Worldbuilding: The Realms
The world of Aurelian was created by the gods in a time before remembering, and is divided into three realms: Aster, the realm of the gods; Terrene, the realm of men; and The Mors, the realm of the dead. Separating the three realms is a thin veil, an obscure space of dust and ether. The gods can move through the veil at will, passing from realm to realm or using the space between them as a hidden passageway. It is in this way that the gods watch over the people of Terrene without being seen. The Tellurians do not have this ability. They can only cross the veil at the time of their death, and then only from their realm to the realm of the dead through one of nine gates. Demigods, rare half-Tellurian, half-god beings, can move between the realms of Aster and Terrene using the gates, but cannot cross to The Mors or walk the space between the realms as the gods do.
Long before the age of the Tellurians was the age of the gods. They created for themselves a world that reflected their social nature and called it Aster. The buildings are large and open, built of warm stone, bright metals, and cut glass. Lanes are wide and paved with soft copper that gleams in the brilliant white light of day. Most gods prefer the close company of others, and spend a majority of their time in the public areas. Some, however, seek quiet and privacy, and choose to spend their time secluded in chambers of their own design. Each chamber is a reflection of the god’s personality: some are opulently appointed, some are stark and cold, and all can be changed on a whim with a single thought.
The realms of Aurelian are governed by a council of seven gods. These seven are chosen by their peers to conduct the day to day affairs of Aster and to keep watch over Terrene. All gods are eligible to join the council, and if chosen, can remain on the council as long as they desire. Of course, the chosen god can also refuse the council appointment, though this is rare. All gods have the right to bring an item before the council for deliberation. The council alone has the authority to order punishment, seek reparations for injustices, and settle disputes.
Terrene, when compared to Aster, could be considered dull and dim, with it’s yellow-orange sun and pale moon. According to legend, the Tellurians were lost and dying, stranded in the middle of the wide sea, when the gods heard their cries and came to their rescue. The gods, being generous and good, pulled the land up from the bottom of the ocean and created an island with a mountain at its center. They gave the realm to the people, but promised to always watch over them, and to give them aid as they required.
Terrene is an island of simple beauty. In the summer, the grasses of the north wave green and gold in the gentle breeze that flows from the east. In the west, lambs bleat and hop in the soft warmth of the spring as the shepherds look on. To the east, the forest becomes a blaze of reds and golds as the autumn lingers. Across the south, the smell of turned earth and growing things hangs heavy in the air throughout the warm months. High on the mountain, where the king’s castle is carved, the first flakes of snow fall on the peak, ushering in the winter. The sea batters against the rocky shores to the southeast, giving the air a constant salty bite. Down the mountain the rivers run: the mineral-rich Ildra to the north; the clear, cold Le to the southwest; the Eindara to the northeast, surrounded by the Karandar forest; and the mighty Amandul to the south.
The mild seasons and rich soil make Terrene a fertile land. The forest and untamed grasses are at once wild and beautiful. The Karandar forest is home to a variety of plants, from flowering vines to tall hardwood trees. The grasslands to the north provide for the great herds with little need of cultivation. Tellurians are able to grow a great number of different crops in the rich farmland to the south, including various grains, vegetables, fruiting trees and vines, and herbs. The people of Terrene learned to be self-sufficient quickly, relying on the gods for good weather and good soil but little else.
An assortment of animals can be found on the island, from wild beasts to herded livestock. A walk in the forest will find deer, songbirds and game birds, predators such as wild cats, and prey such as hares. Sheep and cattle graze in herds across the north. Oxen, horses, and mules can be found across the south and west, beasts of toil and burden on the many farms that spread across the land. Domesticated animals are common, and are kept for both food (pigs and goats) and pleasure (dogs and cats).
When the first king was chosen by the gods and set in the mountain castle, the land was divided into fourteen provinces. Each province is equal to the others, and has a distinctive product for which it is known. Ceek, sitting at the base of the mountain to the north, is known for its fine leather work: richly detailed protective garments and sturdy boots. Aberrare, an eastern province of both forest and farmland, is known for sturdy creations of wood: precisely carved bedposts and artistic wood panels. To the west, Brydun is known for lush, rich wines. The people of the southern province of Elgar make exquisite jewelry from the pearls they collect from the sea.
Scattered about the provinces are the nine gates the Tellurian dead use to cross into The Mors. These gates are sacred places, and most are watched over by Ili and Ila, men and women of learning. The gates were placed with purpose by the Keeper of the dead so that the dead did not have to wander far to come to their new realm. The realm of the dead is geographically similar to Terrene, with the exception of the central mountain. The terrain on both sides of the gate are familiar, then, to the newly dead, and this brings them a level of comfort in the strange land.
The Mors are lit with a flat, gray light; not dim or dreary, but rather like a foggy or clouded morning. The soil is a deep brownish-red, giving the land a look of warmth despite the cool light. As in Aster, things come into existence at a thought, and can change with a whim. Thus the dwellings of the dead are varied and change often. Certain plants and trees do grow and flourish among the dead, and are only available in their realm. However, no living animal can remain with the dead for a great length of time, as they are limited by their Tellurian lifespans. The dead have no need for food or nourishment, and most are unconcerned by this limitation. A few, however, enjoy the herding of animals, and find the limitation irritating.
Animals rarely pass into The Mors upon their death, and are instead scattered, returned to the dust and ether of the veil, by the Keeper. Occasionally an owner may request passage to the realm for a beloved pet, and the request is usually granted. It is because of the Keeper’s kind nature that The Mors has the most diverse population of creatures of all the realms.