Magnolia Sun School of Sorcery serves the Solaris Province. In the early history of the area, before contact with Europeans, magic was passed on through specific tribal teachings and inter-tribal councils where knowledge was shared. Magic was more overt and an integral part of daily life, even for tribe members who could not use it. After Spanish explorers arrived in the sixteenth century, the school, originally known as Hvtkē Hvse (Hut-key, Hush-uh) in the Muscogee language of the Seminole and Creek tribes, was begun by mages Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and Juan Ponce de Léon. Cabeza de Vaca was embedded with many native peoples along the southeast, and had direct contact with the Karankawa tribes on what the Spanish called Malhado, or the Island of Doom (modern day Galveston Island to Mundanes), inhabited by New World Magischola house founder Calisaylá’s specific tribe. Cabeza de Vaca originally ran the branch of the school there, while de Léon ran the branch in Hispaniola/Puerto Rico, with communication between the two through ritualized astral projections and summonings.
In 1635, after the Karankawa on Malhado were wiped out, the school was consolidated in the Florida Everglades under Seminole wizard Micanopy Holata and it retains an alligator mascot in his honor. In 1722, the school was moved to the boundary between the Creek and Cherokee nations, where Peachtree Creek meets the Chattahoochee River, in order to escape further contact with growing numbers of European colonists in Florida. This strategy worked for a century, until settlers arrived in the area that would become Atlanta in 1822. With the influx of colonial mages, the school was renamed Magnolia Sun, took its present form, and magical wards and protections were placed upon it to hide it from Mundanes. There it remained until 1864 (see below), when it became obscured by the powerful time- and distance-altering magic that it retains to this day. Now, without explanation or discernable sequence, the school rotates locations from Savannah, St. Augustine, Havana, San Juan, and Barbados. It has been known to visit Bimini, the home of the “Fountain of Youth” or Healing Hole, but only once per generation, with the current generational visit yet to come.
The stone school is nestled among cypresses and mangroves, covered with Spanish Moss and decorated with gargoyles, dragons, wyvern, peryton, sylph, and other winged creatures. It resembles a large mausoleum, with intricate wrought iron fencing and balustrades. Inside, it has a gilded baroque style that rivals Versailles, and it is rumored that some of the mirrors are portals to the spirit world. The central great hall is in the Seminole chickee architectural style, paying homage to the school’s beginnings. The school exists in both the land and the water, both saline and fresh, in a liminal state between past and future. It is a waystation on the journey to becoming a wizard, a bastion of knowledge and secrets that can be decoded by those willing to enter its halls. The school is shrouded in secrecy and fiercely protective of its traditions. It is rumored that the school’s current Principal, Demian Delaroche, is quasi-immortal, in that his interactions with the students, faculty, and staff occur across time. Students arrive at the school by Wyverns, either carried in a basket clutched in the Wyvern claws, or, depending upon one’s facility with the dangerous and unpredictable art of Wyvern wrangling, may ride upon the back or pilot a Wyvern to ferry other students in the basket.
Students at Magnolia Sun undergo an initiation where they are expected to confront an aspect of their own mortality and inevitable death. This is known as Près ki Mouri and can be through a merely coincidental near-death experience, or a confrontation with a ghost of another student or faculty member, or, because of the flexible state that the school occupies within time, a student witnessing their own advanced aging or even their own demise. No faculty member or student supervises or initiates this rite of passage; it is a mere consequence of being a student at the school. Its severity, duration, or timing is completely different from student to student. All that is known is that it will happen. Generally when least expected. Some say that the students do die, and then return to life. The school retains a Master Healer who specializes in summonings, artifacts, and hoodoo magic to assist students when this rite of passage occurs. A requirement after surviving this experience is to chronicle it in the school’s books, and the library is full of journals dating back to the school’s founding, some of them in the forbidden section.
