In the story of Destiny, characters grow and evolve as their personal story develops. They stay true to their nature during their changes, but the stresses of such a violent and uncertain existence makes drastic life choices inevitable. These kinds of choices go far beyond what profession to pursue; These are the kinds of choices that alter the course of history as a whole.
Such is the life of Uldren Sov, brother of Queen Mara Sov and Prince of the Vestian Throne. The Book “The Forsaken Prince”, tells the story of Uldren in the events that lead up to just before the opening of the game’s third expansion, “Forsaken”. In part 1, we learned about how Uldren and his buddy and master sniper Jolyon talked about getting into the Black Garden and were able to utilize Cabal artillery fire to take down the Gate Lord guarding the threshold, allowing them to enter. In part 2, we pick back up with the Crows having just entered the Garden, and not entirely sure of what to make of it all.
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In the Garden
Having found themselves now within the Black Garden, there is a definite undertone of disbelief in the entry, “In the Garden”. Things appear normal on the surface, but upon closer inspection don’t make a lot of sense. There is rain coming down, but…not exactly from the sky? One thing is for certain, which is that in here, in the Garden, everything GROWS. Even Uldren’s fingernails are growing at a visible rate. They agree that they need to keep moving, and attempt to scale up a chasm. Jolyon grips some vines to haul himself up, but…
They try to coil around his wrist. Tiny teeth shaped like letters saw at his skin. He stares at them, starts to say something, and jerks his arm away.
The entire scene is bizarre. In the Garden, everything grows at an accelerated rate. Being that this is a Vex construct, we can assume that they are using it for some purpose. But also we know that almost everything that the Vex do is rooted in some kind of digital simulation to be analyzed for future use. This digital existence is then reinforced when Uldren and Jolyon investigate their surroundings just beyond their superficial surface.
They move down the length of the chasm, green mist swirling overhead, ankle-deep in a wet compost of flower petals and rich black soil. Wide, flat beetles with arching horns wrestle in the earth. Uldren flips one on its back. The beetle has no interior: seen from below, it is just a hollow shell. Jolyon pulls up a fern, and its roots are the branching metallic threads of a circuit board. Tiny squirming things shaped like wet microchips mill in the exposed soil.
The life here isn’t even real. This entire existence is a simulation. Uldren is absolutely consumed with awe at this moment, and runs forth gleefully in search of…something. Anything, really. Anything that may finally earn him that treasured praise from his sister that he desires oh so deeply.
On the Hunt
In the following entry, On The Hunt, the Crows discover that they are not alone. They begin tracking a lost Cabal Legionary through the garden of flower fields. The fact that a Cabal is even in here enrages Uldren. How dare they bring their petty war to this sacred ground!
As they continue to track, the red flowers give way to low grasses and the wind…
The wind whispers… soft words, sentences with just the beginnings of syntax, the cadence almost musical. “Brain stain,” Jolyon whispers, fearing infection by a contagious idea. “We should…” But his voice trails off as Uldren pushes ahead, down into a low vale, slipping easily through tangled undergrowth. Vex.
This should not come to a surprise in the least that Vex would be here. But what is surprising is their current state
There are Vex here, dozens of Goblins and Minotaurs, still as statues and covered in moss, in a ring like some robotic henge. They are singing in faint, wraithlike notes of inhuman clarity. Uldren knows what this place must be.
At this point, the Crows have caught up with the Cabal Legionary and have a brief exchange. As it turns out, the unnamed Cabal was actually captured by the Vex and brought to this place against his will. All the while, Uldren notices subtle differences in the wind’s whispers. They are now trying to simulate the Cabal’s language and grammar, trying to see which language is the optimal for communication. When Uldren asks the Cabal what the Vex are doing here, he informs Uldren that they’re PRAYING. How does he know this?
“Oh, frum the seeds, ser,” the Legionary says. “Do yeh see them?” And without hesitation or second thought, he punches the emergency medic release on his helmet. The pressure seal breaks and a ring of black gel sprays out, hissing…
Beneath the layer of gel, the whole surface of his skull has the pitted texture of a strawberry. Thousands of tiny seeds glisten in the Cabal’s flesh. Uldren brushes the skin in fascination.
Clearly, this place has secrets. Lots of them. Jolyon starts to freak out a bit, but Uldren accepts this as a logical response. But still, Uldren can’t help but wonder what type of treasure he may be able to pull from this place, that would ultimately earn him that just-out-of-reach prize of Mara’s praise.
