Greetings people, it’s been a while, but without further ado, I will tell you the story of a wicked man who willingly became the embodiment of terror and destruction as he called himself.
What's The Work?
Ys I & II are a pair of top-down adventures featuring Adol Christin as he attacks enemies by charging into them. The first game has Adol travel over Esteria as he collects six books and travels to the top of the Darm Tower to confront Dark Fact. The second adventure has him warped to the eponymous Ys where he must take the books to their respective statues and open the path to Solomon Shrine where he must destroy the evil core. I am primarily focusing on the canonical versions of these two games as well as the prequel Ys Origin. Of course, I'll throw in a reference or two to the PC-Engine ports.
Now for this proposal, I will start off with the prequel game Ys Origin, set centuries before the first two games. Which is around the time Ys and its population and refugees was risen into the sky out of chaos by the twin goddesses and the six priests when demons attacked Esteria. This was followed up by the demons creating the Darm Tower for a second attack. This chaotic turmoil had a shocking reveal that could shock Ys’s very foundation. The Goddesses serving as a form of order were missing alongside the Black Pearl, leading to the priests, headed by Cain Fact, making the decision that they must take this matter into their own hands. Their solution is to pick out the best of the best to form a search party with knights and sorcerers and dispatch them to the surface to find the goddesses before everything is lost. However, the transportation spell was suddenly disrupted by Dalles, the leader of a foreign group called the Darklings, scattering the search party.
Who is the Candidate?
My candidate is Demon King Darm, formerly Cain Fact, leader of the six priests. He is the main antagonist for Ys II and the true mastermind of Ys Origin. The fact he was the traitor among them was the reason the Goddesses retreated with the Black Pearl before they even realised who the traitor was.
What did he do?
Now the quote beneath this image from the PC-Engine version of Ys II is a bit misleading as Ys Origin revealed he was never made of evil to begin with.
He was the head of House Fact, which has seen disgrace upon disgrace, and the leader of the six priests who have sent the search party out for the goddesses, but he was primarily doing this with selfish desires in mind. He even gave orders secretly to his younger son and heir Hugo to kill his brother, and Cain's disinherited older son, Toal the sole surviving knight of the demon attacks on the surface who joined the Darklings, as part of this. While also the one who deliberately gave the Darklings the information needed to control the demons that wreaked havoc across Ys (including having the demons counter strategies used against them) as part of his gambit for a power grab.
Indeed, the brothers do fight several times in the game. Hugo in particular had the demonic essence implanted in him by Dalles when he was becoming desperate to defeat his brother.
Prior to the events of the game, he put both his sons through intense and time-consuming training in order to open a hole in at least one of their hearts for the Darklings to have a shot at granting them the demonic essence. Hugo in particular was always a few steps behind his brother and only gained his title as a magic prodigy at the expense of the few friends he had. Toal believes the training might have been more gruelling than he remembers. Indeed Toal willingly accepted the demonic essence being installed in him. Hugo had it installed in him later, but even Toal realised it had worse effects on Hugo, effects that Toal himself never experienced when he accepted it.
As shown in Toal/"The Claw's" route, Feena saw the damage dealt to Esteria with Reah saying the demonic power of the Black Pearl is distorting the very ground, creating more demons. She even believes that they may have been too late in sealing away the Cleria which made the situation with the demons worse. The Goddesses look at the results they didn’t expect to happen. They also wanted their utopia to be a paradise. They also must not let “that man” to use the demonic essence and must intervene. When the Goddesses arrive at the Darm Tower, Feena goes on her own while her sister Reah takes the Black Peal while the Darklings pursue them with orders to kill the search party. As Reah points out, he is still the noble person he was deep down.
In all routes, the Darklings manage to capture Feena and place her at Rado's Annex in a powerful force field behind the Demon's Gaze door that requires demonic power to enter while they were later able to capture Reah and the Black Pearl.
Partway into the Demonic Core part of the tower, Dalles' ritual involving Reah and the Black Pearl surrounds the tower with dark energy and begins to drag the flying land of Ys to the ground, putting the population in danger of being killed. In the canon route featuring Toal, Toal attempts to head towards the ritual when Kishgal reawakens and awakens his demonic powers. But Toal decides to stick to his natural abilities until it is over and he is unwilling to give up his humanity. He also realises how foolish he was to accept demonic powers. Kishgal then tries to kill him only for Yunica to intervene with the help of Ramona, Roy, and Cecilia who proceed to take on Kishgal while Toal continues his trek.
