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Sanctaphrax was a city-state that existed during the First Age of Flight. Built upon an enormous floating rock, it was the seat of knowledge and academia in The Edge.


Basic Layout and Politics

Old Sanctaphrax was around during the First Age of Flight, in the Quint and Twig trilogies. Its head of state was known as the Most High Academe. Who held this position could be chosen either by vote, or at the discretion of the previous High Academe, making Sanctaphrax both a democracy and an elective monarchy. However, there are several instances where these rules were ignored and a High Academe came to power by force, as with Vilnix Pompolnius and Vox Verlix.

The city was chiefly concerned with meteorology, referred to in the books as Sky-Scholarship. There were schools and academies devoted to every aspect of the weather. At one time it was also home to a faction of scholars known as Earth Scholars who concerned themselves with botany and geography. However, these studies were later deemed "impure" by the Sky Scholars and they forcibly evicted every Earth Scholar from Sanctaphrax in a series of events known as the Great Purges.

Despite being the major seat of knowledge and academia in The Edge it is also a hive of vicious faction fighting and intrigue as well as corruption, with academics often gathering on the Viaduct Steps to gossip,plot against one another and gamble.Many academics also vy for the position of Most High Academe with multiple examples of the position being taken via violence and treachery such as in the case of Vox Verlix and Vilnix Pompolnius.Others have even attempted to kill the current Most High Academe to usurp the position such was the case of Septus Leprix who attempted to assassinate Linius Pallitax.

Faction fighting is also very common with the most detailed example being the rivalry between the Sky and Earth scholars with Sky Scholars becoming so powerful tha they exiled all Earth scholars from Sanctaphrax.

There were a total of 222 schools in Sanctaphrax: the seven great schools, the fourteen minor academies, the two hundred "viaduct" schoools, and the Fountain House.

Sections of Sanctaphrax

Map of Sanctaphrax in the First Age of Flight

The Floating RockAncient LaboratoryLoftus ObservatoryGreat West TunnelSanctaphrax TunnelGreat Library TunnelAncient LaboratoryAncient LaboratoryGreat West TunnelTreasury ChamberGuard ChamberGuard ChamberTreasury ChamberSanctaphrax TunnelHeartrockStonecombSchool of MistTreasury ChamberGuard ChamberHeartrockStonecombWest LandingSanctaphrax ChainSanctaphrax ChainLow SkyMiddle SkyHigh SkyEast LandingHanging-basketsSky-cagesWest LandingEast LandingHanging-basketsSky-cagesSanctaphraxSchool of Light and DarknessKnights AcademyAcademy of WindCollege of RainInstitute of Ice and SnowCollege of CloudSchool of MistAcademy of GloomAcademy of DuskAcademyof DrizzleAcademy of HailstonesAcademy of BreezeAcademy of BalmAcademy of DawnAcademy of SquallAcademy of FogAcademy of GustAcademy of WhirlwindAcademy of SleetAcademy of ThunderAcademy of LightningSantaphrax2
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The Seven Schools

Sanctaphrax consisted of seven major schools, each dedicated the knowledge of different aspects of the sky.

The 14 Minor Academies

See Minor Academies

The 200 "Viaduct" Schools

Two hundred additional schools were mounted along the Central Viaduct of Sanctaphrax, accessible from the top of the structure. Extremely small and with practically no impact on Sanctaphraxian politics, the Viaduct Schools were devoted to a broad host of subjects not studied in the larger institutions. Academics from these schools wore distinctive robes of a pale "Viaduct" blue.

Known "Viaduct" Schools:

Twiginsanctaphrax

Twig pays a visit to Sanctaphrax.

