Celestial Compact (book)

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The Celestial Compact

Penned by Taramaine Braun

This tome I dedicate to my forefather, Jares.

Chapter One: The Formation and Existence of the Celestial Compact in Imperial Times
Chapter Two: The Magics and Foresight Practiced by the Celestial Compact

The gift of foresight is the pinnacle of the Moon Mage Guild. The most time-honored, reliable, and efficient method of gaining the knowledge with which to touch the Plane of Probability is, of course, through the stars. The stars grant great wisdom to those trained in what to look for, and that wisdom allows us to know what may be. This is the story of those who study the stars and the moons: The Celestial Compact.

Chapter One: The Formation and Existence of the Celestial Compact in Imperial Times

Who first stared into the night skies to study the stars, we know not. Who first touched upon the Plane of Probability is ancient even to the eternal city of Leth Deriel. These are things not even the greatest tomes of history or unearthed ruins will reveal to us, so antiquated is the knowledge.

But at some point in time, people of the primitive clans that occupied the continent looked to the stars, and gained insight. Tribes had their own seers and oracles, though these ancestors of modern-day Moon Mages were just as uncultivated as the clans to which they belonged.

In time, those struggling astrologists, if they can be called such, developed into what we know now as the Celestial Compact. Even from its earliest beginnings, these clan seers led their people, if not directly. No, ancient clans were typically led and commanded by one of warrior heart; a fighter who could land his people on the victorious side of battle. But within those clans where the astrological arts were developed, the leaders learned quickly to rely upon their seers. In truth, the seers were the true leaders of those early clans, for those chieftains that made hasty decisions without consulting what the future held were just as quickly led to ruin as success.

These seers were poorly-skilled compared to those of us living today, though. Their training was laughable -- each successive seer would train an apprentice to eventually take over. But think of the wisdom of the heavens as a jigsaw puzzle. Each scattered and violent clan held a single piece, which they reverently handed down through the generations, but none saw the big picture, the completed masterpiece -- what they could become with their disparate knowledge and skills combined. Unity.

Well, to be frank, that's what much of the world was like back then. Elemental mages had the same problem, as did the Clerics with their magic and knowledge of the gods. The tales of history were beyond the people of those days, as were the arts of government, architecture, alchemy. The entire world was fragmented. Thus was born the Empire of the Seven-Pointed Star, which sought to correct those failings through force. The world would be united, whether they liked it or not.

The Empire was founded on the tenets I describe above. There was to be a strong rule establishing unity and betterment among a large number of clashing cultures. The Empire of the Seven-Pointed Star was, in most ways, the birth of modern civilization. People were no longer identified by which warring clan they belonged to, not to so strong a degree as before. Oh, surely, there were still those staunch traditionalists that clung to the old way and resented what the lands had become but the rest of society did see those naysayers for what they truly were.

The continent had changed, and for the better. Knowledge, learning was preserved. The Imperials constructed numerous libraries and academies such as Gealeranendae, Izma Ru'ef, and the famed Imperial Academy. In addition, the College of Elemental Mages was established. With Imperial rule, the process of learning was finally formalized, the pieces of the puzzle were starting to come together.

In the Imperial capital, Throne City, one young woman had constructed a certain establishment, the Phelim Club, an extraordinarily exclusive institution. This young woman, a Halfling named Veila Tebaiya, was an interesting sort.

Initially a priestess at the nearby Hill of the Divine Wind, she carried out the Rites of Phelim. Until, that is, she grew bored with that lifestyle. She joined with a passing troupe of traders and explorers and accompanied them to the Outlands. We don't know how, but she amassed a fortune. Veila, now nearing her middle ages, grew bored of this lifestyle as well, and yearned for life in a busy city.

So she returned from the Outlands and made her way to Throne City. There, the fascination with the arcane she had developed in service to Phelim grew when she chanced upon an ill-fated mystic in the city. This mystic pointed out to Veila the constellation of the Nightingale, an arrangement of stars in the sky that his family had discovered over the course of many years. For you see, at that time, the numerous constellations and planets were not universally (if you shall excuse the pun) known for as I mentioned earlier, knowledge was not shared.

