Brief History of the Guild of Moon Magic, A
A Brief History of the Guild of Moon Magic
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: A History
- Seven-Starred Empire
- Celestial Compact
- First Magical Congress
Chapter 2: The Original Sects
- Celestial Compact
- Nomads of the Arid Steppe
- Prophets of G'nar-Peth
- Fortune's Path
- Monks of the Crystal Hand
- Progeny of Tezirah
Chapter 1: A History
Such were the words spoken as the Cult of Tezirah became the sixth and final signatory to the Lunar Accord, the historic document that served as the foundation for the Guild of Moon Magic as we know it today.
But, as our monuments (such as the recently completed Great Observatory) might suggest, our history was not always so glorious. In the early days of the Seven-Starred Empire, the College of War Magic was the sanctioned school for Imperial mages, and not without reason: in those dark days of pushing back the untamed wilderness and raw chaos outside our cities' walls, the need for strong steel and stronger magic had never been greater.
However, scholarship fell by the wayside, and the "noble" arts of prophecy and moonlight manipulation might have lapsed into faint memory were it not for the brief reign of Emperor Ponthilas IV, a man who surrounded himself with mystics and soothsayers both counterfeit and genuine. It could be justifiably said that he himself was a raving paranoid, but his overwhelming interest in the machinations of the future paved the way for skilled mystics from many far-flung provinces to meet in his court.
Thus was soon formed the Celestial Compact, a formal fraternity of astrologers who regularly gathered at the palace to share information, news affecting their craft, and to perfect the techniques of magic that, working separately, they had made relatively little progress upon.
When Ponthilas IV died in a most humiliating accident (after ignoring the advice of his counselors to stay home that day, it should be added), the members of the Compact realized they were in danger of losing their foothold in Imperial society. The new emperor, Saranell II, was a staunch skeptic and had already made it clear that astrologers and "other purveyors of fantasy" would not be welcome in his court.
The Compact's defense was to apply to the Board of Wizardry for recognized status as a formal College of Magic, just like the war-mages. While their skills were impressive, the Board ruled that their focus was too narrow, and not enough use to the government to justify spending the money it would take to institute them.
Compact Chairman Jares Braun had an idea: there were numerous cultures and peoples who had been "united" -- willingly or otherwise -- under the Empire's banner, and many of them had indigenous systems of magic that were likewise ignored by the establishment.
Perhaps by working together, their disparate paths could find strength in unity.
Braun selected a number of magical guilds and orders that seemed close to the Compact in philosophy or style. Of the twenty sects invited, five came to the capital to meet with the Compact in what became known as the First Magical Congress. After three days of sharing lore, spells and history, Braun gave his historic address to the assembly.
"You fear eclecticism, assimilation, loss of your cultural identity. I know your fears, for they are mine as well. But what will your stoicism gain you if your wisdom is lost upon your death? If there are no libraries to hold your research, no guildhalls to teach your magic? If unity is the price of survival, then I say, let us unite! For together, we will create triumphs of the magical arts undreamt of."
-- Jares Braun
With reservation, the emissaries agreed that a merger would benefit them all far more than it would cost. And if, in the long run, a sect or two happened to splinter off with their newfound prominence and wealth, so much the better.
Simply finding a name for this coalition took a week of nonstop debate; seeking a compromise, one young apprentice of the Celestial Compact observed that, despite their differences, all of the attending mages recognized the power of Elanthia's moons in one sense or another. Thus, the Guild of Moon Mages was born.
Braun was elected Guildmaster Prime for his efforts, and he quickly led a delegation back to the Board of Wizardry. Formally teaching an eclectic mixture of astronomy, astrology and magic learned from their (now six times larger) membership -- while making allowances for those who wished to focus on a specific traditional path in the manner of the Guild's founders-- the representatives managed to convince the Empire that they were, at last, worthy of formal recognition.
