Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses II

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sciborg2
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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:

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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.

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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 a 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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...

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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66. Twilight of Mammals and

66. 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 in M-Prime 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 became 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.

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67. Eco Eterna

67. Eco Eterna

The Inner Planes here are the Elemental Chaos and the Environments born from it that are then found on the Prime. Thus we have the Infinite Lands - the Planes of Forest, Jungle, Desert, Artic, Grasslands, Ocean, and Swamp. These Infinite Lands hold creatures that would've occurred across a Prime world's history. Elemental creatures make their homes here as well.

On the Prime the manifestation of regions is largely based not on factors predictable by scientific knowledge of the sun and planet but instead on the overlapping of the Infinite Lands with the Prime. As such one can have a freezing tundra sharply bordering a burning desert. A forest of pines could have a seeming lake in its center that is actually as deep as the oceans. Some worlds are such a patchwork of environments that life on the surface is made of those few creatures that could survive such extreme shifts, and civilization is limited to the Underdark.

Because temperatures are determined by the crossover with a particular Infinite Land, rather than the sun, the suns of this Wheel don't give off much heat and just provide illumination. These suns are then homes for a variety of beings connected to light, with some even being hollow inside and containing their own worlds intersecting with the Infinite Lands.

The Outer Planes are similar to those on M-Prime, but each only has layers corresponding to the Infinite Lands. There are only 3 Upper Planes (LG, NG, CG) and 3 Lower (LE, NE, CE). The Neutral Planes similarly have layers corresponding to the Infinite Lands. On Mechanus flora and fauna are more orderly and akin to the flesh/metal nature of Modrons while on Limbo every environment shifts between different conditions in an Infinite Land. For example a Jungle would shift the trees, and a tiger hunting you could shift to a rhino or something like a crocodile with gazelle feet. These shifts themselves are not always occurring, as that would be too predictable.

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68. Angels East of Eden

68. Angels East of Eden

"Oh they turn their heads, embarrassed
Pretend that they don't see
That it's one misstep, one slip, before you know it
And there doesn't seem a way to be redeemed

Though I've tried, I've fallen
I have sunk so low
I messed up
Better I should know"
-Sarah Mclachlan, Fallen

"I will remain my love, and help you change your world."
"No, not the whole world. Only villains do that. The rest of us take it one person at a time."
-Brian K Vaughn, Runaways

I'm sure you've heard rumors of the Bringing on various Wheels, the rumored magical act of the Baatezu that will ensure the destruction of the Tanar'ri and win them the Blood War. Well on Parallel 68 the celestials, grown weary of the eternal conflict between Good & Evil, tried something similar with regards to the races of fiends entire. And it also seems to have involved lots of larvae as a magical component.

It didn't work, not completely. But given they committed an act of great Evil - even if in service to the Good - they found themselves sliding right out of the Upper Planes and don't seem to be allowed to return. None of the celestials extant at the time of their attempt at the Bringing are allowed into any of the Upper Planes. There are new celestials slowly making themselves known, worthy petitioners of the newly dead, but they are too few and too green to truly serve as the representation of the Good in the Multiverse.

Petitioners appearing on the Upper Planes arrive without guidance, save if they served a Power with enough devotion in life. In fact many Powers of Good have expanded their territories to fill the void left by angelkind. However much of the Upper Planar cities and homes of the celestials remain empty - even the gods worry about the Judgement enacted by the Heavens entire.

Mount Celestia has an influx of confused lantern archons on Lunia, as no one is there to assist in the Ascent. Elyisum's layer Belierin has been corrupted due to the trapped Evils here being unleashed due to the lack of upkeep on guardinal binding magic as well as fiends seizing the opportunity. Most expect it to slide into the Outlands soon enough, along with the entirety of the Beastlands. That latter plane is currently being contested by good gods and races still there and varied druids and Animal Lords who prefer the plane come to Neutrality and possibly Chaos if they can manage it. Arcadia and Ysgard also seem to be heading toward Neutrality (LN & CN respectively), though the Powers seem to feel they might still salvage those two.

Among the fallen celestials themselves, a variety of responses have been observed after they scattered themselves across the Wheel to avoid wars with the Modron, Rilmani, and Slaad. Many went mad, many decided to complete their Fall and now serve Evil, others decided to serve varied LN/TN/CN Powers, others still seek to try for the Bringing again in hopes of making their own exile worthwhile if the forces of Evil are completely wiped out. Shekinester, who lives on the Outlands but has a Good (& Neutral & Evil) Aspect, also become popular with many Fallen who've begun to contemplate whether they can ever truly defeat Evil.

Too few have sought to seek redress, trying to return to the good graces of the Upper Planes by doing good works across the planes just as they once did before the foolish decision to attempt the Bringing. Of course there were those who opposed that course of action or at least abstained, and many of those believe that punishing their own kind is the key to the Return. The new celestials aren't sure what to do about their fallen forebears. Some see them as tainted, too corrupt to lead the Innocent while others believe that without the council of their elders they will not be able to properly preserve that which is Good. the Multiverse.

As for the fiends and the Lower Planes, they were decimated as the Bringing was not a total failure. All of their establishments on the first layer of each Lower Plane were destroyed. The yugoloth towers are also shattered, and the legs of the Crawling City are boneless and so unable to move that fortress of the General of Gehenna. The first layer of the Abyss has come to match the ash, dust, and snow of Pelion along with having the portals to the other layers close up. Avernus is a cold place of dead stone. The demodands emerged largely unscathed. All the Baern are thought to have tasted Oblivion, along with the first four Lords of Nine and many Abyssal Lords and Rakshasa Royalty.

Many other locations in the Lower Planes are shattered or burned out, and many fiends were destroyed. Ravages, those afflictions of Good that target evil beings, are rampant. The non-sentient fauna and flora have largely gone mad and turned on the fiends. The evil gods have thus spread their influence further, in some cases going to war with the remaining fiends.

The Lady of Pain has barred all fiends and celestials from the City of Doors.

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69. Wheel of Darkness

69. Wheel of Darkness

Sigil's night, which takes up slightly over half of its diurnal cycle, is marked by a moon with her accompanying stars that is above the torus. While the city seems to be run by the guilds and factions of M-Prime, whispers abound about a cabal of vampire clans which runs things behind the scenes. It is true that vampires seem rather too common upon this Wheel, and too often seem to have ties to commerce across planes and worlds. Where you once might have found a neogi, tso, arcane, or mercane on M-prime you'll likely find vampires or their servants. The vampires here seem to believe they had achieved some mysterious state of Grace that was then snatched from them as this Wheel was recreated. As such the Dustmen swell with their ranks, given Skall's promise of True Death.

The circle of the Outer Planes, also called the "Astral Umbra" or "Astral Reaches", consists of realities that include a variety of planes dedicated to Good (called the Heavens), Evil (called the Hells), Law (called Dreams of the Weaver), unbridled Freedom (called Dreams of the Wyld), and the pursuit of the Void (called the Dreams of the Wyrm). These Reaches, in addition to representing alignments, also include varied conceptual & archetypal planes for concepts such as Governance, True Love, Crafting, Knowledge, etc. The gods whose domains include particular concepts will have their own realms intersecting these. These planes can be traveled by the River of Language, a path of liquid silvery light winding through the roiling darkness, the Ocean of Our Collective Subconscious, between the planes.

In addition to the conceptual realms are the conceptual Spires. Some are towers, cathedrals, and other buildings made of stone, ice, lead, light and stranger substances besides. Others are mountains, or trees, or the length of a draconic body whose tail and head vanish into the churn of the primordial night. Ascending these spires requires the following of different spiritual or intellectual paths. The greatest spire is the jet black pillar of infinite length whose apex can be seen but no one known has ever reached. And above the top of this spire floats the torus of Sigil.

Closer to the Prime one approaches the Spirit World which is also called the "Middle Umbra", which represents those domains that tie into Substance. A great wilderness, akin to the Beastlands and the wilds of the Outlands, encompasses the Elemental Courts and the gods of such things as Hunting, Farming, Storms, Seas, the Underdark, and other domains connected to Life & Nature. Djinn and fey are also exist here, and this is said to be the birthplace of the lycanthrope races as well. The Sun and the Moon(s) of a Prime World here are resplendent beings floating in the sky and looking down upon the infinitely extending lands below.

The lycanthropes - who collectively call themselves the Changing Breeds or Children of the Moon - have a sacred duty to manage the proper natural order of the planes, so that beings exist largely in the planes - or at least the "regions of the Umbra" - they belong to. What is a bit strange about the were-peoples is that they insist they - along with their entire Wheel - are reincarnates following an Apocalypse where Entropy almost swallowed this universe. For this reason they despise the Doomguard and any other entity or organization that claims to serve the aspect of Entropy they call the Wyrm.

The fey, while not familiar with this Apocalypse, also speak of their own exile due to a mysterious enemy called the Banality that drove them into incarnations on the Prime (exiles the Returned Fey call Changelings). Now they hope to rescue more and more of their brethren from their "banal" lives and bring them into full remembrance of their exemplar natures. The Returned Fey also whisper of nightmares hinting at what they believe to be their own origin, that long ago they themselves bargained with the Banality in order to leave an even more magically vibrant realm awash with psychic and positive energy. This realm is called Arcadia, where the Fey Nobility made playthings of their lives. Were all Fey Nobility destroyed when this Wheel was recreated, or do they exist in Arcadia even now seeking their lost toys?

The portion of this Umbral layer closest to the respective Prime worlds is called the Feywild or the "Penumbra". These areas have locations corresponding to those of their respective worlds, though they are flat whereas a world may be round. Events on the worlds can impact the Penumbral regions they border, for example a time of peace and prosperity on the Prime may lead to a fertile meadow with healing properties in the Penumbra.

Traversing the Middle Umbra is done by planar pathways called Airts, Moonpath, and Pattern Webs. Airts are secret paths best found by rangers for they consist of subtle signs like broken twigs, the color of leaves, patterns in the dirt, the cry of ravens. Moonpaths by contrast are paths of misty light can can wind deep into the cavernous depths or rise up to greet the mortai, elemental kingdoms, and even the realms of certain gods. These latter paths are overseen by spirits associated with the moon - also be warned that the lycanthropes feel a certain sense of ownership over these roads and it is also the willingness of moon spirits to accept other travelers that prevents them from enforcing their sense of entitlement. There is believed to be a joining between the Paths of the Moon and the River of Language, representing the Unity of Substance and Thought, but those who know of such things do not speak of this. Arachnid spirits weave the Pattern Web, strands of sticky light that stretch from the Middle Umbra into realms beyond. Some can only be followed by a normal sized demi-human, others can actually be walked upon. Thankfully bargaining with the spider spirits is easier than the moon spirits, the spiders all want to see the furtherance of Order on the Prime without much care for morality or local laws.

Go deep enough in the Penumbra and one finds paths to the Middle Umbra's Underdark and deeper still to the Lower Umbra, where it seems the spirits of the dead reside. Many of these souls seem to sail across an underground ocean to the "Far Shores" from which light can be seen even across the gulf. The Powers claim these dead then arrive to the Outer Planes as petitioners but many - the Prolongers most of all - suspect this is not the case. Those undead who refuse to sail end up as Wraiths, making their way in the Lower Umbra's many, many kingdoms of the dead. One of the great seductions of the Lower Umbra is the odd way its caverns can come kissing close to worlds of the Prime, borderlands called the Shadowpact wherein Wraiths might spy upon and with great difficulty interact with the living.

Even closer to the Prime Worlds than the Penumbra is the Horizon, the barrier between the Prime and the Umbra. This barrier ensures no Power can enter the Prime, no army of exemplars can simply march into the kingdoms of mortals and demand submission. The Horizon is also where the Immortals of Arcana often make their homes, warping the blackness that mirrors Wild Space on a spiritual level into what they desire.

The Immortals of Arcana are not as powerful as, for example, the Immortals of Mystara. It seems they once may have been as strong or stronger, but have gotten caught in a cycle of reincarnation due to the same cataclysm pointed to by the Fey, the Lycanthropes, and the Vampires. Unlike Mystara with its five spheres (Energy, Matter, Thought, Time, Entropy) this Wheel has nine (Matter, Mind, Time, Entropy, Connection/Distance, Primality/Ether, Forces, Spirit, and Life). The Immortals are dedicated to one, or at most two Spheres. They do not use spells like mages or sorcerers, rather they utilize their Will to warp reality itself in accordance with the Sphere(s) over which they have dominion in the way avatars of Powers might do. In fact they refer to the usual magic using professions as "hedge wizards" and see them as (rightfully?) lesser workers of the arcane.

