The Deep


Preface


Aldrich and the Deep in general is an aspect of Dark Souls that I can’t help but be morbidly fascinated with. From a thematic standpoint, they add a layer of complexity to the world of Dark Souls III (DS3) and provide a perfect response to questions posed in its predecessors. From a story standpoint, they add another major faction that play a crucial role in the plot as well as foreshadow the underlying problems that we will be expected to address. From an aesthetic standpoint, they add a deliciously grotesque sort of villainy previously unexplored in Dark Souls (DS1) or Dark Souls II. (DS2) Of course, cannibalism and religious corruption is nothing new to the series, but combining the two while building upon the individual ideas they each presented in past games is what holds my full attention.


Purify the Filth


The Cathedral of the Deep is a Way of White church. We find various items related to the faith there, including the garments of its holy women and items related to the former chief god Lloyd. On top of that, the church’s deacons, or “bishops” (主教) to be more accurate, wear dark red to symbolize the divine protection of fire and bear a sun on their garments to represent the First Flame; adherents wear similar robes, only with stylized flames. There are also obelisks — monuments originally associated with the ancient Egyptian sun god Ra — erected in the church cemetery with some praying to one such structure. The graveyard’s headstones depict the upper half of a blossoming flower at its head, another symbol for fire paralleling the use of crosses in Christian graves. Indeed, this medieval Christian-styled cathedral employs a floral motif throughout its architecture. It was also at one point dedicated to Caitha based on the statues of a woman seemingly crying into one hand erected all around the premises, inside and out. The reason may be found in the name “Church of the Deep”. (深みの聖堂)

The so-called “Deep” of the Cathedral had originally been holy as well as peaceful, meaning that there must have been such a thing which the church was founded upon. The only really notable landmark is a large pool located to the left of the adjoining chapel, a still body of water that can certainly be described as serene. Being a god of tears, Caitha might be associated with water more generally, and the shallow, crystal-clear pools across the cathedral’s bottom floor highlight its importance in this church dedicated to her. Additionally, the Deep as a broader concept is later linked to the idea of a deep sea in particular, and pure water is closely associated with spiritual cleanliness in Japanese religious thinking. Perhaps the Goddess of Tears blesses water, like Gwynevere? Regardless, the pool outside is treated as something holy.

Miracle that bishops of the Deep are bestowed when assuming their duties.

Slightly boosts attack power, cut rates, and resistances and also slightly raises stamina recovery speed.

The Deep was originally peaceful and holy and thus has become a cradle for repulsive things. For those who enshrine it are the same as well, and the story of the Deep Sea has given them divine protection.

Many adherents of the Deep can be found along the rooftops and buttresses facing this pool. Some are congregating around a Cathedral evangelist, and hanging incense burners have also been installed on the underside of the buttresses. Both the chapel and a small room in the main church maintain balconies overlooking the pool, the primary function for the latter if the lone preacher standing there is any indication. We can even see a wall on the far side of the pool with what looks like a doorway that has since been bricked off — the other side can be seen to our right when we first enter the cathedral grounds. All of this endows the body of water with an aura of holiness, bringing to mind the holy spring of Mirrah. Indeed, a well is situated by the chapel entrance while water floods into the graveyard’s lowest level from somewhere underground, implying the existence of subterranean pockets. Therefore, this pool is another holy spring and the original Deep or “Depths” that prompted the church’s location there.

Aside from enshrining consecrated ground, the Cathedral most likely doubled as a place to perform cleansing rituals. Even ignoring the Cleansing Chapel situated directly adjacent to the holy spring, its major icons include a statue of a man sprouting the pus of man, and the shrouded variant depicting the early stages in particular is occasionally even a trap that “vomits” sludge which unleashes a poisonous gas — fitting, since the progression of the Dark consuming the body has always been referred to as “corruption”. The Way of White fears that pollution inherent to bearers of the Darksign, and we see some Undead adherents pray to the pus statues as if begging to be spared that fate. And yet, the preachers have still led them to this holy place and so must intend to cleanse their corruption; as some pus statues overlooking the spring signify, the Deep was the means to that end.

One corner of the church rooftop has a peculiar setup. Benches and pus statues line the balcony sides while facing a central square cavity similar to the large, shallow pools within the cathedral. Although currently filled with dirt, this space resembles a foot bath common to Japanese hot springs. Did this area once pump up spring water for cleansing? DS2’s Holy Water Urns demonstrate the power of holy spring water to heal the living and scald the Hollow due to their increased intimacy with the Dark, so the same can be true for the Deep spring. Cleansing their impurities this way would be dangerous for the Undead, but the adherents we encounter are perfectly willing to immolate themselves for purification — the possibility of death isn’t an issue. In fact, it is all the more fitting that a goddess associated with sympathy and grief be the patron deity of a church dedicated to cleansing impurities at the risk of death. Though one might think this is the source of the cemetery surrounding the church and chapel, the corpses buried there at least lack the heart roots indicative of hollowed Undead.


Accursed Maneater


Left untouched, neither the Deep nor the clergy presiding over it would have probably been anything too remarkable. However, something did change. The Deep has become a “cradle” (寝床) for repulsive things. The Japanese description for Deep Protection describes this as a consequence to its holy and peaceful nature, suggesting that something impious polluted this vulnerable, helpless sacred ground. That pollution was Aldrich. The man was a Way of White clergyman from Irithyll, who was also a sorcerer based on his proficiency with a sorcery staff during his boss battle and ability to fashion magic rings. This already hints to his spiritual corruption within the church in Irithyll, but he is actually infamous for making man his diet. This consumption of human flesh went on until the cleric fattened himself to the point of his body eventually just melted into sludge. Horrific as this sounds, the man still lived, so this wasn’t just some bizarre case of overeating. More than likely, his cannibalism resulted in him being afflicted with a kind of curse.

For example, Eldritch. He, who was a clergyman, kept eating people like it was breathing. He bloated like a drowned pig, became melted sludge, and was imprisoned in the Church of the Deep…

DS1 already introduced us to leftover meat of a cannibal’s victims becoming cursed by their resentment in death, and DS2 built upon the concept further with uniting various bodies and souls into a single will coalescing around a particularly strong soul. What happens then to the cannibals who imbibe that cursed meat for sustenance? Most maneaters we encounter have indeed fattened up as a consequence of their sick tastes, but none have apparently gone to the same lengths as Aldrich, who Hawkwood says did it as if it was breathing. Therefore, Aldrich’s sludge state can be attributed to the very meat sustaining his mortal body bearing a grudge against him, melting his body into something akin to the crawling carrion while the will of his soul keeps the flesh vessel together under his control.

