Rhulk, Disciple of the Witness
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|Rhulk, Disciple of the Witness|
The First Disciple
|“||You have served your purpose. All that awaits you now is the gift of death... The darkness beyond your final days.||”|
Rhulk, Disciple of the Witness is the first of the Disciples: extraordinarily powerful Darkness-wielding entities who collectively follow and do the bidding of The Witness. Hailing from the planet Lubrae, he played a prominent role in the creation of the Hive by subjugating the Worms into servitude of the Witness and then facilitating their production in Savathûn's Throne World, all while keeping tabs on the Witch Queen herself from his own Pyramid.
After Savathûn's rebirth in the Light, he was imprisoned within his own Pyramid by a curse of Light placed by the Witch Queen. However, Rhulk would retaliate by bringing the Scorn into her throne world and subsequently taking command of them. He is the final boss of the Vow of the Disciple Raid, where he ultimately met his demise at the hands of Guardians.
- "Mother and the others look at me with concern. Not for my injuries, but for those who suffered at my hands… and they are right to do so. Tearing their bodies to pieces brought only joy. What… am I?"
- — Rhulk's thoughts after his brutal killings.
Rhulk was born to his father Rhelik and mother Vrhuna on the planet Lubrae, a civilization that had been blessed by the Traveler but fell into a military dictatorship after it left. Rhulk lived with his clan of Wanderers in the Wildlands outside of the sole city on the planet that was controlled by The Regime. The Wanderer clans were subject to frequent dangers, including monstrous wildlife that emerged under the Umbral Sun at night and the Stalkers sent by the Regime to hunt and kill the Wanderers who rejected the city's ways. When he was young, Rhulk witnessed his father kill Stalkers who threatened the clan with a brutality fueled by a bloodlust that Rhulk also felt. He confided in his father about their shared rage and was taught to hate the Regime by him, but when the rest of their clan began to shun Rhelik for his brutality he softened, much to Rhulk's disappointment. His father attempted to teach him patience by making Rhulk watch as other Wanderers were killed by a hunting party of Stalkers and holding him back when Rhulk attempted to intervene. Rhulk was enraged and confused by his father's inaction and believed he was betraying his principles and vows to bring down the Regime.
Although the clan only tried to help others in need of assistance and care for the land, the Stalkers continued to pursue them. During one battle several members of the clan were killed, including Fhent and one of Rhulk's clan-uncles. Rhulk fought back against the Stalkers and killed several of them, claiming their supplies and equipment as his own, including a Glaive and Sapphiric Converter. However, Rhelik was captured during the raid by the Stalkers and the rest of the clan, including Rhulk's mother Vrhuna, looked upon him with only concern and fear due to his brutality during the fight. Frustrated by what he perceived as their weakness, that night as the clan danced and sang in tribute to their survival and in honor of the dead, Rhulk ripped apart a pet Yhadt that belonged to some of the clan's children. The clan was horrified, and Rhulk felt powerful in that moment but feared that made him a monster.
A year later, Rhulk was forced to live as an exile from his clan due to his bloodlust being viewed as a liability. While the clan had not been attacked again since that night, Rhulk stalked the area around the artificial Abyss which separated the Wildlands from the Regime's city. He hunted the Stalkers with his new weapon and tools seeking any sign of his father in the hopes of rescuing him and bringing him back alive to the clan. He named his glaive Rheliksward in honor of his mission. Although he killed many Stalkers over that year, he found no sign of his father and felt lost without Rhelik's guidance. His search came to an end when he encountered Rhelik dressed in a Stalker's uniform and was captured by other Stalkers under his command. Infuriated at his father's defection to the Regime, Rhulk believed him to be a coward who sought only survival instead of sticking by his principles.
- "—-The Regime took all that mattered to you… and yet, you blamed your father?—-"
"The Regime never lied about who they were. They were brutal, yes. But honest."
"—-Honesty meant something to you?—-"
"It meant everything."
- — The Witness and Rhulk discuss him joining the Regime.
Rhulk was put on trial in the city for his alleged crimes against the Regime but was spared when Rhelik testified on his behalf and requested that he instead be made to serve as one of the city's Stalkers. This only served to further infuriate Rhulk as he wondered if his father truly cared about their clan and family or if he was only an opportunist who would do or say anything he needed to in order to survive. He swore to himself that he would ensure that Rhelik would die by his hand. However, despite his hatred for his father, Rhulk began to learn more about the city Lubreans and their philosophies. Although he found the government strict in its laws and with power concentrated in the hands of a few, the overcrowded city still had a higher standard of living and comfort than the Wanderers who faced terrible dangers aside from the Stalkers in the Wildlands. He found that the Regime was also honest in its intentions, unlike his father, and his bloodlust was encouraged amongst the Stalkers. They returned his glaive to Rhulk as well, which he renamed to Rheliksbane and took pleasure in how that unnerved his father.
