Dispatches from the Warden's Reach is set in the land of Kenduc, a continent in a world in the doldrums with its magic in storm.
Over a century ago, a war fifty years in the making and another fifty in fighting was ended. The Tansit Empire, wielding a weapon that removed magic from existence itself, finally capable, it seemed, of cleansing the land of magic's taint, drove the Hegemonarcaan completely underground. Commencing final operations of clearing and exterminating the rival society within their vast, worldwide system of underground cavern networks carved with their vile magics, the Empire was poised finally to restore the world to its proper order, and bring the unclean populations of the land into the light by the proper methods. Underground supply lines were fortified, and the Eagle's Army went on their righteous mission of cleansing.
The leftover populations, though, saw the future as an awful choice between two equally horrific prospects. On one hand, you could be ruled by religious zealots, completely intolerant of outside religions, peoples, and magical knowledge or ability. On the other, the world could be brought under the cruel control of a chattel slavery society whose only qualification for inferiority is an inability to learn magic. The Goodfolk, as they came to be known, turned to the only weapon that could not be taken from them: their own blood. The ancient religions and customs of the country pooled their resources and unleashed great weapons of blood magic upon their similarly weakened foes, effectively ending the war, but at a nearly total loss to all sides.
A world once steeped in magic and with great cities and institutions came up for air after the war utterly changed. Magic seemed to be gone, ironically completing the vision of the Tansit Empire after their complete destruction through attrition and blood magic. The Hegemonarcaan, having fled into their Mageway with the Eagle's Army on their heels, did not return. The great cities of the world had been almost totally razed, and the few left behind abandoned them to return to the land. The world began again, slowly.
Decades later, the balance (or imbalance) of magic began to shift, swiftly, the other way. Magical creatures began showing up where none had been for anyone’s memory. People began to be born magical, and it swiftly became so commonplace that no one seemed to mind that beings from other planes of existence began to take an increased interest in the lands of Kenduc. Artifacts, buildings, ancient engineering marvels, they all began to work in quick succession, but their wonders would largely go unseen. The span of time bridging the end of the Great War and the present showed a steady, then marked decline in both fertility and longevity. All of the “major races” seem to share the Decline, and all have used the same strategies to mitigate it: mingle, go to the population centers, do not perish in the country alone.
Magic in Kenduc seems to always reach a new fever pitch. Mostly, no one speaks of it.
Magic is a cruel mistress.