Some places can't be saved. They can only be put out of their misery. Wagner Abbey is one of those places.
Few buildings can trace their origins back as far as Wagner Abbey can and that origin is one steeped in blood, darkness, and horror.
Order of the Waking Soul
Construction began on the abbey approximately 700 years ago when Frial was still young and the distant Balmoran colony was still in the midst of her rapid expansion. A collection of scholars, philosophers, and acolytes all loyal to the New Gods but with a strong predilection for sciences over reliance on faith alone commissioned the construction of the abbey. They dedicated its use to understanding the natural laws of Tairos and how to help the common man make use of the "science" of the Leylines that the divine used regularly to influence the world. They called themselves the Order of the Waking Souls and were deeply obsessed with studying the Leylines; believing them to be a conduit to the source where all life, all events past, present, and future, mingle together into a single energy from which all things spring forth. Names for this source can be found in the eccentric writings of many different cultures through history such as: The Akashic Record, The Universal Fulcrum, The Well of Life, and the Collective Unconscious.
While this group of truth seekers had only the noblest of intentions in mind they were not met with warm reception by the priests of the New Gods already residing in Frial. They saw the exploration of such ideas as not only born of hubris but potentially dangerous as well. The Waking Souls could not be expelled from the city as they were lawful citizens and backed by wealthy patrons. Yet, they could be made to feel very unwelcome. It is for that reason they decided to have the Abbey built far from city center in the secluded district of Bellhaven.
Once completed the building was named after Sigmund Wagner, the first high priest of Frial. The Waking Souls hoped the gesture would be warmly received by their many detractors in the priesthood and though some welcomed it many others took it as a hollow platitude or mocking insult. Though they would not have to endure the presence of the Waking Souls for long.
While some minor advancements and simple tools usable by common citizens did come out of Wagner Abbey within its first year of operation little actual proof of what they sought was ever shown to the public. Then, one winter's night a terrible, shrieking noise echoed out of the Abbey and across all the nearby districts. Strange lights, pulses of unnatural energy, and intense earthly vibrations radiated from the building for several moments before an eerie silence reclaimed the night. Investigations found the building perfectly intact but every member of the Order of the Waking Soul had vanished with not a trace. Strange equipment, bizarre formulae, and mysterious compounds were found all through the offices and labs but no one could identify them or their purpose. The Abbey was sealed off at the order of the Waking Souls' powerful benefactors where it would be left to collect dust for centuries.
Mr. Monson's Summer Home
Two and a half centuries would pass before a new owner would claim the Abbey. Goda Monson, a wealthy and recently retired adventurer from Ghal Pelor was seeking a second property to escape the hot summers of his home city for the milder western climate. The claim of the Waking Souls' backers had long expired and the Abbey fallen into disarray. Much of the happenings surrounding the night the Order vanished had faded from memory and the property had largely become an eye-sore to the district. Bellhaven's aldermen learned that Monson was looking for property in the city and quickly reached out to the adventurer offering him the estate for a very cheap price. A deal was quickly struck and Goda, along with his wife and three daughters moved in shortly after.
The work of restoring the home was largely undertaken by Goda and his long-time adventuring partner Dothan Lutz of Frostmere who planned on taking up residence in Frial as well. Tragedy struck early when Dothan became the victim of a mugging behind his favorite tavern in the northern district of Thale. Little is known about the event but the old warrior was found in the early hours of the morning with his throat slashed wide. Some say the man was heavily intoxicated and looked to be an easy mark. Others speculate his death was connected to the cursed Abbey; that maybe he took something or unleashed something and the building sought revenge. Whatever the case Goda Monson continued his restoration after burying his friend in the city's cemetery.
What happened next is still largely left up to conjecture and speculation. Some reports and first-hand accounts do seem consistent on one matter though. Mr. Monson woke one morning to find a door in main hall dining room that was not there the night previous. It was locked though did not seem as though it could really lead anywhere except into the dining hall. And yet, the reverse side of that door did not appear in the dining hall itself nor could any force or magic seem to open it. It's said Goda Monson sought advice and expertise from local magicians but no useful information ever presented itself. The only concrete fact is seven months after Monson and his family moved in they were all found slain in the home, their throats slashed. All except Goda himself who's body was found hanging from a tree near Lake Bask .
Bellhaven's alderman quickly went about cleaning up the deaths and paying off constabulary officials in order to keep the incident quiet. The suspected murder/suicide of a rather famous hero in his district would be a disastrous blow toward his efforts to bring in business and wealthy land owners. So, with considerable effort and coins well spent the final days of Goda Monson were carefully and quickly forgotten.
The College of Magic
Only a short year later would the home have a new owner. illustrious organization known as the College of Magic was responsible for educating young mages in their universities, many of which could be found in grand cities such as Ghal Ankhar , Melanthris , and most recently in Ghal Pelor. The next target of their expansion needed to be somewhere in the central region of the continent. Rylan and Frial were both in contention with each other to become the host city for this much-coveted prize.
Rylan had much to offer in their bid. They were an independent city that offered freedom from taxation and access to highest quality timber in the whole of the Rylan Woods. Frial leaned heavily on her much more metropolitan nature to lure the College in. It was the Alderman of Bellhaven that would ultimately seal the deal for the winning bit. With the school would come jobs, opportunity, and growth for his district and for himself. He offered Wagner Abbey to the Balmoran Regional Governor; promoting it as a structure sized and built out perfectly to house the College and, thanks to Mr. Monson's renovations, it was immediately ready to receive them. The expediency that Frial offered ultimately won them over and Wagner Abbey would soon have its third owner.