Magnolia Sun’s signature movement and flirtation with time began in 1864, coinciding with General William Tecumseh Sherman’s burning of Atlanta and March to the Sea. While Sherman led the mundane Union armies in their quest to cripple the Confederates’ ability to feed their armies and transport goods, Dark Wizard Thanatos Akeldama, an entrenched Wizard from Mississippi, in an ironic twist of fate chose to cache himself with the Union army in pursuit of his grudge against Magnolia Sun Principal Parthena Cloudbourne. Akeldama, an Unsoiled Heritage purist and white supremacist, was angered at Cloudborne’s recent policy of admitting children of African slaves who exhibited magical powers, and of naming a West African Wizard to the faculty. Foiled in his attempts to take over the governance of the school, Akeldama vowed to destroy it. Using forbidden necromantic rituals, Akeldama reanimated the corpses of fallen soldiers and created an army of Revenants, which he controlled using various names of power. These Revenants relentlessly attacked the school in its original location outside of Atlanta, and were only narrowly repelled by a team of Magnolia Sun faculty and students, but not before Principal Cloudbourne herself, two faculty members, and four students were killed in the attack. This event, known as the Martyrdom of the Seven, led to the invoking of the time-magic and the movement of the school itself in order to protect the student body and escape Akeldama’s Revenant Army. Gathering corpses from the Union and Confederate battles and skirmishes, Akeldama and his army continued to pursue the school, now under the leadership of Moman Pengembara, as it slipped in and out of the present and journeyed to the Georgia Coast. It is believed that Sherman’s route on his March to the Sea was mapped out in part by Akeldama, in order to chase the school.
Eventually, Akeldama was undone partly by his own pride. At Savannah, with the Magnolia Sun school safely in a liminal zone, Akeldama was confronted by a group of Marshals assembled from Destiny, Mishipeshu, and Solaris and aided, strangely, by certain vampire clans who did not approve of Akeldama’s assaults on the dead. This battle was the first tested use of the Haitian Creole spell Insandigé, which proved particularly potent and powerful against the Revenants. Akeldama witnessed his army succumbing to the onslaught of fire and heat spells, and decided to give his name in a necromantic ritual, in an attempt to wrest more power and control. Instead, the spirit entities assumed power over him, and immediately destroyed him. With a great burst of flame and a roar heard as far north as Quebec, Akeldama vanished and the Revenants fell as corpses. Principal Pengambara put a series of wards and protections on the school, and — for the first time in the school’s history and an event that has never been replicated since — cancelled end of term exams.
Magnolia Sun students are divided into three regiments, each corresponding to an astrological positioning of time and distance. This selection process is done in the school’s circular great hall, by an enchanted telescope that is mounted to the side walls and accessible to the night sky when the chickee thatched roof is opened. A student sits in the chair beneath the telescope and peers through the lens. The telescope slowly rotates around the room until it stops in a particular position and delivers a specific right ascension, declination, and meridian, which determines their placement. While staring into the lens as the telescope makes its calculations, the students are shown movement across time and space, premonitions and memories, and some glimpse foreshadowing of their own Près ki Mouri.
- Celestial — Members of the Celestial Regiment, or Celsties tend to be compassionate and caring, valuing friendship, harmony, and balance among systems, creatures, families, and institutions. While studying the general Magnolia Sun curriculum, Celsties also focus on particular angles and intersections of knowledge to reveal new insights. Navigation beyond dead reckoning is a speciality, meaning both literal means of divining locations but also magical methods of auguration. Celsties tend to be preparing for further study in astromancy and cryptozoology, and use a variety of enchanted artifacts such as kamals, astrolabes, octants and sextants in complex rituals and calculations to make predictions, diagnoses, and prophecies. While there is a mathematical aspect of these tools, Celsties learn to use their honed empathic skills to sense or intuit magical energy and forces.
- Sidereal — Members of the Sidereal Regiment, or Dearies, are chosen primarily for their kinesthetic and creative abilities. Members are fleet of foot and quick of mind, often making great leaps of imagination as well as physical prowess. Keen-sighted — either mystical or physical abilities — Dearies also tend to possess extraordinary fine motor skills, which suits them in particular for the work of artificery and healing. They excel in divining, summoning, channeling, and manipulating liminal spaces, contradictions and discrepancies. They sometimes seem to be two places at once as they move seamlessly and effortlessly through mental and physical space. They have a penchant for power accumulation, though this often seems to occur without active attempts to gain it. Pengembara, Delaroche, and other masters of time magic were originally Dearies.