After Toal defeats him, Dalles tries to destroy the Black Pearl when Cain Fact injures him with a dark spear. Cain then reveals that he was anxious when he found that the Goddesses left without telling him. When Toal asks why his father would make his entrance, it was then revealed that he was the traitor Feena spoke of earlier. Cain also admits it was he who told the Darklings about the demonic essence. Solomon Shrine being raised to the sky also confirmed what he considered his belief on the Black Pearl’s true potential and discovered the existence of the perfect form it can bestow on the one who controls it. Everything that has happened over the course of the story was all according to his plan. He also realises Reah found out about his ultimate goal in all this, something she opposed. He also found himself rambling about a wounded man bleeding over what he calls his tower, Cain also calls Dalles's effort good, but tells him that him and the other Darklings lack the experience for true merit and tells a dying Dalles that he will be revived as a slave, trusting him to look forward to his “glorious rebirth”.
Cain then takes the demonic essence and says it is not complete yet. But says Dalles did his best considering his “obvious inadequacies. Toal attempts to intervene, Cain expresses his displeasure at Toal interfering with his goals and calls him “half-assed” even as a demon. Cain also asks why he wound up with the Darklings in the first place. Toal then realises he was the only survivor of the battle because Cain instructed the Darklings to leave him alive as Cain wanted to see how much potential the demonic essence could unlock in one member of their lineage. He even says Toal was a test subject and had Dalles do the same to confirm the results and was surprised to see Hugo lose to him. He also confesses both sons were such “wretched failures”. This infuriates Toal who gets shocked by lightning with a mere thought from Cain who also blocks an attack with the Fact Family’s magical barrier, which cannot be broken with the Goddess Ring. Cain proceeds to take the essence for himself and traps Reah in a force field. Cain also makes plans to destroy Solomon Shrine and release the Black Pearl’s power and transform the demonic essence he attained into “pure perfection”. Toal however, refuses to let it happen and turns into a demon in a futile attempt to break the barrier and gets zapped by another bolt.
Thankfully Feena returns Toal his Silver Sword in an empowered form. Cain attempts another bolt, but it didn’t work and, despite his protests; even claiming that thirst for power is in the Fact bloodline and that the Goddesses are holding back humanity’s true potential; Toal ignores him, believing what is needed isn’t just power for the sake of power, they need to join individual strength to pursue a well-planned and mutually beneficial future. Toal also acknowledges that he does seek power but as a means to an end and to help those who believed in him as well as a better future for Ys. He then plows through the barrier. Furious at this, Cain decides to prove his son “how wrong you are!” and uses the demonic essence to fuse with the Black Pearl in order to become Demon King Darm.
This leads to a fight between father and son where Toal’s father demonstrates a mass variety of powers as a result of merging with the Black Pearl. But the moment Toal defeats him, Cain, now Darm, expresses shock at his defeat and Toal calls him out on his disdain for mankind and that no one has the right to decide its future. Toal also tells him that one by one, mankind must shape its own path and Toal’s chosen future is stopping daddy in his tracks. He then deals the finishing blow to Darm. Darm then tells his son that he is immortal and as long as the Black Pearl exists, he will rise again before losing consciousness and the Goddesses entering an eternal slumber to contain him and the demonic essence after Reah used the Silver Harmonica to aid in the sealing. Also saving Ys in the process.
Centuries later during Ys I, Adol arrives at Esteria, having survived the stormwall that attacked his boat (The stormwall can be seen in the intro for the remakes starting with Ys Eternal.). He also learns of the demons/monsters that have been roaming the land and attacking the villages for six months, which is also the time stormwall appeared when several shipments of silver set out from Barbado, wrecking the ships in the process. Adol also learns from Slaff about the destruction of Rastin Village after the mine closed.
Adol then leaves the town of Barbado with a short sword to defend himself with and sets off for the town of Minea to see the fortune teller Sara Tovah where he learns about the Books of Ys and he sets off to find them. Silver items in the land were also stolen as well by a man in a dark cape.
Exploring the local shrine in search of the books, he saves a seemingly amnesic Feena from her cell and escorts her out of the shrine and to Sara's aunt Jeba Tovah's house at Zepik Village and also returns the protective Silver Bell to the mayor. Upon procuring one of the books from the shrine, he learns that some of the less savory inhabitants have taken interest in Feena who had just recovered.
Upon returning to Minea, Adol learns from Old Man Franz that Sara was murdered and gives Adol another one of the books. Franz then instructs Adol to head to the Rastin mine as per her last request.
At the mine he recovers Reah's Silver Harmonica and returns it to her. She then plays a song she wrote long ago.
Adol then talks with the Roda Tree, that talks about the nightmarish darkness that has been shrouding Ys and that silver light beckens both hope and destruction. Adol then procures the Silver Sword Toal used to defeat his father long ago.
He later sees the Roda Tree's brother and learns about the melody that brings back memories.
Adol then returns to the mine to continue his search there. Upon using the Darm Key to open a door, he is attacked by this gargoyle that splits into bats, but he manages to slay it and procure the third book. He also found an area with a sealed door that will be revisited in Ys II.
