Last time, on Dueling Swords, Dark Souls, we slew a legend! Then found out we were fated to do the same work for which that lazy bum had been posthumously taking all the credit for. Sucks to be us.
I’d go on the whole screw destiny kick here, but really, if Artorias doesn’t do it, and we don’t do it, then Lordran’s pretty much screwed. I’m pretty sure it’s this Abyss that completely wiped Oolacile off the map back in my time, and if it’s not checked here, there might not even be a Lordran for me to run around and be the Best Chosen One in. Besides, I haven’t rescued Dusk yet. And I want to try rescuing a princess just once. I think a hero of my stature needs that behind them.
I head back to the Sanctuary to heal up, then return to the arena in which I fought Artorias. There’s someone there. A woman. Here in the place of that Epic Battle of the Ages. It looks like she’s placing a memorial to how awesome our fight was. She must be a fan of mine. I walk up to her, and start telling her all about my awesome fight with Artorias. She turns, and…
Oh! Ohhh. She was… close with him. In mourning. And here I am, running my mouth. I hang my head, then hand her Artorias’s soul. I’m sure I could use it to make something awesome, but Artorias, at least, the man he was before the Abyss took him, deserves something better. Let her have the soul for his little shrine.
In return, she gives me her weapons. The Dark Silver Tracer and the Gold Tracer, a pair of short swords. She seems to understand the condition Artorias was in, and doesn’t hold a grudge against me for killing him. I look over the weapons, and realization comes to me. That is the Lord’s Blade Ciaran! Another of the Four Great Knights. Her blades require a fighting style that does not match mine in the least, but I suspect her giving these to me is more for her sake than anything else. She does not need these anymore.
I leave her to grieve in peace, and head up the stairs at the other end of the chamber.
That path leads me to a large, open area with a few staircases branching off. I take one, and find myself on a balcony outside, overlooking the Royal Wood. I follow it around, and it leads me to this locked door set into a tower. I can hear movement inside, but the door’s locked, and I have no way to enter.
I collect some souls from up here, head back down, and take the other exit.
A hallway to the side leads to the Battle of Stoicism Gazebo. Like someone was throwing darts at a dictionary. Basically an area for people looking for a fight online, because apparently Dark Souls’ random invasion mechanic doesn’t give you enough opportunity for that. It does give you some unique duel and deathmatch options, but I don’t really get much out of playing against people I don’t even know, so I don’t have a whole lot of interest in this type of multiplayer.
Instead, I take the staircase down, and find myself near a bonfire in a whole new section of the city.
And with a new section comes new enemies. This is one of the guys, bloatheads, I believe they’re called, that got so royally crushed by Artorias when he introduced himself. They’ve got those elongated arms, they’ve got those bobbly little heads, but they still just seem to be men. I’ve killed men by the hundred. This one is no different. He doesn’t even have a weapon. I block his attack, then return with my own. It takes two hits to put him down.
I come across four of them here, chattering about something or other together. I’d rather not take on more than one opponent at once if I can help it, so I feather the first, seeking to draw the attention of him and him alone. No dice. His conversation partner comes along as well, although the other pair either don’t notice or don’t care. I’m standing on a roof that they can’t really reach, though, so I’m able to pick them off at my leisure.
I pass by an empty elevator well, obviously a shortcut for later, then take a staircase slowly heading down. There aren’t a whole lot of streets in Lordran, I’ve noticed. Even in my time. It’s all walking along staircases, balconies, rooftops, etc. Guess people weren’t really travelers before the darksign came around. Anyways, I come across another pair of bobbleheads here. I don’t even bother with the arrows, I know I’m going to draw both their attention anyway. I just rush forward enough to draw their ire, then back up to the last landing I was on. This stacks them up on the narrow staircase, and although the one behind is still able to reach me through the first, it gives me enough of an opening that I’m able to mostly focus my efforts on one at a time.
I head downward a bit more, and turn a corner by a building only to find a dark bolt already heading my way. It hits me on the shield, hard. It both drains quite a bit of stamina, and a lot of damage still bleeds through. Yeah, my Bloodshield is an awesome hunk of metal, but magic resistance is one area it’s weak in. After I recover, I charge the sorceress, only for the other bloathead to get in my way. I cut him down in two strikes, only to find myself left wide open as the sorceress charges up another bolt. I eat it before I can get my shield up, and get sent back to the bonfire.
On my way back to where I died, one of the bloatheads I kill has a spare… head. I check it out. It’s not pretty. But it does give some background as to who these guys are; ordinary Oolacile residents driven mad by this Manus, their lower-case h humanity going out of control. So, at least in part, Oolacile is being driven to tear themselves apart. And I’m going to guess with a title like that, Manus is the guy behind the Abyss. Maybe he set Artorias berserk in just the same manner as the rest of these guys, devouring, then, what? Regurgitating them? Reviving them with the taint of the Abyss inherent? That could explain why all the bloatheads are reviving when I die or hit the bonfire even though the undead curse shouldn’t have consumed the land just yet. In any case, I’m going to guess Manus will have to die before I’m through here.
