EIDL - Escape From Cheliax
An ancient Warforged, trapped on Earth on a quest for knowledge.
The Archive stands 6’8", and is an early model Warforged. It is blocky in shape, and generically muscular, though completely sexless, and is comprises of stone, dark wood, and a shimmery metal, each component of which is etched with runes. The Archive has no use for clothes except as a disguise, so usually only wears a wide leather belt with pockets for parchment, writing supplies, and two leatherbound journals, and a bandolier of scrollcases.
The Archive was among the first Warforged to come out of the Creation Forges. It was created to be the eternal historian for the war, and devotedly collected strategic knowledge to better advise warmakers of the time. When the war was over, The Archive was sold to a wizard, not as an apprentice, or even indentured servant, but simply to protect his library and venture into the world to gather new information or rare spell components.
The Archive developed an interest in wizardly, but had to be entirely self-taught, and so made use of its access to the wizard’s library, and the time the wizard spent sleeping, to teach itself the rudiments of wizardly magic. Over the course of several years, the Archive taught itself basic scrollmaking, and pursued mastery of the scrolls, seeking to make the physical form as useful as its magic contents. This was done in secret, between expeditions, hoarding small amounts of materials at a time, and cleaning up misfires overnight.
The wizard sought to perfect access to other planes of existence. He theorized that, just as there were realms for the Ethereal and the Demonic, so must there be more worlds to discover, and set out to make his mark upon the world by doing just that. He spent years creating portals and sending homunculi and small contructs through his portals, but none returned. Eventually he decided that he must send something with the wit and perseverance to return despite whatever obstacles lay in this other world; something like The Archive.
Through the portal, The Archive found a land of shifting sands and rolling dunes. It wandered without direction, hoping to find a settlement that could provide it with components and perhaps a Gate home, but found only primitive tribes of natives, robed against the heat and sun. It was unable to speak with them, and expended one of its secret scrolls, hoping that magic worked as well in this new land as it had in the past. Instead The Archive found nothing. Its scroll was not expended, and the magic did not work for it here.
The Archive wandered through blazing summers and windy winters and the rare torrential downpour. It struggled through deep sands and powerful storms. It traveled north and found an early city on the edge of a great body of salt water. It was losing energy; whatever powers the Warforged on Eberron clearly didn’t reach this distant world. This city contained a large number of humans, as well as a powerful religious cult that sheltered it for a time against the armored legion that sought to control the populace of this rocky desert city. The Archive stayed long enough to learn the language, and to try to explain that God had not sent it to judge the worthiness of the cult. But the cult leaders were determined, they named it Josef, and were hospitable.
Eventually The Archive gave in, stated that God had judged them worthy worshippers, and that it must move on and continue God’s work. Though this lie gave the religious cult great relief, the telling of it festered in The Archive’s mind, and it vowed not to lie again, for it could not tell what effects such distortions might have in the future, and knowledge should be kept as pure as possible.
The Archive moved further north, crossing a narrow point in the salt water to a much larger city, one of great culture and beauty. Here, however, The Archive was reaching the end of its energy. It had grown sluggish, and no longer traveled with its initial vigor. By the time it reached this jewel of a city, it moved less than ten steps in a day, and those steps were short and tired. Here The Archive waited, in a state between sleep and a coma, for a thousand years.
The Archive was looted during a sack of the city, and taken overland to a distant country with the spoils, where it spent nearly three hundred years bought and sold as a masterful work of sculpting by an unknown artist, eventually ending up in the workshop of a sculptor. Here The Archive found magic again, a tiny spark made of equal parts curiosity, brilliance, and determination, and this tiny spark woke it from it’s slumber. The spark resided in an apprentice of the sculptor, and to stay close to this young man, whose fledgling powers had given The Archive new life, it revealed itself to him as more than a statue, and when the young man left the sculptor’s tutelage, The Archive left with him, stealing out in the night.
The two spent over twenty years together, and The Archive found the artist to be a fine pupil. It told him of the engineering wonders of Eberron, of flying machines, and powerful men who could reattach limbs with a word. It watched as the magic grew in the artist, and was disturbed that in all their time together, they could not make a single spark of magic manifest into an effect, much less something so simple as a spell. Undaunted, the artist turned down the wizardly path, and insisted that greater knowledge was necessary, but that all things were possible, and continued to study and expand his knowledge in private. However, as his notoriety grew, it became harder for The Archive to exist there, for that tiny religious cult from long ago had grown into a powerfully xenophobic force, that instead of welcoming the unknown as signs from God, viewed them instead as Devil-sent and sought to remove everything tainted by the Devil from the world.
