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46  Santharian World Development / Santharian Artists Workshop and Resources / Re: Norong Sorno Volcano picture on: 29 January 2010, 20:28:33
Oh! And I just noticed, I can see small plumes of smoke rising from Thalambath. VERY nice attention to detail there, Seeker. :D

47  Santharian World Development / Santharian Artists Workshop and Resources / Re: Norong Sorno Volcano picture on: 29 January 2010, 20:25:34
I think the white people fit in much better, they are not just black termites on the sand - they are Shen-Siuu! (Fox, you only want them to be from Thalambath ! ;) )

Nuh uh. Thalambathians aren't that dark. :P

Anyway, white makes the characters look too unfinished. Black made them look like silhouettes, which looks finished. If they are going to stay white, then they will need their clothes, skin, etc to be coloured. Leaving them as purely white does not look good IMO. Black hides all detal, but white shows it. So if they're going to be white, that detail will be visible and needs to be coloured, despite how far away/small that detail would be.

48  Santharian World Development / Santharian Artists Workshop and Resources / Re: Norong Sorno Volcano picture on: 29 January 2010, 14:18:47
I really like it now!

Only critique I have now is to argue against Talia's. I personally think the black people looked better than the white ones. :P (oh dear that sounds racist)



Oh, and why is there black in the top right corner?

49  Santharian World Development / Santharian Artists Workshop and Resources / Re: Norong Sorno Volcano picture on: 28 January 2010, 21:36:14
To follow up on Talia's example of where Thalambath would be (barely) seen, here's a slight alteration of hers to show a tiny bit of what details we would see at this point.

A top-down 'blueprint' of the city can be found here, to give you an idea of the layout that would be visible from here (however slight).

50  Santharian World Development / Santharian Artists Workshop and Resources / Re: Norong Sorno Volcano picture on: 28 January 2010, 15:55:28
I like this version a lot better. Certainly looks much, much larger.

I'm curious what those little... I don't know, it sort of looks like a tunnel... is in the right side of the picture, in the dunes, about in the middle. Is that supposed to be some kind of settlement? Or...?
51  Santharian World Development / Santharian Artists Workshop and Resources / Re: Norong Sorno Volcano picture on: 27 January 2010, 21:22:03
I have to agree with Talia. It seems to look a bit small to me. It might be because of the really detailed close-up of the dunes nearest the 'painter', which seems to reduce the scale of the mountain itself since it doesn't seem to be as far away.

The shape and terrain otherwise looks great though. Just the size (and color as Talia mentioned).


Also, might it be possible to add a small segment of Thalambath to the left of the volcano? Assuming that the direction we are viewing the Norong'Sorno is from its eastern side, then Thalambath would be visible along the southern (left) side. That might also help the size issue, too, as if the buildings look very small, then that will make the volcano look larger. The building essentially go up the side of the mountain for a way, and then start digging into the side of the mountain at the very northern edge of the city. You'd have to read the Thalambath entry to get a clearer image, if you decide to do this. I could also do a rough addition to your picture of how far up the buildings would go to give you an idea of what exactly I'm thinking of, if you'd like.

Alternatively, one could assume that the southern side has a ridge that covers up the buildings (I can see such a ridge by looking at your picture already, it could just be made more pronounced and higher up) so that one wouldn't see them from this angle. Your choice.
52  Organization and General Discussions / Announcements and Web Design / Re: Site Update 24-01-2010 on: 26 January 2010, 15:39:47
Ok, has been replaced now!

Have you not uploaded it yet, Arti? I did a Shift-Reload on the page and it's still showing the old one. Although, if you haven't, there's a slight change needed. When Rayne added the paragraph to the post, she accidentally deleted the first three sentences. So the full replaced version of the Lightning Drake's myth section should be:

Quote
During the year of darkness following the Dragonstorm, myth weaves the tale of a great storm that raged over Thalambath. For weeks it showered over the city. The people called and cried for reprieve from the horrible thunderstorm that threw down lightning from dark and tumultuous skies, from the thunder that roared through the air. They prayed to Avhan to stop the endless storm, but as the storm arose from their sins, Avhan would not eliminate it entirely from the sky. However, hearing their cries, he chose to take mercy, and decided to give the storm a more corporeal form, turning it into hundreds of drakes that fled to the nearby volcanoes, and there they have dwelled ever since.  When the storms again come to the area, the people of Thalambath say these dragons are to remind them of their sins, and the dragons flit through the storm as a demonstration to those beneath of Avhan's power, as well as his mercy.


Thanks!
53  Organization and General Discussions / Non-Santharian Stuff: Life, the Universe & Everything / Re: Hogwarts or Santharia? on: 25 January 2010, 10:57:55
To answer about Thalambath: There are VERY few wizards in Thalambath. It is a VERY elite occupation. You have to come from a high birth family (or somehow get patronage), and your political connections determine whether or not you actually get in even then.

Expect no more than 500 Thalambathian wizards total in all of Santharia. Probably *much* less than that. Likely no more than 200 students at most, if not less than 100.

