This is the first in a series of articles I will be publishing explaining various elements of the world of the Saga of Nine Rings, and what better place to start than the setting itself? This and those following will contain a lot of background information that didn’t make it into the story.
The Sea of Spirits Galaxy possesses a structure not observed anywhere else in the known universe. It is comprised of nine individual rings, orbiting inside of one another around a supermassive black hole at the centre, and separated mostly by empty space. The reason behind how the galaxy came to possess such a unique and uniform structure has baffled the greatest minds across all intelligent species, and remains one of its great mysteries. The species known to the galaxy as the Relb’qur gave each ring its own name, most likely for the purposes of navigation. The names of the rings, from smallest to largest, are as follows: Haleona, Pranchia, Obaronor, Calessani, Sintus, Icaetennas, Ranuulan, Triantus, and Aragana. The reasons behind the individual names are uncertain though the most widely accepted theory is that they were of some religious significance to the Relb’qur, possibly the names of deities or other god-like figures. Over two thousand years after their extinction at the hands of the Chinchi, the names of the rings of the Sea of Spirits are almost all that remains of the Relb’qur.
Its unique structure is not the only thing that makes the Sea of Spirits stand out among its interstellar peers. The Sea of Spirits is also one of the largest galaxies in the known universe, with a diameter of approximately 300,000 light years, or 92Kpc. It is estimated to contain around three trillion stars with just as many, if not more, planets; only a tiny fraction of which have been explored. The spaces between the rings are mostly empty although they do contain some disparate star systems. Over 99.9% of the stars in the Sea of Spirits are estimated to reside within the rings themselves. Each of the rings possess approximately the same thickness at about 1.1 Kpc. The galaxy has a rotational period of approximately 170 Myr, or 170 million years.
The Sea of Spirits was formed by a series of collisions between four smaller galaxies, termed S-1, S-2, S-3, and S-4 respectively. These collisions took place over a period of roughly three billion years, S-1 and S-2 colliding to form the galaxy known as Spirit Prime which then absorbed S-3 and S-4 to form the Sea of Spirits. It is unknown if the galaxy assumed its current structure as a result of these collision events or if this took place long afterwards. The Sea of Spirits didn’t come into being until billions of years after the beginning of the universe, but the four galaxies that converged to form it were much older, and contained some of the oldest stars in the universe. Some of these stars continue to exist in the Sea of Spirits today, the oldest of which is known as Tybulta.
The Sea of Spirits has three satellite galaxies: Apparon’s Reach, Valantaya’s Gate and the Celestial Whirlpool. The names of the first two are also believed to have been coined by the Relb’qur while the third’s has been lost to history, or perhaps it was never discovered by the Relb’qur, and has thus been given a far less perplexing name by modern astronomers. Apparon’s Reach is the closest to the Sea of Spirits and is expected to collide with and be absorbed by it sometime in the next five hundred million years. The nearest major galaxy to the Sea of Spirits is the Emestebus Galaxy, a spiral galaxy located approximately 2.15 million light years away. The Sea of Spirits is expected to collide with Emestebus in approximately 4.25 billion years. Both are part of a group of nearby major galaxies known as the Local Intergalactic Region, which, in turn, forms a part of the Nybala Supercluster, one of the largest in the observable universe.
Despite being billions of years old and in spite of the abundance of technology to facilitate it, very little of the history of the Sea of Spirits is recorded. The earliest known intelligent life to emerge in the galaxy is the Relb’qur, who are believed to have emerged some five hundred thousand years ago, a small fraction of the eight and a half billion years the Sea of Spirits has existed for. Nothing is known about what happened in the galaxy between the emergence of the Relb’qur and the rise of their empire, nor is it known if anything existed before. No evidence of any intelligent species older than the Relb’qur has ever been discovered although that is not to say that it doesn’t exist or never did. The Sea of Spirits is almost unimaginably huge, teeming with all manner of life, and comparatively few of its worlds have been explored. It may yet come to light that there are many much older species lurking within its farthest reaches, and possibly with technology far beyond anything developed in the known galaxy thus far.
The space constituting the modern Sea of Spirits has been carved up between several factions. The largest of these is the Aq Quhn Ran Asten Empire which claims roughly a third of the galaxy, followed the Imperium and the Free People’s Republic each taking up approximately a quarter. The reminder is held by the United Galactic Confederacy and Neutral Free States, both dwarfed and surrounded in all sides by their largely unfriendly neighbors. Tensions are particularly high between theoConfederacy and the Imperium, the latter openly hostile towardthe former. The friction between the two has grown to near critical levels in recent years and the possibility of open warfare is seen by most as inevitable. If war were to break out, it would mean terrible consequences for the galaxy and even, possibly, threaten all life that dwells within it.
Being the world that my story takes place in, the Sea of Spirits was, naturally, one of the first elements that I came up with. It’s been so long since I first began writing the Saga of Nine Rings that I can’t remember much of what was going through my head when I was first developing these foundational elements. I think I went with setting my story in a fictional galaxy in a fictional universe because I didn’t want to be constrained by the history or properties of our own world and instead work from a blank slate which would allow me to write whatever I wanted without having to worry so much about whether or not it made sense. As for the nine-ringed structure of the galaxy itself, I decided upon this because I wanted the world to have some kind of unique physical aspect that would set it apart from all the other fantasy/sci-fi worlds out there, and I haven’t heard of any that have done this; so there you go. I gave it the name it has because I wanted it to have a name that would inspire a sense of mystery and intrigue, something that made it seem like there was always more going on than what meets the eye, kind of like our own universe, now that I think about it.