(/s "As a big time fan of the franchise, I would always pay attention to the lore of the series as much as I would to the gameplay mechanics. I'd say I'd go as far as spend more hours theorycrafting than playing the game, because that's what a game is; it is what you make of it, and that stands true to Miyazaki's masterpiece, Dark Souls 3.
Now that I got the summary out of the way, I'd like to discuss with everyone about one of the most important characters, which is undoubtedly Filianore. At first glance there is not much to her character; you enter the Ringed City DLC and if you don't have any prior knowledge, you only hear about her through some dialogues here and there, nothing major. Even when you meet her and get to have that interaction, I bet most of us didn't understand a thing. In reality, though, what happened makes perfect sense.
Now, this is mere speculation and I'm not sure what the current leading theory is since I can barely find many well-sourced posts about her, but I'll first need to start with some basic principles; in other words, foundation knowledge:
As we all know, Gertrude is one of the "Heavenly Children"; daughter of Gwynevere. The other being Lothric, Lorian and Rosaria. Inheriting her mother's magic, they all are able to wield Way of White miracles (Gwynevere's), like Divine Pillars of Light. It seems though that they are also able to use some kind of teleportation magic which looks like Way of White as well, as seen in the fight with the two brothers. Reading the description on Repair, it seems that "light is time" and although we don't know if the context is meant to be taken literally or not, I'd say From likely changed the description for a reason (or maybe to mess with our heads). If you think about it, it's not that far fetched to say that their magic uses the principle of stopping time to move to another location quickly, but more to that later.
I'd also like to make a stop at Anor Londo as well. We know that Gwyn had 4 children: Nameless King, Gwynevere, Gwyndolin and Felianore (not sure if forgetting one, I'm writing this in the morning). They all had a certain affinity to miracles, one would be adept to Sunlight (Gwynevere), the other one to the Moon (Gwyndolin), Nameless King would wield lighting like his father. Filianore's affinity is the only one we do not know of yet (for now).
Now then let's proceed. In the Small Envoy Banner, it is said that Gwyn "gifted" the Ringed City to the Pygmies, along with Filianore, his youngest daughter. Evidently, however, there's a contradiction. The Dragonhead Greatshield clearly states that the Ringed Knights' efforts to help the Gods against the dragons were never lauded, even if they brought back the Dragons' heads as prizes; proof that they overcame their adversities. This is all the more further supported by the Stone-humped Hag muttering this sentence: "The forsaken Ringed City was walled off by the Gods to contain the pygmies". There is an obvious hateful bias against the Pygmies and the reason is unknown to us. Or is it?
Back in Dark Souls 2, Grave Warden Agdayne foreshadows one line that is important in understanding Gwyn's intentions. He says word-for-word: "The former King of Light… he feared humans. Feared that they would usher in an age of dark." (Credits all go to VaatiVidya for this huge contribution).
Now that we know why, let's continue on. Walling off the Pygmies and making it seem like his doing them a favour, that sound logical and proactively thinks that this will protect his kingdom (can't blame him really). However, why send Filianore along? The first thing that comes to mind is to make it seem like the Pygmies are not indeed prisoned, but rather "gifted" the whole city and a daughter of Gwyn. That is a fine assumption, but in close inspection there are a few flaws with that.
Firstly, what sane person would send their own children to a supposed jail town? One could say that it's a needed sacrifice for having peace and safety in your homeland, but does an assumption really suffice for doing something like that? (assumption: fearing that the pygmies would usher an age of darkness)
Secondly, if it was all a ploy to trick the pygmies into thinking they are being blessed with a town and the daughter of Gwyn, why would he make a promise to Filianore? An important promise at that, as well (that he would go see her when the time was right). He could easily have talked her into the plan with no promises of the sort, if it was for the safety of the kingdom I'm sure she would consent.
At this point, some people I've talked to don't seem to pay much attention and just wipe it off as a "you're overthinking it too much"; I would if this was Skyrim or something, but this is Dark Souls.
Continuing on, what I believe is that Gwyn fears his own daughter for reasons unknown to us (for now). He believes that "gifting" her to the Pygmies while making her a promise that he will return "when the time is right" is a good way to hit two birds with one stone. He will satisfy the Pygmies by deceiving them that they have been gifted a city and a "queen", and he will also make sure that Filianore and the threat she possesses will be long gone and away from his Kingdom. I also think it's fitting with how much contrast and irony the series can provide. The one person he feared managed to outlive him significantly.
