Lore in Hollow Knight is an overview of the game's general plot. The story of Hollow Knight is like a puzzle that can be only somewhat pieced together through different aspects of the game such as cutscenes, dialogues, lore tablets and entries that are placed in the Hunter's Journal for each enemy and boss that The Knight encounters. Much is open to interpretation. Players will have a better understanding of the story once they have as much as possible encountered and unlocked events in the game. Below is a brief overview of the history of Hollow Knight.
Hollow Knight Lore
Before Hallownest existed, the land of the insects was split into tribes of feral insectoid and arachnoid beings - the moths who worshipped The Radiance, plant-like beings in Greenpath who worshipped Unn, the mantises, the mushrooms, and the spiders. As time passed, a higher being known as the Wyrm traveled to the land of Kingdom's Edge and later on “died”, but in actuality metamorphosed into the Pale King. The Wyrm lowered and thus humbled himself and his form to appear like the bugs that inhabited the land, and built the kingdom of Hallownest. The Pale King ruled the kingdom by uplifting unintelligent and feral bugs, granting them sapience, freewill, and higher intelligence. The bugs of Hallownest began to follow the Pale King, convinced to join him - this lead most of the tribes, such as the Moths, to abandon The Radiance who had selfishly kept them in a lower feral state with no freewill so they would have no choice but to worship him.
At some point, the kingdom of Hallownest rose to its success and great prosperity due to the benevolent Pale King’s reign, but later on, was invaded by The Radiance who was filled with a bloodthirsty revenge. The Radiance, who revealed his true evil nature, attacked and invaded the dreams of all the bugs who had weak minds, and who were filled with hope and desires, resulting in their transformation back into feral forms.
Being good and caring for his people, the Pale King longed to put a stop towards The Radiance’s cruel madness. For reasons not explained, he had to do so by creating Vessels, living insectoid beings made from Void, which the Radiance was weak against. This gave the Pale King an advantage. Though thousands of Vessels were created, the Pale King only chose the purest of the Vessels to become the “Hollow Knight”, only one Vessel, who was considered a pure and princely savior of Hallownest. This Pure Vessel was then used as an instrument to seal The Radiance within itself, sacrificing itself for his kingdom as a knight is expected to do in times of war, and was locked inside a vault called the Black Egg Temple.
However, the Pale King knew that somehow the Sealed Vessel needed extra protection, so he appointed three bugs, known as the Dreamers, to make a seal that would stop anyone from infiltrating the Black Egg Temple and releasing the Infection upon Hallownest. Monomon was a jellyfish-like mentor within the kingdom of Hallownest, Lurien was the enigmatic, wise, and fiercely loyal guardian of the City of Tears, and Herrah was the dark, rebellious, and self-proclaimed “queen” orb weaver of Deepnest. The Dreamers entered an eternal sleep to protect the dreams of the Hollow Knight so it would be protected from any influence from the Radiance it had absorbed into the Void within itself.
Despite this seal, the Hollow Knight’s shell eventually cracked due to a small and somehow unnoticed flaw in its purity (its emotional attachment to its creator and father the Pale King, who raised and trained it like a son). The wicked Radiance began to leak out, and corrupted the minds and bodies of the inhabitants of Hallownest, resulting with the Kingdom going into stasis. Despite all his heroic efforts to stop the Radiance, the Pale King, having no one to help him, mysteriously disappeared.
The story of The Hollow Knight begins with the protagonist, The Knight, a strange Vessel, suddenly arriving in Dirtmouth after it was telepathically called, This mysterious nameless Knight begins its journey through Hallownest by uncovering the forgotten kingdom's darkest secrets. Will you be able to rebuild and save the once prosperous kingdom? Or will it fall under The Radiance's evil corruption and completely filling the depths of Hallownest with the Infected?
The Knight in Hollow Knight is the main protagonist that players will take control of.
The Knight is a strange being known as a Vessel, created by the higher beings The Pale King and The White Lady - it is shown in the Birthplace Cutscene that the Knight fell back into the Abyss right after it was sealed. It is unknown how it escaped the Abyss.
