Fortress of knowledge
lysters are the central facilities of the cognoscenti. They are only found in "major" cities. And no city ever has more than a single klyster. They are almost always found very near (or at) the city's center. Even for those who have never been inside a klyster's gates, the compounds are often a central landmark of their host cities.
Purpose / Function
lysters serve as operational bases for all cognoscenti who do not performs duties that require them to be among the populace. At the most basic level, they provide the cognoscenti with lodging, copious space to house their books and other research materials, and facilities within which they can conduct their research (including all manner of experiments). On a more formal level, the klysters have also, on numerous occasions, served as defensive and quasi-military fortifications for those same cognoscenti. When tensions have flared between the cognoscenti and their surrounding societies, they have frequently found themselves barricaded within their klysters' walls.
lyster design can vary greatly from continent-to-continent, from culture-to-culture, and even from city-to-city. But there are two features that are shared by almost all klysters.
The most obvious feature is the gates. Klysters are not simply buildings. They are compounds. Depending upon the scope of the surrounding society, those "gates" can be modest wooden fences, or they can be massive stone walls that rival the local government in terms of security and grandiosity. Throughout history, many a traveler has entered a foreign city and mistaken the local klyster as the seat of government.
Assuming one has been allowed inside those gates, the second consistent feature is the presence of a second layer of walls and gates. The inner gates are much more secure and they guard access to the sanctum. The casual visitor - a merchant, a patient, a student, or anyone really - might be allowed inside the first set of gates with minimal formality. But no one is ever allowed within the second set of gates unless they are a verified member of the cognoscenti.
very klyster features a single entrance to the first ring. And a single entrance to the sanctum. Some cognoscenti have noted that this is not always the wisest design strategy, because, during the darkest chapters in cognoscenti history, their opponents have used these single-points-of-entry to inflict massive loss of life, in short periods of time. But most klysters were initially architected millennia ago, and at this point it can be quite impractical to affect change.
he obvious denizens of klysters are the cognoscenti themselves. In more-isolated regions, it's typical that the only klyster denizens are cognoscenti. But this does not mean that a klyster is strictly exclusive to The Know.
Any klyster of sufficient size will feature two rings. The inner ring is completely encompassed by the outer, and is known amongst the cognoscenti as a sanctum. The cognoscenti keep close tabs on those admitted to either layer, but access to the initial, outer ring is much less stringent. But the sanctum is treated as the sole purview of the confirmed, trusted, and anointed members of The Know. In smaller klysters, the sanctum may be "guarded" by a junior member who gently ensures that no wanderers stray where they do not belong. In the largest klysters, stationed in the grandest of urban centers, the sanctum is delineated by a formal, fortified wall, and it is guarded - in every sense of the word - by armed sentinels. Formal cognoscenti policy dictates there shall never be anyone in a sanctum who is not an acknowledged member of The Know. Some of the more dramatic moments in the history of the order have occurred when monarchs, or other heads of state, have demanded access to a klyster sanctum.
The outer ring (the first ring that anyone would encounter when entering the facility) is not freely open to the public. But it's also subject to much less security, because the cognoscenti perform a great many functions here where the public is allowed (or required) to interact with them. Most klysters provide some type of public library, and this facility always rests in the outer ring. They frequently provide healthcare services to their local city, and the medical center is also in this outer ring. The initial ring serves as a staging ground where cognoscenti can interact with merchants. And if they entertain visitors, for any reason, they are also housed, met, and entertained in this outer layer.
here is no single architectural style that defines klysters. They are as varied as the cultures in which they exist. But regardless of style, almost all of them share the "trait" of being ostentatious. Most of them were founded millennia ago and enjoyed the benefit of being funded, over many generations, by a continual flow of wealthy benefactors. In some cultures, they were funded directly by the state. For those klysters existing in the largest urban centers, there is no such thing as "modesty". But those created with government funding tend to be the most audacious. In many cities, the klyster is the largest, most spectacular structure (or series of structures) in the local area.
Klysters are rather remarkable for their near-military trappings. Unfamiliar visitors would be forgiven for thinking that a city's klyster is, in fact, a military keep. There are numerous historical examples where a city's government fell to violent raiders, but the klyster was never breached. This overt display of architectural prowess has not always sat well amongst the local elites. The cognoscenti have typically viewed their fortresses as practical tools of self preservation. Only in recent years have some of their own come to question the necessity of these splendorous (and sturdy) edifices. Although no one can deny that they provide an obvious layer of physical security, recent detractors have pointed out that The Know, by virtue of building and maintaining these thinly-veiled military entrenchments, may, on some level, be responsible for engendering some of the suspicion that has occasionally been heaped upon them by leaders who are not secure in their reign.
lthough the cognoscenti started formalizing their practices soon after the death of Cervia Polonosa, they did not establish the first klyster until after the splintering of Auld Cervia in the Age of Expansion.
The first compound formally recognized as a klyster was established in Rinenmaa in 655 AoE in the capital city of Rinenge. Before this time, the cognoscenti had already been regularly collecting their documents in shared repositories and leveraging common spaces to exchange information. But the facility in Rinenge was the first to be recognized, both by the cognoscenti, and by the citizenry at large, as a klyster. Once the priori recognized the success of having a compound they could call their own - of the relative stability it lent to their pursuits - they made no secrets of sharing its benefits with neighboring cognoscenti. Within 500 years, nearly every major metropolitan area across Excilior had some kind of klyster near its city center. But it would take another thousand years before those facilities would be widely recognized as powerful civic forces marked by grandiose architectural projects.
- University / Educational complex