Cosmology of the Sundered Spheres
Diagram and Description are ©1995 by James Wilson
The Sundered Spheres exist outside the normal universe, in what some call a pocket universe or Externity. We know that everything in the Sundered Spheres, planets, stars, animals, and peoples, came from at least one and possibly many other universes. Any being who comes into the Sundered Spheres brings along a soul or spark of life that is trapped in the Externity, for nothing can return once it has entered. Upon entering the Sundered Spheres, however, each new soul grows six new souls, one for each of the Six Spheres. These additional souls or spirits change at death, and depending on the actions of each being, go either to one of the Four Heavens or the Five Hells, where some of the souls wither, and others flourish. Only in the High Heaven of Alvinyos do all seven souls continue to exist in a superior state to anything that exists in the Six Spheres themselves.
It is believed by the Great Elves that much of what was stolen by the Thief of Worlds to populate his private little universe remained unfinished. Some of the greater spirits that exist in our Externity are not as wise or great as one might expect from such powerful beings, and some posit that they are bereft of the guidance of their God. We do not know if there is one God of a single universe, or many Gods of many universes, or one God of many universes, but whichever it is, He or They have no power within the Externity, because it exists outside all normal existence. The Great Elves say that if God (whom they call the Highest) ever extended His influence into the Sundered Spheres, it would instantly collapse and everything in it would be destroyed--not killed, but rendered into nothingness, and because of the compassion of the Highest, He will not do that. He (or They) have formed a plan to reclaim all the beings in the Sundered Spheres, which seems to be a very long and slow plan to humans, but to the Great Elves it is nothing; we the committee suppose that it is very easy to be patient for a few millennia when one lives 100,000 years or more. However it has been nearly 2,000 years since the messengers of God (or the Gods) came into the Sundered Spheres, and that plan is now underway, though it still seems very slow going to we mortals.
When the Ancient Immortals who became the Great Elves first entered the Sundered Spheres, they did it deliberately, finding the rift in time and existence that the Thief of Worlds found before them. It took them a couple of millennia to realize they couldn't escape, and so they set about repairing everything that lay within their power. Opposing them were the Darrows, servants of the Thief of Worlds, and the first great war lasted for about 50,000 years. It finally ended about 43,000 years ago when the Thief himself, who then called himself Orashek the Prince of the Netherworld, fell in battle with Martheone the king of the Ancient Immortals. The story of what happened next is told elsewhere, but suffice to say that Orashek's heart could not easily be destroyed, and Martheone's son Uthender attempted to reclaim it, change it from evil to good. Instead the heart deceived him, and through him caused the Sundering which broke the worlds of the Externity into five parts, and changed the Ancient Immortals into the Twenty-one Kindreds. Some changed but little, retaining the grace and power of the Ancient Immortals, and these we call the Great Elves, but their children did not share that greatness, and became diminished with each successive generation. Others of the Ancient Immortals shrank in stature and became mortal, though they live longer than we humans. Still others became terrible monsters, undead beings that formed the Cold Hell for themselves to inhabit. Seven among the Great Elves did not give in to despair, but fought to heal the broken Externity, and with many allies they created a Sixth Plane, the Volutial, that bound the rest together. Then they formed the Lower Heaven of Calnos and made alliance with the Lord of the Cold Between the Stars and Dhatabhana the Mother of Necessity. The Sundered Spheres we call it still, but without the Seven, who we now call the Seven Archangels, they would be separated forever, and all life would vanish. For this great deed, which took several centuries to accomplish, we can only honor the Seven Archangels and all their kin and allies.
We have written a great deal more about these matters in the section on Religion, and mention only as much as is needed here to understand the origins of the Six Planes, the Heavens, and the Hells.
List of the Planes, the Heavens & Hells
The Sundered Spheres:
There are six spheres or planes of existence in our Externity, and because they are bound together by the threads of the Volutial Plane they interact with each other in ways that allow our worlds to exist and function. We humans see only the Natural Sphere or Physical Plane, so it seems to us to be all of reality. However without the other Spheres our bodies would be nothing but lumps of inert dust, unable to move, or think or really do anything. The physical substance of our bodies requires the power of the elements to move; a powerful magician can see all those elemental spirits moving in us; fire spirits move in our brains and along the nerves, water spirits in the blood, we breathe in air spirits and break it down to gas spirits which power the fire spirits. Even our physical substance is powered in the same way. A muscle is a war of earth and water elementals, but which are contained by the Physical Plane so that despite the enmity between them, in effect they work together so that our muscles move us.
The same is true of the other Spheres. We exist in all Six Spheres at once, and each of those Spheres is necessary for our existence. Besides the physical body we have five souls in the Spheres, and then there is the immortal spark that came from outside the Externity, making a total of Seven Souls. These souls will be described later in this document.
Basic Cosmology of the Sundered Spheres
The Spheres: AKA the Planes: Function:
Natural Sphere Physical Plane Matter, mechanical energy
Psychic Sphere Astral Plane Mind, intelligence, psychic energy
Antipodal Sphere Spiritual Plane Wisdom, conscience, mystical energy
Primordial Sphere Elemental Plane Emotions, passions, basic energies
Unnatural Sphere Ethereal Plane Intuition, insight, magical energy
Weird Sphere Volutial Plane Destiny, potential, liberty, combined energies
The Transitional Paths: Description
Radiant Bridge The Bridge between the Spiritual and Astral Planes and Calnos
Rivers of Sorrow The frosty and fiery rivers that run into the Cold and Hot Hells
Star Paths Frigid pathways between the Volutial Plane, Cold Between the Stars, and Exigentia
The Heavens: Description:
Alvinyos The High Hallows, Realm of the Three Divines
Calnos The Hall of Heroes and the Fields of Peace, Realm of the Seven
Cold Between the Stars The Realm of Emptiness, Realm of the Theosk
Exigentia The Realm of Necessity, Realm of Mother Nature
The Hells: Description:
Dream Prison Realm of Madness
Limbo Realm of Chaos
Nodosus Realm of Bad Luck and Knotted Fates
Cold Hell Frozen Realm of Endless Fear, Realm of the Four Malices
Hot Hell Burning Realm of Endless Hate, Realm of the Darrows
List of the Seven Souls
Additional information on the Seven Souls will be included in the descriptions of the Six Spheres. The name of each soul is given in Elvish, as they first described these souls, and then some common names used by we mortals.
