Well, it’s been nine days (for me) since venturing back into the world of Dark Souls. Nine days of death, frustration, oppression, elation, wonderment, and obsession. And, like several others I have seen around the internet, I have noticed some striking similarities between Drangleic and our former home of undeath in the world of curses and souls: Lordran. In fact, I personally believe that it has become rather undeniable that Drangleic stands on the same area of land that Lordran did, as evidenced by many hints and clues left in the game.
First, let’s consider some dialogue from several NPC characters:
Stone Trader Chloanne: (the Blacksmith’s daughter): “You know how they call this place Drangleic, right? Well, in the old lore, in stories, they said it had another name. What was it? Well… I don’t know. It’s just something I heard. Since long, long ago, many kingdoms have risen and fallen in this very spot. Just like a great flame that turns to soot. Maybe that’s why most people don’t remember much about the past.” Straid of Olaphis: “Many Kingdoms rose and fell on this tract of Earth. Mine was by no means the first. Anything that has a beginning also has an end. No flame, however brilliant, does not one day sputter out and die. But them, from the ashes, a flame reignites, and a new king is born, sporting a new face. It is all a curse! heh heh heh… and it is your cursed flesh that will inherit the flame” Straid of Olaphis: “Drangleic… I’ve never heard that name. Is that what they call this place now?” (Olaphis, therefore, came after Lordran fell, but before Drangleic existed. Now, if we consider that – on the Dark Souls timeline – at least 1000 years passed between Gwyn linking The Flame and the undead outbreak/events of Dark Souls, I will argue henceforth that the ‘cycle’ of the flame in Dark Souls takes roughly 1000 years to complete. This would indicate that if Olaphis was the only kingdom to rise and fall between the time of Lordran and Gwyn, and the time of Vendrick and Drangleic, roughly 2000 years has passed since the first game. However, there is no clear evidence of how many times the cycle has repeated.
Some people have addressed concerns about how the topography doesn’t match up; how ground elevation conflicts with theories that certain places from Drangleic are future incarnations of locations from Dark Souls.
Now, if we understand that the cycle between the re-kindling of the flame and the undead outbreak/new Chosen Undead is around 1000 years (as evidenced by the lore), and we know that at least one kingdom rose and fell (probably more) as evidenced by Straid saying that he is from Olaphis, and Olaphis was where Drangleic is now, then we can assume that at least 2000 years has passed since Dark Souls 1. Probably more, but let’s say – for sake of argument – that only 2000 years has passed.
- Carthage – Located in present-day Tunisia, Carthage was founded by Phoenician colonists and became a major power in the Mediterranean. The resulting rivalry with Syracuse and Rome was accompanied by several wars with respective invasions of each other’s homeland, most notable the invasion of Italy by Hannibal. The city was destroyed by the Romans in 146 BC (a little more than 2000 years ago). The Romans went from house to house, capturing, raping and enslaving the people before setting Carthage ablaze. Here is what the ruins of Carthage look like today:
- Timgad – Timgad was a Roman colonial town in Algeria founded by the Emperor Trajan around 100 AD. Originally designed for a population of around 15,000, the city quickly outgrew its original specifications and spilled beyond the orthogonal grid in a more loosely-organized fashion. In the 5th Century, the city was sacked by the Vandals and two centuries later by the Berbers. The city disappeared from history, becoming one the lost cities of the Roman Empire, until its excavation in 1881. It was excavated because time had buried the ruins below the ground (in 2000 years).
- Verdronken Land van Reimerswaal – Verdronken Land van Reimerswaal is an area of flood-covered land in Zeeland in the Netherlands between Noord Beveland and Bergen op Zoom. Some of it was lost in the St. Felix’s Flood in 1530, and some of it in 1532. That was only 500 years ago! After the land was lost, the city of Reimerswaal survived on a small island for a while.
The point is, a whole lot can happen in 2000 years. You can do the research yourself, but anyone who is arguing that the topography couldn’t have changed that significantly in what is, in all likelihood many thousands of years, is mistaken – and it has likely been much more than 2000 years, since Manscoprion Tark and Scorpioness Najka were originally from Doors of the Pharros back when it was an inhabitable kingdom, and it obviously hasn’t been a busting metropolis for awhile now.
Sweet Shalquoir the cat: “This place is already dead. Everything will crumble and waste away so that something new may be born. Isn’t it wonderful?”
I’ve seen some people speculate that the Bastille could be the Northern Undead Asylum, or that because of things Straid said and that the opening sequence says “far to the north” that the entirety of Drangleic takes place where the Northern Undead Asylum stood. I believe this way of thinking to be a fallacy. First off, ‘northern’ isn’t a definitive measurement, so the distance referenced is relative. Secondly, FROM seems to be fond of throwing “far to the north” around in the same manner as “in a land far, far away,” and “and so they lived happily ever after.” Long ago, in a walled off land far to the north, a great king built a great kingdom. The giants, however, also attacked from a continent “to the north.” Lordran was said to be “in the north.” I really don’t think it means much since it’s so subjective. Thirdly, The Northern Undead Asylum wasn’t necessarily that far away from Lordran in the first place. It was literally a bird’s (a giant bird’s) flight away. Lastly, the imprisonment of the cursed in the Northern Undead Asylum is not the same event as the cursed being imprisoned in Straid’s time, or the undead being imprisoned in the time of Drangleic, so assuming that they were all imprisoned in the same place is a bit of a fallacy in and of itself; it wouldn’t have made sense to have a place to lock up undead in the ~900 years of peace before the undead outbreak occurred during each cycle. Also, it says in the game that the Bastille wasn’t originally a prison, but was converted into being a prison after the outbreak occurred. Straid: “The cursed ones were imprisoned in this land. Of course, you came of your own free will… heh heh.” Straid is obviously aware of the cycle, realizes you are the new chosen undead, and is mocking you for coming here of anything but your own free will.
