Here we are again, this time taking a more detailed look at Dark Souls’ Age of Ancients. While last time we only really rehashed what was said and shown in the opening cinematic, this time we will be discussing lore and theories based off information found later in the game. With that said, let’s talk dragons, fire and souls.
“A land of grey crags, archtrees, and everlasting dragons.”
Even after completing Dark Souls and poring over all of its contents, you won’t find very much information about the Age of Ancients. But something that has been considered is that time itself worked differently or didn’t ‘exist’ at all during this Age. This is partially due to how the First Flame introduced so many different aspects of reality, including everything from hot and cold to life and death. Perhaps the ‘everlasting’ dragons were that way because time was not flowing at all. After all, the First Flame did bring LIFE and death, meaning the dragons may not have been alive to begin with.
Of course, this is all made even more confusing when we consider the fact that the dragons could be killed once their stone scales were stripped away. Does this mean they were only ‘everlasting’ because none of them had lost their scales before? Or does it mean they have everlasting life spans and will not die of old age? This seems to make the most sense but has never been confirmed as far as I’m aware. Either way Seath the Scaleless, being scaleless and vulnerable, uses the Primordial Crystal to maintain his immortality. It is unclear exactly where he got this from, but it is inferred that Seath’s lack of scales is what made him ultimately betray his own kind and turn the tide of the war.
This great war resulted in nearly every dragon being killed off. Nearly. There are a few dragons found throughout the game but only one we care about right now. In a location hidden behind not one, but two illusory walls within Blighttown, resides the only true remaining ancient dragon, the Stone Dragon. This massive creature serves several purposes including inducting the player into a covenant and providing a weapon, but possibly most importantly, gives us context on the area he’s located in. Surrounded by gray fog and towering trees, it becomes fairly clear that this place, Ash Lake, is the only remaining sliver of the Age of Ancients. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason for its continued existence either, which only asks more questions than it answers. Whatever it means, it’s clear we are not meant to know much about the time before fire.
“Then, from the Dark, They came, and found the Souls of Lords within the flame.”
Right at the start we are met with another peculiar situation: who are “They”? It is assumed that “They” are all one type of being such as human. The problem with this is that we learn later that Lord Gwyn feared the time after his Age of Fire, called the Age of Dark or Age of Man. This tells us that Gwyn and company are not the same as the humans they rule over. In a moment, I will go over who acquired the main four souls, but for now I’d like to draw attention to the Dark being the origin of “They”. We must remember that the advent of fire was what brought about the concepts of light and dark in the first place. Because of this, we can’t be sure if Gwyn, all the other lords and humankind existed before the fire or were created as opposites, much like everything else.
Thinking logically, it would make sense for the lords to be a separate race from the humans, acting as two sides of the same coin. The First Flame gave the world Heat, Light, Life and the Lords while also introducing Cold, Dark, Death and Man. Then again, this could have to do more with which soul each being secured when they became available. Lordran has skeletons because of Nito, demons because of the Witch of Izalith, Lords because of Gwyn and humans because of the pygmy.
In any case, it is unclear how long it had been from the time the Souls of Lords were found and the war with the dragons had started. We do see that the creatures in the Dark are unclothed and quite frail while everyone (bar Nito) is clothed and very healthy-looking during the war scenes. Compounding on this, armies of knights and covens of witches are not formed (or armed) overnight, so we can assume some time has passed. Unfortunately, the question I want to be answered most is left completely untouched. What was life like when society was forming under Lord Gwyn but the dragons were still around? Also, at what point did Nito’s skeletons become a threat to humans?
“Nito, the first of the dead…”
Our boney friend has a rather ambiguous title since it’s unclear if Nito was the first to die once the First Flame emerged or was simply granted the power over death when he got his Lord Soul. Either way, Nito played his role in the war against the dragons by spreading disease throughout his vulnerable enemies. The Lord of Death doesn’t seem to have been involved in the war beyond his miasma and doesn’t become relevant again until he begins ruling the Tomb of the Giants sometime later.
“...the Witch of Izalith, and her Daughters of Chaos…”
While Nito helped to end the dragons, the Witch of Izalith and her Daughters of Chaos used their mastery over Flame Sorcery to burn as many archtrees as they could manage. What destroying these trees accomplished is unclear, but I suppose if the dragons like them, they’ve got to go. An important fact to note is that the Witch uses Flame Sorcery and not Pyromancy. This is because Pyromancies were not created yet and were first seen some time after the art of Flame Sorcery was lost. In any case, the Witch and her Daughters hold their most importance after the Age of Ancients so we will have to get back to them in a future article.
“...Gwyn, the Lord of Sunlight, and his faithful knights…”
Gwyn is by far the most integral Lord that opposed the dragons. If it weren’t for his “mighty bolts”, the dragons would have kept their scales and easily quashed all their other enemies. Even though he will go on to do far grander and more impactful things, this entrance shows just how much he will change the world around him during his time. As the Lord of Sunlight, it makes sense that far, far later in the actual game his soul will be necessary to get Sunlight Bolt, the most powerful offensive miracle. But much like the others, the way you get his soul is rooted in events that take place in the Age of Fire. Beyond leading the armies against the dragons and providing a way to make them vulnerable in the first place, we are not told what else Gwyn might have done. Fear not, we will have plenty to say about this enigmatic Lord once he has kick started his Age of Fire.
“...and the furtive pygmy, so easily forgotten.”
Maybe everyone else has forgotten about the pygmy, but not I. Being considered the oldest ancestor of Mankind itself, the tiny pygmy and the equally measly-looking soul he found are possibly the most important entities shown in this entire Age. Simply put, this is because the soul the pygmy found that day is the Dark Soul. Although the other Lord Souls granted their bearers immense power, only the Dark Soul was mighty enough to do things such as create Humans from the Dark. It did this by replicating itself into what is known as Humanity and giving birth to Humanity Sprites in the Abyss. These Sprites can become more powerful by utilizing emotions and manifesting their own powers.
Eventually, the humans that were formed from all this were forced to fight the dragons as well, but none of this is in recorded history. The Dark Soul also has ties to the art of Lifedrain, an ability used by Darkwraiths to siphon Humanity from their targets. As for the pygmy himself, it is unclear what became of him or who he really was. Some speculate that Manus, the Primeval Man and Father of the Abyss, was actually the pygmy but others claim he was only one of the first humans ever created. No matter the truth, if it weren’t for the pygmy, the Chosen Undead, our character, would have never existed.
“...Seath the Scaleless betrayed his own…”
As a dragon born without any scales, Seath was also cursed with a few deformities that set him apart from his brethren. The two key differences is that he is completely blind and has a mass of tentacles instead of normal legs. During the Age of Ancients, Seath turns against the other dragons seemingly out of spite and jealousy of the scales that make them everlasting. It is thought that Seath told Gwyn how to destroy these scales and that is why he was able to turn the tide of the war. Seath’s actions during the war granted him several gifts from Gwyn during the Age of Fire, but we can discuss that in its respective article.
“...and the dragons were no more.”
With the combined efforts of those who found the Lord Souls and Seath, the everlasting dragons were decimated. If there was any sort of culture or recorded history, it was all destroyed with the dragons themselves. It becomes clear that these mighty beasts were actually capable of higher reasoning since Seath studies magic and the Stone Dragon manages to communicate with the Chosen Undead enough to form a covenant. This realization makes the annihilation of the everlasting dragons quite bittersweet as it means there’s a chance there was some sort of society among other things. This does not mean the dragons would have passed the chance to keep Gwyn and company under their control. My point is that much like Gwyn grew to fear humans and the Age they could bring, it’s likely the dragons feared Gwyn and the Age he brought about.
With that, we close out the Age of Ancients and will be moving onto the Age of Fire when we talk about the lore of Dark Souls next. This Age doesn’t give very many definite answers and requires a lot of digging to get any real meaning out of, but is still the beginning and should be told accordingly. If all this lore talk about seriousness that comes with it has become too much for you, maybe you’d enjoy checking out the often hilarious Otzdarva, another YouTuber with tons of Dark Souls content on his channel. Everything from PVP to an absolutely ridiculous challenge run, Otzdarva has made me laugh many times. As for what’s coming up next here on GameGrin, I will be discussing nearly everything anyone would want or need to know about combat in the next part of the Dark Souls Rundown.
Until then, Praise the Sun and Vereor Nox.