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Could Xau-Tak be... Zaros?

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Dionysius
Dec Member 2011

Dionysius

Posts: 1,236Mithril Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
I'm just going to open this by saying this sits within the world of slightly more far-fetched theories, but an interesting one to consider nonetheless. This is quite long, but hear me out...

--

When we last see Zaros, he opens the Codex during the Battle of the Monolith. When asked by Azzanadra what his plans are, he states that this universe (the plane of existence occupied by Gielinor, the other planes and Freneskae which we know of as 'our' universe) does not hold what it is that he seeks - so he must go in search of another. He is to journey to Erebus - the apparent afterlife plane for the Mahjarrat and followers of Zaros.

Zaros first became aware of the existence of a plane of shadow beyond the Monolith during the Second Age, as revealed in the Archaeology mystery 'Secrets of the Inquisition'. At this time, the Monolith was concealed deep within the Shadow Realm in a mysterious part of ancient Senntisten approximately beneath the Grand Cathedral.

Elsewhere in the Second Age, a ship under the command of the Zarosian Empire, aptly named 'The Glory of Zaros' ran aground on the Cursed Archipelago, leaving most of the crew dead, save Gustaf Johannes and Lygrass, who would later be questioned by Nabor and Sliske back in Senntisten as to what happened on their expedition.

In the questioning by Sliske, Gustaf appears to speak directly to an adventurer, with the words:
"Do you really think you can save them, [player]? You can't. The spiral of time leads only to the gaping maw of eternity. And this is Xau-Tak."

But how could Xau-Tak possibly be aware of the adventurer (aka The World Guardian) back in the Second Age? They were not yet even born, nor was Guthix's plan to create them even necessary at that point - let alone actually developed by Guthix himself.

The answer is simple: Xau-Tak knows the adventurer because Xau-Tak is Zaros. The same Zaros who disappeared through the Monolith in the Sixth Age...

[cont]
The original Wise Old Man

21-Aug-2021 11:06:00

Dionysius
Dec Member 2011

Dionysius

Posts: 1,236Mithril Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
How is this possible?

The universe which Zaros travels to - Erebus - is not our universe. It seemingly exists in, around, before and after the timeline of our universe.

If it is indeed the universe of Shadow Anima, then it stands to reason that it exists as something of a yin and yang to our universe of Anima - each able to exist concurrently to one another, interlinked but separate in their own ways.

The words uttered by Gustaf when interrogated by Sliske seem to suggest this is possible: "The spiral of time leads only to the gaping maw of eternity. And this is Xau-Tak".

In the 'Cres' Memory Bud, Guthix states:
"The forbidden secrets of this universe and beyond must be recorded while I still live, so that they can be metered out only when the time is right. The Great Revision. The Broken Needle. The Shadow Breach. If that knowledge is lost, all things shall end. Not just life. Not just the universe. Everything. Time and space, and life and death..."

If Zaros/Xau-Tak does indeed exist in an alternate or 'other' timeline that is both separate but also related to the timeline of our universe, this could explain the inexplicable ways in which Xau-Tak is seemingly able to know and anticipate things which are just simply cosmically not possible, like knowing the adventurer would be a thorn in his plans as early as the Second Age.

The line: "Do you really think you can save them, Player? You can't" is a recurring motif in the limited Xau-Tak dialogue in-game. It is quoted by one of the cave goblins in Nomad's Elegy, upon rescuing Zanik and other cave goblins from the Bandosian afterlife which states: "Do you really think you can save them, Player? You can't. There is a grinding darkness against which your soul shall be lathed. And this is Xau-Tak."

This is an interesting connection to the concept of the afterlife and Xau-Tak, given that Erebus is described by Azzanadra as the afterlife of mortals faithful to the Zarosian faith...

[cont]
The original Wise Old Man

21-Aug-2021 11:06:28

Dionysius
Dec Member 2011

Dionysius

Posts: 1,236Mithril Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
So, why Erebus, as the place of afterlife for the followers of Zaros? Because Zaros is Xau-Tak.

The Afterlife itself also exists as something of a non-linear time plane, where the souls of the dead are collected (for the most part) in the Grim Underworld after being claimed by Death on Gielinor before being guided by Icthlarin to their respective afterlives.

I'm yet to expand on this particular element as I'm lacking in certain knowledge in this area - contributions to this point are welcome. I do have a separate plot point related to Erebus being the Zarosian afterlife and a connected point to the Queen of Ashes, which I will get to further on...

--

So, adopting the train of thought that Zaros ultimately becomes Xau-Tak by stepping through the portal concealed by the Monolith and travelling to Erebus, there are a few other connected plot points to consider.

