Mist Harbor Library Lectures - 2020-11-21 - On Temporal Magic (log)
The following was the second lecture in the Mist Harbor Library lecture series, where Raelee Svala was the guest speaker, which was given on 11/21/5120. Topics covered in this lecture series must be lore-based, but are otherwise left to the discretion of the speaker. This lecture discusses temporal magic and the implications thereof, as utilizing the history of Raznel and the Solhaven Cataclysm as examples.
This log has been edited to remove excess noise and chatter.
[Library, Meeting Hall]
A trio of wide stairs lead down from a wide archway into this brightly lit room. A small podium stands atop a small dais opposite the archway, and several cushioned benches have been arranged throughout the space, each offering an excellent line of sight. A number of elliptical windows line the walls of the hall, and a rich crimson-patterned carpet covers the entirety of the floor underfoot. Obvious exits: none
Rohese graciously greets, "Good afternoon everyone and welcome to the second of our Lectures."
Rohese softly explains, "The aim of these lectures is to provide a platform for imparting knowledge and encouraging discussion."
Rohese gently reminds, "I ask that everyone please be considerate to our speaker as well as those who comment or ask questions. All opinions are welcome as long as they are courteously expressed."
Rohese respectfully says, "Our speaker this afternoon needs no introduction."
Rohese softly continues, "A member of the Hall of Mages, she is an accomplished author and lecturer with a reputation for a no-nonsense approach to magical phenomena."
Rohese gazes respectfully at Raelee.
Rohese softly introduces, "Please welcome Magister Raelee Svala."
(Raelee calmly places both of her hands upon the podium.)
Speaking to Rohese, Raelee states, "Thank you."
Rohese nods respectfully at Raelee.
Raelee states, "Time is commonly defined as the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole."
Raelee states, "Magic is commonly defined as change or effect brought forth via the manipulation or change in state of mana."
Raelee continues, "These two concepts, brought together, create our topic for this afternoon: temporal magic and its implications."
Raelee surveys the area.
Raelee says, "Temporal magic is the manipulation of time, either internal or external to oneself, achieved through the manipulation of mana."
Raelee says, "In some academic circles, it is considered a subset of elemental magic - that is the school of magic centered on the manipulation of the four base elements: fire, air, water, and earth. Other circles view it as something separate, but a close cousin - if you will - due to shared methodologies."
Raelee mentions, "While this particular academic dispute is largely one surrounding definition and classification rather than essence, I personally favor the former argument... as though rather rudimentary and small, temporal effects are present in the rote elemental circles."
Raelee says, "The most basic variety of elemental magic is simply drawing forth any of the four elements and applying them in some fashion - setting someone or something on fire, for example."
Raelee glances at Faerinn.
Raelee says, "More advanced elemental magic becomes a matter of harnessing the forces oft associated with each element - and this is where the link between the elements and time comes together."
Raelee says, "Air, in particular, is often utilized in spellcraft where the desired effect relates to motion."
Raelee says, "Stepping back to more fundamental forces, motion is defined the displacement of an object with velocity, acceleration, and *time*."
Raelee pedantically states, "Displacement can be calculated by velocity multiplied by time. Assuming a constant acceleration, velocity can be calculated by the displacement, or change in position, divided by the change in time, and so forth..."
(Raelee gesticulates, counting off on her fingers as she verbally runs through the equations.)
Raelee dryly adds, "And yes, a thorough understanding of this subject matter will require mathematics, but I will refrain from delving too deeply into that today."
Raelee continues, "What you may notice in these basic equations is their linear nature. They rely upon calculating a change in a variable, whether it be displacement or time... thus, relying upon a defined start and end point."
Raelee clearly repeats, "Linear."
Raelee says, "Time, in this plane, as most mortals perceive it... is linear and unidirectional."
Raelee says, "And thus, we reach the purpose of temporal magic: moving beyond just continuing forward in a straight line at a constant velocity."
