If you’ve made it to Genshin Impact’s rain forest region, you might have also started exploring its deserts too. Sumeru is a vast area within Teyvat to explore and its story quests have a lot to reveal about the various questions of the game. Which is why we’re going to unpack what we know about one of the more mysterious figures in Sumeru. Let’s talk about King Deshret lore in Genshin Impact.
There are some heavy spoilers ahead so you may want to come back after completing Nahida’s Story Quest Sapientia Oromasdis Chapter: Act II– Homecoming!
Who was King Deshret?
King Deshret and lore surrounding him in Genshin Impact is a pretty important part of the Sumeru arc. You’ll see this figure mentioned by his multiple titles – the Scarlet/Mourning King, Lord of the Sands/Blazing Sun, and Amun – all befitting the man whose actions echo to present day.
Unsurprisingly, Deshret was a very influential figure in the Dendro Archon’s nation. Originally, he was one of the three God-Kings of Sumeru who ruled over the region together, Deshret ruled alongside the previous Dendro Archon, Greater Lord Rukkhadevata and the Goddess of Flowers, Nabu Malikata.
While Deshret had a deep friendship with Rukkhadevata, it’s said that he was in love with Nabu Malikata. It’s also said that she knew of his feelings, though whether she actually addressed them is a mystery.
Regardless of romantic love, the three gods had a strong bond. Strong enough that they likely worked together during the Archon War, even when most gods were at each other’s throats.
Before and after the Archon War, King Deshret was an ambitious man who was dearly beloved by his people. Under his rule, they were able to prosper even in the harsh desert environment and become one of the most powerful nations in Teyvat at the time. With their sages and advanced technology, they were said to even rival dragons.
Thus it makes sense that the Eremites and people of Aaru Village who descended from those original desert people still hold a lot of faith in King Deshret’s legends. Many people in the desert struggle to survive, so it’s no surprise that they also cling to their civilization’s glory days.
While his people prospered under his rule, King Deshret was not satisfied being under the thumb of the heavens. This dissatisfaction along with lies told by his ministers led him to seek more power. Tragically, this would eventually set him on the path to destruction, as he began researching forbidden knowledge.
Before we get any further into King Deshret lore, it’s important to talk about forbidden knowledge. If you’ve played through Sumeru’s Archon Quests you probably already have a vague notion of what it is. So let’s talk about where it came from and why so many have obsessed over it.
In Genshin Impact, forbidden knowledge is a type of wisdom that was originally brought to Teyvat a millennia ago by the Dragon King Nibelung. It was meant to be a weapon used against the Heavenly Principles but ended up being catastrophic to the inhabitants of Teyvat.
Forbidden knowledge is shown to have a corruptive nature and will drive whoever obtains it to madness eventually. The only known way to eradicate forbidden knowledge is to wipe out those who have been exposed to it.
Madness and corruption isn’t the only ill effect of forbidden knowledge. It seems to also act as a poison to beings of Teyvat, as seen in the devastation it has wrought.
Whenever forbidden knowledge crops up, those who want to use it seem to all have the same goal – a rebellion against Celestia and the Heavenly Principles. Unfortunately, rather than rebellion, each attempt so far has only resulted in mass destruction.
The first attempt at using forbidden knowledge very nearly caused the heavens and earth to collapse. The second attempt greatly weakened Sumeru and crippled them technologically. The third attempt was likely the cause of the cataclysm at Khaenri’ah.
While the second and third attempts at harnessing forbidden knowledge weren’t quite as destructive as the first, the lingering effects can still be clearly seen throughout Teyvat. Even centuries later.
While not the only person involved, King Deshret was the driving force behind the second major attempt at harnessing forbidden knowledge.
King Deshret’s Plan
What exactly King Deshret wanted to do is shrouded in mystery.
What we do know is that after the Archon War – when the Seven were granted their Gnoses, it is implied that King Deshret rejected accepting one as well. From artifact descriptions, we also know that neither King Deshret nor Nabu Malikata were content under Celestia’s rule.