So we’ve obviously established that Drangleic is not the first kingdom to rise and fall upon this same landmass. There have been some other theories as to where this place could have been, and I would like to address (and dismiss) those theories in the following section.
First off, let’s go ahead and squash that bit of nonsense about this being Vinheim because of the Lingering Dragoncrest Ring right now, once and for all. Griggs of Vinheim sells the Lingering Dragoncrest Ring to you in Firelink Shrine. The description in DkS1 reads: “A special ring granted to only the most accomplished sorcerers at Vinheim Dragon School.” In DkS2 when you acquire the ring, it says “A ring used long, long ago in a land that existed where Drangleic does now.” That, in no way whatsoever, alludes to Drangleic being Vinheim, and that’s before even acknowledging the fact that the ring was used in Lordran by The Chosen Undead (or by Griggs if you want to say “but I wasn’t a mage”). This is weak evidence for the Vinheim theory, and just about the only evidence to support that, so I am going to be so bold as to state that the Vinheim theory is total rubbish and should be dismissed as untrue. EDIT: Reddit user kalasbkeo has pointed out that the ring says it was used by sorcerers, plural. Now, the entire language of the flavor text on the ring suggests there were multiple rings to begin with, so the presence of the ring doesn’t really evidence any location, but I will argue that it points toward Drangleic being Lordran more than it ever suggests it being Vinheim. People have questioned the presence of dragons in this game, and have even suggested that it is more proof of Drangleic being built upon Vinheim because Vinheim had a “dragon school.” Well, first off, having a “dragon school” and having actual dragons are two entirely different things. In fact, there are only 2 ancient dragons left in DkS1: The one in Ash Lake, and Kalameet – who we kill. Kalameet was called the last dragon, not the “last dragon in this neighborhood” or “the last dragon on this continent.” Last dragon. Vinheim didn’t have dragons, and Drangleic isn’t Vinheim. I think it is much more likely that Melfia is where Vinheim used to be; Melfia, a land with a famous magic academy; a land that “flourishes with magic and pyromancy.” Also, I have a theory on the presence of dragons, so more on that later.
Some people think that Heide’s Tower of Flame is where Gwynevere and her husband, Flann the God of Flame, ran off to when leaving Anor Londo. Well… no, I don’t believe so actually.
Heide’s Tower of Flame (called tower of flame because it’s a lighthouse, not because of some connection with Flann the God of Flame): “These are the remnants of a lost civilization which sank into the sea so long ago that nobody remembers whether Heide was the name of the kingdom or was simply what the continent was called in those days. The Way of the Blue was founded in ancient Heide and is still headquartered in the cathedral, one of the few structures to have survived whatever cataclysmic event submerged the surrounding area and the subsequent centuries of erosion by the wind and the waves. The Tower of Flame looms over the sea in stark defiance of the natural forces which leveled the rest of Heide, firelight from its gallery dancing and flickering in the sky. Though its original purpose has been lost to the flow of time, the Tower now serves both as a lighthouse warning passing ships away from danger and a beacon guiding those who seek the Blue Sentinels.” Also, I firmly believe that Blue Sentinels is the modern incarnation of what was once the Darkmoon Covenant. They serve the same purpose, and in the same location. This also explains why you fight Ornstein in the chapel. See, the Ornstein you fight in DkS1 wasn’t an illusion. First off, Gwynevere was an illusion, and you destroy her in 1 hit because of it. Ornstein obviously was much more difficult to master, and you get his actual soul from defeating him (unlike Gwynevere the illusion, who drops nothing but the Lordvessel if you don’t already have it). That means that Ornstein wasn’t off protecting Gwynevere once she left (That’s obviously her husband’s job now), so he remained performing the final task given to him by his former master – help Gwyndolin. Ornstein was working with the Darkmoon Covenant, protecting the Lordvessel itself instead of Gwynevere, making sure that the Chosen Undead who claims it is worthy enough. And then, over time, he fell victim to the call of the Abyss (like Artorias), which is why he uses dark magic now instead of lightning. His consciousness is barely in place, just a soul holding up some armor like the ancient constructs protecting the fallen city, but even in his timeworn state he still subconsciously remembers to protect and serve the Darkmoon Covenant. I doubt anyone remembers who he is anymore, and Ornstein certainly isn’t mentally capable of telling anyone since he’s a husk of his former self, but he is acknowledged to be the guardian of the Blue Sentinels. Old Knights (The golems at Heide’s): “These giant warriors are relics of an era that has long passed. Whether they attack you out of madness or merely as a trial for would-be Knights of the Blue will matter little if they manage to cut you down… If you do indeed enlist as a Knight of the Blue, you’ll require the power of the Cracked Blue Orbs they hold, so consider this your rite of initiation.” The Heide Knights found periodically: “Whether Heide was a proper kingdom or not isn’t clear, as it fell into the sea long ago.” (Also, on a side note, there is a good chance that one of the Firekeepers in Things Betwixt is the Darkmoon Knightress – but she’s certainly not telling if she is.) Finally, there are some very large Bird-headed sentry statues when you walk into Heide. How do we know that the people who inhabited Heide didn’t look like Ornifix? How do we know what those Heide Knights look like under those helmets? We don’t. The only evidence that we have that Heide’s Tower of Flame isn’t Anor Londo, and is instead someplace Flann built, is a loose connection based upon the name. There is much more evidence – actual evidence – suggesting that this isn’t the case. Also, there is no presence of flame sorcery, which from how I understand it, was kinda Flann’s thing.