So The Archive left, and once more, headed north, seeking friendlier lands who might have advanced in they magical knowledge enough to help it get back to Eberron. It traveled for many years, eventually coming to a city that had its own spark of magic, deep in the land. Here it wandered the nights, looking for a way to tap that source. A branch of the cult that had helped it long ago survived here, untainted by the xenophobic southern arm, and a priest of that order approached The Archive where it sat at the edge of a river that ran near the city. The priest said that he knew The Archive was a servant of God, and that tales of it had survived the centuries. He called upon The Archive to protect his people from those who would rout them, and in return, the priest would give The Archive a place to stay, freedom from duties one day a week, and whatever it needed to return home.
Seeing that it’s small, long-ago lie had ballooned to mythic proportions, The Archive saw no option but to accept the priest’s offer. Upon reaching the priest’s temple, The Archive found what it had been searching for; a node. It was a small magical node, but hopefully it was enough to help it find a way to make a portal. The priest was true to his word, and helped The Archive acquire materials for more scrolls of power, which The Archive used to defeat the armies who were sent to eradicate this small community of the peacefully religious within the larger city. Fortunately the soldiers were superstitious, and in many cases, The Archive required only ghostly illusions to instill fear and trigger retreat.
This endeavor depleted the node before The Archive had acquired the power and skill to begin researching portals properly, and before long The Archive felt the familiar weariness of a world without magic. The priest, now old, offered to keep The Archive safe until a source of power could be found again, and allowed it to wind down its final hours of action in the temple’s attic.
It awoke once more, centuries later, confronted by different men than it had seen before. A grizzled workman apologized for the discomfort, but said that it seemed like runes were the only way to get The Archive going again. And true enough, he had etched sigils into The Archive’s limbs and fingers, across its forehead and into its tongue, and these angular letters glowed with a sullen blue light. It was uncomfortable, but The Archive had energy once more, and, it seemed, would not lose it again.
In return for this new life, the man explained, The Archive would have to work for the organization that employed him. Upon finding that The Archive was built to acquire and store knowledge, they put it to just that use, sending it to their offices and camps around the world to study and report on the tiny magical things that they had found there. The Archive was willing to do just that. It knew that the organization found any trace of magic with the intent of destroying it “to keep Earth safe,” but it stayed anyway. It learned everything it could about Earth, and spent a hundred years there, documenting the flare-ups of magical invasions around the planet.
Then whatever was invading tired of the slow game, and tears in the world began to appear. These rifts were explosively magical, and often emitted various magical energies or creatures from other planes. The Archive sought to get near one of these rifts, seeing them as its only way back to a land of magic, one that would eventually lead it home. However, by this time the organization saw The Archive as incredibly valuable, too valuable to send into the field where it might be damaged or destroyed, so it was denied the opportunity to inspect the rifts.
Over the following century, the organization declined in power. The great minds and powerful people had died, and in their place were lesser, weaker miens who stood on the shoulders of giants and imagined themselves great. The known rifts had been contained by this point, and each was assigned a Keeper to guard it. The Archive was denied every request to become a Keeper, and told that only field teams are allowed near the rifts because that’s how it’s always been done. The Archive set out to be assigned to a field team, but has been denied for twenty five years.
The year is 2000 and The Archive has existed on Earth since early in the first century. It traveled the Arabian desert and was sheltered by Jewish rabbi while Roman soldiers patrolled Jerusalem. It slept in Istanbul when it became Constantinople, and slumbered through the reign of Justinian, the rise and fall of the Byzantine Empire and the Crusades. It was looted in the sack of Constantinople in 1204 and taken to Rome, where it ended up in the workshop of Andrea di Cione, who taught Leonardo da Vinci. It has been to Prague, and defended the Jewish populace there at the behest of the Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel in 1593, and there it slept until awoken by an American railroad engineer in 1896. It has worked for EIDL since then, and now, finally, it has been attached to a unit. A new unit, green and young, but a field unit nonetheless.
The Archive might finally be able to go home.