This connection between Aldrich’s transformation and a curse can be reaffirmed through the Deep Accursed enemies. These spider-like monstrosities possess Aldrich’s Ruby and Sapphire rings, which the holy man bequeathed so that others could have the means to “bathe” in screams and “eat” shivers. True to this ghastly description, the rings restore health or focus when performing “fatal” attacks. The repulsive maneater wanted those gifted these to feed on even the suffering of their victims’ mortal wounds, and we indeed see these Deep Accursed fused with skeletons from the top of their heads down their entire backs, many of whose arms are outstretched as if begging for help or escape. These monsters are humans who indulged in Aldrich’s same habit and have similarly been cursed into their current grotesque form — their claws and jaws even spread a petrification curse. In their case, the accursed grudges morphed them into that. In Aldrich’s case, he dissolved into sludge. But each are the dominant will and soul to their composite body, the core unifying it all. This is a concept of DS1 taken to its natural conclusion with the principles of DS2.

Warped ring that Holy Man of the Deep Eldritch bequeathed. Recovers HP during fatal attacks.

Eldritch, who is known as a repulsive maneater, surely wanted to impart it. The means to bathe in screams and eat the very shivers of life.

Aldrich was “imprisoned” in the Cathedral of the Deep, and his arrival is the only notable event to roughly coincide with its corruption. Indeed, the cannibal is henceforth dubbed the “holy man of the Deep”, (深みの聖者) and the Deep Accursed share the same association, implying that this Deep refers to the later concept rather than the aforementioned holy spring — it also ties that concept to their cursed transformation. If so, then how do we define the “Deep” metaphysically?

The Deep’s power derives from the Dark, since weapons enhanced with it inflict dark damage. Similarly, the weapons are forged using the same white fire employed for smithing blessed weapons, paralleling the Way of White’s white source flames used to forge holy weapons which became the basis for heathen weapons imbued with the Dark’s power. However, this variant of the Dark has never been witnessed prior to DS3. It is beyond human knowledge, hence we cannot increase deep weapons’ power using intelligence or faith like with standard dark weapons. Moreover, souls with a Deep affinity look like standard souls rather than humanity, only with a pitch-dark blue core and blue aura.

This would indicate that the Deep doesn’t derive its power directly from dark souls like is usually the case, instead converting common souls into something darker in alignment. The description for Deep Soul clarifies this process: dark “dregs” (澱) of the soul sink within the Deep where they accumulate. The reference to sediment ties into the earlier allusion of the depths of the deep sea, the lowest region stretching down to the bottom of the ocean floor where no light can reach. Such imagery certainly explains the power’s Dark association, but it runs much deeper, for these dark soul dregs have a pursuing nature akin to living humanity, and Great Soul Dregs shows humanity to be their ultimate form.

Deep Souls (left, center) compared to Great Soul Dregs (right)

Human dregs is humanity with dark blue tinges, indicating some relation to the Deep. Indeed, the item’s menu graphic portrays the soul curling as if sinking in water, which lines up with the previous deep sea imagery. The very idea of sediment on the seafloor implies that the Deep is heavy enough to sink into such Dark depths, where it will then stagnate at the bottom. And since dark souls have always been weighty, it is no surprise that human dregs are the heaviest thing within man. In fact, this instance of “dregs” (澱み) can alternatively be read as “stagnation”, effectively making such dark souls the stagnation of man itself.

Proof that Defenders of the God-Eater who await Eldritch the God-Eater fulfilled their mission. The heaviest thing within man. The stagnation of man.

It is said that it sinks to any depth and will thus become the shackles of the world someday.

We can thus define this concept of the Deep as “stagnant Dark”, and its expression is two-fold. Normally, humanity will simply stagnate into human dregs as another symptom of the larger cosmological stagnation afflicting the world. However, ordinary souls that stew in this stagnant Dark stagnate themselves into deep souls with properties resembling it, trapped at the bottom of the proverbial sea floor where they accumulate over time — effectively consumed by the deep sea. Eventually, the stagnant Dark devours all the non-Dark qualities within the soul and it becomes no different from humanity, true human dregs.

Now take that process and apply it to Aldrich, who consumed and accumulated resentful dead within himself over time, where they then stewed with no means to escape. Combined with the Dark’s previous association with curses, and Aldrich’s dark sludge body seems more and more like the product of a Deep curse. Indeed, the Dark has long been linked with the act of “eating” life, and Aldrich would not just be absorbing the flesh and souls one can garner from more conventional food — he would be eating fragments of the Dark Soul itself. Aldrich became a physical manifestation of the deep sea, stagnating dark souls within himself only to later be cursed by all of the cumulative grudges. The graphic for his corrupted deep soul exemplifies this process: another standard boss soul lies trapped at the bottom, slowly devoured until it is eventually assimilated into the whole. There is no doubt that this cannibal is what turned the Deep into what it has become best known as.


Stem the Tide


Aldrich’s confinement at the Cathedral was never intended to be a permanent transfer. Sulyvahn gave Aldrich a key to cross the magic barrier back into Irithyll, meaning that he both saw some value in the clergyman and expected him to eventually return home. This narrows down his motivations for sending the cleric there to begin with, not least of which is because of his role as Pontiff. Sulyvahn has absolute control over the Way of White within Irithyll and is directly responsible for any and all incidents that occur within his church. After all, the clergyman had indulged in his grotesque habit — which certainly can’t occur without a significant amount of persons mysteriously going missing — without repercussions for a long time. This puts great amount of pressure on him to act when that cleric suddenly becomes a Dark monster that he can’t simply cover up.

By that same token, Sulyvahn may value Aldrich as an underling of the local church hierarchy. Being a sorcerer himself and the reason that sorcery spreads among the clergy to begin with, the Pontiff had incentive to be lenient with the cannibal’s sins. It would be hypocritical for the self-proclaimed representative of God and His church to care about one of his holy men partaking in Dark vices when he himself secretly flirts with the Dark among his many varied magical interests. In other words, the corrupt Pontiff may not personally care what his corrupt clergymen are doing in private, but he has to keep the “company” image in mind when faced with an unavoidable scandal of a holy man turning unholy monster. Thus, in order to maintain legitimacy as a divine representative, the tyrant decided on the equivalent of transferring an employee to another branch office until the issue at home dies down.

