Carim


A New Phase


Of all the surviving Old World nations, Carim has seen the most radical change. If Irithyll is the new Anor Londo, then Carim is the new Thorolund. With the sol land’s implicit collapse following Lloyd’s downfall, Carim is now the country of clergymen, and this is reflected in its face option. The Carim Novice is in actuality a “priest face of Carim”. (カリムの坊主顔) In other words, clerics are apparently so common there now that anyone looking to be from Carim is assumed to also be a priest, specifically of the Way of White. A braille tome filled with Carim scriptures includes the church’s high-level miracles, even featuring Gwyn on the cover. Likewise, Irina originates from Carim and dresses in the same traveling uniform as Way of White holy women in the original Dark Souls. (DS1) In fact, Carim clergywomen are famous as storytellers, memorizing tons of scripture to beautifully recite.

The country thus serves as a center for church culture and politics in the world of man, supplanting Thorolund in every way save for perhaps its militant orthodoxy. While miracles demanding immense faith like Great Heal still exist and remain exclusive to the most learned of clerics, Heal Aid demonstrates the Way of White’s tolerance for those with little faith by simplifying the standard healing spell. This grants even non-clergymen access to the power of the gods and their teachings, making it so that only the most skeptical of nonbelievers can’t take advantage of the church’s charity. This miracle didn’t exist in previous games, and reflects the Way of White’s shift away from its most stringent yet fundamental practice: demanding more faith from adherents in order to obtain exclusive boons.

On that note, the loss of Thorolund hasn’t heavily affected the church’s arsenal, with many of its old miracles still seeing use — including the Replenishment spell employed by Lloyd’s renowned cleric knights. Many of the former chief god’s magic tools have also been retained. Some have been stripped of his name, like his talismans, but others remain as they were. Lloyd’s Sword and Shield Rings still embody the two spheres his high priests once preserved in Thorolund, namely law and caste. It is only the practices themselves which have died out with his faith. No longer do the church’s knights fear Lloyd exercising his Sword of Law in duels of judgment, made brief by his talismans stripping them of the added magical protection he originally provided. No longer does rigid hierarchy determine your prospects in the faith, creating an untouchable elite class disconnected from their flock. Even the rings used by his high priests were simply repurposed for holy women in Carim. The only miracle lost was the Way of White Corona, which apparently disappeared along with Lloyd’s white aureoles — a humorous reference to the developers discarding the miracle synergies mechanic after DS1.

Tool that had been used in duels of judgement. Cancels all special effects within its effective range for a fixed time.

It is said that the judgement of Chief God Lloyd, who administered the sword of law, was left to a brief duel, and that Lloyd knights very much feared those.

Ring given to holy women of Carim. Increases memory slots.

In Carim, holy women are storytellers. They memorize many massive scriptures and recite them in a nice voice. In that respect, they are famous.

In many respects, the Way of White has reformed for the better, and this is no small part thanks to Carim turning over a new leaf. Among the curses sealed in the belly of the Undead Settlement’s Greatwood is Arstor’s Spear, a weapon of the Carim earl from DS1. While the spear’s description fails to elaborate on the man’s ultimate fate, it does illuminate the updated perception of him. He was always ill-rumored, but now he is known as the Impaler, or “Impale Lord”, (串刺し公) in reference to the similarly infamous Vlad Dracula, who bears the same historical moniker. One can only imagine the implications for his spear, which is enwreathed in a repulsive “vine” of rotten meat which, naturally, poisons the enemy before ultimately transferring some of the life power released upon death to the wielder; considering the earl’s other inventions, that cursed flesh may well be one of the spear’s victims. For the world, this leaves no doubt that all the rumors about him were true, hence manufacture of his ominous magic works has become taboo. Carim culture’s public silence on someone who was once so influential in its government demonstrates its own shift away from such heresy.

One of the curses stored in the belly of a great tree. The repulsive weapon of Impale Lord Alster.

The spear coiled with a vine of rotten meat carries strong toxicity as well as recovers HP when defeating enemies.

One of the bite rings handed down in Carim. Boosts death-by-curse resistance.

