Beetles are an insect that was important to the D’ni people, although images and representations of them do not appear frequently throughout the D’ni city or many of their cultural works. Indeed, the best representations of them – as well as much of the information about them – we have came from Riven, the 5th Age of Gehn.
Some property of the beetles was used in the creation of the special Ink used to write Descriptive and Linking Books. It is thought that perhaps their wings or shells were used as part of the beetle was crushed when making the ink, similar to how some artificial colouring is on Earth, however the exact process is unknown. It is assumed that the D’ni bought the beetles with them from Garternay when they fled the dying Age.
The most well known beetle is the Golden Scarab Beetle which The Stranger found on Riven. With the exception of Catherine and the Rivenese, The Stranger is the only non-D’ni known to have seen a live specimen. Sadly, The Stranger did not have time to examine the subjects so we do not know much about these beetles.
It is unknown if the beetles seen on Riven were native to the Age or if Gehn wrote them into the Age, as he had a penchant for writing such things into his Ages so that he would have all the resources he needed. Similarly, it is unknown if the beetles were the same as the D’ni used for their ink creation before The Fall. It can be assumed that if they are not the exact same beetles they are very similar. Gehn adorned one of the chambers on Riven’s Temple Island, known as the Beetle Room, with wall-mounted sculptures of them.
The Stranger also noted a sculpted ink well in the shape of a Golden Scarab Beetle on Gehn’s 233rd Age. Given Gehn’s obsession with all things D’ni, it can be assumed that he desired to have the beetles on Riven as close to those used by the D’ni as possible.
The only other known reference to beetles can be found in the Age of Gahreesen. In one of the chambers of the first garrison can be found cages with a beetle motif on their front.
It seems that these beetles were different to those that were used to create Ink for the Descriptive and Linking Books. According to notes left by the DRC, these beetles “sought out” ink, acting as kind of sniffer dogs for any Books trying to be smuggled into the Age.
Yeah, looks like mainly for books. There is another ticket window on the other side although this one looks different. I’m pretty sure those are beetle cages on the other side. Beetles that sought out ink. Somebody was just telling me there are all kinds of reference to them in other docs. You didn’t make it past this room with a book.From the Gahreesen notebook written by Michael Simpson
The “other docs” mentioned in the above quote have not been released publicly by the DRC, thus we don’t know what other information they had on the Gahreesen beetles. However, it would appear that no live specimens were found within the garrison when the DRC arrived, however it’s fair to assume that after The Fall and the damage sustained in Gahreesen – you can see a few of the cages had been broken open – that the beetles most likely escaped into the surrounding jungle.