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    General Lore ()
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    Will Wight

    Makiel, the Hound

    The story of each universe is written in Fate.Fate governs the natural lifespan of each Iteration. It isn't a detailed plan that determines every action of each person, but rather a force like gravity that pushes a world toward a healthy life ending in that Iteration's natural death.‚Äč Since humans tie the universe to the Way, people figure prominently in Fate. One individual life is unlikely to affect the destiny of an entire Iteration, but their actions might be a necessary step toward a world's continued existence. Or its end.Makiel and the Hound Division of the Abidan supervise Fate. They tap into the Way to read the past and the future, and to deal with any deviations that may jeopardize one or more worlds.Makiel is something of a leader among the seven Judges, though the Eledari Pact technically gives him no authority over his peers. This is a tradition continued from the original Makiel, who first realized the need for such a pact and organized its creation.He is rigid and inflexible, utterly dedicated to the enforcement of the rules that protect existence. This mindset has led him to clash with Ozriel, who tends to value his own will over externally imposed guidelines. He has tried many times to recover the Scythe and Mantle of Ozriel in order to pass the title to a different, more worthy bearer, but the Reaper has eluded or defeated him at every turn.

    General Lore ()
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    Will Wight

    The Eledari Pact: An ancient agreement between the original Court of Seven that both increases and restricts the powers of the Abidan.Agreements and restrictions are inherently ordered, so this pact is the tool that allows the Abidan to control the power of the Way as they do. There are many rules in the Eledari Pact, but the most relevant one is this: the Abidan cannot use their powers to prevent the natural progression of an Iteration.They cannot stop a global war from claiming billions of lives and destroying a planet, unless that war was started by outside forces or by a significant subversion of Fate. Abidan only descend to correct a deviation, though they're granted a certain freedom of action in doing so. This law exists both to preserve the natural balance of existence and to prevent the Abidan from settling down in lesser worlds and ruling like gods.* (The Abidan definition of "human" is pretty loose, but never too far removed from the humanity we know. When a new Iteration forms that may be able to support life, the Abidan select a new population of human pioneers and send them to inhabit a suitable planet.)

    Cradle ()
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    Questioner

    Are there other colors of dragon madra beyond "black"flame?

    Will Wight

    The dragons who inhabited the lands of the Blackflame empire were (and are) black, the color of the destructive aura that they cycled. There are sea dragons that are blue, sky dragons with a variety of colors, and earthbound land dragons that might be green or brown.But you asked about the color of their flame, not the color of their scales. Yes, there are dragons with toxic green flame, frigid icy "flame" that consumes even as it freezes, good old natural flame, and red living flames that drift around like Remnants burning as much as possible to extend their fleeting lives.

    Cradle ()
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    Questioner

    Is there a ranking system by the Abidan to measure the world level of advancement? Could u give us the rating for your currently displayed worlds if yes?

    Will Wight

    Yes, the Abidan do have such a system, and sufficiently advanced worlds are allowed to interact with the Abidan openly. Though most Iterations never make it to this point.I can't share it with you, though, because I haven't perfected it yet. I have an early version of the system, but I don't like it much, and it's likely to change before it makes an appearance in the books.

    Cradle ()
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    Questioner

    Would it absorb madra launched at it? A forged pane of pure madra would be very cool for Lindon to learn how to do if it could be used as a defense.

    Will Wight

    Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. Technically it would intercept any madra thrown at it, but most of the time it would just shatter. Sometimes it would actually make the technique MORE powerful for having passed through and absorbed the pure madra.There could be ways to fashion it into a defense, but they're almost all hugely impractical. It would be much easier to just have a regular wall and carve a script into it.

    Cradle ()
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    Questioner

    Pure Madra as a building material in the emperor's palace?

    Will Wight

    Pure madra is an unreliable building material. It breaks easily, and it's so impressionable that placing it next to any other Forged madra will cause the two types to mix, changing both of their properties. However, it is used decoratively. Sometimes it is used to substitute for stained glass; you Forge a pane of pure madra and then stain it in spots with madra of different colors and properties. The other madra spreads like paint through the glass, creating a moving, swirling, blending canvas of living power. You just have to be careful about how long you let it sit and how much power you put into it, or it might randomly create a powerful effect.

    Cradle ()
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    Questioner

    How are shooting stars explained in Cradle?

