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This is a "Wild Mass Guess" entry, where we pull out all the sanity stops on theorizing. The regular entry on this topic is elsewhere. Please see this programme note.
Dark Souls II
Beware of unmarked spoilers when threading around this page!

The Dark Souls world itself is subjected to the same cycle of death and rebirth as the Undead.
I firmly believe that Drangleic is build on top of Lordran. In fact, it's built on top of the kingdom that was built on top of Lordran. The whole theme of the game is about a cycle of life, death, and rebirth, endlessly repeating itself. A kingdom rises, prospers, but soon succumbs to darkness, and eventually, inevitably, is snuffed out. All life dies, but the souls remain, and from these souls life is reborn, returns to the surface, and rebuilds the world. This has happened at least twice before Drangleic—Straid of Olaphis mentions that he's never heard of it, and that his own kingdom has been destroyed long ago. Perhaps Lordran was merely the first kingdom, the very beginning of life in the world. Regardless, the only permanent thing in the world seems to be souls, which can reincarnate and manifest themselves over and over again. Except, the Dark Soul, the soul of Manus. The Dark Soul creates Abyss, which destroys ALL life. Ultimately, in both Dark Souls 1 and Dark Souls 2, you're not fighting to end the Undead Curse. The Curse is simply the nature of the world itself. You're fighting to preserve the cycle of life and death, against the constant threat of the all-consuming abyss.

Dark Souls II is a prequel that takes place inside the Painted World of Ariamas or at the location that inspired the actual painting.
Compare these two images
  • Jossed. It's a sequel. Doesn't mean that it can't feature the Painted World or its original inspiration, ofcourse.

Ariamis is not, nor was it ever a place. Ariamis is a PERSON.
It all makes sense. It's the Painted World OF Ariamis, and Priscilla's dialogue says that the painted world was created BY Ariamis. Something happens concerning the Dragon Castle that causes Ariamis to create the painted world.
  • This has already been confirmed in the first game by Priscilla's dialogue if she kills you during her boss fight.

Dark Souls II is a prequel that explains why Anor Londo was abandoned by the gods.
Based on this tweet from series creator and Dark Souls II supervisor Hidetaka Miyazaki.
  • Kind of confirmed-ish? The Giants in the game very clearly do not resemble the giants from Dark Souls, but have many of the same characteristics; aversion/attraction to fire, appearing to be made of dirt, and despise humans. Whether or not these are actually the same giants from Dark Souls is yet to be seen.
Priscilla will show up somewhere.
If it's the Painted World of Ariamis, there's a chance she will make an appearance.
  • Jossed. The dialogue in the game confirms that it is a sequel, even referencing once a 'figure who hoped to stoke the First Flame with his own soul'. The new setting seems to be a faraway kingdom, possibly built over Vinheim (The Slumbering Dragoncrest Ring suggests this is possible), and the Heirs of Sun covenant mentions that belief in the sun has fallen out of favor. This, too, would suggest it is later in the timeline. And although many Gods are referenced, almost none of them are Gwyn, or the other Gods from Dark Souls 1.

The moon on the HUD is for something similar to the World Tendency system from Demon's Souls.
Perhaps a day/night system, where the in-game time changes every couple of days?
  • Perhaps you can speed up the transition by choosing an option to sleep at a bonfire.
  • Jossed. The moon on the HUD is actually the symbol of the player's covenant, and the image changes depending on what covenant you're part of.

The distinction between Sorcery and Pyromancy is less defined
The E3 trailer has a player using a catalyst to fire what appear to be fireballs. That said, they act more like straight-up missiles as contrasting the grenade-like fireballs of Dark Souls, so it might be Sorcery trying to replicate the effects of Pyromantic Arts. If it does take place after the original, this may have been due to the death of the Witch of Izalith.
  • Oddly confirmed. Though pyromancy still requires a Pyromancy Flame, and spells are mostly non-elemental blue, a few spells do now utilize fire. Also, the Intelligence stat that controls magic now effects Pyromancy, making wielding of both a viable option. As a result, most mages also use Pyromancy...the line has definitely blurred. It looks like Pyromancy is a different art still though, putting the kabosh on the idea that the game's fire is the same as the Witch of Izalith's.