Veila was enticed by what she viewed as a beautiful signal in the sky, and there set her fortunes to constructing the Phelim Club in Throne City. She befriended the mystic, up until his unfortunate death two weeks later. But aside from that tragedy, the club opened with a grandiose celebration. It was, as I said, very exclusive. To gain entry to the wealthy, extravagant club, one must first have demonstrated a knowledge of the heavens. Inside was a beautiful establishment where its guests were pampered in luxury, with fine food and dining. Veila generally charged her select patrons very little, if anything at all -- she merely encouraged their gathering.

It was here in the Phelim Club that the Celestial Compact first came into existence, though it has evolved a good bit since its earliest time. One place where the skilled astrologists and seers of the time gathered and socialized, and they all quickly realized the benefit of such. They discussed many things in the club; their trade, the study and observance of the skies and the practice of foresight. Many of the seers there found that others possessed tidbits of information not generally known.

The club members, naming themselves Phelim's Compact, began to spend hours, even days, hunched around tables in the club devising celestial maps revealing the location of many constellations, maps with which they formulated the orbits of the twelve planets and three moons. The Compact quickly applied all the methods members had been using to see the future, and developed a singular, more efficient way.

But astrology, foresight, and magic were not the only things the people of Phelim's Compact discussed. There was another topic of great interest to them all: power. You see, even from their earliest and most primitive, the seers have realized that it is their place to lead. The stars give us the path to the Plane of Probability, the Plane gives us knowledge of the future. It is the destiny of those who can know what will be, to lead those who do not to guide them, to protect them, to lead them to enlightenment. It is the duty and responsibility of those gifted with foresight to lead the world into a better future, one we envision with our gifts. That is our burden.

To achieve that end, the members of Phelim's Compact began to insinuate themselves into positions of power within Imperial society. It was important to ascertain the correct decisions would be made by those in power to ensure a prosperous and beneficial future on the path to enlightenment. Many entered the employ of wealthy nobility, or the influential writers and philosophers of the time.

By now Phelim's Compact was something more than just the elite patrons of an exclusive and wealthy club. They had become a formal (and formidable) organization, that was slowly beginning to develop its own procedures, protocol, hierarchy, and motives. Lacking sanction from the Empire, the club became even more exclusive and restrictive, as its leaders were forced to meet clandestinely in the darkest nights (during the day, the building still served as a social club where a powerful group gathered to smoke their pipes, read books, and discuss current affairs). Some justice officials opposed to the Compact encouraged raids of the club to arrest the, as they called them, dissidents, but supporters of Phelim's Compact managed to prevent such raids from taking place.

Attaining strength and power was an important goal of the Compact, as I've said, but many of its members disagreed quite strongly on the methods with which to accomplish that. They each had their own ideas. But they soon enough became divided into just three separate schools of thought. A poet and entertainer who had been chartered by the Phelim Club to perform wrote the following of said divisions into an Elven satire:

"Fiery-headed and full of flaming passion, the scions of Yavash are quick to make decisions, and make them with little regret for the consequences. They act in the radiant light of the red moon's glare, and believe they should rule in the light."

"Skulking in the shadows of the black moon, these would fellows would opt to remain in the shadows of the throne. They shall safely pull the strings of puppet lords, unseen by all."

"Coldly logical and at the same time as fluid as the icy blue waters so resembling their master Xibar, this lot says moderation is the way to go. Neither of the above is right, and neither are wrong. Dark is light and light is dark."

Though not taken with the humor the satirist had hoped, his remarks about the three moons stuck. The three divisions within Phelim's Compact's hierarchy became known as the Assembly of Xibar, the Assembly of Yavash, and by far the most prominent at that time, the Assembly of Katamba. At this juncture the organization also changed its name to the Celestial Compact, in honor of the stars and moons which gave them their magic and foresight, and also as a tribute to the three Assemblies.

As time passed, more and more members of the Imperial elite saw the benefits to having among their retinue one who could touch the Plane of Probability and see the future. The Compact had been growing in power and influence, and became quite respected within many of the society's circles (it should also be noted that as the Compact grew in influence, so it grew in wealth, and many of its leading members made increasingly substantial donations to the coffers of Veila, the club's proprietor, for her role in all this -- Veila, though possessing no arcane foresight of her own, was a shrewd businesswoman who had devised a brilliant long-term plan at the start). Others saw them as frauds and charlatans who were degrading the honorable ways of the Empire's dawn. More fools who looked down their noses at progress and a better world.

