Despite the litany of Cultures and Religions spanning Aloria with their own explanations and beliefs of death and the afterlife, there lies a belief in an alternatively singular truth about the endpoint of the world’s souls: belief in a realm called Bintaar. Where Binral, the world of the mortal Races, is a plane of life, growth, and creation, its sister realm Bintaar is exactly the opposite: there, things die and decay and souls are broken down to rejoin the perpetual cycle of life and death that the connected planes undergo. It is an inverse of Binral and the world within it, like a dead reflection in a mirror. Though scholars and varying civilizations have spent ages debating the truth and nature of its existence, the signs and assorted clues of its potential presence have persisted throughout the known world for a great deal of time in the forms of the Undead and their many variations, as well as Ordial Mages, and Geists.
It is impossible to ever definitively ascertain the precise functions of a plane of reality like Binral or Bintaar, especially when the latter’s existence is still broadly doubted and discredited by a majority of Aloria’s scholars and theologians. Still, there exists a niche of the academic community that commits themselves to the self-titled field of “Animology”: the study of souls, so to speak. It is these Animologists who swear by the “Cycleomortem Theory”, which ascertains that Binral has an intrinsically connected opposite in the form of Bintaar, and the twin planes share an inherently symbiotic relationship as far as their overall functions are concerned.
In the Cycleomortem Theory, Bintaar plays a crucial, irreplaceable role in the cycle of life and creation that connects it to Binral. When a living soul that dwells within Binral dies, it begins the process of departing from its body. This has no fixed time and can be as instantaneous as the moment they die or take weeks after weeks if the soul is particularly unrestful and dissatisfied with leaving their life behind. This allows for the occasional seemingly-miraculous resurrection of a person through magical means or the birth of afflicted peoples like Archbloods who seemingly die but return to life without being Undead. Their souls did not fully depart over to Bintaar, so they were able to be brought back to proper life rather than a twisted facsimile of it. Nonetheless, all souls do inevitably pass on, and when they do they undergo a fairly straightforward and mechanical process where their memories are split from the Soul Essence they were born with. This is operated and overseen by a host of mysterious beings simply called the Creators of Death. They are a group of massive, floating entities sometimes spotted in Bintaar’s dark sky, appearing as an indecipherable tangle of long tentacles that can be observed as constantly adjusting the flow of souls. Their work seems to be entirely automatic and uninterrupted, and why they do this or what tasked them with keeping order to the cycle is an enigma.
Souls emerge from the Rivers as ‘clean slates’, so to speak, and are born without memories or influence. As they grow and live, memories accumulate in the form of more Soul Essence that forms within the person, until they die and go to Bintaar where the memories they gathered are stripped away and left to linger there while the original soul essence is returned to the Soul Rivers so that it can one day be reborn into a new soul. In this way, it is ensured that the same amount of Soul Essence has been cycling through both Binral and Bintaar since the beginning of the planes, and always will be. The memories that remain in Bintaar coalesce into semi-complete manifestations of the people they belong to that are loosely referred to as Shades and are just that: semi-complete echoes of who they were in life. The memories alone form a hollow approximation of the person that lacks any of the context or real motivations and nuance of their former owner’s personality, meaning that any interacted with are noted to act erratic and different in some ways than they used to. These Shades undergo a variety of fates, depending on who the person was in life and what becomes of them. Some simply linger among the dead lands there, wandering aimlessly and falling prey to the few entities that dwell in Bintaar. Others are so disturbed by their unfinished business in Binral that their Shades find a way to return there (or they are summoned, as necromancers do) and they emerge in the world of the living as Undead of varying kinds. The rest, as they are eventually forgotten, find peace in their afterlife, and simply fade away into a serene state of nothingness and nonexistence, their mark on the world vanished.
In this way, both planes are necessary for the existence of one another: simply put, Binral requires Bintaar as a depository for its departing souls and a place to remove the excess accumulation of Soul Essence so that they may be reborn again in Binral, and Bintaar requires Binral to feed it those souls so that it can be sustained by the host of memories and essence the departed souls bring with them. Though the very thought of it seems ridiculous, it is entirely possible that the removal or irreparable dysfunction of one plane would result in the collapse of the other. Both are essential to their ongoing existence.
