Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Academy at Porto Liure

The Academy is one of the districts, or neighborhoods, of Porto Liure, the signature setting of DARK•HERITAGE.  It is, of course, a place of learning, but it is also more than that.  It is also an entire community.

Established by a charter almost 150 years ago, when Porto Liure was still a newly christened independent city-state, having won its independence through attrition from a tired and disinterested fading Terrasan Empire, the Academy is one of the oldest institutions in Porto Liure.  The "Father of Porto Liure," Jacobo Bernat, saw the Academy as one of a few key elements necessary in the long term to establish the legitimacy of Porto Liure as something more than a pirate haven, a "wretched hive of scum and villainy," and he made very generous offers to notable academics and experts in various fields to emigrate to the city to help found it.

In addition, he saw the Academy as a tool that could benefit the city more directly.  The children of young elitists, the core of the new nobility of Porto Liure needed to be taught in Geography, History, Military Theory, Politics, Theology and more.  There is also a cadet department, where the soldiers and sailors who represent the city itself are trained.  For the most part, this is now where the officers of the Watch and the Navy are trained.

Each of the subjects above has their own Hall on the Academy grounds, which are surrounded by a wall, and are secured by armed guards.  Each Hall has offices, lecture halls, and a library.  Most of the faculty live attached to their Hall as well, in spacious dormitories.

In addition to these facilities, there are a number of dormitories for students.  More and more, students are elitists, the children of rich industrialists, shipping magnates, or the nobility, and more and more they come from all over the Terrasan sphere of influence to study at the Academy.  To be fair, most of these students aren't necessarily interested in furthering their education, but going abroad to study is a prestige activity, and signals to their peers that they have the money and influence to send their sons--and sometimes even daughters--to Porto Liure to enroll in the Academy.

In addition to the departments, there are a handful of "independent" professors and researchers on staff, many of whom teach one-off courses in more esoteric fields of knowledge.  And there are even some who teach nothing, but who have managed to become almost "celebrity scholars" who do research that brings a great deal of prestige to the university. One example of the latter is the explorer Barral Pessagnoz, who spent six months trapped in Isin, first described the Wose Basin and the Tether and explored ruins near Eltdown.  His colorful travelogues have been published all over the Terrasan sphere and have been very popular.

Although it's kept officially quiet, rumors persist that there are "hidden colleges" within the Academy; a college and faculty devoted to sorcery and witchcraft, for instance, with a Hall that is based underground in spacious tunnels and caverns.  To most, this is part of the charm of Porto Liure, the Port of Ghosts; the notion that superstition and rumors abound.  Of course, to others, the threat is best taken more seriously.  It is true that spoiled and entitled students are prone to get involved in all kinds of things that should be left alone, and that the dregs of Porto Liure are lives not worth much to the officials of the city, or anyone else, but are sacrifices really made in chambers below the Academy meant to summon daemons from the Realms Beyond?  Despite official denials, the rumors persist.

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