Double Dipping in Dark Souls

Last time, on Losing It in Dark Souls, we managed not to make the crass joke that was begging to be told.  Seriously, that took some willpower.  We also lowered the lava level in the Demon Ruins, allowing us to progress onwards towards the whole saving the world thing.  I’m sure that’s worth something, too.

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With the Ceaseless Discharge (hehe) gone, this is what the landscape before me looks like now.  Considering this was flooded in molten magma just minutes ago, the stone underfoot should be hot enough to cook me all the way through in the stockpot that is my armor.  I’ve never let something so minor as the laws of physics keep me down.  I stride onwards, down the hill, and find myself faced with a choice of two paths when I reach the bottom.

The path to my right has something shiny on it, but it looks suspiciously like the way I’m supposed to go.  The path to the left has at least seven big hulking monstrosities on it, who are more than ready to turn me into some sort of ugly paste.

Eh, but who wants to go the way you’re supposed to?  There’s adventure to be had!  I arrow the nearest one.  It doesn’t do any damage, but it draws the monster’s attention.  The beast charges.

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Hey, I recognize you.  It’s the Taurus Demon, from way back in the Undead Burg!  My eyes dart around rapidly as he approaches, but nope, there’s no easily accessible ledge to abuse this time around.  A pity.  I’ve absolutely no experience in fighting these guys fair.

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Luckily, I’ve grown considerably stronger than I was the first time I faced these.  Two hits puts it in critical condition.  The demon clocks me with that great axe of his once in the meantime, though, and sends me flying.  Dude’s strong.  Still, he’s slow, and his tells are long.  I easily duck around his blows and put him down with a third strike.

After that, I feather another, and start the whole process over again.

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Obviously, it’d be suicide to charge them all together.  More than one, maybe two, at a time, I’d be minced.  Luckily they’re not very smart.

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Strong, yes.  Intimidating, maybe the first one.  But their grasp of tactics is minimal.

This turns it into a battle of attrition.  Their numbers against my estus.  I take a few hits here and there, but it’s still decidedly in my favor.

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The second to last one is even kind enough to leave his weapon behind.  I’ll need to give that a try, sometime.

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I charge the final one, ready for our climactic battle.  He hits me once, dealing damage through my shield.  Not nearly enough, though, and I put him down as easily as the rest.

For my efforts, I get… nothing.  Well, nothing yet.  There’s two treasures, they were guarding.  Both of them are on corpses in the middle of the lava.  People who had fallen here, gotten shoved into the molten sea, or just walked out to try and pick up treasure and died.  I’m not in a hurry to follow them.  A note left on the ground by a Best Chosen One aspirant states I’ll need a ring to reach them.  I decide to believe it for now, and leave these baubles behind.

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Backtracking, then heading down the other path, I find myself here.  A shiny that will be mine.  First, though, I spot some movement ahead, some figure running towards me, some… oh no.

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A Capra Demon.  A freakin’ Capra Demon!  I still have nightmares of the last one I fought.  Until Ornstein and Smough, that was the most difficult boss I had to deal with.  And here, it turns out that one was just one of many.  Blazes, I don’t even know if I’m able to handle this now.

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I dodge his initial thrust, catch the second on my shield.  Last time, the key to victory turned out to be just holding the line.  Don’t try to dodge, just block, and wait for my opening.  I remember that well.  But still, I’m scared.  Memories of that last one’s ferocity are still fresh in my mind.

I slip by another slash of his, set my blade into his ribs, and… what?  Is that it?

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I think I’ve grown stronger.  This one doesn’t seem as durable as the one I fought in the Undead Burg, either.  That certainly helps.  You know, if the Undead Burg demon was just an unusually strong version of this species, I think I may do all right.  I breathe a sigh of relief.

Oh yeah, the treasure was just some souls.  If you care.

Along the path the Capra Demon came from, I find a set of ruins, with a walkway leading along the upper level.