Why would Xau-Tak corrupt the egg of elder god Mah on Freneskae?

Zaros/Xau-Tak exists in Erebus - a timeline disparate universe - so Zaros knows he must corrupt Mah's egg in order to hatch the deformed Mah in that revision of the Anima Universe in order to enable his own creation.

Fast forward to Children of Mah, and after Mah is slain by Seren, Zaros claims he can sense a dormant power in Mah's core which will be useful for his future plans. This is raised again by Seren in the Battle of the Monolith dialogue, which seems to be an indicative plot point as Mah's core being one of the important things he must have in order to travel to and survive in Erebus. As to whether it is the material to shield, the tool to guide or the offering for those who rule remains unclear, but perhaps Zaros required Mah's core for the purpose of harnessing its power for himself.

In the Battle of the Monolith dialogue, Zaros clearly sees Gielinor as no longer of any use to his plans, which would explain his ambition to become something of a 'shadow' Elder God (aka Xau-Tak).

[cont]
The original Wise Old Man

21-Aug-2021 11:06:47

Dionysius
Dec Member 2011

Dionysius

Posts: 1,236Mithril Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
This comes after Zaros' request to ascend to Elder Godhood and replace Mah in their pantheon is rejected by Jas at the conclusion of Sliske's Endgame.

It stands to reason that if Zaros was aware of Erebus from as early as the Second Age in his initial experimentation with the Monolith deep in the shadow realm in Senntisten, he may have been aware all along of this 'alternate' method or possibility to realise his ambitions.

Clearly, the power held on Erebus is significant. Merely closing the portal opened by Zaros in the Monolith was enough to force Azzanadra to ascend to godhood. Granted, he claims he knew he was close to such an ascension already, but the small amount of Shadow Anima that had spilled into Gielinor which he absorbed upon closing the portal was enough to force him to ascend without his conscious will to decide to do so.

If Zaros could find a way to harness this power, with the core of an elder god, an elder artefact and who knows what else... who is to say he couldn't achieve his ambition of becoming en elder god too?

Thus, Zaros becomes Xau-Tak.


I have one extra theory/concept I'd like to explore below which also relates to the Queen of Ashes - a deity first mentioned by V in Hero’s Welcome (in the same text in which Xau-Tak is also referenced... but otherwise we know little about).

More on the Queen of Ashes below.

[cont]
The original Wise Old Man

21-Aug-2021 11:07:05

Dionysius
Dec Member 2011

Dionysius

Posts: 1,236Mithril Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
The first mention we have of the 'Queen of Ashes' is dialogue from Hero's Welcome in which the god V mentions her briefly in The Book of V: "Nor will the Queen of Ashes waste time recruiting the downtrodden to her infernal cause."

The next in-game reference to the Queen of Ashes comes in 2015 in the 'Birth By Fire' event from the 'Celebration of Fire' event at the Lumbridge Crater from the Fallen Nihil.

A nihil is an interesting choice of emissary... the Fallen Nihil in particular claims to have been tortured on Freneskae, and as we never meet the Fallen Nihil on Freneskae, we could suppose that the Fallen Nihil perished there, and being a mortal Zarosian, went on to afterlife in Erebus.

The Queen of Ashes was described by Mod Osborne in a VIP Lore Q&A in 2016 as having "radiant power".

Who do we know who could be described as radiant, who is on Erebus (at least as far as we presume)?

Char.

Char, like Zaros, was transported through the portal within the Monolith before it was closed by Azzanadra.

Char is an Auspah - a fire enchantress capable of creating and controlling fire. When she entered the portal, she was wielding the Frostenhorn - an artefact known to amplify and enhance power.

What if Char was able to survive on Erebus, amplifying her own power using the Frostenhorn or absorbing power from Shadow Anima?

It would stand to reason that a being with a particular proclivity for fire-related sorcery would make an excellent candidate for the Queen of Ashes. Not to mention that as a follower of Zaros, she could rally the souls of the Zarosian loyalists in their afterlife on Erebus to her cause, thus fitting the description provided in the Book of V in Hero's Welcome.

This could also align with the timeline theory of Erebus sitting outside of the Anima Universe's timeline, thus enabling her to have devastated other worlds that V could have witnessed while simultaneously being the Char on Erebus.

--

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The original Wise Old Man

21-Aug-2021 11:07:30 - Last edited on 21-Aug-2021 11:13:20 by Dionysius

J R Kerr
May Member 2007

J R Kerr

Posts: 6,922Rune Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
You got the lore about sliske and vos, right?

I haveta posit that vos is a fifth elder god, and has set an elaborate trap to eat the eggs.
We're always ready to disagree with anyone who calls RSOF users contentious.

18-Sep-2021 04:40:15

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