Dormin is an entity which is composed of Dark Magic, something which I refer to as a Dark Being. It is obviously completely magical or supernatural in nature; it takes various forms, all of which are made entirely of darkness, it displays various powers including the ability to bring back the dead, and it refers to Wander as a mortal, implying that it itself is not. Due to the way it appears to Wander, a thunderstorm above the shrine preceding its first words to him, it for a time seems almost godlike, and this may not be too far from the truth considering both the aforementioned ability to raise the dead and the fact that it needed such elaborate measures to seal away its power.
The next most significant aspect of Dormin's nature is that is appears to be both a single being and a collection of multiple beings. From the outset it refers to itself in the plural, with a voice which is both male and female. This plural nature is somehow related to how Dormin was sealed away; its power, or perhaps physical form, was sealed away in sixteen different places, the Colossi. It is only when these sixteen segments are reunited that Dormin manifests as a single being, suggesting that it was indeed its physical form or at least the part of its power that allowed it to manifest physically that was sealed away.
Dormin has a metaphysical aspect which seems to be a single being, shown to us by Dormin's disembodied voice speaking to Wander as if it is a single being even while the physical aspect is sealed away. Apparently it was merely a portion of its power or its physical form that was sealed, and since this metaphysical aspect is still intact, being sealed away in sixteen different places must have had no effect other than preventing Dormin from manifesting or using any significant powers. However, after each Colossus is defeated Dark Beings with humanoid form stand over the unconscious Wander, one for each Colossus he has defeated. That there is one for each Colossus links each of these humanoid Dark Beings with one of the fragments of Dormin. That it is humanoid suggests that rather than simply being some random fragment of Dormin’s power or body, like the tendrils which emerge from the Colossi, these in fact represent independent entities of some kind, though ones which are somehow part of Dormin. Given that we see what appear to be individual beings which are linked with the fragments of Dormin, and given that we know that Dormin has some kind of plural nature, it makes sense that these smaller Dark Beings are manifestations of the individual fragments of Dormin as individual beings, that these are the parts which make up the whole that speaks to Wander. When it refers to itself as 'we' it is referring to this group of beings, yet it speaks as if it has one mind, that one mind being the collective entity called Dormin. The fact that each one associates with a particular fragment of Dormin's complete form suggests that while Dormin has a metaphysical aspect, inexorably tied to its physical form, something which becomes important later on.
Even knowing that Dormin is both one being and many, both physical and more, and is composed of Dark Magic, we are still left with the question of what exactly it is. This relates to the nature of Dark Magic, which is essentially the same as Dormin's nature, since Dormin is a being of Dark Magic. Emon says that Wander is 'possessed by the dead' when Dormin has mostly taken over his body, suggesting that the humanoid beings surrounding Wander are in fact dead people. This, combined with his power over the souls of the dead, suggests that Dormin is supernatural in nature rather than magical, something from beyond the world of the living. And since it is a Dark Being, this also suggests that Dark Magic, rather than actually being magic, may be more a supernatural power associated with the dead.
In order to learn more about this 'plural nature' we must now look at the various ways in which Dormin manifests physically. Specifically there are three: The tendrils of darkness which emerge from the Colossi, the humanoid Dark Beings in the Shrine, and Dormin's 'complete' form which appears when Wander is killed in the Shrine. The first point which must be highlighted is the recognisable features which run throughout these manifestations. The details of the humanoid manifestations have already been covered; there is one for each Colossus, and each appears to both be a component of the complete Dormin and an individual entity. What we have yet to look at is the 'complete' manifestation.
When the complete Dormin appears it basically looks like one of the Colossi. Not just in size, but in general shape, the horns they share, the glowing eyes. Dormin essentially looks like a dark version of a colossus. The horns are even more significant, as besides appearing on some of the Colossi and on Dormin, they also appear on Wander when he is fully possessed and on the infant that is left behind after Dormin is re-sealed. This indicates that these horns are probably somehow related to the presence of Dormin, a physical mark reminiscent of its true form left on any living being it inhabits.
Taking these two elements together we can clearly see that Dormin's physical manifestations and the manner in which it was sealed are related to one another. It can manifest as sixteen individual beings and was sealed in sixteen parts, and its combined form resembles the Colossi which imprisoned it. What is not clear is how exactly they are related. There are only two basic possibilities, either the Colossi influenced Dormin, or Dormin's appearance influenced the design of the Colossi.
The first possibility is based around the idea that the fragments of Dormin are both individual beings which are part of Dormin and, referring to the section on the Colossi, are also a necessary part of the Colossi while they are alive, possibly even being the part of them which gave them life. Since these were individual beings and were so closely tied to the Colossi, if they lacked any particular physical form themselves they may have adapted to the physical form of the Colossi over the great span of time for which Dormin was sealed. Due to this, when the sixteen fragments are reunited the combined form they take resembles the Colossi, though not any one in particular since it is a combination of all sixteen. It is notable that in this case it is possible that Dormin's plural nature is actually as a result of being sealed away in sixteen different places, and that before being segregated it was actually a single being.