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A walkway filled with Capra Demons.  Jeez.  A few minutes ago, I probably would have panicked at the sight.  Now that I’ve had a chance to cleanly beat one, I’m feeling a little more confident.  It’s a wonder what such a simple thing as conquering your fears can do.  I feather the first demon a few times.  It hits for a little bit of damage, and he turns to look at me, but otherwise doesn’t react.

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At least, not until I draw nearer.  I block his strike, and respond in kind.

He expires after a few seconds of battle.  Yeah, I really don’t think I have anything to worry about here.

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Stronger I may be, but I’m still not willing to take them on in groups if I can help it.  The first I take on in melee combat.  The second, just for the hell of it, I keep pumping arrows into, seeing if any amount can make him react.

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I single-handedly start him on an arrowhead collection, but he still doesn’t advance until he dies.

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The third never even touches me before I cut him down.

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The fourth, we’ve finally got some space to play with.  I rush forward to meet him.  He welcomes me with blades.  He’s actually able to score a hit on me and drive me back.  I quickly recover, then return to the fight.  I dodge out of the way of his next strike, and two blows later, he falls.

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Beyond the Capra Demons, I find a staircase leading down.  I begin taking it, then find this bug-ugly floating statue heading in my direction.  I put some space in between us just in time for that gout of flame to hit the space I just stood.

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I rush forward when the air clears, then begin circling around it, shield raised as the statue rears back for another breath.  I feel the burn through my shield as the flames hit it, but it protects me enough to allow me to duck out of the way and counterstrike.  Whatever life the statue had flees it as my blade cuts through the stone.

I find a corpse with some souls on it just before what looks to be a petrified centipede, pinned to the wall.  Looks to be quite the battle we missed out on.

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Next to that is this short hallway.  A giant centipede lays in wait at the end, perhaps kin to the petrified one on the wall.  Two of those dragon statues lay motionless on pedestals to the side.  I feather both of them, but they don’t react at all.  Guess those really are just statues.  That just leaves the bug to deal with.  I’m… not really a fan of bugs.

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And I’d really rather not get close to it if I don’t have to.  So I just burn it instead.  The stench is awful, but this way lets me kill it without it ever touches me.  It takes all the flame I have in me to bring it down, but that bonfire I spy under the demon lets me do so without regrets.  I’ll top off my tank in just a moment anyways.

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From the landing that holds the bonfire, I get another glimpse of the petrified centipede.  Or what I thought was the centipede.  Eesh.  I am glad I don’t live down here.

I head back a bit, then find a large staircase leading down.  The stairway is filled with those dragon statues.  They’re slow and weak, but I still don’t want to get caught in their crossfire.

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Luckily, I figure out a means of sorts of handling them.  I circle around this one as it rears back, and easily step aside as it locks its motion and breathes fire.  This opens it up to an easy counterhit.  Nice and simple.

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I take care of all four of them that way, then set my gaze over the path in front of me.  There’s one small path to the left at the base of the stairs, a fog gate ahead of me, and a bit of shinies to the right.  The Taurus Demon at center stage charges me as soon as I take a step forward.

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I remember fighting this guy in the Undead Burg.  I remember the fear I had then, the hesitancy.  If only the me then could see what I can do now.

Another of those centipedes pop up to my right as I reach the bottom of the stairs, bursting out of the stone.  I arrow it to death.  It never really does anything.  I wonder what the point of that was.

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I head up to the open area to the right, and face down the Capra Demon resting there.  He comes out swing, both blades converging towards my head.  I deftly dodge to the side, then take advantage of the opening, cutting him twice.  I pick up the treasure from the corpse as his body fades.  More souls.  I’m getting kind of tired of this.  Don’t get me wrong, souls are nice, but man, do these ruins have some boring treasure.

The fog gate is obviously the way I’m supposed to be heading.  You know my standard operating procedure in these cases.  I head down the path to the left of the stairs.

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And find another Taurus Demon blocking my way.  After I killed seven of them in a row, these encounters have grown kind of rote.  Easy.  I know all their moves, so they’re no threat to me.  Usually.  This proves to be a different matter, though.  See, these Taurus Demons are so strong, even a blocked his still sends me skidding a fair bit.  With the path so narrow, with so precarious a drop off to my left, even a blocked blow could be fatal.