Sphere: Soul: Additional Names:
Natural Nhiso 'the body' Soma (Kavons), Khat (Yerra), the Flesh
Natural? Orzith 'true soul' Anima (Justenes), Sahu (Yerra), the Divine Spark
Psychic Nebh 'thought' Psyche (Kavons), Yb (Yerra), the Will, the Intellect
Antipodal Bhar 'bright spirit' Pneuma (Kavons), Akhu/Sheut (Yerra), the Spirit, the Light
Primordial Zhitiel 'breath of life' Elan (Justenes), Sekhem (Yerra), the Passions, the Temper
Unnatural Orhoso 'soul skills' Genius (Justenes), Ba (Yerra), the Gifts, the Talents
Weird Mohhal 'secret name' Trilix (Justenes), Ren (Yerra), the Secret Name, the Silvery Cord
on the Cosmology
of the Sundered Spheres
The committee has striven to maintain a similar tone throughout these works, but in this particular case it was seen as impossible. Instead of attempting to maintain a certain scholarly detachment in describing the various planes, heavens and hells, etc, we were required to gather information from sometimes dubious but almost uniformly biased sources, and therefore have allowed those biases to remain in the text. While we did clear up the language to a degree, the opinions given are not the opinions of the committee in general, but rather of those magicians and priests that explained these matters, the Natural Sphere being the exception.
The Six Spheres
The Natural Sphere or Physical Plane
A human being, in a natural state, knows nothing besides the Natural Sphere. What a human sees, feels, and experiences seem to all be part of the Physical Plane, and without greater understanding, and the use of magic, that is all he or she might ever know. A relatively stupid man with no education and no comprehension of magic lives, as he supposes, entirely in the physical world, and has no way of knowing that much of what he considers physical is in fact metaphysical. The Natural Spheres is in a way the focus of all the other Spheres, because without the physical component the energies of the metaphysical spheres lose their direction and purpose. Each of the other planes has beings that exist solely in that sphere, but the Natural Sphere does not; nothing is purely physical. Even a rock requires the energy of the earth elementals to maintain its state of solidity. The Natural Spheres is always listed first among the Spheres, because it is the center of them all. The esteemed leader of our committee, Willard von Adler, wishes to add that besides a very stupid man, anyone from another universe will also come into this world knowing nothing but the Natural Sphere. He adds:
"When I arrived here from Earth, little more than twenty years ago, I had no understanding of anything beyond the Natural Sphere at all. It took years to comprehend their interactions even a little, and despite much study and the kind patience of my colleagues of the committee, I still do not really grasp it fully. We hope that this work will be returned to Earth, as there is word that it may be possible to send very small objects back to another universe, but only to the Earth, and the cost of such magic is excessive--ten years of life--and that so far only one person has managed to open such a gate for about 5 seconds. To those on Earth that ever read these words, the idea of the Planes or Spheres may seem very difficult, because while such things exist in fiction on Earth, many don't believe in anything metaphysical, that the physical world is all there is. From my experience here in the Sundered Spheres I believe that there are planes of existence in my universe as well, but that they are much more tightly bound together, so that they cannot easily be separated the way they are in this Externity. This is mere speculation, but if you consider radio waves and gravity, how they move through the same space at the same time, and yet are invisible to the eye, while having a real effect upon the physical world, you may catch an inkling of how the energies of the metaphysical spheres work upon the Natural Sphere."
At the Sundering some of the Ancient Immortals were trapped in the Physical Plane alone. These two of the Twenty-one Kindreds are the Mischievous Kindred, also known as House Elves or House Spirits, and the Curious Kindred or Nature Spirits. These beings are neither good nor evil, but do as they must do according to their natures. Some do harm, some help, but they have very little freedom, following laws set at the Sundering that they cannot break. Though we call them spirits, and they may be invisible to us at times, they are in fact purely physical beings, the only purely physical beings, having no other souls, though they do receive power and energy from the other Spheres.
There is no ruler of the Natural Spheres, as many different being contest its space, including we paltry humans.
The Psychic Sphere or Astral Plane
It is the fondest wish of many an Astralist to bring the beauty and order of the Psychic Sphere into the Physical world. One who has not seen cannot understand the glorious harmony of the Realm of Dreams, and to convey it with words is a sorry fate, for no words can do it justice. When one first rises into a transcendent state and looks upon the Astral Plane, it is hard to comprehend what is being seen. It is a quiet place, but with an undercurrent of music, endless blends of harmony, and the diaphanous clouds and colorful mind-sparks pulse in time to those harmonies. Every mind, either of human or beast or Great Elf, exists in the Astral Plane, visible at first as a mere point of light like a star, but to those who have learned the ways of the Psyche, each mind is wholly visible, every memory, every thought, every desire, plain and clear to see. To those beings who live wholly within the Psychich Spheres, the ties of love and friendship, hate and enmity, are also clear.
