The Structure Of The Metaverse

The Metaverse

The Metaverse is a great, shifting metaphysical plane existing outside of the boundaries of physical reality. There aren’t any clear answers as to when it came into being, or who created it (if indeed it was created by any entity). In fact, certainties about the Metaverse can be frustratingly elusive, and rules that seem ironclad at first can seem much more porous with scrutiny, or even change entirely over time.

Despite this, there are a few accepted truths about the Metaverse that are safe to share. The first truth is that there is a connection between the Metaverse and dreams- or perhaps more specifically, the unconscious. The Metaverse seems to be influenced by the dreams, beliefs and ideas of humanity. Indeed, the Metaverse can be seen as a giant melting pot of human emotion, dream and subconscious, which explains, at least a little, why it is so nebulous, chaotic and treacherous.

The second truth is that the Metaverse reacts powerfully to thought and emotion. In this place, powerful thoughts, wishes, desires, fears, hopes and more have tangible effects. People with particularly strong wills can impose that will on the Metaverse, even shaping parts of it at will.

The third truth is that the Metaverse, perhaps reacting to some base concept in human psychology, has some level of organisation. At the top of the Metaverse, closest to the waking mind, is the Library of Alexandria, which is seemingly orderly and structured and reliable. Below that is the Sea of Chaos, which is the Metaverse in its rawest form as a swirling storm of dreams, in which ideas are given life.

The fourth truth of the Metaverse reflects the first truth. The human mind influences the Metaverse in dream and idea. But the street runs both ways. The Metaverse can creep into the human mind.

The Structure of the Metaverse

The Metaverse is laid out into two strata. At the top is the organised Library of Alexandria, which is assumed to sit just below the conscious, physical ‘Waking World’. Below it is the Sea of Chaos.

The Library of Alexandria

The Library of Alexandria, typically just known as either The Library or Alexandria, is the highest stratum of the Metaverse. It is thought to exist just below the Waking World, because those who go from the Waking World into the Metaverse of their own will pass into the Library first.

The Library takes the form of a literal library, albeit one of fantastic nature. To most eyes, it appears as a grandiose, palatial building where the floors are made of rose sandstone and the walls of marble, although almost every wall is hidden by bookcases of white wood that stretch almost entirely to the roof, every shelf of which is stuffed tight with books of every colour and style. The narrow space between the top of bookcases and the roof is crammed with crystal windows, that let in a tranquil orange twilight glow, as though the sun had just sunk beneath the horizon. The Library always seems to be kept clean and in good condition.

If one were to investigate these sights, though, questions would be raised immediately. The bookcases are warm to the touch, and if one were to try to move such a bookcase away from the wall, they would realise they could not: the bookcases are fused to the wall. Rather, living wood seems to grow out of the wall, and it is this wood that becomes the bookcases. Furthermore, no matter how high one climbs, the crystal windows always seem to be just above head height. No matter where one looks, there’s never a door to the outside of the Library; the only doors lead down into the Sea of Chaos, or up into the Waking World.

Much of the Library is made up of seemingly straight corridors that intersect with one another regularly. Yet no matter how far one walks or the pattern they travel, their journey always ends surprisingly quickly in one of two places: the Pharos and the Porta.

The Pharos sits at what is assumed to be the centre of the Library. It is a grand, round multi-storey room, where the corridors end in ramps that curl upwards and around the edges of the chamber, up towards the roof. The roof itself cannot be seen, for not only is it far from the ground, but shines with a bright white light. Spacious storeys jut out of the walls, each laden with desks and more heavy bookshelves. The most distinctive feature sits in the middle of the room: Sophia, the Tree of Knowledge. A gigantic white tree whose roots seem to be buried beneath the sandstone ground, the tree stretches all the way to the very roof, and its branches rest over storeys all the way up. It is from the loose bark of this tree that the evokers’ tomes are made.

