Chaos Demons


Preface


Izalith is my favorite part of Dark Souls (DS1) lore, so there are certainly elements I enjoy in Dark Souls III. (DS3) And while much of it does simply reiterate statements and implications from the original game, there is a fair amount of new content here as well. In fact, you can argue that the latest game in the series has completed the character arcs of the entire civilization, from its demon subjects to its chaos witches. These developments elevate the material from DS1 and do well to integrate the occasional redundant reference into a greater whole. This includes streamlining questionable decisions made concerning Izalith in Dark Souls II (DS2) into a larger narrative concerning the geopolitics of the setting. Admittedly, the attempt to use the chaos demons as a foil for humans in the setting made it hard to keep engaged with some of these more reiterative elements in the game’s themes. But overall, this sometimes mundane continuation of a past civilization’s story contains enough nuance to be worth telling.


The Death of Chaos


One can scarcely imagine what went through the minds of the chaos demons following the events of DS1. There they were, a ruined and divided race on the cusp of a new golden age for their civilization. And then a single Undead plows through their ranks and murders a slew of their gods including their Lord of Life, mother of Chaos, and source of their power. Things must have looked downright apocalyptic through their eyes. How could Izalithian society recover without Izalith? Who would lead them? What would happen to their race? Where would they live to avoid further attacks? But one among them had the courage to take up these challenges during this time of great uncertainty — for he seemed to be the first to realize that all was not lost. While severely hampered by the death of its host, the Flame of Chaos nonetheless survived. DS2’s Crown of the Ivory King DLC reveals that it had eventually ended up in the far north of Drangleic where it was later sealed by said Ivory King, and it wasn’t the only remnant of chaos fire lingering around after the destruction of the seedbed.

The chaos demons are by their nature vessels for the flame that birthed them, meaning that every surviving demon retained at least a smolder of that flame. This is evidenced by the Stray Demon lacking even a smolder of chaos fire, resulting in its body hardening into solid rock to the point that even its pyromancies only conjure such minerals — what little flame it bleeds is all that is left. All of the demons owe their form to Chaos, and so removing the power of life from the flesh results in it reverting to primordial matter. Vestiges of the flame have thus survived its destruction, imbuing them with the power of life from the Witch of Izalith’s Lord Soul. Losing this power doesn’t appear to be life-threatening. The batwing demons have survived just fine with only the power of sunlight obtained as servants of the Anor Londo gods. The Stray Demon also doesn’t seem to be in any pain, even if shatter its rock solid legs. However, given that the Flame of Chaos was the only means to produce their grotesque lives, its loss would mean the extinction of their race, not to mention the rich culture built around the use and worship of that power.

In that case, why would the chaos demons be concerned? There are plenty of vestiges of chaos fire dispersed amongst the demons and across the land that they call home. This is exemplified by the chaos gem, which came from newborn chaos fire crystallizing with titanite as it first ravaged the land of Izalith. And even if split off into pieces, the power of Chaos can still generate life like when the Chaos of the Orange Charred Ring from DS1 spawned a new demon. Even if they lost the actual Flame of Chaos, wouldn’t there still be more than enough chaos fire to go around? Perhaps not. The only examples of chaos fire spawning grotesque life come from the Flame of Chaos itself and said ring. Even then, the Chaos Flame only actually created twisted lifeforms when interacting with an existing life or drawing on other’s souls to create a seedbed. Likewise, the Orange Charred Ring sparks only the one new life, which can be traced back to it reacting to an existing soul.

There lies the problem. These vestiges of the Flame of Chaos broken off from the original life cannot easily serve as its replacement. The fragments that give each of the demons their form is only enough to maintain them, not create new life. And as we can see with the gifs of various souls for chaos demons from DS1 and in DS3, most demons created by the Flame of Chaos didn’t have souls with radically different affinities from other forms of life. Even if we assume that the soul of Quelaag’s gif didn’t yet account for specific soul affinities, the only difference between hers and that of the Old Demon King who bears comparable chaos power is a more orange coloration the same as some of his other fire-wielding demons. Similarly, the only unique quality to the soul of the Stray Demon is its whiter coloration and slightly duller aura. By all accounts, the Chaos by itself doesn’t significantly change the qualities of the actual soul, so how can we expect small embers to contain life of their own? Even the Fair Lady needed the humanity collected as a Fire Keeper to help birth her offspring as a seedbed.

Standard boss soul (left) compared to demon souls (center) and Soul of a Stray Demon (right)

In other words, the survival of the living Chaos Flame is paramount to the survival of its demons. It must have come as a relief then to know that it had survived, even if free of Izalith’s control. While an unstable flame could spell devastation to their homeland, it also provided them the opportunity to tame the rampaging fire and create a new seedbed. But DS2 confirms that the Flame of Chaos had eventually been displaced farther north where it continued to rampage with the birth of new grotesque life until the arrival of the Ivory King. And not just the fire, as DS2 suggests that a significant portion of Izalith’s ruined city went with it. Much like the case with Anor Londo and Irithyll, the residents of Izalith had to adapt to large parts of their civilization simply disappearing to somewhere else. They had no apparent way of knowing where their precious fire had gone off to, but they could maybe manage so long as Chaos itself remained alive and well. Unfortunately for them, it didn’t.

According to the Soul of a Demon description, the Flame of Chaos no longer exists despite the fire only being sealed underground by ice in DS2. What happened between the events of the two games to lead to its final destruction? There are several possibilities. The priestess responsible for maintaining the seal in DS2, Alsanna, may have succeeded in waiting out the Chaos Flame. Much like the First Flame that it is modeled after, Chaos has to inevitably burn out without the fuel to feed its flame. And despite the apostle of fear’s predictable concern, she was nonetheless a fragment of the soul of a powerful dark sorcerer who was confident that she could maintain the seal until the end of either time or her seemingly immortal body, and her soul was valued equally to that of the Ivory King fueling the Flame of Chaos. Therefore, it is at least feasible for her soul’s power to outlast that of the Chaos Flame, especially if the Ivory King and many of his knights were freed from its clutches.

Soul of a demon. One of the atypical souls tinged with power.

Can either acquire a vast amount of souls by using it or extract its power via molding.

Born from a Flame of Chaos, that fire no longer exists. Thus, the demons are a dying race.

Alternatively, a third party intervened and put a formal end to Chaos and maybe Alsanna with it. Gwyndolin had taken great interest in these lands where the children of Dark chose to reside, save for the kingdom of Shulva. However, Elana merely plotted revenge on the surface deep within the underground ruins of Shulva. And since her vengeance ultimately never materialized due to the events of DS2’s Crown of the Sunken King DLC, it is unlikely that Gwyndolin would hear stories of Elana over the other unholy creatures whose involvement in their kingdoms visibly affected history and geography. And if the Darkmoon deity knew about the Dark spawns, he most certainly would want them to know the vengeance of the gods. Thus, Irithyll may well have sent forces to investigate these rumored badlands and eliminate these Dark abominations in female form along with any other threats they might come across, such as the Flame of Chaos. We may even meet one of its participants.

Tsorig is a curious warrior. His Black Iron previously belonged to DS1’s Black Iron Tarkus and was acquired from the knight’s corpse in Anor Londo, so he is not the source of the Knight Slayer’s title. Nonetheless, Tarkus was a notable warrior among a chivalric order touted as the strongest in its time. In that case, wearing it may be a sign of Tsorig’s respect for the knight and aspirations for similar recognition. If we defeat him when the Knight Slayer invades us in the Catacombs of Carthus, he will make himself available to summon as an ally in Smouldering Lake. This suggests that Tsorig respects strength in combat and so honors his loss by offering his support. Even so, he remains hostile as a non-invader in Smouldering Lake all the same, proving that he ultimately hopes to overcome his strong opponents. This is true even when that opponent is himself, as Tsorig’s white phantom will assist in slaying his actual body at the lake. Due to the nature of summoning, this is feasible, but it also shows that the man wants nothing more than to challenge himself, seemingly so that he too can surpass his own limits and be recognized as the strongest.

