As we approach Irithyll Dungeon, we are invaded by a familiar face, or rather name: Alva. Although never seen in person during the events of Dark Souls II, (DS2) there is no mistaking his iconic set of armor. Both protective and lightweight, it was perfect equipment for the man whom bards still extol as the “wandering knight” in their ballads. But while these tales mostly end in tragedy with the death of the holy woman he traveled to save, that wasn’t the end of Alva’s story. He continued to live with the help of the magical woman who tried to seduce him in his epic, an unlovable witch who became the noble knight’s lifelong collaborator after discovering her purpose from his earnest example. Theirs was an inseparable relationship bound by profound love, not momentary passion as she had initially sought. But with Alva now appearing before us, that begs the question: where is Zullie?

Armor of Alba the Spurned-Seeker. Iron helmet cut down on to make lightweight.

Tales concerning the journey of he, once called the wandering knight, and the holy woman and the witch are sung with praises by troubadours even now, and many of them end in tragedy.

Purple upper garb of the witch Jullie, who once tempted the wandering knight Alba and later spent her life with him as his cooperator.

It is said that she, who was loved by no one and loved no one, learned the meaning of living at the end of her misfortune.

Alva bears the epithet Seeker of the Spurned, and the spurned he seeks is obvious. After defeating the dark spirit, a corpse with his equipment will spawn in front of Karla’s jail cell, implying that she is somehow connected to his purpose there at Irithyll Dungeon. Karla describes herself as a “spurned child” (忌み子) of the Abyss in Japanese dialogue, a term for newborns shunned as unwanted, ill omen, or otherwise cursed or repugnant. This is to be expected when Karla is, like Zullie, a witch wearing the iconic pointed hat of their kind in the world of man. Donning it is a point of pride even as it makes them easier to target by a world which considers them villains; imprisoned and abused, Karla is still unable to part with hers, and Zullie always wore hers away from mainstream society in secret. Therefore, Alva had likely heard rumor of a woman matching Zullie’s description captured in the dungeon and pursued the lead, believing that this spurned child might be his life partner. In other words, the black witch is missing, and the wandering knight is searching for her.

Keheheheh…… Oh, you’ll save me…? But I am a sinner. A spurned child of the Abyss of man. Can you permit me even so?

Hat of Karla, user of dark sorcery.

The pointed hat is the sign of a heretical sorcerer, but Karla didn’t part with it.

Purple hat of the witch Jullie, who once tempted the wandering knight Alba and later spent her life with him as his cooperator.

The pointed hat is the sign of heretical sorcery, and it said that she wore it secretly but with pride.

Given the abuse Karla has suffered, Alva’s rush to come investigate is warranted, though we ultimately get to her first. In that case, why were Alva and Zullie separated in the first place? As his supposed companion for life, the obvious implication is that her life has since expired. The fact that Alva is alive so long after the events of DS2 does betray him as Undead, meaning that something or someone must have killed him — looking beneath the helmet, the cursed warrior died far too young for age to be a factor. And if he fell victim to some threat, then Zullie was bound to be there with him. Assuming that the pair continued traveling, they may have come across any number of dangers. And even if they did settle down, there was no guarantee of avoiding an accident or natural disaster. Perhaps they were even targeted by humans who had discovered the witch’s identity.

The reason for the prejudice against witches is because they practice dark sorcery, an art forbidden by god-fearing society. As stated in the descriptions to both witches’ hats, the iconic design is the marker of such heretical sorcerers. Karla is the first direct example confirming implications about the others in past games, Zullie included. Her “black witch” attire is so named not because of its color, which is expressly purple, but because it belongs to an abyssal sorceress. Karla knows Affinity, the same spell localized as Pursuers in the original Dark Souls, because it is the art of the first dark sorcerer Manus, preserved by the clan from whom likely all human witches descend. These witches’ pride is carrying the knowledge of the Abyss inherent to man. Their persecutors ignore this reality of the human condition, hence Karla recommends keeping our tutelage under her secret. Dark sorcerers are sinners and so can suffer every ill for their defiance of the gods, doubly so for any accomplice.

Forbidden dark sorcery. It gives a fleeting will to the Dark of humanity and fires it.

