Part 44: - Ringed City Streets
Now that we're entering the Ringed City proper we're about to face some of the tougher challenges the game has to offer.
You might have noticed that I stay more quiet about the lore than usual. While we do get a couple neat tidbits of information it's putting it into context that makes it interesting. And if below wall of text is any indication it'd make the videos even longer if I covered it inside them. Fair warning: The below does, aside from facts, feature speculation and interpretation. It also delibarately leaves stuff out that would spoil things that are yet to happen.
Also: Here's the Bonus LP Episode that should have gone along with last week's update.
Episode R: Plinky and Plonky
Covers everything up to the Demon Prince. Once again featuring shibbo and Skippy.
The Ringed City, The Darksign and the Firelink Curse
Seeing as this LP is about to and this is probably the last chance for a big lore dump. So it's about high time we talk about the Darksign, among other things. And there's no better place to do that than the Ringed City, which is both symbolic for the Darksign itself. Where the Darksign is a ring of fire that contains the dark, the ringed city seems to be in its own bubble as well. In the Kiln as well as from the Dreg Heap we could see the Darksign sun accompanied by the orange sky. Down below in the ringed city we there is no eclipse. Just the regular yellow sky we've throughout most of the game before the eclipse. Could also be that we somehow traveled to the past... or future. But it's more likely that we are in a place completely isolated from the rest of the world.
Description of the Small Envoy Banner
"The small banner used by envoys of Great Lord Gwyn in the days of yore.
Face the ringed cliff and hold the banner high to summon facilitators of transport.
For the pygmies, who took the dark soul, the Great Lord gifted the Ringed City, an isolated place at world's end, and his beloved youngest daughter, promising her that he would come for her when the day came."
This is the first time this youngest daughter of Gwyn is mentioned. We are told to find the Dark Souls we need to find Filianore. Filianore meaning Daughter of the Sun. "Filia" is latin for daughter, "Anor" as in Anor Londo means Sun in elvish. Another interpretation would be that it means "Friend to the Dark" as "Philia" is greek and can be translated as brotherly love while "Noir" means black in french. Perhaps it is supposed to evoke both. After all she is the daughter of Gwyn, Lord of Sunlight, and resides in a city that is home to the pygmys, beings of Dark.
Filianore, together with the Ringed City, was given to the Pygmies, primeval humans, as a gift by Gwyn. While it stands to reason that Gwyn gifted the city, presumably as thanks for their unsung contributions in the war against the dragons there's that lack of credit the humans got for their efforts that makes me believe it was not as simple as that. He likely placed his daughter in this city of humans to spread his cult of the way of white. He did his best to make sure humanity and with it the dark could never truly prosper. Humans helped Gwyn fight the dragons but no one remembers this fact. Now that line from the intro of Dark Souls about that furtive Pygmy, "so easily forgotten" makes more sense. It's forgotten because the Pygmies have never properly entered history and we only know about them from the first game's intro.
From the Description of the Ringed Knight Armor, Spear and Straight Sword:
"Black armor/spear/sword worn/wielded by the Ringed Knights.
The armor/arms of early men were forged in the Abyss, and betray a smidgen of life.
For this reason the gods cast a seal of fire upon these spears, and those who possessed them."
The info about the pygmies/humans being involved in the war about the dragons comes from the Ringed Knights' shields, which we havent found yet, but we've seen them.
From the Description of the Dragonhead Shield and Greatshield
"This shield, as hard as a great boulder, is formed by the head of the descendant of an Archdragon.
The Ringed Knights, by command of the gods, stood amongst the ranks who set out to slay the dragons, but their contributions were never lauded."
While the fact that the Darksign is not natural has been assumed to be true previously, it's now confirmed. And the human's role in the war against the dragons is quite a revelation, every source so far never made mention of them playing a part only divine beings (and a traitor dragon) were ever mentioned. But why were they denied to be a part of recorded history? The only other person we know has been erased from history was Gwyn's first born son and his sin was allying himself with the dragons.
There is no evidence that the humans sided with the dragons as well. The above description very much makes clear that the opposite is true. They fought under orders of the gods but they simply weren't credited. It's probably as simple as the humans being beings of Dark. It's a known fact that Gwyn feared the Dark. So much in fact, that he was content using himself as fuel for the first flame to prevent the inevitable age of Dark from ever happening.
