This post goes hand in hand with a video I made to illustrate the imagery I’m discussing. If at the time of your reading there is not a link to the video HERE, please check back again in 24 hours!
“Yes indeed, as they say, pilgrimage. The fire fades…”
The scene opens and we hear a voice very reminiscent to the Witches who lived in Things Betwixt in Dark souls 2. This could be merely a production choice to hire back the same voice actor, but it could also indicate a return to Things Betwixt, with another character who has yet again been lured by the curse to another land of prophecy.
(It stands to note that during the series we’ve been forcibly led to events, that for all intents and purposes, have been “out of our hands” by a form of prophecy or curse leading us to assist in fate of the flame. It’s beginning to seem almost as if the flame has an agenda of it’s own and instills a “need to serve” in those around it. Almost like a hivemind of sorts.)
This idea is strengthened by the familiar words we now hear from from the Witch again: “Yes indeed, As they say; Pilgrimage. The fire Fades…”
Again we’re taking part in a pilgrimage in regards the state of the flame.
Next we see an image of a castle kingdom. It’s similar to places we’ve already seen such as, Anor londo, Drangleic Castle, Heides Tower of Flame, and Eleum Loyce. Which doesn’t tell us too much. Only that architecturally the kingdoms are influenced by one another.
Then we see a Dragon toppled across the ramparts of the castle. It appears some sort of ash is rising from the dragon and being carried off by the winds. The state of the dragon is noteworthy on the basis that it is most clearly not similar to a resting place we’ve seen for other Sleeping Dragons in the Souls games. This appears to be more of a forced collapse leading me to conclude that this dragon is dead. As spoken by Dark Souls “The age of Dragons had ended.” However, in places such as Ash lake, and Shulva we are made aware that not All dragons have resigned to death. As we wake Sihn and he turned out to be very much alive.
We now transition to a shot of what looks to be the aftermath of a battle, in a courtyard, or a shrine. Or perhaps a fountain. The battle is seemingly fresh considering the fire still burning in two separate areas. Although the setting does look ideal for where we typically expect to see a bonfire, I don’t suspect this to be the point FromSoftware was going for in showing us this scene.
Instead I believe we are supposed to understand the context of the banners strung around, as well as the fallen knights on battlefield.
I believe the fallen to be Baldur Knights. If you look closely you can observe The iconic Tuscan Red capes of those we’ve seen in the undead Parish.
What we know about the Kingdom of Baldur is that it was ruled by Knight King Rendal who attempted to make his way to Anor Lando through Sen’s Fortress, and Somewhere along the way, failed, Likely due to the Iron Golem whose soul was forged with that of an everlasting Dragon.
We also know that the kingdom of Baldur was reduced to ruin after the widespread outbreak of the undead.
It’s also worth mentioning the sword we see in the foreground is very similar to that of the Baldur Side Sword.
Now the Statue is interesting in context as well. It appears to be a woman kneeling and gazing lovingly at a large sword. It’s my opinion that this place is meant to be a memorial to the Knight king Rendal. Who having not returned from his expedition to lead his people to Anor Lando, was assumed to be dead. Being the “Knight” King, his sword is a token of his honor. Thus leading me to conclude that this area was the last standing stronghold of Baldur. A memorial, to the Knight King, held to the very last moment by his Army in his memory.
This image is followed by a quick shot of undead dressed in poor clothing giving worship and prayers to what looks to be petrified hollows reaching for a woman.
We then see a Masked Jailor wearing a strange forlorn face, with clergy like robes and headdress. He’s marching past open cells, holding a red Hot branding iron. With the symbol of what looks to me like the upside down sigil of a tree held by the Baldur. We can assume from this that the Kingdom did things much in the same way as Lordran. They locked away those who bore the sign of the undead, Branding them with the Iron in order to display their need for confinement.
However when we see the inside of the cell for a brief second we don’t see a hollow, rather a human monstrosity, of some kind. It brings me back to the experiments of Aldia Keep in Dark Souls II. A place where King Vendrick’s Brother did horrendous things in a search for immortality. Also eventually using the Soul of a Giant to forge a visage of the The Ancient Dragons. Similarly to Seath the Scaleless in Dark Souls One who performed experiments on maidens for much the same reason as Aldia.
As we continue there is a shot of Soon to be Hollowed Priests, wearing the Tuscan Red Robes of the Baldur Kingdom marching through the streets holding their staves. In the back we can notice another man wearing an ornate headpiece. It appears he’s sitting in a chair being carried by men on either side. This type of reverence for their leader shows that these men are not yet Hollowed.