Within days of the signing the location was already alive with contractors sent by the College to make it ready to receive students and begin the school year. Money flowed into Bellhaven and her Alderman reaped the benefits as well, soon earning himself a lucrative position in the regional governor's cabinet. The final renovations to the campus were believed to rather effortless affairs but ended up taking months longer than expected due to several fatal accidents that occurred on site. These deaths were troublesome to many of the contractors but the College's desire for progress made sure that money was aviliable to appease any fear that arose.
Finally, the College of Magic's Frial branch was opened and to considerable fanfare. Students poured in and so did foreign money and powerful influences. Bellhaven was quickly becoming a hot spot in the city and attracting considerable nightlife to cater to the student body as well. The school would remain open and teaching for over a century. The crimes of Mr. Monson were known only to a few and the many esoteric pieces of equipment belonging to the Waking Soul were boxed up and left to collect dust in the labs. However; this was a strange time for magic. The beginning signs of the Leyline depletion The Autumn Queen was responsible for were starting to show and many of the university's leaders were not buying the College's official explanations relating to the winds of magic and other temporary impacts. The professors' at the Frial branch began researching the phenomena deeper and that led them to uncover some of the machinery left behind by the Order of the Waking Soul. Learning from little notes had survived the centuries they began using the equipment to search out lonely planets sharing the orbit of the Tairos' sun by using a sort of echo or tone that could read the make-up of a world. They even began work on a means of using that tone to transport things found out there to their lab. While progress was being made the reasoned that the tone was too weak to and focused and that by creating a louder and more powerful version they could sooner find what it is they were seeking.
These experimental probings went on for years in relative secret while the professors continued their traditional teachings. A few students who showed the right kind of open-mindedness were brought into the fold as well; all the while the ability to use magic was becoming more and more imprecise. Their greatest breakthrough came when they were able to upgrade the tone generator so that its notes could reach beyond the halo of Tairos' own star and into the vastness beyond.It opened up the realm of possibility to an infinity they could have never imagined.
It's not known what the professors found for certain but it caused many of them to tender their resignations and flee from academia entirely. Those that stayed are said to have pressed on with renewed vigor. This was all occurring during the beginning stages of the Queen's War when all eyes were turned elsewhere. The reports of canceled lessons and strange behaviors by many of the Frial branch's instructors were not a priority for the College leadership.
The school's final day was said to have begun with a great breakthrough made the night prior and with the return of one of the professors that had fled weeks earlier. Something took place that day that, something that would bring an end to the university and to Bellhaven's brief prosperity. It's believed a new version of the tone had been successfully built and that the first test was slated for this evening in particular. As the story goes, this returned professor was determined to stop this test by any means possible, including the death of his former colleagues. It's said, if stories are to be believed, that he barged into the lab as the tone and carrier beam were activated and that he gave his life to shut them down in a most catastrophic fashion. Eye-witnesses out in Bellhaven that night say the entire district was filled with strange lights emanating from the university. Shrieking noises filled the air. And tremors shook the very foundations of the district. These same rumors go on to say that several older buildings even collapsed due to the shaking. The next morning the professors and the few students on campus at the time were gone. Those not claimed by whatever had occurred during the night soon left Frial as well. Bellhaven suffered a slow, agonizing decline in the wake of the incident, quickly becoming the largest slum in any major city on the continent.
In the wake of the Queen's War Frial was abandoned and left to rot. Old myths say that in the closing days of the war when the Shadow Court's armies were razing Balmoral's territory while fleeing north that survivors hid within the Abbey's halls and that fae dared not enter. During the long abandonment before the Founders resettled Frial locals dwelling in the deep swamp would tell stories about the haunted mansion and strange hermits who would be spotted wandering in and out of the building at night. It's even said a tribe of goblins who tried to make the Abbey their new home were instead claimed by the hungry walls of the estate too. Over the years the list of supposed squatters were only grow to include bandits, supposed cults, and mercenaries but again, what's true and what is fantasy differ from storyteller to story teller.
Perhaps the only verifiable squatter to have taken over the property comes from reports only a few years old. A necromancer by the name of Abdul Auloro came to occupy the mansion though it's not known how long he was staying there. His presence was brought to the attention of the Grand Order of the Lion. These tips were first coming from the homeless dregs that dwell in Bellhaven but their word was worth little to the Kreastos of Frial nor the leadership in the Grand Order but when zombies and surgically altered Undead started shambling from the crumbling district the threat became obvious. Auloro quickly fled once he was exposed; fleeing east to meet up with this rest of his outcast family and Wagner Abbey was resealed and the keys taken into the possession of the Golden Lions.
The most recent owner of the Wagner Abbey is hermit from Ghal Pelor by the name of Digby Sparrow. He and his Granddaughter, Charity, are currently attempting to clear out the property and completely renovate it back to a livable state. They're doing so with the help of traveling adventurers Ospher Spurshoe and Adjenna Affreux who are themselves wizards new to the study of magic. Digby's plan for the Abbey, known only to him, his granddaughter, and most recently the young magicians, is to restart the College of Magic and bring about a new generation of spell casters for Tairos. The process is still underway and has proved to be more grueling than any involved could have imagined.
Purpose / Function
Varies depending on owner. It has been the think-tank for a secret society, the summer home for a famous adventurer, the site for a magicians' university, and a refuge for squatters and villains. Currently, it is under renovations that are aimed at making it a functional school once again
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