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 leaving the Lower House, about half the students stay on to become JCR members, or roughly 12-15 people a year. JCR studies usually take about five years, although particularly gifted students may complete these earlier. At any given time, there will be c.60-75 JCR students.

The JCR is when they can begin to learn the more unusual subjects – sorcery, conjuration, ritual, Trump, etc – and, if they have innate abilities, these will begin to be developed. They may also choose to complete their studies in shape shifting, to reach full basic level. Or equally, if they just wish to continue with the more standard academic subjects, they can do that as well.

They 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.

For academic or vocational subjects, by the time they reach the point where they can decide whether to remain at the academy for a further period (usually around age 25), they will have reached Shadow Doctorate equivalent level in their chosen Major, and Bachelors level in their Minor/s, and should have a good grasp of what they want to do in the future (although there are always exceptions).

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, for students who have excelled academically or in matters arcane, or have some kind of useful skill and ability which the House wishes to develop further. Candidates are chosen by the Academy Council, made up of the senior Academy staff. It is rare for a House demon to be invited to join the SCR, although it does happen occasionally.

The number of students chosen each year is normally in single figures (usually 3-5), and they are the Elite of the Academy. They 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.

All SCR students will be taught the basics of Trump defence – ie 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. However, if they lend their card to someone else, then they won’t be able to use it to defend themself.

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

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