Transcendent Pig

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This most unusual creature -- if he is a creature -- is, in both nature and provenance, one of the most enigmatic in the entire field of errantry.

The first references to him on Earth occur in a rare few Chinese documents of the late Han dynasty, where he is referred to as 卓越的豬 (the word "transcendent" can also be rendered as "remarkable"). Each description would be accurate in its own way, as the Pig's existence seems to freely -- indeed, effortlessly -- transcend the normal limitations of timespace, allowing him to be (at least nominally) everywhere at the same time. He wanders in and out of linear time like someone who has no particular need to pay attention to it, and physicality frequently warps or trembles around the Pig as if intent on either making his passage easy, or on getting the heck out of his way before something untoward happens. His conversation sometimes indicates that the Transcendent Pig's view of the universe is similar in some respects to that of beings skilled at colocation: he often describes things happening at a great distance, or at other times -- past or future -- as if they're happening to him right then. He is therefore an absolutely invaluable source of information and advice...if you can get him to give you any. The Pig rarely gives away advice for free: he charges the wizard in question what it's worth. This can be a considerable amount, in terms of time, energy, information, or whatever other valuta matters most to the wizard at the time.

Both the Manual and the Powers that Be are notably silent on the Transcendent Pig's origins. This may have to do with privacy issues, or (in the Powers' case) some faint sense of embarrassment, since apparently none of Them can remember having created the Pig. (This is the source of the uncertainty surrounding the word "creature" as applied to him). He seems -- so the Manual says -- to have always been here, or been around, right back to the universe's birth-time some billions of years ago.

As might be expected of any being with so peculiar, extensive, and clouded a history, the Pig bears a host of epithets such as "the Insoluble Enigma", "the physical expression of the Universe's sense of humor", "the spirit of Chaos made flesh", and so forth. But his actual name is a point on which there's some disagreement. Though wizards who meet him are frequently introduced to him as "Chao", it's not certain whether this is his personal name, or just another epithet: "chao" (sometimes also transliterated as "zhu" or "chu") is simply a Chinese word for "pig". Since wizards have some interest in names (especially in the Speech) as potential descriptors of a being's nature and abilities, the matter is of interest: but as in so many other cases where the Pig is involved, there are few certainties available, and mystery prevails.

There are a few references to the Transcendent Pig in Earthly mythology, including one in which he is accused of having devoured Erlang Shen (二郎神) -- a being who may have been a minor god or demigod, since he is described in some versions of the story as a nephew of the Jade Emperor of Heaven. Devouring anyone without good reason -- or, for that matter, devouring anyone for any reason at all -- seems rather out of character for the Pig. Considering this together with the description of Ehrlang's devourer ("huge and hideous, with a black face"), it starts to seem likely that the Pig has been confused with some other little-understood being...possibly one of the demons which are scattered all over the landscape of Chinese myth.

Despite the mystery surrounding the Pig, wizards who've met him normally describe him as interesting and fun to talk to...though he's routinely a little bored when, again and again, they ask the question that the Manual enjoins every wizard to ask him if they get a chance: "What is the meaning of life?" The general sense among wizards is that, if the Pig gets asked this question often enough, he may slip just once and answer it. So far, however, there is no record of this ever having happened. It certainly has not happened on the rare occasions when Nita and Kit have met Chao. In each of their cases, the Pig has turned aside the question with the same kind of casually friendly but rather ironic banter that almost all other wizards who've met the Pig have described. But then his whole basic attitude could probably be summed up in a line like "Am there, doing that, inventing the T-shirt": a sort of good-natured inability to be surprised by anything...because he's already seeing it a million years ago, a hundred thousand years in the future, and right now. (TWD, WAW)

(See also: Tung-fang Shuo.)