Thaos ix Arkannon

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Thaos ix Arkannon
Thaos PoE1 portrait NPC unmasked lg.png
Biography and appearance
Game Pillars of Eternity
Race Human
Gender Male
Culture Engwithan
Faction Leaden Key
Statistics
Class Priest
Attributes
PotD (upscaled)
  • Deflection: 164
  • Fortitude: 145
  • Reflex: 121
  • Will: 149
  • DR: 15 (23 Burning, 18 Shock, 14 Corrode)
Abilities Cleansing Flame
Crowns for the Faithful
Despondent Blows
Instill Doubt
Minor Intercession
Pillar of Holy Fire
Shields for the Faithful
Soul Jump
Gameplay
Location Breith Eaman
Quests The Ruins of Cilant Lîs
The Man Who Waits
The Hermit of Hadret House
The Assassin at Large
Memories of the Ancients
The gods are cruel, I'm afraid. The man you seek is Thaos ix Arkannon, grandmaster of the Leaden Key, one of the most elusive and dangerous men Eora has ever known.
~ Lady Eydis Webb

Thaos ix Arkannon is the ageless grandmaster of the Leaden Key, worldly agent of the goddess Woedica, and main antagonist of Pillars of Eternity.

Background[edit | edit source]

A legendary figure across Eora, at least to those who are even aware of his existence, Thaos is as mysterious as he is powerful. What scraps of evidence exist suggest that he has died many times, only to be reborn each time, exactly the same man, Awakened during adolescence with all the knowledge and experience of all his lifetimes. The plots he orchestrates sometimes take hundreds of years to bear fruit. This unnatural lifespan is said to be the result of his status as one of Woedica's Favored, who never let rules get in the way of her favoritism. The boons bestowed by the goddess also ensure that his body is no boundary to his soul, and he is known to take possession of others, if their souls are weak enough. Often it is for elaborate deceptions, but sometimes he simply forces them to kill themselves. Two millenia of life and accumulated experience left him bereft of pity and with an overabundance of talent. He is not one to show himself in any but their most critical matters, which means that if he has directly involved himself in whatever the group plots, it is a major endeavor indeed. However, anyone seeking to confront him would have to remember that he is not merely a driven, single-minded man with not the slightest concern for anyone below, but also an incredibly powerful cipher and a man of incredible cunning.

Godmaker[edit | edit source]

Though it would only seem natural to think of Thaos as a divine figure, this isn't so. Centuries ago, when the Engwithan civilization was at its peak, Thaos was one of the architects of a grand social engineering experiment meant to give meaning to the world and through it, peace. It was the end result of generations of research into the divine and souls, trying to find the true Creators and put an end to the religious wars that ravaged Engwith. They found the answer, except it was no answer at all: There were no gods or, if they ever were, they were gone.[1] In a world filled with thousands of false gods, gods that told kith to take slaves, to make war upon their neighbors and devour the slain, to burn their children alive and cover themselves in the ashes as a sign of their faith, that was unacceptable. There were no gods and it was necessary to create them.

Centuries of animancy research left Engwith with a mastery of the science. The Engwithans constructed a vast network of adra-powered soul machinery connected to Sun in Shadow, where one of the greatest adra pillars in existence could be found. It was Thaos who activated the machine, sacrificing thousands of Engwithans - men and women, young and old, great and small - in an instant, to imbue the machine with their souls. As their bodies crumbled to ash, their souls coalesced into a single whole, melting into the adra and merging with it, birthing the gods into Eora. Thaos was the only one to walk away from the ash-filled chamber.

He founded the Leaden Key to proselytize the new faith and ensure that nothing could threaten the grand social experiment through any means necessary. He was the guardian of the gods' terrible secret and to guard it, he quickly learned to justify any atrocity. After all, the kith needed help in overcoming their instincts, that only gods could provide the spark needed to overcome the base instincts and give hope in a world that would otherwise lack purpose, answers, and ending, a world where there was only the Wheel, grinding without end and without mercy, slowly turning souls to dust. Yet they had little need for atrocity in that time, as the kith readily accepted true gods and the miracles they offered.

Until the time of the Apostate.

