Magnolia Sun School of Sorcery serves the Solaris Province. It is the oldest of the primascholae in the Magimundi, although it has not maintained a consistent campus (or even timeline) since its founding, so Providence Preparatory Academy for the Advancement of the Arcane Arts in Destiny Province is quick to claim this title for themselves.
In the early history of the area, before contact with Europeans, magic was passed on through specific tribal teachings and inter-tribal councils where knowledge was shared. Magic was more overt and an integral part of daily life, even for tribe members who could not use it. After Spanish explorers arrived in the sixteenth century, the school, originally known as Hvtkē Hvse (Hut-key/Hush-uh) in the Muscogee language of the Seminole and Creek tribes, was begun by mages Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and Juan Ponce De Léon. Cabeza de Vaca was embedded with many native peoples along the southeast, and had direct contact with the Karankawa tribes on what the Spanish called Malhado, or the Island of Doom (modern day Galveston Island to Mundanes), inhabited by New World Magischola house founder Calísaylá's specific tribe. Cabeza de Vaca originally ran the branch of the school there, while de Léon ran the branch in Hispaniola/Puerto Rico, with communication between the two through ritualized astral projections and summonings.
In 1635, after the Karankawa on Malhado were wiped out, the school was consolidated in the Florida Everglades under Seminole wizard Micanopy Holata and it retains an alligator mascot in his honor. In 1722, the school was moved to the boundary between the Creek and Cherokee nations, where Peachtree Creek meets the Chattahoochee River, in order to escape further contact with growing numbers of European colonists in Florida. This strategy worked for a century, until settlers arrived in the area that would become Atlanta in 1822. With the influx of colonial mages, the school was renamed Magnolia Sun, took its present form, and magical wards and protections were placed upon it to hide it from Mundanes. There it remained until 1864, when it became obscured by the powerful time- and distance-altering magic that it retains to this day. Now, without explanation or discernible sequence, the school rotates locations from Savannah, St. Augustine, Havana, San Juan, and Barbados. It has been known to visit Bimini, the home of the “Fountain of Youth” or Healing Hole, but only once per generation, with the current generational visit yet to come.
The stone school is nestled among cypresses and mangroves, covered with Spanish Moss and decorated with gargoyles, dragons, wyverns, peryton, sylphs, and other winged creatures. It resembles a large mausoleum, with intricate wrought iron fencing and balustrades. Inside, it has a gilded baroque style that rivals Versailles, and it is rumored that some of the mirrors are portals to the spirit world. The central great hall is in the Seminole chickee architectural style, paying homage to the school’s beginnings. The school exists in both the land and the water, both saline and fresh, in a liminal state between past and future. It is a waystation on the journey to becoming a wizard, a bastion of knowledge and secrets that can be decoded by those willing to enter its halls. The school is shrouded in secrecy and fiercely protective of its traditions. It is rumored that the school’s current Principal, Demian Delaroche, is quasi-immortal, in that his interactions with the students, faculty, and staff occur across time. Students arrive at the school by wyverns, either carried in a basket clutched in the wyvern claws, or, depending upon one’s facility with the dangerous and unpredictable art of wyvern wrangling, may ride upon the back or pilot a wyvern to ferry other students in the basket.
Students at Magnolia Sun undergo an initiation where they are expected to confront an aspect of their own mortality and inevitable death. This is known as Près ki Mouri and can be through a merely coincidental near-death experience, or a confrontation with a ghost of another student or faculty member, or, because of the flexible state that the school occupies within time, a student witnessing their own advanced aging or even their own demise. No faculty member or student supervises or initiates this rite of passage; it is a mere consequence of being a student at the school. Its severity, duration, or timing is completely different from student to student. All that is known is that it will happen. Generally when least expected. Some say that the students do die, and then return to life. The school retains a Master Healer who specializes in summonings, artifacts, and hoodoo magic to assist students when this rite of passage occurs. A requirement after surviving this experience is to chronicle it in the school’s books, and the library is full of journals dating back to the school’s founding, some of them in the forbidden section.
