Dark Souls 3 Lore ► The Slave Knight & The Painter
- By : Oliver Santos
- Category : Articles, Blog
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There are fascinating questions in this video… For example, is Gael kneeling to the statue behind the altar? Who is his merciful Goddess of the Forlorn? And what is the white-haired woman’s “Dark Soul of Man”? Let’s see. The painted world has always been a safe haven, in the age of the gods, it was the work of the painter Ariamis, hung in Anor Londo, and home to beings like Priscilla, whose abilities the gods feared. At some point, though, we know that this painting fell, for Father Ariandel restored the painted world, and the cycle of paintings began anew. Of course, there could have been many paintings and painters in between these two worlds of Ariamis and Ariandel because the residents of this painting clearly understand that eventually their world must burn, lest their painting stagnate and rot. That’s a line of thought that only really comes about if they’ve had generations go through this. (BREATHE, VAATI) And yet, Ariandel decided to eschew tradition, he embraced rot. Buried the flame. And decided instead to satiate the flame with his blood. And so, the next painter had to be tucked away, in the depths of the painting. Never to paint the next world, never to see flame. Tasked with concealing this secret child of the painting, is Vilhelm, loyal knight of Friede, who is the tyrant of Ariandel. “I’ve seen your kind, time and time again,” “Every fleeing man must be caught, every secret must be unearthed,” “Such is the is conceit of the self-proclaimed ‘Seeker of Truth’,” “But in the end, you lack the stomach,” “For the agony that you’ll bring upon yourself.” Friede was the first ash to enter the painting, yet instead of seeking flame, she embraced the rot— along with the Good Father—and she entrusted Vilhelm with the key to this library. And within this place are what seem to be secrets of the painting. As a tyrant, as Friede, you want to hide history, you want to hide origins, and I think this place—this library—is where a lot of that is hidden. Perhaps these books hold the histories of the world? Maybe the destroyed statues hide an important identity? And, certainly, Vilhelm guards the white-haired child who is the key to the future of the next world. “Forgive me, my lady… “I swore an oath… “But I have failed you… “Lady Elfriede…” The white-haired woman shares no name, so we call her “Aria” in keeping with the tradition of painters named this way. “I believe… “I feel the scent of ash upon thee… “Thou art the one of whom Uncle Gael spoke… “The one to show me flame… “‘Tis good… I’ll head off to paint… “I promised Uncle Gael I would…” Uncle Gael. The Japanese text actually confirms that she doesn’t mean “uncle” in the literal sense, rather she means “uncle” in the familiar-old-man sense. This is important because the parentage of Aria is something worth going into a bit later. But for now, let’s tackle Gael’s curiosities, and he has a ton of them. “Gael was once a “Slave Knight”, which was a warrior used as fodder in the bleakest of battles. And perhaps he still is one, because that same description mentions that slave knights were never relieved from duty. Despite their twisted bones and blackened skin. And, bizarrely, we never actually get a clue as to what a slave knight’s duty could be. Nor what entity they were beholden to for this duty, as it’s called. Additionally, slave knights were clearly downtrodden, yet they were given lavish red armaments, its fine craftsmanship a symbol of honor. So, I think all of this serves to make us feel like Gael is from a long-lost time, and one of the oldest undead in the series. And this is a thought that’s reinforced by the miracle that he alone wields. The Way of White Corona is a lost Way of White miracle, a white discus which slices though foes and is SO SHIT that it’s no wonder people forgot about it. (No, really, it sucks.) Long ago, when the imprints left by the gods were still deep, miracles of the Way of White existed alongside “orioles”. These were the white discs that existed in Dark Souls I at the age of the gods, that appeared in other people’s worlds whenever you cast a miracle. The description goes on to say: “Those who yearned for the long-lost orioles fully believed that they would return one day.” You find this Way of White miracle in the Corvian Settlement in front of their church altar. And this is an altar that looks stunningly similar to one on the outside in the Cathedral of the Deep, which was a church of the Way of White. And it’s this same place where Gael, the ancient, duty-bound knight says his next curious line of dialogue: “Merciful Goddess… “Mother of the Forlorn… “who have no place to call their own… “Please, bear witness to our resolve… “Fire