Listen well, young Wraithling, for though we live now in the grasp of night far beyond the stars where we rose from the Hungry Dark, there is wisdom to be found in those legends of our past.
For it is a truth that you can taste in the Dreaming that the emissaries of the Hungry One were living spirits that walked, their shadows containing the retribution for those who had risen in hubris and called upon us the wrath and destruction of our own making.
All was not as it is now. We had destroyed the great Enemy, and ruled the seas of stars, feasting in a way on sentient life that had been forbidden by the dictates of the Wise.
And then the Spirits came, the Warrior, the Thinker, the DreamWalker, the Healer, the Runner and the Half-Wild and in the Cycle Longest Day the will of the Hungry One was made manifest.
So listen well, you Wraithling, for it is said that if we do not heed the lessons of the past then we will Wake to find vengeance once again walking among us with familiar faces
You have heard of Whikeran Dark-Hand, the Waster, who was taken by the Healer and transformed into the one called Michael, one of the First. In those days, Michael did not know his destiny, and all his Wraith-thought knew was that he could not feed as once he could, he could not feel as once he could, and there was no place for him with That-Which-Is-Wraith, or with that which is prey.
Imagine now, young Wraithling, to be cast out of the Dreaming, not just for a night, but forever and to yet feel it around you. Imagine now, feeding and finding your Hunger remains. Imagine then realising that you are alone in the night and would be forever more!
Whikeran, before the Healer had touched him, had been a Waster in many ways, not just with food but with his mind and abilities. With no brotherband to help him, he was forced to think for himself, and act, although driven mad by the changes made within his body and mind, he vowed vengeance upon the Healer and all that had rejected him. It was a madness born of separation and grief for what he had lost, for he had yet to see that which he had gained.
So it was, as he had been stolen, then he stole away the Healer from his own Brotherband, making them believe that there was no one to rescue, for he knew the Warrior would not rest if he knew one of his brothers had been captured -- which is as it should be.
The Beckett was wearing the form of flesh and blood, and then it seemed an easy thing for the one called Michael to vent his hurt and pain upon him as he imprisoned him. He stole the Healer's wisdom from his very mind and in doing so set into motion changes he could never have believed. Whikeran wished for a brotherband loyal only to him, so he used the magics of the Healer and created those who would serve only him. He did not realise he was but creating drones, not That-Which-Is-Wraith.
The Beckett endured through all the torments he could devise, and Michael -Once-Whikeran was privately humbled by his continuing faith in his own Brotherband.
"They will not come for you," he would taunt his captive. "Humans are but prey and do not have ties of loyalty."
For as every Wraith believed, humans did not possess the Dreaming, and how then could they have ties to other humans that would not break more easily than a single white hair under the simplest of pressure?
"They will come," the Beckett would say even as the time turned and more and yet more things were taken from him, body and mind. "The Sheppard will not forsake me, the McKay is as my own brother, the R'non would slaughter an army of Wraith with his own hands to find me and the Em-Ma-Gen would sense me here for she can track the thought of me through your Dreams."
And then it was that Michael-once-Whikeran of the Dark-Hand saw in the form of the Em-Ma-Gen the answer to that which puzzled him. There would be the secrets of creating those like himself, but those who could be Dreamers, and Thinkers and Warriors. He resolved immediately to pursue the Em-Ma-Gen and in preparation he set a most terrible thing upon the Hunting Dark. The Uncertain Death.
Imagine, young Wraithling, when the Hunger is bright and you are presented with that which is your favourite food. Now consider as you taste of it through your feeding, the sweetness turns to bitter pain, that your insides burn and bubble with a black poison and you would die in agony with barely enough time to cast your essence to the Dreamer of your Hive. This then was the Uncertain Death. Michael-once-Whikeran cast this among humans, and it took a terrible cost from them as well, but it meant Hunting Parties could be bringing death to their own Hives unknown, unseen and unbidden.
This then was the Uncertain Death, a thing created from madness and vengeance, the stolen forbidden knowledge of the spirits -- for the Healer fought against it though it would harm Wraith as well as humans. Know this of the Healer, he would abhor death for any kind, save his own and this was something That-Which-Is-Wraith had lost in the many many Cycles of the Long Sleeps.
