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Of breaking and reforging

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Aloy,

You once said that although you had been told the historical facts, you did not truly know what it was like. And you were right. The horrors committed by Sun-King Jiran, 13th of the radiant line, my father, are indescribable. Yet we must attempt to describe them nevertheless. This we are obliged to do, in memory of the victims of my father's reign and their surviving relatives.

Thus, we have written accounts and physical memorials of those cruelly murdered in the Sun-Ring and during the Red Raids. The Sun Priests pray at their altars, scholars memorise their names. They must not be forgotten. The lessons we learned since, of friendship and peace, must be taught to every generation to come, so the tragedy may never repeat itself.

But the tale is fraught with suffering, both the agony of those who were sacrificed and the horror of those forced to watch. So we recount it as concisely as possible, to shield ourselves from the pain. We omit what we consider inessential and gloss over the most terrible events. We distort the truth to avoid reliving the cruelest period in our known history.

Perhaps you were not aware of this, or did not mean to refer to it, but you rightly discerned the problem. With all our lessons and our wisdom we have failed to share what is truly important.

This is my attempt to rectify this absence.

 

A shadow loomed over the land and its people. It was a time of chaos and great uncertainty.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

I remember the halcyon days before the Derangement, the days of my childhood. My memories of it have faded like glyphs touched by time, partly illegible, yet the passages that remain hold all the more value and beauty, unique relics of a distant but glorious past.

In our memories the Sun always shines. One fragment paints a picture of children playing with brightly coloured flags in the maizelands. Most are blue, red, yellow, but there are occasional tinges of purple and green. Hovering in the sky or perching on the wooden fences is a flock of Glinthawks that came to steal the farmers' tools. The children are running towards them, waving their flags, and with a great clamour the machines spread their wings and again take flight. In small groups, parents, servants or guards stand to the side, making small talk. I am watching from the palace balcony. The children and their flags are only tiny splashes of colour, but their shouts of delight carry far.

My mother is beside me. I ask her to make me a flag and to let me play with the other children. She strokes my hair, tells me that father disapproves of us associating with lowborn children, but she promises to weave and dye flags for my brother and me. Then, if a machine ever comes to the palace, Kadaman and I can chase it off. The flags were beautiful, but we never had the chance to use them. Only once have the Glinthawks come, called to the palace by Dervahl's lure. By then it was already too late for flags to be of any help.

When the Mountain that Fell - you referred to it as GAIA Prime - exploded, I was seven years old. The blast was heard all the way from Sunfall to Daytower, a menacing thunder foreboding the horrors ahead. Some mistook it for the ending of the world. In hindsight they were not far off. The world had been on the verge of falling apart. As a final, desperate solution to keep the shadow at bay, she who had created our world made the ultimate sacrifice and dying saved the world through you. But we did not yet know of GAIA, of Elisabet, or of Aloy.

Heralds came and went unceasingly in the palace, bearing messages from citizens concerned about the explosion. My father ordered both scholars and Sun Priests to work day and night to discover its cause. Mere days later the messages reported machines attacking, wounding, sometimes killing hunters instead of fleeing as they used to. Most scholars speculated that the machines had turned aggressive because we had been hunting them more than usual. The Sun Priests, together with my father, believed that their anger was caused by the Sun's displeasure. Had not the Sun destroyed a mountain to demonstrate its power? Had we not been neglecting our duties as its chosen people? We had become weak, impure. Our flaws needed to be burned away in the light that lifted every shadow.

One day, a child was mutilated by a Glinthawk in the maizelands near Meridian. Instead of flying away it had charged at the girl, its sharp talons first tearing through her flag, then her flesh. She was a daughter of one of the nobles frequenting the palace, one or two years older than I was. I knew her well. She died of her wounds the next day despite the care of the best healers in the city. Her guards were executed for neglecting their duty, but that did not bring my friend back.

Panic spread through the Sundom. No more children played on the fields. Nobles who could afford to remain indoors locked themselves in, sent servants on errands instead of going themselves. Even inside their own houses they were afraid. My mother would not let us walk around the palace without supervision.

I do not know my father's thoughts or convictions during those early years. I never thought to ask and he never shared them with me. Kadaman was four years older, the firstborn and thus my father's successor, he was the one my father involved in politics and courtly affairs. All I am able to recall is that the Derangement was constantly on my father's mind. Kadaman told me that he became indifferent about other problems. Nothing mattered save finding a solution to the machines' aggression.

