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Afterlife: The Proof We Seek?

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Duke Fishron
Nov Member 2019

Duke Fishron

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**SLISKE'S ENDGAME SPOILERS ABOUND**

Introduction

"Can you tell me about the afterlife?"
–The World Guardian to Icthlarin, Nomad's Elegy


Sliske’s Endgame seems to have raised more questions than it answered. What is Saradomin hiding about his past, and why is he particularly concerned about the Dragonkin? What are Sliske’s plans now that he has hidden his soul inside our body, and how much does Jas truly know about him? Where did he hide the Staff of Armadyl? What became of Nomad after Sliske’s death?

And this is not even to mention the many remaining questions we have from prior quests, still unanswered. When will Robert the Strong’s resurrection gambit come into play? Who – or what – was behind the prehistoric abyssal that attempted to use Xenia to wake the elder gods? Why did the figure of Oreb, the sinister stranger, appear in the Grim Underworld to lead us to discover the Tales of Nomad?

I believe all of these question are related; thread will speculate a comprehensive theory as to how we might begin finding answers. This speculation was motivated by one final question, the most pressing of all:

Just how far does the power of the elder gods truly go, and what can we do to prove the value of mortal life to them?

Contents
Page 1.1: Introduction
Page 1.2: The Mistake
Page 1.3: The Mistake (continued)
Page 1.4: Beyond the Elder Gods
Page 1.5: Beyond the Elder Gods (continued)
Page 1.6: The Power of Mortals
Page 1.7: The Power of Mortals (continued)
Page 1.8: The Quest, Part I: Prehistory
Page 1.9: The Quest, Part I: Prehistory (continued)
Page 1.10: The Quest, Part II: Discovery
Page 2.1: The Quest, Part II: Discovery (continued)
Page 2.2: The Quest, Part III: Nomad
Page 2.3: The Quest, Part III: Nomad (continued)
Page 2.4: Conclusion
Page 2.5: Epilogue: The First Step
Page 2.6: Epilogue: The First Step (continued)
Page 2.7: Reserved
Page 2.8: Reserved
Page 2.9: Reserved
Page 2.10: Reserved

23-Dec-2016 06:50:56 - Last edited on 24-Dec-2016 04:30:33 by Duke Fishron

Duke Fishron
Nov Member 2019

Duke Fishron

Posts: 646Steel Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
The Mistake

“When we die, our crystals remain, yet the rest rots away. It is likely, then, to be our source of power, our long life. It may even be the substance that denies us an afterlife.”
–Wahisietel, Children of Mah


Jas teaches us many things in our conversation with her. We learn of the last four elder artefacts, bringing the grand total to twelve. We learn that – for some reason – Sliske was acting as her agent. But we also learn about Jas herself, and her kind, indirectly – through what knowledge we (and Zaros) offer to her. Of importance for the rest of this speculation is anything Jas knows about life.

Jas confirms that the creation of life from nothing is a necessary, perhaps sufficient, condition for being an elder god. She dismisses the nihil and Nex as “shadows”, “whispers”, and “false life”, and she tells Zaros it is impossible for him to create true life. From this we know that Jas has some awareness of the existence of the nihil. The extent of her knowledge is unknown: perhaps she knows of them enough to know they are not true life, or perhaps the simple fact that Zaros created them affirms to her that they are mere shadows.

What other life is Jas knowledgeable on? To Jas, Zaros and Seren are nothing but children of Mah (though she cryptically acknowledges that Seren “could be more.”) The young gods are harmless, and the elder gods “are.” Clearly she also knows something about Sliske, as he calls him her “agent” and demands to know about his “end.”

23-Dec-2016 06:51:25 - Last edited on 24-Dec-2016 04:30:04 by Duke Fishron

Duke Fishron
Nov Member 2019

Duke Fishron

Posts: 646Steel Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
There is more. “Mortal life is unexpected,” she says, and when we ask her why it exists, she doesn’t know: “You should not exist.” The concepts of race, war, peace, love, and hope are meaningless to her. The dragonkin are “angry”, “violent”, and “an error.”

I believe Jas’s words here are particular. Mortal life is unexpected, but the dragonkin are an error. Recall that the dragonkin – who cannot reproduce – have the natural ability to travel between dimensions. Created in the previous cycle, they hid in the Abyss during the last Great Revision, reappearing afterwards to appeal to Jas. She enslaved them instead, to her stone (more on this later). While we do not know for certain, I believe this all points to the dragonkin being the intentional creation of the elder gods. Their error, perhaps, was the autonomy and intelligence they granted the kin. Compare to the TokHaar, life created by the elder gods for the current cycle: the TokHaar are significantly less independent. I believe the TokHaar are the result of the elder gods learning from the mistake of the dragonkin.

