Qualic Scriptorium Building / Landmark in Istralar | World Anvil

Qualic Scriptorium

More than just a library, the Scriptorium records experiences. Sensations. Fleeting moments in our time experienced by subjective senses. Witness and wonder.
— Scriptorium assistant
  Nestled among the endless constructions and temples upon the black sands of the Boneyard is a peculiar building that seems more organic life than any structure a mortal could create. From loamy earth, its roots grow upwards into an intricate construction of wood and otherworldly metal, held together by molten magics and bathed in a golden glow.  
Qualic Scriptorium Interior by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
It does not stretch outward like a tree; instead, at its peak, it spears into the plane's sky and folds in on itself as glowing pathways lead out to its external branches.   This is the Qualic Scriptorium, an extraplanar library and museum of experiences and mortality. It is home to Sothime, a reclusive deity strongly linked to the psychopomps. As part of their realm, the Scriptorium's task is to carry out their grand endeavour: to collect instances of subjective, conscious experience, allowing the documentation of the entirety of existence through brief, individual moments and senses.   Their task is one that shall never be complete, yet this does not concern Sothime. The universe is improved for the Scriptorium's existence; it need not be utterly complete to be useful, and indeed, shall never contain every experience. It holds value as itself, with all its eccentricities - so long as it is maintained, and so long as the grand endeavour never ceases.
  And so the work continues, and the visitors come in stuttering bursts to a library of briefest snippets of time. It should come as little surprise that Sothime shares close links to Enhedha, the Scribe of Time; they are united in their drive to document.

Purpose / Function

Colour to the blind man and sound to the deaf. The taste of mother's fresh baking. The sensation of tears on your cheek. Each experience entirely anew, and each experience utterly unique - each saved here for eternity, to be witnessed and admired.
  As a library, the Scriptorium is a fantastic way for the curious to experience wide ranges of emotions and feeling across the span of existence. Though very few are granted unfettered access to the realm, it is common for extraplanar researchers to travel to the Scriptorium's gates to seek out odd sensations to draw inspiration from, to attempt to clarify their current research with, or to garner a greater understanding of psychology.   The Scriptorium specifically remains organised for the use of travellers; if Sothime was to catalogue it all alone, their own systems would function in a nigh incomprehensible manner.  
Sections are organised first according to the species and area they are from, and are then broken down into topics. A highly simplified version of this is as follows:  
  • Humanoid

    • Gnomes
      • Tastes
      • Colours
        • Blue
          • Blue in regular lighting
          • Blue at night
          • Blue at night reflecting on a surface
        • Red

    • Humans
      • Tastes
      • Colours
        • Blue
          • Blue in regular lighting
          • Blue at night
          • Blue at night reflecting on a surface
        • Red

Melidea River by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
Aisthex Prisms by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
  The individual qualia are stored in golden aisthex prisms in much the same way as a library contains its books, which are then suspended in liquid melidea. Simply touching the melidea surrounding a given aisthex prism allows the concept to permeate an individual's mind and experience it as if it were their own.  

Adding to the Scriptorium

You mean it's not just automatic?
— adventurer
Aisthex prism storage by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
Qualia are discovered and added to the Scriptorium by many varied means, but the two primary methods are tied deeply into the Scriptorium's presence on the Boneyard. The first method is that the souls of the dead, before judgement, filter very briefly through the golden lights surrounding the Scriptorium as they are filtered towards their final rest.   In this moment, the qualia attached to each and every memory are filtered into pure liquid melidea to be processed by the Scriptorium's many servitors and stored in their aisthex prisms.   The second method is more direct. By interfacing with both the Boneyard and the Astral Plane, the Scriptorium is able to collect qualia from every individual that teleports. Often, psychopomps serving Sothime will open small portals to other planes to enable the planar link so that more qualia may be obtained.
  Though this method does not compare to the collection of the dead, it is one of the few ways for Sothime to reliably obtain qualia from living mortals and outsiders alike. Notably, many outsiders choose to willingly teleport in the vicinity of the Scriptorium every few years to aid Sothime's eternal task, including other deities of equal or greater power to the Mind's Eye themselves.


