When someone heard referring to the King\'s Council Chamber, usually his mind would think of the throne room.
More than twenty meters (66,6 feet) long and over ten meters (33,3 feet) large, a single red silk carpet with gold embroidered edges going from the three meters (10 feet) wide double doors up to the two steps that distanced the floor where nobles stood and the raised one for the royal family.
That way, even sitting on their gold thrones, carved to resemble a rampant griffon, they would be able to look down on everyone present, reaffirming they status and authority.
The whole room was lit by crystal chandeliers, fueled by magic, leaving no space for shadows or need for maintenance.
On the walls, magically enchanted tapestries would recount over and over the great feats that the current King had accomplished to be deemed worthy of his power.
Both the floor and the pillars of the room were realized from gold veined marble, the most precious and robust material available in the Griffon Kingdom.
And that someone would be dead wrong.
The throne room was perfect for holding social events or awarding a particular general or noble.
But when it came down to state secrets, it was a security nightmare.
Between the main entrance, the servants\' passages, the secret passages and the balconies for the spectators, circling around the room, a small army of spies could easily go unnoticed, even after searching the whole place with a tooth comb.
The real Council Chamber was located in the King\'s private apartments, inside of a heavily guarded tower.
The room was about 6 meters (20 feet) long and 4 meters (13 feet) large with only a round table and wooden chairs as furniture.
The round table didn\'t mean that every opinion held the same importance, it was simply the only way to be heard from every side of the room without the need of shouting non-stop.
Aside from the furniture, the room was bare, with no windows and only one entrance.
Both the floor and the walls were of a pale grey, there was no colour outside that of the magical stones the room was made of.
Most of the assemblies would last hours, and given the sensitive nature of the subjects that required the King\'s direct approval, discretion was of vital importance.
The whole place was enchanted to prevent eavesdropping, either by conventional or magical means, not to mention all the protections necessary to avoid the whole high command getting killed in one fell swoop.
In that particular day, the Council Chamber wasn\'t occupied by ministers or generals, but by the upper echelons of the Mage Association.
In such occasions, it was the Queen\'s duty chairing the debate.
For the Crown to have absolute control over both political and magical matters, responsibilities were shared as such.
The one of the royal couple most versed in the magical arts would become the head of the Mage Association.
The other, would be in charge of all the military power and oversee the ministers\' activities.
Together, they would hold all the keys to the Kingdom.
Queen Sylpha wore a simple blue satin morning dress, with long sleeves covering her arms.
Despite being over fifty years old, it was hard thinking her a day past thirty.
With her square chin and sharp features, she couldn\'t be considered beautiful, but the aura of confidence and power she exuded coupled with her perfect manners, still made her quite charming.
Your Majesty, we still cannot find Linnea. Said a bald middle-aged man with a grey goatee.
We are certain she hasn\'t crossed the borders yet.
She would never leave her children behind.
The Queen dilated her nostrils in annoyance.
Recently she would only receive bad news.
And I want results, not hypothesis! If you can\'t find her, she could have defected to the Blood Sand tribes or even hiding up my powdered a*s for all I care.
What about the Gorgon Empire Is it true that they are developing clairvoyance magic
The idea of their worst enemy being able to spy on them from a safe distance, caused the Queen to lose sleep over it.
Yes and no. Sniggered an old woman with long white hair, held up in a pony tail.
Yes, they spent thousands of gold coins to indulge the Emperor obsession with prophets, seers and all that cr*p about predicting the future.
No, because up to date all those so called \'mediums\' were only frauds.
Some of them were actually our agents, that managed to drain considerable sums before disappearing.
Finally, something goes right! She slammed the table with her fist hard enough to make several goblets fall off.
What about the great academies An awkward silence fell into the room, instantly ruining her good mood.
Your Majesty, maybe you should reconsider your line of action. Said a tall middle-aged woman with short red hair.
So many changes at once are hard to accept.
It would be better to implement them one by one over time.
One by one over time. The Queen echoed, drumming with her slender fingers on the armrest.
