A hush came over the crowd as now, Chancellor Manyon and Councilor Witchbane walked together, talking, laughing, across the lawn, having exited the main building together. They were in fine suits, exquisitely tailored and fashionable, complete with canes and all the latest accessories a man of class and wealth might have, Chancellor in deep purple, and Councilor in navy. They approached the stage, with the Councilor heading for the lectern, while the Chancellor took his seat nearby.
He looked out over the crowd, positively beaming, letting the anticipation build as the crowd fell to a complete silence.
"Welcome to the Symposium on Collaborative Excellence and Expansion of Scientific Knowledge. I welcome all of our fine staff, who all appear to be here today, except of course, for our friends abroad. I welcome our students, who I hope are here for their curiosity and desire to participate in this conversation, although..," he chuckled, "I suspect that several of you are here for the refreshments. That's fine too, eat to your heart's content. We have more than enough, and know, that nothing will go to waste. Anything leftover will be taken to Beacon, to help those who are helping themselves. I welcome our other guests, and do hope we can tease your interest to participate in the comings and goings of our fine University."
"My dear friend Chancellor Manyon will speak more on the details of our new program, I'm merely here for the introductions and the sort of thing expected of the Academic Councilor." He chuckled again, and several of the staff did as well. It was no small fact that many weren't entirely sure what the Councilor's role in the university was exactly. But still, they laughed at his jest, and he continued. "I wish to extend a special thanks to the man whose funding, and whose discussions with myself, and with Cancellor Manyon, helped to form this entire undertaking." He extended an outstretched hand toward the Warden, "To our own Warden of Slags Deep, who has given a truly massive donation to the University to not only fund this endeavor, but to further upgrade our entire campus and research. You sir, are far too generous, and I thank you. We will be sure to use your donation to their fullest potential."
The Warden smiled, and nodded his head at the Councilor, while all eyes lingered on the mysterious man. Little was publicly known about him. They knew he ran the prison in Egilrun. They knew he was one of the wealthiest people on the island. But no one knew his name, where he came from. He could always be found at events of import, with a polite smile, sparkling conversation, and always a propensity for dance if it was available.
"And now, I welcome Chancellor Manyon to give his presentation."
Councilor Witchbane stepped away from the lectern, and went toward his seat, while the Chancellor arose, and made his way over. He looked out over the crowd, "I come here today to speak to you about our new project. With our new resources, and with the achievements of our staff and students, we are now able to realize a dream of mine. A dream I know to be shared with many of you as well."
"We have seen what can happen, both around the world, and here at home, when ignorance is allowed to run unchecked, to not be defeated by enlightenment. We've seen allies close their borders, close their minds, close their hearts because of ignorance. They claim it is for the safety of their citizens, claim that it is in fear of powers greater than their own. But we know it to only be due to the ignorance that they have of the world. I wish those being persecuted unjustly in Rynmere the best, and hope they may find their escape from a land so dark. We've seen it defeated here in Scalvoris as well. With the abolition of slavery, we've taken one step closer to becoming a truly enlightened people."
"Yet, we cannot live isolated in a world of ignorance, cowering from the darkness and fear it brings. No. We must stand tall, we must seek to help those who do not know how to help themselves. We must teach them to think. To question. To wonder. To explore. To do the unthinkable and to chase their imaginations.
"And so, we are announcing our Enlightenment Outreach Program. We will be doing this by sending our finest, young minds, to the cities abroad. They will be spreading the word of the discoveries, of the inventions, of the advancements made by our very own staff and students alike. They will contact the influential, the wealthy, the curious, and the bold alike. They will seek new minds, to bring back to our University, those who wish to make their own discoveries, in whatever fields they desire. This program will bolster our ranks, will bring new cultures and ideas to our campus, and most importantly, help to fight the darkness of ignorance. "
"We do not bow to that monster, and we never will."
"To the staff, continue to do great work. We will continue to change the world, and we will make the world see our achievements. To the students, we will continue to push you, to give you guidance and drive, so that you will be the change we all hope to see. To our guests, there is always a desk for you upon our campus. There is no such person as someone not suitable to learn from others nor teach others."
"And so, I open the floor for any others to speak, to ask their questions and concerns in a public forum. Myself or Councilor Witchbane will answer these to the best of our ability. If we are not able to answer right away, we will ensure it is found and delivered in a timely manner. No more with ignorance. No more with fear. Everyone may be enlightened. And so, I yield the podium, and ask that we keep it orderly and civilized, as I know you will. Thank you, all of you."
Chancellor Manyon left the lectern, and sat down, and soon, a line was beginning to form at the entrance to the stage, for students, guest, and staff alike, to express their ideas, their concerns. And throughout the crowd, excitement was buzzing. People would be sent abroad for research purposes, paid for by the university. Researchers and discoverers would become famous around the world for their work. Discussions of inventions and ideas that people had been sitting on, that they'd not wished to share yet, were being shared freely.