Decay is inherent in all compound things. Work out your own salvation with diligence.
— Last words of the Dabhud
You should call it entropy […] nobody knows what entropy really is, so in a debate you will always have the advantage.
— Jhennon von Numa
Entropy, that primal force of the multiverse, is embodied and safeguarded by this realm. Barring hypothetical states of perfect equilibrium or reversibility, all systems lie precariously on an irreversible slide from order into disorder, from certainty into uncertainty. This fact is known to learned philosophers with irrefutable certitude, and the gleeful inhabitants of the Inevitability are the ones who wield this mandate. Grouped into collectives undertaking particular manifestations of entropy—combustion, aging, decomposition, irreversible food transformations (in this otherwise inhospitable lamina there is a fantastical culinary ensemble from which cascade creations of the wildest epicureans), broken tools and furniture, political dissolution, romantic miscommunication, and even the fading of deities—this lamina’s residents, the Unravellers, are summoned by natural forces across the multiverse to shepherd these transformations, after which they return to the lamina with stories and trophies of their work.
The Inevitability soars with exuberance and action and heat: mischief with divine purpose, a frenzy to consume all potential work—a collective quest one Unraveller described as “making energy useless”, dispersing it like a drop of ink in clear water. The revelry here will end only when across all of reality every building has crumbled, the last fires have gone out, and the final gods have been laid to rest.
On your arrival in the Inevitability you are likely to find a cold, empty, flat, blasted wasteland, graced not even by any low hill or slight breeze. The ground is a hard-packed grey mixture of fine dust and ash, covered in a loose layer of dust and ash. Dust and ash hang lightly in the air beneath a sky the color of dust and ash. Close inspection reveals flecks and granules of various colors and materials ground into the fine powder and blending to nothing from any distance. Occasional artifacts of life lie lost in the dirt: a piece of eggshell, a tuft of hair, a fragment of cloth, a scrap of parchment or metal. No other features grace this lamina, save for the Procession, which is never very far away, and somehow always finds its way to visitors.
First it can be felt (a vague juddering of the earth) and then it can be heard (a murmur of revelry and snatches of music). Then it can be spied on the horizon: a plume of particulates different from yet eventually constituting the dust and ash below. Beneath the rising smoke, or whatever suspension of colors hangs muted by the distance, is a column riding astride the horizon with the inexorability of a wildfire and the force of a herd of buffalo.
The Procession has no beginning or end, and snakes its way across the Inevitability at a firm crawl, segments five to fifty yards across stretching and contracting and shifting in their paths without ever becoming disconnected from the whole. It always approaches faster than expected and suddenly its edge is upon you, hot, deafening and roiling with blaring chaos and purpose and glee, inexhaustible, exhausting. No two sections of this infinite carnival are alike in anything but their fervor and movement. Those who journey away from the Procession across the blank land inevitably find themselves approached by another far-flung portion of the same incessant parade.
The first seven Unravellers this visitor asked for the name of their home related seven different monikers—the Inevitability, the Inexorability, the Irrevocability, the Irreversibility, the Inescapability, the Irresistibility, the Ineluctability. Other less philosophical names arise too: the Churn, the Mess, the Unpacking, the Dissolution, the Relaxation. Scholars have generally settled on the Inevitability. Regardless of what name they prefer, Unravellers distracted from their festivity are universally elated to describe the workings of their land and their role within it.
Mechanisms behind the Unravellers’ labors vary, but all begin with the Unraveller first being pulled out of the Inevitability (a pull which they can sense approaching some time in advance like a sneeze) and through the Ordial Plane to the place that merit their work. This happens through some natural force, as surely as water runs downhill. Most Unravellers are unnoticed by other beings present. Some play an active role akin to nudging a ball off the top of a slope—one might dislodge a brick, light a spark, or whisper a rumor—but all seem to encourage entropic processes merely by their presence, and may arrive to witness a movement already in motion. It can be hard to tell the difference between action and presence, as with the wind Unravellers whose gentle breaths shepherd currents that long after become hurricanes. Once the process is safely in motion, the same natural force sucks them back into the Inevitability bearing keepsakes and anecdotes of their success. Souvenirs from other worlds—the dislodged brick, the smoldering embers, the tale of discord—returned to this one are celebrated, broken down, and scattered to the absent breeze.
