The Unseen University

Cthaeh tells Kvothe the masters at the university may have some answers about matters Chandrian and Amyr which is as good as a statement of fact that they do. At least one master is suspect. I don’t think Lorren is Selitos, no, But he fits the bill as one of the Amyr. Librarians know more than they let on. If Selitos has any connection to the University then it would be to it’s most original and oldest part. If he still lives then he has disguised himself and is hiding somewhere…

Just like Kote is doing right now in newarre…

To answer the question of what Selitos might be calling himself now, I suggest we look at another character who hides behind another name. His exact words when pressed on the subject are ‘That would be telling, I suspect.’ which I like to read as telling being meaningful and suspect meaning not to be trusted. We seek answers, so we shall go to where Kvothe went in search of answers. We need to go to the heart of the archives and see another see-er. We need to see puppet.

The Secret Lives of Librarians.

The University is situated at one extreme end of the Great Stone Road,a road which leads here by design, and the archives are the oldest part of the University. Before then, there was an older university on the same site. This earlier campus was also centred around this self-same building. The quoyan hayal or ‘house of wind’ still exists from bygone times, indeed careful clue chasing reveals this to be the self-same courtyard where we find the pennant pole where Kvothe was whipped. It still stands in place to this day, and it lies before the archives only door.

The building itself is windowless block of grey stone, four stories tall and with at least three levels underground. It resembles a giant greystone dominating the landscape. Puppet lives deep in the archives in his own chambers on the level sub-three. This is the floor below the four-plate door which is itself underground. Sub-two is where the Tehlin court records live, ‘a thousand years of court documents from a hundred different cities squirrelled away down in sub-two, whole rooms full…’ That is a thousand years of collected history, a collection begun a century ago. The stairs down to Puppet are worn by centuries of use, meaning that Puppets lair is in the oldest parts of the heart of the university. This is also where the room with the Yllish knots are kept, ancient, obsolete, forgotten and covered with the dust of time since the day were first allocated space in the building. The deeper we go beneath the archives, the older things are and the closer we get to some answers.

His room has candles, a most unwelcome item to be used in a library as we all now know. How can this be acceptable? The most likely excuse for this exception to the rule is that Puppet must know the name of fire and therefore have complete control over any possible accident for him to be allowed them, anything less would be unthinkable for Master Lorren to accept to let him to live with naked flame among his precious books instead of stringing him up by the thumbs or dispatching him to the hospitality of haven. So Puppet must be a namer, which makes him Re’lar and he has the trust of the masters, indeed our first sight of him shows him wearing a black robe like the masters wear (albeit too big for him). He doesn’t leave his rooms very much and you need to be a member of the arcanum to see him. Puppet’s most obvious skill is that he has a vast knowledge of the archives. He can direct you to an obscure book by level, row, shelf and spine colour as shown when he pointed out the exact location of Renfalques Dictum, a book Kvothe didn’t know. The enormity of this task is best summed up by Wil, who dabbles (dapples) a bit with puppet in his work as a scriv…

‘There are so many books in the archives… that merely reading all the titles would take you a full span. Eleven full days without pause for food or sleep. I worked it out a year ago.’

Which makes puppet a very impressive librarian indeed. The contents of the archives have been badly mismanaged over the years, various archivists have had their own method of cataloguing, we are told of Tolem, Larkin and Gilden, but it appears that no matter which of the libraries cataloguing systems we use, puppet knows the answer. But his skill goes much deeper than that. When the boys are searching for books about greystones to settle their bets, Sim cheats, he asked Puppe

But he didn’t investigate the recommendations himself or else he would have found that one of the books on the list he was given didn’t support his own argument. Puppet not only directed him accurately towards various books, he told him the very page numbers the information he wanted could be found on. Master Elodin must have consulted Puppet for his list of twenty books for his naming class to find, he checked they weren’t in Tomes but also said he had never read them himself, he even included En Temerant Voistra, a book whose presence he couldn’t confirm and might not even be there at all. Puppet not only knows the location of all the books in the archives, and all their titles, he also knows their contents, and can recall every little detail inside them down to the page number for greystones on demand. Here we see the difference between reading a book’s title and reading a book. Puppet has read them all.

