Pressing On in Dark Souls

Last time, on Doom, Despair, and Dark Souls, my status as the Best Chosen One became known to the world after I rang the two Bells of Awakening. Of course, this isn’t a role one can take lightly. Just being a chosen one has a lot of responsibility, but being the World’s Best Chosen One is more than most people can bear! Will I be able to handle the burden? And what is that burden exactly? Let’s find out together!

We ended up in Quelaag’s Domain last time, a giant sexy spider’s den deep in the bowels of Lordran. This place has an exit leading even deeper, into a place called the Demon Ruins, but honestly, after a sewer level and that blasted Blighttown, I’m done with being underground. I need some sun on me. So I head upwards, back towards Firelink Shrine.

Upon arriving back at the closest thing I have to a home base, I stop for a bit to chat with my new best friend, Laurentius of Great Swamp. You remember this guy. He’s the guy who gave me the power to unleash the fiery passion in my soul upon my enemies. I buy up all his pyromancy spells, because being able to throw fire is awesome, and he tells me a bit about the nature of pyromancy magic. A pyromancer’s power truly does come from the soul, as it turns out, and when Laurentius gave me my pyromancer’s flame and the ability to throw a blaze from my hands, he also gave me a little bit of himself.

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I’m honestly touched.

Aside from that, there are two new things at Firelink Shrine, one good, and one bad. The good part is that we have a new resident, yet another person who’s not a complete jerk. Yay!

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Although he does happen to be a bit monstrous.

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Ah, so that’s all the Best Chosen One needs to do? Just become the next Geezer Zeus, lording with godly might over the realms of man? I just link the Fire, cast away the Dark, and purge Lordran of the Curse of the Undead? Is that all?

If you’ll excuse me a second, I’m starting to get a little lightheaded.

It’ll be ok, right? I am the Best Chosen One, after all. It’s not like I’ve died dozens of times already just ringing the Bells of Awakening, and besides, even if I have, which I totally haven’t, I’m undead, so it doesn’t much matter. I can die all the times! All I’ve got waiting for me is eventual demented insanity, and an eternity of looking a burned and wrinkly and…. ugly? Ok, I’ll do it. I’ll purge the undead curse. I can’t go through life not being beautiful!

To cure the undead, though, first I need to get the Lordvessel from Anor Londo. Before that, though…

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Right. So, the Kingseeker Frampt does have some usefulness for me, besides just dispensing direction and looking like an inbred worm demon. He’ll eat my junk items for me, removing them from my inventory and giving me some extra souls in return. I take advantage of that, to make things less cluttered. My pockets started getting a little full after the fortieth set of crappy armor I stuffed in there.

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Even Captain Mopey here is impressed with me. Doesn’t stop him from complaining about our new guest, though.

I did mention that there were two new things at Firelink Shrine, right? The first was Frampt. The second, well…

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The bonfire’s out, and I can’t light it. This concerns me.

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I investigate. The Firekeeper has been slain. Our bonfire, the main factor that made Firelink so welcoming and safe, has been lost. The mute woman has left behind nothing but her clothes, and a Black Eye Orb. This orb allows me to invade the world of the murderer of a Firekeeper and reclaim their soul. Something tells me she left this there knowingly, hoping someone would be able to save her. Conveniently enough, the eye constantly watches towards Anor Londo, our future destination.

In not unrelated news, the knight Lautrec of Carim has gone missing. Methinks I have a suspect.

But, before I can reach Anor Londo to track down the firekeeper’s killer and regain the Lordvessel, first I’m going to need to traverse Sen’s Fortress, and insidious den of traps that random giant opened up when I rang the two bells. Now, there are quite a few places I have yet to explore, and most of my gaming instincts are telling me to take care of the side areas before bothering with the route the game wants me to take, but I’ve read up on what this Lordvessel does, and I’m thinking I want to get my hands on that before I go exploring. So, it’s the plot path for us!

