Shin Malphur, the famous “Man with the Golden Gun,” killer of Dredgen Yor in the battle at Dwindler’s Ridge, has long been regarded as a hero; a champion of the Light who cannot abide even an ounce of Darkness among other Guardians.
But the legend he has built for himself is no more than a façade, carefully crafted to maintain a specific appearance, below which hides a network of deception, deeper than any among the Light or Dark could have anticipated…
When viewed as he truly was, not as he is imagined, we challenge the known mythologized depiction of the man who was Dredgen Yor.
In our estimation, the monster so many see was, in fact, the best of us.
His sacrifice total.
His vile means meant to carve a greater end.
They hide this truth because they fear the consequences of those who would dare follow in his footsteps.
To tempt the Darkness. To allow one’s Light to be tainted.
Few could walk that ledge and not fall completely into despair.
And while theories exist to support or contradict the purity of the gift we wield, Yor’s life offers a glimpse into unexplored possibility.
He also believes, as I do, that there is a manner in which we may be able to replicate Yor’s damnation while avoiding the same heavy toll.
We will surely be judged for what it is we are about to achieve. And there will surely come a time when the lone gunman will want words — or worse.
But we go now upon an old path.
One we seek to make our own.
And should we fail, may the Light avenge all those we make to suffer.
—Grimoire: Shadows of Yor
The death of Dredgen Yor at the hands of Shin Malphur, was not simply the end of a man; it was the beginning of a legacy. When the renegade hunter pulled the trigger on the Last Word, he expected the link You had forged with him so many years ago to vanish. Instead, that bond was strengthened beyond belief.
As Shin stood over the body of Yor, he felt joy at first, having finally achieved his vengeance. But something ate at the hunter’s mind; Dredgen Yor, the man who had out gunned Jaren Ward, a man who couldn’t be outgunned, was dead at his feet, the infamous Thorn still resting in its holster. Until this moment, Shin had never cared to look beyond his quest for retribution, never tried to see events as Yor head, but as soon as he did, the man that he had been began to fade.
“So, when Jaren faced him down, Yor gave him the first shot, offered freely. But Jaren’s lead wasn’t enough. And when Yor replied, his sickness consumed Jaren’s Light and left me, once again, an orphan. Once again, weighed down by sorrow and anger. Yor sought to gift me Jaren’s prize as a means to tempt me. And it did. When that gun finally met my hand again, it was the catalyst that drove me to find a way to avenge all I had loved. It was a selfish pursuit.
But when Yor and I finally met on the flat, high ridge, I was ready, and, as I would come to find, so was he. Ready to offer his final lesson, his final gift. A final push toward my true destiny.
One that would put me at odds with heroes in order to ensure our worlds are filled with fewer monsters. It was a path I was sure to walk alone, until I found others, until I found trust.
Until I found hidden value in that which I had always feared…
—A Shadow’s Worth:For Every Rose, a Thorn
After leaving Dwindler’s Ridge, Shin’s existence had become a sort of duality. On the surface, he was a bright hero hellbent on burning away the last shreds of Yor’s influence. Beneath this though, he was the shadow cast by his own light. Taking the name Zyre Orsa, Shin, along with another Guardian, Teben Grey, journeyed to the sky above Dwindler’s Ridge, where Yor’s ship still idled, unmoving. Inside, beyond whispers that caused their ears to bleed, they discovered ancient, indecipherable Hive text scrawled throughout the interior of the ship. While at first they were unable to translate it, eventually dealings with the Cryptarchs led them to discover the existence of the Books of Sorrow, Hive texts older than all life on Earth. They determined to put what they learned into a book of their own, a 7th Book of Sorrow. Together, Orsa and Grey uncovered the truth behind the horrific legend Dredgen Yor had shrouded himself in. Beneath the layers of shadow was not a monster, but a man, a fallen hero named Rezyl Azzir.
Rezyl had tried and failed to stop the darkness. By the time he became aware of his own corruption, it was too late to halt it. However, despite the atrocities that would be committed by the former hero, the destruction of Palamon and the murder of Jaren Ward being only a few, Rezyl, now Dredgen Yor, would leave behind some measure of hope in the form of Shin Malphur. After killing Jaren, Shin’s second father, Yor ensured that The Last Word would end up in the young man’s hands. Jaren’s ghost accused Yor of trying to fuel Shin’s anger, and he was, but there was so much more to it than simply that. From the moment he laid his hands on The Last Word’s pommel, the fresh Hunter’s path was set.
Nonetheless, we continue to piece together truths from dead words and arcane ritual. The purpose of our efforts, however sinister they may appear, is to grasp the unknown so it may be challenged should the time come when we are faced with its ire.
