Digging Deep in Dark Souls

Last Time on Deftly Dominating Dark Souls, we drained a drowning pool. It wasn’t pleasant.

What do you say we finish up and get out of here as soon as possible?

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Seriously, so many corpses, all over the place. This area’s depressing me. I just want to finish up as soon as possible. I head into this shack up the stairs.

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I spot a darkwraith casually walking forward, into the other side of the shack. I don’t think he’s spotted me. I park myself to the side of the entry way, and wind up for a stronger attack, a powerful forward lunge. It does significantly more damage than my usual slash, but it takes a bit more time to prep for it. It’s not so useful in the midst of combat, but now, when I have the drop on the enemy? The perfect time.

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Well, in other circumstances, it’d be the perfect time. I underestimated him. On two levels. My thrust is not quite enough to kill him in a single blow, but it leaves me way open as I pull my weapon back. Then, he busts out a combo I wouldn’t have guessed he’d have, slashing me for times in the second it takes me to recover from my own attack. Dude is fast. Naturally, that’s more than I can bear, and I fall before him.

So, waaaaay back to the beginning for me.

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Now that the water’s lowered, this guy has a whole new view to check out. I hope he appreciates the variety.

First order of business is getting back to where I died, so I can re-collect the souls I left behind. It shouldn’t be too difficult, but it is a pretty long walk. So, when I find a message near the entrance to the ruins claiming there’s a shortcut, well I’m a little tempted.

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Eh, what the blazes. I hop down onto this structure, then the floor below. This neatly avoids having to run through the whole ghost-infested upper portion of the ruins, at the cost of actually knowing where I am.

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I hear something rummaging through a nearby pool. I poke around a bit, and find this guy. He immediately charges at me, and I back up to a more open location.

Pretty sure that four-hit rapid combo is the fiercest attack these guys have. I’ve already felt its sting, and I have no intention of doing so again. He tries to pull it on me, and I take it all on my shield. It takes most of my stamina, but I hold steady. As he recovers, I jump on the opening and slice him up.

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There’s a little bit of treasure around this pool; souls, invasion items, nothing really worth writing home about. Then there’s this. This looks important. In fact, this looks too important. Like it’s the way you’re actually supposed to go. I’m just trying to track down my lost souls, right now so I leave it be and head up a smaller staircase I find after a bit of exploring to the side.

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This staircase leads up into a small, enclosed space. It’s hard to see in this screenshot, but there’s something in there. A blob of flesh, it seems. It moves, and sends shivers along my skin. This thing is gross. I poke my head in there, and luckily, a darkwraith pops out to distract me from the corpsepile. I draw him down the stairs to fight in a more open area.

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The wraith drops down after me, and immediately starts charging up for something. I try to block it. Bad idea. It’s a grapple attack, and his vice-like hand clamps around my helmet and forces me to the ground.

He holds me down there for a while, seeming like he’s trying to suck something from me, but I don’t seem to have actually lost anything. Still, that crap hurt.

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I pay him back the pain.

Which still leaves the corpseblob blocking my way. I could try to cut it down, but I really, really don’t want to get any of it on me.

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Luckily, that’s why they invented fire.

The explosion draws another darkwraith. He dies without ever laying a hand on me.

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Which leaves me free to burn this abomination down. It gets stuck in the doorway, thank Geezer Zeus. It’s not quite helpless, it launches a number of floating skulls that home in on me and explode when they get close. After I get hit by the first one, I’ve got a decent enough read on their moves that they’re easy to dodge. I keep my distance, and the blob goes down before I run out of fire.

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Coming out the other side of that enclosed space, I emerge on a ledge looking to the side of the gate to the Valley of the Drakes. Not much here, just a path leading to a fog gate built into a tower, but hey! Check that out!

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My souls. I’ve got to find some way to get back there. I don’t think a fog gate is going to take me someplace I’ve already been, so I turn around and head back towards the shallow pool.

I poke around a bit on my way back, and find a lower landing I didn’t notice before. It’s mostly empty, save for a single standing wall over the open water. There’s a thin bridge leading from the other side of the wall, and a darkwraith at the other side. Hmmm…

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I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a fake wall as obvious as that one. The whole point of these is that you can’t see that there’s something on the other side, having one out in the open like this is just pointless. Perhaps it’s something that was in place from before New Londo fell to the Darkwraiths, back when this wall encompassed the whole room?

