What makes us human? What makes us not? Even though the world of Demon’s Souls is far less fantastical than the setting of its spiritual successor Dark Souls, it is no less fascinating due to how it revolves around such simple yet fundamental questions. Better still, the world is constructed so that we must explore it to find our answers, the places we visit largely existing for us to observe and understand with minimal input from the narrative. Perhaps that was the intent given the game’s thematic elements, but it allows us to peer all the way back into the beginning and perceive a world we have never actually seen — a world where magic and demons are somewhat less grand than you might expect, but no less central to the underlying questions posed at the start.
Light the Way
On the world’s first day, men were given souls. The next day, a demon was planted upon the Earth. The English text from the opening cinematic implies that something committed these actions. Yuria defines that something as “God” in Japanese dialogue, though even she isn’t sure what He is exactly. For what it is worth, He is seemingly modeled on the Judeo-Christian conception of the divine, as this singular entity is present from the very start and so presumably responsible for Creation itself. However, this Creator shouldn’t be mistaken for the God of the Abrahamic faiths. The filthy woman’s single mention of the Virgin Mary is merely a product of the localization, and nothing else implicates a connection between the game’s world and our own. This deity doesn’t make Himself clearly known in the realms of observation or revelation, so we can only presume His existence by the same logic as Yuria as well as from the cinematic. Even so, the Creator’s reasons for giving men souls is obvious.
The soul is a power which serves as the source of thought, logic. It brings man “clarity” in that it is the means by which we comprehend the world around us and all relations therein. How the wind blows the clouds, how the river flows down the mountain, how the leaves fall from the trees — all of these invisible links inherent to the universe, we can think upon and understand thanks to the soul mediating them. By that same token, we can interact with reality because the soul binds together all of Creation. Through that bond mediating other relations, we can think, and through thought, we can act and influence the world on the other end. The soul therefore governs possibility, the power to turn the conceptual into reality.
The soul is the aether for living things to think and comprehend the world.
Logic of all things that live which no longer returns to its master. Power of the soul that comprehends relations and mediates them. Grant this person possibility, thus become the world’s place to go.
Nowhere is this seen better than in magic, more formally known as the soul arts. We can use the soul’s power to interfere with the laws of nature, such as conjuring balls of fire or walls of water out of thin air. This willful manipulation of the universe as it relates to itself and to us is referred to as majutsu, (魔術) literally “magic arts”, (later localized as “sorcery” in Dark Souls) but it all falls under the larger umbrella of “magic”, or mahou. (魔法) After all, inanimate objects can exhibit magical effects so long as they contain souls. Sometimes those specific effects are at the living’s direction, like the various magic tools we can acquire. Other times, they are natural byproducts, like ores. While called stones and minerals, these materials used to enhance weapons are apparently souls altered into new forms after interacting with their specific environment, whether that be deep within the earth or high up in the sky. They are thus magic items possessing their own unique properties and effects, some not even loosely resembling your typical rock.
Weapons become stronger by burning them with ores and changing their characteristics. Ores are a different form of spirits. They bless weapons.
Our power to meddle with Creation which we were gifted the ability to recognize is typically expressed through intelligence. Such “comprehension power” (知力) primarily determines the amount of spells we can perform, highlighting the soul’s key function to gain command of our environment. However, it isn’t its only function. If intelligence enables our ability to know things through reason, faith gives us conviction in their reality even absent the knowledge. This is why intelligence and faith both govern our memory slots for spells and miracles, relating memorization to the mind and thus the soul. Feelings hold just as much power as raw reason, as witches like Yuria demonstrate, and faith is no different. While most stats defining our being improve our resistance to magic, faith does so slightly more. For if one bends reality for what it is, the other ignores it for what it is determined to be not. It is the belief that something is true which can make it true, as those conceptions become part of our perception of reality and can therefore affect the “world” as we know it.
World tendency encapsulates this notion. The threat of death naturally makes one more cognizant of the dangers in the world, whereas victories over our fears make us feel more liberated, or perhaps complacent. Regardless, it only makes sense that dying make the world a harsher place comporting to our new perception, enemies becoming more numerous and lethal. Likewise, defeating powerful malicious forces assuages that belief, bringing us in contact with less threats and more benevolent people. While no character acknowledges the effects of world tendency either way, the mechanic undeniably ties into the concept of personal feelings affecting reality; it also illustrates the importance of will in making those differences.
