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"And my vanquisher will read that book, seeking the weapon, and they will come to understand me, where I have been and where I was going."
The following is a verbatim transcription of an official document for archival reasons. As the original content is transcribed word-for-word, any possible discrepancies and/or errors are included.

Inspiral is a Lore book added in Lightfall which acts as a catalogue for depictions of the Darkness and its various effects on others. Entries are unlocked by through various collectibles in Root of Nightmares along with completing some of its encounters.

The Habitable World

A dream of worlds in unity, millennia gone by, alien and familiar all at once. It leaves behind a data fragment to mark its passing.


After the informant had come, bringing reports of the end of the Ammonite by the sword of the festering Hive, we did not yet know disaster. Unusual signals at the edges of our Habitable World suddenly had meaning, the intelligence thrice-over credible enough to mobilize. And yet: those at the core of our united Ecumene did not know the scent of fear.

After all, it was to be understood that they would fall. The Ammonite were only one, not a unity. Divided. Meanwhile our Habitable World always grew. We offered the Fathomless Deep to any who wished to learn of our synergy, and it glossed the way to become more than we were.

The day the war began, I was far from disaster. There was celebration. A new client-species drank of the Deep and understood the World as we tasted it. The joy marked the air, and all of us shared it, for all were now Ecumene: welcome, welcome. What could bitter such a thing?

Sunrise-scents were long fading when I read the first report of strife, though delight lingered sweet on my breath. Buoys offline. Sentinels unresponsive. A first strike. A lingering scent we could not understand, though the Deep indicated familiarity. From the beacons: Aiat. Aiat.

I set this day in memory above all others.


It has been long and long since the war began. The Habitable World shrinks by the moment. We know not what the future holds but crisis and fear.

I set this day in memory so that we will know, when the lessons are taught in some warless future, unbreathed but true in the fragile hope all of us shelter. Fear did not come suddenly. The first harbingers of violence arrived on the same winds as joy. That of value must be cherished, for it may already be too late.

In the Deep may we be kept.

A Sword, an Edge

A phantasm of the Hive, forbidden and sacred, trespassing into hidden and unwelcoming places. It leaves behind a calcified fragment to mark its passing.

Here is what is taught to the Hive, from the basest of Thralls newly made: that what can be destroyed, must be destroyed. What cannot be destroyed will surpass infinity. Therefore, is it not best to destroy? Only by testing can the truth be found. Only in destruction can the invincible surpass the mortal. Commit the violence, and know you are part of that greatest ambition, to create some ultimacy, which perfects the universe. That which is built on your sacrifice, with your bones as the foundation and your blood as the mortar, is yet part of you. In this way is transcendence achieved.

Every belief creates a heresy.

I tell you this in a duelist's regard: I made that heresy. Is it not just? It was my hand that fashioned the Hive from the marrow of their predecessors, and it was my voice that whispered this in time. That as much as the Hive were uplifted by the worms, so too were those worms uplifted by the Hive.

If they were so weak they needed us to live, this ancient logic of the infinitely sharpened edge should have left them behind long ago.

Do you think I did not see this? My father's worm did not tell me only of swords. It had vast things to say, painted the cosmos in shine and gore, truth and fiction. I looked forward with three clear eyes and chose the path of the sword to cut open our future. To reach the stars, first one must crawl out of the ocean. It is a question of priorities.

This is not regret, this story I tell. It is but a ripple.

That whisper of ideas beyond swords is here to stay: I have ensured this. Even among us, such things die by slow inches, excruciating and unquiet. Possibility remains, a secret woven into the blank spaces of dogma. That what was defeated may rise again; that the shape of all shapes is not yet settled.

That the worms need the Hive more than is reciprocal.

Even between the lines of the Books of Sorrow themselves is this written.

The Art of Symbiosis

A trance-imagining of Darkness sweet like honey, a life refracted through another's eyes like splintered light. It leaves behind an imperfectly translated data fragment to mark its passing.

