Hollow Knight’s Story and Lore Explained

It’s been five years since Team Cherry announced Hollow Knight: Silksong, the Hornet-led sequel to its first game. The Dark Souls-inspired Metroidvania has garnered a massive following. Its uniquely beautiful art style and challenging gameplay enticed players deeper into its melancholy world of bugs and ancient glory. With Hollow Knight: Silksong (possibly) being on the horizon, the time is right for a light recap of the lore hidden deep beneath the ground.


It’s Important Hollow Knight: Silksong Fans Keep 2 Details About Team Cherry in Mind

Hollow Knight: Silksong is still one of the most anticipated games currently in the pipeline, but fans need to keep two details about its dev in mind.

The Land Before Hollow Knight

The Void, the Radiance & the Pale King

Void…Power…Without Unity…

The earliest records speak of an ancient civilization that worshiped the Void, a black substance of great power. Due to circumstances unknown, that civilization disappeared without a trace, leaving only ancient statues, totems, and relics as proof of their existence. Upon their ruins, others built new splendors.

Another power existed in opposition to the Void: The Radiance, a creature of light and dreams that created the Moths, a tribe that worshiped it as a divinity. For a time, the Radiance ruled unopposed, unmatched in power by any other “higher being”. Other bugs and tribes existed at the time, but compared to Moths they were but primitive beings, feral and instinctual.

All of it changed with the coming of the Pale King. He was a stranger to this land, arriving as a massive Wyrm — a snake-like being, possessing precognitive power. Shedding his skin, he became what will be known as the monarch of Hallownest. The Pale King and brought with him gifts of knowledge, giving the mindless bugs sapience, language and purpose. Those who were blessed by him worshiped him as a god, and even the Moth tribe abandoned their deity in favor of the new god-king.

Hallownest, Kingdom in the Deep

Bear witness to the last and only civilization, the eternal Kingdom.


After uplifting several species of bugs and gathering a mass of followers, the Pale King founded Hallownest — a kingdom beneath the ground — alongside his queen, the Pale Lady. It spread its borders through concords and conquest, taking vast swathes of land into itself. Some territories remained neutral, but none could match the shining glory of Hallownest. It went through a golden age, but all good things come to an end.

The Radiance, forgotten and abandoned by its people, tried to regain a foothold. First among its former worshipers, and later through other denizens of the underground, it spread its influence through dreams, slowly driving the bugs of Hallownest to madness and death, spawning what became known as the Infection. It is the orange-hued substance that permeates the dead and crazed denizens below the surface. In a desperate bid to save his kingdom, the Pale King turned to eldritch rituals and the Void from the dark Abyss below.

The Vessel & the Hollow Knight

No mind to think.

No will to break.

No voice to cry suffering.

Born of God and Void.

The Vessel

Since the Radiance was a formless being that existed in dreams, it could not be stopped by any means. The Infection it spread was unending, and the Pale King decided what could not killed, should be contained. He and the Pale Lady created so-called Vessels, beings born from their union, tainted by the Void. To trap the Radiance, an empty but powerful shell was needed, a pure being with no soul, yet strong enough to contain a god within itself. That was the original Hollow Knight.

The plan succeeded, at first. The Hollow Knight grew powerful, the Radiance was imprisoned within its body and sealed. Soon after, it became apparent the Hollow Knight was not pure. Unable to contain it, the Infection spread once again. Hallownest rotted from the inside, the Pale King disappeared, and his worshipers were now nothing more than reanimated corpses. It was only a matter of time until the Radiance broke out of its imperfect prison.

The Knight Returns to Hallownest

An enigmatic wanderer who descends into Hallownest carrying only a broken nail to fend off foes.

Hollow Knight’s protagonist, known only as the Knight, is one of the many discarded vessels created by the Pale King’s magic. Deemed a failure like many others, they were left in the dark with their siblings. At some point, several vessels escaped, the Knight being among them. They wandered the desolate surface before being beckoned to Hallownest, guided by fate or something else.

The Knight returned to the broken kingdom, now festering with the Infection, and retraced the steps the Pale King and his doomed sibling once took, all the while gathering power. When the Knight grew strong enough, they made their way to the Hollow Knight’s prison, ready to face down the divine being inside of it. What happens next depends very much on the player’s particular playthrough, with every game ending offering a different interpretation of events. There is, however, one more important aspect to the story.

Hornet, Princess Protector

Hornet is first glimpsed while the player makes their way through the Greenpath, a lively part of Hallownest. She challenges the Knight to a duel, possibly considering them to be another mad Vessel wandering the tunnels. She is encountered several more times through the game, all the while testing — and ultimately helping — the Knight in their quest to save Hallownest.

Hornet is also a child of the Pale King, born from Herrah the Beast, the Queen of spiders. In recompense for helping the Pale King seal the Radiance, Herrah desired a child by the Pale King, so her legacy may carry on. Due to being put into a magical slumber to keep the Radiance at bay, Hornet spent a very short time with her mother.

Not much is known about Hornet’s upbringing, except that she spent most of it in Deepnest, one of the most dangerous parts of the world. It’s obvious Hollow Knight‘s Hornet is a trained and skilled warrior, with a strong sense of duty to protect the world. Sensing the awakening Radiance, she wanders Hallownest, trying to fight back the Infection. Armed with far more knowledge than the player character, she acts as a challenger and guide, helping the Knight achieve his destiny.

From what little Team Cherry released about the sequel game, it seems Hornet has been captured and brought to the foreign kingdom of Pharloom. What other adventures await the warrior princess will be uncovered in Hollow Knight: Silksong.


Hollow Knight: Silksong

Team Cherry


Team Cherry