WORLD’S FIRST ANOMALY
A massive splash trounced into the air as Lino bottomed into the tranquil lake hiding behind the Palace, swirling through its crystal-clear depths as the world around him warped tepidly. Just a few moments had passed before he found himself standing in the same room as he remembered, lined with white for infinity, hosting only a single table and a chair on top of which the familiar face rested.
Lino smiled faintly as the old man grunted, sighing while putting the papers in front of him away and focusing on Lino who didn’t say a word, merely taking out a gourd of ale, sitting down and drinking. Minutes ticked on as neither spoke, intently staring at each other.
“You have a problem,” the old man was the first to crack. “Well, problems. But the booze tops the charts.”
“No, no,” Lino shook his head. “I’d have a problem with booze if, you know, I was unable to purify it with Qi so there were no lasting consequences.”
“... but you don’t even do that.” the old man said, looking dubiously at Lino.
“Of course I don’t,” the latter shrugged. “What’s the point of booze if it does the same thing to my body as water?”
“... you know, if you were really serious about booze,” the old man smirked, suddenly taking out a strange glass and putting it on table. “You wouldn’t be drinking that cheap stuff made by mortals.”
“What’s that?” Lino asked with interest, his eyes glistening.
“This? It’s called [Fervent Dew], a specialty of my Cl--uh, my, hometown. It’s made from four thousand different herbs all processed on an individual level before being compounded into the fresh water of a lake near, uh, my hometown, known for making even the calmest of beasts go mad.”
“Uhuh, uhuh. So, uh, you think I could have a sip?” Lino asked, licking his lips.
“Sure. If you think you can handle it.”
“...” jolting over, Lino quickly picked up the strange-looking glass with a bulge at the bottom, thinning out over to the top, and popped it open, immediately beginning to drink it as though it was water. The old man went from nodding with a smirk to shrieking as he saw Lino down half the bottle in one go, quickly taking it away.
“What the hell are you doing?!!” the old man cried out. “This is one my last few bottles!! Y-you--you don’t drink it like it’s water!”
“Oh man,” Lino burped loudly. “That’s good shit.”
“That’s---that’s good... that’s---”
“Hey, are you having a stroke or something?” Lino asked. “You look purple.”
“... you win.” the old man said dejectedly, slumping down into the chair and putting away the bottle. “You don’t have a booze problem.”
“... yeah, whatever. Anyway, what’s your name?”
“Why?” the old man asked, creasing his brows.
“Well, I figured just calling you ‘grampa’ right out the gate would be a bit too familiar, so I settled on, you know, calling you Grampa plus your name. Like Grampa Frank. Still affectionate, but some ways to go, you know?”
“... I---I’m not your grandfather!!”
“Oof, poor Ella would be heartbroken if she knew you don’t even think of her as your own granddaughter.”
“... heh, I think I finally understand how all those people felt,” the old man sighed, shaking his head. “I used to laugh at them, you know? I’d see them getting their tongues tied up, and I’d think to myself ‘geez, those guys are idiots. Just say this and that’. But I get it. You can’t say this or that. ‘Cause all you want to do is cry.”
“... wow. I think this is my first confessional,” Lino chuckled, walking over and grabbing at the old man’s shoulder firmly. “Don’t feel bad, Grampa. Your old heart simply isn’t built for the pace of the youth. And by youth I mean me, of course.”
“... what do you want?” the old man sighed in defeat.
“Of course you do...”
“First, the promised reward,” Lino said. “To answer my question.”
“What’s Primal Chaos?” clearly not expecting Lino’s question, the old man brow’s tightened as his eyes shone in peculiar light.
“... I don’t think that’s something you should know even exists at this stage of your development.”
“But I do, so, yeah. Spill it.”
“Can’t you just ask Ataxia? I’d wager he knows far more than me.”
“Oh, yeah, sure. He’s definitely always in the mood to answer things that bear some relevance to my situation, and he’s definitely not in playing the silent game all the fucking time.”
“... yeah, that sounds about right.” the old man took a deep breath, chuckling faintly and finding a small sense of joy in seeing Lino so frustrated. “Truthfully, I don’t know much about the Primal Chaos either --- none of us do. It predates the concept of space and time, the concept of existence itself. It’s been here, at least we theorize, before even the First Scripture, which means that nobody really knows where it comes from. What little we do know of it comes mostly from the Titans.”
“... huh. So you know of their origin?” Lino asked.
“And so do you it seems.” the old man said. “But, yes, we do. After all, quite a few of them were Descenders themselves back in the day. The best we know is that Primal Chaos is the first form of both energy and matter to exist; for instance, chance is that both matter and energy in some shape or form existed prior to it, but that the Primal Chaos is the first combination of the two, the creation of corporeal force of sorts.”
