The entries are arranged by order of appearance.
So it begins
He looked out seeing golden light gilding the clouds. Strange birds called out in the distance, flocking toward the distant sun. A gentle breeze carried exotic scents towards him, ruffling his hair slightly. He was the first of his people to set foot in this strange new place and ultimately, the burden of knowledge fell on him. But, even then, was there no time for work and for leisure? He rested on the hilt of his sword, laying his notes aside for just a moment. Just for now, he would take the time to rest and be in awe of this realm's beauty.
Welcome to the Aether.
As ancient as it is, the Aether is young when compared with the universe outside of it. Entities more ancient than even the memories of the First Born dwell within the outer edges of existence and have been known to visit the three dimensions from time to time. One such entity which has been thought to have visited the Aether is known simply as the Lorist.
The exact nature of the Lorist is largely unknown, since no living being has ever seen it. Many intelligent species find evidence of the Lorist left behind in the Aether, despite having never seen the Lorist itself. This evidence is the texts the Lorist has written ranging from the most mundane of subjects to the rarest of secrets left in random places around the Aether.
It is thought that the Lorist is omniscient, since it has left behind writings of the Valkyries’ most carefully guarded secrets, some only known to the oldest Matriarchs. The Lorist has hinted at its origins in extremely rare texts it has written, creating an elaborate quest for anyone determined enough to learn of the cosmic secrets it has divined. Very rarely, the Lorist may write narratives or tales, though most of its texts have a distant or analytical tone.
Tough times create even tougher men. Owen, once called the Reaver, is a great example of this. He was born into some of the hardest lands on Gaea, having to take up a blade to defend his home when he could barely hold the sword’s weight. Through luck and sheer determination, Owen survived his rocky childhood and teenage years, eventually becoming one of the most feared mercenaries throughout the land. In time, he grew tired of slaying people for a couple of coins and eventually settled himself in a small village. He abandoned the persona of the Reaver and was content to fight off the undead and bandits which occasionally attacked the village. Owen strongly believes the ends justify the means, though he often has the greater good in mind. While Owen is an excellent fighter, his people skills are severely lacking. Merely being around Owen is enough to make people uneasy. His blade, known as Quiver, has thought to have slain hundreds of men. His village eventually migrated to the Aether, weary from the attacks by bandits and the roaming creatures of the night. Owen too came to this hostile paradise and little did he know what adventures awaited him.
Angels are the descendants of the oldest race in the Aether, the individuals who once called themselves the Mountain Striders on a primitive Gaea. Their rapid evolution from their previous form is attributed to the discovery of a rare crystal found in the newly formed Aether. They studied the properties of this crystal and discovered it had powerful anti-gravity properties. This crystal also had symbiotic properties. When attached to a host, it embedded itself inside the host’s body and drastically altered the host’s biological properties. Eventually, all the Mountain Striders integrated these crystals into themselves and evolved to become the Angels seen around the Aether today. The crystals are so deeply embedded in their genetics now that they naturally grow from the Angels’ bodies, forming wing-like appendages jutting from the back. These crystals have long lost their symbiotic properties, never integrating with another host outside of the Angel it forms on. The older these crystals become, the greater an Angel’s control over gravity becomes, eventually enabling them to control gravity on not just themselves, but on their surroundings as well. Given the age of their race, dating back to the early days of Gaea before it was split, they have had countless aeons to advance culturally and technologically. They know many secrets and have developed incredible machinery based around the use of their crystals. Their current society is mostly made up of male Angels, with female Angels being in positions of power or reverence.
