Friday Lore Post: The Elias Whiteriver Boys’ Dormitory

In the year DN 1751, a boy named Elias enrolled at Three Hills’s mage academy, where he trained as a student, learning magic, philosophy, history and most importantly for him, astrology. After graduating, Elias took an apprenticeship with his astrology teacher Heidi Peakmaster, who further trained him for another four years. After finishing his apprenticeship, Elias was offered a teaching position at the academy, but decided to turn it down, returning to his home of High Haven. There, he became a public scholar well known for his knowledge of the stars, mostly studying comets and their relationship with Catechism prophecies.

Elias took on the name Whiteriver after the section of river on which High Haven sat, and grew more wealthy in High Haven as the city’s elite began to consult him for his knowledge. He ended up tutoring a number of children for minor nobility in the area, and even travelled to teach to major nobles’ children in other places, including the future King Grant VI and his siblings, though he always returned to High Haven in the end. His work on astrology and astronomy are still well regarded to this day, and the academy library holds many copies of his books, and still uses the tools he designed to measure and study the stars to teach new generations of students.

When Elias died in DN 1832, Elias had no children or other family. He left his entire estate to the academy, stipulating that they used some of the money to construct new dormitory buildings for students. Prior to this, academy students and apprentices had lived in the same building, and Elias had always found it very cramped when he was there, and felt that it would do the students good to have a boys’ and girls’ dormitory. Some faculty who remembered Elias as a student wondered whether his request to construct two separate dormitories for boys and girls had anything to do with his rather famous breakup with his then-boyfriend, Constantin Saltcloud, after Constantin cheated on him with a girl named Melinda Darkchapel, whom he got pregnant and later married. The ensuing argument between Constantin and Elias resulted in a fire in the dormitory, several broken windows, both Constantin and Elias being put in the infirmary, and a large blue flash in the sky that became a local legend in Three Hills for some years after. Many speculated that perhaps Elias had wanted boys and girls separated to avoid unwanted pregnancies in the future, which would also have been a direct swipe at Constantin—who was the academy’s archmage at the time of Elias’s bequeathment.

In any case, the two new dormitories were constructed, with considerable money left over to hire several new faculty in astrology and other related fields. Constantin Saltcloud named the two dormitories, perhaps in a small show of his own spite, the Elias Whiteriver Boys’ Dormitory and the Marlene Darkchapel Girls’ Dormitory. Shortly before Saltcloud’s own death a few years later, the signage indicating the official name of the boys’ dormitory went missing, and to this day most people do not know that it even is named after a former student at the academy.

Like all academy buildings, the dormitories are part of the academy’s defensive spell circles, which are designed to protect the school and the city from magical attacks. The people who constructed the buildings do not know this, because they were guided in the placement and architecture of the buildings by a higher angel who was very dedicated to maintaining the barriers that the academy is part of. Because students are housed there, the dormitories are only a minor part of the spell circle, providing ancillary power to the main structures of the spell, and therefore not buildings onto which any destructive backlash can occur if the spell circle is assailed.

When the dormitory was constructed, the policy was that one apprentice mage and one faculty member would be assigned to supervise it so that the students didn’t get up to anything too rambunctious. This lasted for approximately two years, before the two supervisors petitioned the archmage to be allowed to supervise the dormitory from afar, rather than living there with the students. To this day, two rooms in the dormitory are reserved for a supervisory apprentice and faculty member, but whether they are occupied at any given time depends on to whom the job has been assigned that year, and most of the time, after setting room assignments, the supervisors never supervise the dormitory again.

The dormitory is five floors of living space, mostly occupied by bedrooms, which sleep four students each. With ten bedrooms on each of the upper four floors, the dormitory can comfortably house up to a hundred and sixty students, though the academy has rarely seen such high enrollment and most of the time half or more of the bedrooms are unoccupied. Each floor has common privies and study spaces, as well as a large common room, and smaller study rooms. There is a small library in the first floor that contains copies of most of the academy’s commonly used textbooks, as well as free supplies like paper and ink for students to use for their homework. The first floor also has a large common room, which used to be a cafeteria before the academy decided that having multiple cafeterias didn’t make sense and consolidated them into one large cafeteria in the main tower. The dormitory has a laundry room and a large shower room in the basement. Originally the shower room contained a number of privacy stalls, but these were removed in DN 1912 after the supervising faculty member decided that too many students were using them to have sex in. After that removal, the students have simply had sex in the shower room without privacy.

If it really was Elias’s intention that the new dormitory setup prevent boys and girls from having sex, this most certainly did not succeed, given how loosely the dormitories are supervised. Boys who are interested in girls and vice versa have still managed to have just as much sex as they did before and indeed perhaps more, seeing as there are no longer apprentices everywhere watching them. That said, rates of student pregnancy at the academy have dropped considerably since the construction of the two dormitories, which many suggest is because boys and girls have to make an effort to have sex now, which also gives them time to prepare and obtain contraceptives before getting naked together. What is true is that the rate of apprentice/student sex dropped drastically, and though academy policy on sex between students, apprentices and teachers has changed many times over the years, currently the rules prohibit this, so keeping students and apprentices in separate spaces is helpful to that aim. It is also certainly true, that there is far more same-sex sex in the dormitories now than there used to be, because the boys are in such close proximity to each other all the time, as are the girls, and it’s only natural they would express their sexual desires together. Attempts to put the students two per room and use all the empty space in the dormitory have been repeatedly blocked on the grounds that giving two students one room will basically ensure they do nothing but have sex, and that having four students in one room will reduce this likelihood.

Realistically, nobody in the modern era thinks they can prevent the students from having sex (and nobody really cares to try anyway), so most policies about the structures of the dormitories are oriented at making sure that the students are at least studying sometimes. Any holdovers from previous prudish administrators are generally ignored, and generally speaking, the academy administration prefers not to think too hard about what the students are getting up to outside of class as long as nobody ends up in the infirmary. The dormitories have kept the students housed and safe and comfortable, and most students who graduate from the academy do so with good memories of having lived there.

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