"The arrogation of mankind ends now!"
The cataclysm (Chinese: 灾祸 zāihuò, "disaster"), also referred to by a myriad of other descriptions including the catastrophe, the disaster, the fall of Khaenri'ah (or the "ancient kingdom"), the Dark Calamity or the Calamity of Darkness, and the pitch-black calamity,[Note 1] refers to a period of widespread chaos and destruction that occurred five hundred years ago.
The conflicts surrounding the cataclysm primarily revolve around the encroachment of the Abyss, an otherworldly power at odds with Celestia's power, and the destruction of Khaenri'ah, a nation that lived without the influence of the gods. While the exact order of events is unknown, monsters carrying Abyssal power spewed forth from Khaenri'ah and wreaked havoc throughout Teyvat. Khaenri'ah's attempt to rebel against the gods ended with its destruction at the hands of the gods and the Heavenly Principles. This led survivors from the fallen nation to bear grudges against Celestia and the Seven Archons, while The Seven themselves grew embittered towards Celestia. Two of the Teyvat Chapter's main antagonistic groups, the Abyss Order and the Fatui, were established as a direct response to Celestia's actions.
The exact circumstances surrounding the cataclysm remain a mystery, but it is linked to the "truth of this world." The Traveler's journey is to uncover said truth, during which they will learn more about the cataclysm.
Note: Because the Genshin Impact story has deliberately left information surrounding the cataclysm vague, this page contains information that is confirmed to be about the cataclysm as well as information that is suggested, but not confirmed, to be about the cataclysm.
References are provided as much as possible. There are also notes that expand on the deduction and reasoning used to draw certain conclusions, which can be read by either hovering over (desktop-only) or clicking on the note. Some specific types of notes found on the page:
- Lore Discrepancy: When information provided in the game is self-contradictory, retroactively changed, or contradicts manga information, it is considered a lore discrepancy. This is different from a translation discrepancy, in which information is contradictory or misleading due to inaccuracies in localization. In the case of a lore discrepancy involving information found in-game and in the manga, the in-game information always takes priority.
- Translation Note: Used when the original Chinese text and its official English translation do not match, or if something is clearer in Chinese. In the case of a translation discrepancy, the original Chinese text always takes priority.
- Assumptions: Because of lack of information, contradictory information, information that is expanded on in different lore pieces, deliberately inaccurate in-game material, and other such obfuscation, editors will sometimes make assumptions to determine the order of certain events or puzzle together pieces of disjointed lore. However, they may be obsoleted and proven incorrect by new lore and story. These notes serve as a disclaimer, and expand on the editors' reasoning for their conclusions.
If you have any proposed changes for the timeline, please leave a comment and cite your evidence.
The order of events and causes of the cataclysm are currently unclear, although a few perspectives have been presented throughout the game.
The Kingdom of Khaenri'ah was established as a nation without gods around the time the ancient civilization Sal Vindagnyr fell,[Assumption 1] and its inhabitants considered their nation to be the "pride of humanity." At some point, people from Khaenri'ah began plotting to overthrow the gods.
To that end, they developed the Ruin Machines; Ruin Guards were originally known as "Field Tillers," as their creators believed that "The land is not to be tilled with farming tools, but rather to be fought for with steel and blood." Traces of their technological achievements — such as Ruin Guards — appeared in Teyvat as early as 3,700 years ago and were collected by Guizhong during her research into mechanics.[Assumption 2]
People of Khaenri'ah also sought evidence that the so-called "gods" were in fact alien to this world and had usurped it from its original denizens. Towards the end of the Archon War, diplomats from Khaenri'ah traveled to the underwater nation of Enkanomiya, bringing with them at least one Ruin Guard for protection. They attempted to steal the forbidden book Before Sun and Moon, which indeed held an account of the ancient world that Celestia wanted to keep a secret, but failed to make away with it due to Antei's intervention. Zhongli's character stories also mention that other groups besides the gods attempted to take advantage of the chaos of the Archon War, although it is unknown whether Khaenri'ah was among them.
Based on current information, Khaenri'ah's existence and its goal of living independently from the gods were not secrets in Teyvat. As such, it was likely not their attempt to live without the gods itself that caused their destruction, but their attempt to subvert the current world order and destroy Celestia.
