The Eternal Chain and the Other's Prize
You've earned the Word. Replicated the sickness. Proven yourself time and again. Yet another challenge remains. Not your last. Far from it. Simply another chapter in another story that will bind your legend to those that came before. Rezyl sought to vanquish terrors. Yor fertilized the wilds with suffering and despair that a new hope would grow. I was that hope. My fire showed that whispers could be hushed. To many the legend, and the lesson, ends there. They're wrong. Dangerously so. Yor's true lesson—and by extension Rezyl's—wasn't that strength beats strength. His lesson was far more subtle, and infinitely more grand. Adversity leads to evolution. Forces it. And through that crucible we are remade. Better. Stronger. More than we were. The Guardians of today are not gods. Nor where those who came before. We are all simply links on a chain reaching back to the dawn of time, and forward to the end of existence. Each link gaining strength from the others. Each link stronger than the last. Just as I was "stronger" than Yor, you are stronger than me. The whole working to solidify the parts and growing sturdier as the harsh truths of reality stretch and strain to break us—to break the chain, sever our individual links. But our chain shall never break, because warriors like you and I are not so proud as to forsake our past. We learn from it, grow from it. It is the foundation upon which we build each victory. It is the catalyst for our change. And here, now, I offer you the chance to spark a new evolution—the next hallmark in our betterment, the next leap forward in our war against extinction. I've held this jagged weapon since that faithful day on Dwindler's Ridge. Kept it hidden away. Kept its secrets, kept its nightmares locked away where none could hear—none could be tempted. It's quiet now, except a low murmur, but its sickness remains. There were countless times I thought to destroy it—remove its threat from the playing field. But I knew it held a greater purpose, and I believe that purpose can be found and fulfilled in your hands. The Hive use untold methods to destroy us. The Weapons of Sorrow are but one. The fate of this wicked tool is in your hands now. Will you allow sorrow to linger—a festering threat waiting to consume all who are tempted by its power? Or will you forge a new road? Will you show the Hive and every Guardian who follows in your wake that sorrow does not guide us? I leave those questions for you to ponder, but I know what I believe. We are better than our deepest fears. We are ever and truly… Weapons of Light. —S.
Elegy for Callum Sol and Callum's Refrain
Elegy for Callum Sol Cull: Are you sure? Vale: Never more. Cull: I'm not questioning the plan. Just… Will it work? Vale: The temptation must go further. We've baited the hook with dark imaginings, but to truly gauge the ill-intent of those hiding behind the Light, we have to give them a clear path toward their darkest desires. Cull: And those who veer? Those who join my mad crusade? Vale: We do as your namesake suggests. Cull: Thin the herd. Vale: Excise the weak few that the whole may grow stronger. Cull: What if more join than intended? What if such vile messages speak to the fear that grips us all? Hate is easily sowed among a people on the brink. Vale: It's not the people we seek to judge. It is their protectors. We do this for the people. For the future. Cull: Not mine. Vale: Funny. Cull: Gotta get the jokes in while I can. Soon as I break rank it's all gloom and doom. Vale: You will become the darkest Shadow—the very thing they fear we will all become. Cull: And the Vanguard… They approve? Vale: No. They say this playacting will foster genuine hatred. Cull: They don't know what you ask of me. Vale: And they never will. Cull: I'll be a villain. Vale: Only to those who do not truly matter. *** Callum's Refrain Callum: I have tossed aside all I once held dear and returned to the purity of self. We do not need titles torn from dead fables. We are, and have always been, who we are. Hated. Feared. Lost. Broken. Dredgen Yor did not make us. Orsa and his fools would have us believe we walk in the footsteps of truest, pure sorrow. I say my sorrow equals that of Yor. I say it transcends. I say we are the future, and the future does not wait for failures resting as ash in a field on some lonely, forgotten ridge. The Book says we must be unmade, not remade, not evolved, not improved. Unmade. To achieve such glories, we must start with ourselves. We must look into the abyss, naked and unafraid of its judgment against our many human weaknesses. But Orsa knows this. As did Bane and the others. They fear true judgment. They would hide behind their interpretations of Yor's ancient texts. Seeking understanding as a means to delay what must be done. No more gambits. No more posturing. No more running from a lone man with a Golden Gun. Malphur is not a worthy foe; he is an excuse. No longer. From this moment on, we—those few brave enough to heed my words—will walk a straight line toward the abyss. We will end all who would change our course. Gathering: [cheers]
The Liar's Trap
The Gambit paid off. In more ways than one. The Guardians who joined in the Drifter's games have proven to be the perfect guinea pigs to demonstrate a larger point—the shadows of dark power that tempt us are not inherently evil. In fact, they are simply another tool to be used if we hope to bend the unknown to our will, an impossible feat we must learn to master if we wish to push back the ever-aggressive tide of extinction. Azzir knew this. Long ago. Long before anyone else, he saw the path forward; he simply didn't understand it. His courage and strength clouded the dangers of the path he tread. The path we now walk. The difference being we have Azzir's folly to guide us. We can, and have, learned from his mistakes. That some level of deceit was needed to further my goal of seeing Azzir's path to the end is... unfortunate. But necessary. The stage set by the foul sport the Drifter has crafted has given many Guardians the confidence they need to see the shadows for what they are without losing their way or tainting their Light. This was Azzir's gravest mistake. He plunged freely into the abyss thinking his will alone could fend off the whispers and the corruption. But alone we all fall. Only together can we thrive in light... and dark. Which leads to the other need addressed by Gambit's promise. Those Guardians who would give freely of themselves and seek not only power in the shadows, but comfort. Purpose. They have been drawn out and addressed. Some with force and, sadly, an end. Others quickly forfeit their troubling ambitions when faced with the dire truth of the journey they'd begun. In the end, many Shadows have fallen. But they have all been false prophets, lost souls who would have fallen to despair sooner or later. Best to tempt them here and now in a manner we can control and correct than to allow the weak-willed to fester within our ranks. —S.
