Lore:Gifts and Bargains
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Gifts and Bargains is a Lore book introduced in Season of the Wish. Entries are unlocked by completing the Shooting Stars triumph. The entries contain messages from Taranis to the eggs the Guardian recovers throughout the Season of the Wish narrative in the dashed paragraphs while the remaining paragraphs explores an in-depth relationship between him and Riven.
- "O listeners, open your ears! There are choices ahead that you must make for yourselves. I will not act for you. I can only help by giving what I have left: my voice."
- — Taranis
Taranis hatches bathed in the light of the heliopause.
The solar wind dries his damp wings, and the depth of space gives him room to grow. There's no hint of the Ahamkara who crafted his egg, nor of how many of them there were. No dams or sires wait for him.
Taranis's first meal is the shell that nurtured him through his incubation. It snaps between his teeth, a first taste of life.
Taranis grows his first sensory organs. He uses them to look for more life.
The universe contracts and expands with the force of will, the tension between what exists and what is wanted. Taranis learns to scent his way across these lines of tension, to navigate around other Ahamkara with no benign wishes for a little whim like Taranis.
An Ahamkara's life and power are bound in their voice. Taranis sneaks silently in to listen to his elders at their feeding, the twists of their tongue, their multiplicity of meanings. He tracks other Ahamkara by the strength of their power, watches them hunt, slips past them to their catch. Their meals are bitter: Taranis can't swallow his stolen bites.
Taranis learns he is plainspoken for an Ahamkara. What pleases his tongue is not what pleases others.
The first wish Taranis grants is to a Cabal soldier patrolling her firebase in honor of empire and emperor. Hot sand blows in Mars's winds, whipping against her pressure suit, scratching the enamel on her greaves. She wishes for respite. To put down her equipment for a single day. To rest without being derelict in her duty.
With a wish that broad, an Ahamkara could eat her whole.
Instead, Taranis nudges weather patterns. It's easy to whip the wind up higher, let it pick up more sand. Till the growing sandstorm triggers the firebase's hazard alarms.
The Cabal soldier hurries back to her firebase, hunched against the increasing wind. Her squadron leader is unprepared and has no plans drawn up for indoor duties. It is a failure he will answer for. But until he rectifies his failure, the soldier may go to her bunk and read a borrowed novel without compromising her duty. Her satisfaction grows rich and, hidden in the piping above her bunk, Taranis basks in it.
His belly isn't full, but the sip she's given him is sweet. Nothing bitter in it, nothing sour, light on his tongue the way no other food has been. It is a good end to his first hunt: a meal from his first partner.
Taranis grows more slowly than his age-mates. The sustenance he finds doesn't fill his belly like their hunts fill them. They grow in strength; tongues long, teeth fierce. They lose patience for a runt with overly delicate sensibilities. Taranis finds himself in need of a retreat.
Taranis doggedly follows a faint trail— A hint of secrets in the air— All the way to pinch in space. He makes his own door and enters. It is a place of life, lush with crimson flowers and trees speckled with water, trunks dripping sap. It is a place of potential, of possibility: a nursery for life itself. A garden, a grove.
A fine place for a nest. A fine place for Taranis to teach himself who he is.
There is something lacking from his nest.
The grove sustains him when the sips of his partners' dreams aren't enough. His belly is never empty enough to ache, cradled in his garden.
But Taranis tastes an itch in his heart and knows it is not enough.
He leaves his nest to hunt for it.
A drekh on patrol in water up to their knees wishes for growth, stumps itching under docking caps. They picture themself with a hundred arms, a thousand eyes, a spine like a tree. Tall enough to lift themself out of water, to take their House by Skiff and Ketch back to their first home, a hero crowned in honor like Chelchis.
Taranis circles far overhead, riding on the thermal of their desire, till a brighter spark on the horizon pulls his attention away.
He follows the spark and finds Lightbearers. He has seen their kind before: Earth's Lightbearers get into every corner of Sol. They poke around for mysteries to solve. They pick fights with Psions. They peel Vex structures for prizes to wear on their belts. A Lightbearer makes a strong partner, with a firm will and steady belief in their own importance. A Lightbearer creates ripples through the world with the weight of their concentrated potential. A dozen walk alone or in small groups on Venus now, unbothered by decay and the threat of death around every corner.
Eleven Lightbearers dig through archives, battle Vex, and skim lightly over deep water, their desires shifting with circumstance. The twelfth Lightbearer sits unmoving under the spilling branches of a willow. His desires are faint, despite the firmness of his will. His presence is a cool taste in the back of Taranis's throat, pale as the light from the Lightbearer's lantern.
Taranis slips through the water to watch him from a distance, nothing but eyes and nostrils peeking out above the surface.
The sun sets, and still the Lightbearer sits. Venus turns, and the Lightbearer sits. Only the smallest threads of desire reach Taranis. This Lightbearer alone wishes for nothing.
