I. Recorded by Scribe Tlazat The following pages are a true and authentic publication of the incredible deeds and remarkable discoveries of the Emperor Calus, greatest emperor of the Cabal, witnessed by his most loyal allies and recorded by his most trusted scribes. Upon suffering a terrible betrayal at the hands of false allies, Emperor Calus commissioned the Chronicon, a record of histories to preserve the truth of his magnanimous rule and unjust exile. His Royal Historians, Scribe Tlazat and Scribe Shagac, are solemnly entrusted with the writing and keeping of these vital records. The records begin thus: On the day that His Joyful Majesty was ejected from his home on Torobatl, a great mania of aggrieved despair seized the Cabal people. Millions of the Empire's most loyal and joyous subjects took to the streets to lash their hides in bloody mourning. The planet heaved and shook with a bereavement so mighty that the usurpers conceded they could not kill an emperor so beloved. In this way, the Emperor was placed upon a great prison ship called the Leviathan, and set on an unchangeable course away from his homeworld. Said the Emperor to his attendants on the eve of his exile: "I am the last and greatest emperor of the Cabal. My empire, built on joy and abundance, has been usurped by traitors who worship only war and brutality. They will destroy what I have built, and my cherished people will know only suffering under their fear-fisted rule. "I vow to one day return to this place to bring ease and abundance to our people. Until then, I proclaim a new era of history and future. This era will not be defined by the censors and book-burnings of my enemies, but instead by the golden knowledge of life's most toothsome sweetmeats, happiness and power. I will lavish this knowledge unto all who prove themselves worthy of my true counsel, and united in love, we will grow fat with jubilation. "Let my Chronicon be a shining beacon of truth in an age muddied by lies."
DLXXVIII. Recorded by Scribe Tlazat After many days of uninterrupted flight, the Leviathan experienced a violent malfunction. This Scribe prefers not to lean on metaphoric language when the accuracy of history is at stake, but in these unusual circumstances, the record may forgive a departure into the subjective: It was as if the ship had been plucked from the cosmos like a berry by some gargantuan hand, rolled between forefinger and thumb, squeezed and tested for ripeness, and then, having been found satisfactory, slung backward in an unknowable direction toward an unknowable maw. As a result, the ship's navigation and power systems were so severely disrupted that the Royal Pilots could make no hypothesis regarding their failure or repair. The ship was plunged into disarray and darkness, and its people gathered around the Emperor to seek his guidance and love. Instead, the Emperor donned a pressure-gel suit and demanded to exit the ship alone. Said Calus, "I wish to see the destination of my banishment in private." He could not be persuaded otherwise. ////// I, Tlazat, must break the convention of our record-keeping for fear that this entry may be the last of the Chronicon, Lens of Truth, Compendium of Happiness, Symbol of the Lavish Benevolence of His Majesty the Emperor. Two hours have passed since the Emperor exited the ship. We are buffeted by intermittent tremors, which are strong enough to dash even the steadiest guards against the walls. Shagac and several dozen others have been knocked unconscious. Zhozon, the Emperor's dearest confidante since his exile, complains of a mounting pressure in his skull; twelve others are bleeding from their ears. The Royal Beasts bay with incessant fury. I am no longer able to transcribe by hand. I shall write with my mind until I am incapacitated. We are afraid. We fear that our enemies have sent us to this place to die in the dark, far from the eyes of Calus's adoring public. The Emperor has not returned and is surely dead.
