NO ONE quite knows when or how the world began. The Ecclesiarches of Antia (of which I happen to be one) say it was when Corialstrahz, their primary god, saw and hated the eternal darkness of the cosmos, and created first light, then ground, then finally humans to praise His being. The Wizards of Acizor and Rozica preach that the world formed due to the presence of a nexus of magical energies, and the Nontheists of Neovia say it formed simply by random chance. Nevertheless, despite the disagreement over how it came into being, the world definitely began; and, not very long after its genesis, it brought into being the first of humanity.
These beings were true primitives, of the type only seen today in the backwaters of the Barbarian Lands; they hunted animals, gathered berries, and worshipped animalistic gods administered to by dancing shamans. Over time, throughout the globe, leaders began to emerge from the primeval mess, teaching their tribes of agriculture, organization, the sciences, and, sadly, warfare. These were the first of the great civilizations, so old that their names and histories are today no more than whispers in the unforgiving winds of time.
Today, we know of only our local lands, which we call “The Continents”; but in these ancient nations, men knew of all the lands, seas, and countries the entire world contained. It is said that they possessed flying machines; not the flapping gliders the Antian mechanics have failed to perfect, but flying colossi of steel and fire that could, in a single day, go so far west that they would return from the east. They also had strange boats that could sail under the waves; metal boxes that could easily outdistance a horse; screaming, flying tubes that could carry men into the stars; and massive cities of glass and iron, many miles acoss, the ruins of which can still be seen today. But, in their lust for conquest, the scientists of the age committed a terrible hubris; they found that by destroying Aetûms, the holy things that make up everything in the world, they could destroy entire cities. But the Gods could not allow such heresy from their subjects, and our predecessors felt their wrath as they were annihilated by their own creations
Once the dust from the end of the era had settled, the landscape of the world had changed dramatically. Lands once lush and beautiful were now forbidding wastelands; deserts were transformed, by means of lost technology, into hospitable gardens. Man, now reduced in size from billions to a hardy hundred thousand, to millennia to repopulate the globe: but repopulate it they did, and The Continents housed the first of this new breeds’ greatest nations.
THE FIRST of these nations came into being deep within the mountains of modern Antia, and called itself Odoi – in one of the local languages, the Land of the Saved. For centuries, Odoi was little more than a large penal colony, administered to by nations that otherwise would be at arms; but as the area entered a period of unrest, Odoi swelled with dissident scholars, convicted reformers, and rebel commanders, and it quickly became the most advanced, civilized, and powerful nation since those of our ancestors.
The list of peoples and lands that Odoi came to control continues almost without end: the Kingdom of Benako, the Cabu and the Qirabab, the tribes of Ecweddo, the decadent Poiyabin Empire, all save three of the numerous Galtian nations, the remnants of ancient Zhungguwow, the dominion of mercantile Gathracthe, the warring city-states of Xyth. It was Odoian scholars who rediscovered gunpowder, lost for millennia, and built the first firearms the world had seen since the fury of the ancients scoured the earth. It was Odoian reformers who reconceived the ideas of freedom and republic, and spread them across the vast lands they had conquered. It was Odoian mechanics who built the first of the mechs, the giant, steam-driven monstrosities of wood and steel that fight for Antia even today.
Of course, no empire is perfect, and no empire is eternal. Some meet their ends by way of religious conflict or the invasion of foreigners; some are leveled by a natural disaster, such as a plague or a flood; some rot from within by corruption or civil war. Odoi, however, was destroyed by an element no civilization before it had ever encountered, let alone dealt with. That element was magic.
MAGIC WAS first discovered deep within the land we now know as Rozica; few know how, or why, it suddenly came into being, but its users swiftly became Odoi’s the most feared enemies. Despite their technological advantage and overwhelming numbers, the Odoian soldiers could not defeat men who caused fire to come forth from their fingertips and mountains to come apart. Within a few years of the advent of magic, these magic users, the ancestors of the modern Wizards, had driven the armies of Odoi from their shores.