Why send Aldrich to the Cathedral of the Deep specifically? It is relatively close to Irithyll, which would be convenient if he is to come back someday. But, he cannot return so long as he is a monster. And so, Aldrich needed to first be cleansed of his curse and return to human form, which the Deep pool was supposed to facilitate. Recall that the Deep was peaceful and holy and so has become a cradle for repulsive things as a consequence, implying that the events resulting in its corruption occurred for those very qualities of purity and sanctity. In theory, the sacred spring would dilute and burn away the cleric’s impurities. In practice, however, this backfired, resulting in his corruption instead spreading to the stagnant body of water. With nowhere for this filth to flow out to, the still pool could only accumulate the overwhelming amounts of stagnant Dark until the holy water was completely swallowed by it.

While it probably wasn’t his intention, Aldrich had gone off-script in sullying the Deep spring, forcing Sulyvahn to shift away from cleansing the cannibal to containing him. Meanwhile, the sacred spring began producing repulsive things which began seeping into the surrounding land. Various parts of the Cathedral show signs of a dark, sludgy matter growing beneath and even between the stones. This ominous matter often sprouts black roots and branches, bringing to mind the dendrofication resulting from the world’s stagnation — specifically from the Dark which is known to produce such viscous fluids. Indeed, Aldrich’s corrupted body produces similar roots as many other humans suffering from the stagnation. There is no doubt then that the Deep’s Dark has begun overtaking the Cathedral, inserting itself into every nook and cranny. Moreover, the spontaneous generation of life implies the corrupted pool to be its own entity, a stagnant Abyss manifesting from what dregs Aldrich shed. Flora aren’t its only spawn, either.

Maggots nest in the corpses laid to rest at the church cemetery and puppeteer them. There are a few stages to this possession of the dead. At first, it looks no different from a zombie — albeit, occasionally vomiting maggots. Then a monstrous mass of maggots burst out of its chest, using the body as hind legs while the creature’s “arms” and “head” balance out the front. Then finally, the corpse becomes so torn and eaten that it is merely a twisted husk of flesh at the end of a long tail for the maggots’ front half. If that is not horrifying enough, the maggots apparently mature into flying insects that instantly rip through skin and burrow into flesh with their tiny, fanged jaws. Thanks to this specialty at eating flesh, both the larvae and fully-matured insects also cause profuse bleeding — qualities traditionally associated with the life-eating power of the Dark. The maggots also display an intense fear of flame similar to the pus of man. Finally, the buried corpses they revive drag themselves out of a dark fog, leaving no doubt that these repulsive insects are another Dark spawn. And the maggots originate from the Deep since we see them also infesting Aldrich’s corrupted body.

The Cathedral had an imminent crisis on its hands — it needed to get this Deep infestation under control. Stakes made of what looks to be some copper alloy have been stuck into much of the corruption arising around the church, many even lining the edges of walls and corners as if to create a wall to prevent further spread. Such metal has traditionally been used by Anor Londo, and this holy association had apparently spread to Izalith. Pyromancers of the Great Swamp use green copper as mayoke, (魔除け) which are traditionally amulets for warding off evil spirits. But the description for pyromancer attire note that this ritual talisman is specifically for keeping the Dark at bay, so the Cathedral’s stakes most likely serve the same purpose. Even still, neither demonstrates any actual holy power resistant to the Dark, making the use of these amulets nothing more than symbolic. To combat Deep spawn, a more practical solution is required.

Apparel of a pyromancer of the Great Swamp. It combines green copper ornaments and animal fur.

In the Great Swamp, green copper is considered to be an amulet. “For it is a ritual tool and keeps the Dark away.”

Grave wardens have been tasked with managing the reviving corpses. They employ weaponry designed to make its victims heavily bleed, which proves effective against both the actual maggots and their puppets. This is because the maggots seem to rely on the blood and body fluids to animate the corpse while they eat away at it and multiply. When using Gnaw, the mature Deep insects conjured will burst into massive amounts of blood even if they miss the target, implying that they rely heavily on this medium for the soul for sustenance and control. By draining the corpse of these fluids, its revival is at least slowed for a longer period of time. However, this endless duty is equally draining on the custodians given that all the gore has long worn out their clothing. They couldn’t do it alone.

Apparel of the grave keepers of the Church of the Deep. Tattered, weathered hood.

The Church’s grave keepers are the persons who manage of the reviving corpses and bathe in their blood and mucilage. And so, it is said that it had terribly weathered it.

Twin blades of the grave keepers of the Church of the Deep. One of the twin blade weapons.

The Church’s grave keepers are the persons who manage the reviving corpses. This weapon forces massive bleeding. If they lose blood and body fluids, the revival is slowed.

Just as the gravekeepers use their blades as flint stones to spit fire, the evangelists use flame to purge bodies of the Dark, with many of their adherents willing to set their whole bodies ablaze to try killing us along with themselves. This self-immolation is done at the preachers’ behest since they are the ones preparing and handing out red bug pellets to lessen their followers’ pain as they burn. If the corrupted spring can’t purify them, then these pious Undead can at least do it themselves while also cleansing some of the corruption. Those not opting for murder-suicide instead arm themselves with turpentine-burning swords and spears plus shields or arbalest and fire bolts to put down the maggot monstrosities, among others.

Based on the copious amounts of arrows sticking out of their backs, many church dogs have been taken into the woods out front and shot by the group of crossbowmen standing behind them, reviving thanks to the Hollow meat that they have been implicitly feasting upon. This is neither target practice nor wanton animal cruelty, however. Two more dogs are hiding out in a cave beneath the Road of Sacrifices. One is a grey breed not unlike those seen in Farron territory a short ways away; the other, an almost hairless dog with a single arrow in its back. Evidently, one church canine managed to run off before the adherents could shoot it dead, fleeing to the Farron ruins below. While there, it paired up with a mate before they both escaped further out into the forest to live out the rest of their days in the wild.

But even a partner can’t protect this runaway, who is significantly more emaciated and vomiting poisonous fluid. The source of its illness seems to be the enormous tumor sagging from its belly. And upon closer inspection, we can see that it is comprised of maggots — the dog is a bug nest. In short, the Cathedral had tried siccing dogs on the Deep’s creatures and anyone corrupted by them. Once they became infested, the adherents tried purifying them all before the burgeoning maggots hollowed them out alive, as is the current fate of the runaway. And considering that the other undying dogs are maggot-free, it worked.

