Adding yet another parallel between Lothric and Demon’s SoulsBoletaria, our path to the royal holed up in the castle’s tallest tower is blocked by a trio of warriors. Of the three, the Lion Knight Albert is the most mysterious. He is positioned to defend the Twin Princes yet bears the armor and moniker of knights serving the long-dead nation of Forossa, Moreover, our first encounter can be in the city below, his summon sign left in the church plaza. As a phantom, he will cooperate up until we defeat Vordt, using an Estus Flask or a Black Separation Crystal as necessary. From this, we might conclude that he is Undead and thus feasibly a surviving Forossan who has ended up in Lothric’s employ after exile from his homeland. At the same time, it is unimaginable for a human kingdom like Lothric to accept such a hazard, especially one so close to royalty. However, this read of the evidence is lacking.

True, black crystals are provided to Undead to signify the final farewell when banished from home, but this implies that the banishers keep a supply of such crystals for the occasion. Moreover, the Undead Settlement proves that Lothric exiles its own cursed, so it may participate in this black crystal practice. The same can be said for White Sign Soapstones, which we can only acquire from the shrine handmaid and so must be available to Lothric. We likewise see plenty of Hollow soldiers and knights within the kingdom’s walls utilize Estus Flasks despite their relatively recent deaths in the midst of an ongoing civil war. In other words, there must be an abundance of these Undead treasures for the army to plunder on hand, which makes sense considering their veneration of even the smallest shards of flask. Taken together, the Lion Knight could have easily just taken all these items out from the castle ordinance.

Put simply, there is plenty of room for Albert to not be Undead, just making use of their favorite items. Even if he is Undead, it may only be a result of the current conflict. In that case, he is far less likely to be an ancient Forossan versus a native citizen of Lothric. Indeed, he wields the greataxe preferred by the heftier kingdom soldiers, which also exhibits his own above-average strength for a warrior. The Faraam set can be another provision from his country. Lothric’s original lion motif already demonstrates influence from Forossa, which worshiped the same war god by another name. And if the early kingdom did recognize the connection, collecting armor engraved with the image of Gwyn’s dragonslaying firstborn would be a matter of course. That Albert can don such unique armor of cultural import therefore suggests he be a knight of considerable rank. Given the blue cloth accessories, perhaps the armor is bestowed solely for the captain of the royal guard. The Lion Knight is the first in the line of knights in blue with undying loyalty to the Twin Princes, so this can at least apply to the prince’s guard.

If Albert is just your typical Lothric knight who rose through the ranks and swore to faithfully serve the royals he was charged with protecting, then he truly possesses the resolve worthy of his occupation. The Twin Princes are overtly acting against the state religion yet he and the rest in their guard remain steadfast behind them — or rather, in front of them. If Kriemhild, Kamui, and Emma represent support from the Scholar, Hunter, and High Priestess, then Albert embodies backing from the Knight. This puts factions within each of the kingdom’s Pillars united behind its de facto ruler during the current crisis. To achieve such solidarity, the Lion Knight must put loyalty over logic; there is no national interest in sitting back and letting Lothric burn, as it were. Whatever the other Pillars’ motives, if his princes wish to have no audience, then he and his men will act as their wall.

Such unwavering dedication to duty begs the question of which prince has his particular fealty. The knight may have been able to act as both their bodyguards when they were babes, but each royal grew up to live very different lives. One became a knight who fought in foreign wars, so Albert may have been a regular comrade and even something of a friend to Prince Lorian. The other became an invalid confined to his bed, so Albert may have been a constant concerned busybody for Prince Lothric. Since he wields the Golden Wing Crest Shield designed to parry spells, the knight may have been particularly watchful of the boys’ sorcerer tutors whom the sickly prince would be seeing much more often. At the very least, Albert would have had to split his time protecting each prince depending on the circumstance if he was to continue safeguarding them both. But in the end, the Twin Princes never forced him to choose between them. Serving Prince Lothric does serve them both.

In that case, why he is so willing to cooperate with us is obvious. Albert only uses the Black Separation Crystal in the event that we kill Emma. The knight might have personal affinity for the woman — as noted before, his shield suggests some relation with the Way of Blue’s defenders, and like his armor, the ranking knight could only acquire it from the government. But she is primarily a close ally to Prince Lothric and, currently, directing his would-be slayers to the outside world through Vordt. Albert is thus helping facilitate her efforts. His first duty is to the prince, so the bodyguard only leaves a summon sign before returning to the castle. This also leaves him unable to protect the High Priestess, but a subordinate had already been assigned that task. The Lion Knight could therefore be confident that she would fulfill her duty without likely harm from the unkindled they were fooling. But once an unkindled reveals the intention to ignore her advice and infiltrate the castle, he can no longer feign the friendly help. Albert knows our path ends at Prince Lothric, and he needs to be ready to cross it.