Nyboria - fan site for role-playing games
Go to homepage
What's new
About this site
View and sign guestbook
Send me an e-mail
Links to other sites

Hide Top Show Top
The Book of Walls: Death

Death looms above the heads of imprisoned humanity at all times. It is absolutely inescapable and it will be the final thing we experience. Right? Wrong!

Within the Illusion, death appears to be the antithesis of life, the absence of it. But it would be more correct to say that death is the antithesis of birth, while 'life' as a term does not have any real meaning. Death is not the end of existence but merely a transition.

In Reality death means that the soul leaves its material anchor, the body. It must be noted that there are three component parts to a human: body, mind, and soul. The mind, not the soul, is the seat of personality. The mind is usually obliterated in death (that's what Purgatory or the Memory Banks are for), while the body decomposes. The soul however remains intact; normally in life the soul would be imprinted with the experiences it makes in its body and with its mind, but the death-related mechanisms of the Illusion make sure that such imprints are completely lost.

The Illusion includes the myth that the personal self, the mind, is the most important part of this tripartite human nature: Faust may sell his soul to the devil. This implies that he as a person, a mind, has got some capacity of control over the soul. The body is the second most important component of a human being because without a living body, it is said, existence of the mind and the soul is impossible. No mind and no soul can keep the body from failing at long last, and it is the body which suffers death in the first place. The soul, as a third component, if it is at all recognized, comes in only as some sort of fueling device, a divine spark, but its importance is so diminutive that some philosophical systems work well without including the soul at all.

This again is a perversion of the actual facts. Both the body and the mind are only vehicles and tools for the soul in a wakeful state - the soul's clothing itself in a body can be likened to choosing a car to get to one's destination; the mind and spirit are the interface used to relate to the world. If the soul somehow leaves the cycle of rebirth as controlled by the devices of the Demiurge it may retain some memory of the mind(s) and forms (bodies) it had in life and make them part of its final being at Awakening.

Note that the soul does not learn something new when Awakening. Its task, opposed by the Demiurge and the Illusion, is to rediscover its divine nature. Some philosophies hold it that the experiences of a life give shape to the soul; but in fact the soul had a shape to start with which was erased by the Demiurge when he first subjugated the souls of humans. Bodies and minds may remind the soul of what it once had as its birthright. Souls are palimpsests of the Illusion - erased every time their bodies die and they get recycled in the truest possible sense.

But death is not always the end for body or mind. Bodies and minds have been known to 'survive' the loss of their soul, sometimes even as a team. Bodies without souls and minds are zombies; minds without bodies and souls are spirits. If minds retain a grip on their bodies in death and manage to remain inside they become borderlanders; depending on how well their minds and bodies intertwine after the loss of their souls they may or may not decompose, they may or may not breathe etc. Theoretically a mind in a body could survive forever without its soul, becoming immortal (though not invulnerable) - the Illusion is a device for keeping souls in line, therefore soulless beings are of secondary importance. 'Selling one's soul' - in the sense of getting rid of it - could actually prolong your life. Of course Awakening, escaping the Illusion, is completely impossible without a soul as it is only the soul which has the capacity to awaken in the first place.

But what is the Real nature of death? Four Archons are said to be dead - Lictors die hard, but they do - three sepulchres in Metropolis hold the remains of dead gods - the City of the Dead itself is a monument to the factuality of death.

Yet Real death is not the end of existence as it is within the Illusion. In the Illusion, mind and soul vanish without a trace at death, and the body finally decomposes and its matter becomes part of something else. In Reality, death is a state of dormancy, of inactivity - but existence does not stop. Many of the inhabitants of the City of the Dead may seem torpid, but still they may move or mumble arcane things. Still the dead gods feed on those they can lure into their lairs. Death may reduce your options; it may subject you to a set of strict rules to follow; it may strip you of your power; but it cannot completely annihilate you. Death sounds much like our captivity in the Illusion, doesn't it?

In a sense, life within the Illusion can be described as the state of death of the soul - another perversion sprung from the mind of the Demiurge. In Reality, (re-)birth means the return into an active state, the end of death - within the Illusion birth is, to all effects, death. But death isn't birth - instead the soul at death is fed into the Demiurge's machinery of erasure and returned into the Illusion as quickly as possible.

Real death lacks finality. You may be able to kill the lictor who is after you but there is almost nothing you can do to completely bar his return. Death magic may be able to call the dead lictor (or any other dead being for that matter) back into life. Four Archons have died or disappeared - but if an effort of astounding proportions is made even they may be able to return. Only Achlys is able to completely erase an existence - but this cannot rightly be termed death (see the chapter on Dimensions for more information on Achlys).

Real death may be a means of change - like the caterpillar undergoing chrysalis death my transform the existence of the dead into a different -though not necessarily more colourful or empowered- state. Maybe the Demiurge is actually dead -the guard at his sepulchre in the City of the Dead may imply this- and will return to life eventually to radically change Reality and the Illusion. For the better? - Who knows?

Previous chapter: The Nature of the Illusion
Next chapter: Madness
Top of the page