The League of Adventurers: (1822 – 1937) Founded as a gentleman's club for the greatest gentlemen adventurers of 1800s Europe, the League of Adventurers grew to prominance during the war against Rex Mundi, then faded away to nothing in the early 20th Century. Most references to the League refer to the group's core membership from 1865 to 1900.
The League of Adventurers was formed by the rich explored Charles Von Richler in 1823. Von Richler, an avid explorer and studier of ancient ruins, wished to create an environment that would encourage a new generation to explore to the ends of the Earth. To that end, he required any full member to provably discover two exotic locations that no one else had found. Affiliate members were simply required to take part in at least three expeditions with proven members, and then be sponsored. Of course, full membership was restricted to the male aristocracy, but unusually for the time, Von Richler did not extend the restriction to only cover the aristocracy of Europe – in fact, one of the club's founding members was the Ethiopian prince Wolde Mikael, whose accomplishments included scaling Mount Kilmanjero single-handedly, and uncovering the resting place of the lost Templar Order's treasures on a small island off the Spanish coast. Affiliates were required to be able to behave themselves in polite society, but did not have to be aristocracy themselves.
In its early years, the League grew quickly, as members flocked to hear the exploits of its more famous members. Although many of them were away on expeditions at any given time, by 1855 the League comprised forty-three full members, along with over two hundred affiliates, and admitting that you had membership was enough to ensure that you would never have to buy your own meals again.
The Race For Atlantis
By the end of the decade, however, the League was beginning to decline. New organizations were springing up, and some within the League began to notice that its members were growing older, and their replacements fewer. In 1860 Von Richler, now over eighty years old, met with the current leaders of his club, and they put together a plan that would restore interest in their organization, and impress the world for centuries to come. Pooling all the knowledge and skill of the League, they proposed to uncover the rarest of lost ruins – the fabled location of Atlantis itself. Perhaps rashly, Von Richler swore to the press that within two years, on the eve of the League's fortieth anniversary, Atlantis would be found.
The public reaction to the League's declaration was bemusement, but as dozens of expeditions launched to every location suspected to have ties to Atlantis, interest grew. Events grew even more pressing when several of these expeditions returned battered and bloodied, with tales of a mysterious organization fighting them for the scraps of Atlantis's remains – sometimes successfully, more often not, but always with resources and power at their disposal. Several members of the League vanished entirely, either slain or converted to this new army. Whispers began to ripple through the world, that not everyone was taking Von Richler's announcement as a joke. Someone was spending considerable resources to try and beat him to his discovery.
In 1862, the League's finest adventurers gathered, believing that they had the last of the pieces that they needed. Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent that their enemy had found the same thing, and the race to Atlantis became a literal race to the middle of the Atlantic. Six full members and eight associates, the best and brightest of Von Richler's league, rushed to claim Atlantis before their enemy could. They were not successful.
The exact details of what occurred in Atlantis remained unknown to this day. What is know is that most of the League's heroes did not survive the journey – only three managed to escape, and all were uncharacteristically silent about what they uncovered. Atlantis itself was transformed into the underwater kingdom of Rex Mundi, who used its teleport gates to deliver ultimatums to the nations of the world, and began a campaign of terror and conquest that saw his fortunes rise. Von Richler did not survive the discovery – he took a turn for the worse upon learning what had happened, and died a few weeks later.
With their founder and greatest heroes dead, and with considerable public opinion against them, the League fragmented. Most of their affiliates quietly detached themselves from the organization, and by 1866, the League was essentially dissolved. A dozen or so people still retained their official membership, many of them carrying on missions to protect other relics from the ever-growing desire of Rex Mundi, but the League's back was broken, and most believed that it would not recover.
This might have been the final state of affairs, if not for Ulrich Flemenschtein. Among the youngest of the League's full members, he was one of the only survivors of Atlantis, and for several years after the incident he faded from the scene, retreating into his studies and denying inteviews. It was with some surprise, therefore, that the world met his announcement in 1866 that he was resurrecting the League of Adventurers – not as an idle club, this time, but as an active force for justice. Flemenschtein had not been idle for the previous four years – he had gathered resources, allies, and made plans, and now he was ready to fight back. His core League departed from the original in more ways than its motives – its members were a small group of highly skilled human and superhuman agents, from all nations, races, genders, and walks of life. Flemenschtein recruited Jack Torrence, an American professional fighter, impossibly resilient and lucky, who had tangled with Rex Mundi in the past, Annabelle Wescott, a superhuman mind reader and confidence woman from England, Antoni Carazza, a man who had defected from the Sicilian Mafia and survived, Avery Midnight, an Egyptian professor with magical skills that few in his time believed existed, Nobukaze Hideki, leader of the Nobukaze ninja clan of Japan, and Qamar Adrika, an Indian super-scientist who had worked with Flemenschtein in the past. Together, these seven individuals became the League of Adventurers once again, and took their war against Rex Mundi everywhere that he surfaced. In 1871, having shattered his plans on dozens of occasions, they managed to gain access to Atlantis itself, forcing Mundi to flee with much of his technologies.
After 1871, the League's mission became twofold – to prevent Mundi from doing any more damage, and to explore the Atlantean psigates that had been left behind. These expeditions led to several alien encounters, the most notable being the League's involvement in the war against the Chitrani in 1872. Largely credited with turning the tide of the war, both individually and with the many allies they rallied to the defense of the wearied Sayleen, the League's fame only continued to grow.
The League Fragments
The League recruited new members over the next twenty years, opening chapterhouses in New York, Tokyo, and Cairo, but Flemenschtein was careful to keep their numbers small, and the seven founding members remained its core group (and the most famous). However, they were not immortal, and as they grew older and began to retire, new members joined to replace those who were leaving. The last member to leave was Jack Torrence, in 1907 – his enhanced constitution had slowed his aging, but even he was starting to feel old. Multicultural and multinational, the League continued their battle against evil, uncovering ancient ruins and helping old gods integrate into the world.
And then the Great War came. During World War I, superhumans from every nation were drafted into conflict, and the League was forced to take a stand. With members from every participating nation, the League found members drawn into conflict with each other – overall, they sided with the Triple Entente of England, Russia, and France, but many members left in disgust, turning against their former friends and allies. The flagship team itself cracked – two of its seven members sided with the German forces against the others, and one of them died in the battle. When the war ended, a battered League declared that it could not become part of such conflicts again. From that day forward, they would be completely neutral.
The End of the League
Despite their best efforts, the League never truly recovered from the damage done in the Great War. German and Austrian heroes and champions refused to join them, as did many others who did not want to become politically associated. Increasing pressure from nations in the process of attempting to codify superhumanism to create soldiers instead of heroes reduced recruitment. In large part, new heroes did not see the League as viable any longer, and recruitment began to drop in the European chapterhouse, as the American and Asian houses began to be co-opted by their respective governments – governments that were increasingly hostile to one another. The Cairo chapterhouse closed in 1932, and the Tokyo chapterhouse severed ties with the rest of the organization in 1934.
In 1937, with membership collapsing and tension increasing worldwide, Arthur MacIvey, chairman of the League, declared that its purpose was done. Rex Mundi had been reduced to almost no threat, Atlantis was secure, and the League had no further purpose. MacIvey officially closed the London chapterhouse in April, and the Americans disbanded soon afterwards. Many of the League's remnant members went on to fight in World War II, but for all practical purposes, the League was dead.