The Planes of Existence
While you recognize there’s a lot going on, you can’t help but yearn to understand as much as you can, and with that in mind, you can’t deny your earnest curiosity.
“If you don’t mind,” you reply after a beat, “I’d like to know more about these… planes.”
Moirine nods and turns to Fia. “I’ll stick around with the pup to tell them more so they better comprehend some of this madness, and we’ll figure out what to do from there. If you’d rather go inform the Seamother of what we’ve learned, go ahead, Fia.”
Fia frowns. “Mm. I’ll wait a bit.”
“Fair enough, love,” Moirine says, and she returns her focus to you, her expression becoming thoughtful. “To try and compress this proverbial ocean of information for you to grasp easily, pup, let me first ask you something: have you ever heard of the Nine Realms before? I believe it’s a fixture in some of human society’s entertainment nowadays, yet it’s also a long-held part of the Ancient Norse, I believe they were called.”
“Oh, yeah,” you say, nodding. “That’s the whole thing with there being nine different worlds all attached to one another through a gigantic tree, right? And each world…” You halt as something clicks in your mind. Your eyes widen. “…is… is that real, then…?”
“Not quite to the same degree as what the Norse believed,” Moirine says, and she cracks a small smile. “However, in essence, aye; the Ancient Norse humans were very accurate with their ideology regarding separate worlds all connected to one another. Although, I don’t know if you caught it before, but there are eleven spheres, not nine.”
“Spheres are what we call them in your tongue,” Fia adds.
You just gawk in shock.
“All eleven of these have existed since this universe was created,” Fia says. “Now, if you want the full scope for that, you’d need to speak to the Seamother – she is the eldest among us, and she would either know the details herself or know someone that could give you the details. And if you’re wondering about deities…” She pauses to glance about. “That one is… a subject we selkie can’t truly elaborate on, I’m afraid.”
“How come?” you ask, frowning.
“What you humans refer to as gods and goddesses, we might not,” Moirine replies, and she shrugs. “But let’s not get too off-topic, eh? You want to know about the spheres.”
“Yes,” you say.
“Each sphere is a world of its own,” Moirine says. “They are unique in the things you as a human would define as ‘normal’ for a world to have – the colors, the shapes, the smells, the textures…” She rolls one hand. “Most of the eleven have things you can identify, is what I mean. It’s not simple to describe because you humans have a particular lens that you view the world you live in, and that lens extends to when you create things like stories to read or watch. We selkie think similarly, but, not every entity that exists does the same. What you’ll see as ground to walk on, others won’t, pup.”
“I… I think I get that, yeah,” you say. “At least, I can understand what you mean.”
“If you don’t, that’s okay,” Moirine says. She gives you an encouraging smile.
“Aye,” Fia says, “it’s not common for a mortal to find out these spheres exist, so to describe them precisely in a human-centric way is… a challenge, like we’ve said.”
Moirine continues. “All eleven of these realms have a multitude of names. Some are specific to other species and thus unknown to us selkie, while some names are formed with words in languages would be highly alien to the human tongue. Fortunately, they all have a few ‘common’ names between certain groups, formed using several of the various languages you humans can better understand, like your English and your Latin.”
You nod as you soak this in, and you smile a little. “It’s always in Latin somehow, huh?”
“It’s a well-adjusted language,” Fia says.
“I won’t delve into the ‘English’ names for all of eleven spheres,” Moirine remarks, and she smirks. “I could, sure, but I imagine it might get confusing to keep track of what’s what when you’re only now learning this, so for the time being, I’ll focus on a few.”
You don’t bother disagreeing with her there – you know she’s right.
“This sphere we exist in,” Moirine taps a foot on the ground, “is what we call the tellurian sphere, or plane, if you prefer. That word stems from Latin, in fact, because whoever decided to name it such was a fan of the phrasing.” She chuckles briefly. “For another sphere, while it isn’t called ‘astral plane,’ I’ll stick to astral for simplicity’s sake; the astral sphere is a realm filled with many entities you liken to spirits, but,” she raises a finger, “it is NOT the realm of the dead like some believe. That is a separate sphere entirely.”
