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 Post subject: A Guide to the Colleges of the Earthen Sanctuary
PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2009 4:52 pm 
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The Earthen Sanctuary

The long, thin tower had marked the fading of Skytopia's better days long ago. It stands now amidst a furor of construction, the joined efforts of many working to restore it and build something new, the shouts of construction workers a constant din. Restored and refurbished buildings around its base, flat brown stone things that could have come from a primer on medieval architecture, seem at odds with the brighter, more colorful wooden buildings that have sprung up farther down the slope.

Dean Adorienne, a grizzled lynx with the scars of past airfights, dressed in long-sleeved white shirt, black vest, tweed jacket and brown slacks, welcomes a class of fresh-faced students at its base. They mill about uncertainly, drawn by the promise of room and board and tuition, at the price of part-time labor in the grand effort of finishing the university's construction, but now that they're here, they find themselves wondering what the future holds.

"Welcome to the Sanctuary," he says, replacing just-cleaned glasses atop his muzzle. "First off, let me state that whatever your religious affiliations were before you arrived, you are not required to abandon them for the beliefs of the Earthen Order in order to study or work here. All we ask is that you keep an open mind and be tolerant toward others' beliefs."

He begins the tour at the tower itself, where a huge and complex machine has been installed, a keyboard and brass pedals evident. "The monks have the charge of the Carillon, but accept students from our music program," Lynx explains, pointing to the bells installed high above, all sizes. "It rings the hours, the morning and evening services, the celebration of weddings and the mourning of funerals, or simply for the joy of music. Concert times are posted in the Meadow. Earplugs are available in the commissary."

The Sanctuary is a big place, with the upper tiers reserved for the Earthen Order administration. The Alcuin Academy is closest to the tower, using buildings excavated and renovated by the monks, and so it tends toward flat stone architecture, plain columns supporting sloping tiled roofs. Solid, enduring construction. The monks glance incuriously at the young students as they pass, and there are plenty of other students passing by. Clearly there's no sharp line drawn between the two colleges.

The Dean gestures to a dusty grey stone building with tall glass windows appearing arrow-slit-like every few yards along its walls. "Lucius Hall houses the Science department. They focus more on the pure sciences; mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology and the like. Applied technology is more our bag, but we, ah, have an agreement to work together and share classes in the Hangar. We'll get there." Glimpsed through a glass door are billboards and linoleum tiles, familiar schoolroom items.

Over to the right, he points out the ivory-marbled walls of Disanter Hall, the art building. "The Earthen Order has a lot of talented sculptors and artists but ah, I'm not sure they reckoned with our free-spirited art students when they offered to house the art program." As testimony, a stern-faced badger pauses before two bronze doors, glances back and forth between them. He tries the right one, sighs, then opens the left one and steps in. The right door would appear to have been a clever replica. The odor of fresh paint would have been no help, since it is so omnipresent with all the construction going on.

As the tour winds down the slope toward the more familiar wooden construction of the Lincean College, the Dean points out the largest building in the Alcuin Academy - the Great Hall, a cathedral-like building with multiple towers overlooking the campus from its roofs. Some of the stained glass windows in its sides have been restored, but others are plain glass, placeholders until they can be replaced. "Services and announcements are both held here, since this is the only building big enough to fit everyone, at least on a rainy day," Dean Adorienne says. "I understand there are plans to move the pews out of the way for the spring dance as well."

"Most of you will be staying in the dormitories," the lynx adds as he gestures toward the flat pastel-colored buildings, some graffiti'd, others being painted back to a monochrome color scheme by sulking students under the watchful gaze of a nun. "Meals are served in the refectory. Plain stuff but filling and nutritious. Two to a dorm room, men on this side and women on that, and a curfew of eleven o' clock. However, they do not insist on lights out, since there may be times when you need to study or do your homework late at night."

Their travels have taken them to an overlook of the hangars and airfield at the edge of the skyland. "If you have a plane of your own, make sure to get a permit if you want to park it here," Dean Adorienne advises. "Avoid those spaces there, by the workshop, unless you want your plane to be the subject of unwanted improvements. We have some very bright students with, ah, loose understanding of the meaning of 'user-friendly' engineering. It was rather exciting when I discovered they'd installed nitro-boosters in my plane."

The aforementioned workshop appears oddly divided into two halves - one side is meticulously maintained by the monks, the other is haphazardly strewn with parts and materials to be made into new plane components. In the middle, a white-haired monk is heatedly debating the merits of backup systems with a trio of young graduate students. "I understand they have bets on who's going to win an aerial acrobatics contest in the next few months. My money is on the Gold Angels, personally," the lynx confides.