—I: Cages, Book of Unmaking
Upon discovering the truth behind Yor’s legend, “Zyre Orsa’s” suspicions were confirmed: Yor was not some indescribable evil, he was simply a hero that had fallen too far into the dark to come out. Finding this truth didn’t sate Orsa and Grey’s curiosity, however. They wondered if there could be some value that could be gleaned from the use of shadow, and if such a power could be controlled and wielded without being overwhelmed. To successfully do so would mean succeeding where Yor failed, and by extent continuing the legacy he had left for Shin. And thus began the Shadows of Yor, founded by Zyre Orsa, now Dredgen Vale, and Teben Grey, now Dredgen Bane. They joined with others, Callum Sol (Dredgen Cull), Eli (Dredgen Hope), Jonah Pavic (Dredgen Mire), Xana Maas (Dredgen Scarr), and Braga Yasuul (Dredgen Totalus). Together they sought to harness the dark in service of the good of all, to evolve beyond what they were now. They were aware that they themselves, along with innocents may suffer as a result of their foray into the unknown, but this was accepted, necessary even. But even after his “evolution”, the legendary man with the Golden Gun was not completely gone.
I thought it would take some convincing, but Cull has agreed to splinter from the group. Not in actuality, but as bait for the Renegade. Our rival has given us rope with which to hang ourselves but the further we embark down our path, the more that rope begins to tighten. What we must do next—the next steps in our continued evolution—will surely be seen as a bridge too far. A confrontation seems inevitable. Unless we can make plays that shift our hunter’s focus.
I have some concern that Vale’s plan will lead the misguided among our growing number to overreach their ambition—to venture beyond their means and fall forever into the abyss. But then, if the Renegade is truly the threat we proclaim, such worry is misplaced as he will no doubt play his part and thin the herd, as it were. Of course, there is a price beyond the blood of the lesser among our ilk. Cull will be missed, but remembered for his sacrifice.
—Anger: For Every Rose a Thorn
Despite Shin’s now steadfast belief in the necessity of shadow, he did not let his old persona die. Instead, he used his own fame as a tool to manipulate the Shadows of Yor, and those among them that would threaten the cause. Within the group, there were Guardians that delved too deeply into the dark, and were becoming lost in it as Yor had been. Shin made sure to hunt these individuals down wherever possible and execute them, while maintaining his identity of Dredgen Vale inside the Shadows. To onlookers, it appeared as though the Renegade was aggressively pursuing any who would follow in Yor’s footsteps, but in reality, he was simply ensuring the purity of those who did.
At some point, the number of Shadows losing themselves to the dark became too great, and Vale developed a plan to have one of their members, Dredgen Cull, act as though he had fully embraced the abyss, and splinter from the main group. In doing so, others that had fallen would follow him, showing the unworthy within the Shadows. The plan was a success, and two distinct groups now existed: the original Shadows of Yor, and Cull’s Shadows, a corrupted version filled with madmen. Stepping into his role as the Renegade Hunter, Shin “hunted down” Dredgen Cull and cornered him. They briefly exchanged words, before Shin killed him on the spot. The death of Cull angered his followers, many of which rose up in his name, further revealing themselves as Shin had hoped. Using this to his advantage, he began to hunt down and eliminate as many of Cull’s shadows as possible, all while hiding his true identity from any observers.
My name is Shin Malphur.
My name is Zyre Orsa.
My name is Dredgen Vale.
And all who fall to Darkness will answer to my steel.
The Shadows. The Drifter’s Gambit. The seeding of fear, that the infamous “Man with the Golden Gun” was on the hunt, blinded by allegiance to the Light and gunning for all who tempt the Darkness. A necessary deception. Offering two paths in order to draw out those eager for power beyond their means.
Malfeasance was a gift, a sample to gauge the true hearts of those who reveled in the Drifter’s games. Those sated by its wicked power were kin enough to know their limits. Those hungry for more? A danger worth tracking. In some cases, a danger in need of confrontation.
But the game has only just begun, and I risk much like this here, me offering you the olive branch of truth and trust. Yes, I have led you to believe I was your friend and the Shadows my enemy and yours. If all I have just revealed calls that into question, know that it shouldn’t. The Shadows are a danger. We are guided by the evolved and controlled methods of Dredgen Yor, except instead of death and destruction, I am offering the mysteries and powers of the Darkness as bait for those who would otherwise go freely into the abyss.
I have built the perfect trap with which to cull the weak-willed.
And it is working.
—Revelations and Invitations: For Every Rose a Thorn
Aside from the Shadows, Dredgen Vale also used his alter ego to manipulate the Guardians of the Last City, via the Drifter, formerly Dredgen Hope, and his Gambit. Gambit serves as both test and temptation, revealing those with a taste for powers beyond the light. The forging of Malfeasance was used to separate those in Gambit who were content with what they were given, and those that hungered for more. The ones who hungered were marked with Shin’s interest. They could either be like the true Shadows of Yor, sharing the belief that the dark can be wielded without succumbing to it, or they could go the route of the fallen Shadows, becoming obsessed. If the latter occurred, Shin would be there to eliminate them before they could do harm. There is one in particular whom Shin has his eye on, a young Guardian who became known as a hero of the Red War. Maybe, just maybe, this Guardian and others like them will be able to walk that thin line between light and dark. If they can, then Shin’s gambit has paid off. If not, then the consequences may be greater than humanity can endure. Time will tell.