Ever wondered how we got these little maniacs?
Me too, so I did some research and I suppose it’s time to talk about it:
In the vastness of The Verses, the richness and variety of forms one can meet is rivaled only by the atoms in every universe put together. There are people, flora and fauna of so many different varieties and genera that it can appear an almost worthless task to learn about even a small handful of them – after all, when almost every available genetic expression has been discovered somewhere or another, one can simply claim to know it all simply by being able to imagine a creature:
“Ah, yes of course I know the seven-toed sloth from Dimension 500! It’s about as well known as the eight-finned porpoise that lives next door!”
But even with such a flippant appreciation for the grand masses of life that exist among the quintillion-plus nooks and crannies of this wonderful banquet we call existence, there are a handful that only the laziest would think to disregard.
I am talking, of course, about the kind of life forms that present a form of risk or danger to others, while also having the ability to leap to-and-fro between realities without so much as a breath of effort.
I am talking, of course, about Overlord Chaos.
Our beloved super-tyrant has been around long enough to ruin more than a couple of people’s day, and if The Eternum’s estimations are to be trusted, he will continue to do so for probably until the death of the final star of the universe.
Unlike the Librarium that views him as a wild threat to be exterminated at the soonest available chance (which is something they appear not so good at finding), Overlord Eternity’s Eternum sees Chaos as a force of nature, a source of knowledge, and one that holds the keys to ascended knowledge of magic and the universe.
This is by-and-large due to Chaos’ heart-breakingly exceptional fighting capability, but it is also due to his rather unique ability to “infest” life forms, sentient or not, and enhance them to his goals.
They’re called, for lack of a proper term, his minions.
We’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s start with how this stuff is even possible.
What is ether?
Ether is a term coined by Allna Wizeye (Or Ullna Wise-eye depending on your spelling preference) as a callback to Etherius, the dragon believed to wield it since the Primordial Times and until his disappearance in the midst of the earlier parts of The Extermination Wars. It is widely believed amongst arcane-science communities to be something along the lines of “pre-written mana”: essentially a spell that has already been performed, like an enchantment or managraph, but it is still in its primal, spirit-bound form. It just so happens that when you compress mana in controlled environments far enough, its gaseous state gains solid and even ferrofluid-like properties, and its rich azure color fades to a cold, certain black.
This is Ether, and it will remain among the hottest topics in the arcane-scholastic community for… well, for as long as there will be arcane-scholastic communities
When in its “active” state, ether can emit a dense, soft light, which almost always appears as the color white to most eyes. These observations would naturally lead researches to believe that this is what results in the black and white appearance of his minions.
The properties of ether are still widely debated, but a few practical ruminations are as follows:
Ether Properties in a Nutshell
-Can enhance physical strength and dexterity to several times the host’s original ability
-Loses most physical requirements and urges which, depending on what parts of their mind are “sealed” and which are “expressed” after their transformation, can range from not desiring food, to not needing sleep, or companionship, or any other number of things that their original forms would have required to live a healthy life
-Can enhance mental agility, reflexes, capacity for abstract thought, and learning speed to outstanding levels
-Can work as a “mana pool” for the host, allowing them to cast some truly taxing spells with significantly less “blues” from mana exhaustion
-Can essentially seal the state of the host, preventing injury and prolonging life indefinitely
Ether Form Mechanics at a Glance
At the more theoretical end, Ether acts as a coexisting entity rather than something that attempts to override the host, at least not completely.
An individual overtaken by ether experiences not only a restructuring of their nervous system as it “packs” parts of the body and mind into various places along the body, but also the ether attempts to “be” the host, in a way that the host would envision himself as. Everything from their self-image to their idealized self can shape the form that the ethermass takes when constructing their new form, occasionally to obscene or hilarious effects.
Raid Minion is permanently missing a part of his antennae, the same way his human form was missing a part of his ear – it was how he saw himself, and so it translated into the form of his ether.
Another example would be Delivery Minion, a cat that wanted nothing more than to deliver letters, his ether formed into the perfect little postman: a mailman that can easily be “mailed” across dimensions.
