2 of Many

Jun. 17th, 2014 07:02 pm
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of Adventure Corpse Land Boarding School of Horrors

The Dark
Labyrinth Madrassa, The Unseelie Nursery At The Silver Grottoes

            Commonly, in
the lavish courts of the Flower Dynasts of Rosecrown one will spot a courtier
who seems strangely out of place.  Among
the Knights of the Gladiolus  Orders, or
the Provocateurs of the Daffodil Schools, all in their excesses of finery, you
might see someone at the Lord’s elbow, drably dressed with only the foxglove
sprig carved in jet or ebony or obsidian as a simple badge.  These courtiers, are conspicuous by their
lack of arms, their lack of a retinue, their lack of any significant
presence.  One cannot attend one of the great
cotillions of the Rosecrown Sodalities without every attendant calling out
names and titles, positions and affiliations, and yet with even with grace honed
to a perfect edge, one cannot learn the names or the identities of these
Foxglove marked courtiers.

 Not every one of the Rosecrown Houses has one
of the Knights of the Ordo Digitalis, and those that are so lacking are notable
for the failures of their intrigues and the fragility of their security.  While the Madrassas of the Tulip Courts teach
the arts of Story & the Madrassas of the Rose Court teach the arts of
governance, and each of the Schools of the Progression of Seasons have their
own subtle and unsubtle arts, the Winter-Madrassas teach those secret and
unseemly skills so needful at court and so shameful to countenance.  Secrecy among these schools is paramount and
none is more secretive or more exacting than the Madrassa at the Silver
Grottoes, the Unseelie nursery. 

The Peaks of the southern
Rosecrown frontier have ever been a bulwark against invasion, the great snow-clad
peaks that reach high beyond the clouds fencing the Julusti subcontinent,
saving it from all invasions save One. 
Silver Peaks are not empty, though they are no longer the frontier they
once had been, rather they are a fastness, a remote internal bastion.   But while the rare air and penetrating cold
of the high mountains no longer provides a hedge of defense from the outside,
there are guardians there still, who train up the very few in the proper arts
of courtly defense and the unseelie arts of courtly subterfuge. 

The Silver grottoes are
indistinctly named, a supposed region of the Silver-Peaks, it is an indistinct
name that offers anonymity, for how many silver grottoes are there in those
mountains?  Hundreds, at least
dozens.  Yet there is the one, among the
many, which is a place of strange and dark reputation.  A pit in the mountains so deep that the sun never
shines upon it, a dark place carved into the mountains long ago in the search
for the now spent silver veins.  But
through unknown interventions of history the abandoned mine, a maze in the
perpetual darkness became for the Rosecrown Sodalities, the training ground for
their court assassins. 

The Labyrinth itself is
known to occupy a very large area – based upon the omniscient and ancient
records of the Kannyltines, it is known that the mines were once of great providence
and were exploited accordingly.  The
excavation itself took place over many generations and the seemingly endless
vein was exhausted only after centuries of extraction.  The excavations remain, a great chthonic
palace, a rock depth beneath the mountains. 
Though materials remain, indicating the breadth and depth of the
Labyrinth, the documentation of its whereabouts have been eradicated
systematically through long & secret campaigns. 

Very few are those
candidates who survive the labyrinth.  It
is said to be a tomb, to all those who die within, those who could not navigate
its perils.  And more than mere darkness,
hunger and thirst, it is said that the many dead, gathered in that place walk,
and seek to destroy all who would surpass them in ability.  Nevertheless there are a few who do survive
the passage and enter the Silver Grotto, finding themselves at the Foxglove
court where they are trained in the assassin’s arts and the sinister work of
the Unseelie courts. 

Principally, the Foxglove
Knights are poisoners, extortionists & killers, but they likewise bring knowledge
of the defense against these nefarious arts to their patrons.  Such patrons pay an inordinate fortune to win
the favors of these courtiers – though they still are less expensive to train
and maintain than members of many other knighthoods.  The disconcerting, and often worrying thing
about the Digitalis Courtiers though, is that none now alive can say who their
masters are, who the Counts and Dukes and Mahatmas of their school are, least
of all the students, who approach the Madrassa in utter secrecy, utter darkness
and with only the greatest courage.  There,
they train in darkness, learn and study in darkness, are never exposed to the
sun while in the chambers of their grotto for the dozen years it takes to learn
all their dark arts.  And at last, it is
said, when one among them is sufficiently trained to leave the Nursery, it is
made known to them by the blinding light of the sun, which they are able,
finally and at last to see – at the end of their cruel journey into their
haunted catacomb. 

It is said as well, that
those who leave the Madrassa on their feet never willingly leave the sunlight
thereafter, that they are energized and empowered by the light as if it were a
potent drug, and that even by the dark of night, they rest their eyes only
briefly, and then in the presence of many lighted candles and under the starry
sky.  Whether this is so, whether the
Foxglive Knighthood is really so rare, so disciplined and so fiercely trained,
none can say – save for their own fraternity – and none among them ever speak
of these matters – or if they do, they each and all tell a wholly different
tale, keeping their secrets secret and their sinister arts unspoken, unheard
and unseen – these are the matters that are learned in the Night Madrassa.


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