The history of Ascent is measured by Cycles. Each Cycle ends when Ascent passes through the local asteroid cluster. Cycles are divided into ages that represent major events in history.
The Great Singer
Before history, there was only iron and dust. But something came to our world. We call it the Great Singer, and it changed everything. Through its melodies it sealed the sky and made life. The Radiance was born, a layer world created from a shard taken from our closest star, the Sun. It was a garden of light and warmth and harmony. But light cannot exist without the dark. The universe is balance. Symmetry. And so the layer world called the Desolation also formed into existence, a cold black garden of discord with its own life that cannot thrive in the rays of the Sun.
Between the Radiance and the Desolation, the world shaped into Ascent, our home in the vast emptiness of the Void. Ascent flourished with life. Creatures of light, dark, and everything in-between. It became a place of balance, a melody of the essence of the Great Singer. But the melodies of the Great Singer attracted the attention of other-worldly beings, the Old Gods.
Cycle of Blood
Age of War
The Old Gods claimed Ascent for their own. They used their divine powers to conquer land and sea, enslave creatures of all types, and reap the world of its resources to wage their wars against each other. It mattered not how just or wretched these deities claimed their domains were, for all of them played this game of war. They wielded the creations of the Great Singer like puppets for their grand divine schemes. Ascent became a battleground for these petty deities.
But life would not be dominated by the Old Gods and the songs of the Great Singer would not lightly fall silent. They echoed across the world and through the Void, and in this echo the Aether layer was formed. Aether bonded the other layers together with Ascent and interwove their fates backward and forward through the fabric of space-time. The starlight of the Radiance and Desolation pierced the darkness of the Void and gave mortals the power to fight back against their captors.
Kabr became the first mortal to wield the power of the stars. The human stood against the Old Gods and became a conduit through which the melodies of the Great Singer could he heard. But the Old Gods persisted, hell bent on washing out the melody of the Great Singer once and for all. And so as the vanguard of the free peoples of Ascent, Kabr founded the Keepers of Song, who would never let the power of the Great Singer fall silent.
Age of Song
But the universe is a vast and complex system. As the war of the future was waged, none were aware of the looming destruction that was approaching; a vast cluster of asteroids large and plentiful enough to wipe out everything on Ascent. The Great Singer was weary of war and destruction, and it’s powers waned. With its final song, it tried to protect Ascent from the coming disaster, but the Old Gods banded together to block the Singer, opting instead to let the asteroids wipe out the resistance.
Enraged, Kabr and the Keepers of Song unleashed a devastating campaign against the Old Gods, banishing them from Ascent and liberating their people. But it was too late. Fire began to fall from the heavens and Kabr sacrificed himself to breathe life into the Singer. Together the final song was played and Guardian, a massive moon that shielded Ascent from the asteroids, formed. As the Great Singer died, it added a new verse into its final song that bound its fate with Kabr, ascending the hero into the heavens, forming the first constellation in the night sky.
To this day Kabr protects Ascent from the petty and spiteful Old Gods, and it is said that when Guardian and Kabr align, the melodies of the Great Singer can be heard in the winds.
As Ascent passed through the asteroid cluster, so ended the First Cycle of our world. With the sacrifice of the Great Singer and the first Keeper of the Song, it was named the Cycle of Blood.
Cycle of Stars
Age of Starbinding
With the Old Gods banished, the people of Ascent were left to their own to heal. But the roots of the Old Gods ran deep, and the blood that was split on Ascent was not easily washed away. For millenia the world was divided and as the Keepers of the Song tried to unite the people through the teachings of the Great Singer, kingdoms were forming and waging war on each other.
Every government and state fueled their armies to fight other kingdoms while simultaneously throwing unfathomable resources at research and arcane study to decrypt the secrets of ascension. Overtime there would be many that found these secrets themselves, whether through meditation, sacrifice, cosmological experimentation, or sheer will. Over thousands of years all of those that ascended would fill the night sky with their starlight. They, along with Kabr, formed the nine constellations of the zodiac we see today.
Each constellation became markers for the Ascent calendar and further fueled the magical connection of the layer worlds and physical world. Those born on the days of the constellation would inherit aspects of that ascended entity and often adopt their alignment. As these powers were further explored they allowed new creations and technologies to be made. It was a strange time as kingdoms fell and new nations were born from their ashes.
Age of Elders
But the strangest events were yet to pass. On a mid-summer evening, citizens were amazed and horrified as they looked up at their moon, Guardian. Emerging from the dark side of Guardian was another natural satellite never before seen. Much smaller in size than Guardian and highly non-spherical, this strange asteroid-like moon caused wide-spread panic. It’s origins and purpose were highly debated. Some theorized it was from the asteroid cluster, being picked up by Ascent’s gravitational pull. Others believe it was sent from the Old Gods as a weapon. The only certainty behind this Stranger was that it preceded the arrival of the original Elders.
Impossibly large creatures with scales as hard as steel, wings as large as villages, and weaponized elemental breath, they called themselves Dragons. First contact with the creatures was disastrous and sparked the three-month war. The Dragons were like nothing else on the planet, able to dive behind enemy lines and destroy supplies, weapons, and reinforcements, crippling what little chance mortals had. But the Dragons were not without their own loses. Dragon hunters wouldn’t fight the creatures head on, instead they targeted their hatcheries, slaughtering the young and sabotaging the unborn eggs.
