What's Happening In Elden Ring? The Game's Story, Part 2: Liurnia Of The Lakes
After defeating Godrick the Grafted, your path might next turn north to Liurnia of the Lakes, a land dominated by sorcerers at odds with the Golden Order.
By Phil Hornshaw on May 3, 2022 at 4:41PM PDT
With the death of Godrick the Grafted in Elden Ring, you've bested your first demigod and claimed a Great Rune--a major step on the path to becoming Elden Lord. That solidifies your place in the Roundtable Hold and opens up more of the Lands Between to you. Next, we'll head north to Liurnia of the Lakes, the land beyond Stormveil Castle and home to the Academy of Raya Lucaria, where sorcerers learn mystic arts that are separate from those taught by the adherents of the Golden Order.
In Liurnia, you can learn a lot more about the demigod children of Radagon and Rennala, as well as major parts of the history of the Lands Between, and pursue one of the game's endings. It also opens the path to the east, allowing you to reach Leyndell, the Erdtree capital, and Mt. Gelmir. Here's everything that happens as you make your way in Liurnia to claim a second Great Rune, and what you need to know about the sorcerers who have taken control of it. Of course, you're going to find spoilers in this article as we try to explain the story of Liurnia.
For more context on the history, lore, and story of Elden Ring, check out our other explainers.
Meeting the Two Fingers
Entering the Roundtable Hold with Godrick's Great Rune in-hand makes you a full-fledged member of the Hold, opening the door to the chamber at the back of the Roundtable's main chamber to you. There, you meet the Two Fingers and discover that name is not a metaphor. The Two Fingers are, in fact, two giant fingers, literally (almost) half of a massive hand in a small throne room. Beside the Fingers you meet Enia, a cleric of the Golden Order known as a Finger Reader. Her job is to interpret the movements of the Fingers and convey their wisdom to others, and she can use their power to convert the Remembrances you claim from great enemies into special weapons.
Meeting the Two Fingers gives you a few hints about what's going on behind the scenes in the Lands Between. The towering fingers serve the Greater Will and seems to be responsible, to some degree, for the guidance of grace. One wonders exactly what's up with the Fingers, however. They seem strangely rotted, for one thing (and venture out to the Divine Towers to empower your Great Runes, and you'll find more Fingers--not just rotting, but dead). For another, what makes their wisdom worth following? And finally, how do you know the Two Fingers are telling you the truth about what the Greater Will wants? How do you know the Finger Readers are telling you the truth about what the Fingers want?The Two Fingers are literally two massive fingers that will tower above you, with their movements--and wisdom--interpreted to you by Enia.
With all that bouncing around in your head, you can head back to Sir Gideon Ofnir, who gives you a little more information about the demigods you're hunting. Gideon also wishes to become Elden Lord, and he's been advancing his way toward that goal by gathering as much information as he can about what's happening in the Lands Between. He'll give you intelligence about the locations of several of the Great Runes and their bearers, but there's a lot he wants to learn from you, if you'll tell him.
With both the Two Fingers and Gideon, you might want to make note of the potential agendas of the people you're interacting with in the Roundtable Hold. Not everyone is sharing all their information with you, and you shouldn't expect everyone to tell you the truth. Pay attention, because others have agendas you might not be aware of.
Gideon will point you toward potential targets, and if you follow the lay of the land, your next stop is Liurnia of the Lakes, the region north of Limgrave.
Nation of sorcerers
Liurnia is a huge marsh more than it is a lake, and warfare has seen its towns sink into the water and mud beneath. In addition to the battles of the Shattering, the nation has also suffered significantly from civil war. There are two major political forces in Liurnia that have been at odds, and the result is that there are two major players, a demigod and a Shardbearer, holed up in their respective fortifications, but for very different reasons.