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So I just hug the wall to my right, and kill the two Taurus Demons standing sentinel over this path.  That wasn’t even hard to figure out.

The small pathway leads to a long, wide, walkway in the ruins.  It seems empty, at first.  A note on the floor alerts me there’s a bug lying in wait, though.

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And sure enough, one bursts out from the ceiling after I walk down the hallway.  This time around, I elect to take the centipede on in melee.  It takes some timing.  The bug likes to thrash around violently after each hit.  Still, with some careful dodging and hit-and-run technique, I manage to wear it down.

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I walk on a bit longer, satisfied that there’s one less giant demon bug infesting this world.  I barely notice the two bugs lunging down from above ahead of me, and almost walk right into their maws.  Just in time, I break off, then run backwards in order to put some space in between us.

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…right into the gob of one of the two centipedes that slipped behind me.   GRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!

Have I mentioned that I hate bugs?  Urgh.  I break free of that one’s maw, then I slip behind them, out of that ambush I found myself in.  Thanks to them having half their body buried they’re unable to pursue.

That leaves the first one helpless as I first burn, then arrow him from afar.

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The second looks to be more aware.  I take him on with my sword, but he has the annoying habit of circling around to attack just as I approach.  It takes some careful dodging, but with a bit of hit and run, I cut him down without him ever getting his claws on me.

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The third I just burn to death, again.  Lighting a helpless enemy on fire is surprisingly satisfying.

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The fourth and final, I’ve exhausted my pyromancy, so I just stick to melee combat again.  He’s got a few more attack options from the front, so I have to be more careful.  I establish a pattern of making a leaping strike forward, then dodging back from the chomp, venom spit, or thrash that follows.  Still, he goes down quickly enough again without touching me.  Outside of running right into their mouths as they first ambushed me, I managed to get through this encounter without a scratch.

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Beyond is a chest and a dead end.  Inside the chest is this ember, affording me more crafting options with my gear.

With the rest of the area suitably scoured, I head back towards the fog gate and whatever horrors inevitably lie beyond.  Before I step through, I find one more thing to waylay progress here.  A hole in the wall, with a thick root providing a path downwards.  Well, I have to know where this leads.

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It takes me down into this long, wide hallway below with those massive doors at the end.  I find a mass of souls on the ledge on the other side, then continue heading downwards.

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One end of the hallway is completely choked off by roots.  I head towards the door on the other end.  There’s a few bugs about the size of my foot that skitter away as I approach.  I kill them, even though they seem to pose no trouble, just on principle.  I can’t do anything with that door.  There’s no switch, knob, or mechanism on this side I can work to get it open.  A note on the floor mentions that I need a covenant to get it open.  Apparently, I hang out with the wrong crowd.  Whatever.  Not able to get it open, I head back upwards.

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And there’s nothing left to do but head through this fog gate.  I’m guessing boss fight on the other side.

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Hey!  I love it when I’m right!

This Demon Firesage may look familiar to you.  There’s good reason for this.  Aside from all the fire, he looks much the same as the Asylum Demon and Stray Demon from the Northern Undead Asylum.  He has the same moves as the Stray Demon, too.  Both his long-range and short-range shockwaves, butt stomp, and axe strikes, I’ve seen them all before.  They’re scaled up here, but no harder to defend against than they were then.

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So this is a really simple fight.  Admittedly, I do die a few times, but those are all because of stupid mistakes on my own part rather than being unable to keep up on the defense.  Flicking the stick the wrong way and rolling right into his attack, misjudging the range and timing of his shockwave, that sort of thing.

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When I’m on point, he does not have an attack I cannot respond to.

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Every blast, blocked.  Every strike, dodged.  And my blade, always flying.  Of course he can’t stand up to such an assault.

I score some humanity and a demon catalyst for magic out of the deal.  The way forward is now open.

Beyond the Firesage’s chamber is a stairway, leading both up and down.  The way down visibly leads to a fog gate, while the path up is filled with dragon statues.  I head towards the sky, cutting my way through statues as I go.