DLXXIX. Recorded by Scribe Tlazat After twelve hours of violent tremors, the Emperor returned. His behavior was erratic, and it appeared from his speech that he had suffered hallucinations outside the ship. A Royal Mechanic identified a malfunction in the pressure gauge of the Emperor's suit, perhaps explaining his change in demeanor, though it was incredible that his suit (or he himself) should be at all intact after twelve hours in these unfathomable conditions. Upon returning, and with a look of mania in his eyes, the Emperor proclaimed the following: "We have come upon the end of the world, and I've stared into its expanse. It has whispered into my ear, and I am enlightened. Death is coming, and It has made me Its herald. The end will eat everything." Here, the Emperor gave a great sigh, as if a weight was lifted off of him. "And when nothing matters, what's left? Joy. Comfort. Freedom. The true freedom of pursuing pleasure for pleasure's sake, because it pleases you, because you desire it. I knew this during my rule, and I'd forgotten it during my exile. I shall not forget it again." The Emperor was encouraged by his Advisors and myself to rest, in case the bizarre behavior was a passing sickness of the mind. Before he retired to his observation room, the Emperor described his encounter in detail. Zhozon offered to me this bizarre retelling: "Outside the ship, the Emperor looked over the edge of the universe, and saw nothing. That is, it wasn't that he saw nothing unusual, but he saw Nothing: the absence of light, dark, life, death, the absence of anything, even of absence itself. And out of the Nothing, there came whispering in a dark language, which filled his head so loud that he forgot for a moment his own language, and suddenly the Nothingness dispersed to show Something, which was a fleet of foreign ships. He saw next the destruction of a great many worlds and creatures, including all his enemies, and himself, and he saw the rot and fragmentation of his own corpse and skeleton. And last, before he was released, the whispers grew louder and granted him the honor of spreading the news of the end."
DCII. Recorded by Scribe Shagac Whereas the writings of Scribe Tlazat revealed a treasonous mistrust for our great Emperor, and whereas his traitorous actions resulted in a falseness writ into our records unknowingly, therefore the Scribe Shagac shall rightly replace him as Royal Historian, alongside Scribe Ixolt, by order of the Emperor himself. Let truth alone shine through these records, not personal bias or failure. The following corrections to the record must be observed: 1. The Great Revelation was not a hallucination induced by a malfunctioning suit, and such a suggestion is akin to treason, punishable with death by boiling; 2. The expansion of the prison ship Leviathan into a great Palace of Pleasure was an edict supported by all of Calus's Loyalists, save for the traitor Tlazat; and 3. The Shadows of the Clipse, the Sindû, and the Arkborn represent the greatest, most skilled of their kind, hand-picked by Calus himself, and were chosen not for any petty or personal aim, but a greater cosmic need: to help our great Emperor usher in the end of times. The Emperor Calus, last and greatest emperor of the Cabal, the Chief Gift-Giver, the Good Host with the Generous Banquet, the Prince of Mirth, and the Lord of Laughter, spake thus of his Shadows, with love shining in his sparkling black eyes: "My beloved Shadows represent everything that was lost to me when the Red Legion took Torobatl. They are the epitome of the empire I built. They are each the perfect specimen from their homeworlds, living the fullest version of their lives because they are the fullest versions of their very species. They are everything I need to reclaim what was taken from me, and they are the ones I want by my side as I prepare this world for its end."
DCV. Recorded by Scribe Shagac After the fall of his Shadows, the great Emperor Calus, Master of Celebrations, Patron of Festivity, stood in the throne room of his great ship. The Golden King's shining, mottled brow was furrowed with a deep melancholy, and the beauty of his face was marred by a frown. Dominus Ghaul, the Ghost Primus, the Usurper, lived, while the mightiest of his Shadows, his Chosen Killers, his Zenith Champions, were dead. When approached by one of his Advisors, who hoped to console the Emperor, the Emperor held up his great hand and said, bewildered, "I have failed them. "I have been chosen to bring forth the end of the world, and I set my sights so low as petty revenge. My enemies deserved to suffer and fall for their treachery, but my Shadows were meant for something greater than the violent end I sent them to. They have been ruined, just like my beloved Empire." Here his Advisors rushed eagerly to reassure him, troubling him with offers of wine or food or false words of comfort, but the great Emperor was not moved. What, they asked timidly, of rest of his Shadows? Those who had not gone to fight Ghaul? They still lived. "No, I have ruined them, all of them," the great Emperor whispered. "I've spoiled the whole batch."
