Nearly two centuries ago a cataclysmic explosion of mana (the underlying force behind the magic of the world), caused by mankind's arrogance and an insatiable thirst for a power they could not control, destroyed nearly all of the world. Left almost entirely bereft of life, all that remained was the oldest and most powerful of the wizards of The Turris Sapientiae (The Tower of Knowledge) who survived only because he had been meditating in the sacred wellspring of mana, upon which the tower had been built, at the moment of the disaster. The Old Wizard, known once as Unum Qui Ambulat cum Tempore (The One Who Walks With Time), was a man who delighted in solitude...but after hundreds of years without anyone to speak with, even he was growing weary of life. He had drowned himself in research since the disaster, searching desperately for a way to turn back the clock. Unfortunately, he found none. Countless failures had left him without hope. There was still one joy in the Old Wizard's life, however. A small and tranquil place where he was still able to glimpse fleeting moments of happiness.
When the disaster erupted all those years ago there were others that resided in The Turris Sapientiae that managed to survive. Atop the tower was a pond brimming with piscine life; the only neighbors the Old Wizard had ever allowed. Undeterred by the fall of the world, swimming for eternity within the water of life; several species co-existed peacefully thanks to the harmonious energy of The Turris Sapientiae's sacred mana. By all means the cataclysm should have destroyed them, and it would have, if not for the occurrence of a small miracle. The residual mana that had been building up in the pond for the many centuries since the tower's inception acted as a barrier. Yes, the very same mana that had protected the Old Wizard during their meditation had protected the pond and its inhabitants.
The World Spell
Legend states that one day, while staring at the sky and skimming the surface of the pond with his hand, the Old Wizard hatched an idea. Having given up on returning the world to its former glory, cursing himself at his powerlessness to bring back the ones he loved, the Old Wizard made a decision. He decided he would no longer drown in his memories or cling to the shackles of forlorn hope. Though he might not be able to bring back the world he cherished, he thought, perhaps, that he could create a new one.
Harnessing all the strength and knowledge between himself and The Turris Sapientiae, the Old Wizard combined the sacred mana of the tower with his own to cast a spell of herculean proportions. Under the power of this World Spell, The Turris Sapientiae began to crumble and the Old Wizard's body began falling to ash. With the last of his strength the Old Wizard called to the residents of the pond, "My friends, I have had enough time in this life. It is now time for you to experience your own." Channeling every last drop of mana he could, the entirety of his life force, the Old Wizard cast a spell to trade his life for that of the world and to bestow all the knowledge he had accumulated across his lifetime upon the denizens of that small pond. The pond and the fish that danced happily under its glassy surface had given the Old Wizard the strength to continue on for centuries and now it was time for their friendship to be repaid.
Centuries have passed and the story of the Old Wizard and the Great Pond has long since faded into legend. The story is still told, however, by the descendants of the Great Pond. No longer confined to the water like their great ancestors, the Whiskers now walk amongst the trees and chase the clouds across the sky. Fueled by their innate connection to mana, the Whiskers have created a bustling civilization spanning the continent using their mastery of magic. Most begin learning magic at a young age if they demonstrate a particular aptitude for a school of magic; the most common being the great elemental schools of fire, water, earth, and air. There are some Whiskers who even have the ability to master multiple schools of magic but they are few and far between. Of course, there are also the Pond Keepers who protect the shrine that resides where The Turris Sapientiae is said to have stood tall all those years ago. Whispers even speak of Whiskers who have mastered unique forms of magic...but these claims are so far unsubstantiated.
For better or worse, the Whiskers weren't the only life to come to the continent after the Old Wizard cast his final spell. Many new species of creatures, from dragons to demons, have cropped up over the centuries since the Whiskers were born and life returned to the desolate continent. Some of these creatures are docile and friendly...but many are not. Stories echo of dragons and giant lizards laying waste to Whisker villages outside the protection of the great cities. There have even been rumors of demons roaming around the less hospitable outskirts of the continent. Ancient ruins since long before the World Spell was cast have become dungeons home to all manner of foul creature. Some particularly deplorable Whiskers even try to master the magic used by such abominable foes, while others use materials gathered from their slain enemies to create useful items for their journeys. Many Whiskers rise to the challenges of the continent and become Adventurers; exploring the vast horizons, chasing the promise of treasure or magical artifacts left behind by those that first called the continent their home. Many Adventurers never return, but those that do return with vast riches and power unparalleled. Will you strike out on your own journey, young Whisker? Let's see what story you write in the book of history. Is your name but a sentence? A page? Perhaps, even...a chapter?