The Secret Masters
I had finally made it. Four heart attacks, two wives, and one nearly career-ending scandal and I had finally passed all of their trials. No more looking over my shoulder or wondering if an innocent conversation was actually a devious test in disguise. No more late night meetings with raspy-voiced men in black in abandoned warehouses or opening an umbrella only to be gassed into unconsciousness. I was one of Them now. A Secret Master. I had climbed the thirteen steps of the proverbial pyramid, stared into the Great Eye, and was found worthy. I was now Illuminati!
“See anyone you recognize?” Fitzgerald asked after I had taken a few moments to let the magnitude of the situation sink in.
“Is that Senator Wilkins?” I asked, pointing to the weasel-faced man who was filling a glass of scotch from a decanter in the corner. He had opposed me on nearly every referendum I put up on the floor for my entire career. It was distasteful to think that I may have to work with him from now on.
“It certainly is. He's been with us for a while now. He's the one who recommended we recruit you.”
The shock I felt actually made me feel a little light headed and I almost missed the other people Fitzgerald was pointing out. There were some faces I wasn't surprised to see. Politicians, CEO's, and a few military generals. There were also a surprising number of movie stars, including that one who made all those awful movies where he turned into different animals or became a gigolo. I now knew how he kept getting employed.
“And that man over there is my mentor, Enrique,” Fitzgerald finished. “I don't suppose I need to introduce him to you.”
“He's my groundskeeper. He's been with me for years. How long...”
“That man is more ancient than you can imagine,” Fitzgerald looked at me with eyes filled with terror. I felt my blood run cold. Then he broke into a broad grin. “I'm just fucking with you. Still, don't mess with him he's pretty badass.”
“So I heard you have been invited to the Bilderburg Meeting this year, Ford?” I heard a familiar voice ask. Wilkins had seen me point at him and had made his way over, wheezing the whole way. It was hard to hide my contempt.
“He isn't aware of that yet, Wilkins,” Fitzgerald said with a tone of admonishment. “Enrique just informed me. You've quite spoiled the surprise.”
“No matter,” Wilkins replied, waving his hand as if the ward away Schneider's glare. “So tell me, Ford, what will you be running?”
“I've decided this year I will run a High Elf Druid. At fourth level you get the Wild Shape ability and then BAM! Grizzly bear on your ass.”
“Please,” Fitzgerald rolled his eyes. “Every year you say you'll run a Druid but when we sit down, lo and behold, the Senator from Mississippi is playing a Sorcerer/Rogue/Fighter again. You multi-classing bastard.”
“Oh, and I don't suppose you will break from the tradition of always running a Paladin?” Wilkins spat back. “Maybe this year you'll remember your alignment restrictions, eh?”
Fitzgerald gave the hunched man a withering look before turning and stalking away. I was about to ask what the hell everyone was talking about when Wilkins grabbed my arm and exhaled scotch breath all over my face.
“It will be grand, Ford. Enrique says that, come hell or high water, we will reach the bottom level of Castle Greyhawk and raid the actual tomb of Zagyg. A feat almost undreamed of! We will dine on Doritos deemed too X-Treme for the masses and drink deep from The Fountain Of Crystal Pepsi. It will be epic!”
A small bell began to chime and Wilkins led me over to the large circular table that dominated the room. My questions would wait. The meeting had begun.