Before the Derangement, my father was a proud and strong-willed man. His word was the will of the Sun, was the law. Even then he was quick to perceive any sleights and act on them without mercy. He had already ordered executions that you would call cruel, and you would be right. But as a child under ten I was not required to watch. My mother was adamant about this. All I knew was that my father called them the Sun's justice. Sometimes, afterwards, I would find Kadaman weeping.

In the spring of that year the Sawtooth appeared, first of the new machines. Its bloodthirsty rage was considered definitive proof of the Sun's anger. Any attempts to persuade my father otherwise were doomed to fail. He ordered the first sacrifices to be held at noon in the Sun-Ring, with all of Meridian present. There was no protest, there were no dissenting voices. Executions of criminals were not unusual. They would be brought to death anyway. That it might stop the machines' anger was merely a happy coincidence.

I feel sick writing this now but this is how it was. The sacrifices used to be as much entertainment as punishment. We are quick to deride the other tribes, Aloy, but sometimes I wonder. If they are savage, then what are we?

 

The Red Raids began in the same year. When the first sacrifices were seen to be ineffective, my father surmised that more blood was necessary to appease the Sun. Since there were no more criminals available to him, he tasked his armies to raid the other tribes for captives. Border conflicts were common at the time, but they were unprepared against a full-scale attack. Taking them by surprise, my father's armies captured as many as possible and slew the rest.

They entered Meridian through the front gate. Kadaman and I spent all day watching them shuffle across the bridge in shackles, herded along by the guards. We were both intrigued. No outlanders were allowed in Meridian at the time, we had never met anyone outside our own tribe. To our eyes they all looked different, from us and from each other, and they wore clothes the like of which we had never seen before. I asked what was going to happen to them.

Kadaman avoided my eyes when he answered, "You will see."

I did not understand until my mother spoke to me that evening after dinner, telling me that despite her protests my father had insisted on my presence the next day, during the sacrifices. There was to be a fight, the captives pitted against the Sun's troops.

I was a child, naive, my inexperience blinding me from understanding the true horrors ahead. I expected a glorious spectacle, like the battle between Sun-King Ranan the Firebird and the Tenakth horde that every child fantasised about.

The Sun-Ring was crowded. All of Meridian's inhabitants were there, cheering and in high spirits. I had to sit on the royal balcony between Kadaman and a stranger. As the first band of captives entered the ring Kadaman whispered to me, "You must not look away, and you must not cry."

I failed both.

My childish expectations were crushed within mere heartbeats. The captives were too frightened to hold their swords steady. Our soldiers, the armies favoured by the Sun, slaughtered them. One man of the Utaru tribe cried aloud for help. The crowd laughed, threw insults at him. Another held his own for quite a while until a soldier came up from behind him and cut his throat.

I turned away from the massacre towards Kadaman, who was looking on, pale and obviously distraught. He was only eleven, and yet painfully accustomed to witnessing executions. Without averting his gaze from the ring, he took my hand and squeezed it. That was all he could do without inciting our father's displeasure.

The sacrifices continued until sunset. Dozens were massacred, their corpses left in the Sun-Ring to be burned later. The air was thick with the smell of death. I felt physically sick and exhausted from crying almost continuously. I was the age Itamen is now, Aloy, and what I saw that day still haunts my dreams. When we returned to the palace that evening, my father reprimanded me, "Never show weakness in the face of the Sun, Avad. Do not disappoint me again." For the first time I was afraid of him.

That night, sleep eluded me. Whenever I closed my eyes I was taken back to the Sun-Ring. I tasted the smell of warm blood in the stifling heat, heard the chokes and gasps of the dying. In truth the only sound was that of Kadaman in his room next to mine, sobbing now that nobody was watching him. I would have gone to him if not for my father's words.

I loved my father, admired him, aspired to be like him. But Kadaman was my brother, my best friend, more dear to me than anyone else. I did not know what to do. How could I choose to be loyal to one over the other? I remained in my room, deliberating problems no child should have to face. Although I wanted to speak to my brother about those conflicting loyalties, I did not have the courage to oppose my father.

After hours of silent consideration I sided with the wrong person. My father's pride, so I believed, was more important to me than my personal feelings. I resolved that I needed to be stronger.

