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Archivist Art - Scrudac, Efermeni, Zenyecrot
The seeds of Dema's Archivist/Eltayan culture were planted in the far past by The Grand Missionary Shiran Imyaliv and that great first Heroic Era figure known only as The Archivist, who would reappear at various points in history. Their teachings would spread from ancient Etherea to the other major settlements of the Athenaeum, most prominently Aegis and Luminos. From there, the pious would scatter to the far corners of the world, setting off with a clarity of purpose few cultures could equal.
Archivists who practice their faith of The Million Step Path of Zenyecrot believe that the mysterious and powerful Eldertech items are religious relics left behind from a previous, majestic Archivist civilization that once covered every corner of Dema. The faithful believe that it is up to them to create this rise in the present, so that time itself will fold into a closed loop where the past happens because of the future. Transcending mortality would mean to perceive all times of one’s conscious life occurring at once in a permanent enlightenment. To this end, they believe that the Eldertech needs to be worshiped and revered. Every last bit must be collected from those who would misuse and misunderstand its importance, delaying their religion’s great journey.
A meticulous written record of each piece of Eldertech’s form, function, and record of use in domestic life or warfare is kept on paper scrolls dozens of feet tall. These pieces are called Scrudac. They are the reason the Eltayan species are known as “Archivists” in the wider world. Intricate artwork, layers of scholarly commentaries, logistical records, and kaleidoscopic illuminations are added by dozens of guilds of artists called the Zhiscusdah, or "Orders of the Brushstroke," to create geometric masterpieces on every wall-sized Scrudac canvas. The many thousands of scrolls are kept in Etherean temple library archives after being glossed with clear lakan resin to preserve the text.
These Scrudac archives are second in importance only to the Eldertech item repositories themselves. In the Heroic Era, the more outwardly prominent Ethereans gave rise to this name applying to their entire species abroad, as curious Humans and Featherfolk interacted with the wandering Archivist abbots and cenobites creating art and writing on their travels to be returned to the homeland alongside the relics.
In a way, daily life for many back in the Athenaeum is thus carefully planned around the creation of more art. Curiously, few Archivists will seek out these mastercrafted Scrudac records after glimpsing them on pilgrimage but once for a brief ritualized viewing. Afterwards, the temple librarians lock the scrudac away in ponderous Archive chambers otherwise visited only for the occasional cleaning. According to Zenyecrot, once an Archive is complete, it will have always existed, and will continue to exist, and thus needs minimal further care in the present. Having seen the entire content of the scroll in a single viewing, The Million Step Path will one day allow faithful Archivists to inhabit that viewing eternally, appreciating all their folk’s labor and knowledge collectively at all times.
While Luminosi and Aegic Archivists keep critical, treasured, but relatively smaller archives, the Etherean records are without equal. Great pilgrimage circuits visiting every settlement's major shrines and repositories are a central aspiration of Archivists in The Athenaeum. Some are drawn to a specific martial discipline or scholarly field so much that they resettle their families near an associated library. Others are dedicated to heroes and legends from Archivist folklore, even frivolous ones like elderly Perunir, who allegedly helped Indrika, Queen of The Animals, to banish the Great Zmey that tried to swallow the sun.
In Etherea, The Council of the Zdarlyti will seek to contain state secrets or the most divine interpretations of their people’s work by painstakingly crafting rainbow mandalas out of sand. These are the Efermeni. Once completed, a vigil is held by the Council for one whole day, studying every last detail while struggling to contain their bodies in their heightened flow state. The Efermeni is then swept away. It is up to the Council to have retained enough of what was recorded to spread accurate wisdom and edicts to their Etherean subjects. Any Archivist will theoretically be able to hold the Council accountable once their utopia is achieved, as all will one day be able to look upon the Efermeni and how their knowledge was acted on by Etherean leadership. The leadership of Aegis and Luminos looks at such blind senses of trust as unacceptable, and disagree often with their sister city over ideology and foreign policy.
The Million Step Path of Zenyecrot
"Uncouth of you to call us shortsighted. Archivists are anything but. After all, time is a circle. Our minds stay fixed on what has the ultimate meaning in each never-ending curve of life. Of any life, truly. We prepare for the return of what has been before and what must ultimately be again. Who do you think left the Eldertech behind in this world for you, the young, to stumble upon in your blindness? Who else could have endured so long as to cover Dema in civilization from one end to the other in your mythic past? We. Archivists are the Precursors, the Yavganta Eltayan, first and greatest minds to ponder the Eternal Mystery, The Million Step Path of Zenyecrot.
You must think we believe our greatest deeds are consigned to the past. Unreachable and shrouded in fantasy, like the peaks of the Dragon’s Spine Mountains. I assure you, Zenyecrot is no idle nostalgia. We do not lament the loss of the Effulgent times. We must ensure they happen to begin with!
It is for this return we have Zenyecrot, the unwavering cause laid out by the first Archivist of Etherea. The numberless years quake at our self-mastery of Zenyecrot. Every scrudac crafted grows our knowledge to its former and future heights. The restraint and discipline we practitioners seek in the present shall usher in our transcendence to the start and end of creation. There we will forge the foundations for all that has been and all that will come. Starting on the last and first day, we will face for the millionth time the decay of our utopia into what you see in the miserable state of Dema today. This is our duty. Our privilege. Our unceasing burden to ascend to such peaks only to see our efforts crumble back into the dust.
It is for this reason that we have left behind the Eldertech for ourselves to use here in the Primeval. Every moment scrutinizing its construction and artifice hastens the return of the Effulgent. The first Archivist directed us to scour the world for these long-laid clues, these keys to the mystery of our ascent. We must possess and decipher as much of it as we can acquire so that the Athenaeum will thrive. We do this in spite of constant interference. Through Eldertech and deep thought, we will journey beyond the self to a new plane of existence, one untouched by the young and blind.
May we follow The Archivist’s steps off this circuit. He walks with us still, hewing centuries from his cold sleep to direct our labors. On the promised day, the sand shall run upward and downward in the dial simultaneously. We will ascend so high as to never fall again. To simply claim the right to Be, without the indignity of Self Cessation or the labor of Becoming. Paradise without end. But only for those who do not waver on the Million Step Path.
That is why you and your sun goddess perplex me. The idea of one Final Victory is so small. What happens to the generations who will not live to see it? But I will not quibble over our rival scriptures. You could have journeyed to the shores of the Midnight Sea, the baking Sunbleak Wastes, the darkest heart of the Hive Halls, the lowest slums or most archaic forests and glades in your own Light Plains. There, you’d have found Archivists spiritually identical to myself on the same Million Step Path of Zenyecrot. Having asked your questions, you would have received the same answers I am giving you now.
Ah, but my brothers and sisters would not have satisfied you. You had to hear the doctrine from its source. I regret to inform you that even I am not the highest authority. That role belongs only to The Archivist. I am afraid even the Council is ignorant as to where he spends these days. Do not entertain fantasies of surprising him with your philosophy. One gets the feeling he has seen it all before. Should you track him down, tell him Zaydir sends his greetings.
Now, I suppose you will want your bonds unshackled. I am terribly sorry about your companions. We would have answered had you knocked politely."
Bishop Zaydir, Recorded from His Audience with Emissary Flavius
of the Church of Sola, Scrolls of Etherea, 63 LS.
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