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Hive (Worm Gods)
- "Darkness is not inherently evil. Some among you already discovered this on Europa. In my travels, I have seen true evil. It is the worm gods that the Hive serve. It is the Black Fleet, waiting to strike. It is the Entity that commands them all: the Voice in the Darkness."
- — Mara Sov
- "It is the nature of life to favor existence over nonexistence, and to prefer the fertile soil to the poisoned wind. Because those who open their mouths to that wind pass from the world and leave no descendant, whether of flesh or of thought.
But imagine the abomination of a world where nothing can end and no choice can be preferred to any other. Imagine the things that would suffer and never die. Imagine the lies that would flourish without context or corrective. Imagine a world without me."
- — The narrator of Unveiling
Like the Light, the Darkness is a cosmic paracausal force that has existed since before the beginning of time. Similarly to the Light, it manifests in a variety of aspects, among them elemental powers such as Stasis and Strand.
For centuries following the Collapse, the Darkness was believed by scholars of the Last City to be an inherently evil force, with its usage inevitably corrupting the wielder. This is now known to be untrue; just as the Light can be used for constructive and benevolent purposes as well as destructive and self-serving ones, the act of wielding the Darkness has no moral valency of its own, and it can be used for good or ill. Ancient civilizations such as the Ecumene and Qugu used the Darkness for peaceful purposes, such as communing with the memories of their ancestors. In contrast, the being known as the Witness and its Disciples, who collectively lead the armada known as the Black Fleet and have exterminated countless civilizations uplifted by the Traveler, wield the Darkness as a weapon against their enemies. Most of humanity's experience with the Darkness has come through conflict with those aligned with the Witness and its cause, such as the Hive, Taken, Scorn and the Vex of the Sol Divisive, which has in large part led to the one-sided view of Darkness as a destructive force hostile to life and peaceful civilization.
However, if the Lore Book Unveiling is to be taken at face value, the reality may be more complex. Unveiling is narrated by a being who identifies themselves as the Winnower, one of two primordial entities who predate the universe, the other being the Gardener. The Winnower is presented as embodying the reduction of complexity, whereas the Gardener embodies the growth and preservation of complexity. In the allegorical story recounted in Unveiling, these two entities struggled with one another in the state which preceded the universe, and upon inadvertently creating the universe as a by-product of this struggle, each became a paracausal force which would serve to further their respective goals within the universe. This story not only appears to provide an origin for the Light and Darkness as they are presently known, but also implies that the Darkness is itself sentient and has its own motivations, namely to reduce the universe to an eternal, maximally simplified form known as the Final Shape. A conversation between Oryx, the Taken King and the Darkness itself is also recorded in the Books of Sorrow, in which the Darkness further describes a philosophy of winner-takes-all and survival at the expense of others. In both of these entries, the Darkness exhibits an informal, friendly demeanor, and refers to itself in the first person; both of these seem to indicate that the speaker in these entries is not the Witness, which is less casual in its speech and has nearly always been seen to refer to itself in the plural. However, it remains unclear to what degree various other statements that have been ascribed to the Darkness itself in fact originate from the Witness, which has also been referred to as the "voice in the Darkness".
The nature of the relationship between the Light and Darkness likewise remains somewhat ambiguous. The Witness and its followers clearly believe the Darkness to be superior to the Light and oppose all who would use it, and the Darkness itself is presented in Unveiling as having opposed the Light since before the beginning of time. However, in the Lore Book Inspiral, a slightly more nuanced picture is given in the entry "Winnowing", where the Darkness is presented as playing a necessary and complementary role to that of the Light in helping to maintain the stability of life and civilization. After having gained insights into the Darkness from his studies of Strand, Osiris likewise came to believe that the Light and Darkness are not truly antagonistic forces, but merely different.
Relation to Simplicity and Reduction of Entropy
As described previously, statements ascribed to the Darkness indicate that it is associated with simplification and the removal of extraneous entities. In contrast, the Light appears to be associated with the "growth and preservation of complexity".
Clovis Bray I studied the Darkness during the late Golden Age, having been exposed to it through the K1 Anomaly and later through the entity he called "Clarity Control." In his notes, he observed that the Darkness violated Noether's theorem, and did not follow established physical rules of symmetry and conservation. He also noted that the Darkness possessed "anti-structural" properties, and had a tendency to reduce the entropy of systems it was applied to, leading him to hypothesize that it may have been responsible for the low-entropy state of the universe preceding the Big Bang.
Relation to Consciousness
Following the discovery of Strand, Osiris hypothesized that the Darkness is associated with thoughts and consciousness, whereas the Light is tied more strongly to the physical universe. The nature of Strand, Deepsight and Nightmares all reflect this connection; Stasis crystals have also been noted to exhibit computational properties, potentially supporting simulation or even cognition within themselves. This may also explain the Darkness' association with the Ascendant Realm, as the latter is a dimension whose nature is heavily influenced by thoughts and beliefs.
As an extension of this theme, the Darkness is associated with memory, whereas the Light is associated with forgetting. This is exemplified by Deepsight, which allows one to, among other things, experience memories associated with an object's past. In contrast, when the Light is first bestowed upon an individual via resurrection by a Ghost, they forget all details of their past life. The Hidden agent Sen-Aret hypothesizes that the Darkness connects individuals with the past so that they may strategize defenses against threats they have previously encountered, whereas the Light wipes away memories in order to enable forgiveness and the possibility of new beginnings.
