Less than a day’s travel from the Palace Sublime lies the Cloister of Wisdom, one of the four officially recognized secondary academies. The Cloister is sponsored by the Immaculate Order, whose goal is to teach students to be proper Dragon-Blooded in the eyes of the Immaculate Dragons. Those outside of Dragon-Blooded society assume that those who attend the Cloister end up joining the Immaculate Order. In actuality, only a relatively small percentage ever wind up doing so.
Many in Dragon-Blooded society—including such luminaries as Cathak Cainan, the head of House Cathak—attended the Cloister. These Dragon-Blooded have no common destination after the Cloister, but wherever they end up, they bring with them a solid grounding in Immaculate morals and ethics, a firm grasp of the Immaculate Texts and a clear understanding of their duty as the Princes of the Earth.
The Cloister of Wisdom prides itself in turning out students who are many things: devout, clear-thinking, innovative and adept in combat. The techniques perfected by the Immaculate Order in the training of its monks were adapted for the purposes of the Cloister.
- The dominie of the Cloister of Wisdom is the lama Repentant Blossom of Winter, a powerful Air-aspected Immaculate and sorceress several centuries old, with snowwhite eyebrows beneath a finely shaven pate and a serene countenance. Repentant Blossom has mastered both Air and Earth Dragon martial arts Styles, knows up to the Form Charm of Water Dragon Style, and a smattering of Terrestrial styles. She is rarely seen on the grounds, for her time is usually taken up in expanding the education of those the Cloister employs as teachers. Part of their payment for teaching at the Cloister is the privilege of learning at her feet. Some of these teachers include:
- Responsible for lessons of ethical statecraft and politics, Mnemon Araha is the daughter of Mnemon herself. A potent Earth-aspected Dragon-Blood, Araha fully supports her mother’s aspirations, though acknowledges this support must not taint her role as a teacher.
- Claiming to be an outcaste who grew up in the Scavenger Lands, Hitayasha is actually Iselsi Hitayasha. In addition to the lessons in herbalism and healing for which she is known, Hitayasha also recruits for the All-Seeing Eye, a fact Repentant Blossom is aware of and supports. Hitayasha is careful to keep her familial ties secret, though she believes Mnemon Araha suspects.
- famous poet and historian Silk Tide is not a Dragon-Blood. In his youth, he toured the Blessed Isle, performing his epic historical poetic works for the Great Houses, who vied to be his sole patron. He always made clear his loyalty was to the Scarlet Empire as a whole, a stance that found him favor with the Scarlet Empress. When he performed for her, Repentant Blossom was in court, afterward, she invited him to take up a teaching post at the Cloister of Wisdom when he wearied of travel. Rumor has he and Repentant Blossom are lovers, but the truth is almost more intimate than that. She has taught him to awaken his mortal Essence through the use of martial arts.
STUDENT LIFE Edit
Students sleep in large, same-sex dormitories, separated by years. accommodations are quite plain—the students sleep on bamboo mats—and the food is nutritious but simple. Students rise with the sun to perform devotions and spend the rest of the day in study and meditation. Each student is responsible for knowing what areas he is weakest in. Students are also responsible for seeking out those masters who can help them improve themselves. No master keeps track of a student’s progress, so it falls to the student to strengthen himself through study and practice. The core of education here is broad: There are many masters with many talents, from religious training to combat tactics and from mathematics and engineering to social interaction and proper etiquette.
But there are three categories in which all must excel. First and foremost, all students must demonstrate mastery of their minds by learning the techniques of meditation. Secondly, students must master their bodies through the martial arts.
Lastly, students must prove their mastery of spirit by learning Charms and the manipulation of their personal Essence.
Students of the first year spend time working on nothing but those three areas. When he shows suffi cient mastery, a student may seek out other masters to learn from them.
