Lore:Rites of Passage
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Rites of Passage is a Lore book that was added in Season of the Witch. Entries are unlocked by listening to radio messages during Season of the Witch. It follows a number of characters' perspectives as the conflict between Eris Morn and the surviving heirs of the Osmium Court play out.
Saint-14 and Osiris sat across from ecch other at the rough wooden table, focused on the array of wires, struts, and braces spread out before them. Mithrax had mentioned that his Splicer Gauntlet had been causing his arm to go numb, and Saint's overeager offer of assistance had turned into an evening of frustratingly meticulous tinkering. Mithrax had politely excused himself hours ago, but and Osiris were so focused on their discussion of Savathûn's bargain they hardly noticed.
"We don't have a choice," Osiris said, threading a wire through the lacey frills of a tiny Ether converter. "The future the Witness is crafting beyond that portal is more terrible than we could dream. Anything is preferential to that."
"Anything but her," Saint grumbles.
"Even her," Osiris said defiantly. "If Savathûn knows how to pursue the Witness—and there is little doubt that she does—we must work with her. There is no other way."
With an Exo's patient precision, Saint straightened a row of metal pins. "I do not know how you can say that. After everything."
Osiris raised his eyebrows. "I am a beacon of forgiveness," he said, but the words sour on his tongue.
"So you forgive ber?" Saint didn't need to look up from his work.
"No," Osiris said quietly. He aligned a metal tab with its slot and pressed it into place, waiting to hear a click. It didn't come.
"The trurh is," Osiris said, "I hardly think of her at all."
Saint looked at him flatly, but Osiris shrugged, his face open. "I know how it sounds. I have acknowledged what happened and… moved on, I suppose. I am here. Alive. With you. They say that's the best revenge, don't they?"
Saint coiled a stubborn spring and prepared to slide it into a support brace. "Is it revenge to allow the violator to avoid accountability?"
"The 'violator' is dead," Osiris said wryly.
Osiris heard the spring clatter in the corner near the kitchen and rose wordlessly to hunt for it. Saint sighed. "I do not know how you can so calm," he said. "You sometimes act as though you do not remember what she did to you."
"I remember it all," he said softly, without turning away from the corner. "I remember being… helpless." The words caught in his throat.
Saint pushed his chair back and stood, but Osiris was already back at the table, a dusty spring in the center of his palm. "There is still fury inside me," he said, "fury that I will probably carry forever. I acknowledge it, but I do not let it consume me. I control it, and take strength from that."
Osiris placed the spring on the table and sat back down. Saint moved to his side. "Denying your emotions is not strength," Saint said carefully.
"I admit that, if I could, I'd change what happened," Osiris said. "But not if doing so changed where it led me." Osiris reached out and gave Saint a half-embrace around the hips.
"Have we finished talking about this now?" Osiris asked, and Saint heard the rawness in his voice.
Saint kissed the top of Osiris's head and sat back down. It would have to be enough.
A Matter of Distrust
Ikora's hands moved reflexively to deflect the blow and deliver a killing strike, but she stopped after recognizing her attacker. She allowed Elsie to grab the front of her robes and shove her against the bulkhead.
"Were you even listening?" Elsie screamed, her hands shaking in frustration. "How many reports, Ikora? How many times did I tell you what I saw?"
The pain in her voice tore at Ikora.
She knew the stories almost as well as Elsie at this point: the Exo had traveled back from a future where Eris Morn held dominion over everything and even bent Savathûn to her will. It had not ended well.
Elsie pushed away and began to pace, furious.
"Elsie," Ikora said gently, "I know the future you came from. But that is not this future."
"I have seen what happens when Eris Morn has unchecked power," Elsie hissed. "I have smelled the corpses."
Ikora wanted to comfort Elsie, but knew that any attempts at camaraderie would push her further away. Instead, she straightened her robes. "The Eris in your timeline was corrupted by Darkness," she said coolly. "We bow understand how to wield the Darkness without becoming lost in it."