    Will Wight

    One culture explains them this way:The night sky is our glimpse into the heavens. When we see a shooting star, we're seeing a heavenly messenger descending to someone in the world.

    Cradle ()
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    Questioner

    How did the other empires of Cradle consider the Blackflames when they were at their strongest? And how would they react to a new Blackflame?

    Will Wight

    "How would they react to a new Blackflame?" is a bit too much of a spoiler, but...When the Blackflame Empire was at its height, it controlled the whole (massive) continent. That was when it was ruled by dragons.When the Blackflame family was at the height of their power, their empire controlled about half the continent. As for the other half...well, the dragons and their descendants had to go somewhere.Now that the Blackflame lineage has fallen, the Empire is even smaller. About a third of the continent. The dragons outside are powerful enough to wipe out the human empire, except that the humans of the Blackflame Empire have a backer.To the other great nations around the world, including the Ninecloud Court, the original Blackflame Empire was a real power. Now, it's just one territory sheltered under the wing of a true powerhouse.

    Cradle ()
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    Questioner

    Are there any paths that follow the same line of rules like common monsters in our world? Werewolves, vampires, that kind of thing.

    Will Wight

    There are some blood Paths that involve advancing by drinking blood, or elixirs made from blood, yes.And there are a few different types of what you might call werewolves. Some sacred wolves are somewhat humanoid, and there are other Paths that transform into bestial forms in order to fight.

    Cradle ()
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    Questioner

    Are there any instances of sacred artists "selling themselves " into slavery at a coliseum to gain patrons and have a legal way to cultivate blood madra?

    Will Wight

    Most culturally acceptable blood Paths are medical, so it's not difficult to find sources of blood aura. Also, every living being generates some blood aura, so you can cycle a little wherever you are.

    Cradle ()
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    Questioner

    Cradle: Are there paths that grant tremendous power swiftly at the cost of later advancement?

    Will Wight

    The most common Paths for those who want to gain quick power at any cost are blood/sword Paths. It's a common pairing, because a battlefield typically has both strong sword aura and strong blood aura.The aura is powerful, as well as easy to create and cycle: you just have to keep killing people. The stronger the physical body, the greater the power of the blood aura. Virtually everyone who walks a Path of slaughter and bloodshed reaches Truegold quickly.The problem comes after that.First of all, you've killed a lot of people, so you've made enemies. They won't let you get away with enjoying the spoils of your evil Path.Second, even if you manage to slip away, there's no hiding that the power of your soul is drenched in blood. There are blood arts focused on healing, and others focused on strengthening the body, but it's easy to sense the difference between those and powers gained through murder. Peaceful civilizations won't accept you, and there are even laws in many places banning "evil arts," "slaughter arts," "demonic arts," etc.Therefore, because interaction with other people is difficult, it becomes harder to obtain the backing you need for the resources to cross into Underlord and above. As every further stage requires more and more resources, eventually you'll find yourself stranded and surrounded by enemies. That, or killed in combat.But it's not as though no one has ever succeeded in advancing along this Path...

    Cradle ()
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    Questioner

    What's the most advanced piece of technology native to Cradle?

    Will Wight

    There are cloudships far more advanced than the one the Arelius family use, and they have powerful onboard weaponry as well as long-range communications and detection.However, it's difficult to develop technology that works reliably everywhere in Cradle. Gunpowder might explode with too much force in an area where fire aura is strong, or destruction aura might cause an engine to burn too much fuel. There are patches of aura that block certain detection methods, and beings whose very existence can cloud a sacred artist's spiritual senses.

    Cradle ()
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    Questioner

    If the most pleasant iron body is asked, then what's with the most painful, except for Lindon's(if his IS even the most painful one)

    Will Wight

    It's hard to quantify the MOST painful Iron Body; is burning alive more painful than being torn apart piece by piece?Because those are both actual ways of developing an Iron body.There are some Iron bodies similar to Lindon's that involve being stabbed and cut over and over while you're being healed. There are others that involve adapting your body to fire, which basically means burning yourself one part at a time.

    Cradle ()
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    Questioner

    Screw Lindons wolverine body. The Drifting Iron body is the one for me. I imagine its for people whom want to fly ,glide, float or be a parkour ninja.

    Will Wight

    There's a similar Iron body for a Path that has rigid metallic wings as their Goldsign. They're not a wind Path, so it's difficult for them to fly, but if their bodies are light enough they can glide.This particular Iron body is from a sect of body-enhancing life artists that you might call ninjas.