In the end, as inevitable as the turning of the stars, the devouring of the night by the Hungry One, the Warrior came for his lost brother drawn by a call of Honour that could not be denied and bore him away, unstoppable and inexorable. And this as we have said before, is as it should be.
There are those that say the Uncertain Death was the vengeance of the Healer upon the Wraith for the suffering he endured. But as we know now, young Wraithling, all of this was what had to be before Michael-Once-Whikeran found his true destiny and his own terrible hurt would finally be healed.
In the Cycle of the Longest Day, there were those that practised the art of Turning those of their prey to their will so that they would then feed their minds with their constant adulation and devotion and their Hunger with those of their own kind who they would give as gifts of their worship. For in that time, That-Which-Is-Wraith were as the Hungry One is to our kind to those of the Hunting Dark and there would be those who bowed before their power -- and there would be those who would spit defiance and would be all the sweeter to Turn.
Ektarin of the Twisted-Hand Hive was a Dreamer who delighted in Turning. The practise is now abhorrent for it uses the sacred bond of the Giving that should only be shared between brothers and uses it for a base purpose. Nevertheless, in those corrupt times of the Cycle of the Longest Days, it was not an uncommon occurrence and of those that did this, Ektarin considered himself the paramount in all the Hives that tracked the Hunting Dark.
His skill, it was said, was due to his skills as a Dreamer as well as the Giving. For as he would feed, he would cast the prey's mind into shadow and the bitter cold of approaching death, and then with the returning, when the sweetness of Life flowed once again into them, he would give them visions of warmth, wonder and ecstasy that bound them to him.
"There is none, no matter how strong who I cannot make my devoted worshipper," he would tell his brothers. "Though their hearts be filled with dark fire and passion, I will take them and before the dawning of their own sun, they will be mine for I will have their soul and their heart and it will be all the sweeter."
Then his brothers tired of his many boasts and said. "There is one who you would not be able to Turn for he is too strong. He is the one that defeated Half-Lock, he is the one that no Wraith could defeat."
Ektarin Twisted-Hand inclined his head. "You speak of the Runner. And I say, I would also Turn him to serve at my feet, to bare his throat to my feeding hand and accept my praise with joy."
His brotherband was not so sure, for all had heard through the Dreaming of the deeds of the Runner, particularly as the Warrior had taken him as one of his own.
"Then I will prove this to you, for if I Turn him, I will strike at the heart of our enemies and our Hive and our Queen will be most pleased." Nothing then would suffice than Ekatrin spending his every moment planning his action.
But surely no one would hope to Turn the Runner, I hear you say, young Wraithling. Who would have the pride to imagine this was possible? Well, herein lies the secret -- Ektarin had once taken those who had been of the R'non's first brothers and he had turned those who were as close as kin brothers to him. So he believed in his heart the R'non would be easy prey.
So it was, by planning and a long time searching through the Hunting Dark, Ektarin Twisted-Hand ensnared the Runner and had him brought before him, relishing the defiance and rage that stained the very air around him. Never had he had a prey so strong and yet he felt confident this one would crumble just as his brother had.
And yet, though delivered by the one that had been his brothers, the R'non resisted. He resisted many many days, and Ektarin experienced doubt in his hidden thoughts, because, like all Wraith, he now knew that when you took that of the Warrior, sooner or later the Warrior would come for you.
This then was his plan. He sought to turn a brother against brother, to defeat the Warrior with his strongest brother and all then would sing his praises during the Dreaming for cycles to come.
In his concentration, he did not heed that he had let the traitor-brother of the Runner alone to die. He could not conceive that any such would have mercy upon one who had delivered one of their own to an enemy. In this, the Wraith way was clear, for if a Turned one was to be punished they would be set free, for even human prey would turn on those who had betrayed them.
Gradually it seemed, little by little, he Turned the one called Runner, and he Dreamed great triumph to his brotherband, and glory for them all with this warrior serving their Hive. So pleased was he that he did not question when the one he had cast out before returned bringing the Warrior Sheppard as a gift for him.
"I shall test this one I have turned. I will have him kill the Warrior. That will prove my superiority to all" he said to his brothers.
"We have heard of the Warrior," his brothers replied. "If you can do this it will be a great triumph."
