Knights of the Fallen Empire – Vitiate, Valkorion and The Zakuul Empire

** SPOILERS**

RISE OF THE EMPEROR (ZIOST), SHADOW OF REVAN STORY LINES, JEDI KNIGHT STORY & REVAN NOVEL

DISCLAIMER

Obviously this post will contain some wild theories and ideas about the upcoming expansion due to limited information  and facts.

Hey everyone,

We’ve finally seen the EA E3 Press Conference and we’ve seen the new trailer. We know some information about the new expansion, Knights of the Fallen Empire both from SWTOR.com and from interviews Jeff Hickman and Bruce Maclean did afterwards about the expansion. You can see all the news sources here.

Naturally we’ve been left with many questions about the new expansion. Especially about the new faction (The Zakuul Empire), what’s going to happen to our characters and companions (Charles Boyd enlightened us slightly recently) and many others concerning how the story change is going to affect game play. We also got some additional clues here (and there might be more soon) from Massively OP. In this post however, I’m going to focus on questions relating to Vitiate and Valkorion and speculate about the Zakuul Empire.

cropped-space-station1.png
The Eternal Throne Room Towering Above Zakuul, The Capital Of The Eternal Empire.

What Do We Know about the Zakuul Empire?

The Zakuul Empire is the new faction that is going to decimate the Republic and the Sith Empire. But who are they? Where did they come from? Why would they attack now when they could have easily attacked when the Sith Empire revealed themselves and were decimating the Republic during the Great War?

The most likely explanation is that they are an offshoot of the first Sith Empire after (or towards the end of) the Great Hyperspace War. The original Sith Empire was decimated  by the Republic and Vitiate lead the remaining survivors away to safety. It’s not inconceivable to assume that there could have been another group of survivors. For example, it is possible that remnants of the Sith Cult, Krath could have hypothetically grouped up and found a new planet to conquer. Then slowly built up an Empire that would conquer other planets just like the Sith Empire did. Hypothetically they could also have done so under the direction of Vitiate.

In any case, we know very little so far about the Zakuul Empire. We know that their ‘Eternal Emperor’ is named Valkorion. We know that their capital is called Zakuul which is a city spanning an entire planet. Their warriors are referred to as Zakuul Warriors. They look pretty old fashioned in Star Wars terms especially with the weaponry they use. Hence my assumption that they’re the descents of an offshoot group of people from the Great Hyperspace War era. I know it’s kind of a wild guess but it kind of fits with what little we know and have seen of them.

great-hyperspace-war-soldiers
Great Hyperspace War Weaponry. Screen Grab Taken From Jedi Archivist Master Gnost-Dural’s Galactic History Holorecords.

Where exactly are they located? In this interview with IGN all that Bruce Maclean would say is that they are on the edges of the areas we have dealt with in SWTOR. So I guess we’ll have to wait and see exactly where they come from.

As to why they are attacking now, it’s hard to say without knowing how or if Vitiate is involved. If Vitiate is somehow involved then the timing of the Zakuul Empire’s attack does make sense. If they are independent of Vitiate it would’ve made more sense to invade sooner, towards the end of the Great War when the Republic was near defeat and the Sith Empire was preoccupied with the war. It would’ve been brilliant timing. Sitting back and watching how both sides did in an all out war against each other then sweeping in and decimating them all, taking advantage of their weaknesses. That would’ve assured an easy victory.

SkyscraperCityViewConcept

Another thing to consider is that the Zakuul Empire would’ve put in as much time and planning for the invasion as the Sith Empire did under the direction of Vitiate. Considering it took the Sith Empire hundreds of years to build up their armada, plan their attack and infiltrate the Republic, I dare say the Zakuul Empire would’ve at least had to have done the same and it would’ve taken them 1000+ years at least to prepare and build up their army like it did the Sith Empire.

Are there similarities or differences between the Zakuul and Sith Empire’s? All we can really say is that the interior decorating is different. The Zakuul seem less morbid and ‘evil’ like the Sith (with their red, black and grey colour palette) and more regal and luxurious in their colour scheme choice with lots of white, gold and some blue.

We know the Eternal Emperor is at the top but how does the rest of the Zakuul power structure / government work? What philosophy do they have in regards to the force (they’re not Jedi/Light side or Sith/Dark Side)? How are their force users trained? They appear to some degree to have some resemblance of a warrior culture perhaps a little like the Mandalorians? I say this because of the gladiatorial ring seen in the Sacrifice trailer and the way we saw Arcann and Thexan raised and trained as warriors.

