Heide embodies perhaps the most frustrating aspect of FromSoftware’s approach to Dark Souls II. (DS2) We are provided very little to work with even compared to similarly ancient events in the original Dark Souls. (DS1) As a result, reconstructing the overall picture of these ancient civilizations relies more heavily on inference than ever before, though we can arguably backfill the context provided in Dark Souls III (DS3) to supplement for these deficiencies. Lacking historicity may very well be the point, as the game’s overarching narrative seems to push back against attempts to understand the past in order to highlight its sense of nihilistic dread. Our efforts to connect the dots on what the world has long since forgotten is futile in the same way the struggle to continue existing is futile. And yet, appearances alone prove Heide to be an important clue to the setting. This requires answers to some of its most fundamental questions, and so we can only hope that the developers intend for us to defy their implicit mockery of fans seeking greater insight in the same way that they expect us to persevere through despair.
Old But New
According to the description for the Heide set, it is uncertain whether the name actually denotes a country, perhaps because heide refers to a heathland in German. Indeed, the entire area hasn’t been cultivated as far as we can observe, so the actual region may have once been a moor. However, for the sake of simplicity, I will refer to the civilization itself as Heide. Whatever its true name was, this ruined nation must be exceptionally old considering that even its name is debatable simply due to its age. Most lost countries in DS2 still have had their identities preserved alongside at least parts of their histories, but the only things remembered about Heide is that it sank into the sea and that the Way of Blue originated from there. As various characters relate in existing and cut dialogue, the “Blue Church” (青聖堂) at the city’s apex is abandoned save for the Blue Sentinels, who seem to have used it as a base of operations from before Heide’s fall. So why did this faith and these warrior monks find their start in this city in particular? More than likely because Heide derived itself from Anor Londo.
Greathelm of a knight of Heide.
Does the name Heide denote a country? Even that is already lost because it is too distant a past.
But it is said that Heide was the Way of Blue’s land of origin and later sank into the sea.
Much of the city ruins’ architecture is extremely reminiscent of the city of the gods from DS1, from its bright stonework to its classical style. The civilization also seems to have worshiped the sun symbolizing the First Flame and the power of the gods. Despite its name, the church uses red banners and rugs while the Tower Shield found in a chest there bears a personified sun on its face. Moreover, statues found within and without the church are clearly modeled after the statues of Gwyn seen in Anor Londo except replacing his head with what looks like that of a falcon, taking clear inspiration from the sun god of Egyptian mythology Ra. Aside from connections to Gwyn and the gods in general, we can also find a chest containing a Divine Blessing. This holy water belonged to the goddess Gwynevere who once resided in Anor Londo and had left some of these vials behind in DS1. Likewise, the church in Heide is where we encounter the Old Dragonslayer, whose armor and weapon originally belonged to a knight of Anor Londo: Dragonslayer Ornstein. If only superficially, the two cities mirror each other well.
The Blue Sentinels are also clear successors to the Blades of the Darkmoon. Both chivalric orders are associated with the color blue and use Blue Eye Orbs to help them punish sinners in the name of the gods. The Blue Sentinels also reward ranking members with Wrath of the Gods and Bountiful Sunlight, both texts that were performed or taught by residents of Anor Londo in DS1. Moreover, the Darkmoon covenant was based in Anor Londo while the Blue Sentinels are based in its potential successor. Since Heide’s era, the Blue Sentinels have spread beyond the continent to other countries where they have spread their teachings and influence. They weren’t alone either, as the monastery set made at the Lindelt Monastery is a recreation of the equipment worn by the painting guardians from DS1 — even its Japanese name as the “protector” (守り人) set is a clear reference to the original’s name as the “painting protector” (絵画守り) set. These servants of Anor Londo had a profound influence upon the region’s largest religious institution, which just so happens to base itself on the scriptures of the Anor Londo pantheon. Where else could these guardians have originated from except Heide?
Taken together, and there is no doubt that Heide traces its roots to the divine country seen in DS1 and is likely responsible for the proliferation of the Anor Londo faith across the region. However, this begs the question: If Heide was Anor Londo’s successor, how did memory of its own history become so distorted? Part of this can be attributed to time. The Crescent Axe is another item first seen in DS1, an already old weapon implicitly created by Anor Londo and kept by the Way of White in the world of man. However, its Japanese description affirms that it has lost much of its holy power as a result of the “many years” since it first received that blessing. From this, the text infers that the people responsible are also long dead, meaning that the present era must be even farther removed from the events of DS1 than those events were to when the Crescent Axe was originally created — in the prior millennium. If hundreds if not thousands of years more have gone by, then plenty would change. The gods certainly have.
Distinctive copper axe with crescent-shaped blade. Has long handle and excellent reach.
You faintly feel sacred power. But, most of it seems to have been lost as a result of the many years.
Are the ones who blessed this gone now, too?
The Name-engraved Ring details how many of the gods have been lost in its description; even those still worshiped to this day are possibly known by different names from what we are familiar with in DS1. For sure, none of the names for the ring can be recognized as a god from the previous game. Despite traces of them still existing in the land, their memory has been warped at best and entirely forgotten at worst. And based on its imagining of Gwyn, Heide had been no different. However, the onward march of time can’t be the sole explanation for this.
Special ring that the gods’ names can be carved into. Becomes easier for the equipper to connect with the worlds of those who have chosen the same god.
