The Underworld

he underworld is known by many names – Hades, Niflheim, Infernos, Feng-Tu, and the Afterlife. Though these names have been given to the dead lands in general, many realms bearing those names exist beyond the Tempest.

Indeed, the Underworld is not one single place; it is a multifaceted dimension made up of innumerable realms and domains. Also known as the Dark or Low Umbra to some, the “structure” of the Underworld defies simple geography. The Underworld is best understood as consisting of layers that, like C.S. Lewis’ mythical kingdom of Narnia, grow larger the further in you go. The outermost one, called the Shadowlands, is identical in location to the lands of the living. Wraiths can exist here as ghostly observers, viewing a world they can never again truly inhabit.

“The Underworld” is a collective term describing the sunless lands of death. It does not exist as a “place” in the way that the living view geography. Instead, it is a nightmare to any who think that a straight line is still the shortest distance between two points. Even most wraiths don’t quite understand the nature of the realm in which they dwell; they tend to resort to models of increasing simplicity and inaccuracy in order to explain their surroundings. Some modern wraiths think of the Underworld in terms of outer space, viewing the various realms within it as planets and solar systems. However useful such a metaphor may be, it cannot hope to explain the scope or substance of this enigmatic “place”.

There is both great passion and crushing sorrow in the Underworld. To the souls trapped here, the afterlife is dim and painful. Yet beyond the pain, hope beckons. The Shadowland purgatory is dangerous, ugly, and filled with reminders of the unfulfilled lives wraiths have left behind. Nonetheless, consciousness and identity live on, and where there is survival, there is hope. Spirit form allows the dead some abilities unknown to mortals, and wraiths possess unique and cogent insights into reality. Willpower and the human spirit can engender hope, strength, and defiance, even when faced with nightmarish despair.

The Shadowlands, Stygia, the Far Shores, and the Tempest are some of the geographical locations.