The matter of actually traveling to Bintaar is a difficult thing to undertake, as the only ‘correct’ way to do so is to die. However, there are recorded instances and claims throughout known history of people actually being able to venture there through a variety of irregular means. Some of the old cults and spiritualists who believe in its existence have managed to open small rifts to either briefly step into it or just peer inside, and others swear that there are places in Binral where the metaphysical ‘fabric’ between the two worlds is weak enough that one can either accidentally or purposefully fall through and into the so-called land of the dead. Most claims of ever going to this supposedly theoretical plane are unverified and dismissed as fictitious, though.
The select few who are ever unfortunate enough to look upon Bintaar itself are greeted with a sight not entirely unfamiliar to the Aloria they know. In the realm of the dead, everything is rather obviously dead. All plant life is withered away, grass is brittle and grey, trees are hollow and lifeless and stand more like skeletal pillars among the sparse wastes of the plane. There are no animals to speak of, nor any of the noise they bring. The wind does not blow or whistle, giving everything outside of the cities a suffocatingly silent ambience. The cities themselves and all structures created by Aloria’s sapient Races exist in Bintaar in some part, though they are broken and crumbling husks of what they once were. In some places, the layering of rubble and old buildings almost seems to defy reality: where multiple civilizations have left their mark and had their landmarks torn down and built atop by future peoples, like in the City of Regalia, the multitude of ancient landmarks blend together in a surreal patchwork of architecture that could be mistaken as dreamlike. The unifying factor is their collective disrepair and dead emptiness. The sky, too, is void of anything: no stars, sun, or moonshine any sort of light unto the land abroad, and simply acts as a black-grey blanket spanning infinitely above. As far as the shape and landscape of the world are concerned, Bintaar is a mirror image of Binral aside from its oppressive, empty deadness. There are, however, just a few locations and landmarks that exist in Bintaar alone.
The first “landmark” of Bintaar is less of a tangible place and more a physical phenomenon observed by the rare few who venture into the plane and return to record their findings, and they call it the Well of All Souls. It is observed visually as a towering beacon of what appears to be bright Soul Essence that juts from the earth and right into Bintaar’s dark sky. It has no fixed location, as the few times it has been observed have all been in vastly different parts of the world, and it always appears to be rather far away. Theories have been posited about its purpose, the most plausible of which say that the Well is Bintaar’s proper ‘entrance’ where souls who have died in Binral pass on into whatever is to become of their afterlife, as the flow of essence does appear to be moving downward. Nobody has ever been able to come close enough to it to observe anything otherwise.
The Eronidas of Aloria have a unique relationship with Bintaar, as a place of their own mythology has actually manifested itself within the realm: it is known as Vak’gosh’s Stand, appearing as a lone hillock in the midst of a vast savannah in Bintaar’s equivalent of the Eronidas homeland of Guldar. It is akin to an idyllic afterlife for Eronidas heroes and warriors where the manifestations of their departed memories pilgrimage to gather and partake in endless feasting, hunting, and battle. It is said that every hero of Eronidas history and legend has a place at the Stand, and their memories are kept alive by the tales told by their descendants in Binral. There is even a story that tells of its creation. Vak’gosh was a chieftain of a great tribe in the homeland of Guldar, but his beloved was killed in a cowardly manner: poison was fed to him by a jealous member of the tribe. Enraged, Vak’gosh refused to let go of the Eronidas he loved so dearly, and slew the assassin in ritual combat. As his soul left his body, he forced his way into Ne’hash-- the Warrior’s Rest, the Eronidas name for Bintaar-- in search of his beloved’s dead soul. He searched among the many spirits desperately, but could not find him. Despondent, he climbed up onto the nearest hill and challenged Death itself to come and face him in combat with his axes raised. Death answered in the form of a towering warrior of bone and iron, and so the two battled. Vak’gosh and Death fought for days on end, but as strong and driven as the chieftain may have been, the only thing a warrior cannot truly conquer is Death: he was slain there atop that hill, but Death was impressed by Vak’gosh’s resolve and fighting spirit as it had never been challenged before. So Vak’gosh’s soul was immortalized there on the hill and his resting place was made to be a gathering for all great Eronidas warriors and something for all to aspire to venture to when they inevitably died. It should be noted that this myth is often ignored by Ailor, Altalar and others as an example of the Eronidas inflated ego, to presume a lone Eronidas changed the realm of death. If there is any truth to the story, only the ancient long-dead Eronidas of Guldar likely know it, as well as the secret histories kept locked away by the modern-day Polons.