The Procession itself is a series of troupes of Unravellers, each devoted to a particular flavor of entropy, each with their own methods and personalities. In the broadest strokes troupes lie along a kind of caste distinction: those concerned with base physical matters, such as rotting food and weather patterns, are viewed as coarser and more primitive than those that deal in abstract subjects like political instability and lost languages, a spectrum middled by endeavors such as crumbling infrastructure, aging, and explosions. All Unravellers, however, share the same gleeful dedication and so regard each other with benevolence and respect.
This lamina’s denizens hold the very justifiable belief that their work makes the multiverse turn, and delight in the ontological safety granted by that mission. Processes are spontaneous only if they increase entropy: salt dissolved in water, paint mixed, fire perpetuated, knowledge forgotten, all these things happen naturally only because the Unravellers make it so. And there is incredible freedom and creativity here, for there are many more ways to smash a glass goblet than there are to put it back together again. Furthermore, as heralds of entropy they establish the current against which all living things—low-entropy entities by nature—swim upstream. Unravellers cherish every effort to push against their inexorable flow, knowing that they will be present to make the final play.
Visitors will find that the wasteland of the Inevitability itself offers nothing, but supplies and warm clothing are all that are needed for safety. The Unravellers, however, are delighted to welcome guests. They will put you to work: you will be beckoned into the fray, handed a torch or a drum or a club, to burn or to beat or to smash. You will be regaled with stories, and eagerly led to neighboring troupes to partake in different flavors of revelry there. They may even take you under their wing, as Unravellers are able to bring others on their excursions, for witness or aid.
You may also help yourself to food or other goods. Unravellers understand that even the act of “recovering” something from this lamina requires expenditures of energy and effort that themselves contribute to the long-term cause of entropy.
Nothing distinguishes the landscape of the Inevitability, and so what passes for landmarks instead are the Unraveller troupes themselves. Yet there are innumerable subject matters for entropy, and it is not always clear where one troupe ends and another begins, nor whether a troupe devoted to one enterprise is the same troupe as one seen days earlier devoted to the same but somehow found in a different point along the Procession, or if is a separate troupe that happens to duplicate the endeavor, and so precise reference points are difficult. But not impossible: this visitor met an Unraveller in action outside the lamina and years later tracked him down at the agreed-upon meeting place of his home troupe dedicated to cooking (baking—wedding cakes—in particular), though she passed several culinary troupes before finding the intended one.
A precise taxonomy is a project for a different sort of mind than this visitor’s, but collected here are depictions and motifs of various major and minor troupes found amongst the chaos. There are no official monikers.
Upon the shoulders of an albino orc rides a flagrantly voluptuous fiend, nude but draped in straps and chains and satchels bursting with thousands of wedding rings and other courtship jewelry. Unravellers crowd around, presenting more stolen offerings, announcing them with glee.
“An engagement brooch gifted by Marian of Moara unto Nerile of Alvarus: its loss confirms to Marian his uncertainty about their impending matrimony!” The orc passes the brooch to the woman on his shoulders, who seizes it and shrieks “his uncertainty about their impending matrimony!”
“These two wedding bands of Nestor and Iranda of Orsic, liberated by gloves removed after a cold day of hard work, their loss symbolizing their mutually growing dispassion and neglect!” The woman holds them aloft, crying “their mutually growing dispassion and neglect!”
In the Procession behind them floats a palanquin flowing with satin and gold, resting upon gently roiling purple flames and mounted by succubi and incubi regaling the giddy crowd with tales of how they led lovers astray. At moments the crowd crows in unison “and they never rejoined again!”
