To love thou blamest me not; for love thou sayest,
Leads up to heaven, is both the way and guide;
Bear with me then, if lawful what I ask—
Love not the heavenly spirits? and how their love
Express they? by looks only, or do they mix
Irradiance, virtual or immediate touch?
— Jothol Nimn, “Elisii Forfeit”
Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror
— Rianer Riama Relik
All the light and color has long since been slicked out of this realm: the ground is a desert of black pebbles and the stars, they say, were plucked from the Macula’s now-empty sky to adorn crowns and capes of the Oriels. Curling towers and palaces punctuate the blankness, gleaming like jewels scattered in ash, and in each of these a microcosm of fantasy blossoms in which the Oriels—alien and fractal and shatteringly striking beings—mould their minds and bodies in the pursuit of visceral beauty.
Some Oriels seek an objective beauty, constructed according to elegant geometric proofs laid out for all to see, but beauty of course is an experience that unfolds in the beholder, and so Oriels warp and transfigure themselves in order to behold ever more esoteric and intense experiences of beauty, inventing philosophies and bodies and states of mind to inhabit. Others pursue beauty outside their own selves, in the breeding of outlandish creatures, or in erotic pursuits, or in the invention of musical structures, mathematical theories, languages and scripts and social experimentations that rival those of the BrinkExultant yet mindful hedonists who form a kaleidoscopic community of explorations in creation and destruction, joy and suffering, exertion and renewal. Visitors are welcomed into the fold, and it is impossible not to be overwhelmed.Turn to chapter. No natural light suffuses the Macula, and so even vision is an act of Oriel agency: the harnessing of light here is a universal art, one that provides another axis along which Oriels distinguish, judge, and focus their efforts.
No other lamina channels the gales of CreationCreation tends towards activity, energy, passion, agitation, change, mutation, excitation, creativity, egoism, instability, uncertainty, and dynamism.Turn to chapter with such intensity and precision,1 wielding them as hammers on the blasted anvils of the Macula and their own bodies. Narcissism runs thick and is equally well harnessed—and warranted: Oriels are unforgiving with their judgments, and so all know their own standing. They are often cruel, but not for the sake of cruelty, only sparing no patience before their callings. For those petitionersSouls of the dead that have re-manifested on the most well-suited lamina, where they perfect and reshape themselves while carrying out pursuits in accordance with that lamina's principles.Turn to chapter that arrive not blessed with beauty, they may shape themselves accordingly or, along complex stratifications of Oriel society, find their place serving others or bearing the honor of being transmuted into materials for those more worthy of their substance.
Far from the ornate clusters of Oriel abodes, laminalLaminals are beings that natively reside on the laminae but which are not manifestations of mortal souls. 'Laminal' can also be used to indicate anything relating to, stemming from, or residing on the laminae.Turn to chapter titans are sometimes found wandering slowly in the blackness. Oriels avoid them and could report little to this visitor except to note a distant feature known as the Cleave: