Dark Souls - Age of Fire (Spoilers)
Today we will take on the colossal task of covering the nearly countless events that take place during Dark Souls’ Age of Fire. After rereading my article covering the Age of Ancients, I want to make it clear that it won’t be possible for me to cover every single aspect that I’d like to and I am prone to forget lesser known things here or there. Since this Age is so much more fleshed out than the previous one, the format of this piece will be slightly different. First up, the main happenings of our enigmatic Lords after the war with the dragons.
“...followers of the occult once attempted to steal the power of Gravelord Nito, the first of the dead.”
Who better to start with than the first of the dead himself? Sometime after his role alongside Gwyn against the everlasting dragons, Nito became the leader of the Gravelord Servants covenant. Bestowing a mighty sword and miracle upon the player if they become a member, Nito only asks that you make use of the Eyes of Death in order to spread more death in his name. Beyond his role as a covenant leader, Nito simply slumbers deep underground amongst the dead.
The only other real event of note is that a being known as Pinwheel was successful in stealing the Rite of Kindling from Nito at some point. It is unclear when or why Pinwheel did this, but when the player encounters the tri-masked, cloaked figure, it seems it is trying to perform some sort of research with a table covered in books. Seemingly annoyed at the player for interrupting whatever it was working on, Pinwheel immediately attacks and serves as the boss of the Catacombs leading into the Tomb of the Giants, or where Nito resides. Good to see Nito is fairly well off, unfortunate that not all the Lords ended up that way.
“My mother, the Witch of Izalith, was one of the primeval Lords…”
Either during or following the Age of Ancients, the Witch of Izalith had several children who also practiced Flame Sorcery. While all of her daughters (of which there are several) seemed to be born without trouble, her only son was not as fortunate. Covered in deformities and sores since birth, the being now known as Ceaseless Discharge is a towering beast, with a permanent look of pain on his face and lava always flowing from his sores. While it is never told why her sole son came into existence this way, we are told why her home became overrun with Demons and rename Lost Izalith.
With the dragons defeated and the Age of Fire proving to be prosperous for the primeval Lords and their kin, it is easy to see why most panicked when the First Flame began to fade. Although Nito seemed to be indifferent to the matter, the Witch of Izalith came up with a plan to extend the current Age. Choosing to use the soul she found all that time ago and some powerful magic, the Witch of Izalith attempted to create a duplicate First Flame. Even though she was technically successful, the Flame she created was actually the Chaos Flame. This Flame only seeked to consume whatever it could and spread its namesake as much as possible.
The Witch, several of her daughters and many other inhabitants of Izalith were either killed or transformed by the Flame.While death may sound like the ultimate punishment, this pales in comparison to the fates of those altered by this new force. Some became grotesque beasts while others maintained a few of their human features alongside the new demonic appearance. But the worst fate of all would be that of the Witch herself, as she merged with the Chaos Flame and formed the Bed of Chaos. This new monstrosity became the mother of all demons deep within the now ruined Izalith.
Many fled their homeland but only Quelana, a daughter of the Witch, is accounted for without any clear mutations. Quelana is actually the mother of Pyromancy as she was the first to harness Flame Sorcery without any form of catalyst, instead using the power of her soul. It is unclear exactly when she began this art, but we know that there have been many, many masters, students and variations on the forms the fire would take when cast. Either way, if the player can find her, she will eventually task the Chosen Undead with mercy killing her brother, sisters and mother. Fortunately for the player, the half woman, half spider Chaos Witch Quelaag is only a short walk from where Quelana sits. Unfortunately for the player, she is not ready to die just yet as she has a responsibility to her sister to ease her pain.
Quelaag’s sister, otherwise known as the Fair Lady, was unlucky enough to undergo the same spiderification as her much healthier sister. After leaving Izalith, the Fair Lady saw the pain and suffering of her servants due to a parasitic disease. In an attempt to ease their burden, she took the blight into herself, leaving her permanently blind and sick. Consuming Humanity eases her pain so Quelaag and a covenant by the name of the Chaos Servants gather as much of the stuff as they can. While being the head of the Chaos Servants, the Fair Lady also became a Fire Keeper and even offers up some unique Pyromancies for serving her.
But what of the other Daughters of Chaos? Several simply died while others were fully transformed into demons and others still try to protect what they know. For instance, Ceaseless Discharge watches over the corpse of one of his sisters and also serves as the gatekeeper to the majority of the Demon Ruins as the lava coming from his body makes most of it impassable. The demons themselves, while not children of the Witch but of the Bed of Chaos, actually have a form of society that recognizes ranks and even has members that can perform magic. This makes the fact that they look like mindless monsters that much more unsettling. Of course, this didn’t stop Gwyn from attempting to purge Lordran from their demonic presence.