At the very edge-end of this, we see minions that expend no will whatsoever as to their form, and may end up pretty regular looking: thin, waspy body, oversized head (where short-lived scientists have discovered most of the internal organs end up) and a wide, white set of jaws.
That said, while most minions are only slight variations from the whole, others have psychological profiles of sanity or will that entirely turns the “standard” appearance on its head.
Body-builder Minion, Hunt Minion, Lil’ Minion, and Beach Volleyball Minion (don’t ask) are all good examples of minions that have more or less unintentionally ditched the script of what form Chaos’ infusiacs are capable of taking: so far it appears limitless.
At the very end of this spectrum of a “designed” form and a “free creation” we have the rather insensitively titled Freak Minion, a rare and harrowing sight amongst The Minionry that is as elusive as he (it?) is terrifying to the unprepared.
He’s really not so bad once you get to know him.
An interesting note about ether forms is that their capabilities seem to shift freely over time. A minion that has gotten into a workout binge will express better fitness without experiencing a change to their form, but a minion that simply changes their mind about an important self-governing principle might immediately see a large change in their physiology as soon as the next day.
This has led many of the minions to attempt the craft of “ether forming” in order to change into “cooler”, more idealized versions of themselves… however success rates are few and far between: for most of them they seem almost frozen in their form – talk to Vanity Minion and hear her sob story if you’re that curious.
Once infested, it will not take long for the new minion to come to terms with their new state of existence, the most prominent of which tends to be an unnatural appreciation and feeling of loyalty towards the High Overlord.
Arcane Science communities the realms over have festered on the discussion for some time: do they become loyal because the ether forces their compliance, or is it from a feeling of gratitude that Chaos did not instead kill them, as he is so prone to doing when engaged against combatants?
Theories abound, and the few that know more than the rest from first-hand experience (including a certain white-haired swordslady) are not apt to sharing their knowledge to the public about the specific mechanics of ether and Chaos’ seemingly unending magical power.
Even amongst the highest magical and scientific communities in the Omniverse, including the Eternum’s Vaherion and Kanvane’s Keruz, there swims theories grounded in myth and fancy, rather than facts and observation.
This is, no doubt, in part credited to the fact that getting observational data about Chaos and his Minionry is insanely difficult if one wishes to stay alive long enough to record and report said data.
“Ether Relay” and “The Network of Souls”
One of the primary issues with pulling off a minion-napping behind Chaos’ back, is that it simply has never been done successfully, so no one knows how to do it. “Successful” in this case meaning long enough to properly interrogate or experiment on the etheriae before they self-recover and escape, another minion saves them, or (more often than not) The High Overlord makes a special trip to accelerate his fist at cosmic speeds into the skull of the kidnapper, almost always resulting in instant, terminal injury.
Some of the more gruesome recorded encounters with Chaos trend to those involving minion kidnappings or experiments – the moment some kind of harm comes to them it’s like a silent, Omniverse-wide alarm goes off to alert him not only of the danger, but of their precise location.
By and large, the act of harming a minion of Chaos’ is considered up so high in Scribe Veltrasker’s “statistic likelihood of oncoming demise” registry, that it’s considered even deadlier than removing one’s oxygen supply in the middle of deep space – there are life forms that can make do a good while in the vacuum of space, but those rare species would not fare so well against the Lord Destroyer were they to try and bother one of his precious “kids”.
The antennae of etheriacs work as a sort of signal relay of sorts, where sensations and thoughts can be transferred effortlessly (and sometimes unwittingly) to the rest of the Minionry in range of the signal. The maximum range of this so-called relay is unknown, but is expected to cross over not only infinite amounts of physical space, but also through at least a hundred dimensional layers as well: that is the boundaries between different dimensions. That said, a minion has to be very, very far away, or within an extremely well-sealed environment to be out of Towerne’s collective detection range.
Just read the books instead, no need to put yourself in harm’s way to figure out how ether works.
And there you have it!
Did that sate your curiosity of Ether? Feel free to comment below with any specific questions you would like answered and potentially added to this post.