DCCII. Recorded by Scribe Shagac So perplexed was the Emperor by the failure of his Shadows that he spent many hours meditating with his Advisors on what had happened. His Advisors made many misguided attempts to soothe him, fearful that wrath lay below the calm surface of his demeanor. On one such day, the Emperor met with his Advisors, Tlu'arg and Ilhali, who clumsily derided Ghaul's crude brutality in hopes of cheering him. Spake the generous and compassionate Emperor: "Ghaul has risen above his own past. That, at least, is admirable. Ilhali—do you think, after all I've seen, I am heartbroken by such a tiny thing as failure? No. I am weary. "I have combed this whole universe for someone who truly merits a seat at my table. Just one creature who might partially comprehend the gravity of my mission, one creature brave enough to test their might and their mind on me, one creature worthy of supping on my perfect flesh. And I have not found them." As the Emperor spoke to his cringing Advisors, his beautiful face smooth with a preternatural calm, a messenger ran into the room to address him, bowing contritely and begging his forgiveness. Crawling across the floor in supplication, the messenger announced that Dominus Ghaul had been killed in the Sol system by a person of the Guardian-tribe. At this, I myself saw a renewed light spark in the Emperor's eyes, and saw his face light up like a sun. "Find them," he told the messenger. "Find me this hero. And we will go to them." He turned to Tlu'arg and instructed him to set a course for the Sol system. Then, he commanded Ilhali to prepare his other Automatons, the robotic creations made in the likeness of the great Emperor, which were built so that His Joyful Majesty might be able to watch himself in many unique situations. The Emperor did not specify why the Automatons should be prepared, but there was such joy in his voice that his Advisors made no objections.
DCCLXXXIX. Recorded by Scribe Ixolt What follows is an unsent letter to the Hero of the Guardian-tribe, dictated by the great Emperor Calus: "Ah, Light-born! What a joy it has been to watch you! "When I invited you aboard my Leviathan the first time, it was an exceptional pleasure to see you go through a test I had designed myself. It was uniquely suited to your talents, I would later realize, though that wasn't my intention. Just a happy trick of fate that the talents I sought were those that you possess. "When you shot the cup from my Automaton's hand? Ah, Guardian... My soul lit up with longing. "And when my beautiful ship was invaded—twice, in fact!—by the Vex Mind, Argos, and later by the hateful Val Ca'uor, these visits were not so... predictable. You navigated the dangerous particularities of my lovely home with such... grace. Enthusiasm. "More than anything else, that delighted me: your enthusiasm for a challenge. Watching you leap nimbly through my Reactor! Seeing you lead your team in perfect synchrony against the jealous Val Ca'uor! How it all tickled me! "These exploits drew me to you. They inspired me to fashion you a chalice of your very own, that you might drink deeply of my royal blood and be enriched. And I knew the attraction was mutual, for you leapt head-first into my Menagerie. You took my every gift, you answered my every challenge. That day you gallantly slew Gahlran, golden chalice in hand—that was the day I truly knew we were meant to be together. "I am ensnared by you, Guardian. I wish to possess you as my own until the end of existence."
