Ah, Avalonia! It is the first and most well-known of the three magic cities in the world. With a history which stretches back all the way to the tail end of the Age of the Gods, a rich and vibrant culture, and one of the oldest and most famous questing destinations on Earth, this town has a lot to offer! So, pull up a chair and settle in as we delve into the glorious history of Avalonia: City of Magic!
Founding and Early History
In the final three centuries of the Age of Gods, the city of Tarlos had a thriving community of dedicated mages living within its walls. However, certain groups of non-mages within the city were suspicious of the mages and fearful of their power. After those fears and suspicions began to manifest themselves in the form of rancorous anti-intellectualism and a few isolated death threats, the mages’ guild of Tarlos began to gather resources in preparation to leave the city and build their own settlement on the empty but fertile lands between the Xanadu River and Darkrest Forest.
In a matter of months, they had more than enough money and supplies. The Guild Chief, Achmage Henry Durlette, negotiated a deal with the nature sprites who lived in the area and the mages, their families, and several families of sympathizers set to work building the little village of Avalonia. What would one day become a grand and storied city began as a quiet little hamlet of simple wood and stone buildings and a few surrounding farms.
Of course, Avalonia was not the only new town to pop up in the vicinity at that time. About five days’ journey away, another village with a similar purpose had sprung up near the edge of the Darkrest Forest—Garurulfus, the little burg which would one day become the main hub for the study of shapeshifting technique. It didn’t take long for the two populations to make contact. The mages and therinai quickly found common ground in their dedication to the study and practice of advanced magics and soon forged a trade partnership which formed the basis of one of the closest alliances the world would ever know.
The people of Avalonia formed a government for their little village that, at the time, was rather unique. Instead of just a single mayor voted in by the people or a noble who would pass leadership of the village down as a birthright to one of his children, the people democratically elected a High Magus from a pool of qualified magic users who would serve a two-year term. To balance the High Magus’ power, a eleven other mages (each an expert in the use of one of the eleven elements) were chosen to serve their own two-year terms as the Council of Mages. Each eligible member of the community could only serve one two-year term every hundred and fifty years either on the Council or as High Magus, and one could serve as a Councilor and then as High Magus or vice versa as long as they had not served in the other position within the last century and a half. This system was implemented solely to prevent the rise of career politicians and the corruption that comes with them and, to date, has worked exceedingly well in this regard.
As news of this town’s existence spread, mages of many different races from all over the world migrated there. Within the first fifty years of its existence, Avalonia grew from a quiet little village to a huge (for its day) city of twenty square miles and over fifty thousand people! In that time, Avalonia also became one of the very first cities to offer free public education to every citizen, and all of the city’s magic schools—from the most basic tutoring center to the two grand universities which had sprung up—were either free or charged such low tuition that even impoverished orphans and the children of poor farmers could afford to study magic there.
This was such a revolutionary thing in those days that people who had been born and raised in Avalonia and the surrounding area were often shocked and dismayed to learn that free education and adult literacy rates of ninety nine percent were not the norm everywhere else in the world. Several native Avalonians, upon hearing of the state of education outside of their community, left home to open schools of their own in various places around the world in an attempt remedy the situation. While sometimes interfered with by the authorities or sabotaged by local troublemakers, the efforts of these pioneering educators helped to lay the groundwork for the public education systems that presently exist in the majority of the world’s nations.
By the end of the Age of the Gods, Avalonia—along with her sister city Garurulfus—had become a great city indeed. Some pundits of the time even speculated the possibility of the city’s leaders striking out to build an empire like the leaders of so many great cities of the past. Avalonia, however, bucked that trend and continued to humbly reside within the borders of her mother kingdom instead of making a play for greater political power. Empires and conquest meant little to the leaders of Avalonia. Their greatest pursuit has always been knowledge.
The Eleven Elemental Towers
By the year 7522 B.W.D., Avalonia was no longer the only great magical city in the world. In the eastern kingdom of Sanskraa the city of Meduwa had risen, and to the northwest across the sea now stood the city of Lokroix. It was not as if the city itself had lost any of its former grandeur or cachet, but rather there were now two other cities of magic which had caught up and built up reputations of their own.
