Geldor, the "Mage City", had an excellent strategic position. It was built into a part of a mountain, commonly known as the Crystalline Cliffs due to its oddly low temperatures all year round, and surrounded by a fast plain that stretched to the edge of the horizon, where another settlement could barely be seen.
The castle itself was a marvellous piece of architecture, with its highest tower nearly matching the height of the Crystalline Peak. The castle itself was built on the knees of the mountain, with a winding path that cut through the stone allowing movement between the town below, and the castle. This was to slow down intruders, as they would have to weave through the path to get to the castle gates, which also allows archers posted atop the castle walls to pick them off.
The city below was slightly easier to penetrate, though it still posed a great challenge. High walls made entirely out of marble, polished and smoothed to perfection, surrounded the entire perimeter with an equally high, and strong gate made of pure, refined iron. How this was accomplished during that era remains a mystery. Battalions poked through at regular intervals, while well-armed militia patrolled the walls, keeping a constant watch for threats.
It stands to reason that not many would be foolish enough to oppose Geldor. Although it has a large trade market, Geldor can be self-sufficient in times of war, provided the villages and towns that were scattered over a wide area, which made up the Empire of Relmnar, could get their produce and harvest within the city walls before any enemies descended upon them.
Still, despite the power that the sorcerers and mages in Geldor possessed, and the vast might of it's army, it was inevitable that Geldor, the capital city of Relmnar, would collapse, and send the entire Empire into disarray. Indeed, this happened, but not due to a single foreign power opposing it. Geldor's fall was mainly to be blamed on the civil unrest that plagued the entire Empire at that time, when a new type of magic, that shaped the very fabric of the different planes, was discovered.
"We, the Council of Relmnar, have come here in Geldor to discuss about the newly found class of … Magic, which was aptly named as Ultimancy, and it's practitioners Ultimancers, for it is by far the strongest of all Magic that we know."
The speaker was a man seemingly around the age of fifty, dressed in black robes with glossy edges, with long white hair that fell over his shoulders and down to his waist and a beard to match the same length, was standing in the middle of the wide, perfectly circular chamber, which consisted of five levels. The floor of the chamber was coloured by rings, with the centre being completely transparent, which hinted some sort of passage beneath it. The innermost layer was black, flecked with dark blue streaks that randomly wandered around the ring, while the outermost layer was a sky-blue, with white lines that formed an odd, flowering pattern. Between the two layers was a blood-red ring, tinged slightly with brown.
The chamber support was five columns that ran in a circle, all shorn of green marble. The only two points in the chamber that were not exactly the same as the opposite side was the High Seat, where the Emperor sat during any sessions, and the main entrance to the chamber. The High Seat was located on the second ring, which was barred off from the rest of the ring by a barrier similar to the rest. The entrance, and exit for the Emperor was located behind the High Seat, and it was heavily guarded and warded with Magic, since it led directly to his living chambers.
The rest of the chamber, like the barriers that ringed each level, (to prevent those on the second levels and above from falling) were made of white stone. On each level, there were seats near the barrier for the Council members to sit comfortably, and yet be able to view the speaker, and hear him. The chamber was built in such a way that if a noise was loud enough, it would be magnified so the entire chamber could hear. This allowed for whispered debates, and yet allowing any Council member on one of the five levels to be heard if he wished to.
At the moment, the High Sorcerer of Geldor was speaking. The ranking of the Magic-users in the Empire of Relmnar went as such; with the High Sorcerers being the most powerful, having control over all of the Magic-related matters in their given city. Among the High Sorcerers, their power was determined by the city they ruled over, with the High Sorcerer of Geldor being supreme.
Just below the High Sorcerers are the Court Sorcerers. These have the same task as the High Sorcerers, which is to ensure that Magic is not flaunted in the city; however, the difference is that the High Sorcerers have the final say in the matter.
Next on the hierarchy are the Spell Sorcerers. These are the officials that review Magic experiments that range from golems to enchanted things, and new spells to potions.
