In “Elden Ring”, what happens? Part 8 of the Game’s Story: Miquella’s Haligtree

Traveling through the Consecrated Snowfield will lead you to the Haligtree, where the demigod Miquella attempted to establish a safe haven and where you will face Malenia.

During “Elden Ring’s” voyage through the Lands Between, we’ve seen some fairly horrible places where a lot of people have been tortured and murdered. However, bypassing through the Consecrated Snowfield, we can finally reach a place that isn’t quite so terrifying—at least on paper. Miquella’s Haligtree is another massive tree that was previously thought to be the home of a new religion to take the place of the Golden Order and the Erdtree itself. But nothing good can survive the Lands Between, and the Haligtree is no exception.

Malenia, Blade of Miquella, is a demigod Shardbearer hiding in Miquella’s Haligtree, waiting for you to confront her. She’s the demigod that battled Radahn and covered Caelid in Scarlet Rot, and she’s still a strong opponent. We can also learn about Malenia’s brother, Miquella, albeit you will not be able to combat him. Even though we never meet Miquella, there’s a lot of backstory surrounding him, and his influence on the Lands Between is enormous.

Here’s everything you’ll find as you descend down to battle the Goddess of Rot herself in the Haligtree. This page contains numerous spoilers; you have been forewarned.

Unalloyed Gold with Miquella

The Oracle Envoys, those strange trumpeters from Leyndell, are the first thing you’ll notice when you arrive at the Haligtree, starting at the top. As previously stated, oracles are non-human creatures who appear to herald the birth of a new god or the start of a new age. Malenia, a demigod and Shardbearer whose Great Rune you could claim, is waiting deep below, and the Envoys appear to be here for her since the lore you’ll learn later says she’s on the verge of becoming a deity. They could also be cheering for Miquella, who appears to have come the closest to ushering in a new era in the Lands Between after the Golden Order’s demise and Marika’s disappearance. Miquella’s preparations, however, have failed, and he is no longer at the Haligtree.

Even though we never meet Miquella, we know a lot of information about him. He’s locked in the body of a child, despite his age and apparent knowledge. Malenia, his sister, is afflicted with Scarlet Rot, but Miquella has a juvenile appearance. That’s presumably why Malenia is known as Blade of Miquella—extremely she’s loyal to her brother, and she fights on his behalf because he can’t.

Miquella labored tirelessly to save his sister Malenia from the disease of Scarlet Rot, in addition to helping Godwyn. The rot is a horrible sickness that has ravaged Caelid, and when Malenia fought Radahn in the Shattering, the rot infected him so badly that it drove him insane, despite the fact that it couldn’t kill him due to his demigod status and the world’s lack of Destined Death. Miquella’s efforts to combat the Scarlet Rot caused him to leave the Golden Order—his parents’ faith had failed to cure his sister, so Miquella turned to other options. His research compelled him to seek out ways to minimize the influence of Outer Gods in the Lands Between.

We’ve talked about Outer Gods before, especially in relation to the Greater Will, but Malenia appears to be a victim of a different Outer God—the rot god. Except for the fact that it is responsible for Malenia’s Scarlet Rot, little is known about this Outer God. Miquella’s efforts and break with the Golden Order appear to have pushed him to reject all Outer God influences; he desired freedom for himself and the Lands Between. To accomplish so, he invented Unalloyed Gold, which is both a physical substance and, it appears, a wider metaphor for his interpretation of the Golden Order as a religion and a government. Unalloyed gold is another term for “pure” gold or gold that has not been tainted by the presence of other metals. When we talk of Unalloyed Gold, we’re referring to Miquella’s vision of the Lands Between that hasn’t been tainted by the influence of the Outer Gods.

Unalloyed Gold, on the other hand, is a real physical object that Miquella made to ward off the power of the Outer Gods. You might have witnessed Unalloyed Gold in action if you met a couple of people in Caelid, the sage Gowry and the Scarlet Rot-afflicted woman Millicent. The Unalloyed Gold Needle can be obtained through Gowry’s quest. In reality, you’ll have to fight a man named Commander O’Neil and his soldiers to retrieve the needle. Elden Ring employs a lot of elements of Irish culture and language, as Cian Maher pointed out at Inverse, with the name O’Neil strongly suggesting this is the son of one Commander Niall from Castle Sol. If O’Neil is a Miquella loyalist, it makes sense that he would have the needle. Gowry has his own reasons for wanting the needle, and while we won’t go into the quest involving him and Millicent just yet, you can see how Unalloyed Gold works when you deliver the needle to Millicent during that quest. The Scarlet Rot infection is fought with the Unalloyed Gold needle; it does not cure it, but it fully arrests it because Unalloyed Gold battles the influence of Outer Gods.

Miquella would go beyond simply trying to find a way to counteract the Outer Gods’ influence or break with the Golden Order. He also attempted to replace the Erdtree, attempting to provide an alternative to the old way of life as well as a safe haven for those oppressed by it. Miquella represents an alternate religion and government for the Lands Between in a very real way, but one that was never able to take off due to what transpired after the Shattering.

