The Gods are Dead, and Good Riddance.
Fickle and jealous beasts they were, ripping at the fabric of their own creation. They tormented us, not out of malice, but out of boredom -- for entertainment. We lived in terror of divine sadists and their corporeal servants: twisted abominations the sight of which drove men mad with fear, seething elementals who knew only hate and envy, and laughing devils who captured the minds and bodies of corruptible men.
And so we languished until the Birth of Heroes.
The Birth of Heroes
Some scholars of our tragic history believe Heroes are born of our will, the collective power of tortured mortal consciousness made manifest in flesh. Other scholars believe the goddess Ula blessed Heroes with their gifts in a failed bid to destroy her divine siblings by proxy. Whatever their origin, our Heroes laid waste to the gods and their spawn, severed their ties to this world, and drove them into the Void.
We enjoyed a millennium of peace, the Age of Mortals, but our victory was not to last. In the gods' absence, Axia, the nexus of divine power at the heart of our world, grew cold and dark. Without this fountain of creation, our world began a slow, lingering death.
For a thousand years our Heroes grew used to the worship of lesser men. They founded great kingdoms to serve their greed and conceit, growing ever more gluttonous. They bickered and waged war against one another, sacrificing thousands of lives for incremental gain. Though for all their power, they could not ascend to godhood and were unworthy of rekindling Axia's light.
Consequences of Success
The Veils, barriers between our world and the Outer Realms, faded. Without these wards, we found ourselves battling constant incursions. Ravenous horrors poured forth from Avarium, the realm of demons and devils. Free to torment and enslave mortals without direction from their former masters, these pit-dwellers infiltrated and destroyed entire kingdoms in orgies of greed, lust, and rage. Elementals from Undarum, bitter and jealous former slaves of the gods, waged a campaign of revenge against us, the gods' preferred children. As much as they hated their masters, it seemed they hated us even more. The souls of the dead souls return from the realm of shadow, Caligarum. These souls slither into their rotting, broken bodies, rising from their graves, consumed by primal hunger. Vampires, corrupt creatures of pure desire, command armies of undead warriors, hellbent on consuming the living and ushering in the Age of the Dead.
Wasting and Sacrifice
As Axia's light diminished, practitioners of sorcery found their spells diminished as well. At first a minor nuisance, the efficacy of their spells continued to wane, referred to as "Wasting" among magi. Wasting continued as the heart of the world dimmed until finally panic set in. Mage schools worked feverishly to restore their abilities, and several schools of thought arose on the best solution to the problem. The Magi of Legas Mar college focused of energy transference in an attempt to restore the heart of the world to its former brilliance, but their efforts were unsuccessful until a most unlikely discovery was made. As the story is told, two magi were locked in competition for the affection of the same woman. This led to violence, and murder, as is often the case in these situations. However, the murderer discovered his power greatly restored in the days after the killing. This mage, having discovered a solution to Wasting, turned himself in and explained. Pardoned of the crime, he was giving the honor to be the first sacrifice. Today, those with sorcerous blood are hunted and taken to be slaughtered. By giving their lives, they give the Magi more time to solve the problem of Wasting for good.
Now, the great kingdoms of mortals have fallen into despair, hidden in the shadows of their former glory. Most of the great Hero kings and queens are dead, in exile, or insane. And yet, prophetic whispers of a second Birth of Heroes abound. Heroes who will relight the fire at the heart of the world, close the rifts between realms, cleanse the undead scourge, and lead the mortal races into another glorious age. Perhaps they will ascend to godhood.