While mortals do not understand all of how souls “work,” what is known is that sapient souls move through an endless cycle of waking life and purgatorial slumber among the gods. Most times this metaphysical rest lasts for several years, but it can also be very brief, with a soul reincarnating immediately. The process of reincarnation is not perfect, however. Souls can experience “fracturing” over generations, transforming in myriad ways, and not always functioning properly.

Certain cultures or individuals may place high values on various soul characteristics. Some of these characteristics include “strong” souls, souls with a “pure” lineage, “awakened” souls (meaning souls that can recall past lives), “traveled” souls (souls that have drifted through various divine realms), or souls that coexist in a single body. However, the opposite is also true, resulting in discrimination and sometimes outright violence.

Through a variety of techniques (e.g., martial training, meditation, ritualistic evocation, and mortification of the flesh), some individuals are able to draw upon the energy of their soul to accomplish extraordinary feats. These abilities range from the mundanely superhuman to the explosively magical. Having a strong soul seems to make this easier, but sometimes even people with fragmented souls are able to accomplish the extraordinary. The individual’s body seems to act as a conduit and battery for this power, drawing in replenishment from seemingly omnipresent “fields” of unbound spiritual energy in the world around them.

Whatever the fundamental nature of mortal souls is, the people of the world accept the reality of what they have observed: that all mortal bodies contain perceptible energy bound to the individual, and that once they die, their energy will move forward in the eternal cycle that they are all a part of—and that, as far as they know, they have always been a part of.

Following the War of the Black Trees, Dyrwoodan Animancers learned that some old and large trees in Eir Glanfath have souls. Animancers categorized souls held within a physical vessel as “housed” souls.

Biawac

The most feared phenomenon of Eir Glanfath, biawacs are “spirit winds” that rise up in cursed ruins, shearing souls away from the bodies of their owners. They appear suddenly and without warning, leaving victims little hope of escape. Strong-souled people are not harmed by biawacs, but affected individuals are instantly reduced to a catatonic state. The discovery of numerous biawacs in Eir Glanfath during its early exploration resulted in thousands of Aedyr deaths.

The Wheel of Life and Death

All things that live have souls. Death releases all souls. If souls pass to the Beyond, they may be ordered by the gods according to faith, works, and the unknowable will of the divine. These souls find new lives according to their order. This is “The Wheel” and widespread faith in the truth of its message is what sustains most organized religions. Plants live, birds live, and people live because they have souls. There is an order and reason to why each creature has their soul. To go against The Wheel is to go against natural and divine order. Some people believe in The Wheel as an observable mechanism, but debate whether or not it is a designed mechanism (i.e., by divine intelligence and will for an intended purpose).

Necromancy

Individuals attempting to disrupt the natural cycle of life and death are considered to be engaging in necromancy. Various methods to break this cycle include speaking with the soul of a dead mortal, attempting to tap into the unconscious past lives of a living soul, or binding either soul energy or a complete soul inside of a dead body. Depending on the culture, these acts are viewed with differing levels of criticism. Many folk share the interest of necromancers and would like to understand more about the eternal cycle, but are also afraid of what they might learn. Some extremists are opposed to any and all necromancy, and tales say that a quiet and powerful cult has worked for centuries to discredit, trap, and even murder necromancers for their efforts. To the people who oppose necromancy with such violent passion, mortal understanding should have limits, and they fear the consequences for the world should those limits be unraveled.

The Beyond, The Veiled, or Hel

This is where many people believe the gods live and where souls go (assuming they are not lost souls). They consider this a place outside of the physical world that does not correlate to real space, but that metaphysically is within the world. In reality, it is inside the world. In common speech, this is called “The Beyond” or “The Veiled” (by Glanfathans). In Eld Aedyran, it is simply called “Hel.”

Lost Soul

Lost souls are “unhoused” anima (i.e., not contained in a physical vessel), but have not moved into the Beyond. A lost soul may retain awareness and memory or it may be badly fractured. To each other (or to a Watcher), they can take the anima-composed physical form that housed it in life or it can appear as a formless volume of pure anima energy. They are completely invisible and undetectable to ordinary mortals, and mortals are completely invisible and undetectable to them. Lost souls navigate the world via living Adra, which acts as a beacon to them, and via Watchers, who passively illuminate the world to lost souls. Lost souls always have the ability to pass through the Veil, but for a variety of reasons, choose not to.

Soul Fragments

These are broken pieces of either lost souls, or souls that have passed beyond the Veil. They are pieces of a soul and, as such, contain incomplete memories, vague awareness, and confused volition. In some rare instances, soul fragments stay in the physical world (e.g., blights), but in most cases, they become floating particles of soul energy that occupy the same middle ground between the physical world and Hel as a lost soul.

Soul fragments look like shards or chunks of a person—not in a gory sense, but like they are a piece of glass broken off of a statue. Most soul fragments are extremely small, virtually invisible to the naked eye. Badly fractured souls could be as large as half of a person, though this is uncommon. Soul fragments rarely pass beyond the Veil. They are commonly used to power wizards’ grimoires and chanters’ chants—the former absorb them into their grimoires and redirect the energy, the latter call upon their ancestral memory to invoke effects.