The Void, Markers, and Portals
This page will go over information on the Void hydras and the Markers that connect Realms to them, as well as the portals that make travel between Realms possible.
There exists creatures of great and terrible power; the First Beings, called the Void Hydras, wander the absolute nothing that exists between them. Inside of them is a depth of nothingness that is filled with energy - each hydra's head clasps a Realm in its jaws, as each hydra's tail clasps its brother. There is an equal balance in each, and any Realm that loses its balance is destroyed by the chaotic energies of the First Being it's connected to.
The Void hydra that the Fiv'ean Realms are located in is called only the 'Void', and will be referred to as such in all of our lore.
Every Realm in our main role-play is connected to the Void, the great blackness that is all and none between time and space. Through this, the veil that surrounds each world may be breached and portals created, allowing the transit of individuals between separate dimensions. The Void is known to have been a sentient being having existed long before The One; a great hydra with several heads and tails, each one connected to a Realm and its brother. Though so ancient most of its physical form and sentience has faded, it still retains its hold on each Realm, connected forever by the Markers themselves.
Inside the Void is an area of absolute nothingness; a pitch-black world as ethereal as it is solid, features forever shifting and changing. Souls who've spent millions of years inside of its depths float like lost stars across a black sky until their eventual, final death where each blinks out of existence as if it never were. Others - living and dead alike - have been trapped in its bowels, unable to ever see the light of day again. Rarely, there are those born who may transverse the dark passageways of the Void, namely those Ethers and Gods who are strong enough to resist its terrible draw.
An individual can exist inside the Void for a time, especially if they're of exceptional power, but it will eventually degrade and disintegrate whoever and whatever is inside without proper protection, doubly if it is there without the hydra's prior consent. The hydra's energy/reiatsu will begin to eat away at the intruder’s body and soul, over however long it may take to do so. The actual degradation is said to start when one’s own energy falls so low that they cannot resist it anymore, and they'll become weaker and weaker until there's nothing left to survive.
The Fiv'ean Void also holds many other names among the peoples it houses: the Abyss, the Hydra of Vacuity; as well as other names from many legends, such as Yggdrasil, Overworld, and the Connection. Other cultures have various names in many languages, but to describe them all would take a millennia of all our times.
Portals of all Realms - those passageways between worlds, gateways that many hold the ability to create - are made available for our use by intricate stone slabs called the Markers. Each Marker is what connects the Void to its respective Realms, keeping the balance so that they may continue to exist. Each Realm has a total of four, no more and no less; each is protected by a singular guardian, as detailed below.
The Markers are generally depicted as large stone slabs, usually obsidian in look, covered in ancient runes that glow in the color of the Realm's reiatsu itself. These runes shift position and size over time, so that no Marker looks alike to another. All average about four to five feet in height, can be dull or glossy, outward appearance oftentimes affected by whatever elements are present in the place they've been hidden.
To utilize the Markers, through portals, to travel between Realms, one must first picture the Realm and have knowledge of the Realm that they are traveling to. The connection is thrown from one Marker-held Realm to the next, across whatever distance the heads/tails are at that time. It's possible to travel to another Void's Realms if one knows what they're going into, but it's very difficult, and you have to go through the Veil into the Void and out of a Realm sphere to do it.
If a Marker is destroyed, the release of energy can be devastating, depending on how old it might be and what spells have been laid upon it. As each Marker is destroyed, a Realm's portals will begin to fail - their connection with the Void, and the veil that protects them, begins to degrade. The instability of a Realm's portals range with how many Markers are left. If one is destroyed, portals will open and close easily, but they generally won't lead to where they're pointed; they could open into a place miles and miles away, into the side of a mountain, or much, much worse. If two are destroyed, they won't hit their target at all, and will become dangerous to open lest the portal collapse with one partway through. If three are destroyed, portals can sometimes lead to other Realms, inside planets, out into space, and won't remain open for more than a few brief seconds. If all four are destroyed, the Realm will begin to drift in the Void, cut off from everything; its veil will degrade and - eventually - it will begin to die. The Void will reclaim it and destroy it, entrapping and killing those souls left inside.
To restore a broken Marker, one must gather five stones from five different Realms; generally, ones on this type of quest must enlist the help of an Ether or a god, who may bypass the Void and create portals without a problem. Utilizing the stones, one can then use the essences trapped within to reconnect to the Void, and the substance the stones are made of to rebuild the Marker. This will reattach the hydra's head that once connected to the Realm in question, drawing it like a magnet to metal. If Markers are left too long without reconnection, however, not only will the disconnected Realm die - but the Realm that it balanced as well.
Portals are doorways between Realms, opened through the Veil bypassing the Void. They are connected to the Markers, which tie all Realms together, and are affected by the condition of those Markers. Most any character can open one in a variety of ways - some examples we'll discuss here.
