The Tangled Shore
These Bad Lands
"Don't fool yourself. These rocks and this metal may be lashed together, but they ain't tamed. This far out, the only law is outlaw. The only justice? Last rites. "So, walk careful—head on a swivel, hand on the hilt, all that—cuz that glare you feel is the narrowed eyes of ill-intent aimed at your honor, your heart… your head. "And know this: Your every step is set upon blooded ground. The whole of the Shore… This is a wasteland built where a few sought to survive. In the dim light of a lost age, this wild frontier was a fleeting hope-turned-final restin' place—a graveyard at the end of existence. "Some say you can still hear the screams—echoes of the lost and damned ringing from just out of sight. Don't believe 'em. That's just the stretching and bending of the supports—old metal moaning in the celestial breeze, the grinding of scrap and stone calling out, giving warning. "These tethered lands be not safe. This twisted reef be not kind." —Excerpt from C.C. LaGrange's Translations of "Writings and Observations from the Tangled Shore: A Fallen Text" "There's no way that's a direct translation." —Cayde-6
Riddled with Lies
"Trust is your shield. Trust is your weakness. In the end, we all fall to betrayal." —Excerpt from C.C. LaGrange's translations of "Writings and Observations from the Tangled Shore: A Fallen Text" A simple riddle for you to consider… "Only truth can conquer lies. But what is truth? And in whose eyes?" What then of the Butcher of Bamberga? What then of the Psyche Hordes' slayer? The Terminus of the Gray Legion? The Sliver of the Shadowed Veil? The Bandit of Old Bassa? The Dire Siren of Valian's Reprieve? What then of so many who are one—a single scourge, responsible for many varied tragedies? The Trickster. The liar. Silver-tongued Araskes, the Wit. She who bartered with the Spider and nearly cost him his life. She who swindled a dozen bounty hunters that she alone may profit. So many tales of Araskes' sleight of hand and tongue and mind. The enemy who has won battles where no battle was fought. Who has killed more rivals than have ever risen to her challenge. What is known and unknown? None can say. And the sly prankster would have it no other way. Of all the Barons marked by scorn, it is Araskes to fear, for her greatest weapon is the dissolution of truth. She will give you certainty, only to reshuffle the deck. She will grant you your desire, only to reveal it is truly regret. If this realm can allow for gods, then she may be the first among devils—unknowable, unpure. Her tongue will cut you down long before your body falls. If you don't believe—if you find yourself questioning the depths of her deceit—ask yourself a simple question: Did you kill her? And if you did, did she die? If the answer is yes, her trap is set. If your answer is… It's okay. You don't have to say it. Maybe you will survive out among these wild shores longer than most. Though maybe not as long as you'd like.
"Be wary of those who would do harm. Yourself included. Mind that you do not become undone. For once infliction is tinged with joy, you are not but a beast. And are we not more than that? Do we not strive for better?" —Excerpt from C.C. LaGrange's translations of "Writings and Observations from the Tangled Shore: A Fallen Text" It was Reksis Vahn who saw to the final days of the House of Wolves. With cold hatred, he hunted and slaughtered their Servitors until none remained, and thus a rabid House did fall. But Reksis Vahn's rage was not sated, as the Wolves alone were not the architects of his fury—all Fallen who clung to the ritual of House politics were his enemy, total and complete. It is told that he was starved as a young Dreg. He watched in agony as others grew strong while he and his closest brothers and sisters were kept low. They were unworthy, pathetic, unwanted. But Reksis was ever aware. He saw the lie of the Archon's worship—how Servitors were revered upon a pedestal of godhood as a means to control the masses. Maybe there was a time when the Fallen theology was one with greater concerns. No more. The Houses fractured, at war with one another. Old graces long since neglected in favor of a more desperate purpose—survival. While cast low, Reksis found strength in his growing hatred. Only when he found common disdain among those twisted outcasts who would call themselves Scorned—who wore their hated derision as a badge of honor—did Reksis also find an outlet for his anger. His new brothers and sisters saw great value in his unchecked aggression. They were all a bit mad in their own right. All a bit twisted. But where others slipped toward insanity, Reksis's mind and intent were clear—the agony of a terrible death was his aim. The target of his wickedness, the very Servitors he had been denied. The very machines that sustained the Fallen. He would tear and slice and rend their metal until their hissing deaths rang across the Shore, the Reef… the entire system. He would make all who do not stand with the Scorned Barons feel the anguish he once felt, tenfold. And he would do so gleefully, watching the life drain from their eyes.
