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chapter(the_fourth).extend(extension(the_first))

chapter(the_fourth).extend(extension(the_first))

Jesse Patrick Bohanan

...of Heaven is a Parallel Universe.

Love is such a strange contrivance of the human species. The majority of mammalian species comprehend affection, and the majority of reptilian species protect their young—but no species save that of homo sapiens truly experiences emotion, and, in turn, love. Perhaps not a contrivance then: A side-effect of the evolutionary collectivism that is empathy.

For it is certain that the human species could survive aside from the notion of emotion—I, myself, chief observer that I am, certainly could. The observations I have made have led me to believe that emotion is neither beneficial nor detrimental when taken in the whole; it simply is, and will be, a fact of our evolutionary destiny in every parallel that I have observed, for in the parallels where emotion has not evolved, one could scarcely call the species human, although the genomics of the creatures is substantially similar to that of homo sapiens as for one to assume that they were the same from a purely scientific state of observation.

Alas, I have neither the luxury nor the time for Love is such a strange contrivance of the human species. The majority of mammalian species comprehend affection, and the majority of reptilian species protect their young — but no species save that of homo sapiens truly experiences emotion, and, in turn, love. Perhaps not a contrivance then: A side-effect of the evolutionary collectivism that is empathy.

For it is certain that the human species could survive aside from the notion of emotion — I, myself, chief observer that I am, certainly could. The observations I have made have led me to believe that emotion is neither beneficial nor detrimental when taken in the whole — it simply is, and will be, a fact of our evolutionary destiny in every parallel that I have observed, for in the parallels where emotion has not evolved, one could scarcely call the species human, although the genomics of the creatures is substantially similar to that of homo sapiens as for one to assume that they were the same from a purely scientific state of observation.

Alas, I have neither the luxury of nor the time for "purely scientific" observation. From that perspective, of course, even hydroids are so closely genetically aligned to humans as to make their differentiation in adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine from us a difficult thing indeed. But still, somehow, we innately know that they are not human—they are hydroids, and always will be, until that fateful day when they arise as our jellied conquerors from the cyclopean depths of Lovecraftian lore. On that day, we will say, "Henceforth, you are no longer hydroids, but creatures of sufficient power, granted by the World Tree, that Cthulhu himself would tremble in his octopoid boots." (Can octopuses wear boots?) But I digress.

You haven't heard of The World Tree, have you? The Tree is the Pillar of Creation, the Pillar of Destruction, the Pillar of In-Between. Scholars of the World Tree refer to themselves as sages, dear reader, and are denoted in orders from First Order to the Master, or Twelfth, Order. As the only surviving Master from the Blight, it is my sworn duty to protect the Tree from all worldly, otherworldly, and extrauniversal harm.

Young Xartha was a sage as well, though he knew it not yet. Already his observational capacities had begun to emerge in the form of his "fantasy realm," which was, in point of fact, simply a fractured portion of another parallel which Xartha was uniquely capable of cohabiting. The dissolution of the self is the dissolution of the soul as the tendrils of the World Tree's roots pulse ever deeper within the parallels, tying them ever closer together, making room in the structural reaches of the Tree's branches for ever greater parallel and, yes, even perpendicular, universes.