Irithyll


Preface


Irithyll is the lengthiest topic I have ever written an analysis for, which serves as a testament to its importance to the story and setting of Dark Souls III. (DS3) Expertly building upon the circumstances from Dark Souls (DS1) and Dark Souls II (DS2) to advance the overall narrative to its natural conclusion, the small details portray a country rich in culture but plagued by a complex web of politics. However, the original analysis has been split between the periods before and after the introduction of Sulyvahn for the sake of brevity to this post.


Changing Order


The foundation of Irithyll is based upon three seminal events, all of which pertain to Gwyndolin. Chief among them is the God of the Darkmoon opening up Anor Londo to the outside world. When offered the Giant’s Coal , Andre indicates that he personally knew its owner, the giant blacksmith residing in a country which the Undead smith had only heard legends about back in DS1. Evidently, Andre had entered the gods’ castle and befriended the giant since that time. The same holds true for Shiva, whose ashen remains can be found lying beneath the flying buttresses of ruined Anor Londo. This weapons enthusiast was last seen leading a brigade of Forest Hunters in the overgrown ruins of Oolacile far and below, but apparently he too eventually moved up to the divine capital — looking to one day add the gods’ legendary armaments to his collection, based on his resting place. Put another way, residents of the Undead Burg who stayed alive and sane were welcomed in after the firelinking.

Ashen remains of an arms merchant who came from an eastern land. The handmaid of the ritual place will have new items to offer.

It is said that the man was also the leader of a hunting party and fascinated with arms.

The most likely reason for Gwyndolin opening up a city that had been strictly regulated for centuries is a desire to rebuild and reform. He was the one gods who stayed behind to fulfill his father’s will, allowing the system that he and Frampt had established to play out. This included permitting potential Lords of Cinder to walk the hallowed streets of Anor Londo, some of whom he recruited to instead serve as Darkmoon knights. The legendary country of the gods was already relying heavily on resources from outside its sealed walls — not to mention the humans who had been serving the divine for generations, like the painting guardians. Gwyndolin thus had no reason to spurn Undead who could contribute to his home’s revival just because the Chosen had finally been found among them. Nor could he ignore the fact that the castle town at the foot of Anor Londo had fallen into chaos. Where were Undead banished to Lordran to live when the city made for them was a Hollow-infested ruin?

To be fair, Anor Londo wouldn’t be a very stable place to live either. As DS2 had revealed, significant portions of Lordran and its inhabitants had been displaced farther north in Drangleic after the events of DS1. These portions included a significant chunk of Anor Londo — the vast majority of the city if the ruins in Irithyll are anything to go by — which ultimately became its own civilization. Considering that items like Andre’s smithing hammer can be acquired in DS2, this sudden displacement probably occurred after the increased influx of Undead into the city. And this shift more or less destroyed the country. Even if we ignore the confusion and bedlam that would come about following such a freak incident, how was Gwyndolin supposed to govern a capital that was, at best, in shambles? There was no way around it. Anor Londo had to be rebuilt from the ground up, essentially replaced with a brand new city.

Aside from having to now become a city planner, Gwyndolin was also seeing a career change within the Way of White hierarchy. The Japanese description for Sulyvahn’s soul refers to the Darkmoon deity as the shushin (主神) or “chief god”, the term that this series typically localizes as “Allfather”. Put simply, Gwyndolin has long since replaced Lloyd as the head of the Anor Londo pantheon. This turn of events is almost too fitting. As Gwyn’s youngest child and second son after the firstborn, Gwyndolin was clearly next in line to Anor Londo’s throne and summit of the pantheon after his elder brother was unceremoniously stripped of his status as both royal and god. The only reason that Lloyd was able to claim legitimacy as Gwyn’s uncle — a mere branch family member — was because the proper successor was widely believed to be a girl practically since he was born.

The Reversal Ring reinforces this curious detail first established in DS1 in its description. The text relates how the “metamorphosis ring” (化生の指輪) was given to the prince at a very young age so that his mannerisms would be undeniably feminine to any onlooker. Raised with this expectation to be a princess like Gwynevere thanks to his controversial Darkmoon affinity, Gwyndolin played the part of a goddess despite his personal feelings. The ring not only reaffirms his conditioning at an early age, but that it also made him miserable, hence the god’s humorless personality in the first game. So, what changed to make Gwyndolin preferable to Lloyd? For one, the prince had finally proven that his father’s plan to use Undead as kindling for the First Flame was a viable system, counter to his fellow gods’ expectations. If nothing else, this would have given him a little more self-confidence. Indeed, the Reversal Ring has been left in the tomb where he previously resided, stored away in one obscure corner, while “Aldrich” lacks the pronounced chest the Darkmoon deity sported in DS1. The man decided to hide his true nature no longer.

Mysterious ring given to the God of the Darkmoon Gwyndolin when he was very young.

Changes movements to that of the opposite sex, female if male and male if female.

It is said that he was raised as a daughter because of his moon power and behaved like a gloomy, miserable goddess.

Gwyndolin likely disapproved of the direction Lloyd had taken the Way of White as well, shifting the focus away from Gwyn and toward himself as the new chief god. The prince had always yearned to be a sun like his father and elder brother but was too insecure about his shameful lineage to come out as a man and contest Lloyd’s power grab; he may have in fact never approved of his great-uncle taking over. One revered his father and desperately sought his approval, the other seems to have envied his nephew’s good fortune in finding ultimate power barely passing over him. Thus, in all likelihood, Gwyndolin had long surmised Lloyd’s disdain for Gwyn and finally decided to contest his great-uncle’s legitimacy. With the basis for his authority swept from under him, Lloyd lost everything except the brand of a pretender. The true chief god was Gwyndolin, and he had big plans for the future of the pantheon.


In With the Old New


The absorption of Undead Burg’s populace into Anor Londo, that city’s abrupt displacement, and the rise of Allfather Gwyndolin set the stage for a new divine capital to come into being. Close examination of Anor Londo’s architecture reveals that it has been renovated, making the newer city built around it a direct extension of the old cathedral. Indeed, many of the same reliefs and designs specific to the Anor Londo style were carried over into Irithyllian architecture, including elements that the gods previously employed in the Ringed City. Therefore, it may be more accurate to call Irithyll a reconstruction of the old city rather than a replacement for it. At the same time, rather than rebuild the city exactly as it was, Anor Londo was reimagined to reflect the changing times. Despite its obvious historical and religious importance, the cathedral enshrining Gwyn, Gwynevere, and — at one point — the firstborn is consistently described as “abandoned” in DS3. The gods’ capital was no longer to be the haven of the sun but the domain of the moon, and decorated accordingly.