Following are the dream doubtlings: insightful and petty sprites who twist the characters of those in dreams—the reason why the dreamt version of your lover so often betrays and disappoints. Towering black wagons, each its own twisted shrine groping upward, rattle forth towed by teams of glinting scaled buffalo. The dream doubtlings swarm the wagons, painting small icons with scenes of confusion and dissonance slipped into sleeping minds, leaving as offerings the relics gathered from their degenerate wanderings.
The march presents every romantic discord imaginable. These Unravellers scour the multiverse and return with the stories and mementos of their spoils: arguments rehashed ad nauseam, miscommunications entrenched, wandering eyes tempted, widowings celebrated, unrequited infatuations goaded, doubts sown, tempers boiled, backs stabbed, families sundered, promises mocked.
Romantic Unravellers insist that relationships are not tampered with without cause; then again a cause can nearly always be found. Beholding the wanton crowd, however, this visitor searched and found no malice. In fact, she joined the revelry for a time, finding resonance in the finitude of attachment, even stepping outside herself to share in the call-and-response. This community is joined together by sweat and joy and celebration of dissolution given gravitas by the gravitas of the thing being dissolved. To revel in the sunk cost: all of that effort for nothing—exactly! One mortal found here was so wooed in the course of an unravelling that he had abandoned his life to join the parade. He is likely not the only one to have done so.
To its connoisseurs, the loss of knowledge is the purest manifestation of the irreversibility of the Inevitability, and they carry out this duty with appropriate grandeur and an incredible amount of fire: the erasure of information is inextricably linked to the dissipation of heat, and a hot haze always hangs over the troupe.
It is led of course by a colossal bonfire, stretching several dozen yards along the Procession, onto which all kinds of material are flung. Each item—books, journals, letters, manifestos, scrolls, records, all lost and stolen and gathered from around the multiverse—is, before its destruction, read aloud in its entirety by one of the hundreds of Unravellers who march slowly beside the bonfire, bedecked in garish parodies of scholarly garb, their voices inaudible above the din of the fire and other recitations. Occasional choruses of “hear hear!” break out in response to particularly emphatic oration but of course no one, especially not the orators themselves, is listening.
The bonfire is followed by a barrow towering with ashes into which a group of Unravellers covered in soot shovels ashes and empties buckets collected from throughout the troupe. The barrow continually overflows and leaves a heaped trail of ash on either side of the Procession.
Not all knowledge can be burned—some must be dismembered and smashed. A wheeled platform hauled by a team of black oxen and laden with tools follows the ash barrow; here are heaped about inventions and technological apparatuses of all sizes awaiting dis-integration. Unravellers hunch over their objectives, all blind and working by their fingers and occasionally mouths, breaking each down into the tiniest components which they toss into troughs that feed a great mill in the middle of the platform, the wheels of which are gears whose motion as the oxen heave forward powers the grinding into dust of everything from simple jury-rigged contraptions to works of creative genius.
These mechanical Unravellers each have their own specialty—certain materials, operating principles, magical sources, or even a culture’s specific technology—for it is not always trivial to destroy a device. Some have accumulated incredible stores of knowledge over aeons of dismemberment, and like all Unravellers are happy to share with travellers, though their knowledge is restricted to what is useful for their duties only: their total disinterest in the actual workings of things ensures that such information is truly lost. Any object relinquished to them will be made short work of, which of course is its own draw for certain visitors.
Several other sections enact the loss of information in their own ways—one small group for instance focuses not on the loss of information itself but on the loss of references to information, such as a library’s indexing system—but this visitor was most entranced by an unusually quiet, arcane ceremony at the tail end of one troupe.
A column of mumbling figures marches somberly, florid and grandly grotesque. Each of these Unravellers has been drawn to single language1 and spends their whole existence shadowing its speakers, often for eons, nudging along in their quiet way the gradual forgetting of that tongue. When the language begins to meet the fate of all languages, the Unraveller starts returning to the Inevitability, each time joining the group to utter one by one the words and concepts that have since been lost to all others, before journeying out again to oversee the the language’s decline.
