Breaking The Code - Part 2
Markuz, February 8th, 2018

You can find the first part of this series at this link: Breaking the Code – Part 1

Here we are, back with our analysis about the Isu messages in Assassin’s Creed Origins focused on the details of both their text and pictures! With the first part of the article we got to know about the Isu trying to tell Layla about the concept of reality and simulation and, more importantly, about the existence of the Code, a set of equations and rules / language that defines everything that surrounds mankind, even time and life itself. We left at the end of that article asking ourselves what the Isu are trying to tell Layla and what they are asking of her.

Let’s delve into the messages, then, to see if we can have some sort of answers! Keep an eye out for all the hidden meanings and visual references, there are so many of them that this article is specifically dedicated only to Segment 3!

Segment 3 - Khesesh Em Sesh Em Eeneb

Location: Khufu Pyramid - Giza

Main theme: The role of the Isu, the presumed immutability of the Code / Time

Dialog by: Khufu narrator

Click here to read the message once again

3. Khesesh Em Sesh Em Eeneb

Retransmission. Segment 3. Acquiring Contemporaneity. It has been 95 days since the Great Catastrophe. The messenger speaks.

You must be wondering why I reach out to you. It was written, you see. That you would come. To this particular chamber, at this very moment in time.

The walls told us of your coming. When we once were.

Look at them. Are they not fascinating?

[...] [Break the code]

These walls tell of a tragic story. A story we transcribed on our structures, on our artifacts. A story we could not alter. A mystery, defying us, in plain sight. We tried. Our scholars and scientists, poets and physicists. Bright minds. Rebellious hearts.

They all tried so hard to bring about change. They... we all failed.

None could change what we discovered. The stories written into the walls of these rooms. By whom, we never knew.

We know they tell of the future that is. The future that was. And the future that is yet to come.

The [...] [Stories] We failed at modifying a line. We failed at adding a single dot. It was clear. We were to be messengers at best. But messengers to whom?

To you.

We removed our ability to read those [...] [Stories] from your original template.

"A doorway that is also a puzzle. We must find the solution". Those were Brutus' words when he visited the Vault under the Colosseum, more than 2000 years ago.

He drew the vault. Sketched it to the best of his abilities. But he could not see.

Just as you are blind. You may read your watch. You may read hourglasses and calendars. But you cannot grasp beyond that simplistic surface. For now. The true reading of time still escapes you.

And so today, the curtain is pulled and the [...] [Stories] is shown. Tragic and complete.

Those walls, you might never read.

Events yet unfold as written. But something, anything, must change.

You do not understand what is at stake.

The reader has no power. He is but an observer. But the author...the author invents the future. The author owns the future.

A future where […] [Stories] are avoided. A future where a loved one can be revived by the drafting of a new chapter. A future where humankind is more than it is today.

A future where, just perhaps, we can all still exist, together.

Analysis of the message

This message contains so much that it’s funny knowing it’s the one used in the main story of the game to showcase the Ancient Mechanisms. It has it all: a speech by an Isu, a reference to a past game, some hidden messages and even some morse code in its picture. So.. where to start?

The message begins with the Isu (called Khufu Narrator, once again not very original) saying that not only – as mentioned in the previous messages – the First Civilization could read the Code and thus could understand how time worked, but also that some unspecified walls of an unspecified building actually contained writings (or at least that’s my interpretation) that mentioned a lot of events that would have happened in the future, among which the fact that Layla would have gotten to the Isu structure under the Khufu Pyramid through Bayek thanks to her Animus. If you are interested in an analysis specifically dedicated to these writings, I suggest you check out our “Coded Language of the Isu”.

But that’s not all, obviously. These “walls” also told a tragic story, that is likely to be the one about what the Isu had to go through, and how their race was doomed to be wiped off the planet, whatever they tried before and after the Toba Catastrophe. Through this segment we get to know that they found all of history (past, present, and future) “on the walls”, and they were never able to find out by whom it had been written (a pre-existing civilization? The Ones Who Came Before The Ones Who Came Before?).

By the way, as a touch of color, the mention of these walls may also be connected to the name of the Isu location, Khesesh Em Sesh Em Eeneb, which translates to “Stars and Uraeus and the Palace Wall” as we mentioned in our latest article about “The Coded Language of the Isu” (although there are no references to the stars and the uraeus in Segment 3).