The cathedral’s situation at Irithyll’s summit indicates its central importance within the city, and its direct connection to the Anor Londo ruins — complete with a shortcut — further suggest it to have been among the earliest buildings constructed. It only takes one look then to see how this church set the tone for the rest of the city. The stained-glass windows were designed with the crown that Gwyndolin wore in DS1 as their central motif. Statues of the Darkmoon deity resembling his effigies in Oolacile and the Ringed City tower over the bema and adorn the exterior walls. There was a deliberate fusion of the antiquated with the contemporary, reflecting a society which still respected the old but upheld something new. Gwyn’s youngest was now chief among the gods, and he would naturally be the most revered deity in his city of residence. And yet, despite his newfound position of power, the God of the Darkmoon was far humbler than his predecessors.

We pass through a manor guarded by Silver Knights. Descriptions of the knights’ armor confirm that they still serve the royal family the same as always. This loyalty has led to them keeping watch over both this mansion and the abandoned cathedral. Gwyndolin is one of those old royals and would naturally be king of the gods as their leader; the severed ears of sinners in the royal bodyguards’ possession does indicate their current obedience to his will and practices. We can thus infer that this estate belonged to Gwyn’s youngest. This notion is reinforced by the paintings hung inside, namely renditions of Anor Londo, the Duke’s Archives, and Gwynevere. These were all people or places associated with Gwyndolin in one form or another and likely to retain sentimental value. In other words, the most powerful god in the pantheon chose to reside in a “small” manor on the corner of town, a stark contrast from the grandiose cathedral and royal manor that dominated Anor Londo and arguably still dominates Irithyll.

Helmet of the Silver Knights who served the former royal family.

It is said that they have continued to protect the small manor and the abandoned church even after the former royal family’s death.

Gwyndolin undoubtedly held the most sway in the city, as seen from the statues of him decorating its core, and the Anor Londo royals were still recognized even after the royal capital’s ruin. The Roster of Knights lists names of Darkmoon covenanters from the age of the “former” royal family. Yorshka confirms that this order has been defunct ever since Sulyvahn took over, implying that they were active in Irithyll where the roster is found up until that point. By that same token, Gwyndolin was the founder and captain of the Darkmoon Knights, meaning that the royal family must have remained current in Irithyll before the order’s collapse. In fact, the Silver Knight armor descriptions note how they still serve the old royalty even after the family’s passing, and the only member confirmed dead when our journey begins is its head, Gwyndolin, and only recently. Therefore, there is no doubt that he ruled Irithyll as a royal of Anor Londo yet chose to live similar to the rest of its residents.

Knight roster of the age of the former royal family. Thing of the order of knights which bears the name of the Darkmoon.

Be able to confirm Darkmoon knights.

It is known to only a limited number of people. It seems to be an order of knights that exists in the shadows.

Much of this lifestyle can be traced to the god’s personality. As noted earlier, Gwyndolin has always been shy on account of his past and upbringing. While he may have gained confidence in his identity as the rightful leader of his tribe, he would still feel some insecurity over that very public role. Even after gaining absolute authority, Irithyllian statues of him still obscure his face and omit his serpent legs from their depiction, show his continued shame in his appearance and desire to hide or downplays these more embarrassing aspects. The god could never be portrayed with the same audacious energy of his father or brother. Likewise, he had been living in his father’s ceremonial tomb for years before that, thus no stranger to modest accommodations. He probably simply didn’t feel comfortable with too much excess.

At the same time, it wasn’t as if he chose the life of a beggar. Greirat describes Irithyll as a city of noble families. But should he fail to infiltrate the city for a heist, his corpse will be found in the sewers beneath Gwyndolin’s home specifically. This implies that the god was among these “nobility” whom Greirat intended to steal from. His home is still a manor, the largest in town, with its own dedicated kitchen and prep area for servants. Regardless of his personal humility, Gwyndolin still grew up a royal and would live by some comparable standards. He simply didn’t significantly elevate those standards above the rest of the aristocratic citizens populating the city. Indeed, the crown “Aldrich” wears derives clear inspiration from both Gwyndolin’s Crown of the Dark Sun and the crowns worn by Gwyn and the firstborn during their reigns over Anor Londo, demonstrating his resolve to carry on their legacy as the king of the gods.

Ah, you, I heard. You found that Irithyll of the Cold Valley, right? If it’s like the legends, it’s an old city of moon nobles, sure to be overflowing with treasure…

Taken together, the prince was satisfied with living in an unassuming home from where he could commute directly to the massive cathedral worshiping him, past the statues of clerics “greeting” the royal passerby and up the personal lift to the parish plaza. And this meekness resulted in another god taking the forefront. Throughout Irithyll, there are statues of a crowned woman kneeling with arms outstretched as if engaging in conversation. This imbues the figure with an aura of royalty, docility, and sociability. Only one woman matches this description: Gwynevere. Recall that Gwyndolin’s home is the royals’ manor, and his elder sister was the only other legitimate member of royalty left. Considering the Darkmoon deity’s past admiration for his elder sibling, why not accept her into his home? Indeed, on his way to the cathedral, he would approach some sort of offering shrine to her statue, and it is undoubtedly hers.

The statue is featured most numerously in the massive courtyard behind the cathedral, decorating the garden alongside the well-trimmed trees, shrubs, and purple flowers. This association with nature befits the goddess of good harvests, as does the warmth of greenery compared to the cold white snow characterizing so much of the city. And despite the figure wearing dissimilar clothes from Gwynevere’s depiction in DS1, both outfits do share small ties on the upper arm, a detail which wasn’t included in the original concept art; their lack of shoes is another commonality. At the very least, Gwyndolin was commissioning statues of his sister for his and Irithyll’s viewing pleasure. And there is reason to believe that these figures were also reflecting a goddess present as part of the royal household.

We can acquire Divine Blessings from Gwyndolin’s manor. Aside from the one obtained from the Silver Knight staring at her portrait — evidently a fan who received her favor — her holy water is kept in storage along with the Leo Ring and Smough’s Great Hammer. Both items belonged to bosses encountered at the Anor Londo cathedral in DS1 and were presumably collected by Gwyndolin after their deaths. This is further evidenced by the shrine handmaid selling Smough’s armor after we defeat “Aldrich”, implying that the god had even kept the executioner’s armor in his possession. Gwyndolin never personally owned one of Gwynevere’s blessed vials after her departure from Anor Londo, so it too must have been collected from its original owner after the events of DS1. Even Greirat collects both Divine Blessings and their chilled counterpart during his Irithyll heist, which his corpse’s location proves had included the royals’ manor.