In the land of Drangleig, there are numerous traces of gods fallen by the wayside. Even the current gods may have once been called by different names.
True, Undead like the Darkmoon Blades and the painting guardians are susceptible to hollowing while mortal men have finite lifespans that make it easy for information to be lost or gradually perverted. But still, it is hard to imagine that Anor Londo would stray so far when Gwyndolin, a long-living medial and learned god, was in charge. Likewise, worship of the gods was widely practiced in the lands surrounding Lordran where Anor Londo was located, the Way of White alone accounting for most believers. There should have been plenty of outside influences helping preserve memory of the gods even in the event of their deaths. Yet current circumstances suggest that it was Anor Londo — or rather, Heide — that subtly pressured the surrounding cultures, the Way of White simply absent from the picture. It is almost as if someone plopped Anor Londo in the middle of a land completely foreign to the Old World’s religious culture and geopolitical history.
We are thus left with one of two scenarios. The first, Gwyndolin and most other gods suddenly died, creating a vacuum for the various nations to gradually drift away over the eons until they became unrecognizable; at which point the Heide faith spread vestiges of the culture back across these surrounding lands. Alternatively, Anor Londo, or at least a significant chunk of it, was indeed somehow instantly displaced to a completely foreign part of the world where the gods’ influence didn’t reach. Stranded in a foreign land, the human Undead residents isolated from their gods made use of their limited knowledge, resources, and abilities to restore civilization, where later generations gradually perverted memory of the original history and religion until they were shadows of their former selves. This distorted culture then spread to other lands where time further diluted them.
Of the two, the latter is the more plausible. The game’s initial director, Tomohiro Shibuya, confirms that the two settings are separate in a Polygon interview, analogizing their locations as opposite poles on the planet. At the same time, he acknowledges some connection between them. Targray refers to Drangleic as the location of the gods, and the souls of the Old Ones do reside there. Some of the other areas which neighbored Anor Londo show similar signs of presence on the continent, though their locations are inconsistent with the Lordran experienced in DS1 — not even vaguely in the same directions relative to one another. Even if we were to chalk this up to artistic license by the developers, the fact that sea surrounds Drangleic on three sides when no such ocean is visible around Lordran forces us to acknowledge some form of terrestrial displacement occurring between events for the two games.
Changing one. You carry proof to be a Knight of Blue and are welcome here. Raise the proof that you should be a guide and be permitted to spread your roots in this land where the gods be.
According to the description for the Blue Seal, the Way of Blue isn’t a formal institution so much as a small prayer that has been created by humans seeking salvation. Salvation from what? What prompted residents of a civilization descended from the country of the gods to seek help from the organization descended from Gwyndolin’s covenant? This prayer is normally reserved for protection from sinners, especially while adherents travel dangerous and unfamiliar lands. Was the Way of Blue founded in Heide specifically because it too was in a hazardous world foreign to its people’s comprehension? Considering the intimate role between the Blue Sentinels and the Way of Blue and the former’s apparent early presence and influence over the religion, it is doubtful that the faith just sprang up when Heide sank into the sea. This and the lack of evidence to a calamity befalling the gods versus simply never being there to begin favors the second scenario for any terrestrial displacement.
Ring of covenantors of the “Way of Blue”. Increases the equipper’s HP, albeit slightly.
The faith called the Way of Blue doesn’t in and of itself exist. It is a small prayer that was born among men who seek salvation.
Those who have made the pledge can acquire the help of residents of other worlds when invaded by dark spirits.
In other words, Drangleic both is and isn’t Lordran. Various parts of the gods’ homeland have been teleported to another continent in the “north” disconnected from the areas where the gods now reside. This event led to a culture derived from adherents of Gwyndolin eventually spreading across the region in fragmented and warped forms, hence peculiar beliefs like the power of moonlight exorcising evil. And all of it originated from Heide. We are then simply left to question the cause of this phenomenon. Warping across time and space is typically related to the power of fire, thus the most likely culprit to this radical change in setting is the First Flame. Recall that Lordran existed in a time bubble where its flow had stagnated and thus caused “worlds” to overlap, presumably as a direct result of the fading First Flame being located within the vicinity. It is therefore quite likely that its presence in Drangleic along with various parts of Lordran is part of this spacetime stagnation caused by fire’s imminent waning.
Are you interested in this sword? That’s how it looks to me. This is my clan’s ancestral sword. It’s imparted that moonlight, which exorcises evil spirits, gave it shape.
This warping incident is further supported by the description for the Dark set. The text confirms that the Darkwraiths from DS1 are still remembered, though their origins are unknown. And yet, foreigners’ old legends accurately identify them. Who are these foreigners? Just peoples from outside Drangleic, or from outside the region as a whole? If the former, then it is odd that the land where we actually acquire these armor pieces needs foreign accounts to inform them. Some Darkwraiths had evidently been caught up in the warp, so shouldn’t it be Drangleic disseminating such tales? Of course, their unknown origin implies that New Londo itself was left behind and ultimately forgotten, leaving only the isolated Darkwraiths and their armor to be remembered by. All the stranger then that more is known in foreign lands. But if “foreigners” refer to peoples beyond the known world in DS2, it isn’t so strange.
Mask of a knight who fell to the Dark.
The origin of they who were said to freely operate the power of Dark is unknown. According to old legends of foreigners, they are mere shadows of their former selves who desired the art of spiritsucker.