We then see a man walking purposefully through a Cathedral bearing a torch. The room is warmed by the light of candles and presents a fairly well maintained appearance. However there is a slight disruption in the alter of which the man approaches. Again the theme of Baldur colors can be seen burning in the candelabras, and banners decorating the Walls.
Next a very important moment occurs. We see a Knight of some kind, creating a bonfire. Not simply lighting or kindling the flame as we’ve seen before. We see him raising the iconic weapon we customarily see in the bonfire flames, far above his head, then plunging it deep into the burning embers. The fire then erupts from beneath the blade as the knight kneels in typical fashion to gain the benefits of the flame.
This is the first time we’ve seen the creation of the bonfires. Up until this point it was thought that the firekeepers were alone responsible for the creation and we see here that this is no longer the case.
Afterwards we see glimpses of gameplay. The elements of gameplay confirm our theories we formed during the cinematics.
First we see two large, albeit, agile skeletons attacking in tandem. This is followed by a Knight wielding nearly identical shield, armor, and sword of the Baldur Knights. He even attacks in the 1-2-3 hit combo culminating in a forward thrust, as the Baldur Knights do. This is important because not all straight swords are used as thrust weapons. The Baldur however, wield Both a side sword, and a rapier whose thrusting attack is their main advantage. It’s hard to dispute this as evidence that the Baldur are back.
Moving forward we see a Man walking through a waterlogged passage of some kind. He is greeted by an enormous skull wearing a sort of crown. This skull isn’t comparable in size to any human type creature we’ve encountered in Dark Souls thus far. There is also a chain reaching from the back of the skull down to the floor which indicates this creature has been imprisoned in the place we’re now seeing. A rough silhouette of the body can be seen if you look closely, but it’s not a body in the typical sense. It more closely resembles a perfect circle, or bulbous shape, not unlike what we would have seen from the silhouette of the creatures in the cells noted previously in the video.
After which we are brought to a battle with a Soldier of some kind wielding a Halberd and wearing chainmail. Interesting to note that the ONLY location for the Halberd in Dark souls One is off of a corpse in the undead parish. Which just so happens to be surrounded by Baldur Knights.
We then see a quick shot of a pack of hollows wearing simple robes being cut down by a sweeping attack. This is followed by a transition to a scene underground where yet again we see the silhouette of a gigantic humanoid covered in chains. The creature pounds his fists and the scene quickly changes to another, less human beast.
This new beast wears armor and attacks on all fours like an animal. But wields a weapon in much of the same way you’d expect a humanoid. This further lends to the idea of experiments gone wrong creating uncontrollable monsters. The armor and weapon perhaps signify that the monsters were presented as a possible line of defense against the undead, but they too were prone to their own kind of hollowing, thus resulting in those we see locked away in cells, and beneath the ground.
Now in one of the final sequences we see a giant of some kind. Very quick on their feet, moving and acting unlike any giant we’ve seen previously. There seems to be a sort of ghost like quality coming from the giants cloak. If my eyes ring true than he is also wearing something very akin to a crown. In his final attack he grabs his opponent and spears him to the ground with a flaming sword which continues to emanate flame as the scene transitions.
The final scene is a short glimpse of the Ramparts dragon yet again. The sun shines in the distance and the dragon wakes up. Breathing a stream of fire and sweeping it across the walkway. Laying waste to an armored knight and concluding our cameras view.
So what does this all mean? What can we honestly make of all this? Well to me this is where I stand.
Since the discovery of the Lord Souls and of course the Dark Soul, we’ve had a dependent relationship on the flame. With the fire came the undead, and when the flame was beginning to dim the witches of Izalith attempted to replicate the flame in order to continue the age of fire. This backfired, and turned the Witch and her family into beasts of Chaos.
Since then the chaos continued to spread, as did the abyss. In the times of Eleum Loyce, a King did battle with both the darkness of the abyss and the Fires of Chaos. Both of which were contained for the time being, but never quite eliminated. In defeating Manus, father of the Abyss, we succeeded in fracturing him into several pieces. We’ve found these pieces inhabiting the souls of all the queens in the kingdoms.
It appears now that once again the fires are beginning to fade, and a new prophecy will set us on the path of reforging the majesty of the flame. Perhaps even slowing or stopping for good the spread of the Abyss, and the Demons of Chaos.
All of the Religious imagery leads me to believe we might be looking for a new way to continue the age of fire. Not just kindling the flame with that of humanity, but perhaps bargaining with deities. Through the means of Clerics. Perhaps we will see Lindelt? Or restore to power Gwyns firstborn to the God of War. It remains to be seen, but from what I can tell, this will be a story of Souls like no other before it.