So it was commanded, and Ektarin's pride surged as the Runner struck down his beloved brother -- and then there was chagrin that it had not been a fatal blow. This was most unsettling to him, young Wraithling, for never before had a Turned one failed to do all he had commanded. But surely, he reasoned, this would be enough, as brother did not strike brother, and perhaps it was fortuitous as would it not be an even greater coup to Turn the Warrior himself?
So full of pride was Ektarin that the only thought was how this could be done, and he did not hear the warnings of his brothers. For the honour of the Sheppard ran deeper than any of them could comprehend and he had done that which they thought was impossible. As Ektarin had Turned the brother of R'non and stripped him of a warrior's honour, so the Sheppard had restored it to him. And as we know, the value of Honour is greater than any other bond, greater than life itself, and so the lost brother of the Runner regained his right to his name and a remembrance in our Dreaming.
Tyre the Betrayer redeemed his Honour by sacrificing himself for the brother he had betrayed and for the Honour that the Warrior had given to him. In that time and place, he faced Ektarin Twisted-Hand and proved the Giving should not be corrupted lest it lead to destruction. It should only be used in Honour, not for pride and gain, for when Tyre the Betrayer acted, he refused Ektarin where once he had craved forgiveness and then all perished of that ones Brotherband.
So, young Wraithling, the Runner could not be truly broken, true Honour could never be destroyed, and Pride and corruption led to nothing but a dark ending for those who thought not to heed the dictates of the Wise. Remember, it is an honour and a privilege to share the Giving and it should only ever be done with respect, or those that you would Turn, will Turn on you.
Now, my young Wraithling, you have heard tell of the one called the DreamWalker who, while not being Wraith, could yet share in the Dreaming. The Em-Ma-Gen could stalk the paths of the Dream unbidden and unseen, slide into the space between thoughts and wear a different face.
Some whispered that she could control even a Queen, that she could stay the hand of a Hive-Queen for the sake of her brothers. Some say that in the darkness she could turn the very thoughts of That-Which-Is-Wraith so skilfully that they did not realise how this could happen. She was prized by Michael-Once-Whikeran and it is said the Warrior revered her as a Queen among his own brotherband.
All of these things seem fantastical, do they not, young Wraithling? But the truth is far more fantastical again. For here is the greatest and most secret tale of the DreamWalker, which lay hidden from the Dreaming for a long time and one which will truly amaze.
Haldan Star-Eye, who had shared a sacred bond of the Giving with the Warrior, had been forever changed by the experience. Though they swore to raise their hands against each other, in truth a bond of honour can not be so lightly severed, for it was obvious that the Sheppard regarded Haldan Star-Eye as one of his own brothers in the name he gave him. Todd, as we know is a powerful name among the Warriors kind, with Death as its meaning, and Haldan Star-Eye accepted the name and the Honour it showed him.
Many times Haldan-Who-Was-Todd worked with the Warrior; to defeat the Walking Dead Asurans, who moved like prey but killed and killed and not for food or territory, but because it was their nature to kill eternally. Always they ended saying that they would raise their hands against each other, and always the bond in their hearts called them to serve together once more.
So it was that the Sheppard came to Haldan Star-Eye and told him that the Healer had sent one of his minions with a great gift for them. And the nature of the gift was a deliverance from the Hunger, crafted by the Healer if they would try it.
Now of course we know what this meant, and that it was the first great step to the next Becoming of Wraith, but then it seemed as if it would be making That-Which-Is-Wraith, into Not Wraith. Hunger pressed heavily upon the Hives and Haldan Star-Eye was Thinker and Dreamer enough to see that being able to eat non-sentient food would be a great boon to the Hives. He looked hard at the future and could see only the depths of the Hungry One for That-Which-Is-Wraith as things were, where they would turn and devour their own kind as the Hunger consumed them all from the inside out. It was important that all Hives should do this as many had been weakened by attacks of the Walking Dead, or the Uncertain Death in those dark times.
"I will do this, Sheppard," Haldan Star-eye told the Warrior. "But you will give to me the Em-Ma-Gen for the Queen of this Hive is no more and the Queen of Queens will not hear the words of a Warrior."
The Sheppard was uncertain. "She is of my own, and I do not wish her to be harmed. I entrust her to you or you will face her wrath and that of my own."
Haldan-Who-Was-Todd agreed, though his motives were not as pure as the trust the Warrior had in him.