The Art of Khemia
The Art of Khemia, a form of alchemy developed in Khaenri'ah that allows for the creation of life itself, has also been hinted as a cause for Khaenri'ah's destruction. While it was originally used to survive underground where no plants could grow normally, its capabilities proved to be Khaenri'ah's undoing. The alchemist "Gold" Rhinedottir became a "sinner" and unleashed their creations, an "army of shadowy monsters" that included the dark dragon Durin, on Teyvat. These creations, empowered by an "all-consuming darkness" capable of tainting even the powers of The Seven, destroyed all in their path. Eventually, even the Eclipse Dynasty, the reigning dynasty in Khaenri'ah at the time, fell.
Rhinedottir's unknown motivations for unleashing her creations and causing widespread destruction adds further ambiguity to the situation; it is hard to tell whether her actions caused Celestia to attack, if her actions were a response to Celestia's attack, or the two events were an untimely coincidence. The people of Mondstadt characterized Durin as a wicked, evil dragon who attacked the land out of jealousy, and was only felled by the combined powers of Barbatos and Dvalin. However, Durin's perspective tells a very different story: He was under the impression that his "Mother" sent him aboveground to display his "beauty" but seemed to be unconscious of his actions and the destruction he caused once he reached Mondstadt, and he only awoke from his "slumber" when Dvalin's fangs fatally pierced his neck. Durin even expresses remorse that he did not meet Dvalin and Barbatos under different circumstances.
While many sources such as books and item descriptions pin the creation of the mutated monsters on Rhinedottir and imply that she was a major catalyst of the cataclysm, this idea is not entirely corroborated by Khaenri'ah survivors. Dainsleif and Pierro both acknowledge that Khaenri'ah had some culpability for the events that occurred, but they attribute the nation's fateful decisions to a broader group of people.
Two concepts closely associated with Celestia have been brought up in regards to Khaenri'ah's destruction: sin and the Heavenly Principles (also referred to as "destiny").
While recounting the events of the cataclysm, and how they led to her current obsession with Eternity, Ei says she saw "a nation stride forward and lose everything to the Heavenly Principles." The exact nature of the Heavenly Principles is a mystery, but it seems to be linked to the concepts of the relentless flow of time and the impermanence of the mortal realm. Several other figures have voiced their opinion that Celestia's punishment of Khaenri'ah was cruel and unjust; it is the reason why the Traveler's Sibling seeks to wage endless war against "destiny" until the "thrones" are toppled, and why the Tsaritsa seeks to rebel against the divine and create a new world.
At the same time, Celestia's attack may have been triggered by the actions of the Eclipse Dynasty. Dainsleif warns the Traveler against "trying to overthrow them [the gods], or hunt[ing] them down," despite previously voicing his disdain towards them. When the Traveler questions his contradictory statements, he explains that he wants to avoid repeating the "failings of my forebears." Pierro, the first of the Eleven Fatui Harbingers, mentions that the "sages" from his home country — likely Khaenri'ah — tore away the "veil of sin," thereby "ushering in a tide of divine wrath, destruction, and foolishness." The use of "ushering in" suggests that he attributes Celestia's attack to the actions of his nation's sages. While his original nation has not been explicitly stated, there are several indications that it is Khaenri'ah: The term "sinner" is heavily associated with Khaenri'ah during and after the cataclysm, and Khaenri'ah is the only nation known to have faced "divine wrath" and "destruction" immediately before the Fatui's formation in response to said divine wrath.
In addition to Pierro, many other sources have used "sinner" to refer to Rhinedottir (as Gold) and Khaenri'ah as a whole. Kaeya remarks that all that's left in Khaenri'ah are sinners who "aren't worth talking about." Rhinedottir (as Gold) is described as a "sinner"[Note 2] and "great sinner." However, this link between sin and Khaenri'ah may really be a link between sin and triggering Celestia's wrath.
Based on lore surrounding Orobashi and the people of Enkanomiya, "sin" consists of both knowledge and actions deemed subversive in Celestia's eyes. Watatsumi as a whole was pronounced guilty with "four counts of the sin of profanity, and a further eight counts for the sin of deceiving living souls." Aru, Eboshi, and Enjou all corroborate that the sin in question was having knowledge of the ancient world that Celestia did not want to be known. To prevent its people from being punished, Orobashi agreed to take their sins on itself and go to its death to the pay the price.
The Arrival of Outlanders
While not necessarily a cause of the cataclysm, the Traveler and the Traveler's Sibling traveled to Teyvat around the time of the cataclysm while escaping their destroyed home world. This makes outlanders involved in four (or five) massively destructive events that occurred in this world,[Note 3] although not all of the incidents necessarily involved world travelers.
