originally posted at https://canmom.tumblr.com/post/742270...

Someone else died so it’s time I write another one of these, eh?

Welcome back to my liveblog of The Flower That Bloomed Nowhere, a serial web novel by @lurinatftbn. Here I’ll be covering the Profane Ambition and The Chosen Children arcs.

So, Flower.

No, not that flower…

A lot of crazy shit goes down in these chapters! We learn a good deal more about Su, including an impressively believable suicide attempt! Some of that juicy Umineko-style metafictional shit starts sneaking in, even coloured text. Scifi 9/11 happens. Fang is there! And also, on a rather more cosmic level… it turns out entropy-the physical principle-is conscious. That’s a whole thing.

Then Neferatuen dies.

So, let’s take it from the top, stuff that jumped out at me in these sections.


  1. Su flashbacks (cw lots of discussion of suicide!)
  2. Zeno
  3. Balthazar again
  4. ‘So much for your country, I guess’
  5. Ezekiel
  6. Hamilcar
  7. the cute bit with the books
  8. Fang
  9. The witch’s ultimatum
  10. And then things get crazy
  11. Neferuaten dies
  12. The Playwright and the Director and final mysteries
  13. In conclusion

Su flashbacks (cw lots of discussion of suicide!)

If it wasn’t already evident, it seems clear by now that Su - the present Su - thinks of herself as having bodyjacked a person, and her goal across this whole affair is to set that right by visiting Samium the egomancer. To the point that she’s willing to put just about everyone else in danger for the sake of that mission.

In various flashbacks, we start to get more of a picture here of how Su came to this suicide mission. In chapter 34, we see her growing close to an unnamed friend before she became an arcanist - a friend who found her on the beach during a bullying incident in a previous flashback and gave her a much needed dose of support and trust. It could be Ran, since she seems to fit into Su’s life in a similar way? But the narration fairly conspicuously avoids naming this friend, and this friend does not aspire to become an arcanist.

In a later flashback in chapter 45, we see Su - post-arcanist - attempting suicide. Despite the extreme situation, she can’t help being Su, going on fairly long digressions about architectural history to explain why she goes about the specific method she does. I found some passages of this, like where Su discusses how she imagines the aftermath of her suicide affecting people and how that affects her choice of method, quite relatable for the time when I was pretty deep in the suicidal ideation hole.

Maybe I should talk a bit about that actually. When I was at university - quite a lot deeper in the rationalist ideology, incidentally - I thought about suicide a lot (I never got so far as actually attempting, thanks in part to the kindness of friends who reached out to me and gave me a different context to exist in).

It’s hard to say exactly why I was so convinced I should die, looking back. A lot of it was a sense of guilt, corruption, not deserving to exist? I was failing at uni due to undiagnosed adhd and had my mind full of very demanding social justice principles.

Anyway, I was still dimly aware that there were people like my parents who cared about me and would probably be sad if I died. And I also didn’t want to inflict the traumatic event of finding a dead body on someone. So, I somehow convinced myself that it would be best if I were to just disappear. The method I dreamed up to achieve this would be to buy passage on a ferry to France overnight, and then jump off somewhere in the Channel. By the time anyone noticed, I’d likely already be dead. Though I still worried about the possibility that my corpse would wash ashore.

This is obviously completely and utterly bonkers in retrospect. Like, I really thought people would be less upset if they didn’t have a body to say goodbye to? But uh, suicidal people aren’t exactly in the most rational state of mind.

Suffice to say that when Su talks about the condition her body would be found in as a concern, even while disparaging it as a pointless concern for a suicide, it’s kind of relatable lol.

I also appreciate the sheer awkwardness with which the actual attempt is depicted. Suicide is inherently kind of absurd as an operation. The scene ends a little comically - Su comes to the conclusion that she’s selfish to want to die, falls off the branch by accident anyway, and then the branch breaks and she lives.

Ran is the one who meets her after the attempt. By this point she’s clearly come to care about the current iteration of Su. But in Chapter 46 we learn that Ran is the one who reacted with a great deal of hostility when Su came clean about the whole situation to her, and did a lot to motivate Su’s whole quest for self-annihilation.