for Ariandel… “Fire for Ariandel…” “And the ash to kindle flame…” So who is this “merciful Goddess”? This “Mother of the Forlorn” who Gael still believes is watching over them. Perhaps she’s the clue to understanding Gael’s motivations? I’ll list three strong candidates, so let me know which one you think is correct. First: Caitha, the Goddess of Tears. I came across this suggestion in the comments of a missing dialogue video, and I love the theory. It drew my attention to the fact that Gael may well be kneeling to the figure behind the altar in the Cleansing Chapel, which is a statue that’s repeated all throughout the Cathedral of the Deep. The woman is clutching her face, almost as if weeping. And this ties in nicely with Caitha, who is the Goddess of Tears, and who is mentioned in the Blue and Red Tearstone rings as a “mourner of loved ones and of the undeserving dead.” We don’t know too much about her motivations as a goddess, but we know that she was famously worshiped by Morne and his archbishop, both of whom hail from Carim. And that’s pretty much everything we know. But additionally, as StellarElite points out in the comments, the Cathedral is a former Way of White church, and the Way of White now has a home in Carim. And Gael is related to the Way of White, soo you can see the connections here. But the real question is: Can she classify as a “merciful Goddess”? As a “Mother of the Forlorn”? Well, followers of Caithe, they provide comfort to the suffering, and a Goddess of Tears certainly qualifies her to be a merciful Mother of the Forlorn, don’t’cha think? But the links do stop there. And we’ve never really had a clue as to Caitha’s motivations, and she certainly doesn’t have a relationship with anything in the painted world. So, our second candidate: Velka, Goddess of Sin, does have a connection. Instead of a claim through the Way of White, Velka instead is more directly related to the painted world. For example, in Dark Souls I there was a Black Pardoner set, that was found within and the crows were originally envisioned as servants of Velka in the design works, though it is possible that part of their design has changed. But, at any rate, Velka certainly has a relationship with the Sable Church, and it makes a degree of sense for Velka to be invested in the opposite of what Friede wants. Since Friede was a member of the Sable Church, who abandoned the Church. There are also destroyed female statues that have loose-fitting robes and one hand outheld. Which is quite similar to the statue of Velka in the settlement. So does Velka fit as a “merciful Goddess”? As a “Mother of the Forlorn”? I think you could see her that way, uh, absolving sin is a mercy, and she has a statue for just that, tucked away in the Undead Settlement. For absolving sin, can you go so far as to call her a Mother of the Forlorn? That’s more of a stretch, but we really know so little about Velka that you can’t rule it out. As for the last candidate: Priscilla She’s certainly not quite classified as a goddess, but she’s very much a mother figure, and is based in the first painted world. As such, she likely wouldn’t tie in with Gael’s hollow-slave duties, but at the very least, we should discuss Priscilla’s relationship with the child, Aria. Most notably, Aria’s scaled skin… and her red, slitted eyes… like Priscilla’s green ones, and this quote: “Those who aren’t kin to fire, cannot paint a world… “Those absorbed by fire… “Must not… paint a world… “Don’t worry… “I haven’t forgotten, mother…” Admittedly, there have certainly been a lot of paintings between this one and Ariamis, so, like so many other things in this video, it’s up to you to decide if we can even guess at Aria’s parentage, or the identity of the so-called “merciful Goddess, Mother of the Forlorn,” so what do you think? “My thanks, Ashen One… “I can almost see the flame… “Soon, “Uncle Gael will bring me the pigment… “I wonder if he has found it?” “The Dark Soul of Man…” The most curious and tantalizing quote at the end of the DLC, I feel like it’s only fitting that we end the video in the same way. Similar to how man can usurp the first flame, Aria is also looking to paint the Dark Soul of Man upon her canvas as the pigment, though she doesn’t have it just yet. Gael is out there searching for it. Maybe it’s the final piece of his duty? But where does he intend on finding this? What shape does the Dark Soul of Man take? Is it as little as a simple humanity fragment, or as large as a soul of man akin to the Soul of Cinder? As usual we’re left with more questions than answers, and at the end of the DLC, no less. And From aren’t exactly known for making sequential DLC’s, since you can purchase these separately, so I have a feeling we’re going to be left to figure this out for quite a while to come. So, what will the final DLC hold?