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Monty and the Shadowman - The Hidden Story of Tag Der Toten

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I want to once again thank @EricMaynard for the contributions. Just with the Apothicon Language that we deciphered ( https://www.reddit.com/r/CODZombies/comments/f13fao/the_apothicon_language_decoded_for_real_this_time/ ), this was just as much a team effort. I hope you enjoy the theory:

One question held by many players during the final map of Black Ops 4, Tag Der Toten, was where were Doctor Monty and the Shadowman? Both appear and are referenced heavily in-game, and even if one takes into account budget arguments, surely it would have been possible for some sort of appearance, even only in the campfire dialogue with the characters? No, this was a deliberate decision by Treyarch, and one with incredible ramifications. This theory will seek to explain why. But first, in order to dissect the end, we must travel back to the beginning.


It is impossible to say what reality was before creation, however it began with a single entity - The First One[1]. In the first moments, he brought into being the Astoth Arbzorark - The Key to All or Summoning Key, as it would come to be known, and with it, the first language. With the first object in existence, he crafted the dimensions and gave each one a unique mix of life. But he was alone and had no equal, and so he created kin, beings to watch over the universe with him and Keep it from harm. However, they still existed within the Aether, and without physical forms, so these Keepers created a space out of the infinite in which to manifest physically - Agartha[2]. It is impossible to date these processes, indeed, they could have been simultaneous, however in and among them, The First One ceases to be - henceforth in his place, two figures emerge and rise high within their society - one who would eventually come to be known as The Harbinger of Doom, The Shadowman and Mr. Rapt, and another who would be known as The Great Dragon, Satan and Dr. Monty. During this period, the race began experimenting with the Aether, with those under Monty developing a way to travel through the aether in order to bridge vast distances in space, and even time - Teleportation. However, The Shadowman undertook further experimentation with the Aether to a degree that his colleague deemed unnatural, manipulating the darkest forces of the Aether, and even creating a device, a Pyramid, in order to completely manipulate them. This led to an all-out war between the two factions, with those who were touched by the Aether’s darkness ultimately being defeated and banished into the very Aether that they had begun to shape for themselves. 


Over millennia, the two factions began to evolve to the point where they were no longer just separate factions, but separate species. Those who remained free became almost humanoid, abandoning the first language for a new one and believing themselves to be the righteous protectors of the universe, all the while endeavouring to keep their race pure[3]. Meanwhile, those who pushed the Aether to its limits lost their sense of self, instead becoming part of a singular hive mind, the only member with any sort of agency being their former leader [4], and yet maintaining their original language - a link to their past; perhaps a reminder of what they once were?
Now one thing of note here, the seeming disappearance of  The First One at the moment of the appearance of Monty and the Shadowman. It seems somewhat odd that the undisputed most powerful being in existence would instantly fade, and give way to the two most powerful, and evenly matched beings in existence. A rather simple explanation is that The First One, at some point, was severed (or severed himself) into two beings, equal yet opposite in power. This is not entirely unsubstantiated either: In revelations, when speaking about the nature of the Aether, Monty goes on the following tangent 
“...You know how people say when you cut a worm in half, both parts keep on living? Well, they do! Kind of.. for a bit. But then one of them dies, not sure if it's the ass or the head, but that's the problem with worms! They're a bit short on distinguishing features.”


Within the map itself, we see the Shadowman die, just as with one half of the worm, and yet come the next cycle, he is still alive, leading the Apothicons in the great war, as if he cannot be truly destroyed, and when exploring the analogy even more, if we take the line on “Distinguishing features”, Monty and the Shadowman, when in their true forms, look identical, in fact, being a perfect balance between the eldritch features of the Apothicons and the human features of the Keepers. Furthermore, we know that Monty’s power is limited to the manipulation of existing matter [5], yet the Shadowman is able to only manipulate the souls of individuals, with neither being able to use the ability of the other. This relationship is shown clearly by the Alcatraz pocket dimension: The Shadowman instructs the Warden to sacrifice the four mobsters, and then himself, in order to form the pocket. This is an identical relationship to Primis/Ultimis and the Elemental shard, however here, rather than the four souls fused to the shard to form the Aether, it’s four souls fused to the Warden himself to create the pocket (This is why the warden’s body can be manipulated through the Kronorium and Summoning Key to cause direct changes to the Pocket during BotD’s easter egg).


