Long ago, the Eliksni were a great and advanced civilization, whose presence and influence spanned systems, and whose art and science cast. This was largely due to the presence of The Great Machine, a strange orb that appeared above the Eliksni homeworld and catalyzed a Golden Age of scientific and cultural advancement.
Yes, it appears that The Traveler has made a series of stops along its meandering path across the universe, and the Eliksni benefited from its presence as much as we did.
Their planet was, as the Grimoire card “Mystery: Vault of Glass” tells us,
A paradise. Carefully tended lakes and rivers, water everywhere, wind their way between fields of lush iridescent crops and into groves of starkly colored trees. Every inch of the land seems engineered, brushed by a sculptor’s hand for form and function both. The sky is a light pink, spotted with clouds and crowded with ships. Thick lanes of aerial traffic soar through the air, tightly managed and seemingly endless. And beyond it all, above the clouds, hangs a perfect alabaster sphere. The image wobbles, shaking, flickering as if the Ghost is blinking. And the fragment ends.
Unfortunately, this idyllic society didn’t last. Just like us, the Fallen experienced their own great collapse. They call it “The Whirlwind,” and it left their society in ruins. In his Grimoire card, Variks, the Loyal, gives an abbreviated history of the Fallen: “First, the Great Machine. Then, sky fell away. Whirlwind ripped away the past. All honor lost, all hope. Judgment not enough. Cannot keep Wolves from Kings, Scar from Winter. Fell to fighting. Fell to hate.” Of course, we don’t know what this catastrophe actually was – although it seems likely that it is the same “Darkness” that now haunts humanity.
At this point, the Eliksni succumbed to chaos and infighting, and their species slowly fell from their former grace, becoming the cutthroat pirates and scavengers we know and love. Eventually, they chase The Great Machine all the way to earth, and go about trying to kill off humanity and steal it back.
The Fallen are organized into Houses, resembling the feudal structure of humanity’s medieval age. These Houses act as individual groups, much as Risen Warlords did during the beginning of humanity’s rebirth. They fight amongst each other as much as they do against the other races of the Destiny universe, and lack centralized leadership.
Fallen society was – and still is – made up of various Houses, all of which appear to have held a particular function. To date, humanity has engaged in active conflict with several of these groups, and are aware of several more. With that in mind, let us examine what we do know about the Fallen Houses.
House of Judgement
“House Judgement, wait.” – Variks, the Loyal
To our knowledge, Variks, the Loyal is the only existing member of House Judgement. He is also the source for most of what we know about this faction, namely that “the House of Judgment that once kept codes of dignity and law.” Variks himself was once a Judgement scribe, and is now intent on preserving and rebuilding his House.
House Judgement appears to have been responsible for preserving order among the other Houses. As Variks tells us, “I hear. House of Judgment always hears. No choice. Has to. To keep Houses together. Had to.”
Variks believes that in order for the Fallen to defy extinction, and to regain some of their former Eliksni glory, House Judgement must survive.
House of Stone
The House of Stone is only mentioned twice in-game, in the flavor text for the King’s Fall weapons, “Doom of Chelchis,” and once in the flavor text for the legendary Warlock artifact “Broken Crown.”
The former states: “Where is the Great Machine? Where is the Great Machine?”— Chelchis, Kell of Stone
And the latter adds: “Eliksni songs still tell of Chelchis, Kell of Stone, who stood before the Maw.”
As all of the King’s Fall weapons appear to show the last moments of the character referenced in the respective flavor text, it is likely that Chelchis, whoever they were, was killed by the might of Oryx, Taken King. However, the wording of the Broken Crown text suggests that this particular death occurred at some point in the Eliksnki antiquity, due to the inclusion of the word “Still.”
The “Maw” referenced in this text is a bit more ambiguous. Based on the multiple references in the Books of Sorrow to Oryx and the Hive as “devourers,” it seems likely that it refers to the Hive. But there are other devourers – the Hive worms, and perhaps the darkness itself.
It seems that Chelchis was searching for the Traveler – the “Great Machine” – when they were killed. And if Houses are named, as Variks suggests, for what they are – particularly Houses that existed concurrently with the Whilrwind, perhaps this offers a clue as to the purpose of the House of Stone.
House of Scar
Again, we know nothing about this Fallen House, save that they were at one point in conflict with the House of Winter. Variks, in describing the chaos that ensued following the Whirlwind, says that House Judgement was not enough to “Keep Wolves from Kings, Scar from Winter.”
With this in mind, it seems likely that Scar is, if not extinct, hamstrung due to infighting.
House of Rain
The House of Rain was one of the most indirectly important Fallen Houses referenced in The House of Wolves. It appears that House Rain was, at least to a degree, made up soothsayers or seers. This was the group that predicted the rise of the Kell of Kells, as was delivered in a series of House of Wolves bounties:
“Before him, foes will flee or fall. But he will heal the houses, make them whole.” – Gone to Ground Bounty
“The Great Machine will marvel, moved by might, and come to crown him Kell of Kells.” – The Kell of Kells Bounty
“What Whirlwind whisked away will be rewrought, and every Kell and Ketch will kneel to the Kell of Kells.” – The Hunt for Skolas Bounty
What’s interesting to note about House Rain is that it shares a very close link to real-life human mythology. Not only are the prophesies alliterative, in the manner of Norse poetry, but House Rain appears to function similarly to Norse Völva, or seeresses. In the Poetic Edda, which is the creation myth that describes the beginning of the world as well as Ragnarok, the seeress narrator tells us that humanity experiences a descent into “A wind age, a wolf age.”
Clever listeners may have heard Master Rahool mutter these same words in-game, and they have their parallel in Variks’ speech: the Fallen were destroyed by an age of wind (or, Whirlwind) and wolf (or, House of Wolves).
