Dark Souls and Dragons

Last time, in Escape from Anor Londo, our sins finally caught up to us. What sins, I don’t know, because all those guys totally deserved it, and I’m sure there’s a statute of limitations on these things, but still, we had to do some hard time in the big house. Not a whole lot of hard time, though. We broke out within our first few minutes. And I totally shanked a guy! Did you see that?! In all my video game career, I’ve broken out of prison hundreds of times, but I never just straight up shanked anybody. I almost want to get thrown back in so I can do it again!

But we can do that later. Right now, there’s a dragon I’ve finally found a reason to be pissed off with, and I’m going to see if I can’t take it out on his hide.

So last time, we had opened up a staircase down into some sort of workshop, but never really explored beyond it. This time around, I do so, passing through the fog gate and ending up in…

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a forest? Outside the archives? Can’t say I was expecting that. I take the ladder down, then press on for a few steps.

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I quickly draw the attention of a crystal golem, who slowly lumbers towards me. No big deal, I’ve already handled dozens of his kind. I hold back, and wait for him to come to me. Maybe if I’m fast enough, I’ll be able to carve him up like an ice sculpture before his corpse fades away. This is going to be simple.

At least, that’s what I think. I dodge backwards as he leaps towards me, then find myself right before another golem that was sneaking up on me. I dodge away once more as the second one raises his arms, and narrowly avoid the field of crystal he creates.

That’s the thing about Dark Souls combat. Fighting two enemies is exponentially more difficult and complex than fighting one. They tend to be able to really cover for each other, staggering the timing of their attacks and making it really unsafe to strike. I’ve learned to avoid fighting multiple foes as much as I can, and most of my current fighting style is built around drawing enemies out one by one. Taking on two at once presents problems for me.

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Well, most of the time it does. Here, though? They’re slow, I’m well versed in their moves, and I’m patient. I pick my moments, strike and dodge, and focus on wearing one down at a time. They never even touch me before they shatter.

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Looking around, there are crystal golems all over the place. I spot a gold one near the center of the forest here. I’ve only faced a golden golem once before, when I freed Dusk of Oolacile from it in the Darkroot basin. Does this one hold another captured being? I’ll have to crush it and find out.

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First, though, I’ve got to clear some space. If I remember right, the golden crystal golems are a fair bit stronger than the store brand, and I’m don’t want to be inviting any more of them to our dance.

With that one down, I take a quick survey over the area. There are a few more crystal golems in sight, but I don’t think I’m even close to reaching any of their spheres of aggression. Ok then.

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C’mon, big boy. It’s go time.

The golden golem is larger, stronger, and tougher than the garden-variety crystal golems. He uses the same moveset as them, though. No surprises in store there. As long as I can keep reading his moves well enough, he may last longer but he’s no more challenge than the vanilla version.

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And, of course, when I put those words out there, I’m going to eat them. I get him to within two hits of dying, then, in a moment of mistimed aggression, try to interrupt his attacks with one of my own. I strike him first, but not hard enough to stagger him, and he clocks me. Seriously, one punch did most of my life in damage and sent me flying back. Not enough to kill though, and he’s pretty slow, so I had enough time to swig some estus and rejoin the melee. This time, with him on his last sliver of life, I don’t need to play so cautious. I smack him one as he’s rearing up for an attack, and that’s all that’s needed.

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Much as I expected, the golden crystal golem held someone trapped inside. I wasn’t expecting to see such a familiar figure, though. Siegmeyer, that’s what, the fourth time I’ve had to save you? Are you sure you’re really up…

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Siegmeyer, you sound a lot… prettier than I remember.

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Oh! Well! I guess that explains it. Siegmeyer’s daughter, actually. She’s been trying to track him down, but got caught up by that golem in some way that she doesn’t remember. I mention that I’ve been seeing him around, and that seems to pick her spirits up. She resolves to head off after him. In the meantime, I’ve got a dragon to punish so I break away as well.