…Anyway, beloved sibling, if you want to catch me while I'm still wearing this (form/body?), you'll need to come home in the next couple of cycles. I don't mind if you'd prefer to wait until I'm down by the [untranslatable] among our ancestors, but you might get a different sort of chat!

I'm excited about it, genuinely. I still hear from our parents, from our great-parents, distantly in my night-trances. And there are those nectar-made moments—you know the ones, when you turn your thoughts to the Darkness and just listen, and the long sum of Qugu history graven there reflects dark-comforting advice.

I have lived out my life with the tenebrous warmth of our ancestors over me like a (cloak/atmosphere?) between us and nothingness. It's different—it's distant. I've drunk of the nectar a few times in the last cycles, and I touch briefly that concurrence of us all, and more and more, I think it is time to be part of it. I want to know the truths our ancestors keep close, and it is my turn to guide the future's children.

I know we argued the last time we spoke about it. You thought I was moving too fast toward aging-metamorphosis, but really I just think you've been away from home too long. Don't take it as my urging to get on with the next stage of your life, just take it as…

I miss you.

Funny, isn't it? How can you miss someone when you know they're always in the Dark? I close my eyes, and in the warm nest-hide of sleep, I know you are real and happy and out there on some other part of the world, far from the river, far from the [untranslatable] where our ancestors (dream/exist) together. But it isn't the same as having you near, knowing your truth is under the same stars. Being able to simply turn my (head/face/bloom?) and ask for your opinion.

Dear sibling, come home. Live in my house, and let me (dream/exist) close to you again, whether in this shape or the new one I will take on. I will not be the same, but which of us ever is? You are not the same as you were as a child, either. No matter the form of the existence, I will love you.

The Dark Below

A nightmare of Luna, of that which waits below, of disaster and wreckage and inexplicable warm camaraderie tangled together. It leaves behind a journal page with familiar handwriting to mark its passage.

Six of us went down into the Pit, and only one crawled out. That is how it was, and that is how it is.

I have not wanted to look back at that time, but lately it has become prudent to examine what is and is not known of the Darkness. I know Darkness. I have been trying to distinguish the Darkness from the framework the Hive use to shape it for long and long, but they are deeply intertwined. The Voice in the Darkness answers some things, but not all.

I think: The Great Disaster. What did we know? Was there anything besides terror and the swords of the Hive?

I think: What was in the Pit?

The Lunar Pyramid was here all along, as we now know. Since the Collapse, its Darkness has seeped into Luna, into all that surround it. Could one write a treatise on the subspecies of Hive, on the differences written in the various plates of chitin? Have the Hive been here long enough, overrunning our Luna, that a recognizable change in them has evolved?

…I digress. There were times, deep in that dark pit, when I thought: Ah, Sai means to break left. And then she would, knives like lightning, as true as if she herself had told me she would. Or: Ah, there is Omar, beside me, and though he was not, his presence rang comforting in my ears like struck metal.

Synergy, I thought. The closeness that combat creates. We were pinned together in the dark, and so we learned to read each other perfectly, for to do otherwise would have been to die.

To die sooner.

Anecdata? Perhaps. Always the quiet voice that says to temper my expectations, that it is wishful thinking to imagine that they lie beside my heart, instead of Nightmares floating in my wake. But in all this time, all of this lingering, I am surer of what I felt then. Not only necessity; not only the edge of the blade.

I know more of Darkness now. It is not violence. It is something more: something that hums and flows and resonates, knife or song by equal measure.

I have not been able to bear the sound of silence since that time. Too long among the screaming Hive, I thought once. Now…

Cacophony is almost a comfort.

Brass Gardeners

A specter of the Black Garden, rich with the sweetness of flowers and the stink of radiolaria. It leaves behind a delicate data-lattice to mark its passing.

Garden state: neutral


//intrinsic, inextricable, inescapable

anomaly ++

anomaly One = leaf|invasive;

Garden state: active (gardeners attend)

case Irrecoverable:

if (irretrievable injury (garden&&gardeners)) && (threat persistence) then (escalation. escalation.)

anomaly status: present, tracked, new. No archive referent. simulation: failed.

