This is the story of Taborlin the Great, which is in itself just a small part of the greater tale of Lanre. By now you should have read and absorbed many of my earlier pieces and should try to believe them to be true with your most powerful alar since they are now the stilts on which we are going to be walking on here. I have formed the various parts so far into separate strings and now is the right time for many of these strings to come together into one acceptable looking knot. Now whilst it is true that other knots might be available, this is my interpretation of how best to continue impossible quest tale and to reach for the light at the end of the tunnel, so follow me, I have a candle and I think I know the way…. Now, pulling all of these similar sounding strings together is tricky work, and this piece is moreso since we are working with more and more obscure references, sometimes just a line, maybe even just a word, perhaps we have to admit that’s is just a best guess but one thread at a time is the motto now, carefully working six strings under and over until they become three and three and then we can hopefully continue weaving these new strings into a tapestry. The first three strings up are our old friends Who, Where and When.
‘ All around him was nothing but smooth hard stone. It was a cell no man had ever escaped.
This is part of the ‘authorised version’ of the tales of TTG which Old Cob and Elodin both quote verbatim among the many other classic lines told about him. We know a lot more about the nature of stone than we used to now but it’s the last few words of the quote which holds our focus here, No man had ever escaped. Starting with an open mind we must agree that this means mankind as there might be some women prisoners. The text clearly states that Taborlin was not the first man to be imprisoned here, and furthermore, we can suggest that if any of these previous inmates are still alive then it follows that they would still be imprisoned somewhere in there, too, because of their having never escaped! Since TTG’s cell is solitary confinement then these other-men will be similarly incarcerated alone, elsewhere in the cellblock. So the word cell might actually be inferring that no man had ever escaped from this prison before… Until now that is.
If there were any other inmates then they should be totally oblivious to TTG’s imprisonment or escape, cut off from all such news trapped within their own solitary windowless and doorless stone cell walls. But if we are chasing for a Who? then we should ask who might these other unfortunate miscreants be? what crimes might they have committed to command this most extreme form of incarceration? and who else might have had the power to imprison them there in the first place? Smaller and smaller the questions become and yet answers can be gleaned still, all backed up by the small print.
We saw the inside of another cell when we visited Haven and to be imprisoned in such a situation we can parallel to Elodin’s own, we can assume that all these other-men inmates were, at the very least, powerful arcanists otherwise the utilising of a more normal cell would have sufficed to house them safely away from society. This means that a different who made up of , even more powerful arcanists must therefore be the ones who did the imprisoning act. They would also have needed the power to have built such a cage for their enemies in the first place, which puts TTG as the central figure in a tug-o-war arcanist power struggle. A clue as to who one of his fellow inmate arcanists might be named comes from Old Cob who informs us that in TTG’s cell…
‘the lamps on the wall were burning blue. Do you know what that meant, boy?’
That’s right, the chandrian, but whether this effect is being caused by another prisoner in a nearby cell or by one of the arcane prison guards is unknown. But only one man in Temerant causes this unnatural effect and so it should be true to say that Cyphus, bearer of the blue flame, was definitely in the vicinity of the prison that day. Marten’s version seems to tie up the knot nicely by giving the name of TTG’s captor as Scyphus the wizard king, although Marten makes no mention the blue flames part, not even when TTG burns down his front door! His tale also suggests that TTG’s cell was deep underground rather than in a high tower. All in all, I rather suspect that Marten has muddled up two different stories together, and is therefore not as reliable as the true authorised version. Perhaps the copper sword he mentions is another example of poor storytelling. But however we look at the veracity of our clues the indications are clear. This cellblock is an arcanists prison built for other arcane people and the chandrian are a key part of Taborlin’s current history. We can also decuce from Marten’s tale that the chandrian are also among the enemies of TTG.