Whether it be magic or the mundane, potential is only potential until we seize upon it. Those who don’t have become crestfallen, or “heartbroken”, (心折れた) lacking the will to go on. And given that kokoro (心) generally refers to one’s core — be it heart, spirit, or mind — it is synonymous with the soul. The last Monumental refers to the soul as the aether (エーテル) in reference to the idea of the fifth element — a substance which permeates all space and was believed to be the pure essence that gods breathed in Greek mythology. It is our God-given soul which permits us will, feeling, and thought to change the space around us. Magic is merely us doing all this with the soul itself rather than the reality its power bridges our consciousness to. However, this power shouldn’t be mistaken for the source of life.
Even though the cinematic only mentions humans, the soul exists in all living things according to both the Monumental and the Maiden in Black. And yet, despite what the localization for the introductory cutscene might claim, it isn’t a “life force” like traditionally imagined in religion and philosophy. You can survive without a soul, it just arguably wouldn’t be you that is alive, merely a husk devoid of consciousness or personality. Naturally, this soulless biological machine acts on autopilot, performing whatever it had been habitualized to do throughout its functional existence. Its only other instinct is to seek the souls it is “starved” of, as if innately recognizing what it lacks and attempting to correct it — making it possible for us to distract this mindless body with soul remains.
The demons rob mankind of their souls. Those robbed hunger for souls, lose their sanity, and attack others.
Still, there seems to be a gradient to soul starvation, since the starved still provide souls upon death. In other words, you don’t need to lose all your souls, just enough that you no longer have the capacity to function as a sentient being. And once your sanity crosses that threshold, your body forever loses agency, hence souls are our currency for trade. No one wants to become that violent monster hungry for souls, so they attempt to secure their reason by bolstering the souls that they might end up losing; the more, the better. The amount of souls is likely the key factor in why animals don’t possess sentience like humans as well. That said, we need the Maiden in Black in order to have the souls we add to ours improve things like intelligence, so the matter seems to be slightly more complicated.
For one, the soul is clearly not metaphysical like traditionally imagined, but a tangible substance which we can extract from our bodies and hold in our hands, typically colored blue or aqua like most magic. Because of this, souls can be combined or split, decreasing or increasing their power — in the case of splitting, shedding the original soul of its unique properties as well. Beings that live longer tend to collect more souls, which then become part of their own. Souls of nameless soldiers are small and worth little while souls of legendary heroes are large and worth much, probably because the latter collected many souls from the many lives they encountered during their heroics. This seems to be because humans naturally absorb souls from those they kill, though this process apparently occurs beneath notice. Perhaps upon ending a life, the newly dispossessed soul becomes attracted to the nearest soul still active, but the fact that we can loot sizable souls from corpses and obtain more by killing with certain magical effects indicates that not all are drawn in. The absorbed souls also aren’t immediately incorporated into our own, so the natural process likely takes more time as we continue to experience life and exercise our minds each day.
On the topic of days, the soul arts exhibit a clear pattern with light, especially the sun. Aside from obvious examples like Soul Ray, Light Weapon is a spell which conjures light to deal magic damage whereas its counterpart Cursed Weapon deals physical damage. Light is also emitted from soul-imbued augites, literally “brightstones”. (輝石) At least one of the two magic stones we acquire are of human invention, but the same cannot be said for the large slugs. These luminescent mollusks produce a waxy, sticky magical substance — presumably mucus — from bathing in “lightwater”. (光水) Adding to this, cloudstone is specifically referring to “thin clouds”, (薄雲) using the same kanji for “thin” as its “light” green coloration. This is relevant because these transmogrified souls are seemingly formed in the breaks between such clouds. Because they take up that space where sunlight normally shines through, the ore blocks light and thereby increases a shield’s magic resistance. Not only does this imply light to be a medium for souls, it indicates that the giant ball of fire in the sky is a source for them.
Pure white wax-looking, sticky something. Varnishes right-hand weapon and endows it with a magic effect.