There Tuteri the Magus rules over the Genials and Kathars, beings of pure psyche, who work to make every mind in the Psychic Sphere move upon the same harmonious paths by the creation of dreams. The Genials strive on behalf of mercy, creating dreams that will inspire wonder and ambitious imagination. They use kind, gentle dreams, and send daydreams as well as visions of the night. The Kathars contend on the part of justice, believing that it is necessary to sometimes warn dreamers of their foolish thoughts and wicked ambitions, and use fearful nightmares to increase each mind's ability to imagine the sufferings of others and to empathize with any who must suffer. In this the Genials and Kathars are opposed to each other, believing their their way is best, and other approaches are wasteful and pointless. However Tuteri knows that both approaches are helpful, and allows them to struggle in each and every mind, thus giving everyone a chance to see both the beautiful and the ugly results of their thoughts and dreams. In this he is in accord with the Three Divines, for justice and mercy are both necessary components of good.
Tuteri is among the most adept at understanding the patterns of fate, and he may send dreams of the future to those who have particularly strong minds. Those who have learned the ways of the Psychic Sphere he will also lend power, allowing them to alter the Physical Plane with nothing but the power of the mind. These abilities may include simply moving objects, or seeing things far distant, or even the power to speak mind-to-mind, or comprehend the surface thoughts or even read the memories of another being. Such powers are very rare, and most magicians prefer to take a simpler path, but the greatest of Astralists have always been able to do things only dreamed by other magicians.
Upon a time many centuries ago one of the Kathars rebelled against Tuteri and created the Dream Prison, which is connected to the Psychic Sphere so tightly that not even the Three Divines have been able to loose it. It is the purpose of Gaueko Lord of Madness to trick minds of the Astral Plane into insanity, and he has many followers who are clever and stealthy, who steal along the harmonious patch sowing discord. It beggars belief that any being of the Psychic Sphere could ever wish to destroy its gorgeous symmetry, and yet every one of the beings of the Dream Prison was once a Genial or Kathar.
The Antipodal Sphere or Spiritual Plane or Spirit World
As my dear colleague wrote of the Psychic Sphere, words are not enough to describe the wonders of the Antipodal Sphere. How does one describe the light of righteousness, or the darkness of wickedness? We all see the light of the sun or of a flame, and the darkness that is the absence of light, but there is much more to it than that. The Spirit World is a place of light and darkness, yes, but not simply illumination and its lack. There darkness is palpable, and wicked deeds are visible in that darkness, which brightness also touches us, and noble deeds shine brighter than stars. If one learns the spells required to see the Antipodal Sphere, at first it seems a ragged, cloudy place, full of strange lights and patches of darkness. This is most disconcerting at first, because it takes time for any mortal to recognize the good and evil within themselves, and at first that is all one can see. Because we are used to light only illuminating, we tend to focus on the darkness, and when one first looks upon his or her spirit and sees how much darkness exists, it is easy to fall into despair. It requires great strength of will to look beyond, so see the whole of oneself, and to then see how all physical creatures, even animals, have light and dark within them. Only those beings who live within the Spirit World are beings wholly of light or of darkness, and they strive continually to bring mortals, and indeed every spirit, under their influence. It is here that good and evil, light and dark, strive for supremacy, but their battlefield is the Bhar or spirit, though perhaps the Yerra had it right instead of the Great Elves, calling the brightness of the spirit Akhu, and the shadow Sheut. The Yerra say we have eight souls instead of seven, and divide the Bhar in two, but from my own experience I think they are wrong. There is no division within a single person's pneuma, for every deed, righteous or wicked, is a part of the same soul.
Any person born in the Sundered Spheres will start with a bright, pure spirit, so bright that it is almost painful to look upon. Those who come here by the wiles of the Thief of Worlds grow a spirit to match their virtues within days. Wicked deeds both add blotches of darkness to the spirit, and dim its brightness, and it is possible to become entirely dark, with barely a glimmer of light left. Thus it is easy to see the difference between a good man and a wicked, simply but looking into the Spiritual Plane. However evil loves disguise, and there are many spells to help those with darkened spirits appear bright, and also the reverse, though desiring to appear wicked is rare enough.
The most common of the purely spiritual beings are the Albinic Wights and the Gulech Wights. Albinic Wights appear as little white feathered serpents, with multi-colored wings and jewel-like golden eyes. They continually urge every spirit to do right, and when a good deed is done, they actually eat the darkness that is freed from the spirit. Gulech Wights are small greenish black dragons, with bat-wings and envy-green eyes. They urge us to do evil deeds, and feast upon the light as the soul dims. There is something of a balance with many people, who are not particularly good or particularly evil; their spirits are battlegrounds between the Albinic and Gulech Wights, and their souls seem almost gray from the change of darkness and light. However those who have habitually chosen good, no matter their defects or failures, become more and more immune to the influence of the Gulech Wights, until they are surrounded by Albinic Wights all the time, and if they do something wicked, it is because of their own desires instead of any outside influence. These can actually consciously feel the influence of the Albinic Wights, and may often be given a greater good spirit as a companion. Naturally the reverse is true, and those who habitually choose evil become ever more influenced by the Gulech Wights, and may be given a foul spirit as a companion.
The Spirit World has not one ruler but two; the Bright Spirits are led by the Tente the Good Serpent, a vast, powerful being who sacrificed herself to save the Yerra by bringing them into the Sundered Spheres. The Seven Archangels couldn't bring her fully back to life, but they brought her into the Antipodal Sphere and gave her power to survive and thrive, and she has ruled the good spirits well for nearly 3,000 years. She is assisted in this by the Twelve Lords of Light and the Five Simurghs, as well as many good spirits of far greater power than the Albinic Wights.
Opposing Tente is Kaike the Evil Serpent, who lusted to slay and eat all the Yerra, and hated Tente enough to follow her into the Spirit World, even though it meant giving up her physical body. She rules over the dark spirits with an iron fang, and her chief servants are the Twelve Sphinxes, the Nine Barsychoi and many other wicked spirits of terrible power.
