What is the Otherworld?
Every race on this planet, including the various tribes of humanfolk separated by boundaries of politics, religion and color, believed in the existence of a world beyond the normal world. Though it is known under various names, the most commonly used word being the otherworld.
The Greeks and their Roman counterparts, the Germanic and Celtic kind, the Indians, both of the East and the West, the Norse, the Chinese—name it, and there is always an “Otherworld” tied to their myths and beliefs.
The Otherworld usually fell into the concept of a utopian world, or an endless expanse of meadows. In short, an ethereal place to which a journey has to be made.
This journey was often portrayed using a “portal” or “gate” of some sort, and it usually involved a river to cross and a token to pay. Sometimes, it involved sacrifices that were to be made; some sort of paths to be followed.
Another repeated trait is a guardian figure: it is usually a beast that guards the entry into this world beyond our world. In modern religions like the Christian faith, this role is taken over by St. Peter, the guardian of the Pearly Gates.
How does the Otherworld look like?
The Greco-Roman culture saw the Otherworld as a paradise of Fortunate Isles to which the ‘immortalized forms’ of men can travel. They were painted as a pleasant place in the Western Ocean.
The Celts saw their version of Otherworld as an island off the ‘west of Ireland.’
The Old Germans symbolized it with an apple, or a land where apples grew, which can be later traced in Arthurian tales—the resting place of King Arthur being the Isle of Avalon, derived from Old Breton/Welsh ‘Aball’ or Apple.
However, the Slavic culture had a better view of the Otherworld, the one that resembles most accurately with the real one. With ‘Gates’ that were guarded by ‘ferocious birds’ and closed to the ‘mortal’ men. This explained the portals (gates), the wyverns/ dragons (ferocious birds) and the inability of normal humankind to perceive the Otherworld.
Each of these folklore run in parallel—and where has this parallelism come from? The answer is simple: The Atlantean Isles—or in layman’s terms, the Otherworld.
Where is the Otherworld located?
The real “Otherworld” is just like any other part of our ‘normal’ World. Officially discovered by the Arthurian knights, they were much similar to the Indo-European portrayal of the Otherworld.
A vast majority of these lands were an amalgam of peaceful stretches of meadows and lush green forests. But unlike the singular island as told in the legend of Atlantis, this was an archipelago (or a group of islands). These islands of “Otherworld” are hidden from the “World-side” by powerful elvish magic, who were the race
Of course, there were mountains, very tall ones, and then there were the highlands, the deserts, and the marshlands. Rivers and ravines marked out territories for the various races that lived here—humans being a minority.
When the knights first set their foot their soil in the Otherworld, they knew that the humanfolk was not alone, and the peril they faced was severe.
The Portals of Otherworld
In these days of advanced science and technology, we all anticipate a civilization similar to the humankind. With extremely bizarre scientific technology, living on a dying planet, preparing to take over the world. We call them aliens—and we expect them to come to us in spaceships.
But no, we are looking at the wrong side. The Other kind is already here, and they are amongst us as we speak. They didn’t come from the sky above or from the ground below—they came from lands not far away from our own… They came from Ennfort.
Hidden by magic and leaving portals for communication, these Otherfolk have thrived among us all the time. Some have even left their traces in our culture! But alas, most of them remain only as fairy tales and mysteries.
The portal/gate involved here was not a river though. Rather, it was a magical channel that took you to a land hidden by magic using what the modern physicists would term as ‘a fold of space and time.’
Among the Ennfortians, this magical border is known as the ‘Blue Curtain’ and the portals are called Wyrmholes, created by the magical power of elves and dragons respectively.
No living soul could traverse the borders without the use of such portal. And indeed, there were beasts guarding the portals, just like how the myths pointed it.
(Well, not technically “guarding” it, but residing in its premises and thereby proving to be fatal for an unprepared immigrant.)
Most of these beasts include the great wyrms, dragons, lindworms, and wyverns which contributed to the term Wyrmhole in all Otherworldly references.
What happened to the people who traveled across these portals?
Well, only a few cross-portal travelers survived the wyrmholes with their tales of adventure. Even fewer were the ones who were believed. Most of them were declared insane, and the unlucky ones were either killed or had their tongues cut for the ‘lies’ they spread.
Yet the words that had been uttered were like arrows that had left a bow: there was no withdrawing it. These words became seeds that would later grow as legends and prevail for the millennium to come.
Origins of Otherworldly Folklore
Today, historians draw parallels between the myths and point these as nothing but legends and fairy tales. Folklorists regard them as tales spun around the present day islands with possible candidates involving Canary Islands, Azores, Cape Verde, Bermuda and the Lesser Antilles.
Most of them do not know about the existence of a real Otherworld.
Most, but not all.
Yes, there are people who know about the Otherworld—the people who work for the Magic Liberation Agency, or simply known as “the Agency.”
One of the sister guilds of the Agency is the Defence Agency of Dwarfs—a brotherhood of sworn dwarfs of the Otherworld who protects the Otherworldly secrets from the Worldfolk (or the ‘normal’ human race) for a variety of reasons.
The Agents keep the humans of the World-side away from the Otherworld for various political and environmental security.
Their idea of hiding the secrets was by painting the facts as ‘lies’—in fact, most of the fairy tales that were spun long back can be traced back to these so-called Agency.
Originally published: 2017/08/20