Lore:Tales of the Forgotten — Vol. 2

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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.

Tales of the Forgotten — Vol. 2 is a Lore book introduced in Season of Plunder. Entries were acquired by exchanging Manifested Pages during Festival of the Lost 2022. It follows Eido as she investigates the Headless Ones.

The Drowned Captain - 1

Phyzann of House Dusk, loyal to Craask, Kell of Kings, slayer of Lightbearers and Cabal, lay silently beneath the dark waters.

The dull eyes of Cabal Legionaries peered thoughtlessly into the darkness, as they slogged through the water like livestock.

And when Phyzann rose up, blades gleaming in all four hands, roaring with the might of House Dusk, the Cabal cried out in their cruel and blundering tongue, their mouths fetid with fear, and they were slain.

From that day on, Phyzann of House Dusk had earned a new accolade among the Eliksni. He was henceforth known as the Drowned Captain.

The Drowned Captain - 2

"So he cut off his own arm?" Eido asked warily. Drifter flicked a coin at the empty cookpot, where it pinged against the rim and bounced away.

"He tripped and fell on his own damn sword," Drifter corrected. "A little different."

"But it didn't kill him?"

"Nah, he left that to the Guardian."

"But the ode claims—"

"You readin' poetry? I got one for ya," Drifter said mischievously, and cleared his throat.

"There once was a Fallen name Phyzann
Who took on a team of three Light-spawn.
He saw they were armed,
And he spoke with alarm,
'If I knew we would fight, I'd be long gone.'"

The Drowned Captain - 3

Eido loomed over the gathered hatchlings, who huddled together nervously. Drifter loitered nearby.

"The Drowned Captain feared nothing," Eido intoned. "So, when he saw the three glowing eyes in the cave mouth, he opened fire!" Eido mimed furious shooting with all four hands.

"But after he stopped, the creature was not felled. Instead," she said, her voice dropping to a low rasp, "it advanced."

"Purple flames poured from the creature's eyes," she said, leaning forward. "It let loose a deafening shriek—"

Drifter, sensing his cue, let loose a blood-curdling scream, causing the hatchlings to jump and chitter in fright.

"And when the scream ended, Phyzann of House Dusk, the Drowned Captain, had disappeared," Eido whispered, "…and was never seen again."

The Drowned Captain - 4

Phyzann of House Dusk, loyal to Craask, Kell of Kings, was tested by wave after wave of Cabal intruders.

But each platoon that lumbered witlessly into his lair fell to pieces beneath the Eliksni hero's blades. Their entrails disgorged into the stagnant water, and their bleats of fear echoed off the cavern walls.

However, just as his victory was assured, the Eliksni hero felt a blade slide into his back, between his lower arms. A Dreg's knife, sharpened by betrayal, became his undoing.

And so Phyzann of House Dusk slid beneath the water once more.

The Drowned Captain - 5

"Father, you one served the House of Dusk alongside Phyzann, the Drowned Captain, did you not?" Eido kept her tone casual.

"His reputation was known by all," Mithrax replied cautiously.

"The odes say he was a ferocious warrior," Eido prompted, "who killed many Cabal. They speak of his bravery."

Mithrax fidgeted silently with the regulator on his Ether rebreather.

"Was it not so?" she insisted.

"Phyzann was incompetent," Mithrax grumbled. "He once blew a hole in the side of his own Ketch attempting the Rite of Six Hands with a live grenade. He was a buffoon."

"Yet the odes—"

"Odes are for hatchlings!" Mithrax replied, more forcefully than intended. "They make glory of desperation, and bravery of ignorance."

"As a Scribe," he continued more calmly, "you must learn to see the truth in such wishful thoughts."

The Drowned Captain - 6

I tell tale of the Drowned Phyzann
House Dusk Captain, with his sword drawn
on Machine-spawn and Cabal
and with our House, our Captain led
against the Legion, Risen dead
our foes ahead, Phyzann's call.

But Drowned Phyzann had at his back
betrayers lunging to attack
and one, a sac-soft coward
took sharpened knife and drove it through
Phyzann's armor, and others too
violence anew, empowered.

But dead and still, a whisper came
it spoke of terror, undone shame
violet eyes aflame, Ether gone
a tongue of fire, a screaming head
a creature made of seething dread
as it is said, Drowned Phyzann.

The Drowned Captain - 7

Phyzann of House Dusk, loyal to Craask, Kell of Kings, lay betrayed. As his life-Ether flowed into the murky water, he heard a call.

It was not the call of his Kell, nor of his Dregs. It was not the call of the Great Machine, nor that of the Awoken prince.

It was the call of the Voice in the Darkness, which bade him to rise, reborn and remade in a form both terrible and terrifying.