Normally, in an Empire-wide discussion, only the High and Court Sorcerers are required to attend, since they usually signify some anomaly in the flows of Magic. For a rise in criminal or renegade Magic experiments, only the High and Spell Sorcerers attend.
However, in this current session, all High, Court, and Spell Sorcerers attended, for the first time in Relmnar's history, due to the great importance of the matter in question. Even the Emperor himself was there, which was quite rare.
"Ultimancy," The High Sorcerer continued, "is known to be able to rip the very fabric of reality apart, bringing the planes together for a short period of time, which is very different from opening a portal. It draws energies, or items, directly from another plane, raw, and forces it into this plane of existence. When this is attempted by a portal, some magical properties are lost, such as the very well-known example of bringing an Astral Stone into the Material plane."
The Court murmured its approval, and fell back into silence, allowing the High Sorcerer to continue with the explanation.
"This would allow the Ultimancer to spawn fire unrivalled by any other mage, should he draw his power directly from the Fire plane. The same would go for any other example. It would allow the Ultimancer to unleash an earthquake such as never achievable by even Mother Nature herself."
By this time, any whispered conversations had ceased, and the silence was so complete it was loud. The prospect of such power was both alluring, and damned. The entire Empire would be at the mercy of a single Ultimancer, or even worse, a group.
The High Sorcerer looked around the chamber for effect. He was enjoying this. Ever since the discovery of Ultimancy, people had refused to learn how to use it. Now, he threw the hard fact in their faces, that if they could not protect themselves with their own magic, they would need Ultimancy to ward against other hostile Ultimancers, should they arise, lest the entire Empire be destroyed.
He turned to face the Emperor, layering his voice with just the right amount of graveness. "I believe I need not tell you that should an enemy Ultimancer oppose us, we might not be able to fend off even one, though all the might of Relmnar be at our command."
Whispers erupted all over the chamber as the Council members and Sorcerers leaned over to whisper to each other. Through the hissing, a single Council member spoke too loudly, and his voce carried down to where the High Sorcerer of Geldor was patiently waiting for the court to finish their private debates.
"How do we know he's telling the truth?"
His voice echoed around the chamber, silencing the rest of the court. Most of the other Council members turned to look at him with disbelief written all over their faces, and some of the Spell Sorcerers followed suit, but the others remained neutral.
The High Sorcerer was not pleased. He did not risk his position to call this meeting and be beaten by a question from a stupid Council member that understood nothing but politics and money. Quite frankly, he was sick of all this suspicion. He was doing this for the good of the Empire, and they refused to embrace their only chance at salvation. It was time to be blunt.
"Council member…" He turned to look up at the highest level, where the offender was only half-seated in his defiance. "I did not come here to struggle with petty politics. I ensure you, while you may think I may be scaring the Court to legalize Ultimancy so I can further my studies in it to use it in mutinous ways, I am here for the good of the Empire as a whole. We did not survive five hundred years to be threatened, and possibly destroyed, by a single Ultimancer. It would be such a waste of our ancestor's hard work."
Despite the truth in the words of the High Sorcerer, the Council members still remained unconvinced, as could plainly be seen by their looks.
Perhaps, the High Sorcerer thought to himself, it is time for more… drastic measures.
"Council members…" He cast his gaze around the top level, resting his eyes briefly on each disbelieving face. "While you may feel safe here, with all the Sorcerers, I assure you I can kill all of you with a few spells. And while I may die in the attempt, I assure you that you all will not be able to stop me before I kill all of you. What little Ultimancy I know is enough."
The entire Court recoiled, and some of the High Sorcerers that wanted the Geldor position stood up, ready to challenge him. Political struggles were well and alive in the Empire.
"And if what little I know is enough… can you imagine if a learned Ultimancer were to challenge Geldor?"
Again, the Court broke into whispers, louder this time, but what words that echoed out were lost in a babble of other echoes.
