WordPress seems to think that by having 199 published posts and 1 private one, I’ve actually published 200 posts. Well, it’s wrong. And to prove that its wrong, I’m going to give it something it never expected to see- a Dark Souls Lorequest. As you’ll read in the actual entry, Dark Souls and I have an awkward past, to say the least, but that doesn’t mean I can’t go completely nonsensical with how I try to dig lore out of it!
If anything, it means the exact opposite.
So, this was something that I’ve been wanting to talk about for a long, long time. See, Dark Souls and I have a relatively brief but storied past. I should really just make a blog post on that game to try to explain exactly why I have the mass of confused and tangled feelings that I have for the game but that… well, it would be a huge pain in my rear. Like, a colossal one. It would be much more natural to just record the whole thing vocally and not worry about transcribing down every word. Plus, my friend Alec (who helped to develop this Gwyn’s Wife theory with me) would probably love to contribute too, since he’s of a similar mindset. That mindset being that Dark Souls is… good. Not great, not amazing. Good. Alec didn’t find too much enjoyment out of it and stopped before he completed the game. Meanwhile I found the game, of all things, easy. Easy enough to bore me midway through NG+. So I stopped and now when I play the game, I just do it to wander around and dress up in ridiculous outfits.
And let’s the honest, Shadow of the Colossus is better for that, amirite? Yaimrite.
So, onto the theory!
Alright, so pretty much everybody realizes that Solaire is the fabled Firstborn of Gwyn. It’s pretty much a universally-accepted fact amongst the community (although, there are still a few defenders for Andre of Astora). We’re going to be referencing that ‘fact’ throughout this. For those of you unfamiliar, the Firstborn of Gwyn is an enigmatic character who wielded the power of sunlight and was a god of war in Anor Londo. However, “acting foolishly,” (Ring of the Sun’s Firstborn), he was banished and wiped from history. Because his dad is a huge donkey.
Additionally, I’m going to be fusing all of this with another theory of mine— that Dark Sun Gwyndolin’s snakes are signs of corruption by the Primordial Serpent. Hence his connection to Frampt even though, as we see with the Dark Lord ending, the Primordial Serpents are all shown to be raging lunatics and servants of evil. This would also explain why he was so shunned, to some degree. Or just, and again this is my own interpretation here, his dad was just a massive jerk.
So, I propose that Anastasia of Astora is the disgraced wife of Gwyn. Yes, the one underneath Firelink Shrine who can’t say anything.
To start off, it’s shown that gods are indeed born in Dark Soul’s world. Gwyndolin’s robe says, “The power of the moon was strong in Gwyndolin, and thus he was raised as a daughter. (also, what does moon power have to do with being a daughter? Gwynevere has an affinity for sunlight and is a daughter.) In other words, yes, the divine are born rather than simply being omnipresent (it’s debatable if the Lords are even omnipresent. I’m trying my best to not have a meltdown about the infamous Allfather Lloyd right now and it’s barely working!). Oh and Gwynevere was married off to “Flame God Flann (whoever the heck that is),” in accordance with the Ring of the Sun Princess’ item description.
But hey, where IS Anastasia in Anor Londo then? Gwynevere’s cathedral shows Gwyn, herself, and a space where the Firstborn used to be.
OR IS IT? I would like to put forward that the Firstborn actually was not supposed to be in that location on that empty plinth. Instead, I think that Gwyndolin was supposed to be there and all mention of the Firstborn was removed from Anor Londo. For, if the Firstborn was indeed first-born, he would be the elder of both Gwynevere and Gwyndolin. And if we presume that gods aren’t just born mature adults then the statue of Gwnivere in her cathedral wouldn’t have been built until she was a fully-grown adult. Oh and she would preferably have to be an adult because she had an entire freaking cathedral built to herself. So, this may mean that Solaire was exiled from Anor Londo before said cathedral was built. As such, the open plinth was left open for Gwyndolin.
However, as we all know, Gwyndolin was raised away from the public eye. Probably because of the whole ‘snakes’ situation. And his dad was a massive wad. So, the plinth was left open.
A little bit more background information before we go on with the actual theory (presented in a truncated narrative format!) The statues that have puzzled players to no end, those that show a large robed woman holding a child that is, in turn, holding a sword, can only be representing the Firstborn and his mother. Their close proximity to Firelink Shrine, the Undead Parish, and the Warriors of Sunlight Shrine make it pretty clear that, despite this still just being a theory, it makes a tremendous amount of sense. The robed appearance of the mother holding the child is… an interesting one, however. And I think this can be explained in two different ways.