There are quite a few crystal golems in the area. Most of them seem to be guarding corpses. I hope you don’t mind if I skip over these. There’s only so many ways I can say “I dashed another one harder than the fist of an angry god” before it starts to get a little dull. Rest assured, I am awesome, and none of them even came close to scratching my armor. I found a bit of treasure, mostly titanite, although I did also pick up a full set of crystallized armor, the same type that the warrior in the tower before I fought Seath was wearing.

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Eventually, I started to run out of opponents. I moved closer to the edge of the forest, where the earth started to give way to a mass of solid crystal. I’m guessing that this is where all of these golems spawned from.

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I find a path leading downward. I follow it, and descend into a cave built of massive crystals. If I’m going to find Seath anywhere, I’d bet it’ll be here. The facet of the crystal below me is slightly tilted, and overlooks a staggering drop. I’m starting to feel a bit of vertigo here. A crystal golem rises to meet me. Despite my precarious footing, he poses no challenge.

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Here’s something I didn’t never thought I’d see. A note, left by another chosen one, claims I’m right by a hidden path. Next to that, another note is etched into the thin air. Beyond, I see small flakes of crystal fall and shatter against the nothingness, as if there was firm ground there. I’m… not sure exactly what I’m seeing here. Hesitantly, I step forward, placing my foot onto the air on which the note is nested. Surprisingly, I find purchase, and it holds my weight. I take a step. The air holds me, as if it were as solid as the crystal. An invisible walkway. Clever. I walk across what seems to be nothing, and find a bit of humanity at the end. Then, it’s back to the path, and back to my quest.

The crystal leads downwards a long way. I spy something… well, something frankly beautiful in the distance. Is that a moonlight butterfly? Like, the only boss I was able to kill on my first try after I left the asylum?

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Sure looks like it. Surprisingly, even with me this close, it does nothing in reaction to my presence. I leave it alone.

Urgh, man, if I didn’t find the invisible pathway before, the thought of what I have to do here would probably blow my mind. Even now, I’m really uncomfortable stepping out onto what looks like thin air.

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It holds, though, and I make the long walk across to the next crystal.

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And of course things couldn’t be easy. There’s another one of the crystal golems here. This one’s blue, but he’s about the size of the golden crystal golems. I’m going to bet that he’s at least as tough.2015-01-26_00069

And, yep, he certainly can take a beating. I learn early on to dodge, rather than block, his blows. I can completely absorb the damage, but it still sends me careening a fair ways, dangerous on such narrow footing. Getting around him is challenging as well. I can’t kill him before I run out of room, before he pushes me back far enough that I lose the space to move. I have to slide around him while he’s distracted with an attack a few times this battle. Still, being very, very careful with my footwork and keeping a close eye on his tells, I’m able to slowly wear him down, and win simply through outlasting him.

Another series of mid-air messages clues me onto another invisible walkway branching off of this crystal. It leads downward to yet another crystal bridge with yet another large golem at the end of it, this time guarding some treasure.

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Everything’s exactly the same as the last time, except for one thing. The ground’s significantly more sloped here. I join the battle with him, rolling back after his attack then rushing forward swinging my blade. I’m the only one doing damage, yet still, he’s constantly pushing me back. I have to slip by him, to get some more room to maneuver. As he rears back for an attack, I sense my opening, and roll to his side. A little to far to his side. I end up on the wrong facet of the crystal, and manically try to run back as my feet slip beneath me. It’s all for naught, however, as I can’t regain solid footing, and fall through the air below. Unfortunately, there’s no invisible path to catch me this time.

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Of course, nothing so insignificant as death is going to hold me down. I make my way back down there, and join the battle with the golem again. I engage him in melee for a while, then, once he’s sufficiently winded, back off a bit. I notice something. He can’t do his big leaping attacks on this crystal, likely for fear of falling off. I take advantage of that, and simply burn him from afar. This proves too much for him, and he falls.