Not every place of note in Bintaar has a noble purpose, though. Nestled deep within the ominous mountains of what is eastern Tirgunn (a province of the Lordship of Osteiermark) in the land of the living is a terrifying place simply called the Tombs. It has only ever been seen as a massive stone doorway chiseled into a mountain, and the few glimpses into it when opened have revealed a deep and labyrinthian darkness inside. Whether it was there when Bintaar was created is uncertain, but its purpose defies the natural order of the plane: it is within these Tombs that a vile entity known as the Malefica dwells and imprisons the unfortunate Shades it makes the victim of its nefarious designs. It specifically targets Shades that belonged to souls of relative power and importance in their lives, valuing their knowledge and strength. What it wants to do with them, though, is entirely unknown, and who exactly has been spirited away and sealed within the Tombs is a mystery.
While a great deal of the Bintaar is enigmatic, none of it is more so than what is only called the Pit. Appearing in the middle of a plain in what is western Daen, it is a gargantuan castle-sized hole in the middle of the world. It has no visible bottom, only unending black inside, and nothing that falls in: whether it simply be a rock or even one of Bintaar’s wandering Shades, ever comes back up.
Bintaar was created with no gods nor sapient beings within it beyond the Creators of Death and their master, the Shaper. However, as it is a place of memory and an old one at that, eons of coalescing memories and thoughts from departed souls have resulted in the uncanny, natural birth of a small array of god-like beings that dwell within the plane. Each has their own purpose and designs independent of Bintaar’s function, and act on their own autonomous principles. Some Alorian Cultures throughout history have managed to make contact or feel some of their presences, resulting in the creation of fringe cults and faiths that have mostly faded into obscurity over time, but the legends surrounding them still linger, and some forms of worship are still practiced and adopted by the remnants of these spiritualities.
Sometimes called the Faceless Fellow, the Dealer, and even attributed as being a possible source for the Lesarra Altalar myth of Inth the Worm of Knowing, the Merchant wanders the dead wastes of Bintaar making trades and bargains with the various Shades there, and sometimes even the living who venture into the plane. It is said to be a deceitful shapeshifter that collects memories and knowledge for no other purpose than to simply own them, and takes on various forms from the memories it snatches away from the unfortunate who fall victim to its wiles. It typically appears as a traveling merchant with a cart piled high with various trinkets and curios, beckoning close any Shades or living souls it encounters and goading them into making a trade for one of its many offerings. It will always try to find a roundabout way of making a bargain for the victim’s memories and very identity, using carefully-worded phrases and riddle-esque language to deceive them into giving it up. When it does, it takes their face as a mask and steals away what memories they have left, stowing the mask away in their endless collection. Such is the reason that a handful of faceless, gibbering Shades can sometimes be observed wandering Bintaar endlessly. Those that do manage to resist its tricks, though, can supposedly leave the trade with some value by only giving up a perceivably meaningless memory of theirs and gaining a long-forgotten memory of someone else’s in return. Despite this, it is commonly ascertained that the Merchant always wins in their bargains: no memory is useless to them, no matter how seemingly insignificant, and would-be bargainers should always be careful. The Morvali of Binral are a result of the Merchant’s influence reaching out and touching living souls.
Bintaar’s guide of the dead, and seen as equivalent to the Altalar belief in Ammu-Loa, the Lantern is a relatively kind-natured entity that tasks itself with acting as a guiding light for all who find themselves lost within Bintaar. This is usually done by safely escorting living souls who wander into the plane back home before something terrible can befall them, but it also busies itself with aiding restless Shades and helping them to pass on peacefully rather than re-emerge in Binral as Undead. The lantern it carries is a beacon of light in this way and offers those who look into it an all-encompassing and objective view of the lives they led so that they might better find peace with themselves rather than fret about unfinished business of theirs and other pain inherent to life. It appears as nothing more than a hooded figure with its signature lantern in hand, though some describe it as appearing slightly differently to each person as if to look as comfortable and accommodating to them as possible, even looking vaguely like people in their memories that they are fond of. The Songaskian Ordial Mages who make it their duty to put the Undead to rest and safeguard death owe their power to the Lantern.
