The Osrona Imperial Mage's Academy and University
The School of Many Names
The main complex of the Academy, as it's known colloquially, has been in place on an elevated hill southeast of the Imperial City for roughly eight hundred years. Despite its florid and at times contentious history, the Academy has been a seat of learning since its inception and countless numbers of Essharan students have passed through its doors. Most find it a welcome, if temporary, respite from busy City life.
Officially, the Academy serves all members of Essharan citizenry, and even reluctantly has allowed foreign students in the past, usually as favors to the local nobility. In practice, however, tuition can be fairly expensive for the average commoner, who might hope at best to send one of their children for courses rather than a full curriculum.
Specific courses offered at the Academy have differed greatly over the centuries-- generally, restricted to whatever instructors are available. Wages and equipment are paid for with a mix of patronage and tuition; though that has not always been the case during various points in the Academy's history.
Though the Academy maintains a certain degree of freedom from interference by the city, both due to distance and a sense of independence, it is still firmly reliant on royal patronage and thus royal decree. A long-standing program offering free courses to any City Watch and First Light members has encouraged good cooperation and adherence to city law.
Noble House Pellaux
The Academy, of course, is not unregulated. Long-standing laws - and potential profits - demand oversight lest the Academy itself fall prey to the very thing it was initially meant to protect against. The Pellaux family is linked through time to the Academy itself; for centuries they have been given free reign on the campus, forming a liason between the Imperial Crown and the students despite its distance from the city. Close ties with the Pellaux among the Grandmasters is crucial for stable Academy-Noble Family relations.
House Pellaux is mainly responsible for the patronage system, controlling much of the financials of the institution. Though the Grandmaster deals with tuition and salaries, all records pass to House Pellaux and their many scholars and accountants. New knowledge or magic is required to be demonstrated to them before it's legalized for teaching, and likewise all recovered magical artifacts or relics. In addition, the House is capable of choosing a new Grandmaster should one be required for whatever reason, though several times in the past they've opted to allow the faculty to recommend their own.
Much of the Academy's ancient history is shrouded in mystery (stemming largely from an intense fire that ravaged the entire complex in 1066, destroying much of the archives).
The initial complex that forms the heart of the Academy was born in a much darker time than its current form would suggest. It began as a headquarters for anti-witch crusaders among the zealous city and rural folk, with the True Faith constructing much of the initial works and the earliest runes in the area.
For the first two centuries of its existence it was more of a border fort and prison, holding a great many prisoners from the Witch Trials. Some say it was one of these prisoners - an actual witch among the many innocent prisoners - that ended up burning much of it down, though the structure itself would remain, abandoned, for another fifty years.
Regardless of the brutality of the Witch Trials, something positive still came from it-- a great deal of magical knowledge was gained in the process. The question was, of course, what to do with it; where to store it. The noble families decided on the ruins of the True Faith complex, with its still-existing wards, to be the center of a new place of learning. With the threat of the Witches passed, the realm turned to the study and protection of magic so that such a thing might not happen again. The caretakers of this knowledge would be the faculty of the Imperial Academy.
A teacher is a most prized thing-- and quite well paid, generally. The Academy has frequently been accused of acquiring somewhat eccentric instructors for their courses, encouraging a wide field of knowledge. However, the paths to knowledge have some dangerous routes, and some schools of magic - such as illegal occultism - are entirely forbidden.
Instructors often take contracts to teach to whoever is interested in learning their field, for a specified time and at a specified salary, and generally accept the offer of living at the spacious Academy complex itself. Generally the courses are somewhat unstructured, with the most popular instructors holding large lessons, while others give more personal (and more expensive) one-on-one courses.
There have been eight Grandmasters of the Academy in the past (at various times called "headmasters"); female Grandmasters often choose the title of Grandmistress.
1066-1074: Artino Angelos (Astyan) - The first of the Grandmasters, Angelos was known for much of the early construction of the Academy, and its initial rules on magic and responsible care of dangerous knowledge. His powerful Earth magic reshaped much of the surrounding landscape.
