Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tuesday Flashback: Training in the Ivory Towers

This week's Tuesday Flashback stays in The Asylum Tales with warlock-turned-tattoo artist Gage Powell as he discusses what training to be a warlock was like.  

Training in the Ivory Towers 
by Gage Powell

If you're under the belief that training in the Ivory Towers to be a witch or a warlock is a lot of wand waving and giggling with your fellow apprentices will learning fluffy spell that turn cats into tea cozies, then you are in for a rude awakening.  Training is hell.

Most kids are taken between the ages of seven and twelves, with the majority falling on the low end.  The kid is assigned ti a mentor by a committee and taken to a Tower on a continent different from the one where they lived with their families.  Since I was born in the U.S., I was trained in the Europe Tower.  The idea is that the drastic change will sever all ties to the kid's former life and help foster the idea that the child is being reborn into a new identity, a new race.

Once in the Tower with their mentor, the apprentice is given a small windowless room with a small pallet on the floor, a blanket, and a washbasin with a pitcher.  If the apprentice does poorly, he may lose one more of those items.  If he does well, he doesn't lose them (usually).

The apprentice's job is to serve his mentor.  That can include cooking, cleaning, sewing, fetching, and being a guinea pig for magical experiments.  The apprentice learns very slowly and it is frequently through mimicking the actions of his mentor.  Between his second and fourth years, the apprentice gets his wand, which is good because the lessons generally get more brutal (and deadly).

In addition to magic, the apprentice is taught math because many spells and potions depend on precise calculations.  The apprentice also learns history (from a Tower's point of view) and a civic service lesson on your duty to the Towers.  I guess it  was to sort of establish a sense of unity among the various witches and warlocks.

For the first five to seven years, the apprentice is not permitted to leave the Tower they have been assigned to.  In general, the apprentice rarely leaves the rooms that belong to his mentor.  Your life is magic and the happiness of your mentor.  If your mentor is pissed, then you need to be scared.  Of course, I always saw a small advantage in having a cold, heartless, sadistic mentor.  When he attacked you, you either learned to get really good at defensive spells and/or healing spells, or you died.  A lot of apprentices die.

When an apprentice starts to learn combative magic, the mentors will often pit their apprentices against each other in a magic fight.  In these instances, you are not just fighting for your survival, but also the prestige and honor of your mentor.  If you perform poorly in the match, your mentor will look bad, which in will leave you hoping that you die in the fight.

While I left before I finished my training, most apprentices don't achieve full membership of the Ivory Towers as a witch or a warlock until they reach their mid-twenties.  Some make it sooner while others reach it later.  With few exceptions, the only way you leave is through death.  Once you are considered a full-fledged with or warlock, you typically take a post of some sort.  Some witches and warlocks work in the massive greenhouses that are attached to the Towers and specialize in growing rare plants for special potions.  Others become guardians, whose job it is to watch over the world and inflict Towers-brand terror whenever they are out among the rabble. And others work in the libraries, on committees, and specialize studying certain branches of magic to expand the understanding of what can be done with the energy that surrounds us.

Only the most powerful of the warlocks and witches sit on the 13 member council that passes ultimate judgement on all things that affect the Ivory Towers.

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