Latria


Preface


Latria’s place in the narrative is two-fold. First, it serves to show that evil exists and will commit terrible atrocities if given the power to make its will reality. Second, it highlights the oftentimes arbitrary distinctions regarding the concept of humanity. It is ingrained in our psyche to look at such horrors with revulsion, to disassociate them from the behavior of a rational man. Implicit to such reactions is the notion that humans are good, and yet it is undeniable that humans are the ones committing evil. Therefore, we instinctively dehumanize evil doers as monsters or demons, anything but us. At the same time, we look to approach the human ideal, the pinnacle of good. But in striving to reach this ideal, we reveal our own deficiencies as men and so perceive this perfect state as divine. But then wouldn’t that make it not much different from monsters by our own definition? Exploring the role of malice in blurring the lines between demon and man and god and demon is what makes Latria so provocative.


Land of the Learned


The Tower of Latria is more accurately called “Latria of the Tower”, (塔のラトリア) and the text for its Nexus Archstone describes it as the country of the Ivory Tower — clearly, this building is central to the nation. The Japanese text for the Maneater’s Archstone confirms that the predominant building in the second zone for this area is this Ivory Tower, so the name isn’t indicative of its color or construction. The phrase itself is shorthand for academia and its elitist culture immersed in hypotheticals and theories while wholly disconnected from the worldly concerns of the uneducated masses. We can thereby infer that the Ivory Tower was an institution of higher learning where privileged members of Latrian society could engage in closed-door research. The Nexus Archstone’s depiction of robed old men experimenting with beakers and other labware supports this notion. Moreover, the soul arts are the tower’s likely field of study given the association between magic and knowledge. Latria is thus a country characterized by its distinctly rational approach to magic. This academic format didn’t necessarily make it wholly different from the other pagan cultures’ use of the soul arts, however.

The Monumental only mentions the tower in conjunction with its former queen. Latria’s last ruler was also a woman, making it highly probable for the royal government to be a matriarchy. The reason is likely due to their magical talent. When describing the woman who they entrusted with an Archstone, the Monumental also notes the queen’s intelligence, implying that she herself was a student of the tower and someone with a profound knowledge and mastery of the soul arts. The same is true for Latria’s last queen, who is described as having been an excellent sorcerer in her own right. If Latrian royalty is hereditary, then this magic talent of theirs is also inherited; women do have a more natural disposition for it. And for a culture based around the rational study of the soul, it only makes sense to have the most powerful sorcerer govern the kingdom. It is no accident that a throne room is at the top of the tallest tower situated directly adjacent to the Ivory Tower. Latria is ruled by queens because women of the royalty have consistently produced the most talented sorcerers in the country. And the country absolutely reveres them.

Magic that manifested from the soul of the demon “Fool’s Idol”. Fires a light of souls that pierces targets.

The idol was in the form of the now nonexistent Queen of Latria. This magic might show part of the power of the woman who was also an excellent sorcerer.

The Nexus Archstone depicts the Queen with a halo, imbuing her with an aura of holiness. It and a stained glass window’s depiction of the woman both decorate her clothes with crosses, another holy symbol common to Christian iconography. Indeed, latria refers to adoration for God alone in Roman Catholic theology. This sense of religiosity carries over to the throne room with its wall-to-wall stained glass windows seen in Christian churches. The throne itself bears all sorts of religious imagery. The design of a rose window employed in Gothic cathedrals is centered behind a woman wielding a staff in her left hand, which represents royal authority. She emanates light from amongst the clouds and flowing feathers symbolizing divinity and spiritual freedom. Directly beneath her feet floats a cross-armed angelic figure bathing cherubim below in a similar aura of light, female angels flying away as if responding to its will. Above her head flies a Pegasus, another symbol of spiritual freedom. All of this conveys a royal soul in feminine form transcending physical limits as the greatest good — the divine. The chamber evidently seated the Queen originally, and she was considered the holy of holies.

With the Queen revered so, one might wonder what role the nobility played in politics. Almost all instances of “royal” would more accurately be rendered as “noble”. The once royal mistress is in fact a “former noble lady”, (元貴婦人) the Royal Lotus is in truth the “noble’s lotus”, (貴族のロートス) and the royalty class is in actuality a “noble” background. In short, most of the characters and items we come across in Latria are related to various noble bloodlines rather than strictly the Queen’s immediate family. The text for Latria’s Archstone only mentions that the Queen’s “clan” (一族) had been imprisoned, and we can see that this clan even includes nobles. The prisoners thus encompass at least the Queen’s court. And given the complex web of blood relations typical for royalty and the aristocracy, this tribe likely refers to the upper class in general if not the entire populace. With all this in mind, nobility are portrayed pretty consistently regardless of country of origin.

Aristocrats live in extravagance, wearing silver and gold trinkets commonly ornamented with large gems to complement their elegant garments. The description for the ornate Ring of Avarice even notes that it is a symbol of wealth and debauchery in the sense of prodigality — they have plenty to spend. The ex-noblewoman notes that she has collected a fair number of items due to being the wife of nobility. These include fresh and old spices — a common luxury good for the wealthy in medieval Europe — as well as a rapier. We can acquire another such rapier in Latria’s sardonically-named Prison of Hope or by picking a noble background, which fits with the thrusting weapon’s popular use in aristocratic duels in Renaissance Europe. This is reinforced by almost all thrusting weapons being acquired in Latria, including its prisoners dropping estocs — such edgeless blades are practically synonymous with highborn status. She also sells the lotus of nobility, who have become known for wearing due to the beauty of the red flower. Unlike most just trying to survive as peasants, the nobility can afford to care about aesthetics. That doesn’t mean that their exorbitant lives are without concern.

You are an ordinary human, yes? From where do you hail? Ah, I shall not pry. Apart from that, might you purchase my collection? Despite how I look, I was originally a noble’s wife. I have lined up a fair number of things.

Silverwork bracelets.

Elegant ornaments that probably decorate elegant attire. It was surely worn by a noble’s daughter.

Is it because it is an extraordinarily expensive item? It boosts the amount of souls gained defeating enemies.

