The Locked Scroll of the First Floor Document in Cathedris | World Anvil

Cathedris Themesong

The Locked Scroll of the First Floor

Secrets locked behind secrets

Sure, take a look. None of us have been able to crack it yet. I bet it's something really important, like a message from Miyu to Avartarian.
here for bonus info
Comprilith Record Keeper
  Found somewhere on the first floor of The Comprilith nearly a year ago, the Locked Scroll is an uncracked enigma that has already become famous across nearly all of Cathedris. In classrooms, on lunch break, while drinking in pubs, a favourite topic of conversation for many is "tell me what you think is on the scroll!".   The scrolls itself is a fairly simple, if slightly elegant, cylindrical locking scroll. It has 6 rotating tabs on it with which a code may be input, and a single gray button to the side that most think will unlock the contents when the correct code is entered.  

The Discovery

One year ago, a team of 6 entered the Comprilith for a routine, low level excursion -- the Comprilith has countless floors, but they were intending to only explore the first one or two floors. The team was comprised of an equal mix of seasoned explorers, and junior explorers only on their 1st or 2nd trip into the tower. As far as any of them could tell, the excursion was as routine as could be; the time spent in the tower roughly equaled the passage of time outside the tower, and they returned with only one document -- the Locked Scroll.   However, the strange and unsettling part of the entire expedition is that, after exiting the tower, each member of the expedition had a different first-hand accounting of what they found. Stories varied wildly, with different locations, as well as different team organizations, in each account.

The Comprilith

The Comprilith is a strange and often times quite difficult place to explore. Time flows differently within its walls; some believe they spend 2 days exploring, only to find themselves exiting mere minutes after they had entered in the first place -- others find the opposite. While people never find themselves exiting the tower before they enter, extreme care must be taken in order to not vanish into the future.  
This place was built eons ago, by gods that ruled over space, time, and knowledge. It's gonna get weird in there, so say your prayers and prepare yourself for the worst.
— Exploration Leader

The Explorer's first hand accounts

Jaren Averson

  • Junior explorer
  • Went on to explore the tower another few times over the next year, but sadly vanished on his last trip.
  • Many expeditions are now named in memory of Jaren
  • It was my first trip in the tower, actually. And aye, I was the one that picked up the scroll. All six of us were together when we saw it - it was sitting in this massive pile of... what looked like pure junk. Now that I think about it though, I'm fairly certain that wasn't junk -- I'm pretty sure it was a pile of similarly locked scrolls. What made this one stand out to me? I have no idea. It was just the first thing I saw, the first thing I knew I had to grab.

    So there we were, Jaren and I somehow slightly separated from the rest of my crew, when we saw it. There were these two pedestals, immediately next to each other in the middle of a large and open area, with the scroll sitting right on top of them. It was like time was frozen in that second, it lasted for ages as I stood there. I shook my head to clear my mind, grabbed the scroll, and then we joined the others. Strangely enough, they told us we were only gone for a second, too.

    Michelle Vance

  • Experienced Comprilith explorer
  • After the confusing first hand accounts from this trip, vowed to never enter the Comprilith again
  • Later on, opened a coffee shop in Russin

  • Roland Achterberg

  • Ex Legion operative turned Comprilith explorer
  • Generally used as protection services, as they're knowledgable in many dangers, not just Rendlings
  • Has continued to work and explore the Comprilith since then
  • I was all on my own -- as was everyone else, I think. We had gone for the spread-out-and-cover-more-ground method of operation, like we usually do. I count myself as very lucky, because I was the one that found the scroll! It was weird, though. It was in this room that I had passed through many times while exploring -- I think it was my eighth time in there. And suddenly, there the scroll was, sitting in the middle of the floor.

    Two explorers had decided to go off on their own, leaving the rest of us to wonder why they had left. Jaren was with us and he seemed unconcerned, so we didn't worry about it and continued to explore as a slightly smaller group. We found this room that looked like someone had intentionally sabotaged it -- every chair, table, and desk had one of their four legs removed, and nothing stood properly anymore. I found the scroll in that room, wobbling on top of an unstable table near the edge of the room.