The Darkwraiths terrorized the world of man, and their invasions might not have been strictly limited to the Old World. Even if they were, the countries victimized would still continue to pass down their infamous memory in legend, at which point their stories might spread to neighboring lands. In other words, these foreigners may be peoples bordering the limits of both the Old and New Worlds, close enough for individuals to come and share their legends but too far to have a greater impact on the region’s culture, much like the far East. In fact, given that both DS1 and DS2 feature a Japanese-inspired far East but only the latter has a continent of giants to the north, the Old World must lie somewhere south or west of the New. (DS3 indicates south) But with countries like Catarina being on the frontier in DS1, anything beyond that was essentially left to its own devices. So it was with Heide.
If Heide can be considered a branch stemming from Anor Londo, then it only makes sense that they inherited its technical achievements. The city we explore is merely the pinnacle of immense buildings submerged beneath the water, with the church and the still-burning fire tower positioned at the apex — the Dark Souls II: Design Works confirming that the city centers around the cathedral. These landmarks not only reflect a civilization that values their religion and the power of fire above all else, but also demonstrate the lengths it went to preserve and even build upon medial culture. Nowhere in Anor Londo were there buildings quite so impressive except maybe its own cathedral, but humans made a monument to the holy fire wielded by the gods visible to anyone in or out of the city. This didn’t stop memory of their gods from being perverted, but it does show the depth of their reverence for them. How much of Heide replaced the old cityscape isn’t obvious, but at least enough to make it only recognizable by the style. And this preservation and refinement of Anor Londo’s works extended beyond just architecture.
Heide Knight armor employs a special alloy that is as durable as it is mysterious. Attempts to copy this by humans in Drangleic has resulted in a similar alloy known as bradden or “brandin” (ブランディン) steel, but this sheds no light on the exact nature of Heide’s metalwork. Based on the light grey tone, it may be made from Anor Londo’s unique white iron seen in DS1. The knights’ equipment has high resistance to the Dark without compromising its otherwise average resistance ratios for a heavy armor set, so it does appear to involve the gods’ holy power. That said, the Japanese description for the Elite Knight set notes that the ore the kingdom of Drangleic used to forge bradden steel was acquired from the land south of the royal castle where Heide is located. If this ore wasn’t brought to the continent along with Anor Londo, then Heide’s alloy must simply be derived from the same process as the white iron but using local materials. Either way, the fact that Old Knight armor retains such strong physical power despite centuries of deterioration speaks to the skill of Heiden metallurgy, and to great effect.
Helmet made of brandin steel. Possesses an excellent defense effect and has been used from time immemorial by certain knights of rank.
Brandin steel is used much in Drangleig. Since it is an excellent metal, it is made from an ore acquired from the land south of the royal castle.
Straight sword imparted to be a thing that originated from Heide. It uses a special alloy and has high durability.
This alloy has long remained an enigma. Copying this in Drangleig produced a similar material called brandin steel.
By most indications, the Old Dragonslayer is the famed dragon–hunting knight from DS1 who is still remembered in old legends during DS2’s era. At the same time, Ornstein’s armor was gold, not black. Moreover, he wielded the power of lightning, making the Old Dragonslayer’s use of Dark magic all the more peculiar. One might initially suspect that the gods’ most faithful knight had at some point embraced heresy, but how is this possible when he was undoubtedly slain during the course of DS1? This creates a conundrum where the Old Dragonslayer is almost certainly Ornstein and yet cannot be Ornstein. Still, there is more to the Old Dragonslayer than fanservice. The question shouldn’t be aimed at the boss himself but the context that he is encountered in.
Why do we encounter the Old Dragonslayer at Heide’s church? It is an old headquarters of the Blue Sentinels located in the country where the Way of Blue originated, a country that was founded as a continuation of the holy capital of the gods. Is it not odd that a Dark arts user is randomly found at this holy place? What’s more, we are not alone in this church. Though it is easy to forget due to the fog walls partitioning the boss area, Targray is standing just outside the doorway at the back of the church, gazing out from the balcony while a battle with a Dark knight ensues behind him. The leader of a covenant that makes it its mission to eliminate invading sinners who threaten god-fearing worshipers should be concerned about a Dark heretic standing right behind his back more than anyone. And yet, Targray ignores the boss as well as our battle, as if the Old Dragonslayer’s presence there is no cause for alarm. Either the man has gone senile or the boss isn’t quite what it seems.
Rather than pose any threat to Targray or the church, the Old Dragonslayer stands ready to face us as soon as we enter the building. And only once the boss is defeated can we speak to Targray and potentially join the Blue Sentinels. This setup looks strangely reminiscent of a trial, where a prospective holy warrior must face the gods’ greatest foe in order to prove the ability to overcome such unholy forces. It would certainly explain the boss’ location and behavior. In that case, why would a supposedly deceased Dragonslayer take part? Why would he know how to perform Dark magic for this test? The simplest answer is that the Old Dragonslayer is not Ornstein, at least not the same Ornstein encountered in DS1. Civilizations following Heide had inherited Anor Londo’s knowledge for installing souls in artificial constructs in order to create living automatons. And where did their knowledge of golemcraft originate from if not the very civilization that had built upon the remnants of Anor Londo culture?