Called ‘Kruphos’ by an old Allorn cult and seen as the patron and creator of Undeath in Binral through either direct or indirect means, the Malefica is a manifestation of the vengeful and angry dead. Ages of furious Shades and memories of violence and wrath coalesced into an equally angry host that ravages Bintaar in search of Shades to imprison within the Tombs or restless people it can embolden to venture back into Binral and revive as Undead. At times it even devours them whole to add to its own chorus of chained Shades. Some tales speak of it being the very first thing in Binral to die, leading to its moniker as the ‘First of the Dead’ among some Allorn-era Ordial cults. Necromancers who raise the dead for their own devices are manifesting the Malefica’s power in Aloria, dredging up Shades from its ever-growing host enslaved within its very being. It appears as a misshapen figure wrought of metal and bone in a facsimile of a mortal image, though its other details vary from manifestation to manifestation. It is one of the more active of Bintaar’s few entities, as it sees life itself as anathema to its nature, constantly trying to influence people and events in Binral to spur on more deaths so that it can harvest from more furious souls.
By far the most ambiguous of Bintaar’s ‘deities’, the Shaper has no proper place in any Ordial-aligned beliefs in Binral because it has no real purpose or intentions beyond fulfilling its task in directing the many Creators of Death in their goal of keeping the flow of souls steady in their departure from life. It appears as simply the largest among the Creators, and occasionally more of the flying tentacled creatures emerge from its titanic mass of limbs. It can almost always be spotted by those in Bintaar somewhere in the sky, even if just as a very far-off and small speck. It is entirely uncertain why it and its Creators undergo this task, but whatever the reason may be, they keep the cycle functional.
Most likely a direct inspiration for many tales across various Cultures and Races, the Hunter acts as the typical fableist idea of a ‘grim reaper’. It sometimes ventures into Binral when a soul that is meant to be dead unnaturally returns to life so that it can hunt it down and return it to its natural cycle of departure, but mostly it safeguards Bintaar from the presence of infection and threatening outside forces. There is a story told of a scholar and a Void mage who ventured into Bintaar to learn, and the mage conjured up a flame there. It was not long before he was pierced through the heart by an arrow shot from the Hunter’s greatbow, leading to the Mage being torn asunder with his soul sent to the flowing Well of All Souls nearby. The scholar, however, remained untouched, as she was not seen as an infection in Bintaar. The Hunter typically takes on the form of a towering figure donned with a skull and horns of varying kinds, always wielding its signature bow, and riding upon the back of a great ghostly beast of some sort. It always comes with a host of Shades in tow who join it in its Hunt. These Shades are hand-picked from the noblest of warriors of any kind who die in Binral that the Hunter sees fit to join it until their peace is found and they pass on. At times the Hunter even comes to clash with the Malefica and the Terror, defending lost Shades and living souls from them and driving them backward. In this way, it acts as a sort of guardian of Bintaar and the sanctity of death itself. The Ordial-aligned in Binral who see war and battle as sacred things find distinct respect and value in the Hunter.
A manifestation of the looming, suffocating fear of death itself, the Terror is a titanic beast that ravages Bintaar and tries to consume everything it encounters, Shades and misfortunate wandering souls alike. It appears similar to a massive Dragon twisted by metal and the decay of undeath, though has been known to take other forms: sometimes a horrific leviathan within Bintaar’s dead seas, a predatory bird or even chimeric creature formed of a multitude of bestial parts. Through these, it is reasonable to conclude that the various frightening monsters in folklore from all across Aloria (like seafarer’s tales of sea monsters or the Eronidas belief in Yazgar) have influenced the Terror through the memories of those who pass on and add to its strength. Whether it was created by these memories or just warped by them is uncertain, but whatever the answer may be, Bintaar finds it dangerous and actively combats it through the Hunter who is locked within an eternal chase after the great monstrosity.