There are no set schedules that students must follow. masters of given subjects simply make it known they will be in a given place at a given time, those who show up will learn what they have to teach. Each year, a student is expected to seek out the masters teaching the things he desires to learn and beg those masters to be allowed to come to their classes.
Unlike other academies, the Cloister of Wisdom does not permit a student to remain for more than seven years. Students are expected to be serious and learn as much as they can. The masters constantly drill into their students the fact that they have only seven years to learn all the Cloister of Wisdom has to offer. Once that time is over, it is done.
This does not mean that classes are easy. A student who does not excel in a master’s class will be removed from it, banished and told to never return. A master who banishes a student will never accept that student into one of his classes. The masters also keep track of how many classes students are taking and adjust daily chore schedules appropriately. A lazy student who does not take many classes, or finds himself banished from classes, often finds he has the hardest backbreaking labor.
The masters are clear in this. Those who do not work to enlighten themselves and gain knowledge will quickly wish they were given the privilege to do so once more.
Students who live at the Cloister of Wisdom are expected to adhere to at least the First Coil living requirements of Immaculate monks. Occasional slips are expected, but these should be spontaneous. Deliberately planning to break those requirements or worse, aiding others in doing so, is cause for punishment (usually in the form of additional chores).
Chores here are onerous and exceedingly menial. Students daily sand and oil the wood floors on every level of every building, tend gardens on the grounds, prepare food, and mend clothing. Those who excel in their studies, especially in their later years, are often given chores that lead to higher education, such as assignments to copy parts of the Immaculate Texts.
The Cloister of Wisdom is a compound without walls or even true defenses. It is located in a valley in Incas Prefecture, with the easternmost of the surrounding hills ending suddenly in a cliff that overlooks the sea. The passage that leads down into the valley crosses a stream with a small footbridge over it. An arch depicting the five Elemental Dragons spans the steps up to the bridge, and a small sign next to the arch requests that visitors use the stone basin of salt water to ritually cleanse themselves before crossing the bridge.
There are three primary buildings here:
- The Cloister Temple houses not only a large temple to the Immaculate Dragons, but a large library and lecture halls, as well as quiet study and meditation cells, meant for only one person at a time.
- The Hall of Masters houses the masters of the Cloister, with its ground floor serving as a large dining hall for both masters and students.
- The Garden Hall is a large building that completely encircles a beautiful sand garden. The Hall has a wide variety of classrooms and lecture halls, and a strictly enforced policy of utter silence in the meditation garden, which has space for seated meditation as well as ample room for the performance of katas.
Scattered around the beautifully landscaped grounds are the five Young Dragon Halls, where students live. Each hall houses up to 25 students (up to the school’s maximum enrollment of 125), but they are not always filled. Each of the Young Dragon Halls is designed in a style that honors one of the Immaculate Dragons, with a meditation garden in the middle of the hall, open to the elements.
Each of these dormitories, where students sleep five to a room on bamboo mats, has a garden that the students within that given hall are expected to help tend. There are no offi cial schedules or times for these chores—students are expected to simply honor their responsibility. Practically speaking, fi rst year students are taken under the wing of older students and taught how to care for the garden of that hall.
Generally speaking, a system tends to evolve where one of the older students takes on the responsibility of caring for his hall’s garden and requests help from his dorm-mates. Those few who shirk these requests generally receive discipline at the hands of the older student, often through duels.
The Cloister of Wisdom, like the Palace Sublime, has no defenses. There are no walls, The arch at its opening has no gate, and the bridge that spans the shallow stream is a courtesy only.
The Cloister could be easily destroyed by anyone with a mind to do so. There is, however, the Exalted within the Cloister. If, someone chose to attack the Cloister, she would still find herself up against some of the most competent martial artists in the Realm. Moreover, the Cloister lies only a half-day from the Palace Sublime, home to four of the Immaculate Paragons, the most powerful Essence-wielding Dragon-Bloods in all Creation, to say nothing of headquarters for the Sidereal secret masters of the Order.