Corporealizing at the rim of your first grace point, Melina is the first person you meet in the Lands Between that hasn’t tried to kill you or make fun of you for being maiden less. She offers you an accord, as she puts it. In exchange for giving you a spectral goat-horse hybrid and the ability to turn runes into strength, she asks that you allow her to accompany you on your quest for the Elden Ring.
Not much is known about Melina. In typical FromSoft fashion we are to use context clues, item descriptions, and speculation in order to ascertain who she is and where she comes from. With that in mind, here is our character guide into the “Kindling Maiden”.
What We Know
During your time in the Lands Between, you have the opportunity to talk to Melina at length at various grace points throughout the world. During your conversations with her, she reveals to you that she was born at the foot of the Erd Tree, and that she was given her purpose by her mother who lives inside of it. It’s never confirmed for sure if that means Marika but she’s the only mother who lives inside that big magic tree, so it’s a safe assumption that could be who Melina means. But you never can be entirely sure with FromSoft.
Melina wants to be taken back to the Erd Tree because while she says her mother gave her a purpose, she has since forgotten what it was and hopes that returning to the Erd Tree will help her remember.
Upon reaching the Erd Tree, you discover the roots of the Erd Tree are sealed off with impenetrable thorns, Melina returns to you at a point of grace to tell you that she believes her purpose is to help you gain access to the Erd Tree. This leads you both the the Flame of Ruin on the Mountain Top of the Giants where she wants to become the sacrifice needed to allow the Flame of Ruin to spread to the Erd Tree and successfully engulf it in flames.
A Pleasure to Burn
The item description on her dagger reads as follows:
“Dagger given to one who set out on a journey to fulfill her duty long ago. The power of its former owner, the kindling maiden, is still apparent.
The one who walks alongside flame, Shall one day meet the road of Destined Death.“
the title of “Kindling Maiden” suggests that with that as her title, her purpose may have always been to set the Erd Tree on fire. However, you don’t have to let her do that. There is another way of setting the Erd Tree ablaze.
If you choose instead to follow the Lord of Chaos and inherit the Frenzied Flame you gain the power to set the fire yourself without Melina’s help. This does technically save her life but inheriting the Frenzied Flame is a choice Melina will repeatedly tell you not to do and if you move forward against her wishes she will not only abandon you, but promises to kill you if you ever become the Lord of Chaos.
“Should you rise as the Lord of Chaos, I will kill you, as sure as night follows day.”Melina
There is never actually a moment in the game in which you can fight Melina however she does follows up on this promise in the final cutscene for the Frenzied Flame ending in which you see Melina, her right eye now solid white and her left eye now open for the first time and revealing a purple glowing iris and says:
“Lord of Frenzied Flame, I will seek you, as far as you may travel to deliver you what is yours, Destined Death.”Angrier Melina
“Destined Death” comes up a lot when on the subject of Melina. She says it’s what she will deliver to you after you become the Lord of Chaos, her dagger’s item description mentions it, and at the Flame of Ruin, Melina mentions that the land is in dire need of “death indiscriminate”. Destined Death also comes up in many other item descriptions, and that’s because Destined Death is another name for the Rune of Death.
Now this is where we get into speculation, and other fans may have come to different conclusions, what’s important is that nothing going forward is completely set in stone that should be the fun of these discussions.
The Gloam-Eyed Queen
Now before Maliketh gained possession of the Rune of Death, it belonged to someone known as the “Gloam-eyed Queen” (or “Dusk-eyed Queen” depending on what item description you’re reading). The Gloam-eyed Queen is the leader of the Godskin Apostles and while you never fight her in game (trust me her apostles are enough) she is brought up a lot in item descriptions. She and her Godskin Apostles were able to use the Rune of Death to kill eternal beings, or those who have otherwise defied death, like Marika.
Marika in response, sent Maliketh to contest the Gloam-eyed Queen and take the Rune from her, which he succeeded in.
Now here is where we fit Melina into all of this. First off her most striking characteristic is the strange tattoo on her closed left eye. The tattoo seems to bear a striking resemblance to either the Curse mark of Death, or a crow’s foot (a bird that often symbolizes death). And as mentioned previously, if you choose the Frenzied Flame ending you see Melina with her left eye open and her iris a dark purple. Purple is the color most often associated with dusk.
This may also be why Melina believes it is her duty to kill you after you become Lord of Chaos, because you effectively have done what Marika is guilty of and found a way to defy death while killing every other living thing in the Lands Between. She even says she will deliver you your “Destined Death” the subtitle capitalized and said over an all black screen like it was meant to stick out as much as possible.
You Look Familiar…
Now we have to talk about Ranni the Witch. This is something Elden Ring fans have noticed since the game’s release. Both Melina and Ranni are spirit-like figures that fade in and out of existence. Both of them have had their original bodies burned. They are visually similar to each other, despite Ranni being a doll, and most notably, both women have one eye closed, their opposite eyes, to be more specific. In fact, Ranni’s spirit is only half attached to her doll body. Her doll’s closed right eye lines up with her spirit’s closed left eye, which matches Melina’s missing eye and Ranni’s spirit also seems to have the same facial structure as Melina.
In doing Ranni’s questline you learn that she was the mastermind behind the Night of the Black Knives and planned to overthrow the Golden Order. But in order for her to succeed, she would need someone to defeat Marika/Radagon inside the Erd Tree and she probably knew that the Erd Tree would be sealed off by thorns and Radagon’s rune.
So, Ranni stole a fragment of the Death Rune from Maliketh, used it to burn her own body then infused half of her essence into it and half of her essence into a Doll. This is potentially why Ranni’s spirit seems to only be half-tethered to her doll form and why her spirit seems to look like Melina. And according to the item description for Deathroot:
“On the night of the dire plot the stolen Rune of Death enabled the first Death of a demigod. Later, the Rune of Death spread across the Lands Between through the underground roots of the Greattree, sprouting in the form of Deathroot.“
The foot of the tree is where the roots begin and where Melina was born. Melina’s purpose was to find a worthy tarnished, lead them to the Erd Tree, and sacrifice themselves in order for that tarnished to get inside, kill Marika and fulfill Ranni’s master plan.
For more hidden Elden Ring content, check out best Elden Ring sidequests and how to start them