The Machinist is an enigmatic figure that drifts in and out of Bintaar into Aloria, affecting, stealing, and spreading its own Necrotech and having some impact on the technological development of the world of Aloria. The Machinist is never truly a humanoid figure, but rather a large infernal engine with limbs, producing a set of rails out of bones and dark twisted metal upon which it speeds ahead like a steam locomotive of unliving metal. The Machinist's appearances in Aloria have rumored to have directly led to the invention of the Clockwork Locomotive in Aloria, a more recent invention of Qadir design with a speeding vehicle on rails. The Machinist collects new technology and sometimes places hidden technology in the hands of specific individuals to affect the course of technological development in history. Its primary obsession is the replacement of dead organic tissue with machine parts, fueling them with the energies of Bintaar and re-animating dead things with mechanical purpose, as well as the collecting of Engineering secrets and blueprints. The Machinist has a cult in Aloria called the Cratos Machina (pronounced 'Kraatos Makina'). This cult worships the Machinist as the perfect machine being, an immortal perpetual motion entity that harbors many technological secrets. They seek to serve the Machinist by inventing new Engineering devices, and seek its favor in the hopes that it will share some technological blueprint with them to garner more power. The Machinist is the original creator of Necrotech, an Engineering Branch, and allows his worshipers to produce and fuel it for all the Ordial-aligned. The Cratos Machina are not strictly evil or good, some work for the Machinist with benign intentions such as inventing machines to keep the dying alive, but plenty of Cratos Machina are also very selfish and destructive, letting nothing get in the way of their technological masterpieces. Many of the Cratos Machina also believe in Transmachina, the idea that the mortal body is weak, and must be fortified or replaced with machine parts for as far as possible to defy death.
The Glacial, who is called Frisit by the Death cult Isldar and the Bene Rexit, manifests as a massive glacier in Bintaar that covers where part of the Draconic Nexus would be in Aloria. The Glacial as an entity is relatively young, having been created by the Malefica feeding on the fear of death by the Violet Dragon Asaph and creating the Scouring of Ellador, a singular event that wiped out many Allorn and Dwarven soldiers who waged war on the Dregodar. In the process, the Isldar were made, who are all intrinsically linked to the Glacial. The Glacial appears like a woman of striking beauty covered in dark metal plating that mimic Draconic scales and spikes and claws, encased inside this glacier ever since she was banished from Aloria by the Dragons when Asaph was revived. The Glacial represents all death found in winter, starvation, hungering wild life, and frostbite. It is said she whispers to those on the threshold of death to let go and to slumber while they hallucinate from the cold, wishing to embrace them. Every soul killed by her, or passed on by the Bene Rexit, is joined into her glacier, so that one day she may break free and return to Aloria to be with her children, the Isldar, to bring about the beauty of death on the world once more in the service of the Malefica.
Afflictions and Powers
Most curious about Bintaar’s narrow, rare influences on Binral is its ability to influence Magesparks and create Ordial Mages. A term coined by fringe Arcanologists of the Allorn Empire, Ordial Mages are those born with what originally would have been a Void or Exist-based Magespark but are influenced by a high concentration of Ordial Essence from Bintaar, resulting in a unique kind of Spark that is able to tap into Bintaar’s power and alter the reality of Binral in ways unprecedented. While this usually occurs at very early ages, it is not necessarily impossible for a planar Spark to be influenced into something Ordial when its possessor is an adult: there are simply no recorded instances of it, yet.
Ordial Mages obey much the same principles as Void or Exist aligned ones, with their magic able to be countered and reflected in a similar manner. They are not as immune to such things as Primal Mages, seeing as Ordial essence does not ‘belong’ in Binral, but it is not perceived nor felt as an outright alien and infectious presence in comparison to Void and Exist essences. What is wholly unique about them, though, is their intrinsic connection to one of Bintaar’s entities. When a Spark is exposed to Ordial essence, that essence comes directly from a deity and it bonds with the mage’s soul in a process first documented as ‘Ammeasis’ by Allorn scholars, but now known colloquially as Soulchaining. This bond between the Ordial entity and the Mage directly influences how the mage’s power manifests. For example, the Ordial Mages of Songaskia are all hunters of Undead and guides for dying souls, because they are Soulchained to the Lantern who shares a similar purpose. Those with necromantic powers such as raising the dead and manipulating Shades and soulshards are Soulchained to the Malefica, and those who have Ordial powers relating to memory and knowledge are thusly Soulchained to the Merchant, and so on. This process, however, is an unstable one and cannot be directly controlled: that is to say, a ritual to infuse an individual with a Spark with Ordial Essence may not necessarily bind them to whatever entity they wish to act as a conduit of. Their state of mind and desires definitely impact the process, though, and if one truly desires to be a safeguard of dead souls then it is quite likely that the Lantern will end up as their Soulchain. Accidents aren’t, however, entirely unavoidable.