With this new information, Rhulk began to reconsider the conflict between the Regime and Wanderers and realized that both sides' hands were stained with blood, not just the Regime's as his father had always taught him. Rhelik eventually confessed to Rhulk that he was not truly loyal to the Regime. Infuriated by his father's continued lies, the two fought, but Rhelik managed to escape from Rhulk and the City. Pursuing his father, Rhulk tracked him to their clan's last refuge in the Wildlands. He found it abandoned but with numerous important personal items and other supplies left behind. Surmising that the clan had fled quickly after his father's return, Rhulk believed that they would seek shelter near the Abyss.
Rhulk found his former clan hiding near the Abyss, with Rhelik seemingly planning on smuggling the surviving Wanderers into the city through nearby tunnels. Emerging from the forest to confront them, Rhulk noticed that many familiar faces were no longer amongst the clan, although his father, mother Vrhuna, and clan-mother Kheesa remained alive. His father claimed that they had been expecting Rhulk to join them, and the Stalker was torn between killing them and helping them find a new home. Rhelik and Vrhuna both apologized for their wrongs against Rhulk and expressed their love for him. Vrhuna apologized for exiling him, while Rhelik expressed his regret for indoctrinating him into hating the Regime and claimed that all he wanted now was for their clan to live in peace and safety. Rhulk believed he could see the honesty in his eyes and thought that perhaps that was the path to follow, allowing his parents to embrace and comfort him. However, they took that opportunity to shove Rhulk backward into the Abyss. As he fell, Rhulk cursed his naiveté and looked at the faces of his clan, which no longer held regret but only relief at Rhulk's presumed end.
- "Their folly was their intended salvation. Siphoning light from the Sapphiric Sun itself. I use your Luster. Turn their technology against them, like a backfired pistol. After serving them. Protecting them. Fighting for them. Suffering for them. A shattered sky. A planet convulsing. Tearing apart."
- — Rhulk, as he turns the Upended upon Lubrae.
Rhulk survived his fall into the depths of the Abyss, although he was badly wounded by the drop. Surprised by his own survival and by the fact the supposedly endless Abyss had a bottom, Rhulk took in his surroundings and found himself in a swampy ruin filled with darkness. He heard creatures approaching, but as they closed in on him Rhulk heard a voice declaring him unbroken. His wounds healed and he watched a being filled with dark luster approach, melting the encroaching beasts away with its very presence. The being declared that it saw Rhulk's own dark luster and the Lubraean questioned what the being was and how it granted him life. The being declared itself an opportunity and told Rhulk that he was to be and cause ruin. As the voice faded Rhulk saw its dark luster remain behind and noted how similar it was to that of the Umbral Sun. Rheliksbane, which had been sundered in his fall, was repaired as well by the being and enhanced with its energy. Glancing upward, Rhulk saw the Abyssal Bridge that connected the city to the Wildlands and knew his clan had likely made its way into the city by then. Taking with him the dark luster that remained, Rhulk used his glaive to begin climbing the walls of the Abyss back to the surface, determined that this time he would not show weakness and waver from his desires.
Upon reaching the city, Rhulk hunted down his clan and slaughtered them all, including his mother and father, whom he decapitated. He spared not even the children as the citizens of the city watched in horror of his butchery. The forces of the Regime were horrified by the slaughter in the streets of the city and imprisoned Rhulk, stripping him of his glaive and calling for his execution. However, the dark being assisted Rhulk once more in being freed of his chains and he recovered his glaive, now calling it Lubrae's Ruin, and set out to end his people entirely for their abandonment of him. To do so, he utilized the gifts of the Traveler against his people by harnessing the dark luster to reverse the mechanisms of a machine that drew energy from the Sapphiric Sun to power the city. Doing so destroyed the star and began cracking Lubrae apart. Rhulk was the last one alive, and as he stared into the Abyss he reflected in horror upon what he had done. Dropping the glaive and dark luster he had harnessed, Rhulk dropped himself into the now truly endless Abyss to finish the extinction of his species.
- "—-And what do you feel now? Devoid of family. Devoid of The Regime. Devoid of Lubrae. What do you feel here, in our embrace, now that they are gone and you are left? What do you feel, my child?—-"
- — The Witness and Rhulk as he becomes a Disciple.
However, Rhulk once again did not perish by his fall into the Abyss. Instead, he awoke in a state of confusion as the dark being from before spoke to him. Rhulk despaired in his actions and lamented the destruction of Lubrae, torn between blaming himself and the dark being for driving him to his actions. He declared he had been loved and cared for, but the voice questioned who cared for him now. Rhulk answered that there were none left to do so. The voice asked if he still desired to be cared for, but Rhulk could only say he once did. Then the being questioned if he had returned that care, which Rhulk had no answer to. The being then began showing him visions from his past, including when he had first felt disappointment in his father for not fighting the Stalkers, and claimed that he had never been able to return them. Rhulk told the being it had its answer then, but it told him that the answer was not for it, but for Rhulk to embrace.
