Part 6: - Undead Settlement Part 3
Lucatiel of Mirrah
Many, including myself, say that the NPCs of Dark Souls II were not as interesting as those of the first Dark Souls. In Dark Souls I you could almost say that each NPC represented a player archetype. The Crestfallen Warrior was one who reached a part too hard for them, and gave up. Siegmayer is the guy who moves on, but not without help. Solaire on the other hand is the one helping people, and even offers you help for multiple tough bosses while Kirk is all about the PvP who instead invades you at multiple points throughout the game.
But even those who could not easily be linked to the behaviour of real players had engaging storylines in their own right, like Logan or Petrus and his fellow clerics. Even those who merely served as merchants came alive, even if a lot of their arcs simply revolved around them going hollow once their stock was depleted. Others affect the world, like Lautrec, who kills an important NPC making your life much more difficult. It gave you the feeling that you were not the only one who mattered in the world, which is something that video games only rarely do.
It's difficult to deny that Dark Souls II's characters were different, but not really in a good way. Some of them had some form of progression, but overall the NPCs were more static. You found them, they moved to Majula, the hub, to hang out there with you forever. Only very few of them had anything interesting going for them once that happened. Lenigrast had one remark once you brought back his daughter and Maughlin become more and more obsessed with his mad profits. But none of them really had an effect on the world around them, or seemed to have any agency of their own. They merely existed, and showed up alongside your path on a few occasions.
Even the overall theme of the game got forgotten, which, in a way, is ironic. Because one of the central themes is the loss of one's memory and identity through the undead curse. Characters will remind you that they forgot something. Usually "Why am I even here? I don't know. Oh that's why! No, never mind." There is one NPC who really explores this theme, though. Lucatiel of Mirrah.
There are four locations she shows up in initially, you don't need to visit them in any particular order. Once you've met her four times she will appear at a final spot close to the end of the game. A much more forgiving way of handling side stories than the specific step-by-step instructions you need to wiki up for Dark Souls and, as we will no doubt find out, Dark Souls III.
What makes her more interesting than other Dark Souls II characters is that her character actually grows. Or declines, depending on how you look at it. Because every time you meet her she has more and more trouble remembering. Let's just read some of her Dialogue. The following is only a bit from the first encounter.
"Heh heh. You are an odd one. Normally, people keep a safe distance when they see this mask. But you… I am called Lucatiel. From the land of Mirrah, to the far east. across the mountains. They say Drangleic brims with powerful souls. And so I came to claim my share. But what a strange place… Even the rumours did not prepare me."
You can tell that she is still, as far as Dark Souls characters go, reasonably sane. During the second encounter she opens up a bit. Tells us about herself. How she was born into a kingdom of constant battle, how she became a warrior and was good at her job. But then she came to Drangleic, the world of Dark Souls II. She forgot why, but only for a moment, when her train of thought reminds her, possibly without her even noticing that she couldn't remember a moment ago.
"Have you heard of the Undead? These poor souls affected by the curse. An Undead gradually loses his humanity, until his wits degrade completely.
Finally, he turns Hollow, and preys upon others. And a Hollow can never be human again. One can skirt this wicked fate only with the help of the souls found here. Assuming, of course, that the legends are true. I can only hope…that they are."
At this point in the dialogue Lucatiel removes her mask, revealing a partially hollowed face. The next time we meet her she opens up yet more, but tells us she has more trouble than before to remember things. She is afraid to lose herself.
"I've found my thoughts growing hazy. My memories are fading, oldest first. The curse is doing its work upon me. I am frightened… Terribly so… If everything should fade…What will be left of me…"
Next she tells us about her brother and how he eclipsed her in almost every way. But one day he disappeared and Lucatiel is absolutely certain that he succumbed to the undead curse.
"If only someone would hear my tale… My brother must have come here, too. Soon, I may forget even about him…"
It becomes apparent that she tells us about herself in an effort to be remembered. We can tell that she is seriously depressed. Of course, we are all totally hilarious and absolutely well-adjusted goons who make fun of people for the most idiotic reasons, especially if video game characters get consumed by a fear that consumes them emotionally and they philosophize about it as a result. But who can blame her? She gradually loses her mind and her past, but she remains sane enough to notice it. Meanwhile, her flesh rots off her body and she is conscious to feel it as the curse gradually consumes her. It only grows worse until the next time we meet her.
"Loss frightens me no end. Loss of memory, loss of self. If I were told that by killing you, I would be freed of this curse… Then I would draw my sword without hesitation. I don't want to die, I want to exist. I would sacrifice anything, anything at all for this. It shames me, but it is the truth."
She continues the thought on her MySpace
"Sometimes, I feel obsessed… with this insignificant thing called "self".
But even so, I am compelled to preserve it. Am I wrong to feel so? Surely you'd do the same, in my shoes?
Maybe we're all cursed… From the moment we're born…"
I made light of it. But only because I wish I could say "it's just a phase, she'll grow out of it". Our next encounter is the final time we meet Lucatiel.
"Who are you… Oh… No, forgive me… I know you… Yes, of course.
How goes your journey? I know not what you seek in this far-away land… But I pray for your safety.
My name is Lucatiel. I beg of you, remember my name. For I may not myself…"
This is the last thing she says. Unless you kill her in which case she'll go: "My dear brother..."
Shortly after this final meeting her brother actually appears in front of us as an invader. Lucatiel was incredibly close to finding him, possibly to be invaded and killed by him herself. But even though, this is our last meeting with Lucatiel, the story gets a small continuation in Dark Souls III. Because we learn what probably happened to her.
The curse-rotted Greatwood is a tree located in the undead settlement. The inhabitants of the settlement used to feed their accursed to the greatwood. This, eventually, turned it into what we fight as a boss. One of the weapons we can make from the Soul is Lucatiels sword. Not only that, we can find the Mirrah Armor very close by. It's at the base of the tower we drop down to at the end of this video. However, the mask is not found here. To acquire it a vertebra shackle has to be traded with the crow in Firelink shrine. It has the most telling bit of lore
"Mask attached to a ceremonial hat.
A Hollow once fought valiantly with this mask, but feared the fading of her self, and implored a comrade remember her name. Perhaps that is why this gentleman's mask is named after a woman."
I'm not sure why it's called "This gentleman's mask" Maybe someone inherited it from her. Perhaps the player character of Dark Souls II? It is very likely, though, that Lucatiel's soul has been fed to the greatwood, because we can make the Hollowslayer Greatsword from the Greatwood's soul. It makes sense that the Soul of something that was essentially a dump for curses helps us create items the belonged to the accursed. Since undead, including hollows, are notoriously hard to kill for good she may have survived for a long time after Dark Souls II, even if she ended up inside the curse-rotted greatwood ages before Dark Souls III. The timeline is not clear at all anyway. And that is very intentional.
But with all that said, Lucatiel is one of the few NPCs in Dark Souls II that are actually interesting. Even though she lacks some of the elements that made the characters in the first game so engaging, she helps us get a glimpse into the head of someone as they go hollow. The process of gradually turning is something that has been missing from the first game. It's a step we've always just skipped. For that she is unique because for her I probably would not even have considered that aspect of hollowing. So, for that, let's remember her name.