This bond also offers the entity the Mage is connected to a direct tether to Binral, though, and the more malevolent of them at times try to use it to communicate with the Mages they are Soulchained to in order to direct them into acting in manners beneficial to them. The Malefica is no stranger to prompting its tethered Mages to commit violent acts for the sake of bringing it more dead souls, for instance, or even inhabiting their body briefly to do so itself. Others might just communicate in the Mage’s mind or gradually alter their personality to align with their own aspects. This makes the discipline of self-control, strong willpower and meditation necessary for most Ordial Mages who desire to keep themselves and their sanity intact. The communication of the Soulchain is a two-way path as well: Ordial Mages are able to, in their dreams, project themselves into Bintaar at times only to emerge in a sort of gathering place in Bintaar’s equivalent of the Imperial Cathedral in the capital city of Regalia where they might see other projected souls, most of which are a unique type of Ordial Mage called Capitals.
Though it is incredibly rare and difficult to achieve, some Ordial Mages are able to dismiss the Soulchain and transpose their entire soul into Bintaar itself to remain there while their living body still dwells in Binral and they have come to be known as Capitals. This takes years upon years of practice and study and a total detachment from the concerns of life, and isn’t even a guaranteed success: sometimes the potential Capital loses themselves and their body goes catatonic, only for their soul to be lost within Bintaar forever to wander. A Capital capable of successfully projecting themselves is able to almost constantly dwell within Bintaar and explore it freely. The most well-known of Capitals tend to be Eronidas Shaman known to travel between the worlds in deep, induced trances, but the possibility of Mages of other kinds accomplishing this is not ruled out.
The most prominent of Bintaar’s influences in Binral are the Undead, the results of Shades who return to the world of the living through one means or another. Undead take a variety of different forms, whether it be as a walking corpse or an incorporeal phantom, but they share a common trait in being Shades and not proper souls anymore: this means that they are mere conglomerations of memories of who they once were and not truly the person anymore, resulting in altered personalities, behaviors and wants. Undead can be created through a few different methods: most common are ‘naturally occurring’ Undead, though this is a misnomer because Undeath is not a natural state of being at all. These Undead are returned to life when their Shade within Bintaar finally grows restless enough to claw its way back into Binral and rise from its grave, and they usually have a singularly-minded purpose like haunting an old lover or enemy or protecting something they used to defend in their life. These Undead tend to be less sound of mind and complete than other variations as the process of purposefully pushing one’s self back into Binral is a damaging one to the memory and mind, resulting in lost memories; sometimes even leaving nothing but bestial, ghoulish instinct behind.
The other way that Undead are created is ‘purposeful undeath’, and is accomplished through specifically using Ordial Essence to draw a Shade out of Bintaar and give it some kind of form. This can be anything ranging from a corpse, a patchwork assembly of limbs and parts to make a body, a suit of armor, a simply phantasmal form, or even a formerly-inanimate object. The end result depends entirely upon the manner in which the essence is being used to call the Shade, whether it be a necromancer dredging up skeletal servants or a ritualist placing the Shade within an object through a ceremony.
Undead are divided into two classifications: Ghüls and Wights. Ghüls, simply put, are all Undead who are not Wights. Wights, on the other hand, are Undead who uniquely possess powers thanks to the Ordial Essence within them. These powers are typically akin to those of an Ordial Mage’s but are never quite as strong or flexible in their use. Whether an Undead is resurrected as a Ghül or Wight is up to the method of revival, with the 'naturally occurring' processes creating Ghüls and there being some necromancers and ritualists powerful enough to esurrect someone as a Wight and imbue them voluntarily with the appropriate powers. No matter the type of Undead, all are incapable of truly dying unless the appropriate methods are used. For corporeal Undead who have some sort of tangible body, this is accomplished by completely destroying the head and burning what remains of them, thus freeing the Shade and expelling it back to Bintaar. For incorporeal Undead like ghosts and phantoms, Ordial Mages like the Songaskian ones and even Isldar possess abilities that can expunge such spirits from the realm of the living and send them back to Bintaar.