This incident demonstrates both the effectiveness of fire in sealing the Deep’s spawn and their threat nonetheless. Everyone needed to take the utmost care not to be touched, and so the bishops carry around bladed candlesticks as a source for flame for the “religious services” they now perform. These blades were improved to also perform flame sorcery thanks to Archbishop McDonnel, who did the same to the staves representing the archbishops’ authority. The clergyman now doubled as sorcerers who could fend off the vile insects from range. Being from the Boreal Valley, McDonnel’s knowledge of sorcery isn’t a surprise, and his implicit study of flame sorcery in particular may have even been inspired by Sulyvahn introducing the Profaned Flame to Irithyll. The Archbishop’s assistance also indicates that he had been sent to the Cathedral fairly early on. Given his rank, the man was most likely within Sulyvahn’s inner circle and so trusted to monitor Aldrich’s purification and later imprisonment for the Pontiff.

Candlestick for religious service of the Bishops of the Deep. It is a sorcery staff along with being a blade.

It is said that they became sorcerers despite being clergymen due to the teachings of McDonnell of the Cold Valley.

Regardless, the fact that other men of the cloth embraced a religious taboo like sorcery demonstrates the Cathedral’s sheer desperation in dealing with the Deep’s horrors. We can only encounter one bishop outside there, a single sentry at the top of the bell tower bridging the chapel to the main building. Its importance is especially obvious considering the adjoining chapel has its own, smaller bell overlooking the Deep spring. Based on the line of sight from his tower, this bishop serves as a lookout in case the monsters overwhelm the adherents and gravekeepers combating the monstrosities on their behalf. He would ring the bell to alert everyone else inside and then run back in himself before the creatures start banging on the cathedral doors. From there, they would have to organize their defense; not like they could fall back to anywhere else.

The back exit to the Cathedral leading to the Farron ruins below has apparently been intentionally destroyed, boulders obstructing the staircases on either side of the terrace. The corpse upon the rocks bearing the soul of a traveler says it all. There was no escaping it. Once you were at the Cathedral, you were staying to fight. Cowards wouldn’t be allowed to just slip out through the back. Under these conditions, one can only imagine the stress that the staff have endured, and this may be why it is comprised of mainly clergy ranked bishop or higher. Bishops typically rank above priests in a church hierarchy and would presumably have better qualifications for dealing with the unholy, such as stronger faith. Taking on the duty of managing the Deep thereby fell to them. And even then, the Cathedral needed more help to deal with this corruption.

Aside from the grave wardens, who can also be found working at the Firelink Shrine cemetery in Untended Graves, King Oceiros has contributed slaves as well as some of his personal guard to the Cathedral’s manpower, likely at the Pontiff’s request. And while the knights’ holy magic and blessed shields are very effective against the Dark, the description for their armor set indicates that their primary duty was crushing intruders, namely the inevitable “fools” attracted to the repulsive spawns of the Deep. Indeed, a deep battleaxe has been locked in a mimic at Lothric’s walls to seal away, or maybe hide, someone’s dabbling with the Deep. This adds a new dynamic of the church bearing the onus for both sealing away the corruption pervading it and keeping out threats interested in pursuing that same filth for their own ends. The church had essentially become a beacon for all manner of malice, hell on earth.

Armor of knights of the Church of the Deep. Bulky iron helmet.

The Church’s knights have great hammers that crush intruders. The repulsive things that sink into the Deep always attract fools for that reason.


Appeasing the Monster


While Aldrich’s imprisonment coincided with these attempts to seal the corruption stemming from the Deep, he wasn’t treated the same way. Rather than be locked up in a cage or outright killed, the cleric appears to have simply been confined to the Cathedral akin to house arrest. And during his confinement, he would need sustenance. This seems to have resulted in what is now known as the Road of Sacrifices. Behind the Undead Settlement church stretches a dirt road cutting through the Farron ruins to the Cathedral. As the name suggests, the road exists to transport sacrifices from the town via horse-drawn carriages as evidenced by one such wagon found crashed along the path. These carriages are designed like carnival carts, except partitioned into narrow layers so as to sprawl out the sacrifices and maximize their storage capacity. And what was the cargo? Humans, of course.

These are the same wagons used to transport Lothric’s Undead to the Undead Settlement, another apparent contribution by King Oceiros. Moreover, the derailed cart is surrounded by a group of men in the midst of becoming corvians, led by a storyteller — he apparently freed the wagon’s occupants in order to convert more detested. Speaking of, one Undead Settlement preacher has made camp along the route to the Cathedral with two manservants in tow, both carrying cages packed with bagged corpses on their backs. This is no surprise considering that these clergywomen have even been sending the town’s “bearers” of the Dark pus along this road as sacrifices. And who or what at the Cathedral would these Undead be sacrificed to except the maneater?

Hat of the preachers that came along from the Church. The preachers are all women.

It is said that they enlighten the residents of the Undead Town and that “bearers” proceed along the path of sacrifice.

Absent the Deep pool, Aldrich was used to help dispose of Undead who might manifest the pus, and his confinement was likely the reason that the Undead Settlement’s church and nearby Hollow shrine were built in the first place. Unlike the shanty wooden town itself, these buildings are made of stone and share several architectural designs with the Cathedral. Why spend so many resources on poor Undead whom they would simply be visiting to preach and occasionally send off to be cleansed? Building a church suggests establishing a more permanent presence to facilitate larger operations, such as loading them up into carriages en masse. Indeed, the evangelist leading a procession between the two holy sites indicates that the Cathedral fully intended to co-opt the town’s existing religious traditions. After all, it needed to find and process pus bearers in a much larger quantity and at a far faster rate.

These new measures were done at Sulyvahn’s direction. We find two giant slaves standing in the Cathedral’s the interior pools. These filthy mires are littered with corpses, most pushed against the walls as they writhed and begged for mercy. This suggests that the slaves were tasked with crushing the bodies beneath their feet, like a tub of grapes for wine making — all to prepare Aldrich’s meals, based on the maggots still infesting the bodies. Since these giants originate from Irithyll, they were either sent to the cathedral for this express purpose or had been part of Aldrich’s original escort and later repurposed. Either way, the grim task cannot be done without the Pontiff’s knowledge and at least tacit approval, implicating his willingness in these arrangements. Indeed, the countless maggot-infested bodies found around Irithyll Dungeon as prisoners or corpses show Sulyvahn’s profound fascination with these new creatures his cleric spawned. And in all likelihood, indulging the maneater was part of a larger plan to make him a Lord of Cinder.