Add to that, Gwyndolin had been handing out the Darkmoon Ring to excellent knights of his covenant according to its description. The design is identical to the Darkmoon Blade Covenant Ring from DS1, but that ring was provided upon entry to the covenant when there was still no excellence to be had. This version also has a different effect, functioning similar to the Darkmoon Seance Ring used by Gwyndolin’s priests in DS1 but extra potent; said priest ring is likewise no longer needed to break the illusion blocking access to Gwyn’s tomb. With their god’s rise in the mainstream faith, Darkmoon priests would probably be replaced by their Way of White counterparts. However, this change also implies that Gwyndolin no longer needed a means to summon Blades for emergencies — namely, someone disrupting his illusion of Gwynevere. DS1 had established him to be covering for her secret departure with the rest of the gods, so his apparent loss of concern for her illusion of presence in Lordran can only mean that she gained an actual presence in the Boreal Valley.

Ring of God of the Darkmoon Gwyndolin, youngest child of Oldest King Gwyn.

Greatly increases memory slots.

It is said that Gwyndolin, who is called Sun of the Shadows, led the Darkmoon Knights and gave this ring to excellent knights.

Therefore, Gwynevere came back to Gwyndolin and rose to prominence in Irithyll, to no one’s surprise — she was already popular among humans and active in social spheres during Anor Londo’s heyday. What is a shock is that she would return to the limelight. She wanted to escape her royal duties and live out an anonymous life with her beloved Flann, away from the political turmoil. What changed? Gwyndolin’s newfound success may have moved her to abide by her duties for the betterment of their tribe. DS1 also implied that she was hiding under Lloyd’s patronage, so his downfall directly affected her ability to remain a secret. Moreover, Gwyndolin’s newfound confidence possibly came with a refusal to continue covering for her. With her younger brother no longer under her thumb, the goddess was certainly in a vulnerable position. And she not only had herself to worry about, but a family as well.

The Dancer is described as a descendant of the royalty, even inheriting the aurora veil that is apparently a legacy of Anor Londo. Likewise, the Dancer’s soul can be transposed into one of Gwynevere’s miracles, meaning that she would have to be her descendant, most likely her daughter. And if Gwynevere had her daughter with her in the world of man, then the child was probably born between her and Flann after they eloped. But Flann himself is notably absent from the record. Clearly, he has been out of the picture for some time, leaving Gwynevere to raise and protect their progeny all on her own. Is it any wonder that she would return to her royal station and obligations if only to secure a better life for the family she cares about? This and the other factors give ample reason for the princess to return as a leading figure in Irithyll. One could argue that she had no choice. Her brother was now the head of the family and effectively the most powerful being in the religious and political world, and he fully intended to have his sister return to the fold, among others.


Reviving the Divine


While Gwyndolin’s intent to rebuild the divine capital is undeniable, there is only one reason to commit to this project: repopulation. Ignoring its historical, religious, and sentimental value, Anor Londo had already been long abandoned. Why would Gwyndolin bother rebuilding a city if it continued to be a ghost town? Welcoming in the Undead in Lordran wouldn’t change that. The answer is that all of the god’s efforts have been for the purpose of restoring his father’s kingdom to its former glory. The divine populace that left was just another piece needed to reform the whole. With the Age of Fire extended and a new city to call home, the other gods had no excuse for choosing to remain in the world of man. And having secured his power within the pantheon, Gwyndolin has made sure that none will.

While the localization dubs this face option as simply “Irithyllian”, the Japanese is more accurately its “Sign” or “Indication”. (徴) This is because it is the countenance of the old gods, which is rare to find and destined to be welcomed by Irithyll. This tells us two things. One, that in mingling with their worshipers, at least some gods have sired children with humans going back generations, resulting in them bearing facial features distinct to the medials. And two, that Irithyll has been visiting these rare medial descendants and welcoming them into its society. The reason is obvious. Gwyndolin has been collecting any drop of divine blood there is into his city. Even if you are human, you are still related to a god and thus holier than other men. Your special blood thus affords you special treatment above the common man, much like with a traditional class system. Many gods were nobility in Anor Londo, and so their human descendants are treated the same, hence why Irithyll is described as a country of aristocrats.

Irithyll’s Sign

Countenance of the old gods, said to seldom be seen around. However, it is instead considered a symbol of ill omen. “For a welcome will one day come from the Cold Valley.”

This again might reflect on Gwyndolin’s personal circumstances given that he too wasn’t a pureblooded medial. However, it affirms that the medials were a dying race. If their divine forefathers were still around, these humans should have already been known quantities in whatever corner of the world they lived, revered as demigods or some similar holy being. Instead, Irithyll alone actively seeks out humans with their traits and still hasn’t found them all by the present day. That scenario is indicative of a bloodline that has been spread thin across various branches and lives in relative obscurity. Whether the progeny were the product of love or mere pleasure, their families clearly have long since fallen apart. Otherwise, Irithyll would be a city of divinity like Anor Londo and not just nobility. Instead, there are no obvious gods living in the city besides the royalty, making it far more likely that the populace consisted almost entirely of aristocratic humans fortunate enough to bear obvious relation to the revered medials.

While some fans might point to the Silver Knights as examples of more medials still surviving in the land of the gods, these aren’t the same enemies encountered in DS1 — they are weak to the Hollowslayer Greatsword, indicating them to be Undead and thus human. Indeed, some Irithyllian statues depict a young squire holding a Silver Knight’s straight sword in a manner reminiscent of Anor Londo’s Silver Knight statues. Evidently, the original Silver Knights have died out since the events of DS1, necessitating a new generation carry on their age-old traditions and fighting style. These statues are propaganda for the local citizens to embody the same chivalric virtues as the Silver Knights if not try and be knighted themselves. And these new knights were recruited not from medials but humans. This would explain why they occasionally draw out the power of lightning from their holy weapons when attacking, an attempt to project legitimacy absent pure medial blood.

While doubtful to have been Gwyndolin’s first choice, there was no better option for restoring their clan. If most gods had died or gone missing by that point, wouldn’t the rightful inheritors of their legacy be their descendants? Likewise, wouldn’t most humans be happy with receiving land, status, and wealth from a country claiming to be their homeland? Most probably never even knew of their divine lineage until officials from the country said to be home to the Allfather came by to pick them up. It would be surreal if not bizarre for the humans involved, sure, but it would also be very tempting. At the same time, the description for the Irithyllian face option implies that this invitation wasn’t optional, so it wasn’t as if they could continue on with their current lives anyway. The chief god wanted to rebuild the old system regardless of the racial makeup of his subjects or their willingness to relocate. Everyone had duties or obligations to fulfill on account of their blood, and that was that.


