Wistram Academy, also known as the Isle of Mages, and the Academy of Secrets, is an institute that focuses on teaching magic.
- 1 Background
- 2 Layout
- 3 Decline
- 4 Rules
- 5 Curriculum
- 6 Exam
- 7 Graduation
- 8 Economy
- 9 Golems
- 10 Factions
- 11 Members
- 12 Trivia
- 13 Gallery
- 14 References
The academy has existed for thousands of years. It was founded at a time when many nations were at war and mages desired a place to learn and teach in peace. In all those millenia, Wistram has always been independent. No nation has managed to control it. It possesses its own army and only a truly grand fleet could make it to its shores with weather spells raised against them.
During Wistram's construction a variety of architects had been employed, each implementing their own style. As a result, one would rarely come across a room designed in the same way. That also extends to the security of said rooms; while some have traditional, non-magical locks, requiring a stone key to unlock, others need the occupier to speak their names into it.
Over 200 years ago, Wistram was ruled by the [Archmages], one of them being Zelkyr. At some point, Zelkyr, famous for his skills in the Golem creation, managed to create Cognita, his greatest achievement. Together with her and the rest of his Golem army, Zelkyr felt confident enough to challenge the higher floors of the citadel, those that were even lethal for the [Archmages], containing spells and traps of the most powerful mages that have ever lived in Wistram. Zelkyr did succeed in conquering these floors, and with it its secrets. However, he decided to keep the possessions of those legendary mages to himself and even declared the school as his. To ensure that, he ordered his Golems to guard the entrances to the upper levels and seal it off. Outraged by this, the [Archmages] attacked him, though none managed to get pat his Golems. Those that hadn't died had to submit to him.
One day, Cognita came down from the upper floors and announced that Archmage Zelkyr was dead. Ever since then, she and the other Golems have been maintaining Wistram. They still fulfill his orders by helping the mages, taking care of the academy, fighting off intruders and so forth, but his other order still stands. No one may venture above. So while Wistram is safe, the higher magics are off-limits.
On those upper floors are spells of the 7th Tier or even higher. There are plenty of mages capable of casting Tier 5 spells, or even Tier 6. But everyone that desires higher ones has to beat Cognita and Zelkyr's best creations first, which is almost impossible. Over the years, countless mages challenged Cognita and the Golems. Some did it by themselves, others attacked in groups or tried to catch the Golems off-guard. None succeeded. Now, only occasionally do some group of mages decide to challenge them, but they’re always killed.
Without anyone having gained enough power to control the other ones, as Zelkyr once did, the mages split into several factions, consisting of mages sharing similar ideals.
20 years ago, in the year 2 A.F, Wistram was listed as one of the most powerful factions in the world, if an often quiet one. Mages worked for lots of gold and sometimes caused trouble, but they were indispensable. Of course, any organization that trained young spellcasters could be a threat, and other nations competed with each other to create their own institutions of magic now and then. But Wistram was safe from such politics, or indeed most wars due to its famed neutrality.
If the mages of Wistram did take part in a war, it was by declining to provide services, boycotting specific groups or countries, and so on. Few times in recorded history did mages fight on battlefields against a specific kingdom or empire. When mages did take to the field in numbers, it was against common enemies such as the Demonfolk of Rhir, or against a Goblin King or similar calamity.
Still, were it not for the benefits Wistram provided to all, it surely would have been taken over by one nation or other over the countless years it had existed. Wistram occupied a central point for all ships crossing the ocean, providing them with a place to trade, sell, and resupply. Yet few armies had ever taken Wistram by force, and none had ever breached the gates since the Golems of Archmage Zelkyr’s had been created to protect the isle.
Aside from their military prowess, so do they stand out with their wealth. Trade was only a part of the mage’s economy, and that by itself would not allow mages to live in such splendor. No, it was the unparalleled quality of their education, at least compared to the standards of the current era as the education has actually quite fallen over the last centuries. A mage may be made of any fool with a basic grasp of magic, but of Wistram mages, it was said that the weakest of them was a match for any Silver-rank adventurer. And that was broadly correct. A mage passed by Wistram was almost always a studied graduate of at least six years, capable of casting many spells and studied in a wide variety of fields. They owed it all to the rigorous training given to them by their teachers, older mages who imparted their knowledge to the new students.
