The histories of the magics of the world speak firmly to a time before the fall of the mighty Nexus from the heavens and the rise of Sourcery. A time when rituals and blood druids ruled the land and the Spirits of the Wyld were free from the tyranny of the Tao. However those times passed when the Comet came and we are told that four new breeds of magic were given to the world. Each one we are told sprang from the power of Source but we have never been sure. There are echoes in the memory of the Astral that stretch back to the chanting of the Blood Druids of the Skagriagaard and pockets of thought that hark to a land without Eaölfs and Kuldisar. When our magics came to power we were not trained as Priests or Incanters we were trained as Bakers and Farmers and to this day it is out opinion that the magic did not come to us from the same place as these others but from either us, ourselves or from a connection that we have to the deep, deep Astral.
Whatever the truth of those few of us that existed before the Comet and shortly afterwards, when we were born into the world the few of us that there were began to seek each other out. We taught each other, nurtured each other and over the course of the following years we learnt the power that has carried us to the now.
The power of the mind, Psionics, the clairvoyance, the telekinetic; all of these are found within the walls of the institute. The awakening of the mind amongst the mortal races of Vaklam first began to happen several hundred years ago. Initially the power was difficult to control and manifested in various dangerous ways, causing the initial fuel of panic throughout the populaces of the world. Untamed bursts of Psionic power caused spates of deaths and other gruesome happenings as early Psionicists grew in number. With no-one to train them they began to attempt to train themselves with varying degrees of success; those that are now called ascendants were the most powerful and quickly took a hold of their burgeoning powers and began to use them. Sadly, for the main, they were happier to use their powers to manipulate and control events around them; this led to the roots of the mistrust and hatred of our powers and to the stranglehold that the Colleges and Clergy have upon the political world of magical power in our realm today.
After the age of the ascendants and the damage that they had done the powers of those that could manipulate their environment and themselves without an obvious use of powers were ostracised and openly abused in public. It was decided among those that had learnt to control their inner being that a place of solitude and safety should be constructed where those that had mastered, to some degree, the path could teach others. The Institute of contemplation won many accolades from various corners of the Royal Basin, specifically the Church of Yarrianne, The renowned adventurers and the Academy of Bold Companions. Through such sponsorship they have flourished into a powerful yet understated community.
The Academy has weathered the storms over the years and has stepped up to the line, examined it and walked across it. They have been willing to battle against the enemies of the Royal Basin regardless of the ill feeling towards them from the small folk and various guilds. Many would consider this to come from a self preservationist point of view but we would disagree. Any guild that has sworn itself to the King, as we have, should consider these words as iron; other guilds have led by example we should do not less. There are thousands of potential psionicists in the world itself and hundreds that are already within guilds unaware of their potential. It is part of the duty that we have sworn to bring them together under the guild banner and train them to use their powers well. To do this we must set an example that will attract them to us despite our previous reputation.
This was the most difficult time for those whose burgeoning power was manifesting; it is mentioned in the histories as occurring around the time of 20PC and 250PC and is an age that is unique to our kind. The natural link that formed between or people in the Astral had a habit of bringing psionicists of that age together but magic of that time was treated differently from the conventionalism that it receives now. Sourcery was the power of the age and when it manifested differently it was persecuted. In order to protect themselves from the Ministers of that age and ages later the seers of that time choose to meet in secret, away from the congregationals of the Basanic folk and the civilisation that these were dawning. This may have been the mistake that led to the persecution that followed but to them it seemed that the only way to guarantee their safety was to be hidden. So they came together, in secret, far from civilisation, using their basic skills to hide themselves from view and together, began to train.
These first meetings were called Unions, rather than Circles as they are called now, as they relied on the most powerful mind making a union of all present in that one. The powers were turned to affecting not only the psionicists in the union but also the world around them, mastering the basic skills of levitation and telekinesis. The Unions began to communicate with each other over vast distances, some say that we were tapping into dormant lines of power that supersede even the Ley Lines themselves. These allowed us to come together in one great mind, sharing thoughts and experiences, training each other and guiding the paths that we shared. However this was to be the beginning of the end for those Unions and the dawn of a difficult day for our people. The Unions gave rise to the Haruspex, the most powerful minds that controlled the them, from one of those came the most powerful, an entity called Macline. Macline came to effectively control the paths of all and almost spell the end of the Psionic paths.
