Great Swamp

The Great Swamp is as accurate a place name as ever. Its residents are still forced to constantly trudge around hazardous marshland on foot, wielding hand axes to help cut through the thick foliage while also dealing with the various fauna. For example, the pyromancer set wears a grey fur pelt as a shawl, and some pyromancers instead wield the poisonous Spotted Whip derived from the Demon of Song in Dark Souls II. These are undoubtedly products of deadly creatures native to the Great Swamp. The description for the Caduceus Shield similarly confirms that the old symbol emblazoned on its face depicts another of these threats. As odd as twin snakes conjoined at the neck might seem, it wouldn’t be out of place there. The Great Swamp face option still notes the land to be home to those with atypical faces, though this latest iteration acknowledges the prejudice they suffered before coming to a remote wetland may just be because they are that ugly. Either way, these heretics in appearance are still wholeheartedly embraced by heretics in practice: the pyromancers.

Whip with a venomous spot pattern. It is said that some female pyromancers of the Great Swamp favor it.

Deals damage accompanied by poison just like it looks and slowly leads the enemy to death.

Different Appearance of the Great Swamp

Atypical face differing from others. Or possibly an ugly face. Prejudice gives birth to heresy and heresy travels to the Great Swamp.

Fans of the original Dark Souls (DS1) will find the pyromancers no less familiar. They continue to exist as close to the life in nature as possible, the Pyromancy Crown merely attaching animal bone to a leather headband. Their “primitive” ways have survived, of course, thanks to the uninterrupted lineage of pyromancers passing along their flames from master to apprentice. The flame yet starts with arts like Combustion and Fireball, the former so basic it is now a Skill inherent to the Pyromancy Flame. It is as much a religion as a magic discipline. Although they do compile tomes for relatively quick and straightforward lessons on advanced texts, masters prefer the experience of long, hard training, to stimulate the students’ bodies as much as their minds; put them in the moment and thus more in tune with life. All this because harmony with life will make them less vulnerable to fire’s touch, even if only supposedly. Conversely, they adorn their garb in copper amulets to ward off the evil Dark of similar heretics, though the metal does little more than oxidize green in their humid environment.

Oh, if you want to learn superior pyromancies, you’ll need a pyromancy book. Heretical, but it’d be the quickest way. If this were the Great Swamp and you had the time, rigorous training would’ve sufficed. Hahahahaha.

Apparel of Cornyx, pyromancer of the Great Swamp.

They are decorated with green copper ornaments that serve as amulets.

Naturally, this all remains traceable to Izalith. Every pyromancer grew up hearing tale of the witches who first taught them the longing for fire, a sentiment every pyromancer intuitively understands after seeing flashier spells like Fire Orb in action. But they also taught them to fear flame, and so pyromancy balances intelligence with faith. The Witch of Izalith and her daughters are revered as gods, the Spotted Whip finding currency among female pyromancers implicitly because of the fire whips wielded by the eldest daughters; even the men sometimes wear long, black, gold-hemmed skirts to emulate the witches. Both sexes also whittle salamander bones into rings, mirroring how chaos demons made weapons from their kindred. Indeed, the local beasts are believed to be descendants of the beings born of chaos flame, and the rings do prove the power to improve pyromancy exists in their being at least. This “flame lizard” is different from those encountered in Dark Souls II, hitokage (火蜥蜴) versus honotokage (炎トカゲ) implicating the former as formal and the latter as descriptive. A connection to Izalith is possible.

Apparel of Cornyx, pyromancer of the Great Swamp.

The long skirt emulates the witches who are the founders of pyromancy.

Ring that the atypical pyromancers of the Great Swamp are said to have whittled down from salamander bone.

Boosts might of pyromancies.

Salamanders are believed to be descendants of the Flame of Chaos that serves as the beginning of pyromancy; in other words, of demons.

But whether or not an amphibian in a remote swamp evolved from creatures of Chaos, it shows the respect Great Swamp pyromancers yet have for Izalithian culture. Ironically, it is apparently impossible for today’s pyromancers to imagine a time before the teacher had no student and the student no teacher. But with how long this lineage of flame has survived, this is no surprise. The localization labels them “conjurators”, but the wearers of the pyromancer set from DS1 are literally now known as “spell users” (呪師) compared to “spell art users” (呪術師) like wearers of the latest pyromancer set. They aren’t the “predecessors” of pyromancers; they are pyromancers. The slight change in terminology is likely to reflect the air surrounding such ancient practitioners of the arcane. Their equipment’s description notes how they spend their lives wandering, which makes sense when the loss of the Undead Burg left them with nowhere to exist as the cursed. And so often are the mysterious ancients’ works thought less systemized “arts” than vague, free-form power — the bias of modernity.

