Orders of Magnitude, Epilogue

Constantine Atreides, Natalie Kyros, Janus Tucker Mason, Kayla Rahl Granger, Max Koschey, and Tom Riddle sat around the table in anticipation.   

“You messed up, John,” Janus provided, helpfully. 

“Almost messed up,” Merlin corrected him. 

“No. Not almost. Did. You created billions upon billions of lives. And you sacrificed us to save them.” 

Constantine, who was holding hands with Natalie beneath the table, chimed in, “I for one, can’t complain.”

“Well, the rest of us didn’t require a world-ending cataclysm to get together… And besides, it’s not the end result, it’s the mindset behind it.” Kayla muttered. 

“No, no. Kayla’s right. I’ve lived three times as long in that world I created than I have here in the real world. I’m a different person. We’re all different people now.”

“I’m not.” Tom Riddle interjected.

“Yes, but you’re not exactly real, now are you?” Natalie retorted. 

“Your identity is a combination of Galath Ollivander, Neirkalatia of the Cross, and Natalie Kyros. One could easily argue that I, being of one singular identity, am more real than you.”

“Jesus, you people. Are we just going to keep on bantering for the rest of eternity? Merlin. Why did you call this meeting?”

“Honestly? Because I didn’t know what else to do. This is a lot to process. And if there’s anything I’ve learned from fifty thousand some-odd years in that bizarre world, it’s that I can’t do this alone, anymore. There’s no way around it: this is a weird, bizarre, unique situation. 

“Yes – the memories of the hundred billion people who lived and died in that world have been scattered about and placed in the minds of the people from this world. But that world never defeated Death, at least not the first incarnation. Seventy, eighty years of memories, what is that compared to twenty thousand or more? It’s nothing. It’s a recurring dream and little more. 

“But for me? I lived 52,000 years as ‘Merlin of Line’ and another 26,000 years as ‘Harry James Potter Evans Verres’. And there’s a version of me that’s doomed to repeat those same 52,000 years over and over and over for a perceptual eternity. It’s terrifying. 

“And maybe before, I would have thought that I’m the only person who understood the experience. But I’m not. You’re here. You’re all here and you all understand, on some level more than the average person, what I’ve gone through, and I understand what you’ve gone through. 

“I’ve brought you all here because you’re my friends. And, well… I need a friend.”

And so they talked.

“You know, if the world really were like a story, you and I would end up getting together at the end,” Max observed.

Merlin gave a wry chuckle in response, and Max continued. “We’re both child prodigies who shut ourselves away from the rest of the world and made a number of terribly questionable decisions in the name of selflessness. We understand each other.” 

“That we do. And it would seem to fit the pattern, no? Look at them.” Merlin tilted his wine glass towards the pair of couples, Kayla and Janus, and then Constantine and Natalie. “Hermione and Draco. Meldh and Ollivander.” 

“And yet… ‘Harry and Nell’ just doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, does it?” 

“It really doesn’t, no.” 

“Besides, what would we do about him?” Max pointed at Tom Riddle, who was observing the gathering from the corner, sipping what appeared to be tea. 

“There are a hundred billion people in the world, he’s bound to find someone. Or several people. Who knows. But one thing I’m certain of is that we don’t need to worry about him.” 

Max laughed. “So are you saying there’s something here?” 

Merlin shrugged. “I’m saying that I could always use more friends.”

“Can’t we all? Coffee, then?”

“Coffee, then.” Merlin extended his hand. Max was unsure of what he was expecting, so she shook it, awkwardly.

“This should be interesting.”

The Professor observed, with great amusement, the bizarre sparks flying between Harry and Perenelle. The tea he was sipping was exquisite, far better than even the most obscenely expensive tea he had experienced in his constructed world. Unlike the rest of those in the room, Tom Riddle did not have twenty or so millennia of worth of experiences in a post-scarcity world. 

Maybe at some point, he’d feel the urge to settle down, to share his life and time and self with another. But for now, there was an entire planet of new mysteries to uncover and truths to explore. He had not met all the interesting people in the world, nor had he read all the good books and then written something even better, nor had he celebrated my his first grandchild’s tenth birthday party on the Moon, or celebrated his first great-great-great grandchild’s hundredth birthday party around the Rings of Saturn. 

Content in the knowledge that the final fate he so desperately feared in the World of Magic was but a distant memory here, he knew he had time. 

He smiled gently.  His eyes were wet.

Author’s Notes

Prologue: Strange Loops

‘Strange Loops’ are a concept used heavily in Gödel, Escher Bach, and also referred to in the title of Douglas Hofstadter’s ‘sequel’, I Am a Strange Loop.

This chapter describes, in parts, what Lord Voldemort should have done upon securing the stone.

The journey of the ‘curious bottle of black ichor’ is the first reference to the ultimate fate of Albus Dumbledore, forever being born and reborn alongside the World of Magic. Of course, he does make a slight alteration to the timeline and soaks the Philosopher’s Stone in Bahl’s Stupefaction. This is a callback to a popular fan theory-slash-grumbling, suggesting that Bahl’s Stupefaction was a Chekhov’s Gun meant to explain why Voldemort decided to take such a circuitous, irrational approach to terminating the Boy Who Lived.

Wilbraham, the place where ‘Everett Snipes’ (AKA Severus Snape) lives, aside from being a city quite near and dear to my heart, was the inspiration for the town of Dunwich from H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Dunwich Horror”. Snape’s daughter is inspired by my own daughter.

Also, in case it wasn’t obvious, the Shichinin were asked to find Severus Snape.

The scene in King’s Cross is meant to echo the scene in the original Harry Potter series where Harry is sent beyond Time to King’s Cross. There is a reference to the fact that in Significant Digits, it was heavily implied that Nicholas Flamel provided Dumbledore with the Words of the First Enchanter which unlocked the entirety of the hall of prophecy.

Major Fall, Minor Lift

The title here is a reference to the lyrics from Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’, which remind me a lot of Harry’s speech at the end of ‘Pretending to be Wise’ from the original HPMOR.

“You say I took the name in vain
I don’t even know the name
But if I did, well really, what’s it to you?
There’s a blaze of light in every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah”

Also, there’s a line in the song that goes like this:

And even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah”

It seems thematically appropriate for the major fall that’s about to happen.

‘O Children’, featured heavily in this chapter, is the song that Harry and Hermione dance to in the Deathly Hallows movie, a scene which, in my opinion, is one of the most poignant scenes in cinema and a brilliant example of the use of film as a medium. The dance was something that mere words on paper could not really adequately capture. My use of this song in this chapter, on the other hand, was intended to convey that same sense of bittersweet melancholy, of finding a light in the darkness (which incidentally, is one of the major themes of Orders of Magnitude), in a way unique to the written word.

It always bothered me a bit how joyful the readers of Significant Digits were when Neville killed Bellatrix. Of course, I really hammer this home in a later chapter, but this is the first nudge at that.

Hermione’s Patronus is an otter. Draco’s being guided by the light to Hermione echoes what Ron experienced when he left Harry and Hermione in Deathly Hallows and eventually found his way back home

The Harry that dances with Hermione is in fact Harry from many, many, many years in the future. Incidentally, the song came out in 2004, but this scene takes place in 1999, and the original scene from Deathly Hallows takes place in 1997, which is why Hermione refers to the song as ‘out of place’.

Chapter 1: Put Your Little Hand In Mind

In the movie Groundhog Day, the main character, Phil Connors is stuck in a time loop and is greeted with the song “I Got You Babe” every morning on his clock radio. The song echoes the “light in the darkness” theme of Orders of Magnitude, and incidentally, the thing that finally breaks Phil Connors out of his infinite time loop is love.

The secret war being the battle against the last enemy that shall be defeated: death. John Merlin’s plan was to “cheat” the heat death of the universe by creating a time-looped simulated version of Earth, and create the perception of eternal life by way of implanting the memories generated by that simulation. Since the simulation would be a closed loop, those memories would feel like a Groundhog Day-esque infinite timespan from a first-person perspective. Of course, there are many flaws with this idea, which is quite the point.

The reference to Merlin’s flare for the dramatic is a bit of foreshadowing that John Merlin is a proto-Harry-Potter.

In Brandon Sanderson’s novelization of the Infinity Blade series, the future is ruled over by “The Deathless”, normal human beings who have been rendered functionally immortal via the use of advanced technology. The Deathless refer to computers as ‘deadminds’.

A ‘crab canon’ is a piece of music that is meant to be played both forward and backwards, simultaneously, similar to a palindrome. In the book Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid, the author expounds on this concept via a piece of dialog that is similarly palindromic; it reads sensically both forwards and backwards. This was my attempt at such a feat; in the penultimate chapter, (the appropriately titled ‘Crab Canon’), the paragraphs starting with ‘John made the snap decision…’ and ending with ‘The system was procedurally generating…’ are repeated but in reverse order, with the only difference being the *snap* decision made by Merlin.

Everything from this moment forward is a simulation, facilitated by the Line of Merlin, which is a MacGuffin-esque AI with “Do What I Mean” capabilities. In this case, the Line recognizes the inherent flaw in Merlin’s plan and decides to forcibly illustrate those flaws by means of simulation.

The “old” man is none other than the Professor, who has chosen a form that resembles someone in their mid-to-late 30s. In the future, everyone is perpetually at their physical and mental peak around their mid-20s, hence the perception of him being old. The Line of Merlin being held by the professor is the version of the Line of Merlin that was simulated by the Line of Merlin, which is to say, it is the Line of Merlin.

These “ten million and change” are the original Muggles of the World of Magic, ~10 million homo sapiens that were procedurally generated and used to populate the world circa ~25000 BC. The “thousand or so genetic patterns it had recovered”, on the other hand, were the first descendants of Atlantis: the first potential Wizards of this new world.

Chapter 2: The Goat and the Ram

The Goat and the Ram is a biblical allegory featured in multiple books, representing in effect, the choice between life and death. In Daniel 8, it’s told as an apocalyptic prophecy, and as such it’s ripe with metaphor and allusion, with the Daniel 8 version of the tale encompassing Alexander the Great (in our story, one of the personas of Heraclius Hero), along with an emperor’s war on God.

In Matthew 25, Jesus tells the tale of the Sheep (Ram) and the Goats, wherein the sheep, representing the good of the world, are placed at the right hand of God, receiving eternal life, and the goat, representing the evildoers, are placed at the left hand of God, who are cast out of the kingdom.

Further, in Matthew 6, Jesus implores that good deeds must not be done with the goal of receiving recognition, but simply done for the sake of good (a lesson that Nell would have done well to learn). He says, “But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth”.

Maksimillian Koschey is Perenelle Du Marais. Gender norms are so 2000s.

Natalie Kyros is Ollivander / Helga Hufflepuff, and also a tribute to my two daughters.

The Hebrew translation of the term, “Abracadabra”, or “I Will Create As I Speak”, an appropriate description of Magic. This term is co-opted by the language of Magic into the incantation Avada Kedavra. Although in modern times is called the Killing Curse, it is (as Baba Yaga / Maximillian Koschey teaches in a later chapter) quite the misnomer; the true intent of the spell was to create renewed life from existing life. The Horcrux ritual is powered by this spell, both the original version developed by Heraclius Hero and the improved version developed by Lord Voldemort. Harry’s “Starfire Ritual’ from Significant Digits is, (at least in the canon of Orders of Magnitude), a third, even more sophisticated version which sacrifices potential life (rather than actual life) in the form of a star.

Constantine “Gus” Atreides is Heraclius Hero, AKA Meldh, AKA Herpo the Foul, AKA Lord Foul, AKA Alexander the Great.

Also, “L.E. Lines” = “Ley Lines”.

