Magisters are the most accomplished and educated Readers in the world. You probably grew up with a local Reader, who invested your knives and cleansed your graveyard of harmful intent. Most small-town Readers are powerful and possibly even quite skilled.
But they aren’t Magisters.
A Magister is a Reader who has received an extensive education inside the Vey Illai, an extensive forest in the Aurelian heartland, inside what was once the original Imperial Academy. They can use their intent with a degree of focus, subtlety, and precision that an ordinary Reader could barely comprehend.
Magisters are in charge of regulating Readers and the use of human intent, in much the same way that a father is in charge of preventing his children from misbehaving.
It’s impossible for all Readers to study at the Vey Illai and become Magisters, because there are simply too many people with a talent for Reading. And of course everyone invests their intent into objects, to one degree or another.
But the best and most powerful are called Magisters.
Guild Head: Professor Mekendi Maxeus, one of the most distinguished researchers at the Aurelian National Academy, retired from his lecture tour to the “relaxing” position as head of one of the largest Imperial Guilds. He isn’t seen outside much these days, having received several disfiguring facial scars in the Inheritance Conflict five years ago, but he still lends his overwhelming power of intent to the construction of new public monuments in the Capital. He carries a black staff, and I have personally witnessed him use it to blast a collapsed building off a pair of trapped children’[. I have met few heroes in my career, but this man is among them.
Symbol: the Open Book
The Luminian Order:
Ah, the Luminians. A more versatile Guild you won’t find anywhere: they’re responsible for building cathedrals, policing Imperial roads, hunting down Elders, and generally acting heroic.
Luminian Knights, the martial arm of the Order, march around in their powerfully invested steel armor, fighting deadly monsters chest-to-chest. Their swords are bound with light so that they reflect the sun even in the dead of night, burning through creatures of darkness.
The trademark representatives of the Luminian Order are Pilgrims, humble wanderers in simple robes. They are each Readers—some of them Soulbound—charged to remove harmful intent and the maddening influence of the Elders.
The Luminian Order and the Blackwatch have each held a knife to the other’s back for hundreds of years, arguing over the best way to protect the populace, to prevent the rise of the Great Elders, and to keep the Empire whole. Perhaps if one of them would learn to compromise, we would all feel safer after midnight.
Guild Head: Father Jameson Allbright is an old man, but his vigilance has never dimmed in the fight against darkness. He is one of the oldest Soulbound on record, wielding his shining Vessel to bring the purifying light to Elder worshipers and malicious Readers alike.
Symbol: the White Sun (usually on a red banner)
Kanatalia, the Guild of Alchemists:
As I write this guide, I sip a glass of enhanced wine that slowly shifts flavor from cherry to apple to lemon. A cart rumbles by my house, with a hawker loudly announcing his remedies for sale. A quicklamp provides my light, glowing a steady blue, never smoking or flickering like a candle.
Truly, one cannot escape the advances of alchemy in our modern society.
Though alchemists have existed since long before the Empire, Kanatalia is one of the more recent additions to the Ten Guilds. It was the first organization to unify the previously contentious brotherhood of alchemists, allowing them to collectively achieve what they never could separately.
Matches, quicklamps, potions, invested alloys, healing salves, enhanced soldiers, vaccines…practically every scientific advance in the past century, including the advance of science itself, can be traced back to Kanatalia’s door.
Just don’t ask too many questions. A true Kanatalian alchemist can be very protective of his secrets, and you might find yourself a drooling vegetable if you get on the wrong side of an experienced potion-maker.
Guild Head: Nathanael Bareius did not become one of the richest men in the Empire by relaxing on his inheritance. After receiving a substantial fortune from his late father, Lord Bareius went on to receive a full education at the Aurelian National Academy. He graduated as a licensed Imperial alchemist and a member of Kanatalia. At that point, he wagered all of his capital on a single risky investment: alchemy. He opened his vaults, spending every bit he had to make sure that every corner and crevice of the Empire had a licensed Kanatalian alchemist there to provide illumination, potions, medical care, and Guild-approved recreational substances.
Lord Bareius has personally earned back triple his initial investment over the past ten years, and is now poised as the most prominent leader in the Capital. Even more significantly, he seems to have won the battle of public opinion—I haven’t seen a street in the Capital unlit by alchemical lanterns, and no one has died of dysentery or plague since before the Emperor’s death. No matter what you think of his politics, Nathanael Bareius has made great strides in moving our Empire forward into this new century.
Symbol: the Bottled Flame
Spoiler Alert: the Imperial Guard does exactly what you'd expect. More news at 11.
The Imperial Guard:
I trust that all of you understand the purpose of the Imperial Guard: to protect the Emperor’s person, and to shield him from attack and unwanted attention. Some suggest that they failed, that the death of the Emperor proves that the Guard were unequal to their task.
I can assure you that this is not the case.
Through a secret alchemical process known only to the Guild of Alchemists, the Imperial Guard replaces some of their original body parts with those of Kameira. Some Guardsmen have patches armored nightwyrm hide grafted onto their skin, or their eyes substituted with those of a cloud eagle. The process is said to be long and unbearably painful, and it results in guardians with the appearance of monsters.
However, in the twelve hundred years that the Emperor reigned, not a single assassination attempt reached his person. We owe that fact solely to the power and extraordinary sensitivity of the Imperial Guard.
I know that many outside the Capital are wondering what the Guard are up to, now that they have no Emperor to guard. Well, in the words of their Guild Head, “We may no longer have an Emperor, but we have an Empire. That, we will preserve until the sun rises in the west.”
The resolve of a true patriot, gentle readers.
Guild Head: Jarelys Teach, a General in the Emperor’s military and Head of his Imperial Guard, does not at first strike you as an imposing woman. I have met her on many occasions, and found her to be singularly devoted to her job. Popular legend says that she swallowed the blood of a Nightwraith, thereby absorbing its powers, but that’s little more than speculation. It’s a matter of Imperial record that she carries Tyrfang, the Awakened blade used to execute the Emperor’s rivals over a thousand years ago.
Symbol: the Aurelian Shield (a shield bearing the sun-and-moon symbol of the Aurelian Empire)
Of the Cradle series
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