Tell me, dear Bolna, how long has the Mage Association tried to change the rules nice and easy, to avoid unrest Her tone was calm and amiable, causing those present to shudder.
The Queen was many things, but amiable was not one of those.
As any purebred politician, she was capable of hiding her emotions and thoughts whenever it was necessary, but her nature was that of a fiery woman, passionate in everything she did.
When speaking about state affairs with her counsellors, she would not mince words or waste time with niceties.
Her being calm meant that a storm was incoming.
Over forty years. The woman swallowed a lump of saliva, forcing herself to answer without trembling.
Even before my crowning, yes.
And how many rules have been actually been changed until now
How many potential Magi did we lose during all this time Her voice had turned stone cold.
At least four. Incapable of returning the Queen\'s gaze, Bolna lowered her eyes.
All of them defected swearing an oath of vengeance.
Let me get this straight. The Queen pulled back her chair, standing up.
She was a woman of average stature 1.62 meters (5\'4) high with a slender build.
Despite being held up in a chignon, the long black hair still revealed her uncanny gift for the mystical arts, with all the six shades of colours marking her as blessed by all the gods of magic.
We lost four one-man armies for nothing but petty grudges, and your great idea is to keep up the \'good work\' The Queen moved so fast that one could think she had Blinked, but the blur behind her told a different story.
She had simply walked.
Do you think that when the god of death returns from the Blood Desert, leading the army of undead that he has been raising for all this time, will he take his revenge bit by bit overtime, or just slaughter us all
Sylpha said while lifting her by the neck with only one hand, despite Bolna was taller and double her weight.
None dared to interfere.
All of those present were very powerful archmages, but there was a reason for Sylpha being the Queen.
She was capable of casting several spells with barely any delay, moving faster than a wild beast and ripping in half a fully armed knight with her bare hands.
Many suspected she was actually a dragon in human form.
Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the very definition of madness. She brought Bolna\'s purple face near her own.
Your masters should have trained you better. Sylpha clenched her fist, producing a snap, before throwing the body in a corner of the room.
Bolna\'s head was now tilted at an unnatural angle, her limbs sprawled under the heavy magician robe.
Now that we got rid of the spy among our ranks, we shouldn\'t lose so many agents anymore. She said returning to her chair.
Bolna was a spy! Everyone was shocked at the news, questioning and discussing what had just happened.
Yes, she was. The Queen rubbed her forehead with a sad expression.
She looked tired and thin, with no trace of her previous vigour.
The old families have their men and women planted everywhere.
Academies, Court, even the Mage Association is not outside their grasp.
They know I invested too much money and energies in the White Griffon.
If my project fails, it will be only on me.
I would be left with no choice but leave everything as it is, hoping that my successor will have better skill and luck.
I may even be forced to resign as head of the Mage Association and leave the position to one of my children.
I already have too many failures on my shoulders, another one of such significance and my authority and role would be greatly diminished.
Even I would question my competence.
Th Queen\'s aides didn\'t know what to say, so they waited in silence for her to recover.
Bolna\'s reports were all fake.
The unrest is growing, many took their children failing grades or being expelled as personal attacks.
They can\'t stand anymore not being in control.
She took out several folders from a dimensional ring, passing them to the old wizards, for them to see with their eyes how dire the situation was.
According to the documents and the transcribed conversations, the Kingdom was on the verge of a civil war.
The new nobles, those who had risen in status thanks to their talent and achievements, be them of military or magical nature, weren\'t willing anymore to live their lives under the heel of an unfair system.
The old nobles, instead, felt their position threatened, and feared losing some of their privileges, or even worse, being forced to share resources that up to that point had been their exclusive.
The two factions were now too close in numbers and power, it was only a matter of time before the old balance crumbled.
I know that despite being loyal to the Crown, many of you do not really support my idea. Sylpha sighed.
But I need you to understand how much is at stake.
No matter what your personal beliefs are, if the White Griffon turns out to be just another failure, we\'ll have a generation at best, before the Kingdom plunges into chaos.