In Unveiling, the narrator, who is apparently the Darkness itself, states that the Darkness was the source of humanity's consciousness, senses and minds, a product of having shaped the evolution of life on Earth during the Cambrian Explosion. The Darkness also states that it has the ability to emulate the minds of sentient beings, allowing it to see the world from their perspective and thus more easily communicate with them.
The Guardians' explorations of the Pyramids, as well as the Black Garden and the Deep Stone Crypt on Europa, have revealed a motif that appears to be representative of, or at least associated with, the Darkness: statues of humanoid, veiled figures. All statues thus far encountered are identical in shape, have seemingly feminine features, and are posed with faces turned upward and arms slightly outspread. The significance of these statues is currently unknown, but they appear to be loci of Darkness-related power. As most of them have been found inside Pyramids and other Black Fleet structures, it is likely they were crafted by the Witness' species, or by the Witness or its Disciples.
During the late Golden Age, Clovis Bray I discovered a veiled figure beneath the surface of Europa identical in form to the aforementioned statues, which he named "Clarity Control". This figure was a source of Darkness, which Clovis referred to as "Clarity," and played an integral role in the production of Exos. Although seemingly made of obsidian stone like most of the other figures, this figure differs from the others in that it lacks any surrounding structures, instead floating freely in midair, and moves very slightly as if breathing. Clovis described the figure as "an entity from beyond our own dimension," suggesting it may be more than a mere statue.
- "Once upon a time,* a gardener and a winnower lived** together in a garden.***
* It was once before a time, because time had not yet begun.
** We did not live. We existed as principles of ontological dynamics that emerged from mathematical structures, as bodiless and inevitable as the primes.
*** It was the field of possibility that prefigured existence."
- — Unveiling: Gardener and Winnower
According to the Lore Book "Unveiling," both the Light and the Darkness have existed since before the beginning of time, and thus before the universe came into existence. Being unbound by the laws of causality, neither the Light nor Darkness can be said to have a beginning. Rather, they are emergent properties of even more fundamental "mathematical structures" that in turn underlay reality itself.
In the allegorical story recounted in the Lore Book, the Darkness and the Light are referred to as the "Winnower" and "Gardener" respectively. The Winnower and Gardener occupied themselves by engaging one another in a game, analogous to a vastly more complex version of the "Game of Life" devised by Earth mathematician John Conway. This game would consistently arrive at an end-state dominated by a single, self-perpetuating pattern, which subsumed all others in the game. The Winnower found this to be a pleasing outcome, but the Gardener felt the pattern to be boring and desired that the game endlessly produce novel patterns instead. In order to promote this novelty, the Gardener transformed itself into a new "rule" within the game; the Winnower did the same, to counteract the Gardener's efforts. These new rules were "set aside" from the other rules of the game, so that they could not be limited or influenced by them, but could manipulate the other rules to bring about their intended outcomes.
While the story above is laden with metaphor and open to interpretation, it appears to suggest that the universe is the "game" which the Light and Darkness played in the garden, that the rules of the game are the laws of physics as they are commonly understood, and that the "new rules" that the Light and Darkness became are the basis of paracausality. The narrator of the Lore Book identifies themself as the Winnower, seemingly indicating that the Darkness, in addition to being a cosmic paracausal force, is sentient and driven by its own goals and motivations.
The entity known as the Veil is a powerful source of Darkness, and appears to act as a Darkness-affiliated counterpart to the Traveler, with which it is connected. Its origins are unknown, although it is known to have existed for billions of years, predating the Witness and the Black Fleet.
Billions of years ago, a nomadic humanoid species discovered the Traveler lying dormant and half-buried on their homeworld. The Traveler awakened, and began to terraform the planet and grant paracausal gifts to the species, uplifting them into a golden age that lasted for millions of years. Despite their prosperity, however, the civilization became dissatisfied with the Traveler's silence and refusal to impart guidance or wisdom, and sought a greater purpose in which they could find meaning; in the words of Ahsa, they desired a "winnower" to shape the otherwise formless garden of their existence. In addition, they came to view the Light as a fundamentally chaotic and capricious force, equally capable of bringing life or death with no ultimate justification for either.
In studying the Traveler, the civilization discovered that it was connected to another entity in a distant star system, which they named "the Veil". They determined that the Veil was the source of a power that was the opposite of the Light, one tied to the mind and consciousness rather than the physical universe: the Darkness. Furthermore, they determined that by bringing the Veil into close proximity with the Traveler, their powers could be used together to reshape reality as they saw fit, enabling them to convert the universe into a perfected, eternal form they called the "Final Shape".
Seeking to achieve this outcome, the civilization traveled to the star system where the Veil was located and brought it back to their homeworld, where the Traveler had remained since its discovery. However, the Traveler responded by leaving the planet and fleeing into the far reaches of space. Unwilling to give up their quest, the civilization used the Darkness to bind their consciousnesses together into a singular, unfathomably powerful entity, which became known as the Witness. This being then left its homeworld with a fleet of pyramidal ships, seeking to find the Traveler and unite it with the Veil by force, and in so doing bring about the Final Shape. 
Rise of the Worm Gods
Billions of years ago, a species of aquatic, paracausally-empowered serpentine creatures lived on the planet Fundament, where they led a peaceful existence. However, at some point they became seduced by the philosophy of the Witness, and began to fight and kill each other in order to achieve ascendancy through the Sword Logic. As they fought, they called upon the Darkness and used it as a weapon, an act once considered unthinkable among their kind. Many of the creatures died in the planet-wide bloodbath that ensued, with at least one individual, Ahsa, managing to escape and leave Fundament entirely; others underwent a transformation, becoming the powerful Darkness-aligned entities known as the Worm Gods.
