Remnants of Manus

Despite his defeat during the events of the original Dark Souls, (DS1) Manus has persisted in one form or another. Even if the Chosen Undead vanquished the body and claimed its soul, much of that humanity had already been unleashed into the surrounding cavern. And while defeating the master halted the spread of the Abyss, it wasn’t completely destroyed. Rather, without the mad will behind it, the Abyss fragmented. Indeed, DS1 had already shown how the ancient man’s dark soul manifested a great multitude of individual humanity spirits in his insanity, so it is easy to imagine the wider macrocosm simply falling apart once he was gone. And with DS1 also showing Oolacile’s Abyss buried along with any evidence of the dark sorcerer, these fragments going unnoticed is feasible. Even when these vestiges of Manus suddenly found themselves in another land like the rest of Lordran, they continued to lie dormant beneath the feet of countless kingdoms, burgeoning anew.

Generally, these pieces take the form of Dark Chasms of Old, cavernous holes consumed by the Abyss in a similar manner as experienced in DS1. According to Grandahl, they are growing just as the original had in the previous game, consuming all over the years. This is supported by the various dark spirits we find lurking within these chasms. From Havel warriors to witchtrees to regular old bandits, all manner of individuals can be encountered there. The most recognizable, of course, are the knight dressed in the same equipment — at least in name — as DS1’s Prince Ricard and the pyromancer outfitted like King Jeremiah. Some of these supposedly more unique foes can be encountered multiple times even within the same chasm, but souls can be readily split, so multiple phantoms in a ravenous Abyss isn’t unimaginable. However, these two are unlikely to be the genuine articles, regardless.

The Dark you navigated is what has existed since extremely long ago. The Dark which was once greatly spread became fragments on one occasion. However, they grow while consuming all over a long time.

Both Ricards’s sword and shield differ from their DS1 designs, and we can actually acquire the rapier from a chest in the Huntsman’s Copse, nowhere near the chasm. Furthermore, this rapier reveals in its description how the prince’s tale now has plenty of variations, not all ending tragically after he turned Undead. Considering that we can incontrovertibly find his Hollow in DS1, we are left with the implication that sword we obtain belongs to a different wandering prince, one who ended up journeying to this land of Undead as one of the cursed and lived out that happier end. DS1 admitted to Prince Ricard’s story being archetypical, so there have likely been many princes in exile wandering around performing heroics only to turn Undead and be again banished from the world of man. Whether by will or happenstance, some emulated Ricard’s life story down to their very attire, with at least one evidently ending up swallowed by the remnants of Manus.

As for “Jeremiah”, we can ascertain that he isn’t the actual King of Izalith by his failure to perform a single chaos pyromancy. Even if his signature whip was somehow lost over the years, he should still possess the power of the living flame which remolded him. On that count, the phantom we encounter also has a far shorter “neck” compared to DS1, indicating that either his demonic aspects have gotten smaller or that this isn’t the same person. Add to that, close inspection of the two character models reveal them to be different genders with different faces. In all likelihood, the real Jeremiah is dead, his attire similarly copied from surviving historical accounts by ambitious pyromancers. Evidently, these arrogant copycats still didn’t want the hassle of the unwieldy “neck”, resulting in the truncated headpiece seen in-game. Based on the circumstances, the real king in yellow likely left Ariamis at some point, only to end up dead, but perhaps surviving would have doomed him to an endless purgatory in the Abyss instead.

Indeed, the fact that these individuals have been reduced to phantoms suggests that their bodies have already been completely swallowed by the Dark they lurk in. The Transgressor’s Staff and Leather Shield are visibly corrupted by the black substances produced in the Abyss, proving the physical effects of prolonged exposure in this assuming pitch-dark hole. It is for this reason that we must perform rituals for manifesting as dark spirits ourselves in order to explore the different chasms. However, as dangerous as the Abyss, its corruption isn’t absolute. The Dragon Chime bestowed by Grandahl retains its impressive holy power despite extensive exposure to the Abyss, not affecting its ability to cast Dark magic in the least. Therefore, the power of the sun can withstand even the overwhelming Dark of the founder of dark sorcery. That lays the groundwork for us to light braziers in the different chasms and find a certain entity deeper within.

Staff enwreathed in a colorless black something. Thing found in the Old Dark Hole. Becomes a catalyst for sorceries and hexes.

There are dark holes in various parts of Drangleig. There still isn’t anyone who knows what is really inside of those holes right now.

Holy bell made in the shape of a dragon. Becomes a catalyst for miracles and hexes.

Despite being in the Dark Hole for a long time, one feels its pure prayer. Requires devout faith to use and its might scaling is exceedingly high.

