Xanthous Scholars

With Vinheim’s failure to recreate the lost sorceries of Oolacile, it was inevitable that some would take the task upon themselves. Those who do have become denoted by their garish attire — especially the mushroom-shaped wrap crowning their heads. These “xanthous scholars” are “yellow-clothed researchers” or “researchers in yellow”, (黄衣の探究者) and their ridiculous appearance serves its purpose. The description for their crown acknowledges the holiness of the mushroom man in Oolacilian society, implying that the scholars themselves recognize the race’s importance in the development of Oolacilian sorcery. In that case, imitating a mushroom man with that color reflects a xanthous scholar’s desire to be one with the lost nation’s golden sorceries, to be equally as knowledgeable as these sacred creatures.

Crown said to be imitating a sacred creature of Oolacile, country of old golden sorcery.

The yellow clothing is the apparel of researchers of lost sorcery, and an oversized crown is their symbol. What is there to be ashamed of if one conducts themselves in a strange appearance?

While rather cultish behavior, they are nonetheless seriously investigating the secrets behind Oolacile’s golden sorcery and have made some strides in their field. The ashes of one such researcher in yellow carries young white branches and gold pine resin, so they are at least on track to understanding the history and principles behind the golden sorceries. These discoveries are likely the reason for them proudly wearing so many brass medals symbolizing their accomplishments. Even so, the medallions exist only to inflate their own egos. The medals’ significance is lost on others according to their armor’s description, and we can only encounter these sorcerers alive in the secluded forests of Oolacile. Evidently, few know that the researchers exist, with Orbeck — a sorcerer who has been doing his own research in Farron — being the only person to express familiarity with the goals of their research, though not their fashion. Xanthous scholars crave attention for their esoteric work, and have only themselves to affirm that it is of any import.

Yellow-colored cloth overcoat. Underneath stretches brass medals.

Yellow cloth is the apparel of a researcher of lost sorcery, and the number of medals is a mark of their accomplishments. It is their pride. Even if no one understands.

This fanatical obsession with discovering the golden sorceries contrasted by their desperate need for validation betrays their slow progress. Despite all the items related to Oolacilian sorcery among the Xanthous Ashes, not a one is Oolacilian sorcery itself. The Japanese description even highlights that a researcher in yellow who has only the yellow isn’t really a researcher at all. For all of their collected paraphernalia and self-congratulatory medals, the xanthous scholars have largely failed to produce results. What strides that they have made are infinitesimal, hindered all the more by their constant celebration of these tiny breakthroughs. If they spent more time investigating and less time awarding themselves for gathering twigs and resin, they might have already reinvented the spells that those items created. But so far, their greatest discovery seems to be the Dusk Crown Ring found off a corpse adjacent to the other scholar’s ashes — at least until recently.

Ashen remains of a sorcerer that researched a country of golden sorcery.

The handmaid of the ritual place will make use of the new items.

They were called researchers in yellow, but one of simply the yellow color doesn’t know anything.

Heysel has apparently left Farron’s magic academy to join this quest for golden sorcery, dressing as another xanthous scholar befitting the name “Hazel”. (ヘイゼル) The woman is probably possessed by the thirst for knowledge typical of sorcerers, especially having been a young prodigy. When you live in the very woods of one of the oldest and most advance sorcery nations, you would surely be tempted to unearth all its secrets. And considering the Keep’s current state, there isn’t exactly much reason to remain bound by the institutions still existing there beyond personal loyalty or drive. Heysel has learned the best of Farron’s sorcery, and has now moved onto the lost sorceries of antiquity. She wasn’t alone in this endeavor, either.

Laying in one corner of the Keep among the bodies of the mushroom men is a corpse bearing the Sage’s Scroll, making this Heysel’s parent. The body’s close proximity to Oolacile’s walking fungi suggests that he followed the same path as his daughter, apparently befriending the race before his death. The mushroom men are the main producers of the golden-glowing turpentine correlating to Oolacilian light sorcery, so establishing relations with them would be a valuable element of the xanthous scholars’ research. Heysel’s parent had been attempting to communicate with the race if not having already been in a long-standing relationship with them when they were ambushed and killed by the barbaric Ghrus now squatting amongst the bodies. Is Heysel aware of this turn of events? She drinks Estus typical of Undead, so it is possible for her to have been among the slain, only to be cursed like her parent before her. However, she may own a flask from having grown up amongst Undead, and so may not be Undead herself. And given how recent this massacre seem to be, she may still be ignorant of her loss when we first encounter her.

