Nashandra

Among the children of Dark, Nashandra, originally Dunashandra, (デュナシャンドラ) is the most uncomplicated. As the apostle of “craving”, (渇望) she embodies everything that makes these spawns of Dark what they are. She forever thirsts for one thing: power. According to Vendrick, the monster’s diminutive size as a fragment of Manus’ Abyss was the very reason for her hunger for strength — at her core, she is pathetic, and so seeks others’ strength to fill in for where she is lacking, even though it will never satisfy her insecurity. However, Nashandra wasn’t the smallest of fragment nor the first to take form because of it. Despite the claims of her bow and bell’s descriptions before the big fix, all the fragments were small and driven to crave power because of it; Nashandra is nothing special in this regard.

The one I called my Queen… was another of them… That frail, tiny fragment, for that reason, hungered for stronger power… It sought a vessel for power. Per its craving…

Holy bell created from the soul of Dunashandra. Possesses exceedingly high might scaling.

That one that was once in an Abyss broke up into countless fragments and scattered with its destruction. The one that was smaller than the others took form faster due to that smallness.

Bow created from the soul of Dunashandra.

That one that was once in an Abyss broke up into countless fragments and scattered with its destruction. The one that was smaller than the others always hungered due to that smallness and continually sought what it lacked.

Where the apostle of craving does shine is in her single-minded dedication to her nature. Unlike the others, Nashandra never develops any additional feelings superseding her lust for power, namely souls. She is a Dark spawn through and through. And naturally, this child of Dark desires only the most excellent vessel bearing the most excellent soul. The Emerald Herald’s Japanese dialogue reveals that Nashandra specifically seeks the “great soul” of the First Flame; in other words, its fuel — the Lord of Cinder. Rather than settle for a “great king” among men, she wishes to be wed to the ultimate King, the King of Kindling who possesses the most powerful soul which preordains the karma of our own. If she could approach the First Flame, then would that not make her the greatest Dark, casting the largest shadow? In that case, Nashandra must obtain that power, no matter the cost. However she came about this information, it is likely the reason that she was last to come to Drangleic. But once she learned about all of this, the apostle of craving knew to aim for the “throne of craving”. (渇望の玉座) But to do that, she needed to first reach it. To that end, she devised a plan.

If you proceed beyond here, Dunashandra will attack you. For becoming the one who reaches and inherits that King’s seat. Because taking ahold of the great soul of the First Flame is her want. Please subdue Dunashandra.

A true King isn’t simply a snob who controls a country. A King is one who takes on the karma of the soul.

The monster left the foreign nation she was in and headed for Drangleic. Disguising herself as an extremely beautiful woman, Nashandra approached the land’s King and enchanted him with her looks. The Japanese description for Vendrick’s sword and shield notes that she successfully “possessed “ him like a demon, making him do whatever she desired he do. And so, when she warned of the giants’ imminent invasion and advised he use their mighty souls to help him obtain the power of the First Flame, with which he could control the Undead curse, Vendrick listened. Of course, it was all a lie, but her playact as the fool’s affectionate Queen, an ever-present shadow, got her exactly what she wanted. The Throne of Want was being excavated and Vendrick was positioning himself to take his seat as the next King of Kindling. As the original description for her soul states in Japanese, if something bore the qualities of power, she sought it out. And as Wellager notes, nothing brings peace to men quite like the Dark. She was only indulging her nature, and it paid dividends to building towards her ultimate objective.

Greatsword of Vanclad, King of Drangleig. Its might corresponds greatly to the amount of souls possessed by the user.

A fragment of Dark that appeared from somewhere imitated the human form and possessed the King’s soul. And per its own craving, it sought souls, and tried to make the power of giants its own.

Soul of Dunashandra, the Drangleig Queen.

The spawn born from a Dark of before sought power wherever its qualities were born.

The special soul of the apostle of “craving” is used to acquire a vast amount of souls or create a great power.

Despite the localization’s claim that Nashandra’s face remained “as still as her portrait” upon hearing of Vendrick’s disappearance, it is more accurate to say that she alone quietly smiled while the rest of Drangleic Castle had fallen into disarray. More than likely, the Dark spawn had assumed that her pawn, faced with the do or die of his kingdom, was going off to finally take the throne and head for the Lord of Cinder. Indeed, Chancellor Wellager claims that, in going missing, the King is in her grasp. But what greeted the Queen when she presumably followed after him was a locked door. She soon after discovered that her husband was hiding away with the key in the Undead Crypt, behind his human shield. Vendrick had realized her deception and did everything in his power to keep the seat she craved out of her hands. Our final encounter with Nashandra proves that she found a way around this limitation, but Vendrick left her two more surprises: some of the kingdom’s strongest warriors guarding the throne, and inactive golems ignoring commands to form a bridge to it — although, realistically, someone of her size should be able to jump the gap. The deceiver had been hoodwinked herself.