A Blind Eye Toward Tomorrow
"They who draw, mustn't always draw first. For it is not speed that kills, but the eye—keen and sharp. So, then, do not feel death. See it. Know it. And it shall manifest upon the trigger's embrace." —Excerpt from C.C. LaGrange's translations of "Writings and Observations from the Tangled Shore: A Fallen Text" Pirrha, the Phantom. Pirrha, the Blind. The Fallen Baron with the all-seeing eye and the crack-shot. The Awoken link him to the legend, "The Ghost of Hellrise Canyon," believing it was Pirrha, and Pirrha alone, who haunted the winding depths, picking off intruders and holding off Corsair raiding parties as his fellow Barons planned their violent reign in the maze of caverns near the canyon's heart. He was unseen during the Wolves uprising, but many credit him with the assassination of the Queen's palace guard. None can verify, but each fell to a single shot—clean, precise, fatal. But how can a blind pirate who had been discarded and scorned by his House become the deadliest shot this side of Mars? This is where the Barons' true strength hides. They are each a devil worthy of your hate, but together they are so much more. Not simply devils, but Hell itself—manifest, angry, and aggressive. Rumors and legend merge to tell of the Machinist's expert hand, the Rifleman's cybernetic eye and a link between his sight and the tracking systems on his rifle. What he sees, he hits. What he hits, he kills. There is evidence of Fallen giving themselves to technology. Becoming other—becoming more—as they marry their physical selves to enslaved mechanics. The mercenary Taniks is one example—more machine than Fallen now, an abomination in the eyes of traditional Fallen belief. The Splicers and their augmentation through SIVA—a twisted experiment brought low by the mighty hand of the heroes of Iron. Is Pirrha any different? The Barons and Taniks and the Splicers are each and all individual dangers, driven by their own ambition. They are more likely to wage war with one another than see their commonality. Yet are they not of a kind? Are they not evidence of something greater wending its way through the Fallen's dying culture? Are they not the warning signs of a new terrible evolution? One can only wonder—and hope—these horrid amalgamations of life and technology are simply outliers and not a promise of tomorrows yet to come.
The Ragged Valley Sprint
"Many are lost to the Shore's wayward ebb and flow. The shifting mass gives and takes—pulls and tears. The ground beneath ever uncertain, so tread carefully, as other dangers distract. But death lingers, its grip loose but present. Waiting to take hold. Waiting to embrace all who walk these tangled lands." —Excerpt from C.C. LaGrange's translations of "Writings and Observations from the Tangled Shore: A Fallen Text" The Ragged Valley is long and harsh and no valley at all. Not by traditional definition. Its hollow length runs between a series of lashed asteroids on the Shore's far western edge. They call it a "valley" to be poetic, but in truth, it is simply the chaotic space between massive rocks that scrap and smash into one another in a violent dance. The distances from mass-to-mass ebb and flow without warning—a constant, deadly repositioning of the landscape. That ever-changing hollow is the Valley. Only the mad and desperate would dare run its length. With one exception… Yaviks. The Rider. The reason she made the run changes with the telling. You know she is neither mad nor desperate what with her skills on a Pike and killer determination. But the run itself—it's a legend as awe-inspiring as any Guardian's, save the fact Yaviks is a wicked beast and better off dead. The story goes… She was running Ether… or making off with lost Golden Age tech. Some say Clovis Bray science. Others tell it was drivers from a forgotten Warmind. Or maybe she'd just dropped a Guardian and was running full-throttle from a fireteam set on revenge—a common theme this far out. Or was it pride? Did a Captain or a Kell or an Archon challenge her ability to ride? Did Fikrul? After all, their relationship is… complicated. None of that matters. Not to me. Each version of the start is as interesting as the next. But the run itself? Her ride through the gnashing jaws of death? Most Guardians who have heard it dismiss it. Don't want to give credit to one so infamous—the Scorned Baron with the blood on her hands, the loot in tow and her burners set to top speed—but she deserves it. Don't believe me. Ask Marcus Ren. He wasn't there that day, but he'd heard tell and couldn't believe. So he made the run himself. Four goes. No dice. One resurrection. Four Sparrows busted to rubble. Marcus Ren, the Sparrow Racing League champion and hero to speed junkies and race hounds City-wide, couldn't sprint that Valley. "Too random," he said. "Too chaotic. Can't read the rock one minute to the next. Can't read the angles." But he tried again, and on the fifth go, he scraped through a narrow as the collision hit. He'd made it. The impossible was possible, though he refused to admit Yaviks could've done the same. Not that it mattered. That Ren had come out alive proved it could be done, and if it could—why not Yaviks? Not that Yaviks ever cared for validation. Not yours. Not Ren's. Not any Guardian's. Not any Fallen's. Not anyone's. She took pride in recognition from her brother and sister Barons and no others.
