The Beyond

Here be dragons - and much worse.
  At the end of the world, far from Earth and the winding roads of the Shadow lies the Beyond - a realm of monsters and magic, of wonder and horror. It is a different reality, far from the mundanities of mortal life, a world of primordial magic and terrible power. In the Beyond, myth becomes flesh and blood, terrors lurk in abodes made from nightmares, and faeries hunt their prey across dark labyrinths. As far as anyone can tell, it is endless - an expanse of unearthly realms, sewn together like an ever-changing jigsaw puzzle. Continents and mountains shift like sand in the wind, and wanderers can never trust the same road twice.   Here, gods and devils hold court, ancient secrets lie waiting, and fools go to their doom seeking them.  

The World Beyond Worlds

We don't need a map where we're going.  
— Amelia Korp, Walker
  Entering the Beyond is like plunging into the dreams of a mad god. Monsters rule here, and they can shape the world around them to suit their whims. A Walker can find herself in a cavern of living flesh, an endless hedge maze, or a walking castle just as likely a run-down bar from some distant memory. Even on paths where things look sane, the Beyond doesn't play by the rules of humans, and to forget that can be fatal in short order.  
It's not to say all of the Beyond is inherently hostile to mortals - above all, it is alien, watching humans like a whale might watch a drowning ant.
 
78876 - kopia (2).jpg
by Rawpixel.com (Freepik)
Even worse, the rules always change depending on where in the Beyond you are. Step from one realm into the next, and reality is different. Some places are stable enough to function like landmarks for a Walker, while others are little more than identity-dissolving swirls of chaos.  
Despite that, some cults hold that the Beyond is a Heaven, for those who can withstand it.
  The magic that suffeses all of the Beyond doesn't care all that much about logic and reason, but is shaped by thought and emotion. Visiting mortals will never find a road measured in steps, but instead in trials and intent. Wanting to go somewhere can get you there just as much as walking.
 
Scars are jagged parts of the Beyond where different realities violently clash together and fused. Even for the Beyond, Scars are dangerous and unstable places that even gods fear to approach.
  Perhaps fortunate, reaching the Beyond is almost never easy. Walking between worlds requires a Gate and a Key, neither which are particularly easy to find when it comes to the Beyond. Most are found in the Shadow, far from where most wizards conduct business, or under heavy guard by those squatting on such prizes.   Though a few Gates lead directly from earth to the Beyond, they often require rare or terrible Keys, like alignment of stars or planets. Once there, getting out can be just as difficult.  
All easy Gates to the Beyond seem to share the same drawback of being one-way tickets.
   

Tourist's Guide to Hell

It helps to be a little crazy when going in.  
— Amelia Korp, Walker
  The Beyond is home to countless beings, from demons to self-proclaimed gods, to elemental spirits and the utterly alien. Few are friendly - many horrors nest here between incursions to the mortal plane, such as vampiric broods or the fae's Wild Hunt. It is a small favor that the more powerful being of the Beyond rarely seem to have much interest in the Prime; either finding that there is nothing for them there, or that its wonder-starved reality would leave them greatly diminished should they visit.  
Others have no such qualms, and find the concept of gates and keys to be quaint, mortal concepts unworthy of them.
 
Magic is unpredictable in the Beyond, often growing well out of its users control. There's enough energy there to power any spell imaginable, but few can manage the flood of raw power that comes with it. Knowing the rules of the local reality is crucial to casting any spell, or it doesn't even need to backfire to have disasterous effect.  
Technology is no more reliable, often functioning according to the user's most deeply held misconceptions about it.
  On the other hand, the abundance of energy makes it an ideal place for ritual, if its many dangers can be bested. Such rites are rich sources of ambition, glory, or desperation, and draw the denizens of the Beyond like moths to a flame. Still, some are willing to risk all in their pursuits, and some magic can be worked nowhere else.
78876 - kopia.jpg
by Rawpixel.com (Freepik)
  Other magi travel to the Beyond for any number of reason, from greed to knowledge. As long as there have been mages capable of going there, they've always found reasons to do so. Somewhere, in the heart of the Beyond, they hope to find the truth.
summon-4373257_1920.jpg
by Pixabay
 

Walkers

Wizards and witches who make it their calling to travel between planes and unlock their secrets are called Walkers. If there ever was a fool who would gladly head into the Beyond with little more than a vague idea and a can-do attitude, it would be them.   Why they walk between worlds varies between each Walker - power, discovery, a search for the truth, an addiction to danger; all things found in the Beyond.    
Walkers
Profession | Jul 1, 2021

Walker of Worlds, holder of keys, seeker of gates.

