So Stablehand just got fucking terrifying today
But once again, I just made up something that was such a concept it scared me
So, I’ve sort of been messing around with the idea of “Soul”, as an opposite… force? I guess? to Void. Void is the main supernatural/Weird thing that affects Stablehand’s planet. Because Void permeates the universe of Aluma, people can use the magic-like “cirque” to manipulate their environment and make cool technologies, travel to and from the Aether that Void comes from, and transform themselves into cyborg-like technotranscendents or furry-like biotranscendents. Eterea, often called mystery beings, are creatures made of Void that come from the Void (aka Aether); people can become more like Eterea through absorbing Void, making them invulnerable but less “alive” and more like abstract concepts.
There are also a select few species, sometimes fancifully called “magical creatures”, which only exist because of Void hybridising with traditional living things, and would not exist without both of these elements. The fae-like (or insect-like) Sirrita and their artificial unicorn-like creations the Kkharun are two of these. Tentatively, domestic selectively-bred creatures called “terrorlizards” that exist in Hinotoria, resembling dinosaurs but much more exaggerated and reptilian (they’re a soft-edged parody of bad palaeoart with which I’m hoping to maybe get people to separate fantastical “terrorlizards” from realistic “dinosaurs” and be more creative with their terrorlizard design than resorting to the same old stereotypes :p), may also be “magical creatures”.
So that’s a review of what Void is.
Void is also a word used in the Attribute system—defined as the “low extreme” of the attribute system, versus its “high extreme” Soul. Each of the three binary attunements that create the eight attributes have a Soul and a Void value (A, E, or X versus T, T, or Z), making attributes from TTZ (Void-Void-Void, named Machination) to AEX (Soul-Soul-Soul, named Esteem).
For a long time I did not separate “Soul” as a force from “Void” as a force, thinking in Stablehand’s canonical world, Soul was really just a kind of Void. I still largely treat things that way, sticking to the canon that all the Attributes come from the Aether and Aluma only has attributes because of the Aether. But eventually, I decided that Soul was sometimes an actual force distinct from Void that comes from somewhere other than the Aether.
So where does Soul come from, what is it, and what’s up with it?
Well, I don’t know. I’ve had no idea. It’s just been a mysterious Thing that kind of existed rarely in small amounts, that I’ve only recently started to make into its own framework.
What’s been established about Soul
Soul is a force of life and liveliness, though it’s not vitalistically intertwined with living beings as a necessary part of them. You could go your entire life without ever having Soul, but you could just as easily pick some up at some point. Unlike Void, which you can find tainting the environment any number of well known places, it’s rare and more often found associated with people than anything else. But like Void, almost any being could become “hybridised” with it.
Having control of Soul is associated with having a good and strong character, much like we talk about “having a soul” aside from the original religious use of the word. Soulful and Spiritissima are two ‘hero’ archetypes that use it, one using Soul to sing life into things and the other using Soul as an energy weapon. I recently added Aimalleres as a subtype of Spiritissima, and this gave me an opportunity to expand on Soul more.
Like Void, Soul also has a few creatures that are “Soul creatures”, though not very many. Origins, which I had no idea on before, I eventually attributed to Soul because of their strange magicy and handwavey rules. In the attribute system Soul is strongly associated with an “Envira” approach—seeing things in a magical “it just works” way rather than a technical scientific way—and “Xai” (strong individual character in a nutshell), so I was like, that more or less fits story characters that retcon themselves and their own rules into reality, I guess. Apart from Origins (which are placed there tentatively) there aren’t exactly any pure Soul creatures, only creatures that are material or Void and also have a little bit of Soul, and comparatively less than any hybrid Void creature has of Void. Even Xera Flaredrakeicorn, which is a Patron of Soul-style attribute stuff you might reasonably think would have the most Soul around, is mostly Void.
(People in Aluma tell stories about mythical creatures such as the umao, sagari, and others, and these could be Soul creatures… if they existed. But, for the most part they’re really just misinterpretations of more amazing things from the Aether that don’t get seen often.)
The new stuff
So, recently I added Aimalleres (ai-ma-ʝe-re) as a subtype of Spiritissima. They’re the SF tribute or anime martial arts parody, with a “Soul Art” called aimallito; they don’t “currently” exist apart from the about 3~5 of them that escaped from the Usmana accident, but were able to use Soul to make thrown/tossed “Soul Waves”, and other things. (There are “four basic aimallito moves” including the Soul Wave, but three of them don’t actually use Soul directly.) Aimalleres are some of the very very few people to actually investigate the true nature of Soul. Even most Spiritissima, though I don’t have much info on them or where they fit yet, never really looked into the stuff they were using that closely.