“I still remember how you acted when we first met,” I said, my face cracking into a strange, uneven smile, as I looked away and towards the ground. “When you called me a ‘disgusting, perverse piece of filth.’ I’d never seen anyone be so mad at me… And the next day, and gave me all those rules I needed to follow…”
She didn’t say anything.
“I was really, really happy, you know? It was such a relief.” My body felt like it was becoming very still. “That someone had finally noticed something was wrong. That someone knew how to fix it.”

And now, we most explicitly see her getting cold feet…

“If it is what you want to do–”
Yes,” I spoke, without even a moment of hesitation.
“…then I’m happy,” she said, after a moment. “If you really mean that, and it doesn’t hurt you, then it’s good.”
It’s difficult to completely express how much that was the opposite of what I wanted to hear. The words were like acid poured down my throat. My gut ached with furious revulsion, like it’d been punched by a grown man.
“That’s disgusting,” I said.
“Sorry,” she said. The word came out stiff, but there was no guilt in it. No shame. shame, it was more like a meeting point between exhaustion and relief.
It made it even worse.

And from Ran’s point of view… she’s spent years with current!Su. Far longer than original!Su. It really seems like she hasn’t properly confronted her feelings about this quest.

That said, there’s something kinda off about this, isn’t there? If we think of them as separate identities, it’s not like current!Su asked to be implanted in original!Su’s body - and even if current!Ran has been able to better assimilate to her body’s memories, she’d be guilty of the exact same crime as Su, just a bit luckier. If anyone could be ‘blamed’, it would be the doctor. Su’s situation would be tragic, but calling her a ‘perverse piece of filth’?

Also in this arc we get a flashback of a different sort, in an epistolary format. This comes with a visit from the Playwright and Director to assure us that we can reasonably assume this is a genuine and correctly attributed letter, but we can’t necessarily trust that the character writing it will tell the truth. In this case, the doctor who oversaw Su’s ascension writes to a friend about Su’s failure to assimilate, noting that some third party clearly interfered with the ceremony, and covered their tracks pretty well. (Of course he could just be covering his ass, if he was involved).

The only outstanding hypothesis at this point is that Su’s grandfather tried to implant his own identity onto Su, but it didn’t ‘take’ properly. This would explain some other things in this section - we’ll come to that later. However, it also seems… unsatisfying, in that the way Su talks about her grandfather really doesn’t come across like she’s got access to his memories or anything like that.

There’s other Weird Shit going on with Su, anyway. Towards the end of this section, Su sees something like a beaked human, hanging out in the ocean, and immediately passes out, skipping a significant chunk of time. Although there’s signs that at least one other person has seen this entity, I have no goddamn clue what is going on with that.


We get introduced to another couple members of the Order! These two have got the spicier transhuman stuff going on with them.

The first is Zeno, who - it turns out! - has discovered a means to puppetteer multiple bodies, though they retain one ‘main’ body, it’s not a shared consciousness type situation. When we meet them, they’re using a girl’s body - Su has some gender hangups lol, and refers to Zeno with ‘she’ or ‘he’ pronouns depending on embodiment. I’m gonna go with ‘they’. Zeno is brusque and overwhelmingly condescending, and seems to be convinced Su is somehow playing the fool by acting like a student who doesn’t know what the hell is going on. This is fairly strong support for the idea that Zeno believes Su ‘should be’ her grandfather in a new body. If not that, then definitely she should know more than she does.

Anyway, Zeno says a bunch of grandiose shit about how they’re about to create the Great Work or something.

“Utsushikome of Fusai,” she said, her tone suddenly very soft. “Immortality is the least of it. There is a power which sleeps here that will remake the world. That will fold mankind as iron in a furnace, and usher in an age of glory. That will grant our species unfathomable and beautiful dignity, and liberate us from this decomposing corpse of a brane.”

Exactly how this will be accomplished they do not condescend to say, because apparently all will be revealed shortly. But, out of a sense of loyalty, they give Su her grandfather’s macguffin key to open… something, that will give her the right to benefit from whatever it is they’re doing.

