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.
The Watchtower of the Lead CoinEdit
- Main article: Watchtower of the Lead Coin
As with every feature of Stygia, and the other supernal realms in general, the nature of the Watchtower of the Lead Coin varies depending on who is observing it. It is generally agreed to be a great spire jutting up in the the clouds, or a pyramid that would dwarf any ever found on Earth, after that the descriptions begin to vary. Many say the tower is built entirely of some heavy metal, usually lead or gold. Some have suggested it is in the form of an immense stack of bones, which a supplicant must climb. Other substances like white marble or black obsidian have been known to appear from time to time. As the mage ascends the tower and passes through the clouds, the sunlight of Stygia grows brighter and brighter, creating the well-known 'tunnel of light' near-death sequence. At the top of the tower one must forge a connection to Stygia. This can be simply carving one's name into the tower with magic, making a blood offering, burning oneself on a funeral pyre, even forging a new Artifact to add to the treasures. Sometimes there is a gatekeeper, in the form of a Grim Reaper, a black cat, an executioner, or ghosts of the mage's relatives. At other times, the tower is abandoned.
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 Oracle of the Lead CoinEdit
The Oracle of the Lead Coin is a hazy figure, like all the other Oracles. He or she fought in the war against the Exarchs, and broke off this fight when all seemed lost, in order to ascend into the Supernal Realms and bring magic back down to Earth, allowing those left behind to continue wielding their powers. The Oracle entered Stygia - this much is known - but the events that transpired afterwards are contradictory and vague, up to the point where even the Oracle's gender is unclear. One legend claims that the Watchtower was already present, but unable to see the structure whilst in physical flesh, she burned away her body. In doing so, she became truly one of the inhabitants of Stygia, and gained the sight of the Shades, making the Watchtower visible to her and through her to the mages of the Fallen World.
In another story, the Oracle is depicted as guarding the Fallen World against incursion by creatures from the Abyss. These beasts craved the souls of humanity, and were able to shackle the dead to their whims, possessing their bodies as grotesque vehicles in which to stalk the material world. The other Oracles all turned to the Oracle of the Lead Coin, and he deliberated long and hard on the problem. So he added to his Watchtower until it was tall enough to see across the Abyss into the Fallen World, and he found that he could turn the armies of undead used by the beasts against them with his powers. So he made the armies of the beasts fight their masters, harrying them to the ends of the Earth, at which point they fell upon the invaders and destroyed them. Out of their remains, the dead built a fortress gate, to keep the invaders from ever returning in such vast numbers. And so the Oracle made his tower visible to the mages of the Fallen World and saved the material realms from demonic invasion.