Academic Happenstance Pt.1

By sheer happenstance Yrmellyn meets Professor Griffin Clark in a tavern

1st of Cylus 721

Seated on the shores of Lake Lovalus, Rharne serves as the home of the Lighting Knights, the Thunder Priestesses, and the Merchant's guild. This beautiful trade city is filled with a happy and contented people who rarely need an excuse to party.

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Yrmellyn Cole
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Academic Happenstance Pt.1


Academic Happenstance Pt.1
1st Cylus 721

It was in one of Rharne’s many taverns. The painter Yrmellyn had never felt drawn to the stuffy world of the dusty old scholars. She was curious (attunement mage) and loved knowledge. She also liked to learn. But, the University world had seemed like a museum. Places were rigid people were focusing on narrow specialities in an old-fashioned manner.

But, now she had run into the charismatic Professor Griffith Clarke. He was one of the scholars teaching at The Institute for Innovation in Rharne. The reason why they happened to meet was down to earth. He had approached her and her partner Ha’zel and asked if the third chair at their table was free and if he could have a seat. Yrmellyn had said yes. It was Cylus and the tavern was full of people. Everybody were seeking a bit of entertainment to keep the darkness and the cold at bay. The stranger seemed nice enough and the chair wasn’t occupied, so why not.

As it happened, Professor Griffith Clark turned out to be energetic and outgoing. He struck up a conversation almost at once. It was, according to him, interesting to study places of interest for immortal history.

“I’m always working at ideas for new expeditions”, he said.

“Oh?” Yrmellyn sipped on her wine. It was the second glass. Despite being from Rharne she wasn’t a big drinker. Others might feel tempted to drink more than they could handle, but not Yrmellyn. Being raised by a habitual drunkard had made her averse to getting drunk. She could take a glass or two, but she preferred to not drink too much. Her partner Ha’zel was also a moderate drinker. He was from Desnind, a tanned man of sevryn race and a spiritual outlook on the world.

“Yes!” Griffith Clark didn't need any more encouragement than an “oh”. An enthusiastic lecture was in demand. The woman had answered him instead of giving him a blank face. He took it she felt an avid interest in hearing more about his plans and projects. It didn’t seem to matter to him that they were in a tavern. He began at once.

“Before I start, I want to tell you a bit about The Institute for Innovation, where I work. It is a proper University. It offers the same kind of classes you can get at other universities like for example in Scalvoris or Viden. But, what makes the institute in Rharne unique is interdisciplinary research and innovation.”

“What does that mean?” Yrmellyn found it best to interrupt him and ask for information at once. “Which kind of classes do you mean? And what is interdisciplinary research? What kind of innovation is the institute focusing on?”

Griffith Clark laughed, satisfied to get questions to answer. It was an opportunity to teach as well as market the institute's educations.

“Let’s begin with the classes. We teach Arts, Humanities, Languages, Metaphysics, Science and Technologies. That’s the traditional fields of knowledge. The disciplines, in academic language."

“I see ...” So, they were teaching arts, did they? Yrmellyn wondered what that meant. Her own experience of art had grown during fifteen years of working as a painter. She had learnt from her partner of the past, a painter and mage like herself. After his death, she had continued painting and developed as an artist on her own accord. She doubted that university studies would add anything but she didn’t say so. Instead, she asked about the Humanities. “Can you tell me more about the classes in humanities please, Professor Clark?”

“Call me Griffith!”

“Yrmellyn Cole.”

Clark tried saying her name and failed. Yrmellyn had often suspected that the story Aunt Vilda (the drunkard who had raised her) told was false. Vilda had said that the name Yrmellyn had been on the basket she had come in. (Somebody had left her at an orphanage.) Yrmellyn suspected that the truth was that Vilda had been very drunk when she had decided the name. The woman might not have recalled it. It was very hard to imagine anybody else giving a baby girl a name starting with a Y and derailing from there.

“Unusual name. It’s a bit hard to pronounce. I’m sorry.”

“Those who can’t say Yrmellyn use to call me Cole.”

“Cole. Very well! Our classes in humanities ... are ... history, religion, geography and politics. Are you interested in humanities, Cole?”

Was she? Yes. As an attunement mage, Yrmellyn took interest in everything.

“Yes, but I’m also interested in other fields of knowledge Griffith. Languages for example. Which language does the institute offer classes in?” She thought of the big tome of alchemy she had gained in Rynmere several arcs ago but never managed to decipher. It had not occurred to her that she might make progress with the tome by university studies. But, now it did. She felt quite interested in the answer to this question.