I appreciate that Su does her best to try and get some answers from someone determined to spout mysterious bullshit. Zeno is, nevertheless, not forthcoming. Su hates this - both being given shit to do with her granddad, and also Zeno’s whole fufufu I’m an evil wizard doing schemes shtick.

So that’s one element…

Balthazar again

Before meeting Zeno, Su runs into Balthazar again. For reasons that are inexplicable to her, she feels driven to treat him with hostility and suspicion. She drills him on the exact circumstances of what happened after the prosognostic event, where she thought he’d said ‘I kept my promise’. After she pushes too far, Balthazar says…

“Dying Gods, you really are an unfair person, aren’t you?” He said, ignoring my question and narrowing his eyes. “ Right to the bitter end.” My frown turned to confusion. “'Unfair person?’” Bitter end? “I don’t like to think of myself as the resentful type,” he said, now not seeming to be looking at me at all, “but I have to admit, I can’t help but feel a little cheated. To struggle for such a long time, just to be saddled with a role like this, and left to– Well, to be given to choice to either suck it up, or make the situation even worse. And to not even be allowed a few moments of catharsis as a consolation prize… It’s cruel. There’s no other word for it.”

Then he calls Su ‘Shiko’, an abbreviation of her name which provokes a severely negative physical reaction in her - she almost vomits. At this point we probably think of the fact that the blacked-out name of Su’s grandfather is also five letters.

Balthazar claims not to know something but be operating from context clues. What that implies, not clear. He clearly knows more about the situation than he’s letting on. … OK, unfortunately I think I glimpsed a spoiler suggesting he’s aware of the time loop, so I can’t claim to have organically guessed that idea, but it would make sense. In that case, maybe his ‘promise’ was to put himself at risk by causing the prosognostic event, allowing the ‘control’ scenario to play out correctly?

Still, even if he’s aware of the loop, it leaves all kinds of questions about what his deal is. Like why this guy and nobody else?

‘So much for your country, I guess’

In chapter 38, Su is helping her classmate Seth carry out a bribe to get Sacnicte not to dob him in for fighting, supposedly. This serves as a chance to introduce us to the existence of the fortified security centre, which has surveillance feeds on most of the facility.

Let’s talk a little bit about computers!

We also learn that, in the absence of regular electromagnetism, computers ‘logic engines’ communicate with each other in this world through a ‘logic bridge’ which involves yet more Tower of Asphodel iron wonkiness. We have ‘false iron’ and ‘true iron’; false iron can be converted into true iron by the connection to the Tower, which can be initiated by the proximity to a human. True iron can talk to true iron.

The upshot is that computers can’t talk to each other unless there’s a nearby human at both ends, or the Power is involved, and the power can’t operate without human intervention, so it’s hard to build automated systems in this world.

The other funky aspect is that, by law, the only type of remote computer connection allowed is basically fully immersive VR, because the old world might have collapsed because kids always be on their damn phones.

Iron had enabled people to communicate in radically unconventional ways, which was perceived to have furthered dehumanization and diminished common empathy. As a result, the law was that remote communication was only permitted if it sensually emulated reality, like what was happening in front of us.

This seems like it would be a very helpful plot point if they ever made a film adaptation of this book lol.

Anyway, Su and Seth take the opportunity to tune in to the parade back home while they’re doing the bribe. Of course someone sets it up the bomb.

The kids have a little chat about terrorism - Kam holds forth in her usual way about how deplorable terrorism is, much to everyone’s frustration, because nobody exactly is in favour of terrorisms here. Bardiya gives us the ‘yes the terrorists are morally responsible but this probably happened because the government fucked everything’ angle. Ptolema gives us the ‘what if it was a false flag’ angle.


Ezekiel deigns to show up onscreen around here. It turns out there’s a reason everyone avoided him so far: he’s a colossal cunt who’s super fantasy-racist towards people from the other planes, and also regular-racist to people from like, literally any other country. He gets away with it because he’s able to put a sock in it somewhat in front of the teachers and also good at magic. I think racists call this ‘hiding your power level’, but I don’t think ‘being racist’ is some kind of cool chuuni superpower.


