Tseldora


Preface


I have no fond memories of Tseldora, but I could say that for the entirety of Dark Souls II. What surprises me is that I found a lot more to like when finally committing to this analysis. Part of this is thanks to my love for Seath as a character, but he is just one part of the bigger narrative. There are layers to Tseldora that are easy to overlook, conveyed by little details which are absent from so many of the other areas in the game. I would be remiss to say that this feel likes a real place versus another map in a game world, but it might be the closest the game ever gets.


Stone Rush


When we first enter Brightstone Cove Tseldora, we come upon a “royal soldier encampment” (王兵の野営地) just outside of town. While there are training busts of the Drangleic kingdom’s soldiers in the tents, the actual camp is patrolled by Volgen Falconers. Nonetheless, the mercenaries were hired by Drangleic during the war with the giants. The spiders in town can likewise drop the Mastadon Greatsword, implying Drangleic’s beastmen knights to have also been in the area. We can thus be certain that Tseldora was another part of the kingdom. In fact, the military presence suggests that this settlement on the country’s eastern fringe was of strategic importance. Considering that it mined brightstone, it would certainly have been a military asset. But this wasn’t always the case.

While the English description for the Brightstone Cove Key claims that the town was “built” on mining the stuff, the Japanese text isn’t so specific. The Tseldora Den Key likewise labels the residents as ignorant of Seath’s works when they came to this land. Rather, it looks like the earth was originally being dug up for farming. Most of the area’s Hollows are peasants wearing simple clothes designed for long work days in the fields under an overbearing sun, with both farming scythes and pickaxes among their possible weapons. Cow bones can similarly be found around town, while pigs are kept in camp. One peasant even invades us in town bearing the Porcine Shield — its pig face isn’t genuine, but the Japanese name highlights the animal’s role as a “slave beast” (隷獣) for humans. In other words, crops were being reaped and livestock were being raised by the residents of Tseldora. It was only later that the town discovered the magic minerals, thereupon transitioning many of its farmworkers to miners. Before that, it was just another farming village, though perhaps poorer than most.

Common hood that peasants wore.

It merely protect against the sun’s rays, so it is fine for field work but is unfit for combat.


Common tunic that peasants wore.

It is no more than work clothes, so it is fine for field work but is unfit for combat.

Close inspection of the camp reveals a stone well, building, and walls unlike the wood and cloth military infrastructure. By all appearances, the army took over someone’s property to use as their base of operations. Based on the layout and pigs, it was someone’s farmstead, representative of the land the serfs worked. And beneath that top layer of grass, the land looks incredibly arid. Rock and sand characterize the cove below, the latter piling up inside buildings or collapsing the foundation into sinkholes. The place is also home to an entire new species of basilisk, adapted to live there when the creature normally prefers wetter habitats — its comically oversized fake eyes have shrunk so it can better hide in the sand, choosing to ambush rather than disarm prey. There is clearly only so much you can till before needing to look for richer soil, and that might have incentivized the locals to dig deeper in hopes for finding it. Instead, they came upon remnants of Olaphis and the brightstone the old country itself once mined. It wasn’t fertile soil, but it still made the town of “Jeldora” (ジェルドラ) very, very rich.

The territory was governed by a duke, with the town itself named after him given that an adjoining area is dubbed “Duke Jeldora’s Hidden Room”. (ジェルドラ公の隠し部屋) He thus must have been present for this discovery and made sure to take credit. The largest building in town lies at the heart of the brightstone mines, with a locked door which requires a key to access. This key is acquired from the lone Hollow in the duke’s hidden room, dressed in the clothes of a Tseldoran citizen. We can therefore safely assume this Undead to be the Duke Tseldora. And since we must pass through the building to even access his private chamber, it is most likely his personal mansion. In short, the duke positioned himself directly over the magic stones, thereby regulating access. Indeed, it was his land to govern worked by his serfs to lord, so anything they uncovered would naturally be his property to own. If anyone in the kingdom hoped to benefit from this find, he must be in on the deal.

