2000 years ago
With god-like powers and arrogance, a master sorcerer used thousands of living sacrifices to ignite a font of power known as a Runewell. The raw, unfettered magical energy that flowed from it could twist reality to the whims of anyone who could control it. He gave himself the presumptuous title of “Grand Master of Tecal”.
Using that power, that first Grand Master sank the runewell beneath the bubbling magma of a volcano. In the shadow of that volcano, on an island far from the continent, that Grand Master became the first Emperor of Tecal.
The Grand Master used the power of Tecal to raise armies, to conquer nations and gather followers. He promised them a share of his power for their loyalty. The most the Grand Master ever gave them was the merest taste of it. He led the other sorcerers to believe that they would become gods themselves. Those men and women, cunning and thirsty for power as they were, soon came to realize that they would never be anything more than the emperor’s lackeys.
The mage-emperor quickly lost interest in conquest and world domination, however, and turned his attention to creating a new plane of existence where his powers would be truly limitless.
500 years ago
After conspiring for a thousand years, the mage-emperor’s most trusted servants, finally succeeded in killing him. The empire fell into disarray and fraternal strife; they hadn’t planned for their own success. Tecal still stood, but the steps of their palaces became meandering streams of noble blood.
The rampage stopped when the empire faltered and a famine ravaged the city. The enduring masters, as they called themselves, reached a tenuous accord. They would bind themselves through laws and rites, turn their thirst for dominance outwards to the rest of the world. The empire would stand, prosper, and their ships would raid the continents. Anyone who threatened it would be branded a traitor, tortured and executed.
That is when the ships with the phoenix figureheads began to plague the shores of Golarion, with soldiers strengthened with wondrous, bloodthirsty magic. They brought back wealth, slaves, and glory.
100 years ago
At the height of their power, the ruling sorcerer caste of Tecal was mired in a bloody internecine struggle. Though they didn’t take any territory or build anything lasting, their name was known across the world, and their power was feared and coveted by all who knew it. But, it wasn’t enough.
They fought with one another politically, turning the labyrinthine rules and bureaucracy of their order against one another, with rivals arranging each other’s execution at night for treason against the empire, and sharing a gallows the next morning.
But the only true measure of authority was arcane power — the one who could twist reality to their bidding was the true emperor of Tecal. Driven mad with desperation and greed, a handful of them tried to take control of the source of all power of Tecal; the runewell at the bottom of their volcano’s caldera.
The empire fell the night those foolish arcanists tried to draw more power than they could handle from the runewell. They had called themselves “Grand Master” like the deposed tyrant they had slain, but they didn’t command the arcane like he did. As the power overwhelmed them and the lava rose around them, they had mere seconds to understand their folly. The lava buried them, and their empire, in a matter of minutes.
Since then, the power of Tecal was dormant, but even then it corrupted the island. The corpses of Tecalese citizens roam the ruins of their city. The ghosts of the usurpers, frenzied by the energy that killed them, haunt the depths of the volcano. In the jungles and rivers throughout the island, the animals are uncharacteristically vicious and cruel.
There were survivors of that apocalyptic night; Tecal’s slaves revolted once they understood the masters were robbed of their power. Some of them survived, and managed to find each other. Despite the isolation and corruption of Tecal, there is still a small village in the delta of two rivers, where children are precious and so very, very few.
In the meantime, the world has forgotten the island of Tecal. The maps were rewritten, and history became confused legends, while the useless trinkets and artifacts became dubious knick-knacks. Without Tecal, their purpose and power became mere superstition. Though, if a ship were to wander into that blank part of the redrawn maps, if they sailed through the days of fog and dead winds, they will never be heard of again.