Continuing from my last theory, “Defective Gods”, this time I look at the abstract nature of the higher elements. Previously I argued that the lower elements correlate to the metaphysical components of man. Here, I build on that to argue that the higher elements should correspond to “beyond man”, namely God, which I then use to define the would-be Sept-Terrion of Time, the Unbound.
So far the two higher elements elements that we’ve seen have been rich with Christian or Hebrew imagery. For example, in Liberl, the Aureole is the Angel’s halo representing the heavens; space artes usually have a heavenly feel to them; and even the story of Liber Ark is analogous to the Garden of Eden. Furthermore, the Crossbell arc is filled with allusions to the Christian heresy of Gnosticism. The Demiurge herself, interestingly enough, has characteristics more similar to Sophia (The Holy Spirit) than the Demiurge. The true form of the Azure Demiurges (and maybe the original as well) is the Tree of Knowledge straight from Genesis. While we still know nothing about it, time arts are fairly demonic and destructive. It total, we have three higher elements and Christianity loves doing things in threes.
One Third of a God
There are many descriptions of God in Christianity; however, the most fundamental triad is omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. First out of the higher elements, the Aureole could be best described as all-powerful as it is fundamentally able to create something out of nothing. It could grant any wish asked of it and even made a subsystem just to speed up the wish granting process. Its corporeal form was invulnerable to all attacks and it was being able to be damaged after its shield was broken by a weapon “outside” the logic of the world. It let a city defy gravity and could even render all threats obsolete. However, it was neither all-knowing nor all-seeing. It couldn’t understand humanity beyond physical pain and pleasure, and it couldn’t see beyond its field of vision. It was also not omnipresent: both it and its power were localized in position. It only granted gifts to people within the city’s walls and the orbal shutdown phenomena was limited in scope to Liberl and the border with the Empire. Like with the lower elements, this lacking in characteristics resulted in its failure. Relating to the story theme of Freedom/Liberalism, the Aureole gained Autonomy when it should have remained a simple wish granting machine. Sticking to its original directive, it started passively granting wishes without people. However, it didn’t “know” humanity so this eventually evolved into turning humans into slaves of their own pleasure centers. Because it couldn’t see all and its position was defined, it wasn’t able to stop the escapees from sealing it in an alternate dimension.
Second is the Demiurge, the Sept-Terrion of Mirage which had absolute perception and could manipulate causality. As an aside, Mirage has always had the most confusing ability set, and the “manipulate causality” part has caused a lot of confusion. It should be clear that “all” three higher elements could manipulate causality. The way I interpret this is as foresight: she could see how specific actions shape specific futures, and using that knowledge she could guide the Tribe of Mirage down the right path. However, she had a corporeal form and her knowledge could only be spread through word of mouth. She had no way to give everyone the guidance that they needed nor could she change destiny. Given a human form with human emotions, she couldn’t handle the stress this caused so she erased herself from existence. Relating to the story theme, I’ll make the bad pun that there were too many <barriers> in her way. While I have no evidence for this, my hypothesis is that Mirage knew about the end of the world 1200 years in the future and deduced that the only way for humanity to survive would be if she erased herself from existence.
The Hands of Time
Finally, this would make Time omnipresent but lacking in power and vision. Using Space as a reference, the Aureole had absolute dominance over the physical world, was indestructible, and unchanging. It’s power and dominance is the same no matter when in time. As Zeit points out in Ao, it is literally impossible to destroy; it’s existence is like a universal constant which is why it was sealed away rather than destroyed. Time should then be opposite. It should be only defined along the time axis effectively being infinite over the spatial axis i.e. omnipresent. In physics, Power is defined as the change in energy with respect to time or P = ΔE/Δt when discretized. The Aureole is unchanging in time and can’t affect it making Δt = 0. This makes the power of Aureole undefined or infinite. Conversely, since energy is the domain of space, Time would have no control over energy making ΔE = 0 giving it zero power.
This gives us something that is effectively powerless but exists everywhere–almost like it doesn’t exist at all. However, the Sept-Terrion are gifts from the goddess and, therefore, must have some mechanism for interacting with humanity. Unlike the Demiurge, it cannot be omniscient. It needs some sort of lens into this world which could very well be the Stigma of the Dominion. There are several reasons for why I think this is the case. The first is that all Stigma users seem to have powers or S-crafts associated with time: Thomas can create partitions in time; Kevin’s 2nd S-craft is time elemental; Wazy’s Stigma S-craft is named after the Akashic records or the record of all of human history; and Gaius’s S-craft can inflict absolute delay, an unavoidable delay attack. Next, Weissman’s evil eye is said to be derived from his research of the Stigma and freezes all movement of those it gazes upon, almost like it stops time. In Latte’s theory, he discussed the possibility of the Tribe of Time being lorekeepers. The Stigma as the eyes or, even better, hands of time then present a mechanism for past and future events to be carried on to the present.
