Prophecies in the Book of D'ni

A couple of people have asked if there's any prophecies that can't be accounted for. Well, as devout disciple of Katran, a longtime writer of prophet-type characters, and a real-life scholar of Greek and Roman lit which practically runs on omens and oracles, I really ought to see what I can come up with on this subject.

Actually I just feel like procrastinating.Soooo. Massive and abject thanks to Kehrin, as always, for the D'ni Desk Reference, for the list of all the prophecies.

Keep in mind that prophecies tend to be like Tarot Cards: they work within the realm of dream and metaphor and symbolism, which are very fond of referring to several different things at the same time. They also don't always have a one-to-one correspondence, and some phrases in a prophecy may refer to one thing, some to another. That makes it so much more interesting!

(Spoilers to all three novels and games follow)

"A seabird calls. The unknowing one stands at the rail. Peace. The circle closed. The last word written."

--From the Korokh Jimah: vv. 13245-46

Hmm. At the end of the BoD, or close enough to make no nevermind, Atrus gives a farewell speech to the people of new Releeshahn, closing it with "until the last word is written in the last book." Coincidence? I assumed that the book being burned in that ceremony was the link to Terahnee, which certainly Atrus said he would destroy. But--perish the thought--is Atrus here destroying the last link from Releeshahn to D'ni? I don't think so, but the reason it occurs to me is that this prophecy could then refer to the player in Mudpie. A recent interview with Rand Miller has stated the player will be stumbling into the ruins of D'ni, and early stills do show avatars standing up on high places with balconies.

I'm not very satisfied with any of these proposed answers, however.


After reading this, Fahrmboy/Ri'neref solved my problem by recalling the white bird Atrus sees at the end of BoD, just as the book back to D'ni is being sealed away by the Terahnee. This works.

There's no rail mentioned, but Atrus is by a vault, which could have some. He is unknowing because in the succeeding pages of the epilogue, Catherine goes on at great length about how he is ignorant of the forces of fate propelling him to this spot. The BoD ends (minus the epilogue) with: "And silence. The circle closed.".

"Rivers of Fire. Even the rocks burn. An island rises from the sea. Dark magic in an errant phrase. The people bow to the Lord of Error."

--From the Ejemah'terak. Book seven. Vv. 328-31

The Lord of Error certainly sounds like Gehn, who totally misconstrues the nature of the Art. "Errant phrase" also suggests this. The rivers of fire and burning rocks are problematic. The most literal equivalent would be one of the Ages young Atrus writes as a lab experiment while trying to fix Riven, which self-destructs. But the rocks do crack and burn at the end of the game of Riven. And, metaphorically, they also do on Age 37. And there an island definitely rises from the sea, since sea level drops. All told, I think this is probably a reference to Age 37.

Some folks have also suggested the death of Aitrus, but the last three sentences don't have anythng to do with that.

"A burrowing worm blinks in the sunlight and pulls his eyes down over his eyes. Earth's mouth steams. Deep voices grumble. Time draws a jagged line upon the sand in which the woman waits."

--From the Korokh Jimah: vv. 21660-64

Any of our D'ni friends could be burrowing worms who shield their eyes from the sun with glasses.

On one level, this is Aitrus coming up to the surface, the volcano, and of course the Cleft and Anna. Perhaps the grumbling voices are Gehn's discontent with his mother, which causes him to leave, although the plural is a bit odd. He does leave her alone there to wait for several years.

On another level, it's the whole beginning of the Book of Ti'ana. The D'ni as a race burrow up to the surface. Then they draw back into their shells, partly because of the earthquake (steaming). The grumbling voices are those who are unhappy about the expedition to the surface and what's come of it. The jagged line is either the home of Anna and her father, or the Cleft, or both.


Lord Hydronium proposed a variant of this which I rather like: it "feels" right. The burrowing worm is Atrus, whom Anna calls a little sandworm. The first thing we see him do in the BoA is pull his glasses over his eyes, while he watches Anna--the woman of the sand and the cleft--waiting for the traders to arrive. The steaming volcano pops up several times at the beginning of the book, including, significantly, Atrus' experiment. The voices are still a bit of a puzzle: the traders themselves?

J'ohn suggested the woman waiting in the sand could also be Keta, either waiting for Gehn to come into her life, or in her grave. This doesn't seem to me to fit as well as Anna.

"Inner and outer meet in a face on a page. Deep lines and ancient eyes. Mirrored. The door is open. The stranger comes. Black flies the cloud behind the newcomer."

Extract from Gehn's Notebook.
~Attributed to Gerad'jenah (undated)

The first part could describe any act of Linking, but it's fairly obvious this refers to Terahnee and D'ni, two sides of a mirror. I have a feeling that the mirrored faces are Atrus and King Ro'eh Ro'dan, although he's not all that old, is he? But they definitely are foils for one another. The last three sentences are, for once, straightforward: the portal to Terahnee is reopened, Atrus arrives, and he brings a plague. Ironic that this time, he is the stranger.