Macline was a mad man: Little remains in record after the Age of Ignorance struck the world as a whole but the eddies in the Astral remember him. He seemed to channel the inner darkness of each of us, drawing strength from it and empowering Macline and an inner circle that he had gathered. The names of those that followed him are not recorded but it is certain that they attempted to control towns and villages, bending them to their will. These groupings became known to the people as Covens and the Psionicists as Witches. The rise of their power took place well after the power of the Gods rose with the Covens using the unsuspecting Unions as shields between them and the people. The growing leadership of the lands began to uncover these small bastions of psionic power and the evil that was growing in them and they retaliated. It was a time of absolute horror.
There are documents that still exist within what are now the Halls of Ekimelahw that speak of Ministers that were appointed to hunt the Psionicists, witches as they called them then. We have been given access to them as they are and here we find some truths.
The village of Errensburg burns in the night but it was the only way to be sure. The Ministers are still there though I will not speak to them nor stand in their presence, they seem to draw more pleasure from this than a sense of justice. We came here because the people of Tarialor reported a number of their younger folk had been taken, strode away in the night only to be discovered here in Errensburg, Yet when questioned they seemed happy with their migration and content to work, as they had been put, by the head folk of the township. Scrabbling in the underdark searching for gems they claimed were for wealth but, in truth, harboured a darker secret. When we arrived we immediately sensed something wrong, for not all were intoxicated by the witches touch and as such had their thoughts as their own, remembering the days of their lives.
Investigation told us that a group, a coven as seems now, had arrived some months earlier and that their leader, Helve, had taken up residence with the Lord of Errensburg; Durinithy Way. Since that time many villages altered their routines and lives dramatically and many of the local maidens had made their way to the Lords house to offer hospitalities unspeakable to Helve and his men. In conference with the locals unaffected by Helve we learned of the duplicity of the Witch and took action. Those under the control of the Witches were taken to the town square along with Helve and his people under the power of the Ministers. Here they were tried and the Coven put to death, yet as they screamed in fire so their minds leapt to the bodies of others who took up arms against us, speaking in distant voices. The Ministers have surrounded the town to cleanse it in flame, even those that were not touched at first by the Coven are burnt there and the power of Helve will be dealt with.
So the power of the Witches of Maqcleine will be opposed and the will of Ekimelahw be done upon the land.
In the end the Inquisition bought a finality to the plans of Macline and nearly destroyed the Order that flourishes today. There is still much history unrecorded of this period and one day we may well end up knowing the truth of all things.
The Unions were broken up in much of the psionic backlash that occurred in the persecutions of the Ministers. However the era under Macline had brought us to the discovery of Variscite and the eventual use of it alongside Goshenite and Axinite. Some theorise that the darkness within Variscite that we find today, the corruption, is due to that backlash when Macline and his followers were killed and the worst of all us was spread into the world. Some of our number had come away from those years with fragments of Variscite and a sense of self preservation that would lead them to hide away from society and any ideas of Unions or Covens for quite some time. However by far and away the most important lesson that they learned was about the balance and harmony of their minds and how an overly emotional state can be damaging to not only themselves but the astral web that joined them all in the great circle.
In the days before pure Variscite was available to the community as a whole the concerns over passions and emotions became the only reason that Clairvoyants and Seers would meet together. In the days of old, around the tenth century it is believed, we took to gathering in mines where the crystals that we would come to rely upon, grew. Many suppose that we were, again, drawn there by them, again a result of the Astral Web perhaps that keeps us linked together. Here, we would, in unison, expel our corruptive thoughts and concentrate on the positive, the calm, the disciplines that unleash our talents. What we called “The White” would fill these caverns, slowly spread away by the power of the gems below the Earth. This practice has been replaced by newer meditations now and the expulsion of the White is no longer practiced this was our first step along the right path to a functional existence. Some of the more obscure tales speak of the White allowing paths into the darker Astral to be opened but there is no evidence of such happenings.
Slowly and from behind the scenes the tiny pockets of our people began to push a new world in a different direction. War had taken the world and the people were acceptance of many heroes, some of the famous, the few who made the difference practiced some basic arts of Psionics; Duke Dazak North and the Lady Glia Felice from the Priesthood but more so there was one of us among the elite, a noble traveller called Barak Zahr who had trained his mind and was accepted by the Daemonic Covenant. Here was a man that stood against the Daemonfoe and the Undead; it was people like this that began the change. Allowing people to understand who and what we were and to begin the practice of mining the crystal that we would need to one day become a power in our own right. These were the changes that shaped a future in which we found our sponsorship when one of the most powerful of our people approached the College of Controlling Power. That person was Christine Rivers.