In short, the Old Dragonslayer is probably a golem. A suit of armor animated by the soul of Ornstein can, at minimum, replicate his fighting style when armed with the knight’s signature weapon — its memories may even include his experiences and personality. Likewise, golems can be programmed to fulfill whatever tasks their creators desire, including battle potential Knights of the Blue with Dark power supplied to them. Some might argue that this is impossible since the boss sheds blood when struck. However, the Iron Golem of DS1 also bled despite explicitly being just a suit of armor with a core, so the same can be true of a similarly advanced golem like the Old Dragonslayer. The same holds true for contentions about the boss’ susceptibility to poison and bleeding when one or both of these same status effects can afflict the manakins, bell keeper puppets, and Smelter Demon golems. None of it disqualifies the Old Dragonslayer from being an artificial construct.
We are thereby given no reason to doubt that the church in Heide created a golem of Ornstein to serve as a trial for potential knights, using the knowledge its people inherited from Anor Londo. In fact, it is unlikely to be alone. The Old Knights encountered in Heide are so old that their weapons and equipment are about to deteriorate, hence their low durability. And because not a single record detailing them has survived, they have been entirely forgotten in modern memory. Although their age is impossible to date, their location all but guarantees them to be from Heide. And yet, Heide already has its own order of knights, not to mention the Blue Sentinels serving as knights for the Way of Blue. Why would they need another? Stranger still, they are unaffected by the Soul Appease spell, proving that they aren’t Hollows like the Heide Knights. In that case, how have they survived the ages, and why haven’t they taken greater care of their equipment? Them being golems would explain it.
Greatsword of old with date unknown.
Thing which was used by knights of an old age that are so long forgotten they aren’t left in any records. Durability is extremely low.
But it appears to be endowed with power at this time where it will rot away for sure.
Descriptions for the Old Knights’ equipment do note that they contain power despite their imminently deteriorating state. This is strange for weapons and armor without any elemental resistances or enchantments. What power have they been endowed with? Perhaps magic related to golemcraft has kept their metal bodies animated despite their crumbling forms? And although their massive size can be chalked up to artistic license, it can just as easily be faulted on artificial construction. And if there is an actual person within the armor, why do they neither bleed when struck nor suffer from poison and bleeding? Susceptibility to these status effects may not disqualify one from being artificial, but they do disqualify one from being your average organic life. They are probably another product of Heide’s church, acting in a similar capacity to the Old Dragonslayer. The Dark Souls II Collector’s Edition Strategy Guide even supposes that they too are just another trial for prospective Blue Sentinels, hence why they carry the same Cracked Blue Eye Orbs that the knights use — it is all part of one big system.
The cathedral is but one part of this system, the Heide Knights also guarding the path to the area’s eponymous Fire Tower. This landmark is identified as a lighthouse in the Design Works, but this may be due to the designer illustrating concepts for the sea-sunk ruin. From what we can observe, it seems to have served primarily as an arena. Entering the tower brings us to a small ring, with levers along the way to it widening the space by raising additional sections. These devices serve no purpose in a lighthouse but do function well for a ring-out arena, as proven by the boss faced there. In other words, the tower probably served as another trial ground, the flames visible from every other part of the city beckoning warriors to prove their strength as devout defenders of fire. Perhaps prospective knights of blue had to prove their mettle there before moving onto the church, weeding out the generally weak before testing individual strength against the Dark.
That being the case, the Old Dragonslayer proves to be informative regarding the true Dragonslayer Ornstein. For it begs the question: If this Ornstein is a fake, what about the one encountered in DS1? It is odd for Heide to have created a golem of a legendary servant of the gods to represent the Dark, especially when they would have to be using his authentic soul. Why was this on-hand? Souls can be split, and large enough fragments will retain their unique properties, so it is possible for the Old Dragonslayer’s core to be sizable a fragment of Ornstein’s original soul. But this would imply that Anor Londo had acquired that fragment prior to the knight’s death in DS1, in which case it is just as possible for that Ornstein to be a golem using another such fragment. This would explain why the church trial was him specifically. There was a stock of fragments of his soul and replicas of his equipment, making a powerful golem modeled on him more easily available than another construct developed from scratch.
However, this would mean that the original Ornstein was dead or absent during the events of DS1, the latter of which is more likely. It had always been odd that Frampt seemed to have a negative perception of Ornstein when exchanging his items for souls in DS1. Some might fault the world serpent’s affinity for dragons, but this didn’t affect his opinion of Gwyn, Gough, or anyone else who had participated in the dragon hunts. Artorias had failed to stop the Abyss in Oolacile, Smough was so disreputable that Gwyn ultimately rejected his candidacy to the Four Knights, and Seath betrayed Anor Londo in his madness. All of these figures had somehow failed to meet the expectations of the divine government, earning Frampt’s disfavor as Gwyn’s close friend. But Ornstein, a knight characterized by his honor and faith? What did he do? Surely Frampt wasn’t put off by a knight faithfully guarding Gwynevere alongside the despicable executioner per his orders. He can hardly be blamed for fulfilling his knightly duties.
