I’d like to start off by saying that these theories are probably quite far from the truth, but it’s enjoyable to come up with them and speculate. All of the evidence for these ideas is incredibly tentative and based on speculation, very little of the following is canon.
Zaros and Seren, the indirect children of Xau-Tak and Wen
Mah, I see it now; that icy corruption torn into your core. You are like this because someone close to you willed it…’
~ Seren, Children of Mah
My thought is that, if Mah had not been stillborn, the result would have been no mortal life. Mah would understand the potential for life to become conscious, and would have suppressed it in previous cycles (whether instinctively or knowingly). This might suggest the dragonkin homeworld was the last one created before Freneskae, and should have set off alarm bells that whatever led to Mah’s current condition actually started back then. It’s got me thinking about links between the dragonkin homeworld and Iaia.
~ Mod Rowley, 2014
In the previous revision, Mah was corrupted by Xau-Tak. This corruption, although considered an error by the other Elder Gods, allowed for the creation of life – and with life, comes the potential for death. Death, which Xau-Tak seems to embody in many ways, is not possible if life does not first exist. This led to the creation of an unlikely universe which was teeming with life, such as the Dragonkin.
However, when the Elder Gods planted their eggs at the core of Freneskae… they were not happy. Or at least, Wen was not. Wen, the polar opposite of Mah in many ways, represents ‘reversion’ – the past. Whereas Mah represents ‘potential’, an aspect of the future. It is no surprise that Wen is the Elder god most closely related to the Needle and Codex.
From what I know of this elder god, I’m deeply concerned. All references I’ve had of her seem to involve destruction and the ending of things. Entire civilisations gone, as if they were nothing. But I’m probably overthinking things, after all these sources are fragments of ancient documents, most of which are incomplete or damaged beyond repair. I’m also attempting to translate languages that have been dead for millennia, so make of that what you will.
~ Ariane talking about Wen
From the cold is born fear, shrinking and death. The corpse lies still and lifeless. Thus came Edda-Wen. From Wen, the cold to harden and freeze, to brittle and fracture the clay. The ending of things, to break apart. To reflect on the past.
~ Elder Chronicle (transcript)
Sapient life should not exist, it is an error, it threatens the food supply of the next generation of Elder Gods. Wen attempted to rectify this by harming Mah, preventing her from awakening in the next cycle. But she failed.
In the current revision, long after the existing Elder Gods had left Freneskae, Mah hatched from her egg stillborn. Coursing through her very essence was the corruption of Xau-Tak and the painful, cold shrapnel of Wen. This tormented her and plagued her nightmares. Eventually, from these nightmares, she would form Zaros and Seren.
But Wen did not leave Freneskae unscathed. When she sought to avert life by harming Mah, the corruption spread to her too. As she pathed her way through the abyss, creating new worlds such as Teragard and Hallow, it would begin to consume more and more of her being. Perhaps it would even affect the Elder Artefacts she went onto create, such as the codex (monolith). In the end, the corruption became too much though. When Jas, Ful and Bik prepared to sleep beneath the surface of Gielinor – Wen, in secret, tore herself apart in order to fend off the corruption from consuming her entirely. This is why Wen is beneath Ice Mountain and White Wolf Mountain, and why the WenKra feels an emptiness.
Some of me is missing. A part that is not made of stone, nor earth, but of living energy. The magic, as you would call it. Some of it is gone, elsewhere. I am diminished in function and I can feel that it distresses her.
I… am… damaged. Some of me… is missing… an emptiness where once energy flowed. Adjusting energy flow to speech
So, what points to Zaros and Seren being the indirect children of Xau-Tak and Wen? Quite frankly, very few things – and as stated at the start, this is very much conjecture. However, here are some of the more interesting ones:
Zaros can not become an Elder God, but Seren can. Jas denies Zaros the ability to ascend to Elder Godhood, but believes Seren could become something greater.
Shadow anima is toxic to the Elder Gods. The sixth Elder God is often described as being ‘of something else’, which is the same language used to describe what gave Raksha its power – Raksha being powered by shadow anima. Could it be that the ‘of something else’ is shadow anima, and Zaros’ high concentration of it be what prevents him from becoming an Elder God? Interestingly, Raksha has Xau-Tak related voice lines which were either removed at the last minute, or have not yet been found in-game.
Zaros attacks with tendrils (e.g. battle with loarnab), tendrils are associated with Xau-Tak. When using the Zarosian tendril combat abilities on the Ambassador, Kranon responds by saying “I am acquainted with the magicks of shadow and blood. His tendrils reach further.”
Seren shares the same symbol as Wen, a cyan-blue diamond. This is most visible on the codex.
The Children of Mah are created partly from shadow anima, this is unlike anything else (except the Xau-Tak monsters, and us). Zaros has a far higher concentration of shadow anima than Seren.