Hornet mentions in the City of Tears that the Knight is born from two voids whereas one being the Void that the Knight was within them, and the other is the area outside of Hallownest. The time that the Knight has spent in the area has caused the Knight to lose its memories.
Hornet also states that once the Knight obtains a Void Heart and gains back its memories, it will have the power to unify the Void under its own will.
At the start of the game, the Knight starts off with an Old Nail and the ability to heal itself with the use of Soul. As you dive deep in to the game, the Knight will be given access to new spells, powers, abilities, items, and upgrades that can be used to aid The Knight throughout its bizarre journey.
The Knight Health and Soul
The Health of the Knight is represented as masks that are shown on the upper-left corner of the screen. At the start of the game, The Knight starts off with 5 masks and can be obtained by finding Mask Shards. Players can use 4 Mask Shards in order to craft 1 new Health Mask - The Knight can hold up to a maximum number of 9 Health Masks. The Knight loses its health by taking damage from enemies or environmental hazards. Health can be regained by either resting at a Bench or by using Focus.
Lifeblood Masks are temporary masks that cannot be healed or replenished when using Focus - these are granted by Lifeseeds and specific Charms. Lifeblood Masks will disappear once you rest at a bench, while Lifeblood Masks granted by Charms will tend to regenerate.
SOUL is characterized as a circular mask that is found to the left, right next to the Health Masks. SOUL is used by The Knight to cast Spells such as Focus. Damaging enemies using the Nail is the primary source of regaining SOUL.
The Knight Equipment and Abilities
The Nail is The Knight's main weapon where it is swung offensively in any direction towards spikes, enemies or certain environmental objects - it is also The Knight's main tool used for traversing the depths of Hallownest. As you progress throughout the game, players can choose to upgrade The Nail and learn Nail Arts from Nailmasters to unlock devastating moves.
Charms are special items that can be acquired through completing quests, by finding certain charms through the environment or by purchasing it from Merchants. Charms provide certain enhancements that can be equipped to enhance The Knight's power and overall effectiveness in battle and survivability - this includes an increase of health, reduction of healing times, and many more.
Spells are skills that the Knight can use that deals with magical attacks as well as replenishing The Knight's health, this can be first acquired from the Snail Shaman. Each spell can also be upgraded to a more potent version by locating hidden rooms throughout Hallownest - Spells are activated by using SOUL from the Knight's Soul Meter. This includes spells like Focus, Vengeful Spirit, and more.
The Knight Gallery
Hollow Knight Merchants
"I am Jiji, and if you have found your way into my chamber you must need my help."
"Ooooooooooooohhhhhhh, you surprised me! Hello, hello! Come in, sweetling! Come in and make yourself at home."
"Come to buy a map have you? Its really my husband you should be dealing with, but what a surprise! He's headed down below."
"Don't try to sneak past me. I can smell you."
"Aha! Another warrior finds their way to our fair Colosseum. Ours is the final destination for all seeking trials of intense and deadly combat."
"Hello there dearie. I was about to close up shop and run, till you came along. I provide a banking service if you're interested."
"After a Nailsmith are you? Well, you've found one. I'm not much for talk, but if its a nail that needs repair then you've come to the right bug."
"Aye Aye. Come searching for rare items, have you? Well, hands off! This collection is mine and I won't be selling to grubby little wanderers."
"I'm Sly. Usually, I live an uneventful life up in Dirtmouth."
" Jinn, has only many small, shiny things... useless to Jinn, but will trade for wonderful gift."
"Greetings, little one! It's been an age since I last heard the ringing of a station bell. It echoed down the stagways and called me to you."
"Don't be angry. I'll share my food with you... if you give me Geo."
Hollow Knight Nailmasters
"Hm? Ah, well met! Yes, I thought I could sense the aura of a fierce warrior approaching."
"Hmph. How did you find me, down here where the world ends?"
"I am Sheo, and in a previous life I was a Nailmaster."
Hollow Knight Quest NPCs
"Oh?! Who are you?"
"Let us sleep little shadow."
"Ahhhh.... Me'hon. This world. This cruel, sinful world. Why does che' wake? Why does che' persist?"
"Ahhhh, you've returned. Welcome back to the waking world."