For all time our past and future is likely to be tied to the College. The exact nature of the transactions and conversations that took place between Christine Rivers and Quinn Shadowreaver in the early days of Eighteen Thirty Two led to full sponsorship by the Colleges and the creation of the first Institute of Contemplation. Since that day we have gone forward in a very precise way. One institute in all the land, where the people will come and we will train them, throughout the other guild we will teach our knowledge but it will be moderated and the future of each mind shall not be mapped by the attitudes and corruptions of their passions. And the promise, that was prepared with the knowledge of those that had been responsible for controlling power for thousands of years to which we adhere that allows us our right as Guildsfolk to practice. After the Destruction of the first guild building the power was split in twain - One guild building in two places.
We are recent additions to the Royal Basin who have yet to find our way and our purpose in the scheme of things. There are hundreds like us in the Duchies of the land who have yet to fully understand and realise their potential. It is our duty to find these individuals and to teach them to be of benefit to the Royal Basin; they have given us their support and it is our duty to act within the parameters of their rules and their ethics, to protect them from those of us who have not had the training as we have and who could do them harm. The power that wield comes from a place of tranquillity and calm and whilst these are not messages that we teach as Tao they are what is required to master the arts that we perform. We must understand that our power must remain governed by the mind and not the heart, by our teachings and not our fables and by our meditations not some distant divine guidance.
The mind is a personal place wherein the thoughts of a being are born. These thoughts govern the action of the body in which that mind dwells for such a short time. The balance of the mind allows the thoughts that are right to prosper in the soil of the mind and those that are morally ambiguous to fall into the scorched earth of memory. Those ambiguous thoughts are not ones that are chosen but they remain there as untaken choices and when uncovered cause each of us guilt. Whether they are withholding food from the hungry or murder for greed they are not acted upon. It is our responsibility, when we enter the minds of others, to never judge based on what we see, never stir the passions of an individual one way or the other and to allow the individual to thrive.
The Institute has no higher, magical governing body such as the Colleges or the Churches and as such it requires a higher policy than simply a code that belongs to the senior members above the tenth rank to whom all others will show deference. The pledge outlines their duties that stand alongside the Code:
When a potential candidate for membership first comes to The Institute of Contemplation they travel the prospective Ways that will cover their training and also teach them the ethos that will lead them through the coming years. Each Way is dedicated to one of the four fields of the Institute: Universal, Conceptual, Corporeal and Perception. The Ways each have their own dedicated wings that are often teeming with students and masters alike. Whilst privacy is physically a very difficult thing to achieve within a Way Chapter House mentally each member is attuned to the task that they have at hand and in reality the world becomes a much smaller place. When the tour is over the initiate must make their choice and begin the teachings of that Way.
The Universal Path is the way to all others and many consider that this is the simplest to master. There is more to the art than the simple meditative stances.
The Open Gate floods the Mind with potential
The Kayreoraz offers simple training in the meditative arts that allow greater access to ones potential before moving onto what will become your major area of expertise. It concentrates on bringing forward the calm of the mind and forcing our mind into the Astral, seeking new ways of improvement. It proves popular among those who begin their path lacking confidence in their own ability or seeking something beyond the confines of their own mind.
The following symbol is worn on a band around the right arm
Mastery of the mind leads to mastery of the body and those that follow this way master the path that builds a bridge between both.
A Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body
The Beshdeurdis provides training in the long physical meditations that build the body to levels of perfection and at the same time separate the mind from such conceptual need for exercise. Training the mind to enhance the physical aspects of body through the alteration of the physical make-up of the self. The Beshdeurdis make up the majority of those psionicists that make their way into the field and take on board combat situations. However they are, equally, those that climb mountains, compete in athletic competitions and swim great lakes to satisfy the efforts of the challenges that they put themselves through.
The following symbol is worn on a band around the right arm
By tapping into the heart of the Astral the student is able to sense and utilise eddies of the Astral that dip into the future, the past and the Deep Astral.
The Secrets of the Future are guarded by the lessons of the Past
The Talpheray spend much time in deep, deep meditation, training their minds to find the pockets of power in the Astral that a mortal mind can interact with. The Talpheray specialise in seeking the links between all things calling forth hidden memories from the Astral Realm, sharing the power of warriors long dead, sages far distant and the actions of Kings yet to be born. Through these skills they make their art and use their power to strengthen their own will, knowledge, skills and abilities often to confound and confuse their enemies and enhance the powers and efforts of those around them.
The following symbol is worn on a band around the right arm
Spreading the gifts of the Astral to ranged beyond the physical form and out into the world around them the student of the Orifarakail becomes Transindentally aware.
The mind is quicker than the hand which is quicker than the eye.