These are the longest of the Unravellers’ quests. By the time their work comes to fruition they are inevitably ancient, and, though like all petitioners technically unaffected by the passage of time, these language Unravellers bear the glacial elapse of civilization in their form and demeanor, each taking on the distinct trappings of their target in countless layers of sartorial custom and ornamentation below which their bodies wilt into caricatured relics of bygone cultures.
After their final journey, once every remnant of the language has faded from all other minds and records, the Unraveller returns bearing its terminal utterances to lay them on the unlistening ears of their brethren. It is a small ceremony: the Unraveller labors onto a white mule in the center of the group, whose members in response cease their own recitations and join guttural hums together into a frail cacophonous shelter for the Unraveller’s final unheard words.
This Unraveller, as the only mind remaining with knowledge of the language, completes its duty by dismounting the mule and shambling away from the Procession. These may be the only ones to leave the Procession, and presumably like everything eventually crumble into the landscape.
Some travellers regard the knowledge Unravellers as an incredible untapped source, and one crew of mortals has been sending members here for decades to capture all they can gather, straining to hear recitations and snatching remnants from flames. The challenge of course is that although all information may find its way here eventually, this torrent arrives in scattered and random fragments. This visitor encountered one enthusiast, standing by the orating Unravellers lining the leading bonfire, furiously recording notes,2 who was excited to describe the trove of data collected at his tutor’s library but was unable to name any particular discovery. Perhaps some day one will be pieced together.
Erudite Unravellers are eager to explain their theories about what happens here. The consensus is that, even without an observer taking notes, information is never truly lost: a pile of ash may appear the same no matter what book it came from, but in fact every speck of information and shape and detail contained in that book becomes embedded in the configurations of air currents and cinders that resulted from the burning. Everything is reversible in theory. However, not only is such reversibility nearly impossible in practice, but, even more importantly, reversing such a process only further increases energy use and disorder elsewhere in the total environment. Unravellers are delighted to see outsiders perform this role: launching and supplying their expeditions here, dedicating resources to the archival of information rescued from the brink—information that will, inevitably and one day irretrievably, find its way back here to be truly lost.
Various troupes focus on plans gone awry, but political dissolution in particular entertains a baroque troupe that has no apparent organization: it is a churning gala of gossip. Unravellers promenade about bedecked in gaudy trinkets bragging of their exploits and picking each other’s minds for ideas, quizzing, play-testing microcosms of their plans in the byzantine network of rivalries and alliances among them. Their cleverness matches their pretension.
Unravellers here specialize in individual cultures and kingdoms3 and enact targeted political traumas against them: framed assassinations and thefts, provoked ceasefire violations, sabotaged negotiations, tweaked documents and maps, betrayals small and large triggering everything from internal conflict in a familial dynasty to the collapse of entire civilizations.
Lost magic is the focus of a troupe that consist of a single building, perhaps the only structure here that reaches to great height: a gently floating gray tower, all terraces and staircases, teeming with creatures embedding magical items and gems and arcane trinkets into the wall, all dull and broken, lodged inside and out such that the tower bristles with more foreign matter than stone. An open chamber at the top of the tower is the sole corner of the entire lamina this visitor found to be off-limits, guarded by dozens of large and misshapen golems cobbled together from repurposed relics and filling a narrow spiral staircase, for the top of the tower is where artifacts not-yet-dispelled of their power are brought, and so has been the frequent target of treasure hunters and pursuant prior possessors.
Ancient caches leave behind no recognizable spoils to return to the Inevitability, decaying as they do in place, but long after any trace of the subject remains the quiet, shrewish, sentimental Unravellers of this troupe revisit the sites of their worked entropy and gather the dust or soil or undersea muck left behind to deposit here into yet another enormous barrow containing the rotted dreams of the multiverse.
Buffalo tow a series of wheeled long tables with attached benches, interleaved with metal carts holding cavernous ovens, spits and griddles over bonfires, and heaps of kitchenware. It is a constant, roaring feast. This troupe, known as the Immeasurable Banquet, is spectacularly and rightfully renowned. No other place celebrates and enjoys the culinary arts with such skill and gusto as this one, and cooking is more at home here than anywhere, representing as it does a classic, irreversible thermodynamic transformation.