“Interesting,” you remark. “So what’s this… asomaton sphere about, then?”
Fia’s lips purse, while Moirine’s features grow more serious.
“The asomaton sphere is… how do I word this appropriately?” Moirine says.
“It’s bloody eerie is what it is,” Fia remarks. “The air is thicker there and always a little cool – not cold enough to cause a human discomfort, I’d wager, but it’s noticeable.”
“And it stinks, too,” Moirine says, “or at least it stinks to us selkie, right, Fia?”
“Aye,” Fia replies with a curt nod. “Thing is, it’s a faint stink – you can smell it when you breathe in deep enough, but while it might not bother you or make you feel sick, you can’t get rid of it. You always smell it in the air, as if it’s in the distance, circling around you.” She shudders. “The whole damn place is like that, pup. It’s just plain creepy.”
You swallow the lump that forms in your throat.
Fia’s frown deepens. “Have you ever been somewhere and felt a sense of unease deep inside of you over nothing, pup? Like this heavy weight in your belly that tells you something’s wrong, even though you’re not in danger and nothing truly IS wrong?”
“Yes,” you say. You’ve experienced that discomfort in the past growing up.
“Imagine feeling that constantly,” Fia says. “Everything about that sphere is unsettling, and this is coming from a selkie, which means it would likely be even worse for a regular human. The temperature never changes from that ‘almost cold’ air that makes your chest feel heavy from some unknown thickness. The surface you’d call ground is somehow a little malleable to your feet, yet it sounds completely hollow underneath it.”
“There’s no ‘sun’ or ‘stars’ or ‘moon’ to speak of above you, either,” Moirine adds, “but somehow, it’s always a middle point between being bright and being dark.” She bites her lip. “The list goes on, pup, yet hopefully you can see where we’re going with this.”
“I think so,” you reply.
You try to visualize this place in your mind as best you can, but it’s not something you can mentally materialize given the fact you can’t imagine these sensations all going on at once. Either way, you comprehend why it would be unnerving, because YOU feel a little unnerved just from the way the two selkie are describing this realm to you now.
“This doesn’t sound like the sort of place I’d want a zoo,” you mutter.
Fia snorts. “Aye, I’d agree with you there. But then, it’s likely the Shard that Maazi used to grant his Master’s fucked up wish looks more ‘normal’ like this Shard does.” She pauses and glances at Moirine. “Wait, did he say he created a Shard? Or did he just pick a random, unclaimed Shard to use? I swear he said he outright MADE one.”
“Knowing how the djinn work, I’m not sure,” Moirine replies, and she gives a look of uncertainty toward the shop. “I’m not sure what we ought to do next. We have some idea of what’s going on, so the Seamother will appreciate learning, yet there are still questions left unanswered about this fiasco, and I don’t know how we can learn…”
She trails off and suddenly goes quiet.
You blink a few times, and you quickly notice her demeanor change. In fact, Fia’s changes, too; both selkies stare toward the shop, their features nearly unreadable to you. You frown to yourself and look toward the shop and see the door is open (didn’t it shut when you left?), yet otherwise, nothing appears out of the ordinary to your eyes.
“Um, Moirine? Fia?” you say. “What’s wrong?”
Moirine responds, her voice quiet. “The… one of the yaksha that owns this Shard… they contacted us telepathically.” She swallows audibly, visibly nervous now. “The one that did… they’re offering to speak with all three of us and… tell us something.”
You can tell how unnerved the two selkie are from their expressions. You grimace.
“Is that… bad?” you ask.
“Nay, pup,” Moirine replies. “Not bad, but… it’s… unusual.”
“Do we… do we trust the offer?” Fia asks.
All there of you fall quiet. Do you?
Written by Hollowpages on 23 February 2022