“The knights followed Lord Gwyn when he departed to link the flame…”
Before attempting to rekindle the First Flame himself, Gwyn took a number of his Silver Knights to destroy the newly created chaos demons. This ended poorly for the Lord and his Knights as he was pushed back and his Knights charred black from head to toe. Now known as his Black Knights, this would be the group he took with him when he eventually faced the First Flame himself. But with so many children, subjects and responsibilities to account for, Lord Gwyn had to ensure his legacy would live on even if he could not be present to see it. To this end, he bequeathed portions of his great soul to a few individuals including Seath the Scaleless and the four lords of New Londo. It is also theorized he may have gifted small portions to his four closest knights.
Although Gwyn’s firstborn had an entire covenant serving in his name in the form of the Warriors of Sunlight, he had still betrayed his father’s trust and was struck from the annals of history. This made it slightly difficult to assign an heir to rule Anor Londo in Gwyn’s absence, but it seems Gwynevere, daughter of Gwyn, was chosen at some point. Leader of the Princess’s Guard covenant and keeper of the Lordvessel, Gwynevere lounges within her chamber behind a pair of fearsome knights.
As the player may end up learning however, Gwynevere has actually long since left Anor Londo by the time the Chosen Undead shows up. What is left is simply an illusion puppeteered by Gwyn’s youngest son, Dark Sun Gwyndolin. Born with an affinity for the moon, Gwyndolin was raised as a daughter and is the only God remaining in Anor Londo once the player arrives. It is thanks to Gwyndolin that Anor Londo knows constant sunshine, for the illusion he projects hides the fact that even the city of the Gods is consumed by endless twilight. Gwyndolin also serves as the leader of the Blade of the Darkmoon covenant, a group of knights that hunt down sinners.
The illusion of the sun isn’t the only secret found within Anor Londo. There is also a massive painting behind a small army of guardians that is actually an entire world. With the right item in their possession, the player may enter the Painted World of Ariamis and discover the many artifacts banished there. On the opposite end of this miniature world waits Crossbreed Priscilla. This gorgeous and rather fluffy being wields a power called Life-Hunt that may be the reason it’s said that even Gods fear her. Even so, she isn’t initially hostile and will even allow the player to leave willingly without any kind of conflict. It is unclear what purpose the painting serves beyond exiling unwanted or dangerous things and people, but it is definitely worth noting.
As stated before, the player must have a particular item to enter the painting in the first place. This item is a Peculiar Doll found within the Undead Asylum the player awakens in at the start of their journey. While not available at the start, the Doll and many other things will be up for grabs on a return visit. There may not be a lot of lore found within this prison’s walls, but it is interesting that a demon is used to keep the Undead imprisoned. It is assumed that Gwyn was the one to set up this Asylum, but it could have also been a group like the Way of White, a covenant in service to Lord Gwyn himself. With their goal of aiding the Gods and the Age of Fire by battling the Undead and kindling bonfires, it is hard not to think of the sacrifice Gwyn chose to make.
One must ask, how did Gwyn hope to extend his Age after giving up so much of his soul? But this only goes to show how powerful Gwyn and his soul truly were as by using himself as kindling, he was able to keep the First Flame burning far longer than it was meant to. This process did have side effects however, including turning Gwyn hollow and burning away many of his Black Knights, leaving them as shadows that haunt Lordran to this day. Once he had extended the Age of Fire, Lord Gwyn was given the title Lord of Cinder. With the First Flame fading once again, the Chosen Undead must choose what role they will play once they have freed Gwyn from his self-induced servitude to the Flame.
“Let me guess. Fate of the Undead, right? Well, you're not the first.”
While most of the game is about what the player chooses to do and the trek they make to their final decision, there are many, many more stories to be told. From Havel, the imprisoned Bishop of the Way of White to the various tales of Oolacile and the Abyss that consumed it, I could spend thousands of more words telling of these events. Instead, I’m going to attempt to quickly cover as many smaller events as I possibly can before we close this out and move on to the final two lore-based articles to come.
We’ll start, fittingly, in the Undead Asylum. The knight that helps the player in the beginning is known as Oscar, Knight of Astora and it is pretty clear that he met the Asylum Demon up on the roof shortly after dropping the corpse into the player’s cell. The Demon can actually be seen above on the roof when initially opening the doors after the first bonfire. After dealing with the Asylum, the Chosen Undead is picked up by a giant crow that is never really explained. Some claim this bird has ties to Velka, a very mysterious Goddess that seems to live in shadow and intrigue. While there are many mentions of Velka, it is difficult to nail anything down about her and so I think it’s best we move on.