These limitations confirm Monty’s assertion in Revelations that he “isn’t all-powerful”, however if the Aether itself is based on souls, or life-energy (the very thing that the Apothicons are said to consume), then surely if the two were a singular entity, they would in fact be able to create ex-nihilo, or from nothing, just as The First One did.


Now onto Tag Der Toten. Within the timeframe of this map, The Shadowman exists exclusively within The Summoning Key, and Monty is unaccounted for. The end goal of Nikolai here is to permanently remove the Aether by destroying the current existence - that includes Agartha, because as previously established, Salvation comes only when Agartha burns. Furthermore, as stated by Maxis, if Agartha is to be destroyed, Monty himself will cease to be. This places Monty in an incredibly threatened position - regardless of what he does, he is now doomed to be destroyed and has no way to survive… Or does he?


When building the Agarthan Device, the player retrieves three components. These are the Seal of Duality, the Blood of an Apothicon Elder God/Overlord, and the Elemental Shard:


The Shard is the simplest to explain. In the forties when Richtofen was carrying out his initial experiments on Dempsey, Nikolai and Takeo, he learned about the Agarthan Device’s components from Jeb Brown’s recovered schematics, and decided he would do his best to construct it. Fusing the souls of the three test subjects, and his own, to a single piece of the Element, it grew and crystalised, forming the Shard. The Shard permanently binds the souls of these four, regardless of Dimension, and also means that these four souls form the lattice within which the Aether exists - just like its relationship with Agartha - one becomes intrinsic to the other. In essence, the shard is the entire Aether given form. 


The Blood of the Apothicon Elder God (or Overlord) is particularly interesting, and is what resulted in our decoding of the entire Apothicon language, of which we now have an entire other level of understanding. The Apothicons function under a hivemind, in fact, their language has no concept of “I”, with “Mine” in English translating into the Apothicon word for “Our”. For the Apothicons, the closest concept they have to a leader is that of the Shadowman, as he is capable of acting with a certain degree of agency, however without a doubt is undyingly loyal to his brethren - but the Shadowman is now sealed within the summoning key. This means that the Apothicon hivemind now takes exclusive precedence. The blood itself is interesting, because it presents us with the revelation that the Apothicons that we see are less like traditional life-forms, and instead like “crafts” or “vessels”. In fact, the only sentient part of an Apothicon is the Blood. This connection is what leads to the understanding that for all intents and purposes the Blood and the Shadowman are one and the same, or at the very least mentally understand what the other is doing.


The blood is seen talking to the player within the map, where it gives some incredibly interesting dialogue. After the initial “offerings”, the blood claims it will “speak now in the tongue that is forbidden” and proceeds to say “Seal of Duality” in Keeper ("Leesanatahn lu ahm") - this shows a clear resentment to the “new” language harboured by the Apothicons - however what follows is far more interesting. After completing the Shard - fully binding the Blood of the Apothicons within the Seal of the Keepers through the Aether - they say verbatim: 
“Light and Darkness reunite - The duality is resolved” Followed by “Beginning… End… Forever” (Arkeon... Asteon... Kareon...) in Apothicon - and to reiterate - this would have implications for the entirety of these races.


Which leads us to our final conclusion. The purpose of the Agarthan Device, The Tag Der Toten Easter Egg, and the reason both Shadowman and Monty had been found pursuing this device in the past (keepers and Jeb Brown/Reporter[6] going after device) was that it perpetuates the reuniting of Dr. Monty and the Shadowman, Keepers and apothicons, back into a singular being leading a singular race. The First One.

