Sword Logic

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The Hive Cleaver, signature weapon and illustration of the Sword Logic

"The sword binds wielder to victim. It binds life to death."
Toland, the Shattered[1][2]

The Sword Logic, also known as the Bladed Path[3] is a supernaturally thanatological study of the Darkness which serves as the guiding religious principle of the Hive and the Worms. It is closely related to the winnowing philosophy of the Witness, although it may be viewed as an interpretation rather than necessarily synonymous with it. Most information regarding the Sword Logic comes from the Hive religious texts known as the Books of Sorrow,[4] the scriptures of Dredgen Yor,[5] and scattered pieces of arcana from Toland's journal.[1]

Overview

"Here is what is taught to the Hive, from the basest of Thralls newly made: that what can be destroyed, must be destroyed. What cannot be destroyed will surpass infinity. Therefore, is it not best to destroy?"
— Savathûn, the Witch Queen[6]

The Sword Logic acts as both a philosophy and a metaphysical system through which one may gain paracausal powers. It is the antithesis to the philosophy of the Light, the Bomb Logic, which compared to the Sword Logic's simplicity is based on complexity.

The central tenet of the Sword Logic is that "existence is the struggle to exist," and that any entity - whether a life-form or a fundamental aspect of nature - which cannot protect itself against defeat should rightfully be destroyed by a more powerful entity. In the context of intelligent beings, the Logic promotes as its ultimate goal the establishment of a systematic, self-proving civilizational structure which can survive until the end of time (and possibly beyond),[7][8] an end-state often referred to as the "Last True Shape".[9][10]

In following the principles of the Sword Logic, a being not only demonstrates its ability to survive in the face of existential challenges, but also acquires paracausal power; this is known as "becoming sharp." The ultimate expression of this power is the ability to access the Ascendant Realm, which allows one to create a Throne World and thus survive death in the "real" universe. All power derived from the Sword Logic must be taken by force, not received as a gift, else it be rendered weak and "untrue".[11]

The Sword Logic is the foundation of the entire Hive civilization[7] and its hierarchy.[12] Every Hive must prove itself to become greater,[13][14] or risk annihilation.[15][16] This holds true for every Hive, from the tiny Thrall to the Ascendant Hive god-kings, including Oryx and his sisters. Even the Worm Gods are not exempt, as evidenced by Oryx slaying Akka to gain an audience with the Darkness itself.[11] As a byproduct of the pact made with the Worm Gods, when a Hive grows stronger from the killing of lesser life-forms and those which follow the dictates of the Light and the Darkness, so does its internal worm's lust for killing, meaning that unless it is fed enough the worm will eventually consume its host.[16][17]

The Leviathan knew of the Sword Logic, and claimed that it led to ruin for all who followed its path;[18] in contrast the Darkness (and Toland[9]) claim that it is a beautiful thing,[19] majestic and noble, and that all life should abide by it as the self-proving reason for existence.[19] However, it unsurprisingly has a corrosive effect on the psyche of the practitioner,[20] eventually rendering them into an entirely different creature that would horrify themselves if they could view it objectively.[21] For example, after untold millennia of practicing the sword logic, the emotions of love and hate gradually became indistinguishable to the Hive, and the same may have happened to joy and sorrow.[22] Indeed, even Savathûn, who convinced Oryx originally to find the Worms, expresses doubt as to the validity of their crusade.[23]

Although the Sword Logic is treated by the Hive as a central commandment of the Darkness, a somewhat cryptic statement by Savathûn seems to suggest that the Sword Logic is only one of many ways of achieving the will of the Darkness, and that she herself specifically chose the Sword Logic as the Hive's guiding principle because she knew that it would ensure the Hive's future supremacy.[24]

Application

"You are no longer bound by causal closure. Your will defeats law. Kill a hundred of your children with a long blade, Auryx, and observe the change in the blade. Observe how the universe shrinks from you in terror."
Yul, the Honest Worm[25]

