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The Second Halcyon

The Second Halcyon is a a period of time designated by Elves to incorporate the period of Elven hegemony stretching from the end of the War in Heaven until the present day. It is seen as a continuation of The First Halcyon, which occurred eons prior, before the Mandate of Humanity, and is seen as a triumph to the endearing spirit to create a most beautiful and harmonious realm among Rakuen.  
The Hegira
  The Mandate of Humanity ended with the War in Heaven, where favoritism from the gods toward the human race ceased, calling in what is known as the Age of Eclipse, where the entire world suffered as a result of the dramatic changes brought about by the War in Heaven. This moment was also particularly traumatic for Elves, who recently regained their Reverie and ability to reincarnate. During this time, many Elves withdrew to the Feywild and other places of refuge in a great migration known as The Hegira. This time away from Rakuen was largely spent reconnecting with oneself as an Elf and a community, and reconnecting with all they had witnessed in the War in Heaven.   After some time, however, Elves began to make their way out of their refuges and recolonize the world. They found one wracked by terror and disharmony, a sad sorry state, where much of nature had been utterly destroyed, and complex civilization had largely fallen apart. At first attempting to set up a foothold for their communities once more in this desolate landscape, littered by the threat of Pillars of Salt toppling down, or Orcish invasion was a bit disheartening for many, or mauling by Gloom. But eventually, a sense of unity formed: "We can fix this," became the zeitgeist among Elves. And so they attempted to make it be.  
The Ritual of Renewal
  There was one thing that was unmistakable: Rakuen was a fixer-upper. But Rakuen was home for all, and once the Elves gathered together, they knew that they were uniquely equipped for solving the problems that plagued this land. The solution was Elven High Magic, extremely powerful and impactful, and also dangerous, arcane magic uniquely cast by only the most proficient Elven mages, things that could not even be mustered by the most prodigious mages of any other race.   However there was a problem: only the most adept spellcasters of Elvish society could cast Elven High Magic. But because of the discrimination faced by so many millennia, there was none who remembered their High Elven Magic. It was possible some of this could be relearned through Reverie, but this would take hundreds if not thousands of years. If the Elves were serious about this goal of making Rakuen a prosperous world again, they could neither be divided nor be stingy. This plan was all or nothing, and the only way to see it through was absolute cooperation.   Through a lot of diligent planning across multiple continents, deals with the new God of the Weave Custodia, and investigations into a rare and ancient archive of The Creator far into Realmspace, the hints of ancient magic were discovered, and so High Magic was redeveloped. Many tests were conducted, and many lives were lost in the process of relearning this ancient art. But with time, with a single-minded and liberalized conduction only possible through the Elven mind, after hundreds of years, it was made: The Ritual of Renewal.   The Ritual of Renewal was a fantastic spell that was meant to rejuvenate the land of Rakuen, healing it from the terrible scars left behind by the Pillars of Salt and all the terror they called. Calling upon the most skilled Elven mages in all the continents, the massive effort was made, and after all of the sacrifices of the elves to relearn this great feat of the arcane, the task was successful. A wave of arcane energy swept the landscape, high and low, destroying every Pillar of Salt until only the briefest minority remained. All of the Pillars were simply degenerated over the period of a few days from the outside in; creatures within who did not flee found themselves rendered to nothing but raw energy, as if the entire disaster was given back to the Weave itself.  
The Xirasía
  With the largest task of cooperation between individuals across the planet having just been completed, the rediscovery of an ancient form of magic to the unique to the Elven race, and the removal of one of the greatest scars upon the planet, there was a great deal of optimism for the future.   However, another terrible threat was confronting all societies across Rakuen: the Orcish menace. Ever since the end of the War in Heaven, Orcs in particular became one of the most powerful forces Rakuen had ever known. Years of close-minded tribalism and violence toward any that dared resist them effectively bred them to be the dominant race during the harsh times of the Age of Eclipse. They fell into this role easily, conquering large swathes of land, and forming great khanates that spanned every continent. Those that fell under Orcish dominion were enslaved, with no hope for recourse; those on the outskirts of Orcish lands faced the constant threat of raid, and fear of utter annihilations at the hands of the fearsome foes. The destruction of the Pillars of Salt only meant that Orcs were not only the best trained force throughout the realm, but now also the apex predators of society.   