Magic is a strange thing in the lands of Arhosa. Once, it would have been considered all of a piece, a single whole of slightly disparate but otherwise homogeneous behaviour. Now, it has broken apart into tens of competing factions, if not hundreds. Now, when one meets a man on the street who says he is a mage, the next question one must ask him is what tenets he follows, and, if he answers wrong, slay him. For that is how the talented of Arhosa greet one another in this day and age: with curses, anger, hatred, and violence.
Arhosa has always been a violent place, a land where might most certainly has made right. But it has also been a land where the violent used their skills in that direction to promote unity, to promote the growth and prospering of riches and wealth. Foremost amongst those was the Llethu, a race of near-giants who, although lacking in the traditional graces of magic, more than made up for their untalented children with brilliant strategists, silver-tongued diplomats, and warriors of unsurpassed skill. But above all, it was their alliance with the Enayinbo that secured for them the means of power, for the Enayinbo are truly gifted in the realm of teleportation and transmutation. Thus were Arhosa's greatest strategists granted access to unbelievable feats of logistics, a capability that they were to abuse time and again as they conquered their empire.
What resulted, after the bloodshed and the dying had time to fade into the distant past, was a flowering of civilization the likes of which had never before been seen upon this dreary continent. Cities all across the land, linked by all-but-free teleportation and run by administrators trained in the most admirable of styles, flourished as never before. And with the free exchange of people and goods came the free exchange of ideas, and no guild took more advantage of that than the wizards, for they wished to delve deep into the secrets of magic, to use their freedom and wealth to find such powers as had never before been dreamed. And in the security of their rich existence, the Llethu gave to them that freedom.
Much to the disappoint of the wizards, who had believed that magic flourished in the world all around them, and could be drawn from it at will, they found that magic was granted by but a single god: Lledrith. To the arcanes, this was the greatest of errors, for the world could simply not work in such a way. Lledrith, passive god that he was, smiled and laughed at the error of his children, but left them to their own petty researches.
What occurred to wizards and priests alike was that in a world where there was one god who could be named and discovered, there were likely more, and so, as the empire of Arhosa flourished, the wisest of the scholars poured over ancient texts, hidden archives, and cast a great many spells, all in search of knowledge. And, eventually, that was what they found, for Lledrith was no solitary creator. Rather, he was not even the greatest of the gods.
At that revelation, the clerics and priests and other assorted believers splintered into various factions, each one holding their own tenants highest. The arcanes laughed at their petty politics, so childish and foolish did it seem. But to a number of the wisest scholars, there had occurred another thought – that if one god was able to grant magics to those who begged for his assistance, perhaps the others were capable of such acts as well.
And so was born in secret dungeons, hidden laboratories, distant towers, and concealed caverns a race amongst the learned, each one seeking a way to propitiate a different god. The first to be approached in this manner was Drancedigaeth, god of death, for to please him simply required the slaying of an appropriate creature, no doubt. What the mages had not counted on was the sheer indifference Drancedigaeth gave to the insignificant mortals who died and filled his realms. Compared to the span of time and space that was his to oversee, the death of a single creature was not even worth a glance.
But eventually, enough sacrificed to him to attract his notice. And when Drancedigaeth noticed, he felt his power increase, for the lands of his kingdom swelled as life, precious life, flowed through the gates of death and was locked away there. And so he began to parcel out minuscule helpings of magic in return, appropriate to the measure of what was granted him. Thus was ritual magic born.
Other gods granted to their worshippers powers befitting their station upon seeing the example that Drancedigaeth had wrought, and thus were born the magics of chronomancy, runecarving, osteomancy and others.
And for years, all of the gods were content with such an arrangement. Until Lledrith felt weakened, and looked again in detail at the world, and realized that what had once been his and his alone was now the plaything of all the gods, but Drancedigaeth most of all. He grew vengeful, and approached his compatriot to ask for recompense, only to be rebuffed by a god already his superior in power. In spite and malice, Lledrith turned the tables about, and invented the realm of the undead. No longer would all souls pass into the kingdom of Drancedigaeth. Some, now, would come to Lledrith. And those that did, why, when they slew the living they would gift those souls to Lledrith once more. The last of the great magics, necromancy, had come into being.
This war amongst the gods soon became a war upon the fields of Arhosa, for Lledrith and Drancedigaeth influenced their clerics and priests one against the other, and from that diplomacy of daggers and lies came outright warfare. Other gods and kingdoms were dragged into the conflict, and soon a land that had once been a great, rich, empire broke apart, a hundred warring kingdoms becoming a thousand, and then ten thousand.
And magic, once a single, beautiful, whole, was now a disparate ruin of factionalism, brutal demands, and internecine conflict. Thus were born the scrolls of Arhosa. Today, they are all but vanished, for although the gods would dearly love each of their powers to be considered foremost, all but a few kingdoms have lost the knowledge, ideas and wisdom buried beneath centuries of hatred, bigotry, and murder.
But that does not stop each of the gods plotting the return of their own power, seeding the knowledge to the best of their abilities amongst those most amenable to their craft. And one day, knowledge long thought lost might burst into the harsh light of day once more.