The idyllic tranquility of Ceyenus was shattered with a single word.
Appearing long after the gods forged the world, Man’s coming was as unexpected as it was cataclysmic. Approached with open arms and promises of friendship, Man proved a terrible scourge. Bending reality to his whim through a powerful force known as magic, Man wrenched the Fey from their trees and set the forests aflame, severing their connection to the Fey Queen. Just as easily, Man broke the great hiveminds of Xzzryxy, afflicting the Insectoid race with horrifying curse of individual consciousness. Forming an empire on the ruins of its conquests, the Kingdom of Man expanded, relentlessly pursuing domination over the earth.
Man next set his sights on the Formians, the architects of rock and stone, and they were quick to fall, their castles reduced to rubble. Only the Ipotane, fierce, horse-headed warriors of the plains remained unconquered. Yet Man’s thirst was not slaked. Wave after wave broke over the sword and shield of the brave defenders as the tide of Man swept over the world. For the briefest of moments, it seemed as though Man’s ambition was thwarted, but false hopes birthed by respite were dashed by the full revelation of Man’s malevolence.
Man’s awful magics enslaved the very shadows, bringing form, intellect, and hate to what was once only the absence of light. This new race, the Echthroi, was the culmination of Man’s horrific acts, and they cast down the last of the free races of Ceyenus in a fortnight. Thus triumphant, the unassailable Kingdom of Man stretched through centuries, obliterating the cultures and histories of its conquered peoples. Countless generations were born, toiled, and perished under the yoke of Man.
But even the darkest of nightmares must end. It has been 300 years since the end of the Kingdom. Stories, passed from parent to child, tell of an awesome noise, as though reality itself had been torn asunder, and a brilliant flash of crimson, which echoed across continents. The great capitol of Man, in all its ivory and marble, was laid waste, an island of fire and anguish, surrounded by a great sea of roiling water, which consumed the rest of Man’s Kingdom.
Those that had been enslaved, Fey, Formian, Insectoid, and Ipotane, those who were not consumed in the sudden and unexpected downfall of Man fled. Even the Echthroi, freed from Man’s shackles, fled to the corners of the Earth. Your ancestors, amongst countless others, retreated to the Deep Wood, a dark and foreboding forest that even Man had not conquered. There, amidst the shadows of the trees, they found sanctuary for a time.
Alas, such peace was not to last. Just as Man’s touch had changed the races of Ceyenus, so too had it corrupted the very world in which they lived. Horrid beasts and unknowable terrors drove the refugees deeper into the Wood, shattering families and splintering communities. Some struck out for safer lands, and some simply disappeared, never to be heard from again. Those who stayed congregated in Refuge Villages, isolated encampments whose natural features made them defensible.
It is into this world that you have been born. Three centuries of eking out an existence in the Deep Wood has led to an understand the natural rhythm of the forest; the terrors of the Wood recede with the changing of the season, giving rise to the Passage, and two-week period in which it is possible to move from village to village. As the Passage ends, the horrors of the Wood return, and not even stout steel is enough to protect a traveler lost in the Wood.
With the end of Summer, one such Passage has just begun, and unbeknownst to you, your destiny awaits.