How Old Archive Came To Be
Now, despite all of the comparisons made to one, the Archive is not a solid block of grey stone as a waystone undoubtedly is.Yet nor is it exactly a hollow stone egg either, and so we ought to best think of it as being like a perfectly formed termite mound, in that it is honeycombed with many hidden passages and cavernous chambers, dotted throughout like lots of little pockets. Above ground these windowless walls house six stone floors and therefore six high ceilings which provide storage for thousands of books on miles of bookshelves that line all of it’s countless corridors. It also has hidden reading rooms, assorted offices and diverse departments for all the industrious scrivs and there are also lots of staircases, both up and down, to knit everywhere together in perfect secrecy behind the only ingress of the two massive stone doors. And every single inch of it, every wall and floor and step and door is all made out of same, solid, seamless grey stone.
Most ‘normal’ looking buildings are built around timber frames or out of bricks and mortar… This is not one of them. Some walls are made out of larger kinds of bricks, called blocks, which are then stacked together into the shape of castles and barrows and ting. This is not one of them either. Neither were it’s walls constructed like the beautiful walls of the Adem’s low stone houses, Oh no. When an arcanist builds a house he does so in an orderly and efficient and mathematically correct fashion and to achieve this he will employ all of the artifice that he has at his disposal.
He could, for example, use Sygaldry in the design and so carve the rune for rock (resin) into the long edges of two rather large and perfectly quarried slabs of squared off greystone. Then, on hoisting them both upright together, using an appropriate winch of course, the two matching runes would bond these sheets together into one perfect right angle as tightly as if they had been mortared in place, problem sorted, jobs a goodun. But we are told by Kvothe that this action simply would not work as what it would actually do is cause the two stone walls to actively tear each other apart with the arcane forces involved, destroying each other in the process.
Builders bricks are made of a ceramic mixture and are fired in a kiln, and when using bricks to build in more arcane ways there are some clever rune-tricks that you could employ during the brick-making process in order to avoid this kind of destruction from happening. When making a brick you might, for example, mix in some clay or iron and in doing so alter it’s overall composition until it is fit to bear such runes…. if we were using bricks, which we are not.
These walls were constructed out of smooth grey stone, not ceramics, and since all stone is one stone you couldn’t use this method without first turning said stone into a kind of magical concrete to absorb the strain, although that line of thinking does offer up one possible solution to the problem. You just need to find a way to dissolve all of your grey stone together with some added clay, or iron, or whatever, and then to find a way to reform it all back into one big mass that can then be squared off and fired into the individual grey walls just like if you were working with pottery.
The walls of Haven are visibly similar to those of the Archives in that they too are made of smooth, grey stone and we get to see them up close and personal when we are in Elodin’s old restraining room. His cell walls were, once upon a time, built from solid stone that was a full foot thick, but some time since he broke free from his confinement, they (the masters,) have not only repaired the damage but also improved on the original design somewhat and in doing so have fundamentally changed the very fabric of the wall from what it was before to what it is now, which was rather clever of them actually. In doing this they have somehow managed to incorporate network of copper wiring into said walls which now runs inside of this foot thick stone barrier. The mind boggles at how a normal builder would manage to accomplish this without resorting to knocking the whole house down and strarting again, but to a cabal of powerful arcanists the answer was much more obvious. They did it by using the Name of stone as their tool.
Elodin used this longname to deconstruct one wall right in front of our eyes by simply asking it to BREAK for him, which it eventually did, and so Elodin asked and the stone acquiesced and the wall to which he spoke moved to his desire and it changed from being one piece of solid stone into a pile of fine gravel which then fell away as dross and left a mess on the (still solid) stone floor for the cleaners to sort out. Elodin could likely have turned the whole building, floor and all, into sand if he really desired to, but that would have been folly. Alternatively he could have asked the stone to just bend for him, and it would have done so equally willingly, just like when Auri commands her candling things, ‘and all things bent to please her’. Fela turns a pebble into a perfect ring by using the name of stone and Elodin will obviously have made his own such ring once before to show his own control over the name of stone. Perhaps his control might be compared to that of Taborlin the Great who famously used his naming powers when he commanded the similar sounding stone of his own prison walls to BREAK! and the stone broke, and tore itself apart cleanly like a sheet of paper.