Dark Souls II takes place in the past when the old fire arts were still widely known
As mentioned above, in the E3 gameplay demo a character used a sorcery catalyst to use a fire spell. In Dark Souls 1, we learned that Pyromancy is relatively new, and only came into the world 1,000 years in the past. Before that, there were the old fire arts used by the Witch of Izalith and her Daughters of Chaos, which used traditional sorcery catalysts. However, after the Witch created the Flame of Chaos the old fire arts vanished from the wold. This is the description from the Izalith Catalyst:

“Catalyst of the Witch of Izalith of long ago, when her daughters were still flame witches, before they were engulfed by the Chaos Flame. Before the birth of pyromancy, their wands were mediums for sorcery, but knowledge of this flame sorcery has long since vanished.”

That the player can use fire sorcery heavily implies this took place before the birth of the Chaos Flame and Gwyn's Sacrifice.

  • Jossed. Again, the game seems to be set after Dark Souls 1, or in a similar time frame.

Dark Souls II takes place concurrently with Dark Souls
It's not a prequel, that's far too simple and straightforward for the series. It takes place at the same time as Dark Souls but elsewhere. What we've been shown so far is material from the first part of the game, which is very similar to Dark Souls. The point is that sometime during the course of Dark Souls 2, the Chosen Undead of Dark Souls will defeat Gwyn and become the Dark Lord, extinguishing all fire everywhere and plunging the world into complete darkness. Needless to say, this will radically alter the gameplay of Dark Souls 2 beyond that point. No more bonfires, for starters.
  • Jossed. According to the beta players, the item descriptions pretty much confirm that the game takes several centuries in the future after the first game.
    • Definitely confirmed as of today, as they revealed some of the Covenants today. One of them is the Heirs to the Sun, who worship the sun, which is now a lost belief. This outright confirms the game takes place a few centuries after the first one.

Dark Souls II will have much more of a horror game feel then the original
From what we've seen, enemies can break through walls, and there are many more portions with blood splatters everywhere, and a lot of dark areas. this may or may not be a single area in the game, but from what I've seen I can say it is certainly scarier than the original, and even on par with the tower of latria in Demon Souls.
  • Jossed. Kind of. Although it was advertised as being literally darker, and having a heavier atmosphere, the atmosphere is actually mostly brighter. There's still plenty of fridge horror and abominations though, and a Blighttown/Tomb of Giants type area. And THEN there's Freja,...

Dark Souls II fleshes out the alternate worlds as a part of its main plot and makes both of the first game's endings canon at the same time.
As we know, time and space were twisted in Lordran and many Chosen Undeads were performing their mission simultaneously in alternate worlds that sometimes bled together through ghosts, summons and invasions. However, this was mostly treated as a game mechanic, and wasn't given all that much explanation in the lore. This will be patched up in this sequel making worlds bleeding together into one its main conflict. What will happen when a universe where the Age of Fire continues comes together with one where the Age of Dark has been going on for centuries? Perhaps even throw a world where the Age of Ancients never ended into the mix? That should produce a lot of gameplay variation, as well as interesting areas and new lore.

  • Jossed. Although references are made to the first game, almost nothing tells you which ending might have happened. One reference is made to a 'Foolish man who tried to rekindle the First Flame with his own soul', though it's not mentioned whether this is Gwyn or the main character, while the fact that the Dark Sign is still around (as are the bonfires, etc.) suggests the Fire wasn't snubbed out, either. The focus instead seems to be on a war that took place between the human Kingdom of Dranleic, and a nation of Giants from across the sea. Importantly though, the Giants seem to be similar to the Dragons in that they are Ancient Ones, and believe that Fire is an affront to the world. The Humans and Dark Sign bearers, on the other hand, despise the darkness that created the Dark Sign Curse.