Though they spoke the same tongue, though they appeared like one another, though they had pride in who they were, each of them found there to be a strange foreign quality in each other. The one who strode proudly across the great snow-capped mountains appeared to be glowing and radiant, having grown strong from taming his harsh realm. His kind worshipped the light which shone on them every day, blessing them with their health and prosperity. They built on the highest mountains in order to become closer to their beloved light. The other, who had spent his time within the deep and dank caverns of the earth, appeared dark and sullen. The only light he knew was that of a warm fire or boiling magma within the earth. He viewed the sun with fear and the blinding brightness it brought. His kind delved into forbidden lore, seeking to understand the darkest aspects of their world and fought with predators within the earth endlessly. They measured each other up, their fear of one another slowly growing. They backed away from each other, and retreated to their respective realms. Within each of them, fear continued to grow, and they sought to bring news to their respective peoples about those who were like them, but nothing like them.
The mountain striders, those who strode across the tundras, grew fearful of the earth breakers, those who remained in the shadow of the underground. A peaceful race, the mountain striders found the concept of war foreign to them, since they had lived in an idyllic society for some time. However, the earth breakers had fought tooth and nail for every inch of the earth they claim. Creatures fearsome and loathsome squirmed in the bowels of the earth, which the earth breakers had slain in countless numbers. They were a people accustomed to violence, and were more than prepared for any coming conflict. However, before any true conflict could occur, a great upheaval of the land brought about complete and utter devastation. Reality quivered and threatened to shatter as primal energies surged from within the very land itself, rupturing and cracking open the tundras and caverns. The mountain striders found themselves floating away into a bright sky, eventually becoming lost and scattered across many floating islands, beneath the very sun which they so dearly loved. The earth breakers were dragged into a black void within their very earth, eventually becoming surrounded and trapped by great caverns filled with magma, fire and death.
Inside their prison, the earth breakers cursed the mountain striders, blaming them for what had occurred in the old world. With their forbidden knowledge, they sought to find a way back to the old world, in order to exact their terrible revenge upon the mountain striders. They began slowly changing to adapt their environment, and never gave up on finding a way to fulfill their vengeance. This was their single desire which they worked tirelessly towards. The mountain striders changed as well, becoming people who glided across the sky, always seeking to reach the sun. Their mystics always spoke of the return of the earth breakers, and said that they must be prepared for war. To this end, they trained soldiers, and in time found comfort in the idea of destroying the shadow which has hung over their people for so long. Neither side could find their way back to each other, since what little of reality remained after the upheaval served as a bulwark.
What neither side comprehended, however, was that the world between them would achieve what they could not. A new species rose, one that lived a short life compared to the old races, but made the most of the time they had. They sought to understand their world and in time found traces of the old races left behind. Eventually, the total sum of their knowledge accumulated to their greatest achievement. They discovered how to forge gateways between the old world and the new worlds. This revelation has caused great unrest in the realms that this new race now explores, as both the earth breakers and mountain striders prepare to finish what was started so many aeons ago. The boundaries between their realms is now decaying, and what will remain in the end is chaos.
The Sisimite are an embittered people. They once roamed the dark undergrounds of Gaea, studying the most secretive of lore and fighting the foulest of creatures. During that time, they called themselves the Earth Breakers. When the splintering of the Nexus occurred, the Sisimite were dragged into the fiery depths of the Nether. Trapped inside this hellish realm, the Sisimite nearly starved to death, barely sustaining themselves on the meagre amount of mushrooms they found. The longer they stayed in the Nether, the more their people changed. In time, their skin grew a dark red and capable of absorbing even the most terrible of heat. The Sisimite possess four ears, which they use for echo locating. Since they can be attacked from anywhere in the Nether, this echolocation is essential to their survival. One of the most notable mutations is metallic spikes sprouting from their bodies. The Sisimite typically remove these growths from their body for the purpose of using it for crafting items.
