Dark Lord, Dark Souls

Last time, on the Aether Loses at Dark Souls, we trekked across Oolacile, beat down an invader, and found ourselves at a threshold.  An elevator, looking to descend nowhere but into absolute darkness.  Are we ready to step across, to take it into the unknown, to take the fight to the heart of the Abyss?

Nope.  I decide we’re not.  So I just stand there.

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Until oops, I accidentally put on the Covenant of Artorias, just in case, and accidentally step onto the elevator, and accidentally ride it all the way down.

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The elevator lets me off at what appears to be a dungeon.  Which makes me wonder what that big combat hallway was all about before.  A former courthouse?  Dunno.  In any case, the area is lined in these slick Abyss remnants, which grows thicker the further down I go.  It ends with a bonfire before a broken wall.  It doesn’t seem that the Abyss is strong enough that I need the Covenant of Artorias to survive here, so I switch it out.

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I have the Humanity to spare, for once, so I kindle this bonfire.  Get me those extra estus uses while I can.

I walk out the hole in the wall.  It seems to overlook a great chasm, filled with darkness.  I’m guessing this is where the Abyss first infected the city from.  The path out from the hole leads both directions, but trails off to the right.  So obviously, I head the other way.

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Well, that’s the most descriptive name I’ve seen in a long time.  I find a number of messages here, saying there’s a lizard ahead.  I wonder why I should care for a bit, before finally I spot it.  A crystal lizard.  Ok, that’s worth some note.  I rush towards it.  It turns to flee, but I’m on it before it can get too far.  A quick swing lets me harvest its titanite bounty.

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With darkness all around me, it’s hard to make out where the path I’m on leads, especially as it opens up.  I spy a light glittering in the distance, and make my way towards it.  A prism stone, I find when I get close.  I don’t think any creature from the Abyss would need any of these.  Which means someone else had gotten here first.  Left behind by Artorias, most likely.  In any case, the prism stone marks the start of a path downwards.  In fact, looking down into the Abyss, I can see another light shining far down below.  I’m not quite ready to make progress yet, though, so I turn around, and explore the top level of the cavern some more.

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I spy a blue light in the distance.  Flickering slightly.  Looks to me like some treasure.  And I do love treasure.  So I head towards it.  The blue light grows as I near.  So too do the numerous red lights around it.  Before I know it, I’ve drawn the eye of four bloatheads.  As one fires a Dark Orb at me, the other three rush me down.

I dodge to the side of the bolt, then run down the path I came from towards the bonfire, seeking some cover.  I round a corner, then turn and steel myself.  Of the three bobbleheads chasing me, one’s drawn ahead of the other two, just a bit.  I greet him with my blade when he gets close enough.

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This turns out to be a mistake.  I’m not strong enough to kill him in a single blow, and by the time we both recover, the other two are upon me.  With three of them hammering against my shield at once, they quickly overpower my guard, then lay into me with sequential attacks.  It’s more than I can bear, and by the time I get my defenses back up, I’m already dead.

I’m only a short walk away when I respawn, so I’m back in no time.  This round, I stop well outside their zone of awareness, and peer into the dark for their red eyes.  Their light is very faint, but it’s just enough to pick up on.  An arrow soon follows my line of sight.

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I clip him in the arm, but it’s more than enough to draw his attention, and his fellows don’t even notice he’s gone in the dark.  Three at once was overwhelming.  One on one though?  Who do you take me for?

I repeat the process with the other two generic brand bobbleheads, picking out the faint light of their eyes in the encompassing darkness, luring them out by way of arrow, then finishing them off when they get close.  Once the sorceress is all alone, I simply charge.  She knocks a dark bolt into my shield.  I knock some dark steel into her skull.

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The corpse they were guarding holds the Dark Bead sorcery.  If I had any talent for magic, I’m sure I’d be ecstatic.

I head down the path by the prism stone, following the curving route as it descends, cutting my way past another bloathead as I go.  I have no idea how far down this goes, but it does seem to be circling some sort of basin.

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And the basin’s not empty.  Blazes, that’s creepy.  I sit and watch them for a while, but they don’t do anything.  They don’t move, they don’t react to each other, nothing.  At least until I take a few steps down further.  Then a few of them turn to look at me, still not doing anything.  A few steps more, and even more, and an ever growing number of them start staring at me.  You know, I’ve fought dragons.  I’ve faced down the immortal.  I’ve clashed with murderers traveling across worlds, with no other aim than to hunt me down.  I’ve never had the chills like this before.  I really don’t like this.

Of course, it’s not like I have anywhere else to go.

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They finally start moving.  Towards me.

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These… ghosts, these dark, abyssal ghosts, finally respond to my presence and slowly float their way in a line towards me.  And I am not dealing with this.  I cut into the first, a small one, who fades away as my blade passes through.  Only dozens more to go.

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Aside from floating, they don’t move.  No limbs adjust, their heads don’t track me without turning around, they don’t even actually reach in attack.  They just try to touch me, to bump against me, to pass into me.  Somehow, that’s even worse.