Aldrich met the qualifications for linking the fire specifically because of his cannibalism, and Hawkwood acknowledges that he was made a holy King simply for his power. No one cared about his moral integrity so long as his soul was capable of kindling the First Flame. In fact, the underlying nature of the cleric’s power became irrelevant once it became just more fuel for the fire. Why not sacrifice an unholy monster to the holy of holies? Thus, this shift from simply cleansing Aldrich’s curse to confining and appeasing him was probably made with the intention of building up his power through his grotesque habit. Sulyvahn will do anything to secure his authority, even fatten up a cannibal to preserve the Age of Fire. And by limiting his diet to Undead, Sulyvahn guaranteed that his underling would assimilate souls into his being without much push back. What normal, god-fearing person cares if heretical abominations are killed, especially for a holy mission?

And then, Eldritch became a King of Kindling. Simply for his power, his character irrelevant.

Indeed, this justification fits the description of Aldrich’s victims as sacrifices. Firelinking is considered a sacrifice for the greater good, and becoming Aldrich’s feed can be spun as Undead helping extend the Age of Fire by becoming stepping stones to a future Lord of Cinder. In other words, being offered up to Aldrich was indirectly being offered up to link the First Flame, and Undead are desperate to find such purpose to justify their unholy existence. For his part, Aldrich did agree to cooperate, since he apparently never left confinement and would need to have willingly defeated the Soul of Cinder and inherited the First Flame. Personally depraved or no, he was still a member of the clergy, and with that comes the insinuation that he served the gods and also wished for the Age of Fire to continue. It probably didn’t hurt that he could fulfill his holy mission while still indulging in his favorite vices either, and he indulged much if the countless skeletons of humans implicitly assimilated into his amorphous being is any indication.

Still, this doesn’t change the reality of the situation. It is no wonder that Archbishop Klimt abandoned his faith to serve Rosaria. You would have to be weak-willed or not right in the head to ignore what the Way of White was doing at the Cathedral of the Deep. There was no holy and righteous duty there; the church hierarchy was complicit in atrocities — Aldrich had corrupted what sanctity could be found there in every respect. His sludgy corruption can be found on every floor, and some of his maggoty mass of flesh and bone has broken off from the main body, especially in the corpse pools where he presumably dined. Freed of its master, this mess of bodies, souls, and maggots squirms around like any other crawling carrion, adding yet more threats for the bishops to clean up.

When the audio is reversed, the bishops’ unintelligible noises sound like cries for “help” because “he’s going to kill” them. They are afraid, hence why they received rings for better memorization when taking on their duties there. In order to not simply go insane from the repulsiveness, they needed a large and profound story to recall from scripture, for the holy man they appeased is an abomination worthy of his name. “Eldritch” (エルドリッチ) is a word commonly used for the unspeakable evil featured in Lovecraftian horror, and the cleric’s undefined yet bone-chilling form draws obvious parallels to the genre’s maddening outer gods. And just like them, the insanity which Aldrich inspires leaves no escape. Once you have fallen into his abyss, you can only go deeper.

Ring given to bishops of the Church of the Deep. Increases memory slots.

The church is a cradle for repulsive things, and thus they needed a great story. A story so profound that it wouldn’t drive them mad along with the repulsiveness that they looked after.


Sinking Still


At the center of the large chamber behind the main altar dedicated to Caitha lies a stone coffin for Aldrich. Since the cinematic affirms that he was buried outside with his fellow Lords, this is most likely a ceremonial grave in the same vein as Gwyn’s tomb in Anor Londo, heralding his sacrifice to link the fire. It is also covered in dried wax drippings and lit candles, with statues of the bishops crowning the edges of the top — reminding us that he was being contained by the clergy out of fear as much as celebrated. And even after Aldrich was gone, his corruption remained, only to continue plaguing everyone stationed there. The bishops were naturally afraid, and desperate. As their faith and torches proved useless in stemming the bugs, they looked to other sources for help, leading them to embrace taboos that slowly warped their faith.

Because of its efficacy against the maggots, the practice of bleeding itself has become akin to purification. The evangelists all wear notched whips of their belts to perform rituals in the Cleansing Chapel, seishiki (清拭) meaning to both “cleanse” and “wipe”. This is relevant because these cleansing rituals involve whipping the impure Undead so that the spikes will bleed them and thus provide some “corruption” to wipe. This ceremony is but one example of the church straying from the divine power of fire. Another is collecting items like the Curse Ward Greatshield. This shield of the Pursuers from DS2 is too heavy for ordinary humans to wield, thereby conveying how foolhardy it is to resist a curse; its description also acknowledges that, if someone could handle it, it would presumably be great protection against curses. This line of thinking motivated the bishops to accept it as another potential means to combat the cursed Deep.

Whip springing out sharp thorns. The thorns tear off skin and force bleeding.

It is used in the Chapel of Wiping. Because the ceremonies need drippings to wipe.

Greatshield that was given to those who once resisted the curse.

It is said that no ordinary person can handle its heaviness and thus it conveyed the foolishness of resisting a curse.

Nevertheless, if there was someone who could handle it, for the sake of argument, then they would have great protection against curses, would they not?

But These were holy men, not warriors, and their reliance on something other than the power of fire created a slippery slope to fall into, leading them back to the Deep they once worshiped. Since the creatures of the Deep both inflict bleed and easily bleed themselves, one or more of the clergy were tempted into writing new dark stories to add to their divine scriptures, which become the basis for Deep Protection and Gnaw. This was naturally a taboo, hence a braille scripture with these addendums has been sealed away in a mimic in one corner of the church. Regardless of their understandable fear of such heresy, they had still actually created miracles that drew on the Deep’s power, stories that recounted a deep sea which could help more than their traditional healing and Force miracles ever could. And the bishops eventually did start teaching new recruits Deep Protection while the evangelists began casting Gnaw as part of their cleansing through bleeding mindset, using the corrupted pages of their amended scriptures as the catalyst.

Braille scriptures of the Deep. Personal effects of the Church’s bishops.

Can learn miracles of the Deep by giving it to a storyteller.

Some dark stories have now been added to the scriptures that were for the bishops of the Deep to know divine protection. Thus, this is a taboo.

The clerics embraced the taboos of conjuring and manipulating magic through reason rather than faith as well as relying on the cursed power they purified. What would happen then if you combined the two? For his part, Archbishop McDonnell was delighted with these recent developments and took to studying the Deep. This resulted in the Deep sorceries he later taught to Archbishop Royce and others. As we can see from the collective’s boss soul, they were all stagnating in the Deep, which made McDonnell consider the Cathedral the “bottom” of the world, to his great joy. Whether this slow degeneration began only after Aldrich left or even during his original tenure at the cathedral, they undoubtedly came to rely on the gods’ miracles less and less as the years dragged on. And the fact that all of the surviving staff are classified as Hollows attests to their need for more power.