The one who created all from the Aether when there was nothing. Taking into account we see no resistance from Dr Monty in Tag Der Toten and no evidence the Shadowman was in the key or died when it explodes, it seems that the fusion took place before everything was put into the dark Aether. 
So with everything not destroyed, but in the Dark Aether, and Sam and Eddie in this new reality, the question remains: what does the existence of the first one matter?

Well, I leave you with this question:
If the first one created reality FROM the Aether… Could he leave it?


[1]: "Kronorium
Excerpt 349561223:
The Summoning Key is one of the oldest artifacts in all creation. It was used by the first one to mix all the dimensions with life, giving each one its unique balance. Under certain circumstances, it has the ability to form bridges between dimensions allowing the transfer of life forces back and forth. It resides in the 63rd dimensions"

[2]: The Keepers craft the Summoning Key, a device that allows them to manipulate the Aether. Holding power over reality itself, they use it to create Agartha. (Timeline section: Agartha)

[3]: Shadows of Evil sword “upgrade”, destroying the apothicon egg; circumstantially, it is the APOTHICONS who resolve the duality, not the keepers, they even break from tradition and speak in the new language

[4]: Nan-Sapwe going to the island and rescuing it himself shows that the keepers were more than capable of breaking from the herd and undertaking individual tasks.

[5]: Revelations quote "The minute you people teleported for the first time, you changed the rules. How am I supposed to keep track if you keep moving the pieces? Even when you were just a little problem, brewing in the far corner of existence, I tried to throw you a bone or two. I told you this, didn’t I? The magic box of weapons, the little clues here and there. I always tried to give you a little help without drawing too much attention to myself. The thing is though, I can't just magic things out of thin air. I have to manipulate things that already exist in your reality, like the perk drinks. They were something originally cooked up by Group 935. I just (whistles) I just used them for my own ends. Heh, I honestly don't even know how they work. I-I-I swear! As for the songs: Don't get me started!"

[6]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDh3yyqoAwQ
  Edward Richtofen: "Log Entry 1438. Date: July 18th, 1945. Dear diary, I have been in Group 935 Siberian facility for nearly days and mein cup already runneth over with exciting news! First, yesterday I've learned that I would receive not one, not two but three test subjects! Aah, hopefully with proper 115 injections we will be able to use these specimens to access to the human mind. The Chancellor's undead army is on standby until we crack this crucial step. Und secondly...

(A door is opened. Someone entered the room dragging another person)
Soldier: Here he is, Richtofen.
Richtofen: Get your damn hands off me! Now what do we have here? A spy?
Reporter: If you know what's good for you, you'd let me go!
Richtofen: Oh yes, ja, ja! I'm just you worked for someone incredibly important.
Reporter: Honestly, you have no idea.
Richtofen: How did you find mein secret facility? Who are you?
Reporter: I'm a reporter. I was hired by a man, Mr. Rapt, I never met him. He asked me to find some goods for him. Things he wanted badly.
 Richtofen: Sounds thrilling. And what were these... goods he wanted so badly?
Reporter: (sigh) Look, I don't know the specifics, he just told me to travel to Russia. He gave me these coordinates, which led me here. How was I supposed to know it was a freaking German base?! Gave some vague description of a strange metal object.
(Richtofen picks up the Vril Vessel)
Richtofen: This, I assume?
Reporter: Yeah, that'll be it. Called it the "Seal of duality", whatever the hell that means.
Richtofen: Well, the Vril Vessel isn't for sale and is certainly not for stealing. But it is curious. I have only just arrived in this facility, bringing the Vril Vessel with me. Yet, you somehow know it would be here. How is this possible?
Reporter: How the hell am I supposed to know? I just go where the Shadowman says to go. I don't know how he does it. Listen, when Mr. Rapt wants to find you he's got his ways. Look, you want to go ahead and get this over with, if you're gonna kill me, kill me. Not like it'll matter. It's kind of funny, you know. Something Mr. Rapt said, but if I failed him and died, it'll be okay. He said he'd reach out to me all over the multiverse, whatever that means. I didn't pay it no mind then but maybe some other me is out there having a lot better luck than I have
Soldier: Sir, what should we do?
Richtofen: Take the strange sad little man away. Find a hole.