The entrance to Sen’s Fortress is right after Andrei’s tower, which gives us good opportunity to make use of the blacksmith’s abilities. I’ve been wearing pretty much the same clothes almost since the start of the game. I just need to buy some more titanite, upgrade one of the many suits of armor I’ve been carrying around for a while, and…

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Looking good, looking good. After upgrading the Elite Knight Armor set I got in Darkroot Garden, I get myself a nice boost in my defences, and gear that looks a lot less crummy to boot. The Elite Knight Armor is a lot heavier than my combination of chainmail and wanderer gear, which would normally slow me down considerably. Wearing the ring I won from Havel the Rock mitigates that, though, meaning so long as I have that ring on, I’m just as speedy as I was previously.

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Newly attired, I make my way through the gate the giant opened at the end of last update, and enter Sen’s Fortress. I immediately step on a pressure plate upon passing through the gate, and narrowly avoid a trio of darts launched from the other side of the room. They weren’t kidding about the traps.

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The noise summons one of these serpentmen, and I back out into the light again, preferring to fight the new enemy in territory I’m familiar with. These guys are strong. Stronger than any random mook I’ve faced so far. They take a full three hits from my Black Knight Blade to take down. More painfully, they don’t stagger after just a single hit. Meaning even though I swing faster than them, I can’t interrupt their attacks with my own, and playing too aggressively just ends up with us trading damage at best. Instead, I have to be patient, and allow them to tire or break their attacks with my shield, before pressing my own.

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I do so, killing that snakeman and his fellow deeper in the entry hall. I slay the pots therein, collect a large soul, and take a moment to admire the artwork. You know, those look suspiciously like the Black Knights I’ve been bulldozing periodically for a while now. I think I might like this place. Hopefully, I can collect some more gear to match my sword.

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Heading through that hallway, I find myself faced with a classic hazard. Swinging pendulum guillotines along a narrow walkway. If you’ve played video games, chances are you’ve seen these before. Timing is everything. I need to pass underneath those blades while they’re on the upswing. A misstep will either have me run through, or knock me off the platform.

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And what’s underneath doesn’t look too inviting. I recognize those horns as part of a titanite demon, the likes of which I’d slain before in Andrei’s tower. I consider making my way down there to engage, but I don’t see a way back up, and the fall would likely kill me even before I could reach the demon.

Instead, I turn my attentions to that bridge. I spy another serpentfolk across the way, blocking the path. I fire an arrow, just to piss him off. He charges, and runs right into a swinging blade. The pendulum doesn’t kill him, but the fall does. My way clear, I head across.

Partway through, I’m struck from behind with a magical bolt that sets my body crackling with electricity, not wanting to engage in the midst of these blades, I hurry to surer footing on the other side, than turn around, ready to engage.

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The snakefolk have mages, too. This one is poised in wait to rain sorcery on anyone crossing the bridge. I take her on with my bow. It’s slow going, my archery is not very powerful. I’d much rather fight her with blade or pyromancy, but she’s out of range of both. The pendulums actually serve me well here, blocking her shots more often than not. Eventually, I’m able to wear her down.

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Pressing onward, I come across a chest, with a dart launcher set in the wall behind it, ready to catch hasty adventurers unawares. I trigger it, than move out of the way. Inside the chest are a few large shards for titanite, material for upgrading my arms and armor.

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Onward still, I come across a snakefolk seemingly rushing down a path to lie in wait for me as I leave the doorway. Not too smart, though, to cross my field of view. I start to head through, only to stop as I see a large boulder chasing after the serpent soldier. Well. Let’s stay away from that place for now.

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Heading downwards proves fruitless, however. Only a short path, with this snakeman at the end. He doesn’t bother me as I approach. I can’t tell whether he’s sleeping, or just doesn’t care to tangle with someone who is obviously the best chosen one there is, but either way, I leave him alone. For now.

I head up the path with the rolling boulders, timing my runs and ducking into alcoves as they pass by. There’s a fog gate within easy reach, but I’d rather see what’s at the top…

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My curiousity is rewarded. After slaying a serpent mage that gets too close and ducking under where the boulders are falling from, I find myself in a room with a treasure chest. Inside the chest, there’s this pretty sweet ring. I take it and put it on immediately.

