Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses II

21 posts / 0 new
Last post
sciborg2
Offline
Last seen: 1 week 13 hours ago
Joined: 2005-07-26 19:14
Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses II

Michel graciously provided a convenient thread for all the old versions of the Great Wheel here:

https://www.planewalker.com/content/reference-work-enumerating-parallel-multiverses

The tagline for brainstorming was this:

Quote:
The idea here is that there are parallel Great Wheels out there, all different than the others. Sigil might be different as well, and perhaps there is no Lady of Pain or perhaps there is another guardian of the city or perhaps She was killed eons ago and Sigil is a smoking wreck.

So, with that, on with the show:

sciborg2
Offline
Last seen: 1 week 13 hours ago
Joined: 2005-07-26 19:14
63. Positively Empyrean (Part

63. Positively Empyrean (Part 1, concerning Sigil)

It would be possible to see in Achilles the Dionysiac strain, a passion for destruction growing out of a hatred for the destructibility of all things; and in Hector, the Apollonian part, the will toward preservation growing out of love for human achievements in their vulnerability.
~Rachel Bespaloff

Sigil,The Lady in Pain, and the Chastised

The moebius loop of Sigil is the greatest planar Metropolis, the city that serves as a Key Stone in the Great Wheel, that Central city that ties together the Sighs of Relief (Outland Primes), the Emanations (Storm, Mineral, Steam, Radiance), the Hungers (Dust, Vacuum, Salt, Ash)...and possibly even the Empyrean (Positive Material Goodness) and the Tenebrous (Negative Material Evil) if the whispers of those now mad loophole seeking Guvners in the care of the Providence's Cabal are true.

The City of Paths, said to be crafted by the Lady in Pain who tamed both Hungers and Emanations, is a metropolis with shining walls casting enervating shadows, a city wherein living nightmares are kept at bay by the ember glow of low burning electrum spheres hanging in the sky.

The Lady is served by the Mephits, mysterious (some might even say blasphemous) entities crafted from Emanations and Hungers both that range from surly to mischievous but never truly malicious or genuinely benevolent. So the body of a Mephit might be composed of holy radiance or necromantic salt yet its personality will always be True Neutral with some possibly leaning toward Chaos or Law.

The Mephits here serve in a similar capacity to the dabus, with the mephit of a particular Hunger or Emanation managing the occurrence of that respective element within Sigil.

Those who displease the Lady in Pain fall under her shadow, wherein they are asked to bear but a sliver of her agony so they might better appreciate the Grace that allows Sigil to exist. These persons make up an exclusive faction, the Chastised. Often referring to themselves as the Disciplined, these now missionaries leave Sigil never to return for it is forbidden to worship the Lady - their new goddess - within the City of Paths. To those who would listen beyond Sigil's walls they say the Lady is the avatar of a deity residing in Topos Hyperuranios ("place beyond heaven"), that realm wherein reside the Platonic Forms & Whiteheadian Eternal Objects. To them She has purposely Fallen into the Grand Imperfection that is the Great Wheel so that we might awaken to the realization that all division - even that between Empyrean and Tenebrous- is illusory. That, they tell us, is Sigil's reason for Being. This messianic nondualism is naturally blasphemy to the celestials who serve the Empyrean, the fiends who serve the Tenebrous, and the varied warring deities who are barred from entering the City of Paths. However the greatest enemies of the Chastised are the Cathars, the Found, who will hound the worshipers of the Lady across the varied planes of existence. That the Cathars are allowed to live in Sigil while those who've supposedly been given revelation of the Lady's divinity are exiled does not make the religion of the Disciplined very popular in planar circles.

The Legal Triumverate, the Doomstayers, and the Guardians of Grace

There are very few Chastised as the Lady rarely interferes with the running of the city's government - most of that falls to the guilds and factions. While Sigil's enaction of peace & justice is overseen by the Harmonium, the Fraternity of Order, and the Sons of Mercy, the advancement of Negentropy (known to some as Syntropy) is overseen by the Doomstayers.

That latter faction also contains within it the Guardians of Grace, a subfaction that always consists of 12 guardian angels - 3 from each Emanation - and 777 proxies of varied deities who identify as facets of Nous. Each proxy has a different set of superpowers gifted to them by their deity. The angels are always those who've serve as daemons for recently deceased individuals - no angel serves for longer than forty years before being replaced. The proxies serve so long as they are physically and mentally capable.

While beyond Sigil the Grace Guard, along with the other Doomstayers, make constant war against the Tenebrous within the city's confines they oversee the tending of the Great Orchard-Garden and the Arboretum within it. Most of Sigil's fruits, vegetables, and medicinal herbs come from the work of this faction. Because so many rank and file Doomstayers are educated in the care of varied flora they also find work beyond faction duties attending the management of plant life throughout Sigil. The Arboretum has four towers, each existing within Sigil but also within one of the four respective Emanations. Thus each tower serves as a home to the three guardian angels from each Emanation currently serving in the Grace Guard.

While it is true that Doomstayers see their conflict against the Tenebrous as a war this does not mean all of them - or even all Grace Guard - do so utilizing violence. Syntropy is better encouraged by the planting of a tree than the swinging of a sword, and so a great many Doomstayers are teachers, healers, druids, and builders. However there are times when one must take up the sword, even while realizing violence often leads to entropy and thus serves the Tenebrous & the Hungers. Because warring against the Devouring Night gives them common cause with the angels serving the Empyrean, the celestials often join the fray especially when fiends are involved.

This well known alliance givens even more status to the faction, and even servants of the Hungers give even lowly namers a wide berth while in Sigil. However those who've been touched by & now serve the Tenebrous directly are not as cautious, and every so often one such heinous individual will actually seek out members of the faction to inflict evil upon. (Once even a proxy of the Grace Guard was tortured then murdered by a now executed Void-Pact arch-warlock.) Whenever such targeted murders occur it strains the usual alliance between the Doomstayers and the Legal Triumverate, for the heroes of the Grace Guard quickly become nearly unstoppable vigilantes flouting the legal machinery of the city.

The Cathars

Given the gods are barred from Sigil but their servants are not, a great deal of administrative & diplomatic work is involved with managing the varied competing faiths. Thankfully the Cathars, who see all deities as equal under the Empyrean, are happy to serve Sigil in that capacity. The Found are an odd bunch, as they are the few genuine servants of the Empyrean whom the angels detest. The reason for this enmity is that this faction preaches that while the Empyrean is the ultimate Truth there is still a place for not only the Hungers but also the Tenebrous. This would be bad enough, but the Cathars also hold that this metaphysical "place" is the very foundation of the natural order. To them the planes - even the Fourfold Emanation - are born of Tenebrous (which they claim contains a Primordial named Rex Mundi) and the Hungers. Only the very pinnacle of the Empyrean, that Aleph which lies beyond even the reach of the angels, is truly Pure though the rest of the plane is sacred ground.

This is of course an almost complete reversal of celestial teachings, but to make matters worse the Cathars also hold that the innermost essence of all beings on the Wheel (arguably save Rex Mundi) including the gods are Fallen and must aspire to the Aleph. Because we fell due to our own forgotten sins Rex Mundi, no matter how cruel, is our just deserved warden. However, the gods are First among the Fallen in that their Divine Spark is a means for fallen beings to have a spiritual relationship with the Great Unknown god that exists beyond even the Aleph. By both rejecting the pleasures of matter & loving the gods, one opens up their meager soul to the majesty of the the Great Unknown across lifetimes until ideally one experiences Blessed Reunion. A god is then close yet far from the Aleph, for the Divine Spark can easily be misinterpreted as proof one is at the apex of Being rather than a sign of the Great Unknown's graciousness. The other beings besides the gods the Cathars see as blinded by their own light are of course the angels.

The Lady in Pain, to the Cathars, is an entity tasked with guardianship of Sigil - no more, no less. That she forbids worship of her person is a sign that worshiping her actually can lead to a greater fallen state as one is not courting the Divine Spark in the way one does by worshiping the gods. For this reason the Chastised, to the Cathars, are committing a grave sin by spreading a false religion that blasphemes against all gods as well as the Great Unknown.

This could all be dismissed as mere insanity but for two anomalies. One is the resistance and occasional immunity the Cathar have to divine, fiendish, & angelic magic that seeks to harm, deceive, or spy on them. The other is the Bois Perilous, a jet black tree that sparsely yields blood red berries which conjured fiends gladly accept as, depending on the task, partial to full payment for their services. It's said the tree is a gift from the mysterious Rex Mundi.

Seekers of the Transcendent Source

For the Cathars each lifetime is an opportunity to redress the sin that resulted in all of us having Fallen from the Greater Unknown. For the Seekers each lifetime is an opportunity to improve our recollection of the One-as-Empyrean, who we as the Many forget we are always a part of. We reincarnate because our Higher Self desires greater refinement in the following of every particular life's drumbeat.

All those lives, of course, together make up the Cadence of the Planes. Thus in testing one's self, in forging one's self, one becomes more aware of self and Self. Synchronicity, dreams, omens and epiphanies converge to aid one in this journey that inevitably leads the Seeker across the Wheel as well as deep within themselves. Ultimately a Seeker comes to the find the truest compass is their own heart, though this sounds much easier than it usually turns out to be - the mortality rate of Seekers is quite high.

Their obsession with journeying both Inward and Outward has allowed the Seekers to share in the responsibilities of both guiding travelers along the Planar Pathways and running the varied Initiation Schools.

Sensation of Many Signs

The One is the Aleph, the Empyrean from which the descend the Four Emanations. Each of Us knows We are not exclusively the One, for We do not contain within our Selves all Platonic Forms and Whiteheadian Eternal Objects nor do We allow for each instance of causality. Yet We are of the One, each of Us, as We are the Many.

Signer-Sensates figure that since we're here as individuals with our own boundaries of experience, we should enjoy the experience of being around others in a reality born of the Fourfold Emanation. The best way to show our appreciation of the circumstance the One put us in is to savor the gift of our existence among others who've received that same graciousness. Thus one should seek out those experiences that make starkly real the reality of Others in relation to our Selves. For some this might mean romancing a single Other, for others it might mean the gladiatorial pits. Some in this faction even say that by gathering so much experience and understanding of others across reincarnations they come to better understand the view of the One for Whom all lives are windows.

This faction handles a variety or community affairs, especially those that involve people having new experiences and intersecting into each Others' lives. Universities, public event coordination, and town halls are examples where Signer-Sensates like to get involved.

Providence's Cabal

As the One-as-Empyrean makes and sustains all the Real through the Fourfold Emanation, all that happens is either ultimately as the One-as-Empyrean fated it to be or at least exists to potentially serve Its Plan. We may not be able to easily ascertain the Meaning of any particular event, but we can be assured that there is a reason for why things happen. We must then ask what Good may come from our own circumstances, so what we might fulfill the Purpose of the One.

The Givers are those who truly believe there is meaning in all things, including suffering, and thus those thankful for their lot should work to fulfill the Purpose which is the redemption of all reality. As such much of the care for the indigent and insane of the City falls to the Cabal, who hope to find meaning and enable others to find meaning in all the pains suffered across the breadth of the Real. Alongside the Sensation of Many Signs, the Doomstayers, and the Guvners the Givers dutifully help run Sigil's universities.

Many of the faction members have a great deal of personal wealth and quite a few are royalty, and so joining the faction served as a balm to the confused guilt of why they should have so much and others so little.

sciborg2
Offline
Last seen: 1 week 13 hours ago
Joined: 2005-07-26 19:14
63. Positively Empyrean (Part

63. Positively Empyrean (Part 2, Concerning the Empyrean and Its Emanation of Radiance)

The Empyrean

"Apocalypse? It is true?"

"What is true of yet to be?"

"I saw angels dancing in a light hotter than the sun! And I saw—I saw something so lovely—for one instant, so lovely—in the white light—"

"The Unnamable Thing of Beauty. I'm sorry you had to see That."

"What? What was it that I saw?"

"I don't know. The angels worship It. It comes and goes as It will...It is elusive. Ignore It. You will be happier."

-Attanasio, A. A.. The Wolf and the Crown (The Perilous Order of Camelot Book 3)

Also called the Source, the Pleroma, and Keter. The manifestation of Goodness as Positive Material. Disagreements abound as to whether the Empyrean is the Body of the One, the plane on which the Ultinmate Power resides, or if the plane "merely" contains the essence of Goodness & Life without being an entity unto itself.

No undead can exist here. Evil entities who are not undead can only exist here if given Angelic Dispensation. Not even the will of the gods can keep said beings from simply disintegrating/dissolving in a process the angels call the Invitation to Sublime. As for the non-undead of other alignments neutral beings can survive if protected by divine (not arcane) magic, though both they as well as Good beings need additional protections as the energetic aspect of this plane is potentially lethal. So far protections outside of Angelic Dispensations are only partially successful, and the same process that engenders angels to arise from the Positive Material affects visitors to some degree both mentally and physically. Expect wings to sprout, a change of mortal flesh to varied energies and elements, great pangs of guilt for past transgressions, and/or a newfound love for all living things. As the Source of divine magic, there are also a variety of living clerical spells making up the fauna of this place that are thankfully more than willing to help visitors that cross their paths. (Necromantic spells that depend on Negative Energy cannot exists here, nor can spells that are tied to Evil such as conjuring of fiends, so none of those are living spells on this plane.)

While not living spells, echoes of the Logos in this place result in random localized effects akin to hearing the spell Holy Word.

The "highest" point of the plane is the Aleph, the "lowest" the Substantiation. The Aleph is argued to be the center of the Empyrean's consciousness, a gateway to the Great Unknown god, the Primum Mobile or all or none of those things. The Substantiation is less controversial as all but the Cathars and a few other heretics acknowledge this is where the Empyrean begins to divide Itself into the Fourfold Emanation. Here pockets of elemental Radiance, Mineral, Lightning, and Mist begin to appear in abundance. Most mortal residents live here as though hazardous it's more manageable than the rest of the plane. Travel beyond the Substantiation is also made difficult by a plane-wide enchantment akin to the Traveler's Way though this can be partially mitigated by Angelic Dispensation.

The highest in all orders of angels dwell here, their flesh forged from this blazing materialization of Truth-Beauty-Love, transcendental entities mysteriously tasked with guardianship of such things as Time, the Cradle of Nascent Souls, and the Transubstantiation of All Matter.

Radiance: Emanation of Glory

For ancient poets like Homer, the Sun was a being of tremendous spiritual significance. The intense beauty of its rising and setting brought forth a dramatic display of the abiding moral and aesthetic harmony driving the cosmos. For ancient philosophers like Plato, the sun was similarly a sign of the highest Good, but its visible light was thought to be only partially responsible for the shower of colors drenching Earth and Sky.

Participating in the sunlit phenomena of the outer world was an inner noumenal light emanating from the eyes. Plato suggested that his inner light flows gently outward through the eyes from a psychic fire kindred to that animating the Sun. It meets and coalesces with the light of the Sun (or at night, with the Moon and other stars) to bring forth the beauty and splendor of the universe. Plato's was a participatory account of our knowledge of Nature wherein soul and world were understood to intermingle in each act of perception.

-Matthew Segall, Physics of the World Soul

The gleam of the unsheathed blade borne by the crusading paladin, the bright glow of the funeral pyre for the hero who died slaying the monster, the rainbow arcing across the sky proclaiming and end to the punishing Flood. All such light is contained within the Radiance, also called Hod or the House of Savitr ("Rouser", "Vivifier"), a plane that represents the Glory of the Empyrean. Thus the Radiance is also the Eureka of the inventor, the priest's sudden realization of a deep message in her scripture, the monk's sudden awareness of the Cadence of the Planes.

Those who enter this plane may find themselves selected for temporary saintliness, golden halos suddenly surrounding their hands and heads. While this effect fades once off the plane it causes a profound shift in personality. Persons suddenly find themselves seeking to become martyrs for some Good cause or another. This doesn't have to mean seeking execution by a mob or tyrant, rather it could mean exhausting one's health and property by seeking to feed as many homeless as possible. For this reason the Cabal of Providence will offer trips to Radiance, hoping that even after the effect fades the memory of such charity will inspire the privileged to join the faction. However while there is a geas-like drive to serve the Good, not everyone so touched acts in a Good manner. An evil blackguard might kidnap and torture the children of a slave owner, for example, to ensure the freeing of the slaves.

