough
stems of Y'rom give cushioning and scent along the path. The dainty cerubell
clusters its blossoms here and there, and
Shendar-silk banners of almost
elven-delicacy are hung from mithral-leafed poles amid the foliage. Silver hawk
bells are strung from the branches and give off their tinkling sound as the
trees sway. The grasses and plants surrounding the tower wave gently in the
breezes, and wind-carved statues occasionally produce a sound like music.
The inside of the Wind Tower is decorated in elegant purplish hues, tinged with pale blue and grey. The tower is lit in its entirety by braziers that, instead of holding a flame, hold glowing orbs of static charge. In the main lobby, with decoration inspired by the element of wind, hangs an impressive chandelier made entirely out of lightning. The chandelier, the only one of its kind, is a magnificent and startling sight. Above it, currents of wind continually flow, swirling and spiraling over the ceiling.
Within the tower are several small "rogue winds" that wander through the main halls and are often most prominent in the lobby and first few floors. The rogue winds seem to have a life of their own, and while none of the teachers will say where they came from, students generally assume that they are spells that, having gone haywire upon cast, now roam about the building--sometimes scattering papers or ruffling robes. Because these winds are rarely found in places where they might cause real disaster, they are completely harmless.
The Wind Tower has a special place within the realm of lore. According to myth, when the Tower of Wind falls, the Armageddon will be at hand.
The Water Tower
The Water Tower (also called the "Blue Tower/Ward", "The Tower of the Sea", and the "Tower of Water") lays nestled between the Xeuá Tower and the Earth Tower, to the northwest in the Inner Circle. Its sides, coloured in a soft, neutral blue hue, are rippled ever so slightly, and water continually runs down its sides, slipping along the smooth walls, to fall into the pool surrounding the structure.
To call the tumbled rocks and flowing water that completely surrounds the Water Tower a mere 'moat' would be to denigrate its magical beauty, not to mention disregarding the physical impossibility that the water is always flowing 'downhill' in its circle. No matter which angle one views it from, the stream continues dancing from left to right, widdershins around the tower, the bright liquid sparkling in its bed and chortling as it falls. Lush ferns are tucked among the rocks, and richly turkoise-hued mosses soften the edges of the walkways. A simple slab of blue-veined marble, white as a maiden's breast, forms the bridge to the misty archway that is the Water Tower's portal. No one, from student to archmage, can enter the tower without receiving Baveras’ kiss of moisture on his brow as he passes through that door.
The interior walls of the Water Tower are of smooth, blue-veined black marble, bordered along their lower edges by eophran-shaded wooden panels. The relatively few torches spread throughout the tower only barely lighten the shadowed walls. What light does exist is constantly refracting and shifting throughout the rooms and halls, as the niches in which each torch can be found are covered over by walls of water surging through clear glass panes about a fore in depth. Small moats run around the edges of the flooring, and the water that rolls down certain segments of the walls and into the moats create a constant sound of running streams.
The central landmark of the lobby is an immense ornamental fountain, with water flowing from the cavernous ceiling, down its intricately designed sides, into a moat at its base. The fountain is built from a variety of rocks in all shades and shape and held together by mortar. A few potted plants surround it, and some branches dip close enough to taste the cool water flowing down the edges.
The hallways of the tower have high ceilings, causing the light and sounds of water to echo throughout them. Only in the classrooms, study rooms, and student quarters are the lights fully lit, and the water silent.
The Fire Tower
The Fire Tower (also called the "Red Tower/Ward", the "Crimson Tower", and the "Tower of Flame") dwells to the southeast in the Inner Circle, smoldering mysteriously between the Wind Tower and the Ecuá Tower. The tower itself glows darkly, its sides shifting from a muted orange to a brooding red. From a distance, the Fire Tower appears as a dark crimson.
Vibrant and glowing, the precious stones that make up the pavement around the Fire Tower seem to burn like a bed of embers as the sun strikes them. Ruby, carnelion, amber, and topaz are scattered like beach pebbles, yet sunk immovably into the dark surface beneath. Yet at night the approach to the Fire Tower is even more spectacular. Great bronze braziers the height of a dwarf stand symmetrically along the aisle, a constant fire leaping in each. Scarlet to golden, copper to citrine, the colours of the flames flicker and change, seeming to form shapes that tug at the edge of understanding. The bronze door of the tower itself was cast by Thrumgolz smiths in the deepest lava caverns, and its pitted, facet-hammered surface throws back sparks of any light it catches. Two gilded drakes form the handles, their feet dug into the bronze and their backs arched to shape the grips.
The Red Tower’s interior is adorned throughout with warm colours, with shades of red, yellow and orange predominant throughout all floors of the tower. Notable throughout the lower levels of the tower is the complete lack of wood and other flammable materials, to prevent the chance of wooden tables, beds or stairs burning to a crisp in the event of a miscast spell or a prank gone awry. In the upper levels, wood is more prevalent as the more experienced magi are expected to have fewer spell fizzles than the lower ranked magi. The tower is protected by the well-known Fire Daughters, female Volkek-Oshra who have been trained to use magic staffs to protect their fellow orcs and the Elite Guard, male Volkek-Oshra who use carry magically imbued swords. Both of these groups patrol the tower both inside and out.
In the lobby, flanking the stairs to the upper levels, are two statues. On the left of the stairs is Gral the Powerful, first Volkek-Oshra Fire Archmage of Ximax. On the right hand side, and to the same height as Gral, is a statue of Anilya the Everbright. The eyes of both statues burn with fire. It is said that, should another tragedy befall Ximax – should enemies breach the Outer Circle and defeat the Fire Daughters and Elite Guard – these two figures would serve as the Academy’s last line of defense. Finally, instead of torches, candles or other similar lighting devices, the Fire Tower have small living flames that are said to be renewed regularly by fire magi residing within the tower. These flames, imbued with life-like qualities, dance like Black Butterfly Rovers, the sound of crackling flame resembling the laughter of women or children.
The Earth Tower
The Earth Tower (also called the "Green Tower/Ward" or the "Tower of Earth") lies farthest to the west of any tower in the Inner Circle, nestled comfortably between the Ecuá Tower and the Water Tower. Its rugged structure seems to be made up of one rough piece of dark stone with veins of dark green running through it.