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward was a short horror novel written by H.P. Lovecraft. Incidentally, Dexter Charles would go on to become Shiggoth of the Spire, a direct reference to Yog-Sothoth of Lovecraftian lore, who ‘knows the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the gate. Past, present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth. He knows where the Old Ones broke through of old, and where They shall break through again. He knows where They have trod earth’s fields, and where They still tread them, and why no one can behold Them as They tread.’ HPMOR fans will of course recognize this as part of the false incantation that Harry used to intimidate his classmates.

Janus Tucker is Draco Malfoy, who is a Gemini.

Kayla Rahl is Hermione Granger. I was pleased to see a reference to Terry Goodkind’s The Sword of Truth series in Significant Digits; the box that imprisoned Lord Voldemort was none other than a Box of Orden. In The Sword of Truth, the Boxes of Orden are stewarded over by the Rahl dynasty. This, as I allude to in my introduction, is one of those stories that I adored in my youth. Much like another one of my heroes from literature, Lyra Silvertongue, I was enamored by reductionist, Objectivist-influenced philosophy and its simplistic, black-and-white approach to right and wrong, good and evil. (Of course, for Lyra, she becomes enamored with The Hyperchorasmians, which is the His Dark Materials-verse’s version of Atlas Shrugged). I have since grown past that, and hopefully Lyra will too in the final book of the Book of Dust trilogy.

The power structure of the World of Magic can be separated into four layers, with an order of magnitude (see what I did there?) of power differential between each layer. At the top is Merlin himself. Below him are the Old Ones, true Atlanteans that entered the World of Magic directly as it was being created via various ‘hacks’, and retaining all of their memories, abilities, knowledge, and of course the anchors by which they were able to ‘hack’ their way in.

Below them are the thousand-or-so genetic patterns of Atlanteans that represent the first magic-users. Being simply rebuilt genetic patterns, they have none of the memories, abilities or knowledge of the Old Ones, but they do possess the capacity to use magic. Finally, there are the procedurally generated ‘baseline’ humans which represent the Muggle population of the world.

Given that this world is a simulation, it’s a bit of a misnomer to say that, for example, Draco Malfoy is Janus Tucker. In reality, Janus Tucker was born on June 5th, 1980, would later go on to meet John Merlin and Kayla Rahl and befriend the former and fall in love with the latter. In the simulation created by the Line of Merlin, he would ‘hack’ his way into the World of Magic and emerge carrying the Cup of Midnight and Cup of Dawn, calling himself Yanotuk of the Cups (among other names). He would eventually meet his simulated death alongside Kayla Rahl and Christopher Chang at the Battle of Olympus some 20,000 simulated years later.

Draco Malfoy, on the other hand, was a construct of the World of Magic, born on June 5th, 1980, who would later go on to meet Harry James Potter-Evans-Verres and Hermione Jean Granger, and befriend the former and fall in love with latter. Upon the termination of the simulated World of Magic in the simulated year of 1999 (and real world year of ~27,000), the memories of the life of both Draco Malfoy and the simulated adventures of Yanotuk of the Cups were superimposed upon the memories of the real-world Janus Tucker.

One of the major dilemmas that faced Merlin was the fact that some 100,000,000,000 lives were simulated throughout the duration of the World of Magic. Despite being ‘simulated’, these lives were no less real to the ones living it. The weight of this problem weighed heavily upon Merlin during his time in the World of Magic; every day, every second, more and more people were being born into this simulation who were doomed to die forever unless he came up with a creative solution. Simply instantiating 100,000,000,000 new people into a post-scarcity, far-future world would be an absolute recipe for disaster. Superimposing their memories was the most humane solution to this problem. For the overwhelming majority of people living in ~27,000 AD in the real world, this was not particularly impactful, as a few decades of memories pales in comparison to the millenia that most of them have lived for. However, for the Old Ones (who lived thousands, if not tens of thousands of simulated years), and certainly for Merlin/Harry, this was fairly significant.

Also – The mythology of the Old Ones suggested there were twelve, and yet only nine were featured in the story. I wrote backstories for two more Old Ones, but thy wound up being part of an arc that I cut when Fantastic Beast’s plot came out due to their stories not quite lining up with the new canon. One was Blackwolf the Grim, real name Sendhil Bakshi (a triple reference: Ralph Bakshi, the director of ‘Wizards’ from which the Blackwolf character came. Sunil Bakshi from Agents of SHIELD whose fourth season’s plot was quite relevant to OoM, and Sendhil Ramamurthy, an actor from Heroes). He provided military guidance to various bad-guy figures throughout history, was also Rasputin, gave Hitler the idea to use Swastikas, etc. He was one of the people that aided Grindelwald, but the storyline had the potential to conflict with Fantastic Beasts so I cut it. He was destroyed by the atomic bomb testing at Trinity.

The other was Danu of the Beast, a biologist who eventually created many/most of the unique creatures seen in HP, HPMOR and SD. She became bound to Nog’Nandh (and destroyed when he was), when her lifeline (her creatures) fled to Tir Inna N’oc. Her storyline was woven in with the North American mythology which conflicted with Fantastic Beasts.

The final one was a red herring. There were only eleven, but everyone assumed there were twelve because it was a nice round number and culturally significant. Eventually the Peverell family discovered that there were only eleven when they went on their quest to unearth the anchors. This subplot though didn’t really make sense when only nine of the twelve were featured in the story.

Chapter 3: The Fall

It’s not the fall that kills you…

This was actually one of the first chapters I wrote, meant to provide somewhat of an origin story for Tírr i’nna n-Óc. It’s basically the living nightmare of Adnan Nejem, who blames himself for the disaster. Several of the features of Tírr i’nna n-Óc are borrowed from Everquest, including the Amygdalan Temple and several references to The Sleeper. There are also elements from the game British Legends, also known as MUD1, the original “Multi-User-Dungeon” game written by Richard Bartle; in a way, MUD1 was the first virtual world.

Tírr i’nna n-Óc is also the place that the Peverell Brothers visit when they meet ‘Death’, AKA Merlin and Meldh.

Chapter 4: Pure Imagination

In addition to highlighting the fact that this world is nothing but pure imagination, this was meant to honor Gene Wilder, who passed away the day I released this chapter: ‘Pure Imagination’ was a song from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: “We’ll begin, with a spin, travelling in the world of my creation… What we’ll see will defy explanation. If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it. Anything you want to, do it. Want to change the world? There’s nothing to it.”

The sage, Kobayashi, is a reference to the famous Star Trek icon, The Kobayashi Maru, a training exercise intended to be an unwinnable battle, which James T. Kirk only wins via rank deception.

The armor of Constantine is modelled after the Space Marine armor from Warhammer 40k (the book from his youth an eternity ago). Natalie wears a similar armor, but feminized.

Chapter 5: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern

There are three ‘excerpts’ from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern-related works in this chapter. The first is from Hamlet, wherein Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are two side characters that help advance the plot.

The second is from Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, a tremendously self-aware play about the titular characters realizing they are characters in a play (much like Constantine and Natalie).

The third is from Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, the movie, wherein Professor Slughorn waxes poetically about a fish he once had named Francis. Harry, in all three cases, is meant to be Hamlet.

Ὅρόσταυρός translates roughly to ‘false cross’, which could be butchered into a Latinization as ‘Horcrux’.

Διμάχαιρος, (dimachaeri) were roman gladiators that fought with two swords.

The ritual Meldh uses to bring down the tower is borrowed from Harry’s false ritual he uses to intimidate the students in the original HPMOR.

Kayla with the Boxes, Christopher with the Mirror, and Janus with the Cups end in a stalemate, with the void of the Cup of Midnight consumed by the Boxes of Orden, which were then contained within the Mirror of Volition (the other side of the Mirror of Noitilov). Only the Mirror of Noitilov, the Cup of Dawn, and the single Box of Orden remained.

Chapter 6: Cups and Wands

Two of the four Tarot suits, and two things that Ελαολογος (Ollivander) were quite well known for.

The original Three was comprised of Merlin, Constantine Atreides (Gom’Jorbol), and Christopher Chang (KriXiang), and they used Ελαολογος/Ollivander/Hufflepuff as a proxy (who is the future/past version of Natalie Kyros). The Coalition, on the other hand, was comprised of Janus Tucker (Yanotuk), Kayla Rahl (Kari) and Natalie Kyros (Neirkalatia), who recruited Heraclius Hero/Meldh (who is the future/past version of Constantine Atreides).

The Rod of Ànkyras was Constantine’s anchor to the world and the original prototype from which wands were developed.

Falx, in D&D Lore, is the original homeworld of the Tarrasque.

“Alexander” means “Protector of Mankind”, a reference to Meldh’s alter ego of Alexander the Great.

Chapter 7: Egeusly Stare

A cheap pun. There’s no set pronunciation for “Egeustimentis” but in my mind I say it like “eh – gyuhs – teh – men – tis”. So “Egeusly” would be “eh – gyuhs – lee”, which sort of sounds like “a gazely”. Like the lyrics from David Bowie’s ‘The Man Who Sold The World’, which always reminded me of Merlin’s character. “I gazed a gazely stare at all the millions here, we must have died alone, a long long time ago”.

Also, for some reason, Lyra Silvertongue’s journey into the underworld in His Dark Materials always reminded me of this song. To that end – The story of Orpheus and Eurydice has always been something that has resonated with me. When I was a kid, I had cancer. After one of my many surgeries, when I was probably five or six years old, my grandmother gave me a music box: a dancing skeleton that played “The French Can-Can”.

Kind of a weird gift to give a kid who might die, right?

Well, the French Can-Can is actually the Galop Infernal from Offenbach’s opera “Orpheus in the Underworld”. At that age, I thought, hoped, wished that if I died, someone would come to the Underworld and rescue me, just like Orpheus tried with Eurydice. So in a way, the macabre gift of a dancing skeleton was actually weirdly comforting to me as a kid.

Which makes the Harry Potter movie’s use of “O Children” that much more meaningful; the title of the album the sign is from is “The Lyre of Orpheus”.

The “Alethia Touch” is my attempt at the true etymology of “The Lethe Touch”. Alethia-, as a prefix, means “of truth”.

I played a lot of Hearthstone at the time I wrote this chapter, and the expansion “Whispers of the Old Gods” had just come out, and one of the most powerful decks was this Shaman deck with a bunch of sick totem synergy. Hence, “The world will and must be ruled by man and reason, not by old gods and whispers, or shamans with their totems of power.” FORESHADOWING BLIZZARDS SHAMAN NERFS!

Do I even need to explain the “African or European Swallow” reference?

The “rope that has hanged a man and a sword that has slain a woman” was from the original HPMOR, a ritual “which promised to summon Death itself”, which I assume to be a Dementor. This was originally a reference to the Legend of Ethshar series. I combined this with the Sandman mythology, wherein Roderick Burgess attempts to summon Death of the Endless with the following ritual: “I give you coin I made from a stone. I give you a song I stole from the dirt. I give you a knife from under the hills, and a stick that I stuck through a dead man’s eye. I give you a claw I ripped from a rat. I give you a name, and the name is Lost. I give you blood from out of my vein, and a feather I pulled from an angel’s wing. I call you with names, of my lord, of my lord. I summon with poison and summon with pain. I open the way and I open the gates.” In OoM canon, this spell explicitly summons a Dementor, a “Specter of Death”, which in turn is a reference to His Dark Materials.

One of the goals of this passage was to define the mechanism by which Dementors suck the happiness out of a person. It’s an extreme case of the unfortunate tendency people have to self-sabotage their own happiness in anticipation of being miserable in the future. The Dementors confront you with the inevitability of Death and you willingly give up your happiness so that when Death finally arrives, you don’t have anything to lose.