“I’m not the right person to answer, but to give you a general idea ... linguists are teaching most languages spoken in Idalos. I don’t know exactly what’s offered at the institute right now. But, the ambition is to offer all the classes you can find in Scalvoris. Our scholars teach phonetics and phonology, syntax and semantics. They also teach sociolinguistics and psycholinguistics. This is for modern and older languages alike.”

“It seems much.”

“There are many languages. Are you looking to learn languages, Cole?”

“I can be. But, I’m interested in knowing about the other fields of knowledge too. Metaphysics for example.”

Griffith Clark seemed to hesitate a bit before he answered. “Metaphysics. Yes, about what they call arcane knowledge. Arcane knowledge is about magic, but it’s also about immortal history and original beings. But, they aren’t using magic in the institute. They are studying it, not using it. Are you looking to learn the scientific study of metaphysics, Cole?”

“It's possible.” Yrmellyn already knew a bit. She had been a mage for as long as he had been a painter. Fifteen arcs. She wasn’t sure if the kind of studies Griffith described would be for her. She was a practitioner. It seemed best to not tell Griffith.

“Technologies,” she said instead. “What does it include?”

“A great deal!” Griffith Clark was having a great time. “All kinds of engineering, including construction and also cartography.”

“I understand why they include construction as that’s a kind of engineering too. But cartography? It seems like a subject within geography if you ask me. Shouldn’t it be in another department?”

“Making maps requires a lot of work on the field. You need to measure distances and heights and construct the maps, so making them it’s considered a technology.”

“I see.” Yrmellyn thought of a mapmaker she had met in Ne’haer long ago. He hadn’t seemed like an engineer. She had forgotten his name. It had been a fleeting acquaintance back in 717. “What about the classes in science?”

“Mathematics. Biology, chemistry, biochemistry, physics. Medicine. Alchemy too. That kind of classes. Are you interested in natural sciences Cole?”

“I’m interested in a plethora of things Griffith. Almost everything.” Yrmellyn laughed.” Even arts. I’m a painter you see. But I’m not much of a university student. I wouldn’t be able to choose one single path to focus on with dogged determination. I like to investigate my ideas. Experiment. Create.”

“But, studies at the institute might be perfect for you as your range of interests is so wide. As I said before, the institute focuses on interdisciplinary research. We organize the studies with that in mind. It means that you study a combination of disciplines, not one single discipline. And innovation is about creating something new.”

“Interesting..” Yrmellyn had never before thought of it this way. “But I’m too old. Over thirty.”

“Age isn’t an issue in the institute. Why would it be? You should apply.”

Apply. Yrmellyn didn’t even know what to apply to or how to go about it. All her research of the institute’s disciplines and classes had been for fun. She had done it for the sake of chatting with Griffith and due to the attunement. But, Griffith seemed to take it for granted that it meant an avid interest in academic studies.

“I don’t know a thing about applying to universities”, she said. “Or the studies and what they entail.”

Griffith Clark was happy to enlighten her. “We begin with the basics of an academic discipline. Then we look at how it interacts with other disciplines. This means that you can start with something you want to build on in one discipline. Then you continue by studying how it works together with other disciplines. If that explains it.”

“I’m not sure. Can you give me an example?”

“Well. Let's say you would begin by studying the basics of history. You could then branch out to the history of technologies. Or the history of politics, the history of medicine, the history of languages, the history of arts, and so on. Did I mention the history of Immortals? You could build up a broad interdisciplinary knowledge about history. That would be a way to gain academic qualifications."

“That made it a bit clearer to me. It’s an interesting example, but I don’t know what would be so innovative with history. It’s focused on the past, not at discoveries, inventions and the future.”

“It’s possible to discover new things about the past. Find new information that overthrows old theories. Create new perspectives on the history and suggest new theories.” Griffith had by now drunk most of his beer.

“I’m not sure what people can use that for though. And what are those academic qualifications?”

Griffith smiled. “You begin by studies for a Letter. It takes two seasons, given that the student is diligent. After this, you are eligible to study for a Certificate, which also takes two seasons. Then, after two more seasons of studies, you may earn a Diploma. The higher qualifications Charter and Licentiate requires three seasons of studies each. But, there are of course many more requirements than the time.”

Yrmellyn felt a bit tired by thinking of it. It would mean several arcs of university studies.