The Emperor raised a hand, and the Court silenced itself at once. With that, he turned towards the High Sorcerer of Geldor. The Emperor was on his side, but he knew that he couldn't simply speak and expect his orders to be carried out. A demonstration was needed to show the people that there was indeed a danger. The Emperor himself should know; he practiced a little Ultimancy when it was discovered, which explained why the entire Court Hall, where feasts were held, was in shambles two months ago. It was blamed on some alchemy, and investigations were never carried out, by the Emperor's orders.
He gave a slight nod, which went unnoticed by all save the High Sorcerer. The rest of the Court had their attention focused on him.
The High Sorcerer returned the nod, ever so slightly, and turned to the first ring, which consisted of the High Sorcerers of the other cities. "To show you that this threat is real, I challenge anyone here to a fair duel with Magic."
At first, nobody dared to respond. The Emperor shifted slightly in his seat and spoke. "This will be ignored by the Court Law of peace. The duel's aim will be for death. This will be the only exception of Court Law, however. It is to prove a point."
That made the Court even more hesitant. The Emperor was on the High Sorcerer's side. After about a minute, the lure of taking over his position became too great. The High Sorcerer of Creyvlor, the second-most important city in the Empire, also the one closest to Geldor, stepped forward into the circle. Geldor's Sorcerer motioned for him to stand at the other end, near the entrance, while he himself backed up, so that the three coloured circles were unoccupied.
"You may make the first move, my friend." Geldor's High Sorcerer smiled a friendly smile, which the other did not return.
Only too glad to oblige, Creyvlor's Sorcerer cried out a spell and motioned throwing something at the other Sorcerer. A jet of red light shot towards him with a crack like thunder. The power of the spell, and the power put into the spell itself was so great that it sent ripples of energy pulsing through the chamber.
There was another crack of thunder, and the red bolt simply dissipated. Geldor's Sorcerer had only raised a finger and pointed it at the oncoming bolt. Jaws were dropping around the chamber.
He raised his hand and faced his palm towards Creyvlor's Sorcerer, who readied himself for the attack.
The High Sorcerer of Geldor uttered a single word, the fraction of a spell, and a dull explosion resounded across the chamber, vibrating the floors. A single speck of orange and red, not larger than a gold coin, flew towards the opposing Sorcerer.
Creyvlor's Sorcerer attempted a Banishing spell on the projectile, but nothing happened. By this time, the jet was merely three feet in front of him. Pushing his palm in front, he screeched out another spell, which formed a large purple mass of energy that fanned out to shield him. The entire Court knew this to be the strongest shielding spell found up to this date, and relaxed, thinking that the High Sorcerer would be safe.
They were wrong.
The glob of pure fire and magical energy summoned directly from the Fire plane impacted with the shield, and another explosion, this time louder, rocked the chamber, causing it to shake badly. The shield changed it's tone as it absorbed the energies of the projectile, and erupted as it was destroyed. The rest of the fire energy was flung about and vanished before it did any more harm. Creyvlor's Sorcerer was flung back a good five feet before he hit the door, which opened under the force of the blow. The kinetic energy carried him another ten feet into the corridor wall, and a sickening crack was heard as his spine cracked.
"That, gentlemen, was just a fraction of the fire spell using Ultimancy."
The Emperor chuckled, and motioned to a nearly scribe who was recording the things said. At the moment, he had stopped; his mouth was hanging wide open. As the Emperor called him, he snapped back to attention.
"Get a Cleric here. This meeting is now ended, and we will legalize Ultimancy. Any objections?"
The Court was silent, still gaping.
"Good. Then the High Sorcerer of Geldor has proven his point. He will oversee all Ultimancy procedures. Any who flaunt Ultimancy without my permission will be executed on the spot. This session is over."
He rose and left after give the High Sorcerer of Geldor a nod, who returned it and left as well, leaving the stunned Court behind, and a crippled High Sorcerer of Creyvlor waiting for the Cleric.