54  Santharian World Development / The Santharian Bestiary / Re: Lightning Drake (For Seeker) on: 25 January 2010, 03:45:01
Oh dear.

Rayne I just noticed when this went up that you hadn't edited in the Myth section with my proposed changes. I hadn't double-checked it since your later posts said the religion thing had been clarified and fixed so I thought that meant you had made the change.

Could you please go back and replace the myth section with the edited form I wrote in my other post? We'll then need to inform Arti that he needs to edit it on site.

Sorry!


Avhan is considered an omnipotent god, so he would not be one who 'could not eliminate it (the storm) entirely from the sky'.

On the other hand, he would make it a punishment for sins. You could instead say,

"They prayed to Avhan to stop the endless storm, but as the storm arose from their sins, Avhan would not eliminate it entirely from the sky. However, hearing their cries, he chose to take mercy, and decided to give the storm a more corporeal form, turning it into hundreds of drakes that fled to the nearby volcanoes, and there they have dwelled ever since.  When the storms again come to the area, the people of Thalambath say these dragons are to remind them of their sins, and the dragons flit through the storm as a demonstration to those beneath of Avhan's power, as well as his mercy."

:)
55  Organization and General Discussions / Announcements and Web Design / Re: Happy Birthday Rayne! on: 24 January 2010, 16:07:34
Happy Birthday Rayne! <3


pet
56  Santharian World Development / Magic in the Lands of Caelereth / Re: Ximax Academy - Working Draft II on: 19 January 2010, 16:41:47
Changed it to "black."

Next time, just tell me. I promise I won't cry.

Well I never know with you. You're the one that likes to debate things and get reasons for everything!

;)
57  Santharian World Development / Magic in the Lands of Caelereth / Re: Ximax Academy - Working Draft II on: 19 January 2010, 13:30:05
Yes, I would prefer it black, thank you.

58  Santharian World Development / Magic in the Lands of Caelereth / Re: Ximax Academy - Working Draft II on: 19 January 2010, 12:57:01
Yes, but the entire outside is white. :P If anything, the difference between white on the outside and black on the inside represents the chaotic nature of Water. Creation and destruction (water or poison, and water both supports life as well as erodes it over time).

Point is, if you're going to rule out black because it is associated with Ecua, then it would also be equally necessary to rule out white since it is associated with Xeua. I just don't see how having black (or white) as part of the towers makes them associated with either side. It's still pretty clear that the Water Tower is water, not Ecua, from the exterior and all the running water inside.

59  Santharian World Development / Magic in the Lands of Caelereth / Re: Ximax Academy - Working Draft II on: 19 January 2010, 12:48:55
I don't see how a little bit of black aligns it with Ecua, especially when all the other towers have lots of bright colours like white which would associate them with Xeua. :P

If you want to do dark, that's fine, but I don't think black would be an issue.


Would you like me to blarrow this for you? Arti will probably give it a look when he integrates it.
60  Santharian World Development / Magic in the Lands of Caelereth / Re: Ximax Academy - Working Draft II on: 19 January 2010, 04:41:47
Here you are!

I'm only going to be putting down the sections of which I have changes for, to hopefully keep this all in one post. I'm also not putting the colour codes for the different persons that you have, since now that we're nearing the end I don't think we need them.

Another general note that I couldn't really mark, but there's a few areas scattered throughout where double or more spaces are used between words, primarily in the Tower of Numeracy and I believe the Entrance Gardens and Vegetable Gardens.


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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 the Academy original construction 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 60peds 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.

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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 turquoise-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 (when I first looked over this I thought you had just changed this to blue-veined black, but I just noticed while going through it again that you also changed it to white. The black carries a specific feel of being underwater (darker, lights being very clearly visible against all the dark surfaces, etc); I based the look of the inside around a place I’ve actually been to. It doesn’t have to match the outside, rather it is complimentary in that the outside is more like the surface of an ocean, while the inside is more like being in the depths) 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.

Quote
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 kitrune (kitrune? Do you mean citrine? Unless there is already a specific kitrune colour on site that I can’t recall, I would change this 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 Grom the Powerful, first Volkek-Oshra Fire Archmage of Ximax. On the right hand side, and to the same height as Grom, 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.

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 grayish-black colour with the 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.

Quote
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 tower is 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.

Quote
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 favorite 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.) (no need for the parenthesis here, IMO)

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.

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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 Xeua and Ecua 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. The Water Tower has little ponds, rivulets and tiny waterfalls, framed by a miniature landscape. 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. (you repeat these two sentences twice on the original, remove one set)

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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 gray-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 “religeuse” (?) 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.

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The Tower of Numeracy and Astronomy:
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 serves (should this be plural?) 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.

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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.

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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, that the wizards have allowed to be shared, have equally caught on with some students, due to its compatibility and similarities to Ximaxian magic. (new addition, let me know if that works for you) 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 Stables:
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 the 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.

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 Kiikit 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.
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