The Helgram Academy

Merlin to Corwin: “I was taught the usual things a gentleman should know – magic, weapons, poisons, riding, dancing.”

For well over a thousand years, House Helgram has run its own school to teach and train the members of the House (or at least, the ones whose parents don’t send them off into Shadow) in the various skills they’ll need to survive as active members of the Courts of Chaos. It must be doing something right, because Helgrams are now in key positions both within the House, the wider Court of King Swayvill, and their influence is now extending south to the Land of the Unicorn, where Bleys and Fiona, children of Clarissa Helgram, are guiding Amber’s King Random, following his accession to the Throne.

Pupils join the Helgram Academy when they reach their eleventh year, and depending on their abilities, graduate any time from eighteen to thirty, depending on how far they wish to take their studies. By the time they reach their mid-twenties they are usually becoming more comfortable with their abilities, and beginning to learn their responsibilities as full members of the House.

The Academy is split into three Sections:

The Lower House

Ages 11-20. The annual student intake of 25-30 pupils includes all children of the House. These come primarily from the Lion Cubs (the Helgram Prep School), but can also include the occasional pupil from one of the other Houses, particularly Hendrake, who may also have Helgram Blood. There are usually between 200 and 250 pupils in this equivalent of ‘high school’ at any given time, which allows for pretty intensive teaching. This includes Cornelians, Chaosians and House demons who do not have the bloodline to walk the Logrus, but can serve Helgram in other ways.

Those who have the ability to shape shift will be taught the basics of how to change to their four inherent forms. At about eighteen, they take their general exams, and then spend the next couple of years studying those areas which really interest them, usually taking a Major and one or two Minors. Most students finish their stint in the Lower School at the equivalent academic education level of a second-year undergraduate of a Shadow university in their chosen Major, and probably first-year equivalent in their Minor.

The best students may be appointed as Head Boy, Head Girl and Prefects, by the staff and teaching assistants.

The Junior Common Room

After completing their studies in the the Lower House at age 20, about half the students stay on to become JCR members, or roughly 12-15 people a year. JCR studies usually take between four and seven years, depending on the subjects and the abilities of the indivdual students. At any given time, there will be c.60-75 JCR students of ages 20-27.

The JCR is when they can begin to learn the more unusual subjects – sorcery, conjuration, ritual, Trump, etc – and, if they have innate sensitive abilities, these will begin to be developed.  Equally, if they just wish to continue with the more standard academic subjects, they can do that as well.

For academic or vocational subjects, their time in the JCR gives them the opportunity to reach Shadow Doctorate equivalent level in their chosen Major, and Bachelors level in their Minor/s, and they should have a good grasp of what they want to do in the future (although there are always exceptions). This usually takes four-five years, depending on the subject.

For students who wish to continue their studies in Shifting, or learn Trump Artistry, their time in the JCR will get them to the equivalent of Basic level. Part of the training includes drawing the cards of the other members of the JCR.

For the Talented, this will be when they study for their Bachelor of Magic qualification, which takes five years. In the fourth and fitfth years, particularly gifted studens may be invited to take their first steps towards specialising in their chosen magical field. On graduating with their BMg, young mages have a basic grounding across all the classes of magic, and may have taken one partial specialisation. They may then opt to remain in the JCR to study for a Master’s in Magic, which would either take their partial specialisation up to full, or allow them to learn a second partial.

During their time in the JCR, students also get introduced to the ways of the House in general, and its place in the Courts (and now the wider multiverse) and begin to explore in which areas they may wish to serve the House in the future, for example admin, diplomacy, trade, military, medical, etc.

All JCR students will be taught the basics of Trump defence – i..e. using a Trump of yourself to give you at least some protection against an attack, as long as you concentrate on your own card. The intention is to offer them, a measure of protection once they’re out in the world. They are each given a Trump of themself, which can be kept or handed out as required. They can choose to lend their card to someone else, but then it would not be available for defence.

The JCR has a small student Council, elected by the undergraduates, of maybe half a dozen members, who look after the grievances of the students and suggest improvements or changes to the Academy Authorities.

The Senior Common Room

Admission to the SCR is by invitation only, for students who have excelled academically or in matters arcane, or have some kind of useful innate skill or ability which the House wishes to develop further. The number of students chosen each year is normally in single figures (usually 3-5), and they are the Elite of the Academy. Candidates are chosen by the Academy Council, which is made up of the senior Academy staff, and invitations are issued at any time from ages 24-27, depending on the student’s speciality. It is rare for a House demon to be invited to join the SCR, although it does happen occasionally.

Students who have demonstrated a better than normal aptitude for shapeshifting will be taught more advanced shapeshifting techniques, including shifting and healing other people, while Trump Artists will begin to learn the higher-level applications of their art.

For students on the Magic track, their time in the SCR is when they develop their studies up to Doctorate level. On graduation as a DMg, they will probably have either two magic classes at full and maybe one at paritial; or one specific specialisation (such as forensics for investigative, or surgrey for healing) and two other classes at partial.

SCR members also have the chance to travel on business with the more senior House members, or do their own research into new or unusual areas. In return, they are expected to act as teaching assistants and help the younger pupils develop. On finally leaving the SCR, they will also each be given two more cards of themselves, which again can be kept or handed out as required.

Details of current members of the SCR can be found here and the PCs can be found here.

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