“My sins are all my own,
and for them I will pay my tithe.
Flesh, blood, whatever is required,
In Galbrach my soul will be cleansed,
To earn my place among the virtuous
In the lands of perpetual Spring” – Cemirian Prayer
Not all those who died do wake up in the flowered plains of Cemiria. Some souls are weighed down by the earthly misdeeds of the past, tarnishing it and defiling its pure and divine nature. Those whose sins require to be washed are sent to Galbrach, a purgatory-like plane of existence. In Cemirian beliefs, virtuous and chaste souls are weightless as feathers, locked prone to this world by material bodies. In death, they are freed to sour to the heavens. It is our sins, misdeeds, and affronts to the gods that cause them do become heavy and unable to rise to the heavenly world of the Meadows of Eternity. They end up slumping into the underworld of Galbrach, to wait for their sentence and appropriate penitence. The interesting thing about it is that Galbrach is not the tormenting abyss so common in many creeds (especially when compared to the Ivellian‘s Red Palace), but a place for introspection, expiation, and eventually redemption. Scholars who muse over the evolution of the Cemirian creed’s evolution in Slygon (with heightened importance given to the years of the Ascendancy‘s reign) have postulated that this might have been due to the need to please all sects and cults: to have a place where evil actions were sanctioned by unspeakable means (therefore acting as a deterrent), but one where Man could rise up its place as a higher being and shed the influence of its animal instincts before joining its Makers.
Flaming Heads by Andrew Bosley
Sentences are passed on by the Judges, servants of Father Thorio. These floating skulls made of metal and stone are omnipotent in Galbrach, seeing, listening, understanding, and knowing everything about a miscreant’s past life. This trial for one’s soul, where deeds good and evil are weight, and all situations are weight in a just and complete manner, is called The Tribunal by the Cemirian believers. It is a moment to face one’s errors, but also to show shame and atonement. Lying is possible, yet futile: the Judges cannot be tricked and swindled. What happens at the Tribunal is very much dependent on the creed that the local populace practiced before the arrival of the Cemirian wave: some have it just being a readout of deeds and weighing them on a scale; others state there is some disputing and discussing like in a courtroom, with attenuating and aggravating circumstances are thoroughly discussed; a few would defend that the Judges just stand in silence over the accused one, while the nefarious actions of the past flood his/her brain. Regardless, if one is in Galbrach, it is because its past conduct leads its soul to be driven there. And the only way out… is through repentance.
nether portal by peter mohrbacher
Also native to Galbrach are the Keepers. Completely devoted to the Judges, these eyeless, mouthless beings operate the machinery that punishes the wicked according to the edicts passed on at the end of their judgment. As well as the Judges, their origins are shrouded in mystery, often being said the Keepers came from the lost limbs of the judges’ now absent bodies. Their bodies are chained to the land of Galbrach, being said they will be released from their shackles once the end of times come and every living and past being is welcomed to the Eternal Lands. Until that day comes, they crack the machines, pull the leavers, and admonish per the Judges’ decisions. Passionless. Driven by that sole purpose. In a particularly unique fringe of the Cemirians, now exterminated by the Narberus and Kodokunans, the Keepers were said to have mirrors in the place of faces, where the sinners saw reflected in them, time and time again, all their impure thoughts, actions, dreams, and feelings. It is a rather poetic view for creatures that recently have been transfigured into the deranged and savage Blood Spawn.
Cover picture: Moaning Wall / MTG by Piotr Jabłoński
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