Are Vitiate and Valkorion the same person? Is Vitiate involved with the Zakuul Empire at all?

What part will Vitiate play? Is Valkorion just a puppet of Vitiate’s? Are they brothers? There are so many questions you could ask.

Before attempting to answer some of these questions, I wanted to go over a few clues found in the recent story lines and from the Developers. I’ll start with The Rise of the Emperor Story (you can read my thoughts about it here.). Are there any clues from Ziost as to what the former Emperor Vitiate is up to?

Vitiate’s Codex Entry (you get this codex after your final conversation with him on Ziost) asks some very interesting questions:

vitiate codex

The most important question however, is does Vitiate still want to annihilate all life in the galaxy and by doing so make himself all powerful and immortal? In your final conversation with Vitiate on Ziost, if you pick the right conversation option, Vitiate says this to you:

vitiate convo

It seems likely that he no longer plans to annihilate the entire galaxy, well not in one single ritual like he was attempting to do in the Jedi Knight story. But it is clear that he has plans and that we will see them. So there’s that to consider.

What of Valkorion? His description is quite intriguing:

Everything until now has been the means to an end. I forged the Empire of Zakuul to surmount all of my previous works. It will span eternity.

Do not presume there are limits to my power. The Eternal Empire commands a fleet that will reshape the galaxy into any image I choose. Whatever you hope to achieve by opposing me, know that you will never succeed.

This part, to me, is the most interesting ‘Everything until now has been the means to an end. I forged the Empire of Zakuul to surmount all of my previous works. It will span eternity’. I mean it does sound like something Vitiate would say. This alone makes it sound like Valkorion and Vitiate are the same person.

If Valkorion is not Vitiate or they’re not affiliated then what does Valkorion mean by this line ‘I forged the Empire of Zakuul to surmount all of my previous works. It will span eternity’? What has he been up to all this time? I mean having two Emperor’s who became immortal independent of each other seems a bit of a stretch doesn’t it?

Valkorion capture
The Eternal Emperor

Valkorion and Vitaite do have some similarities. For instance neither of them are directly involved in the wars they instigate. They send others to do it for them and coordinate from behind the scenes. This doesn’t mean that they were both uninterested in the governing and politics of their Empires. We know Vitiate was more of a force scholar then a ruler but again, we don’t know enough about Valkorion to know what his reign is like. He takes some interest in both of his twin son’s progress as they learn combat and force techniques but that is ultimately to see which one will prove the stronger.

What are their motivations? We know Vitiate seeks power and has an immense fear of death. We know war and the deaths of thousands of beings fuel his powers. So getting the Zakuul Empire to instigate a fast paced, sweeping conflict would be ideal for Vitiate’s powers to grow much faster than at the current rate of conflict between the Republic and the Empire. Unfortunately again, we don’t know enough about Valkorion to say what his motivations are.

One thing that does seem at odds with Vitiate and Valkorion being the same person is children. We know Valkorion has three children. His twin sons Arcann and Thexan and a daughter called Vaylin. Vitiate, as far as we are aware, has no children and has no interest in them. He’s far too absorbed in his own personal immortality and the gaining of power and well, having children would cause problems down the line. But then again Valkorion’s children could just be a means to end, tools to carry out his plans. Ultimately we’re once again stuck with not knowing enough about Valkorion to understand his personality like we know Vitiate’s.

One last intriguing clue about Vitiate and his capabilities comes from the answer given to a question asked at the SWTOR Cantina Tour in Anaheim.

Question: Will we ever get to see the Emperor in his original true body as a pureblood? (starts at 45:58)

Answer: Jesse Sky says ‘One of the great things about the Emperor is that he is all powerful. He can take many forms. That’s all I’m willing to say’. Musco says ‘Stay tuned’. Michael Backus chimes in ‘What if his trueblood form isn’t his original actual form? What if there is more to the story?’ Musco ‘insert eyebrow raise’.

So their joking aside, there’s more going on then we know with Vitiate. It does open up the possibility of of Valkorion and Vitiate being the same person. We know for sure that Vitiate can inhabit more than one body at one time and control their actions separately. The problem with this however is when the Jedi Knight defeated him and wounded his spirit/essence in their confrontation on Dromund Kass he lost the ability to do this and retreated into a slumber on Yavin IV to recoup his power. So for a period of time until after Ziost he likely didn’t have the power to possess multiple bodies at once. This was likely the purpose of his ritual on Ziost. To feed on all the deaths of millions to fully gain his power back.