Name and Place


Due to the rather obvious meaning behind “Anor Londo” in Sindarin, fans have attempted to use the same method to decipher its successor. While etymological results vary, they generally agree that the name derives from ithil, the Elven word for “moon” — the lunar body taking a prominent role in the area, being set at night when we explore it. However, this connection isn’t as obvious when looking at the original name. Irithyll is more accurately rendered as Iruthyll (イルシール) compared to the Japanese for ithil or isil. (イシル) This doesn’t exclude the name from receiving inspiration from Tolkien’s fictional languages, but it does show that the answer isn’t as clear cut as the direct translation of Anor Londo. Rather, there may be a different if not joint meaning in the name, possibly rooted in the game’s setting.

Neighboring Anor Londo was Oolacile, which derives its name from the Demon’s Souls character Oolan. Likewise, the similarities between Oolacile (Uurashiiru) and Irithyll (Irushiiru) make it possible to instead translated the latter as “Irucile”. Perhaps the suffix -cile denotes something like “city” or “country” in the medials’ language, hence the commonality. Regardless, the underlying reason may have been to reflect a similar inspiration by the writers. Oolacile takes its name from the descendant of a much older civilization that practiced ominous and disreputable magic, accurately reflecting the country’s identity and history as experienced in DS1. Perhaps Irithyll too incorporates the name of a character from another FromSoftware property? In that case, the name most closely matches that of Pthumeru Ihyll (Tumeru Iru) — the royal capital of a civilization with special blood in Bloodborne, named after a woman who was made their first king after their gods had left them; parallels can certainly be drawn with Irithyll.

Aside from the name, there is also geography. Although Anor Londo enjoyed a temperate climate atop a mountain, its ruins now lay buried in a cold valley. Naturally, a river originating from behind Lothric streams down into this gorge from seemingly underground, redirected to then flow through the city sewer system. None of this explains the frigid temperature giving the Boreal Valley its name, however. While there were definitely snowtop mountains bordering southern Lordran, none were within Anor Londo’s vicinity. By that same token, it is unusual for an open valley to entrap so much cold air compared to the surrounding forests. This has led fans to postulate more unnatural causes for the cold concentrating around the city. Indeed, we can also see an aurora draped over Irithyll despite the otherwise temperate location, so it may very well be that these wintry anomalies are the result of more supernatural forces. If so, then they have been at work there for a very long time.

The Budding Green Blossom is a variant of the Green Blossoms found in the surrounding region. It is exclusive to the Boreal Valley due to its white flowers that bloom in specifically chilly climates while the water remains unfrozen. Likewise, the Rime-blue Moss Clump is a variant of the other moss clumps found in the surrounding forests. It too is only ever found in and around the Boreal Valley, having evolved to retain heat despite the chilly environment. Both evolved specifically to thrive in a frigid environment strained for warmth and energy, which is why they aid in dealing with the frostbite status effect. It is unlikely that such flora adapted to a recent change in weather. The Boreal Valley has to have been cold for much longer, perhaps as long as Irithyll itself has been situated in it. This is supported by the fact that the aforementioned statues of Gwynevere portray her in much heavier and less revealing clothing, which would only be natural when living in a region dominated by snow and cold winds. Consequently, this climate has to have remained with Irithyll for much of its history.

Green weed like a large flower. Small white flowers have bloomed.

Temporarily greatly raises stamina recovery speed.

The flowers of the Green Flower Weed are illusory flowers. It is said that they only bloom on cold yet unfrozen waterfronts.

There are only two possibilities for a supernatural explanation: either it was an unintentional side effect of some magical incident, or a willful act. If magic is to blame, it is a spell that no one has done anything about in all of the country’s years, a testament to the source’s power or authority. So who or what had the capability of artificially generating the cold, a presence in the valley at the time it was conjured, a reason for causing it, and been in a position where the person or thing wouldn’t face pushback? The most viable suspect is Gwyndolin — a powerful sorcerer present in the valley since before Irithyll’s foundation and likely experienced with cold magic. Littering the god’s manor are vases containing particularly chilly air, hence their purpose was probably to absorb cold around the house like a sort of heater. We are unable to confirm if other manors have a similar setup, but the vessels’ simplicity suggests a magical origin to their effect while their placement suggests a creation under Gwyndolin’s purview. He is the right person in the right place at the right time. So, does he have the right motive?

On the one hand, the cold environment may have been magically beneficial. Blue Bug Pellets are made in Irithyll from crushed “moon bugs” whose bodies are steeped in magic power as seen in the item’s menu graphic, hence why the pellets increases one’s resistance to magic. And since these bugs “run rampant” in Irithyll, one could argue that the cold environment is conducive to creatures that absorb magic power, which might benefit sorcerers. However, there is no evidence of the moon bugs thriving specifically because of the cold. Indeed, such pellets can be found at the Road of Sacrifices, making the bugs not exclusive to the valley at the very least. Considering their name, they presumably absorb magic power from the moon’s rays, and we can see firsthand how clearly the moon shines upon the valley. In other words, the bugs proliferation can be credited to the location’s better access to moonlight more than anything. This is especially relevant since Oolacile in DS1 was a temperate land radiating magic power in its very air even centuries after the country’s destruction.

Oral medicine that was a kind of insect pulverized and rolled up. The blue one temporarily boosts magic power cut rate.

A secret medicine that the slaves of Irithyll make. Moon bugs run rampant in the Cold Valley.

If creating an environment more conducive to magic is out, then what about personal reasons? Perhaps the God of the Darkmoon simply preferred the cold? It wouldn’t be surprising considering his origins. His mother was imprisoned in the cold world of the Ariamis painting, where he had likely been born and nurtured for at least a brief time. Perhaps he felt nostalgic and magically chilled the valley to be more to his liking? Or perhaps it was less for him and more for those who spent far more time in the painting world? Yorshka is a dragon crossbreed as well as Gwyndolin’s younger sister. This fact alone has caused confusion for some fans since item descriptions in DS1 claims the deity was Gwyn’s lastborn while those in DS3 refer to him as just the youngest son. However, both games are actually referring to him as the “youngest child”, (末子) so there is no discrepancy. It is impossible for Gwyn to have sired Yorshka since Gwyndolin was his last.

Thus, the two are half-siblings sharing a mother, not a father. And Yorshka’s relation to Priscilla is apparent. Aside from the two sharing physical traits of white-scaled dragons, the girl mentions being ignorant of the world as if having lived her life contained in an isolated area, long before her current imprisonment. And when pondering how we managed to reach her atop the tower, she considers us being a dragon or a crow — both creatures she considers to be “nostalgic” and that could be found within the painting in DS1. The question is not if Yorshka is Priscilla’s daughter, but why she has decided to move in with her brother rather than stay in the only home she had apparently known for so long? Tragedy may be the answer. Since painting guardians and corvians were among those who ended up in Drangleic in DS2, it is highly likely that the painting was also transported farther north. Retracing the route that we would normally take to reach the Ariamis gallery doesn’t even lead us to any surviving ruins. In their place sits the more recently constructed Church of Yorshka.