Over the next months I learned to hold in my tears. Kadaman held my hand during the sacrifices and offered me a shoulder to cry on afterwards. But children adapt quickly, and so did we, I am sorry to say. Although we never enjoyed the sacrifices as others did, they became merely an unpleasant routine. We chose not to realise that the men, women and children in the ring were people like us, with feelings, with families, with lives cruelly ripped away from them.

 

So it was, for years. My father instructed Kadaman as his successor. I went out on machine hunts or studied ancient writings, not caring about politics save the lessons Kadaman passed on to me. He taught me about diplomacy, about the different tribes and their customs. Most of the time I was barely paying attention. I believed that it did not concern me.

Captives were sacrificed every few days, and we watched, unmoved, detached. We were proud of ourselves for not crying anymore at night.

I see now with hindsight that Kadaman still doubted my father. Occasionally, during the sacrifices, he glanced at me, always with worry in his eyes. I assumed he was concerned that I might cry, so I tried to look confident and reassuring. I realised only later that he must have been wondering whether he was the only one who still felt uncomfortable about the sacrifices. I wish we had discussed our feelings then, but we both wanted to protect the other, to the detriment of both.

We grew up knowing nothing other than our own lives, spent in luxury while slaves laboured on giant construction projects only to be cast into the Sun-Ring upon their completion, while orphaned children strengthened their town's defences in constant fear of another attack by Carja soldiers. The new machines, first the Stalker and later the Thunderjaw, were but distant rumours. Their only impact on us was that my mother forbade me from hunting, because it became too dangerous.

My father grew unstable, paranoid of conspiracies against him. At first nobody noticed the gradual change. As you too know, Aloy, the position of Sun-King entails many dangers. But as he worsened increasingly more of the sacrifices were taken from our own tribe, citizens of the Sundom accused of opposing my father in words or in actions.

Despite everything, Meridian remained a bustling city. The undertone of suffering and despair was hardly audible, too easily harmonised with the everyday noises. My father had many sympathisers among Sun Priests, soldiers, nobles and commoners alike. He had a gift of inspiring loyalty in those who watched and heard him. But rumours that could not be silenced had it that when there were no captives available for sacrifice the guards would abduct citizens from their homes at night. I still do not know whether they were true. I would not be surprised if they were.

 

I need to make a confession, Aloy. I helped my father, even though he might then have been more susceptible to pleas for mercy or for abandoning the executions altogether. So did Kadaman, but he did not have a choice. I offered my assistance of my own free will. For years I oversaw correspondences with officers in the Red Raids. I investigated possible conspiracies against my father. I drew up schedules for the sacrifices and arranged for troops or machines to be present. I believed that my father's cause was right and just, and I longed for his respect.

Sometimes I doubted our course. I could not completely ignore my conscience, the seven-year old child inside me that still cried when attending the sacrifices, wishing that he had not been born a prince because then he would not have had to witness them. I heard him, but did not heed his warnings. Instead I suppressed my doubts by devoting all my attention to whatever work my father needed done.

Conversations in the streets fell silent when I passed by. The men and women I spoke to were extremely polite, taking the greatest care to avoid any topics that could possibly be interpreted as rebellious. At the time I mistook it for a form of reverence. I only later recognised it to be fear.

I participated in my father's crimes. The blood of countless innocents is on my hands. Nothing can ever change that simple fact.

I have no excuses. It is because of blind followers like me that fanatics like my father may continue committing their horrors and cruelties.

 

Still the sacrifices had not reversed the Derangement. The deaths of thousands did not satisfy my father. He ordered the greatest sacrifice of all, not in Meridian but in Sunfall, where until then we had spent blissful summers away from the thronging crowds of Meridian. For months his armies raided the Oseram and the Utaru in preparation. His hunters captured a machine to set upon the unarmed captives.

In the days leading up to the sacrifice, I barely saw my father and Kadaman. They were too preoccupied with the organisation of the event. Expectations were high, everybody was convinced that this would surely be enough to finally appease the Sun. Even I became excited, as one might be for an art exhibition or a theatre show.

The day of the sacrifice was bright and sunny. Word on the streets was that the Sun had already accepted it and that soon the machines' anger would be over. Again the Sun-Ring was crowded and again all my naive hopes were about to be crushed.

In our glyphs is recorded how my father released a Behemoth on the captives. His kestrels attempted to drive it towards them, but it turned on them as well. Even the choice troops of the Sun were no match for a furious Behemoth in close quarters. My father's response was to declare them part of the sacrifice.

