The Upper Worlds
Rhadixe is the lowest of four worlds. Above Rhadixe is Codixe, then Thallixe, and finally Apixe. Travel between the worlds is possible through a shadowy interdimensional space called the astral, which can be accessed from Rhadixe by passing through dreaming into a deeper state of consciousness.
There is also an "anti-world" below Rhadixe, called Qliphixe. It contains a destructive force called the Abyss, which is the shadow-opposite of the creative force - the Origin - that exists in Apixe. The Origin is the ultimate source of life in all the worlds. It is this entity who is threatened by Enuzir's planned Purification.
Codixe is more or less an aetherial equivalent of Rhadixe. It thus takes the form of a globe that has many of the same features as Rhadixe - i.e. oceans, forests, plains, deserts, mountains, etc. - in similar, but not identical, locations. The Codixe version of a given place typically appears somewhat exaggerated and idealized, e.g. colors will be more vibrant and landmarks will be more grandiose than their equivalent on Rhadixe.
Codixe is inhabited by a variety of creatures, including aetherials (disembodied versions of humans, plants, animals or kimerae; typically phantoms), faeries, angels and daemons. Angels and daemons have long warred with one another over territory, with the angels seeking to spread the roots of the Two Trees far and wide:
- The Tree of Life:
- Draws phantoms into its roots and collects them in the Pearl in Thallixe, where they are held in "soul sleep" (suspended animation) and used to generate faera to power Enuzir's weaponry against the Origin. This Tree has a golden hue, and its roots are very large (i.e. forming tunnels that a human can easily walk inside of) and spread more thinly over the globe than those of the Tree of Wisdom (e.g. there may be hundreds of kilometres between one root-tunnel and another).
- The Tree of Wisdom:
- Draws faera into its roots and collects it in the Lotus in Thallixe, where it forms a reservoir used to power Enuzir's weaponry against the Origin. This Tree has a silver hue, and its roots are much finer than that of the Tree of Life, but spread far more densely, forming a network of rope-like roots that encircles much of the globe of Codixe. The roots collect faera both from their immediate vicinity in Codixe, and from the equivalent location in Rhadixe, thereby preventing the use of magic in both places.
Both Trees grow upward from the zenith of the globe of Codixe, entwining around the Tower of Almasophos. The tops of both the Tower and the Trees are lost in cloud cover when viewed from ground level on Codixe, but terminate high above in the next world up, Thallixe. The Tower of Almasophos is surrounded by Yazatia, an angel stronghold whose location is roughly equivalent to that of Caelia, the capital city of Ukanos in Celes on Rhadixe. On the far opposite end of the globe of Codixe lies Jhehenom, one of the few daemon citadels still left standing in modern times, and the only place where the roots of the Tree of Wisdom have not yet reached. Jhehenom's location is roughly equivalent to that of Methakasha on Rhadixe.
Between these two poles, much of Codixe has been reduced to post-apocalyptic wasteland as a result of the war between the angels and daemons, and many cities lie in ruins. Many phantoms have been herded into the roots of the Tree of Life by the gelbarim and their keraphim assistants, despite the efforts of hierukas and raksuras who try to protect the newly-dead from this fate. Those phantoms who have survived are secluded in protected locations, such as the daemons' secret underground city of Hadeshol.
Unlike Rhadixe and Codixe, Thallixe takes the form of a flat plane. It is sometimes called the Sea of Glass, as this accurately describes its original appearance: a largely-featureless crystalline plain, beneath an overcast sky of glowing, irridescent clouds. These clouds, as well as areas of mist closer to the ground, have a disconcerting tendency to take forms that reflect the beholder's thoughts and emotions.
Originally, the only inhabitants of this relatively-empty realm were Anihkesh and Enuzir. The Archons also briefly lived in Thallixe, before being kicked out by Enuzir with the help of the Archangels. Since that time, Enuzir has filled Thallixe with a massive divine machine called Neheva, whose destructive power he is directing against the Origin in Apixe, the world above Thallixe. Neheva's structure is complex, but its major components include:
- The Two Trees
- As described above, these grow up into Thallixe from the base of the Tower of Almasophos in Codixe. Their roots extend all over the globe of Codixe, with the Tree of Life gathering aetherials (phantoms) and the Tree of Wisdom gathering faera (magic). The trunks of the Trees wrap around the Tower, terminating above it in a nest of branches and leaves which cradles the Lotus.