The being continued to question Rhulk about his past, and Rhulk told it of his parents and clan, whom he dismissed as traitors whom he should have known would betray him as well. As more scenes from his past played out before him, the being claimed it saw a child seeking validation while suffering great loss. It then asked about the shimmering orb that had visited his people, but Rhulk told it that had been long before his time and had left the Lubrae with a divided society in its wake. The being showed him an image of the Traveler, which Rhulk recognized as the shimmering orb from the stories, and he blamed it for providing hope but leaving behind power in the hands of those who desired it but lacked an understanding of what to do with the gifts given. The being forced Rhulk to see once more what he had done to those with that power, and he again lamented his destruction of Lubrae, but the being reassured him he had only done what was needed.
Rhulk was next shown when his clan became fearful of his brutality. The being accused his clan of being disrespectful of his power, while Rhulk thought them weak, although the being noted that he had protected them anyway. As they viewed the rituals around surviving attacks and remembering the dead, Rhulk claimed that loss meant little to the Wanderers due to how often clan members died. The being questioned if he was sure it was not just him who did not feel loss, causing Rhulk to lash out and claim the being did not know what it was talking about. As he watched his younger self rip apart the Yhadt, Rhulk wondered why the being was showing him all this. It claimed that having already experienced it he should have no issue seeing it once more before claiming that Rhulk had always known what he was. Rhulk declared he had known he was a monster then just as he knew it now, however, the being corrected him and claimed he was not a monster but a savior.
After viewing Rhulk being captured by the Regime and his father's betrayal, he was questioned by the being about why he blamed his father instead of the Regime. Rhulk explained that he thought the Regime brutal but honest in its goals in comparison is his lying and cowardly father. The being was fascinated by his answer and how honesty meant everything to Rhulk. It questioned why even then he would still follow the Regime that had killed so many Wanderers and enslaved him, but Rhulk corrected the entity and claimed that the Regime had freed him to be who he always wanted to be. As they grew closer to his family betraying him, Rhulk asked the entity to stop making him relive his past. The entity asked why he would not want to relive his greatest moments. Rhulk protested that great moments usually ended in triumph and not genocide before noting none of this mattered in the end. The being told him this was not the end and that Rhulk was undergoing a metamorphosis that required him to understand and cut away all the things that made him weak and leave behind only what was strong. It explained that it had recreated his world around them to see those weaknesses, like love and regret, and to understand that Rhulk needed now to look back with pride on what he had done as it had led him to them. Rhulk questioned at last what the entity was, and it answered that it was his salvation, his judgment, and soon his Witness.
They watched as Rhulk began his pursuit of his father and clan to the Abyss, and Rhulk reflected that his father had feared him and his bloodlust, which Rhulk decided was a weakness. As they reached his massacre of the clan, Rhulk protested and demanded not to be made to relive this moment. He denounced it all as madness and screamed in horror as he saw Lubrae once more destroyed by his hand. Reaching the end where he plunged into the Abyss, Rhulk was asked by the Witness what he felt now, devoid of family, the Regime, and Lubrae, held in the embrace of the Darkness. Opening his eyes, Rhulk crawled out of a black solution that had been holding him throughout this conversation. Before him, he picked up Lubrae's Ruin and the luster given to him by the Witness, who once more asked him what he felt, to which Rhulk responded "relief".
Uun and the Ahslid
- "You taught me the most precious lesson of irrelevance. Only purpose can be momentous. It is the moment of clarity that freed me from worldly soil. This final gift I withhold from my progeny. It is the most challenging lesson to teach, and I stand in awe of the elegance with which you revealed the truth to me. I cannot do the same without reflection. I have imitated myself all too well, but to imitate you, my Witness, it is the one challenge to which I find myself unworthy."
- — Rhulk, as he remarks his failure of teaching the Ahslid.
Reborn as the First Disciple, Rhulk became the Witness' chosen enforcer and executioner for its wrath; bringing destruction through fire and glaive and leading Pyramids of the Black Fleet to wipe the races uplifted by the Traveler. He would also utilize the Upended to burn all traces of their passing much like his home Lubrae. He would also overseer the induction of new Disciples including that of Nezarec whom he gifted his Glaive. After eons of supplication, however, Rhulk would find himself bereft of purpose and fulfillment in his duty, which he unrelentingly challenges the Witness to be recognized as an equal. Instead, he would constantly debate with his god over his repeated attempts to elevate above his intended station, much to his own sense of self-loathing and inadequacy.