- Retrograde — Members of Retrograde Regiment, or Retros, are chosen for their logical and rational minds, facility with numbers and patterns, and ability to make calculations and judgments quickly and under pressure. While taking the general curriculum of the school, Retros in particular are groomed to become Cursebreakers or Marshals, with a focus on reconstruction of crime scenes and forensics, backward mapping of magical effects, including extra-planar manipulation, and spell engineering. Newer Retros are dabbling with mundane computational technology that they believe can be retrofitted or rehabilitated to be used for algorithmic data calculations that result in magical energy manipulation. They meet in secret, however, as this is not an official part of the curriculum.
There are many wealthy families in Solaris, and the school retains a tradition known as the Ring Dance, which takes place in the spring just prior to graduation. In a lavish affair, the school’s baroque hall is decorated with thousands of candles, and enchanted harps, lutes, and pianoforte play as each female student, dressed in an exquisite gown and wearing family jewels, descends the grand staircase on the arm of her father or designated family escort. Male students, dressed in their finest dress robes and wearing tokens of their family business and heritage, particularly expensive and rare magical artifacts, make their descent on the arm of their mother, who has been preparing for this day since her son’s birth. Each student’s name, heritage, family connections, regiment, accomplishments, and future plans is read aloud, to the admiration and applause of the provincial officials, faculty, and families. At the foot of the staircase, each student is presented with their Magnolia Sun class ring — if they have been able to pre-purchase it. For Mundane Born students, this event causes great consternation, since their families are not able to attend the exclusive affair. Often Mundane Born students are accompanied by a faculty mentor, or they pair up to accompany each other. Lately, Mundane Born alumni of the school return each spring to escort Mundane Born students, and a group has been formed to help these students obtain regalia and bijoux to at least make a passable presentation at the Dance. Students have experienced their Près ki Mouri at this event several times over the school’s history, with what appears to be a growing propensity to do so.
The Province Itself
There’s a certain sleepy and genteel charm to the Province, which has a long and varied history. The province has an air of mystery, with hidden mountain hollers and secret and meandering passages through swamps. It is believed that magical flora and fauna remain undiscovered in the area. Like in Destiny Province, Unsoiled Magical Heritage is considered superior by many, and some Unsoiled families are considered more superior than others. A long tradition of aristocratic heritage and conspicuous wealth resides in Solaris, and mages born into certain scion families have a notable legacy to continue and endure heavy familial pressure. The provincial government tends to be more conservative than the other provinces, with the prevailing attitude among Magimundi being one of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” New ideas are initially approached with a measure of caution, bordering on fear, and disbelief, bordering on disdain. New trends have to stick around long enough to receive more than a passing notice, and more than once the Council of Five has waited for the Solaris Justice to cast his vote with the other four Justices to allow a measure to pass. Arch Justice Archibald Snodgrass leverages his vote, often holding out for more than one session in order to wrangle additional concessions from magisters and business owners. He is seen as a fierce protector of tradition, and is most often at odds with Estrella Santa Maria of the Baja Province, leaving Mishipeshu Arch Justice Montgomery McBride and Thunderbird Arch Justice Fidelia Windwalker to try to broker agreement. One can find many grand and opulent homes belonging to wizard families who possess a lion’s share of Leeuwendaalders, and who host exquisite and exclusive parties for only the finest and most prestigious members of the Magimundi.