Damage: 0.3332%. Recoverable. Danger: Recovery projection irresolvable. Repeat. Repeat. Set: irresolvable == irrecoverable == irretrievable

anomaly ++

anomaly Zero = infinite|The Witness|witness; archive data retrieved. Zero = infinite|witness == (a seed was planted here.) Recorded referent: "Black|Heart"

Zero : seed :: One : DANGER


anomaly Zero, absent. anomaly One, DANGER remaining.

Garden state: acting (gardeners in unison)

extirpate (anomaly One)

//There is a majestic thorn. The anomaly is gone. The garden is peaceful.

//It is known|seen|predicted that a primary function of irresolvable|irrecoverable presences is to trample.

Flowers growing / damage repairing / threat unresolved

Function called: escalation. Iteration.

Function: winnow. Function: simplify. Function: flatten.

//The first defense is offense.

Dark Glass

A reverie of a loyal Ghost, changed and quiet but always steadfast. It leaves behind a gently glowing data fragment to mark its passing.

We were in the Garden, and I was going to die, and then I didn't. I watched my Guardian speak to himself, and not himself: a being that wore his shape, spoke with his voice, and offered him salvation. Salvation in the form of forgetting. I didn't know Darkness could do that. I don't think any of us really understood it.

And where did that leave me?

A loose end, that's what. Any reasoning being would have spotted that; taking someone's memory does no good at all if they have someone right there to tell them all about it. I don't know if my Guardian thought about that. The mirror of him definitely did.

I tried to run.

A grasp from out of the Darkness caught me.

I lost something there, like I was taken apart and put back together with a part missing. Like I was really nothing more than a machine, like the Traveler's blessing and my own bright heart meant nothing at all more than copper and glass. And when I thought about anything again, anything that wasn't an infinite abyss with no stars, my Guardian and I were outside the Black Garden. He had lost them, and I couldn't tell him, and nothing was the same.

I don't speak any more, and he doesn't know why. I cannot even speak to explain—I don't know where my voice is, or even if I want to speak at all. Maybe it took that, the memory of my voice.

I still remember what happened. I wonder why that thing that pretended to be my Guardian didn't just kill me or change me further—make of me something broken and unknowing. I don't know if it understood that I love my Guardian, despite everything. Maybe it counted on that, that I would always bring him back even if I had nothing else in me but that.

I think the voice, that wrong presence in the Darkness, thought that forgetting his team would make him malleable, but it's the other way around, really. Without them, my Guardian is impossible to shift aside. Even for me.

And that power in the Garden, the one that turned them all on each other… I have my suspicions. I'm an honest Ghost, but.

I've known a lot of con artists.

The power and the offer, the curse and the salvation. Were they all the same in the end? The same thing, the same Voice in the Darkness?

If nothing else, I know at least that thing, that grasp which caught me, isn't the same as the Darkness itself. Otherwise, I'd never be able to bear my Guardian's touch. But: I can settle in his hand and, sometimes… sometimes we still understand each other, like meaning moves from me to him without the need for words at all.

We're different. But we're alive.

It's enough.


A waking dream that appears by night, singing slyly like starlight. It leaves behind a crystallized data fragment to mark its passing.

I am diminished. I know this. It behooves a Queen to be honest with herself, even if such truths are hidden from advisors and subjects. Leaving the Distributary was not a mistake—and, in fact, it was the only possibility, for the expanding wake of the Collapse must someday find that safe haven too—but there are days I regret it.

Celestial bodies still spin. Most of them.

I touched the mind—the being—of that terrible distant force but once, and that was more than sufficient. Even I, Awoken and Queen, strength of my people, felt inextricably mortal in that moment.

I have stared into hard vacuum with nothing but my will to keep the breath in my lungs, and never feared a moment. This?

