The Chronicles of Erdon
The Barbarian Empire was the culmination of human expansion following The Golden Age of Erdon. The empire arose as humans discovered their own virtues and values apart from the elves, who had been curators of the Golden Age. As humans distinguished themselves from elves, they began to shy away from elven things, which they considered too delicate. They praised things such as honor, integrity, strength, and skill (especially martial); at the same time they all but shunned things such as art, music, poetry, and even magic – since they sought prowess unaided. What they retained of elven culture was preserved in base forms such as sculptures and simple instruments.
As the barbarians worked to better themselves, and their numbers flourished, they naturally expanded into all the land. As their numbers grew, they lost their nobility of character, though not completely: they maintained many core virtues, like honor. Not too long after a new race known as orcs became integrated among them, the Empire began to crumble into a smattering of squabbling territories and city-states; each chieftain trying merely to become more powerful than his neighbors. Soon after came the Dark Ones, washing over the last vestiges of human civilization like a wave of black sand, and plunging the land into a terrible time of darkness.