The new order of Miquella

The city of Elpheal, Brace of the Haligtree in its branches and encircling its base, can be found as you climb down the Haligtree. Many of the Misbegotten, a race of winged animals you’ve probably seen before, live in that metropolis. They’re notably common on the Weeping Peninsula, where Castle Morne is located. If you speak with Edgar, the castellan there, and his daughter Irina, you will learn that the Misbegotten was human servants and probably slaves. They revolted and seized control of Castle Morne, which you can see if you go there. As a result, it appears that the Misbegotten in the Haligtree, like the Albinaurics, are yearning for a better existence.

Loretta, Knight of the Haligtree, is also guarding the path down to the city a bit lower down. You may recall Loretta from Caria Manor in Liurnia of the Lakes, where you battled a magical projection of the same knight. At the Haligtree, we discover a lot more about Loretta, which fills in some more gaps in the Albinauric plot. Loretta was previously a Carian royal knight, but it appears that after Rennala’s mental breakdown, Loretta left Caria Manor to join Miquella. She left the magical projection of herself behind to attend to the manor’s tasks, but there wasn’t much left to guard.

Loretta’s armor, especially her shield, shows she may have been an Albinauric herself. Given that she’s always on horseback, that would make sense (Albinaurics notoriously have bad legs that fail as they get older). Albinuarics, on the other hand, bleed white when attacked, whereas Loretta bleeds crimson like a normal human, therefore the stories could be true. In any case, Loretta appears to have made it her duty to aid the Albinaurics. It’s possible that Loretta discovered the Haligtree after leaving Liurnia with a small number of Albinaurics in search of a safe haven for the Albinaurics. Some Albinaurics formed Ordina, while others, such as Latenna, returned to Liurnia to gather the remainder of the Albinaurics and the Birthing Droplet, only to be tragically killed before they could do so.

In reality, Elpheal is teeming with Miquella and Malenia’s devotees. Other soldiers with the Haligtree crest, as well as Cleanrot knights serving Malenia, can be found there. However, whether and how many of these people are here of their own free will is an issue. People seem to be drawn to Miquella because of his dedication to the underprivileged, but we discover from many facts about him that he also has the ability to compel people’s affection. Soldiers in Elpheal will charge you and blow themselves up, which could simply be a deep commitment to Miquella’s cause—or it could be the result of a drive to do anything for their king due to his superhuman power. Miquella’s ability to compel people to adore him raises the question of whether anyone in the Haligtree is there by choice, although it appears that the Empyrean was genuine about assisting those in need. He isn’t wholly innocent or virtuous, either.

Everything we find in and around the Haligtree indicates that Miquella was working on a different religion than the Golden Order, one free of the Outer Gods’ influence, and that he even planned to build his own Erdtree with the Haligtree. There are also Erdtree Avatars hanging around Elpheal, which may be seen at Minor Erdtrees throughout the Lands Between, and his soldiers’ armor claims that he tried to turn the Haligtree into an Erdtree by watering it with his own blood.

Miquella even became entangled in the Haligtree, which may have aided in the creation of a new Erdtree and perhaps elevated him to godhood. Someone else got in the way before he could finish what he was planning. Miquella has been kidnapped and will not be found at the Haligtree.

Mohg and Miquella are a couple.

Miquella is one of the few demigods who could be promoted to godhood and succeed Marika as an Empyrean, and it appears that this has made him a target. Despite his efforts to establish a new system free of the influence of Outer gods, an Outer God and its disciple would come after him. It appears that it occurred while Malenia, Miquella’s Blade, was gone from the Haligtree, leaving Miquella unprotected within it.

The Haligtree was invaded by Mohg, Lord of Blood, while Malenia was away, most likely fighting Radahn in Caelid. Mohg’s story is intriguing; like his brother Morgott, an Omen, Mohg lived in the sewers beneath Leyndell, but he was visited by an Outer God known as the Formless Mother at some point. He began to worship this Outer God and formed a blood cult in order to seize power and establish the “Mohgwyn Dynasty,” as he calls it. Mask in White Varre, the first person you meet after you exit the tomb and enter Limgrave for the first time, is a Mohg disciple, and much of the information he provides you early in the game appears to be geared to persuade you to join the Lord of Blood instead of the Two Fingers.

You can locate a group of second-generation Albinaurics near a teleporter in the Consecrated Snowfields, and you can even find a red second-generation Albinauric near the teleporter. The teleporter transports you to an underground location: the Mohgwyn Dynasty Mausoleum and its surrounding, blood-soaked marsh, if you utilize it. There are horrible animals and red second-gen Albinaurics throughout the area, as well as a few conventional blue Albinaurics near the entrance.

