*WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FROM (almost) ALL MOVIES FROM THE MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE*
Regard the image above of the six infinity stones. We are aware of the location/obvious existence of the first five. The soul stone, however, still remains a mystery to us. Many believe the soul stone will be officially introduced in Thor: Ragnarok. It is the perfect time, isn’t it? Nonetheless, that doesn’t necessarily mean we haven’t seen the soul stone yet. In fact, I’m 99% sure we’ve seen it already in Thor: the Dark World, although the Aether was focused on. Not convinced? Hear me out:
(The basis of the following theory is not mine, I watched a video about it elsewhere. However, I am here to provide supporting evidence that the video did not.) Heimdall states in Thor: the Dark World “I can see nine realms and ten trillion souls.” Souls. Next, we observe his eyes:
The same color as the soul stone, right? Next is evidence that was not provided in the video. If you think back to The Avengers: Age of Ultron (which happens place after this movie), you’ll remember Scarlet Witch putting the Avengers into dream states, showing them their worst nightmares or blissful delusions. Thor’s was of Asgard, with people eerily dancing in the background, and Heimdall, not his usual self:
While holding Thor, Heimdall says something along the lines of “Don’t you see? We are all dead!” Pleasant.
As he is saying so, his eyes a nothing but a blur of milky white. What happened to his glowing, orange eyes (and more importantly) his pupils? Perhaps Heimdall controls the soul stone, and therefore it shows in his eyes? And when it is taken from him, his eyes appear as they do in the dream. After all, we saw in The Avengers how, when Loki mind controlled someone, their eyes glowed the same bright blue as the color of the stone? Same concept. Maybe, In Ragnarok, the soul stone is taken from Heimdall.
There is, however, one important thing from Thor: The Dark World that you may have missed, that most of us missed, even though Marvel shoved it right in our faces:
Yep. That sure looks like it could be the soul stone to me, resting in Heimdall’s armor. (This, in case you wanted to look for yourself, is taken from the scene where Thor explains his plan to his friends).
So, it seems very likely that, yes, that is the soul stone, but something might happen to it in Thor: Ragnarok. I guess we’ll find out on November 3rd!
So before I go on, I guess I should make it clear that I haven’t played DS3 or DS2. So, if there’s any information that contradicts or explains something, I probably don’t know about it. I’ve just got what I absorbed through pop cultural osmosis.
I don’t really have any particular order or priority in mind for what I’ve got to say, so this could be kind of all over the place. If you want to know my opinions on something in particular, you should probably drop me a message or a leave a comment or something. With that said, let’s start at the very beginning. I understand that it’s a very good place to start.
Dragons in Dark Souls
So, the Everlasting Dragons. I guess they’re the start of Dark Souls. In the beginning, it was all stone and mist and arch-trees and dragons. Everybody and their mother knows from the interviews with Miyazaki that the dragons are more like elementals than flesh and blood creatures. Their scales are made of stone, the same way the arch-trees are made of stone. So the dragons, the trees, and the earth are essentially all one in the same, to some degree. At the very least, the dragons are part of the landscape and the trees might be their own separate things, what with being the pillars of worlds and all.
Anyway, this is all to get around that whole disparity of existence thing. Rocks don’t die; they’re not alive, but they don’t die, or become undead, or whatever. They still succumb to entropy, but that’s real-world science being applied to a very broadly painted mythic portrait. The way I figure it, the dragons just sat around for millennia, fusing with the ground, coming out of the ground, going back to the ground, all in an endless cycle with no actual beginning or end. Seems appropriate.
Now here’s where things get tricky; did the Everlasting Dragons know about the First Flame and the Lord Souls? Were they trying to keep them down? If they didn’t, then the war against the dragons was perpetuated solely by the Lords; they began a fight with creatures completely beyond their comprehension and perspective. But then, why have a fight? The Lords didn’t even want the place that the dragons had; that would become Ash Lake. The Lords wanted the luxury suite in the arch-tree’s branches. (Whether that refers to exclusively Anor Londo or reality as a whole, I don’t know. We’ll get there when we get there.)
The way I see it, the Dragons did have some agency in this conflict. They didn’t just happen to be there. They were guarding the arch-trees, trying to stop the Lords from establishing reality. They actively opposed the First Flame and the cycle it brought. But why exactly? Well, the obvious, existential answer is that they wanted to avoid the pain and chaos of being. Why go through life and death and all that humdrum when you can be an Everlasting Dragon? Then I thought that it might be to avoid The Dark, or Death, or whatever else; something so horrible that the high point isn’t worth it, that an eternal purgatory is better than having to live with the worst. But then I started noticing details about the dragons;
Stone Dragon. Last of the OG Everlasting Dragons. Hatched in secret or hid away somewhere. Possibly also a Bonfire Maiden, but that doesn’t make any sense (or does it?). Offers Nirvana by offering an escape from the cycle of Light and Dark by becoming somebody’s scale-sona. Anyway, count the limbs on this guy and the dragons from the opening cut scene; four legs, four wings. That’s eight limbs in total.