"Eris Morn was corrupted by POWER, Ikora," Elsie said. "The same power you're encoraging Guardians to—to—" she nearly choked on her words, "—to tithe to her through Hive rituals! And you think that's somehow BETTER?!"
Ikora took a breath. "I hear you," she said with quiet authority. "And while I trust Eris, I will not lose my objectivity. If actions must be taken, I will take them."
Elsie shook her head. "I wonder if you said the same thing before your body was buried in the wreckage of the Tower."
Ikora waited. One cannot speak when the other is unwilling to listen, Osiris has once told—
"It's in her voice," Elsie said. She sounded small. She sounded truly afraid, Ikora realized. "You can hear it, even through her Hive transformation. When she speaks, she's smiling."
Ikora reached out a hand to stop her from having to say it.
"To kill my sister," Elsie whispered, pleading for understanding. "To kill Ana. Eris was smiling that same smile."
Ikora laced her fingers together and looked at the floor.
"I won't watch it happen again," Elsie said, and her voice was ice.
Drifter sidled through Eris's Athenaeum, poking at her occult doodads. Many of the unidentifiable objects were covered in one type of grime or another: wax, tallow, machine grease, or blood. Hw shook his head with affection, amazed that someone so sharp could be so sloppy.
He spotted the Deck of Whispers spread haphazardly across Eris's lectern and strode across the room, gathering them into a clean pile. He'd had so many fortunes and misfortunes over his many lifetimes, he doubted another one would tip the scales either way. Drifter cut the deck fearlessly and flipped over the top card with a flourish.
As he stared into the card, the magnitude of Eris's undertaking loomed large in his mind. "Don't worry, Moondust," he muttered. "You got this."
He casually back on top of the deck. "And when you're done, I'll be waiting."
* * *
Zavala eyed the Deck of Whispers warily. He had been touring Eris's base of operations when the cards caught his eye. They seemed to draw his attention with silent insistence.
The commander had never been one to seek omens or portents. It wasn't that hw chafed at the idea of cosmic forces influencing his fate; the far-reaching effects of the Traveler on his life had long put to rest his hubristic sense of self-determination. Rather, he distrusted the riddles that such ocular devices employed. Be had heard too many of the Witch Queen's half-truths to trust anything but hard evidence anymore. And yet…
Zavala picked up the deck and immediately sensed its power. It felt heavier than the weight of its materials. As he hefted it in his palm, a card slid from the middle of the deck, as if pulled by an unseen hand. Zavala watched gravely as it fell face up at his feet:
He gave a plaintive chuckle. Perhaps the oracles were not so difficult io interpret at all.
* * *
"Ikorakel?" Mithrax called out to the Athenaeum. He had come looking for the Warlock Vanguard on City business, but having found the space empty, he paused his search to scrutinize her latest operation. Mithrax had strong objections to Eris's use of Hive magic, but knew the Vanguard was not his House to command.
He perused the esoteric artifacts littering the space with mild distaste. They reminded him too much of the relics of Nezarec, which had plagued his youth. As his gaze came to rest on the Deck of Whispers, he felt a familiar numbness spread throughout his chest. Though the sensation had become more prevalent in recent months, he'd told no one.
As the Kell picked up the deck with his upper-right hand, he felt his Splicer Gauntlet pulse with energy. The cards were clearly imbued with a power beyond his experience. With his lower-left hand, he delicately withdrew a card and placed it face up on the table.
Nithrax pondered the omen gravely. It reminded him of all the tribulations his House had suffered in coming to the Last City. Their ascension had been a volent and sorrowful one, filled with detractors. Yet the peace and security they found among the Humans had justified their risks. Now it was Eris who walking into the sanctum of her mortal enemy to her people.
Mithrax shook his head in self-rebuke. Perhaps he'd been too rigid in his opinions regarding Eris Morn's mission. He owed her the same grace that the Vanguard had extended to him.
He slid the card back into the middle of the deck and felt the numbness in his chest recede once again.
