The Silent Circle is an apolitical arcane society dedicated to experimentation, study, and the education of neophyte magi. At least — it used to be. At its formation after the Great War of Empires and the Drowning of Lisalhan (approximately 1400 years ago), the decision was made among the extant kingdoms and empires to permit the creation of an overall governing body for arcane training and practice. This was meant to codify rules of arcane warfare to prevent the recurrence of such catastrophes as caused the Drowning and the mass desertification of disputed land, as well as to place control of these mages beyond the hands of any single kingdom or empire.
For nearly a thousand years, the system operated properly, with the Silent Circle standing neutral in all conflicts — though member mages could choose to lay down their affiliation at any time in order to take up as mercenaries or loyalists to their own parent nations. Resolutions were drafted to ban the dangerous practice of battle-magic, which had brought about the ravaging of many battle sites and the creeping desolation of the lands around them, and later to ban the practice of necromancy in all its forms. Recalcitrant battle-mages and necromancers were slowly hunted down and eradicated.
However, by the outbreak of the War of the Lion and Eagle some 400 years ago, opinions within the Silent Circle had shifted as to the merits of neutrality. Silent Circle mages had largely been drawn from populations in the west — from the empire of Altaera, in which the Citadel at Darakus was stationed — rather than the east, which considered arcane magic to be unnatural and still followed a shamanic path. The eastern empire, Ruen Wyn, had long been an ally of Altaera, but with Altaeran-aligned mages vastly outnumbering those who sided with Ruen Wyn, and a Council almost entirely composed of Altaerans, the declaration of war between the two Empires sparked a short-lived civil war within the Circle, which ended with the remaining Circle mages siding with Altaera.
Deprived of arcane practitioners to defend it, Ruen Wyn fell to Altaeran forces — but not easily. The subsequent occupation and guerrilla warfare caused the collapse of both empires into their component principalities, and as the dust settled, the Silent Circle opened its gates to all mages once more, quietly sweeping its breach of its own laws under the rug.
The birth of the Risen Phoenix Empire from the ashes of the east drew little interest from the Circle until after the fall of the Citadel at Darakus by sabotage. The Risen Phoenix Empire offered part of its territory as a new home for the Silent Circle, and the Citadel at Valent was thus raised in the center of the Eastern Heartlands, where Circle mages had decimated the native population nearly three hundred years before.
From its new bastion, the Silent Circle continues to oversee the training of neophyte mages and the study of all forms of arcane magic, and continues to accept students from all points of the globe. However, having planted its base in the center of the Risen Phoenix Empire, it has become more and more Imperialized with each passing decade, so that now — approximately eighty years after the raising of Valent — the Silent Circle blatantly does the Empire’s bidding.
Within its area of influence — which includes the entirety of the Known North, from the Imperial Heartlands to the plains of Jernizan to the taiga of Krovichanka — there are six lawful disciplines of arcane magic. Each discipline is taught at the Citadel at Valent, with the Archmagus who heads each discipline’s faculty holding one of the Archmagus Chairs on the Valent Council.
Artificing is the discipline concerned with all aspects of crafting and enchanting arcane tools, clothing and paraphernalia, as well as the making of golems and other mindless servitors. Artificers are generally well-versed in practical crafts as well as magical ones, and study subjects as diverse as architecture, engineering, horticulture, tailoring and sculpture. Without Artificers, mages would be without their most important defensive tool — their robes — as well as all the other accoutrements that make surviving as a military or mercenary mage possible. Their golems serve as bearers, bodyguards and city defenders, and also in many jobs unsafe for humans.
The current Artificer Archmagus as of 171 Imperial Reckoning is Van Varrol of Jernizan.
Evocation, or Energies, is the discipline concerned with the direct handling of arcane power. Sometimes called channelers or battle-mages — though the latter title refers to an outlawed subset of the discipline — Evokers were once thought to call down the might of gods or spirits upon their foes. Some of that superstition still surrounds them; as the discipline with the highest rate of catastrophic burnout, it is often said that failed Evokers have felt the wrath of the gods for daring to touch their power. However, Evokers are essential for any modern military and never fail to draw recruits with their showy mastery over fire and lightning, and thus despite the danger, this discipline is far from fading away.
The current Evoker Archmagus is Shaidaxi Enkhaelen of Daecia City.