And so it was the minions of the Healers worked their magics and the Em-Ma-Gen became transformed to look fully like a Queen. And what a Queen! If allegiance was bought by beauty alone, then Haldan Star-Eye would have bowed to her will the moment he saw her. Locks as dark as the mouth of the Hungry One, eyes of burning gold and to Wraith-sight, a vision of glory, and in the Dreaming, a towering presence of mesmerizing steel and fire.
To the DarkStar Hive they went to meet with the Queen of Queens, Getherin DarkStar. Those of you who attended to the stories will know that the Queen of Queens Getherin was she who abandoned Haldan Star-Eye in his torment among the Genii until the Warrior taught him Honour still lived, and that once Haldan Star-eye had served as one of her most Elite Warriors, the Immortals.
She therefore did not recognise her wrong doing and saw only a once loyal warrior returning with a Queen who had saved him, to discuss matters of importance, otherwise you might be sure that they would never have admitted to her presence.
Even so, Queen Getherin, who had borne Seven Queens from her own body and was Queen of Queens and Primary decider of That-Which-Is-Wraith, looked upon the Em-Ma-Gen and saw in her a Queen who could best her and struck at her to remove a rival. She was powerful and wise, but the DreamWalker was an Emissary of the Hungry One and would not be denied though it had not been her intention to take command.
For that is the great secret, young Wraithling. The Great Queen told of in Legend who we have called Teythalarin Dancing-Dream was always the DreamWalker come to show us the right way.
After she had become the Queen of Queens, the Em-Ma-Gen bespoke Haldan-Star Eye and chastised him for his trickery, for nothing could be hidden from her mind in that moment as the Hive sang adulation through the Dreaming to their new Queen of Queens, thrilling to the strength that now commanded them all. Joyously they fought in her name and for her glory and they triumphed against impossible odds in their very first battle and those who died cast themselves to the Dreamers of their Hives singing Teythalarin, Teythalarin into the night and the Dreaming when they would walk again.
"I am displeased, Todd," she told him, and her thoughts were a grip on his mind that he had not anticipated and Haldan Star-Eye knew then no mere queen stood before him. His mind lay within her grip and for all his cunning and wisdom he was as nothing for in her voice he heard the Voice of the Hungry One and humbled himself before her, begging forgiveness.
"Then follow me as you would Honour your one true queen, and I will stay true to you as those who came before me did not. But fail me, and I will take from you my power and name you false in Honour. You would have me as Queen, therefore I shall be your Queen." The Em-Ma-Gen said and her declaration was more binding than chains and in that moment, Haldan-who-was-Todd vowed to serve her as a true Queen for the rest of his days.
So, young Wraithling, if you would act or manipulate, be sure of the forces on which you work your will. There is always a more powerful Dreamer, a sharper Thinker, a greater Warrior in the Hunting Dark to show us the error of assuming we have all the answers. For who would assume that she who taught us the secrets of That-Which-Is-Wraith was not Wraith at all!
Well now, young Wraithling, there is not a tale to be told that does not touch upon the Warrior, for to talk of any of the spirits is to talk of him for they were bound so tightly together. But there was a time, a dark time where it was thought that the Warrior had shed his Honour.
Rather ask a Wraith to cease from Hunger than believe this, for as surely as the Hungry One will devour all of creation with his endless hunger, then the Warrior will retain Honour. He has been taken and given back by the Sacred ones, he has become a Sacred One and returned and so he knows the deepest, most pure things of That-Which-Is-Wraith.
In the Cycle of Longest Day, Haldan Star-eye, given the name Todd by the Sheppard as a gesture of his trust, was tested as all of the Great Ones were. Michael-Once-Whikeran was tested by the Healer, the DreamWalker, the Warrior, The Thinker and the Runner, and Haldan-Who-Was-Todd would endure the same.
It came to pass that a dread device of the ancient Enemy that was whispered of in the Long Sleep was discovered once again. Attero, the Dreamers would murmur in the Dreaming and the mind would fill with death death death, watching Hives and Warriors denied a glorious ending by a terrible twisting of the Hunting Dark against them.
Attero was a weapon so terrible even the Enemy could not stomach its use, and never in all the Cycles of Waking and the Long Sleep would any Wraith have believed to see it tearing apart space again.