Thankfully there are not too many of these beings, as they all seem to be insane, continuously going on about imaginary friends they call "avatars" that are supposedly also their souls.

The Lady, in Her wisdom, has barred all but the weakest of these Immortals - thus allowing only whose reincarnates who've just Awakened to their nature - from Sigil. This tie between Immortals of Arcana and the City of Doors has led to them having great influence over many factions, for the Immortals see in the faction philosophies fragments of wisdom from the Nine Spheres. The Immortals, in their meddling, have even led to the birth of new sects:

Verbena: Magic tied to Life is the key to the Multiverse. This faction drew in members of the Incantifiers and the Verdant Guild, along with an odd group of "hedge wizard" mages called Preservers from a singular prime world called Athas.

Euthanos: Souls ultimately reincarnate, and even if they don't some people need to be removed so the proper destiny of the Wheel can take its course. Mercykillers closer to the Sodkiller ideal make up a good bit of this sect. Many celestials fed up with the fiends spreading their evil have also joined.

Celestial Chorus: We are all of the One, and to the One we should return by veneration. As the sect encourages people to love the gods as doorways to the greater Divine, this is a popular sect among clerics. Their assertion of unity over dissonance leads many Harmonium to at the least ally with them.

Akashayana: Stressing unity of body and mind, they enjoy a positive relationship with the Ciphers even when the Akashics seek a more cerebral existence that does not necessarily unify thought and action in accordance with the Cadence of the Planes.

Cult of Ecstasy: Overwhelm the senses, alter the consciousness, and you can look beyond the curtain of Time. They get along with the Sensates, at least while partying...discussions of philosophy can reveal stark differences which are difficult enough to deal with when not being hung over...

Society of Dreams: To be whole one must unify the Prime with all the layers of the Umbra...something that only seems possible in dreams. Many shamans come to this path, as well as mystic theurges or anyone who can't help but feel a sense that underneath the seemingly stark division in both Psyche (Consciousness and Subconsciousness) & Reality (Umbral Layers) lies a Unity. The creatures most akin to them are Lycanthropes, for they too seek harmony in inner dreaming and outer spirit journeys.

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70. Inversion

70. Inversion

"O son, how many bodies have we to pass through, how many bands of demons, through how many series of repetitions and cycles of the stars, before we hasten to the One alone?"

-Hermes Trismegistus

You begin in the Center of All, the Primal Spirit, that place where souls are born. At its core is a city called Sigil, the torus that touches all locations across this Wheel. It is a city made for the incorporeal, the weightless in body and cares, or at least those capable of flight. Imagine a spiderweb woven within the inner circumference of a slow spinning ring, and then think if that web was made instead of...not materials themselves...but the spirits of material things. Everything shines in the city, every location a genius loci, a spirit of place, shorn by disaster from the mortal plane but able to exist here in joyous fulfillment of Purpose. The dabus shepherd these spirits, ensuring each is given a proper place or allowed to move on from this existence to...Elsewhere. (Perhaps to once more serve as the spirit of a tavern, a field of wheat, a forest glade?)

There is a Lady in Sigil, but she herself is felt more than seen, a spirit of Spirit, her diaphanous form casting a solid back shadow in which those swallowed up are exiled to the Empty Void those fascinating strangers say lies on the rim of this Wheel.

The Lady is the Love of your Eternal Life.

But, over time, you will be drawn beyond the iridescent dream of this plane of Primal Spirit. Everything is so Perfect, so Tranquil...but what of the Beyond those visitors spoke of? They speak in awe - and by this awe ultimately fail to speak - of encounters with Divinity & Dominion. Neither, the dabus tell you, is able to shine in the Primal Spirit nor allowed to show their Glory within the confines of Sigil.

So you who are curious about these "Powers" - among other things - will make your way, crossing the infinite length of the plane by power of your Purpose, to the edge that borders the Inner Planes of Alignment. Here you will pass through one of 13 vertically floating misty pools, each painted by a different canvas of colors. The cruelty of this Wheel is that you have to pick a path even while Innocent, with only the philosophies and promises of Sigil's visitors to guide you. You, who have yet to eat of that sweetest and bitterest Fruit that is Knowledge.

Are you now an angel? A fiend? Axiomatic, Anarchic...whatever path you chose you now find yourself almost iron-bound to walk. You arrived shorn of memory as the lowest of forms such as lemures, larvae, and light archons. Perhaps you never leave this Inner Ring, or perhaps you rise and become something more - maybe a pitfiend, an ultroloth, or a tome archon. Maybe you retrieve your memories from that Silver Void beyond the Inner Planes of Alignment, maybe you recall that time of purity in the Primal Spirit.

And now you want to go back. But this will not be so easy, for the way is hard and long. To go back you must go forward - the only way out is through.

Thus you push forward, into the Silver Void, and then by your Will set to the Purpose of Return you find yourself drowning, burning, suffocating, disintegrating. Frozen, buffeted, crushed, electrocuted. You become an elemental, forgetting yourself again for a time. Perhaps this is the place where you will spend eternity. Or perhaps you will take on a body of each elemental in turn, dying in that foundational flesh, until finally you are a ghost once more.

But sadly you are a ghost of ether, proto-matter rather than proto-spirit. So you push forward, from the depths of the ethereal ocean you are kin to salmon in Purpose, rising rising rising up to the shores. You suffer, you die, and eventually you find the Secret of this place.

And then you're born. Your body does not arise from Spirit, nor from one of the Outer Elements. Here in the Outermost Void, that Ring of Wild Space, you are born on a world from a body. Your flesh is woven from the flesh of another, and once more you forget yourself to yet another cycle of living and dying and living and...

But maybe there is a way. A way to Memory, so that you might see your Folly. A way to return to that life you had in Sigil, when the so very few visitors that made it there spoke to you of what might lie beyond the Dream of Spirit.

A warning, you always receive a warning. If you go, you will go back Changed. You will see the Lady, and you will notice the shadow more than the woman who casts it. You will recall all the horrors, all the wars between and with those mad Powers, all that suffering born from the intolerance of Elementals & Exemplars & the Embodied of the Material Prime...and you will wonder why Sigil deserves to sit in the Heart of the Wheel...why *you* deserve to sit in the Heart of the Wheel...

It will not be like it was. In a sense (Innocence) you will not really go back.

But...you could Forget...then when you went back you would really be Home. Right?

And when you look once more upon the Lady...

=-=-=

You begin in the Center of All, the Primal Spirit, that place where souls are born...

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71. Sigil gets Cyclical

71. Sigil On Tour

Sigil within this Wheel shifts across Alignments and Elements. Sigil is two flat circles with a hollow tunnel formed of silvery mist in the middle connecting its two aspects. One finds there is no need to breathe in the tunnel, and the center is simply a void lit by the swirling mist that makes up the walls. The tunnel's length seems to depend on the whims of the Lady, but usually one would expect the average human traveler of sound body to traverse it in about a week's time.

While technically a single city most mark the two sides as Sigil of Psyche and Sigil of Hyle. Sigil of Psyche continually shifts into the Outer Planes, while Sigil of Hyle the Inner. Gravity always works the same, pulling you down toward the streets.

Sigil of Psyche shifts into one of the 13 Outerplanes, taking on aspects of a plane's corresponding Gate Town. Once the city is fully aligned with a particular plane one finds one can simply fly, swim, and sometimes even just walk out. Entry, however is only possible through portals on that plane or from the Prime Material Plane. When Sigil shifts into the Outlands it resembles the city as one would expect on M-Prime. The shift lasts 13 weeks with the city shedding the plane its currently on and taking on aspects of its destination plane in that time. Those transition phases occupy the first and last two weeks of the 13 week period, during which times no one can leave or enter the city save by portals. Starting from Arcadia, Sigil of Psyche moves through all the Upper Planes, then from Limbo to Outlands to Mechanus, then from Acheron to Pandemonium, then back to Arcadia.

Sigil of Hyle shifts through the Inner Planes of Fire, Earth, Water Air, Ether, Positive Energy, Shadow, and Negative Energy in that order for 8 weeks at a time. There is no lengthy transition phase, only 8 minutes before the city goes to the next plane, with a similar relationship toward exit & entrance as Sigil of Psyche's. For example for 8 weeks the city is within the Elemental Plane of Fire with no special protection for anyone save the Lady and her dabus. Then at the end of those eight weeks there are those precious 8 minutes where everyone in the city becomes insubstantial, mercifully out of phase with the Inner Planes. No portal works in those 8 minutes, and no one can leave or enter. Then the city phases back into the Plane of Earth which often does mean the entire city can be inside solid stone. That a good deal of magic is required to ever have hope of residing here has made the Incantifiers the undisputed dominant Faction in Sigil of Hyle.

Neither the Lady nor the dabus ever seem to suffer any negative effects while in the city. Pushing a dabus out while, for example, on the Negative Material Plane will kill it but the pusher will likely be flayed immediately after.

The locations shifted to are of a limited set but never fully predictable. Each set of locations per plane is 21, but each shift into a plane is only one of a subset of seven. So the "first" shift by our count into Mount Celestia, for example, is one of seven places. The second is another set of seven different places, the third yet another set of seven, and then back to the "first" seven for the Lady to pick from.

Interestingly enough some of these locations are in the realms of certain Powers, gods and exemplar lords both. Other locations of interest include the Spawning Stone, the base of the Spire, near the Waterspout, the Plain of Burnt Dreams, and floating right next to the Bridge of al-Sihal.

These continual shifts have made both Sigils places inhabited by the hardened and the mad. Most see the Shifting City as simply a place of transition, with different sects and factions usually coming into the city in large numbers only when the planar shifts coincide with a plane on which they have dominance.

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City of your Dreams

72. Sigil, the City of your Dreams

Not true, not true,
that we come to this world to live.
We come to this world to dream.
-Nahuatl: Aztec Song

He no longer existed as a special point in the universe, a soul. Consciousness extended beyond his solitude into the whole of God's creation. And he sat amazed under the skywide realization that his immortal soul dwelled not inside him: He lived inside the cosmic immensity of his soul.
-Attanasio, A. A.. The Serpent and the Grail

When you're awake you're just you - a farmer toiling in the field, a sherpa guiding travelers through the mountains, a guard working night shift along the city wall. Of course this is but the dream of your sleeping dream-self.

And when you're asleep here you go to the place where you're a Maker, a Dreamer of Wonders, an entire cosmos that does not know you are the Center of All for their Prime Material Plane. You can feel, in your subconscious depths, your work as the Transcendent Mind who allows your peoples to grasp the Universals of Math and Logic, as the Prime Mover who directs & allows all causation, as the Preserver who sustains all existence for the dream in every moment.

Thus you are the One who gifts the dream inhabitants the Intellect and Will to find a portal that can lead to another's dream-verse or even those places that seem to exist across dreaming minds...and sometimes one of your creations can find a city in dreams called Sigil, where they might find a portal that leads back to your waking world...

As a child you might be told you are the One of your dreaming-plane, but it takes the journey to adulthood to grasp the import and to genuinely feel that behind the veneer of your usual, waking identity lies not just a god, a mere Power, but a Godhead, a Greater Unknown God.

As an adult you are granted the status of adulthood in your dream, wherein things always seem to go well enough for you so long as you don't stray too far from the place of your dream-body's origin - what some of your fellows in the waking world refer to as your avatar. Become an adventurer and whatever guarantees of safety you made for yourself in the dream-Prime are null and void. Stay in your dream-Prime and you can suffer such agony or witness such terrors that it risks madness in the waking world though often pain and most certainly death leads to awakening. (When you sleep again your companions in the dream will note you were at death's door for some time.)

Enter into those areas of the collective dreaming and whatever injuries you suffer in your dream effect your body, but thankfully so does any healing or enhancements (such as permanent ability score boosts). Sadly many a parent has found their teenager dead in the morning - you want to blame someone but unless you yourself have access to the right magic you've likely never communicated with, let alone met, whoever raised your child (let them die) in their dreams.