Not only that, but these two cities had acquired wondrous signature attractions which brought in not just dedicated students of magic, but random tourists and adventurers as well! Meduwa had the Crystal Catacombs, a labyrinth constructed beneath the city which tested an individual’s virtues and revealed their vices. If defeated by a manifestation of one of their vices, the traveler would be sent right back to the entrance to of the catacombs. If the traveler was able to defeat all of their vices and reach the labyrinth’s center, however, they would receive a scroll containing a special spell that only they could learn and cast.
As for Lokroix, there was the Rainbow Fountain. This enormous magical fountain spouted forth jets of water which shimmered with all of the colors of the rainbow and formed temporary platforms in the air at various levels—some of the jets were even suspended in the air permanently by magic! If one could climb from platform to platform all the way to the top, they would receive an amulet capable of conjuring one of the three aspects of water—liquid, ice, or vapor. Which amulet the participant received depended on how they progressed and how long it took. Falling from the platforms posed no real danger, however, for any who fell were caught by a jet of sparkling water and returned safely—if damply—to the ground. In fact, many people just went platform hopping at the fountain for the sole purpose of letting themselves fall and riding a jet of water back down again!
Naturally, hearing of these wonders, the people of Avalonia petitioned to erect their own and held a huge contest to choose what it would be. The ideas ranged across the board from a terrifying trial by fire to a funhouse maze full of puzzles and booby-traps…to a karaoke bar. In fact, there were so many amazing ideas that, in the end, it was impossible to decide on just one idea or even just one element to use for Avalonia’s great wonder. So, the judges just decided to use all eleven elements and incorporate bits and pieces of the most popular ideas into the whole. After a year of rough drafts and behind-the-scenes drama, the final idea was revealed to the public—the Eleven Elemental Towers!
These eleven towers were each to house tests, traps, and puzzles based around the eleven magical elements—Earth, Air, Water, Fire, Electricity, Light, Darkness, Herb, Wild, Heart, and Spirit—set up along a path leading upward to the top floor. At the very top, a specially enchanted bell would be housed that the participant would have to ring. The ring of the bell would carry information about the participant and their progress to a magical fountain in the town square and would join together with the chimes of the other bells bit by bit beneath the waters to forge a unique reward for the individual. However, participants would have only seventy two hours to ring all eleven bells. Otherwise, the incomplete reward would dissolve into nothingness beneath in the waters of the fountain.
An enormous amount of work went into building these eleven towers. Not only were master artisans, architects, and engineers brought in to design and build the buildings themselves, but hundreds of powerful elemental specialists and enchanters were called upon to enchant the buildings, bells, and fountain as well. It took twenty-five years of hard work to raise and ready the fountain and towers but finally, on a fine spring say in the year 7496 B.W.D., the Eleven Elemental Towers were opened to the public with great fanfare.
In honor of the grand opening, a week-long festival was held in the city. There were carnival games, balls, banquettes, concerts, and a Broomstick Ball exhibition tournament—which is not just Quiddich with the serial numbers filed off. It’s a bunch of guys (or gals) running around a field trying to hit a ball with a broom in such a way as it lands in a large, upright, green metal pipe. A ridiculous game indeed, but it was all the rage in those days. So, yes, there was much fun to be had.
In the eight and a half millennia that those towers have stood since, only a few hundred of the thousands of people who have attempted the challenge have actually completed it. Many of the victors have become famed archmages, such as Alaban Merlinius and Ozan Heddnflams. Many others have gone on to become legendary heroes, such as Tryllian Madlan and Amira “Hurricane” Latham. Of course, not everyone who has beaten the challenge has gone down in history. For most, their one claim to fame is their name engraved on a Hall of Fame plaque in the registration hall/gift shop.