That being established, we have quite the collection of life to examine. On one hand: mortal life. On the other: Zaros and Seren, the TokHaar, the Dreams of Mah, the dragonkin, the ascended gods, and the elder gods. What do the latter groups all have in common? The first is that they cannot reproduce. However, this has been violated on two or three occasions, pending more information on Adrasteia. The second commonality, that remains unviolated except for a big question mark above the dragonkin, is that they do not have afterlives.

23-Dec-2016 06:51:48

Duke Fishron
Nov Member 2019

Duke Fishron

Posts: 646Steel Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
Beyond the Elder Gods

“Each person has their own beliefs of where they should end up and that is where they go.”
–Icthlarin, Nomad’s Elegy


Jas is certainly aware of something like death. While she is unfamiliar with war, she understands our meaning when we describe it as large numbers of people killing each other: “You destroy yourselves.” She acknowledges that Sliske has “ended”, though she does not use the word death. And most interestingly, when addressing the Catalyst, she says that she has sacrificed her future. This suggests that she understands the idea of something ceasing to be. But does she understand any more than this?

The mouthpieces we encounter in Heart of Stone say nothing to point to knowledge of afterlife. The only specific life they are aware of beyond Xenia and the World Guardian are the TokHaar and the TzHaar. The Submerged Statue off the coast of Entrana knows of destruction, but says little more. The TokHaar are a collective, reborn through the lava of the Elder Kiln. They have no knowledge of death or afterlife, either.

The intentional creations of the elder gods have no afterlife. What little we hear from the elder gods themselves does nothing to suggest they know of such a thing. The ascended gods, whose power can always be traced back to either the elder gods or their artefacts, have no afterlife. Mortal life is a mystery to them, a mistake, an unknown.

23-Dec-2016 06:52:07 - Last edited on 24-Dec-2016 04:29:51 by Duke Fishron

Duke Fishron
Nov Member 2019

Duke Fishron

Posts: 646Steel Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
Could it be that the afterlife is beyond the reach of the elder gods? I think all evidence points to the answer being yes. If the elder gods know nothing of afterlife, how could it be of their creation? Nothing they do requires the existence of life after death; nothing they do even requires death in the mortal sense of the word. And as we know, to ascend to godhood – to allow the power of the elder gods to enter your body – is to give up life after death.

The afterlife is uniquely mortal; it is rife with mortal design. Icthlarin tells us in Nomad’s Elegy that the dead are led to an afterlife in accordance to how they lived their lives. In many cases, this comes down to religious practice, or the god whose creed one devotes their life to. The Grim Underworld houses Gielinor’s afterlife, to which most souls cross when their lives end. The Fremennik are an exception. As they remember that Gielinor is not their true home, they cross to the afterlife of Teragard, the homeworld of humans. Several other races speak of their own afterlives, each different and each appropriate to the race.

23-Dec-2016 06:52:33

Duke Fishron
Nov Member 2019

Duke Fishron

Posts: 646Steel Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
The Power of Mortals

“I have harnessed the power of all the souls in the underworld. Each life, each death, mine. Can you even comprehend that power? I can change the destiny of Gielinor with that power.”
–Nomad, Nomad’s Elegy


The next question we must ask, if we allow that the afterlife is beyond the scope of the elder gods, is a question of potential. What does this mean? What can it mean?

We have a great appreciation for the power souls after our experience with Nomad and Kindred Spirits, and the underworld is uniquely rife with them. In fact, Nomad’s Elegy provides an uncanny glimpse at what we may have to look forward to. Nomad harnesses the power of souls to create Gielinor, a god under the control of mortals. He claims that his construct is mortals’ chance to combat the gods that have invaded the world. Though his madness and cruelty undo him, his point now carries much more meaning to us. We have been tasked by Jas to do the seemingly impossible. We must prove that mortals deserve to exist, to supposedly all-powerful beings. What could we possibly do to prove this?

23-Dec-2016 06:52:58 - Last edited on 24-Dec-2016 04:29:40 by Duke Fishron

Duke Fishron
Nov Member 2019

Duke Fishron

Posts: 646Steel Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
Perhaps we could make a case that mortals have a unique ability: the innate ability to harness the power of the soul. It is our unique power of creation: through the strength of our souls, we can create afterlife. Not quite the same thing as creating something from nothing, to be sure, but it is a form of immortality unique to mortals. There is little we know of life in the previous cycle – the dragonkin are all that remain – but it stands to reason that mortal life is unique to the current cycle, given the elders’ unfamiliarity. For this reason, we can’t be sure that mortal afterlives don’t transcend even the Great Revision. This is something that can only be said of the Abyss (and of course the perfect world of the cycle, though it doesn’t exactly survive unscathed).

When viewed like this, the afterlife – the harnessed power of souls – is indeed a great power. Great, even when compared to the works of the elder gods themselves. This, then, seems like something of importance to our new mission, something we can work off of.