Xau-Tak is related to nightmares (e.g. causing Moia to have nightmares of her father), could Xau-Tak have directly cause creation through Mah?
And most importantly, …
Mur of Daemonheim
The monster, whose name was Mur, lived inside the world eating it from the inside out. When Guthix stabbed it with his sword, the monster was driven out, but the whole world exploded into pieces!
~ The Queen and the King
The Blade seemed almost drawn to this tiny moon. I later learned they shared a long history. I discovered rents in the dimensional fabric…wounds in the weave between worlds that will not heal. Those threads allowed me to find my way to many worlds that would otherwise have remained forever hidden from the Blade. Dimensionally speaking, Zanaris is a nexus of planar threads. Its radials spiral into a network of near-infinite ravaged planes: husks of dead worlds, drained of every ounce of life. I was alarmed by this revelation. What interdimensional predator could wreak such devastation? Was this the work of Tuska, the great beast that devoured my kin on Naragun? Could its appetite be so voracious? Or worse, was Tuska but one insatiable entity in a great swarm of devastation? I could only hope this parasite was long since deceased. The alternative – that it lingered in the dark void between worlds, and could strike at any moment – haunted my dreams for many centuries. …Each gap between worlds cut by the Blade is like a rip in clothing, and they fray, as such, with each use. I must take care to hem each edge I have carved. Only the Blade keeps them stable. Many pieces must be sacrificed…
I have sundered a planet. It was a world of divine beauty and fabulous magic, a realm of wild nature where four ruling courts of the seasons were in constant conflict, yet maintained a tumultuous balance of power. Yet, at the core of this world of light, I witnessed a great darkness. A corrupt, ravenous presence; a bloated parasite that fed voraciously on the living, whose appetite could never be satisfied. Arrogantly, I sought to cut that devouring corruption from its host. Instead, I destroyed the planet, shattering its fragments across the cosmos. Worst of all, I fear my actions have released corruption from its prison. Its tendrils entwine the threads of mortality. It has taken root in pathways I have opened. There are many places I now dare not travel, for fear that corruption may probe deeper into the cosmos, and find a new host. I have sought out the elements of the sundered world. Some of them endure. A land of perpetual light and one of eternal winter, and a periphery where neither can endure the other. But there are large fragments of Renmark I have been unable to locate. I can only hope that some of its inhabitants may have survived my hubris.
~ Guthix, Elder Sword (echo)
…It consumed my attention wholly, for I was gathering and focusing mine power in preparation. Mine rest was not a case of lack of consciousness, rather it was a focus of concentration so great as to exclude all other activity by myself…
~ A quote from Guthix, found in Daemonheim
~ A Fist of Guthix token, found in Daemonheim
That being said, what followers I left behind are now lost to corruption, and I fear that a foe will rise that even I could not deal with. Still, I move on alone; if I make it a little deeper, this area will serve as a challenge for anyone who tries to reach me.
Zamorak guide me!
~ Bilrach, Mysterious Chronicle (part 29), found in Daemonheim
I was not, and it is my great shame…my guilt. Our last burden for Hearthren was to carry a load of strange black stones to the very bottom of Daemonheim. I was afraid of going that deep – the voices are everywhere, and their words entice dark thoughts. I…I was afraid…and so I hid. I was a coward.
~ The Exile, Player Owned Ports
Do you really think you can save Moia?
~ Tainted Shard, Til Death Do Us Part
Daemonheim is a weird one. It has many open plot threads which demand to be tied, there are even large spaces for previously promised content, e.g. Floor 61. However, we know the plot and intentions for Daemonheim have changed dramatically over the years. One of the original intentions for Daemonheim was that the Smuggler was Guthix, and that the culmination of Daemonheim would result in the return of Zamorak. This didn’t really happen. Since then, we’ve had a number of lore fails and retcons – some of which are completely necessary in order to keep Daemonheim relevant. Some of which seem to just be a misunderstanding of the previous lore. Regardless, one way in which Daemonheim could see a future, its loose ends tied, and what Jagex has already begun teasing (and, essentially confirmed) is Xau-Tak. But I think there’s more to it than that, I think there’s a Mur-shaped-hole. A Mur-shaped hole which can also be used to tie all of the existing Daemonheim plot holes together.
(Again, most of this is total conjecture, fanon and theory crafting)
Xau-Tak is not the only malevolent horror beyond our world or sense of reality, there are many, many more.
I’ve heard the rumours! The shadow! Skeka’s cosmic research! It all links! There are other beings out there. Equals of the roakin. Betters. I will find them and implore for them to free us!
~ Kranon, Pain! It! Black!, Orthen Dig Site
Xau-Tak is heavily inspired by Cthulhu mythos, originally he was no more than a regular sea-god inspired by Cthulhu, but is now ‘something more’ (as confirmed by the lore mods). Remember that Bik concept art? That was Xau-Tak, used internally as a proposal for a theoretical expansion 3 (in 2017). This is why the artist has it titled and saved as Xau-Tak on Artstation.
