"It is a beacon to civility and the advancement of knowledge, and once I figure out how to find the damn thing, you bet I will be staying there" - Quote from one who left their town to find the Academy in the early age
"The Citadel", though its true name is the Academy, was founded and constructed by the Director and what he calls "The First of The Ascended". The Director and his people have always been secretive and hidden, preferring to stay out of the politics of the world. Initially it was a small village built in the far south, but soon expanded and grew.
It soon became a place of legend among those who valued scientific advancement and research, and many from all nations would travel to join the neutral and hidden site. It was at this time when the superstructure known now as "the Citadel" was constructed, a massive construction effort which appears to many as a lone mountain.
In skirmishes during the first age, the Citadel occasionally intervened if it could be guaranteed that the advanced technology used would be returned to the Citadel without being tampered with or reverse engineered. In order to prevent other nations from attempting to pry the secrets of the Citadel, agents from their Division of Asset Protections were sent with the inventions to protect the secrets of the Citadel and the Ascended ones that carried them.
As the world became more heated, Ascended ones from the Academy ceased leaving, and very quickly all contact with the outside world was cut. They began reacting violently towards visitors and soon became completely closed off. Some report now that those who approach are subjected to a rain of fire from the sky.
During the Great War strange things happened in villages and countries that reminded many of ancient experiments that were rumored to be inside the Citadel. Their doors sealed, the legend of the Citadel has grown and expanded, almost becoming a horror story for children to keep them inside at night.
"It towered over the other mountains around it, as though it was mocking them. At the peak was the home we sought, the place where we finally belonged." - Early Traveler to the Academy
The Academy is a massive superstructure that appears to be a lone mountain with a fortified temple built on the peak. In truth though, the entire mountain is hollow, built to be home for hundreds of thousands of people and house their research.
Below The Academy are three massive "undercities" built to keep the Academy fed and one is to be the home of research and development, safely tucked away from the rest of the divisions. From these undercities, smaller burrows exist, branching even lower for excavation of resources, or expansion projects to attempt to build new undercities. They vary in size, ranging from being the size of a hamlet, to being a single lab. Ascended, with higher than usual funding, will sometimes build their own labs in these burrows, usually experimenting in highly volatile research. Some Ascended will laugh and admit that the Academy can appear much like a massive ant colony.
The Academy's burrows reach low enough to allow for geothermal power, powering the entirity of the Academy's many labs and production centers. This is also supplemented by static electricity in the atmosphere generated from the temple at the peak of the Academy. This power is also used to power the many defenses that halt movement into the Academy's area. Various traps and steam powered cannons barrage intruders.
Academy steam cannons fire at a high capacity, using a variety of ammunition between explosive rounds or simply high impact.
Vents from the geothermal generators also fill the valley surrounding the Academy in thick mist, hiding the arcing electric traps and twisting metal thorns that expand around the valley.
During their early years, the Academy acquired money and resources through loaning their technology to assist in construction and logistical expansion of various countries and cities. Now, after their doors have been sealed, the Academy has become a self-contained machine supported by its three massive undercities. Through mining expeditions, they acquire various metals and resources to expand their research efforts, leaving themselves a self-sufficient island in the global economy. There are rumors that they will sometimes trade old technology to gain access to coin. This coin is usually used by scouts and spies to allow them to blend in to the countries they walk among.
Food is distributed in rations and the real monetary value of trade is something they call funding. Funding is simply what resources will be delegated towards specific departments or projects throughout the next year, and though they hold a yearly tournament for funding, it is honestly more for fun and bragging rights. Divisions will also trade funding between each other for various reasons.
Food rations are made up of modified crops that can provide effective and nutritious foods to help Ascended survive. Treats that are also made within the undercities are chocolate- and sugar-based snacks, to help provide glucose for brain activity and be a sweet treat.
"Last year's funding tournament was a disaster! We will have to rebuild the arena in one of the undercities. The Division of Alchemy is becoming far too crazy, and that is coming from me!" - Division Head of R&D, Alice.
The internal politics of The Academy are a hierarchy stemming from the Director and falling into a council of leaders from each division of the Academy, named division heads. These divisions stem into various schools of study and offices where funding and rations are distributed.
Division of R&D
"We are all mad here."