Magnolia Sun’s signature movement and flirtation with time began in 1864, coinciding with General William Tecumseh Sherman’s burning of Atlanta and March to the Sea. While Sherman led the mundane Union armies in their quest to cripple the Confederates’ ability to feed their armies and transport goods, Dark Wizard Thanatos Akeldama, an entrenched Wizard from Mississippi, in an ironic twist of fate chose to cache himself with the Union army in pursuit of his grudge against Magnolia Sun Principal Parthena Cloudbourne. Akeldama, an Unsoiled Heritage purist and white supremacist, was angered at Cloudborne’s recent policy of admitting children of African slaves who exhibited magical powers, and of naming a West African Wizard to the faculty. Foiled in his attempts to take over the governance of the school, Akeldama vowed to destroy it. Using forbidden necromantic rituals, Akeldama reanimated the corpses of fallen soldiers and created an army of revenants, which he controlled using various names of power. These revenants relentlessly attacked the school in its original location outside of Atlanta, and were only narrowly repelled by a team of Magnolia Sun faculty and students, but not before Principal Cloudbourne herself, two faculty members, and four students were killed in the attack. This event, known as the Martyrdom of the Seven, led to the invoking of the time-magic and the movement of the school itself in order to protect the student body and escape Akeldama’s Revenant Army. Gathering corpses from the Union and Confederate battles and skirmishes, Akeldama and his army continued to pursue the school, now under the leadership of Moman Pengembara, as it slipped in and out of the present and journeyed to the Georgia Coast. It is believed that Sherman’s route on his March to the Sea was mapped out in part by Akeldama, in order to chase the school.
Eventually, Akeldama was undone partly by his own pride. At Savannah, with the Magnolia Sun school safely in a liminal zone, Akeldama was confronted by a group of Marshals assembled from Destiny, Mishipeshu, and Solaris and aided, strangely, by certain vampire clans who did not approve of Akeldama’s assaults on the dead. This battle was the first tested use of the Haitian Creole spell Insandigé which proved particularly potent and powerful against the Revenants. Akeldama witnessed his army succumbing to the onslaught of fire and heat spells, and decided to give his name in a necromantic ritual, in an attempt to wrest more power and control. Instead, the spirit entities assumed power over him, and immediately destroyed him. With a great burst of flame and a roar heard as far north as Quebec, Akeldama vanished and the Revenants fell as corpses. Principal Pengambara put a series of wards and protections on the school, and -- for the first time in the school’s history and an event that has never been replicated since -- cancelled end of term exams.
Magnolia Sun students are divided into three regiments, each corresponding to an astrological positioning of time and distance. This selection process is done in the school’s circular great hall, by an enchanted telescope that is mounted to the side walls and accessible to the night sky when the chickee thatched roof is opened. A student sits in the chair beneath the telescope and peers through the lens. The telescope slowly rotates around the room until it stops in a particular position and delivers a specific right ascension, declination, and meridian, which determines their placement. While staring into the lens as the telescope makes its calculations, the students are shown movement across time and space, premonitions and memories, and some glimpse foreshadowing of their own Près ki Mouri.
There are many wealthy families in Solaris, and the school retains a tradition known as the Ring Dance, which takes place in the spring just prior to graduation. In a lavish affair, the school’s baroque hall is decorated with thousands of candles, and enchanted harps, lutes, and pianoforte play as each female student, dressed in an exquisite gown and wearing family jewels, descends the grand staircase on the arm of her father or designated family escort. Male students, dressed in their finest dress robes and wearing tokens of their family business and heritage, particularly expensive and rare magical artifacts, make their descent on the arm of their mother, who has been preparing for this day since her son’s birth. Each student’s name, heritage, family connections, regiment, accomplishments, and future plans is read aloud, to the admiration and applause of the provincial officials, faculty, and families. At the foot of the staircase, each student is presented with their Magnolia Sun class ring -- if they have been able to pre-purchase it. For Mundane Born students, this event causes great consternation, since their families are not able to attend the exclusive affair. Often Mundane Born students are accompanied by a faculty mentor, or they pair up to accompany each other. Lately, Mundane Born alumni of the school return each spring to escort Mundane Born students, and a group has been formed to help these students obtain regalia and bijoux to at least make a passable presentation at the Dance. Students have experienced their Près ki Mouri at this event several times over the school’s history, with what appears to be a growing propensity to do so.