First things first, I switch my shield for the Crest Shield I picked up from the guy who freed me from the Undead Asylum in the beginning of this blasted adventure. It’s got the stability I need from a good shield, while also having the magic defense I really want right now. Then, when I hit the section that houses the sorceress, I just poke my head out long enough to attract their attention, then duck back behind the building. As expected, the sorceress hangs back while the generic brand bloathead takes the bait, and follows me onto the staircase. There, I can take him out easily enough, before emerging to face the sorceress alone. She blasts me with a dark bolt again, which I take on my shield. This time, only a little damage bleeds through my guard. Perfect.
Before she can fire again, I charge. She rears back, then swings her staff at me. I get my shield up in time, rendering it harmless aside from a bit of poison bleed up. My stamina’s almost drained then, but I have enough left to swing my sword through her. She crumples in a single hit.
There’s something shiny in a nearby gazebo. I consider going in for it, but it seems like an awfully prime spot for an ambush.
Man, I love it when I’m right. Too bad this guy hasn’t been reading this series, or he’d know what a tactical genius I am, and how futile it was to set this up in the first place. I pick up some souls from the corpse there.
I head onwards, and find myself overlooking another path below. There’s a bobblehead on that path.
Oops. I tripped. Luckily, he was there to cushion my sword’s fall. I don’t know what I’d do if my baby got hurt.
There’s not much of anything to do on this lower path, so I take the stairway back upwards to the area I was already on, then continue on that path ever downwards.
Another bloathead on a ramshackle bridge. I don’t really know where that staircase was originally supposed to lead to, before someone built that hasty connection to the next tower. Oolacile’s whole city design does not make sense to me. I suppose that can be blamed on big chunks of it being eaten by the Abyss. In any case, I’m not about to fight that guy in the stairway, so I send an invitation to come to my landing right into one of his many eyes. My bow’s not very powerful, I find it more a tool to provoke my opponents than an actual weapon. It still does enough damage that it only takes one hit to kill these bobbleheads after I shoot them. That’s pretty nice.
The tower has a treasure chest in the center. A chest with its chain curled the wrong way.
This disguise got tired ages ago. I have never fallen for a mimic. I have never been hurt by a mimic. I have never let a mimic survive long enough to actually attack. I don’t know why they keep trying. The mimic held a carving by Hawkeye Gough. So apparently Oolacile is a whole big class reunion for the Four Great Knights. Except for Ornstein. Which is good, because I don’t want to deal with the temporal paradox of killing him before I kill him. The carving doesn’t do much except speak two words. “Very good!” Yes. I am.
I take a staircase down, around the tower, and end up on a landing before a collapsed walkway. A sorceress on the other side sends a bolt my way shortly after. I sidestep the first one, then start striding forward.
There’s no room to maneuver on the walkway, leaving only three choices as she continues to fire bolt after bolt at me: either roll underneath them, block them, or die. I opt for the middle one, catching the second bolt, then the third, on my shield. This would be overwhelming had I not switched out for a more magically resistant shield a while ago. The powerful ranged attacker before the constricting bridge? This would be a devastating setup against any lesser-equipped opponent.
For me, it’s little more than an annoyance.
The path leads down and into a large, ruined building. Through some windows in the wall before me, I can see another bobblehead lurking around in a large, open room.
So focused I am on that one that I don’t see the one rushing me from the side until it’s almost too late. This one, I notice, has glowing eyes, and offers up some more souls when killed. If there’s any other difference from the garden variety version, he doesn’t live long enough to demonstrate.
I enter the room and clash with the bloathead I spotted earlier. I take his initial attack on my shield, then finish him off with a quick pair of blows. These new models might be more powerful than the old, but it’s not going to make a difference if they’re not able to touch me.
There’s a corpse with some treasure on it in the corner of this room. However, a note on the floor advises me to look upwards, where I spot a bobblehead lurking before a hole in the ceiling just above it.
His ambush foiled, he drops down as I curve around. I rush forward, and am upon him before he can recover.
C’mon. Aren’t I worth more bait than just this?
Down the staircase next to the rubbish corpse, I spot a pair of bloatheads just below me. And a note with some tempting advice. Don’t mind if I do.
A dropping attack with my Black Knight Sword is a bit different than many other weapons. Whereas most light weapons will see you landing blade-first on whoever’s beneath you, I swing my heavier sword directly in front of me as a fall. So I hit right in front of me, rather than right beneath me.
I misjudge this, and try landing directly on the bobblehead. This ends with my blade hitting the ground harmlessly in front of him. Turns out that wasn’t the only thing I misjudged. The other bloathead with him? Sorceress. The base bloathead smacks me one, then the sorceress blows me away with a bolt, before I can recover.
Back to the bonfire for me. Such is life. Or whatever it is that I have.
Next time: A little bit better.