Adol later informs Jeba about her niece's death, it is then revealed that the late Sara had the ability to see the future, he then asks Jeba to read the books he collected so far. The books speak of the disasters that plagued Ys in the past. The book of Hadal mentions the fair land of Celceta becoming ash. The Book of Dabbie speaks about the disaster of Ys where the Cleria is to blame and it had to be sealed and must not be touched again. Jeba then realises the words from these books will surely illuminate the truth of Esteria's turmoil and that it stems from "a great instability in the flow of destiny" and Adol must discover the truth behind it all.
Later after Feena returns to Jeba's house, Adol learns from Jeba that the last three books are in the Darm Tower. She then tells him to talk with her son Goban, the leader of the local thieves in order to enter the tower. After his group suffered a great deal of casualties, they've had to install a sound-proofed one-way gate to keep the demons in the tower in, Dogi was also missing in this dangerous tower. If Adol has a Wing, Goban will confiscate it as using it to teleport will lead to its user getting killed by the tower's barrier.
Adol then enters the tower in search of the last three books. Adol falls into a trap that warps him into a prison cell with Luta without any of the Silver gear. It's only then that Dogi smashes down the wall holding them prisoner. Dogi also gives Adol Raba's Idol and asks him to return it to him so the old man can be safe from the demons. Adol returns it to Raba who was studying the tower six months ago when the demons appeared and had to hide, Raba also mentions that he heard from minstrels that monsters were killing off half the land's people in a single night, Raba then gives Adol the Blue Necklace to protect Adol from the tower's traps. Adol then continues his trek in the tower to collect the books.
After freeing Reah from Rado's Annex, who let herself get caught in order for him to know about Dark Fact, her captor and the man in the dark cape. Dark Fact desires to control Esteria and maybe the entire world with monsters. Dark Fact must not have all the Books of Ys as it lead to the most dire consequences for the world. She then gives him the monocle needed to read the last three books so he can understand the full scope of the legends.
After talking with a hurt Luta Gemma about the Book of Ys he lost, Adol receives the Blue Amulet from him and resolves to procure the last Book of Ys. Adol uses the amulet to enter Dark Fact's chambers and equips the silver equipment in order to stand a chance. Dark Fact then identifies Adol as the one finding the books and is impressed by his efforts to find the Books of Ys. Dark Fact reveals that Adol's action brought Fact's plan full circle and killing Adol will sear Dark Fact's name into history. Adol then fights Dark to the death for the last book.
After killing Fact, Adol gets the Book of Fact from his cape and finds out that the books contain the power to warp him to the flying land of Ys with a light. Something that happens when the morning sun rises.
In the opening of Ys II, we learn that Dark Fact was merely an underling of Darm, when a resurrected Dalles reports to Darm about Adol overcoming the Darm Tower, Darm then tells Dalles that he admires his perseverance and they must see how long this will last. Dalles heeds this command and warps out.
Upon Adol's arrival at Ys, he meets a girl named Lilia who takes him to rest at Lance Village. After resting a while, he learns about the demons roaming Ys. Adol talks with the village elder Cornell who looks at the Books of Ys and realises the priests might have guided him to Ys (One of these priests has got to be Hugo who replaced his father who had been sealed away.). Cornell then tells Adol to take the books to the statues of their respective priests in the Sanctuary of Toal.
After some preparations. Adol goes through the Sanctuary to take the books to the statues. The statue of Hadal reveals that demons appeared on Esteria and Ys and the mastermind (Darm) is in Solomon Shrine. Adol is then instructed to take the last five books to their statues to open the path to the shrine.
When Adol reaches the Fact statue and returns its book, the statue informs Adol if the demons are not stopped, their reign of chaos and destruction will consume the entire world. Adol is then ordered to open the path to Solomon Shrine and destroy the evil core there.
When Adol heads to the Ice Ridge of Noltia, Dalles learns Adol received the guidance of the priests and finds his courage excessive. And when Dalles asks the demon who entered his chamber about the ceremony, he realises that he must take the offering to the bell tower, known as the Campanile of Lane. Dalles then says he will ring the bell, which needs five rings, and orders the demon that it is to maintain the flow of sacrifices. He then tells Darm about Adol's prowess and asks if he might be a threat to their ambitions.
When Adol travels through the Moat of Burnedbless, he finds that a group of Roodles (a.k.a. Roos) were driven out of their homes by Darm's demons.
After saving Ruba's son Tarf from the demons as well as his cellmate the demon Keith. Adol slays Gelady in his trek through the Moat and arrives in Ramia Village. There, at the village of Ramia, he learns that the demons have overtaken Solomon Shrine and that the residents are being made into human sacrifices, which are represented by a series of graves closeby. This has happened over the past six months. After talking with Gorto and Sada's father, Adol passes the first gate and poses as a Roo to get past the armored demons guarding the second one.
