Caesures (pronounced akin to seizures) appear as garish, roiling tornadoes illuminated from within by a flickering sickly silver light. Although it is next to impossible to describe these unnatural abominations, perhaps it is best done by depicting them as the localized fusion of the shredding of both time and space together with a migraine made flesh and spiritual nausea incarnate. As such, caesures embody the ultimate antithesis of the Land's natural Law, since they destroy the very essence of creation by slicing apart both time and space, so that both matter and moments are rent to shreds and the discrete fragments hurled into a churning, irreparable chaos.
To those blessed with health-sense, the proximity of a caesure will engender an immediate sense of wrongness alongside a nauseous miasma, since these represent the utmost perversion of the natural order of things. To someone like Linden with her innate health sense enhanced by her ownership of the Staff of Law, this soul-torturing effect is magnified a hundredfold - not that she of all people really needed another excuse to moan or anything.
Because caesures destroy Time, they are utterly impervious to Its linear nature, which neatly explains why they have also appeared in the Land's distant past. If one is brave enough, one may enter a caesure and - if one survives the ordeal - be transported to another time and place entirely. However, this is no task for the faint-hearted, since the experience of being within a caesure is nigh on nightmarishly indescribable from a human sensory perspective. Inside a caesure is absolute entropy - time itself does not exist, so subjectively speaking, every moment spent within is truly an eternity. Within a caesure, there is no perceptible landscape, just a feeling of absolute chilled - or 'gelid', to use a typical SRD word - whiteness without feature, where one feels that one's whole existence is being ripped asunder.
The only defence against such an existential assault is perhaps unsurprisingly to be found in Earthpower, the instinctive 'rightness' to a caesure's utter 'wrongness'. The presence of the Staff of Law in the hands of its rightful wielder can afford some protection to a party attempting to navigate the horrors of a caesure. Furthermore, the emanations from naturally Earthpowerful beings such as the Ranyhyn can also provide a shielding effect. As a side note, the somewhat sheltering effects of innate Earthpower undoubtedly explain why Anele was able to survive his helpless temporal translation through the horrors of a caesure. Finally, the quintessentially obdurate stoicism of the Haruchai also seems to afford those hardy and implacable Bruce Lees a measure of invulnerability - or perhaps they think it'd make them look like wusses to outwardly show any negative effects.
Surviving the total sensory onslaughts within a caesure is one thing, but navigating within one to re-appear at one's desired moment in space and time is quite another (a Tardis would be so much more comfortable, or even a wormhole, to use an SF trope that the more ardent of Trekkies will appreciate). The best way to achieve this is undoubtedly to put all one's trust in the Ranyhyn. The great horses' combination of Earthpower and poorly understood innate knowledge of travelling while transcending time and space (as evidenced by their being able to appear at as moment's notice when summoned) allow them to pick their way to the frozen and chaotic hell of a caesure to arrive at the wished-for destination.
Apart from their terrifying propensity to appear at any apparently random moment and destroy all matter, both living and inanimate in their immediate location, caesures represent far wider threats.
Firstly, if left unchecked, caesures would eventually devour all of time and space, thus destroying the Arch of Time and freeing Lord Foul to rampage across the cosmos - a thing which would put a serious kink in anyone's day. Fortunately, given that most caesures are spawned from the ravening insanity of Joan Covenant, what with her being madder than a sackful of rabid hamsters and thus having the attention span of a goldfish with ADHD, they tend to flicker out of existence as rapidly and as suddenly as they appear. Linden can also cause a cesure to collapse into itself and disappear by pouring fire from her Staff of Law into it - that is, if she can be bothered to get off her whiny and self-obsessed butt to do so.
Secondly however, there is a far more insidious danger within caesures and that relates to the possibility of their being used to travel into the past. As even the most dilettante of sci-fi fans would know, there is a massive risk of causing a temporally shattering paradox if one travels into the past and alters known history in any significant way - so time travel through caesures has to be treated with the utmost caution, for fear of again obliterating The Arch of Time. This is known to SF nerds as "the grandfather paradox", namely the cosmos-rending possibility of going back in time and killing your own grandfather long before your relevant parent has been conceived.
(Having said that, if someone had managed to use a caesure to go back in time and kill Linden's grandfather, they would have done us all a massive favour - the end of the universe as we know it would be an infinitesimal price to pay for being forever spared her incessant weeping and whining).
Cæsura is a real word, featuring the lamentably fast-disappearing diphthong (that's the conjoined "ae" within the word's middle and absolutely not some sort of minimalist bathing costume). Cæsura, which for those of an etymological bent is the perfect passive participle of the Latin verb cædo (cædere, cecidi, cæsum), meaning I cut down, or hew, or otherwise strike, or figuratively kill, bears the meaning of 'a deliberate pause or interruption in a poem, music or other work of art'. Architecturally, it can also refer to a break in the line of a building. Perhaps this implies something about the nature of The Land as seen both by the author and his readership through the eyes of the main characters?
The Latin verb cædo is the one that would be typically used to describe the act of felling a tree, a thing which may well explain why caesures are also known to the inhabitants of the Land as 'Falls'.
Causes and Origins
A caesure can be created by:
- The mad Joan Covenant wielding white gold.
- An arcane combination of wild magic and Staff-power. (Linden created at least one specimen to travel back in time).
- An anti-fan of the Last Chronicles denying their existence.
- Thoolahians upon catching the scent of Linden from a distance of up to one hundred kilometers.
Most cases follow rule #1.