It is said to be an aged waste product of a slug that bathed in lightwater.
Fragment of light-green ore said to be in breaks between the clouds. Enhances shields in particular.
Ore that blocks light and raises the magic cut rate of shields. Enhancing via thin cloudstones becomes possible up to a maximum level of 5.
Indeed, there are a disproportionate amount of flame sorceries for us to learn in-game, as if it is easier for magic to produce fire than other elements — the most primitive and powerful spells both employ it. The Maiden in Black also reinforces an association between the two phenomena. This so-called Candle Maiden, (火防女) is more accurately a “fire defense woman”. (later localized as “Fire Keeper” in Dark Souls) And what is her job? To keep the lights on in a magic temple. Being a magic caster herself, do the lights of the flames she preserves keep things running? The magic Archstones certainly lose “light” upon their destruction according to the cut codex entries. Flame is likewise the medium with which we mold souls into weapons. And if fire — or at least its light — can manipulate souls, then it is the only power to do so other than souls themselves. In that case, there must be a close connection between the power of possibility and the light of fire.
Me…? I am simply the Fire Keeper. I protect the light of this temple for you all, you demon slayers.
Six magic stones enshrined in the Lynchpin Temple. They are connected with the various parts of Boletaria by some unknown power. They are the sole means of transport to cross the “colorless” thick fog. Presently, one has been destroyed and lost its light.
This peculiar relationship between souls and sunlight is exhibited in another heavenly body: the moon. Moonlightstone and Darkmoonstone are both ores which give weapons a magical enhancement. And though the latter supposedly imitates the “shadow” of the moon to contrast the former imitating its light, it should be noted that “moonshadow” (月影) is typically just another word for moonlight. Considering that the ore’s description calls the arms it enhances “waning moon” (欠月) weapons, moonshadow might simply be referring to the light of a crescent moon — the shadows on the lunar sphere changing the remaining light’s properties rather than their strength; in this case, demonstrating less raw power but adding a restorative MP effect. We see a similar concept with the moon grass, denoted by each lunar phase to mirror its different stages of maturity. Coincidence, or does this herb with its remarkable healing properties actually absorb moonlight instead of sunlight? Either way, what is the former if not the latter reflected off the moon?
Fragment of ore that reflects the light of the moon. Enhances straight swords, curved swords, axes, hammers, and the like.
Ore that endows weapons with a strong magic effect. Enhancing via moonlightstones becomes possible up to a maximum level of 5.
Fragment of ore that reflects the shadow of the moon. Enhances daggers, piercing swords, and the like.
Ore that endows weapons with a magic effect. Enhancing via moonshadowstones becomes possible up to a maximum level of 5.
Also, users of waning-moon weapons recover MP little by little via the magic power of moonshadow due to this stone.
In short, the sun emits souls through its rays, which then interact with whatever they touch to produce different magical effects. Light by extension serves as a medium for the soul and any expression of its power. Every spell emits some light when cast because it is a sign of souls affecting possibility. Naturally, this holds deeper implications for the relation between the two. Like souls, light makes it possible to comprehend the world by illuminating space. This would imply that light is a necessary precursor for souls to exist at all, thereby requiring that fire exist to light the world. Given its size, the fiery sun may even be the original medium by which God first gave living things their souls, imbuing them into all bodies bathing in the light during the day or night — perhaps even the Creator Himself. Regardless, we may be continuing to benefit from the sun’s magic in subtle ways, even if they seem completely mundane.
With all of this in mind, why would the Creator give men souls, especially souls large enough for higher level thinking? The only reason is because He wanted us to comprehend the world. Whether or not God is bound by the same principles as the universe He created, His acts imply a will, especially when it involves giving other things will. Therefore, the Creator alone could recognize what He had wrought originally, and what point is there in making something if you are the only one to enjoy it? This prompted God to give others the means to appreciate Creation, allowing them to enjoy the world along with Him. This doesn’t clarify why He chose to give souls to specifically living things, some more than others, but it does reveal the Creator’s love for this world and all things in it. And yet still He left a demon capable of destroying everything among them.
