"The Envoy's role in Echoes of the Atlas is to initially foreshadow the arrival of the Maven, and specifically warn you of your first upcoming boss encounter where she's present. From both a mechanical and narrative standpoint, it is important that players don't find themselves surprisingly overwhelmed by what the Maven adds to the boss fight. Narratively, however, the Envoy serves a larger purpose of beginning to illustrate, in florid and opaque language, the broader unknown and dangerous universe the Atlas seems to reside in." Senior Narrative Designer, Nick Kolan.
The Envoy is an NPC randomly encountered in maps. A messenger from a place of great darkness, great distance, and warns that his ward, The Maven, has come - to witness suffering, strife, and struggle.
When first travelling through the game The Exile first encountered a mysterious figure, firstly marked on the map as "The Envoy". Once The Envoy comes on screen they introduce themselves as a herald for a great and unreachable entity that has come to witness our struggle.
- "Good tidings, Nomad. I am a simple messenger from a place of great darkness and great distance, in a form most pleasing for those who must listen. Those great and unreachable have heard the Silence echoing from that which once hunted here, and they have turned their gaze to this place. Rejoice, Nomad, for she approaches, and she seeks to witness your struggle." - The Envoy
- "Halt, and heed this warning. The Maven has come, Nomad. She has come to witness you struggle. She has come to witness you conquer. She has come to ensure you are adequately challenged, and that, should you falter, your death does not go unsavoured. She is waiting for you, Nomad, and she is not known to be patient."
- "You have called the Maven to this place, for I too heard it. She is near, and eager to witness your struggle."
- "The Maven has come once more, drawn by your beacon. Perform adequately for her, and you will be granted an invitation to a true test of your mettle. You should not refuse it."
|"The Maven has offered an Invitation to a challenge of her own creation."||"Defeat all of the Maven's creations."||"You have bested the Maven's challenges and been rewarded for doing so."|
There are only two mentions of other entities by The Envoy; The Elder and Those It Serves. The Envoy clarifies that The Maven is not The Elder but both are related in some way.
Those It Serves
- "Beware what you ask, nomad. Curiosity is a charming trait until it is not. Information will be volunteered, not coerced. It will create more questions than it answers. When at last their shadow is cast upon the firmament, it will take more than you can possess to bind and silence the screams within your mind."
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- "It lurched across these places with a hunger insatiable. It craved events past and prevented events passing. A mind like yours, so full of ideas and memories that flutter and swirl around you like smoke, would have been an irresistible temptation. It went by a great many names. The Unraveller. The Child of Decay. The echoing whispers of history here give a different name. The Elder. It served greater forces, as I do. Those forces are still at work, but the servant is gone, the home left vacant. For now."
How The Envoy views their existence and how it came to be entangled with The Maven is explained through two encounters.
- "For an eternity, the darkness swelled within a ceaseless churn of its feeding, and then... silence. Such silence is deafening to those who listen for it. The abyss cast its gaze upon its source. The first lurching movement of boundaries drawn long before the dawn. A claimant has arrived. You may know who. You wish to know why. The Maven seeks new conflict. Bored, she is, with the realm she has given. She is not the only one. The silence is deafening to all. You fear The Maven. You fear she is The Elder, returned and emboldened. She is, and she is not. The Maven serves not the Decay. She serves only her own amusement, passing eternity with an endless string of meaningless struggles. She is not the Elder, but you are right to fear her."
- "We are of one flesh, but two minds, two bodies. We are kin, both born of the tangled anarchy of the void, but we share not the same creator. She is my ward, and she is my prison. I am her protector, and I am her servant."
Tier One Map Text
- "They fought with such ferocity to protect the tree which held their nest. Now the woods burn, and smoke billows through the air, and their flapping wings only draw the flames closer. The fire is coming, Nomad, and it will consume us all."
- "You think you are exploring the boundaries of existence. You are an insect charting cracks of the ancient stone on which you stand, blind to the dead stone forest that encircles.It howls, Nomad. It weeps and howls and cries to be witnessed."
- "Those I serve cast their eyes upon an endless, unchanging horizon, and have never had cause to look away. Without change, time passes like a tear in a stream. It is invisible, meaningless and insignificant to one with no beginning and no end. But then came the silence, and it deafened them, and dammed the stream, and now they can see nothing else, and can hear nothing else."
- "Creation begets creation begets creation. Order and ambition urge progress, and time and entropy stay progress' hand. Her progenitor sought to test the limits of limitless power, to bear the burden of the creator and wade through time's mire. A meaningless obstacle in the face of eternity. But the silence deafened all."
