The first scholar of Lothric is mentioned in only one item description, but this one reference is all we need to confirm his identity. Soul Stream is a peculiar sorcery to acquire at the Grand Archives. That is because this “Soul Torrent” (ソウルの奔流) is the same name used for Soul Geyser from Dark Souls II. (DS2) While they each possess different gifs and effects, these differences can be attributed to the particular context each sorcery is found in. After all, Soul Geyser was a heretical spell, one which didn’t just fire a large torrent of souls but actually pursued the target until the soulmass overwhelmed any defenses. And as Logan and his own homing soulmass demonstrate, the world recognizes how such magic mimics the effects of Dark magic. Any man who would create such a spell was at the very least dangerously close to falling off the path laid out by the gods, making them an enemy to all pious societies.
Lothric’s first scholar imparted Soul Stream at the “beginning” of both the kingdom and its Grand Archives, presumably to subsequent wise men — hence why we collect the spell text from one wax-headed scholar found dead in his chair, apparently killed mid-reading. However, this pillar of reason had been expected to meet a high standard of piety, enforced by the sword, out of fear that it would fall into heresy in the pursuit of knowledge. It would certainly not take kindly to their first scholar teaching the original “Soul Torrent” to the rest. Therefore, the spell had to be stripped of its pursuing qualities and taught as just an ordinary if powerful sorcery. This implicit self-censorship also means that the first scholar must have been fully aware of the true nature of what he was teaching. And that begs the question, where did the scholar learn this art? Who was this wise man before he became Lothric’s wise man?
Sorcery that the first wise man is considered to have imparted at the beginning of Lothric and the Great Archives.
Fires a tremendous torrent of souls.
It is said that the first wise man was a firelinking skeptic and also secretly the prince’s teacher.
Soul Geyser was originally a spell of Aldia’s invention, left behind at his remote mansion when he transcended his mortal coil. In that case, the first scholar of Lothric’s deep familiarity with such a sorcery is immediately suspect. Moreover, the description for Soul Stream reveals that the first scholar was a skeptic of firelinking, the very ritual Lothric prided itself on preserving. In DS2, Aldia tried dissuading the Bearer of the Curse from pursuing the First Flame, aware that this firelinking system was a meaningless tradition preserving the gods’ deceit. This aligned the researcher with proponents for the Age of Dark, making the first scholar’s like-minded skepticism even more suspect. However, Aldia differed from Dark adherents in one key way. The sorcerer wanted to prevent the Bearer of the Curse from not only keeping the First Flame alive, but also snuffing it out. He was a fence-sitter, unable to ignore reality yet unwilling to relinquish the lie. He wanted the benefits of both worlds without the downsides of either, and the first scholar’s actions reflect this sentiment.
Soul Stream’s Japanese description purports the first scholar to have “secretly” been Prince Lothric’s teacher. He wasn’t his official private tutor, but someone who had gone behind the backs of the church and state to educate the royal. And having been subjected to many abuses on account of Lothric’s firelinking tradition, the prince was unsurprisingly very receptive to the scholar’s skepticism toward the whole process. In the end, Prince Lothric refused to link the fire while also making no effort to put it out, the exact conclusion Aldia sought from the Bearer of the Curse in DS2. Put another way, Aldia’s ideal scenario for a world left to straddle the twilight between light and Dark in anarchy is the entire premise for Dark Souls III, a fact which cut content only further emphasizes. Of course, these parallels between the two can be evidence of the first scholar being an adherent of Aldia, but this ignores one crucial factor concerning the wise man: age.
The scholars were established during the foundation of Lothric, yet its first scholar was advising its last in generations of royals. To have survived the centuries, the first scholar couldn’t have been an ordinary human. Indeed, among the statues adorning Lothric Castle, the one representing the scholars depicts a robed man holding out an open tome, his body a mess of what appears to be tree roots or branches. This tree-like form brings to mind the form Aldia takes in DS2, and it would certainly make sense for a statue of the scholars to portray its primary member. The statues’ setup as we approach Prince Lothric’s chamber highlight the implication. As we cross the preceding bridge, we pass countless — mostly broken — statues of the king and High Priestess before reaching a building covered in untouched statues of this scholar. There can be no better symbolism of the prince’s mindset. He has heard the word of Aldia and no longer heeds the wills of his father or wet nurse.
If Aldia is the first scholar, then his presence at Lothric’s foundation and motives for joining the new kingdom are transparent. Since the grotesque researcher was meandering around Drangleic for countless years even before the events of DS2, it would be no surprise if the later drift brought him over to Lothric along with parts of the continent. Once he realized what happened, his first goal would be making sure the locals wouldn’t interfere with the First Flame’s current course. But by the time he came across Lothric’s founders, they were apparently already uniting around an image of serving the gods, especially through firelinking. Aldia had lost his chance to nip this ideology in the bud, and trying to tear it out from the roots would be unwise; things go sour and it would be him versus an army. So instead, he presented himself as a wise man of incredible knowledge and power, his physical form and sorceries serving as proof of his credentials. So long as he didn’t reveal the more heretical aspects to such strength and wisdom, the religious authorities would have no reason to object to his subsequent offer to serve the royalty.
By doing so, Aldia positioned himself as someone that the Lothric Royal Family couldn’t just ignore. After rallying the people in a war against wyverns, they would recognize the value of a powerful asset and the threat it posed if left to fall into enemy hands. Even if the royalty thought it too good to be true, how could they just turn a cooperative sage away? And if he was dangerous, better to keep him close by, under their thumb. It was the perfect play. Aldia was welcomed as a national researcher and tutor, teaching others his techniques and archiving all their discoveries in a new great library for the kingdom’s benefit. He now led one of the three major factions supporting the royals, and he had time on his side. Generations would come and go through Lothric history, but its first scholar would remain a constant. Aldia may not have been able to prevent Lothric’s firelinking system from coming to pass, but he could most certainly derail it from the inside. He just needed to await the opportunity — or perhaps engineer it.
Who decided to welcome the Crystal Sages into the Grand Archives and allow them to covertly spread their heresy amongst their number? Who shared that knowledge with their King in his hour of need? Who continued to feed his obsession even as he descended into madness? It always had to be the wise man who predated all others, the one representing the rest. How convenient then that these circumstances put Prince Lothric in the mentally and emotionally vulnerable state needed for Aldia to influence him. One has to wonder if it was all part of a larger plan decades in the making. After all, if anyone knew each royal’s psychology and how to best manipulate it, it would be the longtime people-watcher observing them their entire lives. Fracturing the royal family may have thus been by design. And with his success, Aldia has since exited the stage, nowhere to be found. Perhaps he is simply observing his hypothesized solution unfold, or perhaps he has already seen enough of the consequences and simply left. Whatever the case, he meddles no further as we journey to clean up his mess.