Grim Underworld

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The gates leading to the Grim Underworld.

The Grim Underworld, known as Niflheim to the Fremennik,[1] and more commonly simply the Underworld, is a world parallel to Gielinor. It is the liminal space through which a soul passes on their journey to their final resting place — the afterlife.[2] The Underworld is fraught with danger, most notably the soul-devouring beasts of the goddess Amascut. The protector and guide of the souls passing through the Underworld is Amascut's brother and rival Icthlarin, god of the Underworld.

The entrance to the Grim Underworld is found deep beneath the surface of Gielinor, through the gates across the River Noumenon, the river that marks the boundary between the land of the living and the dead.[2] It may be accessed through Death's door in his office. Another passage to the Underworld can be found in the Sophanem Slayer Dungeon, called the First Gate. It leads to the necromancer Oreb, who appears to control the crossing. Further access down the crossing is blocked by two barriers.

The Grim Underworld is exclusively the Underworld of the planet Gielinor. Other worlds in the universe have Underworlds of their own.[3] Those with especially strong attachments to another world may find themselves drawn to that world's Underworld instead,[4] as is the case with the Fremennik.[1] Underworlds are also not to be confused with afterlives. Whereas each world has only one Underworld, they have a nigh-infinite amount of afterlives within them, created from the beliefs and unconscious expectations of the souls that inhabit them.[3]

Within the Underworld can be found Underworld rocks, from which can be derived a unique Underworld metal; and Underworld roots, which are composed of a unique kind of wood.

The journey of the dead[edit | edit source]

After a person has died, Death untethers their soul from their body with his scythe. He then deposits them by the gates to the Underworld where Icthlarin stands guard. [5] Once enough souls have amassed on the bridge, Icthlarin marches them through the Underworld in an orderly formation.[6] Icthlarin leads them through the darkness with the light of his green torch and protects them from Amascut's devourer beasts, which roam the Underworld in packs. Once the souls reach their afterlives, Icthlarin returns to his post at the gates of the Underworld to do it all again. Over time, some souls are inevitably lost to the monsters. Icthlarin takes the loss of these souls very seriously, as a personal failure.[7]

All underworlds, including the Grim one, have in common that whoever is the first to ever die on that realm becomes the escorter of the dead, as was the case with Harold Death.[8]

Previously, Amascut served as a goddess of rebirth and would have offered worthy souls the opportunity to be reincarnated. With Amascut having gone mad, this duty now also falls to Icthlarin, making reincarnations rarer.[9]

The Demon butler Alathazdrar claims to have once served as a ferryman on the River Noumenon, but left to pursue other interests in Gielinor and the Infernal Dimensions.[10] This suggests that the Grim Underworld is not necessarily impossible to enter or leave at will, which is further demonstrated with the reincarnation of Robert the Strong into Bob the cat.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

Concept art of the River Noumenon, and gates to the Underworld.
  • The Grim Underworld is similar to, if not the same as, the Hades in Greek Mythology. The reference of Alathazdrar is similar to Charon and the ferry refers to the boat that Charon uses to ship others across the River Styx.
  • Niflheim is the name of a similar place in real-world Norse mythology.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. ^ a b Mod Chaose. "Lore Q&A." 12 February, 2015. Lore forum Forums. Q: How do the Fremennik have both a spiritual realm and the Niflheim as afterlife? A: This comes largely from Fremmennik folklore and simply not knowing. While they do indeed have two afterlifes, deep connections to their ancestors and the old culture take them to the afterlife of their home world. Niflheim is Gielinor's underworld, and isn't necessarily an equivalent of hell.
  2. ^ a b Book of the Underworld, written by Thaerisk Cemphier, "Missing Presumed Death", RuneScape. "He then brings the souls he has harvested deep beneath the surface of Gielinor, to the only crossing of an endless river which separates the realms of the living and the dead; the River Noumenon. . . . As far as I can tell the Realm of the Dead is separated into three regions. On the far bank of the river are the gates of the Underworld, past the gates is the Underworld itself and beyond the Underworld is the afterlife"
  3. ^ a b Death, "Nomad's Elegy", RuneScape. "there is one Underworld per world. Gielinor's Underworld is separate from say Tarddiad or Freneskae. But whilst there is but one Underworld, there are many afterlives. Perhaps as many as there are people, or at least as many as there are beliefs. The afterlives are places of pure spirit, or will, and they are shaped by their inhabitants and their unconscious expectations.." Post-Quest Dialogue
  4. ^ Book of the Underworld, written by Thaerisk Cemphier, "Missing Presumed Death", RuneScape. "Most people considering Gielinor as their home will pass on to this Underworld, but some with different home worlds may go to their own."
  5. ^ Icthlarin, "Missing Presumed Death", RuneScape. "I stand my vigil at the gates of Gielinor's Underworld. . . . It is there that Death delivers the souls he has collected, so I may safely shepherd them to the afterlife."
  6. ^ Korasi, "Nomad's Elegy", RuneScape. "Death collected me after my death and took me to the bridge, where a number of others waited. There Icthlarin marched us in formation past assorted monsters, which he held at bay. It was well organised and flawlessly executed. I can get behind someone with that sort of precision." Post-Quest Dialogue
  7. ^ Book of the Underworld, written by Thaerisk Cemphier, "Missing Presumed Death", RuneScape. "Icthlarin shepherds the souls through a gauntlet of a devourer beasts of his sister - Amascut's - creation, which roam the Underworld in packs relentlessly searching for souls to consume. According to Death, Icthlarin protects them until they reach the afterlife and can be released; guiding them through the darkness with his blazing, green torch. He then dutifully returns to his post. Death tells me that inevitably some souls are devoured and lost forever. Perhaps unfairly, Icthlarin takes responsibility for this and bears the weight on his shoulders."
  8. ^ Jagex. Above the Lore Episode 10 - Missing Presumed Death Mod Osborne Above the Lore podcast, 23 September 2013.
  9. ^ Ka, "2015 Halloween event", RuneScape. "Amascut was once responsible for rebirth, but now Icthlarin must fulfil that duty as well as his own. This is why it has become increasingly rare for a soul to be reincarnated."
  10. ^ Alathazdrar, RuneScape. "I have also worked in the Grim Underworld, escorting the souls of the dead to their final abodes. But the incessant shadows and hellfire weary me, so I have come to serve mortal masters in the realms of light."