Before Sun and Moon gives an account of the arrival of the Primordial One (the "eternal throne of the heavens"), who descended from another world. With the help of its four shining shades, the Primordial One defeated the Seven Sovereigns of the old world, remade the world, and created humanity. Later, the Second Who Came (the "second throne of the heavens") arrived, leading to a bitter war between the Primordial One and the Second Who Came that destroyed the heavens and earth. The unified human civilization that once existed was divided in the process, causing the region known as Enkanomiya to fall into the ocean. Following the war, the path between Enkanomiya and the surface world was severed, ostensibly by the power of the Primordial One.
Legends in Teyvat refer to an ancient catastrophe that led to the death of the Moon Sisters and the fall of the Seelie civilization. According to legend, one of the Seelie's ancestors fell in love with an outlander and they pledged their union in the Lunar Palace. Thirty days later, the world fell to ruin and after attempting to flee, the lovers were caught, permanently separated, and had their memories wiped. Meanwhile, the Moon Sisters turned on each other and all died in the ensuing conflict, with only one sister's corpse continuing to illuminate the sky, while the Seelie faded away into their current forms out of grief.
Sal Vindagnyr, another prosperous civilization that had direct liaison with Celestia, met its end after its Irminsul tree was abruptly destroyed by the Skyfrost Nail, causing the once-verdant land to be engulfed by blizzards and making it inhospitable. During this time, an outlander named Imunlaukr was living in Sal Vindagnyr and had a close relationship with its princess. He set off on a journey to find a way to save the kingdom — only to return empty-handed and find all its people dead. While Imunlaukr is unlikely to be a world traveler, he is another example of an outlander who serves as a major character during the end days of a once-prosperous civilization.
The Traveler's Sibling is closely entwined with Khaenri'ah's story and apparently seeks to avenge its destruction at Celestia's hands. They were once close with Dainsleif and journeyed across Teyvat with him for a time before presumably learning about the "truth of this world." The Unknown God calls the twins "outlanders" when she appears before them and tells them that their "journey ends here." Venti and Zhongli were also both aware that the Traveler comes from another world without the Traveler telling them, and Zhongli seeks to make use of the Traveler's status as a world traveler to record Teyvat's story.
Other Potential Causes
While his exact deeds are a mystery, the kitsune Urakusai is believed to have had some involvement in the Abyss' attack during the cataclysm. After discovering what he had done, the Kitsune Saiguu angrily banished him to parts unknown, then moved to Tenshukaku in preparation for the Abyss' attack.
The Cataclysm in Teyvat
After monsters began emerging from Khaenri'ah, the Knights of Favonius, led by Grand Master Arundolyn and his anticipated successor Rostam, went on an expedition to Khaenri'ah to fight the monsters. Rostam died during the expedition, leaving Arundolyn and Rosalyne-Kruzchka Lohefalter, who was studying at Sumeru Academia when he died, greatly bereaved. Arundolyn gave up fighting and retired from the Knights of Favonius out of grief, while Rosalyne used her knowledge to transform her body into that of living flame and enact her vengeance against the monsters, becoming known as the "Crimson Witch of Flames."
Meanwhile, Mondstadt was attacked by a corrupted Durin, who was created and sent to Teyvat by Rhinedottir. As Arundolyn had given up fighting after Rostam's death, there was no Lionfang Knight to lead in battle and no one strong enough to take on Durin. The people of Mondstadt cried out for help and were heard by the Anemo Archon, who called upon Dvalin to fight Durin.
Dvalin defeated the larger dragon but ingested Durin's poisonous blood in the process. Dvalin went to Old Mondstadt to recover while Durin fell down on Dragonspine, whose extreme, unnatural cold allowed the power inside Durin to seep into the land of Dragonspine. Even today, Durin's heart in Wyrmrest Valley appears to still beat.
At some point following Durin's death, one of Gold's failed creations, an earlier subject of her Primordial Human Project that had been devoured by Durin, escaped.
In Liyue, the Chasm and Dunyu Ruins are two known locations majorly impacted by the cataclysm. Monsters poured out of the Chasm and in response, Morax sent the Millelith to defend and evacuate the miners. The yaksha, Bosacius who had once abandoned his duty to defend Liyue returned to fight alongside the Millelith, and both Bosacius and the Millelith who chose to lead the vanguard ultimately perished in battle. Liyue eventually won the battle, but at the cost of many lives.
What occurred in Dunyu Ruins is unknown, but its people decided to abandon the city and move to Liyue Harbor; none of the refugees nor adepti have spoken about what happened there.