She was not "asleep" in any sense her bonded Guardian would understand. For the frail Humans, sleep was a frantic, uninhibited state. Their minds roamed freely between terror, ecstasy, and oblivion. It was not a condition that Ahsa recognized as "restful."
Instead, the proto-worm's attention drifted peacefully among quantum fields unspoiled by physics or matter. Her consciousness diffused from the dense thoughtforms used by the Humans to a more expansive state of being. She was as.a mist upon the face of the cosmos. Time flowed through her as a tranquil breeze.
Her serenity was suddenly eroded. As if a gyre had suddenly formed beneath her mind, sucking her inexorably back into her body. She let herself sink.
The crushing density of her material form suddenly weighed her down. She calmed herself as she re-identified the oppressive forces as mere physical sensation.
| I separate the true from the dead. |
The phenomenon pulling her back was familiar. A Human voice. The words were sharp and pointed. They smelled of putrefaction. Despair. Violence.
| I am the many-mouthed hunger. I am the knife-edged truth. |
The voice grew stronger, like a saprophytic fungus blossoming on a carcass. It spread its mycelial tendrils through her mind. An invocation.
She knew intuitively that she could withdraw from this connection if she desired. The will of the unseen voice was not so strong as to enthrall her. Not yet.
| I devour the free. I conspire with my vengeance. |
Ahsa suppressed the urge to recoil. Beneath the ritual words, she recognized a discordant note. One of… altruism. The speaker was sacrificing themself as well. They proposed mutual tribulation for a greater purpose: the survival of the universe.
Their reciprocal apprehension gave her solace. Ahsa opened herself up, allowing the voice to resonate within her.
| I will take what I need. The words in my throat are the weapon in my fist. |
The gruesome nature of the speaker's method became clear: Ahsa was to become a vessel for their harvested power. A battery for the profane logic—just like her corrupted kin.
Waves of conflicting emotion cascaded through Ahsa as memories of her flight from Fundament resurfaced. After her escape, Ahsa had spent millennia in grief for her lost brethren. But always dormant beneath the surface of her despair was a faint gleam of hope, like buried treasure. A hope that one day, she might redeem their depravity.
A hope which now rose to the surface wielding the very sword she once fled.
|Aiat, aiat, aiat!|
Upon the final invocation, Ahsa perceived the fullness of her caller's intent. They sought power not for themself, or even their species. They fought to preserve the very cosmos as they knew it. To save it from the cruel grasp of a wounded tyrant, using the only tool they could.
The proto-worm imagined the universe swelling and contracting like the tides. Beyond the reckoning of any one being. When moved by such swells, one could only accept their impetus, making of them the beat one could.
From her bonding with Sloane, Ahsa knew this was what Humans called "fate."
A Big Fan
Immaru floated at the edge of a large crowd, waiting for an opportune moment. He tried to remain inconspicuous.
The Hive Ghost had snuck out of the Tower, leaving his bone-ridge shell behind to avoid unwanted attention. He filched an old Shaded Shell from an office junk drawer. The sunglasses made it perfect for sneaking around undercover. Given the gaudy shells these preening Tower Ghosts wore, Immaru was sure his appearance would go unnoticed.
He wandered around the Last City for a while, watching the citizens putter from one inane task to the next. Since resurrecting Savathûn, Immaru had been witness to the creation of a throne world, cosmic-level spellcraft, and interplanetary invasions. Being pent up with the Humans, watching them haggle over the price of charred carrion skewers, was maddening.
He was nearly bored enough to return to the Tower when a stream of rowdy celebrants piqued his interest. They poured into the streets from houses, bars, and betting parlors—all making their way toward the edge of the City. Immaru floated among them.
The crowd eventually arrived at the perimeter of an abandoned military base. Well-to-do patrons filtered past Redjacks into the base, while most of the crowd gathered around enormous screens set up outside. The screens displayed the opening salvos of a Crucible match, and Immaru could detect changes in air pressure as the Guardians bombarded each other within the facility.