Taranis sinks back into the water without a ripple.
Taranis drifts towards something new: a gateway tucked carefully into an asteroid belt. He feels through rock and debris to a city opalescent with dreams. He can feel the marks of its makers on it, a powerful Ahamkara with a powerful partner.
The city is filled with souls who know Ahamkara. All those minds, those wills, potential partners holding fragments of grit for Taranis to envelop in pearls. Something he could build to match this masterpiece of a city.
Mist curls in fractals around Taranis, leaving a faint bitter taste on his tongue. There's danger baked into this pocket world, a risk its citizens are only half-aware of. The source of that danger is the source of the city and all its beauty. Taranis can't help but track towards it: a distant chiming, a laugh in the underpainting of the city.
Taranis slithers towards what he will later learn is the Spine of Keres, and a massive claw pins him to the ground.
"What do you think you're doing in my territory?" multiple voices inquire. The laugh emerges into the foreground. Leathery frills frame a massive head. An uncertain number of eyes glow bright with curiosity and malice.
This Ahamkara has gravity like a black hole. Taranis feels her grip on the warp and weft of desire encircling them and knows he can do nothing to stop himself from being drawn in.
- "O my eggs! O my whims, more precious than my eyes, dearer than my tongue! Eat my story, take it into your bodies. Grow your egg-teeth. Crack your shells. Choose."
- — Taranis
Two forms move above the Dreaming City, curving between the pressures of gravity and desire.
Riven turns long, streaming whiskers and mane behind her, sunset golds draping themselves across her sides. In response, Taranis's bare hide sprouts carp scales in gleaming blue. His wings recede as his mane grows.
He twists around Riven, neck on neck for a moment, before he slips ahead through the mists of Divalia.
There's a wish on the wind. A mind far below, dreaming of a change to the world. Taranis noses toward it.
One of Mara's Awoken sits under the vault of a broken geode. He dreams, looking over the shifting mists. Ambition is woven through his thoughts, a wish for a more comfortable home. One shaped like a memory, with a parent in the Distributary making sesame pastries soaked in honey. Too sweet, too sticky, but beloved.
Riven crouches like a gargoyle on the cliff above as Taranis spirals down to meet him. They speak. They learn one another's names: Taranis. Gwilym.
A tripod-legged silver tray with a teapot and plate settles beside them.
Taranis, curled into a catlike form, sits with Gwilym. A few crumbs land on his side. A few tears.
Gwilym rises when the sun slips to the edge of the fabricated horizon. He holds out a hand in thanks and startles when Taranis grows a thumb to clasp it.
"No wonder you're so small," Riven says, when Taranis has wound his way back up the cliff to her. It's barely a mouthful, filling one small desire without grasping for more. Not much more than a sip.
"It's enough," says Taranis.
"It's foolish," Riven snarls with all the forces available to her. A strong, well-fed Ahamkara in the heart of her power. A king enthroned.
"I'm a fool."
The tip of Taranis's tail reaches for Riven's. They twine together. She doesn't shake it off.
Riven prowls through the grove. It thrills Taranis to see her here, to feel her will pushing at its borders.
His nest has been potential life. It was missing this: active life. The pressures of will and desire. The chance to choose more.
"May I show you my nest, O Riven, O creator of a city of pearls, O shaper of souls?"
Riven shutters her eyes with great plates of bone. "That mode of speech is unworthy, O foolish companion mine."
But naming without claim suits Taranis. It's an argument he and Riven will never settle. He will call her O beloved, O master artisan, without ever appending the "mine,"  and she will forever call him her fool.
"Riven, then. I'd show you my grove as you showed me your city."
They walk the stone pathways softened by moss. They climb through flowers, and condensation from the damp air rolls down their necks. Taranis guides Riven to the heart of his nest. He watches her stride through it, taking the lead.
"I've seen the things Mara's brother brought back from this place. They didn't smell of your nest."
"His ambitions didn't suit my palate."
Riven's will causes eddies in the fabric of Taranis's home. It begins to grow around her into more of a place of mystery, a place of dangers for the unwary. Taranis rests his jaws on his forelimbs, watching, nudging her will with his own when the changes grow too vast. He wants this. His home is still his own.
Riven circles back to Taranis, who is sprawled in a patch of grass. She sits on him resentfully.
"You are singularly unlike any Ahamkara I've met. I am astonished you're still alive," Riven grows heavier. Taranis snorts into the grass as his body presses into it.
"Hasn't your time with the Awoken changed you? We both made the choices our homes gave us."
"You're less than you could be."
Taranis settles more firmly into the grass. "I'm myself. That is the end of my ambition."
"Your brain has shrunk with your stomach." Riven presses her claws into Taranis's spine. Her voices thrum together in frustration. "We will build here. Together. If you won't let yourself grow, then we will make something that does."