Hamilcar is the last member of the Order that we meet. He’s got a bit of a techpriest sorta vibe. His general deal is ‘golemancy’, meaning in this case an approach of replacing human body parts with interchangeable parts and standard interfaces rather than growing perfectly biomimetic organs with biomancy. Fittingly, he is himself a big old robed cyborg, with a breathing apparatus over his mouth and a metal eye. Definitely feels like he missed his calling as a minor JRPG antagonist.

the cute bit with the books

There’s a really good scene in chapter 39 where Ran talks books with Yantho, the younger member of the servants/aspirants who talks with a tablet.

Ran talks, at first with Su, at some length about a fantasy novel about dragons. It is quite a thought-out premise in fact…

Ran shrugged. “When you read enough of this shit, all the gimmicks are basically just window dressing. What’s important is imagery. Plate armor, big old-fashioned Rhunbardic castles, swords, fantasy creatures… That’s what makes something typical.” She yawned. “But anyway, in the actual plot, dragons have almost been hunted to extinction, which is causing a crisis since human civilization uses them for everything. They decide to start farming them instead, but the dragons always tear themselves apart rather than letting themselves be captured, and if they just steal the eggs, they die before hatching without their mother.”

They talk about whether the premise - in which a special girl is made into a human dragon hybrid to breed dragons - is overly fetishistic before Ran renders her judgement…

She shrugged. “It’s average. As far as I can tell, it’s going for a bunch of high-minded themes about transhumanism, the cycle of hatred and violence, and society exploiting the bodies of women… But the actual delivery is pretty muddled, and falls apart amidst a bunch of stuff the author obviously only stuck in because they pressed some personal button. Also, there’s a romance plot at the center of the narrative that’s really pissing me off.”

I like this because it’s really funny to talk about the kind of book that you’re reading inside the book like this. A lot of the time when fictional characters read books, it’s very different books.

I sorta suspect that this is about a trunk novel that Lurina wrote? It’s so specific! But maybe she’s just really good at cooking up a plausibly interesting fantasy novel on the fly.

Yantho joins in and there’s a whole convo about the book series. (Su angsts about how she can’t really connect in the same way.) It’s definitely kind of indulgent but in a way that, contra Ran’s take on ‘pressing personal buttons’, I quite enjoy.


Finally in chapter 42 the much-delayed conclave begins and we get to see what everyone’s little science projects are! Also Fang shows up.

We were already told a bit about Fang - they’re a massive prodigy and also nonbinary - but what we didn’t realise is that they are incredibly casual about everything. Very much ‘TTRPG player who isn’t getting into character’ energy. They also act like they’re gonna improvise their project at the very last minute.

I thought the earlier discussion of Fang implied there is some kind of recognised nonbinary identity in this world, but it seems to be less of that and more that Fang is really good at playing genderfuck. Here’s how Su puts it:

It wasn’t as though Fang even really asked people to refer to them in gender neutral terms, not that I would have really had a problem with it if they did– Although that certainly didn’t stop Kam and a few others from being varying degrees of shitty and passive-aggressive over the issue, as you saw back when we were grouping up outside the Aetherbridge. Rather, they just implied their feelings by presenting themselves in a way that was genuinely ambiguous. It’s a delicate thing to try to put into words and probably even foolish to think about, but it really was difficult to tell what the… Makeup of their body was, uh, physically. They always wore clothes loose around the chest. They were tall, but not widely built. Their face was soft, but not small. They didn’t have any facial hair, but their eyebrows were lower and thicker than you’d normally expect from a woman, and while their voice was pretty husky, it was more resonant and melodic than you’d hear from a man. Like Ran and I, Fang was Saoic - though from the Arcanocracy instead of the League - and a lot of foreigners in our extended social circle would say things like, 'oh, they’re Saoic, so of course it’s hard to tell!’ which, aside from being vaguely offensive, was also extremely irritating, since I didn’t feel like that had anything to do with it.

Su goes on for a few more paragraphs about how we parse gender and shit.

It’s funny to me because… I’m someone who apparently reads a bit ambiguously in terms of gender. In my experience, people decide fairly arbitrarily what gender they think you are, and if something comes to change that impression (for me, usually my voice), they ‘correct’ themselves. If they’re more caught up on trans shit they might ask pronouns or whatever. It’s rare for someone to decide that they can’t figure it out -and if they do they might be incredibly rude about it like demanding to know my gender or loudly talking about whether I’m a boy or a girl.