It disquiets me. I should not be afraid. I must not embrace fear. So I turn it over, again and again, picking through the pieces of that one fragmented impression for something more. To look at my own weakness, time after time. To understand something is to drain the killing fear out of it. That which is known can be disassembled.

(There was a version of me that was grateful… no.)

Yet the more I analyze, the more I ponder, the less I understand. A cacophony, an overwhelming weight of presence and thought and intent. A person, but not a person. More than that. Imagine if that first place where we the Awoken came to be had been nothing but screaming chaos.

In the noise, in the oppressive weight, I learn pieces as delicate as spiderwebs, as scattered as stars. I lay them out along each other in my thoughts. Here is purpose—not a singular thesis, but the idea of purpose, vicious and brilliant and driven as I ever was. Here is a shape—I see it as a sharpness, like a starless cutout against a distant galaxy, made clear in the negative space. The thoughts of the Hive, I might guess, but it is not quite the same. Purpose and sharpness are discrete from each other here. Darkness, and the sword—no, Darkness BUT the sword.

Here is a stillness—I breathe, and it shatters, but the idea of that perfect quiet ending remains, lingers into dreams. I think sometimes if I dream long enough, I will understand this Witness better, the Voice not of the Darkness, yet in it. But I do not have the time to spend in dreaming.

To understand this listless scavenger that claws through our world and cherishes the destruction it leaves as transcendent…

Risky, as all valuable things are.

I know one other thing from the Witness, garnered in those bare moments I touched it. Not a why or a how, no home or treasures to point at weakness. Only this:

Beneath all else, that being cradles rage enough to burn the stars themselves to cinders.

The Cave

A delusion of a being long dead, an idea of living only to serve, only for one purpose. It leaves behind a sharp-edged data fragment to mark its passing.

There is a conflict in me, O Witness, that unsettles your weapon, my self. Why is it that you allow flawed understandings of your great work to persist in all those who serve you, even in your Disciples? Every one of us seems to have some different conception of your Final Shape.

I do not need reassurance in my own comprehension. Only to understand what purpose it serves that you have chosen such disparate servants to carry out your will.

Is it a simple answer? Perhaps none who serve you have the capacity to grasp your vision. And so, rather than waste more of your time and attention on explaining something they will never hold, it is enough that they act as you will. The Witch and her Hive carving single-mindedness out of the cloth of the universe, that whispering Nightmare seeking the fullest gamut of existence, the Upender destroying all differentiation. Shadows on the wall.

In this case, it would be hubris to think I have understood your work, that I alone among your Disciples have grasped what purpose it is we serve. All of us must see darkly reflected.

But there is relief in simplification. There is kindness in winnowing. So then, why is this proliferation permitted?

The shadows, showing the truth by their casting.

Perhaps it is enough to simply trust that we are weapons in your hand, O Witness—even if we cannot see the perfect shape of your plan, we serve it by your wielding of us. Each Disciple has come to be only by your will, and so that incomprehension is also in your making. You ask for trust, and obedience, and promise that whatever you do, whatever finality you achieve, will suit each of your followers perfectly.

Your Final Shape will be a hundred promises kept. I have seen the reflections of it through all of we Disciples, through the tracks you leave in the universe, a truth understood through the shadows it casts.

There: I have resolved the conflict within my thoughts, and I am at peace again. Once more, I am only your violence and nothing more.

The Final Shape will realize us as we strive.


A dream of a metaphor made starkly, an allegory discussed in study of ontology, in Darkness not unkind. It leaves behind a warped, barely-real data fragment to mark its passing.

There is a voice that echoes across the Darkness, and it asks this question: what is the purpose of it all?

And there is another voice that calls back and says: listen, I will tell you a purpose. I will tell you of a Final Shape.

Look: there are a hundred gildings for this story. It comes down to one key matter. Beings in suffering crave purpose to carry them through. The tyrant consumed by ennui or the disenfranchised struggling simply to survive—it is the state of mind, the pain which cries out: give me a reason I should suffer so!

