My journey through the depths of Dark Souls 3 has been one hell of a trip, taking the better part of a month to explore every nook and cranny of the latest installment in the franchise. Like everyone else, I was consistently pressured and frustrated while I navigated the new environments and discovered how to safely travel through the world, beating my head against wall after wall until I finally pushed through.
While I faced each challenge, I continued to develop my character as well, equipping him with weapons and armor used by the legends of the Dark Souls universe in order to survive just a little bit longer during difficult encounters. Together we pushed through and beat the game, solving the various puzzles surrounding the lore and uncovering some of the franchise’s deepest secrets hidden among the ashes. But even by the end of the game I felt as if I wanted more, which was a feeling I couldn’t shake even after pushing my character into new game plus.
Don’t get me wrong, Dark Souls 3 absolutely delivered. The game as a whole was way above my expectations across the board – pushing the boss fights to a new level and delivering a much faster, more active experience akin to its cousin Bloodborne. Being the lorekeeper that I am though, I just wanted some more answers for the questions I had surrounding the story line.
As with prior games in the franchise the main narrative of Dark Souls 3 revolves around the battle between the Age of Fire and the Age of Dark – each containing their own secret cache of influencers. The key difference with Dark Souls 3 however, is that the game presents you with a choice to finally break the repeating cycle and usher in a new age depending on your actions during your play-through.
Three of these endings are as you might expect:
In the first ending you kill the Soul of Cinder and link the First Flame like those before you, breathing life into it once again to continue the Age of Fire.
In the second ending you summon the Fire Keeper, who claims the First Flame for herself and ushers in the Age of Dark by doing so.
In the third ending you summon the Fire Keeper and kill her, claiming the First Flame for yourself. In this ending it is currently unknown if you continue the Age of Fire or usher in the Age of Dark.
While the fourth ending tells a different story, one which directly connects back to the primordial serpent Darkstalker Kaathe. In order to obtain the forth ending you’ll have to follow a questline that starts off fairly early in the game with Yoel of Londor, who will offer you his service after speaking with him near the Foot of the High Wall bonfire. After accepting his offer, Yoel will return to Firelink Shrine and serve as a merchant offering spells. But he does offer something else…
Once you speak with him in Firelink Shrine he will also ask if you wish to draw out your true strength, providing you with a free level at the cost of the Dark Sigil. After bring branded by the Dark Sigil your character will hollow with every death, allowing Yoel to grant more free levels and tarnishing your appearance further. See, by accepting his offer you have willingly chosen to become Undead – as well as a pawn in a much bigger game.
If you accept his offer 5 times after various levels of hollowing is accumulated, Yoel will die and a woman named Yuria of Londor will show up in his place claiming that you have eased him of his burden. Throughout the game Yuria will refer to you as the Lord of Hollows and send you off on the next step of the quest.
After progressing far enough in the game, Yuria will announce that you must take a spouse in order to become a true Lord of Hollows who can usurp the First Flame and encourages you to find Anri of Astora. Once completing Anri’s questline Yuria will say that your spouse awaits you in the Temple of the Darkmoon. Here you’ll find Anri laying with a cloth covering her face and will use the sword provided to complete the ‘wedding ceremony’ to gain 3 more Dark Sigils after which Yuria will claim you are ready to usurp the flames.
With all 8 Dark Sigils in your inventory, complete the game by killing the Soul of Cinder and you’ll receive the fourth ending. In this specific ending your character lifts the First Flame from the bonfire and thrusts it into himself/herself, rising to a crowd of Undead followers from Londor including Yuria and your spouse Anri. Your character will then walk through this crowd with embers from the First Flame dancing over them as they beg you to make Londor whole again.
Pretty interesting right?
In this ending it’s fairly obvious that instead of extending the Age of Fire or ushering in the Age of Dark, your decisions have led to an age between both – where both Fire and Dark exist. The implication of this particular ending is basically saying that your character has become the Lord of Hollows, a human with the power of the First Flame and every Lord of Cinder to exist inside of him/her living in a new age. But what is all this nonsense about making Londor whole again?
From a lore standpoint, we don’t know much about Londor or those who inhabit it outside of the tidbits provided throughout Dark Souls 3 and the previous games in the franchise. These pieces of lore insinuate that Londor is in fact a kingdom filled with the Undead who haven’t gone insane from continuous death and who are ruled over by the Sable Church of Londor (compromised of Yuria and her two sisters). Thanks to Dark Souls 3 we also know that Yuria of Londor is a member of the Darkwraiths, who’s primary goal was to bring about the Age of Dark in service to Darkstalker Kaathe.
Throughout this entire plotline in Dark Souls 3 I couldn’t help but shake the feeling that I was being manipulated by Yuria and Darkstalker Kaathe, much like the Four Kings from Dark Souls. By accomplishing this they could then kill or trap me in order to contain the First Flame permanently – thus ensuring an endless Age of Dark like Gwyn ushered in with his sacrifice to prolong the Age of Fire.
So here’s my theory: in Dark Souls 3’s downloadable content we will be traveling to Londor in order to confront Darkstalker Kaathe and those loyal to him, ending his manipulation of lesser beings once and for all. However there was one little plot hole that I had to plug with this theory, one which I’m sure many of you are questioning now.
Immediately I thought about players who didn’t go through with the Lord of Hollows ending or even meet Yoel of Londor in the first place – which would imply that there was never a Lord of Hollows to begin with and no reason for the player to progress into Londor in pursuit of Darkstalker Kaathe and his followers.
The key here though lies with another character in Dark Souls 3 named Orbeck of Vinheim, a man you’ll meet in the Road of Sacrifices who sells powerful sorceries throughout the game. Once meeting him you’ll be able to convince him to join you in Firelink Shrine where Yuria will tell you to assassinate him shortly after. She claims that Orbeck is challenging your place as Lord of Hollows and fears you will lose to him if he is not killed beforehand. If you kill him and turn his ashes into Yuria she’ll reward you with the Morion Blade, but if you spare him? That frees him to become a Lord of Hollows should you choose not to – meaning that the downloadable content still has a reason to exist regardless of the player’s choice at the end of the game.
Unfortunately, we won’t know if this is the case until the first chunk of Dark Souls 3 DLC is released and FromSoftware has been very hush-hush on the details. While we do know that two different DLC packs are included in the season pass which promise new areas, bosses, weapons and armor – we don’t know what they entail story wise. Here’s to hoping for an expanding Lord of Hollows storyline.