"Father," Kadaman cried before he could stop himself, overcome by shock. He knew many of the kestrels personally, having often trained with them. These were his friends, his brothers in arms. Helplessly, he was forced to watch them as they were trampled, smashed, slammed into walls.

That evening, after dinner, he returned to the royal balcony commanding the ring. Below, slaves were clearing away the bodies of the fallen. The sand had taken on the colour of their blood. Kadaman watched as the corpses were unceremoniously dragged away on carts. On the horizon was a thick smoke from the pyre where others already burned. He did not make a sound, but I knew he was weeping for his friends.

He stood at the edge of the balcony, immobile. I did not dare call to him. I feared that if I did, he would take one final step forward and throw himself to his death. Again I was offered a choice between what my father would want me to do and what Kadaman needed from me. This time I chose rightly. I stood beside him at the edge of the abyss, providing what little support I could offer. For years he had been the one consoling me, the light that lifted my fears and nightmares. I believed that no shadow could fall on him.

My eyes had simply become attuned to the darkness. It never occurred to me that my brother was suffering. There were many signs, but I did not read them. I was too preoccupied with myself.

I again took up hunting, under Sunhawk Talavad Khane Padish, Talanah's father, as an excuse for not assisting my father anymore. I spent days, sometimes weeks, camping in the wilds with Talavad and his son Brativin. Soon they were like a second family to me. While I can hardly blame myself for wanting to spend time away from my father and from the bloodshed, I cannot shake the feeling that I ignored my real family in favour of them, at the moment when my brother needed me most.

Kadaman could not escape his responsibilities without arousing suspicion. It troubled him even more than I realised at the time. In my selfish attempt to avoid helping my father, I had shifted my burden onto Kadaman instead of shouldering it. And he accepted it and let me run free while he staggered beneath it. He never discussed his true feelings with me. We had always been very close, but I wish we had talked more when we could.

Itamen was born in the same year, into a world no child should have to grow up in. Since he was still an infant, my father did not devote much attention to him. I saw how Kadaman attempted to shield him from most of the horrors, as he had done for me. He still did, and I failed to realise it until it was too late.

 

Not long after that, I met Ersa.

She was sent into the Sun-Ring alone against two fully armed kestrels. Nobody suspected that she, an Oseram woman, would hold her own against them, let alone win. Yet she did. I was impressed by her before I even knew her.

For her prowess, my father granted her the honour of becoming a palace slave. It was one of the last acts of mercy he ever showed.

Still, it is a miracle that Ersa and I ever met, or maybe it was the will of the Sun. Ersa caught me crying over something ridiculously trivial. While hunting I had broken my bow, the one I had used for years. I was in my room and she came in to clean, not knowing that I was there. Kadaman and I had long ago learned to be quiet. She could have turned around and left me, but she stayed. I do not know why. I wish I had asked her.

She was half puzzled and half offended. Compared to her I had no reason to cry. I told her that my bow had broken while hunting. She said that sometimes things break, but we always have the opportunity to forge something new from the pieces. I liked that saying.

We forged the first links of our friendship on that day. Over the next days we met more often and talked for hours while she pretended to be cleaning. Nobody knew except for Kadaman, whom I trusted with my life. He was eager to help us where he could, by reassigning guards or by warning us when someone approached. I think it was one of the few things in which he found joy at the time.

For two months the three of us shared our secret. Ersa and I fell in love. Kadaman was happier around us than I had seen him in a long time. But the Sun sets on everything in the end. Ersa had to leave Meridian. The city was becoming too dangerous for her, the threat of her being sacrificed was too real.

Ersa escaped through the waterway while Kadaman and I distracted the guards. We thought ourselves fortunate because our secret had not been discovered. We thought we were safe.

 

Two years later, when the situation in Meridian had again deteriorated, Sunhawk Talavad Khane Padish and his Hawks spoke out against the sacrifices. For the crime of desiring a better world, they were punished by death.

At first it seemed like the tragedy would pass Talavad and Brativin by. The Khane Padish family was too well-established, too distinguished. Others were not so fortunate. Three Hawks my father sent to the ring, as an example to the others who were forced to watch. I should have realised that they would not sit by while the other members perished.

They were machine hunters, Aloy, so my father had sentenced them to die fighting machines. All but a few of their weapons were taken from them. Those who had slain Thunderjaws and Stormbirds would be ripped apart by Scrappers or stampeded by Striders. Their deaths were not enough. My father meant to humiliate them deeply.

