The woman who founded Czocha and House Libussa
At the very beginning of Czocha College of Witchcraft and Wizardry stood only one figure. The Woman in Purple is and was mysterious and powerful beyond all belief – more of a myth and a symbol than a figure of flesh and bones, even while she was still demonstrably alive. Libuše was never easily quantified or put into boxes.
She was once one of the most powerful witchards alive, and is famous among mundanes for being a founding mother of the Czech nation. Among witchards, she is famous for founding Czocha and for cheating death for centuries. Libussa’s rebellious nature and great knowledge sometimes got her into trouble with mundane and magical authority alike – wherever she went she found those who were set in their ways and resisted change. She often left them little choice, forcing them to evolve beyond their old ways. Her desire to change the status quo held strong throughout her entire long life, and this desire to break out of cages and change the world is still a guiding principle for many Libussans today.
As far as anyone knows, Libussa had no children, and no mortal descendents of hers populate the European Confluxes. Perhaps this is for the best, some reckon; if the descendants of Libussa shared even a tenth of her rebellious nature and great power, they would make political stability among the European Confluxes all but impossible. Her legacy is made manifest in all that Czocha College of Witchcraft and Wizardry has done through the ages, and all of its alumni are, in a sense, her children.
From time to time tales emerge of a prominent witchard claiming to secretly be descended from Libussa herself, but none can ever prove it. Indeed, few try. There is a great amount of privilege and legitimacy in the name, though the witchards that have tried to usurp it have had difficulty agreeing on a set form for the name itself. There have been Libussins, Libussans, Libusevices and everything in between. And even after all of this time, no one has come even close to matching the splendour and power of Libussa herself.
The Fiery Yellow gave all they had, all the time. Durentius, the founder of House Durentius, could bend the will of any magical being, giving rise to tales about a force of nature known to most mundanes as Twardowski, though the real person behind the name is shrouded in legend.
Some claim the origin of Durentius is based on the noble Laurentius Dhur from Krakow. Others say that it is based on the mundane myth of Pan Twardowski (as in “Mr Twardowski”, fabled to have sold his soul to the Devil). Other’s claim the origin is in fact Pani Twardowska, the woman given in tribute, but then returned when proven too much for the Devil to control. Members of the house ascribe this to Durentius’ great power over any magical being. Some claim the origin is instead a child sold by the Twardowskis and rising to be a courtier and the personal sorcerer of the king, and that this child was in fact a girl hiding in a world of men. It is a matter of record that Durentius was the king’s sorcerer for a time, and the tragic and disastrous tale of Durentius raising the spirit of king Augustus’ deceased wife makes the truth even harder to unravel (some speculating whether Durentius was a host to that spirit, or if it was all just courtly gossip from all late evenings and nights spent by the king and his sorcerer in private chambers). In any Czocha records it either just says “Twardowski” or later the nom de magie “Durentius”. In a few instances Laurentius Dhur is named, though not clearly in what capacity, possibly a patron of magic or the king’s vassal, if not the actual witchard. These days all members simply know that Durentius founded their House and reformed magic practices throughout witchards society, and that’s good enough for them.
Regardless, hard work and strong conviction led Durentius to completely revolutionise the studies on magical beings and invocation of demons, which were not really disciplines unto themselves before. Merging spirits with living matter to form something entirely new changed things forever. Being as restless as unstoppable, Durentius made a home for ever changing and pioneering experimentation in House Durentius. It is this haunted genius–the frenzied workings of a mind that can not rest–that remains the pinnacle of what it means to be Durentian.
Today the family Twardowski still exists and the official heirs of Durentius are said to be a reliable and solid bunch, with good work ethics and members in many different areas of magical research and more practical fields. Young Twardowskis tend to attend Czocha College for Witchards, where they are typically sorted into Durentius. Perhaps to the surprise of some, the Twardowski family is not particularly prominent in Conflux politics. Indeed, the family does not seem to have much of a political agenda as an entity, which is downright eccentric for such an old-blood Hexborn family. There are no Confluxes held by an elected Twardowski–nor any held as properties by the family.
While Durentius was known chiefly for their work as one of the first true Cryptozoologists, this was mostly focused on the crossing of breeds. Some whisper that multiples chimera creatures were spawned. House Durentius is strongly influenced by Silesian cultural roots, a melting pot of different backgrounds, personalities, opinions, and temperaments.
Faust is actually two houses, and not founded by one or two, but in fact three witchards. Today there are several cities claiming to be the birthplace of the famous Doctor Faust, the Blue creator of the great grimoires of magic, none able to definitively reconcile legend with facts. At Czocha the truth of the Faust twins is a well-known secret.
It is often disputed what exactly it is that made Faust so powerful, however the Faustians know the truth of the matter. Some historians claim he was really “Johann Faust”, born in the 15h century, either in Heidelberg, Helmstadt or Knittlingen. In truth Baron and Baroness Faustus bore twins.