Raelee says, "The simplest temporal magic within the confines of rote elemental magic relates to the velocity of time: the slight acceleration or deceleration of an object in time relative to its surroundings."
Raelee explains, "One might swing a blade more quickly, or one might cause one's foe to do the opposite."
Raelee says, "Even within the rote, temporal magic beyond these slight changes in velocity requires a fairly skilled mage. Yet, what we can accomplish remains fairly limited in scope."
Raelee says, "We begin to introduce concepts such as greater acceleration, or deceleration to the point of a perceived halt..."
(Raelee pauses for a moment, letting her mouth briefly quirk upwards at one corner.)
Raelee slowly says, "... or more curiously, the jumping directly to another point on the linear path without experiencing the intervening time, whether forwards or backwards."
Raelee states, "In short, time travel."
Raelee glances around the room.
Raelee says, "Most rote casters are limited to a backwards jump of a few scant seconds at most - perhaps, for example, to avoid the blade of a foe that made contact in their first experience of that moment."
Raelee says, "The implications of this are relatively minor, given the limited scope."
Raelee wryly adds, "... though with some cleverness it is quite abusable. Consider gambling."
Raelee continues, "Also, with some cleverness, it has great utility beyond avoiding immediate injury."
Raelee says, "Consider the simple act of channeling mana. As we all, as individuals - even those with great skill, have a limited capacity to do so... this can be one of the barriers to achievement in flow magic, given that working in the flows often requires great power."
Raelee says, "Thus, what if we can channel to that limit in a moment, slip back in time to the same moment, and do it again towards the same target? And consider if we repeat this process over and over..."
Raelee asks, "... our capacity to channel mana in a single moment seems limitless, no?"
Raelee says, "Now it is when we begin lifting these limits and taking temporal magic to greater scales that we must begin discussing the theoretical implications and impacts of time travel."
(Raelee pauses her speech for a moment, as if to recollect her thoughts before proceeding to the next point of discussion.)
Raelee says, "There is a mantra often repeated amongst the scholarship and following of Fash'lo'nae: Action, Consequence, Results."
Raelee says, "It is a very linear, unidirectional framing of scientific observation: an event occurs, we witness the effects, we form a conclusion."
Raelee says, "Time travel begins to rearrange that order: Consequence, Action, Results."
Raelee says, "A consequence may occur prior to the catalyst event, however the limitations of our linear perception often leave us unable to recognize the results until chronologically after the fact still, and only through retrospective analysis."
Raelee says, "For an example of broader implications: let us consider the case of Naimorai Kestrel - known to many under the aliases of Rachel or Raznel."
Raelee says, "This particular case remains fairly linear at first analysis - it is simply the unidirectional, always forward nature of time that is disrupted. We move from point to point, yet seemingly remain on a single line."
Raelee mentions, "... and I will address more... non-linear... concepts later."
Raelee explains, "Naimorai, whom I shall refer to as Raznel from this point forth, was a fledgling mage turned sorcerer who was born over a decade after my own birth - a young woman and not a notably powerful caster, not yet."
Raelee says, "She was forced back in time due to the influence of an Ur-Daemon relic now known colloquially as the Talon of Toullaire."
Raelee says, "While her 'destination' year is not precisely known, it is known that it was prior to the destruction of Toullaire, which occurred in the year 4565 - over five centuries prior to the 'current' date."
Raelee says, "The Talon, known as the Crescent when Raznel first encountered it in Touillaire, is not well understood, not yet. However, it most certainly has notable temporal manipulation properties. This can be seen both in its part in sending Raznel backwards in time, and through the temporal disruptions seen around those with prolonged exposure and usage."
Faerinn asks, "That talon is still missing, isn't it?"
Raelee nods faintly at Faerinn.
Raelee says, "Continued study of this artifact has, historically, been undertaken by the Imperial Hall of Mages - but on a very limited basis due to the perceived need to protect and hide it so that it not be... misused."