Certain metal growths sprouting from the sides of the Sisimite serve as heat vents. These regularly output steam and keep their body temperature within safe levels. This process requires water, which the sisimite create by mixing together toxic minerals. This water, while essential for their survival, can often cause disease or poisoning. Ghast flesh often contains purer water, which means the creatures are hunted by the Sisimite relentlessly. With a constant supply of organic metal and with the perfection of their mushroom farming techniques, the Sisimite began to thrive in the Nether, building great cities spanning through the endless caverns. These cities are practical to the extreme, with no thought taken to beauty or fancy design. Their knowledge of mystic lore is without equal, enabling them to understand how to manipulate the void, spirits and pocket dimensions. The Sisimite are highly untrusting of any outsiders. They are not outright hostile, but they will strike out without a second thought when threatened. Their legends say that there will be a time when the Sisimite will escape the Nether and finally return to their rightful home.
Although they are survivalists and scorn useless activities, Sisimite have short periods of their time reserved for leisure and recreation. While it may not seem like it, this also has a practical meaning behind it. Insanity and morale are the biggest problems they deal with when they’re not fighting off the creatures of the Nether or collecting water, since they're always surrounded by darkness and danger. Recreation time is essential in helping ease the minds of their people. Their favourite pastime is playing special instruments which help to ease the nervousness in their encampments. On rare occasions, Sisimite might form an ensemble to entertain the whole city or village. When they're not using these instruments to compose music, the Sisimite can utilise them for a number of different activities as well. They constantly fill the instrument with lava, enabling the item to be forge and hammer in one tool. It can also quickly be used as a weapon should something attack them suddenly during recreation time.
Sisimite technology is few and far between, since they’re so absolutely dedicated to their own survival. However, during their assigned leisure time, Sisimite have been known to tinker with various steam-based machines assembled from sheets of their own organic metal. One famous design was the Steam Stompers. These gigantic boots gradually build up pressure as they grow hotter, eventually being released in a sudden burst when the user stomps on the ground. The resulting steam launches the user into the air, enabling the Sisimite to make up for their lack of mobility and use it as a deadly method of attack, considering the boots’ considerable weight.
These boots are favoured by Ghast hunters, as the creatures prove difficult to kill even with throwing axes. The most common technique is taking a ghast by surprise, landing directly on top of them and causing them to plummet to the ground. Although useful, there are not many of these boots in existence, since time is something the Sisimite can’t use very leisurely.
Even a race as hardened as the Sisimite have a softer side to them. Sisimite females are slightly different from the males of their race in terms of biology. Rather than their metal growing as protrusions from the skin, it forms a dense carapace around parts of their body, primarily acting as a means of protecting otherwise vulnerable regions of their bodies, such as hamstrings and joints. Thoughtheir behave like male Sisimite outside of recreation time, while they have spare time they tend to assume the role of caretakers, often comforting traumatised and mentally scarred Sismite. Male Sisimite consider trauma to be something only shared with those who had the ability to ease it, namely the female Sisimite. They themselves are not as able to articulate or to express and understand emotion as females do, so they simply leave it.
Romantic love is also a concept that is foreign to the Sisimite. Sisimite pairs express how they care about one another with practical gifts, rather than grand displays of romance common to Gaea’s humans. Breeding is a practical thing, with careful consideration taken by the Sisimite community in pairing a male and a female. Genetics vary greatly among their kind, much more so than humans, and the likelihood of certain traits that Sisimite parents share being passed down to their children is far greater. So, the females serve a vital role in the Sisimite's struggle for survival in the darkness of Pyralis, and will always hold a special place in Sisimite communities.
Aerbears are tall humanoids who bear a strange resemblance to a creature found only in Gaean myths. Their bones are extremely dense and heavy, making it difficult for them to move around the sky islands when compared with the other races. However, this bone density gives them incredible resilience, being able to shrug off even the most savage of blows with ease. They are a patient people, preferring long term solutions to problems rather than instantaneous solutions which are quickly spent. Their primary means of travelling between islands is through the construction of special bridges designed to support their great weight. A single bridge could potentially take years to build, but this is irrelevant to the Aerbears. Over time, they have built up a large network of connected islands and have managed to spread all over the realm. While they are peaceful, Aerbears are strictly carnivorous and cannot digest any sort of plant matter. Their primary means of feeding themselves is by building specialised farms for the various animals which can be found around the Aether. They also have unrivaled knowledge in the understanding of the migration patterns of various animals, meaning that they will always have an abundant supply of meat. While they prefer not to fight, they’re more than capable of fighting should they need to do so. Their preferred weapons are large polearms, since the sheer weight of the weapons do not bother the Aerbears in the slightest. In addition to being used as a weapon, the polearm is also their preferred means of slaughtering their farm animals.
