*Spoilers up to and including the capital’s hidden area*
Like Anor Londo before it, Elden Ring’s capital city took my breath when it first came into view. Its grandeur was all I had imagined while traversing the outer provinces. Walls built by means beyond human ken. A dragon petrified mid-battle like some grotesque diorama. The luminous Erdtree – this world’s replacement for the sun – is locked in perpetual autumn.
It was gorgeous. There’s no denying it. But what was this place like in its halcyon before the Shattering? Is that not what drives our quest from the start – a vague desire to return to some mythical time when the world was beyond reproach?
Behind Lendyll’s crumbling walls were truths which belie the splendor. Houses sealed shut with Maliketh’s corpse wax. A revolt in one of the lower quarters, and reinforced gates that hint that violence was not unexpected.
Worst of all, the subterranean shunning-grounds where the dregs are tossed and abandoned. Curses and rot fester just below that white-stone surface, a cache of scarcely hidden shame.
I had to know the truth.
Suddenly, the slanderers of the Two Fingers seemed more enlightened than sinister.
I will not burden you with a recounting of all the horrors I found beneath the city, except to say that nothing could have justified the Golden Order’s deeds.
I descended, bearing witness and passing judgment. Somehow there was a survivor. Even then he filled the air with song. No blades were drawn and no words were spoken. I savored his somber music until they, it, was swallowed by the depths.
More graves, more darkness. At the terminus of the pit was a truth-speaking maiden. Her words would have seemed mad before, but they rang true after seeing what lay below the Royal Capital. What good has the so-called Grace done for the Misbegotten, the Omens, the Albinaurics?
It was for that reason that I took another path and accepted a profane and smoldering embrace. I grasped truth, and truth grasped me. The gilded past was always a lie. The roots were rotten, the foundation beyond redemption.
Everything was different when I returned to the Erdtree’s light. In my character’s eyes was a flame of righteous frenzy: Chaos not for its own sake, but as a means of breaking chains, of burning the foul to create something new from the ashes.
Elden Ring lets you choose which sort of Lord you’ll become, but it also lets you reject the premise entirely. I love that.
Words: C.M. Shigeta
C.M. Shigeta writes fantasy and horror with a focus on human corruption and flawed divinity, visit his site for more.
Previous entries of The Tarnished Diaries can be read here.