Magic Kingdom

The Lost Bastille is home to a number of prisoners, but none are more chatty than Straid, a sorcerer from the ruined nation of Olaphis. Although now a “forgotten prison”, (忘却の牢) this facility was once a castle, apparently the seat of government for this land. Based on Straid’s dialogue, this government was the one responsible for converting this castle into a jail originally, long before the land was dubbed Drangleic. In that case, we can learn much about Olaphis from what it left behind there. This old country was incredibly advanced, inventing excessively complex weapons like the Helix Halberd. Furthermore, its culture was heavily based around sorcery as evidenced by the Staff of Wisdom, another advanced technology which serves exclusively as a sorcery catalyst. The Southern and Northern Ritual Bands reaffirm this point. Both magic rings can be found in different parts of the larger castle, and their descriptions note that they were things Aldia “reproduced”. In short, the rings we acquire at the Lost Bastille are most likely the original products, made in Olaphis.

Staff of the destroyed country of old, Olaphis. Since it is a catalyst dedicated to sorcery, hexes are unusable.

The crystal of the staff head has an effect which greatly amplifies the might of arts.

Since it was originally made using advanced technology, the crystal that was polished via great magic power further increased its efficacy over time.

Halberd possessing a spiral-shaped handle and strangely shaped twin blades. Such a spear that had been prepared possesses a complex structure that can be called excessive.

Its origin is unknown, but it is said to be something created from the wisdom of the destroyed country Olaphis.

As to why a magic nation founded its capital on this particular corner of the continent, relics of the Old World are likely to blame. One of the larger chambers in the bastille collects a broad assortment of items, some stored in chests and even hidden behind false walls. By all indications, this is a storage room. And among the items left to rot in storage, we find pots exclusive to Anor Londo in the original Dark Souls. (DS1) Indeed, the Heiden ruins and the Lost Bastille are practically next to each other on the official map for Drangleic, so it is feasible for remnants of the divine capital to have encompassed a larger area than the limits of Heide’s Tower of Flame would suggest. In fact, after Heide’s watery destruction, this coastal area might be the only spot where pieces of the original capital had survived. It reasonable then for later peoples to settle there when trying to study the history of their predecessor and ultimately build upon it. And the founders of Olaphis didn’t find just any piece of the gods’ ruined homeland.

Despite the filth from years of neglect, one of the statues in storage is clearly the same that lined the passage to Anor Londo’s archives in DS1. In other words, the part of the divine capital uncovered there seems to have included remnants of the gods’ library, which Seath had taken over until the Chosen Undead slew him during the previous game’s events. This is reinforced by the presence of a “moonlit butterfly”. (月下蝶) The name plus rumor of the creature being a product of magic rather than natural birth are obvious references to the moonlight butterflies from DS1. And while the rumor itself may be false, it is still possible for this game’s butterflies to be connected to Seath’s creations, as distant descendants if nothing else. They supposedly only appear under the full moon during winter, a desire to bask in moonlight much like the one butterfly encountered as a boss in DS1. The Japanese description for Freja’s soul confirms that Seath’s works are scattered across the land, Tseldora being one example according to the original iteration from before the big fix. And there we find yet another butterfly.

Cap made from the plumage of the rare moonlit butterfly. Poisons those who approach.

The moonlit butterfly that only appears on winter nights with the full moon doesn’t have its entire ecology known, and no one has seen its larva.

One rumor says that it is a creature tinged with the power of magic.

Soul of the Duke’s Freydia that is the crawler’s watchman.

The crawler is an Old One who scattered its works in this land. Jeldora is also called the land where the works dwell, and it is said that those who stopped there were transformed into forms grotesque.

The special soul this watchman possesses is used to acquire a vast amount of souls or create a great power.

If the founder of sorcery’s works were among the remnants of Anor Londo’s library at the Bastille, then Olaphis had every incentive to develop in that direction, and their technological advancement proves that this magical fixation paid dividends. It seems that the country even sought out more places connected to Seath to further their understanding of sorcery. Tseldora is home to vast deposits of brightstone. Aside from being an obvious reference to the magical augites of Demon’s Souls, the glowing white crystals also bring to mind twinkling titanite and magic crystals associated with Seath. The description for the Tseldora robe does imply them to be fragments of the paledrake, meaning that they are most likely his artificial crystals infused with the magic power of souls — perhaps vestiges of the Crystal Cave he created in the garden behind his archives. And Olaphis had been mining these crystals.