I will talk about the similarities between Cthulhu mythos and Xau-Tak in the next section, but for now – this theory relies upon the idea that Mur is directly or indirectly related to Xau-Tak. Perhaps the spawn of Xau-Tak, perhaps something from the same place as Xau-Tak, perhaps a being as powerful as Xau-Tak. Here’s the theory:
Long ago, the Elder Gods constructed Renmark – imprisoning Mur within.
Not as long ago, but still quite a long time ago, Guthix arrived on Renmark and attempted to cut the parasite from the core of the world (Renmark). Guthix tried to do this with the Elder Blade, an Elder Artefact notorious for being able to gateways in space. It’s broken shards were even used to construct the World Gate.
Guthix failed. Quite badly. Not only did Guthix release Mur from its prison, but the tendrils of Mur laced themselves through the many rifts, interweaving through space and reality. Compounded with the debris of the Elder Sword, Mur was also empowered – not harmed. With so much of the elder blade infused into its very being, Mur was able to construct rifts of its own – but only for a limited time. Within such a short period of time, the universe, its worlds, and the abyss were now littered with holes through space and time. Further, every rift must have an exit – a destination to reach. Mur, wanting to strike back at the Elder Gods, manifested rifts in the direction of Gielinor. But a broken blade is a blunt tool, and tendrils don’t make for steady hands. The most significant and potent rift which Mur was able to construct was beneath the surface of Gielinor, close to the Elder Halls – but the earth was so dense that it could not pass through. Having failed this, Mur slithered away through the many rifts which it had opened.
It could have been at this point in time when Guthix became imbued with Shadow Anima.
This is also how the ‘Schism’ on Renmark was created, as well as other phenomena of a similar nature.
It would make sense that the ability to open rifts so rapidly and with such ease began to very quickly deplete from Mur, due to the broken nature of the blade. Mur probably created a rift beyond the ‘veil’ too – potentially returning ‘home’.
Upon returning to Gielinor, Guthix set it upon his most favoured colossi (Fiara, Valluta) to defend the various rifts. As for the most world threatening rift, Guthix spoke to the Dragonkin. In the First Age, the Stone had not been abused as much, and Guthix only sought knowledge. Dragonkin constructed Daemonheim Castle above the Rift.
Guthix went to sleep. Night.
Over the ages, the Stone of Jas began to be abused. The Dragonkin became progressively more desperate and restless. It was only a matter of time before some the calmest of Dragonkin attempted crazy feats in order to rid themselves of the curse. The Dragonkin at Daemonheim began to dig down to the Rift. Believing it might rid them of the curse, or that they could use it to escape the torment. But this ended in utter chaos. Something went very wrong for the Dragonkin at the bottom of Daemonheim. So wrong that they collapsed the tunnels and fled Daemonheim.
Guthix woke at the end of the Third Age. The world which Guthix knew had been utterly demolished. Gods were waging war upon one another; the Dragonkin, more powerful than ever before, were slaying entire armies and burning down the cities false users. Guthix banished the Gods and the Dragonkin, confiscated the Stone of Jas, and prepared to return to sleep.
However, Guthix was not able to successfully keep the Dragonkin out – only remove them from the world temporarily. The curse bestowed upon them by Jas was far superior to the Edicts of Guthix, and so whilst Guthix slept – the Dragonkin conflicts began.
When Guthix visited V, a Fremennik warrior-god who had defended Relekka throughout the God Wars, he was told that he could not stay. Although, having favoured V, Guthix allowed his son – a mighty warrior – to become one of his guardians and defend Daemonheim, which the Dragonkin could no longer do. AKA, the Smuggler (as obviously the Smuggler can’t be Guthix in 2021).
Bilrach began to hear whispers which he believed to be his Lord Zamorak. He began to dig beneath Daemonheim, constructing a massive complex. No Chelon-Mah ever died.
And here’s the kicker
Upon reaching the bottom of Daemonheim, nearing the Rift, Bilrach was slain which caused the Strange Power event. Present-day Bilrach is either not Bilrach, or a reanimated version of Bilrach.
Bilrach began to acquire Black Stone from the Eastern Lands, as mentioned by The Exile.
Bilrach played some role in using Moia as a conduit. Zamorak and Moia are not necessarily aware of what is going on.
Erebus & The Shadow Breach
Along the journey they encountered an old dragonkin who told them that there was a great treasure hidden within the kingdom of Shadow, a stone that would grant them wondrous powers. So the two heroes, ready for adventure, headed into the kingdom. They crossed the normal trials, the haunted forests, the unclimbable mountains, and flew through raging storms, before finally arriving in the kingdom of Shadow. A cold and sinister place, full of strangeness and dark sorceries. They found themselves drawn to an old cathedral, crafted from the stone ages prior by a long dead people. In it they found an old man huddled in front of an altar on which sat a glistening jewel.