To the people saying “FROM said that if the last game was the South Pole, this game is the North Pole.”
Yeah… about that. FROM also made everyone believe that The Pendant starting gift did something really cool and secretive, and led people on for years about it. Aside from being a troll (since FROM explicitly states that they *want* the players to piece together their ambiguous hints into a narrative through item descriptions and the like), it could have just been that it was an early interview (the game was only about 25% done then) and things change during development. Producer Takeshi Miyazoe also said, when asked “There have been hints at time traveling being a part of Dark Souls 2, will this have any relation the original?” that:
- “The straight answer to that is that there is no connection between the two stories. Again, they are the same world, same places, but I think from a design perspective, I think players that love Dark Souls 1 will be able to see some resemblance between the two. But, in terms of story, they are very separate.”
Yes… clearly no connection between the two stories. No connection at all. Except…
Here are some of the NPC and item references to Seath the Scaless:
Ornifex: “It is said that our technique originates from a strange being that inhabited this land. A Pale beast that lived long, long ago. We don’t even know exactly what it was.” (Inhabited THIS land) Carhillion of the Fold: “Sorcery was created long, long ago. Some say it was originated by the great, pale being.”
- Also, Manscorpion Tark congratulates you on “defeating his master” after battling the spider in Brightstone Cove Tseldora. He says, “What skill. You’ve defeated my master. But our (him and Scorpioness Najka) master never dies, only changes form, so that he may seethe (Seath play on words?) for all eternity.”
Manscorpion Tark: “We had a master once, but he was born with a fatal flaw. He coveted what those like him had that he liked… so he used experiments to conjure up strange creatures. [sic]” Our master was a tragically lonely soul. His solitude finally eroded his very wisdom.” *This is nearly word-for-word, but I wasn’t able to transcribe it verbatim in time. The details are there though, and it’s undeniable that Seath is who he was talking about. Scorpioness Najka: “The wife of Manscorpion Tark, a fragile soul created long ago by an ancient being in the throes of madness.” This seems to indicate that both Tark and Scorpioness Najka are experiments of Seath’s. Also, The Duke’s Dear Freja drops “Old Paledrake’s Soul” in NG+. It’s obvious at this point who the “pale one” is, and it seems he’s essentially still around in spirit. (I would like to point out that the spider itself isn’t Seath, but that Duke Tseldora is, hence the Duke is The Duke… just not the same Duke exactly.) When you examine the crystal where you fight Freja, you see a dead dragon from the ancient war of the dragons that Gwyn waged. We know it is from the ancient war; there are comparison shots between the intro sequence of Dark Souls (with the war of the dragons and the archtrees) and the dragon’s memories sequence. Remember, Seath betrayed the dragons; betrayed his own kin. It’s only appropriate that we get a glimpse of his betrayal in the form of one of his dead brothers from so long ago in the same spot where his soul has eternally maintained. Plus, Brightstone Cove Tseldora is full of crystalline structures (like The Crystal Caves), and right next to where you acquire Seath’s Lord Soul (from Duke Tseldora’s hangout). The Duke is The Duke is The Duke, and Brightstone Cove is where The Crystal Caves used to stand. (Perhaps the encampment up on the hill above Brightstone Cove is where the Duke’s Archives once stood. Where you exit the cave from Pharros into the camp there is a fountain that looks really familiar to me, but I haven’t found its counterpart in DkS1 yet, so I don’t know if it’s just my imagination.)
Now onto Nito references:
First, there are the Melfnito who were created by “The Great Dead One.” They sing to comfort those bound by death and dark. Then there is Grave Warden Agdayne, a member of the Fenito (FeNITO) race who was created by the “Great Dead One.” He has been alive for thousands of years, and his race is charged to protect the crypts of the dead. Agdayne: “I am a Fenito. We weave death and watch over the dead. This task was granted to me by the one who gave us the first death. Countless souls rest here, some of them from ages long ago.” He then goes on to say… Agdayne: “In the past humans were one with the dark. The former King of the Light, he feared humans… feared they would usher in an age of the dark.” The former King of Light? Gwyn? Or perhaps another. It doesn’t matter; he is certainly not talking about Vendrick since he is the current king, so this just goes on to reinforce the evidence that this is Lordran. Oh, and Nito is in the game as well… essentially. As you may know by now, in NG+ the four “big” bosses drop different boss souls, revealing who they are actually a reincarnation of. Freja drops “Old Paledrake’s Souls” (Seath), Sinner drops “Lost Witch” (The Witch of Izalith), Rotten drops “Old Dead One” (Nito), and Iron King drops “Old King’s Soul. (Gwyn)” And what is the boss that drops Nito’s soul? A mass of pieced together body parts, just like Nito was comprised of a mass of bones and skeletons.
