The First Librarian

My fellow citizens, it is with the deepest honour that I am presenting the first subject of this hundredth edition of Merinos' A Glance to the Pasts scholar festival   My name is Inkwood Bluebottom, and today I will tell you the story of a story. Indeed, together we will discuss the historical aspects surrounding the legendary tale of the Kunskaper. As some of you may know, the Kunskaper is a mythic figure that is at the origin of the modern society living in the Great Library. Lots of stories are told about him, including that he was a spirit in disguise, that he learned to be immortal, or that he didn't even existed. But before we discuss this together, let me give you an average version of the legend, so as to give a basis to our less taught auditors.  
Once upon a time, there was a scholar named Millarc Kunskaper. Kunskaper was a Sheherper, and was living in a small farming village. Although he was helping people around, most of the inhabitants thought of him as a crazy old man. He was spending his days sorting big books on tall shelves, or reading through rolls and rolls of papers.   Even though he was a weird person, Kunskaper was really liked by children, for he was a great storyteller. When he was telling his tales, listener could feel like their feet raising above the ground, like they were flying around the Cylinder.   Then, one day, he vanished.   For the first dozen days, people thought he was just working on some weird experiment of his, or simply travelling around the world. However, as he was not seen, people started asking themselves questions. After weeks, the chief of the village decided to enter Kunskaper's house. As he did so, people followed him, to discover a peculiar situation. Although the old man was nowhere to be found, the house looked like he only had left a few minutes ago: no dust seemed to have accumulated anywhere, a particularly severe case of no mold whatsoever was on the grain cellar, and the chimney was still warm.   Upon this puzzling discovery, the inhabitants of the village first thought that Kunskaper was still nearby : perhaps was he hiding, or indeed travelling. Still, as seasons and seasons passed, Kunskaper remained invisible, and his house wasn't changing of a tiny bit as time went.   As time passed, more and more people went seeing the small house where Kunskaper had lived and that was like frozen in time. As the visitors went, it was discovered that an intricate system of codes and secret messages had been hidden in documents of the library. The old man had left a real treasure of secret information, only waiting to be found, always leading to some bigger, more astonishing secrets.   The story of the Kunskaper's library became increasingly famous overtime, and new visitors started to change the house. Groups of scholars and conspirationists aside wanted to unveil more of the old man's secrets, and decided to settle around the library, building their own extensions to store more paper rolls and books. These groups of people attracted more groups of people, until the old house became completely unrecognizable, lost in the middle of the now great library that occupied a whole portion of the Merring delta. Some people say that the old house is still there, completely hidden in the library, and that it can show itself to the deservings of some dark secrets or a comforting tea by the ever warm chimney.
  Now before we discuss further, I want to warn you that this version is only one among thousands. It could be considered as an average of the tales orally told in the Wandrel and Sheherper cultures, who are generally thought to be the closest to the original story. However, the legend of the Kunskaper has been rearranged and told in a lot of cultures ! Among the nomadic tribe of the Carvaneers in the North, for example, the story of Bryophone Yerbioov talks about an old excentric nomad that allegedly disappeared suddenly while leaving a gigantic amount of books containing secret messages: thorough studies by our scientists proved that this legend is actually a version of the Kunskaper tale ! Closer to us in the city of Crookentoft, the story is much closer to what I have told you, except the name of Milliarc Kunskaper seems to be have been replaced by the name Milliarc Smothers, the name of the current ruling family of the city...   So, this legend seems to have a lot of variations all emerging from some "original" story. But what is this story? When did it happen? How much of it is true?   Well, we don't know for sure. But we have some clues ! Historians are often looking through old books to find some old versions of the Kunskaper story. The oldest one we found yet is more than a thousand and three hundred years, and has been found in a book that was retrieved from a monastery in the Eastern seas roughly nine hundred years ago. That means that the legend was already fairly old at that moment!   Another way the origin of the library is currently studied, is through codes and enigmas that can be found everywhere in old scientific books, and their link to the story of the old Kunskaper. Indeed, according to a lot of legend, the reason of the disappearance of Milliarc Kunskaper wasn't a proper death, but because he had found a great secret, like none had been unveiled before. Even today, a lot of people believe very seriously that he discovered something as big as a way to live inside the Spirit World without any physical body, or that he found a way to become immortal, like a god. For that reason, ever since the legend has appeared, a lot of people have been looking for clues regarding this secret. Their reports are often written in complex codes, or in very weird variations of the Sciencetongue runes. Incidentally, it is currently believed that the Sciencetongue, this runic language that looks like whirls of liquid and that most scholars use in their books, actually comes from some of those very old codes!   Finally, some people regularly attempt a last method to study the historical basis of the legend : they try to find the remains of the old house of Kunskaper. However, this is only rarely met with some success. Indeed, according to most legend, there is no reason the old house should be anywhere except in the library. Sadly, not one small wooden house with a surprisingly warm chimney has been found in the middle of the old galleries of the library, but three ! And all of them presented some pieces of furnitures and coins that prevented them from being much older than five hundred years for the oldest : far from what we would expect from the old Kunskaper's cabin...   In the end, even if it has not yet been established whether Milliarc Kunskaper actually had a secret or not, or even whether he was an actual person or not, one thing is certain: the legend of his disparition has influenced a lot the creation of the current library. It has played a role in the creation of the written language we scientists are using, as well as in the way we try to gather as much old information as possible in the endless galleries of the library.        
  This text is a written transcript from a seminar given by Inkwood Bluebottom for the opening of the fourteenth edition of the Let's Watch The Pasts festival, Merinos, 5531 AR.


Cover image: by Pouaseuille

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