Lore of Dark Souls III as interpreted by the community. This page houses facts and interpretations relating to the game, but you may also visit the newly launched Dark Souls III Lore Forums.
Warning: Massive spoilers ahead, don't keep reading if you want to deduce things by yourself or haven't beaten the game yet.
Everything that is speculation will be tagged under theory or written with words that express uncertainty. If you have your own theory regarding a specific matter, please write it down next to the others.
Dark Souls 3 takes place in a transitory place, revolving around the first flame and the cycle of fire and dark. You play as a protagonist whose goal is to find and return the five Lords of Cinder to their thrones at Firelink Shrine in order to link the flame again. The protagonist is known as an "Unkindled," a kind of Undead, although it is never fully ennunciated upon what differentiates an Unkindled from other Undead. There are implications that an Unkindled is the remains of an Undead warrior who failed to link the flame and, as a result, burned their bodies into ash.
The five Lords of Cinder are Ludleth the Exiled; Aldrich, Saint of the Deep; Farron's Undead Legion, the Abyss Watchers; the reclusive lord of the Profaned Capital, Yhorm the Giant; and Holy King Lothric, Last Hope of His Line. Lords of Cinder are past beings who were successful in linking the flame, being burned remnants of their past selves.
Like in its predecessors, the story and lore of Dark Souls 3 can be pieced together through its introductory cinematic, item descriptions, dialogues, and enviroments. The following is a transcription of the intro:
Yes, indeed. It is called Lothric, Where the transitory lands of the Lords of Cinder converge. In venturing north, the pilgrims discover the truth of the old words. “The fire fades, and the lords go without thrones.” When the link of fire is threatened, the bell tolls, unearthing the old Lords of Cinder from their graves. Aldrich, Saint of the Deep. Farron's Undead Legion, The Abyss Watchers. And the reclusive lord of the Profaned Capital, Yhorm the Giant.Only, in truth... The Lords will abandon their thrones. and the Unkindled will rise. Nameless, accursed undead, unfit even to be cinder. And so it is. That ash seeketh embers.
The Age of Ancients
"In the Age of Ancients, the world was unformed, shrouded by fog. A land of gray crags, Archtrees and Everlasting Dragons."
In the beginning there was no such thing as life or death. The land was a constant drab gray, ruled by immortal dragons. It is unknown whether or not the primordial serpents existed in this epoch.
The Discovery Of The First Flame
"But then there was fire, and with fire came disparity. Heat and cold, life and death, and of course, light and dark. Then from the dark, they came, and found the Souls of Lords within the flame".
With fire came the division of things and with it, strange living beings that were not dragons emerged from the dark. Giants, relatives of The Archtrees, and smaller races as well. Three such beings found the Souls of Lords within the flame. They gained inmense amounts of power, making them capable of defeating the dragons, and so they fought to change the order of the world.
One Soul was taken by the Gravelord Nito, first of the dead. The second Soul was found by the Witch of Izalith and her daughters of Chaos. The last was taken by Gwyn, the Lord of Sunlight, and his faithful knights. However, what remained when the rest was taken was a peculiar soul, known as the Dark Soul, found by the easily forgotten Furtive Pigmy.
The War Against The Dragons
"With the strength of Lords, they challenged the Dragons. Gwyn's mighty bolts peeled apart their stone scales. The Witches weaved great firestorms. Nito unleashed a miasma of death and disease. And Seath the Scaleless betrayed his own, and the Dragons were no more."
Nito, the Witch of Izalith, and Gwyn became Lords with the power of the flame, and waged war on the dragons. To aid in their battle, Gwyn used the power of the sun to spawn the first miracles to rid the dragons of their scales, source of their immortality, and the Witch of Izalith created the first pyromancies from sorcery and burned the Archtrees, the ancestral homes of the Archdragons. The Lords, with the help of the dragon Seath the Scaleless, defeated the dragons in great dragon hunts and won the war, driving the dragons to the brink of extinction, such that only their distant relatives remained.
Seath was the first mortal dragon, born without scales, which were the dragons' source of immortality. He became fearful of death, and sided with Gwyn. Seath was a brilliant academic, and focused on research, which spawned the first Sorceries.
The Age of Fire
With the Dragons defeated, the Lords settled their own kingdoms. Nito ventured deep into the Catacombs where he rewarded his servants and created the Finito and Milfanito and begun offering his Fire to the strange force he had found, Death, and sought to spread it, serving to administer death to all manner of beings. The Witch of Izalith and her daughters returned to Izalith in order to study their Flame Sorceries, eventually birthing Pyromancy, the creation and control of the Flame within The Soul itself. Gwyn settled at the pinnacle of all of their kingdoms in the golden mountain city, Anor Londo, where he and his brethren proclaimed themselves Gods. At this time, Gwyn gives Seath the title of Duke and grants him the Archives for his research, where he begins studying the secrets of immortality.
Little is heard or known about the Pygmy, only that he is the forebearer of all of humanity, the smallest of the races from the dawn of time. After his descendants reproduced, through many generations, a large number of human kingdoms arose, and humans began learning sorceries, miracles and pyromancies. It is speculated that the human's affinity for magic is attested to the power of the Dark Soul fragments scattered within all mankind.
The early state of the Age of Fire is shrouded in mystery, much of which is touched upon in the events of Dark Souls III. However, eventually it came to be that, because the race of Gods was far more powerful than humans, humanity considered them true gods and started to worship them, forming religions. Lloyd, uncle of Gwyn, would declare himself All-Father, and found a religion worshipping the gods of Anor Londo. These Gods also saw the humans as their subjects.
Gywn and the orders of his mighty kingdom reigned supreme and created many forces that were to play a fundamental role in future events. Gwyn had many children, each of whom recieved part of his lordship. His firstborn became god of war, but in unnamed events was stripped of his birthright and removed from The Annals of History, such that not even his name remains. Gwynevere, the beloved daughter of Gwyn, would become the Goddess of fertility and bounty, and become the foundation of the healing miracles. Although there might have been others, only one other child of Gwyn is known: Gwyndolin, the Darksun, last son of Gwyn, born with the power of moonlight and raised as a woman. Other gods form a court around Gwyn, including Flann The Fire God. Other gods remain distant, such as the raven haired witch Velka, who would become the Goddess of Sin. Gwyn ruled with an army composed of many legions of knights. He had many friends and allies, such as The Primordial Serpent Frampt and the imposing knight, Havel The Rock. Supreme among his forces were four knights under his direct command: Dragonslayer Ornstein, Hawkeye Gough, Lord's Blade Ciaran, and Artorias of The Abyss, who will play an important role in the events of Oolacile. He also bequeathed fragments of his own soul to Seath and The Four Kings of New Londo for their contributions. Seath became highly popular in court, and apparently fathered offspring with the gods, such as Pricilla, creating a half Draconic lineage that had to be hidden away.
*Speculation: Gwyndolin, alledgedly the son of Gwyn, possesses both serpents instead of feet, much like the tendrels of Seath, and like Seeth possesses the power of moonlight, a trait unique to creations of Seath in Dark Souls 1. Gwyndolin upon birth was hidden away, and raised as a woman so that he could never become a heir. It is possible that Gwyn's wife had a secret trist with Seath, resulting in a child that had to be claimed as Gwyn's own to prevent controversy.
The Fading of the Flame, The Birth of Demons, and The Flame's Rekindling
Eventually, it came to pass that the flames began to fade, and with it, the power of The Gods and all that drew power from them, such that one day, they would vanish completely. However, it was such that Fire's opposite, Dark, and the race born of it, The Humans, did not wane, but grew in power as Fire faded, so that it would one day be that only Dark would remain. The Witch of Izalith decided to try and recreate the First Flame in Izalith. This went horribly wrong, and the Chaos Flame and Bed Of Chaos were born, both of which were a twisted mockery of the First Flame, warping the Witches of Izalith into hideous forms and giving birth to the demons. The Witch of Izalith's failure births pyromancy as it exists in the games, and destroys Izalith, rotting the land above it.. Only ruins, chaos and fire remain where Izalith once stood. The only unaffected survivor of this event is Quelana, who passes the knowledge of pyromancy to her first pupil and it extends to the Great Swamp. Many excursions were led against these demons by Gwyn's knights.
Gwyn, in order to avoid the end of the Age of Fire, decided to offer his own body and power as sacrifice to the First Flame. Leading half his army and leaving The Silver Knights to guard Anor Londo, Gwyn set out on a great journey to link the fire, ultimately ending at The Kiln of The First Flame, where Gwyn set fire to his own mighty soul and reignited The First Flame, burning himself and his army away, leaving only husks in the form of The Black Knights and himself, Lord of Cinder, and restoring The Age of Fire. This offered a temporary solution, but the fire again slowly began to fade.
A solution eventually presented itself in the form of the Undead, humans with the power of Dark that could not die.
An important dialogue on this matter is given by Kaathe:
"Hmm… You are astonishing. The truth I shall share without sentiment. After the advent of fire, the ancient lords found the three souls. But your progenitor found a fourth, unique soul. The Dark Soul. Your ancestor claimed the Dark Soul and waited for Fire to subside. And soon, the flames did fade, and only Dark remained. Thus began the age of men, the Age of Dark. However… Lord Gwyn trembled at the Dark. Clinging to his Age of Fire, and in dire fear of humans,
and the Dark Lord who would one day be born amongst them, Lord Gwyn resisted the course of nature, by sacrificing himself to link the fire, and commanding his children to shepherd the humans, Gwyn has blurred your past, to prevent the birth of the Dark Lord.
I am the primordial serpent. I seek to right the wrongs of the past to discover our true Lord. But the other serpent, Frampt, lost his sense, and befriended Lord Gwyn. Undead warrior, we stand at the crossroad. Only I know the truth about your fate. You must destroy the fading Lord Gwyn, who has coddled Fire and resisted nature, and become the Fourth Lord, so that you may usher in the Age of Dark!"
According to Kaathe, The Furtive Pygmy took the Dark Soul and gave birth to mankind. When the Flame started to fade, the Lord Souls taken by the gods started to lose power, while the humans born from the Dark Soul started becoming stronger. Gwyn feared that some day humans would take over and annhilate the Gods, just as Gods killed the Everlasting Dragons, which would lead to another change in the order of the world's leading race. Without linking the fire, the world would descend into an age of darkness--an age of men--where the Dark Soul rules. Gwyn, fearing this religation of Gods and the strange horrors of the Dark, chose to link the fire to prevent this age of darkness.
At some unknown point during these events, The Dark Sign began to manifest itself upon men, such that their souls would not pass on into Death, whatever it might be. Those bearing the brand upon death would find themselves at a Bonfire, set by Gwyn on his journey to link the fire, devoid of the Dark Soul, Humanity, that had given them power. Those humans devoid of humanity and purpose would gradually lose their minds and go Hollow, an irrevocable condition of madness.
Speculation*: The Darksign is a curse Gwyn cast upon humanity when or before he linked the fire for the first time. This is believed because the curse did not show up the first time the fire was fading, and started only after the fire was kindled by Gwyn and fading again. It is possible the curse was created by the Lords to ensure that humanity would always offer itself to maintain the age of fire.
Speculation*: Elements of the curse of Undeath mirror many areas of research of the Lords, indicating that it may have been a collaborative curse placed upon Humanity by the gods. Seath is obsessed with immortality, and eventually becomes what Big Hat Logan describes as "A True Undead," the results of all his research to this purpose. He also displays a true understanding of the bonfires, being able to sever them from each other. Death is an area of domain only of Nito, who posesses the Rite of Kindling, an art critical to the Undead, and who had previously cursed one, Pinwheel, to never die.
Oolacile, The Abyss, and New Londo
Kaathe, along with other primordial serpents, began manipulating Man to accelerate the rise of Dark. The sorcerers of Oolacile, weilders of magic of pure light, were tricked by the Primordial Serpent Kaathe into disturbing the Primeval Human Manus. Upon awakening, Manus' humananity went wild and began to consume Oolacile, thus creating the Abyss, a place of pure darkness and turning the mankind of the city into monsters, Manus taking their princess, Dusk, captive. The Four Knights of Gwyn were dispatched to Ooacile but could not tread in the Abyss, which housed many deadly creatures, until Gwyn's Knight Artorias made a pact with the creatures of the Abyss, and armed with magical equipment tried to defeat Manus. Although history would say otherwise, Artorias was overpowered and corrupted by the Abyss. Manus is eventually defeated by an unknown figure and in doing so, his Soul is shattered, splitting the Abyss into many fragments as well as birthing the Daughters of The Abyss.
Speculation* The Abyss did not exist until the events that took place in Oolacile, born only after Manus' humanity went wild. Humanity is described as something warm as well as dangerous, and when it was disturbed it created the Abyss. Artorias traveled to Oolacile in order to stop the spread of the Abyss. It is stated in Artorias' ring that he made a pact with the creatures of the abyss not to be corrupted and killed. This is key because we are told that humanity is born from the dark soul, which implies darkness. However, the darkness--whether of the Dark Soul or Humanity--is shown not to be inherantly evil, but rather torture and mistreatment of the darkness created the Abyss. The Abyss corrupts everything and kills everyone, but it seems that some creatures inhabit this peculiar place. It appears as though the disruption of the Lord Souls (or fragments of it) create monstrosities. The Witch of Izalith tried to create a First Flame with her own Lord Soul and it lead to the creation of Chaos. Oolacile's people disrupted a fragment of the Dark Soul ( Manus) and formed the Abyss.
Once the Abyss came into being, Kaathe seduced the Kings of New Londo, a city of Undead, into becoming Dark Wraiths and learning the Art of Lifedrain, so that they may forstall hollowfication and gather humanities to rebuild the Dark Soul. Some Kaathe dialogue:
Ahh… If you wish, I shall grant the art of Lifedrain, the legendary power of the Dark Lord. It can preserve your humanity while Undead, and cast off the shackles placed upon your brethren.
Speculation* This statement of Kaathe's seems to imply that the curse of Undeath is deliberately placed upon Man by the gods in order to control them.
After realizing the threat that the four Kings carried over to the entire world, the sealers flooded New Londo, resulting in the cursing of the city and leaving many dead or at the hands of The Dark Wraiths.
The Abandoning of Anor Londo and The Blades of The Dark Moon
As the fire began to fade anew, the light of the sun began to fade, casting darkness upon the land. Devoid of their central figure, the gods fled Anor Londo, leaving only Gwyndolin, The Dark Sun imbuned with the power of the moon, and Seath, who had long since gone mad. Gwyndolin created several illusions to maintain the illusion of the Gods power, including an illusionary Gwynevere and that light was not as faded. To protect these secrets and the Path of Fire itself, he created The Blades of The Darkmoon, a secret society that slew the enemies of the gods. Darksun Gwyndolin and his followers become the sole force in power at Anor Londo.
The Chosen Undead
"Only, in the ancient legends it is stated, that one day an undead shall be chosen to leave the undead asylum, in pilgrimage, to the land of ancient lords, Lordran."
