Letters from a Renegade
I: An Introduction to Consequence
We must each walk our own path, find our own way, every step forward unique to the lives we've led, the choices we've made. Yet we're connected. All of us. By choice. By consequence. By random luck, and those steps taken and decisions made. Our individual lives shaped by the person we were, the person we are, the person we claim to be, the person we hope to be—the stages of our singular existence. Or so we tell ourselves, lost as we are in our own stories. In truth, there is no "I," no singular existence. Never has been. Never will be. You. Me. Your fireteam and friends. Your allies and enemies. All lives move with—collide with—other lives, for better or worse, to form the whole of a lifetime (lifetimes?). It took me a long time to understand this: None of us are alone. I call it the "first understanding"—it's a bit of an inside joke. But I think maybe you get it. In fact, I'm quite certain you do. That's why I'm writing you. That's why now, after a life removed from the bigger picture, I'm risking everything I am on a simple bet—that you are different. That you are better. Than me. Than them—those who would tempt the dark. This is what I want—need—you to understand. Your path is not your own. It is shared. It has impact. It carries consequence and creates wake, both obvious and unseen. And the path you're currently walking is… concerning. For yourself, whether you see it or not. More importantly, for others. For those you may—those you will—influence. Collisions yet to come. New paths unimagined. Collateral impacts beyond the narrow view of your own life. Have you considered this? I ask not to sway you; you will find your way, and I will hold off judgment until judgment is necessary. I ask because we are at our best when considering the fallout of our intentions—good or bad, grand or small. That's all I'm after, here and now… Your consideration. Of the deeds left behind. And deeds yet to come. Who do you claim to be? Who do you hope to be? And how do the ripples of those answers expand to touch the lives around you? Think on your life and your actions. And continue ever forward. I will help where I can, with knowledge gained from a life hunting the very dangers you tempt. And though we'll never meet—our paths crossing at a distance as we each seek to confront all that drives us—from this moment on, our lives will never be the same. My name is Shin Malphur. And I believe you, Guardian, are the hope I was told was a lie. —S.
II: For Fear of the Conquering Hero
I knew a man once. Some claim he was a monster, and I agreed for a very long time. Anymore, I refuse to honor him with the power such labels imply. "Monster." "Beast." "Other." Terrors meant to frighten—meant to weaken, meant to control. There are no monsters. Only the broken and the misunderstood. Still terrifying, sure. But knowable. Conquerable. Unworthy of the power they possess. This man, clad in black and misshapen by the weight of his sins, professed to wield hope as a weapon, to offer it as a crutch, a beacon he saw as false promise. "Nothing dies like hope," he'd say. And was right. The loss of hope stings like no other. But he knew something else—a truth he would not share, a truth muddied by his words and deeds and the grim menace of his presence. And that truth? Hope is eternal. It may fade. It may get lost in the pain and suffering of existence. But it's always there. Somewhere. Hidden maybe, in plain sight or far from view. This man who craved fear, who inflicted its curse on all he encountered, once conquered the life or death game that would become your training ground. Seeing you, and other Guardians, enforce your will over your fellow champions of the Light is reminiscent of the ease with which he was said to dispatch his rivals. But you are not his equal. None are. Not Lord Shaxx. Not Commander Zavala. None of his "shadows" or the new breed who wear his title like a badge of honor. "Dredgen" means "abyss." It is an ancient tongue. Not Human. Not Hive. Just forgotten arcana—another layer of uncertainty and fear draped around a bastard to provide comfort against his sins. It means "nothing." It is a void. As is his path. And while you enjoy your victories and embrace the competitive fires of the Crucible, I would ask you to reflect once more upon yourself… Do you find joy in the challenge, or in the pain you inflict upon your "enemies"? Do you revel in the thrill of facing your equal in combat—in testing the limits of your might? Or do you take pleasure in the breaking of their spirit? Reflect on the answers you find. Seek yourself within the truth of your deeds. Are you a hero or are you a conqueror? One can harness the other, but the opposite is not true. For what it's worth, I see both in you. —S.
III: A Fire Inside
How did it feel? Hunting the Crow—tracking him through the tangled wilds of the Reef? Hunting the Barons—one-by-one, stalking the cutthroats who killed your friend? Was it righteous? Or pure, anger—vengeance driven by a lust for "justice"? I know the feeling. I know the sensation—loss, followed by a hole so big you can't fill it with anything but retribution. I've felt that hole twice. First when everything I'd known was turned to ash. I was just a child then. No way of knowing when, or if, the pain would end. A man—Jaren, my third father—helped redirect that pain. Give me purpose. Taught me to hunt. Taught me to survive. Taught me about vengeance. It felt good—like a fire inside. Or so I thought. In truth, the "good" was just a dulling of the pain—a covering up of the burden of my loss through the redirection of my focus. Why be sad? Why be broken? When you can be angry. And so I was. For a long time. After Jaren died—killed by the would-be monster and his Weapon of Sorrow—I hated him for a good while. I was alone again. Lost. I had no direction. I felt abandoned—just me and the hole left by losing everything I knew The man who'd destroyed my life twice over—first the burning of Palamon, my home, then the murder of my mentor and father-figure—still walked the wilds, but I was just a young man, angry and frightened. Vengeance—the fire inside me—was a weight, not a comfort, because I lacked the confidence needed to see it through. I spent a long time mad—at the murderer who played in shadows, at Jaren for leaving me, at the world, at myself for being lost, at Jaren's Ghost for not believing in me. My anger defined me. As did yours. For a short while. What I wonder is, have you ever considered… Cayde's death was not the origin of your recent aggression, but simply a catalyst for its release. That it's possible this whole second life of yours has been driven by vengeance: for the life you lost before your return as a Guardian, for the world—worlds—lost to the Great Collapse. Are you truly fighting to protect and reclaim, or have you been fighting this whole time to avenge? What are you fighting for now? Does your anger define you? If yes, if no—what are the consequence of either? Honestly. Truly. Ask yourself… What are you fighting for? And can you feel a fire—even a spark—welling up inside of you? —S.
