Bringing the Burn in Dark Souls

Last time, on Dealing Death in Dark Souls, I totally took on four ancient evils sealed away for years out of fear for their powers at once, and won without breaking a sweat.  I’m the best!  Send your accolades my way, ‘tis only natural.

After such a magnificent victory, I decided to celebrate in my people’s traditional manner.  That is, just screw around for a while.  Yeah, I come from a pretty laid back culture.

After I beat the four kings, a bonfire popped up in the midst of the Abyss.  I used that to port out, then returned to New Londo for a bit of grinding.  My glorious figure and all these beautiful, beautiful muscles don’t come easy, you know.  I need to do something to keep my shape up, and I can think of nothing better right now than smashing Darkwraiths.  I get a few drops off of them, mostly the usual titanite chunks, but one of them leaves behind something I find very interesting.

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Some kind of magic… hand… thing.  It can apparently steal humanity from others.  Is that what their grab move does?  That’s really nasty!  Well, it would be, if I ever lived long enough to carry a decent store of humanity, but all my repeated failure has a benefit, I guess?

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I mess around with it a bit.  I’m not able to pull off that grapple attack they did, but I am able to conjure up the defensive field they were using.  Not nearly as stable or as protective as my trusty shield, but it was a fun attempt, at least.

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Now that New Londo’s unsealed and the four kings are vanquished, I follow up with this guy.  Remember him?  My former best friend who possibly drowned all the people in this formerly great city?  He compliments me for slaying the four kings, as everyone should be doing, and remarks that now he’s not stuck in New Londo anymore, he’s going to head somewhere he can see the sun.  You know, I’d invite him to Firelink Shrine, but I’m not sure he’s going to fit in there.  We’ve kind of looked down on having mass murderers hanging about since that whole issue with the last guy.

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Last time, I found a Very Large Ember in the ruins.  I’ve been keeping it in my pocket since then, waiting until I run across a blacksmith interested in using it.  Rickert of Vinheim’s too good for embers, in pretty much his own words, so I take it to Andrei, who’s ecstatic at the thought.  This should allow me to further upgrade my equipment with his help.

And hey, while we’re in the area, what do you say if we get some long-deserved revenge?

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The Hellkite Wyvern.  We haven’t seen him in a long, long while.  But I haven’t forgotten.  Outside of Ornstein and Smough, the Capra Demon, and the Black Knight I earned my sword from, this wyvern’s probably killed me more than anyone else.  Early in the game, I’d constantly backtrack here to find out what exactly its hiding, but I’ve always fallen to its instant kill breath attack.  I’m entirely unsure what’s behind it, but at this point, it really doesn’t matter.  I’ve had so many deaths against it, but now I’m grown, stronger, and better equipped.  Let’s see how he likes the new me.  And see if the Dragon Slayer Greatbow can live up to its name.

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Well, that certainly got his attention.  He dropped down for a moment, and I charged, swinging once then ducking to the side as his breath filled the bridge with flames.  He flew overhead, letting me pass by underneath, then we repeated the process.

Even now, his fire breath is overwhelmingly powerful.  He catches me with it once, ending this attempt on his life.  I’m back again within minutes though, and this time, I’m attacking much more aggressively.  His breath weapon is by far his deadliest attack.  There’s nothing to his stomps, or anything else he has going on up close.  I can’t keep him from flying off and blasting his breath again, but I can work to make sure that he regrets it every time he touches down.

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Keep on the pressure long enough and… huh.  With how powerful his fire was, he died a lot faster than I thought he would.

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There’s not really a whole lot behind him.  A small shrine, a bonfire, and not much else.  I open the gate to the side, which leads to the Undead Parish proper.  Really, well-trod ground.  The shrine itself does nothing.

There is a garden to the side.  I find a few hollows in here, who don’t respond to my presence.  I kill them, just in case they’re holding something interesting.  They’re not, but hey, you never know, right?  Not like one more death matters to those empty shells anyways.

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Hey!  I had not expected to find someone I knew here!  Next to that ruined statue, it’s Solaire!  Hey man, I never got the chance to thank you for your help with Ornstein and Smough!  Don’t think I would have been able to get past them and do all the best chosen one stuff without you.

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Solaire’s bummed.  He wasn’t able to ‘find his sun’.  I have no idea what that means, but that’s the whole thing he became undead to pursue.  Which… if he went that far for it, I can see him feeling a little down that it hasn’t happened.

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Oof.  That’s harsh.  But, Solaire, we still haven’t completely plumbed the depths of Lordran.  I don’t quite understand your goal, but until we’ve thoroughly explored this land, isn’t it too early to assume it’s not going to happen?  And hey, I know I have all this best chosen one stuff going on, but if you need help, just let me know.  You were there when I needed you, it’s only fair I return the favor.  And after all, since that one guy turned out to be probably a jerk, you’re the best friend I’ve got.