- For information on the Undead, click HERE
The Bone King
Perhaps the single most infamous example of Bintaar influence in Binral is the Bone King of Etosil himself. Born a nameless Ailor slave who escaped with others and took up residence on the lawless isle of Etosil, the man who would become the Bone King took up the moniker Thyemos after the arrival of the Ailor Evintarians who were expelled from Regalia and migrated there, bringing order to the island. Thyemos would not find peace or satisfaction with his new rulers, though, as he had escaped slavery once before and resolved that no man would ever be his master again. He would lead an ill-fated rebellion against his town’s governance that resulted in nothing but his sparse gaggle of supporters dying upon the spears of the local militia, sending him fleeing to the rocky cliffs and shores of the island. It would be there that his fate changed forever, stumbling across an old doorway mostly covered by rubble and boulders. Forcing his way inside, he came across the deserted ruins of what was once a temple dedicated to the Altalar god Ammu-loa and home to a long-dead contingent of the Allorn-era Ordial Cult, the Children of Kruphos. At first, he found nothing but dust, cobwebs, desiccated tomes, and filthy skeletons among the wreckage, but the sounds of soldiers outside forced him deeper into the temple and into its sanctum. There he found an alien altar of some kind, and upon it, a crown forged of black iron and spikes of bone. It spoke to him, and what exactly it said is known only to the Bone King himself, but whatever it was, it was compelling enough to prompt him to put the crown on. The guards outside were horrified as they witnessed an army of Allorn skeletons come crawling out of the temple’s ruins, all commanded by the crown-wearing Thyemos himself, and soon enough the guards were made part of his new Undead army. The Bone King’s story from then on is clear enough to most: making a name for himself by waging war with his ever-growing Undead army, forcing victims into his sarcophagi made of bone and slaying them only to resurrect them with the crown’s power as a new soldier. He would eventually be convinced to find peace with Etosil thanks to the urging of Emperor Cedromar during the Bone Horror Crisis, as the Exist-influenced horrors were an affront even to a servant of Bintaar like the Bone King. What his motives and goals now are entirely uncertain, but the peace has lasted: for now.
Those among the living who still worship anything related to Bintaar doing it in small, tightly-knit, informal circles. There is no true organized worship to speak of nor holy texts, only the writings and what remains of cults and faiths of the past. Those who choose to worship tend to align themselves with a particular entity of Bintaar or even one of the Ordial Mages who profess themselves as a living conduit of said ‘deity’, and model their faith and practices after the entity’s aspects. A follower of the Lantern’s practices might watch after a graveyard with almost sacred reverence, as it is a holy resting place, and a believer of the Hunter treats every beast they slay with sacred respect. Undead with a particularly spiritual connection typically see the necromancers who create them as divine servants or even divine themselves, as the Malefica is their patron, though not all Undead embrace their status and some even choose to violently reject it. All in all, Ordial worship is very loose and open to the interpretation of the worshipper, so long as they respect the tenets of their chosen ‘deity’.
A contiguous point in most forms of Ordial worship is a reverence for metal and gemstones. They are perceived as ‘dead’ elements, cold and lifeless, but ones that naturally occur in Aloria’s earth, so it is something of a sign that Binral and Bintaar are connected. Many an Ordial devotee takes up smithing and jewelcrafting as a means of expressing their faith and devotion, creating intricate masterworks of jewelry and armaments in the name and image of their chosen entity. Sometimes necromantic practices are even combined in this process, forging weapons with Shades infused within them to craft hallowed artifacts of the dead.
‘Deathspeech’, sometimes called ‘Shadetongue’ is an old language that lacks a centralized alphabet that is intuitively understood (but rarely spoken) by Undead and the Ordial afflicted like Mages, Morvali, and other beings like Archbloods that are influenced by Bintaar’s essence. It is made up of an array of guttural, harsh, whisper-like sounds that occasionally verge on strained screams, noises produced by the speaker’s throat that would normally inflict great pain or damage upon the vocal cords of anyone who tried replicating them. While it has no universal alphabet, a number of cultures who have had some form of Ordial worship in their history have developed personal interpretations of the language in the form of loose runic alphabets, used for ritual inscription and enchantment.
