|Balch & Balch
In the late winter of the year 8835, or 1435 in the short-sighted European calendar, we found ourselves persecuted to the point of death by both the secular and religious leadership of the mundane world in which we lived. This was certainly not the first time this had occurred, but, to make matters worse, our own leadership in answer to this "Witch Hunt," decided to go underground and, "...wait for the whole thing to blow over." A large group of us decided to seek out a new land where we would be free of the tyrannical secular, religious, and increasingly incompetent magical governing bodies to which we had been forced to submit.
Having spoken with various Nordic mages we discovered that there were lands as yet "unclaimed" far to the west. We sent several scouting parties and found these stories to be correct, or so we thought at the time. Over 30 magic-using families, some ancient and some relatively new, made the trip to settle in this new place, this new home, where we could at last live without constantly looking over our collective shoulders.
Within days of our arrival, much to our surprise, we were greeted by a group of our predecessors of this land, the Alfar who called themselves the Alfarkanna, a lost tribe of the Ljosalfar of Alfheim. These lovely people, quite to our delighted surprise, welcomed us with opened arms. Luckily, they spoke what was essentially a dialect of the same language base as the European Alfar, and once we had developed a translation potion, minor adjustments to the tincture were a relatively easy process.
We had troubles in those first months. We found that the magical creatures and plants which we had relied upon for their specific and well-researched foci and purposes, were thin on the ground in this new world, and that rather, we were surrounded by flora and fauna which we had never encountered! To make matters worse, many of the absent species were directly related to the raising and creation of sustenance. Evanescing to England and back, though feasible, was impractical for transporting material goods of sufficient quantities. How on Earth were we going to subsist...it is not as if any of us had ever, "farmed," before!
To our rescue rode the Olde Ones, eager to share, and trade knowledge and technique! They seemed to relish educating us on every plant, animal, and magical creature they had discovered in this wondrous place. In return, we gladly outfitted them with seeds and cuttings of our native European plants, some of which they had not seen since their diaspora. They have apparently occupied these lands since sailing west from their homes at least a millennia in the past, though the exact year seems unknown to them.
It was just after the autumnal equinox of that first year that our friends surprised us greatly by escorting us all to a lovely lake they called Vindulë. Here, on the shores of this lake, we would build a settlement. In fact, the most exciting part of this general proposal, was to build a school on a large island within the lake itself, that the Alfar referred to as Taurëlai. They proposed a cooperative training program for Ælf and witches/wizards that would allow focus on both branches of magical dedication, and would encourage a truly bilateral interchange of ideas. These Alfar were very different from those we only occasionally encountered in Europe. We agreed immediately, and the Istyasairina Academy of Magical Endeavours was born.
Great progress was made in the initial years of the settlement on Vindulë, a town that would come to be called Cobham's Glen after the Duchess of Gloucester, Eleanor Cobham, who had underwritten the emigration of many of the wizarding families of less fortunate means. A main street was laid out, perpendicular to the lake, complete with markets, clothing vendors, a forge, a cooperage, a potter, a brewery and pub, an alchemist shop, the horticultural bazaar, and of course, Balch & Balch, the shop of the famed wands masters from whom the second largest donation for our transplantation had been given. The Balchs, along with Hortense Lacecap, our herbologist, also seemed to have the closest ties with the Alfar at this time, receiving much instruction, specifically in the trees, plants, and creatures of this new land, often disappearing for long periods of time on exploratory adventures with our benefactors.
While all this transpired, the school was completed and the first classes enrolled. The first headmaster of Istyar was Hypatia Greyshroud, who, though often questionable in motivations, was unquestionably the most erudite and qualified of the candidates for the position. As conceived, students in their third year would declare an affinity for Earth, Air, Fire or, Water, which would see them into the chapters of each element. Sixth year students, being 12 years of age, would then, in addition to their general courses, begin specialized training in their chosen forms, as well as sharing housing with their elemental compatriots.
We also took the opportunity to settle upon the members of the Convocation, which had been a term of the charter upon which everyone had appended their seals. As previously determined the Convocation was not so much a ruling body, as we had all become suspicious of such arrogance, but rather a deliberative body that could discuss the common goals of the settlement, but which could also function as an adjudicating body to sift through both high and low crimes, and execute penalty for these crimes with legitimacy. We, as one August body, declared we would not slide into chaos, darkness and vigilantism!
Truly, this was amazing progress! And in less than a calendrical cycle! Everything seemed well portented… I wonder often if I knew then what I know now, would I have acted differently. If all of us would have acted differently. I truly wonder if we would have come at all.