Through the fog gate, I spy what’s obviously another dart launcher in the wall, but I can’t find where the pressure plate for it is. I’m a smart man, I can puzzle this out. The launcher is facing a short hallway. If I were placing these traps, I’d set at least one to shoot you in the back as you were making your natural way through the fortress. That hallway would be a natural place for just that. I try out my theory, backing down the hallway with my shield raised towards the launcher. It triggers, just as I suspected. I am a genius! My head’s quickly deflated, however. Figuring out the trap had left my back exposed to a lizard soldier in the next room.

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Slaying him, I press on. The sound of rolling boulders slamming into one another grows as I do so. I almost step out of this doorway here, before one of the massive rocks comes crashing right in front of me, before knocking down the ramps and stairs once more. I have a choice of options. I could either try heading up the ramp, to where the boulders are coming from, and hope there’s enough recesses to make my way there, or I could slip in between the boulders and follow them downwards. The former seems pretty risky to me. I take the latter option. Waiting for the next boulder to pass, I run. Around corners, down ramps, leaping stairs, I run. I cut to the left just as soon as I spy the pit these boulders are emptying into, narrowly avoiding the rock that lurked just behind me.

In the following room, I spy yet another treasure chest, right out in the open. Oh, I do so love treasure! I rush towards it, ready to open it up and collect the goodies within. Maybe this will be another kickawesome ring! Or a sweet new sword! You can never have enough swords! Something gives me pause, though. Just a small voice, in the back of my mind, telling me something’s wrong. Something doesn’t add up here. Trusting my instincts, I pull up before I reach the chest, and analyze this situation. The chest is in the middle of the room. So far, all the chests I’ve found have been against the walls, where one would be less liable to trip over things. Moreover, this room seems to be on the main path through the fortress, where I’ve had to explore and take small risks to find past chests. And this could be just a trick of the light, but I think this chest is a different shade from those I’ve found in the past. Those are just small factors. But there is a pattern there, and this doesn’t fit it. On a whim, convinced I’m doing something stupid, I strike the chest.

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AHHHHHHHHHHHHH! KILL IT KILL IT KILL IT KILL IT!

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KILLITKILLITKILLITKILLITKILLITKILLITKILLITKILLITKILLITKILLITKILLITKILLITKILLITKILLITKILLIT!

Thankful that my instincts are on point, I manage to kill the chest monster before it’s able to move, and score a lightning spear for my trouble. You know, I’ve always wondered about this. What sort of evolutionary process would lead to a predator that disguises itself as a treasure chest? Seriously, mimics show up all the time in games, and never with any clue as to the nature of the beast.

Also, were those teeth made of human fingers?! Euuugh. In any case, I lay down a message warning other players of the chest monster.

Heading forward a bit more, I come across a platform elevator. I hop on, allowing it to carry me up. It only pauses briefly at the next floor, however, and I miss my exit. That’s ok. I’ll just ride this all the way up, then catch my departure on the way down.

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Turns out, the top floor is a bed of spikes. I survive, but only just.

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Getting off at my proper exit with some new holes, I head up some stairs and find myself here. The platform catches boulders that fall from above, before a series of rams knocks them to down a variety of paths. It seems I can select which path they’ll follow by moving this lever. I play around with it for a bit, sending boulders down various paths, before I hear the sound of a wall breaking and gain some souls. I divert the boulders to fall harmlessly (I hope) off the back of the fortress, and drop down to investigate.

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Here’s the path I found earlier, with the serpentguy that didn’t attack me for whatever reason? Well, looks like I accidentally did a little remodeling. The snakefolk resting against the wall didn’t live. I’d apologize, but I’m sure he deserved it. Looks to be some sort of dungeon behind the wall.

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Hey look at this! The snakefolk have imprisoned a giant hat! And according to the prompt, it even talks! I have to see this. I call out to it.