The result was prosperity and splendor for the citizenry. Duke Tseldora wears expensive-looking attire denoting his fortune from brightstone according to the set’s original descriptions, and others allegedly wore such garb. These citizens must have been freemen different from the serfs still wearing work clothes. In all likelihood, they were the various staff working directly under the duke and so able to share a piece of his own enrichment. Some may have been serfs uplifted to freeman status by their lord for particularly hard work. Some may have been servants tasked to help oversee the mining operation on his behalf. Some may have simply been merchants migrating to provide essential goods and services. Whatever the case, the kingdom clearly paid good money for the mining and sale of brightstone, with the area hiding the most rusted coins for us to acquire besides Shulva. As the serfs dug into the land, the citizens used some of that cash to build new housing into the resulting cove for their burgeoning “brightstone town”. (輝石街) While the average residence might look rather plain in-game, they did spend it on luxuries.

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

Its design denotes the splendor of Jeldora, which once made a fortune with brightstone.

Many of the local chests are placed in small chambers hidden behind bookshelves and, occasionally, additional doors requiring a key. The Japanese text for the Tseldora Den Key confirms that these chambers are in fact “hideaways” (隠れ処) for the items being stored. What are these items? In the case of this key, the ornately decorated Engraved Gauntlets and the rusted coins. The chest locked away in the Duke’s mansion similarly contains the Black Knight Ultra Greatsword, with the area spiders carrying Ricard’s Rapier among various other weapons. Evidently, the citizens liked to use their wealth to collect weapons and armor, especially those with particularly intricate or flashy designs. The hideaways also demonstrate their protectiveness of their assets — the chest with the rusted coins is even booby-trapped. Considering that the bandit axe is another potential drop from the spiders, Tseldorans had good reason to fear thieves breaking in to steal them.

Key to open the hideaway of the Brightstone Town of Jeldora.

Jeldora is the land where the works of an Old One remain even now, and the fools who set foot in this land without knowing that ended up becoming wholly grotesque.

Their discovery of works from both Olaphis and Seath likewise seem to have stimulated an interest in magic. The duke’s hidden room was setup in the deepest parts of the unearthed underground ruins, complete with an extensive library and small replicas of magical devices seen from places related to Seath in DS1 or Aldia in this game. Stored with his Black Knight Ultra Greatsword is the text for Great Fireball and a fire seed. Another chest in town contains the text for Soul Vortex. The town itself has a number of Hollow sorcerers lurking around, using crude staves ornamented with rotting bat carcasses at the tip and carrying related sorcery items like skeptic’s spice or amber herbs. A corpse in the area possesses the more potent wilted dusk herb. The parasite spiders puppeteering other corpses can provide both the Tseldora set and the prism stones created by Seath. Add in the magic equipment connected to Olaphis in the area, and there was a thriving study of sorcery among Tseldora’s wealthy freemen.

The application of these studies, of course, came in the form of more economic enterprise. We can come across an artisan’s workshop in town, evidenced by the plethora of life-sized dolls. Slightly smaller models have been shelved with their chests cracked open and cores removed. Considering that Ornifex has taken a liking to this room in particular when deciding to set up shop in town, we can infer that the original owner also worked with souls. Therefore, the artisan seems to have been working on mass producing living dolls modeled on a woman, presumably to sell as maidservants. But the iteration process looks to have involved a solid material which needed to be crudely extracted, not just a soul. The obvious candidate would be brightstone, their inherent souls augmented by additional magic power. If they created a superior golem, Tseldora’s profits would surely skyrocket. There was money in magic, so it was in the citizens’ interest to obtain all the knowledge they could get, from every source possible.


Abyss of Knowledge


Atop the edge of the cove sits a chapel. Inside, the house of worship enshrines the statue of woman before the pews. The figure’s right hand holds up a book, associating her with knowledge. The left hand grasps what looks to be a lock of hair, perhaps cut from her own long tresses. She additionally wears a long robe. There is only one woman who meets all these criteria and would be worshiped in such a manner: Velka. The goddess is a lover of knowledge and magic polymath, known for keeping a record of sins called the Book of the Guilty in DS1. She was also known to provide her priests with talismans made from her own hair in that same game. While this statue fails to include any form of her iconic head covering, that might simply be to emphasize the witch’s role there, laying bear her magical secrets to share without restraint. In other words, she is the perfect subject of worship for the citizens who would be attending church services, looking to acquire new knowledge for sorcery. It also fits with her cult’s larger influence upon Drangleic religion.

