“Show my lady flame.”
Quick disclaimer: Most of the content you’ll find here are my own speculation and thoughts on the importance of Gael in Ashes of Ariandel. There’s still a lot of lore secrets and mysteries that have yet to be solved by the community, and as fans will know, we can’t possibly count on From Software to give us any concrete answers about the questions we have. Obvious spoilers ahead.
For those jumping into the new Ashes of Ariandel DLC in Dark Souls III, you can access the new content and areas by talking to an NPC that spawns at the Cleansing Chapel. This isn’t just any regular NPC, however. His name is Gael, and he begs you to go to the Painted World to “show his lady flame.” And that’s it. You’ll hop into the Painted World, and leave him in the Cathedral of the Deep.
There are a few references to Gael throughout the DLC. The first is when you free the girl trapped in the room next to the Snowy Mountain Pass bonfire. After obtaining the Contraption Key from Sir Vilhelm and freeing the girl in the attic, she’ll move to Ariandel Chapel, where she stares at a ruined canvas. She talks about uncle Gael, and wonders about the Dark Soul. She then states that she hopes to paint a new world – a cold, but gentle place that will make a goodly home for someone. The “someone” here can only be referring to Crossbreed Priscilla, and the painting that she works on will ultimately become the Painted World of Ariamis we see in Dark Souls.
This doesn’t really make sense from a ‘time’ perspective, considering the events of Dark Souls III are supposed to take place many years after Dark Souls and Dark Souls II. We are at the end of the allegedly final cycle of fire, after all. That said, we’ve been told on many occasions that the flow of time is distorted and convoluted in Lordran. There’s also the incident of the Ashen One discovering Champion Gundyr in the Untended Graves. We already know that the Champion eventually became a husk and ends up being the Iudex we face at the very beginning of the game. There’s a lot of time trickery in vanilla Dark Souls III, so there’s definitely something fishy going on in the Painted World of Ariandel as well. There are some theories that counteract this, but that’s a discussion best left for another day.
But, back to Gael. The next time we encounter him is when we find his white summon sign sitting in the corner of Ariandel Chapel. He can be summoned for the Sister Friede boss fight, whether you’re in cinder form or not. This is an interesting mechanic, considering that all throughout the game, the Ashen One is only able to see friendly summon signs when they’re in cinder form.
After defeating Sister Friede, you’ll find that Gael is nowhere to be found. He disappears from the Cleansing Chapel, and the young painter girl certainly doesn’t offer any clues as to his whereabouts. We already know that there’s a second DLC coming for Dark Souls III next year, so it’s entirely possible that we’ll be picking up this story in the next content pack, and that’s where we’ll find Gael again. But, it’s still nice to speculate a little.
First off, Gael wears the Slave armor set. Here’s the lore description on his armor:
Armor Issued to slave knights. The fine craftsmanship made this a symbol of honor.
Long ago, only the Undead served as slave knights, warriors used as fodder in the bleakest of battles.
They grew decrepit, their skin charred black and their bones twisted. Eventually they went outright mad, but were never relieved from duty.
Just as the Painted World of Ariamis was meant to be a safe haven for outcasts (“its inhabitants kind,” as Priscilla would have you know), the Painted World of Ariandel is a home for the forlorn. Now that we’ve shown the painter flame, and the world is ready to be reborn, shouldn’t Gael be jumping back into the painting where he belongs? He does seem to have an attachment to the painter as well.
While I haven’t been able to find him in Ariandel, I thought perhaps he might show up at the Church of Yorshka at Irithyll, or even next to Yorshka herself at Anor Londo. We know that Yorshka has some sort of connection to Priscilla, and that she was taken prisoner by Pontiff Sulyvahn, who himself was born in the Painted World of Ariandel. Unfortunately, Gael was nowhere to be found in either of those locations.
Either way, we’re not done with this Painted World just yet. We still need to know what comes after this, and figure out exactly what role Gael has to play in this entire situation. What are your thoughts on some of the lore implications that Ashes of Ariandel has on the Dark Souls universe? Feel free to let us know in the comments down below.