The information in this article is based on the 1990 North American release of Final Fantasy.
Until 400 years ago, the world benefitted from the governance of the four classical elements (Air, Fire, Earth, and Water) by four glowing orbs. Mankind prospered as civilizations were established on each corner of the earth. The people of Onrac lived in massive palaces in the middle of the ocean, scouring the depths with submarines that enabled its crew to survive underwater. A reclusive nation of scientific-minded individuals lived in the forests of Lefein, using the nearby desert to build towers that reached to the heavens, then castles suspended in the heavens, and teleporters to connect the two, all with the usage of the enigmatic Floater Stone. Melmond preferred to develop a simple farming society on the broad, lush plains of the west, while a group of respected sages made a crescent-shaped lake in the east a center of learning. The seamen of the world gathered in Pravoka to trade, while a peculiar race of elves sang and glided through the forests and marshes of the south. The most powerful nation in the world, Coneria was centrally located on a peninsula overlooking the vast inland sea. The people of Coneria believed they were descended from men who had, thousands of years before, destroyed a great evil in the now-ruined nearby temple. It was never clear what the origin of the legends were, however, and over time they became the material of fairy tales.
On one day 400 years ago, all of this changed. A tentacled monster, the Kraken, attacked Onrac and sunk its palaces, forcing a handful of survivors to try to adapt to life on land. A dragon, Tiamat, drove the Lefeinish out of their Sky Caslte and reprogrammed its security systems, which included a virtually indestructible walking tank called WarMech, to defend himself. The Water and Air orbs darkened, causing their natural balance to be upset and causing unpredictable storms and winds across the earth. With sea-based trade at the mercy of the elements, piracy ruled the waves, especially in the great inland sea.
200 years later, the two other orbs went dark. The undead, guided by their leader Lich, took up residence near Melmond as the formerly lush plains turned to rock and marsh, while a powerful eight-armed knight named Kary was seen near Crescent Lake near a giant volcano. With fire on the horizon, the chief sage of Crescent Lake, Lukahn, looked to the sky and foretold the coming of four Light Warriors who would bring light to the orbs.
As the story begins, Coneria is faced with its brilliant but erratic knight, Garland, who kidnaps Princess Sara and heads to the abandoned Temple of Fiends. Shortly thereafter, four children appear outside the city walls of Coneria, each holding a dark orb.