Hael, Realm of the Dead

Beyond death lies the realm of Hael. A land of wandering spirits, presided over by Van-Hael, the God of Death.

Thousands of years ago, before Van-Hael was tasked with watching over the realm, it didn’t have a common name by which the people referred to it. The beastfolk munseyre called it ‘Toghaernas Falhun’ which, when translated into human languages, means ‘completed journey’. Some beastfolk kryn still refer to Hael as Taghaernas Falhun today, though these kryn tend to be more reserved and traditional.

Daelin courts had a handful of different names. They were often interchangeable and a court would use whatever name they fancied most. As these names were relevant before a veil was raised between Ma’rune and Hael, most of them were merely descriptors of what the realm looked like from a living perspective. Historical records state that the most common variations were ‘Blue Fire Valley’ - named because of the pale, blue hue to the spirits and their consistent flickering in and out of sight - and ‘The Lost One’s Shadow’ - named more for the dark colours of the land itself, painted in shades of grey.

Humans feared the realm beyond and would refer to the realm by names that would imbue a sense of warning or dread into their young. The most common among these names was ‘Death’s Embrace’, with the added tale that crossing over into the realm of the dead would slowly drain your remaining years of life until you were nothing but a husk, trapped forever to walk amongst the spirits.

“And so the man turned to the child and said ‘do not cross into the embrace of death, for the shadows shall claw away at your existence. Lesser men have tried and failed to conquer a force they cannot comprehend.’

‘They become an echo of themselves. Not a spirit, for they do not shine that brilliant, phantom sapphire. For you see they lose more than just their lives; they lose their memories, their desires, their sense of being.’

‘My child the living do not belong with the dead, so if you cross into death’s embrace, a shadow you will become.’”

Owner/Ruler
Van-Hael

Hael. Rumour has it the Prince of Ghosts renamed it after himself. Did he do it to boost his ego? I mean, it can’t be easy being the only mortal-turned-god, can it?

Excerpt from an old, worn journal

Spirits Left Unchecked

Although spirits were initially sent to the realm of the dead, they were not confined to its borders. They could freely cross back over to Ma’rune with little consequence and many of them did. Soon though, the spirits realised that they were unable to truly interact with the living and became enraged, longing for a warmth they would never again feel.

The spirits began to harass the living, desperate to find ways around their fate. For some, this meant possessing living vessels and living through them.

When The Creator found out what was happening, he tried enlisting the help of the other deities, but realised that none of them could give up the duties they already had. Instead, he gifted powers to a mortal, human man - Van-Hael - whom he deemed worthy of overseeing the afterlife. But first, Van-Hael would also have to prove himself capable by rounding up the lost, vengeful spirits and leading them home.

Van-Hael did not complete this task alone. On his journey, he encountered five spirits that had wandered for years outside of the realm of the dead. These spirits, having realised their mistake of returning to Ma’rune, longed for the land of the dead once more, but they had strayed too far and gotten themselves lost. Van-Hael agreed to guide them home, but along the way they would help Van-Hael guide the other spirits as well - for they might be more inclined to listen to others who were dead than a man who could never die.

“I am Jok Vagrun. In life, I was a hunter, tasked with feeding all the mouths in the village. These are my friends: Earlan Tames, Robyn Cavaner, Lyle Morcant, and Essa Greenthorn,” the spirit says. He gestures to each of his friends in turn and as he does they offer a smile or a nod to the god before them.

“You were friends in life?” Van-Hael asks. He tilts his head, inspecting their clothes. Their translucent blue colour makes it difficult to identify any proper markings save for the wounds still oozing a sickly white liquid.

Another of the spirits - Robyn Cavaner - steps forward. “Yes. We died together defending our village from bandits.”

Van-Hael turns to look at her. Robyn’s wounds are especially gruesome - white blood pools out from sixteen arrow holes in her chest and a single hole has pierced her throat. “A noble cause to die for. It is a shame that protectors such as yourselves were subjected to such a cruel fate.”

“It happens,” Robyn says with an indifferent shrug, “but there is no point in lingering on the past now.”

Eventually, Van-Hael managed to lead most of the spirits back to the realm of the dead. There are a few that he never managed to catch and he has since tasked a select few of his followers to track them down and return them to Hael.

With his task completed Van-Hael returned to The Creator. Pleased with the work Van-Hael had done, The Creator officially bestowed the realm of the dead to Van-Hael and, as a gift, allowed him to give the realm a name that would be remembered for eternity. So from that point onwards the realm of the dead became known as Hael.

However, Van-Hael knew that the spirits would still try and pass back to Ma’rune, so he created a mist - imbued with his own magical essence - that would prevent them from doing so. It would also stop wayward mortals from trying to cross into Hael. There were bridges that would allow the spirits of those recently deceased to cross into Hael, and Van-Hael would enlist the help of the five spirits who had journeyed with him. They would become the Aspects of Hael.

Aspects of Hael

Each of the aspects guards one of the five bridges across the mist and embodies an aspect of death.

My name is Robyn Cavaner and I am the Aspect of Spirit. When Van-Hael called upon me to protect the bridge between worlds, I reluctantly accepted. I thought perhaps in death I would be at peace, but Van-Hael appealed to my sense of spirit. For we were protectors in life, so too would we be protectors in death.

My name is Essa Greenthorn and I am the Aspect of Grief. When Van-Hael called upon me to protect the bridge between worlds, I humbly accepted my duty. We must allow the living to grieve their losses. To return to Ma’rune would put an unfair burden not only on the living, but also on ourselves.

My name is Lyle Morcant and I am the Aspect of Memories. When Van-Hael called upon me to protect the bridge between worlds, I graciously accepted. Though I do not allow the long since dead or the fresh faced living to cross my bridge, I give them a moment, a glimpse of one another, in the hopes that their burdens are eased.

My name is Earlan Tames and I am the Aspect of Honour. When Van-Hael called upon me to protect the bridge between worlds, I felt honoured to be chosen. Many of the living come to my bridge to offer up tributes. I do not allow them passage, but I accept their gifts and deliver them to the people they have lost.

My name is Jok Vagrun and I am the Aspect of Time. When Van-Hael called upon me to protect the bridge between worlds, I accepted without hesitation. For all things live and all things die. It is unfair to those we leave behind to try and claim time that does not belong to us.


Cover image: The Wayfarer Book 1 Cover by SunlanceXIII

Comments

Author's Notes

This article was written for the November 2020 Flash Challenge - Afterlives


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Master Brinsmead
Caitlin Phillips
20 Nov, 2020 08:14

Wow! This is just such a powerful and unique take on the afterlife flash challenge. The Aspects of Hael was my absolute favourite section; it is just so fascinating to hear about their roles in their own voices. This is such a fabulous article!

Cait x
20 Nov, 2020 15:20

I love everything about Hael going, "Enh, my name sounds good: let's call it that." This entry is fantastic!