Lothric Slaves

The slaves kept by Lothric Castle are consistently called “petty”, (卑小) a trifling bunch keeping their scrawny forms close to the ground below the notice of their masters; with how they comport themselves, you would be forgiven for not noticing that they match our size at their full height. Armed mainly with slipshod hatchets, speed is their only credit to fame, and even this nimbleness was perhaps learned as a means to get by without catching any attention. They clearly aren’t treated well — malnourished, unkempt, and ragged as they are — and definitely don’t want to be treated worse. Their habits are thus thanks to harsh masters. They are pathetic in every sense, certainly not a “cunning” lot with cunning weapons as the localization would suggest. Regardless, the castle’s hooded thralls have been exported to wherever manpower is needed by Lothric and its allies alike. One has to then wonder where the northern state procured so much forced labor.

Small hand axe. Thing that slaves of Lothric use.

Petty persons also have petty weapons, but they are thus also nimble, dangerous weapons.

Although all of the thralls we encounter are Hollows, they are likely for the most part “survivors” of the death and chaos plaguing the land, just like other Hollows we face. Even if Lothric did cooperate with the cursed for firelinking, keeping them amongst the general populace, even in chains, was a risk most human societies would be too afraid to make. In that case, they may just be prisoners of war. Several slaves wield warpicks and flamberges, suggesting some degree of military training. That none are women likewise fits with typically male-dominated armies. But while a northern country of knights enslaving war captives would add just one more parallel between Lothric and Demon’s SoulsBoletaria, the kingdom’s days of conquest are supposedly long behind it. And yet, we undoubtedly do see signs of present-day conflict.

The fallen knight set belongs to an order scattering after being routed in battle. The black iron armor bears gold engravings indicative of the order’s prestige; the tattered cloak and wrappings covering it, their ignoble current state. Who then drove them to commit such dishonor? We see that some, in the mad scatter, ended up in the forest of Farron at Lothric’s foot. This implies that their defeat occurred somewhere within the kingdom’s vicinity. Moreover, their armor’s particular efficacy against fire suggests that they expected as much from their opponent. In that case, the Lothric Knights with their fire-breathing steeds are their most likely opponents — what better to make trained knights flee in dishonor than a pack of dragons? Even then, we would expect elite warriors to put up a fight before deserting, and that looks to be the case.

Helmet of a dishonorable fugitive order of knights. Probably went astray in scattering and died a dog’s death.

That which was concealed in a slightly dirtied and tattered cloth hood is a solid thing of black iron effective against the likes of fire, and you can also see a gold engraving design that brings to mind before.

If we choose a mercenary as our background, we possess the wooden shield bearing the distinctive image of a white dragon — currently used by Lothric soldiers — despite dual wielding scimitars. This suggests that Lothric has been hiring and equipping sellswords, who come ready to travel on campaign and withstand any battlefront they are thrown on. Indeed, we can see that such sellswords meditated toward Archdragon Peak alongside Lothric knights and soldiers in Irithyll Dungeon. Their equipment can also be looted from corpses at the Farron Keep perimeter, indicating that mercenaries who didn’t stay fallen in battle have been trying to join the nearby Undead Legion there.

Helmet combining iron-made metal cap with coarse cloth. Thing that can withstand various battlefields and campaign travels.

It is in the light class for iron helms, so excels in balancing between cut rate and weight.

All of this implies Lothric to have been both at war and losing enough manpower to require outsiders to compensate, at least in more recent times before the current chaos. Frequent warring would inevitably chip away at the army, no matter how dominant the knights fared in individual battles. And the country technically only stopped indiscriminately invading surrounding stagnant lands. If a neighbor still threatened them, they would of course take action — and enslaving enemy combatants was historically the most common kind. In other words, the kingdom shamed and abused defeated foes, in the worst way it thought possible. This is why the cowardly knights remain on the run, knowing what fate awaits them if caught.

If Lothric is capturing and enslaving foreign soldiers, the same may be true for domestic prisoners, another historically common source for slaves. Aside from making the meager thralls easy to identify, their distinctive hood also serve to humiliate criminals, though only occasionally. This seems to be done for the soldiers’ entertainment. As Greirat demonstrates, not only is there space to seat a prison guard up front, but also a rest area next door, allowing soldiers to easily come and jeer at the helpless prisoner they force into wearing the hood when off-duty. However, if only slaves were to be paraded around the castle with proof of their lowly status, why would soldiers have spares on-hand? And if only certain criminals were worth such humiliating treatment, why not just make them thralls instead of wasting cell space? In short, the soldiers may have used the hoods to also mark criminals under consideration for slavery — as the bones in the corner of Greirat’s cell showcase, conditions didn’t support prolonged incarceration anyway.

Hood put on petty persons in Lothric. They are employed in various places as slaves.

Also, this hood is occasionally put on criminals. Simply for the sake of shaming and ridiculing those people.