The "lower" portion of this plane is natural fire and light, where the Divine descends into the Mundane. The "higher" portion is closer to the Empyrean and that burning light - like an Cosmic Ocean of Suns - is the physical aspect of Knowledge as Divine Truth. Of course for non-divine beings it is difficult to understand the Divine Intellect, as we distill such Singularity into myriad subjects such as Art, Philosophy, and Mathematics. Thus any entity that isn't a god approaching this apex risks going mad along with burning up. However the "middle" of the plane offers the opportunity for enlightenment though this acquiring of knowledge can be quite random. Given that in this place Light *is* Knowledge visitors and natives alike may find themselves suddenly aware of new skills or knowledge held by someone on the Wheel. Some elementalist magic can be helpful in ensuring the knowledge is closer to something that one would find useful but this is never perfect even for gods of Knowledge and Light.

The angels of Radiance are warriors with swords of sharpened light fighting for the glory of the Empyrean, gurus traveling across the Wheel to bring Enlightenment, muses who inspire Art that glorifies the Good.

sciborg2
Offline
Last seen: 1 week 13 hours ago
Joined: 2005-07-26 19:14
63. Positively Empyrean (Part

63. Positively Empyrean (Part 3, Concerning the Emanations of Mist and Lightning)

Mist: Emanation of Mercy

These tears I've cried.
I've cried a thousand oceans.
And if it seems I'm floating
In the darkness

I can't believe that I would keep,
Keep you from flying;
And I would cry a thousand more
If that's what it takes to sail you home...
-Tori Amos, 1000 Oceans

The Emanation of Mist, also known as Chesed and the House of Nesirie, represents the physical aspect of Divine Love in Its acknowledgement of our suffering. This manifestation is experienced as iridescent glowing steam, ranging in temperature from comfortably warm to a gentle coolness. Healing magic ebbs and flows throughout the plane, so visitors and natives can randomly have minor cuts healed or be cured of fiendish plagues. The mental effects of trauma and insanity can be also be temporarily diminished or even sometimes completely eliminated.

All the water here is breathable, so there is no risk of drowning. Evil beings - including undead - can exist here so long as they avoid the "higher" portions of the plane, though they are subjected to vivid daydreams wherein they reimagine events in their lives if someone had comforted them when the suffered cruelty or gently but firmly chastised them when they inflicted it. This results in continually having to stave off confusion. Entities of all alignments experience this while dreaming. Water taken from this plane acts as holy water . No spell using Negative Energy works here, attempts to cast them cause the caster to fall unconscious.

Droplets range in size from the minuscule to gargantuan, with some floating pockets of water holding aquatic civilizations and vast water gardens for Balaena, Zoveri, and varied water-associated celestials. Sometimes these elemental pockets may also hold a particular healing effect within their liquid (this only works on the plane), and planar cartographers work alongside the angels to identify and keep track of the most precious ones. Some of the larger droplets of divine water end up being frozen prisons for varied great evils the angels cannot kill but need to contain.

The "lower" portion of this plane occurs at the Falls, which is the coalescing of Mist into its descent as ordinary Water and Ether. Here one can find the more neutral aquatic races utilizing great magics to stop their cities and civilizations from being swept by the Falls' "downward" current. The "higher" portion of this plane is referred to as the Fog of Thales and Panther's Breath. The roiling mists of this area glows fiercely but smells sweetly, and the healing properties of the plane are even more pronounced. Given the highly energized steam making up the Fog of Thales, the angels here have employed steam engines to produce the Clockwork Angels. These entities as mechanics have no will of their own, yet are powered by the essence of the Emanation and thus act in accordance with the Divine Mercy. This makes them useful replacements to the archangels of this plane, who have noticed that their Angels of Mist who attempt to bring succor to those places deeply ravaged by the fiends end up falling due to doubts about the Purpose of the Empyrean.

Lightning: Emanation of the Life Spark

Eleleth tells Norea that she isn’t just a fallen shadow-creature, but that she has the spirit of truth emanating within her, a fragment of the imperishable light, and is therefore a holy immortal being of the Pleroma. Norea has the mother of wisdom Sophia within her, in the form of Zoe, or Life itself. And this means the Authorities of Darkness despise her in their jealousy. This insight is crucial. I personally believe this insight cuts to be the very heart of Gnosticism in all its permutations. Which is the fact that Knowledge, Enlightenment, or Emancipation isn’t just a state, it’s a process; the process of becoming free, of literally seeing spiritual truth.

Inherent within this notion is the implication that the illusory world of matter, the realm of chaotic shadow-form overseen by the blind demiurge, can still be reconnected or transformed or taken back into the Pleroma, into the infinite, imperishable Light. This is admittedly my own personal interpretation of some pretty hardcore variations of Gnostic cosmogony. But what this suggests to me is that even the demons and dark angels of Samael can still cry out to the Holy Spirit just as Norea does, and ask for their sight to be restored. To no longer be avatars of Samael, blinded as he is blind, but to become more than shadow-soul – to become independent agencies gifted with a fragment of the Pleroma within them by awakening to the reality of pneuma; the divine spark and breath of life. Here at Amid Night Suns I often refer to this luminous pneuma as the Innermost Light, or the Midnight Sun.
-Raj Sisoda, Church of the Ragged

The Emanation of Lightning, also known as Yesod and the House of Vajrasattva, is the manifestation of the Empyrean that gifts the Eletcric Breath of Life to the Wheel. Evil beings & all undead who have no Angelic Dispensation suffer electrical damage so long as they are here, and any being killed in such a manner ends up reincarnated as an infant at the site of a lightning strike somewhere on the Wheel. These rebirths erase the memory of the once evil entity and always occur near some good aligned beings - for example a golden dragon or a village in genuine service to a good deity - that will receive a Revelation (usually while dreaming) to seek out and care for the amnesiac reincarnate. Neutral beings suffer continually low-level shocks that interfere with their movement and concentration. In addition to these effects, the charge continually flowing across the plane can animate non-living entities brought along by visitors. This includes not only items but also cast spells that might become living spells with minds of their own. (Any attempt to cast a spell using Negative Energy results in damage to the caster equivalent to a lightning strike.)

Most of the plane is an ocean of electricity, roiling storms, and vast spaces of ozone charge air. Within the echoes of the Thunder are whispers of Divine Revelation, attempts by the Transcendent Bodhisattvas to communicate with those left behind upon the Wheel, or so the angels claim. More practically, varied angelic machines (thus immune to animation) ranging from clocks to airships are powered by the lightning strikes of this plane, and just as the Angels of Mist are using mechanic angels to expand their ability to offer aid the Angels of Lightning use mechanical celestials to spread life across the Wheel. The angels of this plane believe that engendering life in evolving bodies of matter is the path to redeeming all of the Real, as it allows mundane matter to hold a soul that allows the material body to know the greatness of the Empyrean. Beyond the crafting of machines, the tech-savy celestials here have two sets of blacksmiths. The first is the Storm Devas, who forge weapons known as vajras that can be used by good aligned monks (and sometimes samurai) seeking Enlightenment in Life. The second are the Cyclopean Celestials, who forge rarer intelligent artifacts that allow those deemed worthy by these weapons to gain control of Thunder and Lightning. While these weapons take many forms for whatever reason the Heavenly Cyclops seem to most enjoy making different kinds of war hammers.

The "highest" portion of the plane is a great barrier of churning energy between Lightning and the Empyrean known as the Source Wall, beyond which is said to lie the True Knowledge of Life and Death. The Thunder heard here is said to speak with the singular voice of an entity known as Metratron. The Angels of Lightning often seek its enigmatic advice, for it is said this invisible entity serves as the Voice of the Great Unknown. Floating near the barrier are thousands upon thousands of what seem to have been undead pilgrims now made of fulgurite. Legend holds that the greatest among these beings, a lich known as Skall, somehow gained Angelic Dispensation for himself and his followers to attempt to cross the Source Wall as they sought to know whether there was a True Death that might free them from the Wheel's cycle of birth and death as well as the conflict between the Empyrean and the Tenebrous. This was the result.

The "lower" portion of the plane is known as the Cloud Lands or Subdued Cacophony, where the Divine Lightning & Thunder become mundane electricity, air, and sound. The storms are less intense here as well, allowing djinn and other planars to live in this area in relative comfort.

sciborg2
Offline
Last seen: 1 week 13 hours ago
Joined: 2005-07-26 19:14
63. Positively Empyrean (Part

63. Positively Empyrean (Part 4, concerning Mineral & the Towers)

Mineral: Emanation of Incarnation

"The Gnostic Error is to reject the material world. The material world is the part of Heaven we can touch."

-Grant Morrison, Invisibles

The Emanation of Mineral, also known as Malkuth, Jovar, and the Vault of Pluto, is the physical aspect of Empyrean Incarnation, that which imparts Hyle (Matter) and Morph (Forms) onto the reality of the Wheel. Thus the gemstones and precious metals of this place are our witnessing of the Empyrean's alchemical power which unifies the primordial Chaos-matter with the transcendent Order of the Forms. Another way of looking at this is that for the Empyrean, the mental aspects and physical aspects are unified, and the fact Its architectural thoughts manifest as precious minerals shows us how much care has been put into Creation. (This reference to thoughts & caring should not be taken as a definitive statement on whether the Empyrean is a sentient entity, as even some angels see It as an Ouroboros of Dreamer & Dream Who is Loving but not self-reflexive.)

This plane is a labyrinth illuminated by the inner divinity of its metals and gemstones, with great palaces & fortresses of the celestials seeming to organically grow from the landscape. As this Emanation is, in a sense, the Divine Body considered as a Simple Whole, attempts by any but the angels to remove the divinely charged wealth of the plane are quite temporary - within a matter of days what was taken teleports back. The mundane minerals of the "lowest" portion of the plane are in turn defended by a variety of elemental beings that do not enjoy seeing their home pillaged.

Evil beings & undead who come here risk being ossified, turning into statues made of valued metals and gems. Divine action can delay this but only Angelic Dispensation grants immunity to the effect. Additionally, since the essence of all gems comes from this plane, even mundane gems cannot be used to trap good or neutral souls.

The "lowest" portion of the plane is the Luminous Delve, which descends into a wondrous churning whirlpool of molten lava thick with gemstones. The Delve is where the Divine Emanation becomes both mundane minerals and the mere elemental earth that encases them. The "highest" portion is M'Kraan, a city carved within a continental glowing pink crystal just translucent enough to offer windows to places across space and time. At the apex of the city within M'Kraan is a planar pathway known as the Bridge of al-Sihal, an arc of rosy light that rises into a dark Void. No one who has entered that Void has ever returned.

The Angels of Incarnation are formed from gems and metal though their flesh is soft and warm when not deflecting the weapons of an enemy. Their forges are continually working, creating equipment to gift to the varied heroes across the Wheel who battle against the forces of the Tenebrous and its Hungers. Their second gift to the beleaguered souls across the planes are their mineral-based golems, for the Angels of Mineral have an innate power of golemancy. Their final gift are the crystals of potentiality, fragments of Hyle that are least bound by any particular Form. This crystalized chaos-matter can take the shape of almost anything inorganic (and of comparable size) that their owner wills them into. While the number of uses varies none of these crystals can be used more than five times before shifting back into the Emanation of Mineral.

Because they believe all matter, save perhaps that of the Hungers & Tenebrous, is of the Empyrean they are the most likely to come to blows with the Cathars.

The Towers

Each of the Emanations contains a tower utilized by the angels but neither built nor conjured by their hands. Their own histories say that their great ancestors, now vanished Primordial Celestials, discovered the Towers while wandering in the Emanation that served as their respective wombs.

Among themselves the celestials will refer to the Towers as Pillars of Creation.

The Towers are as follows:

Tower of Storms - A glistening electrically charged blue structure made from some unknown primeval substance projecting out of the iridescent Source Wall, this tower held knowledge that allowed the Angels of Lightning to understanding the ways in which their Emanation confers Life to the Wheel. Once mortals who'd proven themselves were welcomed, but an arch-alchemist named Victor von Frankenstein betrayed the angels by using this knowledge to grant true life to an entity crafted out of multiple corpses. This unfortunate monster lies in suspended animation within the Emanation of Mist, as being neither truly alive nor undead it is unclear to the angels what they should do or what kind of threat such a being might pose to the balance of Creation.

Tower of Lead: This grey tower arises out from the Luminous Delve, and within its walls the Angels of Mineral discovered wondrous forges. There are tools here that can create new relations between Hyle and Morph, thus enabling the Angels of Mineral to create exotic materials never before seen. However such gifts come with a heavy price, those angels who work those Crucibles of Creation vanish upon completion of their work.

Heart of Light: A tower crafted from nothing but blue light, this location floats aimlessly within Radiance. All who enter are healed as their bodies also become formed of light within this place. The Angels of Radiance use this place as a crematorium for the bones of genuine Saints - beings who directly channeled the power of the Empyrean and thus became miracle workers. Why they do this is unclear, as the Angels of this Emanation will not offer any explanations.

Tower of Ice: Just below the Fog of Thales is a tower formed completely of ice. Within it the Angels of Mist delve ever deeper into the healing arts, creating potions, balms, and other healing items to counter the creation of weapons, plagues, and poisons utilized by the fiends. Unlike the barring of mortals from the Tower of Storms, mortal Doomstayers are constantly arriving here to learn more about the medicinal expertise held by the celestials of this plane.

sciborg2
Offline
Last seen: 1 week 13 hours ago
Joined: 2005-07-26 19:14
63. Positively Empyrean (Part

63. Positively Empyrean (Part 5, concerning Angelic Nature and the Primes)

Of the Angels and their works

It wouldn't hurt to light a candle for Jona - We are, all of us, feeling for the worlds that move between the cracks in our senses. Light a candle for your friend. Good hearts push through many boundaries.

Have faith, Christoff. Have faith in something.

-JM McDermott, Never Knew Another

The angels are born adult and whole out of the Positive Upper Planes (Sefirot), with the Angels of the Fourfold Emanation deferring to those who arise from the Empyrean. The flesh of the angels is composed from the substance of their respective planes of origin, thus their very touch is harmful to evil beings. Those native to the Hungers and the Tenebrous are most vulnerable, though their touch naturally inflicts harm upon the angels in turn.

The goals of the angels concern the relationship between the Tenebrous and the Empyrean. To these celestial entities the origin of Everything Known starts with the Aleph and ends at the nadir of the Tenebrous. As such all of the Wheel is seen as either a descent of quality or more optimistically an obfuscation of Divinity. (How angels view this process influences how they treat those not of their kind.)

The angels also debate other questions among themselves, though thankfully the diversity of answers has not led to Holy War in quite a few millennia. Among the questions that concern the angels are:

Is the Empyrean itself the Great Unknown god, or is that deity beyond even the highest celestial plane?

Does the Great Unknown even exist?

Is the Empyrean the apex of all reality, and is it conscious or unconscious?

This then leads to parallel questions regarding the Tenebrous and whether the battle against Evil & Entropy has an ending. Are the angels serving a Great Unknown god who will ultimately triumph over the Darkness, or they protecting a vulnerable eternally sleeping plane from which all that is Good springs? Over centuries or at least millennia, angels who don't fall are likely to end up in a Twilight State where the doubts they have press on their minds. This will lead to the rare not-quite-fallen angel who seeks out revelation from a faction or Initiation School in Sigil.

For those neither Fallen nor in Twlight, angelic work consists of continually pushing back against that which spreads Entropy and/or Evil to the Wheel. For some this involves the spread of magical and technological knowledge, or others it means warring against the fiends, and still for others it means watching over a single mortal life. The most courageous and foolhardy seek to redeem entities born from the Hungers, but hard lessons keep any existing angel from trying to turn any entity that emerged from the Negative Material of the Tenebrous itself.

The Prime Material Planes

Between the Aleph of the Empyrean and the Nadir of the Tenebrous, there exist a variety of realities that mark the spectrum between the Emanations and the Hungers. These are called the Prime Material Planes, with most of them being closer in nature to the Upper Positive (Sefirot) or Lower Negative Planes (Quipploth) respectively.

