Zork Musical Academy, class of 946

The Frigid River Branch Conservatory is located on a promontory on the eastern shore of the enormous Frigid River Branch immediately south of Flood Control Dam #7 and near Zorokesh in the Desert River Province. The palatial Venetian-style glass structure was constructed by the Frobozz Building Consortium between Mumberbur 923 and Estuary 924 GUE to be Zork's first private musical conservatory: the Zork Musical Academy for Girls, where the women would attend before being enrolled in the Frobozz Philharmonic school. General Thaddeus Kaine was the principal founder and donater. The renowed classical pianist of the Frobozz Philharmonic Orchestra, and talenest violinst, Madame Sophia Hamilton was the esteemed, and first, headmistress of the Frigid River Branch Conservatory. Under her able management it quickly became Zork's finest academy.

The Conservatory, while emphasizing the Zork violin, recognized the classical beauty of all eight instruments of the traditional Z’orchestral Philharmonic. Courses of study were also offered in Z’orchestral architecture and instrumental arrangement, as it was felt that the proper placement of the instruments, according to the formal Zork Orchestral Layout, was critical to the success of a concert.

The interior of the Conservatory was a vast space, elegant and lavish. Paintings and frescoes of waterscapes, fountains, and water nymphs adorned the walls. The main level of this mammoth building contained the auditorium and stage (which climbed into the second and third level with an abundance of box seats), the lobby, practice rooms, the director's office, classrooms, and staff offices (the latter two which were part of a wing washed away by the river). The second level included the lounge, student dormitory, and the headmistresses chambers. The two basement levels contained the prop room, boiler room, submerged rooms, and a grotto where Sophia Hamilton practiced her arts of alchemy until 945.

The young Alexandria Wolfe was enrolled in the academy in 937 at the age of 13, until her temporary death in 945. Throughout that period, she would perform in several public recitals, including "Air on a Grue String", her own original composition "Concerto for Violin and Frobophone", several performances of "Harmony of the Spheres: A Composition in Six Notes", "Music for the Moon" which was played by the river under the stars, and her final performance, "Descent of Yoruk into Hell."

The Frigid River Branch Conservatory frequently held donation performances, such as a Coronation Recital, held on Oracle 22, 944. The preceeds from the recital were to be dedicated to the Frigid Memorial Scholarship Fund. This Coronation Recital features a collection of pieces composed and performed by Madame Sophia Hamilton and accompanied by Alexandria Wolfe (including the Harmony of the Spheres), as well as the Berliozz Enchanted Symphony and the Traditional Closing Anthem. An intermission featured a lecture by Bishop Francois Malveaux, who excerpted his much lauded volume, "Revelation and Eternity."

Madame Sophia Hamilton was murdered at the end of 945. After her death, a curse cast its shadow when the bitter Lucien Kaine wandered the Eastlands, manifesting his anger by tormenting the scattered enclaves of society that occupied regions near the alchemists' homes. Almost at once, affairs in these regions soured as evil began to emanate from the land. Haunting and hallucinations began to sprout in various cavities, including the regions surrounding the Conservatory. Merchants and trading caravans that still moved through the area began to report nightmares and visions so powerful that they lingered for weeks in the minds of the victims, while chronic hallucinations haunted the natives along the borders. Travelers began to disappear. Soon the entire sky over the entire Desert River Province became covered with distorted faces and figures. The Nemesis (Lucien Kaine) was placed at the center of these events. King Syovar, who was already dwindling in power, was wary of the bizarre haunting taking place on the fringes of his domain. Fearing that the land was being controlled by his political and ever increasingly powerful opponents, the Enchanters, he was prompted to declare these lands “The Forbidden Lands.” All access was barred to the Desert River Province.

Located in no-man's land halfway between the castle of Irondune and Syovar's strongest positions the Conservatory was closed down due in 947 to a lack of students and funds. The few rich elite still left around the Eastlands all felt free to frequent the place for short time until the hauntings grew so terrible that they were forced to flee. A single cleaning woman remained despite the terror. The building suffered much devastation at the hands of Ellron's rampaging hordes. Unattended, everything became faded and mildewed—mold crept across most of the canvases and water stained the expensive oriental rugs. Eventually the entire western wing of the structure collapsed into the river; its remnants were washed away.

When visited by Bivotar, an agent of Syovar, in 948, he would describe the dilapidation of the Conservatory:

The atmosphere of that imposing structure hung heavy and still, and I saw that it had fallen into disrepair, since the disappearance of its ruling Madame. I felt strangely sympathetic to her, as if being in her rare, cultured world could show me something of her refined presence, or teach me something of her expert knowledge. If I stood for a moment listening, it was almost if I could hear lingering melodies from years ago. I felt for her, a moment, a strange sadness. I believe time is not so fixed in this place as elsewhere—though I know here, as everywhere, the old must eventually be replaced with the new...

And while he was exploring the innards of the academy:

A darkness came over me, a feeling of utter fury, a kind of hatred I have never before known. I screamed—I could not help myself—and found that the sound I heard was not my voice, the roar of a great beast, a daemon in a murderous frenzy, as if the mighty river had opened its throat. I heard the gentle pierce of glass breaking, and I looked up to see a cleaning woman. She backed away from me—making the sign of Yoruk over her breast—and whispered, “Nemesis.” Perhaps the curse of this land is working upon me yet. It is difficult to stay untouched.

When the curse of the Nemesis was annulled in 949 by an unknown pilgrim, the region was freed from the hallucinations and the disturbances, thus freeing Zork of the Forbidden Lands.

    The plumbing work for the Conservatory was done by G.U.E. Plumbing.

SOURCE(S): Zork:Nemesis (game, Bivotar's journal [final & unedited versions], design documents)