Within the Lands Between, there is a hidden location where the oppressed are protected and two demigods may be able to make the world a better place. You must, however, uncover a secret passage across the Giant Mountaintops to get there.
The Flame of Ruin is kept at the summit of the Mountaintops of the Giants, but there’s more to the Lands Between’s icy mountain range in “Elden Ring”. Malenia, one of the most powerful demigods and a Shardbearer, is also hiding here. You can take her Great Rune if you vanquish her, but first, you must locate her, which is no simple task.
You aren’t the first person to search for Malenia or her brother, Miquella. Sir Gideon Ofnir the All-Knowing, the Tarnished knight found in the Roundtable Hold, has been searching for these two demigods for quite some time. He thinks they’re at Miquella’s Haligtree, a rare, holy spot, but he has no idea where it is or how to get there. He is so desperate for the information that he is willing to wipe out an entire community to obtain it.
Of course, you can make your way to the Haligtree, where you’ll discover a lot about a rift in the Golden Order and a demigod who, although being immensely important to the Lands Between, has generally remained in the background. Finding the secret road forward, though, is difficult, and even if you do, you’ll have to question yourself if you’re on the correct track. Are you making the world of the Lands Between a better place or a worse place by invading the Haligtree to fight Malenia?
When we go to that bridge, we’ll cross it. This article contains “Elden Ring“ tale spoilers, as is customary.
Godwyn the Soulless and Castle Sol
The Grand Lift of Rold will transport you to a different area, but only if you carry a special medallion with you. The first half of the medallion was discovered in Liurnia of the Lakes, when we visited the Albinaurics’ settlement and met Latenna, the Albinauric woman. We can see what Latenna was trying to do and what Sir Gideon Ofnir’s man, Ensha, was looking for when he slaughtered everyone who resided there on the Mountaintops of the Giants.
As a spirit, Latenna provided the first half of the medallion and accompanied us on our journey. The second half of the medallion is kept at Castle Sol, a mountain stronghold. Commander Niall, the castle’s chief, guards the medallion, and while the legend surrounding him is a bit vague, we can infer a bit from a few artifacts dispersed around the region.
Niall, like others who had migrated north from the Altus Plateau, appeared to be a man in transition. It’s unclear what happened to Niall; whether he lost confidence in the Golden Order or simply became dissatisfied with his life. He traded his Veteran’s Prosthesis for the lives of captured knights, according to legend. Niall earned their loyalty by saving those who were about to die, and he rapidly raised an army “without a nation.” Niall stayed in Castle Sol to protect his lord, but judging by the ghost you see after defeating Niall, he failed miserably. That ghost reveals that Castle Sol’s lord, Niall, and his troops did pledge allegiance to a leader: Miquella.
We never encounter Miquella in the game, but we learn a lot about him from the plot, and he seems to have had a significant impact on the Lands Between despite his absence. In his youth, he was faithful to the Golden Order and produced spell presents for his father, Radagon, according to spells and objects linked to him. Miquella, on the other hand, got increasingly focused on assisting his two siblings with some catastrophic issues throughout time. When he discovered that the Golden Order couldn’t help his sister Malenia heal from the Scarlet Rot, he lost trust in the religion. Miquella made it his goal to save his brother when Godwyn the Golden was assassinated. To grasp this, we must first examine what occurred in the Night of Black Knives.
Godwyn was assassinated by the Black Knives, a squad of assassins who utilized swords laced with a fragment of Destined Death—the Rune of Death that Marika had taken from the “Elden Ring”. Death works differently in the Lands Between now that the Rune of Death is no longer in the ring; it’s why souls return to the Erdtree when people die, and why the demigods are practically eternal until you knock on their doors. People would cease to exist if the Rune of Death was in the “Elden Ring” and in play, and their souls would perish as well. That’s a natural occurrence, and the Lands Between used to work like this, with death giving way to life, as the weird Ancestor Spirits in the Siofra River and other underground locations teach us. Marika, on the other hand, altered reality by modifying the “Elden Ring”, abolishing Destined Death and causing souls to return to the Erdtree after death, resulting in the Golden Order.