Dream-Primes vary as to their make up. Some have crystal spheres in an ocean of phlogiston, others are world & star speckled Wild Space through and through, others are infinite Underdarks where a world is the inner circumference of a gargantuan cavern with a sun (which may, akin to the Orb of Arcadia, have one half radiating Night or Moonlight) floating in the center. Sometimes planets or crystal spheres are separated by more than Void - for example ether, one of the elements, divine blood, even the branches of a massive tree from whose branches they hang like fruit.

Magic may work differently, the entire metaphysics of the dream-Prime may be similar to the theoretical Paizoian, Cypherian, or Whife-Wolfian natural laws.

Thankfully the natures of the Collective Dream Locations are more predictable, even their Xaos akin to what you find in Limbo in M-Prime. Examples of such places include the Cosmic Ocean, the World Tree, the Mountain of Purgatory, Hell, Shadowpact, Feywild, the Elemental Chaos, the Primordial Night, Paradise, and Sigil the City of Doors.

Undead do not dream, they have only the memory of their dreamed divinity. This is why undeath is reserved as punishment for those crimes a society deems its worst trangressions. To be swallowed into the Lady's shadow is to awaken as an undead being - far better to be Mazed so that your sleeping self enters a coma from which it is unlikely to wake before you die of dehydration or starvation.

People on the Prime Material rarely take sentient life, as they know from their own experience that they would be depriving a universe entire of a god and perhaps of its very existence. Some claim that portals in Sigil can reach the universes of those who've passed away though even if this is true the knowledge may only be known to those few dreamers who could verify it.

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73. Sigil under the Light of

73. Sigil under the Light of the Moons (Part I, concerning the Spire, the dead Primordial Powers, and the landscape of the Outer Argent)

A Spire of infinite height made of rough hewn rose quartz, upon whose apex is built Sigil the City of Doors. Above, populating the sky above Sigil, are the Wandering Stars, the Silver Sun, and the Seven Moons Who Rule the Night. Below Sigil, extending out from the base of the Spire, is the infinite land of the only Outer Plane, the Argent Outlands (also called the Outer Argent). Go far enough along any compass direction and you will find intimations of the planes you'd expect on M-Prime, for example going north gives you the preceding echo of a never-created Elysium. Perhaps the Primordial Gods, those Immortal Old Ones, had thought to craft the expected Outer Planes but it is their corpses that are scattered across the Outer Argent? What we know for sure is it's these corpses that - like the Seven Moons - mark these Outlands, altering its intrinsic nature.

Without influence, during the day and on the New Moon nights, this plane represents Neutrality as the soil from which Choice grows Alignment. There is no enforcement or expectation of Balance, though planar druids - possibly in alliance with the common sylvan, fey, and nature spirit residents - do seek to ensure that the natural world is respected. On the other hand herds of equar - possibly in steed-pacts with the rare exemplars of alignment (aasimon, eladrin, archons, demons, daemons, devils, slaad, rilmani, and inevitables) - might try to enforce certain moral/ethical positions onto the scattered examples of civilization. (These examples are so rare, and so separated by expanses of wilderness that could comfortably hold a Crystal Sphere, sages & planar cartographers call them 'Points of Light').

During the day the Silver Sun illuminates the argent sky, though it is often veiled to varying degrees by cloud cover. Its light is absorbed by the winding river Ma'at as well as many species of flora & fauna, and thus many waterways and wildlife exude a soft silvery glow at night. This glow marks them as off limits to predators, though certain ritual magics require harvesting specific Sun-touched species. The glow of the Ma'at, along with its shortening of travel-time and many winding branches, make it a popular source of travel across the plane. Other wild and even domestic life can produce descendants that have sentience or even some magical ability - the combination of such blessings include the occasional generation of fauna & flora found across M-Prime such as Yeth Hounds, Wastrels, Iron Maws, Viper Trees, Simpathetics, Baku, Nocturnals, Hellcats, Demarax, Darkweavers, Warden Beasts, and even Animal Lords. (Here there are multiple Animal Lords, rather than only one existing at a time. Their different views on what lordship entails has led to alliances as well as enmity. The Hawklords were recently married, yet the War of the Five Catlords is currently ongoing.)

The god corpses of the primordial powers determine much about the surrounding acres of territory. The bodies themselves have come to serve as a soil of sorts for plants and fungi, so much so it is difficult even from above to see what the god might have looked like. These specimens themselves are oddities, you can have giant strawberry runners and fields of tiny redwoods. Many of the flora and fungi are used in rituals as well as herbology and alchemy. Near a Primordial Power of Death you might find a kingdom of undead seeking True Death or an area where undead are anathema and thus unable to exist. Potent weapons & armor may grow in fields and orchards near a Primordial Power of War, its corpse the center of an Expansionist Empire. The corpse of a Primordial Power of Magic might have a surrounding population favoring the birth of sorcerers and even wielders of Spellfire, the very air crackling with an Arcane Weave, thus resulting in a collection of city states and forest kingdoms that adhere to the Incantifier creed. In this way certain philosophical outlooks that might be reserved to a faction or just a sect on M-Prime can influence those Points of Light that surround a dead god.

These corpses can, strangely enough, also grant clerical spells to priesthoods and sometimes even empowered proxies. Given their size and silence as to creeds & manner of worship, this leads to a variety of religions springing up claiming to represent the dead Primordial Power. While there are Young Gods, their religions are more influential and present in the Prime Material worlds. Among planars, it is the religions of the Dead Gods and the philosophies they inspire that hold far greater sway.

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73. Sigil under the Light of

73. Sigil under the Light of the Moons (Part II, concerning the gifts of the Dead Gods, the City of Doors, and the Moons & their Were-Angels)

The Gifts of the Dead Gods

The corpses of the gods, despite serving as a means of nourishment to plant and animal life which in turn mask & garment much of their nudity, are not rotting. They are generative, infinities bound in bodies, and thus one can draw from them again and again without fear of scarcity. However those entities making up the ecology upon a god-body are quite territorial, and to travel upon or within these corpses risks a madness that follows one in dreams. To travel through an orifice into a god body is even more dangerous - it can be as if the mad winds of Pandemonium were driven into a hurricane frenzy, or a burning black fire exists within that turns unprepared visitors (or sacrifices from surrounding peoples) into Shadows of the Void, even preadtors that have adapted to the divine innards. Each god body has its own dangers, its own potential effects on spellcasting, time, aging, and so on. Yet there are reasons to traverse the corpses of the Primordial Powers - one can enact the greatest of rituals in & upon these fleshy places, and some of the Young Gods were born in just this way. (The most famous, who some consider a warning, is the demipower archmage Zagyg who sought godhood from the corpse of a Primordial Power of Magic. He got his divinity but it cost him his sanity, or so the story goes.)

Sigil

Sigil is a city largely made from the quartz of the Spire itself - even the Lady appears as a floating statue made from the mineral. Sigil's architecture is continually shifting as the quartz is reshaped, built upon, and even transmuted. The management of the city is largely done by fairy dragons, each born with a random assortment of spell-like abilities that allow them to collectively manage the maintenance, safety, and upkeep of the crowded metropolis flooded with planar traffic. Each fairy dragon is of a specific type corresponding to a "school" of magic that a specialist might undertake, it is from these schools that their spell-like abilities are drawn. The sub-species are as follows:

The pitch scaled fairy dragons with monarch butterly wings and glowing green eyes draw spells from the School of Necromancy. If killed they arise as undead to continue their work.

The nacre scaled fairy dragons with dragonfly wings and featureless hide where eyes should be are granted spells from the School of Divination. They can never be surprised and can sense imminent danger to themselves up to an hour from now.

The shadowy fairy dragons that fly without wings, with burning white pinpricks for eyes are granted spells from the School of Illusion. They are immune to illusions themselves and also benefit from being incorporeal.

The electrum scaled fairy dragons with draconic wings, their eyes green with gold flecks, are granted spells from the School of Evocation. To harm them directly - even from a ranged attack - to is be cursed so that any evocation spell cast in your vicinity for the next hour has a chance to veer and make you its target.

The fairy dragons with stony scales of deep orange ochre, kept aloft by a dust devil, and eyes of pupil-less black are granted spells from the School of Abjuration. They can surround themselves in a small globe of invulnerability though this negates the whirlwind that allows them to fly.

The fairy dragons with scales of iridescent shades of violet, wings of hummingbirds, and azurite eyes are granted spells from the School of Enchantment. Anyone who even thinks of attacking them must first resist being charmed to defend the dragon instead.

The fairy dragons with translucent scales that reveal the shadow of innards, with hummingbird winds & golden eyes, are granted spells from the School of Conjuration. They can summon 1 of their kind once per day, though the fellow they summon has to wait half-an-hour before summoning once more of their sub-species.

Most of the magic granted to them is on the weaker side, every so often a few of their kind are granted considerable power - after all the Lady expects the dragons to handle most irritations that come from the varied Moons. They are also quite clever, often leaving Sigil to ensure the safety of the City of Doors by ensuring the safety of this Wheel entire. For example when the Divine Wraith Taldoth-Tenebre threatened to kill off all the Young Gods it was the fairy dragons who ensured its destruction by providing heroes with the means to enter the corpses of seven dead gods of Life as well as the rituals to make their hearts beat just once but all in tandem.

The Moons & Their Were-Angels

Each of the moons shines for approximately 30 days, waxing into fullness and then waning. A respite from their effects is the intermediary Nights of the New Moon, usually marked by some festival or set ritual actions.

Each moon, when full, awakens the angels that serve it but hide in the flesh of mortals. Different Points of Light react differently to these angels, some seeing them as cursed beings to be slaughtered and others accepting even the worst angels as serving the Will of the dead Primrodial Powers. The angels themselves seem to have no alignment despite the seeming enjoyment they find in carrying out their duties. Some families keep the secret of the were-angels among themselves, others gladly turn over discovered werefolk to the authorities even knowing they'll be tortured and then executed.

The moons themselves are despised in some places, worshiped in others. At the least most Points of Light conduct certain rituals when a particular moon is in its fullness.

Hunter's Moon - A blood-hued lunar body, the Moon of the Hunter is concerned with survival of the deserving. Predators of all sorts become emboldened but worst of all are the Angels of the Hunt. These were-angels are avorals and lupinals who hunt across the skies and land. Given how often they are killed they will bite some victims yet let them live so that new lycnathrope angels can be born to the conduct this Wild Hunt. Most weres of this Moon are killed upon discovery, though some Points of Light have allowed them to hunt foreign travelers or sacrificial victims in exchange for assisting their own hunters.

Trickster's Moon - When this copper-toned moon is full illusions and mirages arise. Mischievous fey are strengthened in power and often in madness. People can lose track of what is a dream and what is waking reality throughout the night. The were angels of this moon are vulpinals that deal with the breaking and realignment of boundaries. Many a tale told to children features a vulpinal helping to bring stability to Creation after the death of the Old Gods. This process is still ongoing, and thus vulpinals are also cursed for disturbing what many have come to see over time as the natural order. Vulpinals have been attempting to veer the Young Gods from different pantheons who have Volcanoes and Earthquakes among their domains into marriages, but it isn't clear why. Unlike the other Angels of the Moons vulpinals can be found dreamwalking and astral projecting themselves while waiting for this moon to become full again.

Reaper's Moon - This black moon shines with a dark light of Entropy & Death. As it waxes the night grows darker, light sources grow dimmer, and stars begin to vanish from the sky until none remain during the night of the Reaper's full moon. Necromancy is strengthened, and undead feel their hungers deepen to the point of madness. For living beings everyone is weakened and sickness abounds, and blood doesn't clot as easily. Wounds & illnesses require more work to be healed. To make things worse the were-angels of this moon are the sneaky mustevals, who spread disease and poison to those around them.

Shepherd's Moon - This bright orange moon heralds a time of safe travels & guidance. Travelers are more wise and more attentive as well as just luckier. Planar paths that make travel safer and shorter are illuminated across the Outer Argent. The often elebrated were-angels, the ursinals, often have their non-lycanthrope identities publicly known rather than hidden. They aid travelers with their wisdom and their strength.

Witch's Moon - As this emerald moon waxes, hags & the crueler fey grow stronger. Warlocks and Pact Mages find this a good time to bargain with the mysterious vestiges that may be all that remains of the souls of the Primordial Powers. The peoples of varied Points of Light are guided in various sacrificial rituals and mystery school initiations by were-angel cervidals and silvanshee. These were-angels usually have their non-were identities kept secret, known only to a select few religious leaders.