The Sword Logic serves as a methodology to how individual Hive grow in power. In essence, by killing their enemies, the Hive prove that they are stronger than that enemy, and through the Sword Logic gain that strength in reality. When Oryx killed Xivu Arath in his throne world, he proved he was mightier than her; when Oryx killed Savathûn there, he proved he was more cunning than her. [26] Having proved that he was stronger than both, Oryx had demonstrated logically that he was strong enough to take on the Worm God Akka, and by killing Akka, Oryx proved he was strong enough to commune with the Darkness directly, as the Worms did.[11][25]

Repeated application of the sword logic causes the wielder to gradually become "self-defining" and "sharp": both no longer bound by physical laws and capable of outright violating them at will. It is existence asserted by violence.[27] Both the Hive and the Worm Gods, for example, achieve faster-than-light travel by using their sharpness to cut wounds in space, which they pass through.[25][28] Due to paracausal entities being "beyond" the normal laws of physics, they are impossible for the Vex's otherwise-perfect simulations to model.[21]

Tribute system

Hive Killing-Logic Feeding Worms Artificially evolve Tithe 1 Tithe 2 Tithe 3
Thrall Gain "tribute" through killing. Take enough to feed their internal worm. Take enough to "grow" themselves. Tithe the rest. N/A N/A
Acolyte Gain "tribute" through killing. Take enough to feed their internal worm. Take enough to grow themselves. Take the tithe of the Thrall they lead. Tithe the rest. N/A
Knight/Wizard Gain "tribute" through devastation. Take enough to feed their internal worm. Take enough to grow themselves. Take the tithe from the followers they command. Take as much as they dared for themselves personally without getting killed. Tithe the rest.
Ogre[note 1] Kill for their master[29] Kill to assuage its pain[30] Kill to become "Reborn"[31][32] N/A N/A N/A
Ascendant Hive Gain "tribute" through devastation. Take enough to feed their internal worm. Take enough to grow themselves. Take the tithe from their legions. Take as much as they dare without incurring the wrath of the God-King. Tithe the rest.
Hive God Gain "tribute" through the devastation of entire civilizations or through acts that represent them (like cunning, war, navigating or vengeance). [26] Take enough to feed their internal worm. Take enough to continually grow. Take the tithe from their spawn and broods. Use whatever they wished. Tithe the rest to the Worm Gods
Taken N/A N/A N/A N/A Everything to their master, having been freed from the rest of the Tribute system. N/A
Worm God N/A Be fed through their hosts.[13] Grow. Tithe to the Witness.[33] N/A N/A

Using the table above we might be able to construct the tribute system the Hive use,[7][13] with allowances made for those excluded.[14][15] Those who have grown enough from their cunning or strength without being killed will ascend to the next artificial stage of the Hive evolution.[12] If they do not feed their worm the Hive organism will be devoured from within by its own worm for lack of tribute.[16][17] The Worm Gods receive their tithe directly from the Hive triumvirate.[13]

The only thing unaffected by the system are the Taken, as they are bound to the will of their master until he falls.[4] However, the worms of Taken Hive do still need to be fed.[34] Should their master fall, the Taken are left directionless.[4]

Heresies

"What could possibly qualify as heretical for the Hive?"
"Something about... resurrection?
"
Zavala and Ghost.

Resurrection in general is seen as heretical by the Hive who follow the Sword Logic. To the Hive, death is necessary to attaining apotheosis, as one can only grow stronger after defeating an opponent. If the slain were to be resurrected, it would nullify the power obtained through vanquishing them.