Anyways, that Darkwraith probably has the most boring guard job I’ve ever seen. I’ll have to relieve him from the monotony. I’m not about to fight him on that precarious bridge, though, so I try to get his attention from afar. An arrow through the lung does the trick.

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He charges, as they are wont to do. I dodge out of the way easily, then we dance around each other for a while. To his credit, he manages to score a single hit against me, clocking me with the first hit of his combo as I seek to take advantage of what I thought was an opening. I recover quickly, and block the rest of his blows. He recovers less quickly. That’s enough of an opening for me.

I pick up a titanite chunk from the chest he was guarding. The darkwraiths have been dropping the same material. It’s good for equipment reinforcement, but I’m not sure if it’s worth enough to be posting a guard on it for centuries.

Going from the shallow pool, I make my way up the staircase on another side. It leads to a large, relatively open space, of which the fog gate is on the other side. It’s rimmed by a number of columns, indicating another passage going around up top, and there are a few shacks, hovels really, clustered around here.

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Also, it has darkwraiths, too. One comes out to greet me. I back out into the pool area. I don’t know what else is in that room, and I don’t want to be drawing too much attention to myself before I’ve cleared the space.

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It’s almost poetic, fighting thigh deep in water. If anyone was around to see, I’m sure they’d agree it adds to the mystery and intrigue of the Best Chosen One. This darkwraith seems stunned by my majesty, and barely puts up a fight.

A skull comes floating my way, before it starts howling. I narrowly roll out of the way as it explodes. Guess I failed in the whole not drawing aggro thing.

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I swiftly rush back up the stairs, and find myself face to face (to face to face to face to face to face to empty skull) with another one of these corpse blobs. I don’t have any fireballs left, so I’m forced to resort to plunging my sword into the mass. I do, over and over, but I’m only chipping away at it’s life. This thing has a lot of health.

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So much, in fact, that even as it’s not able to muster much of an offense, it’s still able to force me back to the entrance. I see it start building up for something, and put some distance between us in preparation. The proves to be exactly the wrong thing, as I roll right into the stream of its own rotten flesh it’s spewing out. A lot of the stuff starts clumping up on me, slowing me down dramatically. Also, ew.

Weighted down, I slowly charge forward and resume the offensive. This stuff burns, and it almost puts me in some serious danger, but luckily, it starts sloughing off shortly after I stick the corpseblob for the last time.

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After I heal, I poke around a bit more. Not a whole lot here, just some humanity, but I do find this darkwraith. Isn’t he cute? He thinks he’s hiding. It just takes two hits, and this guy goes down easily enough.

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I find a staircase in the back that leads up into pathway going around the second level of this space. No enemies up here, but I do find some souls and this ember. This will let me power up my weapons further, assuming I can find a blacksmith that knows how to use it.

And with that, I’ve cleared out all the areas available to me without going through a fog gate. I’ve got a choice to make. There’s two such gates here, at least one of which is sure to lead me somewhere important. I don’t like going to important places when there’s still some messing around to do. The gate by the pool, judging by the way it’s framed, seems to be more important than the one in the tower. So I head to the tower first.

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I pass through the gate in the tower. I immediately turn around. The gate didn’t fade away as I went through it, as most do, and it won’t let me out. Well, crappit. Looks like I made the wrong choice. I’ve got a boss battle ahead of me.

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Following Red Metal’s advice, I put on the Covenant of Artorias. The title of it, ‘covenant’ implies that Artorias made some sort of agreement or deal to get the ability to pass through the abyss. I vaguely wonder if using this to traverse it myself binds me by whatever terms he agreed to, and if there’s going to be some sort of payment for this ability.

Whatever. What I’m I going to do, not save the world and be the Best Chosen One? Right.

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I head down the spiral staircase. It actually goes downwards a fair bit, a lot further than I thought. Probably heads some distance below ground. Once I’ve gone far enough, the staircase… well, it doesn’t seem to end, persay, but it does fade into pure blackness. This does not look inviting. Still, nowhere else for me to go. I steel myself, and take the next step.

There is no next step.

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Nothing but pure darkness. I fall, for longer than actually seems possible but I land safely, somehow, when firm ground finally appears beneath me.

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Everything is swallowed by darkness. I’m alone, save for these messages from the other not-as-great chosen ones. I’m a little shaken, and I take a moment to gather myself. Then I’m not alone anymore.

