|HALL OF MIRRORS THEORY↴|
Imagine a single prism of light in a vast hall of mirrors. As each beam extends outward, it will reflect from a mirrors lining the walls, which will in turn reflect from another mirror, and so on, until the original source of the light has been faded or mingled with enough other images that it is unrecognizable. This is how the the multiverse works. Powerful concepts radiate down through creation, resulting in mirror images of the original image being created in multiple universes, gradually diverging from the source that formed them. Some of these images may result in unique shapes and patterns, while others may be far more common.
Earth is a Starbucks of the multiverse, so common that it is sometimes found right across the street from itself. A lot of different universes contain one, and even more universes contain something that resembles one. Humanity isn’t the only Starbucks concept out there, of course. There are other species and other planets that are just as prevalent across the multiverse, but the Ringmaster tends to stay in a fairly humanoid neighbourhood, because the culture shock gets to be a bit much the further out you go. That, and humans and fae have some pretty strong universal ties.
In a multiverse built of reflections, many species claim to be the original source that all other reflections are created in the image of. Being “the Source” is a big deal, and so there is an equally large amount of debate and squabbling about the subject, for people who actually care about these things. Most of the High Fae believe that humanity is a distant reflection of themselves, a faded derivative that is so far from its original source of greatness that it’s had most of the worthwhile things stripped from it. It would, from their perspective, at least explain why there are so damn many of them. Of course, one could attempt to argue this in reverse, and say that the fae are but the image of a human with the grand chaos of the multiverse layered on top until it becomes something else entirely.
The High Fae would not entertain this notion, of course, because very few humans are ever in the situation to debate philosophy with these ‘higher beings.’
Images created from the light of the same source will retain a familiar essence between them, even if the specifics turn out differently. The image of a demon, though it may change or mix with other concepts, will share that common ancestry with the demons of another world. Like conceptual bloodlines, these traits both unite and divide the residents of the multiverse.
TYPES OF UNIVERSES↴
All of these words can end up being used interchangeably in common parlance, but for the sake of this explanation they will be given specific definitions based on how they interact with the rest of the multiverse.
► UNIVERSE: The most common feature of the multiverse, individual universes are the foundation that the multiverse is built on. Their sizes and content may vary, though most appear infinite from the inside and have lifeforms and other points of interest spread out very sparsely. Most points of civilization within these universes never encounter each other due to the great amounts of space and time separating them. No one knows why most universes developed to be such wastes of space, but it is what it is.
► DIMENSION: A dimension is an individual layer of a universe. A universe may have many dimensional layers or only one dimension layer, depending on how complicated its structure is. These dimensions are tied together more closely than completely separate universes would be, and are usually built upon the same foundation - for example, a metaphysical realm of thought constructs may overlap with a physical dimension, created by the mental energies of those that live within it. Or, there may be a foundation of a physical universe with cosmological dimensional layers like heaven or hell that interact with it closely.
Not all dimensional layers will cover the full breadth of the universe they are part of, and many will be localized based on the specific phenomenon that’s causing them. Universes that are rich with magical energies tend to have many dimensional layers to them, as powerful metaphysical energies have a tendency to build these external layers over time. Though much of the time it will appear that additional layers are built upon a core foundation, it’s also possible for these dimensions to be distinct and equally balanced, as long as they interact with each other as an intimate unit.
Sometimes two universes that were once completely separate will gradually merge, becoming a single universe with multiple distinct layers. These layers may all become less distinct over time, sometimes going as far to become a single layer, with the traits of both universes completely merged. Of course, this most often results in an apocalyptic event for both universes involved, due to the disastrous complexities involved.
► TIMELINE: A timeline has some similarities to a dimension realm, in that multiple timelines may combine to create a single universe - however, timelines are usually far more fragile than a true dimensional layer, and will often form or collapse based on the actions of the willful life within it. In some universes it is impossible to create multiple timelines. In others, timelines will only come into being due to the willful tampering of the life within it, and may or may not collapse or have disastrous effects on the stability of the universe they’re formed in.
In extreme circumstances, new timelines may be created whenever the path of fortune divides, millions of timelines forming and collapsing in an endless spiral towards infinity. Most of the world travelling multiverse considers universes like this to baffling to observe and even more baffling to interact with. They have a reputation for being unstable and overly complex, and so outside travellers tend to give them a wide berth, lest they be caught in its infinite spiral.
► REALM: Realms are similar to universes, except that they are far more compact and far more fine tuned to their residents. Once could call them “pocket universes,” except that some realm dwellers may find that demeaning, as they generally consider realms to be superior to full universes, perceiving universes to be full of a lot of unnecessary mess and confusion. Realms are completely self sustaining, and are usually kept running with magic as opposed to the raw physics of larger universes. This means that they will never collapse or succumb to heat death as long as they are filled with beings powerful enough to fuel their structures. The larger a realm is the more power it takes to maintain - the absolute largest realm that one might find would be the size of an average solar system.
Realms are technically susceptible to forming dimensional layers and split timelines, but almost never do, due to the minimal amount of chaotic elements they contain. On average, realms are metaphysically tidier and more stable than universes, which is why many realm dwellers look down on universe dwellers as lesser forms of life. The High Fae originate from a particularly large realm called Arcadia or Faerie, and claim to be one of the first realms to ever inhabit the multiverse.
There is no calculable physical distance between universes, as concepts of space don’t exist outside of them. A better way to conceive of distances in the multiverse is with the idea of attuning to various frequencies that align a particular plane of existence. Consider the dial of a radio - though, while you turn it, you are not actually travelling through physical space, you can be further or closer to certain channels based on what frequency you are currently sitting at. Unless you have a channel saved to one of the buttons, it will take some time to dial to the right frequency, especially if you’re bringing an entire realm with you like the Ringmaster does.
How time functions will vary between universes, but the bulk of multiverse is united in that time is always moving forward. How quickly or slowly time moves relative to different universes will vary too, but most universes do have a time that is considered to be “current,” which will be the default temporal destination of anyone arriving from outside of it. Travellers with a knowledge of how to move back and forth through time will be able to do so also, though it will have temporal consequences to the whole of the universe they’ve affected.
Different laws of magic and reality will pertain to different universes, and so those with magical abilities will often find that they are significantly less powerful in a foreign universe than they would have been on their homeworld. This is because, though the differences may be subtle, the new universe will not be able or willing to accommodate their homeworld’s reality, and as such will attempt to reformat these powers into something their destination universe considers acceptable. Some species are more capable of gaming this system than others, which is a major feature in determining who the real multiversal powerhouses are. Those inclined towards interdimensional travel, and who are able to keep the bulk of their power when doing so, are the biggest threats and major forces at work across the multiverse.
Still, an entity will always be at their strongest when within their own domain, which is enough reason for many travel-capable species to mostly stay at home.