As for why he feared the Dark? We can't say for sure. Could just be that he wanted his legacy to live on somehow, as a being in possession of a Lord Soul, which affiliates him with Light. Compared to what happened in Oolacile during Gwyn's Age of Fire the Ringed City, a city of humans and the Dark, doesn't have anything nearly as bad as the Chasm of the Abyss. So it's not clear if what happened in Oolacile is the nature of Dark or if the Abyss is just a less friendly variant of it that came to be due to the use of the Darsign, which is a literal ring of fire around the dark, to keep it in check. This goes as far as that the linking of the bonfires could be viewed as lighting up a giant, more spiritual, darksign to stop the Age of Dark from happening. There's also the fact that by the time of the Artorias of the Abyss DLC the Ringed City and by extension the Darksign have probably already existed. At the very least it's set after the war against the dragons.
The perpetual linking ofthe flame is also very much unnatural. At least if Kaathe is to be believed (by the way, Kaathe is confirmed dead. The original japanese script has Yuria lament that she could not fulfill Kathe's dying wish as she herself dies)
"Lord Gwyn trembled at the Dark.
Clinging to his Age of Fire, and in dire fear of humans,
and the Dark Lord who would one day be born amongst them,
Lord Gwyn resisted the course of nature.
By sacrificing himself to link the fire, and commanding his children to shepherd the humans,
Gwyn has blurred your past, to prevent the birth of the Dark Lord."
If you believe that Kaathe is too biased there's also Aldia from Dark Souls II
"Once, the Lord of Light banished Dark, and all that stemmed from humanity.
And men assumed a fleeting form.
These are the roots of our world.
Men are props on the stage of life, and no matter how tender, how exquisite...
A lie will remain a lie.
Young Hollow, knowing this, do you still desire peace?"
And Vendrick has the following to say:
"Drangleic will fall, The fire will fade, and the souls of old will reemerge.
With Dark unshackled, a curse will be upon us
And men will take their true shape..."
"Fire came to be and with it disparity.
Heat and cold, life and death, light and dark.
Dark was seen as a curse.
Shadow is not cast but born of fire.
And the brighter the flame, the deeper the shadow.
Inherit fire and harness the dark.
Such is the calling of a true leader."
"One day fire will fade and dark will become a curse.
Men will be free from death; left to wander eternally.
Dark will again be ours and in our true shape
We can bury the false legends of yore.
only is this our only choice?
Seek strength. The rest will follow."
The brothers Aldia and Vendrick clearly reached different conclusions as to what the nature of the undead curse is and how to deal with it.
Vendrick, despite being human, appears to follow the reasoning Gwyn could have possibly had. With the flame which holds the Age of Dark back fading, so does the darksign that seals away the dark within man, turning them undead. The are incapable of dying properly. But is this really the natural state of things? After all humans return to a bonfire, representing the first flame if they fall. Not just that, it's also possible to interfere with that link that humans have to the bonfire. It's what Seath did when he forced us to awaken at a bonfire in a prison cell.
Aldia's take seems to be that humans only assumed a "fleeting form" because of the Dark and the Undead Curse, which is called the Firelink Curse by Lothric. Aldia believes that mankind can only achieve it's true form by overcoming the undead curse. Breaking the curse as a whole seems to be impossible but the player character in Dark Souls II has the ability to negate its effects using the power of the crowns. Ultimately the Scholar of the First Sin Ending of Dark Souls II sees the player just walking away to lead an existence as one outside of the firelink cycle. Though, calling it a cycle might be a bit of a misnomer as Dark Souls III implies it's more of a downward spiral with the flame growing weaker and weaker, despite being continously rekindled.
At this point it's a common theory that Gwyn linked the fire to humanity, which could be the First Sin of which Aldia is a scholar (Alternatively the relighting of the First Flame itself could be that First Sin). Considering the above that checks out. Not only did Gwyn refuse to accept an age of Dark but he also instated a faith, in the way of white, to force humans to continue linking the fire and providing their humanity as fuel for the first flame. Gwyn seemed to value perpetuating the age of fire over his own life. But was it a noble sacrifice for the greater good? Or as Kaathe put it, simply resisting the course of nature? Aldia seems to feel the same way.
Some questions, though, will most likely never be answered for sure. And I'm one of the people who find it more fun to ponder them. It's best to keep in mind that Hidetaka Miyazaki created the lore with his own experience reading english language fantasy novels in mind. While he does have some grasp of english he could very often not understand certain passages and found that he had a lot of fun filling in the blanks with his own, probably better, ideas. So before you complain about not getting concrete answers, consider that the shit you can smoke up has the potential to be so much cooler. Plus you can insert insignificant characters like Lloyd and Velka all you want and give them value. You can also isnist that the Dune Worm in Smoldering Lake is actually Solaire or something. I dunno, some people believe that.