Flash of Light
We encounter the Dragonslayer Armour on the bridge linking Lothric Castle to its Grand Archives, specifically just after passing through sections dominated by soldiers and knights. This suggests that the boss is army property, and the melted iron armor’s chief purpose supports this. The Dragonslayer Greataxe and Greatshield “slightly revive” their one-time wielder’s battle arts largely because they have been endowed with the power of lightning. This lines up with the description of the Lightning Urn, which states that the Lothric knights hunted dragons long ago and so revered the sun to employ such sunlight tools. Although the English description indicates that these techniques were for hunting archdragons, the Japanese text only confirms that they are the methods of old dragonslayers. Archdragons are unlikely to have been their prey given that the race has been nigh extinct ever since the hunts conducted by the four Lords. That isn’t to say that Lothric’s oldest knights weren’t influenced by archdragon hunters, however.
Melted iron greataxe that was a part of the Dragon-hunting Armor.
Due to it carrying strong power of lightning as well as its battle art, it slightly revives the battle methods of the old dragon-hunters.
The helmet for the Dragonslayer Armour bears traits of primordial serpents like Frampt while its red plume mirrors the one adorning the helm of Dragonslayer Ornstein. The implication is that the armor of Lothric’s dragonslayers were at least partially influenced by Anor Londo culture. But from looking at its stained-glass windows, the state church is rooted in the Way of Blue, not the Way of White. The fact that the resident High Priestess Emma is in possession of an old contract for the Blue faith reinforces this notion. Lothric Castle also stores the Spirit Tree Crest Shield, a dead ringer for the Spirit Tree Shield earned by ascending the ranks of the Blue Sentinels in Dark Souls II. (DS2) In a similar vein, Albert helps defend Lothric while armed with the Golden Wing Crest Shield that knights of blue used in the game prior. The Silver Eagle Kite Shield stored along Lothric’s High Wall was first seen in DS2 as well. Even Lothric priests are given holy bells rather than cloth talismans, a practice native to the New World’s religious tradition.
By all indications, Lothric culture was heavily influenced by the past game since its foundation. At the same time, the kingdom was undeniably founded upon dragonslaying. The Consumed King’s Garden situated right between Lothric Castle and its Grand Archives seems to be a private garden for the royal family stretching across the entire back half of the kingdom’s walled perimeter, similar to Oolacile’s Royal Wood in the original Dark Souls. (DS1) Preserved within it are ruins bearing the hallmarks of the temple at Archdragon Peak, the same snake-men skulking about inside. In short, the very seat of the royal government was built upon someplace linked to a dragonslaying war god who wields lightning and shares that power with warriors who worship him. And it just so happened that there was an epidemic of dragons at the time, requiring an entire army of dragonslayers be raised with the founding of a new nation to combat the threat. What brought about this apparently sudden influx of dragons? How did this land become immersed in the culture of the New World? The answer to both is the First Flame’s translocation.
Lothric has become the latest staging ground for the firelinking ritual thanks to the drift bringing the First Flame there. This requires that at least parts of the land surrounding the original fire also be brought over, and that land would be Drangleic. While the kingdom bearing its name had already been destroyed during the events of DS2, its legacy remained in the various ruins and cultural items found across the continent. And while we don’t encounter any of these places outside of the Dreg Heap, the numerous parts of Lordran brought over to Drangleic indicates that enough would end up there to inspire the culture. The Dragon Aerie was likely among them.
Recall that the eastern end of Drangleic was a flourishing wyvern nest. What would have stopped these dragons from continuing to multiply and eventually spreading to the rest of the continent? In that ruined land, they were the apex predator, and the absence of the Dragon Shrine’s venerable archdragon from the current historical record leaves them potentially lacking leadership following DS2’s events. And what would then stop them from continuing to spread after the drift suddenly plops them into a completely new part of the world? We already see that the poison horn bugs from the New World have invaded Old World habitats, after all; the same can be said for the New World giant who apparently died and became a tree just outside Firelink Shrine.
In short, Drangleic’s burgeoning wyvern populace drifted over with the First Flame, creating a crisis for the unprepared humans already settling the land. With nothing else to rely upon, they turned to the historical and religious elements which also stagnated there for aid. Even though this knowledge was probably fragmentary like was the case for DS2’s various faiths, it would have still taught them about the Anor Londo gods, the firelinking tradition, and dragonslaying. And without the Way of White to clarify doctrine, Lothric’s forefathers’ wholesale embrace of Gwyn’s firstborn in particular was all but guaranteed.