Part of Aerbear culture is the worship of a being they call the Wind Writer. They solidify their belief that this being exists in the writings they have found around the Aether inside tiny structures. They claim that the Wind Writer left these scrolls for the Aerbears to gain wisdom from and progress forward as a society. Their very own language is derived from the mysterious language found in these scrolls. Writing holds an important part of their culture, with libraries considered to be the heart of any Aerbear village. They are masters of language and translation, always keen to find a new tongue they have not yet encountered. Since wisdom and writing is so revered by the Aerbears, they welcome just about any traveler with open arms, keen to potentially gain new wisdom.
The Wayfinder is a curious entity among the many inhabitants of the Aether. He is always a very lonely figure, choosing primarily to wander alone. It is not widely known to most of the Aether’s inhabitants who have observed his passage, but he is searching. He has been on a quest for centuries, and for not a single moment has anything he has done been for anything but his quest. A long time ago, the Wayfinder was merely one among many. His people prospered in the Aether, living in quiet and homely villages. Those times quickly ended, however, as a deadly plague swept through the villages. They were unable to cure it, and they started dying rapidly. Strangely, the Wayfinder was the only one who managed to survive the disease. Upon waking from the deep sleep the plague induced, he saw the sheer devastation the plague left in its wake, countless bodies lying on the narrow roads.
In his grief, he desperately looked for a solution. He heard rumours of the Valkyries’ awakening ritual, and then sought out a Valkyrie temple. He had hoped to use their soul well's magic to revive his people, just as the Valkyries had been reborn. But the Valkyries kept their secrets to themselves. In desperation, he used the well without any knowledge, and instead drew all of his peoples' souls into himself. They whisper to him inside his head, a whole settlement's knowledge and memories swirling inside his mind. Since he knew the Valkyries would not, and could not, help him at this point, he sought out a mythic being for the answers he seeks. The Lorist is the only being who could tell him what must be done to bring back his people, and he will stop at nothing in order to achieve that goal. He has done many deeds and collected countless pages left by the Lorist, all in the hope that one day he will finally meet this elusive entity, and bring about the resurrection of his long dead people.
Signy the Valkyrie
Signy is the proud scout of the Sunspot Temple, one of the largest Valkyrie fortresses in the Aether. Similar to her fellow Valkyries, Signy is an embodiment of strength and righteousness, with most earthly and petty desires erased through the Awakening Ritual. However, she’s less concerned with righteousness and honour as her fellow Valkyries, since her role sometimes requires her to employ stealth and less savoury tactics more often than not. Admittedly, she is not good at concealing herself and has been spotted multiple times across various settlements in the Aether.
Her slim build and incredible wingspan enables her to swiftly escape anyone who would otherwise deal with her spying quite violently. She’s capable of handling herself in a proper fight, but not with as much skill as her fellow sisters. Parents are a foreign concept to the Valkyries, but Signy still remembers a strange longing and need for a figure to aspire to and confide in. The Matriarch of the Sunspot Temple largely fulfills this role as Signy strides to reach her full potential. Her uncrushable and tireless spirit has revealed many secrets to her through her regular scouting trips throughout the Aether, and she will find many more secrets still.