While the qualities of the stone - its greyish-black colour with striking notes of green, are truly splendid, they are almost completely hidden: the first three levels of the Earth Tower are almost invisible under the cloak of foliage that it seems to have shrugged on around itself. Whether the cheerful greens of spring and summer, or the lovely yellows and browns of autumn, the slender baych trees always cluster around its walls. Even in winter climbing vines hug it like a woolen tunic, and warmth seems to radiate from its quiet stones. The pathway is simply beaten earth, ruddy with clays and textured with minute grains of sand, but along its edges are beautiful stones brought from across the continent, ‘sculpted by Urtengor’ as the Thergerim say. Here a chunk of nor’sidian from the south, cloven smoothly along its black planes – there white marble in its rough state – here a conglomerate of roseate crystals, each a handsbreadth or more – there the blue of Indiquartz and here the green patina of copper-ore bearing rock.
The entrance of the Earth Tower is guarded by thick double wooden doors made of black oak. Within, the tower is a wondrous beauty of natural stone, flora and sunlight. The interior walls of the tower are made of chalky gray stone with lush green vines that grasp the wall surface as it grows upwards and across the high ceiling. Black pillars of smooth, glossy stone stand like sentinels throughout the tower supporting the heavy structure. Each circular pillar is two fores in diameter with a surface like a mirror that sharply reflects anything catching its gaze. Banners and paintings depicting various events of Ximaxian history decorate the walls of the upper floors. Statues of varying sizes and shapes stand about the tower with many of them representing mythical beasts or heroes of war.
Most of the floors of the Earth Tower are naturally lit with sunshine during the day. Tall, thin glass windows allow the sunlight to stream in reflecting off the polished stone surfaces, though these windows are difficult to distinguish from the outside, as they blend into the architecture. At night, stone sconces hold torches that provide lighting in the sun's absence. Throughout the tower are stone garden boxes that grow an array of native Santharian flora including Ai'le bushes, dragonbells, and rosemint bushes. These plants provide a wide assortment of natural colours in addition to giving the entire tower a pleasant smell of constant springtime. Even small trees grow among the tower with the most popular being the Oha-ooy tree native to the peaks of the Sorceress' Mountain bordering the Brownie Vale. The Earth Tower is a highly cultivated place, natural in its splendor, and unique in its presentation.
The Xeuá Tower
The Xeuá Tower (also called the "White Tower/Ward" and the "Tower of Light") stands impressively at the Northeast of the Inner Circle. For travelers entering Ximax from the main entrance, the Guard Tower, the Xeuá Tower is the first of the inner circle towers that they see, and the tower itself, its elegant figure reaching into the clouds, seems to express the sentiment of unity.
No living plants are allowed to infringe on the immaculately white purity of the Xeua Tower. Its impact comes from the sheen and perfection of its stonework, and the bands of decorative piercing and relief carving that line its walls. Each piece of stone has been cut away from the surface inwards to a depth of almost a fingerjoint, seeming to float on thin tenons of support. Stone leaves and carved vines cast their own ‘shadows’ into the depth of the undercut rock; dolpholk appear to leap free of the stones; a marble dragonfly spreads wings one can almost see through; a child’s face hidden in shadow smiles enigmatically. These panels of intricate texture are relieved by wide expanses of plain stone, each block fitted so that parchment could not find a gap. Truly, the masons and sculptors here have expressed the essence of xeuá, the interconnectedness of all things.
Within the Tower, everything is a soft, pristine white. The tower is lit by glowing orbs along the walls and occasionally by rounded disks on the ceiling. The lobby area itself is lit by a large, flat disk that glows softly enough that one can peer at it without hurting their eyes - and should one look at it, they would see soft shadows in the disk itself, closer inspection revealing that the disk is, in fact, a rough map of Caelereth, symbolizing the unity of the world.
The theme of unity is reflected in other design aspects of the interior. The walls and floors of the tower are made of white marble with light veins of gray running through the rock, and have very light, almost unnoticeable, carvings of plants, animals, people, and places, all intertwined and interconnected. The statues of important archimagi and researchers within the field of xeuá, as well as the theorists that have influenced xeuá study, emerge from the walls, symbolizing how all research, theory, and thought is deeply connected to those who have come before.
The Ecuá Tower
On the opposite side of the entrance, the Ecuá Tower (also called the "Black Tower/Ward" and the "Tower of the Shadow") rests between the Earth Tower and the Fire Tower, quiet and imposing. It stands as a mirror image of the xeuá, as perfectly black as its sister is white. Yet here there is no carving at all, no decoration, no ornamentation, no landscaping. There is nothing but the tower – yet the powerful and unique design holds the eye in disbelief.
Here, the great blocks of blank stone appear to float, every one separate from the next. It is as if transparent mortar had been used, spread a thumb’s thickness between the blocks, although one cannot see ‘through’ into the depths of the Tower itself. There is simply nothingness between each block – blackness then nothingness. It is difficult to look at for long, and one instinctively averts the eye down to the broad roadway that leads up to the Ecuá Tower’s simple gate. It too is black, an apparently random arrangement of irregular stones set into the lighter paving. Yet the senior magi have been heard to claim, in higher-level classes, that the pattern in which these stones are arranged is based on the greater Pattern that holds the universe together.
Within the dark interior of the Ecuá Tower, blackness pervades all meager decoration and furnishings. The towers are lit by light enclosed in a breaking, fragmented orb, the light seeping through the large cracks. A larger version of these smaller orbs floats near the ceiling in the main lobby, the broken pieces more numerous, and constantly shifting so that the shadows along the wall move hauntingly, and the pattern of light across the walls and floor is never the same any time you pass through the room.
The walls and floor are made of black marble, gray veins slithering through it. Giant cracks scar the walls and floor, with only darkness filling them. While the design of the floors does not permit those who walk over it to fall through the cracks, many of the younger students believe that stepping on a crack will cause the dark abyss to swallow your soul, and for this reason, you see many nervous level ones and twos nervously avoiding the dark spaces. In the ceiling, dark fragments float and shift in shadow.