So when Haldan Star-Eye saw his own ship destroyed in a way he had last witnessed in the Cycle of Victory, the betrayal was swift and in his own mind absolute. There was only one who could have awoken such a thing, and that was the McKay, beloved brother of the Warrior. And there was only one who would've ordered it used and that would've been the Sheppard himself.
Rage filled Haldan-Who-Was-Todd as he believed all Honour turned to lies. Suddenly that which they had done together was tainted, that which they had shared was poisoned with suspicion and betrayal. Now it seemed that the Warrior was no different to those who called themselves warriors among the Wraith. Those who would kill indiscriminately of their own to get what they wished.
So it was that Haldan Star-Eye confronted the Warrior, made bold by his disillusionment, for he had one who was a leader of the Warrior's kind and also the Runner on a ship he had taken from him which would not be affected by the device.
And yet, when faced with the fact of betrayal, the Warrior professed that he was not aware of what was happening. More betrayal it seemed, for barely moment later, the Sheppard sent them a location and then even more strangely asked to go with them.
Suspecting his motives, Haldan-Who-Was-Todd refused, for all trust had turned to bitter anger, though as they travelled the pathways to their quarry the thought preyed upon his mind. Something was wrong, he was sure of it, but still it seemed that the Warrior had broken his word and lured him into a trap.
There was something though that stayed his hand when one of the Healer's minions was brought before him, for doubt was in his heart for it occurred to him that the Thinker had not been at his usual place at the Warrior's side. This was unusual enough to give him pause even as he planned how he would destroy the Attero device for the sake of all Wraith, despite the Runner trying to stop him. As the Sheppard had once used his ship to destroy a site of importance to them, then he would return the favour and the death of his people would be a price exacted for his betrayal. So it was he locked the course and then he and his brother band retreated to their own ships to wait for the right time to flee the battle. Why should they fight for those who had betrayed them so badly?
And there it was that an amazing thing happened for when they arrived, against all belief, the Warrior was already there and fighting a battle of unfair odds against ships of the like he had not seen before. He listened, hearing then the Sheppard fight to stop something he had no party to against impossible odds and then with the communication telling him that the Thinker had been taken and had stopped the device to save them all, he realised he had been tested and was ashamed.
The Warrior would not betray a word of honour, and would not suffer his Thinker to be taken from him, would not stop protecting that which needed protecting and he had by his actions put all of that in jeopardy.
Even though they left the Warrior to his fate, Haldan-who-was-Todd knew then Honour had not been broken and that in future he should trust the Warrior, where he could not trust others, even of his own kind.
So it is, young Wraithling, that a true hero stays true to themselves. A Dreamer must Dream, a Thinker must Think, and a Warrior must hold Honour. For, even if others abandon honour, it is not a reason for you to abandon yours.
Listen well, young Wraithling, for the tale that is next to be told is of Michael-Once-Whikeran and Haldan Star-Eye and how they came to be together.
So it was in the Cycle of the Longest Day, the vengeance of the Hungry One had decimated those who sought to be lords of all that lived and Hives lay in disarray, the Sacred Ones were unprotected, and the Half-Wild stalked his fear among the survivors.
Time after time, the corruption of the true ways turned to destruction until the situation was desperate. It became then a battle to survive and so it was, Haldan-Who-Was-Todd's foresight served him well, for they were able to conceal their presence and feed from beasts of the field and day by day the taste of it grew more palatable as death struck down those around them.
Haldan Star-Eye was a warrior and it was not his nature to hide and skulk, but it was then that events had conspired to give him one of the most precious things to that which is Wraith.
How the Healer found them, he would not know; there were those who said the Healer roamed the worlds to try and cure the damage done with his stolen knowledge with the Uncertain Death, but find them he did and stood before them unafraid.
"I have come to you to ask a favour of you, Todd," he asked and Haldan Star-Eye bade him continue for he owed the Warrior much and the Healer was of his brotherband and shared that debt. "My brothers, the one called Michael has them and those of our Hive will not strive to bring them home safely. But I will not leave them to die, for I know well his heart and mind and I have looked into the future and I can tell you, lad, if Michael succeeds, then there is no future for human or Wraith for he will destroy us all in his bitterness."
It would be a great risk, for he knew the Beckett could bring no support but stood alone for his brothers' sake. "What then will I gain for this?" he asked not knowing if the Healer shared the Warriors honour.