At the center of Liurnia is Raya Lucaria, a sorcery academy, while the north is the home of the Carian royal family in Caria Manor. These are two separate powers, although they were once allied: the Carians are the traditional royal family of Liurnia, and Rennala, the last of the Carian royal line, is a powerful sorcerer and formerly the head of Raya Lucaria. But a lot has happened since then.Sorcerers study at Raya Lucaria, an academy that was also headed by the Carian queen Rennala--until the sorcerers lost confidence in her.
History-wise, Liurnia is where you first start to learn about Radagon and some of the events that led to the Golden Order taking over the entirety of the Lands Between, and the politics that would break it apart during and after the Shattering. Back when Marika was chosen by the Greater Will to become a god, the Lands Between were home to several nations of several different kinds of people. Liurnia, home of sorcerers who valued intelligence over faith and drew power from the cosmos to create their magic, had monarchs of its own in the Carian royals. Rennala was a powerful sorcerer and champion in her youth, and her prowess caused the academy to name her its master, in addition to being queen. Under her leadership, Liurnia resisted the Golden Order, which prompted Marika to dispatch her own champion, Radagon, at the head of an army. Still, the Carians and their sorcery-adept knights held back the Golden Order forces despite much smaller numbers.
Eventually, the stalemate was broken, not by military force, but by marriage. Radagon and Rennala fell in love, and so Liurnia came under the Golden Order when the two were married. That would have brought the country and its sorcerers under Marika's control, and there's mention that, despite the sorcerers' aversion to faith, sorcery was allowed to exist under the Golden Order. Radagon and Rennala would go on to have three very important children: Rykard, Radahn, and Ranni.
The state you find Liurnia in is very different than the height of its power, however. After Marika and her forces won all of their wars, the first Elden Lord, Godfrey, was stripped of his grace and sent out of the Lands Between--he, his future descendants, and the warriors he took with him would become the Tarnished. After that, for some reason, Radagon left Rennala and returned to Leyndell to marry Marika and become second Elden Lord. The ins and outs of that decision are murky, especially because Radagon and Rennala seemed to be very much in love. Even as they parted, Radagon left Rennala with a Great Rune in the form of an egg made of Erdtree amber, the Great Rune of the Unborn. Using the rune, people can be "reborn" through Rennala's power, although this process does not seem to be particularly, uh, good--the children "born anew" through Rennala's power are frail and short-lived. More on that to come.
Radagon's departure was enough to break Rennala's heart, as well as her mind. She shut herself up inside Raya Lucaria and the academy quickly came to realize that she was no longer fit to lead. At some point after Radagon's departure, and perhaps during the Shattering, Rennala was imprisoned in the academy's great library, with Raya Lucaria and its Cuckoo Knights turning on Caria Manor. They never managed to capture the manor itself, but with Rennala broken and locked away, Raya Lucaria effectively controls Liurnia at this point, such as it is.
The Fall of the Carian RoyalsThe strange snow witch Renna actually reveals herself to be Ranni, daughter of Rennala and Radagon, if you meet her in the tower behind Caria Manor.
If you head to Caria Manor, you'll find it heavily protected by vicious magical spells. Even approaching the manor causes rains of magic to fall down upon you, which would have easily shredded any force marching north from Raya Lucaria. Head inside and you'll find that Caria Manor is mostly abandoned--it's principally guarded by magical creatures, like creeping hand-spiders, and spirits of its former soldiers. Unlike Stormveil Castle in Limgrave or Castle Morne on the Weeping Peninsula, there's no castellan caring for Caria Manor. In fact, there are few people still alive there at all.
What you do find guarding the castle is another magical projection, one of a Carian knight named Loretta. If you fight and defeat the projection, many of the magical safeguards on Caria Manor are lifted, including the magical attacks on the grounds outside it. Beyond the manor, in the protected land behind it, you can find Ranni, Rennala's daughter--at least in a sense, as Ranni seems to magically inhabit the body of a doll. You find that she still has a few loyalists to the Carian royal family in her employ: Iji, a well-spoken troll blacksmith; Blaidd, a half-wolf protector known as "shadow," who was raised as Ranni's adoptive brother; and Seluvis, a sorcerer who wears gear suggesting his loyalty to Rennala and Radagon.
