Originally posted on MSPA
: ἐγκυκλοπαιδεία (Literally “Encyclopedia”, more accurately “The Universal Encyclopedia”)
Anaminendes the Scholar
: None, though both archivists were once male.
: Literature (Possessed Omniscient Encyclopedia)
A Villainous Blue (#000044)
A Scholarly Green (#006633)
Vex finished his preparations with clinical precision, mindful of the irritating tendency explosives had to ruin an otherwise impeccable setup. While getting his hands on the precision charges hadn’t been too problematic due to his contacts, smuggling them into the Middle East had been another matter altogether. Even his extensive criminal network had trouble infiltrating that historically fractious region, and he’d barely evaded a SysAuth patrol making his way through the heavily policed area to the remote, insignificant valley he’d been scouring for the past three days.
Well, if what he had come to this ironically godforsaken land for actually lay behind the wall now rigged to blow at least he wouldn’t have to worry about patrols on the way out. Hell, he wouldn’t have to worry about the entire galactic military for that matter. It had taken years of inquiry, three separate high-security heists and millions upon millions of credits before he had finally tracked it down to a tomb, buried within the very gorge he currently stood in.
Vex scrambled across the square, vaulting over a diminutive cobble wall that had seen millennia pass without a visitor – and likely never one as strange as the young man now crouched against it, detonator in hand. Quickly glancing back over the barrier at his handiwork, Vex allowed himself a wry grin at the brilliantly red Ardayne Industries logo stamped onto the explosives shining out of the overcast night’s gloom. They ringed what his painstaking research insisted was an expertly concealed gateway. His father might have done his utmost to stifle Vex’s ambitions and desires, but it was his company’s armaments now ensuring that Vex would ascend to potential undreamt-of by the old man.
He’d probably just have gone on about ‘restraint’ and recited Icarus again
Vex reflected, somewhat pettily. For all the apparent “good” his father had done the man had simply had no goals past ensuring the system-wide arms trade remained thoroughly legitimate. Where he could have ruled the sector he had opted to serve it, and it had taken Vex all of a few months to dismantle what his father had worked decades to assemble – a testament, in Vex’s eyes, to the underlying weaknesses of the old man’s philosophy. For what was progress without ambition to drive it, without someone to take the helm and steer it?
Snapping out of his reverie, Vex hunkered down behind the cobbles once more, the partially entombed windows and doorways of the ancient village he had rediscovered resembling earthen arbiters condemning his imminent sacrilege. Their eyes found no guilt within Vex - he had performed far less palatable acts in his pursuit of power than disturbing ruins almost forgotten by time. A zephyr coasted across the square, the dust and sand trailing in its wake a prequel to what was to come. Vex depressed the detonator.
A deep WHUMP
echoed across the small square, promptly swallowed by the valley’s ruins - almost as if it was ashamed of the arrant desecration occurring within its confines. Vex peeked over the cobblestone wall to behold a crescendo of dust and soil whirling and crumbling around what was unmistakably the start of a passage.
Scooping up his backpack, Vex confidently plunged into the murk.
He had hardly descended two fleeting flights of stairs before he reached his destination. The tomb was almost habitable even after thousands of years of neglect, and from the ventilation shafts carved into the surrounding stone it might very well have served as a home once upon a time. Vex moved swiftly, scanning each room with a plasma-fuelled flashlight that provided a stark contrast to the perfectly preserved furniture and tools scattered throughout the abode, as if whoever had lived there had simply vanished and forgotten to clean up their scrolls and dishes. Any archaeologists or historian’s dream was studiously ignored by Vex, who had only one item in mind.
There was no question about it, this had to be Anaminendes’ home – and, if his information correct, the legendary scholar’s tomb as well.
Vex hadn’t mentioned his expedition’s purpose to any of his lieutenants – he knew far better than to trust any of them with sensitive information, much less the fact that he was in essence chasing after legends and myths. They might very well have considered him insane on the spot and started working to undermine his authority – no, much better they all think he was after a runaway whistleblower or a valuable piece of art. As his flashlight floated from room to room in his hands, its turquoise glow bathing wall after wall Vex persisted in his ruminations.
The Hellene Codex was unambiguous, those markings at the entrance to the valley, on the entrance to this place – the encyclopedia must be somewhere in this damn house.
Thus it was in a decidedly anticlimactic fashion that Vex, lost in thought, turned into a room off a peripheral hallway expecting yet another closet filled to the brim with bookshelves or ink supplies. Instead he found a small room containing nothing but a masterfully crafted wooden end table upon which rested a velvet cushion, shining a deep black in his flashlight’s beam. And on that cushion it sat, elegantly bound. As he stared at the volume, the scintillatingly golden letters impressed on its cover twisted, seemingly distorted by his presence, before settling into perfectly legible English.