Although the wooden shields Lothric soldiers currently wield bear the image of a white dragon, the wooden shields hanging on racks in the city barracks instead bear the image of a white lion. These same shields were previously acquired in DS1 and DS2 respectively, making the latter another element inherited from Drangleic that has only been more recently replaced post-contact with the Old World. And while the lion is a symbol of strength, courage, and military might, that probably wasn’t the main reason behind its adoption. Albert’s armor and Lion Knight title are taken directly from Forossa, indicating that Lothric understands the connection between the ruined nation’s war god Faraam and the firstborn. And considering Albert’s association with the Blue Sentinels, this knowledge was probably acquired alongside its religion. Indeed, a shrine statue of the firstborn is found in Lothric Castle, likely based on the same found in Drangleic which itself was presumably also caught in the drift.
The kingdom’s forebears were undoubtedly informed by the dead culture brought to their doorstep. And yet, the covenant connected to Lothric’s shrine statue is called the “Warriors of the Sun” (太陽の戦士) like in DS1 and not the “Heirs of the Sun” (太陽の後継) like in DS2, suggesting even more knowledge than what was known to Drangleic. Given Archdragon Peak’s presence in the region, Lothric’s founding king most likely made contact with the firstborn at his temple, agreeing to a covenant. Why did the archdragons’ ally agree to assist aspiring dragonslayers? For one, the war god has never restricted his worshipers from hunting dragons. Moreover, Drangleic’s wyverns were brainwashed to defend the land by Aldian magic and subsequently left in the wild for unknown eons. There may have simply been no means to bridge the gap for negotiations. And so, the firstborn agreed to teach his specialty.
This collaboration led to the construction of a new temple with the help of the snake-men, who have remained to care for the facility even after it has fallen to ruin. Lothric’s knights strengthened their ties with its High Priestess after the scholars acquired the Grand Archives, which the description for Soul Stream dates to the beginning of Lothric itself. In other words, the two factions predate the actual beginning of the kingdom, or at least the modern city. And if the old dragonslayers were the basis for Lothric’s knights, then the temple facilitating their power to hunt must have been the same for its High Priestesses. Lothric religion thereby combined its derivative Way of Blue basis with the original Warriors of Sunlight cult, hence its priests cast a more powerful variant of the covenant’s Sacred Oath miracle. The church likewise regulates access to the royal garden, with priests praying to the old temple from an adjoining chapel — walkways and lifts providing the priests direct access to the ruins. But the temple grounds were ultimately property of one man, making obedience to him and his line the deciding factor for the other locals’ salvation from a wyvern menace.
And so, the Lothric Royal Family was formed under the new country’s first king, who provided the power of sunlight to all swore fealty to him. And once they were all loyal, armed, and ready, this king hunted the wyverns plaguing the land with his knights. Indeed, it is only natural that the warriors first willing to risk their lives facing dragons be honored with knighthood along with all the status it entails. And these knights employed what they were taught well. Aside from employing special hunting tools like lightning urns, the original knights knew to bash a dragon’s scaly hide with their shields and rain their axes down upon its head with lightning, as evidenced by the Dragonslayer Armour. However, their axe’s Falling Bolt skill resembles Lightning Stake, a lost dragonslaying miracle acquired by killing the Carthus Sand Worm. This implies that the maneater gobbled up the spell’s text along with its owner while burrowing through the earth. In other words, people knowledgeable in an art otherwise only seen performed by the Nameless King are buried in the region. In that case, these local dragonslayers were most likely Lothric Knights, making sure to learn every dragonslaying technique recorded in their war god’s scriptures.
Lost miracle of dragon-hunters.
Strikes with a stake of lightning.
This story imparts the forgotten style of dragon-hunters: “If piercing the scales of dragons, don’t throw lightning. Violently thrust a stake into the dragons with your own hands.”
Thanks to these dragonslayers, Lothric’s skies have been free of wyverns, save for those they now ride. All three of Lothric’s Pillars are said to have existed since long ago, and this is the explicit reasoning behind the King permitting the knights to befriend dragons. However, this wasn’t a reward for their long service, as the Lothric War Banner depicting the modern dragon heraldry has also been waved since days of old. Likewise, the knights’ conquests with their wyvern steeds is already a “very old story” in the present era, meaning that the practice dates back to an even earlier period in Lothric’s history: its dragonslaying foundation. What prompted the kingdom to mount the creatures they hunted? Contact with their war god. With all the help he provided, it was impossible for Lothric not to notice their sun god’s alliance with dragons and comradery with his wyvern mount. If he was cooperating with the beasts, then surely his worshipers could muster the same civility. Thus they did, capturing and taming what wyverns they didn’t hunt and becoming dragonriders like Drangleic before them. So went the foundation of a new kingdom in the world of man.
