The Shadow and the Flame
An Incomprehensible Plane
Occasionally a small uncoloured sphere will appear somewhere on the Stair. It has been noted as doing so for thousands of years but no patterns as to where and when it occurs have been deduced, despite the speculation of the greatest mathemagicians of the Stair that a pattern must exist. Its exact size is impossible to determine – it is always as large as the hand (or what passes for a manipulating limb) of the Walker of the Stair that reaches out for it. If one should reach out for it, then they find it is a Door to a plane of reality that seems to defy rational explanation. An alien and incomprehensible plane of entities that may or may not be alive and whose actions within this vacuum of context are impossible to derive meaning from. If it wasn’t for observers reporting that the grasping Stair-walker actually vanishes and is no longer reachable by any known method of communication magical and mundane until (if) they return, many would question if it existed at all and wasn’t just a figment of the imagination or an urban myth.
The plane itself is a uniformly greenish-yellow-grey, translated into concepts that carry the meaning of these colours no matter how your vision-system operates. Floor, walls, ceiling, sky, horizon – all meaningless constructs here. However your normal locomotion works, it works as if you were at home. Fliers will fly as if in their home atmosphere. Swimmers will swim as if in a homeworld ocean. Walkers will walk as if on solid supporting terrain that happens to follow the direction they wish to take in any dimension. No shadows are cast and no light source can be determined. Gravity seems to operate by consensus of the closest cluster of nearby objects. There is no temperature detectable and yet it is clearly not Absolute Zero. Sound carries as if in a wide open space of whatever medium an individual is moving through, with no echo reflections of anything except other nearby objects. Nothing within the plane generates any sound waves, chemical signals or radiation beyond the undefinable illumination. Any form of sensing and scanning returns nothing at all beyond nearby objects. There is no up or down beyond locally-determined direction, and no north or south at all. There are no borders or edges – no features to the realm whatsoever. Eidolon and Umbra are unrecognisable here and have nothing for manipulative powers to grasp upon. There is nothing to hang sorcery off beyond nearby objects. Other powers can work as normal but nothing yet discovered can reach into or out of this plane, not even Icons.
Those of the Stair that grasp for the Door sphere will find themselves and their immediate belongings (witting or unwitting) somewhere in the plane. Perhaps the sphere will stick around for some time and more people can use it, or perhaps it will discorporate instantly. A sentient entity cannot bring another sentient entity with them unless they too have reached for the Door sphere. Occasionally a Door sphere will appear once inside the realm and grasping that will transport the individual and their immediate belongings back onto the Stair. Besides items that visitors bring with them, the only other objects to have ever been found in the realm are countless numbers of hovering spheres approximately 20cm in diameter made of a material that might be an organic ceramo-metal, or it might not be. Scanners and scrying return no conclusive data. It is not known if they are even alive and any attempts to reach out to possible mindforms fizzle out. The sphere entities have complex surfaces with nodules and shallow, wide cones that protrude outwards from time to time. Colouration is hard to place – the same hues as the plane itself but more reflective. At any given moment they might be nowhere to be seen, or there might be hundreds of thousands of them as far as can be detected. They may organise in a grid fashion and move neatly around whoever might be visiting, or they might remain motionless and immovable to all known force. Some have tried attacking them but none have found a means of inflicting any damage, and a few of those have instantly vanished for their troubles never to be seen again. The entities have been observed taking long chains of actions; unanimously or independently; in concert or in opposition. No one has successfully figured out what any of it might mean, even those who have remained observing in the plane for years at a time. Sometimes they will respond to a visitor in some manner, although what the meaning of the response might be is pure speculation. At other times visitors are completely ignored and there is no reaction at all. The only consensus seems to be that they are not initially hostile towards a visitor.
Naturally this plane is an endless source of questions with few answers. What exactly is it? What is going on there? Why does it connect to the Stair? Who made it or found it? Why do the laws of Physics not apply evenly within it? What are the floating entities about? What happened to those that that aggressed the entities and were vanished? Is it all some sort of elaborate ancient prank or it is a bridge or ‘lobby plane’ to realities so vastly outside the norms of the Stair that they cannot be comprehended by those who cannot understand this incomprehensible plane?