Tseldora is a place burdened with terrible misdeeds. Long ago it was a mining colony founded by a man named Tseldora. He mined into the side of a mountain and discovered brightstone deep under what would one day become Tseldora. This substance, which appears to be crystal or have very similar qualities, brought great personal fortune to Tseldora and allowed him to establish a town which he named after himself. The wealth of the region brought many settlers in to Tseldora. The great prosperity that came to these settlers encouraged greed in equal measure. The community was abundant in wealth, weaving themselves intricate and fanciful garments, for show, rather than defense. But, unable to find contentment in their wealth the people were ever in search of more riches (or that which they lacked).
This covetousness did not solely affect the people. Tseldora himself was an eccentric soul known for his fascination with spiders. Within his private chamber he kept a pet spider called Freja in a small cage. Perhaps it was with him when he made his discovery of the Brightstone, or when he discovered the remnants of an ancient dragon. Perhaps he discovered the spider living within the corpse of the Ancient Dragon buried beneath the earth. We know that the spiders are parasitic, as they feed off the Undead of Brightstone Cove. They are also shown scurrying into the mouth of the Ancient Dragon, so it seems likely that Freja was a solitary insect that found a feast within the Ancient Dragon’s remains and the Duke encountered this spider when he uncovered the dragon in his mining.
We are told the Writhing Ruin (the soul of Seath the Scaleless) took possession of Freja. This soul continues to exert influence over the land, even after the eons have reduced it to remnants. The soul grew its power by feeding on more souls throughout the land. It is likely that the Duke himself had fallen under the influence of the Old Paledrake Soul and provided Freja with the necessary souls to grow her in strength and power. People of the Cove were probably invited into the Duke’s home, never to be seen again, increasing his reputation for eccentricity. Over time Freja grew massively in power and size. Her small cage could no longer contain her and she burst free. Freja gave birth to thousands of spiders. She and her spiders made their home beneath the mansion of Duke Tseldora. Eventually these spiders, most probably seeking sustenance, overran the town of Tseldora and killed or chased off the residents. The Duke himself only stood by and watched, eerily contented.
To counter the situation and in aid of the Duke, a contingent of the Drangleic Royal Army was dispatched to Tseldora. They made camp above the town and descended into the valley. Included amongst these warriors were a number of high ranking Drangleic priests, and Drangleic white mages (the men wore white, the women wore black). What happened next is unclear. It seems likely that the soldiers never made it out and were completely overrun by the spiders. Alternatively, they may have called in a retreat. Perhaps due to the magnitude of spiders that had infested the Cove making any further attempts at mining the Brightstone useless, or the fact that the majority of its citizens had already been killed so there was no point in helping. Maybe it was because they found Lord Tseldora, and saw that he had become a hollow, so the mission was deemed pointless. Their camp became a home for refugees of the crisis, the many peasants that had once tilled the land and raised its livestock. Perhaps these peasants also worked as miners, as they wield pickaxes, and were some of the lucky few who escaped the catastrophe of the town.
The people of Brightstone were renowned for their greed. We see that some of the peasants wield torches and seem to act like a mob. But why would they form a mob? Did the peasants, after settling in to the Drangleic camp decide to drive the battered and beaten soldiers away? Did their greedy hearts covet the camp and its resources for themselves? Or was there another force motivating them…?
While the soldiers fought the spiders, the priests of Drangleic may have stayed behind to help the people who had escaped. The mages too may have stayed behind to try and contain the spiders within the Lower Brightstone Cove. It was into this chaos that the Prowling Magus arrived. Perhaps this Magus had been dispatched with the Drangleic contingent. We know that Magus’ were warlocks from Aldia (Aldia was perhaps a town that has now become the ruins of the Shaded Woods, or simply refers to the manor in which Aldia was confined) and that they gave rise to wicked things, casting forbidden and covert rituals upon themselves. Due to their nature and the history of hexes, it is likely these rituals were associated with the Dark. The Prowling Magus’ story is thematically tied to that of the mages of Oolacile who lost their minds because of contact with the Abyss. This Prowling Magus may have come to Brightstone Cove on Vendrick’s order, or because they were seeking souls. Whatever the case, they seem to have become a figurehead and leader of the clerical force attached to the Drangleic Royal Army at Tseldora. It is easy to see how this Magus with priestly attendants would have drawn the broken, battered and scared people of Tseldora to them. The clerics could offer these people healing, and the Magus, protection.
Clerics of Drangleic were not viewed with particular reverence, and their positions were only preserved as a nod to tradition. What was this tradition? The order of bishops and priests came from the Way of White. This covenant was invented by Gwyn and perpetuated by his uncle, All-Father Lloyd. The Covenant was interested in the continuation of the Age of Fire, and may have had clear distinction between the roles of men and women (as there is an Ivory Talisman that is only given to women in Dark Souls 1). This information gives us a lot of potential answers. King Vendrick held a lukewarm opinion of the clerics because he was a Dark Lord. He had never taken the true throne, rejected burning himself upon the First Flame and sought any means necessary to end the Curse outside of re-enacting this First Sin. With Nashandra at his side, his Kingdom had embraced the Dark. So what place could clerics who seek to preserve the Age of Fire have in Drangleic, a kingdom that had removed the Firekeepers from their roles and left the flames to die out? They were there simply as a nod to tradition, kept only as attendants to ceremony. But they did have power. The two clerics attending on the Prowling Magus both hold Priest’s Chimes. These chimes were only given to high-ranking clerics in Drangleic and these priests had high faith enabling them to cast sunlight spear. But as we know, these clerics, despite attaining the highest honor they could hope to achieve in Drangleic, had nothing really to return to. The Royal Family had always held the line of priests at an arms-length, and Drangleic was no place for a cleric with any ambition. So they stayed. They helped the people who were suffering and healed the congregation.
With all of these factors combined, it seems very likely that this congregation is the tattered remnants of the Tseldora Cove survivors, that the priests healed and cared for them and that the Prowling Magus led these vulnerable people, perhaps seeking or draining their souls, or perhaps trying to find redemption in helping them.