The Complete Lore of Hornet – Hollow Knight

A picture of Hornet from Hollow Knight. In the background, blurred, The Lake of Unn in Greenpath

Hornet, one of Hollow Knight’s most important characters, is an enigmatic figure. Equipped with a needle and thread, she serves as both an adversary and an ally to the player’s character, the Knight. Hornet is the real deal: she has sparked memes, she has an incredible soundtrack, and is the protagonist of the highly anticipated new game, Hollow Knight: Silksong. With a bit of luck, Silksong is expected to be released within the next decade or two.  

Understanding Hornet’s actions and words can be challenging for first-time players. Her behavior changes between the few encounters with the Knight, leaving us with more questions than answers. Why does she fight us? Why is she in Greenpath? What’s Hornet’s story?  
In this article, I will explore the lore surrounding Hornet, her role as a protector, and why her presence in the Hollow Knight narrative is incredibly important. 

Hornet’s Origins in Hollow Knight Lore

…Bound…For brood…For child… 

…Fair bargain made… 

Hornet’s lore begins in Distant Village, Deepnest. She is a child born from a deal the Pale King made with Herrah the Beast. The Pale King needed a Dreamer whose eternal sleep could seal the Temple of the Black Egg, and within it, The Hollow Knight containing the Infection. For an overview of Hollow Knight’s lore and events, I wrote a comprehensive article that you can read HERE

Herrah was the queen of the Spider Tribe of Deepnest. Her partner died, leaving Herrah and the tribe without an heir. Putting aside the belligerence against the Pale King and the White Palace, Herrah accepted the Pale King’s request with one condition: to conceive a child together. That child was Hornet. This makes Hornet and the Knight step-siblings, which further ties their relationship throughout the game, adding a further layer of depth to their encounters.  

Deepnest, like many other regions of Hallownest, eventually fell to the Infection caused by the Radiance. 

Hollow Knight Comic: Hornet Meets Quirrel 

So, you’d seek sacred Hallownest? 
Turn back, simple bug. This place is a corpse. 
It will grant only death. 

As will I, 
To those who’d seek to desecrate it. 

Hornet’s whereabouts since Deepnest remain unknown until Quirrel, a bug who lost his memories, encounters her while crossing the border to Hallownest. She stands guard there, denying access to anybody who wishes to desecrate what she calls “Sacred Hallownest”. 

Though Quirrel wants to avoid violence, he prepares for a fight. Hornet recognizes his stance as that of a seasoned fighter and attacks immediately. During the battle she hits Quirrel’s mask, activating some kind of power within it. That is not the first time Hornet sees that mask. That is the mask of Monomon the Teacher, one of the Dreamers. 
Hornet ceases to fight Quirrel, and let him pass, but not before warning him of the dangers he may find in his journey. 

Hornet’s First Meeting With the Knight in Greenpath 

I’ve seen you, creeping through the undergrowth, stalking me. 
This old kingdom… A terrible thing awakens. I can smell it in the air… 
I know what you are. I know what you’d try to do. I can’t allow it. 

The next known encounter with Hornet in Hollow Knight is in Greenpath. The Knight, our main character, meets her during their journey to fight the Hollow Knight. Hornet calls the Knight a “ghost”, sensing their true nature: a vessel made from the Void. She then proceeds to relentlessly attack them. 

Hornet is against the Infection and the Radiance, so why is she trying to stop the Knight? The answer is simple: she does not believe the Knight is strong enough to take the Hollow Knight’s place. If the Knight fought the Hollow Knight and lost, the Infection within the Hollow Knight would propagate faster and more fiercely. For Hornet, it is better to just kill him where they stand.  

The Knight manages to defeat her, even though Hornet does not use all her strength and tricks. I believe that halfway through their first battle, Hornet sees in her step-sibling a strength that others of their species have not shown before. She decides to restrain herself, planning to test the Knight further in the future. Exhausted, she escapes without saying a word. 