This aptly-named “Darklurker” takes the form of a vaguely angelic being with more ominous features, such as the hood shadowing its head and blue tendrils tipping its wings. Instead of humanity like Manus, Darklurker possesses the average boss soul, with not even a hint of corruption in spite of prolonged exposure in these depths of the Abyss. And yet, this bright soul serves as the basis for Lifedrain Patch, a Dark spell with  typical Dark qualities. At the same time, this spell’s name is more accurately rendered as “small spiritsucker light”, (小さな吸精の光) as if the Dark power it casts is actually derived from holy light — close inspection of the cavities in its body does in fact reveal tiny lights dotting the pitch-black voids.

Soul of the one that lurks in the depths of the Dark Hole.

The Old Dark Hole is a vestige of something that scattered to someplace from someone who once was.

The special soul of the one that lurks inside it is used to acquire a vast amount of souls or create a great power.

Expends a fixed number of souls and sets Dark in a spot. Those touching the Dark receive damage.

The warped Dark that was born from the hand of man absorbs the life of those it has touched.

Everything about Darklurker seems contradictory, but that in itself reveals its origin. The boss performs magic ranging from dark to your more typical sorcery, mirroring Manus’ own expertise. However, it can additionally conjure a ring of flame resembling the Darksign. Aside from reaffirming the implications about Manus from DS1, this confirms that the power of flame is still alive and well within his fragmented dark soul. In other words, Darklurker is most likely the power of Manus’ curse made living, presumably induced by its Abyss environment. It is familiar with the sorcerer’s magic because it has always been with him, immersed but not consumed; a patch of light in the profound darkness.

Heide apparently learned to draw out that light. One of the stone doorways the civilization constructed in the Gutter hides an entrance to the Dark Chasm of Old. Two more can be found in the Shaded Woods and beneath Drangleic Castle — in other words, at the heart of Heiden ruins. The altars used to warp into each chasm likewise bear architecture identical to the Shrine of Amana, including the columns of human bodies. This same architecture has been built into the walls of the consumed caves, one with a lever modeled on those seen in the Duke’s Archives from DS1. Each chasm also maintains a large copy of the Lordvessel filled with bones that, when all set alight, summon Darklurker from the depths of the void. Besides giving a source to the Old Dragonslayer’s magical affinity, this was all likely constructed to help monitor and seal, or maybe even exorcise, the fragments of the Abyss scattered across the land, the transporters located nearest to their destination — perhaps inspired by the Throne of Want.

If that was Heide’s intention, the civilization would have failed regardless of its premature destruction. Several fragments have developed into alternate forms, aping the appearance of human women and acting as more independent agents. These “children of Dark” as they are called still hunger for yet more powerful souls, though their natures are tempered by their individual personalities. Each child is labeled an “apostle” (使徒) of some feeling, indicating that their personal identities are entirely constructed around these singular wills. Naturally, such simplistic wills are elements of Manus’ character, with the description for Recollection implying that the children still retain his memories to draw upon — even the name more literally means “Pursuing Memory” (追憶) in reference to the sorcerer’s Pursuers spell. After taking form, each left the other fragments and set out on their own, having always to journey back to the Drangleic continent from elsewhere.

One who seeks fire. Another one pays for its works. The former Master of the Abyss, humanity incarnate. They are his vestiges… An Abyss once took form, was eventually destroyed… and merely left fragments of itself. Those things nevertheless just want power. They eternally spread Dark…

Hex that the children of Dark brought about. Fires many dark orbs that pursue.

The arts that allow Dark to have a temporary will have existed since long ago, but their creator exists in the recollections of the children of Dark even now.

Wherever each went off to, we can infer that they were probably draining powerful men of their souls whenever encountered. Indeed, that is core to their existence, and in more ways than one. Like Artorias in DS1, the children of Dark possess souls with white cores corrupted by the Abyss, only their size and shape more closely resemble Lord Souls. Aside from making their power comparable to that of the Lords, this would imply that the Dark elements are the original aspects of the apostles while the non-Dark elements are all the souls they have collected and still failed to completely devour, biting onto more than they can chew — in other words, captured power which they could still take time to fully assimilate. Purely in terms of proportions, their essence is arguably just as non-Dark, which may be why the children always take on the human female form; the original owners of the souls these fragments bite onto become the basis for hiding their monstrosity.

Normal and corrupted boss soul (left) compared to Lord Soul and soul of Dark apostle (right)

Regardless, the Dark is still the dominant element of the children. Each apostle’s true form, when revealed, consistently manifests traits consistent with the Abyss. In the case of Nashandra specifically, we can see various human skeletons decorate her otherwise alien body, perhaps a manifestation of the various souls she has consumed. The children’s attacks are also exclusively Dark in nature, the closest example to the contrary being black flames. Whatever spells can be derived from their souls are likewise always related to the Dark, with their derivative weapons usually bearing a similar affinity. These women are all products of the Abyss through and through, Vendrick confirming that they spread Dark just as well as any corrupted creature. That shadowy footprint might even be larger than first impressions might intuit.

