LazarusHeader

Would the Real Lazarus Please Float Upwards?

The end of the fourth episode of the present Living World story brought an unexpected twist along with the long-expected takedown of Confessor Caudecus – the revelation that Caudecus believed that he had prevented the resurrection of Lazarus through his sabotage of Operation Rebirth. This adds a number of new aspects to the already numerous unanswered questions about Lazarus: Are we dealing with an imposter, or has Caudecus’ sabotage failed? Who might have the capability and motivation to impersonate a mursaat? Alternatively, if it is the real Lazarus, might the sabotage nevertheless have changed or weakened him in some fashion, and what might be the implications if it did?

In the following article, we present a possible conversation between the former Pact Commander and a group of trusted allies, where these questions are considered (names have been obscured to protect the innocent and guilty alike). Perhaps the answer will be found somewhere in this discussion, although at this stage there is no way to say which of a range of possible answers may be the correct one. Or perhaps the truth will prove to be something else entirely…

First Speaker: “Hey. Come take a look at this.”

Second: “What is it?”

First: “Well… it looks like Caudecus didn’t just reduce the priority of the Operation Rebirth project, but outright sabotaged it.”

The journal revealing the switch of Lazarus' aspect... and, perhaps, one of the other objects may be the aspect itself.

The journal revealing the switch of Lazarus’ aspect… and, perhaps, one of the other objects may be the aspect itself.

Second: “How so?”

First: “Apparently, the resurrection ritual required five aspects of Lazarus that had been imbued into objects. Caudecus had Inquisitor Bauer substitute one of the aspects for a fake. No aspect, no Lazarus.”

Second: “Then what was it that we saw?”

Third: “Presumably an imposter of some sort, who figured out what the White Mantle were trying to do and stepped in to take advantage.”

Fourth: “Giving whatever it is control over part of the White Mantle and most of the magic that was in the bloodstone. Bad combination.”

Second: “We should certainly be on our guard, but… this might not actually be a bad thing.”

Fifth: “What makes you say that?”

Second: “We’ve been wondering how Lazarus seemed to have gone from vowing revenge when he was last seen centuries ago, to wanting to save the world. If it’s not Lazarus, then… well, it could be something equally distasteful. But it could also be someone who might want to help.”

Fifth: “By taking over the White Mantle and destroying a bloodstone?”

Second: “From what we’ve been able to find out, that bloodstone was going to explode anyway. The imposter has probably done us a favour – consuming the bloodstone stopped it from destroying half of western Tyria, and even putting that aside, the imposter divided the White Mantle. Their attack on the Reach could have been a lot worse.”

Caudecus' belief that he had sabotaged Lazarus' resurrection explains his surprise when Lazarus went and showed up anyway.

Caudecus’ belief that he had sabotaged Lazarus’ resurrection explains his surprise when Lazarus went and showed up anyway.

Fourth: “If this imposter is a friend, then, why didn’t they reveal themselves in the egg chamber? There were no White Mantle nearby then…”

Second: “Ogden said we have allies who have chosen not to reveal themselves. If it’s one of those, they may prefer to risk a little mistrust than reveal themselves.”

Sixth: “Still don’t trust it. If it’s really on our side, it should show itself.”

First: “Maybe it’s just being cautious? If we don’t know it’s not Lazarus, we can’t accidentally reveal that to its White Mantle stooges.”

Fifth: “But who – or, what – could it be?”

Second: “It would need to be some being with the ability to absorb a lot of magical energy safely. We’ve seen what simple exposure to the blast could do to Pact soldiers – absorbing it all would presumably be worse. It could be a being with the ability to absorb more magic safely than we can…”

Seventh:Gleam!

Second: “…or they could have used some sort of artifact to absorb the energy. Like a Shadowstone, or the Scepter of Orr.”

Fifth: “So to look at it optimistically… we know the Seers have a lot of expertise in containing magic. The Last Forgotten who spoke to the Exalted centuries ago appeared to believe that the Seers were gone, but it wouldn’t be the first time one of the elder races reappeared after being believed extinct. An ancient Seer might see a certain irony in hoodwinking the followers of the mursaat into following one of their ancient rivals.”