There is nothing particularly wrong with that possibility, but the latter possibility has greater support. This is the idea that it was Dormin's own form which influenced the design of the Colossi. The examples given above, the fact that there are sixteen Colossi and sixteen fragments, and that the Colossi share Dormin's form and are marked with the horns, can be just as easily applied in the other direction. Since Dormin is a 'plural entity' made up of sixteen parts, splitting those parts up and imprisoning them separately is an obvious strategy for sealing its power, resulting in sixteen Colossi. The Colossi may physically resemble Dormin because they were designed around the being they were housing, and because such size and power provides for them, as it does for Dormin, an intrinsic defence against normal physical attacks. More significant are the horns that Dormin and some of the Colossi bear; as I mentioned these horns also appear on Wander when he is possessed and on the infant, suggesting that these are actually a physical sign of the presence of Dormin. That Dormin's horns are so prominent and that they are even passed on to any living person it encounters suggests that they are a mark of Dormin in particular, not merely a trait that it picked up from the Colossi. If the horns are such a fundamental mark of Dormin, it points towards the Colossi being designed to emulate this, not the other way around. It also suggests a reason for this particular imitation of Dormin's true form; the people who sealed Dormin away would likely have known the significance of the horns, and may well have added them to some of the Colossi to signify Dormin's presence, just as they do on living beings.
Examining both possibilities shows that while there are some aspects which can be explained by assuming that Dormin's form was influenced by the Colossi, these same aspects can also be explained as Dormin indirectly influencing the Colossi. Furthermore there are some aspects which only make simple sense if we assume the Colossi were designed around Dormin's appearance, not the other way around. Thus if we go with what appears to be the more likely option, the horns are a sign of Dormin's presence, the Colossi were designed around Dormin's physical form and in some cases marked with the horns to indicate the presence of Dormin, and there are sixteen Colossi because there are sixteen parts to Dormin.
From this we can deduce that there is significance to the way Dormin manifests, that its physical form does hold some meaning and is not merely an imitation of something else, and continue to analyse its 'plural nature'. There is simply one final point to make, and that is that when the individual fragments of Dormin manifest separately as anything other than tendrils of darkness, they manifest as what look like people. With no more than this to go on of course, nothing more can really be said.
Physical and Metaphysical
I have mentioned that Dormin appears to have both a physical and metaphysical aspect; having focused on the physical I will now look closer at how that relates to the supposed metaphysical. Dormin's powers are obviously tied to the 'complete' physical form which is released and apparently destroyed at the end of the story. Otherwise, sealing it away would have very little effect. However, as mentioned, even when this form is sealed, Dormin still has some power: the telekinesis, the voice from the sky and most importantly the humanoid manifestations. Furthermore, despite being a combination of multiple entities, and despite those entities apparently being separated in some physical way, it can still speak with a single voice. Obviously there is something more to Dormin than its physical being.
If its powers were limited to pure magic, such as the telekinesis and the single voice, we could speculate that Dormin is nothing more than a physical being based in magic, but that being magical means that physically sealing cannot prevent it from using all of its powers. Essentially, the physical body is the source of its power, but it can still exert its power to some degree even if that form is sealed. However, there are the individual humanoid manifestations, which are associated with the segments of Dormin within each Colossus, but which are also shown to be able to manifest even before those segments are released. What this means is that there is some part of Dormin, apparently the individual beings that make it up, which can manifest physically despite the fact that its physical form has been separated and sealed; an apparent contradiction. What this implies is that what was sealed away was not the core of Dormin's power, not the intelligence behind it. As mentioned it is obviously a significant component, hence why it was sealed, but it may nonetheless merely be a component of something greater, something which can still express limited powers and create lesser manifestations even when this main physical form is sealed.
This leads to the alternative view which is that Dormin's combined physical form is not the core of its power, but rather just another of its physical manifestations, albeit a very powerful one. Since we know that Dormin is a supernatural being, powerful enough that it can control the souls of the dead, it is not hard to imagine that there is a complete metaphysical aspect to Dormin, that some part of it exists completely beyond the physical world. The physical aspect must be what gives it power in the physical world, since sealing that aspect seals most of Dormin’s powers, at least in the physical world. However, this is not to suggest that the physical form is just a tool Dormin created to act in the physical world, since Dormin apparently could not simply discard it and create another body. Essentially, Dormin transcends either physical or metaphysical existence; what we see is Dormin, and sealing it will seal Dormin, but at the same time it is only a part of Dormin, a shadow cast on the physical world by a metaphysical power.
Written by Crumplecorn
Last updated 15/03/2010