“…The sound of wings” is how the first book of the Sandman series ends.

Chapter 8: The Sudden Stop

When I was first writing Orders of Magnitude, I wrote a bunch of chapters in a short period of time, then took a hiatus for a few months. One might have called it a sudden stop. This chapter was the first released after that break. Also, it’s a brick joke, building up on the title to chapter (The Fall), completing the Douglas Adams quote: “It’s not the fall that kills you, it’s the sudden stop at the end”.

The chess game being played here is The Game of the Century, between a 13-year-old Bobby Fischer and chess master Donald Byrne, in which Bobby Fischer/Meldh sacrifices his queen so that he can dominate the board with his lesser pieces.

Helga Hufflepuff is another alter ego of Ollivander. Hankerton Humble, an alter ego of Meldh, was Hogwarts’ first groundskeeper.

“927 πατάτα” is a reference to Harry’s “Recognition Code 927: I Am A Potato”.

Gryffindor’s a bit of a perv.

Meldh hired Scabior to provide him with the necessary reagents for the spell required to transport himself to Tír inna n-Óc.

The Isle of Woe is a location from MUD1, which as mentioned above, was one of the first “virtual worlds”. Once you gained enough points in the game to reach the level of “Wizard” (or “Witch”), you became immortal, and your role transitioned to more of an administrative, moderator-type role; you don’t so much play the game as you do keep the game fun for the new blood. Adrienne was relatively prominent in that community in the late 80s and early 90s. I played the game for years as a kid during this time, and through bizarre serendipity, I found out that she was a teacher at the school I attended at the time. She passed away a year before I started writing Orders of Magnitude. Cancer sucks.

The statement “This is a lie” is a paradox, it cannot be true or false. Therefore, the statement, ” ‘This is a lie’ is false” must be incorrect. However, it is impossible, in a formal logical system, to formally prove this. (For more on why this is the case, see Kurt Gödel’s On Formally Undecidable Propositions of Principia Mathematica and Related Systems, or the far more entertaining Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter).

So, suppose that ‘This is a lie’ is Statement X, a paradox that is neither true nor false. And let’s say the meta-statement, ‘X is false’ is Statement Y, a syntactically valid statement which we know implicitly is false but cannot be proven. Therefore, the assertion that ‘Y is true’ (or, in other words, “As true as ‘ ‘This is a lie’ is false’ “) is wrong, but in a fundamentally unprovable way. We know it’s wrong. We just can’t prove it formally.

“At some arbitrary point, you have to decide that you have enough Significant Digits.” A little meta-joke about the source material of this fic.

Chapter 9: The Transmigration

Anwu is one of the Gods of the Odinani religion practiced by the Igbo people (who were featured in the Chinua Achebe novel, “Things Fall Apart”, which in turn takes its title from the Yeats poem, “The Second Coming”.)


“THEIR CRESTS SHALL BE THE BLOCKS BY WHICH MANKIND’S CUNNING SHALL WAX” – The crests of the four houses, and a reference to the original Significant Digits’ text of The Transmigration.

“THOSE WINGS WILL BEAR MAN TO THE STARS, BUT THEY AS ALL, MUST MELT” – Icarus’ wings must melt, as must all things.

“AND THE FALLEN HERO SHALL SWING HIS BLADES” – The fallen “hero” (both the adjective and the name, Heraclius Hero) will swing the blades of his windmill attack.


“BY THEIR ASHES THREE OF THE THREE THREE SHALL RISE” – There were three groups called “The Three” over the years; the original from Ancient Greece. The next group that would rise from the ashes would be Merlin, Meldh and Nell. And the final Three would be Harry, Draco and Hermione.

“”THE ENLIGHTENED TOWERS, THE HALLOWED GODDESSES, THE STOWN-HEWN SERPENTS” – The Tower: Harry, Merlin. The Goddesses: Nell and Hermione, “hallowed” because both of them possessed all three Deathly Hallows at different points in the story. The Serpents: Draco and Meldh. “Stown” is both a homonym for “Stone”, and also the past-tense of “Stow”.

“TOGETHER THEY MUST CHOOSE TO FOLLOW THE PHOENIX OR SOLVE THE RIDDLE” – The ‘Follow the Phoenix’ series was probably the most well-received of the HPMOR sequels aside from Significant Digits. So it’s a sort of a meta-joke here as to which canon you prefer to accept: the SD/OOM canon, or the ‘Follow the Phoenix’ canon.

Emperor Heraclius was said to have returned the True Cross to Jerusalem in the 7th century, which was controlled by Arab powers until the holy land was conquered in the crusades.

The remainder of the chapter is, in effect, an English translation of the middle-English of the original Transmigration text from Significant Digits.

“Mundre of the Brook”, in this case, is translated to “Mundre, from the City on the River”. The city, in this case, being Constantinople, and Mundre being a corruption of Meldh.

Lord Edmond Black is a reference Edmund Blackadder from the BBC comedy series of the same name.

Ha-rova ha-Yehudi was one of the four sections of Old Jerusalem. Anka should have been able to grasp the foundations of Levitation but due to the newly-laid Interdict, that information now needed to be passed from one living mind to another.

Georgi Abashvili was the name of the corrupt governor from Bertolt Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle. Brecht was famous for breaking the fourth wall and directly addressing the audience with his plays, the goal being to prevent the watcher from simply accepting the events as an observer, as passive entertainment, and instead to view things critically and analytically. I draw on this technique quite frequently in both Orders of Magnitude and also The Longest Day.

Misqat’nk is intended to be the etymology for the Lovecraftian “Miskatonic River”. Originally, I had written about 25,000 words about the history of Magic in the Northeast Americas, but this was shortly before Fantastic Beasts was announced (which heavily deals with this same area), and JK Rowling has much more time and inclination for worldbuilding than I do. In short, the mythology of the Nipmuc tribe was that the Scrolls of Shiggoth would be used to waken the Sleeper, Nog-Nandh. But since there were no longer any living minds to transfer the knowledge of their function, the scrolls are now useless. Ironically though, their prophecy was true; the one marked by lightning (Harry/Merlin) would eventually wake the Sleeper. They just had no part in things.

In one version (Orders of Magnitude) of the Igbo tale, Chukwu (Voldemort) creates Amadioha (Harry), and despite their fights, they eventually band together to defeat Ogbunabali (Death). In another version (JK Rowling’s canon), Chukwu is defeated by Amadioha, who then goes on to live his own life and raise his own family.

Chapter 10, I Love The Way You Lie

On the first page of our story, the future seemed so bright

Then this thing turned out so evil, I don’t know why I’m still surprised

Even angels have their wicked schemes, and you take that to new extremes

But you’ll always be my Hero

Even though you’ve lost your mind”

I felt the lyrics to that song quite appropriately describe Meldh and Ollivander’s relationship.

The Ballad of Ulak the Unconquered is intended to be the original music and lyrics of what would eventually become the Irish folk song, The Foggy Dew.

“Bás Cliábhan”, which would eventually be corrupted to “Azkaban” roughly translates to “Death’s Cradle”.

“The Gray Slayer’, “The Enemy”, “a-Jeroth” were all names for Lord Foul, from Stephen Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant novels. Also, on a personal note, when I used to play MUD1 back in the day, I was good friends with a player named Lordfoul. Unlike Adrienne the Witch, I never did meet Lordfoul in real life.

“Ef yn dod, mae’r grissa ost drauka. Yw ef yma, yr un sy’n proffwydoliaeth dweud ewyllys i ddod â’r cleddyf y ffurlfen gwir rhyfel.” roughly translates to, “He’s coming. The bringer of death. He is here, the one who is prophesied to bring the sword of war.” (Fuer Grissa ost Drauka is High D’haran, from The Sword of Truth series)

“Ti’n gweld? Mae ei ei farcio fan fellten…” – “You see? He is marked by lightning.” The prophecies seem to be coming true.

“This was a triumph… I’m making a note here, huge success. It’s hard to overstate my satisfaction.” Incidentally, the portals summoned forth were colored blue and orange, just like the game.

Meldh showed Godric what would happen if Magic were allowed to persist. Once you know something, you can’t make yourself un-know it.

Trump Card

Fuckin’ hell, I can’t believe it’s already been four years. I went to bed the night before after drinking heavily, and had several fevered dreams that all in some way involved the results of the previous night not being true. I woke up at like three in the morning, checked my phone, saw it was still true, and did what any sane person would do: write a scathing chapter of Harry Potter fanfiction! How effective!

The Drongo birds are telling their own version of the Igbo tales, with the men telling the story of HPMOR, and the women telling the Rowling canon story. And if you want to know the tale that the birds tell among themselves, check out The Longest Day! /shamelessplug

“That is the curse of competence, that you are forced to make those choices, between ‘right’ and ‘more right’.” If I were to ever write another fic (which after the two year slogfest that was The Longest Day, I don’t think I will), it would use this as the central theme.

Chapter 11: Things Fall Apart, The Center Cannot Hold

A quote from Yeats’ “The Second Coming”, as mentioned above.

“”Yes, well, Madame Ollivander is not here, is she?” William Umbridge piped up.” Whoops.

The Elizabethan Tearoom: This cosy, Tudor room is where all British Legends adventures start. Its exposed oak beams and soft, velvet-covered furnishings provide it with the ideal atmosphere in which to relax before venturing out into that strange, timeless realm. A sense of decency and decorum prevails, and a feeling of kinship with those who, like you, seek their destiny in The Land. There are exits in all directions, each of which leads into a wisping, magical mist of obvious teleportative properties…” The room that you start out in MUD1. If you tried to exit the tearoom without sipping tea first, you would be prevented from doing so due to a strong feeling of dread.

“All too easy…” Hsssccchhhhh…. Hooosssschhhhhh…

Chapter 12 + 13: The Battle of Hogwarts

“But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living… for the price of wisdom is above rubies.” – This quote from Job was also quoted in the first book of the Sandman series.

The Portugese being used is the translation of the ritual used to summon dementors. Meldh then summons forth his Patronus to destroy the Dementor he created.

“Hope” is a major theme in both Orders of Magnitude and The Longest Day. It’s also the mic-drop moment in Morpheus’ battle with Choronzon in The Sandman. It’s also the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul…

“Piertotum Locomotor!” is also the spell that McGonagall uses in the Deathly Hallows movie to reanimate the statues to defend Hogwarts.

Kaspersky is also a company that specializes in cyber-security. The sound he summons that winds up being effective is the sound of a rooster crowing, which is fatal to a basilisk.

The Fae are the original House Elves.

Charkie is the name of the dog from Curious George.

Nagina, the basilisk which Slytherin spares, is not lying, per se. She’s just wrong. She thinks the secret to the true Horcrux is to ensure that all your knowledge is preserved in another living mind… Namely, herself.

Rowena Ravenclaw battering away at the fourth wall: “”Can you hear me?” She screamed at the reader.”

Drowning is one of the few means by which one can slay a Tarrasque.

The leverage that Meldh has over each Founder is such:

Slytherin: Meldh alone knows the secret to the true Horcrux, and if he dies, Slytherin will never live forever.

Ravenclaw: Meldh alone knows the secret to reversing the cost of Sacrifice, and if he dies, Ravenclaw will never learn its secret.

Gryffindor: Gryffindor knows that what Meldh is doing is right, and the Phoenix arrives, presenting him with the choice to do the right thing as well.

Hufflepuff: She still, despite everything, loves Meldh.

The one and only time Gryffindor summons a Patronus is to stop Hufflepuff from losing her humanity.

