What you see before you is my attempt to get back on a regular schedule, now that I have my semi-predictable life back on track. I therefore plan to put up a blog post every Friday afternoon, at least until my schedule shifts again.
So, for now, let me explain what I'll be doing.
A handful of you have asked for a summary of my new series (coming later this year!), Of Sea and Shadow. I'm not quite ready to divulge that yet, as an accurate summary of the book contains a sort of twist that I don't think you're prepared to handle.
I won't be giving you a summary, exactly, but I'm giving you more information. That's half of what we're doing here.
Here's the other half: if a handful of you asked for a summary of OSAS, hundreds of you asked for a definitive guide to the Territories. I never wrote one. I have a Territory glossary for myself, of course, but it's in such a personalized, messy format that getting it organized to the point that you'd be able to recognize it as human speech would be harder than writing it from scratch. So, for this next series, I'm writing a guide from scratch.
I call it the Guild Guide, because alliteration amuses me.
The world of Of Sea and Shadow takes place in the lands of the Aurelian Empire, a kingdom that ruled the entire world for the thousand-year lifetime of its Emperor. Five years ago, the Emperor mysteriously died, and now the Empire itself is falling apart.
How did the Empire rule for a thousand years, you ask? On the backs of ten magical orders, known (very accurately) as the Ten Imperial Guilds.
So each week, I'll be providing an in-universe summary of one of the Ten Guilds. It's arranged alphabetically, so the first Guild is The Am'haranai: the Guild of Consultants.
I hope you enjoy the free information, and remember that the picture isn't yet complete. If there's a name you don't recognize or something you don't understand, be patient! Each entry in the Guild Guide is a piece in a puzzle that won't be complete until this winter, with the release of Of Sea and Shadow.
Hit the jump to read more!
A brief guide to the Ten Imperial Guilds of the Aurelian Empire, written by a licensed Witness for your edification and betterment!
The Am’haranai: Also known as Consultants, the members of this mysterious brotherhood work behind the scenes for the good of the Empire…or for anyone with enough gold to pay them. Consultants are more than willing to provide strategic advice, tactical support, and information to the Empire’s rich and elite, so long as it doesn't destabilize the government they've worked so hard to build. Believe it or not, the Am'haranai were the first Imperial Guild, having existed in one form or another since long before the birth of the Empire. The next time you walk by the local chapter house of the Consultants, know that you're in the presence of true Imperial History.
The Consultants' local Guild Representative would not give us a definitive response to the less savory rumors surrounding this particular Guild. Juicy speculation suggests that—for the right price—the Consultants will provide a number of darker services, including espionage, sabotage, and even assassination. We can neither confirm nor refute such rumors at this time.
Consultants in the field are known to refer to each other by code names, to conceal their true identities.
Shepherds are their expert scouts, trained to watch, remember, and report.
Architects are the leaders of the Am’haranai, and typically do not leave their island fortress. They’re the strategists, alchemists, tacticians, and Readers that make the work of the Consultants possible.
Masons are a truly terrifying order, though once again the Guild Representative put off most of my questions. They go undercover as everyday folk like you or me, living ordinary lives for months or years, and then providing information to their Architect leaders. Your best friend, your neighbor, that street alchemist across from your house…any of them could be a Mason secretly watching you!
Other, less credible reports suggest the existence of a fourth brand of Consultant: the Gardeners. The job of a Gardener is to “remove weeds.” They are the black operatives, the pure assassins, the knives in the dark.
The Guild Representative had this to say on the matter: “There is not now, and never has been, an order of the Am’haranai known as the Gardeners. That’s simple speculation based on our Guild symbol, which is actually derived from our origin as humble farmers. Having said that, if you do have someone interfering with your business, it is possible that we could help you bring the situation to a satisfactory conclusion…for an appropriate level of compensation, of course.”
Since the Emperor’s death (may his soul fly free), I have no doubt that business has been very good indeed for this particular Guild.
Guild Head: The Council of Architects. No one knows much about the leadership of the Consultants, but it seems that the Architects collectively vote on Guild policy, coming to decisions through careful deliberation and long experience.
Symbol: Gardening Shears
All of it.
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