The Porta is much smaller, for whilst the great domed chamber is as wide as the Pharos, it is far less tall. A dome of crystal sits at the top, glowing and sparkling in the twilight. The Porta is bereft of any books at all; instead its walls are lined great reinforced doors, most of which are sealed. Only two doors are open: a door leading to the rest of the Library, and another door that connects to the Waking World. In the centre of the Porta is a fountain, from which flows water the colour of red wine.

No one has any recollection of talking to an occupant of the Library, if indeed the Library has anyone or anything who call it home. Sometimes, an Evoker will see in the distance translucent glowing figures walking amongst the corridors, looking at and touching the books, but these figures quickly fade into nothingness a few seconds after being noticed.

The full function of the Library is a mystery, but some basic facts are known, or assumed to be known. For starters, the Library contains no less than the full sum of human knowledge and awareness, stored within its books. Everything known by any human who has ever lived- every secret, every sight- is stored within its tomes. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to access any of it. The Library does not keep books by topic; instead, every single book in its Library reflects the whole content of a single person, dead or alive- every conscious thought, written on the pages. However, although the books seem to have a mere 300 or 400 pages, actually taking a book and opening it reveals that the pages continue seemingly forever- and that each book is written in a language unique to the book. The languages resist translation, and the only person able to read a book is the book’s ‘owner’.

The second function of the Library seems to be that of a buffer or filter between the Sea of Chaos and the Waking World. Repression is a powerful construct within the Sea of Chaos, and this drives the Sea as a whole to press ‘upwards’, seeking ever to break into the Waking World. The Library does not ‘block’ this, but instead soaks up the invading energy. If the Library were not there, the Sea of Chaos would break into the Waking World and collapse physical reality into itself, destroying humanity and, some assume, the Sea as well. Thus the Library protects reality from this fate. That said, the energies of the Sea absorbed by the Library are not destroyed. Instead, the Library processes these energies and feeds them in manageable trickles into the books of those still living. The books are not inert, dead things but living constructs tied directly to the minds of their owners. In this way, the Sea enters the minds of the living, but in small ways, subtle ways, as an energy that can be controlled and used productively.

That said, the Library is not infallible. The interplay between Waking World, Library and Sea is delicate, and events in the Waking World and the Sea can impact all parts of the trinity. When the Sea surges, the Library struggles to dissipate it all, and the energies absorbed by the books are not as filtered as they should be. When that happens, the waking humans become more susceptible to the Sea’s whims, and their thoughts have a stronger impact on the Sea’s form and nature. The ultimate risk is that this forms a type of loop, where an intense event causes human attention to focus strongly on an individual. When this happens, the Sea can bridge itself to the person in a way too direct for the Library to handle. This is where it is possible for a human being’s conscious to be submerged into the Sea and become a Shadow. Once this process begins, there is only a limited window of opportunity to save the person, for so long as they remain a Shadow, they bleed the miasma of the Sea into the Library, threatening to overwhelm its filtering effects; past a certain point, the person is unrecoverable, as their book in the Library becomes permanently corrupted. At that point, the Sea begins bypassing the Library’s defenses, pumping miasma into the real world and the Library both. At this point, the only method left to prevent total contamination is to kill the person.

The Sea of Chaos

The stratum below the Library is a great formless mass of emotion and psychic energy where reality has no meaning beyond that which sufficiently powerful minds can give it. This stratum, the lowest and largest, is known as the Sea of Chaos.

The Sea of Chaos is a seemingly infinite realm where the subconscious emotions and psychological pressures of humanity coalesce. The Sea is free of inherent logic or rationality, which liberates it from the need to have a standard, comprehensible form. Instead, it exists in a state of constant change, influenced and reactive to humanity’s concerns and feelings. The Sea is constantly expanding, as more emotion flows into it, yet much of the Sea remains mostly inert.