As far as New World history is concerned, Gilleah is the founder of hexing, “dark arts” (闇術) in the same vein that sorcery is “magic arts” and pyromancy is “spell arts”. These hexes combine the principles to both sorcery and miracles to formulate their spell texts, making them somewhat akin to pyromancy. This results in most hexes requiring either a staff or holy bell as a catalyst, with some combination of faith and intelligence to actually cast. (fittingly, Dark Souls III adds such stat requirements to pyromancies) In the case of Gilleah, he primarily recreated Manus’ old sorceries like Dark Hail and Dark Orb, though the description of the hexer’s hood proclaims the process behind this to be a mystery. After all, if the man had any copies of the ancient Oolacilian sorcerer’s spells to work with, surely he would have simply studied them as sorcery. Instead, Gilleah seems to have taken aspects of the sorcery then filled the gaps with the power of conviction. Why?

Hex that Gilleah, who is considered the founder of hexing, created from an old sorcery. Fires heavy dark orb.

In order to use hexes, it is required to equip a staff or holy bell and memorize hexes at a bonfire. The equipment required depends on the art.

Hex that the hexer Gilleah created from an old sorcery. Fires many dark orbs.

Hexes are said to have originally been a form of sorcery and miracles. However, they are considered things which create distortions in the logic of life and currently considered taboo in many countries.

Hood of a hexer. Slightly increases spell usage. Personal effect of Felkin the Excommunicated.

It is said that hexes were originally a form of sorcery. But the process for them coming into existence is unclear.

Another stated curiosity is how the founder’s work has lived on when he took on zero apprentices. In short, Gilleah may have been a known hexer, but he didn’t share his secrets. The dark arts should have disappeared with his death. Instead, we see his spells, even those related to Manus, seemingly reinvented independently in various instances throughout the history of Drangliec and possibly beyond. The earliest example is Heide. Aside from the Dark power provided to the Old Dragonslayer, one of the skeletons buried in the Grave of Saints carries the text for Whisper of Despair, implying that some curious clergy explored heresy. Straid is another example. Among the sorcerer’s spells to teach is Affinity, a hex with the same Japanese name as the “Pursuers” sorcery from DS1 — even the two’s descriptions largely mirror each other. This implies that the magical genius reinvented the pinnacle of Manus’ sorcery as a hex.

Hex that gives distortions to the surrounding air. Negates all damage for only an instant.

Without even a single apprentice to the hexer Gilleah, the details for how those arts were imparted are enigmatically hidden. Or maybe the arts of Dark were born from somewhere else.

Superior hex created from an old sorcery. The Dark created continually pursues its target as if it possesses a will.

It is like a mass of some sentiment. It may be wrath, or possibly love.

However, the description for Repel alludes to the actual source of hexing: the humanity within all of mankind. It is only because we bear dark souls that the sorcery aspects of hexing are possible, allowing others to recreate Gilleah’s hexes all on their own. Both Whisper of Despair and Abyss Seal allude to the Dark bringing man peace despite their fear of it. Once they know calm from the chaos of life, their fears will inevitably acclimate to the comfort. After that, they are sure to notice new things about both the darkness and themselves in the quiet. And as Felkin stutters out, that yearning experience with the Dark so close to home will carry them them the rest of the way. This makes the father of hexing more the inspiration for later hexers than a teacher of a new school of thought.

Hex that fires “speaking dark”. The dark whispers words of disappointment and reduces an enemy’s defense power.

What the Dark brings is dark. But it is something peaceful and calm.

W-Why I was t-taken with the Dark…? That… I do not know. They’re not s-simply arts which have t-turned to skills. Intimacy… warmness… nostalgia, a-as if known to anyone. One who knows the Dark… e-experiences that. And then… they don’t w-want to go back.

This brings us back to the question of why Gilleah was the first to discover the Dark within himself, at least in relatively recent history. What circumstances could have possibly put him in the unique position to discover it? The obvious answer would be the introduction of Manus’ vestiges into his part of the world. Heiden clergy knowing Whisper of Despair affirms a link between hexes and the fragments of the Abyss the civilization investigated. Therefore, Gilleah’s own invention of hexing had likely involved contact with those Dark pieces. In that case, the fragment which he is most likely to have randomly crossed paths with is one of the children of Dark wandering the lands. The children recollect Manus’ magic and don’t hesitate to flaunt it, providing Gilleah the impetus to recreate their “father’s” sorcery as hexes much like how the father of hexing later would do for others.

