I am writing this, aware that it will be long, and probably of limited interest to most. It is here as much for my records as for anything else. But, if you decide to read it and persist, I hope that it is of some interest.
The Skala family are a witchard family that first rose to prominence in the 10th century in Slovakia, then part of Great Moravia. The witch, Skala, assisted Grand Prince Geza of Hungary to annex Moravian lands for his formative Hungarian Empire. She and her family were given responsibility for the safekeeping and development of Devin castle, a fortification that controlled the trade routes along the Danube and the Amber Road. This lucrative position allowed the fledgling dynasty to become extremely rich.
Early on, the political situation in their homeland was fluid and prone to change. Consequently, much of the early family’s focus was on retaining their position and power. They became intimately involved in the mundane politics of the area in an attempt to ensure their security. For the next few centuries, they continued to serve the local rulers, always staying one step down from the top, but making use of the magic to secure the family’s future first and the good of the kingdom second.
As the politics of the area settled, so their activities were able to become more directed towards magical security and away from temporal security. They sought a way to prolong their lives through magic. Progress was slow, and oftimes frustrating, and little progress was made. The irony seemed to be that the practical research required the accumulation of many lives understanding, and written and verbal records just weren’t sufficient to enable strides to be made.
Vasili Skala, in 1415, developed a plan to deal with the issue. He created, through ritual, a wand. This wand, which could only be wielded by a Skala, gave access to the knowledge of the generations that had gone before. Through the use of the wand, a bond would be formed between the present generation and the family members that had preceded them and the family research would be continued. The wand was passed from firstborn to firstborn, at the age of majority (14 years old). What Vasili had not counted on was the persistence of a segment of the personality of his forebears being able to retain a place in the wand, and that through the wand they might be able to exert influence upon the wielder. The spirits of the firstborn would never enter the wand, instead, only the siblings would do so.
Down the years, the family research inched closer to success. Often the family would take advantage of upheaval in the mundane world to harvest subjects for their longevity experiments. This occasionally got them into trouble, and led to the Skala name being less than well regarded and with a reputation for mundane interference. Interference during the second world war led to the family going into hiding for the post war period, staying with their old relatives the Zoransky family, and prompting a long friendship between Vyga Zoransky and Marek Skala.
Things started to change with the rise of Marek Skala. Marek was the younger brother of Ivana Skala, and as such never inherited the family wand. He shared the family interest in longevity, and made a breakthrough in 1973. He was called in by a local conflux, Nitra, to assist with the rooting out of a nest of Vampires. One of the vampires was a turned witchard named Cassius Von Hagens, whose field of expertise was longevity.
Marek Skala and the head of the Nitra conflux, Slavan Kopecky, acquired Cassius’ notes and used them to develop a means of extending their lives. The method, developed over some years, involved using a child as a “vessel” into which they could place their consciousness. This child, who needed to be in early adulthood, was more suitable if they had little strong emotional response. A ritual could be performed, killing the subject and placing their mind into a potion, which could then be administered to the vessel, whose mind would be destroyed and replaced by the parent.
Once he was confident that the ritual would work, Marek Skala set about preparing a vessel. He sired a son, Solomon, who he began grooming early for the role. When his wife discovered the plan and objected to it, Marek bound her and set fire to the house, holding a 4 year old Solomon up to watch as his mother died. Despite the trauma and early years cruelty, Solomon was a gentle child and loved magical creatures of all sorts, wanting to become a Cryptozoologist like his mother.
Soon after, Slavan Kopecky let slip the nature of their work to one of his business partners, Barius Grim. Seeing an opportunity, Barius did some digging, discovered the truth about Sol’s mother’s death and used the information to blackmail Marek into bringing him in on the knowledge. Barius begun to prepare his eldest daughter, Lenore, as his vessel.
Solomon was still young when his aunt was killed by Cwn Annwn (dogs that can sense and hunt down unnaturally extended life) whilst in Wales. During the time he and his father were at the reserve, he became close friends with Glynn Morgan and especially Rhiannon Llywelyn. He and Rhia stayed in touch as penpals until her arrival at Czocha.
At age 14, Solomon inherited the family wand. A combination of his father and the Skala family wand spirits forced him to change path away from his cryptozoologist leanings and onto the path of the guardian. He was regularly beaten and abused by his father and his governess, and forced to unusual acts of cruelty himself. His only friend at the family home was the cook, Monsieur Roux.
