Repository Nihil

I saw her for the first time through the window of a seedy tavern of a port town I’d never heard of… a little girl with a strange trinket around her neck. She stood idly by an abandoned building and appeared, to my inebriated mind, to be staring straight at me. My curiosity had been piqued, but it took me a moment to get myself to get up and leave the tavern. The events leading me there were not particularly happy. I thought back to my time with the Academia and sighed.

I was young and full of hope when my journey began. Anyone who had aspirations in scholarly pursuits has, at some point, come across the name “Repository Nihil”, a mythical artifact said to contain all knowledge. I always wondered why it was called “Nihil”, and like many others, I was enthralled by the idea of knowing “everything from nothing”. Many great scholars had spent their lives searching for the repository. I, too, found a certain thrill in the search, in learning for the sheer joy of learning, and those great scholars were the beacons that lit my path. Though none of them had succeeded in finding the repository, and eventually, it was written off as nothing more than a legend, I always believed in it.

For years, I studied many subjects – philosophy, jurisprudence, medicine… even theology – as required by the Academia, but my true purpose never changed. I always knew that one day, I would travel the world, following in the footsteps of the scholars in search of the repository. So, after eight years of studies, and two more in service to the Academy, I left, knowing that the library would only teach me so much and that real progress could only be made out in the world. My search for the repository had begun.

In the years that followed, my life was that of a wanderer – one day in one village, the next in a city, the next in some unmarked town… My young heart was at its merriest, for this was the dream I had always dreamt. I started where the scholars had and learned many things in my travels about the people of the world and the lives they lived. In a small village nestled in the foothills of the great mountains to the North, I found people who still used the old ways of farming, using only hand-wrought implements and manual labor. To them, alchemy was nothing short of magic! In the West, the townsfolk of a faraway town considered dreaming to be a taboo and dreamcatchers decorated every door frame. They believed that the gentle tinkle of the bell could ward away dreams. In the outskirts of a great, religious city, alchemy, herbalism and, indeed, engineering were all considered artes diaboli and practitioners were condemned to death. I had to watch my step in that town and was glad to leave it behind.

More important, however, was the evidence I gathered of the existence of Repository Nihil. In the capital of the Eastern kingdoms, there were whispered legends in the darkest alleyways that spoke of a sage who knew the answer to everything. He carried with him a trinket – an oddly colored crystal encased in a bronze-like metal casing – that granted him this knowledge. Upon looking into the matter, I surmised the legend could be no longer than five hundred years old! I could hardly contain my excitement at this discovery! Once I knew this, I found it easy to pick up the trail and found that all clues led to one place: a nameless port town in the furthest reaches of the Eastern kingdoms. Indeed, Pyrocles, the greatest of the scholars to have attempted the search, was rumored to have died on his journey to the East.

So, there I was, staring out the window of that seedy tavern. Having exhausted every lead, and having run into countless deadends, I finally despaired. And so, every step away from the tavern felt heavy. It took me some time to reach the abandoned building, but the girl had not moved an inch from her spot. Closer now, I could see the similarity her trinket bore to the artifact held by the all-knowing sage – an oddly colored crystal encased in a bronze-like metal. Suddenly, my inexplicable curiosity made sense. When she saw me approach, she smiled and I immediately froze, for, so unsettling and unnatural was her smile that it had sent shivers down my spine.

“Welcome, Theo. We’ve been waiting for you.” Before I could respond, she continued in her utterly alien voice, “You seek the repository of all knowledge. We have what you seek. We are the keepers of Repository Nihil. But before we offer it to you, we must ask: do you know the fate that has befallen those who have gazed into it?” She paused for a moment, then continued, “Nay, it matters not. Human curiosity knows no bounds. Very well, then. A glimpse of infinity!”

The shock and subsequent excitement at this revelation quickly melted away as a bright light flashed at her words and I was suddenly surrounded by a pitch black void. I was inside Repository Nihil! Thousands of questions raced through my mind… and to my surprise and horror, the answers were being burned into my mind! Try as I might, I could not stop. I had to know more… More… MORE!

An eternity later, I found myself collapsed on the causeway near the abandoned building. The keeper had a sympathetic look on her face as she walked away and I finally knew why it was called “Nihil”. All that I had learned in my travels, all that I had learned in that brief moment inside infinity… it was all fading away. My sanity was slipping away. I could see things… hear things that no one else could. And when madness has fully descended upon me, They will come for me.

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