Actually, let’s take a moment to talk about the ‘ol Witch of Izalith…
When you see the cut-scene before the Sinner fight, did you notice the bug crawling into its eye? Did you notice that is was a Chaos Bug? That’s right, Sinner is a ‘she’ and is the Witch of Izalith reborn. From the Official Collector’s Guide: “The Lost Sinner eternally punishes herself for the sins of her past, she committed what some would believe to be the ultimate sin – she attempted to re-light the First Flame. The Lost Sinner possesses the Souls of a Great One; she holds the remnants of the Soul of the Old Witch of Izalith. Eons have passed since the Old Witch of Izalith walked the land, but such was her power that it persists even now.” Observe that if The Sinner tried re-lighting the First Flame that the Flame would have to be here, and that the Old Witch hasn’t walked the lands for “eons.” If you talk to the cat in Majula after fighting the Sinner she will confirm that she tried re-lighting the flame.
- The point is, the Lord Souls have always been there. The Lord Souls were just claimed by Nito, Izalith, etc., There are only 4 lord souls, no matter who possesses them, but they obviously have taken on characteristics of their original owners, like they’ve been imprinted with them.
Sweet Shalquoir the cat: “Are you going to see the old ones? Those 4 have grown so incredibly ancient. For heaven’s sake, no one even knows their names anymore.”
Now about endings…
There has been lots of (what I believe to be misguided) talk about which ending in Dark Souls is canon, the Link the Flame ending or the Dark Lord ending. Well… both are. Remember, time and space function strangely in this land; timelines weave in and out of one another, crossing over and influencing the path of others (spirits entering your world, and you entering the world of other spirits). Remember, all of these other ‘spirits’ are the Chosen Undead as well, just in another thread of existence; another timeline; another reality. Therefore, just like Schrödinger’s cat, all possibilities exist. Both endings are canon, because both happened, and both didn’t happen. In this particular timeline you start off in I believe it’s obvious that the Flame was linked, starting the cycle over again. See, it doesn’t matter if 99 out of 100 people chose to become The Dark Lord, because somebody would inevitably, in some timeline, chose to link the flame, therefore continuing the cycle. That’s why you don’t have a choice at the end of DkS2, because the choice is ultimately irrelevant, as evidenced by the entire existence of this game. EDIT: I would like to add the following, and credit Redditor TheMainTank: “Also, the idea that both and neither of the first game’s endings necessarily happened is the whole reason Shanalotte (The Emerald Herald) is in the game. She says she was “born of dragons and contrived by humans” in an attempt to make that ending decision matter; to end the cycle (the cycle that ultimately promises more souls games!) but failed.”
So, about that…
Chancellor Wellager: “My Lord made magnificient findings on souls. He vanquished the four great ones and built this kingdom upon their souls. Our king has watched over this land since ages long, long ago.” So Vendrick was a Chosen Undead. It makes it quite clear in the game that he vanquished the four great ones. He didn’t find the four great ones, he defeated them. He did what you did in DkS1. He defeated the four, and then build Drangleic with his vision. Wellager also explains that the Queen came from a faraway land and warned the King of the looming threat of giants from across the sea. The King crossed the seas, with the Queen by his side, defeated the giants and “commandeered their power.” He used their power to create the golems, and used that power to create the castle. Now, the golems are the large constructs in Drangleic castle that look like giants, and light up and move doors/walls. They are also the constructs that form the bridge to the Throne of Want for you at the end of the game. Don’t confuse the golems with the mechanical automatons you fight elsewhere, like in Heide’s Tower of Flame. Also, let’s examine the guide for a moment regarding the Queen and where she came from. “A woman of mysterious origin who appeared at Drangleic Castle claiming to have ventured there from a foreign land. The circumstances surrounding Nashandra’s arrival in Drangleic and her motives for seeking and audience with the King remain shrouded in uncertainty.” She is a liar! She didn’t come there from a foreign land. Of all the foreign lands mentioned in the game, nobody knows where she came from? Oh bullshit. She appeared and came to the king because she knew he was the chosen undead, and knew what she wanted from him: she wanted him to cross the seas to the north, fight the giants, and claim their prize. She wanted to use him to spread the abyss. See… Wellager says something incredibly revealing: “The Queen brought peace to this land… a peace so deep it was like ‘the dark.’” Yes, the dark. That’s because The Queen is Manus.