    General Lore ()
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    Will Wight

    The Way: The source of order, the Way is a force that spans all of existence. Its presence protects against the destructive and corruptive influence of chaos, and its nature sustains reality.An Iteration dying is part of the Way. Death is meant to be the end; this is part of the cosmic order. Only when an Iteration lives too long does it becomes a danger.When a world's population drops so low that it weakens the influence of the Way, but not so low that the Iteration breaks into fragments, that is when corruption sets in. Chaos seeps into the world, infecting it, subverting the laws that govern reality.At this point, the Abidan can destroy the remaining population, thus removing the Iteration's last hold on existence. But now the world will break into fragments, and those fragments are tinged with chaos. They might crash into other Iterations, infecting them, or combine to create worlds that are corrupted from the very beginning.There is only one being capable of erasing a universe from existence entirely, without breaking it down into fragments.And he's missing.

    General Lore ()
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    Will Wight

    Iteration: Any universe that the Abidan recognize as capable of sustaining human existence and living out a complete life-cycle.Every Iteration has a destined progression. A world is born, it lives out its existence, and then it quietly dies, breaking into fragments. These fragments float through the void, crashing and combining randomly until they form into a new universe.They are called "Iterations" because the thousands of universes currently in existence are thought to be different versions of the same original world or worlds, spun out in different combinations again and again for eternity. Even the Abidan Judges do not know when this cycle began.On its own, an Iteration should exist for billions of years, except for a certain underlying requirement: each Iteration is anchored to the Way by sentient consciousness. As long as humans* are around, the world is tethered to the natural law and order of the Way. The fewer humans there are, the looser that connection becomes.When humanity dies, the world dissolves.

    Asylum ()
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    Questioner

    Do people with great Intent leave bodies that can be Awaken?

    Will Wight

    Objects gather Intent when they are used by a human for a purpose. You would have to use a body for a particular purpose in order to invest it, which is required for Awakening. Body PARTS are often Awakened.

    Asylum ()
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    Questioner

    In Asylum could the emperor have "Awakened" himself if he wanted to?

    Will Wight

    Commonly accepted Reader theory in the Aurelian Empire states that human beings are already Awakened. That's what makes us sentient and aware, and why Intent doesn't seem to build up in our body as we age.

    Asylum ()
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    Questioner

    Are there any awakened, sentient, wepaons or items in the Elder Empire?

    Will Wight

    By definition i think awakened items possess thoughts even if they are just simple thing like "KILL!" Or "FEED ME!".Are the Awakened weapons sentient?That's a hotly debated question in the Empire. Many Soulbound feel that their Vessels "speak" to them, but always in impressions or mentally communicated desires. Some of them swear they hear an actual voice in their head, but is that really the weapon? Or is it their imagination providing words for the impressions the weapon sends them?The common belief is that Awakened objects do have a measure of awareness, but not true sapience. They can't "think" or reason beyond the capacity and purpose for which they were created....as far as anyone knows.

    Amalgam ()
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    Jayce

    Are there religious sects in Travelers Gate?

    Will Wight

    I have a meta answer and a story answer for you, Jayce!

    (Story)

    Yes, there are, though perhaps because of the influence of Territory culture, organized religion never grew as widespread as you might expect. There's a sect that worships the Incarnations, a people who believe that Territories are holy ground and they can only take from naturally occurring Gates, and isolated groups who worship powerful artifacts that fell from Territories.Enosh still swears by the "saints above," which reflects what they believe happens to people when they die: they are purified and become saints, to watch over the people below.

    (Meta)

    I find that including religion in stories is more trouble than it's worth.House of Blades was almost banned from a school, I once found out, because the administration believed it was promoting religion. I have no idea what that was about.There's also a subset of people who lose their minds whenever you write a fantasy novel with religion in it. If you write a story with a pantheon in it, you're promoting polytheism. If you write a story where there's one creator god, you're promoting monotheism. If I wrote a story where the characters sincerely believed in their religion and it was a positive force in their life, I guarantee you I'd get complaints from atheists about my promoting religion.I've already gotten such complaints, and that's WITHOUT religion in my books. I can't tell you how many people tripped up over my use of the word "soul" in Cradle.So since I can't create a fictional belief system without people taking it as a statement of my actual beliefs, I find it's easier to just skirt religion entirely.