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By Frank Penca
The one true prophet of the Realms, the noted Alaundo of Candlekeep, in his lifetime recorded (in a addition to a number of mediocre histories) nine volumes concerning the fate of the Realms. The sage was very erratic in the way he recorded his predictions, however, and though it is believed that all of his texts survive, they range from well organized, detailed accounts to hurried scribbled notes in margins. The books, titled "First Portents" through "Ninth Portents," are largely chronological, though not all prophecies are referenced by dates.
Alaundo (-22 to 76 DR) himself was the son of minor traitor against the Calishite state. He began making organized recorded prophecies in -2 DR, when he left his family to live as a hermit and shepherd in the Dales (it is unrecorded which one). His prophecies were recorded in private over the next seventy-five years. Legend says that Alaundo saw a vision of his own impending death, so he journeyed to Candlekeep to donate his records for posterity, arriving in 75 DR. He died there, almost unmourned, of a plague the next year. The sages at the library were so amazed by the accuracy of the predictions that starting in 82 DR, the monks there began a never-ending "Chant of the Unfulfilled Prophecies" which has continued uninterrupted to this day. All of Alaundos books have been committed to memory by the thirty monks devoted to the task. As a prophecy comes to pass, the monks remove it from their chant.
Alaundo used the Roll of Years in labeling his prophecies. There are a number of sages who believe that Alaundo created the Roll of Years, but this is largely wrong. The Roll of Years was started back in -422 DR by a sage named Augathra the Mad. Augathra was an elderly woman who began to have visions, which she recorded. The majority of these were lost over time, and those that remained have not always proven accurate. The Roll of Years extends to what will be 2163 DR, and has remained largely intact. One or two smaller sections of the Roll are missing, lost to time, and these Alaundo had replaced with names of his own devising. The biggest gaps are from 1352 to 1369 DR and from 1804 to 1829 DR, though there are about a dozen one- or two-year gaps throughout. It is said that Alaundo catered his prophecies to Augathra's names, as the old woman did not have a very good track record with her own prophecies.
The first volume of the series includes a short introduction in which the seer records his intents. This takes the form of about two pages of acknowledgments, a sizable (10 page) prayer to Savras, and a discussion of the immutable nature of history and self-fulfilling prophecies. The somewhat purple conclusion of the introduction remains most telling of Alaundo's intentions.
"...[S]o if nothing else may be gleaned from my words, my visions, my hopes and fears, then I wish that my reader may know this: all of the world is a living organism, heartier than a Worldthrone dwarf. Though its face may be scarred from age to age by war, disease, or strife, though dragons may swoop from the skies to erase the most ancient of kingdoms without a trace, though powers omnipotent today will be forgotten tomorrow, the heart of the world shall continue to beat. Dust settles, babies continue to be born, and songbirds herald each new day. Knowledge of the future is no key to happiness, nor should it allow complacency, only solace and truth. No matter how terrible the tragedy, until a future day far yet to come, there will always be a tomorrow. In the marching of time, there exists a definite rhythm, and knowledge of the rhythm allows a person with foresight to plan best for their future without the folly of blindness.
These things also I have observed: that knowledge of our world is to be nurtured like a precious flower, for it is the most precious thing we have. Wherefore guard the word written and heed the word unwritten - and set them down ere they fade like so many sublime rainbows after Kozah's fury has abated, or a beautiful dream in the morning hours. Learn then, well, the arts of reading, writing, and listening true, and they will lead you to the greatest art of all: understanding.
This said, know ye reader now this: these words are the words of Lord Savras, revealed to me in his infinite wisdom so that I may guide the hands and hearts of those discerning enough to use these words well. May you find comfort in the truth, dear reader."
Alaundo's writing style may leave something to be desired, but his prophecies are as of yet unerring. For the uninitiated, it should be known that there are three types of prophecies: the laconic, the detailed, and the conditional. Examples of each follow.
"White birds shall vanish from the North, and great evil shall die and be reborn." --Sixth Portents
Common interpretation: This passage is commonly thought to be Alaundo's only reference to the Time of Troubles for two reasons. The passage appears under the heading of the Year of Shadows, a complicated year on which Alaundo barely comments. Also, Alaundo enjoys using birds as a symbol for deities and other immortal creatures, and several allusions were made in prior volumes to Mystra as a dove.
"Twelve days 'fore Greengrass, his last rally mounts/
Azzer-ash shall leave his men but for one/
To him, he will name barons and viscounts/
And there disclose his dream to the iron son.
His vision entails his own demise/
Unheralded beneath the north sea wave/
He'll ask his memory be kept alive/
His name invoked in war and peace to save.
Two days hence, the dragons shall roar its last/
The proud king's body shall never be found/
His solidiers will keep his memory fast/
His kingdom shall become his sacred ground.
The eternal king nigh thirteen score year/
Inclement tyrant and holy savior."
Common interpretation: In 1018 DR, the great general Tchazzer of Chessenta was lost in a lone battle against the sahugin, his body never to be recovered. After his death, his name became invoked by local warriors who honor his memory or do well in battle themselves. Within ten years, an organized church of Tchazzer arose, with a priesthood capable of casting some basic spells. As is always the case when specific individuals are involved, the name is obscured somehow or a nickname used. Tchazzer is a phonetical anagram of Azzar-ash, and the "iron son" referred to is literally Imperator Aeruthax, the Iron Fist, Son of Ranais, who records show was Tchazzer's choice to rule in his place, but was unable to gain control of the nation except by force.
"When Nightal is almost at a close/
There from the gate wall shall descend/
A serpent to blow the Horn of Doom/
At the graveyard Kingdom of Man.
If the Star of Storms is its brightest/
When the dulcet ballad is played/
Soundest ground shall be torn asunder/
The tapestry forever frayed.
But if the Raging King has failed/
To keep his five retainers true/
Come 'morrow, the blessed sun will rise/
And no chaos shall ill ensue."
Common interpretation: This is one of Alaundo's most famous prophecies, as it is the last one to appear in "Ninth Portents." The date is not given, but scholars suggest that it refers to 2163 DR, the Year of the Saddened Magicians, the last year recorded in the Roll of Years. The prophecy is so famous that a number of common people in larger cities may recognize it, and the "Horn of Doom" is an expression used throughout the Moonsea region for any loud noise that causes a fright.
The meaning of the word "serpent" is ambiguous at best: claims range from dragons to yuan-ti to human rouges with serpentine names. The "wall" is most likely the Spine of the World, or the North Wall in some older texts. The Kingdom of Man was an actual empire of little consequence which lasted about forty-five years, but because the actual name appears, there is a good chance the quatrains refer to some largely human kingdom, possibly Cormyr. The Star of Storms has two meanings; Uthgardt barbarians refer to the Aurora Borealis by such a colloquial term, but it is far more likely to refer to Talos, the Stormstar, as Alaundo uses the name in other prophecies. The tapestry is thought to refer to the magical weave, though it appears to be unique to this prediction as a metaphor for magical energy. Most interesting to some, perhaps, is the King and the five retainers. The king may likely be another reference to Talos, and it is thought that the five troops may be five servitor gods. As Talos is one of the most prolific (as well as oldest) of the gods as far as promoting mortals to such divine status, there is a certain cause for alarm to be taken from the passage. Currently it is believed that Talos does have five gods in his service, but certain sages knowledgeable about such things tend to discount Malyk for varying reasons.
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