How does one describe color to one who is blind? In a similar matter, how can one describe time to someone who cannot see it?
Time is all around us. We feel it pass, we sense it is there, we sense our existence in it, but through all of this, the real notion of time eludes us. For we as humans to be able to visualize something such as time is as seemingly absurd as it is for a cartoon character to be able to visualize a world that is in three dimensions. It is alien to us, and so we have trouble describing it.
To aide in this understanding, I decided to write this little set of notes. This way, you can be clear on the terminology I (and the rest of the WoI) am using through the story.
This lack of ability to understand time is only aggravated by the fact that someone relatively new to time (only 18 years of it have passed me by) is trying to describe it. Readers, I understand quite well if you are lost: there are times when I write when I am quite lost myself. These moments of loss tend to come because I am a) trying to describe things in many more dimensions than we normally comprehend, and b) I can only draw two-dimensional representations of our six dimensional Multiverse.
The Multiverse is, for all practical purposes, our way of explaining a six dimensional construct of a Universe. Yes, there is history behind it and yes, it is there to represent that every possible final outcome can be equally represented on a 6D scale, but in my opinion, its main purpose is to serve as a possible model of how things can be explained.
Im going to skip that elementary stuff about dots and lines and what makes up the first three dimensions. You already knew that, right?
Now, I like to picture the forth dimension (Time) as a piece of string, and lets call that string a Time Line or Time Stream. If you were to take a cross-section of that string at any given point, that would represent the entirety of the three dimensional universe at that given point in time. Easy, right?
Next, assume that every time a point on that string in which multiple possibilities arise, the string splits, creating a new string so that each of the possibilities are expressed in the overall model.
Of course, what ends up happening is that this string, which might start out as a single strand, will be splitting continuously at an exponent which is probably somewhere around infinity. As this string expands outward and continues to produces numerous strands, it forms somewhat of a web. It is this web that we like to call the Multiverse.
Next: Planes of Existence, The fifth dimension. Remember how we took the cross-section of that piece of string and called it the three dimensional universe? Now consider different layers of existence within that cross section. This is a bit weird, as these layers overlap each other and exist simultaneously with each other (they share the same 3D and 4D locations). The difference is that they are located in different planar, or fifth dimensional, locations.
What we have now is a multi-level, three dimensional world. The different levels of this three dimension world include the Physical Plane (physical level), the Astral Plane (spirit level), the Ethereal Plane (magic level), and numerous more which are not as important. Sometimes, these Planes come together naturally (such as when Ether leaks into the Physical Plane for use amongst sorcerers) or mechanically (such as when the LEA used Chaos-Engines to move their ships into the Outer-Planes for travel), but for the most part they remain separate for those who cannot see the difference.
Okay, now it gets kind of tricky. Each of these strands represents the five dimensions of a three-dimensional universe right? Because different strands will all be different in some form or another (this could be as negligible as a rock being out of place or as widespread as planets and empires not existing), the different strands are called Parallel Dimensions or Alternate Dimensions. So when you look at two of them at once, youre looking at things in six dimensions. Ergo, we come to the Multiverse, which would then technically represent the total, six dimensional model of everything that could possibly come to pass. Neat, eh?
To confuse you even more, physicists have something called String Theory, which may or may not conflict what Ive stated here. Lucky for you all, I intend to learn about this String Theory when I get a chance, so I can change even more stuff to try to be more scientifically correct. Good times.
All right, so youre down with this Multiverse stuff. So what the hell is the Nexus, right? And, while Im at it, what on Terra is the Daggers Edge? As it happens, this is real simple too. For all practical purposes, these guys are like the beginning and the end. The Nexus is the area where creation occurred and the Multiverse sprung outward. Its also where our notion of Heaven is, as well as all the Angels and Devils (which we call Ethereals and Dark Ethereals). The Daggers Edge is the thin, barely-there barrier that exists between the farthest (though dont get tricked into thinking in 3D; this is actually measured in 4D) point the Multiverse has reached and the Chaos that lies beyond.
So now we get to the kicker, and as far as Planeswalkers and Lavoids are concerned, this is probably the most important thing.
I think I ended up confusing a lot of people with this, mostly because in the manner in which I integrated it, as well as its similarity to Lavoid Energy.
Basically, Chaos is everywhere, just not within these Planes of Existence. If you think of that web that we were talking about before, Chaos is everything thats not a part of that web. Because the planes fall within the individual time streams, we call Chaos an Extra-Planar force because it exists outside of the planes. Easy, right?
Chaos is, as weve mentioned over and over, an extremely powerful source of energy because each molecule is moving with the highest randomness and highest kinetic energy value that it is capable of. Drawing on this power, if one can contain it, allows for manipulations of very powerful magic, but the only creatures that typically do that are the Planeswalkers and the Lavoids (containing it is another issue, measured by a Capacity Value, which is a comparative number when looking at power levels of Planeswalker and Lavoids).
