Paragon Of Destruction 102 Answers

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"The Shadowflame Society was founded thousands of years ago," Snowcloud began, "by a powerful mage known as the Saint of Shadows. He was the one who created the Society's secret teachings — the True Path — and armed with his techniques, his followers built the Shadowflame Society into a powerful sect, dedicated to advancing their knowledge of magic.

"At the time, there were many other such groups in the Empire. Although sometimes conflicts occurred between them, they mostly co-existed peacefully, and their power strengthened the Empire, allowing the Imperial Family to expand it until its borders stretched so far it would take years just to travel from one end of the Empire to the other.

"Among the sects, there was one that stood above the others. Known as the Radiant Society, it had techniques and spells that surpa.s.sed anything the other sects knew. When the Radiant Society announced that it would create an alliance to further the study of magic, many of the Empire's sects were eager to join.

"This alliance became known as the Radiant Academy. At first, it only used the promise of powerful magic techniques to lure in other groups. Yet as it grew stronger, it began to attack less powerful sects, forcing them to join and destroying those that refused.

"Four of the strongest sects, which later became known as the Great Societies, resisted the Academy's threats, and a war broke out. The war lasted for centuries, but eventually, the Great Societies were driven to the edge of the Empire.

"Faced with the prospect of being driven from the Empire altogether, they came to an agreement with the Academy: while the Academy would control the use of magic within the Empire, the Great Societies would protect its borders.

"Without opposition in the Empire, the Academy quickly tightened its grip over the use of magic. It began to recruit anyone with even the slightest bit of magical talent, drawing talented youths in with the promise of training. Yet only its most loyal members were allowed to learn its true secrets, while the ma.s.ses were kept ignorant and weak.

"Meanwhile, the Academy began to hunt those who practiced types of magic it deemed forbidden — techniques, spells, and even some Realms were outlawed, and mages who possessed them imprisoned or executed. This allowed the Academy to extinguish any threats to its power long before they ever even had the chance to develop.

"Today, only the Imperial Family and the major clans still manage to resist the Academy's control within the Empire — and only because the Academy knows that an attack on one means war with all."

The story at an end, Snowcloud let out a deep breath.

"And that," she said after a moment, "is how the current situation came to be."

Arran spent some moments silently thinking it over. The story had been long and there was a lot to process, but the more he thought about it, the less sense it made. From what Snowcloud told him, it sounded like the Academy intentionally kept its own members weak.


"But that doesn't explain anything," he said finally. "Why would they prevent their own mages from growing strong?"

"From what I understand, much of the Academy only exists to draw in the Empire's young mages and steer them toward weakness," Snowcloud replied. "Most of its members are more like unknowing prisoners than true members, and by taking them in and thwarting their growth, the Academy can prevent them from ever becoming a threat."

"But what use is there in keeping their own members weak?" Arran asked.

"Sheep are easier to herd than tigers," she said with a shrug. "If all the Academy's mages reached their full potential, the Academy would never be able to control them. And from what I know, what the Academy truly wants is to maintain complete control and order within the Empire."

"The Shadowflame Society manages to maintain order without rules like theirs, doesn't it?"

Snowcloud laughed. "As we speak, the Sixth Valley is on the verge of civil war. You call that order?"

"I suppose not," Arran admitted. "But if the Academy intentionally keeps its mages weak, don't they know about it?"

"The older members probably know the truth, or at least suspect it," she said. "But what can they do? Disobeying the Academy means death, and they are too weak to rebel. And if they remain loyal, the Academy might eventually deem them worthy of learning its true secrets."

"So it's like a trap for magic users?" Arran asked, a frown on his face. "The Academy lures in anyone with the potential to become a mage, then ensures they remain weak enough to control?"

Snowcloud nodded. "You could put it that way."

Although Arran thought he understood, there were still things about it that made little sense. "If the Academy intentionally leaves its members weak, won't it fall behind the Great Societies?"

"The Academy's most loyal and talented members are taught its true secrets," Snowcloud said. "And because the Academy draws its members from the entire Empire, their numbers still dwarf those of the Great Societies. At the same time, the Societies lose many members each year defending the borders, while the Academy only grows stronger."

Arran sighed in frustration. "But why? What's the point? What do they gain from all this?"

"That, I do not know," Snowcloud replied. "All I know is that they will stop at nothing to maintain control of magic users within the Empire. But to what end… that's anyone's guess."

"And everyone in the Shadowflame Society knows about this?"

"Of course not," she answered with a laugh. "I know because Grandfather told me, but most of it is unknown to all but the Elders of the Society. If everyone knew about the extent of the conflict, many within the Society would call for war against the Academy — even if it's a war we would have no chance of winning."

"If it's a secret, why tell me?" Arran asked with a frown. He had not expected Snowcloud to share secrets only the Shadowflame Elders knew.

"Because I promised you answers," she said plainly. "And after you chose to risk your life by traveling with me, offering you lies or half-truths would be poor repayment."

Arran sat in silence for a while, thinking about all she had told him, and how it related to his own experiences with the Academy. Now, he understood that the Academy members he had faced must be the weak ones — the ones who had been lured into taking a path designed to stifle them.

Thinking back on his time with Panurge, he also thought he understood at least part of the Academy's motivations.

With nearly all of the Empire's mages bound to the Academy, it would be extremely difficult for the forces of Chaos to gain a foothold within the Empire. And if the Great Societies protected the borders, then the Academy could reserve its true strength for when it was needed.

"Do you know anything about the war between Chaos and Order?" he finally asked.

Snowcloud gave him a blank look. "The what?"

"I once heard that there is a war between the forces of Chaos and Order, with the Academy standing on the side of Order, while Chaos reigns beyond the border."

"That sounds like an old wives' tale," Snowcloud said dismissively. "Rumors about the Academy abound among commoners within the Empire — no doubt encouraged by the Academy itself, to help muddle the truth."

Arran nodded. Although he knew she was wrong, he didn't trust her enough to tell her everything he had experienced. Not yet, at least. Besides, even if he did tell her, he doubted she would believe him.

Still, he felt some guilt at hiding things from her after she had revealed so much, and he quickly decided to change the subject.

"So those techniques that make Shadowflame mages so strong… what are they?" he asked, only partly feigning the eagerness in his voice.

"We will begin your training tomorrow," Snowcloud said, smiling in amus.e.m.e.nt at his enthusiasm. "You will find out then. But first, you should focus on recovering completely — I can tell your body is still weak from our journey."

Arran did as she said, closing his eyes as he began to use Body Refinement techniques. If he was to set his first steps on the True Path tomorrow, he would make sure he would be ready.

Paragon Of Destruction 102 Answers

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Paragon Of Destruction 102 Answers summary

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