Monday, February 13, 2012

Afterlife During the Wartime


Explorers in the planes beyond have recorded two noumenal realms devoted to the concept of war, though from two different perspectives. One is a shining realm of trumpets sounding the call to glorious battle for a righteous cause. The other is a grim place of endless, grinding war of attrition, leading to an apocalypse they may never come.

The Halls of Valor or the Fields of Glory is the name given to the after-life for the heroic warrior dead of several pagan faiths. Its trappings are pre-modern, though never in history did swords and spears so gleam, or armor so shine. The warriors revel all night in feasting halls and walk out at dawn (strangely hangover free) to do battle with representatives arriving from places of evil and chaos (or at least the representations of such beings). Occasionally (if that word has much meaning in a timeless place) tourneys are held, and the warriors pit themselves against each other. While dire wounds are suffered, they heal quickly and wound and pain are forgotten in the face of glory.

There have been some warriors of the Oecumenical faith, or even soldiers from modern times, who fell in battle and were taken to Halls of Valor in some sort of cosmic error. Some warm to the place after a while, but others seek a way out by appeal to the pagan gods who rule there. Sometimes, angels try to recruit such misplaced warriors to serve in the Heavenly Hosts. This is considered by the eikone Management a tidy solution to the problem of a misplaced soul.

The other realm is a place of blood-red skies, where clouds of ash are buffeted by winds thick with the smell of death. This is the Plains of Armageddon, the Eternal Battlefield. Here, the souls of warriors damned by their actions in war are conscripted as soon as they arrive into the army of one faction or another. Weapons are supplied by agents of the Hell Syndicate or the demon lords of the Pits; They use the armies here as proxies for their own agendas. Warriors from infinite worlds and all of history do battle in bleak and blasted landscapes where no one is truly trustworthy and most hands are actively raised against every other.

Some of the damned delight in bloodlust and slaughter and give themselves over fully to their not entirely metaphorical demons. Others seek desperately to escape and sign faustian deals to return the the Material world as diabolic thralls. Others are lucky enough to make contact with the agents.of Heaven and make other deals for a chance at working off the stain on their souls.

14 comments:

Bard said...

I like this. It makes me think of the old idea that war brings out both the best and the worst in men.

The Angry Lurker said...

It would get tedious after a millennia or two but I'd give it a swirl......

Porky said...

I think you're getting at something big here. I like the idea there might be sub-realms, or new realms altogether, for the deeds that break the mould or for the fallen in other kinds of conflict, as awareness of those kinds of conlict emerges.

Tim Shorts said...

Others seek desperately to escape and sign faustian deals to return the the Material world as diabolic thralls.

I think I work with a bunch of these. Good stuff Trey. A duel aspect.

Alexander Osias said...

Valhalla + War is Hell. Nice.

Ray Rousell said...

An interesting idea, I like the picture of all the different era soldiers.

Pierce said...

I particularly like the second one. That picture is super cool.

Ben L. said...

Like everybody else, I love the contrast.

The Plains of Armageddon remind me vividly of Nu-Earth from the 2000 AD strip Rogue Trooper. Nu-Earth was a world of never-ending and pointless war; it was a kind of futuristic hell.

Niccodaemus said...

Hey Trey,

Have you seen a movie called Deathwatch by chance?

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0286306/

Reminds me very much of the Eternal Battlefield. YOu might like it.

Trey said...

Thanks guys.

@Pierce - It is cool, isn't it? That's a cover from the recent Weird War Tales drawn by Darwyn Cooke.

@BenL & @Niccodaemus - Yeah, "War is Hell" is a common trope. I did see Deathwatch, but I wouldn't have recalled the name. That would be a great touchstone here. I think my direct inspiration was a couple of things from comics: the Dogs of War from the old post-apocalyptic Hex comics, combined with some suitably bleak imagery.

Needles said...

Very nice contrast Trey! Very cool!

Canageek said...

First question:
noumenon, n. "An object knowable only by the mind or intellect, not by the senses; spec. (in Kantian philosophy) an object of purely intellectual intuition, devoid of all phenomenal attributes."
How are the planes only knowable mentally? If you travel there wouldn't you feel it?

Second: How do armies pitting themselves against one another for eternity advance those groups agendas? It seems like if the fighting was contained in once place then it would just be a pointless slog, and not working pouring resources into. There must either be something on that plane that people want control of (or to free, kill, etc) or some way to use the armies from that plane: Say if you can get one to a certain portal it can slip out into your opponents territory. Or perhappes you send some of your troops down there to train up in secret, or let green commanders train up on troops that you can freely let die....

Trey said...

Canageek:

1) I mean noumenal more in the Platonic (pre-Kantian) sense: relating to the world of forms or ideas rather than the world of the sense (i.e. physical reality). I don't conceive of the planes as a place one would travel to physically. They aren't other planets they're conceptual places you travel to astrally. But the astral experience would sem completely sensory.

2)You're thinking too materially and literally. Perhaps the pointless slog is the point? The planes exist because their concepts exist. Now, that's not to say the troops aren't put to use. I think I pointed out some ways in the post. There are no doubt others.

garrisonjames said...

Excellent post. Great mythic resonances. Quite inspirational.