“An unfathomable, grey void, inhabited by the dead, the cosmic and the unknowable.” – That is how a surviving riftborne human from the distant realm of Stradgorf described the realm between realms. A place that is physical, yet unreal. A place that ignores all our petty laws of physics and common sense. A place between places. It is known by many names. The Void. The Warp. The Great Grey. But, it is most often called the In Between.
The In Between is, simply, a universe that simultaneously exists and doesn’t exist, between the physical realms. If it is to be likened to anything that we can understand, then the closest comparison would be an ocean. A colossal, alien expanse that can be used to traverse worlds.
Within this alien void, time means little. While it sometimes passes, it most often does not. There is no set time zone, or even ratio to how long a second in the In Between lasts in the physical realms. Some survivors of the In Between have reported being lost in the In Between for days, only to return to their world with only seconds passing. While some, maddened by their experience, were lost in the In Between for mere seconds, returning to a world that had progressed hundreds of years.
And, that is, if they return at all. The vast majority of those who enter the In Between never return. After the Cataclysm, it is almost unheard of for anyone to return from being rifted into the In Between.
Rifts, created through riftmancy or as a freak occurrence caused by the Cataclysm, open holes into the In Between. Victims are then pulled into the void. If intentional, they would have made provisions to aid their transit. Magical wings, void-resistant vessels, celestial bridges. But if a freak accident, as all post-Cataclysm rifts are, then they would be pulled into the vast greyness and thrown about, until another random rift deposited them on a foreign realm.
This assumes they manage to leave the In Between at all. Without riftmancy, which would allow one to open a rift from the In Between, it is up to fate and dumb luck.
While there is no oxygen, or any identifiable gas, in the In Between, one does not need to breathe in it. Our need to breathe is just one of the laws that the In Between disregards. But some survivors have reported that, as rifts open up, they have begun to suffocate as physical laws have bled into the void.
This has led some to theorise that the In Between is a blank canvass between the physical realms. The empty page before creation. As it becomes exposed to created worlds, it begins to mimic its nature. But this is not confirmed or disproven.
What the In Between Looks Like
The In Between is vast, seamless, yet confined and claustrophobic. Those who have traversed it report a confusing, chaotic and abstract domain. A place simultaneously grey and devoid of life, while full of swirling, indescribable colours and cosmic explosions. It has been likened to the bottom of the ocean, to space, and to abstract paintings.
Most often, those who find themselves in the In Between will fall forever into its infinite abyss, but sometimes will find a semblance of a physical environment. Rubble from the ruins of eldritch empires. Celestial bridges left by the Seraphim. Left-overs from long lost travellers.
This all adds to the alien nature of the In Between. For it isn’t a vacuum or pure void. It does contain life and evidence of existence. It is the crossroads between all the realms, after all.
Inhabitants of the In Between
While the In Between is not traditionally inhabitable for most, it does have residents. Eldritch, mysterious creatures float like deep sea fish within the void, hunting the spirits of those who have died and not found themselves in a specific afterlife.
Spirits of various types, shapes, origins and forms find themselves wandering the In Between, sometimes drifting into our world with or without the help of rifts. The In Between has also become the home of demons, called voidcreeps, who exist simultaneously within the void and whatever reality they now infect.
There are other inhabitants of the In Between, however. Their existence has never been proven. But this has done nothing to stop the whispers of beings disappearing into nothingness. Able to traverse the In Between as easily as one strolls to the shop, and able to manipulate the very fabric of reality at a whim.
It is said that these Voidwalkers were torn apart by the void and became a part of it. More than a spirit or demon. Existing within the void, but able to project themselves onto the physical realm.
Perhaps, these legends are just that. Legends. But if there is such a thing as a human being who can control the In Between, this person would doubtless be one of the most powerful beings across all realms.
The In Between is the foundation of the multi-realms of the Katverse and the Cataclysm. All magic, monsters and myths that now make up our world crossed through this not-realm. And, while it may be ignored now as an abstract crossroads, it still exists as the frontier of our existence, and the place which will determine the fate of all realms.
Interested in learning more about the In Between? Then make sure to check out the Kat Drummond Series, where Kat battles the forces of darkness and the In Between for the survival of Hope City.