"Out here, they who craft their own fate see tomorrow, while they who depend on faith rarely make it through today." —Excerpt from C.C. LaGrange's translations of "Writings and Observations from the Tangled Shore: A Fallen Text" If you had not heard of the Machinist before, know that others had. While her crimes may not live in infamy in the hearts of City-dwellers, the Reef and its Awoken know all too well her long reign of terror. Elykris, the Bandit, they call her. Elykris, the Scourge. The Scorned Machinist—tinker-lord of a Houseless crew. But should those names be new to your ears, there are others you trust who have felt the pain of her vile campaign. Ask your Arach of the Machinist's deeds. Ask him about the Siege of Arran—the hijacked ship, its stolen contents and its Guardian protectors lost or captured at the hands of the scorned. Speak to your Vanguard of the Solis Descent—more Guardians felled, and an armory stripped of its cache. The lowly Dreg who challenged tradition only to be cast aside. The lowly Dreg who found her own strength in a troubling bond with forsaken kin. She grew strong as an outcast—grew mean. Then found her purpose with the guidance of a preacher of sorts and a new, more driven crew. Now, then… the questions you must ask yourself… Had you known of the Baron's deeds, had you heard tell of the Machinist's crimes—could you have changed the path tread from there to here? From yesterday to today? Better yet… your Vanguard, your factions, your friends and allies—what all have they kept from you? If they spoke not of the Scorned Barons, if they issued no warning, is it because they simply did not see the full scale of the danger? Were they too distracted by wars within wars and interests of their own to issue the guidance needed for you to see the Shore for the threat it has always been? Perhaps given guidance that may well have saved countless lives? Or at least one life in particular…
An Evolution of Faith
"Find your honor not in your station, nor the words and gifts of those who seek control, but in yourself—in your actions, deeds, and soul. To look anywhere else is a lie." —Excerpt from C.C. LaGrange's translations of "Writings and Observations from the Tangled Shore: A Fallen Text" Fikrul was an Archon. Then Fikrul took a fall—beaten, docked, and banished for heresies against Eliksni faith. He should have died—alone and starved of precious Ether. He did not. Instead, he found kin in the form of seven scorned. With them, he found purpose and power. As their legend grew, he found believers and new truth. His banishment was not penance, it was reward—for his convictions, for his courage. Fikrul, the crazed fanatic. Fikrul, the heretic Archon who spoke against the very faith he once held dear. Scorned and forgotten—but only for so long. Fikrul was a Dreg. Before his banishment—before his clarity of purpose—Fikrul was a celebrated leader of Fallen faith and a savior to those who embraced his teaching. Archons had long been elevated in Fallen society, but their stature grew, and their role shifted following the Whirlwind. As desperation took hold and the last of the Fallen raced across the stars in search of salvation, their dependence on machines evolved into a deep-rooted need—their weapons to fight, their ships to fly, their Servitors to survive. That need became worship. That worship became faith. And the Archons—those who oversaw the care and consecration of the Servitors—were looked upon to provide hope through their words, teachings, and interpretations of the machines' wants, needs… desires. But Fikrul saw another path—one that would later be mimicked and twisted by the techno-deviant Splicers in the Plaguelands of Earth while he and his explored their own darker interpretations of faith. Fikrul is a Fanatic. Scorned and abandoned. Fikrul is all who strive to regain strength of self and purpose. He is a survivor. He is the outcast priest of the broken plains, and his sermon is death and all the glory that follows. In Fikrul's eyes, and those of the outcasts who rallied to his philosophies, machines were not superior. They were not gods. They were tools. Instruments to be mastered and controlled and manipulated in service of Eliksni pride. None should grovel for Ether. None should have their honor bound to the whims of manufactured deities. But the evolution of Fikrul's faith did not end there. If the machines—the very things that had regulated the whole of their existence—were tools, why not life itself? Why not death? There are many tales of the time between Fikrul's fall and his rise again as spiritual leader of the Scorned Barons—his struggle to find strength as a battered Dreg, his journeys across the system to challenge his faith, his joining with the other outcasts who were scorned, and his eventual union with his "father." The only thing that matters, however, when confronting the dangers of Fikrul is this: He is a creature of faith. His faith is the antithesis of all who stand in the Light. That faith has raised an army. That army will baptize all who challenge its purpose in an unending sea of death. They will never stop. They will never give in. Because they know they are right. And everything you stand for is wrong.