Rather, Frampt’s animus would imply that Ornstein somehow betrayed that code of chivalry to his lord and gods. Perhaps by reneging on his duties and leaving Anor Londo? He would be the only knight to have done so when all the others stayed behind after the gods abandoned the city. And if he had left some of his soul behind anticipating that Gwyndolin would make a replacement, presumably as part of some agreement, it might prompt Frampt to think lesser of him. At the same time, these cordial implications behind his parting with Anor Londo would explain why the serpent still put him comparatively far above Seath or Smough in value. This doesn’t in itself clarify why he left or where he went afterward, but it does establish a sufficient basis for him leaving. And if so, then the existence Old Dragonslayer adds a useful hint. (one which wouldn’t be elaborated on until DS3)
Nonetheless, either boss can still be considered a genuine Ornstein. Both use the Dragonslayer’s actual soul as their core, so their actions may go beyond instinctual memory. And what difference is there really between a living being and a golem other than the composition of the body encasing their soul? The knight would still be himself whether his soul is housed in flesh and bone or metal. The question then is to what degree these golems retain the original’s memories and their own consciousness. In DS1, Dragonslayer Ornstein certainly demonstrated personality in the scenario where his comrade falls in battle before him. If their souls are fragments of the original, then it may be more accurate to call the both of them an “aspect” of Ornstein, an imperfect incarnation of the broader being that is Ornstein.
Regardless of the technicalities, the golem’s very existence is proof of Heide’s sophistication. Whether it be in architecture, metallurgy, or soul-powered automatons, this civilization proved itself a worthy successor of Anor Londo. There is no doubt that it had the military and cultural prowess to be a superpower during its era even without the gods’ support. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the Heide had any actual influence upon the larger world prior to the civilization’s destruction. But, even if we assume that the city never had direct contact with anyone beyond the Drangleic continent, its religion definitely had a lasting impact on the surrounding nations for generations to come. And there is still good reason to believe that Heide’s borders extended far beyond just the submerged metropolis.
Even though the full extent of the Heide ruins is never clarified, we can still infer which areas that the civilization had once settled. Though far and away from the main city, the Shrine of Amana ruins are most likely Heiden in origin. The stone buildings and corridors lead to the Undead Crypt, which we access from a large double door. This doorway is decorated with elaborated reliefs resembling those seen in Anor Londo architecture, particularly the image of a blossoming flower representing the sun. This is reinforced by a local chest containing Sunlight Blade, a miracle text previously found in Anor Londo in DS1. On top of that, a still-active Old Knight is encountered at the ruins, implying that Heide specifically had a presence there. Moreover, this wide complex of buildings is now largely underwater much like the city itself, though the actual water was possibly always present there to some degree.
In order to reach the area, we take a long lift down from Drangleic Castle, implying we have gone deep underground. From there, we find the ruins within a massive cavern beneath branching tree roots stretching across the entire ceiling in an intricate web. These roots are enormous and so most likely belong to archtrees, which can also be found underground holding up the Upper World with their entwined matte of branches. In that case, the water in the cavern may be a remnant of Ash Lake from DS1, which was situated near Nito’s domain in that game much like the Shrine of Amana’s proximity to the Undead Crypt. The fact that we can use Chameleon to transform into the mushroom men native to the archtrees in Ash Lake only reinforces the implication. With so many lands from the Upper World brought over by the spatial drift, it is only natural that some of the Lower World also warp with them.
These ruins were likely built expressly to support and maintain contact with the Undead Crypt. Aside from the pomp given to its entrance, various columns lining the buildings are carved to look like a mass of human bodies entwined together. This iconography is appropriate for an area where bodies would be brought and dumped into the Crypt. Heide’s founders were also liable to have knowledge of this mausoleum and want to maintain friendly relations, hence building infrastructure on the other end of the continent. That said, the citizens built out their civilization much closer to home, too.
The Pit stands out as the most notable structure in Majula, yet very few seem to know much about it or what is to be found at the bottom. However, it too seems to be related to Heide. Heide’s Tower of Flame can be accessed from a building built in the same style as the ruins. Within it is a mechanical device that shifts the paths from these ruins to the Huntsman’s Copse by inserting a key stone into the central pillar. Though this key stone doesn’t require the power of miracles to activate like Lecia claims, the building is nonetheless called the “ring temple” (環堂) in its description. Likewise, the exterior emits a white light above its entrance once active. All of this suggests that some element of religiosity is involved in the structure and the places it grants access to, befitting Heide. In that case, why did the successor to Anor Londo build a holy place leading to this cliffside? Because that is where we find the Pit, a man-made shaft leading deep underground, surrounded by ruins built in similar style to the temple. And what religious role did it play in Heide society? Burying its clergymen.
Down the shaft are two entrances to different levels of the Grave of Saints. As the name implies, it is a “holy man graveyard” (聖人墓所) entombing countless clergy. Among the various human remains in this complex of catacombs, we can find the long tale of Great Heal known by a small number of clergymen. There is also a chest carrying Sublime Bone Dust, bones that turned to ash and crumbled after a holy man threw him or herself onto an Undead bonfire. It is also where we find the Disc Chime, a holy bell that doubles as a shield. Despite the English description claiming it to have been brought there by a visiting saint, the Japanese text only vaguely surmises that it is the product of some holy man from somewhere, possibly locally. Taken together, and it is clear that all manner of clerics have been buried in these tombs. And what country would produce them in these numbers except for Heide?
Holy bell which can also be used as a shield. Rare item of indefinite origin.
It has an effect that slightly increases the might of miracles, and it is considered to be made by the hand of some place’s holy man. Can fire miracles and hexes with its strong attack.