Indeed, despite its ominous name, the Sea itself is neither good nor evil. It is simply a metaphysical space carved out by the sheer mass of humanity’s combined emotional residue. What makes the Sea dangerous is not its inherent nature, but rather its reactiveness to external, human pressures. Powerful emotions and massive psychological pressures can change the human mind easily, and the Sea of Chaos is just as susceptible to those same things. Intense emotion and pressure can force the Sea to take shape or change, and of all of these elements, few match the power of psychological repression.

‘Repression’: the act of rejecting, often involuntarily, ideas, thoughts, feelings, beliefs and memories from the conscious mind that one considers painful, harmful, unwanted or otherwise bad. Banished from the conscious, these feelings are pushed deep into the subconscious. But banishment from the consciousness doesn’t mean gone. Those repressed feelings are always there, exerting a pull on one’s desires, creating anxiety and neurosis. Why does repression have such a powerful impact in the Sea of Chaos? Because repression has such a major effect on psychology, but also because it’s omnipresent. Everyone has something they don’t want to acknowledge as being part of them. Often, repression is less than healthy, and it need not be ‘bad’ thoughts that are repressed. Consider the stories of righteous men feeling sexual attraction and blaming witches for ‘tempting’ them, or the stories of those who hid and pushed down their kind hearts in order to appeal tough. Human society is incredibly repressed, even in modern, ‘liberated’ societies, people repress desires and beliefs and memories that they find confronting, or to appease society’s whims. This is often despite the fact that acknowledging a desire is not the same as giving into it.

The effect repression has on the Sea of Chaos is simple: repressed desires want to be acknowledged and indeed, should be. This changes the emotion, giving it a want- the urge to be recognised. This urge acts as a seed of sentience in the Sea of Chaos, shaping itself into self-aware, living incarnations of raw repressed emotion: Shadows. These Shadows possess minds of their own, and it is minds- human and Shadow both- that can shape the Sea of Chaos. A sufficiently powerful mind can control emotion, after all, and so those minds can exert dominance over parts of the Sea.

This repression, which infuses the Sea, pushing the raw mass of the Sea ‘upward’ toward the Waking World, toward reality and the minds of its creators. This raw mass, which is known as ‘miasma’, is easily shaped and twisted by the mind. Weak minds can often endanger themselves when exposed to miasma, as their nightmares and repressed thoughts are given strength and become Shadows. Powerful minds, however, can use the miasma as a resource, allowing it to embody their inner resolve, should they have such a clear awareness of themselves: the Persona.

This malleability means that in the Sea of Chaos, perception and resolve are god. Mass human perception can change the Sea of Chaos by drawing attention to specific things, empowering the focus of all that attention. Such powerful minds can then create their own realms within the Sea, known as ‘Dream Theatres’. Here, they exist in a world of their own making, serving as its supreme being. The most dangerous of these are the Archetype Shadows. When an event causes mass attention to focus on an individual, their presence in the Sea grows. Fed by their repression, this presence becomes a Shadow that then seeks to grow more powerful and subvert its creator. Archetype Shadows are dangerous, because if left long enough, their unique connection directly to a human mind can allow them to completely subsume the conscious within themselves. When this happens, the human is conquered by their Shadow, and becomes an Incarnate: a being of tremendous power, a living avatar of the Sea of Chaos, capable of walking in the Waking World and acting as a direct gate for the miasma to pass through.

Unfortunately, because miasma is so shaped by the psyche, its effects on the real world can be disastrous. As miasma flows into the Waking World, it makes the world more malleable, more reactive to perception and belief. If miasma were to absolutely saturate the world, it would mean that the word ‘reality’ would be meaningless, and everything would be subject to the whims of the mind. A few with mental strength and awareness needed to tame the miasma would thrive, but most of humanity would be overwhelmed as reality gave way to the inner fears and desires of its occupants. It is unknown what would happen from there, but chances are society and humanity would likely not survive it, and if humanity went, what would happen to the Sea of Chaos?

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