The Hawks fought, Aloy. They made their stand for hours and hours, from noon to sundown. But for every machine they slew my father released two more.

I knew that my father would not let them live. The battle was to continue until the machines overwhelmed them. Still I began to hope. Maybe they would slay all the machines that were kept for the sacrifices. If there were no more machines left to send against them, maybe they would survive.

At sunset my father released a Behemoth. The hunters were exhausted. He must have expected a quick end to the fight.

He had not taken the other Hawks into account. From their front-row seats they leapt into the ring, drawing the weapons they had kept hidden. Sunhawk Talavad Khane Padish and his son Brativin were among them. With a daring move I had seen him execute successfully before, Talavad slew the Behemoth. The crowd cheered. Once the Sun-Ring had been used for such displays of prowess over the machines. Talavad stood on top of the staggering giant for one heartbeat, then another Behemoth crashed into him, hurling him against the wall. He attempted to stand up, reaching for his weapons, but the Behemoth sent a hail of stones after him.

As the light of the sun faded from sight, Brativin too died, defending the spectators from the rampaging Behemoth. Perhaps that had been my father's plan all along, to force the Hawks to sacrifice themselves or be responsible for the killing of innocents. But they did not have a choice. Desperately, the remaining hunters continued their fight, shielding the audience with their own bodies, their own lives.

I knew now how Kadaman had felt years ago at Sunfall. Talavad, Brativin and I had brought down countless machines together, even Behemoths. Brativin was my age, my closest friend except for Kadaman. All he and the others wanted was an end to the sacrifices. For them to die like this was unfair, undeserved, and deeply cruel.

I cried. Kadaman as well. My father did not notice, fully immersed in the spectacle below him. Just like many years ago, Kadaman took my hand and squeezed it. I knew then that he felt exactly the same as I did, and that we should have taken action earlier.

 

Kadaman came to my room that night, as he had done when we were children. We talked until the Sun showed its first rays, finally resolving that he would petition my father that very day at high noon, and formally ask him to abandon the sacrifices and end the suffering.

So he did. I was there, but Kadaman had ordered me to be quiet no matter what. The thought that he knew what was to come, and accepted, perhaps even embraced it, still haunts me from time to time. He knelt before my father's throne and pleaded for an end to the killings, for peace with the other tribes, and for everything I have since tried to accomplish in his honour. My father heard his plea in silence. When he finished, he signalled his guards to arrest him, and sentenced Kadaman, his firstborn son and heir, my brother, to immediate death in the Sun-Ring.

I had done as Kadaman had told me. I had kept quiet. So he was cast into the ring alone when it should have been the two of us. I had no weapons, but I would have followed him even into death if not for the two guards at my sides, restraining me. I watched my brother die that day, Aloy. It has been three years and I still cannot speak of it. Yet I remember every single detail.

Our eyes met, mere heartbeats before the end. I have never cried so hard, but I did not look away.

 

Kadaman was not granted the mercy of a quick death. The day was already coming to an end when I returned to the palace, alone except for the two guards that refused to leave my side. I learned later that Kadaman had ordered them to keep me safe.

As the guards unfolded the plan that Kadaman had designed to prevent me from sharing his fate, Itamen came into my room with his two dolls, wanting to play. Nobody had told him about Kadaman, and neither did I. I hugged him, promised to come back for him. He was too young to understand that I was saying goodbye, and shoved both dolls into my face while I was talking. That is my final memory of him, before we met again in the harbour of Brightmarket. I had expected a separation of perhaps a few months, not three years.

Unknowingly, he had convinced me to leave Meridian. If not for him I would have stayed regardless of the dangers, blinded by my grief. But I had to protect Itamen, from my father and from the pain of losing both his brothers. I knew now how Kadaman must have felt about me.

The official account of the Liberation does not mention either of them. I fled Meridian with the help of several guards. We made for the Claim as quickly as possible, covered by the darkness. All I remember of that first night is the cold. I was too exhausted to do anything but stumble on. Yet we kept going, for hours, the next day and night as well. The journey was a haze of long marches and short rests, of sunrise turning into sunset and back.