It should come as no surprise then that he becomes known as a “knight hunter”. (騎士狩り) Tsorig wears the Knight Slayer’s Ring, which was known as the Ivory Warrior Ring in DS2. According to its description, Tsorig collected this ring from the knights of Eleum Loyce it originally belonged to, stealing one from each knight along with their fingers. This ring implies that Tsorig earned his title brutally killing these knights in Drangleic, hence the fear associated with his name. This is the only obvious example of him actually hunting knights. Although he also wields the Fume Ultra Greatsword from Raime in DS2’s Crown of the Old Iron King DLC, the weapon’s description betrays its past. The sword’s relationship with the traitorous knight who acquired it as part of his dedication to another spawn of the Dark is known, and yet it still found no owner after him due to the incredible weight of the black slab of rock comprising its “blade” and was thus forgotten by history. In other words, Raime died long before Tsorig came along with the strength to pick up this ridiculously heavy sword.

Ring that is known by the name of Knight Hunter Zorig.

Boosts stamina attack power against shield defenses.

Zorig is said to have once took part in mortal combat with guardian warriors at an old capital and stole their frozen rings along with their fingers.

Tsorig has visited both Brume Tower and Eleum Loyce with the obvious intent to hunt the ancient knights whose presence there he could learn from legend, collecting relics of theirs as trophies that prove his strength. Since Raime was killed by the Bearer of the Curse during the events of the DLC, Tsorig opted to instead wield the heaviest ultra greatsword the same as the rebel to prove he matched him in strength. The descriptions for the Knight Slayer Ring and his sword also clarify the timeline of this visit. While Tsorig visits Brume Tower long after Raime’s blade had been forgotten by history, his visit to Eleum Loyce explicitly mentions combating “guardian warriors”  and taking their “frozen” rings, implying that Alsanna’s seal of ice still enveloped the ancient capital at the time. If they were around, then the Flame of Chaos it sealed was probably still around, too. Both Alsanna and the Chaos Flame had survived up until Tsorig’s relatively recently visit to Eleum Loyce, so what happened when they crossed paths with the knight slayer who battles to the death with anyone that could pose a challenge?

Finally, the presence of the black iron set in Anor Londo in DS1 links Tsorig to Irithyll. Gwyndolin did collect equipment from the royal capital’s dead after the events of the original game, so it is possible that he also had Tarkus’ armor in his possession when Tsorig entered the scene. From there, the god could bestow it as a reward for services rendered. One often overlooked detail is the fact that Tsorig invades us as a dark spirit, meaning that he possesses a Red Eye Orb. But, he isn’t one of Rosaria’s fingers and thus most likely acquired the orb from Darkwraiths, knights of New Londo that have been wandering the earth ever since its destruction. If Tsorig was previously hunting the Darkwraiths, then it may have also been done at the Darkmoon god’s discretion or what first put the warrior on his radar. Either way, it sets Tsorig up as someone who can handle the forces of the Dark and has a vested interest in hunting knights. And he just so happens to visit the exact two DS2 DLC areas that the god of the Darkmoon was interested in.

Therefore, Tsorig’s hunts in Drangleic might have been done under Gwyndolin’s patronage so that he could help eliminate any Dark forces on the continent. Mobilizing a large army to cross continents just to investigate legend and hearsay is unnecessary when sending a single explorer or small strike force could accomplish the same objective. And for his part, Tsorig would get to test his mettle against legendary knights, not to mention acquire the black iron armor of one such knight if he hadn’t already. Had he failed, someone else could replace him. Had he succeeded, both parties would benefit. Perhaps the notion of a “Knight Slayer” hunting around Drangleic is FromSoftware poking fun at actual criticism of DS2 being oversaturated with armored knights, but there is ample reason for Irithyll to strike an accord with Tsorig.

Of course, slaying Alsanna would have long-term consequences for the ice sealing what’s left of the Flame of Chaos, so it too would need to be dealt with. And after taking the lengthy time it spent sealed without fuel into consideration, ending the Chaos Flame for good may not have been that difficult a feat. And if Tsorig did destroy the flame of the Life Soul, then its actual destruction has possibly only occurred in rather recent history. When we encounter Tsorig both in person and as a phantom, he never uses Estus indicative of undeath. Although it is possible that the strong warrior is simply confident in his constitution, this apparent lack of an Estus Flask suggests that he is actually a normal human. In that case, his knight slaying and anything that went with it has been limited to the last few decades of his life at most. This is feasible since Gwyndolin had also been ruling Irithyll up until recent decades, leaving a window for their collaboration.


Salvage the Smolder


Whatever the truth, the fact remains that the Flame of Chaos met its end, leading to the demons it bore becoming a dying race. While “stray demons” were present in DS1, the Stray Demon of DS3 alone has lost its smolder. It is also the only one who has spent a prolonged period of time outside Smouldering Lake after the destruction of the Chaos Flame, excluding the batwing demons who have long stopped relying on Chaos for power. With that in mind, the demon’s current state is likely a side effect of the fire’s destruction. The Flame of Chaos is the First Flame for the grotesque life spawned from a seedbed, so what we see with the demons parallels what we see with the life derived from the First Flame — the description for Chaos Bed Vestige even notes mankind’s similar relationship with fire.

Vestiges of the seedbed which birthed the demons.

Throws chaos fire that burns the surroundings.

The demons who were born from fire are dying carrying smolders of it. That is also man’s present with fire.

And what relationship do we see? As the First Flame’s effect upon this stagnant world wanes, many human bodies petrify. In this way, the rock form of the Stray Demon can also be attributed to the Flame of Chaos going out, which would naturally weaken the bonds between the vestiges of chaos fire that the demons carry. In an environment devoid of its First Flame, the chaos demons own fire eventually burned out. This helps explain the others’ continued habitation underground. Smouldering Lake is bathed in embers, which fits with the location of the cavern housing Izalith on the same level as Ash Lake in DS1. The portion of the Lower World near the Flame of Chaos’ birthplace has become an area rich in the fire remaining in the region even after the source drifted to Drangleic. Gathering the demons in this high density of flame has created a cumulative heating effect, the bonds between each smolder reinforcing each other so that they last longer than otherwise. In that case, it was in the chaos demons’ next best interest to coalesce every piece of their First Flame that they could find. And one such demon had done so better than others.

While chaos fire is retained by every surviving demon and littering the very air of Izalith’s territory, most demons do not exhibit it. By contrast, the demon royalty quite explicitly wield the power of Chaos and in fact radiate its fire. It seems likely then that this fire has been horded by the Old Demon King. The use of rou (老) rather than furu (古) suggests that this “old” king is physically aged and thus is in the latter stages of a chaos demon’s life cycle. This makes him exceptionally old among an age-old race, likely among the earlier demons. This also places him as one who has experienced both the rise and fall of Izalithian civilization. Perhaps this longevity alone explains the amount of power he wields, power collected over the course of a long life in service to the Chaos Flame. However, it seems that much of it comes from particular sources.