Robe that citizens of Jeldora wore. It is pricey but not suited for battle, and it has a low defense effect.

The brightstone that brought prosperity to Jeldora aroused the citizens’ desire and ultimately brought about their ruin. Was its beautiful, bewitching radiance a fragment of someone who wanders the bottom of the land?

It is the crystal at the head of the Staff of Wisdom which amplifies the power of whatever sorcery it casts; Olaphis simply mastered the art of polishing this crystal with additional magic to enhance the effect. Fitting then that we find another staff secured in a Tseldoran mimic, implying that the magic nation had a presence there at one point. We can likewise acquire another southern ritual band from in town, reinforcing the implication. As the final nail in the coffin, there is the Dispelling Ring and Ring of Resistance. Each ring is designed to counter either all magical elements or every status ailment, but they both make use of four different-colored “brightstones”, (輝石) not just “gems” or “gemstones” like the English descriptions claim. These rings are powered by the crystals mined in Tseldora, but their description confirms that they were solely created by a sorcerer of Olaphis, namely Straid.

Ring of protection that was embedded with four-colored brightstones. Boosts defense power to magic, fire, lightning, and dark.

A masterpiece created with preeminent arts that is said to harmonize the power of four brightstones which possess different effects in one.

It is said that only a sorcerer who was in the destroyed country of old Olaphis had accomplished that.

Ring of protection that was supplied with four blessed brightstones. Boosts resistance to poison, bleeding, petrification, and curse.

A masterpiece created at the destroyed country of old Olaphis.

It’s said that the sorcerer who made this art gradually became a subject of fear because of his excellent power.

Dressed in all black, Straid introduces himself as a wandering sorcerer who was once known far and wide. This is because he was a magical genius with a wealth of knowledge. It doesn’t matter if it is miracle, sorcery, hex, or pyromancy; the man has learned all manner of magical arts, every sorcery and pyromancy if the description for Lingering Flame is to be believed. Even if that is an overstatement, it is true that he has mastered a wide array of magic, some of which remains obscure to this day. For instance, he refined Soul Bolt so that the sorcery would no longer rebound on its caster as it had in the past. And with such a talent for spellcraft, the sorcerer unsurprisingly put that wisdom to use inventing new and impressive magic spells or tools, such as a homing version of Soul Arrow or the Ring of Knowledge now fashioned by Volgen priests. He is especially able in deriving stronger weapons or spells from powerful souls, prompting his insatiable lust for more. There are limits to his ability. He acknowledges, for example, his own uncertainty with regards to the history of pyromancy’s founders. But his knowledge was still vast enough to warrant Olaphis’ invitation.

One of the pyromancies created by Straid, great sorcerer of the country of old Olaphis. Fires a stationary ball of fire, and it explodes if an enemy approaches.

Straid was well-versed in every sorcery and pyromancy. He was an unusually talented sorcerer, but never stayed in one place due to his curious behavior.

Never passing on an opportunity, Straid accepted the chance to pursue his work in what was probably the most advanced magic nation at the time, adopting one of its Staffs of Wisdom as his magic catalyst. And as the brightstone rings demonstrate, he made huge contributions to Olaphis culture. However, those masterpieces didn’t seem to gain him any friends. Straid thinks that anyone feebler than him in magical ability or intellect is “deficient”; being a rare genius, this encompasses basically everyone. Such arrogance is to be expected for a man of his talents, but constantly talking up his own achievements while underselling others’ ability to handle his works only serves to push people away. In the end, Straid took on no apprentices as he immersed himself in studying magic’s greatest mysteries, and his relationships in Olaphis fared no better.

Cut dialogue and item descriptions state that Straid became a sworn friend with the country’s king Alavis, (アラヴィス) the two even slaying an archdragon together. Indeed, Straid does sell the Lingering Dragoncrest Ring, whose description acknowledges its use in a local country of older times — such as Olaphis — and how similar rings of indefinite origin — DS1’s Vinheim long forgotten — can be found among the many dragon-worshiping countries. Between these artifacts and Seath’s works, it is easy to imagine Olaphis religion also building around archdragons; considering them sacred beasts for the sorcerers to study and dissect, at least. The king bringing Straid to help slay one therefore wouldn’t be unusual if they were trusted companions.

Hood of the great sorcerer Straid.

