The Prophecies of Aeriolaineus the Sage
This millennia-old book is one of the most famous books of prophecy in all of the realms, second only to the Book of the Cannon itself, and takes the front seat in the minds of most as the quintessential book foretelling the future.
But all is not as it seems
Full Item Description
This is one of the most famous books of prophecy in all of the realms, second only to the Book of the Cannon itself. As most people don't consider that a prophetic work (as it is a religious text), the Prophecies of Aeriolaineus the Sage takes the front seat in the minds of most as the quintessential book foretelling the future. This text purports to be the work of an ancient Elven scholar, diviner, and loremaster, one Aeriolaineus. These prophecies are over seventeen-thousand years old. As such things often are, the prophecies are encoded in cryptic and poetic form, and offer no explanation of their true meaning or intent. 2014 different poems make up this text.
No living Elf remembers meeting this prophetess of old, and no documentation of her life exists before the first printing of this book. The book's proponents say this is proof of the true antiquity of the prophecies. Furthering the book's ancient heritage, the text was originally compiled by the great Elven historian Telliu, who in turn employed an unnamed Kobold scribe for translation & copying. Some accounts state that the unnamed scribe was Dwarven, but the introduction to the Prophecies (written much later) is silent as to the species of the hand that penned it.
The Prophecies have been translated into several languages: notably Anglan, Bizzannite, Elven, Killian, and Runic. The Anglan edition is the most popular, and most agree that the re-translation back into Elven is lacking, with most of the poetic art completely lost in the process. Part of the problem with selling this book to an Elven audience could simply be that most Elves find the name 'Aeriolaineus' to be dreadfully ugly, and wonder what sort of parents would name their little girl that.
Depending on how one interprets the individual prophecies, anywhere from 60% to 90% is estimated to have come to pass. As the prophetic poems are not listed chronologically—instead placed according to writing style—there is no easy divider as to what has become history and what is yet to come. The book's proponents often cite unrecognised and unfulfilled sections for any number of contemporary issues, despite the unlikeliness of a seventeen-thousand year old prophecy covering such things.
Look ye to where
The clouds touch the fields
The shadows rise among them
And none were found
Who could stay their wrath
And none were found
Who could withstand their teeth
And none were found
Look ye to the soil
Covered in ashes and tears
Darkened by dread
Brightened by bone
Inspiring in sadness
And wrath knew its place
Lost and wandering
Even roses wept
The above example illustrates the confusion over some—indeed most—of the book's prophecies. Some believe that it foretells an invasion by the Hobgoblin forces amassed in the Farreaches. Others feel it has already come true as it prophesied the birth of the Olde Empire in the first place. Hobgoblins themselves typically believe that it either refers to the foundation of the Kingdom of Formour, or that an as-yet-unknown enemy will emerge and destroy that land.
None of this is true. The book is a fake. There never was any Aeriolaineus. She didn't exist. The unnamed scribe didn't exist, in either Kobold or Dwarven form. Telliu however, did exist. She (though some later commentators get the sex wrong) was the foremost writer of her time of history and historical novels. Many of her works are now considered classics, with Song of the Crossroads, The Journey through Mist, and the fictional Bitter Cherries still in popular circulation. Telliu had nothing to do with the Prophecies of Aeriolaineus the Sage, however. She loathed poetry, according to those who remember her, and would have had better sense than to get involved in something like this.
The Prophecies of Aeriolaineus the Sage were actually written by two Formourian men some 150 years ago. Kevin of Oak Hollows and Pol Barber wrote every last stanza. After the Elves had closed off all ties to the world outside their borders, interest in things old and Elven was high. Kevin and Pol sought to capitalise on that. They set a fictitious original publication date far enough back that they were sure not even an immortal Elf would remember. Pol researched history for events they could 'prophesy' to occur, which Kevin would then set to cryptic poems. This would give their book some veracity. Both men then contributed original work to be unrealised prophecies. Neither man had any fortunetelling talent nor skill in divination. They were con artists, not prophets. The pair had planned to drum up interest in the fake prophetess Aeriolaineus, and then release other 'newly discovered' works. However, the two had a falling-out shortly after releasing their first book, so no future editions were forthcoming. As each still profited from copies of the Prophecies, neither spoke the truth about it, and each took the secret to his grave.
The knowledge that the book is fake is not common. Only a few loremasters have unearthed the truth, and most of them don't care much for books of prophecy anyway. Rather, they see it as a book of bad poems. To the vast majority of Midianites this book is honest and accurate, down to the last word. The Prophecies has almost no literary merit, neither poetically nor even as a way that two men at least saw historic events when viewed from a cultural lens of 150 years ago. It serves more as a means to drive true-believers to action, based on their interpretation of one or more of the prophecies. It is also certainly possible—that either from spurring a reader to thought or through sheer coincidence—one of the unrealised prophecies comes true.
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? Responses (6)-6
This is quite cool - a book of false prophesies has so much potential!
Hmm, perhaps we could have a scroll of such prophecies that could be grabbed and adapted.
A nice idea.
This is a great McGuffin and a piece of "color" for a world. The popular perception vs the academic reality vs the reality is quite an interesting contrast. So very real actually. It is a nice piece for you to drop on us after such a long absence.
The plots that could come from this...
People trying to do things all in an attempt to make a stanza come true, thus ensuring something they really want to happen
And of course people trying to stymie the prophecy.
Some new con man might actually be out there with a "new edition" to be discovered.
Actually it would be interesting that the deities took these two fools and used them as a tool for making their will come to be. So while they should not be prophets, they really are.
Added to the Red Herrings codex, where it rightly belongs.
Never underestimate the power of a book!
Originally from Eat your heart out, Nostradamus by Scrasamax
"Every single prophecy ever written will come true, likely exactly as it is written. And chances are, these events will be centered around the characters and the current day. This really clashes with prophecies from the real world as they are wrapped in symbolic imagry and most never actually happen, or are so vague that the events listed could have already happened a dozen times over."
You know you want to do this. Fake prophecy plus cliche plus player-characters equals profit (or prophet...). Since the prophecies are intentionally vague, they can easily seem to fit the pc's perfectly. Most players won't ever see this one coming.
Prophecy, (and Profit-cy) are so much fun to use and abuse. I heartily approve.