The Great Cataclysm was a major event in the history of the planet Elara.
Elara was the 5th of seven planets in its solar system. Thousands of years ago the 3rd planet in the system deteriorated to the point of exploding. Then, the unthinkable happened. The third, fourth and fifth planets came into alignment. The added gravitation stresses were too much for the third planet to handle, and it exploded. The resulting shockwave shifted the orbit of the fourth planet, pushing it towards Elara.
Several years preceeded the arrival of the fourth planet. These years were dominated by cosmic warning signs, which were misunderstood by the non-scientific and very religious Elarans.
The first of the signs was the arrival of small meteor showers. They were a cause for alarm among the general populace. Some believed it was the Wizard Princes exacting some form of retribution for their downfall. Others believed the gods were angry with them for an undetermined reason. The priests took note, and began to hold assemblies to discuss the matter.
The second sign made itself apparent with the arrival of the larger meteors. Much more damage was done, and there was a general panic. The priests began to preach of repentence. "We have wronged the gods," they said. Though the nobility was also frightened, they believed that the priests were using these events to incite revolts in order for religious factions to take power.
When the shockwave hit, even at its relatively reduced magnitude, the geophysical disturbances caused havoc and devastation. The wave was not strong enough to shift Elara's orbit, or to rip away the atmosphere, but the priests hailed this as a sign of things yet to come. When all was over, this would be termed the Lesser Cataclysm. People started minor revolts against their government leaders, without being incited by the priests. Instead, it was a lack of action on the nobility's part that caused the unrest. Frustrated by their inability to stop the destruction, and positive that it was the priests that were behind the riots, had any outspoken member of a religious faction arrested. They would then be put on trial for treason. These trials only served to cause more dissention between the nobility and the commoners. Major revolts begin and class wars break out. Series of major battles and small skirmishes last for five months. Thousands died.
It all came to an end when the fourth planet arrived. Nothing Elara had seen or yet experienced prepared her people for the massive geological upheaval they now had to endure. Slightly off course for Elara, the fourth planet, named Miranor, was nonetheless close enough to be caught in Elara's gravity. It was enough to halt Miranor's progress and draw it into a Twin orbit with Elara. The cosmic and planetary forces unleashed on Elara caused geological and geophysical chaos. The face of the planet was literally changed. Some land became submerged under oceans. Sea beds rose up out of the water to become dry land. Volcanoes and mountains sprung up everywhere. Nowhere was safe. The millions of beings inhabiting the planet were reduced to mere thousands.
Pockets of Elarans managed to survive, but were scattered all across the globe. "Society" had to be reinvented, and habitations rebuilt. It took hundreds of years for any type of "civilization" to reappear, and even longer for the people to stop warring and fighting for their survival long enough to come together peacefully and start to repopulate the planet.
Cultures and languages that had existed before the Cataclysm needed to mutate and evolve, and became virtually unrecognizable from their previous forms. Elarans "reinvented" themselves, but most importantly, survived.
What really happened...Edit
Pelinor Kyndra, one of the Grey Eight, took on a personal quest to catalog and describe the ancient sky. However, the magical "noise" of his brethren made it difficult to "see" the stars using magical means (similar to light pollution with a telescope). So he packed up his household and moved out to an island in the middle of the Great Sea, where he set up a massive magical "observatory" to look at the heavens and see what magical powers could possibly be drawn from stars and planetary alignments.
In the process he discovered an impending disaster, as the orbit of Miranor was deteriorating, causing it to fall towards Elara which would have resulted in an impact that would have destroyed both worlds. Due to the longevity of the Grey Eight, and being so far removed from the rest of civilization, he was missed during The Cleansing. He continued to make preparations to save the planet, and began drawing from a global energy source...magic. It took tens of thousands of years of preparation, calculations, and the creation of a magical focus, eventually known as the Throne of Zaldron. This chair aided Kyndra in focusing and controling the vast ammounts of Essence needed to accomplish his goal. The final preparations coincided with the infighting of the Wizard Princes, causing the magic of the joKara to weaken sufficiantly for their slave races to rise up and overthow them.
Now his plan was set in motion. Using his gathered magical power (100,000 years plus) and the power created by the alignment of the planets, Kyndra shattered the third planet and created the pieces he needed to save the other two worlds. The explosion precisely shifted Miranor into a fall towards the gravity well of Elara, while large fragments fell towards the Great Sea where Kyndra had built his observatory. These massive fragments struck the planet, pushing the two worlds into an artificial but stable dual orbit. The massive impacts were cushioned by the magic used to draw them towards the world, so that the force was spread across the crust, providing more accurate thrust. As the spell ended, the meteor (now moving far more slowly) crashed onto the mage's island observatory and blasted it out of existence, leaving a chain of impact craters that formed the crescent shaped Moon Isles. The Isles themselves were sparsely populated with plant and animal life, and took thousands of years to recover ecologically from the massive disaster.
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