The Universal Encyclopædia
So enthralled was Vex by the pristine artifact that sat in front of him that he hardly noticed the faint outline of a skeleton on the ground he strode across to further examine the encyclopedia. If it was even a fraction of what his investigations suggested, it contained the information to launch human civilization into a new golden age – or the information to bring the entire galactic sector, no, the entire galaxy
under his control. Vex was rather partial to the second option. He found himself holding his breath, fingers trembling and reaching out to brush something he had spent five years, a fifth of his lifespan, to find. Vex forced himself to breathe – while he was certainly in awe of his discovery he would not allow the book such power over him. He withdrew, hastily steeling himself before his hand shot out again, moving to open the encyclopedia.
His consciousness fled the instant his hand came into contact with the cover.
Time passed. Or perhaps it did not. Infinite, finite, long, short – those terms had no meaning within the ἐγκυκλοπαιδεία, for it was not constrained by time or space.
I had quite……
about that countermeasure…
When Vex woke up, his first groggy thought was to wonder whether the Encyclopedia was safe. This was quickly followed by the alarming realization that he could not, in fact, feel his body. Proprioception having deserted him his confusion grew as he realized he had been rendered utterly senseless – only his thoughts remained. His thoughts, and the fading memory of a voice. He slipped back into darkness.
You must learn…
Energy sped through Vex’s bod- min- consciousness, he supposed? – and his eyes shot open. He found himself in a void, empty save for an ethereal stick of a vaguely Greek man in a green toga a few meters away. Wait, not quite empty – flitting across the periphery of his vision was a roaring stream of information, more than his mind could possibly filter, more than it could even conceive, flowing on and on, overwhelming his thoughts, pulling him into the flow, his mind diving int-
The man slapped him, a peculiar sensation considering Vex had no body, and the torrent evaporated.
You cannot handle browsing ἐγκυκλοπαιδεία, not in your state. Control yourself, you certainly have the requisite willpower for the task.
Vex was indignant. Who was this greybeard, to lecture him on self-control? His father had tried that, and-
Oh yes, I’m sure you think your father regretted his choices when his orbital shuttle crashed, Mr. Ardayne. You think many things, many of them false. As it stands you are not close to the man I would have chosen to be my successor as Archivist, but better to have you in here than out there –
A window opened in the inky blackness beside them. Vex saw himself collapsed beneath the book’s podium, and as he surreally realized that he was irrevocably dead the window snapped shut
– using my work for your own unsavory ends. That was why I cursed the damn thing in the first place – after what my deity did to it its possible benefits were far outweighed by the threat it posed in the wrong hands – your hands among them.
Vex floated mutely, coming to realize that the man – no, ghost
he stood across from was none other than the mythical author of the Encyclopedia, Anaminendes the Scholar. Who had apparently made sure that Vex was trapped, for all eternity, within the very volume he had been intent on stealing. Not that eternity meant anything to the Encyclopedia if everything he had read about it was true – which as it seemed was rather likely.
Now, that jolt I gave you should provide you with enough expertise to keep your consciousness from frying before you determine how to conduct your duties. Regrettably waiting three millennia for you has quite spent my consciousness, and as such I must bid you farewell. I might still be around in some form, but this is likely the last-
Anaminendes’ form wavered and split like some cheap 21st century hologram before bursting into wisps of color which swiftly dispersed in various directions, leaving Vex quite alone.
One of the most salient skills criminality had instilled into Vex was the ability to think on his feet, an ability he quickly put to use despite a noticeable lack of extremities.
Well. Might as well take stock.
It was in that instant that the book, and the Archivists trapped within, was wrenched into an alternate dimension on the whims of an entity beyond even ἐγκυκλοπαιδεία’s knowledge.
ἐγκυκλοπαιδεία is, in essence, a universe. More specifically, it is a record of everything ever to occur in the universe it was created in, up to the point where it was whisked out of that universe to participate in a Grand Battle.
Originally created by Anaminendes of Troy (known in the few histories that refer to him as Anaminendes the Scholar) as an encyclopedia of, in his words, “all the world and its many wonders”, the ambition of the project intrigued a vagary deity who had grown irrevocably bored. The god (whose name is lost due to his actions with the Encyclopedia) repeatedly blessed Anaminendes’ work, expanding and empowering it until eventually he grew so enamored of the project that he lost himself within it. The Encyclopedia, once a simple parchment-and-ink document, was infused with deific potential and began to record all the world and its wonders – from an omniscient perspective.