Let us speak of power and choices. A man comes to a crossroads and asks of the sky, "Which road shall I take?" There is no answer from the sky, nor the wind, nor the earth beneath his feet. But another wanderer on the road, coming from behind and hearing the question, says, "I know the way. You should take the dexter road."

If the man agrees, he puts himself in the wanderer's power, ceding his own choices for the implicit promise that this is the correct road, the safe road. And if he disagrees?

Let us say that the wanderer draws a knife. The man may therefore be made to take the dexter road. But now if the knife goes away, the man will certainly flee. And perhaps even if the knife remains, the man may tire of being threatened and decide the risk is worth fleeing. In this way, the wanderer erodes their own power.

If the wanderer says, "The wind has said that you should take the road of my choosing," will the man accept the choice made for him?

And if the wanderer says, "Behold, I have seen that the meaning of suffering lies along the dexter road," will the man give away his own power for longer?

Is it not easier to accept the guidance of a stranger when the path ahead is unknown?


A dream of a friendly conversation with someone impossible to see, cloaked in shadows. It leaves behind an impossible data fragment to mark its passing.

Here is what a flower knows.

(The fact that a flower may know anything is a conceit that will have to be accepted as metaphor, but to constantly qualify into perfect precision wears thin, does it not? So, here is what a collection of chloroplasts and pigment can know.)

The direction of the sun.

The presence of the rain.

The tangle of the roots.

The distress of another plant.

The hands of the gardener, whether they prune or transplant or crush.

A flower cannot know much else. But the reality of the garden is vast and wild. A flower knows not the fence; a flower knows not the footpath. And yet there is an infinite cosmic garden, which is not any less real simply because the flower cannot possibly comprehend it…

Let us try this again. Stop me if you've heard this one: A gardener and a winnower sit down to play a game outside of time and creation. Yes?

Yes. Then we're agreed. The metaphor stands. Let us iterate.

A gardener and a winnower set out their chairs and play a game of flowers. The flowers know only that they grow or wither, struggle or flourish. Sometimes, they are touched by one hand or the other, and that influence is the closest they will know of the divine.

A flower and a flower spread their leaves to the sun above. (Remember that the sun is also a metaphor: a thing said beautifully, winnowed down to poetry, when the truth is too vast to put in words at all.) They jostle for space, each competing to be the pinnacle of their shape. One flourishes. One withers. Is it the fault of the flower or the fault of its position?

A gardener and a winnower sit down to play a game called Possibility. This is a game about a garden, which is to say that it is also a game about flowers, just as a game about a living being must also be a game about organs and bacteria.

A gardener and a winnower collaborate to create a protein. Whose hand is it in the design, that shortens one life to extend the rest?

It is the winnower that discovers the first knife, but it is not done without the gardener. This, too, is a tradition: a knife does not come to exist without something that must be cut. A woody stem, a colored petal, a vital vessel. The first victims of the blade.

All of these are true.

All of these are false, for metaphor simplifies as the knife does. It pares incalculable concepts into shapes your wrinkly little brains can comprehend. The weight of billions and the simple curve of a planet give you pause, and how then are you to be expected to grasp the forces that created your nth-removed creator?

So the stories woven with utmost delicacy in and around the falsehoods are, after it all, true. There was never any option for the knife to not exist in the garden: it was only ever a matter of time and opportunity.

And as for the shape of the knife itself—

No. That is enough.

I will tell you of gardens.

They are domesticated things, made in a form. As soon as something is called a garden, it is shaped. The plants require the hand of a gardener, for they have become weak and dependent on tender care. They require the hand of a winnower, to cut away the dross, for they are too incapable to do it themselves. In absence of a hand, either the flowers themselves must rise up to wield the knife, or the garden will resolve to meaningless wilderness.

You will say, "But there are plants that can walk! There are seeds that must be scorched by fire to know growth! Existence is more complex than a simple dichotomy between growth and withering, and there is more in heaven and on earth than is dreamt of in this philosophy!"

And I will tell you, clearly:

There can be no gardens without knives.