"These walls tell of a tragic story..."
As we already know since ACR, when the Isu found out about their destiny, their best minds did everything they could to change it - scholars and scientists, poets and physicists – but they couldn’t.
The narrator goes as far as saying that they tried to modify a line, a single dot of their story, which is possibly another way of describing their attempts at saving themselves (like the six methods explained in AC3), to change what was expected of them and their race. In essence, they tried to change the Code / time to rewrite their destiny but, in the end, as mentioned in the message, they found out that they couldn’t, and so the next best thing they could do was to “just” be messengers. That’s possibly why they transcribed their story on their buildings and technology (so maybe the designs we are used to see on them are explained to be their way of telling their story?). But that’s also why they decided to act as a means for a message to someone else, just like Ezio or Connor did. Not to Desmond, though, but to Layla.

This may bring a few consistency issues with the pre-existing lore as we already mentioned in the first article of the series, but we’ll try and have a look at them in the final part of this article for the sake of the analysis.

So, once again, what are the Isu trying to tell Layla with these messages and why Layla among everyone else? They still don’t say it clearly in Segment 3, but they do it indirectly.

The narrator mentions that humans were designed to have boundaries, and more specifically he explains that what was removed from their original template was the ability to read the “stories”, which basically means the capability to read the Code and so to understand the real meaning of time.

This, in turn, appears to be very consistent with pre-existing lore, as Sorrosyss explained in her article. In fact, in Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, Juno said:

"Knowledge has been locked away..."
(Source: TetraNinja)
A hundred years I might speak and still you would not know us. You with five senses. Us with six. The one we kept from you. To be safe. Now, you can never know. Only try. Grasp. You can See. Smell. Taste. Touch. Hear. Knowledge has been locked away. After, when the world became undone, we tried to pass it through the blood. Tried to join you with us. You see the blue shimmer. You hear the words. But you do not know.

Connecting the dots, the sixth sense, otherwise defined as “knowledge”, that was removed from the humans is the ability to understand the Code and time, which, again, is consistent with the various forms of Eagle Vision / Sense we have seen throughout the franchise: from knowing how people and objects relate to the user to the ability to foresee where a target might go or was gone, from seeing through illusions to experiencing much more heightened senses.

It’s also interesting to note that mentioning that the humans in the AC lore don’t possess all senses in a series of messages that also deal with reality and simulation (as we saw in the first article of this series) opens up to an interesting interpretation that our Hephaestus described to me recently.
In fact, according to him, in the AC lore the humans are actually already “simulating” the actual reality by using their five senses, because they can not process it with more senses than the ones they have at their disposal.

For example, if something is not processed by the human sight (such as infrared radiations) it does not mean that it does not exist. Simply the human sight is not able to process, so it simulates "to the human eye " a reality which apparently does not contain infrared rays, even if they still exist.

Thus, we could say that in the AC lore humans are already kind of living in a simulation of reality because they do not possess the sixth sense to process reality completely.

And thus going back to the message in Segment 3, the narrator gives a very peculiar example of human who didn’t possess the sixth sense…. This guy.

Marcus Junius Brutus (Source: Hardcore Gamer)

The sentence "A doorway that is also a puzzle. We must find the solution" – which actually is not 100% accurate as it was “I must find the solution” – is, in fact, taken from the Scrolls of Romulus from Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, a set of documents written by Marcus Junius Brutus. In these documents he described both the events that involved him, Cassius and the other Liberatores / Assassins planning their conspiracy against Julius Caesar in the cavern in front of Juno’s Vault in Rome and his attempt at studying and entering the vault itself.

More specifically Brutus mentions that he was able to enter the Vault, solving the puzzle of the doorway (which means he found out the password was “72”), then got to the center of the main room, touched the pedestal (much as Desmond did) and was “filled with prophecy” – as in a calculation. Such calculation (which was possibly caused by Juno) made him see Rome in flames and so not only pushed him into action but also gave him bits of information that integrated his plan for Caesar’s assassination, which – according to the scrolls – he was tasked with by Cassius.

All of this raises a few questions considering the ending of Origins, such as which role did Aya have in all of this? The final scenes in Origins show that she gets to Rome in 46 BCE and then cut directly to the ides of March in 44 BCE, where she seems to be giving orders to Brutus and Cassius and so appears to be in charge (it’s shown even better in the later scenes where she is actually managing the Brotherhood in Rome). So does that mean that she was there with Brutus and the other Liberatores while planning the assassination in front of Juno’s Vault? Did she even know about the Vault? Did she enter it? Did she actually create the plan for Caesar’s assassination or did she task Brutus with it instead of Cassius? Nitpicky and very nerdy questions, I know, but it’s a tricky situation where the answers to such questions may contradict the established lore in Brotherhood. Let’s hope that the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Origins comics will deal with such “issues” and provide some answers as it seems it will actually span from this period of time to possibly the assassination of Cleopatra.