The School/Shield Dome
The Shield Dome is a curious construct with strange properties that add to its overall mystery. The structure lies at the very center of Ximax, and can, on some days, at some angles, be half-seen from a distance through the towers, and like a mirror it reflects celestial moods and lights. Only the top of Dome ever appears visible, and even it, on some days, seems to vanish completely; and even when it seems visible, it becomes more and more ephemeral as one approaches so that, by the time one comes to where the Dome should stand, it has vanished completely.
The ephemeral nature of the dome predisposes it to strange qualities. While students are not allowed to come close to the Dome, those who have been so bold as to toss a stone to where the structure should stand have reported the stone flies right through, and after a shimmering ripple, the Dome again appears transparent and unidentifiable. Those who have witnessed archmagi entering the Dome say that, like the stone, the magi leave a shimmer in their wake, but unlike the stone they vanish completely when they enter into the Dome.
The Dome's mysterious form and shifting visibility only enhance its astonishing beauty on the days and nights it comes into view. In the day, the Dome may appear light blue to reflect the sky on a clear day or gray to reflect it on a cloudy one. In rain, the droplets reveal its location, but never expose it. At night, when the top of the Dome is visible, it reflects moonlight and starlight, and seems to glow - an illuminated half-globe in the heart of Ximax.
Though the main herb gardens are elsewhere on the grounds of the Academy, many of the silvery-leaved healing herbs or grayish culinary plants flourish here, around the walls and along the pebbled paths. One cannot take a step without treading on some leaf or other and releasing the various scents: sharp, aromatic, tempting, soothing, stimulating. Students often pick a scrap of their favourite to tuck in their collars or the side of their hat, saying that it helps them concentrate during lessons, lectures, or examinations. ‘Greymint’ and ‘Sageweed’ are two of the more popular.
Because of the astonishing power and effects of the Ximax orb harbored within, only archmagi and the most powerful magi are permitted to enter the Dome. Only a select few, then, have ever been inside, and those who have do not speak of the interior. The internal appearance of the Dome thus remains a mystery, though one for which there is no lack of conjectures: many students have hypothesized about the inside of the structure - about its colour, occupants, objects. However, no one knows for sure what lies within the enigmatic Shield Dome.
The Inner Courtyard
When entering the heart of the academy itself, through the main entrance, the guard tower, one is greeted by a wide courtyard. Of course the first view of the imposing great inner towers catches the visitor‘s eye. Leading around the whole assembly of the Inner Towers is a broad path covered with grey-white sand pressed to a hard surface by many feet. From there smaller paths, the size depending on their use, lead to the individual Outer Towers and houses in between and between the tall Inner Towers to the Shield Dome.
Each inner tower is surrounded by its own plot of land, collectively known as the “Tower Gardens.” These areas, roughly hexagon-shaped, are one of the most famous attractions next to the buildings themselves. Each one borrows the theme of its tower: the areas around the Xeuá and Ecuá tower show no green, but are laid out in patterns of pure white or pure black, with perfectly formed pebbles of different sizes, from a few nailsbreadth to boulders of a ped in diameter. In the Wind Tower garden, thousands of grasses and other plants catch every little breeze, stone arrangements in between produce noises many perceive as music. The Earth Tower garden shows the most lush green and most diversity of plants, where the Fire Tower garden looks barren. Black volcanic stone on a red soil dominates this area, where you can find the entrance to the catacombs. This entrance is carved out of the earth itself by the Volkek-Oshra who reside in the catacombs, as well as members of the Zirghurim dwarven clan. A set of stairs, simple and unassuming go down into the catacombs.
The Outer Circle.
The Outer Circle of Ximax Academy contains six towers and six houses, occurring
in an alternating pattern to encircle the Inner Towers. Each tower in the Outer
Circle, like those in the Inner Circle, has a cylindrical yet tapering
structure. However, each tower reaches only 120
peds, making them
significantly shorter than the Inner Towers, and shrinking their base to about
36 peds. The houses, while
not as tall (thus having fewer floors), are longer, measuring 60 peds long and
36 peds wide, though only
36 peds high. All the
buildings in the Outer Circle are constructed of gray-white granite, mined from
the nearby hills.
The six towers and six houses occur in an alternating pattern such that the Guard Tower is flanked by two houses, the Guest House and the Stables. Moving clockwise from the Guest House is the Tower of Botany and Alchemy, the Grand Dining Hall, the Tower of Experimentation and Summoning, the Infirmary, the Tower of Numeracy and Astronomy, the House of Gymnastics, the Tower of Tomes, the House of Art and Music, the Tower of Foreign Magics and Cultures, and then of course the Stables and the Guard Tower.
The Guard Tower
The Guard Tower stands as the oldest tower of the Outer Circle - the first to be constructed. In its long history, the Guard Tower has assumed many names. Its old name was the “Tower of Passage,” and it is referred to as such in older records. Many students have nicknamed it the “Tower of Judgment,” believing that only the worthy may pass through its gate. The sides of the tower are constructed of large, granite stones placed one on top of the other, reaching to a height that makes the structure appear imposing despite being significantly shorter than the Inner Towers. When the tower was first constructed by Ungur Firehands, the walls were rough and slightly uneven, creating shadows along them. Since then, however, the walls have evened out, making the sides smooth, and accentuating the beauty of the grey-white granite.
The Guard Tower retains many features of its first construction, including very narrow windows and little ornamentation that give it a monolithic, austere form. Two small balconies ring the tower at its mid-section and near its pinnacle. This balcony is most commonly used for patrol, and occasionally Fire Sisters, members of the Elite Guard, or other Ximax Academy guards use the balcony to better view the surrounding area. During celebration, and especially on the arrival of distinguished guests, the balcony is utilized for trumpeters to play fanfare.
Unlike the other towers, the Guard Tower lacks its first few floors, due to an enormous gate in its center. This gate, which fits perfectly into the arched passageway leading through the Guard Tower, opens into the Academy, and is ornately constructed from iron. It is decorated with leaves, flowers, and other natural representations, all forged out of iron but with a realistic touch. This gate is relatively new, given as a gift by the councilmen of the City of Ximax following the magi’s assistance in rebuilding the city. The gate is 12 peds high, and is wide enough that six men on horseback can enter through it side-by-side.
