LOADING HST TIME
The Dance in the Deeps
A Clockwork Armada
"You're in America now," I said. "Our idea of diplomacy is showing up with a gun in one hand and a sandwich in the other and asking which you'd prefer."
--Harry Dresden [Turn Coat, by Jim Butcher]
There are only 10 kinds of people in the world: Those who know binary, and those who don't.
The most powerful collectives of mages, the most sweeping of empires, the Old Ones; for these constructing a single Pathway was a mighty venture spanning centuries, or even millennia. It was the sort of project that would make you remembered for eons to come, known as a grand power.
Paradigms are vast, sprawling constructs. They are the very foundation upon which creation itself was built. A latticework of worlds strung together like pearls on a necklace tossed casually into a jewelry box. Sometimes branching and splitting but typically following along one winding path.
Rumors whispered that the Great Tribe was trying to find the clasp at the end of the necklace. They might journey for months or even years on a world, seeking a weak point that would allow them to punch a hole through the fabric of space and sometimes even time itself and when they found it they would establish a temporary camp around which would often times spring a vast sprawling city which would become a hub of trade. But they cared not these cities, and that abandoned them after a paltry hundred years or so, the minute that they completed the gate, the new Pathway.
So when rumors began to spread that somebody had learned how to create not simply a bridge from one paradigm to another, but he was actually able to create entirely new paradigms, it was of course laughed off as absurd. The amount of power needed simply to push a hole along the string was boggling. The power needed to bridge the shortest gap without following the string, to build an artificial bridge of zero length indeed the bridge is hardly the correct term, punching a hole twice would be far more accurate this had been done on only a handful of occasions in all of history. Even this sort of stupendous action had been accomplished only in such cases as the final campaign of the Dragon and Wizard War to allow an army to flank one of the most powerful forces ever collected. This was a war in which entire worlds we left as ash and glass, where a single battle could rage for 50 years. Billions died.
The very idea of creating a new paradigm was laughable. Brong, whose work underpinned much of paradigm theory had once posited that to create a pocket world, as it were, the size of a fist would require the collective energies of all the stars in all the skies in all of the Paradigms for 1000 lifespans to be multiplied by the power of all the souls born in that time frame to be multiplied by the number of Hjim. And further, that it would almost certainly collapse back in on itself within a heartbeat.
Finch the Elder did the impossible. Realizing that a new paradigm of any size whatsoever would require more power, more energy, that could be collected in an infinite amount of time, he explored the possibility of creating a paradigm with zero size. That very term is an oxymoron. The definition of a paradigm, according to most scholars -as translated into layperson- would be a space time bubble in the Void which creation is laid upon. Therefore a bubble with no size is not a bubble. It makes as much sense as dividing by zero. Finch the Elder ignored common sense, logic, math, president, and a bunch of other inconvenient things.
He determined that with sufficient will one could in fact create a theoretical paradigm with zero size. Now even if one could create such an object, what would be the point? It could not be created inside an already existing Paradigm as doing so would merely create a fold the space-time structure of that paradigm. (Consider a bag larger on the inside, it's merely a bag that opens to another area) Nor indeed could be created outside of an existing Paradigm as there is no way to affect, touch, or even directly observe the Void.
The means by which Finch the Elder seemingly broke the laws of nature, physics, and magic remain unknown to this day. What is known is that he started with one of the Donjons of Power; the granite one in fact. The Donjons of Power are individually no minor constructs; nevertheless even together they would not warrant a mention on a list of the seven wonders of the worlds. He somehow used its ability to tie things together to tie nothingness to nothingness. And what's more he did it where nothing could reach. Outside the walls of any world, beyond all Paradigms, at a location for which he searched for over 1000 years, equidistant from five universes of nearly equal draw he found the equivalent of a Lagrange Point in the Void. How he affected the space is yet another mystery. But affected he did.
In this space beyond space and beyond time, he created an oxymoron. He created an impossible thing. He created a structure with no size, with no dimensions whatsoever. And inside this space, this new world he once he arrived there by means also unknown began shape it, to mold it to his will. He called it his home and slowly reached out in a lifetime beyond length of days, beyond possibility to build new threads. These threads wound their ways slowly ever so slowly, to earth and to four other paradigms.
He created this singularity as close to perfection as he could. Here, for a time, Pi was once again three. Here time moved at a pace that did not seem to move at all. Disconnected from all other paradigms, none could affect him. None could influence him. Already powerful beyond the reckoning of most beings he continued to hone his craft, building knowledge upon knowledge and understanding upon understanding. Patient he was, and his patience was rewarded. He built new threads on the necklace of reality; connecting five distant Paradigms and building permanent Pathways between them, he accomplished something which had never been done before and has not been done since.
His own private universe that he built this world with no size he built into the foundations of the others, the five. With eons for his hubris to grow, grow it did. But even the power of Finch the Elder had its limits. His trip was a one way venture. It had taken all that he had, all that hed been able to acquire, to make this place and go to it. And in it he was alone.
Solitude is a powerful thing. Finch the Elder had been a hermit for many centuries, thought nothing of not seeing another person for years on end. But this new solitude is beyond what even his mind could tolerate. This was no isolation from people, some little distance from his neighbors. This was not even being stuck on a deserted island. This was absolute isolation. There was no sky to see, except that which he crafted, knowing it to be false, knowing that the roof was right above his head. There were no clouds, there was no breeze, there were no insects, birds, beasts. There was not a soul anywhere. He could travel no distance that would allow him to speak with another person for there were no other people to find.
There was no place to go to smell new flowers or trees or even to see moss on a rock. Indeed there were not even rocks for moss grow upon. This world that he crafted was, he thought, as like unto Hell. Never could he taste wine or even water nor could he eat the most meager of bread. For in this world that he forged from his own mind -and by his will- he could neither starve nor could he die. And so for subjective eons he stretched out his will straining to reach worlds with souls.
When at long, long, long last the first thread arrived at a paradigm he rejoiced. And then again he began his labor anew. He forged then a Pathway, a Gateway into this paradigm. And when at last the door fell open, lept with joy for he knew that now he could at last end his torment. And going forth he left four threads inching their way to new worlds, threads that would eventually connect and burrow through the shells of those worlds. He left behind the world that he created and found a city on a mountain.
The first person that he saw he hugged so fierce it cracked the man's ribs. Weeping for joy he ran past the man snatching a fruit from a vendor, and flinging himself wildly about the streets, cavorting with long awaited pleasure. This hermit took delight the astonished looks of the people around him. He then rushed on, winding his way to the top of the peak, the highest point of the city. He looked out and beheld a sun glowing in the bright blue sky.
Isolation had driven him to madness. He screamed into the sky, "I am Finch the Elder, Creator of Worlds!" Every ear in that city heard his Words. His voice magnified and echoed, sweeping through valleys and across mountains, over the seas of this world and all the people in it heard his proclamation. He breathed deeply, smelling rotting vegetation and fresh-baked goods. Again he cried out, "I am master of my domains, and Lord of my dwelling!" He fell to his knees. He whispered in a voice so softly that none safe himself heard it, "And at last, at long last, ruler of my own fate."
He stayed there then for nearly a minute, feeling his heart beat, tasting the remnants of fruit in his mouth once again. He sprang to his feet. He took a deep breath, savoring every moment of it. Then he flung himself from that peak and let loose a roar that shook the world, howling his defiance at his own hubris, "I am the ruler of my own fate!"
Thus concluded the life of Finch the Elder.