SummaryA dragon innovation of ages long past, the torzei, or 'draconic memory cube' in scholarly venacular, is a critical part of their civilizations. While not always in a cube shape, it is usually geometric and simplistic in its overall construction. The torzei itself is made of two defining components: the outer protective shell, and the interior liquid crystal. Very early or rudimentary versions substitute the liquid crystal for thin metal wafers. The shell is usually a hardy and durable substance, from simple metals to exotics like celestial blackstone. It is typically enscribed upon, decorated, and treated with great care as to emphasize who made it and what it contains. Being functionally timeless, the preservation of written knowledge is a problem for dragonkind (and other immortals). While their memories do not directly degrade, circumstances, biases, and other issues may cause prior history to distort. Worse, recording this themselves makes it liable to degrade over time, forcing them to record it again for preservation. Eventually there is so much knowledge 'worth saving' that more time is spent caretaking it than living life itself. Sacrifices invariably must be made, but dragons hate forgetting anything, and so it spurred their engineers for many eons to work. While stones and metals sufficed for the most important of knowledge, it wasn't equitable. Dragons had to write smaller and smaller to fit more information in the same space, or else storage would be a nightmare. Some, however, began to wonder how small exactly they could write. When they could no longer discern how to write with eye-assisting tools, they turned to magical arts. This era is largely considered the 'proto-torzei', as it is where the wafer-design originated from. Incredible amounts of information squeezed down into such tiny spaces, but the dragons couldn't read it anymore. To solve that ridiculous problem, they worked on creating a form of magic that could read back what was being written. It must be said that while this is spoken of generally, dragons were far less cooperative that far back in history. While the issues were universal, their egoistical natures and long-standing familial divides kept them from working together properly. So it was many of them reinvented and developed the same methodologies, wasting countless years in doing so. A small price to pay, as far as any of them cared. It would be Kaldontso, a revered engineer and eccentric of water magic, that made a world-changing breakthrough. She made an obsessive argument that a liquid medium of some variety would suffice for storing knowledge. How to do so eluded her, and notoriously made her a subject of great ridicule. One cannot write on water and have it stay for long, after all. She begrudgingly agreed, but in pushing the boundaries of acceptable development time, figured out a method. It involved two components: liquified crystals (crysium, diamonds, etc) and a particular magic that could both arrange the liquid crystal and read the resulting nature. That is, a dragon could use a terminal, tools, or magic to inscribe information into the torzei. The torzei itself could then be made to read back this information using those same devices. More than a two-dimensional slate, Kaldontso had created a three-dimensional storage medium that could hold exponentially more knowledge than any dragon ever dreamed of. As she famously said, "I could fit all the world into this if I had the time to write about it". Later scholars would argue that she may have been inspired by the shermadi storytail, but there is no direct evidence. Those who knew of her at the time attested she wouldn't have bothered studying fish people for inspiration. The now realized torzei became perhaps the most coveted thing any dragon could own. Wealth and prestige alike flocked to Kaldontso, and her invention spread across Veltrona's draconic populations. All sorts of knock offs and adaptations followed as a result. Dragons began making torzei for every detailed purpose they needed, from a store's shopping menus to the gravebound secrets of royal families. Those containing the ancient knowledge of ancestral bloodlines were often the most valued of all. Small, innocuous vaults loaded with the pure and priceless information of eons inside of them. To possess one, and be able to access it, could bestow unimaginable power to the reader. Torzei are hilariously expensive to manufacture. Cheaper designs can suffice, but the liquid crystal core and necessary magics are not easy to skimp on. Combined with dragonkind's notorious unwillingness to share their technologies, all other peoples struggled to learn, let alone imitate, the torzei. Those who were especially favored may have received them, but these exceptions weren't enough for widespread adoption. Overall, the torzei remains largely a draconic innovation not seen outside of their territories. It should be noted that torzei themselves have ridiculous amounts of security built into them. Whether it is the other peoples or each other, dragons will not let their belongings be stolen easily. Since the liquid crystal itself is virtually impossible to understand without magic, they sought to secure the magic that could read it. Hence, the invention of some truly insane security procedures that insure no one who shouldn't, will never get inside one. Mindfully, these are for torzei possessing dangerous or valuable knowledge. The grocer's torzei is thankfully not that sophisticated.
Mechanics & Inner Workings
While the shell contains the liquid crystal, magic is the third piece that makes it all work. It arranges the liquid crystal, 'writing' and 'reading' the resulting state. This information is then passed to the operator, usually to a terminal's glass pane, magically writing it in the air, or some other method of conveyance. The torzei itself does nothing beyond this–it cannot compute, do actions on its own based on conditions, or other self-driving properties. Despite its fanciful nature, it is best envisioned as an extraordinarily elaborate, rewritable book. One that can hold a truly obscene amount of writing.
Practically redefining knowledge storage for dragonkind, the torzei quite literally changed their world. It wasn't hard for other species to see this impact, even while they struggled to capitalize on it themselves. Knowing that the dragons could do so much with something so little, however, led them down their own paths of imitation or unique development. It could be said the torzei's shadow has led to numerous innovations within education and knowledge storage, indirectly or not.
Book / Document