Though she's a demigod--when Radagon married Marika, all of his children with Rennala were elevated to demigod status--Ranni apparently "cast aside her Great Rune," according to Sir Gideon Ofnir. Thus, she's not a Shardbearer and you can't fight her. Instead, you can choose to help her. Ranni, as she'll eventually explain, is an Empyrean, someone chosen by the Two Fingers with the potential to be raised to godhood. If you throw in with her, you can help her with this goal, working with her small band of loyalists to advance her interests. There's a lot more to Ranni's story, which deserves its own rundown, but suffice it to say that, like the other demigods, Ranni is making moves toward power. She needs help, though, largely because she's mostly stuck in her tower behind Caria Manor, since Liurnia is a dangerous place for a Carian royal to wander around.
Plight of the Albinaurics
For the sorcerers of Raya Lucaria, control of Liurnia mostly amounts to mining for Glintstone (a rock used in sorcery), dressing like the Burger King, and studying ever-more-powerful spells; it doesn't seem like much of a stretch to guess that they mean to strengthen themselves to resist any potential conquest by the demigods.Amid the absolute destruction of the Albinauric Village, you can find Albus, an Albinauric who asks for your help.
All over Liurnia, you also find the Albinaurics--artificial beings created by humans--specifically, it seems, by sorcerers. First-generation Albinaurics look like humans; you usually find them crawling around on the ground, because eventually, their imperfection causes their legs to fail. Second-generation Albinaurics are those weird frog folks you find in the outskirts of Raya Lucaria itself. In both cases, Albinaurics are used as servants and slaves by Raya Lucaria (and to some degree, the Carian royals), and they're looked down on as being impure and unnatural, untouched by the Erdtree's grace. They are, however, full-fledged, sentient people.
You discover this if you venture to the village of the Albinaurics in the south of Liurnia. Though the Albinaurics are a created people, some have gained some semblance of freedom from their oppressors, perhaps because of the chaos of the Shattering and the political turmoil that followed. The Albinaurics have a town of their own, but if you venture here, you find them all either dead or crazed. They've recently been attacked, and if you pursue information about the village from a nearby Finger Reader Crone and some of the characters you find there, you discover that Gideon Ofnir sent his loyal thug, Ensha, to attack the village. (Ensha's the guy who's wearing what looks like rotting flesh for armor in the Roundtable Hold.) Exploring the town, you find a few of Gideon's remaining forces, including an Omen Killer, a specialized warrior dedicated to hunting down the Omen.
Looking carefully, you'll find one survivor in the Albinauric village, using sorcery to disguise himself as a pot. When you discover him, this man, Albus, confides in you what Gideon's men were searching for: a piece of a special medallion. He managed to hide it from them, but feeling his own time is short, entrusts the medallion piece to you and asks that you deliver it to an Albinauric woman named Latenna. This item is key to the overarching story of the Albinaurics, which you can piece together in bits and pieces over the course of the rest of the game. The medallion Albus tells you about leads to the Haligtree, a special location far in the north of the Lands Between, and a place Gideon wants to reach.
Return to the Roundtable Hold after visiting the Albinauric village and you'll find it deserted. Despite Gideon's claim that the Hold is a safe place for Tarnished, Ensha attacks you, apparently attempting to kill you for the medallion piece he failed to obtain. You're forced to kill him, and after you do, Gideon apologizes for his enforcer, saying Ensha "got ahead of himself." He implies that Ensha acted on his own, not because Gideon ordered you killed for the medallion piece. In any case, he's now short one minion, so Gideon enlists you as an intelligence-gatherer to help him figure out where some of the demigods are located. Clearly, though, the guy is a snake.Latenna's quest teaches you more about the Albinaurics, who factor greatly into the stories of the demigods Rykard, Mohg, and Miquella.