Now, understand, much good came of this growth within the Compact, but there were negative side effects as well. Students came to them, seeking to learn their arts. The Phelim Club, though it had been their home for over fifty years, was no longer adequate to support their needs. And so one of the newly-appointed leaders of the Celestial Compact, one Jares Braun, opened the doors to a marvelous chapterhouse, the Phelim Club Orphanage, under the guise of giving back to society by providing a home a hot meals to the orphaned children of the Empire, many of whose parents had died fighting in the Outlands. In truth, these children were trained in the arts of foresight and celestial magic, though their training was conducted in secret. For you see, it was against Imperial law to teach as a formal institution without Imperial sanctioning (such sanctioning as was held by the College of Elemental Magic). As the Compact's strength grew, so grew the number of its enemies, and it became increasingly clear that in order to survive, the Compact would need true sanctioning. And so the Grazhir Circle set in motion a plan to attain that sanctioning.

Jares Braun, wholly in support of the beliefs of the Assembly of Katamba of which he was a member, selected two more Assemblymen from his order and sent them to a young noble by the name of Ponthilas of House Lucaid. The Grazhir Circle had determined three years prior through its scrying that young Ponthilas would become the next Emperor, the fourth of his name to hold the throne. During the interim, several skilled mages of the Compact slowly, and to the notice of none, influenced the mind of Ponthilas with their magic, making him grow unstable over the course of those three years. It was then that he was approached by the emissaries sent by Jares Braun.

Those mages quickly "cured" Ponthilas, as well as offered him sage advice. They assured him that with their help, he would rule the Empire. I am certain that this all sounds foul, but one must consider all the facts. Ponthilas would take the Imperial throne, whether the Celestial Compact aided him or not, for the Human delegates had no other alternatives. The man was paranoid, with extremely violent tendencies long before the Compact ever approached him. Had he taken the throne by himself, without the pacifying influence his Compact advisors would later offer him, Ponthilas surely would have led the Empire down the path to destruction, making foolish, suicidal decision after another. Therefore, it was fully necessary to employ whatever plan would offer success in order for the Compact to secure a position high in his counsel -- not only to ensure the Compact's survival, but the survival of the Empire as a whole.

The Compact's strategy was successful. When Ponthilas took the throne, he had surrounded himself with a large retinue of advisors from the Celestial Compact, and his advisors guided the young and foolish Emperor in making decisions that would not end in disaster, but betterment. It was a grand victory for the Celestial Compact, for not only was the Empire saved from utter destruction, but the Compact itself was no longer forced to pretend it did not exist. Sanctioning as an official College would surely follow, and the Grazhir Circle submitted its petition.

But the plans of the Grazhir Circle were derailed. The superstitious Dwarven contingent of that time was appalled by what they viewed as evil, a corrupting influence on the entire Empire of the Seven-Pointed Star, a takeover by a hostile group. One overly zealous Dwarf devised a cunning plan that would benefit solely himself... a plan created out of ambition and greed, for he was the likely choice for the Dwarven contingent in five years. This Dwarf, Saranell, approached a group of S'Kra Mur and convinced them that Ponthilas and the Celestial Compact were planning to suppress the S'Kra Mur and impose reparations upon them. Duped by the conniver's plan, the S'Kra assassin forged a q'zhalata.

On occasion, the Compact advisors were unsuccessful in pacifying Ponthilas, and the young man acted quite rashly. Unfortunately, the day they foresaw his assassination was one such instance. Warning him to stay within the palace for fear of his life, Ponthilas scorned the danger and wandered outside, where he was easily killed. As expected, Saranell II took the throne.

The new Emperor quickly rejected the Compact's petition for sanctioning. He had proven victorious then, and it appeared Saranell would attempt to seize the Phelim Club and its orphanage both. Jares Braun quickly thought up a new plan, a last resort... and the rest, as they say, is history. The Celestial Compact brought about the Magical Congress, which resulted in the Lunar Accord being signed. The Guild of Moon Mages was formed, and it received official Imperial sanctioning; Emperor Saranell II was thwarted.

