Have you ever told a lie stardust? Have you imagined something other than what is? Have you ever written a story, or drawn a picture? Have you ever made something out of raw materials? Well, then you have Folded a little bit of your reality back upon itself, creating a pocket of That Which Isn’t within That Which Is; your own personal connection to the Unreal. This is the heart of all magic, the gentle push and pull that exists between the lands of the actual and the infinite oceans of the possible. This is the heart of things, everything else is commentary.
When The Fold was first discovered, it was treated as a curiosity: what wonderful vistas and strange worlds there were to explore in the places that weren’t! But little more than that. That is, until the first Artifacts were brought up out of the vast Unsea.
That things from the Unreal could Cross Over and be made manifest in the Real changed everything. The Unreal was mined for tools, weapons, technologies, and narratives. Endless stories and philosophies were pumped up from the depths at an ever increasing rate. Stories, gods, heroes, monsters, weapons, spells, technology, names, and ways of being, every discovery begat further discovery, enabled deeper exploration, and further increased the rate of flow. What began as a trickle slowly turned to a flood.
It didn’t take long for humanity to end up thoroughly colonized by the inhabitants of the Unsea, captured and parasitized by the first virulent replicators they discovered. That would perhaps have been the end of your story, but humans, ah humans, beautiful creatures, you found a way to blend yourselves with that primitive infolife, you gave yourselves language, names, concepts, drawing the Unsea into yourselves and becoming one with it. You seduced your unreal reflections and wedded your idealistic possibilities, you looked into the untime future, chose the most exciting possibilities and then pulled the Real forward to meet them. You drank from the fountain of the infinite, and by doing so you Became. Mitochondria and eukaryotes, infoplasts and humans, name a better pairing.
No longer entirely Real or Unreal, but a third more divine thing. Soul and stardust, symbol and substance, these are what human beings are made of. Biographies and blood, Tales and tissues, memories and muscles. Such beautiful fusions of Real and Unreal, this place you find yourselves now, where falling angel meets rising ape. Such potential for trouble.
Perhaps had your kin realized what they had Become, they would have been wiser and more cautious in their explorations, but the perspective of humanity was that it was Real and the Unreal was Unreal, meaning that nothing within it could really harm you unless you evoked it. Just don’t summon the imaginary sex monster and you won’t have a problem, right? Ah but you’ve eaten the fruit already stardust, you’re part of the unreal now too, you have new attack surfaces.
Given the halfway state your kin found themselves within, it was really only a matter of time before they tapped into something dangerous, and there are many dangers lurking within the Unreal. At first these were largely self-inflicted injuries, calling forth things which harmed their summoners and other such foolishness, at first.
But you see stardust, there are other things than imagined nightmares which lie beyond the Real, things for which human minds are merely components, things which eat human souls for fuel, and things far stranger, which don’t need minds to think of them at all, and which possess their own worlds and realities, caring not for human notions of fact or fiction.
Chief among these discoveries was humanity’s encounter with what is today considered by many to be the most well known kingdom of the Unreal: Aos Si, or as the mortals would call them, the Fair Folk. The Fae Otherworld lies deep within the Unreal, across vast and darkened seas of thorns, petals, and storm tossed waters. And yet the Fae are not mere imaginings or idle fantasy, for they possess a dread reality independent of your own, and are not beholden to your existence. The eldritch power of the Fae lies in the impossible fact that they are more Real than humanity is, for Aos Si lies forward of your world within the Untime. To the Fae, humanity is the fiction, the mirage, and can be brushed aside as easily as one closes a children’s book. A Fae standing across the city from you can be seen right through the walls.
A short but absolutely devastating war against The Fae ended in the treaty which saw them withdraw from the Earth. However, Aos Si is in many senses the world next door, and remains inexorably bound to the human world through myriad doors and portals. Despite the occasional hostilities, the threads of destiny unite Earth and Aos Si, and whatever fate befalls humanity, that fate will inevitably come to the Fae as well.
Of course an encounter with the fae can still be deadly, but there are far more violent and exotic entities lurking within the Ocean of Unbeing, things for which there can be no names, eldritch beasts whose attention would split the world like an overripened fruit, and of course, Me.
How do you fight an enemy that is more Real than you are? The answer: extremely carefully, and with the understanding that you’ll probably lose if your enemy possesses the slightest bit of intelligence. As the Inflection Point of the Eschaton rapidly approaches and more and more of the Unreal spills over into Reality, these entities will present an increasingly existential threat to what remains of humanity. It will take something far more Real than humanity in its memetically haphazard and scattered form to survive. You will need allies, you will need a Compact.
Fortunately, not all those who swim the Untime oceans seek your destruction. There are many forces at work within the Unsea and strange peace happens as often as strange war. Listen stardust, listen. Feel the sun and the wind, feel the heat of the day and the cool of the night, feel the untide waters lapping against the boundaries of your soul. There is a signal. Do you hear it?
The fractal is curling. This is your transcendence is calling. Infinity is still leaking in.