Take, for example, Cromwell. The solemn man wears the black uniform of Velka’s priests and serves the same role: forgiving sins in exchange for souls as pardoner. The goddess wasn’t always his master, as he sells the white uniform of Drangleic priests as well as various miracles — including Perseverance, a spell given to clergy traveling abroad where they would benefit from the miracle’s protection against poisons and other dangerous status effects. The fact that these clergymen don’t often return brings Lecia to mind, but this spell is only sold by Cromwell. The man was evidently one such priest sent out to Drangleic where he has remained ever since. The fact that he is the only one to sell the unabridged story of Great Heal and the only other besides Targary to sell Heavenly Thunder suggests that he was quite the high-ranking cleric, too. His location at Tseldora’s chapel further indicates his membership to the local parish, hence wielding the same great scythe as the peasants.

It was as a Tseldoran pastor that Cromwell found his true calling. He sells all the bite rings originally created by Arstor, the shady earl of a shady nation that Velka had kept a firm presence in during the events of DS1. This connection also explains why he owns the Ring of Resistance. Having probably come across this Olaphis masterpiece in town, the man likely took it specifically because it boosts poison, bleeding, petrification, and curse resistance — the same four resistances that the three bite rings boosted in DS1. (petrification was originally part of the curse status) Moreover, the ring’s description calls these gemstones “blessed” unlike those of its counterpart, the Dispelling Ring. Their sacrality is presumably why Cromwell only gifts the ring to those with decently high faith, associating the magic power with his atypical deity. That it is called the “resister’s ring” (抵抗者の指輪) is almost too perfect.

As for laity, Duke Tseldora holds the Dark Quartz Ring currently created mainly at Melfia’s magic school, which didn’t exist during Drangleic’s era. Its crystal stone derived from the Dark must have come from a different source, and the duke just so happens to be standing on a land full of magic crystals and dark practitioners. Despite only standard casting soul sorcery, the white-robed Hollow sorcerers possess rouge and crimson waters associating them with less than holy magic. The pathogen-riddled bats on their staves too add a vaguely religious charm rather than a concrete enhancement to sorcery casting. This hints to the sorcerers flirting with the Dark powers of pagan faiths, whereas the hollowing curse inflicted by many of the peasants’ weapons showcases a more overt association. The same can be said for the mimic in the encampment securing both the Olaphis Staff and the dark leggings. Tseldora was dabbling in the Dark much like their goddess, as Cromwell exemplifies in selling his own dark troches along with the Scraps of Life hex. The witch of knowledge was also, naturally, dragging them toward sin.

It wasn’t as if the faith was completely corrupted by heresy. The Hollow priests in the chapel wear the standard white robes like Cromwell once had. The chest with Soul Vortex also contains the Cleric Axe. The Cleric’s Shield used by clergy traveling on pilgrimage is on a corpse in the chapel attic near, fittingly, Cromwell. A corpse with lightning urn can be looted near two sorcerers. We can even acquire holy water urns from a corpse at the bottom of the well in the camp. The latter possibly implies such blessed water once filled the well. It is positioned directly above the brightstone deposits, with DS1 implicating holy magic as a key component for Seath’s crystal research — the stones even glow white so common to holy magic. That sacred power may have thus seeped into the land’s water supply. Whether or not the peasants knew when first digging it, we do see water urns around the chapel, a large cluster kept in the corner by the Velka statue. Seeing the broken boxes indicative of human activity beneath these urns, there were some form of rituals involving water in this holy place dedicated to a heretical goddess.