That was the true value of Wistram. Its teachers. Each one defined the experience the students would go through year to year, and so it was small wonder the students quickly learned which teachers could be appeased, which ones were competent and which were barely able to convey their subject matter and of course, which ones were to be feared. However, few teachers are happy, especially those ones that are obligated to teach magic to the newest students that had just passed their entrance exams. Moreover, the salary provided by the council was meager. It was a task mages fought to avoid.
Wistram doesn't have one big library but a multitude of libraries. Some of them are dedicated to one subject or comprised of books from a certain era.
Similarly to the rooms, the libraries also have differently designed. For instance, one library has a pool of water in it, and all the books are waterproofed to let mages read and bathe.
Furthermore, some mages that prefer solitude or even hide themselves from the public reside in secluded rooms that are connected to a library by a secret tunnel, allowing them to acquire new books to further their studies without being seen by their fellow mages.
The catacombs of Wistram were extensive, dark, and off-limits for all students. Two suits of armor stand guard on the entrance at all times, a hallmark of another time when the remains of one mage might be destroyed by an enemy. To prevent an Undead to rise in the first place, ward spells are place there, designed to siphon the mana away.
The remains of the recently deceased went to another room, where the process of decomposition was initiated by Golems. Only the bones would go below. The catacombs are filled with sarcophagi, alcoves in the wall, coffins and burial urns.
In the past, even first-year students would have known a method of spellcasting that would make Pisces' pale in comparison; theirs was much more refined and efficient. Furthermore, it appears that during Zelkyr's time the students' combat classes didn't just entail the casting of destructive spells, as it seems to be the case nowadays, but also how to counter the enemies' own spells. 
Even Falene, who graduated just 30 years ago, noticed how Pisces' and Ceria's aura is, for Wistram graduates, unrefined and that their mana flow is not as focused as it should have been. That said, both of them didn't graduate in the conventional way, as they had to leave the school a few years earlier. The points Falene addressed might have been fixed in those last years. On the other hand, Pisces was always said to be a genius, the top of his year. In those years that passed after his leave, one might assume that he would be as good as any 6th year in those areas.
- 1.You must never venture into the high parts of the castle or the lower reaches unaccompanied and even then, only with great cause. Dangers lurk within Wistram, ancient magics and spells and creatures called here and never destroyed. Too, the very enchantments keeping this citadel intact sometimes fray. Only a mage with true power is allowed into such places.
- 2.Some of the Golems here were made as I am, but most lack any form of intelligence and simply obey orders. Do not attack or obstruct them in any way or they may react unpredictably.
- 3. Anyone attempting to cast area-wide magics must first consult with I or an experienced mage. Unpredictable results may occur if a spell affects a wide area of the academy at once.
(Rules stated to initiates by Cognita)
There are more rules students have to follow during their stay. However, Cognita only cares about the rules that were relevant around 200+ years ago, when she was first created. As a result, she wouldn't care, for instance, students killing one another, which would now be prohibited.
One of the newer rules forbids the students from entering certain libraries. It is assumed, though, that this is more of a warning than an inviolable rule. The mages supposedly like to see how the students react to those restrictions. Basically, they are allowed to break the rule, if they manage to not get caught, therefore proving their capabilities as mages.
Another dictates that mages below the third year only be allowed one personal spellbook for their use.
- Elementary Magic, therefore the re-teaching of the basics of magic.It comprises of, for instance, the study of basic telekinesis, magical composition and fundamental aspects of magical theory like spellcraft. There, the students learn how to levitate small objects and refine their mana flow, among other things.
- Combat magic.
- During the 2nd year one can take scrying classes.
- Combat magic.
- Theory on how to make spells work in confined boundaries.
- Golem creation, scroll scribing, trap spells and enchantments and other lessons. (However, if a student is talented enough he can get those lessons much earlier)
Most magic-based Classes require the [Mage] to be Level 10; a lot of them even need the person too be Level 20. That’s the reason why most classes in Wistram just teach the basics early on— the teachers wait for the students to have a high [Mage] level before they attempt to specialize them.