According to Gilligan, the Pit long predates King Vendrick, leaving Heide as the only civilization whose known influence extended to this area. We can encounter a Heide Knight in the Gutter, evidently trapped in these caves beneath the Pit. And based on the unique iron mask he wears, he may have been down there for quite a while, long before the helmets the knights in the ruined capital wear were designed. In other words, the Pit was under construction or already built by the time the knight fell underground. It may not have just been the Pit being built either. The owner of the Majula manor had apparently been excavating stone ruins buried next to the Pit, uncovering fragments of the Lordvessel, or at least a copy, from DS1 along with them — yet another possible carryover to the country’s successor. There is thus good reason to believe that these ancient structures are relics of Heide.
Ahh, yes yes, there’s a guy who says there’re graves of holy men below the ground here. Apparently, it wasn’t made by the king here, from a long, long time before then. The hole there’s probably connected to those graves.
If the Pit’s graveyard was made for Heiden holy men, then it explains some of the remains buried there with them. The pile of human bones the Rat King sits upon is topped by an ancient giant’s skull previously exclusive to DS1’s Tomb of the Giants. Aside from being a callback to the “giant graveyard” (巨人墓場) in the cemetery of holy men, it is fitting for a Heiden burials. The Undead Crypt makes it probable for other parts of these ancient burial sites beneath Anor Londo to have drifted over with it. From there, these age-old remains would be exhumed and reburied in more proper graves due to their historical and religious significance to the stranded denizens of Anor Londo. Indeed, a number of the holy men buried in these tombs are far larger than the average human skeleton. Assuming that this, again, isn’t just artistic license, Heiden humans may have been breeding with Anor Londo’s giant slaves, resulting in some of its populace that became clergy growing larger than the average man. There are also some of shorter stature, but this can be attributed to poorly-placed corpse models clipping through the game world.
Aside from their size, some skeletons and coffins are also seen wrapped or shackled in iron chains to keep them within their graves. This implies concern over these dead holy men rising back up again, whether due to undeath or grudges in life. Given the random nature of both curses, proactively chaining them so that they don’t freely wander around the crypt is prudent — once the gravekeepers found them, they could easily be put down or transferred to the Undead Crypt. But considering that this is only the case for some of the bodies, the practice likely only began much later after countless instances of these saints not staying dead. The reason is likely because they modeled their graveyard after the Catacombs from DS1 as evidenced by the shared iconography and style of architecture in certain areas. Heide built themselves a catacombs for clergy to reflect Anor Londo’s own without considering the change in circumstances since the dawn of the Age of Fire, forcing them to adapt to these newer factors after much trial and error.
Therefore, the Pit was most likely built to be an elevator shaft to various floors of the Grave of Saints, among other areas. For example, we can come across various stone doorways built into the rock face of the Gutter, each identical to the one in the Pit. These doors seem to be the only surviving Heiden ruins below the shaft, reached at the end of a lift ride. This proposed lift would be of the same circular design as those built in Anor Londo, thereby completely feasible for Heiden architecture. But following the country’s destruction and the inevitable passage of time, the actual lift and whatever additional structures or mechanisms surrounded it were buried or otherwise lost. While Majula is well above the sea level compared to the city of Heide, the lower levels of the Grave of Saints have nevertheless been completely flooded. If there were other means to enter the graveyard from the actual city, they have been forever cut off. And so, it is likely that any other underground facilities that this lift would have taken us to were made inaccessible by Heide’s watery destruction.
Of course, the ring temple leads not just to the main city and the Pit, but also to the Shaded Woods. This forest is home to stone ruins with architecture identical to the ruins excavated beneath the house in Majula and seen at the Shrine of Amana. This includes the Shrine of Winter, which is essentially an extension of the Woods. These similarities in design indicate that Heide originally created the small shrine, presumably to safely monitor the Old Chaos at the other end of the warp point. This is reinforced by the forest ruins ending at Drangleic Castle, which is built right atop the Shrine of Amana. Furthermore, items found in these two areas including the Old Sun Ring, Sublime Bonedust, a Diving Blessing, and some Loyd’s Talismans. All of these have obvious associations with the gods of Anor Londo or their holy magic power, and the Estus-blocking talismans in particular can only otherwise be found at Heide’s main city or the lead-up to the Shaded Woods. In other words, the remaining ruins in the Shaded Woods were probably originally built by Heide like the rest.
That being the case, these items and small shrine suggest that there was some religious aspect to this area before it fell to ruin. Why else would the civilization build a temple leading there unless it too is a holy place like the actual city or the Grave of Saints? The forest is largely nondescript save for a single white tree in a pond. Fans of DS1 may recall that white trees were an iconic motif of Oolacile, and a chest in the area contains the country’s Repair spell — recreated using more conventional sorcery principles based on its blue coloration. Therefore, the Shaded Woods is at least part of the Black Forest surrounding Oolacile in the previous game, which makes sense considering the ruined nation’s proximity to Anor Londo. It too warped to this part of the world, where it was then resettled by Heide along with the Shrine of Amana. Heide’s reason likely had to do with Oolacile’s deep ties with Anor Londo. The stranded survivors’ wanted to preserve their religious history and culture after all, though to little effect.
