The Echo is the spirit realm, the netherworld—a place born of psychic energy. The actions of humans on Roaya help form the shape of the Echo. The Echo consists of three levels, called Depths. The first Depth is a mirror of the physical world, except for two unique features—the Darkness and the Haze. Successive Depths exist beneath the first, in a funnel shape, meaning the Echo becomes smaller as you go down, terminating in the Void. Highborn can enter the Echo at will by meditating. Their body vanishes from the physical world and appears in the spirit realm.
The Mirror is the first Depth. Other than the Darkness and the Haze, it looks exactly like the physical world—at least until you find a Convergence. The Mirror is mostly vacant, though travelers there may catch glimpses of psychic echoes—phantoms left behind by powerful emotions. This can allow someone there to view past events tied to those phantoms. The shades connected, if any, may also linger in the area. While phantoms are mere repetitions of the past and pose no inherent danger, shades are often angry and violent.
Sometimes shades, demons, and dragons do inhabit the Mirror, and these creatures are extremely dangerous to humans.
Long, spiraling stairs can carry travelers down to the next Depth.
A perpetual mist called the Haze fills the Mirror. The Haze makes navigation difficult and spotting faraway locations impossible. It also serves as cover for some of the more treacherous creatures of the Echo.
Quicksand like wells can draw one down and spit one out on a lower Depth. The spirits of the dead are usually drawn into these Wells, and through them sent to the City of the Dead.
The Nether is the second Depth, located beneath the Mirror. The stairs that ascend back up to the first Depth are almost always guarded by Oni or other demons, and thus not accessible to most shades or travelers. A trip down a Well is usually a one-way journey. The Nether is inhabited by shades and demons that prey on any soul foolish or unfortunate enough to be caught outside the City.
City of the Dead
Most of the dead, those without the strength of will to become shades, are drawn into the City of the Dead, a lightless metropolis. The City builds on itself, creating a labyrinthine maze of aerial walkways, underground chambers, and illogical construction. Some say the dead remain there for centuries before being reborn, while others claim those that remain long enough simply go mad and became malevolent shades.
Sea of the Dead
Around the City of the Dead spans the Sea of the Dead, a realm of black water. Rivers branch off the city, creating natural barriers most fear to touch. Nightmarish creatures lurk in these depths, ready to consume any soul that draws near.
The Pits of Oblivion
The Pits are the lowest Depth—beneath them one finds only the Void. The Pits are a turbulent realm of dark fortresses inhabited by demons, and ruled by the Pit Hierarchs—a trio of demon gods. Some believe the Dark Dragons themselves also lurk in the depths. The Pits are literal Pits, boring down hundreds of kilometers into the funnel.
Beneath the Pits the funnel of the Echo drops one out into an unknowable oblivion called the Void. Some claim the essences of the Queleszun were banished into the Void during the Kosharitun. Others warn these essences could one day find a way back.
Echo Rifts and Convergences
Sometimes a Rift opens between the Echo and Roaya. A Rift is a portal between the two realms, but normal people cannot see or feel that portal, much less pass through. Enlightened, such as Highborn, can feel the rift and enter through it—passing between the two realms. A Rift most often opens at the site powerful negative emotions, usually those created by murders, betrayals, and dark rituals. These same emotions begin to warp the Echo, drawing demons to it. If a Demon Prince comes to the Rift, it can become a Convergence. A Convergence is a psychic nexus that begins to dramatically warp the Echo around the Demon Prince. The landscape becomes twisted and foreign, as strange spires jut from the ground, gravity turns on end, and the Echo becomes a hellish nightmare. The longer the Convergence remains, the more power and followers the Demon Prince begins to attract. And while the effects on the Echo are readily apparent, on Roaya, these effects are more subtle and insidious. People, unable to see the Rift, are nevertheless drawn to it. There, the demon’s power begins to corrupt their minds and souls, often inciting further violence and sadism, thus perpetuating the Rift. A Convergence left untended continues to drill down into the Depths of the Echo, attracting stronger demons. Basic Convergences reach into the Mirror, but stronger ones could reach the Nether or even the Pit. Eventually, shades and demons can even pass through a Rift that has grown enough. Given time and enough violence on both sides, Demon Princes can enter Roaya themselves to wreck havoc. The stronger the demon, the longer and larger a Rift it needs to pass through. A Rift that has not become a Convergence can be closed by a Highborn that enters and solves the crime associated with it, bringing the spirit to rest. However, once a Convergence has formed, the Highborn must also slay the Demon Prince, or its power continues to hold the portal open. A Highborn that passes near a Convergence is sucked into the Echo. Normally, Highborn can leave the Echo by concentrating. However, the Convergence prevents this, meaning, to return to the mortal world, the Highborn must solve the Convergence or escape it. Due to the dangers such events pose, the Emperor has created an order called the Darkguard—an order composed of Highborn whose honor and duty is to find and close Rifts and Convergences. And punish those responsible for creating them.