The Old King’s Great Hammer is a mass of rock crudely shaped to have a long hilt. However, it is a weapon that “knows” old Izalith and keeps remnants of chaos fire as seen by the various forms of lava it generates. It is thus most likely derived from some of the land that had been ravaged by the Flame of Chaos. Based on this and its crude make, the hammer was created fairly early on, when the civilization was first experimenting with the power — hence its sloppy artistry compared to the Demon’s Great Hammer of DS1. That same game implicated weapons imbued with chaos fire to be “demon weapons”, although the only actual example of such was the sword possessed by Quelaag. Other demons wielded mundane weapons finely carved from the bones of their kin or the stone of archtrees. And while DS3 adds demons wielding a fire-imbued greataxe, it is never clarified to be chaos fire. If the Old Demon King owned this chaos weapon since its creation, then he has carried it for almost the entirety of his lifespan as a demon.

Old King’s Great Hammer (left) compared to Demon’s Great Hammer (right)

Great hammer of the Old Demon King.

It is a weapon that knows old Izalith and keeps a vestige of the Flame of Chaos’ power.

Therefore, the future king was likely among the earliest of Izalith’s demon warriors, perhaps also earning himself a lofty rank or status because of it. He is unlikely to have been among the very first demons, however. Although the Old Demon King conjures molten earth from his weapon and chaos fire from his hand and the very earth, that same hammer derived from his soul doesn’t double as a sorcery staff. This means that he is unlikely to be one of the first demons who went on to learn flame sorcery and become demon priests. Rather, the Old Demon King is a pyromancer and so likely joined Izalithian civilization during the following period when the witches invented pyromancy and first taught it to humans. If so, he was fortunate to have never encountered the Chosen Undead during the events of DS1. And in that case, he too “knows” the Chaos of Izalith from absorbing his weapon’s power since long before the Flame of Chaos was lost, hence the pyromancy derived from his soul conjuring a large vestige of the original seedbed of Chaos.

Supporting this notion is the fact that the Old Demon King is the “last” to know the Chaos of Izalith by the time we encounter him. The description for his soul purports this despite the existence of other surviving chaos demons like him, some even radiating fire with a soul identical to their king. But the king alone exudes chaos fire from his very being, which can be traced back to his direct experiences with the Flame of Chaos and large remnants derived from it. Put simply, it implies that the bodies of every other chaos demon we encounter have never experienced that power. Batwing demons forsook what Chaos that they had for sunlight, and most others only know smolders or derive Chaos from pyromancy flames. The only one whose body has internalized chaos fire the same as the Old Demon King is the Demon Prince, who is dead whenever we actually battle with the king. This makes the king the only demon to have collected a significant amount of chaos fire within his actual body, though separate from his soul since it doesn’t differ from that of similarly large demon souls.

Soul of the Old Demon King. One of the atypical souls tinged with power.

Can either acquire a vast amount of souls by using it or extract its power via molding.

The emaciated, cinder-like Old King was the last body to know the Chaos of Izalith.

Much like the four Lords that came before, this put the Old Demon King in a position to set up a kingdom around the power he had amassed. He could create a hierarchy over his tribe through sheer might and then distribute shares of flame to those who recognized his authority over them. In this way, he would be able to crown himself king of the demons and rebuild Izalithian society as his new demon kingdom. Considering that this elder would lack this leverage so long as the actual Flame of Chaos was present, he probably only established his reign after it had disappeared. Whether the demons organized under a different system or fell into total anarchy following the death of the seedbed, the loss of access to the Flame of Chaos presented the perfect opportunity for the Old Demon King to come to power. And once he did, his focus seemed to continue to be collecting the remaining chaos fire. Whether the Flame was missing or gone, they still needed to find what embers they could. The Demon King could then share these vestiges with his brethren as needed, restoring order and security to his people.


Change of Scenery


Despite these attempts to rebuild their civilization, the demons were apparently still unable to rebuild their actual capital. The topography of Smouldering Lake indicates it to be within the same vicinity as the lava-rich caverns that Izalith called home, and our discovery of an Izalithian pyromancy tome prompts Cornyx to conclude that we have discovered the actual lost city from DS1. However, we don’t see any substantial amount of Izalithian architecture anywhere in the area, even on the horizon. Instead, the demons have taken over the Catacombs of Carthus’ lower levels after the tombs drifted to Lothric, intersecting with their territory. Everything in these demon ruins from the iconography to the graves to the bones to the rugs are from the desert kingdom. Evidently, the demons didn’t have a city to call their own anymore, which is fair considering the state of the capital in DS1 even before parts warped to the New World. The remaining demons probably continued to live in what was left of the ruins, but they seem to have ben quick to vacate the old city once a new option arrived, perhaps due to other factors.

Cornyx affirms that Izalith is one of the homelands that drifted to Lothric, making it possibly one of the initial lands that the northern kingdom assailed. The Flame Stoneplate Ring was given to knights who answer Chaos specifically, so there has been some conflict between the worlds of man and demon. If Lothric had sacked what remained of the ruined capital of Chaos, then the demons had to have fled with their lives. Cornyx never mentions a war, but the old man is uncertain about even the validity of old “legends” of the drift circulated amongst his colleagues, so it clearly wouldn’t have impacted the world much. He also refers to Quelana as the “last” witch despite the Fair Lady’s evidently surviving the events of DS1, confirming that Izalith’s internal matters still weren’t broadcast to the public. Even assuming that the subterranean civilization evaded conflict with the locals after appearing in another land without warning, once the Catacombs of Carthus arrived, the demons considered it free real estate.

The place the Kings’ homelands drift to, Lothric. It’s said the homeland of pyromancy has also drifted to this land… There are legends like that amongst pyromancers of the Great Swamp. The homeland’s name is Izalith. If true, I want to touch the primal arts. Well, it’s an old story. There’s no guarantee it’s any good.

The Old Demon King has converted a large portion of the tombs into an antechamber for his apparent palace, while the large archway partitioning his boss room from the rest of the lake seems to mark a sort of throne room or personal chamber with a similar function. This is evidenced by the rug laid along the path through this archway, a decoration imbuing the chamber ahead with a sense of prestige not seen elsewhere in the ruins. Rather, these other chambers have been decorated with the demon statues that previously guarded the city of Izalith. Not all of these renovation were artificial, of course. Archtree roots burrow between the stone for much of the complex thanks to years of being situated beneath the lake. And several of the lower regions have at least recently flooded with lava that had previously oozed from the earth of Izalith. All in all, these tombs give off the same nostalgic air as the ruined metropolis that these demons once called home. That said, any relation between Carthus and Izalith likely ends there.

Although Cornyx notes Carthus pyromancies to be near Chaos in nature and thereby surmises a connection with Izalith, this seems wildly off-base. Of the Carthus pyromancies we can learn, only Carthus Flame Arc bears even a tenuous connection to Izalith, and only so far as its DS2 iteration represented the Witch’s use of flame sorcery before inventing pyromancy. There is no indication of chaos fire playing any role in either version of the spell, and it would contradict Carthus Pyromancy Tome’s description of the desert nation developing its arts in isolation. An obvious typo in the same description concerning the tome’s contents only highlights this discrepancy — evidently, FromSoftware lazily copied a line directly from the Great Swamp Pyromancy Tome and forgot to edit it to “Carthus”. Without a doubt, the script has hiccups in this area, muddying the developers’ ultimate intention. In all likelihood, Cornyx’s allusions to a connection is a relic of an earlier concept during development.

Ah, it’s a pyromancy book of the Catacombs you found… But those pyromancies are near Chaos in their properties. Or perhaps they’re connected. To the homeland of pyromancy, Izalith…

Pyromancy book of Carthus. Pyromancies for battle are jotted down in it.

Can learn superior pyromancies of the Great Swamp by giving it to a pyromancy teacher.

It is said that pyromancers of Carthus didn’t have cultural exchange with others, and that their pyromancy achieved unique developments.

