The Bush of Ghosts, which also goes by the Dark Kingdom of Ivory, is the Shadowlands for the abambo, or the wraiths of Africa. While the Dark Kingdom of Ivory wants to have very little to do with the other Dark Kingdoms, it has crossed paths with them on the odd occasion, usually thanks to the interference of Stygia, the Dark Kingdom of Iron.
The Shadowlands of Africa are mostly rural. While areas of civilization appear much as they do in other Dark Kingdoms (decaying and decrepit), the broad areas of vegetation and wildlife, called the Bush, appear remarkably similar to their living counterparts. On clear days, rays from the sun pierce the Shroud and light up the sky. Even ancient trees that were lost in the Skinlands appear to be alive and healthy in the Bush. In spite of its living appearance, the atmosphere through the Bush has a dark and sinister flavor to it, and amambo are reluctant to travel through it without companions.
The Bush of Ghosts is surrounded by the Ocean, roughly equivalent to the Sea of Shadows. Unlike the Tempest surrounding Stygia and certain other Dark Kingdoms, Byways through the Ocean are almost impossible to find, and only amambo with focus and instinct can find their way through.
Outsiders to the Bush of Ghosts see it as one massive kingdom, much like Stygia is to the western dead or the Yellow Springs are to the dead of far east Asia. The kingdom is ruled over by the Ivory Queen, an elusive and enigmatic figure who has complete control over her subject and rarely allows contact with the other Dark Kingdoms.
In truth, all outsiders to the Dark Kingdom of Ivory arrive at a specially created settlement which is used to present a false and united front to would-be traders and invaders. The Ivory Queen is a figurehead and the so-called Dark Kingdom is the only place where the non-abambo are allowed in the Bush of Ghosts. The true Bush of Ghosts consists of several settlements called Lost Kingdoms with their own customs, government, and alliances. Settlements are usually ruled over by an Orisha, or an especially powerful spirit that some living worship or worshiped as a god.
Oddly, the existence of the Bush of Ghosts seems to predate not only the other Dark Kingdoms, but Africa itself. The Bush was used by a group called the Old Gods as a place of final rest and peace for animals, who predate humans. When the humans came along, they were incorporated into the land of the dead. Thus, animal ghosts of the Bush exist alongside human ones. They are more intelligent than they were in life, are able to communicate freely with abambo, and have friends and allies among the humans. Unfortunately, some tension seems to be building between the two as the living force animals into extinction and crowd the Bush with creatures dead before their time. Some animal spirits have been known to attack abambo villages in retaliation for their early death.
The living also play a strong role in the existence of the dead, as many African cultures deem ancestral respect a large part of their traditions. The dead help the living, and in return the living offer the appropriate sacrifices and show of appreciation. Many Orisha depend on this generosity for their very existence, as few of them have any Fetters remaining. However, new generations of Africans are being raised on Western traditions and religions such as Christianity and Islam. Many of these Quick do not learn about respect for their ancestors, and several abambo find themselves short on Pathos and resources to continue existing.
A few living sorcerers, however, attempt to control the anina or any ghost, good or evil, man or animal; these individuals are seen as corrupt and evil, for slavery is a cruel and relentless fate whether the individual is alive or dead. Many fear and persecute these sorcerers. In contrast, doctors who live in a village maintain good relationships with the dead and frequently act as mediators in conflicts that run between the Shroud.
Unlike the dead of Stygia and the Yellow Springs, an ibambo will see four parts to their being:
- The Soul, which roughly corresponds to the Psyche.
- The Shadowself, which corresponds to the Shadow.
- The Dreamself, which leaves the body during regular sleep. In an ibambo, this is the part that can channel and control Pathos.
- The Heartlife, which is the connections between the dead and the Skinlands; this is roughly equivalent to an ibambo's Fetters.