    Blerta Gagliardi

  • Junior explorer
  • Has since gone on to explore the Comprilith more than any other in the last year, with more successful item retrievals than any other within the same amount of time
  • Has climbed the ranks, and is now a team lead for future explorations

  • Albor Borislov

  • Experienced explorer
  • Still goes into the Comprilith with some regularity, although less than he used to
  • Appears to be obsessed with cracking the code for the Locked Scroll -- at all times, he is talking about or discussing possible combinations
  • It was so strange, the instant we entered the Comprilith, there was one fewer of us. Scared the shit out of us all, even the experienced ones -- so the rest of the time we spent looking for them. We eventually began to explore this hallway with numerous doors to find them -- and twelve doors in, we found them. Strangely enough though, just three rooms before we found them, I checked a room, and there was the locked scroll, sitting in the middle of a dusty room.

    We had agreed early on to split the group into two -- much easier to cover more ground, and there was enough of us that we'd be safe in our smaller groups. Me and my group were tasked with checking the bookshelves, and were finding the usual things: hundreds of serialized fiction books throughout the ages, nothing too important to grab. I was idly pulling books off the shelves when I found it, this ornate scroll, hiding behind the third book in this random series of books.

    Eden Pederson

  • Most experienced explorer
  • Just like Albor, she has become obsessed with the Locked Scroll
  • No longer goes into the Comprilith, but instead serves as record keeper for the items brought out, in the hopes one will give a clue to the scroll's combination


    The Theory

    The scroll itself offers no hints or insight as to what its code is -- there are no distinguishing markings, apart from the numbers on the tabs themselves. This has lead many to believe that there must be environmental clues to the secret of the scroll; some think the strangeness surrounding the first-hand accounts of discovery must contain the key. Most theorize that the number of explorers present during each accounted discovery, as well as situational hints from within the explorers tales, must have something to do with the combination for the scroll.

    On the Nature of We Few

    From the Musings of Qur

      The memories come to me, to us, in dreams. I have talked with the others. It is always dreams.   The memories of beginnings. The memories of before. The memories from outside. Are they real? It's hard to say. They feel real. Their effects are real -- it shapes my actions just as it shapes the others. But within those actions -- within the memories -- lay the true oddities about them all. Why are we so different? Why do my memories of the beginning drive me to create, to build, while Miyu's drive her to combat? Why is Sharenskus called to the ocean, while Farad takes to the mountains?   The Seed. The Shard. The Knife. These symbols -- items? How many are there? They keep flashing through my fitful dreams. My memories of the beginning. I think they might be older than We Few.   The others know them too. Sometimes by different signs, different names, but they know them just the same. We all see them. We all feel their presence.   In the before.   And after the end?  

    Cut it open? Are you mad? Look at the craftsmanship of the lock housing! The beautiful brass dials, and delicate lettering! He'an help, there's no way we'd ever cut this thing open.
    here for bonus info
    — Aghast keeper of the Lock


    Cover image: by Taylor Wilcox


    Please Login in order to comment!
    15 Jul, 2021 20:22

    I'm ... I'm going to defenestrate my 3-article evening goal trying to figure this out.

    15 Jul, 2021 20:26

    Oh no! Summer Camp comes first, code cracking comes later! xD   I have no idea if I made the code too hard or not, so if I don't see anyone crack it in a few days time, I'll update the authors notes with a hint, probably!

    15 Jul, 2021 20:39

    I think the scroll talks about some ancient, feathered dresses. Honestly one of my favorite bits of fantasy clothing is feather-trains.