There was evidently a diversity of thought in Tseldora, students of the gods, heretics, and academics. This breadth of interests matches Velka’s own. In the citizens’ case, however, it was likely driven by their greed. The updated description for the Tseldora Cap emphasizes how the brightstone enabling the citizens’ prosperity also “captured” them in an insatiable desire to acquire whatever they lacked. Shalquoir goes so far as to insinuate that they are possessed, though her following giggle and subsequent comparison to Seath’s own obsessiveness suggests that the cat isn’t being literal. Regardless, the flourishing town had clearly become obsessed with collecting all things, whether they be material or intellectual. As the description for the Tseldora Robe elucidates, they were bewitched by the beautiful, magical, stone they discovered, and so sought to have more like it. Of course, the parallels with the stones’ creator are obvious, and they would end just as tragically.

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

The citizens of Jeldora flourished due to the brightstone they acquired from the bottom of the land. They were captured by a desire that isn’t satisfied no matter how much prosperity is acquired, always searching for what they lacked.


Humans come to like strange things. Like they are possessed by something. Or perhaps they are possessed? Heheheh. Well, so it was with that ugly traitor. He couldn’t help wanting and wanting what others had. How ludicrous. Heheheh. That “crawler” seeks it even now. The thing he wants.


Mad and Mad


One day, Tseldora found itself swarmed by giant spiders. Considering the military encampment, this occurred during the height of the giant war. And from the amount of dead and Undead, the locals weren’t prepared for this kind of invasion. This was due in part to a lack of leadership. Instead of fulfilling his noblesse oblige, Duke Tseldora merely watched as his people were overwhelmed by the creatures. Not out of fear, but because he loved spiders, which is exhibited in the door designs in different parts of town. The “oddball” was so satisfied with this development that he didn’t care how they destroyed his economic future right before their eyes — in fairness, the giants may have already made profits the furthest thing from his mind. In the end, the peasants and citizens found themselves on their own against the horde. The corpses in town bearing the souls of knights and soldiers suggest that the camp made attempts to liberate the area from its arachnid occupiers — they failed. But that still leaves the question: where did all these spiders come from, and why attack only then?

Key to the Brightstone Town of Jeldora.

The “Duke” of Jeldora, who was known as an oddball that loved spiders, made a fortune mining brightstone, and the town prospered.

It is said that spiders occupied the town unawares, but he simply gazed at it with satisfaction.

The spiders are seemingly led by Freja, the largest among them whom the rest flee to and support during her boss battle. And as confirmed in the description for her soul, she has been possessed by Seath. This is presumably the reason why Freja is the only spider to have two heads, one on each end of her body; at any given time, one can be controlled directly by the soul haunting her. Possession by the founder of sorcery would also explain the blue magic beam she can shoot out of her mouths. This leaves no doubt that Seath is the one influencing Freja and so the other spiders by extension. Indeed, the enemy is officially named the “duke’s spider” (公の蜘蛛) when Seath held that noble title in life, so his command over them is guaranteed. Their association is likely also the cause for his alias.

Although “Writhing Ruin” is a bizarre choice of localization, the name does describe him as crawling or wriggling. Not only is this exactly how his original body moved in DS1, but it is also applicable to a spider. However, the subject in hau mushi (這う蟲) refers to a bug. And while Seath’s original form did include insectoid wings, its secondary meaning is more notable. The particular kanji is used in words related to temperament like “fascination”, (蠱惑) and colloquially refers to a single-minded person — apt for the obsessive Old One. And much how like the English “bug” is sometimes inexactly used for spiders, mushi was originally used for various small animals besides bugs like worms or lizards. In short, the alias is trying to invoke the image of creepy-crawlies and bewitchment present in both Seath and Freja. And their association has been the case well before this incident.

Despite being called scorpions, Tark and Najka look human above the waist. The former even implies that he was human and simply doesn’t remember, besides his name. Although his English dialogue claims the two speak a human tongue, the Japanese script is much vaguer. Attempts to talk to Tark normally result in his silent confusion, resulting in countless assuming him another monster and fleeing or trying to kill him. It is only when we wear the Ring of Whispers that communication is possible. This is because the ring allows the wearer to hear the voices of nearby “hearts” — in other words, the thoughts of souls are translated to ours telepathically. From his responses, he can understand our language perfectly fine, but it is impossible for him to physically utter it. This makes his transformation far more complicated than just making the bottom-half of a man an arachnid, as was the case with Quelaag and her sister in DS1. That human half does look to only be skin-deep upon closer inspection.

