According to the ancient Perans the world is a giant cauldron made of eruvrand
, or adamant, the strongest material of all the things that exist in the Cosmos. Inside this cauldron there are the lands and the seas, and those exist on the top of the cauldron, beneath them lying a solid mass made of earth and all the main minerals and materials that compose it. Such is this that the oceanic waters pour through the edge of the cauldron and fall in gigantic waterfalls to the mists that lay on the bottom, covering the Underworld. This means that these mists are the roof and ceiling of the Underworld, the Mabolàs
or Sea of Clouds, and can only be properly seen, they say, if one goes to the end of the world, in the farthest lands, and looks to the bottom. But to do it is dangerous, for the oceanic currents are so strong that pull any ship to the edge and fall to the Mabolàs with no remedy, the fate of its sailors remaining ignored to us. The peoples that live near the edge of the world speak of fogs and shimmering veils slithering in the sky, and that is nothing but flocks of those fogs and mists that escape the bottom and ascend, and this is how we can admire them in the boreal end of the world, not the southernmost ends, since the air is hotter there and doesn't allow such wonder. When the sea waters pour, fall into the mist and are evaporated, then they ascend as steam, forming the shimmering veils, and finally they are condensed into the clouds that bring rain.
The Sun, is well known, has a circular trajectory that makes it rise on the east and set on the west. When Armall doesn't run through the sky it does so under the cauldron. Thus, when it disappears behind the horizon, it passes through the mists and reaches the lower part of the world, this is the cauldron's rear, and passes so close to it that heats it in excess with its flames, which makes the material inside the cauldron to melt and evaporate, ascending through subterranean clefts and cracks also created by Armall's heat. There are moments when this melted material reaches the surface through steamy fractures and mountains of fire. And this is how new lands are made and the old ones, constantly eroded by the waters and the winds, are expanded and rejuvenated. And the same happens to the waters, since their cycle is eternal.
Above the fogs we find the Inner Skies, which are full of the warm air we breathe, but as one goes up it reaches the Outer Skies, which are composed of a less dense and much colder air, and this can be easily demonstrated if one ascends a tall mountain, because in the top it is harder to breathe for a mortal being, although the Maires and the Tartagirans don't mind such technicalities. All that space is impregnated with the luminaries that fill the night sky. These luminaries are nothing but other, far distant, suns, as Gam Tinoc, the Wise Father, explained to our ancestors that populated the world for the first time. And most of these suns also run in a circular trajectory around cauldrons not very different from our own. And what ties all the cauldrons in the Cosmos together is the mist that bathes the outer sides of our cauldron, although the other ones are unpopulated.
The Skies of Taura
The Outer Skies
are the farthest part of Taura's breathable sea, this is the domain of Air, one of the five elements. There we find Armall1
, the sun, and Nyare2
, the moon, accompanied by all the stars in the firmament, both the fixed and the erratic ones. There are no living beings up there except for the Tenilese3
, sailing the skies in their silver ships that are as large as cities. They also reach the Inner Skies, with their ships, because they're great airgonauts, this is sky-sailors, and their nature is more elevated than ours.
The Inner Skies
are just below the Outer Skies and above us, and they're made of the breathable substance we call humid air as described above. There the flying beings live, the birds and the flying insects we know well. If one could fly like birds do we would realize how the humid breathable air goes colder and drier until it becomes completely unbreathable for a human. It's in the high altitudes where air is so cold and dry where sky ice is formed, which is nothing but vitrifed air. Then this ice may fall back to us because of the heavier nature of vitrified cold air, and this is how hailstorms are created.