The Darkest Shadow
Vale: Have you seen? Bane: Callum? Vale: Yes. He's shed his dark name and preaches our weakness. Paints us as cowards. Bane: He is a preacher born. New members flock to his twisted doctrine daily. Vale: More than I'd hoped. Bane: So many fought to "earn" the title Dredgen, only to throw it away when they found a voice that truly spoke to their anger and fear. Vale: Are you surprised? Bane: Not in the least. Disappointed, maybe. But surprised that the ignorant who fall under the thrall of any who stoked their hatred would be so easily swayed? Never. After all, was that our intent? Isn't this why Callum has taken this burden upon himself? Vale: It is. The division is becoming clear. As our numbers grow, more join Callum. As we gun them down, still more take up arms. The weak are being culled, as intended.
A New Legend to Guide Them
Do you see your role in all of this? Can you understand the importance of your deeds? The Hero of the Red War. The judge, jury, and executioner of the Scorned Barons. Your legend has only grown since your revival. So many challenges faced. So many obstacles overcome. It is you who must now show the rest—every Guardian, every warrior, every huddled, hopeful, broken soul—that we are ready to face any threat. And to do so, we must be willing and able to become masters of the Light and the Dark. This isn't to say we must give ourselves freely to the shadows. Far from it, and quite the opposite. We must instead bend those shadows to our will. Infuse them with Light such that their sickness dims, but their power remains. And when they writhe and hiss and refuse to be bound to our resolve, we will see them destroyed until all that remains are those powers that will be honed and controlled, and those that will be eradicated in the wake of our advance, from the brink of annihilation to our inevitable reclamation of this system and the stars beyond. It is you who must be the guiding light. It is you—the best of us. —S.
Vale: It is time. Callum: I am ready. Vale: You cannot return from this. Callum: Yeah. That was the deal. Vale: And you go forth with no regrets? Callum: We have riled the foolish and set the trap. If my end is the means by which we can ensure a generation of those whom the shadows would corrupt are removed from the playing field, then my end is welcome. Vale: Braver words have never been spoken. Callum: And Paola? Vale: Your Ghost understands as well as you. She is safe now, with Bane, given a new shell and… sad… but aware of what is at stake. Callum: Whose Ghost was this? Vale: Unknown. A dead thing wrapped in your familiar's carcass. Simply play your part, stab the thing, and when you are gone, I will plant the audio to set you as the martyr and myself as the villain. Callum: And what if they discover Malphur and Orsa are one and the same? Vale: They will not. Callum: Then onward, right? Vale: Ever. Callum: It's been an honor. Vale: The honor is now, has ever been, and will always be… mine. Callum: Too kind. Go well, friend. Vale: I will, brother. RTL.