Nashandra’s boss weapons tell her story pretty well: Bow of Want: “The old one of the Abyss was reborn in death, split into miniscule fragments, and spread across the land. The smallest of the pieces, sensing it’s own fragility, yearned for what it lacked.” The second passage changes on the Scythe of Want and says “The pieces began to coalesce once again, becoming human in shape.” Chime of Want: “The tiniest of these pieces, precisely due to its size, was the first to restore it’s form.” Not to mention that The Official Guide confirms that the Queen is Manus (The queen, Nashandra, has a secret, Dark and ancient. She is the smallest piece of Manus, the Father of the Abyss. Long ago, after his defeat in the lost land of Oolacile, he split into miniscule fragments. As the fragments recollected, they assumed a human form.), and since Manus is The Furtive Pygmy (the inspiration behind the motivations of Darkstalker Kaathe and his ilk), it starts to illuminate the motivations and actions of King Vendrick and his unfortunately-chosen piece of ass throughout the narrative. That isn’t, however, the point of this article; the point of this article is to make clear that Lordran and Drangleic are indeed the same place, so let’s continue with solidifying that as fact. Well, the Queen tells you that the King never assumed the “true throne,” or The Throne of Want. The Throne of Want is where the Kiln of the First Flame is (notice all the piles of white ash in, around, and covering the outside of the Throne), so Vendrick decided – for whatever reason – to choose neither “ending;” he didn’t link the flame or become the Dark Lord. He instead, as the game tells us, tried absolutely everything he could possibly think of in order to try and rid his land of the curse. He had become aware of the cycle, and aware of the fallacy of it all, plus he had become aware of the Queen’s ill intent (her wanting to spread the abyss/darkness). So if Vendrick isn’t going to perpetuate the cycle but wants to find another way to rid the curse, what does he do? Well, him and his older brother Aldia went to work…
- Manor of Lord Aldia, the elder brother of King Vendrick and co-founder of Drangleic. Aldia became increasingly absorbed in his macabre experiments until finally Vendrick confined him to the manor, but the experiments continued.
Aldia and Vendrick were experimenting for a reason. At first, it wasn’t just because Aldia was a cruel and twisted individual – although, sadly, that’s where it ended up. The guide says that Vendrick tried more and more grotesque things over time in order to try and rid his land of the curse. What were they doing in the Manor? Making dragons.
That petrified egg you find in the Dragon Shrine? It says “A large petrified egg. Surely bears no life. Eggs are vessels that harbor life itself, and symbolize the deepest secrets of existence. But what does a petrified egg harbor?” Maybe this egg was used by Aldia and Vendrick to give birth to the dragons. It took a long time for them to procreate and grow, but they’re flourishing now, and the Ancient Dragon at the top of the Shrine was possibly the first they had created. Afterall, the Shrine is accessed through Aldia’s, after defeating a guardian Drake. Or maybe that Shrine has been there from sometime before. Who knows? What we do know though is that, from those dragons they experimented with combinations of souls until they ended up making The Emerald Herald. You can see the failed incarnations of these experiments in the deep recesses of Sinner’s Rise in the form of… Enhanced Undead: “This deformed, unnatural creature must surely be the product of some serious misdeeds. Who created this monstrosity, and is it what they intended to make? It almost seems to be half-dragon, but, whatever it is, it has the mind of a hollow.” There are other failed experiments in The Gutter as well, but none as telling as the Enhanced Undead.
Born of dragons but contrived by humans…
So what was the “prize” Vendrick stole from the Giants at the behest of the Queen? Well, it would have been something that would have furthered her agenda, and it’s something the Giants coveted deeply; something they were willing to sail across the seas and go to war to reclaim. Was it the petrified dragon egg? Or the mechanism for building The Throne of Want? Perhaps something to do with Lifedrain? We simply don’t know. Make note of the fact that King Vendrick’s soul and armor are kept in a locked room deep within the Shrine of Amana; a door you can only open if you are human and not hollowed. The soul and armor sit in a very human-sized chair, which is a stark contrast to the giant throne Vendrick sat upon, and the giant form he took. Whatever the “prize” was he stole from the giants; this “power of the giants he assumed for himself,” it seems to have forced him to forfeit both his human form and his soul, so he locked them away somewhere that the Queen would never find them. Why? What the hell was this prize? There are some items in the game with some interesting descriptions regarding the King:
- King’s Ring: “A powerful soul is like a curse. And Vendrick, the King of Drangleic, used a powerful soul to keep the curse at bay. King Vendrick sought greater souls, and made the giants’ strength his own, but even still, the curse overcame him.”
- Giant’s Kinship: “Each King has a rightful throne. And when he sits upon it, he sees what he chooses to see. Or perhaps, it is the throne, which shows the king only what he wants.”
- Key to King’s Passage: “King Vendrick tried all manner of things to purge the curse that threatened the kingdom. But when every last attempt failed, the King fled through the King’s Passage.”
- Seed of a Tree of Giants: “When the giants fell, they grew into giant trees. Death is not the end, for anything that has ever once lived remains a part of a great cycle of regeneration. But what of those outside the cycle?”