Sense something ominous in the malleable stone? Its method of manufacturing is said to be a taboo. Only clergymen will do it at their leisure.

This shift coincided with the appearance of the God of Tears, escorted by a man fittingly named Morne or Mourn. (モーン) Based on his later association with the Carim Knights, Morne was originally one of them. However, this empathetic warrior sought the power to comfort the weak — as the description for his ring implies, he found it in miracles. Caitha is known for shedding tears of compassion and mourning for others, and tales of the death and grief surrounding the goddess can cure status ailments and even briefly deny death. Through her, humans might still survive an early grave, or at least have the chance to say their goodbyes to loved ones before they expire. Such kindness moved Morne, convincing him to serve as her attendant and learn her holy magic, his “grotesque” rage unleashing an explosion of power matching Wrath of the Gods. He apparently also adopted armor fashioned to emulate similarly “grotesque” stone gargoyles, perhaps due to their association with warding off evil like curses. He would be her defender, her faithful knight, the one person whom this tragic goddess could rely on.

Grotesque helmet given to knights of Carim.

It is modeled on the Archbishop’s apostle, Morne, and the helmet in particular is the very head of the stone statues that line the cathedral.

It is said that a knight of Carim serves one holy woman alone in their lifetime. Like how Morne once served a certain goddess.

Grotesque ring given to knights of Carim. Boosts the might of miracles.

It is said that Morne was an attendant of the goddess Quato, and later became the Archbishop’s apostle. For the power to comfort all of the weak.

From there, Morne seems to have approached the local Archbishop to impart Caitha’s miracles to the church on her behalf. The result was wildly successful. In becoming the Archbishop’s apostle, Morne gained a platform to propagate his goddess’ cult, and, ultimately, the nation’s “Great Temple” (大神殿) was adorned with gargoyles reminiscent of his armor and ring. Now that the Way of White defines Carim, its knights receive recreations of that equipment plus assignment to protect one holy woman for life, essentially reenacting Morne’s lifelong devotion to Caitha. In fact, the great hammer incorporating the temple’s gargoyles into its design also matches the apostle’s rage, hence only knights with particularly excellent strength and faith are gifted it. Through him, the goddess became known to them all, and the country pays him its due respects. However, the god to worship is still Caitha, and we can see that the Tearstone rings originally associated with Carim or Catarina now exclusively relate to the God of Tears. She has completely overtaken the culture.

Great hammer given to persons who excelled particularly in physical strength and faith even among knights of Carim.

It was made in the shape of amulets of the Carim Great Temple and keeps the grotesque rage of Apostle Morne.

Battle art is “Wrath of Morne”. Stick the weapon in the ground and generate a strong shock wave. Similar to the Perseverance battle art, tenacity temporarily increases and damage taken is reduced.

While all of this primed Carim to become a new church leader, it came at the implicit expense of its old resident deity, Velka. Whether it be characters or items, the Goddess of Sin currently leaves no mark on Carim culture, a stark contrast to DS1. She has evidently lost her grip over the country since the events of the original game, replaced by a more sympathetic and less controversial deity. Indeed, as we can see from her forgotten statue in the Undead Settlement, Velka’s cult has seen a sharp decline, with no signs of even a single priest dedicated to her in the present era. This isn’t too surprising. With people like Arstor making a racket that reached across the Old World, the witch’s already niche popularity was bound to decline, both at home and abroad — though in all fairness, hindsight proves that the earl wasn’t solely to blame for the “gloomy” features of Carim’s people. And that unwanted attention would be especially relevant to then Allfather Lloyd over in Thorolund.

For all her sway among the gods, Velka was still the heresy to Lloyd’s orthodoxy, total antitheses. One can only imagine the friction generated from their oppugnant dispositions over the years, Lloyd’s sheer frustration over the Goddess of Sin’s continued independent streak. If he was given a good enough reason to, he would have almost certainly treated the maverick like the rest. In truth, it may not have been very long after the events of DS1 before Lloyd used this opportunity with Arstor to erode Velka’s influence. After all, if she couldn’t keep her house in order, it was only fair that he step up the Way of White’s presence in her territory where there was none, at least expressed, before. That was a dangerous position for a goddess of her nature to be in, in many ways. But as the gods’ ostensible ally, she had no means to fight such an infringement upon her domain — directly.