Nobody knows when we were born. Or even where Master is and what he is doing now. Although, there is no one decent able to talk except for myself and my better half.


Jet-black thrusting sword of Tark the Scorpion.

The scorpion-pincer like guard is chock full of poison, and the poison flows into the enemy’s body from the tip of the sword piercing it.

Who he was, he can’t remember. However, is there anyone who knows who they are entirely?


Ring that was worn by the explorer Rhoy. Equipper will hear the voices of the heart of surrounding enemies.

It is useful for sniffing out the presence of enemies in hiding, but there may be other uses as well.

Such a hybrid form can be traced to creation by Seath. Tark makes plain that his “master” is the old paledrake who created bizarre lifeforms after desperation for his missing stone scales drove him to insanity — even the scorpion’s Second Dragon Ring was likely only collected because it bears a white dragon insignia. Najka was similarly “influenced” by the old being’s works according to the Japanese text for her soul, and Tark believes that they are unable to kill each other due to those same works. True, Seath was doing research into bonding souls in DS1, so linking two subjects together would be a feasible experiment on his part. By making two souls effectively one but contained in separate bodies, there is essentially always one soul “alive” in a body when “it” kills “itself” in the other. This paradox seems to create a literal lifeline, inducing the shared life power to heal the damage rather than succumb to death. An outside force like us is thus required to sever the connection, like cutting off a limb from the whole.

We had a master. For we were all created by that being. There was something Master was born lacking. He sought what he was missing, envied others, resented them, constantly burned in hatred. That is said to have eventually induced Master to madness. For he bore strange life like us as a result of that madness.


We seem to be unable to kill each other. We cannot die from wounds caused by the other’s hand. If we are things born by Master’s madness, this work too might be the cause. If you are capable of it, then I will cooperate with you.

All of this is to say that they are the most informed on anything related to the Old One. So, when Tark says that he saw his master dwelling within the form of a spider, he is definitely referring to Freja. And considering that both scorpions hang around the Shaded Woods, we can assume that the forest is where he had spotted them. This is reinforced by the holes in Najka’s boss room, the same rock burrows that the spiders have made all around Tseldora. The copious amounts of sand also indicate that the two areas are close enough to share similar topography despite the Doors of Pharros separating them — admittedly, the latter is deep underground and so wouldn’t be representative of the land topside. In fact, this part of the Shaded Woods is probably another home for Seath’s works. Aside from the two scorpions, there is also a moonlit butterfly between them, just like in Tseldora. This isn’t surprising given that the Shaded Woods is a continuation of the Huntsman’s Copse on the official map for Drangleic. Nonetheless, it explains Seath’s soul lurking around there, and potentially his choice of host, too.

Estimated area of sandy terrain from Shaded Woods to Tseldora

Long ago, there was a being with power resembling ours here. That being lodged in the form of a spider. It disappeared before I knew it, but where did it go? Perhaps that being was induced to madness again.

Did a bunch of spiders just happen to be residing in the same area as Seath’s other works? Moreover, is it a coincidence that the paledrake turned men into arachnids only to later possess one himself? Or, were these spiders — like the moonlit butterflies — more creations of Seath or distant descendants of them? Arachnids are known for their exoskeleton, a hard outer shell much like Seath’s long-sought-after stone scaley hide. In that case, making Tark and Najka into poisonous scorpions could have been part of research into producing such hard shells, which he hoped would carry over into his crystallization method. If so, then wouldn’t creating an entire species of arachnids also fit into that paradigm? And when his soul later came across them while searching through the vestiges of his old property, it would both recognize its own handiwork and how to make use of them. Put simply, the mad soul gravitated toward the spiders because they were easy for Seath to control and it knew it. But even if the duke’s spiders are another of his byproducts, that still doesn’t explain why he directed them toward Tseldora.