Apparel of traveling conjurators.

Conjurators are the old pyromancers and spend their lives wandering.

Thus, their apparel is also strong to threats of nature like fire or poison.

If you learn pyromancy, I am the master and you are the apprentice. It’s been that way since long ago. Even if you don’t feel it, well, respect your elders. Pyromancy aside, that’s what you’d call a secret to life. Hahaha.

Even so, this hazy memory of their forebears reveals that things have changed since the events of DS1. For instance, Poison Mist is being passed down among the Great Swamp’s standard texts despite banishing its creator as a heretic in DS1. Based on the description, the selfsame heretics realized their own hypocrisy and finally accepted Eingyi’s work. They have always outfitted themselves to deal with various threats of nature, including both fire and poison, and both arts are ultimately derivable from the pyromancy flame. To ignore this aspect of “life” because it didn’t involve spawning fire first was simply close-minded. Of course, they are not so tolerant now as to accept Undead. The cursed are still forced to find a home elsewhere, often preferring to vacate urbanized areas for something swampier. Items of pyromancers old and new are among the dead in the bog outside Farron Keep, the Great Swamp Ring implicitly eaten by a giant crab along with its wearer. Where did they come from except the nearby Undead Settlement, corpses around Cornyx carrying similar pyromancer equipment?

Unique art of the pyromancer Eingyi, who was once considered a heretic even in the Great Swamp. Generates poison fog.

It is said that Eingyi was driven out of the Great Swamp, but his pyromancy is now inherited.

The Great Swamp probably remembered. That they were all heretics originally.

Unique art of the pyromancer Eingyi that isn’t inherited in the Great Swamp. Generates deadly poison fog.

It is said that Eingyi, who was driven out of the Great Swamp, came across a deadly poison and a young lady in his final land.

Obviously, this implicates Cornyx as one of these Undead in exile, as he freely admits. But unlike Laurentius in DS1, this one is no novice. He wears the Old Sage’s Blindfold to focus only on the light of the pyromancy flame within his body. As the description acknowledges, this speaks to the profound nature of what flame shows and doesn’t show to those captivated by it, which is very fitting. Roushi (老師) literally refers to an “old master” and typically refers to a religious teacher like a priest or Zen mentor in Buddhism. In other words, Cornyx bandaging up his eyes while suffering no difficulty in tracking our position with or without sound is proof of his mastery of pyromancy — he is so in tune with the flame core to his religion as to evidently see the world around him through it. This can be, in large part, credited to age, which has left the man just as wrinkled as wise. True enough, he speaks of “conduct” (処世) in relation to worldly wisdom providing the secrets to success in life. He has not spent his years idly. In fact, he used them to change the world of pyromancy as we knew it.

Apparel of pyromancers of the Great Swamp, old masters in particular.

The large eye bandage blocks out extraneous light, and it is said that one can stare at the pyromancy flame.

The flame shows, and the flame doesn’t show.

Cornyx has apparently revived multiple pyromancies once thought lost, Fire Surge representative among them. This is mostly due to its simplicity. Another pyromancy he teaches is Great Combustion, a pared-down version of Quelana’s Fire Whip spell unique to her in DS1. Cornyx’s dialogue affirms that he only knows the witch from legend, so she isn’t his teacher. In that case, he must have developed it independently. Just as his god took the concept behind Fire Whip to create Great Combustion and then Combustion, Cornyx most likely built upon the rudimentary Combustion to fashion something stronger. Perhaps the Great Swamp inherited tales of Salaman learning such a pyromancy from the witch, but Cornyx nonetheless brought a conceptually simple spell back from obscurity, at least in the Old World. His success with Fire Surge was thus predicated on its similar simplicity in all likelihood.

Pyromancy of Cornyx of the Great Swamp. Continuously spurts out flames.

It is said that Cornyx is an old pyromancer and restored some bygone, unknown pyromancies. This is known as the epitome among them.