Concept art confirms that FromSoftware had planned for Smouldering Lake to feature ruins styled the same as the chaos capital seen in DS1, similar to DS3’s rendition of Anor Londo. In other words, Carthus would have most likely been its Irithyll, justifying Cornyx’s insinuation. However, development problems evidenced in the game files suggest that they were forced to cut back on this vision and instead reuse existing assets for the Catacombs of Carthus. The concept changed from “Carthus grew out of Izalith” to “Izalith took over Carthus”, and the script changed accordingly. During these revisions for both areas, Cornyx’s admittedly obscure comments plus key typos were overlooked, resulting in the current oddities. But considering all other evidence presented in the final game, Carthus’ only link to Izalith is entirely incidental. It is simply an unrelated human nation which happened to intersect with the demons’ territory via the drift.

As to the timing of these spatial drifts, the displacement of the Old Chaos to the Drangleic region didn’t occur immediately after the events of DS1, at least. Cornyx knows about Quelana’s history as a “vagrant” who lost most of her family, so stories of her wandering Blighttown’s Poison Swamp and the Chosen Undead battling her kin must have spread beyond Lordran before the drift. At the same time, the timing of Anor Londo’s own drift to Drangleic suggests that it wasn’t too long before parts of Izalith warped as well. As for the rest of the land’s drift to Lothric, Cornyx implies it to have been passed down since even before his lifetime, dating it to a century or two ago at minimum. This leaves plenty of time between the chaos demons losing track of their First Flame and moving into the Carthus ruins, time which they used to rebuild their culture without it.


Tempered Renaissance


Being the Old Demon King’s palace, it comes as no surprise that the Fair Lady was also enshrined in the ruins. Behind an illusory wall lies the remains of the witch’s demonic lower half; nearby, a lava-flooded chamber with scorched corpses carrying Toxic Mist and the White Hair Talisman. The former is a pyromancy developed by Eingyi that was never known to the Great Swamp. This fact reinforces DS1’s implication that this improvement to Poison Mist — which is now accepted in the Great Swamp — was only created after the Undead pyromancer was exiled by his homeland, particularly during his time at the Poison Swamp where he met the Fair Lady. This means that Eingyi was present to teach this pyromancy to humans in the ruins, and he only taught his arts to trusted servants of the Fair Lady whom he always closely guarded.

The other item is a miracle talisman comprised of the Fair Lady’s white hair due to it containing the witch’s Chaos power — even using the Old Witch’s Ring needed to communicate with her in DS1 to tie its knot. This again proves the Fair Lady’s presence in the area, and together both items’ proximity to the spider demon corpse guarantee her survival up until fairly recently. This was apparently her personal chamber, as the Demon King went the extra mile to install demon statues on ornate stands at the main entrance. This act betrays the status that the daughter of Izalith still held among the followers of Chaos, especially for the future of their race. The White Hair Talisman can double as a pyromancy flame, emphasizing the religious aspects of pyromancy in Izalithian culture. The witches of Izalith are gods to worshipers of Chaos, and the Fair Lady was held in especially high regard to human converts in DS1. With the death of her mother and most of her sisters, the Fair Lady’s importance in the pantheon would naturally grow. But even before then, she was already crucial to Izalithian society.

Talisman of a tuft of white hair.

It is said that that hair’s owner was a grotesque girl and that she was a member of the witches of chaos, the founders of pyromancy.

Thus, this mysterious talisman allows the use of magic of either miracles or pyromancies.

Surrounding the spider demon’s body are the same eggs she laid in DS1, revealing her continued effort to birth new generations of demons. In DS1, Quelaag had attempted to use the principles behind Chaos and Fire Keepers to make her younger sister into a new seedbed that would birth demon parasites that would combine with their followers. This plan to revitalize their dying land with new demons ultimately failed due to the Fair Lady’s compassion for her followers resulting in her sharing their debilitating sickness. But despite all the stillborn eggs she had laid thereafter, she apparently continued to try. Even more of these eggs can be found in a larger chamber directly below hers. The fact that this chamber is flooded and free of the embers littering the rest of the area indicates it to have a much cooler temperature, which is probably why the vast majority of eggs were left to incubate there. Despite past failures, the Fair Lady has done her best to fulfill her deceased elder sister’s plan after all of these years.

The presence of a god also explains why we find demon deacons there. As their name suggests, these demons are clergymen in the same vein as the firesages from DS1, and their practice of pyromancy rather than flame sorcery is likely why they are “deacons” and not “priests”. Deacons typically rank below priests, and pyromancy is much easier to learn than sorcery due to it being possible to wield the former through sheer faith rather than technical knowledge gained through reason. Since only a select few demons are shown to ever practice pyromancy, this rank was likely created to sanctify demons that learned the holy fire arts and were thus close to the Izalithian gods but not to the same degree as the firesages. With no evidence of the flame priests and deacons coexisting, the latter was likely established to succeed the former’s role in Izalithian religion after their apparent extinction during the events of DS1. The fact that the enemy’s internal name is “demon priest” (デーモン司祭) reinforces this idea.

It is only natural that demon clergy would congregate around the den of their god as part of their religious capacity, whether as the god’s attendants or mediators. However, the presence of Eingyi and other humans with holy items linked to the Fair Lady imply that the members of the Servants of Chaos had also been successfully integrated into the new kingdom, continuing their worship of the Fair Lady seen in DS1. Even if they could no longer merge all their human followers with her parasites, the demons still welcomed them among their number and didn’t seem to bar them from obtaining something as holy as her hair. While this may have been at the discretion of their compassionate goddess, it nonetheless demonstrates the demons’ tolerance of humans despite a human contributing to their civilization’s decline. This repopulation didn’t end with the Undead of Blighttown either.

A corpse found in the Abandoned Tomb carries the Old Sage’s Blindfold and the Witch’s Ring, the former of which belongs to a master pyromancer of the Great Swamp. Despite what the localization may imply, this Witch’s Ring is actually a “witches’ ring”, emphasis on multiple. This is because it is a ring that was given by all the witches back when Izalith had a human population who could benefit from its boost to pyromancies, resulting in a fable of their teachings being passed down in the Great Swamp. This is why it shares the same design as the Orange Charred Ring from DS1, another gift from the witches during the early days of Izalith’s rebirth as a chaos civilization. But, the fact that the ring is possessed by a Great Swamp pyromancer of this era at this location suggests he or she had learned from the witches just like the stories. Indeed, another human corpse kneeling before the corpse of a demon deacon is clutching the Izalith Pyromancy Tome. We can thus be certain that pyromancers of the Great Swamp had made the trek to Izalith and joined its demon society.

Witch’s Ring (left) compared to Orange Charred Ring (right)

Ring that the witches of Izalith who were burned by the Flame of Chaos are said to have given after imparting pyromancy to man.

Greatly boosts the might of pyromancies.

It is said that the witches imparted a fear of flame, and imparted pyromancy for them to control it. That is a fairy tale known to every pyromancer.

Dunnel is a pyromancer who learned various pyromancies exclusive to Izalith. This includes Chaos Storm and Vestiges of Chaos, the latter of which he learned from observing the deacons. In other words, he too became part of Izalithian society, learning the Chaos arts from its texts and clergy. This in all likelihood relates to his marriage. Dunnel is noted to have an “ugly” and most certainly deceased spouse. “Ugly” could pertain to any demon, but is most aptly used for the Fair Lady in reference to her nightmarish lower half and sickly upper half. The Fair Lady is clearly dead and someone whose location and status would put Dunnel in regular contact with the deacons. Moreover, Dunnel wields the Chaos Blade, a sword that has previously only been derived from the souls of witches of Izalith to manifest their Chaos nature as a physical weapon. This is why it is called a maken, (魔剣) which commonly refers to “cursed” swords that cause calamity due to being in some way possessed by an evil spirit — hence employing a kanji also used for “demon”, akuma. (悪魔) All of this implies that Dunnel acquired the soul of one such witch, and who would be more appropriate than his spouse?