Third: “There’s also the question of the Scepter of Orr. What we know of it suggests it has significant power over the magical realm… it might be possible for someone to use it to absorb the magic of the bloodstone and assume the role of a mursaat. Both the scepter and its last known bearer are… well, let’s just say there are unanswered questions about what happened in each case.”

While in the egg chamber, Lazarus claims a desire to be our ally. Can he - whatever he really is - be trusted?

While in the egg chamber, Lazarus claims a desire to be our ally. Can he – whatever he really is – be trusted?

Seventh: “On the other hand, legends are full of demons that consume magic, as well as liches and evil wizards who will go to great lengths to amass more magical power. We could even be looking at a dragon champion – we know that some of those can pull off some pretty convoluted plans. Remember Labwan the Deceiver?”

Fifth: “That… is not a reassuring possibility. We can probably rule out Primordus, unless the attack on Tarir was purely to fool us into trusting his champion. But otherwise… by the Pale Tree! We might not even be able to rule out a surviving champion of Mordremoth, believing that it could somehow resurrect its master in Aurene. We saw in Orr that Zhaitan’s champions retained their autonomy and loyalty to Zhaitan after death.”

Third: “There is also the possibility that it is Lazarus despite what Caudecus thought. We’ve read Bauer’s journals – they looked like he was just keeping enough of the weapons program going to keep Caudecus appeased while still focusing on Project Rebirth. Of course, it could also be that Bauer was paranoid enough to make sure that if anyone else read his journal, they’d think he was with Xera’s faction when he was actually with Caudecus’.”

Eighth: “Once again, you imbeciles are ignoring the obvious explanation that is staring you all in the face.”

Fourth: “Here we go…”

Second: “And what is that?”

Eighth: “That the floating gilded vulture didn’t need all of the aspects to be at least partially resurrected? If you all hadn’t slept through whatever sorry substitute for proper history lessons your pitiful excuses for ‘education’ might have to offer, perhaps you’d remember that the whole reason that overrated carrion bird got in that position in the first place was that he was already claiming aspects in person and was too blind to notice that one of them wasn’t what he thought it was. Which is to say, the so-called Unseen was active while at least one of his aspects was unclaimed.”

Lazarus did not need to be already holding all of his aspects to claim the last from Justiciar Naveed.

Lazarus did not need to be already holding all of his aspects to claim the last from Justiciar Naveed.

First: “The White Mantle certainly seemed to think they needed all five…”

Eighth: “And do you really trust that the beliefs of a cult of fanatical bookahs, that didn’t even have the sense the charr had to stop worshipping so-called ‘gods’ after they’d been wiped out by a bunch of mortal bookahs, have any connection to reality? What Caudecus the Not-So-Wise and his circus of dunces believed is irrelevant. What passes in his mind for thought may have led him to believe that he’d prevented the resurrection, but it may have just made that puffed-up crow angry. Trust a bookah politician to make a skritt’s breakfast of things even when he’s TRYING to make something fail.”

Third: “If that’s the case… then just like last time, Lazarus will probably want to claim the final aspect.”

Fourth: “We could use that as leverage…”

Eighth: “Good idea. Really. Let the Unseen One with a god complex and, need I remind you, the power of a bloodstone inside think that we have a portion of its soul and we’re not giving it over. Because I’m SURE that won’t end badly for anyone.”

Fifth: “Should we just give it over, then?”

Third: “Even that might backfire. We don’t know how this division process works. What if each aspect carries a different element of his personality? Through some fluke, Bauer might have stolen the aspect that carries Lazarus’ vengefulness. If he reabsorbs it… we might have the old Lazarus that promised suffering for countless generations back. With the power of a bloodstone.”

First: “So what do we do?”

Third: “Find a way to inform our agents, including Marjory. They may be able to spot hints as to what’s actually going on, as long as they know there is something to look for. Apart from that… I guess the main thing we can do is watch, wait, and prepare for the worst. Hopefully we’ll see some indication of what’s really going on before it becomes another disaster.”

Second: “I’ll see if I can get anything useful out of Ogden. If it is actually one of his mysterious ‘those who have taken an interest’, then hopefully he’ll be willing to reveal at least that much so we can stop jumping at shadows.”

Eighth: “The bookah actually has a good idea for once! If that talking statue knows something he isn’t telling us on this, it’s going to take more than the sadistic pleasure he gathers from springing rude surprises to justify his zipper-lips on this one.”

Lazarus