|“||Vitality is siphoned from us with age. Even if we slow the advance within our bodies, we cannot keep the weight from our enlightened minds. The more we see, the more we think we know. The more we believe we understand, the more set in our ways we become, and the more we limit our potential. Thus, youth is the flame that ignites the future. Power is merely polish on blunted blades.||”|
|— Master Porthos Fitz-Empress, The Fragile Path: Testaments of the First Cabal|
Before Dante, Master Porthos was considered the most powerful mage in the Traditions. Born in 1403 CE in Breslau, Germany, in a craft family, Porthos was a famous alchemist and Orphan with an expertise in magical concoctions that were able to cure everything from common ailments to the Black Death. That was when one of the Masters of Doissetep took him in as an apprentice and he joined the Order of Hermes. It was at this time when Porthos lost his wife and children at the hands of a rival hermetic chantry, but when he bested them he was not able to bring himself to take their lives. His soul was haunted from the moment, as he considered it a betrayal to his family.
The Council of Nine and the First CabalEdit
Fitz-Empress was a member of the Order of Hermes when the Council of Nine Traditions formed in 1466 in the Grand Convocation. There, he was a contemporary to the famous First Cabal and was present during the dire times of their fall, events that he would compile centuries later in the book The Fragile Path: Testaments of the First Cabal.
Porthos Fitz-Empress knew the truth about Heylel Teomim, the Alchemy of Unity, and the Holy Union, but never revealed it due to his own jealousy over Eloine's affections. He betrayed the Solificati and said nothing, so Heylel was condemned as a infernalist and sentenced to execution by Gilgul, a sentence that was carried in November 1470.
Archmaster and Deacon Primus of DoissetepEdit
In his centuries of life, Porthos struggled against dire evils, fought against the Order of Reason and later the Technocratic Union, dealt with infighting between the Traditions and in the Order of Hermes, and survived dozens of betrayals and fearsome trials. At one point, his mastery of the Art evolved to the point he was named Deacon Primus of Doissetep, the greatest of the Traditions' chantries.
By the 20th century, Master Porthos was respected for his power and wisdom even as he was feared for his dark moods and occasional forays into Quiet. Despite concerns for Porthos' sanity, everyone acknowledged the man's great deeds. During World War II, it was Master Porthos himself who defeated two of the most dreaded Nephandi supporting the Axis powers. Porthos negotiated a truce with the Technocracy long enough to deal with the Nephandi threat. It was the old master who directed the ritual which locked the leaders of the dark mages away from Earth.
Porthos retreated into the Deep Umbra after the war, his delicate grasp on sanity shattered by what he had seen and experienced. When he returned in the late 1960s, he seemed fired by a new purpose. He worked to encourage younger generations of mages to look to others besides their masters for ways to help the world. He allowed outsiders to see more of the Order of Hermes' political conflicts to reduce the Hermetic influence over the Council of Nine, and he often started many debates in the Council that showed the cracks between the Traditions.
By the 1990s, Archmaster Porthos Fitz-Empress spent more and more time in Quiet, while the politics in Doissetep started to get more dangerous. When he emerged from one of those, having apparently realised something very important, Porthos wrote a book about the First Cabal, naming it The Fragile Path: Testaments of the First Cabal. Fearing that the Traditions were becoming too complacent and even if they were winning the Ascension War they were losing the world instead, he hoped the story of the ones who started everything and their sacrifice could serve as an inspiration for the new generations to come.
