War of Winds
Every caster in Pardeux knows the name “Belcarys”; for those wishing to study the preternatural, there is no better resource than the Belcarys Arcane Institute. Located northwest of the Zona mountain range, the Institute is home to the most knowledgeable of spell casters, as well as an archive thirteen stories tall.
No one is quite sure what drew the first wizards to the secluded north over 881 years ago. Maybe the area once had its own fountain of arcane energy, enhancing their abilities and understanding, helping them reshape the world around them. Perhaps it was simply the allure of isolation, allowing them to focus on their studies without worrying about prying eyes. After all, Belcarys was the last city in Pardeux to condemn the practice of necromancy, just less than two centuries ago.
Belcarys is tucked among the rolling hills at the foot of the mountainside with the Reverse River going through its center and up the mountain to Cloudmaker’s Peak. The story goes that a small group of wizards hiked up to the peak to perform experiments deemed too dangerous to try within the city, and rightfully so as it seems they broke time, causing all the river water that had once flowed down the mountain to return from the Shattering Sea. Unfortunately, the group of experimenters never returned, and none are allowed back on Cloudmaker’s Peak.
The Belcarys Arcane Institute values knowledge above all else, making it no surprise that the leader of the city is the best and brightest, known as the Spellmaster. Traditionally, the Spellmaster is chosen by their predecessor for their wisdom and abilities. In the event that the Spellmaster dies without naming a successor, the title goes to whomever contributes new information to the Institute. It may be a new spell, a new kind of magic item or a remarkable arcane discovery.
Of the 40,080 people living in Belcarys, 40% of them are human. It’s no surprise that elves are next at 20%, their long lives granting them access to greater wisdom and arcane talent. Gnomes, most likely from nearby Oradove, make up 10% while curious halflings are 7%. Though most dwarves are more interested in stone and metalworking, 3% of the population is dwarvish. The remaining 20% are half breeds, from half elves to half orcs and everything in between, along with more uncommon races.
Life in Belcarys revolves around magic; uncovering its secrets and how to use them to one’s advantage. The crown glory of the city is its library, a thirteen story tower in the center of the Institute campus, though its rumored to go even deeper underground. Around it are seven districts dedicated to the various schools of magic, containing classrooms and research laboratories. However a look at the southmost district makes it clear that the grounds was once an eight pointed star; when necromancy was banned, the citizens of Belcarys could not bring themselves to destroy the knowledge, as dangerous as it was. Instead they sealed it away, using magic to bring a massive landslide down on the eighth district, burying it under the mountain. The resulting bluff is known as Castillo’s Catacomb, after the Spellmaster who outlawed the practice. Shops and houses usually reside on the gentle hills surrounding the campus, though mishaps with combustion spells and conjuration magic frequently cause them to be rebuilt.
The Belcarys Arcane Institute is fondly remembered by most of its students who come from all over the continent. However, a good portion of those who remain living there are usually from the Kingdom of Avesmorgen as its policies on magic are considered draconian by most casters. On the other hand, some gnomes from Oradove are experts at infusing magic into their inventions and benefit greatly from trading information with Belcarys.