There are no scrolls in this world, but there are crystals of various sizes, colors and qualities. Every spell has a requirement on the amount and characteristics of crystals that must be held in order for the spell to be cast, crystals which would shatter should the cast be successful. Now picture a land where crystals are scarce except for high concentrations of them in specific spots throughout the land. A number of scenarios could occur, such as benign companies selling the mined valuable for cheap, a region in constant magic-intense war zone, an area of crystals in the quicksand, or an undiscovered patch next to a town...
In addition to the Thieves' Guilds, there is a hierarchy that all thieves are part of. Rank is based on skill, and can be raised or lowered at any time. The Queen of Thieves, the greatest living thief in the world, is the ruler. Guildmasters answer only to her, and she answers to no one at all.