is the origin of all humanoid races, the founding place of civilization and the "anvil upon which the world was first hammered." Or so they say.
Each of the many kingdoms of Atelier claim some lineage to the First Ones
, who are believed to have been the first of the many races to stand upright and walk out of the forest and into constructed dwellings. Or mountains, if you believe the dwarves. Or caves, if you believe the drow. Or anywhere else if you listen to anyone else.
Though all the kingdoms hold to their own version of history (which invariably places themselves on top of the hierarchy), what is undeniable is the great power left by the First Ones to any who can master the lost arts of their magic and technology. Ruins dot the landscape with buildings made of impossibly strong materials, devices can be discovered in underground laboratories with untold and unintelligible design, and ancient scripts tell of vast magical secrets that even the most studied scholars of the many kingdoms can scarcely begin to uncover.
Whosoever commands the greatest knowledge and inventory of the First Ones' lost civilization commands the most power among the kingdoms of Atelier. Though outright war is uncommon due to the devastating and unpredictable consequences of actually using First Ones' power as weaponry, the kingdoms have little love for each other and small battles and skirmishes often erupt when tensions flare too high. None of the kingdoms count any of the other kingdoms as friends - though they may become temporary allies in order to gang up on a mutual enemy.
Thus, when the great hidden vault beneath the Iron Mountain was discovered and opened with a long-held relic of the Forgen
kingdom, unleashing an ancient foe, they were too busy squabbling amongst themselves to notice the existential danger that threatened them all.