The Ballad of Shin Malphur and Dredgen Yor
Is Shin Malphur a hero or a villain?
by Jazzy — 2019.09.05
The TWAB this week announced the first piece of Season of Opulence content, surprisingly it was the name and date of the raid and season, even more surprisingly they’re on the same day just hours apart!
Season of Opulence, originally named Penumbra, will be the final instalment of the Annual Pass content. Penumbra was meant to be a content drop filled with secrets, only locations and themes were teased until recently, showing off scenery clearly from the Leviathan, but with its final shipping name it was clear who we would be consorting with: Emperor Calus.
Calus was the once Emperor of the Cabal race, which included more than just the Cabal and Psions that we see in-game, but was overthrown by one of his most trusted allies (and even his daughter) when he desired to free all of the enslaved races. The Ghost Primus, Ghaul, staged a coup and with the help of others was able to force Calus onto the Leviathan and to leave their planet.1 Calus couldn’t simply be killed for he was seen as a God to the people, and though Ghaul wished to replace Calus, killing him would only further divide the people.
Under Ghaul’s leadership the Cabal went through a drastic societal change. The jovial Calus believed that he should represent all that the Cabal wish to be. Fat with strength, riches upon riches, lavishly clothed in only the finest and eating and drinking anything which is sweet and good. Ghaul couldn’t be any more different from the old Emperor. He built the Cabal into a more strict military. Though they were once strong proud people who could no doubt conquer any planet, Ghaul beat their wills into a more brutish form. From finesse and skill of taking over, to that of total warfare.
Calus mourns the loss of his true Cabal, even the Loyalists who followed him onto the Leviathan are a little better than that which Ghaul has created.
Which brings us to my first suggestion of the name of the raid. The raid will be called Crown of Sorrow, immediately people will see Sorrow and think it must mean the Weapons of Sorrow or perhaps the Books of Sorrow, and it might just mean that, but don’t let one possibility cloud the others.
We’ve had one raid and two raid Lairs on the Leviathan, the first being called the Leviathan, the second Eater of Worlds (another name for the Leviathan, specifically its insides), and lastly the Spire of Stars. All three of these titles can arguably be associated with the location in which the activity takes place, so why wouldn’t the Crown of Sorrow fit the same naming scheme? There’s much to the Leviathan that we haven’t seen, and a location named the Crown of Sorrow, a place named for Calus’ remembrance of his once great people, fits easily and snugly.
Assuming that the name would be a location however doesn’t give much insight at all to what we would be facing. Penumbra is a DLC of secrets, it could be we find a new race aboard the Leviathan to stand as a prologue for the upcoming story of Destiny, but most likely it would be some form of an invasion, from the most likely: the Red Legion, to the less likely: Fallen and Vex, or even Hive, like some people are thinking.
Keeping with the location being the namesake of the Raid there is one theory that has been going around. The Leviathan is eating, or at least was eating, the centaur planetoid Nessus. Nessus is one of the few locations on which we have the confidence to say that SIVA exists, thanks to the Exodus Black having crashed there. It could have laid dormant this whole time, only to be consumed by the Leviathan, but does that mean it was destroyed? Recently we rendezvoused with an unlikely ally, Mithrax of House Light, who helped us repel a House of Devils attack on the Old Tower, and they weren’t there for just any reason. They were there to steal SIVA from a Cryptarch Vault.
Could the Devils have sniffed out another source of SIVA, now on the Leviathan itself? Calus has history with the Eliksni through Sekris, Baron of Shanks, so perhaps the Devils know about Calus already. Many of them no doubt were on Nessus while they were still aligned with House Dusk and were just able to see the ship in orbit.
It could also be that there isn’t an invasion at all on the Leviathan, but that Calus is just finally at the decision point of his time in our system. Normally when Calus enters a system or the Orbit of a planet he threatens the entire planet with death. One lucky survivor, the best among them, gets to enlist as one of Calus’ Shadows. In the case of the Sindu pilot, Jarus, his battalion of Ace-Defiant pilots were all wiped out except for him, judged best among them, he was “saved” by Calus and became a Shadow. Though the choice was not his to make.2 Calus has been put in a tough place and doesn’t know which of the Guardians should be his Shadow. A Warlock, a Titan, a Hunter — all three have proven themselves worthy, but only one could be chosen. Calus himself might be the threat emerging from the Crown of Sorrow.
But the last possibility I’ll suggest is also the least likely, in my opinion. To believe this theory is to build one theory on the backbone of another which might not have any ground to stand on in the first place. There’s an issue with Calus, in that we have no idea if anyone has actually met him. Sure we have this history of events that he tells us or that we learn from his past Shadows, but what does that actually mean? They could have been misled just as we were, and he could simply omit anything he wants left unknown. When we first encounter Calus and defeat him we find it’s not actually Calus but a stand-in robot. Upon defeat he congratulates us on our accomplishment and allows us to take some victory prizes in a secret room filled with more of his machines.
When we first enter the Leviathan we see statues of a large Cabal, when we delve deeper we find more and more of the statues, we even find a statue of just a head in the Pleasure Gardens. When we reach the Throne Room we see him, the Cabal the statues were made in the image of, and as we fight him everyone gets taken away to a Psionic projection Realm which has his Head floating and attempting to kill you. All this is meant to show you who Calus is over and over, forcing you to have a vivid picture of him in your mind, and yet we never see the real him. Even his past Shadows could have been fooled, all except for the Baron of Shanks, Sekris, who was said to see through his disguise.3 If Calus isn’t what he seems then what is he? Or rather, who is he?
This wouldn’t be a Destiny theory if we didn’t mention Savathûn as somehow being responsible for everything we see, and what if Calus is just that. What if Calus is an ancient masquerading figure who dethroned whomever was Emperor before him only to destroy the civilization of the Cabal? Could Crown of Sorrow reveal to us the Truth of Calus? That he is nothing but an idea given shape? Personally I don’t actually think so, but what is a little concerning is that one of those who dethroned him, Umun‘arath, shared a similar name to one Hive entity, Xivu Arath. Could Calus be just as he seems, though paranoid, and Umun be the one hiding in plain sight?
If Umun were to truly be Xivu the Cabal would make the perfect place for her to go, as a Hive God of war. The question is though, if she is Xivu why would she hide instead of just wage war with her Hive? Without the Hive beneath her offering up their Tithes Xivu would have a difficult time keeping her Worm fed, however, Oryx being the First Navigator came to our system directly through travel, Savathûn indirectly through trickery, how would Xivu enter if not by conquest like the Cabal did? The whole idea of Xivu makes little sense while at the same time having some chance at actually being the case so it’s hard to prove or deny it.
In any case the Crown of Sorrow will soon be tackled by the Guardians, the first to win the race will win the glory that such a feat deserves. Whatever we face on the Leviathan, Hive or SIVA, the Red Legion or Calus, something entirely new or just someone new thinking there’s something to gain on the Eater of Worlds, I’m sure it will be one hell of a fight.