Whatever the case, Heysel’s research has consisted primarily of archeology. Her sorcery staff doubles as a pickaxe, the pick dirtied with specks of gold dust that its description confirms are remnants of lost sorcery. This dust resembles Repair Powder, which is itself a golden metal dust imbued with weak magical power and functioning the same as Oolacile’s Repair spell. Therefore, the woman has been excavating the land to uncover vestiges of its lost magic power specifically. In DS1, the land was steeped in magical energy to the point that specks of blue light radiated from the ground centuries after the country’s destruction. While this light show hasn’t persisted into the present era, that energy likely still remains laced within the earth. And in the case of golden sorcery in particular, such power might have also seeped into the ground through the country’s various magical artifacts, especially if the city ruins have been buried with them. If nothing else, Heysel’s digging may have led to her discovering Dusk.

The cave where the Oolacilian princess and Elizabeth reside has golden minerals exposed in the rock wall, possibly the very minerals that Heysel has been mining. If so, then the three women have likely already made contact and established friendly relations, though the researcher may not have known about her friend’s true identity. Dusk’s princess attire is found in a chest beside her rather than on her body, suggesting that she has been dressing meagerly whilst living out her days in the forest — especially after it became a poison swamp. Heysel could have easily mistaken her for a mere Undead living in the wild. However, she might have also known this Undead to be Oolacilian. In battle, the researcher casts Chameleon, a golden sorcery that Dusk explicitly invented. In short, Heysel likely learned such magic from Dusk, making her appropriately one of the few actual golden sorcerers in her field.

Although Golden Scroll’s Japanese description calls them the fruits of the xanthous scholars’ long research, the scrolls are clearly made with high-quality materials dissimilar from standard sorcerer texts, coated with golden dust. Moreover, their contents include instructions for performing the country’s secret arts. Much like its dark art equivalent Twisted Barricade from Dark Souls II, Twisted Wall of Light warps a fundamental law to redirect magic. The ability to distort time and thereby space at will is a dangerous principle worth keeping knowledge of out of the wrong hands. Less obvious is the threat of Repair, but this unassuming spell uses light to reverse an object’s time, another potentially dangerous power. Suffice to say, these aren’t spells which researchers can simply discover by studying the land. They would have to learn them from existing texts, such as the ones currently in Dusk’s possession. And yet, a scholar like Heysel knows none of what is written in those scrolls, not sorceries more suited for combat like Hidden Weapon or even the completely innocuous Cast Light spell.

Lost sorcery of Oolacile, country of old golden sorcery.

Warps light and reflects magic.

One that is equivalent to a secret art even among the sorceries that deal with light. For it is said that, when fundamental laws are instantly bent, all illusions lose their place to go.

Lost sorcery of Oolacile, country of old golden sorcery.

Repairs equipped weapons and armor. Weapons with zero durability also become a target.

One that is equivalent to a secret art, contrary to its inconspicuous effect. Light is time, and regressing it would be forbidden wisdom.

Therefore, the Golden Scroll is probably of Oolacilian make and not a font of knowledge that Heysel is privy to, which fits with Orbeck’s indications that the texts are from Oolacile and something the scholars haven’t found but would so desperately want to acquire. The claim that the scroll is the results of the scholars’ research” may be a remnant of an earlier iteration of the game’s script, or a misleading statement about what they will know at the end of their search. Dusk retained all of her country’s spells, but refused to share the knowledge with the wider world. The only exception was when the princess was saved by the Chosen Undead. Even then, the only secret art she taught was the otherwise harmless Repair spell, a small risk for showing her savior some gratitude. But complete strangers looking to dig up lost knowledge? The princess would not oblige — Oolacile’s secrets had caused enough trouble.

Golden scrolls, the results of the yellow cloths’ long research.

Can learn Oolacile sorceries by giving it to a sorcerer.

It is said that sorceries of the country of lost sorcery, Oolacile, manipulated light and had a golden radiance.

This reluctance to disseminate Oolacilian culture is evidenced by her splitting her sorcery staff into saplings and planting them around the forest. The localization’s phrasing of “Little Dusk” in item descriptions has led many to assume that she planted her white tree staff as saplings as a small child. However, the Japanese term is shoujo, (少女) the same word used to describe the Fair Lady and the Darkmoon Knightess; in other words, the descriptions are more likely referring to the princess as the young lady seen in DS1, not a little girl. Planting her sorcery staff occurred after the events of DS1, and the meaning is clear: Oolacilian sorcery is best left forgotten. Dusk had decided to spend her undeath in obscurity, living simply in a cave with her last surviving “family”. The fact that her crown can be found beneath one tree by itself with no corpse emphasizes this point. The princess was leaving behind her sorcery along with the symbol of its government. Oolacile is dead, and she would like for it to rest in peace.