The House of Devils
“House Devils, plot.” – Variks, the Loyal
Expect to learn more about the House of Devils in Rise of Iron, as they remain one of the largest surviving Fallen Houses. In addition to maintaining a presence in the Cosmodrome, the Devils were at the forefront of the assault on Twilight Gap, and Lakshmi-2 tells us that it was they who razed London.
Solkis, their last known Kell, ultimately had his skull caved in after a headbutt from Saint-14, which is pretty metal. After that, the Devils were lead by Riksis, Devil Archon, until the player removes him from existence as well. In the final assault on the Devil stronghold, Prime Servitor Sepiks is also relieved of the burden of being.
In the Rise of Iron, it is the House of Devils who uncover SIVA, and go about splicing the nanovirus into their own bodies in an attempt to “Become machine gods themselves.” Currently, we do not know how the Splicers see themselves in relation to the rest of the Devils – whether they consider themselves members of the same house, or a separate faction entirely.
The House of Exile
The House of Exiles is a self-proclaimed House, recently formed from Fallen who were unwilling to join with the other Houses, and particularly with Skolas’ Wolf Rebellion. They have no centralized leadership. They maintain a presence on the moon, and appear to be interested in the secrets of the Hive.
The House of Winter
“House Winter, attack.” – Variks, the Loyal
The House of Winter is one of the most militant Fallen Houses encountered in the game, and maintains a presence on Venus, but has lost some of their strength after the Guardians soundly defeat them in a series of battles in Y1 Destiny. The player kills Draksis, Winter Kell, and also puts an end to Winter’s attempts to rebuild during the Winter’s Run strike. House Winter, led by Taniks, the Scarred, breaks into the Prison of Elders and releases Aksor, Archon Priest. However, the Guardian ends this comeback before it can begin, and reduces Aksor to ashes.
The House of Wolves
“House Wolves, circle.” – Variks, the Loyal
The House of Wolves, in addition to being the name for Destiny’s 2nd DLC, is the Fallen House that became embroiled in the Reef Wars. Under the direction of Virixas, their Kell, the Wolves were making their way through the Reef to help their Fallen comrades destroy humanity at Twilight Gap when Queen Mara Sov interceded and prevented them from joining combat. Virixas was killed, and after some clever maneuvering Mara Sov became Kell of Wolves.
Of course, we know from our own experience that Skolas, the Rabid, encourages the Wolves to revolt. Eventually, we track him down and kill him, and we crush the remaining Wolf forces as well.
Now, get your spinfoil hats ready. There’s a good chance that Skolas has a brother. Again, the evidence here is found in Norse myth. In the Jarnvi∂r (which means Ironwood in Old Norse), a giantess named Angrbo∂a raises two fearsome wolves who will take part in Ragnarok. The first is name Skoll, He who Mocks. He second is Háti, He who Hates. They are doomed to swallow the sun and the moon. Here’s the original text, fromGrímnismál:
Skoll is the wolf / that to Ironwood
Follows the glittering god,
And the son of Hrothvitnir, / Hati, awaits
The burning bride of heaven.
It seems pretty likely that Skolas, Kell of Wolves, takes his name from Skoll. Skolas even “mocks” the player on several occasions. And so it seems likely that he would have an in-game brother who would be linked to Háti. But why haven’t we seen him? Because, as the Norse text tells us, Háti is waiting. And the Grimoire has told us of another group that hides and lies in wait: The House of Kings.
I’m not the only person to make this link. TitanSpitfire on the Bungie forums wrote a post on the subject long ago, and it goes into more depth.
The House of Kings
“House Kings, plan.” – Variks, the Loyal
The Kings appear to have been responsible for marshaling Houses Winter, Devils, and Wolves into battle at Twilight Gap. After that, the Kings have grown quiet, and seem to be keeping themselves out of the chaos that followed the Reef Wars and the Wolves Rebellion.
We know little of the current state of the House of Kings, except that they seek to rule the Fallen, and that they are very clever. In the Grimoire card for Paskin, King Baron, Uldren Sov tells us this:
“Their power is matched only by their cleverness. They rule the Devils from the shadows and came too close to toppling the City not once, but twice. We don’t know much about them, but we know this: the Kings want the Traveler.”
And in the card for Vekis, King Baron, Uldren tells us that “Of the Kell of Kings, we know nothing. Wherever, whoever it is, it remains hidden, even when the so-called Kell of Kells comes to its borders.” What this tells us is that we have not yet encountered what is potentially the most dangerous of the Fallen Houses, or the Kell who leads it.
However, we can guess. Based on Norse myth, and the apparent animosity between the House of Wolves (led by Skolas) and the House of Kings – the two Baron ambassadors mentioned above are thought to have been sent to assassinate Yavek, a Wolf ambassador – it seems very possible that the Kell of Kings is Skolas’ brother. After all, nothing breeds hatred quite like bad blood between family.
Interestingly, Aksoro, the Archon Priest encountered in Winter’s Run, appears to sport the yellow banners of the House of Kings rather than those of House Winter. There are also scattered Kings members located throughout Old Russia. Besides these scattered references, the only clue to the character of the House of Kings comes from Variks’ dialog in step 14 of the House of Wolves campaign: “House of Kings. Name comes from the old world, from before the Whirlwind. Most Houses carry their name for pride. Kings carry their name because … is what they are.”
Perhaps this suggests that the Kings were the one-time leaders of the Eliksni. Perhaps it suggests only that the Kings are responsible for directing – whether overtly or secretly – the remaining Fallen Houses. Whatever the answer, the Kings appear to be a serious threat to the Last City and to humanity’s existence.
What’s to Come?