Cursed sword of unknown origin with a bizarre streak-style design on its blade.

Injuries to enemies simultaneously injure self.

It is said that it resembles a grotesque life that was born but not desired and thus takes the name of “Chaos”.

Ceremonial pyromancy that charmed Dunnel, the death-spotted pyromancer. The deacons of Smoldering Lake use it.

Floats a fireball of chaos that releases a splash.

It is said that the Chaos which burns out in a moment is still the primal life that was produced in a seedbed. It is probably pitiful proof, of Izalith’s sin.

The Pyromancer’s Parting Flame is more accurately a “Pyromancy Send-off Fire” (呪術の送り火) in reference to the Japanese practice of okuribi (送り火) as part of Obon. During this Buddhist festival, families honor their deceased ancestors who are believed to return to the earth, and sometimes light a bonfire as a send-off for their return to the spirit world. This makes Dunnel’s pyromancy flame a means to honor his spouse after death, hence referencing her in its description. As part of dedicating it to this end, the flame collects any and all “remnants of death” which can then be unleashed to acquire some more Estus. These remnants are presumably souls of the dead that  catalyze the flame into creating the liquid heat of Undead bonfires, but the effect is nonetheless odd for a pyromancy flame. However, the Fair Lady was a Fire Keeper, so it is feasible for her soul or the flames it produced to function like a bonfire. And if the flame derives from her and serves as a send-off for Dunnel’s spouse, then she is most likely that spouse.

Pyromancy fire utilized by Dunnel, the death-spotted pyromancer. Collects any and all remnants from death.

It was offered to the death of Dunnel’s ugly spouse and became a send-off fire, and it is said that he became a mad spirit.

Battle Art is “Send-off Fire”. Unleash the remnants of death and acquire some of its Estus in exchange.

Dunnel is just one in a trend of pyromancers immigrating to Izalith. Considering that it lacking a human population was one of the ruined nation’s biggest setbacks in DS1, the addition of any new humans to their ranks must have been welcome. Whether as new servants or soldiers, they would benefit their civilization greatly in the long run, even if this growth came at a less than steady pace. Although they conquered parts of Carthus due to it overlapping with their territory, there has been no evidence of the chaos demons moving outside of that territory until very recently. By all accounts, the demons seem to have kept to themselves since the destruction of the seedbed. And while their suffering at the hands of outsiders gives them every reason to be reclusive, they reveal no signs of hostility toward prospective devotees of Chaos from the world of man. They just wanted their people to be left alone. This tolerance was in all likelihood for their own survival.

The demons are as dying a race as the Chaos Flame that made them. Various item descriptions reiterate the fact that their existence is a mistake, a sin, unnatural life as grotesque as their forms. But even so, they try to keep their First Flame alive as much as medials and humans do theirs, clinging to their grotesque lives and way of life despite it defying the natural order. And if they intend to hang on, it is best they don’t disturb the established way of things more than necessary. They had neither the numbers nor the firepower to take an aggressive stance against the gods of Anor Londo or the world of man they called their followers. Thus, any resentment that the demons harbored may have been squelched for the sake of practicality. Regardless, their common cause with humans also considered heretical or otherwise profane, namely Undead and pyromancers, probably did much to promote coexistence between the races.

Weapon of choice of demons. Greataxe reserving the power of fire.

The demons that were born from Chaos all carry fire and are cracked and warped. For they shouldn’t have been born.

Battle art is “Demon’s Blow”. Intensely burn the fire it carried at once and strike enemies and the ground.

Aside from humans, the new demon kingdom also saw the arrival of Quelana. Laying against the Fair Lady’s corpse is a humanoid body carrying the witch’s pyromancy tome for the spells she had taught in DS1. After informing Cornyx of where we found it, he concludes that Quelana returned to Izalith since the events of the first game. This is monumental. The eldest Daughter of Chaos encountered in DS1 was too afraid to face the family she abandoned during Izalith’s war with Anor Londo, preferring the life of an invisible vagabond to actually owning up to her cowardice. And when she finally did work up the courage to take action concerning her family, it was to request the Chosen Undead to mercy kill her remaining family for her. And yet following the events of the original game, the witch willingly returned to demon society. What changed? Maybe she was forced to resolve her guilt on her own.

Oh, this is… I don’t believe it. This inscription is Quelana, the old god, one of the witches of Izalith… The last witch, a vagrant. So she ultimately returned to her homeland?

Quelana is noted to have not taken on any apprentices after Salaman, which may imply that our optional encounter with the witch and her potential request that we put down her mother on her behalf in DS1 never occurred. With Quelana simply experiencing the massacre of her family as an outsider without prompting her own apprentice, the witch might see her private wish for their deaths in a new, more horrifying light. Of course, the description may simply be acknowledging that Quelana’s last disciple after Salaman was the Chosen Undead, meaning that she had never again personally taught anyone as her pupil since the events of DS1. Either way, Quelana certainly had a change to thinking after the destruction of the Bed of Chaos. In DS1, the witch believed that killing her mother was a mercy for a woman whose arrogance led to a millennium of suffering to save an inevitably doomed civilization. Yet the demons continue to carry Izalith’s torch and Quelana stood among them, as if to rebuke her previous mentality.

Pyromancy book of Craana. Her unique pyromancies are jotted down in it, and only a woman can learn them as a teacher.

Can learn Craana’s pyromancies by giving it to a female teacher of pyromancy.

It is said that Craana, who was a survivor of the witches of Izalith, once acquired one human apprentice. “And didn’t take on a new apprentice since.”

Did the witch realize that her wishes were just as self-serving as her mother’s ambitions? Did she see the demons’ struggle to survive even after losing the crux of their society and sympathize? Did she hear the cries of the blind and ill Fair Lady, the last family she had left then, and weep? All of these factors likely played a role in Quelana’s evolving perspective on the issue, but love for her family may have been at the forefront. As Eingyi mused in DS1, Quelana would have given the Fair Lady great comfort. She was the demon’s elder sister, but instead of being there for her in her time of need, she continued to run away for fear of facing their scorn, so much so that she was willing to hoist her ideals onto them, and through a proxy no less. How long would she let others suffer at the expense of her cowardice? At that point, Quelana’s heart probably couldn’t take it anymore — she needed to be brave.

The results seem to have been favorable if their skinship at the end is any indication. If there was any animosity toward the witch for abandoning her younger sister or their people, it had long since been resolved. Quelana rejoined Izalithian society to support her sister, eventually living with her at the Old Demon King’s palace. A chest is one of the chambers near the Fair Lady’s eggs contains an Izalith staff that the daughters had used for their flame sorcery. Even though the era of flame sorcery has long past, it is still an important memento of the witches’ past as both sorcerers and shamans for fire and Chaos. Therefore, the fact this personal item can be acquired there indicates that this section of the catacombs has clearly been repurposed as not just their shrine but also their residence. Perhaps the goddesses continued to act as magical and spiritual guides, advising the Old Demon King and other subjects through these dark times. But after countless years have come and gone, the king grew old. And in his old age, death would eventually come, so he would need to prepare a successor, namely the Demon Prince.