As the name suggests, this church is most likely dedicated to the crossbreed. A cathedral dedicated to Gwyndolin is just down the road, so it isn’t as if a second place of worship was needed. Rather, the Allfather wanted a place where citizens could pay reverence to his sister, perhaps as she helped with some day-to-day operations. This would explain why her cut equipment is dubbed the “holy woman” (聖女) set. Yorshka may not be recognized as a legitimate god herself, but her closeness to one with his favor makes her just as venerable. Either way, the church was undoubtedly built for the painting world’s inhabitants. Its cemetery has one headstone that stands out. Its larger size implies that the occupant is similarly larger than the average human. This is also the only part of the graveyard surrounded by purple flowers, imbuing the grave with additional importance. Likewise, a corvian can be spotted paying his respects, so the deceased must have some connection to Velka or Ariamis. There is only one person who fits these two criteria: Priscilla.

After the half-dragon’s death, her body ended up in the Boreal Valley like Yorshka. This means that the Church of Yorshka wasn’t built just in honor of Gwyndolin’s sister but also their mother and perhaps others. Priscilla’s grave is accompanied by many smaller tombstones, suggesting that others connected to the crossbreed were buried with her. The corvian plus the corpse manifesting a homeward bone whilst laying against the grave reinforces the impression of painting residents’ presence in the city. This only strengthens the reasons for making Yorshka central to this church, giving a place of honor to both Ariamis inhabitants who have been lost and were still around. It probably wasn’t primarily a place of worship, as the church houses fancy chairs instead of pews indicating more of a meeting or rest area. But even if it was just a monument to the Allfather’s birthplace, Priscilla’s death explains her daughter’s decision to vacate the painting and live with her elder half-brother in Irithyll.

While her younger sister’s duty required her to remain in the painting, Yorshka may have felt obligated to share the news of their mother’s demise with the other other child in the family, bringing the remains into the outside world along with her. And after meeting his estranged side of the tree, Gwyndolin evidently decided to take in his half-sister and care for her in Irithyll, gifting her a holy bell, name, and church where the dead could be buried. If this occurred before the foundation of Irithyll or early in its history, then it is entirely feasible for the god to have induced the valley’s cold climate — long enough ago that the flora and fauna would evolve around it. The fading souls two corpses in the cemetery carry suggest that it has been around for a good while, at least. And considering how he went so far to honor his estranged family in their “original” location, Gwyndolin definitely had the motive. And whether that be nostalgia for his birthplace or consideration for his sister, the act itself has characterized the valley ever since.


Ethereal Moon


Cold isn’t Irithyll’s only notable characteristic, however. Both the city itself and several items associated with it are described as maboroshi. (幻) This term commonly refers to illusions, but it more generally describes something being somehow intangible or unreal. Thus, the descriptions of Irithyll as “legendary” lean more toward it being fantastical rather than simply famous. The same holds true for descriptions of the budding green blossoms’ “ethereal” flowers or the Dancer’s “mirage-like” aurora veil. The consistent imagery in these allusions suggests something that feels unreal to the eyes. In other words, it refers to Irithyll’s aesthetic. Indeed, as soon as we come upon the city, we are met with a seemingly impossible sight: a snow white metropolis in the middle of a temperate forest crowned with the vibrant colors of an aurora bathing the cityscape. Such a place would for sure normally be just a fairy tale, hence fans’ interest in explaining the bizarre climate. But is it just a metaphor?

Crown of the Dancer of the Cold Valley.

It is said that the illusion-like aurora veil was permitted only to descendants of the former royal family and is a legacy of the old gods.

Cut content reveals that Irithyll was originally to be set in a desert, where the player would eventually trigger the “true” city to reveal itself, implying that the initial Irithyll experience was some sort of actual illusion. However, any connection between this scrapped story concept and the descriptions seen in the final game are thematic at most. There is no evidence to suggest that the city we explore is somehow fake beyond the potentially artificial origin of the valley’s cold, and the general concept seems to have been repurposed for The Ringed City DLC. It is more likely that this illusory theme is a remnant of the scrapped concept after it evolved into the city being fantastical rather than fake. This notion of a “true city” may have also influenced the reveal of Irithyll’s connection to Anor Londo, hence why the ruins are constantly obscured by a convenient fog until we finally reach them. Either way, it reaffirms the notion that the city is supposed to give off a less than mundane aura compared to the rest of the areas that we can explore in-game while being entirely authentic.

This mystique carried over into the city’s culture. The Dancer wears the aforementioned aurora veil along with other long, flowing clothing with the same translucent material — banners cut from such cloth were likewise added to the ruined cathedral. Even the color scheme of the city and its dress are steeped in blues, silvers, and whites in contrast to the warmer greens, browns, and yellows seen in other areas. Thus, everything about Irithyll seems designed to complement its snowy land, cold water, and ethereal sky. However, that wasn’t the only element that influenced its development. While Gwyndolin was now the head of the Way of White, he remained the leader of the Darkmoon faith. Recall that the Blades of the Darkmoon were active in Irithyll during the old royalty’s reign. The god didn’t abandon his original worshipers. If anything, their influence grew with his supremacy over the pantheon.

While the Way of White as a whole hasn’t fundamentally changed as a result of Gwyndolin replacing Lloyd, its church in Irithyll certainly has. If the chief god heavily influenced the local practices and beliefs, the same should hold true with his cult of followers. The Darkmoon faith was originally comprised of very few worshipers based in the abandoned city of Anor Londo, resulting in them developing heterodoxically from the more orthodox religions in their isolation. This culture revolved around two aspects of their god: his overall feminine aura, and his affinity for the moon. The latter can be seen in Irithyll’s aforementioned color pallet of blues, whites, and silvers — all colors commonly associated with the heavenly body. In fact, this color association is only emphasized by Irithyll being the sole area in the game set at night, with the moon featured prominently in the sky — adding credence to the notion that it is uniquely different. As for Gwyndolin’s feminine aura, this is expressed much more subtly.

Both Gwyndolin and his followers in DS1 were designed to give off this womanly air, and the same can be said for certain elements of Irithyllian attire. The Outrider Knights originate from the Boreal Valley, with armor sleeker and more tight-fitting than the average knight, making them appear taller, more slender, more curvaceous. All of these are attributes commonly associated with feminine beauty and bring to mind the brass set, whose description now explicitly notes its basis on a young lady’s appearance. It is only fitting that these influences bleed into Irithyllian armor. The Darkmoon faith had been in the country from the start, so of course its ideals of the moon and femininity rooted themselves into the culture, accentuating the city’s unique air. This culture of moon worship is why Greirat associates Irithyll nobility with the lunar body and why statues of robed men prostrate themselves along the main road leading up to the cathedral; it is an expression of their reverence.

