Of Smoke and Mirrors
The Institute for the Study of Aetherics, Magical Artefacts and Mystical Creatures
The Institute for the Studies of the Aetheric, Magical Artefacts and Mystical Creatures is a recent addition to the University Collage London, part of the recently chartered University of London, the institute being established as a branch of the Department of Thaumaturgy in the year 1843. The Institute, though oft scoffed at by the more traditional scholars of Thaumaturgy at Oxford and Cambridge, is a cross-disciplinary research institute aimed at joining the study of magic with modern natural and social science both. Amongst their most prominent associates and/or graduates is Dr Charles Darwin famed proponent of the theory of evolution, Alexander Maconochie (penal reformer) famed for his study of telluan lines and the former decan Alexander Harlow, former Lord Harlow, a prominent researcher of Aetheric Beasts.
As a cross-disciplinary research institute the institution welcomes both practitioners of Thaumaturgy and regular scholars, though so far the former have made up the clear majority. It has a reputation however for experimental and cutting edge work, a reputation created by Alexander Harlow, particularly in the field of mystical creatures, the telluan lines and their connection to the little understood antediluvian world. Covering a wide variety of fields the institute doesn’t by itself offer courses though several field trips are organized together with the Department of Thaumaturgy. The institute is also regularly called upon to aid government agencies, most frequently the aetheric branch of the London Police, in various capabilities.
With a majority of its staff recently deceased or permanently hospitalized after a research expedition to Norway and Kvenland, including the previous decanus, it as of yet unknown how the institute will develop in the years to come.
The Institute for the Studies of Aetherics, Magical Artefacts and Mystical Creatures are housed on the grounds of the University of London’s university collage. Located in the south-eastern end of the grounds, behind the lawns and tree lined walks of Gordon Square and right across from the Menagerie, the institute is housed in Harlow’s Tower or simply the Harlow. It is a solid brick building in a rustic country-side style originally built as Lord Harlow’s personal residence. For this reason, and as the previous Lord Harlow was an eldren of some two-hundred years, the institute building has a certain air of age and distinction about it. The front door is noticeably inlaid with the imagine of a winding snake in silver, its eyes set with red rubies, a common antediluvian motif. Beyond it, on the first floor, one enters into a wide hall, furnished with an area for quiet relaxation before a large fireplace. Several adjacent rooms are given over to various communal research facilities, most noticeably the institutes library with a fine and extensive collection on aetheric topics and completely furnished with the cosy amenities of a home study. Next to it lies the aetheric laboratory, a room filled with all manners of exotic apparatuses, heavily warded so to keep any accidental discharges and/or summoning contained. Following it is an altogether more mundane dissection room mainly used for the study of the properties of mystical creatures as well as Professor Cunninghams rather more morbid works. Finally there is a small kitchen and servant quarter where the housekeeper, a stout woman by the name of mrs Jones, prepare meals and refreshments as required.
A circling flight of stairs takes one to the second floor where the various professors and associates of the institute have their offices. Currently three rooms are vacant with their staff soon to arrive. The one closest to the stairs belong to Professor Lindström, filled with cryptologic tables, charts and an endless mess of papers. The second last office is that of Professor Cunningham, a macabre place where odd growths wobble in sealed jars while charts display the anatomy of various sapients. The final office of the second floor has been given over to the institutes official expedition expert, sir McGill. It is a spacious office with but simple furniture but complete with grand windows facing the menagerie and a fireplace for the cold London days. The room also contains a weapon cabinet. Finally, following a set of winding stairs up at the end of the second floor one reaches the tower, containing the spacious office of the institute’s decanus.
There is a second set of stairs up to the buildings attic that is used as a treasury, storing valuable and important finds as well as other valuables. The buildings cellar is also mainly used as storage, though two small cells are furnished to contain live specimen…