R&D's offices are both the biggest and smallest in the Academy. They take up a large portion of one of the undercities and are mostly left to their devices. It is a veritable sea of madness, and many of the scientists there quite fit the stereotype of a mad scientist. They take in scientists from all walks of study, and approve of the craziest measures possible to create.
Division of Asset Protections.
"Protecting information, our most valuable economy."
Splits into the four main military forces of the Academy.
Division of Physical Studies
"We can always go bigger."
Covers the Schools of Engineering, Construction, and Astrology. One of the largest of the divisions, and have four heads in charge.
Division of Humanity Studies
"The world flows like water, always changing."
These offices are in charge of studying the growth of other nations in the world. They also oversee the program for bringing in outsiders. Humanity Studies will work very close with the Dragonflies, and are some of the few scientists to commonly accompany them into the world. This is also where those who do not desire to study scientific endeavors come to study. Musicians, artists, and writers could be seen as studying the cultural aspects of humanity.
Division of Arcanacanisis
"The unknown is reachable."
This is the study of the unexplained phenomena of the world. It was through research in this division that helped to create the Risen. They are also known for researching the unexplained nature of the Immortals.
Division of Alchemy
"We can learn all the mysteries of nature."
The Division of Alchemy studies the makeup of humanity from all the different tribes as well as the chemical makeup of the world. It is this division that also creates and expands upon the biomorphs created by the Academy. They have also been known to do genetic experiments on test subjects, leaving one section of the Division of Alchemy full of cells of strangely-mutated humanoids of various species.
Division of Logistics
"Someone keeps this place running."
They handle all the internal efforts to keep the Academy up and running. They also tend to be made up of Ascended form the school of engineering who focus only on internal advancement of the Academy.
Division of Golemancy
"Building a better human."
They study the Risen and the integration of new concepts that can improve on the overall design and function of them. They also work on Risen of other species and minor automaton work. The primary member of this division is scientist "Crystal Eyes", the founder who currently runs the division out of a personal burrow. Her current goal is to construct a Risen who does not need a handler.
The Academy military force, run by Asset Protections, is split into four groups.
"A Dragonfly always has a story to tell." -Dragonfly Motto
Dragonfly scouts and information-gatherers are trusted to walk among all countries, bringing information back to the Academy. They also work heavily with Humanity Studies in looking at potential candidates to bring back to the Academy. They leave puzzle boxes or clues for children to solve and more complex clues and tests for potential adults. They have no official uniform, but they are given a pack and clothing that will allow them to blend in where they are stationed. Each Dragonfly also has a key to their closest safe house and are given a password to give as they enter.
Asset Protections Agency
"Secrecy, silence, scrutiny."
Agents and assassins make up Asset Protections. Their only goal is protection of the most important asset of the Academy, information. If Dragonflies discover someone who is either getting too close to the Academy in their research, or if there is someone who is advancing in a way that could harm to the Academy, it is Asset Protection's job to either destroy the research or the one getting too close. They have no official uniform and have access to any equipment that they need for their mission.
The Creatures of Snow
"From the snow, the creatures came, with hands dirty with grime." -Chant of the Creatures of Snow
The foot soldiers of the Academy are primarily involved with internal disputes and with manning and watching the perimeter. They are made up of a mixture of Ascended and Risen, dedicated to watch the Academy from their peak, that is most commonly misunderstood as being the Citadel. Outside, they are trained in guerrilla tactics to strike at the enemy and confuse them and to allow the Steel Battalion to strike in the front. Their main weapons of choice are automatic crossbows and thrown explosives.
The Steel Battalion
"I was a corpse and the Ascended brought me back. I'll admit I have no memory of who this body was, or who they knew. Now all I know is the Academy, and I am proud to dawn the suit to defend it." -R-454, Risen Warden
This is a prototype program currently only available to the Risen on advanced armor technology. The armor makes the Risen operator appear to be 8 feet tall and uses steam=based hydraulics to utilize movement. The skeleton of the Risen operator is fused to the armor, allowing fast reaction times and natural movement. This has led to the misconception to outsiders who happened upon tests outside of the Academy that the armor itself is alive. Risen who are apart of the Steel Battalion are called Wardens, and in skirmishes are considered to be the heavy forces for the Academy. Wardens are equipped with massive shields and heavy axes.
- Steel Batallion are known for being equipped with Techmaturgical weaponry such as capacitor axes.
