The Neopian Scholar's Guide to Time Traveling
Also by rielcz
Written by: Element Xium and Falena Cithaerias
Throughout the course of Neopian history, experienced mages and young wizards alike have sought to master magic of all kinds: elemental, soul, potion-making—but one concept whose existence can be considered magical in itself has evaded the most experienced, hence the existence of very few books and scholarly journals on the subject: time. Despite (successful!) efforts to engage in time travel, it has existed without anyone making concerted efforts: the influence of the Faction-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named has said to influence even time itself although the knowledge of the faction name has not surfaced until recently. Not convinced? Then explain the Meridellian Time Paradox. I know. We can't quite do it either. However, what my colleague, Mr. Xium, and I have put together is a guideline on time traveling based on archival research and interviews, along with proof as to how it can be done.
You and countless others have been fascinated with the prospect of moving through time, and you may or may not be aware of its dangers and benefits. From those who are well-versed in time-travel short stories and series to those who have never even heard of the concept, this article contains most everything you'll need to gather information on time traveling, and, hopefully, conduct your experiments with a careful, knowledgeable hand, hoof, or paw.
Why time travel?
Time travel is the idea that one can move along the linear course of time, and set himself along the line at a time which is not immediately called "the present." The present is ever-changing in a constant, predictable manner. If you find this idea hard to grasp, read this sentence over after making a note of the time when you started. It's different from the second of the minute from when you finished reading the sentence, isn't it? That second is gone, lost forever, hidden only in your memories and the memories of others. Wouldn't it be fantastic if you could revisit that second, or any second you desire? Even... seconds which have not yet come to pass? Read on, friend, and broaden or refresh your understanding.
Machinery vs Magic
The idea of machine being able to transport man through time-space fabric has fascinated Neopian culture and captivated minds for generations. Even before such technology was possible, many stories were shaped around the mystical and mythical time machine: everything from Weewoo Postage Booths to Virtupets motorized carts were used as time machines in popular fiction.
Though as is often the case, the real explanation for a principle of applied physics is much more boring than imagined in fiction. Real time machines aren't powered by one's mind or garbage, or sent back in time from the future, nor are they bigger on the inside than they at first appear, as convenient as that would be.
Time machines of today convert its user's natural particles to tachyons which in turn are converted to waves, in accordance with wave-particle duality, which quickly travel at varying speeds through naturally occurring and predetermined wormholes (as calculated by extrapolating info from Brownian motion and magnetic field detectors) leading to the user's desired space-time output; the machine then rearranges said waves back into the user's particle structure at the predetermined destination.
While professors of Time and Alternate Historical Studies at Brightvale University lay claim to the first recorded successful usage of a time machine, Seeker steampunk society in Moltara argue the mechanism allowing time travel was created by them and stolen—and the successes of one Dr. Landelbrot only further the evidence in favor of the opposition.
There is another method, of course, though it's been tested approximately two handfuls of times, and has been successful with one of those handfuls or less. Upon inspecting the successes on a case-by-case basis, studies show that each of the mages and warlocks who have time traveled have done so with different ingredients and spells. Each one of them improvised, toiled, or labored to write their own spells and potions, and not one has been leaked to the public: until now.
Professor Iris Hathaway of Brightvale University did not use a spell, as is the conventional route with magical discoveries, but a potion to time travel. This was a bold and, as some consider, reckless move on her part. After all, spells are generally safe and have a larger chance of being reversed, while the effects of potions tend to be permanent unless there is an antivenin or a reversal potion close at hand. When interviewed, Hathaway admitted to using Essence of Mortog and the tip of her mage staff into a medium-sized cauldron, but failed to recall much else due to unnamed circumstances.
Though not much is known about time traveling by magic, many factoids and theories have popped up like Sillie Daisies based on countless hours of research, speculation, and reasoning. For example, of those who have used a spell, only two have returned, with no memory of any kind regarding their travels. Some claim that these wizards were falsifying their testament of time travel, which may or may not be true. One mage who used a potion turned into a zombie Symol and has been rumored to prowl the fields of Meridell, lurking in search of brains—er, grains to devour.
Essential Equipment for time traveling:
Bring a towel. I'm sure you've heard this advice before, but it's worth mentioning here. A towel can be used as a signal, especially at twilight when darker colors become more difficult to see than in the daytime. They provide cover from heat, cold, and magic if you know how to use it as a shield. What's more, towels can serve as a much sturdier picker-upper than mere paper towels if the effects of time travel get to you too easily. However, this is not a guide on how to use towels: for more information, we recommend Little-Known Towel Facts, mainly because there were uses for towels which even we did not think of until reading it!
