Fall of Man
History of Ballur
See also: Ballur
The Age of Myth
Before recorded history
Legends speak of a day when a Solar of the high heavens fell through the firmament between planes, bringing with it the influence of the Outer Planes into the world. The result was the awakening of the Weave, the subtle way through which the strings of the fabric of reality could be manipulated. As the Solar entered hibernation to heal its extensive wounds, the mortal creatures of the area built a shrine atop it. Over the course of many centuries, a town sprang up around the shrine, named after the surest proof of the existence of the divine in the world – Solaris.
From Solaris, the Empire would expand, growing to encompass almost the entire northwestern segment of Concordus.
During the Age of Myth, Ballurans learned that the Weave could be tapped into to produce tangible changes in reality. Those who learned to manipulate the Weave were known as mages, and during this time they formed a worldwide network of peers known collectively as the Mage Clans.
The First Age of Magic
1107 years of magic
The First Age of Magic began with the accession of Otto I to the Amber Throne. During this time, the Mage Clans grew in influence, and the use of magic was widespread. In investigating the the cause of the emergence of the Weave, the Mage Clans discovered the existence of the Upper and Lower Planes. Those mages who thirsted for greater knowledge and power approached the denizens of these realms, and in doing so unwittingly brought the Eternal Conflict between the high heavens and the burning hells into the mortal realm. Both sides sought to utilise the mortal mages against the other, thus beginning a secret war of subterfuge and manipulations, with the loyalty of the legions of mortal spellcasters as its grand prize.
Over the course of many generations, the Mage Clans found themselves divided and aligned to two factions. Those who sided with the Ishara Clan in the west recognised that their abilities made them agents of change who could lead the mortal world into the metaphorical Promised Land of supreme bliss and comfort. To achieve this, the essence of the flawed mortal creatures that inhabited the lands first had to be changed, for as long as mortals were capable of evil and malevolence, the Promised Land could not be obtained. The Ishara turned to brute force and terrorisation, which they argued free-willed creatures were most susceptive to. The harms done by this reconditioning would be outweighed by the reward of the Promised Land.
The Qaniyah Clan in the eastern deserts of Al-Atum and its allies argued that a universal Promised Land ensuring happiness for all was impossible since beings with free will would always have conflicting and clashing ideals. Rather, they believed that the Promised Land was different for each individual, being a state of mind emerging from the present. The Mage Clans, they argued, should thus utilise their powers to create conditions wherein the majority of individuals could reach their own version of the Promised Land, gently applying coercive measures to effect changes in society to allow this. Repulsed by the brutality employed by the Ishara and its allies in pursuit of an impossible goal, the Qaniyah sought to defend vulnerable civilians via organisational austerity and severe punishments for their own mages to discourage the lapses in judgement that had overtaken the Ishara. These measures unfortunately served to alienate Clan members who defected en masse to the Ishara and its affiliated Clans.
A state of cold war emerged between the two factions of the Mage Clans. Caught in the middle was the Imperial Court in Solaris, which was powerless to act against those who could move mountains with the slightest of exertions. In the western provinces of the Empire, Imperial troops could not contend with the Ishara and their campaign of terror, while in the eastern provinces citizens learned to avoid the streets, and in doing so, the daily confrontations between the Ishara and the Qaniyah allies of the area.
In 1097, the Qaniyah learned from their inside sources that the Ishara had begun summoning demons into the world in return for even more knowledge and power. Assassins, including the Kingslayer, were assigned to key Ishara targets, and the Ishara targeted key Qaniyah figures in retaliation. The situation further deteriorated when a heated meeting in Solaris, mediated by Emperor Cadmus himself, erupted into a battle that resulted in multiple deaths. With the violence coming out into the open, the national forces of the various nations of the world did what they could to restore normalcy, but their efforts were in vain. With the outbreak of battles that raged across Concordus, the Mage Clan Wars began. Legions of Magi, tens of thousands strong, unleashed destruction upon each other in massive pitched battles.
Over the next ten years, the Ishara began openly using summoned demons in battle. The sheer brutality, cruelty and tangible evil of these creatures caused many to question their loyalty and defect to the Qaniyah. Yet even so, the creatures of the burning hells cut their way through the Qaniyah ranks with ease. Desperately, the Qaniyah launched a direct assault against the Ishara stronghold near the town of Eluhm, hoping to force a decisive battle and a swift end to the war.
In 1107, on the vast plains to the south of Eluhm, the final and largest engagement of the Mage Clan Wars was fought. Millions of magi, gathered from the four corners of the world took part, calling forth bolts of lightning and sweeping the fields with fire. As the battle intensified, the gathered magi called upon more and more destructive magicks at increasing frequencies, placing great strain upon the Weave.
Whereas normally the demands placed on the Weave would be spread more or less evenly around the globe, on this day millions of magi simultaneously tugged on a localised area of the Weave. As a result, the Weave tore open as the fabric of reality unwound and the strings of magic reverberated. Every possible spell effect simultaneously manifested, destroying everything in a 6 mile radius. The vast majority of the magi involved in the battle that day were instantly disintegrated, permanently crippling the power of the Mage Clans. This event came to be known as the Sundering of Eluhm.
The force of the explosion shook the planet off of its axis, permanently altering the seasons and global weather patterns. Earthquakes and tidal waves set off by the Sundering killed hundreds of thousands. In the coming years millions would starve to death due to failed harvests. Scholars would later estimate that the global population was halved in the decade following the Sundering of Eluhm.
The Sundering had also caused the firmament dividing the planes of existence to rip open in the immediate vicinity of the area. This tear, called the Great Fault, served as a gateway into the Material Plane from countless other planes of existence. As strange beasts, termed Outsiders, from other planes ravaged the countryside, the people of the world were left to fend for themselves. The mages who had promised them peace and security had all but brought about the end of the world.
The First Age of Zeal
1087 years of darkness
In the year after the Sundering, the few surviving mages did what they could to protect civilians from the Outsiders. However, the very people they sought to defend turned against them. Vigilante mage slayers, supplemented by the Imperial Army, formed and roamed the countryside slaying both monstrous Outsiders and traitorous magi.
By year 14, the Outsiders had been driven back and contained within the immediate areas around the Great Fault, on top of which a giant fortress, called Fort Guardian, was built. By the decree of the Emperor, the major mage slayer groups of the realm consolidated into the Order of the Falling Blade, and manned Fort Guardian preventing any Outsider that emerged from the Fault from leaving the complex alive. Laws were made criminalising the use of magic, and tomes of lore were burned to prevent the proliferation of magical knowledge. Those who continued to use magic unabated were branded apostates and killed on sight. The Mage Clans had completely ceased to exist, except in the sands of Al-Atum, where the Qaniyah Clan was still respected and trusted.
In the year 35, under the direction of Empress Theodora, the Order of the Reaching Grasp was established, ostensibly for the regulation of and systematic training in the use of magic, but in reality for the lifelong imprisonment of mages in an easily observable location. It was argued that lifelong house arrest was more humane than termination on sight. Additionally, should the need for mages ever arise, the Court would have immediate access to well-trained mages who were well aware of the risks of magic unchecked. To monitor the Reaching Grasp, a detachment of Falling Blades were stationed underneath the building in Wayford. Their purpose was to slay any mage who stepped out of line, and also to protect the mages from vigilantes from the outside, for public opinion was still against the use of magic.