    15 Jul, 2021 20:45

    Oooo, what an excellent theory -- the first one I've seen, too! That could definitely be something the scroll hides within -- patterns of ancient fashionable dresses would be an incredible find <3   Thanks for the comment :D

    Eternal Sage AmélieIS
    Amélie I. S. Debruyne
    15 Jul, 2021 20:46

    Oh great article! Very mysterious... This seems like an interesting tower!   Given how ominous the whole accounts are, I don't think the message would be just some innocent letter. I'd expect some weird magic to occur or some curse of something affecting all the people around when it's open like with the pyramids :D Everyone should be devoured by scarabs :p

    To see what I am up to: SC list of articles and goals.
    15 Jul, 2021 20:57

    Thank you so much Amelie!   There's some realllllllly weird stuff in the Comprilith -- it's a place that exists both within and outside of space AND time, so stuff gets strange inside. I could definitely see some sort of crazy, insect or scarab related curse being unleashed by it!   Thank you! <3 :D

    15 Jul, 2021 21:45

    "I think inside the scroll is a recipe for some godly beef stew"   I'm so sorry for cracking the code without actually knowing him. I was just curious if I can do it on another way than the regular one (you know, backdoors and so^^').   But indeed this is an epic article (as always). Even if I currently don't understand much of your world (my english isn't the best) it's just awesome to watch and look at each of your pictures and the effects you use.   Keep going with your world, it's (for me) the best in WA.

    15 Jul, 2021 23:31

    That sounds like it'd be some good stew :D   No worries! The lock definitely isn't impenetrable, and can be unlocked in some other sneaky ways! :D   And thank you so much, I really appreciate it <3 That is really a huge compliment, and it means a lot :)

    15 Jul, 2021 22:07

    So many numbers! That combo lock is SUCH a cool feature! Pretty ominous that the explorers had such varied accounts of the discovery. I certainly am with Michelle Vance after that trip: retire early and make coffee. XD I'm thinking what's inside the scroll is an ancient constellation map, with a Cathedris version of Ursa minor or something. :D

    You are doing a great job! Keep creating; I believe in you!
    Luridity: Where love is love and life is lived. Contains NSFW content.
    Now with serialized fiction on Ream!!
    15 Jul, 2021 23:33

    Playing with the combo lock was so much fun omg :D   Honestly, yeah, I like her plan too! I'm a fan of the spooky and the mysterious, that's why I like writing it, but even that'd be too much for me D:   Ooooh, big star maps! Good idea! Maybe some big Rendling bear or something!

    15 Jul, 2021 22:46

    I think the scroll contains the last words of Sir Henry Bacon!

    15 Jul, 2021 23:37

    Ahah! It could definitely be that! He probably got in there ages ago, hamming up the place!

    15 Jul, 2021 23:21

    Really really clever, and really great code. :D   I think what's inside the scroll is some kind of dimensional hopping spell.

    Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
    15 Jul, 2021 23:39

    Thank you so much Emy! I had an incredible amount of fun with this :D   I like that idea too, finding some magic would make it totally worth it! Screw pulling a rabbit out of a hat, we're gettin some long distance travel magic here!

    16 Jul, 2021 07:57

    Very cool little puzzle. Personally, I'm curious about what the scroll inside is made of. Possibly parchment or vellum?   I love the article, and the puzzle was very engaging. Very well done!

    16 Jul, 2021 08:18

    Thank you very much! Hmm, that's a good question, it certainly could be some kind of animal skin!

    16 Jul, 2021 08:23

    Also whoops, it seems like that private comment wasn't actually private! Seems you cannot leave private replies to public comments? I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to quickly delete that just to save future readers from spoilers! Feel free to leave another separate private comment if you want a response -- but I appreciate having my typo pointed out, and I agree that one of the accounts could use some reworking to better fit the puzzle in general <3

    16 Jul, 2021 15:29

    I- I do not have the mental brainpower to solve this code but that's not gonna stop me!   I know a lot of people have said it but the combo lock is really cool, and this is such a cool article :)

    You should check out the The 5 Shudake, if you want of course.
    16 Jul, 2021 21:22

    You've got the brainpower to do anything! All the info is there, it's possible :D   And thank you very much! I'm so happy this whole thing worked out :)