Raelee flatly says, "... whatever one might interpret that to mean."
Raelee says, "Now for example, consider the expelled Grand Magister Pylasar. As an associate of Raznel, he had frequent contact with the artifact. While he experienced great longevity, he also experienced occasional temporal displacement and frequent temporal confusion that could only be alleviated by focus."
Raelee says, "... yet this also left him with what appeared to us contemporaneously as foreknowledge, but only to a point."
Raelee says, "Razel herself experienced great longevity as well. Again, this is in part due to the Talon's influence, but also through her own ingenuity."
Raelee says, "She utilized a technique that has shared threads with the temporal overchanneling example I provided earlier. Rather than outputting energy to a single point from several, repeating origin points... she drew power from multiple points in time as a perpetual form of magical sustenance."
Raelee states, "Conceptually similar, directionally different."
Raelee mentions, "... those sources being several individuals that she removed from their points of origin, tactically, at points where their disappearance could otherwise be explained. She drew her power from these 'paragons' in their own pockets outside of time."
Raelee notes, "This, one might argue, is our first break in the linear nature of Raznel's experience and impact - multiple points of time in effect concurrently."
Raelee says, "I mentioned that we would speak on implications. Let us return to that."
Raelee says, "The key point, when speaking of implications, is that there was a period of time over two decades in which both Raznel's younger self, as Naimorai, and her elder self existed in the same linear segment of time."
Raelee asks, "This brings forth numerous questions, no?"
Raelee asks, "What might happen if you met your younger or elder self?"
Raelee raises an eyebrow.
Juspera grimly says, "I'd have to kill them."
Akenna wryly says, "We'd have a long conversation, my younger self and I."
Raelee says, "Many of Raznel's actions can be interpreted as her arranging the circumstances to help enable her own journey back in time."
Raelee says, "She had a hand in much of the destabilization surrounding the town of Wehnimer's Landing. Had she not, would the individuals that aided Naimorai have ever arrived in the town? Would the Hendoran Outpost ever have been constructed to monitor the region? Without the Outpost, would Grand Magister Dennet Kestrel ever have brought his family northwards? And so on..."
Raelee asks, "Had Raznel not taken these actions, is it possible that Naimorai never would have travelled backwards by five centuries, thus preventing her own evolution into the Raznel we knew?"
Raelee says, "... and then perhaps the past decade surrounding Wehnimer's Landing would have been vastly different."
(Raelee begins speaking more quickly as she runs through the hypothetical examples of change.)
Sreka says, "Vastly better, maybe."
Raelee asks, "... and it is suspected that Raznel and the Talon were great factors into the destruction of Toullaire. Would Toullaire still stand? Would the Arcanum still operate... perhaps taking the entire philosophy of magic within the Empire in another direction?"
Raelee says, "... or given that one of her paragons was the elder sister of Empress Mynal'lyanna, Mynalari, what would have occurred differently had Mynal'lyanna never reigned? Perhaps Jantalar's aggression would have been tempered instead of fed..."
Raelee says, "... and given that one might argue Jantalar's aggression towards Wehnimer's Landing was one of the earliest threads of the current destabilization..."
(Raelee pauses for a moment.)
Raelee slowly empties her lungs.
Raelee slowly asks, "... as you can see, this creates a chain of... what if? What if? What if?"
Speaking to Raelee, Kothos says, "It would be hard to resist speculation. And thus the danger."
Speaking to Raelee, Kothos says, "Of anyone getting hold of the means to start exploring those probables."
Speaking to Kothos, Raelee says, "Dangerous perhaps, tantalizing, and possibly even beneficial depending on ones perception of that which is 'good'."
Speaking to Raelee, Kothos says, "A whole new spectrum of destabilization."
Raelee says, "But, I digress... as you can see, these questions begin to feed into one another."
Faerinn says, "Like an eel eating its own tail."
Raelee says, "And Raznel's situation borders on a logical paradox, though does not quite meet it."