Dump the Dross
In simplest terms, a demon is a monster with the ability to rob living things of their souls. By devouring these souls, a demon amasses them within its body to form a particularly large soul. These “demon souls” naturally possess power incomparable to ordinary souls, and that power is likewise shaped by the body housing it, inheriting the demon’s traits — which we then use to derive certain weapons or spells reflecting its nature. Naturally, one might question how this differs from us, humans who take souls from those we slay and turn them into our power through the Maiden in Black. Indeed, the narrative does play with the idea about what really makes us human versus demon, our greed for souls included. And despite being loosely defined as beyond human for this, anything can become a demon, even a human as Freke notes. One need only obtain the power to absorb souls. But this is a supernatural ability to absorb souls from men while they still live, as demonstrated by the Old King Allant boss and the Soulsucker spell derived from the Maiden in Black’s demon soul. Humans do not possess this power by nature; they must be bestowed it by the Old One.
The demons stockpile the robbed souls within themselves. Those don’t compare to ordinary souls and probably possess unmistakable power beyond man.
So humans can become demons. Them being beyond man and all that, it’s no more than a baseless rule…
This “ancient beast” (古い獣) is the original demon placed upon the Earth, from which all other demons are born. Taking obvious inspiration from the ancient outer gods in the works of H.P. Lovecraft, the Old One looks like a nondescript abomination. Its gargantuan form is seemingly comprised of actual trees, rocks, and earth, twisted around solely to form a gaping “mouth” with which we enter like a cave. The birds flying alongside the beast imply that they nest within these trees, so it may well be that this body is actually parts of the land where it was first left and largely slept. In other words, this arboreal body may not in itself be the Old One. We find its soul enwreathed by the trees at the back of its proverbial throat, so it is possible that this “core” coalescing the soul is the actual demon and everything else was just made to protect it, similar to the Phalanx boss. If so, then it is understandable why no one even suggests slaying the monster; there is nothing tangible to kill. Indeed, both the cinematic and King Allant’s Japanese dialogue only describe the Old One as a poison, with doku (毒) having a lesser used meaning of “malice” — a different kind of thing which is harmful to man, but appropriate nonetheless.
According to the Monumental, the Old One is a bottomless “nothingness” which endlessly seeks souls to devour. In short, the beast is the embodiment of ill intent, defying all logic in order to single-mindedly destroy mankind mentally if not physically. Since it is apparently incapable of doing this itself, the old beast creates other demons to gather souls on its behalf. Expediting this process are the Archdemons who it appoints to lead the other demons. Each “demon chief” (デモンの長) commands the lesser demons in a particular area, typically their land of origin. The lesser demons then go off to harvest the souls from all living things in this territory. To help facilitate this, they often enslave the soul-starved humans now eager to collect souls themselves — truly, a cruel joke. Given that they the ones collect the souls that their underlings gather, Archdemons are generally the most powerful demons. However, they ultimately offer these souls to the ancient beast they serve, hence slaying them all forces the Old One to seek out new servants.
The Old Beast is a bottomless nothingness that continually produces demons, steals souls, and accumulates them within itself. We living things can’t possibly be compatible with it.
Then, please kill all the demons. The Beast without servants to supply it souls will seek a new servant and guide you itself.
Like its Creator, the Old One may not be bound by the same rules governing living things in this world, which likely also holds true for its demons. Despite the tremendous amount of souls it has amassed, the beast doesn’t exhibit particular intelligence. The hierarchical scheme to collecting souls is ultimately simple, and the demon is easily baited into taking us to its core, never considering that we might be attempting to put it to sleep rather than join its cause. The beast undeniably shares some link with the demons its creates, since it immediately cries for more once they are all gone. And even assuming that it didn’t know who exactly was slaying all of its demons, any being with a modicum of intellect — or at least sense of self-preservation — would be guarded against our convenient arrival. The Old One is undeniably conscious since it can be rendered unconscious, but what constitutes its simple mind must exist independent of the countless souls it harbors. The poison fulfills its singular goal in the most straightforward and efficient means possible, and that is that.