Great axe created from the soul of the last giant. The primitive weapon that resembled a stone tool of old possesses extraordinary size and its strength consolidates only power.

During the war with the giants, King Vanclad disappeared. Among the royal castle that fell into chaos, only the lone Queen expressed a quiet smile.

My King… Do you desire an audience with King Vanclad…? Unfortunately, His Majesty isn’t here… My master… His Majesty is… in the hands of her… Her Highness…”

One can only imagine Nashandra’s frustration, robbed of her goal when she was. Here Vendrick was, a pawn, and he couldn’t even serve as a sufficient vessel for the power she lusted after. How more worthless can you get! Indeed, when we encounter her who knows how many centuries later, the Queen doesn’t even immediately recall her husband’s name; that is how little she cared for the man. It was only the roadblocks he placed, which she clearly believes are too dangerous to overcome herself, that force her to continue playing the role of Drangleic’s Queen. However, the country she now “ruled” had collapsed, leaving her little in the way of resources to salvage her plan. Instead, she plays the part for a new audience: the Undead now visiting this land in droves. Nashandra at some point realized why they are there and decided to use the gods’ logic for the world to her purposes. She need only wait for an Undead strong enough to meet her to come to the castle and reframe Vendrick’s actions as a failure to fulfill the duty of a firelinker, which cut dialogue only further hammers home.

The former king of this country, yes, his name was called Vanclad. He had a vessel insufficient to be the true King. He gained power, became the king of man, and then, in order to confront the cursed humans that came to be born… sought further power and made various attempts to. But, he never made it to the “throne”. Now he is in the Undead Mausoleum, probably withering away.

Undead. You, without a doubt, might be the one who should become King. Proceed to Vanclad’s location. For there is no need for two Kings. I will await you here. May you take ahold of the karma.

Undead. Seek a stronger curse. There is only one King, and if it is you…

At every step of the way, Nashandra echoes the words of Vendrick, Aldia, and Shanalotte. We have overcome arduous trials to reach her castle. If we the King of Kindling, then we are following a preordained path we must pursue to completion. King Vendrick proved wanting, so it is our duty to kill the would-be Lord of Cinder and take our rightful place as the true King. When we return with his ring, the Queen assumes that the man himself is no more, and gladly pronounces that the Kingdom of Drangleic has finally fallen with him. Even then, she still pushes us along to confirm our Kingship by taking the throne. While the spawn of Dark is suspicious of the Ancient Dragon’s own motive for assisting us in our mission, she still recognizes the necessity of its power in forcing the throne’s golems to cooperate — hence she can only warn us about the dubious deity and hope we don’t become distracted by the mystery of dragons. Truth or lie, Nashandra will say anything to keep us on track.

You have surmounted the trials and admirably arrived here, cursed Undead. My name is Dunashandra, Queen of this Drangleig. Undead. There is a preordination that must be done by you, who finally made it here.

Undead. Undead who felled that person, Vendrick, and took ahold of the king’s emblem. Here now, Drangleig has been destroyed. But nevertheless, whether or not you are to be King… you must acquire the “throne” to know that.

Undead, follow the king’s emblem. If it is you, then it may even be accomplished. That is, without a doubt, the path that was imposed on you…

Undead. Seek the “throne”. Follow the king’s emblem, and do what must be done.

Cut dialogue also suggests the monster’s increasing desperation as she comes closer to her goal. The soul of the First Flame is so close, she can almost feel it. She just needs to maintain the facade long enough for us to acquire resonance with the giants and dispatch the Throne Watcher and Defender. And once we have done her dirty work, she drops the mask and confronts us in her true form, stating that now is the time for us to unite with the Dark. In other words, Nashandra won’t repeat her mistake. Rather than risk her chosen vessel abandoning her and thwarting her plans yet again, the child of Dark will reap our lives and harvest our soul for herself, bringing the power with her as she meets her true beloved. One might think it odd that she tries to directly challenge the champion whom she deliberately trained to overcome every challenge she could not on her behalf, but she likely believes she still has the advantage. After all, we are Undead, and her Dark body draws out the curse within us, draining our sanity and life force. Surely we will be easy pickings for her — such was her arrogance.