Doors on either side of the gate’s passage through the tower, opening toward the Academy, lead to spiral staircases winding up into the tower. These stairs lead up to the middle and upper floors of the tower. The middle and upper floors contain some records, including some records of basic Academy finance and student records - records that are of no use to the Library Tower. In addition, the tower serves as a storage room for weapons, armor, and other war-related equipment. Most of these are old and rusted relics from the past. Many of the Academy administration would say that these things are kept in the Guard Tower in case of an attack, though most assume they’re kept here lacking a more appropriate place to put them.
The Guest House
As the largest and by far the most famous academy of magic anywhere in Caelereth, Ximax plays host to a constant stream of visitors throughout the year. Those with an official invitation are housed in the academy’s very own guest house, a rather grand four story building situated next to the Guard Tower. Whilst their horses rest in the stables nearby, the Guests are treated to a true taste of Ximax wealth and splendour and are expected to be suitably impressed. Indeed, even before they step through Guest-House doors they are offered the opportunity to admire the bright white cleanness of the stone outside, which seems to reflect the sunlight to slightly blinding levels, even on overcast days. Large arched windows face outwards to capture the light, glazed in huge sheets of glass.
Visitors enter the Guest House by way of two large central doors, made of the wood of a white birch and bleached to an almost unbelievably pale hue. The entrance hall takes up this simplistic theme, with clean smooth white stone covered in thick tapestries and carpets. Most of the lower story consists of shared areas open to all guests: the reception room, dining hall, sun lounge and music room. Here the visitors can relax and enjoy the Academy’s hospitality, which will hopefully discourage them from wandering around the academy complex. Well-dressed servants circle the rooms topping up the guests cups with infusions of rosemint or Cha’ah, or Artwine in the evenings: all magically kept at just the right temperature. There are even packs of cards for playing the popular Ximaxian game Specerat, although some prefer the Game of Four Houses.
The kitchens, used to prepare the guests meals, are also on this floor along with a scullery and laundry room, thus avoiding the need to carry water up and down the stairs. There are a few guest bedrooms for those non-human visitors who don’t feel comfortable above ground floor here too; several darker, low-ceilinged dwarf chambers, a couple of cosy hobbit-style rooms and even a small corridor with spaces for Brownies to sleep along the walls.
A wide, sweeping staircase in white stone allows access to the second and third floors where the sleeping quarters are set out. Each room is well equipped with a comfortable bed, washing basin and large wardrobe. Of course, the rooms are always kept at a comfortable temperature by fire magi, and therefore fires are not necessary. A couple, reserved for the really important dignitaries that such a place occasionally attracts, have their own private meeting room and even a bathroom attached to the main bed chamber. A system of bells will ensure that a servant can be summoned from their quarters on the top-most floor at any time of the day or night.
The Tower of Botany and
One might believe from rumours that the Tower of Botany and Alchemy is flourishing with overgrowth. Indeed, to some, it supposedly looks similar to the Earth Tower, with vines crawling up the sides of the spire and reaching towards the sky. The truth, however, is that the Tower of Botany and Alchemy is far more controlled than what one might assume. The path leading up to the tower contains neatly organized rows of plots, with reagents of all sorts planted in even lines, each given plenty of space to grow and flourish. Botanists regularly check the plants, watering them and making sure that no invasive pests are eating away at the greenery.
If one were to turn their gaze up towards the top of the white-stoned spire, they would catch flashes of light reflecting off of dark-tinted glass. Each floor of the tower contains four equal balconies, spread evenly around the circumference, and covered by this glass. Though the glass is darkened and hard to see through, one can catch sight of the shapes of herbs and flowers of all kinds underneath. Only a few of these balconies lack glass, making them open to the air and allowing the plants to kiss the air of Xaramon. Depending on the concoctions being brewed within the alchemistries at the top of spire, smoke can occasionally be seen rising out of the various vents placed around the outer walls.
Within the tower, the first sensation to reach the visitor is the smell. Whether the dainty winds of the malus trees growing in plots in the lobby, or the harsh rusty scent of sulfur and other chemicals in the various alchemy rooms, everywhere in the tower has at least something unique for the nose’s perusal.
The lowest floors of the tower contain the Academy’s stockrooms, where students and instructors can purchase or requisition any of the reagents produced by the tower’s gardens and alchemistries. Classrooms and alchemy labs take up most of the higher levels of the tower. The most dangerous alchemical experiments are housed in the alchemistries at the very top of the tower, where they can be kept ventilated easily.
The Grand Dining Hall
Unlike most of the other houses whose four stories are all the same height, The Grand Hall has slightly larger first, second, and third floors, making for taller, more impressive ceilings. The first three floors are the dining floors, while the top floor serves as living quarters for the cooks and chefs, and supplies everything they need to live comfortably. The interior of the main dining floors features high ceilings, arched pathways, and walls that are smooth save for elegantly curved arches and windows.
Diners enter the building from the front, through an impressive arched doorway that opens up to a small foyer and then into the first floor dining room. To the left of the main doorway in the foyer is a xeuá-run lift that will take one up to the second floor; to the right is another that will take one up to the third. There are, however, certain level restrictions, so that first-years, who dine on the first floor, are unable to take the lift up to the second.
The second door from the foyer into the dining hall opens into a large and impressive room, with thin, arched windows looking out either across a meadow or out upon a set of mountains, depending on one's position. The views seen through the window are illusion, but are nonetheless quite beautiful. By having these illusions, the building is able to keep a long, thin kitchen along the far wall of every dining room, hidden from view despite the windows. Between each window is an emerging arch that elegantly curves out from the stone walls to lean above the tables that fill the main halls. The pattern of arches and windows is occasionally broken by hearths along the sides of the building, six on each side, twelve per room. At the far end of each hall is an enormous window.
During meals, the room is lit with "sunlight", magically created, that comes through the windows. At night, the ceiling is filled with tens and tens of small, glowing orbs of light. Six types of orbs float in the hall, representing the six elements of Ximax Academy. The xeuá orb glows in soft white light; ecuá displays light through the cracks of a dark, fractured exterior. The wind orb carries lightning, and the fire orb flame. While earth orbs appear as softly glowing stone, like small sungems, the water orb seems filled with shimmering water glowing with its own internal light.
