The Cosmos is an enigma… unimaginably vast, eternally cold, and silent.
It is full of beauty, darkness, and forces terrifying in their violence.
What is the Cosmos?
How did it come to be?
Does it have a purpose, and what is our place within it?
We are used to lifting our eyes to the stars and seeing only questions. The answers are out there waiting to be discovered…
Welcome to the fantasy world of Graëlfire and Graëlstorm:
The Cosmos is the multi-dimensional sum of Creation, comprising:
Kairos: The beating heart of the Cosmos. Described by Raphaël Proctor as a sea of latent Graëlfire and by Gideon Drude as the primordial soup from which Creation springs. It is the seat of the Cosmic Will.
Cosmic Will: The formless sapient force from which all Creation originates.
Graëlfire: The primordial cosmic force created by the Cosmic Will. It is the source of all creation and the origin of all matter and energy. As well as creating the fabric of the Cosmos, Graëlfire is the spark that ignites life and is the vital force animating all living beings.
Karisma: The vehicle through which the Cosmic Will evolves its awareness. The Cosmic Will manifests karisma into Kairos, from where it enters the Labyrinth to be carried along within the flux of Graëlfire.
Karisma permeates universes when Graëlfire in the Labyrinth seeps into them through rifts. When immanent in the physical realm, karisma is drawn to consciousness, self-awareness, reason and imagination, but it only takes root in the souls of receptive mortal species. What characteristics or conditions permit some species to host karisma is unknown, but their number is infinitesimally small, and the presence of moral judgment is universal among them. Karisma may be ensouled through countless incarnations, observing and experiencing the physical realm until it ascends to the celestial realm. From there it finds its way back through the Labyrinth to Kairos, where the Cosmic Will reabsorbs it. This completes a process known as the Great Cycle. Karisma is a witness. Unlike a soul, it has no personality or character.
The physical realm: Countless universes with myriad dimensions created by discharges of Graëlfire from Kairos. Universes are finite bubbles of space and time. Some contain matter and energy, others only energy.
The celestial realm: A hidden plane of existence that transcends physical space-time. It is the home of incorporeal beings called Aëons.
Nexus: A liminal no man’s land on the border between the physical and celestial realms. The Arkheïa create their hölige retreats here.
Labyrinth: A maze of supra-dimensional space isolated from the physical and celestial realms. With Kairos at its centre, the Labyrinth’s branching arteries traverse all dimensions of Creation, moving Graëlfire around the Cosmos. It is accessed via rifts and can be used to travel between universes. The Labyrinth is the domain of the Arkheïa, Lord Angelo.
Graëlflux: The flow of Graëlfire circulating through the Labyrinth. It has daily ebb and flow, and a twelve-year wax-and-wane cycle. At the height of its waxing phase and during random flares, the strength of graëlflux can make the Labyrinth too dangerous to travel for months on end.
Rifts: Bridges across the Sunder that connect the physical realm to the Labyrinth. They open and close spontaneously and are invisible to humans. Graëlheem usually enter the Labyrinth by activating dormant rifts. Although they can open new rifts, doing so depletes their Graëlfire reserves.
Sunder: a vacuous dimension of the physical realm that sheathes all universes, sealing them off from the Labyrinth and each other. A liminal limbo, the Sunder stands outside space-time. Rifts that collapse before connecting to the Labyrinth empty into it. The Sunder is the abode of predatory rift-ghasts.
Elyzia: Home world of the Graëlheem breed of Elyzian and headquarters of the known Arkheïa in the physical realm. Located in a different universe than Earth’s, it is the domain of the Arkheïa, Lady Celestine.
Asfödel: Domain of the Arkheïa, Lord Luther a.k.a The Gatherer of Souls. A pocket dimension, it stands at the gates of the Nexus. Asfödel is the destination of karisma-bearing souls in the afterlife, and the place where karisma abandons its soul host.
Hölige: Pocket dimensions within the Nexus created by the Arkheïa as private ‘safe haven’ retreats to mitigate corruption of their celestial essence by the physical realm. Four sanctums are known of, though there may be others:
- Höligënge: sanctum of Lady Celestine
- Hölighällir: sanctum of Lady Celestine
- Höligtürn: sanctum of Lord Luther on Asfödel
- Höligbök: sanctum of Lord Angelo
Graëlstones: Colloquially also called Graëls—the rarest matter in the Cosmos. Graëlstones are particles of Graëlfire forged during a big bang when universes are created. Objects of great power, they tap into and channel Graëlfire. They also receive and transmit telepathic waves. As well as being used as a weapon, Graëlstones are used by Graëlheem to open rifts into the Labyrinth. The Arkheïa employ them to implant ideas in weaker, mortal minds, to influence the development and affairs of karisma-bearing species.
Aëons: Near-omnipotent, incorporeal, celestial beings composed of pure karisma. They are direct emanations of the Cosmic Will and are spawned by it to oversee Creation. Belonging to the celestial realm, they are the highest authority in Creation. How many exist and how they are organized is unknown. The only Aëon who has ever revealed herself in the physical realm is Sophia.
Arkheïa: Embodiment in the physical realm of a lesser order of celestial beings. Arkheïa are emanated by Sophia to be guardians of mortal karisma-bearing species and preservers of the Great Cycle. As celestial beings incarnate in a physical body, Arkheïa are powerful liminaires. They exist betwixt and between the physical and celestial realms, belonging fully to neither one nor the other. Their dual nature is both a strength and weakness. Whilst wielding god-like powers, they are corrupted and weakened by long contact with the physical realm. Although bound to the physical realm, they cannot linger in it for long and must retreat to their hölige sanctums to cleanse and renew their strength.