Assuming the Stigma is Time’s method of interacting with humanity, this tells us that it is also capable of bestowing the ability to influence time; however, this seems contradictory to the notion that Time is powerless. Well, it still is powerless, but humans are beings defined by space and therefore can change space. The ΔE portion of power is no longer zero and the Δt portion can be controlled at will allowing for huge amounts of power. Essentially, time is powerless, but space + time is not. This is likely not free though as using the power seems to put a tremendous toll on the user.
I’ve subtly been hinting throughout this theory that Power, Vision, and Presence equate to three other abstracts. The Absolute form of power would be to “create” from nothing which is fundamentally what the Aureole could do; likewise, to be able to see everything is to “know” everything; and to be everywhere at once is the same as being “nowhere” at all. So we have: Space = Creation, Mirage = Knowledge, and Time = Nothingness. It’s worth noting that Nothingness is the name of the quartz found at the bottom of the Abyss in the 3rd which aligns with the darkness and demonic imagery associated with time artes. If we look at the directives of each of the Sept-Terrion, the Aureole was to “create” anything that the people of the Ark needed or wanted, and Mirage was to provide guidance and wisdom in the form of “knowledge” to the Crois clan as well as to act as a mediator. Would that make Time’s objective to bring about the end of the world? Let us remember the quote from the opening of the 3rd, “a brief hesitation (time) unleashed darkness upon the world”.
As Kondo has stated, the series is moving eastward with the next arc likely taking place in Calvard, so maybe we should also shift our mythological focus eastward as well. Probably the most prolific of continental Asian religions (minus Islam which has practically identical mythos to Christianity) is Hinduism and one such Hindu tradition that mirrors the triadic nature of the West is the Trimuriti which is a trio a three gods: Brahma the creator, Vishnu the mediator, and Shiva the destroyer. Brahma is described in some older traditions as the primary creator of the universe (in others he is a secondary creator born from Vishnu or Shiva or merely the creative aspect of either of them). Additionally, he can be equated to the word Brahman meaning the absolute existence, unchanging which follows along with the description of Aureole in Ao. Vishnu is then the all-knowing mediator or preserver who incarnates often on earth into an avatar to guide the people down the right path. This parallels the Demiurges who’s true form, the great tree of knowledge, incarnated into the form of human woman to guide the tribe of mirage. It’s fitting then that Crossbell seems to roughly be at the center of the seven tribes if my infamous “Naka” map is any indication. Finally, Shiva is the destroyer representing change which is what time is– the transfer of energy.
Together these three represent a cyclic succession of forces wherein the universe is created, maintained, and then destroyed–an eternal recurrence if you will. In fact, you could argue that Mirage’s disappearance at the start of the Great Collapse is what triggered the transition from the era of preservation and goodness (a characteristic of Vishnu ) to the era of change, to the age of darkness (a characteristic of Shiva), and to the path of ruin. Immediately following the great collapse was the Age of Darkness where societies were unstable and entire cultures shifted. We know that the Black Records, which tell the Fairy Tale of the End, start not long after Mirage disappears. Recall, defeating the Great One didn’t stop the end; it only delayed it.
The End and The Beginning: The Eternal Recurrence Plan
I don’t know why Time wants to bring about the end. One idea is that the destruction of the world is a necessity to build the next one. However, the more likely possibility is that, like the other Septs, it went rogue. I’ve been working under the assumption that the Tribe of Time was based in Leman/Arteria. If you have ever been on the Falcom Discord server, you would know that I like to point out the Leman means illicit love or a mistress. Additionally, Arteria comes from Artery or a major heart valve. This leads me to suspect that the major story theme of the Leman arc will be love implying that the rogue nature of the Sept-Terrion should relate to this as well. This gives me a few ideas. If the Tribe of Time were loremasters and the Stigmas are the “Eyes of Time”, then maybe it learned to “hate” humanity watching them bicker and fight amongst themselves. The other possibility is that maybe it truly is an alien eldritch threat; it loves humanity so much that it wants them to be just like it— Nothingness. This second one could be a result of it being infected by something “Outside” Zemuria.
This all harkens back to the name of Ouroboros’s third plan, the Eternal Recurrence Plan. Eternal return is the concept that if time is infinite and the probability of existence is nonzero then the universe will repeat itself ad infinitum. Looking back at the Trimurti, this could be the reason why Ouroboros acquired the Aureole—to create the universe anew after the old one ends. In fact, given the name of the plan, this might not even be the first time they’ve done it. In FC, there is a book named 31 Cypress Trees. In it, the gardener plants a cypress tree and it dies. He then plants more trees and they all die. After several iterations of this, he plants thirty-one cypress trees. Thirty-one die, but one lives. Ouroboros is trying to create the one world where humanity lives–the Orpheus final plan. They are trying to break humanity out of the cycle of destruction, out of Gehenna. As a final note, going back to the christian imagery, we begin with Aureole, the creator, and its own Garden of Eden. Would it then not make sense to end with Revelations?
Thanks to all the crackheads in #Kiseki-Crack in the Falcom Discord Server for their comments and suggestions and Kitsune547 for editing.