Only legends and ruins remain from before the dark ages.
The Vampire Lords
Several thoussand years ago, an empire ruled by vampires rose to power. Eventually overcome by fast breeding humans able to move about with impunity in light or darkness, the empire eventually fell and faded into obscurity, leaving only legends and musty ruins as a marker.
The Dark Ages
Writings from this time are scattered and fragmented, but speak of the rise and fall of great civilizations in the past in an apparently endless cycle. Scattered ruins and mysterious buried cities of various ages and cultures force one to acknowledge this. Many scholars point to the current civiliation in the Thousand Kingdoms being the peak of culture, magic and thinking that the world has ever seen. The Elves and Eladrin meerly shake thier heads at this boast, while the Dragonborn and Tieflings point to thier own ancient war and beg to differ.
In any case, while the ruins in the center of the Kingdom are thoroughly explored, those around the edges and in the unsettled lands south of the Kingdom remain unexplored, and for the most part unknown. Strange writings, and strange magic await those bold enough to venture within.
Rise of the Thousand Kingdoms
Around 900 years ago, the first cities began to band together iinto kingdoms and carve out safe havens in the wilderness. Some began to look with covetous eys toward their neighbors and so began the Warlord Wars. As the mightiest warlords gathered ever larger kingdoms, those as yet unconquered banded together in a loose confederation simply called the Kingdom to oppose them. The Warlords clashed with the Kingdoms and lost one by one. Each was absorbed into the Kingdom as a separate entity, but equal with all of the others. Soon, the remaining warlords bowed to the inevitable and asked for admission in the the Kingdom. Soon, while they only number slightly over 400, they became commonly known as the Kindom of the Thousand Kingdoms, and shorlty aferwards, simply the Thousand Kingdoms.
The Age of Exploration
With the end of the Warlord Wars the Thousand Kingdoms began to explore in earnest. Adventuring compaines were formed and they set out to explore and loot the ruins within the kingdom and explore the surrounding lands. It was a time when exotic goods and new tastes were in great demand throught the land, and the desire to fill this appetite drove the explorers ever on.
Records were broken as a matter of course, and the people delighted in the accounts of these brave men and women. Stages sprang up and travelling shows extolling thier exploits became a principle attraction. It was a golden age, and many are still alive who can point to those times as the good old days.
The Age of Flight
Star metal had been known for ages. And it had been speculated that this strange metal whose look and luster was that of a blue steel held strange magical properties, properties no one had eer been able to unravel until the great mage Androstus the Wise unlocked the secret. Given the right incantation, the metal flew back up to the stars with tremndous force. Unfrotunately for Androstus, his lab (and him with it) was sent upwards at great speed and never seen again.
The secret was rediscovered by his apprentice, Bellarus, who was picking through the remains of the wizards tower. Unravelling the scattered notes tooks the better part of a decade and after more careful work with smaller samples led to the creation of the flying ships, and the world as currenlty known took shape around that. Bellarus and his apprentices control access to the flying metal. It's rarity also contributes to the value of a flying ship.
Enter the Feathered Empire
With the new flying ships, the speed of exploration far outpaced civilization. As the eplorerers pierced the Spine of the World, they moved ever south. Rich, temperate lands spread out before them. To the south, a great swampopened up, and the Feathered Empire was discovered. Initially impressed with the order and apparent harmony of the Empires Lands, there was a t first a great hope the new found Empire would join the Thousand Kingdoms.
The Great War
This hope was shattered when the legions of the EMpire began to march and destroy the settlements south of the Spine. Only the superiority of mobility granted by the airships allowed the Thousand Kingdoms to overcome this threat and force an armistice with the feathered empire that simply declared the contested lands between the two realms as neutral territory, and forbade wach empire form armed conflicts with the other. The Feathered Empire seemed overly eager to accept the terms of surrender, which bothers some to this day.
Peace at all Costs
The Thousand Kingdoms, wearied from the war, seems determined to simply turn a blind eye to the actions of the Feathered Empire. People who are worried about the eagerness of the the Feathered Empire to accept the armistice are called warmogers and met with equal parts derision and malice. Agents for the Kingdoms move in secret and report only to the government. Tension between the two Empires simmiers just below the boiling point, with each government placating the populace of the Thousand Kingdoms as each protests the actions of the other while justifying its own.
Meanwhile, rumors that the Feathered Empire now has flying ships of its own have surfaced. The Feathered EMpire is alos rumored to be scouring the ruins in the neutral zone, searching for something. No one is sure what. This is where the worlds lies now. The date year is 695 AK, and the cracks are starting to show.