Within the many individual sects and cults of the Unionist faith, there is a rather secretive and little-spoken sect that typically refers to themselves as Therin’s Tongues. Formed primarily of Undead who still retain devotion to the Spirit after their resurrection, the Tongues take their name and the core of their beliefs from the youngest son of the deceased Emperor Justinian II, Therin, who was tangled up in a bloody conflict with his brothers that resulted in his resurrection as an Undead and subsequent murder of his elder sibling. The Tongues believe his return from the land of the dead was a holy mission and even brought about by the Spirit and so his murder was justified.
As far as their practices are concerned, not much differs from typical Unionism aside from a reverence for their fellow Undead as all being souls returned by the Spirit’s will, and possessing some sort of holy duty being the reason for their resurrection. The most devout even remove their own tongues in an extreme vow of silence, keeping said tongues in phylacteries of their own for safeguarding, as the secrets of Death are not theirs to tell. Some even go a step further and take the tongues of others who they consider to have committed heinous crimes against their faith, collecting them in a similar fashion.
The Gardens of Baskarr
In the early days of the Dewamenet Empire, whose exact history is lost to time, a particularly powerful mystic named Imeshret the Night-Gazer reached into Bintaar and drew upon its power. He and his Sefakhem dared to dream of a way to bring their people’s paradise, a place their mythos called ‘the Gardens of Baskarr’, into reality: and so they engineered the greatest crypt Aloria has ever known, the Vault of the Dead. This Vault is lined with an advanced form of Deathspeech scripture that made the Vault into something of a font of Ordial power thanks to the enchantments etched into the walls, and with the legions of Asha dead sealed away within its confines, this Ordial power resulted in a magnanimous change to Bintaar: the Gardens of Baskarr were made real.
Within Bintaar itself, if one journeys to where the Ashal Islands would be in Aloria, they will find a great wall wrapping around the coast that guards the Islands from intrusion by shades and other unwanted visitors. What lies beyond this wall is known only to the Asha dead who are buried within their people’s Vault, though if the descriptions from their faith are true, it is paradise.
The Children of Kruphos
An ancient cult from the middle-to-end periods of the Allorn Empire, having been founded during the Blossoming, the Children of Kruphos’ history is shrouded in mystery as they kept their practices subdued and silent throughout the tenure of their existence. Based upon relics and scripture recovered from some of their hidden holy sites, though, it can be estimated that they were most likely the largest gathered, organized Ordial faith to ever grace Aloria. They operated quietly to avoid the scrutiny of the Empire’s Exist-biased practices, and made it their overall mission to herald the arrival of their chosen deity, Kruphos, into Binral. Kruphos was perceived to be some sort of ‘deathly’ mirror of the Altalar deity Estel, as their belief of Bintaar was that it carried a reflection of everything within Binral. They strived to bring Kruphos into Binral so that it could cut down the Empire’s many enemies and finally bring all of the known world into their hands, celebrating the devoted few as the true chosen of their people. Their attempts to summon this theoretical deity were done through magical experimentation, ritual sacrifice, grave robbing, and similar methods, though it is unclear if they ever found any true success beyond spawning a handful of Altalar Ordial Mages through their experiments.
Perceived mostly as unimportant gnats in the grand scheme of Eronidas society, Volkon is a relatively newly-created Polon that has recently managed to seize a small portion of land under their control. They are headed by the charismatic but ruthless Ghōl’an, an Eronidas born with a seemingly-rare mutation that has left his skin a completely bleached bone-white color, giving him a ghastly appearance. He claims to be some sort of servant of Death itself and has amassed a small but dedicated army. Though nothing particularly concerning or significant has come from them in the way of news, as their movements have mostly been under wraps, there is a rumor floating about that Ghōl’an himself was invited to parley with the Bone King.
- A great number of people who have ingested hallucinogenic substances of some sort collectively report traveling into a mirror-like dimension that resembles theoretical descriptions of Bintaar, though entirely pink. The credibility of such phenomena is more than questionable.
- The gothic genres of Ailor literature have an odd fixation on romantic fictional stories involving beings from Bintaar: ghosts and other kinds of Undead.
- Some spiritualists claim to be so well attuned to the ‘Great Beyond’ that they can hold and host seances with multiple people in order to commune with departed souls. These rituals are commonly dismissed as money-making deceptions, though some swear by their legitimacy and suspect such spiritualists could be in communication with one of Bintaar’s entities.