To say there are many sensations would be an understatement of immense magnitude. If the Scriptorium were to be attacked, I suppose they'd just make someone experience all of those at once?
— pondering psychopomp
  As a deity's realm and an extraplanar location in the Realm of Death besides, the Scriptorium is under no threat of attack. However, if it were to come under an assault, it is better prepared than many other deific residences to defend itself. The strange nature of its innards leads regular travellers into confusing spirals; attackers would face the disorienting lifts and passages moving around them, as well.   Both the psychopomps and the Scriptorium's own innate servitors would have a deep understanding of their enemy's location due to the building's careful logging and tracking systems, and access throughout the facility is made easier for those who understand it best by the way it can be commanded.   There is also the threat of Sothime themselves, and the enigmatic deity has already ordered the use of stored qualia as weapons in past conflicts. They are not above repeating the act. It adds to the library, after all.
Qualic Scriptorium Exterior by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
Alternative Names
the Living Library
Parent Location
Characters in Location

Locating Information

A common question asked is how one would ever find the knowledge they need. Whilst the Scriptorium's sorting system is wonderful, it is the sentient servitors Sothime created to assist in their task that provide greater help. Though they are limited in intelligence, the servitors - known universally as the Melissa - are small golden constructs in a circular shape that possess articulated mechanical wings.   Though each servitor does not have the entire Scriptorium memorised, designated keepers retain specific sections and communicate cross-section queries with fast dancelike motions and sounds to allow seeking Melissa to flit from section to section to hone in on a desired qualia.  
Melissa Servitor by Hanhula (via Nijijourney)
Scriptorium Halls by Hanhula (via Midjourney)

What are qualia?

Qualia, the plural of quale, are a philosophical concept defining individual instances of subjective, conscious experience. These experiences aren't memories, dreams, or ideas: they are the sensations experienced.   The wetness of a tear, the taste of fine wine, the particular hue of the sky at dawn, and even the smell of a new book are all individual instances of qualia. Qualia are utterly unique: the way one individual experiences a sensation will never be the same as the way someone else does.   Ideasthesia is the phenomenon of evoking sensory experiences; this is what the Scriptorium seeks to invoke when an individual quale is experienced through the liquid melidea.
Scriptorium Heights by Hanhula (via Midjourney)

Cover image: Scriptorium cover by Hanhula (via Midjourney)


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Dec 26, 2022 22:06

The Qualic Scriptorium is a very intriguing concept, and the idea of a library containing individual moments and senses as a way to document and understand the entirety of existence is certainly unique.   However, the organization and function of the Scriptorium can seem a bit complicated, with details such as the filtering of souls and the use of servitors and crystal lattices could be further elaborated on. The mention of Sothime being a deity linked to psychopomps and having close ties to Enhedha raises questions about the mythology and cosmology of the world.

Dec 26, 2022 23:34 by Han

Thank you! The souls, servitors, and crystals are designed to eventually be expanded on in the articles for melidea, melissa, and aisthex prisms - since this was already getting so long, I deemed it worth leaving those til later.   Sothime now has an article that dives more into their mythology, and I expect to expand on Istralar's unique position in mythos and cosmos over the course of 2023 and beyond!

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Dec 29, 2022 15:32 by TJ Trewin

I am both inspired and yet also terrified of this place and its depth. Excellent concept! :D

Journals of Yesteryear

Jan 1, 2023 14:01 by Han

Thank you!! ♥ Please make sure to register your terror with your closest melissa servitor. ;)

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Dec 30, 2022 17:44 by Starfarer Theta

I was told some time ago that the answer to my particular problem could be found in reviewing my own experiences. I was just told recently that there is a place that records brief snippets of experiences in effort to record all of existence. That is an ambitious project and I respect them for it. Apparently it is a task without end, but then that's not unfamiliar to me. To learn more I'm going to have to go to the Boneyard. This could take a minute because I'm not sure if this is a story told to me at my expense.   (several entries later)   Apparently the Qualic Scriptorium- that is its full name- is in the Realm of Death. I'm not ready to go there just yet. Still, the idea is an interesting one. I must be losing it to have seriously considered it to be a place that could be reached. Lesson of the day, always learn more about what you are told. I should get back to my more practical studies. - Nemo, World Traveler

Dec 31, 2022 02:11 by Han

(( I adore this method of commenting, and your goal is a noble one. I would like to return your dedication with some advice for WorldAnvil. When you're using blockquotes, you can use | to indicate an author:   [quote]This is the contents of my quote.|Author[/quote]  