Death was stranger than typical in Godwyn’s case. Both the body and the soul can be slain in Destined Death, which seems to be the natural order of things. However, Godwyn’s body survived the assassination, but his spirit was killed. (According to what we learn from Ranni’s narrative, this outcome was intended all along, with the Black Knives assaulting Godwyn in such a way that only kills his soul; it’s convoluted.) Godwyn became renowned as the Prince of Death, the patron saint of Those Who Live in Death, yet he’s essentially an immortal body with no driver.
There are a lot of strange things going on in the Lands Between—you can even discover Godwyn’s body—but for the time being, the main aspect is that Godwyn is now a kind of vegetable, and Miquella had evidently intended to help his half-brother. As we learn from a ghost at the top of Castle Sol, seemingly the spirit of the lord whom Niall and his troops served, he resorted to the people of Castle Sol and those who knew anything about the eclipse for assistance.
We can learn more about the knights of Castle Sol by looking into their activities. The ethereal, headless mausoleum knights that can be spotted around the enormous wandering mausoleums—even there’s one near Castle Sol—have eclipse insignias that reflect the iconography that’s important to another group. According to the lore related to the Eclipse armour you may receive from the mausoleum knights, they’re a group that protects “soulless demigods,” even chopping off their own heads so they can continue to serve in Death. It appears that these knights were dedicated to Godwyn in particular, potentially even becoming Those Who Live in Death in order to consider serving him.
SmoughTown, a YouTuber, has a fantastic video about Miquella and his relationship with Godwyn, which goes into far more detail than we can here. It appears that the tomb knights hoped that the eclipse’s power, in conjunction with Destined Death, could have resurrected Godwyn and restored his soul.
The ghost at the top of the castle hints that Castle Sol and Niall worked for Miquella in this regard, attempting to restore Godwyn’s soul through the eclipse, with Miquella reportedly promising them a position at the Haligtree if they succeeded. They eventually failed, though. The ghost argues that failure meant Niall and his men’s spirits were trapped in the castle for all time, guarding the medallion piece but unable to reach the Haligtree themselves, similar to the headless mausoleum knights who have dedicated their lives to defending wandering mausoleums.
The Snowfield of Consecration
You can reach the Consecrated Snowfield via the Grand Lift of Rold with Niall’s portion of the medallion. Albinaurics and terrible spirits patrol the area, and there are caravans of people who appear to be lost in the blinding snowstorms, hoping to reach Miquella but unable to do so.
Ordina, Liturgical Town, a spectral place occupied by a few living Albinaurics, but largely spirits, can be found further on. The town is more of an evergaol than a town, yet it serves as the Haligtree’s last magical line of defense, and it’s where Latenna and the Albinaurics attempted to flee before being killed by Ensha on Sir Gideon’s orders.
You’ll locate a big Albinauric woman at the Apostate Derelict, a nearby ruined church, completing Latenna’s task. Latenna discusses how Phillia, the great Albinauric, can use the Birthing Droplet to serve as the Albinauric people’s destiny. Again, there are gaps here, but we may conclude that when Latenna and the Albinaurics of the Liurnia village were assaulted by Ensha, they were attempting to lead them here, to Ordina. The Albinaurics appear to have fled to a new home, one where they would not be forced to serve others, as they appear to be doing in Liurnia, or tormented and slain, as they were at Volcano Manor.
Remember that Albinaurics are people who were made by humans, ostensibly using magic, therefore the Birthing Droplet is likely required for the Albinaurics to reproduce. We’ve seen that second-generation Albinaurics resemble frogs rather than people, so we can assume that this inferior type of Albinauric is the result of reproducing without the assistance of the Birthing Droplet. But, once again, we don’t really know—outside of the catastrophes they’ve endured, information about the Albinaurics is sparse.
Ordina actually functions as a mini-dungeon; to gain access to the Haligtree, you must first enter the evergaol at the top of the village. There are Black Knife assassins inside the evergaol, which is a unique inclusion. Because several convicts walk the gaol and the evergaol spans the entire town, it appears that this gaol is more about guarding the way to the Haligtree than it is about imprisoning these people. It’s unclear what connection the Black Knives have with the Haligtree, especially considering the Black Knives are to blame for Godwyn’s death. We don’t know much about them, but their presence here seems significant.
Lighting several magic lights inside the evergaol activates a magical seal that allows you to depart Ordina and travel to Miquella’s kingdom, the Haligtree. We learn a lot more about the Empyrean, the one who might have come closest to saving the Lands Between after the Shattering, and we gain a feel of what Miquella is all about.