It is my opinion that the real difference between darkness and light in the Spiritual Plane is really a desire for happiness or unhappiness. The Bright Spirits desire every spirit to be happy, while the Dark Spirits work for misery for all. Bright Spirits are happy themselves, they are joyful, even when they lose a soul to the Dark. Those who have not seen them cannot know how much they lift us up, how they strive always to make us like them, joyful and fulfilled, while wicked spirits want us to be like they are, filled with anguish and hate and gloom. If everyone could really see the Antipodal Plane, not just see but understand, there would be very little wickedness in the world, for all beings, even animals who have such limited minds, desire to be happy. If they could only see what I see! Yet even I, who have seen so much and who have spoken to the Lords of Light and even the Good Serpent herself, remain full of error and I still make mistakes, even wicked mistakes, despite that experience. Yet I do not despair, because the Bright Spirits do not; they lift me up after every fall. If only all mortals could feel the same!
The Primordial Sphere or Elemental Plane
Many of you may believe that the Primordial Sphere is a place of chaos. That emotions are always untrustworthy, that fire and earth are just as whimsical as air and water. You are wrong. The Elemental Plane is as necessary to life as any other Sphere, and even though it is a place where order opposes disorder, even that contention is necessary to keep you breathing. Take your own physical body! It is composed of these competing elements. Fire and Earth for Law, Air and Water for Chaos, yet each has rebels too, just as necessary. Fire is lawful, but Electricity rebels against it, being chaotic. Yet the warmth of your body is not the only part Fire has to play. The little sparks of Electricity that control your body are chaotic rebels against the Lord of Fire, yet they serve his purpose and give you the ability to think and control your body! Your flesh is composed of a composite of Earth and Water, which hate each other and struggle against each other constantly, but in you they are symbiotic, and give you bones, muscles, blood, and skin. Even your hair is partly Water, partly Earth. Air is necessary to live; you breathe in chaotic Air, and your body breaks it into lawful Gas, the rebel against Air. The Gas you need goes through your lungs into the rest of your body, while the Gasses you don't need are exhaled. Even the food you eat converts to Gas, and then is expelled back into chaotic Air when you are done with it. There are only two rebellious elements that have no place in your body; Void, the rebel against Earth, and Ice, the rebel against Water. We humans would usually saw lawful is better than chaotic, yes? That would be very foolish. Chaotic water gives us life, and is necessary to all life, but if the water in our bodies turns to lawful ice? Death!
So it is in every part of the Externity. Everything in it is composed of parts of the Elements, and though they struggled against each other and hate each other, they are all of them necessary components of all existence, even the nothingness of Void. The four chief elements are Air, Earth, Fire and Water. Air and Water are chaotic, Earth and Fire are lawful. There are four rebel elements: Gas, Void, Electricity and Ice. Gas and Ice are lawful, Void and Electricity are chaotic. Yet in all cases all the Elements follow laws, and all of them change in ways and times that seem chaotic. Any who has watched a fire burn a building cannot predict how the fire will eat the wood. What seems like the most logical path is often wrong.
Remember that the Elements bring us not only these necessary energies but also the passions and emotions of our minds and bodies. Some think that the world would be far better without emotion. Fools! Reason and logic are very useful tools, but can be misused as easily as any other tools. Many times feelings are better guides than reason, and knowing the difference is an essential part of growing into a fully sapient person. Denying the emotions is like destroying all ice, because it might kill us. If ice vanished from the world it would be destroyed. If we separated all Air into Gasses, we would die, and so would everything else. The very Gas we exhale and cannot use is breathed in by plants! If we left only the Gas that we need, the world would end. So do not deny your emotions and passions, but strive to understand them. Some claim that passions, at least, are bad, but if you are married, are you better off for feeling a passion towards your spouse? Reason should not rule emotion, but channel it, using the competing feelings in the same way the Elements compete but in the end create an essential balance.
I have seen all the lords of the Primordial Spheres. Rimmon the Lawgiver rules the lawful Elements, and Zur Lord of Disorder rules the chaotic. The Agazaya the Wind Dragon rules the air, while Caltsase the Gaseous Serpent rebels against her. Mantus the Earth Dragon rules the Earth, while Vanvor the Abyssal Serpent rebels against him. Atar the Fire Dragon rules Fire, and his rebellious prince is Fornthac the Lightning Serpent. Nereus the Sea Dragon rules Water, and against him strives Cuelsura the Ice Serpent. Many Elementals serve both sides, and while they all struggle for mastery, it is the wisdom of the Three Divines and the Seven Archangels their servants that no Element ever gains against the balance, and in the end, it is Balance that makes the Elemental Plane function.
The Unnatural Sphere or Ethereal Plane
In order to understand the Unnatural Sphere, one must first recognize that there is, in point of fact, nothing unnatural about it. It is without question very difficult to understand, and Ethereal beings are very different from anything mortals are likely to meet with in everyday life, therefore at first blush it may seem very unnatural indeed. In truth it is a place of contention, but includes all the contentions of the other Spheres. Justice and Mercy strive in the Psychic Sphere, Good and Evil in the Antipodal, while Law and Chaos struggle eternally in the Primordial. In the Unnatural Sphere there are four main sides: The Seelie Court and the Faerie Queen battle for Good, the Unseelie Court and the Hag Queen strive for Evil. The Huldreking and the Huldre Realm contend for Law, and the remaining Chaotic faeries are too disorganized to do anything but occasionally though some discord into the mix. The balance in the Unnatural Sphere changes often, because the actions of the faeries themselves are not the only way the Ethereal Plane changes; actions in the Natural Sphere have serious consequences there.
