The Dark Ages
The Dark Ages are characterized by the time between the fall of the Terran Empire and the founding of the Kingdom of Kent. During this time the great migration occurred away from the Terran continent to the Aldan and Cardian continents, and is marked by a tumultuous era of tribalism and Feudalism with loosely defined nation states. This era is traditionally seen as ending with the formation of the Kingdom of Kent as a geo-political entity, but many charge that this is a Kentian-centric way of looking at world history and many other markers have been delineated within the century preceding the formation of Kent. Regardless of the actuals, the current dating system is based on the founding of Kent, so it is the most convenient to use in such arbitrary dating systems.
The Great Migration
Following the aftermath of the Great Schism in the Terran Empire, two major migrations occurred from the Terran continent. The first of which was to the Aldan continent and consisted mostly of individuals who were sympathetic or a part of the Allied Terran Confederacy. As the civil war began to turn against them, many individuals knowing that they would be put to death – or worse – once the war was over fled their homes to cross the ocean to the far away Aldan continent.
The continent had been known to exist for many centuries, but never fully explored and generally viewed as a wild and dangerous uncivilized territory to be colonized once the Terran continent had come under the control of the Empire. The few colonists sent to Aldi reported many barbaric tribes and petty kingdoms that lacked the Terran discipline and technological prowess and were ripe for conquest.
Thus it was that many of the political rebels fled the empire to make a new life at the shores of the Aldan continent. The barbarians of this new land and the settlers had mixed reactions. In some cases the two groups formed a bond of friendship and integrated seamlessly, while in other areas either the Terran settlers or the native barbarians wiped out the other side in a bid for hospitable territory. In most cases, the two groups maintained a friendly relationship, but kept separate.
This migration grew in number until shortly after the Great Schism when the Empire had reunited under Brandon Caddell. Such notable individuals who migrated from Terra to Aldi were Alexander Galbraith, Ace Kent, Nancy Bain, and Septimius Caddell, though many of these individuals migrated separately and never encountered each other in the new world after their migration.
The second great migration came during the last years of the Terran Empire. By this point the first migration had happened nearly three decades prior, and those wishing to flee the now crumbling Terran Empire sought a new territory to inhabit. The Cardian continent was slightly closer than the Aldan continent and better records were kept of its size and population. While the Terran Empire maintained no political connections to any of the tribes that dwelt on the Cardian continent, mercenaries from the continent were occasionally brought into the military.
Rather than engage in a path of conquest in this new continent, most Terrans were content to integrate themselves within local tribes and found small communities in remote locations. Those Terrans journeying to the Cardian continent were in much smaller numbers than those who had fled to Aldi, and were generally accepted in many of the communities they integrated themselves in.
The wars of Terran Succession were of a level of violence unseen in the world since. Weapons and magic of great destruction were spread across the many different political factions of the shattered Empire. Now that the vaults of Terran secrets had been unleashed to the general public, their proliferation and iteration began to happen at an exponential pace as each faction sought to destroy the other completely. These weapons and spells, as well as the mana that was used to power them drained the land of its ability to sustain life. Great forests turned to blasted bad lands over the course of particularly pitched battles, and fields that once bore the nation’s food had turned to inhospitable deserts. Weather patterns became erratic, some areas experiencing torrential downpours of such length and intensity that new lakes and rivers were formed, and settlements sinking in a bog of mud, while other areas experienced droughts lasting many years. Widespread famine and disease struck the populace, and those that did not die in the war often died of starvation or other natural disasters.
By the time the wars of Terran succession had run its course just over a century later, the population had been devastated and efforts to rebuild the Empire seemed futile. There were not enough provisions for the population that remained, and the environment had now entered a vicious cycle of decay that the Empire in all of its technological and magical glory had no solution to. Barbarians encroached further into territory that was once considered Terran, killing and enslaving locals, as well as stealing many of the goods that these individuals needed to survive. Some Terrans even abandoned their settlements to submit to the barbarian tribes in the hopes that they would be able to survive. This was a risky proposition that often ended in the deaths of many of the men, but desperation made the risk attractive.
Slowly the cities emptied and the central government lost control of its territories one by one, either to falling to the barbarians, the land becoming inhospitable to live in, or the local government deciding that they could do more to help their populace survive than the Terran government could. Eventually, even Palamecia had to be abandoned from a lack of food and other necessities. The Terran Empire had died a quiet, ignominious death.
Today much of the land on the Terran continent has recovered, but it is wild and inhospitable with many of the genetic abominations the Terran Empire bred as biological weapons surviving in the ruins of the great Empire. Other parts still remain “dead zones” in which the land is devoid of any life or mana, and spell casting is particularly difficult.
Feudalism and the Birth of the Nation State
Nearly all of the population of the Aldan continent were tribal before the arrival of the Terran migrants. A few of the larger groups had a form of proto-feudalism in which clans served a central chief and offered service of their men and lands in times of need in return for protection from rival tribes. However with the Terran migrants came the concept of the nation – a people united under a single government against all threats to it. These notions of the nation helped pave the way for a feudal society on the Aldan continent, and in only three hundred years tribalism had all but disappeared.
During the rest of the Dark Ages, various countries fought to establish their respective territories and war between two countries was rather common. In the histories of this era, if one were to add up all of the years in which no war was being fought between two countries, one would find that there was less than thirty years of peace. Amongst the various countries four in particular stood out as great powers who would go on to influence the geo-political dynamics of the Aldan continent up to our present day: Kent, Pravoka, Lefein, and Gatrea.