There was a time long ago that Magic ruled everything in a place called Red Terra…
It swam in the blackened waters and soared through the skies, driving the currents whichever way it pleased. It was the very bones of boulders and gave them their strength; fires fed on the energy that Magic provided it and became stronger with it. Even the golden-white arcs that flashed across the sky would give way to Magic, allowing it to pull it to and fro.
It was a wild, unpredictable thing—like the hungry monsters that stalk the outskirts a town. Just as easily it gave and nourished life, it could snatch it all away at a whim and leave you in ashes. It was something that you never crossed and could never hope to touch with your hands.
That is, until a race known only as the Shadow Casters came to be.
Somehow they were able to tame these feral creatures, forcing them to yield to their will and allow the Shadow Casters to connect with their energy. Soon, these mysterious beings learned how to harness the Ways of Magic and with it, experimented with their newfound world.
They threw up giant mountains that spewed fire beyond the sky; created bodies of water that stretched over the horizon only to chill them with storms of frost they had summoned. Whole masses of land were moved about the globe—a few even cast away. The wind screamed before the lightning's wrath and stripped the ground bare. The bones of dead monsters came alive after obtaining Magic's nourishment only to crumble under the light's pure rays.
Then, as the world started to crumble from their reckless destruction and become engulfed by a suffocating darkness, the Shadow Casters suddenly disappeared.
No one knows what became of them or why they had left—only that a small group of rabbit-like beings were left behind. They too could harness the Ways of Magic as the Shadow Casters did but, upon seeing the chaos around them, they fled to the only place that had been spared—the Sister Moons circling high above. From there they watched the land burn and waited; the bloody-red color of the planet forever burned into their eyes as they gazed.
It was only after many years in solitude that the Ancients saw green slowly beginning to spread across Red Terra. The oceans they remembered as black and boiling with toxins transitioned into an alluring light blue. Believing it was finally safe, they arrived on the planet's surface and began to explore the new world as the Shadow Casters had eons before them. They soon renamed it Blue Terra for its massive, shining oceans.
They did not seek to destroy as their predecessors did though…
Instead the Ancients worked with Magic so they could create life and to nourish it across the lands, for the color of green had touched their hearts like no other. Trees that had once been small and fragile, grew tall and mighty. Flowers of all hues bloomed among the seas of green and animals—things as remarkable to see as the color of grass—were created. Many of them learned to live among their long-eared companions in harmony.
Season after season went by with no threats from the rest of the world. This caused the Ancients to become blissfully blind within their treasured forests. So much even they that they failed to notice that another race had emerged. It was one altogether alien for these beings were tall with pale, naked flesh; their ears short and round. Their legs were long and stretched across the ground. Most strangely of all, they knew nothing of the Ways of Magic much less knew how to control it as the Ancients did.
So emerged the Ground-Striders.
Being the curious creatures they were, the Ground-Striders hid among the Ancients' trees after hearing their voices and seeing lights flashing from the forests and studied them. In turn, the Ancients did nothing for they knew not they had appeared.
The Ground-Striders watched their ceremonies and saw the amazing powers that were relinquished to the Ancients from the Mesh of the World. Jealous fascination in their eyes, the Ground-Striders approached the Ancients, demanding answers.
The small folk were surprised by their appearance but merely replied, "You need to bare your hearts and listen. If you are too mindful and your heart speaks falsely, you will not hear the whispers of Magic and comprehend its true nature."
So the Ground-Striders left to their homes on the plains and in the rocky hills, eager to discover their new powers. They huddled in their huts, stiff with silence, to hear Magic's Whisper and strained their ears to the point that they bled. But they, being cursed with their tempestuous hearts and erratic minds, could not hear the Magic and perceive its Mesh of the World.
Their world began to dim…
Believing they were deceived, they returned to the Ancient's village. "Why do you lie to us?" they shouted in anger. "There is nothing to hear! You have made fools of us all so we may bleed in vain and freeze in the cold nights. Where do your true powers lie? For we too deserve the right to have what you do!"
As frightening as the Ground-Strider's anger was, the Ancients grew more so at the intangible cloud they could sense gathering in the air. "Still your tongues and shield your hearts, pale ones!" the Ancients cried. "You mean to awaken Death to us?"
"Death shall come to you if you do not give us your power!"
Realizing the peril they faced if they did not stem their rage, the Ancients cast the Ground-Striders from their forests and unleashed their wild companions upon them in an attempt to wash them off the face of the world. Fang, talon, hoof, and claw alike became steeped with blood underneath the moons that night…but not all the blood that could be spilt was so.
Many Ground-Striders managed to hide themselves deep within their mountains, throwing off their assailants and fool them into believing their extinction. As the masses of wild creatures turned back and returned to their homes across the planet, the Ground-Striders slowly emerged from their caves.
Then…their rage wholly devoured them; created an ugly desire to rip flesh from bone and to seize what they desired.
"If they will not share power, they do not deserve power!" the Ground-Striders told themselves. "We will take it from them and drive them into the ground as they tried to us this night! We will show them what possessing power truly means."
