The Age of Ruin--the Third Age

The beginning of the Third Age, the darkest time in Terok, was heralded by three events: the loss of magic, the sudden departure of the gods, and the enslavement of the elven race. These three events resulted in fundamental changes for the people in Terok, overshadowing even the First Exodus, as the races had to deal with a world that no longer worked the way it had for thousands of years.

The Loss of Magic
Details are sketchy, but most stories agree that, around the start of the third millennium, magic began to fade. At first it was the simplest cantrips that were failing--eventually, however, it became clear that the problem was more widespread, as complex magics also became affected. Soon, only the most powerful archmages could perform magic with any reliability, which led some--now-powerless wizards among them--to accuse these practioners of being behind the phenomenon, orchestrating it for their own ends.

The Silence of the Gods
Around the same time arcane forces were fading, the Church called its people to the largest temples in the land for an unprecedented congregation. Afterwards, it was revealed that their own magic, a gift from the divine, was also failing, and that the gathering had been an attempt to pool their waning power in order to contact the gods, and learn what was happening. All they heard was silence, however--the gods had suddenly left, and no-one seemed to know why.

The Fate of the Elves
The final straw came when dwarven messengers arrived at the castles of every major kingdom in Terok, bearing a grim message: the elves were the ones responsible for the loss of magic, in an effort to horde it for themselves.

The outrage was immediate, and elves all across the land, even those who had little to do with magic (merchants, artists, craftsmen), found themselves the victims of brutal reprisals, causing many to flee for the elven homeland. But even the citadel of elven power wasn't safe, as it soon found itself under attack from its neighbors. Without magic or their goddess, they were overrun--the survivors fled or were enslaved, and the Eternal Kingdom itself was divided amongst its conquerors.

The Seas' Rebellion
Whether caused by the loss of magic, the departure of Yvinne and the other gods, or some unknown third force, the seas suddenly became deadly. Where once skilled sailors could safely traverse the oceans, now it was death to stray more than a mile or two from shore. Currents changed, rendering century-old charts useless; and strange leviathans preyed on on ocean-going vessels, making it impossible to create new ones. As a result, contact with the continent of Kazuun was lost. And the merfolk--long-time allies to the land-dwelling races--simply vanished, leaving no-one to answer the many questions the shorefolk had to ask.

Starting Over
And so a new world was born--one without magic, and without gods. Like all births, this was a painful time. Plagues grew out of the diseases the clerics could no longer cure, devastating populations. Priests left the Church in droves, their faith shattered by their gods' abandonment. Those who remained tried to keep the old practices alive, but few would tithe to a church who could do little to help during these difficult times, and the clergy were soon regarded as little more than a sad joke. And as for the once-ubiquitous magic, those few who retained any power were forced to go into hiding even as it faded, for fear of drawing the ire of those who now had to do without. Universities, libraries, and other centers of learning, both mystical and otherwise, were ransacked for magic items (for it was quickly discovered that this was a form of magic that remained viable), and then burned as people realized that they would have to learn new ways to perform once-simple tasks. Resources were hoarded, leading to struggles over these dwindling supplies, which eventually led to all-out wars. Kingdoms were divided as old alliances were tossed aside in favor of survival. Communication became unreliable, relying mostly on riders who were slower than the old ways, and prone to ambush. This resulted in the larger kingdoms become unmanageable, which caused an increase in banditry as the criminal element took advantage of the chaos, and the slow response time of organized resistance. Merchants now needed larger escorts when they took their goods on the road, meaning more merchants stayed closer to home. Soon cities became isolated from each other, and many responded by turning inward--some shrugged off even nominal fealty to the old rulers, and became city-states, recognizing no authority but their own.

Things improved, as the initial hysteria faded. Crops were planted and harvested, children were born and grew into adults before finally dying--life went on. But it was a harder life than anyone had ever endured before, and the Terokians became harder as a result. More than one bard has referred to the this period as the end of Terok's innocence--this was the time when the world grew up.

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