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The Severing

"From the window, I saw buildings start to crumble around me. First the university, then others... just one after another after another. There was dust swirling up from the rubble, and it started to coat the window glass. I thought I heard something explode off in the distance, though there was so much noise coming from everywhere around me that I couldn't tell for sure. Then I felt the floor shudder below me, and I knew the observatory was going to collapse too. I tried to cast a spell of flight, but something went wrong; I saw this bright light, and suddenly there was this sharp pain in my head. The window shattered, and then the back wall of the room started to crumble away. I heard someone yelling to jump while I still could, and I did. Only a second after I hit the street below, the observatory collapsed behind me."
—Talyasa Byre, archmage of Kassaan, describing the Severing in Kassaan.

  The first day of 714 YC was the first Great Eclipse in millennia: a perfect alignment of Bluestar, Redstar, Aotra, and its three largest moons. But it was also a day that would change the future of the planet in ways that no one could even begin to anticipate. As the eclipse aligned, observers witnessed the beauty of the moons shrouded in the scarlet halo of Redstar's light, and Redstar alit with the cyan glow of Bluestar behind it. And as the eclipse began to separate, a magical cataclysm wracked the planet.
  To observers, it seemed as if the threads of the Myth that powered everyday life had suddenly snapped. Buildings that had been shaped and built by artifice began to crumble into ruin in the streets, their inhabitants still inside. The trains powered by arcane energy ground to a halt on their tracks. Lights in homes, shops, and streetlamps went out. And places with stronger concentrations of magical energy—arcane universities, temples, artificers' workshops—saw their magic go haywire, their artifacts and tools exploding with uncontrolled power.
  The massive ruin devastated entire cities. Though handfuls of people managed to escape the widespread destruction in major cities, thousands of others died in the wreckage. The volatile magical power made rescue efforts difficult; the stronger the magical footprint of an area, the more dangerous its unhinged magic was. In the past, when natural disasters had wracked Aotra, most nations had deployed mages to assist in the cleanup and rescue efforts. This time, these mages found themselves unable to wield magic effectively after this cataclysm. For some, magic simply would not work; they found themselves completely incapable of casting at all. For others, though they had some ability to harness magic, it was as unstable as the magic that had fallen to pieces at the time of the cataclysm, volatile enough to be dangerous. And for the most unfortunate of mages, attempting to wield magic shattered their minds and destroyed their minds.
  But the immediate disaster was far from the only hardship to come from this terrible event. Overtime, it became apparent how much Aotra had depended on magic, and now, how weakened by this cataclysm was the world. Plants that had been driven to grow in desert ground by powerful druidic magic wilted and died, leaving nations to struggle to provide food for their people. Healers failed to meet the needs of the sickened and injured. And the boundaries between Aotra and the Otherworld began to stretch thin.
  As time went on, it became obvious that the world was not going to regain its connection to the Myth. The cataclysm took on a name, the Severing, as the world reached recognition that that tie had been cut, seemingly indefinitely. Nations did their best to handle the disaster, but with a population that had taken a significant hit because of it, whole regions and entire cities had to be abandoned, so as not to lose survivors to the volatile power still surging within. Over the course of the next few years, Aotra picked up the pieces, rebuilding what could be rebuilt, developing workarounds for the parts of infrastructure that could not be. Slowly, Aotra learned to live in a world in which magic was rare, dangerous, and fraught.
  It has been three years since the Severing.

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