Touch of Malice
Your actions reverberate through the Darkness. I can hear it howl. I can hear its pain. Oryx is undone, truly. Finally, the Ascendant Realm is quiet, and the Hive are now without a King. Only you, Guardian. Only you could have done such as this.
We have found the powerful relics of which Toland’s Journal speaks of, relics taken from the Ascendant Hive, the Blade of Famine, the Shroud of Ir Anuk and most importantly the Ravenous Heart from Oryx himself. The relics contain the secrets of the Hive, their darkest power, their oldest Hunger, components to be assembled, components that will forge a weapon that can turn the Hive’s deathly maw upon itself.
Dare we build such a weapon, a weapon bound to malice, a weapon that will have consequence. Remember guardians, the Hive had choice, and now so do we.
Welcome back Guardians, today we are going to discuss the lore surrounding the exotic scout rifle, “Touch of Malice”, we will talk about the significance of calcified fragments, how Oryx lives on through the weapon and lastly why Eris decide to create Touch of Malice for Guardians. This is myelin games and I hope you enjoy this latest Destiny Lore episode.
A pivotal step to create Touch of Malice involves collecting calcified fragments, even though we are not 100% what they exactly are. The item description reads,
“The fragment hums with Taken energy and burns to the touch. Eris may know how to safely dispose of it.”
The fragments appear to hold some Taken energy and other in-game descriptions make it seem that they are still active influencing those who hold them. Your ghost says,
“The fragments’ temperature have dropped steadily since we picked them up. They’re starting to strain my containment field. You, ah, might want to put a rush on this delivery.”
Furthermore, Eris seems to suggest in the Touch of Malice grimoire card that the calcified fragments may actually contain worms. It reads,
“When I behold the interiority of these cold, cold fragments, I see blind, squirming creatures. Every wound they give, they fell also upon themselves. Every bite they tear from the light only deepens, never fills, the raging emptiness behind their terrible mouths.”
However, this sentence from Eris may be more metaphoric than literal. Somehow, presumably because of her time in the Hellmouth, Eris Morn is able to extract information from the Calcified Fragments, which in turn become verses from the Book of Sorrows, the story of the Hive, a story about the bargain with the worms. In addition, it appears that Eris learns more about the Calcified Fragments by seeking out “Morgath, the Lore-Keeper”. Eris actually tasks us with finding Morgath within the Black Garden to further her understanding of the fragments. The quest reads,
“The Hive… were not always as they are. They were once… something else. These fragments speak of that past. Morgath, Lore keeper will know more.”- Eris Morn.
When Eris says “I behold the interiority of these cold, cold fragments, I see blind, squirming creatures”, it could be a reference to just understanding the Book of Sorrows and the bargain with the worms rather than literally seeing worms inside the fragments.
Whilst we may not know for certain what lies within Calcified Fragments, we do know, that if Ghost Fragments tell the history of Guardians, Calcified Fragments tell the history of the Hive. Ghost Fragments are left behind by fallen guardians, so who the question is who left behind the calcified fragments?
In the Book of Sorrows, Verse 5:9 I’ll Make sure, it confirms that Oryx created the Book of Sorrows. The verse reads,
“I have made preparations. If I am defeated I know it will be because my understanding of the universe was incomplete. If I am defeated, I know that I will fall to something mighty. Something that craves might, something that loves what I love, which is the Deep, a principle and a power. So I will prepare a book, which is a map to a weapon. And my vanquisher will read that book, seeking the weapon, and the come to understand me, where I have been and where I was going. And then they will take up my weapon, and they will use it, the will use that weapon, which is all that I am.”
I believe that this grimoire card suggests that Oryx strategically planted the Calcified Fragments, that calcified fragments containing verses from the Book of Sorrows were part of the preparations that he made, a backup plan in case he was defeated. Often to collect a fragment Guardians must show their might by destroying a powerful ascendant Hive or they must show cunning by solving one of the many mysteries of the Dreadnaught. I also believe this was part of Oryx’s plan, that only those like him, those who loves what he loves, those who crave might and power could discover these fragments and uncover the story of the Hive.