I think the description of the Seed of a Tree of Giants is fascinating. Maybe what he stole was something we are unaware of. Some people think he stole the Lordvessel though, and you know what? I’m not entirely opposed to that idea. I don’t think that would mean that Drangleic isn’t Lordran. The Lordvessel was initially kept in Anor Londo, behind many tests and trials, in order to weed out a worthy Chosen Undead. Maybe the last Chosen Undead put the Lordvessel across the sea to the north, protected by giants, to the same end. Maybe he hid it far away in a hope of breaking the cycle… maybe Vendrick isn’t the first to realize it. It would make sense that, if the Queen is Manus reincarnated, and Manus is the furtive Pygmy reincarnated, and Kaathe was a representative of the Pygmy, and Kaathe sent you after the Lordvessel, perhaps the Queen did too. However, I do have a theory behind the Lordvessel being broken in the basement of the manor in Majula though!
What purpose did the Lordvessel serve? Well, it held the Lord Souls, and when filled triggered the doors to open in Firelink Alter to The Kiln of the First Flame. It also opened the fog gates to the areas where the Lord Souls were by placing it at Firelink Shrine, a milestone that had to be reached for a Chosen Undead to be deemed worthy enough to proceed. Oh, and it let you warp between bonfires. I believe Vendrick shattered the Lordvessel partially out of defiance, partially to keep it out of the Queen’s hands, and to serve the purpose of empowering The Emerald Herald (who now has the ability to level you up with souls, something bonfires can no longer do). I believe he also made the King’s Doors and the King’s Ring with the Lordvessel, as the ring looks similar in both color and design. The King’s Door in Drangleic Castle is very similar to the Firelink Shrine door; you have to achieve a milestone in order to open it. The other doors protect other valuable clues to the story, and an item that is crucial to being able to open up the Throne of Want: The Giant Lord soul. That soul is not only powerful, but I think (since it isn’t present with other major souls in the current timeline – you have to obtain it from the memories) it is also the soul that empowered Vendrick and made him into a giant. So Vendrick, once he had the Throne, and the memories, and the means of opening the Throne hidden behind fortified, magical doors, he took the only other means of opening them – his ring – and stashed himself away deep within the crypts to forever deny The Queen access to The First Flame. It might not have been the Lordvessel that Vendrick stole from the giants, though. Whatever he stole allowed him to create the golems, so maybe The Queen led him to another piece of the Dark Soul. It’s all speculation for now. Whatever he took, it sure pissed the giants off something fierce though.
- About the giants: These aren’t the same giants you see in Dark Souls 1, like the giants in Sen’s Fortress or the Giant Blacksmith. Their anatomy isn’t the same. They are taller and lankier than the giants in DkS1, and although the giants from the first game wore those masks, they had more than enough of a gap to know that they didn’t have a giant, gaping hole in the front of their head. Also, it’s vaguely alluded to by Captain Drummond in the Memory of Vammar that these giants might be legion:
“Long ago, the King crossed the seas, pillaged the land of Giants, and brought back a “prize”. It was then that the golems materialized. The Giants are no ordinary barbarians. A singular rage burns within their hearts. My father, and his father both fought the Giants on this very land. The Giants have wills of steel. They cannot find it within themselves… To forgive the misdeeds of our lord.” Furthermore, the giants in Dark Souls 1 were obviously verbal, since you could talk to The Giant Blacksmith.
Let’s examine some other key players in DkS2.
The Old Iron King: “A powerful but short-sighted king who exalted the virtue of might, the Old Iron King has been transformed into a DEMON. As his flesh burned away, his soul was possessed by the wicked things that lurk *below*. He possesses the soul of an ancient king from long ago (Gwyn) – a king who met with a similar fate when he reached into the flames.” This is one of the only mentions of demons in the entire game. The entire level is reminiscent of Old Izalith in a way, so it’s fitting. Who was this demon? Smelter Demon: “A mass of iron that has come to life, the Smelter Demon was responsible for the fall of the Iron King and his castle. From the depths of the earth he sprang, and incinerated the short-sighted king in a single blow. What other demons lie beneath these treacherous grounds?” Oh, what other demons you say? Perhaps that’s what happened then. Harvest Valley was a mining colony for the Iron King, and he obviously ruined that place. Maybe his greed drove him to dig so deeply around the Iron Keep that he actually uncovered Izalith itself. He, and his castle, sank into Old Izalith. Iron Keep: “High above the Earthen Peaks lies the remnants of this once mighty castle. This castle was made out of iron, and it was so immensely heavy that it sank into the ground. Well, that’s the rumor anyway. The Iron Keep did indeed sink, but you’ll have to search for the real cause of this magnificent fortresses’ downfall.” From the item description of Smelter Demon Set: “The Old Iron King was possessed of a great bounty of ore, but was incinerated by a creature that rose from the infernal depths of the earth.” Yeah. I’m going with it sank into Old Izalith.
Speaking of Harvest Valley, you find the Sunlight Alter there, and The Sunlight Alter looks exactly the same. Exactly!
The statue is identical. The way the broken pieces are arranged, and how they are broken is identical. The parapet behind the statue is identical, with the exact same brick spacing and gaps. This is the exact Sunlight Alter from DkS1. Plus, Harvest Valley is an excavation site, where mining took place for The Old Iron King. Looking for what though? Perhaps the LordVessel? You think maybe that is where it actually came from? Who knows…?
The Firekeepers are all gathered in Things Betwixt, in that little cabin, with their caregiver. They obviously know who you are when you enter (The Chosen Undead), what you represent, and they are very aware of the cycle. The caregiver tells you that there used to be 4 sisters, but there are only 3 of them in the cabin. Whatever happened to the fourth, I wonder…?
