Feature image artwork by amykim89.tumblr.com
Buckle up, Guardians, and put on your Spinfoil hats. Because this week, we’re tackling a endlessly inspiring, endlessly fascinating, and endlessly frustrating topic: Thorn. And more specifically, the identity of Dredgen Yor.
Since the days of Vanilla Destiny, Thorn has been one of the community’s favorite subjects. The corruption of a Guardian. The showdown on Dwindler’s Ridge. The Spaghetti Space Western-ness of it all. And some of the creepiest Grimoire cards in the game.
But one question remained: who was Dredgen Yor, before Thorn corrupted him? Many theories have been offered: Jaren Ward is Yor. Shin Malphur is Yor. Pujari is Dredgen Yor!
Well, it appears that the current best argument for Yor’s prior identity is Rezyl Azzir, the Titan hero introduced in The Dark Below. Let’s take a look at why this seems the best answer, but also at some complications in the plot.
First, our friends over at Destiny Lore Cast devoted their recent episode #6 to the subject of everyone’s favorite hand cannon. If you want to hear a very in-depth discussion of some of the theories that still swirl around the thorn, it’s well worth a listen. I’ve drawn some of the same conclusions as they have, but they share some additional thoughts and possibilities on air that you should hear for yourself.
The latest revelation about Yor’s identity, shared with the release of Rise of Iron, is found in the Legends and Mysteries: Rezyl Azzir Grimoire card. In it, Rezyl finally travels to Luna, in search of the Hive. To the Summoning Pits, specifically. There he meets Xyor, the Hive Wizard that the player had to kill in Year One to complete the “A Light in the Dark” Thorn quest. That, in itself, is a big moment that suggests if nothing else a link between Rezyl and Xyor.
The other evidence is subtle, and comes from story parallels between Rezyl Azzir’s Grimoire cards and Thorn’s Grimoire cards. There are a host of shared words and tropes – Rezyl’s and Yor’s shared obsession with Luna, the references to North Channel in Thorn: 4 and Rezyl Azzir – War Without End, and the repeated comparisons of “Hope” in the cards of Thorn and Rezyl. Finally, Rise of Iron treated us to this excellent thematic link:
[u.2:5.9] I stole the dark.
[u.2:6.0] Or, maybe it stole me.
Legends and Mysteries: Rezyl Azzir
“Rezyl had come looking for the terrors that hide just beyond the light.
He found them.
…they found him.”
Unfortunately, I don’t have the space here to list every parallel, but Ragashingo on the DBO forums lays most of them out.
It’s these moments that make it hard to argue against Rezyl becoming Yor. That said, there are some interesting counter-theories. Most of these focus on the fact that Azzir is referred to as a Titan, and that Yor is evidently a Hunter. That’s assumed because Hunters can pick of Yor’s Cloak as a class item, and his Rose as an artifact. But there are two notable pieces of information that make this counter-argument less tenable.
The first is from long, long ago, in Ghost Fragment: Thorn “Same meat. Same bone. But so very, very different.” This line implies that, when he became corrupted, Rezyl could have changed “class” as well. The second piece of evidence comes from Iron Lords: Felwinter. In this Grimoire card, Lord Felwinter, a Warlock, is nonetheless shown using a Shoulder Charge, which he declares he learned from Lady Jolder. All of this is to say that Guardian classes appear to be much more variable than they are for in-game players.
[toggle title=”Ghost Fragment: Thorn” state=”close” ]
The noble man stood. And the people looked to him. For he was a beacon – hope given form, yet still only a man. And within that truth there was great promise. If one man could stand against the night, then so too could anyone – everyone.
In his strong hand the man held a Rose. And his aura burned bright.
When the man journeyed on, the people remembered. In his wake hope spread. But the man had a secret fear. His thoughts were dark. A sadness crept from the depths of his being. He had been a hero for so long, but pride had led him down sorrow’s road.
