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Page history last edited by Tim 9 years, 6 months ago

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Also known as “The Knowledge Smith”, Hurant Getobo Aardnarsh was most well known as the author of "Aardnarsh's Compendium", Battal’s first encyclopedia and still its most popular. With the somewhat limited assistance of his companion, Stubbins 'Stub' McHenry, Aardnarsh compiled and edited hundreds of editions of the Compendium over the course of 4372 years, traversing the length and breadth of Battal and interviewing more people than the Twelve Fisted Evil could poke twelve sticks at.




All accounts of Aardnarsh agree that he was a thin, wiry man, constantly attired in a beige shirt and blue pants. His hair was wispy, long and prematurely grey, making his true age difficult to judge. He had strong legs and a passion for nature that was eclipsed only by his fascination with pseudo-anthropology.


Little mention in these accounts is ever made of Stub, whom Aardnarsh picked up sometime after the first edition, besides that he seemed to have a remarkable talent for blending into the background.


Early life


Aardnarsh grew up in a small, unnamed village somewhere in one of the more boring areas of Battal. From a young age he demonstrated an insatiable lust for knowledge, traveling miles on foot to neighboring villages to read their books, once he had exhausted his local library of four paperbacks and an STI pamphlet.


Bored to tears by his hometown, Aardnarsh left as soon as he was old enough, vowing to see the entire world and learn everything there was to know. The Compendium itself was an afterthought to this ambition, begun as a travel diary that he eventually sold to a publisher to pay for a new pair of boots.


The Compendium


Aardnarsh approached research in the most straightforward manner possible: if he wanted to study a new place, he traveled there, usually on foot, and asked the first person he met for an interview. Flattered, they would invariably agree, and the interview would quickly move to the local tavern (or equivalent). Once there, Aardnarsh and Stub would find themselves surrounded by a rapidly expanding crowd of drunken old men, scribbling furiously as the natives took turns telling their version of local history and the occasional dirty joke about the king.


While this approach sacrificed a great deal of reliability in the information it gathered, it was the key reason for the explosive success of the first edition. Far from being just another stuffy academic text, this was a book by the people, about the people and for the people. The aristocracy in many areas tried (and failed) to ban it, not grasping that this would only increase its popularity. By the time the third edition was printed, most of the bans had been lifted, and many members of the ruling class actually volunteered for interviews whenever Aardnarsh was in the area. To his credit, Aardnarsh dutifully added their contributions to those he had already collected but refused to remove the existing content for any price or threat of de-nippling.




While descriptions of Aardnarsh vary greatly and are rife with exaggeration, some things crop up so consistently that we can only assume they are, to some extent, true.


The most notable of these is his extraordinary longevity: When his body was finally laid to rest, Aardnarsh was over 4300 years old. A lifespan of this extent is unheard of for a human non-Elemenstor, yet all accounts suggest that he had not a shred of talent in this area. Confoundingly, whenever questioned on the matter Aardnarsh himself would not offer an alternative explanation, usually muttering something about exercise and clean living before changing the subject. Some point to a strange tea, yellow in colour and smelling faintly of asparagus, which he and Stub drank every morning before breakfast; but without knowing its composition it is difficult to be certain.


Aside from Aardnarsh’s incredible lifespan, there was also the matter of his attire. As mentioned above, Aardnarsh was never seen in anything other than a beige shirt and blue trousers. This could be put down to mere eccentricity were it not for the fact that they never got dirty, even when he cohabited with the Mud Men of the lowlands for four days and nights. (This supernatural cleanliness may have prevented Aardnarsh from winning the trust of the Mud Men; his entry on them is unusually brief.)


It is also strange that so many cultures thought to be hostile to outsiders would seemingly welcome Aardnarsh and Stub with open arms/tentacles. Was there some low-level elemenstation at play, or is it merely a universal truth that everyone appreciates a good listener? Hopefully, these are matters that will be settled once and for all upon publication of Hal Robinson’s biography of Aardnarsh, “The Knowledge Smith”, some time in early 2006.


Comments (1)

Anonymous said

at 3:12 pm on Feb 13, 2006

For some reason I couldn't link to the article on Aardnarsh's Compendium with the [URL|word] method. Maybe because there's an apostrophe in the URL?

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