The lands and the seas of Taura
Taura is shaped like a circle truncated into three levels, two of them being flat and horizontal, and the other arranged vertically, which we call Hung Taura. The upper level is called Upper Taura
, and there we find the main lands, with the Amberais4
, Amaida's peak, at the very center and, around it, the lands we call Bredezhanya
is found entirely in that level, on the northwestern quarter, and is washed by the waters of the Gagantean Sea6
, to the west, which Elns call the Bitter Waters, and the Megadelanean Sea7
, to the south, separating it from Armasca, and the Narrow Seas, to the east, its natural border with Erane. South of Eurede we find Armasca8
, the burnt land with the great Mazaghi
desert. This landmass spreads to Lower Taura, and all the land that is arranged vertically, this is in Hung Taura, is desertic because the waters easily slip to the lower level, drying the whole land. A similar thing happens to Erane9
, the eastern landmass, with the green and humid regions in Upper and Lower Taura but the driest areas in the terrible rock wall that is Hung Taura.
is sandy in Armasca and Besarea, but it's rocky and anfractuous in most of Erane. In the northwestern quarter the waters of the Gagantean Sea fall in a large cascade, and other two cascades fall into Lower Taura in the Sea of Reeds
, which separates Armasca from Besarea, and the Sea of Pearls
, between Besarea and the regions of Parfonia and Artabra. Despite Hung Taura's nature the lands there can be inhabited and populated, although sparsely because of its dryness. That truncation in the world is what explains what we call horizon, the Great Cornice
is made of lands and seas little explored by our sailors because of the precariousness of sailing in the vertical seas. The safest way to reach Lower Taura is by land, although travels take months and are arduous. Is the water in those latitudes that falls into the void where the mists roam, and little is known about them except for what we have mentioned in the beginning. All the lands there are surrounded by bitter waters, and they fall into the Sea of Clouds in one gigantic waterfall.
That waterfall is the end of the world of the living beigns, and below them there is the world of the dead, the Underworld.
is the Underworld, the "World Within the World" that Agave11
built as a place of dwelling and transit for souls in their final way to the afterlife. The travel through the Underworld represents to the deceased a last test before reaching the afterlife.
The Istredanc is located below the world of the living, at an undisclosed depth and occupying an area of indeterminate extent. It's shaped like a flattened torus, and in its center a large abysm of light and darkness revolves at high speed forming a vortex. The souls that arrive at the Istredanc do so on the outer limit, and then they must reach the Abysm to reach the Afterlife, Agave's realm.
Note that Taura's Underworld is not the same as the Antre
, the subterranean dwelling built by the Demons in the iced boreal lands, the extreme north of the world. The Hellesan adjective for everything related to the Underworld is tècnid
"chthonic" or "telluric".
Regions of the Underworld
The torus can be divided into three main zones: the Outer Region (the Sea of the Souls and the outer slopes of the Shadow Mountains), the Middle Region (the inner slopes of the Shadow Mountains, with its piedmont) and the Inner Region (the Silvering Fields). These regions have minor regions as well.
The Outer Region
"sea of the souls" is a large sea of dark and deep waters that constituted the outer edge of the Underworld. Its waters are calm, without currents, and they only move, very softly, along the rocky beaches of the Middle Region. Above the sea there's always a blanket of stormy clouds that in its farthest extreme bends and falls toward the horizon, closing the outer edge of the Underworld, and not allowing any sight of what lies beyond if there's anything to be seen, while on the other side the sea of clouds reaches the peaks of the Shadow Mountains. From this cloud blanket a thin rain falls incessantly, accompanying the souls that arrive to the Underworld. The souls, therefore, are left in this sea, very close to the cloudy edge, where mists and fogs cover the waters. Once there the souls must swim to the nearest shore. Those who fail at it, those who lack enough spirit and determination to reach the shore, sink into the sea to not be seen again.
"Sea of Clouds" is the clouded extension that engulfs the whole Underworld along its outer edge and covers the skies above the Sea of Souls, reaching the Mountains of Shadows' peaks. The upper area of this sea of clouds is what can be seen if one can reach the edge of Lower Taura and look downwards.
"Forests of Rest" are the chain of islands around the main emerged land. This is the only zone in the whole Underworld covered in trees, which gives to these island a more pleasurable view than any other area. Despite that when the souls reach their rocky shores they can grasp the sinister looks of the islands, covered in tall trees with trunks as thick as a house and blueish leafy treetops. This is a dangerous land since it's inhabited by tormented souls; it's there where they try to find some rest and the necessary peace to purge what torments them and continue, if possible, they travel towards the Afterlife.