As such, the Guild was granted funding to construct a network of guildhalls and libraries across the land, a system that survived through the fall of the Empire and to the present day. Today, benefiting from a rich legacy of magic and lore, the still-united Guild is a political and social power in its own right. Still studying, researching and expanding as they have always done, there can be little doubt that the Moon Mages will continue to enjoy the fruits of prosperity well into the future.
Chapter 2: The Original Sects
The core membership that became the Guild of Moon Magic came from six diverse yet similarly aligned sects. They are listed here by the order in which they signed the Lunar Accord:
Under Braun, the Celestial Compact formed the idea for the Guild and led the unification process. Scholars without peer and keen students of the movement of the heavens, they employ astrology and magic to see the far future as if it were yesterday. It is this author's pride to directly descend from this near-perfect lineage, without whom all would have been lost.
Nomads of the Arid Steppe
Nomads of the Arid Steppe, the Skindancers were potent shamans who employed spirit invocation, myth and trances born of both ecstasy and pain to enter the netherworld and touch the future. They were well-known for developing the use of enchanted bones -- often stripped from the body of a fallen enemy -- to aid in divination.
Prophets of G'nar-Peth
Of the Prophets of G'nar-Peth, little can be said: the purple- robed mages came from what they called "Master G'nar-Peth's garden of paradise", the same hellish volcanic wasteland known to the rest of Elanthia as the Blasted Plains. Masters of perception and inner vision, it is said that no illusion could fool their minds -- nor their eyes, which were gouged out and the empty sockets hidden behind silken blindfolds.
While surely mad, these walking contradictions were also adepts of fierce power, and "saw" the future in the reflections of their strangely engraved sandstone bowls. While the original Prophets vanished long ago, back into the wastes, some of the bowls remain as their legacy: but, it is written, spending too much time in contemplation of their serpentine hieroglyphs can be dangerous to the mind and soul.
The followers of Fortune's Path came from all across Elanthia and seemed as surprised to meet each other as they were to meet other sects. They were the soothsayers, the fortunetellers and sometimes the tricksters of roving gypsy tribes, as comfortable with a high-stakes dice game as with a cantrip or wand. Even their preferred form of divination, Tokka cards, originated as a gambling game.
Not surprisingly, the arrival of these mages coincided with a number of extremely strange events; one happened right after their temporary spokeswoman stepped outside for some air, and was suddenly besieged by literally hundreds of freelance messengers, all of whom insisted that they had been looking for her for decades.
Monks of the Crystal Hand
The Monks of the Crystal Hand said little, letting their deeds carry the message. A band of ascetic warriors from the far west, these meditative souls had honed their mysticism to a razor's edge, able to conceal their movements in cloaks of shadows at will and disarm a foe with a single thought. They pledged themselves to build the Guild as they did all things: with purity, honor, and deadly efficiency, all attuned with the orbits of the moons.
Progeny of Tezirah
In the old days before the Empire condemned the practice of sorcery (and that foul art, thankfully, passed into legend), a dark magus named Tezirah combined her spells with the skills of a mystic. She nurtured a cult of personality, which endured after her execution (under the reign of Empress Demin I) and became the Progeny of Tezirah.
Though stripped of the foul magics their mistress taught, the Progeny turned mysticism to their own ends, specializing in dark prophesies and illusion. Their favored tool was the crystal Tezirah's Mirror, a dangerous scrying device invented by the sorceress long ago.
As an historical aside, the day of Tezirah's death by hanging was the first time that seers recorded visions of a hideous bat-winged skull that soared from their subconscious and paralyzed them with unspeakable agony. Some still believe that this dread image, seen many times since, is actually the spirit of Tezirah herself. Her last attempt at a spell of vengeance, the story goes, trapped her soul on the Probability Plane, which all prophets touch to foresee the future. She now flies endlessly across the chaotic abyss, trying to force her way back into our world through the "doorway" that opens for just a split-second during any mage's prediction.
While this is generally seen as a bogey-tale to frighten apprentices ("Study well, or Tezirah will eat your soul!"), this author feels that there is enough established precident in magical circles to consider this tale not only cautionary, but all too possible.