Whilst this prison could be located anywhere in the world, DM Pat doesn’t lay his clues out that way, he always plays fair with us. So if he is running true to form then there will surely be further clues as to where this prison cell is and that finding the true location will cross reference to things read elsewhere in these books for confirmation. So, can you think of a tall structure made all of smooth grey stone, without any little windows or any door to speak of? A place that was built by arcanists, for arcanists and with, perhaps, a famous place having some classic allusion to the ever blowing wind close nearby?
‘So Taborlin fell, but he did not despair. For he knew the names of the wind, and so the wind obeyed him. He spoke to the wind and it cradled and caressed him. It bore him to the ground as gently as a puff of thistledown and set him on his feet as soft as a mother’s kiss.’
These are some more classic lines from the tales of Taborlin, lines which every storyteller knows off by heart as the old tale is passed faithfully down over time, lines such as this are gospel and this addition of the name of the wind cradling his fall confirms a goodly height for Taborlin’s cell in the prison tower. That Marten has him emerging from below after his escape shall be dealt with later, but in the classic version of this tale I will bet you a jot that the exact piece of ground where TTG touched down so lightly has another name in these books and that this courtyard is also named The House of Wind, or the Quoyan Hayal if you prefer. This would be the perfect location for TTG to have called the wind from if you think like me that the University’s library will be the actual stone tower from which TTG so famously escaped. You can believe this to be so with your strongest alar, TTG was locked in the library with the Chandrian. And so with this piece of the knot in place we can start to imagine things from a more familiar perspective.
‘Some stories say Taborlin the Great went there to learn the names of all things.’
So was Taborlin once a student at the university? Not knowing enough about the life and times of TTG’s exploits we might wonder if he was ever around at the same time to have ever fallen foul of the powerful wizards of the arcanum. Now it is very well known that Taborlin the great knew the names of all things and so whilst he may have arrived as a student, he left as the Master Namer.
Now, as for the When part, Master Elodin tells us that the University was built on the ruins of an earlier university, and since the archives building is the focal point of the whole complex that should really make it among the oldest parts of the campus. History is a tricky subject when the history books are suspect, but we can approximate the age of the Archive’s first use as a library to some 300 years ago, thanks to the statement from Fela, who works in the building and knows it’s history as having had ‘at least nine different filing systems in the last 300 years’. This indicates to me ‘since records began’ and therefore to be the time scale of the building’s total use as a library. This timeline will also nicely intersect with the demise of the Amyr and an end to the days of burning arcanists at the stake by the local populace. Exact dates are fuzzy things but all these 300 odd years old clues from various sources all tie up nicely enough to suggest that three centuries ago there was a major shift of alignment from one thing to another, a power shift towards the more academic pursuits, and less towards the ‘meddling with dark forces’ approach. Perhaps a change in ownership occurred which gave the suddenly unemployed Amyr Ciridae an HQ to operate from hiding in plain sight? This may at first suggest that 300 years is the age of the building, but it would be more likely that this installment is only the most recent change to the archives building’s history.
Before this time we know that there was an even older university on this site where students played in the house of the wind in the same place it has always been, and at the heart of that university campus was a secret cabal of name-knowers called the Arcanum who clearly held great power and dominion over the names of many things from their studies. This Arcanum would have been the most likely candidates to have built the great stone structure , possibly as a seat of learning since they alone had the necessary power to build things so.
But at some point in it’s history the archives building was clearly designated as a Chandrian proof prison, indeed this would most likely be its original purpose and the library came later as an afterthought. One small link still remains today to associate the building’s history with that of the chandrian and these are the cryptic words carved above its only door ‘Vorfelan Rhinata Morie’ where Rhinata is, (in another chapter), clearly going to be translated to the adem word rhinta, which as we all know are a group of ‘men who are more than men, yet less than men.’ which is Exactly the sort of men for whom such a prison would need to be constructed for in the first place. All in all this makes the Archives original purpose to be ‘a cell from which no rhinta had ever escaped.’
Thats far enough down the rabbit hole for today, the next episode should hopefully cover the how, why and what of things, see you again in February. Stay SafR