I do not even know how many days it took. It was evening when we finally arrived in the Claim, immediately alarming the first village we encountered. Because there were suspiciously few of us, they did not shoot on sight. Their fear of a trap saved us. Now I had the chance to explain the situation to them. We were given an escort to Ersa's village, on the condition that the guards handed in their weapons. I was allowed to keep my sword, but after it was explained to me in detail what would happen if I tried anything, I was too afraid to even touch it.

We reached Ersa's village a few days later. She realised at once that the situation must be serious, or I would not be there. As I told her everything I could, she was already drawing up a plan. To retake Meridian I needed an army instead of a handful of palace guards, meaning that I had to gain the trust and respect of the Oseram. So that was what I did, recalling the lessons Kadaman taught me years ago.

I spent months planning, organising troops, making alliances. I had always excelled at strategy. Kadaman used to ask me for advice, to help him decide on a course of action. Still, without the help of Ersa, Erend and many others, taking Meridian would have been impossible. I would have died in the attempt.

When I fled Meridian, all I knew was that someone had to put a stop to my father's crimes and that I had stood by without interfering for too long. I owed it to Kadaman's memory to prevent further bloodshed in the name of the Sun, or for any other reason. Over time I came to realise that the situation was much more complicated than that. My father would not stand down, even if I managed somehow to defeat his troops and win back Meridian. As long as he lived, his reign of terror would continue.

I had long drawn the conclusion before I finally dared to admit it to myself. There was no other way to put an end to his cruelties but to put an end to him. To kill my father. And I had to do it. No Oseram could kill the Sun-King, that would cause an intertribal conflict. No Carja would risk the Sun's wrath. Most importantly, this was my fight. I could not allow anyone else to solve it for me.

Yet I hesitated, keeping all this a secret to anyone but Ersa. He was still my father. I could not bring myself to hate him even after everything he had done. You might expect, Aloy, that it was easier after Kadaman's death and after seeing with my own eyes what he had done to the Oseram. Instead memories of a childhood I had long forgotten resurfaced. My father reading to me. A game we used to play together. His protectiveness of Kadaman and me, and his insistence that we could defend ourselves should the need ever arise. How impressed he was with me when I told him of the machines I had hunted.

Despite his actions, my father was not a monster, Aloy. The same man that presided over so much bloodshed was, or had been, a loving and beloved parent. The two were inseparable, and to put an end to the suffering I was to kill both.

 

We marched on Meridian in three groups. I led the smallest host, the one storming the palace through the waterway, both because my father would be there and because of Itamen. But I came too late. Helis had already taken him and Nasadi to Sunfall, on my father's orders. I had failed to save Kadaman, and now my stepbrother as well.

I confronted my father in approximately the same place I am sitting now, writing you this letter that I may never find the courage to send. Here, in the Solarium, I found my father waiting for me, armoured, sword already drawn.

It is recorded in the tales that my father was no longer favoured by the Sun and so lost the fight. In truth I was almost overcome. Yet in the end I won. I killed my father, the thirteenth Sun-King.

The world was not plunged into darkness. No ray of burning light struck me down. No earthquake or eclipse or thunder marked the event. Nothing happened. Was it truly because the Sun had retreated its light from him? Then why had it not done so earlier? Had Kadaman not been in the Sun's favour? Did the Sun care at all?

But I did not debate religious topics at the time. I cried, knelt beside my dying father, begged for his forgiveness. I thirsted for some final act of kindness, of love, to remember him by. Instead he closed his eyes and prayed to the Sun to lighten his passing, without once acknowledging my presence. I still think that it would have been easier, perhaps, if he had cursed or condemned me. At least then I knew that he had seen me, and cared, in a way. I wonder if Kadaman and I truly meant nothing to him, and in all honesty I envy him if that was the case.

Because even when he lay there, bleeding out, I still saw the man who had raised me, the father I loved.

I did not fight in the battle for Meridian. I remained beside my father's body, heartbroken, mourning him even though I was the one who had slayed him. I had expected relief, perhaps even joy, from myself once it was over. I was so wrong, Aloy.

Hours later, Ersa found me there. She helped me forge myself a new life, a new purpose, from the pieces. Ever since, I have done all I can to heal the damage my father inflicted. It still feels like I am not doing enough. It will never be enough.

So now you have heard my story. It is not complete, but this is the best I can do at the moment. Some of its parts I cannot even think about, let alone talk or write. Maybe, hopefully, in a few years. If so, and if you are willing to listen, I will tell you then.

 

I miss you, Aloy. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I hope you are well.

 

May you always walk in light.