Billions of years ago, the Witness visited the planet Lubrae, where it met a young warrior named Rhulk who had become disillusioned with his family and clan following a series of perceived betrayals. The Witness granted Rhulk the use of the Darkness, which would later enable Rhulk to bring about the total annihilation of his own people by causing his homeworld's Sapphiric Sun to implode. Rhulk was subsequently taken in by the Witness and anointed the first of its Disciples.
The civilization known as the Ecumene were attuned to the Darkness, though they did not seem to share the violent and destructive goals of the Witness and its Disciples, and indeed would later come into conflict with the nascent Hive.
The species known as the Qugu were attuned to the Darkness, and used it to commune with the memories of their ancestors. Much like the Ecumene, they seemed to be a peaceful civilization, in stark contrast to the Darkness' self-proclaimed tenets.
The Birth of the Hive
- "Oryx went down into his throne world. He went out into the abyss, and with each step he read one of his tablets, so that they became like stones beneath his feet.
He went out and he created an altar and he prepared an unborn ogre. He called on the Deep, saying:
I can see you in the sky. You are the waves, which are battles, and the battles are the waves. Come into this vessel I have prepared for you.
And it arrived, the Deep Itself."
- — The Books of Sorrow, XXXI: Battle made waves
One of the earliest recorded mentions of the Darkness known to the Guardians comes from the Books of Sorrow, a collection of records discovered aboard the Dreadnaught of Oryx, the Taken King. The books describe the origins of the Hive on the gas giant Fundament, where the three daughters of a deposed king, Aurash, Xi Ro, and Sathona, set out to save their world from a prophesied apocalypse. In their quest they encountered the massive being known as the Leviathan, who warned them against the temptation of "The Deep," a philosophy which held that "existence is the struggle to exist," and which it claimed would lead them only to ruin and calamity. It instead told them to pursue the philosophy of "The Sky," which encouraged collaboration to build a kinder, more prosperous world, even if it meant that some deaths and misfortunes must be allowed to occur. The sisters rejected the Leviathan's advice, and dove deep into the core of their world to find the five Worms: Eir, the Keeper of Order, Ur, the Ever-Hunger, Yul, the Honest Worm, Xol, Will of the Thousands, and Akka, the Worm of Secrets.
The Worm Gods promised to lend the sisters their paracausal powers, which they drew from the Deep, in return for the sisters becoming hosts for the Worms' larvae. The sisters agreed and became the founders and God-rulers of what would one day become known as the Hive. The Worms taught the nascent Hive Gods of the Sword Logic, which they used to become ever more powerful.
Much later, the Hive God Auryx (who was once Aurash) slew the Worm God Akka in order to obtain enough power to learn more about the secrets of the Deep, and in doing so he obtained the power to Take, a power wielded by the Witness. He became thereafter known as Oryx, the Taken King. Sometime later, he sought to commune with the the Witness directly and prepared an Ogre as a sacrifice, which the Deep inhabited and used to converse with Oryx.
The Cambrian Explosion
- "And then—one day—the fall occurred. So much earlier and so much more necessary than your myths remember. (...) This was the Cambrian Explosion, the great birth of complex life on your world. I caused it. I, the defector, the destroyer, the one who takes."
- — Unveiling
According to Unveiling, the Cambrian Explosion (i.e. the rapid appearance and diversification of complex life on Earth) was one of innumerable examples across the history of the universe where the Darkness played a role in bringing about complex life, by virtue of curtailing the existence of weaker organisms and thereby driving biological evolution.
At an unknown time in the past, the Eliksni homeworld of Riis was visited by the Traveler, which ushered in an era of great prosperity and technological advancement. However, as with so many others before them, the Eliksni's Golden Age was ended when the Black Fleet and the Witness found their civilization and decimated it, sending the Traveler fleeing and reducing the Eliskni to a race of interstellar nomads. This cataclysmic event became known in Eliksni history as the Whirlwind. Although few records remain from the time before the Whirlwind, this event likely marked the Eliksni's first encounter with the Darkness.
- "Heaven is invaded and its territories are afire and all its mountains have been shattered into thrones. This is the inevitable and perfect shape of the truth.
It is magnificent. Majestic. Majestic."
- — Thoughts of a K1 researcher meditating in the presence of the Anomaly
Prior to the Collapse, a Human mining expedition on Luna was commissioned by Clovis Bray to discover the source of a mysterious signal buried beneath the Moon's crust. Nearly twelve hundred meters deep they discovered a black sphere, whose emissions caused neurochemical cascades that induced intrusive thoughts, insomnia, narcolepsy, nightmares, and auditory and visual hallucinations. The sphere was studied due to an outbound signal that was believed to be connected to a second Traveler, or even the origins of the Traveler. However, the expedition team, despite their best efforts, were eventually driven to madness and perished.
Clovis Bray I later communed with the artifact, which urged him to go to Europa to seek the secret of immortality. He mounted a personal expedition to the icy moon, where he discovered the source of the paracausal power he called "Clarity": an entity he named "Clarity Control".
- "Something hit us. Killed our Golden Age. Nearly wiped us out. Only the Traveler saved us, and at a shattering cost."
- — Grimoire description.
The Collapse was long believed by the Vanguard and the people of the Last City to have been caused by the Darkness itself. In reality, it was brought about by the Black Fleet, led by the Witness and its Disciples, who wielded the Darkness against humanity and the Traveler. During the Collapse, the colony ship Yang Liwei (call sign Exodus Green), was ensnared by the Darkness projected by the Black Fleet as it attempted to escape the Solar System, but was "rescued" by the Traveler projecting a beam of Light to push back the Darkness, which in turn generated a kugelblitz that swallowed the Yang Liwei and transported it and its occupants to a new universe.