The Gaping Dragon. Coolest dragon in dark fantasy. Succumbs to the pleasures of the flesh and grows a giant ass mouth to feed its gluttony, because Soulsborne runs on that kind of fairy tale logic. Locked up in Blighttown for a long while until its jailers were too weak to contain it or feed it; probably both. Got hungry, escapes, rampage. I like to think it was worshiped as some kind of sewer god for a while, but that’s pure fancy. On topic; four wings, and… well, eight legs. Twelve limbs in total, but I think we can make an exception given the whole freakish mutation thing.
Now Seath? Seath’s another horrible, freakish mutant. He’s got two arms, six wings, and a whole bunch of tentacles/tails. So that’s eight limbs plus whatever’s going on down south. I’ll be honest, I was going to cover Seath as his own separate business later. But Seath is important; Seath is described as being born. Not fissioning out of the stone, but being born. Birth is tied to death, implying that Seat, unlike the Everlasting Dragons, is tied to the cycle of existence. The whole point that I’m making over these last three is that the original Everlasting Dragons come with eight limbs.
Cut to Kalameet. So called by Gough as the ‘last of the great dragons’. Big boy. (That gemstone in his head might be a nifty callback to draconic lore; in both the East and the West, dragons were described as having magical glowing gems that they stored in their head. In the East, these were the pearls that lung used for flight and to control the sea, while in the West, these gems were the dragon’s actual brain, and had fantastic divinatory and alchemical properties.) I imagine he started rampaging around Oolacile after the Dark hit and the Four Knights fell to shit. But count his limbs; two wings, four legs. Six limbs. If Kalameet is the ‘last’ of the great dragons, then that means he is well after the Lords won against the Everlasting Dragons. He may even have been born in the last days of the war proper. But in any case, Kalameet is literally lesser than the Everlasting Dragons.
Similarly, we don’t know a lot about the undead dragons, but they follow the same basic rules. Four legs, two wings; less than the Everlasting Dragons. What’s more, they’re actually well and proper dead. I mean as much as anything that’s undead (and not an Undead) is dead. They’re corpses animated by some kind of magic or willpower, that’s all. But the cycle of life and death has absolutely affected them.
Also, their asses are in Izalith. I have no idea what that’s about. It honestly kind of infuriates me. I feel like I could just put the word “IZALITH” in great big, bold letters over these things and anybody who actually played this game would understand. Maybe something cool happened. Maybe the Lords fought their last epic battle against the dragons at Izalith, and dragon butts are all that remain. Maybe the Witches tried to enslave or tame the dragons, and when the Flame of Chaos destroyed Izalith, it killed the dragons, and the demons and dragons fought in some Heavy Metal war of fire and claws! Yeah! But probably not. Because it’s Izalith. So the answer is ‘rushed development’.
And at the very bottom are the dragons of today. Interchangeably called ‘drakes’ or ‘wyverns’, they have two wings and two legs; a paltry four limbs compared to the Everlasting. The Hellkite is a dangerous enemy, but the Blues are easy pickings for the patient knight. Ornstein hunts them for sport. (Have to guess that he must have started slacking off if something as big as the Hellkite could grow up there.) Even their habitat doesn’t acknowledge them as dragons; it’s ‘Valley of the Drakes’, not ‘Valley of the Dragons’. In essence, the Everlasting Dragons devolved; over the generations, they became less and less until their current descendants are no better than animals. Could it get any lower than this?
The answer is yes. The hydra is barely even acknowledged as a pseudo-dragon. The only thing that even ties them to dragons is that they drop dragon scales and are in the vicinity of dragons or something that a dragon made. It has no limbs, unless you count its ray-like flippers, and a bunch of seemingly useless tendrils hanging off it. I’ll be honest, the hydras kind of piss me off; the one in Darkroot I can understand, but how the Hell did one get into Ash Lake? It’s one thing for basilisks and mushroom folk to be there; they came in through the arch-tree. But how did a sixty foot long aquatic reptile get there?
I don’t know; frankly, I don’t think there is an answer. The best I can come up with riffs from Norse mythology. If we assume that the arch-tree is Yggdrasil, then the Stone Dragon is Nidhoggr, the dragon at the bottom of the world. In some versions of the myth, Nidhoggr is surrounded by a nest of lesser serpents. So the hydra is the Stone Dragon’s guardian? Offspring?
I guess I’m not really talking about all the dragons of Dark Souls if I don’t talk about the Path of the Dragon covenant as well. It really is kind of analagous to Buddhism in a weird way; through the Stone Dragon, you can escape the cycle of life and death, becoming, like the Everlasting Dragons themselves, something beyond any of the Lord Souls. In a way, it’s perfect for Undead; as a being already outside the cycle of life and death, an Undead is closer to escaping it than almost any other creature in Lordran. All they would need would be that final push to make the transformation a permanent part of themselves.