Fang apparently deliberately cultivates a nonbinary perception, undermining peoples’ assumptions, but keeps subtle with it and doesn’t actually ask anyone to use they/them. That’s a hell of a fine line to walk lol.

Fang’s prodigal talent also has an air of cheating to it. After some remarks from Su about how most ‘prodigies’ just happen to peak sooner than most (she puts an evopsych spin on this because Su is a bit too much of a lesswronger for her own good still), but aren’t lifelong special talents, Su describes how Fang stood apart in schoolwork:

That wasn’t how it went for them. They would come into class, sit down, and just write. Nonstop, without pausing even a second for thought. And the work was brilliant! Perfectly voiced, cited, and comprehensive to the point that it put even the wordiest of Kamrusepa’s stuff to shame! And they just did it, like they were transcribing directly from the voice of God.

Certainly can’t help but get the feeling that Fang might also be in on the time loop, or perhaps an even longer loop? Or maybe they have had their mind overwritten with someone as we’re suspecting happened to Su? Or receiving some kind of ‘external’ information? Definitely seems like there’s more to this than just ‘Fang is good at academia’.

Anyway, they are super casual about showing up late for this all important conclave. Su’s deja-vu feeling manifests into a highly specific prediction…

Fang will withdraw an item that looks like a sheathed blade, but covered in small pieces of strange, silver-white machinery. As soon as the inner circle sees it, they will react with shock and panic. Someone - in 87% of scenarios, Zeno, but sometimes Hamilcar, Anna or even Linos - will demand what they’re doing with it and where they got it. Fang will explain that they were entrusted with the task of completing it by a departed member of the order, though they won’t say who. Later, I will learn this was my grandfather, but that won’t be until half way through the night. After this, the conclave will demand they hand the item over, but Fang will only do this under the condition they stall the conference until they’ve led everyone down to the sublevel to reveal its purpose. Kamrusepa will get upset and refuse to go. We’ll travel to an elevator that goes deeper in the facility, and… And then…

This prediction does not exactly pan out, but we don’t actually get to see what Fang’s project is, because Hamilcar suddenly intervenes and sends everyone outside.

Some other shit happens before that though!

Ophelia’s presentation is the main one to be narrated in detail. She’s invented an external artificial liver which is kind of like a slug creature, and does a demo on herself, in which it pokes tentacles in to intercept heir failing liver. I feel like this thing is a Chekhov’s gun. Also I am big into Ophelia’s whole ‘I will do this gross experiment on myself’ thing. That’s the spirit.

The witch’s ultimatum

We get the equivalent of Beatrice’s letter. In this case, someone hacks Kam’s logic bridge during her presentation, giving a religiously inflected denouncement and ultimatum on behalf of an unnamed goddess. The message commands them to do some occult shit.

First, you shall lay this fel sanctum to waste, taking nothing with you as you abandon it save the clothes on your back! Second, you shall fall to your knees and prostrate yourself before Her glory from the break of dawn to high noon! Third, you shall make the traditional sacrifice of a black bull in the evening light, along with the proper rites! Do this, and turn your miserable lives towards virtue and godliness, and you may yet be afforded forgiveness.“

If not, they’ll all be killed one by one. We don’t have a specific recipe for the killings as Beatrice’s revival ritual in Umineko, but it’s definitely a Beatricey vibe.

Su, who is one of the only two people who actually knows someone has been murdered (besides, presumably, the murderer!), has more misgivings than the rest, who broadly laugh it off.

There’s also a moment of bathos at the end…

Then, the voice exhaled, and the head of the figure shifted to the side, jarringly shifting to casual, chipper tone. "That was pretty good! I really gave it my all, I think–”

Given that the Playwright later claims to have had a cameo, I’m inclined to think it’s her ‘playing’ this ultimatum-giver? Though what that means for the ‘integrity’ of the scenario I’m not sure!

And then things get crazy

During this recess, Neferuaten comes out to chat with Su and Ran and Ptolema. Ran decides to take the chance to grill her on the real purpose of the facility, because most of what we’ve been told about it doesn’t add up. It probably isn’t underwater on the next lower plane. She concludes that the real reason for building a bunch of underwater domes here is something hidden in the caves underneath.