When the Lander rebellion occurred, Sol was at Nibelungen. Like Glynn, he had to act to save Witchards from the predations of the werewolves. The key action occurred when Solomon and three of his close student friends took it upon themselves to try and rescue a group of very young witchard children captured by the werewolves. Their plan was naive and foolish and went wrong quickly. One of his friends was dismembered, and Sol would have died also, had the wand spirits not intervened. They gave him the courage and ability to defeat two of the attacking werewolves, one of whom was the alpha of the notorious Foley pack, Seosamh Foley’s father (though this fact was unknown to Sol).
Lauded as a hero after the event, the traumatised Solomon lashed out at a local werewolf family, tricking the young daughter into condemning herself and her father in front of a witchard court and having the whole family imprisoned. Afterwards he felt incredibly guilty about this act, but could never bring himself to apologise.
Also at Nibelungen, Solomon discovered a fondness for helping others. When young Skadi Grim came to the school, traumatised somewhat by her experiences at Avalon, Solomon became a surrogate big brother to her; guarding her from bullies, listening to her sing and offering kind words and a shoulder when needed. Something in Skadi reminded him of his mother, and a deep abiding bond between the two was formed. He also did similar for Alise Trolleberg, who also was to join Czocha later.
He started to formulate a theory that the Mundanes and mundane society were a threat to Witchards, and began to think of a way to solve the issue. He decided that the best way was to set Witchards in positions of power within the mundane world, to ensure that the mundane cattle could be herded appropriately. He thought that by doing so, he would save witchard society from inevitable destruction.
When he moved to Czocha, he did the same for some of his fellows there, always willing to find the time to listen to their problems and offer advice when needed. With the wisdom of the wand Skalas he was popular and well liked, even though sometimes his smile seemed to cover some deeper hurt.
Foremost amongst the friends that he made was Devon Callahan, the young mundaneborn witchard. As unlikely as it was, the hexborn aristocrat and the foul-mouthed orphan girl became firm friends; all of it based around honesty, a willingness to really listen to one another and a determination to never let the world know how they felt about one another. When he drank, the spirits in the wand had a harder time controlling him, and thus the bond was forged between Sol and Devon over many beers.
As Solomon matured, his father tried to manipulate things around him to ensure that Sol would be in the best possible place politically when the mind swap occurred. Therefore he brokered a marriage to Belinda Fay, then prefect of Faust. The two were engaged and all was well, until Marek discovered that they were falling in love. As the emotional entanglement put his plan at risk, he resolved to find a way to end the relationship. This came when Skadi arrived at Czocha.
Belinda Fay could not be seen a the start of term ball with a Sophomore, even one she genuinely loved, and so she and Sol arranged to go separately. Unbeknownst to anyone, Lenore Grim had received visions about Solomon and about how he might come to rule over parts of both witchard and mundane worlds. She had Skadi act as intermediary to ask Solomon to the ball. The closer she got to him, the more she became convinced that he was destined for great things, and that it was her role to guide him.
This gave Marek the excuse he needed, and much to Solomon’s horror he broke off the engagement to Belinda and instructed his son to seek a relationship with Lenore Grim instead. At first, Sol hated the idea, but over time he got used to it, and as things progressed he grew to love Lenore even more than he ever had Belinda. Given that they had a very restrained relationship, this love was never vocalised and so Marek never realised the danger that it posed to his plans.
The relationship suited Barius as well. Understanding that he would be in his daughter’s body soon enough, he could see the advantage to an alliance between the families, even though it meant marrying Marek’s vessel. He subtly encouraged the relationship between the two.
All was well until earlier in the year, when Slavan Kopecky discovered that his daughter, who was to be his vessel was actually someone else’s daughter to one of his wife’s indiscretions. Realising that his dream of longevity was over, he decided to get revenge on Barius for the blackmail. Acting via a third party he tried to have Barius arrested for breaches of the treaty. Barius had both his accuser and Slavan killed. Barius then accused Marek of colluding with Slavan, and when the responses he received were not clear enough, he also had Marek Skala killed. Disgraced (unfairly) Czocha Necromancy teacher Vyga Zoransky, as friend of Marek started to investigate.
Marek’s soul gradually went to the wand, leaving nothing for Devon, in her capacity as psychopomp, to carry over at the funeral. She and Lenore also began to investigate, as Solomon was arrested by the guardians during the funeral.
After his arrest and subsequent release Solomon concluded that he needed to start building himself a power base within the Guardians. Therefore he bought himself an internship with the guardians of the Luban conflux, the one nearest Czocha. Whilst there, he asked Lenore to handle the investigation into the death of his family on his behalf.
The internship coincided with the super moon, and the following morning a mundane child was found killed. Sol and the team investigated and eventually traced the murder to the door of a 12 year old cousin of the Foleys. They began to trace his whereabouts.
