An Analysis of Nothing
The latest world of Karamelle – or as I like to think of it, evil Candyland – was exciting in a lot of ways. And while the graphics were beautiful, the battles engaging, and the quests fun, what really stood out to me was the foundation of cosmic mysteries laid down with the start of the Fourth Arc, specifically theÂ mysteries surrounding the Old One, the Cavities, and Nothing.
We first encounter the notion of Nothing when we talk to Sybil, the Tree of Knowledge in the Arcanum. She tells us that we have Nothing to fear. Now, notice how I keep capitalizing “Nothing.” That’s because Sybil refers to it as a noun, an unknown entity unto itself.
But the hints didn’t stop there. During the Four Horseguys side quest in Wizard City’s sewers, we overhear doomsday fanatic Salty Prepper say this:
Flash-forward to our trek through Karamelle. During our romp around the sugar-encrusted world, we encounter multiple holes in space-time (aka “Cavities“), mysterious pockets of darkness that let out a roar only we can hear. We first encounter them when a Cavity swallows up the Old One, the mythical leader of the Cabal. Then, when we jump through a Cavity ourselves in the world’s final act, we discover their origin: The Aberrant Paradox, a mysterious being that mirrors our Divine Paradox form. The greatest mystery comes at the end, when Bartleby says that the only thing he sees is… Nothing.
All that being said, a brand-new questline has expanded upon this mystery, providing answers while simultaneously producing dozens more questions. Let’s dive into what new information we’ve learned, then form some possible theories as to what Nothing is – as well as what their relationship with the Old One is shaping out to be.
Nothing and the Old One
To kick things off, we receive a call from the Old One to find him at the Arcanum.
He seems… off. His words are choppy at times, slurred and inconsistent at others – a far cry from the elegant, eloquent gentleman we first met at Baron von Trapp’s estate. Upon meeting up with him, he urges us to speak to Sybil about a place called “Lemuria,” but we are quickly disappointed when the Life Scholar Zander dismisses the notion of such a place as mere myth (though interestingly enough, he cites it as an explanation for the existence of primates in both Zafaria and Monquista!).
Desperately, the Old One feels called to Mirage, and he embarks there seeking proof of this mysterious world. As we follow him around, he seems almost frantic to find out more about Lemuria. In our investigation, we talk with multiple vendors across Mirage, none of whom appear to know what Lemuria even is. Eventually, we track down an ancient depiction of Lemuria’s titular inhabitants – Lemurs – finding it in the possession ofÂ a group of scaly, serpentine thieves.
Now here’s where things get weird: No one, except for us, can see the Old One. In fact, when we mention it, Mrs. Viper (a boss we battle towards the end of the quest) tells us that Nothing is there:
The dialogue only gets weirder. The Old One starts referring to himself as Nothing. He tells us that in the beginning there was only them, existing as a singularity, a tiny dot where there was no space, no time. In this dot was the entire universe. (For those of you that know about astronomy, this sounds to me a lot like the singularity before the Big Bang.)
Nothing talks about themself as if they were that dot. They mention that Light and Dark – a ParadoxÂ –
breached them; showed them things, shapes, ideas, matter. They state that in seeing what they weren’t, they recognized themself for what they were… the Void. The emptiness between the stars. Nothing.
Nothing and the Divine Paradox
At the end of Khrysalis, we are named the Child of Shadow and Light. Later, once we defeat the Aethyr Titan, we become the Divine Paradox, the embodiment of that very harmony between Shadow and Light present in the universe’s conception… the very same harmony, as we learn, that breached Nothing all those ages ago.
Now that Nothing is aware of us, the Old One explains, they began to poke around, creating holes in space-time (the Cavities) to try and find us. Searching for the Paradox, that very Paradox that started the universe. We, as the Paradox, are the only ones who can fully grasp these intrusions; we hear the roar of the Cavities, we see and hear the Old One’s return. Nothing, however, cannot fully comprehend material existence; thus, they mirror us, creating the Aberrant Paradox: an embodiment of the Void.
Does this mean that the Old One is Nothing?
Short answer: No, I don’t think so. Rather, I think Nothing absorbed the Old One in an attempt to understand us. They said that after the battle, the Old One was left; so, they sifted, and they became. It’s my theory that the Old One has been consumed by Nothing, and that Nothing appears as the Old One before us because it’s the only matter they seem to understand.
Cthulhu, the Great Old Ones, and Antimatter
In writing this article, I engaged in a lengthy and in-depth discussion with fellow staff member and lore aficionado James Earthwalker, from which we drew several conclusions:
- Like Krulhu before him, the Old One is a direct reference to H.P. Lovecraft’s iconic extraplanar titan, Cthulhu.
- The Old One’s name refers to H.P. Lovecraft’s greater pantheon of aberrant deities, the Great Old Ones.
- The Old One’s dialogue strongly implicates Nothing as a being of antimatter.
Let’s break that all down, shall we?
Cthulhu and the Great Old Ones
Within the pages of H.P. Lovecraft’s works reside a collective of unfathomable godlike creatures, cosmic horrors that exist beyond – and apart from – space and time as we know it: the Great Old Ones. And among these ancient, bizarre entities, none are quite as iconic as the octopus-headed, dragon-winged behemoth of dreams and darkness: Cthulhu, from its titular short story “The Call of Cthulhu.”
For James Earthwalker and myself, it was glitteringly apparent that the Old One looks like a dapper Cthulhu, while his name is a clear reference to the greater pantheon from which he heralds. But the similarities don’t stop there – like the Great Old Ones themselves, the Old One seemingly now resides in a space beyond reality itself: Nothing.
Am I saying that the Old One is Cthulhu? No, of course not. But I applaud Kingsisle for alluding to such an interesting and bizarre mythos regardless!
Nothing and Antimatter
One thing that stood out to both James and I was how the Old One – and by extension, Nothing – constantly references how the universe is “rejecting him.” As a void, Nothing would have no corporeal form; in order to find us, they had to form a physical avatar in the shape of the Old One. To us, this meant one thing: The avatar Nothing is using to communicate with us – and most likely Nothing themself – is comprised of antimatter.
In the simplest terms, antimatter is the opposite of normal matter. Matter in the universe is comprised of atoms, which are themselves comprised of protons, neutrons, and electrons; inversely, antimatter is comprised of atoms that are formed using antiprotons, antineutrons, and positrons. Antimatter in our universe is extremely rare, and stable forms of it do not seem to exist; the reasoning behind this is when antimatter comes into contact with its opposite, both matter and antimatter cancel each other out in a burst of energy. This behavior perfectly coincides with that of Nothing and the condition of their avatar, the Old One; they struggle to maintain form in our universe because their very essence conflicts with reality itself.
We are finally beginning to get an idea of who and/or what Nothing is. They are the emptiness of space, the absence of all matter between the stars. The void itself. Once more, we find ourselves catching the eye of the Spiral’s primordial entities: First Grandmother Raven, our narrator; then Grandfather Spider, our contrarian; now… this.
As much as we have learned, we are only left with more questions. What happened to the Old One? Is the Old One truly Nothing, or is he gone, assimilated into the unfathomable entity? What and where is Lemuria? Does it even exist? Why is Nothing so determined to find it? And perhaps most importantly… will we like the answer when we find out?
Who (or what) do you think Nothing is?
Let us know in the comments!