However, a small number of these Primes are perfectly between the Sefirot and Quipploth. These are called the Outland Primes or the Sighs of Relief for the weight of the Good/Evil alignments doesn't emanate from the elements composing these universes. Most say the Outland Primes represent the perfect inflection point in the descent of the Divine Emanation, before the obfuscation of Divinity gives way to outright Inversion. However there are beings on these Outland Primes called the Rilmani who dare claim that both the Empyrean and the Tenebrous are divergences from the Truth of Neutrality.

The Rilmani serve this Neutral Principle through various clandestine activities, and their natural tendency toward secrecy makes it hard to evaluate whether they have any true influence on the conflict between the Empyrean and the Tenebrous.

Oftentimes Outland Primes will have neighbor Primes that are just slightly touched by Sefirot or Quipploth - these are often akin to the Feywild and Shadowfell found in some alternate Wheels.

sciborg2
Offline
Last seen: 1 week 13 hours ago
Joined: 2005-07-26 19:14
63. Positively Empyrean (Part

63. Positively Empyrean (Part 6, concerning Fiendish Nature, Life after Death, and the Paths)

Of the Fiends and their works

"You're saying that evil is a means to an end, never an end in itself. But what if evil was more than just a label for antisocial behavior? What if evil was a real force working in the world, capable of drawing people to its service?"
-Matt Ruff, Bad Monkeys

Just as the celestials are born from the Emanations and the Empyrean, the fiends emerge wholly from the Hungers and the Tenebrous. Fiends from the Hungers are in both religious awe of, and feel demented envy toward, the fiends born from the Tenebrous. These latter fiends in turn find themselves most often pondering the insatiable darkness that is their place of origin, continually asking themselves and each other as to the exact nature of Evil.

Is there truly a Rex Mundi, or is one (or more) of their number simply using the idea of an Ultimate Evil to manipulate the others? Could one of their ancestors, the Primordial Fiends, have escaped the slaughter? Or is the Tenebrous itself both living and sentient in some way?

Does their war with the angels have an ending?

At times fiends become disillusioned warring for the sake of a Malicious Entropy, retreating into contemplative wandering or just as likely setting up petty tyrannies on the one of the Primes. However it seems The Tenebrous expected such betrayals, and so birthed horrors whose only purpose is hunting down those who abandon Its war effort. Some are punished by the living darkness that is Ztefano, but some are coaxed gently back into the fold by the wise alabaster skinned Verin.

One major difference between themselves and the angels is that fiends continually seek to be conjured by mortals, hoping to find an opportunity to escape their leash and open a tear between the Primes and the Quipploth. Because of this fiends themselves work to make known their second names (rather than their true names) in varied grimoires in the hopes fools will stumble upon these texts.

Another faction of fiends believes the slow corruption of all mortals is key, for this curdles the Divine Spark and allows the soul to be devoured by Tenebrous...or so they claim...

Life after Death

One of the great mysteries is what happens to those who do not become undead when they reach the end of their lives. While reincarnation is known to happen it isn't clear how often this occurs or if it is truly indefinite for those souls that experience it. Past life regression never goes back more than three lives.

Gods welcome petitioners who arrive into their realms, but given these beings have no memories of their mortal lives some hypothesize these are new beings created from the mold of mortal life rather than the souls of the dead.

Many of the factions past and present have been born from Near Death & Post Life Experiences, reports regarding the "true nature of reality" from those who were resurrected or simply brought back from the brink of death. That these reports are contradictory means they give little comfort to the skeptical Prolongers, though the larger factions have more such corroborative experiences along with supportive Gnosis received by varied Initiation Schools.

When fiends end up ensnaring someone's soul they turn the mortal into some kind of spectral undead which they then bring down into the Quipploth to torment.

The Paths

There are no portals between realms of reality, rather the Wheel must be traversed by planar pathways such as Oceanus, the Infinite Staircase, and Tree of Life. Moreover, these journeys are taking place on physical aspects of transcendental Truths, and so it is not sufficient for someone to simply travel. Instead, one must engage in a variety of ritual practices while moving along the pathways.

Certain pathways are open only to those who've undergone a particular kind of initiation, which is why varied schools exist in Sigil to enable access to the necessary Revelation. Most pathways across the Wheel are only accessible under certain conditions, and then only to those carrying the necessary path keys.

Sigil, as the City of Paths, offers access to more Pathways than anywhere else on the Wheel. However no known pathways exist between Sigil and the Empyrean nor the Tenebrous...but if one enters the Asylum and asks the now mad Guvners...

sciborg2
Offline
Last seen: 1 week 13 hours ago
Joined: 2005-07-26 19:14
63. Positively Empyrean (Part

63. Positively Empyrean (Part 7, concerning the Gods)

The Gods

“Nobody died. how can you kill an idea? How can you kill the personification of an action?"

"Then what died? who are you mourning?"

"A point of view.”
― Neil Gaiman, The Wake

How angels explain the gods:

Just as the Sepiroth are Emanations from the One, so to is the Divine Spark. This spark, Nous, can be thought of as an Emanation that holds as much of the One as the Intellect is capable of. Thus Nous is the manifestation of Divine Intellect, created in the Image of the One. That Nous is that Intellect which unifies Hyle & Morph upon the Wheel is what allows Thought to become Will where the gods are concerned, bridging the gap between the Conceptual Universals (Essence) and Actualities (Existence). The domains of a god are the portion of concepts it holds in the Divine Intellect.

What the graybeards say:

While apotheosis is rare, it does occur from time to time, and thus a special few leap like salmon up the descending Emanations. While mortals turned gods revel in their newfound power there usually exists a moment of disappointment upon learning the intellect of the gods is turned upon their spheres of dominion in *this* reality. The gods have little additional knowledge regarding the deeper metaphysical questions, and cannot even be certain petitioners appearing in their realms are truly mortal souls.

One secret the gods might have is a plane that only they (supposedly) have access through the Divine Spark, a Silver Void that like them serves as the manifestation of the One's Intellect within the Wheel. It is here that they come to iron out their disagreements, for wars between pantheons can consume whole primes. Thus it is here that the gods carve out their territories, with certain pantheons taking over an entire Prime Material Plane to shape to their liking. That the peace between the gods has held for billions of years is due to another secret of the Astral - when a power dies their body ends up here. Thus all negotiations are taking place among the corpses of their fellows for this the Graveyard of the Gods.

An excerpt of notes left for a Namer Cathars:

Gods enjoy worship, but exactly what they draw from service is unclear. Some say the gods need at least a single believer or they - as Living Ideas - will perish, while others suggest wherever a god is worshiped is where the deity can better exercise power in accordance with their domains.

Others claim even the gods do not know why they seek out worship, only that it seems to be the natural order of things. Of course these hypotheses are merely conjecture, and the Truth may be something altogether different.

What the Evil Gods teach:

The evil gods tell their followers different things regarding their divine nature. Some say they are the elect of the Tenebrous, made from that Vile Darkness to show that Evil is the Truth of All. Others say the Empyrean is their Father-Mother but is also a tyrant, a jailer, and their actions however seemingly evil are in service of Liberation. Still others will tell you that they are born of a flaw in the Emanations, that the One has a shadowy subconscious that ensures they will always exist in some fashion. And diverting from all the above teachings are the dark gods who will say the Empyrean is nothing but an aberration, the Nadir most distant from the Tenebrous which supports the natural order where gods may do as they please to the lesser entities in creation.

What the Rilmani preach:

Does it truly make sense that the Empyrean, the Blessed Positive, produces gods of undeath & torture? How could the Tenebrous, the Insatiable Darkness, produce gods of mercy, of life? Surely, instead, there is something beyond both the Empyrean and the Tenebrous, something that is responsible for the gods even as it is the Creative Principle behind the perfectly balanced Wheel?

sciborg2
Offline
Last seen: 1 week 13 hours ago
Joined: 2005-07-26 19:14
63. Positively Empyrean (Part

63. Positively Empyrean (Part 8, concerning Emanation and Inversion)

Emanation and Inversion

“Before we had our becoming here, we existed There, men other than now; we were pure souls. Intelligence inbound with the entire of reality, not fenced off, integral to that All. [...] Then it was as if One voice sounded. One word was uttered and from every side an ear attended and received and there was an effective hearing; now we are become a dual thing, no longer that which we were at first, dormant, and in a sense no longer present.”
― Plotinus, The Enneads

As we descend into the generally accepted Nadir of this Wheel, it's a worth a moment to catch our breath and reflect on the fundamental nature of this plane and the disputation it causes between the varied factions and exemplars. This Wheel is (apparently) born of Emanationism, where Divine Perfection flows out and becomes the rest of Creation as the Divine essence diminishes. While there is some disagreement as to the exact nature of this process, most non-Cathars - including the more honest fiends - here agree that the Empyrean is where the flow begins. While it might seem possible that Dust becomes Elemental Earth becomes Mineral, it's much harder to see Ash igniting into Elemental Fire or Salt sublimating into Elemental Water. And it seems impossible that Vacuum would become elemental Air, let alone become the Electric Breath of Life.

Yet what does it mean for the material of the Prime Material Planes to originate from the One yet seem to be Its degradation? How does that which is Divine experience such a loss? Most angels see it less as degradation as obfuscation, the One choosing - for reasons unknown or even inexplicable - to forget or hide its own Divinity. This purposeful forgetfulness or secreting away of the One's divinity is then manifested fully as the Outland Primes. In fact for some of these angels Life, Incarnation, Glory, and Mercy are all just facets of a Divine Simplicity that we - with our weak Intellects - see as divided. We, the Many born of One, are the Observers who create this illusory existence with varied Planes and Powers through our inability to see the Divine Simplicity.

What challenges the faith of these angels is naturally the Tenebrous and the Hungers, for the fiends argue not with metaphysics but with the releasing of exquisite horrors. It becomes difficult to weigh in favor of philosophy when it is pitted against that day when Ma Yuan the Godkiller rose out of the Vaccum to devour whole pantheons. One can conceive of the Empyrean becoming base matter, even of Divine Mist becoming Water & Ether, but it seems the descent continues beyond into the Hungers.

Because the Tenebrous and the Hungers preceded the Angels, all the celestials can offer is mythology. For some Quipploth is an aberration born of some entity choosing to betray the Good and attempt to corrupt the Empyrean. Since Goodness means the giving of Freedom, to them it only makes sense even this greatest of betrayals is possible. Others among the angels claim Quipploth is a naturally occurring reflection, though this is rarely spoken of at present as it suggests the Rilmani claim that all emanates from a Neutral Principle. Such thinking is not currently en vogue in Heaven. An even more unpopular belief among those who see the Empyrean as unconscious is that as Divinity forgets Itself, Its own Freedom can result in Inversion. This is not just forgetfulness but a non-sentient confusion that sees Itself as Other and Anathema.

The introduction of Wheelwalkers to this place has led to the revival of an old belief, that the Tenebrous is from beyond the creation of the One which ends at the Outland Primes. It then reached out toward the Empyrean, an action that then manifested in the form of the Hungers as Inversions of the Fourfold Emanation. To them the Tenebrous is a thoroughly corrupted Wheel that ended up imposing itself upon their reality.

sciborg2
Offline
Last seen: 1 week 13 hours ago
Joined: 2005-07-26 19:14
Vacuum: The Dark and

63. Positively Empyrean (Part 9, concerning the Hungers of Vacuum and Dust)

Vacuum: The Dark and Breadthless Rooms

"There was Everything
Followed by Nothing
A swirling, gaping Maw that swallowed Life-Giving Suns
And then...we cowered in the Night."
-Johnathan Hickman, New Avengers Vol 1: Everything Dies

As the Emanation of Life descends it becomes the atmosphere of worlds, dividing into the mundane elemental forces of Air, Electricity, and Sound. Beyond this whether the Divine further degrades or is met by the Negative Material Evil of the Tenebrous we find the Hunger that seeks to extinguish the Breath which animates all living things.

Vacuum is absence as presence, a hollowed out space-time that continually seeks to murder all that lives. Fields of negative energy churn in this Void giving the plane a chaotic gravity, illumination given by the native demonic star goddesses known as Tzitzimitl. A lesser form of illumination is the glow of well fed fiends, temporarily sated because they have stolen so much of the Electric Breath. Even the plane itself hungers, and even with magical protection to prevent suffocation and damage from the cold one has to beware the slow drain of life force that most magic can only mitigate.

Visitors note that even when the plane seems vast it imparts a sense of claustrophobia, as if there was someone unseen in the dark just moments away from closing their hands around your throat. Even worse are the times when visitors are caught in a labyrinth of folded space & force, for this is when the elemental fiends will engage in the Hunt. For the vampiric fiends of vacuum this ritual act of murder is a declaration of loyalty to the Tenebrous, the fulfillment of their duty to draw out the Spark of Life from all living things.

The "lowest" point of this plane is the Whirling Void, a supermassive black hole that only the archfiends of this plane dare approach. They alone are capable of receiving the gifts of the Tenebrous, eldritch knowledge silently imparted into their minds by an unknown entity that some claim is the former, now fallen Metatron. Whether this is true or not, someone is sending living clots of Negative Material through the black hole which the archfiends use to create new monstrosities. The "highest" point of this plane is referred to as the Void Externa, where the mad elemental hunger becomes a simply hazardous void. A few planar travelers have claimed swirling collections of stars around which worlds revolve can be found in this infinite sliver, but most dismiss this as gossip mongers attempting to "earn" some free ale at their local bar.

Dust: The Ocean of Ruin

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
-Percy Shelley, Ozymandias

Bone white sand under a pitch black sky, moonlight falling from the great draconic skull gazing silently down at the landscape. Whether that skull is the severed head of a dracolich or a manifestation of the plane, it now serves as witness to the countless shattered buildings protruding from the endless desert of Dust. Stare up too long into those empty sockets and you will find yourself itching to break something simply because you can. Perhaps you'll throw a clay pot against a wall, or maybe you'll use insinuation to end your friend's engagement. You might resist, for a time, but when leaving this place you probably didn't even notice the invisible imp now sitting on your shoulder...

The fiends here are patient, consumate planners mirroring the slow erosion of Earth into Dust. They slowly spread themselves out over a particular civilization, slowly bringing more of their kind into the Prime even as they corrupt and deceive more and more mortals toward their cause. Then, when the planes are aligned just right, the fiends open a vortex between that particular Prime world and their home. The Hunger of Dust does the rest, eagerly pulling as much architecture into itself as possible before the vortex collapses. Because there is no air nor source of heat in this place victims who are pulled into this place quickly expire only to arise as some form of undead. (Visitors who took the proper protection should be aware that most magic cannot totally stop the disintegration of materials and bodies in this place.)

The one major weakness the fiends have is their avarice toward gems and precious metals. Mortals have bribed Dust fiends with entire mines in order to turn on their kin and prevent the creation of a Vortex. This does risk a visit from Ztefano but their greed is often so great it overrides their survival instinct.

The "lowest" part of this plane is the Onyx Oasis, an ocean of liquified Negative Material resting between the undulating dunes of the desert. While the oasis offers no respite for a mortal's thirst, the Dark Water can heal wounds suffered by the fiends & the undead. Even those burned by the power of the Empyrean can be made whole in this malefic place. A Night Serpent within the Dark Water named Dendar keeps the peace so that even mortals are safe so long as they rest upon the shore. She enjoys conversing with travelers and is quite charming herself, though she is occasionally absent because an opportunity has arisen for her to consume a Sun on one of the Primes.

The "highest" part of this plane is the Eternal Sandstorm, where the necromantic energies dissipate and the sand takes on many colors in the maelstrom. Within the whirling sand is where the slaver genies known as the Dao have their kingdoms, thus the tamer environment gives way to a new danger.

sciborg2
Offline
Last seen: 1 week 13 hours ago
Joined: 2005-07-26 19:14
63. Positively Empyrean (Part

63. Positively Empyrean (Part 10, concerning the Hungers of Ash and Salt)

Ash: The Forest of Smoking Mirrors

“Is man merely a mistake of God's? Or God merely a mistake of man?”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

The Divine Radiance descends into Elemental Fire, and then through Inversion becomes the remnant of the Flame. A vast land of grey ash with an air of black soot obscuring the Hungry Night, the plane is twin to the desert landscape of Dust.