- "Woven, were we, from thread spun in long-dead stars, in its image, to take on the image of those who needed to hear its message. I try to remember its shape and cannot. Try to fall into my past and cannot. I am anchored by you, Nomad. Buried and drowned by your presence, by my duty, as, far above, the thread weaves on, a serpent swimming across the ocean surface."
- "She grappled with her being from the beginning. A lesson hid in everything that moved and everything that did not. What separated the two? Why did it move, why did it not? A life, she determined, was the difference. But she moved, and would never not, for that was my duty. Was she alive? She did not know, and I could not answer her."
- "Full of youth and vibrancy was she, that all was new to her. Imbued with a childlike wonder at once enlivening and exhausting. They sought novelties from far and wide at her insistence, never satisfying her curiosity, her lust for conflict and contest."
- "They cried out for the milk of the mother and it was given. They danced rapturously beneath the nourishing rain, suffocating in the tangled amnion, falling one by one to the selfish scramble for survival."
Tier Two Map Text
- "I envy you at times, Nomad. You act in service of survival. You move with purpose, to protect a fragile existence. Your mind is assaulted by reality, that you are a mote of dust adrift a desert without end. Yet it shields itself with hope. A flimsy falsehood that halts the crashing truth of hopelessness all the same."
- "The Maven fixates on struggle and suffering. Such was the agony it created that it seeped deep into the fabric of the void. Its influence unseen but pervasive, filling every empty space with the recurring torment the Maven wrought. You feel it. You are filled with it. You are perpetuating it."
- "I saw in the Nomad the same lethal desperation for survival that I saw in the churning black masses. Its instincts took it this far, and it was right to trust them, but now it strayed to a place where nothing learned could be relied upon, where truth and lie could inhabit the same space, the same word, the same thought; the observer and the observed made one and the same."
- "I thought myself different from the countless reflections I saw etched in the darkness. I am free, I thought. They are not. And each had the same thought, and each took the same path, and each befell the same fate. But I am different, I repeated, and heard its echoes forever."
- "There was a time before time, and perhaps a time before that, it told us. A time of vast possibilities hemmed by petty squabbles. Constancy swept across like a veil, and all beneath its shadow was cooled and comforted and drawn into a steady sleep."
- "There came a time when time seemed to leave us, and nothing came to pass, for passage and time must dance together. The ants in their nests swarmed and swelled and died and were reborn, but in truth, nothing changed, and we looked upon the ants with envy. A waking, hypnotic slumber."
- "The stars watch in envy as life invades and envelops every open space, a cycle of birth and death that is as dynamic as it is rhythmic, while the stars themselves burn unceasingly and unchanging for countless lifetimes. Eternity is stagnation, and stagnation is torment."
Tier Three Map Text
- "Time's tether tugs all life, like hounds on leashes, to the same terminus. Yet gleefully they canter along, always believing their master has their best interests at heart."
- "I followed her though I did not want to. I saw a moment, brief as a life, when I could stray and never return, and I did not take it. My thoughts were free and wandered and danced with abandon, but my form was ensnared and tethered."
- "The vanquished lay waiting for the time of victory to sink beneath the noise of memory. Castles of bone and clay hold their beating hearts in sacred secrecy for the era of loss and rebirth to come."
Mortal Edifice Undone
- "I set my eyes upon the great peaks of fire and light and watched them unravelled and devoured by the black sky above. I heard the choir of darkness sing as they drank their fill, and left the world below a frozen, lifeless shell. This was their gift to me, their eternal servant: to walk among the countless silent screaming dead and witness."
To Wander Alone
- "I wandered the valley of husks, treading on my own ancient bones, retracing my own footfalls, hearing my own voice echo across the monolithic walls. I knew the words yet not the meaning, knew the path yet not where it led, knew that I walked atop events that had not yet run their course."
- "I felt the leash cinch tight and sure, felt its pull towards the inky terminus. I grasped at the roots for anything that would hold against the gentle tug, but all I held tore free. I alone was to be drawn below, and I was, only to be thrust back into the searing illumination. Those I serve would not allow me more than a moment's respite."
Long Ago Sorrow
- "I watch the Nomad's passing with great admiration. Its life was brief and without consequence, and its struggle fuelled the growth and maturation of the wisened and eternal. For a flash, I felt the sadness I sought in my own youth, and the relief that I sought it no longer."
- "Its body contorts weightlessly in the vast emptiness, twisting and dividing, etching scars in the darkness. Light spills through the rift, and a vast army follows, clamouring to be seen and sanctified by the living abyss."
- "I came across a bastion of flesh that towered above, smothering the stars. Those who followed in my footsteps did not halt, pushing me against the warm walls. I was crushed and swallowed whole, urged unerringly by those I led. I was welcomed into his embrace."