Not every crime was punishable by enslavement, of course. Among our possible backgrounds is a thief, specifically one who turned to crime after deserting the army based on our armor’s description. And while the chest piece’s crest may have entirely faded, it is still clearly Lothric equipment. Therefore, the fact that a common soldier turned runaway thief only to end up buried at the Cemetery of Ash suggests that our initial firelinking attempt wasn’t a willing endeavor. In all likelihood, we were captured trying to get by whilst on the run, then forced into the firelinking system as a sacrifice. Given the military’s reverence for firelinking, this would be an honorable execution for one who had so disgraced the kingdom — who knows, he or she could always end up Lord of Cinder or unkindled ash. And with soldiers doubling as law enforcers, it is only natural for them to exempt their own from the ignoble fate of a slave.

Armor of a common soldier. The crest is already completely faded.

Its slightly dirty, rusted, and barely-held-together appearance is probably appropriate for those who have lost themselves to thievery.

The other prisoners not considered for slavery likely suffered a much worse fate. The shrine to the Firelink Shrine bonfire atop the city walls has an ominous setup. Candles surround the altar, with human bones discarded in the corner on either side. Overhead, statues of the angelic king extend an open hand as if addressing someone, some additionally bearing the banner of the knights embodying self-sacrifice. Underfoot is a grated hole, perfect for draining certain fluids poured on the spot. Taken together, human sacrifice was performed in tribute to the firelinking ritual, the “king” reminding victims to do their “sacred” duty before blood was spilled over the grate to minimize the cleanup. But who would be made to take part in this macabre ritual? Either rebellious slaves or civilian criminals condemned to death, those Lothric would consider worthy of only a faux firelinking. The soldiers’ “contribution” improved morale, and the prisoners’ sacrifice kept the cells spacious — the closest to the ritual site since decommissioned for transit. The absurdity of it all was added invigoration for one side, humiliation for the other.

But regardless of whether it was comprised of prisoners both foreign and domestic, Lothric still amassed many slaves by the time it collapsed. And with their masters all dead or gone mad by the time the kingdom drifted into the Dreg Heap, what Hollow thralls remained with their sanity intact apparently decided to finally make their escape. We find numerous ash-covered slaves, living and dead, among the ruins of Harvest Valley, which has just so happens to overlap with the remains of Lothric where we can find no such thralls. Even as the world creeps to its end, these Hollows wish to continue living, this time free. And in picking their poison, they were rewarded with meeting Zoey, a descendant of the Jugan desert pyromancers who resided in Earthen Peak in Dark Souls II. (DS2)

Evidently, Mytha’s flame-fanning servants remained in Harvest Valley following her death, presumably to take over the Queen’ mining operation and continue extracting the beautifying poison they had sought. And considering these women’s proclivities and time spent on a continent littered with Hollows, some birthing and raising children isn’t beyond the pale. Indeed, among the earthen tower and windmills responsible for pumping up the poison pools, we find a large amount of dilapidated houses. No such buildings were visible in the valley which Undead had endlessly slaved away in. This therefore hints to a settlement being established after the events of DS2, the perfect place for the desert pyromancers to raise families and pass down the trade.

Even so, the corpses with their clothes scattered around what remains of the valley in the Dreg Heap indicate that none of this lineage have survived the drift. The one exception is Zoey, whose name does derive from Greek to mean “life” funnily enough — especially since she uses an Undead Estus Flask. The young woman has inherited her maternal line’s flame arts and captivating beauty, with her immunity to poison possibly implying that her ancestors had figured out how to safely use the valley’s poison. But while the Japanese description for her revealing clothing reminds us that the sorcerers’ captivating beauty was itself “poisonous”, the text for her Flame Fan pyromancy notes that Zoey never poisoned hers, instead becoming the slaves’ Queen.

Hood of a pyromancer of the sands, former resident of the Earthen Tower. It is said that the thin, burgundy cloth is tinged with magic power.

Pyromancers of the sands are mostly women and known for their folding fans of flame and captivating physical appearance.

And captivation is at times poisonous, so this garment will very much increase it.

Pyromancy of Zoey, descendant of the pyromancers of the sands. Greatly brush the fan with fire.

It is aso a fan of fire brushed side left and right by using it continuously.

Zoey was beautiful, as were the pyromancers of the sands. However, she didn’t poison that beauty, and just became the modest queen of petty persons.

Perhaps the last sorcerer of the sands is truly such a beautiful person, or perhaps she was simply lonely; it is potentially even sympathy for these trifling beings’ plight — given Harvest Valley’s source for labor in DS2, her father may well have been a slave himself. Whatever the case, Zoey decided to gives these Hollows a home under her leadership. She wielded a whip not to punish them, but to defend them. For males who had possibly never been shown such kindness from any woman, much less one so attractive, the pyromancer must have been an enrapturing experience. Thus, the thralls have embraced their new Queen, picking up poison gems to be added to their weapons as seen in one case. A few even act as her escort; wielding red-hot blades, naturally. If their only purpose is to serve, then they can at least choose their own master.