The Academy is just that, an academy transformed into a country. Their goals have evolved to keeping themselves as secretive as possible. This thought is ingrained in their people, both born and adopted in. The world is chaotic and the best hope is to advance as far as they can. None who are of the Ascended ever just leave. Sometimes they will venture out for small expeditions, although even those are immensely rare.
Names hold power to the Ascended, and they will pass down names almost as titles from generation to generation. The Director will sometimes tell stories to the youth of the Academy of his early days with the first of the Ascended and how their names are still passed down to the current age.
Storytelling is both popular and useful in telling the history of families in the Academy, passing down local legends that ancestors brought with them when the Academy was first being built all those centuries ago. The Director says that this cultural habit formed back with the Ascended were still like any other tribe, and they would tell stories to spread information.
It is not uncommon for inter-division pranks to occur, and sometimes the Creatures of Snow need to intervene if it gets too heated. The greatest of these inter-division pranks was the freezing of all the Division of Alchemy's doors by The Division of Physical Research. The alchemists tried to react by burning the labs of the physical researchers, but the Creatures of Snow decided that was just too far.
There are titles given to those who reach specific levels of learning in the Academy. The top are the division heads, but under them are section heads, who run specific sectors of the divisions of the Academy. Then there are scientists, Ascended who have reached a point in their studies where they may chose their own path of research and study, interns, young Ascended who must study alongside a current scientist and must fulfill criteria to become a scientist themselves, and finally the freshmen, Ascended children as they learn and grow, learning from various accomplished scientists, division heads, and even the Director himself. He quite enjoys the astronomy lessons, and taking them to the observatory at the peak of the Academy.
The Academy will occasionally "leak" technology. This is done through various methods, either by a false escapee or by some document somehow making its way through a trader. This is only done when they feel they are sufficiently advanced past the technology to be leaked. It is a great honor to show an advancement you have made, either at a tournament or to the Director himself, and then hear the plans of the earlier forms of the work will be leaked.
Residents of the Academy are also taught two languages alongside whatever language they know culturally. One is a common speech for everyone to be able to understand each other called Iccada. This is supposedly named after the first Ascended that the Director worked alongside. The other is a silent language using their hands. This is used primarily by those who need to make expeditions into the wilds of the world. Dragonflies, Asset Protections, and Humanity Studies, usually being the only groups to truly go far into the world, though occasionally for specific study, alchemists have been seen as well.
"I saw a figure, shrouded; not an inch of skin was shown on his form. A white face with a long nose and beady black eyes stared at me. It was a face of a monster" -Villager who caught sight of an Ascended outside
The Ascended are people based on secrecy and keeping themselves safe. They are made up of various races from around the world, primarily ones that were active before the Great War. Through the Division of Humanity Studies, the Academy does bring in new people. They will wait for a battle or war to take place, then abduct the orphans of the war and bring them into the fold. Many nations would notice that orphanages will lose about one child every five years. This has allowed them to expand the genetic diversity within the Academy and hopefully keep the orphans of war from a sad fate. The last time they were seen outside of the Academy, they had begun wearing safe suits, to keep themselves free of contamination. The most recent time people dressed in this manner were viewed they were spotted around an area of Corpsebloom, taking samples and flanked by massive suits of armor that seemed to be alive. Inside the Academy, Ascended and Risen take to wearing synthetic leathers and clothes made from biomorphs raised in their undercities.
Since technically Ascended can be from any species, the Academy has many of the various races of the world inside its walls. The Ascended versions of these races are not very different from their versions outside the Academy; only minor changes have persisted over time. If the children of the race could pass the tests left by Dragonflies, or if their ancestors journeyed to the Academy during the early ages, the race could live there. Species isn't important, not nearly as much as mental capacity.
The Risen are experiments that have grown to become new residents of the Academy. The Risen technically are the result of advanced work with Corpsebloom and study of human genetics and physiology, resulting in the ability to bring corpses back to life. Early versions of the Risen were shambling, slow, and unable to learn. They were also quite clearly not human. The current generation of the Risen are nearly indistinguishable from human. They still require an Ascended to dictate orders and unfortunately only have a shelf life of ten years, but scientists are working to fix these issues.
