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History of the Guilds

Formation of the Sects

What would eventually form the guilds were founded roughly a thousand years ago. As a result of the discovery that mana and moieta collected from faera could be used to create magic, and that this magic could be used to do much good, a wave of anti-extremist thinking rippled through the continent of Ethaya, resulting in the spontaneous formation of dozens of rival sects, each rediscovering magic on its own. In the process they tossed off the mantle of Luminarism, a strongly anti-magic religion. Each of the larger sects had their own militarily-oriented orders, none of which were particularly powerful, to stand against the overwhelming might of the priests of Luminarism, a religion dominating the globe.

Establishment of the Concord

The leaders of seventeen sects got together and agreed to form a Concord, where these seventeen sects would pool a fraction of the members of each of their orders to join a common cause, the Order of Concord. The Order of Concord would in turn act on behalf of the union of these sects, to ensure the mutual defense of all of their members and to ensure that the guilds do not turn upon one another, allowing them to stand resolute against the priests of Luminarism. The spirit of the Order of Concord would remain to the current day, even as the organization itself underwent drastic changes, becoming the United Guilds.

The War of the Seventeen

The sects of the Concord, standing united, waged a war against the priests of Luminarism, using their own primitive form of magic against the much more advanced magic of the priests, who though they nominally persecuted everyone who used magic, used plenty of it themselves. This hypocrisy became ever more evident to the soldiers in the war as the Order of Concord, pooling their numbers, was able to force the mage-priests into a series of pitted battles where they were forced to use their magic where all could see them. As a result, even as the mage-priests won practically all their battles, each battle resulted in more and more people throughout Ethaya becoming disillusioned with Luminarism, soldiers telling any civilian who'd care to listen, about the magic spells unleashed by the priests of anti-magic. So so though the mage-priests won their battles, they lost the war, and religion in Ethaya became replaced with a moderate, magic-accepting denomination of Luminarism, which still exists in its weakened form in Ethaya to this day.

While this war is called the War of the Seventeen, it started with seventeen sects united in a Concord against the priests and ended with twenty-nine sects; three sects had been utterly destroyed by the mage-priests and their devout, but another fifteen had joined, having seen the usefulness of being united against a common foe.

Assimilation and Suppression

With the mage-priests driven out of Ethaya, the sects of the Concord desired to consolidate their power. At this point two out of every three spellshaper in Ethaya was a member of one of the sects of the Concord, and as the Concord had been sharing spell secrets with one another throughout the war, they had better spells than those of the sects that were not members of the Concord.

The leaders of the Concord agreed that they would track down and disassemble any sects that were not a member of the Concord as of the end of the War of the Seventeen. And thus, the Order of Concord was dispatched to each rogue sect in turn, and over the course of a few dozen years all the sects from the time of the War of the Seventeen, save those already members of the Concord, were destroyed or assimilated into the Concord-member sects.

Guildship

With the destruction of all the non-Concord sects, the lesser sects within the Concord began to fear for the survival of their own sects. To prevent the dissolution of the Concord and the destruction of each of the sects, they put forward a motion that instead of having each sect be responsible for a bit of everything, the sects should specialize, so that no sect would view another as a rival and thus no sect would want to destroy any other. With a great many of the sects sharing the same fear of destruction, a supermajority of the members of the Concord agreed, and so each of the twenty-nine sects would become a guild, specializing in their own field.

What they didn't know, was that while this pact would help preserve the sects and the Concord, it would sow the seeds of their own destruction, for with specialization came the keeping of guild-specific secrets, and the jealousy that comes with it.

The Guild Wars

The course of the past thousand years of the history of the continents of Ethaya saw the collapse and formation of innumerable sects. Some guilds collapsed, their roles taken by others; other guilds joined the Concord after proving themselves sects capable of holding their own. The overall structure of the Concord remained as the instrument binding together the vast majority of all spellshapers throughout Ethaya (and Detariya, where the guilds had expanded their influence into).

Despite the attitude of free sharing of information that characterized the sects of the War of the Seventeen, in the centuries that followed the guilds became ever more guarded with their secrets. The Order of the Concord evolved also, forming organizations to oversee justice between the sects.

This period of mostly peace among spellshapers was interrupted at numerous points by wars between the guilds, when the Order of the Concord was unable to reach a successful arbitration. These generally came about as a result of accusations of the stealing of guild secrets, and the accused guild not being eager to surrender themselves to the mercy of the other guilds. Named the guild wars, a string of dozens of wars spread over nearly a thousand years, these conflicts eventually led to the destruction of almost all the guilds, with the remaining guilds growing stronger and gaining the secrets of the destroyed guilds. By the time of the founding of Altariya University, the twenty-nine original guilds had been reduced to just six, each of which had powerful paramilitary organizations in their own right in addition to that of the Concord, which had by now become the United Guilds.

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