However, it should be noted that the rules of death are somewhat different to the Hive than what they are to humans. This is most notably exemplified by the concept of Ascendance: those Hive individuals who have grown powerful enough through the Sword Logic can move between the physical dimension and the Ascendant Plane and carve out a "throne world" there, so that when they are killed in the "real" world, they may retreat to their throne world and return after a time. Only a death that occurs in one's own throne world is a true, final death in terms of the Hive. It appears that dying in another's throne world is reversible, as illustrated in the Books of Sorrow, where Oryx resurrects his sisters having killed them both within his throne world.[13] It is likely this was possible because the sisters had already established their own throne worlds.[35] Furthermore, the manner in which Oryx brings his sisters back is very particular - he does it by defining their nature through acts of war and cunning. At another point Xivu Arath calls him back from the Deep (where she and Savathûn have trapped him) in a similar manner, through describing him,[36] and millennia later Savathûn summons Xivu Arath to Torobatl through an act of "war and blood".[37] Another example of a Hive dying in another's throne world and then coming back is Ir Yût, the Deathsinger; being one of the bosses of the raid Crota's End, she dies in his throne world but can be later seen attending Crota's ritual of passing in the mission Last Rites. Crota's mate Omnigul is also notable for returning after having been killed by Guardians, but it can be a hint towards her being an Ascendant Hive. All those instances are not truly "resurrection" in terms of the Hive, therefore not being contradictory to the Sword Logic.

Accepting power bestowed by more powerful beings is also a violation of the Logic; to obtain power, one must take it by force. As such, Nokris, who learned the secrets of necromancy from Xol, was branded a heretic, exiled from his kind and condemned to obscurity as his father removed nearly all traces of his name.[38][39]

A potentially ruinous oversight of the tithing system set up by Oryx directly disobeys the Sword Logic. As stated in his dialogue with Akka, the Worm of Secrets, to have something be given instead of taken by force violates one of the core pillars of the Deep. Seeing as the desolation wrought by lesser Hive warriors is willingly given to those who are higher in the hierarchy, the method used to prevent their worms from consuming them may actually directly oppose the philosophy on which their civilisation has been founded.

After the deaths of Oryx and Crota at the hands of Light-bearing Guardians, more Hive had chosen to go against the Sword Logic for the sake of survival,[40] turning to the ritualistic taboos of necromancy like Nokris before and even forming their own tithing system like Savathûn, who created the concept of Imbaru as an alternative means to gain tribute through acts of cunning and deception.[41] Even the surviving daughters of Crota committed their own heresy by remaking Zulmak, Instrument of Torment into a Hive abomination infused with the essence of Nightmares.[42] With the arrival of the Pyramids, Eris Morn surmised the Hive committing more empowered or self-destructive sorcery out of desperation in an future arms race for the Witness and its gifts.[43]

Despite being seen as a heretical sect, the Hive of the Lucent Brood still conduct the Sword Logic even if they had become blessed by the Traveler's Light. In one of these instances, a Knight battled a Lightbearer Wizard in which both would continue to kill each other, invoking "existence is worthiness, That which cannot defend itself must die. This is the one true shape. Aiat," restating the Sword Logic's first tenet.[44]

Relations to other races

Worms

As revealed by Ahsa to Deputy-Commander Sloane, the Worm Gods originated as members of a "proto-Worm" species that lived on the planet Fundament, who became corrupted by the Witness' philosophy and began slaughtering one another in order to achieve ascendancy through the Sword Logic.[45]

Vex

The Vex first learned of the Sword Logic when Crota accidentally cut open a portal into one of their sealed dimensions.[46] At first they were confused, their models and projections clashing horribly with the physics[1] of Oryx's throneworld. In response, they manifested Quria, Blade Transform, who quickly deduced the source of the Hive's power[47] and organized a series of test invasions in a plan to bootstrap itself to godhood according to the Hive's own rules.[47][48]

Cabal

"The capture of Hive leadership might yield vital strategic intelligence, including weapons or tactics capable of defeating Guardians permanently."
Ghost Fragment: Cabal 4[49]

Cabal Emperor Calus knew of the story of Oryx and his species through a device called the OXA Machine, and of their fall to the Worm gods.[50], though he loathes the Hive as simple pretenders and their Sword Logic as an excuse to escape the inevitability of death after having spoke with the Witness personally.