All portals take a certain amount of energy to initiate a portal, though in different ways; most portals also require a clear image of where it is supposed to lead, either from memory or description. Once opened, portals require energy to be maintained, and some may grow unstable if opened for too long, many are placed close together by the same caster, or if too many living beings pass through it at once.
As portals are very commonly used within the Realms, certain things have been taken notice of; common entry points are often outside large cities, and may have posted guards or protection spells to keep attackers from ambushing these sites regularly. Unguarded, heavy portal-traffic areas may become keen targets for bandits or enemy attack, and see bloodshed on a regular basis.
Portals may also be affected by a number of spells, wards, and various types of magic. Barriers to block portals are common, as are wardstones carved with glyphs or runes to destabilize portals and lead them astray. Some Realms - such as Kurai - also treat portals differently, and a Marker's health will always be tantamount if one works or not.
A rift portal appears as a tear in the air before the caster. The jagged edges glow with the light and color of the caster's reiatsu, often spidering out into the air around it. If one took the time to look through a rift portal, the image would be a distorted version of the final destination, often bleeding in the direction of the slash that opened it. They are about the size of the caster, meaning that a dragon's portal would be larger than an orc's; however, they may be temporarily stretched by pushing more energy into one, though this may shorten the duration considerably.
These portals are relatively easy to summon; a basic knowledge of where one wants to land and a slashing motion are all one really needs to open one. Most start out with sharper objects such as knives or swords, envisioning the tool cutting through the air to the intended destination, but a wave of a hand works just as well. They are excellent for transporting one or two individuals, though more will start to destabilize the portal. Holding a rift portal open for too long will likewise cause an imbalance, and may result in the portal's abrupt closing or leading to undesired locations.
A warp portal appears as a swirling round- or oval-shaped hole of reiastu light. It is bright, but the image of the intended destination can be clouded or clear, depending on the mental image of the caster. The outer ring that marks the border of such a portal is usually the brightest; like a rift portal, these reflect the colors of the caster's reiatsu.
This kind of portal is excellent at adaptability. Depending on the intended use, it can range from the most simple of tasks to one only fit for the most elite of mages. If the energy put into one is increased, so, too, does the size or duration of the portal increase. The larger the portal, or the longer it stays, the more energy it will take to keep it there. Thus, warp portals can be used for multiple members of a party fairly easily, or even larger cargo such as ships or caravans. As long as the power is available, the uses are, too.
Ground portals are named after their appearance; when a ground portal is opened, it appears flat atop the dirt or stones in front of the caster. They glow obnoxiously in the color of the Realm they start in and flood the surrounding area with light, and rays will often shoot upwards into the sky. The borders of a ground portal are set by certain rune markers in any magically runic language, though too far apart and the portal will refuse to open without outside help.
A ground portal is an excellent way to transport a single occupant at a time, though anything more will require the use of a different portal due to the short duration of its opening. As long as one knows the appropriate anchor runes, they can set one up fairly easily, though using it repeatedly will exponentially increase the energy required to open it. These runes will often spell a word of transport; 'open' is common, as is 'travel' and 'portal'. Knowledge and intent for where the portal leads must be present, or it will fail.
Glyph portals are extremely easy to spot. On any horizontal surface, a large, glowing glyph is cast or drawn; once activated, smaller glyphs may appear to circle the main glyph, and all will glow with the color of the caster's reiatsu. The main glyphs may be cast or drawn long before activation, and are often opened with a touch; the intended destination is implanted in it at the time of casting or drawing. The one who activates the glyph is the one the portal draws its energy from.
Glyph portals are well known for their reliability, but also for their difficulty to open. The surge of energy needed to open one may kill lesser mages or individuals, and thus magic users in the Order are warned away from touching any glyph as it may inadvertently be a portal that sucks their energy dry. They are dangerous to weaker mages, as life force may be substituted to keep the portal open if they run out of energy.
Often, when one has the ability, they are used to transport objects and sentient creatures who cannot move on their own. The long duration of the portal also has its benefits; once the glyph has been activated, anyone else can walk through the glyph portal after them so long as the energy is maintained. Extended periods of time may be achieved through large amounts of energy, but too long will destabilize the portal and it may fail.
These portals do not move; static portals must be set within a structure (such as a stone archway) carved with magic runes and a portal is then crafted within it to another set location. These portals show clear images of the intended destination, often tinted with the reiastu color of the Realm it is open in. These portals are usually quite large and are easily spotted, though there are so few of them that they are relatively unknown outside of cities that hold them.
Static portals are renowned for their immense dependability and the difficulty of opening one. An immense amount of energy must be donated to the creation of a static portal, often proving fatal and futile in more recent attempts. Once open, though, the energy needed to keep it open is much less in comparison. In fact, as long as the frame of a static portal is receiving energy, the portal itself will remain open. They are found mostly in cities that have set destinations to allied or owned places; Noctis is the Realm with the most, and there are only a handful of them outside of it.