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One of the four kings of New Londo materializes out of nothing. They who have led their city to ruin with the darkwraiths. They who have invited the Abyss here, and led to New Londo being flooded in order to contain all this nastiness within.

I’m not going to lie, between being dumped into the absolute darkness of the Abyss and having such a powerful foe appear out of nowhere before me, I panic a bit. My mind starts shutting down. I stop thinking, I just charge the King. He fires off a bolt of magic, slow moving but homing in on me. I skirt past in, then continue gaining on him. I spot him readying his sword as I near, and I bring up my shield to meet it. I catch the blow cleanly, but I still take a significant amount of pain from it. It’s a magic sword, and my shield doesn’t do too well against magic.

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He rears back again, then swings his sword horizontally. I roll underneath it, coming up right in his face. I use the opportunity to score some hits on him.

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He responds by releasing a wave of magic, knocking me flat on my back.

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I get up, close the distance, and nail him a few more times. Then he catches me in this grab move, hoisting me up and crushing me in those tendrils. It hurts, quite a bit. I’m not doing well here. I’m still panicking, paying no attention to my defense, doing little more than mindlessly lashing out.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see another King, identical to the first, materialize way too close to me. He begins closing the distance. I frantically swing my blade into this one, as fast as I can. I don’t do well dealing with groups. I’m going to do as much damage as I can before the second one gets within striking, then I’m going to break away and take some time to figure things out.

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I take many hits, but I deal just as many out. And sweet Geezer Zeus, I manage to hit something vital in the first King, and he dies.

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The second King is already upon me, though. Before I can muster an offense, he sweeps me up in the same crushing hold the first King caught me in. The damage proves to be too much for my mortal frame, and like it has a hundred times before, my life flees my body in the face of my enemies.

I rise once more in Firelink Shrine, and make my way down to New Londo again. Now that I know that the gate in the tower leads to the Four Kings, I try the gate by the pool. Turns out, this one just lead behind the area where I died to the darkwraith at the beginning of this entry. I could have easily gotten my souls back, if I had just picked this gate the first time. Blazes.

With that, I have completely explored New Londo. There’s nothing left to do here but take down the Four Kings and recover the Lord’s Soul they possess.

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Once more, I descend the staircase. Once more, I drop into the Abyss. Once more, a King materializes in the distance. All goes much the same as last time. One major difference. I am not panicking. I keep my head. I am calm, collected, and ready to conquer. I charge towards him.

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My shield was next to useless against the King’s magic. I leave it on my back, and use two hands to bring my sword to bear. This gives me half again the power I usually have. My biggest worry right now is having to deal with more than one King at a time. It took a while for the second King to materialize the last time, and I’m wagering it will again. My focus right now is to do as much damage in as short a time span as possible, to kill this King before the next pops up.

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And it works. I take a few hits, mostly from the butt of the King’s massive sword. He’s not able to get the leverage he needs with me so close, however. He does significantly less damage at point blank range than he does a few spans away. The same does not hold true for me. I am far more deadly than he is within an arm’s reach, and I prove it handily.

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It takes some time for the next King to materialize, and sure enough, he does. I charge him. He fires a bolt of magic. I try to skirt around it again, but I misjudge my timing, and it catches me cleanly. I heal up and am upon him before he can capitalize on it. From there, it’s the same strategy as last time. Just focus on bringing the pain.

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And I do.

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I take a solid hit from the sword of the third. Not enough to stop me. I keep an eye out for that energy wave or that grab attack as I launch my furious assault against him. Neither ever come.

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Too bad for him.

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The final King pops out shortly afterwards. He puts up the best fight yet. He’s not able to keep me from getting within the range that so deadly for him, but is able to put some space in a few times as I avoid his grab attacks or am knocked away by his energy waves.  It’s not enough, though.  I’ve got the endurance to withstand his attacks, and the estus to recover.  He doesn’t have enough power in him to keep me away.

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He lets out a scream with my final blow.

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His body violently disintegrates.

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And the Four Kings are no more.

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I hope this brings some peace, or at least some justice, to the lost souls of New Londo.

Next time: Can’t stop progress.

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4 responses to “Digging Deep in Dark Souls

  1. If it wasn’t for the Covenant of Artorias, that wouldn’t have been a soft landing. I certainly found that one out the hard way!

    Anyway, congratulations on defeating the Four Kings! Now only two of the Lord Souls remain.

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