To the untutored eye none of this is obvious. The Unnatural Spheres seems a place of madness and confusion at first glance, with gorgeous fields of jewel-petaled flowers lying beside rotting trees with copper or iron limbs and rusty leaves. Silver pools hold fish of translucent green with steel teeth and insatiable appetites. Faerie castles of silver and gold rise above emerald forests, and crumbled towers of tin and lead lie in deserts of striped black and white sand. To make matters worse, the Unnatural Sphere moves, turning upon an axis under the multicolored sky, and is shaped like a funnel, at the bottom of which lies a gate through the Planes to the Natural Sphere. Somehow every being in the Unnatural Sphere is linked to a gemstone in the Natural Sphere through that gate, and that is how mortals power magical objects.
The four kinds of faeries that live in the Ethereal Plane are four of the Twenty-one Kindreds frozen in their current state by the Sundering. The Arcane Kindred are the Seelie Court, and they are connected to tourmalines, hyacinths, topazes, rubies, sapphires, beryls and chrysoberyls. The Mistaken Kindred follow the Huldreking, and link to amber, diamonds, and turquoise. The Mad Kindred are the chaotic faeries who follow no leader and are flighty and impossible to control. They are connected to jade, lapis lazuli, kunzites and garnets. The last are the Renegade Kindred or Unseelie Court, who inhabit quartz, obsidian, opal, flint, jet and amethyst. Amethyst faeries are actually rebels against the Unseelie courty but they are too cruel and ruthless to be included in the Seelie Court.
Properly speaking, every being of the Unnatural Sphere is a faerie, but other beings are sometimes called so as well, though the exist only in the Natural Sphere. Humans especially get them mixed up, and blame things on even the Seelie Court that have nothing to do with the events in question.
Sometimes faeries become familiars of magicians, and help them funnel magic through the gemstone linked to the faerie. These faeries must have a generally similar ethic outlook with the magician; the Seelie Court will never work happily with an evil magician, and if compelled, will do everything possible to make spells fizzle and enchanted objects break. If a faerie is killed while trying to compel obedience it causes a curse to attach itself to either the person doing the enchanting or the object being enchanted. Most magicians are wise enough to stick to those faeries that agree with them ethically, but there are always exceptions.
The more powerful faeries of the Ethereal Plane are attached to large gemstones in the Physical Plane, and so those with jewelry might be using dead stones for looks alone, but any particularly beautiful gem will almost certainly be connected to a faerie and be worn for the magical power that gives.
The Weird Sphere or Volutial Plane
The Volutial Plane is shaped like a great spiral web, with infinite strands or trilixes emanating out from the center. The individual strands mingle in a great pattern that is sometimes very orderly, and sometimes quite tangled. The center of the spiral is the Confluential Nexus, a gleaming land of crystal and silver where the trilixes are created. The trees are crystal with leaves of silver, and the grass and shrubs are also of several silvery shades. A crystal palace at the center of the nexus is the home of the Talvasi or Fates, who rule the Volutial Plane and are the spinners of the trilixes.
Easy enough to describe eh? But not so easy to explain. Each Trilix or Silvery Cord is attached to an individual being, of any of the Planes or all of them, and for humans, the Trilix anchors the Seven Souls together, so that they work in harmony for each person. A Trilix is called so because it is formed of three strands or skeins. The Three Talvasi each are responsible for one of the three skeins, but the skeins themselves are spun by spider-like creatures that serve the Talvasi and spin skeins at their direction. The three skeins are serendipity, necessity and opportunity, or if you prefer, luck, fate and freedom. Thus the Talvasi do not force their will on all by braiding the threads together, but allow each creature the opportunity to choose between need and chance, and most of use choose a blend of the two.
The endless choices we make, the whim of happenstance and the essentials of life, all are woven together in a gorgeous tapestry that can be perceived, and even understood, though even the oldest of the Great Elves have difficultly discerning much of the future. It is possible to see confluences of strands at places that will be important in history, or to the Three Divines, things like that. But to actually predict the future from observation of the Volutial Plane is something only the Three Divines have ever done with much success. Even they cannot tell all futures, because liberty is built into every Trilix, and any choice may have echoes that enhance the weave and beautiful the tapestry, or strangle many Trilixes into a knot that cannot be undone.
There are many interlopers in the Weird Sphere, some from Exigentia, and some from Nodosus, who work to destroy the braid and leave only one of the three skeins intact. The Predestinators from Exigentia strive to keep only necessity alive, as Mother Nature of Exigentia wishes for all things to follow a simple and ordered path in the way that animals do; instincts and needs, but no liberty and especially no chance. They can't do this alone; the being in question has to choose to abandon luck and freedom. Indeed, some believe that animals once had sapient minds and could speak, but they traded their free will for a fixed destiny in Exigentia. Whether true or not, no matter how hard they strive a Predestinator can only partially damage a Trilix without the help of the being that belongs to it. Those who accept the preeminence of necessity in their lives go to Exigentia in death.
The Araneals of Nodosus struggle instead of kill need and freedom, leaving only serendipity behind, so that all things happen according to chance. They too can only damage the Trilix unless the owner of the Trilix chooses to abandon free will and necessity and allow luck to govern his or her life. This is not common, as Araneals don't care whether good luck or bad luck follows their intervention, and those who allow luck to tangle their fate into a knot end up in Nodosus, where only bad luck exists.
So important is the Volutial Plane and the task of the Talvasi that many thousands of beings voluntarily quit the Heaven of Calnos and join the Silver Guardians, who protect the Confluential Nexus and patrol the entire Weird Sphere to stop those intent on damaging or thwarting the work of the Talvasi. These are usually those who would sit at the table of Saint Coram in the Hall of Heroes, but who have decided to lead a second life as a guardian to continue the fight against evil. A Silver Guardian is a magical construct devised by Saint Meduran and then inhabited by the souls of a man or woman who died in a good cause. There are few Silver Guardians to patrol such a vast space as the Volutial Plane, but their efforts are often assisted by expeditions from Calnos.
