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Cause of death:
289.6 centimeters (9.50 ft)
722.1 kilograms (1,592 lb)
Red (right eye blinded)
|Political and military information|
- "I want you to know my name too. To know my legend. How else will you beg me for mercy? I am Escharum. War Chief of the Banished. This is my world now. And you have little time remaining in it."
- — Escharum revealing his name to John-117.
Escharum was a prominent Jiralhanae War Chief within the Banished, inheriting the position of second-in-command following the death of Decimus. Escharum rose to power within the Banished and would lead the faction in Atriox's absence, after the warmaster's victory on Zeta Halo against the UNSC in late 2559. Escharum was eventually killed in battle by the Master Chief in May 2560.
Mentor to Atriox
During the Human-Covenant War Escharum served as Atriox's daskalo, or mentor. Escharum described Atriox as his finest "recruit". While they were both in the Covenant, Escharum advised Atriox to rebel when he sought counsel.
Leading the Banished
Around April 2558, Atriox and Decimus departed for the Ark aboard the Enduring Conviction, leaving Escharum in charge of all the Banished forces that remained in the galaxy. Shortly after Atriox left, Escharum assigned Blademaster Inslaan 'Gadogai to Castor as an advisor so that the dokab could thrive amongst the other Jiralhanae legionmasters; Castor's faction, the Keepers of the One Freedom, had joined the Banished just before the warmaster left for his mission to the Ark. The Sangheili consultant would also serve two other purposes: to act as a representative for Escharum and to punish Castor if he ever attempted to betray him.
In the summer of 2559, Escharum received a transmission from Atriox informing the war chief of his possession of a Forerunner slipspace flake and his intention of using it to return to the galaxy via a slipspace portal facility hidden on Reach. He instructed Escharum to find and activate this portal as soon as possible. Escharum sent the Keepers to Reach, along with the Legion of the Corpse-Moon and the Ravaged Tusks—two Jiralhanae clans that had been absorbed into the Banished and reorganized into legions under the direction of legionmasters Deukalion and Ballas, respectively. Their mission was locate the portal facility and report its location back to Escharum before activating it so that they all might be there together to witness the return of Atriox.
On October 12, 2559, Escharum arrived at Reach aboard his personal intrusion corvette to visit Castor and scold him in person for his inability to locate the portal. It had been roughly three months since the Keepers and the other legions had been assigned to the task, and none of them had anything to show for it other than some human towns and hardware that they had managed to capture. While Escharum approved of the dokab's plan to follow the recently-arrived team of Spartans to the hidden portal, he was dissatisfied with the lack of results. Landing at Figyelő Point, he confronted Castor and 'Gadogai, expressing his frustrations about both the still-missing portal and the fact that the UNSC was starting to gain a hold on Reach once again, putting pressure on their mission. However, the blademaster presented a plan—acting as if it had been the dokab's all along—that would buy them more time. If the Spartans did not lead them to the portal soon, they would use the human prisoners they had captured from the Viery Militia as hostages and force the rest off-world. This plan satiated the war chief's concerns until they were no longer relevant just moments later. The Keepers had detected a squadron of UNSC craft escorting a dropship into the Highland Mountains. Inspecting their path, Castor deduced that their destination was the "Missing Mountain".
Aboard his corvette, Escharum accompanied the Keepers as they converged on the basin that was once the mountain that sat atop CASTLE Base before it was forcibly removed by the Covenant during their invasion of the planet. This base was the Spartan team's actual destination. Ironically, CASTLE Base was built on top of the Forerunner portal facility that the Banished sought. After excavating the entrance to the facility, Escharum gathered there with 'Gadogai, Castor, the Keepers, and other Banished forces to witness Atriox's return. The dokab had one of his human acolytes activate the portal and soon a Eklon'Dal Workshop Lich descended out of the stormy sky. Atriox and some of his most loyal warriors disembarked the vessel and greeted Escharum. As they prepared to be evacuated by the war chief's corvette before one of the Apparition's Guardians noticed the portal and arrived to investigate, Castor made his move. He had his men board the Lich while he announced to Atriox and Escharum his plan to travel to the Ark and begin the Great Journey. Realizing that they couldn't waste time and lives in a firefight, Atriox had Escharum direct his soldiers out of the facility instead of having them deal with the betrayers. Atriox did, however, order 'Gadogai to kill Castor and bring him his head. Escharum warned the dokab that even if he survived, he would personally slaughter him if they were to ever meet again. Leaving the blademaster to his task, Atriox, Escharum, and the loyal Banished forces boarded the corvette and fled the planet. Ultimately, however, 'Gadogai would instead join the Keepers and they all travelled to the Ark aboard the Lich knowing that they would encounter more Banished when they reached the installation.
