Chapter 4: Introduction to Othonia
The land of Othonia was once a thriving diversity of intermingled peoples, working together as One People, One Nation, One World. Magic was a friend to the People, working in tandem with them to accomplish their goals and build their society. Magic was the mortar that held up buildings, the key to their moderate climate, the fertilizer that fed the crops, and the light of the World that gave the People Hope. Magic kept the wagons floating along the ground, filled the sails of ships, and allowed the People to sail the skies as well as the seas. It healed the sick, cleansed the land, and purified the water.
For generations upon generations, Magic kept its People safe, content, and comfortable. But the People became too comfortable, too complacent, too greedy. They became violent, split the land into separate Nations, and began waging war race upon race and nation upon nation. And as they did, the Magic began to fail them. Unable to cope with their loss, unable to survive without the Magic that was so ingrained in them, the People lost their Faith. As the Magic became more inconsistent, the People began to fumble their way through basic functions, like farming, and hunting, and preparing food. In time, they came to survive on their own. They began to learn how to use tools to make their own clothing and furniture, how to make fire with flint and steel, how to cook their own food.
Over the course of 300 years, Magic faded slowly, giving its Children time to adjust to its loss. It began with the failing of simple daily Spells. After that, people noted the disappearance of the Lesser Elementals. With their loss, all Spells failed, and Constructs began to fade quickly, transforming from powerful beasts and soldiers into naught but piles of dust. In a matter of a few decades, the Totem Spirits began to weaken, only to disappear altogether, taking the Ancestral Spirits with them. Within four years of the last remaining Ancestral Spirit, even the Avatars of the Gods abandoned their People and returned to the Spirit Plain with their lesser fellows.
When the even the Avatars left them, many of the Fayren could not cope with their failure as the Guardians of Magic, and in reflection of their inner guilt, their wings began to fade. Many of the Elders simply faded away into the Dream Realm, seeking to hide from all that their negligence had wrought upon the world. A century later, most of the remaining Fayren, tired and frustrated, and lost without their Elders, feared that Magic had left them because they were not worthy keepers, and sought to destroy all remaining tomes and artifacts housed within the Great Libraries and Artifact Houses. As the Great Burning began, so did the fall of civilization as they knew it.
In punishment for their insolence, the dissident young Fayren began to lose their ties to the Dream. It became harder for them to enter the Dream, and harder for them to navigate it once the found themselves within it. Eventually, the Silver Door was sealed from the inside, by whom no one knows, but the action succeeded in trapping the cowards within the Dream and sealing off safe passage for the other Fayren. Within a year, all Magical buildings and structures failed, trapping many innocents within their crumbling walls. Only the Lizuna, the only tribe of Fayren to keep their Faith, rushed into the crumbling ruins and braved the fires to rescue the people, artifacts, and tomes within.
Within two decades, the remaining Artifacts and magical Tomes finally faded from memory and view, becoming indistinguishable from their mundane counterparts. By the dawning of the next century, some three decades hence, the young Fayren, in a blind quest for Redemption, gave themselves over to voluntary indentured servitude in the care of the other races. They thought their wilted wings were proof of having broken their Oath to protect the Magic. Only the Lizuna remained in their sacred places, watching the Temples and Groves in the Elders' stead. In time, the younger Fayren elected the Lizuna as their new Elders, when it became clear the others would ne're return from their imprisonment within the Deep Dreaming.
Two centuries later, the land of Amari'z was discovered, and the modern history of Othonia began to take shape. Today, the mainland of Othonia houses the three great nations of Ejheria, Maerisius, and Vikaa'ra. Their territories were claimed long ago, when the races went their separate ways, and only the Rhukichiin peoples wander freely across borders with minimal suspicion. The Vikaa'ran High King rules the northwestern portion of the mainland, with Maerisius ruling the northeastern half and Ejheria to the south. With the newly discovered Amari'z lands on a large island to the northwest, and the even more recently opened borders of Tequanitzl to the northeast, the future of Othonia now rests in the hands of the Six Nations.
Outside of the normal trade routes and ocean currents, the Periphery waits, watching for the perfect moment to strike. Ever in constant flux, the dense fog banks of the Periphery ebb and flow with the tides, every changing, and ever ready to swallow any wayward ship that may wander into its clutches. Some swear it is alive, hungry, even conscious and evil... but, whatever the case, there is no dispute that the pirates, known as the Swordfish Armada, are the only ones to learn its secrets and traverse it freely. No vessel has ever gone into the Periphery and come out again, nor has anyone who has ever traversed its boundaries ever been seen alive again, save upon a Swordfish boat as one of their own.
With the newly discovered land in the southern Periphery, it remains to be seen what, if any, consequences may befall those who dare cross its only known boundary upon land. Most seafarers hold that ships who attempt a crossing without the Swordfish's permission sink immediately upon hitting a wall or barrier of some sort. Some claim to have seen other ships in their fleet hit such a barrier, crumple, and sink without a soul survivor. Others claim to have been lost in the fogs and heard the sounds of shipwrecks and screaming comrades before mysteriously coming out of the fog into open ocean as if nothing occurred at all, with no sign of the remainder of their fleet. Some claim to have sailed to the ends of the world, where there was naught but a great fall of water attempting to coax their ship over the edge into the void beyond.
None doubt that what lies beyond the Periphery is the stuff of Myth and Legend. The Wars of Men have raged throughout recorded history, blind to race and nation, yet tied to them inexplicably all at once by this greater mystery of the world itself. Will Othonia reveal her true past to those that pass beyond her veil of secrecy? The Prophecies of the Oracle may hold the key, but only her People, reunited as One People, may truly discover what lies beneath the shroud which she weaves around her great tapestry of Life and Dream...