These are just some examples of what might be done with the power of naming in Pat’s world, such things are possible and so the name of stone is therefore the perfect tool for a master builder to employ when working their will upon the shape of the world.
With examples such as these as a guide it wouldn’t be much of a step for us to imagine Haven’s arcane architects employing their own namers in order to get a solid stone wall to simply open up for them a little and to accept their new copper inlay within its folds before seamlessly closing back around it and resuming it’s original appearance once more. Note: The Name of copper would not be necessary here since the name of stone is doing all of the hard work and the copper is something else entirely, a bit like the filling in a sandwich is nothing to do with the bread. Such things are not so hard to believe in a world where namers exist who could use their prowess to corrupt the very nature of the stone and to make it dance to his own desire for the greater good.
This new copper-stone is a modern improvement but the original walls of Haven were constructed in order to keep dangerous arcanists securely inside of their cells. Kvothe laughs at that thought, scoffing that ‘no arcanist worth his salt can be kept in a cell ‘ which is supposedly true and so the stone used for these particular cells would therefore have needed to be made of a special ‘arcanist proof’ sort of stone for it to be able to do it’s task without the walls falling to any further arcanist interference from the inside out. This haven-stone must then have been ‘altered’ in some way by the interference of a higher power than that of any arcanist which needs must render it moreso than the common-stone that it once was. Stone that might have been considered good enough for building a standard jail would not do for housing arcanists. This will have required it to already have had the higher powers of stone-naming used upon it prior to it’s room shaped construction since a namers art is more powerful than that of an arcanist, and so a namers wall would be beyond an arcanists power to countermand. This pattern continues in a similar pecking order since sympathy is more powerful than sygaldry as it is said that you can even overcome a gram if you throw enough at it.
Thus Kvothe the Arcane was proved mostly correct in his scoffing because whilst naming is above sympathy in the scales of power, so sympathy is likewise above the artifice of construction. He himself tore down the church wall at Trebon using his arcane knowledge and he also overcame the Master Artificer Kilvin’s hand made twice-toughened glass by using nothing more than his own blood as a link, which exactly shows the thinking behind this groundbreaking tinfoil in action.
After such an in-depth inspection of our prison wall we can easily believe that it must have been previously spoken to by an earlier namer-builder and has been actively re-named in the process to provide it with the strength and form that it will require for it’s new task. This stone would now have the a unique desire imprinted throughout it (think of a stick of seaside rock) which should render it’s new form unreadable to anyone else who didn’t understand it. But Elodin spent long years studying the shape of this longname for himself during his own confinement and once awoken it is sleeping less deeply now and he now knows it as well as the original builders did. This, then is clearly not a normal building at all but one that was constructed by using the name of Stone. After seeing what the namers of today can do, there is no reason to think that the ancient archives builders wouldn’t have used this exact same power that imparts decay defying quality and strength in their own master-work and that it was also constructed through the agency of the powers wielded by the master namers of the original arcanum, who once walked the streets like tiny gods.
Having some understanding of the powers that these ‘tiny gods’ could have wielded helps us to better see the possible shapes of things by comparing their crockery to their library. It is unlikely that the archive itself was constructed by using solid sheets of rock, 120ft to an edge, with slot together flooring and drop in interior walls and capped off with another great flat square stone slab of a roof being dropped tightly on top of it all to keep the rain out. Yet nor was it constructed solidly from the present ground floor up since it is standing half buried underground on the less than ideal foundations of the underthing.
‘Once upon a time there was a university. It was built in the dead ruins of an older university.
Now this new uni was very small, ‘perhaps fifty people’ and we know from the current university that learning naming is a difficult thing with only rare successes. However, once upon a time, the members of the Arcanum were more like a strong brandy in their powers than the well-watered wine that they are today and among their smaller numbers there were more successful namers than might now be expected. Two of the most commonly sought names to be learnt are those of wind and of stone and we see examples of both of these in action, actively displayed by Fela and Kvothe and so we have quite a good idea about the process which you can read more thoughts about in Underlying Pricipals.
