The orb's secondary function is a mana battery.The orb is a portable pocket dimension. Pocket dimensions can have heavy time dilation. The orb belonged to the maker of the sovereign gate which uses pocket dimensions and heavy time dilation. Mana normally loses the casters nature in a matter of minutes. The most useful thing for the orb to store in this setting would be mana. This may even allow a human mage to cast dragon mage spells?
The world is already a copy since the silence of the gods.When the sovereign gate made a copy of the world it appeared to people in the copy that the spiritual planes had been cut of from from reality one day. When the silence happened the gods just went quite one day with no warning. This could be weak evidence that the world (including the spiritual plane) may have already been a copy or simulation from before the sovereign gate activated.
Being the branded one doubles your mana pool without negative consequence.Zach has maximum shaping skills of someone with half his reserves. His reserves are above the expected human maximum. He is the branded one in a super convenient training time loop. It seems unlikely that one person would hit the jackpot three times in a row. It seems more likely that being the branded one is a gift from the maker of the gate and that it includes these other perks through some mechanism.
Neolu is the third time-travellerShe showed the same rapid improvement in skills as Zach.
- Didn't Zorian observe in a later restart that without Zach's influence she wasn't anything special, though?
Imaya Kuroshka and Ilsa Zileti are lovers.Hence, first, Ilsa knowing that Imaya had rooms to rent; second, Ilsa telling Zorian not to raise the subject of marriage or husbands in Imaya's presence; and third, Ilsa's regular visits to the house. Given that this is a country where in many places girls are still not given a chance at a proper education and where marriages before the age of sixteen are not unheard of, it's probable that a teacher like Ilsa might not want it known that she bats for the other team.
- Jossed. Imaya had a husband that left her because she was infertile. Leading Ilsa to tell Zorian not to bring up her husband to circumvent accidental disrespect.
Akoja has a crush on Zorian.The degree of her awkwardness in being assigned to go out with Zorian at the dance is easily explained by his remarks on the rumor-mongering nature of his classmates, but she consistently treats him as being something special (in her special perfectionist way) and, when he says that he didn't want to take a date to the dance in the first loop (because he hated formal events and would be a bad partner to whoever he took), she's hurt at the implication that he doesn't like her.
- Confirmed: Chapter 25 states that she has a small crush on him.
The little girl that lost a bike in the creek is always swept away by the current if Zorian doesn't levitate the bike.The kitten on the same bridge that Zorian passes in one of the loops? The one that he senses loss and sorrow from? That's her pet.
- Possibly Jossed in the more recent chapters.
- It's not her pet. Although close enough. It's her shape-shifted form.
The little girl that lost a bike in the creek is the cat Zorian met on the bridge.Less likely than the prior, but hey — it's a fantasy story, transformation is possible, right?
- With the publishing of chapter 40 and the revelation that her parents were cat-shifters, this becomes much more plausible.
Zorian is going to weaponize the Grey Hunter somehow.Either against the invaders or the giant demon frog in the Yellow Cavern. While it would be immensely satisfying to feed the lich or red robe to a giant spider that their magic is useless against, there's the wonderful irony of the frog getting eaten by the spider.
- How? It's completely resistant to magic, senses any and all use of magic in its vicinity along with more mundane spider senses, is superhumanly fast and agile, and is freaking gigantic. If Zorian managed to take control of the thing, he wouldn't need it any more because he would be able to control literally anyone. Quatach-Ichl was at least human once, we've seen him get tricked on-screen, and I would bet you his inborn resistance to magic is lower. It might be easier to break his mind than the giant spider's.
Zenomir Olgai is the third time-traveller.After showing Zenomir the transcription of the incantation the lich used on him and telling a story about overhearing a plot to invade during the festival, Zorian wasn't told to go to a police station to give a statement but just go home and forget about it. Zorian was then assassinated in his room almost immediately afterwards. Furthermore, Zenomir is "old. Really old," while still being remarkably spry and alert. Could be potions... could be necromancy! Most damning of all, though... his name starts with a Z, just like the two confirmed time travelers, Zach and Zorian.
Jossed or Partially-Jossed
The missing watch is the key to the time loops.This would explain what the aranea matriarch was talking about as well as why the loop specifically starts at the time it does — presumably that's when the watch was lost.
- Jossed: Chapter 19 confirms that the watch is unrelated to the time loop and Chapter 22 reveals the watch is actually a specialized tool for ward-breakers.
Linked to the above: the original time traveler is the guy who owned the watch.This explains why the watch was lost in such close vicinity to the assault on the city — the time-traveler wanted to prevent the attack, and in the course of his attempts to do so, was separated from his secret weapon. Presumably the center of the loop was shifted to Zach by accident, and Zach continued repeating the loop for similar reasons to Zorian.
- Jossed: Chapter 19 argues convincingly that Zach is the original time-traveler.
Xvim is also an empath.Xvim's antisocial and stand-offish behavior isn't that dissimilar from Zorian's before he realized what he was. Without the guidance of the aranea, the only control Xvim found for "the pressure" was to shield his mind at all times.
- Jossed: He's just a jerk, and his mental shield is a mind magic shaping exercise that he's constantly practicing.