The Tower of
Experimentation and Summoning
The Tower of Experimenting and Summoning is an imposing stone spire. Its utilitarian design seems almost out of place when compared to some of the other, more elaborate towers built during the reconstruction. It is older than many, built in the militaristic style of Ungur Firehands, and was one of the few that survived the dark elven sacking of Ximax, saved supposedly by the very creatures that are normally kept barred within. As if to warn away anyone else who would attempt to unleash the magics housed here, a draconic statue coils around the crown of the spire, wings spread, its claws digging into the stone and its jaw open in a mighty roar towards the ground far beneath. The exterior of every second floor is ringed by six niches housing grotesques of all sorts of creatures, from dragons to netherbeasts, and beings that even the researchers within the tower no longer have any recollection of.
A single, ruined stone wall, wrapped and covered in vines and foliage, encircles the base of the tower, breaking only to allow the stone path that runs from the rest of the Academy reach the stairs leading into the tower. Statues of the Demon Lords Khalkaroth and Tsalokath flank the entrance of the tower, and they hold open the grand wooden doors during the daylight hours. A recently refurbished golden plaque depicting some long-forgotten demon resides in the tympanum above the door. Some magi resent the demonic depictions, which were carved in the days before Ximax outlawed Demonology, but so far no campaign to remove them has succeeded, largely because of the tower’s history.
As one enters the cathedral-like lobby, its high ceiling supported by four embroidered columns, they are greeted by eight large stone golems, ringing the interior of the tower. It is unclear if these golems are merely statues, or actual defensive constructs, as there has been no record of their having moved since the sacking of Ximax. Ximax scholars believe that these golems, if actually defensive in origin, are more for keeping whatever creatures lurk in the upper floors of the tower in, rather than hostile forces out.
Most of the lower floors of the tower are comprised of thick-walled experimentation and spell-testing rooms. It is thought that the largest hall, which takes up most of the third floor, was at one time used for dangerous mage duels, but this is now merely used for testing spell ranges. There is still a dueling chamber in the tower, located in the fourth floor, but it is smaller, highly regulated, and the participants use pre-made wands or staves with non-lethal spells rather than their own, potentially lethal talents. Even this little has frequently been the subject of heated debate.
The actual summoning rooms reside at the top of the spire, supposedly so that any creature that tries to escape must pass through the rest of the tower to get out, or leap to its doom and save the Academy the trouble of putting it down.
The needs of the students and instructors at the Ximaxian Magic Academy are many. One of the most important is the health needs, as well as medical instruction, for those housed on the Academy grounds. The Infirmary provides a peaceful place of physical and mental care for the wounded magi who may have injured themselves in a faulty spell cast, or simply those who require counseling. The Infirmary is housed in a large rectangular building constructed of stone and wood. The building is ages old, perhaps one of the first built on the Academy grounds. It stands at three floors tall and is equipped and managed by the most modern of equipment and healers available in all of Santharia. The Academy spares no expense when it comes to the health and well-being of its magi. The Infirmary is managed by magi skilled in using elemental magic for healing purposes, life magi, and even a few Nehtorian priests.
The ground floor of the Infirmary functions as the emergency area where the most wounded can be taken immediately to be cared for. Up to twelve rooms are designated for emergency treatment. Each day, the healers see perhaps a few hundred patients, with injuries ranging from burns to broken bones to stomach illnesses. Beds are equipped with soft blankets and pillows, and each room has a store of warm water and clean rags. Also on the ground floor, partially in the Vegetable and Herb Garden, is an herbarium greenhouse where all manner of healing herbs are grown. The Healing Herbarium is tended to by earth magi, and recently, the Infirmary hired a Brownie life mage to assist in growing the many delicate herbs.
The second floor functions as the counseling quarters and private rooms where patients may stay for days at a time to recover. This floor, like the emergency area, is managed by a staff of healers and magi who care for each patient's needs. The Infirmary is open day and night at all hours. The third and top floor houses the living quarters of the healers. Most of the Infirmary staff live permanently at the Academy, some having lived there for centuries. The current head of the Infirmary, an elven earth archmagi named Dorea Everforn, has been a healer at the Academy for over 500 years. Under her care, the Academy Infirmary is known as one of the best and most advanced in all of Santharia.
The Tower of Numeracy
The design of the Tower of Numeracy and Astronomy mirrors, quite clearly, the controversy of its inhabitants concerning their worldviews. The distinct structure of the tapering form based on the relations of numbers (emphasized by the balconies of the receding upper levels) are complemented by dreamlike depictions of star constellations and other celestial bodies. The whole tower has little embellishment apart from the finely carved stony railway of the balconies, to represent the beauty that lies in the clarity of the mathematical art. Special attention was paid in the decision to use immaculate gray stone. There are only doors and windows on the levels with access to a balcony; all other rooms are lit by sunlight caught on the roof and reflected throughout the tower with mirrors and lenses. At night, and on cloudy or rainy days, pinewood spills give sufficient light to enable regular studies.
The only adornment is the great sundial, sitting over a short archway. The wooden door is painted with a dark, but brilliant blue, with various numbers engraved; those are inlayed with silver and a bit of gold. The top of the tower was originally flat, built to allow the observations of the night sky. However, around 1620 a.S. a dome was added to protect the nightly researchers from wind and cold without the help of magic. Researchers can turn this dome in a full circle, and open its shutter wide in order to better observe celestial bodies.
The beautifully decorated interior contrasts sharply with the austere exterior. Paintings of the star constellation serve as the main attraction in the high roofed entrance hall. The shelves in the next levels, which contain the many books about numeracy, astronomy and celestial myths or showcases with astronomical instruments, have little ornamentation; however, the wood is so finely polished that none are needed. The most famous exhibit is a farseer device. Because of the initials CG scored in the brass of the device, many believe it may have been one of the first made by the gnome Chon Giin. The next twelve levels are designated for study, and each is easily distinguished by displaying a different star constellation, carved into the stone of the walls. Teachers and assistants sleep in the story of the Injèrá and the moon.
Despite all the internal and external beauty of the tower, it is known for a unique design feature: a hole, about three peds wide, penetrates the middle of each story, excluding the entrance hall. In its center hangs a pendulum, fixed on the ceiling of the observing platform above, reaching down to the first level of the library. This is the famous experiment of V.V.Viani and J.B. Leon, who try to prove their theory that the disk of Caelereth is turning around itself, moving in a bound rotation with the sun and the moon. However, this was the reason that astronomy and mathematics are now regarded even more as exotic fields of research, and are therefore considered as somewhat suspect.