Battle for Zeta Halo
- "But... here you now stand. This is my last fight. A true test of legends! Our story will outlive us both. Set a fire in your heart, Spartan! Bare your fangs! Fight hard! Die well."
- — Escharum's declaration of war against John-117.
In December 2559, Atriox led the Banished to victory against the UNSC in an opening battle at Installation 07. The conflict resulted in heavy UNSC casualties, especially among personnel attached to the UNSC Infinity. Escharum maintained control over the installation in the months that followed as Atriox was believed to have perished when a part of the Halo installation was destroyed by Cortana, leading the Banished in the large-scale conflict.
Despite the fact that Atriox valued the humans in the Banished and that his denouncement of genocide as "barbarism" with "no reward" allowed the Banished to incorporate feuding species in the first place, Escharum decided to go against Atriox's core principles that tied the Banished together and allowed his Jiralhanae to kill off many humans in the faction not responsible for the Razing of Oth Sonin. While Escharum declared the destruction of humanity, he still allowed for some Banished humans to remain, notably those who had earned enough respect.
When Master Chief Petty Officer John-117 returned after six months being stranded in space vacuum. Escharum sent the Master Chief several transmissions during the course of his journey, taunting him and introducing himself. As the Master Chief destroyed a Banished AA gun, Escharum sent a hologram transmission to the legendary Spartan to challenge him to a battle, describing it as "a true test of legends." As the Master Chief took down the second of three AA guns, Escharum sent Tovarus and Hyperius after the Master Chief, informing the Spartan of the two's role in the Hand of Atriox, but they also fell to the Master Chief. Following the fight, Escharum briefly argued with The Harbinger and directed more Banished forces to protect the Command Spire controlling the ring's repairs. Once the Harbinger was gone, Escharum, who was revealed to be dying of a worsening terminal illness, ordered Blademaster Jega 'Rdomnai to bring him the Master Chief alive. Although concerned for Escharum's worsening condition, 'Rdomnai complied with his wishes.
After the Master Chief and the Weapon succeeded in shutting down the Command Spire and stopping the Reformation, Escharum angrily contacted the Harbinger and accused her of failing. The Harbinger revealed that the Silent Auditorium had been partially rebuilt, although she admitted that she didn't know if it was enough. Escharum ordered the Harbinger to find out and he smashed the holotable in a fit of rage. 'Rdomnai asked Escharum if there was a problem and he stated that he was losing patience with the Harbinger and demanded that 'Rdomnai tell him that his mission was a success. 'Rdomnai simply stated that the Master Chief would come to them and revealed that he had captured Fernando Esparza, much to Escharum's delight. Escharum ordered 'Rdomnai to keep Esparza alive, but to have his fun as 'Rdomnai deserved it. Escharum laughed as he watched 'Rdomnai drag Esparza away.
When the Weapon interfaced with a terminal in the Repository, attempting to find Esparza, she discovered that they were beneath a big Banished structure and that a message had been left behind by Escharum for the Master Chief. In the message, Escharum showed the Master Chief Esparza being tortured and taunted the Spartan about his empathy for Esparza's plight. Escharum promised that Esparza would not die by his hands, but that he would suffer until the Master Chief stood before Escharum. Escharum claimed that the Banished's ability to get rid of their empathy for others made them strong compared to humanity whom it makes vulnerable and defeatable. Stating that their time together was ending and that he awaited their final fight, Escharum ended his message. The Weapon discovered that Escharum had embedded coordinates within the message so as to make it easier for them to find him.
