In the time of Camac That Was, sorcery was an integral part of the military. All sorcerers were expected to serve time under command, and were subject to be recalled in time of need. Indeed, the leadership of the Conclave of Sorcerers, the Protectors, were also among the highest-ranking officers of Camac’s military. The nine Protectors were stationed in keeps, scattered across the empire. The First Protector, the acknowledged leader of leaders, dwelt in Camac’s Imperial Keep. Protectors wore a cape, rather than a sash, as their badge of office, taking the color of their primary element.
Under each Protector were five or six Captains, fifty in all. The title of Captain was given to those officers skilled in strategy, tactics, and diplomacy (similar to Knights in medieval Europe). They had no rank in the regular military hierarchy, but were authorized to call up to 10,000 soldiers to serve as needed (which gave them a rank equivalent to Grand Commander). The Captains were distinguished by a helmet with a silver plume.
The function of Protectors and Captains was to act in the name of the Pearl Throne during any local or regional crisis, greatly reducing the time that the empire needed to mobilize to meet a threat or emergency. Five Protectors in remote or restive (i.e. Eastern) provinces each had one of the Eyes of Byula; the First Protector in Camac had the sixth. The Eyes allowed their possessors to speak directly with one another, further reducing reaction times.
After The Madness, three Protectors and ten Captains survived. After the greatest crisis of all, it was up to them to preserve the empire. In that they failed, but they did manage to preserve some knowledge and culture for future generations. The Protectors continued to be, as of old, equally women and men; the Captains less so, but it was not uncommon for women to wear the silver-plumed helm. Unfortunately, the rest of the world descended into patriarchy through The Lost Years.
Through the Age of Heroes, Protectors and Captains were seen as essential peacekeepers and diplomats, even if they did not always live up to expectations. But with the Goblins finally exterminated for good, and the dreams of Camac Reborn fading, Protectors became little more than leaders of the Conclave of Sorcerers. Toward the end of the age, many Captains began to view their office as little more than ceremonial, a vestige of a bygone empire with no modern function.
In the ruins of Camac, the Council met—as it turned out, for the last time. The words of Captain Rietha (by then the founder and ruler of the Stolevan Matriarchy) describe the sentiment of most at that last meeting:
We have fought the good fight. We could not restore that which was long lost, but we preserved what we could. We kept the peace where possible, and maintained order where necessary. This was an age of heroes, but it is time for a new age. Folk will always look to Camac That Was as a golden age, and we can go our own way, knowing that women and men live on to remember those past glories.
Shortly after, the Captains voted to put aside the silver-plumed helm. But for many, the words of Rietha resonated, and the phrase “age of heroes” stuck.
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