~ Kranon’s Ancient Journal
In my research expeditions to the mainland I have spent some time studying the sorcerers of the empty god’s empire. Their so-called ‘dark magicks’ come in five schools, and it is the school of shadow which most interests me, not least because of their misconceptions. I have read them describe it as a ‘coterminous dimension’ and though there is an element of truth to this, they quite fail to see the full picture.
These sorcerers are adept, to an extent, and turn their power to inventive ends. They can summon forth shadow as a raw corrosive force, but they also use that same energy to reanimate the dead, in both sapient and non-sapient forms. The most learned can even shadow walk, stepping into what they call the ‘shadow realm’ to walk unseen. What they seem quite unaware of is that everything that they experience is but that tiny part of it which coils around Gielinor.
The shadow realm may be a place, but it is not a part of any plane or world. It stretches from the very pit of this universe, below even the lowest planes, and reaches all the way to the highest, to Gielinor itself. Along the way its tendrils reach out and touch many worlds, wrap around them, and those worlds too are said to have ‘shadow realms’. In these furthest planes the shadow is merely a thin, invisible membrane that clings to the outside of the planets that it touches.
It is possible to navigate the rivers of this interplanetary network, but as one travels lower into the universe, the shadows become thicker and denser. What are rivers in the transcendent planes become great seas in the catalytic and elemental planes, surrounding the planets with a huge, amorphous halo beyond the edge of normal sight. A shadow walker on these worlds could soar up into the sky, beyond the atmosphere and out into planar space.
Just as the abyss and void hold their own forms of life, so too does the shadow, and such beings can be found occasionally in these shadow seas, far from a world’s surface. They are twisted and elusive creatures, more formless than definite. They are suffused utterly with shadow energy, composed I believe of the same matter as the sea they swim in. While within their realm they are quite invisible from beyond it, and when brought forth into real space, they expire rapidly.
Further down, in the lower planes, the stuff of shadow near fills the planar bubbles with its unseen presence. Shadow walking in those places, one finds oneself floating in a purple sea, the ‘shadow realms’ of the planets merely dots in a limitless ocean. Beyond Freneskae at the utter end of the universe are the true depths, where the realm grows thicker and darker still, such that even gods must turn back. In even this place there is life, of a sort.
The shadow leviathan, a great wyrm large enough to coil around worlds. It hunts through the dark, seeking any pinprick of light to devour. If it has a mind, it knows only hatred of the living. Planes not filled with the shadow cannot sustain its bulk, and so seem safe from its predations.
What none can see whose lives do not span the breadth of eons as ours do, is that the shadow realm is spreading. When first we were subjugated by the stone, the shadow barely reached the lower planes. With each millennium that passes, the planes gradually fill with shadow, until it spills out across the universe covering more and more worlds. Having reached even Gielinor, I do not know what if anything can stop it from filling the universe entirely.
~ The Shadow Realm
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… I suppose death is the fairest way to choose. I shall request Harold to deliver the next suitable candidate to me, instead of to the Underworld. They will have no choice but to become one of my guardians, and to perform this task for me…for everyone.
~ Guthix, Hall of Memories
You shall not interrupt Kranon. His work is too important, it must continue. He is an arrogant fool with dangerous aspirations. But his ritual will weaken the veil and let our master hear us.
~ Maw of Kolthregar, Obsidian Tribunal
Dagnath commands that the veil be weakened. Kranon may be a slave to his hubris. But the ritual will serve our goals. The will of the Tribunal shall not be denied.
What is the Shadow Breach? Erebus? The Veil? The Shadow Realm?
In my opinion, they’re all the same thing. It is where the Shadow Leviathans wrap themselves around dead worlds, it is where the Shadow Cacklers feast, it is the power which reanimates the dead, it is where Mur was spawned, it is where Xau-Tak resides. It is both a realm which sits atop our own, and a location at the bottom of the universe.
When something travels into the shadow realm, it can only travel so deep – and the depth it can travel is dependant on its power over ancient shadow. The depth something can travel is also dependant on the ‘thickness’ of the shadow realm – a thickness which increases the further ‘down’ you go in the universe. Thinking of the universe on a vertical axis, at the bottom of the universe is the ‘shadow realm’ (location). This is what I believe ‘Erebus’ to be. But this constantly spreads, slowly but inevitably. Over time the thickness of the shadow realm increases as it ascends over the worlds above it.
The Elder Gods know this. They use all of their energy moving throughout the universe, trying to escape the ever nearing shadow realm. Exhausted, they then lay their eggs and construct a perfect world with their remaining power – as food for their children. When they awaken, they consume the world for energy – and then repeat the cycle.