So what exactly did he fear? And why not help her instead of going the easy way of banishing her? He's a God after all. This boils down to the fact that her inherent magical affinity is something that may potentially be threatening. We know that Gwynevere and her Sunlight miracles have the ability to cause "teleportation" spells, but it's very likely possible that Filianore has that same affinity as well, but developed in a different sense. We are certain that she uses way of white magic since the Sacred Chime of Filianore uses a similar type of miracle that Gwynever uses. Notice the similarity on Bountiful Sunlight and A Pray for Favor? Similar magic, similar results but different application.
Now, fast forward to our interaction with Filianore. The moment we touch the cracked shell, the shell crumbles, completely, moments before she awakens and casts a spell which emits a very white light. We are then "teleported" to a distant land very dissimilar, yet familiar, to where we were; as lifeless as a desert. Some people speculate it was an illusion, but the game clearly gives us clues that it's the future:
- Gael's dialoge ("still here?")
- His chipped Greatsword/Crossbow (decription states countless battles)
- Shira's dialogue (I've been searching for you)
"So, how does time magic come in? How are you so certain? You haven't given us enough proof!". Evidently, there are a few more clues Miyazaki left for us:
When the interaction happens, we see the deceased corpse of Filianore. Why is it rotten/hollow'ish if she's part of the royal family of Gwyn? We know for a fact that the Gods don't die of old age (or atleast we haven't witnessed them). Even if she was susceptible to old age, she couldn't have passed away so soon, since Shira is still alive. Who cares about Shira? Well, we know for a fact that Shira is also a part of the royal family as per her dialogue when we fight her "I am Shira, daughter of the Duke, descendant of gods, and trusted friend to Midir".
Following the previous bullet point, her corpse is in the future but if you travel to the same bonfire in the past, she's missing completely from there. Why? And how does that tie in to the story?
Right when we enter the arena where we fight Gael, we witness a Pygmy Lord with his head almost cut entirely from his body crawling up the sandy hill on his way to the church. What he says is very intriguing: "Fillianore… Help me… please…". He's crawling up the church as if he knew that Fillianore would be waiting there for him. How would Fillianore be waiting for him there in what seems like a deserted world with no one left alive? Also, how would he help him in his current state?
It seems that Gael's reputation is already established as "The Red Hood", and that he's come to eat their Dark Souls. Obviously for having that nickname rumored among them, we can be certain that it has been a very long time that this mouse-cat chase has been going on. Knowing that, how could they have been able to remain hidden from him for such a long time? Even more so near the timeline where the world is completely barren?
Simply put Fillianore is capable of wielding time manipulating miracles, as evidenced by the white light flash before the teleportation begins. This can be explained by "she is sleeping for the sake of others". An omnipresent princess that can be called upon when in need. The important bit is that while at first glance all four children of Gwyn have a different kind of affinity to magic, and while Gwynevere's and Filianore's look to be very much the same, they are completely different. Gwynevere's magic properties seem to lean towards the "geographical teleportation" kind, while Filianore's would be the equivalent of "time teleportation" since it's evident that when she used the technique you stayed in the exact same place; and so did she.
With her help the Pygmies could turn to her everytime they felt threatened and they would be teleported back in time to fix their mistakes or alter certain aspects so that Gael doesn't find them. Repeatedly doing that, the shell (catalyst) would begin to wear down as any other item would and reach its limit.
And now the grand question… Why was Gwyn afraid of her? Her ability to peek into the future and tell him the truth of the world is something he didn't want to believe (or couldn't get himself to believe). Someone claiming to know the future and how the world ends is impossible. In his eyes she was either heretic, or straight down insane.
To be perfectly honest though, I don't really know why she teleports you to the future. I would assume that she sees the Lord of Cinder on you (Gwyn) and since she's omnipresent she would know what follows at the end of the world, however that doesn't explain how sending you to the future would help, since she has no way of know what Aria is planning unless she heard it from Gael somehow. Perhaps she wishes to punish you, even, for slaying her father. Who knows, it's up to you.
I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it, here's hope that it sparks some interesting discussions.")
EDIT: I would appreciate it if some mod could spoil-tag this as I have tried two times already and cannot get the grasp of it. My apologies in advance!