“To be honest I can’t see myself sitting in a dusty chamber for arcs, working at those qualifications. Especially as I can’t see what it would lead to. What do people do with all their letters, certificates, and diplomas and such? I mean, at the end of the day all that work should lead to something. “

“They become teachers.”


“Teachers. They teach in universities and other schools.”

“So ... all those studies ... and then they become ... teachers? Is that all?”

“They become scientists too. Researchers. Discoverers. Creators of knowledge, understanding, new ideas and theories.”

Yrmellyn had a feeling that most of them didn’t. She suspected that they became teachers, nothing more. Good teachers, in the best case, which was a good thing she supposed, but still a bit dull. “All?”

“Some of us become all those things, others not. Or, we alternate between the roles. Look at me for example. I teach a lot. But, I also organize field expeditions as I want to work on my research projects. I use to offer students to take part in those expeditions.”

Yrmellyn smiled. “It’s a lot to take in. What are you doing when you go on expeditions?”

“I received a Licentiate in cartography and a Charter in Immortal history. So, I investigate and map places of interest from an immortal history perspective.”

It seemed like a complicated combination of disciplines. He was a very knowledgeable man. That much was obvious. Appraising the total of what Griffin had said, she figured he must also be a very good teacher. He had given her excellent explanations and examples and he had seemed to love to do it. She had learnt many new things.

“It’s interesting to listen to you Griffith”, she said. “I would love to hear more, but I fear that I’m boring you with all my questions.”

“Not at all, not at all, Cole! Please ask away if there’s something more you want to know!”

“I’ll buy us a new round of drinks, Griffith. It’s on me.”

Yrmellyn waved down a waitress. Her partner Ha’zel who had stayed silent while she spoke with Griffith raised an eyebrow. More wine? A third glass? Yrmellyn ignored him. She wasn’t going to get drunk. She was making friends with the professor, that was all.

Soon, they had the new drinks. The conversation continued.

Continues in Academic Happenstance Pt.2
word count: 2154
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Re: Academic Happenstance Pt.1


Skill Knowledge:
Interrogation: Interrupting a monologue to ask for information at once
Interrogation: Unleashing several questions at the same time at the "target" person
Interrogation: Following up after an answer by asking for deeper information
Interrogation: Questioning an answer you don't find logical
Interrogation: Asking for concrete examples of things people tell you about
Appraisal: Appraising people’s proficiency as a teacher by how well they explain things

Non Skill Knowledge:
NPC: Professor Griffith Clark at the Institute of Innovation in Rharne
The Institute of Innovation: Humanities includes history, religions, geography and politics
The Institute of Innovation: Languages includes phonetics, phonology, syntax, semantics, lingustics
The Institute of Innovation: Technology includes engineering, construction, cartography and
The Institute of Innovation: Metaphysics includes theory of magic, immortal history and original beings
The Institute of Innovation: Science includes mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, medicine and alchemy

Loot: -
Lost: -
Wealth: -
Injuries: -
Magic XP: -
Skill Review: Appropriate to level.
Points: 10
- - -
Comments: This was a nicely written thread. It seems as if the charismatic Professor Clark managed to change Yrmellyn’s mind when it comes to the “stuffy world of the dusty old scholars”.

And what more, it looks as if you paid attention to the NPC’s writeup which is something that I definitely appreciate. You portrayed Professor Clark well in my opinion!

I loved that this thread wasn’t just an academic conversation though (I appreciate the detail you went into in that regard!), but that you also offered insights into Yrmellyn’s personality and past (I didn’t know that she had been raised by a habitual drinker and that that was why she was not a big drinker despite being from Rharne, for example).

The part about Yrmellyn’s name amused me. I wonder how you actually pronounce it. I agree that “Cole” is a good alternative to her first name that is hard to pronounce, by the way!

And Professor Clark is right. Age isn’t an issue. You are definitely not too old when you are over thirty!

That being said, you requested five Research knowledges for this thread. Yrmellyn didn’t use the Research skill in my opinion though. She just talked about the university and what you can study there with Professor Clark. The Research knowledges would have been acceptable if Yrmellyn had found those things out by using research techniques though.

For that reason, I cannot award you the aforementioned knowledges, but only the Appraisal knowledge that you requested as well. Feel free to suggest a replacement for the Research knowledges though, and let me know if you have any questions, please!

Enjoy your rewards!

P.S.: I would have added "Resistance" to the list of skills used as Yrmellyn is about to get drunk (I've already taken a look at the sequel!).

word count: 470





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