At one point, the Witness endowed him with the task of subjugating a mighty race, that being of the insectoid race of Ahslid, into their servitude. The Witness stated to Rhulk that this opportunity would test his worth in enlightening the Ahslid with the same lessons of irrelevance the latter learned from his master. As a condition, however, Rhulk is tasked to do so without revealing his presence to the Ahsild. Feeling castrated of his favor, Rhulk took the Witness' message to heart and changed his warmongering approach to one of unseen guidance and outreaching subterfuge.
At first, Rhulk stalked the race of Ahslid for fourteen solar years and offered every warrior he met opportunity to prove their worth, only for them to cower in fear and be bled at the tip of his glaive. The disciple would eventually comprehend his master's commandment as a lesson in insight and his own folly of spilling their blood blindly by himself. Instead, the disciple would act in discreet as Rhulk culls key members of the race in secrecy and spread fear and paranoia amongst the Ahslid from his intended violence; creating a generation of their kin that would closely follow Rhulk's philosophies.
In the span of years, the Lubrean fosters this new generation by acting as their unseen guide; presenting opportunity to families lacking it and inducing suffering to those unsullied of it. Amongst the new brood was the youngest foundling Rhulk named Uun, whom the disciple took a particular interest in after their first kill. The Subjugator, seeing himself in the young Ahslid, would uncharacteristically spare him of ostracization from his peers and leave him to grow as a warrior. This experience would cause Rhulk to question the Witness' hand in shaping his own destiny.
Over time, the Ahslid became a race divided between themselves and gripped by paranoia wary of the disciple's machinations. Now indirectly uplifted by Rhulk's guidance and teachings, they build weapons of massive destruction that could destroy their world. Only Uun, now cast in doubt of himself, remained a disappointment to Rhulk who cast him from his graces and into obscurity. At the same time, Rhulk had withheld teaching the insectoid race of irrelevance: the same lesson he himself learned from Lubrae's destruction. Rhulk is left to brood over his inability to teach the Ahslid the most challenging lesson he knew, and thus finds himself unworthy of emulating his idol.
Rhulk ultimately failed in his task, underestimating the Ahslid's capability for destruction which drove them to wipe out all life on their world in atomic fire. Only Uun, whom he once shunned of weakness, would be left tenaciously alive to face the disciple as both his greatest failure and biggest pride. The Ahslid's attempt to challenge Rhulk was ultimately futile, leaving Uun prostrate on the floor near death and begging for Rhulk's name. In a moment of weakness, Rhulk whispers his name to the dying Uun moments before his passing. Despite having failed his task of uplifting the Ahslid, Rhulk would only further appreciate his master's lessons.
- ""There are no pleasantries in the Deep. Only the decaying husks of oversized parasites towering before me. You take me for a fool, believing I am like all else—manipulated by your psychic machinations. But I will not be controlled, for I am wrath.""
- — Rhulk addresses the imprisoned Worms beneath Fundament.
After Rhulk's failure with the Ahslid, the Witness instead sought the Worms for their paracausal connection to Sword Logic, with the Worm Gods imprisoned far beneath the seas of Fundament. Serving as its herald, Rhulk swam deep into the depths of the planet's ocean, to which he was met with the Leviathan acting as the warden of their prison. Despite its repeated warnings to the disciple to turn from Darkness, Rhulk defiantly rebukes the massive creature before proclaiming that he "rise" instead of "drowns" with the Deep. Rhulk then grievously injures it within a millisecond as he held the Leviathan's rib in one hand and pushed aside its maimed body with the other.  The wounded Leviathan could only avert Rhulk's gaze as the disciple places the rib beneath the beast's skull and raises it's head to meet his eye level to address it directly: proclaiming that the Worms it kept beneath belonged to neither it nor the Traveler, but to the Witness only. He drops the discarded rib into the Worm Gods' dwelling with force before announcing his presence, uplifting the sediment of the seabed into a dense cloud from which he emerged before his captive audience.
Upon finding the Worm Gods at the deepest trenches of the planet, Xita, the Nurturing Worm greets the Lubrean disciple only for him to callously scold her for taking him for a manipulatable fool by her psychic machinations. As he fully knew of the Worms' plight and hunger from eons of their imprisonment, Rhulk offers the Worm mother a trade: the survival of her children in exchange for their eternal servitude to the Witness. He also promises sustenance for them in the form of the primitive ancestors of the Krill on Fundament's surface, to be given new purpose as fodder for her spawn to feed upon. Rhulk could only snark as the Worm mother's submission for mercy; holding the rib out for her to grasp with her jaws as they both swam upward from their underwater prison, dragging Xita in tow towards the surface and into her new prison aboard his Pyramid. Rhulk would therefore became respectfully known as the Subjugator to the Worms for his indomitable might and strength.