That will given has envy for man, or possibly love, and mankind continues to relentlessly pursue the target. Even if its final moment can only be a small tragedy.

…Heh, you damnable miscreant. But, oh well. Man is Dark, and it’s the same even for you. The only difference is whether you look or not. But beware. Man thinks otherwise, each and every one. So let it all be a secret between you and I.

With all this in mind, it is easy to imagine Zullie garnering attention as a heretic despite her best efforts to hide it. Consorting with a witch would earn a noble knight like Alva equal enmity from the world — perhaps worse as a traitor fallen from grace. If nothing else, he was sure to step up and protect his savior from anyone who might do her harm. But whether or not such a person did exist, the fact remains that Alva survived this deadly incident while Zullie evidently did not. They were destined to die together, but luck decided to give the knight a second chance at life; the tragic irony probably wasn’t lost on this one-time death seeker. While their sudden separation was sure to inspire grief and sorrow, the man nonetheless did find the way to live on. For despite this, Alva doesn’t believe that Zullie is truly dead.

Afterward, the knight returned to wandering in an endless journey for her. Being Undead, this means that he has been roaming the world since before the events of DS2. Those countless years between then and now took him far and wide. At some point, the tragic hero picked up Murakumo as his weapon of choice, implying that he has been all the way to the far East. His invasion also proves that he owns a red eye orb, having presumably killed a stray Darkwraith he came across on his travels. That continuous globetrotting clearly brought the wandering knight innumerable encounters, with many of those experiences likely negative thanks to his cursed nature. Even so, Alva spent his immortality looking for someone no longer on this earth. Since he is unlikely to be ignorant about the witch’s demise, the man must either be in severe denial or privy to knowledge unique to Zullie’s circumstances.

Great curved sword that Alba the Spurned-Seeker. A sharp sword said to be specially forged in an eastern land.

Possesses sharpness of a katana and heaviness above a nata, so demands extraordinary strength and dexterity. There is no end to a spurned-seeker’s journey. Thus, the wandering knight possessed an atypical blade, right?

Some fans have posited that Karla is Zullie, but the notion is absurd. For one, she lacks the black witch’s dedication to fashion, her black and brown robes clearly not sewn from quality material. They are additionally filthy, fetid, and ragged as a result of her long time spent traveling and later imprisoned. Cut content introduces her as “Feria” of the Profaned Capital, but the final product portrays Karla to be a woman who was constantly on the move, never having the luxury to care for her appearance and relying on anything to get by. The reason why is because she was specifically on the run. The witch is well acquainted with society’s perception of her kind, referring to herself as grotesque and her sorcery as detestable. Karla seems to accept these assessments and all the abuse that comes with it, though she still can’t part with her heritage — as the description to her attire admits, no one “decent” would wear it. And so, she could only try to evade the persecution, never lingering in one place too long until Sulyvahn finally caught her as another specimen to lock away in his dungeon for later study.

Coat of Karla, user of dark sorcery.

As if to convey her long travels and time in prison, it is dirty, torn, and ingrained with an indelible odor. No decent person would be expected to wear this.

All of this is highly reminiscent of the witch Yuria, who shares the same voice actress in Demon’s Souls, except Karla appears to have been disillusioned about her sorcery long before confinement. From the description to her ashes, the spurned child has no one to search for her anymore, meaning no surviving loved ones like Zullie has in Alva. The only person who ever cared for Karla seems to be her mother. Based on Dark Edge’s description, Karla learned this spell she teaches from her matriarch. However, this immediately raises eyebrows given the nature of the sorcery. Forming humanity into a blade is akin to another spell tied to Manus in DS2, Dark Greatsword. However, this sorcery was developed for a witch to defend herself as well as put the blade to herself. Their kind understand that capture likely meant a fate worse than death. If they could not remain on the fringes of human habitation, and attention, then better to end things on their own terms with a single slit of the throat or stab through the heart. What does it mean then that Karla only ever used Dark Edge once and is now alone?

Dark Edge (left) compared to Dark Greatsword (right)

Forbidden dark sorcery. It transforms the Dark of humanity into a blade and slams it down.