1074-1097: Siri Galanis (Essharan) - The first Grandmistress. Galanis, according to the archives, had a particularly strong connection to the Lifestream and used it to channel much of the local mana flow to create an "intersection" of power that converge on the Academy grounds. It was during this time period that much new magical learning was accomplished, rather than mere study and protection of what had been learned before.
Mina Hatchett (Unknown) - Grandmistress Hatchett's name was stricken from most of the archives after it was discovered she was in fact an Abyssal One demon who had possessed the actual Mina Hatchett during study of a recovered occultic artifact. Generally these 2 years are simply skipped over as if they did not exist, and any records at all about the time are unusually sparse.
1100-1246: Remi Sarris (Essharan) - Sometimes teased for his seemingly supernatural lifespan, Grandmaster Sarris led the Academy to a golden age of stability and prosperity. Much of the current-day traditions began in this time period, such as royal patronage (Sarris was a leading noble citizen at the time). Much speculation was given on his extreme age - he became Grandmaster at age 64, or so he claimed, meaning that in 1246, when he mysteriously disappeared while getting his morning coffee, he was roughly 210 years old.
1247-1330: Jodi Sarris (Essharan-Magnolian) - The grand-daughter of the great Remi, Jodi Sarris had a good portion of her grandfather's power, and a great deal of exuberant creativity. She was responsible for much of the Academy ground's current state, including its transportation system. Thanks to her whimsical nature she created a great many strange chambers and secrets, and thanks to her skill many of which may never be found.
1330-1410: Gregor Volgran (Unknown) - Volgran was a gruff and aggressive Grandmaster, though during his time he greatly improved the Academy's collection of artifacts, tomes, and relics thanks to an immense obsession with archaeology. Grandmaster Volgran is known as one of the first to make contact with Agartha via Wayfinding magic, leading to full contact and trade with the help of the merchants and artificer's guilds. His ancestry was never mentioned in archives, though it's commonly thought he was Feleran.
1411-1522: None - During this time period, the Grandmaster position was abolished in favor of a Council of instructors to make decisions and share equal responsibilities, as nobody was chosen to become Grandmaster after Volgran and competition was fierce, leading to several duels and deaths. The Council worked well for over a century, until a chain of six lethal honor duels among Council members led to the reversion of the Grandmaster title (to the survivor).
1523-1599: Elias Patras (Essharan) - A rather humble and gentle man, everyone was surprised when old Elias won the final duel against the Council. Assuming the mantle of Grandmaster, Elias settled accounts with the Pellaux nobility and led the Academy to a time of relative calm. Like many previous Grandmasters, he simply disappeared mysteriously one day (marked officially, in records, as 'VWT').
The Academy is largely divided into two main areas- the Grounds, a large and very old set of buildings that form the main living and sleeping areas, and the Tower, a set of structures suspended above the ground complex.
The Grounds - These set of squat, tough stone structures have lasted many centuries and have varied in function as time passed. Early on they were the storage rooms of the first series of magic tomes created by local Essharan magi, though prior to that they had been used for a more grim purpose; as prisons for suspected witches. Luckily, however, memories do not last forever, and these days the ground floor complex forms something of a small town in itself, with on-campus quarters for students and faculty alike along with many amenities they might require. The plant life surrounding the Academy is tended to by students -- often it is something of a difficult task considering some of said plants have been imbued with near-sentience accidently over the years. Oops.
The Tower - Created much later than the Grounds, the Tower is the foremost repository of all magical knowledge in Esshara, as well as a good amount of mundane knowledge. During the time of the Tower's construction, a confluence of events including a particularly powerful Grandmaster led to some true wonders being fashioned within the mysterious confines of the Tower. The very building itself is said to be so steeped in magic that even non-Magi are occasionally able to feel it. Rooms have been known to simply disappear overnight, only to reappear centuries later, and even stranger things are known to be in the very depths of the Tower's heart. It's likely that no single person will ever know more than a tiny fraction of the Tower's true secrets.