Porthos encouraged such iconoclasts as Mark Hallward Gillan and Dante to challenge the old ways. He set into motion plans to make the old Council of Nine in Horizon step down and be replaced by a new generation of young adepts and masters, who would lead the Traditions into a new millennium. He openly challenging Master Getulio Vargas São Cristóvão, at one point even teleporting him from his Council Seat to São Cristóvão's own chantry in Brazil. The Deacon of Doissetep attempted alongside other Masters (like Marianna of Balador and Najjda Bantu) to start a reformation inside the Traditions, putting a motion before the Council of Nine to officially sanction multi-Tradition approaches like the First Cabal, calling it the Ambassador Program. The objective of this was for mages to be apprenticed under multiple Traditions to gain a wider perspective and support multi-Tradition cabals with representatives of all the Nine. Even so, the formal petition was overturned by the Council and made void due to prejudices against other types of Magik, distrust and fear of divulging their own Tradition secrets. During these years, Porthos also supported Mark Gillan when he exposed the truth of the Consanguinity of Eternal Joy atrocities and São Cristóvão tried to defame and silence him.
The War in Heaven and the ConflagrationEdit
In 1998, Horizon was invaded by a rebellion of young mages and Orphans lead by the Ascension Warrior who claimed to be Heylel Teomim Thoabath reborn, and Getulio Vargas São Cristóvão was turned forever into a statue of gold. The Conflagration that brought Doissetep down followed shortly after. Caeron Mustai, who was revealed as a traitor who was all the time conspiring behind Porthos' back, along with his House Janissary, tried to take Doissetep and even betrayed the Council of Nine Traditions to the Technocracy. Porthos and Caeron fought and their clash ended up causing the entire realm to explode.
After defeating Caeron, Porthos sacrificed himself to contain the explosion so it could only destroy Doissetep, but the shockwave spread across the Otherworld, with a few smaller realms being completely destroyed and even the Digital Web crashing, killing hundreds of people. The disruptive energy was strong enough to temporarily disrupt all Horizon's defenses, which allowed the Technocracy to invade the very heart of the Traditions and destroy what was left, declaring their victory over the Ascension War.
The Rogue CouncilEdit
In the "Judgment" scenario of Ascension, it is revealed that the Rogue Council were the Avatars of the former old dead Masters that by imbuing nearby spirits with their essence and their hopes for Ascension, were brought back with the intention to save creation and guide humanity to Ascension. Porthos then assumed the Seat of Forces in this new Rogue Council, his figure fluctuating between images of the gods of thunder and fire, elementals and angels of wrath, lacking the gentle humor of his former self.
Porthos is a gaunt man of average height. He has greasy, straight, black hair, which he seldom combs or washes. He wears antique bifocals most of the time, and generally dresses in a gray pinstripe suit with a vest. Occasionally, he can be found dancing nude about the hallways and singing old folk songs, wandering about in a pink bathrobe, or dressed in armor and claiming he is going off to sight some sort of mythical creature in another Realm.
Porthos is friendly, fatherly, honorable, gentle, and utterly insane. Power radiates from him in a tangible aura. When he gets angry, the static electricity is so great it causes everyone's hair to stand on end. He protects and assists those who remind him of his children, and avoids those he dislikes.
During his whole life, Porthos has been dedicated to acquire magical knowledge, in a way to rekindle his own confidence and as a way to atone his sins, but in his own opinion he achieved none of it. Even being the most powerful mage in the Traditions, and for the most part a loving, fatherly figure, he considers himself weak and unworthy. Porthos shows particular interest in those who remind him of his children and he even occasionally suffers from the delusion that certain individuals are actually them. He cares for them, watches over them, and scolds them as any near-Oracle father figure would. In many cases, this lead to the deaths or insanity of his wards, only reinforcing his guilt. He dislikes the idea of being the Deacon of Doissetep, surrounded by betrayal and trickery from all sides, but he keeps his own position through sheer respect and power. Everyone fears Porthos not because he is devious and evil, but because he is near-omnipotent and sometimes insane.
Compared to other Hermetic Masters like Caeron Mustai and Getulio Vargas São Cristóvão, Porthos is a diplomat, always looking at the future and helping the young generations of mages. It is said that his own madness probably came from the realization that his age and magical mastery drew him further from Ascension, becoming a hinder to the Tradition itself, but at the same time knowing that if he was gone, other Masters would take his place and probably do it even worse.