Speculation* This legend of the chosen undead could have been created by the Gods themselves, in order to extend their age of fire.
Years pass since Gwyn has Linked the First Flame and it has once again begun to fade. Legends state that a Chosen Undead will rise up and succeed Gwyn to Relink the Flame. One such Undead succeeds where many have failed. The Chosen Undead rings the two bells of awakening to reawaken Frampt, finds and kills Nito, Mad Seath, The Witch of Izalith, which had become The Bed of Chaos, and The Four Kings, warped within the Abyss into new forms, collects the 3 Lord Souls and their Shards and journey's to the Kiln of the First Flame, defeating the remnants of Gwyn, The Lord of Cinder. This undead, unlike others before, cinders himself, much as Gwyn had before, becoming the new Lord of Cinder, and ensuring that the Age of Fire may continue for another period.
The Curse and The Cycle
"As flame rises, so does it fade. Such is the way of things."
Ages pass. Kingdoms rise and fall. The land shifts. Undead continue to sacrifice themselves to sustain the Age of Fire, yet more undead are created. The curse spreads. All Undead that do not cinder themselves will eventually hollow, for although undead live forever, none can remain strong forever, and to slip into hollowfication cannot be undone. For souls to flourish once more the fire must be relinked. Some complete their task becoming Sublime Bonedust. Some refuse to be sacrificed and carve out Kingdoms instead, which rise and fall in turn. Even when the Flame sputters and Dies, it will rise up and burn once more. The Dark spreads, splits, fades, and takes on new forms.
This is the Cycle of Perpetual Fire and Twilight.
Thrones and Crowns
Since the beginning of time, power has been invested in beings known as Lords. But what made a Lord was something uncertain. It is eventually determined by a small few that Lordship and Dominion are tied to The Throne, binding the lord's will to the land and creating a kingdom, and The Crown, annointing a Lord as Monarch, with the authority to be obeyed and investing in them certain power. One throne, The Throne of Want, symbol of true power as the monarch capable of deciding the fate of Fire and Dark, has remained empty since the dawn of time.
Although each of the three DLC's of Dark Souls II (which predate the events of the main game) have some information relavent to the events of Dark Souls III, (notably the origins of the Drakeblood Knights in Crown of The Sunken King and the origin of the Fume Ultragreatsword in Crown of The Old Iron King) the most critical information is found in the story of Eleum Loyce in the Crown of The Ivory King DLC.
The Folly of Vendrick and The Experiments of Aldia
"There is no path. Beyond the scope of light, beyond the reach of Dark......what could possibly await us?And yet, we seek it, insatiably...Such is our fate." -Aldia, final words in Dark Souls II
Within the Kingdom of Dranglaic, a king from a fallen kingdom consumed by poison deep within the earth and his brother seek to find a way to attain true power and eventually, as it spreads, to stop the Curse of Undeath and Hollowing, their efforts eventually drawing many seeking a cure for Undeath. Their names are Vendrick and Aldia.
Vendrick, believing that the secret to overcoming the curse lay in the power of Fire, allied himself with Nashandra, who unknown to him was a shard of Manus, a Child of The Abyss. Together, they sought sovereignty. With the power of his exceptionally mighty soul and her abilities, they repelled an invasion of Giants from overseas, and therefore established the Kingdom of Dranglaic, home of the mighty dragon riders. However, the power of Dark continued to grow, and undead filled the land, causing Vendrick, now undead, to feel its power greatly within him, and to began to suspect the truth of his wife, Nashandra. Filled with doubt and despair, Vendrick left for the Undead Crypt, to study the process of Death as a way to overcome the Undead Curse. Eventually he found no solution, and went hollow. With none to sit upon the throne, the kingdom unraveled, and soon became a land of naught but undead.
Meanwhile, Aldia began a multitude of experiments into Dark and Fire, and into the nature of man, seeking an answer to the nature of the curse. He took control of the minds of hundreds of scholars and commited atrocities on many in mass experiments. He experimented with giants and drakes, ultimately producing The Ancient Dragon, a false true dragon with the soul of a giant, created a multitude of beasts, and experimented with bonfires and summoning, accidently producing The Forlorn, those that have been cut off from their home time, trapped in that of anothers. Ultimately, he was banished by Vendrick to his keep, where his experiments continued.
Scholar of The First Sin
Ultimately, although he produced many spells, beings, and devices, Aldia was unable to find a cure for the curse, nor a way to escape the shackles of fate. However, he concluded that Humans, born of Dark, contained its nature, and that the transitory parts of humanity were illusion, stating:
"Once, the Lord of Light banished Dark, and all that stemmed from humanity. And men assumed a fleeting form. These are the roots of our world. Men are props on the stage of life, and no matter how tender, how exquisite...A lie will remain a lie."
He therefore determined that the Hollow was man's true basic state (a conclusion supported by the opening of Dark Souls I, depicting hollowed men finding the Flame, and the fact that there was a "first" of the Dead) and that the curse stripped away the illusion of Humanity, revealing man's Undead Nature. The concealment of this nature, by pretending that mankind was by nature mortal and unhollow and should therefore fear hollowfication, was considered by Aldia to be The First Sin. Although Aldia's power was great, his experiments had left him in a monsterous state, akin to a tree, hollow yet sentient, and bound to Bonfires, and he therefore sought those with power, to guide them so that they might find a solution, to overcome the shackles of destiny binding them to the cycle of Light and Dark.
Aldia meets the Cursed undead on their journey that seek out a cure for the curse and encourages them to seek out greater power and go to meet Vendrick after he has questioned the Undead's motives.
"No one has come this far, not for a very long while. Young Hollow do you wish to shed this curse? Then accept the fate of your ilk, and face the trials that await you. Unless, you have already joined the crestfallen."
"Young Hollow, there are but two paths. Inherit the order of this world, or destroy it. But only a true monarch can make such a choice.Very few, indeed, have come even this far. And yet, your journey is far from over. Half-grown Hollow, have you what it takes, truly?"
"Young Hollow, seek after Vendrick. He who almost became a true monarch. Vendrick is certain to guide your way. Fledgeling Hollow, may we meet again."
"Young Hollow, conqueror of fear. What drives you so, to overcome this supposed curse?"
"Vendrick, the near-true monarch, is here, and not far off. But what is a king? You, neither born with greatness, nor granted it by the fates.
What is it that you seek? You cannot even say yourself. We shall meet again, young Hollow."
Aldia's brother Vendrick had a different plan to utilize the remnant power from other kings crowns to stave off hollowing.
"Do you intend to link the fire? Then you must first take the throne. Prove your worth. Find the ancient crowns. Seek adversity, and they will be yours. And your wishes, granted."
"Seeker of fire, deliverer of crowns. What do you see in the flames? Find the crowns, and your own answers. The crowns hold the strength of lords from time long past. Seek adversity. As befits you, seeker of fire, coveter of the throne."
The Cursed Undead collects 4 kings crowns and receives Vendricks blessing on these crowns to pause hollowing, yet ruminates that this is merely a brief respite, nothing more.
"One day, fire will fade, and Dark will become a curse. Men will be free from death, left to wander eternally. Dark will again be ours, and in our true shape... We can bury the false legends of yore... Only... Is this our only choice? Seeker of fire, coveter of the throne. Seek strength. The rest will follow..."
Once the Cursed Undead has encountered a Hollowed Vendrick, Aldia questions the Undead once more before finally introducing himself in the Dragon Shrine.
"Young Hollow. How you grapple, without falter, with this dreadfully twisted world. Peace grants men the illusion of life. Shackled by falsehoods, they yearn for love, unaware of its grand illusion. Until, the curse touches their flesh. We are bound by this yoke. As true as the Dark that churns within men. All men trust fully the illusion of life. But is this so wrong? A construction, a facade, and yet... A world full of warmth and resplendence. Young Hollow, are you intent on shattering the yoke, spoiling this wonderful falsehood?"
"I am Aldia. I sought to shed the yoke of fate, but failed. Now, I only await an answer. Seek the throne. Seek light, Dark and what lies beyond... "
Once the Cursed Undead receives Vendrick's blessing and defeats Nashandra, Aldia confronts them to see what path they will choose.
Many monarchs have come and gone. One drowned in poison, another succumbed to flame. Still another slumbers in a realm of ice. Not one of them stood here, as you do now. You, conqueror of adversities. Give us your answer.
If the Cursed Undead defeats him and decides to walk away from the Throne, Aldia mentions a third option to be looked into. It is uncertain if this option is found.
*Speculation: It is likely that the undead who seek the third answer would eventually pass the ideology of Aldia on to those that would found the Sable Church, as his tenants, that to be Hollow is the true face of man, that an answer beyond the paths of light and dark exists, and that a Lord must be found to create that answer, are the core beliefs of The Sable Church. Indeed, the minions of Aldia are characterized by a white robe and golden mask, much akin to that of Yuria's Pale Shades.
The Cure to The Curse
Three different cures to Hollowing are discovered through the efforts of those within Dranglaic. Vendrick, through the Seeker of Fire, creates a blessing, a true end to the loss of humanity through the possession of power and lordship, such that while one has dominion, their humanity will never leave them. Yet to lose power is to again encounter the threat of hollowing, making it only a temporary solution.
The Milfanito, worshipers of Nito, sing to the undead to allow them into the folds of Death, and watch over The Fire of Nito, which grants humanity to those incapable of Death that surrender other paths and worship death.
Lastly, Aldia, Scholar of The First Sin, maintains his sanity while hollow, through methods beyond the cycle of fire.
It is unclear which, if any, of these paths are the one responsible for the inability of the Unkindled to lose their Humanity and for their dead state at the beginning of the game.
The Daughters of Manus
"One of the Father of the Abyss' spawn, that confounded quintessence of humanity. The Abyss once had form, but then dissipated. And yet, traces of its existence endured. Each fragment, thirsting for power, spread Dark, with no relent."
"Light and Dark are two sides of the same coin, much like the soul and the curse. The beings who presented themselves to those in search of kinghood were drawn to their awesome strength."
The Daughters of Manus sought out Kings with Wonderous Souls, Ones who would Link the Fire, their thirst for power drew them to these kings. The Daughters of Manus had a plan to gain power by preying on these Kings, stealing their power before they could relink the flame and perpetuating an age of Dark.
NPCs that are Historically Significant for DS3
"Since Lord Gwyn, the first Lord of Cinder, many exalted lords have linked the First Flame, and it is their very souls that have manifested themselves as defender of the flame."
Even after countless years Gwyn's influence still affects the World. Not only is he the Progenitor of Relinking the Flame, his path and even title has been emulated countless times. Gwyn's Influence is so great that the Soul Of Cinder still uses and remembers Gwyn's Fighting Style.
"Oceiros went mad trying to harness his royal blood for a greater purpose, leading him to the heretics of the Grand Archives, where he discovered the twisted worship of Seath the paledrake. "
After DS1, Seath gained godlike status. His knowledge drives men mad - but in spite of that, the Grandfather of Sorcery is worshipped in The Grand Archives.
Big Hat Logan
"The court sorcerers used this scroll to claim heirship to Logan's legacy, though how that claim stands up to closer scrutiny is another story."
Logan is said to not only emulate Seath but to have met him. Logan is reknowned for his contribution to Sorceries and a number of Crystal Sages emulate him.
Artorias and Sif
" The blood was spread amongst the Abyss Watchers, and their souls are one with the soul of the wolf blood master."
Numerous items reference or hint at Artorias and Sif by different names, Abysswalker Artorias, or the wolf knight was the first Abyss Watcher. The Knights of Farron emulate Artorias' unbending will to take on the Abyss.
"Kaathe, I have failed thee..."
Is related to the Sable church and bears some significance to Yuria of Londor.
"Darkmoon Gwyndolin, who was gradually devoured by Aldrich."
This once proud god was captured by Pontiff Sulyvahn and is now being devoured by the Lord of Cinder Aldrich.
"Only in truth the lords will abandon their thrones and the unkindled will rise. Nameless accursed undead, unfit even to be cinder. And so it is, that ash seeketh embers."
"They say these are the remains of a saint who cast himself into the bonfire. But we will never know for sure, for soot and ashes tell no story."
As the intro says, the Unkindled are beings of ash, unworthy to ascend to become Lords of Cinder. They are awakened by the tolling of a bell that rings when the First Flame is in danger of fading. They awaken in the Cemetery of Ash and seek the embers of the First Flame. During the whole game the protagonist is called Unkindled, Champion of Ash or Ashen One all of which harken back to the origins of the unkindled.
There are some speculations about what it means to be Unkindled. First of all, upon killing certain unkindled NPCs they drop ashes, meaning they were burned at some point before reviving. Thus Unkindled are perhaps either related to the bornfire creation process, or they are nameless Accursed undead who linked the First Flame but died in the process. The Lords of Cinder, on the other hand, were beings so powerful they did survive the linking and turned into Cinder instead of mere Ash.
The first hint supporting this theory is a play between the words Cinder and Ash. The latter refers to what remains after a material has been burnt completely while Cinder means that it has not been consumed completely. The Undead throw themselves in the bonfire and fuel the Flame but they are entirely consumed in the process, leaving only ashes that need embers to ignite. These ashes are found numerous times throughout the journey of the game, implying the cyclical nature of Dark and Flame. The intro sentence "Ash seeketh embers" takes shape now. Embers in the game are defined as:
"No Unkindled can ever truly claim the embers that burn within a champion's bosom, which is precisely what makes their yearning for warmth so keen. Gain the strength of flame and increase max HP until death. With the strength of fire, the summoning signs of Unkindled become visible, and seekers of embers can be summoned to join in co-operation. But beware the embers may also attract invaders."
From DSII we know that many generations passed and many indivuals sacrified themselves to link the Flame and rekindle the fire. Lords of Cinder, came many generations after, and it is rare for someone to survive the fire. It seems one must be powerful in a unique way to survive and even then their form changes. Gwyn was a Lord of Cinder, but it is clear that his form was changed by the linking and it was a great sacrifice even for one as great as him. A vast amount of generations passed, we would obviously have many of unkindled and, of course, many amount of tombs in the Cemetery of Ash. We also fight against a manifestation of all Undead who linked the fire, that is, the Soul of Cinder, who seems to be good at all fighting styles.
Another hint supporting that Lords of Cinder did not burn completely and stayed alive after linking the fire is the fact that all unkindled resurrect with their human forms. All Lords of Cinder wake up with their charred corpses, like Ludleth, and they all seem to have gained certain amount of fire power, juding by their boss fights. Aldrich did not die either, he had a vision of an upcoming Age of the Deep Sea, so he started devouring Gods.
The last detail relating the Unkindled to all of the previous Undead who sacrified themselves for the Flame is found in a song. The name of this song is mentioned in the intro of DSIII. when you beat DSI you see your character burning in the kiln and then The Nameless Song starts to play. This sad tone is played at the end of your quest and it is what defines your character. Our characters did everything and died a thousand of times just to be a sacrifice to extend the age of the gods. It happened many times, and they are nameless, no one is going to remember their names or write poems about them.