We’re back to speculating on what’s going on, but I believe Mohg offers an alternative to Miquella’s philosophy—basically, the dark side of Miquella’s philosophy. Mohg, like the Omen, is a champion of the oppressed, but he and his supporters don’t want to be left alone; they want to take control. The red Albinaurics are those who have chosen to join forces with the Lord of Blood, and the blue Albinaurics near the bloody swamp’s entrance are Albinauric prisoners kidnapped by their powerful red counterparts. These men are either being held as prisoners or, more likely, being pushed to join their red comrades. We could even speculate that the blood could be utilized to enslave the Albinaurics and transform them into Mohg’s disciples. In any case, we can assume that these Albinaurics were either brought here under guard or attempted to pursue Mohg and his soldiers back through the teleporter in the hopes of rescuing Miquella, only to be defeated on the other side.

There’s more to Mohg and Miquella’s relationship, but we’ll reserve that for a deeper look at Mohg and the underground realm where he lives. It’s safe to conclude that now that Miquella is gone, the Haligtree’s and Unalloyed Gold’s dream has come to an end.

Malenia, the Rot-Goddess

You undoubtedly realized something wasn’t quite right when you climbed down the Haligtree. In truth, much of the tree is infected with the same rot and fungus that can be found throughout Caelid. The tree is described as “misshapen” and “rotting” in descriptions of weapons, equipment, and armor you pick up around the area. The Haligtree never became an Erdtree in Miquella’s absence, and worse, it appears to have died, thanks in part to the ongoing presence of another Empyrean: Malenia.

At the bottom of the Erdtree, past Elpheal, you’ll find a large pool of Scarlet Rot infecting the tree, along with Caelid’s centipede-like parasites. Malenia doesn’t appear to have done anything intentionally to harm the tree, but her presence has rotted the tree from the inside now that Miquella is gone. This, like Caelid, is a spot where Scarlet Rot has gone uncontrolled, and horrible things are taking root within the tree itself.

You eventually reach Malenia, who is seated alongside the Haligtree spot where Miquella has ensconced himself. As you approach, she says she’s been waiting for Miquella’s return, but the fact that she’s just chilling out here shows she has no idea who kidnapped her brother or where she can find him. However, it’s likely that when we locate Malenia, she won’t be totally lucid—a there’s a theory that during her battle with Radahn, Malenia sacrificed a part of herself in order to free the Scarlet Rot and utilize it to destroy the demigod. In Millicent’s quest line, it’s implied that Malenia gave up some of her pride and sense of self in order to accept the rot and win the battle.

That is, in fact, an intriguing piece of storytelling. It implies that Malenia made a big decision in order to defeat Radahn, releasing the Scarlet Rot on purpose, which is easily seen as a heinous deed. She appears to spend much of her existence fighting the rot, but in the confrontation with Radahn, she fell in to it, allowing it to ravage both her half-brother and Caelid itself. Malenia can even be shown stabbing herself to release the rot in the official plot trailer, and associated lore claims that Malenia even sacrificed some of herself to win that war. After unleashing the rot, one of her Cleanrot knights, Finlay, brought her back to the Haligtree to save Malenia.

Complete Gowry and Millicent’s narrative to learn more about what others hope to achieve with Malenia. As an Empyrean, she can become a goddess like Marika, but that would not be a good thing—the rot god’s influence and the way Scarlet Rot corrupts everything Malenia touches strongly suggest that if Malenia ever climbed to godhood, the Lands Between would suffer even more. That doesn’t appear to be her intention, although some rot followers yearn for her to become a god. It’s also on the verge of happening—we learn through the Scarlet Aeonia invocation that the rot within Malenia “blooms” under certain conditions, accelerating the rot and pushing her toward godhood. The incantation claims that it has flowered twice previously, with one of those blooms occurring during the battle with Radahn in Caelid, spreading the rot across the region. During your combat with her, another bloom appears, and she is dubbed Malenia, Rot Goddess.

Regardless, of whether you’re a goddess or not, you’ll (hopefully) beat Malenia in the end. By doing so, you appear to have defeated the rot goddess and put an end to whatever plans the rot worshipers may have had in mind. (At least, most of them; Millicent’s account reveals that there are others who could “bloom” and become servants of the rot, and there’s a Scarlet Aeonia in place of Malenia, raising the question of whether she’s genuinely dead.) While Malenia’s Great Rune can be added to your “Elden Ring” collection, it’s also worth mentioning that you don’t have to. In actuality, the Haligtree is remote, unimportant to your objectives, and populated by people who most likely just want to be left alone. Malenia has done some terrible things in the past, including spreading Scarlet Rot all over the place, yet when you come to murder her, neither she nor the residents of the Haligtree are bothered.

In this scenario, it’s possible that you, not the people you’re fighting, are the monster. However, it’s possible that someone should stop Malenia from spreading any more Scarlet Rot—assuming, of course, that’s what you did.

However, another Great Rune has been taken. You can either return to Leyndell or pursue one last Shardbearer, Mohg, Lord of Blood. Although it is different from the rest of the underground world found in “Elden Ring”, Mohg’s nascent kingdom is located underground, implying that he is methodically advancing into the ruins of a prior civilisation in the hopes of hiding and strengthening his authority. We’ll learn about the Eternal Cities and the Mohgwyn Dynasty before returning to Leyndell.

In “Elden Ring”, What Happens? Part 7 of the Game’s Plot: Castle Sol and the Consecrated Snowfield