Views on Experimentation
"Log-date: 1998.6.23: The subject is reacting poorly to the most recent introduction of the serum. It appears as if biogenetic modification cannot yet be done on living subjects. Subject's bone structure has indeed begun to shape itself towards the desired effect of increased density, yet the webbing on the hands and fingers, the enlarged eyes, nor the slow dissolving of the subject's skin are not what I hypothesized would occur. Perhaps I used too much frog." - Ascended scientist, Division of Alchemy
Ascended of The Academy are admittedly obsessed with advancing their knowledge and perfection of their field of study. To this end, they tend to be rather liberal with their view on human testing. While this has indeed allowed them significant advances at a very rapid pace, the lack of morality in working with human test subjects could be viewed by outsiders as cold, calculated, and unfair. However, they do not have this viewpoint too long as they are usually the ones being subjected to the experiments. Some Ascended would say though, that they should be proud. Many subjects have indeed been lost, but it is because of the loss that the Academy has discovered the cure to many illnesses and advanced in medical technology. It is many of these subjects who perished who became the first of the Risen.
Through various branches of communication, the Ascended have ways of gathering human test subjects. It is unknown how, but they never seem to have a lacking in them. Ascended scientists will jokingly call them "interns", but this is not as humorous to actual Ascended interns who are attempting to learn more in the field of study they wish to advance into.
There are a few notable experiments/creations that have been created by the Academy, though it is unknown if this would be known by the other nations of the world.
"The spreading rate is astounding, and the medical applications of the near halt of decomposition in subjects could change everything! I would hate to see what would happen if it ever got into wrong hands" - last words of alchemist Wilted Lilly
Corpsebloom was a pet project of alchemist Wilted Lilly who had the foolish ambition to bring her work with her on an assignment to transport building equipment to another nation just before the war. It is unknown which nation attacked her and stole the research, but it was this attack that caused the Academy to seal their doors. It wasn't until the first use of Corpsebloom as a weapon, did Academy Ascended realize what had happened. Trust towards the outside world became completely shattered, and the "fire on sight" view that persisted for a century began on any who approached.
In her notes, Wilted Lilly spoke of her ambitions with the project, and how she had cultivated the genes of various fungi to create what would become known as Corpsebloom. Her hope was to use the fungi's unique halt of decomposition to extend the life of living creatures. As other Ascended studied her notes and her work with the Corpsebloom, they found that her goals would not be realized, as the mind altering infectious nature would deteriorate mental functions. It was this research that led to the Risen being created.
"Once corpses that would be seen as monsters, now nearly perfectly resemble humanity. The only issue with using the Risen will be making sure we don't have them scout where families will recognize them." - notes by division head Crystal Eyes
The Risen are a result of experimentation and study of the flora known as Corpsebloom. After finding the preservative qualities of Corpsebloom, Ascended began to experiment on both living and dead subjects. After two centuries of research, it was an R&D Ascended who discovered how to make the first of the Risen.
Little more than hulking mindless things, the early Risen were useful in construction efforts to expand on the undercities of the time. They obeyed simple commands, but brain deterioration occurred far too quickly to use them for anything more than simple jobs. They lasted for roughly one year before needing to be purged.
It was the research of another Ascended sixty years later, the mute divison head of arcanacanisis Crystal Eyes, who expanded on the research, finding ways to make the Risen appear more and more human, and to extend their lifespan to ten years. She also had the image of using the Risen for an army, and experiments went underway to reinforce their skeletal structures and sub-dermal armor. When she stepped down as division head, she moved her research to her own burrow, where she is continuing to expand upon the understanding of the Risen, and how to extend their potential even further.
The Zep Project
"I dream of a day we fly through the air like birds. The Director tells of the possibilities, and I wish to go as far as I can!" -First of the Ascended, Dark Hands
The Zep is a prototype in air travel, using gas to fill a massive balloon made of lightweight material, to propel Ascended through the air. Currently the Academy has three Zeps that can transport roughly one hundred people and some cargo.
There are also some smaller versions that can transport up to five passengers and smaller amounts of cargo. These smaller ones are currently used at night to transport materials to some of their more hidden safe houses.
Ascended view Zep-tech as being a great future for the Academy and many Ascended scientists are working to expand the research and possible uses for it.
The Great Rail
"Transport that takes half a day to get from the Academy to any outlying areas? It is a dream worth working towards." -Ascended engineer.