Shortly before the Abyss invaded Teyvat, the kitsune Urakusai apparently did something linked to it, which greatly angered the Kitsune Saiguu and led to his banishment. The Kitsune Saiguu, aware of the impending threat, moved from the Grand Narukami Shrine to Tenshukaku to stay close to the Electro Archon, then Makoto.
When the Abyss attacked, Makoto and her close allies, Ei, Mikoshi Chiyo, the Kitsune Saiguu, Reizenbou, and Takamine the Mistsplitter fought back the otherworldly threat but eventually perished or disappeared. Chiyo was consumed by a "beast of sin" and, while she slew the monster, was corrupted — she turned against Ei and fought her, which ended after Ei cut her horns and sword arm off and forced her to flee. The Kitsune Saiguu disappeared and was "consumed" by the Abyss for reasons that are unclear but likely related to the Thunder Sakuras, which were nearly overwhelmed trying to purify the land during the cataclysm. Reizenbou, enraged by her inability to protect the Kitsune Saiguu, left on a self-imposed exile. Takamine disappeared in a battle against the dark forces, only to be killed by his former lover Asase Hibiki when he finally resurfaced many years later. Makoto was slain in battle in what is suggested to be Khaenri'ah, dying in her sister's arms.
Sumeru was apparently affected by the cataclysm later than other countries such as Mondstadt. However, the God of the Woods, presumed to be the Dendro Archon at the time, was slain during the attack on Khaenri'ah. This may have weakened the power of Dendro as a whole, as Viridescent was no longer capable of hearing the grass and trees speak as a result of the god's death.
The Cataclysm in Khaenri'ah
The clash between Celestia and The Seven versus Khaenri'ah ended with the gods' victory, although The Seven lost the God of the Woods and the Electro Archon Makoto in the process. As punishment for losing, the Eclipse Dynasty was wiped out. Dainsleif, a knight of the royal family, was cursed with immortality while most citizens of Khaenri'ah were inflicted with a curse that transformed them into monsters and hilichurls. Some people were able to avoid the curse, such as Kaeya's lineage and ostensibly Rhinedottir, but their exact circumstances are unknown.
During the disaster, Dainsleif orders Halfdan, an elite of the Royal Guards to protect the people of Khaenri'ah at all costs. However, Halfdan died sacrificing his life as a result. Him along the other royal guards ended up transforming into Shadowy Husks.
The exact fates of all of the cursed people has been left ambiguous, but many turned into hilichurls. Paimon also concludes from the account given by the Traveler's Sibling that the monsters of the Abyss Order were originally the people of Khaenri'ah, which appears to be supported by the Pyro Abyss Lector Enjou's search for Before Sun and Moon, mirroring the Khaenri'ah delegation's search from at least 2,000 years ago. As a result of the curse, Dainsleif no longer views hilichurls or Abyss monsters as human. It is still unclear what the suggested link between the hilichurls' Eclipse Tribe and Khaenri'ah's Eclipse Dynasty means.
After the Traveling Twins arrived in Teyvat, Traveler's Sibling awoke first and eventually bore witness to Khaenri'ah's destruction. At some point in time, they also traveled throughout Teyvat with Dainsleif, but when exactly this occurred relative to the cataclysm is currently unclear.
With Khaenri'ah in ruins, the Traveler's Sibling rushed back to where the Traveler still lay unconscious and woke them up, hoping to leave Teyvat as quickly as possible. The Traveler briefly witnessed the destroyed nation themselves before the two eventually set foot in Celestia as they attempted to leave.[Assumption 3] There, they were confronted by the Unknown God, who easily overpowered them and separated them, sealing the Sibling away first before dealing with the Traveler.
Without their masters, Khaenri'ah's automatons spread all over Teyvat, becoming particularly drawn to ruins and thereby becoming known as Ruin Machines. The Abyss Order was formed with the intent of overthrowing Celestia and laying waste to the surface world under their dominion. Meanwhile, despite his anger towards The Seven, Dainsleif viewed the Abyss Order as the greater threat and became their vehement opponent.
Not only did Rhinedottir emerge from the cataclysm alive, she went on to create her second masterpiece, the synthetic human Albedo. When questioned about their link to the fallen nation, Albedo reassures the Traveler that he was created long after its destruction and that, as a "pure alchemist" like her who lives for academic knowledge, he has no particular attachment to it. Whether this reflects Rhinedottir's opinion on Khaenri'ah has yet to be seen.