Master Lorren couldn’t do that, nobody could. It would take thousands of years of reading and an extraordinarily powerful mind to reach that level of understanding. But Puppet can do this.

To be allowed access Puppet must be at least Lorren’s giller, maybe even an ex-master Archivist retired to advance his studies, his real name may even be Tolem, or Larkin or Gilden.

He is older than he first appears to kvothe, his face is smooth and unlined but his hair is pure white. He is also taller than any of the boys, despite his robes being sized for someone even taller, like a child playing dress-up in his parents clothes. perhaps they once were master Lorren’s who is described as being exceptionally tall. We only get to meet Puppet once and aren’t told too much about his eyes, except when one eye was hidden by his hood when if fell over his face. Later they were described as ‘serious and clear’, but he is Very aware of his surroundings. He declares himself to be a See’er and there is no reason to disbelieve this given how he looks at kvothe ‘like I was an interesting stone or a type of leaf he’d never seen before.’ He doesn’t need to look directly at you, he described Kvothe’s exact facial expression without even looking up and likewise reads Wilem’s discomfort. He also catches Kvothe’s face perfectly when carving his latest puppet, or should that be mommet? He may be cracked at first appearance, but he is a true See’er with true power.

It is my conclusion that Master Lorren isn’t the true Master Archivist. Puppet is.

Masters and Puppets

The Archives are the very heart of the University, and the exact place where the Great Stone Road ends. It is also the location of the mysterious four-plate door, so named by puppet which he admonishes ‘shouldn’t be of any concern to a student’. Whoever founded the University did so at this exact location for a very specific reason, so who did originally found it?

The current masters live in their chambers in Masters Hall above the entrance of which is a stained glass window depicting Teccam in a classic pose, barefoot in front of his cave teaching students. Who else would occupy such a revered place other than a famous alumnus, a former master and quite probably arch-chancellor. A figure of note from the buildings past history for sure, probably it’s founding father. No other name in academia is so celebrated and revered as Teccam’s, the most educated man of which we hear in all the history of the world. Teccam himself is all over these books like a rash. Elodin makes Kvothe read his classic work The Theophony from cover to cover whist drunk on applejack, and its not a small book to absorb. He is mentioned in Elxa Dal’s story of the ignorant edema and was also an architect, lending his name to a superior kind of winch. All the best quotes in these books come from Teccam, even the actual words ‘The Wise Man’s Fear’ are his. Kvothe quotes heavily from The Theophany in the chapter Blood and Ink…

‘Mysteries…are not secrets. Neither are little known facts or forgotten truths. A secret, Teccam explains, is true knowledge actively hidden.’

This sounds exactly like what Kvothe has discovered in his search for books about the Amyr. Someone, with access, has pruned the archives for any record of them, and as Kvothe concluded…

‘Who would benefit most from the destruction of the information on the Amyr?

‘Who else but the Amyr themselves?

True knowledge has been actively hidden. Books have been altered or removed. Teccam’s words are uncannily accurate in this instance, the Amyr may have learnt a thing or two from his observations.

We are also told of Teccam that ‘philosophers have quibbled over his definition for centuries’, giving us a vague idea of when he lived, a long time ago when old men taught barefoot in front of caves, just like the old man of the mountains in Hespe’s story The Broken Road. That old man was a powerful listener who refused point blank to give his name when pressed, and his cave was high in the stormwal mountains which, coincidently, are situated at the other end of The Great Stone Road.

At This end of the road are the archives and deep underground lie Puppets chambers which could also be described as a cave. In a nice parallel, this old man declares himself a See’er and also avoids revealing his true name. Kvothe interestingly notices a pair of curtains on one wall suggesting a window despite them being so far underground, we also hear the bell tower chime which seems strange, there must be sygaldry at work for the sound to carry so far underground. The curtains make little sense as the other walls are crowded to overflowing with books, candles and puppets, so why leave one wall blank? There must be something behind this curtains, something hidden yet accessible, his bed room perhaps? Some private and hidden extension of his chambers no doubt.

Puppet is a See’er and kindly gives us the translation of the word and also tells of its origins. It was a university title awarded of old, in a langauage of old, and Puppet gives the boys a prediction from a master of the art by regarding Kvothe and surmising that he ‘shall never see what is in front of him.’ which I take as meaning the secret truth that lies hidden within the walls of his search. He also gives various deep looks of the kind we associate with the power of naming and indeed witness ourselves from various interactions with Skarpi, Elodin and Magwyn et al. Puppet knows names.

