“Some obscure part of the Scriptures reveal that: between our world and the world of God exists a land of spirits both foul and benevolent but mostly alien to us. It is a place no man is to set foot less he be judged before God chooses his time of death. Such a sacrilege must not come to be.”
There is a whole world shadowing our own. Significant events, people and places still resonate there. Broken ghosts and revenants still fight in the great crusade of the castle age, stuck in an endless loop. In other corners of this strange place lie spirits of nature, acting according to their strange whims. Of course, there are also numerous malevolent entities that prey on the weary souls that would let them in.
Depending on the person you ask – a priest of the Nine, a follower of the old ways or an arcane arts master – you will get a different interpretation of what the place is. They all agree however that the place exists and that it is dangerous.
Since the place can be deadly, it is a good thing that it is inaccessible unless a great deal of (arcane) efforts are made to get there. While it is possible in theory to get there without the use of magic, it is almost unheard of.
General Knowledge?: While in this text, we discuss the nature of the InBetween, be advised that most people don’t have a clue about it. They will likely borrow some tidbits from their chosen faiths to explain strange phenomena and to cope with death, but the details contained here are simply not known. Moreover, the idea of travelling to another world, or even the name InBetween, is simply not used in the general population. For the religious man, when you die, you simply go to Hell or Heaven. For the follower of the Old Ways, you become one with nature, perhaps becoming a spirit of nature yourself. The atheist believes he just dissolves. At the end of the day, this text is for those who know better than the general public.
According to the scriptures, this is where the spirits of the departed go upon death. There, they will be visited by the Holy and the Infernal and be put to the test. The place is thus neither holy nor evil, merely the place where one is judged. It is the demilitarized zone between Angels and Demons.
The Doorway: past the Limbo lies both Hell and Heaven. Thus, the realm is as much a doorway as it is a place.
Ghosts: when the dead are too scared to be judged, the scripture says, they can hide in the Limbo. Sometimes, some of these souls can’t comprehend how they died and what happened and end up making their way into our world. More often than not, they are helped by malevolent spirits who open the gateway in exchange for their promise to torment the living. In rare cases, spirits of mercy will allow the dead to travel back to say their goodbyes to a loved one. This is uncommon but could explain some accounts of benevolent ghosts.
Not for the living: this realm is not for the living. Whether a being lives or dies is a matter decided by God. To intrude in this realm is to defy Him. Priests and preachers discourage any attempt to interact with this place. If God wanted them to talk to us, an Angel would be tasked in making it happen. Be wareth of a place where your soul may be judged before your time is up.
The Spirits Realm
Our realm and the spirit realm were once one. Spirits and humans lived freely in this Eden. Animals were in their spiritual form and could communicate with every other beings and entities. The land was young. The land was naïve, as it believed everyone was in harmony. But in the shadows laid spirits of the night discontent with all the attention humans were getting from the other spirits. They used their magic to split the land in half and force its inhabitants to make a choice. Humans and animals were split from the spirits of nature and the others. Magma was born.
At least, that is what is believed by the Followers of the Old Ways. Depending on the area, the story varies, but the idea is the same: the humans and animals were kicked out.
On Djinns: when the world split, not all spirits were caught on the other side. Some stayed behind. Spirits of the Elements became flesh and bone. The Djinns were born. This, it is said by the Elders, is why the magic of the land resonate so strongly with them.
The Source of all Magic: the Spirits Realm is where magic takes its power. When the great divide occurred, spirits of magic and power stayed behind. But their influence on both worlds could not be undone. They were simply too powerful, creators of the great original realm. Their roots and the flow of their power created the ley lines which flows across the land and fuels the magic that can soothe or destroy.
Primal Ley Lines: from the Spirits Realm and into our Realm are currents of power. Recognized by both arcane practitioners and wielders of primal powers, many people spend a ridiculous amount of time studying its patterns. Trying to predict the movements of ley lines across the land is a full time job.
Reaching: spirits have influence across the barrier separating both worlds. Magical creatures are simply regular animals possessed or touched by elemental spirits. While elemental spirits can sometimes be found in the material realm, these are generally powerful enough to survive without the caress from the Spirits Realm.
One of Many Universes
For magicians, witches, warlocks and other arcane scholars, the world commonly known as the InBetween is one of many universes, as our own world is. Their view on this Realm is not tainted by any scripture or belief; it is a matter of scientific research and reasoning.
Arcane Ley Lines: while arcanists recognize the existence and importance of Ley Lines in the magical layout of our world, they do not see it as some spiritual being taking roots in the Spirits realm. Ley Lines, it is theorized, are the flow of energy between various doorways of the multiverse. When doors are used and paths are closed or opened in the other Realms, it reroutes and ripples through the currents. If all doorways were to be closed, magic would simply cease to work unless one had access to some arcane batteries. This theory is believed to be true due to the excess residual magic energy found at crossing Ley Lines, which are generally places where passage to the InBetween is greatly facilitated and some rare cases done without the use of any magic.
Doorway or Realm: the InBetween does appear to be the easiest way to go to other realms. It is not unlike a port; you get to the docks and have access to boats to Z’aor, Castellan, Karbakis, etc. While in theory, you could probably take a plane that would take you from your hometown to your place of choice it is easier to go to the port. In this example, the port itself is a realm; perhaps not a complete realm, maybe more like a pocket realm of our realm.
Denizens of the Other Realm: the entities from beyond our world are a strange melting pot of numerous origins. The fact that the soul of dead people, spirits of elemental influence and foul demons can all be found there, add strength to the multiverse theory. What if all these had their own realm, but are just visiting the InBetween? Nonetheless, these entities can be dangerous and one must be careful when dealing with them. Accounts of entities crossing into our world are numerous and numerous arcanists specialize or at least know how to summon them to do their bidding. While the depiction of some of the entities as demons, or malevolent spirits trying to rob humans from their souls, is very popular with the priests and the religious crowd, for most arcanist, they are simply entities with an agenda. Same as Angels; only the agenda changes.
What Lies Beyond the InBetween: If there is something else past this other Realm, then what is it? Cosmology is one of many areas of study and it is far from being the most important in a world full of dangers and competing nations. Some arcanists of the past have reached the InBetween to study the Ley Lines that carry over from our world. They have found crossroads and doorways. So far, if anybody managed to cross through, the secret has been kept from the general public and from what is generally taught in Arcane Universities. For a long time, the Church banned such studies; the InBetween itself is considered off limits according to the scriptures, let alone realms beyond that. With the Castellan Empire losing power and the Church of the Nine following, an era of science opens up new possibilities. What was banned is now allowed, and some open minded arcanists might decide time has come to dig deeper and explore these realms.