In that case, why teach Heysel her personal spell? For one, Chameleon is Dusk’s own harmless invention, making it unrelated to the scrolls she was hiding. But the more apt motivation is probably the same as why the girl preserved those ancient spell texts in the first place: because she was lonely. When we come upon her cave, we find one chest already open and her corpse beside it clutching the Golden Scroll close to her chest as she curls before Elizabeth. Even in her final moments, the princess went out of her way to treasure these texts. Of course she would. This collection of light sorcery represent Oolacile’s legacy and serves as her only memento of the country and people she loved. She couldn’t destroy it. And with only mushrooms to comfort her in her solitude, Dusk likely welcomed any human interaction — what harm was there in teaching one playful spell? Heysel certainly wasn’t her only student.

A pilgrim woman of Londor also casts Chameleon, implying that she too had met Dusk and learned the sorcery. If she had been to Farron, then she was most likely a xanthous scholar herself, originally. Perhaps she was another member of Farron’s Undead academy who joined Heysel in studying golden sorcery, maybe even the girl’s other parent who is otherwise missing from the record. Alternatively, she is an unrelated scholar who ended up dying and turning Undead either due to old age itself or the particular hazards of the job at it. Either way, the old woman eventually hollowed, which would have made the other scholars uncomfortable even if she did maintain her sanity. The corpse of a wandering exile from Londor located within the Keep likewise suggests that she would have had ample opportunity to be directed to the country of Hollows after being driven out. And so, the aged Hollow traveled to the home of the Sable Church where she has put her golden sorcery to use ever since.

Whether the old woman is Heysel’s mother and studied alongside her or not, they are undoubtedly both Dusk’s pupils. However, the teacher is now amongst the dead, along with her wet nurse. This is unlikely to be the work of foul play. If she was betrayed and murdered, why is the Golden Scroll still in her possession? Surely, a xanthous scholar would pilfer her belongings one her body was discovered. And yet, the cave seems to have remained untouched. The old woman of Londor does carry a copy of the text for Dusk’s spell, but it is just that: a copy. There is no indication that these are the one and only instructions for performing Chameleon, just the only ones which we can acquire. It makes sense for a former xanthous scholar to keep her own copy on her person, leaving no reason to suspect her in the princess’ death. And if nothing else was stolen, then this murder mystery can’t be the doing of some thief, scholar or otherwise.

If Dusk and Elizabeth were killed, it was by someone or something that didn’t recognize the value of the former’s possessions. Since there are no signs that they were petrified by the nearby basilisks, the Ghrus make for the most viable option. They have already demonstrated their savagery toward the forest’s other residents, and the presence of the basilisks make it possible for the barbarians themselves to have been killed by the time we arrive to the scene. But regardless of the cause, the fact remains that the last of Oolacilian royalty is no more, and the mushroom men responsible for their status have possibly gone extinct; the lost land is now truly dead. And just as Dusk carried on her country’s legacy all these years, her legacy now lives on with scholars like Heysel, though its long-term future proves to be uncertain.

The young researcher had at some point left her dig site for the Cathedral of the Deep and ended up becoming a finger of Rosaria. According to Leonhard, Heysel is among the goddess’ more friendly servants, considering fellow members as true comrades. This is reflected by the white summon sign she leaves if we join the covenant along with her immediate polite bow once actually summoned. Otherwise, she will invade as a dark spirit as we explore the Keep. This makes one wonder why she’s dedicated herself to Rosaria. It certainly doesn’t directly advance her sorcery research. Maybe she was desperate for companionship in a life mired in research and surrounded by nothing but deadly monsters. Maybe she saw the benefit of owning a red eye orb in this danger zone where she worked. Maybe she sympathized with Rosaria’s situation. But, she definitely wanted access to the goddess’ powers of rebirth.

Later on, we can find a non-hostile maggot-man with Heysel’s headwrap and pickaxe in Rosaria’s bedchamber, implying that she had reached her limit of rebirth and became another grub. Why was the researcher so loose with her transformations? Perhaps she was never satisfied with her appearance, or perhaps she wanted to experiment with different attributes in order to maximize her sorcery prowess. In either case, hunting tongues for Rosaria was clearly done to access her services. However, Heysel friendliness with her compatriots and continued service to the goddess as a maggot suggests that she had been aware of the risks and chose this fate. As to why, perhaps she had learned of her parent and friends’ deaths and simply lost the spirit of inquiry, choosing escapism with the only “family” she had left over a life alone in a poison swamp. What pride is there in accomplishments when there is no one to share them with?