During the wards, the younger races developed a device that was powered by the magic of the elder races. Although normally long-lived, the elder races aged quickly and died while they continued to use their incantation magic.
The device was hidden from the elder races. In a desperate attempt to counter it, the elder races performed a mighty ritual, banishing the knowledge of incantation magic from all Erdreja. Only the dark elves were unaffected, shielded as they were by the miles of solid rock between their underground home and the surface. They guarded the knowledge of incantation magic against the time when it would be needed again on the surface of Erdreja.
The banishing of incantation was one of the last, desperate acts of the elder races. the fairy folk had retreated to the unseen court, the dwarves and their kin had fallen back into the far south and only the elves were left to fight the younger races. Kingdom by kingdom, the levies were gradually overrun and pushed eastwards, where they made a final stand. Over a thousand years ago, the younger races defeated the last elven army and the few remaining elven lords took the last of their people into hiding
The wars were finally over and the younger races stood victorious. Cities were built and a great civilisation was created. Tebron, who was the greatest warlord of the younger races, was declared Emperor and ruled from the great city of Tebronia, that bore his name. The empire of the younger races was founded on the day that Tebron first sat upon his imperial throne and the Calendar began anew with the first year AF (After Founding). After Tebron's death the capital was re-named Malkarn and it remained so until its destruction.
the elemental colleges, as guardians of the empire's knowledge, created a great library in the north, built on the ruins of an elven city once renowned for its learning. The city of Norhault grew up around this library, which became the greatest seat of learning in the known world. The library was formally opened one year to the day after Tebron was crowned; the first day of January in the year 1AF. For several centuries the empire prospered, and peace returned to the lands.
Just before 500 AF, a great cataclysm took place. A ritual was being performed in the capital's great ritual circle to bring rain to the drought stricken southern farms. It is still not known how the ritual was disrupted, or by whom, but it seems that the unexpected disturbance released all the magic within the circle.
This uncontrolled power flowed to every other known ritual circle, shattering many and killing hundreds of people. Violent earthquakes rocked the land, mountains were smashed and the capital Malkarn itself was dragged beneath the waves, as the whole of the Imperial Heartlands sank. The waters of the great seas rushed in to separate forever the northern and southern continents. Albion, Cymria, Erin and Western Norsca (now Orkneyjar) became islands as the land around them disappeared and the seas flooded in. Whole communities died, including the emperor, his family and most of the ruling lords of the empire.
The end of the empire began a period of almost six hundred years of war between the remaining nobles, over who would rule the new lands. It soon became apparent that none of them could achieve total victory. The empire was gone forever and instead the Heartlands countries became small independent nations. They were ruled over by lord generals, who warred continuously with each other over the borders of the disputed lands.
The Gathering Treaty
In 1091 AF, the last true battle for the city of Norhault was fought and the lord general of Caledonia took back control. This was also the year of the formation of the grand council, an alliance composed of representative from all the factions, After much discussion amongst the people of the Heartlands, most agreed that they had fought the last war and looked forward to a new age of peace.
During discussions of the grand council, the Gathering Treaty, was drawn up and signed by all the lord generals of the Heartlands. The treaty stated... and still states... that the grand council would discuss disputes between the factions in a civilised manner. Should a dispute not be resolved by diplomacy then, at an annual Gathering, representative forces of the disputing factions would fight a battle under a magical ritual of peace. This ritual would allow combatants to subdue, but not to kill, each other. The victory conditions for these battles would be determined before the combat took place.
In 1095 AF, a brace group of people found and destroyed the Mordred device, that the younger races had created so long ago to hide the knowledge of incantation magic from Erdreja. The courage and dedication of these adventurers allowed incantation to return to the surface of the world.
To this day, the factions of the Heartlands still hold to the principles of the Gathering Treaty. The original document has undergone revision, leaders have come and gone, nations have fallen and new kingdoms have risen from the ashes. Yet still the principles and agreements of peace remain.