It is said to be a blade for self-defense a mother passed onto her daughter, and also a means of suicide by blade. She swung it just once.

In all likelihood, her mother ended up in a compromised position while the two were dodging pursuit. With no hope of escape, she explained how to conjure Dark Edge to her daughter, knowing that the young witch would need it in the future. And as proof she learned properly, the master instructed the apprentice to practice the art on her in assisted suicide. In short, Karla’s mother wanted the girl to “save” her from whoever was chasing them and then continue running as far as she could. Karla evidently abided, but after that one instance, the witch has apparently never used any dark sorcery for self-defense, choosing rather to flee and, ultimately, suffer indignities at the hands of vile “leeches” when left with nowhere else to go. Even as she hates her captors, it doesn’t measure up to the hatred she has internalized. The sinner is a heretic who killed her own mother and yet a hypocrite unable to abandon that only connection to her. Those conflicting sentiments compel Karla to stay alive despite the hardship.

I told you, yes? “The place is the dwelling of the grotesque, and I am no exception.”

But I don’t have anything. Other than detestable sorceries of the Dark of man…

Suffice to say, Karla’s story doesn’t leave much room for a double identity as Zullie. She is, by all indications, a mortal witch of this era, with nothing to say for people long predating her lifetime. Her closest allusion to others is echoing Quelana in lightheartedly calling us a “stupid apprentice” after making her our pyromancy master — FromSoftware poking fun at the fact that Karla’s voice actress is also shared with the witch of Izalith. She is touched by any expression of pure-hearted interest in her, especially when it defies her expectations or preferences. This is not someone who found that sort of affection in a certain knight and is now waiting to be reunited with him. At best, Karla would need to be some sort of reincarnation of Zullie, which DS2 did unveil is possible with dark magic. But if the black witch was to make a comeback, it is more likely to have been through full-body resurrection.

We can find the Black Witch Veil on a corpse at one of the buildings half-sunk into the Ringed City’s abyssal swamp. Aside from affirming implications that the heretic used it to hide her identity whilst intercepting Alva on his travels, the description does indicate that the clothing belongs to Zullie. However, DS2 demonstrated how Zullie’s garb wasn’t unique to her and had become the style of multiple magic casters. It is natural that a witch so infamous in the tales of minstrels would have copycats among her kind. Indeed, we can acquire the rest of her attire from areas neighboring the swamp; from a separate corpse, in one case. Moreover, the giant adjudicator trudging around the swamp can summon multiple spirits of women donning the black witch set with the pointed hat. If their identity was in any doubt, each conjures Dark Edge to perform an attack similar to the Black Serpent pyromancy using the basic sorcery staff. The swamp giant has apparently forced various heretical witches into a pact, none necessarily Zullie. But why were they all there at this swamp? Simple. It reconstituted them.

Ashen remains of Karla. The handmaid of the ritual place will have new items to offer.

It is said that a spurned child of the Abyss never dies and will someday, somewhere, appear at the Abyss’ edge. And there is no one to search for her anymore.

Purple veil of the witch Jullie, who once tempted the wandering knight Alba and later spent her life with him as his cooperator.

It is said to have been travel attire and was to hide her heresy.

Even after Karla’s body is slain and reduced to ashes, she is apparently not truly dead, their description claiming that the spurned child will appear again at the edge of the Abyss. Although the text is enigmatic about the exact time and location of this event, we see such foreshadowing delivered upon in DLC. The Dreg Heap reveals how the Abyss has spread beneath the ash piling up with the various lands at world’s end. And at the very end of that drift is the Ringed City with its abyssal swamp where there is suddenly a large presence of witches like Karla. This is the obvious edge of the Abyss where appear the spurned, not just Karla. Countless souls — including dark souls — are accumulating in the Dark of man, and witches are no exception. In that case, the Abyss must be inducing those souls to revive in their original bodily form there, likely for the same reason as the locust men. That this is specific to witches is therefore curious, though they aren’t alone in persisting after death.