A: Gwynevere got her fashion sense from her mother and chose to wear hooded robes (albeit with significant cleavage enhancements). Meaning, Anastasia always dressed that way and the statues of her holding a baby Solaire were made in honour of the birth of a new god of the Great Lord. Or:
B: The statue was made post-exile of both Anastasia and Solaire by those who remember them. A narrative theme (if there’s any at all in Dark Souls [any narrative, I mean— zing]) in Dark Souls is the deconstruction of legends. Such as making the Lords the easiest damn fights in the whole game and making Seath, the Lord’s trump card in the war against the dragons an utter raving lunatic (which may pr may not be a Moonlight Greatsword stealth pun). So, if somebody constructed the statues after both Anastasia and the Firstborn’s fall from grace, the craftsmen were probably working off of a legend and not concrete fact. Which is a huge roundabout way to say: The statue’s placements make sense relative to Anastasia’s resting place and her traveling clothes.
Traveling clothes, you say? Why yes! By presenting the meat of this theory in a semi-narrative format, I hope to explain such mysteries! So here we go already.
Anastasia, the Lady of Dawn, was very close to her firstborn child. Creatively named the Firstborn, he was both of his parent’s favourites. However, after the birth of Gwynevere but before the birth of Gwyndolin, an incident now lost to history disgraced the Firstborn. Gwyn made the difficult decision to exile his firstborn son, casting him down into the mortal world. Anastasia was distraught over this decision and her resentment for her husband began to grow.
This was only made worse when her second son, Gwyndolin, was born. Being frail of body and feminine in constitution, Anastasia knew he could never replace her dear Firstborn. The snakes growing from his body was also a bad omen that Anastasia couldn’t ignore. As time passed, she grew more hateful of her child being raised in secret. Eventually, she saw that the snakes were not a simple sign of defect, but of a much darker corruption. She became aware that the opening to the Abyss caused by Manus over in Ooacle was instigated by a Primordial Serpent. Fearing Anor Londo’s corruption and Gwyn’s inaction towards his clearly-doomed child (when he had early banished the Firstborn so easily), Anastasia plotted to reveal her son to the world. This was made all the worse for her when her daughter was married off to the aloof Flame God Flann and Gwyn left, without even a farewell to his wife, to rekindle the First Flame. Her own resentment for Gwyndolin being unable to replace her Firstborn and her hate for her own husband fueled her in no small part in her decision. Indeed, she could almost be seen to act out of spite against the memory of Gwyn.
Anastasia was able to determine that a man fitting the description of her Firstborn had been seen wandering throughout Astora in the mortal world. So, stealing away into the night (figuratively since Anor Londo doesn’t seem to like the nighttime too much), Anastasia donned the robes of a simple cleric and began to search Astora for her beloved child. Her goal was to find the Firstborn first and ensure he was protected when agents of divine vengeance eventually came for her head once she exposed her son to the mortals, an act of the highest blasphemy. Although, it’s interesting to remember that by this point, many of the gods would have fled from Anor Londo and the world was being ravaged by the undead, so it’s a mystery as to who exactly would listen to the incognito Anastasia when she told them about Gwyndolin.
However, Velka and her Blades of the Darkmoon caught wind of her plans before they could be put into effect. Anastasia managed to evade the agents for a time and even escaped to Lordran, where she heard that her son was attempting to fulfill the Undead Prophecy.
As a quick aside: I personally think that Velka is the main guiding force in Dark Souls, appearing as the huge raven that takes you to Lordran, being the narrating voice throughout the game, creating the Prophecy of the Undead to take vengeance on the mad Lords, and placing the doll in your cell for you to retrieve and visit Priscilla with. I might do a shorter Lorequest on that later.
Confronted in what later be called Firelink Shrine, Anastasia was finally corned by the Blades of the Darkmoon. Velka, understanding her need to be in the shadows to orchestra coming events, left the Blades in Gwyndolin’s hands. As such, it was his task, as a show of loyalty and power as the last god in Anor Londo, to punish his mother for her blasphemy. And so, the agents of the Blades of the Darkmoon defeated Anastasia in combat and silenced her godly powers.
To add insult to injury, Anastasia had her divine soul infused with humanity and had her legs slashed. Her white robes were singed black and covered with ash as the Lady of Dawn became the Ash Maiden. Bound beneath the earth and kept close to the spot where her husband sacrificed himself (probably a move by Gwyndolin to reinforce to his mother just how important Gwyn was and how much he tried to save the world, if not himself and his family), Anastasia was doomed to become a guardian of the bonfires that represented the sparks of a much greater fire that her husband burned for and with.
That’s the theory, anyway. Of course, I have no way to prove that any of this happened (like most of what happens in Dark Souls lore- zing) but if Anastasia was traveling under an assumed identity and/or in disguise, it’s possible that history just never chose to remember her on her mortal adventures. Though I can’t really explain why a couple of the statues of her and Solaire, two disgraced gods, would still be standing. I’m just going to mulligan that one, I think. But, there’s also a handful of smaller details that can be gleaned from the story above.
