Professor Arthorius, Continued:
Souls remain a mystery. While we can now demonstrate their existence, detect and influence them, and even bind them for a time or transfer them from body to body, we still cannot say what they are or where they come from. We do know that they appear to be indestructible, that they store memories – although the physical brain seems to act as an indexing, filing, and access system, at least for embodied souls – and that they allow access to the energies of the Manifold. Most obviously, they are unique and indivisible – resulting in the Spiritual Exclusion Principle. It is apparently impossible for an individual sentient being to be duplicated, to be cloned and have recorded memories implanted, to truly be in more than one place at a time, or – presumably – to time travel within his or her own lifespan if time travel is possible at all.
That same rule is why “Resurrection” effects are so difficult as to be pretty much impossible. When someone dies, their soul normally takes up residence elsewhere in the Manifold: if you want to resurrect them with magic, your spell has to locate them – wherever they are in infinity – kill them there, latch on to their soul, drag it back, and bind it into a new body. Of course, if you set up some way to hang onto a soul and keep it from going elsewhere in the first place, putting it into a new body is – relatively – easy. Second easiest is to simply locate and/or contact them.
Souls continue in the manifold after death, whether that death occurs in the core or in the manifold. However, they normally continue in a realm to which they are linked. Authors, role-players, and dreamers may find themselves in one of the worlds of their creation, often in one of the roles they dreamed of. Many find themselves in one or another “afterlife”; such worlds are often difficult to escape even if someone wishes to do so – and few wish to escape a paradise until millenia have passed. Youngsters usually find either adventures or security, depending on which they felt deprived of in life, until they grow to adulthood – generally a slow process in the manifold. Those who tend to “live in the past”, such as many elders, may find themselves slipping gently into the idealized realm of their youth that they’ve created for themselves. Those who die without a firm sense of self (whether due to mental troubles, or simply due to death in infancy or the womb) – or who have grown bored – often slip into entirely fictional lives or a series thereof, their souls finding new masks. It may or may not be possible for a soul to “reincarnate” in this fashion in the core: the evidence so far is fairly subjective. You can’t truly kill someone. You can make them forget their past and grow up as a new person, which is generally good enough.
All souls have at least trivial access to the energies of the Manifold – enough to provide the catalyst for low-level psychic abilities if they choose to develop them, but little more. Others have more power, commonly known as “Mana”. They can twist the universe enough to use balance points between the quantum realms – and even between the Core and the Manifold – as gateways. The process can even be mechanically assisted. Sadly, such gates tend to slowly fade away without regular reinforcement.
A very few have enough power to reach out into the Manifold and create balance points, to create pocket realms unaided, or can use Mana to modify reality in other ways (Sadly, both Unskilled Magic and Reality Editing – if used for something besides creating or opening/transversing existing gateways – also require the expenditure of magic points). Unfortunately, while Mana can be shared, and transferred both into and out of core, very few people have much of it – and apparently no one can recover it quickly once its expended.
Still, human beings are not gods. Vaguely defined worlds tend to give rise to composite realms, rather than to a thousand fragmented visions. The strongest and most vital realms are woven of a myriad dreams and visions – and most are primarily populated by figments or “extras” – soulless constructs, animated by brief fancies, passing thoughts, inchoate dreams, and vague assumptions. While they may occasionally provide lodging for a stray or passing soul, they do not change or create beyond what their roles demand. They cannot defy the laws of nature or possess Mana.
That’s not to say that they cannot suffer pain or that they are necessarily there to be thoughtlessly exploited: they are, after all, linked to the souls of those who dream them into being – but when you curse someone, briefly fantasize about blowing up a city, or play a video game, you need not worry about creating whole worlds full of agonized victims. Most of the great expanses will be vague backgrounds and the figments will reprise their roles as they have a thousand times before. Their world is but a stage, and they but players on it. There are hell-worlds, and literal hells, out there – but they cannot hold a soul forever.
Souls do seem to be bound by a sort of Karma: the wills of others have an impact on them, and they tend to be drawn to worlds with the themes they have worked and striven for, whether knowingly or not. If the themes they have pursued have been torture and genocide, then they will find themselves in worlds where such things are a major feature – and in the roles they have thought about, striven for, and focused their attention on.
And most people think far more about their victims than about their own position.
Regardless of their nature and abilities, souls apparently require some link to the Core to come into being. This may, however, be indirect. A parent from the core can provide the link – but will be less fertile than parents who are actually in the core. Successive generations are increasingly infertile unless the link with the core is renewed, although a brief period of residence there suffices.