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A Rogue Among Mages
The Council of Mages, long known for their study of arcane magical arts in Britannia, are but one of the four warring factions in constant battle for the lands of Felucca. Yet not every member of the Council of Mages focuses single-mindedly on the powers of magic. A Xerxes Xavian shows us in this Spotlight tale; even a council of powerful mages needs a rogue.

“As Xerxes Xavian moved stealthily through the dark passageways of the Shadowlord stronghold, he was reminded of how undeserving the Council of Mages’ own “stronghold” was of that description. At least the Shadowlord bunker’s winding narrow passageways were rich with hiding places for the stealthy such as himself.

“The sigils of many towns lay within the compound that night, each undergoing the process of corruption upon the evil faction’s monoliths. In particular the Magincia sigil, the icon of that town most prized by the Council of Mages, was there - and that was what had brought Xerxes to this vile place.

“The base was crawling with Shadowlord minions. Xerxes had narrowly evaded being discovered more than once already. The deeper into the stronghold he advanced, the thicker the swarms of defenders became. After waiting a long time for a group to move away from the next door he needed to sneak through, it became clear that these guards were committed to maintaining their post. Without something to distract them, he would be stuck here all night. With that realization he whispered a request for a diversion into his communication crystal and waited. Within a minute he could hear the sounds of battle and the clatter of horses hooves on the stone floor approaching from behind. A small force of Mages was staging a storming of the stronghold, and the guards at the door in front of Xerxes responded as expected and moved forward to investigate and take up defensive positions. Xerxes slipped quickly and quietly through the door while he had the chance and proceeded towards the inner sanctum.

“As he approached one of the final doorways to the sigil room with only a handful of steadfast defenders still manning their posts between him and his goal he spied what he thought might be a floor trap. If he was right, there would be no way for someone to pass through the door without setting the trap off - and the lethal poison gas usually released by such traps was sure to claim many lives if the trap was not disarmed. He looked more closely and his fears were confirmed, there was indeed a trap in the doorway.

“He knew he had no choice but to disarm it. But this would certainly reveal him and ruin his chances of reaching the sigils. He had no real fear of coming to harm as he had removed traps then escaped through magical teleportation before anyone could catch him many times before. But adrenaline still pumped through his veins at the thought of executing the maneuver again, and confusion filled his mind about all the effort he had gone to in order to get this close to the sigils only to potentially have to go through it all again.

“He snapped out of his ponderings as one of the defenders patrolled dangerously close to his position. It would only take him a matter of seconds to disarm the trap, but he had to act now or he would lose this precious opportunity. With that he leapt from the shadows and dived towards the trap, tucked in his shoulder and rolled to a crouched position by it in a well-practiced motion. The mere seconds it took him to deftly release the activation pin and spill the poison harmlessly onto the floor seemed like an eternity as the look of surprise on the guards’ faces turned to anger and they began casting spells and drawing their weapons to strike him down. The trap now rendered harmless, Xerxes chanted the arcane words that would take him to safety. Just as he visualized his destination he felt the shock of an energy bolt striking him. His eyes shot open to see the reality of the dungeon giving way to the reality of his destination and the surreal sight and sensation of a warhammer swinging straight through him without really hitting him.

“As he materialized in Magincia’s familiar surrounds, the cool evening breeze met Xerxes’ face as a welcome change to the dank mugginess of the Shadowlord dungeon. He broke into a run towards the Parliament building as soon as the few seconds of disorientation from his magical transportation were past. Within the walls of Magincia Parliament he found a large group of fellow Council of Mages members.

“’What is your report Xerxes?’ asked the Commanding Lord as Xerxes patted down his smoldering clothes and cast a small healing cantrip upon himself to help him recover from the spell that had struck him.

“’here is a strong Shadowlord force present sir, I would have had little chance of successfully taking a sigil by stealth. I was able to determine that there was only one trap in the stronghold and remove that trap however. I believe if we strike now we have the chance to take the stronghold by force and I will be able to steal all of the sigils they hold for us to carry back here.’

“’Very good Xerxes.’ replied the Commanding Lord. ‘The raiding party that created the diversion you requested holds a similar opinion. There is no time to waste, we must attack at once before they have a chance to react.’

“As the Mages poured into the magical gates that would take them to the Shadowlord stronghold and Xerxes filed in amongst them, he knew he was about to witness a mighty battle. Though part of him yearned for the glory of participating in battle rather than having to hide in the shadows and watch it unfold, he realized that the rewards of being a faction rogue were so much greater than he could ever hope for in battle. More people relied on him than any other member of the faction.

“Some may say the role of the faction rogue goes unrewarded, but those who have truly served their faction in this role know that the respect you earn from your faction mates is more than reward enough.”

Xerxes Xavian, The Elite [-E-], Council of Mages, Oceania.

We are pleased to continue to present these tales of your adventures in the world of Britannia. Join us next week as we turn our spotlight on the Shadowlords faction. And as always, keep an eye on FYI for future spotlight topics!

Published: February 2001
Please Note: Some dates are estimates as exact dates were unavailable.
Ultima Online ESRB Rating
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