How the heck do the Serran Academies work, anyway? Is it really like a boarding school, or more like college? Or is it just a collection of crazies?
Maybe a bit of each.
The Serran Academies offer two different programs: a high school degree and ranks within their aether training structure. A student can take either or both.
A high school degree takes four years and is similar to a strict private school in the United States. This program can be taken alongside aether training, if the student is prudent. The high school program was (reluctantly) accepted by the Serran Academies to encourage enrollment during the decline of Follower popularity in the end times.
Aether detection training takes three months and is required before basic training. This class teaches only how to detect aether within oneself.
Basic training takes three years. This series of classes teaches students the core basics of offense and defense in the four primary spiritual gifts: sentinel, vanguard, arbiter, and valnah.
Anyone can learn the four primary gifts, just as anyone can learn to cook or mountain climb or knit, but only the naturally gifted can truly excel. After basic training, it is usually quite apparent what gift a student has.
Gift training takes three years and concentrates on the student’s specific gift. They will learn all that the Serrans know of their specific gift, practicing each day to hone their skills.
At the end of gift training, students must pass a series of rigorous tests. If the student passes, they are granted the official title of their gift as they graduate. For example, if the student has the sentinel gift, they would have earned the right to be called “Sentinel.”
Master training takes at least three years; sometimes more. During this time a student is assigned a mentor—a master or grand master—and they become a disciple. Having exhausted all literary research and training on their gift, master training focuses completely on gaining experience, expertise, and possibly creativity in the use of their gift.
When a student thinks he is ready, a grand master will put him through a grueling series of tests that some never overcome. A student who passes these tests is examined by the Serran Grand Master Council, who may or may not decide to graduate him and bestow upon him the title of “Master.”
Grand Master training can take a lifetime. Grand Masters must become Masters in each of the four primary spiritual gifts and show legendary skill in their own gift.
The most elite of Grand Masters may be elected to become Headmaster of their own Serran Academy.