How convenient that just as faith in Velka was on the decline and potentially about to face real repercussions, Gwyndolin finally made a stand and cut off Lloyd’s support at the knees. And then right on cue, another goddess appeared in Carim to quickly replace the witch, a God of Tears who Dark Souls II (DS2) implied to simply be her alter ego. In fact, Caitha’s administration of Carim has only strengthened that suspicion. Knowing how to make Arstor’s ominous bite rings is taboo, yet clergy and clergy alone produce them freely. Caitha’s Chime is perversely prohibited to all but a small number of clerics even in Carim, all because its Archbishop wants to hide the fact that their god’s divine protection makes the holy bell scale with intelligence and compatible with Dark miracles. This far outclasses any corruption that Lloyd permitted. Caitha isn’t as pure as publicly portrayed. Indeed, tears may be beautiful when death approaches as the Tearstone ring descriptions claim, but the question remains: to who? The person dying, or the person watching the mutual suffering?

Holy bell that received the divine protection of the goddess Quato. Only a few clergymen possess it even in Carim.

It has unusual intelligence scaling for a miracle catalyst, and has surprisingly good affinity with miracles close to the Dark. That is hidden in the name of the Archbishop, and it is also strictly prohibited.

This problem within the Carim church is widespread. Saying you have a “priest” face from Carim has become derogatory because bouzu (坊主) doubles as slang for young boys, especially those with shaved heads. Shaving one’s hair is used to signify punishment or repentance in Japan as well as the first step to self-discipline on the path to enlightenment in Buddhism. Therefore, saying that Carim priests are specifically bouzu can speak not just to their inexperience concerning religiosity, but to their history with piety period. What did these clerics do to get their heads proverbially shaved? Was it just to an honest mistake for men freshly on the path to the gods? Or are they not as holy as you would otherwise expect? Revelers in vice who nonetheless portray themselves as free of worldly desires — doesn’t it bring to mind certain priests to a certain goddess? Carim hasn’t changed at all, it merely rebranded itself. “Caitha” didn’t come from nowhere, she just created a new handle. And if her identity and following were deliberately manufactured, then we must suspect the timing as well.

Velka was charged with handling the logistics that Gwyndolin’s covenant relied upon to judge sinners with extreme prejudice. Add to that their personal relationship, and one has to at least wonder if the Goddess of Sin was subtly nudging the Darkmoon deity into making his power play. Suddenly, Lloyd found himself on the defensive, with everything he had ever done now viewed through the lens of a liar and pretender. All but his most ardent followers would turn against him, and this schism would inevitably lead to violence. The fact that we can find members of the Lloyd faith in Ariandel suggests that there was persecution if not an outright purge of the old guard — ironic considering the church’s relation with the painting world during Lloyd’s day, not to mention Velka’s own connection. But while this remnant held out hope for their chief god and his white aureole’s return, the reality hasn’t panned out.

Thorolund’s god is gone, and to the fill the vacuum, Carim’s goddess reintroduced herself as someone more palatable, giving the perfect cover for her followers to escape public persecution and continue their old practices unabated. They may have needed to leave some like Earl Arstor out to dry, but the net gain for “Caitha” was renewed popularity amongst mankind. Is it any coincidence that priests of Carim are the ones “loudly” asserting the facts underpinning Lloyd’s illegitimacy? They were the kill shot which put their heretic on top. Gwyndolin may be the Allfather, but Caitha and Carim are undeniably the number two, and their influence over the Way of White plus the larger world is greater than ever. Velka had masterfully swiped Lloyd’s power from right under him, using his own offense against her to take over without missing a beat. Of course, it might all just be a coincidence —  as is always the case with the Goddess of Sin.

Ring given to knights who serve the Way of White. It is modeled on Chief God Lloyd’s shield of class.

Temporarily boosts defense power when HP is full.

But the Way of White’s Lloyd faith has now long since died out. The priests of Carim loudly assert: “For Lloyd was no more than a collateral relation and assumed himself Chief God.”