"Mountains of the Shadow" are the border between the Underworld's outer and middle regions. It's a large masiff shaped like a ring and with abrupt and anfractuous slopes. Its name is not only a reference to its dark colouration but also its appearance which, far from having the appearance of stone, it rather reminds of solidified smoke. The Halmescle washes its outer slopes' shores, a broken and rocky coast, with many islands and coves. Is on these shores that the souls arrive after overcomming the sea transit. Once there they must ascend through chaotic escarpments of large rocks and screes until they reach the Styrian Gates.
The Ferres Estíries16
"Styrian Gates" are the many entrances open throughout the outer slopes of the Shadow Mountains that give access to a net of tunnels that cross the mountains to the other side. The journey through the tunnels can be long and miserable, since the galleries and subterranean halls are many, labyrinthine and with plenty of dead ends. The souls that aren't enough ready for such journey could get lost indefinitely, delaying their travel to the Afterlife.
"Broken Chaos" or "Chaotic Cracks" is a region in the Mountains of Shadow's outer slopes placed just above the scree zone and almost reaching the peaks of the mountains. The souls without the necessary knowledge to find the Styrian Gates can reach this region, and if they don't know how to go back they are petrified, increasing the number of rocks in that part of the Underworld. A few cracks in Traxe descend very deep to a large cavern built by Agave as suggested by Gam Tinoc back in the preterite days, before Taura was definitely polished and the living creatures were birthed. This place, Megall nas Traxe18
, became, much time later, Gam Tinoc's prison when he was found guilty of creating humankind, and some time after it was also used as a prison for the Vallagonar that didn't surrender after the Fourth Taurid War.
The Middle Region
"Valley of Waiting" is a region in the inner slopes of the Mountains of Shadow, on the masiff's piedmont and above the Silvering Fields. It consists on an annular narrow valley that lies separated from the Silvering Fields by a chain of soft hills, also shaped like a ring. The center of the valley is crossed by a river or canal without beginning nor end whose waters run in any direction and can be used to travel along this region. On both shores of this current there are the suave slopes of the valley, populated by the souls that, having traversed the Styrian Gates and the subterranean galleries, choose to remain in the Underworld. Its residents, known as Remainders
, have there a sojourn similar to the life they enjoyed while alive, although it's more anodyne, without feeling joy or sadness. If Lingerers are ready enough can hold some contact with the world of the living ones thanks to the Steep Steps.
The Tormalhatze Gantiandh
"Steep Steps" is a labyrinth of steps carved on the stone that ascend through Valley of Waiting to the peaks of the Mountains of Shadows. This is the only way that connects the Underworld with the world of the living ones, and it's used by Lingerers that want to manifest themselves in the our reality. We can access the Underworld through these steps as well, but only the upper section, the one leading to the Houses of Reunion. The upper treads of the Steep Steps enter the Mabolàs, the Sea of Clouds, giving access to the Outer World through caves and crevasses on earth's surface.
The Teules na Laronsatge
"Houses of Reunion" are found on the inner slopes of the Mountains of Shadow, very close to their peaks, among the clouded blanket, reason why this region is always full of fogs that forbids to see whoever goes there. The houses are the places where the Dead Ones and the Living Ones can meet again as an exception not accessible to everyone.
The Inner Region
The Patlles Arlentàvies
"Silvering Fields" is the large and wide annular grassy prairie lying between the Mountains of Shadow and the Well of Souls. The plains, therefore, encircle the Abysm, the Well of Souls, and are named 'silvering' for the silver tall grass that grows there. Once a soul arrives there there's only one last step to reach the Afterlife: the souls must cross the prairies to the Abysm, around which the Underworld revolves. In this traverse the souls will find ambivalent beings of monstruous appearance that will come to them and pose questions about their lives The questions may be direct or ambiguous, sometimes rude, sometimes enigmatic, and always with various intentions: from to frighten the soul, forcing it to go back, to bedevil it so it gets lost and is forced to wander until it finds the necessary answers. The souls that are valiant enough or already have the answers will reach, finally, to the edge of the Abysm.
