Introductory Text on the
Institute of Manamancy
Atalen ya Doaka
The huge range of cliffs behind the Institute of Manamancy and the pueblo the school is housed in are both named Atalen ya Doaka, or the Mountain of the Moon. At least that’s what we Mana mages call it. Archaeologists call it by its Spanish name: Pueblo Bonito. The founders of the Institute restored this ancient ruin to its former glory and then established the school here in the middle of the harsh desert. And they didn’t ask anyone for permission, hence the crystalline defenses around the school.
The name was translated into Zuni. It seemed they felt that since the Zuni were descendants of the builders of Atalen ya Doaka, a name in their language would be more appropriate. All of the Spanish names, of the Native American sites used by the institute, have been converted into Zuni by a friend of the founder, an elderly gentleman that used his own native tongue when he was in his early twenties, the age of most of the students.
The founders did not, however, seem to see any incongruity in the fact that the students living in a reconstructed, pre-Columbian stone and adobe granary should have medieval European cloaks as a school uniform. No one ever said they were consistent. But, Atalen ya Doaka was one of the greater sources of mana in the world. The valley around the Institute aligned with the major and minor lunar standstills which both the ancients, commonly called Anasazi, and mana mages find very significant.
The school itself is built like a horseshoe, the arch of which nearly abuts against the cliffs. The two ends point due south, visually in alignment with several other unreconstructed sites in the valley. The overall shape of the school reinforces the collected mana of the site. The U-shaped wall rises five stories in places, housing the dorms under the cliffs.
Davic closed the article he was helping a friend edit and sat dejected on the balcony facing south, his feet and legs hanging over the edge. The T-shaped door leading to his dorm room was right behind him. He still mused on the day’s events. He stared off to Tsin Kletin another of the Puebloan structures about two miles due south of Atalen ya Doaka. He was still rather surly and not in the mood for any company at all, when the crystal floating above his wrist flashed and chimed. He cupped the stone in his right hand to avoid the light and was about to click it off when he saw who the message was from.
He pushed it to his wrist and called out “Hello?” A faint mana pattern wafted from his crystal and unfurled into a full sized image of Professor Keith Johnson, sitting in the air off the edge of the balcony. Davic stood up and bowed to his mentor. “How can I help you, sir?”
“Come to my office, please,” the tinny voice called.
“Shall I leave this instant, dressed as I am?” asked the student respectfully.
“Do grab your cloak and your sandals on the way. But, I await you here.” The image blinked off and the small cloud of mana wafted back into the crystal.
He turned and bent, placing his hands on the two bench-stones of the T-shaped door. Ducking his head he entered his dorm room and quickly found his best cloak and a pair of sandals. Now dressed back into his school uniform, he exited the dorm. He hurriedly made his way down the long balcony to the ladder at the top of the Tower of the Morning, which was one floor shorter than his part of the pueblo. Down two more long poled ladders, risking splinters in his hands, he rushed. He sprinted across the roof of the cafeteria and into the main office complex. He bent to enter the T-shaped doorway and bowed to the Professor sitting cross-legged at his writing station.
The Professor waved his hand and mana menu window after window folded up and withdrew into the various crystals on the low table beside him. “Mr. McKay, come with me.” He stood, stretched, and walked out onto the plaza before his doorway.
The student followed Professor Johnson out and stood beside him gazing below to the kiva their class used. “What happened to your eye?”
“Oh,” said Davic touching the bruise gently. “It was, umm, Retta . . .”
The Professor’s right eyebrow shot up. “Well, Ms. Perkovich is known for her temper.” He paused, and then suddenly began writing a mana override in the air before them.
“Where are we going?” asked Davic, reading that a doorway was being created. “To the Motu!?” Plainly visible in the the fish, shells and alien looking characters of the Institute’s writing system, was the destination Motu Motiro Hiva, an uninhabited islet well off the Pacific coast of South America, almost four hundred miles northeast of Easter island. When the pattern was completed, the doorway opened to an overcast and very windy day. Ocean spray greeted them as they stepped through, and the doorway shut behind them.
The Professor strode immediately to a low stone bench near a giant Moai statue and sat. But Davic, who had never been there before, stood in awe taking in all the wide expanse of wave-tossed ocean in all directions. The Motu was a very small place. One would have had a difficult time playing football here as there was not really enough space. The island was made of two huge rocks held together with a low ledge of stone on the northern end. It was the top of a very tall mountain, only most of it was under water. Just the summit peaked out.
Suddenly Davic stood stock still.
“I see you recognize the same basic shape as the school,” said his mentor. “This island acts like a large container or battery for collected mana. Set on the edge of a tectonic plate, this is the biggest and best site in the world.”
“Yes,” said Davic seeing for himself. “Free-mana would seep up the crack in the crust of the earth and be caught here, in this shape.” He nodded his head slightly, realizing what he was seeing. He put his hand on the Easter Island statue the Mages had constructed and said: “Did the Rapanuians know about mana and this island?”
“They knew about this islet and even named it. But it’s doubtful they knew anything about actual mana. For them, mana was a spiritual or magical power used to control people’s actions, not an actual measurable force. But we mages liked the word, so we kept it and even borrowed their rongorongo. Besides, their population was extremely small. The Anasazi, on the other hand, most likely had only one mana mage who probably lived in the late 900’s or early 1000’s and created the so-called Chacoan Phenomena. But it’s fairly obvious that by the 1200’s they were on their own.”
