THE MOVEMENT OF THE SPHERES
Here’s what the average person knows of the larger motions of the universe at present, if they pay a lick of attention to the news and don't live on a total backwater world.
For the past hundred years, there had been peace, a practical golden age—at least, that’s what the Empire’s propagandists would want you to believe. For five hundred years prior the Eared Empire had spread using their candy-ships and ability to use magic to phase through the previously impenetrable Crystal Spheres protecting worlds into the astral sea beyond, and they had begun to conquer worlds. Usually they did so peacefully, offering trade and technology in exchange for loyalty. Sometimes there was violence, but this was always covered up later, the historians re-writing it to make the Empire seem peaceful.
There were dissidents, of course; the tiny outpost of Traverse Town, a mere asteroid, was a haven for criminal scum seeking a way to avoid the Empire.
A hundred years ago, a second power arrived on the scene—Radiant Garden. The Garden had a vastly different kind of technology, based on charged crystal cores and ships with mithiril hulls. At first, they fought mightily with the Empire, a bloody conflict that even Imperial propagandists could not cover up, but eventually they came to an uneasy peace The Garden spread throughout its own space, conquering much as the Empire had, and eventually the two nations came to an understanding, even trading with each other.
Ten years ago, everything changed.
The Garden had reached a peak of unprecedented prosperity and glory, with their scientist-king, Ansem the Wise, ruling over it all with a gentle hand and wise heart. The truce between the Empire and the Garden had gone from uneasy to truly friendly alliance, thanks to a budding friendship between King Mortimer of the Empire and King Ansem. The Empire under Mortimer’s hand had even begun to slow its colonization efforts.
Then, on one horrific, bloody day, the Garden ceased to exist.
The survivors of the destruction tell it this way: they were uneasy for the whole year before. People had been disappearing at an alarming rate, first criminals, then servants, then many people. Ansem had vowed to find the source of these vanishings, but nothing ever came of it. Then on that day the ground split, the sky darkened, and a huge black dragon’s wings blotted out the sky. From the cracks in the earth poured black shadowy creatures the likes of which had never been seen. They set upon the people of Radiant Garden and tore out their hearts, and grew stronger, while more black beasts poured from the hole in their corpses and those corpses turned to white ash. Far out in the fleet, pilots reported more of the beasts chewing away at the Crystal Sphere, previously thought to be indestructible. Though the military of the Garden fought bravely, they were not enough to stop the Garden from falling into darkness. Eventually, the whole planet shook itself to pieces, whole shards falling into black portals, and the castle which dominated the skyline of the capital city became twisted and misshapen, a mere shell of what it once was—a Hollow Bastion. The corruption spread to the colony worlds, with thousands more dying on that awful day. Ansem the Wise was dead; his heart devoured by the beasts.
Different parties were blamed. Some said it was the Empire, finally eliminating their only true rival; others pointed to the black dragon, it had to have been Maleficent’s doing. Others said that it was divine punishment for hubris. Whatever the cause, the Garden was gone… and then things got worse.
The Heartless plague spread like wildfire. Countless worlds were destroyed, billions died, before roaming Gnomish wizards found protective spells and barriers that could hold the beasts off for a time. King Mortimer vanished, leaving his queen behind; she was discredited when she continued to defend Mortimer’s actions, saying that he had gone in search of a powerful magic to save them all. Now the Empire itself is divided into two factions: Queen Millicent, who believes that Mortimer will return to save them all, and Reagent Percy, who sits on the Eared Throne in Mortimer’s stead, who holds that the King has abandoned his people, and that brutal and swift action is what is needed to end the Heartless threat.
Meanwhile, Traverse Town has become instead simply Traverse, as it was discovered that when a world dies, fragments of it appear in the area, fusing into each other into a strange and twisted city of nonsensical proportions. It is a refugee shantytown free of all laws, where businessmen can operate without the eyes of the Empire upon them… or where heroes can rise to the task of saving us all.
There are rumors that the Enchanted Three--that is, the three Princesses of the Enchanted Dominions, an autonomous colony world affiliated with the Empire—may hold part of the key to saving the world, that they may be three of the fabled Seven Princesses of Purest Heart. But that’s only a legend…
Just as the Keyblade Masters, ancient warriors of a lost order, are surely mere myth. There are no ancient weapons which were held against the Darkness in the past, and they will not appear again. Surely…