In the Vrynenwood, the leaves are not what they seem.
When an opposing army brings in the big weapons, your kingdom has no choice but to ante up or fold - and a trained Battle Mage from the Guild of Arcane Combatants if nothing if not a big weapon. But what happens your generals and their generals have a common goal?
Temple of some malign being invites you warmly and offers help (curing,needed spell etc) for some minor sacrifice . Sacrifices must be everytime bigger to work - up to living inteligent creatures. Maybe you pay some other price,too...