The goddess that Lautrec served in the previous game, Fina, orchestrated the Dark Sign, many of the events of Dark Souls, and will be the Big Bad of Dark Souls II
Warning: the following heavy speculation and I've drawn a few really long bows. I might have forgotten or misremembered certain lore aspects from Dark Souls/Demon's Souls. Feel free to correct anything

Fina is the goddess of love, but her love is proven - upon reading into Lautrec's armour and the ring description - as being very questionable. The ring disintegrates if one so much as tries to remove it. The armour's visual of a hand grasping tightly across the body at first seems to be a simple sign of protection, but if you think about the darker implications, then something else emerges. The visual isn't there as reassurance; it's there as a warning and a sign that she controls Lautrec utterly through his devotion to her. There is also a visual motif associated with the hand that I'll touch upon later.

Often when I read about Lautrec, people write his actions off as simply being selfish because of his general demeanor. And they assume that he murders the firekeeper because he just wants her soul for Humanity - as to avoid going hollow like so many others. This is reiforced by his seemingly cowardly nature: He murders the defenseless firekeeper in cold blood, he runs away with nary a trace, and he has to fight you with flunkies. I believe that this cowardly nature is, in fact, a red herring and that his phantom assistants during that fight are more largely meaningful than being simple flunkies. If one reads very closely at what Lautrec is doing - a different pattern starts to emerge from the fine details. When you find Lautrec in his cell, an explanation for why he is there is never offered. But down the stairs on the altar you can find the body of a deceased firekeeper. Perhaps Lautrec was put on trial for killing a firekeeper and then locked in the dungeon of the church. As well, the large knight that guards the firekeeper's body (and possibly Lautrec himself) is only seen in one other place: The Painted World. What is the other guarding? Someone that is considered highly, highly dangerous to the status quo. If Lautrec only murdered Anastacia out of simple opportunity and want of Humanity (selfishness), then why does there seem to be a history of him murdering firekeepers? My answer: Firekeeper souls are in fact a potent source of the Humanity, but he wanted that Humanity for entirely different reasons. In my opinion, Lautrec's goddess, Fina is the one that created the Dark Sign because she thinks that Humanity is too dangerous. She loves the inhabitants of the world, but she sees that Humanity only seems to cause suffering and corruption. She believes that the world would be better off without. That was Lautrec's given mission: To seek out and eliminate sources of Humanity. That's why he takes Ana's soul - not as a trophy, but so that either he can destroy it, or give it over to Fina that she might.

Okay, so why does she hold this view? Clearly it's not entirely baseless, but if she created the deeply flawed Dark Sign, then clearly something more tragic must've inspired this extremism. After all, most villains in Dark Souls started out with good intentions. The lore is one long road to Hell repeatedly paved over and over again with those good intentions. My theory: She is the Furtive Pygmy's sister/wife/mother/loved one. The Furtive Pygmy is one of the best examples of corruption if one accepts the implication that he is, in fact, Manus and that he was corrupted into that form. The reason that I draw this long bow comes back to the visual of the hand on Lautrec's armor. Where else is a hand largely seen? Manus; it's a rather large part of his aesthetic design, not to mention most of his ability. The sharing of the hand motif could easily symbolize their close connection - and possibly even their mutual descent into villainy. The Furtive Pygmy is implied to have been a bit manipulative himself, but his efforts as a whole seemed to be tied into helping humanity. He must have loved the human race, so it makes sense if he's closely related to the goddess of love. But what if he was also very curious about them? So he started experimenting with the actual essence of the human race - Humanity - and, long story short, it profoundly corrupted him into the lord of the Abyss, Manus. I think that Fina saw the corruption of The Pygmy into Manus closeup and started to see the corrupting nature of Humanity. If she was to rid the world of it and yet find a way to preserve humans, then the human race that she loves so much could be a free of the corrupting nature of their essence. Free of the pain and suffering caused by it.

