Second Astral Era
Following the discovery of the first forms of Magic, the people were able to survive underground until finally the clouds parted and the skies cleared. Upon returning to the surface, there were those who showed great promise in the use of magic, and often rose to positions of power within their communities. These people would go on to be great leaders, with the people flocking to them. It became the widespread belief that the destruction rained down upon them was caused by the avarice and faithlessness of the kings before them. The only way to prosper would be through devout faith to the gods, and by prayer would they be spared the same fate. It was through these beliefs that the first organized religions were born.
Civilizations reformed, not around kings and queens, but around theocracy, with people filled with a desire to prove themselves worthy to the gods so that they may be spared their wrath. Massive temples and monuments were constructed to prove their faith, and these structures were regularly maintained and adorned with offerings. The arts, such as Goldsmithing were perfected to make better offerings, and to defend these holy sites, weapons of steel were forged and the art of war was mastered.
With the belief and total faith of the people placed in the church, the religious leaders' power and control was absolute. With none to challenge them, they soon grew corrupt. Religions were pitted against one another, leading to bloody and terrifying holy wars, with the people being murdered and hunted. Men and children were drafted into war, people were sold into slavery, and whole cities burned. With none on the home-front to maintain the land, crops withered and died, leaving those who were not fighting to starve.
When the wars finally subsided, those who were considered the victors were wealthy beyond measure, however with such rampant destruction across the land, there was nothing to spend their riches on. Rebuilding was an extreme effort, however, the people believed that if they simply held faith as before, all would return to the way it was. However, after witnessing the hubris of the churches and the people, the gods sought to humble mankind once again. The sun swelled, drying the land and evaporating the seas, draining the life from everything. lush green landscapes were reduced to ash and cinder, and the land choked on dust, the people stricken by a terrible famine. What little remained of the people's faith evaporated along with the rest of the realm, and the people were once again pushed to the brink of survival. The Calamity of Fire had begun.