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There are quite a few of them.  Luckily, I’ve grown quite skilled at slipping past them and bringing the pain.

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At the end, I run into a group of three of them.  They’re the first thing this stairway that gives me pause.

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But not for long.

Beyond, I find a soul item, yet again.  A stairway leading up branches up from here.

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The stairway is lined by these statues.  I fire an arrow into one of their heads, discovering that these are the good, don’t-try-to-kill-you type of statues.  The world really needs more of those, I think.

Up the staircase is a landing with a circular platform on it.  I step on the platform and it rises, heading upwards until it ends up in Quelaag’s Domain, right before the spidery firekeeper.  A convenient shortcut.  I take the opportunity to restock on Estus, then head back down.

I take that staircase all the way down this time, descending even below the Firesage’s lair.  It leads to another bonfire, then the fog gate I spied earlier.  Confidently, I stride through.

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And emerge into a room filled with magma.  You see that small dark spot before the fog gate in the upper right?  Yeah, that’s all the walkable land I have to work with.  This sure would be a horrible place for a…

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Boss fight.  I just had to say it, didn’t I?  My eyes rise, settling on that big mass of petrified centipedes I noted earlier.

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Turns out, it’s considerably less petrified than I thought.

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It leaps of the wall, landing with a splash in the magma.

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It breathes.

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Ew EW EW EW EW ew ew ew EW!

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It seems to attack primarily by leaping on me.  I dodge past the first one, but am caught underneath the second.  Geezer Zeus, I’m going to have to touch it, aren’t I?

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For its next leap, I dodge out of the way at the last moment, then rush back in and begin cutting away at its legs.   Something I can’t see hits me from behind and the demon breaks off, but the damage is done.  I can recover.  The demon can’t.  And I’m more than happy to turn this into a battle of attrition.  I’m good at those!

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I score the early lead, but a couple of lucky attacks on its part and badly-timed dodges on mine closes the gap between our available life.  I don’t have a whole lot of space to work with, here, and it’s hard to properly move around the demon’s attacks.

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I chug Estus to prepare for another round, and just barely dodge its next leap.  This leaves me in very close, so close I can’t even see the demon properly.  I swing my blade wildly, and actually do quite a bit of damage before the demon breaks off.

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Directly underneath it is the most dangerous place to be at some points, and the absolute safest place to be in others.  So it is here.  I slip in at just the right moment, right after its leap, and take advantage of the opening.  So long does it take before the demon recovers that I’m able to cut away all of its remaining life before it even seems to notice I’m here.

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The demon’s corpse fades, leaving behind nothing but a ring.  A ring that seemed to make the demon in the first place.  A ring made by the Witches of Izalith, given to a friend, brother, or lover of theirs to help him with his insane lava sores.  I think, given the landscape around here, I’ll be able to put it to good use.

Next time: Lordran can go screw.

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6 responses to “Double Dipping in Dark Souls

  1. Yup, it’s that point in every RPG where you start fighting what were once bosses as normal enemies. I’ve always think it’s cool when this happens; it demonstrates how powerful your character has become with the game mechanics in lieu of the narrative telling you that’s the case.

    I think I remember seeing one of those centipede things back in Blighttown and I remember thinking, “That look dangerous and I’m far from the save point; better take it out with the bow.” The bow might end up taking a while, but it sure saves a lot of aggravation at the right moments, doesn’t it?

    • They couldn’t have picked a better boss for it, too. I spent so long on the Capra Demon the first time around, it’s really refreshing to have the chance to just breeze through them, here. I kind of wish they did that with more bosses; I’d like the chance to see how I stack up against them now. Well, there is New Game+, but from what I’ve heard, that’s a rather humbling experience.

      Oh yeah, there was one of those in Blighttown. I completely forgot about that one. I did exactly the same thing.

    • That was the one boss that brought me closest to ending this series early. Urgh, I still burn a bit just thinking about him. It is so cathartic cutting through lesser versions of him now. I’ve started heading down to the Demon Ruins just because I find myself in a bad mood, sometimes.

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