This is the contents of my quote.
— Author
  I hope this helps your fun! ))  
Nemo, lost traveller of worlds, finds meandering across their journal a small metallic orb with wings of crystal. It chimes at them in an array of bizarre notes, and deposits a honey-coloured ball containing a hexagonal crystal no larger than their palm onto the pages.   The ball is soft and squishy, and when held, a single brilliant moment of awe and understanding flickers through Nemo's mind: for this is an aisthex crystal, and that is the experience it holds. A gift to reward learning, and apologise for the distance.

welcome to my signature! check out istralar!
Dec 31, 2022 02:26 by Starfarer Theta

*head-desk* It didn't occur to me to try that in the comments. Thanks for letting me know! :D  

I just had a very unexpected visitor today. Through an intuition I don't readily understand, I know it is a gift and also an apology. An aisthex crystal, an experience sent to me. I will treasure this for sure.
— Nemo, World Traveler

Jan 6, 2023 00:09

Possibly my favourite article out of all of the ones I've seen! Such a unique idea. To me, the beehive concept is just brilliant (though it may be due to my love of bees) and the art to go with it truly creates a sense of wonder and awe. On top of that, the way the entire article is laid out makes it not only easy on the eyes, but to be honest, it's quite attractive. Good job!

Feb 3, 2023 09:53 by Han

Thank you so much for the kind words! I love that everyone got the bee references even though I never openly say it, haha. ♥

welcome to my signature! check out istralar!
Jan 14, 2023 02:52 by Aster Blackwell

So beautiful and mesmerizing! The loneliness of knowing that your experiences can never be perfectly shared with another is something I think about a lot. A library like this would be of great use to me in the real world, I think.

Feb 3, 2023 09:57 by Han

Thank you! It's potentially helpful to think that in reality, in our world, that library of experiences could very easily be somewhere in your memory. Our bodies remember and react to experiences we don't even know we had - they log things, even if our conscious memory doesn't.   Those moments of life, they aren't ever lost!

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Jan 26, 2023 23:52 by Angantyr

I've probably run through this article for a fifth time, or sixth, or seventh... I lost count. The amount of attention to detail gives me a warm feeling of relief — I love how the main theme of "fleeing/special moment" shows both in writing and form.

The meticulous and never-ending work of collecting qualia forming a honeycomb-like structure gave me an intriguing start and a general idea of hard work to achieve something great made of sweet, small droplets. When attacked, the Scriptorium can and probably will attack as a hive. I like that the sensations stored are generally painted in gentle colours but at the end of the article some sharpness is uncovered as well.

The graphic design is so cool! The part I love the most is that the shades of blue are dominant with the warm colours attracting (pun not intended, but another honey bee reference) attention, akin to small lights in the dark. It ties the whole piece in a way it's hard to describe. The second one is that the angle at which the two initial graphics are placed aligns with the darker sections of the night sky, just below the clouds.

Reading about Sothime and psychopomps left a hazy image, as I'm not familiar with the world and its mythology.

Are the qualia separated in any way, e.g., based on their similarity, like with multidimensional vectors broken down into base vectors? Have there been occurrences of very similar qualia (an oxymoron, I know, but the general idea is there)? Do qualia interact with the Scriptorium or with each other, e.g., by diffussion, or do they remain fully intact?

I had a great time reading that article and it gave me a good idea of what I should pursue while writing. Thank you for that!

  P.S. It is kinda amusing that by leaving a comment at this article we contribute to the greatness of the Scriptorium. :D

Playing around with words and worlds
Feb 3, 2023 10:00 by Han

Angantyr!!! This is so sweet ;w;   Gold lights in the depths of space is definitely the entire vibe I go for with Sothime and their Scriptorium; I'm really glad that comes through via the MJ art. I'm so glad the imagery and meaning comes through so strong to you, and hey - even by reading the article, you experience something, which might end up one day being captured in the Scriptorium!   The idea of qualia is that it's every single flicker of experience; it's actually a real-world term, not something I made up entirely. So there are similar ones, and I imagine it's very much organised in terms of category - then broken down into specific sections. There's probably a section on "witnessed the Scriptorium", even, haha. And they always remain intact - qualia aren't sentient or changeable, they are records of history and life!

welcome to my signature! check out istralar!