Sorcery of Archbishop Royce and his bishops. It is said that McDonnell of the Cold Valley imparted it.

Fires a dark soul dreg.

It is said that it is a soul which sinks and accumulates in the Deep, and it is attracted to life and pursues targets.

Sorcery superior to Deep Soul. Fires a more powerful dark soul dreg.

It is said that Archbishop McDonnel, who was also a sorcerer, delighted in the stagnant souls in the church. “Splendid, this place is the bottom of the world.”

Emblemizing this shift, the statue of Caitha in the Cleansing Chapel has been obstructed by a stone altar depicting the bishops. They no longer celebrate an absent goddess, but themselves who have suffered to contain the horrors of the Deep from the front line. This self-idolatry is the turning point. If they don’t honor the gods and their divine power, why would they stand in lockstep with their goals for a perpetual Age of Fire? How different are they from the other factions of the Dark who serve themselves or wish for a better age for mankind, really? Caitha’s statues within the cathedral have similarly been covered in drapes whenever possible, showing this disregard for the gods has become widespread. And yet, the local adherents are still holding prayer at the main altar enshrining her obscured form, even as the maggoty corruption swelling from beneath slants it to one side. Everyone has come to worship what they suppressed. The deep gem found on a balcony overlooking the Deep spring serves as an apt metaphor — it is titanite wholly transformed by the stagnation at the Cathedral.

Robe of bishops of the Church of the Deep. The deep-red signifies the divine protection of fire.

They who were expected to be sealers of the Deep were eventually all consumed by the repulsiveness. For neither their faith nor their torches were of any use.


Epiphany


When the Lords of Cinder awoke from their graves, they all refused to assist with the firelinking again. In Aldrich’s case, he had lost hope in that throne. When he first sacrificed himself for the First Flame, it was part of an uninterrupted tradition. But now, it is a crisis. Without Prince Lothric, unkindled like us cannot link the fire, and the First Flame will die with things as they stand. They are the lifeline, but Aldrich wasn’t interested in waiting for ash to turn hero. Instead, he chose to return to the Cathedral and indulge in his favorite habit once again. And whether out of reverence or fear, the monster was welcomed back; the Road of Sacrifices, restarted. In an apparent good will gesture, Aldrich began encouraging some to share in his degeneracy, fashioning rings with which they can enjoy the suffering of anyone they ate alive. This action likely coincided with a certain realization as he implicitly sat snug in his coffin.

Kindling of a King that Eldritch the God-Eater left.

If the kings won’t return to their thrones, returning their kindlings will suffice.

Eldritch, who acquired the qualifications of kingship through man-eating, instead lost hope in that throne and began to eat gods.

Aldrich could see how the corruption he initially caused had become revered and how the staff had turned that power into miracles and sorcerer. And the cleric was no fool; he could see the writing on the wall. The Age of Fire was on its last legs if Prince Lothric had his way. What then? We would enter an Age of Dark, of course. Only, who will lead this new age to replace the old gods? Currently, the fire is left to die on its own, no party snuffing it out. And what about the Dark itself? It, like the rest of the universe, was stagnating. Would this really be an Age of Dark as traditionally thought, or something more like an era of stagnant Dark — an Age of Deep Seas?

Arising from the Dreg Heap are the murkmen. These “damp men” (湿り人) seem to have once been human, but they, like their weapons, became so immersed in the Deep that they have been consumed and transformed by the pitch-black dampness — their bodies disintegrate to just the skeletons, their flesh petrifies and sprouts violet flora, their heads hollow out to faceless vesels, their very beings drip viscous black fluid. Most will try to drag us into the same shadowy fog they clawed up from, some even possessed by large soul dregs that have developed a will. There is no doubt that a stagnant Abyss hides beneath the ash, and we can see its maggots infesting the flesh in the lowest reaches of the Dreg Heap. This is the end result of leaving fire to its slow, inevitable end, all the stagnant lands collected at a single point — creating an ideal environment for the Deep to thrive. As the description for human dregs elucidates, this Dark will shackle the world with it, dragging everything to the bottom until it is all part of the Deep. At its current trajectory, the waning First Flame is guaranteeing this to be the form that the Age of Dark ultimately takes.

Short-handled sickle wielded by the damp men who crawl out from the Deep. It’s a black dampness in its entirety and possesses dark attack power.

Sorcery that fires great dregs of dark souls that sank and accumulated in the Deep for a long time.

Sorcery most superior to “Deep Soul”.

It is said that the damp men that crawl out from the Deep are sometimes possessed by great dregs. They look awfully like man.

The dark sorcerers among the murkmen show that some are embracing this new phenomenon for study, curious about the power which will soon dominate the world. A new age is on the horizon; the question is, who will have the power to rule it? Why Aldrich, of course. He was the only prominent example of the Deep well before the murkmen. And there is his revelation. Mankind didn’t need to bow their heads to “gods” to receive maybe a morsel of their “divine” power for protection. They could rule themselves and master the power they had always been told to fear. The Cathedral of the Deep was proof. Aldrich had come to the same conclusion that adherents of the Dark before him had. Thus, the cleric lost interest in being a King of Kindling to the First Flame in favor of becoming King of Deep Seas, a new god. And so, the maneater decided to instead devour the old gods, the medials who have refused to allow their world order to come to an end. Without them, the principal party pushing for the perpetuation of the First Flame are gone. Yuria makes this very same point when begging us to end the Age of Fire as the Lord of Hollows, so it is only natural that Aldrich would come to the same conclusion for his desired era.

Once he shared his plans with the rest of the Cathedral, their preexisting worship of the Deep was finally codified into a new religion under Aldrich’s leadership. Some have claimed that this “Aldrich Faithful” only consists of those we find in Irithyll, but the covenant in Irithyll is actually dubbed the “Defenders of the God-Eater” (神喰らいの守り手) in reference to their current duty. However, the covenant’s crest depicts a candelabra, the holy symbol of the Cathedral, and the item description states that it is the crest of all those who see an Age of Deep Seas beyond fire like their cannibal master. Unsurprisingly, Archbishop McDonnel promptly discarded his crown along with his allegiance to the Way of White, and several took Aldrich’s rings and ended up as the Deep Accursed. However, the last Archbishop on active duty is Royce, and he leads the bishops as they await the maneater’s return. In short, Aldrich had converted or cowed the whole lot into his following, those of higher status changing out their deep red robes of “fire” for deep blue robes of “water” — the roots growing from their waists and eyes proving their wholehearted embrace of stagnation.