DCCCVII, forthcoming. Recorded by Scribe Shagac On the day the Hero of the Guardian-tribe became the Shadow of Earth, the great Emperor ordered a magnificent banquet to celebrate. The finest royal wine was served to all, along with a great feast of delicacies from both Torobatl and from Earth. The evening began with a light first course and play put on by the Leviathan's performance troupe, which retold a fictionalized account of Ghaul's defeat. The Shadow of Earth sat at Calus's right during the performance and loudly applauded the finale of the show, where the player portraying Ghaul, Tor Trakal, was killed in a great blaze of fire and light. After the performance, while the troupe removed the body of Trakal from the stage, a second course was served, and the Emperor's Master of Rhyme recited a poem in honor of the Shadow of Shadows, praising their accomplishments and virtues, and the virtues of the great Emperor that allowed him to choose them so rightly. A third course was served+ while the Emperor's Psionic Dancers performed a celebratory ribbon dance. After the third course was finished, and everyone had applauded, the Emperor rose to deliver a speech: "This is a great day for the Cabal Empire, for Earth, and for you, my dear friend. Today, Earth casts a Shadow. "Do you know how long I have waited for you? Of course you do. We are connected, you and I, by a feeling: a thirst. A thirst for pleasure, mastery, and triumph. For life. "And now that we are together, we will spread the great and terrible news. We will remind all beings nothing else exists aside from this moment, and so one must strive to live in a state of rapture. To minimize pain. To maximize delight. To let go of the ideologies that tie us down. "You represent the dawning of a new era. The last era before the end. I will have you at my side as this petty world meets Death." +The scribe employed at this future date shall please provide additional detail here as to the number of courses at the banquet and their contents. Delete this footnote upon the actualization of this history.
MCXII, forthcoming. Recorded by Scribe Shagac Spake the great Emperor to his Shadow of Shadows: "Go forth and gather a new army of Shadows. Choose only the most beautiful, the most devoted, the most joyful, the most skilled. "I know you will find them, for you look at this world as I do. We see beyond the tethers of impermanent existence. All of our vows, our wishes, and our loyalties will someday be reduced to a nothingness so vast you cannot imagine it. "This System is plagued by petty grasping. Humanity wages a pointless war against its enemies. Mara Sov keeps her people in an endless struggle against fate. The Eliksni strive for a lost age, far out of their reach. "Expose their pointless attachments, my Shadow, and in doing so, free them." ////// On this day, the great Emperor Calus, Bringer of Joy, Champion of Cheer, announces the long-anticipated formation of his new army of Shadows. The Shadow of Earth, having set out on a quest at the behest of the Emperor, began by scattering the remaining Eliksni houses in search of new recruits. There were few promising contenders among the factions, so that the Shadow ended nearly all interactions with a merciful show of violence, to save these creatures the shame of meeting the end of times in such a sorry state. One promising upstart stood out within the Eliksni-tribe, called by his allies as Mithrax the Light Kell, whom the Shadow of Earth promptly took on as a protégé. Together, the Shadow and Mithrax eliminated the Eliksni who remained loyal to their pathetic houses. Secondly, the Shadow of Earth approached the Awoken Queen, Mara Sov, who styled herself Shipbreaker, to offer her the same mercy shown to the Eliksni. As anticipated by both the Emperor and his Shadow, Mara Sov rejected the offer of peace, and so the Shadow of Earth killed her on her throne. After the unceremonious death of her queen, the former Queen's Wrath, Petra Venj, joined with the Shadow of Earth and swore fealty to Emperor Calus and his great purpose. Together, Petra Venj and the Shadow eliminated any remaining Awoken loyalists. We welcome these new Shadows to our noble quest. They have dropped the pretenses of their former lives, abandoning their pointless fixations and allegiances, and for this, we celebrate them.
