The Eastern kingdom under Regent Obadiah Stane had been at war for many years with the kingdom of Queen Melinda May to the west. Few areas along their border escaped the ravages of the pillaging armies. Famine was close to a reality as the farmers, along with the cattle and sheep herds had their crops and animals confiscated to feed the armies, and the royalty that profited from the conflict.
The First Minister of the Sorcerer’s Guild, Nicholas Fury, rested his chin on steepled fingers as he listened to the reports from the heads of his territorial Guilds. The news ranged from bad to worse, with each Territorial Guild Minister demanding to know how their ruling council was going to stop the atrocities of this war. After the final report was given, he looked around the chamber at his ruling council.
“I think it’s time to once again entertain the Madraí Cogaidh (Dogs of War) initiative.” Fury stated.
His announcement was met with frowns from around the table.
“I was under the impression that plan was laid aside as having a low probability of succeeding.” Doctor Strange spoke their thoughts.
“It did until at the turn of the new year when my second was approached by Virginia Potts, Seer to the Stark Kingdom.”
“No one has seen her since young Anthony exiled himself to the Isle of Malibu to escape Obadiah Stane’s attempts on his life after his parent’s death.” The Ancient One was thoughtful as she looked around the table.
The members turned to look at Phil Coulson, Fury’s second on the Council.
“Seer Potts told me of events she had foreseen as she divined on the coming year for Prince Anthony. She saw Obadiah sending his agents to kill the Prince until he either succeeds, or is stopped. While Stane commands the Stark Kingdom armies, he does not command the people while Prince Anthony lives. She described what she called Madraí Cogaidh, as the agents of change in the tide of the war. Also, the Prince sent with her a Memory Stone”
Coulson paused to trade a look with Fury.
“Those loyal to the Stark family have been collecting proof of Stane’s nefarious dealings. We sent Journeyman Maria Hill to escort Seer Potts safely back to the Isle of Malibu. We sent Master Steven Rogers to the Western kingdom of Queen May to apprise her of the situation with Stane. Queen May has spent the war in defense of her borders without going on the offense against her eastern neighbors.”
Growing impatient, Strange cut off Coulson’s recitation.
“This is all well and good. Could we get on to the part about Madraí Cogaidh.”
At his tone, Fury stood allowing his second to escape the Sorcerer Supreme’s attention.
“I tasked Maria to inform me should Seer Potts visions change from what she reported. I approached the Spies and Assassins Guild to find the individuals we would need to complete the Madraí Cogaidh ritual. They provided us three fringe members that apparently are too independent in their thinking to work within the Guild system. With the help of Wanda and Phil, we have been working the preliminary spells.”
“Now you need Steven, The Ancient, and myself to join you for the Grande Finale.” Clea stated.
“That is correct.”
“We should not help on the principle of you engaging in these rituals without our knowledge or approval, but it would be cruel to your three ‘volunteers’ to leave them in the limbo of an incomplete ritual.” The Ancient One scolded.
“Better to ask forgiveness than permission.” Wanda shrugged.
“You are very cavalier with the lives of others.” Clea frowned.
Wanda started to raise to the bait until Phil laid a calming hand on her shoulder.
“We can finish the ritual without you, but it will much more effective with your help.” Nick shrugged.
It was Strange’s turn to show a bit of temper until The Ancient came between the Sorcerers.
“For the sake of the mundanes you have employed in your scheme we will help you, but be forewarned we will not be so forgiving in the future.”
Nick bowed his head in acknowledgement.
“We are prepared to commence tomorrow at the peak of the full moon.”
The next day there occurred a rare astrological alignment in which the sun was at its noon day peak in conjunction with the time the moon peaked full.
As the elder of the Council, The Ancient One stood in the center with their three recipients of the ancient ritual. The three spies/assassins, no one asked who was what … A beautiful flame haired woman stood between a dark haired man with a metal arm, courtesy of prior magics, and a sandy haired man with eyes that changed like a prism in the sun. Fury moved north, Clea east, Wanda south, and Strange in the west while Coulson set to deliver tools and materials as needed. A brazier of mystical flame stood behind the three.
At the end of the ritual the three lay unconscious after they persevered through changes the ritual had wrought on body and mind. Accelerated healing, superior strength, reflexes, and senses enhanced above those of a mundane.
Clint Barton with his hawk’s eyes and deadly aim. Natasha Romanoff deadly as the black widow spider, and James Barnes of stalwart heart and warrior mind. These three were now and until the end of their extended lives, The Madraí Cogaidh of the Sorcerer’s Council.
When the Sorcerer’s Council let slip their Dogs of War, it was a mere month until Stane was dead, King Anthony Stark restored to his throne, and he negotiated a treaty of peace and trade with Queen Melinda May.
The Madraí Cogaidh stood before the Council to make their report. Exchanging glances between them, Natasha stepped forward and told the tale of their orchestrating the downfall of Obadiah Stane. Clint had eliminated the commanders in the field loyal to Stane while Natasha and James handled those in the capital, including Stane, who never met a beautiful woman he didn’t try to coerce into his bed. That the man died of heart attack after succumbing to lure of the beautiful Black Widow was no surprise.
Even at the end of the tale, the men remained silent. The Council congratulated them on a job well done, and had Coulson direct them to their quarters ... Now part of the Council’s arsenal. Never trusting, Fury conjured small air elementals to watch the trio. They seemed to settle into their new lives. They seldom spoke, but were rarely separate of each other.
To celebrate the peace, and his official coronation, King Anthony held a grand ball inviting those of importance from the all kingdoms and the Sorcerers’ Council, but sadly there was no invitation for those who truly won the day. No word of complaint came from the trio … They knew their place for they had always lived in the shadows.
The day after the ball as the Sorcerers sat in conference with the new King and his Seer, a messenger was brought before Fury.
“They are gone.” The messenger practically hissed at the First Minister of the Council.
“Who is gone?” Fury demanded.
“The Madraí Cogaidh.”
Before he could question his messenger, King Stark interrupted.
What is this Madraí Cogaidh? Is there danger to my people?”
“There is no danger to your people.” Doctor Strange didn’t allow Fury to answer. “You would have no kingdom if not for our Dogs of War.”
“I see. Why were they not in attendance so that We could give them our thanks?”
“What good is a weapon if everyone knows you have it?” Fury asked.
“Are we speaking of people or weapons?” The King was confused.
“Both.” Wanda answered in a swirl of scarlet robes. She turned to the messenger. “Did no one take notice of three people leaving the compound?”
“But they are …” He trailed off not wanting to mention spies and assassins.
“Underestimated.” Clea provided.
Clint, Natasha, and James sighed with relief as they slipped under the magical wards of their true home. When Nick Fury ‘recruited’ them from the Guild, he only received the information the Guild knew. When James lost his arm on a Guild mission, he was relegated to fringe jobs, so they decided Fury’s ritual could possibly garner James a sorcerer made arm and an increase in their natural born talents. No need to make plans aloud when you could speak mind to mind.
Steven Strange smirked at Nick Fury as he handed him a report from the Northern Kingdom. Their border with Stark’s kingdom was being overrun with bandits who always escaped into the mountains. Rumors of a flamed haired woman accompanied by two handsome men were followed by whispers of Madraí Cogaidh.
“I should have woven a stronger leash.” Fury muttered as he read.
“I am not sure there ever was a leash for your Dogs of War to slip.” Strange snickered as he left the room in a swirl of his red cloak.
~ Fini ~