The Wahrk

The Wahrk was a large, whale-like creature that was native to the Age of Riven, the home Age of Catherine and Gehn’s 5th Age. It was different from most whales on Earth in that is had a large fin which rose from the middle of its head and tapered slightly as it ran down the length of its body, dropping off sharply at the tip of the tail. They also had two long tusks, one on each side of its body, protruding from just in front of their pectoral fins.

The Wahrks were carnivorous and could be easily angered if taunted. The Stranger noted this when experimenting with the coloured lights on Survey Island. While comparing the lights with their respective D’ni symbols, The Stranger noticed that a Wahrk was attracted by them. However, continued experimentation caused the Wahrk to angrily headbutt the large glass window that looked out into Riven’s sea from the cave The Stranger occupied. At this point, The Stranger felt it best to halt any further experimentation.

Also n Survey Island, protruding from the the large pool on the top level of the island over which the map and Fire Marble Domes stood were several totem pole-like Wahrk wooden sculptures. Each of these had a different colour pattern painted on it and what looked like iron rungs in the back side. It is possible that these were intended to help workers gain access to the bottom sections of the domes for maintenance work as well as being decorative.

Red Wahrk totem

Blue Wahrk totem

The people of Riven had a certain respect and even fear of the Wahrk, which can be seen in various artifacts recorded by The Stranger from throughout the Age. Within the temple itslef on Temple Island could be found two wooden Wahrk carvings near Gehn’s large imager. Each carving had piles of fruit, bread and other foodstuffs upon and around it, placed in offering. A similar carving could be found on Jungle Island atop the cliff face from where the Submersible Train can be lowered into the Village lake.

The Wahrk carving in the Temple Island imager chamber

The Wahrk carving found in the Rivenese village on Jungle Island

Gehn made good use of the Rivenesse people’s fear of the Wahrk. The most obvious example of this is the Wahrk gallows. Located at the far end of the Village lake, the gallows were used to publicly punish – and execute – Gehn’s enemies. The condemned person would be suspended from the top of the gallows by shackles attached to their hands or ankles. The shackled person would then be lowered down from the top of the gallows to hang above its floor which would open allowing a Wahrk to jump out of the water and consume the poor soul.

The top of the gallows, made from Wahrk skulls.

The prisoner would be lowered through this opening, then the floor of the gallow (where D’ni 5 can be seen) would open, allowing the Wahrk in.

The shackles the prisoner would be placed into.

This method of punishment was re-enforced through a game which Gehn devised to teach Riveneese children D’ni numbers. Found in the school house, it was a simple enough game played by two players. Each player would “control” a wooden man dangling from his feel from a gallows. During each turn the player would move the Wahrk on the base of the game under their man. This would cause the internal mechanism to spin and display a random D’ni number in the viewing window, the man lowering that many steps toward the Wahrk. Once it was low enough, the Wahrk would snap the wooden man up, the player with the surviving man being the winner.

Also in the school house, lamps with yellow shades and stylised representations of the Wahrk were found. This was, presumably, simply for decoration. However, the D’ni writing on the lamp, t’gehn pahnet, translates as “in Gehn we trust.” Ominous.

Wahrk images on a schoolhouse lamp

The Wahrk numbers game

One of the most impressive Wahrk-inspired constructions was the giant idol found deep within the jungle of Jungle Island. Exactly who built it is unknown, although the design of it would suggest the Rivenese, although for what purpose is unclear.

More likely it was Gehn who constructed the idol, relying on the villagers’ fear of the Wahrk to keep them from investigating too closely. The idol’s jaws could be opened by pressing a hidden button on one of the laps at the end of the path the lead to the idol. When this was done a hidden elevator was revealed. Taking the elevator up took you to metal walkways that ran through the jungle canopy toward a Fire Marble Dome and Gehn’s Watchtower. Going down lead to a Mag-Lev which would transport the user to Survey Island.

Approaching the Wahrk idol

The Wahrk idol with its jaws open

While The Stranger only recounted seeing one live Wahrk during their time on Riven, it can not be assumed that this was the only living Wahrk at that time as the sea of Riven was vast. However, Wahrks were obviously hunted a great deal – presumably on the orders of Gehn – as their tusks and skulls could be found adorning much of the architecture, particularly on Survey Island and in Gehn’s office on Boiler Island.

Regardless of their situation during Riven’s existence, it is more than likely that they became extinct after Atrus, Catherine and The Stranger escaped Riven as the Age collapsed. Indeed, in the desert near the volcano which conceals the entrance to D’ni can be found the skull and rib case of a deceased Wahrk.

An Explorer standing next to the Wahrk skull and ribcage in the desert.