With that, I’ve gone through most of my loose ends.  So it’s time to get back to business.  Now there are three areas I have left to conquer.  Two of them are underground.  I’m inclined to put those off as much as I can, but I’m sure that if I ended this epic quest by spending ten hours in underground levels, my sanity would not last to the denouement.  So I’m going to leave the above-ground quest for the next adventure.  That still requires me to choose which deep, dark, damned hole I’m going to venture down first.  And luckily, I’ve got some guidance.

I’ve still got two Lord Souls I need to pursue; one with Gravelord Nito, and one with the Witch of Izalith.  Considering that the act of taking their soul from them is usually fatal, I’ve been searching for a reason that these people need to die, so I can internally justify what pretty much amounts to sacrificing others for the world’s sake.  This is a nasty business I find myself in, and I need to find whatever solace I can to get this done.  Nito, I’ve found nothing on yet.  But the Witch?  Well, I stopped in with my pyromancy teacher, Quelana, and she had something very serious to ask.

The Witch of Izalith had a number of daughters.  We’ve already killed one, in fact.  Quelana is the only one to retain both her humanoid form and her mind.  The Witch had tried to use her Lord Soul to duplicate the First Flame, which is, from my gathering, the waning power behind everything fire-based in this world.  Bonfires, the sun, all of it.  She succeeded in making a new flame, but failed in keeping it under control, and, well…

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We’ve come across those two spiderbabes, and I’m sure there’s more of the like yet to come.  We’re going to have to hunt down the Witch of Izalith, at the very least, for her Lord Soul, and I have no idea what sort of form she’s in.  Quelana says that all her family’s been in “anguish”.  Whether physical, mental, spiritual, or some combination, she doesn’t say, but none of my guesses are very pretty.

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And, there it is.  She makes it clear that she means to free them in the most final way possible.

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It is not a pretty business, asking for the demise of your family.  I can only guess that the state they’re in now is something even worse than death.  I set off on this task.

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And I’m pretty sure I know where to go.  I take this tunnel, in the depths of Quelaag’s domain, near where Quelana’s sister, the spidery fire-keeper, makes her dwelling.  The temperature rises rapidly as I near its end.

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It lets me out here.  With a name like that, I’m sure this place will be partytown.  I light the bonfire, and ignore the human hives as I stride past.  They’re begging for something.  I think I know what.  Being used as a maggots nest, that can’t be pleasant.  Freeing them from their plight only releases the maggots to combat me, however, and I’ve got better things to deal with, right now.

I walk down the path toward the lake of magma below.  The two husks down there seem intent on forcing me to take action.  They both crawl forward and attack me.

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If they’re that desperate for death, I shall oblige.  As expected, maggots spill out from both of them as I cut them down, and immediately start attacking me.  They’re hard to hit with my blade in the best of times; on a tilted surface like this, it’s a fool’s effort.  I burn them instead.  Oh, fire.  Is there anything you can’t do?

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The path I’m on takes me past this sight.  I wonder, are these the roots to the Great Hollow, that massive tree that seemed to take me far, far beneath the crust of Lordran?  Is the Ash Lake yet below me?  It probably doesn’t matter, but I still find it interesting, seeing that place from the outside.

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I reach the end of this path, just before the lake of magma.  There’s nowhere for me to go from here.  They’re hard to see with the glow, but in the distance, there’s quite a few beings of some sort.  Undoubtedly enemies.  Which means there must be something worthwhile over there, but I don’t see any good means of getting to it.  And if you think I’m wading across a sea of molten magma just to check it out, then… well, you first.

Unable to figure out where to go next, I turn back, and head towards the bonfire.  Lo, I find a path branching off from the hill downwards, right near where I killed those two husks.  I need to pay more attention.

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The path takes me to this bridge-like thing, and the fog gate beyond it.  I catch a note saying there’s a boss battle ahead.  Already?  This might be a really short area.  I steel myself, then pass through the gate.

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Nothing happens.  There’s nothing here.  I leave my shield up for a good long while, watching for movement, and just… nothing.  Just a path.  Hesitantly, I walk forward.

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Obviously, this area was developed, once.  Those colonnades aren’t here for nothing.  There is absolutely no sign of life now, though.

Seriously, nothing.  I guess I got all worked up for nothing.  I drop my shield, and head up the stairs.  So far, I’ve only had to fight two guys in all me Demon Ruins adventures.  This is going to… be…

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I guess we’ve found that boss.

The clearing before… whatever that is has two paths leading up to it.  I back away, and take the other.  It gives me a clearer bead on this thing.

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It’s not moved a muscle yet.  I don’t plan to let it get the drop on me.  I let loose an arrow, hitting it right in what I believe to be its face.  It doesn’t react.  No obvious pain, no aggression, I don’t think it even noticed.  I fire another arrow, just in case I missed the first one, but nope, no reaction.  Huh.

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Guess I’m going to have to bait it out, then.  Ready to react at his slightest move, I approach.

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Here we are.  Eye-to-eye-to-eye-to-eye-to-eye-to-eye-to-eye.  I walk with slow, measured steps, my gaze never leaving him.  I don’t know what his attacks are.  I have to be ready for anything.  And I am.  Yet he does the one thing I’m not prepared for: nothing.