 

Prime

Our world - youtube, cars, shitty politicians, you know the deal. Compared to the Beyond, it's a grey and dreary world, where magic flows not in rivers but gathers in shadows and pools in places of power.   On the plus side, it has a lot fewer monsters around, unless you count the ones in suits.    
The Prime
Geographic Location | Dec 1, 2020
   

Gods of the Beyond

Though none are recognized from any mortal religion, there are creatures with enough power and influence to call themselves God in the Beyond. These entities are as much part of the Beyond as the ground and air, woven into the fabric of its reality.   The mad and desperate sometimes offer them worship, and some of these gods are developing a taste for it.  
Something of concern to certain Spooks, who like the world the way it is - easily manipulated to their needs.
   

Pacts

Pacts are binding agreements between a mortal and magic entity, offering power in exchange for... Something. Demons almost always barter for souls or pieces of them, but other spirits have different needs and alien desires.  
Rarely are they pleasant.
  To some, making a deal with a devil is worth any risk. If a god can't be summoned to the Prime, then the only choice left is to visit them. Such trips to the Beyond, guided by strong wills, tend to be especially turbulent, and test those who embark on them before they even sign the dotted line.    
Pacts
Condition | Jul 8, 2021

Making a deal with a devil, and its consequences.

Theories, Myth & Legend

Which came first - the Beyond or our capacity to imagine it?
  Any number of myths and theories swirl around the Beyond. To some, it is heaven; to others, Hell - frequently, both at the same time. Currently and besides the 'because god/s said so' argument, there are three main thoughts about exactly where the Beyond came from and how it is connected to the mortal world. Just about the only thing they agree upon is that Magic owes its existence to the Beyond. Without its shining, hideous light, the world would be cloaked in darkness.  

The Prime-First Theory

The Beyond is an amalgamation of human thought and belief. It is there because the collective consciousness of humanity willed it to be - every magician, every mundie, every soul that has ever lived and ever will have made is so.
  The Prime-First theory holds that humanity created the Beyond. They point to creatures of folklore and legend found in the Beyond as manifestations of human fears and storytelling, with a sort of humanity-first attitude to the entire thing. These are the folks who always go there thinking they can control it, or figure it out, or somehow bend it to suit their needs.  
Good luck with that.  
— Everyone else
  The changing nature of the Beyond is just another aspect of how human belief is constantly evolving. Some fringer theorists insert pseudo-religious concerns into their theory, claiming an end to the Beyond with the rise of atheism and cynicism within the mortal population.   Critics often point out that if that were true, the Beyond should be full of pop-culture icons and gods from earthly religions, both which are absent.  

The Beyond-First Theory

Prime is just a reflection of the true glories of the beyond, glanced through a grime-smeared mirror.
  The other side of the coin, the Beyond-First theory thinks that the Earth, mortals, everything around us is just a shadow cast by the Beyond. All of humanity is just an accidental by-product by something much greater and grander, and from there it isn't any great leap into forming a cult. Supporters of this theory think that human folklore and legend developed because of things that visited them from the Beyond, not because humanity first mistook a rock for a yeti.   Critics of this theory point out the ways that human thinking has undeniably changed the Beyond, as new monsters previously unseen begin to spawn within the realms there. The brutal, dreary nihilism of its supporters doesn't make them many friends, either.  

The Co-Existing Theory

Can't it be both?
  The Co-Existing theory thinks that the Prime and Beyond are connected, but independent. Monster and magic on one timeline, humanity and all its wars or wonders on another. It's a theory that is growing in popularity, while being just as impossible to prove as the other two. Supports of the other two theories accuse it of borrowing from or pandering to its opposite, or cherry-picking facts to suit a vague and meandering narrative.  
To most Magi, what matters more than its origin is the hundreds of legends that walk its surface or hide in dusty tomes. A thousand hells, a thousand wonders, a thousand ancient secrets await those who dare the Beyond.
 
visnezh - base - kopia.jpg
by Visnezh (Freepik)


Cover image: by Unsplash

Comments

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Journeyman nnie
Annie Stein
2 Jul, 2021 17:56

I loved this article. What an interesting place, and what a great read this was. Thank you so much, I can't wait to see what more you'll do for summercamp.   One line that I absolutely love was "Without its shining, hideous light, the world would be cloaked in darkness." Light is almost always presented as something beautiful or truthful, and I love the twist we get in this line.   It also feels really fitting that a realm like the beyond wouldn't just have a single potential origin, but follow the rule of three. Great work, I really enjoyed this.

3 Jul, 2021 07:53

Awh, thank you so much <3 I am glad to hear you enjoyed it! :D   No one is really sure where it came from, but that's never stopped us humans from trying to figure it out. For most peopl, it's there, and full of things to discover, that's enough :)   Thanks again for reading and commenting!

