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As all Supernal Realms, what constitutes the Aether has been changed over the years. Mages who know of these changes debate whether this is a result of the Supernal itself changing, or if mortals have developed to the degree that they can see more of the Supernal during their Awakening than before. As access to the Supernal is impossible, the debates are mostly academic.
Around 5000 BCE, Stygia was an immense ocean, similar to the Underworld at that time. Its sea floor was not sand but treasure. A thousand thousand fragments of gleaming metal, shattered stone, and gems, along with bones, constituted the ground. When the future Wise gave in into the sea and released his breath to reach the floor, he found a Shining Tablet amidts corpses, in which he engraved his name to Awaken.
Stygia is a dead Realm, and nothing moves in the realm of the dead. The realm is a place of quiet contemplation, the phrase, 'silent as the grave, and still as a tomb', is the most fitting description, souls awaiting their transition to whatever comes after death. In Stygia, souls of the departed wait in the graves to begin their journey to along the supernal path. Stygia is the realm located closest to the material world, here our souls are purged of all material desires they had while they are alive had in the Fallen World. No one may leave the shores of Stygia until they learn to let go of their old loves. Some shades of Stygia take longer than others, some move thru almost instantly, others can take centuries.
Every Moros mage experiences the realm differently, but all agree that it is quiet and still. It is 'serene', 'peaceful' is inaccurate, which implies an air of benevolence. Beyond this air of tranquility, no two Moros agree on the physical nature of Stygia. The Kingdoms of Crypts sometimes manifests as literal interpretation of its moniker, abounding with graveyards, tombs, even a few Egyptian or Mayan pyramids. (Remember not every culture views death in the same light as ours, the Egyptians worshipped and venerated their dead.) Stygia may also be a place of rugged white marble mountains, streaked with silver and gold.
The realm is ostensibly lit by pale and weak light, echoing of the Fallen World's sun, filtered heavily through the omnipresent cloud layer. However, most of the real light of Stygia stems from the torches placed around the crypts, and funeral pyres place in and around crypts and graveyards, or from rock formations glowing with a pale inner light or reflecting the the radiance of the sun or the torches off the veins and ribbons of precious metals and mineral deposits.
Indeed, such materials are everywhere one looks in Stygia. Either from veins of gold, silver, or platinum, or clusters of gemstones big as a mountain or the riches within the tombs of its inhabitants, Stygia is a place of immense material wealth.
Great rivers of death flow through Stygia, although its inhabitants refuse to go near them. Following them downriver takes a traveller to the Watchtower of the Lead Coin; following them upriver is notably difficult. At some point the mage reaches a point where they realize that what lies further upriver is no longer Stygia. Some have theorized it's a Supernal Realm of pure Death with no Matter, while others suggest it may be Hell.
Arcana of StygiaEdit
The subtle expression of Stygia. Stygia is the one place where the soul of every dead person goes, though they will eventually move on to some other realm. As such, the resonance of Stygia is a feeling of endings. Shadows consume light. Souls come to rest. Life decays. Even the power of magic withers and fades. This energy, decay and endings, touches everything that links with the realm of Stygia, and influences the Fallen World via the Arcanum of Death. Those who employ this power are granted influences over darkness, decay, ectoplasm, enervation, ghosts, and souls.
The gross expression of Stygia. All matter in Stygia is subordinate to the will of the mages. It is how a fingernail can scratch names into solid marble, why gold and silver and crystal, as well as other less precious materials, erupt from the surface of the realm. Even the element of life itself, water, is present. (See above) The riches of the dead are there for all to see and the living mages who come must make more than a spiritual connection; it must be a physical link between between themselves and the watchtower. In Stygia, tangible matter is prevalent over transient spirit, and this gravity leaks down into the Fallen World via the Arcanum of Matter. Those who master this Arcanum can wield power over the very building blocks of matter down to the subatomic level, disciplines such as: Alchemy, Chemistry, Elemental air (gas), earth (solid), fire (plasma), and water (liquid), Quantum Mechanics, Shaping, & transmutation.
The notion of a spirit is substantially different to that of a soul. Many Moros cannot seem to understand this. Stygia is a place entirely devoid of the spirits that infuse the Primal Wild and the Shadow realm, where matter is souless and purely physical, nothing more than the basic it is composed of. When witnessing a mage using the Arcanum of Sprit to awaken an, object, few moros realise that the mage is actually calling to another being; most simply believe that the mage is using a part of their own soul to awaken the item. Even those that see this difference know that Stygia has no power over spirits. As such, it is difficult for the Moros to learn the Spirit Arcanum.
The chief inhabitants of Stygia, the shades are the souls of the recently dead, waiting to move on to whatever comes after their time in Stygia. These beings are aware of their surroundings and are as intelligent as they were in life. However, they follow specific patterns and cannot stray far from their grave markers and tombs. It is important not to confuse Shades with ghosts, who are largely unaware that they are dead and who remain in the Fallen World until the factors that led them to become a ghost are resolved.
The Shades know that they are in Stygia, and that they will eventually go somewhere else. They are aware that, in order to get there, they must wait until "the right time". However, none of them seem to be very knowledgeable as to exactly what that time is. This doesn't mean that they are stupid or unaware of their surroundings, just that they lack an appropriate frame of reference.
The Shades are not the only inhabitants of Stygia. Their corpses pass on too, sometimes rising up to aid a mage during their Awakening, sometimes resolutely remaining in their graves. Also, creatures have been reported prowling Stygia, creatures that are elusive and that do not desire any interaction with mages beyond following them. Called the Guardians, these beings have been reported in many guises, from canine creatures reminiscent of Cerberus to squat and bent humanoids. Their purpose is not known, but it is theorized that they are there to protect Stygia against intruders from the Abyss or from other Supernal Realms.
The craft of Supernal Summoning identifies two types of being that can be called from a Supernal Realm; manifest beings of the Gross Arcanum of that realm, and recondite beings embodying the Subtle Arcanum. The Shades of Stygia are no exception. Those that can be summoned are divided as follows;