Chapter 14: Beautiful Lost Nebula

“Beautiful Lost Nebula” is the full name of a character from The Sandman, whose short name is simply “Hope”. The Bok Globule that Ollivander shapes when she departed this world could also be described as a beautiful, lost nebula. Incidentally, this is also the star that Harry sacrifices in order to revive Lucius Malfoy in Significant Digits.

In absence of a true Horcrux, Slytherin transfers his knowledge into Nagina and then turns her into a Horcrux, using his own life as the spell to power it. He tries in vain for centuries to lure worthy Slytherins into his chamber to resurrect him when the time is right. And then of course, Tom Riddle comes along a few centuries later and kills her, and by extension, also kills Salazar Slytherin.

Ravenclaw’s riddle points to Matthew 6, beyond the prayer of the faithful (“hallowed be thy name”), wherein Matthew says “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” which also happens to be the family motto of the Dumbledores.

Ultimately, Ollivander sacrifices herself so that Meldh can return to the world.

Chapter 15: The Walrus Was Paul

In the song “Glass Onion” by the Beatles, John Lennon wrote the lyrics basically just to mess with people who tried to read too much meaning into Beatles lyrics: “I threw the line in—”the Walrus was Paul”—just to confuse everybody a bit more. It could have been “the fox terrier is Paul.” I mean, it’s just a bit of poetry. I was having a laugh because there’d been so much gobbledygook about Pepper—play it backwards and you stand on your head and all that.”

The dialog from “The Last Days of Exses O’Bruinan” is paraphrased from Alice in Wonderland, and the names of the Three in the play are the names of the three Furies.

Merrick’s Tavern was named after Timothy Merrick from the American ballad, “On Springfield Mountain”, which incidentally is quite near to the location of Ilvermorny.

Eloise Mintumble, in Potter canon, was subject to a time travel catastrophe that sent her back several centuries. Jeremiah Croaker, the father of Saul Croaker, coiner of “Croaker’s Law”, which states that the limit of time-turners are five hours. The “true time turner” which Mintumble uses, (and the same “true time turner” as featured in Cursed Child) is powered by an Obscurus.

The “Timely Hallows”, besides being an obvious parody, refer to the Line of Merlin, the Time-Turner, and Comed-Tea.

Henry Armitage, in Lovecraftian Lore, was the librarian of Miskatonic University, which in this universe is another name for the Salem’s Witches Institute. Old Whately is another character from Lovecraft, who summoned Yog-Sothoth to impregnate his daughter, giving birth to Wilbur Whately (who is killed at a young age due to the taboo against twins), and Credence Whately, who would later become Credence Barebone. The events of The Dunwich Horror play out (referred to later in this chapter as “The Wilbraham Incident”), and they manage to harness the Obscurial to create a True Time Turner. Incidentally, the pattern used to harness the Obscurial was a Grace from the Sword of Truth series.

It’s often stated by people who don’t really think things through that an infinite timeline implies infinite possibilities and that all things will eventually happen. This, as Ignotus illustrates, is false.

The prophecy that Mimtumble speaks is the one that Harry hears in the graveyard in HPMOR.

Chapter 16: Huis Clos

The Sartre play, “Huis Clos” (known in English as “No Exit”) is the origination of the phrase “Hell is other people”. L’enfer, c’est les autres.

Meldh visited the Peverell Brothers (and Ignotus) in their dreams, passing on the knowledge necessary to create the Deathly Hallows.

Hugue de Payens was the leader of the Templars, and an alter ego of Cadmus Peverell.

Iolanthe and Celia Peverell were Antioch Peverell’s daughters. Iolanthe would marry Hardwin Potter (son of Linfred of Stinchcombe), and Celia would marry Greybold Gaunt; it is to them that the Peverells passed the Invisibility Cloak and the Spirit Stone, respectively.

Chapter 17 + 18: Mad & Ordinary World

And I find it kind of funny, I find it kind of sad, that the dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had.”

Череповец, Вологодская область is Cherepovets, in Russia, one of the supposed locations of Baba Yaga’s hut. Note that February 2 is Groundhog’s Day (see: Put Your Little Hand In Mine).

Professor Gagwilde was the Headmaster of Hogwarts in the 1300s.

“Finishing each other’s sandwiches” is both a reference to Frozen and Arrested Development.

In the 1300s, Hogwarts is far from heteronormative. Helena has a crush on Nell that is obvious to the entire school with the exception of Ollie.

The Bawdy Brothel of Bathsheba, is sadly, not a real portrait. Runcible LaValley was a character briefly mentioned in Significant Digits. Edward Lear coined the word “Runcible” in his poem, “The Owl and the Pussycat”, where they ate both mince and quince, using a “runcible spoon”. Lear later went on to coin another nonsense word, “Dolomphious” to describe a duck.

The Porpentine was a magical device that powered “The Land” in one of the Sandman stories. Incidentally, the world of MUD1 was also called “The Land”.

Chapter 19: A Song For You

I love you in a place where there’s no space or time

I love you for my life, you were a friend of mine

And when my life is over, remember when we were together

We were alone and I was singing this song to you”

Given that Baba Yaga is the future version of Perenelle, “we were alone” is meant quite literally.

With Festivus and Ollie, I tried to recreate the dynamic of the Weasley twins from HP canon.

I always feel a bit gross writing scenes that sexualize characters. For that matter, I always feel a bit gross reading passages that sexualize characters. It always seems to play as weirdly self-indulgent. But at the same time, sexuality IS a thing, and people (including fictional characters) sometimes make less-than-rational decisions because of that sweet, sweet ass. And I’m very much a believer in “show rather than tell”. So it’s either “She was like, super duper hot!” or “…snow white skin, smooth, taut, and unmarred….”

When writing Nell’s inner monologue, I tried to tap into my inner teenager. Hence the ubiquity of swear words and overdramatized dialog.

Chapter 20. Ms. Phaethon

/u/mrphaethon was one of the names of Alexander D., the author of Significant Digits. Phaethon was also the name of the opera that Richard Halley, from Atlas Shrugged, wrote. I was absolutely enamored with Objectivist themes and literature in high school and college. Of course, after experiencing just a little bit of the real world, I quickly realized the folly of this line of thinking. But, in the context of this story, Phaethon, the son of Helios, was something of an Icarus; he flew too close to the sun, much like a certain heroine of ours.

These chapters are some of the most straightforward in the book. Despite the actual plotting that occurs being fairly complex, it’s also all surface-level. The outcome of the plot is entirely explained in the text, and it’s nothing more than what it is; the overly complex plotting of a teenage girl.

Nell is a good person; she’s powerful and skilled, and she knows it. And she craves recognition, but she doesn’t want the world to know that. So she says and does all the right things, she’s reasonably effective. But she hasn’t quite learned a very critical lesson: being better than 99.9% of people might sound impressive, but that just puts you at the very bottom of the ladder of the exceptional.

Incidentally, Nell’s character is the most autobiographical.

Bertoxxulous is the god of Plague from the Everquest MMORPG.

Ceti Eels are, of course, the mind-controlling earworm-cum-nightmare-fuel from Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.

“On Formally Undecidable Propositions of Principia Mathematica and Related Systems” is Kurt Gödel’s famous work that proved, among other things, that no matter how much you try to prevent it, any formal system will be able to self-reference. And the Principia Mathematica was particularly famous for taking roughly 300 pages to prove that 1+ 1 = 2.

“Ma” and “Ntok” are a reference to the original HPMOR spell, “Hyakuju Montauk”, used by Quirrel against Snape. That spell itself was a reference to the SCP procedure, “110-Montauk”, which was so horrifying and traumatizing that no one in the SCP foundation can even agree on exactly what it even is.

Much like Principia Discordia and Principia Mathematica, the tenants of Ayn Rand’s Objectivism are rooted in the Law of Identity as the ultimate axiom.

“When preceded by its incantation” is a derivation of the original quine: “‘Yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation’ yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation” It’s a statement that can neither be true nor false.

In Significant Digits was the fact that the Three “[c]onferred in a dialect of Norman French now entirely extinct.” I am unsure as to whether the author confirmed this, but in Orders of Magnitude, I canonized the fact that this language was Auregnais, which is a Norman French dialect of one of the Channel Islands called Alderney. Of particular note is that there is a landmark on Alderney called Marais Hall, and it just so happens that Perenelle’s maiden name is “Du Marais”

Chapter 21. A Million Same

“Threw you the obvious, and you flew with it on your back
A name in your recollection, down among a million same
Difficult not to feel a little bit disappointed and passed over
When I look right through, to see you naked but oblivious”

Drawn from the song “3 Libras”, by A Perfect Circle. The Deathly Hallows were created, in the Orders of Magnitude canon, as devices intended to destroy the anchors of The Twelve. One might say they are the scales of balance, after a fashion.

Additionally, Perenelle is a Libra, and the parallel battles that are laced throughout the chapter involve three instances of her: Perenelle from six centuries in the future, battling against Hermione. And Perenelle of the present, battling against the version of herself from the real-world: Maximilian (nee Maxine) Koschey, AKA Baba Yaga.

“Elijah Solomon”, of course, is a reference to Eliezer Yudkowsky.

The name of Babette’s diary was “Lost”. Also, the name of Babette’s diary was lost.

Another song from the same album as 3 Libras was a song called “Magdalena”, a verse of which went: “So pure, so rare, to witness such an earthly goddess, that I’d sell my soul, ,y self-esteem a dollar at a time, for one chance, one kiss, one taste of you my black madonna”

Time’s up. Let’s do this.


Chapter 22. The Tragedy of Light

My attempt to flesh out and realize “The Tragedy of Light” from the original HPMOR, which of course was a retelling of the anime Death Note. “The Rook” as Ryuk. Light Augurrey as Light Yagami, Neal as Near, Isaac as Aizawa, Monica as Matsuda, McNamee as Mikami. m

The introduction is cribbed from Bertolt Brecht’s “The Caucasian Chalk Circle”, which itself was a play-within-a-play. Brecht’s play was referenced earlier in this book as well.

Nell ran headfirst into Chesterton’s fence.

“He has learned what it means to lose”- one of many bits of foreshadowing that Merlin is, in fact, Harry.

The final scene of The Tragedy of Light is taken almost word for word from the final scene of Death Note. So, uh… spoiler alert?


The interaction between Draco and Lucius is also an attempt to flesh out one of the scenes that was only alluded to in the original HPMOR.

The self-burn of “if the author were as clever as his characters, he would be doing impressive things instead of writing about them” is not lost on me.

Chapter 23. Saturn Ascends

“Clutch it like a cornerstone, otherwise it all comes down

Justify denials and grip ’em to the lonesome end

Clutch it like a cornerstone, otherwise it all comes down

Terrified of being wrong, ultimatum prison cell

Saturn ascends. Choose one or ten. Hang on or be humbled again”

The first astrological house is that of Aries, the Ram. The tenth astrological house is that of Capricorn, the Goat. The Goat and the Ram. The left or right hand of God. Choose one or ten.

The last lines of “The Grudge”, from which this chapter derives its title, are “Let go, let go, let go, let go, let go”.

Æsahættr was another name for The Subtle Knife from Phillip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” series.

After a fashion, Antioch killed a man with whom he once quarrelled…

The Words of Power And Madness are just the chapter names from Orders of Magnitude. Appropriate for something meant to be the keys to all of prophecy.

“εσχατος εχθρος”: The Last Enemy.


The prophecy from the original Harry Potter


HJPEV’s poor pet rock.


A reference to Tom Riddle.


Choose one or ten.


The critical prophecy from Significant Digits.


Another prophecy from Significant Digits, but this one originally in Hungarian.


