The origins of Czocha College of Witchcraft and Wizardry are shrouded in mystery, and over the centuries many versions have existed trying to piece together the past of the castle and its inhabitants. This is the current widely accepted story, though people more versed in the history of the House founders can see that it is not without holes and contradictions. It does, however, include a relatively accurate timeline and capture the relevant events thanks to which the school we know today came to be.
The history of Czocha College of Witchcraft and Wizardry began in the eighth century. Where the castle would later stand, there was a small village owned by the Germanic-Bohemian family of Czajkow; dear friends of the first Bohemian king, Krok. Though not yet a center of magical learning, the Czajkow manor was nonetheless important, as witches and sorcerers fled here to escape mobs and Christian missionaries. For at Czajkow witchards had a protector – the legendary Libussa, daughter of King Krok and Founder of the city of Prague. In anno domini 735, on Libussa’s orders, the Czajkow manor was turned into a school of magic.
At the beginning, Libussa was the only teacher at the school – teaching the ways of witchcraft and wizardry to both the young and the old. But as time progressed and the school grew, Libussa grew more and more focused on her research and less on her teaching. Her goal was that of many powerful witchards throughout the ages – immortality. Yet though Libussa achieved longevity and became a true master of life-giving potions, the secret of true immortality remained hidden to her.
Around the beginning of the new millenium, she left Czajkow in the care of a caretaker, and headed to Krakow to meet the famous Silesian demonologist and alchemist, Pan Twardowski – also known as Durentius. Durentius was already then famous in magical circles for his skill with creating long-lived monsters and inhuman ”friends”. The most famous of these was his giant rooster, on the back of which he flew to the moon and back. Or so the legend goes.
Durentius and Libussa struck a bargain. She would teach him the secrets of longevity she knew, and he, in turn, would lead the quest to places where Libussa had no knowledge. For Durentius believed that the oldest and wisest creatures lived deep in the earth, and had purchased several deep mines from the Polish Prince Mieszko I. The mines were just a cover for the search, however, and the two sought out the old Krakowian dragon of Wawel, living deep under the city.
How the two befriended the dragon instead of fighting it, is known to no-one alive today, but after befriending the dragon, the pair studied the secrets of dragon lifespans. For Libussa, the dragon became a close friend, as it was one of the few intelligent creatures able to understand what life had been like for one as old as her. Durentius and the dragon were cordial at best, but never grew close, even though the two magicians stayed with the dragon for several years.
When those years were past, and they left the dragon, Libussa convinced Durentius to come with her to Czajkow to teach. To honour Durentius, she gave him his own wing of the castle to do with as he pleased, and renamed the manor Czocha to show that this was a new beginning. Thus the first two Houses of Czocha were born – those who followed Libussa’s teachings becoming the House of Libussa and those who followed Durentius’ becoming the House of Durentius. So the years passed, and the magical school of Czocha prospered. The friendship of Durentius and Libussa remained strong, and their skills kept them alive throughout the centuries, though they slowly aged nonetheless. And if not for the arrival of Faust, Czocha might have remained the small and rather obscure magical school it was then.
To understand Faust’s role in this, it must be understood that not only was Johann Georg von Faust a great witchard, but also a great showoff. Faust had founded the German magical university of Königsberger Universität during the 15th century, assisted by the great witchards Molin and Krabat. But the Königsberger Universität tolerated rivalry poorly, and after some petty schisms, Faust declared a witcharding conflict with Czocha and went on the attack.
It was no army that came to topple the tower of Czocha, but Faust himself, astride a giant dragon. But to Faust’s stunned surprise, when he ordered the dragon to attack the manor and the puny witchards gathered in the courtyard in front of it, the dragon instead flipped Faust off its back and landed next to an old woman, who gently caressed the dragon’s huge snout in a familiar way.
Faust’s steed was of course no other than the dragon of Krakow, but unbeknownst to him, there was an old friendship between the dragon and the witch of Czocha. Fast of mind, and intrigued, Faust realized that here was power that he could respect, and during the discussions that followed, Libussa and Durentius offered him a House of his own at Czocha, if he would add his skills to that of the school.
Faust agreed, and he convinced his fellow Königsberger luminary Abraham Molin to come to Czocha also. The manor was expanded into a proper castle, and the third and fourth Houses established. It was also then that the Houses got their crests; the Bohemian lion for Libussas students, the giant rooster for Durentius’ pupils, the Dragon of Krakow for Faust and the famous Golem for House Molin. Molin’s experiments with golems and magical constructions contributed greatly to the ongoing immortality research, and since he and Faust also taught at the Königsberger Universität, it was decided that from now on the school would be known as Czocha College of Witchcraft and Wizardry, so as to distinguish it from the Universitet. Gone were the children studying – Czocha was a place for young adults. Professors now taught classes while the four continued their research on immortality.
The Slaughter of 1521 changed that. Political arguments between Faust and other rivaling schools of magic escalated into backstabbing and sabotage of Czocha’s protective spells. Catholic witchards and their fierce mundane allies swarmed the castle, having been led to believe it was the hiding place of Martin Luther and his supporters. Students and staff were slaughtered left and right, along with the four House Founders who all perished that night. The attack was finally thwarted by a group of students who sacrificed themselves, binding their spirits to the castle, thus becoming the first spirits of Czocha. The attackers were unprepared for the resistance of the spirits and mistook them for undead and demons, trying to dispel them with the wrong incantations. While the remaining students cowered in abject terror in the cellars, the spirits pushed back the Catholic fanatics.
When dawn rose over Czocha, the attackers were either dead or gone, but so were the four House Founders and a large part of the Staff. Bernard Wapowski, the eldest of the surviving Professors, was elected by his colleagues to lead the College. He took on the title of Headmaster, a title that is still in use today. However, while Wapowski did his best, the school was not what it had been when all four Founders had been alive. And where had the dragon been during this, some asked? No-one knew, but it would return one last time centuries later.
The new Czocha was a shadow of itself, though, and for several decades it would remain that way. Without the guidance of the four House Founders, Czocha didn’t thrive – it merely persevered. This changed in 1550, when Michał Sędziwój came to Czocha to be the new Professor of Alchemy. Sędziwój not only broke the magical seals on the vault, wherein all the experiments of the House Founders were stored, but also managed to contact their ghosts and channel them into the world of the living.
Sędziwój was the only alchemist who ever came close to gaining true immortality (unlike the famous Flamel, whose stone only changed the moment of his death) and together with the ghosts of Libussa, Faust and Durentius, as Headmaster, he led the College to academic greatness. Molin he never bothered with, and there have been speculations as to why, but when he chose to institute his own House in 1591 and gave it the phoenix as its symbol, there was no-one who said anything against him. From then on, both he and his House used his witcharding name – Sendivogius.
Sadly, Sendivogius met his end in 1811, by the wand of the French witchard Mathieu Dudon, just before Napoleon’s grand push into Russia. With him, the ghosts of the House Founders once more melted into the walls of Czocha – to remain there until someone with enough power could draw them out. And on that day, remembered throughout the world of witchardry for the final loss of all the Czocha House Founders, the dragon of Krakow appeared over Czocha again, its tears falling on the stones where Libussa’s soul disappeared for the final time. Of those who had seen the tumultuous events of the past, only the ghosts and spirits remained.
School legend says that the dragon will be back when the memories of the five House Founders again inhabit living flesh, and the wheel of fortune makes another turn. On that day, it is said, a sixth House Founder will emerge and Czocha will become great once more. Not many believe that legend however, but instead choose to remember the Great Five for what they truly were; five powerful sorcerers from five different cultures, all with their eyes on the ultimate prize: immortality.