Whatever unkindled are, their task is clear. They have to seek out the Lords Of Cinder in order to reenact relinking the First Flame and preserve the age of fire. They are also undead who are not fully bound by the hollowing process we saw in past games, needing to acquire Dark Sigils in order to go Hollow.
The Lords of Cinder
"If the lords will not return to their thrones themselves, let them return as cinders."
One becomes a Lord of Cinder by relinking the First Flame in the Kiln and Surviving. There are currently 5 Lords of Cinder, all 5 of their ashes are needed to reenact the Linking of the First Flame. The 5 Lords are Aldrich Saint of the Deep, Ludleth the Exiled, Yhorm the Giant, Farron's Undead Legion, and Lothric, the last hope of his line.
Ludleth the Exiled linked the First Flame long ago by willing himself to. Aldrich was once a cleric that devoured men. He became so powerful that he was used to relink the Flame. Upon ascension to a Lord of Cinder, Aldrich sought to devour gods and even gained a cult around him that formed the Sable Church of the Deep.
Farron's Undead Legion of Abyss Watchers partook of the blood of an ancient wolf, the Wolf's blood linked the Abyss watchers to their master, the legendary Artorias of the Abyss. Emulating Artorias, the Abyss Wachers guard against creatures from the Abyss. The Abyss Watchers swore on their share Wolf's Blood to relink the Flame.
Yhorm the Giant sought to end the Profaned flame by relinking the First Flame. Instead of Eliminating the Profaned Flame, the capital burned killing all except Yhorm. Pontif Sulyvahn travelled to the Profaned Capital and saw the Profaned Flame. This hints that Yhorm linked the Flame before Aldrich.
Lothric refused to relink the Flame, choosing instead to allow the Flame to fade as he watched it from a distance with his brother.
"The deep was originally a peaceful and sacred place, but became the final rest for many abhorrent things. This tale of the Deep offers protection for those who worship amidst those horrors."
"These insects which lurk in the Deep have tiny jaws lined with fangs to tear open the skin and burrow into the flesh in the blink of an eye, causing intense bleeding."
"Souls which swell from the deep pursue their target, drawn towards life."
"A gem of infused titanite. Found in the dregs of the Cathedral of the deep. Used in infusion to create deep weapons. Deep weapons inflict dark damage, but lose scaling effects. There is a darkness that lies beyond human ken."
As stated in the Dark Souls summary, the Abyss was not created until the events that took place in Oolacile, and it was born after Manus humanity went wild due to torture. Humanity is described as something warm but at the same time dangerous, so when disturbed it created the Abyss. Artorias traveled here in order to stop it and it is stated, in his ring, that he made a pact with the creatures of the abyss not to be corrupted and killed. This part is key because we are told that humanity is born from the dark soul, which implies darkness. But this darkness is not inneherntly evil, until it got disturbed, and created the Abyss. The Abyss corrupts everything and kills everyone but it seems that some creatures inhabit this peculiar place.
From the descriptions above we can see that the Deep was initially calm but it became a place for abhorrent creatures. There are insects in the Deep that basically kill all life. The Deep is Dark, but a Dark that lies beyond humanity, which is also dark. The Deep could be the Abyss. When Lord Souls are disrupted you create monstruosities. The Witch of Izalith tried to create a First Flame with her own Lord Soul and she just created Chaos. Oolacile people disrupted a fragment of the Dark Soul ( Manus) and they created the Abyss.
A last hint about the nature of the Deep is given by the Farron's Undead Legion boss soul weapons, the Wolf Knight's Greatsword and the Farron Greatsword, since both swords deal a bonus damage against Aldrich and the Deacons of the Deep. These weapons are designed to fight against the abyss, and deal more damage to abyssal foes, hence Aldrich and the Deacons are related to the Abyss.
Aldrich, Saint of the Deep
Aldrich is another Lord of Cinder that neglected his duties, having his own ambitions after the linking of the fire. He was a cleric in the past but at some point he started eating human flesh, and he sure enjoyed it, as can be seen from Aldrich Ruby or Saphire:
"Infamous for his appetite for flesh apparently had the desire to share with others his joy of imbibing the final shudders of life while luxuriating in his victim's screams"
He is probably the founder of the Cathedral of the Deep, where he got some followers for his cult, maybe due to fear. His victims were transported from the Undead Settlement to the Cathedral through the Road of Sacrifices. This is inferred from the Evangelist Set:
"These teachers, all women, came to enlighten inhabitants of the Undead Settlement and sent carriers on the path of sacrifice."
It is also stated that Horace did evade being devoured alive and survived, along with other children, hinted to be Anri. This hint comes mainly from the fixation of Anri to kill Aldrich ever since our first encounter, being even a summon. Horace Exceutioner's Armor also tells us something:
"Steel armor of Horace the Hushed, who took a liking to its cold, bulky insides. The original owner was said to be a corrupt executioner, who was killed and stripped of his armor. Horace is one of only two children to escape Aldrich's clutches."
At some point the flame started to fade and the Undead curse arose again, so he probably ate undead humans too. What points this out is the high amount of weak undead bodies outside the cathedral, bodies that Aldrich did not finish, as the grave warden set seems to suggest:
"Rotting, tattered skirt, robe, hood and wrap. Attire of grave wardens at the Cathedral of the Deep. Grave wardens were tasked with disposing of the ever rising corpses that plagued the cathedral. Their clothes are utterly putrid, drenched in the blood and mucilage of their undertaking."
We said before that Aldrich started being a cleric, but then he got corrupted. It is unknown wether the corruption took place before eating so many humans but he grew (pun intended) fond of The Abyss. It could be that, after killing so many humans and enjoying the suffering from his victims while they were being eaten alive, he disrupted a significant amount of the dark soul, turning himself into an abyss like creature.
After some time, whoever ruled the kingdom made him link the flame, not for saint but for might, as Hawkwood tells us. He then had visions of the upcoming age of the Deep Sea so he started devouring Gods instead. This might have two possible explanations. The age of fire means the age of Gods, so he would try to get rid of all the gods for one day ruling in an age of dark. Second, he would need to become something more powerful to survive if The Abyss spreads. Cinders of a Lord and Soul of Aldrich respectively read:
" Aldrich became a lord by devouring men, but was disillusioned with his throne, and so took to devouring gods instead."
"When Aldrich ruminated on the fading of the fire, it inspired visions of a coming age of the deep sea. He knew the path would be arduous, but he had no fear. He would devour the gods himself."
In any case, he devoured some Gods and linked the fire, then his body of cinder was took to the tomb. When he awakened he marched from the Cathedral to Anor Londo to have a gift from Sulyvahn, Gwyndolin. It is possible that when we fight him he is still devouring the god of the darkmoon, since we still see part of him. If this is right then it means that Priscilla is alive, since he had a dream about her while devouring Gwyndolin. Darkmoon Longbow and Lifehunt Scythe:
"Longbow of Darkmoon Gwyndolin, who was gradually devoured by Aldrich.This golden bow is imbued with powerful magic and is most impressive with Moonlight Arrows."
"Aldrich dreamt as he slowly devoured the God of the Darkmoon. In this dream, he perceived the form of a young, pale girl in hiding."
The Profaned Flame
Profaned Flame wielded by the Irithyllian witches. Lonely Yhorm became a Lord of Cinder to put the Profaned Flame to rest, knowing full well that those who spoke of him as lord were quite insincere. The Profaned Capital was consumed by fire after Yhorm the Giant became a Lord of Cinder. The fire, born of the sky, is said to have incinerated naught but human flesh. The Profaned Flame was triggered by the curse of these women, relatives of a certain oracle, but despite their culpability, they went on living, without any cares.
Coal used for weapon infusion. Remnants of the fire that burned down the Profaned Capital, preserved in an icy skull. Give to the blacksmith in the shrine to allow the use of gems for dark, blood, and Hollow infusion.
The Darksign and the Eclipse
The Darksign is a symbol of the undead. Those cursed with it are reborn after death and eventually lose their minds and turn hollow. This is a reason why undead are driven from their homes as they eventually go mad. Horace is a sample of this, originally being a member of the Blue Sentinals covenant and stated friend of Anri, but later being found attacking anyone he meets.
The eclipse is appears in Lothric Castle and several other areas after Lothric Castle is unlocked. It may be a sign called by the fading flame, and looks a bit like a Darksign. Maybe it's calling Undead to link it and prolong its life. Maybe its symbolizing that the Fire is fading and the Age of Fire is ending.
Multiple Firelink Shrines
"Sword missing from the shrine bonfire. Thrust into the shrine bonfire to restore its power and enable travel between bonfires. This sword is only bequeathed to chosen ash, as judged by the Iudex, who awaits the arrival of ash as a scabbard"
When you start the game you find yourself in the Cemetery of Ash and venture to Firelink Shrine. In this Firelink Shrine you must insert the Coiled Sword into the bone and ash pile of the bonfire to be able to use it. When you use the Firelink bonfire to warp to Lothric for the first time you are warped to an altar with a basin and a broken coiled sword.
Fragment of the coiled sword of a bonfire which served its purpose long ago. Returns caster to last bonfire used for resting, or to the bonfire in Firelink Shrine. Can be used repeatedly. Bonfires are linked to one another irreversibly, retaining their affinity long after their purpose is exhausted
Later on in the game you come across an area identical to Firelink called Untended Graves. Here you find a dark shrine with a Fragment of the Coiled Sword in it.
Towards the end of the game on your journey to the Kiln, you are warped to one more copy of Firelink called the Flameless Shrine. The Flameless Shrine is in even worse condition than Untended Graves and it is here you find a bonfire that warps you to the Kiln.
There are three versions of firelink shrine. The first is where we appear, good old fire link, its filled with friendly npcs, Andre, handmaid, firekeeper...the rest of those lovable guys. Once the consumed king is defeated, we are given access to an illusory wall that leads us to untended graves. Suprisingly, this area is a mimic of firelink. Except its consumed by the abyss, no sky, all blackness. Is this a similar building? No its not. Messages you leave in firelink will match messages found in the "dark" firelink accessed through untended graves. As well as items brought over by npcs, like the scrolls of Orbeck, or the pots and goods of Greirat. It is the same building. But how? Speculation time!
Time travel. This may sound odd, but forces in souls game have enabled time travel, like the memory areas in dark souls 2. This dark version is firelink of the present. This is also why you have to warp to Lothric, or time travel to Lothric by the bonfire as the actually current state of the bonfire is well, its dead, consumed by the abyss. Im going to speculate harder by suggesting that time power is how the bonfire heals and why armor is "repaired" when you rest as well as enemies being resetted. It can reset certain aspects of the world. But its not exactly reversing everything, as certain things remain changed. This theory has holes as well, activated levers stay activated, and certain enemies stay killed if killed...etc.
Anyway, back on topic, still with time travel. So the dark shrine may be our shrine, but in the future. Ive tried skipping Orbeck and Greirat, just murdering Emma and getting there, and the scrolls and pots in my previous play through were not there. When I found them, the items they left stayed there. We even have a corpse of a fire keeper that drops the eyes of a fire keeper, which is hidden in an illusory wall where the nun would stay. So basically the firelink from the past is trying to save itself and prevent its current, dark shrine state. As to why the handmaid is still alive, I have no idea. Maybe she hid with an item, maybe she killed them all. Maybe she was spared as she is just an old lady.
Then we have the next flame. The one that takes us to the final boss. Its a ruined version of firelink, this one is damaged with up with many collapsed pathways. Upon exiting it we find lothric and a strange dark, sort of night atmosphere. We seem to have a crazy eclipse going on, and it looks like part of the earth was torn off or ripped out and sent somewhere else. The Lothric castle has parts of it collapsed and sloped, like some crazy earthquake or event occured. This could be firelink of the future. Please note that while the dark firelink shrine is covered in an abyss, the rest of Lothric is fine. This is because the firelink shrine, birthplace of the powerful fire, is a special ground. Its paranormal. As the fire weakens and dies, its surrounding area goes to hell. It is swallowed in an abyss and seems to be separated from the world(dark shrine). This gets worse in the future as now the firelink and its surrounding area seems to be caught in a crazy cataclysm(final area). Its become some vortex that sucks its surroundings to where ever it came from, though very slowly. More speculation! this vortex converges the surrounding lands into the source of the flame. The thing we actually link. Think of it like this, the fire is hurting and its trying to pull back to safety because of the pain. as everything converges, the source is revealed, and the champion of ash may fullfill his duty, link it, prolong its life in our world of plane, and change the future, extending the age of fire.
That was wild and filled with speculation, sorry bout that, here is a shorter theory! Another possibility, is a parallel world, an alternate universe of sorts. We know that undead keep reviving. Hawkwood says it himself that they " cant die properly". But why does Hawkwood die properly when we kill him? Why does killing Aldrich with Anri, have no influence on the Aldrich of our world. ( Killing him w Anri will not mean that the one we have to face will be dead, you have to kill the one in your world, regardless if you helped Anri slay him ). I think to each undead, the fire presents a "parallel world". Killing an npc will revive them in their world, but in our world, they will have lost "connection" and appear "dead". Npcs very connected to our world, like the firekeeper, will revive just like monsters, if killed. All the others are like other players, with a weaker, sort of temporary connection.
Anyway, theory two is that the first flame is fading, so fire from other "worlds" all connected to it, help it out. The first one is the fire that called our particular character from the cemetary. Hawkwood and Anri were possibly called by different flames from different parallel worlds. This first flame needs attention as its like the heart of all the other flames, they need it and stuff. The dark version of firelink shrine is a fire that faded, a possible fate awaiting the fires of other worlds if the main one isnt fixed. The third one, the "kiln of the first flame". Is a parallel world that serves as a "doorway" or entrance to the main flame. Its the world where the power of fire is strongest, and whe whole place is falling apart as the main one is weakening. We travel there to fix the thing.
The Bell And Resurrection
When the Flame is about to burn out a bell is wrung awakening the Lords of Cinder and the Unkindled.
"Welcome to the bonfire, Unkindled One. I am a Fire Keeper. I tend to the flame, and tend to thee. The Lords have left their thrones, and must be deliver'd to them. To this end, I am at thy side."
The Fire Keeper tends to the Bonfire of the Firelink Shrine and to the Chosen Undead, called The Champion of Ash in DS3.
"Ashen one, to be unkindled is to be a vessel for souls"
As one of the Unkindled, and with the Fire Keeper's help, we can effectively consume collected souls and become stronger. I think not all undead can absorb souls. It is the Unkindled that can. Perhaps the Unkindled are specially chosen undead who serve the bonfire so it may live on, by renacting the first fire linking, which involves returning Lords of Cinder to their thrones.
"Touch the darkness within me"
Oh this line...\(OvO)/, anyway, lore wise, the firekeeper, though her name has "fire" on it, her powers actually come from dark. Long ago, back to dark souls one, the world was a dark place with giant trees that rose to the heavens, ruled by mighty dragons. Fire was discovered, and this wasnt simple flame. This flame allowed man to rise up, champions and lords sprouted and overthrew the dragons. However this empowering flame was of a dark nature. In the dark souls one intro, both lords of light and dark come into power with the help of the flame. Both light and dark are able to use its power because of their humanity as deep within man is dark, and this is the catalyst that ignites this flame, bring about the age of fire.