He he cum jokes


Bellatrix, (who has been ‘de-armed’) gets found by the dial in Dumbledore’s office which “counts the number of, let’s call them sneezes, by left-handed witches within the borders of France”. So in other words, more cum jokes.


The once and future king.


Lots of choices to be made.


Like whether you prefer the Follow the Phoenix post-HPMOR mythology or the Significant Digits post-HPMOR mythology.


Like Harry supposedly getting Draco pregnant.


Lawrence Ludwig Bradwian’s prophecy from Significant Digits.


The Crown of Serpents being the device by which Tom Riddle supposedly used to locate the Philosopher’s Stone.

Chapter 24. The Fault in Our Stars

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

Also, the classic angsty teen drama with music by Charlie XCX.

Merlin used the Cup to destroy the Cup.

The True Cross, which can assemble itself into any shape, was ordered to form an impossible shape, and it obliged.

Merlin acknowledged that it was he who was responsible for the destruction of Atlantis, absolving Adnan Nejem of his self-inflicted blame.

The Mirror, which held all of Earth within its purview, was used to destroy Magic.

There are roughly 100 billion people who have ever lived, and also roughly 100 billion stars in the galaxy. A neat little coincidence, I thought.

Chapter 25. Something to Protect: Bellatrix Black

This chapter made me very sad to write. But I was really perturbed by how people seemed to be so excited that Neville killed Bellatrix Black in Significant Digits. So I wanted to do as much as possible to humanize her.

Gilles de Rosier, much like Gilles de Rais, was not a nice man.

Yes, that is what is happening.

The shadowy black cords are also used by Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter movies in Malfoy Manor.

In the Cursed Child, Bella finally got her Delphini.

In Orpheus and the Underworld, Orpheus is given the chance to rescue the one he loves from the clutches of death, all he has to do is simply not turn around and look back. So Bella is determined to learn from his tale; she gives herself completely over to Lord Voldemort, never once looking back.

“Spectacular, spectacular, no words in the vernacular!” from ‘The Pitch’ from Moulin Rouge. Sung of course, to the tune of ‘The French Can Can’, AKA, ‘Infernal Galop’ from Orpheus in the Underworld by Offenbach. Given Bella’s fondness for the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice, the song is appropriate.

In the first few chapters of HPMOR, Harry proposes the following scenario to McGonnagal: “…as I scrabble frantically in my mokeskin pouch for something that could help her, she looks at me sadly and with her last breath says, ‘Why weren’t you prepared?’ And then she dies, and I know as her eyes close that she won’t ever forgive me -“. Similar to Harry’s usage of the term “crucify”, this is a little remnant of Voldemort creeping out from behind the curtain.

Chapter 26. Will We Die, Just A Little?

This is what Grindelwald says to Newt at the end of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. In this context, it’s a sort of nod to Harry’s plan for himself and the Professor. When they arrive at the End of Time, utterly destroying their physical bodies and any connection to the World of Magic, will they die, just a little?

In the original ordering of the story, the first half of this chapter was one of the first that I released, and was a standalone chapter. The reveal that Harry was providing the Professor with false hope would only come much later in the story. I tend to prefer that my plot twists be foreshadowed with plot-relevant points from the story. But as I moved to formalize the ordering of the story, it occurred to me that the foreshadowing of this shift was primarily thematic rather than plot-driven. Plus, I didn’t want readers to think that the upshot of the story was going to be that Harry and the Professor beat Heat Death by building an AGI.

I come back to this point of “infinite time doesn’t imply infinite possibilities” multiple times throughout the story, because one of the potential downsides of introducing a time loop as a story device is that it raises pesky questions like, “Well, why doesn’t one of them just try every possibility until one of them works?”

The quote, “Harry had from now until the End of Time” deliberately stylized the capitalization to indicate that it was referring to the place rather than an event. The actual reason behind introducing the “second Box” was to provide a plausible mechanism by which Harry and the Professor could travel 26,000 light years together in a spacecraft without going insane with boredom. Not to mention, I needed some in-universe explanation for how they survived entering a black hole, and I wasn’t content to simply wave my hand and say “Magic!”

Chapter 27. Infernal Galop

Better known as “The French Can Can”, the Infernal Galop is a song from Offenbach’s “Orpheus in the Underworld”. As mentioned earlier in the author notes, when I was five years old, I had cancer and had a number of surgeries. Before one of them, my grandmother gave me a little music box, it was a little skeleton that danced the French Can Can. In hindsight, it was a rather morbid gift for a five year old trying to grapple with the concept of mortality, but hey, she meant well. When I went under general anaesthesia for the first time in my life, five-year-old me thought that I was dying. The doctors either didn’t explain what the experience would be like, or I didn’t listen (probably the latter). My vision narrowed to a tunnel of light, and the world around me sort of faded away, and then there was nothing.

Then, the tunnel came back, and the world started to return, and I thought that I was in heaven. That is, until I realized that I was still lying on a hospital bed with a tube shoved up my ass, and then proceeded to vomit.

That experience, and the ones that followed (I had a total of thirteen surgeries between the ages of five and fifteen that required going under), gave me a very deep-seated adversarial relationship with the notion of Death. Perhaps having internalized the Orpheus myth a bit too much, I felt convinced every time that I came back from anaesthesia, that I would be safe, as long as I didn’t look backward, which led to some rather unhealthy attitudes about my own invincibility. This led to a lot of silly, reckless behavior as a teenager, including, at one point, accidentally driving my car off of a bridge (it was a small bridge).

During those dramatic teenage years, I had resolved to fight back, to look back and stare Death in the face and return. And so I did; as my vision started to return, I tried to look back into the darkness, and the darkness obliged, and I started to sink back into oblivion. It was all quite terrifying and I struggled against it. Earlier that year, I had found my mom’s old collection of Harlan Ellison books and comics, including an illustrated version of “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” and I quite distinctly remember thinking that very thought. I was a disembodied consciousness about to die, and I couldn’t do anything about it.

As it so happened, I did have a mouth, and apparently, I did scream. A lot. And used a lot of very creative profanity, supposedly (according to my brother or Dad, I can’t remember which), calling the nurse a “shit fucking cunt” among other colorful invectives. The reason that I was unable to emerge from that torporous oblivion was not because death was engulfing me, but because they loaded me up with a few doses of sedatives because I wouldn’t stop struggling and swearing.

That rather mundane explanation to such a harrowing experience resonated with me on a rational level, but my ever-growing teenage Death complex gladly internalized the notion that I was still fighting, and that I was angrier than ever.

So the moral of this story is, if you happen to become a kindly grandparent one day and ever have the misfortune of having a grandchild with cancer who is about to have a terribly invasive surgery, maybe pick a less metaphorical present than a dancing skeleton.

Oh, and did I mention that every now and then, the music box would randomly turn on in the middle of the night?

This passage is cribbed directly from the play “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead”, which quite aptly describes the nature of Harry and the Professor at this point.

This, apparently, is what it would actually look like if one were to enter a black hole.

“It does not do, Harry, to dwell on dreams and forget to live” Both an admonition to those who live in the World of Magic, but also to the readers. Magic isn’t real, science isn’t Magic, and reading about rationality is not the same as living and acting rationally.

I had this speech written in my head from the very beginning. And I had thought that it was a magnum opus of sorts, and that the masses would stand up and applaud upon reading it and rise up, feeling life-affirmed and blah blah blah. When it actually came time to put pen to paper and I was done writing it, in some dim part of my mind, I had expected more. An applause, maybe? Apparently I have not quite shaken off my penchant for the expectation of the dramatic. Nonetheless, this seemed quite Harry-like, so I decided to give Harry similarly lofty expectations (and a similarly anti-climactic response).

Chapter 28. If Only In My Dreams

If we look at the timeline of 1999, it looks something like this:

May 30, 1999: Harry tells Hermione of his intention to leave on a spacecraft

June, 1999: Harry recreates a Box of Orden, places it on the spacecraft, and Box-Harry and Box-Professor begin their journey to the End of Time.

July, 1999: Future Harry emerges from the End of Time and begins the final preparations for ending the World of Magic.

December 25, 1999: The Mirror severs the connection between the world of Magic and the real world.

?: Box-Harry and Box-Professor emerge at the End of Time.

?: Box-Harry departs the End of Time and emerges at July, 1999.

?: Box-Professor departs the End of Time and emerges in the Real World right before the Atlantis Disaster.

The Mirror, at this point, preserves the memories of every living being and every being that has ever died in the World of Magic. It stores these memories in the Line of Merlin, and the last act of Magic in the world is transporting the Line of Merlin into the pocket world created by the Box. When the Professor emerges shortly before the Atlantis Disaster, he carries with him the Line and all of the memories it contains.

In the real world, on Saturday, December 25, 1999, Commander Curt Brown and his crew awoke to Bing Crosby’s “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” as part of the STS-103 mission to repair and service the Hubble telescope. In the story, he reminisces about the fact that almost a decade before, almost a decade before, the primary mirror in the telescope had a miniscule flaw, nearly undetectable in size, almost 1% of the width of a single human hair. The Hubble, much like the Mirror itself, is as Harry said in Chapter 50 of Significant Digits, “High above us… Six hundred kilometers high, so that its field of view encompasses the whole planet.” Or in the Hubble’s case, precisely 547km above us.

Chapter 29. Crab Canon

John made the snap decision to pipe the data from the payload back into the system.

No. Yes, there was noise. There was too much noise. The payload was already constructed. He’d saved the people. He didn’t save the world… And that’s when he saw him. The man who was out of place, out of time… He was old. Old. No one was old anymore. This was his doing. The old man was holding the Line. No, no, no, no, NO. Flight. It was done. No. No time. He didn’t have time. Questions, questions, questions. All the answers would be there eventually. The system was procedurally generating humans as fast as it could churn them out.

And then with all the fury of an exploding star, a new world was born.

And then with all the fury of an exploding star, the old world died.

The system was procedurally generating humas as fast as it could churn them out…. Questions, questions, questions. All the answers would be there, eventually. He didn’t have time. No. No. No time… Flight. It was done… No, no, no, no, NO… The old man was holding The Line… This was his doing… He was old. Old. No one was old anymore… And that’s when he saw him. The man who was out of place, out of time… He’d saved the people. He didn’t save the world. The payload was already constructed. Yes, there was noise. There was too much noise. No.

John made the snap decision. He couldn’t save the world by himself.

Merlin had a choice at that moment, to either try to force his experiment through, destroying the physical bodies of every living being and piping them into his constructed world… or to admit defeat, and end things.

Merlin’s creation, at the end of it all, did one simple thing: it simulated an entire world, an entire universe, to show what would happen if Merlin made the wrong decision. It generated two things as output: firstly, a version of the Merlin’s Line that contained the memories and stories of every living being produced by that simulation. And secondly, a human being of about forty, which is unspeakably old in the eyes of a society where everyone perpetually lives at the peak of physical health.

Ultimately, it seems that Merlin did learn to lose.

Chapter 30: The Day After Tomorrow

This chapter was supposed to be the end, but it seems as though the story was meant to go on. I had written the first pass of the story, with little teasers for each storyline I intended to wrap up. Then I went through and fleshed out the stories. At some point in this process, I had opened a second window of my text editor (but not ever closing out the first one). I finished the story and saved it. I then did a bunch of editing work, wrote up a Reddit post, and went to upload the story. I clicked back into the first window (which still dutifully contained the version from several hours before that was unfinished), clicked “Save” out of habit, and uploaded it, and felt satisfied.

It wasn’t until a few days later that I re-read the final chapter that I realized, to my horror, that it was about half as long as I had written it and it also left out the entire resolution to Perenelle’s story.