Straid, who was a sworn friend of an old king from the old country Olaphis, defeated an archdragon with the king and acquired much knowledge and clairvoyance. But, that work creating unique sorceries couldn’t be controlled by even Olaphis, which was proud of its wisdom.

That country’s king Alavis feared the curse like a disease.

Ring said to have been used in a country that existed in the land of Drangleic long ago. Extends spell effect duration.

The dragons of old are treated as subjects of worship in many countries, so the rare thing with powers similar to this ring is reported in several regions. There is no way of knowing its definite origin at this point.

But this content makes no reference to Straid as a wanderer, instead suggesting that the dragon was the source of his great knowledge as well as clairvoyance. The man presented in-game has no interest in developing such longstanding relationships, nor the time to. His lifelong curiosity is what kept him from ever staying in one place for long. And although it makes sense for Olaphis to have a royal government like most other nations in the setting, the lord of the castle’s name is currently unknown, forgotten much like the castle itself. In all likelihood, removing any confirmation to King Alavis’ identity was the developers’ intention. Without any deep ties between Straid and the state, it is far easier to imagine Olaphis one day betraying him.

Paranoia Before the Fall

Eventually, Olaphis needed to wrestle with the problem of undeath. The government officials feared the curse like a disease and so thought that they could prevent its spread if they “contained” it. As a result, the castle became a prison for locking up whatever the state suspected to be the source of undeath. Straid indicates that this was an excuse for them to turn their eyes away from the problem, but if the goal was to lock them up out of sight, out of mind,  choosing the nation’s capital as the prison seems unwise. Perhaps the government hoped to keep a close eye on the afflicted for added peace of mind, or study the Undead for future reference. But if so, their efforts evidently failed to bear fruit. Undeath doesn’t spread like a disease, and it continues to manifest in humans to the present day. In the end, imprisoning people simply became a means for Olaphis to soothe its insecurities, sweeping any threats under the rug whether they be among the cursed or not; whatever they found disgusting or inconvenient to exist.

Key to the jail in the Forgotten Prison.

The master of a castle whose name is now unknown imprisoned anything and everything suspected to be the source of the curse in order to protect this land from the spreading curse.

The castle became a prison in its entirety and was eventually forgotten.

This land is the place where those who received a curse were sealed away. Being cursed ones, like you. Heheheh. Those of that country feared the curse like a disease. They then imprisoned them in this land in order to turn away their eyes. Detestable things, inconvenient things, things like that shouldn’t be seen. Seems like the thoughts of the deficient, no? Heheheh.

If anyone had a grasp of the situation, it was Straid. According to him, many countries existed in Drangleic even before Olaphis, meaning it was not the first to succeed Heide. From his studies, he apparently learned that these countries all flourished only to decline shortly after. The sorcerer compares the process to the way a flame flares up only to soon fade, indicating that all these countries had rather short histories — it would only take a century, at most, for Undead to start cropping up within a population. If not for the Old World culture inherited from the land, these countries would barely have time to build before the curse dragged them down. But in Straid’s allusion, the flame is revived, the next country replacing the last in a never-ending cycle akin to a curse. These similarities to curses and flames is why he jokes about Undead’s role in taking over fire, but it also reveals his awareness about undeath’s connection to the First Flame. In that case, he clearly didn’t care enough to clarify Olaphis’ misconceptions. Why would he? The sorcerer would be leaving the country soon enough, new curiosities bound to catch his attention. And this is precisely why Olaphis considered him dangerous.

It seems many countries have always existed in this land, even before that country. The country flourishes, but sooner or later declines. Like the flaring up and extinguishing of fire. It repeats again and again. However, the extinguished flame is eventually revived. And so, the country flourishes again, even though it has changed forms. It’s all a curse! Heheheh! It really is the cursed like you that assume the fire. Heheheh…

Imagine welcoming the greatest mind into your country, giving him access to some your deepest secrets on the promise that he would benefit your own nation. And now that person was perfectly willing to take that knowledge with him to another country, helping that nation to your detriment. Straid was a huge national security concern, someone with power that Olaphis couldn’t control and had every reason to fear. And this magic country had gotten into the habit of sealing away whatever it considered to be a threat. The sorcerer was therefore tricked and turned to stone, though the exact nature of this trap is never clarified. When we find his petrified body, he is standing at the entrance to a cell, presumably moved by someone in the years since. Perhaps the government told Straid about a special prisoner they captured and wanted him to study, using the sorcerer’s curiosity to lure him there before inflicting the curse. But however the officials managed it, they undeniably succeeded, surpassing even Straid’s expectations.

