Although the history of the world stretches back an almost incomprehensible amount of time, the recorded history of the Ninth World is only about a thousand years. (This varies from locale to locale, but never much more than that—sometimes much less.)
The written records of those thousand years of history typically relate how humans banded together to form communities based on agriculture, organizing themselves into cohesive groups, albeit often with a rather rigid internal class structure. They struggled against the myriad dangers of the world and discovered how to harness its magic.
But where did these humans come from? What were they doing before about a thousand years ago? No one knows. There are speculations, and certainly a great many myths—myths often taken as truth. These include gods from the sky giving birth to humanity, humans arising from deep underground like cicadas, or animals transforming into humans out of necessity.
Although the Ninth World has its historians, most don’t consider the prior worlds to be a part of history (this is less true in Corao and similar eastern lands). The distinction of the Ninth World from the more distant past is an important one to them. That past is mostly unknowable. Still, it puts things in a unique perspective. Ninth Worlders who look at their own history are still humbled by its incredibly short length in comparison to the lifespan of what is clearly a very old Earth.
Over the billion-year span, the earth has been home to at least eight civilizations that have arisen (or arrived) here, flourished and advanced to incredible power, and then either declined or left, never to return. Although we know little about these civilizations, we do know the following:
- At least one was the center of a galactic (or perhaps intergalactic) space-faring empire.
- At least one wielded the power of planetary engineering and stellar lifting
- At least one had the knowledge of the fundamental forces of reality and could alter those forces as they wished. The very laws of physics were theirs to play with, like toys.
- At least one filled the world with invisible, molecule-sized machines called nanites (or nanomachines) that could deconstruct and reconstruct matter and manipulate energy.
- At least one explored the multiverse or other dimensions, parallel universes, and alternate levels of reality.
- At least one of these civilizations were not human.