Like Bach, I simply cannot stand an unfinished melody, and so the story weighed on me for the better part of four years. I took a break from the story to write The Longest Day, which was an odyssey unto itself, taking almost two years to complete. But upon its completion, I planned to finally wrap up Orders of Magnitude. But then the Coronavirus struck and business and life was turned upside down and it hasn’t been until the last month or so that there’s been some semblance of normalcy to where I could sit down and finally finish things.

So as a Christmas gift to both my readers (all three of you that are left, anyway), I present the rewritten final chapter, along with an epilogue. And as a Christmas gift to myself, I can finally move on from this magical little world.

Orders of Magnitude, Arc 1: Estramoz. Prologue


But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living… for the price of wisdom is above rubies. Job 28:12

The first thing that Adelberto noticed was the oppressive heat; Évora was known for being warm, but this was bordering on unnatural. These were strange times, but God worked in strange ways. It was a stroke of fortune that this stranger, who was no Christian or Moor, was willing to pay such a handsome sum for such strange cargo. Adelberto was a poultry farmer by trade, he lived a simple life and had simple needs, but in the last six months, he had fallen on difficult times. Even when every last galo came down with the febre vermelha, his Faith never waivered, for the galinhas were unaffected. This gave him at least a few months time. He was confident that the Lord would provide, and He did.

The man was waiting, as promised. He stood near a circle drawn in the ground with chalk. There were five buildings nearby that looked new’ in fact, they looked like cages, but Adelberto could not think of any beast large enough to warrant a prison that large. He then thought about his cargo, and what would happen if it were discovered. The local authorities were friends of the Lord, it was doubtful they would care about some leftover weapons from the Reconquista. Crates of scimitars. Piles of nooses. They were tools of the Lord; their victims were simply Moors.

The man spoke. “Ola amigo. Leve o seu ouro, deixar o vagão, em seguida, partem. Egeustimentis.” The man shook Adelberto’s hand, and Adelberto shuddered for a moment, but complied. Quickly.

The man removed the tools from the wagon. He breathed in deeply, then began the chant.

…Eu dar-lhe um Nome, eo Nome é perdido . Eu dou-lhe o sangue de fora da minha veia , e uma pena eu puxei de asa de um anjo . Eu chamo -lhe nomes, de meu senhor, meu senhor . Eu convoco com veneno e chamar de dor. Eu abrir o caminho e eu abrir os portões. Vem. Vem…

He closed his eyes, and felt the heat from the five caged dragons begin to dissipate, counterbalanced by an unnatural chill. Well. That had worked. He traced an ankh in the air with his wand, said an unfamiliar word, and the chill lifted. Soon enough, he would ensure that the counterspell was lost forever, but he still had much work to do. He pointed his wand at one of the cages containing the Welsh Green, and fired off a spell at each cage in rapid succession.


He was preparing for war, and he was building his army.

Orders of Magnitude, Arc 1: Estremoz. Chapter 1: Swords and Stars

Two years earlier

“Did you not think that I, the one who would be most likely to see the rightness in your cause, would be offended that I was the last of the Four that you approached?” Helga Hufflepuff took a sip of tea, watching her friend’s reaction closely. “It is fair to say that I and my brethren are known for little, save for our tenacity. But I dare say that hard work often beats a faster path to Truth than cleverness, cunning, or courage.

“I have seen what our students have done. I have seen what we have wrought. I know what we are capable of. And yes, I have heard the prophecies. Even The Prophecy.” At this, Heraclius Hero arched an eyebrow.

Helga continued, “Friend, I have often considered walking the same path as yourself. I have often considered abandoning my companions, walking away from what we have built. The others, they do not see the extent of the danger as clearly as I do.”

“So then, you will aid me, when the others have rebuffed me?” Heraclius asked.

Helga began to speak, but her regretful smile communicated everything Heraclius needed to know.

“You’re a fool! All of you are!” He slammed his fist into the table, causing the other people in the pub to look over in irritation.. “You’re so damned clever, every last one of you. You only believe the best because you want it to be true! But has it ever occurred to you that sometimes, the simplest solution is the correct one? I am well aware of the manifold interpretations. Rending asunder the fires of the sky. Tearing open the eyes of heaven. Tearing apart the very stars in heaven. They all speak to one thing: destruction, death, the end of all things! And you, you cursed deathists, you wish to let it happen, in the misguided hope that The Prophecy means something other than the obvious!”

At this, Helga’s phoenix, Howard, cawed softly, and Helga interjected. “Do you not think that out of death, can come rebirth?” Heraclius cut her off, “Not this again. I have heard this enough from the others, but from you as well? No. I do not accept this. Death is never good. Death is never right. And I for one, will not stand idly by and watch as you march this world towards oblivion, made worse by the fact that you think you lead us into salvation.”

Heraclius stood up to leave. “SIT.” The command seemed unsuited for Helga’s lips, but it was spoken with such force, anger, and determination, that he was almost bound to comply. “You have insulted me and mine enough. It is fortunate that I did love you, once. You have little idea of the sacrifices I have endured for the sake of you and your wretched companion. The lies he told me. I had made beautiful, terrible things. My power was growing. I was to be The One, to lead us to a new era.

But he came to me, with honeyed words and promises. He came to me as he came to all of us, and I gave him an audience because of you, because of our love. He told me the plans he had for my Cup, the ways he would channel our power to create the ultimate creative force. He told me LIES, and now all I have to show for my life’s work is THIS!” She angrily shook her teacup at him. Fortunately, it was empty. Not that it would have mattered.

“He shackled me, he shackled all of us, Meldh. And you allowed it to happen. You knew. You allowed this, this monster, to become masters of all of us. Even yourself. You began this march, this inexorable spiral into stagnation. Despite this, I never sought to strike against you, but you would be well to know that you only live by my grace. We have watched the passage of time for a millennium, you and I, and I do not end such friendships lightly. But the tools of my will are spread wide, every man, woman and child wizard in the whole of this part of the world uses a piece of my Will. And through them I command a great power. See to it that you do not give me cause to turn that power against you.”

Meldh considered his response. “You call me by my True Name, It is a word I have not heard in centuries. I shall return the favor, Ελαολογος. But know this. You do not absolve me of blame out of some misguided loyalty to our centuries together. You know as well as I do that I had been Bound. You know that I would not have deceived you otherwise.”

Her hand whipped out, faster than what should have been possible, “Egeustimentis. Egeustimentis Ba. You have known the counterspell for ages. We all have. Even without the Touch, I can see your mind, I can see no traces of the Touch.”

Meldh breathed in deeply. So. Now was when we was to tell her. “You know the depth of Merlin’s cunning. I have taken a Vow.”

A pause.

A long pause.

She said nothing.

“Not under my own volition, so to speak, but nonetheless, I am Bound, forever more.” This made matters considerably more complicated. After a time, she spoke. “Would you move against us all the same, Vow or no?”

“I would. But I would not have lied to you. I would do as I do now, moving openly.”

“And have you spoke with Godric?”

“I have not. His pride would not permit it. Nor would mine,” his words were tinged with bitterness. At this, she finally laughed.

“To think. All of history, all of fate, the future of all our kind, will be altered by the pride of two jealous men, quarreling over a woman.”

He smiled in return. It was genuine. “More significant events have been precipitated by less.”

Helga began to speak.

“Then there will be war.” At this, Meldh nodded.

“And you know that we will win.” At this, Meldh nodded.

“And yet you still will move against us.” At this, Meldh nodded.

“Because you truly, deeply, believe that what you are doing is right.” At this, Meldh nodded.

Helga closed her eyes. No one is the villain of their own story. She stood.

Godric sat in his study, his eyes closed. No rescuer hath the rescuer, indeed.

Orders of Magnitude, Arc 1: Estremoz. Chapter 2: Freedom

Many years earlier

The Foothills Near Λείβηθρα

Archon Heraclius Hero surveyed his army, his people. When he spoke, everyone heard, both mankind and God alike.

“The old Gods have ruled for too long. They have given us a hint, a taste of their power, and now we shall turn that power against them. For too long have they shackled the ambitions of mankind with their Magic. Man must rise of his own strength, and our strength is our mind. We, and those who come after us, must use this strength to build great things. We must not become bedridden, becoming reliant on an insidious crutch: this will-work that we do not understand, “gifted” to us by those who would use it to drive us into stagnation.

Magic, though it may be a blessing in some respects, makes us the play things of the Old Ones. If we rely on magic to build our empires, to grow our foundation, we build a house on sand. Our house must be built on rock, and that rock is our mind. A true curse is not one that brings nothing but misery. A true curse grants you power, a true curse is one whose pleasures are so intoxicating you do not wish to abandon it. Magic is that true curse.

Eperesto. Look at this. Sanguista. Is it not wondrous? Volesonorus. Is it not beautiful? That is the hallmark of its danger. Can you apply the principles of reason to these spells? Can you predict what words will cause what effect? If you cannot, you are a puppet. You are a plaything, stabbing in the dark, blindly grasping into places you know not with power that you know not. You are at the mercy of those who grant you this power.

Look around you. Do you see the glittering stone, the wondrous palaces, the plentiful houses, the water that courses through our city, the food that is bountiful upon your plate? That is the legacy of mankind. Look around you. What is the legacy of Atlantis? Do you live in a house that Atlantis built? Can you eat food that Atlantis has summoned? The old ones wish to keep us shackled, to keep us in their thrall, to damn us to millennia of darkness, subservient to them. I say “No!” We are subservient to no beings but ourselves.

Let us rise up! It is the start of a new dawn. No longer shall the world be ruled by muses and gods and fairies and Mystics. That is a world of stagnation, a world where we make no progress because no progress is necessary. You shall be the ushers of a glorious dawn, and history shall remember you brave souls as the true fathers of mankind!”

It took over thirty-six hours, but they succeeded. He lost slightly over one half of his men, but they succeeded. He took an arrow to the shoulder, and suffered an inch-deep slice across his leg, but they succeeded. They had broken the lines of the Titans, stormed through the mountain stronghold, and destroyed the Third Tower.

As a result, the Central ley line was lost. Creatures across the land blinked out of existence, those who relied on the ambient magic generated by the connection. More powerful creatures with their own nodes remained, but were diminished. The Muses and the Titans and the Fates and Furies narrowly escaped into another world.

The impact was felt as far as Egypt, where the priests of Ra and Anubis felt the power of their relics die in their hands. It was felt as far as the Arabian Peninsula, where Djinni died in their lamps. It was felt as far as Alto Alentejo, where the Falxian Priests could no longer feel the magic within their rock warrens. But they were free. Man was free to grow and develop a civilization.

Albion, however, was still imprisoned. It had the Eastern ley and the Northern ley, that lay in crux with each other, amplifying their power to the extent that no Tower was needed to anchor it to this world. The peoples in Albion would be held in thrall for generations.

But, Albion also had Ελαολογος, the master artificer. She had arrived centuries before, after having successfully reproduced the Rod of Ànkyras. The original was as large as a stave, with multiple cores of several creatures whose properties lay in synergy with each other, and could easily amplify the caster’s power. When miniaturized, however, it’s power was greatly reduced. When reduced to a single core, it became, at best, a useful little tool for small bits of hedge magick. At worst, however, it was a crutch, and could potentially limit the magical development of an entire region.

Deep Magic is difficult. It requires the proper state of mind, the ability to hold multiple realities in one’s thoughts, to manipulate both in synchrony with each other. When cast properly, it can yield awesome, yet dangerous results. Many people have the potential for Deep Magic. Fewer people have the resources to pursue and cultivate this talent. Even fewer have the required skill to do anything useful with this, without years of training.