Actually, this would explain the timing of the Zakuul Empire’s attack quite perfectly. Once Vitiate had gained his full power he would want to quickly eliminate all opposition to him in both the Republic and Empire. That aside, let’s consider this next part.

The ‘Deleted Spoiler’

Something that came up recently on the forums and was subsequently deleted, by the Developers, was a supposed spoiler about Valkorion and Vitiate.

Valkorian and Vitiate are actually brothers, and Arcann & Dexan were an allegory for the Emperor and his brother. Valkorian and Vitiate were seperated in their youth, and now Valkorion has returned to subsume his brother.

Well, I mean that sounds plausible and that fact Bioware went to all the trouble to delete the thread is little dubious. But at the same time we can’t take it as fact until we know more.

All we know of Vitiate‘s family is that he was:

The illegitimate Sith son of Lord Dramath of Medriaas and a poor farm woman. He killed his step- father and tortured his mother to death at the age of 6. He went on to kill his father, Lord Dramath, at the age of ten. He had a half brother, Dramath the Second, whom he also sought to kill. But Dramath the Second fled Medriaas to the planet Rekkiad.

So he did have a half brother. As for the trailer being an allegory for Vitiate and Valkorion’s relationship, well, that doesn’t fit with what we know at all. From the information I’ve gathered, they never even meet each other, let alone get raised together.

Dramath the Second went to Rekkiad, with some disciples and lived out the remainder of his days there. He died and was buried in a tomb which was discovered by a servant of Vitiate’s a thousand later who took Dramath’s remains to the Emperor.

The little amount of information we have leaves us with plenty of room to speculate unfortunately. One thing we can say with a fair amount of certainty is that he was likely not a particularly powerful Sith. Otherwise he wouldn’t have run away from Tenebras/Vitiate. He would have faced him. So it is unlikely he would’ve had the power to reach immortality and become Valkorion.

However, it’s possible that he did not sit idly by freezing his toes off on Rekkiad. Everything Dramath did could have been a ruse. He could’ve been hiding his power and perhaps decided to grow his power in secret and seek out his own Empire to one day confront and defeat his half brother Vitiate. Maybe the tomb could be a ruse and those are not his remains? He could have gone elsewhere with some of his disciples. This isn’t beyond the realm of possibility I suppose but it a bit of stretch without more information.

sith-emperor-on-throne
The Emperor has been planning and scheming for hundreds of years for more then just the invasion of the Republic and destroying the galaxy perhaps?

I suppose if those were Dramath’s remains in the tomb then Vitiate could have done something with his remains? Performed a ritual? Used the DNA to make a host body and forge another Empire? This opens up the possibility of Valkorion being a pawn of Vitiates. This does not leave enough time for an Empire to be created and formed (based on how long it took the Sith Empire to form). The remains were discovered around 300 years before the Sith Empire revealed themselves to the greater galaxy so it is highly unlikely that this scenario occurred.

Some questions to consider before we move on:

If they are brothers they are clearly both incredibly powerful. We know the lengths Vitiate went to gain his ‘immortality’ but what did Valkorion do? Were his rituals similar? We know he’s dark sided from the trailer at the very least.

Did Vitiate know about his brother all along? That he’s alive and made his own Empire? He know’s of the existence of other worlds and empire’s that are beyond the knowledge of the Republic and Sith Empire. I believe it is possible that even if Vitiate is not affiliated with the Zakuul Empire at all, he at the very least knows of it’s existence.

Ultimately, I can see Vitiate not caring so much about the war if it means he will gain more power from all the death and suffering. We saw that on Ziost and Revan novel readers saw it on Nathema.

Some Final Thoughts/Clues from Other Area’s of SWTOR

Something else of note is why did The Emperor (Vitiate) sign the Treaty of Coruscant? Yes the war was progressing much slower than he would’ve liked but why just all of a sudden stop when you had the advantage and would eventually gain victory? Yes Revan did influence the Emperor through their connection but still it could’ve been part of the Emperor’s designs. We know he also disappeared afterwards into the Unknown Regions of the galaxy. For what purpose? This is also worth noting. Did he discover or go visit the Zakuul Empire in his absence?

Yes you could counter that once Revan an Vitiate were free of each other Vitaite accelerated his plans to destroy all life in the galaxy. Perhaps he feared what Revan might’ve known about his plans and wanted to take swift action. After ultimately failing at the hands of the Jedi Knight and later realising Revan didn’t know that much of his plans at all, he proceeded with his original plans once he recouped his strength on Yavin IV and Ziost.

