The Council of the Aether was founded at some point during the Post Creation period, although at the time it was known as The Circle. Created, initially, as a school for Aether users, The Circle very quickly became one of the most notable groups in PC Amaranthine. Indeed, literature on The Circle is second only to that concerning the Armies of the Light.
The Circle was founded somewhere on the continent of Marast at some point during Post Creation period. It is estimated to have been around 2000PC. Although the creator of the initial idea is unknown, what is recorded is that in it's first form it was led by seven individuals, collectively known as The Inquisition. It is assumed that the name was take for similar purposes as it is used today; as well as being a school they also policed Amaranthine in an attempt to prevent dangerous use of Aether. This assumption is backed up somewhat by various records from the time, although given the relatively small size of The Circle, every investigation either ended with "released" or "dematerialisation".
During the rule of King Fruven of the Everburning, The Circle was officially adapted into the Kingdom. Being renamed as The Council of the Aether, and recieving a rather large restructuring, 271KL marks the beginnings of the modern-day Council of the Aether. However, at this time the King was automatically granted the position of Council Master, and it was not until 972KL, after the War of the Aether, that the position of Grand Inquisitor was created. Given that the Council was never truly accepted as a governing body, but rather existed as both an advisory force and public defense, the establishing of the position of Grand Inquisitor took the Council one more step away from direct control of the Kingdom. That is not to say that the Council and the Kingdom were incompatible; it was a relationship both sides were comfortable with. The Kingdom recieved a police force that could both be brutal yet orthodox, and the Council was able to maintain a steady population of Aether users thanks to being centered within the Kingdom. However, this Seperation of Council and State did not last long. Sixty years after the Grand Inquisitor position was created, Vincent von Boon inherited the position from his father, Alexander von Boon, who was forced to retire. Vincent von Boon, being Gifted in all senses of the word, began many regimes that would continue to this day. It was Vincent von Boon who first acknowleged that there would be some rating above Higher Magician, as until this time it was simply presumed that Higher Magician's fluctuated. Thus, the term "Beyond Rating" was created, though remains to be officially applied to anybody.
At the beginning of the Empire, Vincent von Boon granted the position of Grand Inquisitor to Joseph Fawkes, who would thusly become the fourth Grand Inquisitor. In addition to this, the title of Council Master was re-instated, with Emperor von Boon claiming the position for himself. Whilst not retaining the powers of the past, and acting primarily as a formality, it serves as a reminder of the direct bond between the Council and the Empire.
After the restructuring in 271KL, and the introduction of the role of the Grand Inquisitor in 972KL, the shape of the Council was all but finalised. Very little changed between then, beyond perhaps the deanarachanism of a few terms. As a result, the chain of command resembles this, as it has done for many years.
The Grand Inquisitor is the unquestioned leader of the Council of the Aether. Acting as both the head of the Inquisition, but also as the Master of all Council-Related Schools and Academies, the word of the Grand Inquisitor is law within the Council.
Since it's introduction in 972KL, there have been only four Grand Inquisitors; William Javert, Alexander von Boon, Vincent von Boon and Joseph Fawkes.
The Inquisition is the elite force of the Council. Made up primarily of long-serving Higher Magicians, the Inquisitors have two primary purposes; to act as the driving force behind the Council, responsible for both gathering new students and keeping peace throughout the Aetheric Community, and also to act as a bridge between the academia-based Council and the armies of their allies, be they the Royal Armies of the past, or the Imperial Armed Forces of today, responsible for the defence of both The Council itself and all the good people of Amaranthine. As such, they are by far the most important non-academic section of the Council.
When an individual ascends to the rank of Inquisitor, they are asked a simple question during their final trials; they are asked their preferrered school out of Elementalism, Manipulatory, Necology and Aethericine. Many enemies of the Council have mistaken this for enforced specialisation, and many have died as a result of that mistake. The chosen "school" merely represents their role on the field of battle as a whole, not as an individual. For example, an Aethericine-based Inquisitor would most likely be found behind the front-lines, providing aid, but is still as capable of hurling a fireball as any other. However, some Inquisitors may forgo this choice, and instead be granted a position within the Imperial Armed Forces acting with equal rank to a Lt. General. Such candidates must show great signs of both melee combat - even moreso than traditional Inquisition candidates - and also leadership qualities.
This category simply refers to those Rated individuals who are the highest most mortals can reach, but have either chosen not to, or simply not been invited to join the Inquisition. Most commonly, individuals who reach this level will become either a teacher or an instructor; leading either a full class or a select group of individuals. However, that said, they are still often called upon during battle situations, led by the Inquisitors, and should not be underestimated. They are still the most powerful Magicians seen on Amaranthine.
This refers to a Rated individual who is either still training in the Academy, or has graduated but lacks the ability to progress to become a Higher Magician. More often than not, a Firas or Volka Magician will never be able to ascend Higher, though there have been reported cases of even Magi who could not reach beyond this point.
During a battle situation, they are generally assigned under the command of a Higher Magician.
The initiates of the Council, Mages are individuals who have either only just been Rated, or are still training in the school at Locke. Very rarely will an individual remain at this level for their lifespan, as if no progress is seen within a certain span, they will be exiled from the Council.
They are very rarely called upon in battle due to their low skill level, however should the need arise, they are assigned to wherever they are needed most; there is no strict regiment for Mages.