The Orifarakail have learnt to extend their psychic aura out beyond their body and into the world around them allowing them a unique insight into their environment. To close ones eyes and see all, to shut out all outside interference and hear the sounds or the world coming from distant glades and woodlands. To feel the slight change in the psychic aura as the spoken word becomes a spoken lie, to feel the past of an object and understand the words of any language, yet to be spoken or long dead in the world. These are the ways of the Orifarakail.
The following symbol is worn on a band around the right arm
The Institute trains us in as many abilities as are necessary to assist the Royal Basin in the struggle to keep its institutes functional and its borders well defended. Members of the Institute are still, technically, forbidden to gather in groups of their own making and as such are encouraged to fill different roles in society. Warriors, politicians, leaders, servants; all and more are positions that we are taught to hold and fulfil. However it is also our role to return each year to the guild to join with the Great Circle and leave our experiences for all to learn and to understand.
We are not an old institute but we have our traditions; these are largely represented in the meditations that we master to keep our balance between the dark and the light of ourselves intact. However there is one powerful ceremony that we call the Great Circle that we all take part in:
When the Institution was granted right by Quinn Shadowreaver and the College of Controlling Power, Shadowreaver College passed to the Institute a huge and pure piece of Variscite called the Circle. Each month of each year members of the institute that have been away from the Institute return in number and join around the Great Circle. through meditation that can last up to three weeks in the examples of the more experienced, the knowledge of the individual is drawn into the Crystal that it may be drawn into the Greater Astral and absorbed by other members at a later time.
The original Halls of the Mind building was built in St Mundensburg in the Northern quarter of The Bitter Vale. The building contained the largest and most powerful crystal chamber; where psionicists meditate, learn new talents and plumb the deep astral ever created was built. Tragically the city of St Mundensburg was completely destroyed in 2005 by the machinations of a mysterious group called the Conclave who are rumoured to be a group of powerful merchants and high up Guild Members. Despite the psionicists best efforts to defend the city the Conclave had manipulated the power of the Lords of the Oriental Hells into the use of one of their coins.
In 2006 the Halls of the Mind were renamed the Institute of Contemplation and received a massive donation from the CoCP: The Tremik Crystal. The Tremik Crystal is the purest piece of Variscite that has been discovered so far and one that has been used by powerful psionicists for over two hundred years. As such it is incredibly attuned to the Astral and resonates with Diotheric power with an oscillation of .32 degrees. The Crystal was carefully cut in twain; one half placed within the newly built institutes in Haven and Shriekspire. The two buildings are now closely linked, transport and communication between the two of them for example is said to be instantaneous and unbreakable.
The badge of the guild is three horizontal, parallel white lines on deep blue background and is expected to be worn at all times
Christine Rivers is the archetype of what she believes a psionicist of the Institute should be. She has been the Guild Head since the inception of the building in 1832 when it was the Halls of the Mind. She was discovered in 1749 at the age of twelve in the village of Delve in the Western Marches; her mind pouring out the wealth of innate talent that she still possess to this day. It is whispered that she was approached by an unidentified psionicist, perhaps even a cabal of psionicists who prepared her for the path that she walks now. However she gained control over her power she vanished a few weeks before her thirteenth birthday and did not return to the Royal Basin for seven years. On her return the twenty year old made her way directly to the College of Controlling Power and spent two further weeks closeted away with Quinn Shadowreaver.
She emerged with the funding for the first Halls of the Mind and a charter that allowed her to seek out potential psionicists and offer them a place at her Guild. Since then she has set the example to the guild; remaining the epitome of loyalty to the Royal Basin, specifically she has shown a great deal of support for the College of Controlling Power. She is brave, intelligent and wise and always has time for the members of the Institute who are having trouble coming to terms with their powers and their place in society. As to her extreme longevity; many point to her mastery over the physical arts others wonder still where she vanished to for seven years of her youth.
Dazkial Tripps was born in 1722 to parents who themselves were gifted with the Astral somewhere in what is now called the Mordell Wastes. He was a slow developer who did not grasp the true power that was at his disposal but instead revelled in the stories that his parents had told him of their persecution at the hands of the Ministers. He took it upon himself to ensure that the psionic populace did not find themselves in the same situation as his parents and the generations before him. His knowledge and his campaigning bought him to the attention of Guild officials and it was soon discovered that he had a talent that was crying out to be developed. He was soon installed as the Guilds Lore Master and record keeper with his parents passed on knowledge giving him unique insight into the Astral and the past of the psionicists as a people.
In the last few years the guild has grown in size and stature and Rivers has turned to the guild to provide her with a second in command. The ever approachable and enthusiastic Tripps was the most obvious choice and he has bought a new dimension to the running and control of the Institute. Greatly respected there is no doubt that should he choose to be he could raise to equal standing to Christine but he shows no desire for such greatness.