Dark Spirit the Forlorn Sister: Anastacia of Astora invades you as Dark Spirit Forlorn Sister (forlorn sister to the other 3 Firekeepers) in The Pit below Fireli… er, Majula. When you beat her she drops The Dingy armor set and the Blood Stained Skirt. “An unassuming dingy armor. Although by now grey with soot and nearly unraveled, its fabric was originally a pure white.” Ornifix is a “Crow Demon” from The Painted World of Ariamis, and as mentioned before, uses a technique passed down from Seath in the same location where Seath would have lived, which is close to the painting in Anor Londo where you encountered the crow demons. Both Homing Crystal Soulmass and Crystal Soul Spear: “said to have been devised by a master sorcerer, but his name is long forgotten (Big Hat Logan).” The former is found in the Shaded Woods and acquired from Weaponsmith Ornifex in Brightcove, which used to be Duke’s Archives, where Big Hat Logan went hollow. Shaded Woods: “A mist-shrouded forest connecting the village of Majula to several other important locations including the Shrine of Winter and Aldia’s Keep, The Shaded Woods occupy an ancient territory where great misdeeds were once committed; the remnants of a dark history can be seen among the crumbling ruins and unnaturally thick fog.” Could this be what remains of Oolacile, far into the future? Lion Clan Warrior: “A species of anthropomorphic lions whose sudden appearance on the stage of history suggests that they are not of natural origin.” The Mad Warrior Set: Looks like the Eastern Armor from Dark Souls, which was found on a dead body in Darkroot Garden, and said “a distinctive armor made in an Eastern land.” In DkS2, the Mad Warrior set says “King Vendrick called upon powers from beyond his borders in an attempt to stave off the curse. Perhaps this belonged to one of his guests.” Moon Butterfly Set directly references the Moonlight Butterfly in the official guide.
Connections with dragons
Black Dragon Shield: “A shield that appears in ancient legends. Strangely shaped, and said to be crafted from the talons of a black dragon (Black Dragon Kalameet undoubtedly). The legend of the pale dragon is told in various locales, but each account is fragmentary. Very rarely is the black dragon mentioned…” Black Dragon Greatsword: “In legend, this oddly shaped straight sword is said to be forged from the black dragon’s tail. As it is told, the black dragon lost its tail to a brave warrior in a magnificent battle, and the tail was later used to forget several legendary weapons. (Obsidian Greatsword from Dark Souls – made from Kalameet’s tail).” The Dragon Head Stone is in the game. Sublime Bone Dust, as previously discussed, references someone who at some time threw themselves into the flame to kindle it. That could mean Gwyn, Soliare, the Chosen Undead from DkS1, or any other chosen undead. I think that each Sublime Bone Dust is from a different kindler, instead of all being from the same one, meaning the First Flame would have been here all along. Cromwell the Pardoner and Oswald of Carim are dressed exactly the same, and serve precisely the same function, so therefore presumably both serve Velka. Bell Keeper Set: “Belonged to a Bell Keeper. To this day, the forbidden love of the Prince of Alken and the Princess of Venn manipulates these marionettes. Surely they never imaged their own dolls would outlast their own kingdom.” (Obviously the bell towers are not representative of Gwynevere and Flamm, as some have suggested). Lindelt still exists and is referenced. The Lindelt Nameless Usurper is Lucia, the miracle con artist.
Let’s examine some other item descriptions now.
DkS1 Black Knight Halberd: “Halberd of the black knights who wander Lordran. Used to face chaos demons. The large motion that puts the weight of the body into the attack reflects the great size of their adversaries long ago.” DkS2 BK Halberd: “Halberd wielded by knights who served a lord of light in a long-forgotten age. Even after their flesh was charred by flame, they remained as strong as ever, and stood watch, challenging visitors to their land.” DkS2 Divine Blessing: “Holy water endowed with a divine blessing. Cures status effects and fully restores HP. Water blessed by an ancient goddess. Her name is long forgotten, and the Magic Academy of Melfia denies even her existence. In any age, there are those who refuse to see reason. It is their meddling that distorts the truth.” DkS1 Divine Blessing: “Holy water from Goddess Gwynevere. Fully restores HP and undo irregularities. The Goddess of Sunlight, Gwynevere, daughter of the great Lord of Sunlight Gwyn, is cherished by all as the symbol of bounty and fertility.” DkS2 Ring of Steel Protection: “Wearer gains the protection of steel. Increases physical defense. Said to be the ring of the once legendary Knight King, though his tales are long forgotten, and even the greatly wizened have no recollection of his exploits.” DkS1 Ring of Steel Protection: “This ring belonged to the Knight King Rendal. It grants its wearer protection by boosting defence against physical attacks. Of the many legends surrounding the Knight King Rendal, one of the more well-known speaks of his standing down a giant drake and slashing it to pieces.” DkS2 Old Leo Ring: “The beloved ring of a dragon-slaying knight. Strengthens thrust weapon counter attacks. After many years of use, the ring’s face has worn down, but close inspection reveals an engraved lion.” DkS1 Leo Ring: “One of the special rings granted to the four knights of Gwyn. The Leo Ring belonged to Ornstein the Dragonslayer. This ring strengthens counters with pierce weapons. His lugged spear is said