And they do.
The language of secrets and desire passes between them as they build. Mysteries bury themselves in the grass. The grove grows wilder, paths sprawling out to meet Riven's nest in the Dreaming City.
Alight with creation, Taranis says, "There's one more thing I want to make with you."
He does not stop to lay out a contract. There is no bargain, with each Ahamkara giving precisely what is owed and no more, in fear of being devoured by their own partner. There are no clauses to whittle down. Taranis doesn't hold back.
Instead, he gives himself as a gift, and Riven gives herself to him in return. Together, they make something new.
Taranis unspools his own cells into embryos, pulling from his lungs and heart and blood, taking the initiator's role, that of the dam. In response, Riven kindles them, feeding Taranis a sire's strength for the task. Together, they spin will and memory into shells to house the embryos, their future whims. 
A great gamble. And a solidified future.
The two of them and their clutch, a new generation of Ahamkara raised in the Dreaming City and the Black Garden. To one day be as they wish.
What other Ahamkara had created life like this? With generosity and affection, with teeth unbared and voice unspilled? If any had, Taranis never met them, nor heard their story.
Taranis sprawls out against the cool stone and moss of his nest, exhausted. Riven stands by him, inspecting their eggs with cool, critical eyes.
Their first gift to their whims is existence.
- "O eggs, O little cells! If nothing else, if you let this memory pass with no exegesis, learn this: you were loved."
- — Taranis
Taranis and Riven scatter their eggs across spacetime, giving them life to look on and grow near. From his grove, a nursery once more, Taranis broods on them. He takes on avian characteristics, letting feathers grow along a snake-like body. He fluffs himself up in his nest to spin new dreams for their clutch. He hums with pride, and his eggs chime along with him.
When he was born, Taranis had hatched out in the cold, nothing but his shell to sustain him. But their eggs, he vows, will have more. They will have a surfeit . They will know the names of their forebears, dam and sire both.
"If I'd known eggs would have settled you down so much, I'd have proposed it myself long ago," says Riven, their sire. Her voice is distant and comes to him with the energy of her city, moving like cold water over gleaming stone. A sure sign that she is at work with her queen
"Between life and death, you chose life." Taranis, his voice plain as it is, makes sure his smugness carries all the way to the Dreaming City.
"I could still kill you."
In perfect security, Taranis says, "But you won't."
Riven's laugh is that of a pride of lions.
Riven's voice faintly reaches across space to Taranis.
"Don't come to the Dreaming City. Stay in your nest."
Taranis rouses. "Too busy at your work today?"
Taranis stands. "They won't hurt me. Maybe I can talk sense into them." He lets the strands bringing their minds together fall from his grasp.
"Listen to me," Riven presses.
The Dreaming City boils with activity, violent desires rising within its citizens. They load weapons. They make plans. Taranis recoils from their dreams.
Riven's power is leashed. She roars through her bars:
"You colossal fool, leave or I'll bite your throat open!"
Taranis does not leave.
The Queen of the City stands in a hall. She is surrounded by her people and crates of weapons ready to be distributed to allies outside the Reef. Taranis avoids them all, tracking the scent of other Ahamkara.
He finds Azirim alone in a glade of luminous reeds, worrying at a piece of quartz.
Azirim's shape is spiked today, sharp with defenses. His voice is far more sour than usual. "You missed the crowd. Guess your nest was just too far to make it in time."
Spikes grew along Taranis's own spine, edging his wings. "And you waited."
"Yeah, I wanted to let you know." Azirim's jaw drops into a smile. "You're tight with the lady of the house. But it won't save you, and it won't save her. You're both just fish in the barrel now."
"My partners won't return death for generosity."
"You think that now. Me, I'll welcome it. I'll live forever as bones. I'll eat life. I'll eat worlds. You just watch me from that nice rose garden of yours."
Azirim's laugh is the last part of him to fade from the glade.
Taranis scuttles along the wainscotting, a swift mouse-shape. Boots thump past him, tracking mud and urgency along the tiles. Wishes push at Taranis, for success, for safety, for the thrill of the hunt.
Taranis searches for an Awoken he knows. A partner once dealt with in fairness.
Gwilym is in his room tying back his long hair, bright silver against the deep blue of his hands. There is a bag on a hook by the door, a knife tucked inside, its edge whetted.
Gwilym's muddled desires fill the room with a heavy steam.
Behind him, Taranis lets himself grow from mouse to cat—the shape Gwilym knew him in.
"Will you join the hunt, O companion?"
Gwilym jumps. His hand leaps to his heart, clutching the heavy fabric of his jacket.
"You shouldn't be here."
"I shouldn't visit a partner?" Taranis's long tail twitches.
Gwilym's voice is that of a man convincing himself.
"Azirim is not all of us."