Carry a paper and a (working!) pen with you at all times. I can't tell you how many times one who'd gone forward or backward in time felt it necessary to write a message and they were unable to, either because their pen didn't work, or because they didn't carry any paper. It's best to test both, just in case. Why test both your pen and paper? If you tear paper, it's not going to reflect well, unless you are traveling into the future. Those who see the message will understand its urgency. In any case, it's highly recommended to be neat in your penmanship and in pen pressure, no matter how urgent the desire to panic may be. However, should you choose to write a message to whomever you like, please be advised that there are possible consequences which will be explained later in the article.
If possible, take a fast-flying (or swimming if the location you expect to visit is underwater) petpet. This follows the same line of advice as sending a message—if time is of the essence and you need to leave your message, say, in a room whose only entrance is a Miamouse hole, a fast petpet is your best bet. If your spell, potion or machine is time-sensitive (as they should be, for how can you travel in the first place if that is not so?) then it's safe to say that the method of getting the message to one who you believe needs it is just as important if not more so than the message itself.
Bring Neopoints. If you travel backwards, they should probably be of higher value, but, taking factors such as the Habitarium into account, this may not be so. Bring a tidy sum, about 50,000-100,000 Neopoints, but if that's too heavy for you to carry while running (you never know; sometimes the past may be as uncertain as the future) it may help to bring an item of high value along, such as a Baby Paint Brush, worth slightly less than 600,000 Neopoints. Be careful if you choose to go this route: taking items which were not released at the time to which you travel can be catastrophic for all of Neopia. I dare say Fyora the Faerie Queen will not be able to help you if you take a Neopets 15th Birthday Goodie Bag into the time of Champions of Meridell. Not to mention if you even think about going back in time to gather White Paint Brushes and then travel to the future once more to sell them for profit. The Defenders of Neopia can trace suspicious activity, and trust me, they have the equipment that can sense if time travel was used for monetary gain.
NOTE: The following distinction must be made when describing the list of "DON'Ts": while those events pertaining to what one shouldn't do stretches on into infinity and varies from circumstance to circumstance, what one traditionally perceives of as a DON'T is merely a subcategory of the aforementioned, which will be described a "CAN'T". CAN'Ts are disruptions/alterations in space-time that cannot possibly materialize lest the universe's time-space fabric tears asunder (merely speculation) or a multiverse switch occurs; some leading theorists actually believe CAN'Ts are not permitted to possibly occur within the boundaries of any universe where the former (self-destruction) is a product of such a time-space alteration -- hence the name.
A multiverse switch is a special property suggested by theorists combining time-travel theory with M-Theory: in essence, there are infinite "multiverses", or universes, differing from each other by one or more simple or crucial aspects. In a different multiverse, Neopia is inhabited only by Petpets; in another yet, there is no Neopia at all! (Should the theory be correct.) Regardless, the multiverse switch is the idea that a time-travel incident that could tear the universe asunder will merely result in the traveler being placed in a "new" multiverse where their disruption to the space-time continuum was ALWAYS part of that multiverse's history, as was any future changes as a result of the traveler's disruptions, and thus no time-space danger to the original or new multiverse occurs.
SECOND NOTE: The following two cases will not apply should a multiverse switch occur.
The first and most important CAN'T one should keep in mind whilst time-traveling is the following: NEVER change anything in the past without creating a similar reason for a future self to return to that time to make the alteration you made. It can be something as simple as leaving your past self a note (and this is in conjunction with ensuring you always have a working pen), but failure to do so has dire consequences. Say you traveled back in time to save your mother from ill-fate; the past you who would grow up to be present you would not have had a reason to save your mother from aforementioned ill-fate as your mother would not have succumbed to ill-fate, and thus the present you who would have gone back in time to save your mother no longer goes back in time to save your mother and your mother succumbs to ill-fate once more, prompting present you to go back in time... An infinite loop is created and the universe will never progress beyond the point in which you first time-travelled. The fabric of space-time is destroyed.
The second case, often referred to as the Elderlyboy Paradox (with all the violence that implies), is a classic CAN'T which some say is actually a special case of the first: going back in time to, directly or indirectly, prevent your own birth. Should you succeed at such, your lack of existence would mean there would be no you to become the present self that would have gone back in time to prevent your own birth, and as such there would have been no you from the present to go back in time to prevent your own birth, QED; as a result your past self will exist and will eventually grow to become you from the present who will go back in time to prevent the birth of your past self... Another infinite loop.