Of course, there may be a more petty side to the covenant; given that the covenant operates on dragon scales, it might be that the Stone Dragon intends for its servants to hunt down lesser dragons like the drakes and hydras. There’s no evidence to that, however, and it frankly seems beneath the Stone Dragon. Remember, its motivations and mindset are unknowable to anything derived from the Lord Souls. Petty vengeance doesn’t seem like it’s M.O.
So what’s all this add up to? Nothing much, really. It’s just what motivated the Everlasting Dragons, the setup to the establishing conflict of the Dark Souls mythos. The Dragons weren’t afraid of dying or the Dark; they were afraid of watching their own devolution. Somehow, I think, they knew that the cycle would wear on them, generation after generation, until dragons were little more than animals. Time ruins all things; it’s one of the big recurring themes of the Souls series. Even Dark Souls 2 (which, as I understand it, is stuffed to the gills with dragons) understood that.
The Dragons’ fight was the fight against definition itself; not as simple as stagnation versus chaos, but against the very act of being in and of itself. And I guess that adds up to what’s valued as important in the Souls universe; ‘existence’ is synonymous with ‘definition’. The very act of perception and processing that perception is the heart of reality, a notion that goes all the way back to Demon’s Souls.
Ultimately, like I said, it doesn’t really matter. The dragons are dead, stupid, or in hiding. But they tell us about the tone of the universe, and I had to start somewhere. Thanks for reading this far! Anything to add or ask for the next rambling?
“Oh, my new friends, before creation itself, there were six singularities, then the universe exploded into existence and the remnants of this system were forged into concentrated ingots… Infinity Stones.”
Myths on Magic: Koschei the Deathless and the Winter Order
Koschei was Deathless they said. A Horcrux for a heart, a Horcrux in his head, and both ever-regenerating, made from long-ago thieved Philosopher’s Stones, made the old way, not with elements and magic but with the bones and brains of newborns, fresh and alive with youth and magic.
Not only was he impossible to kill, but he was truly unaging, the stones seeping their elixir into his bones and muscles and blood. He did not bleed red as your I, the babushki, the grandmothers would say. He bled a golden ichor, like the gods.
One in his heart, one in his head, that was the trick. Before the knowledge of Greek Healers, headed by Galen and Hippocrates and Asclepius headed into the cold expanse to the north one man stole two sacred stones, split his soul and made them reliquaries, and had the stones placed in his belly. He almost died then. But he lived and the stones, they think, saved him.
They merged together in his belly and when he died the first time they remade his body without the aid of others, and the stones remade themselves as two, one embedded in his brain, one buried beneath his heart. Stab him in the heart and his head heals. Crush his skull and his heart reconstructs.
Koschei founded the Winter Order, after a fashion. Followers who found his ability to live on, unaging, undying unusual. They made their own, perhaps more viable, horcrux, of their very country. How can they die when Russia lives?
And indeed they did not, though Koschei did. Stabbed in the heart, head crushed, neither stone could quite fix him. The Winter Order buried him, a vault of his own, hidden Chernobog knows where. Some say, like the Briton’s Arthur, he is only sleeping, that one day he will wake and return to us. That he sleeps and recuperates, that one day, one day when we most need him, he will return.
We know not. The Winter Order selected a new leader, and followed a small cycle, all those of sufficient seniority allowed to rule for half a century or so. Chernobog had his turn, the twin Zorya - both Untrennyaya and Vechernyaya -, Rasputin, all held the mantle of Deathless in their turn, all had their chances to direct the future of Russia.
They do not call themselves immortal, the Winter Order, though they might have every right to name themselves as such. But they claim they are no better than mortals, they are nobodies, nobodies who have given their selves away to make greater Mother Russia. Not all of them are even Russian, are even human.
They are changeable, the babushki said, as the winds, and like the winds answer to none but themselves. The Czars had no power over them the undying, nor the Dictator, nor the KGB. How do you threaten an army of them that are faceless, undying and as eternal as the ice of Mother Russia? And who, when they are needed, will turn back Charles XII of Sweden, will turn back Napoleon, will turn back Hitler?
It was against Sweden their true power came out, scorched earth, the Czar had asked for, to let the Swedes starve in the winter. And implacable as that same winter the Winter Order wielded their magic and with a wave fire flew forth.
Burn, Retreat, Freeze.
The motto of the Winter Order. If you hear it said, leave. If you hear it said, do as the cloaked men, women and monsters ask you to. Or you will die in the flames and frost.
They aren’t real, are they babushka? The Winter Order? So many children ask, half afraid of of the faceless, nameless Order that protects their country.
But no one knows child. The Church perhaps. The Czars once. But they are of magic, and only the magi know what of that is true.
Sometimes you come up on the Emerald Herald while she’s seated and looking at something and I know it’s supposed to be like she’s staring into the Bonfire but the angle makes it look like she’s gazing wistfully over at Chloanne
Romance is tough in Drangleic when your job gets in the way and everyone’s either a weird asshole or a zombie or both