Giant Kingdom

Though identified by the same term, the giants of the Dark Souls II are unlikely to bear any relation to the giants of the original Dark Souls. Despite sharing a vaguely humanoid shape, New World giants are more top heavy, with gaping holes for faces. Moreover, they are native to another continent across the sea to the far north, making evolution from Anor Londo slaves stranded on Drangleic doubtful. They probably aren’t even part of the animal kingdom. As seen in the Forest of Fallen Giants, those that have “perished” (朽ちた) turn into trees. Rather than proper death, they “sleep” as the soul revitalizes the shriveling body in this new form, eventually producing seeds whose resemblance indicates their eventual growth into new progeny. By all indications, these giants are simply a mobile species of plant like those seen in Darkroot Garden. Their method of reproduction might be woefully inefficient considering the eons since these giants dendrified, but their resulting size and strength is unquestionable.

Mass of something that is harvested from a tree of a giant. Makes enemies react to invaders.

A perished giant changed its form to a giant tree. Death is not the end and all living things are inside a cycle of rebirth.

If so, where in the world do those that have come outside that cycle go?

With rock-like skin, these giants can take a bruising and are fairly resistant to magic and flame. In fact, they can store fire, poison, and presumably a variety of other substances down their head cavities without any obvious harm to themselves, freely pulling those substance back out to hurl at enemies when needed. At the same time, their muck-like blood betrays the underlying biology to that stony exterior, which is likely why they are just as resistant to lightning. What such plant physiology permits is unlike anything seen in bipedal animals, including giants of the Old World. The only commonality is the physical power accompanying the body mass, the New World giants binding massive rocks to tree trunks in order to create their ranking soldiers’ weapons. Another is arguably their intelligence.

As Drummond notes, the giant are no simple barbarians despite what their primitive tools and clothing might suggest. They had a highly organized society, led by a King whom they crowned the same as the animals’ monarchs. It is possible that they merely adopted these peculiarities from humans, since the Varangian set and bow descriptions indicate the possibility of those barbarians sailing down from the North to raid Drangleic’s coasts. But even if they didn’t independently invent the concept, their use of royal hierarchy betrays their higher thinking. We might not see any of them exchange words like the Rat King, but theirs was a people no less organized. Rather, speech might not have even been their primary means to communicate. Their gaping holes for heads allow little more than moans and wails. Killing their King meanwhile nets us the Giant’s Kinship, or “Giant Resonance” (巨人の共鳴) to be more accurate. With this swirling vortex of power in our possession, we can influence the Throne of Want’s giant golems, indicating that the race communicates hierarchically without need for sound.

Helmet of a barbarian who devastated the coastal waters once.

The sea stretches to the north of Drangleig. It is said that at the end of it is an unknown continent where those that aren’t human nest.

Bow made for sailors who go out to the open sea. Flight range is long so that beasts of the sea don’t approach their ships.

The sea stretches to the north of Drangleig. It is said that at the end of it is an unknown continent where those that aren’t human nest.

The so-called kinship holds deeper implications, of course. For one, the resonance is apparently exclusive to the Giant Lord and therefore something developed uniquely within him, much like how ant queens develop the faculties necessary for their role in the colony. Indeed, Drummond points out the king’s particularly enormous size among them, and his body is far leaner in shape compared to his subjects. In all likelihood, hierarchy is ingrained into their very biology. To be specific, this is likely a byproduct of their souls. While the Giant Lord himself possesses a gargantuan soul identical to notable human kings, the one each of his subjects carry looks more akin to the average boss soul, only with an additional black core that brings their head holes to mind. The giants are alien right to their very core, and their “resonance” with the King is probably stemming from the same source. As the King cultivates an especially powerful giant’s soul, said soul generates a magical resonance he can employ like a pheromonal organ, similar to how the Ancient Dragon conjures the Ashen Mist Heart.

As to how this magic “organ” operates, it seems to send signals directly to the other giants’ souls, hence why we can control artificial constructs bearing only those souls; “resonance” does apply to hearts — in other words, souls — as much as sounds, after all. The giant who becomes King can essentially convey his will to any fellow giant within his vicinity instantly, which implies that the underpinnings for the magic rely on an existing soul-to-soul network. Indeed, seeds of the giant-trees make enemies react to invaders the same as the player. Such phantoms are normally only visible to the person whose world they intrude upon or parties sharing the owner’s perception of the timespace, namely other phantoms — they entangle themselves within the reality in relation to the individual soul. However, even if small and juvenile, the power of a giant can integrate the invaders into the perceptions of other local souls compromising the larger world. This suggests that the giants had evolved the soul networking required for the magic to resonate between souls of the same kind.

Furthermore, the effect on black phantoms in particular potentially hints to a connection with the Dark. Indeed, while the soul shows nary a sign of the Abyss, we can still derive the Repel hex from the Giant Lord’s essence. This dark art distorts local space so as to keep any outside forces from affecting it, curious considering how other giant souls all have a small black mass that has somehow not been broken up and diffused within it. Or maybe the same is true for the king. Close inspection of the menu graphic for the Giant’s Kinship reveals that the purple magic swirls around a foggy black mass much like the giant soul cores. Therefore, perhaps it is not that the Giant Lord’s soul lacks his brethren’s unique quality but that we extract it out immediately after obtaining it. Put another way, perhaps the kinship is just a dark soul fragment that had been nestled in the king’s soul — using its power to prevent itself from being completely subsumed. In that case, the soul network is built on the larger soul specifically adapting to this humanity lodged at its core, “learning” to incorporate and control it.