When using a Rod of Ànkyras, even a fledgling wizard can violate the most fundamental laws of nature and produce water out of the aether. Why would anyone bother to pursue Deep Magic, when such miracles were within the grasp of mere children?

Yet, when wholly reliant upon a Rod of Ànkyras, even the most powerful of potential mages will likely do nothing greater than summon living flame, or temporarily change the Substance of a Form for a matter of minutes.

It was with this in mind that Ελαολογος, many years before, had left her lover and travelled to an unfamiliar continent and took a new name and made a new home, and eventually, started a new life.

The Archon strode to the camp, still feeling the glorious high of victory. He looked out among his people. He looked out among mankind. He smiled, because he knew that a new dawn was rising, a new dawn where a man would be free to exercise the fullest fruits of his mind; his capacity to reason. He looked out and he smiled for these were his people. He went by many names, one of them meant “protector of mankind”. Although he had long since discarded the name, he took the appellation seriously. These were his people and he was their protector, and they protected him.

He dwelled briefly on the hypocrisy of fighting magic with magic. He dwelled briefly on the pain of loving his people but not trusting them. He quickly moved on, for trust is a deeper bond then love. A parent loves their child, as Heraclius loves his people. But, a parent cannot fully trust the judgment of their children; a parent will afford themselves certain privileges, certain rights that they cannot afford their children. So too was Heraclius the shepherd of his people. At one point in the past, he was one of the chosen, picked (perhaps capriciously) by the Old Ones to help them shape their vision of the world dominated not by man but mages. He was gifted with great power and lore. But he did not turn that gift against men. He was the Protector of Mankind, and he took that honor seriously

As he strode through the camp, he looked upon his men, men who fought valiantly while many of their companions perished. It was, no doubt, a sacrifice, but importantly, they chose the sacrifice. He was not a ruler who would choose for his men. It was not his place to choose whether they should give their lives or not. He offered them the choice and they accepted, because they were men of honor, they were men of foresight, they were men of bravery.

One man had fought with such ferocity that even in the heat of battle, it had caught Heraclius’ attention. That man had now discarded his battle armor, and was standing in front of a small fire, gazing into its depths, alone. He was middle aged, with a body that was at one point in peak physical condition but now wore the hallmarks of age like a badge of honor. His face was deeply lined. It was a face that had seen much. Perhaps too much. His green eyes were warm, though. Heraclius spoke: “We have won a good battle here friend. You fought well.”

The man placed his hand on Archon Heraclius Hero’s shoulder and replied. “But there are still more to be fought. You are a worthy leader. But I fear you may not yet be strong enough for the battles to come. Egeustimentis.

Orders of Magnitude, Arc 2: Gods. Prologue

The man emerged on the back end of eternity, his Will nearly broken, his Life nearly lost. He desperately reached out backward across the span of Time, but he knew what the result would be. Nothing. What he created should have been Paradise. Instead, it was Hell. They were gone, all of them, and he had no one to blame but himself. No one was left to blame but himself.

He looked forward into the depths of Time, and what he saw horrified him further. So many were already dead at his hand, but there were to be more. Countless more. Billions more. With every day that passed, the Curse that now bound this world and all worlds would grow. New lives would be created, lives so unbelievably, horrifyingly, tragically short. There was nothing he could do to save them.

Not yet, at least.

He had looked through Time once more, and in that instant of calculation, he embraced all possible futures and saw only one. The world must be unbound. The world must be sacrificed for the sake of all other worlds. There was no other way. How could there be? This was his burden, and every moment wasted, a new tragedy was born.

Orders of Magnitude, Arc 2: Gods. Chapter 1: The Fall

He would soon find that there were others, those who had foreseen the cataclysm and taken steps to ensure their safety. Tragedies. More tragedies. They were anchored to this world, thus they too must be unbound. Nog-Nandh of the Flame, Yanotuk of the Cups, Ma’krt of the Rock, KriXiang of the Glass, Shiggoth of the Spire, Neirkalatia of the Cross, Danu of the Beast, Gom’Jorbol of the Rod, Kari of the Cube, and a handful of others.

And himself, Merlin of the Line. He too must be unbound, this he knew. It was a sacrifice he would be proud to make when the time came: one life for infinite lives. It was a sacrifice that all of his kind should be proud to make, twelve lives for infinite lives. It was a sacrifice the entire world should be proud to make, billions of lives for infinite lives.

Over the eons, he met with them, when this new Earth was still young and wild. Some had woken, and wandered the world. Some appointed avatars to be their proxies. Others still lay slumbering. Most, however, clung desperately to their lives, and waged mean and petty wars against each other for dominance over a child’s playground. He left these sad creatures to their own punishment, for he knew they would either end each other, or be ended by the new masters of this new world.

Shiggoth was the first to fall. He left behind, (as the others would as well), his point of anchoring to this world. The Spires of Shiggoth were fearsome, powerful, and dangerous. But they were useful. Such things do not last long in this world or any world before they are discovered, abused, and eventually destroyed. He would let the universe take its natural toll.

The others, however, were more problematic. Merlin was powerful, but not omnipotent. He was knowledgable but not omniscient. He devoted much of his early days to searching, gathering lore and knowledge and power and puissance in the process. After a time, he came into a plan. He needed their powers, and once he claimed them, he would set to his work of saving the world. And he need not waste one more minute.

After Shiggoth, Danu was the next to fall. He was anchored to his people and his creatures of the land. He always was a man of the people, even in that distant past. His people and his creatures, both fair and foul alike, had settled upon a little island, and lived their small lives, content among themselves. When Man arrived, they were intrigued. Some waged war. Some made mischief. Some made love.

But they all knew that Man was the true master of this new world. So when the mysterious stranger arrived and offered them a world over which they could truly be sovereign, they agreed in their entirety. When the transmigration began, Danu felt himself diminish. When it had ended, his anchoring to this world had departed, he felt himself no more.

Danu ceased to endure.

Nog-Nandh slept. Nog-Nandh dreamed. It dreamed of death, of horror, of bodies and teeth and limbs, in their countless trillions. It dreamed of the death it felt responsible for. This horror, this oblivion, was preferable to waking to face what it had wrought.

So Nog-Nandh slept. It slept for countless eons, dreaming the same dreams. Of course, had it so chosen, it could have dreamed joy, hope, and love. But it did not want peace. It wanted absolution. That absolution would be born in pain and loss.

When Nog-Nandh dreamed of something different, it knew its day of reckoning had come. It dreamed of a man, so unfamiliar. It dreamed of a man, an old friend. It dreamed of lined faces and green eyes and strange robes and strange hair strange eyes strange face strange teeth the teeth the teeth the teeth–

On the shores of the lake of teeth, where the black hills end.

–the teeth. The landscape of Nog-Nandh’s nightmares had coalesced into distinct geography. In the sky was rain, for it always rained from eternity into eternity. Today, the rain took the form of mist. A light fog of milk wafted through, collecting dew upon the jagged frozen rocks at an outcropping of the lake.

This world, this living nightmare, stared into the eyes of the strange man who existed as nothing but fractal shadows. And undefined period of silence followed. Nog-Nandh’s nightmare-world finally spoke.

“Merlin… Please.”

At that, the new lords of this land arrived: the people of Danu. When the last of them came, Merlin wove all of Nog-Nandh’s will into the fabric of permanency, ensuring that as long as Nog-Nandh endured, so too would this new land. And as long as this new land endured, so too would Nog-Nandh. It was not absolution. It was Purgatory.

Tírr i’nna n-Óc endured.

Orders of Magnitude, Arc 2: Gods. Chapter 2: Cups and Wands

Every scholar of magical theory knows that three is a magically powerful number. Now, there are certain disputes over why this is the case; some suggest that it has something to do with the physical pattern of the ley lines that connect the three major magical crossroads of the world. But the current fashionable theory of Functional Magic suggests that in a freeform, three-dimensional space where all else is equal, a triptych of nodes is the ideal configuration to most efficiently harness ambient magic. This theory has been backed up by several experiments and the principles of Arithmancy seem to bear out these results.

However, anyone even remotely familiar with the tale of Harry James Potter Evans-Verres (who, depending on who you ask, is either the foreseen savior or destroyer of this world) would be well to doubt the veracity and rigor of these experiments. The fallacy of incomplete evidence immediately comes to mind. And indeed, the true scholars of Deep Magic know that the explanation is far simpler.

As modern-day Slytherins know, three is simply the optimum number of people for a plot. One man alone is a crackpot, and would have much trouble converting others to his cause. Two is certainly sufficent; two can create the illusion of consensus and conspiracy, and can pressure a single person into action. However, only the most foolhardy of would-be plotters would devise a plan with no contingencies. If you are only Two, and something goes awry, you become One, and now you have no conspiracy to leverage. And because only a true fool would pursue a plot more complex than necessary, true plotters look for threes: no more, no less. As Saint Atilla, a master plotter unto himself, once said, “Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three.”

As such, there is always the leader, their trusted advisor, and a disposable confidant. As it was in modern times, so too was it in the ancient days. For as long as anyone with the capacity for memory can recall, there has always been The Three. In the beginning, it was Merlin of the Line, the leader, who was but himself. There was Gom’Jorbol of the Rod, the trusted advisor, who had appointed a mortal woman as his proxy and given her a measure of his Will, his Time, and his power. And there was KriXiang of the Glass, the disposable confidant, who went by many names, the most familiar of which was Topherius Chang.

It was in the ancient days that The Three began their plot. They began by removing the local leadership of Greece through a combination of spellcraft and outright assassination. Then, they stacked the local Thing with their pawns, and reached into the minds of the great philosophers and orators of the day. Finally, they took over the government by establishing the Eleusinian Mysteries. All things considered, a winning move was still a winning move.

They were opposed, of course, by a Coalition of Old Ones of less foresight and greater greed than themselves. The Three had a crucial advantage, in that they were willing to sacrifice themselves for their cause. And so it was that The Coalition had committed the third classic blunder. Any Guilderian scholar is well familiar with the first two blunders, but the third (significantly less well known) is this: “Never bring war against an opponent who has less to lose than yourself.”

Despite this, in the first century BC, the Coalition performed a masterful coup, and their pawn Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix deposed the Eleusinian Mysteries. A back-and-forth game of cat-and-mouse took place over the next century, with leader deposing leader, pawn fighting pawn, which ultimately ended it yet another seemingly decisive victory for the Coalition. But they placed far too much trust in their mortal pawns, and became far too reliant on their artifacts of power, which were anchored to this world and thus destructible.

There was one pawn of the Coalition, who saw the glory of humanity, and envisioned a future where they were not enslaved by the whims of ancient manipulators. And in time, that pawn moved strategically across the board and was elevated by his masters, and became the regent of Neirkalatia of the Cross. He betrayed his master, took her secrets for himself, and in the name of Mankind, led his army against the Titans of the Coalition at the foot of Mount Olympus.

Neirkalatia of the Cross, had waged a desperate and fearsome defense in the heart of her stronghold. In her desperation, she established a direct connection with the final Spire of Shiggoth, which in turn had a direct connection with the Central ley line. The power would, of course, eventually destroy her bodily form, but she would have sufficient time to end her attackers and ensure that her crux was properly bound.

But one does not tap into the anchor of Merlin of the Line without cost. Had she been more prudent, she may have gone unnoticed, and may have succeeded. But she was reckless. She poured all of her Will into establishing the connection, and as such, he became aware of the encroachment. He knew the time was right to sacrifice the Central ley, and in the instant he made the decision, all of its power was directed through the connection to Neirkalatia and every aspect of her, her Will, her Time, her Self, and her crux were burned through to the core.

The Coalition fell that day.