The Blindfold Mask is acquired from defeating a dark spirit at the Common Grave. The Carim knight equipment plus Moaning Greatshield indicate that this invader is Eygon, having killed a heretical witch and taken her mask — based on the description, he mistook it for the ones worn by Fire Keepers and secured it as a gift for Irina to help with her quest. However, the spirit is simply named the “Moaning Knight”, and this behavior is odd when both he and his charge’s souls were seemingly assimilated into the Abyss long ago. As another example, the “Seeker of the Spurned” invades us in the city, manifesting in Alva’s exact form near a corpse wearing the full black witch set with pointed hat like Zullie. This plus the Wolf Ring in his possession, reminding us of Artorias’ unbendable will, indicate this to be the wandering knight determined to find his witch. If so, then why avoid the name, and why continue to defend a corpse? With both spirits, these are not the actions of two rational individuals. Moved by shortsighted instinct, they act more like actual phantoms.

In short, these two invading spirits aren’t living men using red eye orbs, but the souls themselves manifesting a spiritual body through the Abyss’ power. DS2 did establish the potential for the Dark’s involvement in reanimating the dead in spirit form. Likewise, Affinity demonstrates that an emotion as simple as love can serve as the driving force to animate humanity, even if that single-minded will inevitably leads to foreseeable self-destruction. Like black phantoms in Demon’s Souls, Eygon and Alva are driven by their strong emotions, perhaps deep-seated regrets over those they cared about, to reform their bodies as spirits and continue following their hearts. This, again, is evidently only accomplished from the Abyss in the Ringed City empowering those wills, unsophisticated they may be. The swamp has already shown the ability to induce souls to possess their corrupted bodies or armor, so this would only be one step further than that and still behind the corporeal generation seen with locusts and witches.

And when juxtaposed with the witches’ full-body resurrection, the difference between the two situations is obvious: neither man was deeply in touch with his humanity.  As the light increasingly wanes and the Dark grows ever more in power, the souls it melds together are beginning to return to life. However, only souls well acquainted with the Abyss will see themselves return in body and mind. This abyssal resurrection might not be limited strictly to dark sorcerers either. Despite the deaths of Anri and potentially Yuria, both will appear among the Hollows kneeling before us once we usurp the First Flame. In Yuria’s case, her body was reduced to collectable ash, so this cannot be credited to the nature of undeath. However, that event too takes place in the era of the Dreg Heap, leaving open the possibility of resurrection through the Abyss — the Ringed City’s swamp or otherwise. Londor’s Hollows reintegrate their humanity within themselves, after all. It is not surprising if they can also benefit from this aspect of Dark Souls’ cosmology the same as witches.

The promise of new life in the inevitable age to come helps explain why some have so doggedly carried on the old ways despite being driven to the fringes and ultimately persecuted. The Age of Dark guarantees men more than just eternity, but freedom from the bounds of time. Even those born long before this era devoid of light can taste paradise should they be masters of their humanity. And this future isn’t lost on those heretics clinging to tradition. When killed in the dungeon, Karla says that she will await us at the Abyss where she will presumably have her revenge. She is aware of these universal principles which she could only have inherited from her mother, who in turn must have inherited it from her ancestors. In the same vein, another branch in this lineage would likely be just as aware of the fate awaiting them upon death. Even shackled by the gods, the Dark’s adherents since Manus entrust their future to the world’s logical flow. Unless they renounced their heritage, each could see the big picture, just as their ancestral Lord did.

Would this then not include Zullie? The proud witch could take comfort in knowing that any separation from Alva would ultimately be temporary. Thus, she had probably shared the basic truth with her beloved before finally passing, similar to Karla. A noble knight, however, wouldn’t understand the nuances of a witch’s resurrection, especially given the New World’s knowledge of souls. But with the promise that she would be waiting for him somewhere, he had hope to carry him through an endless journey in search of her; as we see in the Ringed City, even dying at some point along the way hasn’t faltered his spirit. Nonetheless, it is still tragic. The corpse the Seeker of the Spurned protects may very well be Zullie, but if so, then she returned from the dead only to soon be cornered and killed in an alleyway, by a patrolling Ringed Knight or otherwise. She was brought back into a world which had already taken away her hero, and by the time his spirit manifested, she had again expired. Their stars might be crossed, but their paths will never intersect again.