Shadow Of The Erdtree Unveils The Lands Between Is Built On A Graveyard

Betrayals and massacres, witness the bloody past the Golden Order doesn't want you to know.

Story Highlights

  • After a mind-blowing reveal, Elden Ring’s Shadow of the Erdtree presents an intriguing story trailer. 
  • From Marika’s origins and betrayal to the ensuing chaos and Messmer’s role, the potential is insane.
  • It still leaves Miquella’s intentions and possible choices unclear; shocking reveals are inevitable.

There’s no denying that the hype for Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree is unreal. The GOTY of 2023 and FromSoftware’s magnum opus deserves all the praise it gets, and then some more. Considering how incredible it was and that FromSoftware’s DLCs have always been sublime, the intense excitement is justified.

Back when the first trailer for the long-awaited DLC came out, I presented a humble analysis of it, as much as I understood. Now, with the story trailer revealed, here’s my two cents on what’s possibly going on.

YouTube video

The Erdtree’s Origins

As always, props to FromSoftware for making its trailers as cryptic as possible. Shadow of the Erdtree’s trailer raises more questions than answers, but it also hints at some fascinating lore. Before I begin, I should mention that this is just my interpretation of the trailer, and in no way the official or confirmed description. So, without further ado.

As soon as the trailer begins, we see a scenario that is hard to forget. Countless bodies piled together in the most grotesque way, forming huge walls, with a person standing amid this horrorscape. On close inspection, you’ll see this person closely resembles Marika, pulling out a golden strand out of god knows what monstrosity. Miyazaki’s Berserk inspirations never cease. 

Can this be the Crucible? | Source: Bandai Namco Europe
Can this be the Crucible? | Source: Bandai Namco Europe

There’s a high chance that this towering abomination built up of bodies was the entity that predated the current Erdtree. Yes, it seems this is the Crucible, and considering what we’ve seen of the Erdtree’s roots later on, it makes a lot of sense that the Crucible be made of flesh. Subsequently, the whole golden strand thing with Marika is most likely the point at which Marika acquired her authority as the “god.” 

Its the first few seconds that get me, What tf is she doing who did she kill? Who’s hair is that is she making a rune?
byu/DaltarIT24 inEldenring

Marika’s Betrayal

Moving on, let’s look at some of the dialogue. “Miquella the Kind spoke of the beginning. The seduction. And the betrayal.” This statement corresponds to the theory that Marika was initially from this realm called the Land of Shadows. I can’t explain what happened, but it had to do something with her betraying the people of the land, in an attempt to obtain her godhood.

“An affair from which Gold arose. And so too was Shadow born.” The Gold in this dialogue very likely refers to Marika’s acquisition of the supreme authority, subsequently moving to the Lands Between. The Shadow probably refers to Messmer and his annihilation of this Land of Shadows. There’s plenty of lore dump in Shadow of the Erdtree.

In a nutshell, Marika betrayed her homeland to attain her “golden authority” and creation of the Golden Order, while Messmer massacred the lot. Marika apparently didn’t want anything to do with stuff from this Shadow realm, and as such, factors like the Omen are so oppressed in the Lands Between. The Omen were probably the denizens of the Land of Shadow and were not welcome in Marika’s “perfect” world.

The cruel betrayal and the ensuing massacre | Source: Bandai Namco Europe
The Cruel Betrayal and the Ensuing Massacre | Source: Bandai Namco Europe

Even her own Omen children were either shunned or became absolute pawns loyal to the Golden Order. It makes sense why some of them tried to oppose it.

Messmer’s Role And Miquella’s Purpose

We then move to the second half of the trailer, where we see Messmer wreaking havoc and annihilating everything mercilessly while serving as the de facto “ruler” of the now-abandoned Land of Shadow. This is where my first question appears. Marika and Messmer never seemed like they were opposing each other, and were even in cahoots in all this destruction. Then why was Messmer left behind?

New Information from Bandai Namco
byu/levovit inEldenring

Did Marika betray Messmer too and leave him in a forsaken world, or did he stay behind on his own and hold down the fort for Marika? We’ll know when the DLC arrives. Anyway, Messmer isn’t the only focus here. Probably the most important person is Miquella here, whose intentions are what led to all this. “And so Kindly Miquella would abandon everything. His golden flesh, his blinding strength. Even his fate.”

It was Miquella who abandoned his body and became a spectral entity, traveling to the Land of Shadow which began all this. My question is, what were Miquella’s intentions in doing so? We see in Elden Ring’s lore that Miquella always sheltered those abandoned by the Golden Order and the Erdtree. He even went on to create a pseudo-Erdtree but failed. Is his ambition in traveling to this land an attempt to oppose Marika’s plans?

Was Miquella disgusted by the Golden Order?
byu/My-Fail-safe inEldenRingLoreTalk

Or did he make this journey solely to help Malenia, after exhausting all other options? Miquella’s true intentions are still a mystery to me.

More Than Just Black And White

I’m sure you’ve noticed this, but every information we’ve received about Shadow of the Erdtree may be cryptic, but there’s one thing it clearly states. Miquella is the “good,” while Messmer is the “bad” in the story. However, from my extensive experience playing Souls games for thousands of hours, I can say with confidence that FromSoftware’s games never had a clear Black and White.

For anyone who thinks Messemer will be the big bad of the DLC, remember that the original game trailer implied Godrick to be the main villain.
byu/ironwolf6464 inEldenring

The fact that Shadow of the Erdtree enforces this so much makes me all the more skeptical. I won’t put it past FromSoftware to put in a crazy twist you never expected. After practically indoctrinating you, the “grey” will come in to blow your mind. That has always been the case since the Dark Souls 1 era. The Age of Dark wasn’t necessarily bad, and the “gods” weren’t all that good either. There’s always a catch.

Miquella's intentions are still a mystery | Source: Bandai Namco Europe
Miquella’s intentions are still a mystery | Source: Bandai Namco Europe

This is precisely what I’m counting on in Shadow of the Erdtree. We don’t know the circumstances leading to Messmer staying in the Land of Shadow. Neither do we know Miquella’s true intentions for seeking this land out. The trailer is also hinting at Messmer being a solid mid-game occurrence, but something more past him for sure. If it’s a crazy twist about Miquella’s intentions being less than noble, trust me I wouldn’t be surprised.

Everyone is wrong about Miquella…
byu/HeWhoWritesBehind ineldenringdiscussion

Alternate Endings?

At the end, we see the dialogue “But we are not deterred. We choose to follow. Will you walk with us?” alongside what looks like Miquella’s loyal followers. The “Will you walk with us?” implies we can decide not to walk with them. Does this mean we are given the choice of selecting our faction? The morally grey zone argument is reinforced if there are multiple endings.

byu/Shad0w2 inEldenring

However, this could very well just be a question just for the sake of asking peoples’ enthusiasm, and could be nothing. FromSoftware’s DLCs never having alternate endings further back this up. But, there’s a first for everything. Is this the beginning of multiple endings in DLCs?

Join me as we find out together if all this is true when Shadow of the Erdtree lands on the PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC on June 21st, 2024.

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Hanzala is a dedicated writer who expresses his views as opinion pieces at eXputer. He's always been fascinated by gaming and has been an avid consumer of many different genres for over a decade. His passion for games has him eager to encounter the latest RPGs and actively look for new Soulslike to challenge. He puts forth his experience and knowledge of gaming into captivating opinion pieces.

Experience: 8+ months || Education: Bachelors in Chemistry.

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