- The Velka-themed miracle called Vow of Silence is used to disable all magic casting in an area. Not only would that declaw a divine being by removing their ability to use miracles and the like but the word “silence” alongside Anastasia’s muteness is worth nothing. Interesting, even after having her voice restored, she says, “…Forgive me…I am impure, my tongue never intended for restoration…Please, if you have any heart…Leave me be…I wish not to speak…” Not like I can blame her, with the huge crow standing near her at all times.
1.5. Interesting though, Anastasia remarks that she wishes to, “die human,” and be free of the curse of the undead. I take this to mean that she wants to die without turning hollow so she can be closer to her beloved Firstborn after death since he too is just a mere human now.
- After Anastasia’s soul is returned to her from Lautrec and the first Lord Soul is deposited into Firelink Altar, she instantly kindles the Firelink Shrine bonfire to maximum strength. Since (as far as I know) bonfires are indeed tiny First Flames, given that they revert the time stream back to normal and allow you to channel souls to empower yourself, Anastasia’s power over them in conjunction with a Lord Soul makes sense. Given that she’s Gwyn’s wife, she has a connection the Lord Souls, even if she isn’t a Lord herself. By returning a familiar power to a familiar location (the place where her husband descended down into the Kiln), Anastasia’s power would have also increased.
- Anastasia’s soul makes mention of her imprisonment, “Was the Ash Maiden locked in this dark prison for some transgression, or by her own will?” I think the former is true. She was crippled so she couldn’t leave her cave but also crippled so she couldn’t bring havoc to the world and exposing her son as a snake-wearing bastard. Her attempt to find her disgraced now-mortal son also probably gets tallied against her. Her robes also make mention of her maiming: “Perhaps its former wearer (referring to Anastasia’s death at the hands of Lautrec) was maimed to prevent escape?”
- I can’t entirely place this idea of mine, but I think it’s worth nothing that Lautrec takes Anastasia’s sole to Anor Londo, inside of Gwynevere’s cathedral.
- Anastasia being known as “from Astora” shows a connection with Solaire’s own relationship with the place. It provides evidence for them both spending lots of time there before eventually moving on to Lordran.
- The crow’s (thus, Velka’s) constant vigil over the Shrine shows that even now Anastasia is being watched. Her muteness at the game’s beginning is so she could not spread her blasphemy to your ears. Additionally, she still barely even talks once given the ability to again. That’s because mama Velka’s watching! Then again, you can just kill Gwyndolin and his stupid snakes anyway, regardless if you hear it from Anastasia or not. Anarchy wins again.
- Interestingly, if Anastasia is better off dead for the good for everybody, I always thought that Gwyndolin’s Darkmoon bounty on Lautrec could be a hint that he still cares for his mother. Or he’s just really into his job and doesn’t care who needs avenging. OR he just wants her to live out eternity while being miserable.
Here’s another funny note. Lord’s Blade Ciaran expresses disdain for humans, saying, “Hmph, you humans… Always taking what you please. Then, I shall do the same,” if you choose to attack her while she mourns over Artorias’ grave. Which is totally metal, by the way. And her armour is totally worth it. Anyway, it shows that there is a feeling of distaste amongst the more godly folk of Lordran. A theory was kicked around a while back citing that people like Ornstein and Artorias are so much larger than the player character because they’re A: Not human and B: In a state of being that gives them much more power than a human. In other words, even the servants of the divine are notably separate from humans. Now, if we look at Oswald and what he says about humanity, namely, “Tis only human to commit a sin *freakish laughter,” we see that humanity not only has a reputation for weakness but also for sin.
My, how fitting for a disgraced god! Condemned into a human form like her dearest son and meant to bear a soul of “swarms of humanity” in her chest.
I think that’s all I got for this theory. If I remember anything else later, I’ll add it as a footnote at the bottom. For right now, though, I’ll just let this almost-totally groundless and baseless theory based off of a botched text conversation between Alec and I (where I accidentally insinuated that Anastasia was Gwyn’s wife and we realized it might not be that insane after all [we were probably wrong in thinking that, though]) stew on the internet for a bit.
Oh and as a sidenote, Seath didn’t make Priscilla by having sex (consensual or otherwise) with Gwynevere. Because that theory reeks of grimderp and 2edgy4me ballyhoo.
Untilwe meet again, Questers!
I feel like I should do at least one more section on Dark Souls but, like Majora’s Mask, I really don’t have much to say beyond what I already have. Everything else is either pretty well-known (Solaire being the Firstborn) or something I’ve already kind of talked about (Velka’s involvement in the story). So we’ll see. You know what I really need to do, though? Update the freaking Lorequest page so its at least somewhat relevant!
But that takes woooooork.
Good luck, you brave writer (and gamer) folk!
- Pictures courtesy of ME. Since I got my game capture up and running for an afternoon.
- Pictures from the Dark Souls wiki. The best one.