The Transitional Paths
Linking the Planes to the Heavens and Hells are the Transitional Paths. These can be entered only by the spirit of one who is dead, or one of immense magical power or astounding righteousness, for they are guarded by mighty champions. At death, the physical body loses connection to all the other souls, leaving only the Nebh (Astral) and Bhar (Spiritual) souls bound by the Silvery Cord or Mohhal (Volutial soul). There is no list of deeds that can be done to earn a Heaven or deserve a Hell. Generally speaking, to travel the Radiant Bridge to Calnos and possibly on to Alvinyos, the most necessary prerequisite is to avoid moral slavery. Evil deeds build chains of remorse and fear and doubt that weight down a Bhar and confuse a Nebh, so that Calnos becomes repugnant. Many good deeds are not enough, if the person in question is also a slave of his or her passions, nor are most evil deeds enough by themselves to drag one down to the Hells. The difference is between freedom and slavery; those who embrace freedom, in other words take responsibility for their actions and strive to improve, generally end up in Calnos, and those who are particularly noble and good rise to Alvinyos to serve the Three Divines directly. Those who trap themselves into the slavery of wicked passions and foul deeds, and who continually blame somebody, anybody else besides themselves for their bad deeds, usually end up floating down the Rivers of Sorrow to the Hot or Cold Hells.
Those who embrace the way of the Theosk travel the Star Trails into the Cold Between the Stars, and those who follow Dhatabhana, also known as Mother Nature, take those same trails to Exigentia. There are no Transitional Paths required to enter the Dream Prison or Nodosus, as they are really almost adjunct parts of the Psychic, Primordial and Weird Spheres respectively.
The Radiant Bridge
Rising from the Psychic and Antipodal Spheres is the Radiant Bridge. It appears to be made of crystal with many colored lights flowing through it, though the most common color is a golden, sunlike glow. When a person dies, the Silvery Cord ties them to the Bridge, and they rise up very quickly to Calnos, and if worthy, even further to Alvinyos. The Radiant Bridge connects both heavens to the spheres of the mind and the spirit, and only those who have remained bright can ascend. The Guardian of the Radiant Bridge is Zronya the Shieldmaiden, who commands a great army of heavenly beings to ensure that only light spirits may ascend. She has many times defended the Bridge against evil beings, and her host remains ready at all times.
The Rivers of Sorrow
There are more than fifty of Rivers of Sorrow leading the Antipodal and Primordial Spheres into the Cold and Hot Hells and five more that lead to Limbo. They are a mixture of frosty water and fiery lava, and those cast into its stream struggle mightily to avoid being carried down to their just recompense. The Rivers or Sorrow are terrible in more ways than one, making a doomed soul feel that it is being burned, drowned, and frozen all at once, even while the current carries it inexorably towards the Hells. All struggle is vain, and they are washed down to the Hells no matter how hard they try to avoid it. The Guardian of the Rivers of Sorrow is Turris the Dreadful, a powerful warrior who patrols the rivers all alone in a boat that alone can travel the rivers safely. He ensures that no ghost returns to haunt the living world, and that no Darrow of the Hot Hell or Liche-lord of the Cold do anything to damage the Rivers themselves.
The Star Trails
There are two Star Trails, one linking Exigentia and one the Cold Between the Stars to the Weird Sphere. Only beings who have given up part of their Trilix or Volutial Soul can travel the Trails, leading to their chosen heaven. They are in appearance merely a wispy cloud in the darkness between the stars, and while the souls of animals keep the Trail to Exigentia very full, only a few ever tread the path to the Cold Between the Stars. There is no guardian of the Star Trails, no is any needed, because the only way to reach the path is through the Volutial Plane.
The Heavens and Hells
While religion may be a matter of doubt in some worlds, in the Sundered Spheres there can be no doubt, except through self-delusion. The Planes and their connections to the Heavens and Hells are well-known and can be verified objectively by anybody who takes the trouble. We know that those who choose to do wickedly will condemn themselves to the Hells; the Judge does not do so, nor is there any need for judgement. The chains of their own chosen slavery drag them down the Rivers of Sorrow. Those who rise to the Heavens too rise because they are not bound by any bondage, but instead chose freedom and enlightenment. They cannot help but rise to the Heavens.
The Four Heavens:
Built by the Seven Archangels in preparation for the coming of the Three Divines, Alvinyos, also known as the High Hallows, is a place of light and beauty, where stand the Thrones of the Three and the Hall of the Saints. The Prophet Drann and all his Successors live there, save Saint Erlisle who is still living. Those mortals who live particularly noble lives, such as those we call Saints, ascend to Alvinyos when they die, or in many cases, when they are transported there. Those who are not named Saints, but who lived lives worthy of Sainthood are called Supernals, and these beings of white flame serve the Three Divines as messengers whenever needed. There are no guards in Alvinyos, nor any need for such, for no evil thing can enter the High Hallows, such is its purity. The Three Divines, Avenger, Rewarder and Judge, do not divide this heaven between them, but share all things, and even the three thrones that face each other in a circle. The Hall of the Saints rises around the thrones, also circular, and the glittering fields and forests of crystal and flaming white surround both. Music flows through Alvinyos continually, a perfect music such as cannot be found anywhere else. There are only a few thousand Supernals in Alvinyos, but it has been prophesied that many more will rise to the High Hallows when the Seventh Successor is chosen at last.
The Radiant Bridge goes through Calnos to reach Alvinyos, but only the Seven Archangels may visit the High Hallows at will.