The Martian Cabal Legions have little to no experience with the Sword Logic, having never engaged with the Hive in protracted combat except once on the Moon[51] and knowing that the Hive had weapons or tactics which effectively neutralized Guardian resurrection.[49] Once the Skyburners Legion set foot upon the Dreadnaught they became beholden to the Sword Logic[1] but showed no indication that they recognized any differences to conventional physics.

Scorn

The Baron of the Scorn known as Hiraks, the Mindbender has dedicated himself to understanding and harnessing the Sword Logic and other Hive secrets. After the death of Cayde-6, he has apparently been successful in carving out his own Throne World in the Ascendant Plane, and has the ability to sway lesser Hive creatures to follow his whims.[52]

The Guardians

In order to defeat Oryx for good (and by extension Crota, though unwittingly), the Guardians tapped into the power of the Sword Logic, as even Light was forced to obey it within the bounds of his throne world.[1][53] However, in defiance of the Sword Logic's edicts, the Guardians did not claim their enemy's power. This infuriated Toland as he saw the raid team which killed Oryx and his Court leave without taking his place, leaving his power open to be seized by another, and meaning all that he had worked for was for nothing.[53]

The Taken

"I am Oryx, the Taken King. And I have the power to take life and make it my own."
— Oryx declaring his power after his first audience with the Darkness.[11]

The process of creating Taken transforms a victim into a more perfect form, closer to the desired end-state of obeying the Sword Logic.[54] As Taken are not known to obey the conventional Hive hierarchy and tribute system, it may be that their new forms have rendered those systems unnecessary.

Notes

  1. ^ Ogres are an anomaly in the Tribute system. They are Thrall mutated into killing machines but instead kill for different reasons other than to feed their worm.

Trivia

  • The philosophy of the Sword Logic is similar to that of Social Darwinism, in which the concept of "survival of the fittest", interpreted as an imperative for "the strong" to overcome "the weak", is paramount in all aspects of life.
  • The Sword Logic is also very similar to the "might makes right" aphorism, which has several meanings. One is that a ruling elite determines what society views as right and wrong. Another is that whomever "labels what they think is good for [themselves] as right, only those who are able to defeat their enemies can push their idea of what is right into fruition".[55]
  • According to William Montague,[56] Kraterocracy (Gr. κρατερός, or krateros, meaning "strong") is a form of government ruled by those strong enough to have seized the reins of power through might or cunning.[57] This is similar to how the Worms introduce Sword Logic to Auryx.[7]