The House of Gymnastics
The House of Gymnastics has been regarded as an integral part of the Academy of Magic since its founding. It provides a place for all citizens of Ximax to try their hands at a range of recreational pursuits, all designed to develop the body. Or, as a former head trainer of the House of Gymnastics put it ... 'to stop the intellectual giants of Ximax from becoming flabby around their backsides and stomachs.' This building has three floors. The ground floor is double the height of the floors of most of the houses and is mostly used for large indoor team sports. A multipurpose area is set up designed for games including Goal Ball, in which players must attempt to throw, bounce and toss a ball through a set of targets at the far end of the house, and smaller games such as Four Ranks. At other times, this floor is used for large group training sessions or when lectures need to be given to a group of magi and their apprentices.
The second floor of the House of Gymnastics holds several small training rooms, change rooms and wash rooms for those who use the house of gymnastics. In some of the training rooms, a series of weights have been created, made out of metals by members of the nearby Zirghurim dwarf clan. Other rooms on this level are set up so that people can engage in wrestling, fisticuffs, martial arts or general rough and tumble with others. Finally there are spaces made available on this floor for activities such as Arvins Arrows, Game of Four Houses or Specerat.
The final floor in this building is made up of not only equipment rooms for the activities of both the house and the recreation field, but also the living quarters for the trainers who manage the House on behalf of the Academy. The store room contains a variety of different items of equipment including balls, poles, targets, bats, cards and dice amongst other items. The current head trainer is a Kanapan who traveled down to Ximax five years earlier and stuck around to bring the magi and citizens of Ximax up to a suitable level of fitness. He has other Kanapans with him, as well as Kuglimz, elves, dwarves and humans from the tribes throughout Santharia.
The Library Tower
The Library Tower (also called the "Tower of Tomes", "Tower of Books", "Tower of History, Myth and Lore") stands as an impressive sight, its great height and width overshadowing the grounds beneath its hallowed being. The tower houses all of the great tomes, scrolls and written knowledge ever composed by Ximaxian magi. The tower also houses many foreign tomes, as well as ancient relics and artifacts. The tower is thus both a grand museum and trove of books that is one of the great wonders in all Xaramon. Only the great Compendium Library in New-Santhala and the Royal Library in Thalambath rival the Ximaxian Library.
Inside the tower, rows upon rows of bookshelves line the walls. Each shelf is over two peds long and three peds high. Crammed within each shelf are books of every size, shape and colour. Ancient works such as a copy of the Avaesthoria, Book of Aheh, Tome of Time and the Dwarven Rock Tales all find a home in the library. The first eight floors of the tower house the book collection. The ninth floor houses the hundreds of scrolls kept in all manner of condition under display cases made of glass and wood. The tenth floor houses the relics and functions as a museum. The upper floors are offices and living quarters for the dozens of librarians and archivists that maintain the collection day after day.
There are lower basement floors as well. Most visitors, and even students of the Academy, know little of the lower levels of the library tower. It is said that there are many underground levels and even a catacomb underneath it. Some students often say these lower levels function to keep the library’s many forbidden and dark texts locked away in vaults so as to keep curious eyes from reading the evil words within: books on summoning demons as well as many foreign books of magic. It is these tomes that the most powerful of the Ximaxian archmagi wish to keep hidden, or so it is said.
The House of Art and
The House of Art and Music is an impressive granite building and provides the citizens of Ximax and the magi of the Academy of Magic with a place to create, practice, refine and present their artistic endeavours. Regardless of their specific area of expertise, this house has the facilities to cater for the every need of the practitioners.
The ground floor of the house is dominated by the main performance area for musical, theatrical or dancing performances and boasts a sunken square stage area surrounded by tiered audience seating on three sides. The fourth side of the stage is covered by a black curtain behind which is a back stage area. This allows the performers to change costume, and serves as a place to rest while not performing. This floor also boasts a small lounge managed by a middle-aged halfling couple and their children from the Dogodan Shire in Enthronia. While the stage area is in use, this family sells not only hot and cold drinks, but also sweet and savoury foods to both patrons and performers. It is said amongst the magi and non-magi of Ximax that patrons and performers haven't lived until they have tasted the family's famous all-year pie.
The second floor is given over to those who wish to display their artistic works. The floor is dominated by a rather spacious gallery, each piece within it an original item produced on site at the House of Art and Music. Around the edges of the floor are storerooms for the items not currently on display. The gallery and storerooms, as well as the kiln on the third floor, are managed by a crusty old Zirghurim dwarf and his fiery Volkek-Oshra companion.
The third floor is occupied by a series of practice rooms and workshops allowing practitioners of either art, dance or music to create, refine and rehearse their works. The size of these rooms, and indeed the items found within these rooms depends on the primary use of each room. In the middle of this floor is a kiln in which the items of pottery and sculptures can be fired. The Volkek-Oshra mage spends most of her time on duty managing the use of the kiln.
The fourth and final floor is used as living quarters by the staff of the House of Art and Music. In addition to the managers of the different areas as described above, there are others including ticket sellers, ushers, wait staff, gallery staff and storeroom officials who reside here.
The Tower of Foreign
Magics and Cultures
Overlooking the exercise grounds to the south west of the Outer Circle is the Tower of Foreign Magics. It is a common joke among the more active of the magi that the sight of the large, book-filled building is the most excellent inspiration for continuing their outdoor pursuits. The thought of all those dusty tomes and long, complicated lectures is enough to throw many magi into further physical exploits.
In fact, although the lessons may be less practical than in the main towers, they are arguably far more rich in detail and possibility, well, at least if you talk to some of the lecturers there. Magi are treated (or subjected) to lectures in magics from all over Caelereth. Nybelmarian magics are particularly well represented, possibly due to the influence of Lord Coren FrozenZephyr, a sorcerer with a Nybelmarian background who also studied at Ximax. As he has spent many years studying what is left of the ancient and powerful magic once used by the now-extinct Krean, the theories of this magic regularly grace the timetable. Other past lecturers include the Marmarran, Mila Metariel, a Blood Mage, and the Orcric Khanaptu the Fierce who gave a fascinating insight to Orcal Pyromancy. Keeping the magi up to date with the latest devleopments, Decipher Ziron has also recently given a series of short, inconclusive lectures on 'Pyruna Semansis', a system which many believed only theoretical. He has so far been unable to convince the magical population otherwise.