Undead. To the forest. Go to that forest of giants. Hurry, hurry…

Ohh… The flame… the flame… The soul… the soul…

Undead. Undead who passed the trials. Now is the time, to be one with the Dark…

In the end, we don’t lose our hearts to hollowing, and slay the spawn of the Abyss right before the throne she covets. The updated description to her soul tries to frame our encounter as another trial for a firelinker, albeit only in a metaphorical sense. The Age of Dark draws closer with each day the First Flame gradually burns out entirely. Only a new Lord of Cinder inheriting the fire can keep the Abyss at bay for a while longer. Therefore, Nashandra approaching the empty throne is a microcosm for the narrative’s grander cosmological conflict, her defeat signifying our triumph over the greater darkness as we take our seat and go on to presumably become King of Kindling. Indeed, according to Kota Tonaki — an enemy concept artist — in the Dark Souls II: Design Works interview, the cluster of human skeletons encompassing her lower half was inspired by Nito’s similar design as an “enemy character wearing death”. Nashandra can thus also represent all our deaths leading up to this point, the symbol of the hardship we must surmount to complete the game’s narrative.

Soul of Dunashandra, the Drangleig Queen.

The spawns of an Abyss that appeared from somewhere drew close to the ones who try to be king of this land, as if their shadows. Perhaps it is a trial for one who seeks the throne? Fire will disappear sooner or later, and then the Age of Dark will visit. So long as there is no one to link it.

The special soul of the apostle of “craving” is used to acquire a vast amount of souls or create a great power.

Of course, all of this thematic framing is clearly to offset the Queen’s lackluster involvement in the main plot, with what incidental role she does play easily substituted by characters like the Emerald Herald. For a final boss, her machinations are perfunctory; her opposition to us, easily avoidable. This may be a relic of the child of Dark’s earlier role in the game’s original script. Tonaki relates that Nashandra wasn’t initially imagined as the final boss, though her boss model was always planned to be an “incarnation of the Queen” who “wore a curse” to appear human and would eventually reveal her true nature to us; this implies that the Dark spawn was at least always intended to be a boss. Shalquoir’s cut dialogue for this earlier draft of the script adds the Queen’s interest in hatching a fossilized dragon egg enshrined at the “egg ritual place”, which became Dragon Shrine, within the “old forest”, which became Shaded Woods — similar to the area layout in the final game. This egg is most likely the rare “dragon’s jewel” (龍の宝玉) that dwells within a dragon’s “womb” mentioned in other cut dialogue, which we would have been required to fetch in order to progress the main plot.

Do you know the legend that says an unusual gem dwells within the womb of the dragons that have lived since time immemorial? Apparently, it is related to the souls the “dragons of old” birth… So, if I pursue the soul-starved demons, I think I can find the gem.

There’s a “dragon egg fossil” enshrined by humans in the “egg ritual place” that’s in the depths of the forest. It’s the only proof showing the dragons of old seldom seen now aren’t legend.

I heard from the Queen’s lady attendant that the Queen tried hatching the “dragon egg” at that place.

From this, we can infer that Nashandra might have served as the boss for the Dragon Shrine, transforming from Queen to monster before the fight to prevent us from taking her precious egg. She would have most likely been after the archdragons’ power, since the so-called jewel relates to the dragons birthing souls, and hoping to acquire that power from a newborn pup. Indeed, considering that we would have needed the fossil for our effort to go back in time, there would have been much power to derive from it. And given that Shalquoir would have acquired her information from one of the Queen’s handmaids during her brief stay at Drangleic Castle before the kingdom’s destruction, this pursuit would have likely been the Queen’s motive for approaching King Vendrick — again, similar to the final game. She would have neglected her royal duties along with her husband, ignored the kingdom’s destruction, and continued trying to hatch the soul she coveted until we interfere and have to put her down.

If you come out of the forest that’s at the end of the main road, you’ll head to the King’s castle. Didn’t I stay in the castle for just a short time long ago? Emilibeg… I was pleased with the lady attendant called something like that. But now it’s completely deserted, and an interesting place was lost.

In short, Nashandra was originally a minor antagonist for the first half of the narrative, akin to the Great Ones — though adding much more flavor to the overall setting by virtue of being Queen with her own unrelated objective. This setup would have certainly made her more involved in the main plot, with better justification for our inevitable conflict, but seeking draconic power seems infinitesimal next to that of the beginning flame. Perhaps it was for the best that the writers at FromSoftware let the character turn her eyes toward greater heights — her express suspicion toward the forces of the Dragon Shrine in the final game may be even a tongue-in-cheek callback to her original concept. Regardless of the irony, Nashandra has no need for immortal dragons. She is a child of Dark, humanity incarnate, and her minuscule shadow can only grow by taking ahold of the captivating power of flame.