Mother's Moon - This golden moon strengthens abjurations, crop yields, and the chances of getting pregnant. Many fauna have their mating season timed to fall under this moon, and many peoples in varied Points of Light also schedule their own plans for a family to fall under this month. Not only are the protective leonals and cetaceals celebrated they are only born to a few honored family lines that have great prominence in the civilizations in which they dwell. For the night they are allowed to walk the Outer Argent they seek out threats to their Point of Light and destroy them.

Knight's Moon - Spells that deal with crossing distance and the placing of geases are strengthened during the month watched over by this blue hued moon. This is the only month where one can make pacts with equars. Equinals bring promise of aid to those who've decided to make a journey. Since this journey can bring destruction or salvation to the Point of Light from which the were-angel's normal form dwells the equinals take pains to keep their identities secret. The Moon cares naught for the goal of the traveler, merely the effort undertaken by those questing.

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Sigil under the Light of the

Sigil under the Light of the Moons (Part III, concerning the Inner Planes and the Prime Material Plane)

Inner Planes

Flux - The Inner Plane of Flux represents the Dynamism that empowers the Wheel's Potential. Arcane energy makes up this plane, whether it's a winding sky river of interwoven black and red waters that radiates necromantic spell effects or a maelstrom of gold and green healing energy. Topaz mountains of shining white divination energy may rise out from churning seas made from stinking cloud & cloud kill spells even as magic missiles fall as rain drops until there is only rubble. Spell effects have physical manifestation here, as part of the roiling landscape. Flora and fauna that radiate or are made up of arcane energy are the natives here. Additionally creatures that feed on magic such as spell haunts flourish here, though some may need to shelter in pockets of elemental substance that is naturally conjured into the plane. In fact summoning and conjuration spell effects are continuously bringing unwilling visitors here in addition to fragments of Elemental Expanses (see below) though most perish quickly. Force and Prismatic dragons rule over communities that enjoy their protection, those summoned here against their will might survive longer if they end up in the dragons' domains. Magic items can gain back charges here, even artifacts might be recharged. However there is a risk of the item will explode. Containing fragments of this plane is incredibly useful for meta-magic and the creation of magical items.

Fortune - The Inner Plane of Fortune contains within it the bindings of Fate as well as the flights of Luck. The ground of this plane is a frozen lake of an unusual substance that appears like water darkened with black ink. As no one can seem to chip off even a piece of this ice, it is not clear what properties it might have. Yet perhaps we should be thankful for this as looking down one almost always seems to find trapped phanes looking up with their glowing green eyes. In your mind you sometimes hear their whispers, as they seek those who might undertake the quests (almost always involving one of the god corpses on the Outer Argent) necessary to let at least one of them escape their imprisonment.

Glowing azure threads the width of a halfling's body rise up like gently swaying plant stalks, their origins lost to the depths beneath the ice and their heights lost to the starless darkness of the sky. Each of them is the timeline of an individual, a nation, a world, a plane. Spirit walkers and astral projecters from other planes on this Wheel can be found studying the threads, seeking to understand what the future holds.

Quaruts - the inevitables who guard the orderliness of Time - can often be found here, undertaking some mysterious task in the name of the Law. Usually they don't attack other visitors, but it has been known to happen.

Out of phase Time Dragons fly about, even diving through the ice and rising up from the darkness beneath it. They may spare a glance at you but since interaction has yet to be successful on either side they usually don't bother taking much time out for those not in phase with them.

Natives to this place include fey and varied spirit entities with connections to Time, Fate, and Luck. There are also the Time Elementals, though no trustworthy accounts of their appearance exist. None of the other planars of this place will say anything about these elementals other than they are the undisputed masters of this plane. Otherwise most seem friendly enough but their movement and speech are disturbing (think of the figures Cooper meets inside the Lodge in Twin Peaks).

Planthood's Heart - This Inner Plane, also called the Floral Core, seems to be the foundation of all flora in the Prime Material if not the Wheel entire. Plant life of all kinds can be found here, intertwining branches and vines creating a crowded living web. It is thought that most sentient insects & arachnids such as thrikeen, araneas, and abeil have their origins in this place for just as eladrin are thought to be the precursor to elves this plane has nature spirits bearing the aspects of insects and arachnids. These spirits are at war with the nature spirits of the Outer Argent, over the question of whether Nature is Immanent (their position) or Transcendental (the position of the Argent's spirits). While it is difficult for us to understand why this necessitates violence, the spirits on this plane insist the question is really of that utmost importance.

Plant spirits come here before being reincarnated back to the Prime as crops, herbs, and other useful flora *if* those who consumed their bodies properly honor them.

Digging into the ground soil of this plane leads to the cavern ceiling of the Underocean.

Underocean - Dig into the Underdark on the Prime, and you will find lavender scented waters in the darkness whose banks take on the crystalline aspects of geodes. Ghostly, indistinct shadow figures swim in the direction of the current. Follow these rivers and they will take on a faint silver glow akin to the waters of Ma'at. Eventually these rivers lead away from the Prime world whose depths you descended into, taking you to a crowded shore. The shadows take on more substance here, resembling the recently dead. The Young Gods & exemplars have their proxies who've come to take appropriate souls to their territories on the Outer Argent. Some of them are ship captains, others are great whales who will the soon-to-be petitioners into their bellies, while others are titans who wade the ocean. The ocean's floor can be reached even away from the shore, and is made up of a glowing silvery mist. With an exertion of Will and Force one can pass through the mist and into the Ghostlands.

The Ghostlands - This plane resembles the Ethereal of M-Prime, but contains within the oddity of living undead. Ghosts here are born, age, have children, and eventually pass on. Yet these ghosts have a connection to Negative Energy, can drain life from the living if need be, and can be turned by clerics. Thankfully the ghosts largely are concerned with their own affairs, rather than trying to stake a claim on the Prime. Semi-corporeal buildings, sometimes whole cities, will spontaneously arise from the proto-matter. The living ghosts will live there for a time, until the buildings inevitably dissolve back into ether. Then they will move on.

The Ghostlands also contain the reincarnating spirits of animals,just as the Floral Core is the way station of the spirits of plants. These spirits of fauna also desire the proper respect and ritual from those who killed them on the Prime. The Animal Lords naturally take great interest in this Inner Plane. The living ghosts will take on these spirits as temporary companions, accepting that like the domiciles that fade in and out of existence these beings will leave them to be born again on the Prime.

Wander far enough into the mists and one will find themselves in the depths of the Underocean or the lands of Shadow.

Shadow - A place of umbral life that stretches out across infinity, connecting the shadows of this Wheel. There are two landscapes in the plane, separated by the shadowy ground. One of them a teeming wilderness, the other a sandstorm wracked desert. Shadow fey rule much of the wilderness, shadow fiends rule much of the desert. The fiefdoms of the Shadow fey owe their allegiance to the Queen of Air and Darkness. The shadow fiends have no insane ruler to fear, but they in turn must deal with the icthyian horrors that swim in the shadow sands of the desert side of the plane.

While stars can be found in the skies of either side, these are too far and too few to really provide light. Continual flashes of lightning from the sandstorms illuminate the desert with an odd strobe effect - this also creates the very useful magical component that is shadow-fulgurite. The wilderness is lit by magical lamp posts placed by something older than the shadow fey that rule that side of Shadow. The flames in these lamp posts run the spectrum in terms of color.

Rise into the eternally night sky of either side and you'll find the stars vanishing until finally you end up in the skies of the Inner Plane of Fortune.

The Prime Material Plane

Crystal Spheres within an Elemental Ocean. The Ocean itself is made up of Elemental Expanses floating in Ether. These expanses are generative, in that you can take from the expanse without ultimately reducing the amount of elemental matter. However, the inhabitants of these expanses may not be pleased as taking ("poaching") the substance of their home can alter the landscape as the expanse regenerates. These expanses float along, intersecting into temporary paramental expanses. Orbs of Negative and Positive Energy shine in the Elemental Ocean, where the energy touches it temporarily changes the the passing expanses into quasi-elemental substance. The inhabitants of the expanses have prepared for these changes, though they are still quite harrowing to deal with as these transformations introduce new creatures that can threaten them.

When expanses pass over crystal spheres the worlds within see an influx of animentals, elementals, and other other elemental creatures like those found on the appropriate inner plane on M-Prime.

There are no Elemental Lords, rather it is believed that they died along with the rest of the Primordial Powers but their bodies were willingly given to make up the respective expanses of a particular element. Thus all elementals are born from their flesh, but only those who've inherited a fragment of the Lords' Divine Spark have the Birthright to rule an Expanse. When those divine touched elementals create more of their kind from the sacrifice of their own being these new children inherit the Spark and thus are also Elemental Royalty. This confers the power to sense who is within your Expanse, as well as the power to shape the Expanse and grant protections to inhabitants such as grateful settlers & spelljamming traders from the planets within Crystal Spheres.

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74. Sigil: The Masquerade

74. Sigil: The Masquerade (Part I - Concerning Nyx, the Ring, and the Masked)

This Wheel's Plane of Shadow is called the Corona, and if you move toward its darkest depths you will pass into the place they call Nyx, the Primordial Night. It is a living darkness, but unlike M-Prime's Negative Material Plane Nyx is breathable, warm, and invigorating (living beings have no need for sustenance here). Within its churning umbral currents one might even - if Luck allows - be blessed by healing or attribute enhancing magic.

Going deeper into the amniotic black a traveler - so long as the Lady allows - will see what at first appears to be a flickering star. As you move toward the star it reveals itself to be a planet sized rotating Ring shining with a silvery glow. (Imagine a wedding band spinning atop a table in slow motion.)

Around the Ring, in the inky clouds of elemental darkness, are mysterious figures of varied sizes who are difficult to make out beyond blade haired silhouettes - these are the Twelve. In the Ring's inner circumference lies the Sigil, the City of Doors. Powers (gods, arch-exemplars, anyone with the Divine Spark), chronomancers, and immoth are all barred. They - and their companions if traveling together on a spelljammer for example - could wander the Darkness forever and never find the City of Doors.

The City's streets, being of the Ring itself, also share its glow but most buildings have flooring with hatched doors, sliding tiles, or some other mechanism for allowing the perpetual light to be blocked or to provide illumination as per a resident's desire. Instead of razor vine the thinner "branches" of the World Hydra are a perpetual menace maintained by the Masked.

The Masked themselves are created by the Lady of Pain, a spectral ether rising up through the streets, taking corporeal shape as her familiar blade haired self. However each of her palms contains a mouth, and with fingers splayed her hands will face the offender right before these orifices open to scream as streams of molten metal shoot out and cover whatever best resembles a face on the body of the Guilty. This metal then shapes itself into a tributary mask resembling the Lady's own face even as the offender's will is given over to the protection and maintenance of Sigil, their new permanent home. (Oozes and other "faceless" beings still end up wearing a mask, it is seared into some area of their flesh.)

The Twelve, who are arguably the greatest of the Masked, have orbits weaving in and out of the inner circumference of the Ring. They are as follows:

1. Dregoth the Dread King (undead dragon-kaisharga form)
2. Zadara the Titan of Potential
3. Gzemnid the Beholder Ancient (non-divine but form is as avatar on M-Prime)
4. Vecna the Undying King (missing hand & eye)
5. Ashardalon the Demon Hearted
6. Eva the Living Stone Colossus
7. Telwoh Na Gol the Witchlight Marauder (Paladin, Planet-bound Secondary)
8. Silver-aura Aleax in the form of (currently vanished) Lothar
9. The Radiant Golem (death aura muted)
10. Khrafak the Astrosphinx (that species' Monster of Legend)
11. Zargon the Returner (partially formed - only 2/4 days)
12. Factol Rhys

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Sigil: The Masquerade (Part

Sigil: The Masquerade (Part II - Further Consideration of  the Masked, the Ring, and the Primordial Night)

The Masked are usually tasked with upkeep of the city and keeping the peace, and utilize whatever powers they possessed before their punishment that their condition allows (no speech, no telepathic communication). Only major threats to city raise their ire - they won't stop a pickpocket, but they'll act with force to end spillover from the exemplars' wars. They'll also assist with demolition and construction, even to the point of taking some direction not given by the Lady - they understand all languages and will accept telepathic communication though they themselves speak only in floating rebuses. There are also times when, for reasons known to her alone, the Masked will alter existing structures. Usually no one ends up walled in or hurt, as the Masked try to provide fair warning and if need be try to forcibly remove stubborn residents. Most will at this point give in, as fighting the Masked risks joining their number.