And from there… well, frankly, I get lost for a little while. Where I need to be headed next isn’t exactly obvious. The only path leading off from this last crystal bridge is the one leading up to the previous one. I poke around this area for a while, then just head back. I was needing to make an stop for some errands back at Firelink, and I’d been told I needed to do some more preparations prior to fighting Seath. This seemed like as good a time as any, so I made it back to the previous bonfire, then ‘ported from there back to the closest thing I had to a home.

There, I upgraded my Estus Flask with the firekeeper soul I picked up last entry, prepared my super-sweet anti-crystal dragon secret weapon that I’m going to reveal dramatically a few paragraphs down, and otherwise refreshed myself. And hey! Lo and behold, a familiar face is at the shrine!

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Sieglinde, the younger, more feminine onion-armored knight. She asks after her father again, and I fill her in on what I know of his whereabouts. Hey, Sieglinde, while you were here, I was just thinking. I mean you’re on a quest, I’m on a quest, wouldn’t it be pretty cool if we quested together in some fun, dating-type way? I was wondering if you’d be up for that.

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Oh.

Well, I have a bunch of super-cool dragon slaying stuff to do anyways. Did I tell you about that? Yeah. That’s what I do. I slay dragons.

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I run my errands, then it’s back to the crystal cave. After poking around there for a bit longer, I find the route through. It’s at the end of the crystal the first giant golem was on. It turns out the clumps at the end of it, which I thought were impassable, were not so much.

There’s not an obvious way to go on from here, although the clashing sounds of falling crystal alert me that there’s an invisible pathway nearby. Still, it takes me a bit of searching before I find it.

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Off the edge. It’s not enough that I have to walk with what appears to be complete and total nothingness beneath me, but I have to fall to it as well? I’ve got a confession to make. I’m not great with heights. I don’t like them. They don’t really scare me, nothing really does any more on account of I can’t frikken’ die, but I’d still rather not have to deal with them. They make my legs feel all weird and my brain go sideways. So I really don’t want to try this drop, just hoping that something I can’t see is going to be there to catch me. I’m not happy about it. At this point, I really start thinking that it might be worthwhile to just give it up and go home for a while.

On the other hand, that dragon really pissed me off. Hup.

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This path is long. Longer than any I’ve been on yet. I don’t have the helpful messages the other players have left this time around, so I drop a few of these prison stones ahead of me, to make sure the path is still there in parts. Eventually, I come across this bloodstain, which shows me the ghostly remnants of someone who nearly walked all the way across but fell off right at the end. Sucks for him, but that was really helpful to me. It showed me exactly where the path was, and what heading I really needed to be on.

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I reach the end of the invisible path, and find myself in this large, open area. This is the most open area I’ve seen since I entered the crystal cave. It feels really weird having flat ground beneath me. Of course, in Lordran, nothing good comes without some sort of price attached to it. This probably means I’ve got some sort of scrap ahead of me.

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And yep, I was right. Although I have to say, I wasn’t expecting the deathclams from the blasted bowels of the earth to show up here. There’s a lot of them here, too. Well, I shouldn’t complain. They drop plenty of curse-negating purging stones, which, from what I’ve heard of Seath, I’m likely to need. Also, an enemy I’ve already faced means I don’t need to spend the time with learning to fight them.

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I fight it out. I try to draw them to me one by one. When successful, it’s a pretty simple matter to just keep my defenses on point and make my strike when I can find an opening. They fall easily enough. A few times, I get too close, and end up aggro-ing two at once. As previously discussed, that’s a little more difficult. These guys are very, very slow to move, though, and their attacks are very easy to dodge. In these instances, I end up circling around them until they’re relatively in the same place, and make my attack then, trying to do enough damage to stagger them both before they can return the favor. I take a few hits in the process, but even against this many foes, I’m easily able to outlast them all.