Holy symbol of the Church of the Deep. Crest of those who see an Age of Deep Seas beyond fire.

Become a covenantor of the Defenders of the God-Eater by equipping it.

The Defenders are tasked with not disturbing Eldritch the God-eater. When there is something approaching the abandoned church, it is their mission to hunt it as covenant spirits.

There likely were still those who remained true to their faith and opposed this new cult, but they didn’t last. We can find a Way of White holy woman in uniform among the recent corpses that the giants have been stomping into Aldrich’s next, and she wasn’t the only one based on the numerous others there carrying church-related items. Evidently, dissenters of all walks of life were swiftly eliminated and offered up to their new god, giving the name “Cathedral of the Deep” an entirely new meaning. Our visit likewise prompts the staff to consider us an intruder rather than a pilgrim, hence they attack us on sight; the one exception is the bishop in the bell tower, probably because that Hollow has faithfully remained holed up at his post and not been exposed to the hostile faith spreading throughout the rest of the premises. For all intents and purposes, the entire Way of White at the Cathedral is no more.

After securing his cult, Aldrich departed with McDonnel and a cadre of bishops, mercenaries, and preachers for Irithyll. Royce stayed behind to watch over his master’s coffin while he was away and keep things running smoothly until he eventually returned. Indeed, Aldrich would have eventually come back, given the amount of food he left behind at the giants’ feet. He is only abstaining from these offerings for ascetic reasons, namely to devour gods. O woe is the monster who must deny himself the taste of human flesh until he has gobbled up every obstruction to his domination of the new world order! Of course, the Road of Sacrifices has recently halted thanks to Sulyvahn’s Outrider Knights setting up a choke point at the Undead Settlement, so perhaps it was for the best that he chose then of all times to take up austerity.

Soul of Eldritch. 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.

He saw an Age of Deep Seas beyond darkened fire. Thus he began to eat gods even knowing that it was very long asceticism.

As for Royce, guard duty doesn’t seem to be his only purpose there. When we first enter the bishops’ boss battle, we encounter only regular enemies, damaging “the boss” by slaying the one with a red-colored aura. This power then leaves the slain body and possesses another, a process which repeats until the Archbishop finally appears with a cadre of blue-robed bishops in tow. Given that Royce is shrouded in the same red aura as those possessed, it would seem that this is his soul possessing his peons’ bodies before ultimately returning to the original vessel to face us personally. If he cannot use his full power otherwise, then why bother? This possession is likely part of a Deep experiment. Royce’s staff emits power the same hue as their souls and conjures powerful deep souls and curses with the help of his underlings. While red isn’t the color typically used for Deep magic, it isn’t unprecedented for Dark magic either, as seen with the Dark Hand and Red Eye Orb. Therefore, Royce’s body-possessing spirit may still be an expression of the Deep’s power.

Soul of the Bishops of the. 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.

Archbishop Royce, who remained at the church after Eldritch left for the Cold Valley, continued to protect his master’s coffin with his bishops.

The boss is not just Royce but all the bishops, their souls all flocking around his larger soul while not actually assimilating into it. Rather, they all head in the same direction together, like a school of fish swimming downward. This seems to be based on the principle of Deep souls pooling together at the lowest point they sink to, so Royce may be taking advantage of this concept to link himself with the other Deep souls as their focal point. He then uses this link between independent souls to have his spirit possess bodies as if they were his own, with his death likewise resulting in theirs. In fact, the concept resembles Aldrich’s own control over his amalgamated mass of bodies and souls, which also largely die with him. In that case, they may be performing ritual worship to deepen their strength, perhaps even trying to draw on some residual power that Aldrich had left behind at his coffin. And as part of these ceremonies, Royce developed this body-hopping link with his congregation. It presumably helps with his guard duty.

By possessing another’s body and soul, he can defend the coffin while bringing no serious harm to himself. But we force his hand by proving too difficult for his peons to handle. His possessions limit him to using the power of their souls, not his. He thus has to put his skin in the game in order to unleash the full might of the Deep they all possess. If this is indeed the case, then it really shows how devoted the Archbishop is to Aldrich despite all of them fearing death in this church for the longest time. Whether driven by genuine reverence for the maneater’s power, a selfish hunger for that power, or fear of suffering such power, he would rather die than let us disgrace his new master.


Return Home


The Cathedral’s arrival to Irithyll wasn’t a pleasant visit. The key that the Pontiff gave Aldrich all those years ago had been left behind in his empty casket according to Anri. However, we pick one such a doll off the corpse of Royce after defeating him, which we then keep on our person so we can pass through the magic barrier. Anri similarly has no apparent difficulty entering Irithyll. In other words, these are two different dolls we each possess. While it is easy to assume the doll we took belonged to Aldrich, the key’s description doesn’t actually mention this important fact and instead highlights the kinds of people Sulyvahn gave it to. He definitely gave one to the cursed cleric, but there was one other notable Irithyllian clergyman whom the Pope sent out: Archbishop McDonnel. And given their shared rank, devotion to the Deep, and considerable time together at the Cathedral, it is feasible for McDonnell to have entrusted the small doll with Royce. This means that both men elected not to bring a key home.

Even if they brought the dolls with them, it would only allow them to pass through the barrier, as we can demonstrate whilst being chased down by one of Sulyvahn’s beasts. But they had brought a small army, and that is an appropriate expression. Without a key, there is only two practical means to enter the city: break the magic barrier by force or sneak around it through the sewers like Greirat and ourselves. Neither implicates very peaceful intentions by the approaching cult. One might argue that the Pope simply removed the barrier to allow Aldrich and his forces inside, but such unfiltered traffic into the city would defeat the purpose of erecting one in the first place. Morever, Aldrich and McDonnell have no reason to unnecessarily inconvenience their entry by not coming in themselves to negotiate on the rest’s behalf. It was no accident that they left the dolls reminding them of their home to return to — it was a sign of war.