Slowly the shadows’ whisper became a voice, a dark call, offering glories enough to make even the brightest Light wander. He knew he was fading, yet he still yearned.
On his last day he sat and watched the sun fall. His final thoughts, pure of mind, if not body, held to a fleeting hope – though they would suffer for the man he would become, the people would remember him as he had been.
And so the noble man hid himself beneath a darkness no flesh should touch, and gave up his mortal self to claim a new birthright. Whether this was choice, or destiny, is a truth known only to fate.
In that cool evening air, as dusk was devoured by night, the noble man ceased to exist. In his place another stood.
Same meat. Same bone. But so very different.
The first and only of his family. The sole forbearer and last descendent of the name Yor.
In his first moments as a new being, he looked down at his Rose and realized for the first time that it held no petals: only the jagged purpose of angry thorns.
Rezyl beginning his second life as a Titan doesn’t appear to necessitate that he stayed a Titan, according to the other clues in Grimoire. He could have changed into a Hunter, stayed a TItan and worn a cloak, or been…neither. That’s right, neither – because in Thorn: 4, Yor’s Guardian class is listed only as “[REDACTED].” Sure, this could be for the sake of keeping the mystery – or it could be because his actual class was something “very, very different” from those we’re familiar with.
But the biggest mystery left to this theory is that we don’t know what happened to Rezyl in the Summoning Pits. Legends and Mysteries: Rezyl Azzir ends on a cliffhanger, with our bold hero engaging Xyor in mortal combat. We’ll talk about that more in Part 2.
For now, here’s the absolute biggest issue with this theory: it’s a theory that is very much unconfirmed. That Rezyl Azzir became Dredgen Yor is heavily, heavily suggested – but the Grimoire stops far short of saying as much. This is a theme in Destiny, as you may have noticed. And until there’s outright proof, the safe bet is to not bet at all. The recent Grimoire entry featuring Xyor goes to such lengths to elicit a parallel between Yor and Azzir that it seems too straightforward.
That said, there’s one last clue that’s – well, it’s barely a clue at all. But it’s the one that pushed me over the edge into the Rezyl camp: Dredgen Yor wanted to die. There’s nowhere this is more apparent than in Thorn:4, in which Dredgen Yor speaks to Jaren Ward’s Ghost after murdering Ward.
[u.1:3.4] A man can be killed.
[u.2:3.6] And there it is…
[u.1:3.5] There what is…?
[u.2:3.7] A sliver of hope.
[toggle title=”Ghost Fragment: Thorn 4″ state=”close” ]
PARTIES: Two . One  Ghost-type, designate [REDACTED] [u.1], One  Guardian-type, Class [REDACTED] [u.2]
ASSOCIATIONS: Breaklands; Durga; Dwindler’s Ridge; Last Word; Malphur, Shin; North Channel; Palamon; Thorn; Velor; Ward, Jaren; WoS; Yor, Dredgen;
[u.1:0.1] Such Darkness.
[u.1:0.2] Far from it.
[u.2:0.2] To each their own.
[u.1:0.3] His Light is faded.
[u.2:0.3] His Light is gone.
[u.1:0.4] You are an infection.
[u.2:0.4] I am that which will cleanse.
[u.1:0.5] You are a monster.
[u.2:0.5] Heh. An old friend once saw me as the same. He was right, and, had we met earlier, so too would you be.
[u.1:0.6] You’d dare defend yourself – all you’ve done – as anything but monstrous?
[u.2:0.6] No more than a hurricane.
[u.1:0.7] Then you’re a force of nature?
[u.2:0.7] I am all that is right. You may not see it – for lack of looking, or blind ignorance – but I am all that is good.
[u.1:0.8] You’ve just murdered a good man.
[u.2:0.8] He shot first.
[u.1:0.9] Yet you stand.
[u.2:0.9] Guess he missed.
[u.1:1.0] He never misses.