Old books left behind by students are being collected and given to new students. However, before they are being handed out to them they are being carefully inspected to make sure they don't contain any powerful spells. As a result, one will never find anything beyond a Tier 2 spell in said spellbooks. The more useful books are only available when one rises in status. That's not to say that it's impossible to gain access to said books without having first gained a powerful position. A few of such high quality books can be found in the libraries. Unfortunately, the exact location of them is viewed as one of the biggest secrets in Wistram, making it very unlikely for one to actually find them. Moreover, even with the knowledge of its position, it might still remain inaccessible as the tomes could be heavily protected.
One month after the initiation, the recently arrived students have to immediately prove their worth in an exam. Said exam entails the testing of the magical abilities, Skills, and a demonstration of what spells have been successfully learned during the short stay at the school. To summarize, the participants' abilities as students are being tested, as are their capabilities as mages before they had even arrived at Wistram.
As a result, people might pass the exam by solely showing that they have mastered the lessons without being particularly strong mages.
The various lessons that are being covered in the exam include their ability to control fundamental magic, how they analyze enchantments and remain their calm during combat.
However, those aspects aren't the only factors that matter. The examiners also take into account the ranking of each person compared to their fellow students. Another method would be by being well liked by an influential mage, making them more likely to vote in their favor no matter their results. Additionally, examinee may fail in all criterias and yet pass, namely by possessing enough wealth to pay for the whole next year.
A grueling obstacle course where the students would be allowed to use offensive spells to reach the end quickly concludes the examination.
The course consists of magical constructed corridors, which despite looking vaguely transparent and fragil are quite solide. Outside, the mages look through the ghosty stones and observe if the students can navigate their way down the corridor and pass the other obstacles with their magic. It is also taken into consideration how much time they need to do so, their ability to handle each obstacle, and resourcefulness.
Said obstacles constitute of, for instance, [Fireballs], albeit fake ones to prevent them from seriously harming the students. Spells aren't the only dangers the examinee have to watch out for, however. They are also attacked by various monsters, though also magicallly created ones. That is noticeable by their shimmering bodies that make the impression as though they consist of light. As a result, when they are being destroyed, they simply dissipate into fragments and fade away. If the creatures hit the students they won't leave behind an injury, but a shining mark instead of it.
At the end of the corridor, a massive Troll appears, attacking everyone that stands in his way.
The initiates aren't the only ones required to proof themselves, though. Students from the 2nd to the 6th year have to pass an exam everytime at the end of each year. It is being left to the students how they want to show they are worth keeping. It can be anything from a spell they’ve learned to reciting something they’ve studied or presenting something they’ve made. Otherwise they might be forced to pay to stay.
Once the students have graduated and become proper Wistram Mages, which usually happens after their 6th year, they have access to multiple Tier 4 (at least 3 to 5). Despite that, they are terrible combatants, considerably lacking fighting experience.
The most valuable currency on Wistram is not gold as it is the case for most nations, but secrets, meaning it uses a bartering system. If one desires something — be it a spell, perhaps one no one's heard of, locations of buried treasures, unique classes, a favor, or even another secret, one has to pay for them by revealing a secret; one that equals the worth of what one desires.
However, those secrets are mostly not unique information nobody else has heard of, but more general knowledge.
The hundreds of Golems on the isle are responsible for most manual work. Together with famous [Chefs], Golems prepare the food for the mages and students.
Despite the fact that Archmage Zelkyr only imbued Cognita with the capacity for thought, over the years the other Golems have achieved a low level of intelligence, at least communally. As a result, the Golems in Wistram can think, and if they haven't already, then they can learn to think.
Some appear to be carved to look like Humans or other races, while others are just suits of animated armor. There is also a Golem made of pure emerald, one that seemed to be made of the wind itself, and another one that looks like a being of wood with moss and flowers growing out of its body.
Wistram isn't one united place, but is divided into different factions. The entering of one faction isn't being announced publicly but kept a strict secret. Although joining a faction isn't mandatory, many do it nonetheless as only strong mages can survive in Wistram by themselves. Not being able to ensure one's own safety might result in one's enslavement.