The Twelve are different than the other Masked, as there is no recorded time any of them have left their orbits. Most sages believe that beyond a last line of defense against...something...each of them confers knowledge and power to the Lady. Several of them sought to achieve godhood by different means, some of them are created things. As an Ancient Baatorian Zargon preceded the baatezu, every god has only a single aleax it can send to punish transgressors, astrosphixes are cursed/gifted with seemingly insane reasoning, Zadara can sense potential in others, Rhys is intimately connected with the Cadence of the Planes, and so on. By knowing what each of them knows, as well as the secrets of their being, the Lady has an incredible wealth of knowledge she can use in the Cosmic Game. There is (admittedly hotly contested) research that the 1-3 of the Twelve have shown up in dreams of persons that one wakes from with some fresh insight on their circumstances or their research. There are also still contested but more generally accepted accounts of the shadow of one of the Twelve simply existing upon some surface across the Wheel - though it isn't clear how these apparitions exert any kind influence on the course of history. Finally, a secret known in special circles is that sometimes when pact binders try to summon a particular vestige one of the Twelve shows up instead. The Twelve speak not with rebuses but muffled voices sometimes strained with the suppression of agony, other times ecstasy. They can confer powers or knowledge to the pact binder, for example Zadara might grant the vision of others' potential while Zargon might grant a vision on what Hell was like before the baatezu.
There is also the connection between diviners and the Twelve. Laying out cards depicting the Twelve on a ring of silver, one then says the proper spell and a mist - akin to that which forms the Lady when she appears - will rise from between the cards which will begin to jiggle. Slowly the cards will also float up. The order by which the cards take to the air and how high they are reveals a great deal to the knowledgeable magic user.

Among the important duties of the Masked is the negotiation with the beings connected to elemental electricity that power the lightning rail that allows quick travel around the circumference of the Ring. Besides intra-city portals the rail is the only means of reliable traversal - the Lady's protection runs out roughly around the center space circumscribed by the Ring, and varied creatures of Primordial Night take full advantage. As there is no need for sustenance in Nyx it's thought that victims are taken for amusement or for some pursuit of unknown goals.

The creatures of Nyx include the Night Elementals, vaguely humanoid figures made of what seems to be pitch black ether too heavy to fully rise. As such Night Elementals' forms resemble a water elemental caught mid-change into an air elemental. They are quite nurturing toward other life, with deep maternal behavior. As each is a concentration of Nyx's substance, they are capable of great healing with the greatest of their kind able to perform resurrections at will.

Nyx also contains sleeping Night Serpents, each of whose jaws could swallow up a sun. Dreamwalking has revealed one of the Serpents to be this Wheel's Apophis, and another to be this Multiverse's Dendar. Both believe to have already gorged themselves on suns in ages past, but no records exist claiming any Night Serpents managed to enter a Crystal Sphere or devour any sun on the Inner or Outer Planes.

Erebus the Titan of Darkness maintains a kingdom here, his power allowing traveler and subject alike protection from the varied horrors in the dark. Faluzure the Night Dragon resides with a shadow dragon retinue in a cavernous labyrinth formed from crystalline dark, but as his hunger is sated by Nyx's nourishing properties he is much more approachable. Those granted an audience will find an avatar (Very Young instead of Great Wyrm in age) of the god curled around a single jet black egg (see below).

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Sigil: The Masquerade (Part

Sigil: The Masquerade (Part III - Concerning Sigil, the City of Doors)

Few Sigils across the known Wheels are larger than the Ring, given its planet encompassing dimensions. As the Lady does not protect the center most area of the inner circumference most aren't willing to hazard the trip and so make use of other means. Chief among these is the Lightning Rail, existing as the city's "Under-Sigil". Seven tracks, each making use of willingly bound elementals, lightning mephits, shockers, and other creatures one expects to find on M-Prime's Quasi-Elemental Plane of Lightning. The Masked are having to continuously negotiate with these beings, trying to keep the continuous churn of the bound from interfering with the running of the trains. It's a mystery why the Lady doesn't forcibly conscript their service - some say the magic of the Rail would fail, others claim that slavery is such an Evil act it would tip Sigil off the fulcrum of the Balance, and all sorts of other theories.

Given how large Sigil is, with neighborhoods the size of nations, there is a place for just about every sect & faction on M-Prime and more besides. Miles upon miles of territory might be controlled by a single philosophical sect/faction, with the Guilds picking up the slack in needed professionals. Exemplars of the alignments tend to set up smaller subcultures within those sections whose philosophy comes close to their own outlooks, as the Masked frown upon large sections of the city controlled by what would be "extra-planars" on M-Prime.

There are also an assortment of Elemental Districts, where several blocks are all aflame, inside stone or ice or magically suspended acres of water or magma, enveloped in storm clouds, awash with radiance, and so on. There's even a Night District for the Night Elementals along with umbral beings like Shadow Fey and Shadow Giants. There are also a good many Dark Weavers, and their webbing has ensnared many an unwary traveler in the streets of Night. Thankfully instead of lantern boys/girls there are "night lads/lasses" to help one navigate the darkness, morose black-clad teenagers bearing a variety of skeletal themed jewelry who often claim to be too enlightened to join the Bleakers. In truth these are shadow dragons who often come here to get away from their "dad" Faluzure. Like all living dragons (see below) they are quite immature emotionally, too much like human teens for anyone's liking given their draconic power.

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Sigil: The Masquerade (Part

Sigil: The Masquerade (Part IV - Further Consideration of Sigil, the City of Doors)

As the substance of Nyx provides no animating or sustaining power to the Undead, they have gathered (or been gathered?) into their own District. At the center rests the Arch of Animation, a gate of sorts that draws upon and then radiates Negative Energy from across the Wheel. Away from the gate undead grow considerably weaker, until they can barely function on the opposite side of the Ring where lies the verdant Summer Country District. The Arch itself is made from peculiar green bricks that seem to be an odd kind of organic stone, with the space within the arch being a glowing indigo-violet common to the arcane workings of necromancers. A living being passing through the arch comes out the other side as some kind of undead being, with those transformed into incorporeal types leaving their bodies to tumble to the ground. On the other hand, an undead being is healed of all wounds and temporarily boosted in their abilities. The Dustmen control access to the Arch, the Dead Truce assisting them in keeping the peace.

Following the curvature of the Ring, one finds a district where the buildings get taller and taller. This is the Giant's District, whose center contains a building designed to accommodate the Titans. Perhaps it's for the best that most Titans don't usually stay here very long, using their tower as a way station between their journeys across the planes. Those Titans who've more or less made the City of Doors their permanent residence include:

Malephus, the Titan of Justice, holds a position akin to a "Supreme Court" found in certain democratic civilizations. Sigil's legal system is set up so that cases of incredible import - where the law does not defer to customs or localities across the Ring - are heard by this Titan. His ability to detect lies unerringly, even when - as far as anyone knows - the perpetrator is shielded from mortal magic, has made him a useful partner when Sigil's law enforcement is seeking to prevent major threats to the City or when some band of heroes is working against a plan that would threaten the Wheel entire.

Porphyl, the Titan of Growth. This wise titan uses a portal to travel between his Tower and the Summer Country District where he assists with maintaining Sigil's food supply by maturing varied crops and orchards en masse. Though he can bring any living thing to maturity, he has refused to try shifting dragons past their odd youthfulness (see below) to the mythical status of higher age categories.

Aoide, the Titan of Song. Her home is at the apex of the tower, where she occasionally gifts the city with one of her compositions. At times her singing will be accompanied by varied orchestras and choirs, examples of which include celestials, risen fiends, benevolent fey, legendary planewalking bards, a Great Dreamer with its entourage, a scale of Gonn, and 10,000 sparrows. Sometimes the songs provide a beneficial magical effect (such as curing insanity) though the efficacy and/or duration diminishes as one moves away from the Giant's District as dependent on the accompanying choir.

Jeuron, the Titan of Knowledge. Also known as the Great Diviner, some myths credit him with inventing the divination system described above that utilizes the Twelve. Jeuron maintains a grand library in the Titan's Tower that includes all sorts of means of storing knowledge including books, recorder stones, the greatest collection of mimirs, and crystals that supposedly once encrusted the hides of ancient stellar dragons. (Of course there are only infuriatingly precocious but still youthful stellar dragons as far as anyone has seen, a few of whom make up Jeuron's Sigilian retinue.) He enjoys the company of varied contemplative & intellectual beings such as Fal, Noctrals, Couatls, and even a pair of lawful good elder cerebral vampires who prey on the more clever evil beings of the Wheel.

Eurybia, the Titan of Travel. Her workshop in Titan's Tower is dedicated to crafting varied spelljammers enchanted against burning phlogiston (see below), elemental bound vehicles of travel, and magical craft meant to sail the Sea of Silver Fire. In addition to the production of vessels, Eurybia takes great interest in the development of spells and items meant to guide and ease travel - thus many Incantifiers can be found in her company. Given that magic is necessary for certain residents of different districts to travel around the Ring, the Incantifiers under the Titan's tutelage are held in great esteem.

The Summer Country District is more forest than buildings, its trees great and gargantuan rooted in a mountainous layer of imported soil from the Wyld Court which currently holds the Throne of Summer. Here can be found an assortment of sylvan beings, elves, a variety of fey, ents, warden beasts, guardinals, and others who prefer arboreal environs to urban ones. The outer edges - largely populated by winged and terrestrial elves - are safer, as one goes deeper into the district the temptation of the sylvan revelry is more likely to take hold. Still, given the Lady's ban on chronomancy of any kind, one can join the festivities without fearing one night of fun will cost you a century outside the woods. As the ground is covered here dim illumination is provided by varied spells, swarms of sunflies, brightly glowing fruit, and bio-luminescent fungi.

The Cold District centered around a magical artifact called the Heart of Cryonax from the Heartless Court which currently holds the Throne of Winter. (Cryonax being the previous holder of the Throne.) In addition to fey and spirits associated with Arctic lands and Winter, any beings who would normally be found on the Paramental Plane of Ice on M-Prime dwell here, save for the banned immoth. Beings that enjoy cold environments but would not survive raw elemental cold make their homes on the outer edges of the district.

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Sigil: The Masquerade (Part V

Sigil: The Masquerade (Part V - Further Consideration of Sigil, the City of Doors)

Travel to and from the City of Doors relies either on navigating Nyx or utilizing portals. Using spelljammers and other enchanted craft to cross the Primordial Night is a difficult endeavor given the more hostile creatures in the darkness. Usually this is only done by ships hired (or more often commandeered) by proxies, as they are allowed into Sigil but cannot make use of any portals into or out of the city. Others are responsible for trade between city and the varied civilizations - including the fey, fiends, and giants of Shadow - that make their homes in the Primordial Night. Often these trading vessels are manned by dark creepers captained by a dark stalker. Certain Prime Material Crystal Spheres have planar vortices connecting their Wild Space to Nyx, and find this pathway easier to control and navigate rather than jumping through portal networks. These travelers are also blessed by the vestige Orthos, Sovereign of the Howling Dark. Pact Binders who've made a compact with Orthos have an uncanny ability to navigate the black warmth of Nyx, avoiding the territories of the most dangerous of creatures. Additionally, the very presence of Orthos scares away most of the non-sentient wildlife that might attack a vessel.