After the match's brutal conclusion, the crowd dispersed. A few die-hard fans waited around around the gate to congratulate the participants. Eventually, the Crucible's boisterous announcer emerged to receive his fans' well-wishes. Once the crowd had thinned, Immaru floated up to the one-horned Guardian.
"I love what you're doing here, big guy," Immaru effused. "I got friends who would be very into your kill-or-be-killed vibe."
Immaru could sense Lord Shaxx blinking beneath his helmet, trying to place the Ghost's voice. "Well met. Perhaps your friends will join us on the field!"
"Oh, you met some of 'em already," Immaru chuckled. "You got a lot in common, actually."
Immaru raised his voice in imitation of the Titan's booming commentary: "'ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVE,' 'MAKE PAIN YOUR ALLY,' DYING IS AN ESSENTIAL ELEMENT.' That's right in their wheelhouse. You might even call it a philosophy."
"Well, the Crucible is more than just senseless violence," Shaxx patiently explained. "It's about fair play. It's about bringing the beat out in one another and rising above our limitations."
"I totally understand," Immaru said, chuckling inwardly at the Titan's canned rhetoric. "The goal is to be the sharpest we can be. And anyone who can't handle the edge gets cut. There's a certain… logic to it."
"I'm glad you enjoyed yourself," Shaxx said as his gleaming Sparrow materialized beneath him. "But remember: the Crucible is about more than just combat. More than just Guardians. It's about putting our differences aside and uniting everyone in the City. Including the Ghosts," he seemed to wink.
"I'm a big fan," Immaru gushed. "Thank you for uniting so many different types of people. More than I could have imagined."
"Many thanks for your support," Shaxx hollered as revved the engines on his Sparrow. "I hope to see you and your friends again soon. Until next time!" The massive Guardian gave his admirer a brief salute and sped off into the City.
Immaru watched the Titan recede into the distance. "Whatever tickles your trigger finger, buddy," he muttered.
The Hive Ghost floated off toward the Tower, renewed in his purpose. At least now he knew what the Witch Queen saw in the Humans. Maybe they would come around after all.
"In the end, they'll accept your offer. The Witness won't leave them any choice." Savathûn's voice echoed through the empty ritual chamber. Immaru floated in the middle of the vast space, listening intently to his boss's pre-recorded instructions.
"With the Warmind gone and the Traveler incapacitated, they'll only have one option left," Savathûn's recorded voice cooed. "They'll have to do things our way. And you'll be there to make sure they do."
Immaru grumbled. The boss was betting a lot on the Vanguard. More than she bet on her own brood! Pride strung the edges of the First Ghost's ego. He'd been an exemplary leader in Savathûn's absence. If anything, he should be the one overseeing the war effort against Xivu Arath!
Then again, he placated himself, maybe it wasn't a matter of competency. Maybe the Witch Queen just saw the Vanguard as more expendable than her own brood. Hell, he chuckled to himself, maybe this was all just a long con to lead the Vanguard inti Xivu's waiting jaws. Only the boss knew for sure.
Immaru initiated playback on another recording, preparing to enact whichever of the hundreds of Savathûn's contingencies came to pass.
"If Ikora Rey is the one to accept my bargain, your job will be much easier," the recording began. "That one has a deep well of bloodthirst. She ruled the Crucible for many years, as you recall. Her eagerness to be reacquainted with death will lead her back to her convoluted ideas on 'thanatinautics.'"
"If anything, she'll get too powerful too quickly," the absent Savathûn mused. "If that happens, just arrange for her to accidentally kill one of her own. Glint, perhaps. That should slow her down for a while. Don't worry about putting her off for good, though. Once she feel the power of the sword, she'll never stop."
Immaru was filled with admiration and suspicion. He wondered if there was a trove of Savathûn's contingencies somewhere that involved his sacrifice. Surely not. He was too important for that. He initiated playback on another recording.
"If the Awoken queen somehow discovers the pattern before I'm resurrected," the Witch Queen began, "the Guardians may attempt to take the heirloom by force. It won't be Mara's idea, of course. But my dear Osiris, in his cleverness, might talk them into a poor decision."
