The Encyclopedia Item in Imnnocan | World Anvil

The Encyclopedia

"The Encyclopedia? The "Container of alllll Knowledge"? Meh. It isn't much to look at - just a small book bound in a maroon-dyed linen with a golden rune embossed on it. That's it. Really! Ok, sure, the linen is of the finest quality, and the rune is made of pure gold. But I'm not even sure why they call it a book. It only has one page in it, and it's blank!"
— Truthsayer scribe

The Origin

  Bereo Ikorsoll, the creator of the book, had a never-ending thirst for knowledge. He had no ambitions to use this knowledge for anything like the pursuit of power, or wealth, or even philanthropy. Indeed, the only goal Bereo had was to simply know the fact of the thing, the fact of every thing.   Bereo's only problem was, though he knew a tremendous amount, he would sometimes forget a thing...or two. Now, to Bereo, not knowing was simply a task for the next day. However, forgetting was an ultimate, cataclysmic failure. Because, the act of having to refresh his memory about a thing interrupted his learning of everything else still to know.   So, Bereo decided to create a book that could hold every single bit of information obtained over the years. Though remembering would always be paramount, forgetting would, at least, no longer disrupt his quest for knowledge. Luckily, he already had all of the information necessary to construct such a book in his head.  
Knowledge is not wisdom.
— Revered Mother
  The physical book was easy enough. Borea simply had it made at a local book binder in a style he liked. The ink took slightly more effort as it included a miniscule amount of shigyl powder. The rune, however, took decades. At first glance it may appear that the rune was drawn by a child. However, anyone familiar with the ancient runes understand that precision is critical, especially for the more powerful inscriptions. Therefore, every nudge, every change in thickness or length, every imprecise line was precisely as it needed to be.  
Precision is the finest expression of knowing.
— Bereo Ikorsoll
  Bereo worked tirelessly until he finished the rune. Those that knew him and what he was doing joked that he had taken a job as a Waking Night Attendant due to the wide-eyed stare he got from concentrating on his work night after day after night. Finally finished, he placed his hand on his work, and he felt it. He felt every bit of his knowledge being transferred into the book and knew he had created something extraordinary.   His elation turned to horror, however, when he realized that he had not known that this would come at a cost. It came at the cost of him forgetting everything, including himself, as all of his knowledge was transferred to the book. Desperate to end the transfer, he tried to remove his hand from the rune, but could not. The last thing he knew was also the last thing that would be taken from him, the knowledge that he would never know anything ever again.  
"Bereo! Bereo! Wake up! Mnorishell, come quick!"  
"What's wrong?"
  "It's Bereo! I found him with his hand on his book. He's just staring at nothing."  
"Damned fool! Damned fool!. You did it, and now look at what you've done."
  "What should we do?"  
"I don't know. Retrieve a Reverend Mother and a Truthsayer. Maybe they will know."

The Legend

As time passed, the book became legend and was given the name, "The Encyclopedia of Bereo" or, simply, "The Encyclopedia". Sapiens learned that if they had a question, they could find the answer by putting their hand on the book and simply asking. If the book, or Bereo - if you prefer, knew the answer, it would be written in Bereo's hand on the blank page in the book. Extra pages would be magically created if necessary, only to disappear when the book was closed again.  

The Price

There were costs, however, as Bereo's thirst for knowledge persisted in the book. So only the desperate, daring, or damned ever sought answers from it.   The first price was incurred if the book knew the answer. Every bit of knowledge gained incurred some degree of knowledge lost. It could be as simple as the name of a street, as poignant as your grandmother's apple pie recipe, or as dramatic as your entire identity. Either way, that which was lost could never be relearned, no matter how many times or ways you tried.   The second price was incurred if the book did not know the answer. The inquirer would then find themselves singularly compelled to do whatever it took to discover the answer - no matter what. When the task was complete, they would then return, with equal compulsion, to the book and place their hand upon its cover. The book would take the answer from them, perversely never allowing them to know it from that moment on.
"I need to know!"  
"It's not worth the risk!"
  "But I need to know if he is having an affair!"  
"But you know he isn't! He loves you!"
  "But how do I know that for sure! If the book knows, then I would know and be ok. Encyclopedia, is my husband having an affair?"  
"See, I told you your husband wasn't having an affair."
  "Huh? What? Husband? I don't remember having a husband."
The Encyclopedia Rune
by Bereo Ikorskoll
Item type
Book / Document
4 ounces
4 inches by 6 inches

Cover image: by Paige Ghra


Please Login in order to comment!
Jul 18, 2021 05:16 by William Belley

A nice artefact and i love the aftermath it can cause.A someone that tends to extremely hate forgetting stuff i felt compelled by his quest to avoid that predicament. Some questions:

  • The original maker, what happened to him ? did he went into a brainless husk , forgetting even how to breathe ?
  • The knowledge the book steals, does it keeps it to itself like 'collecting' it ? it could be a good way for the book to know some new things over time, like how that lady asked for the husband affair.
  • Happy Summercamp !

    Jul 18, 2021 12:01

    Thank you so much for the feedback. I will definitely add these to the article as they make it clearer for sure. He forgot everything he "knew" or "learned". Automatic nervous system functions do not apply. So one can think of it as being made into a baby again. IRL, human babies must "learn" to feed from a nipple, and as you cannot learn something again once you give the information to the book, he's basically stuck as a newborn, and eventually died. But that is GREAT info to add.   My example of the book needs to be rewritten. It's a great "parable" of the dangers of the book more than an actual example. Technically, the reason the book knew is that is must have gotten the information fromsomeone else. But as people don't consult the book often, the odds of that are slim. Since Bereo is "in there" of a sorts, I' intended it to gain a sentience eventually. But I couldn't figure out at the time how to work that in. I'll consider it today.   Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed my work. Happy Summercamping!

    Jul 23, 2021 03:45 by Cassandra Sojourn

    This is an incredible backstory for an artifact. I especially like the costs that come for people using the Encyclopedia. "Knowledge is not Wisdom" great use of quote here.

    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.
    Jul 23, 2021 11:33

    Thank you for your feedback. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I certainly enjoyed writing it.

    Aug 2, 2021 00:08 by E. Christopher Clark

    Oh my, you hooked me right from the beginning here. I was super-into Bereo's story from the get-go, and ready to scroll down and throw a Like at this right away. But the writing was compelling enough that I didn't dare scroll ahead. And then you gave us that great section on "The Price" at the end—brilliant!

    Check out my progress on the Cabinet of Curiosities
    Aug 2, 2021 01:23

    Thank you so much for taking the time to read it and for your feedback! It was super fun to write. I like using stories as the medium to convey information. I appreciate so much when someone enjoys them.

    Aug 6, 2021 05:09 by Laura VanArendonk Baugh

    Excellent. I love magic with a cost. :D

    Aug 6, 2021 11:47

    Thank you for reading. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Yes, Poor Bereo.

    Aug 6, 2021 08:44 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

    This is a great article! The price to use that encyclopaedia is really chilling...

    To see what I am up to: World Ember 2023 list of articles.
    Aug 6, 2021 11:48

    Thank you for reading. Yeah, I'd have to be pretty desperate to use it myself.