Events of Destiny
Centuries after the Collapse, a lone Guardian encountered the Exo Stranger on Venus, and was subsequently sent on a quest to find the Black Garden. After battling through the Sol Divisive Vex and reaching the center of the Garden, the Guardian discovered an entity, the Black Heart, that the Vex seemed to revere as an object of worship. The entity could not attack the Guardian directly, but attempted to defend itself by taking control of the Sol Progeny, three enormous Vex Minotaurs. After a protracted battle, the Black Heart was destroyed along with its three Sol Progeny vessels. Upon the defeat of the Black Heart, the Black Garden was relocated to Mars from its prior location, and Light began to return to the dormant and damaged Traveler.
Following the battle in the Black Garden, Ikora Rey hypothesized that the Black Heart had been an aspect of the Darkness itself. It would not be until much later that it was revealed to in fact be an attempt by the Sol Divisive to replicate the Veil, an equally mysterious paracausal entity associated with both the Darkness and the Traveler.
- "There is no Light here. You are alone. You shall drift. You shall drown in the Deep."
- — Xol, Will of the Thousands
Following the reawakening of the Grasp of Nokris on Mars, the Guardian encountered the Worm God Xol, Will of the Thousands in the Penumbral Depths beneath Hellas Basin. There, the Worm God addressed the Guardian telepathically, claiming that the Guardian would "drown in the Deep".
The Scorn, a faction of undead Fallen first encountered by the Guardians in a mass breakout from the Prison of Elders, were created through the use of Darkness-tainted Ether by Fikrul, the Fanatic. This "Dark Ether" was first generated when Riven drew upon Uldren Sov's internal Darkness and infused it into Ether, bringing Fikrul back from death.
- "You made it...we have heard your cries for help. And soon, we will answer."
- "Who are you?"
- "Don't you recognize us? We are not your friend. We are not your enemy. We are your... salvation. "
- — The Witness and The Guardian
Eris Morn, after going missing prior to the Red War, stumbled upon a derelict Pyramid beneath the surface of the Moon. She discovered that the Darkness originating from the Pyramid was triggered into unleashing phantasmal Nightmares, and that the Hidden Swarm was harnessing them in a crimson citadel built above the ancient ship, near the Hellmouth, dubbed the Scarlet Keep. With Eris Morn as their guide and having the Vanguard's approval on handling the situation, the Guardians fought the Hive and the Darkness-powered Nightmares. Using the Hive's knowledge and the essence of the most powerful of Nightmares, Eris was able to forge armor that was capable of resisting the Nightmares.
Now prepared and with the Nightmares pushed back, the Young Wolf descended beneath the Scarlet Keep to the Pyramid. There, the Witness possessed the Guardian's Ghost and opened the Pyramid, drawing in the Guardian. Inside, the Guardian faces off against Nightmares of their most dangerous foes: Ghaul, Crota and Fikrul. As they combat against the powerful Nightmares, the Witness lectured the Guardians through their Ghost on the Light's failures and weaknesses. Despite this, the Guardian managed to overcome the Nightmares and reach the center of the Pyramid, where a veiled statue stood.
The Guardian received an Unknown Artifact from the statue and was subjected to a vision, in which they stood within the Black Garden and encountered the Witness taking the form of themselves. The Witness addressed the Guardian, saying that it had heard humanity's "cries for help" and that it would soon answer, and stating that it was neither the Guardian's friend nor enemy, but instead their "salvation".
The Guardian brought the Unknown Artifact to Eris and reported what they encountered in the Pyramid to the Vanguard, which they took as confirmation that the force that caused the Collapse was preparing to return. At the same time, Eris identified a signal emitting from the artifact that led deep within the Black Garden, to which a fireteam of Guardians was sent to investigate. They discovered two Axis Minds that seemed to have been warped by an unknown force, the Consecrated Mind and Sanctified Mind, and found another veiled statue identical in shape to the one on the Lunar Pyramid.
The Guardian began receiving messages through the Unknown Artifact, seemingly from the Darkness itself; Eris dismissed the messages as attempts at manipulation, but nonetheless they provided potentially valuable information into the origin of the Light, the Darkness, the Vex, and the Universe itself.
When Osiris confronted Rasputin regarding his allegiance to the Light or the Darkness, the Warmind directed him to an anomalous signal located in the Kuiper Belt. Upon arriving at the coordinates, Sagira reported feeling strange, in a manner similar to the Guardian's Ghost when approaching the Pyramid. Osiris then entered "an anomalous Maw" and returned with a "cold metal seed" before setting his ship on a course to return to the inner Solar System.
Season of Arrivals
- "The day we've been dreading has finally arrived. The Darkness is here."
- — Commander Zavala
Several days after the Almighty's destruction, the Black Fleet arrived and began to push into the solar system. One Pyramid went to Io, the last place to be touched by the Traveler, and stationed itself over a strange tree that had grown in the center of the Cradle. Using a seed retrieved from beneath the roots of the tree, Eris attempted to communicate with the Darkness, but its messages were distorted by interference from Savathûn. The Guardian managed to repeatedly fight Savathûn's forces back, allowing Eris to receive and interpret the Darkness' messages.
Almost half a year after the Pyramids returned, the worlds of Mercury, Mars, Io, and Titan all disappeared from the system, having been transported to an unknown realm by the Witness using the Darkness.
- "The Light believes you thankless. Nothing more than a soldier asked again and again to do its bidding.
So we want to thank you. With a gift. To help you finally take control."