- The Lotus
- The Lotus is a large flower-like structure, whose centre acts as a reservoir for all of the faera gathered by the Tree of Wisdom.
- The Pearl
- The Pearl is a spherical structure that sits in the centre of the Lotus' reservoir. It contains all the phantoms who have been gathered by the Tree of Life. Forcibly kept in "soul sleep," these creatures are being held so that the khiah of their souls will generate faera.
- The Tabernacle
- The Tabernacle is a flying cathedral-fortress that hovers over the Pearl and the Lotus. It houses Enuzir, the Archangels, and a few lesser angels who are involved with the maintenance of Neheva's machinery. Faera gathered in the Lotus and generated in the Pearl is continuously being drawn up into the bottom of the Tabernacle, creating a pillar of light.
- The Spear of Destiny
- A weapon housed within the central spire of the Tabernacle, it concentrates faera into the destructive "Purifying" force that Enuzir directs upward into Apixe, drilling away at the defenses of the Origin. The Spear, sometimes called simply the Weapon, has the potential to wound the Origin so severely that it will be forced to unmake Rhadixe in order to heal itself. As Enuzir considers Rhadixe to be a corrupted, flawed creation anyway, he is not much bothered by this possibility. His conviction instead is that if he succeeds in his aspiration to Purify the Origin, he will perfect creation, bringing an end to death. In his madness, he does not understand that the price of such a goal is the end not only of death, but also of life.
Neheva also includes fortifications that protect all of these components, including a forcefield, the Threshold, which prevents any creature not made by Enuzir from approaching. Excidia, such as the fallen angels Thiyavat and Lazramael, are technically Enuzir's creations, and hence not affected by the Threshold - thus making them valuable alies of the daemons in their plans to infiltrate Neheva and destroy the Spear of Destiny.
The angels, meanwhile, direct most of their activity toward protecting Neheva and acquiring fuel for the Spear of Destiny. Toward this end, they try to extend the range of the Two Trees in Codixe, and to extend the reach of Righteousness in Rhadixe by missionizing. The stronger the Righteous' faith in Enuzir, the more powerful the angels' thaumaturgy becomes, in Rhadixe, Codixe and Thallixe alike.
The world of Apixe contains only the Origin, an impersonal generative force that is ultimately the source of all life. Because this entity contains all possible potentialities, and is in a constant state of flux, contact with it is hazardous to the individual, carrying such risks as insanity and/or forgetting of self. For this reason, only the most powerful beings - Enuzir, Anihkesh and the Archons - can even enter Apixe, and even they cannot remain there for long. Time and space cannot be described in any normal way within Apixe.
Travel between worlds
Each of the worlds discussed above is a distinct realm. One can travel from one world to another that is immediately adjacent to it, provided one goes through the astral. How exactly this works depends on which worlds one is travelling between:
In all of these cases, it is only possible to use magic to create a portal at one's own convenience if one is in the astral, and even then, one can only create a portal to an immediately-adjacent world. Upon exiting the astral, one can only arrive in one of a limited series of locations: one's own body in Rhadixe, certain landmarks in Codixe (many of which are under angel control in modern times) and certain levels of the Tower of Almasophos. Thus, even the best mage always risks becoming stranded in the upper worlds if they are not able to reach a portal that leads back into the astral.
- Rhadixe - Codixe:
- One enters the astral from Rhadixe by shifting one's consciousness (e.g. dreaming, meditation, drug use), and exits into Codixe by finding or creating a portal that leads there. One enters the astral from Codixe by finding a portal that leads into it, and exits into Rhadixe by shifting one's consciousness (e.g. awakening, grounding, sobering up). The astral between Codixe and Rhadixe is referred to as the "twilight astral."
