The Aetheric Sea Geographic Location in THE ASCENSION CHRONICLES | World Anvil

The Aetheric Sea

The Aetheric Sea, sometimes known as the Void or the Dark Between, is a mysterious pocket dimension which operates on different fundamental laws. It is the source of magic throughout the solar-system, the origin place of numerous creatures and is used as a means of swift travel from certain points across Sol.


Lore and History


The Aetheric Sea was discovered around 2348 by a group of scientists operating in the Bell-Zhandar Habitat on the outer edges of the Asteroid Belt within the inner-system. Quite how they found it is lost to history or why this secretive enclave of researchers was searching for it in the first time. When one considers though the amount of secrecy and lack of information surrounding the Bell-Zhandar Habitat this is hardly surprising.

What is known for certain is that this discovery would have far reaching ramifications for humanity going forward. The Aetheric Sea, as it came to be called by a scientist with a flare for the dramatic, was a vast expanse of roiling clouds, and continent sized rocks and celestial objects that emitted heat and light yet were not stars. It had its own lifeforms including megafauna; titanic beasts whose size eclipsed anything found on Earth by many orders of magnitude. It was a new frontier, albeit a dangerous and unpredictable one.

The lack of historical records regarding the first experiments and forays into this new reality continues for the next few years. Bell-Zhandar became completely isolated from the ever expanding human frontier. Attempts at contact were ignored and any ships who approached it were warned to retreat lest they be fired upon. Those curious enough would scan the habitat and dispatch stealth probes in the hope of discerning something, anything, that was going on. All they found was that the habitat was growing larger and larger and seemed to have had strange new additions added to it; components no military or scientific experts could discern the purpose of. All they knew was that the habitat was already double its original size, and was growing bigger.

Ultimately, the enigma of Bell-Zhandar would grow less enticing. Humanity continued to spread out into the solar-system during a period of technological leaps and bounds. During this time extensive genetic engineering and technological augmentation would see the rise of new strains of humans, allowing for even more expansion into the outer system with its hostile gas-giants, far from the life giving star at the center.

Then one day late in the waning days of December 2405, Bell-Zhandar disappeared. Its sudden and inexplicable disappearance was marked by a tremendous power surge of unknown energy. No debris was found and scans could not find it anywhere else across the system. It had simply vanished.


The Return of Bell-Zhandar and the Rise of The Mesitori Empire

In the year 2580 strange energy signatures were picked up emanating from area the long forgotten Bell-Zhandar Habitat had dwelt. The Earth Mars Republic despatched a recon ship to investigate and the vessel arrived just in time for the sudden return of Bell-Zhandar Habitat, emerging from a tear in the fabric of reality.

The habitat was vastly transformed. Far, far larger in size it now massed the same as Earth's moon; an immense construction of spires and domes whose design was quite alien to anything created by humans at the time. Ships of that same strange nearly organic design motif poured from the habitat along with huge alien creatures with structures upon them.

The EMR recon ship recorded everything it saw and relayed back to the naval base at Mars. And then came a transmission from Bell-Zhandar, broadcast across the solar-system.

It revealed a figure in ornate garb standing at the base of a raised dais upon which sat a throne of pulsing black rock. Upon that throne was a figure sat in brooding silence, observing. The figure was human, though pale skinned and with the top half of its head hidden by a black helmet. Flanking the raised raised dais were ornately armoured guards wielding formidable looking halberds.

"Denizens of Sol, our fellow humans. Greetings," the figure in the half-helmet said in a smooth and calm voice. "We of Bel'Zanar have returned to you at last. We are the Mesitori and we bring knowledge and promise great things to our brethren. The Emperor Ascendant will lead humanity into a glorious new Golden Age."

So began the rapid rise of the Mesitorian Empire, a power that had grown in an alien realm and had now returned to the solar-system with technology and powers far beyond anything the rest of humanity had to offer. Bell-Zhandar was no more. Now it was Bel'Zanar, the heart of a new empire that would rapidly conquer the inner system and spread outward to the Kuiper Belt, reigning as the dominant and unifying power of humanity until its sudden and inexplicable fall three and a half centuries later when the Empire turned itself, splintering into factions in a devastating civil war that culminated with the second sudden disappearance of Bel'Zanar.

The rise and fall of the Mesitori Empire is delved into with more detail elsewhere. Yet even with the decline of the Mesitori Empire the Aetheric Sea was still remain an important part of the solar-system and humanity itself and its impact cannot be understated.


Of Travel and Magic

Sailing the Aetheric Sea

The Mesitori Empire used the Aetheric Sea to travel swiftly, entering into it in real-space and travelling within it only to remerge back into real-space. This allowed their ships to traverse great distances in a far quicker time than regular fusion drives could achieve and they were very protective of the technology that allowed them to do it. At the height of their Empire none but their vessels were allowed access to the Sea and they were ruthless in enforcing this edict. Hardly surprising considering the tactical advantage it gave them over the conquered solar-system.

Only the Mesitori seemed capable of travelling it in relative safety, having some sort of way or bond with the myriad threats within its roiling cloudy depths such as the immense Void-Dragons and Krakens and the myriad smaller but no less dangerous menaces. The Mesitori established outposts and even colonies within the Sea and used the creatures there as slaves, soldiers and living weapons in the case of the larger specimens.