To that end, the Old One is presumably responsible for the deep fog which slowly spreads across the world according to the now defunct official Japanese website prologue from 2009. This thick, colorless mist the beast produces is seemingly impenetrable to outsiders by virtue of its gaseous state, in effect making it an ever-expanding wall blocking view and access. Anyone who does attempt to enter the fog normally disappears inside, never to return. This is unlikely to be because attempters had successfully breached the mist only to lose their option to return. Vallarfax later created a tear from the inside which everyone has gone in and out of since. At the very least, no one is willing to risk entering the fog from any other place, and there is not even a mention of finding someone who had entered before the tear came to be. They have been lost to the fog, and the fact that one can even create a fissure in an ostensible gas reveals just how peculiar the Old One’s mist really is. With the cut codex entries highlighting how the fog “glows” colorless light, it simply must be magic.
“Colorless” Thick Fog
Colorless-glowing fog that the demons gushed forth from. It covers places, causes loss of relations, and imprisons humans. Boletaria is just like a giant prison of fog.
The thick fog quietly seeped out of Boletaria, and nearly all of the northern lands have already disappeared within the thick fog. Mankind foresaw their slow destruction and despaired. Eventually, the thick fog will cover the entire world.
The lands engulfed by the fog look the same as they did before, even in the sky and on the horizon where one would expect to see a colorless blur blanketing our view. Instead, there is only the occasional misty distortion which we must pass through. But even so, this partitioned part of the world is undoubtedly its own dimension. As the fog diffuses across the world, the parts within and without becomes diffused as well. The Old One at the root is internally named the “Diffused One”, (拡散のモノ) while the demon Vanguards encountered near the edges are more accurately the “Diffused Vanguards”. (拡散の尖兵) As the fog spreads, so do these demons, hence they are the ancient beast’s vanguards — the fog essentially being an extension of their master. And it is because space within the fog itself is diffusing that we can occasionally see faint “spirits” of people from other “worlds”. Nothing clarifies whether these dispersed subdimensions are concurrent with each other or simply segregated by individual timespace, but they definitely exist since they are the primary reason for both summoning and invasions. Odd as these power are, they are appropriate for the medium.
Proof of a “demon slayer” who was permitted by the Keyman. When you die, lose your body, and become a soul body, you can use this and place a soul sign. (this item can only be used with a soul body)
A soul sign is transferred to another diffused world, and you are summoned from another world as a phantom. If you can help the summoner and defeat a demon, you regain your body and make a comeback.
Consider the nature of fog: it obscures and warps, clouding our perception of reality. If so, then what is the difference between real and imaginary? With the line between the conceptual and the material blurred, the space within the fog functions akin to a dreamscape with heightened possibility. Freke confirms that magic is stronger within the fog, probably because it is easier for the power of possibility to affect reality. And since feelings hold power, one’s mental or emotional state is probably involved in warping the forms of certain humans enveloped by it. Storm Ruler similarly confirms that the fog can restore a magic item’s long-lost power in a specific area because of the memories of souls present there. The fog energizes souls in ways that makes the supernatural all too natural.
As you already know, sorceries are soul arts. If the calamity of Boletaria, however, has vitalized souls and strengthened sorcery… maybe this is a calamity that should be preserved…
On that topic, souls of the dead can likewise regain their will and manifest as phantoms. These lingering ghosts seem to not be encountered in a normal setting, and so we can assume that they are products of external stimuli like the deep fog or the Nexus. We do come across various wisps of light circling above their corpses in line with the fog animating souls, with cut codex entries clarifying that this vitalization specifically allows strong souls to persist after death. And just as the soul can have a tangible effect on the world, so too can the spirit. In fact, a phantom mirrors the deceased’s physical form, including the weapons and attire they had when they died. These externalities are in fact perfect duplicates, as we can find Rydell’s unique Phosphorescent Pole snapped in half beside a corpse and still loot it from his black phantom — it becomes a physical item. Nothing is impossible for our souls, especially within the fog.
In Boletaria where souls have been vitalized, those who possess strong souls will not perish like that after death but stay in the world as a soul body. This soul form, in other words, is called a ghost.