The Celestial Compact sect quickly took the lead in the day-to-day running and advancement of the Guild, when the other sects mostly showed indifference at the daunting task. Jares created a Council modeled mostly after the hierarchy of the Compact, a structure which had proven to be secure and stable. Supporting the Guild not only with leadership and chapterhouses, the Compact also provided innumerous funds. Jares knew that the ruling Emperor despised the Guild, and would take any opportunity he was given to see its downfall. And so the Grandmaster dispatched Assemblymen to the racial contingents in Throne City, to country nobles, and to more influential city nobles, to the governors and military commanders across the Empire; Assemblymen who would serve as advisors to their charges, as well as aiding them with powerful utility magic. The Grandmaster hoped to gain enough widespread political support to overcome any attempts the Emperor made to dissolve the fledgling Guild. And, after all, Saranell had only a few more years remaining before a new Emperor took the throne. The Guild of Moon Mages, of course, survived.

A few tumultuous years later, the Dwarves ceded the Imperial throne. Several Emperors came and went, and the Guild prospered. Next in the rotation after the Empress Piatek was a Halfling who, like many others put forth by the Halfling contingent, had been chosen for his lack of strong viewpoints and the certainty that he'd make no major decisions and do all in his power not to... rock the boat, as the saying goes. Politically, this was a dangerous decision for that point in time, when a strong ruler was needed, but the significance of Emperor Timbleton came from an even more disastrous action carried out by the young Moon Mage Guild.

This section of my work I pen with some remorse, as the infamous Timbleton Incident, and the resulting inquiry, was one of the darkest periods of time for the Moon Mage Guild. As the Guild, and the Compact, grew stronger and stronger, so grew support for the Assembly of Yavash. One member of the Assembly wrote:

"The Assembly of Katamba is occupied by weak old men and women, who fear to take public action, who fear to take the Guild to the heights it belongs. Their methods of standing behind the rulers of the world and whispering advice, which may or may not be followed, may have proven a sound practice in the years where the Compact was forced to hide, but not now when we are an officially recognized Guild. Their hesitance to take true action is furthered by the even weaker Assembly of Xibar, moderates who are as loathe to take action and take sides as the inept Emperor Timbleton. Now is the time when action must be employed when mere words are insufficient in securing the Guild a place in this world." [Throne City Archives, 84:352:9]

Such words were the widely held view of many Guildsmen, as calls for action appealed to the youths and students. Such commentary gained frightening support, until the Assembly of Yavash outnumbered both of the other Assemblies, and until the Council was convinced by its students to act upon those words of action.

The Timbleton Incident was the result, in which widespread rebellion and insurrection broke out throughout the Empire, and it seemed the Emperor himself would be overthrown. The insurrection was unsuccessful, however, and a formal inquiry was immediately called. The Guild was nearly destroyed when all eleven Council Members save Ona Crowther were convicted of treason and sponsoring rebellion and were sentenced to imprisonment.

Following this disaster, severe penalties were enacted upon the Assembly of Yavash for its role in the affair. Those penalties limit the power the Assembly can gain, and remain in place today.

Chapter Two: The Magics and Foresight Practiced by the Celestial Compact

In the matter of types of magic, the Celestial Compact with its close connection to the moons and stars above, has always possessed an affinity for magics involving light manipulation. For example, spells such as Burn, Dazzle, Refractive Field, and Focus Moonbeam were all devised by the Celestial Compact, as were numerous advanced spells, as well as some spells not taught to students, like Cage of Light.

The Celestial Compact has always believed strongly in the ideal of unity, and this is reflected in that the greatest magics and enchantments of the Compact rely upon several mages working together in unison to accomplish a single goal. Our magic and enchantments are strengthened considerably when in groups (take, for example, the circle of mages that battled the sorcerer Kalestraum), and we have found that many things are possible when done in a group that an individual would be incapable of carrying out.

With its belief in the importance of unity, it is no surprise that the Celestial Compact should wish to apply such theories to foresight as well. We learn our knowledge of the future, as all know by tapping into the Plane of Probability, and opening a small gateway from which a driblet of insight slips through to the Plane of Abiding, into the mind of the seer. The naturally resulting theory of course, was that, "If one seer opening a small gateway receives a small bit of knowledge, then could not a group of seers opening a large gateway receive a large amount of knowledge?"

The theory was disproved, though, through several experiments. All attempts at group predictions ending in gateways large enough to allow beasts from the Plane of Probability to escape into our own. We seal this line of study. For now.

For the Guild eternally and by my hand, Taramaine Braun Guildmaster Prime of the Moon Mage Guild