In Almira, death is a constant presence. Hordes of monsters slaughter civilians at will, demonic butchers carve and slaughter humanoid slaves by the thousands each day; death is everywhere.
So what happens when a creature in Almira dies?
When death occurs, a creature's soul begins to enter an excruciatingly painful state of decay. The soul must quickly cross The Four Bridges of the afterlife and enter The Catacombs. Once interred there, the pain stops and the dust of the decayed soul used to create new souls. Thus the cycle begins anew.
There are two exceptions to this rule. Samsarans are reborn immediately as a new baby samsaran, and the souls of kitsune live eternally in Tian Ta, the Godspire.
The Four Bridges:
Each of The Four Bridges corresponds to a specific aura that creature possessed in life. To cross a bridge, the soul must answer a question or endure a test. If a question is answered incorrectly, or a condition of the test or question is missed, the soul’s decay quickens, leaving it at risk of never seeing The Catacombs, and being unable to reincarnate. The deity Oglahain, Keeper of Descents, helps the newly deceased make their way past the trials of The Four Bridges.
The First Bridge - Alignment:
The first bridge that must be crossed on the road to peace is the bridge of Alignment. The creature must answer what alignment is thinks it possessed during its life. The bridge of Alignment crosses a pit of ice and fire, which corrodes the soul if it answers incorrectly. Evil creatures, who often see their evil causes as just, tend to corrode more quickly at this bridge.
The Second Bridge - Emotion:
The second bridge which must be crossed on the road to peace is the bridge of Emotion. To cross this bridge, the creature endure each emotion which it caused in others. Those of strong mind are able to atone, repent, or simply endure the onslaught of negative emotions. The souls of the weak minded begin to decay.
The Third Bridge - Health:
The third bridge which must be crossed on the road to peace is the bridge of Health. This bridge requires no test, but is incredibly long. Those who were strong of body in life are able to cross without too much effort. The souls of the weak-bodied decay along the journey.
The Fourth Bridge - Magic:
The fourth bridge and final bridge which must be crossed on the road to peace is the bridge of Magic. This bridge is peppered with ley lines, which can be tapped for the power to undo small amounts of decay. While those unschooled in the art of magic need simply will the energy to reform their broken spirits, those schooled in magic must use their respective magical arts to accomplish the task.
The Catacombs are a large spiraling tower in the heart of the Unformed Plane of Earth. The souls who dwell here bask in its peace, and decay until their essence is harvested to create new souls. The Catacombs are ruled by Chriuk, the Graveyard Man.
Cleric of the Fourth Bridge:
Followers of Oglahain often assist their god in preparing the living for their eventual and inevitable death. Clerics of the Fourth Bridge use their magics to prepare the souls of the deceased for their decay and rebirth.