Light. Infection. Source. Radiance is the secret final boss in Hollow Knight, but challenging her is not an easy task. Sealed and contained where no one can find her, players must acquire powerful items, find hidden locations, and piece together the disparate history of Hallownest before they can resist the Shining. Studying the nature of the fall of this decrepit kingdom will reveal the truth and free its remaining inhabitants from the grip of this ancient enemy.
While this guide aims to be as spoiler-free as possible, pursuing Radiance will involve reaching important plot points in Hollow Knight. Readers’ discretion is recommended.
How to get to the source of infection
Get and awaken the nail of a dream
Upon arrival at the Recreation Areas, players can interact with the memorial located in its center. Here they will be approached for the second time by Dreamers who will try to catch the Knight in a dream in order to prevent the player from continuing his search. Players will be saved by a member of the Moth Tribe, known as the Seer, who will entrust them with the Nail of Dreams.
This powerful relic will allow players to break through the veil between dreams and reality, but over time it has dimmed. Players can awaken the Nail of Dreams by acquiring Essence: a resource that can be collected in battles with Warriors’ Dreams, variants of dreams of certain bosses, blows to Whispering Roots or from random drops after killing ordinary enemies.
Players must collect 1800 essences or more to get the Nail of the Awakened Dream, which is required to access previously hidden areas leading to the final confrontation.
Collect the white fragments
Finding and obtaining two white fragments is the next step on the player’s path to completing Hollow Knight. They belong to the revered rulers of Hallownest, but these monarchs have long since returned to obscurity, which makes it difficult to track them.
It is not surprising that the White Lady has associated herself with the Queen’s Gardens, but the path to her is blocked by a traitor Lord: a former Mantis Lord, exiled from the tribe. After defeating the Traitor Lord, players can find the Queen of Hallownest in a cocoon-type structure, the roots of which diverge in different directions, and the body of one of the five great knights who died protecting her from the mantis traitors. She will give the players her white fragment after they talk to her for the first time.
To find the Pale King, players must have the Nail of the Awakened Dreams and the Wings of the Monarch, which can be obtained after defeating the Broken Vessel. Using the Monarch’s Wings, players can reach a Hidden Station and a Palace in an Ancient Hollow. Along the way, players will encounter the corpse of the Royal Mold, which can only be interacted with if the players have the Nail of an Awakened Dream.
Then the players will be transported to a Dream where the Pale King moved the White Palace to hide from the Infection that engulfed Hallownest. The White Palace consists of several platform challenges, so players need to have all the mobility improvements and certain mascots, such as Hiveblood and Mark of Pride, to complete each section. Upon reaching the end, players will find what remains of the Pale King sitting on the throne, but completely powerless, as players collect a second White Fragment from his body.
After collecting both White Fragments, they will combine to create the Soul of the King. This amulet will gradually generate a soul every two seconds, but its use is limited due to its high Notch cost. However, this is necessary for the next step.
Find the Royal Brand and get an Empty Heart
Exploring the Ancient Pool, players will reach the sealed doorway at the lowest level. In addition to the knowledge tablet, players have nothing to interact with here until they acquire a certain item.
In the far east from the Edge of the Kingdom, a Hornet guards the path to the Royal Mark, and players must defeat it again before it allows the Knight to pass. After defeating Hornet for the second time, players can move on to the Outcast Shell, the corpse of a giant Wyrm, where at the end you can collect the King’s Brand.
Acquiring the Royal Brand will open up new dialogues with several characters, such as the Bardoon and the White Lady, but most importantly, players will now be able to open a door in the Ancient Hollow. This doorway leads to the lowest depths of Hallownest, known as the Abyss: an important place in the history of Hollow Knight.
With the Royal Soul, players must descend to the lower level of the main hall of the Abyss, where the earth will open. Following the newly discovered path will lead players to the place of birth, where an egg with a Knight’s reflection awaits them.