“As far as we’re aware, it had the same properties as independent matter and energy in addition to a few it obtained through the fusion. It could create life, it could create concepts, laws, other forms of independent energy and matter -- for instance, Chaos Qi that you cultivate is technically an offshoot of the Primal Chaos, but only as a form of energy, while Titans for instance are the form of matter. We’re certain, however, that the Primal Chaos is not responsible for creation of pretty much anything we associate with existence; it did not create concepts of life and death, of time or space, didn’t even create the First Scripture or other Writs.”
“The concurrent theory,” the old man said, tapping his finger against the table. “That the Writs and the First Scripture are the manifestations of different Primordial Matters and Energies. It’s the so-called ‘Ordered Creation from Entropy’ theory on the beginning of the world. Chances are, however, that it’s wrong as most of the recent findings go against it, but a large majority of cultivators still firmly believe in it. That before there was sentience, the entire universe -- however small or large it may have been -- was entirely composed of independent forms of matter and energy, and that through the course of infinite time -- as time didn’t exist -- and countless interactions, certain frictions caused the first Primordial Matters and Energies to emerge with capacity of creation or at least augmentation.”
“...” the old man chuckled as he saw Lino’s confused expression.
“Think of it like this -- Primal Chaos is the only form of pre-time existence that we’re certain actually existed. It means that even if other matter and energy did exist in concert with it, they did not survive the creation of the universe -- this could mean one of two things: either other matter and energy literally bound together to create the universe, or they were evaporated in the process with the Primal Chaos surviving independently.”
“... you told me a lot of things, but still failed to explain what Primal Chaos actually is and does.” Lino whined lowly.
“Ha ha, goddamn you’re a persistent brat. I did tell you -- we don’t know. We’ve never seen it being used for anything other than the Titan’s Creation. Or, rather, we haven’t seen it, just heard about it. Most of what we know when it comes to Primal Chaos is purely theory. That’s why I told you you should probably ask Ataxia. After all, he’s the anomaly.”
“The anomaly?” Lino asked.
“For eons now, we have deducted that nature works entirely in patterns,” the old man said. “Day and night, seasons, cyclic form of existence and so on. You’ll find that most things in nature are binary and that they come in even pairs, with very, very few exceptions that act as sort of mutations. For instance, Primal Spirits always come in pairs -- meaning that they’re at their strongest when paired together. A bit paradoxical considering that the pairs are the opposites, but it’s true. Laws also come in pairs -- Life and Death, Time and Space, Light and Dark, Wind and Earth... life itself comes in a pair, really, as nearly all species known to us are comprised of two mates of opposite sexes doing it.”
“If that’s the case, then, why is it that one of the first things to come into existence... doesn’t follow that pattern? Why are there Seven Writs instead of, say, six or eight?”
“... don’t they come in pairs, though?” Lino questioned. “If so, isn’t Chaos and Order pretty much the closest you can come to a proper pair of opposites?”
“It’s different with Writs,” the old man explained. “They, too, work the best in pairs, but not the opposites -- for instance, it’s not the Writs of Light and Dark that are paired as much sense as it may make. The Writ of Dark is paired with the Writ of Nihility, while the Writ of Light is paired with the Writ of Eternity. The Writ of Order, then, is paired with the Writ of Spoken Word. That leaves the odd one out.”
“... the Writ of Entropy.” Lino mumbled.
“... Chaos is default state of being for everything,” the old man said. “However, once you inject order into it, it ceases to exist by nature. The moment you introduce patterned concepts, the entire notion of Chaos collapses. By all accounts, the Chaos should have ceased to exist with the creation of the universe. But it didn’t. It came into being, and it lived for a little while alongside others. But, as other Writs, and other Creations began to understand the Laws of Nature, it wasn’t that hard to realize that Chaos... simply doesn’t belong. Ataxia was an outsider long before Gaia came into being and formed the anti-Chaos faction.”
“... w-what?” Lino mumbled, his eyes widening like saucers.
“The truth is, however, that most people aren’t aware of this,” the old man chuckled. “Rather, not a single Bearer outside of you actually knows about this. Prior to the confirmation of Primal Chaos’ existence... most believed Chaos was a visual representation of Evil itself, and many religions started at the time linked it to the Test from Gods; he who shall succumb to Chaos shall eternally suffer in its troves, they used to say. Now... well, now you know as much as I do about the Primal Chaos. I bet you love the fact that you asked that question, he he.”
“... what are the chances of me living the rest of my life in denial, thinking all of this was just your way to enact revenge on me?” Lino asked, bitterly chuckling.
“... you may live in denial of a lot of things, and it may be your greatest weapon... but I very much doubt you can make yourself genuinely believe that.”
“...” it wasn’t that Lino was particularly disturbed in regards to himself; after all, this revelation hardly affected him in the long run. However, it did clear up a lot of confusion regarding Ataxia himself; why the Primes were so against him acting out in the open and unwilling to help, why other Empyreans fought desperately and above their means to try and uncover the truth, and why the fact that Lino somehow managed to ‘create’ Primal Chaos meant so much to everyone. It wasn’t merely that being able to do it made him somehow stronger or better than previous Empyreans... it was that it validated Ataxia’s very existence in this world.