The Reason The Meeting began on time… Cloaked by magic and fear, the representatives were known only by the organizations they represented, never by name, face or voice. Yet despite the magical protections put in place, anonymity was more a pretense of politeness then practicality as most gathered were already known to each other. A few remained in the shadows out of fear of the consequences and accusations of treason. A representative for the Meer called the meeting to order. If any group had cause to be wary of the new King of Britannia, it was the Meer. As the gathering settled the Meer representative stepped back and waved forward an unknown figure from the group calling itself “The Partisans”. The figure masked in shadow, stepped forward to speak, it’s voiced cloaked by magic so as to be impossible to tell age, race or even sex. “Greetings and Well Met. Thank you for agreeing to meet tonight. We understand that for some of you, attending this meeting comes at great personal peril. I hope that the information we convey to be worth the risk. Since the ascension of Blackthorn to the throne of Britannia, our organization has worked tirelessly to infiltrate various government offices, and organizations throughout the New Blackthornian government to answer the questions and concerns that have us whispering in the shadows…Who is Blackthorn and what are his intentions? To that end this is what we have discovered. Despite initial doubts, we believe this man to be the real Blackthorn and not some magical creation, doppelganger or rogue imposter. We have and continue to use all magical and non-magical means at our disposal to detect any inconsistencies in his story or outside influences of which we have found none. Whatever afflicted him during his days with Exodus does not appear to be ailing him now. We have been unable to confirm or deny his tale of fanned death, his escape from Exodus, where he has been all this time or the reason for his sudden and convenient reappearance after the death of Queen Dawn. As far as we can tell, he is free of any mind control, contamination or outside magical influences. Furthermore, he truly appears to be the Blackthorn of old, from his policies all the way down to his manner of speech, dress and habits. There are even rumors that Blackthorn is creating a democratically elected council to aid him in his rule.” Silence…. The gathering seemed to be taken aback by what could only be good news. No evil plot to subjugate the people of Britannia, no mad plan for world domination, no evil puppet master pulling the strings from behind the scenes. Blackthorn for all intents and purposes appeared to be exactly who and what he said he was. The Partisan’s representative stepped back and still no one spoke. The glue that had held the group together appeared to be dissolving. Minutes past and it appeared the meeting was at its end, when the representative of The Order stepped forward. “On the surface this appears to be great news….Blackthorn is back, Britannia is saved, all is well… but is it truly?? Do you feel it in the pit of your stomachs, the ache when you know something is wrong but can not place your finger on it. That second of hesitation that provides the opening for the assassin’s dagger. This is perhaps the scariest news we have learned so far. Are you really so surprised that no dark, sinister plot is taking place behind the scenes? I for one am not! Britannia has become so lost that the plot need not occur in the shadows; it’s occurring right in front of our eyes. The followers of Virtue and Order are the ones who have been relegated to the shadows while the founder of the Chaos Guard sits upon the throne he has always coveted. All the while tricking the people into believing he was doing them a favor, protecting them, saving them… Time has washed from our memories all the things Blackthorn has done and it is we, the protectors of Order and Virtue, who must step forward and reveal the truth to the World. We all know, Lord British valued Blackthorn as an advisor and loved him as a friend. But it was his love for his friend that afforded Blackthorn the leeway to act in ways that were borderline treasonous even then. Blackthorn has always been known for his silver tongue and keen intellect but never did Lord British consider Blackthorn the person to succeed him as King for he knew the man did not possess his heart and Britannia is nothing, if not the heart of Lord British. When Lord British learned the effect the destruction of the Gem of Immortality had on the land, he set into motion a plan to restore the world. No one more bitterly opposed this then Blackthorn and their friendship was from that point ever strained. Blackthorn went as far as to create a personal guard to thwart Lord British’s plans. It is no wonder Nystul refused to turn the reigns of the Kingdom over to Blackthorn when Lord British departed. He is no more fit today then he was then and the decisions he has made since that indicate he is even less so.” With the silence broken, voices across the room chimed in…a few scattered voices defended the new King but most condemned the man for actions both past and present. A strong voice rose above the din and silenced the gathering. The Gargoyle stood in plain sight and spoke with no magical disguise. He represented the gargoyles of Ilshenar, a people enslaved and abused at the hands of Blackthorn when in service to Exodus. “To believe Blackthorn not the only human gifted with a silver tongue. “ The gargoyle nodded toward the speaker from the Order, “But to not disagree with what the Order has said. To have seen the true heart of Blackthorn, to have no doubt his heart, is not the heart of Virtue”. Another Gargoyle stepped forward, this one from the Abyss, an emissary of Queen Zhan. “To agree and support our brethren. To have trusted and befriended Britannia when led by Queen Dawn. To not share the same feelings or extent that trust to the man called Blackthorn. To fear he is the catalyst that will to great chaos to the World.” *** Van Ness sat back and watched the meeting unfold from behind his magical disguise. He wasn’t really surprised by the meeting, the words, or even the outrage… that was all to be expected. His purpose here was much like the Partisans, gather information and report. It would not be long before he uncovered the names and locations of all the organizations represented at the meetings. The magical protections were strong but not something he couldn’t work around given enough time. His heart jumped in anticipation of delivering his report, he had a feeling Blackthorn would find the state of affairs rather intriguing.