Chronicles of Eorde
The city-state of Aelwyne is primarily known throughout the Tarkenian Regions as the home of the Bardic Halls, the largest known library on the continent and home to the bards’ colleges. It is also the smallest of all the city-states.
The Bardic Halls
The famed Bardic Halls of Aelwyne are known throughout the region as the greatest treasure trove of accessible knowledge on Eorde. All are welcome to come and peruse the stacks, as long as the entry fee is paid and the rules are strictly followed.
The librarians are formidable watchers and any who would abuse their precious charges are ejected with no remorse. If any actual damage occurs (whether through carelessness or intention), the individual is barred from the Halls until they pay for repairs, replace the injured tome, or bring a contribution of equal or greater value (as judged by the librarians).
The bardic colleges also reside within the Halls. Student hopefuls must demonstrate their talents before a review made up of the current elected Board. If the potential student can pass the tests given by the Board, they must then provide payment for the semester. This payment is different for every student, nominally based upon their talent and means. Students must not only pay for their teaching, but for food, supplies, and lodgings. It is not unheard of for some members of the Board to set the price higher than a potential or current student can likely pay in response to personal feelings, but this is never spoken aloud.
While the system does show favoritism to some, overall, it does produce students of unquestionable talent and, in some cases, true bards of legends, able to create magic with their songs. Some students will leave to go the the Mage Academy in Stonehill. Those who finish their courses in full often rise to positions of prestige among other city-states, or go on to teach in the Halls. Such graduates, however, are rather few due to the rising costs and increased scrutiny they endure as they learn.
The residents of Aelwyne pride themselves on their unusually strong sense of community. Outsiders and late immigrants to the city-state often feel not quite welcome, in a sense. This primarily comes from the way in which many of the citizens of Aelwyne raise their children… in the kybus.
The kybus is a term used to describe the communal homes a child is sent to when they turn 3 years old (in human terms… the equivalent is used for the longer lived races). In the kybus, the children are separated into smaller groups of 3-5, usually mixed sex, class, and race, if possible (though some of the more “pretigious” kybus homes are too expensive for those not of wealthy families). Most kybuses are provided funds from taxes and charitable contributions, allowing virtually all citizens (of the middle class and higher) of Aelwyne to send their children to the communal homes.
They sleep, eat, bathe and go to classes with their sub-group. As the group grows older, they are allowed to choose a name for themselves, which becomes a surname (in addition to their family name).
The parents of the children in kybus are allowed to see their progeny for 3-4 hours every day (if possible) through the child’s seventh year at the home. As a child grows older, their interactions with their parents lessen to reinforce their ties to the community over blood ties.
This does not mean that those raised in the kybus do not have love for their families, both from blood and the communal home. But, the overarching ideals of community and service to the whole are reinforced throughout the kybus education. Due to the proximity of the Bardic Halls, the classics and humanities are emphasized, but individual talents are encouraged and noted. Once a child has finished their seventh year at kybus, they are evaluated in a series of tests for their next step… apprenticeships or further schooling (usually the latter is for the nobility and some wealthy merchant families).
This unique system has created a culture that is very close knit and has a remarkable mingling of classes (middle, merchant, and nobility). Though the lower classes perform similar communal raising of children, their education is still lacking. However, they also hold community up as an ideal.
The city-state enjoys a heightened state of nationalism amongst its citizenry… however, this often leads to a feeling of exclusion among thsoe who were not a part of the system of kybusism. In some extreme cases, this has led to violence with visitors and other city-states.