It's also entirely possible that she herself was corrupted by it, but I see it as being poetic that the one true Big Bad is the one who isn't actually corrupted by Humanity, but is just another being trying to fight against the darkness caused by it.

Now, I drew this connection by looking outside of Dark Souls and into Demon's Souls. Specifically, I looked at the story of Yurt, Mephistopheles, and The Order of Souls. The Order of Souls is a relatively minor sidequest in Demon's Souls centering around The Order's apparent distaste for the Soul Arts. It's never explained why this distaste is there, nor is anything about the Order touched on at all. I have my own theory: Now, where do the Arts come from? One of the primary threads in the game is that, even though the practicers of magic/miracles/witchcraft don't necessarily get along or agree, all of the Arts seems to come from the same place: The Old One. Furthermore, it's implied that this magic is capable of corrupting those who use it in much the same way that Humanity does. What if that's the purpose of the Order? What if it's not just an 'evil for teh lulz' organization, but one that's using extreme methods in order to save reality? In Demon's Souls I felt as though this sidequest was setting up a larger thread that was to be explored later in the series, but unfortunately that didn't come to pass for obvious reasons. Most of Dark Souls characters and plot points are essentially Expy's of Demon Soul's reintroduced into a new setting. Of course, you might say, "Well, Yurt was just a mercenary. Lautrec actually served a purpose." My theory is that Lautrec isn't simply an expy of Yurt, but that he's actually a combination-character of Yurt's personality and Mephistopheles' higher purpose. I think giving him Yurt's demeanor and general look is yet another red herring to hide his actual purpose in the narrative - which is to introduce Fina much like Mephistopheles introduced The Order of Souls: As a future plot point. Both were made to look like an insignificant side story, but I think they were setting up something much larger.It's been said that Dark Souls II will be expanding on the origins of the undead and the Dark Sign, so I think I'm drawing a good bow here in saying all of this.

So yeah, why not?

The Emerald Herald and The Maiden In Black are some how related, possibly reincarnated
Both reside in their respective hub worlds, Majula for The Emerald Herald, and The Nexus for The Maiden in Black. Both are needed for the character to level up. With this, it could mean that The Emerald Herald could be trying to cure the curse, because she feels responsible, possibly had a hand in creating the curse, same as The Maiden in Black trying to lull The Old One back to sleep because she feels responsible for it.

Drangelic is Purgatory
Almost every character remarks on how only wanderers ever find their way there, many also wonder why they don't leave. The player had to enter by falling through a whirlpool of skeletal spirits, and the first area is even called "Things Betwixt". Death Is Cheap (ish), and many enemies and environmental features are humanoid. What does this add up to? To me, that Drainglaic is not a literal place. It is a metaphor, a buffer zone between the Abyss and the rest of reality.

Note, this theory also works for Demon's Souls and Dark Souls, it's just much more pronounced here.

The Old Dragonslayer really is Ornstein

This one's gonna be a little spoiler heavy. You have been warned.

In the first game, you fought and killed Ornstein, right? Wrong. It was explicitly stated that every god had long since left Anor Londo, save Gwyndolin. That would include Ornstein, who as one of Gwyn's Four Knights would qualify. What you fight is an illusionary guard for the illusionary Princess. He just happens to be backed by a lot more juice then the princess is.

The real Ornstein probably followed Gwynvere across the sea, like a proper body guard would, and eventually was corrupted by the Abyss. That's the Old Dragonslayer who you fight.

The Giants Come From The Continent In Demon's Souls
  • The fact that the giants are faceless humanoid abominations precludes them from being descendants of the Lords from Dark Souls. Here's what is known about the Giants: They come from across the sea. They are incredibly strong and tough. When killed, they cause trees to grow from their remains. In the game Demon's Souls, the Land Of Giants was so overrun by demons that the Maiden In Black had to close off the portal that led there, since there was literally no hope of anyone being able to stop them. Given that the boss, the last giant, is basically a gigantic zombie that does not hesitate to rip off one arm to use as a club, and his level of toughness (the guy is frickin' huge, and he's basically just a mook: there were hundreds of these guys that invaded), there's the possibility that this guy and his buddies were either the original giants, or the descendants, who had been corrupted by the power of the Old One, and went on a journey when the hero of Demon's Souls defeated the old one, looking for new territory. The Old One was basically a gigantic tree, so the death of his minions resulting in an abundance of plantlife makes a weird sort of sense.