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There’s so much insight I gained from this post. Major thanks to y’all for putting this out there for us as a community to enjoy & learn from!

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Awesome post, Cal and Eric, you are rightfully the User of the Month! Brains to this thread, and also Asylum approved!


I'm curious to the Blood's quote, 'Light and Darkness reunite', does that concern Dr. Monty and Mr. Rapt? And if so, why are they referred to as light and dark respectively while they are both pretty much the same, just different sides of the conflict.


Anyway, one thing that remains interesting me is the actual Great War, or War of Agartha as it is called in the Timeline, and it's relevance to mythologies and religions outside the fictional realm of Zombies. For a long time, and I presume that idea holds tight today as well, we've assumed that the tales about Ancient Aliens, the Keepers and Apothicans, are what sparked mankind for their idea of terms like 'Gods', 'Heaven' and 'Hell'. But also, very prominently, 'a Great War'. Quite some time back Tac made a high quality thread about it which can be seen here, and I later made a low quality (back when I didn't really mastered english yet) post here. Thing is, there are connections between CoDZ's Great War and the Great War in many mythologies/religions. A lot of connections. For the Tales about the Scandinavian Ragnarok, the story of the war between Atlantis and Lemuria, the story about the Christians' perception on a Great War and a Flood that makes the old world disappear, Indian/Hindu tales about gods battling each other in flying pyramids, the Great War in the Vril-Ya mythologies and lastly, Lovecraft's stories about the Elder Gods and Old Ones, see the prior linked threads. 


I am therefore confident that this war between Monty and Rapt's split factions are the actual events where mankind has based their idea of an ancient war between gods upon. One thing buggers me though, which is that in the Vril-Ya mythos and the tales about Atlantis versus Lemuria, Agartha is created after the Great War. Another note is that in almost all tales, mankind already existed during this Ancient Great War. And then we've also got the following two quotes:


"Once the Great War ended with the defeat of the Apothicons, the Keepers ascended to become the wards of all universes." - Kronorium
Excerpt 654371979


"The Keepers, an ancient order, were being granted the wisdom to see beyond the limitations of their own realm. Even while the rest of mankind scrabbled around in the dirt, drinking their own piss, the Keepers took mantle of benevolent watchers." - Doctor Monty


You see, I would like to consider the possibility that the Keepers didn't existed prior to the race of humans, but rather that they are humans. Or possibly aliens that came to Earth and were the beginning of our evolution, it doesn't matter. I think this old 'Mother Culture' was further developed than we currently are, but then the great conflict happened which made a faction later calling themselves the Keepers ascend while the Apothicans were defeated and banished. The rest of mankind was thrown back into our prehistory, from where our history books it will take over. Only tiny parts of what happened survived via tongue in the form of stories and mythologies. The 'Gods', the Keepers, remained involved in Earth's development, though, as they might have cared about the useless beings they once were theirselves, and they assisted us with developing agriculture and basic technology. Their appearance seeded our global religions. Merely a couple of constructions such as Shangri-La and the Pyramids of Giza remind us from our time before and during the Ancient Great War.


If the Keepers truly once were human, I imply that evolution also affected them, as their appearance is naturally way different than ours. In the Crazy Place in Origins we might see an early 'in-between form', as the zombies there seem to be very humanoid with a slightly different shape of the head and large, carnivorous jaws. Eventually, their heads became bigger (see the skull in Shangri-La) and their jaws grew even more (see the Skull of Nan Sapwe). Their eyes disappeared and they became the Keepers we know today.

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