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Could this be… are we… cool?

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Yeah, we cool.

I continue backing away.  We may be cool, but I can’t say I quite trust this situation.  My rear bumps into something behind me.  Some sort of altar.  There’s a corpse laid on top of it, almost reverently.  The corpse has some goodies on it.  A full set of gold-hemmed robes.  I take them.

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Then he starts moving.  Oh come on, man!

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WE WERE COOL!

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I climb out from under his claws, and start hacking away.  I get a few hits in before he pulls back, and still have time to heal myself.

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Next, he lashes out with some other appendage.  I’m not sure which, given his weird biology, but whatever.  I dodge, then strike away before he can recover.

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I block the third hit, but it still knocks me away.  It does a lot of damage, but as I stand again, I start to realize.  He can’t beat me.  He’s strong, overwhelmingly so, but very, very slow.  I can get hit, chug some estus to recover, and score a few hits in the time it takes him to pull his arm back.

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Once I realize that, I start to feel sorry for him.  I wonder if he’s figured the same thing out.  I wonder if he’s even able to.

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It’s a moot point, as he doesn’t even touch me for the rest of the encounter.

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We could have been cool.  Why weren’t we cool?

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As he dies, I notice something odd happening below.  His body heat must really be something, because after he fades, the magma starts hardening.

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Not all of it.  We need something for ambience, after all.  But not being able to find a path onwards, down below?  I don’t think I need to worry about that anymore.

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Now that I don’t have the boss breathing down my neck, I can take a look at the equipment I just picked up.  It looks familiar.  Very familiar.  I just saw this recently.  This is the gear Quelana was wearing.  Exactly the same design.

Wait a second.

The Ceaseless Discharge, and it’s been very hard not to crack jokes at that name, was completely fine with me until I messed with the corpse that was wearing these.  The corpse that had been placed, seemingly with great care, on that altar.  It cared, more than anything else, about the corpse wearing the same clothes as Quelana.

Well, teacher, I think I’ve fulfilled the first part of your request to free your sisters.

Next time: Someplace that’s as hot as I am.

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6 responses to “Bringing the Burn in Dark Souls

    • If you can handle Bloodborne, you can probably handle Dark Souls. And I’ve been enjoying it. I’d say giving it another go may be a good idea.

  1. I might as well reveal that the Egg Carriers perform their roles 100% willingly; what with Quelaag’s sister having laid the eggs, it’s not as though she was in any state to implant them into people by force. As a matter of fact, these people were formerly the denizens of Blighttown, who were terminally poisoned by the toxins that formed in the swamp after the Witch of Izalith’s attempt to replicate the First Flame ended in cataclysm.

    Quelaag and her sister, newly fused to the bodies of demonic spiders, only just escaped to Blighttown from the chaos that subsequently engulfed Izalith. Quelaag turned her back on the suffering people, but her sister pitied them so much that, against Quelaag’s direct orders, she went to each of them and sucked the deadly Blightpus from their bodies.

    Now she has only the strength left to slowly wither away. Quelaag spends her every waking moment guarding the entrance to the ruined city, preying upon rogue adventurers in the desperate hope that the Humanity they bear might be enough to cure her beloved sister. And the Blighttown refugees-turned-Egg Carriers pray not for death, but for some miracle that may save the life of their Fair Lady as she saved theirs.

    At least, until you waltzed in and started murdering them all.

    Tune in on six PM this Sunday for the next episode of “You Bastard.”

    • Oh… Don’t I feel like an asshole. I killed her one hope for a cure, then slew her followers, all the while I’ve been benefiting from her conveniently-placed bonfire. She’s one of the few good people left in this land, and I’ve been doing her wrong.

      On the other hand; eww, bugs. I’m sure the karma of killing them balances out.

      That is some really interesting lore. I didn’t pick up on any of that.

      • Nor would you have, unless you somehow thought to trade in the Sunlight Maggot you got in your latest update to Snuggly the Crow in exchange for the Old Witch’s Ring that lets you understand the Fair Lady’s language, joined her Chaos Servant covenant (which is the same one that would have let you open the giant door to the right of the Demon Firesage’s boss fog), and spoken to Eingyi after having gained his trust by becoming an Egg Carrier yourself (which is not done through the covenant).

        …Yyyeah, this is one of those instances where Dark Souls having one of the best stories of any video game directly brushes up against the overly obscure way that it’s presented. Hence why I felt okay about revealing it all here. And there’s part of the story of the Quelaag sisters I left out, in case you happen to chance upon part of it somewhere in Lost Izalith.

      • I don’t think I came across any such lore in Lost Izalith, although I might have just been too dense to notice it the first time and may pick it up as I write things out. I think that’s one of the benefits of storytelling in the internet era, that you can have such an opaque plot and get away with it, as your audience can still get tipped off to things in online discussions even if they missed it while actually going through. The delivery’s not as great as if you experienced it firsthand, sure, but it allows for a lot of the reward of exploration that makes Dark Souls’ plot what it is.

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