    • This one is actually possible. Although Word of God is Demon's Souls and Dark Souls aren't related, there is a Continent across the sea from which an invading, barbaric Giant army came. And it's mentioned there were demons there, and monsters ran amok until the Giants conquered the far continent.

    • It gets better: The war likely ended with the Giants returning across the sea from the coast on which Majula is located; the "illegible" writing on the Majula monument actually has text in the post-release Portuguese translation ("The Giants crossed the sea, perhaps to return home."). We know that the majority of the fighting took place around Majula and the Forest of Fallen Giants keep. According to the official map of Drangleic, Majula is on the westernmost coast of the island, so it's safe to assume that if the Giants did leave Drangleic from Majula's coast, they went west. Here is the map of Bolataria from Demon's Souls, which lies west of an unnamed and unmentioned landmass that... has a remarkably similar coastline. Put through a few thousand years of erosion, that land could very easily be Drangleic with the Majula peninsula being one of the nearest points to Bolataria.

"The Duke's Dear Freja" was created by Seath the Scaleless
Think about it. Who do we know that has a penchant for creating horrible monstrosities, just because? Seath, of course. A two-headed spider would hardly be his weirdest idea. And remember, what area of Lordran did Seath own? The Duke's Archives, of course. The boss is called "The Duke's Dear". Seath the Scaleless is a Duke. Now, all of this is just speculation, it doesn't prove anything, right? Well, here's the clincher: When you kill Freja in New Game Plus, she drops a unique soul, called the "Old Paledrake's Soul", belonging to some ancient pale-skinned dragon. This soul allows you to forge the Moonlight Greatsword, the weapon obtained from cutting Seath's tail in the first game.
  • Building on this, Manscorpion Tark's dialogue heavily implies that Freja is Seath reborn, still indulging his hatred for his former dragon brethren by desecrating the corpse of one.

The Ancient Dragon is the everlasting dragon from Ash Lake in Dark Souls
All of the "dragons" you encounter in the Dragon Aerie are drakes (they only have two legs, with their "arms" being wings), except the Ancient Dragon which has four legs. Only everlasting dragons like Kalameet and the whelp in Ash Lake have four legs. Also compare the size of his head with the skulls of the Undead Dragons - he's only slightly bigger.

While it's been said the sequel takes place some centuries after Dark Souls, it seems more likely that a thousand or more years have passed. (Recall that Gwyn had been burning in the First Flame for a thousand years, but his name and religion still existed. Now he is all but forgotten.) This would fit with the Emerald Herald's description of the Ancient Dragon as having observed the world for ages.

  • The Ancient Dragon drops a Giant Soul, so it's possible that it is a 'fake' dragon, and someone somehow made a giant into a sort-of dragon.
    • I think it's probably just holding onto it. The Ancient Dragon Soul can be found in the Dragon Memory, and it seems to describe the same being who drops the Giant Soul.

Vendrick and the Giants were fighting over the Lordvessel, and this was part of Nashandra's plan
The Giant Lord soul states that "the Giants landed on the northern shores, and set siege to King Vendrick's castle to claim an invaluable prize." Wellager's ghost in Drangleic castle says that Nashandra came to Vendrick from another land and told him of this prize the Giants had, at which point Vendrick goes to war to get it. The Giants, in turn, do anything to retrieve it.

Why the Lordvessel? Aside from it being a holy relic from the Giants' past, as it was an heirloom of Gwyn's, what look like shards of it can be found underneath the manor in Majula near what seems like part of a collapsed fortification. Majula isn't far from the fort that the Giants are besieging in the various Giants' memories. The Emerald Herald constantly refers to Vendrick as a man who peered into the very essence of the soul. What better tool to use than a relic like the Lordvessel?