When the Master Chief arrived at the House of Reckoning, Escharum sent him a holographic transmission, taunting the Master Chief over the number of humans that had entered and died in his arena. Once the Master Chief entered the arena, Escharum encouraged him to scavenge weapons which he called a remnant of the dead soldiers' sacrifice and a testament to the Banished's strength. Escharum began sending in waves of Banished troops to attack the Master Chief, but they all fell and he was able to continue on. Escharum appeared in another transmission, stating that Cortana and the Created had destroyed his world, but she was unable to kill the fire that burned in the heart of the Banished, the loss of Doisac having only made them stronger and asked if the Master Chief could say the same. The Weapon wondered why Escharum was telling the Master Chief all of this, who explained that death changed people, forcing them to look at themselves and make a choice. Escharum chose to fight, the same as the Master Chief would have done. On the next level, Escharum contacted the Master Chief again, recalling the Siege of Palghanar where a settlement had held out against Escharum's forces for nineteen days before falling. Escharum claimed that while they fought well and to the end, they were doomed from the start. The Master Chief entered the next arena where Escharum again taunted him before sending more Banished forces after the Spartan, this time including a Hunter pair, but once again, they all fell to the Spartan. As the Master Chief carried on, Escharum contacted him again via hologram and mused about the symbolism of Halo's looping structure. On the third level, Escharum taunted him about how quickly and easily the Banished had defeated the Infinity and sent 'Rdomnai after him. However, the Master Chief managed to kill the Blademaster as well and Escharum told him that 'Rdomnai had wanted to kill Esparza, but Escharum had promised him a sweeter kill or a warrior's death instead. In a final hologram transmission, Escharum warned the Master Chief that no matter the outcome of their final battle, the Banished still controlled Halo, having come ready for war with a thousand legions occupying it. Escharum promised that the Silent Auditorium would give up its secrets and that the Master Chief's interference would just be a fleeting irritation.
Finally reaching Esparza, the Master Chief and the Weapon set to work on releasing him from Escharum's torture device. Escharum reminded the Master Chief that he had promised not to kill Esparza and revealed to the Weapon and Esparza that this had never been a trap, but rather a test of mettle and that their battle would end there. Escharum dropped down in full armor and announced that their story would become a legend told by those who survived them. Armed with a Grenflekt Workshop Scrap Cannon as well as Diminisher of Hope, Escharum attacked the Master Chief, eventually surrounding himself with an energy shield that was connected to the machine holding Esparza, causing any damage that was inflicted upon Escharum to be transferred to Esparza. Directed by the Weapon, the Master Chief destroyed the relays powering Escharum's shield in between bouts of fighting with the old War Chief. Once his shield was permanently disabled, Escharum switched from his cannon to his gravity axe, but the Master Chief finally emerged victorious, bringing Escharum down with his weapons fire and mortally wounding him.
As the Master Chief and the Weapon freed Esparza from the torture machine, the mortally wounded Escharum staggered over to the two men, demanding that they continue their fight, but the Master Chief informed Escharum that it was over. Collapsing into his foe's arms, Escharum stated that nothing ends and that his death would inspire a thousand others and he asked the Master Chief to tell them that he died well. The Master Chief held Escharum as he died, surprising Esparza with the respect that the Spartan had shown the old Jiralhanae given the latter's reputation as a monster. The Master Chief told Esparza that at the end, Escharum was just a soldier, hoping that he'd done the right thing and questioning his choices. Although Esparza thought that it was over since the Banished's leader was dead, the Master Chief warned him that there would be consequences and that there always were.
Personality and traits
Although Atriox welcomes humans to join and serve in the Banished due to the utility they offer, Escharum maintained a fierce dislike of them for reasons unknown and considered them to be vermin. While Escharum detested the sight of them, he still allowed some Banished humans to remain in his forces if they had earned enough respect. Despite the Sangheili having abused Escharum and his kind in the Covenant and genocidally killed Banished Jiralhanae following the Great Schism, Escharum oddly did not appear to hate the Sangheili as he did humans. He considered Jega 'Rdomnai to be his most respected soldier and developed a comradery with him, which was very rare between their species. Escharum also hated the San'Shyuum for their lies and deception.
