Appendix IV: The Prophetic Cycle & Interpretation
In the seas of the Known World, the merfolk process a huge volume of documented prophesy. Every 20 days, each man enters a trance and says a new prophesy, adding to the archive of portents to be interpreted.
The Gift of prophesy generally comes to each young man around adolescence. The date is random, but the first trance typically arises from sleep. From then onward, the young man says a prophesy every 20 days, and he helps his elders interpret the prophesies he has already said.
Sometimes, a man speaks the same prophesy for more than one cycle. When this occurs, it is either because he has yet to interpret his prophesy, or that his current interpretation is incorrect. After a repeated prophesy, the old interpretation is abandoned and a new one is developed.
An incomplete prophesy occurs when a man only repeats certain excerpts of his previous prophesy. In this instance, the omitted sections are construed as correctly interpreted, and the repeated sections are re-interpreted and checked the following cycle.
When a man speaks an entirely new prophesy, the merfolk conclude that he has grasped the true meaning of all the details in his previous portent, and his current interpretation is verified as correct. This verified prophesy then enters public domain for tattering and publication.
On occasion, a man might speak a new prophesy without fully understanding his previous portent. This is always taken to mean that the predicted events have come to pass since the man’s last prophetic cycle.
However, the merfolk believe their deity Mother speaks through their prophetic Gift, and therefore every portent is important.
In light of this belief, all passed prophesy is linked with an event that occurred within the last prophetic cycle, and the event and its consequences are scrutinized for significance. The more short-lived the prophesy, the more important its hidden message is perceived to be.
On rare occasions, multiple men speak the same prophesy on the same day. A multiplied prophesy is construed as a vital message of utmost importance, and it is interpreted with particular urgency. The more men speaking the same prophesy, the more important its message is considered.
A multiplied prophesy is normally repeated on the following cycle, and each of the portent’s initial composers waits anxiously for his next trance to confirm or invalidate his current interpretation of the portent.
Often, during the repetition of a multiplied prophesy, different composers omit different sections of the prophesy. Each incomplete prophesy indicates a correct interpretation of the omitted portions, and every composer is likely to omit a different part of their previous prophesy.
A composer who omits a particular section then shares his interpretation of that section with his fellow composers. Due to their updated understanding of the portent, subsequent composers tend to omit the same sections, and this becomes a means of double-checking the portent’s true meaning.
Despite the merfolk’s best efforts, some prophesy is interpreted incorrectly. In such cases, both the published incorrect meaning (believed devoutly by millions) and the unpublished correct meaning (not yet discerned) reach fruition.
To further corroborate their interpretation efforts, a post-emptive division of interpreters called historians comb through past events and portents. Many current interpretations are based on previous interpretations, and historians seek to verify past interpretations to ensure modern accuracy.
However, historians sometimes notice that other interpretations of old portents are equally valid. While the prophesy’s original interpretation did come to pass, so did an alternate interpretation that was not anticipated.
In events like these, the alternate interpretation is noted for modern consideration, and portents still being deciphered are evaluated against both possible interpretations. While an original interpretation is never redacted, it might be supplemented with an official secondary interpretation should understanding of a current prophesy hinge on a portent’s alternate interpretation rather than its original interpretation.