Completely black hood. Slightly increases spell casting speed. Personal effect of Straid of Olaphis.

Straid was valued for his myriad of knowledge and invited to the old country Olaphis, but his excellent power was instead feared and he was tricked into a foolish trap.

Those of that country always knew their own deficiency. So then, many were sent here and sealed away. Both the cursed and those that were not. If they didn’t erase everything that threatened them… they couldn’t sleep otherwise. Along these lines, they even turned I, Straid, to stone! Heheheh.

Despite this triumph over a prodigy, Olaphis had nothing to celebrate. The country was still plagued by undeath, and hiding all of its problems beneath their noses didn’t change the reality of the situation. The fact that they even kept these threats alive shows the country’s own indecisiveness over the subject. Obsessed with wisdom as it was, it is no surprise that the country defaulted to hoarding. What if they needed these people for something at some point? But all the knowledge in the world couldn’t save Olaphis. With such inability to cut a path forward for itself, it is no wonder that the country eventually collapsed. This has resulted in much of the knowledge it amassed being lost, especially from Straid. But even without disciples to carry on his legacy, some of it managed to survive. We can find the texts for his Flame Swathe and Lingering Flame spells in the possession of enemies encountered at the Lost Bastille, so some of his work had to still be laying around during the countless years he spent as stone. But without a functioning state, Olaphis as a whole faded from memory, in more ways than one.

Completely black robes. Grants resistance to sorcery. Personal effect of Straid of Olaphis.

Straid spent a long time as stone. In the meantime, many countries flourished and then perished. And then, this land became called Drangleig one day.

One of the pyromancies created by Straid, great sorcerer of the country of old Olaphis. Engulfs distant enemies in giant flame and burns them to ashes.

Much of the great sorcerer Straid’s wisdom was lost because he absolutely immersed himself in the world of arts without taking on any apprentices.

Aria to Demise

The Shrine of Amana is a curious area. Amana (甘菜) is a species of tulip known for its sweet and edible bulbs, so the land may be named for the bulbous, glowing blue flowers beautifully flourishing there. But regardless of the name’s origin, the flooded ruins have now become home to various Hollows, including the Amana priestesses. These priestesses are specifically miko, (巫女) which is most commonly translated as “shrine maidens” for their modern role in Shinto shrine services. But historically, miko were shamans associated with sorcery and divination, which is likely the inspiration behind these Amana priestesses casting sorceries instead of miracles. At the same time, the description for their magic staves confirm their original use for religious purposes, not battle. They likewise carry holy water urns and dragon charms, reaffirming their spiritual ties. But perhaps more emblematic of this blend between faith and reason are the crimson waters in their possession.

This red water is a stronger version of rouge water, which restores physical health as well as mental focus for spellcasting. The only difference between the two is that the less potent water is “crimson-colored” (紅色) while the other is “true crimson” (真紅) in reference to its deeper hue, making it presumably a more concentrated solution. Due to this fact alone, both are used by various different sorcerers throughout history. And yet, some people at certain points in time have also considered such red water to be holy. In that case, sorcerer priestesses carrying it is no accident. Sorcery is a core part of Amana religion, the Dark Souls II Collector’s Edition Guide confirming that the priestesses consider magic sacred. Even so, the dragon charms — not to mention dragon insignias on their belts — indicate that their faith branches off from Shulva and Lindelt, which would explain their choice to reside in Heiden ruins. But did these priestesses invent this religion all on their own, or was it inherited from another culture, namely Olaphis?

Water possessing a crimson color of unknown origin. Recovers HP and number of spell uses.

Although said to be holy red water, what is it that makes it holy? Needless to say, it varies between each person and time.

Water possessing a crimson color of unknown origin. Greatly recovers HP and number of spell uses.

Red water that carries a faint radiance exhibits undeniable power, whatever its origin. For many, the factuality of that is enough.