Once the Keepers of the Song were able to make contact with the Elder Dragons, a peace was made. The Dragons knew of the Great Singer, and upon learning that this was a world created in its melodies, the war ceased. It became known that these creatures were intelligent, sentient, and not of this world. They sought reparations for the destruction of their young, for they were the last of their kind and had no means of reproducing. The Dragons were on the verge of extinction, searching for a new home, and the moon Stranger was their vessel through the Void.
But not all of their kin saw eye to eye, and a civil war was sparked, dividing their kind by those that were sympathetic, hostile, and indifferent towards the mortals. As their numbers dwindled, more and more sought exile, hiding away in lairs deep beneath the mountains, oceans, and swamps. They would hoard what starshards, treasure, and technology they could, hoping to use the material goods of the mortals to ascend themselves and find peace and eternal life.
Secretly, the Order of the Elders was formed. Founded by the most ancient of the Dragon kin of all colors, they hid from the gaze of mortals as their younger brethren fought among themselves. Their purpose and intentions are unknown, and their very existence is regarded as a fabricated legend.
Eventually, Ascent would make its second revolution through the asteroid cluster, once again protected by the moon Guardian, which now also shielded Stranger. As harmless meteorites sprinkled the night skies now full of constellations, the Cycle of Stars passed.
The Cycle of Flame
The Great Age
After the Cycle of Stars, magic was blossoming, technology was advancing, and science was on the forefront of exploring the mysteries of the Radiance, Aether, and Desolation. Industry boomed, and the nation of Aerth spread across the oceans, passed the Divide, to the north-west continent of Kalleson. Here they created large cities to fuel the booming industries of magical items and technology. It was an age of greatness, as if the Great Singer itself was being channeled through the actions of the world.
The study of astronomy and cosmology exploded with researchers, adventurers, and investors working together to measure the stars, observe the effects of the layer worlds, and map the night sky and the Void beyond. One of the most popular studies among the nations was that of comets. It was observed that the majority of comets that passed near Ascent had a considerable effect on it’s properties. Some altered the layer worlds, others modified the seasons of the world.
The Aetas periodic comet passed every 87 years, making it the perfect sample for research. When it passed Ascent, it increased the potency of magic considerably. Each pass meant that advances in magic jumped forward, allowing the creation of more powerful artifacts and wildly powerful spells and rituals.
With these advances they created a means to alter the Aetas comet’s path, bringing it closer to Ascent every time, further stacking its potency on magic and the layer worlds associated with it. With power comes corruption, and when Draksor, a common delver of the Desolation, tried to use the Aetas comet to take control of the Radiance, it forced the comet too close to Ascent. Guardian intervened and blocked the comet from striking the planet, cracking the large moon with immense devastation.
Age of Calamity
The impact sent thousands of pieces of debris falling down into the atmosphere, causing the Storm of Fire. The Storm lasted for weeks, the worst was in the middle of the Storm when a quarter-mile wide meteorite plunged into Ascent and wiped out the continent of Aerth, forming the Shattered Isles. It caused a massive tidal wave, leading to the Great Flood the devastated most of the coasts of the world and cut the nations off from each other.
This resulted in years of chaos, decades of rebuilding once great civilizations, harboring fugitives from all around the world, and opening the great nations up to attack from opportunistic factions. The Calamity lasted for over two centuries. Many secrets of the Great Age technology and magic were lost as the the mindset of the world changed from progress to survival. The layer worlds were left untouched during this time, growing in mysterious isolation.
As the nations stabilized, adjusting to the new threats and climate of the world, they soon began to rebuild. Finally, two centuries after the Calamity began, contact was made between nations and treaties and trade followed. The world was a changed place, a shadow of it’s former glory. On the continent old continent of Aestra, the northern nation of Aerth layed in ruin. Only the highest mountain peaks can be seen above the water that covers the once glorious country. Aerth’s neighbor nation and the oldest in the world, Raestor, had become an isolationist society with paranoia and fear branded into the hearts of their leadership.
The mid-lands of Mistera were still inhabited, but changed forever. The Divide, a once tropical and beautiful stretch of land, had been transformed during the Great Flood. It is now called the Grave Shore, a string of island graveyards where only the Starborn Queen and her kin are met with any welcome. The southern island of Solan devolved into an oppressed imperial colony to Raestor.
The Western Common Lands had fared better than their eastern counterparts. Kalleson, the once great industrial colony of Aerth, had diminished into a handful of safe cities among the ruinous lands that were now claimed by dangerous factions. Alterra, the frontier of the West, is now the only beacon of light in an otherwise dark world. At its heart is Melody City, the headquarters of the Keepers of the Song. Alterra was protected from most of the destruction of the Great Flood, at the expense of the Divide and the continent of Aestera. Resentment for this runs deep and is the root cause for many bitter relationships.
Age of Reclamation
The worst was yet to come, as Guardian remained a shattered moon, its massive fragments barely held together by gravity. The Cycle was nearing its end, which meant another pass through the asteroid cluster. And without its protector, the fate of Ascent remains a mystery. With enemies surrounding them and the drive of industry diminished, and the tides of the layer worlds leaking into the material world, the people of the Four Nations of the Common Lands strive to fight on and find a way to survive the looming disaster that approaches as the Cycle of Flame burns out.