Even as they were hunting and taming dragons, Lothric had taken up another role as the staging ground for the firelinking ritual. We can date this duty to the kingdom’s beginning due to the recreation of the Lordvessel set up at the back of the garden temple. In DS1, the Lordvessel served as the key to measuring souls worthy of linking the fire, and memory of it was preserved through the Heide civilization in Drangleic. Lothric clearly inherited this knowledge, and they definitely used it for firelinking. The back wall beyond the Lordvessel is illusory, allowing us to enter the Cemetery of Ash. While now an outdoor graveyard, the ruins indicate that it was once a large indoor complex, mixing Lothric’s modern architecture with that of the garden temple. And at the center of what was once a large chamber toward the front of this complex sits another Lordvessel. Further in, we enter Gundyr’s boss room, a large circular chamber with the boss at its center, the walls decorated with the same written tablets embedded in the floor and walls of the garden temple. And beyond there is Firelink Shrine, with yet another Lordvessel serving as our bonfire.
All of this paints a clear progression for Lothric’s firelinking tradition. It began in the garden temple, with the tablets most likely serving as headstones for the country’s earliest Lord of Cinder and unkindled burials. As space became an issue, a more modern shrine was built extending out from the original complex, building around the new judge of ash and carrying on the original burial practices. But the graveyard only continued to grow, so the old facility was abandoned in favor of the current Firelink Shrine. From this latest facility, more traditional graves and coffins were fashioned and installed wherever they could fit in the old ritual place as it fell into total disrepair. Unsurprisingly, all of this has been managed by Lothric’s religious body. Considering that the cemetery’s gravekeepers possess the Cleric’s Sacred Chimes given to Undead clergymen, the task fell to what Lothric priests didn’t stay dead. By leaving it to them, the priesthood minimized the risks of dealing with Undead while safely excising its own problematic elements who had otherwise served the gods faithfully.
Put simply, Lothric had a dual tradition of dragonslaying and firelinking from its foundation. And while the firstborn was clearly the centerpiece of the faith, he wasn’t the only figure influencing it. As mentioned earlier, primordial serpents helped inspire Lothric’s dragonslaying armor’s design, and statues of one such serpent sporting angelic wings and the robes of a clergyman can be found around Lothric Castle and the Grand Archives. The image of an angel has traditionally symbolized agents acting on behalf of the gods’ will, and there is only one world serpent fitting this role of divine messenger: Frampt. Moreover, the King of Lothric is also depicted as an angel in certain statues, and the kingdom itself seems to have adopted Drangleic’s old coins featuring an angel as its currency — even some reliefs portray angels crowning a meagerly-dressed King as the masses pray in reverence. Evidently, the primordial serpent from DS1 crossed paths with Lothric during its foundation and inspired the state to become divine servants like him; the only reason to impress that particular image is to fulfill his previous role guiding the firelinking process to completion.
Therefore, Frampt had convinced the fledgling state to pick up where Drangleic had left off with preserving the First Flame dwelling in their land. This would certainly explain why Lothric knew about the flame’s presence there so quickly, but how did the world serpent even find them? He couldn’t have been brought over with Drangleic’s drift since the primordial serpents are entirely absent from New World save for one shield bearing their image — even then, this depiction and the beliefs surrounding it were slightly distorted from reality. At the same time, he couldn’t have been part of later drifts and still be so fundamental to Lothric culture. This leaves traveling on foot as the only option. But if the serpent was so determined to locate the First Flame and guarantee the local powers work to safeguard it, why had he apparently not done so in Drangleic? Geography may be to blame.
Lothric serves as a bridge between the Old and New Worlds. Various characters have traveled to Lothric from Old World countries which seemingly haven’t drifted there, such as Carim and Catarina. Likewise, the Witchtree Branch and Saint-tree Bellvine had originally derived from forests in the New World, yet we find them in this region with their descriptions claiming them to originate in the far north. This implies that both past settings are within travel distance of Lothric, the New World specifically being to the far north. And yet, these two worlds never had contact before Lothric’s era. Why? Both settings had about equal contact with the Japanese-inspired country to the Far East, so they cannot be located east or west of one another. The Old World also cannot be north of Drangleic since there lies a continent with an otherwise unseen race of giants. That leaves north of Lordran and south of Drangleic, with Lothric sandwiched between them.