Anaminendes, realizing that this spelled doom if men with impure motivations laid hands on the book and that if it remained in civilization that end would inevitably come to pass, travelled to a remote, recently abandoned ruin and set to work. Having learned a few tricks from his patron he manipulated the Encylopedia’s energies to entrap whatever minds touched the book after placing it on the pedestal Vex discovered some three thousand years later. He then bricked up the entrance, trapping himself with the Encyclopedia and diving into it to become the first Archivist.
The duties of an Archivist are much less daunting than they might seem at first. Organization does not even factor into them, as the Encyclopedia does such simple tasks on its own. Archivists have two primary tasks – the first, to guide the flows of energy throughout the Encyclopedia to ensure that no data is corrupted or misplaced, which can have catastrophic cascade effects if left unchecked. The second is to defend the Encyclopedia against any threats, a task that was never relevant during Anaminendes’ tenure as the Encyclopedia had spent three millennia in a deserted cave.
The Encyclopedia itself is an immeasurably elegant dark blue book, its title (both on the spine and cover) a golden inlay that warps to display itself in whatever language the current reader is most familiar with. It is surprisingly thin with pages of crisp parchment, and words and images floating to the page being viewed on demand – closer to a modern internet browser than a traditional book, though one that reads the reader’s mind rather than waiting for manual requests.
The curse laid upon it by Anaminendes will not survive inter-dimensional travel, but fragments of it would temporarily protect it from harm while Vex figures out how to defend it (and by extension himself). As it has no record of itself it paradoxically does not exist within the universe it is recording, making it nigh-impossible for an Archivist to escape – not that they would have anywhere to escape to, the body they came from being deceased.
The Encyclopedia is more resistant to damage than a regular paper, parchment or papyrus book, but can still be harmed by anything that would fell its lesser compatriots – whether that be fire, prolonged exposure to water or simple brute force. The consequences of destroying the Encyclopedia or even parts of it are unexplored, in all likelihood for good reason.
Anaminendes curated the Encyclopedia (and with it an entire universe) for around three thousand years, and as such his tragically human psyche has been irrevocably scattered across its pages. While these wisps of thought can still form coherent guidance at times, his speech to Vex was likely his last sentient act.
Vex Ardayne, the only son of a powerful and benevolent arms magnate, was above all ambitious in life. His new status as an archivist has likely not dampened this trait, nor his rather inflated ego – though some time gazing into the entirety of his universe might puncture it somewhat (or perhaps not). While he has almost no control over the Encyclopedia at the time of being whisked into the Fearsome Encounter, it’s likely his wits and Anaminendes’ gift of knowledge will accelerate the learning process significantly.
The trans-dimensional warp into the Fearsome Encounter might very well have lasting effects upon the Encyclopedia, as it has been separated from its original dimension and the universe it was bound to record. What exactly these effects may be is unknown, but they will likely expand upon the abilities an Archivist could call on in its original universe. Anaminendes made almost no use of them past basic browsing and maintenance, having isolated the Encyclopedia for fear of others abusing its power – leaving Vex to learn to control these powers with essentially no help.
The most basic ability of an Archivist is to browse through and maintain the integrity of the Encyclopedia. Though difficult to sift through past concepts the Archivist is familiar with, over time this vital ability becomes almost instinctive.
Telekinetic control over the Encyclopedia, once mastered, theoretically allows a serving Archivist to propel the volume at potentially ludicrous speeds, though at most a few meters into the air – the farther the encyclopedia is from a solid surface (most ubiquitously the ground) the weaker this telekinesis became. It can also shield the Encyclopedia from harm and, in dire cases, be used as a weapon. It also allows the Archivist to view and generally interact with the world outside the Encyclopedia, much like Anaminendes opened a window to the book's location earlier (though that was an advanced technique, a basic Archivist can only view events from a perspective locked to the book).
The Encyclopedia also had the ability to project illusory duplicates of any entry out of its pages for study at any scale, provided the Archivist possessed sufficient control and mastery of the Encyclopedia and their own mental processes, and a capability to imagine the article. While a display such as a full-size supernova would be theoretically possible, Anaminendes was never foolish enough to attempt one, and it would require such mental discipline and intrinsic knowledge of the Encyclopedia that it is doubtful Vex would ever reach the point where he could pursue one. This also ignores the fact that their human consciousness’s could likely never grasp the full scale of a supernova and thus wouldn’t be able to imagine one in the first place. Smaller and more manageable duplicates are however certainly within Vex’s grasp.