And as Phyzann rose, no longer of House Dusk, he roared with flame that poured from his mouth and eyes, and his spirit longed for Ether no more.

The Drowned Captain - 8

"Spider, I wish to ask you about Phyzann, the Drowned Captain," Eido prompted. "No doubt you've heard the odes."

Spider chuckled sardonically. "I wish I knew who wrote them—I could use a liar like that in my operation."

"My father also doubted their veracity," Eido said, intrigued.

"There was a reason Phyzann died guarding a hole in the ground," Spider chortled. "Craask knew he was a liability."

"If he was so widely ridiculed, why do the odes honor him?" Eido asked, puzzled.

Spider surveyed The Ether Tank shrewdly. "It's the first rule of propaganda, little Scribe. Everyone is either a friend or a foe. There's no room for nuance."

"But in the real world…" Eido supplied.

"That's all there is," Spider finished.

The Drowned Captain - 9

"Two Guardians were riding a Sparrow through the EDZ," Glint began.

Eido typed into her datapad.

"They were both on one Sparrow?" she asked flatly, not looking up.

"Yes," Glint said. "They stopped at the side of the road, because the Sparrow broke down. One went to look for supplies, and the other waited inside and locked the doors."

"The Sparrow had doors?"

"This one did," Glint said. "And they were locked. But then the Guardian heard a scratching at the door! From outside!"

Eido stopped typing, watching Glint with interest.

"And a voice said, 'Let me in!' and the Guardian opened the door, but… there was nobody there!"

Glint bobbed in the air, whispering a tremulous "Ooo!"

"And?" Eido asked. Glint stopped moving and glanced back and forth.

"That's the end," he said.

Eido's notes were brief.

Legion Lost - 10

Listen! Here is the story of the Legion-Lost,
Who saw a final dishonor at the hands of an enemy.
War-hardened, tusk-proud, bonded-in-battle,
Broken at last in their deathless death,
Felled by Light-eaters, fated to be Taken.
Many times this story has been told: we tell it again.

The Legion-Lost, warden to this teeming place,
Ruin-scattered Earth for a shame-destined foe.
Few could stand their might, so great was it.
They scoured the Earth with ship and steel,
Gilded and gleaming, heaped in glory.
They took what was there to be taken, lives and loss.

Legion Lost - 11

"And these 'Headless Ones,'" Caiatl began, tilting down her tusks in contemplation, "they are warriors?"

"Oh yes," Eido said, looking up at the Cabal empress. "In fact, they may be Cabal in origin. I am investigating the stories now. Your retainers mentioned a similar tale, and I understand your people have a strong oral tradition. Surely there are accounts of flaming heads? Swords of unusual size?"

Caiatl considered this.

"There have been Cabal who have eaten fire, walked through fire, and belched fire. But that is all."

"I see," said Eido, crestfallen. Caiatl put one massive hand on Eido's shoulder.

"There WERE many warriors with their heads on fire," she offered in consolation. "But not continuously."

Legion Lost - 12

"After the Drowned Captain disappeared," Eido said to the gathered hatchlings, "the Cabal claimed the cavern as their own."

The hatchlings muttered darkly, mimicking their elders' prejudices against the Cabal.

"But the very first night of their occupation, a figure appeared in the mouth of the cave," Eido said. "It had a big round head, and flames poured from its giant mouth. It was… a Headless One!"

"Did they get… eaten?" a tiny hatchling squeaked.

"Even worse," she said. "The creature ripped off their heads, and left their bodies roaming around the cavern, bumping into the walls." She stuck out all four arms and moaned dully.

"And that's where they remain… to this very day," she concluded.

Legion Lost - 13

Earth was war-wounded, Light-devoured.
The Legion-Lost grasped victories where they could;
Ungoverned, burned in spirit, borne bitterly,
They fought with honor until honor fled them.
Here was how they found first-death, where
The Legion-Lost moved forward to their curse:
They found an enemy too fierce for them to fell.

Cornered, cowed, the Legion-Lost made
To take to great caves and hidden places.
A final stand made to hoard their honor.
Life-given, broken, made to suffer,
They saw their end before them.
Like a wild war beast the Light-eater descended,
The Legion-Lost dealt defeat by their hands.

Legion Lost - 14

"Thank you for speaking with me," Eido said cheerfully. The Psion bowed its head, and Eido did the same.

"I've conducted an interview with Empress Caiatl already. But I am hoping that you could further illuminate the subject."

Eido felt a soft, blooming sensation in the forefront of her mind. Gracious acquiescence.

"I am searching for information about the Headless Ones, and—"

The thought of a creature without a head sent up a spike of adrenaline, a flash of sickening terror that burst in Eido's mind so violently that she jumped. The Psion's own thoughts only compounded its fear. Eido's eyes widened.

