Dying of the Light
The Tower of Flame
Fire BURNS but it also casts away the Dark. Ice FREEZES but it also Preserves.
The Tower of Flame is the quintessential mage academy. Hosted in a huge white spire lavishly decorated and carved, rising above the millennial walls of Old Thiofan it is an awe-inspiring sight to see. Few people who don’t possess the gift of Magic ever see any part of the Tower apart from this glorious sight but those few that do can tell almost instantly that the Academy isn’t nearly as happy a place as the Red Wizards would have everyone believe. Frightened glances from apprentices, vacant gazes from senior magi and the perennial smell of sulphur, even in the scented dining halls tell a strange story of eerie happenings within the Tower of Flame.
The Tower is a mercantile academy. It holds no beliefs, advances no philosophy and admits anybody who has the gift and enough talent or money to back it up. Street urchins and children of lords are equally accepted, the former to fill the teaching and servant quotas, the latter to fill the academy’s coffers. Yet despite this liberal approach to admission the Tower has one of the most exhausting and downright frightening training processes.
No servants are allowed within the Tower’s walls so every would be mage has to serve as servant to an elder mage for a period. Rich lordlings have to serve for five years and can ‘buy off’ the rest of their service. The poor must serve for two decades as repayment for the Tower’s ‘investment’ in them. The period serves as a time of training in the less arcane arts of reading, languages, cookery and so forth, but also as a good chance for cruel pyromancers to abuse their wards. Any dropped plate leads to corporeal punishment, usually by magic. A spilled mug of ale could mean losing a finger. A poorly memorized lesson almost always means a caning. A failed exam means having to endure it all for another year.
There is a cutthroat atmosphere within the spire with mage conspiring against mage, openly insulting one another and often solving their differences by magic, poison or fist. This applies to students as well as they squabble and fight amongst themselves openly in corridors, often running the risk of rousing the senior mages’ ire. And while most mages have something to fear from a peer, they are all dead scared of the Archmage.
Nobody knows how old the Archmage of the Red Wizards is or what spells he has used to prolong his life so. All that is known is that he is now a shambling husk of his former self, brimming with magic and with an almost alien-like, impersonal outlook on life. He burns offenders for the smallest mistake or encases them in ice from the neck down leaving them to starve in his presence. He has long since stopped giving instructions on the running of the school, demanding instead that a school-age child be brought to him once a week. What he does with them is unknown but no trace of them is ever found again.
Yet for all the grimness of the Tower (or perhaps due to it) the Pyromancers are exquisitely trained in the art of heat manipulation. The competitive and terrorizing environment breeds amoral cutthroat mages who only care about winning. No wonder then that the vast majority of Red Wizards become Magokrats in the northern steppes or return to their own fiefdom to terrorize the peasants with flame and hail.
For many centuries the Thiofani government has struggled with bringing the academy under its control. Since the current Archmage’s rule they have finally given up, content with the Tower defending them from the Dark and against invaders and doing their very best to interfere as little as possible in the business of the Tower of Flame.