Aside from its artistic value, the red lotus also cures poison, which holds ominous implications for the nobles constantly wearing it. All the more when there is a corpse carrying the black leather set worn by thieves and assassins in the Prison of Hope. The rapier acquired in the prison has been laced with poison, and there are also corpses carrying weapons used by spies. This extends to plague as well. The plagued-coated Baby’s Nail used by women and children for assassinations can be found in the prison church, and the black phantom of one such woman wielding the dagger while dressed in the black leather set is encountered at the actual prison. Another one is kept by Freke, another prisoner when we cross paths. Latria has a history of locking up spies and assassins who make attempts on noble lives using deadly substances. The former noblewoman’s husband may have been among the targets, for she sells the widow’s lotus. Because the black flower cures plague, it is worn by those attending a plagued person’s burial, not the corpse as the localization claims. As a result, the flower has come to symbolize those the deceased have left behind, like widows.

Dark flower petal that floats on water. Cures the user’s plague.

It is worn when burying those who were afflicted with plague and returned to the earth. On that note, it has become a flower that symbolizes those left behind.

The reason for such cloak and dagger murders is obvious. The role of an aristocracy is to serve as vassals, informing and advising the monarch on governing the realm. And indeed, countless fancy chairs are found in the throne room, implying the Queen to have met with large assemblies in discussing political issues. Moreover, the chairs are mainly laid upon large steps climbing up to the throne, as if to be originally arranged in a hierarchy from lowest to highest in status; this includes the four chairs situated beside the throne itself. Therefore, these noble families’ status is proof of their service to the country. The question then is why these particular families were distinguished. More than likely, it is due more to their magical affinity than war record. The stained glass directly behind and opposite the throne portrays robed old men carrying books and feathered pens, bringing to mind the Ivory Tower researcher depicted on the Nexus Archstone. And these same figures are portrayed alongside the larger icon of a woman on the stained glass windows above the church’s entrance. The meaning is clear: the Queen is surrounded and supported by a counsel of wise old men.

If a country revolves around advancing the soul arts through rational study and even decided on its royal line by such logical criteria, then the same must be true for every member of status within it. If a family produces sorcerers a class above the average man, then it is only natural to consider them to be of higher stock. And if the country considers magically talented persons to be sacred, then of course such families will be distinguished for approaching that divine ideal. This noble class would then solely marry amongst themselves along with the royalty in order to keep the bloodlines pure and maintain a high concentration of magic power across generations. The result is all of them becoming loosely related to one another as one tribe, each individual family marrying solely within the clan. This magical hierarchy positions the nobility to be the first to study magic at the Ivory Tower and reap the results of its soul research, where they can then use their education to aid the lower classes per noblesse oblige. Latria built its entire society upon a theological premise for the soul, all in service to reaching the divine. It is for this reason that their banners feature an abstract figure resembling the throne angel.

This religion of reason even explains aristocrats’ traditional partiality for spices in particular. Aside from flavoring food, spices are primarily perfumes and incenses for improving smells. But the fragrance serves a more practical purpose for sorcerers. The pleasant aroma stimulates the senses and thereby “calms the heart”. Naturally, this mental therapy restores MP, making its overlapping luxury use magic-literate nobles suspect — all the more considering that the Fragrant Ring crammed with spices for nobles is found in Latria. Simply put, the practical use likely precluded the congenial. Old spice is made by mixing a wide variety of fermented substances to create an even more stimulating smell and effect. This along with the “backgrounds” of its makers has made it prohibited “depending on the location and age”. If this spice was made long ago, then these makers were probably far more familiar with magic than modern folk with their far less effective perfumes. It makes sense then that most countries had such spices banned until recently, since it was the same for magic — only the idea of spices as a luxury remained since it was so rooted in the culture by that point.

Spice with a nice aroma that calms the heart. Recovers the user’s MP.

Used by nobles as a luxury item and sorcerers as a practical item respectively.

Old spice that gives off a certain stimulating, sweet aroma. Greatly recovers the user’s MP.

Made by mixing various kinds of diverse fermented items, but because of the backgrounds of those who make this and the strength of the stimulus, it is also a prohibited item depending on the location and age.

The fact that this magic culture was tailored to the sciences may be partially due to geography. Latria evidently neighbors Boletaria since it has been engulfed by the deep fog, but we can find the fluted set and kite shield from the region to the kingdom’s south. In other words, Latria is most likely also part of this southern region, hence the apparent cultural exchange. Ostrava wielding the Rune Sword and Shield reinforces the notion. All of the Boletarian prince’s other equipment is from the southern countries he had toured, yet his sword and shield are neither explicitly from this region nor notably more technologically advanced. His official profile only states that they are extraordinarily rare and indicative of his high status, a sentiment echoed by the slave merchant. Gold and exquisitely-designed weapons with extremely high magical offense and defense fit the extravagant, ostentatious, and magically literate country where we can also find them. Put another way, Latria was likely among the countries Ostrava had visited. Sparkly provides the Fragrant Ring in exchange for a brass telescope explicitly invented in the south, reinforcing the connection.

Gold sword given an exquisite design. Its physical attack power amounts to nothing, but has a strong magical enhancement and protects users from magic attacks.

The weapon of a hero recited in legends that becomes a pair with the Rune Shield.

With so many progressive cultures in terms of technology and engineering bordering the nation, it is feasible for Latria to have developed into a culture conducive to comparatively higher advancements in magical science. The rune sword and shield may even hint to the underlying history behind the country’s obsession with magic. Both of their descriptions note them to be the weapon of a hero recited in legend, though the fact that we can acquire two sets indicate that these wasn’t just one. Nonetheless, their existence in Latria implies the country to have been home to legendary magic warriors. In that case, the nation’s entire culture of extravagance, excess, and magic can be traced back to the time of these heroes. Whether they were among the country’s founders or part of some progenitor culture, their heroic exploits likely solidified Latria’s development into a rich and magically-literate society in the next age.

But no matter how far ahead Latria became with its magical research, it was all for naught after demons ravaged the world. With the soul arts subsequently banned, the Ivory Tower was prohibited along with it. The Nexus Archstone text refers to it as something that the Queen had “restored”, implying that it had been previously neglected. Evidently, the tower had discontinued its soul research if not been outright closed down. Even so, Latria seems to have fared rather well despite the huge loss. Its class system, form of government, and religious iconography seemingly survived the test of time. As for the actual religion, the traditional imagery may have merely been preserved for aesthetics, but it is possible that worship of the Queen had been folded into the concept of divine right, though Latria’s focus on the purity of bloodlines meant that it didn’t need to adopt the up-and-coming religion of one God.