With the Nuturing Worm kept in his grasp, the Subjugator had Xita imprisoned as a battery to power the Upended with paracausal Sword Logic. From her body, Rhulk created a strain of miniature Worms made of the Worm mother's living segments small enough to be implanted into a host. He would set these so called "larvae" adrift on Fundament's ocean, knowing full well they would reach the shores of the Osmium Court to find their respective sustenance. Soon as the Witness and Rhulk predicted, one of these larvae reached its intended target: the King of the Osmium Court. The dead white larvae spoke to the king of a cataclysm that would result from a Syzygy of Fundament's fifty-two moons (though no such danger actually exists). However, the King's mind would prove to be too feeble to the Witness' whispers and thus drove him to insanity and senility.
From above, Rhulk and the Witness both had their gaze upon the Osmium Kingdom's fall to the Helium Drinkers as they observed the escape of the king's surviving heirs: Aurash, Sathona, and Xi Ro. Knowing that the Traveler hidden amongst Fundament's numerous moons was ready to claim the trio for the Light, the Witness choose to claim them first instead with Sathona being the most promising of the three. Feeding into her fear and pride, the Witness manipulates her desperation into seeking out the remaining Worm Gods down to the depths of Fundament; setting the events which led to the creation of the Hive and the rise of Savathûn and her Hive siblings into apotheosis. Rhulk could only wince in envy at his master's suggestion that the future Witch Queen could one day stand alongside him as a fellow disciple.
Savathûn's Throne World
- "She was a frog in my estimation; small and colorful but toxic to touch. (...) My place is not to understand you, my Witness, but to serve that final goal you see more clearly than I. But now, your gold-leaf parasites call themselves gods and carve out their divine homes. And I am to watch the sniveling frog."
- — Rhulk's disgust at surveying Savathûn.
Rhulk and Savathûn would form an impertinent rivalry in the eons they spend in each other's company; the former being ordered by the Witness to station his Pyramid in Savathûn's newly constructed Throne World to assist the Witch Queen in the production of Worm larvae for the rest of the Hive. At first Rhulk was displeased with this assignment, taking an immediate dislike to Savathûn and wondered whether he was being punished for his prior failure with the Ahslid. The first time Rhulk stepped foot into her realm, the Witch Queen kept her face twisted to betray restrained delight at the Lubrean's arrival. In his messages to the Witness, Rhulk would only scoff at her willfulness to turn a blind eye from the precarity of her current situation: being that she was now living within a prison formed from her own ego and the First Disciple was to be her jailer.
Rhulk would occasionally relay reports to his master voicing his concerns with Savathûn, one of which being that of her peeved reaction to his continued presence in her throne world. The disciple, who was initially elated much to the delight from her indignation, had his suspicions of any ulterior motives that she possessed given her conniving and opportunistic nature, but remained hopeful nonetheless of her growing conviction to their cause. Regardless of her unwilling cooperation, construction of the larvae breeding chambers had commence with the armies of Oryx, the Taken King and Xivu Arath, God of War expected to grow exponentially in short order. Should Savathûn do anything to cross their interests, however, Rhulk would not hesitate to threaten the destruction of her throne world with the Upended.
In a rare moment of reprieve from his duty overseeing the Witch Queen, Rhulk had stepped out of the throne world for the first time in an unknown while. Ever driven to conquer an empire once more, Rhulk chose the ringed world of Kalarahnda, with its yellow haze streaking ruby clouds, as his intended target. The vaulted ring surrounding Kalarahnda was immediately shattered at the Lubrean's hands into a shimmer-like, windblown sand much to his exhilarating glory. His destructive revelry would only be short-lived, however, as an apocalyptic cult called the Polyps of the Longshadow emerged from the shadows in jubilation at the breaking of the vaulted ring. Having divined Rhulk's coming to be the final sign of their ascension, they unleashed their doomsday armaments upon Kalarahnda and scrubbed all life on the planet; stealing the former the purity of their extinction. In a report to the Witness, Rhulk would deduce Kalarahnda's destruction to be the guileful work of Savathûn herself, undermining him of his involvement.
When word of Oryx's death in the Taken War reached Rhulk, the Subjugator observed Savathûn building a palace within her domain as he relayed word of her brother's immediate demise. Having immediately suspected her of playing a role in the Taken King's permanent death, Rhulk nonetheless offers condescending commendation for having outlived Oryx and seizing his secrets of Taking as spoils. Savathûn smugly denies Rhulk any straight answers but the latter warns her that Oryx's death now placed a target on her by the god-slaying Guardians, without the presence of her brother to shelter her in the shadows. She instantly rebukes Rhulk's words having nothing to fear from her exposure, showing no restraint in her expression.
