Blackcliff Academy is the cruel, torturous training grounds for future Masks. Blackcliff was established by the Augurs about 300 years prior to the setting of Ember, and is known to be an impenetrable fortress: no one is to enter Blackliff unless authorised - nor shall they leave.

BlackCliffKeep Web

The official labelled (and coloured) map of Blackliff, courtesy of Jon from

 Blackcliff Students

Duty first, unto death

–The Blackcliff motto

In order of lowest grade (and ranking) to highest:


Ranging from six to eleven years old, these are the newest and least trained students.


Fivers are named as such because of the staggering amount of them that die in their fifth year at the academy.

At age eleven, the Centurions throw us out of Blackcliff and into the wilds of the Empire without clothes, food or weaponry, to survive as best as we can for four years.

–Elias, page 27 (paperback)

It is only after a Fiver returns to Blackcliff after completing their four years in the wilds that they receive their Mask.


The next four years of training undertaken by the remaining Fivers.


The two years spent training after students graduate from being Cadets.

Senior Skulls

The final year of training before the Masks graduate.

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