- — The Pyramids to the Guardian
Sometime during or after the arrival of the Black Fleet, a sixth Pyramid touched down on Europa. It remained unknown to the rest of the system for a time, until Eramis, Kell of Darkness and her newly-formed House of Salvation touched down on Europa and discovered the Pyramid. There, she attempted to harness the power of Stasis, gifted to her and her followers through Splinters of Darkness originating from the Pyramid, with the goal of rebuilding the Eliksni Empire and destroying the Traveler.
Subsequently, the Guardian would also be granted the power of Stasis, initially through a Splinter of Darkness and later drawing the power from within themselves.
The Witch Queen
During the Guardian's exploration of Savathûn's Throne World, they encountered pockets of psychic energy which granted them access to Deepsight, a form of clairvoyance enabled by the Darkness.
Following Rasputin's sacrifice in order to prevent Eramis from using the Warsat network to fire upon the Traveler, the Witness and its Black Fleet advanced on the Traveler. The Pyramids destroyed any craft that attempted to attack using waves of Resonance energy, while the Witness itself used the Darkness to effortlessly slice apart incoming Jumpships and their occupants. The Traveler itself was neutralized by a ring of eight Pyramids that took up formation around it, emitting a concerted wave of Resonance that halted a beam of Light the Traveler had projected to defend itself.
Following the Witness extracting the location of the Veil from the Traveler, Osiris and the Guardian followed Calus and his Shadow Legion to Neptune, where they found the hidden city of Neomuna. Upon touching down in the city, they immediately noticed strands of green energy permeating the local environment, which they discovered to be a new elemental manifestation of Darkness known as Strand. The concentration of Strand energy in the city was a result of the presence of the Veil, itself a powerful paracausal entity seemingly associated with the Darkness.
Season of the Deep
Following Titan's reappearance, the Guardian worked together with Sloane to strengthen her telepathic connection to Ahsa, with whom Sloane had become psychically bonded with through the Darkness. Ikora and Osiris also noted that the Veil's paracausal signature had become stronger after Titan's reappearance, and speculated that the connection between Titan and the Veil could hold a clue in following the Witness.
The Nature of the Darkness
Because so few survived the Collapse, the exact nature of the Darkness has long been a mystery to most living within the Last City. For centuries, it was said that the Collapse had been brought about by "the Darkness", and that this mysterious force was the enemy of the Traveler. Recent events have clarified that the Collapse was in fact brought about by the Witness and the Black Fleet, and that the Darkness is a paracausal force wielded by them, much as the Light is distinct from the Traveler.
Theories and Speculation
In the centuries following the Collapse, several theories as to what the Darkness actually is were proposed by various scholars among the Guardians and other people of the City. The most well-known of these are listed below:
- Pujari claimed that the Darkness is both a physical and moral presence, evil made tangible. It was a storm of corruption emerging from the Golden Age.
- Saint-14 argued that the Darkness was an invading armada of aliens. Some suggest that these aliens had been previously rejected by the Traveler for their sins. In reality, the most likely explanation is the Fallen.
- Ulan-Tan suggests that the Darkness is the necessary symmetry to the Traveler as part of a cosmic balance.
- The Monists believe the Darkness is a technologically superior force, to the point of post-singularity, and that the universe is just a simulation. Such an advanced intelligence could mimic acausality by bending the rules of the universe's programming.
- The Acataleptic Clause, and the Praxic Order, believe that not only is the Darkness unknowable, but that people shouldn't bother trying to understand it and instead simply fight it.
- A heretical position from the Binary Star Cult states that the Traveler itself triggered the collapse, and used humanity as a sacrifice/proxy army in its war against the Darkness.
It is now known that most of these proposed explanations are actually true to some extent: the Darkness is a paracausal force that is the counterpart to the Light, it is closely associated with a philosophy that most would consider deeply immoral or evil, and its principal wielders and servants are the Witness and its Disciples, a collective of aliens that at least in part were abandoned by the Traveler and make use of supremely advanced technology in the form of the Pyramids of the Black Fleet.
Toland, the Shattered understands the Darkness as the natural evolutionary endpoint of the entire universe. Since the beginning of time, everything has been in competition with everything else for no reason, other than that is the way of the universe: the law of the jungle. As atoms came into being, they defeated the "primordial broth" that preceded it. From atoms came stars, from stars came galaxies, worlds were created, and finally life arose, all due to the eternal competition.
Toland envisions a future where three archetypal "nations" compete with each other: the first represents the perfect rule of law, the second represents knowledge made paramount, and the third represents sheer, total conquest. The third nation will succeed, inevitably, and in time will lead to a greater conflict between other nations which all represent the desire to conquer and dominate. The universe thus becomes a place where only the most ruthless entities succeed, to the point where they actively hunt and exterminate other life long before it can ever be a true threat. Finally, at the end of time there will be only one entity that rules the universe so absolutely that nothing will ever exist except by its consent, so it will rule forever. In essence, Toland asserts that this incontestable supremacy is the goal or driving force of the Darkness.
An alternative way of life, where law and knowledge and might worked together rather than competed, as in the case of humanity and the City, is little more than "the dream of small minds", and is unlikely to succeed against an entity of pure conquest.
- "This is a SKYSHOCK ALERT.
Multiple distributed ISR assets report a TRANSIENT NEAR EXTRASOLAR EVENT. Event duration ZERO POINT THREE SECONDS. Event footprint includes sterile neutrino scattering and gravity waves. Omnibus analysis detects deep structure information content (nine sigma) and internal teleonomy.