IV: Something New
I've hunted Guardians. You know this. I've hunted Guardians on the path you now tread. Not the same path—their own. But similar—of a kind. Some have seen the error of their ways sooner than others. I'm not a murderer, but I have—when necessity dictated a drawing of arms. I prefer the alternative. I prefer less finite measures. But I've found most who choose this life—a life in search of answers mired in shadow—rarely grasp the extent of their actions. Few reflect. Few actually understand. I've seen the damage done by those who would control the uncontrollable. I won't allow it to repeat. To the best of my ability, I will stand against the corruption and challenge all who let the whispers in. Yet, here we are. You, a Guardian worthy of legend, dancing ever closer to the edge of an abyss. And I, one who stands against those who would tempt such a fate. Yet I, for the first time, haven't moved to stop the music. This is something new. That you and I could share these words is something new—there's something in you, something about you. Not just bravery—I've seen that come and go. Not just might—the greatest fools I've ever known have also been the greatest warriors. You're curious, but your curiosity is not a weapon—it is a tool. And somewhere in there—in the merging of courage and might and curiosity—I see something worthy of a risk. So go forth. Fight for the Light, and challenge the dark. I will be watching with a hopeful heart. But know, should you overreach—should the consequences of the steps you take catch innocents in your wake, should your path veer blindly toward the perversion of your will and the whispers become your truth—I will be there to end it. And you. But you already knew I was going to say that. Understand, this is not a threat, it's just the way of things. —S.
V: Echoes Followed by Silence
I've done my best to offer myself as a voice of reason as you've continued down this road. I have few facts to offer you, only experience—the truth of my being. But here's another truth— I've told you very little that is new. Every word. Every question. Each time I've implored you to reflect. I was nudging you down a path you had already chosen. To consider your actions is at the core of you. I have seen it. I have heard of it—in the words of your fellow Guardians as they recount your feats—your courage, your selflessness. You may tread the razor's edge of damnation, but you are, at your very heart, a just and noble warrior. If I played any hand in expanding your consideration of the people and worlds around you. If I've helped you take better stock of all you are and all you are capable of becoming. So be it. But it was all—all of it—already inside of you. This isn't a pep talk. This isn't a signal boost for your hero's ego. I am saying this because I know things you do not know—from experience. Right now, I imagine you are questioning your true nature, "Who is this 'renegade' to define me? My thoughts? My actions?" Could be you've been warned about me. Could be, maybe, you're a little scared. After all, "the man with the golden gun doesn't play well with others." I leave all that nonsense to you. But by way of a quick word in defense of my intentions… If they were anything but in your best interest, this conversation would've been had with lead, not words. And it would've been your last. And while you have dark thoughts, and are no saint, we are all far from pure. It's not the lack of sin that makes the best of us, it's that the best of us feel the weight of our deeds, and do not succumb—to the weight, to temptation. And I know something you don't know—a secret. The hows and whys don't matter—that's an understanding for another day. But know this… When you are at your lowest. When hope has faded and you're all alone—in the world, inside your head. When the odds are stacked and despair has taken hold. Remember your fire. It's always there. Once sparked, once the anger—once fear—has lit the fuse, the flame will remain, always—a beacon signaling to eternity that you are here and you will stand, no matter the obstacle. And, in the end, if you so choose, it won't be whispers and shadows that save you—that corruption seeks only to abuse. No— It will be your first loud words, and your enemies' last. Don't question the moment. This is my only, best advice. Take hold. Speak clearly. The echoes followed by silence will tell the tale, and the Last Word will be ever yours. —S.
VI: A Gift and a Touch of Gray
The gun came to you? How does it feel in your grip? Few can light its fire, but any reborn of the Light can call its name. That's a secret I'm bound to hold. Just know you've earned it, and you've earned it true. The cannon you hold is yours, but it is no replica—it is a gift from a friend. I've hunted agents of the Darkness for longer than I care to recount. From childhood to now—not constant, not always, but anymore it's what defines me. My drive has long been clear—seek the shadow and your future is forfeit, seek the dark and I will end you. It's not personal—not anymore, though it surely started that way and stayed as such until one day on a lonely ridge. By now you've heard the story—the ballad of Jaren Ward and his Last Word, of Dredgen Yor and Palamon—Durga, Velor, North Channel, of Thalor and Pahanin, of our hunt and Jaren's death, of Dwindler's Ridge and my final showdown with the man who would be a monster. It's a long tale, and nothing I'm interested in revisiting. Not anymore. Them chapters are old. We're writing a new one—you and I—a final act for me, an unexpected beginning for you. My life has always been about absolutes. There is Light and there is dark, and I made my purpose to defend against the whispered corruption of the shadow's calling. I've seen no middle ground, though maybe I've always known it exists. I've also seen many "heroes" tempt that sinister fate and the dire consequences born of their ignorance, pride, selfishness. I've put many down. More than anyone knows. More than I'll ever confess. Seeing you. Watching you. I don't feel I was wrong in my actions. But I now know I was wrong in my core assumption—my core belief. To me, there was only ever white and black—good and evil. In you, I see blinding Light. I see a hero among heroes. I see the hope you inspire shining through. But I also see, for the first time—maybe, just maybe—a little bit of gray. And with it, an end to last rites and final words. —S.