Here There Be Dragons: Seen on star charts which include the Resplendent Exponential Vector system, and in particular, that moon given over to the biogenesis project working on creating the mythologae the way they really ought to have been.
(They haven’t managed to actually create any dragons yet, but no-one wants to be caught by surprise when they do.)
When you think about the Cold Ones, it’s actually a remarkable blessing that the nature of the universe is quantized, because that’s what will eventually kill them. Eventually, those tiny energy states and information stores they use will fall below the threshold at which they cannot (because quantum) be subdivided any more to create necessary differentials, and infinity will come to an end – the granularity of the universe being the major limitation of attempting this sort of end-run around finity.
This is, by any reasonable standards, a good thing, because it places an end-point on their existence.
Imagine, for a moment, if the universe was non-quantized and analog. Then there would always be a way to slice things more finely, and get by on smaller and smaller and smaller energy differentials supporting less and less computation, but never zero. However mad and tortured their desperate struggle to hang on to another sliver of existence became, it could still get progressively worse in an infinite number of steps.
To steal a perfectly good way of putting it from a comment by Jenna Moran on Exalted’s Neverborn, whose situation is in many ways similar:
That would mean, of course, that [the universe] can never be [cold enough to kill them]. That would mean, of course, that they are mad not because they are dead gods, but because they are dead dead gods. Dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead, dead gods. Dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead, dead dead gods.
And still endlessly unraveling and unfolding into ever greater death, loss, experience of no longer having experiences, being the names of something that are ever further away from living, and still falling, and still somehow stuck.
(I have your cosmic horror’s cosmic horror right here.)
Cold Ones (also ice giants, the Finality, Lords of the Last Waste)
Mythological beings who dwell at the end of time, during the final blackness of the universe, the last surviving remnants of the war of all-against-all over the universe’s final stocks of extropy, long after the passing of baryonic matter and the death throes of the most ancient black holes. Savage, autocannibalistic beings, stretching their remaining existence across aeons-long slowthoughts powered by the rare quantum fluctuations of the nothingness, these wretched dead gods know nothing but despair, hunger, and envy for those past entities which dwelled in eras rich in energy differentials, information, and ordered states, and would – if they could – feast on any unwary enough to fall into their clutches.
Stories of the Cold Ones are, of course, not to be interpreted literally: they are a philosophical and theological metaphor for the pessimal end-state of the universe, to wit, the final triumph of entropy in both a physical and a spiritual sense. Nonetheless, this metaphor has been adopted by both the Flamic church and the archai themselves to describe the potential future which it is their intention to avert.
The Cold Ones have also found a place in popular culture, depicted as supreme villains: perhaps best seen in the Ghosts of the Dark Spiral expansion for Mythic Stars, a virtuality game from Nebula 12 ArGaming, ICC, and the Void Cascading InVid series, produced by Dexlyn Vithinios (Sundogs of Delphys, ICC).
– Mythographies of the Worlds, 53rd ed., Third League Publishing & c.
…for those also interested in the bits of eldraeic theology I’ve published now and again on this site.
Slate Star Codex: The Goddess of Everything Else