The Pursuer is either a servant Velka or Vendrick's former left-hand man, Raime the Rebel
The Pursuer travels on a giant raven, implying he has something to do with Velka, the Goddess of Sin associated with crows. Incidentally, Raime's favourite bird was the raven.
  • Raime, who had a disagreement with his colleague Velstadt (according to his greatshield's description), possibly over how to deal with the Undead outbreak, and was soon branded as a traitor for said disagreement, may have been judged by Velka herself, his punishment being to relentlessly pursue and slay bearers of the Darksign, a charge not even death would free him of.
  • To further fuel this, the Pursuer's greatsword and greatshield describe his slaying of the Undead as a way to amend one of his sins, which might have been disagreeing with Velstadt, and by extension Vendrick, who took draconian measures to prevent the spread of the Undead curse.
  • Possibly Jossed since you can fight two Pursuers at once in New Game+. It is possible that Raime was a Pursuer.

Nashandra's goal is to become the Dark Lord, or to at least usher in the Age of Dark
This idea presumes Drangleic is not Lordran and the Chosen Undead in Dark Souls linked the fire. Aside from her being a shard of Manus (which, if Manus is the Pygmy, all Undead are shards of him in a sense), Nashandra guided Vendrick towards specific goals that would enrich his kingdom. She encouraged his study of the essence of souls because she knew Vendrick would discover Humanity, the sprites from the first Dark Souls, and that their absence causes Hollowing more than garden-variety souls. Vendrick went Hollow as a result of going to the Undead Crypt for further answers because he rejected the idea that humans have dark souls.

Nashandra plays along with the Emerald Herald's/Ancient Dragon's game of sending Undead to link the fire in Drangleic because it allows her to collect more humanity and perhaps reassemble the Dark Soul itself (all the writhing skeletons in her dress could be those Undead?). Further, she makes an attempt to dissuade you from thinking the Ancient Dragon has the importance that the Emerald Herald ascribes it (she describes him as a false deity). She also coos at you as "her Undead."

Consider that if Undead are diverted to Drangleic to remove the curse instead of venturing to Lordran, there will be no pawns for the gods to use to sustain the First Flame.

The Darklurker is a another fragment of Manus
It's stated the Dark Chasm of Old is the remains of a long dead being. Said being would probably be Manus, the Father of the Abyss. Plus, the Darklurker shares a laser attack similar to Nashandra's signature dark beam, and one of the entrances to the Dark Chasm of Old is right beneath Castle Drangleic. It's also safe to assume Nashandra would be knowledgeable about the existence of another reservoir of Dark.
  • Nashandra herself is stated by Word of God to be the tiniest fragment of Manus' soul, making the Darklurker potentially more powerful than her (this can be somewhat be explained by its myriad of spells, which it unloads en masse against the player), although perhaps it's not as invested as her in trying to become whole once again.

the curse status is literally The Undead Curse
in both Dark Souls and Dark Souls 2 there has been a Curse status that reduces your maximum HP, though in different ways. in both, the curse seems to cause madness. Havel, a bishop of Gwyn, went hollow and mindless, attacking on sight. not something you'd expect a bishop to do. the player stays sane simply because if you had a limit on lives the game would be so much harder. in Dark Souls 2, many who are cursed are losing their memories and going mad. and the curse status makes you more hollow. the curse status isn't some sort of curse, it's literally just forcing the undead curse to progress further, dragging you further into madness. the ghosts of new londo could be the next step after completely hollow, simply becoming an ethereal ghost, or it could be they were special and that's why they became ghosts, and you need to be cursed to hit them. when cursed, the undead curse has progressed further and you can interact with the ghosts. this brings up disturbing implications about what purging stones are doing when you move your curse onto them...

the Ancient Dragon is not a true dragon, and in fact could be Lord Aldia himself.

