In the Beginning

In time immemorial, the great empires of the world sought to extract the land's resources for their own gain and conquest without regard for the ruin they were reaping. In their struggle for dominance, the realm was beset by innumerable calamities: a thick cloud of poison that choked the air, the swelling of the sun, drowning floods, terrible storms, earthquakes that shook the land and brought great mountains to ruin, and the fading of ley lines.

Subsequently, the boundaries between this realm and other realms and planes grew frail and, eventually, broke down. Creatures never before seen spilled forth, and great tides of mana filled the ether.

Wars raged as the empires vied for supremacy, bringing an already ruined realm to even greater ruin. Ultimately, none emerged victorious. In their fervor for ultimate power, they destroyed each other and, in the process, themselves.

Amidst the carnage was born an alliance intent on salvaging what was left of the realm (and, perhaps, the potential for civilization to one day rise again). Using runic symbols to infuse mechanisms with mana, they created apparatuses and devices powered by gears, cogs, steam, and magic.

They called this runemancy, and they called themselves the Tai Kalayne.

Using the power of runemancy, they built the Obelisk Shield, a series of interconnected, monolithic pillars that sealed the rifts between this realm and the others. The realm’s entropic decline ended, yet it would be many years before it healed. Eons passed, then eons more. The realm did eventually heal. Its ley lines solidified, restoring the boundaries between realms and planes. However, the damage had been done; these boundaries remained tenuous and, sometimes, the preternatural slipped through. Meanwhile, the introduction of magic and otherworldly creatures had reshaped the realm until all remnants of its sordid and sorrowful history had been wiped clean. Yet the Tai Kalayne remained.

Until the Splintering tore the realm asunder and destroyed the Obelisk Shield.

In its wake, the few Tai Kalayne who survived opened a rift to seek the cataclysm’s source. They never returned.

The Splintering

It was the machinations of Silus of the Rift and his legions of Chaos—a vast horde of armies comprising conquerors and the conquered—that wrought the Splintering in an attempt to breach the realm. Ultimately, they failed, but the damage was tremendous. The realm was torn asunder, its lands reshaped into seven continents: Khymeria in the northwest, Drayk Nahka in the north, Azmare in the northeast, the Burning Lands in the east, Mortis to the southwest, and Praetoria at its center. Billions of souls perished in a great cataclysm of floods, tempests, earthquakes, and pyroclasts. Even more died in the weeks and months that followed as an eternal ice age gripped parts of the realm, an infernal heat others. Estimates place the loss at more than 99% of the population, with countless species and races wiped out completely.

Thus, the Splinterlands were born.

With the land divided, so too were its people. Separated by great seas and oceans, they evolved into distinct races and subraces unique to their environments. In time, new civilizations, empires, kingdoms, and city-states rose to fill the vacuum of power. A time of great conflict and wars followed, as each sovereignty sought to expand its borders and establish dominance over each other.

Only Praetoria remained unspoiled. It is here the monolithic pillars of the Obelisk Shield still stood. They were dark and silent, yet a deep magic still resonated within them, ensuring the rifts that connected Splinterlands to its sister realms remained sealed. The greatest mages of the age came together and hid the continent and its secrets behind a veil of magic to ensure those rifts would remain forever closed, and the task was passed on to their successors and their successors' successors, and so on for many generations.

The Chaos War

Over the millennia, the ageless Silus of the Rift remained intent on his conquest of the Splinterlands and its boundless mana—the most potent source of power in any of the planes and their many realms. He and his legions of Chaos made a pact with the dark god Uul. It was allowed to gorge itself on the mana of the countless realms they conquered until it grew fat enough to overcome the Obelisk Shield and breach the rifts leading to the Splinterlands.

And after thousands of years and hundreds of realms consumed, Uul's strength grew potent enough to weaken these rifts. Agents of Chaos infiltrated the realm, promising power and wealth untold to those who would pave the way for the coming of the legions. Conspirators brought down the Wizards' Veil that shrouded Praetoria. They dampened the Obelisk Shield. At last, Uul tore asunder the rifts of the Splinterlands, and the legions of Chaos poured forth in a great tide of conquest.

Mighty kingdoms, empires, and city-states had sailed forth to claim the lands of Praetoria as their own. With their armies split between homeland and distant soil—and with each splinter divided by culture and creed—no single sovereignty, no matter how strong, could stand against the legions of Chaos.

Within a year, all opposition had been crushed. The Splinterlands was conquered. The Chaos Empire divided the land into thirteen provinces, each with its own decentralized system of governance that enforced the will of Silus of the Rift with ruthless efficiency.

Yet with the rifts breached, the way was opened for another—not invaders, but descendants of the Tai Kalayne who had left the Splinterlands so many millennia ago. All but slaughtered in their initial battle with the legions of Chaos, they followed their enemy through the rifts, collecting scraps and survivors of the realms drained of mana by the dark god Uul. A motley band of exiles and refugees severed from their pasts and their cultures, they chose a new identity: the Riftwatchers.

In cities and town across Praetoria, The Ritwatchers trained the citizenry to fight and resist, and in the years that followed, the tides shifted—not all at once, but by degrees. Hope once lost was rekindled. Broken wills mended. The shackles of oppression became brittle and festooned with the rust of defiance.

Soon, those shackles will break, and rebellion will sweep across the land.

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