There is no reference to a Demon Queen or any evidence to her existence. Neither is there indication that the chaos demons can conventionally reproduce. The closest example of such is the Fair Lady, whose eggs are fertilized by the humanity offered to the bonfire she embodies rather than other demons. If the demons could swell their numbers via merely sexual intercourse, then their race would not have been dying. It is quite likely then that the Demon Prince is not their king’s biological son but a particularly powerful demon he adopted. But considering the current state of chaos fire, where did he come from? The eggs in the waterlogged chamber have hatched, meaning that the Fair Lady has recovered from at least the most debilitating effect of her sickness. And if she could produce viable offspring, then she could have been the Demon Prince’s mother. In other words, the new demon subspecies that we can encounter are all potentially products of a new seedbed merging humans with parasites.

The Soul of the Demon Prince lends further credence to this idea. Although the souls of both the Old Demon King and the fire demons are portrayed as the standard boss soul with an orange hue, the tiny fragment of the Demon Prince’s soul within the soul of the Demon From Below or the Demon in Pain is rekindled with the power to completely consume it in flame. This is far more chaos fire than the other demon boss souls possess, so where did the Demon Prince acquire all of this overwhelming power if not just his father’s remaining fire? If it originates from his soul, then he was likely born with it. And if a seedbed of Chaos is the only way to birth new demons, then they must all be a product of the Fair Lady’s parasites. Between the innate power of a chaos witch and the embers horded by the king, the Demon Prince would inherit a tremendous amount of the Flame of Chaos, surpassing his adoptive father. In that case, the Fair Lady gave her people a shot at a new golden age, a fact that disturbed the established order.


War Again


When we explore Smouldering Lake, we find the vast majority of the chaos demons dead. Evidently, they were recently massacred, and the culprits are easy to identify. On one end of the area, various archtrees trying to regrow from having been suspiciously cut to stumps, no debris in sight. This clears the way for an automated ballista to shoot at us from the clifftop. From up there, we can find corpses of the giant slaves who once maintained it and spot Irithyll Dungeon through a nearby hole in the cavern’s ceiling adjacent to another archtree stump. While looking at the hole from the opposite side only reveals black shadows covering the spot, we can assume that the areas were once connected by the staircase leading to the dungeon from the Deserted Manor. Were the stairs not broken, their projected path along the cliff past the dungeon would eventually lead to that same spot. This makes sense since the two areas had originally been connected in earlier versions of the game. In other words, access to Smouldering Lake from Irithyll was removed after the giants came down and installed the ballista. Pontiff Sulyvahn has clearly mobilized against the chaos demons, and he wasn’t alone.

The Stray Demon has been acting as Lothric’s gatekeeper, but what is it doing so far from home? The Stray Demon from DS1 was Anor Londo’s prisoner of war from its conflict with Izalith who had later been repurposed as a prison warden for the original Undead mission. In that case, the Stray Demon in Lothric likely bears a similar history, captured as a war trophy for the kingdom to show off to foreign visitors. This spoil was unlikely to be from some conflict with Izalith long ago, either. Prince Lorian slew the Demon Prince, so the young man has been battling chaos demons around the same period that Irithyll engaged them. Moreover, a prince of Lothric is probably not challenging Izalithian royalty without an army at his back.

Soul of the Stray Demon. One of the atypical souls tinged with power.

Can either acquire a vast amount of souls by using it or extract its power via molding.

It is said that the Stray Demon that lost even a smolder of flame was once the gatekeeper of Lothric.

The description for the Flame Stoneplate Ring claims it is given to brave knights who face Chaos, yet we acquire it in the Undead Settlement. This suggests that the ring’s owner was a Lothric Knight who turned Undead and was subsequently exiled to the town, possibly for facing those very forces of Chaos. Moreover, one of our possible burial gifts at the start of the game is a Fire Gem, the description of which notes it to be occasionally found within demons. Curious how one manages to ingest titanite, imbued with fire or otherwise, but it implies that Lothric had a supply on-hand. Was it merely a kind gift to a fireless ash or another example of the country’s spoils of war? The item is mostly dropped by enemies native to Smouldering Lake or the workers of the Undead Settlement, so it is certainly not something being made or distributed just about anywhere.

A more obvious example is the Chaos Blade wielded by the sword master encountered at Firelink Shrine, though he initially only employs an uchigatana. But Dunnel has already used the soul of his beloved demon witch wife to transpose one, leaving Quelana as the sword master’s only option. In that case, he is both witches’ probable killer. Considering his name, immediate aggression, and choice of weapons, the sword master is an easterner hoping to test his skills in foreign lands, similar to Tsorig. Indeed, defeating him leads to the old man offering us aid as a white spirit, demonstrating his respect for being bested. And considering that he is never available beyond the High Wall or within Lothric Castle, he probably emigrated to Lothric as an army recruit, only to later die, turn Undead, become unkindled in testing his mettle against the Soul of Cinder, and be buried at the shrine until the bell tolled — though he insists that his shabby clothes are because he so perfectly dodged sword strikes that only the fabric was touched. If he fought for Lothric, then he probably also fought chaos demons, providing the old man his opportunity to harvest Quelana’s soul.

Finally, Lothric’s scholars have obtained the pyromancy text for Power Within and fashioned a whip out of a witch of Izalith’s black hair. Since she was the only surviving Daughter of Chaos to have black hair and use the Fire Whip spell, the whips’ hair most likely belongs to Quelana. This means that the scholars either collected it themselves or requested ground forces to do it. In either case, the sheer amount compared to the White Hair Talisman discounts the notion that this act was done with any care for the witch’s appearance or well being. Put simply, the hair was likely scalped off her corpse. And given that he was already taking her soul to forge a new katana, the sword master may well have been the one tasked with doing the scalping.

Whip said to have been the bundled-up black hair of a daughter of the Witch of Izalith who created the fire of chaos.

The long, supple black hair carries the power of fire and releases it due to its Battle Art.

Battle Art is “Flame Whip”. Briefly cover the entire whip in fire. It is probably the same that consumed the witch.

Taken together, a coalition force of Irithyll and Lothric’s armies invaded the demon kingdom in a war the like of which hadn’t been seen since before Gwyn linked the fire. As to their motives, Pontiff Sulyvahn may have been unnerved by the demons’ close proximity to Irithyll. Izalith had rebelled against the Anor Londo gods before and needed to be debilitated, so who is to say that the demons won’t come back with a vengeance? Better to make the first move while their military still wasn’t fully ready. King Oceiros on the other hand may have simply been honoring his good relations with Sulyvahn; if Irithyll went to war, then Lothric would join them. This would reinforce their diplomatic ties, prevent a potential threat to the firelinking system in the future, and give Lothric prestige with neighboring countries for victory over heretical monsters. Lothric’s scholars were clearly interested in researching the properties of Chaos in a god’s hair as well, and Lorian’s sword ended up imbued with the Demon Prince’s smolder, giving him fire power equal to a Lord of Cinder. Why not go to war?

But undergirding the political incentives was likely a very real fear of the chaos demons multiplying. And yet, if the war was actually intended to completely exterminate the demons, it did a sloppy job of it. Multiple high-profile demons end up surviving the conflict, including their king. But if their objective was something else entirely, then this outcome makes more sense. Among the confirmed dead are the Fair Lady and Quelana. While it seems that their followers attempted to hide them behind an illusory wall, they were evidently discovered through the side entrance to the chamber and killed anyway. And with all the witches of Izalith dead, the demons lost any chance of bolstering their numbers and restoring their civilization to its former glory. Moreover, culling their numbers meant that they could never mount a significant counterattack. Sulyvahn certainly felt secure leaving only a strategically-placed ballista maintained by a skeleton crew to defend the easiest point for the demons to invade from, breaking the staircase connecting the two areas for good measure. In this light, Irithyll and Lothric’s objective was likely always the Izalithian gods. Once they had been slain, their forces pulled out without killing the remaining demons. The enemy forces were decimated and had no means to recoup their losses. Why potentially sacrifice more soldiers and resources hunting down every last one of them at that point?