Brutus' depiction of the Vault, after he entered it
(Source: AC Wiki)
Anyway, going back to the message by the Isu narrator, he says that Brutus visited the Vault under the Colosseum (actually the Colosseum was built 110-120 years after Brutus died) and was able to sketch it and, I’d add, interact with it, but “couldn’t see” - as in, he couldn’t understand the way that the Code and time actually work (that’s why the narrator is using him as an example).

He did, though, see a calculation. He did see details that he could add to the plan for Caesar’s assassination. And he did write a line about time and events when he entered the Vault, which is very interesting in light of the Isu messages in Origins:

What lies inside has altered my perception and left me shaken, the very pillars of my beliefs toppled. Every event is a link in a chain, forged by something long dead. Or does it still live?

Brutus seems to actually see and sort of understand time, although he still does it in a “human” way, as a chain of consecutive events which is kind of similar to the “paths and nodes” described in Segment 2.
"There is writing here, but I cannot
read it. Carved into texture.
Burned into shadow."
. Still, he does mention that the events and time have been forged - which sounds like the stories written on the walls mentioned in Segment 3 - by something long dead – which sounds like the entities that wrote the stories that the Isu never knew about. In Project Legacy, when he is in the cavern in front of the Vault, he even says “There is writing here, but I cannot read it. Carved into texture. Burned into shadow.” I’m probably overthinking here, but still.

Another interesting element about these few lines about Brutus is that in the message, which has been dated “95 days since the Great Catastrophe.”, the narrator says “Those were Brutus' words when he visited the Vault under the Colosseum, more than 2000 years ago.”. Of course this is very confusing but – I guess – it’s also consistent with the content of the message. In fact, the Isu that introduce the messages do say “Acquiring contemporaneity” at the beginning of every message, which may mean that the messages may adapt and get up-to-date to the time where the final recipient of the message lives (Layla’s time) and would also imply some sort of AI attached to such messages (Wouldn’t that be too much though? How would that work?). Under another interpretation, it may also mean that during the Isu era every event was actually readable through the Code and the true understanding of time, just as intended by the Isu messages in Origins – but in this case why would the narrator say “2000 years ago”?

So, going back to the message in Segment 3, according to the Khufu narrator Brutus wasn’t able to fully understand time, just as Layla isn’t. And even if they don’t understand it, “events yet unfold as written”.
A future author? (Concept art
of Layla Hassan by Jeff Simpson)
Like the other narrators before him, the Segment 3 one initially conveys the message that time and its events are immutable as they were written… but for the first time we actually get to know there’s hope for something to change. The narrator says – at least in my interpretation – that even if humans were able to read and understand time, just like the Isu did, they would have no power in changing anything (especially what is at stake at the moment in the modern day, which will be explained in the next messages). They would be simple and powerless observers, just like the Isu were, when they weren’t able to change their destiny that was immutably tied with the Toba Catastrophe.

Like I said, though, the message says that there’s a chance for someone – for Layla – to become an author and not a simple observer. An author, in the narrator’s metaphor, would be an entity that is able to modify the text / lines of how time is/was written, the way the Isu were never able to do, as mentioned at the beginning of the message. For the narrator, this author would be able to change the future by avoiding / removing from the “text of time” the tragic stories that the Isu had to experience. All of this also sounds consistent with one of the reversed audio tracks inside the messages, where the narrator says “Break the Code”, basically asking with different words Layla to find a way to modify the Code and to change the course of time. Actually, the narrator says “Break the Code, break the node”, where ‘breaking the node’ is actually a reference to the upcoming catastrophe that the Isu mention in Segment 4. But I’m getting ahead of myself so let’s get back to the message.

By reading the last lines of the message it seems like the narrator is hoping for someone to change the past in the Isu era to have a better future for humankind, maybe even a future where humans and Isu can coexist.
In a few lines the narrator hints at the fact that not only the future can be changed but maybe even the past, which is something that goes beyond everything that has been established up to now, so much so that even Juno, in the explanation of the fourth method of salvation in AC3 said “Our first instance was to travel back. To change the past. But we could not find a way. But forward… We could look forward...“.

And that is something that, as a hardcore fan, gets me really worried as this may allow the future writers to remove or change parts of the lore that have been established for years and in which we got invested for so long. To be fair, though, it’s probably too early to have a clear idea about this, so I guess that for now we are going to have to wait and see if that kind of “legal retcon” is going to happen and especially how it’s going to be carried out.