The Arkheia have been worshipped as deities by mortals all across the cosmos, sometimes individually and sometimes as a group. That was in the days when they walked openly among karisma races as living gods.
Three original Arkheïa are known: Lady Celestine, Lord Luther, and Lord Angelo. All are the emanations of the Aëon, Sophia. Lord Kalix is her latest, additional emanation. How many others exist or have existed is unclear. It is possible that additional Arkheïa are guardians of other dimensions. Arkheïa are supposed to act as one; however, Angelo exceeded his mandate by seeking to put himself above Luther and Celestine.
One Will: The dogma that Arkheïa speak and act with one mind and that one Arkheïa speaks for all.
Sigil: A geometric design of interlocking concentric circles representing the multiverse. It is the insignia of the Arkheïa and worn by them as a ring. Graëlheem wear the sigil as an amulet attached to a chain around their neck.
Graëlheem: Long-lived but mortal human-like species genetically engineered by the Arkheïa from Elyzia’s indigenous race, the Vorgänger. Graëlheem clans stock the ranks of Chosen. There are four clans of Graelheem: the Proctors, the Kemps, the Drudes, and the Reeves. A fifth clan is extinct.
Graëlheem possess telepathic powers enabling them to manipulate Graëlfire through the medium of Graëlstones. They can harness Graëlfire as a weapon or channel it into a protective force field. Though they cannot read thoughts, they are able to project their own into the minds of others—a phenomenon known as mind speech. Graëlheem can extend their awareness outside their physical bodies by projecting their corona or releasing their soul as a semblant. A Graëlhim’s superpowers are inherited through mitochondrial genes passed down from their mother.
Graëlheem society is matriarchal. Within the clans, female members have higher status and serve as leaders. Should a man enter into a partnership with a woman outside his clan, he goes to live with her and adopts her clan name. Every child belongs exclusively to their mother’s clan and assumes its name from birth.
Chosen: The paramilitary corps of Graëlheem selected to serve as agents and messengers of the Arkheïa. Chosen travel between universes through the Labyrinth to do the Arkheïa’s bidding and are bound to the Arkheïa by covenants of loyalty, celibacy, and absolute obedience. There is gender equality within the Chosen’s ranks.
Vöi: The pride in clan and kinship that burns within all Graëlheem hearts.
Vätkà: A Chosen’s motivation to be a guardian of karisma. This ‘higher purpose’ of serving the Cosmic Will gives their lives reason and meaning.
Drudes: Graëlheem clan that governs one of the two southern prairie fiefs of Elyzia. Their emblem is the garvan, a raven-like bird.
Proctors: Graëlheem governors of Elyzia’s remaining prairie fief. Their emblem is the vöki, a prairie hawk.
Reeves: Graëlheem clan that governs the eastern Archipelago fief in the Inland sea. Their emblem is the haifish, a shark-like, sawtooth marine predator.
Kemps: Graëlheem clan governing the mountainous fief in the North of Elyzia. Their embelm is the ulfür, a mountain cat-like creature.
Corona: An aura-like exosense that, when projected, feeds impressions of aspects of the outside world invisible to the physical senses. These impressions are received and processed by the subconscious mind of a Graëlhim or Arkheïa. Coronas are invisible to human eyes unless charged by Graëlfire.
Semblant: A manifestation of a Graelhim’s soul which Graëlheem can temporarily will outside their physical bodies to conduct remote viewing reconnaissance, or to travel beyond the physical realm to the Arkheïa’s private hölige sanctums. Rift-ghasts can briefly project a semblant outside of the Sunder in order to feed on the Graëlfire within mortals.
Graëlgarth: Headquarters and barracks of the Chosen. The principal graëlgarth is in Celestina, the capital city of Elyzia. Other graëlgarths are located in the regional capitals of Elyzia’s five fiefs.
Soul: The evolving self-consciousness of a sapient, mortal being. Only souls of karisma-bearing species survive death, and then only temporarily.
Greyling: The soul of a mortal karisma-bearing being after it has been abandoned by its karisma in the forests of Asfödel. Greylings waste away to oblivion within weeks.
Rift-ghast: A predatory ghoul created when a mortal karisma-being is caught in a collapsing rift. Marooned in the Sunder and still bearing their karisma, they project wraith-like semblants through rifts into the physical realm to feed off the Graëlfire within living creatures. Described by Lena Dubois as being like Eskimos fishing around an ice hole.
Vorgänger: The indigenous, humanoid, karisma-bearing species of Elyzia. One of their tribes, the Kaspars, is a mandarin-like class that serves as the Arkheïa’s functionaries. Though not Graëlheem, the General in command of the Chosen is appointed by the Arkheïa from the Kaspar clan.
Liminaires: Any being that exists in a liminal condition—a phase of in-betweenness on the cusp of two states of existence. Liminal conditions can be physical, temporal, or psychological.
Liminal stages may induce altered states of consciousness in those entering them. They have the potential to release psychic forces that are catalysts for metamorphosis, transformation, or transmutation.
Liminal conditions of mortals are temporary, but Arkheïa exist in a permanent liminal state.