With the spotlight firmly on her, fate gave Quelana a second chance. Once again, her people were caught up in a war they couldn’t hope to win. Once again, staying there with them meant almost certain death. Once again, she had the opportunity to abandon it all and escape with her life. But she didn’t repeat her mistake. This time, she stayed. This time, she kept fighting. This time, she acted like the eldest sister and protected her family to the bitter end, shielding her with her own body with her dying breaths — a heroic if tragic end to the story of a coward who always fled responsibility. But sentimental story developments aside, the two might have been able to escape and live to rebuild the demon kingdom another day. Even if all the other demons died, the Fair Lady could still produce eggs, hence why they went to such lengths to hide the goddess. But based on her corpse, she likely still couldn’t effectively move in her ill health, and Quelana wasn’t going to abandon her family again.

Once the coalition forces accomplished their objectives and withdrew, the survivors were left to pick up the pieces. Dunnel discovered his wife’s corpse and eulogized her in pyromancy before leaving Smouldering Lake behind. With no home to return to, he fittingly ended up in the painting world where he ultimately went mad with grief. This is reaffirmed by his moniker. Although cleverly called the “Livid Pyromancer” in English, shihan (死斑) literally means “death-spots” in reference to the blue discoloration caused by livor mortis. While this doesn’t have the same wordplay for rage as lividity in English, the term for “spots” is also used to describe the “streaks” on the face of the Chaos Blade, reinforcing the implication that his current state is a result of the Fair Lady’s death. The presence of a corpse carrying his parting flame just before he invades may mean he took on and later killed an apprentice in his volatile state, but it may just as well be Dunnel himself. If the latter, then the mad spirit invading us is a man destined for suicide — anger does precede depression in the stages of grief.

Moving on from Dunnel, other human followers probably did the same. Kirk was a zealous member of the Chaos Servants in DS1, but DS3 has the Knight of Thorns invade us at the Cathedral of the Deep as a finger of Rosaria. And when his dark spirit is defeated, a corpse with his equipment will spawn near the Mother of Rebirth, just like how such a body would appear near the Fair Lady in DS1. This implies that Kirk has since replaced the goddess of Izalith with the new goddess of the Deep. The knight had more than likely continued to serve the Fair Lady up until her recent demise, at which point he left Smouldering Lake behind. And whether due to foreknowledge or happenstance, Kirk eventually came across Rosaria, another maternal figure who wouldn’t take issue with his use of Dark powers and be happy to have his talent for murder. It is only natural that the Darkwraith would devote himself to the Mother of Rebirth in order to fill the gap that his last goddess left with her death.

At least a few chaos demons have begun wandering on their own, one wreaking havoc in the Undead Settlement by the time we arrive. Perhaps this fire demon wants revenge on the humans who destroyed his civilization, but he is unlikely to be coordinating his actions with anyone else. Two others managed to collect remnants of the Demon Prince’s soul and eventually end up scavenging skeletons at the bottom of the Dreg Heap. If their sorry state wasn’t evident enough, their occasional cries are a sign of illness according to the stone-humped hag. It is true that we can see them belch fluid from the swamp we battle them in, which they use to produce toxic gas by breathing it out and in one case seemingly combining it with principles of flame pyromancies. Moreover, the Demon in Pain is a “wounded” demon with many more obvious breaks in the skin than its otherwise identical counterpart, referenced as specifically being bitten in the game files. These two have been struggling just to survive this harsh world after the collapse of their nation, which is why the old woman believes their moans are also cursing humans.

… Ah, that’s right, if you’re curious, be careful. There’s a big, dark tree hollow far below here… You occasionally hear them from that hollow even now. The voices of the demons Prince Lorian spoke of. Afflicted by illness, but still cursing man. The voices of such monsters.

Some chaos demons have remained in their ruined homeland, however. The surviving deacons have been collecting and interring their dead in the tombs that the chaos demons had been living in up until that point. While they might look like statues at first glance, closer inspection reveals actual bodies of lesser demons are being propped up into the walls much like the human skeletons decorating Carthus. At the same time, the deacons wield the great machetes primarily used by the Undead Settlement for dismantling body parts as part of their burial preparations. This gives the impression that the deacons are dissecting and embalming their fellow demons in order to better preserve their bodies for burial in the tombs. If so, they might be employing this practice out of respect for bodies formed by the Flame of Chaos, mitigating death’s decay so that the product of life can endure for as long as possible. But being clergymen, it is appropriate that they be the ones to handle their final rites.

As for the Old Demon King, he can be found prostrated in his boss room. While first impressions might be that he has just regained consciousness after exhausting himself in battle — thus being overlooked as just another corpse — a closer look at the area suggests otherwise. Most of the corpses are strewn about at random, at most being pushed to the side so there’s room to walk. However, the corpses found alongside the Old Demon King are stacked in tall piles while the rest are shoved against the wall in a way that looks unnatural for those who supposedly died defending their home. And the Demon King himself isn’t actually lying like a dead body. Rather, he is already on his feet, leaning forward on his arm with his head facing the ground as if tired but not playing dead. The king himself has probably been tireless piling these corpses like this as part of the cleanup effort since the battle ended. And are we really to believe that the Demon King has been too weak to stand for a battle that had to take place at the very least almost a year before the game’s main events?

No, he is just an old man drained both physically and mentally. When we first see the old king, his chaos fire is absent until he detects our presence. And as the boss approaches death, he then attempts to unleash all of the power he has left to kill us in a sizable explosion. He afterwards loses most of his remaining fire and becomes too exhausted to stand, let alone properly fight. This is supported by his internal name of “ash demon”, (灰のデーモン) associating him with the aftermath of a fire burning out. This is a king long past his prime but still fighting with everything he has got while he can still draw breath. But that power of his is nonetheless low when we battle him, so most of that might may just be the last wind of a feeble king who has put all his remaining energy into a futile attempt to salvage his kingdom and is paranoid enough to assume us another invader. In the at minimum months since his people were massacred, he is still gathering up the dead. That speaks to both his determination and his anxiety.

More recent arrivals during that time include Tsorig and the Black Knights. The latter’s wandering nature makes their presence anywhere feasible, but their history of fighting chaos demons might mean that memories of the past are what has drawn these particular knights to the lake specifically. As for Tsorig, he may have been part of Irithyll’s forces during the war, assuming that he had continued his service to the country. Either way, he has most likely remained underground to hunt the Black Knights, plus anyone he can invade. Meanwhile, leftover flesh from the battle have become cursed by the resentment of the dead, coalescing into the smoldering crawling carrion found throughout the ruins — though those burnt piles of flesh found in the lava-flooded chambers may mean that some predate the conflict.

The last notable visitor is Cuculus. She is a pyromancer of the Great Swamp we can summon as an ally just outside the Old Demon King’s boss room. Since she wears the same attire as Cornyx, including the crow feathers particular to his taste, some have speculated that she is his master or apprentice. Both do share a Latin name for a bird, his the crow and hers the cuckoo. And if we defeat the Old Demon King with her help and without her defeat, a corpse with her equipment can be found at the cage where we first encounter Cornyx. However, Cuculus’ unaged appearance makes it unlikely for her to have been his teacher. And given that Dunnel also wears the same set down to the Old Sage’s Blindfold, their appearance can instead be attributed to the developers reusing assets for fellow masters of pyromancy. All the same, her use of Estus suggests that Cuculus too has been banished from the Great Swamp as a consequence of undeath. And like many before her, she turned to the ancestral homeland of pyromancy to further her knowledge of their heretical magical arts.

