"A wise individual once expressed [to me] that knowledge has, since times…[immemorial], served, arguably, as the root of all of this world's troubles; and, one should hazard to say the source of any problems surfacing even in worlds beyond our own. At the time, I could not help but acquiesce to a level of [truth] in those words, though I posited a revision, that it is the abuse of knowledge that causes...such issues. We cannot deny that those resulting difficulties are but one side of the scales that simultaneously [burdens and] uplifts our realities. For as much [as knowledge] has given way to problems, it is also used in the [procuring] of their solutions. This interaction thus births a [dialectic] that persists through the ages. A cycle, as some may put it. Infinite. As knowledge is, will be, and, arguably, should be.
Now, think of all those woes caused by knowledge. And then multiply them by the magnitude which magic can affect [our world]...As ludicrous as it may seem to attribute any sort of [positive aspect] to that event, the conflict with the Scourge has done us a great favor in [emphasizing] the constant need for understanding and for caution in that understanding, of magic. For [this], we must...commit all to the utmost extent of our capability to curbing [ignorance], to avoid the repetition of the past. And there are few betters ways to achieve [as such], than an archive for the ages for the present and for posterity to analyze and evaluate, and to an extent, protect, the knowledge of old...All for the betterment [of our world] for generations to come."
PurposeThe Archives Infinium (referred to as either the “Archives” or the “Infinium” in casual speak) is, first and foremost, an extensive library holding millennia worth of magical books and scholarship discovered and completed by members of the Arcane Society. However, the span of its contents also extends to records of the circumstances of those individuals responsible for the aforementioned scholarship (including the current events, cultures, and the state of the world, among other subjects, throughout the Eras). Furthermore, the Archives Infinium holds portions of the scarce records and documents dating back to the First Era which survived the cataclysmic conflict with the Scourge. At its establishment, the Arcane Society erred on the side of prudence and focused on safeguarding the contents of the library. In the present day, the Archives Infinium serve as a premier information source for magical and historical studies, though all facets of academia may find pertinent knowledge within its walls. The public and a majority of the Arcane Society’s members still only receive limited access to the the Archives Infinium, requiring varying levels of bureaucracy based on the level of information required. Only the Grand Magister possesses full access to the contents of the Archives Infinium and has the authority to designate certain individuals, notably the Magisters Magni, with greater clearance. However, the breadth of the regularly available content remains conducive to the production of new scholarship, which subsequently maintains the library’s ever expanding nature.
From the period when the Archives Infinium were still located on the Isle of Faen, the exterior of the library resembled a white marbled dome that had a diameter of nearly three hundred feet, almost a quarter of the size of the island itself. Entrance into the structure was gained through a massive corridor connected to the tower of the Grand Arcaneum, named Meslraine's Walk. Since its relocation, the style of the Archives Infinium's outside remains to be defined, as the changes to the inside over the millennia have distorted theories regarding its frameworks. In the present, the interior of the Archives Infinium utilizes the same white marble material as the outside. However, the floor plans otherwise betray little relation to the exterior's dome shape. Passing through the corridor leads directly into the Hallway Majoris. This hallway is more akin to a massive gap that spans the entire length of the library which also divides the floors of the library. Through the space, a visitor can see and (attempt to) count the numerous floors, each half connected to the other by any manners of bridge or walkways. Similar to the lobby of the Grand Arcaneum, the ceiling of the Archives Infinium perpetually reflects the sky of above the tower. Beyond this main section of Archives Infinium, multitudes of hallways lead away to areas designated for private study, presentation, and other similar meetings as well as the restricted sections of the library.
In the early years following its founding, the Arcane Society invested considerably in gathering and curbing access to books, accounts, and other records regarding highly advanced magics. They prioritized securing articles specifically related to the Scourge and the related conflict. The Archmage Vyliar’faeien designed a vault to house the physical materials to safeguard the sensitive and dangerous information within. The creation of this vault, however, established the foundation for the complex that would become the Archives Infinium. The repository of knowledge continued to grow alongside the organization, though access to its contents remained barred to all but the Grand Magister and the members of the Magisters Magni. In 487 2E, the construction for the Archives Infinium complex formally began on a section of the Isle of Faen, several years after the Vyliar’faeien stepped down from the position of Grand Magister. The process set off the Arcane Society’s gradual movement to make select works within its repositories available for scholarly use. In 504 2E, the Arcane Society completed the library's constructions, and the Archives Infinium at last opened its doors to the members of the Arcane Society, over fifty years since its construction began. Select pieces from the original vault joined the inaugural batch of materials available in the Archives Infinium. The next millennium saw a surge in magical scholarship—ranging from the mundane to the fantastic, but most being retrospective—which subsequently expanded the contents of the library. The establishment of agreements with other archives and major libraries also allowed for further expansion of its repertoire. By 600 3E, the sheer volume of knowledge located within the Archives Infinium, and continued interest for its contents, sparked a motion for additional construction, eventually leading to its relocation. Over the course of a decade, the complex was moved to an altogether unknown location by the Arcane Society’s most elite mages. Access to Archives Infinium continued to be conducted through the Grand Arcaneum, but even with the added layer of security, traffic into the massive library and demand for its contents did not waiver by any degree. Over the course of the next three millennia, the Archives Infinium maintained a monopoly on magical scholarship on Varia and upheld a reputation for reliability in its use for works by the intelligentsia. Due to the Avonian Accords, the Archives Infinium continued to operate generally unimpeded during times of exacerbated belligerence on Varia, even with the involvement of powers in the proximity of the Grand Arcaneum. However, there are notable declines in the records of scholarship during these periods as the Arcane Society tightens its standards for requests to access the library, and notably describes the trend of submissions for scholarly work within the organization over the last fifty years.
Cultural SignificanceThe Archives Infinium has fueled millennia's worth of scholarship through sheer volume of information alone. The library, whether physically or metaphorically, has been at the heart, if not a cornerstone at the least, for most of Varia's major cultural and intellectual movements since its initial construction in the Second Era. In the thousand or so years following its opening, the library acted as the launching point for studies regarding magical speculation, along with the debates regarding magic's place in our world and appropriate use. Furthermore, the actual physical of the Archives Infinium has been the subject of a number of notable pieces of art. It also perpetuated the usage of magic in construction and architecture, which arguably had its greatest effect on the establishment of major settlements during the Second Era. The mystique and wonderment regarding the existence of the Archives Infinium has inspired tales, poetry, and other forms of literature. The number of visiting scholars the Archives Infinium receives each year can also be noted to contribute to the generally cosmopolitan attitudes possessed by the modern body of members of the Arcane Society, not to mention the financial boons that such traffic provides to the nearby city of Curieux.
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