Solaron rises above the vast expanse of an island-speckled sea, ocher rays spilling across the cliffs and crags of the rocky coast. The scent of brine and fish carries inland upon a waft of crisp morning air, and in the deep sky above, the black volcanic orb of Atracus fades before the golden radiance of the newly woken sun. There, upon a wind-swept precipice overlooking the crashing waves, stands what at first might be taken as a human. He is Eldriéne, an Elder One, clothed in silk and fine-spun vestments with a golden band upon his head and spellforged bracers upon his arms. His silver hair glints like crystal in the dawning light, his wizened eyes shine bright and clear, and the wrinkles of time that furrow his face seem more the product of his compassionate smile than the weight of the centuries he has seen.
Beside him waits another figure—a Tarriéne in the musical tongue of the Eldriéne—a human as they would one day be called. He seems an unlikely creature to accompany the Elder One—a savage figure donned in tough leathers and coarse furs, his dark eyes peering out from a face framed by thick black hair. But the man also wears belt of jewels and bronze and he carries upon his back a magnificent golden sword, its primordial blade radiant with divine power. To his people, he is a mighty warrior and an even mightier chief. To the Elder One, he is but a child. And like any child, there are many things he still must learn.
Soon, the Elder One would instruct this man in the secrets of runes and of writing, show him how to grind plants into medicines, teach him to draw metals from rocks, and the train him in the craft of forging bronze and iron. Humankind had lost these arts in the long dark age following the Last Cosmic War that had plunged the world into chaos and ruin for untold millennia. But now, with the Dv’gn Lords sealed in the volcanic prison of Atracus and the last of the Fellspawn hordes vanquished, the lingering night had finally ended and a glorious new age was about to dawn…
Five thousand years of history would span between that first dawning of civilization and the present age of steam, industry, and progress—five thousand years of war, wonders, legends, and empires.
The Last Cosmic War and the First Age of Darkness
For untold ages, in the vast epoch before the first human put chisel to stone, the Archons of Light and the Archons of Darkness battled for supremacy over All Creation. In those vast cosmic conflagrations, known only in the deepest myths as the Cosmic Wars, the stars themselves were said to have burned.
Some 10,000 years ago, the Archons of Darkness, known then as Dv’gn or Demons, rose up to overthrow the remaining Archons of Light, known also as the Vanasir. In that Last Cosmic War, a great alliance of races united with the Vanasir and their Eldren armies against the monstrous Dv’gn hordes. In the end, the Vanasir sacrificed own their immortal essence to vanquish the Demons and their Fellspawn armies, sealing them for all time on the scorched, volcanic world of Atracus.
In the bleak dark age following the end of the Last Cosmic War, civilizations rose and fell. Most of these civilizations were destroyed utterly, leaving no records or evidence apart from a few remote temples and artifacts. Humans had been reduced to little more than bands of barbarians and roving nomads that were led by warlords and sorcerers. Even the Eldren, in their greatness, struggled to survive.
That long dark age, now known as the First Age of Darkness, at last came to an end with the rise of the Empire of Keshim.