MCXVII, forthcoming. Recorded by Scribe Ixolt The Shadow of Earth, having found a small but formidable team of allies in the Shadows of the Eliksni and of the Awoken, professed to the Emperor that, in order to move forward with their quest to usher in the end of the world, the new Shadows must reclaim some of the lost knowledge of the Empire's athenaeum worlds. The Emperor rightly agreed and approved the excursion. What follows is an account of the reclamation of the Athenaeum World X: The Shadows of Earth, of the Eliksni, and of the Awoken arrived on the ice planet that held Emperor Calus's Athenaeum World X, the name of which has been lost to time. This planet, being a repository for precious, ancient knowledge collected by the Emperor, was chosen for its hostile environment, which served as a built-in defense system for intruders and thieves. En route to the planet's Inner Sanctum, where the athenaeum world's knowledge was kept, the Shadows were stalked by an undocumented species of indigenous wildlife, whose natural capabilities as a predator proved unexpectedly debilitating to the companion-soul of the Shadow of Earth. The Shadow, being symbiotically reliant on its companion-soul, was thus weakened and the trio was forced to bivouac in place beneath a great monolith as a storm fell upon them. The creatures, who so far had lurked at the edges of the party's vision, crept closer under cover of the storm, which grew ever stronger, and executed a stealth attack. Thus began a bloody battle, wherein the three Shadows fought back half a dozen creatures with modest success, and wherein the Shadow of the Eliksni fell in combat. Said the Shadow of Earth of this sacrifice later: "He knew the stakes of our mission, and gladly offered his life to help us complete it. This is a sacrifice we Shadows are willing to make." It was then that the Shadows of Earth and of the Awoken were able to access the Inner Sanctum, revealing hundreds of years of lost knowledge, which was reclaimed for the great Emperor Calus and his Loyalists.+ +The scribe employed at this future date shall include additional detail here when the lost secrets of this (and other) athenaeum worlds are recovered. Delete this footnote upon the actualization of this history.
MCXX, forthcoming. Recorded by Scribe Shagac It came to pass that, after gathering their army of Shadows, rebuilding their fleet, and making a more permanent home of the Sol system, the great Emperor Calus and his Shadow received messages from the Vanguard of Earth and the War Machine Rasputin. These messages read: "Remove your forces from our planets and moons, or we will respond with deadly force." But Emperor Calus had seen Death at the edge of the universe and was not afraid, for these figureheads and their War Machine were not Death. The Emperor Calus, in his wisdom and mercy, permitted his Shadow of Earth to sit down to negotiations with the Earth Vanguard. Although the Shadow of Earth spoke of the Emperor and his knowledge of the coming end, the Earth Vanguard were so attached to their worldly struggles that they could not hear. They declared war. The Shadow of Earth rose with such a suppressed fury that neither the Emperor nor his Advisors had ever seen before. Shuddering with rage, the Shadow of Earth spake thus: "Who do you think I am? Without me, you have only a dwindling army of ambivalent soldiers. I am the Young Wolf. I killed the Taken King. I defeated Ghaul, I roused the Traveler, I silenced the Moon, I stopped the invasion, I broke the curse, I broke the Houses, I killed the queen! I am the Shadow of Earth!" In the following silence, the Shadow of Earth continued gravely: "The end is coming. Consider you and your people warned." As a courtesy, the Vanguard of Earth were permitted to leave the Leviathan unharmed, and the Shadow of Earth gathered the Loyalist forces. After the reclamation of the Athenaeum World X, which held in it the secrets of one of the most advanced predators in the system, the Aphelion, which had the power to devastate whole worlds in the blink of an eye, the Shadow was able to use this lost knowledge to rebuild the Loyalist fleet stronger and more magnificent than ever. With the renewed ships of the Loyalist Fleet, the Shadow of Earth led an attack on the War Machine's seat of power, the region of Hellas Basin on the planet Mars. The battle was much less a war than a single, unmatched attack that left the War Machine Rasputin in cinders. It was at this time that the Vanguard of Earth surrendered and begged for mercy, a request which was denied by the Shadow of Earth.