Back to the Fire Keeper, because of this nature or connection of the flame to dark, Fire Keepers are trained in the ways of dark. Our Fire Keeper has a mask that covers her eyes because she has no eyes, she is blind as this somehow aids her connection to dark and helps her with her job. To help achieve a certain different ending, you can restore the sight of the Fire Keeper. This changes her view and tempts her to act differently at the end, suggesting that process of training Fire Keepers had grown beyond simply teaching them how to do it, and became a way of sort of controlling them or influencing their behaviour. The Fire Keeper of Dark Souls 2 had eyes and did not have to be blind.
The Fire Keeper is undying in the sense that if the player kills her, she will result in her revival once you reload or sit at a bonfire. Unlike many other NPCs that stay dead, she is probably very connected to the player's world. Or perhaps the bonfire revives her. The fire of long ago is fading, and it will take a strong humanity, a strong kindling ( 5 Lords of Cinder, ) to keep it alive. The firekeeper must assist and empower the champion of ash so the impossible becomes doable.
Later, the Fire Keeper will be able to heal the Darksign once you bring her the soul of a former fire keeper. She absorbs it most likely. Looking at her dialogue, trained Fire Keepers seem to lose their sense of self and become one in a way.
Andre of Astora
Coal used for weapon infusion.
It is said that the giant blacksmith of Anor Londo was once the blacksmith of the gods.
Give to the blacksmith in the shrine to allow the use of gems for lightning, simple, and chaos infusion.
My, my. the coal of that peaceful giant...
Seems like ages past... I imagine his passing was long ago.
I miss the old bugger, I do.
My thanks. I'll be sure this coal is put to good use.
I'll be smithing weapons never afore seen by the likes of y'.
It's but a small service, to pay my humble respects"
With Andre's dialogue upon receiving the Giant's Coal it can be inferred he is the same Andre from Dark Souls 1.
Andre revives upon death. Like the Fire Keeper, he is bound by the flame to serve. I dont think he can leave Firelink Shrine.
By following Siris of the Sunless Realms' questline, one finds out the the handmaid is Sirris' grandmother and that Hodrick is the Handmaid's husband.
Cornyx of The Great Swamp and Orbeck of Vinheim
Cronyx is an old Pyromancer who somehow got trapped in a cage. Cronyx seems to emulate legends in his attire, as shown by the raven feathers he wears that referred to The Giant Crow of Firelink Shrine and the black skirt he wears that references the Wiches of Izalith/Daughters of Chaos.
Orbeck is an assassin that decided to try and study sorcery upon undeath. Aside from his studies on sorcery Orbeck is also mention to be in pursuit of becoming the Lord of Hollows.
Irina and Eygon of Carim
Irina is a saint from Carim and a failed Firekeeper. She is protected by the Knight of Carim Eygon, upon releasing Irina, Eygon relinquishes her safety to the player. Once Irina is in Firelink there are 2 paths she can take. She can either be redeemed and become a firekeeper or she cane become more broken and sink into the dark. If Irina sinks into Darkness Eygon takes her away and fights the player.
Karla, The Dark Sorceress
The spurned child of the Abyss never dies, but phases in and out of its fringes. Only, there is no one to search for her any longer.
Karla was locked up in Irrithyl Dungeon by the Prisoner Chief who enjoyed to hoard all manner of things. This is hinted by being able to get Karla's Set from the Prisoner Chief's Ashes.
The prisoner chief used this clout to hoard all manner of things, but died without putting them to use. On what grounds do they remain imprisoned, considering that by now they are mindless Hollows, or unrealized, gibbering fools?
This stained coat is torn and odorous, telling of a long journey and even longer imprisonment. It would be madness to wear such a thing.
It seems Karla's jailers had their way with her. As illustrated by her Dialogue and Affinity Spell.
A forbidden dark sorcery. Casts a dark manifestation of humanity.
It appears to be an expression of envy, or perhaps love towards another, that will tenaciously pursue its target. Even if, like so many human desires, it amounts to nothing but misfortune.
Oh, there you are."
"I thought you'd all but forgotten me. How sweet."
"Good to know that a skinny little heretic can still turn heads."Hm? Oh...you're not one of them, are you?"
"Accept my apologies, for mistaking you for one of those leeches."
"So, what business have you here?"
"This is a land of monstrosities. And I am no exception."
"You're here to save me...?"
"But I am guilty. A wretched child of the Abyss."
"Is that something you can forgive?"
Greirat The Great Thief and Unbreakable Patches
Lets start with Patches. He is a recurring character in the Souls games. He tricks the player, hoping to end our lives and asks for forgiveness if we survive. If we dont kill the bastard, he provides some assistance, often in the form of items, and we become his "friend".
Once upon a time, a bastard once lived. Life was tough for the bastard and in response, the bastard bit back at what life threw at him, resorting to tricks, thievery and murder. His Unbreakable title may come from this persistence. Eventually he died but even as a cursed undead, Patches is still up to mischief. Patches is a cunning rogue, liar and downright *****. He is first seen wearing Siegward's armor and attempts to trick the player. Siegward is his first victim and progressing through Siegward's quest will require meeting Patches. Having stolen Siegward's armor and trapped him down a well, Patches attempts to lure you to a bridge that he lowers, which brings you to a hostile enslaved giant.
As to how he seems to know that you met Siegward ( he tries to disguise his voice to match Siegward ) and how he strips Siegward bare and tosses him into the well... Perhaps undead can get drunk, as Siegward seems to trusting and likes to drink and give away his brew, which suggests he has a lot of it. Patches may have noticed this, befriended him and drank with him, or spiked Siegwards brew. He may had passed out, then got stripped and tossed. Probably told Patches about the player while drunk, which is why Patches sets up a trap for us.
Our next encounter with Patches is outside the bed chamber of Rosaria. He tries to fool us with the old "It wasn't me", but proud Patches removes his helm as he lowers us in his first trap. He wants his victims to know who killed them. If forgiven, we can buy items from him and continue his questline. If you browse his wares but dont find anything, Patches says "Are you sure? You could look a little harder". Lines like this emphasize his greedy and shrewd nature.
We next find him trapping us in the upper areas of Firelink Shrine, accessed by the key from the handmaid. Without the door, we are forced to navigate through a potentially fatal fall. If we are able to avoid the full drop, we can find Patches inside Firelink Shrine. If we can resist the urge to pummel the bastard, he will sell us items and reward us with a gesture. We become "friends" again! Yay!
Infuriated that we survived the giant, and intrigued by our skill, power and potential loot. Patches wants a rematch and targets us again. His second trap is at Firelink Shrine. Maybe he realized we are unkindled undead chosen by the bonfire, and are bound to return to Firelink Shrine. Patches could had made a walk to the shrine, or maybe he can use bonfires to travel as well, either way Patches waits for us there. He hides somewhere and when we arrive, he uses his rogue-ish skills and stalks us from a distance, with lots of ninja hiding or maybe he just waits for us at the top, in some disguise or behind some column. He traps us again hoping to kill and loot the champion of ash. Upon foiling his attempt, Patches realizes that our patience is not eternal, and befriending us would be the safer and easier way of milking us for souls.
After this, Patches stays in the shrine as a merchant and sells us various goods. Dialogue with Patches reveals that he is owes a debt to his friend, Greirat the thief, however, Patches sets up shop in the higher areas of the shrine, away from the others, unseen by Greirat. Eventually when Greirat is sent to his second pillage, you can talk to Patches, tell him of Greirats whereabouts, and, if you have not bought Siegwards armor from him yet, he will wear it and leave for a while to save Greirat. He pretty much just sits there in firelink after. He asks about Greirat the third time you send him, but he will not be able to save him.
Patches, like Greirat, may have come from the Undead Settlement, as both rogues seem to have a history. Patches probably messed up an attempted robbery, or trickery and got jailed for it. Greirat may have been caught trying to free Patches. Patches may not want to show his face to Greirat because Patches may have used Greirat as a decoy so he could escape. He feels some obligation and regret for his actions, which leads him to trying to help out Greirat. He needs Siegward's armor because he doesnt want Greirat to know. Patches may have a soft side to him, but he doesnt want others to know. He takes pride in his reputation as a cunning trickster.
Yoel and Yuria of Londor, Anri of Astora and Horace
Yoel is found in the Undead Settlement despairing that he failed his mision. He is among a number of dead pilgrims on a broken bridge facing Lothric. When he is found he can be taken into service. Yoel's service consists of drawing out one's true strength by applying Dark Sigils.
I am Yoel of Londor, a pilgrim as you can see, only… Somehow, I've failed to die as was ordained.
Once Yoel has applied enough Sigils he dies and Yuria will thank you for taking him into your service.
Umbral ash of a Hollow who faithfully served a woman, only to become separated from her.
With this, the shrine handmaid will prepare new items.It takes but a brief glance at this thing to easily envision Londor, the foreboding land of Hollows.
From Yoel's ashes it seems that he may have once served Yuria which might be why she comes upon his death.
...Oh, prithee...art thou good Yoel's master?
I am Yuria of Londor, a close friend of his.
Thanks to thee, Yoel's soul is redeem'd.
Allow me to express my gratitude, in his stead.
Following the introduction Yuria claims that you will become the Lord of Hollows and tasks you with seeking a spouse.
Our Lord and Liege.
Knowest thou of a youth/maid named Anri?
He/She is hollow, and will join thee in wedlock.
A fellow of mine guides him/her at this moment. When the time is ripe, thou mayst make thy salutations.
For what Lord taketh no spouse?"
From this it might be implied that Anri who is being led by Horace might be a hollow.
Oh, hello. How do you do. I am Anri of Astora. Unkindled, like you. This is Horace. A friend and travelling companion.
We learn in that Yuria had a traitorous sister named Elfriede.
"Elfriede...A poor wench turned to Ash, who would abandon Londor..."
Siegward of Catarina
Greatsword with a broken blade, also known as the Giantslayer for the residual strength of storm that brings giants to their knees.
Yhorm the Giant once held two of these, but gave one to the humans that doubted him, and left the other to a dear friend before facing his fate as a Lord of Cinder
Yhorm, old friend. I, Siegward of the Knights of Catarina, have come to uphold my promise!
Let the sun shine upon this Lord of Cinder
Siegward was a friend of Yhorm at one point and had made a promise with him.
Emma, High Priestess
Emma is the one who tasks the player to seek out the Lords of Cinder and to make Prince Lothric a Lord as well.
"Sulyvahn was born and raised inside the painting yet had little use for his frigid homeland, since he had not yet experienced loss."
"Long ago, when Sulyvahn was yet a young sorcerer, he discovered the Profaned Capital and an unfading flame below a distant tundra of Irithyll, and a burning ambition took root within him.
The jailers were among the few survivors inhabiting the Profaned Capital, later serving under Pontiff Sulyvahn. Perhaps the screams emanating from the cells help them forget their old home.
"Pontiff Sulyvahn of Irithyll imprisoned a god of the old royalty in the abandoned cathedral, to be fed to the devourer."
"The Darkmoon Knights were once led by my elder brother, the Dark Sun Gwyndolin. But he was stricken by illness, and leadership of the knights fell to me. Then Sulyvahn wrongfully proclaimed himself Pontiff, and took me prisoner."
Sulyvahn seems to keep his homeland in his memory given that his Pontif Knights wield a Great Scythe akin to Sister Friede's.
"Great scythe wielded by the Pontiff's knights, frigid spirits that linger in Irithyll. "
"In the painting, the scythe is a symbol of a long-lost home, possibly explaining Elfriede's preference for it."
Sister Friede and Father Ariandel
"Friede was the first Ash to enter the painting, but together with the good Father, they chose rot over fire."
Sister Firede and Father Ariandel, reside in the Painted World. Ariandel restored the Painted World from a destroyed state. Sister Friede seeks to let everything in the Painting rot, for unclear reasons. Sister Friede was once a member of the Sable Church of Londor and is seen as a deserter or traitor. Ariandel carries with him what greatly appears to be The Lordvessal, a critical part of rekindling the fire in the first game, and is actively trying to keep it from catching fire by drowning it in blood, for unclear reasons.
The Land Overall
"Yes indeed. It is called Lothric. Where the transitory lands of the Lords of Cinder converge."- Opening Narration
"You will not find the Lords of Cinder here. They have left, gone. To their churning homes, converging at the base of this castle." -High Priestess Emma
Lothric is a land where the transitory lands of the lords of cinder converge, according to the introduction. Time and space are convoluted in Dark Souls, and this appears to apply to places as well as people. Places such as the High Wall of Lothric are stated in item descriptions to have one day appeared, as if from nowhere, and often places will be encountered that bear markings indicating they were once familar places from earlier parts of the series, yet changed so much as to become unrecognizable. Much as in Dark Souls II, it is implied that huge periods of time have passed, and as they do, kingdoms rise and fall, enviorments change, the land shifts, and places that were once connected become seperate. The land itself seems to reflect this, being a land of tremendous mountain ranges and impossibly large ravines in the earth, as though (and likely in reality) the land itself were shifting, chunks of terrain moving.
Because of the shifting nature of the world, it is unclear if all of the Places of Dark Souls III are in the same time period, or if in traveling between them, a person is moving through time as well as space. Given that these places and people are shown capable of interaction regardless, this is largely irrelevant, as indeed time itself is, only relevent to the state of the Fading Flame. However, because of the timeless nature of these places and the immortality of their inhabitants, as well as the universally ruined nature of all of these civilizations and places, it makes developing a chronology of events from the states of the locations difficult. For example, if a loreseeker were to try to construct a timeline of Sulyvahn's influence in the land, the possibility that Sulyvahn had first gone to The Archives, rose to prominance, educated Lothric, left to Anor Londo, founded Irithyll, and had Irithyll exist long enough to become a forgotten legendary city would appear identical in terms of the state of these locations to if he had come upon Irithyll already existing, declared himself pontif, then moved to Lothric to became a scholar of the archives, only later returning to his kingdom. It is difficult to determine if the rise of The Abyss Watchers predates the undead settlement, if Carthus is older then the Profaned Capital, or otherwise, as all of these locations are tremendous abandoned ruins filled with immortal madmen. Likewise, many locations change name and function over millenia, just as real places do, and past places could have assumed new names, much as Anor Londo BECAME Irithyll.
When the linking of the fire is threatened the bell tolls, awakening the Lords of Cinder from their graves, but they will abandon their thrones and their role of relinking the fire and return to their homelands. Then unkindled will rise, nameless undead from past generations, in order to hunt down the Lords of Cinder and bring them to their thrones, so that fire can be linked again. One of these unkindled revives in the Cemetery of Ash, an old cemetery with the purpose of stocking ashen bodies so that one day could be revived if anything goes wrong with the linking of the fire. It is unclear how undead came to be in the state of death, but from the sheer number of coffins it cannot be an uncommon fate.