Rosalyne continued fighting against monsters, but her indiscriminate destruction caused many to become fearful of her. Before her flames could consume her heart and kill her, she was discovered by Pierro of the Fatui Harbingers, who gave her a Delusion to suppress the flames and a psychological "delusion" that swayed her to join the Fatui's cause.
The White Knight Rostam mentored survived the expedition and continued fighting against monsters. However, he became engrossed with the physical sensation of slaughter and became known as the Bloodstained Knight. Realizing he no longer had a place amongst humanity, he ventured into the Abyss intending to die in battle, only to learn about their origins: the "ultimate injustice" that cursed the people of Khaenri'ah into transforming into monsters. The Bloodstained Knight then pledged his allegiance to the Abyss, and his fate thereafter is unknown.
At some point in Mondstadt's history, the first Field Tiller — a prototype for the automatons now known as Ruin Guards — somehow ended up in Mondstadt and wandered into Andrius' proving ground. Initially mistaking the war machine for a challenger, Andrius fought against it and eventually greatly damaged it. It then fled to Decarabian's tower, where it proceeded to fire missiles at anyone who approached the area. The people of Mondstadt, who did not know about Khaenri'ah's advanced technology, mistook these attacks as the vestiges of Decarabian's wrath and entitled the phenomenon "The Tyrant's Final Fury." However, around a year after the attacks began, they suddenly ceased as the Field Tiller lost functionality. People thereafter determined it was likely not Decarabian's doing, as he was the God of Storms and was unlikely to use fire-based attacks, but did not investigate the issue further.
In Liyue, the battle against monsters led to a renaissance in weaponsmithing and catalyst creation after people discovered the weapons up until the cataclysm were not suitable for combat against such creatures. This renaissance continued even after the end of the monster onslaught and led to the development of the Prototype Series and Blackcliff Series weapons.
With the death of the previous Electro Archon, Ei became the new Electro Archon. Having lost many of her close allies over the course of the conflict, and fearful after witnessing her sister's death and "that thing," Ei became fixated on Eternity and hoped to preserve the current Inazuma forever. Disillusioned with Celestia after witnessing Khaenri'ah's fate, she severed ties with Celestia and ultimately gave her Gnosis to Yae Miko for safekeeping.
Afraid that she was susceptible to erosion, Ei conducted experiments into creating an automaton in her likeness, which would rule Inazuma in her stead while Ei would isolate herself in her personal world, the Plane of Euthymia, meditating to stave off erosion. In the process of creating the Shogun, Ei also created the puppet now known as Scaramouche.
The Tsaritsa, embittered by what transpired, cut ties with Venti (and potentially the other Archons) and established the Fatui to combat the Abyss Order and to one day overthrow Celestia, with Pierro as the first of the Eleven Fatui Harbingers. Pierro took the initiative in recruiting powerful individuals, including Signora and Scaramouche, granting them Delusions to bolster their abilities. The Tsaritsa also granted her Harbingers god-like executive authority — although it's unclear whether this is directly linked to Delusions or if it is a separate power.
|Durin||Black Dragon; Black Serpentine Dragon; Shadow Dragon||Mondstadt|
|Kitsune Saiguu||Priestess of the Grand Narukami Shrine||Inazuma|
|Mikoshi Chiyo||Torachiyo; Tiger-Bite||Inazuma|
|Makoto||God of Eternity; Electro Archon; Raiden Shogun||Inazuma|
|Takamine the Mistsplitter||Hatamoto; Konbumaru||Inazuma|
|Unknown||God of the Woods; Dendro Archon||Sumeru|
|Bosacius||Marshal Vritras (Chinese: 腾蛇太元帅 "Marshal Téngshé", lit. "General Soaring Snake")||Liyue|
Despite the cataclysm's large impact on the continent, few NPCs refer to it in their dialogue.[Note 4] Excluding the Archons and characters with ties to Khaenri'ah/the Abyss, only three NPCs refer to the cataclysm: Wuyuan through her book Records of Jueyun: Hidden Jade, Glory, and Muzhen in the Facing Distant Echoes Event Quest. Jean mentions Khaenri'ah, but her knowledge of the cataclysm seems to be limited to the tale of Dvalin and Durin, which she learned from Diluc after Venti revealed it to him. Paimon also states the Traveler has rummaged through old books searching for information about Khaenri'ah and the cataclysm, with little success. Of these mentions, Muzhen's dialogue is the most significant, as she mentions that while she was growing up, she heard old sailors say that nothing "could escape the reach of the Abyss" in their tales, which she did not take seriously at first.