Still, the bare soul is more vulnerable, hence our HP is halved as a phantom. Rydell also alludes to the spirit body degrading in the long-term until one simply disappears, and defeated black phantoms can lose soul level. The Crestfallen Warrior similarly reveals that remaining as a phantom eventually causes mental decay, losing memories until the spirit itself is reduced to just an ownerless soul lying around. While it thus makes sense for Rydell’s black phantom to net us a soul upon defeat, it is odd for a warrior who is supposedly bound to revive at the Nexus for eternity to just waste away. However, this Crestfallen Warrior won’t return after being slain either, so it is likely because he has lost heart that his soul lets go of maintaining this form. Indeed, normal spirits risk being “corrupted” by such negativity and becoming violent black phantoms consumed by malice, as demonstrated by Ostrava manifesting as one immediately after dying in his profound grief.
In short, a person has every reason to avoid soul form. Thankfully, one can return to life by reinhabiting their body. While it is possible for souls to inhabit their rotten remains as seen with the skeletons from the Shrine of Storms, true resurrection requires the corpse to still be fresh enough to return to functionality, the soul presumably healing whatever injuries the body suffered during this process. The Crestfallen Warrior’s cut dialogue indicates that this was originally going to be our means to regain our bodies as well. By interacting with our bloodstains, we would have retrieved it along with the soul currency we left behind, so long as we didn’t die again — our body apparently completely rotting by that point. But in the final game, we can only reconstitute our physical form by turning the spirit body into flesh with the power of Archstones left by bosses or dotting the lands in fragments. Once again, with souls revitalized by the fog, anything is possible.
Well, search for the bloodscript to the utmost and regain your body before it rots. If you die once more, you lose it all… All of whoever’s souls you acquired here.
The Old One therefore uses the fog to produce many of its demons. We encounter Primeval Demons when world tendency is at its bleakest. Gensei (原生) literally means “original life” or “birth” and thus is also used to refer to spontaneous generation and primitiveness. Such wordplay is thus likely supposed to convey how these “primeval” demons are newborn creations of the fog, explaining why they are likewise colorless. The Old One contributes some of its soul to manifest a primeval demon from the fog, and that helpless newborn will eventually be reshaped to mirror its basis. It doesn’t matter if it is based on some living thing, mere bones, inanimate object, or just the idea; if the demon can be conceived, the ancient beast can will it into corporeal form from this dimension. This explains why humans-turned-demons seem to gain immortality: even if they appear normal, demons’ bodies are fundamentally reconstituted from abstraction.
The demon’s soul is likewise morphed and “colored” by this experience, resulting in a new demon with dangerous power. The vanguards are the most basic, and so have desaturated grey souls, whereas more creative demons possess souls of yellow, red, or green. This strong association with life and revitalization is why Urbain can derive the Recovery, or more accurately “Great Recovery”, (大回復) miracle — a stronger version of Heal, or “Recovery” (回復) — from these colorless souls. Deriving Soulsucker from a demon soul also indicates that their defining abilities originate with their souls, likely stemming from the colorless soul — indeed, such uncolored souls are used to upgrade weapons forged with more advanced demon souls. Among these crucial abilities is the power to make their own demons, allowing the Old One’s forces to multiply without having to be directly involved in the process; this is probably why we find primeval demons spawning at black tendency, when the demons’ forces are at their strongest and most numerous.
But while the Fog can make the impossible possible and the nonexistent exist, the reverse is also true. As an extension of the Old One, the fog is nothingness made manifest. If you cannot confirm that something is real, then it effectively doesn’t exist. And with reality in flux, space without comprehension naturally disappears within the fog, ceasing to exist — perhaps the same fate which befalls those who entered the fog before the tear. As the Maiden in Black words it in Japanese dialogue, the world loses its “place to go” without “possibility” granting it a foundation to support continued existence. The cut codex entries reaffirm that fog causes the places and people trapped in it to lose “relations” that souls enable. In other words, the only thing keeping the enveloped lands bound to reality are the souls observing it. And so, the demons devour those souls. Everything and everyone must be soul-starved. The Old One is nothing more than a glorified trash bin for God to destroy the souls he gifted and all of Creation with them; the only question is why.
Thus, living things robbed of it hunger for thought, and a world which has lost comprehension is swallowed in the thick fog and disappears.