Upon reaching Lordran, most players will meet the various inhabitants of Firelink Shrine. One is a Crestfallen Warrior who may have failed in his attempt to fulfill the Fate of the Undead, one is a cleric of the Way of White named Petrus who is not as benevolent as he claims to be and there’s the silent Firekeeper, Anastacia. Firekeepers are (seemingly always) maidens who are linked to bonfires in order to keep them lit. Their fires are naturally stronger than the others and they can even strengthen the power of an Undead’s Estus if given the Soul of a Firekeeper. Besides Anastacia, the Fair Lady of Blighttown and the Darkmoon Knightess of Anor Londo also serve as Firekeepers with their own fires to tend.
While there are the Firekeepers and the Way of White to keep the bonfires lit and healthy, there is also a group working to snuff them all out to usher in an the Age of Dark. The Darkwraiths are yet another covenant with their own goals and unique equipment. Unlike the other covenants with ties to Gods or righteous beings, the Darkwraiths only follow Darkstalker Kaathe and the Abyss. Kaathe is one of two primordial serpents that can appear throughout the game. Hoping to see the Undead Dark Lord take his ‘rightful place’ in the world and usher in an Age of Dark, Kaathe helps to spread the Abyss by misleading people and granting the power of Lifedrain to those who seek to use it.
It is because of Kaathe that New Londo fell to ruins under the Four Kings that were once granted a portion of Gwyn’s soul. Once he tempted them with Lifedrain, it was only a matter of time before they tore everything down. At some point, four sealers attempted to stem the spread of the Abyss by flooding New Londo, but now only Ingward remains to watch over the New Londo Ruins. As a polar opposite to Kaathe, Kingseeker Frampt is the other primordial serpent the player will meet. As a close friend to Gwyn, Frampt searches for the one who will link the First Flame like Gwyn did and further extend the Age of Fire. Frampt tries to keep the Chosen Undead on this path and is one of the only sources of information when it comes to what to do next.
If you’re anything like me however, you will want to explore and find any secrets you can. It will take such curiosity to come across items like the Wolf Ring, a ring that once belonged to the mighty Artorias the Abysswalker. As one of Gwyn’s four elite knights, Artorias made it his mission to eliminate as much of the Abyss as possible. It is said that he even defeated Manus, Father of the Abyss, but rumors tell a different tale that includes an Undead that usurped this task after defeating a corrupted Artorias within Oolacile. Also, you can’t talk about Artorias without mentioning his companion, Sif.
Better known as the Great Grey Wolf, Sif followed Artorias into the Abyss but was not strong enough to make the whole journey. Eventually being able to wield Artorias’ Greatsword, Sif protects the grave of his master years and years after his death. But Sif wasn’t the only one mourning Artorias’ passing. Lord’s Blade Ciaran, another of Gwyn’s elite knights, was very close to the Abysswalker and even has her own ring that depicts her role in Gwyn’s service. The remaining two elite knights are Hawkeye Gough, the giant archer and Dragon Slayer Ornstein, who now protects Anor Londo alongside Executioner Smough.
While I would like to cover much, much more about it, I will have to leave the story of Oolacile and the abyss here as it is too convoluted to explain in short terms. What is important is that Oolacile used to be where Darkroot Garden is now. This is not only where SIf resides but also where the Forest Hunters covenant is housed. With the intent to protect the Darkroot Forest, these hunters attack anyone who dares trespass in their territory. Within the Darkroot Basin roam a handful of Crystal Golems, likely placed here by Seath for one reason or another. Although Darkroot is rather far from the Duke’s Archives where Seath spends all his time.
For his actions during the Age of the Ancients, Gwyn made Seath a duke and gave him the Archives as a gift. Seath went mad during a search for immortality and eventually ended up deep inside a Crystal Cave. This doesn’t make mention of all the captives he has or the fact that he uses Man Serpents from Sen’s Fortress as prison guards. Either way, most importantly about the Duke’s Archives is that you can find Big Hat Logan here much later in his quest for knowledge after he too, has gone insane. Again, I have to skip over Seath’s Channelers and their purpose but know that there are still many more secrets within the Archives.
Much like the Archives themselves, the numerous items found within Dark Souls all hold their own stories and clues to bigger mysteries. If it wouldn’t take literally days to write, I would attempt to make a comprehensive list of all the lives of the various characters from Lordran. Since that’s not possible, I will leave this here. There are still many more details to uncover and link. Stories of headstrong paladins, treacherous rogues, righteous clergymen, amazingly-chested blacksmiths, onion-headed knights and incandescent cooperators. Simply put, any player will still find more to learn about when they play through Dark Souls because the lore is just that deep.
As I’ve done for every other article, I’d like to draw your attention to another YouTuber. Today it’s Indeimaus, an extremely sarcastic, ironic and hilarious creator that has made videos covering everything from the top 10 enemies to the top 10 stones found in Dark Souls. Seriously, check this guy out, he’s great. Next we’ll be talking about the available starting gifts and classes to determine which will fit your playstyle best.
Until then, Praise the Sun and Vereor Nox.