|Art by Radojavor|
Deep under Patala lies the Titanrealm of Death itself. Also (unaccurately) referred as "The Underworld" by mortals, it is the final destination of any being sheltering a Soul, divine or mortal alike. The Realm of Death and Patala are linked together by the existence of Crom Cruach, who also shares a strong bond with Terra - making the Midgard Serpent the bridge between Life and Death.
Sheol was colonized early by the Gods. Originally a dreadful wasteland of toxic swamps, ash deserts and forests of bone trees, the Gods quickly realized its most interesting resources : Souls. Souls can be used (or exploited) in number of ways, and there are close to a hundred billion souls currently residing in Sheol , each with at least a small spark of Legend. Thus, the Gods began to tear apart the Titanrealm in order to create their own resting places for the Souls. Nowadays, every pantheon owns a secure realm in Sheol where they can ensure the safety and tranquility of their souls.
Circling and crossing all of Sheol is Styx. As the most powerful remaining Avatar of Death, her realm extends wherever her waters flow. It serves both as a set of borders between the other parts of Sheol thanks to its extending arms and a freeway for psychopomps from all parts of the World to bring Souls in their respective Underworlds: even though Styx only insures the safety of travel of the Theoi’s souls, the other pantheons can use her flow to get closer of their Underworld…but have to escort them along the remaining path. Her river is guarded by legions of titanspawns all devoted to the protection of the souls transiting there and ensuring none of said souls can escape the inevitability of Death. They are caught in an ever-ending fight with all the other Avatars’ forces. Nirrti’s spawns and Neter-Khertet ancient guardians thrive on tormenting the souls, Camazotz’s are only driven by the desire to devour them and Trokan wants them to gain influence. Even though Styx’s guards are not unerring, they still manage to stop most of the attempts to infiltrate the sacred river.
All along Styx’s shores are the other Avatars realms. The most prominent of them is the Grim Reaper’s Land of the Damned. Despite its slight loss of influence since the Grim Reaper was thrown into Tartarus, it still remains the main kingdom of Sheol. Ruled by Trokan against his enemy Jo'Kung, it is a grey land of ruined buildings from all eras, teared roads, cloudy skies and undead silhouettes running, wandering or tormenting lost souls. These post-apocalyptic lands are a true reflexion of the Grim Reaper’s concept: the lot of death striking anywhere at any time and equally for all. It is in this realm that any creature of the Overworld learns the concept of Death stays quite relative and there are lands where Death itself can pass away.
Nested in the Land of the Damned lies Neter-Khertet, the ancient psychostasis place of the Neter. There the souls were trialed for their worthiness by crossing different gates, each guarded by different challenges and beasts with hints on solving these challenges contained within the Book of the Dead. Razor blades, torches, giant insects, all were designed to ensure the souls reaching Aunu were the most worthy of all. However, since the creation of Duat, the bond between Aunu and Sheol was severed and Neter-Khertet was abandoned, leaving the ancient guardians wandering a crumbling place. They sometimes venture deep into the Land of the Damned to have their share of action and bloodshed or attempt a heist on Styx river or on the Desert of Lost Souls to put their hands on souls to torture.
Near the Land of the Damned, a series of high mountains can be found, piercing the veil of darkness and toxic smoke of Sheol, the Peaks of Cececmiqui. Itztlacoliuhqui reigned over these icy lands, where even souls are frozen to their core. Winds seems to penetrate the body, freezing your entire flesh in an instant. All fires, even the fire of life, seems to extinguish quickly as you begin to climb. At the top lies the Ice Palace of Itztlacoliuhqui, a aztec pyramid of pure ice and obsidian that rises above the toxic and abrasive clouds of Sheol. There, one can see an ever changing sky : the millions of star from Nyx above seem to shift with the dark rocks of Patala, icy winds flow directly from Amaunet while the faint haze of the Winter Court of Fairie sometimes glows in the distance. The forces of the aztec titan of cold remain ever vigilant of this sacred place, and the ice fortress has frozen more than one being who dared to use it as an unexpected shortcut to various titanrealms.