The Great Rail is a massive project still in the works of a transport system that can move underground using a tunnel system that leads from the Academy to any of their future endeavors, though at present they can only go to their farthest expansion called The F.O.R.G.E.
The Great Rail uses a steam powered engine that gains its power from power generators in both the F.O.R.G.E. and the Academy. This has become the main way of transporting supplies in-between the two areas.
"Sparking and arching, lighting and marching, power flows through it all" -part of a children's song in the Academy.
Power generation in the Academy is produced by geothermal reactors deep underground. The initiative to begin production and expansion into power such as this came from a growing need for more power and resources after their doors closed. The Academy has multiple alternate power sources such as high-altitude static generation and, in its earliest form, water turbine power generation, but the introduction of geothermal energy has become a major boon to power production.
Views on Other Nations
It is not standard for Ascended to learn or study other nations. That particular field of study is left up to the Division Humanity Studies. They have, however, written reference materials regarding these nations and their general opinions on them. There are also members of these nations integrated into Ascended society, so it is not uncommon for former members of these countries to give their input as well.
Following are short journal entries by one of the most well traveled scientists in the Division of Humanity Studies, "Goldeyes" Terri Selana:
"Physically a dense and compact people, it is amazing how their society is so similar to how they are on a physical level. They work in separate cities much like our divisions, and seem to have all the freedom in the world to compete and grow with no higher governmental influence. Their close location to the Goran hoard makes them hardy, and it will be intriguing to see how their development goes. Spies tell us that their culture is simple and efficient. If we ever decide to start working in the outside world I could envision cooperation between us."
"The Goran are vicious, bloodthirsty psychopaths. Their physical development is so intriguing and their fallen our some of the Alchemists's favorite test subjects. Their country's spreading appears like a bacterial infection, moving at a random pace with no real cognition of how it moves. Their culture is harsh, barely what we would call civilization, a world dedicated to war that seems to have no care of what is in its way. They are strangely diplomatic to those around them, offering their treaties to those that get into their way. I and the Risen who accompany me will be attempting to acquire samples of their language for study."
"Some of my compatriots back at The Academy come from the Broken Kingdoms. They are a people with a high degree of caring, this leads them to spread to acquire fame and stories. I can understand their desire for the most part; our treatment of titles and names back home are similar. I, myself, am named after one of the first Dragonflies, but it is their passion that separates us. They appear to be mostly neutral and only attack those who attack them, a wise stance to stay out of the greater politics in the world."
"Traders are a necessity in the world that can sometimes seem like a bane, yet the efficiency of the traders of the Family Hearth and the distance they will go for their craft is astounding. I slipped in among a caravan for one of their journeys and heard the stories of the distances they would go. They were quite useful in information about the other major nations of the world, and I was given a small history lesson on the various wars that occurred. They are quite useful, spread far, and have their fingers in almost every other nation."
"If the Goran are bacterial, the Tallet Empire is viral. They have silver tongues and seem to convince others to let them in, absorbing them then creating more to spread. It is a bit frightening really. The Goran's spread I feel could be slowed if not contained through careful negotiation, but the Tallet are vicious and on a crusade to conquer this world. They are something to be worried about indeed"
"My time spent in the Circle left me feeling both very confused and a bit insulted. I am confused how the people go about living in this manmer. I have brought water back from their country to be tested by the Alchemists, because I theorize that their water must be drugged for their people to be so...compliant... something this "perfect" is probably rotting inside. I am also insulted at how unfocused they appear to be on scientific research. They have areas of their country that appear as though they will be focused and as dedicated as the Academy, yet they are so soft I doubt their learners could stand up in a tournament. Everything I glimpsed appears to be a step behind where we are. In my personal opinion, they are simply spread too thin to compete in any one area."
"The smaller nations of the world are a great source of new blood for the Academy. I left many puzzles for parentless children to attempt to solve, as well as Dragonflies to watch and see who solves them. We may have new residents in the Academy soon."
"I once traveled with a few like me, long before we settled away from one another. They were my friends, close companions who I trusted greatly. Perhaps it is naive of me to hope that I can trust them again, though even if I can, none will ever set sight on the Academy. I will dawn armor and fight them myself to keep that promise." -The Director
The Academy has discovered a light necessity for contact with the outside world, and have formed what they call "silent treaties", treaties that are written to guarantee their secrecy, and set up in a manner that even those with whom they make the treaties with still don't know how to reach the Academy. The Dragonflies will leave clues of the Academy, puzzles for nations to find, and direct them to a spot where they would meet to discuss. This is only done after the Director decides it is absolutely necessary for them to sign a treaty with the selected group.