Now if these tiny gods were responsible for creating the Archives then first off they would need to source a large enough lump of stone to meet their needs. A small mountains worth should do it. Then they just need to transport it to their chosen building site. Here comes the tinfoil, hat’s on!
Theory 1). Given the shape of the world, whilst there is much to say about buying locally, the main source of mountains in Temerant are the Stormwal Mts which were once the home of a wise old man who knew how to listen to the longnames of the world. Let’s think of him as Slartibartvast, surveyor of mountains to the gentry, aka Stormwalmart.
Having bartered for a suitable mountain arrangements were made for prompt delivery and so it came to pass that their own mountain was soon delivered to its new address, right at the farthest end of the old stone road, in distant Belen, just before you get to the Quoyan Hayal. How did they do that last bit ? Well, by asking it nicely of course… but I’ll come back to that thought at a later time.
With all the raw materials in place and an army of arcanists on hand, the real work can now begin.
Turning a Mountain into a Monolith.
If you are going to build on the site of an old university, logic dictates that first off, you need a firm foundation and so the first task is to level the site to the ground to create a solid working base. This was, however, not the case with this university and the ancient underthing still exists below ground in it’s original roomy complex to testify to this, despite there being a whole township weighing down heavily upon it. A newer form of ground zero has somehow been achieved and it would appear that instead of knocking down the old to create the new, they instead decided to cover it all over by burying it under an awful lot of hardcore. So where did all this builders rubble come from? The truth is we shall never know, but I do have a mad tinfoil theory to propose.
My thinking is that once upon a time, a powerful namer wanted to have somewhere very safe to hide his secret things in and so he went up to his chosen mountain and spoke unto it the longname of mountains that lay deep inside said mountain’s heart, as easily as if he was reading from a heavy lettered book. But instead of asking it to become a ring of mountainstone, fit for his finger, his desire was to ask for this vague mountain shaped stone pile of rock to become, instead, a perfectly squared off cube, fit for finishing off an old stone road with. With this desire in his mind the powerful namer said BREAK!, and the mountain broke and the cube was released from the mountain and, just as was the case with Fela’s ring, anything of the mountain that was not part of the namers cubic desire would now fall away fron the new square block as dross, and since we are turning a mountain into a monolith, that should provide quite enough broken stone and hardcore rubble to fill all the gaps that existed between the diverse areas of the original university complex and so level the ground from the bottom upwards creating a raised foundation for the new, and in doing so also bury whatever was there before, sealing it away for evermore. This would be the first part of the process which then provided the builders with somewhere on which to stand before the real stonework began.
With his great grey stone cube now in the desired place the next task would be to somehow hollow out the insides into what we see today, a task which could now be undertaken by a team of highly skilled arcanum namers all working together for the greater good. A cabal of educated men who also understood all bout things like winches and axels and who between them also knew the long names of many things, famous members of the arcanum carving out their own place in history, men like Teccam and Delivari for instance, and maybe even master listener Lord Slartibartfast himself!
And so starting from their massive stone doors, they worked their way inwards, moving like a worm through fruit, until they had successfully hollowed out their edifice to create a hidden city that stands to this very day, and all done in total secrecy.
One further problem that would arise from this process of carefully carving up the cubes insides would be what to do with all of the extra stone that their further tunneling had created? This was actually a bonus problem as the removal of all these perfectly created corridor shaped pieces of twice-tough greystone that the master-builders did Hollow out from their block could then be used to provide the required building blocks for some of the other, more conventional looking structures nearby, such as the Masters Hall aka…Hollows! which stands just across the way from the Archives front doors on the other side of the House of Wind.
This seems a good place to stop and ponder again for a while, but that’s my best shot at How Old Archive Came To Be. No matter how fanciful it might sound, this is the shape of the world that I’m going to run with. After all, anything is possible in tinfoil land.