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The Higher Planes

The Founts

The highest of planes held up by the World Tree is known as the Founts, from which all magical forces (and perhaps all of creation itself, in the current Cycle) first came to be. The Founts are said to resemble a shining, broken mirror of reality, where the most pure and idyllic forms of all things that exist are in constant commotion brought on by the flow of new mana into being, and a radiant blanket of light covers almost everything in sight.

For all the realm's importance, however, the Founts are one of the most scantly understood of Irminsul's Planes. Many believe that the inhabitants of the Founts- If there are any at all- Cannot interact directly with the lower Planes, and limit their influence to holding dominion over other Planes' beings- None of whom can necessarily be trusted when prodded for information by scholars and mystics.

Numerous faiths and cults attribute benevolent, creative, and wise deities to emerging from the Founts. Contrary to this, however, a growing number of modern arcanists suspect that the Founts don't harbor any sentient forces at all, as the over-abundance of fresh, volatile mana would burn anything within the Plane out of existence.

The Pools of Rage

Beneath the Founts lie the Pools of Rage, where the first flows of mana crash against the metaphysical rocks and erupt into steaming plumes and then settle into boiling basins. The Pools are a furnace of violent creation, as the harsh flows of mana temper the realm's inhabitants into strong and destructive beings.

In simpler terms, the Pools of Rage are the domain of destructive gods and powerful, arcane beasts. Most famously, the Pools are associated with Dragon-kind, who are said to to have been formed out of the hottest plumes of pure mana that solidified into a physical form by bathing in the downpouring mana of the Founts, and were then altered into countless different shapes as they flew down from the Pools into the lower Planes.

Fairhome

In the shade of the Pools of Rage exists the realm of Fairhome, where the flow of mana calms into gentle flows that allowed life to flourish. True to its name, Fairhome is described as a verdant, tranquil reflection of the world. As the lowest of the Higher Planes and the furthest from the Founts, however, Fairhome's inhabitants are believed to be smaller in form and power.

Most beings and deities attributed to Fairhome belong to the old pantheon of the Fair Folk, known for their close ties to nature and command over the Elements. Though it remains purely in the realm of mythology, some believe the Fair Folk themselves descend from the first inhabitants of Fairhome and were made frail and mortal upon their arrival to the Sea of Stars.

The Sea of Stones

Beyond the reach of Irminsul's high canopies, one will find themselves in the Outer Plane of the Sea of Stones- A realm of barren, lifeless wastes, migrant dust storms and a definitive lack of mana. The Sea of Stones is the native Plane of the long-lost Keeper civilization, if the scant few tomes and ancient logs detailing its existence are to be believed. As myths describe, the Keepers overcame their harsh surroundings and created a bridge to the World Tree, with which they harvested mana pouring down from the Founts to nourish their realm.

The Outer Planes are nigh-unknowable by their very nature, and are only obscured further by no trace of the Sea of Stones existing outside of the Keepers' own texts. No other groups throughout history make reference to the realm, and as the Keepers were by and large without faith, no deities or magical beings are said to come from such a place. Many scholars put forward that the total disappearance of these ancient folk may be explained by them returning to their native Plane, but the possibility that they've taken the knowledge of how to make that journey back with them doesn't make for a very fulfilling field of study…

The Mortal Planes

The Goblet of Aether

Serving as a stepping-stone between the Higher and Mortal Planes, the Goblet of Aether is a realm of nigh-perfect order and crystallized forms, wherein the flow of mana down from the Founts is compressed into a malleable, but solid form, which then manifests in other Planes. More simply, the Goblet of Aether is the realm of sprites, the roots of gem formations in the mortal world, and a home to many more magical intelligences that are poorly understood.

The Goblet of Aether holds more significance to scholars and alchemists than it ever has to spiritual groups. Ancient arcanists across Colico and other worlds studied the Goblet and used their observations of it to develop the fundamentals of magic that are still used today. The raw will of deities and chaotic potential of flowing mana is filtered into more easily understood Elements and Arcana as is passes through the Goblet, thus acting as a 'foot in the door' for mages to make sense of magic in all its forms.

The Sea of Stars

Known also as the Physical Plane, the Source, the waking world, or our reality, the Sea of Stars makes up our base reality. It is the Plane on which Colico, its inhabitants, and its neighboring worlds reside, and all other realms occasionally intersect. For reasons unknown to metaphysics, or perhaps simply through the bias of living in it, most who study the Planes look at the Sea of Stars as something singular and exceptional- The 'original' world to which all others are reflections.

Travel from the other realms to the Source is both possible, and frequent- At least, with some realms more than others. Traveling the other way around, however, is a significantly greater task. There is no widely-known, reliable, and scientifically sound way to travel from the Sea of Stars to the other Planes, which means most scholarly knowledge of cosmology relies on the accounts of ancient people, surveys of talkative, extra-Planar entities, or blind, hapless luck that may send one flung across the World Tree to a very unkind place.

The Still Creek

Along the far edges of the Sea of Stars, adjacent to the waking world and drinking deep from the flow of mana from Fairhome stands the Still Creek, where the Elementals and spirits of the wilds are said to come from. The Creek is one of the most direct reflections of the Source, and is described as the world devoid of civilization's influence; A vibrant and verdant realm ruled by overgrown flora, fauna, and the sentient spirits of nature.

The Creek's uncanny resemblance to the waking world may be attributed to its cosmological closeness. In spite of being so near to the Source, the Still Creek is one of the more frustrating Planes to study: Its most common inhabitants, the Elementals, are widespread throughout Colico, and often more talkative than not, but their speech when pressed for clear descriptions of the realm and their nature bounces between riddles, non-sequiturs and vague musings. Few have ever managed to get an Elemental talking in clear terms about grand things, and those who have typically don't publish their findings.