War and Recovery
Avalonia, as a rule, has always remained a politically neutral place. The current ruler of whatever kingdom the city happens to be counted as part of has no power to draft her citizens into the army or force her mages to participate in any form of war effort whatsoever. Oh, many have tried, but those who did have had a tendency to end up turned into toads or newts or other unattractive little creatures. In order to defend the city from the armies of any fools brazen enough to try and impose their will by force, the Magic Knights—an elite fighting force of skilled and powerful warrior mages—were formed. Their undefeated combat record against invading armies has been the envy of many a military force well into the modern era.
For thousands of years, the only military upheavals that the people of Avalonia ever had to worry about were the usual local squabbles between kings and warlords. Then, the war of destruction happened. This war was not just a simple international dispute or a case of some upstart with a private army throwing his weight around. This was a complex, worldwide war pitting entire races against one another.
It was difficult to hold their traditional neutral position—especially after the withdrawal of the elves—but Avalonia held out as the one place that people could run to in order to get away from the turmoil of the war. The city absorbed a steady stream of refugees during those years, culminating at the end with the evacuation of Garurulfus. A quarter of a million Garurulfin citizens crammed into the already very crowded city of Avalonia in order to escape the final assault of the Alliance of Humanity’s forces against their hometown.
Soon after, said forces set their sights on Avalonia as a sort of coup de grace to cap off their victory. However, what was supposed to be a glorious coup de grace ended up being an embarrassing beatdown when the would-be invaders found themselves up against Avalonia’s Magic Knights. The Knights successfully drove the Alliance forces off…but all within the city walls knew that it was too little too late. The war was over, the good guys had lost, and the future was looking pretty damned bleak.
After the war, most of the refugees who had sought shelter in Avalonia left to return to their homelands to rebuild and see what, if anything, could be salvaged. Unfortunately, as soon as The Great Purge started up, a whole new wave of refugees started flocking to the city. The fact that this wave consisted of only a few hundred people instead of the thousands who had come during the war did little to make things better. In fact, it served to illustrate just how much worse things had become out there.
Therinai and suspected therinai and their loved ones were being rounded up by the dozens and brutally executed. To deal with the common werewolves (and other werebeasts…and even windigoes to some extent), the International Werewolf Hunters’ Association was formed to hunt them down and kill them all. In these dark days, many therinai sought refuge in Avalonia, Meduwa, and Lokroix. Unfortunately, IWHA black ops units began targeting the magic cities as a result, culminating in the sacking of Avalonia’s central library and the F-bomb-laced threat from the city’s Council of Mages detailing the consequences of attempting another such invasion.
The hiding therinai felt guilty for the trouble that their presence had caused in Avalonia and, against the pleas of many of the city’s most influential citizens, they left to face their problems on their own. It is rumored, however, that the therinai did indeed leave several tomes of lore in the care of the mages of Avalonia. These tomes, it is said, are scattered throughout the city’s many public, university, and private libraries, waiting for some curious soul to rediscover them and pry loose their secrets. Of course, all of this is just rumor and urban legend. Very difficult to prove at all…
Today, Avalonia is still a great hub of learning and magical research. People of all races and tribes are welcome within her walls and live more-or-less peacefully alongside each other. The city is not only home to several famous schools and universities of magic, but also a few schools of shapeshifting as well. In recent years, a few schools of martial arts have even appeared within the city—though, they all teach styles which incorporate magic. And so, this eclectic and storied town keeps moving forward, keeping an eye to the future while always remembering its past.
Well, that does it for this week, folks! Join us next week for another exciting article. Until then, feel free to check out The Star-Runner Chronicles on Amazon.com (print and Kindle ebook versions available, coming to Smashwords in August), spy on my social media activities on Twitter and Pintrest, archive binge around here a bit (if you liked this piece, then check out other articles under “history” and “magic”), and peep in on my Fan Works Spot for a bit of fan fiction and some useful Proto Man sprite sheets. Also, if you like this blog or my books, be sure to spread the word to your friends and drop a book review on Amazon, Goodreads, or any other site where good books are reviewed. Thanks for reading, and have an awesome week!