Information about the cataclysm primarily comes from books; artifact, weapon, and item descriptions; or first-hand sources like Khaenri'ah survivors. Venti recounts the story of Durin and Dvalin to an audience but does not say when it occurred. After he plays the same song to Diluc, Diluc asks what he "witnessed" — implying Venti may have given him a vision of the battle — then states "This is confidential information." Meanwhile, Zhongli has a contract that prevents him from speaking about the events of the cataclysm, while the adepti refused to speak about the events that led Dunyu Ruins to be abandoned. Ei admits that she still feels fear over what happened during the cataclysm, citing in particular, "...Her demise and that thing", though does not offer much more information as she only arrived after the worst of the fighting and was not herself the Electro Archon at the time.
While their numbers had dwindled since the cataclysm, Riftwolves (creations of Gold that have the ability to erode the world's boundaries) began appearing on the abandoned Tsurumi Island of Inazuma. More recently, they have appeared as far away as Mondstadt, where they have begun encroaching on Wolvendom, the territory of Andrius' wolfpack. Following the repeal of the Vision Hunt decree, Riftwolves began appearing and making coordinated attacks against the roots of the Sacred Sakura on Narukami island, something which greatly troubled the Electro Archon as the Riftwolves historically served as harbingers of worse terrors during the cataclysm.
The Traveler's Journey
It has been heavily suggested that the Traveler's journey will be intricately linked to the events of the cataclysm. The most obvious indication is the Gnostic Chorus trailer, in which Venti's narration suggests that the second heir — "your story to be told" — is the player and by extension, the Traveler.
The description for Mondstadt Statues of The Seven says that the statue "anticipates the arrival of a noble soul [...] while thousand winds of time will soon unfold a new story." This "noble soul" is likely the Traveler, and it might not be a coincidence that both the Traveler and Venti woke up a few months before the start of the game. In the Gnostic Chorus trailer, both heirs start their journey in Mondstadt based on the background in the corresponding scene, which is also where the Traveler begins theirs.
When the Traveler confronts Zhongli about the destruction of Khaenri'ah and their sibling's relation to it, Zhongli refuses to divulge any information on account of his contract but appears to acknowledge the sibling: "If you take the same road as that person, there may be more difficulties ahead. But as long as you firmly believe that you are on the right path... everything has meaning."
"An atrous sun befell its kingdom and a luminous pearl lost its glow."[Translation Note 1]
"Niveous silk grew dim and wheaten gold burned brilliantly no more."Breeze Amidst the Forest, about the fall of Khaenri'ah
The Gnostic Chorus story teaser that plays at the start of every new Battle Pass period may contain a link to the story of Celestia, Teyvat, Khaenri'ah, and by extension, the cataclysm.[Lore Discrepancy 1] It is narrated by Venti in such a way that suggests that he is speaking to the player (and thus, the Traveler), while the background in the scene where either heir sets off on their journey has Mondstadt's visual cues — a forest, dandelions, and a mountain that strongly resembles Dragonspine.
The story teaser includes two heirs. Venti narrates that the story of the second heir is the story of the player (and thus, the Traveler). However, the first heir became the queen of the Kingdom of Darkness. The first heir's identity and her relationship to the Traveler — if any exists — are unknown.
Furthermore, the Gnostic Chorus teaser mentions a "Genesis Pearl," while Breeze Amidst the Forest mentions "a luminous pearl." The significance of this pearl and the reason why the "kingdom among the heavens" in the Gnostic Chorus teaser is seeking it out are unknown.
The Pale Princess and the Six Pygmies
The Abyss Order holds a vested interest in the fairytale The Pale Princess and the Six Pygmies due to a "secret" allegedly contained within it. However, their attempt to steal the book indicates that even they don't fully understand the contents of this series, so the exact nature of its secret is unknown.
One theory holds that this story may be allegorical for Khaenri'ah from the perspective of the people of Teyvat. Like the perpetually-dark Land of Night, Khaenri'ah was inhospitable and lifeless as a result of being an underground kingdom where light doesn't reach, which was why they turned to alchemy for plant life. The Night Mother may be based on "Gold" Rhinedottir, who was the origin of the monsters and described as a "great sinner," just as the Night Mother is called "the source of all sins."
- During the earlier Closed Beta Tests, the cataclysm occurred 100 years before the start of the game's story. It was changed to 500 by the time of the game's official release, but some in-game text has not been changed accordingly, whether in Chinese or English. The most notable cases where the timeframe has not been updated are Breeze Amidst the Forest (Vol. 2) and some Skyward Series weapon descriptions.
