The Mad Scribe,|
|Former affiliation(s)||Cartel Al|
|Companion(s)||Barnaby, Polly (vombata mounts)|
Firim (formerly Al'firim) is an Enlightened broker encountered in Zereth Mortis. He was formerly a member of Cartel Al and led an expedition to search for the Sepulcher of the First Ones, a mission that ended with his disappearance and the other brokers labeling him a madman and heretic.
After Cartel Al outbid Cartel Ta on leading an expedition to search for the Sepulcher of the First Ones and found a clue to its location, seemingly a piece of writing from the First Ones, Al'firim—who had earned a reputation for translation and codebreaking—began deciphering it. Despite his self-proclaimed genius, he almost faltered due to the difficulty of the task. According to him, it felt like an eternity passed before he had the first inkling of what the glyphs represented. His cartel brought in helpers and apprentices to assist him, none of which lasted for long, and later told him to stop as they had found another broker to take up the work. Al'firim refused, since he knew that their planned replacement was an old female rival of his whom he had vowed would never "usurp" his position again. As he continued his work, he eventually reached a realization that was so startling that it caused reality itself to seem to "melt away" and which Al'firim himself described as "the most wondrous revelation of my storied career" and "the greatest discovery of our time". However, he also admitted that he was still only just starting to understand the language of the First Ones. The fact that he decoded any of the glyphs at all was more progress than other brokers had made in ages of study. However, as the expedition's search for the Sepulcher continued from afterlife to afterlife, each dispatch they sent back became less and less coherent. In Tazavesh, the brokers began to talk of Al'firim as "the Mad Scribe".
Al'firim embarked on journeys throughout the Shadowlands and sought out scholars and explorers, but found few who shared his interest in the "great mysteries". At one point he joined a trade expedition to Bastion, where he met a kyrian aspirant willing to bring him to the Eonian Archives. However, one of the Ascended was alerted of this, and Al'firim's expedition was escorted out of the realm and warned never to return.
Ages later, he secured an invitation to Maldraxxus' Theater of Pain. While his companions enjoyed the sport in the arena, Al'firim traveled alone across the wasteland to the Sepulcher of Knowledge and sought outs its most ancient history texts. When he asked the tower's guarding liches if there were any older tomes, they replied that those were reserved for the Primus and told him to leave immediately.
In Oribos, he finally found someone who shared his curiosity: the attendant Overseer Kah-Sher. Kah-Sher enjoyed sharing what he knew with Al'firim, but the broker found little of value in what he said. When Kah-Sher mentioned that he'd had a similar conversation with Al'firim's old rival, the broker decided that the conversation was pointless and left. On his way out, he ran into the soul of an insectoid mortal named Irik-tu, who explained that the mortal plane was populated by countless worlds of varied beings who, unlike those in the Shadowlands, did not trade in anima—a concept that seemed strange and foreign to Al'firim. The broker asked Irik-tu what he knew of the origin of the mortal plane, but to his disappointment, the soul replied with a creation myth that Al'firim dismissed as nothing more than a superstitious fable.
However, one thing Irik-tu said stuck in Al'firim's mind: the soul spoke of "a thousand truths". The broker eventually realized that the key to interpreting the First Ones' writing lay in setting aside his preconceptions and seeing a greater reality beyond them. He suddenly saw the pattern not as one truth, but as layer of intersecting truths. He concluded that each of the cosmic forces could be ruled by a pantheon of powerful beings, just like the Eternal Ones ruling over the force of Death; that the mortal plane (which was believed by brokers to simply be a "distant corner of reality" created by the First Ones to supply the Shadowlands with souls and anima) could be "the very nexus of existence" where several different forces hold sway; and that if the different forces compete with one another to claim it, they might be driven by the unconscious knowledge of another outside force that seeks it as well. Al'firim concluded his last report to his cartel by stating that he refused to abandon the search for the Sepulcher until he was proven right and "all truths" were revealed to him.
Eventually, many cycles passed without any more contact from Al'firim's expedition, and it was widely believed that he, like others before him, had gone mad from his study of the First Ones' fractals. The rest of Cartel Al ascribed his disappearance to his "troubled condition" and dismissed his reports as the writings of a lunatic, heretic, and criminal. They appointed Al'firim's rival as his replacement in the search for the Sepulcher and assigned operatives in Oribos to the task of tracking down the "criminal" and those who decided to join his "doomed expedition". As Ta'lora of Cartel Ta delved into the First Ones' mysteries for himself, however, he started doubting this version of events and suggested that Al'firim had in fact succeeded in finding the Sepulcher and that he simply couldn't yet return because of the sheer amount of knowledge that had been revealed to him.
- Exile's Hollow gossip
Can't you see I'm doing something? Begone.
- Genesis Vestibule gossip
This is just an unfortunate setback.
- Firim in Exile, Part 1
- Firim in Exile, Part 2
- Firim in Exile, Part 3
- Firim in Exile, Part 4
- Firim in Exile, Part 5
- Firim in Exile, Part 6
- Firim in Exile, Part 7
- Firim in Exile, Part 8