Neferuaten’s answer is… to go on a long metaphysical tangent. So it turns out that before making this new universe, the humans in the ‘timeless’ space of the Tower of Asphodel made some observations of the ‘depressed’ physics of the post-collapse universe they’d left (seems like the commenters suggesting false vacuum collapse were probably right on the money). They essentially had to wait out the entire heat death of the universe before making a new one (presumably taking no subjective time). So they left some kind of monitoring devices in there creating effectively a complete record of the entire history of the old universe. It’s considered a niche interest.

Someone called Saahdia made a study of this data and discovered patterns.

“Of course, I’m simplifying something very complex. One thing I hope you’ve learned by this point is that, in all forms of scholarly inquiry, nothing is ever clear cut. There were many false positives, and natural occurrences mistaken for something more. But the further she invesigated, the more she found anomalies which could not be easily explained. And the more those anomalies, too, began to form a recognizable pattern.” She smiled distantly. “Just not one you usually see in interstellar physics. And then she reported that to Ubar, who ordered an investigation of the corresponding interplanar data–”
“What she started to suspect,” Neferuaten explained. “was that, though in a form impossibly alien to human beings, entropy is conscious.”

This is like… lmao crank shit but it’s fine, it’s a scifi story, we can have a little conscious entropy as a treat.

Still, it’s time to talk physics a bit.

Seems that post I wrote about entropy is going to be very relevant huh. As discussed previously, entropy is a fairly unintuitive quantity that measures how large-scale averaged out models of a system relate to fully specifying every single one of its degrees of freedom.

The ‘thermodynamic arrow of time’ says that, in the direction we define to be increasing time, entropy always increases. This is justified by a statistical argument: when you have a huge enough number of particles ergodically exploring the states of a system, there are so vastly many more ways for entropy to increase than for it to not increase that the chance of it not increasing is infinitesimal. (This simple argument is considerably complicated by the issue of CPT symmetry, which says the laws of physics work the same way if you run time backwards. That would be too long a tangent for this blog post about a book.)

In thermodynamics, entropy is one of a number of state variables that describe a system. In classical thermodynamics, you form differential equations, relating changes in entropy to changes in other quantities such as internal energy, temperature, volume etc.

So what is entropy? Well, it’s not some kind of cosmic processor that is monitoring the micro-level physics of everything. It’s a statistical property that crops up in complicated evolving systems.

In our world, that is. In Su’s world, entropy is some kind of god. So that’s neat.

Naturally all the characters raise similar objections. Here’s how Su describes known physics in her future:

“Um…” I said, hesitating as I was put on the spot despite the superficial simplicity of the question. “Well, as far as we know, the Timeless Realm, which contains all fundamental matter, has always existed - along with the 10 conventional dimensional forces, which intersect and overlap with each other around the matter. Some of those intersections were asymmetrical, creating instability and the 11th special dimensional force, time. The process of those intersections breaking down created the phenomena we describe as energy and mass, which at some point led to the first planes. Ours in particular came about when a large amount of energy was discharged from from somewhere else in the inter-dimensional landscape, and–”

We should probably talk a bit about dimensions here. A spatial dimension is basically an direction that something can vary, orthogonal to the other directions. e.g. to reach every point in a 3D space you need at least three non-coplanar basis vectors to add up. In a higher dimensional space, there are more directions to go in.

Mathematics has been describing higher dimensional geometry for centuries. This made its way back to physics around the turn of the 20th century. You had special relativity, which mixes space and time depending on your velocity, defining a 4D ‘spacetime’. You also had formulations like Lagrangian mechanics which reformulated Newton’s mechanics into a more abstract model of ‘state variables’, with as many as you’d need to solve your problem.

Much later in the 20th century, attempts to create a unified model of quantum field theory and gravity started observing that their theory could be really mathematically elegant if you added a bunch of extra spacetime dimensions. The problem was that we can’t observe these dimensions - we can’t move along them and they don’t have any observable effect on shit like gravity. A solution for this issue is to say that all these extra space dimensions might loop back on themselves over an incredibly tiny scale. Supersymmetric string theory supposes that there would be 10 dimensions (the 4 regular spacetime ones + 6 extra ones which are all twisted up in something called a Calabi-Yau manifold), other theories add more.