Nevertheless, there is no denying that Fire Surge was originally the work of pyromancers outside the Old World, unknown to the Great Swamp thanks to the Way of White among other factors. Cornyx somehow recreated an art mainly isolated to the painting world of Ariamis and subsequently lost. Perhaps he scraped together fragments of information that ultimately did reach the Great Swamp and get passed down to reverse-engineer the concept — the final product does require solely intelligence to cast. Not all of the pyromancies restored are from DS1’s era, however. One of the spells is Bursting Fireball, so difficult to make split apart mid-air after leaving the caster’s hand that he relies on a pyromancy tome to quick teach us it. But despite the localization’s claim, it is not from a bygone age like Fire Surge according to the description; it never even appeared before this game. In short, Cornyx has restored pyromancies lost in even more recent times.

Non-bygone pyromancy that Cornyx restored. One of the superior pyromancies of the Great Swamp.

Throws a bursting fireball.

Changes after leaving the hand are rare techniques and known as highly difficult pyromancies.

The fact that his restorations are included in pyromancy tomes speaks to the man’s contribution to his school of magic. The Great Swamp has been revitalizing its culture, likely realizing how much has been forgotten since the pyromancers first retreated into this backwater under Salaman. Cornyx had likely brought up countless pupils, the old timer nostalgic for both the books and the harsh training used to teach them. But his footprint still wasn’t big enough to risk him going Hollow, so he was driven out. This must have been disheartening for Cornyx. Even as he fulfills his teacher’s duty putting down a violent student, his vacuous words can’t hide the underlying dismay. The master would never want to be separated from the apprentice whom he raised along with the flame they shared, no matter the circumstance. To see that teacher-student bond severed because of the curse, and with so many who once respected him, could only be heartbreaking.

Oh, well, well. How nostalgic. If I have this, I can teach you superior pyromancies. I am so glad. With this, I act as the teacher for a little longer, you could say. Ha ha ha.

All right, it can’t be helped now. If the apprentice goes mad, dealing with it is the master’s duty. Let’s go, hatchling. Don’t take an old crow’s pyromancies lightly!

… If the apprentice goes mad, dealing with it is the master’s duty.

There was, of course, potential in this terrible twist of fate. Cornyx often flippantly refers to himself as a crow, presumably because he adorns his robes with crow feathers; even when leaving the Undead Settlement behind, the old man makes sure to take a few freshly-hunted crows with him to “decorate” his corner of Firelink Shrine, along with some mountain goats. Such a quirk is fitting for a man whose name is Latin for crow, but it may mean much more. The description to Cornyx’s Garb points out how the envoy transporting Undead to Firelink Shrine in DS1 was a crow. If tale of this reached the Great Swamp, then a pyromancer would have at least one reason to dress as a crow: in the hopes of one day also heading to Lordran, specifically Izalith. Indeed, Cornyx is overjoyed to see us bring a pyromancy book from the ruined capital of Chaos, excited to learn primal pyromancies like Salaman — he doesn’t even care that they aren’t specifically Quelana’s original arts which the Pyromancy King actually studied. Add in rumor of Izalith’s drift to Lothric, and Cornyx had reason to remain in good spirits.

Apparel of Cornyx, pyromancer of the Great Swamp. In the Great Swamp, it is customary to wear the life of nature, and that of Cornyx uses crow feathers in particular.

It is said that a crow was once Firelink’s envoy and guided Undead to the land of the old gods.

Oooh, what’s this! A pyromancy book of Izalith! You found it, the homeland of pyromancy. Wonderful. Even if old, being Undead isn’t a bad thing, you could say. Now, show it to me, quickly. And then we experience them together, no? Primal pyromancies said that only the old master Zalaman got to know.

But if his goal was to find the pyromancy homeland, his hopes were quickly dashed. However long he stayed in the Undead Settlement, he got caught up in its recent inquisition, thrown in a cage and left to rot until the townsfolk remember to execute him like the rest. Unlike Logan in DS1, these perilous circumstances put a damper on the master’s spirit. When introducing himself as an “old” pyromancer, Cornyx uses furui (古い) to indicate that he considers it a former profession. He likewise equates himself to us as a “scrap” of a pyromancer, assuming that is our background. This demeaning attitude reflects the sentiment expressed in the text for his ashes. The withered old crow was resigned to dying hanging in its cage, thinking it had become all washed up. The fact that we don’t even need to first unlock the cell to recruit him speaks to his lack of resistance throughout his predicament. He can get himself out of this mess; he simply lacks the will to.