Raelee asks, "Many of these hypotheticals also *seem* paradoxical. However, they also seem possible... no?"
Raelee says, "Thus, we must ask ourselves if our linear perception is the flaw."
Raelee says, "This is where I must note that much of this discussion becomes very hypothetical... almost philosophical. While we have witnessed these actual events, what we do know about the nature of time is limited by our own perception and vastly outweighed by that which we do not understand. We are... rather lacking in sufficient data."
Raelee says, "You may recall that I stated Raznel's story remained largely linear... simply no longer unidirectional."
Raelee says, "Perhaps... that was a false statement. Perhaps that was merely an oversimplification based on how I actively perceive the passage of time, but it is not truly accurate regarding the actual flow of time."
Raelee says, "In her case, I would posit two alternatives..."
(Raelee pauses again, then makes a quick beckoning gesture towards a librarian in the back of the meeting hall. The librarian slips away and returns momentarily, wheeling a slate board towards the podium.)
Raelee removes some long translucent chalk from in her leather neck pouch.
(Raelee draws a neat circle on the slate board.)
Raelee asks, "Is time, for Raznel, circular instead of linear? Her start point and end point are nearly the same with five hundred years, out of linear sequence, in between?"
Raelee says, "Cause and effect start the cycle anew, endlessly. Raznel goes back in time so that she may enable her travelling back in time."
Raelee says, "If that is the case though, what of the rest of us? Time seemed to proceed normally both before and after her five century loop."
(Raelee wipes away the circle with a brush of her robe's sleeve and replaces it with a straight line that turns into a large, round loop, before continuing straight again.)
Raelee says, "A line is geometrically defined as a straight continuance of points, in two directions - forward and backwards in this case - infinitely. If we accept time as linear, then all of our experiences are collinear points on the timeline."
Raelee asks, "Lines, geometrically speaking, do not turn themselves into loops. Thus one must ask, perhaps time is not linear at all, and is instead something far more malleable... and all that is linear is our perception thereof?"
Akenna inquires, "But wouldn't her time loop merely actively move away from linear time but yet intersect ours again?"
Speaking to Akenna, Raelee says, "You are approaching my point."
Raelee wryly says, "Perhaps basic geometry is too rigid for discussing time."
Speaking to Raelee, Kothos asks, "Some outside force causes the curve?"
Speaking to Kothos, Raelee says, "Magic and will."
(Raelee draws another line as an offshoot of her original looping line on the slate board.)
Raelee says, "To continue my abuse of the word 'perhaps'... perhaps it is something more organic."
Raelee says, "There is scholarship on the concept of multiple timelines: infinite versions of reality, that all differ based on points of chance and choice..."
Raelee says, "... and I do believe that is something the locals of this island have some experience with - multiple versions of reality."
Ilsola quietly says, "Indeed."
Raelee adds, "Though I do not intend to lecture you on your own experience."
Raelee asks, "Some may differ only in minor ways. What would be different if I had opted to wear my brown robe today instead of this one?"
Raelee glances down.
Speaking to Raelee, Kothos says, "It would seem to be small, but..."
Speaking quietly to Raelee, Ilsola says, "You have no way of knowing, one would assume."
Raelee glances between Kothos and Ilsola.
Raelee says, "Indeed."
Speaking to Raelee, Kothos says, "This model suggests that the it's infinite, your answer."
Raelee asks, "Some may vary greatly... such as what would be different if Raznel never went back in time to create herself?"
Raelee asks, "As I previously covered, would we even recognize the world we exist in?"
Raelee slowly says, "... however, multiple timelines implies separation with the possibility of intersection."
(Raelee draws several more branching lines off of her original line on the slate.)
Raelee says, "One might theorize this is a more accurate depiction - time branches."
Raelee says, "One of these represents a branch of time in which Raznel existed, and another represents a potential possibility in which she never travelled back in time - yet prior to that point of change, the line is shared."