Though modern Solaris has a wide range of political opinions and community cultures, from the late 17th century through the early 20th century the province had a pervasive problem with institutionalized racism. Although the Magimundi never allowed slavery, the Mundane culture of the area informed the prevailing provincial attitude for much of this time period. As the province gained power, its Magisters became increasingly homogenous and almost universally comprised of Unsoiled Heritage or, at the very least, wizards from families whose lineage could be traced to known European lines. Both the mood and the official policies became less one of cooperation with the indigenous tribes and more one that systematically shut them out of power. This became further complicated by the Mundanes introducing enslaved Africans to the province. Vehement debates about whether magical intervention to end systematic oppression should be an exception to the Statute of Mundane Separation and Secrecy were held, with some wizards forming the secret society, the Fellowship of the Hydra, to covertly undermine mundane slave-owning practices and to assist slaves in their escape from cruelty. West African slaves brought their own magical traditions to the province. These competing magical practices were seen as troublesome by many of the old guard, who feared the marginalization or assimilation of their own magical culture. As a result of these fears, powerful Solaris Wizards were able to create the provincial law that mages of African heritage were not allowed to attend Magnolia Sun, thereby also shutting them out of advancement in the Magimundi economy or full participation in the provincial government. When Parthena Cloudbourne defied the province magisters and instituted an open admissions policy to the school in 1862, this led to the rise of Thanatos Akeldama, and the Martyrdom of the Seven (see above), and to the eventual change in provincial law that officially opened the doors of the school to all magic users in the province.
During the years of mundane slavery, the Solaris Magimundi also struggled with how to treat children of slaves who exhibited magical powers. Philanthropic organizations who search for youth who manifest magic among the Mundanes have long existed in North America. These Cinnabar Societies discover and mentor promising young mages born among the Mundanes, helping them recognize their powers and develop them through education, mentorship, and gifts of the Leeuwendaalders necessary to enter the Magimundi. However, the matter of youth of West African heritage born to mundane slaveowners was a tricky problem that created much conflict among Solaris Magimundi for over a century. Members of the Cinnabar Societies disagreed about how to handle them, some arguing that the Statute of Secrecy prohibited them from interfering, while others also felt that the Magimundi should respect the customs and culture of the Mundanes, which considered these children to be property of their white owners. Still others argued that inhumane and oppressive laws should be broken as a matter of social justice and civil disobedience, thus it was right and proper to subvert the mundane laws permitting slavery and to rescue enslaved children who manifested magic.
During these debates, a controversial splinter organization known as the Candicens Primoris sought out the children of slaves who exhibited magical powers, and negotiated them away from the slave-owners using a monetary exchange. This practice required the also-illegal exchange of Leeuwendaalders for mundane dollars and, as many pointed out, amounted to a purchase of a wizard, a tacit acceptance of slavery in the Magimundi. Arguing that their “purchase” was the only palatable way to obtain the young mage’s freedom and was done as an act of kindness, Candicens Primoris members offered magical training and protection that outwardly appeared to be an improved lot in life and was at first a palatable solution to the debates. In practice, however, the children “rescued” by the Candicens Primoris essentially traded one life of slavery for another of indentured servitude to a magical master. Many of these children were trained solely in illegal or dark magic, as a way for the white wizard to access its power without the risks associated with it. Publicly, the group continued to maintain its benevolence, and wizards appalled by their tactics gained little traction with provincial justices who felt they could not take sides on the issue. Justices were also being bribed or intimidated by Candicens Primoris members who offered “protection” from the dark magic they were perfecting, or who cut the officials in on the considerable black market profits they were making. Most Magimundi felt there was little they could do, and justified to themselves that the children were at least better off with Candicens Primoris than they were under mundane slavery.
In the mid-nineteenth century a group of West African Wizards known as the Busua (Boo-swah) began adopting magic users born into slavery, rescuing them from the hands of Candicens Primoris and training them at their own Wizard Training Facilities, known as Boafo Keteke (Bwa-fo Kuh-tek-uh, Akan language). A dark time of open persecution of the Busua began, with Candicens Primoris leader Luther Zebulon using trained dark mages to attack Busua members, notably with the Maljo (Evil Eye) curse, blood magic, and a powerful new killing curse. Some members of the Fellowship of the Hydra and the Solaris Cinnabar Society joined forces with the Busua to help them counter the Candicens Primoris, at great personal and professional risk. The province was bitterly divided, and Principal Parthena Cloudborne took the unprecedented bold step of admitting black mages to the school, in defiance of the provincial law. Her actions prompted most Unsoiled Heritage families to remove their children from the school, and private academies were set up to educate their youth. Some of these, notably schools for women from high-born families such as Philomena Finebottom’s Famous Finishing School, persist to this day. Once provincial officials enacted the practice of open admissions to Magnolia Sun in 1870, many families returned to the school, though the Hollingsworth Citadel for young mages and several of the Boafo Keteke were open until the 1970s, when another wave of reforms was instituted in the province. The curriculum of the Boafo Keteke is a part of Magnolia Sun, and the school imports a variety of flora and magical ingredients from Africa.
