Centers of Power and Control
Guild of Shadows
Of all the stories discussed in hushed whispers at taverns, none is more popular or dreaded, than stories of the Guild of Shadows. A mysterious organization that has existed since before Zether was born, it is well known to take on jobs that involve assassination, intelligence work and theft. It is believed that the people of the continent became aware of the Guild between the years of 282 to 287 when lots of claims and rumors began to spread about their existence, perhaps started by the Guild themselves. Then a member of the Guardians, whose name has been lost to history, confirmed that the Supreme Seven had bought the loyalty of the Guild to aid them in their battle against the elven forces. Despite all the innuendo, no-one knows where the Guild is based, what towns they frequent or who they control, and it is not uncommon for people to claim to be a part of the Guild in order to be feared. What has passed into general acceptance is that their agents are known as Shadow-ones, men and woman who have been stolen as children and raised to become killers and thieves. Most never see their parents again, and the ones that do are barely recognizable from the children they once were. The only known symbol of the Guild is a diving sparrow, a strange symbol considering Karisa is more associated with the legendary phoenix than he is with this inconspicuous bird.
In the year 178 EoZ, Reshyurnlorn Ghul-Azay decided that it was up to him to end the elven threat his ancestors unleashed upon the continent. So, he gathered four of the warrior tribes Turmurin, Clwedri, Prlenthus, and Feletrum and united them under the banner of the Guardians at the foot of the Lightning-Struck Mountain. Their sole mission: to protect the world against the elven threat. It was here he declared that he would lead the forces of humanity against Zether, and killed the King of the Turmurins when he accused Reshyurnlorn of simply wanting to take advantage of the situation. This proved the extent of his ambition.
It took seven years but the Guardians managed to break through into the Elven Dominion at Glimmering Point and hold Zether at swordpoint. The First Elven War ended when Zether offered mankind peace and the ability to use magic, and despite Reshyurnlorn arguing that Zether would eventually begin hostilities against them again, the others who were there insisted that they could beat Zether again if he did so. After that, Reshyurnlorn claimed the area around the Lightning-Struck Mountain for himself. Crowning himself King of the Turmurins, Reshyurnlorn is considered the founder of the Guardians and credited with uniting the warrior tribes under a singular purpose. Later, the Guardians fought against bandits and monsters that roamed the land following the war, quickly becoming heroes of humanity from their base at Gwendmont, a citidel built into the Lightning-Struck Mountain. But that all changed when Reshyurnlorn was killed in his own manor by an elven assassin.
Guardian society revolves around the need to prove oneself through combat and deeds, usually in the defense against Zether, or at least, it was before Reshyurnlorn Ghul-Azay was assassinated by elven loyalists. After that, the priorities of the Guardians began to shift from defense to control, believing they could have prevented his death if they had better control of the situation. As a result, the Guardians began to control who could do what, and who could be where. Or in other words, the Guardians became incredibly biased and racist, all in the name of preventing the warrior tribes from being infiltrated, to stop wizards from claiming lands and building their own versions of the elven dominions and to prevent infiltrators of other races from killing their members. They began to care less about what their warriors did, so long as they kept the peace. For most members of the Guardians, this involved oppressing their own civilians, excluding people of other races and faiths out of fear of corruption and compromise, and ignoring all crimes so long as it guaranteed the control of the Guardians. As a result, the Guardian Lands have become nearly lawless (apart from the racism laws) and it is common knowledge that the citizens will take matters into their own hands if someone has committed a crime, are suspected of having committed a crime, or are just too weak not to get into trouble. There have been rumors that the Guardians no longer care about defending their realms from outside invaders, so long as the Supreme Seven that lead the Guardians remain in power.
Political and legal affairs aside, the constantly hostile environment breeds powerful warriors and necessitates a strong bond between those who can trust one another. Some of the most famous, and most vicious warriors were made heroes by the Guardians, and thanks to their victories over elfkind, the Guardians remain the awe of their allies. The Symbol of the Guardians is the visage of a gruff, powerful warrior, believed to be that of Reshyurnlorn himself.
Sanctums for the arcane or the knowledgeable, call them what you will, wizard towers are rarely towers at all. Most of the time, they are either libraries or hideouts carved into rock or even just houses converted into places of respite. Wizards guard their secrets jealously, even though since Zether granted the magical crystals to mankind, most of what they know is what he taught them. Some of the most notable wizard towers are Talis Tower, a tower hidden in an unknown location in the Northern World, and the Tower of Oaths situated in Gwendmont.
In some mountains there are ancient ruins believed to pre-date the King of Evil; most of these are considered to be the precursors of wizard towers.