After the Heart, Parts 1 & 2
The next two entries, After the Heart – Parts 1 & 2, describe the events that happen once Uldren returns back to his sister, Queen of the Awoken, Mara Sov. He presents her with a simple gift, stating that he has gone picking flowers.
“Asphodelia is its name.” He kneels and offers it to his sister. “It grew only in the Black Garden… until today. We will plant it here, in our dominion, where I know it will take root and flourish. It will remind the people of our twin heritage.”
Yes, Uldren has picked one of the flowers from the Black Garden and presented that to Mara as his prized gift. This is it! This is his moment! Finally! There is no way that Mara CAN NOT be impressed! He took initiative, ventured into forbidden territory, came back alive and with a magnificent trophy! But…
For a terrible moment, Mara is unreadable. Then she smiles and beckons. “Our brother has attained the Black Garden and returned to us. Come forward.” She peels a single petal from the flower and lays it across her fingertip. Holds it up to the light. “Magnificent. Illyn, see to it.”
Okayyyyy, Uldren was hoping that Mara would tend to it herself rather than passing the task to one of her subordinates. But what is even more shocking is the last line of part 1:
Afterward, in private, she is silent and still. He tells her everything he remembers. “Did you see the heart?” she asks, softly.
This thoroughly confuses Uldren for a moment, because let’s be honest: He has just witnessed all sorts of clandestine images. But then, his memories begin to blend in ways that simply do not make sense. He remembers things like fruit, that appeared heavy and shaped like Ghosts, a female Cabal in a bathtub scrubbing herself with a wire brush, nothing that makes an ounce of sense like how all good dream states operate.
Mara gets impatient as Uldren begins describing, hypothesizing what the Garden could be. She repreats her question. His reply continues to be conjecture:
“Whatever the heart of that place is,” he says, pacing, “it’s a seed, I think, a seed left behind to grow. Like a… a node of Glimmer. Or…” The idea strikes him as a thunderbolt. “Or a tripwire. Bait to attract those who seek out and destroy what they don’t understand.”
Bait for Guardians. Bait to mark some milestone in the Traveler’s recovery.
As one can imagine, Mara is none too happy with what Uldren has done. They have a tense exchange, with Mara demanding to know if Uldren is devoted to her (he is), and if so then why does he defy her. This is the part that Uldren doesn’t fully understand, because in his mind, how could you possibly love something that never surprises you? And to surprise Mara has been his goal the entire journey thus far.
In the next entry, Jolyon, Uldren finally catches up with his sniper buddy for the first after returning from the Garden. It is unclear how much time has passed, but it is clear that it has been a significant amount. When Jolyon asks why Uldren has not been at the range, Uldren kind of drifts off in thought. In truth, Uldren has been….dreaming. Dreaming, and recording his dreams.
Poring feverishly through the Origin Libraries, searching for confirmation of what his heart wants so desperately to be true. The future of the Awoken could lie in that Garden.
Uldren desperately wants to learn how he can leverage the secrets of the Garden to help elevate the status of the Awoken, and to ensure their survival. He also wonders if there is deeper meaning to the Garden…
What if the Garden is the Traveler’s antithesis? What if the Awoken can find in that Garden a new place of balance, an equipotential between the darkness and the light? As the light brightens the shadows deepen—
Uldren suddenly snaps out of it when he realizes that Jolyon has continued the conversation without him. They agree that what they really need to do is talk about what they experienced in the Garden, which I am sure would be emotionally beneficial for both of them. But also, Uldren realizes that while Jolyon is a heck of a Crow, this wasn’t a covert ops mission. Jolyon will be recording what they saw and experienced while in the Garden. At this given moment, it seems that Uldren isn’t sure what to think of that.
Jolyon then asks if Uldren will finally make an appearance at the range the following day, but Uldren claims to have work to do. In truth, Uldren is already getting lost in his own little daydream…
He is already trying to imagine how Mara would react if he tries to turn the Oracle Engine on the Garden. The things he might learn… the things she will surely want to know…
And THAT concludes the video! If you enjoyed this video, please let me know and drop a like. If you would like to support this channel but can’t think of anything to leave as a comment, write the word, “Devotion”, since this is what Uldren is trying to prove to his sister despite how utterly backwards he is going about it. Be sure to hit that subscribe button if you want to hear more lore explained in this fashion and keep up to date with my regular podcast, Videogame Crosstalk, the monthly podcast of gamers talking Tech, Science, and whatever else comes to mind. Until then, I’ll see you in the Tower!