"Oh, I'm—"

Screaming. Purple flames pouring from empty eyes.

"I'm so sorry, I—"

Screaming. A burst of confetti.

"I didn't mean to—"

Screaming. Candy. Candy everywhere.

"To upset you."

Legion Lost - 15

"About… 13.2 kilograms," Cryptarch Yareli read from the scales.

Eido wrung both sets of hands uncomfortably. The laboratory walls were lined with hundreds of canopic jars, filled with preserved organs and appendages. She recognized many of them as Eliksni.

"Is that… heavy?" Eido inquired.

The Cryptarch arched an eyebrow at her. "Quite heavy for confetti. You say the Headless Ones emit a shower of this material upon death?"

"They do," Eido replied, "along with an edible the Guardians call 'candy.'" She tried unsuccessfully to keep the disgust from her tone.

The Cryptarch shook his head in disbelief. "Aside from its density, which is incredible, this confetti is identical to the stuff Humans used during pre-Dark Age celebrations."

Eido's eye's twinkled with inspiration. "Celebrations like… the Hall Between!"

Legion Lost - 16

But less than death the Legion-Lost became.
In their great shame at the end of their battle,
Great weapons fell from their grasp.
But whispered were they into new wandering,
Dark-forged and Taken into shameful embrace,
The Legion-Lost gained their name in death.

Curse-charged, terror-torn,
They raised eyes darkened, then lit with flame,
Sword-screaming, rising from purple pyres.
Heads aflame, their end was found in endlessness.
No more wandering or warring in these lands.
The Legion-Lost live as shame and story.

Legion Lost - 17

"And these monsters exist?" Lord Saladin asked, his voice grave.

Eido nodded nervously.

"I have ample evidence for their existence. I know that they have flaming pumpkin heads, and that they're filled with candy," Eido said stiffly. "And loot. They are also filled with loot."

Lord Saladin considered this. Eido could not discern what he might be thinking.

"But I question Glint's conclusions about their origins," she added.

The Iron Lord stared her down.

"You heard about this from Glint?"

"Yes, I—"

"I don't have time for this," Saladin said, and walked away.

Findings of Eido - 18

"Would you like… some tea?"

The trip to Luna had been a short one, but now Eido sat uncomfortably in a folding chair in Eris Morn's dwelling. Her host poured steaming liquid from a vessel into a small ceramic cup. The Scribe took it politely, trying to keep the contents from spilling over the rim.

"So you believe the Headless Ones are connected to this 'Hall Between,'" Eris said.

"Yes," Eido answered. "I do not believe they are of Hive origin."

"I see."

"Oh! You do? I was wondering…" Eido trailed off under Eris's stare.

The Scribe looked down at her tea. Humans tended to drink such things communally, but Eris had not poured a cup for herself. Letting her eyes wander, Eido realized the room was oddly bare but for the teapot and a tattered mat at the door's threshold. The lettering on it was illegible.

There was a long silence.

"I was asked to make this place more hospitable," Eris said. Eido wasn't sure if that was an explanation or an apology.

Findings of Eido - 19

"During that time, children would run amok," Cryptarch Matsuo explained. "They would extort foodstuffs from the citizenry under threat of vandalism."

"Hence the participants' eagerness to disguise their identities," Eido mused. "But how does this spirit of lawlessness relate to communion with the dead?" she continued, puzzled.

Matsuo shrugged. "Maybe the Hall Between was a celebration of transgression in general. A period when people disguised themselves to act out of character."

"…When docile hatchlings acted as bandits," Eido supplied, "and the dead returned to speak with the living."

"Exactly," the Cryptarch nodded. "And those without heads were granted replacements… for a time."

Findings of Eido - 20

"I believe you're due for congratulations," Eido continued, "and several apologies. Your work revealing the Headless Ones was a feat of rare scholarship."

"Well thank you for saying so," Glint chirped. He seemed to double in size as his shell swelled with pride. "When I started my investigation, everyone laughed at me, but who's laughing now?"

"I… I'm not sure," Eido admitted. "Is it Drifter? He sometimes snickers at my expense."

"No," Glint explained patiently. "It's me. I'm the one who's laughing."

"Oh!" Eido exclaimed. "You're laughing as an expression of vindication! I understand."

"Yup! I'm the only paranormal expert in the Tower who's also a Ghost!" Glint preened.

"Fascinating," Eido agreed. "However, I do have a few questions about your conclusions…"

Findings of Eido - 21

The Findings of Eido, Scribe of House Light, Regarding the Beings Known as the Headless Ones (Cont'd)

"…from which I can conclude that the pumpkin was a type of sentient gourd that contained eyes and a mouth. Sometimes a single eye, and sometimes the less unsettling four eyes.