to have sliced a boulder in two.” DkS2 Lingering Dragoncrest Ring: “A ring used long, long ago in a lang that existed where Drangleic does now. Extends length of spell effect. Presumably this ring was used by a high sorcerer, but no proof of such remains.” DkS1 Lingering Dragoncrest Ring: “A special ring granted to only the most accomplished sorcerers at Vinheim Dragon School. The ring is engraved with a lingering dragon, and boosts the length of the effects of sorceries.” DkS2 Covetous Gold Serpent Ring: “A gold ring depicting the snake, both the servant and the manifestation of the god of desire, Zinder. Greed is traditionally viewed as a vice, but only a coward sees every chance as something to fear.” DkS1 Covetous Gold Serpent Ring: “The serpent is an imperfect dragon and symbol of the Undead. Its habit of devouring prey even larger than itself has led to an association of gluttony. This gold ring, engraved with the serpent, boosts its wearer’s item discovery, so that more items can be amassed.” DkS2 Covetous Silver Serpent Ring: “A silver ring depicting the snake, both the servant and the manifestation of the god of greed, Zandroe. Greed is traditionally viewed as a vice, but only a fool allows that to ruin a good opportunity.” DkS1 Covetous Silver Serpent Ring: “The serpent is an imperfect dragon and symbol of the Undead. Its habit of devouring prey even larger than itself has led to an association of gluttony. This silver ring, engraved with the serpent, rewards its wearer with additional souls for each kill.” DkS2 Ring of the Evil Eye: “A modest, but inexplicably disturbing ring. Absorb HP for each enemy defeated. Peer too closely at the rare stone that forms the eye of this ring, and things that writhe and stir may come into focus.” DkS1 Ring of the Evil Eye: “According to legend, this ring contains the spirit of the evil eye, a dark beast which assaulted Astora. The strength of the evil eye does not waver, and HP is absorbed from fallen enemies.” DkS2 Hawk Ring: “A ring graced with the engraving of a hawk. Extends the range of arrows. Blue-eyed Durgo, the nomadic bowman, had many a valiant victory in battle, half owing to the boon of this ring.” DkS1 Hawk Ring: “One of the special rings granted to the four knights of Gwyn. The Hawk Ring belonged to Hawkeye Gough, who led the Greatarchers. Boosts bow range, so that arrows fly like they were shot by Gough’s great bow, which took down high-flying dragons.”
So this leads us into the more speculative part of this article, but I think these speculations (in addition to all of the aforementioned evidence) really helps to solidify this argument.
You find all of these items in both games… the exact items. The exact items, and the exact 4 Lord Souls. You even find the wood carvings that Hawkeye Gough was making. In fact, there is so much that is exactly the same that I find the argument that all of this stuff somehow simultaneously and coincidentally migrated to another continent to be laughable.
Occam’s razor, people: Among competing hypotheses, the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions should be selected; if there are multiple possible explanations for an event or result, the simplest is almost always correct.
- The simplest explanation is that Drangleic is Lordran.
Majula is the primary hub with the central bonfire. Many NPCs talk about how people are inexplicably “drawn” there, just like people are drawn to Firelink. There is a well in Majula. There is a well in Firelink. What’s directly below Firelink, and slightly offset? Blighttown. What’s directly below Majula and slightly offset? The Gutter. Are you going to tell me that The Shrine of Amana (music and all) isn’t suspiciously similar to Ash Lake? Pfft. They’re only leaving out the damned hydra. You find Havel the Rock’s armor and his weapon, The Dragon Tooth, in the game. Havel also appears later on as a black phantom. I know there’s more. I was noticing little things my entire first play-through, and I honestly should have taken better notes earlier on. I think it’s obvious though that Drangleic is Lordran, and that the land is cursed just as much as your character. The cycle will always repeat, for even if it’s stopped in one existence, it will persist in another. So here we are, at the end of Dark Souls 2, perpetuating the same cycle with what is essentially a non-choice. Here we sit, upon the Throne of Want, in the Kiln of the First Flame.
“You, who link the fire, you, who bear the curse… Once the fire is linked, souls will flourish anew, and all of this will play out again. It is your choice… To embrace, or renounce this… Great sovereign, take your throne. What lies ahead, only you can see.
Each king has his rightful throne, and when he sits upon it, he sees what he chooses to see. Or perhaps, it is the throne which shows the king only what he wants.”
Welcome back to Lordran. Welcome to Drangleic. Welcome to Dark Souls.
Addendum: Thank you to all the Lore contributors I credited above, and everyone else who has taken the time to post speculations and observations on my original post on reddit about DkS2 lore. Thank you for all the comments. You are why I did this. I have loved the DkS/DeS community since I got Demon’s Souls at launch, and digging deep into lore and speculation is one major facet to why these games are so extraordinary. And thank you for taking the time to read my post. I put an extraordinary amount of time and effort into doing this. I deeply appreciate you taking the time to examine the details.
Edit: Some comparison pictures from redditor SunlightMaggot —
Article originally published on 20 March 2014 at www.JCWigriff.com