Metaphysics of Aldaeir
Aldaeir is in many senses two very distinct (though not independent) worlds. There is the world of the material, that which is seen, touched, and manipulated by mortals in their daily lives, and there is a world that is spiritual: more beautiful, more terrible, and more deadly. These two worlds are inextricably linked – indeed, the material world arose from this spiritual one – and this linkage has been the cause of many struggles and horrors in the realm of the mortals.
This brief treatise on the metaphysics of Aldaeir can be divided into two sections. The first will detail the cosmology – that is, the creation of the world and the realms of the gods. Second, a detail of the major gods will try to explain these mighty beings to the mortal reader.
To ask when the spirit realm was created, according to some scholars, is a foolish question, since it is said to be an eternal realm and therefore outside of time. However, what is known from communion with the gods – and verified from multiple philosophers – is that the material world was originally created as a prison for the Primal Darknesses. These ancient powers (individually more powerful even than the gods, according to the Burani) were sealed into what was at the time an inert realm of matter, very distinct from the Spirit of the gods. This sealing of the Dark Ones, however, did something that even the wisest of the gods could not have forseen: it caused motion and mixing in what was once a stable realm of four unthinking, unmoving, distinct elements. By forcing pure spirit into pure matter, the gods unwittingly gave rise to a new world of matter ensouled – in short, the gods created life.
Immediately, accusations began flying. The gods instantly grasped that the creatures that arose from this mixture of god and matter could not be inherently good – after all, it was the Primal Darknesses that gave them life and motion. The gods began fighting among themselves, blaming one another for the creation of this monstrosity of spirit and matter below, while that monstrosity itself continued to mix, to grow and decay, and to gain in power. The living creatures that were born of that mixture began to walk, then to think, and then finally to look to the stars in search of their creators, not realizing that the stars were just extensions of their creation – more siblings than parents – and that their creators happened to dwell in the earth and in their very souls.
The gods – forever disunited from this schism – begrudgingly agreed to combine their powers in one act, to put an end to their monstrous accident. Unbeknownst to them, however, the world below had advanced much during their squabbling. Intelligent life had begun building cities, had begun loving and teaching and learning. One such life form, a Gnome whose name has been lost to history and cursed by the gods, had discovered the Primal Darknesses, shattered and imprisoned as they were, and had learned much from them. As the gods united above, this Gnome gathered some acolytes together and waited. To destroy the world, the gods had concocted of something never before seen in the Cosmos – they had created music, and had assembled to sing the Final Note, the song of destruction. But, as they opened their mouths and sang the end of the world, this Gnome, under the tutelage of the Primal Darknesses, sang a counter melody, a harmony that altered the Final Note to some other purpose. In that instant, the world forever changed.
Instead of piercing to the heart of the world and destabilizing it, the song took on a strange quality. It came from both the spiritual and the material world, and so rather than running from one to the other, it began to orbit, to reverberate and to harmonize the two worlds. They were drawn together in the Final Note, which, rather than disrupting the world of matter, linked the two realms together forever in this one reverberating chord. In singing the song together in harmony, the spirits and the materials were pulled into each other, and the worlds became joined.
This joining had many affects that are now known, and probably many more that are yet to be discovered, but scholars everywhere acknowledge two as the greatest changes. First, the voice of the Gnome, at first aided by the Primal Darknesses, was suddenly infused with them, and three of them were restored to their divinity, utterly slaying the poor Gnome in the process. Second, and perhaps even more importantly, some of the essences of the two worlds were traded. The material world received an influx of divine power, which in time the mortals would come to call magic, and the divine world was penetrated by matter, forever differentiating the gods into knowable forms. This single act took the gods from a status of disunity to outright estrangement and began the (probably endless) war of the gods.
Such is the state of the world today: a material world infused with spirit in which spirits infused with matter wage a bitter war, each trying to affirm that this horrid monstrosity created by them was not truly their fault, that someone else is to blame, and that someone else must be punished. In the mean time, the material world, with its new-found powers of magic, began and continues to grow in power and understanding, waging wars and evils of its own, a reflection of its birth in violence and darkness. Increasingly, however, the more moderate of the gods have noticed that the world, although born in evil, is not altogether bad, and have begun to question the wisdom of continuing to use these life forms as pawns in their battles. Indeed, they who have bothered to notice at all have also seen something altogether more troubling – along with emerging goodness came emerging power, and with each passing day, the “mere” mortals of the material world are becoming less and less the shameful offspring of the gods, but more and more their peers, equals… and competition.
As described above, the gods of Aldaeir are not nearly the powers that they once were. Below are brief descriptions of each of the major divinities – that is, those gods (or more commonly, pantheons) who are powerful enough to be considered the patron deity of a specific culture. In each section is contained a link to more information about the portfolios, powers, relics, and religious practices associated with each one.