Chapter One: A Secret Meeting of the Mage’s Council
Lord Butterworth of the Crimson Mage’s Guild sat on the throne in his palace outside of Britain. His eyes traveled around the room checking the placement of his vast collection of magical artifacts. His servants called this the “Trophy Room” as it had no functional purpose, it was only meant to impress visitors to his palace. Butterworth was a Legendary Mage, and he had created many of those legends himself on his climb to the position of Chancellor of the Mages Council. This title served to increase his wealth and power as well as that of the Crimson Mages Guild.
At one time, he had tried to bring the Mage’s Council under the control of the Crimson Mages Guild. His claims of “increased organizational efficiency” were rebuffed by the other mages, many of whom where free spirits that resented authority. This move had brought some embarrassment to the other members of the Crimson Mage’s Guild and Butterworth had been voted out of his position as Guild Leader after that.
This was but a minor setback to Butterworth’s plans for self-induced greatness. While leader of the Crimson Mage’s Guild he built a powerful network of merchants and mages that also aspired to fame and Butterworth drafted lucrative contracts for services that remained intact as long as he was Chancellor of the Mage’s Council. He used his influence with the wealthy merchant class to gain an audience with King Blackthorn and in this private meeting he suggested that the realm should officially recognize the Mage’s Council, and perhaps even select one of its members as a trusted, and officially appointed advisor to the King.
The title of King’s High Chancellor of Magery was an aspiration he kept secret from the other members of the Mage’s Council. Many of them preferred to keep out of politics and some even resented Blackthorn’s coronation. In discussions with King Blackthorn, Butterworth claimed to have the full support of the Mage’s Council and even hinted that they supported him for the role of High Chancellor. Of course, he feigned humility and claimed that he was not worthy of such a role but that was part of his plan. If… no, when the King created the new advisory position and named Butterworth as High Chancellor he would then turn to the members of the Mages Council and claim that the role had been suggested by King Blackthorn himself, and that he could not refuse the King!
As Butterworth sat on his throne, he daydreamed about his future greatness and thus was greatly annoyed when a messenger was shown into the room by one of his servants.
“What is this interruption!” Butterworth sat upright in his throne and stared at the messenger. He noted the lad held a scroll that bore the official seal of the Mage’s Council. “What is that lad? SPEAK!”
The messenger unrolled the scroll and in a trembling voice, read its contents…
Lord Raven of Minoc requests an emergency meeting of the Mage’s Council. The purpose of the meeting can not be disclosed as it bears a high level of importance and secrecy is required of all those that attend. The meeting shall be held three days hence at the location designated: ➿
The messenger turned the scroll to Lord Butterworth so he could see the secret symbol designating the location of the meeting.
At one time, the Mage’s Council held their meetings at the Britain Library but spies had infiltrated the once trusted library staff and now the meetings were held in secret at random locations. Lord Raven had developed a codex that listed the secret locations, and included a hand-drawn map marked with the symbol for each location. Butterworth resisted the transition from public to secret meetings, claiming that it was important for the Mage’s Council to conduct its meetings in public to deflect the natural suspicions the common-folk had toward mages. Of course, Butterworth’s primary motivation for meeting publicly was so that he could walk through Britain, before and after the meeting to broadcast his importance as Chancellor of the Mage’s Council. Butterworth reveled in the attention he gained, and secret meetings robbed him of the opportunity to promote his importance to the Lords and Ladies of Britain.
After an assassination attempt was made against the council members, the matter was closed and from that day on all meetings were held in secret. Butterworth secretly blamed Lord Raven for the assasination attempt as it was made during the height of his conflict with Firmus the Cruel and many thought Firmus had hired the assassins in an attempt to kill Raven.
The codex was considered a secret document to be guarded at all costs, but Butterworth made no effort to hide it from the messenger or his servant as he idley flipped through the pages to identify the location designated by the “➿” symbol.
“Ah… the Moonglow Observatory! Why on earth must we meet there? There is always a cold sea breeze and it’s breeding season for the Mongbats. The air will be filled with their raucous squeaks. Damn Raven!”
With a flick of his hand, Lord Butterworth dismised both messenger and servant. He returned to sit on his throne and turned his attention to a tapestry of Sosaria.
The servant walked the messenger to the back gate of the palace and held out a small pouch filled with gold coins.
“Forget what you have seen and heard today, messenger.” The servant placed the pouch in the messenger’s outstretched hand. The messenger noted that it was heavier than the usual gratuity.
As he strolled down the path the messenger could not resist thinking: “If my silence is worth this much gold, how much is the news and location of the meeting worth to others?”
The messenger struggled to remember the map he had seen and the symbols inscribed upon it. The more information he had to sell, the more gold he could make!