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I've been sitting on part of this for a while because it seemed too intangible to do anything with, but (digging around for that timeline project) I found another oddity connected to it and now I'm too curious to hold back. This one isn't an inconsistency or an error, as far as I can tell, but something extremely interesting (to me). It's pretty hard to wrap ones head around, though, so let's go over some history.

 

The A Realm Reborn PR site specifies that the First Umbral Calamity brought an end to the Age of the Gods. Likewise, the Dusty Tomes claim that man was created to wage the Gods' wars after they left at the beginning of the cycle of the Eras.

We know that the Fourth Umbral Era was earth, the Fifth was ice, and the Sixth was water. Following the elemental wheel's clockwise rotation (Ice, Water, Wind, Lightning, Fire, Earth) we can infer that the First Umbral Calamity was wind. This is strange, as almost all elemental cycles begin with ice ... but we'll get back to that later.

 

Take a look at this line from the Moghome arc.

 

Let's take a look at that in Japanese (and so help me Twelve, please don't start another Japanese Master Transcript debate).

 

It looks like Chieftain Moggle could have been separated from the Moogles of the Mists as long ago as the legends say... and it also implies that the Sea of Clouds is very... very... old; Age of the Gods old.

 

But why would fire rain during a wind calamity? The first appearance of the Echo, perhaps? Or was it caused by the gods' squabbles themselves?

 

Imagine for a moment that that elemental wheel did start off, like all other cycles, resting a bit towards Ice. Ice is melted by Fire, Fire is extinguished by Wind, Wind is blocked by Ice (aka the Submission cycle). What if an overwhelming presence of Fire during an Ice era created an imbalance that invited a massive influx of Wind to fill the vacuum and restore balance? Could we have started on Ice after all?

 

This is where I run into some trouble, because the second cycle was a Water era with a Lightning calamity. Since Water erodes Earth, Earth grounds Lightning, and Lightning boils water (aka the Conquest cycle), following the same pattern, you'd be imbalancing a Water era with the influence of Earth. That doesn't seem likely; earth doesn't fare well against water - it loses. But what if you (or the Ascians) helped the boat rock back the other way during the opposite cycle (Conquest rather than Submission)? Too much of the era's elemental influence, rather than too little - Water erodes Earth, inviting Lightning into the vacuum. Balance is restored, but the boiled water converts into wind and helps move us into the next cycle.

 

This even works during the Allagan calamity, which is another Conquest cycle. If we started on Ice, the Allagan era would start with Lightning and need too much lightning to "boil away" too much of water's influence and invite an Earth calamity. Look what we know about Allag: Too much lightning influence? EH!? EH!?!? It feels like I'm on to more than nothing but I don't quite know if I'm on to something.

 

To take this another floor up the house of cards, chaos (likely rooted somehow in the Ascian plan) resulted in the destruction of a world, and then balance was restored. We know that, but could this also explain why balance is so necessary, at times? The restoration of balance allowed the wheel to naturally turn to the next element, over and over, so the 13 reflected worlds could be destroyed and Zodiark could actually be restored. If our original world collapses too soon, any chance of resurrecting Zodiark might be lost.

 

To extend it out to the War of the Magi, it'd be... <grabs table he made because he was really bad at this part>

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