I should say here that, despite decades of research effort and increasingly gigantic particle accelerators, we have found zero evidence for supersymmetry, which makes things dicey for string theory - a body of theoretical work that was already hard to meaningfully test in the first place. So ‘10 spacetime dimensions’ is far from proven physics.

While I’m at it, since it’s come up, a brane is basically a hypersurface of some dimension, that propagates through a higher-dimensional space. It’s a generalisation of notions like ‘particle’ (point moving through spacetime) and ‘string’ (line moving through spacetime). String theory uses this mathematical construct heavily - notably, within string theory our universe could be a specific type of brane with various strings attached to it in a way that allows it to produce quantum mechanics from the way the strings and branes interact.

So, in Flower, the ‘planes’ seem to have been identified with the physics concept of ‘brane’. In practice they function more like the classical fantasy notion of ‘planes of existence’, other worlds that you can travel to where the rules are different.

Now, let’s go back to Su’s summary. I don’t really get what she means by ‘dimensional forces’ here, particularly when she describes time as a ‘force’. The ‘process of those intersections breaking down’ is probably a way of describing the Higgs mechanism and spontaneous symmetry breaking. The ‘large amount of energy’ is presumably a reference to the Big Bang (the hot dense state at the beginning of our universe), coupled with the idea that the energy came from ‘somewhere else’. Further, Su seems to be suggesting that they exist in a brane cosmology, in which our universe is a brane in a higher-dimensional space, and there could be other universes.

Su’s description is kinda muddled tbh - it feels like the interpolation of someone who reads popular science magazines rather than a physicist.

Anyway, here’s how Su defines entropy:

“But we do know what entropy is,” I insisted. “It’s just an emergent quality of energy in some planes in which gravity is exceeded by motion in terms of potential force, without anything else to taper it. You taught me that countless times yourself.”

This seems somewhat odd to me - I’m not entirely sure why gravity would enter into it. I think it might have to do with conflating the thermodynamic arrow of time (the ‘direction’ along which entropy increases) and the cosmological arrow of time (the ‘direction’ in which the universe expands), since the expansion of the universe is determined by the balance of matter and energy in the universe.

‘Emergent quality of energy’ is somewhat accurate. Entropy could be more aptly said to be an emergent quality of any model that treats matter in the aggregate, abstracting over details. An atom in a gas interacting with other atoms has no concept of entropy in its dynamics. If you were able to perfectly track and simulate every single particle, you would not need entropy.

Since it’s so contextually defined, it’s rather difficult to describe entropy as a kind of entity that could be afforded a will. Neferuaten’s response is to play the allegory of the cave card, something which Ran calls her on:

“This is the second time in the past five minutes that you’ve basically repackaged the allegory of the cave and presented it as your own concept,” Ran said flatly. “Just putting that out there.”

Kind of love this line.

However, despite the characters grilling Neferatuen on an idea which Su correctly calls ‘closer to mysticism than natural philosophy’, the fact that this is given so much time in the narrative seems to fairly strongly suggest that, as far as this story is concerned, entropy is a conscious entity or process or something.

Presumably, whatever the Order are about to try to do, they’re going to change how entropy behaves so that it ‘wants’ to keep humans alive indefinitely. Somehow this is going to involve the Everblossom. I will say, that is a proper scale of magnum opus for a setting like this.

Neferuaten is honestly pretty up front about all this. She’s like ‘yep we’re playing with fire and probably courting an x-risk*, but don’t worry, we know what we’re doing’.

“I’m just trying to be upfront, miss Rheeds,” Neferuaten said. “I’m happy to be known as hypocritical, selfish, or even foolish, but the one thing that makes my stomach churn is the idea of miss Hoa-Trinh, and of course you and Utsuhikome, walking away from this conversation with the impression that we’re all megalomaniacs without any degree of mindfulness of we’re doing. It has been, if nothing else, among my foremost goals to promote self-awareness among the administration of this organization.”

