In an unmarked building two blocks down from Food Street is a secret library of spies.
No... Wait, it's a secret library FOR spies...
Or a secret library run BY spies...
Either way, there are a lot of bees.
And everything worth reading is triple-encrypted and dipped in honey.
Things we seem to know about the Spybrary:
- It's public. Anyone can enter it.
- Very few do.
- Despite the lack of obvious security measures. (Guards, gates, locks)
- It hosts the world's largest public collection of unaccountable knowledge.
- Everyone remains perfectly anonymous while inside the Spybrary.
- Spies love this.
- The Spybrary is therefore crawling with spies. And also bees.
- Like... A lot of bees.
- I'm not even kidding there are so many bees.
- All materials within the Spybrary are either hidden, encrypted, selectively redacted, or kept behind puzzles.
- The Archivists will provide hints.
They don't bother with wizards or people, unless either themselves or the infrastructure of the library is attacked attacked. Or someone is late with returning unaccountable knowledge. They just want the secrets. Trust, at least, that if your secret is taken by the bees, that at least someone will need to chew through a few layers of encryption first.
Anyone can take any encrypted knowledge that they want out of the library for a period of 3 Days. If it is not returned after that time, the bees will come to collect. These facts are not posted anywhere, though a Beekeeper may mention it in passing.
Everything in the library is encrypted. Even the visitors. Oh, you can find any secrets you want - the Beekeepers will help you with that. It's reading the secrets once they've been found that's the hard part.
Everything is in code. Everything requires a key to decipher, or a special way of reading it, or some kind of hoop to jump through to get to the sweet juicy knowledge. It can be anything - it's usually different each time.
Where are these keys found? Well... Anywhere, really. You could find one in a dead student's pocket, or tucked away in a 1000-year treasure hoard, or have had it since you were a child. It's different every time, and often quite personal. Just like secrets.
When secrets stop becoming secrets, the bees take it out of circulation (and presumably feed it to smaller bees to make more bees, or maybe the secrets become new bees). Ensures that only true secrets remain in the Spybrary, and not just piles and piles of irrelevancy.
Anonymous people who tend to the Spybrary and make it generally better for human navigation. They build and maintain stairs and carts. They help visitors find the secrets they need, and warn them about removing unaccountable knowledge from the building.
The veil of anonymity is very much like a beekeeper's helmet, but thicker and across the entire body. It blurs the appearance, homogenizes the voice, and randomizes the height. You might be able to guess a person from their vocabulary or the sounds of footsteps on groaning wood.
The closest thing to librarians that aren't bees. Autonomous statues, with paws sweetened by handling secrets. Polite bear-sphinxes at least partially responsible for some of the encryption and/or redaction. Perhaps the bees make the puzzles and the Archivists make the keys. Or maybe they're just supercomputer smart and they enjoy keeping it a secret... Either way, they provide hints.
Their identities are not anonymous, unlike everyone else who enters. There are between two and twelve.
They're everywhere. They love this place. It's perfect. Assume everyone anonymous you talk to will be a spy, and it'll do you good. They're always here in small groups: pairs, triplets, or sevens. Dredging up knowledge, working their craft, ciphering and deciphering, talking in code so the spies down the way don't know what they've found.
Violence is risky. You might hit the bees - they're everywhere, large and small. Nobody wants to die by bee. Therefore craft is key. Craft and intellect. Furthermore, every spy thinks they're the best spy, and can best crack the codes that keep the unnaccountable hidden away. There's a certain pride in the spy community, a pride which keeps the Spybrary peaceful. To resort to violence is to almost admit that your craft wasn't good enough. They save those unsavory tactics for the outside world.