Epstein is regarded as the greatest mind to ever grace Zemuria when it comes to orbal technology. His prototype orbments, the Oct-Genesis have proven to to be extremely enigmatic and capable of some reality defying feats. Yet, as far as we know, Epstein is just a man. Talented as he may be, is it truly possible he could have created objects with such potential in advance of the orbal technologies we have seen across the series?
My new theory is that Epstein created the Genesis by studying and possibly reverse engineering a device similar to AZOTH or the Black Records. Another ‘causality engine.’
Azoth was an artefact system originally initiated by the Arnor family (who were affiliated with the Septian Church) to record causality in the Empire. Azoth recorded the end of the world, noting there was a chance that humanity could overcome predicted events, which they eventually did. After a brief shutdown, Azoth reactivated itself to counter the threat of Elysium, which humanity would never be able to overcome by itself. Azoth enabled the party to overcome Elysium’s near omnipotent predictive ability by providing them with a means to get stronger in the True Reverie Corrdior/Infinity Corridor in a phase space outside of time. Elsyium by some means did catch on to this and develop countermeasures, but Azoth and the party were ultimately successful. Azoth refers to itself as one of a few ‘dark phantasmal mirrors’. Judging as it was the third one, there are presumably at least two more.
It stands to reason that Calvard as a large region had some equivalent of its own. Crossbell had nothing recording its events due to being ‘the Land of Fate’ and having a Sept-Terrion which helped its people determine their own causality. Epstein could easily have encountered one of these devices in another region like Leman however. Calvard just seems to the most likely due to the arc’s setting.
Epstein has been thoroughly linked with the idea of ‘observation’. He is brought up by Ouroboros, who are regarded as observers in their own right, and the Oct-Genesis are fundamentally observational devices. Even the Trion Tower is said to have been designed to observe the weather. The Oct-Genesis are yet to be fully explained but they have led to developments such as healing arts and the development of anti-gravitational devices for flight. As Quatre discusses with the party in Kuro I, technology does not magically appear, there is a process it must follow. The Genesis appear to make potential uses of technology manifest in the world, bringing something theoretical into the present day reality.
This is seen on numerous occasions. Professor Callaghan’s AI and reactor weapon, the Genesis tower dubbed “The seventh genesis’s observations made manifest” and Almata’s use of the genesis to create the monitoring and observation system for the Carnival in Oración. The first Genesis also is linked with Mare’s sentience (far beyond any other AI currently around, bar one) and ability to control the shard armour Grendel. Kuro II adds even more nuance to these abilities, with entire personalities recreated via shards, the time-leap phenomenon and the eighth Genesis’ observation of sins and the ability to start ‘erosion’ in people based on what they could be capable of with the right trigger.
Lapis is sought after as an AI comparable with Mare that would facilitate the transformation into Grendel Zolga. She makes the comment that the eighth genesis’s ability to recreate personalities is more advanced than even Elysium’s (the simulacra), having the ability to create them in a fraction of the time. That Lapis should even be recognized as a suitable candidate is very reminiscent of Azoth recognizing Elysium’s threat, suggesting whatever genesis is at least on par with Azoth.
The causality recording and predictive elements of Azoth definitely bring to mind what the Genesis seem to be doing with their own observations. Azoth had the ability to create the phase space, the True Reverie Corridor in which manifestations of the party’s memories and copies of familiar faces were recreated. This space is comparable to the Octoradium, the phase space deployed by the Eighth genesis in Kuro II’s finale. Even some of the enemies encountered are the same, the cube like enemies such as Cuberion.
The time-leap effect also brings to mind the phenomenon witnessed at the end of Trails into Reverie, where Rufus sacrifices himself by targeting Keraunos at himself to destroy Babel. This doesn’t happen as lapis gets a vision of this and moves into save him. After going to check the footage, the special effect with the static bars and flash of memory is identical to what van and the party experience following a Time-leap in Kuro II. That alone is a massive coincidence. Lapis attributes the vision to a ‘final prediction from Elsyium’ but there could be something much more behind the scenes and it’s quite possible a time leap has taken place (the party wouldn’t know). This does make me reconsider events such as the multiple endings of Cold Steel IV.
Apparently the Genesis keep resetting the timeline to get a favorable outcome which then becomes permanent. Each time they do this, the stability of the world becomes much more fragile, allowing jumps further and further back in time. Auguste’s plan revolves around making it unstable enough to reset the world following the Calvardian revolution. A precedent for making the world uneven to facilitate a great change has been set by The Great Twilight and the Rivalries already. I do wonder if this is connected with what Bergard is referring to when he says the ‘World was Rewritten’.
I am not sure how Epstein got his hands on a causality engine or how he manged to reverse engineer it into the Oct-Genesis, but it does provide a plausible solution for all the weird happenstances we have seen so far. Even the connection with ‘Sin’ begins to form a piece of the puzzle when you consider the Arnor’s having started the Black records. In the same fashion as how Erebonia had to overcome the flaw of conflict 1000 years ago, perhaps the Causality engine in Calvard notes overcoming Sin as a prerequisite for avoiding whatever fate lies in store.
One last thing, does Ouroboros have access to a third causality engine? Perhaps the ‘Nothingness of all’ is a predicted outcome they are trying to avoid. It would certainly explain the clairvoyance they often appear to have, and perhaps why they pursue orbal technology.