Solomon also found himself caught up in an ancient prophecy that foretold the rebirth of Sendivogius. This resurrection would be opposed by someone called the Prophet and in order to save the reborn spirit from the prophet, five “Protectors” were chosen, one from each Czocha house. Sol was the Durentius protector, and Lenore was the “Seer”, having visions to help guide them on their way. The suggestion being that Sendivogius would bring about a new world order and so Solomon and Lenore conspired to prevent the fulfillment of his resurrection, whilst also conspiring to kill the prophet when he arrived. To this end, Solomon cut a deal with the prophet’s supporters to step aside and let the prophet kill Sendivogius, in exchange for desperately needed information and an assurance that when the dust settled both Devon and Lenore would be left alone by them.
On the friday evening before returning to school, Solomon went drinking with Rayford, Hope and Devon. During their drinking session Devon discovered the truth about the wand and its spirits, and Sol’s friends conducted a negotiation with the spirits. The spirits agreed to give Solomon the opportunity to be rid of them, as his friends wanted, in exchange for an agreement that if he chose to keep them, they would be owed a favour from each of the students. They agreed not to interfere with Solomon’s choice.
On the tuesday before school restarted, Solomon and the Luban investigators travelled to the Foley family home in Ireland. There they tried to arrest the Foley cousin, were attacked and ended up killing most all of the werewolves. The entire confrontation was a sorry mess, with bloodshed inevitable. Seosamh Foley made the first move, but Solomon’s reaction was born out of fear of the lycanthropes and he acted swiftly, and with little empathy for them. Seo died still mind controlled by Solomon and attacking his own family.
Arriving back at Czocha at the start of his senior year, Sol shared the prefect duties for House Durentius with Parker Hartmann, his direct opposite. As fun as he was serious, as frivolous as he was composed, the two of them made an excellent team. Together they led their house into the castle for the start of a new year, the rooster song echoing around the castle.
The first night back at Czocha was filled with House meetings and then the traditional back to school party in the Tavern. With sorting cupcakes, pinatas representing the other houses, and a DJ, the Durentius party was easily the finest that the castle had to offer. Solomon spent a lot of his time catching up with people that he had missed over the holidays, and conducting duties as a prefect and meeting the new Juniors.
He managed to snatch some time with Lenore, and explained to her about the wand and about Foley’s death. She felt the wand situation not worth talking about, in her opinion the choice was plain, it should be kept. As for the death of Foley, she was pleased and congratulated Solomon.
There was a meeting of the group in which he had become entangled, to discuss the prophecies of the return of Sendivogius. Little was resolved, save that any option that the external forces wished would benefit the students’ aims.
After this, the prefects patrolled, and Solomon chose to patrol with Devon, using the opportunity to tell her about Foley. Despite her horror at what he had done, she offered some words of comfort. Unfortunately, they were overheard by Glynn and Sol ended up having to explain to him and then most of the other prefects what had happened. Glynn, despite his ties to Rhia, was very supportive of Sol’s actions and they agreed to tell their friend together, after she had been sorted into Sendivogius. They hoped that this would provide her with more support when the bad news broke. Noelle, the werewolf Molin prefect who had once been Seo’s girlfriend, took the news predictably badly, sufficiently so that her fellow prefect erased the memory of the conversation.
The following morning, Sol was approached by Liv-Runa and Skadi Grim with the news that they had discovered a copy of Marek’s longevity ritual. Having read it they realised that this meant that either Lenore was unaware of it, and would need to be warned, or she was a part of it and complicit in her father’s acts. Furthermore, they were pretty certain that Barius had killed Marek (Skadi had overheard much of their arguing); and that it was possible that Lenore had also been involved in this.
Solomon sought out Lenore to try and resolve the truth. When he asked her about the death of his father and what she knew, she answered with “Not enough, yet”. He did not take this well, and left her alone for much of the rest of the day.
Solomon felt cut off and alone for most of the Friday. Luckily there was much to distract him, with Junior sorting the most important order of business. He and Parker had resolved to take the Juniors that they felt most needed to be in Durentius, rather than those that garnered most points. He was inclined to take his frustration at events out on the Juniors, but Parker managed to moderate him and the sorting went relatively well. The House had been leading the cup earlier in the day, but with the Juniors that they had chosen, Sol knew that they would fall right back. Nonetheless the looks on the faces of their fellow House members when it was heard that they had slipped to second last place really hurt Sol.
After the sorting, initiations. Parker was unwell, so Solomon had to coordinate some of it on his own. Luckily Cordelia Spunktrumpet, one of the seniors who had worked a great deal on the initiations prior to term start, was on hand to help. Between them, they managed to get it done, and then everyone adjourned to the tavern.