[u.2:1.0] First time for everything.
[u.2:1.1] His cannon? Nice piece of hardware.
[u.2:1.2] Well-worn, but clean. Smooth hammer.
[u.1:1.1] It was his prize.
[u.2:1.3] Guess he put too much faith in the wrong steel.
[u.1:1.2] Is that where your faith lies, in steel?
[u.2:1.4] Not for some time. My steel is only an extension. My faith is in the shadow.
[u.1:1.3] Then my Light is an affront to all you are. I am your truest enemy.
[u.2:1.5] One of many.
[u.1:1.4] Would you end me?
[u.2:1.6] Not you. Not now.
[u.1:1.5] The shadow knows mercy.
[u.2:1.7] The shadow knows no such thing.
[u.1:1.6] Then what?
[u.2:1.8] The other.
[u.1:1.7] What other?
[u.2:1.9] The dead man’s charge.
[u.1:1.8] The boy?
[u.1:1.9] You’d end him as well?
[u.2:2.0] If it comes to that… We’ll see.
[u.1:2.0] I won’t let you have the child.
[u.2:2.1] Been long enough now, think maybe he’s a man.
[u.1:2.1] You cannot have him.
[u.2:2.2] Not yet.
[u.1:2.2] I won’t let you.
[u.2:2.3] That you could stop me is an amusing thought.
[u.2:2.5] Take it.
[u.2:2.6] Give the apprentice his master’s “sword.” It is a gift.
[u.1:2.4] You cannot have him.
[u.2:2.7] You fear for his Light?
[u.2:2.8] …is special.
[u.2:2.9] I am aware.
[u.1:2.7] You’re trying to tempt him. You’re feeding his anger.
[u.2:3.0] The gun is a memento, nothing more.
[u.1:2.8] You claim to be a vessel, a hollow shell where once a man stood, but that is just a lie. The man is still in you.
[u.2:3.1] There is no man here, I am now, and for the rest of time, only Dredgen Yor.
[u.1:2.9] “The Eternal Abyss?”
[u.2:3.2] So, not all the forgotten languages are dead.
[u.1:3.0] Hide behind whatever titles you wish, it is all still a façade. No force of nature would play such games.
[u.1:3.1] The cannon. You wish to tempt the boy. To spur him on and fuel his rage. There is intent there. The actions of a man, monstrous, mad or otherwise… you are nothing more.
[u.2:3.4] And what value does your conclusion bring, flawed as it may be?
[u.1:3.2] That a hurricane can only be weathered, not stopped. Not redirected. A force of nature is uncaring and without intent, but a man…
[u.1:3.3] A man is none of those things.
[u.1:3.4] A man can be killed.
[u.2:3.6] And there it is…
[u.1:3.5] There what is…?
[u.2:3.7] A sliver of hope.
In addition to sparing Ward’s Ghost, Yorhas left behind The Last Word, telling the Ghost to give it to Shin Malphur. Here we see that the man who Ward’s Ghost tells Yor still exists under all the horror – the one whom the Dark corrupted, the one who murdered Pahanin and Jaren Ward – can still be killed. It’s not Ward’s Ghost’s final sliver of hope that this could happen – it’s Yor’s hope. In Last Word: 4, it does – and Yor makes no attempt to stop it:
“I walked to his corpse. He never raised his cursed Thorn – the jagged gun with the festering sickness.” So says Shin Malphur, after felling Yor.
This is how the Rezyl Azzir Grimoire card “Before these walls?” begins:
“Rezyl Azzir was a man.”
Not only is this a parallel in word choice, but it’s also a mythological reference, and Bungie’s keen on those. Think back to the Odyssey, when Odysseus puts out Polyphemus’ one eye – no man has put out my eye, remember? The same thing is happening here. Rezyl Azzir is A Man. A Man can be killed. A Man is Dredgen Yor. Rezyl Azzir is Dredgen Yor.