It is said that, long ago, our peoples were created from lesser beings. Our creators shaped beasts of land, water, and air. Our creators shaped the plants. Where once we competed violently for the right to survive, now we rise through our thoughts, kindness, and cleverness. Where once our paws and talons could do little more than scratch at the earth, now we fashion the world to suit our needs.
Dizzy with new potential, perhaps we did not watch our creators closely enough. They sent us out into the stars in ships beyond wonder, made of things only their advanced magic could sustain, propelled on sails that drifted on the very wind of the cosmos. This brings us to the focus of our tale.
The creators called this planet 'Promise'. They said that it would be a world for us and us alone, sheltered from the squabbles and wars of the creators, for they were not always a peaceful people. We were placed there, and we built. It was not an easy or quick thing. Many good beings laid their lives down before the planet, our planet, was truly ours. Even now, Promise is full of wild places where no sane being travels easily. But it is ours, and it sustains us.
It was during this time that our creators faded away. Their messages came once a lunar turning, then a year, until they came not at all. Their fate, and that of our star flung brethren, are entirely unknown to us. The altar of the creators still stands, as a place of worship, but our gods do not speak to us. Have they abandoned us? Has some great malady befallen them? We do not know, but we still had some of their wonders to aid us.
The moon was the house of our souls, Raquestia was forged by the creator's wise hands to help us reach the afterlife. We gave it our thanks in the evening, praying that, when our time came, we would find smooth transition to the next state of being. Rarely, some being would be born with the soul of one long past, and speak of the things they performed, and failed to perform. A second chance to fulfill their life's desires. Most are born with souls that are fresh, or at least do not reminisce on past events, instead looking to a new beginning.
Then it happened.
The Shattering is all that anyone calls it. 450 SA, Raquestia was violently rent asunder, and pieces rained down from the heavens. A few places were lucky, with only small fragments impacting in the fields and mountains, but other places fared much worse, the ground torn asunder, lives lost from the moon falling from the heavens. The seas roiled and tossed, rising up and swallowing coastal communities, leaving wreckage in their wake. Raquestia is now a white streak across the sky, a crescent of slowly turning rocks that glitter from the sunlight.
Many hoped that the worst had passed, but it did not. There was something within the moon rocks. Something strange. Out of the corner of one's eye, one could see humanoid shapes, things of shadowstuff. At first, many thought it was just unease and paranoia. But soon, the worst happened. Children were born devoid of soul, with blank eyes and listless motions. They were... empty. And then the shadow-things struck, filling the emptiness within these young souls, inhabiting them.
These children, if left to grow on their own, became terrifying things, bearing horrific powers. The mages and clerics united, and developed the soul gems - gemstones which could be placed onto an "empty child", copied from the spirit of its parents. This gemstone acted as a surrogate soul for the child, allowing the child to be protected from possession by the Shadows.
Fortunately, an unexpected benefit came from the soul gems - memories. Some children would have echoes of their parents - or of previous people who were born and raised with the gems. And with these memories came knowledge.
Our great nations have been battered. Fertile land turned foul and safe roads beset by beasts. Our beloved Promise has become tarnished, but rust can be removed with work and determination. I, royal scholar Mione, Small Folk of the nation Sweetwater, write this in the year 472 since our arrival.
Though we are under siege, I look outside my window to see our brave people. The school bell rings clearly, and the merchants call out their sales. I see old and young citizens in our fair city of Firmament, moving safely through the streets. Our army is loyal and brave, and the Good King watches over us benevolently with the aid of the People's Council.
A new guild has thrown open its doors. They call themselves the Free Swords. They seek out and recruit the soulless, and show them how to use their gifts for the benefit of the nation. Their gemcrafters work to create new soul gems, and their scholars identify and study the magic endlessly.
If you are wearing a pendant of souls, you would do well to enlist with them. They will support you, and give purpose. A soulless can, in a matter of weeks, become experts of fields they knew nothing of, provided the right gemstone. They are also resistant to the malaise that surrounds our shadowy enemies. Though I do feel it a terrible tragedy that any being would have to be born without a soul of their own, these are now our best chance to put right what was wrong.
Update(October 21st, 2012)
We have heard the word of the Creators, and we have been found lacking. They sent word before the moon's destruction, and we had forsaken them. Only after disaster after disaster did we use the divine machines to hear them, and by then, their instructions were too late. The moon's destruction may very well have been the wrath of the Creators for our folly.
The king has sired twin daughters, one normal, one empty. Perhaps inspired with empathy with a kin afflicted, the term soulless is falling out of favor. Theories are put forward that the so called soulless may have more soul and sensitivity than any other, which is what causes their strange abilities and problems.
The shadow seem fractured, with one faction allowing peaceful contact, just one, with our people. They speak of dark and terrible things, but do not curse us, and allowed our royal visitor a peaceful audience. We do not forget civility, even as the world falls to barbarism.
Our neighbors, Cliffside, respark the ancient friction between us, and war begins anew even as we wrestle with the shadow in our border. They deny the existance of the shadow as any credible threat, refuse to assist, and seek to take our land while we are weakened. Creators take them all.