Hollow Knight Wanderers and Other NPCs
"Ohrm... Tiny thing. You climb high. Seek then knowledge of these lands?"
"Searching for dangerous places aye? Well, you're on the right track."
"I'm a cartographer by trade, and I'm working on mapping this area right now. Would you like to buy a copy of my work so far?"
"We are friends. Welcome. Sit and rest."
"...For the honour of Hallownest!"
"Ho there, traveller. I'm afraid there's only me left to offer welcome. Our town's fallen quiet you see."
"Isn't life just wonderful..."
"Come no closer, ghost."
"Is it mask or face upon the creature? In Hallownest, a difficult thing it can be to decipher."
"Is it information you seek? That I can provide. Yes. Oh yes. Heehee."
"To greater things, perhaps? So much can be achieved in just a short time..."
"Oooohhh radiant being, we are blessed. Your rays touch us. Your warmth fills us. Hallownest is born again, united in your blazing image. Oohhh..."
"So, what are you down here for? If you came to g-get wealthy, just look around you!"
"Oh, hello there! Seems we both tread far from the path."
"Oho! Who is that creeping out of the darkness? My, you're looking grim! A strange, empty face and a wicked looking weapon!"
"Tiny squib... You approach fearless. Are you a hunter like me? Do you feel the urge inside, to stalk, to kill, to understand?"
"No cost too great. No mind to think. No will to break. No voice to cry suffering."
"Oh! One arrives. Far it walks to find me. Did it seek my aid? Or did the path carry it by chance to so pertinant a place?"
"Pale thing. You wear that nail with ease. If you're in search of combat, you'll find no great warriors in this decaying burrow."
"To believe or disbelieve... The choice is yours."
"Oh! Come in search of treats, have you? I chanced upon a unique little fungus growing right above us."
"Begone! Lest I draw my nail..."
Hollow Knight Grimm Troupe NPCs
"Mrmm. You called us? Speak to Master."
"Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh! Did you call us? You called us, and we came. We came!"
"The roads between are dark and long, but the Master's light will always guide us."
"Ah. Hello! Hello! I'm new around these parts, so it's marvellous to see so friendly a face, in such a sad town."
"Well met, my friend. Well met. I am Grimm, master of this troupe."
Hollow Knight Godmaster NPCs
Hollow Knight Enemies
Bosses are characterized in the game as Enemies that have a higher amount of health and does more damage, unlike the normal enemies that wander around the map. These Bosses are special and important since some are needed to be defeated in order to progress through the main game, to complete a Quest or to clear an area, while some drop important Items. Below is a list of the known Bosses along with its alternate versions, Warrior Dreams, and bosses that have been added in DLCs.
Hollow Knight Bosses
"A safe space, for you! And you! And you!"
"...For the honour of Hallownest!"
"This great shell...It belongs to me!"
"...No mind, the usurper...Only strength..."
"Come no closer, ghost."
"...At last a true challenger..."
"...I DO NOT FEAR YOU..."
"The King falls, but I live forever!"
"...This power...What did it cost?"
"...DO NOT DESPAIR..."
Hollow Knight DLC Bosses
"Brothers always fight together!"
"Point your nail at the thing you seek!"
"What is a god, if not an artist?"
"Well met, my friend. Well met. I am Grimm, master of this troupe."
"When you wake... the Hive..."
Hollow Knight Warrior Dreams
Warrior Dreams in Hollow Knight are unique bosses that The Knight can locate and challenge by using the Dream Nail. Eliminating a Warrior Dream will grant you a large amount of Essence as a reward - Dream Nailing a Warrior Dream will automatically start the battle. Dream Warriors are scattered around the map, and purchasing a Warrior's Grave Pin from Iselda will allow you to locate the area of a Warrior Dream via the Map.
"Beware dreams of glory, child. Turn back, and do not return."
"So then... shall we do battle? Let us test our strength in joyful combat!"
"Bow! Bow bow bow bow to Gorb!"
"You have come a long way, just to die here at the edge of the world."
"Shall we wait together, stranger? Shall we play together?"
"My child... can you still see? Please, don't hurt me!"
"Cursed are those who turn against the King."