Reformation


After contact was established between the Old and New Worlds, the Way of White once again went through a number of changes. Many weapons from Lloyd’s era have remained, such as the church’s old crescent axe, but new ones were still added to its repertoire, such as the red-handled halberd from DS2. The Cleric’s Sacred Chime has similarly been adopted as a basic miracle catalyst for Undead clergy instead of the traditional cloth talisman, though this might be only to help make the cursed easy to identify; such talismans are still used for traveling or certain positions within the church. This cultural exchange also led to the Way of White embedding itself into Lothric religion. We can acquire both a Red Tearstone Ring and Caitha’s Chime at the chapel in Lothric Castle, with Greirat stealing a Blue Tearstone Ring after infiltrating the city below. A Fleshbite Ring can likewise be found in the Grand Archives while the Sacred Bloom Shield is found past an armory. Altogether, this indicates that high-ranking clerics, particularly from the Carim church, kept a presence there, most likely for the firelinking ritual.

Holy bell that performs the gods’ miracles. It is given to clergymen who have become Undead.

In order to use miracles, it is necessary to equip either a talisman or a holy bell and memorize miracles at a bonfire.

The Way of White now has its clerics who turn Undead dress in vibrant blue cloths which are impossible for others to mistake, complete with a large lid on their backs to demonstrate the church’s fear of the Dark they harbor. Armed with a similarly blue shield, these Undead clergy have been typically sent out with a mission, the nature of which has yet to leak out to the public. However, this duty is probably just linking the fire. Our background as a cleric is specifically one of these Undead clerics, completely exhausted from our journey sometime prior to taking part in Lothric’s firelinking system. Indeed, the only other Undead cleric we come across is a corpse at the Undead Settlement, so this mission is bringing them to Lothric. Why travel so far and with such fervor to around that area unless that was the end goal? Why send Undead to this land unless their mission related to the curse’s primary use there? The church’s own Undead mission for the Rite of Kindling has clearly lost relevancy since the events of DS1, so the common duty is the only option left if it wants to excise cursed clergy from the holy ranks.

Traveling clergyman, a person who used up all their strength from their journey.

Of course, not every Undead was sent as a sacrifice to the First Flame. Irina headed for Lothric to become a Fire Keeper, hence wearing the traditional white instead of vibrant blue. By all indications, she was just a dedicated storyteller, even learning how to read braille scripture while still able to see — certainly no fighter, befitting her Greek name meaning “peace”. In fact, the description for her ashes notes that such weakness suited her position in the church, thereby implying that fighting strength decides which clergywomen are sent as offerings versus guides. The latter are apparently prepared for their duty even before they begin the trek. When we first meet Irina at the Undead Settlement, she is already blind and suffering from Dark “insects” nibbling at her insides. The locust preacher confirms that such bugs don’t actually exist, so she must be referring to the humanity that devour a Fire Keeper’s body and soul beneath the skin — close examination of her ashes reveals scarring below the hand matching the damage by humanity described in DS1. Some might argue that she never outright claims to be Undead, but her interactions with Eygon prove otherwise.

Ashen remains of Irina of Carim. The handmaid of the ritual place will have new items to offer.

Irina was a weak woman. For that weakness made her a Carim holy woman, and then she betrayed it all.

… Who’s there? There’s someone there, right? Ah, if you’re there, please touch me. It’s dark, I can’t see anything, the dark bites at me. Insects biting and tormenting me for so, so long. So please touch me.

A woman feared. The insects that lurk in the Dark and bit and ate away at her. But wait! Where in the Abyss are such things! So don’t fear the Dark, you, and it’s time for our meal.

As a knight of Carim, Eygon was conferred an award of his choice along with his status, oddly requesting a greatshield bearing the face of his elder sister of some years. Stranger still, this knightly decoration was made to moan by offering it a quiet prayer, which, naturally, attracts enemy attention. But while everything about this “Moaning Shield” seems as grotesque as Eygon’s armor, it likely came from a place of affection. The fact that she is significantly older combined with the image of a giant woman shielding him implies that Eygon’s sister protected him when he was very young and unable to protect himself — he could depend on her to take on every threat. If so, then it is odd that he insinuates a woman to be in as much danger on a battlefield as an ordinary person in Undead land. Is the man simply a hypocrite, or does he speak from experience? The shield’s moan leaves ominous implications for his sister’s ultimate fate. Perhaps he wasn’t the first in his family to pursue knighthood, and suffered the loss of the sibling he admired because of it. In that case, the shield serves as both a memento and memento mori for the newly-appointed knight. As always, she would be the source of his strength going forward.

