Elden Ring players may well have found Miyazaki’s secret ‘small element’ and turns out it’s had a clue to the DLC since launch

Elden Ring’s Shadow of the Erdtree expansion is due for release in June and, alongside the recent trailer for what the developer says will be its biggest expansion yet, FromSoftware CEO and creative director Hidetaka Miyazaki went on the interview circuit. By far the most intriguing thing he said (well to me at least) was that, despite players poring over every inch of the Lands Between since launch, there remained “a small element that I feel has not yet been discovered.”

Putting that in front of the internet sleuths is akin to waving a red rag to a bull, and sure enough Elden Ring’s players seem to have delivered. Don’t ever expect Miyazaki to confirm whether this is what he was referring to but, as something that arguably couldn’t be understood until recently, it’s one hell of a candidate. 

First spotted by redditor Cudakid210, an apparently unremarkable wooden shield is where this particular secret lies. The item is hidden behind an illusory wall in the Sage’s Cave, and its description reads as follows:

“A tall, medium-sized wooden shield. Light for its size, and easy to handle.

“Thought to represent a surreptitious prophecy of cardinal sin, the lit candle-tree design was forbidden.”

It’s the second half that has the Tarnished frothing at the mouth, because the trailer for Shadow of the Erdtree shows that this “candle-tree design” is the symbol for Messmer’s faction. Messmer is the ruler of the Lands of Shadow and is being set up as some sort of Lucifer-like figure within the game’s world, and the trailer shows various of his troops bearing weapons and armor with the candle-tree.

We may well have to wait for the DLC to find out exactly what the “surreptitious prophecy of cardinal sin” will be but, given the combination of fire and tree here, it’s no great stretch to think that Messmer may well be all about burning Erdtrees. The “surreptitious” aspect in particular suggests that Messmer and his lot have been wiped out from history in the original game’s world, a trick that Miyazaki and company have pulled several times before in the Souls series to tremendous effect.

So Elden Ring’s had this little pointer to the main antagonist force of Shadow of the Erdtree since the start. Fans have been cranking up the specula-tron since the trailer dropped loads of details (as have we), June 21 cannot come soon enough, and all this time there was a clue hidden on a generic wooden shield that most of us didn’t look twice at: Miyazaki has done it again.

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