"You will have a reward if we rescue them. On this I give my word as a Healer and on the lives of my brothers."
And with that promise Haldan Star-Eye had to be content.
So it was, he went in pursuit of the Warrior and his taken brother band, with the Healer joining them as they hunted the worlds for them all.
When they discovered the base where the Michael-Once-Whikeran had his captives, it was already in disarray. They entered and there were hybrid dead everywhere, and the sound of voices and to Haldan's amazement, the sound of the Warrior begging where he would have said he would never have broken for anyone.
But as they drew closer he realised that it was in fact the Warrior pleading with his brother the McKay not to die, for he had been grievously wounded and they believed themselves stranded with none to know their location, to rescue them or come to their aid.
"Stay," ordered the Sheppard, "Do not die, McKay, for you are mine and I will not let you go."
"Saying will not make it so," the Thinker replied. "I have already done my impossible thing for the day in getting us out of the cell. No, I am going to die."
"I do not give you permission," the Warrior said and even far away Haldan Star-Eye could sense the need behind the words and considered that he had none now that he could call brother and hold in such regard.
"There is no Healer to tend me, no rescue and if it were down to me, I would stay, " spoke the McKay. "And you are not to destroy everything when I die."
"No promises," said the Warrior and his voice was cold and his intent clear.
But then it was that he saw the Healer had come forward, heedless of danger and that the Warrior almost wept to see him for the sake of his beloved brother.
It gave Haldan Star-Eye much to think on as the Beckett tended to the Thinker, and as the Runner and the DreamWalker brought a captured Michael-Once-Whikeran to the presence of the Warrior for judgement.
Well you know, young Wraithling, that it is our gift to know when our Dreaming brushes another if they are a brother or not. It is immediate and certain, and as Haldan Star-Eye in curiosity brushed the strange dreaming of Michael-Once-Whikeran, he felt that which he had not felt for many millennia.
"May I kill him?" the Runner growled. "It is my wish to kill him."
For all the death that Michael had visited upon them all, Wraith and human alike, the answer should have been yes and yet Haldan Star-Eye could no more say that than lose a limb.
"No," he said. "The Healer promised a reward for us to help you and I claim him."
Such surprise then, young Wraithling, from the Warrior, from the outcast Wraith.
"What would you do with him?" asked the Em-Ma-Gen and Haldan remembered his vow.
"I would make him my own," he said. "He will be of my Hive and be outcast no longer. For we have changed also."
Think then of the hope and joy in Michael-Once-Whikeran's thoughts and dreaming. Think of that intense happiness in the times you rejoin the dreaming even after the shortest time apart, and think how much more it would have been for that one cast out for unending years.
"He tells the truth." The Em-Ma-Gen said. "And Michael would obey."
The Warrior looked at them both and then granted the boon of mercy as he nodded. "He is your responsibility now and his actions your actions, Todd."
And so it was Haldan Star-Eye took Michael-Once-Whikeran to his closest brother and in trusting the bonds rather than vengeance, secured the future of That-Which-Is-Wraith. For like the Warrior and the Thinker, these two were two halves of the same whole and together they were Legend.
And what of the reward the Healer promised? Or do you think, young Wraithling, that the heart and mind of a brother was reward enough? Perhaps it was, but once the others had been returned safely, the Beckett once again sought out Haldan Star-Eye to give him a reward for the right action. For what he gave him there was our future in the form of the Child-Queen Intheria who they had rescued and who now needed her own kind.
So, young Wraithling, the correct action is rewarded in ways unforeseen and uncounted. Stay true to the right way and perhaps you too will be rewarded with a bond as strong as that between Haldan-Who-Was-Todd and Michael-Once-Whikeran, or perhaps that of the Sheppard and McKay themselves.
Always, the young Wraithling wishes to rush to the end of the tale, for there our lives began. But hidden in the Dreaming still lies many legends of the spirits and the guidance that brought us here. Their wisdom will stay with us forever for it is as timeless as their legacy. As long as we follow the lessons and forget not the tales of times past, That-Which-Is-Wraith shall survive and thrive. But beware, young Wraithling, for if you do not believe, perhaps you will face their judgement and this time there will be no reprieve.
The Warrior, the Thinker, the Healer, The DreamWalker, the Runner and the Half-Wild.