Each faction has a different vision as to which path the school should take. Only 2 factions, the Expansionists and the Revivalist, are interested in new students. Others, like the Isolationists, would prefer to stop accepting new ones altogether with the hope of making aspiring mages find their way to the school. Even though most don't care about the students, one way or another they contribute in some way.
While it isn't necessary to join a faction, depending on your importance the factions might pressure you into joining them.
As of Volume 7, there are six titled archmages remaining of the seven that held the formal title by the time of Volume 1. Only three of them are present in Wistram and pretending to govern the academy. None of the titled archmages has the class of [Archmage]. One of the three listed Human archmages is in fact not a Human.
- Feor (Current; Half-Elf from Terandria)
- Nailihuaile (Current; Star Lamia from Baleros)
- Viltach (Current; Human from Terandria, close ties to nobility there)
- Verdan Blackwood (Current/Retired/Absent; Human from Baleros, ties to Iron Vanguard) 
- unnamed Centaur (Current/Absent; flighty, powerful, loose ties to Maelstrom's Howling)
- Valeterisa (Current/Absent; Human from Izril, loose ties to Imarris family)
- Balkizat (Former/Deceased)
- Zelkyr (Former/Deceased)
- Nekhret (Former/Deceased)
- Perril Chandler (Former/Exiled and generally believed deceased since 10 years; (no longer) Human from Terandria)
- Amerys (Former/Imprisoned, Human from Chandrar)
- Charles de Trevalier
- Timor du Havrington
- Ceria (Expelled/Graduate)
- Pisces (Expelled/Graduate)
- Nemistra Verdinan (Deceased)
- Viceria Strongheart (Graduate)
- Falene Skystrall (Graduate)
- Phesofi (Graduate)
- Montressa du Valeross (Graduate)
- Isceil (Graduate/Deceased')
- Bezale (Graduate)
- Ulinde (Graduate)
- Palt (Graduate)
- One has to pay 20 gold coins to attend Wistram Academy for a month.
- At least 3 archmages currently are affiliated with Wistram. However, they don't tend to live exclusively there but prefer to travel often. Their absence is limited, though, as in just one month, at least, one of them is likely going to be found in Wistram. 
- The Wistram mages are the only known group, whose spells can reach across the world.
- Only a few people actually end their studies and leave. Usually, they consist of adventurers. Some of them don't like being told that the magic they had practiced for years is inefficient; among those are even Gold-rank adventurers who are too prideful to accept that.
- Many races that are usually rare on most continents, such as Selphids, Dullahans, Centaurs, can be found at Wistram. The reason is that usually all good spellcasters living on Baleros get sent to the school. Minotaurs, however, are in the minority, as few are magically gifted and a generally dislike towards magic exists.
- Around two decades ago, the Gnolls sent one of their [Shamans] to learn at Wistram. The mages denied him entry, though, declaring all Gnolls to be magic-deficient. As a result, even after 20 years no Gnoll agrees to trade with Wistram, not even through middlemen. That is a bit of an inconvenience for the school, as many Gnolls are famous [Merchant] and [Traders].
- One way Wistram earns money is by offering enchantments for weaponry and various artifacts. Their services are especially demanded by adventurers that want improved gear or like to have something analyzed.
- All the mages inclined towards combat get up early to train. Especially the rocks around the academy are a favorite spot for all mages to practice, as ther would be less bodies to hit if their aim’s off.
- Duels are often seen in Wistram. Sometimes it is being fought for money, sometimes for pride, or for any other thing. A duel doesn't have to consist of two mages firing spells at one another, but can even be a spoken debate. The winner of said debate is being decided by a collective vote; the voters have to answer under a truth spell who made, in their opinions, the more convincing argument. If it is being carried out in a form of a battle, then a shield spell surrounds the participants, preventing the audience from being hit by any spells.
- [Flash Step], a Tier 3 spell, is considered impressive when cast by a 16 year old.
- When Viceria still lived on the isle, disciplines involving growing, which [Green Mages] are, for instance, focusing on, were not respected much.
- There are only a few records of when mages challenged the Golems. The last time Cognito and the Golems were challenged by a group of mages.None of the mages survive the challenge. Illphres ,teacher and mentor of Ceria was one of the challenger.