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The Sword Mastery Academy (
Location and Geography
The Sword Mastery Academy is located in the 5th district of North Centoria. The school campus is surrounded by fan-shaped iron fences, with large gates at the north and south side walls. Aside from the student dormitories and other school facilities, there is also a rather large and dense forest, which takes up nearly 30% of the Academy grounds and is abundant with small animals, on the east side, a slightly tall hill on the west side and a river within the campus grounds.
The Academy has its own «Bells of Time Telling» located in bell tower extending out from the roof of the main auditorium. These bells are used to tell the time in the Academy. There is also a large practice arena, libraries, trainee, instructor and elite swordsman dormitories as well as an administrative building, with an underground disciplinary room, and several other facilities within the campus.
The 120 novice trainees live in an old looking 2-story dormitory with a roof that is laid in green slate tiles. There are strict rules within this dormitory and the novice trainees must return to the dormitory by 5 pm. The novice trainee girls live on the 1st floor of the dormitory while the boys live on the 2nd floor. Trainees of commoner background have separate rooms (room 106 for girls and 206 for boys) from the nobles and rich merchants to prevent awkward interactions in the room. Each room is shared by about 10 trainees. The dormitory has its own cafeteria in the east wing and a small squarish garden of the «Four Great Holy Flowers» in the west wing, opposite the cafeteria. The garden, surrounded by tall metal fences and divided into 4 blocks of flower beds, is still considered as part of the dormitory, even though it doesn't have a roof. Each of the flower bed blocks, separated by a cross-shape pathway, is dedicated to growing either Anemones, Marigolds, Dahlias, or Catteleyas. There is also a large metal shed used for storing gardening equipment at the west end of the garden. The novice trainee dormitory is supervised by a single person, Miss Azurica, who can usually be found either at the dorm's reception or the duty office, where all the student documents are kept.
The elite swordsmen-in-training have their own private dormitory on high ground, complete with a separate bright and spacious indoors practice arena for their exclusive use beside the dormitory. The 3-story dorm is in the shape of a perfect circle, with an atrium in the middle, with the rooms forming a ring around it and the trainee rooms lined up on the outer edge in the south. The first floor of the dorm has a dining hall, reserved exclusively for the trainees and serving plentiful meals, a lounge and a large bath, where the trainees could use as much hot water as they pleased. The second and third floors have 6 residences for students each. The rooms are set up so that a single living room is shared by every 2 bedrooms. The rooms are automatically arranged based on the placement in the combined examinations of the first year, with the top-ranked trainee being assigned room 301 on the eastern-most side of the 3rd floor, while the twelfth-ranked is assigned room 206 on the western-most side of the 2nd floor.
The «Sword Mastery Academy Large Practice Field» is the Academy's main practice arena. Despite its impressive name, it is really just a large sports hall with a brightly polished white floor and 4 black-tiled square sparring arenas. The spectator stands built all around are capable of holding 260 people - enough for every student and teacher during the biggest events of the Academy, the swordsmanship examinations.
Entrance examinations are held before the beginning of a new school year in the Academy. However, even though those of common birth are able to participate in this examination, they must first obtain the recommendation letter of a city’s guard captain, which requires six months of excellent service. On the other hand, nobles do not have to meet any conditions to be able to take part in the examination. First class nobles never seem to enter the Academy, as they can afford to have their own private tutors.
During the exam, the future swordsmen have to show off their sword style performance arts which the instructors then grade. The 120 best swordsmen are accepted into the Sword Mastery Academy each year, while the 12 best of these swordsmen are additionally given the privilege of being assigned as valets for the 12 elite swordsmen-in-training that year. The elite swordsmen-in-training are allowed to choose their own valets from these 12 top trainees, with the higher ranking elites being given the right to choose their valets first. The future valets usually have no knowledge on how the choices for valet assignments were made, though they seem to be able to request for a change of mentor during the school year and may be dismissed with the instructor-in-charge and the elite trainee's consent, with a new valet being appointed to the elite trainee.
Rules and Punishment
Unlike during entrance exams, nobles aren't treated any differently from those of common birth, at least in terms of school rules, though an invisible difference does exist. For example, noble elite swordsmen-in-training traditionally choose other nobles as their valets, while the lowest class nobles and those of common birth are usually left to those who are the last to choose.
The Academy has a ridiculously long list of regulations in addition to the Taboo Index clauses, though the Taboo Index does take precedence over the Academy's rules. Known Academy rules include clauses such as not allowing to disrespect each other, forbidding entry into another student's or staff member's room without permission and prohibiting the use of Sacred Art rituals with other people as its target, even if the ritual itself is harmless.
Elite swordsmen trainees, as model students, have a so called «Punishment Right». In cases of disrespect or foolhardiness that borders breaking the Academy rules or cannot be turned a blind eye to, this right allows the elites to practically act instead of instructors and punish the guilty novice or advanced trainees based on the elite trainee's discretion. Possible punishments include cleaning the Academy premises, copying 1,000 lines of rituals, swordsmanship practice and dueling with the elite swordsman-in-training. The right is most often used in cases where a student does something that is considered as disrespectful, like ignoring a conversation directed at them, insulting another student or staining another students uniform accidentally. Although this authority is basically meant for guiding novice and advanced trainees, there is no word in the Academy rules about not being able to use this right on another elite trainee as well. It is also possible to submit a complaint to the academy management, in cases of disrespect or other infringements.