Something else I wanted to point out of note is the final mail you get from Darth Marr after you have completed the Rise of the Emperor story on an Imperial character:

Darth Marr mail

It obvious he is alluding to all out war in his message. We’re being told to prepare for war. He can sense there is a war coming but no doubt he is unaware of the Zakuul Empire will be the ones to bring it.

Is the mail you get from Satele Shan, as a Jedi Knight when you’re doing the Forged Alliance story line, where she says she senses something is wrong to do with Revan and his Revanites or the Zakuul Empire and Vitiate?

There is a faint yet growing disturbance in the Force I need to look into. If you happen to sense anything out of the ordinary, I hope you’ll let me know. – Satele Shan (source)

Speaking of the Jedi Knight, what did Lord Scourge really see in his vision of the Jedi Knight? Did he see the events of Dromund Kaas or Vitiate’s actual defeat whenever that will be? Will Lord Scourge actually have a part in this next chapter of the story?

Conclusion

There are two main possibilities in my view. Vitiate and Valkorion are the same person or Vitiate and Valkorion are brothers. It is most likely that the Zakuul Empire originated from remnants of people from the Great Hyperspace War regardless of whether Vitiate and Valkorion are brothers or not.

There is evidence for Vitiate and Valkorion being the same person. But at the same time it doesn’t feel quite right either from what we know of Valkorion and the Zakuul Empire. Vitiate and Valkorion being brothers is possible, but unlikely. So at this stage, until we know more, I’m inclined to believe that Vitiate must play a role in the next expansion, somehow. To what capacity or what his affiliation is? Well, I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

In any case Vitiate will be around in some form. It would be a shame and really bizarre of Bioware to all of a sudden toss Vitiate out the window when his plot clearly is not concluded yet. I mean, why go to all the trouble of ‘igniting’ his return in Shadow of Revan, then having a story expansion (Rise of the Emperor) where he the main focus, only to not have him in the next chapter of the story? After Ziost, it felt like things were heating up and were in the near future going to go into overdrive in regards to Vitiate. But now we can’t say for sure what is going on with Vitiate in regards to this new expansion.

Unfortunately a lot of guess work has gone into this post due to the lack of evidence. I did my best to ensure my theories were in line with lore and tried to find all the sources of information I could. The thing with Vitiate though is knowing and understanding how powerful he is, anything is possible. So my conclusion is Vitiate is too powerful and too important to not be involved in the Knights of the Fallen Empire story. We don’t have enough hard evidence to say how but no doubt we will know more in time.

I’m looking forward to seeing how the Knights of the Fallen Empire story turns out and I hope you all enjoyed reading this post! Do you reckon Vitiate will be involved in the Knights of the Fallen Empire storyline? Who do you think Valkorion is?

 

I’d like to thank my guildy Moonstorm for proofreading this post! I greatly appreciate it!

 

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  • Maybe I’m just not imaginative enough, but the main reason I struggle with the idea of Vitiate being Valkorion is age. I mean, in the trailer he looks, what, sixty? And he’s clearly already pretty evil by the time his sons are born. Since we’re supposed to meet some of our companions again after having been frozen in carbonite, I can’t really see the time skip being long enough to give Vitiate enough time to become Valkorion and for all of this to happen… but we will see.

    • Well he has been around for over 1300 years so anything is possible with Vitiate. Vitiate can possess multiple bodies at a time at his choosing or it could be like the connection he had with his ‘children’ from the consular story. There’s so many possibilities, we just don’t have enough evidence unfortunately to determine if or how Vitiate fits in with the Zakuul Empire. But like you said, we’ll have to wait and see how it all unfolds.

      • Ominus

        Actually, no. Vitiate _cannot_ possess multiple bodies at a time, because;

        [Spoiler]
        As the warrior you have to slay the old voice on Voss so he can move on, actually. But hey, it is BioWare, so sloppy writing wouldn’t be totally unexpected, sadly. 😉

  • wangxiuming

    Great post! Really interesting and well-thought out theories.

  • Ivilon

    Nice work Xam! Especially how you recalled several of the old in-game mails we got. In the past they have used those to drop BIG hints (remember that one hinting at Manaan?) so it’s really smart to keep them all in mind. Right now I’m thinking Vitiate is totally important to the plot, but that we will be going on kind of an informational treasure hunt through which we piece together exactly what happened after Ziost. It’s gonna be fun!!

    • Thank you! 🙂 Yep they always like to put clues for upcoming content in the current game content. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all turns out!

