Path to Palestra
Path to Palestra is an Official GemStone IV Document, and it is protected from editing.
My hands reach for a small scroll tucked away on a top shelf in my library. Gently caressing the parchment, I close my eyes and let my mind wander. I can still see the day I first passed through the doors of the academy.
Trying to wait patiently, my short legs swung back and forth, causing my boot clad feet to make a dull *thud* against the stone legs of the bench I had been commanded to sit on. My father turned towards me and stared with a stern expression. I immediately stilled, but it only lasted for a moment. Soon my backside was wiggling in the hard seat. I gazed towards the doors that lead further inside the academy, the place where my future was to be decided, where I would begin the path to my ultimate destiny.
Blinking, I open my eyes and unroll the ancient document. Glancing over the words, I remind myself of the history it contained and fondly remember teaching the newly accepted.
Three Major Academies of the Palestra
Seeing the potential and the danger of researching and summoning demons, Ondreian Shamsiel Faendryl, Patriarch XVII, established the Palestra, an elite force of Faendryl warrior designed to protect sorcerers as they delved beyond the mists in their demonic research. With the rule of Patriarch Rythwier Sukari Faendryl, we see the building of New Ta'Faendryl. It was during this time that the three major academies of Palestra training were founded. Their purpose: to balance the power of the sorcerer by training exceptionally skilled warriors who specialize in demonology.
The symbol of the Palestra is a triskele. It is a motif consisting of three interlocked spirals extending from the center of the symbol. The three branches stand for strength of heart, strength of mind, and strength of spirit. Palestra graduating from the great academies are awarded a lor triskele set with three gold-veined scarlet despanal, and the name of the school engraved along the back along with, "Our discipline rules all worlds."
Four Lesser Academies
Over time, it became apparent that the Palestra academies could not keep up with the demand for Palestra-trained warriors. Graduation took a long time, and in the end, few would reach that achievement. Most of those who did graduate took positions as trainers within the Basilica, or within houses of the wealthy, well known of Faendryl society. In response, Korvath Dardanus Faendryl, XXXIX Faendryl Patriarch, commissioned what was to be known as the lesser Palestra academies. While these schools trained excellent warriors, the requirements for graduation were not as rigid as in the greater academies. As a result, Palestra-trained bodyguards were made readily available to the common sorcerer.
Upon graduating, a Palestra of the lesser academies, except Mahkra, are awarded a lor triskele inset with three wine-veined scarlet despanal. Those candidates that do not fit into any of the greater or forenamed lesser academies are usually admitted to Mahkra, named for Elizhabet Mahkra Faendryl, sister to Thanris Akeleyn Faendryl, Patriarch XVI, who lost her sanity when she pierced the veil. These graduates tend to wander the lands, taking jobs where they can find them. They are awarded a lor triskele inset with three ebon-veined scarlet despanal. All the symbols bear the same engraving as the greater academies.
Acceptance into an academy can be granted at any age, although most candidates enter while still a youth. Once a month, academies open their doors to candidates. While there, the candidates are tested for strengths and weaknesses, and evaluated for their potential level of abilities. If accepted, the candidate begins training immediately. If declined, the candidate is sent away. If the candidate is rejected by a greater academy, they may apply to a lesser, but no other greater academy will take them, and it is unlikely they would survive a subsequent, more rigorous testing.'
Once a Faendryl enters an academy for training, the initiate takes part in a ritual to shed their family name. The process represents their unwavering dedication and loyalty to their training, and ultimately, their academy class becomes their new family. Even so, families take pride when one of their own is accepted into one of the greater academies, and will acknowledge them as an honored member. Many families will train their children from a young age in preparation for the Palestra entrance testing. While this may seem to give some candidates an edge, it has been said that the testers do not look so much at what the candidates are now, but what they have the potential to become.
Each class of Palestra takes on a symbol of their group. It is traditional to tattoo an image for their symbol somewhere visible on their body. This is one way that a Palestra will introduce themselves to other Palestra and offers assistance in determining authority and rank.
Paths of Study
All Palestra are warriors first and foremost. They train in the art of weaponry and combat, keeping a rigorous schedule. In addition to this training, they are also taught to calm and focus the mind. While their initial duty is to protect their charge, all Palestra know their ultimate duty is to protect House Faendryl at all costs, even if it means elimination of those they look over.
During their course of study, it has happened that the warrior may show a talent for magic, healing, or other non-traditional warrior skills. Classes and studies in these areas are then added to their schooling.
All Palestra are primarily trained in bladed weapons, but may add other styles of fighting as their instructors determine.
Trials of Honor
A Palestra's training may last a few decades or as long as a century. It depends on the academy and the aptitude of the student. The average time spend in the academy is about thirty years. Many students never complete their training or are removed from the academy for lack of skill, progress, or any number of other reasons, including death.
When a Palestra is ready to leave the academy, they participate in the Trials, where they are put in an arena to fight other Palestra and eventually show their skills against the demons. When the Trials are over, they are give a title of rank. This will become one of the ways a Palestra will introduce themselves to other Palestra and will help in determining authority. This will also be a bargaining tool when discussing payment with a potential client.
Most Palestra begin at the first tier of rank, Paele, although there are always exceptions. During trials, any Palestra may ask to be retried and reevaluated. If they have grown and matured in skill and training, they may be allowed to rise in rank.
Titles earned at the Trials in order from lowest to highest:
- Paele — Symbol: two clasped hands
- Peltast — Symbol: a shield
- Sarissa — Symbol: a pair of crossed spears
- Blade — Symbol: a pair of crossed blades
The Patriarch's Chosen: Fact or Fiction
It is whispered that there is a secret faction of Palestra within the organization answering only to the Patriarch. Rumors exist that they dispense his secret justice and have the power to judge and execute sentence on other Faendryl, without the approval of the Patriarch.
There is no official documentation on such a group, and if one did exist, it would surely hold its secrets close.
Faendryl society does not mention such an organization, and if asked, no one will comment on such a group. One can only assume it is a tale used to inspire students and would-be Palestra.
The Role of the Wandering Palestra
Over the years, it has become apparent that a large population of Faendryl live scattered in Elanthia, far from the center of Faendryl culture in New Ta'Faendryl. The Faendryl government has begun to recognize this group as a raw, untapped resource.
Periodically, the academies will send out trainers to search the lands for those who have the potential to be Palestra, but have not had the luxury of presenting themselves to the academy. These individuals may be given a chance to earn a place in the ranks of the Palestra through a lesser academy, if they can prove their skills and abilities are on par with their graduates. They fill an important gap in Faendryl society, by being hired as guards to those sorcerers living abroad with no access to academy-trained Palestra. Positions within the city are never offered to these Palestra. They are considered the lowest of rank, undesirable, yet necessary.
- Penned by
- Blade Jeynti Faendryl, Raven of Korthyr
My old hands let the parchment drop to the table and watch as it rolls back up on its own. Leaning back in my chair, I rub my temples with old and withered hands and let my mind travel back again to the past and my beginning as a Palestra.
The wait was tiring, and soon my eyes grew heavy and my head fell back against the cool stone wall. I dreamed of glory and demons until I awakened with a start. My head snapped forward, I heard my name called. Father looked angry and relieved at the same time. In his fluster, he missed the look on the large warrior standing by the double doors. A smirk that set me on edge. He did not believe I would pass, but I knew I would. I would be the greatest Palestra Elanthia had ever seen. Slowly, I stood and moved towards the Palestra. Glancing back at my father, I walked through the doors determined to bravely meet my future.