Mentalism is the discipline with the worst reputation in the Circle, but is just as essential to its smooth running as Artificing. Unlike the other five disciplines, Mentalism can not be learned; it is an inborn talent that generally manifests during puberty, and within Circle territory it is mandated that all incipient mentalists — also called Psychers — be sent to the Citadel for proper training. An untrained mentalist is a danger to everyone, and all trained mentalists are required to wear a symbol of their discipline at all times, to warn those without mental powers that they may be monitored.
While mentalists are permitted to follow other disciplines as their primary focus, many opt to join the Imperial Inquisition: the Phoenix Empire’s interrogation and mindwashing squad. Mentalists outside of the Inquisition often work as Weavers, managing the Psycher Weave which collects and cross-references the millions of reports, scry-beacons and watchtowers that dot the Empire, or find employment with local lords and magistrates, either to uphold the law or invade the minds of their lords’ enemies. As they are considered dangerous individuals no matter their affiliation, mentalists’ public lives are sharply restricted, and some even decide to have their talent excised so that they can live as common citizens.
The current Psycher Archmagus is Dzuren Qisvar of Padras, who — as he is a foreigner — is not permitted to head the Inquisition, as is usually the role of the Psycher Archmagus. The Inquisition is instead headed by Evoker Archmagus Enkhaelen.
Scrying is the discipline concerned with all manner of distance-distorting magic. A deceptive art, it is the least-understood and least-populated of the six disciplines, but its core of faculty and students is close-knit and nearly fanatical in their dedication to advancing their studies. As the ones responsible for all scrying, teleportation and portal-weaving magic, they often work in conjunction with Artificers to create objects that help take the strain of their peculiar craft from their shoulders, but even with such aid, Scryers are well-known for their tendency to simply disappear while in the midst of a spell and never be seen again.
Scryers are as essential to the Psycher Weave as the mentalists, for it is through their discipline that the watchtowers and scry-beacons that inform the Weave stay functional. ‘Permanent’ scrying magic is always in a state of decomposition; no matter how strong the Artificer’s bindings, the stress of holding the link between two distant places inevitably tears the spell — and its physical anchors — apart. Thus Scryers are constantly on the move, repairing the portals and beacons that connect the Empire and searching out new places to mark as portal destinations.
The current Scryer Archmagus is Drakisa Snowfoot of Gejara.
Summoning is the discipline concerned with the capturing, branding and commanding of minor spirits. Once considered a subset of Evocation due to that discipline’s supposed source of power, it is now acknowledged as its own art, with its own vast body of knowledge and practice. As a ‘corruption’ of shamanic practice, it is seen as offensive by many with traditional clan beliefs, but the vast array of abilities and perceptions granted by a stable of servitor spirits draws just as many to the discipline. While summoning is dangerous due to the necessity of hunting down and branding each spirit the summoner intends to use, a mistake is not as fatal as a flub in an Evocation working; most spirits targeted by summoners are minor, limited in intelligence and nearly harmless on their own. However, neophyte summoners are warned to stay away from any unknown spirit and take care to whom they reveal their powers, for there are many greater spirits that lurk in the wild places and take on mortal guise in order to trap the mortals that dare trap their kin.
The current Summoner Archmagus is Careil Salandry of Trivestes.
Wards is by far the most common discipline in the Silent Circle. Warders are trained to shape ambient energy into protective shells, walls and arrays that can withstand a variety of assaults, from the physical to the elemental and arcane — but defense is not all that they can do. While all mages, no matter their discipline, take several required courses of Wards to learn how to defend themselves, true Warders learn how to turn an enemy’s assault against him, whether it be physical or magical, as well as how to sap an enemy mage of all strength simply by letting them strike. Advanced Warders most often work in gestalt teams to raise powerful barriers that can range in size from army camps to entire cities, and many study Artificing as well, so that they can permanently protect people and places through self-renewing ward systems. As they are greatly in demand for the Imperial Army, though, Warders are often streamed through a condensed curriculum without adequate practice, and may falter on the battlefield due to a lack of conditioning or experience or simple fear of strife. Some escape the path to the army to become personal Warders, serving a patron who exempts them from military service, but for the vast majority who choose this discipline, their destiny is war.
In addition to mass gestalts, Warders are often paired up with Evokers on the battlefield, to provide protection for those deadly yet fragile Energies-wielders as they do their best to annihilate the enemy. It is sometimes said that an Evoker only survives a battle because of the Warder at his side.
The current Warder Archmagus is Cassa Farcry of Darronwy.