Savathûn would end up betraying Rhulk and the Witness with her attempt to interfere with the latter's transmissions to the Guardians on Io, triggered by the arrival of the Black Fleet. After she hide within the Last City for a year and her subsequent rebirth in the Light, Rhulk would try subduing her with the Upended triggering her throne world's destruction only to have his attempt failed. He was then trapped within his Pyramid, now sunken in the swamps of Miasma and blocked off from the rest of the realm thanks to her usage of the Wellspring. During his imprisonment, Rhulk had summoned the Scorn to the throne world as his army to fight the Witch Queen's new Lucent Hive. This resulted in an ongoing attrition war for the throne world itself, which was further complicated with the addition of the Guardians of the Last City. Rhulk also began conducting experiments with the undead Scorn, making them more powerful with Worm larvae in combination with Hive resonant runes. The cumulation of his work would be The Caretaker, a massive Abomination successfully fused with a worm larva and armed with Pyramid resonant technology.
At one point during Rhulk's detainment, one of the Hive Ghosts had drifted into the Pyramid and encountered the disciple, who was immediately intrigued by its design and function. After a while of talking with it and plotting to pry its shell for secrets of the Traveler, the Ghost would be possessed by someone Rhulk identified as the Adversary (presumably the Traveler itself). The Ghost was destroyed in an blinding explosion of Light and reduced to scrap, denying Rhulk its secrets.
Vow of the Disciple
- "The Witness sees you. Grants you opportunity. And you squander it!"
- — Rhulk's taunt to the Guardians. 
After Savathûn's death at the hands of The Guardian, the Scorn began to invade her fortress en masse and threatened to destroy the Wellspring: the main source of Light distribution across the throne world and of the curse which had kept Rhulk trapped. Instead the Guardians would repeatedly quash their attempts and keep the Wellspring secured from both Scorn and Lucent Hive parties. Fynch would also inform to Ikora Rey and the Vanguard of the curse surrounding the Sunken Pyramid, albeit unaware of the disciple inside it kept from escaping.
Eventually, The Guardian would lead a six-manned raid fireteam to investigate the sunken Pyramid. Mara Sov would warn them of the threat posed by Rhulk only to be cut of by his own whispers greeting the Light bearers and inviting them to enter; cryptically warning them to either "drown in the Deep" or "rise from it".
The Guardians would first approach Acquisition, a vast repository of artifacts taken from Rhulk's past conquests including the rib he took from the Leviathan of Fundament. The Subjugator would then explain that the Witness would see the Light fall and glimpsed of the potential Guardians would possess freed of its chains. Despite opposition by both Scorn and Taken forces marshalled in the structure, the Guardians journeyed deeper into the hull of the Pyramid. They had then glanced upon the Upended in the distance, which Rhulk described as a "triumvirate" of the three core tenants of the Darkness: opportunity, preservation, and salvation.
After observing the Guardians killing The Caretaker, Rhulk would remark that those "defiant" would be subjugated in service of the Final Shape, which was described as an "ailing, endless, void". As they approached the Upended, he then stated that they were resilient yet credulous of themselves. In blindly killing scores of Scorn and Taken, however, the fireteam had aided Rhulk instead in powering the Upended with their bloodshed as its fuel. With the machine reaching full power, Rhulk was prepared to seal the throne world permanently of the Light; leaving both the Guardians and the Lucent Hive to suffer. As a final rebuke, the disciple told the Guardians they were not fit to serve the Witness nor its goals, instead deserved to drown in the Deep.
With the Guardians having reached their destination on top of the Upended, Rhulk emerged from his suspended sarcophagus to personally greet them. Stating that he had no use in them anymore, the Subjugator commenced a climactic battle with his interlopers by dropping his glaive and unleash a massive resonant barrier of Darkness to push them back. The fireteam retaliated in turn by exploiting his attacks to eliminate the barrier, all while Rhulk taunts the fireteam as they fight Scorn and Taken reinforcements. While the barrier is exhausted, Rhulk moved inward to the core of the Upended and challenged the Guardians in person, to which he would toy with the fireteam and even kick them to death on occasion. His composure was only short-lived as they found and then took advantage of four chinks in Rhulk's impervious state, enraging the disciple as he became vulnerable to their attacks. In his final moments, Rhulk could only cry out begging the Witness for forgiveness as his body contorted by his own out-of-control powers, transforming him into what appeared to be a petrified, lifeless tree with gnarled vein-like roots of Darkness growing from it.
The death of the First Disciple held major ramifications throughout the Throne World, the Scorn became driven to a frenzy without his leadership. Wanting control of the now vacant Pyramid on behalf of the Witness, the Scorn made repeated attempts to storm Rhulk's former stronghold but would be eradicated by Guardian fireteams to keep it under Vanguard occupation.