The Helix Halberd is only acquired in a secret room at the Shrine of Amana, confirming that the magic nation kept a presence this far north. What happened to these faraway people after the rest of the country collapsed then? Without support from the state, would they not degenerate into simple tribes trying to survive in this hinterland, carrying on fragmented elements of their culture? We definitely find lesser crimson water at the Lost Bastille, some of which Straid sells. And although dressed in shamanistic robes ornamented with tree branches, the priestesses cast Homing Soul arrow, one of Straid’s works. Their staves likewise include a crystal at the tip, similar to the Staff of Wisdom — or perhaps that glowing white mineral is the twinkling titanite they carry. Taken together, the priestesses were most likely the last bastion of Olaphis religion, which seems to have infused the standard faith with their magic ethos. But if so, then the years spent in isolated obscurity had undoubtedly distorted it.

At a glance, the Demon of Song resembles a giant frog that would be native to the watery environment we encounter it in. However, the grotesque face and arms the creature hides beneath its “mouth” flaps earns it the “demon” label. If it is an ordinary species, then the monster probably adapted this innocent-looking exterior so as to lure prey into a false sense of security, similar to the basilisks’ fake eyes. The poison-spotted whip derived from its soul reinforce the implication, as the demon can’t actually inflict poison; the effect simply represents the danger this otherwise unassuming creature poses, something easy to recognize for anyone paying attention. The Amana priestesses certainly were, for they sealed the creature in an altar through some form of magic rituals. Considering that the entire area is the “Altar of Amana”, (アマナの祭壇) this might not be anywhere specific. If the priestesses thought that the Heiden ruins were sacred, then the whole place could be considered a kind of ritual platform. And based on the creature’s size, there is nothing else in the area we explore even close to matching the description.

Whip born from the soul of the Singing Demon. Has a poisonous spot pattern on it and, as you can see, possesses a poison effect.

The beautiful voice that isn’t appropriate for its ugly appearance is probably for attracting and eating man.

Either way, they evidently needed to regularly perform the ceremonies to maintain the seal. But rather than kill this local menace, the priestesses instead chose to worship it, most likely out of actual fear of its strength. Perhaps they had hoped that a higher power would save them from their precarious situation, but it was to no avail. Women alone can’t sustain a population, and there apparently weren’t enough, if any, men to keep the line of priestesses from dying out over time. The only “survivors” left are Undead who have since hollowed, none of whom inherited knowledge of their sacred sealing rituals. As a result, the demon eventually broke free of the seal, using its newfound liberty to learn how to sing with a beautiful voice by seemingly copying the Milfanito as their songs resounded throughout the area. Much like hiding its ugly appearance, this beautiful singing served to attract prey to devour, specifically humans. This is because the “singing demon” (唄うデーモン) had previously “learned” to eat man. Where did it learn this taste for human flesh? Probably from the same people who sealed it away.

Staff used by shrine maidens of Amana. Originally it had religious uses instead of battle. Becomes a catalyst for sorceries and hexes.

A fiend was sealed in the altar but the ceremony was eventually lost. The fiend that was released gained wisdom and learned a song that lured humans.

The description for the demon’s soul notes that the worshipers also “appeased” it, but how does one appease a creature imprisoned with magic? By feeding it in captivity. In other words, the priestesses began offering up human sacrifices in order to keep the beast alive and happy. Perhaps they had always relied on this practice, in which case it likely contributed to their decline. Otherwise, they may have only resorted to this tactic after losing the sealing rituals, a desperate attempt to keep the beast under their control before it actually broke free. Indeed, these events mirror classic Japanese tales of evil spirits being sealed away in shrine altars and subsequently deified, often appeased with human sacrifices after the fearful locals lost the abilities of the original sealers. Whatever the case, the remaining Hollows still haven’t abandoned the practice.

Soul of the Singing Demon at the Altar of Amana.

The fiend that learned to eat man was sealed within the altar, but the ones who worshiped and appeased it have died out.

The special soul this demon possesses is used to acquire a vast amount of souls or create a great power.

The one Milfanito encountered outside the demon’s boss room was captured presumably by these same priestesses, who haven’t treated her well going by her filthy, raggedy state. This along with her proximity to the boss indicates that they intended to offer her up as another sacrifice for appeasing the demon, meaning that this is likely the fate of all trespassers they detain. If so, then the last surviving element of Olaphis’ advanced culture is sheer barbarism, the rest eventually forgotten in its entirety by the time we come across it. This isn’t an unwelcome development for Straid. After spending all these years stuck as stone, he is more than happy to hear that no one speaks of Olaphis in the current era. For a man so obsessed with knowledge, he can probably think of no better perdition than being forgotten.