"Abysm" is the void by the inner edge of the Underworld. In the narrow sense the Abysm is not part of the Underworld, that is, the torus-shaped reality for souls transiting to the Afterlife, since it's a void of indefinite extent where neither space nor time exist. Its limit with the Silvering Prairies is named Lamas
, and represents the terminal point of the souls' travel through the Underworld. Ancient sources describe the Abysm as a large pillar of white light when seen from the Underworld's inner lands, but it becomes a bottomless dark well when looks donwards its border. On the other hand, if one looks upwards the Abysm will be perceived as an ascending tunnel of light. The Abyss, actually, doesn't have a top nor bottom, since when souls enter it they fall upwards, through the tunnel of light, reaching the Afterlife, or they irremediably fall downwards, through the dark well, being decomposed as the well goes narrower, tightening like an funnel, until they are returned to the primordial state of everything that exists, feeding the eternal cosmic cycle.
From Elnian Armail
, ancient Armalien, Armailen
, archaic Arbmelen
, from ARP
– "high, upper, superior" + melen
"sky", meaning "king of the sky".2.
The Hellesan word for "moon", from Peran Niare
"the Moon", the moon goddess, from miniare
"moon", from Sate MI-NE-RE
, from Elnian Theonilith
, from Mintani Dinilim
, the Primicerians that worked in the skies of Taura, sailing in their large ships, whose lords where The Twelve or Maires, the twelve gods of Taura, of the same species or angelic nature.4.
The highest peak in the Amaida massif, which in prehistoric times was part of the Greater Lakes region and after the Great Water became the central massif of Amarodi, the largest of the Hellesan archipelago's islands. In Elnian the name is Earalm
"the Grand Sleeper", both the name of the massif and the peak.5.
From Elnian Eurenme
, from Ancient Elnian Euremtemre
(interpreted as "wide night"), from Paleoelnic ereb
– "wide" (although it also means "sun") + tamar
Ancient Elnians named the Gagantean Sea Resech Breis
"Bitter Waters". The name gagantean
is a reference to the Gagants
, the mythological giants descended from the Tenilese that roamed Taura. The name thus means "giant/gigantic sea". Not that Perans and other archaic peoples didn't have separate words for the concepts of "sea" and "ocean".7.
The name given to the sea that resulted from the flooding of the Great Lakes region after the Great Water8.
Another name taken from Elnian, Armhasach
, this one meaning "savannas of the sun", from Ancient Elnian Arbmelen
"the Sun" + chuahsachi
From Elnian Erennedd
"east, levant", from the older Erebned
, from Paleoelnic ereb
– "sun" + nedd
The name is Hellesan, from Peran Insredaknas
, from insre
– "inferior, lower" + daknas
Agave is one of The Twelve, the Maires, the gods of Taura. The name ultimately comes from Mintani Aghagnahë
"giver of the gift", a reference to the role Men and Dwarves attributed to her as an assurer of the gift of mortality. The name was adapted into Agagbe
in Ancient Dwarvish and passed through Hellesan as Àgave
. According to the common knowledge Agave is the Ruler of the Afterlife, although she built the Underworld, which is administered by Istregai, the Underworld Hound.12.
From Peran Halmezdkolu
, taken indirectly from Malberan Tlolmezzhoneuho
, from Mintani Hlalmezünåghar
"Sea of the Souls".13.
From Peran Mapulasu
"sea of cloud".14.
From Ancient Peran Taumars Sartoras
"forests of rest".15.
From Peran Adulmarais
"shadowy mountains" or "shadow heights".16.
The name is Hellesan. Estíries
is anglicized as Styrian
because the name comes from Elnian ystyr
From Peran traksaru
, variant of tarktaru
"chaos", both related to traktu
"fracture". So it's possible that the original Peran name, and even Sate, only meant "the fractures".18.
Some legends tell how Gam Tinoc, foreseeing his need of a reclusive dwelling, suggested Agave to built the cave while she was creating the Underworld. Ironically the first known use of the place was as Gam Tinoc's prison after The Twelve considered him guilty of creating humankind, although some clues suggest that Gam Tinoc already made use of the cavern while forging the race of Dwarves, and that he and Niari pacted to condemn him to the Traxe so he could keep doing his stuff alone and free from undesired eyes.19.
From Ancient Peran Nobure Domilie
"valley of the waiting".