The Esteemed Society of Polymaths and Philosophers: Mercenary Scientists

The Most Esteemed Society of Polymaths and Philosophers, or just Society of Polymaths for short, is in short an international organization which aims to preserve science, do research and recover pre-destruction knowledge. Sometimes they succeed and sometimes they don’t.

Their history is rather complex, since it involved several different groups of surviving scientists and academicians, but the two most significant groups that influenced the founding of the society were the astronomers at Tuorla observatory near Pike and the refugees from a few universities who had fled the comet impacts to the island of Jurmo in the Archipelago Sea.

With the arrival of Henrik Lassinanti, later known as Henrik I to the Archipelago Sea region, the scientists of Jurmo and Tuorla banded together and sent an ambassador to Henrik’s host which was massing on the island of Korpo at the time. They asked two things: to be left alone and for supplies. In exchange, they would render what aid and advice they could give to Henrik. Surprisingly, the Warlord Prince didn’t send the ambassador away but instead ordered the ambassador to bring word to the scientists: form an organization to preserve what  we know now so we won’t forget the past. And so the Society of Polymaths was born.

The Society of Polymaths recognized later that they needed to remain apolitical to keep their independence, which is one of the reasons the Lyceum was founded in Hanö as opposed to Peimar, the traditional benefactor of the society.  Most governments of the region recognize the unaffiliated status of the Polymaths including Hanö, Peimar, Kirkoslet, Gotland, the Ålannish states, Kokemeki, Svea, Vende, Revallin and Riga. There’s something called The Polymath Code which the Society demands that a government must agree on if they wish to procure the service of the Society.

The unaffiliated status of the Polymaths means that they are allowed to police their own members for most crimes, as long as the culprit hasn’t breached the internal rules of the Polymaths which include keeping the secrets of the client. Polymaths are not subject to paying customs duties but are not allowed to engage in trade. They are exempt from all drafts and conscriptions. Note that this only applies to active members of the society, who are either employed by the society directly or in the employ of a client of the Society. Those who are subject to the Code carry a round badge which is engraved with a picture of a winged snake.

Traditionally, the Polymaths are led by a Troika which meets occasionally to discuss affairs. The Troika includes the Senior Researcher at Tuorla, Samuli Sepheid, the Headmaster of the Lyceum, Laura Wettenhovi, and the Librarian of Jurmo, Fadi Mohammedson. However, since all members of the Troika have other things to do most of the time, in practice the Troika uses agents called Amanuenses (assistant) to take care of business and deliver news to each other. Amanuenses sometimes are used as “thieftakers” to arrest wayward members of the society. No formal competence is required to serve as an Amanuens: the Society is in effect a meritocracy and it’s assumed that the members of the Troika will choose whoever they think is suitable for serving as an Amanuens. Note that one doesn’t even need to be a polymath to serve as an Amanuens. For example one Amanuens who works for Fadi Mohammedson, Veronica Aspa, is a former Kirkoslet government surveyor.

Most members of the society are just nominal members who join the Society to get an education and a guaranteed job, since Polymaths are frequently in high demand. The Lyceum is practically the only place in the world to get a decent education. In general, members come and go and the Society never asks them for anything. However, sometimes the Society demands things from its members. While Polymaths serve many masters, in the end the Society serves its own purposes. And breaking confidentiality to the Society is not something you’ll end up in trouble for. In fact, not breaking confidentiality when an Amanuens asks might lead to you having a nasty accident later on.

Their motto might be “Enlightment for all” but it might as well be “Keep them in the dark if that’s what it takes.”

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