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In the next room over, I’ve been seeing a lot of these figures popping in and out of the fog. At first I thought it was just some sort of graphical glitch, my video card having some problem with the transparent fog and rendering some weird, random polygons as a result. As I reach this point, though, I started to make out features, and realized what they were. These are the petrified corpses left behind when someone gets cursed. Which means a lot of people have been getting cursed there. Which means there’s a very powerful enemy with cursing ability there. Which means we’ve found our next boss battle. They tried to trick me by neglecting to place a fog gate there, but obviously, I’m just too sharp for them.

So, video game reviewer and editorializer Red Metal, in the comments to the last post, had warned me about Seath and his high cursability. Curse is a particularly nasty status effect that not only kills you instantly, but halves your health until you get it taken care of. So you can see how we’d want to do something to mitigate that. Red Metal recommended that I take a rare ring of sacrifice or a cursebite ring into battle. Both of which are very solid suggestions, but I had concerns about them. The rare ring of sacrifice would keep the curse from keeping hold, but supplies of it are limited and it does nothing about the whole instant death thing. The cursebite ring would be perfect, boosting my resistances to curses, except for the fact that it’s way off in New Londo. Which is not a bad thing, save for the fact that I’m doing a blind playthrough and haven’t visited there yet. I feel like I owe it to make sure all my first impressions are documented, but doing so with a break to New Londo right here would seriously interrupt the flow. I had to think about this.

Thanks to Red Metal’s tip, I knew exactly the sort of danger Seath posed, but I still needed to figure out what I could do about it. That cursebite ring did seem like the most attractive option, but I wanted to see if there might be any other available to me before I put this on hold and trekked all the way there. So, between last post and this, I spend some time in contemplation. I was looking over the equipment I currently possessed, when I saw something that really struck me. Something that handled all the problems I had perfectly. Something that made me feel pretty. I had found my secret weapon. I had found just what I needed to make Seath spend the rest of his very short and miserable life regretting that he hadn’t killed me harder when he had the chance. I found women’s clothes.

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Just look at that. Finally, I look as elegant as I feel! These are Anastacia of Astora’s clothes, specifically, which we picked off the Firelink Shrine firekeeper’s corpse after Lautrec of Carim had killed her. Somehow, she was still wearing them when I revived her, but they’ve never left my collection. And look at them. Sure, the colors may be drab, the fabric rough, the dress… bloodstained, but there’s still an inherent delicacy to them. Just like me. And they are remarkably good at protecting against curses. Not so good at defending against physical attacks, so I had the giant blacksmith of Anor Londo pound titanite into them until they got better. Still not as good at absorbing hits as the silver knight set I’ve been wearing, but the lighter weight makes me considerably faster and I’ll be able to withstand the influence of his curse spells longer.

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Also, I look so gorgeous in them. And that makes me happy.

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I spy something at the other end of the room. It looks quite delicate. The way it’s placed, it seems important. As I approach, the ground starts shaking.

I turn around, and spy something large and white in a controlled fall towards me.

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Seath.

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I’m looking forward to this.

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You’ve killed me once. I’ve had to deal with your channelers hunting me down all game. You held me captive for your sick experiments. And you’ve twisted all those other people into such unnatural forms. You’ve had this coming for a long time, Seath.

I immediately charge forward, and roll behind him, heading for his tail. Well, the tail behind him. It looks like Seath’s been experimenting on himself as well. He had to be, to have lived this long without the scales of immortality. His lower body was buried in crystal when last we fought, but now, I can see it clearly, and it is grotesque. He’s got a mass of flesh with three tails/tentacles branching off of it, which seem to be his only means of locomotion. Anyways, I head to the rear tail first, because as I know dragons, you can generally cut off their tails and get a nice weapon out of it, and the rear one seems most likely to give that reward. There’s only one problem.

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I slice, and I slice, but his wounds regenerate as soon as I inflict them.

He starts thrashing his tails around. My clothes may be nice and fancy, but they don’t take physical hits well. I get crushed underneath him.

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Second time through! I need to do something about him regenerating before I can start the battle proper. The crystal seemed important, so I figured hey. Might as well try smashing it. So I do. And it was satisfying. More importantly, Seath seems to be positively in pain when I do so.

