What Nyix and Scout learn:
Topic/ relevant skillcheck: Info.
Scout: Leona’s reports. (9) Leona is the staff member hired by the Spiral Tower Archives (or STA) to investigate reports of magic outside the city of Alden. She is currently traveling, but is expected back into Alden in a matter of days (or several weeks.) (The nature of her work makes her difficult to track. The librarian informs Scout that, “Regrettably, the records of Ms. Leona are not accessible to the public without a pass from Master Archivist Willamber.”
Negotiations/diplomacy with the faeries: (15). There’s not much information on this, despite the Spiral Tower’s continuing efforts to gain access to any leaked information about faerie magic, whether magic is still functioning in Arcadia, etc. If the Spiral Tower knows the answer to any of these questions, they aren’t saying. In fact, between Scout and Nyix, it seems like the most important information regarding diplomacy with the faeries is how little information the Spiral Tower has publicly available about this. Negotiations seem to be on-going, seem to take place somewhat regularly, and seem to be the topic of much discussion, rumor-mongering, and bewilderment. One letter from a Priman diplomat mentions that the faeries seem to come to the official meetings and formal events with not only an ever-rotating cast of diplomats, but also with a seemingly-rotating culture and style. Each group will be different from the last in terms of enthusiasm for the process, what offends them, stated goals and interests, and the like. None of them is very forthcoming about any information pertaining to Faerie, except for occasional discussions of trade goods needed.
The Fountain in the Plaza of Langan: (34)
This fountain is on some of the oldest maps of Alden, which is to say Alden as it was when it was the Holy City of Nerath. Nyix’s Ancient Nerathian isn’t super, but he’s able to decipher a few things about this ancient incarnation of Alden. Basically, the city was divided into equal thirds, split by the same roads that have become the existing primary thoroughfares through the city. (They divided/divide the city at roughly 12, 8, and 4 o’clock, if the city were the face of a clock. Not that the Primans have clocks…) The northeast third of the city was referred to as something like the “Trees and Paths District.” The southern part of the city (nearest the harbor, though it seems by these maps that the harbor was farther out in those days) was called something like the “Set-aside District”, and the northwestern third is labeled something like the “Tomb District.” The fountain in question is just inside the ‘Set-aside’ (or whatever) district. It’s got a Nerathian name- something like T’chlarach. From contextual clues on the maps, and from descriptions of the ancient districts, Nyix infers that the very worn statues nearby the fountain were either minor Nerathian gods or dead heroes. (This seems to be a fine line in Nerathian culture, anyway.)
Rimesorrow and Blackthorn:
Minor mentions of Blackthorne the noble and soldier. Nyix’s investigation into the axe itself turns up a couple of curious things. There are several catalogs in the library that are basically attempts at creating dichotomous keys of magical items. They are ridiculous, both in their detail, and in the large number of footnotes wherein successive generations of scholars mock previous generations’ obviously wrong-headed ideas about how to do this.
The axe, Rimesorrow, is not itself present in any of these records. (Not that Nyix finds in a day, anyway…) However, there are some… similarly-ornamented pieces that begin showing up primarily in the post-Faerie war era of cataloguing. Spiral Tower scholars are at something of a loss to identify the origin of these- some argue for Ancient Nerath, or some artisans copying certain trademarks of Nerathian armsmithing. Others argue for duergar. Nobody can read the runes. The drawings of these items (only a handful are catalogued, all of which were either “found” during the faerie war or recovered after) are hasty, as if they were valuable or rare enough to only be available for brief study. The “Gray Runes” style, as it is called for one of its distinctive markers, reminds Nyix a bit of the device that currently resides in Grav’s shoulders.
Historical maps vs. current maps:
28: Most of what Nyix learns is described above. However, he does find out that there is something of a taboo against carrying and drawing maps of the current City of Alden. This seems to be a remnant of security precautions during and after the Faerie war. This doesn’t actually make it that much more challenging to get around, but it is an interesting cultural insight.
