Today, I have come up with a few theories about what is going on in the arcane river, and what has been going on for quite some time now. A brief summary of the theories is:
-1: Kao is a lie created by The Black Mage.
-2: Ludibrum's portal to the past leads to another fabricated reality (much like the gate to the future in The Temple of Time)
-3: Spiegelmann is either another one of The Black Mage's commanders, or at the very least is one of his followers.
Let's begin by discussing Kao. According to their story, they are you from the future after having battled against The Black Mage, and losing due to lacking an essential power (Arcane Force). They allegedly used what remained of their power to travel back in time in order to prevent you from losing this power. They also give you your very first arcane symbol and convince you to gather the arcane force. This all sounds well and good until you ask a certain question; when did you (Kao) learn time travel?
Kao wasn't just thrown at you in The Temple of Time either. This falsehood began far before he ever turned up in The Temple of Time. Around level 105, your attention is directed towards a mysterious time portal atop Heleos tower in Ludibrium. After stepping through the portal, you find yourself in what appears to be Ellinia's past, where the future job instructors of the explorers have crash-landed after fleeing to Victoria Island when the six heroes began their fight against The Black Mage. Nearly everyone here seems to mistaken you for Kao, as it seems that you look identical to him/her. With a bit of reasoning from the recent events, the conclusion can be drawn that Kao time-traveled back into this time, but there is yet another hole in the scenario. The people talk about Kao as though it seems that they've known him for quite some time at this point, which would imply that Kao has been with them for a fairly long time, but the events taking place seem to occur very shortly after The Black Mage has been sealed away; too short for everyone to be that familiar with Kao. In other words, given the circumstances, it is impossible for that scenario to exist outside of a fabricated reality.
This misinformation was played before your eyes in order to make you susceptible to believing Kao through your own reasoning, but someone helped to set it all in motion. Someone who has been around for a long time, and quite possibly much longer than he would like you to think. Someone who takes selfies with some of Maple World's fiercest monsters, and was even witnessed in the process of creating one of them. If this and the summaries haven't made it obvious enough. I'm of course talking about Spiegelmann. Prior to the monster park revamp, monsters in the park would occasionally drop envelopes containing one of three photographs of Spiegelmann with Zakum, Horntail, and Von Leon. When confronted about the pictures, he attempts to dodge the subject entirely, bribing you with monster park coins, and then never discusses them again.
Why would the Black Mage even bother going through the trouble of all of this? Perhaps when Luminous was split from him, The Black Mage lost something which leaves him unable to harness Erda. Otherwise, it is possible that he would have already done it by now. What if the quest to harness arcane force is just you gathering up the power of Erdas in a vessel that The Black Mage can assimilate? (Ie You). What if this is all just one big trap?