I believe that collecting the calcified fragments was only the first half of the test and Oryx also created relics which he hid within the most powerful ascendant Hive, the Blade of Famine within the Warpriest, the Shroud of Ir Anuk within the Deathsinger and the Ravenous Heart within himself. Toland’s journal refers to these items as keys, it reads,
“The Famine, the Feeding… and always the Deathsinger’s shroud covers all… these are the keys. These are the keys…”- Toland’s Journal.
I interpret this as the final test, a being who had collected the calcified fragments and now understood the Book of Sorrows, understood the ancient knowledge of the Hive, knowledge of the Worms, knowledge of the Deep, knowledge of the Sword Logic, would then have to apply this knowledge in one final test, kill the Hive leadership, including Oryx.
Oryx knew that if someone was able to do this, they had the traits necessary to take the throne and replace him, continuing his conquest of the universe. Touch of Malice is only available in Oryx’s defeat, however many believe that Oryx lives on through the weapon.
In the Book of Sorrows, Verse 5:9, it reads
“And armed thus with my past, and my future, and my present (which is a weapon, a weapon that takes whatever is available, a weapon bound to malice), they will mantle me, Oryx, the Taken King. They will become me and I will become them, each of us defeating the other, correcting the other, alloying ourselves into one omnipotent philosophy. Thus I will live forever. I’ll make sure.”
Many would argue that this card reinforces that Oryx is not dead and lives on, however I believe this card does not literally mean Oryx is still alive. Firstly, the card says, “they will mantle me, Oryx, the Taken King”. The definition of mantle is “an important role or responsibility that passes from one person to another.” So in this case, Oryx’s role is passing from him to someone else, someone who will continue with his conquest.
Secondly, the card says that we will merge with one another to create an “omnipotent philosophy”. Omnipotent means to have great power and influence. I believe this means that whoever wields Touch of Malice will uphold Oryx’s philosophy, Oryx does not live forever, his philosophy lives forever.
But what exactly is Oryx’s philosophy? The Book of Sorrows, introduces the philosophy in Verse 1:9 The Bargain. This is where Oryx (formerly Aurash) makes the bargain with the Worm Yul. Yul says, “Take into your bodies our children, our newborn larvae. From them you shall obtain eternal life. From them you shall gain power over your own fragile flesh: the power to make of it as you will. And should you find an imperfection in the world, an injustice or an inconvenience- you will have the power to repair it. Let no mere law bind you.”
This is when the philosophy starts, a conquest to create the perfect universe. Oryx believes that to build a perfect universe you must snuff out any imperfection. In Verse 2:9- Crusaders, one of the Worm Gods says,
“Their golden age was a cancer. They did nothing to advance the cause of life! They burnt up time and matter and thought on this solipsistic, onanistic pursuit of safety, insulating themselves from death, making a regressive pocket of useless stability. When they could have helped whittle the universe towards its final, perfect form!”
As you can see, the Hive philosophy is not about building cities and safety, it is about whittling the universe to its final perfect form by eliminating imperfections. The Hive uphold this philosophy through application of sword logic; The gain power through killing and the act of killing proves that they are part of the final form of the universe.
Interestingly, this philosophy is not uniquely Hive, this is the philosophy of the Deep/Darkness that was forced upon the Hive though their symbiosis with the Worms. Oryx had to adhere to this way of living in order to feed his worm. Even though this was not uniquely Oryx’s, in his defeat, he still wanted this system to live on and this is more likely a reflection of the influence of the Darkness and how the cosmic battle between the Light and the Darkness must continue.