"Torn pages curl and brown. The flames fly up. In the flickering light a cry. Who will lift the fallen stones? Who will link the broken chain?"

--From the Korokh Jimah. vv. 11383-86

This directly preceeds the page on which Atrus and his helpers take their first steps into Terahnee. I would say it all has to do with Atrus opening the door to Terahnee, clearing the ruins. Except, as usual, there's a catch. The ancient Linking Book from Terahnee to D'ni was there when Atrus first linked in. So it wasn't burned. However, the library in that temple was completely stripped of books, so maybe they were burned.

The burning really could refer to almost any burned Book. Atrus' Inception Age ( he certainly gave a yowl of protest when Gehn toasted it) for one. For another, Gehn burned Age 37, did he not, after its collapse? Of course by that time it no longer linked to the same Age 37, but the "cry" again could be Atrus mourning the book's loss, knowing that there is no way to repair the damage or the link (fallen stones, chain).

Or, finally, it may be a rhetorical question for which the answer is "no one". It could be the sealing off of D'ni from Terahnee at the end of the BoD. This is the explanation I favor most. However, if my comments above on Mudpie are actually true, it could be the sealing off of Releeshahn from D'ni, in which case the "who" is the player of Mudpie!

One more possibility, proposed by Ri'neref/Fahrmboy: This is the death of Aitrus. The lament at the end of the prophecy is a dirge for the fall of D'ni. And, come to think of it, both activities:rebuilding, linking the D'ni survivors back to D'ni (or reforging the link to Terahnee) are accomplished by Aitrus' namesake and heir. I like this explanation best.

"Discordant time. The smallest of enemies un-mans them all. Hidden within the hidden. A breath and then darkness."

--From the Korokh Jimah. vv. 4302-3

This is the plague: bacteria (hidden) within the stomach (also hidden) or perhaps within the relyimah who catch it first.

"The creak of cart wheels in the silent dark. Dead men fall between the worlds. A time of great sorrowing."

--From the Urakh'nidar. vv. 87-89

Veovis and A'Gaeris push the cart of corpses through the dead city of D'ni, linking them through to all the Ages into which D'ni have fled.

"Descending the great ladder of time. We see four faces. The faces of four women. Aged and dead the first two are. The third, a dreamer. The last, a teacher."

--From The Visions of Jo'irimah. Canto 157

Funny how this one gets discussed the most by AVIDs! I have seen some variants casting Anna as the teacher, but "descending the ladder of time" suggests to me a chronological sequence. Some have proposed Keta, Gehn's wife, as one of the two dead women, but she's certainly not "aged". I'd guess Tasera, the mother of Aitrus, who died of the plague. Anna makes sense as the second. I don't think anyone would dispute Catherine as the "dreamer". The "teacher" has two possibilities. Marrim, who is first taught by Catherine and then teaches the Averonese, is the one "teacher" of this generation for which we have evidence. The other is Yeesha, since the other three women appear to be relatives of Atrus. However, the prophecies says "ladder of time", not "ladder of blood", so it may be a matter of time not kinship. Therefore, according to the evidence we've been given so far, Marrim is the one who's actually doing the teaching; we have no idea what Yeesha will become. Stay Tuned is my vote for this one.

"He who numbers but does not name: It is he who heralds the coming tragedy. His footprints lay about the muddied pool."

--From the Ejemah'terak. Book Four. vv. 3111-14

That's Gehn, for certain. He numbers his books. Anna comes back to the pool in the cleft at the beginning of the BoA and finds he's thoughtlessly trampled the bank and muddied the water.

"Flowers in the desert. The child's eyes opened wide. A thousand million stars dance in the dark mirror of the pool."

--From an untitled Terahnee scroll of Ancient origin.

That's young Atrus, watching the flowers open after the rainstorm, and gazing at the stars in the rain-filled pool. Of course, it's also a poetic metaphor: Atrus and Anna are flowers in the desert, his eyes are opened as he learns, and the pool of stars is a theme that recurs throughout the book.

The bricks alone will stand that day/ and the blind will be given eyes.

--BoD paperback p. 355

Whoops. Here's one that's not a chapter heading. The King of Terahnee quotes this when he learns Terahnee is falling, and says, "so they was true after all", meaning the prophecies that had predicted his world's fall. The Terahnee had wrongly guessed they applied to D'ni instead, after hearing Atrus' news.

This one is fairly basic: the buildings will stand but (implied) the people and civilization will be wiped out. The "blind" could be the relyimah themselves, coming out of the darkness and seeing their own power and each other for the first time. More likely, it's the masters being forced to "see" the relyimah, which they have not until now--their society has turned a blind eye to its own core structure. Or, considering the context in which the King quotes this, he is also referring to the fact that now the Terahnee "see" what the prophecies actually mean.