A Kingdom of Order
The Mysterium is the society of magic-wielders within the world of Edelweiss. The Mysterium has existed since before the founding of the Old Kingdom. It is at the same time a school for new mages and wizards, a fraternity of the Gifted, a go-to magical service, and a political organization which advises and backs the rules of the kingdom.
The Mysterium possesses all of the land north of the Hyborn and Hybren mountain ranges and Lake Derbrenn. It claims this land as its ages-old right and because they claim the land is infused with magical energy, such that training in the area is necessary in order to master the magical arts. Non-Gifted are not permitted to cross the mountains or to step upon the norther shore of Lake Derbrenn. Once a Gifted child is admitted to the Mysterium, he does not leave again until he has completed his training. If an individual fails the training or chooses to withdraw, he does not leave, but instead remains within Mysterium lands as a servant, helper, or other form of worker.
Individuals who are outside the Mysterium know very little about this elusive organization. To the non-Gifted, the training procedures, political hierarchy, methods, goals, and internal disagreement all remain a mystery. To most, the Mysterium is a homogeneous group of esoteric, eccentric individuals who wield incomprehensible power in the service of the nobility. To the skeptics, it is also an organization with nefarious goals, questionable motives, and surely-evil means served by conjurers whose words, deeds, and intentions are not to be trusted.
The Mysterium is divided philosophically into two courts—the Celestial Court, whose members are called Sorcerers, and the Shadow Court, whose members are called Wizards. Both Courts are concerned with maintaining the stability of the kingdom and maintaining peace and prosperity. They differ, however, in what they feel is the best way to go about achieving this goal.
The Celestial Court believes in taking a passive role in the governance of the kingdom; it supports the nobility, aids it in its goals, and assists in maintaining order. It does not however, seek to influence the decisions of the king or the nobles. It gives advice only when asked and does no more than maintain order passively by supporting the rulers it advises.
The Shadow Court, on the other hand, believes in actively pushing a stabilizing agenda within the kingdom. It manipulates the rulers and takes action when necessary to ensure that the kingdom remains stabilized. It will readily make its opinions known to the king.
These two political philosophies interact to create the whole Mysterium. Though they disagreee, discussion between the two courts tends to remain civil, and they tend to cooperate to decide the overall best course of action.
The Mysterium is governed by a Council of Mages consisting of 16 members, 8 sorcerers and 8 wizards, selected by general body for their trusted knowledge and great accomplishments in the Art. The Council is headed by another member called the Grand Magister who is selected by the Council from the general body. The Council and the Magister together handle the daily operation of the Mysterium and make most of the important decisions. At any time, however, any member of the Council may call for the entire general body to meet to discuss and decide upon an issue of great importance and consequence.
When a child is identified as Gifted (much more frequently from noble families), he is taken at around the age of 10 to live at the Mysterium. He is trained for approximately 11 years before he is released as a journeyman. As a journeyman, he travels the world, performing tasks in an overall plan devised by agreement between himself and the Council. After traveling for several years, he returns to the Mysterium and undergoes his final trials before the Council. If he fails these trials, he must undergo a second journey. If he passes, he is bestowed a magical title and given a post within the kingdom.
There are a variety of posts that exist within the kingdom. First, there are posts within the Mysterium as instructors, researchers, librarians, sentries, and advisers. Second, each House is assigned a mage to assist it magically, to advise it, and, according to the Shadow Court, to monitor its activities. Third, the royal court and other important individuals are assigned personal mages to serve as bodyguards. Fourth, many mages pursue personal goals and act almost like freelancers; they go where in the kingdom they want and periodically are called upon to perform tasks or undergo missions for the Mysterium. Mages serving in this role do many things, from hunting undead to heading shipping companies.