The country of the Ivory Tower that the Queen restored, Latria.

However, due to one old man’s revenge, the Queen lost her life and her clan was captured in a prison. In that prison, strange jailers that can’t be human wander about and only the prisoners’ resentful voices resound.

The Prison of Hope is just one of several adjacent facilities, though the path to them have been locked or reduced to rubble. The adjoining church’s iconography of the Queen as a holy woman dressed in white robes dates this zone to the Classical Era. Moreover, her left hand clutches a blade close to her bosom, again, representing royal authority as well as justice — making the Queen analogous to Lady Justice or the goddess Themis of Greek mythology in this context. In other words, attendees to this church would be presented with their ruler as the divine arbiter of men’s fate and harsh punisher of sinners. This is more than appropriate for a prison church and implies that such religious services have traditionally been held for Latrian convicts. Even if only as an aesthetic, it is doubtful that an institution as militant as the temple would approve of the Queen replacing God as the divine authority. But either way, Latria didn’t seem to suffer radical change compared to other civilizations, which is probably why it maintained hegemony after Boletaria reached its border.

Unlike Stonefang Tunnel, the superpower’s fat ministers have no active presence anywhere in Latria, suggesting that the country wasn’t bullied into submission by its belligerent neighbor. Despite the soul arts being so central to its culture, the nation’s traditions held strong in their absence and apparently rebuffed becoming a mere vassal. This doesn’t mean that Boletaria didn’t try. Among the assassin corpses in the prisons, at least two wielded the dagger and claws used by King Allant’s spies, and another corpse in the tower area carries the flamberge possessed by only these covert agents. Latria clearly had some sharp pressure applied by its colossal neighbor, trying to destabilize the country or remove any disagreeable elements among the aristocracy. And considering the royal government’s implicit cooperation with Rydell’s imprisonment, the nation wasn’t wholly independent of foreign influence. At best, they had been able to keep the kingdom out of their affairs while staving off full-scale invasion. But circumstances eventually unbalanced that equilibrium.


Pandora’s Tower


Once Boletaria rediscovered the soul arts, the Queen of Latria was put into quite a dilemma. Boletaria was already a major power in a period devoid of magic. If its military grew exponentially more powerful with its monopoly of it, what would stop the kingdom from simply steamrolling right to her front door? Their country’s future was in jeopardy. Additionally, the Queen was at least vaguely aware of the Ivory Tower’s history since she did end up restoring it during this soul renaissance. She must have realized that soul research was exactly what their ancestors had forbid them from indulging in, but what else was she to do? Of course, her motives may been as much out of personal curiosity as national security. She was an intelligent person capable of becoming a great sorceress, so surely she had her own ponderings about this new “soul” power that Boletaria had discovered. Whatever her underlying motivation, the Queen opened the floodgates for her people to pursue new intellectual inquiries, and they more than competed in the magical arms race.

Among the items found in Latria, the vast majority relate to magic. The wizard set and a wooden catalyst as well as a witch’s three-cornered hat are found on corpses in the Prison of Hope. Moonlightstones, which are used to give weapons a magical enhancement, are acquired solely in this area — we can even acquire a short sword with this enchantment. The same is true for the extremely delicate Fragrant Ring, very few of which have been even made despite us owning one as a noble. This rarity along with its name as a ring of “nice aroma” (よい香り) — a phrase also used to describe the smell of fresh spice — implies that it is a rather recent creation. And most telling, the silver bracelets that decorate the elegant dresses of Latrian noblewomen and the Ring of Avarice worn to denote their affluence increases the number of souls absorbed when defeating enemies. The upper class had reclaimed their heritage as soul scholars, and they were just as greedy for them as they had been for riches and extravagance.

This hunger for knowledge led to the foundation of Yormedaar. While meimon (名門) can refer to a prestigious — typically noble — family as the localization asserts, it is most likely denoting a school in this instance. The MP-raising silver coronet and catalyst — both found in Latria — are only given to Yormedaar sorcerers, so one can argue that they are heirlooms for members of a Latrian noble family, especially given their resemblance to the silver bracelets. At the same time, this wording for their descriptions is rather detached compared to other family items. Moreover, these same items are part of our starting equipment if we choose a noble background, meaning that we have received Yormedaar equipment despite apparently not being from Latria ourselves. In that case, it makes more sense for Yormedaar to be a distinguished school in Latria where nobles from all over the continent had attended, including ourselves; we studied abroad, and the items are proof of graduation. And we would have one man to thank for our illustrious education: Freke.

Silverwork crown.

Ornament that only sorcerers of the distinguished Yormedaar school are given.

Greatens maximum MP via a special technique.

The sage’s profile states that he was originally a high-ranking priest like Urbain, and his attire reaffirms this point. The venerable sage’s clothes are actually the dirtied traveling garments of a holy man from the temple, and their description confirm that their corruption reflects the wise man’s origins, in more ways than one. Firstly, it implies that Freke hasn’t changed his attire since his transition from saint to sage, allowing them to be blackened by dirt as he committed to studies. Secondly, it implies that the then priest had traveled to Latria from somewhere far away, perhaps the west where the temple has the strongest presence. And thirdly, it implies that Freke’s faith was soiled the same as his clothes, hence the change in occupation. Indeed, the former holy man chastises followers of the temple for praying to a God whom they don’t know the true nature of. His previous high rank suggests that he was among the temple’s most devoted followers originally, and perhaps only traveled to investigate magic on its behalf. But what he found evidently shattered his faith, resulting in him instead embracing souls and reason.

Equipment of “One who Clears Away” Wise Man Freke.

They are simple travel clothes which make long expeditions possible, but they are in fact the corrupted travel clothes of a holy man. That itself well shows Freke’s origins.

The middle-aged wise man has become famed as the Visionary, or “One who Clears Away”, (拓くもの) and his Japanese profile clarifies that this is meant to imply him to be “one who clears away ignorance”. (蒙を拓くもの) To “clear away ignorance” is also a homonym for “enlighten” (蒙を啓く) when written with different kanji, so the title indicates that the sage is opening a path to enlightenment for mankind. This is likely because he is responsible for systemizing magic into an academic framework, which his apprentice claims made the souls arts into “arts of man”. Basically, Freke had streamlined the process to learning magic so that virtually anyone could replicate known soul arts and invent their own if taught how. And if he created an academic framework, then it only makes sense for him to have an academy to teach it.