Rhulk's remains would be secured by the Guardians who survived the raid and transported by a Hidden agent named Marco back to The Enclave for study. Traveling en-route on Mars' desert surface, a motor accident caused his Sparrow to crash and grievously injure himself with a broken leg and a punctured lung. The container storing samples of the disciple's corpse lay cracked against a spar of basalt, to which Marco could hear whispers of Rhulk's thoughts echoing from it. From it, black veins snaked through the red dust of the wreckage to approach Marco's position, infecting his wounds with Darkness. They then began to heal his wounded knee as Marco felt himself possessed by the disciple's vestige, fighting it off with what willpower he held before he turned his Sidearm towards the cracked reactor shielding of his broken Sparrow. With one shot, the Sparrow ruptured into a small-scale nuclear blast which killed Marco and destroyed what remained of the First Disciple for good.
For an in-depth description of the battle against Rhulk in the Vow of the Disciple raid, see Dominion
As a Raid boss, Rhulk requires multiple steps in order for the fireteam to even damage him, and can require multiple attempts of this cycle before being defeated. As the players first approach the Upended, Rhulk will appear out of a giant resonant crystal, barring their way and pushing them back by dropping his Lubrae's Ruin glaive, which promptly generates a resonant barrier. In this first section, he will start the battle by creating a large resonant crystal, which will inflict Pervading Darkness upon the Guardians. After it is destroyed, he will still be invulnerable, and hover around the arena, summoning Scorn and Taken reinforcements, taunting the Guardians, as well as launching powerful blasts of force, which the fireteam will have to exploit to eliminate his barrier. After the barrier is exhausted, Rhulk will move to the core of the Upended and challenge to Guardians to fight him in person with a flourish of his glaive, starting the second phase.
In this phase, the Disciple will roam around the arena, and will use three attacks: a charge with his glaive, preceded by a wave telling the direction he'll go, a cross blast of force that will inflict Pervading Darkness, and a short ranged kick to punish players that stand too close. The fireteam will have to exploit the first two attacks to expose four weak spots on his shoulders and hips, without staying too close to him, while also minding the occasional Shadow Thralls that spawn on the platform. Once all four weak spots are destroyed, Rhulk will become vulnerable.
In this phase, the Disciple's body will blacken, spikes will grow along the back of his neck, he will pull out his glaive, and will assume a hunched position with much a faster movement speed. Rhulk can now take damage, with his weak spots being his head and the four previous weak spots that had to be broken, but he will continue to pursue the players, attacking and slashing at them with his glaive, charging, and launching force beams, even in combination with one another. The Guardians should try to damage him as much as possible during this window while attempting to keep at range to avoid his vicious glaive slashes. After a while, Rhulk will become invulnerable again, and kneel down for a few seconds, restoring his barrier and pushing off any Guardians still on his platform, possibly to their deaths. He will then return to the outside of the Upended, and the whole process must be repeated. If he reaches the last tenth of his health, he will inexorably apply Pervading Darkness to the fireteam. The Guardians will have limited time to damage him before the darkness kills them all. Dealing enough damage to Rhulk before all fireteam members' Pervading Darkness debuff reaches 10x will cause him to drop his glaive and be consumed by his own Darkness, calling out to the Witness as he is petrified, marking the end of the encounter and the end of Vow of the Disciple.
Personality and traits
Rhulk is completely devoted to the Witness and despises the Guardians for their usage of Darkness. He is egotistical and arrogant, thinking he is above all who oppose him and even taunts the Guardians while fighting them. It seems that while in the Pyramid, he befriended the worm familiars and the Worm God, being the one who would have to create the worms for Savathûn's Brood. He seems to like experimenting with the worm familiars as well, as in the Acquisition section of the raid, one can see frozen Scorn in containers with worms attached to them. However, these experiments most likely failed. Despite befriending the Worm Familiars, Rhulk seemed to have a low opinion of the Hive, disliking being effectively exiled to Savathûn's Throne World, with Fynch humorously comparing it to babysitting Savathûn, whom Rhulk distrusted greatly.
Even as a young warrior, Rhulk showed disturbing signs of bloodlust and callous brutality, which ultimately caused his own clan and family to fear him. As a Disciple, he was praised by the Witness for these qualities, as they better enabled him to follow the tenets of the Darkness. Most notably and uniquely, Rhulk values honesty immensely, to the point that it meant everything to him, both as a Lubraean and as a Disciple. So much so, in fact, that he could not understand why the military regime on Lubrae was able to be honest about their shortcomings and misdeeds, while his parents had to lie to him about their motivations and actions.
Despite his skills as a warrior, Rhulk appeared to lack the ability to strategically outwit his opponents or plan for future threats, as it was clear he valued only strength and not cunning. Though Rhulk fully expected Savathûn would betray the Witness somehow, and made it clear that if she made any wrong move, he would use the Upended to obliterate her throne world. However, when the betrayal came and Savathûn claimed the Light, not only was he caught flat-footed and trapped inside his own Pyramid, she even found a way to shut off the Upended, leaving Rhulk a completely powerless prisoner until she died. Furthermore, he couldn't foresee the Guardian Raid team using the energies of his own Pyramid against him, which ultimately led to his demise.