As Radiance is Divine Glory, so the fiends of Ash seek to blot out that illumination. Thus as the fiends of Dust conspire to draw in the great works of Matter into the disintegrating power of their plane, the fiends of this plane seek to spread the essence of this plane across the Wheel. One of their more recent endeavors is to cover the atmosphere of the world in clouds of volcanic ash, so that vampire & drow kingdoms may emerge from the Underdark and establish their cruel empires.

The cold here seeps into one's bones, as the plane itself seeks out sources of heat to feed upon. Most light is also devoured, though the glow of spectral undead and the magic of the ash fiends offers some illumination. Unlike the other Hungers the fiends of this place go out of their way to make areas of the plane not just livable but outright comfortable for mortal races. As only their Fiendish Dispensation is one of the few enchantments known to completely negate the heat leeching properties of the plane, it is by their power that cities upon the Ash have become planar metropolises. Crafted from compacted ash infused with Negative Energy, the walls of these cities resemble an interweaving of onyx and obsidian. It's easy to get lost on their sprawling streets, leaving you in the company of your myriad reflections. These images in the walls serve as helpful guides, and are quick to offer praise. Their insights into your being can be invasive, but they always seem to have encouraging advice. In fact the fiends also work to encourage vanity and callousness, as the more self-centered the Many are the more they think of their own glory rather than the glorious nature of the One.

In tandem with this encouragement of Pride and Envy the reflective walls can also show images of horrors happening across the planes - sometimes one knows the victims, other times they are strangers. Almost always the suffering can be traced to action or more often inaction of the visitors. The fiends - usually with the help of mortals seeded among the visitors - invariably turn guilt-laden conversations about these witnessed evils toward the failings of the Empyrean, the deities of the Good, and possibly even the Great Unknown. Their purpose here is to diminish the Divine Glory in the eyes of the Many, which they in turn believe gives power to the Tenebrous.

The "highest" point of this plane is the Charred Forest, where the mysterious burnt trees mark the space where the Hunger of the plane gives way to mundane ashes and cinders. Those undead who arise after being burned to death seem find their way here from across the planes. The "lowest" point are the Mines of Benthic Hadal, that place closest to the Tenebrous from which the fiends get the negative infused, compacted ash used to build their cities. Just as the facets of this substance confound mortals in Ashen planar metropolises, in the mines those unnerving properties extend to the fiends themselves. While it's rare for fiends to enter Twilight and even rarer they end up Raised, many of those that do leave the service of the Tenebrous begin that journey in these mines.

Salt: The Crucible of the Parched

“This is the nature of war, whose stake is at once the game and the authority and the justification. Seen so, war is the truest form of divination. It is the testing of one's will and the will of another within that larger will which because it binds them is therefore forced to select. War is the ultimate game because war is at last a forcing of the unity of existence. War is God.”

― the Judge (Satan?) in Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West

Under the jet black sky lie the crystalline plains and pits which make up the Hunger of Salt. Mist, the Divine Emanation of Mercy, becomes Elemental Water and Ether, and these substances in turn fall further from their Emanation until through Inversion they form these pale lands. While there is no heat, the substance of the plane itself gives off a soft but menacing glow. Any contact with the salt of this plane upon naked flesh draws out moisture, though this Hunger is quite patient. The process of dehydration is painful but slow, as for every drop of water drawn out a spiritual infection is given. For some this is an increasing wrath and for others its a deepening callousness, the irritation of the plane's constant needling revealing the hollowness of all that might be worthy of compassion.

While the plane itself is gentle in its commission of murder, the fiends of this place are much more overt in their attempts to eliminate mercy and compassion. Both upon this plane and beyond it they work as torturers of the mind and body, offering the choice to pass on suffering to some innocent. They manipulate nations into war, encourage betrayal to engender the subsequent vengeance, preach the doctrine of might makes right and encourage the belief that suffering is always chosen or deserved. (They are aided in that last lie by those who use reincarnation to support varied systems of supposed "karmic justice".)

The "highest" part of this plane is the Flats, where both the pitch of Night and the glow of the salt fade away. This place where Hunger recedes and leaves mundane salt of varied hues under a grey sky is home to many salt miners from across the Wheel. The "lowest" part is the Churn, a sea of grinding salt crystals. Here the fiends cast the bodies of angels, which are then ground down so that Angels of Salt might arise every hundred years or so. These inverted angels are quite dangerous for they can enter the Emanations (but not the Empyrean) freely and even grant Angelic Dispensation to mortals.

sciborg2
Offline
Last seen: 1 week 13 hours ago
Joined: 2005-07-26 19:14
final placeholder for 63

63. Positively Empyrean (Part 11, concerning the Tenebrous)

The Tenebrous

And the ground will open out into a mouth below us
And the mouth will open out into the empty sky
And the whistle as we hurtle through the halls of onyx
The only sound around us as we go by

And I'll follow you out through the wells of charcoal
Moonlit stones around the cones of a black hole
Through the fields where grow the ever and forever
The tessellated blooms with the voids at their centers
Through the million rooms in a bead of luminescence
The filaments on the looms of dimension

The pillars of creation where they make the planets
The billion tiny teeth that tear the charge from your atoms
In a trillion tiny bites they'll eat the meat from the pearl
And throw your soul away a cold gray little world

And nothing that is hidden will be revealed

-Josh Ritter, The Remnant

The ultimate nadir of the Wheel, the Crown of Quipploth, known to an ancient race of banishers now spectres lost within its confines as Cocytus. The Tenebrous is the manifestation of Pure Evil as Insatiable Darkness, the place where Negative Energy is soaked through with Malice. Here there is a primeval joy felt for every life snuffed out as well as every Good being who falls.

There is little light or heat to be had, as most of it is devoured within moments by the plane itself. However like the Hungers the glow of undeath can brighten the hungry dark, and so the dwellings of undead lords and archfiends use undead which by their natures offer some illumination. Some of these are imprisoned or subjected to geas, but others are happy to serve their masters in this capacity. The other kind of light that can mitigate the pall of Negative Energy is the aura of Empyrean archangels, but these prisoners only serve as lanterns in those great fortresses and cathedrals directly in service to the mysterious Rex Mundi. Sounds are also muffled (along with smell and taste), but the difficulty in trying to counteract this problem means telepathic communication is quite common.

All living beings are in danger of having their life force drained, their bodies and items disintegrated, their minds shattered by their envelopment in Ultimate Evil. Magic offers some limited protection, but as even spells fray here such partial abjuration is quite untrustworthy. Those who who aren't undead yet wish to come here will need Fiendish Dispensation to accomplish much of anything.

The unliving on the other hand are empowered by the plane and can be found across the Devouring Void. Negative Energy solidifies into Negative Material which folds into itself to make Voidstone, allowing dwellings to be built for the more civilized and flightless undead. The plane also has swarms of incorporeal undead aimlessly wandering the nightmarish expanse, their un-life long ago surrendered to hateful madness. Near silent wars abound between undead lords, as each has artifacts, secrets, and other resources useful in the machinations of their fellows. One of the great wars concerns a mile-wide metallic sphere called Deathheart, said to hold ancient secrets of unlife as well as an abandoned city around its inner shell.

There is a muffled set of echoes here representing the Finality of the Logos, and for living beings to hear this subjects them to waves of crippling despair. As the Logos is the Unity of Speech and Act, one of these echoes is said to be the Last Word - a power that once possessed could kills gods. Even the mere echo of this Word allowed the Voice of the Whirling Void to gift the Fiends of Vacuum the means of creating Ma Yuan the God Killer.

There are also echoes of another kind - ghostly scenes rerun in scattered fashion across the plane, defying the sensory muffling that usually occurs. These seem to be occurrences from a Wheel that has a different structure and different exemplars, though the events - no matter what is happening - take on the feeling of a play none of the actors are taking seriously. Scenes of triumph and joy are retold as incredibly dull, while scenes of loss and grief are cast as amusing. Sometimes these scenes will even "break character" for a moment, for example one of the characters in the midst of being burned at the stake will turn to those viewing and wink. It is these scenes that cause some to suspect the Tenebrous is actually a corrupted Wheel that invaded this reality constructed by the Emanations of the One.

The fiends born of this place are seen as the elect of their kind, responsible for guiding the war effort against the angels. It is for them to topple the Towers, to parley with the Dark Gods, to foment holy wars between the angels over matters of theology & theodicy. These fiends are, in turn, supposed vassals to the mysterious Rex Mundi though the very existence of such a figure is in great dispute. The challenge is some quite powerful archfiends - including Verin and Ztefano - take their devotion to the World's King rather seriously, and as such everyone is forced to play along to some degree. The other issue is that there seem to be a cadre of fiends outside the usual hierarchies and domains who seem more knowledgeable about the nature of this being. Most of them are paper pushers and other menial non-combative types, yet killing them has come to be seen as a great taboo given the misfortune that follows.

While there are many, many locales dedicated to the torment of those they share this Wheel with, the fiends also have Preserves where they invisibly observe and even encourage the good hearted and innocent toward moral action..though naturally they introduce temptations and misfortunes as stimuli. The better they can understand the Good, they believe, the better they can someday destroy It.

sciborg2
Offline
Last seen: 1 week 13 hours ago
Joined: 2005-07-26 19:14
64. Toon Wheel

64. The Toon Wheel

"Behold! Human beings living in an underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets."

"I see."

"And do you see, I said, men passing along the wall carrying all sorts of vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and various materials, which appear over the wall? Some of them are talking, others silent."

"You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners."

"Like ourselves, I replied...
-Plato, The Republic

Sadly little of this Wheel has been mapped out, though it seems to resemble the usual structure, as the nature of this reality makes it disturbing enough that most Wheelwalkers avoid traveling here unless a great need arises. Let me begin my explanation by asking a question - Have you ever seen a Praxinoscope? Simple enough in their basic design, magic & psionics allow for even more complicated animations. Many faiths use these devices to tell their scriptural stories to children, and in some Wheels Sensates use them in tandem or in place of recorder stones. Some of the most advanced devices allow the viewer to experience part of the phenomenal qualities of the scenes depicted, for example feeling the wetness of a storm or the heat of fire.

Now imagine yourself as a character in the animation, and what happens to you in the animation is felt by your body. Now imagine your body suspended, feeling nothing but the animation you're somehow floating above. And then if your body was frozen and unseen, capable of nothing but the feeling of events your avatar in the scenes experiences? That is the reality of this Wheel, what we refer to as the Praxinoscope Wheel.

When we first came here and tried to explain our own subjective experience of having a body that both acts in the world and feels the effects of those actions, the residents of this Wheel thought we were mad. When we found and enabled what we presume are the first Wheel Walkers of this place, and took them away, the result was madness. To live in a place that is (at least) three dimensional, where the limit of your sight is (usually) based on the placement of your eyes rather than the top-down viewing of a two dimensional scene...it overwhelmed the minds of these poor Wheelwalkers. Thankfully using therapy and clerical magic we coaxed most of these neophyte Walkers back to sanity...and that is when they began to ask the same questions that we tried yet have heretofore failed to answer.

First is the oddity of cause and effect. A person can be smashed by a frost giant's hammer and simply flatten out, as if they had no bones, only to later "reinflate". Directly taking a fireball to face results in a person covered with soot but no permanent burn damage. (Lightning strikes have a similar effect, though one's hair may seem to be under the effect of extreme static.) One can have their head chopped off and still be alive and conversant, even able at times to command their animated body to reattach their animated head. Even death results in one's eyes becoming Xs, a ghost arising that bears similar form to the body. For reasons unknown resurrections seem more common that not, with the ghost simply returning to the body after being shocked or even just reminded of a great desire.

The second oddity is the nature of the body. Why do you feel sensation in a body you cannot witness, while your volition is centered on the animated figure that represents you? And the body you feel through extends to the soul - Even when someone actually dies and enters the afterlife, there seems to be a suggestion of great violence and torture more any witnessed suffering. While there is suffering it seems everyone is the exception to the greater tortures of the Lower Planes, and even the Blood War rarely results in actual bloodshed.

These oddities, along with others, suggest this Wheel is wholly manufactured. But for what purpose? And, of great interest to the Architects, if it is manufactured is it Infinite?

sciborg2
Offline
Last seen: 1 week 13 hours ago
Joined: 2005-07-26 19:14
65. Sigil, The Sunken City

65. Sigil, The Sunken City (Part I, concerning the Ocean of Eternals, the Past, and the Kingdoms Under the Moon)


"The Heart of Atlantis lies in the eyes of her king"
-Atlantis: The Lost Empire


Now, as we approach the battle for our existence, I call upon the great spirits. Spirit of the Ocean! Spirit of the Moon! Be with us!
-Avatar: The Last Airbender

Imagine a Cosmic Ocean that itself is vast enough to touch (encompass?) other Cosmic Oceans - for example Parallel V, Parallel CXXI, Parallel XLI, and Parallel XLIV.

This Ocean of Oceans is the waters of Wheel 65, one of the most precious Multiverses for it is a Metaversal path that allows Wheel Walking into Cosmic Oceans even for those who have no ability to traverse Wheels on their own. There are, of course, difficulties for any ship or submersible or sky-craft seeking to make such a journey. The rituals to open a way between the Wheels requires the life fluid of a creature native to the destination Mutliverse - sometimes that fluid must be freely given, other times won in ritual combat, siphoned while the giver was asleep, and so on. This fluid must be released into the water following some particular ritual act - the staging of a play, a days long dance, a protracted sacrifice of something valuable to a member of the vessel's crew...you get the idea.

While this is a great secret of incredible value for Wheel Walkers engaging in Metaversal trade, most of the inhabitants of this Wheel are more concerned with their own local infinity. Those among them who wish to traverse their local Multiverse have two commonly used options.

One is the Planar Currents, wind and water pathways that one can sail on the surface or navigate below it to enter the planes of this Wheel. Time passes differently on these pathways, sometimes where days within a particular current are but moments in the rest of Multiverse...and other cases where a day in a current is a year across the Wheel. And there are other threats in the flow of currents, hungry entities such as Scylla, Abaddon and his wandering kingdom of locusts, and the Mertarrasque. Additionally the sun shifts color (or are there many suns?) depending on the area and its rays give off different effects in these varied locales. For example a particular shade of gold delivers Positive Energy, while a jaundiced green places all under its illumination within the effects of a disintegration spell. Some have even reported a shade of rose quartz light above a doldrum under which undead resurrect and none of the living can die.

There is the other option, which is utilizing the portals of Sigil, the only portals that exist in this Multiverse. This makes Sigil a junction utilized across this Wheel, especially by aquatic races, those who don't need to breathe or can breathe water, and those who have an affinity for the Elemental Essence of Water. This is, of course, because Sigil is a sunken ruin lying beneath the waves.

The Ocean of Eternals, as it is referred to on this Wheel, does not have a known floor. However, from the darkest depths, untouched by its multi-hued sun (suns?), sections of gargantuan divine skeletons rise out upon which varied villages, cities, and civilizations are built (the relic economy is quite lucrative though finding means to chip at the god bones is always a quest for the ages). And from that undersea Ossuary of the Forgotten once rose the jade spinal column of a deity, and where that spine - surrounded by an everlasting fog of salt spray tall and wide enough to hold a crystal sphere - almost touched the sun was built the city of Sigil. Or perhaps it wasn't built but simply appeared, its buildings rising up from the giant unmelting snowflake balanced atop that mysterious spine.

The city served as host to many who discovered it across the eons - the sidereal quesar who emerged in tandem with the Upper Planes from the primordial blue-white light of the Good, the chronomancers who came from warring alternate futures, the obyrith who Became when the foul yellow ooze of the Primordial Yochlols congealed, even Nebelun the Meddler before he became a god. Deities (including archfiends, primordials, exemplar lords and so on), as far anyone knows, have never been able to enter or even approach past the saline mists that surround the City of Doors. Records state hazy, numinous figures that could crack planets in their limbs were seen beyond the mist and legends claim they were those who had been tasked by their pantheons with waiting until the day the Lady of Pain let down her defenses.

And when that day came, when the Jade Spine toppled...Did the gods destroy Sigil as they warred to posses it? Or could it have been an accident perpetrated by the Spellweaver Empire, said to the be the Last Guests ever to come and make a home in the City of Doors? Many shadowfiends say the cause lies in the dark depths from which the god bones arise, while just as many asuras say it was a cataract of prismatic fire poured out from the sun.