Besides its connection to Nyx, another plane that Sigil connects to without the use of explicit portals is the Temporal Plane of Mirrors. If one gains the friendship or at least the debt of the quasi-elemental beings that power the lightning rail they'll learn of passages amidst the tracks that lead to stairways. Going down these stairs then leads to flat platforms made from the same metal as the Ring, and these are speak-easies for lightning elementals, their quasi-elemental fellows, and elemental beings of air, rain, and water. Here lightning can be conducted through varied substances, liquids & gases can be merged into one's water or air flesh, and transmutation magics can alter a beings viscosity, luminescence, color, internal temperature, or a variety of other options. One can even shift shapes between elemental types or types elemental beings. (Sensates love it here, and in gratitude provide more opportunities for varied experiences to the elemental beings.) Go down further and the silver halls lose their glow even as the air takes on a natural sourceless light. Go down the stairs that connect to the halls and eventually the halls grow more crooked, the mirrors a labyrinth of reflections of one's self in alternate timelines. Note that you cannot go up the stairs and get back to Sigil once in the Mirrored Halls of Time, they only lead to other parts of that plane. The halls "beneath" the elemental speak-easies, but before the reflections of other timelines appear, is still part of the City of Doors. That region of "Under Sigil" hallways has its own ever-shifting connections and intra-city portals, a more lawless place than the city above. However even here the Masked keep a sort of peace between the warring groups, that duty specifically fulfilled by two powerful archanoloths named A'kin and Shemeska.

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Sigil: The Masquerade (Part

Sigil: The Masquerade (Part VI - Concerning the Transitive Planes, specifically the Temporal Plane of Mirrors, the Nexus of Dreams, and the Corona of Shadows)

The Temporal Plane of Mirrors

Hallways of silver lit by a source-less soft white light, with the infinite upon infinite reflections exceeding what could be achieved by any mortal fun house. However the panes here don't show distorted shapes based on the manipulation of one's sight - rather the variations and distortions are yourself in the past/present/future as you might exist in alternate timelines. As these reflections pantomime your actions you cannot converse with them without the intervention of chronomancy. Time-magic allows one to talk to these images as if they were real, though they only talk to the being they are a reflection of. This can be quite useful as even alternate present and past selves can hold knowledge your actual self does not have. The danger of this practice is creating a temporal shadow, a being convinced that you and the Wheel entire are some kind of hoax played against it.

Exiting this plane via a mirror can lead to the desired spatial location but the wrong temporal one - many an adventurer has become lost in a potential timeline. These timelines are not actualized like the true timeline, thus everything there save for travelers is held frozen. This can be useful when seeking, for example, the secrets of Nessus though one must contend with the exiled Phanes and the fact that Powers often send agents to these timelines to keep watch. Finally, the longer one stays in a potential timeline the greater the chance that one ends up frozen in time as well. For these reasons most avoid entering potential timelines. With proper payment to the Nerra, the honorable race will ensure that you can exit in the true timeline if an appropriate mirror is available. They can also show you mirrors that, with the proper chronomancy, allow you to scry past, present, and prophecy.

At times, in addition to your own reflected image, you might find giggling children mischievously running through the mirrors. While they vary in all sorts of ways, they all sport domino masks in the shape of horizontal hour glasses. These children are actually time-dragons, and every so often they might pay attention to you in order to offer insights and advice to problems you haven't yet come across.

In the mirrors there is also rarely a young, precocious black skinned dragon whose flesh has patches rotted through to expose the yellowed skeleton beneath. This is an avatar of Chronepsis, who is much more solemn than the time dragons though his mentality is - like all living dragons (see below) - that of a child. He is prone to mood swings, at times patient and other times easily irritated. Thankfully these avatars can only communicate through the reflective surfaces - but beware when the avatar swims around a black egg that appears like a window into an unknown star filled expanse. That egg is the god itself (see below) & can thus bring considerable divine power through the mirror. Thankfully Chronepsis's personality is steadier when encountered in his full divinity.

Quaruts continually hunt chronomancers and anyone else who would threaten the integrity of the true timeline.

The Nexus of Dreams

An iridescent silver mist fills this plane, from which one can sail into the Sea of Silver Fire or into the Ethereal Borders of the Prime Material Worlds. Dreamwalkers can also travel through dreams to physical locations of dreamers or utilize portals to (but never from) Sigil. The entire plane is haunted by a submerged cacophony, like the sound of grand events far above a lake's surface are being heard while one is walking underwater along its bottom. These are thought to be the confusing echoes of some great conflict, held by some to be the Final Battle of the previous iteration of this Wheel. Some even suggest these sounds are the dream of the mysterious draconic deity Io (see below).

The plane's mist is breathable by all creatures but one has to focus in order to avoid being confused by the random assortment of sensory experiences - fragments of forgotten dreams. Anarchs can also shift this mist into desired landscapes, much like they do in Limbo on M-Prime.

There are giant cylinders of steaming ice made from frozen dream-mist, within which spiraling staircases lead to floors holding doors of all sorts marked with symbols from the Language of Dreams. Each doorway leads to the dreamscape of a different sleeping being, though multiple doors in different cylindrical citadels can lead to the same dream. The dreams of each cylinder are grouped in different ways - some contain the dreams of sleeping elves, the others the dreams of a particular planet. Few cylinders are large enough to hold all of their particular category, and in any case the doors continually appear and disappear as dreamers awaken or enter dream states while asleep. These cylinders are overseen by the beings known as "dreamslayers" in M-Prime, but they call themselves antharri. Here they appear in their true forms, draconic beings with featureless glowing white ovals for heads. They can enter dreamscapes as a means to take over bodies but like their kind on M-Prime this requires successfully fighting and killing the dreamer. They are loathe to do this, and will only perform such an heinous act if necessary to protect their icy citadel, other citadels, or the Nexus of Dreams entire. Usually if they enter dreams it's to simply delight in the experiences of the dreamer, though they might warn of dangers they become aware of by entering the dreamscapes of those gifted with prophetic dreams. (Not all prophets even know their dreams are prophecies, as a child in some backwater Prime might dream of the future holder of the Throne of Spring.)

Actually finding the citadel with the dreamscapes you wish to enter requires the assistance of the moonstone dragons, who act as cheery yet incredibly shy children.

The Corona of Shadows

Nyx's nature is that of the Womb, holding within Its darkness the continuous potential of birth. And from that warm nurturing night this Wheel was born out of a Cosmic Egg arising out of the Primordial Dark. The Logos, the Soma, the reverberation of Creation Songs all came from this ovum and where that yolk of Life stained Nyx's own substance arose the Corona of Shadows.

The Corona does not retain Nyx's nurturing essence, and like those who exit the Night into Sigil hunger can come with an unexpected force. However the ocean of swirling shades of gray contains within itself golden stars of Positive Energy whose illumination can heal as well as - at closer distances - harm much like the Positive Energy Plane on M-Prime.

All the shadows of the Wheel intersect with the Corona, allowing those who've mastered the mysteries of the plane to traverse the cosmos. Others can seek help from the shadow dragons to utilize the transitive nature of the plane, though like their kind in the Night District these are just as melodramatic and overly concerned with all things Gothic.

The Dalang,the Shadow Puppeteers, have their Initiation Schools on this plane. The stories they tell using the shadows, in conjunction with the Mysteries of Shadow, give deep insights into the nature of reality. The Dalang tell stories of the Time Before, those lost legends some claim belong to the prior iteration of this Wheel. What is known is that nothing in the Corona will strike first against a Dalang, that the shadows they cast on the walls have leapt into dimensionality to defend them, and that different schools have different stories of the Time Before. That last point sometimes leads to blows between Mystery Schools. The most contentious of competing tales in Sigil itself are those that say Factol Rhys willingly became one of the Masked to save the Ring or possibly the Wheel and those that say she was punished for her hubris.

Those fey, fiends, and giants of shadow found on Nyx are offshoots of the greater populations found in the Corona.

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Sigil: The Masquerade (Part

Sigil: The Masquerade (Part VII - Concerning the Sea of Silver Fire)

The Sea of Silver Fire

“Love is a fiend, a fire, a heaven, a hell. Where pleasure, pain, and sad repentance dwell”
-Richard Barnfield

There is only one Outer Plane, a sea of argent flames of varying translucence that recalls the Astral blended with the most turbulent areas of M-Prime's Elemental Planes of Fire & Water. While one need not fear burning nor asphyxiation (there's no need for breathing) one instead must be protected from the frenzied currents of psychic energy inherent to the fires of this place. Madness is not uncommon, and thus many an unwary traveler comes to spend their final days in the Bleaker's Madhouses scattered across the Ring. The raw magical energies of the plane can wreak havoc not just with cast spells but also those stored in a magic user's mind, the inherent magic that powers spell-like abilities, and the charges powering a magic item. All of those can cause wild surges when "ignited" by the Sea. The usual spells of protection from this or that won't work here - those spells themselves can be twisted into surging. The immunity to survive here requires either the utilization of rare artifacts or more commonly - but still rare - successful initiation into the Mysteries of the Silver Flame.

The properly prepared planeswalker, having made themselves immune to the natural dangers of this place, finds that one's mental focus allows flight through the argent conflagration much as it does on the Astral of M-Prime. While the translucent nature of the flame offers some visibility, using magic or psionics to enhance vision is recommended. Similarly while not actually damaging to one's ears the plane is awash with the sound of a blazing forest fire wedding to the violent slapping of the ocean waves during a storm. (Note that advanced Ciphers, monks, and some psions claim - and are backed by recorder stones - that for them the plane blends the sound of a crackling hearth fire with that of the sea gently lapping at the shore.)

Multiple Spawning Stones can be found in the Sea, each home for variants of slaad dedicated to serving different Slaad Lords. Storm-wracked Olympus has two peaks, as its shape is akin to a very rough approximation of two cones placed base to base. Instead of the Pit of Flame baatezu utilize the Star of Hell for punishment and transformation, a blazing moon of fiendish fire encircling Nessus. The Hellstar's opposite of sorts, Lunia, is a moon-sized sphere of holy water the color of dark wine. Rather than four gigantic volcanoes of Gehenna, there are at least 999 double peaked volcanoes serving as homes for the yugoloths. The geometric satellites of Acheron, the Orbs of Carceri, and the earth-bergs of Ysgard can be found floating either individually or in close promixity to other bodies that would, on M-Prime, be found in each plane. Various other planetary bodies match aspects of the Outer Planes of M-Prime, from the mechanical planets recalling Mechanus to the storms of chaos-matter echoing Limbo.

Because there are so many scattered lands representing the nine alignments, there are few exemplars that can match the power of those arch-exemplars found on M-Prime. For example, there are not just nine lords of devil-kind even though all of them give homage to the mysterious dark planet of Nessus. Lords that might have been deposed on M-Prime simply have their own realms, all of them ruling moons revolving around Nessus. Similarly other arch-exemplars rule moon-realms upon and within which they build their ideal architectures and wildernesses as they choose. These are found revolving around planets whose essence mirrors one of the Outer Planes found on M-Prime.

While the arch-exemplars are powerful, mortals have been known to imprison them, summon & bind them, or even put them in the dead book. However above the planar lords are the gods, each of whom rules a planet-sized body that serves as their realm. These bodies don't have to be actual worlds, they can easily be world-sized cities, palaces, stars, elemental pockets, labyrinths, storms, forests, and so on. Pantheons will exist as a solar system, the realms revolving around either the realm of the head god or a star that might be the pooled might of pantheon, a burning orb within which rests some important legendary artifact, a meeting place shielded by divine fire, or some other wonder altogether.

Within these "god planets" one finds numerous avatars of the deity indulging in varied experiences, counseling followers, leading varied religious and magical rituals, testing potential proxies, and even just wandering around. Many suspect this is because the gods feel confined in their true forms, which are large eggs of varied hues and patterns usually placed in the center of their planetary realms.

This brings up another reason so many avatars are necessary - defense. Gods can direct their planetary homes to crash into another god's realm, with avatars acting as the leaders of the invasion. However while an egg can be captured or hurled into the depths of the Sea, no god has successfully destroyed another deity's egg form. An egg (really a god) without any realm in the Sea can also begin reforming the silver fire into a new domain for themselves. In fact imprisoning an egg only works for so long as the trapped god's essence inevitably takes over the prison and makes it their new realm - this is how Inaki the Goddess of Birth & Resurrection came to have a realm that resembles a mausoleum made of bones ablaze with sunlight and overrun with floral life.

Various pacts have been made to prevent god wars, but every so often one finds deities coming to blows with their realms (and all inhabitants therein) serving as their weapons of choice.