Soon after, Sol bumped into the tail end of the Libussa initiation. Otto, at the head of the column, told him that Lenore needed his help as she was not well. Ana, at the rear of the column, told him the same. He decided that however angry he might be with her, if both prefects felt that she needed him, that he had best go and find her. Together with Ana Fay, he went looking for her.
They found her on the lower bridge, and there Sol and Lenore talked. They talked about her thoughts on taking the potion that would allow her father to transfer into her body, and they talked about her thoughts on giving herself to the Grim web to be its new spider. She was considering a pact with Rasputin, the existing spider to replace him. Either one would mean losing Lenore and Sol spoke at length about leadership and how Lenore was needed for her family. She again urged him to keep the wand, expressing disappointment that he would even consider giving it away.
Soon after a meeting was called with the entire Grim family and their respective associates. Lenore, Raiden, Skadi, Liv-Runa and Rune were joined by Professors Fray, Artemis, Ikonomopolous and Solomon. They addressed Lenore on her plans for her father’s soul and she agreed to do nothing with it.
Solomon and Lenore spoke about Raiden’s madness, and Lenore asked Solomon to bring Rayford and Devon to the dungeon shortly after midnight. When he did so, they discovered Raiden in the midst of a ritual to summon Rasputin and to have Nova Blackwater embody the Grim web. Lenore stepped in and told Rasputin that their pact bound him from acting, and that she would go to the web the following evening. Solomon acted to ensure no danger to Lenore, by entering the mind of Raiden and discerning his intentions, which by this point were simply survival.
After the furore around Raiden’s ritual had died down and he had been dragged off to the Guardians by Rayford; Sol and Lenore talked again. This time, Sol knew that she had already made the deal with Rasputin, and was utterly devastated. Despite that, he knew that arguing with her would get nowhere, and so instead, quietly and with sincerity, he agreed to help her do whatever it was that she felt was right. Lenore was clearly conflicted and admitted that she had made the agreement ahead of realising how she felt about Solomon.
They met Skadi outside and they explained to her what Lenore had planned. The conversation was long and heartfelt, but Solomon pledged to always be there for Skadi, no matter what might come.
Solomon and Lenore talked a little about the pact, and she suggested that there might be room to renegotiate the terms. Sol took this to heart and resolved to find a way to renegotiate the terms that might allow them a chance at happiness.
The following morning he convened a meeting with Skadi, Liv-Runa and Rune, where they talked about the possibilities to amend the pact terms. They talked about using Barius’ soul as the new spider instead of Lenore’s, but decided that a web controlled by Barius was too hideous to contemplate. Instead Sol proposed that in exchange for delaying the journey of Lenore to the Web until she died naturally, he would join the Skala family to the web now and forevermore. He himself would hear the whispers and become a part of it when he died.
Despite some misgivings, the family agreed that it was the best chance that they had. Solomon sought out Raiden to ask his permission also, and in the most honest conversation they had had, Sol explained the plan. Raiden agreed with it, and told Solomon that he felt as though Sol was a better brother to the Grims than he himself had been.
Sol put the proposal to Lenore, who after consideration agreed. They arranged to meet Rasputin on the bridge before the ball and put the proposal to him.
During the demonology lesson on Saturday, Solomon had the chance to ask questions of a pair of servants of the archangel Michael. He asked them what the key to the hearts of mundanes was, and also the way to dominion over the mundane world. Their answers were recorded for future use. He also quizzed them on the effects of manipulating the souls of others, with regard to one’s own soul.
Barius Grim’s enforcer, Eve, arrived with a final letter from her father to Lenore along with the potion containing his soul. She passed the potion to her prefect, Otto, for safekeeping.
The meeting with Rasputin occurred and he demanded more than the students were offering, one year of Devon Calahan linked to the web. After some discussion she accepted, and the deal was struck. Lenore would only go to the web when she died of natural causes.
With her immediate future safe, Solomon took Lenore to one side, and finally told her that he loved her. She confessed that she loved him too, and he asked her to marry him. She agreed. They went into the Ball together, and shared the news with their friends and family. For a short while they were happy.
Later the Sendivogius prophecy came to fruition, and despite the spirit of Sendivogius being within Devon, when the time came to protect her, he stepped away. The prophet, resident within Raiden, was defeated nonetheless; killing Raiden Grim in the process. Solomon observed it all as an outsider, but was there to comfort the Grims when it was done. They reiterated that he was a part of the family, and together they re-entered the castle.
House Durentius finished fourth in the house cup, despite having been leading at lunchtime on Saturday. Solomon gave his (not) losing speech, and stepped back, ready to continue his work.