The Ruins of Old Kharn
The Kaern Project was the last, ditch effort put forth by the leadership of Kharn, former capital of the Ancient Kharnian Empire. The project called for twenty-six “Kaerns” to be built in a perfect circle around the Capital city. Time allowing, another twenty-six or even fifty-two would be built in a larger circle around the city, etc. Each Kaern would allow for as many citizens as possible to enter and go into a form of stasis. It was believed that this would protect the citizens of Kharn from the coming Cataclysm.
However, corruption, funding, and time all conspired against the project. Kaerns were built haphazardly, records were poorly kept, and to this day nobody is quite sure how many were actually built.
Another problem arose in the project. It was found that humans would not be able to survive the projected two hundred years of stasis required to wait out the Cataclysm. It was unilaterally (and secretly) decided that human minds would be transferred into the binds of magically created constructs. Referred to colloquially as “simulacrums” in texts that survived, the Relic population are the survivors of this project.
Each Kaern was given what is was believed would be required to survive two hundred years hence. A full compliment of around three thousand Relics as well as food, equipment, books, and even entire cities that would pop out of the ground.
The problem however, as was implied before, is that nobody remained to re-awaken the Kaerns. Anybody who even remembered they were out there proved unable to find them in the coming years. That is why, over a thousand years later, Kaerns are still awakening. They are badly damaged, the magic protections in them growing stale. And none can be sure how many Kaerns will simply never re-emerge.