The Book of Hours Item in Ulskandar | World Anvil

The Book of Hours

If you can find, or happen to stumble across the peculiar wandering folk that call themselves the Bearers of Prophecy, then you should certainly part with a few gold coins to have the scribes consult their precious charge, the Book of Hours for any possible mention of yourself or those that you hold dear. Who knows, the cryptic arcane scribblings within might shed light on an aspect of your life hitherto unrealised, or save your soul from torment, or might just make your life more confusing….
Extract from Maximilian Hoherberg von Zottehal’s History of the Known World.   The Book of Hours is an ancient tome, compiled nearly five hundred years ago by a team of scribes, assembled from across the continent of Turoza, who were sent from the Union of Mishtoon to visit a famous, prolific, ageing and supposedly accurate oracle, known as Manteio, that lived on Prophet's Peak in The ‘Free States’. They were tasked with writing down as many of the prophecies that the old man spouted (which reportedly came from the prophet’s mouth in an almost continuous stream, even when his body was asleep), which were to be compiled into a volume that, it was hoped would give the rulers of the Union of Mishtoon an edge over the other burgeoning nations that were emerging on the continent, by allowing them to gain glimpses into the future. That is if the prophecies were correctly applied and interpreted.   The end result, after nearly 13 years of constant scribing, as Manteio let out his final breath along with his final prophecy is what is known as the Book of Hours. The Book gets its name from the fact that there are so many prophecies, numbering into the hundreds of thousands of utterances, that there is practically one for every hour of every day for a thousand years.   With Manteio dead and the book complete, the scribes decided that, rather than return to Mishtoon, they would instead stop the collected prophecies from falling into the hands of a single entity, as they deemed the collection too powerful to belong to a single nation or person. Since then, the Bearers of Prophecy, as they became known have travelled far and wide across the world of Ulskandar, never staying in one place for too long and zealously guarding their treasure. However, the Bearers of Prophecy do allow people to come and consult the Book of Hours about themselves, their place or origin or events or topics that might be or importance to them, for the Bearers believe that the prophecies belong to those they concern, and that it would be unjust to deny them knowledge of what Manteio predicted of their fate, should they enquire.


Theoretically, if one of the prophecies is applied to the right person/place/thing at the right time then it will give an incredibly accurate depiction of that moment in time. This means that the book does truly have the power to predict the future, and if a single entity that wished to use the Book of Hours for their own ends possessed it, they would know much of what is to come, along with much of what has already been.   The obvious problem is that the Book of Hours contains predictions on all manner of topics, relating to all manner of people and places, with little indication of when they might actually happen, which means that without the real world context that accompanies them they are fairly useless. Though there are undoubtedly utterances that concern on vastly influential and potentially catastrophic topics many of them touch on fairly trivial, but oddly specific topics.   For example one prophecy from the book predicts the fall of the old Kingdom of Reinhart:  
After the Great Famine, when the Guild once more allow coin back into Reinhart’s frail hand, the boy King Wulf will come to the throne, last of his house and last occupant of the royal seat at Heimatstadt.
  Whilst the one immediately after it reads as follows:  
Widow Beadle from the town of Baluard will on the eve of her ninety-second year receive an egg as a present from a long lost cousin, lately returned from sea.
  Nevertheless, those who can afford it from across Ulskandar frequently send representatives to consult the Book of Hours for mention of themselves and their families, with the most influential people and nations being able to summon a representative of the Bearers of Prophecy to travel to them and recount any entries that are believed to relate to the enquirer. Thankfully, the centuries of knowledge that the Bearers of Prophecy have accumulated on the Book of Hours during their travels with it, means that they can generally pin point prophecies that may relate to certain places, events, people and families, as long as they are given the right prompt, such as a name or place to search on.
Item type
Book / Document
Owning Organization
There is only one copy of the Book of Hours, which never leaves the sight of the Bearers of Prophecy, who are made up of the few remaining scribes who first transcribed the Book of Hours in the first place, along with the relatives of those Bearers of Prophecy who have since passed away.   Although there is only one copy of the Book of Hours, different members of the Bearers of Prophecy have been charged with learning by heart different sections of the tome, so that they can travel away from the Book and their brethren, so that they can recite passages that might be of note to individuals, governments and organisations that may have requested to consult the Book of Hours.
Raw materials & Components
The Book of Hours is an enormous tome, well over four hundred years old, and that runs to many thousands of pages. Physically the Book is constructed of neatly and tightly sewn velum pages, bound into a blue leather cover which is decorated with an intricate, gold embossed pattern of an hourglass with sand flowing out of it.   Inside, the words within the book are written in a variety of hands in blue ink, and many of the prophecies within the book have been illustrated, or rather attempts have been made to interpret the prophecies through illustration. In addition, the tome is illuminated with flowing patterns and incidental illustrations, which frequently depict the transcribing of the prophecies into the book, along with the Book of Hours journey throughout the world of Ulskandar under the care of the Bearers of Prophecy.

Cover image: by Chris Pyrah


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