From the moment we free Ornifex, we can recognize her as one of the crow-men encountered in the original Dark Souls (DS1) — Dark Souls III (DS3) since localizes this term as “corvians”, so I will refer to them as such. But despite sharing the same model down to the bloodied chest and legs, she isn’t one of them in particular. The corvians of DS1 were specifically human devotees of Velka whose obsession twisted their bodies into a form more associated with the goddess of sin. Ornifex, meanwhile, has no clear recollection of any god, acting as if she was never even human once upon a time. As far as she is concerned, her “clan” (一族) has always been a different race with its own — presumably squawk-based — language. What knowledge they do have of DS1’s era has apparently been inherited from past generations, implying that Ornifex is merely a descendant of the corvians who were formerly prisoners within the Painted World of Ariamis. This is possible, assuming that their cursed transformation was so thorough, and the blood and cultural ties are reinforced by her occupation.
This is my workplace. My occupation is, as your kind would say it, close to a blacksmith, I believe? I make various equipment. But, with a special method handed down only in my clan.
True to her Latin name meaning “bird maker”, the crow woman is a kind of blacksmith, except working primarily with souls instead of metal. While she does sell some mundane armaments of her possible craft, Ornifex’s main interest is fashioning weapons from “special souls” we acquire from bosses. These products reflect some quality of their materials, which the crow concedes can make them unwieldy for most, but their power is undeniable. She credits her clan’s technique as originally the work of a grotesque white being who existed in Tseldora where she has set up shop, an obvious reference to Seath. That is notable since this soul weapon forging is almost identical to the service provided by Anor Londo’s giant blacksmith in DS1, which he also learned from the white dragon. Given that said game also implicated Seath and Velka in an illicit relationship, it is easy to imagine the former sharing the secrets of this art with the latter before the affair ended. This creates the line for Ariamis convicts regulated by the goddess’ priests to learn the art themselves after becoming devoted corvians.
Things born from souls strongly reflect the qualities of the original soul. Many of the products have strong quirks, but if handled by a first-rate user, they will be more reliable than anything. I said they were slightly special for that. They aren’t something just anyone can handle.
I have heard that my technique was created by a grotesque who once existed in this land. A white thing that existed in a distant, old age… What it was, we don’t know anymore, but if you acquire a special soul, please do stop by my place.
In short, Ornifex’s work is proof of her clan’s origin in the painting world. But the corvian inherits no memory of the painting, and we don’t come across it during our journey. The monastery set in Lindelt proves that the painting guardians were warped to the New World, so the gallery they guarded must have been brought over with them. But considering how much changed with the rest of Anor Londo, we can’t even confirm if the painting is still in one piece. (DS3 affirms it isn’t) In that case, one has to question the fate of the painted world. With everything displaced to an unfamiliar part of the world, the role of the painting would be in jeopardy even if its continued existence wasn’t immediately threatened. Who were the guardians guarding the painting for? The gods and god-fearing men were far and away, and the prisoners no longer needed to fear retaliation from those remembering their crimes. Add to that the fact that they all found liberation from their prisons, and there was plenty of opportunity to leave with fewer pressures not to.
Simply put, at least some of the corvians must have decided to exit the painting for one reason or another. They formed their own community somewhere in this new frontier and passed down their heritage from the Old World. But having separated from figures like Priscilla, Jeremiah, and the Undead prisoners, their memory of the past inevitably became twisted with the generations, forgetting details the like name and species of Seath or the fact that their own race wasn’t a natural evolution. This disassociation from their humanity, of course, would only be accelerated by persecution. Ornifex suggests that humans have often looked at her kind with both curiosity and fear, their additional contempt leading to violence on more than one occasion if her dying words at our hands is any indication. Although she claims indifference to this aspect of human nature, she does keep her soul smithing service limited to select clientele, including ourselves if we save her from certain death.
Is my form unusual? Heheheh. You humans are always like that. Seeing things different from yourselves with such eyes. Feelings mixing curiosity, fear, and contempt. It makes no difference to me, but there is no helping it…
In the end… you are human, too, huh…?
Ornifex has been imprisoned by the Lion Clan, likely in preparation to be eaten or worse. Before this, she apparently went off on her own and settled in the abandoned workshop in Tseldora, perhaps drawn to the Brightstone Cove’s connection to Seath or the souls possibly laden there. Either way, she wandered off into the lion-men’s territory where she was captured, though not without a fight based on all the blood. If not for the unexpected invasion of basilisks, she might already be dead by the time we loot the key and free her from her confines — that door also ironically kept her from sharing the lions’ petrified fate. Not wanting to skimp out on gratitude, Ornifex offers her first soul weapon free of charge after safely returning to her den. Whether her other clients helped her in similar ways, she clearly loves her work and wants to reward us by doing it, regardless of our initial intention in saving her. As her death throes indicate, she sees us as somewhat different from the humans who have persecuted her up until now. She can only hope that we simply look at her as strange.