All around the devastasted wasteland of Sheol, caves can be found, hosting the hordes of Camazotz. Monstrous bats and horrendous creatures made by the darkest usage of Hematurgy dwell in those caverns, that often link to Patala. The Bat Demon, as the avatar of Death as Extinction, cannot hold a territory, which makes his forces unpredictable, navigating through caves and tunnels, flying over the noxious clouds of Sheol, striking anywhere, at anytime. Dracula once held a castle near the Land of the Damned that belonged to Camazotz, but since the young Avatar has decided to secede, the black Castle of Nightmares remains out of sight, lost between the land of Hypnos and Sheol.
Between two arms of Styx lies Nirrti’s abode. It is a moist land, mostly covered in smelly swamps, plunged in a permanent and oppressive darkness and awfully silent. Since Nirrti was thrown into Tartarus, her forces have remained calm…if such a term can make sense in such a place. All the creatures there move swiftly and furtively. Masters of ambushes and lures, they let their soon-to-be prey venture deep within the realm before torturing its mind, sending him visions of pure horror and finally striking from the shadows without a single noise. Even the titanspawns of Camazotz dread to enter this part of Sheol, which incidentally protects the inhabitants of the Desert of Lost Souls to suffer the Lord of Bats appetite.
Circling the Land of the Damned is the Desert of Lost Souls. The wildest and most dangerous part of Sheol, it is a cold desert of ashes and building-sized dunes moved by unfathomably strong winds. The desert covers what seems to have been a city long before the arrival of the Gods and it is not rare to see the top of a skyscraper unveiled by one of the dune’s sudden movement. But nobody can be certain of this fact because of the memory loss effect the place has on any soul (living or dead) entering it, causing them to endlessly drift aimless and literally lost. All souls that managed to escape the vigilance of their psychopomp guide eventually ends up in this place if they are not captured and enslaved by Trokan, devoured by Camazotz’s spawns or chained by Styx, fate they still suffer in the end when the aforementioned factions manage to break in the desert in hunting expeditions.
Internal Politics and Culture
Between the Second Titanomachy and the Black Plague’s break out on the World, the Grim Reaper was the main ruling power in Sheol and the titanrealm was at the peak of its glory. Maintaining a certain form of equality over Sheol, the Grim Reaper was its impartial arbiter and kept the most violent of titanspawns at bay. Unfortunately, her actions during the Middle-Ages led her being torn apart and her pieces thrown into Tartarus. With ItztlacoliuhquiCamazotz and Nirrti bound into Tartarus as well, the different titanspawns are now fighting over the desolated lands of Death and bickering over a few lost souls or travelers without any other hierarchy than the one created by the survival of the fittest. The remains of Grim Reaper are following their only purpose to merge back together and give "life" to the former Avatar again while entities such as The Flayer, Jo’Kung and Trokan are constantly battling for the sake of power and enforce their own vision of Death over Sheol and restore the titanrealm’s glory.
Relations and links
Due to the omnipresence of the concept of Death, the titanrealm shares borders with every other titanrealm in the Overworld, especially with Terra through Crom Cruach thus creating the Terran Cycle - the subtle cycle of balance between Life and Death. The Godrealms, however, are all out its reach, the only borders the realm shares with the Gods being through the different Underworlds.
Except for the Underworlds and the scarce expeditions, the Gods' presence stays limited within Death. Although It is not uncommon to witness skiffs or ships of Godly envoys floating over Styx river - if they pay the proper tribute to the great Titan - in order to lead hunting expeditions like in a divine version of a safari, or go into punitary counterstrikes within the lands of Sheol.
- Camazotz, Death as Extinction (Bound in Tartarus)
- The Grim Reaper, Death as Inevitability (Split apart and bound in Tartarus)
- Itztlacoliuhqui, Death as Coldness (Bound in Tartarus)
- Nirrti, Death as Horror (Bound in Tartarus)
- Styx, Death as Journey
- Thanatos, Death as Peace