- Rhulk's memories are the source of the Glaive weapon class, as The Enigma was crafted by the Relic on Mars from an ancient fragment of a Glaive associated with Rhulk.
- If one looks closely at Rhulk's six glowing "eyes", one can see that his top left eye is a symbol resembling that of the astrological symbol for Eris, while his middle-left eye resembles the split-circle symbol seen on the attire of both Elsie and Ana Bray. The remainder of his eyes resemble eight-pointed starbursts. The significance of these symbols in this context is unknown.
- Rhulk has a very rare chance that if he is forced to melee too many times in quick succession; instead of kicking a too close opponent, to instead quickly bend down and throw a hook punch, seemingly roaring at the opponent afterwards as he stands back up and resuming his normal animations. The punch functions the exact same at the kick gameplay-wise and the roar-like animation he does after the punch doesn't have any voice line attached to it.
- During the Vow of the Disciple Raid, Rhulk takes control of the Guardian's HUD, causing it to display a series of messages in lieu of the typical descriptions of objectives. These messages read as follows:
- Approach, Children…
- Through mud and mire you trudge, seeking that which lies in the bog. Does it drown? Or rise? Perhaps you will decide.
- You Search and Search and Search…
- Listen not to those who supply cautions. It is insulting to you, oh children of Light. Let strength be your guide.
- Truth. Symbolize. Is. Materialize. Everywhere.
- Your eyes are always closed. Do you not see what's right in front of you? Those who fail to see the truth will drown in it.
- You Exhaust Me
- Life is but a pointed game, pointing you in pointless directions towards pointless goals.
- Do Not Disrupt the Caretaker
- SCORN. They eat away at the decay within a shell of. SCORN. Truth exists all around outside the shell of. SCORN.
- You Are Directionless…
- They say purpose questioned is healthy. Perhaps aimlessness does not plague you. Futility, however...
- Nothing More than Meaningless Trinkets
- Did you think you were the observer? Or did you believe you pulled the strings? Now's your chance—with artifacts of fate, you can make them dance.
- Apocalypse is on Your Horizon
- The end is near by your own hand, children. Come, sit beside me before you drown.
- The Upended is alive. You have no more tasks ahead. Lie down and embrace the darkness beyond your final days.
- Approach, Children…
List of appearances
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Lore: Shattered Suns: Tainted
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Lore: Shattered Suns: Untamed
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Lore: Shattered Suns: Endangered
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Lore: Shattered Suns: Nepotistic
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Lore: Shattered Suns: Defiant
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Lore: Shattered Suns: Assaulted
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Lore: Shattered Suns: Lamented
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Lore: Shattered Suns: Liberated
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Lore: Shattered Suns: Provoked
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Lore: Shattered Suns: Isolated
- Bungie (2022/5/24), Destiny 2: Season of the Haunted - Item Description: Nezarec's Whisper
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Armor lore: Resonant Fury Mask
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Armor lore: Resonant Fury Grips
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Armor lore: Resonant Fury Vest
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Armor lore: Resonant Fury Strides
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Armor lore: Resonant Fury Cloak
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Rhulk: "The Creature Known to Some as the Leviathan"
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Armor lore: Resonant Fury Gauntlets
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Armor lore: Resonant Fury Helm
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Armor lore: Resonant Fury Greaves
- Bungie (2015/9/15), Destiny: The Taken King Playstation 4, Activision Blizzard, Grimoire: IV: Syzygy
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Armor lore: Resonant Fury Plate
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Armor lore: Resonant Fury Cowl
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Armor lore: Resonant Fury Gloves
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Armor lore: Resonant Fury Robes
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Armor lore: Resonant Fury Boots
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Armor lore: Resonant Fury Bond
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Lore: Evidence Board — Report: PYRAMID-INSPECT
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Ghost shell lore: Imperious Sun Shell
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Vow of the Disciple: "The Witness Sees You"
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - The Wellspring: First Defense
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - The Wellspring: "A Pretty Hefty Light Curse On It"
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Vow of the Disciple: "A Dark Entity, Unknown In Power"
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Vow of the Disciple: "The Witness... Sees Light Fall"
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Vow of the Disciple: "Opportunity. Preservation. Salvation."
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Vow of the Disciple: "In Service of an Ailing, Endless Void."
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Vow of the Disciple: "This World Will Be Sealed From the Light"
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Vow of the Disciple: "All That Awaits You Now is the Gift of Death"
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Vow of the Disciple: "Witness... Forgive Me!"
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Preservation
- Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Item Description: Gouging Light