In New Albion lore, whenever someone is mentioned as going to the Mountains In The West, it is the monastery they’re usually going to. The monastery is not affiliated with any recognizable religion, (absolutely not with voodoopunk), although its purpose does lie somewhere between institute of higher learning, meditation center, and center for esoteric exploration. As vague as this sounds, it does have several specific focuses which will become clear in time. There is no strict code of dogma and no vows of chastity, although due to its nature, if you’re looking for wild orgies you’d probably be happier elsewhere.
The monastery will be reappearing in our dear New Albion storyline shortly. For now, however, we are going to take a look at its birth some time ago. And to do that we must start with Nicholas Schilling.
There is a city called Arcadia located about halfway between what used to be called Victoria and New Albion. Victoria is nowadays called Avalon and travel there is incredibly limited, but the time period we speak of is back when Avalon was Victoria and New Albion was just a young little upstart, barely a city. There were still people alive who remembered the card game. Very few, but they existed.
Nicholas was professor at the University in Arcadia, one of the most prestigious on the continent, well respected both inside and out of his field and an enormously well received lecturer. He had some great years at the University and was happily married and satisfactorily engaged with his career. Alas, this is not the time of his life we are interested in. We are interested in what came next.
None of his peers could pinpoint exactly quite when he started to go “off the rails”. It happened gradually. Bit by bit, odd and eccentric theories involving a collective unconsciousness started to seep into his lectures and papers. Out of place pontifications on “sub-reality”, “micro reality”, “macro-reality” and “post reality” popped up at odd times. “Post humans”, “meta-consciousness”, all things out of place in a distinguished school of facts and learning, ran amok from his pen and lips. It was a series of papers he published on connections between the collective unconscious and our reality, his last papers ever published actually, that finally did it. He was delivering a lecture about the papers, talking of an “akashic library” that existed in the CO along with other odd places and things, when the questions and answers with his fellow professors grew heated and chaotic. The discussion erupted into yelling on all sides and in answer to a particularly abusive barrage from one of the Deans, Nicholas responded by simply raising his two middle fingers in the air, doing a series of suggestive and vulgar motions with them, then turning and walking out of the hall, never to reenter the university again.
He went home and told his wife they were leaving. His wife told him there was no way she was prepared to give up either her home at the University nor her hitherto secret and undisclosed up until to this point sexual escapades with said Dean from our last paragraph. Thus, mere hours after the shenanigans at the lecture hall, a sad and rather depressed Nicholas Schilling left his job, his school, his career and indeed his hometown, setting off by foot on a pilgrimage to the young, burgeoning city of New Albion.
The journey took a very, very long time, not just because of the distance, but because he stopped in numerous out of the way places, cities and towns, looking for all sorts of hard to explain things or some scrap of evidence they had left behind. He had a pleasant and unexpected lunch one afternoon in the cafe under the Justacorp building with a young go getter named David Adams in which they discussed, of all things, folk mythology and fabled animals.
A few years after he started his journey, he finally arrived in New Albion. He looked like a cross between a bum and an orthodox priest, with a long, disheveled beard and just a hint of something resembling either madness, otherwordly knowledge, or most likely both, in his eye. He rented a musty, dilapidated and cheap apartment in what was shaping up to be the port district and carried out the last stages of his research.
This took 6 months. After this was finished he spent all his time writing letters to various people across the continent, many of whom he had met on his travels, meeting with odd denizens of New Albion in run down pubs, and sitting silently for hours at the riverside, watching the boats and the water go by. This period also lasted a number of months, until one day a gentlemen and two ladies approached him during his riverside musings, whereupon introducing themselves, they all shook hands, hugged and set off together heading westward.
Nicholas is credited with founding the monastery. He naturally balked at receiving the credit and would often dismiss it, but writings from the very early days all confirm that everyone present insists it was he who truly founded the monastery. Certainly once he lived there he never ventured out of the mountains again. He had a small but cozy room in what is now the east wing, but back then was the only wing. In the early days discussions were had about how to, for lack of a better, word, advertise themselves. Nicholas scoffed at such suggestions. The few resident there were encouraged to write, anything from articles to essays to out right stories (Nicholas preferred stories himself. He would never write academically again), and publish as they wished or were able. Beyond that, “those who are drawn will find us” is all Nicholas ever said on the matter. The fact that in all the time since the monastery began it has never changed its policies demonstrates that he was indeed correct.
Back when the Corellik raiders used to roam the lands west of New Albion causing many a problem for the outlying areas, they caught wind of the monastery and its rumored treasures and attempted to invade. Once. They tried it once. When years later a young, overeager warrior who hadn’t been born during that raid tried to urge the chieftan (who had himself been a riled up teenager at the time of the first raid) to invade it again, the chieftan simply pointed out that he would rather be buggered by their entire stable of horses before reattempting such a feat and wished well whoever was stupid enough to try.
Constance and Thomas did in fact live there for a small, quite happy time, although Constance’s life was cut short by events it is not our place to go into here. It has remained mostly removed in relation to events happening in New Albion, although it watches more closely than New Albion knows. Many will want to know details about the attack that destroyed it, but as this attack takes place after the events in the Cabaret, it is also not for us to discuss here today. We shall see it again soon enough.