Dark Souls Has Finally Gotten Me

Last time, on A Life of Pain in Dark Souls, we slew the dragon and rescued the damsel, thus proving ourselves every bit the hero we always knew ourselves to be. Seriously, though, three minibosses slain? Only twenty minutes max of shameful weeping? I think I’m actually starting to get good at this game. Can we follow up that rousing success in this next segment? Read on and see.

 darksouls9darkrootbasinwaterfall

Our next destination is right up this waterfall. That’s right, we’re going to gird our wills, brave the elements, and climb… the nice convenient ladder that’s hidden from this view. But we’re going to do it with great determination! It will be almost as badass as climbing up the waterfall itself!

With the help of a few ladders and bridges, man-made structures sticking out in this otherwise desolate location, we arrive in another portion of the Darkroot Gardens. We’ve got a few choices of directions to go from here; I opt to head deeper into the forest.

 Darksouls9darkrootgardenblastedents

Nearly immediately, I’m beset by ents. I assume I’ve got this covered, after all, I slaughtered them by the bunch on the way up here. That state of mind persists, up until the first one gives me a bit of a surprise. I hit him, and he doesn’t die! Now, you have to understand, up until now, these guys have been folding like paper. I’ve been killing these guys just by breathing on them. I’m pretty sure I killed one with a stern look once. Yet now I’ve gotten a clean hit on one and he’s still standing? I’m not sure how to process this. These guys have leveled up.

And it’s not just their defense that’s gotten a boost. Their attack power’s a lot more significant as well. In fact, they’re strong enough that their grab move can kill a man outright. Err… not that I’d know that. That happened to a friend of mine.

The ents are all over this forest too, and seem to have a significantly increased zone of awareness, too. I… my friend… has to be very careful about how much attention she’s drawing. She can handle about two at a time reliably, but any more than that, and they can easily overwhelm me. I mean him.

darksouls9darkrootgarden treasure treasure treasure

See that small white light there? That’s a corpse with some nice treasure on it. Unfortunately, it’s surrounded by four ents, well more than I can comfortably fight. It takes a bit of jockeying, but I’m able to sneak my way through the trees and slowly approach, only drawing the aggro of two of them. That much I’m able to handle. Falling back into the forest, I let them pursue me in, then pick them off without alerting the other two. Afterward, I charge the survivors and swiftly turn them into firewood.

 dark souls 9 eastern set

I get a new set of Eastern Armor for my trouble. Like a lot of the other armor I’ve been getting, it offers a bit better protection than my current gear, but is quite a bit heavier and slows me down more than I’d like. I opt to just stick it in my pack for now.

I travel further into the forest, fending off the lurking ents all the way. Before I know it, I’m under attack again. A semitransparent knight snuck up on me.

 dark souls 9 forest dweller knight

This guy’s got a lot better defensive technique than most of the foes I’ve fought. More often than not he’s dodging around or blocking my blows. On the other hand, the element of surprise and my heavy blade is really working for him here. He manages to push me near the limit, taking up much more healing estus than I’d care to admit. With my power, though, I only need a few hits to triumph, and by keeping the pressure on, I’m able to turn it into a battle of attrition he’s never going to be able to win.

I claim my victory, but he has the last laugh. Apparently he wasn’t alone in this forest. I get hit by a few arrows seemingly from nowhere, and that’s enough to bring me down.

 dark souls 9 griggs

I take a break to retire back to Firelink Shrine, to see how my friends are doing. Our good buddy Griggs doesn’t have much to say, merely expressing his desire once more to pursue Big Hat Logan along with the commitment that he won’t leave until he’s taught me everything he knows. The knight Lautrec, on the other hand…

 dark souls 9 aether is very sexy

I know, it’s so radiant, isn’t it? A gift from the gods. The envy of any living being, man or woman. Why, I look so good, I…

 dark souls 9 lautrec humanity

Hey!

 dark souls 9 lautrec's a jerk

Lautrec here is advocating invading other players and stealing their humanity. And you know? That seems like a real jerk thing to do. Lautrec, I’m aghast. Here I thought you were one of the few good people populating the shrine. I guess my mission to fill Firelink with people who aren’t completely horrible was a little farther back than I thought.