(Raelee draws a loop off of one of the branching lines that loops back around, meeting the trunk of the lines, and then branches off again at that point of intersection.)
Raelee says, "... and with this model, it is not all necessarily unidirectional either."
Meril quietly says, "I have sometimes heard the expression of a 'ripple' in time. A simple line cannot ripple. Maybe time is a wider river than we can perceive, and we can no more count the timelines as we can count individual droplets in a river."
Speaking to Meril, Raelee says, "... and rivers often have their tributaries."
Raelee clears her throat.
Speaking to Meril, Kothos says, "A poetic interpretation, as one would think from you, my lady."
Raelee says, "And speaking of water..."
Raelee says, "Some of you may recall an incident on the 29th of Phoenatos in the year 5109 in which the town of Solhaven in Vornavis was put under water."
Raelee glances around the room.
Raelee says, "To explain that with the utmost brevity, the region was attacked by invaders from an elemental plane of water. The act of closing the portals - their entry point - caused this cataclysm due to some..."
Raelee carefully says, "... temporal miscalculations..."
Speaking to Raelee, Faerinn asks, "The time you drowned Solhaven in soup?"
Speaking flatly to Faerinn, Raelee says, "Yes."
Raelee says, "What was understood at the time, but not understood nearly well enough, was that time flowed differently on this elemental plane than it did in our own plane."
Raelee says, "Following the receding of the floodwaters, we utilized magic - fueled by some remarkably potent plinite - to recreate the town based our collective memories and past perceptions of the town."
Raelee mentions, "... it was slightly flawed."
Raelee furrows her brow.
Raelee corrects, "... greatly flawed."
Raelee says, "This recreation left behind an inadvertent weakness in the planar walls, so to speak. This weakness is quite easily seen and manipulated along Lornon Avenue, the Garden of Forbidden Knowledge."
Raelee says, "And it was this weakness that allowed the water elementals to invade - despite the fact that it was created seemingly after we defeated them and sealed the rupture."
Raelee says, "What was in our present was in their past. And yet, their future point from there was in our past."
Raelee says, "So clearly, our timelines were not moving in the same direction. Two rivers intermixing in a fairly grand mess."
Raelee says, "While this in itself accomplishes nothing to illustrate the theory of branching timelines, it is a necessary introduction."
Raelee says, "These elementals, as we encountered them in our own plane, came with opportunities for us to witness matters from their perspective and their nonlinear perception."
Raelee says, "And it seems, they bore witness to multiple versions of time - some wildly different than our own."
Rohese quietly muses, "That's a scary prospect."
Raelee says, "Different points, different decisions, led to different outcomes all for different versions of ourselves."
Raelee says, "Yet they had commonalities until those points - in one version I led a simple life and apparently wed a locksmith. In another, I sat upon the sun throne."
Raelee says, "Neither sounds particularly appealing and I have no notion of what I may have done to reach either of these points... but the root is common. I was still born."
(Raelee steps back from the podium slightly before continuing. She gives the librarian a nod, and the slate board is promptly wheeled away.)
Raelee says, "As a girl, when I was instructed in rhetoric, I was taught that a lecture such as this should present a coherent argument followed by a coherent conclusion."
Raelee carefully says, "... and this is a case in which I may be failing you all."
Raelee says, "As I have illustrated the complexities, potential paradoxes raise questions as infinite as the timelines that may exist. With so many questions it can be a struggle to find a coherent conclusion. While I can speak on the methodologies behind temporal magic, the influence of the elements and air, and the implications and paradoxes borne of a nonlinear journey..."
Raelee says, "... and perhaps how a branching model alleviates some of those paradoxes..."
Raelee says, "... there are no conclusive statements I can give you about the nature of time that is not bound by my own limited perception."
Raelee says, "For I am still bound by a mortal mind that can only theorize based on limited experience."
Raelee says, "Thus, akin to time itself, I shall allow these questions to branch and include not only my own, but yours."
Raelee says, "Ask them now, if you will."