The Zastral Cessation
Since the discovery of the Continent of Zastral by the crew of the Seacrake, stories have returned to the rest of the Empire of a vast and technologically adept civilisation that once existed on the lonely Continent, but which has lain in ruins for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. Little dedicated academic work has so far been carried out to ascertain why exactly such a catastrophic collapse occurred, or indeed, why it appears to have led to an extinction level event of all of the humanoid creatures that once lived there. As a result, the cause of this is calamity is still unknown and for the time being it is simply referred to as ‘The Zastral Cessation’.
The most obvious evidence of the Zastral Cessation is the fact that many of the buildings, particularly the larger, grander, more structurally sound buildings that were erected by the Lost Civilisation of Zastral still survive and many of them, including the Governor's Residence at Port Belliotrix remain in good enough condition to be re-purposed for use in the Imperial Colonies set up on the continent. It is not just some of the buildings that have survived, but also a wealth of material culture indicating a thriving cultural, religious, military and academic life. The Zastral Civilisation was clearly technologically adept, with complex social structures and even a form a hieroglyphic writing that was used in the thousands of clay tablet administrative documents that have been found in surviving buildings, along with monumental carved texts that are found on what were thought to be religious buildings. The generally intact presence of the structural integrity and the interiors of surviving buildings that have been discovered, along with the discovery of the skeletal remains of countless people who appear to have died almost instantaneously indicated that whatever form the Cessation took, it was almost instantaneous in both the time it took to occur and its deadliness. There are macabre tales of skeletons having been discovered still posed in grim shadows of what they were last doing in life, clerks bent over papers, craftsmen at their work benches, mothers feeding babes. What is more, despite the knowledge that Zastral is an incredibly volcanically and tectonically active continent, there is no evidence of an extreme geological event having taken place at the time of the Cessation. Quite the contrary, there is no sign of anything having happened that could have led to such a categorical wiping out of the Zastral Civilisation. The only hint of what might have occurred is that members of the Imperial College of Arcanists who have attended research expeditions to the continent, consistently report being able to sense the residue of an incredibly powerful, though still unidentifiable magical force that especially lingers around the skeletons of the deceased. The best hypothesis at the moment is that either a freak or accidental arcane disaster occurred with such strength that it all but wiped out life on the whole continent.