The Land of Valleys

The Land of Valleys is called such because multiple mountain ranges crisscross it, like terrestrial hatching. Kingdoms, seas, and nomadic lands sit in the valleys of the mountains, and boundaries are more often on peaks than anywhere else.

Magic has been here since time immemorial. It hides in the corners of the world, and seems to be innate to existence. It comes from a plane beyond the material, and seems to have multiple ways of channeling it; logical, emotional, environmental. Ways of drawing the power out from the aether are many, and much of the advancement of the abilities of humanity so far has been the ability to collect and archive our understanding of magic.

Teaching magic has become as time honored a tradition as fearing and worshiping it, and in older times, court wizards would simply take apprentices. In the last few millennia though, organized schools of magic have exerted an increasing influence on societies. Many magical societies have sprung up in the fiefdoms and societies of the Valleys, but none more prestigious, honored, and advanced than the new King's College of Magicians, in the land of Rydania. The KCM is rich, powerful, and well-connected. Anyone who attended it would expect to be in the highest echelons of society in multiple kingdoms across the land, and would easily gain fiefdoms or commissions with the highest courts and people, eventually growing to the most powerful and respected wizards of the world.

This story, however, is not about that school.

Instead, it is about the ancient floating island-castle called Terallon. Terallon has existed with a group of other floating islands, called Aeries, since as long as recorded history has began. Terallon, however, is one of the only ones left or seen in the last few centuries. In the imagination, the grand wizards of Terallon have exorbitant political power and resources beyond imagine due to the legends of it's influence in overthrowing dynasties, taking sides in wars, destroying great evils, and sometimes doing great evils.

In reality, the castle is outdated, and it's resources running low. Previously, the guardians of the castle would use the influence generated by members of it's society in courts to ban other societies of magic in entire kingdoms and therefore gain a monopoly on magic in other realms. Some few centuries ago, Terallon virtually controlled a large swath of the entire continent indirectly in this way, as well as having a monopoly on magical education. However, in the modern day, the proliferation of other newer and richer schools has severely weakened it's political grip. Compared to the rich and fancy new schools like the KCM, Terallon is financially weak, politically ignored, and increasingly irrelevant to the politics of the day. However, the legends still exist, and in many lands, the wizards of Terallon have not been heard of for generations. The mythical status of Terallon hasn't faded with time, and Terallon still holds some implied power.

Nobody knows everything inside of the castle, and they would be foolish to try to find out, because reality warps the more you seem to venture into it. It is ruled by a conclave of wizards who elect a dictator to serve for two decades; not much else is known about the secrecy surrounding how the castle is run.

What is known, is that Terallon admits many students from the continent below the school, and currently hosts some hundred or so of all ages. Terallon's recruitment process is opaque and often illegal in the lands in which it operates; what is known is that potential wizards in adolescence who yearn to go there and meet it's requirements somehow are transported to the island when their primary magical education begins, presumably by established wizards, and then learn basic magical theory until ready to take the next step. Students in later ages, who already have a solid backing of magic and presumably the money to buy their way in, may contact the school independently.

Many kingdoms and organizations socially discourage or ban going to Terallon due to not wanting competition with their own organizations, and spread nasty rumors about what recruitments end up as. This means that if you were born outside Terallon, you are usually not attending with the blessings of your rulers…

You are among the oldest not yet to receive any official assignments yet, and are in the final years of your secondary teaching. Now is the time you are allowed the most freedom before you are given a commission as a proper Journeyman Wizard. Although the age for your class group isn't standardized, most of them are around the age of sixteen.

Perhaps you are one of the few who were born in the school or was taken in at a very early age. In that case, you are also very acquianted with the halls and classrooms of the school, though no single person can claim to know Terallon's deepest secrets. You are, however, looked upon as strange in the eyes of most of the rest of the students.

Otherwise, maybe you are a recent attendee who is self-taught or attended magical schooling elsewhere. In this case, you would have much money to your name to attend, and have the best knowledge of the outside world. There are more and more of these students in recent centuries, caused by Terallon's financial troubles. Unfortunately, you would know little of the school.

Or, you may be one of the vast majority of Terallon's students, who were taken in while they were adolescents from foreign lands (often not without resistance) and taught from scratch. You will not have any deep knowledge of the school, nor will you have much money. However, you will have the most social connections and be the most accepted of the students at the school. You can also expect the teachers to have the most favorable view of you.

Whomever you are, the new semester awaits in the mysterious castle, and you have much to learn if you expect to change the world.

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