Among the permanent residents of the Tower is one Rroa Goodmage, a redbark from the Llaoihrr tribe. After studying Life Magic at the Llaoihrr's Council Tree for over 30 years, her controversial move to Ximax has brought the knowledge of this ancient Brownie Magic to the students there. She has a small, specially built room and lecture theatre on the first floor, allowing her to carry out her daily routine with minimum effort. There are also rooms set aside for a Kasumarii darkpriest as these magi have so far to travel from their cold home of Cyhalloi that they rarely stay less than a few months.
While the Academy has a number of scholars specializing in the study of cleric magic, the twelfth floor has always been set aside to house a couple of visiting clerics of the Avarian Faith. Not only do these guests lecture on clerical magic, they also provide a source of support and spiritual guidance for students. Even Thalambathian wizards have a place in the tower, where they discuss and debate theory and practice with Ximaxian scholars. It is often rumoured that a secret portal leading to the Arcane Temple in Thalambath exists within the tower.
It is important to note that these lectures rarely teach the students to use these magics, but instead talk about the theories, ideas and capabilities of each. There are a couple of exceptions to this among the more permanent residents. Rroa Goodmage, for example, runs a small class for more advanced magi who are interested, teaching them some basic healing techniques using Life Magic. A few rare lessons in Thalambathian Arcanistry, which the wizards have allowed to be shared, have equally caught on with some students, due to its compatibility and similarities to Ximaxian magic. Several of the Kasumarii visitors have also tried to teach their branch of magic, although the students are often unable to progress very far as they lack the faith that drives this magic.
The Stable House, like many of the houses in the Outer Circle, is four stories high. Horses are kept on the first three levels, with the top level reserved for storage and living spaces for all the people needed to care for the horses and address their various needs, including stable hands, groomers, veterinarians, leather workers, and blacksmiths. There is also a small mess hall on this floor, along with all the amenities needed to make it a comfortable living area for the workers.
The first level holds a number of horse stalls as well as the forge, where the blacksmiths create and repair bits, harnesses, horseshoes, etc. There is also a leather-makers workshop on the second floor of the building. The stables only have a workshop, not a tannery, often opting to purchase leather in town rather than making it on the grounds, since saddles, stirrups, reins etc. rarely need significant repair. The first floor holds the main tack room, though there are smaller tack rooms on every floor, to keep the various saddles, bridles, halters, etc. for the horses. The first floor also has several areas reserved for cleaning and grooming the horses.
Hay and horse feed are stored on every floor, in large storage areas near the stalls. The floors are connected through gently sloping walkways to move horses up and down floors. The dedicated workers take care of the horses, feeding them in the mornings and night, putting them out to graze in a field contiguous to the Recreation field (during the day in winter, during night in summer). The same Centaurorian family has run the Stables for eight generations, and the head blacksmith from the same Mitharim family for six generations. Because of close work, close quarters, and many years, sometimes decades, working with one another, all those who work in the stable are remarkably efficient.
Outside and Under the Circles.
The Magic Academy is fortunate among the many institutions throughout
Santharia; unlike many others, which are surrounded
closely by other buildings, the Magic Academy has a great deal of wide open
space. The school’s fortunate circumstance has been credited in part to an
explosion at the Academy during the Age of Havoc, shortly after the annexing of
Ximax in 1480 a.S. While the academy suffered only
slight damage, the older parts of Ximax City were
destroyed. Since then, the citizens of Ximax, fearing
another explosion, have refused to build around the Academy.
Surrounding the outer towers of the Academy are fields, gardens and pastures. Between the city of Ximax and the Academy’s Guard Tower are ornamental gardens, consisting of numerous flowering plants, shrubs, bushes and trees. The ornamental gardens extend from the stables to the Guesthouse. Flanking the ornamental gardens are the Academy’s pastures, where the horses can graze and roam. These wide pastures border the stables, The Tower of Foreign Magics and Cultures, The House of Arts and Music, and the Library Tower.
Next to the pastures are the recreational area consisting of fields and used for a variety of physical pursuits. These fields border the Library Tower, House of Gymnastics, Tower of Foreign Magic, Infirmary and Tower of Experimentation. Completing the circuit around the outer circle is the Botany Garden, providing both fresh food for the Academy, as well as further opportunities for study. The Botany Gardens border the Tower of Experimentation, Dining Hall, Tower of Botany and the Guest House.
Surrounding these fields is a ditch, filled with water. This ditch is approximately ten peds away from the outer towers and houses and provides a clear boundary between the Academy and the rest of Ximax. Sea roses and other plants give it a pretty look, but its purpose is to provide the three gardens with water for wherever it is needed.
The Entrance Gardens
When entering upon the Academy grounds, you pass through the ivy covered remnants of the old gate that once defended the Inner City of Ximax. On your way to the Guard Tower, you are drawn through another kind of gate: the branches and leaves of two enormous Merloea trees form an arch that seems to compel you to go through it. More trees grow alongside the stone walls, which frame the entrance garden. These Merloas are planted within a distance of seven peds to the enclosure and touched with a knowing hand to look uniform, but natural at the same time. Once through this natural gate, the entire assembly of Academy towers all come into view for the first time: elegant figures stretching skyward.
The garden itself presents neatly cut hedges trimmed to display the different symbols for the elements of wind, fire, water and earth. Flowers featuring the colours of the elements accompany these elemental symbols. The paths in between hedges are covered with different coloured gravel: the smaller, dark paths, which may end suddenly, represent ecuá; the bigger, white ones that encircle every single elemental symbol represent xeuá. Near the houses six hedge-framed sections are reserved for each of the six schools at the Academy. They serve their respective school as a space to present its element through an artistic, magical object created by the graduating class. Because a new class graduates each year, the appearance of the ornamental gardens changes frequently.