Many illustrious chefs have partnered with one of these Unravellers, who visit them and act as muses whose force of presence bends physical metamorphoses in the desired directions. Other Unravellers here work as scavengers, looting partially or not-yet decocted goods for use in the banquet. Guests are gladly entertained and welcome to the massive, laden, overflowing tables: clay pots and cauldrons of stew and soup, spit-roasts and pies and confit all baking and frying and boiling and caramelizing; flambés and pastries and prodigious cakes custards and tarts and myriad breads, vaguely organized and continually unloaded upon by platter bearers, wild with color and texture and totally incomprehensible at a distance. Only up close one can identify an actual morsel—an incredible, delectable morsel—to consume.
Waste is as dear to Unravellers as food perfectly cooked, and immediately following the Immeasurable Banquet is a troupe who regularly perform grand sweeps of the tables in front to clear out lost and inedible offscourings into gargantuan composting wagons, churning and overflowing like all other wagons here. The still air fortunately stirs few aromas towards the engrossed banquet in front, but throughout and behind this troupe the odor is tremendous—not so much noxious as simply overwhelming: a ripe, florescent maximalism that triggers every sensation in the nose at once, crowding out other senses. These ponderous, gentle, dedicated Unravellers slip into kitchens and food stores around the multiverse and wreak their slow havoc, returning to bask in the warm ferment of their collected work.
A modest group here oversees the arcane process of the weakening of gods. A small platform bearing a tall and matte black diamond shape, smooth, is carted by some kind of black mammoth. When this visitor arrived, three solemn figures in gothic black plate armor escorted the platform while a fourth stood upon it, resting both hands gently on the monolith. Witnessing the scene bestowed a strong impression of vertigo. These Unravellers were taciturn, relating only that they rarely venture out from the Inevitability but, when they do, it’s rather exciting; other Unravellers appear to know almost nothing of how they function.
Combustion of all types is cherished here and incorporated by many troupes. At least one in particular, the largest of all groupings seen by this visitor, converges upon the purity of fire. This processional inferno stretches from horizon to horizon: entire buildings transported here aflame,4 titanic bins for coal and ash, furniture and ships and trees and tools and bodies piled and ignited, brilliant blooms of red sulking beneath soot heaving skywards. Atop pyres elemental creatures fan the flames with sails and sometimes fling roaring chunks aside to smoulder on the grey ground. Unlike most troupes this one is eerily silent under the crashing of flames: while no less mirthful than any others as they whirl and cavort around their duties, the fire Unravellers are animalistic, instinctual, and mute.
An adjacent troupe shepherds explosions, with wheeled metal scaffolding supporting all manner of detonations including, spectacularly, ones resulting in coruscating patterns and trails of colorful fire. One platform hosted a group of gear-bedecked goblins who appeared to be placing bets and engaging in a sort of game of chicken around who could handle an explosive without detonating themselves—a game which, when the time came, they all appeared to lose at once.
The presence of fire Unravellers is known to ignite nearby materials: indispensable for their extralaminal work but can be a nuisance for travellers here, and so this visitor gave them a wide berth in defense of her written notes. A remote distance is anyway the best vantage from which to appreciate the thunders, flashes, cracks, and flourishes of their exertions.
Weather patterns · Guiding everything from hurricanes to dust storms to earthquakes, these powerful, atavistic Unravellers communicate only through dance and mime.
Aging · Giddy cherubs flitting unseen around mortal lives’ most trying times.
Rust · Trollish Unravellers heap metal objects onto huge vessels sloshing wet brown rust over their sides and onto the ground.
Melting ice and boiling water · As raw as weather or fire Unravellers, but more slippery.
Heat Transfer · Apparently one of the more fundamental undertakings here, these silent Unravellers resemble phantoms and their troupes are sculptural geometric tangles of metal and bone and stone.
Broken furniture · Absolute mayhem, as one might expect.