When the Seven Archangels first began to fight the effects of the Sundering, they needed a base from which to work. They created the Fields of Peace, called Calnos, and used it as a fortress where they and the other Angels their children could rest safely. In time they used this as a resting place for all the spirits of those who had died without enslaving themselves to the Hells, and build Dalavond, the Hall of Heroes, as their own residence and the place reserved for the spirits of those who died particularly well. The Hall of Heroes is also a training ground for heavenly messengers, making the reward for heroism...more work to do. Calnos is more like another Plane than a physical place; it can be reached only across the Radiant Bridge and is vast, far larger than an ordinary world. The Fields of Peace include huge forests, mountains, lakes and rivers, and all of them ideal and perfect. Calnos is a place of extreme beauty and wonder, and the spirits of the dead wander there free from care or want, little noticing the passage of time. In Dalavond there is a closer attention to the doings of the living worlds, and those heroes chosen to be messengers or amashans often study both the past and as much of the future as possible before traveling to the mortal spheres. For all the history of the world can be seen in Calnos, in a great hall of crystals that are not unlike the enchanted memory crystals we use today. They hold the memories of all the dead, so that every detail of everything that ever happened is kept and recorded. From these crystals the amashans can learn anything they need to know to fulfill whatever mission they are assigned, and most of their missions are to inspire, rather than to take a more active role. The balance of power between Calnos and the Hells is very fragile, and the Angels and Archangels rarely take an active role in conflicts, because if they do, the Hells may also send more powerful beings into the mortal spheres. However most of the time it is the denizens of the Hells that break the peace, and amashans or Angels are sometimes required to balance them out, and on rare occasions, the Archangels themselves will come to the fight. We know that most of the fight between good and evil rests on the shoulders of ordinary men and women, rather than heavenly beings, but like their enemies in the Hells, the Angels and Archangels use influence and inspiration to help those who strive to do right, and in most cases, use we human beings as unknowing messengers of heaven. If you have ever said just the right thing at the right time to help somebody else, or heard just the right thing to inspire you at a moment of doubt or dread, then you have seen how that influence works.
The Cold Between the Stars
It is hard to imagine the realm of the Theosk a heaven, yet it is. Some call it the Realm of Emptiness, and some the Ultimate Darkness, yet it is neither. Theosk is often called 'the Old One,' and it is believed that he was the first being kidnapped by the Thief of Worlds who rebelled against his erstwhile master. The Thief had no idea how to order the tiny Externity full of captured planets and stars, and the Theosk spend the first endless eons of captivity organizing and ordering the stars and planets so they don't collide and destroy each other. Without him the Externity would've collapsed long ago, and so he is an ally of the Three Divines and the Seven Archangels, even though he pays them no heed and ignores everything except his duty to maintain order. The black spaces between the stars may seem like darkness, but they are not, for those who travel them see the gorgeous panoply of the stars and planets like jewels upon black velvet. Though the Externity is small, its beauties are great, and those who follow the Star Trails to the Cold Between the Stars become nothing but intelligence and vision, and the beauty they see is in the harmony of law and order, that keeps every one of the 118,000 stars moving in a carefully orchestrated dance of sublime perfection. It may be cold comfort compared to the ease of the Fields of Peace, but it is a comfort to those who value order above all, and dedicated their lives to removing all external influences and achieving unity.
Sapient beings think and know that they are thinking; their self-awareness gives them endless choices, free will that allows them to pick their path either to the Heavens or the Hells. Non-sapient beings live according to their inherent nature, and only rarely achieve a flash of awareness that allows them to choose right or wrong deeds. Animals and plants without sentience yet have a measure of intelligence, and all have Seven Souls while they live, just as sapient beings. When they die their Astral and Spiritual souls continue to live along with the Divine Spark, but they have no place in the Fields of Peace with only a few exceptions. These beings of non-sapient intelligence follow the path of Mother Nature, and go to her place, Exigentia, realm of necessity. All beings that follow only nature end up in this garden of empty instincts. For each thing remains true to its nature; flowers open towards the sun, even though there is no sun and they don't actually need sunlight to live. Lions stalk antelope, who run away even though the lion cannot eat, nor can the antelope be hurt. The nature of each beast or plant remains the same, and while Exigentia is a place of great beauty, it seems very pointless to most visitors, as nothing ever happens. You might see a leopard spring from a tree down upon a fawn, but nothing happens; the fawn runs away and the leopard acts as if it is eating empty air. There are very few humans or any other sapient beings in Exigentia, because these rare follow only their inherent natures, and when they do, they are liable to fall into evil instead of maintaining a perfect balance of necessity only. Yet there are a few, and they are more pitiable than the animals and plants, going through endless pantomimes of necessary activities of life that are no longer necessary. Mother Nature herself, usually called Dhatabhana. helps maintain the balance of necessity in the Physical Sphere, helped her two children, Basajon and Basandra. Together they also keep the order of Exigentia, ensuring that there at least, necessity reigns.
The Five Hells:
The Cold Hell
As the Archangels formed Alvinyos and Calnos, the Four Malices formed their own hell, taking part of the Cold Between the Stars and forming an place of frost and ice, a new plane below all others, full of darkness and fear. The Cold Hell is also called the Realm of Endless Fear, and that is the state of those souls lost in it, for they remain in endless suspense, frozen ghosts who know not when the lords of their dark reward will defrost them long enough for a little entertaining torment. The Malices and their minions were once Ancient Immortals, and torture the souls of the dead because their misery has no end, and toying with the minds of the spirits lost to the slavery of the Cold Hell provides momentary relief. According to the beliefs of the Kumaanites, there is a sensual paradise hidden in the Cold Hell, where every fleshly desire is available in grotesque excess, and there is some truth to the tale. Those who bound themselves to the Malices by oaths and evil deeds are not lost among the endless frozen souls of icy wastes of the Cold Hell, but are bound into a special prison where the Malice and their Liche-kind minions torment them in the most excruciatingly imaginative ways until torture becomes pleasure, and a perfectly pure form of madness takes hold. Those howling, screaming souls are what one hears echoing all through the Cold Hell, and that is the reality of the orgiastic paradise promised to the Dark Brotherhood.
