Arena Supermundus: The Tapestry of Heaven
The aim of the guide is to describe the empire of Tamriel as it stands today, but we must at least briefly put it in context, by describing what lies beyond us. As vast as Tamriel is, we are only but one small part of the greater world of Nirn. It is a physical place, but a spiritual one as well, comprising what teachers of mysticism call the Mundus or, more delightfully, the Gray Maybe.
As Cyrodiil is the center point of Tamriel, taking the best of what surrounds her, so Mundus is the center of the spiritual world, blending the darkness of Oblivion with the searing light of Aetherius. It is sometime called the Arena here, for forces are eternally at struggle. Wealth and subjugation, love and loss, life and death and undeath, inviolate laws of nature, and conversely, magickal means of breaking those laws. There are some who even speak of good and evil, but these concepts are subjective and not spiritual. Still, they suggest one more of the many struggles in the Arena of Mundus.
Imperial scribes of the original Guide ignored this totality for multitudinous reasons, mostly borne from the shifting political and racial landscape of the time, and the exertions of moving mankind to the center stage of all things. Or perhaps it was a simple lack of knowledge. Precursor to Tiber's time of conquest were the dark and cumulative losses of four centuries of Interregnum. In any case, a fair-weather handwaving of the worlds beyond was preferable to an attempt at even a layman's introduction to the grandeur of high domain.
And while the Morihatha Edition tried valiantly to rectify a little of this in its opening pages, it is at the request of the current regime, which has experienced firsthand the peril and wonder of the Supermundus, that its citizenry be gifted with more than a casual glance of the mystic realms beyond our shores.
The Void of Oblivion
Oblivion is the most dangerous of outer realms, home to the powerful spirits of darkness called the Daedra. Everyone on Tamriel has had some brush with the Capricious Powers, whether it be in dream, or war, or at festival. Indeed, simply staring into the night sky is enough to visit Oblivion, for it begins where Mundus ends and surrounds those terminals on every side. Its rulers are the immortal Princes of Void, whose names are many and whose natures are inextricably tied to our own. In the same way mortals are infused with the Nine Divines and other aetherial spirits through virtue and creation, we also share a relationship with the Royalty of our baser vagaries.
Since Oblivion is coterminous with the plane of Nirn, travel there has happened since time immemorial. Because of this, its quarters are the most mapped and charted of all the outer realms, though there is still much more mystery than understanding. While it is easiest to think of a Void being exactly that, Oblivion is anything but, and while it is true that much of it is a black and empty sea, through every era magicians and emperors and villains have all visited its borders and returned with tales of countless isles of wonder and cosmic whimsy. The Daedra Lords, here from the start, have through long eons hoarded so much surplus of existence that they have built not only their own domains, but much more besides.
It is beyond the scope of this pamphlet to describe the Daedra Principalities in any detail. Interested readers are encouraged to seek out the works of Master Zenas of the Mages Guild or the Imperial Geographic Society's own Census of Daedra Lords.
The Magic of Aetherius
Imperial Theosophy teaches us that our world was born from magicka, the creative force that informs and sustains all life. The sources of magic are the many and diverse heavens beyond the void, collectively known as the Aetherius.
Aetherius, ancestral seat of the Nine Divines and the other original spirits, is the plane of pure magicka. Whereas Oblivion may surround us every night, it is aetherial energy that infuses our daily existence, from highest to lowest, and gives all the races of men, mer, and beast common purpose. Its magic brings the rain to the fields, love to our hearths, and scientific principles to our technological industries. It gives us the very Sun itself. Finally, Aetherius is the home to the Aedra, those cornerstones of the Mundus whose aspects we see in temple, in lordship, and the high walk of heroes.
Visits to Aetherius occur even less frequently than to Oblivion, for the void is a long expanse and only the stars offer portal for aetherial travel, or the judicious use of magic. The expeditions of the Reman Dynasty and the Sun Birds of Alinor are the most famous attempts in our histories, and it is a cosmic irony that both of them were eventually dissolved for the same reason: the untenable expenditures required to reach magic by magicka. Their only legacy is the Royal Imperial Mananauts of the Elder Council and the great Orrery at Firsthold, whose spheres are made up of genuine celestial mineral gathered by travelers during the Merethic Era.
Birthsigns: The Aetherial Constellations
Every child on Nirn is given a birthright by the heavens. Known as star signs, they are fortunes and dooms created by the magical interplay that makes up each of the aetherial constellations. Commonly, these constellations number thirteen, though others have been observed during times of empyrean harmony or stress.
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