The Undead Curse rises every time the fire starts to fade, and we are witnesses of this while having to survive the few inhabitants of this cemetery, hollows in black cloaks, which drop chimes indicating they are priests. They bear great resemblance to the undead travelers in Dark Souls II, and are clad in similar robes to the Londor Pilgrims, possibly indicating a connection.
The landscape and surroundings, of massive endless mountains and rows of graves on a gradually ascending slope, as well as the presence of the crow, seems to imply that this area is the same location as the Undead Asylum. It is said in the intro that the Pilgrims venture north, which is the same region where the undead Asylum was stated to be:
"And in this land, the undead are corralled to the north, to await the end of the world."
The Iudex Gundyr awaits in the entrance of the Firelink Shrine, judging new unkindled heroes of their worthiness of fulfilling the prophecy of rekindling the flame, as seen in the Coiled Sword:
"Sword missing from the shrine bonfire. Cannot be equipped as a weapon. Thrust into the shrine bonfire to restore its power and enable travel between bonfires. This sword is only bequeathed to chosen ash, as judged by the Iudex, who awaits the arrival of ash as a scabbard."
He was once an unkindled himself but arose too late to fulfill his duty, never meeting his Fire Keeper, who had been buried within the tower behind Firelink Shrine with the Estus Ring:
"This ring was entrusted to a certain Fire Keeper, but in the end she never met her champion, and the ensuing tragic farce became a favorite tale of the masses."
In the past he was strong and now he seems to be corrupted or infected by the Pus of Man. If we manage to defeat him we can access the Firelink Shrine, a place built specifically for the act of linking the fire. Many epochs ago Lordran also had a Firelink Shrine, a place that played a crucial role because it allowed the Chosen Undead to travel to the Kiln of the First Flame. It is hard to tell if this sanctuary is located in the same place as the old given the amount of time that has passed and how much has changed. If it is the same however, that could potentially mean that The Firekeeper is the same person as the one in Dark Souls I.
Speculation: It could be that the real shrine was lost (see Dark Firelink Shrine).
Even if you can see Lothric from here, the place looks as if it has some sort of disconnection from the real world, or as if it is in a parallel dimension, acting as a mere nexus for the unkindled, the Lords of Cinder and the First Flame. Evidence supporting this is the fact that you can see the black sun from any other part of the world (with the exception of Irithyll), while it remains the same in the shrine. Likewise, none of the other areas besides The High Wall of Lotheric are even visible from Firelink, while all of the areas are to some extent visible to each other from the other areas.
Inside the shrine you can find the thrones of the Lords of Cinder, Ludleth the Exiled, the Firekeeper, the handmaid and Andre of Astora, aside from other persons that come later. The most important character here is the Fire Keeper, a blind woman able to channel your strength and tell you about your quest:
"Welcome to the bonfire, Unkindled One. I am a Fire Keeper. I tend to the flame, and tend to thee. The Lords have left their thrones, and must be deliver'd to them. To this end, I am at thy side."
"Let these souls withdraw from their vessels, Manisfestation of disparity, Illucidated by fire, ,Retreating to a darkness beyond the reach of flame. Let them assume a new master, Inhabiting ash, casting themselves upon new forms."
The thrones are evocative of the Throne of Want of Dark Souls II, the symbol tying a lord's authority to the land and further indicating his right to oversee the linking of the Fire. It is unclear if these thrones were originally tied to the respective lands and moved here or if they were prepared at this location, or if indeed like the Throne of Want, they have always been here. Regardless, they bear markings clearly indicating who is to sit upon them, as well as aspects such as size and dressings indicating they are indeed intended for the specific lord of cinder.
With Gundyr's coiled sword we can kindle the Shrine's bonfire, allowing as to travel to Lothric.
The High Wall of Lothric, a huge city surrounding Lothric Castle, is the first area outside the Shrine we can explore. According to the description of the Envoy Banner:
"Small banner held by Lothric messengers. Hold up outside the main castle gate to be greeted by an escort. When the High Wall appeared, the path to the Undead Settlement was blocked, and messengers came bearing this banner. They were sent out with a duty, but had no way of returning."
Based on this description, the Highwall of Lothric simply appeared one day, likely wisked through time and space through the warping that characterizes much of the setting.
Interestingly, the title of Lothric is a fusion of Lordran and Dranglaic, seeming to imply a mixing of their cultures. Indeed, the architecture of Lotheric seems to be a mixture of cathedrals, like Anor Londo, and medieval castles, like Dranglaic.
Much of The Great Wall is a prison, housing individuals from Thieves to a Dark Wraith. This state also seems to mirror that of Prince Lothric, who has trapped himself in his room; The Scholars, who have sealed themselves in the Archive; and the imprisoned state of Gertrude. The only exit to Lothric is guarded by one of Pontiff Sulyvahn's outrider knights, while attempting to progress further into the castle entraps the player with his Dancer. Indeed, in many ways, Lothric is a massive prison...
The place is crowded with weak undead, who seem to be praying to something. All around are dead dragons and bizzarely, hollows growing into trees, a theme that continues throughout the game.
*speculation: In dark souls 2, it was speculated that giants, which become archtrees in death, had evolved from Archtrees and from giants were derived the other species, and indeed the giants of that game appear to be a midpoint between trees and men, explaining how those that would emerge from the Dark to claim the Fire and ursurp the dragons came to be. This ancestry to archtrees might explain the rootlike attributes many affiliated with Hollowfication in Dark Souls 3 take on.
It has been speculated that they are desperately praying for their prince to link the flame and end the curse, or otherwise, to continue to ignore it. Even the tree men appear to be praying, turned upwards towards the princes tower as plants grow towards the sun. Other themes of religious focus towards The Prince's Tower are seen in the bodies of countless pilgrims found outside of the door to High Priestess Emma. Indeed, it appears that the focal point of pilgrimage of the Pilgrims is to see Prince Lothric, although the reasons for this, either to beg him to link the fire, or worship him for not doing so, or for some belief tied to the angels, or for some fourth, unknown reason, are unclear. Perhaps they, like you, came here seeking the Lords of Cinder, only to reach Emma and find out that they have all gone.
Many of the wandering undead drop armor listing them as deserters from Lotheric's army, although the reasons for this desertion is unknown. Many of the other enemies are thieves, appearing to have originated from The Undead Settlement, to steal from the city before going hollow. Many of the later areas of the level are litered with the bodies of Lothric Knights, seeming to imply a great battle occured.
*Speculation: Due to the placement of enemies, it appears that the Lotheric Knights and Winged Knights were fighting each other, which based on the lore of the Winged Knight armor, the feathers in Gertrude and Prince Lothric's rooms, and the lore of Divine Pillars of Light, seems to be caused by the rise of the heretical Angel worshipping religion, and additionally by the refusal of the Prince to become a lord of cinder. The first of the Royal Guard of the Prince (the knights wearing blue) is encountered outside of Emma's chamber.
Among the enemies there are also two special kind of enemies. First, there are dragons, which seem to be in Lothric for an unknown reason, stated in the item descriptions of The Knight Crossbow and Lightning Pot to be that Lotheric was a land of dragonriders (much like Dranglaic) and had tamed dragons. The second type of enemies is the Pus of Man, growing inside certain hollowed enemies. These enemies seem to be related to the abyss not only because its shape and colour but also because they are weak to the Undead's legion weapons, which deal more damage to abyssal creatures. It is stated in the lore of The Archive Key:
"With the fire fading, and the spreading pus of man tainting the castle, the Grand Archives closed its doors for good."
The Pus of Man appears to be originating from The Consumed King's Garden, and indeed perhaps the Dark contained behind him.
Many weapons can be found here, likely owing to the battle that appeared to take place, as well as the armory beside the main courtyard.
STATUES AND ARCHITECTURE
Statues of priestesses, later revealed to be one of the three pillars of Lothric, abound, holding candles. Most of the candles are extinguished, perhaps serving as an indicator of the fading flame. Given the description of sacred blessing, indicating that Gwynevere was the queen, these priestesses might have been the Sun Priestesses that worship Gwynevere.
Another kind of statue is plentiful later in the later part of the area: Knights, the second of the Three Pillars, in various states of decapitation, some cutting at their neck, others holding their head. Cutting of the neck in reality was a traditional initiation ritual into knighthood, and the fact that this act of self sacrifice is glorified here appears to be indicative of an obsessiveness of their culture with sacrifice, befiting a kingdom founded around linking the fire. This act is later revealed to be key to entering Lothric Castle. It must be stated too that the statue reflects as well the state of the Nation of Lothric itself: As a nation whose leader was to be a Lord of Cinder, it was a nation prepared to sever its own head. Its present state, leaning and cradling its head, is indeed an odd perversion of this, as with Oceiros mad and Lothric despondant, the nation is entirely leaderless.
A statue, bearing an amulet on his arm identical to one later seen on Pontiff Sulyvahn, stands in the central courtyard, surrounded by the bodies of knights. This seems to imply that he was of importance within Lothric, interesting given the placement of his outriders. His placement, with the Winged Knight patrolling around him, surrounded by the bodies of countless Lothric Knights, seems to imply that he is core to their struggle.
Curiously, on some of the buildings, gargoyle heads can be found. This is highly bizzare, being stated in the lore on Morne's helm
"The helm is of perfect likeness to the stone heads of the cathedral."
There appears to be some evidence that Lothric was once Carim, which will be broached in the Lotheric Castle and Archives sections.
There are just two living we can find: Greirat and Emma. Emma is the High Priestess of Lothric, one of the 3 pillars of the kingdom and wet nurse of the prince, as the High Priestess ring says:
"A ring engraved with a portrait of the High Priestess. Increases faith. In Lothric, the High Priestess has long been considered one of the Three Pillars of the king's rule. The High Priestess also served as the prince's wet nurse."
She finds hope in you, for Lothric to become a true Lord for his kingdoms. She also warns us about the vile dog that watches over the exit, Vordt. This boss was once an outrider knight from Irithyll that turned into a beast like creature due to the effects of one of the rings provided by Sulyvahn. He also seems to be related to the Dancer:
"Soul of Vordt of the Boreal Valley. One of the twisted souls, steeped in strength. Use to acquire many souls, or transpose to extract its true strength. Vordt served as an outrider knight, never far from the fleeting dancer."
"Ever since its establishment, all manner of curses have managed to seep into the Undead Settlement. The worst of them were sealed away inside a spirit tree, but eventually the curses took their toll."
"The grave, which no longer receives visitors, was once the site of a statue of Velka, Goddess of Sin, and was believed to pardon wrongdoing, and lift curses."
"These teachers, all women, came to enlighten inhabitants of the Undead Settlement and sent carriers on the path of sacrifice."
"Black charcoal-like pine resin. Temporarily applies fire to right-hand weapon. Used in the Undead Settlement to preserve Undead bodies after dissection, and to bury them."
"Garb worn by inhabitants of the Undead Settlement. Official attire for the dissection and burial of undead. Naturally the ceremonial significance of such work is long forgotten. Indeed, no one could continue to entertain such horrors."
"Well, what's happened here? This pit is for hollows, not for the likes of you sane folk. Or perhaps you are a Hollow, posing as otherwise?"
The Undead settlement is as its name implies, a settlement of undead. It is a horrific place filled with implements of torture and execution, and hung bodies of undead in the thousands, dessicated, packed with burning resin, and then buried. The insight into lore this place offers is primarily a look into what many places throughout the time period might look like, as the number of undead grow and death became available, to witness the effects of the teachings of The Deep Faith, and to learn of the present state of some elements from previous games. Interestingly, the garb of the workers, the lay of the land, and the architecture of the Chapel seem to indicate that this area in fact used to be Brightstone Cove Tseldora, a place in Dark Souls II, although the pits that would have contained the aformentioned brightstone are not there, instead being bottomless chasms.
The population of The Undead Settlement are presumably all undead, and of an almost, but not quite, hollowed sort, speaking in the gibbering moans of hollows, but behaving in an organized fashion, carrying out their horrific daily lives. Their entire culture appears to be devoted to the disposal of those of their rank that would go hollow, seeming to carry out a ceaseless inquisitional pogrom against themselves. Undead are trapped in countless cages, bolted to breaking wheels, hung from trees, and shoved into sacks and the outfit of every undead encountered is that of those tasked with burying bodies. The cause of this appears to be the Evangelists that appear to be the central leaders of The Undead Settlement, which according to their item descriptions hail from the Church of The Deep, to spread the word of The Deep Faith from The Cathedral of The Deep, ultimately tracing back through Archdeacon MacDonnel to Irithyll and Anor Londo, from Pontiff Sulyvahn and Aldrich's reinterpretation of the teachings of The Way of White. Many of the techniques used in burial in the Undead Settlement appear to in fact have originated from torture techniques used in Irithyll Dungeon. The basic villagers all are either slaves or bear the markings of the role of dissection and burial of undead. Around their necks are worn the vertebrae and finger bones of undead, considered the shackles of the gods that comprise sanity and the unhollowed state, likely in the attempt to ward off hollowing. The weapons they use are primarily for the purposes of dessicating undead for burial.
The undead that are buried and kept in cages are themselves among the population, as death in the world of Dark Souls III for the Undead is not well understood, but is clearly still temporary, as it can be undone. Indeed, many of the cages are full of still living hollows, moving as one, a sort of cage-bound rat king. This and the fates of the thousands of undead buried at The Cathedral of the Deep that emerge from their graves bears horrific implications for those within the silent pine resin packed burlap sacks ominously hanging throughout the Settlement.
When one approaches the settlement, the first scene a person comes upon is the settlement unleashing undead dogs upon a group of hollows lingering before the gate. Weither these are hollows cast out of the Settlement, exiles that later went hollow, or individuals hoping to join the Settlement that went hollow upon being refused are unclear. Along the same path, facing the High Wall, are a multitude of Pilgrim bodies, dead at the edge. It appears the path used to lead to The High Wall of Lothric, a massive bridge leading to a part of it, yet a dragon has crashed into the bridge, rendering all future pilgrimige impossible and potentially spelling a horrible fate for all subsequent pilgrims.
Again, many undead in positions of rest are seen starting to grow into trees, for reasons unknown, likely tied to the hollowing process.
LORE IMPORTANT LANDMARKS
A shrine of Velka rests behind a locked door in the sewer. According to the lore of its key, it has not been visited for some time, seeming to imply that worship of Velka has waned.
A church, containing The Undead Greatwood, rests in a cliff face. This appears to still be a place of worship among the Settlement, with an Evangelist leading what appears to be a small procession towards the church.
The Pit of Hollows
At the lowest point of the Undead Settlement is where all of the hollows, dessicated so as to slow revival (according to the description of the warden twin blades, the draining of liquid is supposedly supposed to slow the rate at which undead revive.) are thrown, creating piles and piles of hollows, likely more then are encountered in the entirety of the rest of the world, as well as the dozens of cages that brought them there. This place, where Hollows are thrown away, represents the true cost of the curse, as serves as a reminder of the ultimate fate of any undead. On the far side of the cavern, a shrine to death appears to have been made, with carvings of men similar to those found in Nito's catacombs and skulls and candles rest on piles and piles of vertebrae, the so called "Shackles of the Gods," that piece of man responsible for their sanity, forming the "family" of those that fear going hollow.
