Guardian Elect Of The Nightshade Archives

The Nightshade Archives are a historical and literary treasure beyond measure, currently lost to scholarship. As part of the agreement celebrated by the first Feast, each of the four great nations committed to ink a confession of all of their historical crimes, both in the recent war and earlier. These words were then sealed in a chest of ingenious crafting which could not be opened save with a unique and particular key, cunningly rigged so that any attempt to tamper with the lock would destroy the contents. During each Feast, the attendee who was judged by the collected invitees as the Greatest would be named Guardian-Elect, and given the duty of holding that key until the next feast. The box itself remained under constant guard, its possession rotating among the Four Great Nations, and the Guardian-Elect was never to be a subject of the box's current host, so the duty of Guardian-Elect was limited to keeping the key safe and not using it.

This changed, during the Twenty-Fifth Feast, in which a daring raid by persons unknown (although popular rumor implicates the Hand of Shadow, suggestions that Quidian pirates were the actual culprits are more credible, even if not completely convincing) stole the box containing the Nightshade Archives. The world braced for scandal, but none was forthcoming, leading most observers to conclude that the thieves destroyed the archive. By this time, the peace was secure and the four nations did not feel any need to create a second archive. The Guardian-Elect position became a ceremonial one in the Twenty-Sixth feast and those which followed it, and the definition of "Greatest" began to slide from selecting a moral, physical, and mental paragon to seeking one who had superlative skills in a single field of endeavor.

The intense competition for the position during the Feast of Harmon's Fall, largely between Daronda the Clean, Lord Alfred, Lady Brisband, and Lord Brannon Blackstone, has led some to speculate that the Archives were not in fact destroyed, but merely became lost for a time, and had been recovered around that time. It is certainly the case that the key that went with the office was not seen after the Feast, and only great fools believe that it was buried with Lord Alfred. (a proposition that is ludicrous, if for no other reason then because the last Guardian-Elect never actually received a proper funeral, his remains having been lost in the aftermath of the Feast) This scholar gives some credence to the reports that the penscratchers and scrollsorters of the Great Library of Al Talil hold the archive in their chambers for works of dubious provenance, withholding them from the sight of active scholars who might benefit from their information.

-By Abel Joxur