We can see statues of a robed woman with long hair and flowers or fruits at her feet erected at various parts of the ruins. This strong association with nature is fitting for buildings deeply entrenched in a forest, but who is this figure specifically? If she is a goddess, then Gwynevere is associated with nature. That said, the goddess of bountiful harvests doesn’t have any particular connection to Oolacile. Perhaps it instead portrays Elizabeth, who is revered as a holy woman that dedicated her life to relieving the poor with the help of her secret medicine. This vaguely lines up with the Oolacilian mushroom woman selling the same medicine during the events of DS1’s Artorias of the Abyss DLC. The description for this fungus notes that Elizabeth is believed to have had beauty matching her nobility but ultimately questions that belief. Her legend has clearly been exaggerated to reimagine the mushroom as a beautiful human, so this statue is perfectly capable of being an icon of her.
Dried mushroom made through a special process. Brings about a strangely upfliting feeling if ingested and greatly recovers HP continually for a limited time.
There is a legend that the holy woman of old Elizabeth made her secret medicine in great numbers and dedicated her life to relieving the poor.
It is believed that she had a beautiful appearance matching her noble deeds, but how was it in actuality?
Another statue connecting these ruins to holy woman worship can be conjured with Chameleon. This effigy depicts a hooded woman wearing long, flowing robes and a wimple, her hands clasped together over her chest as if in prayer. The imagery brings to mind a nun, so it may be another depiction of Elizabeth as a saintess. However, holy women weren’t the only figured honored there. Half-buried among the ruins are also large stone heads of a helmeted man, the same figure ornamenting the training facilities at the Cathedral of Blue. Assuming that this isn’t simply a stand-in for a generic Blue Sentinel, then the only notable figure connected to both combating dark spirits as a holy warrior and Oolacile is the knight Artorias. But with Artorias long dead, his appearance needed to be reimagined as well. In short, these statues have the same accuracy in their depiction as the statues of Gwyn found in the main city.
Finally, the ruins for the Throne of Want are likely Heiden-made. The area is situated beneath Drangleic Castle, at least partially nestled within the mountains the royal abode sits upon. And although the architecture doesn’t resemble anything previously associated with Heide, the castle also leads to the Shaded Woods, the Shrine of Amana. This makes it unlikely for the ancient civilization to have been unaware of its existence. But while the main building features impressive style and architecture comparable to other Heide works, both the throne and the path leading to it are far more primitive. Such simple stonework and sculpting suggests that it is significantly older, seemingly from a very early period in civilization. And Heide’s founders had every reason to enshrine this exceptionally old location.
Various characters and item descriptions reference the throne as a path to linking the fire and the “King’s seat” (王の座) in obvious reference to the Lord of Cinder, or “King of Kindling”. (薪の王) The ruins too are filled with ash similar to DS1’s Kiln of the First Flame. And yet, there is no sign of the First Flame when we take our seat as sovereign. By all indications, the Throne of Want is somehow involved in the firelinking ritual, but it is not the location of the fire itself, just an intermediary. The throne itself is enclosed within a dome we access through two large doors. These doors automatically open when we approach and automatically close once we have sat in the chair, almost like a transporter of some kind. In that case, the throne is most likely a lift or teleporter to the Kiln similar to the Firelink Chamber facilitating a wormhole to there in DS1. The gateway for said wormhole was also of primitive construction. It is feasible for the gods to have made several shortcuts to the First Flame during the early years of civilization. The transporter then drifted over to Drangleic where Heide built new structures to preserve it.
Heide is likely to have held the Throne of Want in particularly high esteem, not only as their only known link to holy fire but also as a continuation of the founders’ original mission. Recall that the human inhabitants of Anor Londo served the very god who orchestrated the system for selecting the next Lord of Cinder in DS1. With Gwyndolin’s absence, it was up to them to secure the First Flame and carry on that system if need be. They were apparently the only ones capable of reaching the flame and continuing to keep the Age of Dark at bay. And after reestablishing contact with the Undead Crypt, they had a means to funnel Undead out of decent society until a new Lord of Cinder was required. Everything was setup to continue where Anor Londo left off.
But aside from maybe the First Flame itself, whatever Heide had wanted to preserve ended up twisted or forgotten. The civilization seemed to stretch far and wide across the continent in order to hold together what remained of Lordran within their vicinity. Whether or not Heide extended its borders beyond the landmass, what ruins remain portray a people concerned with the far-flung lands related to their gods. But the human lifespan is finite and even Undead are subject to hollowing. It was inevitable that things would gradually drift away from their original memory, especially when even uttering the names of such revered beings became forbidden. That being said, one can argue that Heide’s founders succeeded considering how widespread faith in the gods and their divine power has become in the present era. Despite their twisted state, the texts for their miracles have survived the ages. If only the same can be said about Heide.
Drown in Obscurity
As alluded to earlier, Heide appears to have collapsed when the city inexplicably sank into the sea. This particular phrasing is odd given that we reach the ruins below Majula’s seaside cliffs via a passage through the ring temple, a passage which remains perfectly functional and unblemished aside from flooding in the portions below the sea level. If the city physically sank beneath the waves, then one would think passages like these would have been torn asunder. Instead, it is as if the entire continent sank along with it. But we can clearly see some of the rocky foundation above water even while some of the taller buildings lie perfectly upright and stable below it, implying that not all of the city was on the same level. At the same time, some of that rocky foundation appears to have collapsed and brought buildings down with it. Towers lean above water while anything else seems to have disappeared within the depths based on the huge swathes of ocean between ruins. At the very least, a significant portion of the city did sink into the sea, but only in response to the sea’s arrival.