Most would declare that the Nether is completely hostile to any form of life. However, even in these dark and spirit infested depths, life stubbornly continues to survive. One notable beast is the Hotshell. These gargantuan reptiles have long lost their eyes, since they have spent aeons trapped in the darkest reaches of the Nether. Since they are blind, they primarily rely on ground vibrations andheat detection in order to “see” the environment around them. These beasts harden their rock-like shells by repeatedly bathing in lava and allowing themselves to cool off slowly. Through this process, they gradually anneal their hide, making it harder and stronger every time.
They primarily feed on netherrack to sustain themselves, but their highly adaptable digestive system enables just about anything to be an adequate meal for them. While their skin and shell is exceptionally hard, there are certain weak points on their body which are just soft enough to cause lasting damage. The Sisimite rarely organise hunts to slay ancient Hotshells, since the leather it provides is harder than any other substance in the realm and the sheer amount of meat could provide a settlement plenty of meals.
Not all races who dwell the Aether are inherently righteous or benevolent. The Drac’San are a primitive and parasitic species, reptilian in appearance. They typically have four legs on what appears to be a blend between a lizard’s body and a humanoid’s torso, with a pair of leathery wings sprouting from their back. They use a primitive shamanistic magic, which enables them to bend the elements, wild beasts and the weather to their will. Magic power is accumulated by draining the blood of other humanoid races, most notably the Valkyries, and drinking it after it has been “blessed” by a Drac’San shaman. Hearts are also prized by the foul creatures, since it is believed to grant the greatest amount of power in one dose. Their primitive magic is focused through “runes”, small symbols carved, painted or otherwise engraved onto surfaces. This is particularly notable on the primitive weaponry they have created. Runes are used on these weapons to modify the properties of the base material, giving rise to their favoured metal known as “vampire steel”, which automatically absorbs the blood of its victim and transfers its vitality to the user.
They have been known to enslave Zephyrs and Tempests when preparing to assault strongholds or large encampments through their magic. If a Drac’San does not feed on blood, they lose all of their magical power. Certain Drac’San wish to live in peace and not to hunt the other races of the Aether, choosing not to drink blood and lose all of their magical power. These Drac’San compensate for their lack of magical power with the use of weaponry. Drac’San are largely considered vermin by the majority of intelligent races, since they have an extremely primitive and backwards society. Nonetheless, no one dares to underestimate the power these creatures can wield.
Unbound souls are common in the Nether, wandering the red and ash-choked caverns with no purpose or afterlife to look forward to. At rare moments, more malicious souls form into dangerous entities. The most wicked of all, however, eventually discover a means to regain a physical body. This body burns with a dark aura, and forms plates of supernatural material to act as a shell. These plates grind together constantly as the entity moves, resulting in a sound similar to hoarse laughter. This walking mockery of life will eventually join a group known as the Fireheart Legion. The Legion is driven by the basest desires and most wicked aspects of existence. Murder, destruction and the glory of bloody warfare are the only thoughts which occupy their minds. When a new member is introduced to the Legion, they are tested in battle against five Legion veterans.
What is most disturbing about the Legion is that they all share a singular mind. All of them connect together and there is no individuality among their ranks. Bodies are of value, independent minds are not. The hardiness of a Legionnaire’s spiritual shell scales directly with the power of the soul used to create it. Worthless souls are discarded, where powerful ones are kept. The Legion is completely hostile to all other lifeforms, and is incapable of mercy, compassion or any virtuous traits. The only release for these souls is when their shells are destroyed, resulting in the dissipation of the host soul, never allowing it to be reborn again.
Life in the Nether is strange and alien compared to just about any other realm existence. Burnslicks are a notably unusual species that has adapted to the darker and deeper regions of this fiery dimension. They are strange creatures composed of a rubbery flesh-like mass, coloured brightly red and are encased in a shell composed of volcanic stone. They are capable of clinging to just about any surface with the bottom of their fleshy mass and move at an incredibly slow pace. Mushrooms are known to sprout from the creature’s flesh, which other Burnslicks clean off them regularly. A lone Burnslick often succumbs to the fungal growth quite quickly, so the creatures move in small groups and stay close by each other in order to ensure the survival of the group. What is notable about these creatures is their methods of acquiring food. Most of the time, they supplement their diet by secreting a slightly acidic residue from the bottom of their body, breaking down stones to provide essential minerals.
