The Ballad of Shin Malphur and Dredgen Yor
Is Shin Malphur a hero or a villain?
by Jazzy — 2019.09.05
We’re just in to week three of Season of Opulence and there’s no doubt much, much more to come, but we’ve gotten some conflicting information as to what we should expect. With this season we, unsurprisingly, learned the full truth about Calus’ methods.
The short form is this: Calus was kicked off his planet and sent to die, saw something that couldn’t possibly exist and understood it as the inevitable death of the universe. He proclaimed himself as Herald of this death he calls the “Black Edge”, and set off back into the universe. He traveled to the planets he once ruled as Emperor of the Cabal and selected one from among their population who was best. This chosen one would become his Shadow. A handful of others from that race would be offered a life of Opulence aboard the Leviathan, while the ones not chosen would be consumed by the Leviathan.
To Calus this was a gentler end. Instead of letting them live their lives being jealous of their neighbors and warring with each other for it all to amount to nothing when the Black Edge comes, he ended it swiftly and peacefully, by sucking them into whatever the inside of the Leviathan’s mouth holds. But, even with this new insight of the universe, he held that grudge against Ghaul, he wielded his Shadows over a petty revenge and sent them all to their death in a failed attempt to assassinate Ghaul.
He’s learned from that mistake and has forgiven Ghaul for what he did. Calus now fully believes in simply living the life of Opulence until the end comes and delivering a simple and quick end to any that he can “save”. It should come as no surprise that Calus wants us, the player, to be his Shadow of the Guardian Tribe. But that’s just a part of what he does. He claims a Shadow, he saves a handful, he consumes the rest.
Before Season of Opulence launched we obtained two Narrative Previews. The latter depicted the boss of the Crown of Sorrow raid, Gahlran and how he was born to wear the Crown of Sorrow itself, but the former was more direct. It ends with Calus ordering his Loyalists to “hinder them. Topple them. Teach them pain.” As this is now clearly not just something to do with the raid, it must be something else left to come. Calus wishes for us to see the destruction done and to get it to stop, follow him.
But that’s not the only source of information we have for the future of this season. From the lore book Chronicon and from the Menagerie armor (which features additional Chronicon subentries) we see what the Psions are “predicting” our future to be. I say “predicting” because one entry taken at a glance and you might think it’s a vision of the future seen from the OXA, but taken as a whole you see the truth of these entries — that they’re fabrications by Psions to please Calus.
In short these entries tell of us joining Calus, killing all our past friends, finding new truths to the universe to grow stronger, then die in Calus’s arms as he waits for the Black Edge to take his life as the last living being. But they don’t just say what will happen, they have Psions critiquing the writing styles, they have contradictions with each other and with Calus’s own words, and they have things that just aren’t true.
As an Example of one which just isn’t true at all the Opulent Scholar Robes tell us this story:
MCXIV, forthcoming. Recorded by Underscribe Shipal
Thus did the Shadow of Earth slay the sentience known as Exodus Black.
Among the insurgents of the impudent Sol System there was one called Exodus Black, who was the first in the Sol System to be born into the digital aether. Because she spoke well and was beloved by all, Exodus Black was a hero among the insurgents. So the Shadow of Earth knew what must be done.
Using the knowledge gathered in the Athenaeum, the Shadow ripped Exodus Black from her starship body and, rending her consciousness in half, placed each piece in an Exo body.
When the two came online, Exodus and Black turned quickly upon each other, and each perished by her other half’s hand.
In another, which is not only wrong but also contradicts this previous entry and has a suggested correction to the inaccuracy, we can look at the Opulent Scholar Gloves:
MCXIX, forthcoming. Recorded by Underscribe Shipal
Thus did the Shadow of Earth recommend to the Emperor Calus a Shadow of the Exo.
The Shadow of Earth went to the Emperor and said, “My good and bountiful pater, I am your Shadow of Earth, and my companion Petra Venj is the Shadow of the Awoken. Yet the Awoken trace their distant origins to Earth.”
The Emperor said, “My good Shadow, you are right,” and he cut down Petra Venj where she stood.
Then the Shadow said: “My luxuriant majesty, I meant to increase your Shadows, not decrease them. For as the Awoken hail from Earth but are their own people, so are the ones called the Exo. I wished to nominate to you a Shadow of the Exo.”
The Emperor said, “Ah, now I understand you.”
The Shadow said: “The one I nominate is called Failsafe-0.^ She is a malicious and humorless being, despised by all. She would make a worthy Shadow of the Exo.”
Said the Emperor: “Thus will it be done.”
^ Note to Underscribe Shipal: My own independent research into the Sol System leads me to believe, with weighty certainty, that the ones called Exodus Black and Failsafe are, in fact, the same being. Thus, your supplementals contradict each other. Delete this footnote upon the rectification of this error.
