The Shadowmages of the Black Sphere
The Shadowmages of Black Sphere are a secretive organization who immerse themselves in studies and practices with the aim of harnessing the powers of darkness through the arcane arts, as dictated by the true Dark Lord, Coloth . Followers take these studies very seriously and view powers achieved through other means as misguided and wasteful. Those drawn to the Dark Lord do not answer a direct calling. Often, it is nothing more than a feeling that is acted upon which sets them on the path. Some have claimed to have answered an inner voice, the call of Coloth, though this is treated with suspicion and sometimes contempt within the order.
Coloth does not demand that magnificent temples are built to glorify his status as a deity. Instead, small, innocuous dwellings are used by sects of his followers as places of worship. A crumbling residence within the slums of a city. A dank cave outside of the city limits. An underground complex such as sewers, or a natural underground structure of caves. All have served as places of worship for the Dark Lord.
Coloth as a deity is vengeful, spiteful and chaotic. He actively plots the destruction of the other deities, and drives his followers to destroy the order of the theocracy their communities are based on. His followers actively seek to undermine the order within a community through whatever means they have at their disposal.
The Shadowmages of the Black Sphere have their own vision of order spun from chaos itself. The organization's ideals are based upon a more balanced view than that of their Lord. Through manipulation of the dark arcane arts, they strive to unravel threads of order not under their control and spin new ones which they can control. They have no loyalty to any kingdom, only themselves, although they will work within a kingdom and pay lip service to rulers if it suits them to do so. Most attempt to work in complete secrecy, positioning themselves in advisory positions to government officials.
The Shadowmages recruit by seeking out children with a natural talent for arcane, often using the art of scrying to seek out those with a connection to the magical weave. They take these children by any means possible, often bribing the parents. If that fails they move to cohersion and in some cases, murder to take the children into their custody.
These children become apprentices to a master. They endure years of abuse as they are trained into the life of a Shadowmage. Any of the softer emotions are seen as weakness, the notions of mercy and love are eradicated from their psyche, the code of the Shadowmage is all that remains. The Acolytes train until they grow in power and one day challenge their Master. Should they win the exchange, they themselves are granted the title of Master and are allowed the freedom to serve Coloth in their way, taking their own apprentices in turn. Failure of this test often means death for the apprentice.
Council of the Spheres
The most powerful and the most cunning of the Shadowmages have formed into a Council. How this council is chosen is unknown, the mages keeping their position until the Dark Lord takes them. They often take on the title Archmage of the Sphere, at least among like minds. Their public life usually finds them in places of authority, scattered in various sects of the "common" life.
Once a Shadowmage, Always a Shadowmage.
Once a mage takes an oath as a Shadowmage, there is no way out save death. Leaving the order is not an option, betrayal of the oath results in a bloodhunt. The oathbreaker is hunted down by every follower of Coloth, and brought before the Council of Spheres. What happens next is not known, but the oathbreaker is never seen or heard from again.