Though still extant, the cloud of salt spray mist has thinned considerably. Yet now when one approaches the shattered City of Doors one notices the hue-shifting sun (suns?) slowly setting even as a full copper-yellow moon fades into the darkening sky to take its place. At the edges of this area, where the sun sinks below the horizon and a robust field of stars appears, one finds the corpses of those gods one presumes once stalked the City of Doors on the other side of the salt spray fog. These bodies are defaced, as if by a mad butcher determined to ensure no one could guess what the animals in the larder originally were. (Quite a few sages suspect the pantheons these gods once belonged to are responsible for the desecration.)

The only clues readily available as to who each corpse might have been are the vague dreams one has while residing in the lycanthrope kingdoms built upon the dead divinities and the varied sorcerer bloodlines and proxies-to-no-one that emerge from those peoples. The kingdoms may have a majority of a particular type of were, but they are organized more by the suggestions of domains once held by a corpse than any "racial" unity among their kind.

Continuing on, whether traveling by sail or submersible or even sky, one begins to feel the pull of the Enshadowed Waterspout.

sciborg2
Offline
Last seen: 1 week 13 hours ago
Joined: 2005-07-26 19:14
65. Sigil, The Sunken City

65. Sigil, The Sunken City (Part II, concerning the Enshadowed Waterspout and a Possible God.)

As one moves away from the Kingdoms Under the Moon the pull of the Enshadowed Waterspout grows stronger. Initially one can choose turn around, but very quickly the currents of air and water draw one toward a tornado rising up from the ocean and disappearing into a glittering night sky awash with fixed and shooting stars. The whirling column of water and air is darkened by the debris of tattered entropic shadows that seem to rise and tumble up and down its length. (As you approach the waterspout it's a good time to don any protections you have against negative energy.)

It's believed that whatever caused the destruction of Sigil slaughtered a great many of its inhabitants but there's evidence that some of the surrounding areas of where the city's portals exited to also got drawn into the calamity. (Again, many blame the gods for the lack of disaster sites across the planes that would otherwise mark The Fall.) The shades are those forced from Elsewhere to the moment of Sigil's destruction, poor victims whose deaths were violent enough to throw them into undeath. Then the additional strain of the collapsing City of Doors and the shearing of dimensions resulted in their tattered state. Some even suggest this collection of tossed about undead shadows has given rise to a nascent god of death, shadow, tragedy. They call this god Toldoth. While this apparent wraith-like deity grants no (as yet?) clerical magic to the few mad cultists who spread destruction in its name it does seem to send omens & show up in the dreams of some who cross through the Enshadowed Waterspout. (It is through these dreams that Toldoth apparently tries to recruit followers.)

As one rushes toward the churning pillar of water, shadow, and air they might be gifted by the sight of artifacts or unique entities emerging out of the frothing waters. These items and persons will be...created?...transported?...in flashes of near blinding lightning accompanied by soft & long reverberating thunder, appearing but for a moment before being translocated onto some other location upon this Wheel. Some say the Mertarrasque was one such creature born from the Enshadowed Waterspout's base, and the Void Phoenix another. As an example of the emergent artifacts, whispers speak of Halahala, a poison so deadly even gods would die from it. Far less momentous entities and far more minor artifacts are what usually come from the churn, but even these are hunted for the secrets of reality their study might reveal.

All this is but an interlude between the chance to turn back and actual contact with a shadows haunted oceanic tornado whose circumference could hold a planet. Magic and psyche disrupting lightning, the life draining touch of undeath, and winds that could pummel down a mountain threaten the integrity of any hull that enters the tornado.

Thankfully this threat diminishes within minutes, as the whirling of water and air begin to slow considerably. This allows one to witness the wreckage of countless vessels slowly spinning about as one is forced into descent. A few minutes more and the flotsam and hungry shadows thin out as one enters the true center of the waterspout. Air and water take on a gelatinous quality. Here it will seem as if both have a thickness that melts as one breathes them in, but returns with each exhale. You might think the elements have congealed, but in actuality what has congealed here is Time.

sciborg2
Offline
Last seen: 1 week 13 hours ago
Joined: 2005-07-26 19:14
Placeholder for 65

65. Sigil, the Sunken City (Part III, concerning Sigil that Was and Sigil that Is)

As you breathe you take the air or water from the state of congealed temporality into your personal time, and thus bring what was out of phase with the Wheel's timeline back into alignment.

So it is with the vessels you bring as you go down deeper and deeper through what seems like gelatinous water to the shattered, sinking-but-not ruins. As you descend you will merdabus who swim into appearance from the dark swirls of the whirlpool that makes up the waterspout's lower portion. From their heads rise mysterious azure runes of abjuration. Then, as you near the actual broken buildings and shards of unmelting ice, other merdabus will appear who will instruct you on where you can dock and emerge out of your vehicle as quickly as possible. You might at first be surprised by the lack of traffic - no matter the risks in an infinite Multiversal Wheel wouldn't many who are capable of crossing into the Enshadowed Waterspout attempt to enter what remains of the City of Doors from the outside? The challenge here is, as mentioned earlier, the presence of yourself and your vessel "loosens" up Time. And whatever happened here drew out many great predators who followed the currents to this disaster. You will find that upon exiting your vehicle and entering the city proper (or not if you dally and thus choose death) the abjuring merdabus swim away and your vessel is snatched away by....something in the dark waters beyond.

Thankfully Sigil itself, even in its shattered state, is still protected by the Lady. She also seems to draw down moonlight from above, even though this illumination does not cross the intervening darkness of the waters above the ruins. This allows even humans to clearly see the division between Sigil That Was and Sigil That Is.

The former is the frozen remnants of the city as it existed during the Fall. You see ancient figures of races and species known and unknown, some still about in this Wheel and others long since vanished. Some are panicking and others resolute, though which is which might come as a surprise. For example, one sees the terrified planetar in resplendent armor in contrast to the dirty tiefling beggar-child running with resilience, a bunch of honeysuckle outstretched in her hand, toward where presumably a portal once was. The ruins have also, by the breaking down of walls, revealed much that was meant to be private. You can swim around families huddled together as the floor buckles, their embrace being torn apart by gravity. You can spy an archmage surrounded by bones attempt to cast a spell, his eyes and the sockets of his collected skulls flaring with bright white light. You can see angels and fiends attempting to take to the air, surprised as flight apparently failed them. The headquarters of long lost factions - Merkhants, Expansionists, Incantifiers, Sinkers, Communals, Godsmen, Bleakers, Mercykillers, Hardheads, Ring Givers, Ciphers, and the Dead - are now open for tours, belief in them collapsing after they too bore the superstitions surrounding the city's destruction.

Most of all you see the Last Guests, the spellweavers whose empire fell along with the City of Doors. Was it the sin of their trans-planar empire that caused Sigil's Fall? They do seem more prepared than most of the inhabitants, even if the spells they were in the midst of casting did not allow them escape. Or does it just appear that way because of their quick intellects and alien countenances? Perhaps they are not responsible for the city's destruction but its partial salvation. Perhaps it is their magic (maybe in tandem with the aforementioned chronomancer warriors) that allowed the Sigil That Was to exist in amber-like Time and thus serve as the foundation for Sigil That Is. Though now, as it was before, the survival of Sigil rests with the power of the Lady.

This newer city uses the ruins of the old one and the broken flake of snow it all once rested on as its foundation. Some use the falling wreckage locked in stasis as support for chains, kelp, ropes, or webbing and hang their domiciles in the manner of anchors. Others build up, balancing new flooring on the tilted tumble of ancient flotsam. Either strategy requires the aid of the dabus, the only beings who can nail or cement new construction into or onto the old as this process requires the merging of Time that Flows with Time that is Frozen.

sciborg2
Offline
Last seen: 1 week 13 hours ago
Joined: 2005-07-26 19:14
Placeholder for 65

65. Sigil, The Sunken City (Part IV, concerning the Powers, Portals, Elemental Essences, Planes Primordial and Planes of Neutrality)

The Powers
Given many planars suspect the varied pantheons of having foolishly destroyed Sigil in their obsessive Cosmic Game, there are many among the planes who are god-fearing but not at all god-loving. That so many powers also focus a great deal of resources and attention on the Prime, it isn't a surprise that many on the Inner and especially Outer Planes see them as meddlers and interlopers. Some god-haters even, with no evidence whatsoever in most cases, claim that these gods are carpetbaggers from Elsewhere or merely arisen mortals who don't know what they are doing. The true guardians of creation are sadly in the deadbook, their bones in the Great Ossuary at the bottom of the Ocean of Eternals.

All that being said, few would be rude to a proxy to their face though they might work a little slower to fulfill the wants and needs of such a "(golden) apple (or peach or epli) polisher". The Athar are a faction that is secretly popular across the planes but openly adored in the City of Doors, where the gods (along with other powers such as planar lords and arch-exemplars) still may not enter. One might think some deities could try breaching Sigil from the outside, but instead no known deities have tried. What records we have - and by 'records' I largely mean the drunken gossip of detested proxies - instead indicate that the threat of being thrown into the moonlit area of the Ocean of Eternals that surrounds Sigil is something deities would die to avoid.

One oddity that some have noticed is the affinity the Lady has for the god of medicine Dhanvantari who emerged from the Enshadowed Waterspout's churn of the Ocean of Eternals. Many new portals she allows to be created (see below) seem to benefit the emerging religion forming around this deity. Is the Lady doing this to counter the potential emergence of the life negating Toldoth?

On the creation of new portals across the Wheel

Because the planes of this wheel have no portals to each other, only to Sigil, travel across the planar pathways will often be done because an opportunity has arisen to create a new portal in Sigil itself. The process involves dreams of the Lady in her old form (that which is akin to her appearance on Multiverse Prime) pointing to a dabus. This dabus then communicates in rebuses to the chosen native of a particular plane that they can journey to the ruins of the city and use a particular portal key in a bounded space. If the Lady has deemed the gate to be a two-way portal, she'll also communicate that (along with the corresponding portal key) in the dream. All those who have the dream (usually 1-7 individuals, but it has gone up to 1,000) must travel to Sigil through the Enshadowed Waterspout and use the portal key. Additionally, none of these individuals should enter the sunknen City of Doors prior to this establishing of the portal. Sometimes all of these dreamers have to survive (thankfully undeath counts) in order for the portal to be created, other times it will be less - rarely does the Lady allow a single survivor to suffice. As a token of her compassion she will express this detail in dreaming as well, so you can mark the point where the quest should be abandoned.

As to why this journey cannot be shortened by the clever use of existing portals, graybeards theorize it has to do with the transdimensional connections being established. To use a portal in Sigil before creating the one the Lady chose you to open will result in some unknown - possibly catastrophic - failure. It remains unknown because anyone who tries to break this rule will see the Lady of Pain as she is in the Now - a ghostly figure in a white shroud somehow able to cover her bladed hair without tearing, floating serenely over the ground. Those who displease her in the manner of portals are shifted from flowing time into the temporal stasis of Sigil that Was, save for those who would fall into the group of persons that seek dominance or destruction of the ruins or of Sigil that Is. These beings fall under the familiar shadow but instead of being flayed their senses are encompassed by a sensory deprived darkness save for the presence of the veiled Lady. And then the veil drops and in the next instant the lady vanishes along with her shadow, the punished shivering in frozen terror for the rest of their life.

Elemental Essences (see Jem's entry about elementals, "The Elemental Indwelling", in Dark Roads & Golden Hells)

Rather than exist as separate planes the essences of Fire, Water, Air, Earth, and Void pervade all of this Wheel. It is in this manner they end up aiding in giving form to this Wheel. At times these essences arise into elementals born of planar materials, beings of neutral disposition even if they are made of substances Upper or Lower planes. This leads to the strange situation where a neutral ice elemental made from the Sanguine Artic cannot pass through the magical barrier meant to abjure evil creatures, or a lightning elemental born on one of the more chaotic shells making up the Concentric Balance is destroyed by a Word of Law.

These elementals also establish kingdoms of their own, usually in the comforting neutrality and privacy granting expansiveness of the Ocean of Eternals (the exception being the Elementals of Void, who are most often born and most comfortable in the vacuum of Wild Space on the Prime). Water Kingdoms exist in all ocean zones, their establishment dependent on the dispositions of their inhabitants. Elementals of Air and Fire set up their kingdoms in the sky, the latter using sunlight and lightning as building materials.

The mysterious Elementals of Earth are thought to have their own kingdoms below the infinitely deep ocean floor, amidst the buried gemstone skeletons of those long dead unknown gods. In fact it is said their rulers are elementals born of those very bones, sending their kin on a variety of odd missions for reasons unknown. Another oddity is most elementals born on the Alignment Planes seek to have their bodies transmuted into a state of elemental purity with regards to both substance and moral aura, however the Elementals of Earth endure their Outer Planar substance in their wanderings. For these reasons other elementals shun those Earth.

The Elementals of Void are usually only born in Wild Space, though occasionally they arise in those lightless vacuums that might exist in other parts of this Wheel. These elementals are usually rather contemplative beings despite being akin to spheres of annihilation molded into roughly humanoid form. They have only recently had their tranquility broken due to the arising of the Void Phoenix which they are now seeking in earnest.

Outer Planes

The Outer Planes here are infinite yet all of them can be traced back to a particular primordial emanation - travel deep enough into the plane in the right direction and you come upon a shore leading to those places of origin. The Upper Planes come from Divina Lumen, the Womb of Quesars, that benevolent light from which those now lost first celestials emerged. The Lower Planes come from the sentient Ooze of Yochols, the Soil of the Obyriths, that most ancient of evils that seeks to spread its stain across the Wheel entire. The Neutral Planes come from the Ocean of Eternals and can be arrived by sailing its waters.

Neutral Planes

Outer Wyld: Imagine Nature divorced from the usual conception of size, evolution, and even the distinction between flora and fauna. This is the representation of the Neutrality as Amorality, whether that is the Innocence of Good and Evil or rejection of such Knowledge. Here you might find a wyvern that hatched out of an overripe mango whose venom turns a person into pages of a mysterious book on the day of the new moon, or a spider web made of sticky ether stretching across a canyon to catch swarms of phasing pterodactyls, or a falling grape that bursts to release a flood of juice when it impacts against a continental mountain range.

Druids, priests and mages of the elements, and rangers gravitate to the plane in droves, but given the unusual conception of nature so do transmuters and alchemists (especially from Mountain Tree). This place resists the establishment of cities, so outside of tribal communities and small villages those who wish for libraries and laboratories must use the caravan cities that use nomadic movement to evade the cascade of misfortunes that strikes any urbanized location.

While the Verdant Guild has long used this plane as its beachhead in the war against civilization, recently a young elemental air cleric by the name of Alisohn Nilesia has gathered to herself the more fanatical among this collection of fanatics. She has taken up as her banner the image of the shattered City of Doors, rejecting the use of its portals in favor of planar currents. This makes her and her people arguably less effective at targeting sites of civilization that need to be "re-wilded", yet they seem to be using their affinity with Nature to find the new planar currents to accomplish their missions. However, it's also said Alisohn wants to complete the destruction of Sigil itself, which she believes will cause harm to every other city in the Wheel if not destroy many of them outright. She proudly claims to prophetically dream of standing over the Lady's unveiled corpse, bringing her spear of sharpened bone down into the guardian of Sigil's heart.

There is a Wyld Ocean, where octopi and dolphins hold court with each other, where lobsters and crabs serve the Crustacean Church and its seven Papal Queens, where oysters the size of thumbs hold not pearls but miniscule jellied delights that will make you weep by the grandeur of their taste. It is here that this plane meets the Ocean of Eternals.