- Codixe - Thallixe:
- To go from Codixe to Thallixe, one must enter the astral zone that lies inside the Tower of Almasophos, and exit that astral zone by finding or creating another portal. To go from Thallixe to Codixe, one similarly traverses the Tower. The astral between Codixe and Thallixe, i.e. inside the Tower, is called the "bright astral." It is also possible to enter the bright astral by plunging off the edge of the disc of Thallixe, but this is a very dangerous thing to do, carrying a significant risk of separating one's soul, aetherial body and material body from one another.
- Thallixe - Apixe:
- To go from Thallixe to Apixe, one must fly up through the glowing clouds. However, only a God, a Goddess or an Archon would be able to fly high enough without losing their way to actually reach Apixe. Furthermore, there is no clear divider between the astral space that surrounds Apixe - known as the "radiant astral" - and Apixe proper. This is why Enuzir can just fire the Weapon straight into the sky, i.e. into the radiant astral, and it will still affect the Origin in Apixe.
It should be noted, finally, that aetherial bodies are vulnerable in analogous ways to physical ones. One circumstance that thus will "snap" a wandering soul quickly back into its physical body is if the aetherial body loses consciousness, e.g. due to severe injury or shock. If this happens, the affected being will become "heavy" and plummet down through the upper worlds, back into the twilight astral, from which they can then awaken into the material world. However, the greater the injury, the greater the risk that the material body, aetherial body and soul will separate from one another permanently, thereby causing death. So while many mages have a method for exiting the upper worlds in an emergency, spells for such purposes amount to self-destruct spells, and are thus only used as an extreme last resort. By contrast, escaping the astral in an emergency is easy, since the mage can either open a portal at will or, in the case of the twilight astral, wake themselves up. Shifting between worlds in the astral, by either of these means, is sometimes referred to as "folding in/out of the astral" or "rotating in/out of the astral."
Qliphixe / The Abyss
From Rhadixe, Qliphixe is theoretically accessible from the same astral space as Codixe. The difficulty is that it lies in a direction that souls do not naturally gravitate toward unless they are in an extreme state of trauma and distress. Travel to Qliphixe is thus often accidental and short-lived, since a brief glimpse into the anti-world is often enough to remind souls that they do not want to be there. If one is in the astral and traveling in the direction of Qliphixe, this is referred to as the "dark astral." As with the distinction between the radiant astral and Apixe, the distinction between the dark astral and Qliphixe proper is sometimes unclear.
Purposeful travel to Qliphixe, and remaining there for a period of time, is possible through the use of certain drugs, specifically a difficult-to-obtain necromantic sacrament called plague nectar. Entry into Qliphixe is generally experienced as an abrupt decent into deep water. Most souls will float back up into the dark astral in short order, but under the influence of plague nectar, it is possible to force oneself to sink. The further one sinks, the harder it is to go back up, and the greater the threat of being dragged deeper by fiends who live in the depths. Becoming transformed into one of these creatures is also a risk that increases with greater depth.
The theoretical bottom of Qliphixe is the Abyss, the shadow-opposite of the Origin. Whereas being in the presence of the Origin can cause insanity via input overload, being in the vicinity of the Abyss causes insanity via total deprivation. And whereas dissolving into the Origin will mean the end of the self, but ecstatic restoration to a greater whole, being shattered by the Abyss will leave one trapped in a hell-world of absolute isolation.
An additional danger of travel in Qliphixe is that pain and damage will not jolt a soul out of it, and will in fact only aggravate the situation. Attempting to leave some kind of clearly-marked path back up into the astral is a wise preparation for the soul who wishes to survive, but a better idea would be to avoid undertaking the journey at all.
The most knowledgable individuals with regard to the Abyss are the fiends, who perversely gravitate toward it, and the Tenebrae necromancers, who have made some effort to study it through their experimentation with plague nectar. In deference to these necromancers, orthodox Necroknostics will admit that the Abyss exists, but want nothing to do with it. Saints (conservative Righteous Celesti) also admit the Abyss exists, although they incorrectly characterize it as synonymous with "hell," i.e. "the realm of the Archons and daemons, where sinners are tortured for eternity." Most other beings, human or otherwise, are either agnostic about the existence of the Abyss, or deny that it is a literal, real place rather than a mere philosophical concept.
Last update: December 31, 2012