Armor of a knight once called by the name of the Darkmoon. It is said that the brass thing hides something repulsive.

It, in some respects, has the figure of a young woman in its appearance.

Even the use of maboroshi as the area’s chief characteristic can be related to this moon culture. Maboroshi no tsuki (幻の月) is a not unprecedented way of describing an “illusory” or “ethereal” moon, highlighting an otherworldly quality to the heavenly body. Meanwhile, gengetsu (幻月) uses the same kanji to refer to the paraselene phenomenon, where moonlight refracting through atmospheric ice crystals causes the moon to shine significantly brighter in the sky. This perfectly encapsulates Irithyll’s ethos, combining the cold of the valley with reverence for moonlight to create an unearthly mystique for the entire nation. Ultimately, it was a country built by a Darkmoon deity. The moon is beautiful but fleeting, with a ghostly glow unlike the warmth of the sun. And that image permeated every aspect of the culture.


Knightfall


With these characteristic elements in mind, Irithyll and the Sunless Realms are most likely one and the same. The most obvious indicator is the latter’s name. The original Japanese more accurately translates to the “Country of Nightfall”. (薄暮の国) The Sunless Realms are not multiple dominions but one nation state. Likewise, it is not described as being without the sun so much as being in the latest stage of twilight, where the sun is just short of completely setting and blanketing the world in the dark of night. This imagery is a dead ringer for the prolific symbol of the Darkmoon — consistently portrayed as a crescent moon where the moonlight is a mere sliver and thus just short of extinguishing the sun’s reflected light from the dark night sky. Both draw upon this idea of sunlight close to the Dark, hence the name “Country of Nightfall” can be considered a poetic way of saying the “country of the Darkmoon”, or Irithyll. Even ignoring the name, we encounter  two citizens of the Sunless Realms, both of whose origins can be traced to Gwyndolin’s city.

Apparel of a knight of the Country of Nightfall that is known to oppose magic power and the Dark.

It combines a silk veil and a silver crown.

Knights of Nightfall are those who serve the nameless moon and thus this apparel is endowed with a feminine silhouette.

The more obvious of the two is Sirris, a former Darkmoon knight given that speaking to her unlocks the Darkmoon Loyalty gesture needed to join the covenant. She also knows how to perform Darkmoon Blade and wields the Sunless Talisman, which looks identical to DS1’s Darkmoon Talisman. Even her preferred weapon of a choice, an estoc, is the starting weapon of the assassin class — fitting for one who eliminates the gods’ enemies. To top it off, Sirris admits to having once served a god or gods. But the order is based in Irithyll with no indication of it existing beyond the Boreal Valley, so if a Darkmoon knight is a “Knight of Nightfall”, then it is only natural to assume Irithyll be the Country of Nightfall. Likewise, her uniform includes a silver crown and silk veil reminiscent of the Dancer’s Crown, with the rest of the attire bearing the color scheme seen with almost everything else Irithyllian. She even visits the city limits while hunting a finger of Rosaria, confirming that she knows how to get to the land of legend.

Sunless Talisman (left) compared to Darkmoon Talisman (center, right)

I am Sirris of the Country of Nightfall. One who once served God.

Hodrick on the other hand has a much less obvious connection. Unlike Sirris, neither his armor nor his arsenal matches the Irithyllian culture previously established in either form or coloring. However, this is due to his particular career. Descriptions of Hodrick’s armor clarify that he was a holy knight of the Sunless Realms, his golden armor and fire-emblazoned shield symbolizing the color of a sunset. In other words, these holy knights were representing the idea of “nightfall” by focusing on the fire and sunlight aspects rather than the closeness to the dark of night and the moon that Sirris embodies. This also explains why he wields a flamberge, a weapon that references fire in both its name and appearance. This is relevant because the Fire Witches walking Irithyll’s streets were once holy knights as well. Much like Hodrick, these holy knights are associated with fire. In fact, the order being focused around the fire of sunset explains why the witches specifically were chosen to wield such fire.  Therefore, it is incredibly likely that Hodrick too originated from Irithyll.

Shield given to holy knights of the Country of Nightfall.

A blazing fire design is depicted within the color of sunset, which is the symbolic color of the holy knights of Nightfall. This is the seal of one who carries as well as opposes fire.

Of course, none of this explains why the Sunless Realms is not simply called Irithyll if they are the same place, though it may be narrative convenience. Before we acquire the Silver Doll at the Cathedral of the Deep, Irithyll is almost never mentioned by its actual name. All items dropped by the Outrider Knights only mention the Boreal Valley in their descriptions. The only exception is the knight found in the Grand Archives, which cannot be accessed until after we have collected the doll. This demonstrates the developers’ desire to hide the true nature of the name “Irithyll” until that point. Although players have probably already seen the “Irithyll’s Sign” and the Irithyll Straight Sword, their accompanying texts never explicitly link the Boreal Valley to a country, leaving the term ambiguous. That said, the delay is odd since various outsiders are aware of the legendary city despite having never been there in-person.

Nonetheless, the fact the remains that FromSoftware wanted to avoid directly identifying the country of the Boreal Valley until after we acquired the silver doll. Both Sirris and Hodrick can be encountered, killed, and looted before this event, thus they too had to not in any way reference their homeland by name. The result is Sirris and all unique items tied to her only mentioning an obscure country of Nightfall. As for why she claims to hail from there, “Country of Nightfall” may just be the formal designation that Darkmoon knights use for Irithyll when outside its borders. They are a secretive organization, and their duties require they travel beyond the valley to locate and eliminate sinners. Perhaps they avoid revealing themselves to be from the legendary “Irithyll” so as to not give away their identities and presence in the area to their targets, hence the opaque description. Or maybe it is a byproduct of her devotion to the Darkmoon faith, framing the country with it at the forefront.

Whatever the specific reason for Sirris’ odd turn of phrase, it is clear that the Sunless Realms and Irithyll refer to the same place. And because of this, she and Hodrick give us even more insight into the nation’s culture. For one, we can observe that the Darkmoon Knight uniform is endowed with a feminine vibe the same as the brass armor set, and vague similarities between the two sets can be seen when compared side-by-side. Not only has the Darkmoon faith remained consistent over the countless years, they had formalized their ideals so that all the knights would dress with the same feminine aura as the god they served. The Darkmoon Knights had become more organized as their faith grew in prominence, not less, which fits with the proliferation of their beliefs in Irithyll.

