Now, I hope this isn't a duplicate, but so far I couldn't find any thread discussing this topic. As the title already imples, I would like to discuss the ending(s) of Enderal and what links them to Nehrim, followed by an assumption about which one is the good one. Also, please forgive my bad english.
Before I start with what my opinion on that matter is, please be warned that the following text will contain massive spoilers for Enderal and Nehrim
Apart from that, I will work with the following assumptions:
The cycle let's the high ones reproduce by consuming humanity, killingi t in the process.
The aged man is a prophet who managed to survive and predates the black guardian. He is ultimatly against the cycle.
Nehrim and Enderal take place in the same reality, despite little continuity-errors.
The veiled woman is the embodiement of chance, or possibility (IIRC that also makes her entity heavily related to the concept of magic) and while she is a tool of the cycle, she seems to work as humanities advocate.
Neither Jespar nor Calia are fleshless.
Oh boy, let's start.
In Nehrim, we learn that we are part of a cycle that goes as follows: Humans create/become lightborn gods -> Gods rule world, creating an inbalance -> a mortal kills the gods -> mortal ascends to the shadow god -> an entity of fate ganks the shadow god -> the human civilisation resets (I am not sure about the last point, but I think something like that was impled and if you want to reintroduce gods to humanity, you will have to destroy the memory of the old ones first, aka resetting the civilisation). This cycle can be broken, or at least delayed, by beating fate through inter-dimensional shenanigans.
Now, we have Enderal, where a different cycle happens: Human civilisation comes to existence -> get's destroyed by catastrophe -> a theocraty rises -> theocraty falls -> cleansing -> reset. This cycle might be breakable if humanity beats the high ones in the cleansing.
If we were to accept these two cycles in the same reality, I see the following options:
1) There are a lot of retconns, don't think about it too hard. (I do not like that option)
2) Nehrims cycle (NC) happens multiple times in the Enderal cycle (EC), until it gets broken. So as long as we create and kill our gods the cleansing doesn't happen. Maybe surviving in Nehrim is what caused the events of Enderal in the first place.
IIRC breaking the NC is also caused by burning the prophecy, so maybe said prophecy prevented the cleansing?
Though I couldn't find a reason why that should be the case. After the events of Nehrim there is chaos, so maybe the EC is a metaphor of fate being broken and chance taking over? But overall I would say that the EC is completely deterministic in it's outcome, because the only way humanity doesn't get "cleansed" is by stopping to act like humans. (And the emissaries being, at least for once, not a caricature (Mary Sue?) of their former selfs). I'd say the CHANCE of this is a lot smaller than, let's say, a shadow god from another reality helping you.
3) NC and EC are the same. Or rather, both are part of the same cycle. This cycle happens as follows: Human civilisation comes to existence -> get's destroyed by catastrophe -> Humans create/become lightborn gods -> theocraty rises -> a mortal kills the gods -> mortal ascends to the shadow god -> an entity of fate ganks the shadow god -> theocraty falls -> cleansing/the human civilisation resets. It is fate that this happens. We build up gods and kill them, only to become a high one and resetting the world. After all, if you had to reset human civilisation, I'd say absorbing it into an higher entity and starting from scratch is as good as any other method. As mentioned before, I am unsure if that reset was specified in Nehrim or rather a semi-logical conclusion of me. Cause as mentioned, in order to start the NC cycle anew, you should make sure that when new lightborn rise, the rest of humanity doesn't prevent this bypointing out that you just had that crap. For the rest of the text I will assume this option to be the "correct" one, because I cannot see a real reason that speaks against it.
There is an interesting letter in the house of the aged man, which seems to be addressed to the player. In this letter I assume the aged man to talk about the events in Nehrim, stating that they turned out very well, though currently everything is, sadly, back to normal. Judging from the initial assumptions and and option 3), I would guess that wha the player did in Nehrim was working against the cycle.But all he did, as far as extraordinary deeds go, was to give fate the finger, further increasing the theory that the cycle of Enderal is orchestrated by fate. But fate is broken and chance takes over, free of determinism it can finally explore even the most unlikely possibilities. There are no gods left, so the world is again in balance and the cycle can continue, but at least for this cycle fate has no control. And this is where the ending comes into play. The player in Enderal is, at first glance, a standard prophet. Thinks he/she understands what is going on, gathers humanities resources in it's struggle against eldritch horrors and causes it's downfall. But this time, the prophet survives and is able to talk to the black guardian. Now, it is possible that this guy lies with every word he says, but my assumption is that he speaks the truth about the following: The starlings survived the cleansing only to succumb and he never saw a prophet survive. Again, the only explanation I could come up with why the most unlikely possibility happend and the prophet survived is by the player in Nehrim beating fate.
