There was a time, long ago, when superstitions were accepted as fact and not dismissed as outdated folk beliefs belonging to dead or dying generations, a time when heraldic beasts were not confined to battle shields now gathering dust behind glass, a time when prophecy was still heeded and mankind feared what lived in the dark.

The Industrial Revolution changed all that, and if magic stood any chance of surviving into the 21st century, then the Second World War appeared to decimate it with large parts of Europe and Russia. The invention and later the realization of the Atomic Bomb brought the world into a new age, and many of the old ways were destroyed or forgotten.

Sewage and pollutants pumped into the oceans drove mermaids, selkies and their kin close to extinction, while continuous deforestation and urbanization contributed to the gradual disappearance of other magical creatures, including the dryad, the unicorn and even the troll. Crematoriums and modern methods of embalming became responsible for a dramatic decrease in ghoulish activity in First World nations and developed countries across the globe.

Then something happened.

Magic fought back.

The End (0 A.E. — 5 A.E.)

The history and detail of what happened next can only be discovered now in the remains of cities and leftover literature and artifacts of another time, because those who witnessed the end of civilization did so in their last moments alive. Survivors who fled were able to tell the tale and pass their stories through generations, though there is no reliable account — only tales of great monsters emerging from the oceans and laying waste to the land.

After the backs of cities had been broken, complex technology reduced to rubble and satellites sent spinning blind into space or crashing into oceans, then many of these great horrors pulled back, rendering themselves only as impression and stories more than a century later. Others stayed. The dragons flew thick and fast in the sky, and gangs of human-like creatures that would be later identified as fairies, or the Aos Si, picked off clusters of humans, and many other magical creatures dominated reclaimed land.

In the wake of the war and the defeat of mundane mankind, civilization lay shattered, and anarchy reigned.

The Second Dark Ages (5 A.E. — 50 A.E.)

The next few decades were, as described by would-be historians, commonly referred to as the Second Dark Ages, in reference to the decline of technology and civilized living, where medieval sensibilities took hold. This was when the first few clusters of people began to congregate together and form settlements, although these were often dispersed by external threats of magical creatures and internal bickering and survival paranoia.

More commonly, people traveled as bandits, in packs or alone, in families or with allies, scavenging off the land, looting from broken cities and fighting each other for food, clothing, supplies of any kind. Violence was rife, as well as a global disconnect — countries were largely deaf and blind to any land that was separated by sea, or by too much space, such as pockets of the United States and Australia, and islands such as the United Kingdom.

As resources depleted, such as canned food, batteries that were still useable, easily obtained fuel and many of the comforts of modern living, so did the savagery. People were forced instead to find sustainable methods of living and work in communities, whether that be as hunter-gatherers or farmers. Settlements developed, as did a new generation of those born only to the new world, with no memory of the old, becoming adults who knew only survival.

It was of this generation that mages began appearing, sporadically, although these is no solid evidence that mages did not exist before the apocalypse — only that they had become an accepted part of the human race in the wake of magic's revenge.

The Phoenix Years (50 A.E. — 134 A.E.)

With the Second Dark Ages defined as the period of time in which those that knew of the world before began to die out towards its end, and a newer generation begun, the next several decades describe a time when humanity was able to adapt to the world and grow within it. The population of the world reduced a staggering amount, the world lacking the tools necessary to calculate the damage, less people meant for isolated pockets of civilization, and ones that became permanent and thrived — a Scottish village called Dornie among them.

The wealth of magical creatures began to decline as well — while some had established themselves firmly, such as the dragons, the kelpies, the brownies, and other such "pests", others had seemingly moved on. There has been no reliable fairy sighting since less than a decade into the Phoenix Years, although there is no lasting belief they were made extinct — only gone somewhere else.

Across the United Kingdom, settlements of establishment saw a developing hierarchy, usually through bloodlines of the rare consistent families who inherited wealth and power in their community, or of agreed alliances through people of no relation but common interest and skillset. Unity between settlements may be on the horizon for a semblance of national politics and governance, but currently, settlements lack the resources, time and inclination for wider politics than their own community beyond smaller wars at the edges of perceived territory.

For all that peace and community has been established in some corners of the world, there are many places where the Second Dark Ages have not completely lifted, and critics might argue that it hasn't gone away at all, and we stand in the calm of a greater storm.