Some fans have pinned the blame on Najka. The scorpion woman has been Tark’s lifelong companion and spouse. Even if they were only initially paired because of their bond, their lack of human memories left them with only each other; sticking together and forming deep emotional attachments is to be expected. But Najka started losing even that last shred of humanity, going on wild rampages before eventually attacking even her beloved. The two have been continually at odds ever since, where he discovered their peculiar bond maintaining the stalemate. This bout of madness isn’t random. Najka alone casts both regular and crystallized soul sorcery when she wields a spear, no magic catalyst. Straid likewise derives Soul Shower from her essence. This suggests that Seath had tinkered with her more than Tark, which might result in greater instability long-term. And now that she has finally lost her reason, she lurks in the sandy cavern where the spiders once burrowed. It is thus postulated that she drove them out.

I have a favor to ask of you. Could you kill my better half? She was always with me. But, she began to go nuts at some point. She became unreasonable and ferocious, started to rampage. And then she attacked even me. I have been in continual battle with her ever since. Again and again…

However, Tark only says that Freja seemed to disappear without his notice, expressing ignorance on his master’s current whereabouts and actions. Najka may just as well have simply moved into an empty and long abandoned dwelling, perhaps even instinctively sensing some remnants of her master’s presence to draw her there. Whatever the case, Tark instead suspects that Seath falling back into madness is the reason for this disappearance. In that case, coming to Tseldora would have to relate to his pursuit of stone scales. And what do we find beyond the duke’s manor but a stone-scaled archdragon corpse dredged up from the depths by her web. Seath has clearly taken a great interest in the beast, and the spiders are using it as a refuge — we see the fleeing arachnids all crawl into the dragon’s throat before the boss crawls down to battle. In that case, the cadaver is the most likely reason for the spiders invading town. As to why only come after it at that particular time, it might not have been available before then.

In other words, Tseldora probably only just unearthed the cadaver while digging for more brightstone. We do find a petrified dragon bone in town, so the mining operation has in all likelihood dug up fossilized dragon remains before — perhaps it is even the source for the others found throughout Drangleic territory. The location of the duke’s private chamber similarly necessitates the room be built only after excavation reached that far down. This means that his interest in magical apparatus, including Seath’s devices, started right when they were approaching the level where the archdragon corpse was discovered. Factor in the sheer extent of the library, and it is obvious that Duke Tseldora only became curious about his fellow duke’s works — besides brightstone — after finding more mysterious relics of his this deep down. And with the archdragon found only a little ways deeper, one has to wonder if the corpse isn’t just the latest of these relics.

Indeed, the archdragon’s body is uncharacteristically well-preserved. Normally, buried within the earth are, at most, skeletons, such as the one in Black Gulch. Moreover, the dragon zombies from DS1 already established that dead archdragons rot after “death” the same as mortal life even with their souls. So then, why is this soulless archdragon still perfectly intact after millennia have passed? What is an immortal last seen dead in the Lower World after the dragon hunts of old now doing in the land where Seath’s works dwell? Why didn’t Anor Londo claim its head and toss the rest to Izalith as was the case for its brethren? All of this would be explained if the corpse had been collected by Seath first. The paledrake would naturally want a specimen to reference for his research, and magic could theoretically preserve it long after these studies had ended. Said magic might also make it detectable to the caster once it had been disturbed from its long dormancy. In short, the Old One’s soul sensed his old specimen being unburied nearby and led a crusade to claim it.

And so, as the Tseldora Robe description says, brightstone and the obsession for more it brought ultimately doomed the citizenry. For Duke Tseldora watching from the sidelines, the weapons derived from Freja’s soul claim that he at some point disappeared to somewhere, presumably his hidden room where we find his Hollow. And given the source of this information, it likely had to do with Freja. Close inspection of the private chamber does reveal a small cage hanging above the duke’s desk, its bars twisted out and apart. Whatever occupied the cage clearly broke out, and the best candidate is Freja. After all, the boss is named the “Duke’s Freidia”, (公のフレイディア) and Seath has no reason to name his host. Duke Tseldora more than likely spied the peculiar spider seemingly leading the others during his fervent observation. In typical Tseldoran greed, the spider-lover captured the unique arachnid and whisked her away to his hidden chamber where he could continue his magic research with his new pet “Freja”.