Draw the Line
According to the legend referenced in its description, the Northern Regalia is a magic weapon left along with the Old One, implying that the Creator is responsible for producing it as well. Although the localization claims this was done for malicious purposes, the Japanese text is far more neutral in its wording, stating that they were place upon the world “due to malice”. With this in mind, are we really to believe that the deity who gave men souls to appreciate the world was so fickle that he would wish them ill the very next day? Certainly not with what he left behind. The Northern Regalia is actually comprised of two swords: Demonbrandt and Soulbrandt. The Old Norse “brandt” means “sword”, making each sword named for the enemy it was designed to cut. If God really wanted humans to suffer as He destroyed their lands they called home, why would He also present them with the means to resist this fate? Providing a demon-slaying blade doesn’t indicate malice. Rather, the duality to the regalia holds different implications for the Creator’s intentions.
Old proof of the Boletaria kings. The image of this sword is Soulbrandt as well as Demonbrandt.
Much of its origin isn’t told even in the Boletaria Royal Family’s legends, but it is regarded as having been left in the world due to malice, along with the Old Beast.
Demonbrandt gains power the farther its wielder’s soul is from a demon, whereas Soulbrandt benefits from said soul being closer to one. This isn’t necessarily in reference to actual demons, however, since we are always human while wielding either blade. Instead, the power scaling depends upon our personal character tendency reflecting our morality, which are defined in the descriptions for the Friend’s and Foe’s Rings. The localization waters it down to “comradery” and “treachery”, but we are actually choosing between a “human” and “beast” relationship, the latter obviously reference the ancient beast and its ilk. The former correlates to offering aid as summoned phantoms and defeating black phantoms, and the latter correlates to killing others without provocation and invading as a black phantom to steal people’s souls. In other words, “humans” help themselves along with others while “demons” help themselves at the expense of others. There are two blades, and two choices. One falls under the strictures of good; the other, evil. And humans have the will to elect their path.
Mysterious blue ring entrusted by the Keyman. Raises attack power when becoming a phantom.
This mysterious ring supports a “human relationship” that not only helps warriors of other worlds but also helps oneself. That is the wish of she who is the last Keyman. There is apparently a Foe’s Ring that has become its counterpart.
Mysterious dark red ring that Mephistopheles handed over. Raises attack power when becoming a black phantom.
This mysterious ring supports a “beast relationship” that considers provisions for oneself by attacking warriors of other worlds. There is apparently a Friend’s Ring that has become its counterpart.
With that, the Creator’s intentions are plainly obvious. He didn’t fashion the Old One and the Northern Regalia out of malicious intent, but in reaction to human malice. As the Monumental and Yuria express, souls are for thought, not magic. No matter how practical, how convenient, the soul arts are the works of demons, not men. Mankind was never intended to use its power to comprehend Creation to redefine it. But humans were undeniably granted the power of God, in more ways than one, and would enjoy the power they could wield. So, in order to further approach the divine, they would seek more souls. And where would they find them in the most abundance except from themselves? In short, humans turned on each other in a greedy quest for power. By their own free will, man had abused God’s gift to wish harm upon Creation, and in only one day. The Creator responded in kind.
Something which is God handed down souls not for sorcery, but for man’s thoughts. Sorcery should be taboo. They’re not arts that save man or the like… After entering Boletaria, I think that.
If the Beast is sealed, the soul arts shall be lost. The soul, being within us by nature, quietly becomes the provisions for thought. Please never forget. The practical form full of the power that you currently know are the works of demons, which are quite different from the soul’s essence.
The deity indeed planted a poison which brings man harm, but this demon ultimately needed to be awakened by humans; the Old One would have slumbered for all eternity if left undisturbed. And with the Northern Regalia left along with it, man was silently offered two paths: be human and enjoy the world as it exists, or be demons and pervert the world against the Creator’s will. If humans choose to be beasts, then they will inevitably dare to wake the sleeping giant in their lust for power and thereby bring about their own destruction — deprived of the power they cherish by the very embodiments of what they have become. To help them combat the temptation, He also implicitly left dark silver, the world’s oldest metal which resists magic and thus human malice. By that same notion, He gifted humans with the power of luck, guaranteeing them a chance to avoid misfortune. These are not the actions of malicious force. God defined good and evil, and man was given the thoughts to contemplate them and the will to ultimately decide between them, with serious consequences for still choosing to be wicked.
