The Coming of the Zioth


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zioth:place:academyoftheunbound [2016-07-03 14:35] (current)
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 +====== The Academy of the Unbound ======
 +//By Corbyn Wren//
 +This upstart educational institution is located on the edge of the Duchy of Rheinzand where the western border of the Marquisate of Ensaniland meets the Koril Mountains. ​ Whether the campus itself lays with in the lands of the Duchy, the kingdom of Rang, or in the wild and mountainous borderlands remains unclear. ​ But based on their stated desire of creating an educational institution that encourages free-thinking,​ unbound by the slavish adherence to any particular government or religious institution,​ it is clear the founders of the Academy intended their new school to exist outside the formal boundaries of any duchy (but perhaps still within the disputed borderlands traditionally claimed by Rang). ​ Normally, building any sort of sizable institution outside the guaranteed military protection of a Duke, Marquiss, or Baron would place the organization at considerable risk to the malevolent forces of the world, but the founders of the Academy made the determination that placing their school in such a remote area meant there would be little to fear in the way of potential threats. ​ For while the students and professors prize the collections of the Academy beyond all measurable wealth, their library of moldering old books or scrolls is nothing that would attract the attention of thieves or tempt even the most desperate bandits to engage in the laborious trek it would take passing through the lands of the Marquess and Duke (who though not sworn to protect the Academy generally take a dim view of armed brigands passing through their territory – even if headed elsewhere) and into the western Koril mountains just to poach some all but forgotten religious treatises.
 +The founders of the Academy, Professors Rellano and Garamond, state this isolated location was chosen because it lies between the borders of Rang, Terradia and Gallia – permitting expeditions to any of the three lands as the work of scholarship demands. ​ A more cynical observer might observe the more likely intent was an attempt to gain as much distance as possible from the University of Duerstadt as possible without abandoning the heart of the continent altogether. ​ Critical scholars from Duerstadt have also suggested that since the so-called “Academy of the Unbound” appears to be unfunded by any family or lord of note like a proper academic institution,​ that Professors Rellano and Garamond had no choice but to set up their self-proclaimed “school” in an abandoned barn in no man’s land.
 +The founders announced the establishment of the Unbound Academy via distribution of a pamphlet circulated among the various academics and educational centers of Rang.  The announcement declared that the new Academy would encourage free-thought -- independent of the whims of any particular noble family or any self-interested religious doctrines declaring that knowledge was the birthright and tool of only the wealthy and noble-born and that peasants should accept their place at the bottom of the social pyramid and rid themselves of any aspirations beyond servitude. ​ It goes without saying that Professors Rellano and Garamond are not particularly well thought of by the academic (and social) elite of Duerstadt and are not anticipating an invitation to provide a guest lecture in the near future.
 +The announcement of the Academy was met with disfavor by many of the classically trained Masters of the University of Duerstadt, though the faculty of that institution were split on how to address the works of the upstart Academy. ​ Many in the College of Natural Philosophy advocated the papers of the Academy should be ignored in their entirety, as would be done with any other suspect scholarship. ​ Others wished to strike back, accusing Rellano and Garamond of making up an entirely fictional school solely for the purposes of circulating their ill-conceived attack on proper society and the Church of Jarram. ​ A few of the theologians in the College of Moral Philosophy, who have their own antagonistic relationship with the Jarram-worshipping Masters of the College of Natural Philosophy, took great enjoyment in circulating the pamphlets and books of the Academy to further incense the members of their rival College.
 +While diminutive in size, the Academy of the Unbound holds the most extensive collection of rare books and unusual writings ever collected on the continent – or at least it claims to.  For example, Professor Rellano wrote and circulated a pamphlet on what he claims is the first draft of The Book of the Merchant God – noting the text originally and repeatedly referred to the people of the realm as “sheep” or the “flock to be shorn” and was adorned in the margins with profit calculations. ​ (As noted above, Professor Rellano is not held in high esteem by the Jarramites of the University of Duerstadt.) ​ However, these rare texts are only described in the publications of the Academy themselves and have never been authenticated by an outside observer.
 +In fact, as the handful of truly neutral academic observers admit, there is substantial evidence to show that the Academy might not actually exist as its Duerstadt critics allege. ​ (Notwithstanding the actual academic work of the members of the Academy which has circulated throughout the realm, which academics unaffiliated with Duerstadt agree is intellectually formidable). ​ The Academy has claimed a substantial library of books once thought lost, but they have never agreed to allow the books to be lent to other institutions. ​ Further, while there is undoubtedly a building labeled the “Academy of the Unbound” located in the high foothills of the Koril mountains, it is unclear whether classes are actually taught there or any students exist. ​ Master Geert Strang made a month-long journey to the Academy of the Unbound only to find what appeared to be an unoccupied building, with a scroll nailed to the door stating that all staff and students were traveling on a series of excursions. ​ Master Strang identified plenty of classrooms and chambers that might have been lived in at one time, but no sign of the Academy’s claimed library or rare books – or much of any library really, outside some bookshelves scattered throughout the manor house. ​ It should be noted, however, that Master Strang was the prodigal student of Deurstadt Master Krumholtz – one of the most vocal and strident critics of Professor Rellano, and that one or two members of Master Strang’s retinue subsequently told others they were sure they heard someone laughing at them as they explored the empty school.
 +Nevertheless,​ the occasional student of the Academy shows up in Rang and at least two independent scholars and several tradesman say they have visited the active campus of the Academy. ​ Local provisions merchants also state that expeditions are very common and often take members of the Academy away for months on end.
 +Based on these accounts, it is clear that the Academy has at least a minimal staff that is at least occasionally in residence. ​ These include the founders, Professors Rellano and Garamond, at least two or three other unidentified professors and a half-dozen or more assistant professors whose ranks include several women – something a departure from most institutions. ​ (With at least one, Assistant Professor Morrigan, being famed for her logical reasoning and fiery temperament.) ​ There are also several curiosities throughout the school, such as rows of bookshelves that seem to appear and disappear from time to time and offices or chambers that are nigh-impossible to find without a map, or guide or both.  This includes an office set aside for an “Assistant Professor C.W.” who according to student legend, has been on sabbatical since before the Academy was founded. ​ How this is possible is not entirely clear, and any questions regarding it are usually forwarded to the professor of logic who has thus far provided at least three different responses, all well beyond the comprehension of the questioning students. ​ The fact that Assistant Professor C.W. has not even been assigned a proper name has not stopped students from taking advantage of his or her prolonged absence. ​ Among the senior students who find themselves pressed for time (or interest in a particular subject), it has become common to offer an excuse for an overdue assignment or project – claiming that “Assistant Professor C.W. volunteered to oversee and grade this assignment.” ​ Professors Rellano and Garamond permit this fiction to a certain extent, as the entire purpose of the Academy is to encourage creative thinking and problem solving, but if the unknown C.W. does ever take up residence in his office he or she is likely to find it buried in dust and great mounts of academic papers that nobody ever assumed would actually be graded.