It was a thing that Aimalleres would just sort of become Aimalleres randomly one day, by suddenly discovering they can use one of the four aimallito moves. But I just realised today that the way that works is, Soul was actually everywhere in Usmana, like a pollutant, and everybody was at some “risk” for randomly absorbing it. Aimalleres were the people who absorbed enough Soul, AND displayed the ability to take control of it.
Aimalleres had learned from cultivating their Soul Art that Soul could have a consciousness. Every Aimallere would find their Soul had different unique characteristics, like a different energy colour, different shape motifs (though they usually got to control what those would be), and different rhythms (for aimallito types that used that). One of them even found that their Soul had its own gender (female).
Eventually this whole Aimalleres thing went sour though, when (spoilers :p) the government did a series of experiments on aimallito that eventually ended in a Soul power reactor becoming a sentient monster with cascading effects that burnt up most of the country.
The way this is shaping up, it seems like Soul’s main distinctive thing is consciousness.
It has this tendency to steadily grow and multiply until it can fully express its consciousness, destroying everything in its path that doesn’t assist it in that goal. I’m thinking that the real reason lions went extinct isn’t just the reactor incident, but the fact that Soul was this persistant pollutant-pathogen and maybe for some reason they were sensitive to it, or attractive hosts. Maybe it kept infecting them and bursting through their bodies to create these weird Soul-hybrid creatures made half of flesh and half of light that started as gruesome patchworks but quickly transformed and became their own unrecognisable species.
Aimalleres aren’t harmed (unless they have a really really huge amount of Soul), because they work together with Soul, and it sort of just accepts being part of them in a kind of “symbiosis”. While Soul is conscious, it doesn’t really have a very refined consciousness; Seis-Seis, the big reactor monster, is a lot like a big weird confused puppy if anything.
So here’s the freaky thing.
Probably all Soul is conscious on some level, which made me realise…
There’s such a thing as Era, a Void anomaly. Era exists because the Void for some reason attempted to create another level of abstraction from physical matter—another Void—but it created a glitch instead.
A Soul anomaly would be like, one unit of Soul creating a consciousness, several consciousnesses forming within that, and another magnitude of consciousnesses forming within that, so on and so forth until you have like infinite consciousnesses. A whole universe worth of consciousnesses just swirling around in a vast teal-white cloud of strange energy-force
So uh… that might just be where Soul comes from????
in the same confusing way that the Aether shows signs of being created by Aluma but “always” existed.
It’d have to be a whole nother plane from the two of Aluma and the Aether
(reminder that Aluma is technically “inside” the Aether in an “unspecific location”), because it couldn’t really exist within either of them due to the “over time Soul naturally destroys everything in its path” thing
I’m imagining somebody going on an incredibly surreal journey to the Soulniverse (after either Soulifying or Voidifying their consciousness cause you can’t take your material body there) and just. It’s just this weird familiar but unfamiliar world where everything is shiny pastel teal-white and every single damn object at every scale has a cartoonish smiley face on it if you look at it the right way
So, that was the point of this post.
It looks significantly less uncanny drawn out than it did in my head.
There are a couple of other things. Soul, Void, and matter have strengths and weaknesses against each other, but Soul-Void-matter isn’t a nice rock-paper-scissors. A little Soul destroys a lot of Void, and vice versa. A lot of Soul can destroy matter, much as a lot more Void could, but either one has to kinda be in a malicious destructive “mode” to destroy anything. Things that have Soul can safely coexist within the Aether just fine, although pure Soul creatures couldn’t; they would either have to allow themselves to absorb a little Void, or experience being torn apart at a very slow rate. Void creatures have a big weakness to Soul, and most can easily be blown up with a Soul Cannon or Soul Wave (if you tried to use Soul on something really powerful like a Mascot, it would be noticeably wounded by your efforts but not very badly). Small amounts of Soul won’t kill or hurt Eterea, and will just have similar effects to what the Soulful do (Soulful songs have positive effects on them just like material creatures), but if they’d set foot in Usmana while it was burning up, or went to the Soulniverse without enough Soul in them, they’d be gone in an instant. Material creatures are resilient to both forces, unlikely to die unless they’re very intense, but risk being converted to them if exposed too long. And at that point, their strengths and weaknesses are similar to “natural” Soul or Void creatures.
To sum up, Soul is a much stronger and more dangerous force than Void is.
The next question is, why did so much Soul end up in Usmana and not really very much anywhere else.