The only figures that regularly stray from the Procession—never far—are the Tillers. These solitary custodians roam the Procession’s periphery, gathering insufficiently obliterated detritus for further processing, each in the own manner. One appeared to be simply chewing up pieces and spitting them out, and another was followed by a hovering, void-black sphere into which tossed objects vanished. Many Tillers carry little carts behind them: an anvil on which fragments are assembled into meager sculptures and them smashed, a pile of embers on which flammables are ignited, a large sort of mortar and pestle. Other Unravellers perceive the Tillers as something like pets.
Certain individuals are so distinctive, venerable, and skilled as to be treated by locals and visitors alike as demigods of their domains. These Unravellers possess to an alarmingly magnified degree the same entropic aura which in their brethren only delicately guides nature along its course. Around these powers minor calamities unfold as appropriate to each one’s influence: clothing tears, food turns sour, thoughts derail.
Jindl, of broken chairs, a ludicrous gangly figure constantly humming to himself, around whom the ground is the only reliable seat.
Goramor, of malfunctioning mechanical weapons, an unimaginably ancient dwarf with intuitive comprehension of the most alien of devices.
Ahamara, of cooked eggs, an enormous and blind matronly woman, said to hold simultaneously in her awareness each egg being cooked in that instant across the entire multiverse.
Tist, of benevolent surprises gone awry, an attentive, placid feline being in front of whom this visitor immediately made a fool of herself.
Blidibil, of mixed paint, who claims total colorblindness and additionally has an unusual effect on the digestion of nearby mortals.
Slumn, of forgotten words, a tattooed and constantly shouting young man about whom no one can ever recall what he says.
Koli, of greasepaint, a towering jovial man who maintains constant makeup application as his skin grows increasingly disfigured and blotchy under its layers.
Nolasa, of mistaken identities, a tense ranting figure this visitor barrelled into as she feared herself grabbed by a pursuer.
The Bithsa, of faces no longer recognized, an old woman cloaked in obsequious politeness who sadly makes peace with you over some circumstance she turns out not to have had any influence over after all.
Each troupe has its own culture, mannerisms, and endless supply of inside jokes and practices formed over millennia of shared work; they are therefore able to coordinate in ways that are mystifying to an observer. Some are straightforward—for instance any Unraveller from a particular troupe of cooking can shriek “Consume!”, causing all activity to cease and every member to rush to the food-laden tables—while many are more arcane. This visitor witnessed an entire troupe of buried-decomposition Unravellers come to a dead stop, stare at each other wide-eyed, burst out into uncharacteristic cheers, and then simultaneously disappear.5 Some shared trigger periodically inspires fire Unravellers to set their own bodies alight and join by the hundreds into an intricate and primordial dance stretching out past either side of the Procession. Neighboring troupes of cooking and spoiled food occasionally resolve to come together in a stupendous mayhem often resulting in their switching places with one another. Something is always happening.
Unravellers are rarely witnessed en-masse outside their home, generally preferring to work alone and just beyond the peripheral vision of mortals, only sometimes revealing themselves to a chosen individual directly. There are however records (confirmed by Unravellers, who found the concept quite ordinary) of portions of the Procession passing in plain sight through a cardinal world, as if the Inevitability had become contiguous with that realm, but it is unclear what causes this to happen and what role it plays.
Several Unravellers joked that some improbable subject of a query could be found “at the back of the Procession”. Five days’ walk against the flow, passing dozens of distinct troupes each ranging from a few to a thousand yards long, of course found no such rear. The dominant theory is that the Procession, if not infinite, at least loops back onto itself somehow. Indeed the route does twist and turn, and this visitor met the same romantic discord Unraveller at the beginning and the end of her journey here,6 but whether he was in fact found in the same troupe or instead had returned to a different troupe after an extralaminar journey was unclear to everyone involved: the troupe looked similar and divvied its tasks in the same manner, but lacked any surefire landmarks, and while the first time it was bracketed by weather Unravellers in front and knowledge Unravellers behind, the second time it was proceeded by knowledge Unravellers and followed by food Unravellers.7
Despite their differences in style and sophistication, Unravellers have boundless good will for their brethren, but a misunderstood cult of crystallization here draws curiosity from some and suspicion from all. This visitor did not meet these Unravellers directly, but encountered consistent hearsay.