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Sigil: The Masquerade (Part

Sigil: The Masquerade (Part VIII - Further Consideration of the Sea of Silver Fire)

Jovar

Eons ago, but still within accurately recorded history, a great war was fought between the Archons and Baatezu. Planets, realms, and moons across the Sea were destroyed and countless lives were lost as exemplars and gods of all kinds were drawn into the plane spanning battles. Finally Zaphkiel, the mortal martyr risen as King of the Archons, died a Second Death to banish the 666 greater pitfiend champions of Hell back to Nessus. Zaphkiel was one of the last known arch-exemplars who could claim to possess might equal to the gods, and his death resulted in the birth of the blazing white sun called Chronias. Even as the archons mourned his passing they heard his voice once more, though it now was youthful as a child. Zaphkiel told them to gather those Champions of Good who lay at but had not yet crossed Death's Door, and place them in a great arcane structure the archons would build according to the Revelation given to them by their fallen king.

This structure is called Jovar, the Glittering Vault, and is a polygon of thousands upon thousands of facets built around Chronias the Heavenly Sun. Each facet is the size of a city and contains a gemstone of varied size at its center, and within that gemstone is a fallen but still living champion of Good. As per Zaphkiel's instruction there was no thought given to allegiance to Law, Chaos, or Neutrality - only the Champion's work against Evil mattered. On the inside surface archons gather, making pilgrimages to gemstones from the varied buildings they've built on the inner sides of the facets. Though many of the gems are empty, the archons continually fill them by bringing new fallen but cursed heroes that cannot be healed even by the greatest of non-divine magic so that they might slumber in a deeply healing sleep.

Most pilgrimages are led by hound archons instructing their charges - newly born lantern archons - on the great War, on Zaphkiel's greatness, and the dead King of Archon's final warning these Champions are needed because Nessus' foolish avarice will one day threaten all of the Wheel.

Inevitable Factories

Across the Sea are great modron managed moon-sized machines churning away, each producing a certain kind of inevitable. The color & design of these factories - as well as the modrons therein - abstractly echo the inevitables they produce along with their purpose. For example Quarut factories might resemble time pieces, Marut factories might resemble sepulchres, and varakhut factories might resemble houses of worship.

There is also a non-running factory only the size of a house, akin to a three-dimensional snowflake crafted from rainbow bismuth crystal. It's thought that this factory produced only a single being, the Trickster Inevitable. This iridescent, crystalline being is found across the planes, continuously up to mischief that ends up - in theory at least - recreating and enforcing the natural order of the Wheel. The Trickster Inevitable is about the size of a half-giant, capable of transforming between humanoid and  arachnid forms. Its face seems to be that of a spider, though its visage is partly blocked by the partially torn-off mask apparently given to it by the Lady of Pain. Within its body is an extradimensional space that functions similarly to a bag of holding, and this is where the mischievous mechanical entity keeps several eggs that are believed to in fact be gods. Placing an egg into its chest cavity makes the Trickster into a proxy sharing the god-egg's domains. To access the divine power more fully requires rituals performed by willing participants which consumes their bodies but exalts their souls. Miracles the Trickster is known to have performed include fossilizing a forest that spanned across a mountain range, creating a pocket of inflammable phlogiston where the port moon of Uxatur now floats, disintegrating one of the three moon-realms of Grazz't, and blocking the power of the Monsoon Throne from ending a drought for a Prime Material nation.

At times an Inevitable Factory collapses in on itself, producing an anaxim abomination. Some suspect the Trickster's involvement in this.

Draconic Planets
Unlike the other god-realms, the world of Io holds no divine ovum. The planet's surface is a dessert of ground sapphire upon which rests the bones of dead elder dragons guarded by adamantine dragons whose personalities are like that of stubborn but also disciplined adolescents. They are aided in this stewardship by intelligent personable jet black metal anhydruts who are regarded as the adamantines' venerable elders. 

Half-buried in the desert sands are the gem encrusted skulls of seven undead Deep Dragons. These demi-dracoliches roam the planes in astral form, seeking answers as to how to reverse the snare of youthfulness that afflicts all living dragons.

The planet is surrounded by sapphire flames, and around this cerulean sun revolve the realms of four draconic gods:

The realm of Bahamut, the adventurous goody two shoes. The strong boy who sticks up for and befriends the "runt" races and continuously sends out his draconic worshipers (largely metallic dragons) who share his childlike yet admirable morals to do the same. The planet-sized palace, towers extending in ten major directions, thus has an incredible number of portals to worlds across the Prime. It's said that wherever evil dragons gather a portal will open from the Palace so that Bahamut's servants can help ensure Good wins the day.

The realm of Tiamat, who fits the archetype of the vain and callous queen of her teenage class. Her realm is a planet of red stone that possesses the same nature as Avernus on M-Prime. The surface of the world is beset with lesser baatezu, while the cavernous innards are where the dragons make their home. From the legions of chromatic dragons that dwell here, each a cruel arrogant teenager in personality, Tiamat selects the most worthy to enter into her inner circle of drama where she will continually find and reject paramours.

As the childish trickster goddess of the draconic pantheon, Aasterinian's personality is largely the same as on M-Prime. She dwells in a nebula cloud within which planar vortices randomly open and close, leading to the goddess' next adventure. It's said even she doesn't know which vortices will open where. Where the essence of her realm spills out temporarily (from one day to six months) grants an area a random selection of effects one expects on M-Primes Xaos-leaning Upper Planes (Beastlands to Ysgard). Within the cloud there are many moon-realms where Tulani Lords hold court and Lillendi troupes create their Mystery Plays. Both celestial types take advantage of the vortices, the former sending or even leading lesser eladrin to further Good or combat Evil, the latter to bring more initiates into particular Mysteries.

A sphere of pock-marked obsidian, whose inner hallways are a labyrinth leading to silver freckled light cyan god-egg. A feeling of grief and terror radiates from the egg, which is the divine form of Nathair Sgiathach. It's believed that the god of fairy dragons remembers the disasters which ended the First Iteration of this Wheel, and this is why all fairy dragons have the personality of deeply sad children - each psychically bears the suffering of their god even without his memories.

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Sigil: The Masquerade (Part

Sigil: The Masquerade (Part XI - The Dreadnoughts & the Planar Paths)

Dreadnoughts

Asleep in Nyx, the Corona, and the Sea of Silver Fire are a great number of what we on M-Prime call Astral Dreadnoughts, but they're just Dreadnoughts here as their tails end rather than become silver cords. It's not clear how many there are scattered throughout the plane, though few dare to consider their population as infinite.

Unlike the Night Serpents they have no known dreamscapes to enter, and when they are awake they bend themselves toward a singular purpose - the punishment of gods. Their singular, cyclopean eyes are akin to the central eye of a beholder save that instead of a ray of anti-magic their gaze twists divine power against itself. Clerics fall into agony, and proxies die outright, and while the wrath of a god cannot be so easily turned aside it is diminished enough for a swarm of them to destroy a divine realm. While they cannot crush a god-egg in their claws they can take the god with them to some mysterious location in Nyx. Eventually the god emerges in the plane its realm used to be but with much of its memory in fragments.

In the last thousand years this has only happened once, when the Dreadnoughts came enmasse to Orcus's planet-necropolis. Legends say the Dreadnoughts serve the Lady of Pain, and that Orcus had designs that threatened the Wheel entire. Rumor has it the god is once more in the Sea of Silver Fire, but has gone mad from the gaps in its memory.

Planar Paths

The rivers of Oceanus, Ma'at, and Styx touch varied realms and worlds, but you need the right key, guide, or ritual to traverse them. You start on a river on a moon ruled by a Solar, for example, and then with the proper key you cross over into a place Between where Oceanus runs as an ever-branching river through caverns of softly glowing gold. (For the Styx the caverns are green onyx with sharply glowing red veins, for the Ma'at they are jade in darkness.) Of course to exit at the desired - or really any - destination you need an exit key, a guide, a ritual...or you could just study the curious markings along the cavern walls, hieroglyphics depicting unknown events likely having occurred in a previous Iteration of this Wheel...

The Infinite Staircase works much as it does on M-Prime, with varied Good aligned moons and planets where lillendi guard the entrances.

The World Hydra extends across the planes of the Wheel, and with persuasion its heads might be willing to part with their secrets or even shift where on a plane they lead to. The different heads seem to possess different personalities, but many swear the World Hydra is merely acting in all these roles to ensure no one guesses at its own purposes. One thing it is always unwilling to discuss is its relationship to either the Night & Day Serpents or the gods of dragons, nagas, couatls, and other serpentine deities that are identified with the Archetypal World Serpent. Ask any of the heads the location of its tail or how & why its smallest (continuously pruned) branches are able to enter Sigil and it begins to wax on about metaphysics and mythology, refusing to ever give a straight answer.

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Sigil: The Masquerade (Part X

Sigil: The Masquerade (Part X - Concerning the Inner Planes)

The idea of the seasons having alignments comes from an old WotC board thread.

The Border Ethereal clothes the varied worlds of the Prime, leading off into the mists of Dreaming. The Elemental Echoes consist of hyper-dimensional "shells" both mirroring and influencing each world they surround, formed of one of the four elements or some paramental combination which reduces the number of echoes by two. For example a world might have encompassing hyperspheres of ice, earth, and fire or hyperspheres of smoke and ooze. This Echoes determine the composition of the Prime worlds, so that latter example would have - as one possible manifestation - a noxious atmosphere and a landscape of muddy swamplands. These separate shells ultimately end up blending together as one moves away from their respective worlds, leading to the Seasonal Courts.

Seasonal Courts

"He is the Seeker. He presses ahead through thicket and curtain. The canes all have thorns, but they do not draw blood. The curtains, cobwebs, caress him and trail from his coat sleeves. Palace halls have become forest paths, but somehow the farther view is always white with marble, and the floor, though mossy, is polished stone. The Palace Is, always, whatever its sleeping King happens to dream. At least this quest is only a gentle tease, not the ordeal other visits have been. Stonehouse follows a thread of pale sunlight through the half familiar maze, and the rustle in the dead and dying leaves is only mice. The King is willing to grant him an audience."
-Phillips, Holly. In the Palace of Repose . Wildside Press. Kindle Edition.

There are six known inner planes representing a season - Summer, Fall, Autumn, Winter, Monsoon, and Dry - and these are known as the Holds, Houses, Warrens, or most commonly the Courts. Each of these planes has a Throne, with whomever "sits" on the Throne determining characteristics of the plane as well the influence of the season on the varied Prime Material Worlds. The Throne is not always an actual chair, rather it is a representation of the Throne Holder's authority. It can be a geode cavern, a tree that reaches as high as a mountain, a single burning blue rose, a sword of boiling water, a ring of standing stones, a steed crafted from dawn light & dew, etc. The Throne itself holds the Divine Spark, but confers the power of divinity upon the one who holds it in turn - this is also the only tolerated divinity on each of the Seasonal Planes. The Thrones brook no competition from other gods of the Wheel. To hold a Throne is to be blessed with a tie to the Plane and all the Prime worlds when that season holds - of course this can easily become a vulnerability as when the lands under the sovereignty of a Throne suffer so does the Seasonal Ruler.

While those born on lucky worlds might come to see the movement of seasons as a basic characteristic of Nature, in truth the natural cycle of seasons is determined on every world by continually renegotiated treaties and pacts, with druids playing diplomats and sometimes banishers, tricksters, hostage negotiators, & enforcers in order to ensure a balance suitable to natural life. (The Inevitable Trickster has sometimes worked to ensure a treaty holds or is reached in the first place...though sometimes it is the Trickster who breaks the old treaty that might've held for millenia...)

Monsoon is currently held by the Court of Tears, which is moved by a sense of responsibility in the bringing of Life & Healing through the rains. Monsoons across the worlds rarely cause floods, often aid irrigation efforts, and oftentimes the waters bring varied magical blessings. Rain forests, verdant lands, and gentle seas make up the plane. Lahkna, her eyes like molten gold & her scales a mix of the rainbow's seven colors, the only known Day Serpent, currently holds the Throne of Rain, which has led to good aligned nagas and couatls to make their home here to honor such a grand incarnation of the World Serpent - even the gods of the nagas and couatls have sent avatars to the Court. That such a powerful servant of Goodness holds the Throne has also brought in a migration of aquatic sylvan beings, normally good-aligned aquatic races, storm & cloud giants, and varied fey & elemental beings associated with Air and Water including the Good Archomentals Ben-Hadar and Chan. Mortai float overhead, directing the weather as suits their Queen who allows them some mischief but never to the point of endangering any being on the plane. Celestials associated with rain, water, or air found on M-Prime's Upper Planes often visit to aid the Queen in spreading her benevolence to the worlds. Lahkna's deep sense of empathy has made the sufferings & injustices of the Wheel greatly pain her, and as such she has sent out her rains beyond the natural cycle where she can, using the downpours as planar vortices for the celestials to go through. Under the cover of storms the rain elementals, lightning elementals, and omnimentals in her service serve with the celestials in their endless war against Evil. Her concern for the greenery of worlds threatened by desertification has led her to become the patron of many aspiring avangions. Given the Trickster Inevitable stymied her efforts to end a drought Lahkna wants it apprehended for questioning.