    16 Jul, 2021 16:04

    Fantastic article! Now, my brain is gonna MAKE me crack the code before doing anything else. xD

    Feel free to check out my WIP novel, His Mate!
    16 Jul, 2021 21:22

    Oh noooooo, summer camp comes first! This lock will always be here, you can come back and crack the code later :D   And also thank you for reading and the comment :D

    17 Jul, 2021 01:54

    Ooops. Brain is already fried cuz of it. xD

    Feel free to check out my WIP novel, His Mate!
    17 Jul, 2021 14:19

    Lovely article! I really really love the use of these locked scrolls, especially since the combination is hidden within the article- you got me scrambling for clues like a camel looking for a needle in a haystack (thats how the expression goes, right)?   In the mean time, here is my guess as to whats in the scroll- an old rejuvenating serum with organic, non-vegan ingredients!

    Creator of Arda Almayed
    18 Jul, 2021 04:39

    Thank you so much TC! It was a blast setting it all up :D And yes, I'm almost certain that's how the expression goes ;D

    19 Jul, 2021 18:13

    Why, oh why? I have to... 3? 8? 7? 0? What is the code? What is in the scroll?! Anyway, panic moment aside, I do like this and envy your CSS work since I can't even come close to this awesome work. Especially your CSS work that is really special and well done! The article itself is also really good for a interactive mystery!

    Worldkeymaster, also known as A of Worldkeymaster.
    You are welcome to explore Nimenra, a world in conflict between Humans and Demons.
    My summer camp articles and half-finished pledge document: Summer Camp 2022
    19 Jul, 2021 19:56

    The numbers! What do they mean!?   Thank you so much! This started off as an excuse to show off that locking spoiler, but I really enjoyed building the puzzle around it and I'm glad the article itself was enjoyable as well :)

    2 Aug, 2021 02:15

    So this is a really fun article. I was really intrigued by the mystery of all the accounts. Then got a little obsessed once I realized it was actually a code that needed to be broken. Now I feel crazy. So thanks for all these emotions. :)

    Choose your poison:   Phasmatum: An Afro-Solar-Fantasy world created for my epic novels.
    Adazuri: A shonen-inspired magitech fantasy world home-brewed for 5e.
    2 Aug, 2021 20:08

    Thank you so much! It was really enjoyable putting it all together, and totally not just an excuse to have a cool code thing at the end of it xD

    2 Aug, 2021 03:34

    I hope there's a nice leather scroll inside with another code to crack.

    Choose your poison:   Phasmatum: An Afro-Solar-Fantasy world created for my epic novels.
    Adazuri: A shonen-inspired magitech fantasy world home-brewed for 5e.
    2 Aug, 2021 20:09

    Codes within codes? Genius! And leather would be a nice touch.   I wonder what's inside the coded scroll within THIS coded scroll though o.o

    Eternal Sage LauraVAB
    Laura VanArendonk Baugh
    5 Aug, 2021 13:59

    Fun article, and lovely layout. Nice work.

    20 May, 2022 00:57

    I loved the puzzle aspect to this! Also, I was thinking it'd be kind of darkly funny if it's actually just a trap and there's like venom in the ink or something when you open it.

    20 May, 2022 18:18

    Secret trapped scrolls! What a great idea :O   Actually, funnily enough, "venom in the ink" now *really* makes me want to worldbuild some sort of octopus or squid with venomous ink...   Thank you for reading and leaving a wonderful comment! <3 :D

    31 Aug, 2022 18:02

    Got it! ;D So exciting when it finally clicked. This is an awesome puzzle! And the reward is a puzzle in of itself!

    1 Sep, 2022 00:02

    Yay! So glad to hear that :D I hope the reward felt worth it -- I'm thinking of doing more of these scrolls, with more mysterious information inside as rewards

    1 Sep, 2022 00:32

    I thought it was worth it! It makes me feel clever, now that I know something that nobody in-world knows

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