--Bona al la encycla lorica.
A Holder is a spellcaster under the employ of a guild. (Sects and nations certainly employ spellcasters, but the guilds have the most defined hierarchy by far, and also the vast majority of spellcasters belong to a guild.) The term is short for "holder of the wand" or "holder of the staff". These terms refer to the wands or staves they are given. As Holders work under the employ of a guild but do not know any of its secrets (none that count anyway), they can be dismissed by the guild at will, and be done so easily.
Holders are given a wand or staff by the guild, and essentially act as the grunts of the guild, with a standard arsenal of spells to use in an enforcement role, where they act as police of the magical community. In this capacity they are often given assignments to help out local nations to suppress any "problems". They work in concert with nations to ensure peace, and are often chartered to nations to buttress the nations' mundane army. In this regard, then, each Holder is much like any other Holder, even those of other guilds. Their wand's or staff's spells are not particularly versatile or powerful. They are not to be used as true military, as against the true powers of the guilds they are useless; hence in guild wars they play only a supporting role at best. A good metaphor may be as infantry supporting a tank column. However, oftentimes in wars between nations, nations have hired groups of Holders to bolster their own magical forces. Because of the obvious display of magical might that Holders wield, and the fact that Holders interact the most with the general population among the various roles and professions of the maging community, commoners generally give Holders a great deal of respect and think of them when they think of spellcasters.
Holders are the most common members of any guild, usually outnumbering the rest of the guild membership combined. However, they do not hold any true power in the guild hierarchy.
Generally one must be at least sixteen (ie., considered an adult in Lorica) to be admitted to be a Holder in any guild. Admission stresses the importance of having a desire to work for justice, enforce the laws, and defend the weak against criminals and rogues. Note, these qualities are not the same as those qualities desired in an aspiring spellshaper, and neither are the starting ages (one who wants to join a guild as a spellshaper usually has done so before age fourteen), so a person who declares to a guild an interest in becoming a spellcaster will not have the opportunity to apply to join as a spellshaper later.
It is said upon joining that part of a Holder's responsibility is to use their spells to protect the guild's associates, fellows and masters.
The spells at their disposal are limited in number of charges. Thus they must return to their guild's local guild hold to recharge their wand. This is a safeguard to prevent them from having too much power as to turn rogue - and to limit the damage they could deal should they in fact do so.
Holders generally seek to rise up the ranks, ostensibly so that they can serve the guild and serve justice better, but also because of course it means that they have increased power. But this power is false power; it is entirely arbitrary and can be changed by masters (spellshapers) at will, and should the masters choose to terminate the employment of the Holder, the Holder will be left with nothing.
With enough experience, and with enough credit to their name (earned from doing good work for the guild and demonstrating allegiance to said guild), a Holder may be promoted to subsequent wands. The wands tend to get larger with each successive rank, so as to be able to store the extra moieta needed to power the spell. These wands are enchanted with better spells, which will usually come with:
- Increased variety of spells, allowing them to be more flexible with spellcasting
- Increased number of charges, so they can cast spells more times before having to return to their local hall for recharging
- Increased power, magnitude or duration of each spell charge
At a certain point, the wands get large enough that they essentially become short staves, so their title changes to reflect that. (Holder of the First Staff is the next rank after Holder of the Third Wand.)
The Holder role is one of the fastest ways to gain a modicum of magical power in Lorica - much faster than with spellshapers at least - though their power levels off rather quickly and even the most powerful Holders can never come to match a Keeper or even a Wielder. It is in a sense a red herring for those who desire power and thus become a Holder - those who desire power in Lorica tend to not be the ones who get it, and they find out too late the truth of the limits of being a Holder.
Holders don't interact closely with spellshapers (even if they accompany them). Fellows, masters and above stick to doing research in their labs (whereas Holders only guard the halls or travel the countryside independently), and associates usually travel in secret, unknown even to Holders of the same guild (unless they wish to reveal themselves).
In the presence of deputies, associates rarely cast any spells, so it may seem to the novice Holder that it is the Holders who have all the power. Even when it becomes obvious that associate spellshapers and spellcrafters are the ones creating spells, deputies still hold on, believing that the associates only create spells so as to give them to deputies, or that those spells are non-combat (ie. Non-power related) spells (note that the guilds’ unique research focuses aren’t military. But the guilds all have military research focuses limited to particular societies/fellowships within their mage ranks, which are kept secret from other guilds as well). Only senior Holders know the truth, which is that deputies' magic matters rather little in inter-guild wars and can’t hold a candle to the might and versatility of spellshapers' and even Wielders' magic.
The below are in order of increasing seniority, experience and authority.
Ranks of the Wand
- Holder of the First Wand
- Holder of the Second Wand
- Holder of the Third Wand
Ranks of the Staff
- Holder of the First Staff
- Holder of the Second Staff
- Holder of the Third Staff
Holders are given (somewhat coarse) guild-color-themed clothing - color-coded-for-your-convenience - as a way of distinguishing them apart from one another in their interactions with other guilds. Holders are usually required to wear their uniform in public as a way of maintaining the guild's prestige to outsiders. The set usually includes:
- Blouse (for both men and women); trimmed brightly with their guild's colors and otherwise slightly dyed with their guild's colors;
- Shorts (for men) or parted skirt (for women); flared brightly with their guild's colors and otherwise slightly dyed with their guild's colors;
- Sash (always worn top-left to bottom-right, indicating their position in the guild's military arm; this is usually thinner than that of a Keeper's sash); trimmed in their guild's colors.