Parliament of Worlds: 32:
The recent activity at the Parliament of Worlds is the aformentioned talks between Faerie and Prima. The Parliament of Worlds was just called ‘The Central Hall’ before the Faerie War. It is at least as old as the Late Nerathian empire, let’s say six or seven hundred years ago. For most of those centuries, according to these reports, only one door was open, and the Kings of Nerath allegedly used it as a grand audience hall. It was picked up by later governments, now and then, and was often used by whatever noble-ish functionaries currently controlled Alden. The opening of the “Second Door” is considered the transition from the shadow Faerie War into the open Faerie War. (The first phase of the Faerie War involved infiltration and charming of leaders, political and otherwise.)
Addendum to the ‘Parliament of Worlds’: There is a third door, and Spiral Towers scholars seemed to bicker about it, every couple of generations. They were almost always wrong about the second door, too, before it opened. Basically, the theories about the doors often followed whatever the contemporary theories on the nature of magic itself was: one went to some divine realm, where the gods lived, one went to the source of arcane magic. Or, one was from the world of fire, one from the world of water. Or, one gate was for the righteous, and one for the unrighteous. The argument about the third door continued after the Faerie War, with more terror behind it, but with no more actual evidence… One scholar pointed out, and others reluctantly agreed with her, that “it would be just like the faeries” to have two doors in the same room that both lead to Faerie.
Remaining Magic: (29): Not much to say here, really. There are occasional rumors, usually well outside the city of Alden. The rumors that have arisen in Alden are all almost immediately investigated and shown to frauds or elaborate cons. [Imagine Harry Houdini in his later careers, going around harassing fake psychics and mediums.] Occasionally, Spiral Tower scribes wax eloquent about the pursuit of magic, as if it is some platonic form, all the nobler a quest because its object may be ultimately unobtainable. Occasionally someone will argue about whether there is magic still in Faerie, and whether the Primans should mount an expedition to either see if magic exists there or to try to go and get some, and bring it back to Faerie. Much is made of any small scrap of evidence: why do prayers to the gods still have magic-like effects? Why do enchanted items still (mostly) function as they did in the years before the War?
It should be noted that there are also a variety of theories (each with their own passionate defenders) about the end of magic itself. The predominant theory is that wizards, led by the then-leader of the Spiral Tower, Headmistress Joachim, cast an epic spell to undo whatever magic had brought the faeries into our world, sundering most of the gates. This effectively depleted whatever resource drives arcane magic in our world. Others believe that the cabal of wizards knew that whatever they were doing would destroy magic in our world, and willingly chose to destroy it to repel the invaders. (Many later scholars express rage and frustration at this idea.) One scholar believes that the destruction of magic was caused by a terrible fey weapon that got out of control, ultimately undermining the Faerie’s power. Another believes it was an artificially advanced push of a natural process, whereby the ‘tide’ of arcane magic ebbs and flows in the world. (Something like the drift of magnetic north in our world.) And so forth.
Fall of the Spiral Tower (32): At the end of the war, the mood was both jubilant and terrified. The only way to know that a war with the faeries is over is to wait a good long while, and see whether they attack anywhere. During the war, the Spiral Tower enjoyed unprecedented funding and access to information. That slowly trickled off after the war ended.
The ‘cabal’ of wizards that performed the legendary spell which ended the war (called by some “Joachim’s Hand”) were also influential in the Spiral Tower. It very slowly became apparent that the faeries weren’t coming back anytime soon, and it very slowliy became apparent that the magic wasn’t coming back either. Because the Spiral Tower, both culturally and institutionally, prized the fervent pursuit of magic, both as an academic expertise and as a way of life, many of its students and faculty imagined that they could access magic again if only they studied hard enough, thought hard enough, willed it into being hard enough.
At the end of the Faerie War, there were almost a thousand students of the Spiral Tower. And soon they left: one by one, at first, then larger groups with every passing season. The Archivists stayed on, of course, and some mages joined their ranks, content (or content enough) to study that which they once had known.
Some stayed. Faculty mostly, and a handful of dedicated students.
Slowly, they all went mad. The records are not very direct about this time period, but the savvy reader (and Nyix certainly is one) can agree that something is very clearly wrong in the tower. There’s not much information about this period, especially because the archivists seem to want to protect the honor or reputation of their great scholars who eventually went mad.
Also, when the war ended, much of the Spiral Tower slowly began collapsing. It was a very magical building, full of enchanted stairways, illusory walls, and the like. Some rooms seemed to drift about the campus on their own accord. So, while Nyix does find some blueprints, it’s pretty unclear what the present condition of the tower is.