I come from a moth tribe that chose to forsake the light. Why they did this I shall never understand, but we have lived with the consequences of their mistake ever since. I was born into a prison. The village they call the Resting Grounds is nothing more than an internment camp for a race of bugs the king despised. I love the place, with its beautiful lake and the fog it produces, plus the light from the crystals below. But I loved it a lot less when I was younger. We were kept there, never allowed to leave except under heavy guard through the elevator to the city below. The path from there to the crossroads didn’t exist as it does now. Effectively the village was the only world I knew.

Although this wasn’t quite true: Every week the pale king, as part of his reeducation plan, sent up a few bugs from the city of tears who would carry tablets which painted a bleak picture of the world. Hallownest was, according to them, the last civilization in the entire world, as only the higher mind granted by the king could allow culture or cooperation. The king had granted us everything, our homes, food, and lives, and we could not live without him. Well I had next to nothing for the first half of my life so the compliment struck me as hollow. As soon as I was able I sneaked out of the village to explore the world.

I traveled throughout Hallownest and saw a great many wonders. I learned of the other factions, including the weavers, mushrooms, and mantises. None of these groups followed the pale king, they made deals with him but refused to live under his strict rule. As a moth, living outside the resting grounds was punishable by death. So I left Hallownest entirely. As I traveled through king’s pass, signs warned me of the danger I was in leaving the land. I was to relinquish my mind and thoughts and presumably any memories as well. Ignoring them, I pressed on, and outside the Plato’s Cave that the bugs call Hallownest. Outside I saw many a wonder—from seemingly endless lava lakes, to entire landscapes made of frozen water. Troupes who hunted down dying lands for flames. These lands served as the domain of a being greater than any I had known in Hallownest, a god seemingly made entirely from light.

Although domain is a misleading word for her brilliance as she did not rule the way a king would, subjecting the world to an all-controlling iron-fisted rule. She acted as a shepard to all life above the surface, providing them with the energy they needed to live and thrive and be merry, and comforting them. Her light shone on the surface intermittently but those living there saw it always, for it always was there, and its effects persisted eternally. As an old poem I found once said: “Even in the thick of night; daylight holds sway.” For all life it seemed owed its existence to her. After seeing the world outside the cave I wanted to teach those inside about it.

I returned to Hallownest many years later, and only after mastering the magic to enter without losing my memories and thoughts. I came back to find a chaotic land terrorized by a tyrant. Hundreds of citizens of Hallownest were kidnapped and slaughtered by a group of self-interested soul mages. Mantises had split off and would murder any bugs of differing races who so much as entered their territory. The weavers adopted similar strategies but also lured others in with trickery. The king himself forced some of his subjects to sacrifice their lives to Monomon as part of a “final solution” he had. But all of these deaths paled in my mind compared to the genocide of the moth tribe. The king killed every last one, all of whom were docilely content living under his rule. When I made it back to the resting grounds, I wept for their loss, but I felt powerless.

Many years have past since then, the Radiance has returned to this land, as she has all others, and offered these desolate lost souls a second chance. The king has, best I can tell, met his long deserved end. As terrible as this cave has always looked, the light which exists outside this world and in my heart has brought me the hope that things may improve. Her light hasn’t completely penetrated the black walls, but it soon shall, and I hope that when this happens I may join her and leave these dead lands, as may all the other spirits of my village. The Radiance is the only good thing to happen to Hallownest and for that I am eternally thankful.