Analysis of the picture

This is possibly the picture that has the biggest amount of visual references to past games and I’ll explain why. The picture shows three Isu who, once again, seem to be speaking and trying to transfer information and knowledge (you can see the lines coming out of them and going into the stylized parchments – the same kind of parchments that were used in Minerva’s Message in AC2 through the use of three Apples of Eden. The keyword here is “seem”, as the parchments do have a message written on them in Morse alphabet, but the message isn’t for the people they were talking to after the Toba Catastrophe. It’s actually for Layla. In fact, as our Sorrosyss already pointed out, the code reads:

- .-. .- -. ... -.-. . -. -.. -.-- --- ..- .-. -.- .. -. -.. .- -. -.. .-.. . .- .-. -. .... --- .-- - --- .- .-.. - . .-. - .... . -.-. --- -.. . --- ..-./
- .. -- . .- .-.. --- -. --. - .. -- . .- --. --- .-- . ..-. .- .. .-.. . -.. .- - -.-. .... .- -. --. .. -. --. --- ..- .-. - .-. .- --. .. -.-. -.. . ... - .. -. -.--


Consistent with the text of the message, through the picture the Isu are asking Layla to try and go beyond the limitations that they imposed on humankind by design (the lack of sixth sense / understanding of time) and to change the Code and thus the course of time. As mentioned in the message by the Khufu narrator, the Isu are asking this of Layla because during their time they failed in changing their tragic destiny which resulted in the erasure of their race, so she may possibly be their new hope after Desmond.

Apart from this, the three Isu characters at the center of the picture are quite interesting. Not only they are all using Pieces of Eden, but even if they are depicted in a style that is very similar to the classic two-dimensional art from Ancient Egypt, along with a helmet / mask made of Isu technology (as it has the same lines drawn on the Apples), they bear specific pieces of equipment or clothing that seem familiar.

In fact, the Isu on the left is wearing a headdress with a circle at its center and two tips at its top, which, along with the long dress, reminds me of Minerva’s outfit as it was shown in AC2 and AC3 (with a few differences, of course). The Isu at the center, who is holding the Staff of Eden / Papal Staff combined with an Apple of Eden, is wearing a belt with a sort of buckle which is similar to the one used by Tinia and shown in ACR and AC3 (again, there are some differences as the character in the picture isn’t wearing all the robes that Tinia always used). Lastly, the Isu on the right seems to be having long hair (or a headdress that falls on her shoulders), a long dress and a belt that reminds of an Assassin insignia with additional elements around it. Again, it might be a long shot, but this does seem like Juno.

The Capitoline Triad?
(Source of the single pictures: AC Wiki)

So… it does seem like the three Isu in the picture are the Capitoline Triad and even if the message takes place 95 days after the Toba Catastrophe, when Juno had already been imprisoned, it may make sense with the text of the message. In fact, the narrator says:

These walls tell of a tragic story. A story we transcribed on our structures, on our artifacts. A story we could not alter. A mystery, defying us, in plain sight. We tried. Our scholars and scientists, poets and physicists. Bright minds. Rebellious hearts.

Thus, the picture may be showing the scientists (the Capitoline Triad) trying to change the destiny of their race before the Toba Catastrophe (and before Tinia and Minerva found out about Juno’s betrayal), possibly working on the six methods of salvation and maybe even leaving a trace of what happened by transferring their story to their artifacts as mentioned in the message. We do see lines coming out of them and going towards the Apples and the scrolls in the picture, after all.

Another interesting element is that the same design of the Isu that *may* be Tinia in the Segment 3 picture (the one holding the Staff and Apple) had already appeared in Minerva’s message to Desmond.

"We were strong. But you were many. And both of us craved war..."

In the picture from Minerva’s message he is not wearing the belt that appears in Segment 3 (which may prove that it was added specifically to make him look like Tinia) but he is holding the same combination of Staff and Apple. In Minerva’s message this Isu is using the Apple against several “armed” humans during the Human-Isu war while, behind him, there’s what seems to be a representation of the sun or maybe the solar flare that caused the Toba Catastrophe.

This picture also holds three more interesting details. The first one is what seems to be an Abstergo logo right over the Isu’s head, another appearance of the logo in an Isu picture. The second detail is the reverse triangle located under the left hand of the Isu, which is one of the symbols that keeps appearing in the Isu locations in Origins. The third and final detail is the three black triangles and the black circular segment that are right behind the right arm of the Isu, which appear in the Segment 3 picture as well, right over the “Triad”.

Going back to the Segment 3 picture, there still is one major element that requires our attention, and it’s located underneath the three Isu.

That is not some accidental illustration. It’s a combined drawing of a pair of wings and a very peculiar design that appeared on the Colosseum Vault in Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, when it was visited by Desmond and his Assassin cell.