By way of apology, Gideon offers you some information he gained about the matching piece of the medallion he murdered all those Albinaurics to find. He doesn't know where the second piece is, but he knows who will have that information: an Albinauric woman who escaped Ensha and retreated into a cave near the village. In the cave, you'll find Latenna, an Albinauric warrior and the same person Albus entrusted you to find. She managed to get away from Ensha during the siege of the village, but not before her faithful wolf, Lobo, was mortally wounded in the fighting. Latenna's legs have failed, so she has no way of getting around without Lobo's help. Show her the medallion and she'll give you some information about where to find the second half of the medallion in the Mountaintops of Giants, and if you promise to take her there, she'll join you in battle as a Spirit Ash.
Latenna's story is a short one, but has greater implications for what happened to the Albinaurics. Eventually, you'll make your way to the Mountaintops, where you can learn the Albinaurics' fate, and their reasoning for carefully guarding the medallion Gideon would murder them to find.
Rennala, Queen of the Full Moon
The guidance of grace in Liurnia directs you toward Raya Lucaria so that you can claim the Great Rune held by Rennala. Inside, you'll find various sorcerers and some Albinaurics who seem to serve them. Also within and around the academy are other signs of its power. Soldiers marching toward the academy from the north are intercepted by magical projections and multi-armed mechanical marionettes, brought to life through sorcery. The sorcerers have a lot of power at their disposal, it seems, and continue to study the stars and the cosmos to increase their knowledge, while foregoing faith in the Outer Gods.
Moving deeper into the academy, you'll find something else that's curious: a mechanized contraption on wheels shaped like an iron maiden. This is an Abductor Virgin, and you can find a couple of them marauding around the grounds of the academy. They have their ties to Mt. Gelmir, a volcano north of Liurnia, where Rykard is lord. The "abductor" part of the name Abductor Virgin is important here, as these contraptions are apparently capturing and carrying off Albinaurics. More on what's up with that when we get to Mt. Gelmir in a later portion of this series.When you find Rennala, she's fairly unresponsive, obsessed only with creating imperfect children with the Great Rune egg that Radagon gave her before leaving her.
Your path takes you to the great library in the highest part of the academy, where Rennala is imprisoned, and where you fight her as a boss. Though her children are demigods, Rennala is not--although her Great Rune means she is a Shardbearer. However, when you get there, you find that Rennala is not really all there. Her broken heart seems to have driven her mad, and she's used her Great Rune egg to create a bunch of creepy scholar children who crawl around and sing to her. They're similar to Albinaurics, but don't seem to be exactly the same thing; these are the imperfect "born again" creatures Rennala can create with her Great Rune, which apparently don't live for very long. The reborn scholars use magic to attack you and protect Rennala, but they're somewhat easily walloped. When you hurt Rennala enough, however, the real defenses protecting her kick in, care of Ranni.
In the second phase of the battle, you face off against a strange, magical projection of Rennala at her full power, as she would have been during the wars between Liurnia and the Golden Order. Voice-over dialogue here tells us that this projection is the creation of Ranni, however, so it appears that what you're facing is a sort of sorcery security system Rennala's daughter left in place to protect her mother. It seems to kick in automatically--you're not actually fighting Ranni in the form of Rennala here--which is why this battle doesn't affect whether you still serve Ranni or not.
Defeating the Rennala projection allows you to take her Great Rune, although you don't kill Rennala, you merely leave her imprisoned in both the library and her mind. You can use Rennala's Great Rune to be "reborn" yourself if you choose, which gives you a chance to re-allocate your stats and change your character build.
With a second Great Rune in hand, you actually have the capability to attempt to become Elden Lord, if you so desire. But there are more Shardbearers to challenge and more Great Runes to gather, including one to the east, held by General Radahn. Venturing through the diseased land of Caelid, however, is no easy task. Read on in Part 3.
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