The crystal Unravellers shepherd the formation of crystals: they collect and grow them in chains of careful glass cabinet carts covered in alchemical contraptions and towed gently by glassy-eyed deer. A chill hangs over their tidy troupes, abutting the heat of their neighbors, and these Unravellers have a reverent and deliberate demeanor. Each focuses on a particular reaction or substance, and whether here or on their calls to cardinal worlds they appear to spend their time simply watching crystals grow.
You could be forgiven for seeing this project as entirely distinct from the rest of the Inevitability’s ethos, but they insist that it is to the same end. One political Unraveller, morbidly keen on her kin’s alien endeavor, was able to relate the justification they provide for their work: that the formation of crystals does indeed increase organization within the crystallizing substance in the way Unravellers fear, but that in the circumstances that favor crystallization—circumstances these Unravellers ensure—the act of crystallization gives off heat that disorders the crystal’s surroundings in a way that more than compensates for its newfound internal order. Regardless, the enterprise makes their fellow Unravellers uneasy.
Scholarly Unravellers will assert that this lamina is responsible for the passage of time itself, citing as evidence the link between the Unravellers’ efforts and the flow of spontaneous effects (fire, decay, dissolution). Run time backwards and these are the things which no longer make sense: wood unburns, food unspoils, memories return. Unravellers are responsible for these processes that define the march of time, responsible perhaps for the expectation that cause precede effect.
In hypothetical perfect states of equilibrium or reversibility, these expectations break down, and entropy need not always increase—in other words, the passage of time no longer matters. Accordingly, anything which interferes with time is terrifying to an Unraveller, and has the potential to render them powerless. This visitor did not encounter any too familiar with such possibilities, but all recoiled at a description of the timelessness of the CartographyA lifeless and lethally suffocating expanse that contains every moment of every location in the multiverse, frozen and duplicated here in shades of grey.Turn to chapter, a fearful realm for them in which nothing happens spontaneously, and in the manipulations of mortals actions run forwards as easily as they run backwards.
Another natural question is, where does this process end? If entropy always increases, is there some maximum at which no usefulness remains in the multiverse, life is no longer possible, and time essentially ceases? This appears to be both the Unravellers’ collective nightmare and their intended destination.
What happens when a troupe completes its work? Are there any that have already done so? According to a pair of ancient language Unravellers (as they bickered over particulars), the passage of time and state of the multiverse on the largest scale can be understood through the distribution of activities in the Inevitability. There are myths of a distant past here in which all Unravellers—at that time apparently primitive, wordless sprites—worked furiously towards the same now-unknown task, in an unrecognizable landscape of ferocious plasmic energy. In this accounting, the present time is a golden age of diverse activity, with its innumerable troupes and near-infinite sub-flavors of entropy, and towards the distant future the more sophisticated pursuits of politics and learning will be the first to die out, followed by the baser ones of deconstruction and the processes of life, before finally even combustion and weather patterns fade, leaving only the raw actions of chemistry and matter Unravellers, proliferating to disperse the remaining energy.
Likely the language they spoke in life, though the relationship between petitioner and past mortal life is too tenuous to confirm this.↩︎
He was able to concurrently transcribe details of grain levies in an unknown province, the lineage of a king named Elsevelsever the Exalted, and an anonymous love letter.↩︎
As is so often the case here, that expertise is sought out by visitors and gladly shared.↩︎
It is probably more accurate to say that the OrdialThe membrane that divides laminae from cardinal worlds, a membrane which can be forded by various means.Turn to chapter thins such that the building becomes visible on this lamina↩︎
A cherubic age Unraveller from the adjacent troupe guessed cheerily that another civilization had been swallowed by an earthquake.↩︎
It was on this second encounter, before leaving the lamina, that this visitor passed several agreeable days with the troupe, conversing with them and accompanying some on their excursions.↩︎
A happy—if overindulgent—concurrence with this visitor’s short abeyance here.↩︎