After resting up, I head back into Darkroot Garden. I find the archer that took me down before, partially cloaked as was the knight. However, he’s on a bit of a cliff. I’m not going to be able to reach him for melee combat from this direction. I slip back into the forest before he can see me, and try to find a way to slip in behind him.

 dark souls 9 darkroot garden dweller mage

The knight I killed before is gone, but the Garden is far from empty. In the distance, I spy a figure, lightly armed and armored. I briefly entertain hopes that this guy may be friendly. The bolt of magic that soars my way as soon as he spies me puts an end to that, however.

His soul arrows home in on me, making them a bit difficult to dodge. They explode upon hitting any obstruction, however, meaning the forest setting is actually working out for me for once. Dodging and weaving between the trees, I manage to get myself close to the spell caster. Unfortunately, in doing so, I cross the path of another transparent knight. He thinks our conflict sounds like fun, and joins the party.

 darksouls9party

Unfortunately, the only party trick he knows involves severing my spine.

Between the knight, the mage, and the archer that makes three people whose heads have all earned enough frequent flier miles for a one way trip from their bodies courtesy of my Black Knight Sword. They’ve been a little too much for me so far. However, their only victories have been when I was fighting two at once. Lets see how well they stand alone.

 darksouls9darkrootgardenmagedweller

Turns out not so well. I find the mage first. Using the trees for cover, I’m able to get close enough that he opts to draw his light blade instead. He’s quick, but his lack of armor and light shield means he really can’t take hits that well. He falls without ever laying a scratch on me.

 darksouls9darkrootgardenknightdweller

The knight fares no better. He has the same attack patterns as the other one I’ve fought, meaning I’ve already learned to deal with them. Without the mage running interference, he’s really no match for me.

 darksouls9darkrootgardenpharis

And finally, the archer. I manage to sneak up on her, getting through the trees too close for her arrows to be effective. She opts to draw her blade instead, but I’m on her before she ever gets a chance to use it.

I take her bow and hat as spoils. The hat’s pretty dapper, but not much to write home about stat-wise. The bow on the other hand could be a nice step up from my current gear once upgraded. Judging by the item’s descriptions, the archer was actually quite the heroic figure before turning hollow. Sad.

 dark souls 9 dusk

Taking another break, I head back down to the lake in the depths to talk to Dusk of Oolacile, the noble lady I rescued from the golem last entry, again and see what she has to offer. Such a woman, she takes the time to teach me how to behave even more like a proper gentlemen. The spells she has to offer are utilitarian, opposed to Grigg’s damaging ones. Repairing weapons, hiding in plain sight, that sort of thing. Nothing I have the skill to use, but I can see how they’d be useful should I ever get myself up there.

Back at Firelink, everything’s pretty much the same, except for one major difference. Lautrec has vanished, disappeared to continue his quest, whatever it may be. Mayhaps we’ll meet again on the battlefield some day. I only hope we’re on the same side.

Heading back to the garden, I find that the mage respawns. None of the others I’ve slain so far has done that. I take a few moments to show him how much of a mistake that is.

 dark souls 9 door of artorias

At the edge of the garden, I find this door. Looks like the other side of that door just outside of Andrei’s tower. Is Andre seriously selling a key for a door easily bypassed by simply trekking through the depths, conquering a black knight and a hydra fending of golems ok I see what the selling point is.

 dark souls 9 forest dweller it's on

Across from the door, I encounter a bridge leading into a ruined tower. Guarding the mouth of that bridge is a fellow with a fairly large axe. I’m pretty sure he won’t be happy to see me. Still, though, I’ve handled so many other foes by now. I don’t think I’ve got much to worry about. One on one, he’ll be no match.

 dark souls 9 forest dwellers surrounded

He wouldn’t be a match, one on one. Our fight takes us across the path of a cleric and a camouflaged rogue, though. Working together, the three easily take me down.