A Scorned Path
"Surviving is a whole lot easier when your enemies are dead." —Excerpt from C.C. LaGrange's translations of "Writings and Observations from the Tangled Shore: A Fallen Text" It was Elykris, the Machinst, who'd begun hoarding the Servitors. And Reksis, the Hangman, who slaughtered them at every turn. Two allies driven by opposing forces—one science and the unmaking of faith, the other rage and its relentless push to destroy. There had long been tension between the two, as Reksis had, more than once, slipped into the Machinist's workshop to inflict himself on the Servitors caged there. Fikrul, the Fanatic—their spiritual leader and one-time Archon Priest—watched patiently as their rivalry grew. He saw strength in their ire. He saw fire and fury, but also more—a new path forward. One that could join their passions and drive them further—a whole stronger than its warring parts. Fikrul waited, biding time as tensions rose and threatened to splinter the Barons' loyalties. Only when Elykris could take no more, on a night when she caught the Hangman prepared to slaughter her latest haul of lesser Servitors, did Fikrul step in. Fikrul motioned to Elykris and said, "Bring me a Servitor." As Reksis hissed with anticipation, she hesitated, but Fikrul was patient. "Where is your trust?" Elykris released a Servitor from its bondage. Fikrul motioned the Servitor closer, then turned to Elykris. "You have gathered many, Machinist. Hundreds. Maybe more. Our own supply—our life force fed by slaved mechanics." Elykris nodded to the Servitor as it inched closer to the Archon's open arms—welcoming the once revered orb as one would a child. The other Barons began to bark, a rhythmic warriors' chant. "For all the value in your work… it is not enough to feed ourselves." Fikrul hugged the Servitor. There was a tenderness to the embrace. A sorrow. "We must also starve our enemies, as you were once starved." With a blur, Fikrul's lower arms unsheathed and triggered a pair of polished, sparking Shock Blades. "As were we all." The Servitor, still held with the clutches of the Archon's powerful upper arms, cried a shrill, digital wretch—pain mixed with confusion as the blades carved its outer shell and plunged deep into the core of its systems. Ether hissed and sprayed. Fikrul released the machine's silent shell, and it clanged lifeless to the ground. He turned to Elykris. "Do you see?" Elykris smiled. She was ever the brightest among them, though her focus could lose clarity when she became frenzied. The Barons had long been trouble for the Awoken and Fallen of the Reef, but that trouble had been limited to hit-and-run tactics. What Fikrul had just presented was a new way. Fikrul stepped to Reksis. "Do you see?" The brute barked in response, "Kill them all!" Fikrul laughed. "Not 'all,' Hangman. Just the ones we do not need." The Barons cheered as Fikrul continued, "Every Servitor—any Servitor—bound to a House is now a target. Until none remain but those upon whom we feed."