To emphasize this point, some may argue that certain Guardians have potentially switched sides and now agree with the philosophy of Darkness, Toland is a name that comes to mind. The Oryx defeated grimoire card illustrates this,
“Dwell a moment on the weight of what you’ve done. Contemplate the story you just ended. Will you ever do anything that screams down the millennia? Will you ever hammer your will on the universe until it rings and rings and rings? Oryx was an awesome power. Show reverence. All right. Enough. Enough. A vacancy has opened, hasn’t it? How interesting. How very interesting. Do you ever pause, dear listener, to consider who benefits from all this heroism you commit? Do you ever look around you and feel the faintest chill? As if you are the tiny little ball bearing placed beneath a great mass, so that it might, if pushed, begin to roll? You’re a god yourself, now. You’ve consecrated yourself. Emulate me. Use your power to learn. There are worse things to practice being.”
The mechanics of using the Touch of Malice mimics that of a worm, it drains your light making your more powerful, however you can also feed it by killing others. Touch of Malice essentially acts like an artificial worm, it encourages the wielder to uphold the Philosophy of the Darkness, just like Oryx was forced to uphold the same philosophy when he sided with the worms.
If this is the case, why would Eris make such a weapon for us, a weapon that continues the work of the Darkness, surely she understood the consequences of making Touch of Malice? I believe she did understand the consequences, or more accurately she understood the risks involved and I think Eris Morn aimed to create the weapon differently than Oryx intended. She says this,
“Osiris speaks of Darkness as undisciplined chaos, that knows only destruction… Toland speaks of a bargain… Pujari writes that the Black Garden grows in both directions… How to reconcile these teachings with the fragments?”- Eris Morn.
I also believe that Eris has faith that Guardians can resist the influence of the Darkness when wielding the weapon. After creating Touch of Malice, Eris leaves us with these final words,
“Take it Guardian, and remember that they had a choice… and now so do we.”
This implies that we still have control over our destiny and can choose how to use the weapon.
Whilst this may be true, I do think Eris also created Touch of Malice for more selfish reasons, vengeance. This is very well supported with item description of Touch of Malice,
“Let them feel every lash, every curse, every touch of malice that they first dealt to me.” Eris created the touch of Malice to reflect back all the pain onto the Hive.
Eris’s lust for revenge is reinforced in many mission dialogues, for example
“My dreams will be filled with the sound of their wails as they died and fell at your feet.” –Eris, “A single day on the moon was an eternity of torment. Let them know my pain.” –Eris.
Ironically though, as we gather more calcified fragments and Eris Morn learns more about the Hive, she becomes arguably empathic towards them. The exotic mission dialogue reads,
“Guardian, long have I thought that no creature has suffered as I have. But now these fragments and relics have shown me my match…in my own enemy.” —Eris Morn.
There is one last reason to why I think Eris agreed to make Touch of Malice and that is because she sensed a powerful enemy. The Touch of Malice grimoire card reads,
“Here am I, with the power to craft from my enemy’s darkest secrets a weapon that could wound them at their core! The voices are as loud as ever. My nightmares just as bitter. My coal-black hatred burns as hot. But I feel something else now. Could it be… No! I refuse it. I will build this weapon.”
You will notice that Eris’s whispers previously subsided with the defeat of Oryx, however now they have returned, as loud as ever and Eris says “I feel something else now”. This something else, I believe this is either another Hive God, the Vex, possibly the Queen of Reef, for those who have watched my “Taken Guardian video” this will make sense, or maybe this was reference to Malok. This was the main reason Eris made Touch of Malice, she sensed the return of a powerful being and needed to prepare guardians, deciding that they must harness the power of the Darkness to even have a chance at competing with this new threat.
The burden of wielding Touch of Malice should not be taken lightly and be sure to remind yourself guardian, that you always have a choice. Oryx, who was once Aurash, heir to the Osmian Throne, was presented with certain death and the extinction of his entire species, Oryx choose survival and sided with worms and the Deep.
Thank you for watching and I hope you enjoyed this latest Destiny lore episode. If you would like to support the channel and cannot think of a comment, leave the word, “choices” in acknowledgement of the decisions guardians must now make. This myelin games, peace.