MCXXV, forthcoming. Recorded by Scribe Ixolt When the great Emperor Calus and his Shadow of Earth had nearly conquered the system, the Leviathan was rocked by a great disturbance. Royal Mechanics reported that, in the inner rooms of the ship, a strange rift had opened, and from it came the acrid stench of Hive ritual pyres. [I am Savathûn, and I am Death!] It was through this rift that Savathûn, the Witch-Queen, allowed her monstrous children to pour into the belly of the great ship and flood its corridors with their clicking and skittering. A great many of the Leviathan's inhabitants were filled with dread and fright. [While this coward invents his histories and futures, I wait. These messages are my gift to you.] But the great Emperor Calus had seen Death at the edge of the universe and was not afraid, for this witch and her spawn were not Death. Said the laughing Emperor to his beloved Shadow of Earth: "Remove the wretched Savathûn from my hallways. I have no use for her or her children. So consumed are they by their tragic hunger, the Hive would cast a weak Shadow. Erase them from that great horizon that awaits us, for they have no place at my table when the end comes." And so the Shadow of Earth exterminated the children of Savathûn. When the mother herself sought to slither back into the hole from whence she'd come, the Shadow of Earth followed her to her throne and slew her there, to die her final death.^ ^A note to Scribe Shagac: Please be advised that, although our great Emperor knows the shape of the future very well, we cannot presume its texture. Refrain from making such sweeping, grandiose assumptions about unknowable technologies, like those of the athenaeum worlds. It will save us a great deal of rewriting later. Delete this footnote upon the actualization of this history and appropriate corrections made to Scribe Shagac's record.
MCXXXV, forthcoming. Recorded by Scribe Shagac+ And it was in this way that the great Emperor Calus conquered his enemies with his Shadow of Earth at his side. There was a great rejoicing, for the struggle to evade the sharp edge of the end of the world was over, and the people of this System could at last breathe, and live, and love, in the shadow of their ever-present doom. Now royal wine flows freely for the friends of the Emperor, and the planetoid of Nessus has its eternal home at the Emperor's table, forever immortalized as a symbol of celebration. Following the destruction of the War Machine Rasputin, the Shadow of Earth recreated the region of Hellas Basin into a monument to the might and beauty of the great Emperor Calus. The unsightly "BrayTech Futurescape" was demolished and remade into the Temple of Revelry, where all in the System come to celebrate the accomplishments of the great Emperor, and the blemished red sands of Mars were reformed into a vast sulphurous mudflat, suitable for wallowing at leisure. On Earth, Humanity celebrates the Feast of Emperor Calus, a day of jubilation and thanksgiving. Children wear golden masks of the Emperor's fine visage and re-enact the story of how he remade this System in the shadow of the end of the world. The people rejoice! Emperor Calus has brought freedom and conviviality to the worlds of this System! +To my dearest Scribe Ixolt: A lack of imagination is a crime far worse than any small exaggeration meant to uphold and approach the glory of our beloved Emperor. History is made as much in the writing as it is in the living.
MCXLIII, forthcoming. Written by the Great Emperor Calus I stand now, alone, at the end of the world. As I stare over this dark edge, which I have anticipated for so many years, eager, hopeful, I wonder if I was too impatient for it. I do not wish it away, no, but I am faced with accepting that ushering in the blessed, long-awaited end means an ultimate goodbye to you. Old friend. You and I were always connected. The threads of fate strung us together and tightened, drawing us ever closer, however slowly—and I realize now that, even before we found each other, you were a presence in my life. Time is such a strange, twisting thing, and I see my past so differently. When I was alone in the prison-room of the Leviathan, you were there, as well, building my Menagerie. Creating a monument to all that we could, and would, do. When I met the void, you were there, somewhere in those phantom whispers, my companion in bringing forth the inevitable end of the world. Even before I knew you, I searched for you. I was searching for you when I found my first Shadows. I was mourning your absence when they failed. And yes, my Shadow, the search was exquisite. The wait was bliss. But the moment I found you, the completion of my design... It was pure delight. You helped me reclaim what was lost when the Empire fell to the Red Legion. More than that—you helped me build beyond it. We took this System together. Together, we created a new world, in the mere moments before it ended. And though our time was short, it was not wasted. You were not wasted. I am proud that you were the last one at my side when end came. There is no one else I would have chosen to stand by me. Thank you, my Shadow. Thank you for your sacrifice.