The great scientific principles of Odoi, hammered out over the ages by ancient records and brilliant innovators, could not hope to explain the powers of magic; they crumbled, along with the rest of Odoian society. Magic began to spread among the many cells of resistance throughout Odoi’s vast empire, and, bit by bit, Odoi broke apart. Finally, the city of Odoi itself was buried under the mountains that had shielded it since birth, and its leaders fled to the four corners of the globe. When the besieged Odoian colonies abroad received news of their homeland’s end, some surrendered to their enemies and a few put themselves to the torch; but many simply made peace with their unfriendly neighbors and settled down among the fertile ash the volcano of history’s greatest empire had left behind.
So ended the age of Odoi.
THE CONTINENTS today are nothing like they were when Odoi was supreme. Instead of being under the dominion of a single, mighty nation, it is broken between many nations, all devoted to eliminating their rivals. Magic, once thought of as naught but superstition, is widespread and very, very dangerous. There is no peace; the many nations are so different that all they see in common is war.
The Fallicans, rulers of a mighty naval empire to the far north, revolted against the benevolent rule of the wealthy Oceanic League long ago. Today, they terrorize their former partners and wreak havoc throughout their once peaceful waters.
The Oceanic Remnant is a mere shadow of what was once a nation more idyllic than Odoi at its height. Staunchly opposed to new ideas since the Fallicans rose to power, they are willing to kill all foreigners.
The Barbarian Lands is hardly even a true nation; it is simply an alliance of convenience between the area’s mightiest tribes. Riddled with superstition and ignorance, the ordinary people sacrifice interlopers to their pagan gods.
The Neovian Republic, once a beacon of freedom and democracy, has lost its integrity to the simple rot of corruption. Today, it is nothing more than a nation of madmen who have drowned their cause under their own fanaticism.
The Hasmodean Mercantile is greed incarnate. Ruled by a puppet placed on the throne by one of many rich trading families, the Hasmodeans will buy and sell anything – even human life – without wincing.
The Ozarrdian Empire, the descendant of a great warrior race that fought its way past the trackless deserts of the south, has long since passed the height of its power. Once nearly as mighty as Odoi, it has shrunk down to half its former size, and holds on to its remaining territories with an iron fist.
Its powerful enemies petrify the Novan Alliance, formed to combat their Ozarrdian oppressors. So afraid are they of their former rulers that they ruthlessly purge even their own ranks of men that have not totally proved their loyalty.
Acizor and Rozica, the islands that played host to the discovery of magic, are now torn apart by their famous creation. The unity they saw when they drove out Odoi is no more; instead, they are divided among petty feudal kings who can only unite to combat the aggressive Ozarrdian armies.
Though it claims to be the successor state to ancient Odoi, the Antian Nation was never as powerful as its legendary ancestor was, even at its peak, was. Now, even farther past its prime than still-mighty Ozarrdia, it is held together only by its ancient, hateful religion and the remains of ancient Odoian technology.
This is the pathetic remnant of a realm once great, now reduced to petty quarrels and pointless war. What was once united, is now fragmented; what was once fertile, is now barren; what was once peaceful, is now torn with war. There are times when we of Akedemae, a settlement deep within the northern Antian Mountains, seem to be the only sane men left in this world; all others have been consumed by unreasoning hatred, blind fanaticism, lust for power, or simple greed. Those few others who were sane were destroyed by magic, that mysterious, illogical force that drove the enlightened of the past to extinction.
To the person who finds this text, I ask you not to burn it, as many in our world most certainly would. Study it, learn from it, and use it to prevent the repetition of ancient mistakes. Advise your superiors; aid your fellows; share with them this record of our savaged world. Please, for the sake of those men who have long since passed, and those men who have yet to come, keep the flame of history alive!
Written by the former Salenco Retemiad,
Beloved Governor and High Teacher of Akedemae,
Shortly before his death at the hands of Neovian invaders.
May Corialstrahz the Sun and Zhamastos the Moon rest his soul.