The Next Step in Hornet’s Lore: The Fountain Memorial in the City of Tears 

Hornet has changed her mind on the Knight after their first battle. She realizes that her sibling may have the strength to take the Hollow Knight’s place in containing the Infection. She meets the Knight again at the Hollow Knight’s Fountain Memorial in the City of Tears, and shares insights about the voids inside them: 

You’ve seen beyond this kingdom’s bounds. Yours is resilience born of two voids. 
It’s no surprise then you’ve managed to reach the heart of this world. In so doing, you shall know the sacrifice that keeps it standing. 

While the first void is, well, literal Void, I believe that the second one is more symbolic: Hallownest’s bugs who leave the kingdom are said to lose their minds, which may be connected to the Pale King, who granted the citizens of Hallownest intelligence. This intelligence might be symbolized by the mask they wear. Stepping away from the kingdom meant losing their memories or worse, therefore considered a “void beyond the kingdom”. There is evidence of other regions and kingdoms outside of Hallownest, and outsiders can enter Hallownest without problems, which means that this issue is unique to the bugs of Hallownest. 

Hornet speaks of a sacrifice that keeps Hallownest standing, referring to both the Dreamers and the Hollow Knight, who keep the Infection at bay. Again, for more information about that, I advise you this article

She advises the Knight that, if they are serious about their journey, they should seek the Grave in Ash, referring to the Cast-off Shell in Kingdom’s Edge, where Hornet meets the Knight again. 

Hornet’s Test of Resolve in Hollow Knight Lore 

So you’d pursue the deeper truth? It isn’t one the weak could bear. 

Prove yourself ready to face it. I’ll not hold back. My needle is lethal and I’d feel no sadness in a weakling’s demise. 
Show me you can accept this Kingdom’s past and claim responsibility for its future. 

The Cast-off Shell in Kingdom’s Edge is no other than the Pale King’s old body: a Wyrm. Within the shell lays the King’s Brand, which marks its wielder as ruler of Hallownest and grants them access to places otherwise inaccessible. Being Hallownest Protector and Sentinel, Hornet is already there when the Knight reaches the cast-off shell. She wants to fight the Knight again, but this time the purpose is different: Hornet wants to test the Knight using all her strength. Only somebody strong enough to defeat her at that level should be allowed to carry the King’s Brand in their shell. In the battle that follows we can finally witness Hornet’s true power, which is mechanically an enhanced version of her first encounter, with additional moves like nail traps. This boss fight is a time to “Git Gud”, as Hornet politely screams at us during the fight. 

Even though she gives her all, the Knight’s strength has become a sight to behold. They defeat Hornet again and are allowed access in the Cast-off Shell. For Hornet, being defeated can only be a good sign. 

A new hope starts to stir within her: perhaps the Knight can do more than overcome the Hollow Knight and take their place in prolonging the containment of the Infection. 
They may be able to eradicate the Infection altogether. 

A crumbling sound signals the Knight’s acquisition of the King’s Brand: The Cast-off Shell has served its purpose and is now collapsing. Knowing that the knight would not be able to escape in time, she runs to their aid, and eventually saves them. 

In accordance with her signature, she leaves without saying a word. 

Other Encounters between Hornet and the Knight in Hollow Knight 

There are other encounters shared by Hornet and the Knight, but they depend on what the player accomplishes. They can help cast a light on Hornet’s personality, which is not that easy to find out.

Hornet Mourns For Her Mother Herrah the Beast 

The Knight will meet Hornet in Deepnest If the battle in Kingdom’s Edge happened before killing Herrah the Beast. She mourns the death of her mother, and shares with the player some insights on their relationship: 

So you’ve slain the Beast… and you head towards that fated goal. 
I’d not have obstructed this happening, but it caused me some pain to knowingly stand idle. 
…What? You might think me stern but I’m not completely cold. 

She admits that not interrupting the Knight killing her sleeping mother has moved her a bit. That is surprising indeed. She knows that what the Knight did has only freed Herrah from her end of the bargain with the Pale King.  