But where might it take us?

23-Dec-2016 06:53:11

Duke Fishron
Nov Member 2019

Duke Fishron

Posts: 646Steel Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
The Quest, Part I: Prehistory

“I met an ancient creature, with centuries of knowledge. It told me about other worlds that were destroyed by ancient, god-like beings.”
–Xenia, after Nomad’s Elegy


In order to form a coherent argument in front of the elder gods, we’ll surely need more to go on. We’ll need to understand the nature of the afterlife, the nature of the mortal soul itself. The knowledge we require, should it truly transcend even the knowledge of the elder gods, necessarily goes beyond the working knowledge of Icthlarin and Death, though they may be of immediate help. We must delve deeper.

Firstly, we may want to know a little about the pre-history of the afterlife, as strange as the phrase may seem. Our access to the elder gods themselves is… limited at best. The brief conversations we’ve had with their mouthpieces don’t show much promise. The TokHaar have little concept of death themselves. Though the bookcase translated by TzHaar-Ga’al-Kot suggests the TokHaar have only experience with this cycle, we don’t know for certain. Perhaps they know a little of the previous cycle.

This leaves us with three avenues to explore, though each is undesirable to say the least: the Abyss, Freneskae, and the dragonkin. Xenia speaks of a prehistoric being in the Abyss that guided her actions during Heart of Stone. Perhaps this, or some other secrets hidden there, may be of some use to us in learning about previous cycles. Zaros describes the Abyss as lying at the bottom of the universe; essentially, it the trash heap of creation. It’s reasonable to suspect, since imperfect worlds are discarded to the Abyss, the afterlives would follow them, if the elder gods have control over such a thing. One way or another, we would surely be learning something of prehistory by exploring the Abyss (whatever there is to explore).

23-Dec-2016 06:53:39 - Last edited on 24-Dec-2016 04:29:28 by Duke Fishron

Duke Fishron
Nov Member 2019

Duke Fishron

Posts: 646Steel Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
Freneskae is the only remaining world from the previous cycle. Though it remains a violent scar of its former self thanks to losing all of its Anima, there may yet be traces remaining of the planet’s past. Any knowledge we might gain from Freneskae would precede even Zaros and Seren, so we’d have to forge ahead on our own to discover any secrets hidden by the storms and volcanos.

Compared to Freneskae and the Abyss, the dragonkin are actually a fairly straightforward way to learn about the previous iteration of the universe. After all, these are living, primary sources! Unfortunately, the dragonkin have not been the friendliest of creatures to us in the past. With their curse seemingly broken, it’s unknown what exactly they’ll be up to now. Perhaps they still seek vengeance on False Users as retribution. Presumably Kerapac continues to work towards curing his race’s infertility. Saradomin is notably quite concerned about the dragonkin before and after the destruction of the Stone. As one of two or three known remaining False Users, this isn’t exactly a surprise, but perhaps he does know more than he lets on.

I think any path towards proving our worth to the elder gods must involve the dragonkin. The two groups of beings are too closely related, and the kin truly are our best source of knowledge on prehistory.

23-Dec-2016 06:54:03

Duke Fishron
Nov Member 2019

Duke Fishron

Posts: 646Steel Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
The Quest, Part II: Discovery

“With the magisters in place, my people prospered, and entered a glorious age of enlightenment.”
–Saradomin


The second part of our journey must involve discovering more about the nature of the afterlife and of the soul. On this quest we are surely to encounter many trials, new and old, and on these we have some strong leads.

Sliske has siphoned his soul into us using the Staff of Armadyl, whose whereabouts we do not know. It’s likely, given our blackout while talking to Relomia after Sliske’s “death”, that he took over our minds long enough to hide the staff somewhere only he knows. Regardless, Sliske possesses knowledge of souls enough to perform such an act, and essentially escape the fate of the rest of his nonmortal brethren: escaping death. We can’t be sure of Sliske’s motives now – perhaps he simply wants to be able to be entertained for all eternity – but it’s safe to assume he will be important in our quest eventually. We may even require the Staff of Armadyl for its power to move souls, or we may need to purify our own soul; in these cases, a confrontation with Sliske is all but inevitable.

But don’t forget, Sliske did not attain all this knowledge on souls by himself. In Kindred Spirits, we discover his plans to make us compatible with each other so that the soul transfer can succeed. He gets this idea from a book we find, The Divine Delusion. This book presents a scientific theory of the soul, including a speculation that the strength of one’s soul comes from the breadth and depth of one’s experiences. This strongly suggests that the World Guardian, the most experienced of all mortals, is uniquely suited to the task of fully discovering the power of the soul.

23-Dec-2016 06:54:18 - Last edited on 24-Dec-2016 04:29:17 by Duke Fishron

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