This week, Jacinth waxes a bit philosophical about a unique aspect of our life on the world of Asheron’s Call as he examines the nature and implications of death (and then life) on Dereth:
In all my travels in all my years, each and every civilization with whom I’ve come into contact has some belief of what happens to us when we die. It’s only natural–death is a strange and frightening thing, and it must be human nature to at least want to believe something occurs after we pass from this mortal coil. Aluvians believe that those of great merit will sit beside the legendary King Pwyll in an eternal banquet of heroes. Some Sho put stock in the idea that the material world is merely one stage of existence and that other, higher realms await those who shed their physical form. And Milanteans–well, perhaps it’s better left up to the imagination what our rather frightening neighbors in Milantos think happens to the dearly departed.
But belief is one thing, and fact is another. Here on Dereth, we know for a fact, after a fashion, what happens to those who pass on. For most of us who meet an untimely end–be it locked in heated battle with an Olthoi, losing footing on the cliffs beneath Ithaenc Cathedral, or misjudging the chances for success of an elixir brew–the Lifestones ensure that death is followed not by a journey through a lighted tunnel as some stories say, but a quick trip through portalspace. While entire religions have been based around the lasting consequences of one’s death, in Dereth those consequences amount to little more than a small loss of Vitae and the need to replace some expensive equipment.
Of course, a trip to the Lifestone is only the fate of the lucky on this world; there are other, far more dire fates that await many of the dead on Auberean. Once merely the antagonists in many a midnight tale told to frighten children, the walking undead have been proven to be very real to those who have met them in battle. Most are the remnants of the ancient races of Dericost and Falatacot; many are those who, like Leikotha or the inhabitants of Aerlinthe Island, who have been transformed against their will; and some are the unfortunate souls who were resurrected by the Lifestones, not in their original form, but as a rotting corpse. Still others also drift across the world in undeath, but in a less tangible state; those like the spectral prisoners of Lady Aerfalle or the Falatacot priestesses exist as mere shades of their former selves, unable to affect the world in a meaningful way, but unable to move on to find their eternal rest.
There are those that say that here on Dereth, death has little sting. Whether one returns to their Lifestone or becomes a walking corpse, their so-called eternal rest will likely prove rather fleeting. Perhaps this strange world of ours is asking us to change our old beliefs of death as something to be feared and hated. After all, facing the likes of Grael, the Virindi, and an unending series of battles with no warrior’s death or respite in sight, can it not be said that life, not death, is the more fearful state of existence?[/blockquot]