The Lotus Sea: If titans of old had a lotus pool of infinite size, it would still be dwarfed by this plane. The lotuses here could hold cities, and in fact many do contain the realms of deities within their petaled enclosures (often these realms are bigger inside than out). The kind of gods who make their home here match the essence of the plane which contrasts itself with the Outer Wyld. That plane represents Neutrality based on a return to animalistic amorality, but the Lotus Sea represents Neutrality as intellectual pursuit. Thus the gods here concern themselves with Love, Art, Knowledge, Governance, Blacksmithing, War, the Arcane Arts, and so on without concern for the war between Good and Evil. Even Lotuses that are not homes for powers have a similar temperment, usually devoted to some domain or purpose that either rejects Good & Evil or accepts them both. For this reason sects of all sorts can also be found on the flowers of this plane, especially the remnants of those factions that once held dominance in now shattered Sigil. Other inhabitants of note upon the flowers are the githzerai who have seeded this plane with many monasteries, the formian kingdoms currently at war to determine which queen should sit upon the throne, and the legendary cathedral-towers of the modrons.

The infinite sea is made up of fresh water, though as one moves into the Ocean of Eternals it will take on a hint of salt that grows stronger as one shifts to that other plane. The marid have a strong presence here, as do the gormeel slaad (no other kinds of slaad are native to this Wheel). While the descent down to the plane's soil could hold hundreds of crystal spheres stacked atop each other the bottom is reachable. As the water here holds its own soft glow, kingdoms of aquatic races along with shelters for those who'd normally dwell on land exist here. Digging deep enough leads to a network of tunnels that seem to have been deliberately carved. Winds of calm and contemplation ease travel through these passageways, wherein one discovers the plane-rending horrors laid down to what is a hopefully eternal slumber.

The Dance of Spheres: On this Wheel the essences of Order and Chaos are not anathema to each other. Rather, they are partners who've joined Neutrality in a grand alchemy whose fruits are represented by the infinite shells of this plane. Each shell encompasses all the previous ones, and each is a different admixture of stability and entropy, predictability and randomness, rationality and absurdity. There are some who suggest two of the Forgotten Gods - one of Chaos and one of Law - still (un)live on as divine wraiths and are continually adding more shells to this plane as part of their romance. (Yes, there is a shell made of interlocking gears and another made of primal chaos matter.)

These shells surround Core, a crystal sphere within whose center lie three suns endlessly circling each other. The suns give off enough heat to warm the salt waters that fill the sphere, and in fact it is from one here can travel to and from the Ocean of Eternals by way largely secret planar currents. Within the saline wild space of core are planetoids of hollow ice revolving around the triplet Suns of Concordance. These spheres are each decorated by Draconic calligraphy, the first pieces of a Prophecy that concerns the survival of dragonkind which in turn ties into the survival of this Wheel entire. Dragons of all varities are less concerned with alignment here than with the Prophecy, a message written by...Someone...maybe Io?...in signs, dreams, omens, and synchronicities as much as Draconic messages mysteriously occuring across this Wheel. Within the spheres dragons of all sorts make their homes, as all kinds of biomes have been imported here and magically sustained for their comfort. The dragons in turn are served by varied dragonkin such as kobolds, wyverns, and draconians. Besides their engimatic gods the dragons are led by the Council of Wyrms - a democratic body (even dragonkin can be elected!) - who in turn defer to the venerable elders of their race, Primordial Great Wyrms that are believed even by themselves to be the last of their respective kinds - Dragons of Time, Matter, Thought, Energy, and Entropy. Of great concern is the fact that despite its continually useful warnings the Prophecy did not predict the Fall of Sigil, and it seems to assume the Sigil that Was still rests atop the jade spine as it did in the distant depths of time.

Beyond Core the shells vary not only in their constitution but in their relationship with space and time. For example the shell immediately after Core is a petrified forest inhabited by fossilized deathless who look up and see not the black sphere of Core but the grey cloud cover of an eternally overcast day through which shafts of Positive infused sunlight randomly shine through. However the shell after that is a sphere where nothing ages save frogs and caterpillars, crafted out of air softly glowing golden due to an ambrosial mist that fills the atmosphere. From there one can see the stony roots of the petrified forest poking through the earth of that prior shell.

The shells beyond Core are also overseen by custodians called the Rilmani. Rather than trying to maintain the Balance across the Wheel, these exemplars are busy with ensuring It's maintained between the Shells themselves. In those shells where many believe the plane to be creation of the divine undead lovers their work is greatly opposed, sometimes even by deities. These believers feel the Rilmani are unneeded critics interfering with divine art that is still in progress.

Other shells include:

Shell 6: A shell of interwoven filigrees of silver, gold, and electrum. Spirits of Air who are linked by clairaudience sing refrains of a Creation Song that can never stop and so must be continuously taken up as part of one's daily duties. What's interesting about this song is they're continuously improvising even as they ensure it maintains harmony with the parts that preceded the new additions.

Shell 567: Piles of paper resting on a rosewood floor in a silver void. Pages continue to fall from the argent sky. It's said the newly fallen papers hold knowledge which has just become lost in every other part of this Wheel, but sadly no one known can read the language in which they are written.

Shell 3,499: A shell made of earth and water, upon which rest domains separated by boundaries of fog. These Mists drag one great paragon of virtue into this shell for every great evil they kidnap, giving each prisoner a kingdom from which they can never leave.

sciborg2
Offline
Last seen: 1 week 13 hours ago
Joined: 2005-07-26 19:14
Placeholder for 65

65. Sigil, The Sunken City (Part IV, concerning the Planes of Good)

Upper Planes

The river Oceanus connects the Upper Planes together, as well as planar currents of the Ocean of Eternals. These are usually traveled by balaena and the aasimon, the latter working to resolve disputes and remind all of the Divine Light's Purpose - thus ensuring the celestials of all planes and good powers will work in tandem to ensure the furtherance of the Good in Its continual battle against Evil.

The Labyrinth of Discovery:

Quote:

"my son is no bigger than a grub...where does he live? at the moment, between the leaves of a book. this is where he runs the least risk of being lost. inversely, he risks being squashed, if someone puts something on the book. otherwise he rests between the leaves without much difficulty...."

A glowing crystalline realm dedicated towards enlightenment, its corridors made of clear, yellow, and blue diamond. Sometimes the corridors are faceted, as if exquisitely carved by titanic beings while at other times they take on the appearance of being roughly formed out of unpolished diamond in its natural state. In this place the guardinals & lillendi aid petitioners and visitors in their spiritual journeys. You wander through the halls where gravity is often altered, doing good deeds to encourage the Traveler's Way to aid in your own journey. Obstacles will appear, confrontations will occur, facets will reflect scenes of the past from varied viewpoints where you might feel the emotional state of others who were there, companions will be separated but again reuinited, but so will the site of amazing vistas wherein night skies and oceans are somehow contained in the gemstone caverns. All this is part of the Traveler's Way of this plane.
Quote:

what is the future for such a grub?

not much hope. he'll vegetate. if he stays this size.


As one moves through the Labyrinth one finds that one is on a quest, a romancing and researching of the self. It seems the purpose of the Traveler's Way is a means of digging into one's own soul, to understand the way life has bruised and possibly broken it. At times you might converse with versions of your Self in dreams, a counseling sessions aided by the lillendi. At other times the echoes in the caverns might recall some events that caused emotional turmoil among yourself and those you travel with, with the guardinals - or more likely the Guardians, mortals who emulate them - on hand to help ensure this leads to an opening up rather than conflict. Places of respite from the sometimes rough weather in the Labyrinth might have air sentinels bring you into contact with other travelers that you might learn from, and in some places the only way to earn rations or a bed is to engage in some tasks for the locals. Even the locals themselves often have to deal in the proving of virtue, as the river nymphs who help run things like watermills, the dryads who live in orchard trees, and mortai who control the weather will also ask one do good deeds. And for those who wish to break off some diamonds, the oread will demand one fulfill a quest in the name of Good so mining is less about picks and shovels as it might be about setting up a school for orphans on a particular shell of the Concentric Dance or defeating a dragon enslaving gnomes on the prime which might bring a party into conflict with the Prophecy...and so to smooth things over one might need to talk to the local (and unique) Adamantine Dragon, one of the few of her kind to choose the furtherance of the Good over the furtherance of the Prophecy. As to why the Five Elders of Dragonkind tolerate this seeming insubordination, well that's not for common folk or even most archmages to know but most suspect her goodness fulfills the the Prophecy in some way. (Then again maybe a cadre of assassins serving Falazure the Night Dragon will unexpectedly visit her someday, though hopefully not when you're talking to her...)

Sweet-smelling Oceanus runs through the caverns as well, though sometimes a thin sliver of water in the center of a smooth tunnel and at other times it is an onrushing rapids that spirals around a jagged cavern. The waters of this place bring back memories to vivid recollections, which in turn helps fulfill the plane's Traveler's Way. The bartering of good deeds for travel assistance also extends to this planar current, so long as one steps onto or into the river from this plane.

Quote:

but then slowly he takes on substance. this is doubtless the result of my efforts: sometimes i take him out, i place him in a bed, or outside, for after all he has a right to the world, and he seems to lean toward life. the danger that someone unaware will crush him remains. little by little he even gains in intelligence. he begins to think, to be happy, to become a real living being.

While the lillendi usually travel in troupes putting on Mystery Plays, and the guardinals also traverse the plane to aid the souls who come here, the celestials have their own dwellings from which they might focus particular efforts on redeeming this Wheel. It's mostly the ursinals who stick to their academies and libraries - the Traveler's Way might involve someone attending a class, oddly enough - but various towers and villages are used by the celestials for respite. There are also forges and armories where when the need arises so that the celestials might plan for a war against the fiends and other great evils. Fortresses are also found near those evils the Guardinals have imprisoned by invoking the power of the plane, and keeping travelers from these sites is one of the few ways a visitor can come to blows with the benevolent exemplars. Since the recent arising of Sunnis, the Good Archomental of Earth, a thousand years ago imprisonment is an easier process and thus the rate of incarceration has increased. Of course the archons themselves wonder if Sunnis is connected to the mysterious missions of the other earth elementals.

The remnants of the Ciphers and the now long established Mind's Eye who took the Godsmen's place have many outposts here, as the nature of the plane serves both their philosophies in some way.

The naga goddess Shekinester makes her home - The Court of Light - here as well, reveling in the plane's nature as a testing ground. That she seems to have neutral and evil aspects disturbs the celestials but the goddess is simply too powerful to drive off. She has yet to grant any modern celestial an audience since she met with the primordials of guardinal kind, the Priminals, eons upon eons ago. On the other hand Lillendi are often found amongst her servants, and another cause for comfort is her friendship with the goddess Ishtar whose realm - the City of the Star - is found in an adjacent cavern.

One other site that causes the celestials concern is a vast "frozen" lake of choppy "water" made of a single sheet of dark blue diamond with a burnt and melted crater within its center. It's thought that the Queen of Air and Darkness, goddess who leads the Unseelie Fey, may have been corrupted by a facet of this plane somehow broken off and turned to evil - an artifact called the Black Diamond. Could that gem of darkness still have a connection to this place? Was the Black Diamond created because a great evil may have trapped here by the vanished Priminals in that Time before Time?

Quote:

obviously, he is very far behind, since he has existed in this form for months. but now he has really decided to catch up. now i spy him running, having gone downstairs, and climbing...

One of the recent projects of the Guardians is aiding (and sometimes tricking) those who (don't) seek to come here from planar currents from across the planes. They believe the wisdom this place offers is more precious than diamonds, for here one is offered the promise of souls and thus perhaps the Wheel entire shedding their evil aspects and becoming Whole.

Quote:

i feel happiness, love for my grub leaving his twilight state. seeing life "crystallize" is such a blessing..."
-Helene Cixous, 'The School of Dreams'


The Nine Paradises

"Yudhisthira, you have renounced everything, lost everything, including your brothers, including Draupadi whom you loved in earnest. Why do you not renounce this dog?"

"The others are all dead, and I can do nothing to resurrect them...but this dog is still alive."
-The Mahabharata

Also called the Clouds of Purification, this plane is nine layers where clouds make up the ground, each landscape dedicated to instilling in souls one of the Cardinal Archonic Virtues: Patience, Compassion, Temperance, Justice, Mercy, Valor, Prudence, Fortitude, and Humility. The layers are connected by great steam powered celestial elevators made from made from varied precious metals, so that one might make their spiritual journey in a manner best fitting their own personal path toward alignment with the Divine Order. What matters isn't the order in which you take in the lessons of particular layers, but rather the integration of all the virtues in total into your life. One of the great challenges of this plane is many celestials here - along with other entities like the Storm Kings, akin to the ones on Multiverse Prime's Arcadia - are quite adamant about instilling these lessons upon petitioner and visitor alike, another is the wariness some archons - and their mortal admirers, the Order of Planes Militant - feel toward outsiders who might disrupt what they see as the plane's perfect moral machinery.

Where planar currents enter into this plane one can expect to find legions of per serving at the behest of their archon commanders. Pers are also sent to patrol these currents even beyond the Nine Paradises, as a precaution against invasions that would disrupt the purification of souls. Pers arise from the Citadel of Dawn (see below), a palatial fortress bathe in twilight. While on Multiverse Prime the Palace of Bahamut exists on multiple layers of Mount Celestia simultaneously, several sites have that same property in the Nine Paradises. These sites, often accessible from Sigil That Is, can be quite useful to visitors who do not wish to subject themselves to the schooling of the archons.

Besides archons four other races aid in the purpose of this place. Firstly are creatures resembling spellhaunts that do not need to devour magic in order to survive are common enough to vex magic users who would use spells to get around the testing aspects of the plane. Second are minor incarnates of the plane's virtues, these bond with the willing to show their host what living in accordance with that particular virtue is like. (These aren't that common here as most are working to spread the virtues across the Wheels). Thirdly are moignos who, instead of being formed by mathematics, are composed of philosophical arguments on why one should seek to be virtuous (especially in a lawful good manner) in general or why a particular virtue is of incredible importance. These beings can be found on all the layers of Paradise. Last are lawful good mortai who aid in the creation of the necessary weather for the testing of souls, each in service to the Council of Storm Kings.

Patience is a land where archons and pers will keep a body waiting for hours in a maddening bureaucracy. Visitors will be asked to take up duties that cannot be rushed - following complex recipes for making medicinal items, schooling & caring of children or pets, the staging of a play celebrating human saints who exemplified a virtue valued by the plane. The clouds here can also become impassable to move through, a condition that one must simply wait out as these barriers always eventually dissolve. One of the darker secrets of this layer is the arising of a sentient mist that contains shadowy manifestations akin to the klyndes on the Plane of Steam in Multiverse Prime - this being possesses the power and the patience to serve as the perfect assassin for the Will of Paradise. Many a budding darklord has fallen to this entity though the archons it works with keep its existence secret even from others of their kind. While on this layer one might dream of a golden spider slowly spinning its web, offering counsel as to how one might employ this layer's virtue to solve problems in their life.

Compassion is a land that continually asks one to reflect on the misfortunes of others. Rainwater collects into pools held by solidified cloud, each pool showing sufferings going on across the Multiverse - a form of scrying that could be of great use to adventurers on their own quests. Archons will stand near these pools and will ask for charitable contributions of some kind - a magic item, an offer to travel to a site of suffering, or maybe just money. One good thing about this plain is the archons must also make time to consider the misfortunes you might be dealing with, and must consider offering you aid as part of their journey toward perfection. Dreamers here sometimes meet with a pelican piercing her breast so that starving chicks of other species might have sustenance. She will offer you the compassion of this plane - drinking her blood in the dream heals the body and the mind of most curses, diseases, injuries, and magical complusions.

Temperance is a misty cloud land where enriynes are archons instead of devils, accomplished actresses who emerge from the fog to tempt you toward excess and discipline you when you fail to place morals over desires. These temptations are not always sexual, these archons will pretend to offer great wealth, forbidden magical knowledge, or some rather delicious treats. Beyond controlling one's desire to possess, the enriynes here also test if you can temper your anger and vanity, but also other emotions such as grief. After all if one cannot leash all their emotions, argue the stern enryines, how can one prevent their exploitation by the forces of Evil? Noctrals work in tandem with these archons of temptation, after one fails the latter's tests the former will come and offer their wisdom on how to achieve self-improvement. While sleeping you might dream of an Angel here, one that holds two cups with water flowing between them as she takes one step into a river. She'll warn you of some future moment that will require the placing of your Will before your Passion lest you fall into disaster.

