Planar Primer #3: Styx & Gehenna
Weaving its way throughout the multiverse, alongside the Material Plane in the Echoing Mesas of the Etherium, lies the River Styx. Like an arterial system of souls and ghosts it casts a net over the lands of those who will eventually die. It tributaries all eventually lead to the swamps of Gehenna, a place where the dead are gathered, waiting to make their way to the heavens and hells that await them.
Styx, The River Of Souls
The swirling blue-grey waters of the River Styx are comprised, at least in part, of the souls of the dead. As people die, wherever they die, their souls are drawn to its shores in order to make their way to the next part of their “life”. Mortals who find themselves in the presence of the River are often too frightened by the experience to describe the sights. Those who hold their wits tell tales of moaning and crying coming from the churning water, faces and hands grasping towards the warmth they once knew. Ghosts, spectres, and wraiths are among those who resist or have been forced away from the River. To some the River Styx is a thing they are unable to find, forced into an unlife they never asked for. To others it is anathema, a thing to be avoided for its current will carry them from work still yet undone.
Spectral Wetlands Of Gehenna
Eventually the waters of the River of Souls all dump into a vast smapy land of mist and chill. This is a purgatory, a place where souls are left to wait among reeds. It is a proving ground for those who did not make a place for themselves in any afterlife, a place to petition or a place to become lost to demons or forgotten to time. Throughout the Spectral Wetlands are not just souls and ghosts but those who would barter in souls, such as demons and devils, and those who would save them, such as angels. More than any of those are the psychopomps, celestial guardians of those who have died. Regardless of final destination these beings protect, guide, and hunt souls as they make their way to the Vaitarna and Acheron Rivers…or fail to. These rivers feed into and travel through the Divine Sanctuaries, depositing souls on the shores of their final destinations.
Though rare, there is one thing more dangerous than anything else among the waters that carry souls. Lethean Whirlpools draw in the most lost souls and consign them to oblivion. Each one is connected, supposedly, to the Void itself and anyone who is consumed by one is cast out into the Space Between Stars. These places are sporadic and fleeting but not even the worst demons or devils would interfere with the protective line psychopomps create around them when they are found. Of course, not are all found and an unsupervised whirlpool wrecks havoc not only with the region it appears in, but the cosmic balance at large.