“Yeah, they collapsed in a hurry, didn’t they?” He looked around the island seeing the bird nests and then out to sea. He was still in awe of actually being at the most secret site of the mages. He was still a bit ill at ease with his professor being so casual. He’d only seen him at more formal occasions earlier.
“I come here for two reasons usually,” said the Professor. “One, when I get tired of sitting on the floor. Anasazi lack of furniture gets old after a while . . .”
Davic chuckled and sat on the bench beside his mentor.
" . . . and two when I need an unobserved conversation with someone.”
“Oh!? I was under the impression that deep mysterious rituals took place here.”
The professor laughed gently. “Yes, we keep the Motu hidden, but it’s for the vast quantity of free-mana, not anything mysterious. I do need to discuss Retta with you, but not your black eye or her grade. Could I have a copy of your basal-mana pattern, first?”
Davic’s eyes widened as he slowly extended his right hand, palm up. “Umm – sure,” he said. “What’s it for?”
“I have been forced to create a new security pattern for the Motu.” He reached out and plucked the required pattern from inside Davic’s hand, duplicated it and restored the original. He then pulled a very large pattern from the crystal repository at his left wrist and deftly merged the two. He then stood and rammed a light tail into the lip of the Moai statue. Without a mana spike, light flowed from the cracks in the igneous stone around them and was absorbed into the stone artwork.
“This security patch will now permit you, and anyone with you, access to this island.”
“But, I haven’t graduated yet,” protested Davic. “And what about the other professors?”
“Oh, you worry too much. I trust you with this. You are well on your way to acting on your own. The only requirements you have left are finals in my class and Professor Locminé’s. Oh, and the Project. . . But this will be your Project. . . and Ian’s.” He ignored further protestations and forged ahead. “I will transfer the Institute’s entire data file here. This island must not fall into the hands of anyone we do not trust. This much free-mana must be protected at all cost.”
One of the seabirds, a gray noddy, flew in closer than the frigates and albatrosses had. It landed between the bench and the Moai. It pecked at an insect on the ground and then waddled to a nearby nest.
“They’re not very common around here, you know,” said the Professor pointing at the bird. “But we need to talk about your Project . . .”
“And Retta. But she’s part of your Project. . . and Ian’s.”
“What does Ian have to do with this?” he asked stroking his beard.
“He is nearly graduated,” said the Professor in his slow and even tones, “as you are and needs a Project, as you do and when he is with you, I trust him.”
He chuckled and then said “I think I know what you mean. Ian does get a bit . . . ”
“. . . crazy at times. You just gotta keep him focused, is all.”
“No, you do,” said the Professor pointing at Davic’s chest. “Did you know that Retta was recruited by LeDuc?”
“I thought . . .” He sat, stunned, holding on the stone bench until his fingers went white. He looked to the southwest, watching the thunderheads rise to the sky. “. . . he can’t get into the Institute, can he?”
“Well, no. This was before Retta came to the Institute. I am thinking he sent her as a spy.”
“LeDuc, hmmm. Well, that explains . . . a few things.” He touched his left eye. “Like this for example. We were fighting about whether or not your grades were fair and if you taught the right things. Hey, I thought we weren’t going to talk about my black-eye or her grades.”
“I didn’t realize your girlfriend was so integral to my story,” he stated dryly.
“When did you know she had ties to Yalun né Siana and LeDuc?”
“I suspected early on, but she sent me a message when she left. I’ll send you a copy when we get back.”
“Professor, I know the official version of the story. But, what was it that happened between you and LeDuc?”
The elder gentleman paused and his expression hardened. “I last saw him two years ago at the funeral of a mutual friend. We didn’t talk. He and I had started as Grad School colleagues,” he said. “We’re the same age and all, and loved to argue. We always had our differences and arguments, but his weren’t as friendly as I had always thought. I didn’t realize he was as jealous of me as I now can see. Our school sent us both on an anthropological internship to Rapanui (Easter Island) and in the middle of our stay there, we visited this very island on a lark. He and I both felt the pull of Mana here. At first, we didn’t suspect its import, but after we toured some other native sites, we came back and discovered what we had felt --what you feel now.”
He paused. “We started the Institute at Atalen ya Doaka. Later, when we needed to expand, we opened the site at Yalun né Siana, in Colorado. It is rather ironic that the two sites we chose for the institutes of manamancy were the two centers of the ancient Anasazi civil war.”
He paused again, but Davic didn’t dare interrupt. “We were still in our forties when things started to get quite tense between us. Who would be in control of the entire program? Whose ideas would be used? What happens when we disagree? How did we resolve our differences?” He paused. Memories seemed to be painful.
“His daughter married my son and we thought things would finally be fine. But, when they divorced, we, the in-laws, got sucked into it. Already bad feelings turned quite bitter. The warm friendship of the wives shattered. The differences stopped being worked out.”
He looked out over the ocean as if trying to find answers. “Our basic philosophical difference grew further and further apart along the axis of persuasion versus force.”
Emotions threatened to interrupt the narration. “Then one day Marina, LeDuc’s wife died. Eric --LeDuc-- snapped. He thought I was responsible. He wanted revenge. That’s when the killings started. And I fear it has suddenly gotten much, much worse.”