But as the ash description also acknowledges, we give the frail elder the opportunity to take on one final apprentice. A chance encounter with unkindled ash, a vessel for flame as he puts it, sparks his curiosity as a teacher for imparting flame. He is thus more than happy to welcome us into the world of pyromancy; he even gets to see the bonfire he had only heard about in stories up until that point. This scenario, of course, is only at our discretion, but Cornyx proves to be a rocksteady ally between not leaving the shrine and not somehow using our training for his own ends. He simply takes us under his wing and stands by. Even if he longs to learn more pyromancy, teaching has always been his true calling, and that keeps him perfectly fulfilled. The same cannot be said for others.

Ashen remains of Cornyx of the Great Swamp. The handmaid of the ritual place will have new items to offer.

Cornyx was resigned to withering way, but acquired a new, final apprentice. A pyromancer is undoubtedly that sort.

Ah, you returned, fireless ash. First, I am grateful to you. I am a scrap of a pyromancer now. Seeing the bonfire I heard about in stories, its mysterious flame, is surely what you’d call good fortune… And so, I’ll teach you pyromancies as promised. First, you need a fire too. Be careful so you don’t burn yourself. Heh heh heh heh.

Well, fine… even if an old fantasy, ’twas a fun time…

Cuculus is a pyromancer we can summon as a cooperator just outside the Old Demon King’s boss room. Since she wears the same attire as Cornyx, some have speculated that she is his master or apprentice. Both do share a Latin name for a bird, hers the cuckoo. And if we defeat the Old Demon King with her help and without her defeat, a corpse with her equipment can be found at Cornyx’s cage. However, Cuculus’ youthful appearance makes being the old man’s teacher unlikely. And given that Dunnel also wears his same set down to the blindfold, their appearance can instead be attributed to the developers reusing assets for fellow masters of pyromancy. All the same, her use of Estus suggests that Cuculus too has been banished from the Great Swamp as a consequence of undeath. And as her crow feathers perhaps signify, she turned to the ancestral homeland of pyromancy to further her knowledge of their heretical magical arts. But it wasn’t just chaos pyromancies that she sought.

Aside from her Spotted Whip, Cuculus chiefly employs Poison Mist in battle, demonstrating her affinity for toxins. Her main objective thus may have been Eingyi, the creator of Poison Mist and another Undead exile of the Great Swamp. And yet, the fact that Cuculus hasn’t learned Toxic Mist suggests that she never encountered the man alive. Considering the death of the Fair Lady, it is no surprise if her most loyal servant had also died in the recent war. If so, then Cuculus must have come to Smouldering Lake only recently. This would explain why she has no qualms with helping us slay chaos demons. With her desired teachers dead, she has no incentive to join a civilization all but extinct. Instead, she will cull the remaining demons and presumably scavenge surviving texts from the ruins as we do. Cuculus already proves nonstandard even for a pyromancer — true to her namesake, her victorious phantom will nonsensically cast Poison Mist and run in before both fade away, making it look as if she disappears into the cloud. What then is abandoning her religious kindred in their greatest time of need?

Even ignoring this breed of oddball, pyromancers from both before and after the demons’ fall want to experience the fairy tales they grew up with. And if not, they at least want to dwell in something closer to home. Cut content adds onto these multitude of possible motivations with the grotto set, a raggedy uniform with different iterations of its description between languages. The English text speaks of “sorcerers” who detach themselves completely from the wider world. Meanwhile, the Japanese description specifies pyromancers living in caves, identified by their iconic hat. There are certainly grottos in both the Road of Sacrifices and Farron Keep where such sorcerers or pyromancers could have denned as enemies. The nature of the localization process also implies that the pyromancer was the latest concept for the set, hence the additional detail: their attire and residence were apparently all to emulate Salaman’s most famous apprentice, Carmina.

Apparel of cave pyromancers. Strange hat that has become their symbol.

They have probably been emulating their master, the pyromancer Carmina.