So they set to work with blood in their eyes and blackness in their hearts. For nine days and eight nights the Ground-Striders fashioned their killing instruments from stones, wood, and minerals they pulled from the earth. They wrapped the hides of dead animals about them for protection as well as to hide their smell from the beasts that would be lingering around the Ancient's forest.
Unbeknownst to them, an eagle had flown overhead on eve the third day. It had seen the Ground Striders in the midst of their evil work and raced to the Ancient's village to warn them. Upon hearing the news, the Ancients gathered to decide their fate: to fight the Ground-Striders and tempt Death or to flee elsewhere into an uncertain future.
By the ninth night, storm clouds had rolled in overhead, leaving Blue Terra as dark as its deepest caves. Under this cover of darkness, the Ground-Striders slunk from their villages and marched for the Ancient's forest, following the light that radiated from its depths.
They reached forest and after seeing no animals there to defend it, charged into it. They soon reached the border that was between the woods themselves and the sanctuary where the Ancients lived.
It was there that the Ground-Striders first found the Ancients.
They stood in a long line. Their hands were raised—just barely visible from their robes—and consumed with an array of different-colored lights; their red eyes glowing as brightly under their cowls as their hands did. A low murmur began from one then carried to another. Soon the forest swelled with the rising and falling of their voices and some of the Ground-Striders became afraid. They threw down their weapons and fled while the rest gave a wild cry and attacked.
Their numbers and simple physical strength were nothing against the Ancient's magic though and they were only flung back. A white light previously invisible to the Ground-Striders had now appeared between the two races and kept their weapons from piercing the casters.
One of the Ancients paused in his chanting and spoke. "We never wanted to harm you, pale ones, but your hate clouded your judgment and now we cannot let you pass. You do not deserve the right to Magic and we will keep it from you. Leave now and calm your hearts."
One of the Ground-Striders, enraged at his enemies and being unable to curb his thirst for revenge, threw his own spear in frustration at the line of Ancients.
There was a sudden bright flash and the spear, now alight with black flames, pierced the barrier, striking an Ancient in his chest. His chant became a gurgled cry. Then he fell silent. The Ancients' chanting stopped abruptly and the barrier dispersed. They stared, horrified, at their fellow mage's bloody body. No Ancient had ever died in such a way before.
The Ground-Strider who had thrown the spear, however, grinned triumphantly and seized another spear from the person standing beside him. He eyed the largest of the Ancients standing in the middle of the line and, with a maniacal laugh, threw the spear at him. The Ancient cried out and moved his hands to defend himself. He too was struck down by the black-lit spear but was able to muster a spell that smote the opening ranks of the Ground-Striders before dying.
Chaos erupted and the two races clashed in open battle for the first time.
The Ancients fought back with their magic, killing many of their enemies but it was in vain. They did not have the heart for blood-shed and battle as the Ground-Striders did and very soon, every one was slain. The Ground-Striders pushed ahead into the forest, taking the jewelry of the dead Ancients as trophies.
When they reached the village, the rest of the Ancients were standing at its center, arms raised and their hands glowing as the others' had while they chanted. Before the Ground-Striders could attack, the ground began to shake violently. The wind that followed after blew as a gale and brought the trees crashing down upon them. While the Ground-Striders ran from the falling timber, the Ancients' chanting grew louder and then, they were all contained within a white, shimmering bubble. They rose up above the trees just as the full Sister Moons appeared from behind the thick storm clouds.
The Ground-Striders could only howl in frustration for they could not reach their enemies. They watched as the Ancients rose higher and higher into the sky until they were just a small black mass against the moons…
Then, they stopped rising.
The Ground-Striders eyes strained against the light of the moons as they stared upwards. There was a gleam from the floating orb and nine ribbons of some unnamable material swirled outwards—it made the Ancients appear so vivid, so intense that the moons behind them paled in comparison. Terror gripped the Ground-Striders once again, believing that the Ancients were about to strike them down.
A multitude of voices descended on their ears, high and clear, and in unison they said: "You deserve not to look upon Mesh of the World and bask in Its wonders or earned the right to live on this planet. Until your greed is either quenched or wholly stopped otherwise, you will continue to suffer by your own hands. We refuse to subject ourselves to you and become part of your devastation."
The ribbons surrounding the Ancients began to wrap around one another and condensed into three small stones of differing colors…
The first gleamed as bright and majestic as the rising sun…
The second glimmered as deeply as the lava that boiled within the earth…
And the third shimmered as gently and cold as the sea…
The Ground-Striders' fear gradually transformed into wonder. The sight of the stones brought a sense of curiosity and the sudden, unexplainable desire to hold them in their hands made them tremble with excitement.
"Until you prove to us that you are worthy of possessing these stones, we shall never tread on this planet again and only watch from on high. Perhaps then, with these stones, you pale beings will be able to recognize the web that ties all of us together and see Magic for what it truly is…"
The stones gleamed one last time in the moonlight before they shot outwards across the planet, each in opposite directions. Sparkles of light trailed behind the stones as they flew out of sight over the horizon.
Then the Ancients disappeared altogether and were never seen again on Blue Terra…