Nashandra notes that the dragon is, "is a prop, a false deity." Indeed, your reward for defeating the ancient dragon is a giant's soul, while the actual Ancient Dragon soul can only be found using the Ashen Mist Heart on the crystal underneath the dragon corpse in Freja's arena. The description of the Ancient Dragon soul states that the soul was, "created by those who peered into the essence of the soul," and it was known that King Vendrick and Lord Aldia gained immense power through such knowledge of the soul.

To further delineate the connection between the Ancient Dragon and Lord Aldia, note the proximity of Aldia's Keep and the Dragon Shrine. It was known that the Keep housed a laboratory where creatures, especially dragons, were experimented on to find a solution to the undead curse. Additionally, multiple giant corpses can be found in Aldia's Keep, suggesting that the giants were experimented on in an attempt to replicate their great strength and immortality.

This explains why the supposed ancient dragon found in the Shrine drops a giant's soul: Lord Aldia, after discovering a method to fuse souls, merged his soul with the soul of a giant and transformed into the dragon. This unity of souls can also been seen in the Ancient Dragons dialogue. By stating that, "another stands before us," the ancient dragon implies that more than one consciousness exists within itself.

The Darksign "curse" isn't a curse at all.

It's simply the result of the Furtive Pygmy's Dark Soul being spread too thin thanks to the rising population. Before the Dark Soul was discovered, all "humans" were nothing but mindless Hollows. Splitting the Dark Soul among all humans granted them sentience, but it's losing effectiveness as humanity's birthrate is rising. That is why the Darksign persists regardless of whatever happened at the end of the first Dark Souls game: Hollowing is due to the weakening of the Dark Soul, not the First Flame. The only real "solution" to this problem would be to kill a lot of people. Building on this, Manus is what he is because he realized this was going to happen and decided to claim as much of the Dark Soul as he could to avoid going Hollow by killing other people and stealing their fragments. The result is that he's become a hideously powerful monster rivaling any of the original Lords. In theory anyone could become something like Manus if he/she stole enough of the Dark Soul for himself/herself. This is why one of his fragments, Nashandra and other beings corrupted by him have signature "Curse" attacks which turn people Hollow.

Nashandra brought the undead curse to Drangleic.

Her signature attack is Curse, that is forcing your hollowing and she's a soul fragment of Manus. It could explains how the curse suddenly appeared after the war with giants and quickly spread across the entire kingdom.

The Iron King was the Prince of Alken

Here's the facts that we know through several items' description:

Belfry Sol and Belfry Luna were created by a prince and princess, desperately in love but unable to be with each other. Belfry Sol is found adjacent to the Iron Keep. Mytha, the Baneful Queen, turned herself into a monster due to jealousy of her king's love for another, which was never acted upon but still drove her to madness.

All in all, this points to the Iron King being the Prince of the star crossed couple to which the Bell Towers refer.

Jester Thomas is the human identity of the Covetous Demon

He was Mytha's court jester who held a deep unrequited love for her and become a demon as he wallowed in his obsession. Defeating his demonic form frees his soul from his greed, allowing him to assist his savior as a phantom. He fights the former target of his affections both to repay the Undead hero and to grant his beloved queen peace. The reason he's so badass during the fight is The Power of Love.

The Bearer of the Curse didn't travel back in time to fight the Giant Lord
.

If you talk to the hag Melentia, she tells you that she's been alive since the war between Drangleic and the giants that destroyed the country, meaning that the Darksign has been around for at least that long. When you dive into the giant's memories of the war you get to keep whatever you find there. While it's possible, given the nature of the flow of time in the world of Dark Souls, that you really are traveling through time, it's also possible that the reason you keep all the items and souls you find there is because the Bearer of the Curse was actually there when it happened, had them already, and just forgot. After all, the Bearer of the Curse had already been wandering long enough to barely even remember their name, and they needed a Human Effigy just to remember who they used to be. It wouldn't be all that surprising if they forgot something as important as the way to claim the Throne of Want.

Lord Aldia is Navlaan's vessel.