(fun fact both of these are written by the same Psion)
But that’s just contradicting other Psions and, you know, reality, but they don’t stop there. Some Psions say Calus wouldn’t take on a second Shadow of a race, despite the fact that the character in question, Variks, would be the third. After Sekris and Mithrax (remember all fabrication). Meanwhile the Shadow of the Hive, Gahlran, failed, and now Calus is looking for a new Shadow of the Hive. He wants Toland, maybe Eris, despite also being Guardians he feels they can be a good stand-in for the Hive.
Everything you read from the Chronicon should be disregarded.
Calus is readying to continue his crusade as Herald of the Black Edge and he wants us to be by his side the rest of the way. He sees the power we have and he wants it.
Throughout the lore we have mention of Calus not being seen since shortly after the incident with the Black Edge. Since that time he has used stand-in robots and has hidden deep and alone within the Leviathan. There are also several hints that he’s changed. I don’t think Calus is simply a Cabal anymore. Sure the robots are what he used to look like, but whatever he’s become now, I don’t think it will be that.
The idea that Calus is more than he appears to be, that the robotic form we fought in the original Leviathan, the one Guardians go to meet, doesn’t even resemble what Calus is anymore, has been tossed around more than a few times in the lore surrounding him. From random Guardians, to the Drifter, to Sekris, to one of Calus’ own most loyal followers, all wonder what Calus truly is now.
These are two snippets from the Confessions Lore Book:
The robotic facsimiles he manufactures are eerily like him—or like the Calus I remember; I have the surest feeling that his true form is no longer the Emperor I knew. Perhaps he is just a mouth now, smiling, laughing, eating what it fancies…
Without a secret troubling my mind, I’ve neglected this journal. I come back to it today in good humor, moved by my Emperor’s own amusement. A party of the Guardians that Calus entertains have arrived with a set of various squabbling demands—a starship, a precise description of their “Darkness,” a list of stars the Traveler has visited, a treaty with the Cabal empire for the defense of Earth, a chance to see Calus in his true form, repairs to certain weapons that they feel have gone askew, so much and so forth.
— Entry IX
From the Robes of Sekris:
In later days, my disguise could no longer fool him as it fooled others. His skill in designing and modifying mechanized life-forms was unparalleled and he made it clear he knew I was not what I appeared to be. I made it clear that, either way, he would continue to serve. But I think he guessed that my form and my strength are inextricably linked.
And lastly from the Shadow’s Cloak:
The miniscule man dismounted his machine and stared up. I pictured I would relish the moment when his eyes went wide at the sight of my grandeur.
But he didn’t seem to care. He frowned a little. Fascinating.
“Is that you?” he asked, voice echoing upwards at me. “The real you?”
“Yes,” I replied, and the metal around me rattled and shook at my speech. It was the truth. “One of me. Refreshment?”
Calus is a threat to us and there are a few things teased in the Vidoc that have yet to be seen in the game, specifically these things.
These two images both come from the Season of Opulence trailer, the first shows an Ascendant Realm looking location, but instead of within the Dreaming City it’s laying on top of the Leviathan itself. The second shows an Earth location where Cabal can be found and Sparrows can be rode, but in the background of it we also see that the earth is being lifted up into the air by an unseen force, almost as if it’s being consumed by a large ship piloted by an expelled Cabal Emperor.
Originally Season of Opulence was called Penumbra, and was meant to be a Season of secrets. The secrets so far have been the Menagerie weapons, a bunch of fantastic lore, and a couple of Triumphs hidden behind doing certain things within Menagerie. I believe the biggest secret of all is going to involve the first image shared above, the Ascendant Realm Leviathan. As I mentioned previously Calus wanted Toland, the Shattered, to become his new Shadow of the Hive. Of course Toland refused, or rather didn’t appear to Calus, but Toland isn’t just anywhere. Toland is currently without his mortal body and is a floating ball of energy found in the Ascendant Realm, so for Calus to reach out he must’ve reached out there, and I don’t think this was Calus’s first time spelunking in the Ascendant Realm.
I believe Calus will be launching his attack on our planet soon, that he aims to force us into becoming a Shadow, and that we will retaliate. Guardians stand strong together and wont back down for the chance to take on the REAL Emperor Calus. I believe that we will venture deep into the Leviathan, into the Ascendant Realm that lays beneath it, and we will find what the once-Cabal once-Emperor has become and we will kill him there. And the beauty of this retaliation is that even if we were to dethrone another powerful ruler, Calus wouldn’t be truly gone, he would have a Legion of Opulent robo-standins to fill his shoes. To cheer as we lap the Gauntlet, to continue eating and drinking all that he desires, to laugh and laugh and laugh as we slaughter his Loyalists one by one.