Other places in Sanctaphrax

History of Sanctaphrax

Early Sanctaphrax

Sanctaphrax was founded hundreds of years before the Quint trilogy, when a flight rock growing in the Stone Gardens became far larger than any before. The rock was one of the three Ancient Ones, the oldest living beings on the Edge; the rock being of the Earth, the Caterbird being of the Air, and the Great Clam being of the Water. The rock was tied to the center of Undertown by the Great Anchor Chain, and the City was built upon it. It became a place of learning, and home to hundreds of librarians and professors, acolytes and all manner of academics. They were then split into Sky-Scholars, who studied the weather and clouds, and Earth-Scholars, who categorized and researched the flora and fauna of the Deepwoods in The Great Library of Sanctaphrax. An academic named Quode Quanx-Querix founded a school named the Knights' Academy, where the protectors of Sanctaphrax were trained.

In early days of Sanctaphrax, a group of ancient scholars attempted to synthesize life in the Ancient Laboratory, built deep in the Stonecomb. They sucked a glister into the laboratory during a thunderstorm and channeled a bolt of lightning straight into it. The glister became a monstrous creature that sucked the very life force from the unfortunate scholars. Quode Quanx-Querix led his Knights Academic and Academics-at-Arms down into the tunnels to confront the rogue glister. They suffered great losses, but eventually trapped the creature deep in the maze of tunnels.

Even after this, glisters occasionally caused problems. In early Sanctaphrax, many buildings were decorated with Cliff-Marble. At night this material attracted the tiny, glowing creatures. However, the danger they posed was not realized until the Academy of Wind was completely reconstructed from cliff-marble. The school attracted so many glisters that the academics within were driven mad and eventually slaughtered each other. In response, every school except for the Knights' Academy had their cliff-marble removed.

The inhabitants of Sanctaphrax lived in harmony until a problem arose up - the floating rock was still growing, and becoming ever more buoyant as it expanded. The scholars began to search despairingly through generations of research for a solution to the problem. The Sky-Scholars eventually discovered that they could anchor down the floating rock by placing Stormphrax in the center. This plan was contested by the Earth-Scholars, who insisted that the real solution was to study the properties of the rock itself. However, the Sky-Scholars soon took over the city, and imposed their will with the help of a band of Flat-Head Goblins who became known as the Treasury Guard. The Sky-Scholars took over the Great Laboratory and converted it into the Treasury Chamber.

After this, stormchasing became the chief task of Knights Academic, who would be called upon to stormchase whenever a great storm passed. Other schools were founded too, and over the years ever taller and grander towers were constructed, such as the great mistsifting towers of the School of Mist. A few centuries later sky-scholars steadily became more and more influential. Many arrogantly believed that sky-scholarship alone was relevant, and that earth-scholarship threatened the entire city. These individuals soon became so powerful and influential that waves of Earth-Scholar purges soon began. Treasury Day became a celebration of the downfall of the earth-scholars. The Palace of Shadows and its curator, a spindlebug named Tweezel, were abandoned along with the other buildings of the earth-scholarship. A time of peace followed, albeit with a great many plots, feuds and much faction fighting between rival academies and schools, until Linius Pallitax began his research.

During the Quint trilogy

Linius Pallitax was the Most High Academe of Sanctaphrax, and a friend of one of the greatest Sky Pirate captains in history, Wind Jackal. In The Curse of the Gloamglozer, Linius wanted to revive the great library and return earth studies to Sanctaphrax, but he became distracted by a desire to recreate the experiments of the First Scholars. He went into the Stonecomb and rediscovered the ancient laboratory, where he ended up creating a Gloamglozer. His daughter Maris, along with Wind Jackal's son, Quint, managed to rescue Linius, but released the Curse of the Gloamglozer upon the Edge. Unfortunately, Linius’ home, the Palace of Shadows, was burned down as the Gloamglozer made its escape. Linius died of his injuries soon after the fire, and was replaced by the Professors of Light and Darkness.

