There is much to know concerning the land of Kime. Its twelve kingdoms are at constant odds with one another. Some seek to conquer, some seek to persevere, while others fool themselves with declarations of neutrality. For now, all that you need to know is that you are an aspiring musician enrolled at what is known as The Academy of Song.
There are two categories of students. The first are privileged. They are, with rare exception, sons and daughters of Ainian or Bareevian nobles whose generous ‘contributions’ ensure that the Academy persists in a manner which best favors themselves.
The second are students who are not of highborn stock (which is the category you belong to). They come from all corners of Kime, most with nothing but the cost of tuition and hope. They are referred to as ‘Patchers’ as their belongings and clothing are typically that – tattered and patched.
Patchers work to remain at the school. Toiling over crops, in the orchards, maintaining dorms and roads, or acting as servants for the wealthiest of students to compensate for their lack of monetary good-fortune.
Faculty is no different. Some have become instructors because they have been there for most of their lives and have grown into the role, while others are there because some ranking official from the Eastern Kingdom used their influence to promote a relative rather than see them drafted into military service.
There is the position of High Bard. It is earned through skill of craft more-so than public opinion. Even the highborn cannot influence that tradition. The High Bard’s name is Master Bradias Laird. He began his career at the Academy thirty-seven years earlier, himself a Patcher. Directly below the High Bard in authority is the Circle of Five. Master Marcus Rogers and Apprentice Asrune Reed make up his allied portion of that Circle. The three remaining seats belong to Easterners; Master Trollise Gratestone, Madam Jollan Tyrett, and Krighten Vrane.
There are also notable students - too many to list. Two, however, are worth mention as a warning. Brachtin Shorf is the son of the Ainian General, Bolgus Shorf. He is a cruel boy who enjoys causing pain. Charline T’Kol is no better. Her father has made such large ‘donations’ to the Academy that it allows her to commit nearly any act she cares to commit with little more than a speaking-to as consequence.
But things aren’t all dreadful. Summer break is approaching. A time when the ambitious student might embark upon a journey of entertainment, visiting cities and towns along the Great Sands River, or pledge their time to build a stage, plant a row of fruit tree for the Academy’s vineyard, or any number of such tasks. Despite the politics, a life at the Academy of Song is a life better than most. With Summer Break pending it also meant the party of all parties was pending. Wine would flow, sweet leaf would burn, and music would play unending for days.
There is an excitement in the air…
The Academy of Song is an old institution. It was built eight-hundred years ago and has survived both natural disaster and man’s follies. The Great Hall is where the Masters reside. It’s a towering, gothic structure built of obsidian block that was fitted by Dwarves in a time when that race was so-inclined to emerge from the depths beneath the Fang Mountains and mingle with the races of surface.
In circular, cobbled streets the Academy stretches outward from the Great Hall. Each road is known as a ring. The Inner Ring is lined with dorms serving as housing for the students from the Eastern Kingdoms.
Beyond the dorms is the Teaching Ring. The classrooms vary. Some are stone structures, while others are naught but simple shelters. Some are constructed in harmony with the Academy’s ancient trees or cradled between the branches of gurgling brooks.
Further out from the Teaching Ring is the Artisan’s Ring. Here one could find a jeweler, a glass blower, an herbalist, clothiers, a cobbler, among other skilled tradesmen. The Academy does not finance these businesses, it is the Eastern benefactors who own them and reap their profits.
All craftsmen are indentured - each with a debt that forces them to remain. The Academy is responsible to see to the artisans needs. This includes food, repairs, and often the resources for them to create the goods that will be transported east. In addition, profits from this micro-economy do not exempt the Academy from its own tax burden. Let it be said that anyone who states the Academy of Song’s primary purpose is to explore the cultural arts is a fool.
Beyond the Artisan’s Ring is the Patcher’s Ring. In addition to their daily studies and classroom work, each Patcher works for an artisan, in the orchards, in the vineyard, in the crop fields, or as an assistant to a teacher or other official. Some load wagons bound to the East, while others unload supply wagons from any number of origins. Some spend there time at the stables cleaning stalls and tending the horses. Others are unfortunate enough to be gong farmers – although that task is normally reserved for those who blatantly cause problems.
Crop fields and orchards exist beyond the Patcher’s Ring. Though the Academy does receive a small portion of the yield, most crop and fermentations are exported to Ain, Bareevia, The Coldlands or sent to sustain the Ainian army perpetually waging war to the west.
Kime is rife with turmoil.
The country of Peh is divided by two Queens and their armies - sisters born seconds apart, with conflicting beliefs of which sister left the womb before the other.
Gorn and Zad, war torn as the Eastern Kingdom’s armies strive to breach the Fang Mountains and attack Finn, Horj, and Bittip.
Trad with its port city of Gilj, holds helplessly to a declaration of neutrality while politics from both East and West corrupt its senate, seeking to claim the strategic port for themselves.
Last but not least, in the middle of it all, is the desert kingdom of Morith. Its Half-Elf King, Rafta Gra has united the nomadic clans, and the fear that Gra might take offense keeps the warring nations from its borders.
There is much to know before a simple bard is prepared to leave the ‘safety’ of the Academy…
Hosted and narrated by:
Joseph Zouk (SirZoukist)
Scenes played: 2
License: Host License