This evolutionary angle fits with the giants’ reproductive cycle. If every giant was once a seed from a giant-tree, which produce the next generation without any apparent cross pollination, then all giants and their souls have to originate from a single ancestor, the first tree to produce the seeds. This would mean an original humanity core which would have likewise been split and spread amongst each new giant’s soul. With the Dark’s domain over space, it is feasible for this fragmented humanity to still remain magically linked, both separate souls and the same one simultaneously yet interchangeably. And because that dark core is essentially trapped inside, the giant kings would have plenty opportunity to develop their ability to use other pieces as conduits for telepathy. The Giant Lord’s soul manipulates its core, and the intended effect is mirrored by the others; resonating, as you will. This reverberation naturally extends to the souls engulfing those cores, creating the giants’ soul network.

As added evidence, the Japanese description for the generic giant’s soul expressly uses the plural to refer to the race as a whole. One can argue that the text was simply worded with the presumption of owning multiple souls in mind, but it is still anomalous — the singular boss souls for the Skeleton Lords or Hollow Sentinels aren’t subjected to this treatment. That isn’t to say that the giants are a hivemind, as those whose memories we explore do have individual names: Vammar, Orro, and Jeigh, or Wamda, (ワムダ) Roh, (ロー) and Ojey. (オジェイ) However, there is also no denying the compound effect these souls have when facing Vendrick, their rage synergizing to add to our damage. With this mind, the invisible binds between their separate souls may very well be what led the Giant Lord and his army to their people’s captors.

Soul of giants that invaded Drangleig once.

Did the wrath of the giants that was directed at the king disappear with their death? Or is there nothing to heal their hatred?

Use to acquire souls, but…

The so-called barbarians came to Drangleic seeking vengeance against Vendrick’s own barbarism, wreaking havoc across the land. Wherever we find Drangleic soldiers or mercenaries stationed, we find Hollows, with no giant “corpses” anywhere among them save for at the seaside fortress. This was nothing short of a massacre, protracted for decades if both Drummond’s father and grandfather defended the fort against them before him. And with such heavy losses by the defenders, the notion that the giants had a single-minded focus on reaching the castle where the giant golems were located, as the original description for the Giant Lord’s Soul claims, sounds absurd; unsurprisingly, the information was removed with the big fix. The giants weren’t aiming to quickly liberate their captive fellows. Their only concern was maximizing death and destruction for the enemy, to give back everything they endured. In the end, everything came to a head at the fortress, the giants flinging massive fireballs from their naval vessels while also landing forces past the walls. And for a last stand, Drangleic put up incredible resistance.

Soul of the King of the giants that destroyed Drangleig once.

The giants that appeared from beyond the north aimed for Vanclad’s castle. As if only what was there was their objective.

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

Those giants aren’t just barbarians. They are driven by a rage that cannot forgive. For my father, my grandfather, fought these giants in this land. It is no ordinary tenacity. They probably cannot forgive them. My King’s deeds…

By the time we arrive to the past, many giants have already been killed, many more contending with the Undead and Hollows their tarrying has forced them to confront. Even without us defeating the Giant Lord, the kingdom’s tenacity handed them the victory, if only barely. In fact, despite us collecting his soul, the King of the giants apparently still had more to spare. Considering that this boss soul lacks the characteristic black hole at the core, it is likely the mere remnants left behind on the body coalesced into one resembling the average boss — not surprising given the ginormous size of the original. Even so, the King’s loss of life energy no doubt weakened him, allowing some survivors on Drangleic’s side to drag his broken body underground and seal it away with rubble. Based on the number of misshapen swords jammed into him, this wasn’t done without first trying to put him down for good, but the mass outbreak of Hollows likely had his would-be killers pressed for time and attention. And in fairness, their makeshift prison worked, at least until the King saw a familiar face.

Soul of the surviving giant that was bound to the Forest of Giants’ underground.

It is said that the leader of the giants that tried to trample the kingdom underfoot was overthrown by a nameless hero. The leader was tethered to the fortress’ underground and sealed away, but it was after anything and everything was completely destroyed.

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

Greataxe created from the soul of the Last Giant.

The primitive weapon resembling the stone tool of an old age possesses extraordinary size. Its strength aggregates only power.

Due to the work of a nameless hero, the giant was captured, but it was already all too late.

While this is technically our first time meeting him, the King clearly hasn’t forgotten about the nameless hero who felled him so long ago. Upon seeing us, he flies into a rage, breaking himself free of his paltry restraints like a wild animal. Even bereft of so much of his strength, the giant gives his all to kill us, even if means pulling off his limp left arm and using it as a club; his sense of payback certainly hasn’t abated. With his final demise, we supposedly kill the “Last Giant”, but the few more warriors we can find hiding out in the Gutter potentially after this boss battle proves the name conditional at best. Regardless, it is true that their race is basically extinct, at least until the forest’s seeds mature into the next generation. The King is the last one standing with the pride of his people, no skulking in the shadows as a cowardly runaways. When he is gone, so too is their kingdom, like so many before. And he refuses to be part of that cycle.