When their Empire fell attempts were made to salvage the technology to enter and traverse the Sea, yet when attempts were made they ended disastrously. Without the Mesitori, the Sea seemed to grow even more wild and dangerous. Only the mysterious Conclave whose great Arks travelled the Sea regularly were able to enter it and come out safely. And naturally the Conclave used this to their advantage; they offered safe travel onboard the Arks and remained independent throughout the chaos that followed the Mesitorian Empire's collapse in exchange for extortionate payement. They remain, to this day nearly five centuries later, the only regular sailors within the Sea. Occasionally someone will attempt to traverse the Sea in their own vessel, and very rarely will such foolhardy individuals return.

The Growth and Spread of Magic

The Mesitorian Empire used magic along with its technology, somehow able to harness the strange power of the Sea to channel destructive magics upon the enemies of the Empire and achieve works that would not have been impossible without it. The Mesitori called it Aether Energy. Most non-Mesitori called it magic. The Mesitori employed Battle-Mystics in their armies and most feared were the Obsidian Sisterhood, an all-female order of Witches who seemed to serve as a special group under the direct command of the Emperor Ascendant Himself. This magic, along with their mastery of the Aetheric Sea, ensured Mesitorian dominance for centuries.

Yet when the Empire fell magic still permeated across the solar-system, an inextricable link between our reality and the Aetheric Sea beyond. During the time of the Empire the Mesitori kept a watch out for those who could harness magic, claiming that in the wrong hands magic was dangerous and could lead to catastrophe if its use was left unchecked. Some found service in the Mesitorian legions. Others were never seen again prompting dark rumours of their fates.

Without the Empire those who can harness magic have increased in number. These mystics are dangers to themselves and those around them. Few nations have the means to control them though the Tellandric Empire and Sadaan Caliphate do seek out potential magic users in their populace and sequester them, seeking to create their own magic users for work in military and intelligence purposes. Those that do not learn to control their powers are prone to madness and unleash destruction on horrific levels before they are taken down.

The Aetheric Sea permeates the solar system. It allowed creatures from outside to gain entry into real space and strange cults devoted to alien entities proliferated. The Mesitori may have been the most extreme example of the changes that long term exposure to the Aetheric Sea wrought yet they are certainly not the only ones. Exposure to the Aetheric Sea changed humanity as a whole, opening its collective eyes to a cosmos far bigger and stranger than previously thought.



In the centuries since the fall of the Mesitorian Empire there have been increasing reports of regions of real-space where the Aetheric Sea has breached, forming areas where the denizens of one may pass into the other. Humans in close proximity to these areas have a heightened chance of developing uncontrollable physical mutations and mystic abilities. Any attempts to seal these rifts or Incursions as they have been called have thus far failed and a great many exist that have gone undocumented, a growing danger to all nearby. The ones that are reported are cordoned off and declared off-limits.

As time passes these Incursions grow stronger and more secure and may expand further


Denizens of the Sea

There exist in the Aetheric Sea numerous forms of life, sentient and otherwise. The Void Dragons and Krakens and other megafauna are the most well known, as are the far smaller Hunarak; winged creatures that resemble devils of old Earth myth. The Hunarak were used for a variety of purposes by the Mesitori, including in void engagements thanks to their ability to fly through the vacuum of space. Unless controlled by a mystic, Hunarak will attack humans on sight. Hunarak remain in real-space to this day, menaces who are solitary hunters or flocks of killers residing in space ship grave yards and abandoned space stations and habitats.

There are also the mysterious Others; a catch all term for powerful esoteric entities with a wide range of abilities. They could be equated with any number of old Earth myth such as Djinns, Demons, Angels, Devils and the like. Some have dwelt amongst humans for centuries, perhaps long before the Aetheric Sea was discovered. They can take on any shape and their goals are utterly unknowable. Like humans they can be capricious. Some benevolent, others monstrous. It is impossible to say how many reside in real space.

From whence the Others come from is another mystery with little hope of resolution. That there are worlds within the Sea is documented, but if the Mesitori ever explored them is unknown and if they kept any records they were lost when Bel'Zanar disappeared.


Phantom Ships

The Conclave operated Arks, as well as the rare few sailors who have braved the Sea themselves, have reported sightings of mysterious ships within the Aether. These ships bear no recognisable configurations or markings and disappear into the clouds after being spotted. So far there have very few encounters, yet one must wonder what the origin and purpose of these vessels is or what their capabilities are.


The Dark Heart

Mystics across the Solar system all claim to have dreamed at least once of a dark and nightmarish world somewhere in the Aetheric Sea. A baleful orb radiating hatred and malice. Some mystics, driven mad by their heightened awareness and magical ability, scream that the Hollow One is watching them and he is after their souls. That He sits upon a throne of bones in a tower rising from a plain where monsters and madman kill and maim one another in his name. They say this world is the Dark Heart and the Hollow is coming.

Whilst it is easy to dismiss the ramblings of one lone madman, it is rather more difficult when numerous mystics report the same vision.

Dimensional, Pocket


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Dec 28, 2023 23:28 by sebastian

Great article! Love the section on phantom ships.

Aotra awaits.
Dec 29, 2023 09:21

Thanks. I'm hoping this will be a good base to build the rest of the setting from