The province is home to many magical monsters, and students at Magnolia Sun must learn to craft gris-gris and other talismans to protect them from these nefarious creatures. For example, the Jiwa Setan manifests as a dark shadow that will fall upon you in at dusk or dawn. Should it pervade your protections, the Jiwa Setan will render you incapable of joy or laughter. Particularly in the rural areas, one risks the bite of a Kumcharangi, which causes a currently incurable condition known as Aphotic Bane. Wizards infected with the Bane slowly lose their sanity, ultimately ending their lives in an asylum. Master Healers can slow the progression of the disease, but have yet to cure it entirely, and wizards venturing into woods, swamps, bayous, and fields are advised to wear the proper runic and herbal protections, to travel in groups, and to have wands at the ready. With a distinctive high-pitched wail, somewhat between the banshee and the harpy, a Kumcharangi announces its presence and intent to feed. It is susceptible to fire spells, but only in high enough concentrations, usually from multiple wizards or a single extremely powerful one.
Wizards and magic users in Solaris Province have regular contact with other planes of existence, and many tend to specialize in magic that deals in summoning, banishing, obtaining information, or predicting and altering the course of the current bodily existence. Ghosts, spirits, and poltergeists regularly appear, and the shifting yet fertile soil of the coastal system seems to alter the ley lines under the province and periodically extra-planar beings belch forth from the mire as the earth energies seek to close the gap. Some dark wizards specialize in artificially engineering these faults in the ley lines in order to summon such beings, but these practices are strictly forbidden by one of the oldest Council of Five Edicts, and a Solaris Province law that predates it. While magic users are accustomed to contact with visitations from other planes, to actively attempt to disrupt the web connecting them merely to “see what happens” is viewed as reckless. This law originated in 1762 after dark wizard Gunnar Immuffati deliberately broke the ley lines running through the Ozarks and brought forth a contingent of semi-ethereal creatures in the shape of Manticores who terrorized the area for nearly 50 years before the last one was banished.
Solaris mages are also in regular contact with the Fae world, and since the reforms of the 1970’s, Faeries, Sprites, Pixies, Nunnehi, and Yunwi Tsunsdi can attend Magnolia Sun, though not without a measure of disdain from older, more traditional Unsoiled Heritage Families who believe that Primascholae are intended for human magic users only. The relationship with Fae creatures is tricky at best, and more than one Solaris mage has found themselves on the losing end of a deal with the Faeries. There are numerous fairystones found throughout the province, with a conglomeration of them in what is now southwest Virginia. These stones are used for bartering with the Fae and many contain magical residue, which may be reveal beneficence or malfeasance.
Of particular interest — or trouble, depending on your point of view — in the province are the Fairymaids, who are beautiful creatures with long lush hair, sometimes visible wings, and one tiny foot in the shape of a deer’s hoof. Like the Wila or Samodiva they are usually dressed in free-flowing gowns, and their garments are often decorated with feathers. Typically described as a tall, slender, blonde women with pale, glowing skin and fiery eyes, a Fairymaid may use her power to “turn” a man’s head and leave him quite demented. Attempts to document this effect have recently revealed that this power affects mages of all genders, not only men. They usually live near water, and Magnolia Sun’s proximity to water makes it an excellent place for Fairymaids to exist. It is known that a certain percentage of students at the school — often from the most prominent Unsoiled Heritage families are, in fact, Fairymaids who conceal their non-human traits. Also hidden among the Magnolia Sun population are members of the ancient tribes of Moon-Eyed People, pale, nocturnal, light-sensitive humans who usually live underground in caverns and caves and are known for their ability to craft (and animate) stone. Moon-Eyed People must use magical enchantments, potions, and various wards to be able to be out in the daytime. Even the light of a full moon can be toxic to them. Because of lingering discrimination and animosity stemming from the ancient wars between the Moon-Eyed People and the Cherokee Nation, students who are full or mixed Moon-Eyed tend to conceal their identities.