The Dream Prison
The Realm of Madness was once part of the Astral Plane, but its ruler, Gaueko, sliced off a portion for himself and corrupted many Kathars and Genials, turning them into creatures that revel in twisting minds until they are trapped in insanity. Instead of Kathars or Genials, the beings of the Dream Prison are called Delusions, and they torture those minds they capture with individualized types of insanity. If successful, when a person dies, five of the other six souls die with them, and the Nebh or Psyche lives on alone in the Dream Prison forever. Of course nobody in the Externity knows how to destroy the Divine Spark, so it remains no matter what. In order to trap minds, the Delusions venture into the Astral Plane and use cunning tricks and subtle innuendos to nudge minds ever closer to madness, avoiding the Kathars and Genials carefully and working in little flashes of influence whenever possible. Everyone has felt their touch, such as a sudden feeling that somebody else is staring out of a mirror, or a wild thoughts that seem to come out of nowhere, or a momentary desire to murder somebody who doesn't deserve it. Most sapient beings are capable of shrugging off such things, and suffer no lasting harm, but some minds are more easily moved than others, and lay too much importance upon the influence of the Delusions, until they begin to wish to see something else staring out of a mirror, etc. Once a mind is broken the person in question is considered mad in the Physical Plane, and there are many methods to heal wounded Psyches, but all require patience and a great deal of magical ability. It is not known why some succumb to the Delusions and others do not. In a few cases it is apparent that the insane person sought to become insane, by focussing on the visions of the Delusions intently. However this is extremely rare, and most seem to be innocent victims, and so they are treated as such. The Dream Prison itself is a combination of dark visions, a seething torrent of cloudy nightmares that are perfectly real to those minds trapped there. Gaueko himself has never been seen in his true form by anyone except Tuteri the Magus, but he appears constantly, in many different guises, and revels in the madness he has caused.
The Hot Hell
Once the Hot Hell was really just the molten core of the world of Amelek, but at the Sundering it became a separate sphere, like a plane of hellfire and acid. Known as the Realm of Endless Hate, the Hot Hell is really an embodiment of hatred, that burning poison one feels as hate grows in the breast. It is a place of flame, where every rock scorches, lakes of quicksilver and methane steam and bubble, and the very air burns continually. The Darrows of the Thief of Worlds live there, and their first desire is to escape. However there is no escape, because if they reach the Physical Plane their pain is redoubled, and the ordinary elements of fire and water can burn them or quench them, sending them right back to the Hot Hell. The Astral and Spiritual souls of sapient beings never end up in the Hot Hell by accident; it must be chosen, and not only because of evil deeds. We know that many do evil from stupidity, or lack of imagination; because they were misled by their society or tribe, or because they were taught wicked deeds while still too young to know better. Those in the Hot Hell must choose it open-eyed. The Cold Hell traps those who should've known better, but the Darrows take only those who bargained away their souls in exchange for power in the world of the living. Indeed, it is a very fair judgement, because those who choose to serve the Darrows are given a brief glimpse of their destination, so they know perfectly well what to expect. The Psyche and Pneuma burn endlessly in the Hot Hell; every breath is searing and excruciating, and there is no relief. Jump into a cool-looking lake, one will find only boiling oil or lead. Rise high above the ground, and instead of cool winds flaming tornados fill the skies. The Darrows do not torture anyone; there is no need. Every being in the Hot Hell is in continual torment, and will be so long as the Externity lasts. Some good magicians, including two members of the Committee, have seen the Hot Hell, and it is the fervent wish of all of them that when the Externity is broken up and returned to the universe or universes from whence it came, the torments of the Hot Hell will cease forever.
The Realm of Madak the Guld is very difficult to describe, for nothing is permanent there. Those who follow chaotic paths in life spend their deaths in Limbo, in an ever-changing state. Everything happens in Limbo; joy and misery, fun and pain, passion and reason, and often all at once. Sometimes it lasts, sometimes it doesn't, and duration changes as often as everything else. Nothing has a permanent shape, or color, or anything else. Few sapient beings end up in Limbo, even those who worship the Guld, because chaos is very hard to manage in life. However some do achieve such anarchy, and spend their deaths in the constant state of change they always wished to experience. It's impossible to say whether it pleases them, because emotions change just as quickly as everything else. Limbo is connected very slightly to the Elemental Plane, but any souls who go there travel through the Rivers of Sorrow, though only one river leads to the Realm of Chaos. Madak the Guld finds his realm hilarious, and laughs constantly, except when he finds it tragic and wails endlessly.
At first glance Nodosus doesn't seem much different from the Volutial Plane, as it is formed of the same silvery cords. However there is no weave or pattern to Nodosus, and the Trilixes are diminished, because two of the three skeins are broken, tarnished, or in a few cases eaten away, and even more because every Trilix is tangled into knots with lots of others. Dogai the Ruiner, lord of Nodosus, desires luck to rule fate and free will, but he loves only bad luck, and does everything in his power to destroy the other strands of the Trilixes and make everyone unlucky. He is aided in his quest by the souls of all those who die entangled, who then work to bring bad luck to others and share their misfortune. He is opposed in his own realm by his former consort, Laome the Lucky, who desires luck to rule as much as Dogai, but good luck instead of bad. She seduces or converts the souls that follow Dogai into helping her untangle knots and restore good luck to as many lives as possible, but she will do nothing to strengthen free will or necessity, and so is an enemy of the Three Divines even though she often helps their cause by untangling Trilixes. Dogai lives somewhere deep in the darkest knots of his realm, and his palace has never been seen by any who returned to describe it. Laome lives in a giant bathhouse with thousands of Luck-maidens on the edge of Nodosus hard by the boundary with the Volutial Plane.
This document is ©1995 by James Wilson