Shield of dark silver handed down to Vinlands.
Dark silver, which is known as the oldest metal, is said to exorcise dark malice, and it protects the user from every magic.
Although giving men souls and leaving these warning with consequence supposedly take place on two separate days at the very start, Japanese subtitles for the cinematic instead state them to be concurrent with each other, making no mention of days to the beginning. Since we cannot date these subtitle prior to the game’s remake by Bluepoint Games, it is possible that they are the product of Japanese localization for the American-based remake. At the same time, the Japanese localization is fairly conservative with the uniquely English text, so it is odd to see the Old One be described as a “malicious, lethal” poison versus just an “irrevocable” one — especially when the former seems more accurate. If the notion of the “first days” referencing the Biblical account for the world’s creation was a liberty taken by the English localization, then it only changes one thing: the Creator had the foresight to know how humans might abuse His gift and so setup the poison with warning from the very beginning. Naturally, humans ignored that warning and have thus far caused two demon calamities, which I will refer to as the First or Second Scourge for the sake of simplicity.
In the beginning, God gave man a soul, and thus comprehension of the world, and with it left a malicious, lethal poison, a demon that devours souls.
Examining the pattern between each area, the history of the game’s setting can be divided into the Mythic, Classical, and Medieval Eras. The first is an age of legendary heroes who could perform feats truly beyond man, whether it be punching out dragons or rending the skies. This period is analogous to when superhumans are believed to have walked the Earth in various mythologies — great men like Heracles, Theseus, and Odysseus, to use the Greek example. And much like these mythologies, this era of heroes is marked by a sharp decline in the supernatural for the succeeding cultures. With stories of such heroes passed down the generations, it is no surprise that these later peoples continued to pursue the soul arts. Each recognized the power of the soul as divine, but in different ways, and with none believing in the singular God as described earlier. Still, incorporating the soul arts into their individual pagan religions led to flourishing societies all around, even if seeming to never reach the same heights as the heroes of old. This period is similarly analogous to our own Classical age with its various pagan faiths and more casual relationship with magic.
Following the First Scourge, magic saw an even sharper decline despite it being so central to those cultures up until then. At best, these civilizations purged their magical elements. Key buildings related to the soul arts were abandoned or buried, and many pagan religions simply died out — no one wanted to be part of a religion connected to the arts which nearly ended in an apocalypse. At worst, entire civilizations faced revolution or total collapse. Currently, barbaric tribes exist in various lands, but they all apparently immediately avoid items like the Ring of Magical Nature remembered in legend no matter what, neglecting both the intelligence and faith of their pagan days if our potential barbarian background is any indication. However, the world at large had forgotten about the soul arts until recent years, so barbarians’ aversion to magic implies that all the tribes had been passing down memory of it as a warning for generations. In that case, these primitives had likely been part of more advanced societies which fell to so-called savagery after the soul arts fell out of favor. This would explain why they lack intelligence despite possessing decent magic power: the descendants still remember to avoid the intellectual arts which had almost doomed their ancestors.
Cold ring. Increases magic you can memorize.
There is a legend saying cursed witches are born possessing it, and it becomes an object of strong evasion at barbaric lands and the like.
The days of pagans with their arcane ways was history, and the world entered an era largely devoid of magic, reminiscent of medieval Europe. Feudal kingdoms with their kings and nobles and knights and priests of a new monotheistic faith became the norm. Magic continued to exist in small pockets, but its connection in the soul arts was entirely forgotten. In fact, the website prologue reveals that the very existence of the soul was considered new information when they were ultimately rediscovered in this Medieval Era. This is especially impressive considering that this age of knights is only a few centuries old. The Japanese text for two of the Shrine of Storms Archstones affirm that the pagan faith present there had died out specifically several hundred years ago in its Japanese text, dating the end of the First Scourge and the loss of such magic to that period. Man was so quick to forget its inconvenient past, only to end up repeating it within the course of maybe three centuries or so. And no sooner did they forget to heed the Creator’s warning offered from the very start.