[<]

Cosmology of the Three Realms

Creation

In the beginning, before time itself, the One God was all. And out of His fullness, He set apart a portion of His divine self. From this divine portion, the One God formed three realms: the Realm Within, the Realm Without, and the Realm Beyond.

The Realm Within He made for His chosen. Here they live, learn, and grow, preparing for the day in which they join Him in Eternity. Each one is given his allotted time and opportunities, and each one is expected to make the most of those gifts, seeking to develop those qualities that the One God wishes for them.

The Realm Without, after they discovered it, was named the Elemental Planes by the chosen. From this realm flow the raw materials that form, and the energy that powers, the Realm Within. These flows continue, undetected, passing along the conduit known as the Ether.

The Realm Beyond was set aside by the One God for His Caretakers. The management of the Realms, especially the Realm Within, was divided up into various portfolios, with a Caretaker responsible for each one. These Caretakers were selected from the best and the brightest of the first chosen to be created. They were given power and authority to carry out the tasks and responsibilities that their portfolios required, with some overseeing the others. Their slightly less talented brethren were also granted special (but lesser) powers, and became their minions and servants as they performed their tasks.

The chosen always had access to the One God. After all, they were formed of His essence. Their very thoughts were known to Him, and they could hear Him speak to them in their spirits. But for those needs and requests that fell under the responsibilities of the Caretakers, the chosen were encouraged to make their petitions to their more powerful brethren.

The Caretakers in turn were charged with providing for the needs of their charges in the Realm Within. Most of them worked via their minions, sending them from the Realm Beyond through the Realm of Dreams to carry out their wishes in the Realm Within. As each Caretaker, and each minion, was also formed of the One God's essence, they carried out their tasks joyfully and carefully.

Rebellion

It all started innocently enough. Abeo, Caretaker of Change, began speculating, as is his nature. He wondered what would happen if one of the Caretakers could take over all of the portfolios? Would such a super-Caretaker be equal to the One God? The thought would have been quickly forgotten, as were most of Abeo's musings, but it took root in the mind of Sheol, Caretaker of Death.

In those days, Sheol was not evil. His portfolio encompassed the end of the allotted time that the One God granted to all created things. Death was not to be feared by the chosen, for it meant that the time of preparation in the Realm Within was finished, and that the One God was calling them to Eternity. As the Caretakers themselves were drawn from amongst the ranks of the chosen, even they had their allotted times to join the One God, at which time they would be replaced by a worthy successor. But Sheol began to ponder, building on the thought he had learned from Abeo.

He reasoned that since the spirits of the chosen were once part of the One God, the One God must be weaker without them. (He failed to realize that the chosen, though separate from the One God, were still part of Him. Set apart does not mean excluded from.) And since it was his task to bring those spirits from the Realm Within, through the Realm Beyond, and into Eternity, he was in the perfect position to usurp the "missing" power of the One God: he could steal the spirits for himself, increasing his own power. In time, this added power could enable him to take over the other portfolios until he was powerful enough to challenge the One God outright.

Sheol continued to contemplate this strategy, growing dark and brooding. Although he initially did not plan to act upon his musings, he began to neglect his duties as he spent more and more time thinking about them. His mood spread to the Caretakers under his authority, and to the minions that served them all. The once-kindly escorts of spirits became cold and aloof. Though they could not be seen as they performed their tasks, their coming now aroused a sense of unease, and the chosen became increasingly uncomfortable with death.

Sheol finally rebelled, bringing his underlings with him. [need to figure out what triggers this final rebellion] Sheol proclaimed himself to be a god, gathering worshippers from amongst the chosen. In an act of defiance, he wrenched the Realm Beyond apart, separating himself (and his underlings) from the other Caretakers. The portions of the Realm of Dreams that lead to his Realm Beyond grew darkened and evil, becoming the Realm of Nightmares.

The chosen began to form factions based on the power they chose to follow. These factions became churches.

The faithful Caretakers named the unfaithful Caretakers the Usurpers. They worked to undo the evil of the Usurpers in all Realms, especially in the Realm Within. They continued to try to do the will of the One God, but they, too, lost faith at times.

Abeo, saddened that his speculation had lead to this division, took his underlings and tried to reconcile the Usurpers with the Caretakers. However, he lost sight of the fact that true reconciliation can only come through the One God, and his efforts only appeared to be a constantly shifting allegiance between the Caretakers and the Usurpers. In time, they become known as the Equivocators. Their portion of the Realm Beyond also split off into a separate realm, and the adjoining portion of the Realm of Dreams became known as the Realm of Madness.