It came at a great cost to The Three. KriXiang of the Glass had sacrificed himself, after a fashion. His anchor of power, an incomplete and yet perfect reflection of itself, was turned upon two of the Coaltion: Yanotuk of the Cups and Kari of the Cube. KriXiang had sealed the three of them in a place beyond Time. The Three became Two, and the knowledge of a number of objects of terrible power were lost beyond Time as well.

It would soon come to be known that two aspects of Kari and Yanotuk had survived the Sealing. The Cup of Dawn, and a single Box of Orden. The loss of the Boxes of Orden was a blessing; the three of them combined represented such a vast destructive potential that Merlin had at times considered directly challenging Kari for control of them. The loss of the Cup of Midnight was a horrific tragedy; it was instrumental in one of his more crucial plots, and the lost centuries would ultimately account for billions upon billions of deaths. Yet another sacrifice.

A curious fact of the anchors of the Old Ones is that they are nothing more than labor-saving devices. They are world-bendingly powerful, but they also do nothing that a powerful, knowledgeable, and most importantly, determined wizard could not accomplish. It was in this spirit of hard work and tenacity that the proxy of Gom’Jorbol had years later succeeded in recreating the Cup of Midnight.

It was on that day that the first whispers of The Prophecy reached the lips of seers and fates across the world.

Orders of Magnitude, Arc 3: Methods. Prologue

“You BITCH!”

Her world was ice. Her world was crystal. Her world was fire, burning through every metaphor until nothing existed of her but the abyssal depths of her dark side.


She felt nothing.


Her breath came in ragged pulls and she poured all of her magic into the pain. Still, nothing.


She reached for the nearest heavy object, a candlestick on the nightstand. She was still naked. They both were. Normally when she was exerting herself, her hair would come loose, cover her face, obscure her vision. But today, it was slick with sweat and blood, and stuck to her back and chest.

She swung the candlestick, hard.

“This is for my mother!”

She swung again.

“This is for my father!”


“THIS is for Babette!”

The candlestick finally snapped. At this point, what she was swinging at was an unrecognizable, pulpy mess.

“YOU KNEW. This entire time, you KNEW! This entire time you could have done SOMETHING. ANYTHING!”

She choked out a sob. With no convenient weapon, and almost no magic left in her, she resorted to her fists.

“God damn you. GOD DAMN YOU.”

Impossibly, the breaths still came. She knew there was one last thing to be done, and she had held a small part of her magic in reserve. She hoped it was enough. With an angry cry of effort, she plunged her fist, augmented by a small flow of magic, into the chest of her victim. With a wet sucking sound, she pulled out what she sought.

A green, fist-sized chunk of crystal. The Heart of Koschei the Deathless.

She had a speech written in her mind, about the millions of deaths that Koschei was responsible for, and the blood on its hands and the good that it could have done and the choice of inaction and the path of evil and her own grand dreams and ambitions and how she would change and save the world. But she could not form coherent words, only vitriol.

“You… fucking.. BITCH.”

She held up the Heart. It was poetic in a way. She would use its own power to destroy both the Heart and its owner. It would, of course, be diminished. It would be a sacrifice. But it would be more than sufficient for what she hoped to accomplish.

She used the final mote of magic left in her to transfigure the Heart into something lesser. It was smaller, the size of an egg, and it was no longer the brilliant, iridescent green that reflected an infinite multitude of colors while still maintaining its own identity. Now it only reflected what was on her mind: dark, ruddy, sticky blood. She tapped into the power of the Heart.

Its form was Changed. As too, was the God beneath her. An instant before, it was a broken, but living, breathing person. An instant later, it was a corpse. It was over.

And that was the tale of Koschei the Deathless.

Orders of Magnitude, Arc 3: Methods. Chapter 1: Hogwarts

Six months earlier.

“Nell!” She pretended not to hear him.

“Nell!” Nope.

NELL!” She kept her head buried in the book.

“Don’t make me send a Howler over there!” She rolled her eyes, and briefly glanced up over the top of her book. “Whatever.” That red-haired git of a Weasley, somehow had grown handsome in a silly sort of way in his sixth year. He was still tall and gangly though. And he had a stupid name. Festivus. “Can I help you with something?”

Festivus’ companion, who up until that point had been eying Nell’s friend sitting next to her, chimed in, “Oh, I think he needs a lot of help.”

“That’s certainly true, my dear, but I come with the noblest of intentions. See, I read in a book once–”

She cut him off. “YOU? Read a book??”

“Don’t get too excited. Bewitching Witches and Ways To Woo Them. Brilliant, if I do say so myself. It says that the only thing women want to do is to talk about themselves, and that the greatest gift you can give them is your ear.”

His friend wise-cracked once more, “I don’t think there’s a big enough box to fit those things. Unless you plan on dropping her off of the side of the Tower and letting her use them as parachutes!”

“Shut up, Ollie. Can’t you see that I’m winning her over with my charms? If you–” Nell interrupted him. “Oh, I’ve seen you cast charms. And I think I’d rather hear that Howler than watch that again. If you must know, I’m currently researching the edge cases surrounding exceptions to Gamp vis-a-vis the substance-form dichotomy, specifically concerning the influence of mind altering spells such as the Confundus Charm and Geas.'”

Nothing. Just a blank stare. She rolled her eyes. Gryffindors.

Festivus blinked a few times. Ravenclaws.

“Cool! Well. I just got done putting a little something special in the pumpkin juice. So forgive me if I’m not impressed by your less lofty pursuits.”

“Go away before I Geas YOU. I’ll make you think Ollie here is prettier than I am!”

Ollie couldn’t resist the obvious joke. “You know, I’d like it if you made Helena think the same thing!” Helena blushed furiously. Nell feigned a look of confusion. Festivus gave Ollie a sharp jab in the ribs with his elbow.

Git, Nell thought.

Git, Festivus thought.

Ollie was busy thinking about Helena.

Helena was busy thinking about–“Watch it, here comes Headmaster Gag-Me,” Festivus whispered under his breath, breaking the awkward silence.

“Good morning Festivus, good morning Grumblechook! I trust you had a productive summer!” Headmaster Gagwilde strode in, interrupting the conversation with his usual dramatic flourish.

Grumblechook Ollivander rolled his eyes: he hated his name. His mother said it was an old family name, but he secretly suspected that she lost a bet with her brother-in-law. “Ollie” was just fine as a nickname. While Festivus and Ollie had a perfunctory conversation with the Headmaster, Nell briefly pondered wizarding genealogy.

It was long rumored that Godric Gryffindor had an illegitimate child with Galath Ollivander hundreds of years earlier. That child continued the Wizarding tradition of the time: “One family, one child,” and for centuries perpetuated the Ollivander name and bloodline by having male child after male child after male child. That is, until Genevieve.

The Ollivander bloodline had to be preserved, for obvious reasons. But so too did the Ollivander name; it was good for business, after all. As it so happened, their distant cousin had given birth to a baby boy: Garrett Goyle. Sadly, the mother had died in childbirth, and the father had abandoned her months before that. So it was that Garrett Goyle became Garrett Ollivander. He eventually married Brunhilda Nott. and the Ollivander name endured. And Genevieve Ollivander married Septimus Weasley, and the Ollivander bloodline endured.

False-brother and false-sister had their respective children on the same day: Festivus Weasley and Grumblechook Ollivander, and the two have been virtually inseparable ever since. By blood, they were not even cousins. But despite this, people called them “the twins”. They did everything together. They were so close that they often finished each other’s–


Nell’s concentration broke, and she looked up. Festivus had scooped up a particularly disgusting looking plate of sandwiches and offered one to Nell and her companion. She grinned. “No, thank you. Really. Did the house elves make that sandwich? Or did you make it out of house elves?”

“Who can tell, anyway, with last year’s crop? Well, I’m off to go stuff my face. Enjoy!” And with that, Festivus departed. As he walked away, he turned back over his shoulder and called back to her, “Oh by the way, steer clear of the pumpkin juice!”

Helena was still blushing. “You know, I don’t… I don’t think you’re pretty. I mean. No. I don’t mean you’re not pretty. I mean. Oh. I, uh…” She blushed even harder, and looked down at the table, stammering.

“Helena. Helena. It’s okay. Really.” Nell put her hand on Helena’s. “Really.”

Her hand stayed there. For a brief moment, she looked directly into Helena’s eyes, and smiled the smallest of special smiles.

Perenelle du Marais’ parents were healers. Making people feel better was in her blood, and it came to her naturally. “This world is a broken place,” her father reminded her, constantly. “It is our role to fix it.” Every day, she reminded herself of her goal, and strived to wear the mantle her father had passed down to her.

Because they were healers, the accident was all the more tragic. Perenelle had a sister, once. A sister who, like her, was so full of light, and wanted nothing more than to be just like her father, and fix the world. A sister upon whom she doted, and who adored her. Wizards are preternaturally resilient, but even mundane things can take their lives, if help is far enough away, or the condition is serious enough.

Sadly, modern techniques such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation were unknown to wizards in the 15th century. Lungs filled with water were notoriously difficult to treat. Her parents tried desperately to coax the liquid from her, but to no avail. In her desperation, Perenelle transfigured the water into a different Substance. She knew that if the transfiguration broke, it would be instantly fatal. Perenelle had barely finished her first year, and struggled mightily to maintain her Magic. Her parents knew better than to hold out false hope, even though she screamed at them in rage, imploring them to help her, even as her Will faltered. As she held her sister in her arms, she poured everything she had into it, and more.

It was not enough.

Her parents passed in her fifth year, victims of Dragon Pox. She would later learn that a cure had existed for centuries. The world was saturated with stupid, senseless deaths. The world was broken, and she intended to fix it. Even if she had to break it first. Over the years she had heard whispers, old tales of artifacts and Gods from a bygone era, stories of lore beyond reckoning. In the summer of her fifth year, she left her native Alderney and travelled the old world. She visited the marble edifices of Alto Alentejo. She saw the tombs of Egypt. She spoke with the wraiths of Białowieża. She was still young, so young, and thus collected no more than whispers, murmurs. But there was one murmur that rose louder than the others.

The mass of students in the Great Hall murmured. Another Dark Lady to teach Battle Magic? But Morganna was one of the best professors that Hogwarts had seen in generations!

Headmaster Gagwilde stood at the podium at the forefront of the Great Hall, delivering his beginning-of-the-year address with the affected, eccentric pompousness the students had grown to know and love. “Yes, it is true. Our beloved Professor LeFay has departed Hogwarts, leaving us with a vacancy. Fortunately, Professor Ollerton was doing a bit of adventuring in Poland over the summer, and convinced a new Dark Lady to share her lore with us. Witches and gentlewizards, allow me to introduce you to our newest Battle Magic professor, Miss Baba Yaga!”

Any student who had been drinking pumpkin juice immediately spewed it from their mouths in a fantastic synchronized spit-take, prompting waves of laughter to ripple through the Great Hall. Baba Yaga? Headmaster Gagwilde was famous for his jokes. This had to be one of them.

Festivus Weasley and Grumblechook Ollivander, for their part, were particularly proud of their ingenuity. Comed-Tea in the pumpkin juice? Classic! Helena Ravenclaw, who had been smiling almost uncontrollably to herself prior to this, looked over at Perenelle. Normally, she too would be grinning, despite herself, at another one of Festivus’ stupid pranks. But instead, she had the Look. That look that Helena had come to recognize from their years together at Hogwarts. Long years, spent watching. It was the same look Nell had when you asked her about her parents. Or her sister. Her Dark look.

“Nell? Are you…” Helena considered putting a hand on her shoulder, but thought better of it. Nell blinked a few times, and the smile returned to her face.

“I’m fine.”