Lord Freke is a great wise man who systemized magic, which is the soul arts, and made it into arts of man.

Freke’s profile identifies him as Yormedaar’s wise man, so he had most likely traveled to Latria as part of his work for the temple, presumably because the country had a dedicated magic research facility — something never mentioned to exist in Boletaria. There, the young priest studied magic and ended up heavily contributing to the school’s magic curriculum if not establishing it himself. Naturally, both him and the school gained renown as the wealthy aristocrats at home and abroad sent their sons and daughters there to study how to use that then newly-discovered power. But Freke later had to enter the deep fog from the tear, so the sage must have eventually moved on from the Ivory Tower to spread his teachings to other lands while advancing his own knowledge. He does seem to prefer the ascetic life, and there is no practical reason to exclude commoners from a formal education in sorcery. This would make the Visionary responsible for magic becoming so widespread that one can expect a sorcerer in practically every town. Latria wasn’t lacking for talent with him gone, at least.

A famous sorcerer known as the “One who Clears Away (Ignorance)”. He is knowledgeable in the soul arts, or magic, and systemized them into an academic framework. Yormedaar’s wise man is also a seeker and enters Boletaria by himself despite becoming middle-aged. It is said that he once had a high rank in the priesthood, but the details are unknown. He is a friend of Geri, who is known as a magical craftsman.

Geri is known for his magical handicrafts, including rings that boost magic or various resistances. These rings can be found in various areas outside Latria, implying that the sorcery artisan has attained similar recognition to Freke. They are rivals in their field, but both Freke’s profile and various item descriptions confirm the two to be friends. This is why the sage is the only one in possession of Geri’s Stiletto, a small edgeless sword imbued with special magic that steals MP from those stabbed by it. This relationship is fitting considering that the names of him and Freke, or Frehki, (フレーキ) are an obvious reference to Geri and Freki, (フレキ) two wolves that accompany Odin in Norse mythology — their names both mean the “greedy one”, while the god they serve is strongly associated with knowledge. Greed for knowledge perfectly encapsulates Latria in every aspect, and Geri and Freke are no different. Given their friendship, Geri may have even been another priest originally looking to investigate magic. The venerable sage’s set can be acquired off a corpse in the prison, so Freke’s life story certainly isn’t unique.

Queen, noble, priest, witch, or wizard, Latria was open to any willing and able to advance understanding of the soul arts. Part of reclaiming its heritage was likely finding and preserving legendary relics for study like the rune swords and shields. Ancient magical weaponry is probably a treasure trove of information for a scholar, and their rarity makes such artifacts all the more valuable. Such relics would in all likelihood be a closely kept state secret in order to monopolize their technological insight. Indeed, the rune sword and shield that we can acquire in Latria is specifically found at the Ivory Tower. And yet, Ostrava is in possession of the only other pair we can find. Given the geopolitical situation, the traveling Boletarian prince was perhaps the best positioned to purchase or even receive these items as a gesture of goodwill. If lavishing a naïve prince with their finest crafts during his casual tour of the region appeases the bellicose superpower at their doorstep in the short term, it is a worthwhile sacrifice. They still had at least one other pair, so it was definitely no big loss to the scholars.

Less open is the secret society known as the “concealers”, (秘匿者) magic enthusiasts who hold conclaves in private venues to conduct their studies — the highest ranking members even conceal their own faces behind a mask. Very little is known about them as a result, but they more than likely got their start in Latria. Corpses carrying the society’s equipment are found only in the magic nation. These include their uniform made from luxurious black cloth and gold thread as well as their epee rapier. And all of them are described as having an exquisite design like the rune sword and shield. Taken together, and the concealers are clearly a byproduct of Latria’s aristocratic culture even if not aristocrats themselves, perhaps even trying to meet the ideals of the old legends. The group being based in Latria would also explain why a leading member like Mephistopheles knows Ostrava’s true identity — they had witnessed Prince Ariona in person when he was passing through the south. At the very least, the group takes their study of magic incredibly seriously even by Latrian standards.

The society is comprised solely of women, hence their uniform being exclusive to the fairer sex. Given a woman’s natural aptitude for the soul arts, it makes sense that a group dedicated to them limit its members to only those with the greatest magical potential, especially when such practices were commonplace in the old days. That the women are so secretive also demonstrates their obsession with keeping knowledge to themselves. Their rapiers are for ceremonial purposes, and the fact that they are imbued with fire magic indicates that enchantments like these are the kinds of ceremonies that the concealers conduct in their clandestine meetings. Any discoveries that the group makes are thus for members only, magic rituals concealed from outsiders. The epee rapier’s description also relates that it is but one of the reasons these women are feared, implying that what is known about them primarily has to do with aggression and intimidation; this too seems to be part and parcel to the society’s practices.

Among her rewards for assisting her, Mephistopheles provides us with a Talisman of Beasts made in the form of the Old One. This suggests that the concealers revere the ancient beast, presumably for its connection to the soul arts. This is reinforced by the society leader also having the Foe’s Ring in her possession. Basically, the society seems to favor acts mirroring the Old One and the soul-harvesting demons it creates, malicious acts — Mephistopheles even considers killing fellow humans over demon souls to be the “obvious” course of action. The parrying dagger that these women wield in lieu of a shield only reinforces this notion. While this penchant for deflecting attacks over blocking them head-on likely serves to reference a physical disparity, the use of a sword highlights an inherently more aggressive disposition among the society’s members.

In short, the concealers’ secrecy may be as much out of necessity as partiality. Their immorality required that their identities and ceremonies remain anonymous. Anyone who acted in such an inhuman nature would not be tolerated by the powers at be. Nowhere is this more obvious than with the Queen’s exile of the Old Monk. Though commonly assumed to be because he cheated on her as his spouse, this is only because the former noblewoman calls him her “depraved husband” in English dialogue. In truth, she only refers to him as an old man, albeit apparently infamous among at least the nobility. The only other clue about his identity comes from him being dubbed a “monk”. Ou (翁) is a respectful address for an old man, equally applicable to a sage as a monk. Both are respected for the wisdom that comes with age, and this association of age with knowledge says plenty.