Justice is a churn of storms that tests your acceptance of lawful conduct - will you accept and then uphold the proper rights of your neighbor? Will you submit yourself or those who you love to hail or lightning or icy gales as deserved punishment? The archons of this layer will often trick you into thinking you or someone you care about or at least need is standing trial. Sometimes those being tested must bear witness to the carrying out a sentence, other times they must enforce it. Sometimes it's not a trick at all, though thankfully the archons never dupe you on that score. Criminals deemed to be worthy of standing trial in Heaven are pursued by archons aided by packs of spider automatons that are Good versions of Multiverse Prime's Abyssal Retrievers. Dreamers here will be able to discuss their concerns with a blindfolded woman holding a scale, a sage with great knowledge of legal systems across this Wheel.

Mercy is a place of sun dappled clouds that asks for more than even many archons are willing to give. Because it asks that even those friends who have done great evil be given undeserved succor many archons find themselves failing the tests of this place. In fact the archons of this layer and the archons of Justice are often at odds with each other, and their relationship seems particularly strained of late. That said their tactics are quite similar, as visitors and petitioners will be given the illusory opportunity to enact vengeance upon their enemies. The archons will also set up groups where one can talk about the journey toward shedding one's wrath with others who've suffered just as much or worse. The dream figure of this layer is a hooded executioner who has broken his scimitar, and despite appearances he is quite willing to discuss the challenges the layer's virtue poses in a Wheel where so much injustice goes unnoticed let alone unpunished.

Prudence lies under a moon that pierces through the stable caverns and roiling waves of cloud that make up the layer. The shadows of this place play out all sorts of scenes where one must choose, under the supervision of archons, the wisest course of action. At times while being shuffled from one lesson to the next by archons one might be struck by lightning, the effect of which is a sudden rush of memories that are not your own but yet deeply personal. These are possible lives you didn't, up till this moment, experience. The archons hope these perspectives drawn from the Plane of Time will speed up your acquiring of wisdom. The archons of this layer are tricksters of sorts, because they will at times test you with situations where taking a seeming virtue to extremes leads to disaster. For example it might be necessary to tell a lie to prevent the murder of children, or withhold one's mercy to prevent a fiend from hatching some new scheme to unleash evil on the Prime. On this layer you might dream of a woman holding a mirror accompanied by a serpent, and the wise will ask for her for aid in the acquiring of Wisdom.

Fortitude is a layer where hardships are a certainty. The clouds of this place form trenches and mountains, with gravity bending to offer harsh precipitation from varied directions. For example hail might fall upward, or if you're in a valley the rain might fall onto you from both your left and your right. Lightning strikes abound, though rather than causing permanent injury this electricity causes your body to become disjoint from your will in different ways (muscle contractions, paralysis of limbs, temporary blindness, etc), The archons here will find ways to test your endurance, as well as ways to build it up. Many schools here are dedicated to different aspects of building one's own fortitude, so much so one can gain magical and psionic resistance as well as put on some muscle and walk on hot coals. The power Jazirian resides on Uroboros, doing his/her own part to test those who seek to grow this virtue in themselves. Dreamers here might imagine themselves as salmon swimming upstream. Upon waking the memory of your resilience in that form will build your confidence that you can possess that spiritual strength in your waking existence.

Valor is a jungle of plants which make their roots in the clouds, akin to the flora you'd find adapted to the Elemental Plane of Air on Multiverse Prime. The archons here are concerned with encouragement of courage. To this end they employ Beasts of Legend they have turned toward the Good, along with less prestigious creatures such as lawful good Observers and the T'uen'rin who are taking a break from fighting Evil beyond the borders of Paradise. But of course not all courage is that of facing physical conflict, so one should expect to act in the expectation of shame or financial hardship among other costs to action. One can stand in awe (and even many residents do) as the dwarven petitioners of Mount Clangeddin march out to battle against the forces of Evil, choosing Oblivion over the comforts of their well earned rest. The archon cities of Soqed Hezi, the City of Swords, and the dusty plain of Arvenna are found here as well. While here you'll dream a series of dreams of a bird defending your nest against a serpent or wildcat. Sometimes you drive off the predator, sometimes you die but your mate comes and raises the eggs when they hatch, sometimes you die and the eggs are devoured.

Humility is a layer of small farms and orchards, its soil resting on the flattened clouds. At times, when the archons are not about, one might even forget one is not on Prime land until one looks into the depths of a clear lake and sees the truth once more. The archons encourage one to join in the hard honest work done here, patiently realizing the importance of placing yourself no higher than the humble souls of this plane. Dreamers here will be given audience with a great whirlwind of fire, a Silver Flame, that shines with glory. You realize this is the Pillar supporting all Creation upon this Wheel, perhaps even beyond it, the Great Love that moves the Sun and other Stars, the Divine Light that sustains everything Good in your life.

Certain sites on this plane exist on multiple layers. Familiar to many Wheelwalkers is the Palace of Bahamut which exists on Patience, Fortitude, Humility. The Platinum Dragon is playing a dangerous game as he has apparently warned the archons of times when the Draconic Prophecy might cause great suffering and allow for great evils to be furthered.

The great Black Pool from which Busen arise exists on Valor and Patience. Formian Mound exists, like Bahamuts palace, on Patience, Fortitude, and Humility. The Zoveri coral city of Nereus exists on Compassion, Mercy, Valor.

The Mountain Tree

In the heavens there is a mountain called Olympus, whose cloud shrouded peaks stretch out in all directions for this mountain is a sphere lying at the center of an air-filled darkness thick with stars. And from this mountain grows a tree called Ysgard whose branches stretch out in all directions in a manner akin to the way rays of light extend from a star. In the center of the mountain, within tangle of roots from which Ysgard was born, lairs the draconic goddess Aasterinian. The divine brass dragon when not off playing pranks on lawful beings, wandering wherever her brief attention span takes her, or serving as the Messenger of Io in person, sleeps here. It's said that she travels in dreams to converse with Deep Dragons themselves slumbering in the hollow cores of Prime Worlds, assuring them that Io still watches over his children.

Oceanus revolves around the mountains, running up into peaks as a glacier and descended down into canyons exposing the root work of Ysgard. The river is quite wild here, so visitors using that planar current should beware of the possible sudden shift in Oceanus' temperament. There are places where the river divides into rivulets and gentle streams, and where these in turn empty into ponds and lakes are where the spirits and nymphs of water, trees, and mountains meet. While Ysgardian dryad-valkeries gather here in abundance they are found in other parts of the great tree as well, using Oceanus & the tree's interaction with planar currents of wind to collect the souls of the valiant and virtuous dead.

The conjunction of Ysgard and Olympus is also where the Greco-Nordic pantheon dwell, the descendants of the mingling of two pantheons thought by many graybears and chant brokers to lie now in the Ossuary of the Forgotten Gods. Having survived the death of their parental lines has left some of these young gods determined to enjoy the sacrifice of their parents by taking on their passionate natures as an inheritance (though with greater regard for the rights of others), while others look to the Morirai and Norns who reside where this plane conjoins with the Temporal Prime and wonder if a Fated end haunts them as well. Most of the gods make their realms on the surface of the mountain-sphere or on the initial branchings of Ysgard, but there are underground places for the halls Hades once ruled and the dark elves who once dwelled in halls collectively referred to as Niðavellir.

As this is plane celebrates Freedom and Passion, it also birthed the eladrin to guard against either the exercise of malice or the harming of others through callous disregard. It is for this reason that Morwel continually wars against the hated obyrith and the fiendish races conjured by Pale Night, Apomps, and the Chrysalis Prince. Recently she is also concerned with the actions of the mortal sects on the other two Upper Planes who seem to deny souls a choice of moving toward the Good. The other celestials born here are the asuras, and they are often seen darting about in service to some power or another. A myriad of foo-creatures also exist, many of them animals from the Outer Wyld who gained sentience and ending up choosing to serve a good aligned power.

The branching out of Ysgard represents a myriad of opportunities for exploration. Some branches lead to suns necklaced by planets that necklaced by moons. Other branches lead to the realms of varied powers such as the Celtic Pantheon and the Seelie Court along with good aligned powers of winged creatures or Nature. Or one might find a branch where each leaf is home to a different school of art, a branch where the ratatosks kingdoms living on sub-branches are engaged in a trade war with bariaurs on Olympus, a frost covered branch where the immoth dwell that extends out into a darkness where the stars fade while echoes of every word spoken come to a frozen end, and even a rumored branch that crosses into the mysterious Dreamlands.

Petitioners, natives, and oftentimes visitors here will take the call to Freedom not just as a call to travel but also personal experimentation. The fruits of Ysgard and the fungi that can found growing on it can be used to make a variety of intoxicants and other substances, with the eladrin ensuring all imbibing is done as safely as possible for one's self and others who might come to harm by your inebriated hand. Others look at the body as well as the mind, altering themselves with tattoos and piercings but also more radical transformations such as putting one's brain in a mechanical body, undeath, or trading the breathing of air for water (or vice versa). These alterations are sometimes done by individuals, but the branches also lead to communities that have embraced particular changes in accordance with a shared view of life. These communities might also have their own means of currency, with some influenced by the remnants of the Communals or Ring Givers while others score reputations in tandem with bartering.

sciborg2
Offline
Last seen: 1 week 13 hours ago
Joined: 2005-07-26 19:14
65. Sigil, The Sunken City

65. Sigil, The Sunken City (Part V, concerning the Planes of Evil)

Lower Planes

The Yochlol Ooze, the Plane Primordial from which the Lower Planes arise, is thought to be a sentience unto itself. This, however, is a claim based largely on the faith of the fiends, looking into the eyes of the ooze and seeing what appears to be self-awareness, and the ravings of the previously sane who had attempted telepathic contact. What we do know is the demonesses (each called a yochlol) that separate and return to the Ooze are sentient, and that they come as heralds supposedly expressing the will of the Ooze. Their appearance gives even the Elder Obyrith pause, despite the fact they are not especially powerful in comparison to an archfiend. For a fiend to kill a yochlol is to invite the emnity of all fiendish kind, and beyond that one's self or at least what is valued by that fiend becomes a priority target for the bebilith. (Given the emnity of bebilith for tanar'ri in general, some yugoloths joke that the Ooze made the evil spiders as a critique of Dwiergus's work.)

Each of the Lower Planes possesses a sky dark for lack of sunlight, though daylight does exist in special cases. Tso ride the planar wind currents connecting the night skies, moving between the Lower Planes and the non-Upper Planes to manage their trafficking of goods (primarily slaves).

In addition to the usual backstabbing nature of their kind, another cause for paranoia among the fiends is the knowledge that Astral Devas work as deep cover agents among them.

Digging into the surface of any of the Lower Planes leads to various body parts of dubious to incredible value for alchemical regents and grafts. This has led to certain communities from the Mountain Tree engaging in clandestine trade with the Lower Planes, even knowing the wrath of the eladrin will fall upon them.

It is also from this "mining" that Dwiergus, Pale Night, and Apomps created (with the assistance of their Sybirex courts) the races of Tanar'ri, Yugoloth, and Demodands respectively.

Horror's Hide

This is where the waxy organic liquid of the Yochlol Ooze becomes a plain of variegated bodily surfaces beneath which lie all sorts of innards. The Hide is a wild patchwork of furs, scales, chitins, and skins pocked with orifices, eyes, ears, mouths, noses, arms, wings, tentacles, and so on. This leads to ground-born dangers such as beholder eyes shooting their rays into the sky, simpathetics born from eggs continually coming out from orifices in the "ground", mouths singing siren songs, orifices releasing all sorts of foul spoor. Coming here while pregnant and breathing in the tainted atmosphere makes it likely to give birth to an alu-fiend or cambion, conceiving a child here ensures it.

There's also the ground weather that comes and goes, which includes emerging spikes of bone, sprouting vargouille heads, suddenly appearing nostrils that exhale a swarm of belkers. Sometimes there are patterns to this weather, but you'd be a fool to trust in any kind of seeming predictability in this place. At times the sky has storms along with a variety of suns wandering about bringing randomized daylight to the Hide.

Mining deeply into the innards of the Hide carries an additional risk of being attackied by the creation of akilith born from the release of demonic ichor from the wounds. This might come about in its gaseous form or as a geyser of its form as acidic slime. These tanar'ri are born insane and will fight to the death, though if they manage to kill those organ miners responsible for their fledgling consciousness existing they'll suddenly become more tractable.

As Dwiergus made the tanar'ri from this place, they have a special loyalty to the obyrith and to this plane. While they are Dwiergus's directly fashioned children, the Chrysalis Prince is also responsible for the seeding of this plane with a special infection that causes the Hide to continually gestate and give birth to hordlings.

Plains of Bone
This plane is a surface of largely flat bone stretching across the infinity, periodically broken up by a kind of "cancerous" growths that are the exoskeletons of inveterbrae like the shells of lobsters or the empty shells of cicada nymphs. These exoskeletons at times break off and wander about, taking an unlife of their own. Rarer are the odd orifices in the bone from wastrels mysteriously and continuously emerge. The depths you have to go to to strike something other than bone varies - some mines extend across the surface of the plane while others are deeper than the highest peaks of Olympus. Bumps in the plain of varied sizes exist in the bone. When cracked open they reveal pulsating brain matter. It's believe this is where loumara, the demons of dream, come from. Skeletons of different creatures will arise, and these packs will try to hunt down "matches" for each other. This involves slaughtering the match, wearing its skin and stuffing its organs into the undead being. The undead sometimes then, for a time, becomes a doppleganger of the victim with perfect memories. Other times the memories will be a patchwork, or the skin won't fit right or the organs will just rot in the skin suit. The undead being, however, always acts as if its assumption of the victim's identity was perfect.

It's likely visitors will be accosted by night hags riding nightmares, the latter's burning hooves marking the ground as the former hunt for souls (petitioners-preferably-as-larva or visitors) they can snatch up to feast upon. The hags each are dedicated to a particular coven, and wear a helmet cast as a fiendish countenance based on their coven's chosen animal. (Wolf, Bat, Serpent, Cat, Boar, Frog, and Goat are the strongest covens at present.). Thus few know what these night hags look like, for they usually have coven-backed contingencies to teleport away if the helm is loosened. (This naturally leads to tall tavern tales where fools claim the "hag" is a beautiful maiden they wooed to share their bed for a night.) Inside the city-sized bowl of a skull's top half turned upside down lairs the hag goddess Cegilune, and the night hags are her loyal daugthers whose hunts always cross back to this realm for the sake of paying larval tributes. As the goddess' realm is where the night hags ("hags"?) must set aside coven rivalries and oaths of vengeance, many of their kind come here to safely engage in another kind of hunt - the dream stalking of mortals who escaped their clutches on this plane. (This is an interesting difference from Multiverse Prime, where the hags bodily enter the ethereal to hunt those who escape their clutches.)

In a network of caves carved and conditioned by her many breath weapons, Tiamat has created a place suitable for herself, her followers, her five Consorts, her offspring, and of course her hoard. As a divine power she's turned the muscle and organ beneath the bone into a convenient larder for her peoples. Unlike Bahamut she is quite happy to enforce the Prophecy especially when it leads to the suffering of the "lesser" races, the problem is her hunger for cruelty endangers that very scripture's Fulfillment. She has invited reprisals against dragonkind that includes the dismemberment of a Deep Dragon and ongoing imprisonment of one of Aasterianin's avatars, yet chastisement by the rest of Io's divine brood acting in concert (once even the loss of her redhead) never truly disciplines her appetite for evil.
A respite from the horrors of this plane is a Pillar of Skulls that sing a strange song as the wind passes through them. No evil being seems able to stand the singing, even the whispering echo of it causing their forms to begin to break down. Who placed it here, and whose skulls those are, remains a mystery.

A site that the fiends can approach but usually will not is Twelve Tree, a protrusion of bone as tall as ancient sequoia but only having twelve "branches" which are really spikes emerging along its length. Because of some planar conjunction/disjunction - many claim it was the Fall of Sigil that Was - the layers of protection utilized by twelve Astral Devas was undone. The fiend races brought the twelve here and impaled them on the spines, keeping them alive while inviting anyone to come and witness the breaking of the bravest servants of the heavens. Naturally the celestials launched an attack, but the fiends had decided they would make a stand for the punishment of these twelve devas. This led to an escalation where powers of both Good and Evil brought their resources into the fray, and those who believed themselves to be in the service of Evil as a force made pilgrimages here, as over time the sounds of the tortured devas falling to despair, madness, and at times even anger at their service to the heavens echoed over the battlefield. At great cost the devas were not rescued but at least given the peace of Oblivion. The deaths of fiends, celestials, proxies, and millions of other lives along with all the forces unleashed in that war stained the area of this place. Wild magic surges abound, insane wraiths born from fallen evils angrily attack anyone but especially fiends, the din of a battle long past threatens to deafen anyone approaching the "tree". Worst of all parts of the plain slip partially into the past, and the threat of being crushed amidst the battling time ghosts is ever present.