Navlaan mentions that his vessel was an ambitious wizard who wanted to create new forms of magic, and that he is the result of one of those experiments. Experimenting with dangerous magic sounds like something Aldia would do.
  • It's more likely Navlaan is referring to his own body when he says 'my vessel'. If you visit him while Human he begs you not to release him, as he is dangerous and insane. Visit him as an undead, and his other personality speaks to you and asks you to do him some... er... favours. When you speak to this personality, listen carefully and it is clear he is talking about himself.
  • It's possible that "Navlaan" is a malevolent entity possessing someone instead of a more mundane split personality. Even if he is "just" insane, there's no reason he can't be Lord Aldia, though there's no real proof that he is either.
    • So is Navlaan the malevolent entity possessing Lord Aldia, or is Lord Aldia the malevolent entity possessing Navlaan? The Chaos set has the descriptor "he calls himself Navlaan now," so I'd think the former.
  • Adding to this, Aldia's experiment was an attempt to transform himself into an immortal Fenito like Agadyne. This is why he has the same blue skin as Agadyne. The same experiment had the unfortunate side-effect of creating another, more malevolent, personality which Aldia cannot control. Said personality currently calls itself "Navlaan".

Mild Manner Pate is not who he says he is...
I fully expected Pate to be the new Patches but he warns you fairly when you find him about both danger and the treasure ahead. It would seem that Creighton of Mirrah is just a rather bloodthirsty guy who is pissed he got backstabbed before he could backstab Pate. However I read a few interesting notes on a forum some time ago(switched computers since and lost the link).

The only other character to mention Creighton is Cale the Cartographer who said he saw someone who looked an infamous murdered from his homeland, and could only remember his name was "Cray" something. However the man who calls himself Creighton of Mirrah is wearing armor that covers his body entirely, making it hard to believe that Cale, who is probably hollowing a bit and could not even remember his name, would be able to recognize him wearing that armor(which is described as imitation of a famous knights armor once the player gets a set).

Pate, on the other had, has a very visible face and his set of armor's description all pertain to looking simple but being sturdy or deadlier than they appear. This lead the original poster on that forum, and myself after I read it, to conclude that Mild Mannered Pate might me the one responsible for the murderous reputation of Creighton of Mirrah and maybe that is why Creighton hides his face while hunting Pate down for revenge. Maybe they are secretly identical twins? Nothing indicates anything conclusive but it would not be Dark Souls if it did, and that is the way we tropers like it.

The Rotten is made up of undead who failed to accomplish The Emerald Herald's goals.

The Gutter, and the Black Gulch below it, is the waste dump of Majula. The Emerald Herald mentions that others have attempted to do what you are about to before, and all of them have failed. It would not be unthinkable that when any of these would-be kings finally lose their minds that they are disposed of by getting kicked into The Gutter sparta-style. The Great Old Souls return every so often(I cannot remember where, but this troper swears that some in-game fluff mentions Vendrick slaying all four before he ascended to the throne of Drangliec.) so it is possible that the cracked and mindless undead with drawn to the returning Great Soul, but since none of them were stronger enough to be its host singularly, it used all of them. And so The Rotten was reborn.

The Bellkeepers are crazier than you realize.
They consider anyone entering the bellfry an intruder, even if they already made a pact with said intruder to help defend the bells. This is why the bellkeeper phantoms still try to kill a Bell Guardian player and why Bell Guardian players end up invading each other so much. Easier way to picture this idea would be to imagine two of those derange midgets pointing at one another and yelling "TRESPASSER!" repeatedly.

Illusion walls are different because the knowledge of Dark Souls 1's illusion walls was lost.
This troper found it strange that instead of striking the "illusion walls" in Dark Souls 2 one had to press the actions button. Then it came to me, So much time has passed that no one remembers HOW to make the illusory walls anymore and settle for secret switches. Another point would be that Lordran was a kingdom of Gods and their servants, while Drangleic seems to have always been a mortal kingdom, well semi-mortal given the Undead Curse.
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