The College of Artificiers
The College of Artificers was an educational institution, located in Charlotte, between 1098 and 1353.
Theo Palzi, “The Burning Library”, 1364
The college was originally established by King Alfred in 1098 for the purposes of advancing defensive technologies in The Great War. While the college was set up for the purpose of Artificiery, it provided training and research in arcane magic and it would go on to develop very close working relationships with the three major magic corporations – Ascension, Awakening, and Agrimagic. As such, the College hosted powerful visiting scholars who would also provide instruction in High Speech and the Arcane Arts for exceptionally high-quality candidates. For centuries, the College stood as a monument to learning and cross-disciplinary collaboration.
Charter Crisis of 1351
In early 1351, the authorities refused to renew the charter of the College. While it was still capable of drawing rents from the lands it held, this step prevented the College from awarding qualifications. After four months of disputes, the College was finally offered a renewal by the Minister of Enlightenment.
Desperate to have the charter in place for the graduation, the administrators of the school accepted the terms – a change in leadership. In 1352, therefore, the Ministry appointed the last Chancellor of the College – the sorcerer Ezekiel.
With the backing of the government, Ezekiel announced that the two main faculties of Artificiery and Magic were to be closed down. While the Faculty of Alchemy was to remain (albeit with substantial budget reductions), it was clear that this meant a wholesale closure of the college.
Ezekiel’s decision provoked a significant reaction from the two Faculties. Not only would the sudden closure illegally terminate the long-term contracts on which staff were employed, it would also nullify the tuition of final-year students who had completed their studies but not yet received their qualifications. Under Ezekiel’s policy, these students would remain unqualified. In an unprecedented and bold move, the leading teachers at the Faculty of Magic decided to occupy the College under the leadership of Megwynne Stormbinder, demanding that the college remain open at least long enough to honour its commitments.
Siege and Destruction
Ezekiel’s response to the strike was swift and extreme – he immediately lay the College under siege. The grounds were surrounded by his 15 sorcerers and a small host of about 250 warriors less than a day after the strike began, which remains the most quickly-assembled siege in the history of Trellech.
After a failed assault was repulsed by Stormbinder, however, Ezekiel grew impatient and frustrated. After receiving an aide from the government – whose identity is hotly debated – the Sorcerer’s host retreated from its siege positions.
What happened next remains controversial. All accounts, however, describe a phenomenal blast of arcane energy which pulverised the wall of the college and heated the hill underneath to such an extent that it collapsed into molten earth. The remains of the building now lie seated within a vast basin of ash, named the Desert of Ash.
Stormbinder was the sole survivor of this dreadful attack, but refused to surrender. Only 4 of Ezekiel’s original 15 sorcerers survived the subsequent fight. Each of the surviving sorcerers – and Ezekiel himself – claims to have landed the killing blow on Stormbinder.
The events of 1351-3 have left numerous questions unanswered. As he was born in the Great Steppe, Ezekiel’s hatred of Mages is well-known, it remains unclear as to why he was chosen by the Ministry of Enlightenment as a candidate to lead the College, nor why he accepted.
While the government line insists that it was the striking Mages who destroyed the school rather than come to a compromise – a line contradicted even by Ezekiel himself, who boasts proudly of his destruction of the school – the identity of the sorcerer’s visitor before the atrocity happened has remained a subject of intense speculation. Unfortunately, there is precious little evidence.
Some speculation has also centred on the strikers. Some mages attempting to discern events using Divination magic have stated that Stormbinder reached out to Martin Hewlett, the most senior member of the former Department of Artificery, who did not take part in the strike. As a result, some have speculated that Hewlett’s involvement could have resulted in a different outcome – though there is precious little evidence for this, and none of those who perished at the siege have claimed this to be true.
Following these events, the College was officially closed down as a legal entity in 1353, though by this point Ezekiel was its sole official employee. To this day, the sorcerer resides in the old ruins as his home and continues to exact tribute from the College’s old lands.