Aside from giving us a better idea of what Carmina was like, these pyromancers would have evidently served as her acolytes. DS1 already implied that she had followers, so her fan club surviving both in and outside of the Great Swamp into the present era isn’t unfathomable. Her unique arts internalizing the flame generated in hand also continue to be popular, such as the Flash and Profuse Sweat pyromancies. Their naming scheme is “Intense Sweat” (激しい発汗) versus “Intense Cold Sweat” (激しい脂汗) with obvious ties to their effects. The discharged white sweat associated with overheating helps protect the body against flame; the greasy yellow sweat associated with illness, all status ailments. The latter is the more advanced pyromancy, which justifies its absence in DS1 — besides individual spell texts looted from corpses in the wild, our only teacher from the Great Swamp was himself an apprentice. These spells have utility for pyromancers, though not all of Carmina’s spells have remained in the zeitgeist.

Unique pyromancy of the Great Swamp associated with Carmina.

Greatly boost fire cut rate via intense sweating.

It is said to have been the start of the pyromancies that internalize fire and later became the basis of many pyromancies.

Superior pyromancy that internalizes fire associated with Carmina.

Boosts bleeding, poison, chill, death by curse, all resistances, via intense sweating.

Yellow-colored sweat is medicine for all kinds of illness.

Internalizing the flame of Iron Flesh does just that: make the body iron. But even though a harder body is more physically resilient, the added weight makes the pyromancer too slow for wading through wetland — the corpse we loot this spell text from, desperately reaching for help in the middle of Farron’s poison swamp, highlights the danger. For that reason, it has since fallen out of favor in the Great Swamp, which would probably disappoint Carmina. It is her only spell to require solely intelligence to cast. Most non-flame pyromancies rely solely on faith, whereas the only other arts relying solely on intelligence were invented by Quelana, a former flame sorcerer. Carmina needed to comprehend the logic behind the mineralization process in order to make her flames briefly turn the body to iron. The Boulder Heave pyromancy similarly requires some intelligence to have a pyromancy flame produce rock, the additional faith requirement perhaps resulting from the demon soul from which its text derives. In short, Carmina put a lot of effort into Iron Flesh’s invention, only for it to lose recognition over the eons.

One of the pyromancies that internalize fire.

Transforms the whole body into iron and boosts cut rates and resistances, but will greatly increase weight and slow movement.

An obsolete pyromancy in the Great Swamp, probably because it is incompatible with swamp traversal.

At least the pyromancy wasn’t banned like Power Within, but the Great Swamp’s selectiveness with Carmina’s arts may have been why she and her followers were planned to live in reclusive caves, away from the wider world. There within those rocky walls, they could practice their craft without limit or interference. Such is the conflict with Carmina’s research into power within more generally, not just the “Great Power Within” (内なる大力) ruled forbidden. A pyromancer tries to avoid getting burned by flame, but Carmina’s arts put you at greatest risk by letting flame course through your entire body. The Great Swamp tries to ignore that fact by banning the one most obviously dangerous, but the principle applies to them all. Even Cornyx, for all his life experience, isn’t immune from this hypocrisy. The other Undead go seeking Izalith or nature because fire forever captures their attention. They can’t escape captivation, even as their religion drills into them the reality of its threat.

That is the fatal flaw to the pyromancer philosophy. Cornyx is quick to realize that we should be wary of the bonfire, thinking its flame might be similarly warped by a “witch” and bring about destruction. Yet still he reflexively recoils at the Dark, decked out in amulets and refusing to teach such forbidden pyromancy. A human need not be married to light, but the crow squelches the Dark smoldering within its soul. So long as fire distracts him, he cannot begin to comprehend the cold grotesquerie even when it is far more natural to him than Chaos. That warmth is perhaps why old Cornyx can take comfort in just teaching the next generation where mentors in similar circumstances as him become invariably consumed by their obsession. But if the next generation cannot restrain that greed in turn, how much is warm worldly wisdom truly worth? There can be no compromise with heresy. Forget Dark, fiery life’s wholehearted embrace of its own is why so many of these pyromancers die like moths to a flame. The Great Swamp can try tempering it, but that self-destructive truth will never change.

… Listen here, fireless ash. Fear fire. The founder of pyromancy, Izalith, was once burned and destroyed by the fire it bore. Maybe it was certainly Chaos, a fire warped by a witch. But, who’s to say that bonfire is any different?