- In Collected Miscellany - "Venti: Skyward Sonnet", Dainsleif, the narrator, says, "A thousand years have passed since the God of Anemo left this land — But to me, it has only been half that time." Aside from almost certainly being related to certain events in the cataclysm due to the timeframe (500 years ago), it is currently unclear exactly what Dainsleif meant by this line.
- The Gnostic Chorus story teaser is a retelling of the Hymn of the Pearl, a passage in the Acts of Thomas. The Hymn of the Pearl has been interpreted as a Gnostic allegory for their view of the human condition: We are lost amidst the material world and consumed by worldly desires, which prevents us from achieving gnosis (divine wisdom) and transcending the mortal world.
- Major differences between the Gnostic Chorus and the Hymn of the Pearl:
- The protagonist of Hymn of the Pearl comes from an unspecified kingdom, while the land he seeks to take the pearl from is Egypt. In the Gnostic Chorus, those seeking the pearl hail from a "kingdom established among the heavens," while the pearl is located in the "Kingdom of Darkness."
- In the Hymn of the Pearl, the protagonist is the second son of the "king of kings;" his older brother is mentioned as the "second in command" and the "viceroy" of their parents' kingdom, and the protagonist would join him if he succeeds in his task of retrieving the pearl. In the Gnostic Chorus, the one who seeks the pearl first is the first crowned heir, while the second crowned heir's story is yet unfinished.
- Nobody else is assigned the task of retrieving the pearl in the Hymn of the Pearl: the protagonist's parents, realizing his plight, write him a letter (a metaphor for gnosis) that reminds him of his true heritage and his original task.
- A common theme between the Gnostic Hymn Series weapons is that each weapon's original wielder either lost sight of, gave up, or was otherwise led astray from their original path or goal — typically as a result of someone else's influence, much like the protagonist of the Hymn of the Pearl forgot his origins and duty and believed himself to be an Egyptian.
- Major differences between the Gnostic Chorus and the Hymn of the Pearl:
- There is no proper name for this time period in-game; "cataclysm," one of the earliest terms used for it, is used by the wiki for standardization purposes.
- Book: Ballad Selection Excerpt (Chinese)
Where the English localization says Gold was "corrupted by their own greed and ambition", in chinese it says "sinner"
- There are suggestions that the war between the Primordial One and the Second Who Came, recorded in Before Sun and Moon, is the same event as the fall of the Moon Sisters and the Seelie that has been referenced in several Teyvat books. Assuming the two events are the same, there are four major events involving outlanders; assuming they are different events that were similarly destructive, there are five events.
- It is unclear whether the lack of NPC references to the cataclysm is meant to be an in-universe phenomenon, or whether it was a narrative decision by the developers to avoid giving away too much information. Muzhen's dialogue during Facing Distant Echoes suggests it may be a combination of both, as even though tales of the cataclysm survived and were passed down, they may not have been taken seriously.
- It is difficult to identify a unified theme between the Gnostic Hymn Series weapons' descriptions, even though they supposedly comprise the Battle Pass story. The Black Sword and The Viridescent Hunt's stories are set during the cataclysm; Deathmatch and Serpent Spine both record stories of people who lived 1000 years ago, while Solar Pearl's era is unknown. Because there is no overt commonality between them, they may be linked to the overall narrative of the Hymn of the Pearl, the real-life work that the Gnostic Chorus is based on. (See Trivia for details.)
- The original Chinese version says 古国黑日落，明珠失其光, which may be intended to be read as "The ancient kingdom's atrous sun [black sun/eclipse] fell; the luminous pearl lost its glow." In this case, "atrous (black) sun" is referring to Khaenri'ah's Eclipse Dynasty (Chinese: 黑日王朝), which was its ruling dynasty when the cataclysm occurred. The sentence is vague on whether the luminous pearl belonged to Khaenri'ah or not.
- Currently, Khaenri'ah is the only known nation that was established with the intention of living without gods.
- Because Ruin Guards and Ruin Hunters were developed in Khaenri'ah, the fact that Guizhong was able to collect some before she died 3,700 years ago indicates that Khaenri'ah already existed by then and was manufacturing such automatons.
- It can be assumed that the location of the opening cutscene is Celestia, based on the "Celestial motif" found on the architecture in the cutscene, on the architecture in the game's title screen (which, based on their appearance, is the same location as the opening cutscene), on the Skyfrost Nail, and on fully-upgraded Statues of The Seven.