There are only 3 classes within the Academy: Law, Sacred Arts, and History as well as practical swordsmanship training. Except for rest days, lessons and practical training last from 9 am to 3 pm every day. From 3 pm to 4 pm valets have to come to their mentor’s room to either clean the room, serve their mentor personally or be their sparring partners, while the remaining novice trainees have to clean their own dorms, repair equipment or maintain the Sacred Flowers within the dorms garden. All novice trainees have a curfew from 5 pm (7 pm on rest days) and are not allowed to leave the Academy grounds, except during rest days. Although the only rule about dinner for novice trainees is to finish their meals before 7 pm they are expected not to miss the 6 pm prayers before dinner time. After dinner, the trainees have free time until 10 pm, but they are not allowed to leave the dorm during this time and, by 8 pm, the trainees are required to return to their rooms.
Unlike the novice trainee dorms, the elite trainee dorms do not have such strict rules and leaves much to the discretion of the students, for example, dinner could be taken at any time between 6 pm and 8 pm and can be eaten either in the dining hall or the student's own room.
Rest days occur only once every week and are the only days when novice trainees are allowed to leave the Academy grounds. Therefore, during such days, those students who were born in Centoria return home for the day, while most of the others head out to sightsee in town. Practical training is forbidden on such days.
Sparring matches within the Academy usually last until one of the sides is cornered, however, since the medical office of the Academy has gathered all sorts of high-priced medicine and the Academy teachers are capable of using high level Sacred Arts, «first strike» matches (meaning that the match battle would be over once one of the participants takes a blow from the opponent) are also permitted within the Academy. The only requirement for such a match to take place is for both the participants to agree to it, as this would then be regarded as an exception to the Taboo Index's clause of «Deliberately reducing other peoples' Life is not allowed». All official matches within the Academy have an instructor acting as an umpire to decide the result of the match and require the use of the Norlangarth-style during the matches as well as using wooden swords of the same priority to ensure fairness.
An Advancement Exam for novice trainees takes place at the end of the 3rd Month. This exam consists of an official spar with an instructor, style performance and a Sacred Arts exam. The swordsmen-in-training that rank from 1st to 12th in this exam become elite swordsmen-in-training and are given the privilege of having their own valets, as well as being allowed to customize the colour of their uniform and having their own separate dormitory.
Ranking examinations for elite swordsmen-in-training are held 4 times per year. The examination takes the form of an elimination tournament, similar to the Zakkaria Sword Arts Tournament, among the 12 elite swordsmen-in-training, instead of against instructors like in the Advancement Exam. During the tournament, the number of participants is reduced from 12 to 3 within 2 rounds. Then the previously highest ranked of the 3 remaining is seeded, allowing the other 2 to battle. The victor of the battle would then fight the highest rank swordsman and the winner of this battle is decided based on the decision of the judges, though the usual grading system is ignored. The rankings of each elite swordsman-in-training are reassigned based on each of their performance during the examination.
Novice trainees also have similar periodic ranking exams every 3 months, except that, unlike elite trainee ranking exams, the outcome of which are only decided by the results of the official sparring matches among the trainees, the novice trainee exams use a combined score system of sparring, style and Sacred Arts usage and the matches are against instructors, instead of among students.
Aside from the periodic ranking exams, trainees also have other exams throughout the year, for example, advanced Sacred Arts exams with a written and an element forming practical segments.
The final ranking examination for 2nd years in the Academy is called the Graduation Contest, and it takes place in the 3rd Month of the year. The Graduation Contest works practically the same as regular ranking exams, except that the two top-ranked students in this exam are given the privilege to take part in the Empire Swordsmanship Tournament held in North Centoria.
There is a tradition in the Academy that a valet has to give their mentor a gift on the day before their mentor's graduation.
The uniform within the Sword Master Academy varies by gender and ranking, though all variations share similar qualities. All uniforms consist of a varying primary color, and white as the secondary color. Female students wear a skirt and cropped jacket, while male students wear a jacket and pants. Nearly all Jackets have a collar, and the cuffs are usually folded back, revealing the inner part of the jacket to be white. Jackets also have white edges along the collar, and down along the buttons of the jacket, though this is usually covered by a flap-like feature to the coats. While for an Elite trainee, this particular flap extends to the right side of the chest, covering the buttons used to hold the jacket closed, lower ranking trainees have a flap only extending a few centimeters, and bearing a design down along the center, resembling a white tie. Additionally, Elite Trainees bear 2 separate insignia on their jackets, one centered below their neck, on a white fabric, with two swords facing downward, and another on a similarly shaped white fabric embedded over their left shoulder, extending to their shoulder-blade, and displaying a single sword, of a similar design. The ties seemingly attached to a trainee's jacket also bear this insignia, one near the neck, and the other at the bottom of the tie.
While lower-ranking trainees, including valets, may only wear a uniform with a Dark Grey color, Elite Trainees are allowed to pick the primary color of their uniform.
- Unlike regular Japanese schools which do not allow the students to bring any blade longer than 1m with them, the Academy students are allowed to bring a personal sword into the Academy. However, only 1 sword per student is allowed and the sword can only be used for personal training. It cannot be used for official group practice sessions, nor during practical examinations.
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