The Lincean College buildings rise up around the tour group as they proceed back down the winding path. There's the Astor Lennox Library, one of the renovated buildings, in which most of the books brought by the Echo Flight School faculty are stored and being indexed by bored-looking students and faculty; it is marked by twin lion statues before enormous glass doors. "They're very strict about overdue books," the Dean points out. "I hear that one student who lost a book in the sea wound up needing stitches in the infirmary. The librarian said he needed seasoning and muttered something about getting a salt shaker. In fairness, some of the books we have are from before the Cataclysm; most are out of print, given how low priority education has been for most skylands, so they're irreplaceable."

The buildings expand into a big, wide open courtyard, framed with slim white pillars holding aloft giant awnings in all colors. "When it's sunny, we often hold outdoor classes here," the Dean says. "And in the rain, if you've forgotten your umbrella, you stand a fair chance of being able to get to your classrooms if you stick to the paths under the awnings. If it gets stormy though, we usually lose at least a few of them. Awnings, not students."

The lynx nods to the brick building which houses the gymnasium. "The monks from the Earthen Order seem to think we're coddling you all by giving you a big indoor space for exercise. They do their calisthenics outdoors in all weather - well, except for out-and-out storms, they're not stupid, just stubborn." The Grimby courts just outside it have several teams playing against each other, grunting with effort as they try to sneak a score past the other team.

The tour winds up at the point where the students arrived at the campus in the first place, a turnabout section of road around a fountain with the campus mascot of a sphinx batting at a butterfly made up of the confluence of two streams of water, the anthropomorphic lion head merging into the body of a large bestial lion, wings spread out. Another motorized carriage putters up the road from the town and stops at the big red sign reading 'To the City of Lhasa - departures on the hour.' A walrus steps out of the carriage and trots over to the information kiosk where he pours himself a cup of coffee; giggling students jump off the side and the back where they were clinging to the polished wooden rails, like clowns pouring out of a tiny car.

"And that's our tour for today, students. I'll turn you over to Sister Faith, who'll get you signed in, and you can get started moving your belongings in. Welcome to the Earthen Sanctuary again!" Dean Adorienne throws a salute to the students before relinquishing them to the care of the nun.

"They seem younger every year, don't they?" says a quiet voice, a violet-haired cat dressed in battle-scarred flyer's leathers. She steps out of the shadows and nods to the students.

Lynx grins. "No, we're just getting older, Chancellor."

Kyra swats at him. "I feel like I ought to have white hair, done up in buns, when you say that, Dean. Of course you seem to have taken to the change a little more readily than some of us have."

"Well, the world changes," says the dean philosophically. "The question is whether we're ready for it or not."


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 Post subject: The 'Too Long, Didn't Read' version:
PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2009 4:53 pm 
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This is presented as an aid for role-playing with the academic side of the Earthen Order.

The Earthen Sanctuary is a large Earthen Order-sponsored construction taking place at the Monument on Lhasa, restoring and adding on to it.

There are two universities - think sister colleges - located immediately next to the tower. The Alcuin Academy is operated by the monks and specializes in the arts and sciences, and the Lincean College is operated by faculty who have moved on from Echo Flight School, specializing in technology and history, both ancient and recent. Students from all over Skytopia are welcome in both.

Students from all walks of life are welcome, students may choose to work part-time helping with construction to pay for tuition and board, and there is no obligation to convert to the Earthen Order. Chancellor Kyra is the overall administrator, reported to by Dean Deyo (Alcuin Academy) and Dean Lynx Adorienne (Lincean College).

Landmarks:

Alcuin Academy

The Carillon: a steam-powered piano-like mechanism controlling bells within the tower.

Lucius Hall: the physical sciences.

Disanter Hall: the arts.

The Great Hall: cathedral-like, large enough to fit everyone in for important announcements, occasionally houses dances and special events.

The Refectory: basic cafeteria, staffed by disapproving nuns.

Lincean College

The Hangar: shared with the Alcuin Academy, a hotspot of inter-college rivalry and technological one-upping.

Astor Lennox Library: a repository for the books collected by both colleges.

The Meadow: a wide open courtyard, perfect for reading in the sun under the cover of trees or awnings.

The Gym: your basic gym, complete with showers and hazing for frosh.

The Fountain: a turnabout with a fountain featuring the campus mascot of a sphinx. Regular motor carriage service to the city of Lhasa.


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