Johann and Johanna were separated when very young, to protect them from the troubles that ravaged Witchard Society at the time. The two felt ever torn by this separation, and witnesses say they sensed all–good or bad–that happened to the other. When old enough to study they made a pact in secret and both signed up as “Johann Georg von Faust” to Heidelberg University Department of Alchemy–as one person.
This ruse continued for the rest of their shared life, including Czocha, where Georg would appear to be a never tiring witchard, able to attend symposiums and perform experiments night and day. Before reuniting with his sister, Johann had lived under the name von Faust and was in fact married to Margarete Faust, a possibly even greater witchard in her own right. She would go on to found Haus Faust at the Nibelungen Institute.
As “Georg”, the twins had many lovers, and Johann and Johanna would share and choose who to play the role of Georg, as their hearts and those of their lovers saw fit. Eventually the heads of the other houses were let in on the twins’ secret, but sworn to silence. Only hundreds of years later, when all involved could either safely talk about it or were long gone, was the truth made an official secret at the castle. Today some see this part of the founders’ life as brave and see them as role models, others find their deceit selfish. To this day, most mundanes (and indeed many witchards) believe the fabled “Doctor Faust” to be just a man.
The von Faust family still exists to this day, and young members of the family who attend Czocha College of Witchcraft and Wizardry tend to be sorted into the House that bear their name – though exceptions have occurred. The family is known to number quite a few Guardians, with a predisposition towards dealing with the Tradition of the Bound – a family tradition owing to the interest and skill the twins allegedly held in binding demons to their will (before such things became antithesis to the Traditions, of course).
While the other Founders tried to impose their will on the rest of the world, Molin focused on their own soul and body. They believed that truth exists in the mind, and the world is created by our perception of it and ourselves. They wrote of an imperfect and changeable world, which was reflected in both their own fluid identity and their approach to magic.
Abraham Molin was a pioneering scholar of both Arithmancy and what would later be known as Technomancy, but unlike the other founders, the One in Green preferred to remain far from the spotlight. Few people came to know Molin personally in their lifetime, and most of what we know about them comes from the countless writings they left behind. They wrote treatises on golem crafting, the nature of the soul, numerology, linguistics, and many more fields. Many of their writings are encoded, with some still remaining undeciphered. Their life is similarly shrouded in mystery, as what biographical writings they left behind were often entrenched in elaborate and obscure metaphors. What is most commonly accepted is that they were a secular Ashkenazi Jew, and by modern terminology likely didn’t identify as either male or female.
The House symbol is a golem. Some say that the images are of one of Molin’s original golems. Others claim that Molin themself never actually died, and the image is of the golem they became. Over the years, there have been ever more and stranger legends as to what became of Molin, including theories that their spirit lives on in the stones of the castle itself.
As far as anyone knows, Abraham Molin left behind no direct descendants. Some of their writings speak of their distaste for romance and sexuality, seeing both as distractions from their research. Their legacy lives on in their many constructs and artifacts, as well as the rich tradition of intellectual inquiry and learning through arguing that exist at Czocha and in the wider magical community. Modern Artificery, especially, would be little without Molin.
Sendivogius might be the newest House, but without its Founder it is very likely that Czocha would still be relegated to obscurity–its once proud legacy all but forgotten. When Sendivogius, the Alchemist, the Man in Red, came to Czocha, the school was reborn.
Michał Sędziwój was indeed the last of Czocha’s Founders. He was a scientist and a lover of life and ennobled both in spirit and through his bloodline. He was a part of the old nobility of Poland, described by supporters as rebellious, courageous, self-loving but tolerant. Sendivogius was a force unto himself, and while he could have chosen any institute of magical learning, he came to be the Alchemy Professor at Czocha–a College which had fallen on hard times before he arrived. The great works of the other Founders had done naught but gather dust for too long–and it was Sendivogius who once again unearthed them. He used his legendary insight to truly relight the flame of magic school, and when he finally left this mortal coil he did so having given so much.
The House symbol is a white Phoenix–a symbol of immortality. And for good reason! Sendivogius not only discovered several promising longevity methods, but also wrote down the 25 magical powers of air (or oxygen) and fire, outing himself as one of the first propagators of mixing new mundane science with magical experiments. As always Sendivogius had his eyes solely focused on the future, and while his propensity for explorations into mundane sciences were considered radical at the time, it’s the cutting edge of Technomancy today.
As far as anyone knows, there are no currently living Sędziwój in the European Confluxes. Some say that Sendivogius did have children, but that none of them had the Gift. Most consider this a myth, since little can be established of the facts.
Whatever the truth might be, Sendivogius yet lives on in his legacy and through the very existence of the vibrant Czocha magic school today. Without Sendivogius the glories of the past may have all laid forgotten. More than any of the other Founders, Sendivogius was truly an individual with a Polish soul, and as a result his House also has a lot of influence from Polish culture. It seems like everyone is somehow related to nobility (if you believe their family trees). Their pride in glories of the past ennobles every Sendivogian in spirit.