Elves took it as a moral imperative to unify with one another and attempt to push back at the Orcish hordes. Great armies were raised to vanquish as many khanate armies and liberate as many free folk as they could.   A soldier of elves was one of the most sacred profession, as it had been since ancient times, because of the great amount of pressure that came with the role. It would take a single elf well over a century just to reach fighting age, and given that Elves would always have a smaller population than Orcs, losing a single soldier would be devastating for a community. So Elven Empires began to systematize their militaries, and make them as advanced as possible. A single Elven soldier had to be as strong as four Orcish soldiers. They were to be equipped with the best armor, given the best training, and have the backing of magic - both Elven, Arcane, and divine - at their back to inspire their way.   And it worked. Slowly but surely, each of the empires of elves slowly expanded beyond their homeland, liberating any and all who needed saving from their enslavement. But it was hard fought, and many lives were lost. It seemed as if anything was gained in a campaign, it was lost elsewhere; lands freed one year were overrun the next, and had to be liberated all over again, in a never ending cycle that was costing to omany lives.   It was magic the Elves turned to once more. A Ritual of the Myriad they gave the name Xirasía. The risks of developing and casting such a powerful spell were great, and yet, so was the loss of life upon all who found themselves at war with the Orcs. The ritual was a success, and the necrophage was unleashed upon the Orcish race. Quickly, Orcish hegemony was laid bare, and began to falter. That time had passed, and the world could breath a sigh of relief.  
  The great victories of the Elves had not gone unnoticed. Communities saved by Elvish armies during the wars with Orcs were always exceptionally grateful and supportive of the Elves that began to colonize their lands. But nobody could imagine just how broad the Elvish political machine could reach. As Orcs began to waiver and retreat to more reclusive spaces of the world to host their wars, Elves began reclaiming and rebuilding the land. Communities of all races were absorbed under the amelioration of the Elven Empires that rose.   Some question the Elvish dominion that began to take hold of the world, first by country, and then by continent. Some say that it was replacing one evil with another. But who could resist such an advanced people, who had magic to sunder evil itself, and to damage an entire race of people? Inevitably, most city-states, clans, and people's bowed down to Elvish hegemony, as The Second Halcyon truly began.   And despite people losing their perceived freedom, now having to bend the knee to Elven emperors who lived in far flung places of the world, it was not without its benefits. The grand armies of Elves now turned their attention inward, rooting out corruption, stopping criminality, and most importantly, rebuilding communities. Cities were erected where none stood before, those cities which had barely been hanging on were reconstructed from the ground up, and people and their cultures were bolstered when just a few decades prior it was believed that all hope might be lost and entire people's would be erased from Rakuen forever. Those that did bend the knee were graciously treated by the Elven Empries of the world.   This conquest of Elves did not have its detractors though. Some nations angrily resisted the Elves, and some still do to this day. However, these nations are littered with their own problems, left outside of the benefits that come from being part of a massive, highly developed, and networked Empire.  
A Game to be Played
  As the Second Halcyon has ambled on, discord has begun to emerge. Empires, even the most irenic of them all, are built on a central premise of expansion. But where does one expand when they reach their borders of their realm? To the next realm, and the next... But when all other realms are of Elvish design, what then?   Such were the games that developed: games of subterfuge, insurgency, and when worst came to worst, all out war between Elvish hegemons. These world wars were disasters, some seeking dominance and supremacy, others seeking expansion, while others simply sought their own defense.   However, despite the conflicts of larger forces of Rakuen, life had reached a certain point of stability. There were setbacks, of course. But on the whole, living within an Elven civilization made for equity, happiness, and gave a sense of optimism even to the most downtrodden in society. There were many horrors still out there: monsters of untold strength, demons and devils of only growing power, the risk of The Rift rising, and rumors that seemed to leak out among the world of something worse.   But The Second Halcyon is all that Rakuen has. Those that believe in it know that this is a fortune, one built on tens of thousands of years of history, and despite all of its various inadequacies, that is not a stability that should not be readily cast aside.

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Cover image: Teller of Tales druid by MariusBota


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