List of appearances

References

  1. ^ a b c d e Bungie (2014/12/9), Destiny: Grimoire: Ascendant Sword
  2. ^ Bungie (2015/9/15), Destiny: The Taken King, Item Description: Dreadfang
  3. ^ Bungie (2023/5/26), Destiny 2: Season of the Deep, Ghosts of the Deep: Second Memory
  4. ^ a b c Bungie (2015/9/15), Destiny: The Taken King PlayStation 4, Activision Blizzard
  5. ^ Bungie (2020/6/9), Destiny 2: Season of Arrivals, Playstation 4, Lore:The Singular Exegete - UNBORN
  6. ^ (2023/3/10),Destiny 2: Lightfall, Inspiral - A Sword, an Edge
  7. ^ a b c d Bungie (2015/9/15), Destiny: The Taken King PlayStation 4, Activision Blizzard, Grimoire: XVII: The Weakness Verse
  8. ^ reddit, The Sword Logic and its implications - General Battuta, Books of Sorrow Grimoire writer
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  10. ^ Bungie (2015/9/15), Destiny: The Taken King PlayStation 4, Activision Blizzard, Grimoire: XXX: a golden amputation
  11. ^ a b c d Bungie (2015/9/15), Destiny: The Taken King PlayStation 4, Activision Blizzard, Grimoire: XXVIII: King of Shapes
  12. ^ a b Bungie (2015/9/15), Destiny: The Taken King PlayStation 4, Activision Blizzard, Grimoire: XX: Hive
  13. ^ a b c d e Bungie (2015/9/15), Destiny: The Taken King Playstation 4, Activision Blizzard, Grimoire: XXIX: Carved in Ruin
  14. ^ a b Bungie (2015/9/15), Destiny: The Taken King PlayStation 4, Activision Blizzard, Grimoire: The Taken: Acolyte
  15. ^ a b Bungie (2015/9/15), Destiny: The Taken King PlayStation 4, Activision Blizzard, Grimoire: The Taken: Knight
  16. ^ a b c Bungie (2015/9/15), Destiny: The Taken King PlayStation 4, Activision Blizzard, Grimoire: XXIV: THE SCREAM
  17. ^ a b Bungie (2015/9/15), Destiny: The Taken King PlayStation 4, Activision Blizzard, Grimoire: IX: The Bargain
  18. ^ Bungie (2015/9/15), Destiny: The Taken King PlayStation 4, Activision Blizzard, Grimoire: VIII: Leviathan
  19. ^ a b Bungie (2015/9/15), Destiny: The Taken King PlayStation 4, Activision Blizzard, Grimoire: XXXII: Majestic. Majestic
  20. ^ Bungie (2015/9/15), Destiny: The Taken King PlayStation 4, Activision Blizzard, Grimoire: XXXIII: When do monsters have dreams
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  24. ^ https://www.reddit.com/r/DestinyLore/comments/11ozam5/lightfall_spoilers_root_of_nightmares_full_lore/
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  33. ^ Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Armor lore: Resonant Fury Helm
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  35. ^ Bungie (2015/9/15), Destiny: The Taken King PlayStation 4, Activision Blizzard, Grimoire: XXII: The High War
  36. ^ Bungie (2015/9/15), Destiny: The Taken King PlayStation 4, Activision Blizzard, Grimoire: XXXV: This Love Is War
  37. ^ Bungie (2021/2/9), Destiny 2: Season of the Chosen, Playstation 4, Activision Blizzard, Empress
  38. ^ Bungie (2018/8/5), Destiny 2: Warmind Playstation 4, Activision Blizzard, Wormgod Caress
  39. ^ Bungie (2018/8/5), Destiny 2: Warmind Playstation 4, Activision Blizzard, Verity's Brow
  40. ^ Bungie (2019/10/29), Destiny 2: Shadowkeep, Item Description: Apostate
  41. ^ Bungie (2018/8/29), Destiny 2: Forsaken, Activision Blizzard, Lore: Thank you
  42. ^ Bungie (2019/10/29), Destiny 2: Shadowkeep, Item Description: Heretic
  43. ^ Bungie (2020/10/6), Destiny 2: Season of Arrivals, Lore: CONTACT
  44. ^ Bungie (2023/8/22), Destiny 2: Season of the Witch, Hexed Shell Lore
  45. ^ Bungie (2023/05/23), Destiny 2: Season of the Deep - Item Description: Síocháin's Scuba Shell
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  50. ^ Cabal Booklet, "Ghaul, The Dominus", ("Let me tell you a story from the OXA Machine. Once upon a time, a small people lived on a dangerous world. By nature they were petty and fearful. But they strove to be better, and together they overcame their fear.
    Unto these people came a king, who said, "We are surrounded by enemies, we are weak and frail. But I have an answer. Eat these larvae, my people, and with their strength we will rise up." Whenever anyone protested the king, the king said, "Are you working with our enemies? No? Then why are you afraid of our strength?"
    Thus the king led the great people into slavery to their fear."
    )
  51. ^ Bungie (2014/9/9), Destiny: Playstation 4, Activision Blizzard, First Light
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  56. ^ Wikipedia, William Pepperell Montague
  57. ^ Dictionary of Philosophy, Kratocracy