Whether these gourds were killed, cooked, and eaten is a… point of debate. Perhaps after a time, they were angered at being hunted for food and eventually turned on their predators.

But then, if I am reading this pre-Golden Age primary source correctly, certain religious festivals were devoted to rearing the heaviest pumpkin. Perhaps these pumpkins were instead used as guides to traverse the Hall Between? Though I still do not understand how a gourd could attain locomotion."

Findings of Eido - 22

"After seeing Glint's evidence, I combed our archives for any mentions of headless bodies," Cryptarch Matsuo began.

"And I uncovered what I consider to be the oldest-known documentation of the Headless Ones!" He slid a vacuum-sealed piece of parchment across the desktop to Eido, who chittered in anticipation.

"As you can see," Matsuo continued with a self-satisfied smirk, "this report was written by a Golden Age scholar who describes himself a 'fourth grade' researcher."

"He calls this document a 'book report,'" Eido noticed. "There must have been a larger body of inquiry into the subject than we ever imagined!"

"Absolutely," Matsuo affirmed. "And this report identifies the individual who I believe discovered the very first Headless One…"

"A scientist named… Ichabod Crane!" Eido exclaimed with delight.

Findings of Eido - 23

"So, if the Headless Ones were created by Nokris as you claim," Eido concluded, "how could they come to populate a cavern on Earth?"

"Maybe some Headless Ones hitched a ride from the Moon," Glint posited. "Like stowaways of cosmic evil!"

"Perhaps," Eido replied, unconvinced. "Or perhaps they are not of Hive origin after all. We may not have enough data yet to draw any conclusions."

"But one thing we can clarify right now," she continued, "is why the Headless Ones are so poorly named. Obviously, they have heads."

Glint's digital iris narrowed. He vibrated in a low whir, which Eido misinterpreted as thoughtful consideration.

Findings of Eido - 24

The Findings of Eido, Scribe of House Light, Regarding the Beings Known as the Headless Ones (Cont'd)

"Here's what we know about the strange pre-Golden Age ritual of the Hall Between:

During the rite, common Humans wore monstrous masks for cosmetic and spiritual purposes—a custom that survives via the Festival of the Lost.

Masked Humans were allowed, if not encouraged, to participate in banditry and extortion of their neighbors. This seemed especially prevalent among juveniles.

Humans used a long-extinct variety of pumpkin familiars to breach the veil between life and death. It's unclear what role these sentient fruits played in the ritual, but the psycho-spiritual power of the legendary gourds merits further research."

Findings of Eido - 25

"If pre-Golden Age Humans knew of the Headless Ones," Eido said, "then they cannot be of Hive origin."

"A reasonable deduction," Cryptarch Matsuo affirmed. "Humanity's first contact with the Hive didn't occur until sometime during the Collapse."

"Glint will be… disappointed by this conclusion," Eido said reluctantly.

"I suspect so," Matsuo replied. "Speaking of Glint… if you could omit my contribution to your research, I would appreciate it." He tapped his forefingers together carefully. "I was rather dismissive of Glint's early expeditions, and I have no desire to eat crow now."

"None of us desire that," Eido chittered, aghast. "I suspect he would taste… bitter."

Findings of Eido - 26

"You really think that Humans created the Headless Ones?" Glint tilted his shell flaps obstinately.

"Yes. I hypothesize that they were created as part of an ancient Human ritual," Eido replied, oblivious to the Ghost's indignation. "…called the Hall Between."

Glint tilted incredulously. "A hall between… what?"

"The realms of the living and dead," Eido reasoned. "To which the ancient 'pumpkins' were key."

Glint's shell flaps went slack in confusion.

"So, while I appreciate your discovery of the Headless Ones," Eido continued, "I cannot support your conclusions regarding their origins."

"Or their clearly inaccurate names," Eido added.

"But, but I like—" Glint sputtered.

"I must reiterate that they do, in fact, have heads," Eido insisted in exasperation. "It's their defining feature."

Findings of Eido - 27

The Findings of Eido, Scribe of House Light, Regarding the Beings Known as the Headless Ones (Cont'd)

"It seems that the overarching theme of The Hall Between was 'transgression.' It was a time when social strictures were lifted, and Humans were permitted to cross the boundaries of nature and society.

It appears that most Humans used this license to contact their ancestors, similar to the Vanguard's severance rituals aboard the Leviathan. However, it is entirely possible that more adventurous practitioners used the power of the pumpkins to create entirely new beings: the Headless Ones.

I'm grateful to Glint for conclusively proving the existence of these reclusive creatures. However, my subsequent research with the Guardian leads me to challenge his conclusions regarding their origins. This debate is likely to continue as long as Lightbearers retain their ghoulish taste for the Headless Ones' loot, and their visceral 'candy' innards."