Let's move forward to the endings. There are two options.
1) Let the cleansing happen and flee to the city in the sky to make sure the next civilisation knows what's up. Maybe even become a god. I do not like this option. Because I am certain that the high ones or whoever created this cruel cycle (fate?) anticipated the possibility of the shadow god cheating fate and the prophet surviving the cleansing. And that means there is a failsafe in the cycle. It is even mentioned. The first civilisation humans come up with always gets destroyed by catastrophe, which later ends with the rise of lightborn gods. But the prophet knows this, right? He/She is the special prophet, the one that cheated the high ones after all...
Well, I am certain that the aged man thought the same. This is at least my interpretation of that character. In his cycle the shadow god defeated fate, too (Which would show that fate just "regenerates" each cycle!), and he and his companion managed to survive the cleansing. (Not in the starling city, which most likely did not exist back then). The result is kind of depressing. The cycle still exists, his companion is artifically kept alive and he seems to be completely disaffected with humanity. I mean, evenif he is not a prophet, that guy most likely knows the true nature of the cleansing but doesn't tell the prophet anything about it, stating that it wouldn't matter. That guy lost all the hope he could ever have, and judging from the dialogue with his companion, she seems to have realized this too, so she is trying her best to cheer him up while suffering for an eternity. (Well, that part is my interpretation).
Also there was this (not so)subtle message of how he failed because of his own pride. This was probably just a comment to how he made the cleansing happen, but if my assumptions are correct, then it might also be a connected to his attempt to reform humanity (or to his attempt to not make his companions eternal life hell...)
Overall, I call this ending "Trust in yourself". Might work out, but I doubt it.
2) Sacrifice yourself, destroy Enderal and hope that humanity manages to pull itself together. As with the first ending, there is most likely a failsafe. In the end, you are just delaying the cleansing. The high ones can create new emissaries that build another beacon (btw a great metaphor for fighting fire with fire) and another ruler will use it, pressured by the next Koarec. But your companion still lives. A survivor of Enderal, with the impossible task of beating the high ones in their own game. It is absolutely possible that the companion just dies on the flight to the next continent, maybe even becoming the next prophet as part of an immense irony.
And even when Claia or Jespar manages to arrive safely at the next continent, the chance that he/she is able to convince the local ruler to listen, and getting the rest of the world to not mess up is rather slim. This possibility didn't happen for a long time, maybe never. I assume it didn't happen since the black guardian was created and before that we wouldn't even know if it happened.
This option is literally a shot in the air with the hope to hit the enemy commander, who is 3 kilometers way, by accident. While moving. The CHANCE stands 1 against a billion. But chance is free of fate this time. The cycle is still ongoing, fate is out of the game (I guess) and the veiled woman actually seems to have an interest in stopping the cycle. When the game ends and your companion gives his/her speech, there is always that one line that gives me hope. "The man that would later be remembered as the prophet". They will remember you. If they will remember you, they must survive. Of course, it is not clear when your companion makes this speech. Maybe he/she writes this lines down only seconds before some emissary on the other side of the world ignites the beacon without numinos and restarts the cleansing. But what are the chances, eh?
Apart from that, he/she states that there is already a new beacon build. This either means that humanity is doing the same mistake again, or they actually listened to the companion and are building it correctly this time.
I call this ending "Trust in humanity". Will most likely end badly. but if Terry Pratchet told me one thing, then that it can only work if the chances are 1 against a billion.
Puh. Reached the end? I hope so. I am aware that this text bases a lot on assumptions (and assumptions based on assumptions), and many details those assumptions are based on are probably cherrypicked while ignoring details that contradict them.
Tl;dr: I assume that Nehrim and Enderal are part of the same cycle orchestrated by fate though the protagonist in Nehrim managed do beat fate so there is now a small chance that the protagonist in Enderal beats the cycle. I reckon the chance to do so is higher in the sacrifice ending.
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