Winter is ruled by the Heartless Court who believe in a natural union between life stealing Cold and the "blessing" of Undeath. This is due to the influence of the archfey holding the Throne of Winter known as Caelyn the Stillborn Angel. She emerged from the womb already undead, born to a horrified avariel queen that had her knights drop the babe into a canyon. Found & then raised by a coven of snow maidens (Yuki Onna) naturally drawn to her, Caelyn made her adoptive parents eventually see encrusting ice as a means of ordering Nature and undeath as a means of preserving societal wisdom. Now they serve as her most trusted advisors, handling most duties related to governance, freeing her to focus on how best to freeze over worlds and convert their populations to unliving immortals who will not - as mortals do every generation if not sooner - forget the lessons of history. Given her lawful designs, most  fey have either rebelled or ultimately proven unfit to serve, though the hoary hunters are happy so long as they can continue their cruel sport. White dragons, while selfish and petty, are too much akin to children (see below) to accept the horrors of war - they can be found across the plane but are not part of the war effort. The water elementals of law known as hydraxes, appreciating the Court's goals, have come in droves to serve. Seven Xixecals bound to serve the Throne have no choice but to fight for her. Many undead connected to ice, winter, and the elemental essence of cold have also joined the armies of the Stillborn Angel- perhaps the worst of these being the Shadows of Void and the Winter Wights they create every time they kill a foe.

Autumn is held by the Court of Rot, who celebrate the process of Decay as the Entropic movement from Life to Death. Members of the Doomguard have made a great base here as natural allies, but even few of their number can stay long in this insane realm where everything is held in a state of perpetual spoilage from whose rot are born the ghostlights. Evil fey abound in this place, encouraged to indulge their worst impulses by the dryad Alyana who holds the Autumnal Throne. Some say her forest - and thus herself and her sisters - were victims of tanar'ri experiments, others say her own vanity and selfishness led her down a path where she murdered her aboreal siblings. Whatever her past, in the Now she commands packs upon packs of horrid canines called the Hounds of Rot. These burgundy mastiffs have eyes of yellow flame, their overly large skulls housing jagged, misshapen teeth. The Hounds have their own Wild Hunts across the Prime, sometimes accompanied by an evil fey or rotting undead, but unlike natural animals they kill but only ever leave the carcasses to decay.  The Hounds also serve as companions to the mortals in her Order of the Maggot.

Summer is held by the Wyld Court, a realm of summer storms, bright sunlight, beautiful beaches, long days, and an explosion of Life. Animals with the Vivacious Template abound, awash with the Positive Energy that permeates this plane. Swarms of insects - especially mosquitoes - abound, one of the great irritants of the plane. Many vermin lords are initiated in this plane. Cold-blooded beings such as saurials and lizardfolk have set up nations across this plane, along with unintelligent reptiles and amphibians of varied sizes and types. Intelligent and unintelligent insects and arachnids have done the same, and all these competing kingdoms somehow end up warring despite the seemingly infinite land available. Admittedly, all these civilizations must compete not only with the local wildlife but also with the unruly elemental beings, sylvan creatures, and fey. The latter two kinds of entities often are found in the nomadic bacchanalia, revelries that threaten to draw the unwary into their enchanted madness. While shrouded in mystery, most believe current holder of the Summer Throne is the slaad Sorel, who some believe to secretly also be the Slaad Lord of Anarchy. Slaads of all types can be found wandering the plane, as well as Anarchists who've taken Sorel on as a kind of inspiring mascot or even a revered Archetype. Summer across the worlds is a time of rebellion and madness as visitors from this plane seek to spread the "fun" of wars and revelry.

The Plane of the Dry Season is held by the Court of Exchange, who respect the proper place between the seasonal rains...for a price. The Dry Throne is held by the Sivlupa the Queen of Dust Mephits, and her dust mephit subjects have built a mercantile empire as their Court that mirrors their civilization on M-Prime. However as they have no connection to the Negative Material Plane (which doesn't exist here), they don't share the sense of fatalism. Rather their attitudes are optimistic - after all one of their lowly kind not only united their race as Queen, but she also managed to claim the Throne of Dryness. However given the connection to drought and death, they do mirror the fashion sense of black fabrics but they see Death as a friend who gives them the necessary leverage in negotiations. Gods who represent both Death & Undeath are honored in Dust Mephit culture, with clerics of these deities also making pilgrimages to the Arch of Animation. Beyond their constructions of magically cemented dust, the plane consists of a vast land of desiccated plant life and long stretches of desert. Paramentals of Sun, Magma, and Silt freely roam, as well as dust quasi-mentals, desert fey, genies, and inevitable factories making the Anhydrut Inevitables. A few parched seabeds and salt licks hold those beings found on M-Primes Quasimental Plane of Salt. Undead who've died due to dehydration - such as ashen & forlorn husks - often get drawn into the plane and are bound to serve the Throne as if under a kind of geas. Unlike the usual negotiation between gods and spirits and druids speaking for Nature, the dust mephits are ambassadors in countless prime nations, continually negotiating and renegotiating the tithes to keep the dry season from extending overlong. These mephit diplomats are accompanied by undead guards, but these poor souls are always looking for someone to help grant their freedom and assist in their vengeance. This direct negotiation with mortals has forced Lahkna to send her own naga & couatl diplomats rather than go to war for every Prime nation that might suffer from extended to endless drought. Prolongers, ever seeking means to extend their lives, come to this plane in order to learn of a strange arcane secret known as Defilement that allows one to cast spells by fueling this magic with the lifeforce of the surrounding environment. Though the plane itself is inhospitable to most beings, the Merkhant faction maintains ties to the Queen who is one of their most successful members. Ten hunefers are bound in unwilling service to the Throne, each claiming to be the flesh of a demigod that died...even though those demigods are all living (and sometimes are more than demigods) as egg forms. Dry liches, however, are willing allies of the Court as the Queen sees their usefulness on the Prime.

Spring is held by the Eros Court, who see their season as the spiritual driver of both Birth and Resurrection. The plane recalls the Upper Planes of M-Prime and the celestial worlds of Good in the Sea of Silver Fire, a perpetual spring of blooming flowers, mating animals, and days and nights of usually perfect weather. However if this plane resembles any aspect of the Upper Planes it is Alfheim of Ysgard. Elves, nymphs and other sylvan creatures continually try to seduce or otherwise tempt mortals to come here and forget themselves, at least until these planars grow tired of their company and discard them back into their homeworlds on the Prime. Even the flowers release a hypnotic scent, and will o' wisps play the role of gentle fireflies. When the plane intersects with a Prime world, music from the forest depths also works the magic of enchantment. While not as organized or explicitly mercantile as the Parched Court this Court also sees the drawing in of "playmates" as a tithe of sorts. Those trying to break the connection, when it occurs, between the Plane of Spring and a primeworld will find the land beset by abeil bandits. The holder of the Throne of Spring is Aune the ghaele eladrin whose vanity increased every time she shed the Veil among the Primes she worked with until finally the needs of mortals were eclipsed by the adulation she felt she'd earned through her centuries of service. However some argue she has a sliver of her past celestial nature within her still as children suffering from cruelty who earnestly pray to her are sometimes rescued with changelings left in their place. These children are then brought up in service to the Court, which usually entails starting Mystery Cults of Spring on the Prime or helping trick mortals into the Court's arms. 

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74. Sigil: The Masquerade

74. Sigil: The Masquerade (Part XI - Concerning the Prime and the possibility of Itertation)

Beyond the influence of the Elemental Borders and the Seasonal Courts, the Crystal Spheres and the worlds therein largely mirror the expected structure on M-Prime. The crucial difference is the fact that the phlogiston is largely both inhabitable and non-navigable as almost the entirety of the Rainbow Ocean is aflame. Thankfully the Crystal Spheres are connected by a network of crystalline tubes that are pitch black emerging from a shell but fade into transparency so spelljammers can see the variegated blaze.

This network is just one of the oddities that suggest some great powers have worked to make up for some past calamity that struck this Wheel. Compare the dead Great Wyrms on "Planet Io" and the immature creatures that populate the Wheel, or the egg forms of the gods to their depictions in scriptures. Regarding the former, dragons seem to be born of eggs that are mysteriously cared for in the realms of the draconic pantheon before leaving via portal. With regard to the latter further evidence is the myths of the gods that speak of them being embodied, of having children, of performing miraculous feats. Perhaps these feats were performed by avatars, yet the Dalang wonder if their rituals would work given avatars don't have the same resonant echoes to their actions. For example the story of Hiatea defeating a Greater Branch of the World Hydra, and the Mystery rituals celebrating this moment can break planar connections including the Seasonal Courts' connection to Prime Worlds.

There also legends concerning the Twelve, as varied stories exist as to how they received their Masks but none of these events can be confirmed by any divination or even visiting the past by chronomancy. For immortals like Zadara or Zargon this could make sense as no known chronomancer can journey that far back, but how is there no discernible past for mortal born like Vecna and Rhys that would show us how they ended up orbiting the Ring? Apparently at some point - and it always seems to vary - the mortals among the Twelve simply vanish from their lives and end up as the Twelve.

One theory is that one of the Time Shadows made its timeline the reality, and cast the actual timeline into the Mirrors...but that can't be right...right?

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75. Sigilians in the Mists

75. Sigilians in the Mists

A torus floating in a Sea of Mist, where illumination comes from a soft ambient glow akin to the city being bathed in moonlight. This city greatly resembles the City of Doors on M-Prime, though the architecture & atmosphere leans Gothic and there are far more beings connected to undeath & lycanthropy. The Dispossessed and Prolongers, mirrored by the Guardians and Orders of Planes Militant, are all fully fledged factions here and hold great power in the City. The Bleakers run multiple asylums, as madness is far too common across the planes. The Sons of Mercy and Sodkillers never unified, and so compete for a place in Sigil's execution of justice. The Dustmen is more of a sect, as there is no Dead Truce to protect its members and Skall is a Darklord trapped by the Dark Powers in a domain. Other faction leaders who are evil remain in Sigil along with other major villains across the planes, as it is one of the few places the Mists cannot reach. The City of Doors is thus racked by gang violence and corruption, though this in turn results in an influx of celestials forever seeking to turn the tide toward the Good. The Lady rarely appears, the last time centuries ago to punish aasimon who had tried to forcefully & fatally deal with the varied villains running the City behind the scenes.

Going into the Mists leads to varied dark domains, though in such unpredictable fashion few try this. As far as anyone knows one cannot walk into the Mists and end in Sigil. Portals lead to varied dark domains, including the domains that have been made for the archfiends and varied other great evil planars. It seems the Dark Powers have made Ravenloft a fully fledged plane lying between the Outer and Inner portions of the Wheel.

Sigil is the one place where - if one is of the Chosen - can go from the plane of Ravenloft to the Wheel beyond, though in addition to the archfiends & evil archomentals almost all Rilmani and even many arch-celestials have been taken by the Dark Powers. Regarding the latter some suspect this is because as centuries go on it is more than likely celestials commit crimes for the sake of the greater good. That said the Wheel is a better place than M-Prime, given so many villains across the worlds and planes have been drawn into the Plane of Dread. Yet many wonder what it means that Ravenloft has gotten so powerful, given that even evil gods have found themselves drawn into the Plane.

There are actually only a few - perhaps 144,000 at any given time - who can pass from the Plane of Dread into Sigil and from there into the Wheel Beyond. If one is in Ravenloft, but not of the 144,000, one can use Sigil to access different locations in the Plane of Dread. If one is in the Wheel outside Ravenloft but not of the 144,000 then taking a portal to the Plane of Dread means you can still access Sigil but cannot go through portals leading to locations outside Ravenloft.

This has led to most seeing this Wheel as divided into the Plane of Dread and the rest of the planes, as so much of this Wheel is shifting into Ravenloft.