Overhearing between Zava and a few subordinates, he learns that this month's intended sacrifices have escaped and stole the shrine key. This placed all demons in the Shrine on high alert and won't pass one part without a password, one that is randomly generated in the remake.
When Adol reaches the escaped sacrifices, he not only gets the key but also learns Maria Mesa was recaptured. But not too long after, Dalles finds them out and travels there personally to turn everyone but Adol to stone before leaving.
At the Goddess Palace, Adol learns from the Goddesses that one of the petrified people have a pendant needed to get to the evil core and he must retrieve the Dreaming Idol in order to break the curse.
Adol heads to the Bell Tower where he slays a transformed Zava who intervened in his assault, but he still seemingly fails to save Maria from being sacrificed by Dalles in the ritual intended to root out and kill off the descendants of the priests. Adol still manages to procure the Dreaming Idol, which was no longer protected by a barrier.
As Adol proceeds, Ys begins to lower back to the ground.
Adol talks with Tarf in Ramia Village for the Black Pearl that freed him and Keith, but Tarf finds that there was a hole in his pocket. He realises he dropped it by the gate.
Adol learns from Gorto that Dalles procured it and took it to the room where the meeting was. Adol heads there and procures it.
Adol then takes both the Pearl and the Idol to the Palace where they become one again and Adol heads to the bell tower and holds the Idol towards the sky to lift the stone curse on Dalles's victims. From one of the victims, Adol procures the Gold Pendant prior to the escaped sacrifices using the Keith gave them to get home. Adol also receives Sado's Cleria Sword from him and the Cleria Armor from Sado's dad.
After all else was done, Adol heads for the core of the Shrine, killing Dalles who tried to stop him, once there, he rides a platform as he is greeted by Lilia and several of the six sages' descendants (including Maria who is still alive thanks to her bracelet.) and Lilia, who gives him the Goddess Ring. They all express hope he would slay Darm. Adol breaks a barrier to reach the entrance to Darm's chambers, this spot was found in the mine in Ys I. Here he finds the Goddesses being held in place by Darm, who reveals they fell to his strength and also declares the priests dead. Darm also declares that mankind lost its protectors and must kneel before him. He brings up his defeat from Ys Origin where the Goddesses sealed him away and that he was getting sick of having been sealed for all these centuries and will have demons replace mankind. But Goban and Luta arrive where the former throws Adol the Silver Harmonica to break the curse placed on the Goddesses, Reah and Feena. Adol then plays Reah's song to break the curse. Luta also gives Adol the Cleria Shield.
Reah also reveals that the Cleria was misidentified as silver, allowing Dark Fact to break the seal. After talking with both Goddesses, Adol, with an empowered Cleria Sword, heads off to face Darm. Meanwhile, Tarf and Maria run to Keith who tells them to get back when demons start pouring in to give Darm more power. Gorto and Goban proceed to back Keith up by helping him clean out the demons until Adol can destroy Darm.
After Adol crosses a disassembling bridge, he reaches Darm and the two proceed to duke it out in the darkest hour of Ys. However, in the end Adol reduces Darm to being a winged Black Pearl and subsequently uses his sword to shatter the Demon King into a million pieces, killing him for good, ending the threat he poses and eliminating all demons spawned from the Black Pearl.
Freudian Excuse/Mitigating Factors
No no no, as I’ve stated, Darm was not made of evil to begin with. He was once a man named Cain Fact and a selfish one at that. He had his sons tested to see if they can overcome the demonic essence as part of his plan to use the share of demonic essence he attained in order to become Darm. Any claims he made regarding good intentions are nothing more than a farce as he had demons attack mankind and having Dalles carry out human sacrifices. The image of him being heroic was also false.
Now, do not get me wrong, I honestly do not think most of the boss demons from these three games such as Velgunder; Nygtilger; Gelady; Khonsclard; Pictimos; Yogleks and Omulgun; etc. or the Black Pearl on its own were sapient and thus shouldn’t have any impact on the heinous standard.
Cain Fact (Now Darm), of course was the reason the Darklings were able to use the demonic essence to their advantage and control the demons that have wreaked havoc across the land of Ys, even enabling the demons to carry out countermeasures to every strategy used against them. According to Raba, this attack killed off half the population of Esteria in one night adding mass murder to Cain's list. He allowed his sons to be test subjects for the demonic essence. He also planned to destroy Solomon Shrine in order to complete his power. On top of that he had no qualms about ordering his offspring to kill each other. One of the books mentions he left a smokey impact on the land of Celceta.
In the present, he summoned demons to both Esteria and Ys, leading to their attacks on both lands. We do see skeletons in plenty of areas inhabited by these demons in the enhanced remakes from Falcom. He also had humans captured by his demons to be sacrificed by Dalles.
With the revelations provided by Ys Origin, he should be a keeper.