The Brilliance of Bloom
Rose was never any more special than any other weapon of its time. It didn't fire faster or hit harder. Its power came from the hands that held it. Azzir was a gifted destroyer, a rare and mighty defender. And much like far older legends, his deeds and manner, his weapons and journeys have taken on lives of their own. So too, in time, will yours. I don't know that he ever reflected on his legacy. Truth told, I'd imagine he never considered his own death until after becoming the other—until after becoming Yor. I often wonder if he was aware of the monster he began, or whether even in that twisted, dark, nightmarish form, he still saw himself as the noble warrior—the defending knight giving all of himself to protect his crumbling castle. It's possible Vincent knows, though I would never ask him. There is still a soft spot there, a pained longing for the friend he'd lost. My point is, sometimes we are forced to become "other" as we make our way along our individual roads. You, however, have been true to yourself at every turn. Always facing forward. Always accepting the burden of impossible odds. Not because of glory, but because of necessity. A thing needed doing that we may all live to see another day, and so you did. Time and again. Your legend already spreads. But what you do next, as you conquer Light and shadow, will set us all on our way toward a future where generations will be fueled by your righteous might. You are the bloom that will serve as inspiration for the stories used to bolster the courage of countless heroes to come. You are all I, and untold others, could never be. A beacon. A champion. A true and honored Guardian. —S.
The Long Goodbye
I told you I was done once the Last Word was in your hands. But that letter, as with most things, was another test. I gave you all the guidance I could, and all the reassurance, but needed to see you acting upon all you have learned free of my direct hand. Sure, the Vanguard and your other allies, old and new, were around to aid you, but as always you forged a trail all your own, ever true to yourself, ever strong and defiant against the endless tide that threatens us all. Your consistent heroism and ability to adapt your skills and aggression to face ever-evolving trials prove you worthy of my confidence. This is why I shared my truths with you—my journey, the Shadows, our purpose, our sins. When you sought Thorn, the hated yin to the Word's noble yang, I knew you were headed in a fateful direction that would see me and mine as nothing more than afterthoughts in the wars to come. That I may have served as a catalyst for even a sliver of your continued growth is an honor. All of my faith says you will be a linchpin in the building of a new world, one where absolutes cower to the might of compromise, where Light tempers dark and the dark opens new insight into the Light's many undiscovered gifts. From this moment on, my closest allies and I will be gone. Our job is done. And, despite appearances, our purest intent was never as simple and mundane as to rile and endanger, though such tactics were needed. No, our task was always to find those, like yourself, who could further the meaning of what it means to be a Guardian and to push you forward in ways never before considered or allowed. Part of me worries that you will hold some level of contempt for the manner in which I have chosen to work. The Vanguard certainly do, and they do not endorse it, though they abide it. They don't know everything the Shadows and I have done. It is better that they do not. But know this—as clearly as you know anything—the means justify the ends and there is no part of me that regrets the choices I've made. The circumstances that have led us all here? Yes. There is a pain at the very heart of me that any of us must exist in this terrible world we have, in part crafted for ourselves, but know above all things: It is our enemies, those who have come from out of the black to hinder our every advance, who deserve our ire. They are wicked, and they are boundless in their villainy. I speak not only of the Hive or the Fallen, the Vex or the Cabal. There are enemies at every turn—including a small but growing faction of the champions you call brothers and sisters. Be ever-mindful of the selfish and ill-prepared. They are few, but they are a constant among any group striving to better themselves, and they will drag you down into the abyss faster than any Taken horde or Red Army. Good luck, Guardian. Hero. Friend. The true Shadows are no more—only myself, Grey, Maas, Pavic and Yasuul remain, and we take our leave of these wars. The rest—those guided by ignorance and fear—have been gunned down, and with your help, the hated name Dredgen has been reclaimed, worn now by heroes. Do good, Guardian. Be brave. —S.
And that is the all of it. A journey from nowhere to here, from my life to yours. It all started with Yor, but now the journey is yours. I never told anyone this, not even Teben, but the first whisper I heard was not aboard Yor's ship where we found his writings. Nor was it when we followed his path and resurrected our own diseased replicas of Thorn. The first whisper was on the Ridge, standing over his body. Just before I released the final two sun-baked charges into his limp, motionless body, there was a faint calling—wicked words in a hateful tongue. I've lived with those words every day and every night since. They were simple. They were quiet. And they were this... "Nothing ends." For the longest time I took them as a threat, as the abyss offering a promise that death had not been sated that day and that it would come, as it always has, for everyone and everything we know. But that would mean death is something to fear, that the natural order is our enemy. And then, years—decades—later I got to thinking. About Yor, but more importantly, about Azzir, and I came to a realization that doesn't have to be true to be my truth, and it is this... Those words were not the abyss. They were not a worm's whisper or a vile promise. Nor were they a threat. They were a warning. From Azzir to me. A fight had ended, but not THE fight. He was telling me, warning me, that a journey had ended, but many more were to come. The same goes for you. Yor. Me. The Shadows. Thorn. The Last Word. In the wake of your legend, we will all be footnotes—afterthoughts, forgotten by most. And someday another will make the same of you. This is our purpose, this is our charge—to inspire those who would continue our efforts. So, go now. This chapter is over, but remember now, and remember always... Nothing ends. —S.