"Spirit" refers to one of two entities. Either the untethered life force of a living creature, the archon of a god, or one of the infinite number of avatar spirits that wander Aesira.
Mortal Spirits Edit
Every living creature (be it sentient or no) is made up of two parts. The physical form, that which we perceive with our five senses, and the spirit, that which is insubstantial. While a physical body is born, grows old and dies, the spirit is an eternal thing, forever being sent through the cycles of reincarnation. The spirit has no identifiable race or gender, but when manifested in a visible state will default to a form it feels most comfortable in; this is usually the shape of one of the physical forms the spirit once had.
Life, Death and Rebirth Edit
A spirit goes through a cycle of existence that is controlled by the gods and the wheels of fate; there is a finite number, and they cannot be truly created or destroyed.
The spirit begins with a mortal body - this could be any plant, animal or anything else that is alive - and lives that lifetime like any creature of its type would. When it, like all living things, inevitably dies, the spirit and the body separate, the former facing one many possible fates. Those who lived in a way that pleases a specific god will find themselves risen up to that god's realm, while those whose actions were cruel, selfish and unworthy of this are put into purgatory; walking across Aesira's surface, invisible to all but other wandering spirits, for an indeterminate amount of time. Depending on how they lived their lives, this could be just a few short years, or decades of lonely wandering.
When a spirit has paid its purgatory, or grown tired of their afterlife, they may enter into the cycle of reincarnation; they are handed over to the god Taidu, who arranges for them to be reborn into a new mortal body on Aesira. While those coming from a god of high favour's realm may have some sway in what race or gender they are reborn into, it is in the end totally up to Taidu. A spirit whose last lifetime was as a slave-keeping Reptus may come back as a child born to a Lutras or Pryconian slave, or simply as just another mundane person or animal somewhere in the world.
When a spirit enters a new mortal form, it becomes totally unaware of its past lives, making every new lifetime a fresh start. While the new person or creature may exhibit behaviors similiar to their previous encarnations, there is otherwise no link between them. As such, the fate of the spirit is redetermined by this lifetime's actions; someone who spent many lifetimes as a devout follower of the god Donacles, and spent several passings in his realm, won't be taken back there if he spends a lifetime acting against the god's teachings.
The Avatar Spirits Edit
The avatar spirits are of an infinite number, and were created from the essence of the god Ralthos upon his death. Each spirit represents something in existence, such as an emotion like love, an element like fire, an action like dance, or simply just an object like rocks. Any single thing one can name, there is an avatar spirit that controls it to some degree. Notable avatars include the Fire Spirit and Taidu.
Spirits Not in ExistenceEdit
Certain spirits no longer, or have simply never existed. This is not because that sphere was not important enough - there are spirits of both dirt and boredom, even - but rather it may have been taken by a god or some other entity. Below are just a few, and why they are not among the spirits.
- Contest (domain taken by Cheetah).
- Death (became Death).
- Evil (domain taken by The Lady).
- Fertility (became Taidu).
- Freedom (domain taken by Aureus).
- Law (became Donacles).
- Love (domain taken by Taidu).
- War (domain taken by Matthies).
- Water (technically a part of the Ocean Spirit - a multi-faceted entity).
A god is a powerful being, but even they cannot be everywhere at once... in a sense. The metaphysical reach of a god is difficult for a mortal to comprehend. But regardless, almost every god employs archons to aid them in their realm and beyond: messengers, servants, guardians and whatever else that god may want attended to. Most are mortal souls who have attained long-term service with their patron for their devotion, while others include avatar spirits who wish to serve or the spirits of children born of that god's pairing with mortals. There are a scattering of other ways that an archon comes into existence, but for the most part these given reasons hold true.
Aesa employs no archons herself. Instead, the overgoddess is served directly by the gods.
Aureus' archons are known as the Lorekeepers. Every spirit that enters into employment with Aureus retains any mortal body they've had, of their choice (thus emphasising on their patron's sphere of free will), but in exchange forever have on their person a journal of their existence. Forever writing itself, it contains everything they've ever done in any of their lifetimes. Their duties include maintaining the many shelves of Aureus' library, ensuring that all the knowledge held within is kept in-tact.
Cheetah's servants are the Judge Archons. Their duties are very simple, serving as observers and record keepers; logging the victors and humble losers of various contests that happen across Aesira. They say misfortune follows a cheater; that's very true in as much as a displeased Judge Archon does.
Death employs various agents to assist him in collecting and guiding the souls of the dead. Known often as Reapers, they are the ones who go to collect the newly-deceased souls. Each god has contributed a single of their Archons to his employ; as he serves them in collecting and ferrying mortal souls to their realms, so they assist him in his appointed task. He also will occasionally make a contract with certain exceptional mortals. Often, the contract is to grant them another chance at life, at the exchange of their service when next they meet. These contracts are temporary (though remember that "temporary" for a spirit can still be several hundred years), and once they end, the mortal's spirit is allowed on to its respective afterlife. The Reapers all retain their original appearance; their appearance from life, in the case of mortals brought into his employ, or their appearance as an Archon for those from other deities. As a mark of their office, all reapers also wear a cloak of black silk, embroidered in gleaming silver thread. The markings and the wear of this cloak are different for each individual. One may choose to hide deep in the shadows of the cloak, while another may wear it simply as a cape over their other garments.
Donacles, as the patron and embodiment of law and order, predictably has the Law Archons in his employ. They serve as soldiers in his ever-swelling army, and are comprised almost entirely of mortal souls given office. The Law Archons also serve under a very strict hierarchy and chain of command, spanning all the way from privates - newly enlisted - and the generals who serve under Donacles himself. Each are tasked with very specific duties, all with the final intention of ensuring that the law is maintained. They all appear as arm-and-armour-clad soldiers, battle-ready always, with their exact appearance reflecting their rank, duties, and various details of the lives they lived before archon-dom.
Karushen is surrounded by his loyal Angels in the Gilded Halls, each of them a brilliantly beautiful figure whose appearance is based utterly on their own whims, or those of whomever they may be trying to please at that time. Apart from their astounding beauty, they are recognisable by a pair of large, feathered wings and dazzling, unnatural colours and patterns all over their bodies. They live to please, and to serve, but only with the assurance that they'll recieve the same in return... pleasure is what they want, seek, give, take, and live their lives by. Unlike most other Archons, the Angels do age, slowly growing over the course of centuries from young, vibrant and eager teenagers to experienced elders with a comfortingly parental presence and wisdom.
The Lady is followed by two sets of Archons known as Demons. The first set, her own, are stealthy and sneaky spies, thieves and backstabbers who help the goddess see out her many desired ends. They're a mix of her own loyal followers, and a series of other souls that she has schemed, tricked, and bargained her way into attaining. The second set are a group of vicious and powerful warriors, Matthies' former Archons. When the war god was signed into the Lady's service, so were all of his servants.
Tarrea, true to form, is accompanied by her Maidens. They are a selection of various women from almost any different stage of adult life you can name, who all serve their matron's two main spheres: as mothers and warriors. They're tasked with guarding, protecting and caring for the young of the world; a Maiden will linger, unseen, around a child that she believes is deserving or needing of her care, and do all in her power to keep them contented and safe from harm.