“The color of their sky is a sickeningly bright shade of azure. This simply won’t do. This should be corrected after stage two of refinement begins.”
- From the reports of Lec Theshmi, the first to step through the portal.
Aela is the result of good intentions gone horribly wrong. A very dangerous layer, much of Aela is a nightmarish wasteland, the result of centuries of over experimentation with magic. The pollution caused by the void engineers in the capital city has over the years twisted the local flora and fauna into monsters and made life for everyone who lives outside the Great Barrier one of extreme hardship.
Of course, the average Aelan citizen doesn’t care, they live a life of opulence and magic-fueled convenience. Those born with the ability to use magic live a privileged life, never having to worry where their next meal is going to come from and able to indulge any excess that comes to their jaded minds. Those without the gift are cast out to the farms outside the Barrier to live a life of toil and servitude. There is never a question way, it simply is.
Aela wasn't always this way. It was once a thriving, almost utopian society of philosophers, scientists, and artists. Alas, progress has a price, and much of Aela’s troubles can be traced back to the discovery of the Worm.
The slow, pernicious downfall (or rise of if the Jeno Cultists have anything to say about it) was the discovery of the void and the other layers. Technologically, Aela used to be an incredibly advanced society. Unlike Nen, however, they didn’t focus their intent on developing robotics or infrastructure, but on medicine and further understanding of the world of physics and mathematics. Eventually, the scientists of Aela discovered that theirs was not the only world in existence, but there were hundreds more, all separated by a matter-less void that separated them. They started to call these worlds layers.
The discovery of the Worm, an impossibly large devourer that exists in between the void, was an enormous breakthrough for the Aelan scientists. A seemingly benign opening in the sky revealed their existence and created widespread hysteria. The energy readings that were emitted during the opening's short existence were off the charts, and soon the many minds of Aela were brainstorming ideas to harness this energy. After much experimentation, they succeeded: they were able to harness a small fragment of the power from the void. The only widely excepted theory was that this power was coming from the Worm.
This revolutionized Aelan technology. Suddenly, resources were infinite. They no longer had to rely on any other source of energy to power any of their technology. The Worm’s energy had healing properties, and was able to cure any disease. Those cured with the energy even developed an ability to shape and control it as the refined Worm particles went to work on their genetic makeup. The philosophers and artists were elated. Suddenly and without warning, Aela had the startling ability to start bringing mankind to its next level of existence.
Unfortunately, this did not come to pass. The energy of the Worm, while powerful, was corrupting. Many of the original scientists who developed the refinement technology had gone completely insane and began to disregard their own morals and ethics when it came to experimentation. Those in power found themselves growing greedy, and sought to keep the power of the worm to themselves. Those that gained their supernatural abilities thought themselves above those who did not, considering themselves to be “blessed.”
Eventually, over many centuries, Aela degraded. Their massive capital city lies behind an enormous magical shell called the Great Barrier which protects the city from the rest of the world. Outside the barrier lies the farms, where food artificially magicked is grown by the ones who are not lucky enough to be blessed by the Worm. Beyond the farms lies a land of twisted nightmares that few dare to explore. The sky is no longer blue, but full of undulating greens and purples, warped by the ever present stream of energy pollution coming from the void engineer’s experiments in the Jeno Morbenay.
The Jeno Morbenay is a massive ziggurat in the center of the capital city, and houses much of the central government of Aela. It is here that court is held and new strange laws are put into place. This happens on almost on a daily basis, and if an Aelan citizen has one thing to fear it is accidentally breaking a new law and being sent to one of the Prison Spheres that orbit the layer. Much of the courtesans are also Jeno Cultists, the caretakers of the building, and this colors the legislature. The highest treason in Aela is to blaspheme against the Worm.
Deeper in the Jeno Morbenay lie the laboratories of the void engineers. They maintain the energy flow from the Worm and measure the thickness of the layer’s walls. At one time the walls were measured as protection: if they are breached the Worm will devour everyone in the layer. However, as the engineers grew more and more insane they began to actively push to make the walls thinner. They say it brings them closer to the Worm. Recently, the void engineers' experiments have borne fruit. They have found a portal to another layer. Not a hole into the void, but a bridge between the void that seems to be beneath the notice of the Worm. This is very exciting news for much of Aela: new layer’s means an opportunity for more experimentation. What happens if a layer’s wall was to suddenly collapse? Can more energy be harnessed from the Worm by refining from another layer? An expeditionary crew has been assembled, and the Aelans have found themselves affected by wanderlust for the first time in centuries.