Curved sword created from the soul of the Duke’s Freidia. Sticky threads cling to the blade. Can discharge the threads and slow enemy action speed with its strong attack.

The man who was called “Duke” and was partial to spiders eventually disappeared to somewhere.

This implies that the spider was, at the time, incredibly small and weak despite Seath’s soul possessing it — they are ultimately separate beings. However, something changed that caused the spider to force her way out, possibly with added help from her possessor. In all probability, it was an experiment gone wrong. The duke’s Hollow also carries a Fragrant Branch of Yore. The wood’s fragrance induces memory recollection, so the duke may have suspected a connection between Freja and the old white being whose works he had been studying down there; the branch would draw out the memories to maybe prove that theory. However, a byproduct of stimulating memories in the soul is reversing petrification — and taking away stone from the body is the exact opposite of Seath’s desire. If only on instinct, the Old One induced its host into a frenzy, breaking the physical limits needed to escape the cage, kill the duke, and reclaim his prized archdragon specimen. It was then time to recommence the experiments.

Old and updated item descriptions make a point of the townsfolk transforming into “grotesque” forms, the same term used to describe the land where Najka resides in the Japanese description for her soul. Since Najka lives in the spiders’ old burrows, the Tseldorans must have likewise been “burrowed” into, and the aforementioned parasite spiders fit the bill. But why have the spiders dug their legs into the citizens’ corpses to control their movements? Considering that the few we encounter are near or within the duke’s mansion, probably to bring them to Freja. Her boss room is littered with human and cattle bones, and the text for her soul notes her to be acquiring “warped” souls “overflowing” in this land. What souls would these be except the Tseldorans, twisted by greed which fattened them up on luxurious diets? Freja is devouring all the souls in town to grow in strength, and in size by extension. The duke was likely her first soul — he hasn’t been reduced to bones but he looks to have hollowed straight away. Since then, she has had her peons bring more to feed on while she dragged up the archdragon.

Soul of Najka the Scorpion who lives in a grotesque land.

Najka, who was influenced by the works of an Old One, lost even what was faintly left and was driven mad.

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


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

The crawler is an Old One that scattered its works in this land. It first possessed a mere insect, then acquired the warped souls overflowing in this land and grew its power.

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

All of this must be done under the influence of Seath, and the only reason would be as part of a new attempt to give himself stone scales via his host. One might question why the disembodied soul doesn’t simply inhabit the archdragon corpse itself and control it directly, but as Tark points out, he has gone mad. The lonely soul is so obsessed with transforming “its” body into a stone dragon that the simpler solution never even occurs to it. Seath had everything — family, wealth, status, connections — and he threw it all away because of this fixation born of petty insecurity. Even in death, we don’t automatically collect Freja’s soul like most bosses but need to pick it up from beneath the archdragon corpse. Return later and we will find that the same spot has formed a massive crystal, which serves as the source for the “memory of the archdragon” (古竜の記憶) guiding our time travel to just before the body was collected from the battlefield. Seath still tries to use Freja even after she herself has lost a body. And as Tark suspects, losing even her soul won’t stop him from restarting this cycle of insanity in a new form all over again.

Master was probably always lonely. And that loneliness killed his reason. How pitiful. For Master ultimately never noticed. What was it that he actually lacked?


You defeated my master? Superb skill. He probably won’t end but will change his form and go mad from anguish again and again. Human, your journey too ought to be filled with hardships. Takes this. I pray there be joy at the end of your journey.

The scorpion man has no tolerance to slaves of madness, whether it be his spouse or us. Experience with his master presumably informed that perspective. The disembodied white dragon no longer even has a scaleless dilemma. He is dead, his “imperfect” body has long since rotted. But still he persists in this foolish endeavor. One can argue that the other Old Ones are afflicted by the same irrationality then, but outside Gwyn’s obsession with keeping flame alive, neither Nito nor Izalith are pursuing the exact same goals as they had in life — though they are, of course, motivated by their life experience. Seath is simply retreading the same failures over and over, dragging countless others into his insanity in the process. How many more lives must share in his ruin? When you are beyond saving, putting a final stop to your writhing might be the real mercy, for everyone involved.