2 Jul, 2021 20:22

Wonderful as always. I especially love how you broke down the three separate theories for which came first— clever! "A thousand hells, a thousand wonders, a thousand ancient secrets." Your prose is so haunting and lovely and I like how the quotes break up the paragraphs without feeling too much.   I think in this quote though, you meant whale not while? Or at least that's how my brain autocorrected it. "It's not to say all of the Beyond is inherently hostile to mortals - above all, it is alien, watching humans like a while might watch a drowning ant."

4 Jul, 2021 07:39

Thank you so much :D   And whoops.. Yes, I fixed it! :D Thank you!

Sage eccbooks
E. Christopher Clark
2 Jul, 2021 20:48

Great stuff. I especially like the different theories, and can't decide which theory I like best. Also, "Visiting mortals will never find a road measured in steps, but instead in trials and intent" is a great line!

Don’t miss The Antagonist, my entry for The Shipwright’s Challenge!
Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
3 Jul, 2021 00:38

Ooo love the atmosphere here. They way you've written this is just awesome. It kinda draws you in. And dont get me started on the quotes. My favorite bit is the theories. I like how the different perspectives you give on just how everything is connected. Not really a place I'd wanna be, but I'd love to send a drone.

4 Jul, 2021 07:41

Thank you very much!! :D   Drones might be a problem - technology works a bit weird over there ;)

Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
3 Jul, 2021 07:50

Great article! I love how everything is quietly eerie in this world... All those people who think they can control what's going on when they are only a step away from disaster...

4 Jul, 2021 07:39

As is human nature, especially in the narrative world :D

3 Jul, 2021 08:11

Wow, this is a wonderfully bizarre place! It's fascinating how difficult it is to imagine despite the detailed descriptions, or maybe even because of them. I also enjoyed reading the contrasting viewpoints about what the Beyond is, where it came from and how people could profit from it. And the line about the pop-culture icons made me laugh - that's indeed a good argument against the Prime-First Theory! :D

creator of the Kaleidoscope System, an alien star system shaped by a colorful radiation source   SummerCamp 2021 Pledge Document
4 Jul, 2021 07:43

It is by nature a sort of impossible place, so that makes sense too! :D   Thank you so much for reading and commenting :D

4 Jul, 2021 14:43

The Beyond sounds like a realm you don't want to visit alone or unprepared, if you're smart! Fantastic article as always! <3

Am I writing or procrastinating? Take a guess and visit my galaxy
4 Jul, 2021 17:55

For sure - it is a place you want to prepare for carefully! :D   Thank you <3 :D

4 Jul, 2021 17:13

Don't you just love how cultusts can see the most scary, dangerous, unpredictable place and call it heaven?   Great read, and such a cool concept, too :) I'm curious to see what you'll write next!

Sage Rynn19
Wendy Vlemings (Rynn19)
4 Jul, 2021 17:46

What an interesting yet eerie place. I loved all the quotes, but I also enjoyed reading the theories about which came first. As always, excellent work!

Author of Ealdwyll, a fantasy world full of mystery.
5 Jul, 2021 16:31

Is it bad that I really really want to assemble a team and supplies, and go explore the Beyond?   Love all the details and descriptions of what's found out there! Particularly gods being woven into the reality of the beyond itself. I also really enjoy the Beyond first theory!   Great work Q <3


Cathedris, the world of God-husks and New Magic, welcomes you.
5 Jul, 2021 17:39

Thank you <3   And no, that's not bad.. That's the hope! :D

5 Jul, 2021 23:31

I think I'll stay in/on the Prime, please.   Really great article. I love the different theories. I'm going to put my money on the co-existing one.

6 Jul, 2021 07:00

It's a good bet! Thank you for reading and commenting <3

8 Jul, 2021 21:00

From the layout to the artwork to the prose, this is all such a magnificent article and the myth upon myth, ideas and theories woven into this was just- *chef's kiss*   I just want to know all the secrets about this now! XD


Seek out Fate in the world of Auriga!   Also, feel free to check out my Progress Report for this year's Summer Camp... AND if you want to see what I'm working on, you can check up on my Prompt Workshop space!
10 Jul, 2021 09:52

Thank you very much <3 :D   Maybe I'll add some secret reveals... Maybe! :D

12 Jul, 2021 14:25

I really like the idea that tech operates based on the user’s conceptions about it, rather than just the classic ‘it done broke because magic’.   Also, some stellar excerpts, as usual. ‘[The Prime] has a lot fewer monsters around, unless you count the ones in suits.’

Drake's Dozen | Magic and Innovation and Identity, oh my.

12 Jul, 2021 15:19

Thank you :D I was never good at going with the standard setup...

5 Aug, 2021 22:41

Fantastic article, easy to read and very interesting. I especially loved the different theories about how the beyond came to be.   Also the quote "We don't need a map where we're going." made me think of back to the future :p

Feel free to check out My Ship entry if you want to see what I am up to!