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The long wait for Genshin Impact’s version 2.7 was worth it, as the new Archon Quest Interlude Chapter, Perilous Trail, delivered what may be the game's most heart-wrenching tale of self-sacrifice yet.
With an unlikely crew consisting of Xiao, Yelan, Yanfei, Arataki Itto, Kuki Shinobu, and Ushi, we players found ourselves trapped within the hidden depths of the Chasm, where we had to contend with a chaotic space in order to get out.
Along the way, we discover exactly what happened in the Chasm during the Catacylsm 500 years ago, and what a brave band of Millellith and a mysterious Nameless Yaksha did to stop the monsters from Khaenri'ah.
Safe to say, this quest chain got us — well, me, specifically — sobbing into the sheets.
Warning: The following contains spoilers regarding the Chasm. If you haven’t done any of your Chasm quests, have not completed the perilous trail event, have not read lore material picked up from Liyue, or are not aware of Xiao’s character stories or the adepti, read at your own risk!
Xiao, the Yakshas, and Karmic Debt
One of the multiple storylines woven into the Perilous Trail questline features Xiao's quest to find the mysterious Nameless Yaksha, who was apparently involved in the battle at the Chasm 500 years ago.
If you are aware of Xiao’s backstory, which was explored in his story teaser, the Yaksha were a group of guardian adepti summoned by Rex Lapis in ancient times to protect Liyue from devastation.
Of the many Yaksha, there were five 'Prime Yaksha' considered to be the strongest of their kind: Bosacius, Indarias, Bonanus, Menogias, and Alatus, who we know now as Xiao.
During those violent times, slain older gods would curse the land, bringing with their resentment monsters of all shapes and sizes.
These formidable warriors were well-versed in battle, and while they brought victories to Liyue and provided safety to its residents, their eons of slaughter would later on cause their painful downfall with Karmic Debt.
But what exactly is Karmic debt?
This concept is heavily rooted in Indian religions like Buddhism, as well as the eastern religion of Taoism. But to learn about Karmic Debt, we must first be aware of the concept of Karma.
Karma refers to the spiritual principle of cause and effect, where the intent and actions of an individual influence their future.
Karmic Debt can thus be surmised as the “effect” of one’s negative actions against other sentient beings, which manifests negatively, like one’s shortening of life, illness, and poverty.
In the world of Genshin Impact, the Karmic Debt that the Yakshas incurred from their wars drove them to insanity. The debt would be so great that they would cower in intense fear, losing their sense of self.
Of the five Prime Yakshas, only Xiao has survived.
Indarias the Pyro Yaksha succumbed to her karmic debt, dying as she went mad from the weight of her fear. Bonanus the Hydro Yaksha and Menogias the Geo Yaksha wound up destroying each other.
Finally, Bosacius, the leader and Electro Yaksha, was said to have “succumbed to the darkness” and disappeared off the face of the earth.
For the Yakshas, their tragic ends are unavoidable destinies. In the end, they too, must pay their debts.
Xiao's desire for sacrifice
As the last surviving Yaksha, Xiao thinks it is only inevitable that he, too, must succumb to his Karmic Debt.
Even so, he remains steadfast as a protector of Liyue, perhaps knowing that continuing down this path and giving up his life in the line of duty will be a relief from the weight he has carried all his life.
The desire for ultimate sacrifice lies at the heart of the Perilous Trail quest, with Yelan and Xiao notably having a heated discussion about it when it was time to figure out a way to escape the Chasm's depths.
While Xiao was ready to put his life on the line to help his companions escape, Yelan, who had once survived thanks to the sacrifice of her peers, vehemently disagrees.
But in the end, Xiao was forced to use what little power he had left to transport his friends to the surface, while Yelan realises this a little too late, trying to reach out to him as she and the others are teleported away. Xiao then begins to fall into the darkness.
I am not ashamed to say that I was literally sobbing into my hands as I watched this scene unfold.
I was ready to riot. No way was HoYoverse really making Xiao the Honkai Impact 3rd Murata Himeko of Genshin Impact.
But luckily for us Xiao mains, although he came real close, his turn to make a sacrifice was foiled by Zhongli.
The climax of the Perilous Trail quest echoes the events of what happened in the Chasm 500 years ago.
Boyang, a thaumaturge (a fancy way to say magician) and Yelan's ancestor, and a band of Millellith worked together with the Nameless Yaksha to seal the endless tide of monsters from Khaenri'ah deep within the Chasm.
This Nameless Yaksha was then revealed to be Bosacius, who by that time was already driven mad by Karmic Debt but was still somehow compelled to do his duty.
Little by little, their enemies and companions died, until only Bosacius and Boyang were left in the darkness of the deep underground.
In probably the most gut-wrenching story teaser that HoyoVerse has released to date, we witness the last days of Bosacius in “Only Old Memories Remain”.
Having been torn from his original sense of self, Bosacius is confused and amnesiac, even calling Boyang “Menogias”.
Boyang reminds him of their purpose and their sacrifice, with a little tinge of regret of not being able to leave the sealed space. The two, one mad, one going mad, wait out their days in the darkness.
Bosacius has little time left to live.
In his last throes of life he would remember who he was and who his family was, he would remember his fellow Yakshas, and the good memories he had spent with them before they and he were consumed by their debt.
But maybe, karma can be kind to those who have incurred its debt.
Before he dies, the Nameless Yaksha recalls his name, and like it was before he lost his mind, he ended the scene with a proud announcement of his name: “I am Bosacius, and my destiny is to make the ultimate sacrifice.”
Excuse me while I wipe the tears from my face.
The interlude chapter has a bittersweet ending.
After the harrowing ordeal, Xiao and the Traveler end up at Pervases’ rebuilt temple. He would recount his past with his brothers and sisters, revealing that Pervases was one of their own but died during the Archon War.
And for Xiao, not knowing what happened to Bosacius was a thorn in his heart that now has been relieved, although being painfully wrenched out.
He reflects on his action of suicidal sacrifice and, as if being weighed by survivor’s guilt, quietly breaks down as he recalled his brothers and sisters who had died, Bosacius and Boyang, and the soldiers who had sacrificed themselves.
But the Traveler tells him that they weren’t victims of their fates, but heroes who had given Liyue the bright future it has now.
Xiao, who had seemingly been closed off, pessimistic, and distant, agrees.
We are given the assurance that the Conqueror of Demons, who had been indifferent to himself and his peers in fear of tainting them with his Karmic Debt, has opened up to the people who love and appreciate him.
This interlude chapter was a 10/10 for me.
Liyue quests have always been a treat to play through, because the lore-rich history and well-written characters always shine.
The writers definitely outdid themselves with this one.
And now that Xiao has gone through a whole entire character arc, I’m excited to see how he will change in the upcoming quests where he will take the stage yet again.
Yan Ku is a full-time dog parent, part-time (gacha) gamer, and part-time writer.