Simply put, hexing is another manner in which Manus’ so-called children are spreading the Dark, whether intentional on their part or not. Their influence is not without resistance, of course. Due to the way the Dark twists life as modern man knows it, most countries ban the practice of dark arts regardless of religious affiliation or fervor. Even if the New World isn’t incredibly familiar with souls, it still can recognize how spells like Resonant Soul seemingly drain life from the caster, with the “Climax” of these kind of hexes absolutely exhausting such life force. Other kinds of hexes like Dead Again aren’t much better — turning bodies of the deceased into essentially landmines in black flames shows an obvious disregard for human dignity. Any nation with scruples is going to learn toward labeling hexers inherently dangerous at best if not downright evil. The practice thus marks them as criminals, worthy of the death penalty in Navlaan’s case. Even so, not all countries apparently prohibit the dark arts, and a few individuals do embrace them.

Hex that twists the power of life. Fires Dark in exchange for a fixed number of souls.

Can be used without possessing souls. However, its might falls to the extreme.

Hex that is cast on lifeless corpses and explodes in dark flames.

This art that mocks life is especially abhorrent even among hexes.

The o-origins of hexes goes back to very long ago. Originally they were a p-part of sorcery. Once, t-they were temporarily lost, and someone revived them. Those who s-studied the Dark are few. But, t-they devoted their entire lives to t-this. T-This is that sort of thing.

Robe of a hexer. Personal effect of Felkin the Excommunicated.

It is said that those who have acquired the power of Dark become deeply involved in it and never return. There is something there that is difficult to describe, which appeals to the depths of man.

As mentioned earlier, these hexers cannot go back now that they have experienced the Abyss, no matter the dangers are to themselves. Because of how integral dark souls are to the human condition, they struggle to explain their fascination, but Grandahl seems to frame it best: the universe as we know it was born from the Dark at the advent of fire. This implicitly makes the Dark arguably the most profound force for man to understand, especially considering how core it is to humans specifically. This is what has led hexers like Felkin and Grandahl to Drangleic, sensing the Abyss scattered across in pieces across the land. This led to the creation of the Pilgrims of Dark covenant which Grandahl currently oversees, each pilgrim diving into the chasms to explore the full depths of the Dark within Manus and thereby themselves. As the covenant ring’s life-draining boost to hexes indicates, this is not without its dangers, but hexers are more than willing to indulge the risk.

I knew it, my eyes weren’t mistaken. You are undoubtedly one surrounded with Dark. Among the Dark, there is still a Dark you don’t know. For the dark is the mother of the world, and all is born from the Dark.

This country is a place c-closest to the Dark. T-That’s why I came here. This country’s already l-long been destroyed. U-Undead and Hollows… those are the r-residents of this country. Or maybe like me… o-owners of lowly reasons?

Ring of covenantors of the Pilgrims of Dark. Has effect that boosts the attack power of hexes but decreases HP when using hexes.

What is the Dark? Or perhaps it is known by anyone. Even though man fears the Dark, they find peace there. Those who made the covenant can see the hidden Dark Hole.

Based on the Archdrake Chime and Staff he has for sale, Felkin was originally clergy from the Lindelt Holy Temple with already a heretical streak practicing sorcery. This hypocrisy is likely the crack which allowed hexing to seep in and consume his life, and his possession of a Ring of Life Protection — a holy band functioning identical to Velka’s Rings of Sacrifice — only reinforces the implication. His title as the Outcast, or rather “Excommunicated”, (破門) indicates that his heresy was eventually discovered and had him cast out from the temple, but Felkin himself acknowledges that he didn’t actually become cognizant of the Dark until after studying sorcery and pyromancy at Melfia. In the end, hexes were the only arts which could satisfy him, and spells like Resonant Flesh show just how willing Felkin is to combine his knowledge of miracles with his study of the Dark. But as the description to this soul-sucking healing spell notes, gaining something often means losing something else.

Hex that the hexer Felkin himself created. Converts a fixed number of souls into HP for a short time.

To gain something, one is usually forced to lose something else.

Felkin has a peculiar stutter to his speech. The man isn’t shy to talk about what he loves and reveals no history of personal trauma or the like, so this is probably less a personality quirk and more a disability. In that case, he was either born with this handicap or suffered some damage — physical or spiritual. And with Resonant Flesh in mind, the cause is likely to be the dark arts he adores so much. While game mechanics only ever have us use the ownerless souls we collect as currency, there is no limiting factor to what souls the Resonant hexes, among others, can drain from the body, so experimenting with such magic can mean siphoning off parts of your own soul. Therefore, Felkin’s own attempts to fashion a spell that restores the body via souls might have ended up damaging his instead. Impairing the brain or the mind behind it would justify his struggle in verbal communication, but if so, Felkin remains undeterred. Even in death, Manus has left his mark on this world, and hexers prove it to be a difficult thing to rub out.