In The Winter Knights, Quint joined the Knights' Academy, along with Vil Spatweed, a knife-grinder from Undertown who soon changed his name to Vilnix Pompolnius. Quint and Vilnix were sponsored by the Professors of Light and Darkness, respectively. Both Quint and Vilnix excelled in the Knights' Academy and became Upper Hall Squires. Meanwhile, Sanctaphrax was covered in blizzards, as a sick Cloudeater in Open Sky exhaled in an attempt to free itself. Sanctaphrax threatened to tear from its moorings in the cold, and the Hall Master of High Cloud, Hax Vostillix, began to recreate old rivalries and order useless stormchasing voyages. Many Knights Academic perished as their sky ships' flight-rocks cooled to super-buoyancy, sending them hurtling into Open Sky. The crisis steadily worsened until Quint and his friends sailed a ship out to Open Sky and cured the Cloudeater with a shard of stormphrax, ending the terrible winter. Whilst they were away, the Knights' Academy erupted in violence. Vilnix Pompolnius, outraged that he was not chosen to be an Apprentice High Professor as promised, murdered Hax Vostillix with woodwasp poison, providing the increasingly brutal gatekeepers of the Knights' Academy with an excuse to rise up and take over the academy. A bloody battle ensued, and the Academics-at-Arms, aided by the Treasury Guard of Sanctaphrax, managed to defeat the gatekeepers. Vilnix attempted to hide, fearing his villainy would be discovered, but he was soon caught. He could not be proved guilty; however, he was banished from the Knights Academy for visiting the School of Potions and Poisons, an action considered to be the utmost insubordination. However, not wishing to see his protege cast out of Sanctaphrax entirely, the Professor of Darkness offered Vilnix a position as Raintaster.

During the Twig Trilogy

Many years later, due to the gradual expansion of the Stonecomb, Sanctaphrax became dangerously buoyant once again. Curious about the substance weighting down the floating rock, Vilnix stole some Stormphrax from the Treasury Chamber, and, while experimenting on the crystals, discovered it could be ground into phraxdust, a sepia powder with the amazing property of purifying water. However, when his fellow raintasters tried to make more, an explosion destroyed the raintasters tower, injuring Vilnix and killing all of the other Raintasters. Soon after, he rushed to the Knights' Academy, where Quint was about to be sent stormchasing. He interrupted the ceremony, reminding the crowd of the danger currently facing Sanctaphrax, and proposing that extra chains be made to secure the floating rock in place. Responding to the concern that chain production would require more factories and pollute the Edgewater River, he announced that his phraxdust could be used to purify the river. He then built up an argument against the regime of the Professors of Light and Darkness, and, backed by the other academics, took their place as the Most High Academe.

Backed by cohorts in the League of Free Merchants, Vilnix started to commission new chains. The Undertown factories and foundries worked overtime and pumped out additional waste into the river, forcing Vilnix to use Phraxdust to purify the water. As more phraxdust was used, so the supply of stormphrax dwindled, making the rock even more buoyant. To make matters worse, nobody could successfully repeat Vilnix's creation of phraxdust. Whenever anyone tried to grind Stormphrax, it exploded with tremendous force. The crisis got worse until Twig returned from a stormchasing voyage with more Stormphrax. Equilibrium returned, and Vilnix was dethroned and assassinated by the Leagues. The Professor of Darkness returned to his position as Most High Academe of Sanctaphrax. Twig was knighted as Arborinus Verginix, and left Sanctaphrax in search of his missing father.