The Queen exiled that just execrable old man.

Recall that Latria’s magic scholars who had provided the Queen counsel are consistently portrayed as old men, suggesting that this mysterious elder was one such adviser. This is reinforced by the boss we encounter wielding an elaborate magic staff and wearing luxurious rings — he even sports a short grey beard in the Black Phantom Edition art book’s concept art. In other words, the old man was probably just another noble fascinated with the soul arts. And given that he was exiled and not imprisoned or executed, the old man must have had the Queen’s love if not deep respect. Her apparent mercy might imply that he was a more influential member of the court, perhaps a trusted adviser or close friend. If so, then it makes his crime all the more serious to have still lost her confidence. Did he somehow betray her trust, or was his offense too great to ignore? Was it a singular act or a pattern of behavior? With only his age and occupation to go by, the most likely scenario is that the elder’s wrongdoings had something to do with Latria’s soul art revolution.

Soul Thirst is one of the spells derived from the Old Monk’s soul and increases the amount of souls obtained from slaying enemies the same as the clothes and jewelry worn by Latrian nobles. But because we learn a “thirst for souls”, we instead absorb souls “to their limit,” making the act indistinguishable from the works of demons as its description admits. While an obvious reference to the boss being a demon, it also indicate the old man to have been far more extreme than his fellow greedy aristocrats when it came to souls — beyond human even; perhaps his soul research crossed the line. Also, the elder is currently using the Ivory Tower to perform human experiments in manufacturing new kinds of demons. One of the byproducts are the hybrid Maneaters comprised of a human host and a snake tail that can temporarily boost its power. The deluxe edition art book notes that the base of their wings and tails have scars indicative of artificial grafting, meaning that these specific “improvements” to the human body were deliberate. And if biological engineering is the elder’s scholarly interest, then these pursuits probably predate his exile.

Magic that manifested from the soul of the demon “Elder in Yellow”. Increases the quantity of souls obtained from defeated enemies.

Due to this magic, the caster learns a “thirst for souls” and snatches away souls from targets to their limit. It is at a point where there is no difference from the works of demons.

Put simply, the elder had likely been dabbling in unethical practices to advance his research at the Ivory Tower, such as experimenting on unwilling test subjects to create superhumans. When the Queen and the aristocracy learned about his works, they were unsurprisingly appalled. The sovereign banished the mad scientist from her dominion in response, though the old man apparently didn’t see the error of his ways. How could he? He was only trying to engineer the perfect being. Was their country not founded upon such principles, selectively breeding to induce the creation of a greater person? Didn’t they revere that as divine? What was wrong with him simply accelerating their evolution? Why not use the soul arts to reach the peak of mankind’s physical and magical potential? They could be more than mere human, achieve true apotheosis. Why was that so beyond the pale? Humiliated and ostracized, the elder sought vengeance on his fellows in high society. But what was he to do? Stripped of his status and assets, he was just a feeble old man — he needed power beyond one.


Judgment Day


After the fog swept across Boletaria and Latria with it, the exiled elder returned wearing a yellow cloth and with demons in tow. Although similar to King Allant’s homecoming, the developments leading up to it aren’t as readily obvious. Despite Freke referring to the old man as one of the three humans who became demons, the elder is merely a vessel for the yellow cloth, the actual demon. The Insanity Catalyst’s description implies that the old man entrusted his body to it because he didn’t see a future for himself, meaning that he was still dispossessed and fending for himself in exile at the time. In that case, from where did these demons originate to come across a helpless old vagrant randomly in the area and assist him with his personal grudge? Some fans have suggested that this aid came from the concealers due to their reverence for the Old One and incorporation of gold into their aesthetic. However, it is unlikely for a cult of women to assist an old man, and the society’s number among the dead in Latria indicates that they aren’t presently allied. That leaves the elder himself.

As seen with Stonefang, the deep fog can create a demon out of nothing but the conceptions of the soul’s imagination. In that case, it is feasible for the yellow cloth to be the product of the old man’s own thoughts. Consider his use of it. When we first see the boss, he is seated in the Queen’s throne while garbed in the eminent fabric. Yellow is of course the color of riches and royalty, which is reinforced by the boss’ name — ou is a homonym for “king”. (王) Moreover, this wordplay for the “Elder in Yellow” combined with the design are a clear homage to the King in Yellow, (黄衣の王) a character popularized by H.P. Lovecraft. The color also complements the golden reliefs of divine imagery backdropping the boss. He even wears a crown of thorns, a holy symbol for Christ’s suffering, so the old man clearly views himself as a divine king persecuted by mortals, someone who should render such sinners final judgment at the end of the world. At the same time, he is portrayed as a demonic king, an avatar of eldritch horror. And key to both of these images is the yellow cloth.

Perhaps the old man, stewing in his hatred, fantasized about being the person of authority raining judgement down upon his peers. And when the deep fog appeared, he inadvertently conjured up an embodiment of that kingly fantasy out of literal whole cloth. This sentient fabric thus had the power to make the helpless elder’s dream a reality just like other demons of the imagination. This would even explain why the yellow cloth and its ilk aid the human instead of just killing him like the rest: they were expressly created to fulfill his power fantasy, and it wasn’t like there was another viable host around.

As for these other demons accompanying him, the former noblewoman may be referring to the gargoyles. These creatures are identical to statues decorating Latrian architecture, so their form predates the fog. This makes it possible for demons to manifest in their image from the elder’s memory — one purpose of a gargoyle is to ward off evil, so the old man might have imagined such creatures assisting him in punishing “sinners”. However, killing them always nets us the soul of a nameless warrior or hero, so they seem to instead be the products of his later demon experiments — bringing the actual statues to “life” by embedding them with the souls of slain Latrian warriors. This notion finds further support in the many gargoyles acting as statues until approached or provoked, meaning that those spots were their original homes.

But wherever these demons originated, the yellow cloth wasn’t simply subservient to the old man’s whims. Homing Soul Arrow is another spell derived from the Old Monk’s soul, and its description affirms that the autonomous arrows it produces reflect the old man’s true nature. In other words, he relied on power which he had no actual control over once unleashed. In fact, the description for the Insanity Catalyst makes clear that this power which he desperately latched onto wasn’t ideal. This wand wrapped in yellow cloth considerably boosts the damage of magic while halving maximum MP, reflecting the frenzied but reduced mental capacity of madness. Other item descriptions and dialogue reaffirm that the yellow cloth drives humans mad and paranoid. Being a soul-sucking demon, the cloth likely drains its host’s mind, hence why it wraps around the head to control a spirit body.