No hypothesis on event mechanism (FLAG ACAUSAL). Bootstrap simulation suggests event is DIRECTED and INIMICABLE (convergent q-Bayes/Monte Carlo probability approaches 1)."
- — Rasputin
The Warmind Rasputin was among the first beings in the Sol System to become aware of the arrival of the Black Fleet immediately prior to the Collapse. Given the unknown nature of the threat at the time, it remains unclear to what degree Rasputin's observations apply to the Black Fleet, the Darkness itself, or both. In any case, measurements taken by Rasputin indicated that the unknown phenomenon was accompanied by sterile neutrinos and gravity waves, seemed to have a structured intelligence and purpose behind its actions, and did not fully obey the known laws of physics. Using the minimal data that he had, Rasputin concluded that the force was hostile and capable of an interplanetary extinction event, causing him to activate defensive protocols and send messages to his subminds to prepare for an imminent attack.
Dreams of Alpha Lupi
The Dreams of Alpha Lupi poem contains a verse related to the Darkness and possibly representative of the Darkness's own perspective. The verse explains that the universe, despite its vastness, is beholden to simple, enduring laws that shape it and give one the impression that it is inexhaustible and eternal. Life is an affront to the universe because it refuses to accept the limitations imposed on it by the natural order.
Ghost Fragment: Darkness 4
Ghost Fragment: Darkness 4 contains an excerpt of unknown origin, addressing an unknown recipient. Its opening line: "This war is all there is for you." is also a line of dialog, spoken by Future War Cult representative Lakshmi-2, in which she asks the player what they would do if, "on some dreadful night, the Darkness were to come creeping up" and whisper the aforementioned statement to them. This would suggest that the excerpt in Ghost Fragment: Darkness 4 is the full text of that opening statement, indicating that the Darkness is addressing a Guardian, attempting to entice them into turning away from the Light, or at least plant the seeds of doubt.
The Books of Sorrow
- "Out in the world we ask a simple, true question. A question like, can I kill you, can I rip your world apart? Tell me the truth. For if I don't ask, someone will ask it of me.
And they call us evil. Evil! Evil means 'socially maladaptive.' We are adaptiveness itself."
- — The Darkness
Following the arrival of Oryx, the Taken King in the Sol System, records were discovered aboard Oryx's Dreadnaught that provide new insight into the Darkness' history and nature. These records suggest that the Darkness is a manifestation or embodiment of the universal struggle for existence: whereas the Traveler seeks to nurture civilization by encouraging peace and mutual cooperation, the Darkness is dedicated to the annihilation of all beings and civilizations who do not possess the strength to survive in the face of conquest. Its eventual goal is to bring about a universe inhabited solely by those entities who have survived by defeating all opposition. To this end, it has destroyed countless planets and civilizations, either through direct action or through its disciples, such as the Hive.
On one occasion, Oryx went deep into the Ascendant Realm using the Tablets of Ruin and prepared an unborn Ogre, which he used as a vessel to summon and communicate with the Darkness, saying "I can see you in the sky. You are the waves, which are battles, and the battles are the waves. Come into this vessel I have prepared for you." It is here that the Darkness explained to Oryx how it viewed existence and how the universe functioned.
- "I discovered the first knife."
- — The Winnower
The Lore Book "Unveiling" contains a series of stories and discussions on the Darkness' origins and role in cosmic events. Presented as series of messages to the Guardian, the account is narrated by a being that refers to itself as the "Winnower", who in turn seems to be the Darkness itself. The Book reveals that the Darkness is a paracausal force that has existed since "before" time, space and the universe (to the extent that such a statement has any meaning), as is the Light, and that its overriding objective is to reduce the universe to a maximally simplified form that will exist for eternity.
- "There can be no gardens without knives."
- — Inspiral: Winnowing
The entry "Winnowing" in the Lore Book Inspiral seems to be narrated by the same entity as Unveiling, and elaborates slightly on the information presented in the previous Lore Book. The narrator of the entry describes how a garden requires both a gardener to care for its plants, and a winnower to prune away excess growth and rot; if there is no winnower to do the pruning, the plants will be forced to do it themselves lest the garden deteriorate. Much as with Unveiling, this description appears to be allegorical, and seems to suggest that both the Darkness and Light are necessary to maintain the stability of life and civilization within the universe.
Aspects and Manifestations
Stasis is an elemental aspect of the Darkness that enables its wielders to freeze objects by halting the motion of their constituent particles.
Strand is an elemental aspect of the Darkness that enables its wielders to manifest threads of psychic energy.
Many artifacts of the Black Fleet emit an energy labeled as "Resonance", characterized by an orange glow, often in association with solid-seeming, spiraling black shapes. This force is also wielded by the Disciples of the Witness. Its nature is unclear, but it appears to be a form of Darkness energy.
- "Taking involves reforming matter in a self-contained reality, where the creator defines past, present, and future; imagine how a more insightful being could expand these definitions, to different ends. Overcoming a target's will must consume a large portion of energy. What if you used that energy for larger shifts in reality? You could teleport an army into a Hive mothership… move a fleet outside time and space… perhaps even alter a moon's orbit, devastating the planet below. The military applications could be far graver than simply creating an army."
- — Ophiuchus
The Darkness can be used to displace beings from the "normal" universe into the Ascendant Realm, allowing them to be subsequently corrupted into Taken through an unknown process. It appears that this is only one specific application of a broader power, as the Witness has demonstrated the ability to move entire planets between dimensions, as well as temporally shift selected regions of a planet into different points in time.
Deepsight is a form of clairvoyance that allows one to see through illusions and perceive echoes of past events.