The loss of Sanctaphrax

Every few thousand years, the Edgewater River dried up and the Mother Storm would descend upon Riverrise, the legendary source of the river, and would rejuvenate its waters at dawn. Usually when the Mother Storm came to the Edge, its path had been clear. But when it came during the Twig trilogy, Sanctaphrax was in its way. The Mother Storm was preceded by many bizarre changes in the weather. These included mist which inflamed tempers and hailstones as large as boulders which brought inexplicable despair. Cloud Wolf had warned Twig of this before he disappeared into the Mother Storm, but Twig lost his memory following a massive explosion. However, when he journeyed to Riverrise in search of his missing crew, his memory was jogged, and he remembered the impending disaster and realized the solution. The great Anchor Chain had to be cut, allowing Sanctaphrax to fly away. If it wasn’t cut, the Mother Storm would waste its energy destroying Sanctaphrax, and would not get to Riverrise. The drought would wipe out all life on the Edge. When Twig and his apprentice, Cowlquape returned, the storm was about to strike the Edge. Twig had sent word ahead to evacuate Sanctaphrax, although a few of the older professors refused to leave. The Professor of Darkness attempted to stop Twig and Cowlquape once he realized their true intent. Twig yelled for Cowlquape to remove the pin that held Sanctaphrax in place, and he did. The Professor of Darkness begged Cowlquape to stop, and just before the pin gave, he thrust the Great Seal of Office into Cowlquape’s hand, conferring on him the title of Most High Academe in a desperate attempt to stop him. The chain then unwound and Sanctaphrax flew off, with the Professor clinging on to it.

New Sanctaphrax

See main page: New Sanctaphrax

As the Mother Storm returned to the Edge, a bolt of lightning struck a rock in the Stone Gardens, causing it to grow to a massive size. This rock was quickly secured, and New Sanctaphrax was founded. The Tower of Night was built upon it, and, after the rock was grounded by stone-sickness, it was supported by a maze of wooden pillars known as the "Sanctaphrax Forest".

Vox Verlix usurped the title of Most High Academe of New Sanctaphrax from Cowlquape Pentephraxis, but he was effectively overthrown by a sect of Knights Academic known as the Guardians of Night. The Most High Guardian, Orbix Xaxis, ruled over the Tower of Night until his death in the sixth book, Vox.

The Distant Future

Hundreds of years later during the Third Age of Flight, Nate Quarter and his comrades discovered that the great floating city had returned, blown back from Open Sky by the turbulent storms that prevailed there. The band was astonished to see that although the city was lost all those centuries, its condition was still pristine and its Academics still living. Throughout the book, mysterious serene figures clothed in the robes of the old Academics had been leading the poor and desperate of the Deepwoods towards a "Shining City of Spires" at the tip of the Edge. Nate and his friends realized that Sanctaphrax was this so-called haven, but were suspiscious of the unexplained perfection. The mystery deepened even further when Ambris Hentadile recognized the leader as the long-dead former Most High Academe, Linius Pallitax.

Splitting from the group, Ambris ventured to the Great Library and was reunited with his long-lost brother (the reason the group came to the Edge was to look for him) who took him down into the Ancient Laboratory and showed it had recently been used again for its original, terrible purpose; to create Gloamglozers. Meanwhile, up in the city, the poor Deepwooders and Nate's group were horrified when all of the "Academics" suddenly transformed into these terrible creatures and gloatingly began to feast on their fear whilst chasing them ever closer to the edge of the rock and certain death. Meanwhile, Nate came face to face with "Linius" who revealed himself to be the original Gloamglozer, who, up till then, had been mockingly assuming the form of the one that gave it life. The beast was ecstatic to learn Nate is a descendent of Quint, because Quint was the one who banished him from Sanctaphrax in the first place. The Gloamglozer was about to murder him when Quint, Twig and Rook returned from the Mother Storm as echoes of their youth.

Quint plucked out the red glister from the heart of the Gloamglozer, and Twig and Rook destroyed the rest; the nightmare that plagued the Edge for hundreds of years was at last vanquished. The Caterbird explained to Nate that the unnatural life the Gloamglozer possessed caused Stone-Sickness, and that, with the Gloamglozer gone, the Edge could at last begin to heal itself. A cleansing rain of Riverrise water began to fall as the Immortals faded into glisters, as their life-cycles could finally begin themselves again. Stone-sickness was cured. Celestia decided to rebuild Sanctaphrax and together with the Deepwooders who decided to stay there, she founded the new city of Sanctaphrax. This city became the main quarter and starting point of the Descenders and a refuge for all those who were persecuted by Quove Lentis, the Professor of Flight who considered descending heresy.

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