Their primary method of hunting is a single stalk covered in a bio-illuminant liquid that sprouts from the “head” of the creature, which is used to lure prey into dark areas of the Nether. Once the prey is sufficiently out of reach of any light source, the Burnslick strikes out with its stalk. The bio-illuminant liquids coating the Burnslick’s stalk also act as a caustic and paralytic agent, preventing the creature from fleeing and helping to break it down into a form more edible for the Burnslick. They are often unsuccessful, however, due to their incredibly slow movement. Burnslicks also have a slow metabolism, enabling them to survive on one decent meal every year. While dangerous to be near, they can be a very reliable source of food if properly farmed.
Every sky eventually has a storm on the horizon. The Aether’s “storm” is a creature known as a Tempest, closely related to the less dangerous Zephyr. It appears as a dark storm cloud with a face on its front. Tiny electrical charges can be seen leaping through its body, sometimes causing a large bolt of lightning to randomly strike the area around it. These living storm clouds are highly dangerous, able to disperse electrical charges from its body and call lightning down on its enemies. They only appear during the darkest hours of the night, and are seldom seen when the sun is above the Aether.
When the sages built the portals, all sorts of people from all sorts of walks of life entered the Aether. Despite the Sages’ best efforts, less than reputable people slipped through into the unsuspecting realm. Edison is considered to be one of the greatest scoundrels of the current time. Cunning and ruthless, he is able to persuade just about anyone into receiving the worse end of the deal, and able to turn a profit from just about anything. Since his arrival, he has quickly gained infamy among the intelligence races of the Aether, having swindled multitudes of them into giving up highly unique and curious valuables. He rarely stays in one place for long, quickly moving on before his customers catch on that they’ve been ripped off. However, he has been known more recently to actually provide decent goods, albeit for absurd prices. He has made incredible profit since arriving, and he intends to make a lot more.
For those who think themselves wily enough to get a good deal out of him, he travels around in a caravan now, and offers exotic goods of all sorts to those with the right amount of coins.
Self-proclaimed “thaumaturge” or maker of miracles, Ivan Greystone is one of the most brilliant and eccentric researchers to have ever stepped into the field of reality warping and dimensional hopping. He is not by any means limited to this field, however, and has made various magical advancements in all kinds of different fields, including the construction of exceptionally hard arcane glass and stone. He was one of the instrumental figures in the construction of portals to both Pyralis and the Aether, but he was cast out of the project after attempting to slow down the research for safety reasons. The current method the portals use to breach into other realms creates instabilities in reality. They disregarded these findings because they were given the responsibility of finding a new home for a huge group of refugees fleeing from a collapsing kingdom.
Ivan is now researching fervently, attempting to devise a solution to the gradual instability caused by the portals. He is aided in this task by his daughter Elizabeth. If the pair do not succeed, it may very well be the end of the three dimensions as they are now known.
The figure’s head is lowered, staring at an open book sitting on his lap. It is not often Owen sees someone as rough as himself, but this figure looks like he has seen much of the harder aspects of life. His hair is rough and unclean, his face unshaven, a tangled beard sprouting from his jawline. His clothes are weather worn and look like filthy rags, implying he had not stopped to wash or clean himself in in some time. Either he did not hear the door’s creaking, or he’s simply ignoring Owen. Before Owen can open his mouth to speak, the figure looks up. A pair of white, empty eyes stare at Owen, veins pulsating around them. Signy also walks into the room, and looks the figure directly in his empty, white eyes. He begins speaking in a dialect unlike any Owen’s ever heard before, and Signy responds to him in kind.