Brass set (left) compared to Sunless set (right)

Their practices and teachings too seem to have undergone a similar formalization. According to the Sunless Talisman’s description, the Darkmoon Knights are immediately warned about the Darkmoon’s close affinity to the Dark. Considering that the gods’ chief enemies are aligned with the Dark, teaching their assassins this serves as a reminder to not go astray themselves. Although they may use the power of magic, their miracles are to be cast through faith in the gods, not knowledge of the spells’ underlying principles. And while this warning wouldn’t guarantee a knight escape falling to the Dark, it does alert the newly-ordained members that the temptation exists so they can gird themselves appropriately — better that than them accidentally stumbling into it and being swept away with the discovery. The knight roster also demonstrates a marked improvement in their record keeping since DS1, where no such formal member list existed.

Talisman given to knights of Nightfall who serve the nameless moon.

It has unusual intelligence scaling for a miracle catalyst and thus good compatibility with miracles close to the Dark. That is said to be taught first in Nightfall and serves as the initial warning.

However, the most impressive detail is the repeated reference to these Knights of Nightfall serving a “nameless moon”. Sirris does pray that we will have the “divine protection of the moon” similar to worshipers of other faiths hoping that we will have the guidance of fire, but she never once explicitly references this nameless moon. Nevertheless, the individual that Darkmoon knights serve is Gwyndolin, so the nameless moon would presumably refer to him. If so, then why the moniker? Again, it might simply be code employed by his enigmatic cult of followers, though Sirris never utters the phrase herself. However, this designation may harken back to the god’s personality. Gwyndolin has always thought of himself as the “Sun of the Shadows”, and he continued to obscure his appearance in statues even after becoming Allfather. Moreover, he revealed his true sex to claim legitimacy of the title, but his name was still awkward. It would be embarrassing, comical even, for the god who came out as a man to still go by the name of the woman he posed as.

May you have the divine protection of the moon on your journey.

And so, “nameless moon” likely became Gwyndolin’s means of downplaying this embarrassing aspect to his identity. While his true name probably remains in the public record, the new chief god would forego the name “Gwyndolin” in official contexts, instead choosing to be identified as the nameless moon that he has been so strongly associated with. In this way, the Darkmoon deity and all worshipers who recognized him as Allfather wouldn’t highlight his unusual gender history. The only character to actually refer to Gwyndolin by name is Yorshka, who possibly met her brother well before his rise in the Way of White and certainly knows the god well enough to call him such without recourse. Otherwise, the name is only used in descriptions of items that the Darkmoon deity had owned since before his time as the chief god. Every other reference to him is in context of events postdating his rise in the pantheon and avoids addressing him directly. And he would certainly be needing an alias.


Meeting of Two Worlds


When the Old and New Worlds made contact thanks to the drift, Irithyll was once again forced to adapt. According to a pale blue parchment with a crescent moon drawn upon it, the Darkmoon Knights had forged a contract with the Way of Blue a long time ago. Per this accord, the order agreed to answer the summons of any Blue faith member invaded by dark spirits, hunting down the invader. Some have suggested that the concord predates the events of DS2 due to its age, but this is unlikely. It is true that the Blue Sentinels are the estranged offshoot of the Darkmoon knights who had been stranded in Drangleic, a point the description for Blade of the Darkmoon acknowledges. And this mutant covenant did make an identical contract with the Way of Blue. However, that accord was validated by engraved rings rather than writing on parchment, and neither seal representing the agreement from DS2 depicts a crescent moon or crescent moon with blade as seen depicted on the contract for the Blue Sentinels in DS3. The Way of Blue’s concord with the Blades of the Darkmoon is most likely a separate deal.

Pale blue sheepskin parchment. Contain the moon of an old concord.

Equip to become a covenantor of the “Way of Blue”.

The Way of Blue are patrons of an old concord, and when covenantors suffer the invasion of dark spirits, they can acquire the help of blue spirits who hunt the dark spirits.


Silver pendant made in the shape of the Darkmoon and a blade. It is the origin of the Protectors of Blue and crest of Darkmoon knights.

Equip to become a covenantor of the “Blades of the Darkmoon”.

The Blades of the Darkmoon have long confirmed the concord with the Way of Blue, and when covenantors of the Way of Blue suffer the invasion of dark spirits, it is their mission to help and hunt the dark spirits as Darkmoon blades.

Further supporting this notion is the quality of the parchment. While the Way of Blue’s accord has suffered serious deterioration, with torn and ragged edges and holes in the folds, the same cannot be said for the Blue Sentinels’ agreement. Its parchment is in a similar state to more contemporary works like the Sage’s Scroll. If both contracts date as far back as before even the events of DS2, then they should both have suffered more similar levels of decay. Instead, the Blue Sentinels concord appears to have been forged significantly after the contract between the Way of Blue and the Blades of the Darkmoon. Therefore, it stands to reason that these deals were written sometime after the original concord between the Way of Blue and Blue Sentinels was established in the time between the events of DS1 and DS2. The Darkmoon Knights agreed to one deal, and then new terms had to be stipulated with the Blue Sentinels later on.

Way of Blue concord (left) compared to Blue Sentinels concord (right)

More differences between the two game’s contracts can be found in their rewards. Blue Sentinels received Tokens of Fidelity for fulfilling their duties in DS2, although these small trinkets weren’t required to improve one’s standing in the covenant. By contrast, Blue Sentinels in DS3 collect severed ears from their victims the same as the Darkmoon Knights, expressly for the same purpose of making the Blades of the Darkmoon’s existence known and scaring anyone that might otherwise consider committing impiety against the gods. This is a huge shift in the covenant’s methods and motives, meaning that it only developed after the events of DS2. Likewise, the covenant no longer has its own official headquarters like the Cathedral of Blue, at least none we can visit. This means that, aside from personal charity, our actions as Blue Sentinels can only be used to improve our standing as members of the Blades of the Darkmoon. For all intents and purposes, the covenant serves as just a propaganda arm of the Darkmoon Knights.

If these contracts are unrelated to events detailed in DS2, then they are likely another product of the Old and New Worlds establishing contact afterward. Consider the circumstances. The religions that worshiped the First Flame and the Anor Londo pantheon in DS2 had warped until they were almost unrecognizable. But these mutations of the faith were a result of the New World’s isolation from the Old World institutions and cultures. If contact between this offshoot of the faith and the original root has since been reestablished, then all the history that had been gradually lost or twisted over time could be rediscovered. No longer would the New World faiths have to worship gods as remembered in their fallible restored scriptures, they could meet the genuine articles and read the original texts. It is likely for this reason that institutions like the Lindelt Monastery now go unmentioned; they were simply inferior to the Way of White in their knowledge and authority on matters of faith and subsequently collapsed.