Escharum reveled in combat and enjoyed the challenge certain Spartans could offer him; he encouraged the Master Chief to "fight hard" and "die well", sometimes appearing in holograms after the Weapon completes a task for John-117. Without battle, he somberly described himself to be lost and alone. Despite his hatred towards humanity, Escharum displayed a respect for the Master Chief as a fellow warrior and was invigorated by the revelation of his survival. He cared deeply about having a legacy to be remembered by and told the Master Chief to spread his legend in his dying breath. Despite being enemies, the Master Chief respected Escharum as well, telling Fernando Esparza that while Escharum was a monster, he was also a soldier - one rare compliment for his enemies. Part of Escharum's joy at having a final battle against such a legend may have come from his being terminally ill, fueling his desire for a worthy last opponent to die in battle against rather than succumb to his illness.
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- The name "Escharum" may derive from the Latin word Eschara meaning "scar, scab". This would be fitting as early concept art shows Escharum with prominent facial disfigurement, and his present model shows scars across his blinded eye and on the right side of his lip.
- In Pelican Down, it's revealed that Escharum is suffering from an unidentified terminal illness, one that Jega 'Rdomnai can smell is getting worse.
Early concept art exploration of Escharum for Halo Infinite.
More early concept exploration, with elements that would seemingly be worked into the design of Tovarus.
Escharum in the Halo Infinite Campaign Gameplay Trailer.
Screenshots and promotional art
Escharum looking on as Jega 'Rdomnai threatens Tremonius.
List of appearances
- Halo: Shadows of Reach (First appearance)
- Halo: Divine Wind (Mentioned only)
- Halo Infinite
- Halo: The Rubicon Protocol
- Halo Encyclopedia (2022 edition), page 454
- Halo Infinite
- Halo Infinite, campaign level House of Reckoning
- Halo Infinite Campaign Gameplay Premiere
- Halo Waypoint, Campaign Evolved (Retrieved on Apr 25, 2021) [archive]
- Halo: Official Spartan Field Manual, page 159
- Halo: Shadows of Reach, chapter 17
- Halo Waypoint - News, Campaign Evolved (Retrieved on Apr 25, 2021) [archive]
- Halo Infinite, trailer: Campaign Gameplay Premiere
- Halo: Shadows of Reach, chapter 3
- Halo: Divine Wind, chapter 6, page 102
- Halo Infinite, campaign level Warship Gbraakon
- Halo: Shadows of Reach, chapter 19
- Halo: Divine Wind, chapter 7, page 135
- Halo: Shadows of Reach, chapter 21
- Halo Infinite, campaign level Pelican Down
- Halo: Rise of Atriox: Issue 4
- Hunting Party
- Halo: Rise of Atriox: Issue 2
- Halo: The Rubicon Protocol, chapter 20
- YouTube - Halo, Halo Infinite The Banished Rise
- Halo Infinite, campaign level The Command Spire
- Halo Infinite, campaign level Repository
- Halo: Divine Wind, chapter 6
- Gamespot- Halo Wars 2: New Character Images and Details Revealed
- Hunting Party
- Halo: Shadows of Reach, chapter 3
- IGN, Halo Infinite Campaign: Get to Know Jega, a ‘Spartan Killer’ – IGN First (Retrieved on Nov 9, 2021) [archive]
- Conversations from the Universe - Grunt Conversation
- Halo: Evolutions, chapter 3
- Halo Infinite, trailer: Signal Detected. Tag Designation: Foe "No more Prophets, no more lies!"
- Halo Waypoint, (Possible Catalog) Jiralhanae -us suffix question: "Detailed information on Jiralhanae personal naming practices is currently held in inaccessible cores. However, the suffix "-um" is only recorded for those personnel affiliated with the Rh'tol skein." (Retrieved on May 19, 2021) [local archive] [external archive]
- Halo Infinite Campaign Launch Trailer