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|“||The nightmarish world of endless mysteries and dangerous possibilities, and most empowered by forces beyond our understanding.||”|
Complete Living Nightmares
- "I've seen the world you created. In the oceans were deserts of bone. Fires filled the horizon. And everywhere I walked, there was screaming."
- — Shiro Yagamiro
Aincrad, also known as the Rebirth World, is a Gordian tangle of twisted spacetime seemingly created out of the enshrouding of the solar system. No star exists, light provided by numerous wormhole singularities glowing in the eternal sky, sucking in vast quantities of unknown substances and pouring them into the material plane. No apparent planetary mass exists either—instead, a gargantuan flat plane, named "An Incarnating Radius", exists as an endless expanse that loops back upon itself, with no way of escape.
Pyramids are visible in the "skies" of this flat world, some floating in place, others moving idly across following the path of thick cloud decks.
An impossible flat world, Aincrad contains an approximate one hundred trillion different world-types from the overtly hostile to the downright Gaian. The only apparent sapient inhabitants are "pure" Shadowkeepers, the true forms of the Black Fleet's armies, living shadows of no discernable appearance that yet move with a malevolent will. Solitary Vex collectives can be found attempting to convert portions of the sphere-world into computronium but are invariably repulsed by the terrain.
It is a treacherous place, littered with arcane clarketech devices that can destroy the unwary, oftentimes teleporting one straight into a trap or depositing them into a hostile biome, and more benign entities that don't immediately destroy intruders. The boundaries between world-types is difficult to perceive; one moment one is walking through a beautiful if eerie paradise, the next blasted apart by a lightning storm from a Jovian.
Shrouded in endless twilight, the only sources of light being endless singularities scattered about the skies and the beacons from passing or solitary pyramids, the landscape is a treacherous place. Massive groves of gigantic trees more than thrice the height of a Vex spire stretch into the skies, and not all of them are whole; hollow trunks filled with gelatinous, fleshy plantlike material, sometimes oozing with unidentifiable liquids, are common. The wildlife that can be encountered are twisted abominations of familiar creatures; moose and lions, for example, are walking corpse-like entities with fell, blazing eyes. The ocean waters are enchanted, and those that touch it are either gripped with instant madness or lose all semblance of identity. An endless fog or mist is all pervasive, sometimes dissolving into a dreary rain that doesn't let up for months at a time.
Ruins of ancient cities dot this hellscape, even in places where they shouldn't physically exist. Such locations include "The Last City" at every point of its existence from a collection of tiny huts on its outskirts to the continental megapolis dominating the center of an ocean more vast than a Jupiter-mass planet; and the "Vault of Glass" built inside a mountain greater than any in the enshrouded solar system, from all times of its existence. They are reconstructed into alien geometries, buildings and constructs flexing away in impossible orientations, looking as if they are quite capable of collapsing then and there.
In spite of the apparent endlessness, there is a specific direction and center—the enigmatic Watching Tower. Concealed behind thick shadows and pale mists, protected by endless walls and keeps, ranks upon ranks of battlements ascending, it is an ominous sentinel, its solitary baleful light acting as a dim sun. Pyramids can be seen docking or decoupling along its sheer length and departing to parts unknown. Its mass is regarded as infinite, and attempts to remotely measure its foundations return with confused readings, as the Tower is somehow both part of the literal bedrock and growing down from the skies.
The world of Aincrad is mysteriously ancient in spite of its apparent youth. Some believe that it is the remains of a formerly advanced civilization of high technological ability, while others claim that it is a nightmarish mishmash of all the different worlds the Black Fleet has consumed over endless myr. Attempts to date the Watching Tower place it at far older than the physical universe's expected heat death.
The Swordsman's Arrival
The Second Collapse
With the enshrouding of Sol completed, the landscapes of its multiple planets were drawn into Aincrad and distributed about the realm, fusing seamlessly with it. The Black Fleet returned to take watch up in the skies, while the wreckages and debris of the former defenders were deposited everywhere in gargantuan graveyards of poisonous scrap.
Those few who survived the enshrouding outright, and yet couldn't make it to the Realms of Glass, were quickly hunted to near extinction by the nightmarish denizens of Aincrad, including the Shadowkeepers and Nightmares. For them, time passed at a different rate from the material universe; for every year that moved outside, a thousand moved within. Eventually, even the strongest of the Lightbearers became twisted versions of themselves, endlessly reliving their numerous attempts at hopeful escape.
Rise of the Resistance
Retaking of Sol
As The Resistance and the physical fleets of the Hierarchy and Sanctuary moved to assault the J-nodes which guarded Sol, the incarnated Traveler, now in the body of Mallory Bertha, entered Aincrad and set off for the Watching Tower. With each step she tamed the nightmare world about her, granting trapped souls a final release. When she entered the Watching Tower, she was met by its avatar and champion—the Guardian. As the Black Swordsman and his Angel fought the physical armies of Light outside, Mallory fought the embodiment of Darkness.
With her sacrifice as the Traveler, Aincrad unmade itself, releasing Sol from the inside, and banished from the material plane. The Black Fleet's power was broken, but not destroyed. They would reform and reshape themselves, eventually, but for the present time they had been defeated, and Earth was freed. At the same time, The Guardian and their allies would revive Mal by linking her Light to a Ghost named Dizzy, but little did they know that the Swordsman and Angel's son Tatsuyi Kirigaya would reactivate a dimensional portal to Aincrad, resurrecting his parents and their armies as Nightmares in the process.
Season of the City
- Resistance's Foundation (Social Space)
- The Watching Tower (Landing Zone)
- The Abaddon (Landing Zone)
- Kotrik's Keep (Landing Zone)
- Bloodbound Dreadnaught (Landing Zone)
- Overlord's Dimension (Landing Zone)
- Beater Hunts
- Nightmare Ritual
- Aincrad is based on a location of the same name from Sword Art Online.