The Academy of Etoile
"Looks like they fixed all the riot damage." Alistair knelt down to look at the cobblestones. "All fresh. Couldn't even tell anything happened." Rigana shook her head. "The Academy's supposed to be a crown jewel of the Principality. Keeping appearances up here is a priority." The two walked past the new central administration building and towards the first lecture amphitheater. "It's weird not seeing any students." "Well, that's their fault, isn't it?" The two wizards walked past a new hedgerow, blooming with roses, though it was out of season. "What I don't get is, if you're angry at the cost of attendance and you think too much funding is going towards magus research, why tear up everything except the magetower? All they did was rip up the rest of the place." "No offense, Alistair, but you remember how old you were a few years back. They're kids. All full of vim and vigor and nothing in the head except dust and wind, but even kids know not to attack wizards." The massive lecture amphitheater buildings had fresh coats of paint, but a keen eye could spot the occasional scorch mark outline. They continued towards the bell tower in silence. "Ah." A number of robed students were milling about at the base of the tower, and a few turned to watch the wizards pass in silence, though their eyes had an accusing glare to them. Alistair gave a friendly wave. Not even a blink. "I wonder how the current mage students are dealing with this." Rigana scoffed. "Mostly they aren't. Cooped up in the tower and staying away from the rest of the Academy. I think Mellitus has some guards keeping them in line so they don't go start fights." The magetower was visible ahead of them in the distance, a ramrod straight tower in freshly hewn whitened granite. Rigana pointed at a faint shimmering effect surrounding it. "That's a Repulse. Looks like the students tried to tear up the magetower. Didn't work." "So we're at the point where we have magical protections to keep the Capital folk from killing each other? That is a very bad sign." Alistair muttered to himself. "It can't be just the students. Someone else has to be riling them up." "Save the conspiracy theories for when we're in the meeting." Rigana folded her arms at her chest as she walked. "The circumstances are too fragile to be risked on baseless musings."
Purpose / Function
The Academy of Etoile is the foremost educational center in the world and the most prestigious such institution in the Principality of Etoile, located at the heart of the Etoile Capital City. The path of progress the First Princeps envisioned demanded that the people of Saibh be educated; more specifically, that the best and brightest minds to be found were to be given the best educations possible, in order to further technological advancement for the purpose of the State. This was in contrast to the view of education prior to the establishment of the Principality, which saw it as a tool of the nobility to maintain power. As such, the Academy is a locus of research and learning, with the latest advancements in Power technology and Magical research being typically discovered at the Academy itself or with affiliated parties. Students from across Saibh who show promise are heavily recruited to the Academy, and those who lack such promise but wish to learn with the best minds of society pay a hefty premium to do so. The Academy also retains close relationships with all of the major Guilds in order to share knowledge and advance research, and commercial interests invest a great deal in sponsorship in an attempt to monopolize potential new advancements. The Academy maintains a capacity for educating roughly five thousand students at any point in time, with an equal number of researchers. Students typically spend between six and ten seasons completing their education, depending on interest and aptitude.
The Academy is built in the same style as the rest of the Etoile Capital City, being constructed at roughly the same time. The buildings are mostly plain stone and mortar, with a thick layer of white paint and the typical red tiled roofs. Unlike the mural-covered residential blocks of the Capital, the buildings in the Academy are not painted or adorned, and retain their stark white look. The Academy is laid out in a roughly circular fashion, with the central administration building surrounding the main gate onto the Academy grounds at the circle's edge. Lecture halls and research facilities compose most of the grounds, with student residential apartments on the opposite side of the circle from the administration. The Academy Magetower sits on another edge of the circle, adjacent to the Grand Canal, while opposite that is an Academy-affiliated Principality military research facility. Although a large wall marks and separates Academy grounds from the rest of the City, the road network grid is uninterrupted, and all roads transit through the walls.
The Academy of Etoile was established near the center of the Etoile Capital City by the First Princeps in 633, one of the first major actions by the new Principality of Etoile. The original mandate to educate the people of Saibh has borne fruit, as many major discoveries can be directly traced to Academy affiliated research and inventions. Many positions in service to the Principality demand Academy expertise, and many students bear their Etoile Academy affiliation with pride. In the century since its establishment, however, the Academy has seen its share of tumult, as its prestige is taken advantage of. Many scandals have occurred, typically either with unscrupulous Academy officers selling student seats, or increases in academic fees coupled with a rise in exclusion. In addition, although the Principality and the Academy are relatively tightly coupled and the Principality owns the land and buildings, the structure of the Academy is nominally independent from the state, and the two institutions have encountered significant bureaucratic conflict over funding and goals. The discovery of magic and magecraft has significantly affected the Academy, as the Principality has massively invested in magical research, to the perceived detriment of other Academy research opportunities. This has caused a significant amount of student unrest.