Magic that manifested from the soul of the demon “Elder in Yellow”. Produces floating soul arrows that autonomously go toward a target.

The old man was no more than a vessel of the yellow cloth that drives humans mad. This magic shows the nature of the old man who relied on power not his own.

In the end, the elder was the vessel for a demon ultimately serving the Old One and only obeyed so long as he proved himself useful — not that he would notice, or even care. Although an obvious allusion to the madness caused by the King in Yellow, inducing paranoia specifically adds to the notion that the yellow cloth is the product of the old man’s delusions. This elder clearly suffers from narcissism and a persecution complex, both of which lend themselves to an inflated sense of threat from others. Rooting this insanity to his personal fantasies is reinforced by the rapier wielded by gargoyles. The weapon’s description links the old man’s madness to his sadism, adding unnecessary cruelty or otherwise immoral behavior to the elements of irrationality. In short, “madness” constitutes not just logical deficiencies but also ethical failures as perceived by the general public. In that case, the cloth may be have also been adding fuel to the elder’s darkest thoughts, pushing him to indulge in further depravity. And why not? For him, there wasn’t a choice when it came to gaining the power to act on those desires.

And so, the elder returned with his demons and ravaged Latria, the visible buildings mostly in ruins. According to the Japanese text for the Nexus Archstone, the Queen lost her life while her clan was imprisoned. Although we are provided no details about the manner in which she was killed, the portraits of a regally-dressed woman with her face violently scratched or torn out hanging in the Old Monk’s boss room denotes the elder’s violent rage toward her. The exact nature of this mass incarceration is equally unclear, as the former noble’s wife had somehow managed to bring her luxuries with her. With so many being displaced, it is possible that the elder’s forces just didn’t care about what the nobles dragged along with them as they were hauled off from their homes. But even if it is amusing to imagine the ex-noblewoman desperately holding onto all her sacks, boxes, and chests filled with valuables, this scenario is incredibly unrealistic and may just be an oversight by FromSoftware. Regardless, the rulers undoubtedly found themselves the ruled. The Queen’s throne is now the seat of the elder in yellow, crowning a haphazard pile of council chairs — the aristocracy was now subject to his whims.

But the old man clad himself in a strange yellow cloth and returned with demons, ravaged the magnificent Latria, and locked us up in this prison.

Not everyone suffered for it, however. Despite looking like a generic soul-starved, one man seated on a balcony overlooking the church nave acts quite lucid. This “puppeteer” (人形使い) mocks our attempts to slay the Fool’s Idol as he operates a magic ritual that immediately restores the demon. But when confronted, he insists that he is just a harmless servant. Komazukai (小間使い) refer to menials that do chores like cleaning the master’s rooms, typically women. This terminology may be implying that lowborn Latrian men serve the same role as “chambermaids” in other countries due to its matriarchy, but it nonetheless suggests that those serving under the nation’s ruling elite have been recruited by the demons. They are the ones closest to their debaucherous lords and thereby most likely to harbor animosity, constantly cleaning up after their messes and weathering their abuse. If the puppeteer’s taunts are any indication, they would revel in the chance to get back at their old masters. In the end, at least some meager houseworkers found common cause with the elder in revenge against the nobility and defected.

The Fool’s Idol is a life-sized puppet made to resemble the dead Queen. Although a close examination of its joints and the back of the head confirm it to be just a doll, the demon is still strikingly lifelike and can even shed blood. Since it produces magic comparable to the genuine article — namely soul ray — it might even be using the Queen’s actual soul. If so, it only serves to spit on the woman’s corpse, for the doll is a clear parody of Latria’s reverence for her. The boss operates from the prison church, floats down from on high as if descending from the heavens, possesses multiple arms representing the supernatural power of a deity in Hinduism, holds a sorcery book whose pages are taken from the Book of Kells, grasps a log symbolizing a spiritual connection with the divine, and resurrects after death like Christ. Everything about this demon is intended to imbue the doll with an aura of divinity, and the former noblewoman’s dialogue suggests that it is indeed considered to be the church’s goddess. However, it is nonetheless an idol, a false god that no sane person could mistake for the real Queen — and sane none of its adherents are.

The ex-noble lady confirms that the prisoners have had their souls gradually “squeezed” out of them each day — coinciding with torture. Judas chairs can be found in the halls and even jail cells despite the existence of a dedicated torture chamber. Some bodies hang by their arms shackled to the ceiling, and even the face of the ex-noble herself is terribly marred. Inmates are tormented on the regular, sometimes in creative fashion if the “prisoner ball” (虜囚玉) is any indication. But aside from these straightforward methods, the fallen elites are also being slowly poisoned. According to the Japanese descriptions for mercurystones, the toxic goo ore had been given to the prisoners little by little, and detainees commonly carry such stones — perhaps their food is laced with the fluid. Whatever the case, their physical health is at obvious risk during confinement, and many have already died based on the sheer number of wooden coffins found throughout the prison. Naturally, we can only hear the prisoners’ resentful cries, begging for some relief — they are offered it.

Since then, they have been gradually squeezing out our souls every day, repeatedly teaching us only that we shall be saved if we go above…

While slowly starved of their souls, the prisoners are continuously informed that they will find salvation from their slow and painful deaths by going to the church. And once they lose the capacity to question this obvious lie, they naturally leave their cells for up above. This slow mental deterioration is why the former noblewoman trades her collection for souls, keeping herself sane and therefore not fooled into joining the others. Although this doesn’t solve the torture and confinement, staying in her cell while singing to pass the time nonetheless proves to be the wiser course of action. Attempts to cross the bridge from the prison to the the church are hindered by endless flurries of arrows fired by an automated ballista. Fittingly, this device is made in the form of the Fool’s Idol, but the implication is lost on those who somehow manage to survive the trek across. They only see their queen alive and now immortal, giving them a ray of hope for salvation. In what’s left of their minds, everything would return to the decadent days of yore if only she still lived, so they praise her miraculous resurrection.

