Heaven has fallen.
The world is broken.
The Throne is empty.
More than a thousand years ago the Former Empires ruled in glory. Wonders beyond imagining littered the nations of that ancient age, even the least of men and women living with the luxury of a Bright Republic oligarch. Hunger, sickness, ignorance, pain… all the blights to which mortal bodies are heir were banished by the marvels of the Former Empires.
The agent of this mercy was the might of theurgy, the terrible High Magic uncovered by restless scholars of the old realms. With the secrets of theurgy at their disposal, sages were able to lay impious hands on the very levers of creation, manipulating cosmic powers far beyond the birthright of mortal humanity. The deep powers of the Creator were at their disposal at last, ready to glorify their kindred and exalt their causes.
And they had many causes. Bereft of material want, the Former Empires found other reasons to struggle. It was no longer enough to have a full belly and healthy children. The newfound might of theurgy would help them bring righteousness to neighboring realms that disputed the wisdom of their ways or the justice of their laws. Evil and corruption would be purged at last, and all the grieving sorrow of their misguided or malevolent neighbors would be healed by the light of their glorious truth.
Of course, every one of the Former Empires had its own truth to uphold. Their people wanted for nothing, but their material wealth simply left them to crave more intangible things. It was not enough that a neighbor was willing to keep the peace; the neighbor had to agree with them, had to submit to their laws and their ideals. And if this submission made their former neighbors into new subjects of their rulers, was it not a fair reward for a valiant pursuit of justice? No one knows how long the wars tore open the nations of the old world. Some say they lasted centuries, others think it was only a few years before the ancient theurges sought to end matters. There would be no more fighting. The theurges would use their arts to ascend to Heaven, and there put their causes before the One. God alone would determine the true way that humanity was to live.
The angels fought desperately to keep back the invading theurges, but they were too few to withstand the human sorceries. A hundred-odd armies marched at the theurges’ sides, great engines and terrible war-beasts grinding the celestial legions before them. Countless mortals perished, but the angels were driven back at last, forced to flee from Heaven and seek refuge in the fires of Hell below.
The triumphant theurges approached the holy heart of Heaven, the Throne of God where the creator of all would answer at last. And yet when the great doors were opened, when the thousand Names were spoken, when the burning wings of angels no longer veiled the sanctum, the Throne stood empty before them. God was not there.
The theurges scattered in confusion and wrath. Some were bitter, and swore that the Creator was never there at all, and that the One was merely a trick of angels. Others wept in terror, crying out that their impiety had led to God’s abandonment of them. Most, however, saw not an emptiness, but a possibility. If God was no longer on the Throne, was there not room for another?
The Last War below did not cease, but it changed. Throughout the Former Empires, theurges and theotechnicians labored to forge new gods, Made Gods, fabricating them from shards of plundered celestial engines and stolen artifacts from the house of God. Unimaginable power was poured into these hollow shells. Holy exemplars of their nations’ ideals were enlisted to embody this force or fuel the golem-gods they created, and in time these Made Gods strode forth.
The destruction they wrought was incalculable. God after god stormed the halls of Heaven, searching for more power in its crumbling engines and broken wonders. They fought each other on earth, churning up nations, and battled each other in Heaven’s gardens, breaking loose shards of the celestial city. As they scavenged the celestial engines, the world began to crack beneath them, the Former Empires splintering into scattered realms that drifted away from each other in the darkness of Uncreated Night. A few reckless Made Gods even attempted to seize the Throne itself, but their sacrilege left only their bones. They were not prepared to usurp the place of God.
There was no last battle. There was no ultimate struggle that marked the end of the Last War. There was only a slow winding-down over centuries as the Made Gods died. Some perished from the perils of Heaven, slain by vengeful angels or destroyed by powers they did not understand. Others were killed in battle, slaughtered by rival Made Gods or undone by the energies of mighty mortal weapons. A few simply became lost, trapped or hidden away in a shard of broken Heaven, far away from their home and their people. The Made Gods are gone.
Now there are only the heritor nations, the crumbled fragments of the Former Empires eking out a meager existence in the far-scattered realms. The wonders of the former age no longer function, and the theurgy that once shook Heaven is now a brittle, capricious art wounded by the very destruction it caused. Kings and commoners alike must live in a world that no longer welcomes them.