Nightmares are apparitions created by the Lunar Pyramid using the Darkness, usually manifesting to a given individual as a former foe or comrade whose memory is associated with fear, regret or other emotional trauma. Like Deepsight, this power is thematically in keeping with the Darkness' association with memory.
Based upon matching descriptions from Emperor Calus, the Hive, Cayde-6, and Awoken records, certain Darkness-related entities seem to have the ability to project a field that gives the impression of complete darkness surrounding an individual. Calus wrote that upon encountering the Black Fleet, it initially appeared as a complete void to him, while the crew of the Yang Liwei reported being surrounded by a force that "made the stars go out" after their ship was confronted by a Pyramid. Cayde-6 described being enveloped by a smothering, paralyzing black cloud during the Collapse; however, in this case, it left his senses intact so that he could witness the destruction of his surroundings. Similar smothering miasmas of Darkness have been encountered by Guardians in areas where the Darkness is entrenched, such as the Disciple's Bog in Savathûn's Throne World.
The Drifter also encountered mysterious entities on an unknown, distant ice world that were trapped in alien monoliths. These beings had a disturbing ability to kill Ghosts from just being near them, and to nullify Light itself. The beings were everywhere on the world, and were described as having a "Darkness field."
- "You are the gardener's final argument. It would mean everything if I could convince you that I am the right and only way.
I truly value you. To the gardener, you are a means to an end. To me, you are majestic. Majestic. You are full of the only thing worth anything at all.
I am, by the only standard that matters or will ever matter, the winning team. Existence is a test that most will fail. Would you not count yourself among the victorious few?
Don't hurry to deliver your answer. I'll come over and hear it myself."
- — The narrator of Unveiling
According to Unveiling, the Darkness desires to sway the Guardians to its philosophy, as it acknowledges them as beings powerful enough to potentially become the "final shape" it wishes to bring about.
There are a handful of Guardians who have been corrupted by the Darkness, the most infamous being Dredgen Yor. Yor came to desire taking innocent lives and sowing despair, claiming he had developed a hunger for it. Toland, the Shattered claimed to be able to communicate with the Darkness, whereas Eris Morn was able to survive and escape the Hellmouth wielding the very power she fought against. Eris had one time even used the power of Darkness to rescue the Guardian from being trapped in the Oversoul Throne.
- "What others call dark which is not I know what it is but no time room calm given for an appropriate telling so I say only that what is not shadow is an ally and a wonder and I respect what I cannot steal from and you cannot take from the dark you can claim only pain from the dark and that is why the dark is worthy of love beyond all other love that astonishing ability to evade being robbed."
- — Ghost Fragment: Fallen 2
The Eliksni civilization was destroyed when the Black Fleet attacked Riis and the Traveler fled, an event known as the Whirlwind. A reclaimed (though corrupted) Fallen story mentions that the Fallen respect what they cannot steal from, which is "why the dark is worthy of love beyond all other love that astonishing ability to evade being robbed".
Sometime during around the events of Shadowkeep, Guardians were introduced to Fallen Champions who had been "touched" by the Darkness and given powerful abilities to fight back against their foes. Usually they are seen in high-leveled endgame content such as Nightfalls and recently Raids.
Later, Eramis would proclaim herself as the Kell of Darkness of the House of Salvation and led the newly formed House to Europa to acquire the powers of the Darkness. They began utilizing the Darkness as a means to destroy the Guardians and The Last City, going against the Fallen's traditions and ideals by willingly using the very thing that destroyed their home. With her newfound power, she began plotting to rebuild their Eliksni civilization and take vengeance against the Traveler for abandoning her people centuries prior.
- ""We... are alike. Trapped in death... a never-ending dance.""
- — Fikrul, the Fanatic
The Scorn are a horde of undead Fallen created through the use of Ether infused with Darkness. Originally born from a distorted wish granted to Uldren Sov by the Taken Ahamkara Riven, the Scorn display the ability to resurrect, even multiple times, though their minds seemingly degrade with each return. They were originally led by Fikrul, the Fanatic, a heretical Archon and first in their number, but since his disappearance, they have been seen under the control of other powerful Darkness entities, like the Disciples of the Witness and Xivu Arath, God of War. The Witness itself seems capable of resurrecting dead Eliksni into more Scorn, which has been used as punishment for Eramis's repeated failures.
Scorn under this new leadership enjoy access to powerful Pyramid technology, which allows many of them to rise to the power of their deceased Barons, and perhaps even surpass them. However, despite their power, all Scorn are often fully enslaved to the entity controlling them, incapable of expressing original thoughts. When abandoned without a guide, they follow whatever order was given to them last, which usually brings them to repeat their violence on others in an endless loop.
The Cabal had some texts on their athenaeum worlds that theorized about the Darkness, with the little concrete information the texts contained about the Darkness having been recorded from the "dreams of worms".
During his exile, the former emperor Calus sought the means to defeat his usurper Ghaul by exploring the secret places of the galaxy and pushing the limits of reason once he regains control of the Leviathan. He eventually crossed paths with a perfect void at the edge of the universe, being the Witness and the Black Fleet, and resolved to become its herald. He would watch them consume the light of the universe, and all among the last of the living would know his greatness. Calus also knows of the pact that Oryx made with the Worms, comparing it to Ghaul's takeover of the legions. Calus' strange powers and his claims of "knowing the truth" about the galaxy and his mockery of the Guardians' "feeble light" implies that he may have some knowledge of the Darkness.
At some point, Red Legion Psions used their psionic powers to successfully harness and infuse Taken energy into themselves and their superiors, empowering them with Taken-ehanced shielding. However, this effort was stopped by The Guardian.