One can imagine the elder’s twisted pleasure in watching the nobles mindlessly cheer on killing the “Queen” over and over again simply because she would immediately revive each time. What better revenge on her and them than making them celebrate her death? Not just his either. The ex-noblewoman’s Japanese dialogue reveals that she heard about the resurrection from someone who came well before us, presumably the ones teaching them about their path to salvation. Why would a bewitched prisoner or previous customer return to tell her? If it is one of the captors, then her casual reference to a person may mean that it is humans conducting the torture, meaning their former servants. This cruel job makes sense given the puppeteer’s related role. Alternatively, she is referring to the octopus jailers. (蛸獄吏)

The humans who came well before said it. The church’s goddess resurrects any number of times. That is why there cannot be any ordinary human going above…

Bearing a humanoid form dressed in robes, commonly carrying fresh and old spices on their person, and casting the same soul ray spell used by the Queen and other prisoners — these demons were probably Latrian nobles originally. It has thus been proposed that fellow aristocratic scholars complicit in the old man’s crimes were banished with him, where they all became demons before their return. However, this is incredibly unlikely. The Nexus Archstone text calls the current horrors befalling Latria the result of a “lone” old man’s revenge, implying no co-conspirators. If these nobles did willingly stand with the elder and become demons, it was only after his return from exile. Under pressure both physically and mentally, at least a few prisoners would feasibly be willing to trade their noble pride for freedom as the elder’s servants.

Betrayal thus seems to be the reason that some aristocrats are now demons. Thanks to the old man’s experimentation, they have been transformed into humanoid cephalopods reminiscent of mind flayers, enemies featured in Dungeons & Dragons loosely inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft. These hybrids wander the prison halls as jailers, armed with a bell to alert others of trouble and keys to freely traverse the labyrinthine halls. These same passages are also home to extravagant pots spewing a green gas — perhaps incense burners for rousing the prisoners’ spirits before the harvest. All of this makes the octopus men the most practical option for performing the everyday torture and coaxing. Indeed, the Nexus Archstone’s Japanese text specifically insists that they “can’t be human” as if in denial of their former humanity, so it is possible that the former noble’s wife still thinks of these monsters as people. But whoever she is referring to, they are all part of the system setup for the elder’s vengeance.

The sinner’s church enshrining the statue of a false god offers equally empty hopes of deliverance to its mad flock. Like the ballista preceding it, the holy icon is just a mask for the “ugly malice” behind it. Prisoners lured there seem to be periodically taken to the Ivory Tower, hence why the gargoyles readily fly us up to the next area without conflict. From there, other gargoyles lock them back up in hanging cages where they continue to be tortured as if they had never left their original cell. And once the gargoyles satiate the old man’s sadism, the cages are finally lowered into the base of the buildings where the prisoners all meld together into a soup of flesh and entrails. Makeshift wooden platforms, bridges, and poles to crucify certain prisoners have been set up at the Ivory Tower, allowing the octopus men stationed there to oversee the ghastly formulation. The organic goop also appears to be responsible for destabilizing the city’s foundations, most buildings now leaning to the point of breaking the arched paths bridging them together.

Keystone left by the demon “Fool’s Idol”.

The church of sinners which enshrined the statue imitating the queen gave a ray of hope for salvation to the prisoners. Of course, ugly malice which mercilessly betrays the fleeting hope no doubt lies beyond it.

The only thing still holding these edifices up are the oversized chains linked between them — another renovation by the servants given that more cages hang from them. Based on this, we can infer that the cages are suspended from the web of large chains looming in the sky overhead. The web itself hangs from distant towers all around the perimeter of the area, suggesting that the cages and thus human soup cover a huge swath of the city beyond what we explore. This requires a great number of bodies, so the gargoyles may be additionally dumping the prisons’ coffins, which can found right up to the church — they have dropped a prisoner ball down there, after all. Alive or dead, everyone will end up in the fleshy swamp surrounding the Ivory Tower, and this blend of bodies was putty for experiments.

The flesh swamp is home to “human-faced giant centipedes”, (人面ムカデ) internally named “pest celeb”; (害虫セレブ) “pest” refers to harmful insects while “celeb” is an English loanword for wealthy socialites. It is a demon born from merging a bunch of Latria’s rich nobles into one new, hybrid form, and it isn’t alone. The Maneaters’ internal name is “chimera”, (キメラ) and the deluxe edition art book makes note of an old man’s head — resembling the centipedes’ faces — becoming their “mask”. This is presumably in reference to them being merely a host to their snake tail. The Needle of Eternal Agony hooks into the flesh to shave off a bit of the soul, which its description confirms is a reflection of the relationship between the snake and its host. In other words, the snake exists to feed on the host’s soul while also maximizing their suffering, hence the boss’ name and hybrid soul mixing two distinct spirits into one. The human host acts at the snake’s behest. It is the one controlling and empowering the main body.

The elder was using his fellow old nobles as resources for the creation of new demons, extending their torment while also furthering his research into hybrids. The end result of these experiments had been him deriving all manner of chimeric spawn from this organic blend, which culminated into the massive ball of flesh hanging from the Ivory Tower. The Maneater Archstone’s text confirms that this behemoth held together by a myriad of chains is composed of humans from the hanging cages, forming many human-faced giant centipedes within as seen after we make it fall and splatter — no surprise then that both the flesh ball and its byproducts are internally named “chimera ball”. (キメラ玉) These spawn are apparently released into the flesh swamp via its tentacles, which stretch all the way down into a hole below before branching out of the windows and walls of the Ivory Tower’s lower levels — all to immerse themselves in the human soup; based on the way they pulsate, the appendages absorb the contents into the main mass to form even more demons to “birth”, creating an endless cycle.

Keystone left by the demon “Maneater”.

A ball of meat melding together humans hanging in cage cells was made at the former Ivory Tower. The current master of Latria, the old man who is no longer human, had probably been making demons with his own hands.

All of this imagery evokes Lovecraftian horror, and the fleshy abomination even has many blood-red eyes and a few short limbs grasping onto the tower while pulsing with its own “heartbeat”, suggesting it the ball in fact its own singular entity. But in order to even support its frame, the elder’s human servants have to be continuously performing magic rituals to secure the two gigantic chains hauling it up, a weakness which we readily take advantage of. With how easy it is to kill this demon by destabilizing the chains, why even create it? The obvious answer is that it is the pinnacle of the old man’s magical research, the largest concentration of flesh, blood, and soul into one being. In short, it is closest to Latria’s conception of divinity.