These species include a segment in their DNA that codes for a structure in their cells called the Jurai Apparatus. It can be likened to chloroplasts in plants. The Jurai Apparatuses can absorb Chaos into the planes, store it, and convert it into raw energy. When it is released, it takes the form of either magic, or the Black Wings, which is an offshoot of Chaos or Lavoid Energy.
So how is Lavoid Energy different from Chaos? Basically, when the original Lavoids were created, the engineers gave them genetic limiters that prevented them from absorbing Pure Chaos. They thought that Chaos in its pure form gave the Lavoid too much power, and so they decided to keep that power in check.
To this day, all Lavoids but the Queens have these limiters in one form or another, placing a cap on the purity of the Chaos that their cells absorb. This un-pure Chaos is Lavoid energy. It is a result of the alteration of the energy within the cells of the Lavoid, making it less potent. A mid level Class A might be able to express 90% pure Chaos, while a Class D might only be able to express 20% pure Chaos. Basically, the stronger classes are partially so because they can express Chaos more purely.
Planeswalkers and the Lavoid Queens dont have such limiters (though it is hypothesized that the six Lesser Queens can only channel about 99.98% pure chaos, the small margin allowing the Queen Mother to maintain a power edge). That means when a Planeswalker casts full force spell of Chaos, thats pure Chaos, which is why its used to overpower most of the upper-level Lavoids (who cant channel pure Chaos).
For another point, Chaos, Black Magic and Shadow Magic are three different things. I know at the very least Cain was confused by this, and so I suspect that lesser mortals would be, too. It goes back to that whole structure of the Multiverse, so Ill touch on it. Again, the problem sort of comes by trying to visualize it in three dimensions, but were going to try and deal with this.
First off we need a clear definition of what Shadow Magic is. Shadow Magic, sticking to the traditional Chrono Trigger view, is a combination of all the other forms of Elemental Magic: Fire, Water, Lightning, Earth, Wind and Time. On the other end of Shadow is Holy magic, which is simply a combination in different proportions (Shadow is more Fire, Water and Lightning, Holy is more Earth, Wind and Time). Shadow Magic is an Ethereal Magic, and as such, is Order Based. That is, it comes in the form of Winds that stem from the Order and move through the Ethereal Plane. Where the Ethereal Plane leaks into the Physical Plane we see stronger flows of the Winds. Where there are no nearby leakages, the Winds flow weakly. Shadow Magics Wind is sometimes called the Black Wind, and it is rare for a magic user to be able to sense it, let alone feel it. Certain cultures associate bad omens with the Black Wind.
Black Magic has nothing to do with Shadow Magic, Order, or the Winds. Black Magic draws from beings of a higher power: the Dark Ethereals. By using some of the power from the Dark Ethereals, mages can create spells that are much more powerful than simple elemental spells. If you look at the incantation for the Dragon Slave, you see the pledge to the particular Dark Ethereal that the caster is drawing power from:
Darkness beyond twilight, crimson beyond blood that flows, buried in the stream of time is where your power flows. I pledge my self to conquer all the foes that stand before the mighty gift bestowed in my unworthy hand. May the fools who stand before me be destroyed by the power that you and I possess. Dragon Slave!
Darkness beyond twilight and Crimson beyond blood that flows describe the Dark Ethereal and the mighty gift is the power that the Dark Ethereal is lending. Of a similar vein, There is also White Magic (different from Holy Magic) that draws from the Ethereals. Black Magic typically revolves around attack and destruction while White Magic typically revolved around healing, restoration, and exorcism. Duh.
Lastly, again, Chaos Magic has nothing to do with Shadow Magic, Order, or the Winds, either. Since we define magic by where it comes from, Chaos Magic is a derivation of Black Magic, that is, it draws energy from an source outside of the Planes. Black Magic draws it from the Nexus (Where the Ethereals and Dark Ethereals are) and Chaos Magic draws it from just that: Chaos. Because of this, Black Magic and Chaos Magic are sometimes called extra-planar forces or extra-planar magic.
Well, that about wraps it up. If something regarding all these wacky planes and magic sources confuses you, please write to me and allow me to explain it. A good 95% of the time I actually have something worked out. As for that other five percent well, I can fake it and youll never know the difference. The one thing that I ask as an author is that you as readers take into consideration the fact that there will inevitably be discontinuities between my stories and the other stories in the World of Imagination. Given the unfortunate fact that we were not writing together from the start, some differences were unavoidable. Now, Im not going to point them out; that would just be foolish. However, were sadly not perfect and dont always communicate perfectly. Key point here: dont be Paul Nathans. Compliments to Paul for having the keen sense of when something doesnt fit, but there are some things which were destined to not work out.
Example: in The Planeswalkers, I ran with the ending of Chrono Trigger that involved crashing the Epoch into Lavos, where as Cain assumed a different ending. Both endings were crucial to the individual plot lines and both endings had been picked before we were working in collaboration. The Different Time Line excuse works for this one, but sadly it doesnt work for every other one. Enjoy what we did pull together: not what was overlooked due to various reasons. All an all, everyone will be more happy this way. Now, with these mundane explanations aside, I present without further ado: Flames of Vengeance: Symphony of Chaos.
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