The light-swallowing haze.
Afterlight is at its essence a haze that forms across the land. It is a mask birthed over the face of Teora that naturally blocks out natural light. Small floating particles emanate from the altered ground, commonly referred to as 'strains.' We believe these strains contain the airborne substance that plagues those who enter the Afterlight.
Inside a patch of Afterlight float hundreds of thousands of these strains as they are the size of a small insect and are abundant as the ripples in the ocean. We further believe them to be where natural light gets soaked up inside the haze. This doesn’t mean that one can’t see anything inside the haze. There is still the light from the reflections and refractive light these strains cast.
Strains in the dark.
Strains float suspended in air and frequently move either upward or downward like a slow rain or snowfall. When swinging a physical object through strains, they will oscillate slightly and reform back into their initial positions. This shows some tangibility; However, its elasticity defies reason. The strains do not move when subject to heavy winds nor can one breathe them in. When passing through them the effects of the Afterlight afflict the individual.
The first of these effects is fatigue, depression, and a loss of self-worth. This appears within the first few minutes of staying in the Afterlight and progressively becomes worse the longer one is subject to the haze. The effects usually diminish within five to ten minutes after departing the haze, however, when re-entering the haze, the potency of the pains hit fast and hard bringing the individual right back to where they left off when they last escaped the haze.
The second wave of effects usually occurs around fifteen to twenty minutes in which thoughts of self-harm come in. We have found these thoughts to follow the individual during nightmares the night following their exposure. Within twenty-five minutes to half an hour the individual encounters, a considerable deal of animosity to others and will lash out, sometimes violently.
These fits of rage also follow the person out of the haze and will surface throughout the week after exposure. When exposed up to an hour, the individuals become anywhere from hyper-violent or suicidal while inside. Residual effects last a week or two after emerging.
We believe these effects come from being near strains. The strains manifest in greater numbers depending upon the intensity of the haze. We have developed a measurement system that measures the density of strains per square foot known as the AL System named after Alban Leratus, a leading scientist devoted to the research of the Afterlight. He established a scale of intensity that starts at AL1.0, which increases in intensity up to AL10.0.
Shadows among us.
The Afterlight is also the home to a myriad of creatures that are most often referred to as 'shadows.' It is the aptest description when first encountering the Afterlight it's abundantly clear that your shadow no longer functions as you would expect. The reality of the shadows is much grimmer, as there are creatures that manifest in the Afterlight that are inherently aggressive and vicious towards everyone and everything that sets foot into the haze.
We call the most common of these shadows 'Sacramanti.' The Sacramanti received their name at the beginning of the Second Era when Ahiri soldiers unearthed an enormous complex of catacomb-like prisons that accommodated these Sacramanti. They found ancient inscriptions with runes written in blood, suggesting that the runes could control the creatures. Upon replication of these runes with fresh blood, they could manage the Sacramanti.
This sacrifice of blood needed to create the runes is where the name Sacramanti came from. 'Sacra-' a shorthand of sacrifice, and '-manti,' the old Jistorii world for 'blood.'
We believe the second most common shadows of the Afterlight to be those of malevolent spirits. Although any spirit can manifest in the Afterlight, as it works as a bridge between worlds, those of a malevolent nature are the ones that ordinarily show face. They are far less ruinous than the Sacramanti, but still can drain the essence and physical stamina of those who set foot in the Afterlight. Spirits have shown that they are capable of communication and mostly speak short words or phrases.
Where did it come from?
Afterlight has been a constant for most of Teora's history, although first documented traces came long before the age of Jistorii, when the Avian and Karakai were the predominant races. This was before the First Era around 600-500 PFA (Pre-First Era). An Avian bass relief described the haze as,
There are many depictions and carvings in the Avian ruins of this haze with humanoid creatures with elongated appendages chasing and ravaging their people and towns. These depictions increase in frequency around 530 PFA, which suggests a large spread increase in the volume of Afterlight on Teora. This is also around the same time period in which the word 'Tsuwarit,' started to appear in a few Avian texts, describing a predecessor race to the Avians. This name became synonymous with the Avian term 'Jaeyasim,' or 'transcendent.' It is unclear if this relates to the Afterlight, however shortly after this time period we see a sharp decrease in mentions of the Afterlight.
Afterlight doesn't flare up again in history until the end of the First Era with the revealing of these ancient catacombs beneath the volcano on Ahir known to the inhabitants as Vulcanar. The Ahiri were searching for an ancient weapon wielded by the Avian during the great wars near the end of the Pre-First Era. The Ahiri found a door with a seal.
It is said that the opening of this door marked the beginning of the Second Era and an end to the era of peace that the Avian and Karakai had struggled so hard to cultivate with Jistorii and other races. They labeled the individual who opened the door the Angel of Death as his actions would set the stage for the mass genocide of entire populations for generations to come.