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That seems like a good start, but I’m not satisfied yet. So I inflict a bit more. I cut into his tail quite a bit, but it remains frustratingly attached to his body.

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I had changed back into my normal armor to deal with the enemies outside his room, and forgot to put on my dress to fight the dragon. Here, you can see what it cost me. So Seath has his crystal breath. This causes a bunch of crystal spikes to rise from the ground, doing a bunch of damage if they initially hit me then leeching a small amount of health and building up the curse as I stay within them. Here’s how much of that curse I can resist. That bar fills up in less than a second. If it hits the top, it’s all over. In this case, I barely escape in time to hold onto my life.

After that, I head right back to his tail. Just before I get there, though, he starts thrashing about again. His tail slaps me twice, with no time for me to chug some estus in between, and I’m done.

The third time, I remember to wear the right clothes, head to his tail again, and find myself killed in just the same way. Getting killed three times in a row by the same move? That’s a pretty solid sign I’m doing something wrong. And I’ve noticed that his moves are pretty predictable. He only does his crystal breath when I’m in front of him, and only does his tail thrash when I’m to his rear. The crystal breath is strong, but it takes him a while to fire it, and I can easily heal myself between sprays. With my curse-resistant dress, I’m pretty sure I could easily weather that attack.

That poses me with a problem. If I give up going after his tail, I’m probably missing out on what could be a wicked sweet weapon. On the other hand, these repeated losses aren’t doing my pride any good. And if there’s one thing an extremely sexy world’s best chosen one has, it’s pride.

I could keep running my head into a wall, trying to get a weapon out of his tail, but honestly, I’d rather not spend the time on something I may never actually use, as much as I do love treasure. No, Seath has hell to pay, and I’m here to make sure they collect.

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Step one is to shatter that crystal keeping him alive. The way Seath reacts, that must really sting. Good.

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Step two is to cut, and slice, and slash, and never ever stop until there’s only one immortal being left in here

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I was absolutely right. The only weapon he has from the front is his crystal breath, and with my gear, that’s absolutely nothing to worry about.

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Look at how much larger my resistance is. It takes several seconds for the curse to overtake me. More than long enough for me to leave the crystal field.

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You see, Seath? You have nothing that can stop me. For all your might, all your genius, and all your experience, you are nothing more than the wretched shell of a dragon that royally pissed the wrong undead. My only regret is that your death is going to be so quick.

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WHO’S A PRETTY PRINCESS?!

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I’M A PRETTY PRINCESS!

Next time: We never speak of this again.

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7 responses to “Dark Souls and Dragons

  1. That’s what I love about Dark Souls; there are so many ways to tackle your problems. Now, if only the Lens of Truth were available for that last area…

    I’ve seen some playthroughs where those clams intruded on the boss fight; the lack of a fog wall can really trip players up if they’re not expecting it. I can see why you didn’t use a rare ring of sacrifice. When I played through the game, I found that I never actually wore one when I needed it. It doesn’t help that they only function as a safety net at the expense of foregoing a ring that could actually boost your stats.

    I’m glad my advice helped. It’ll be interesting to see which Lord Soul you decide to go after next!

    • Didn’t make it into the post, but one of the invisible paths I gound on the way up actually has a corner in it! Those dastards!

      Luckily, I have a habit of not leaving a single living thing behind me, so there weren’t any clams to interfere until after I had already lost once and the fog gate showed up, but yeah, I can see where people would have a problem with that. If you hadn’t told me Seath curses you, I don’t think I’d have recognized all those corpse statues for what they were, and would have just sauntered in there unaware I had a boss about to drop on my head.

      And thank you very much for your advice! I’m interested in which Lord Soul I go after next, myself. Haven’t quite picked it out yet.

      • Ahh, so that’s why the dating proposal didn’t lead anywhere; you’re the one who turned Sieglinde down instead of the other way around, because you needed time to yourself. Mmmmhm.

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