A wide road would lead directly to the gate of the guard tower if not for a huge fountain in its center. The intricately designed structure forces all who take the path to pass around its white form. There, standing on a rocky pedestal, “magic” is portrayed as a woman sculpted out of a light grey stone with slightly darker veins winding through it. She wears a simple dress, but green vines, often flowering, climb her body and adorn her lithe figure, though they never seem to overgrow her. On her head is a kind of crown, ornamentally carved. In even the smallest breeze, music emerges from this crown, as if hundreds of tiny flutes where in it. In her left hand she carries a censor, where a real fire always burns; her right arm holds an amphora from which water pours down over the rocky pedestal. This landing sits in the centre of a white, flat bowl three peds in diameter. From there the water cascades further into an even larger bowl, black in colour. This final bowl releases the water to a small channel hidden in the brush. A flowerbed in the colours of the six magical schools embraces the fountain.
The Recreation Area
The recreational area of the Ximax Academy provides opportunities for the magi and citizens of Ximax alike to participate in a wide range of outdoor activities. Around the trees growing in groves along the edges of the field, small groups gather to take part in games of mir’bal. Another popular pastime for apprentice magi is to pack picnics and sit down amongst the trees to enjoy the open air and watch people using the field proper. Depending on the time of year, the Academy residents enjoy a range of different activities. During the warmer months, residents and visitors use the pond for a variety of water activities including swimming, diving, and the ever-popular water-fight game. Residents also play hitball during these months. Hitball involves someone throwing a ball underarm down at one of two batsmen who attempt to hit the ball as far as possible to score points.
During the colder months, magi and visitors alike replace water play and Hitball with athletic foot races, including one in which participants have to overcome a range of obstacles both mundane and magical. By general consensus of the archmagi of the schools, magical obstacles are only used against those with magical training. Academy residents and visitors also enjoy Breakitdown at this time of year. Breakitdown involves two teams of equal numbers attempting to force their team forward through their opponents, at the same time as stopping their opponents from getting through to their end of the field. This game is rather rough, and the Infirmary is often called upon to take care of the injuries that frequently occur. More recently, kikkit has begun to rival breakitdown at Ximax, which has occasionally led to confrontations and disagreements between proponents of kikkit and breakitdown. During the last season, the players made an attempt to combine breakitdown and kikkit into one game, and while it met with limited success, it did result in the creation of a new game: kikkitdown.
The Stables house the horses for the magi who call the Academy home. In order to provide for these horses, the Academy has expansive pastures. This area was once part of the old city of Ximax and is rather large, the largest of all the areas bordering the outer circle of the Academy. Ruined buildings in parts of the pastures provide places for the horses to escape storm and lightning if they are out during such weather.
Most of the area, however, is grassland and provides plenty of opportunity for the horses to run and graze. In the paddocks near the stables, staff exercise and train the horses. wizardleaf, alth'ho grass, wean grass and small clumps of the trinity herb are found in this area, and munched on with great enjoyment by the horses. Even the zifel plant grows here, flourishing among the ruins of the old city, much to the chagrin of those who seek to stamp it out. The ditch on the outer reaches of the pasture provides water for the horses while out in the pasture.
The Vegetable and Herb
To the southeast of the towers and houses that make up the Academy lies the vegetable and herb garden; a large area set aside for the cultivation of all those little plants used in cooking, healing or just to give the user an extra magical boost. The Infirmary, Dining Hall and the Botany and Alchemy Tower all back onto this botanist’s paradise.
About a third of this section is devoted to healing herbs, which is then split into four smaller squares, one per element. Fire, earth, water and air each get a separate raised rectangle of earth, put at just the right height for easy picking and arranged with one as each side of the square. All the healing herbs are given a particular element; fire for the drought-loving kmeen, earth for the slimy odea moss, water for the cooling jeshanna and air for the wind-loving trinity herb. In order to keep the earth in their respective plots, each is surrounded by cut stones, each carved with symbols representing the plot’s element. These four rectangular beds are arranged in a large square, the centre of which is furnished with a plain stone bench. This allows a few people to sit and enjoy the various scents wafting gently around them. A huge weeping willow grows beside the corner of the water area, throwing cool shade over the sitting area, and providing the music of the wind through its leaves.
The cooking area takes up most of the rest of the area. It may look slightly less ordered as it is simply an area of soil, but in fact these rows of vegetables are meticulously planned out to ensure the maximum yield in all seasons. Flavouring herbs flourish along one edge, with many rows of tuberous staples in the middle and a number of nut bushes forming a low hedge at the back. There are even a few more exotic plants like kao kao and cha’ah tea. These are grown in a small enclosure open at one end and roofless, which enchanted to keep the temperature constantly warm enough for them to really flourish. The walls are made from hundreds of small pieces of glass, all fused together through some feat of magic or heat.
More of these glass houses stand at one end of the gardens, all smaller than the man-sized one in the cooking area. The smaller ones are roofed boxes that can be lifted up to get at the delicate plants underneath, whilst larger ones have removable lids or can be stepped into. These glass houses are all enchanted, like the cooking one, to provide the perfect conditions for the plants inside. Even wizardleaf, a plant that only grows on sites of strong magical energy, is able to be contained to one small area with this method.
Constructed by the Volkek-Oshra since the arrival of the Orcish Society of Enlightenment in Ximax, the Catacombs house the studies, meeting places, shops and arena of the orcish citizens of the magical city. Carved out of the rock beneath Ximax with the assistance of the Zirghurim dwarves and centered beneath the Red Tower, the catacombs are lightened by a series of torches that are lit twenty-four hours a day. Lowly ranked magi amongst the Volkek-Oshra are charged with the task of ensuring the torches are always burning.
The catacombs also hold the largest image of Anilya the Everbright found anywhere in the magic city. This image stands an impressive 4 peds tall and depicts this mythical figure burning a large number of inhuman creatures with her power. Anilya is considered by a growing number of Volkek-Oshra and human fire magi as the Patron of Magic. In addition to this public display, a number of Volkek-Oshra are rumoured to have smaller, private statues of her in their possession, indicative of membership to the Everbright Cult. Members of the Elite Guard, Volkek-Oshra armed with magically imbued swords and the Fire Daughters, Volkek-Oshra who use magical staves in battle help to ensure that their fellow orcish residents are left unmolested in their homes.