Solaris Province is also home to large contingents of undead. Hidden communities of vampires can be found, particularly in the Louisiana and Alabama bayous, the Savannah and South Florida swamps, in Morts-vivants, a colony on the island known as Dominican Republic, and a wealthy urban vampire clan that is harbored in Miami. Wizards in Solaris have negotiated a mutual-benefit relationship with the vampire brethren, as both groups seek to remain hidden from the mundane eyes. This relationship is an improvement over the contentious one of the 19th century, when Solaris wizards waged battle with Solaris vampires over the killing of escaped African humans who had been enslaved by the Mundanes. Vampires preyed upon runaway slaves, viewing them as easy and accessible targets for their hunger and a way to more openly feed without consequence from Mundanes. Many Solaris wizards, on the other hand, were in favor of at least tacitly aiding slaves while still abiding by the letter of the Magimundi Statute of Mundane Separation and Secrecy.
Some Wizards in Solaris specialize in a special wandless spell known as the Maljo or “Evil Eye,” which, when successfully cast, causes deep and near continual anxiety, discomfort, hardship, and illness to befall the affected target. The technique appears to be exceptionally difficult to teach. People usually discover it from reading ancient tomes, or upon recovering from having it cast upon them discover that they can now cast it themselves. Many mages wear bracelets or anklets made of Jumbie beads, fashioned from the dried seeds of a certain juniper bush, to ward off the effects of the Maljo curse.
Solaris is also home to Papa Bois, a forest dwelling magical entity who protects all of the animals that live there. He gets animals out of snares and treats sick animals. Some believe he is a Seminole Cryptozoologist who predates Virginia Dare, and has protected the area for nearly 1000 years. He is described as a very hairy, animal-like old man dressed in a pair of ragged trousers with a horn hanging from his belt. Papa Bois can turn himself into a large stag or another animal to observe hunters unnoticed. Usually very kind, Papa Bois can be dangerous when crossed, and he has been known to cast a spell on a poaching or cruel hunter, turning him into a wild hog. As wild hogs proliferate throughout Georgia and Florida, many in the Magimundi believe that this is Papa Bois enacting justice on greedy wizards and mundanes alike. You’ll also find Soucriants (Boo Hags), Jackalantan, Stoneclads, and a host of other magical creatures and entities.
Modern Magimundi in Solaris officially believe that their world is free from the social and economic inequality still experienced by mundane humans in the area. However, prejudice, bigotry, and paternalism still exist as do covert practices that continue to privilege wizards from European descent. It is even believed that there are underground groups of Akeldama supporters who meet in private and consider him to be a hero. As in the mundane world, prejudice is not relegated to only a few evildoers; rather it manifests in small, pervasive, and insidious ways, even while the Magimundi insist they have a meritocracy. Culture clashes among wizards of European lineage claiming heritage, preservation and tradition still occur as wizards of indigenous or West African lineage remind them of the oppressive nature of that heritage and history. A growing group of unified wizards and magic users, Omnes Magica, with chapters all across the province, has made great strides at fostering dialogue and bringing together wizards from all magical backgrounds and lineages. Omnes Magica was instrumental in getting the province justices to officially apologize for past atrocities, including the practices of Candicens Primoris, and in getting the Martyrdom of the Seven commemorated. For some, however, the distinction of being Unsoiled, Mundane or Mixed magical heritage has taken on increased importance as the relevance of one’s ethnic background has become less likely to create an advantage or disadvantage.
Optional Cliques: Goths, Temporal Tamperers, Survivalists/Hunters, Debutantes, Pirates, Wyvern Riders, Vampire Hunters, Activists