The speculation and subsequent resolution surrounding Alexander, Nepheli, and the Jar Bairn was a weird communal event.
FromSoft NPCs do a lot with a little, combining the developer’s trademark terse style with compelling archetypes and distinctive silhouettes (lotta dudes with big hats). They often meet tragic or obscure ends, with very occasionally some hidden golden path to get a happy ending.
Dark Souls 1 fans had to feed a mute, chronically ill spider lady like fifteen to twenty human souls to open a secret door and kill a giant glowing house centipede before progressing past an uncommunicated point of no return in the main quest where it would drive memetic bro Solaire of Astora insane.
And you know what? We loved it. Even in the age of the internet, FromSoft games still have a capacity for sparking playground rumor-style obsessions over their hidden secrets. Reminiscent of Triforce-in-Ocarina of Time rumors spawned by Nintendo Uncle-having liars, the Soulsborne games have their weird little legends. A literally useless pendant (opens in new tab) in Dark Souls drove many to the brink trying to uncover the capital-T Truth it represented. We’re like Brother Corhyn in Elden Ring trying to make sense of Goldmask’s weird finger twitches.
In the year since Elden Ring’s release, dataminers like Zullie the Witch, Lance McDonald, and Sekiro Dubi have uncovered troves of mechanics and storylines that didn’t make it to the final game—my favorite remains the horrifying tale of Merchant Kalé reconstructed by Sekiro Dubi. One of the most memorable sagas, though, was that of the cut content that was missing for just under a month.
We all just assumed it was on purpose.
Nepheli Loux (opens in new tab) is primed to be a fan-favorite friendly face like Solaire or Siegward, an early-game summon with a sense for justice who shares a last name with a legendary barbarian chieftain. After fighting Godrick with her at Stormveil and investigating the destroyed Albinauric Village, she’d just kinda… hang out and be sad for the rest of the game. At launch, the only definitive ending to be had for Nepheli was a fate worse than death in Seluvis’ questline (opens in new tab), and I recall people assuming that this was the intended conclusion for her story.
There was a similar lack of resolution, sad or otherwise, for a slate of other NPCs: Diallos (opens in new tab), Gostoc, Kenneth Haight, and Patches (opens in new tab) would all disappear or stay in one place, repeating the same voice line, but with no real sense of closure. Iron Fist Alexander (opens in new tab) would drop his gruesome innards as an item on his untimely death, with seemingly no place to use them.
And we all just assumed it was on purpose. Like with the impossibly buried Three Fingers (opens in new tab) or obscure Ranni questline (opens in new tab), there surely had to be something we were missing! Either that, or these stories were never meant to be finished, and FromSoft at its austere remove wanted us to meditate on the transience and imperfection of real life stories.
(Image credit: FromSoftware)
Nah, they were all meant to be normal, completable quests, not particularly more obscure than any other, and FromSoft just ran out of time implementing them. Patch 1.03 (opens in new tab) less than a month after launch added in the Jar Bairn, Alexander’s nephew who would accept his remains. Nepheli could be made the new ruler of Limgrave on receipt of the Stormhawk King’s ashes, with Gostoc and Haight at her side. Diallos would become a true warrior in defense of the town of Jarburg, and Patches would go on a cross-country sightseeing trip after Volcano Manor.
It was a little post-launch patch, covering up some minor oopsies in the game, but it felt like an absolute event. After all the speculation, we got these satisfying conclusions to all these stories. Some of them are quite surprising too—there’s nothing in the early stages of Nepheli’s quest to suggest she’d rule Stormveil, or that Diallos would befriend Alexander’s nephew. It’s like the end of a Yakuza game when the protagonists finally meet—your favs are teaming up!
We got a little reprisal of this feeling with the opening of Elden Ring’s PvP colosseums (opens in new tab), turning these massive structures that initially served no purpose into a multiplayer feature. We speculated (opens in new tab) as to their purpose for months, and though I still kinda wish they hosted a boss rush mode instead, it was still cathartic to see them finally put to use. Now all that communal energy is directed toward Elden Ring’s anticipated expansion, whenever that may come (opens in new tab).