The Roots of Time

Before there were Cycles, the World Tree and all its contained realms are thought to have been still and unchanging, forever locked in an unknowable stasis that may not resemble accepted models of cosmology at all. The ancient Asurans first put forward the idea that Time is not an innate feature of the waking world, but a force introduced to the Planes, just as Magic itself was when the first flows of it descended from the Founts.

The Roots of Time are the Plane of change and impermanence, coiled around the base of Irminsul and intertwined with its own roots inseparably, spawned perhaps from another speculated World Tree, or more likely parts unknowable. The Roots are an accepted part of Irminsul's cosmological model by necessity, as time is easily observed, but only the most esoteric of old, Far Eastern myths suggest any beings or gods call the Plane their home.

The Lower Planes

The Strange Lakes

The World Tree is said to be grounded in the metaphysical pools of the Strange Lakes, where the precipitous flow of mana through the realms spills over and nourishes the roots. The Lakes are full of life in many forms, thought to be spawned from the turbulent energy of mana's downward and upward flows through the roots at the base of the tree- And this energy has had a transformative effect on the Plane's inhabitants.

The Strange Lakes are the realm of monsters in many forms, though in a more precise and academic lens, 'monsters' are typically corporeal, living beings that occupy the Physical Plane, but have no clear relation or shared genealogy with normal wildlife. In this sense, the Lakes are one of the Planes that interacts most with the waking world, as Colico and its neighboring worlds have no shortage of monsters all throughout their lands.

Some scholars attribute intelligent life, or souls (to those who believe in them) to particular, complex magical conditions that separate Humans, Elves, and even monster-kind from sprites and automatons. Rich in chaotic, magical reactions from the flow of mana through the Plane, the Lakes may well be more full of unique, intelligent beings than the Sea of Stars- An idea supported by a long history of treasures, diseases, magics and curses making their way up to the Mortal Planes.

Misthome

One of the most contentious realms within the World Tree is the Plane of Misthome, a place where peaceful and vengeful dead alike manifest and are swept up or down the roots of Irminsul. As well understood as the fundamentals of magic are, the matter of whether or not living things possess a 'soul' remains unproven, and even the most well-read scholars have little trustworthy reference when it comes to the afterlife.

Misthome is by all accounts one of the more mysterious realms, and its properties vary greatly depending on who one consults. The most pragmatic, un-mystical of academics refer to Misthome only as a Plane of incorporeal beings, like the banshee or will o' the wisp, in contrast to the corporeal monsters that crawl forth from the Strange Lakes. To more esoteric folk, however, Misthome is described as a pale, hazy reflection of the waking world, where the unsorted dead wander and act towards ends unknown.

Most interestingly, some quarters of Fair Folk (who first gave the realm its name) describe it as an 'adjacent place' to Fairhome, fallen to the Lower Planes when a part of the upper branches of Irminsul grew too heavy with mana and snapped with a force that rippled across the Planes. The place called Misthome was made whole with the World Tree again as mana mended the gap, but its distance from the pure flows of above twisted it into a land of death rather than life.

The Ash Mire

Along the farthest roots of Irminsul, the flow of mana begins to slow and spread without direction, coagulating into the dark vortex of the Ash Mire. Certain dark and malevolent energies grow thicker through the flow and form the broiling layer of the Plane, while all else passes through to the Deep Wells below. Put shortly, the Ash Mire is the realm of fallen, made up of beings (or souls, for those who are so inclined) from other Planes that have been twisted or corrupted into a form no longer suited to the place of their origin.

Perhaps the most infamous of the Mire's inhabitants are the Vampires and their adjacent beings. Whether seen as a disease or a curse, most experts on the matter believe vampirism to be a force that originated in the Mire, making those afflicted with it crave blood like the tree roots crave mana. Though none can agree on how it reached the Source, it's commonly believed that Vampires return to the Ash Mire when their corporeal form is destroyed, and their hunt begins anew in the Low Plane.

In more recent studies, sages of the Sarasan Empire believe the Mire to be something of a prison of souls, where the true self of beings separated from their physical forms are trapped until reunited. This idea is mostly compatible with the accepted myths and investigations into the Plane, if one accepts that a person ceases to be 'themselves' should they undergo severe enough transformations…

The Deep Wells

The longest and lowest roots of the World Tree all culminate in a single endpoint known as the Deep Wells, wherein thoroughly tempered, exhausted, or aspected mana pools into a stagnant abyss, beyond which one will only find the end of all things- A threshold that annihilates any mana or life that crosses through it from existence.

Unlike the Founts, a great deal of study and knowledge has been circulated around the Deep Wells- albeit mostly from fanatical devotees to its inhabitants. The Deep Wells are rich in countless pocket domains that house a rigid hierarchy of lowly beasts, intelligent and cunning humanoids, and reality-bending terrors. Mana that reaches the Wells passes through numerous other Planes to get there, and in the process, becomes used and altered, either by natural forces of to fit the magical needs of other Planes' beings.

As the Deep Wells are the culmination of impure mana, its inhabitants are often twisted in appearance, or malicious in will. Colloquially, beings from the Deep Wells are known as 'demons', though more academic sources may prefer the term 'Deepsent', and still, some intelligent and spoken beings of the lowest Plane may reject all these labels entirely.

lore/cosmology/planes.txt · Last modified: 2018/12/22 18:35 by sage