Apostasy and the Inquisition[edit | edit source]

Iovara ix Ensios was just one of many converts to the "true" faith offered by Thaos. When missionaries arrived at her village, their words gave her hope that she would bring to others. Yet a single breach of secrecy in the temple by one of the missionaries revealed the terrible truth to her. After a time spent in despair, Iovara began questioning missionaries in public, exposing their parlor tricks, and gradually taking over their followings. When Engwithans started to flock to her banner, Thaos retaliated in the most terrifying way possible, fearing that the great plan would be throttled in its infancy: Enlisting the aid of realms that accepted his vision of the world and the gods he ushered into the world, he started an Inquisition which would see Iovara and her followers destroyed and all trace of them removed from the annals of history. Peaceful missionaries became fervent inquisitors, rooting out heresy and heathens, burning the infidels on pyres and forcing them to confess.

Yet for every one they killed, another would joining Iovara's cause in the last religious war. She sought allies, hoping to build an alliance to counterbalance Thaos', and found safe harbor in Creitum, whose powerful ruler could effectively resist the Inquisition. Knowing that the tide was turning against him, Thaos enlisted the help of Iovara's old friend, a faithful missionary and fervent Inquisitor of unbroken faith. The orders were clear, to make Iovara move to Ossionus, right into the trap laid by the Inquisition. Ever the optimist, she fell for the notion that Thaos was marching armies at Creitum and that Ossionus would be a safe refuge. Captured and brought to the Court of Penitents, Iovara suffered terrifying torture at the hands of her friend. Yet despite the terrifying pain and injury, she did not break, remaining defiant to the end. She was imprisoned in the dark adra cells in Breith Eaman, the real Court of Penitents deep below the public building erected on what is known in modern times as the Burial Isle. Thaos had his victory: The secret would remain safe for the next two millenia.

In time, Thaos would see the entire world converted to the faith, with kith across Eora praying to the same gods, if under different names. As he gained experience and traveled the world, his cynicism solidified and transformed into a single-minded protection of the secret of the nature of the gods. To protect it - and cement belief in the Engwithan gods - Thaos destroyed cities, nations, and even entire civilizations. Among his many victims was Tolosus, which he plunged into civil war; Desontio, which he seized from a benevolent ruler and handed to a tyrant; and Arborensis, where he ensured the plague would arrive as surely as the cure didn't. Compared to this litany of atrocities, the recent Hollowing of the Dyrwood was the mere skip of a heartbeat.[2]

Modern times[edit | edit source]

With each new body he inhabited, Thaos gained more wisdom, cunning, and power. Woedica's favor was a crucial factor in this, allowing his work to continue unimpeded, while the Leaden Key and centuries of accumulated assets guaranteed limitless resources. Yet for all his might, Thaos was still human and no matter how he steeled his heart, there was a shred of humanity left within. He was unfazed by the War of Defiance and the independence of the Dyrwood, deciding only to intervene when animancy gained traction again. Instead of destroying it in its infancy, he allowed the science to grow in reach and popularity, plotting to discredit it in a way that would ensure its abandonment for centuries to come.

But as he wormed his way into the fabric of Dyrwoodan society, setting up his pieces on the game board once more, he made one mistake: He fell in love for a time. Lady Eydis Webb, a cipher of tremendous power and talent, returned the feeling. Thaos convinced himself that he was merely using her, as he did thousands of others, but there was something different. He inducted her into the Leaden Key, benefited from her talent, and when she cast off the shackles of secrecy and ignorance he put on all of them... He let her go and did not pursue her, as he would surely do with anyone else. This single mistake became his undoing when he started his intrigue, shortly after the Saint's War of 2808 AI and the destruction of St. Waidwen at Halgot Citadel. Activating long-dormant Engwithan machines he alone knew how to operate, Thaos created Waidwen's Legacy, depriving newly born children of their souls, instead redirecting them to the Sun in Shadow, gathering souls to restore Woedica as the Queen of the gods.

He carefully manipulated the people of the Dyrwood over the next fifteen years, destabilizing the nation and setting them against animancers and their research. It took a variety of forms, the most spectacular of which was engineering the failure of Caedman Azo's attempt to put proxy souls in Hollowborn, occupying the girl's body and having her bash herself to pieces in full view of Copperlane's denizens. By 2823 AI, the intrigue was in its final stages and Thaos made the final move in his bid to discredit the science. Against the backdrop of hearings conducted by Duc Aevar Wolf-Grin which would decide the fate of the science in the Dyrwood, his agents carried out acts of sabotage and passed them off as effects of animantic research. One of the most notable attempts was the activation of the Heritage Hill soul storage device, creating an undead pestilence on the district. His pièce de résistance in the scheme was the assassination of the Duc just as he was about to announce his decision...