A peculiar landslide has blocked the main route to and from Irithyll, proceeded by destruction to statues and lamposts as we follow the main street through the snowy city. Someone caused this, and recently. Moreover, the Pontiff’s knights we encounter are all gaunt “ghosts” among the ranks of the dead, not the living. Descriptions for their equipment further explain that they were “once” the Pontiff’s eyes and blades, meaning that has not been the case as of late. Someone killed them, and recently. Their weapons are lightweight and brittle despite their size thanks to holes which their descriptions say make them look like they were eaten away by insects, reminding us of the vicious bugs of the Deep which the evangelists conjure. This is reinforced by the fact that Greirat acquires these same half-eaten weapons during his heist of the Undead Settlement, where those same preachers have since taken over. The Pontiff Knights stationed in town would have no doubt been caught up in the recent purge by the radicalized locals, hence why we don’t actually encounter any there.

Curved sword of the Pontiff Knights, cold ghosts of Irithyll.

This somewhat large blade looks bug-eaten and is physically lightweight and brittle.

By contrast, the ghostly knights seen in Irithyll are able to pull dark souls out from their throats and hurl them. This can’t be their own soul since they can so easily extract it from their bodies, which prove to be quite weak to the Dark, and this lack of resistance also excludes it from being the result of Sulyvahn’s magical experiments. They are infested with some kind of dark soul, such as those conjured by Deep Soul. And the bishops who can perform that spell just so happen to be plentiful in Irithyll. In other words, Sulyvahn’s forces were mauled by the maneater’s own in a massacre, hence the notable number of corpses bearing the souls of soldiers and warriors as we pass through. And based on the tattered state of his eminent robes, the Pontiff himself fought in this battle they ultimately lost. Forget his political authority, his life was in jeopardy! Sulyvahn wasn’t given a choice. He had to capitulate.

And so, the Pontiff offered the god he had long imprisoned to Aldrich, who then went to the Anor Londo cathedral and consumed the Way of White’s Allfather. This meal was done “slowly”, and Aldrich is described as having still been in the process of eating Gwyndolin when we arrive to face him. Matching this, both the Darkmoon deity’s body and soul are shown to not have been completely assimilated into Aldrich’s own during the boss battle. However, whether he can still be considered alive with his will completely suppressed is debatable. Regardless, it indicates that these events were rather recent relative to our arrival, though it has at least taken long enough for him to dream of Yorshka from his food’s memories. It is from this experience that the god-eater invented a miracle manifesting the crossbreed’s Lifehunt power. Something similar has been done with memories of the god’s golden bow and moonlight arrows, which he will rain down as a storm that follows us wherever we go.

All of this discounts the notion that Aldrich has eaten any gods or men since. With his abstinence and subsequent departure to the Boreal Valley, he hasn’t had the opportunity to eat any gods except for the one he is currently digesting. While the localization does dub him the “Devourer of Gods”, the original title of “god-eater” doesn’t require him to have eaten more than the one. Some point to the magic manifestation of a bone sword sharing the same model as Nito’s Gravelord Swords as proof that he has also devoured the death god. However, this is Deep magic for a character whose entire body is filled with the bones of all his victims at the Cathedral. Moreover, it deals no toxic damage despite deadly poisons representing Nito’s power of death in DS1 — the Lifehunt miracle manifests its power. Simply put, there are no other gods in Aldrich’s gut. Nito is long gone, and the rest of the pantheon is dead or missing when Aldrich decided to devour them. Their leader was, naturally, his top priority. He could prepare for his next divine victim after he returned to the Cathedral of the Deep.

In the meantime, Aldrich’s body has spread its corruption to the entire Anor Londo cathedral, that sludgy matter even blocking our way to the old royal manor. Aside from tearing up age-old architecture, this cult has been killing time while the master feasts. As we enter the Irithyll cathedral courtyard, we see many dead or near-dead giant slaves lying all around the garden. Overlooking them from the upstairs terrace is a number of bishops ready to rain fire down below. Meanwhile, the human slaves cower in a shadowy corner under the terrace while a number of human corpses amongst the giants harbor embers. It would seem that the cultists have been passing the time tormenting and killing the slaves, giant or otherwise. Of course, it isn’t all twisted fun and games. Aldrich’s servants have been killing any resisters.

The Silver Knights we encounter are all Hollows, implying that they were slain defending Gwyndolin’s manor and the Anor Londo cathedral from intruders. Apparently, the Pontiff didn’t have either the time or the concern to tell the church knights about the Allfather’s guests, or perhaps these retainers of the royalty had realized the cult’s obvious dark intentions and ignored it. Either way, Aldrich’s forces simply steamrolled through, killing any in their way — including the giant blacksmith. They were then tasked with not disturbing their master as he ingests a god. For this reason, McDonnell had set it up so the bishops and mercenaries could keep out intruders from approaching the Anor Londo ruins and summon more help from elsewhere if necessary. This has the added problem of concentrating too much of their forces in one small area, which Pontiff Sulyvahn has been swift to take advantage of before our arrival.

The Pontiff knights, now reanimated among the dead through either their own resentment or necromancy, have returned to patrolling the streets and keeping order within the city. The preacher Dorhys has been locked up in a penitentiary near the city square to keep her from spreading the Deep’s teachings. We find her praying in tongues, but she has apparently gone mad. As the description for her miracle relates, she stood at the proverbial edge of the Deep and “slipped” to the bottom where she was completely intoxicated by the stagnant Dark — at least her closeness to the Deep Seas befits the name “Doris”, daughter of the sea god Oceanus in Greek mythology. The barrier around the city is back online by the time we arrive, much to one of his guard dog’s inconvenience. McDonnell has also been discretely eliminated since we can find his corpse, among others, in a reservoir guarded by two of the Pontiff’s beasts and hidden behind an illusory wall. Whether the Archbishop went down there out of fascination with deep waters or something else, Sulyvahn made sure that Aldrich’s lieutenant wouldn’t leave the room ever again.

Miracle of Doris, a preacher who went mad. Summons a swarm of insects and eats away at the enemy a lot.

Those who stand at the edge of the Deep occasionally let themselves slip to the bottom. She was probably fattened and surely intoxicated.

Sulyvahn certainly isn’t pleased with being bossed around by his former subordinates and has been inconspicuously working to undermine the Deep cult while Aldrich is busy eating Gwyndolin. As to the Pontiff’s next move, without the Allfather, his justification for power is all but gone. He no longer has a hostage to leverage against those foreign parties who might want him deposed. Therefore, he may have finally switched allegiances himself. He has already studied dark sorcery and the creatures of the Deep exhaustively, so his formal fall to the Dark was already set up, and all Sulyvahn cares about is retaining power. Either way, he had to first regain control of his city from the fanatics. And unfortunately for him, we intrude in the middle of this intrigue and kill them both without a care for politics.