We trust you can use your imagination to think of other CAN'Ts and use basic reasoning/morals to never cause them.
In terms of DON'Ts, the first and most important rule to follow is DON'T PANIC. If you get stuck in a harrowing situation as a result of a time-travel mishap, calm yourself and use your ability to time-travel to your advantage. Any situation (barring those that destroy the fabric of space-time) that is gotten into through time-travel can be gotten out of through time-travel.
That aside, one common thing that should be known amongst time-travelers and observers alike is DON'T change anything that you have no business/intent on changing... at least willfully. (In some cases the time-space alteration may have been part of that universe's timeline and thus the alteration is necessary and ultimately unavoidable.) It's the whole "Batterfly Effect", where the smallest change can cause a radical overhaul of future events (though this effect is mostly applicable to multiverse jumps); "Should a Batterfly flap his wings and alter the air currents just enough, imagine what might change as a result."
As hinted at earlier, DON'T interact with your past self in such a way that will cause history not to lead up to you time traveling to interact with your past self. This said, you may interact with a future self to the extent you wish without causing any paradox. In conjunction with this, however, if a future self guesses a number (for example) of yours correctly for proof they are indeed you, DON'T forget that number as you will eventually be in a similar situation.
Less about timeline and more about etiquette... DON'T travel to a place and time without first learning of its customs such that you may blend in. You wouldn't want to be the misfit at a turn of the century Neovian ball, or anger the early natives of Mystery Island and end up on a stake above a boiling pot.
DON'T expect to be in the same place when time travelling explicitly (thus no space travel); while the user would be in exactly the same spot as when they left, the constantly expanding universe means there would be a perceived difference in location. This said, its effects tend not to be realized unless one travels to a time with an absolute numeric value magnitudes greater than their present date.
DON'T go anywhere without bringing medicinal supplies or knowing where you may be go for healing should you succumb to injury or illness. Or worse, bring an illness to a time/place that either is yet to experience it or has already eradicated it; DON'T be a biological weapon. (Remember, even the Healing Springs was not around since the dawn of Neopia.)
Finally, DON'T get stuck in the past. To travel back in time and change history slightly is one thing, but to remain there...? We'll leave it up to you to fathom its consequences.
If You Get Stuck:
Should you get stuck in an unfamiliar time as a result of misuse or tampering of a time machine/potion/etc., remember the advice of time-travel, and especially the CAN'Ts. Don't panic and you should be able to think of a solution.
Should your means to travel through time fall into disrepair/deplete whilst in another time, however, instructions are not so clear.
Many scholars argue the best thing to do is remain in/near the origin of time-space disruption and hope the Defenders, noting an odd number of disruptions, will search for which among the cases failed to return.
Others claim, in the case of more imminent anger, it's better to leave a note outlining your predicament in the hopes it will be discovered by someone in the future who can come back to save you. However, take careful consideration not to invoke a CAN'T in the process.
Finally, though time-machines aren't widely available for public use yet, some scholars theorize one should always purchase multiple time machines such that a Neopian can hide the mechanisms throughout points in the past; these machines, while aged variably depending on where in time one chooses to hide them, can serve either as spare parts or a functional contingency plan. This said, the consequences of one being discovered before "their time" are catastrophic both in paradox and possibility; accidentally giving violent warmongers of the past, for example, the ability to travel through time-space has repercussions we will let you think of.
A journey into time is a journey into the unknown—more so if one is traveling into the future, and even more so if there is a powerful purpose behind it. Not even we can predict what sorts of Neopets you may encounter (even if the journey is into the past). If you happen to have a successful time traveling trip, let either of us know via our student mailboxes. If you did not intend to travel back or forth in time, then we hope you have gained some valuable insight regarding how to go about it, and what methods others have tried in order to harness the power of time.
Back in Peaceful Times. Y6. Kreludan author.
Cog of Time, The. Y14. Moltaran author.
Crack in Time Background. Y14. NC Mall.
Lenny Time Traveler. Interview. Fall Y16 Semester.
Little-Known Towel Facts. Y11. Author unknown.
Lost Spells of Neopia. Y4. Author unknown.
Mage Spells. Y6. Wizard Woo. Brightvale Books.
Time Travel. Year Unknown. Author unknown. R180.