“Through King Deshret’s words and aspirations, she saw the possibility to transcend the absurd shackles that governed this world.
Rejecting the gift granted by the divine throne, the red-crowned king sought a new path of his own volition…”-Wilting Feast, Plume of Death piece from the Flower of Paradise Lost artifact set.
It is clear that King Deshret’s overall goal was to rebel against Celestia and the Heavenly Principles. Despite seemingly knowing that he would fail, the Goddess of Flowers agreed to help him. She apparently believed that while he would not succeed, his actions would become an opportunity for mortals to do what he could not.
Unlike Nabu Malikata though, Greater Lord Rukkhadevata disagreed with Deshret’s ambitions and retreated to the rain forests of Sumeru.
Forbidden Knowledge and the Death of the Goddess of Flowers
With Nabu Malikata’s help, King Deshret performed a ritual to gain more knowledge and began to shape the deserts of Sumeru to better reflect his ideal utopia. The ritual unfortunately took Nabu Malikata’s life, and her passing was deeply mourned by both Deshret and Rukkhadevata.
Despite the loss though, Deshret continued moving forward and amassing forbidden knowledge. He erected many of the gigantic structures found throughout Sumeru’s deserts that can still be seen today and explored in game.
Unfortunately, not even a god can use Forbidden Knowledge without penalty. As time went on, King Deshret fell into madness, causing him to unleash the forbidden knowledge upon the world. This caused not only immediate devastation, but it also brought about The Withering as well as the incurable disease Eleazar.
King Deshret’s Fate
Perhaps the most important part of King Deshret lore in Genshin Impact is what actually happened to him.
In order to prevent the calamity of forbidden knowledge from spreading, Greater Lord Rukkhadevata came to King Deshret’s aid. She had priests build temples with the power of life to combat the disaster while the people of the desert scattered.
Mitigating the spread of forbidden knowledge was unfortunately the best the Dendro Archon could do though. Ultimately, King Deshret had to sacrifice himself in order to pause the disaster.
Prior to his passing, King Deshret had made a deal with Apep the Dendro Dragon. In order for the dragon to ignore Deshret’s changes to Sumeru’s deserts, King Deshret agreed to let the dragon devour him upon his passing. By doing this, Apep believed he could obtain the vast knowledge Deshret had accumulated.
Which means that as per their agreement, Apep consumed Deshret to claim his knowledge.
The forbidden knowledge King Deshret had obtained was indeed passed onto the dragon, but it began to corrupt Apep in turn. Apep believed King Deshret intended to pass on the corruption and used it as a fail-safe, as we find out in Nahida’s Story Quest.
Whatever his ambitions and plans were, King Deshret’s death occurred over 1,000 years before the game’s main events began. Long before even the disaster of Khaenri’ah.
Why Does King Deshret Matter Now?
What makes King Deshret important to Genshin Impact now is that it is his actions which eventually lead to pretty much all the upheavals in Sumeru.
Despite being warned by the Goddess of Flowers of the dangers of forbidden knowledge, Deshret sought it out anyway. His desire for forbidden knowledge is directly responsible for the death of the Goddess of Flowers as well as the corruption of Apep, Irminsul, and Greater Lord Rukkhadevata.
His legacy doesn’t stop at just the gods and forbidden knowledge though. The Fatui also use his legends to manipulate the Eremites to do their bidding as well.
Naturally, this leaves a pretty big mess for the Traveler to clean up when they reach Sumeru on their journey. Basically what we’re saying is that without King Deshret, the Traveler likely would have arrived in a very different Sumeru than the one we got.
Despite having been gone for over 1,000 years before the game’s events, King Deshret is a prime example of the rich storytelling Hoyoverse has cultivated. No bit of dialogue or item description is too obscure to enrich the world of Teyvat and its characters.
Join the High Ground!
There you have it, that’s pretty much everything we know about King Deshret lore in Genshin Impact! Was there something important that we missed? Let us know in the comments below!
If you’re interested in more Genshin Impact lore make sure you don’t miss our theories on who (or what) Paimon is!
Until next time, ad astra abyssosque and happy gaming!