A Gift of Madness
"The song of the grinding stone calls like pained sirens—shrill and uneven. Its melody is a warning, yet still they come… Adventurers. Bounty hunters. Scoundrels. And unwanted. Here they find purpose. Or hide from those worlds beyond. Those polite lands, which 'heroes' strive to reclaim. There is no reclamation here. The Shore is ever-wild, and so shall it remain… Ever the broken land where madness dwells and violence reigns." —Excerpt from C.C. LaGrange's translations of "Writings and Observations from the Tangled Shore: A Fallen Text" The questions no one asks… Was the Bomber always mad? Or was he driven to it? Was the madness a gift—or a curse? Did the struggle for survival outside the structure and ritual of the House system crack his mind? The things he'd seen? Done? The Shore asks much of those who call it home. Most simply find their end through the harsh will of these harsh lands or by the hand of the hardened agents who stalk its fractured expanse—bandits, cutthroats, cannibals, Awoken patrols, Guardian "heroes." There are a billion ways to die among the jagged wilds of the Tangled Shore. To challenge those odds is no small feat. To do so while maintaining self, rarer still. However, isn't it also possible the Bomber was this all along? Mad. Deranged. Eager to inflict destruction. Lustful for the chaos and death to follow. The Seeding of the Accretion Fields. The Bombing of the Origin Libraries. Kaniks's handiwork has been linked to numerous tragedies, both as a rogue enemy of the Reef and in league with his scorned brothers and sisters with whom he grew strong—with whom he found the purpose he once lacked. These points—an examination on the birth of madness—I raise to address a lingering concern. Seek the Awoken libraries. Speak to Cryptarchs with knowledge of the Reef… the Shore. Scour the records of the Bomber's deeds. Feel the pain of those who suffered the fire of his devastation. Remember the Fields. Weep at the unimaginable loss when the Libraries fell. Allow yourself the comfort of knowing the sinister creature is now dead and gone by Guardian hand. But linger on victory's pride for only a short while, because the truth I seek to tell has yet to be revealed, and it is this… The Mad Bomber is dead—Kaniks is no more. Yet the Shore remains ever untamed. Despite valiant effort. Despite your incredible strength. And if the Shore remains tangled, its edges ever shifting, ever dire… Then who else may it drive to madness? First long-lost survivors of the fabled Golden Age, then stray Awoken and discarded Fallen… Maybe next, the warriors of the Light. Guardians. After all, more will surely come. And with more, however righteous you may be, the odds shift further in the Shore's favor. In the favor of madness. And if not another, Guardian… why not you?
No Heroes Here
Every inch of ground beyond the City walls is dangerous—safety not guaranteed—and of all the inches across every world in this dead and dying system, none are harder than every single inch of the Tangled Shore. This is not simply untamed space. It's worse. It's outlaw territory, where the worst of a bad lot come to find their fortune, ply their trade, or run from their sins. No one who has ever walked the Shore's broken stone has come back clean. Out here you've gotta break the rules just to get by. Oh, your moral compass? You better hope it's on the fritz, 'cuz doing the right thing will only get you killed. Unless you're strong enough to do it the wrong way. So, walk tall—the locals can sense the meek. Stand firm—backing down will only see you trampled. And aim true—each miss could be your last. Otherwise, go home. The Shore ain't no place for heroes, anyway.
The Lonely and the Dead
"Out here, the lonely fall in the company of those bound by the purest need: survival. "Find this truth. If not in your heart, in your mind. If not your mind, then your soul—the deepest part of you that connects to the most basic truths. To live for tomorrow, you have to fight for today. "Know this. Understand it. Live it. Find those likeminded survivors you can look to as kin. Only then can survival be within reach, because to walk the Shore unbound is to invite death." —Excerpt from C.C. LaGrange's Translations of "Writings and Observations from the Tangled Shore: A Fallen Text"
The Sad Story of Eldred Rush
"I'll tell ya of Eldred Rush. He didn't come out this way looking for trouble. He ain't a fool, neither. He knew trouble waited. He just didn't care. Couldn't, some would say. "Eldred was a prospector of sorts, digging around these parts in search of memories he considered gold. He had a mission, personal and pure: Find the rock on which his people fell. Some tell that he was the first Guardian to walk this deep. It's not true, but fits his tale and makes for a better legend. "Lonely Eldred walked these lashed lands cycle-upon-cycle, avoiding conflict when he could, but always hitting back when push came to shove. He was a gentle man, but violent when riled. "Eventually he found the spot where ancient survivors of an ancient collapse huddled and died. There, at the site of all he had lost—in an old life that was long since beyond his grasp—Eldred buried the dead he could not remember but felt in his heart. "Never saw Eldred again. No one did." —Excerpt from C.C. LaGrange's translations of "Writings and Observations from the Tangled Shore: A Fallen Text"
Gotta Do More than Shoot
"A lotta things to consider when sizing up a gunfight. Most just focus on steely eyes and steady nerves, and those have value—but the best of 'slingers weigh so much more. "The light in the sky or lack thereof. The temp and the breeze—how cool, how warm, which direction is the wind hitting and how hard? Further still: the ground beneath your boots. Is it solid or soft? Shifting or slick? All elements that speak to the moment of truth. "The wear of the holster. The feel of the grip. "But first and foremost, the best 'slinger will say never pick a fight with unfamiliar tools—unless the situation dictates an unavoidable outcome or in those instances when honor comes a-callin'." —Excerpt from C.C. LaGrange's translations of "Writings and Observations from the Tangled Shore: A Fallen Text"