Gwilym raises his voice in alarm, and a tall Corsair quickly barrels through the door.
Taranis makes it out in the window in dragonfly form, just out of reach of the gloved hand snatching for him.
"O love, you were right."
"I'm always right."
"If all we are is teeth and all they are is claws, what world are we dreaming into existence together?" Taranis' wings cover his face. The soft breezes of the grove don't touch him.
"A world of teeth and claws." Many of Riven's voices are bitter, but none are surprised.
The eggs are so delicate that they make no ripples at all in the fabric of reality. They're curled-up potential, fragile within crystal will. Hard to make. Easy to shatter.
"We'll build ourselves, and even when we're bones, we'll sing to our children."
Riven reaches out with a thread of thought. A secret overheard in the palace between Uldren, Mara's brother, and Jolyon Till, his Rachis. It feels like raspberries and quartz. It smells like the Divalian Mists. A fine secret to share and never speak out loud. Taranis unfolds himself from under his wings, and they weave it together into something grander.
Together, Riven and Taranis weave more secrets; for their children, for the joys of creation, for outwitting any future seekers.
The voices of their fellow Ahamkara change slowly from the thrum of the living to the echo of the dead. Their bones whisper to powerful minds. A scale off Eao's shoulder eventually rattles in the pocket of Riven's mechanical acquaintance. Azirim's skull and spine lie in wait for a victim.
The living voices recede till Riven and Taranis are the only ones left, speaking across the empty distance.
Until Taranis calls for Riven and she does not answer.
And the chime of their eggs fall almost silent.
- "O my eggs, we meant to have eternity! To think our voices could be silenced forever! Sharpen your sight for unintended clauses. Step carefully around the waiting snare. Beware the bargain that makes you less than what you were!"
- — Taranis
Creatures lurch through the grass on the strings of their master's desire, their own wills gone to rot.
Corruption spreads from the center of the Dreaming City. The grit at the pearl's heart poisons the city, poisons Riven, and poisons their eggs from the inside out.
There's a murmur. Taranis slithers towards it to listen.
What speaks is not Riven, not as Taranis knows her.
Taranis knows her every voice, the way her claws tug at reality. There is no shape Riven could take in which he would not know her. And there should be no shape Taranis could take in which Riven would not know him.
But now, Riven does not know him. Does not taste Taranis's fear on the wind. Does not look away from her revenge to notice him at all.
Taranis returns to his nest unseen, in grief.
Life flows along the branches of the nursery. However many paths have been closed off outside, potential still flourishes in this grove, Light and Dark giving off new buds together.
Taranis shuts himself off from it, retreating to his hoard of secrets. Stone grows up his sides. Moss and vines follow, tracing words on his sides.
While dormant, Taranis listens to this new Riven's voice— The voice of a king, uninterested in magnanimity. A strong and unyielding voice that tastes of iron.
Only faint chimes of his Riven are left in the wish-born shells of their remaining eggs. And there are so few left.
The thought rouses Taranis from his stupor.
Taranis and Riven are the last Ahamkara. What Riven has become is an abdication of responsibility, life only for her own sake; power and spite.
The final eggs are the last living remnants of Riven and of their shared work.
Taranis can't abdicate his responsibility to them. Can't erase their opportunity to choose.
As Taranis made his own life and suited his diet to his tongue, his eggs will make themselves. Vines break from Taranis's body as he stands.
His eggs will survive.
There is one last bargain he can make. One last gift he can give them. One last use for his tongue.
For the final time, Taranis opens his throat to speak.
"O' my eggs! O' my children! O' future whims, O' dreams of your own devising! I am dead, and Riven, your sire, is caged."
Remember that the easy meal, the little joy, passes soon. What fills your belly forever is satisfaction. Grow well! Eat life to sate your belly's hunger and return it as a gift to sate your heart's.
No bargain can grant you a life without pain; make your bargains carefully.
But give your gifts carelessly, to all who enter your heart, and they will give life back to you in turn.
All that is left of me is yours: take it and choose.
Choose with care who you will be. Promise me only that you will live.
O Wish-Keeper, my death is in your hands. Bear it well.
Remember me. Remember I was Taranis, Rivensmate till the end.
- Whims are the given name for neonatal Ahamkara
- Lantern Bond, Salicin Fen The twelfth Lightbearer was Albios, as proven by references to his willow, lantern, and swamp. This makes Taranis the Ahamkara who spoke to him in his fifth life
- Lore:Truth to Power As speculated by Medusa, only by enclosing a target within the "O'" activator and the possessive "mine", may a user of the Anthem Anatheme act upon its power.
- In animal husbandry, the male is referred to as the sire, the female the dam.
- An excess of food and drink
- Refers to wishes made by Oryx, the Taken King following the taking of Riven.
- Refers to Riven after being Taken by Oryx