 dark souls 9 forest dweller cleric miracle

Once again, I’m going to have to divide and conquer. The rogue is swift. The trees also serve to give him good cover. However, he has to get near to do any real damage. He doesn’t last long once in melee range. The cleric serves to be a bit tougher. She hits hard, acts pretty defensively, and can cast an aggressive looking light show that worried me at first but instead just seems to be a healing spell. Her shield and armor are weak, though, and so long as I keep the pressure on, she can’t safely heal herself. I press both advantages for all they’re worth.

 dark souls 9 be wary of death

The axe wielder is the only one left. Another player gives me some good advice for the coming battle.

 dark souls 9 forest dweller axeman

He needn’t have worried. The cleric was a tougher competitor than this guy. We have ourselves a bit of a duel in the open space before the tower. This guy might be able to match me for power, but keen observation ensures I’m out of the way of his blows. I play defensively, only striking when I know it’s safe. I slowly manage to wear him down, and one final strike makes him fall.

You know, the guys here are worth a huge amount of souls. I’m really starting to wonder if this is supposed to be some sort of later game area.

 dark souls 9 alvina of darkroot wood

Inside the tower, this wolf… cat… thing is watching me through the window. She introduces herself as Alvina of Darkroot Wood, and warns me against seeking the grave of Artorias. Is that what this whole area’s about? I’ve just been wandering around, slaughtering with no real purpose. Is that what I’m really supposed to be going for? In any case, when I voice my resolve to press on, Alvina decides she likes me, just like everyone else who hasn’t gone hollow or is otherwise a total jerk. She invites me to join the Forest Hunters. That’s a PVP covenant, and I don’t really have any interest in that, so I pass on it. She’s disappointed, but takes no offense, and leaves the offer open.

 dark souls 9 opening door of artorias

I break from my progress, and head back to Andrei, to get that door open. Yes, the crest that unlocks it costs an obscene amount of souls, but with how much I’ve been getting in the area, I’ll have that made up soon enough. Besides, my time’s worth more than imaginary video game money, and constantly marching through the Basin is kind of a pain.

 dark souls 9 dread mushroom

I pass through the tower, descend to a lower level of the forest, and immediately come face to face with mushrooms. Not just any mushrooms though! These are dire mushrooms. Dread mushrooms. Mushrooms that have made grown men cry to their mothers. If you know anything about Dark Souls, you’ve probably heard of these guys. Dopey looking walking fungus. The most unassuming beings possible. You wouldn’t think they’d be worth worrying about. And they’re not. The little ones, at least. The big ones though? As dumb as they look, they pack enough power to easily turn you into a pile of mush.

 dark souls 9 big dread mushrooms

I don’t bother the little ones, and they don’t pay any attention to me. The large one turn to face me as I approach, watching my progress, but as I haven’t harmed any of their children, they don’t make a move.

I… think I’ll be going now.

 dark souls 9 darkroot garden giant glowy door

Down a cliff, I spy this door. I assume that’s the end goal of this whole area, something related to the grave of Sir Artorias. I don’t spy an easy way to get there, though, at least not without jumping off a cliff.

 dark souls 9 darkroot garden giant bearcat

I follow a path leading downwards, and find myself assaulted by this bearcat. A massive feline that can open its jaws like a snake, revealing row upon row of foul teeth. At a distance, it curls into a ball and dashes Sonic-style, rolling over my guard and laying me flat. Up close, it dashes around taking quick chomps out of me. Either way, I don’t have much of a defense against it.

I skirmish with the cat for a while, losing my life several times over. Finally, I start to get the hang of it. Finally, I start being able to fight back.

 dark souls 9 darkroot garden triple bearcat

Then, once I get it nearly dead, two more cats jump into the fray.

You know what? Screw this. Between the cats running rampant over me, the large amount of souls I’ve been getting, and the mushroom’s reputation, this is an area that’s obviously meant for later in the game. We really do have other things to do well, softer walls to bang my head against. And it these cats, the first real enemy I’m facing after the break between segments, are this hard, what does that say for the rest of the enemies here? I think I’m going to put this place off for now. It’ll still be here when we decide to return, harder than ever.

Although I guess that means that all I have left is the freakin’ sewer level. Blazes.

Next time: The freakin’ sewer level.

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