Not just the largest merchant guild in all of Agemonia, The Amethyst Order is also a bank, a mercenary corporation and a trading emporium. Originally it was a guild of gemcutters led by one Grand Magister Haclar who was tasked by the Council of Eight to supervise the trade of agura crystals. The Amethyst Order has since grown vastly bigger and superseded the Council of Eight as the supreme economic actor in all Agemonia.
Nowadays its biggest competitors and sometimes collaborators are the richest noble houses and the korallian corporations. But none rival the Amethyst Order for the sheer scale of their operations or their reach into the farthest corners of the world.
The company has been ruled by Grand Magister Haclar for hundreds of years, or so the stories tell. How that is possible, is hard to say. Has his life been artificially lengthened? Has the title passed from father to son for generations? Does this person even exist? Only the top magisters of the Amethyst Order would know for sure. Perhaps including the ignisaur Hemet One-Flame, the Regional Magister of Runedale, whose office is in Cadfael Fortress.
The formerly independent city state of Copperton has become the capital of Amethyst Order where the order runs the whole city. Some rulers see this as a troubling sign, but it has not stopped the grey and purple robed merchants or ruby robed magisters from spreading their operations even further. They cut down Pattangan forests for timber, they mint their own coins in Benem, control most trade with the far-off Megeian Empire, and even operate their own private armies here and there.
What started a few decades ago as a small spiritual movement in some Benemite towns, has become a new, rapidly growing religion. The Cult of the Fifth Eye venerates what they call "the mysteries of the past", meaning the objects, devices and inscriptions left behind by the Ancients.
Ever since the machines started powering up, people have started looking for answers to questions they never knew existed. Some old pagan temples have been converted into Churches of the Fifth Eye, and new buildings are being constructed all over Agemonia to accommodate the ever-growing amount of worshippers.
The cult meetings offer healing, choral music, strong moral teachings, and a sense of community and purpose.
The nihteegri of Benem love the night sky, and ever since they abandoned their pagan gods they have looked to cosmographers to explain the universe in a scientific manner. An observatory stands in every Benemite town, housing a group of cosmographers working as local teachers, counselors, librarians, scribes, physicians, and astronomers.
The Cosmographers' Guild is a monastic order that welcomes all sexes and peoples, although almost all of them are nihteegri. Each observatory is led by a Celestor, under whom serves the Prior, a group of cosmographers, novices and candidates. Usually they take care of all the chores of the observatory, but sometimes practical tasks are given to hired servants.
A person who takes on the starry caftan of a cosmographer officially leaves their family and takes a vow of celibacy. From that on they are referred to by their title and first name. The titles are Candidate, Novice, Cosmographer, Prior, Celestor, and finally High Celestor. The cosmographers in Runedale are led by Celestor Sagon, formerly of House Howell.
The cosmographers are valued by the nobility and commoners alike, but those tied to old pagan ways, such as the Council of Eight or the Sable Crown, may question their atheistic world-view. On the other hand, many of the constellations are named after pagan gods.
Known for their symbol of a skull with a crown, representing a dead noble. They are a band of brigands, a group of rebels, a pack of pagan paladins. They are the Sable Crown.
The criminal organization robs from the rich with a lofty goal: to remove Benem's magical noble families and blasphemous cosmographers from power, and institute a proper democracy under the watchful eyes of the old gods. The common people are not so keen to take power, and many of them see the Sable Crown as a scourge of the land and an enemy of decency. ...as they have been told by the nobles and the cosmographers.
There are also rumors that the group is actually led by someone of noble birth, but it is hard to say where that story originates.
The Sable Crown is in a gang war with the assassins of the Shroud. The authorities are not keen in stepping in to stop these fights.
Most people in Agemonia would be surprised to learn the Council of Eight is still around. It is true it cannot live up to its past glory, when the order of warlocks and magi controlled most of the trade in the world. That part of their legacy is gone, but they are still prominent researchers of old lore and powerful magic.
In the past two hundred years Agemonian peoples have gone through many changes such as the Benemite civil war, the rise of the Amethyst Order, and the korallian revolution. Some of these developments have been good for the common people, others bad, but all of them have eaten away some of the power the Council of Eight holds. Nowadays they are just a cabal of old warlocks sitting in their libraries in crumbling towers.
But oh, the past days were glorious, indeed! Founded as a way for all the peoples of Agemonia to find peace and harmony, wisdom and knowledge, wealth and prosperity, the wisest magic-user from each people was nominated for the council. Under them a network of other warlocks to keep alive their mysteries, and spread their influence. For centuries there was wealth and wisdom in Agemonia, even peace, most of the time. Such was the Golden Age of Agemonia, or at least, the Golden Age of the Council of Eight.
Now their headquarters in Copperton are usurped by the Amethyst Order. Their wisdom neigh forgotten. Their teleports lost. Their archives shut. The religions supporting them out of fashion. Their feud with the Amethyst Order hopeless.
But yet they remain, keepers of ancient lore. Their tower in Runedale still exists, and the few warlocks in there ruled are by Essylit the Unerring, Warlock of the Inner Circle.
The most notorious criminal organization in Agemonia employs assassins, smugglers, spies and drug dealers. They care little for political games, religious sensibilities or other issues, and only work for money.
The Shroud recruits from all peoples, and likes to send their members to other parts of the world so they have no ties to their victims. This can make them seem like a bunch of foreigners, and sometimes innocent travelers and immigrants can be suspected of belonging to the feared and loathed organization.
When they want to openly declare their affiliation, Shroud members hide their face with veils of blue and yellow. But if they want to operate in the shadows, they are quite adept at concealing their identity, as well. It is said they have a secret base in every major town in Agemonia, and ties to leaders everywhere.
Traveling on the roads of Benem, one may come across pilgrims and healers traveling barefoot and begging for alms. They are called "jade tendrils," and it is considered good luck to offer them food and protection.
Jade tendrils follow their own customs and often pray in the solitude of the wilds.
Sometimes their travels take them to towns, and there are a few living semi-permanently in Runedale.
Few people know whether they follow the old pagan gods, or some foreign religion. They are tolerated by cosmographers and most religions, since they are seen as more or less harmless. These days they are hardly ever suspected of being up to nefarious plans to take over the world.
Long ago when the Ancients were leaving Agemonia and the new peoples were emerging, a select few were chosen from each new tribe to keep alive the legacy of the original inhabitants of the world.
They wait for the day when the devices of the Ancients can be switched on and operated. On that day, this clandestine order will use those machines to fight the demons of the Breach.
These secrets were passed from adept to pupil for countless generations while the enemies of the Ancients tried to hunt them down. Whenever a pupil would become an adept, they would be handed the key given to the teacher by their predecessor, originally hailing all the way back to the dawn of time.
Many fled and sought refuge in the remote islands of the southeast. Today the Keepers of the Breach are little known amongst common people, but few brave individuals still keep alive their flame and the memory of the Ancients.