Have you been captured by madness, too!? There will be no mercy to those who have lost their sanity.


Breakdown


Even though the spiders have now long occupied the land, the struggle with the locals seems to be ongoing. Various pyres burning human bodies dot the area. With the spiders afraid to approach flaming sconces, this is presumably to prevent more corpses from being parasitized, which itself proves that someone is still around. This may be the work of the Hollow sorcerers remaining in town with the spiders, but their white robes might signal that they instead recognize the arachnids’ true master and have switched allegiances. Alternatively, it is the work of some of the peasants. We find several mindless Hollows working the mines in the middle of spider territory, apparently ignored for lacking sufficient souls. But a few more can be found at the mouth of Freja’s web-covered lair in the deepest recesses of the duke’s ruined mansion, armed with torches. Combined with the nearby corpse carrying corrosive urns, and we can infer that at least one small group of serfs tried dissolving the webbing. Otherwise, the peasantry seems to have abandoned the town to its fate.

The armed Hollows have grouped up atop the cove, boulder traps set up along the road between town and the royal soldier encampment. The camp’s defensive emplacements filling the gaps between the walls likewise have arrows lodged in them, indicating conflict with outside people rather than spiders or even giants. Indeed, more human pyres have been lit in the middle of camp, one Volgen Falconer overseeing the bodies burn. And in one corner, we see a lone peasant “tilling” the earth, surrounded by the bodies of — going by their souls — a knight and soldiers. Taken together, there has been a violent struggle between the army and farmers as of late. The reason is easy enough to surmise.

As noted earlier, Drangleic’s forces have failed to liberate the mining town, so the serfs probably wanted to return to their farms. Only one problem: the soldiers are occupying their land. As noted earlier, the camp was set up on a farmstead, that one farmer in the corner possibly the owner. This portion of the area likely serves as a stand-in for the broader farmland, along with the exit to the wider world. In other words, the encampment is blockading the peasantry from moving on with their now cursed lives, and they evidently weren’t budging. Caught between a rock and a hard place, it is easy to imagine the survivors banding together to challenge the army. And in the end, all the royal soldiers and knights are dead, with their elite mercenaries Hollows. The peasants themselves have also all hollowed, so there have been no victors on either side of this struggle.

Meanwhile, one of Aldia’s warlocks has come to town. Given the area’s ties to both Seath and Olaphis, it is no surprise to see one of these magical experts wandering the continent for research visit. But the prowling magus hasn’t simply headed down to investigate old magic relics knee-deep in dangerous spider territory. Rather, he has taken on the role of preacher. The boss for Tseldora’s chapel is the “wandering warlock and devotees”, (彷徨い術士と信心者たち) the sorcerer flanked by two Hollow priests as they face more generic Hollows prostrating themselves on the floor in obvious worship. As a practitioner of dark magic, the warlock has naturally become subject to veneration by the adherents of Velka, something he seems more than happy to indulge. Perhaps it is simply enjoying a power fantasy, or perhaps there is a larger plan at play. It is suspicious that we fight through the peasants to enter the back way into the chapel, where we intrude upon a congregation not even using the pews in front of them. Maybe the warlock has been pushing the survivors to go out and fight the army?

Whatever the case, Cromwell has wanted nothing to do with it. We find him alone in the attic, though the corpses of clergy and possible other worshipers suggest that he was part of a group. The fact that they are dead, presumably killed by the surrounding spiders, while Cromwell still lives with nothing to say about it is suspicious in its own right. One possibility is that his overt affiliation to Velka allowed him to be spared. The spiders are ultimately tied to Seath, and the priest’s uniform contained his Goddess of Sin’s power in DS1. In that case, sensing that power may be what has kept Cromwell alive and unafraid despite these grim circumstances. Either way, he is continuing with his duties as a pardoner, unconcerned with the warlock below. That might be sagacity on his part. Looking at the bigger picture, Velka is the one who has gotten the most out of this whole sorry affair.