- Traveler's Character Story: Character Story 1
- Artifact Set: Prospect of the Brave
- Artifact Set: In Remembrance of Viridescent Fields
- Book: Breeze Amidst the Forest, Vol. 1
- NPC Dialogue, after completing A Company Vanishing Into the Deep: Anton
- Archive, Living Beings, Enemies and Monsters, Hilichurls: Hilichurl
- Archon Quest, Chapter I, Act IV: Dishonorable Trial
- Artifact Set: Pale Flame
- Quest Item: Scribe's Box
- Archon Quest, Chapter I, Act IV: A Herald Without Adherents
- Level Domain Entrance Description: Voyage to the Sanguine Sky
- World Quest, From Dusk to Dawn in Byakuyakoku: The Subterranean Trials of Drake and Serpent
- Book: The Byakuyakoku Collection, Vol. 2
- World Quest: Antigonus
- Zhongli's Character Story: That Which Rises From the Sea
- Jean's Voice-Over: Jean's Hobbies
- Venti's Voice-Over: About Albedo
- Albedo's Character Story: Character Story 5
- Event Shadows Amidst Snowstorms Quest: The Snowy Past
- Weapon Ascension Material: Grain of Aerosiderite
- Weapon Ascension Material: Bit of Aerosiderite
- Weapon Ascension Material: Chunk of Aerosiderite
- Weapon: Skyward Pride
- Weapon: Festering Desire
- Weapon: Dragonspine Spear
- YouTube: Story Teaser: Promise of a People's Dream
- Weapon: Polar Star
- Artifact, Pale Flame: Mocking Mask
- Kaeya's Voice-Over: More About Kaeya: IV
- Weapon: Sword of Descension
- Book: Records of Jueyun, Vol. 4
- Book: Moonlit Bamboo Forest, Vol. 3
- Weapon: Frostbearer
- Weapon: Snow-Tombed Starsilver
- Story Quest, Historia Antiqua Chapter, Act I: A Record of All Things
- Book: New Chronicles of the Six Kitsune, Vol. 5
- Artifact, Brave Heart: Fortitude of the Brave
- Weapon: Favonius Greatsword
- Artifact Set: Crimson Witch of Flames
- Event The Chalk Prince and the Dragon Quest: Afterword
- Weapon: Skyward Spine
- Book: Breeze Amidst the Forest, Vol. 2
- Weapon: Skyward Blade
- Artifact, Defender's Will: Guardian's Band
- Weapon: Ferrous Shadow
- Weapon: Favonius Sword
- Talent Level-Up Material: Dvalin's Claw
- Archon Quest, Interlude Chapter, Act II: End of the Line
Xiao: He fought here. The nameless yaksha from the legends... it was him.
- Artifact Set: Tenacity of the Millelith
- Archon Quest, Interlude Chapter, Act II: Danger All Around
Yelan: The Liyue army eventually won the war, but there were many who never returned.
- Book: Records of Jueyun, Vol. 6
- Weapon: Thundering Pulse
- Artifact, Crimson Witch of Flames: Witch's End Time
- Weapon: Elegy for the End
- Artifact, Viridescent Venerer: Viridescent Venerer's Determination (Chinese)
- Archon Quest, Chapter I, Act IV: A Soul Set Apart
- Archon Quest, Chapter II, Act IV: Requiem of the Echoing Depths
- Kaeya's Character Story: Character Story 4
- Traveler's Voice-Over: About the Eclipse Tribe
- Story Teaser: We Will Be Reunited
- NPC Dialogue: Glory
- Archon Quest, Prologue, Prologue Act: Wanderer's Trail
- Artifact Set: Bloodstained Chivalry
- Weapon: The Black Sword
- Raiden Shogun's Voice-Over: More About Ei: V
- Archon Quest, Chapter II, Act III: Wishes
- Artifact Set: Husk of Opulent Dreams
- Archon Quest, Prologue, Act III: Ending Note
- Archon Quest, Prologue, Act II: Behind the Scenes
- Archon Quest, Prologue, Act II: Wild Escape
- Archon Quest, Prologue, Act II: That Green Fellow
- Story Quest, Historia Antiqua Chapter, Act II: Amidst Chaos, the Rock Is Unmoved
- Venti's Character Story: Character Story 2
- Story Quest, Tempus Fugit Chapter, Act I: Lost Book
I was unaware that anyone in Mondstadt was concerned with unearthing the secret hidden inside this book...