We do not choose our mothers, or the circumstance into which we are born. Despite all the ills of this world, I’m thankful for the life she granted me. 

It’s quite a debt I owed. Only in allowing her to pass, and taking the burden of the future in her stead, can I begin to repay it. 

Hornet values her life and the sacrifice her mother made to have her. Letting her die was a way to start showing gratitude for it.  

Herrah the Beast may not be sleeping anymore, but she will be finally resting in peace. 

Meeting the Knight After Conquering the Abyss 

Once the Knight has acquired the King’s Brand, they will be granted access to the Abyss. In there, the Knight discovers more about their identity and accepts the void inside of them. Hornet waits for the Knight at the edge of the Abyss and shares with them what she already began to think before: 

A difficult journey you would face, but a choice it can create. Prolong our world’s stasis or face the heart of its infection. 

This is indeed a choice that we, as the Knight, can make in the game. I’ll talk about it in the next paragraph, though. 

Hornet says another thing, which is very interesting, and relates to her and the Knight’s different origins: 

Though our strength is born of similar source, that part of you, that crucial emptiness, I do not share. 

Some people may think that since they are siblings, Hornet has the same Void as the Knight within her, but that is false. While they do share the same father, the Pale King, the Knight’s soul is filled with Void to prevent any kind of emotion. This is what a Vessel needs to be able to contain the Radiance’s Infection. Hornet, instead, is born of two beings. No Void involved. 

Hornet’s Possible Lore Endings in Hollow Knight

Welcome to speculation-ville, where each of the possible endings in the game are considered equally canon by Team Cherry. In most of them, the Knight’s fate will also change Hornet’s. 

The Hollow Knight Ending 

In this ending, the Knight defeats the Hollow Knight and takes his place as the vessel to prevent the infection from spreading. This is the only ending which does not involve Hornet in any way.  

Sealed Siblings Ending 

If the Knight has acquired the Void Heart, Hornet will help them by restraining the Hollow Knight. In this ending, the Knight does not use the Dream Nail in time, and the Hollow Knight eventually frees themselves. Hornet falls unconscious on the ground and will be sealed with the Knight inside the temple once they defeat the Hollow Knight. Her head will appear on the Door sealing the place, as she became another Dreamer. That’s a bummer. 

Dream No More Ending 

This ending starts like the Sealed Siblings ending, but in this version the Knight uses the Dream Nail on the Hollow Knight once restrained by Hornet. The Knight will be face-to-face with the source of the Infection: the Radiance. After a fierce battle, the Knight defeats the Radiance and helped by the Void, destroys it. An explosion of Void will cover the Temple of the Black Egg, and when it dissipates, Hornet will awake in the middle of it. She glances at the floor, seeing the Knight’s skull broken in half.  

Embrace the Void & Delicate Flower Endings 

In both endings, Hornet waits for the Knight to show up in the Temple of the Black Egg. At a certain point she notices the Infection suddenly disappearing, and somebody from inside the temple makes their appearance. Hornet prepares for battle: the Hollow Knight is now free from their chains and the Infection. 

What happened, you may ask? The Knight has circumvented the whole Hollow Knight problem and defeated Absolute Radiance in the Pantheon. Their own shade mixes with the giant mass of Void, creating the strongest character in the Hollow Knight lore: the Void Entity. Defeating the Radiance in the Pantheon has stopped nonetheless the Infection in Hallownest, hence the Hollow Knight being free. 


This was the longest article I have written. At the beginning, I thought it was going to be around 1000 words… how foolish I was! I hope the article was comprehensive enough: we explored Hornet’s origins and followed her lore through her encounters with the player character, the Knight. We also touched on her various endings, even though we may not have a “true ending”. For now, at least. 

I really hope that you enjoyed it, and that you are as excited as me for the Hollow Knight: Silksong! Don’t worry, I will update this article once we are going to know more about Hornet’s fate. 

In the meantime, I wish you an incredible day! I have written another lore article about the Mantis Tribe that you may want to check out!  

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