The Director handles these treaties in person, never leaving the Academy except to do this. He prefers to make these treaties with other Immortals, but will negotiate with others if the desired treaty target is not an Immortal.
It was the Director who decided to have Dragonflies leave clues for the Goran to find. Such a powerful neighbor, it would be better to make deals first before they came into the Academy's mountains. They studied the Goran's language and customs, found as much as they could, and led them to an abandoned city of ruins from the Great War, where the Director and an entourage of Creatures of Snow and Steel Battalion waited for the army that approached. The Director did not expect to find an old companion among the hoard, though Gor no longer remembered the Director.
The discussion of the treaty was filled with much drinking, which the Director was not quite used to, but eventually an agreement was made. Due to shared views of saving and protecting the world, though each had a skewed way of thinking about it, the Director agreed to Gor's treaty and began an exchange of advanced medical tech from the Academy and expanded genetic research, in exchange for test subjects and resources that the Academy cannot acquire on their own alongside continued secrecy of the Academy's existence as a whole.
The Broken Kingdom
The Director had contact with the Truest King and his kingdom before the Academy locked their doors, and found him to be a rational and well-thought leader. The decision to leave clues for a meeting in the Broken Kingdom then was not a hard one, as their stonework and a more watchful eye to the biological weaponry of the other nations left him a valuable contact in Soi. When Dragonflies first heard word that the Broken Kingdoms had seekers looking for the Citadel, it was time to act.
The puzzles led The Truest King to an ancient cave, one used by a culture for meditation purposes. The Director waited inside and apologized for his absence in the world affairs, but explained his position of lack of trust of the other Immortals, and his fear that an incident like Corpsebloom will happen again. The Director offered an agreement to the Truest King to keep The Academy's existence silent and for some assistance in resources and samples the Academy can not always acquire on their own. In return they would assist in the combat of biological weaponry and plagues that exist in The Broken Kingdom's lands.
The Family Hearth
The Academy is not known to be avid traders, but acquiring coin that works around the world for their Dragonflies and having an outlet for "leaking" old technology was a useful thing. The puzzles left for the Mother were convoluted and annoying, left by the Director himself, but they all led to a tavern in a small unclaimed city. The tavern was owned by an Academy Dragonfly, and the Director himself was seated at the bar, smirking to himself as she walked in. "It took you 150 years? Stubborn bastard."
The Director only wished to be introduced to a single guild who would handle small, secret trades with the Academy. The trades would be based out of the tavern they sat in.
Needing to expand their abilities to research as many areas of the world as possible, the Director saw it wise to begin some minor expansion projects, in hopes the Academy could acquire more materials and research on their own.
The Academy has laid claim to some small outposts in the world, but mostly use these as safe houses for Dragonflies running recon. The main five being used are a ruined city from The Great War, just outside of Goran territory, an ancient cave used by a dead culture for meditation and prayer located in unclaimed territory very close to Kushan, a tavern in an unclaimed city named Fleeting Wings, a small unclaimed farm south of the Broken Kingdom, and a hidden base under a small mountain by a lake.
The F.O.R.G.E. or Facility for Organized Research in Greater Exploration is the largest expansion the Academy has made, and has only been available due to the Silent Treaty with the Goran. The Director and Gor had a talk about the Director's plans for the future, and explained the need for a secluded place close the the equator. Gor approved the idea, and assisted in the construction of the facility. The island was cleared of anyone, and Rae woods were planted around the island. Steam vents from power generators surround the island in a thick mist, making it dangerous for any who do not know the way. Dead center of the island a facility was built, with high walls topping in a dome that opens to allow entry and exit of Zeps. Clearing an area of four miles, the facility was built, and Rae woods planted around it. Construction began downward, burrowing deep into the island, setting up for future research burrows that would extend into the ocean for deep water research.
Currently roughly five hundred scientists from various divisions reside at The F.O.R.G.E. and the only way to reach it is by heavily guarded caravans through Goran land and sea, and The Great Rail.