"At the foot of Lothric Castle, an old path still runs below the tower in the Undead Settlement. It was used to transport sacrifices to the Cathedral of the Deep. You should see where it leads...If you've the stones for it."-Hawkwood
"Farron has always been a land of itinerants."- Exile Mask
The Road of Sacrifices was apparently used to transport sacrifices, food for Aldrich, to the Cathedral of The Deep, meaning that its existance does not predate the rise of Aldrich and Sulyvahn and the subsequent arrival of the Evangelists to the Undead Settlement, making it a newer location. Long abandoned, it is now home exclusively to wandering bandits and the Forlorn, outcasts from many places that came to belive in the stories of the Painted World, a peaceful home for all outcasts. Apparently nearby Farron was a land that drew those without homes, and this trend appears to have continued after its fall. Overturned cages and carriages line the path, and below the bridge can be found the corpse of a Carim Cleric, likely from the group that brought and imprisoned Irina of Carim in the Undead Settlement.
The Crucifixion woods of Farron form the territory of The Abyss Watchers and the Watchdogs of Farron, who guard the entrance to Farron Keep. It's an area filled with references to Bloodborne. Brumer from Dark Souls II dwell here, as do Lycanthrope and Lycanthrope Hunters, although what this means is unclear. Some theorize that in consuming the wolf blood, some of the Farron Legion take poorly to it, becoming the monsters known as Lycanthrope, with the Lycanthrope hunters serving to crucify these abominations. Perhaps this was the inevitable fate of Abysswatchers before they chose to cinder themselves. The first hints of pyromancy are found deeper into the Wood, next to giant crabs. Here too are several hints that this area used to be the Shaded Woods, including the light green weed that grows in abundance and the Brumer . A fortress is found containing spellcasters and ultimately The Crystal Sage, seeming to be remnants of the Acolytes of Farron, the spellcasters and fortification built by the Sage to teach members of Farron's Legion magic and forge their weapons, although what has come of this place now is unclear, filled with hollows and untouched by the Legion, who in their cindered form use no magic. One of the spellcasters encountered here is likely Heysel's father, who was the head of the Acolytes of Farron according to the lore of Farron Dart. Past the Crystal Sage is first another Evangelist, burning bodies, including that of a herald of the Way of White, perhaps telling where the old way falls in things. Lastly are a group of bandits, including one that bears the tools of the Brigand of Dark Souls I, who might be the last surviving member of the Forest Hunters Covanant of Dark Souls I, or merely another brigand here to prey on travelers.
"The deep was originally a peaceful and sacred place, but became the final rest for many abhorrent things. This tale of the Deep offers protection for those who worship amidst those horrors."
"A braille divine tome of the Deep, belonging to the deacons of the cathedral. Intended to teach divine protection to the deacons of the deep, but later, dark tales were added to its pages, such that it is now considered a thing profane."
"Attire of grave wardens at the Cathedral of the Deep. Grave wardens were tasked with disposing of the ever rising corpses that plagued the cathedral. Their clothes are utterly putrid, drenched in the blood and mucilage of their undertaking."
"Robe worn by the Deacons of The Cathedral of The Deep. The deep red pigment denotes the blessing of fire. In time, those dedicated to sealing away the horrors of the deep succumbed to their own power. It seems that neither tending the flame, or their faith, could save them."
"Presented solely to delegates of the gods. Of the three Archdeacons of the Deep, one (McDonnell) cast off his white crown and left the cathedral to stand by Aldrich. (Hat) A sign of the Way of White's highest rank. Of the three Archdeacons of the Deep, one (Royce) stood over Aldrich's casket, with hope that he would return one day. (Chest) Of the Archdeacons of the Deep, one (Klimt) attended to Rosaria, Mother of Rebirth, whom he deemed a goddess."
"He ate so many that he bloated like a drowned pig, then softened into sludge, so they stuck him in the Cathedral of the Deep"
"In the Cathedral slumber things most terrible, and as such, the deacons require a grand narrative, to ensure they do not falter in their duty. A philosophy, to ward away the madness beckoned by the grotesqueries at hand."
The Cathedral of The Deep appears to have once been a cathedral devoted to those gods worshipped by The Way of White, and being a center to its Archdeacons. However, those times have long since faded, and The Way of White appears to have moved on to the worship of other, darker, things, namely The Deep. The former resting place of Aldrich's corpse, presumably after being cindered and then slain by the next who would be become lord of cinder, the Cathedral now offers primarily the "deepest" look into how the Way of White came to give way to the worship of Aldrich under Pontiff Sulyvahn and what this worship entails. Even without its Lord, the Cathedral of the Deep is still quite the place of horrors. Outside is a graveyard, massive in scope, filled with dessicated undead, the countless undead buried so as to prevent them from ever returning as per the tenants of the Deep faith. Inside are various chapels and artifices of worship, all built around a massive central area covered in sludge, likely the soul dregs cast off of Aldrich after devouring his victims, left behind like a slug leaves slime, creating a gruesome ichor. Bodies coat the edges of the grime, making no mystery its original contents. Lastly at the end, sits a massive tilted alter to something unclear, being covered up, behind which is Aldrich's coffin, and above which, curiously, is Rosaria's bedchamber. The whole building is sealed off from the inside and under careful guard.
THE NATURE OF THE DEEP
A discussion of The Cathedral could not be complete without a discussion of The Deep. The Cathedral sits upon tremendous darkness, appearing to be a fragment of the Abyss. It appears likely that the Cathedral was built upon this fragment by the gods in order to contain it. This fragment, or perhaps the vast majority of The Abyss itself, appears to have had many things besides humans come to reside within it, and be changed by it in the same way as the Darkwraiths or 4 Kings, becoming horrific abominations, insects and maggots filled with the endless hunger of the Abyss. Items reference that eventually changes occured within the belief system of these deacons and Archdeacons of the Way of White, as a method to ensure that they could deal with the horrors of this region. So was created what appears to be the Narrative of The Deep, a belief in protecting man in journeying through this populated Abyss, known as The Deep. It appears however, that eventually, possibly due to the influence of Archdeacon Macdowell, hailing from Irythyll, likely at the behest of Sulyvahn, a change in their beliefs took place, and they began to worship Aldrich, and seek to use the Dark alongside Flame, although for what reasons are unclear. How such a fall, and indeed such an abominable place, could come to be so close to the home of The Abysswatchers, said to bury a kingdom at the first sign of contamination, is unclear, but it is possible that either this occured long after they had cindered themselves, or perhaps the watchers would not suspect corruption within the very faith built to oppose it.
The Cathedral is home to countless monstrosities, and appears constructed largely to contain them. The first enemies encountered are clearly worshipers, worshipping at some sort of Obelisk of uncertain value. In the outside graveyard, those undead the graveyard contained walk around endlessly, utterly hollow. They have been infected with something akin to The Pus of Man, vast collections of leeches shaped by their containers into human form. Gravewardens patrol the rooftops, apparently to put them back in their graves. Within, two giants are enslaved, apparently an aspect of the faith of The Deep, as more enslaved giants are found in Anor Londo. The common hollows appear to not be permited entry into The Cathedral, as only two can be found, guards of The Evangelist. Within the church itself dwell firstly two Evangelists and many deacons, within the living chambers, while knights and Thralls patrol the lower floors. Throughout, sentient pieces of the sludge, ofshoots of Aldrich apparently, wander endlessly. Lastly, high above Aldrich's resting place, opposite the entrance, is Rosaria's Bedchamber, headquarters of The Fingers of Rosaria, and guarded by their final fate: mangrubs, the horrible abominations created by Rosaria herself, perhaps intentionally or perhaps as a consequence of the Finger's changing themselves too much. The mangrubs seem to despise each other, for in front of her chamber lie dozens of impaled mangrubs, apparently at the hands of their own. Fonts of afterbirth-like blood pour persistently from this alcove down the walls to the floor below
Items found in the area are primarily the offcast pieces of way of white members, some the final remnants of sacrifices possibly, others like the spear, offcast by worshipers. Outside are items layed at the feet of particular graves, such as the Astora greatsword before an isolated grave in the cemetary, and more interestingly, The Curseward Greatshield, shield of The Persuer, is found at the most important of the graves on the roofs, in its own building. In the chapel is found a whip used for producing the blood to wipe clean in purging ceremonies, and its location there implies that it is in this first chapel that it is used. A drang set lays around a giant, and the lore of the set and the location of twin drang soldiers guarding Aldrich imply that two Drang sacrificed their comrades in order to serve Aldrich. Deep within one chapel is a particularly massive spiderlike abomination, yielding Aldrich's ruby, seeming to imply that those particularly devout devour others and become horrible monsters themselves.
Throughout the area, crows or ravens abound, curious given the proximity both to the shrine of Velka in The Undead Settlement (which also has ravens in abundance, and to the small shrine Gael is found praying to the mother of The Forlorn, who take on raven like traits in imitation of Velka. It is possible that Velka posesses some relation to the cathedral and may be the weeping women found in the statues on the roof and covered up on the central dias at the center of the Cathedral.
ARCHITECTURE AND STATUES
The masonry of The Cathedral offers great insight into the nature of The Deep, and perhaps answers to many elements throughout the game. Firstly, at the entrance is a shrine, showing the members of the Deaconry. Upon the table to the side is a single candelabra, of unknown significance. However it is to this candelabra that Slave Knight Gael is found praying, to the "Merciful Goddess, mother of the Forlorn." Likewise, if he is killed in the Ringed City DLC before any door to this Chapel is opened, the shard of The Painting of Ariandel is found placed under this Candelabra, as if in offering. However, its meaning to the broader game is unclear.
Of more clarity are the three types of statues found atop the roof: Men growing wings and staring at their hands, and weeping maidens, dressed similarly to those that worshipped Gwynevere. They could also be Gwynevere herself, or also resemble somewhat Rosaria weeping. Lastly, given the fact that they ARE crying, they could be statues of Caitha, goddess of tears and mourning.
*Speculation: The men growing wings greatly resemble the Forlorn, with the peaks above their heads appearing to be raven heads. Given Gael worshipped here, it could be that this area has some significance to Velka, especially given the proximity of her shrine to the chapel.
*Speculation The men growing wings somewhat resemble the Pilgrim Butterflies, and the nature of Pontiff Sulyvahn's wing growth and the roots growing from the eyes of some of the deacons implies that this is the final state of those who embrace some aspect of either the deep or hollowing.
The third type of statue is traditional gargoyal heads, jutting out from the sides of the building, identical to those found on some buildings in Lothric. These and their relation to the Cathedral might fulfill the lore of Morne's Helmet:
"Modeled on Morne, the Archbishop's apostle, the helm is of perfect likeness to the stone heads of the cathedral."
Within the red cloth and candle adorned Cathedral, representing the blessing of fire, (and likely tying these deacons to the sealers of Dark Souls 1) another kind of statue proliferates, in such number that every wall and alcove has at least one of these statues, showing a weeping person in cloth, hunched over, something bursting from their back. In the lore of the Cleric Robe it is said:
"They bore large covers on their backs to ensure they would not become seedbeds for spreading darkness."
This shell, worn by Pilgrims of Londor, Hollow Clerics, and the Cleric outfit alike, appears to be to stop the event depicted here, quite similar to that which befalls both Pontiff Sulyvahn and the Iudux Gundyr, the darkness within man giving root to something within the Abyss, perhaps the things that give The Deep its name. Based on the Angels encountered within The Dreg Heap, this sort of protection is helpless against the passage of time. This is very likely the method through which the Pilgrim Butterflies are produced, given their similarity to The Angels and this methodology. What change in the beliefs of the Way of White came about that this act of being overcome by darkness would come to be idolized is unclear. Perhaps instead it is a persistent warning of the dangers of The Deep.
Strangely enough, a single embossing of a lemur or squirel persists throughout many areas of the Inner Cathedral. Why this would be the case is difficult to fathom. In Japan, the squirel is a symbol of fertility, which may be connected to Rosaria, mother of rebirth, (who also might be Gwynevere), However, other cases of animal symbolism are less common in the game (although not entirely absent).
The red candles found burning throughout the cathedral are unique to this area, but likely only continue the red motif indicating the blessing of fire, and additionally serve as a poetic parallel to the Deacons of The Deep, who when standing in a line as they are depicted in the shrines and attop Aldrich's coffin do indeed resemble the candles with their pale heads and formless red robes, especially when they raise their weapons to launch fireballs.
The outside of Rosaria's chamber itself offers much insight. The path right before the main bloodsoaked floor outside her bedchamber is among the only upper areas coated in sludge, the gates outside her door are forced inward by a great mass, and the outside of the walls of her bed are coated in the black sludge of the floor. It is therefore very clear that Aldrich used to visit here, and based upon the strange creature she cradles, to be something she loved quite dearly. According to the lore of the Obscuring Ring,
"It is said that Rosaria, the mother of rebirth, was robbed of her tongue by her firstborn, and has been waiting for their return ever since."
Given the apparently close connection between Rosaria and Aldrich, it is possible that she is his mother.
Likewise, rootlike overgrowth covers almost exclusively Rosaria's side of the cathedral. Roots seem core to the Deep and Hollow paths. This also creates a connection between her and the central dias alter before Aldrich's grave, which is the other major place covered by roots.
Lastly, there is the strange Red Cloth covered statues and drapery of this alter. The central figure of the alter is covered up, as are the many statues surrounding it. These are likely the dieties the chapel originally worshipped, given their central placement. Their sillhouette resembles the weeping woman statues on the roof and that lie just outside Aldrich's tomb, implying perhaps that she was the one originally worshipped. It is possible that Rosaria was this woman and was originally worshipped by the cathedral, before being overtaken by her son.
"After the Legion's Watchers became Lords of Cinder, the wolf blood dried up, and Farron was consumed by a festering wood."-Exile Set
"In the rotted forest rest the spirits of warriors past, their acceptance and gratitude toward their guardians is expressed eloquently by the humble leaf." -Wolf's Blood Sword Grass
A land of vagrants and home to the Abyss Watchers who guarded against Abyss Corruption. After becoming Lords of Cinder, the blood fueling their powers weakened, resulting in the rise of the weakened corruption of fire, poison, as seen in Blighttown before. Now guarded by the Watchdogs of Farron and the Ghru, warped, almost demonic servents of Farron, who continue their duty to guard the slumber of the (now awakened) Abyss Watchers and the graves of great warriors. The swamp is highly poisonous, yet, many clues abound indicating that this was once the ancient land of Ooacile, and perhaps too The Darkroot Garden and Blighttown Swamp of Dark Souls 1, possessing many accoutremants of Ooacile, and being positioned above a catacomb and the remains of Izalith and Ash Lake, much like Blighttown was.