The “Tree” design in the Colosseum Vault (Source: Youtube channel TetraNinja)

Back in 2010 there were a lot of theories surrounding the meaning of this design, but the one that I liked the most (and thought very consistent with the lore) was the Tree of Life / Tree of Knowledge one. According to that theory, which was masterfully explained by user TwentyGlyphs on the Assassin’s Creed forums almost seven years ago and which I’ll bend a little, that design is representing a tree: you can see the roots at its base and the three extremities at its top may represent the branches with the lines crossing them possibly representing the leaves.

More specifically, this wouldn’t just be *a* tree, but possibly it would be the representation of the Tree, a mechanical structure to which every Piece of Eden would have been attached or connected during the Isu era. Such hypothesis depends on the fact that in the AC2 glyph puzzles Subject 16 / Clay Kaczmarek said “The Pieces were once part of a whole.” and, about the Shroud of Eden, “First plucked from a tree guarded by a snake, its powers perform miracles.

Thus, according to the theory, this mechanical structure possibly originally held every Piece of Eden before they were “plucked” from it, and that’s where – in the AC lore – several myths may have originated, such as:

Needless to say, all of these examples are mentioned in the AC2 glyphs and are all confirmed to be events involving Pieces of Eden.

So, the idea was / is that the design in the Colosseum Vault represented this tree, which according to several accounts was guarded by the (technological?) equivalent of a snake / dragon which, in turn, might be what the spiral-like symbol at the center of the design may represent.

Back then there was also another and more practical interpretation of the “tree” design. If Desmond / the player activated Eagle Vision, the design would turn into this:

The path required of Desmond to reach the Apple of Eden (Source: AC Wiki)

The red outline basically indicated the route that Desmond had to take among the several platforms to reach the three main ones (the three horizontal lines) and then the center of the chamber where the pedestal - and Juno - was lying.

Which was the correct interpretation, then? Possibly both. Or maybe none. Back then, and again, it was 7 years ago, TwentyGlyphs hypothesized that the Tree would have been the object that would have saved Earth from the Second Catastrophe, but as we know it did not happen like that and that design was never mentioned again after Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood apart from a tiny appearance on a page of the Voynich Manuscript in Assassin’s Creed Brahman.

The "Tree of Life" design on a Voynich Manuscript page in Assassin's Creed Brahman (Source: AC Wiki)

So is the one in the Segment 3 an accidental illustration after all? Who knows…

There is another instance where the “tree” design and the serpent-like figure from the Colosseum Vault was used in Brotherhood… and I’ve already mentioned it in this article. It’s the fourth Scroll of Romulus, where Brutus describes what happened when he entered the Vault.

“The door has opened! What lies inside
has altered my perception and
left me shaken” (Source: AC Wiki)
”Something lies at the center of the
chamber, something powerful that I cannot
reach...” (Source: AC Wiki)

Thus, as another hypothesis, the “tree design” in the Segment 3 picture could be a reference to Brutus as he is mentioned in the message read by the Khufu narrator, especially for the fact that he sketched the Vault… but – Plot Twist! – there’s another detail in the Segment 3 picture that can help us with the interpretation: the pair of wings on the sides of the tree design.

Once again, those are not just some wings. In fact, those are very similar to the wings that appear in Desmond Miles’ t-shirts in Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood and Revelations.

Sources: AC Wiki and marcelodzn
You can check the Desmond t-shirt replica at this link for a comparison

If those are really the wings in Desmond’s t-shirt, then the symbol in the Segment 3 picture may be more of a reference to the events involving Desmond and his team in the Colosseum Vault. Or just a nod to fans. As usual with details as tiny as this one, we’ll probably never know…


If part of the content of Segment 3 was mainly already known by the AC fans (the Isu trying to change their destiny and not being able to do so), the message and picture offer some interesting details about how they reacted to this immutable fate, especially considering their concept of time. They tried to save what they could by transferring their story in their buildings and in their artifacts and they tried the six methods of salvation described in AC3, but nothing helped them preventing the catastrophe. When that happened, some of the surviving Isu realized that even if they could read and understand time, they could not change its course. Among all the tragedy, though, these Isu still believed that something could be changed in the fabric of time, maybe even the past. And so they sent Desmond an updated messag…. No, they sent messages for Layla Hassan 5 years after December 21st, 2012.

Why is that? This will be the main topic of the next articles of the "Breaking the Code" series ... For now, however, unfortunately we must already stop with the analysis to resume soon with the next Segments of the Empirical Truth!

As usual, therefore, do not hesitate to tell us what you think of the analysis, if there is something that you particularly liked or if there are elements that you think I forgot or that you do not agree with and, as always, stay synchronized with us!

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