=-=-=

It was upon this plane that the incorporeal Pale Night descended deep into the plane, and when she rose the Baernoloths rose with her. These Thirteen archfiends then worked to conjure up a spine out of the Plain, an echo of the one that once held up Sigil that Was. From this Tower of Khin-Oin they began to make the rest of the yugoloth race, all in honor of their Mother, all for the promise of Union with her...which is why they are so despondent that there has been no communication with the Elder Obyrith since before the City of Doors fell. This in turn has made them quite curious about the Lady's new form and its resemblance to their Mother, yet as archfiends they are barred from the city as are all Powers. So to learn more they've dispatched an archnoloth to Sigil that Is, one of the craftiest of their creations named Shemeska the Marauder.

Arctic Sanguine

A largely frozen realm of blood and ichors like those that run through the veins of creatures across the Wheel. Sometimes these fluids are blended, other times you can have a long stretch of - for example - purely draconic blood or even the blood of only a particular kind of dragon (which naturally plays a role in the Prophecy). A few places the blood is acidic, poisonous, or carries other magical or just biological dangers. Unlike the Plains of Bone and Horror's Hide, digging into this plane only brings out veins, arteries, capillaries, and hearts. (The last usually brings about the most value on the interplanar markets, especially the "mine" that has consistently offered up hearts of the varied giant races for over a thousand years.) One might think this place would be a vampire's idea of Paradise, but imbibing the blood here often risks varieties of illness and madness even for the undead. Only in a few areas is the blood fit for consumption or transfusion without some form of magical treatment. Some areas give blood that intoxicates or causes hallucinations, allowing the demodands to have a stake in the planar drug trade. Creatures one might expect on Multiverse Prime's Elemental Plane of Ice, though the ones here are tainted by their connection to the plane and thus crueler and pettier - for example frost salamanders prefer to play with their victims before eating them. Legend says an undead vampiric version of Cryonax, gone mad from continually imbibing the blood of this place, wanders the less explored regions of this place.

The weather here is tumultuous though there are wandering patches of overcast daylight, which seem to have a mysterious silver sun behind the cloud cover. The rest of the plane lies under the cover of night expected on the Lower Planes. Blizzards, snowfall, and hailstones of varied size are to be expected, with the frozen blood carrying the same dangers as that of the rest of the plane to afflict the unprotected.

Similar to the skeletons arising out of the Plain of Bones, circulatory systems float menacingly in packs. These are usually more akin to comedic pests than genuine threats, though every so often they in their low cunning manage to kill someone. Then they try to, using shards of frozen ice, messily remove that bodies circulatory system so they can replace it. If they succeed they can animate the bodily ruin for a few hours, but only once in a thousand tries might they successfully achieve the status of doppleganger.

Falazure the Night Dragon has a realm crafted out of dark vein blood, an oddly temperate place where frozen ice serves as the banks for sanguine rivers wherein which shadowdrakes swim. Because the insatiable dragon god continually requires life force to sustain itself few would dare to come here without good reason which means visitors are usually dragons concerned about the Prophecy.

Another notable god is Kanchelsis, the god of vampires born from the blood magic of the Seladrine, whose realm lies beneath a lake made of pure elven blood. Upon the surface of this lake powerful vampires have made their own dwellings - because they have a potentially infinite food supply these beings and their servants are less likely to see visitors as meals. Rather the vampire lords are hospitable, seeing in guests an opportunity to stay abreast of planar politics.

The Elder Obyrith Apomps the Triple Aspected came here to create his own race of fiends. He gathered varied bloods and ichors of this place, digging deep to find the circulatory systems and hearts he desired for his Craft. For the flesh of his demodands he used the most loyal member of his Sybirex Court, one who loved Apomps enough to give its life willingly. This was how the demodands, those fiends who share in each other's experience, who are Memory moving through Corpses, were born.

Demiplane of Hell (rumored)

Beyond the far shores of the Lower Planes, deep in the primordial Yochlol Ooze from which Evil arises, it's said the upstart obyrith Asmodeus toils to craft his own race as well as what he hopes will become an infinite Lower Plane. Unsatisfied with the races his elders had created, disgusted with the chaotic patchwork of the three Perditions, Asmodeus dreamed of a place where souls would be tormented according to the wages of their sins, where every torment would be a proper place and follow a poetic albeit twisted logic. This place would be overseen by a fiendish race driven by a compulsive need toward Order, even as the emptiness within them would cause them to upset the machinery of their own society with betrayals and treachery. These fiends would hope to cure their own sense of nihilism by climbing a meaningless ladder of ascension toward some seemingly ultimate form. And thus they would be the Ultimate Joke.

No one is sure this place actually exists, though every so often one has run into a fiend not of the other races, creatures who call themselves baatezu.

sciborg2
Offline
Last seen: 1 week 13 hours ago
Joined: 2005-07-26 19:14
65. Sigil, The Sunken City

65. Sigil, The Sunken City (Part VI, concerning the Transliminal Planes, the Inner Planes, and Prime)

The Transliminal Planes

Dreamlands

It's not clear the Dreamlands are a place in the usual sense. There aren't any (known) portals here, and the only way one seems to be able to enter is via astral projection, shamanic dreamwalking, and similar magics and practices. One might simply say that all that happens is the connecting of minds save for the inconvenient facts of those who claim to have traveled here and the beings - like the ones dreamers encounter in the Nine Paradises - that claim to live here.

There also seems to be more to this place than just the landscapes of a particular person's dream - kingdoms, wildernesses, cities and so on working by their own particular logic akin to the odd way things seem oftentimes in dreams. The draconic god of the fairy dragons Nathair Sgiathach also has his realm here, seeking out those places beyond the minds of dreamers where this strange place might give some knowledge of the Prophecy. Aasterinian will often visit with him in her sleep, sometimes for matters of importance but often to plan where their avatars might play the best pranks on the beings of Law and Balance. (Because of the latter one finds their avatars visiting the Concentric Dance quite often.)

A sect known as the Idealists, known to others as the Sleepers or Sleepyheads, often visits the Dreamlands via dream journeying. They believe that in fact all reality is a kind of dream, that all that exists is mental. Masters of lucid dreaming and varied magics relating to sleep and dream, they offer services related to protection from entities like night hags & assisting in unified dreaming so beings might communicate across great distances or verifying someone means them no harm. Rumor has it some members of the faction engage in the practice of implanting suggestions into dreaming minds, the forbidden art of Inception...

One of the great dangers of this place are creatures known as dream larvae, who like other abominations are thought to be weapons crafted-sired by the Forgotten Gods in whatever conflict it was that left their bones in the Divine Ossaury. Thankfully set against them are the Astral Dreadnoughts, though little is known about these shepherds besides the fact that they come to aid of the dream lost.

The Forking Paths of Time

"Here now the Hour comes. Past is Prologue. Cry to Dream again!"
-Slogan for production of the Tempest

When first arriving here it will seem to be a plane where glowing rosy sand tumbles down in flowing pillars from impossible, unseen heights of a sky caught in perpetual twilight. However as one walks one begins to see increasingly substantial but ever incorporeal scenes of figures that resemble oneself. These, the descendants of those chronomancers who once made Sigil that Was their home, are alternate presents, pasts, and futures. It's usually said that in this place possibilities have their own kind of reality, waiting to be actualized the procession of real events occurring across this Wheel. The Descendants of the Future sect, however, dare to suggest that whole runs of possibilities are actualized spontaneously at different rates which in turn result in the Present being the soil from which alternate timelines grow. It apparently was possible to travel between these timelines, which resulted in them going to war and chronomancers returning back to what was the present of Sigil that Was to escape that conflict.

With the Fall of Sigil That Was all those timelines have now, apparently, been disintegrated, reduced back to mere possibilities in the piles of rosy sand. The Descendants of the Future - usually called Clock Watchers - believe mastery of Time is mastery over all reality, and believe they can resurrect the timelines from which their elders hailed but also put a stop to the foolish war that caused them to flee into the past in the first place. They just need to undo the Fall of Sigil.

Do alternate futures all existing at once support or deny the idea of Fate? The Fatebreakers aren't sure themselves, and so have begun to place agents in the social and business circles in which the chromomancers dwell. A group of rogue celestials who wish to find a way to cut the horrifying events surrounding the Tree of Twelve Branches from the current timeline are also keeping tabs on this sect.

One of the dangers of this place are the abominations known as Phanes, for just as the Forgotten Gods apparently seeded living weapons in Dream they also did so in Time. Thankfully these beings recognize their ability to destroy almost any enemy that crosses their path, and so they are more interested in schemes that can elevate them to true godhood. In this they also recognize the need for discretion, as most pantheons would be only too happy to destroy what are believed to malicious remnants of a prior age.

While not usually a threat it can be unnerving to run into avatars of the Chronepsis, the Dragon God of Time. The god seeks to understand why the Propehcy still believes Sigil that Was has not sunken. The avatar may converse with others, especially Clock Watchers, but will not reveal what caused Sigil to Fall or any secrets of dragonkind. Every now and then the avatar will, however, give useful advice to chronomancers seeking to improve their craft.

Inner Planes

Spirit Realm

This realm parallels the Prime, and exists in a mutually symbiotic relationship with it. Not only is this plane the birth place of Devourers, Ungulosin, Kami, and other spirits the actions on the Prime can result in the birth of varied spirits. For example the site of a great battle on the Prime might result in the birth of war spirits, who in will seek to engender wars so that they might feed off the conflicts. This will then likely create more war spirits...

Because of this feedback loop powers send of their strongest proxies to this plane, so god aligned demi-realms dot the landscape. While Prime is a Rainbow Ocean of phlogiston in which float crystal spheres, the Spirit Realm has spheres of ice floating in an Ethereal Sea.

Plane of Shadows

"We Dragon-sages make a distinction between the Two Voids; the First Void, wherein only Io had existence, and the Shadow Void, where Io's willingly shed blood created the potential for existence and creation to come into being. Most non-dragon races only know of the Shadow Void..."
-Monster Mythology

At the center of this plane exist three interlocking dragons of Positive Energy, recalling the three Lights of Concordance in the Concentric Dance. These Positive Energy dragons - the only ones known of upon this Wheel - are asleep, and perhaps have always been so. Their light shines out, intermingling with the Negative Energy filling the Void around them. As one gets closest to the dragons there's an overwhelming flow of Positive Energy, and in the outer reaches there is largely just Negative Energy. In between, in what seems to be a vast (infinite?) expanse where Positive and Negative Energy alchemically mix, is the Plane of Shadows. There is much debate about what the three dragons are. Some see them as avatars of Io, others as favored or cursed children who will awaken at the End of All Things. Some even suggest that they were god-children who predated Bahamut, Tiamat, & Falazure but were placed here as punishment...while others dare to claim they will supplant those three for failing to put their own desires beneath the fulfillment of the Prophecy.

The plane is ruled over by shadow dragons, their will enforced by the undead who've fallen to them and risen as spectres. They are not cruel masters, in fact they are rather aloof unless events on the plane relate to the Prophecy. This allows the shadow fey and shadow giants to control most of the day to day running of trade and travel on the plane, the latter being one of the major reasons to come here as the connection between shadows makes for some of the shortest planar currents on this Wheel. These beings by necessity will bend over backwards for dragons who visit this place in holy pilgrimage, as draconic Initiation Schools see the entire plane as a tool for greater communion with the One who is Io.

Prime

As noted above the Prime here has great similarities to the structure found on Multiverse Prime. A major difference, however, concerns the Elemental Essences. Wildspace is the territory of the Void Elementals and their dark, usually unseen kingdoms. Where fools or victims have caused incredibly large conflagrations in the phlogiston one might palaces of flame in which fire elementals dwell. And upon the worlds of Prime one finds all sorts of elemental creatures such as animentals, fundamentals, frost salamanders, fire bats, khagra, ravids, grue, and in tandem sentient species such as ruvkova, tsnng, genies, sylphs, pechs, undine, salamanders and mephits. These many examples are mentioned to give a sense of how the ecology of these worlds might be affected - evolution results in the survival of those creatures who can hope to compete which such varied flora and fauna that would be on the Elemental Planes in Multiverse Prime.

This also why the Primes have such devotion to the powers, for it is the gods who clear a space for their disadvantaged worshipers to build civilizations or even just exist. Many clerics, instead of having powers relating to the undead, are able to rebuke or "turn" elemental beings. The treatment of genasi and elemental sorcerer bloodlines varies across the worlds and within them. In some places they are seen as cursed, in others blessed, and in many possibly just useful to their peoples.

sciborg2
Offline
Last seen: 1 week 13 hours ago
Joined: 2005-07-26 19:14
65. Twilight of Mammals and

65. Twilight of Mammals and Birds

This Wheel has no human or demi-humans races, and even very few mammals and birds. Rather the climate of the worlds (and often of the planes) is suited to reptiles and amphibians (the Lower Planes being the exception as they are usually more uncomfortable for such creatures). The sentient races of the world are scaly folk found in other worlds, with a vastly increased number of saurials (bladebacks, finheads, flyers, and hornheads).

An interesting relationship exists between dragons and dragonkin. Male dragons are essentially only as smart as animals and live only for a century or so. Females aren't much smarter, but have a minimal capacity for language and reason. However females give birth to dragons and dragonkin. As empaths and telepaths the female dragons direct their new family toward working in concert, with the dragons serving as a guardian and pet for the dragonkin. The dragonkin then can read the racial memory of their kind via a telepathic relationship with their mother and come to understand how to build a civilization. Over time the dragons will then usually leave to start the cycle anew. This collection of species has no gods but many druids and elemental clerics.

Gods that represent races in decline like the kuo-toa instead oversee peoples at the apex of their civilizations. Sleeping (and arguably dying gods) like Ramenos or insane ones like Blibdoolpoolp on Multiverse Prime are instead major players in the Cosmic Game of this Wheel.

Exemplars here have forms akin to the ones of Multiverse Prime, so of course they are often seen as disgusting or at least utterly bizarre by the peoples of this reality. Folktales tell of incubi and succubi taking on their true (beautiful to human) forms after sleeping with their victims but instead cast this as the moment of horror. Scriptures speak of the aasimon as beings of bizarre shapes representing the ultimate distance between the Divine and mere mortals.

The greatest empire of this Wheel belongs to the nagas and their plane spanning dominance. In fact they see themselves as advancing civilization bridling not just mortal waywardness but also the extremism of the exemplars. They extend citizenship to all sentients, and allow for elections of overseers. They don't (yet?) have the power to completely dominate the Outer or Inner Planes but the might of their goddess Shekinester and the cunning of her son Parrafaire has enabled them to establish control over the Gate Towns along with extending the empire around the Court of Light on the Outlands. One advantage the naga empire has here is that most of the major gods have been brought into a kind of Imperial Pantheon, and that most of the reptilian and amphibious gods are not on the Upper or Lower Planes, or even on Limbo or Mechanus. In fact those planes are largely bereft of gods, and the Slaad Lords of Limbo are likely to reach an agreement with Parrafaire in the next century or so. A potential shift in this situation is the slow arrival of mortals ascending to godhood - the most recent to our knowledge being the saurial hornhead Xverx become a demipower of mercy on Elysium. These gods may not wish for their people to serve in the naga empire.

One older deity that does reside in Mount Celestia is Jarizan the couatl god. Couatls themselves are oddities, their feathers marking them as a blending of that which is reptilian with the "mere animals" (some would say vermin) that are the birds. Add this to the fact that couatls are often unruly subjects if they submit to imperial rule at all. Perhaps worst of all they often encourage rebellion among the simian slaves. Thus you have a potential conflict that could spread through worlds as well as the Outer Planes.