… Hmph, well, whatever. I warn you. If you’re sane, you should stay in your coffin. This place is a land of Undead, the likes of a sane person is like a woman on the battlefield…

With this in mind, his assignment as Irina’s bodyguard was bound to get complicated. She was a weak woman he needed to protect, the type of person this strong man would hate most. Worse, she bears the Dark every devout man fears. As the locust preacher notes, shadows warp by fire’s side, and so the faithful but troubled knight of Carim treats his charge with mocking disdain, Irina implying that he promised to kill her if she couldn’t control the Dark — and a knight of Carim always keeps his promise. By the time they reached the Undead Settlement church, Irina’s torment became too much to bear. She was too weak to even become a Fire Keeper. This was, of course, a huge betrayal for everything the nun stood for — and a knight of Carim never forgives betrayal. Eygon locked Irina in the church jail and left her to suffer. But as Irina herself implies, this was itself betraying his promise to her. Why has he allowed her to live? The answer is that Eygon’s underlying apprehension includes one other ingredient: projection.

A man feared. Wearing his solid armor, a weak woman, just like a child. There are those whose shadows warp at the side of fire. There are no shadows in the Abyss. So don’t fear the Dark, you, and it’s time for our meal.

Ahh, you, touch me once more. And this time, you’ll kill me like you promised, right?

Ah, I knew it, a knight of Carim keeps his promise…

Wouldn’t frail Irina remind Eygon of a sister he thought so strong yet also turned out so weak? If so, then could he bear the thought of losing her again? Perhaps not. With this added element, his fear of Irina, especially her weakness, gains a new dimension: she is the person he wished he was strong enough to save the first time. If he was simply fulfilling his duty, why make a promise to her? Because it gave her peace to know that she wouldn’t needlessly suffer. Why then let her suffer when the situation arose? Because he hoped she might still recover with time. At every turn, Eygon has tangled his personal duty with his personal feelings, leading to contradiction after contradiction in his behavior. But that is all he can do for someone he fears but cares about, though he can’t admit it — he might not even realize it. In the end, Irina needed a reassuring hand to save her from the darkness consuming her, in more ways than one. And with the heartbroken nun coming to serve as our miracle tutor after we be that savior, Eygon can only promise to assist a “wannabe hero” like us if we continue to help her.

But, if you say you’re an idiot wannabe hero the same as them, then you best proceed ahead from the abandoned church over there. And then you best die miserably. As many times as it takes for your heart to break. Keh heh heh…

Son of a, damned wannabe hero Hollow…

This scenario runs one of two ways. If we give Irina only holy books to teach, she gains enough resilience to the humanity inside her to complete her Fire Keeper training, moving to the shrine mausoleum. With his reason to help us gone, Eygon is next found dead in her old cell, presumably having committed suicide to atone for his dishonorable failure — he was the true wannabe hero. But if we have Irina teach heretical scriptures, it only agitates the humanity, the resulting pain breaking her completely. Eygon will then attempt to kill us for our betrayal, but not before trying his best to save her. The knight possesses an empty Estus flask during our battle at Firelink Shrine, indicating that he used it just before we arrive via the bonfire. But the knight differentiates himself from Undead, so why does he even possess one of their treasures? Because it wasn’t given to him, but his charge, whose pain he tried to alleviate by making her drink the Estus. That affirms both her undeath as well as his desperation to keep her alive.

… Oh… you’re another of what they call a fireless ash, huh… These “shameless, nameless Undead,” did I miss anything?