As upfront as she might be trying to be, she lapses back into the cryptic bullshit and refuses to explain much more about how the Order came to this mysterious location beyond ‘there is an Ironworker thing here’ that they can use to observe and interact with entropy, I guess.

Anyway, all of this ends with Neferuaten declaring that as long as she lives, no danger will come to Su et al. Signing her own death warrant with those words.

Neferuaten dies

So then Su sees the beaky thing and blacks out. When she comes to, she tries to figure out what she saw - about this point we also get another visit from the Playwright, who explains that Su can’t have her perceptions messed with until we are shown the mechanism that would do it - and then Lilith shows up and drags her to go find help. The warning bell is going off. Su goes to shut it off. And we get… our second death!!

Su also learns that as far as other characters were concerned, she seemed mostly normal. It seems therefore that she’s suffered amnesia rather than actually being unconscious. Maybe her alter took over? Or maybe her visit to Samium didn’t take as well as she hoped?

We also get some new rules, including coloured text. Red text (actually a darker red, but this is the only one I have on here) is used to describe Su finding a corpse that is absolutely definitely the corpse of that specific person, ruling out misidentifications, subsitutes etc. whoops, I misremembered that part! the only guarantee we get is that they’re human remains and dead, but not whose human remains they are. (so this could be someone else who died and then, say, post-mortem transformed to look like neferatuen).

We also get to have new POVs, starting with an academic guy from an early chapter who seems to know more than he was letting on. These segments begin with a letter in purple text if we’re supposed to treat them as reliable.

Considering Su blacked out for most of the relevant period, I’m not sure if we’re supposed to really be able to solve any of the ‘dunnit’ questions at this point. What we know is that someone killed Neferuaten and stuffed her body in the bell. Why? Well we have a ‘witch narrative’ (the members of the Order will be killed one by one if they don’t do ritual blah), and we also have reasons to suspect there could be conflict within the order. The thing is nobody has an alibi at this point - about the only people it’s unlikely to be are Lilith (who was probably near Su) and Linos (who is established as unable to climb the stairs of the belltower, though then again these are all flying wizards here).

We also learn about a thing called the Allagiypnou Process, which reduces how much you have to sleep at the risk of potential personality changes. Every member of the Order except Linos has had it.

So not much to say just yet. I liked Neferuaten. But we already know it’s a time loop story, so I’m sure she’ll be back in a future loop.

The Playwright and the Director and final mysteries

The story is getting increasingly frequent interruptions from the Playwright and the Director, adding an increasingly metafictional dimension to this. This is not really surprising if you’re an Umineko-head, but it does seem to be causing a certain amount of consternation in the comments.

I definitely suspect there is more to these characters than merely a cutesy way to inform us of the rules of the Fair Play mystery we’re allegedly supposed to be solving. There are obvious questions like - who is the audience? What is the connection of the characters to the situation? If this is all being orchestrated, to what end?

Given the earlier declaration that entropy is sentient, I wonder if this is some kind of anthropomorphised representation of the ‘will’ of entropy? But that seems kinda cheap.

Anyway, we end with another set of reveals - Nindar, the academic back at the uni which they all left behind, is clearly in on whatever conspiracy is afoot here, and had a hand in bringing Fang and their mysterious object with the goal of changing the mission of the Order.

And also apparently the boys’ group didn’t even go up the space elevator.

So like what does that imply?? Are all the boys replaced with imposters? If the boys didn’t go up the lift, but made their way to the Sanctuary by some other means, why do they all seem to remember going up the space elevator and following a similar route to the girls?

I honestly have no idea at this point. Feels like way too many unknowns to reason deductively about.

In conclusion

Sure are a lot of balls in the air right now. I’m fascinated to see where they might land.

Maybe let’s make a list of like, known mysteries?

There’s probably more I’m forgetting right now.

Not sure how many of these - if any! - we’re supposed to be able to infer at this point in the narrative, but it’s definitely a spicy brew!

I expect the bodies are going to hit the floor pretty quickly from this point, but who knows… we’re still quite early on in this affair.

…phew, these writeups are a bit of a project. I’ve gotten everything down now I think, so I can finally let myself read the next chapter.


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