In The Footprints of Ancients
Though the world has been called by many names in different regions, at the height of civilizations glory the commonly accepted name was “Andomenel”, coming from an old Elvish phrase for “Heaven’s Gate”, which itself stemmed from a belief that this world was but one step away from the realm of Gods. Though all regions of Andomenel have their own unique histories, it is the story of the worlds unified rise and collapse that truly defines it.
For an age Andomenel had been a world steeped in magical energies. Nearly every child born across the world showed some aptitude for magic. The elders and priests believed it was a gift from the Gods, that magic had been bestowed upon the people of the world from a heavenly source. During the first few centuries of wide spread magic society grew, cities formed where small villages had once stood, great states and nations united. Great heroes arose in this time, as the world teamed with evil and wicked Magi. Heroes and armies tamed the wilderness, throwing down great demons and beasts, sealing malovelance within caverns, and fighting to the death against torrents of monsters. But the formation of cities and states rarely benefits all, and so many wars were fought in those years, with great magic users on either side, and a great many men died, and the world was scarred. Evil wizards rose, seeking to subjugate all others beneath them. Wars raged between kingdoms, against sinister Magi, against demons spewed from the earth. As wars diminished the population, and stunted the growth of civilization, the birth of the magically gifted also slowed. Many thought that their transgressions against one another had disappointed the Gods, and so their gifts were withdrawn. As the centuries passed the magi dwindled. During this time the greatest of the magi banded together, and swore an oath of peace, that no magic kingdom should do war with another. And so though the wages of time, and an increasingly smaller crop of magical children, continued to diminish the Magi, slowly the bloodshed stopped.
During this period of Andomenel’s history many great works were accomplished. Large dams were built to tame waters, aqueducts allowed people to expand to arid wastes, great cathedrals were constructed, great walls erected to keep out the wild beasts, roads stretched from city to city, and cities grew outwards and upwards. But much of this expansion was owed not to the technology, or slave labor, but rather to the works of great wizards and other magical people. The vast constructions, too big and intricate to have been built without magical tools, were constructed and maintained by magic, patrolled and repaired by golems, held safe by unbreakable seals, and all of it allowed a leisurely and frivolous life for the average man. As time stretched on magic was by no means ubiquitous, and so kings and emperors and lords with no magical talent ruled over the peaceful kingdoms, and had to take wizards and clerics into their service, and pay them great sums and afford them great freedoms in order to insure that society was maintained.
Eventually, the great wizards and clerics of the world grew in their power, sustaining their lives supernaturally. They had become a minority once more, and were quickly realizing that the age of magic was coming to a close. They understood how much they were being relied upon, and in many ways used, to maintain the vast empires of lesser men, and so they grew tired. They no longer wished to keep vassals in check or rebuff demonic incursions or heal the sick, and realized that they never had much of an opportunity to pursue their own goals since the Magi diminished. Their lives in the latter days of the time of the ancients was mostly spent furnishing their lords with lesser magicians and great works. Reviling the unenlightened kings and emperors, and especially the common man, many of the greatest wizards and sorcerers and clerics banded together once more and formed their own, extremely inaccessible, enclaves. They left to mountain tops, remote islands, cities beneath the oceans, palaces in the clouds, and lived in peace, free from the demands and the wars of those beneath them. In their enclaves they flourished, and grew more and more powerful, and even those among them who felt sorry for those they left behind eventually realized how much better off they were. The gates to their enclaves closed, illusions were deployed to hide them from lesser men, and the Magi left the world.
Lesser magicians had been left behind, many of them students at the time of the exodus, or those who continued to be born with the gift for magic, but unable to truly master its use. These people were relied upon as kings and emperors scrambled to prove themselves strong still in the face of this catastrophe. But the abilities of the magicians were not strong enough, and they were not practiced enough. Much of the magic that had been maintaining the infrastructure of empires, had been warding off storms and droughts and plagues, was far beyond them. Many of them died, falling victim to backfired spells and alchemical mishaps, and with fewer and fewer wizards of any skill level to rely on, society began to wither, having grown beyond its means and no longer having the magic to sustain it. As the centuries passed the roads became decayed and overgrown, the great dams burst and whole cities were swallowed by the waters, the jungles and forests encroached on the towns, the universities and libraries crumbled and became colonies for the plague stricken, society fell into darkness.
Andomenel forges on still, and the time of peace and prosperity, many centuries passed, has come to be known as The Time of the Ancients. Magic still exists, though it is sometimes persecuted. Small kingdoms have formed, using more primitive mechanical or alchemical means to support the constructions of old where they still stand. Wars are fought, monsters roam, the world is unquestionably darker.