Death and the Shadow

The Shadow World is a product of the separation of body and soul in the world. When the divh imposed form and law upon the world the energies of the elementals were bound, and in that moment a world of spirit that mimicked, mocked and mirrored the real world came into being, that now goes by many names, oddewurlde, other world, the land of dust, dreamland, but most commonly the shadow world. The shadow world is where the amorphous, uninhibited conscious energy that is the soul exists. The soul reaches out to inhabit the vessel this is a living body, anchored to it in the real world, alive, but it's native state the soul exists in the shadow world.

The Nature of the Shadow World

There are many theories about the shadow world, but what is certainly true is that it is a land of perception, rather than reality. The shadow world exists alongside the material world, really in exactly the same place, like a sheet of cloth sewn to another. In places the fabric of the real world is thin, the two worlds are stitched together, and a thread that holds them tight makes an opening in both. Between these stitches, known as gateways or nexuses, are seams along which the energies of the two worlds cling together, called ley lines. Ley lines run from nexus to nexus, joining them. A nexus is usually sited on a place of transition, where the transitory energies of Life and Death are strongest, but a temporary nexus is also created by a birth or a death.

Along ley line and at nexuses the shadow world can easily be mistaken for the real world, but the further from these seams one travels the less physically similar they become. However the true shape and image of the shadow world, once an individual realizes that they are no longer in reality, is in fact shaped entirely by their subconscious. No individual has ever been able to consciously shape the shadow world, but those who wander through the shadow world, and meet others often see a geometrically similar but yet totally different space. Some individuals see raging infernal flames, and crumbling ruins inhabited by horrific monsters, others see an empty grey reflection of the real world, haunted by indistinct spirit lights and barely seen shapes. Whatever an individual sees it is usually characterized as being at least based on the real world, and being almost entirely uninhabited except by dense populations of dreamspawn, or sometimes other wanderers, who are attuned to the experience of the individual.

The shadow world can be perceived from the real world too, though few know it. Mirrors and reflections, paintings, deep dreams and other such false windows are actually indistinct links between the two worlds, where dreamspawn and spirits can penetrate their awareness into the mortal world, where all things desire to be. Of course, most are not strong enough to actually make themselves seen, and most mortals fail to perceive the attentions of spirits for what they are. Memory is a function of the mortal body, and while some remains with the spirit mortals, when they are born into the world, have none, and so are not equipped to understand the shadow world.

Some seers have learned to separate their spirits from their living bodies to wander the shadow world, but the longer they do this, the more they begin to forget who they are, and how to return. Some individuals wander with their physical bodies into the shadow world too, but when this happens the creatures there, jealous of their living bodies, and their ability to return to the mortal world, often become enraged and aggressive. Many creatures, especially the pure elementals, and the Baalfr, see the shadow world as a prison, and they rule over sections of it tyrannically, while other creatures seek to steal a body and escape.

When a person dies the divh they worship, or an agent thereof, will likely have made arrangements for their souls, but if not the soul will simply depart the body into the shadow world. Once here it is possible that these creatures become the dreamspawn, slowly forgetting who they were as they are remade again and again by the dreams and nightmares of mortals into the vague, often horrific creatures that inhabit the corners of the shadow world, drawn together by their collective misery. The shadow world is a bleak purgatory. Few mortals have led perfect lives, and without a divh to take their hand they are doomed to regret and recrimination for those wrongs they have committed - for only the divh can forgive, and without the gatekeeper who once sorted the dead they will never be given the chance to weigh the actions of their lives on the scale of good and evil.

The Final Judgement

When the world was young the shadow world was a place of judgement, the font of morality and immorality in the world, a place where souls of the dead were judged by the deeds of their lives, as worthy or unworthy to return to the world. Then, the two worlds, (the mortal realm and the shadow world) were more separate. Nexus and ley line were not features of the real world, but for those places where the divh had pressed their influence into the world. The energy of the shadow world, and the souls that passed into the world, came from the energies of those raw elementals who dwelt there. But over time these energies began to run together, making a muddy brown mass of the spirit, and a place in between, ever expanding, demanding more and more of the energy of the elementals, growing ever closer to the real world began to evolve, home to dark thoughts and evil deeds not fit for return to the world, began to emerge.

The five spirits who kept watch over the shadow world in the names of the divh, and were charged with keeping the divide, and keeping the corrupted souls trapped, away from the lifespring. Infused with the power to be divh of the shadow world, these judges would one day become the Baalfr.

Before the other divh had realized the designs of their brother Daak, he came to the Baalfr, and he whispered corrupting words to them. He asked them why they were set to toil, imprisoned within this lesser world, while the far inferior mortals were favoured with two. He revealed that it was he who was the corrupting influence touching the shadow world, and that if they would join him in his efforts he would join the two world together in places so that they might also walk between the worlds, and so corrupting were the words of Daak that the Baalfr agreed without question, and took for themselves forms crafted of the elements that they most favoured. And Daak gave these forms life, and cloaking his activities from the other divh he pushed the worlds together so that they touched, and pinned them together with holes that were neither one place nor the other. In this way the shadow world was forever deformed - bent and broken against the mortal world - and while Ghanda's sacrifice would again imprison theses fearsome creatures in the confines of the shadow world, that place was forever a frightful amalgam of mortal dreams and nightmares.

A terrible purgatory forged by the sins of mortal beings.