An ode to Dark Souls’ mushroom lads

Deep within the Darkroot Forest, behind a door unlocked with the crest of a legendary knight, one thing lives among the many bushes that’s fairly in contrast to the rest on this mournful, sombre world. Youngsters sprint among the many bushes below the watchful gaze of their mother and father. There may be life right here. Not a facsimile, shadow, or twisted mockery of it, however life. Large, residing mushrooms.

Although lacking the white spots of the long-lasting fly agaric, the picture of red-capped mushrooms in an enchanted forest instantly conjures western fairy tales – though Darkish Souls’ use of Nordic mythology may additionally put us in thoughts of the fungi imbibed by viking berserkers earlier than battle, particularly since these mushrooms pack a belter of a proper hook. Both means, these odd creatures appear to make sense right here; a unusually harmonious a part of Darkish Souls’ world.

A quick mushroom-splainer (fungi-ntroduction?): The function of fungi in a forest’s ecosystem is to interrupt down natural matter and return it to the soil. A forest with out mushrooms is a forest with out life. One in all Darkish Souls’ central factors of battle is the Undead Curse, a illness that forces mortal beings to stagnate, severing them from the meant cycle. Are the residing mushrooms, then, the few remaining guardians of this pure concord that the curse has stripped from a lot of Lordran? They’re, at the least, a reminder that such a factor can nonetheless exist.

This lightness of function is paired with a lightness of tone. Animism is in every single place in Darkish Souls – even a number of the treasure chests are sentient – however the mushrooms alone possess such a whimsical, Ghibli-esque incarnation of it. Their rounded plumpness, their tendency to topple over, in distinction to the piercing branches of the realm’s different floric foe, the demonic foliage.

A mushroom family in Dark Souls

Demonic foliage, actually, will actively assault the Chosen Undead, mendacity in ambush and putting from afar. The Mushroom kids are one of many few non-hostile creatures within the recreation, and their mother and father solely assault while you get too shut. Their function is guardianship, not aggression.

They’re like punchy, protein-rich Loraxes

I believe rather a lot concerning the distinction, in worldbuilding, between tonal inconsistencies and the kind of seeming aberrations that truly find yourself contributing to verisimilitude. Or, to be extra concrete about it, how one thing like Princess Mononoke’s Kodama are a necessary a part of a largely darkish story, as a result of their cute oddness offers the distinction that makes us respect the abnormality and peril of the world’s present state.

I like to think about the residing mushrooms as one thing akin to Mononoke’s Kodama, a extra grounded tackle forest spirits, seen by way of the lens of a western fairy story custom with one foot within the mundane. Stalwart survivalists in a forest of vengeful spirits, possessed branches, and feral cats. Messengers for the bushes, like punchy, protein-rich Loraxes.

Dark Souls' mushroom lad throwing a right hook

When the Chosen Undead first falls to Firelink Shrine, launched by the talons of an enormous crow, it’s as a potential fulfiller of prophecy. That prophecy, we’ll later be taught, is a ruse. A story seeded among the many residing by a useless lord craving for kindling robust sufficient to maintain his legacy burning properly previous its pure span. Equally, a lot of the magic we encounter in Lordran is a fabrication. Miracles are the illusions of gods possessed of Olympian pettiness and fallibility. Sorcery is a artifical conceit.

Extra like this: Right here’s all the pieces we learn about Elden Ring

However there may be enchantment in Lordran, shuffling across the Darkroot Backyard or contained in the Nice Hole tree. Nurturing their very own offspring in hope for the longer term. Indicators of the character with which the land as soon as bloomed. A tiny spark of fairy-tale whimsy, just like the shimmer of a far-off bonfire, beckoning us by way of the darkish.

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