Similar terminology is used to describe the destruction of New Londo in DS1 when it was flooded with water. That city certainly didn’t sink to the bottom of water in the traditional sense. The use of sink thus seems to be less in the sense of moving downward and more in the sense of becoming below the water’s surface. Heide may not have necessarily gone down so much as the sea had risen up. The crashing waves of the ocean would cause seismic activity that would cause parts of the land to erode until they crumble beneath their weight. But because this resulted from a rise in sea level, the rest of the man-made structures would simply be flooded similar to New Londo, explaining why they are so well preserved relative to such a violent catastrophe much like the Undead city. However, this doesn’t reveal why this specific calamity befall Heide in the first place.
Indeed, the very nature of the sea is suspect. Dark Souls focuses on the relationship between light and Dark, but it is usually water that serves as fire’s antithesis. Flames can be doused with water as demonstrated when using torches in waterlogged environments. Water counteracts fire, so it is rather fitting then that the Dark be portrayed as a viscous fluid in DS1’s DLC. At the same time, water can be blessed by the gods’ holy power, and it serves an important role in sustaining life whether they be flora or fauna. Add cold to water and it becomes ice; add heat, steam. And water of course rains down from the clouds. With how prevalent the substance is, where does it fit in the larger cosmology? It may be a derivative of fog, but it is just as possible that water’s true nature is fundamentally different from our real-world understanding like is the case with lightning. Regardless, water is more prominent than ever thanks to the inclusion of the ocean, which went unmentioned and unseen in the previous game. This begs the question: Did the sea even exist during the events of DS1?
If there was a sudden rise in sea level that caused Heide’s destruction, where did all of this water come from and why? There are two scenarios. Either it was just a natural disaster, or someone induced the cataclysm through magic. Whichever is the case, there is no limiting factor for how much water was added to the environment. It is therefore possible that the ocean in its entirety didn’t exist until the water flooded the world at the time of Heide’s destruction, in which case the game’s setting is a post-apocalypse. So who or what would be capable of generating that sheer amount of water? If this flooding was just a product of some natural phenomenon, then the most relevant phenomenon is the First Flame’s imminent waning as the Age of Dark approaches. Perhaps the progression of fire’s fading resulted in large swathes of the world being submerged? The Dark does have qualities akin to water as mentioned earlier. Or perhaps it is the prolonging of this perverse twilight era via firelinking that is to blame? Either way, water’s natural opposition to flame fits this explanation for the calamity.
In the end, the civilization was ravaged. Although the ruins themselves are remarkably well preserved, the indoor chambers and passages beneath the ocean’s surface are still ankle-deep in water and likely completely flooded at the base of these towering buildings. Few going about their daily lives within the city would survive the sudden crashing waves and resulting seismic activity. The same holds true for the Shrine of Amana and Grave of Saints. The first bonfire upon reaching the graveyard is called Harval’s Resting Place, but is more accurately the “Place of Clergyman Hakbal’s End”. (聖職者ハクバルの最期の地) Besides affirming the individual to be a cleric, it highlights one oddity about Harval. One usually thinks of a graveyard as a place where one is laid to rest, not spend their final moments. Moreover, the bonfire for this part of the area is situated outside the actual tombs whereas the Graveyard Entrance bonfire is located well within the main complex. Were the names supposed to be switched? That still wouldn’t explain Harval’s demise there.
All of this suggests that Harval isn’t a cleric who was formally buried at the graveyard but instead died near the exit. Several of the skeletons carrying cleric items in this area lay nowhere near a formal grave, implying that there to have been a number of clergymen operating within the catacombs — presumably to perform the final rites. All of them would have thereby been trapped when the lower levels were flooded and the lift became inaccessible, resulting in them joining their fellow holy men in eternal rest. Perhaps Harval had attempted to escape this fate by burrowing out of the complex, hence why the cleric’s resting place is in a crudely dug tunnel leading out to the Pit. But instead of a lift to the surface, the clergyman found an empty, unscalable shaft to deeper underground. No amount of digging would lead these surviving holy men out of there before they succumbed to starvation.
These clerics likely shared the same fate as the city’s residents, and this flooding seems to have also led to the ruin of the original settlement in the Shrine of Amana. The only ruins that seem to have remained untouched by the waves are the Shaded Woods, which happens to be the only portion located well above sea level. Even then, the fact that they are even in ruins implies that their inhabitants didn’t fare much better. As to what happened to them, the answer may lie with the goblins. These “forest grotesques” (森の異形) are Hollows as evidenced by their reaction to Soul Appease but with bulging, sagging bellies. This is due to their insatiable diet. Many of these grotesques can be found scavenging corpses or wielding half-eaten human bodies as a club, meaning that these Undead have resorted to cannibalism. But given the nature of Hollows, there must be some reason that scarfing down whatever they can has become instinct.
The grotesques inflict poison when attacking with their hands or “clubs”, showing no concern for the disease-ridden rotten flesh they handle. And considering that they are only found in forests without clothes or any developed tools, these humans seem to have gone native before going Hollow. Despite living in a forest, the residents apparently struggled to forage for food and eventually made a habit of eating each other to get by. But even that didn’t prevent their deaths and subsequent undeaths and neither did it stop their newfound obsession with eating. By the time they hollowed, they were man-eating beasts in human skin. And since they are almost exclusively found among the ruins, these Hollows may well be the aftermath of Heide’s destruction. This cataclysmic event is one of the only two things known about the civilization, so at least some must have survived to pass on knowledge of these events to later generations. But overall, an entire civilization was lost to time.