Deep in the Darkroot Forest, behind a door unlocked with the crest of a legendary knight, something lives among the trees that’s quite unlike anything else in this mournful, sombre world. Children dash among the trees under the watchful gaze of their parents. There is life here. Not a facsimile, shadow, or twisted mockery of it, but life. Huge, living mushrooms.
Though missing the white spots of the iconic fly agaric, the image of red-capped mushrooms in an enchanted forest immediately conjures western fairy tales – although Dark Souls’ use of Nordic mythology might also put us in mind of the fungi imbibed by viking berserkers before battle, especially since these mushrooms pack a belter of a right hook. Either way, these odd creatures seem to make sense here; a strangely harmonious part of Dark Souls’ world.
A brief mushroom-splainer (fungi-ntroduction?): The role of fungi in a forest’s ecosystem is to break down organic matter and return it to the soil. A forest without mushrooms is a forest without life. One of Dark Souls’ central points of conflict is the Undead Curse, a malady that forces mortal beings to stagnate, severing them from the intended cycle. Are the living mushrooms, then, the few remaining guardians of this natural harmony that the curse has stripped from much of Lordran? They are, at least, a reminder that such a thing can still exist.
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