The hat answers, and introduces itself as Logan. Ah, so this is Big Hat Logan. Quite aptly named, at that. We’ve found Grigg’s teacher, the man he’s been looking for all this time! He’ll be so happy. Logan asks me to set him free, claiming that the inactivity is rotting his mind, and promising to teach me sorceries in return. My master key seems like it’ll work on the lock, so I open up the gibbet, letting him out. He promises to meet me at Firelink later. Yay! I keep this up, that place will be downright pleasant soon. I haven’t seen a pleasant place in a good long while. I’m looking forward to it.

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The pathway leads to an opening in the wall. Nothing to do here, really, but it’s nice to see the sun again.

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Of course, I had to jump down to a previous area to rescue the hat, which means I have to recover old ground getting back. One thing’s changed this time around, however. At the bottom of the ramp, where I have to slip in between the rolling boulders and hurry down, the stones have filled the pit they were emptying into and punched through the wall beyond, where they’re now being deposited.

I investigate inside, and get myself a nice ring that boost the item drop rate for my troubles. Unfortunately, I explore a bit too recklessly, and find myself using up the remainder of my estus recovering from a few errant boulders.

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I head back up to the boulder launch pad, and progress down a nearby hallway, only to find the most obvious trap yet. It’s a simple matter to just trigger these and hang back as the dart launchers fire their bolts in unison.

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From there, I have to cross another one of those pendulum bridges. These things are always annoying, mostly because depth perception does not normally work out so well in these games, and particularly not here, where the colours tend to blend together and the camera movement is quite limited until I’m already on the bridge. Some of the pendulum blades have left gouges and bloodstains underneath them, to mark the danger area, but not all. Still, this bridge is short, and I’m able to make it across in a single, well-timed dash.

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On the other side, there are a few serpentfolk to cut through. First, a snake soldier falls quickly enough. They’re strong and can take quite a beating, but they only have two real attacks, both of which I’ve grown accustomed to, so they’re not much of a threat. The noise of our battles summons a serpent mage just as soon as I remove the life from the first. The mages are much more of a problem for me. But only from a distance. In a place like this, where I can just walk up and shove my sword down their gullets? They don’t even have a chance.

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There’s a third serpent soldier guarding some souls down this pathway here. I slay him, collect the booty, and move onwards.

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Another pendulum bridge here, with the blades far on the far side. I start across, slowly. Now, you guys have been watching me take on Dark Souls for a while. By now, you probably know me as a paragon of strength and victory, and bearing a soul of iron. Now, I don’t want to shatter anyone’s perception of me, so let me just set some context here. It’s taken me a good long while to get here. It’s been a hard fight, exploring this new territory, dealing with new foes and new traps. I’ve pretty much exhausted my renewable resources. I’m out of estus, and with it, my ability to heal without permanently using resources. So, as a bolt of magic strikes me from behind and to the left, I want to let you know that I did panic. Just a little bit. I couldn’t afford to be taking any more damage before I reached the next bonfire, and I was a sitting duck on that bridge. Now, I’m a bold man. But sometimes, boldness does not always work out. I make the decision to rush across the bridge, hurrying through before any more bolts hit me. I misjudged the distance, though, due to the aforementioned videogame depth perception issue. A blade hits me, sending me careening off the bridge.

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Urgh, that’s going to put me a long way back.

Next time: Praise the Sun that we finally get to see again!

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7 responses to “Pressing On in Dark Souls

  1. I love Dark Souls but it’s soooo hard – I can’t remember how much I died in Sen’s Fortress just from falling off narrow passages…. Nice blog post 🙂

    • Thanks! I was actually pretty surprised I made it this far into Sen’s Fortress without dying. For whatever reason, I had a much more difficult time with the same traps after this, although those moments probably aren’t going to make it to print. I do have a reputation to protect >.>

  2. Fuuuuuck, what a bummer ending.
    I’m with you on the mimic thing though, they are smart enough to mimic stuff but not smart enough to not get slain with regularity.
    You go, Chosen One!

    • You forgot?!!!!!!!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! 😦

      I can see how you wouldn’t have the time for gaming, lately. Something about becoming a published author probably cuts a bit out of your schedule.

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