Death is always an option for writers, especially since death is a natural part of life. Heaven and Hell are concepts we’ve learned about from Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Although, there are many who are skeptical of religion and do not believe in an afterlife. For example, reincarnation is a concept of the afterlife found among Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, Rosicrucians, Theosophists, Spiritists, and Wiccans. Before that, you have varied concepts of the afterlife from the Fields of Elysium and Tartarus to Valhalla and Limbo.
For a writer, these varied concepts of what lies after death a part of the story. Sometimes, you don’t just kill a character. Part of their life story is their belief in what comes next. In my second book, The Dark Tides, Lord Baldrid, High King of the Elves, reflected on his own mortality as the Gil-Gamesh, Lord Bryan MoonDrake, is brought to Alfheimer
As the Queen and Lady Lyllodoria continued their conversation, Lord Baldrid stepped back to speak with Nevan.
“You have my deepest sympathies on your loss young Nevan Forest,” he said extending his hand to Nevan. Nevan shook his hand and bowed courteously. “Sir Thomas was a true friend of Alfheimer. He will be sorely missed.”
“Thank you Lord Baldrid, that means a lot,” Nevan said with humility. “I just hate that my first conversation with the Gil-Gamesh is to tell him of my father’s death. I really don’t want to add to his pain.”
“The news will hurt at first, but he will accept the solace in knowing that your father is now part of the magic that is Avalon. We all accept this as part of our own mortality.”
“Excuse me for asking milord, but aren’t Elves immortal?” Nevan
“We are, my young Captain, but even immortal beings can fall to the specter of death. It is something we all must face at one time in our lives. I have lived for more than 5,000 years and I still wonder when the day will come that I will walk, hand-in-hand, with Sehanine Moonbow, the Daughter of the Night Skies. It is something that haunts even me, but I have found that to reflect on death helps one appreciate the life you have.”
The myths and legends of the after in folklore can give a fantasy author, like me, the base for to rest on. In book three of the Forever Avalon series, The Outlander War (to be published later this year but available for preview now at Inkitt.com), I delve into two of these mythical realms beyond the grave … Purgatory and Vídbláin. Vídbláin is the mythical realm from Norse mythology where the survivors of Ragnarök will take shelter. It is also considered the afterlife where the Ljósálfar or Light Elves go when they die. That’s how I portrayed it in The Outlander War.
As for Purgatory, I have a more grim and dire description of that ungodly place. I imagined it like a combination of Valhalla and Hell, where fallen warriors go to reclaim their honor and earn their way into paradise. Here is an excerpt from The Outlander War that describes Purgatory in the world of Forever Avalon.
The Gates of Purgatory were as foul as any of the many levels of the underworld. The bones littered the ground from countless battles between the demons and undead creatures of the underworld that tried to escape to the real world. Only the Wraith Legion stood between them and spreading their evils in the world above.
The wraiths were fallen knights given penance to guard the gates for one thousand years to earn their place in paradise. They wore armored shells of plate mail, but instead of a helmet, a ghostly visage of a skull hovered over the top of the armor. It was a faceless reflection of their human life. Across their heart sat a fiery red gem—a heartstone. The gem beat with the blood of the wraith; powerful magic imbuing life into the soulless creature.
Beyond the gates lies the Retched Wasteland, a vast desert that separated the real world from Purgatory. The dark wastes burned from the fires of Hell below instead of the sun above. Anyone who made it past the wraiths usually found themselves lost in the dark recesses of the Retched Wasteland.
It was Plato who said, “The soul takes nothing with her to the next world but her education and her culture. At the beginning of the journey to the next world, one’s education and culture can either provide the greatest assistance or else act as the greatest burden, to the person who has just died.” Although this sounds a little more like reincarnation than the afterlife, I think it speaks of a higher purpose. We are taking all we are from this world into the next when we die. That’s a lot of baggage to bring with you. The stories of one’s life can be told by what you take with you into the next. That brings some peace and solace while others hope it is enough to earn them a place in the afterlife.
Whatever you believe, it is fertile ground for writers to express their own personal beliefs or maybe even explore new ideas within the stories they create.
Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse. The Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt and cast your vote to help me get it published.