The Shards of the Force was a dark side cult created by Amaranth in approximately 20,000 BBY. Though named after Amaranth's own species, the Shard species was obscure enough that most members of the Shards of the Force believed the name was a reference to the splintering of the Force into light and dark. The Shards of the Force fought an underground holy war, attempting to balance out the light and dark sides of the Force through destruction of smaller cults, weakening of the large and powerful Jedi Order and the like. The Shards of the Force continued on in this vein until around 7,500 BBY, at which point Amaranth handed over leadership of the cult to the second-in-command in order to travel to the Jedi Order and engineer a major schism that would help to balance the Force. Without the strong and purposeful hand of Amaranth leading the Shards, they soon fell prey to the vices of the dark side, and many were killed through in-fighting. However, the cult endured by laying out an incredibly strict hierarchy, which began with the Grand Counselor, followed by five Council Members, who debated and voted on important decisions. Each of the five council members tutored a single Apprentice, and each of these apprentices specialized in a different aspect of dark side teachings. Combined, these five apprentices would educate twenty Acolytes. Whenever one of the Shards of the Force perished, a lower-ranked individual would be promoted through strict and and unbending trials, so that the Shards would not become consumed by hunger for power and treachery.
Because of this strict order of being, the Shards managed to survive for a significant period of time, studying and operating from the shadows, never as a major galactic power, but often involved in crime rings and the like. It is known that the Shards of the Force still existed in this form in 137 ABY, during the reign of Darth Krayt as Galactic Emperor and Dark Lord of the Sith.