"In that case, it won't be worth fighting them off. That would only play to Xivu's advantage. Instead, deliver the heirloom to the Cabal empress," Savathûn continued. "She has more reason than any to use it against my sister, and a protracted war of attrition will be inevitable. While those two rip each other apart, you can approach the Vanguard with a slightly modified deal—"
Immaru cut off the recording. He hoped it wouldn't come to that. The Vanguard had already guaranteed his safety, but the Cabal had made no such assurances. Showing up on their doorstep with the heirloom was the last thing he wanted. He initiated another recording.
"If all goes to my original plan, Eris will reach a crossroads." A hint of concern snuck into Savathûn's voice. "At some point, she'll glimpse a path to overcome my sister without resurrecting me at all. But there's one way to gather so many tithes in so short a time: she would have to put the Vanguard to the sword. Followed swiftly by the Eliksni and Cabal. The Hive she would spare, I think, for her convenience."
"If that happens," Savathûn concluded, "there are no more contingencies. No more fallbacks. The Hive would have a new queen… and you a new leafer. Wouldn't be that interesting."
A Deal's a Deal
The air still sizzled with dissipating soulfire as the Guardian and Ikora knelt beside Eris. An eruption of Light illuminated the thick smoke behind them, and Savathûn rose again, laughing.
"I suppose I had that coming," the towering god said as she rubbed her renewed throat. She slowly tilted her head.
"Something's different," she said carefully. "I don't feel her."
Immaru darted up to Savathûn's eye level. "After she took your power, Eris called up Xivu's throne world and did something that cut her off from it." He floated to Savathûn's shoulder and glared down at Eris.
"Banished from her own throne world?" Savathûn cackled gleefully as she approached. "Eris, you overachiever, how I love you! I wound you up, and you ran right over her!"
Savathûn crouched, peering at Eris's collapsed form with intense curiosity. "I'm surprised expending that much power didn't kill you outright," she said, "though it explains why you're back in that awful little meatbody of yours."
Eris propped herself up on one elbow. Ikora moved to help her rise, but Eris waved her off. "Our bargain is complete," she said. "Your sister has been dealt with, and you live again."
"Now," Eris demanded, her uncovered eyes glowing fiercely. "Tell us how to follow the Witness."
"Tell you?" Savathûn frowned, her voice edged with disappointment. "I already showed you."
Ikora leapt to her feet, roaring Void energy distorting the air around her. She took a measured step toward Savathûn.
"No tricks, no riddles, no lies twisted around the truth," she said, her voice firm. "Tell us now, or I don't have any reason to let you leave here alive."
Savathûn slowly drew herself to her full height and grinned down at Ikora, spreading her wings wide. "Eris may have managed an interesting sword logic stunt, but I have lost none of my power." She began to hover, her talons dragged across the ground as she floated towards the Warlock. "You're in position to stop me."
The Guardian rose from Eris's side.
"I am," they said.
Savathûn paused for a long moment, her ossified face unreadable.
Finally, she sighed.
"Just when you were starting to impress me," she said as she closed her wings and stooped to Ikora's height. Immaru bobbed awkwardly to keep level with her.
"We both need to stop the Witness, and to that end, I have given you what I promised," she said slowly. "You will find you have it when you are ready. Like Eris said: our bargain is complete. There's no need for drama."
Ikora gritted her teeth.
Savathûn shrugged. "Pout all you like, Ikora," she said. "It's not a trick. And if you won't take my word for it, then—" Savathûn looked around the ritual space of her throne world.
Her eyes settled on Immaru, and she smiled. "Take him."
"What?!" sputtered Immaru.
Savathûn ignored him. "Take Immaru, my loyal Ghost, my connection to the Light," she continued, dropping to one knee in supplication. "I leave him with the Vanguard willingly, so if you would give me my final death than stop the Witness…"
Savathûn closed her claws in a fist. "Crunch," she purred. "Capisce?"