*Speculation: In Dark Souls 1, it is hinted that The Darkroot Garden were once where Oolacile was situated, as both are similarly forested and have similar views of Anor Londo, and because the scarecrow guardians of the forest of Oolacile are very similar to the strange animated tree creatures found centuries later in The Shaded Woods, while the sentient mushroom found in Oolacile, Elizabeth, bears great resembalence to the Mushroom men first encountered in The Darkroot Garden. Additionally, Dusk, the princess of Oolacile, is found in this location. Also found nearby are The Forest Hunters, a covenant of warriors devoted to protecting the sanctity of Artorias's gravesite. It is possible that the region is the same, and therefore that the Abyss Watchers are an evolution of The Forest Hunter's Covenant.
*Speculation: Alternatively, it could be that the wolf's blood was a sort of pyromancy, and therefore in failing functioned like the witch of Izalith's flame, producing a land of disease, brought into this configuration due to its similarity to Blighttown.
In attempting to access the gate to the barracks of Farron's Legion, seemingly to be the very same gate that once protected Artorias's gravesite, one must initiate a rite, extinguishing 3 flames, one each before a mural of Nito, The Bed of Chaos, and the Four Kings (a fourth, of Seath the Scaleless, is hidden in the game files, but was not implemented in game due to game design). It is clearly a recreation of the journey of the first game, snuffing out the flames of lords to open the way to Gwyn, tracing the path of the protagonist of Dark Souls 1. Whereas before this journey would have allowed one to join the Farron Legion, those that sacrifice themselves to protect against The Abyss, now it fittingly, much like in the events of the first game that the ceremony emulates, allows one access to the Lord of Cinder so that they may be slain, and their journey repeated anew.
Little truly needs to be said regarding what the population of Farron Keep indicates regarding the lore of Dark Souls III. The weapons of the Ghru found here state that they are the distant descendants of the Acolytes, the servants of Farron's Legion, likely warped into more demonic forms by the faltering Wolf's Blood or the poison swamp, which in previous games was shown to have a mutagenic effect on those living within, a distilled effect of that the chaos flame had to create the demons. The forms of the Ghru are definitively demonic, possibly indicating that the power fueling Farron was of the flame in nature, as indicated by the many demons found nearby. The ghru continue to carry out the task of defending the swamp given to their ancestors.
Slugs are found prolific throughout the swamp, as they are in all pyromancy induced swamps in Dark Souls. Wheither this is a connection to Blighttown or simply a commonality of the swamps is unknown.
The Basilisks are found within the Keep, unsuprising given its proximity to the Smouldering Lake, the former Ash Lake, which served as their original habitat, and they likely moved upward when their home became uninhabitable. However, it does cement the notion that the swamp of Farron may have some connection to Blighttown, as the Basilisks home, The Great Hollow, was reached through Blighttown's own swamp.
The corpses of Mushroom Men, the decendants of Elizabeth The Mushroom of Oolacile, are found nearby the white tree in the swamp, where Dusks crown is found, further cementing the locations connection both to Oolacile and to the Darkroot Garden and Ash Lake, where the Mushroom Men could be found. The exclusive location of the Mushroom Men in a pile of corpses seems to indicate that the Ghru hunted them to extinction, a trend that would later be seen with the Demons.
Facinatingly, Dark Wraiths are found in the Swamp, those that would uphold the dark, effectively being the opposite of Farron's Legion. Based on the two approaching the Farron Barracks, they desire to have access to the Legion, likely to fight them. It is unclear if there is some purpose to this that might weaken the ability to revive the flame, or if the Dark Wraiths, being drawn to combat, are simply seeking strong opponents that oppose their goals. The Pale Shade of Londor both invades and is summonable nearby, who possesses The Dark Hand, indicating perhaps that the Dark Wraiths, which served Kaathe much as Yuria does, seek to help Londor in its mission by weakening the Legion. Alternatively, they could be seeking access to the catacombs The Barracks guards, possibly to obtain the Black Flame or even simply being drawn to the Abyss holding Wolnir at the catacombs heart.
The Wolf of Farron is found in a tower connecting the swamp to the bridge above, likely originally how the Legion reached the bridge to travel to different locations. He is found sleeping or dead upon a pile of Exile and Farron armor and weapons, as is his duty, supplying those that would keep out intruders to the Keep. Up the elevator on the bridge, the dragon which caused the bridge to break, cutting off the Undead Settlement, can be found. This may be what the lore meant when it said the appearance of Lothric made the Undead Settlement unaccessible. Lothric soldiers and thieves are found here, trapped by the bridge. A lone pilgrim has somehow found their way to the gate, even as the many others died on the other side when they could go no further. He himself promptly died, apparently on finding the way gated off, and seeing a demon on the other side, making his journey truly hopeless. Why the Stray Demon is found here, tied to Havel's equipment (dropping a soul to craft Havel's ring, and with his armor being found nearby after killing him in dragons peak) is unclear.
Lastly, a wandering tribe of Forlorn are found amongst many swords, likely the graves of the many many warriors of Farrons Legion that perished before the Legion cindered itself, or otherwise the swords left by those that were to pay homage to Farron's Legion, or those cast aside by those that would join and take up their distinctive sword style. The miracle Attonement is found nearby, indicating that these Forlorn are likely outcasts of the Sable Church of Londor.
The buried corpse of the great nation of Carthus.
Drawn from the lore of the many items referencing it, Carthus was a sandy kingdom renowned for its great swordsmen and desire for conquest, which it was able to achieve under its pyromancer king Wolnir, who ground the crowns of lords to dust, making him Highlord over all. Under Wolnir, who desired to outlive all others, and with an ethos that enschewed honor for victory, Carthus conquered every kingdom it could find, and the loyalty of its swordsmen to Wolnir, who had conquered all they knew, was fanatical. However, Wolnir one day fell to the abyss. It is theorized that afterward the kingdom was likely buried by the Abyss Watchers to prevent the Spread of The Abyss. Later, Wolnir, lost in the Abyss, somehow became a gravewarden, and perhaps gravelord in the style of Nito, First of The Dead, and apparently his entire kingdom were made into gravewardens alongside their Abyss-trapped Lord, to watch after the dead foreverafter. Eventually, as a result of Wolnir's fall, the gravewardens discovered The Black Flame within his darkness and began crafting dark pyromancies.
This, the Catacombs of Carthus, are almost certainly what remains of this empire and its lord, a sign that not even the greatest of all possible kingdoms can escape the touch of the Abyss and of Death.
The Carthus Catacombs appear to occupy much of the same regional space that The Catacombs and Tomb of Giants of Nito occupied in Dark Souls I, being located above and in proximity to Ash Lake and Izalith. It is unclear if this means that the Catacombs of Carthus are one section of the Catacombs, devoted wholly to Wolnir and his kingdom, or if indeed it means that the spanse of Wolnir's kingdom, power, or greed was so vast that in becoming Gravewarden he converted the entirety of the Catacombs into a vast tomb for himself.
Many accoutrements of the pyromancy and subsequent dark pyromancy of Carthus can be found throughout the Catacombs, from the pyromancy manuals to the multitude of canopic jars, appearing to hold the Humanity itself of the dead of Carthus. The dead appear to serve the catacomb much as they did Wolnir, serving not only as guardians, but as torch sconces and masonry and the great rolling traps that roam its halls.
If the Catacombs of Carthus are indicative of its position, it is highly possible that the pyromancy of Carthus originated in nearby Izalith, perhaps from the pyromancy using Necromancers that filled the original catacombs.
The remains of Ash Lake upon meeting the nearby ruins of Izalith and the old Catacombs (indeed in their appearance in Dark Souls I, all three locations were visible from each other, indicating they were nearby), the Smouldering Lake has become a dangerous locus of great conflict. A giant Avelyne-style bastila of Carthus fights a massive sandworm for supremacy of the lake. Deep underneath are the final ruins of the faded flame of Izalith. The demons that were once common in DS1 are going extinct as the flame fades and without a mother to produce more, apparently hunted to extinction by the Ghru and Black Knights which, long after their souls have been burned to shadow, have somehow over millenia found their way back to this place to carry out their ancient duty of demonslaying, a task nearly at its end. Ghru and a new kind of demon never before seen roam over the scattered corpses of countless demons, while Tsorig, the Knightslayer, lives up to his namesake, slaying Champions of Ash and Black Knights alike.
"Wherever you go, the moon still sets in Irithyll. Wherever you may be, Irithyll is your home."
"The features of the old gods, as if from legend. They say children born like this are fated to be taken to the Boreal Valley."-Description of the Irythyllian Face Preset.
"If the tales are true, it is home to old moon-worshipping nobles, and should be packed with treasure."-Greirat the Thief
Irithyll is a legendary lake-borne cathedral city within the frozen Boreal Valley, bathed in the eternal moonlit twilight of Anor Londo, the ruined core of which still resides at the center of the city. Although the city may have been different in the past, in its present state it is built in the image of a singular individual's ambitions, that of Pontiff Sulyvahn and his religion worshipping Aldrich of The Deep, Lord of Cinder and Devourer of Gods. Indeed, although Anor Londo itself is filled with priests directly worshipping Aldrich, the city of Irithyll is synonomous only with Sulyvahn. Formations of knights bearing Sulyvahn's mark and wielding weapons resultant from his ambitions march eternally through the empty frigid streets, while shivering wretched slaves, bodies overflowing with humanity and clutching close black weapons, hide invisible in the corners and small spaces of the legendary city in the shadow of its grand cathedral. All is overgrown, leafless trees and roots, along with tufts of grass poking through the cobblestones, seeming to reflect the state of the city's leader. Periodically, strange phantoms clad like Sulyvahn's outriders can be seen slowly progressing through the city, much akin to those of other players, seeming to suggest that Irithyll is a city that trancends dimensions.
Irithyll is a moonlit area that seems to be heavily devoted to Dark Sun Gwyndolin. In Dark Souls I it was stated that Gwyndolin was the last remaining god of Anor Londo, and those nobles and knights that remained therefore might have held him in great reverence, to the exclusion of the other gods. Gwyndolin's illusionary magic served to maintain the illusion that Fire was not in the midst of fading and that the source of light remained within the capital city of Anor Londo, for Gwynevere, heir to Gwyn remained there, even as in reality the other gods, including Gwynevere, fled elsewhere. However, as Yorshka of the Dark Moon Knights states:
"Then Sulyvahn wrongfully proclaimed himself Pontiff,. and took me prisoner."
and furthermore according to the lore of the soul of Pontiff Sulyvahn:
"Pontiff Sulyvahn of Irithyll imprisoned a god of the old royalty in the abandoned cathedral, to be fed to the devourer."
Pontiff Sulyvahn declared himself Pontiff and head of The Way of White, and appears to have co-opted its belief system into the new Deep faith, and thereby fed Gwyndolin to Aldrich. It is unclear if the illusion of Gwynevere and likewise that of sunlit Anor Londo already had been broken, or if in feeding Gwyndolin to Aldrich, Pontiff Sulyvahn broke the illusion.
SPECULATION: THE SOURCE OF THE BOREAL VALLEY
Why The Boreal Valley is a frozen waste trapped in eternal night is something that is relatively unknown, yet is highly critical given the area's overall importance to the setting and the unique presence of frost here. No ingame item descriptions, dialogue, or lore exists to properly explain this geographic phenomena, however, snowy areas in the souls series are extremely rare, and there exists sufficent evidence in the series to make somewhat educated guesses as to the origins.
- The most likely theory is that there is a connection between the cold of the Boreal Valley and that of The Painted World. The Painted World, originally within Anor Londo, was created as a cold and gentle place beyond the reach of flame, and therefore was cold enough to permit snow. Given that the head of Irithyll, Pontiff Sulyvahn, originated in the Painted World and had powers over cold, it is quite possible that the cold of the entire Boreal Valley was produced by Sulyvahn for some unknown purpose.
- According to the description of the spell Snap Freeze, found in the painting of Ariamis, reconstructed by Ariandel (itself supported by the description of the Flail of Ariandel) states: "One of the spells left behind by the young sorcerer Sulyvahn before leaving the Painted World. Creates a cloud of near-freezing mist. Sulyvahn was born and raised inside the painting, yet had little use for his frigid homeland, since he had not yet experienced loss." From this it can clearly be seen that Pontiff Sulyvahn, the leader of Irithyll, originated in the painted world and had powers pertaining to the creation of cold.
- Additionally, accessing the land of Irithyll requires a doll, much as accessing the original painting of Ariamis required one, which strongly supports that the two are linked. Unlike the painting, this protection seems to be directly placed, being a barrier keeping individuals out of the city, and was likely erected by Sulyvahn, whose archbishops possess a doll for acessing the city.
- It is also possible either that the cold of the painting somehow spread beyond it after Lordran fell to dark and therefore began to exist in absence of heat or that this cold is a natural result of an area far from the reach of fire.
- The second possible theory is that Irithyll is the result of the movement of Anor Londo from its traditional location to the frozen land of Eleum Loyce encountered in Dark Souls II. This theory is derived largely from the large number of extreme similarities between Eleum Loyce and Irithyll.
- Most notably, the architecture of Eleum Loyce and Irithyll is highly similar, with both being built around a grand cathedral at the center of the city, with the one Pontiff Sulyvahn residing in GREATLY resembling that which housed the Ivory King's throne. Additionally the bridges of Irithyll are almost identical in architecture to those of Eleum Loyce.
- Eleum Loyce was a land guarded by massive beasts on the bridge of the city, identically to the role served by Sulyvahn's beasts.
- Likewise, these beasts and many throughout the city of Eleum Loyce possessed the power of true invisibility, much like the similar power displayed almost uniquely by those within Irithyll, being only otherwise displayed by those serving Rosaria and displayed by those of the Painted World.
- The Irithyll Slaves encountered in Dark Souls III appear to wear the ragged remains of the Retainer Robe worn by the enemy of the same name encountered in Dark Souls II, the purposeless servents of The Ivory King left to wander the city. These servents primarily used knives and catalysts and would hide unseen in corners of the city, striking at the player from behind, identically to the Irithyll slaves.
- Knight Slayer Tsorig's ring is identical to that of the Ivory Warrior Ring found in Eleum Loyce, in form and function, and he wields a weapon from the other DLC of Dark Souls II, making it extremely likely that the frozen city referenced in the lore of his ring is that of Eleum Loyce. The fact that he is found nearby to the frozen city of Irithyll is likely not coincidence, but indeed proof that he obtained the ring from there, indicating that the two cities were the same.
- Eleum Loyce was built upon a massive bed of chaos known as the Old Chaos, implied to be the remnants of Izalith. Geographically, this puts Eleum Loyce in the close vicinity of Anor Londo, and additionally in very close proximity to where Irithyll is found, nearby and above the Smouldering Lake where Izalith is found.
