The Dragon Arrows
After the departure of the dragons, the high elves sought to inherit the position of governance over the continent of Faerun. However, lacking the might of the Firstborn, the elves were unable to assert control over the kingdoms of dwarves and men, or halt the marauding war bands of orcs and goblins. War erupted between the sentient races as all vied for dominance, and the grandest wonders of the age of dragons were destroyed in the resulting decades of turmoil.
The populations of the young races were devastated, with the elves retreating to their Eastern kingdoms and the dwarves consolidating their remaining power in their Northern holds. The great wars had brought all fledgling empires to the brink of dissolution, but only one was able to reclaim the resulting void.
The brief lifespans of men had seemed to be a tragic affliction— a mere pittance of years compared to the centuries or millennia of the dwarves or elves. However, human fecundity was to be their greatest asset— by the time the other races had barely managed to produce a single new generation, humanity had raised armies anew and seized vast tracts of the Faerun interior. Netheril, a petty kingdom of the rolling central grasslands, became a bustling trade nexus of goods and ideas. The empire flourished as stability reigned and her finest minds could be devoted to the philosophies of science and magic. Scholars had access to specimens from all corners of Faerun, while expeditions plundered the abandoned ruins of dwarves and elves for forgotten mysteries.
The Pax Netheril brought a new age of ease and leisure, the ruling wizard kings were peerless in their might and innovation, with astounding wonders becoming commonplace throughout all levels of society. Unnumbered multitudes of magic and technological advances harnessed vast energies to automate the mundane labors of daily existence, freeing the populace to indulge any whim of interest or desire. Perhaps it was the uncaging of these energies, then, that so utterly eradicated the empire. In the year 997, the Netherese Empire suddenly and inexplicably vanished— the verdant plains scoured into a vast barren desert that quickly swallowed the remains of Netheril’s glittering cities.