      OotiniCast is doing a spoiler podcast in a couple of weeks. I’ll be guest on the show and we’ll be exploring all the possibilities and looking for clues! 🙂

  • You’re also missing some clues about the Zakuul from at least 2 other class stories. Sith Inquisitor and Sith Warrior during the Rishi part of the Shadow of Revan story.

    In Warrior, your opening scene to SoR is having a vision of a darkness stemming out from the Rishi Maze and then consuming the main galaxy. Also, the Warrior’s benefactor, Darth Vowrawn decides to flee from the Emperor’s Hand to the Rishi Maze.

    In Inquisitor, one of your underlings Lord Veijel constructed devices in the jungles of Rishi that was sending signals to the Rishi Maze. These devices had encountered different languages such as Gree, Rakata, and Sith. They devices has since changed to more than just for communication. And thanks to the Inquisitor being transformed by the Mother Machine, his/her Force Walking powers, and such it enabled the devices to extend the Inquistor’s lifespan by one Solar Rotation. Intrigued you can choose to give Lord Veijel a fleet to take into the Rishi Maze.

    • Yes, since writing this post I have thought about the Rishi Maze more and agree with what you said especially about the RIshi Maze being a point of origin for the Zakuul Empire. I just started Rishi on my second Sith Warrior the other day and was very intrigued by that beginning cutscene!

  • Kel’Shara “Kel Dragon” Wrath o

    The thories mentioned by you all are great.

    And so I have to create mine as well ^^

    I think the hints from the class storys Ortus mentioned are not really connected to the upcoming story. The reason is simple. As he pointed out it is all about the Rishi Maze and since the release of the Gameplaytrailer we know that Zakuul and it’s Empire are not from outside this galaxy, but on the outer rim. Which means that it is actually within the main galaxy.

    But I am sure that these hints on Rishi will be relevant in the future.

    About the discussion of Valkorion being Vitiate.
    Well, I won’t spoil. So I try to explain it.

    I heard theories on the Empire of Zakuul being a “third” faction joining the war. Being the realm of Vitiates brother and many more.

    But I need to quote the codex entry Xam has used above. … but is that still the case? Was it ever? Did he have actuall other plans all along?

    Hm, a good question.
    Well, the devs gave us a hint. They said, that after 4.0 will be released and we know the stroy, we will recognize that in SoR they had hidden some “spoilers”. Does that mean, that we can count Ziost in as well?
    Sure, why not. It was not part of the original expansion, but we encountered the Emperor there the first time (except for the knight). This means (only my thought) that the first part of the codex entry was to be released with 3.0, but then they added Ziost and we got it than.

    So, according to the codex we got, we should question the motives of Vitiate.
    All the war – a distraction?
    He did it once with the Mandaorians. What if the Empire is nothing but a puppet as well?

    I see it this way.
    Vitiate is a really good magician. You know, one of those you encounter in the circus. Who do their tricks work? With illusion. They distrect the audience and while that they perform the “real magic”.
    And this is exactly what Vitiate did/does.

    All the events he set in motion. All the story we have seen ist just a mere distraction, an illusion to hide his real plans.

    I won’t tell if Vitiate is indeed Valkorion or his brother, etc. But I will tell you something. If I recall it correctly, Vitiate had a brother. A half brother. The legitmate son of the ruler of Nathema.
    But he killed him as well as his father.
    And according to the Book Revan Vitiate was a Sith Pureblood. So why should his brother be human at all?
    No, it is clear that Vitiate is the only surviving person of his family (putting it that way)

    But why than creating a human Emperor? If we say that Zakuul is not a third faction that evolved without knowing of the Empire and the Republic.

    The answer is easy: The people of Zakuul are human. So?
    I guess they were not highly civilizised. And if Vitiate really did a trick on all of his, he had to build something howly new. And nothing is better to form than a child. A civilizing child.
    He could form something new out of “nothing.”
    But would you accept a ruler who is not like you? Imagine he would come to Earth, some thousand years ago. A humanoid being – yes – but all that red skinned-sith like typ.
    I hardly believe he could rule them.
    He might use power to subdue them, but what would made this one different to the Empire he had before?
    To rule them and create the “perfect” Empire he needed to be one of them.
    (no spoiler, just a quote) “Do these people have any idea who you really are.”

    For me this is enough to know for sure who he is.
    And what he had done.

    Now it is up to you to put the last parts together.

    But be aware.
    A great danger is waiting in the blackness of eternal space.

    And some had made great scrifices to uncover the truth 😉

    Kel