But it wasn’t just chaos pyromancies that she sought. Cuculus wields the Spotted Whip favored by some female pyromancers and chiefly employs Poison Mist in battle, demonstrating her affinity for poisons. Her main objective may have been Eingyi, the creator of Poison Mist and another Undead exile of the Great Swamp. And yet, the fact that Cuculus apparently hasn’t learned Toxic Mist suggests that she never encountered the man alive. Considering the death of the Fair Lady, it is no surprise if her most loyal servant had also died in the war. If so, then Cuculus must have come to Smouldering Lake only recently. This would explain why she has no qualms with helping us slay chaos demons. With her desired teachers dead, she has no incentive to join the all but extinct demon civilization and thereby bears no loyalty to them. Instead, she wishes to cull the remaining demons and presumably scavenge surviving texts from the ruins as we do. How ironic that, with no Chaos Flame supporting them, even religious kindred abandon the demons in their greatest time of need. They are truly unwanted.


Spark of Life


As mentioned before, two other demons survived with the vestiges of the Demon Prince’s soul. The description for the soul indicates that their motive was to retain even a smolder of the Chaos the prince carried out of pride in their heritage. Indeed, they can concentrate to draw out their soul’s power and light up their bodies with the flame within, but their fire attacks quickly burn through what little they have managed to rekindle and briefly exhaust them. Even if they were attempting to use the power of the fragments from the prince’s soul, the lack of lava their flames produce with each attack demonstrates their failure to properly channel it. The two have likely been trying to integrate these pieces within each of their souls, hence their continued efforts to spark a flame in battle. But it is only after the death of one of these demons that the other actually becomes the Demon Prince when faced with his own demise.

Soul of the Demon Prince. One of the atypical souls tinged with power.

Can either acquire a vast amount of souls by using it or extract its power via molding.

The demons born from one Chaos share many things. Even the prince’s pride, his fire that went out. And so the last body relit it.

The dead prince’s apparent reincarnation is founded upon three principles. One, that large and powerful souls with strong wills can continue to act on their own after death, as exemplified by the souls of the Great Ones in DS2. Two, that souls can be combined and thus absorbed into other souls with the more dominant will, which undergirds the concept of eating other living things as best illustrated with Aldrich. And three, that a new, unique consciousness can emerge from melding souls’ shared wills, as personified by the Soul of Cinder. With these principles in mind, this event is fairly straight forward. When one of the chaos demons is slain, the surviving one is backed into a corner. Although the DLC confirms the survival of the batwing demons, this survivor is the last true chaos demon in the sense of preserving chaos fire.  Once he dies, their race ends with it. But these demons have proven tenacious if nothing else, their persistence to stave off total destruction impressive to say the least.

And so, in the last demon’s final moments, the will of the Demon Prince to shoulder the responsibility of his race’s survival awakens. As the gif for his soul illustrates, the tiny piece at the center of the soul ignites a new flame that consumes the whole of the original demon’s persona in a chaotic conflagration. From this tiny fragment, the Demon Prince has been reborn in a new body and uses all of his strength in one last effort to save his people — like father, like son. How much this prince retains the memories of his old incarnation are debatable. Some of his attacks are dependent upon his specific host body, so the host’s soul is likely still a significant factor in his powers and thus current consciousness. Other than desire to keep Chaos alive shared by all three demons, the Demon Prince may not have much memory of his past life with only a small piece of his original soul to draw upon.

Pyromancy that throws a fragment of the chaos fire the Demon Prince lit at the end.

The fragment of Chaos violently wells up at the impact point and greatly explodes after momentarily contracting.

For demons, that is a fragment of life.

Indeed, their drive must not have much rationale. Sure, these demons shared their prince’s pride both literally and metaphorically, but where had that pride ultimately led them? The description for Seething Chaos notes that the fragment of chaos employed is a fragment of life to demons. But if that is the allusion, then it was never meant to last. The fire of Seething Chaos builds up, briefly contracts, then explodes in a massive blast before finally ceasing to be. It just as perfectly encapsulates the chaos demons’ path to extinction as it does the spontaneity of life. Is it just in their nature to go out with a bang vainly resisting that inevitable result? Such contradictions are arguably the irony of life, but they hold especially true for creatures of Chaos. Humans and demons alike may be on the slow path to extinction as part of their like-minded preoccupation with preserving even a smolder of their flame, but the creatures of the Dark still have a way out that the creatures of fire simply do not.

Perhaps the chaos demons haven’t refused to accept reality so much as notice those same truths. One aspect of pyromancy is life’s inexplicable captivation by fire, distracting them from all else but its fascinating power — a principle that Quelana’s Charm spell perfectly illustrates. Indeed, one can argue that Izalithian culture was flawed at its very core, mired by its obsession with fire. Pyromancy preaches a balance between one’s longing for fire and their fear of it, but how has the society built on these doctrines fared? The description for Firestorm notes that the raging fire’s indiscriminate randomness imparts a fear of fire, yet the witches who originally invented that spell as sorcery went on to create a fire embodying the essence of that fear: Chaos. And after being burned for their arrogance, did they truly embrace the maxims they conceived for their new religion? The witches’ first pyromancies were lava arts of the same Chaos they were supposed to fear after all.

Special pyromancy of Craana, one of the witches of Izalith.

Charms an enemy and temporarily makes them an ally.

Life is captivated by fire and such an art is probably another aspect of pyromancy. Can be used regardless of gender.

One of the primal pyromancies taught by Craana, one of the witches of Izalith.

Spouts many pillars of flame in the surroundings.

The raging storm doesn’t choose its target. It is said that that imparts a fear of fire.

Of course, some might say that their behavior is part and parcel of pyromancy. The description for Fire Whip does note that pyromancy is at once knowing how to control fire and knowing that it cannot be controlled. But at what point does that oxymoron turn from sagacious wisdom to willful hypocrisy? Where does one draw the line? With Carmina, that line was crossed when her pyromancies that internalized fire culminated with Power Within. The spell was forbidden for feeding on one’s lifeforce in exchange for greater power. As the item text defines it, it is when a pyromancer takes in their fear as compensation for power that it is no longer fear. But if true, then the premise of pyromancy is a lie. It was the Witch of Izalith that took in the Chaos Flame into her grotesque seedbed form to control it, from which her Daughters of Chaos also integrated its power into their souls, and thereafter founded chaos pyromancies. Quelana created the only original pyromancies not derived from Chaos, and even she was complicit in her family’s fascination with chaos fire and the grotesque life it birthed.

One of the primal pyromancies imparted by Craana, one of the witches of Izalith. Sweeps with a whip of fire.

An extremely difficult pyromancy in terms of freely manipulating flame.

Knowing the control of fire and also knowing that it cannot be controlled. Pyromancy is that sort of thing.

Not only that, Quelana then continued to teach these primal pyromancies to Salaman even after coming to believe that her mother’s ambitions were wrong. Salaman then went on to spread that ethos to his apprentices, and so on and so forth. To this day, pyromancers journey back to Izalith in the hopes of learning the sin that started it all. Even as Cornyx warns us about the potential dangers of the bonfire and by extension the First Flame behind it, he is all but too giddy to inch closer to learning how to conjure Chaos, power that twists the corporeal into something grotesque and unnatural; power which its unnatural life inherently internalizes. No one involved in the practice of pyromancy hasn’t eaten the cake they have. Thus, the juxtaposition of Power Within with Quelana’s scalped hair convey a message of its own: This tragedy was doomed to occur. Izalith has always been distracted by a fire that should never have existed, always been trying to live out an incoherent philosophy, always been an outlier to both light and Dark. Its people’s survival is in itself an aberration, one that they can never hope to escape from.