Interdiction and death[edit | edit source]

Two factors led to Thaos fall:

  • First, the aforementioned fall for Lady Webb, who knew of his name and the nature of his organization, if not its goals.
  • Second, the Watcher, inadvertently created when Thaos replenished the Cilant Lis machine with soul energy necessary to keep relaying newborn souls to Sun in Shadow. Whether it was coincidence or some greater plan by the gods is not known, but the Watcher's soul was one that belonged to one of Thaos' Inquisitors millenia ago, the same one who betrayed Iovara and broke her on the wheel. The same one who confronted him in Sun in Shadow, demanding the truth.

Thaos neglected the Watcher's interference at his own peril. When Lady Webb became involved with the Watcher, helping them piece together the full scope of the Leaden Key's activities, he made the third: He visited Lady Webb in person after the assassination of the duc, sharing a tender moment with her before plunging the dagger in the old woman's chest, answering the question she held for so long by opening his mind. In doing so, however, he revealed his destination to her: Twin Elms. The Watcher picked up his trail, eventually communing with the gods at Teir Evron and becoming their trump card, both to destroy Thaos and prevent Woedica's reclamation of her throne.

Finally, Thaos and his greatest Inquisitor faced each other in the place where everything started, where Thaos brought gods into existence, and where he would meet his end at the Watcher's hands.

Interactions[edit | edit source]

Icon dialogue.png
This character is involved in quests.

The Ruins of Cilant Lîs
The Man Who Waits
The Hermit of Hadret House
The Assassin at Large
Memories of the Ancients

Quests[edit | edit source]

  • The Ruins of Cilant Lîs: The Watcher first comes across Thaos as they escape from Cilant Lîs, conducting a ceremony to replenish the Engwithan soul relay's power reserves. The resulting blast causes the Watcher's soul to awaken.
  • Never Far from the Queen: The Watcher relives his soul's first encounter with Thaos, when he began organizing the Leaden Key.
  • The Hermit of Hadret House: Another experience occurs near Hadret House, where the Watcher relives his soul's first doubts and attempt to leave the Key, only to be entangled deeper in Thaos' intrigues.
  • The Man Who Waits: For the first time, the watcher and Thaos meet directly, with the ancient confronting the Watcher as a spirit hiding in a patient at the Sanitarium.
  • The Assassin at Large: He escapes this encounter quickly, reappearing when the Watcher addresses the animancy hearings at the Ducal Palace. Here, Thaos takes control of the animancer representative and assassinates Duc Aevar Wolf-Grin.
  • Memories of the Ancients: He flees the city and heads east through Twin Elms to Breith Eaman. It is at Sun in Shadow where the Watcher confronts and finally defeats him for good. After he's defeated, the player can choose to:
    • Return his soul to the cycle
    • Destroy his soul, stating the past he carried has been a burden to himself or that he has caused too much pain for the Watcher and deserves to die
    • Banish him to the soul prison, Berith Eamam
    • Erase his memories and letting him live free of the burden of the past
    • It is possible for Aloth to succeed Thaos as grandmaster of the Leaden Key at the end of the game.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

References[edit source]

  1. Iovara: "They were conceived by Engwith, a society of high minds and broad concerns. Thaos' people. In their time, every people worshiped its own gods. Sometimes they warred over it. After a few wars of their own, the Engwithans sought an end to it. They devoted all their energy to finding the true Creators. Generation after generation, they prodded and worked the stitching of the world and unlocked its secrets. One day they found an answer - except the answer was no answer at all. There were no gods to be found. Or if there ever were, they were gone. It shook them, this finding. If they could discover this on their own, how long until others would? How long before war and chaos reigned over a world without consequence? But they had mastered many things in their pursuit of these answers. And with their mastery they crafted their own gods to fill the void, and sent missionaries to the corners of the world to spread their faith."
  2. Thaos: "The heart of this country has skipped a beat. Nothing more. I have done far worse. I plunged the peaceful kingdom of Tolosus into civil war. I slew the monarch of Desontio, whose people never knew hardship under his rule, and replaced him with a cruel despot who brought them to ruin. When plague arrived at the great city of Arborensis, I saw to it that the cure did not. They piled their dead outside the city in heaps that rose above their walls. ... Their histories are droplets of water falling into an endless sea. They are significant unto themselves for a moment, and then they are gone."