If nothing else, Eygon and Irina demonstrate their homeland’s direct involvement in Lothric’s religious practices. This transfer of Undead from countries like Carim to the northern kingdom likewise explains some of the church’s more recent practices. Why have blessed gems becomes known as charms for holy women? Because their power to heal is useful for these weak women’s survival during their journey to become Fire Keepers. Why value blind believers enough to make braille holy books commonplace? Because it conditions clergywomen to think positively about being blinded if they become Fire Keeper candidates. Indeed, the blind make for an excellent cultural symbol. These are people who can rely on their visual faculties to understand the world even less than most, meaning that they must more heavily rely on faith for insight. Of course, cynics might instead infer that the church prefers its adherents having “blind” faith so that they are easier to manipulate — perhaps it is some combination of both. But in the end, it makes compliance from the church’s Undead all the easier.

Braille scriptures of Carim. Superior miracles are jotted down in it.

Become able to learn superior miracles of Carim by handing it to a storyteller.

It is a customary practice to value blind believers in the Way of White. Braille scriptures are by no means unusual.


Cloak and Talon


In more recent years, the Way of White has had a new crisis to contend with. Sulyvahn proclaimed himself Pontiff, but Carim has seen through the paper-thin façade. Irina refers to herself as a former shuudoujo, (修道女) a term typically employed for nuns in the Roman Catholic Church. The Archbishop of Carim is similarly the daishikyou, (大司教) with the kanji used for Catholic archbishops. This contrasts the “bishops” and “archbishops” (大主教) of the Cathedral of the Deep, whose titles employ the kanji for various non-Catholic denominations of Christianity. In other words, there is a divide between the Way of White in Carim and the church in Irithyll, which oversees the Cathedral. Sectarian splits with the Roman Catholic Church often resulted from disagreements with the papacy over the Bishop of Rome’s authority over the entire church, so the Way of White has probably also been fractured by Sulyvahn’s similar claim.

“Caitha” is an intelligent goddess, so seeing through Sulyvahn’s blatant deception isn’t a surprise, and there was no reason for her to recognize his authority. But even if we assume that every church outside of Irithyll’s sphere of influence stood with Carim and denounced the Pontiff’s claims to leadership over the Way of White, it is nothing more than an internal dispute among the clergy. Lothric has sidestepped the issue by dealing with both parties, and no one else seems willing to risk war. Irithyll’s suffering under the Pontiff’s heel wasn’t worth jeopardizing the existing system or the chief god’s life, and Velka is certainly in no position to lambast Sulyvahn for covert flirtations with the Dark — again, ironic that the setup she arranged ended up hijacked by a sorcerer so much like herself. But while everything may seem like business as usual save for Irithyll and Carim exchanging glares on the public stage, open maneuvering has never been the goddess’ fancy; she much prefers the more subtle approach.

Lying dead in the stream just outside Irithyll is a body with a Ring of Sacrifice, suggesting that one of Velka’s followers recently attempted to infiltrate the city — the surrounding sewage centipedes indicates how that turned out. Another seems to have had more success. In the sewers of Irithyll Dungeon, we find two chests. One hides the key to open the older prison cells; the other is a mimic carrying the Dark Clutch Ring. This location implies that the owner really didn’t want anyone in the dungeon to know about it. Why? The ring increases the power of Dark attacks at the expense of Dark defense, indicating the the owner employs such power. Moreover, it is shaped like the foot of a crow, a creature commonly associated with Velka. Taken together, and the owner of these chests is likely another servant to the Goddess of Sin. Whatever his plans for nabbing the Old Cell Key, his hiding place was evidently never discovered. Still, the corpse lying face down in the nearby sewage with the Soul of a Weary Warrior suggest that he too might have met his end at the hands of the local wildlife, namely the giant rats or basilisks.

From these two examples, we can infer Velka’s continued interest in the goings-on of Irithyll. Whether legitimately concerned about Gwyndolin or simply wanting to spite an unforeseen variable for meddling, the goddess would nonetheless benefit from having an accurate assessment of the situation, maybe even undermine Sulyvahn’s operations along the way. Carim can’t simply rally all the god-fearing nations in a crusade against the false pope, but subterfuge knows no borders. However, the Boreal Valley proves dangerous for even Velka’s agents, and recent developments in Irithyll prove their work unnecessary. As far as the goddess is concerned, this is likely for the best. She has her own nations to guide.