The veins of Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim run through all other entries in the series, and though prior knowledge of Ys lore is not necessary to play and enjoy this title, there are a few recurring elements and themes that, if known in advance, may help enhance the gameplay experience.
The world in which the Ys games take place is one modeled squarely on our own, with virtually every location having a direct real-world equivalent. And while the Vortex of Canaan’s counterpart is very much up for debate, the “Eresian” term bandied about by the Rehdan people of Canaan is grounded in reality: Eresia is the Ys world’s equivalent of Eurasia. So when the Rehda call Adol an Eresian, they are identifying him as someone who hails from somewhere in Europe or Asia – which also explains why Baslam, who hails from northern Afroca (which is, unsurprisingly, the Ys world’s equivalent of Africa) resents sharing that “Eresian” label.
The Winged Ones
On the island of Esteria, off the coast of what would be Brittany, France in the real world, there lived two beautiful women named Feena and Reah who had once presided over the land as Goddesses, hailing from the days when the land was called by a different name: an ancient paradise known as Ys (pronounced “eece,” rhyming with “fleece”). These two both bore brilliant white wings infused with mystical powers that had helped greatly influence the land and its people alike, ushering in an era of prosperity and more or less spawning a religion centered on them.
And they weren’t the only ones. Throughout Adol’s travels, winged figures seem to keep popping up: in the land of Celceta, a winged man named Eldeel toils in his library, subtly guiding mankind’s technological and intellectual evolution from the shadows; in the land of Felghana, there are legends of a “messenger to the winged ones” named Genos, whose legacy and bloodline lives on to this day; and of course, here in Canaan, the Rehda worship a winged Goddess named Alma, whose influence has kept their tribe thriving for countless generations.
Although the full history of these winged beings is unknown, one thing is for certain: whenever Adol stumbles across a human figure with enormous wings, or even the graven image of a human figure with enormous wings... inevitably, something ancient lurks nearby, and something big is on the horizon.
The Black Pearl
Responsible for both the rise and fall of Ys, the Black Pearl is an extremely powerful artifact belonging to the Winged Ones, but originally intended for use in the benefit of humankind. With it, and through the careful supervision of the Goddesses Feena and Reah and their six loyal Priests, magic was brought into the land – but every coin has a flipside, and the Black Pearl was no exception. Its magic came at a steep price, spawning demons and black arts which a group of power-hungry humans known as Darklings were only too happy to exploit for their own nefarious ends.
Ultimately, the Black Pearl literally tore Ys apart, forcing the Goddesses to rip the heart of the land from the earth itself and send it into the sky in order to protect its people from the ravaging demons. The demons attempted to retaliate by rapidly building a tower to the heavens in pursuit, but were cut short from that goal by further intervention from the Goddesses themselves. The 25-story tower they succeeded in building, however, serves as the setting for Ys Origin and also plays a major role in Ys I, which happens to be where and when Adol first met his long-time traveling companion, Dogi, as well as a scholarly old man named Raba who would quickly become a good friend to him.
Also known as the “Clan of Darkness,” the Darklings are a group of ordinary people who’ve developed an unquenchable thirst for power, creating creatures known as Galbalans to aid them in their hubris and generally believed to be indirectly responsible for the downfall of the land of Ys, as well as directly responsible for the virtual extinction of the Winged Ones before that. Both of these incidents nearly doomed the world, but the extent of their failures has done nothing to quell their powerlust, and though their numbers are small, they still remain to this very day. The Darklings and their storied history are explored in-depth in both Ys Origin and Ys: Memories of Celceta.
Manmade dragons gone amok, the Galbalans (or just “Galba”) are creations of the Darklings, built out of a desire for ultimate power and serving as a major contributing factor to the near-extinction of the race of Winged Ones. Immensely formidable, the Galbalans are mostly concentrated around Canaan, but some have made it as far as Felghana and Celceta, affecting the historical and cultural development of these foreign lands in virtually unimaginable ways.