In no other area in the game is there such a clear deliniation of caste and rank, nor such a infection of the Abyss. The streets themselves are empty of everything but patrols, implying a clear military caste system. Knights of the Pontiff appear to be the primary soldiers, having free reign of the streets, wandering in pairs or alone. Despite their appearances, they are not hollow, taking no extra damage from the Hollowslayer. This becomes apparent with their attacks, including tearing out a part of their own humanity from within themselves and hurling it at you, implying the amount of humanity growing within them is immense. Below them are the slaves of Irithyll, bound in chains, shivering and almost naked, clutching swords, pure humanity seeming to burst from their skulls themselves. They are guided along by Firewitches, said in their lore to have once been holy knights, yet corrupted by the profane flame (indeed, their armor resembles both that of Paladin Leeroy from Dark Souls 1 and Fume Knight Raime of Dark Souls II). The Fire Witches are most solitary, but appear to be of the highest rank, guiding along the Pontiff Knights, and sheperding the Slaves.
In the back alleys of Irithyll lurk the lowest of the caste, true slaves, hidden in the cranies of the city. Perhaps these are the normal citizens of Irithyll. Among them are hounds, yet hounds with human skulls, indicating perhaps the same processes used to warp the bodies of the Beasts of Sulyvahn, or perhaps dogs bloated on humanity, taking on human form. Even lower then them are slaves missing their legs, likely hobbled in the same manner as The Ash Maiden of Dark Souls I and Ludleth. These slaves truely appear to drown in dark, found only in the dark ensrouded shed before reaching the lake, at the very outermost reaches of the city, vomitting up dark sludge. Lurking at the fringes of the lake are Centipede Women, perhaps escaped from The Profaned Capital, or indeed brought about by the rise of The Profaned Flame from its depths into Irithyll. Lastly, dwelling in the most noble manor of the city are silver knights as of Anor Londo of Old, implying this area as perhaps the dwelling of a noble from the capital.
ARCHITECTURE AND STATUES
Irithyll is clearly a city expecting opposition of some form. The entire city is built so that it can only be approached from one side, under heavy guard by a beast of Sulyvahn. An aurora like forcefield surrounds the city, baring entrance to all except those that originated there or that were brought there, who bear a key constantly whispering of their loyalty and origin to the fabled city. The first area encountered is a city square, with a bonfire labelled Irithyll Center, implying it to be the town square.
The city strongly resembles Yharnam of Bloodborne, being covered in a mixture of elizabethian architecture and renaisaince cathedrals. Much like Bloodborne, a great deal of lore can be gleaned from the statues of the city, of which a few predominate.
THE CENTRAL FOUNTAIN
The very first landmark the player encounters in Irithyll is a large central fountain in the town square, where 8 statues predominate, built around what appears to be reminicent of the rotating elevator pillar of anor londo. The statues are:
2 statues of a Hunched Bishop-like Figure: each bearing a crown reminicent of that of the Pontiff Knights, or perhaps that of the arch-deacons. Variations of these statues occur later as well. This statue appears to be central to the lore of Irithyll, being the main symbol for the area itself. They appear to have some sort of tassel or perhaps chime tied around their neck. It is possible that these are some previous Pontiff or Pontiff's, or one of the Arch-Deacons serving Sulyvahn, or even Sulyvahn himself.
2 statues of a kneeling Crowned Woman: These statues are unique to this location and are not repeated later. Their crown bears reminiscence to that of Gwyn, perhaps implying some courtly status, but they are highly mysterious. They may perhaps be female Pontiffs, Gwynevere, or any number of other possibilities. They do not appear to be the same woman as the statues within the Cathedral of the Deep.
*Speculation: They bear some resembleance to the Woman Holding A Child With A Sword Statues that were prevelant in both the Undead Parish and Darkmoon Tomb of Dark Souls I. They also however bear great resemblence with their crowns and flowing hair to the Pygmy Lords, an odd resemblence to be sure, with odd implication, possibly of some form of Human Worship, or otherwise of Collaboration between Irithyll and Londor/The Ringed City, previously unknwon.
4 statues of a Praying Wretch: these hooded figures hold the same posture of prayer as those of the Cathedral of The Deep, implying some considerable connection, likely with those of the cathedral being some form of evolution of these and their basic concept of worship and extreme servitude.
*Speculation: These statues greatly resemble either the basic mage robe or the Retainers of Eleum Loyce, either of which has considerable connotations.
At the peak of the fountain, a small flame can be seen, serving as the orientation point of the Fountain and the figures.
Given the central placement of this fountain, it appears to represent the ideology of Irithyll: Priests and Priestesses or rulers of some sort, and wretched worshippers, all arranged around a flame held high above. The proliferation of the priestly statues and wretched worshipper statues and the exclusion of the Crowned Woman statues seems to imply some change occured and the woman fell from favor, or became unimportant. It is possible this figure is therefore of some relevance to the change that occured in Irithyll.
Little of true noteworthiness appears beyond this up until the dias outside of Yorshka's Church, consisting primarily of deeper looks into the mazelike architecture of the city and its unceasing patrols of soldiers.
OUTSIDE THE CATHEDRAL
The central plaza outside the Cathedral is where we next encounter geometry of true significance. The same statues of praying wretches line the sides leading up to the grand Cathedral, seeming to indicate it as a place of great worship. Within the confines of the outer courtyard of the Cathedral Plaza, many statues are arranged around the Ring of The Sun's Firstborne. The orientation of the Ring, the Courtyard Tree with the crazed Evangelist, and The Church tell a facinating tale of connotation.
*Speculation: The placement of the Ring of The Sun's Firstborne outside of the Cathedral away from its location outside the tomb of Gwyn subtly indicates a change in focus of the Way of White. The Sun's Firstborne is placed in a central role, worshipped by the public, but is in fact outside of the Cathedral, and indeed Anor Londo itself, almost as if it and what it represents, as well as the authority of the Blades of The Darkmoon, have indeed been evicted from their rightful place within Anor Londo. Indeed its location upon a corpse exposed to the public eye seems to evoke a sense of declaration of death, that it is intended to be the Corpse of the Firstborne (in the eyes of the public, but not neccessarily reality), fitting with the themes of The Death of the Old Gods that characterizes Sulyvahn's worship of the Devourer of Gods.
Before this palaquine are two statues of the same Priestly figure of the Courtyard. Although the twin statues themselves are identical, each is slightly different in its apparal, holding another tool of office. One bears a cup of fire, the other a staff of office. This cup of fire is extremely notable in that it is the same fire that was at the peak of the fountain, but now held in the hands of the priest. Where once the flame was out of reach, it is now a symbol of office, held by a man. These seem to represent the twin attributes of the office of The Way of White: The staff of religion (or indeed possibly magic) and the Flame (or indeed possibly the Profaned Flame). As such the two statues appear to either represent the old values of the Way of White (protecting the flame, wielding true authority), or the new way of things under Pontiff Sulyvahn (Magic in one hand, the Profaned Flame in the other, united together in the form of the Pontiff). The progression from the fountain to this arrangement appears to indeed reflect the change in values of the city under the Pontiff.
Here too we first encounter the fourth statue type: The child holding a sword, arranged by the dozens before the area. This statue strongly resembles the Squire on the doll used to access Irithyll, and is likely the very same. What role the squire fulfills as a symbol in Irithyllian Society is unknown. Facinatingly, these statues bear tremendous resembelence to two statues of Dark Souls I. The swords they weild are nearly identical to those held by the child held by the goddess in the Undead Parish, and they appear very similar to the child with the woman in the painted world.
*Speculation: The soldier style slaves wielding claymores in some regard resemble this statue, each clutching tight a single long blade. They may reflect some principle of servitude integral to Irithylls apparantly highly caste-like structure. Perhaps those that were brought to the city as children of the gods were indentured as slaves under the Pontiff, under some system through which they could rise in rank to become his knights.
These statues proliferate in this central courtyard, arranged around the Ring of The Sun's Firstborne, and again in Yorshka's Church. The presence of Yorshka far above and Anri below, with the disguised assassin, seems to indicate a poor fate indeed for those children, as the only connotation of Aldrich to children is that of sacrifice and being devoured. Perhaps each statue represents a sacrifice fed to Aldrich.
Within Yorshka's Church, as expected, are many tools of the Blades of The Dark Moon, whose commander and remnants reside far above. It is very strange however that this too is the area where the servent of Londor chooses to dwell, especially given the final place of Londor's plan takes place within the true headquarters of The Blades of The Dark Moon. Perhaps there is some connection between the two.
Around the back, overlooking the lakewater of the lake of Irithyll is a field of graves. Here we find one massive grave, seperate from the rest, at which prays a single Forlorn, the first and last for a long time. He bears a scythe and appears to be in mourning. Given the location outside of Yorshka's Church, the size of the grave, and the placement of the Forlorn, it is implied that this might be Pricilla's Grave, although if her body rests there or indeed if she is dead is unknown.
Little is to be said of this place, beyond the proliferation of Profaned Capital Centipede Women, perhaps counjured by the rise of the profaned flame in the city, and the corpse of a Mangrub, bearing a miracle of Gwynevere, further tying Rosaria to the lineage of Gwyn and perhaps indeed to this city.
Irithyll Dungeon was founded by Pontif Sulyvahn with the survivors of the Profaned Capital. Here heretics of the various beliefs contrary to that of The Deep are kept and endlessly tortured by the Profaned survivors. The layout of the dungeon, overlooking The Profaned Capital, is stated to in part be a method of inducing despair.
The Grand Archives
The Grand Archives is an area where the knowledge of Lotheric, and through it, perhaps all the knowledge of the world, is hoarded and studied by The Candle Scholars, one of the Three Pillars of Lotheric. devoted to the worship of Seath the Scaleless.
Consumed King Gardens and The Untended Graves
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Archdragon Peak is an area devoted to the worshipful emulation of the Everlasting Dragons. Arrived at by falling asleep while meditating, it is unclear if the area is real or a dream, or indeed if this distinction even matters. Many wonders of the ancient world exist here, making it a veritable paradise to those that honor and worship the Dragons of the past, a stark contrast to Irithyll Dungeon, where such dreams are crushed inexorably. It now inhabited primarily by the creations of the dragon Seath The Scaleless: the Man-Serpents, both in variants of monk-like protectors and mage-serpents, curiously bearing the robes of Candle Scholars and masks reminiscent of the Channelers that served Seath.
EVIDENCE FOR AND AGAINST ARCHDRAGON PEAK BEING IN ANOTHER TIME, A DREAM, MEMORY, OR OTHERWISE
Dragon worship has had strong connotations with dreams and memories in Dark Souls I and II, as well as non-existant places. The primary thing attained from the dragon worshippers in Dark Souls II is The Ashen Mist Heart, which allowed the player to enter memories and fight in long gone places.
Much like Firelink Shrine, the appearance of the hole in the sky is not visible in Archdragon Peak, indicating it is in a different time or place. Uniquely, both the Sun and Moon are visible here simoltaneously, yet this does not affect the time of day. Many attributes of the place, from the bounty of resources to the presence of old heros and legends, to its nature as a paradise for dragonworshipers seems too good to be true in the pessimistic Souls setting, while the fact that the weather can be changed by ringing a bell, yet the storm of The King of Storms is not visible from other places is surreal even by Souls standards.
However, Archdragon Peak is directly visible from many places on the map, and Irithyll is visible from Archdragon Peak, indicating the location has some relation to reality, or at least more then Firelink has, and although the light does not change when the Dark Sun appears, this is also true of nearby Irithyll. Additionally, items can be brought to and from the area and Hawkwood can be summoned there (the same however is true of memories in Dark Souls II, which possessed both items and summons such as Benhart of Jugo, who recognized you despite being encountered in a thousand year old memory)
Dark Firelink Shrine
A dark version of Firelink Shrine connected to The Abyss. The place is shrouded in darkness despite nearby areas still being in day time. Lothric castle for example. You access the place by revealing an illusion after defeating the consumed king. You enter the untended graves and its a dark mirror of cemetary of ash. Filled with stronger hollows. You even fight Champion Gundyr, a stronger Gundyr that lacks the writhing growth of darkness on his back, instead his eyes glow a creepy red, as if that evil has fully merged with him. He is stronger and faster.
We also enter a mirror of firelink shrine guarded by black knights.Black knights are soldiers of Gwyn who followed him when he linked the flame. Their armour blackened by the flame, and they became ash, but they still wander. Their presence must mean that they may have tried to protect the fire here, but failed as when you enter, there is no fire, just a broken coiled sword fragment. This strange firelink shrine swallowed up in darkness is connected to the one we know because any messages we leave here will appear there. Andre's work station can be found as well. Only the handmaid is alive her, which is strange, considering that she looks weak. This maybe firelink in a different period in time, as items left behind by npcs like Greirat will appear in the dark as well, and traveling to dark fire link shrine early, skipping Greirat and Orbeck...etc killing Emma and rushing to Oceiros, will match the current firelink ( Greirats stuff won't be there, but will spawn once he actually moves in). It may also be a parallel world thing, like the Hunter's Dream from Bloodborne. Eitherway, the dark shrine and the real one are connected, they could be the same shrine.
The Kiln of The First Flame
The Kiln of The First Flame is the endgame area of DS3, and it was also the endgame area of DS1.
The Linking of The Fire
The Unkindled defeats the Soul of Cinder and relinks the Flame. Only to sit and wait for the next unkindled to perpetuate the Cycle. If we survive, we become a Lord of Cinder.
The Age of Dark
First the Unkindled finds the Fire Keeper Eyes and agrees to betray his duty. The Unkindled defeats the Soul of Cinder and summons the Fire Keeper. The Fire Keeper let's the Flame fade, reminding the Unkindled that this will all play out again.
First the Unkindled finds the Fire Keeper Eyes and agrees to betray his duty. The Unkindled defeats the Soul of Cinder and summons the Fire Keeper. The Fire Keeper let's the Flame fade. The Unkindled then strikes the Firekeeper and takes the flame for him/herself. The Unkindled is called accursed for seeking fire selfishly.
The Usurper Of Fire
First the Unkindled must acquire the maximum number of Dark Sigils. Then must undergo a ritual marrying Anri, The Unkindled defeats the Soul of Cinder and relinks the Flame. Instead of relinknig the Flame the Unkindled steals the power of the First Flame for himself and becomes the Lord of Hollows.
Painted World of Ariandel
"Ariandel, being the restorer of the Painted World, knew that it was painted with blood, and only blood could protect the secret."
The Painted World of Ariandel, is a restored version of The Painted World. The previous Painting was hinted to be destroyed by flame. Ariandel and Elfriede chose the Painted World as a refuge to escape the cycle of relinking The Flame.
The Dreg Heap
"At the close of the Age of Fire, all lands meet at the end of the earth. Great kingdoms and anaemic townships will be one and the same. The great tide of human enterprise, all for naught. That's why I'm so taken by this grand sight."
The Dreg Heap is the remnants of all the kingdoms of the world all settled at the bottom of the Abyss.
The Ringed City
"Who I was , or what I lived for. Not even my own blessed name. That's why I've come here, searching - for the purging monument, said to be in the ringed city. Where the pygmies who found the dark souls at the dawn of fire reside."
The Ringed City is home of the Pygmies. As well as where Gwyn's Daughter Filianore slumbers.