As well as being a namer, Selitos was also a see’er, the greatest see’er the world has ever seen.

If Skarpi did speak with Selitos and Tehlu, then extreme old age can be discounted as a barrier for some people. Haliax may not be the only name-knower from the creation war still alive, it may apply to all namers, or maybe to all of the Ruach, or the Order Amyr or it could just be Selitos himself, still out confounding Lanre and his chandrian after all this time. Which of these, if any, is true shall come later, but 5000 years of living would give one a view of the world like no other, which brings us back to Master Teccam…

‘Modern Philosophers scorn Teccam, but they are vultures picking at the bones of a giant.

Quibble all you like, Teccam understood the shape of the world.

It is also worth noting that Felurian, who knows little of the mortal realm, pretty much quotes Teccam when talking of the moon when she speaks the line ‘a wise man views a moonless night with fear.’ maybe she has a copy of the theophony hidden in a tree somewhere, or perhaps she and Teccam both share the same beliefs in the way things really are.

I believe that there is a lot more to Teccam than meets the eye. Too many clues show him as either the greatest mortal thinker ever to have existed, or that he is not actually mortal and has had a few centuries to polish his ideas and pass them on to all those who are, all the time hiding his true name. Similar to Skarpi with his recording of history, he has moved quietly about the world since Myr Tariniel fell and has been teaching others to think. He is another of the Ruach who was present before Aleph, but his fame has made him need to hide his own, unnatual immortality.

It is my belief that the Teccam of old is still alive and well, still in front of his cave, still teaching students, and still knowing more about the shape of the world than any one else. He is calling himself puppet now and the Archives belong to him.He has made his home at the very heart of the university which has sprung up around him. The preservation of Knowledge is his domain now, but only certain knowledge of certain things. He is the guardian of all it’s secrets. He ordered it’s construction and oversaw the project from within, like a spider in his web. He wrote Vorfelan Rhiata Morie above it’s door in a language now removed from the curriculum which would only aid the secrecy. It’s meaning is significant only to him and his ilk.

The road and the archive were built by the same architect for the same reason. The 4-plate door. Anything less would be too coincidental, and we don’t believe in coincidences here.

He is one of the Amyr and he is moreso. He is their leader. He is Selitos himself. He changed his name from Selitos to Teccam and from Teccam to Puppet. He was probably many other names in between, Tolem perhaps? We don’t know. But he has slowly been dissapearing from the pages of history as he wrote them and is now continuing his work from out of sight, buried in the archives where only select members of the arcanum even know that he exists. Teccam is the Real Head Master of the University. A university that He founded for his own reasons, long ago, when he used another name. Every master throughout history has answered to him directly, from day one right up to the present moment, and they call him Puppet.

‘They call me Puppet.’

‘ Who is they? Who are they?’

‘Who are they then? Who were they then?’

‘Who are they now?’

‘You know, them. People.’

Puppet is very clever with words, very correct and very truthful.

Students call him puppet, and non-students have no reason to know of him at all, he doesn’t get out much which means these people he cites must be members of the Arcanum. Ex-students like Devi and Sleat could well know of him but he basically only interacts with scrivs. Manet was also a scriv once but whether Chronicler and Ben have also met him is unknown.

The first couplet puts the focus in the present tense ‘Who were they then?’ is Puppet correcting Kvothe’s question to make it gramatically correct. It is still asking who calls him puppet in a way that would fit the correct answer. Turning it to past tense also makes the answer historical and so we are talking about past members of the arcanum too, a historical group of people with whom he was aquainted. As well as former scrivs, gillers and masters, the ancient Order Amyr would also fit the demograph since his real work benefits them personally. But when Kvothe changes the original question to a present tense equivalent, which in this case would include a modern day equivalent of the amyr, Puppet stops playing word games and dismisses their clever badinage off-handedly with a non-answer. Kvothe has actually outmanouvered him here.

The evidence is building up now to a level where it cannot be dismissed so easily and each new argument adds a little more weight and sheds a little more light on our exposure.

Kvothe is being watched

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