Purgatory Schoolhouse Building / Landmark in Legends of Elohey | World Anvil

Purgatory Schoolhouse

Purgatory Schoolhouse by Jarissa Venters

This traditional-style schoolhouse is far and away the most disaster-resistant building in all of Purgatory Gulch. Built partially underground, it serves as tornado shelter. Built from large granite slabs quarried out of boulders in Oatman Canyon, it would take a direct meteor strike or a volcano to set this place on fire. It has an enchantment against earthquake or floodeqf built into its foundation.
It was built directly over a natural cavern -- in fact, a giant chalcedony shell around a geode. The granite slabs for the first floor were sunk partially into the ground around the outer perimeter of the cavern walls. Since granite and chalcedony have about the same hardness, this makes for an uneven but sturdy school foundation.
The schoolhouse normally is clean inside and out.
It is not meant to serve as a boarding school, but the basement rooms can bunk up to a hundred people for a very short term of three to five days or thirty people for a much longer term.
The normal function of the schoolhouse, of course, is as a school! Here the children of town learn important universal skills:
  • literacy in Common and Noru
  • numeracy
  • regional plant identification
  • animal husbandry
  • basic kitchen and campfire skills
  • introduction to practical crafts:
  • clothmaking and mending,
  • non-cloth weaving,
  • introductory glassworking,
  • clayworking,
  • painting and/or dying and/or staining a variety of craft materials,
  • carving useful objects from bone or cactus wood or gourds,
  • glazing,
  • and at least one lesson per year on why one can NOT use the same kind of oven to fire a pot AND cook a dinner.
  • history of the kingdom of Angesh
  • oral traditions of the Longgrass Plains


Class is in session five days of the week, from an hour after sun-up until three hours after the midday meal. School operates year-round. It closes for severe weather, for the height of sniffles season, or for specific holidays.
Miss Roselli visits a different Family of Student each Relmoot morning. She will meet with someone off that schedule by appointment, and probably on Relmoot afternoon.
At other times, the schoolhouse is locked. A discreet sign directs inquirers to see the bartender at Purgatory Saloon.


The walls of the building itself were made from large granite slabs, sunken into the ground around the perimeter of the building and then trimmed at the top and sides to fit snugly. Whatever stonemason did this work must have been highly skilled, because there is not room to fit a dandelion seed or a raindrop in the edges where two slabs meet. The slabs were then stained on the exterior using the local iron-rich dust, giving the whole thing a ruddy appearance. The bottom foot of the building is also reinforced with mortared river stones, grayish brown, fit together in a repeating geometric pattern.
The main floor of the building is located above that mortared river stone area. Possibly this is to keep the ground floor elevated above flooding. However, no flood marks show on the exterior of the building next door, so maybe not.
The building is narrower on its south and north sides. The south side has the entry door, with a rectangular window on either side. A small portico shields the entrance. The north side has no windows. The east and west sides have several windows apiece.
The roof is probably slate shingling.
There is a square tower on the ridgeline of the schoolhouse, close to the entrance. It might have a school bell inside it but is probably a means of increasing air flow, since it has panels of horizontal blinds near the top that are definitely cranked open or closed by controls inside the schoolhouse.
The stairway in front and the front door itself are made of dried cactus wood, possibly saguaro. So is the trim on the windows. It is not polished to a shine like the sidewalk in front of Miss Melinda's Alchemy and Branding, but the wood has been sealed with something to make it easier to clean after a dust storm.
The windows do not have shutters visible. Either storm shutters are located on the inside, or else they have to be clamped around each window frame on the outside when they will be needed.
The entry porch has a railing around it, and on each side of the door where that railing connects to the exterior wall is another vertical wood plank. These planks have metal oil lamps bolted onto them at the height of the top corners of the door itself. Someone must have to use a stepladder to refill them, to light them, and to snuff them.
On one of the two outer wood posts framing the little entry porch are two narrow boxes, one above the other, each with a slanted lid. The fine inscription on the upper box says, "To contact Schoolmarm during School Hours, please write note and insert in mailbox. Delivery may take 15 minutes." The top box contains four index card sized slates and, slotted into the inside of the lid, three pieces of chalk. The bottom box contains a faintly glowing marble, attached to the lid with jewelry wire prongs the way a gemstone gets mounted onto a ring, and below that the space inside the box is ridged to create slots for 2 slates to slide in and not touch each other or the sides.

eqf The Unbroken Axel enchantment, a permanent enchantment based upon a specialized 5th level Abjuration spell, was a trade secret of the small business which came to Oatman Canyon to construct the schoolhouse a hundred and fifty years ago. Concealed in the underside of the schoolhouse's foundation is a masterwork-quality wheel axel. So long as no destructive magic is used to damage that axel, the axel itself and the building to which it is connected are proof against nonmagical earthquakes, landslides, mudslides, floods, or any other natural disaster phenomena which would normally move the building from its current position.

Cover image: by CB Ash


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