Consider also the Way of Blue’s relationship with the Darkmoon Knights. Up until that point, adherents of this impromptu religion were being protected by a derivative of the covenant. Why be protected by a derivative when you have the original? And wouldn’t it be only proper to honor a contract made by your cutoff derivative even if it was done without your knowledge? And so in all likelihood, the two parties reached out to negotiate a deal. Given that its High Priestess, Emma, provides us with one of these concords, the church in Lothric probably worked them out on the entire blue faith’s behalf. Indeed, Irithyll stagnating to the north kingdom kickstarted the reconnect, and it had the hegemonic influence to spread any new contract to both Worlds. Dealing with Lothric specifically when making this contract likewise explains why Darkmoon Blades use a medallion featuring a Lothric Knight sword to be summoned to the concordat’s holders. Once again, the blue faithful would have protection, but they cut out the middleman and went straight to the actual agents of the god of vengeance.

Naturally, this new concord infringed on the Way of Blue’s existing agreement with the Blue Sentinels, but they had a bigger identity crisis on their hands. For one thing, they undoubtedly trace their roots directly to the Darkmoon covenant and have served the same role: punishing sinners. At the same time, the ages had morphed them into an undeniably different organization. The Blades’ Darkmoon culture had all but disappeared from the Sentinels, allowing them to become much more mainstream and widespread in DS2 than the Darkmoon Knights ever had in DS1. These conflicting elements beg a deeper question: Do the Blue Sentinels fold back into the Blades of the Darkmoon and embrace Darkmoon worship or do they maintain their religious freedom and independence despite serving a redundant purpose to their gods?

Wrestling with this very dilemma is most likely why the Blue Sentinels concord of DS3 was ultimately formed. Evidently, the Blue Sentinels settled on a compromise. They would maintain their distinct identity and open-armed membership while aiding their predecessors as an affiliate. This would greatly benefit Gwyndolin and his covenant. As noted above, the Blades are by their nature limited in potential recruits. Even after their headquarters changed from Anor Londo to Irithyll, they were still confined to one locations where they would only be able to recruit the local citizens or zealous visitors. This limits the resources that they could devote to meting out the terms of their contract with the Way of Blue. Meanwhile, the Blue Sentinels can recruit just about any god-fearing warrior from anywhere with any motive.

With that in mind, the Blades of the Darkmoon probably agreed to subcontract the work in order to offset their own burden. The Darkmoon Knights had many other enemies of the gods to punish as part of their broad duties, and the Blue Sentinels already had a long track record for protecting a group of the Way of Blue’s scale. While this didn’t mean that a Blade couldn’t answer the summons, as the description for their covenant item asserts that they are still complying with its obligations, Blue Sentinels have been handling the majority of cases. And in exchange, Blue Sentinels are required to leave the same morbid sign on the victims’ bodies as a Blade of the Darkmoon so as to not hinder the Dark Sun’s “eternal mandate” for his followers. This explains why the Japanese description says that they are “taking charge of” the same concord rather than having made a separate one with the Way of Blue. Another indication of this is the depiction of a crescent moon and blade on the contract’s parchment.

Faded sheepskin parchment. Contains the sign of the Darkmoon and a blade.

Equip to become a covenantor of the “Protectors of Blue”.

The Protectors of Blue are taking charge of an old concord, and when covenantors of the Way of Blue suffer an invasion of dark spirits, it is their mission to help as blue spirits and hunt the dark spirits.

Much like the rings of past games, these drawings are most likely magic crests for facilitating the summoning process, hence why the symbol of the Blades of the Darkmoon is employed for both their covenant’s silver pendant and the Blue Sentinels’ contract. When Emma hands over the Way of Blue concord to us, she tells us to etch the crescent moon crest into our hearts in order to invoke the parchments’ summoning power. In other words, patrons of the contract are supposed to mentally internalize its image and what it represents to then catalyze the power contained within it, similar to the process for performing miracles. Once the summoning triggers, a carrier of either covenant’s Darkmoon crest will respond and transport the individual to the patron’s location. In this way, the crescent moon crest of the Way of Blue concord doubles as a destination point for the summoning, similar to when we warp to a bonfire. Because this process and the symbols involved originate with the Darkmoon Knights, it is only natural that they would be the ones setting up this same system for the Blue Sentinels’ contract.

The result is the Blue Sentinels thriving again after probably a long struggle to define themselves in this convergence of two worlds. The Blades of the Darkmoon were able to maximize their efforts and promotion while minimizing costs, and the Way of Blue had no reason to object to summoning Blue Sentinels since they were now sanctioned by the actual god of vengeance. Still, it wasn’t the only example of a culture clash. Fans of DS2 will recognize the Sunset Shield that Hodrick carries as the Mirrah Shield, which was employed by that country’s chivalric order with different meanings behind the imagery. Whether or not Mirrah still exists, it is clear that Irithyll has replicated the New World country’s shield for its own knights — it certainly wouldn’t be the first time that another nation had swiped elements of Mirrah culture. Either way, it serves as another example of Irithyll’s relations with the lands to the far north.

Sunset Shield (left) compared to Mirrah Shield (right)

This reunion of culture came with a bit of cross-pollination. One corpse in Irithyll carries the Witchtree Branch. Because this leafless species of tree that roams New World forests possesses great magic power, its body was turned into a weapon for sorcerers, a common practice to this day according to the staff’s description. This, along with the note that this particular “big” tree was “raised” by someone, indicates that the corpse acquired the branch from the very tree it sits under. And it potentially isn’t alone, as there are identical trees all around Irithyll. It certainly suits a city ruled by a sorcerer, and there are already other trees native to the far north growing in the region. Still, the fact that any such tree has grown there, especially by someone’s will, means that Irithyll has become interwoven with the New World, at least through the drift.

Staff that acts as a sorcery catalyst. Branch of a big witchtree that someone raised.

Witchtree staves are a customary practice of the far north and feature shorter chants than normal staves.

One more effect of this cultural diffusion was the exchange of information. Among the paintings found in Gwyndolin’s manor, three portray people or places from the New World — namely Brume Tower, Eleum Loyce, and Queen Nashandra. This implies that Gwyndolin had a vested interested in these three, enough to commission paintings of them. The latter in particular is notable since the original full-body portrait of Nashandra was so accurate that it cursed anyone in proximity to it the same as the Queen herself, imeaning that Gwyndolin either owned a mere recreation or had eliminated the curse effect by cropping her figure. Either way, fans of DS2 will notice that all three relate to the children of Dark, indicating that Gwyndolin learned about these cursed creatures of the Dark lurking in Drangleic, perhaps even meeting two of them. Whether the god visited the locations himself or simply sent others to provide a picture, he was clearly fascinated by their existence more than anything else in that part of the world. It was time to look outward again and restore the gods’ order.