During the Season of Dawn, the Guardians had faced Cabal Champions who were "touched" by the Darkness and were given newfound abilities. Soon they were frequently encountered at high-leveled endgame content, most notably Nightfalls.
During Season of the Haunted, Calus would return to Sol two years later, now the newest Disciple of the Witness. He would succeed in merging his consciousness with the Lunar Pyramid, however he would be stopped by The Coalition who would sever his connection with the pyramid.
Calus alongside his new army the Shadow Legion would arrive in Sol alongside The Witness. The Shadow Legion have access to powerful Pyramid technology and are assisted by Tormentors among their ranks. They are said to be filled with emptyness and follow orders without question. The Shadow Legion are described by Caital to not know what it is like to be Cabal, when they attempted to recreate the Rite of Proving it ended in failure.
The Hive revere the Darkness and serve the Witness. The progenitors of the Hive made a pact with their highest gods, the Worms, who grant the powers of Darkness to the Hive. the Hive god Oryx, the Taken King stole the power of the Darkness from his patron deity, Akka, the Worm of Secrets, which allowed him to wield the Darkness and create Taken. The Hive religion, based around the 'Sword-Logic', is based upon the Darkness' philosophy of survival-of-the-fittest and power through conquest.
- "In all their transformations, they retained that kernel of ultimate self-sufficiency that had made them victors in the flower game.
But they are not incontrovertibly destined to rule this cosmos. They were made before Light and Darkness, but the rules are different now, and even this pattern must adapt.
They are not all mine, not in the way that admirers such as my man Oryx are mine: utterly devoted to the practice of my principle. But some of them have, nonetheless, found their way home."
- — The narrator of Unveiling
The majority of the Vex avoid the Darkness, due to a combination of their inability to simulate paracausality and the fact that their ultimate goal of Convergence (an end state of the universe where only the Vex exist) means that they would have to overcome the Darkness. The Vex of the Sol Divisive however, worship the Black Heart, an aspect of the Darkness.Osiris theorized that some Vex technology is tuned to react to the presence of the Darkness.
Through unknown means, the Sol Inherent, a powerful subdivision of the Sol Divisive, appear to have been exposed to the Darkness and changed by it somehow, causing them to take on malformed, organic, visceral appearances. Upon the deactivation of the Sanctified Mind, a structure behind it opens up to reveal a statue identical to the one found on the Pyramid, hidden by a geometrical platform above which floats a Pyramid Scale. The significance of this is unknown.
During the events of Shadowkeep, Guardians faced Vex Champions who have been "touched" by the Darkness and were given newfound abilities to be on-par against their powerful adversaries.They were later encountered in high-leveled content such as Nightfalls.
Awoken & Jovians
The Awoken were once humans but were transformed during the Collapse upon reaching the edge of the asteroid belt. Beyond the belt, "the edge of the Deep Black", the system is totally immersed in Darkness. The events of their transformation were further detailed in the Lore book "Marasenna", which reveals that the Awoken were captured in a kugelblitz formed by the Darkness and Light battling one another in the vicinity of the Yang Liwei. As a result of this event, the Awoken were reborn as beings containing both Light and Darkness within themselves.
As demonstrated by the Witness and Oryx, the Taken King the Darkness can be used to take direct possession of other beings, transforming them into Taken. When a being is Taken, they are warped into the Ascendant Plane, where they are reshaped into spectral ghost-like versions of their former selves, with new paracausal abilities and a single-minded dedication to the one that Took them.
- The Darkness bears resemblance to the Armies of the Dark and its leader in Bungie's Myth series—a resurgent dark force that is the antithesis to the (forces of) Light.
- The idea of the Darkness arising from a primordial universe bears resemblance to the origins of the W'rkncacnter from Bungie's Marathon series.
- The tetrahedral shapes often seen in association with the Darkness allude to the philosophy of the Darkness, as presented in the Books of Sorrow and Unveiling; tetrahedrons are the simplest possible three-dimensional shape, and the Darkness seeks to reduce the universe into a maximally simplified, eternal form. Notably, the Pyramids of the Black Fleet are themselves tetrahedrons, with each face being either a right, isosceles or regular triangle. In contrast, the Traveler is a sphere, which can be described as having infinitely many faces; this may allude to the philosophy of the Light, which encourages complexity and diversity.
- A teaser released on the official Destiny 2 Twitter page on the 29th of May 2020 features a 1:13 long video that plays audio that seems to fit the nature of the Darkness. The Video also features a typical soundbar background but the bars do not move in time with the audio itself, instead, they are frozen with some of the bars forming the shape of a small pyramid and a large pyramid. At the end of Season of Arrivals, it was revealed that these sounds were the ambience for the pillar room. Many of these sounds were reused for the Europan Pyramid's interior, mixed with the pulsing from the Lunar Pyramid.
- The theme that accompanies the Darkness and the Pyramids contains seven notes.
List of appearances
- Destiny (First mentioned)
- The Taken King (Mentioned only)
- Destiny 2 (First appearance)
- Curse of Osiris (Mentioned only)
- Warmind (Mentioned only)
- Forsaken (Mentioned only)
- Beyond Light
- The Witch Queen
The Darkness consuming a human.
Disturbing concept art of a human drowning in Darkness.
A Ghost drowning in Darkness.
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- Stem the Dark
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- Bungie (2018/8/5), Destiny 2: Warmind Playstation 4, Activision Blizzard, Equitis Shade Rig
- It Stared Back Lore
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- Cabal Booklet
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- Bungie (2014/9/9), Destiny, PlayStation 4, Activision Blizzard, Grimoire: Saturn