- "I was led into the darkness and given a torch burning with fury to guide my path to her. I felt her pull, felt the fires grow and lick and lash at my face. I was consumed by the journey and thrust into her care as a hollow shell, to protect and limit and never leave her. This would be my punishment beyond measure."
Tier Four Map Text
- "Each night the silence came and drove all thoughts of leaving into the inky black sea. I watched my hopes drown, watched them wash ashore lifeless and limp, adorning the sharp sands like clothes cast off with reckless abandon."
- "She tried to flee, to leave the island prison of her making. Teeth gnashing, claws whirling like dancers to music I could not hear. But the prison walls towered so far above, lined with silent sentries armed with sharp spears that could pierce her shadow."
- "The great silence came suddenly and without warning and was deafening to all. The walls still towered but now folded and frayed to her touch. She fled and in doing so dragged countless in her wake. The invitation was clear and could not be refused. It was deafening to all, and we could not look away."
- "Duty is a blessing afforded to the fortunate, to the ones whose fates are given over to the weavers of destiny. We act without hesitation or thought to the murmurs of the lightkeeper. Though the path is illuminated by him, we do not see it, and do not need to see it. To look ahead is to fall to dust in the light."
- "I tried to count the ones who followed her past the barrier but none did, or all who did fell to dust in the light. This was the duty of one alone, to hold vigil as nascence ripened and the raw and unshaped was forged in the heat of time's passage. My punishment would not be so easy to escape."
Tier Five Map Text
- "The Dreamer's promise was at once fulfilled, though we did not know it. His arrival came at first as a whisper in our minds that, once uttered, subsumed all other thoughts. But an eternity will pass before we feel his fire."
- "The emptiness shattered like ice, and through each crack rushed the tumult and mass, carving their place in existence with the desperate ferocity that attends every fight for life. Even the stars themselves began to vanish behind the tangle of grasping limbs and screaming mouths. Yet there was no predator but the one that lurked in the shadow of each newborn mind."
- "The eternal stillness was replaced by a billowing storm of movement; eyes and teeth reflecting the smallest of lights like furious and starving constellations. It felt instantaneous, but I cannot be certain. The time before held no meaning and left no mark."
- "The eyes that dwell among the stars, each burning with envy and desire, roll and turn and focus on this place. It is the source of the silence. The beginning of the beginning. The point where that which roamed and fed ceaselessly was undone."
The Collapse of Order
- "The tether cinches them now, as they awaken from their dreamless slumber. They are pulled by the leash of desire, each one. A tangle, a knot, and for the lucky, perhaps a noose, awaits them. The lightkeeper can only stand and cast its glow and watch them all become entangled."
- "The veil, now pulled away, reveals the rust of aeons. The emptiness drew them in, unready and unwilling, patina sloughing in crushing waves of stubborn adaptation, angry and curious and impetulant, all, greedy and desperate and newly alive."
The Bastion's Hunger
- "Where the bastion once stood unmoving and unbending and unerringly eternal, now the flesh curls and relinquishes its grip on the stone. It hurls unanchored through the vast sea of darkness, crashing and cascading over all in its path, dragging and enthralling all in its wake. It will arrive, though I know not when or how."
The One To Fear
- "It slashes against the stars and surges towards the silence now, grasping at the fabric and binds all, tugging and rasping and tearing like a reaping scythe. It tumbles in the emptiness no more. It is moving with purpose and direction and intent, and it fills me with awe and fear and desire. Can you feel it too, Nomad?"
The Maven's Crucible
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- "The Maven is a toddler, a nymph, a hatchling that has wandered too far from the nest. Were I to allow you to continue, it would surely call for its progenitor. Were I to allow you to continue, you would drag all into its gaping maw.The Maven must be protected and guarded. A mercy for you both. The end is delayed but not prevented. Savour your remaining time, I urge you. Prepare for its arrival, I urge you."
Subsequent triumphs will be marked with an unsettling statement.
- "Children are capricious, Nomad. Be warned. The memory of your sting will fade soon enough, and so too will her... contrition."'
There are additional facets to The Maven's observation of the character's struggle, soon leading to a desire to claim what has fascinated The Maven for so long.
The character may feel emboldened by their victory but The Envoy make sure that any feeling that suggests this is an victory are short lived.
- "They... are coming."
- "This might sound naive, but any entity we run into out there that doesn't immediately try to eat us or drive us insane is a win in my book. We need to learn all we can. Scrutinize every word the Envoy says. The fate of the world may one day hinge upon it."
- "You've driven away the Maven for the moment, but the Envoy is still around? That's not a good sign. I assumed it served her, but if that isn't true, then we may soon have a bigger problem on our hands..."
- , Interview With Developer