In short, Frampt might not have made contact with Drangleic because it was simply too far. He would have to travel north past Lordran, past Lothric, and past the region where the Bearer of the Curse originated. Moreover, there are brawny warriors north of Lothric wearing cold-resistant iron armor otherwise unseen in the series. Considering the mountainous surroundings, it is feasible for there to be peoples living at higher altitudes with cooler temperatures, but this would mean that there are yet more lands that Frampt would have had to travel through. Compared to Lothric, Drangleic was simply unreachable for the events of DS2. But once the First Flame moved further south, it became feasible for the primordial serpent to locate the fire and establish a rapport with its stewards. And following the revelation from this divine messenger, Lothric became the next land dedicated to preserving the Age of Fire. Continued firelinking didn’t stop new lands from stagnating around the young kingdom, however — and they weren’t welcome.
The Japanese description for the Lothric Knight Sword reveals that the kingdom’s dragonriders had initially conquered everything that drifted, not “threatened their shores” as the localization claims. Given that the first drift had brought them nothing but trouble, this northern people naturally assumed any subsequent drifting lands to be additional threats. Thus, if any new country suddenly appeared near their territory, they would crush it immediately. The knights would slaughter the invaders, and their wyvern steeds would raise their cities. Lothric would leave nothing to chance. However, this automatic hostility toward the stagnant lands at some point stopped. Lothric’s conquests are a “very old story” which have garnered the knights fame, and none of the more recently stagnant lands we explore show sign of invasion. In all likelihood, these incursions ended with Irithyll drifting to the region.
Straight sword of the famous Lothric Knights. Fine quality blade that is excellent for thrusting attacks.
It is said that the Lothric Knights conquered everything that drifted with their wyverns. It is already a very old story now.
If any country would give Lothric pause from mindless destroying, it would be the homeland for remnants of Anor Londo and the gods the kingdom worshiped. And once the two states entered diplomatic talks, Lothric would surely have better understood the nuances behind the drifts and stop assaulting every stagnating land on sight. Indeed, the silver medallion depicting the crest for the Blades of the Darkmoon covenant employs a Lothric Knight Sword for its motif, signaling the harmony established between the two countries’ respective chivalric orders. The same might be said for Lorian’s armor, which the Lothric Royal Family have been passing down for implicitly generations. Anor Londo was known for its brass products, and this black-dyed brass armor with a flame design is a worthy gift to a family entrusted with fueling the First Flame with men. There is thus little reason to doubt that Irithyll’s translocation compelled the radical shift in Lothric’ foreign policy.
With the divine capital’s move to Lothric, the Way of White had every incentive to find the vestiges of its gods’ homeland. And after reestablishing contact, the Old World would have a foothold in Lothric, thereby facilitating a link with the New World. Both Lothric and the god-fearing lands farther north were from then on under the influence of their parent faith. But despite this more direct contact with the Way of White, the gods and their church have lacked the capabilities or willingness to force reform of Lothric religion, which is no surprise. The kingdom controlled the fate of the First Flame and had been preserving it without issue up until that point, so there was little reason to potentially rock the boat. Why risk war over something apparently inconsequential? So long as Gwyn’s firstborn wasn’t actively sabotaging them, the Old World church could afford to overlook Lothric’s eccentricities. Besides, time changes all things.
The Lothric Knights have long changed out their dragonslayer armor for more traditional protection, and the Armour boss we face only retains memories from the residual vestiges of its original owner’s soul; this one set may even be the last of its kind. Likewise, the snake-men have been all but abandoned in the kingdom’s ruined temple, most of them slaughtered by presumably the Drakeblood Knight found meditating before the building — being dead, he himself was likely unsuspectingly killed by the one survivor still lurking about in there. And despite the Lothric Knights retaining sunlight miracles and tools, Lightning Stake remains a lost miracle in the present era, buried with the dead that were left forgotten on the battlefield. Already various aspects of Lothric religion have fallen by the wayside. Given more time, perhaps all of the kingdom’s nonstandard cultural elements would have disappeared as the country assimilated with Old World culture. But presently, Lothric will meet its end as a proud dragonslaying nation, certainly more than a firelinking one.