Considering the previous allusions to Lovecraft’s works, the elder may had been trying to create something akin to an eldritch god. Perhaps the old man had hoped to engineer a demon on par with the Old One, which itself draws clear inspiration from the aforesaid “old ones” featured in eldritch horror. Both are colossal entities with the ability to generated new demons, albeit the flesh ball only creates them from existing matter. Moreover, the ancient beast is worshiped by some thanks to the immense magical power amassed from the souls it collects. From the perspective of an old researcher of Latria, this primordial demon may be considered the quintessential example of a divine being. In that case, it is only natural that he strive to create something rivaling it, though the ease in which we destroy this living mass of meat proves that it has yet to reach apotheosis. However, even if the old man’s servants would have eventually succeeded in engineering a demonic god from the souls and bodies of men, he would never have seen it realized.


The Cloth Must Go On


Text for the Old Monk Archstone affirms that the elder had completely withered away long ago. His body has become a dry, shriveled husk controlled like a marionette by the yellow cloth. With his revenge complete, the demon cloth simply consumed the old man’s maddened soul while maintaining the illusion that his body was still his even after it had died. The parallels between this boss and the previous two are obvious, but the yellow cloth’s particular reasoning is that the old man was deficient as a vessel and therefore unworthy of being its host. In the end, the elder was just another frail sorcerer of Latria, no one particularly special. He himself lacked the power to be anything beyond human — that the Maneater Archstone text suggests him to no longer be one likely refers to his soul becoming one with that of the yellow cloth.

Keystone left by the demon “Elder in Yellow”.

The old man who fulfilled his revenge completely withered away long ago, and the yellow cloth that drives humans mad controlled his body. The deficient one was unable to be a demon’s vessel and has simply been swallowed by the demon’s soul.

The true demon has since been summoning black phantoms to enslave when threatened, and the cut description for the headwear it becomes during the boss battle indicates it to be using this opportunity to also search for a new host. The reality of the situation was lost on the old man himself. When we confront the boss, the yellow cloth finally leaves the soul-starved old man to die, and the way the elder reacts to the fabric leaving his body suggests surprise and confusion. Apparently, he didn’t notice anything was off until that exact moment, presumably sensing the cloth sever their bond and take his soul with it. The elder clearly protests this betrayal, reaching out with almost somber cries as the cloth possesses the summoned black phantom. But the demon merely turns “its” back on its host, and the pathetic fool goes limp, his body darkening to mere black — likely signaling the last remnants of their bond fading away as the soul-starved old man succumbs to his poor health.

Despite the elder’s shock, this soul searching had started as early as when Freke made his way to the enthroned boss after entering the tear to Boletaria. Given his connection to Yormedaar, the wise man most likely came to confirm Latria’s current state of affairs. And after discovering the horrors that had transpired in his absence, he tried and failed to defeat the demon responsible. But rather than killing the sage, said demon had him locked up in the Prison of Hope with the others, though in a special cell whose key is left in the custody of the Fool’s Idol’s puppeteer — that key has even had its engraved part removed so as to make what it opens impossible to identify. The old man most likely recognized Freke and wanted the sage extra secure for future interrogation, choosing to pick his brain rather than suck him dry like the rest — if only he knew that he will never have the chance. Meanwhile, his apprentice escaped back to the Nexus where he pleads for us to help rescue his master. The wise man isn’t alone.

Yurt is another prisoner in Latria, locked up in one of the hanging cages. Although he claims to be a fellow demon slayer, the warrior in cold black iron armor has no interest in our cause. Rather, he was commissioned by the concealers to kill every sane human left in Latria so that the society can horde the magical secrets hidden within the fog for themselves. They refuse to let these secrets to be leaked to the outside world, and they hired the perfect man for the job. Yurt’s use of a shotel implies his membership in the assassin group mentioned in its description — an elite member if his title as the Silent Chief is anything to go by. He has been operating within the fog or a while according to Yuria, slaying many heroes in Boletaria. And if we free him from his cell, the assassin goes on to fulfill his contract unless slain beforehand. He has certainly earned his reputation, though he probably isn’t the only member in the society’s employ — the default black phantom that the yellow cloth possesses wears Yurt’s armor while wielding the sinister claws used by spies, indicating him to be another assassin of this organization. The society most likely hired a number of them, if only to cover more ground.

But while they may be efficient killers, these men have still ended up dead, enslaved, or captured at Latria. Considering that Yurt mainly operates in Boletaria, his visit was most likely reporting to his employer. Among the corpses that we can loot after killing the chimera ball, at least one belongs to a member of the society, so the concealers are more than likely still based in Latria despite the demons’ recent takeover. Yurt was simply captured by the elder’s forces while attempting to contact them in the city, hence why he is imprisoned at the Tower rather than the Prison of Hope like Freke. His dialogue after being freed but not immediately killed reinforces the implication. The assassin apparently reports straight back to Mephistopheles, learning that she has since been monitoring us and supposedly has an eye for talent — which Yurt only realizes is true if we then slay him. His client may also be responsible for the augites of guidance leading to his cage, assuming they weren’t dropped by the assassin himself as he was detained in the hopes of someone coming to rescue him; their reward, being saved for last.

None of these irregularities disrupted the system that the elder put in place. The gears of his grudge still turn when we arrive, its malice ultimately outlasting him. Thanks to the deep fog, a bitter old man’s darkest fantasy has become horrifying reality. And while it probably wasn’t inevitable, it is to be expected. Despite their collective work toward the divine, Latrian culture came to revolve around selfish means to self-serving ends. Only one could become or create that ultimate being, after all. Why wouldn’t it devolve into the most unscrupulous individual superseding the rest to their detriment? Ill will can only corrupt vulnerabilities that already exist, and was the old man really the first? Perhaps building the Prison of Hope adjacent to the Ivory Tower is entirely coincidental, but one might question Latria’s original intentions with how perfectly it fits into the elder’s current system. Put in that light, the research facility seems more like a Tower of Babel, reflecting a single tribe’s futile attempt to reach heaven; instead, their arrogance has created hell on earth.