Before Dante, Master Porthos Fitz-Empress bani Flambeau was considered the most powerful mage in the Traditions. Born in 1403 in Breslau, Germany, Fitz-Empress was a member of the Order of Hermes when the Council of Nine Traditions formed in 1466. In his centuries of life, Porthos struggled against dire evils, fought against the Order of Reason and later the Technocratic Union, dealt with infighting between the Traditions and in the Order of Hermes, and survived dozens of betrayals and fearsome trials. By the 20th century, Master Porthos was respected for his power and wisdom even as he was feared for his dark moods and occasional forays into Quiet. Despite concerns for Porthos' sanity, everyone acknowledged the man's great deeds. During World War II, it was Master Porthos who defeated two of the most dreaded Nephandi supporting the Axis powers. Porthos negotiated a truce with the Technocracy long enough to deal with the Nephandi threat. It was the old master who directed the ritual which locked the leaders of the dark mages away from Earth.
Porthos retreated into the Deep Umbra after the war, his delicate grasp on sanity shattered by what he had seen and experienced. When he returned in the late 1960s, he seemed fired by a new purpose. He worked to encourage younger generations of mages to look to others besides their masters for ways to help the world. He allowed outsiders to see more of the Order of Hermes' political conflicts to reduce the Hermetic influence over the Council of Nine, and he often started many debates in the Council that showed the cracks between the Traditions. Porthos encouraged such iconoclasts as James Kellian and Dante to challenge the old ways. By the 1990s, Porthos set into motion plans to make the old Council of Nine step down and be replaced by a new generation of young adepts and masters, who would lead the Traditions into a new millennium.