Immaru floated between Savathûn and Ikora. "Don't I get a say in this?" he shouted.
"No!" Savathûn laughed. "You have your orders. And the rest of you," she gestured at Ikora, the Guardian, and Eris, who had drawn herself unsteadily to her feet, "Don't mess this up. The Witness wants to sweep our pieces from the board, and we're having such a lovely game."
Savathûn turned, wings trailing like a gown, and Ikora took a half-step forward. The Guardian was at her side in an instant. Eris placed a hand on Ikora's shoulder: Don't.
"Take care of yourself, Eris," Savathûn said. "It was such fun seeing your mask slip."
The delighted laughter of the Queen of Lies echoed through the ritual chamber as she vanished down the long hallway.
Savathûn flew heavily through the shifting skies of her Throne World. She struggled to build speed; her wings seemed frustratingly stiff following her resurrection. She felt slow and uncoordinated, as if her body was not yet entirely her own. She frowned and drifted to the side, favoring her right, and did not see the spinning disk of Void energy until it caught her low in the thorax and sent her tumbling to the ground.
There was a terrible noise, a flash of purple metal, and then… it was over.
Immaru materialized in a burst of Light. He looked down at Savathûn, and then to Saint-14, who stood over her body.
"Already?" Immaru muttered in disbelief.
Saint's face was hidden beneath his helmet. The lavender ribbons on his armor swayed and trailed with each heavy breath. It took him a moment to acknowledge the Ghost.
"I heard you were in Vanguard custody," Saint said.
"I'm not a prisoner," Immaru sniffed. "More like an insurance policy. Anyway, I could sense something happened and Eris let me come down and check it out."
Saint nodded, his focus still on Savathûn. "Something happened, yes," he said, and nudged the pile of broken chitin and crumpled wings with his boot.
Immaru hovered close to Savathûn. "I'm not even gonna ask," he said while channeling his Light.
Savathûn rose to her knees. She took a raspy breath, opened her eyes, and found Saint. She smiled. "For Os—"
Saint stopped her.
Immaru flew into Saint's face. "All right!" he shouted. "You've made your point!"
Saint wiped the steaming ichor from his visor with a thumb and gestured to Savathûn's remains. "Again," he said pointedly.
"Yeah, I don't think so," Immaru replied and initiated his transmat.
Saint suddenly flared with Void energy. He threw his palms out to his sides, and a violet Ward of Dawn dome burst from him.
Immaru felt it ripple through him like a pressure wave, disrupting his transmission. He bobbed unsteadily—he was unable to see. But he could feel, and now Saint's armored hand gripped him so tightly that a hairline split eran through his shell.
"You will bring her back," Saint said.
"I'm getting a little tired of you people threatening to kill me," Immaru said into the muffled void.
Saint's fist loosened by a fraction. "You will bring her back, and I give my word that you and she will both leave when I am finished."
"When you're finished?" Immary echoed, and he felt Saint release him. He sensed for Savathûn's form hidden in the blackness. He grimaced, focused his Light, and Savathûn began to rise once more.
"Savathûn," Saint said, and killed her.
"You are very new to resurrection as a Lightbearer."
"In the beginning, there is weakness when you first come back."
"Like waking from a deep sleep. From a coma."
"That is why I can best you; you are still unsteady."
"You are Hive, and you know suffering. You come from death. It is nothing to you."
"But I think, maybe, you do not know how it feels to be helpless."
"I will teach you."
After a long, long time, Saint was finished. The dome vanished, exposing the Exo, the Ghost, and the god to the murky Throne World sky.
Saint slowly keyed in his transport request and removed his helmet. As he transmatted out, he looked once more at Savathûn.
"This was not for Osiris," he said, his voice hoarse and ragged.
"This was for me."
When saint returned home, Osiris met him at the door. "You were gone for a while. That must have been quite the patrol,"he said. "Are you hungry?"
And Saint-14—the greatest Titan who ever lived—fell into his open arms and wept.