Finally, I catch a break in the line.  I move forward a bit, to a more open spot in the path.  All of a sudden, I spy a dark orb cutting through the omnipresent blackness as it speeds towards me.  I barely react in time, rolling to the side as the orb hits where I just stood.

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The ground I roll onto is not solid.  The floor vanishes beneath me, and I fall.  I seem to slow a bit just before I hit the ground, and catch my feet, unhurt.  There’s someone before me.

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A white bearcat?  Wait a second.  Is that the one I met in Darkroot Garden forever ago?  Alvina of the Forest Hunters?  Or forever in the future?  Whatever, time travel is horrible for language.  Anyways, what the blazes is she doing here?

She fades away as I approach.

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Only to reappear, further on in the path.  And she’s not alone, with some even larger abyss ghosts surrounding her.  She vanishes as I approach.  The ghosts do not.  These ones, I’m not able to dispatch in a single hit.  A few of them manage to touch me, passing right through my shield.  And it burns.

Alvina continually plays this game, disappearing only to show up a bit farther down.  And I keep following.  It feels like she’s leading me towards something, and I’m determined to find what it is.

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Realizing my shield is useless against foes who can just drift through it, I start using a double-handed grip on my sword, for greater attack power.  It works a lot better at keeping the ghoulies away.  After settling down a few more ghosts, I find her resting by this lit doorway, starkly standing out against the rest of this cave.  Once again, she vanishes as I near.  I pass through it.

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It leads to an elevator, which heads up to just before where I fought Artorias.  It opens a shortcut.  I take a look around, then head back down.

It feels to me that Alvina wouldn’t be leading me to anywhere so trivial as a shortcut.  There must be some other reason she drew me here.  The path onwards seems too narrow to accommodate her, and I don’t spy her at all in the distance, as I did all the other times.  The last place I saw her was a rather wide area, empty but for a few ghosts.  At least, seemingly empty.  Just to be sure, I start smacking the wall behind where she last appeared.

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Sure enough, one of them was hiding something.  I pass through.

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A whole bunch of ghosts surrounding something glowy.  I don’t know what’s in the glowing field, but chances are, it’s probably treasure.  Alvina was right to send me here.  I begin cutting my way through the ghosts.

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It’s not easy.  As pure black as they are, it’s really hard to gauge just how far away from me they are.  I take a few hits because of it.  Not as much as they do, mind you.

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After I clear most of them out, I see what’s in the field.  Not treasure, but a dog.  A wounded dog.  Who needs my help.  The ghosts crackle against the field as they pass through it.  I move to engage.  Treasure is one thing, but saving a dog?  You just gotta do that.

Those jumbo-sized ghosts are no joke.  Even double-handed, they take more than one hit to kill, and they drain life fast when they touch you.  I finish them off, sure, but it takes it out of me.  Now, let’s see about… wait.  Wait!

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Oh… this is really, really awkward.  That’s no dog.  That’s Sif.

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I suppose this makes us even.  Except not really, because you were the one to pick that fight in the first place, and I didn’t really want any part in it..  Still… I’m sorry I killed… am going to kill you.  Really.  And maybe, in the future, if you run across a dashingly handsome chosen one who needs the Covenant of Artorias to save the world, maybe just let him have it?  And don’t try to stop the whole world being saved by killing him?  Something tells me life may work out better for you that way.

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He fades away, leaving behind this shield.  Artorias’s shield, left behind protect the wounded Sif.  Long enough for me to show up and create a problem for myself in the futurepast.  Have I mentioned I hate time travel?

I explore the path heading downwards a little bit, then turn around and take the shortcut back to the surface.  On my way back after checking in to the bonfire up there, I chat with Marvelous Chester a bit, and in between talking about how magnificent hats are and how he should give me his, the conversation turns towards my recent struggles.

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He seems amused by the thought.  He’s aware that the Abyss got to Artorias first, that we would have been swordbros otherwise, and that it was a totally tragic and heartwrenching battle that still reinforced my status as best chosen one, but still, he finds it hilarious.

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Right.  I head back down into the depths.  Make my way back to where I just was, then keep following the path downwards.

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These ghosts drop an awful lot of Humanity.  Maybe something to do with their nature as the living spirits of humans, but I don’t believe the ghosts in New Londo dropped left Humanity like this.  I recall the bloatheads were formed by their Humanity going out of control as well.  And the Abyss sorcery looks an awful lot like these consumable Humanities.  I wonder if there’s something in the Abyss related to Humanity somehow.  That might explain why I seem flush with it all the time, without even trying.

That’s a chilling thought.  Humanity being part of the Abyss.  But at the same time, maybe only humanity can stop it.  Elizabeth did cast her doubts on the giant Artorias being unable to fight it, due to not having any of ‘the dark’ in him, whereas that’s apparently not the case with me.  Huh.  My head’s starting to hurt, so I forget about all this and just keep heading down.

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I reach the bottom, cut through three ghosts on the small flat area there, and find a corpse.  A corpse of a wandering pyromancer, apparently.  Who seems to have gotten himself in way over his head.  I’ll actually be able to make use of his findings, though, opposed to those from the mad sorcerer.  I kind of wonder why I haven’t been finding any miracles that draw from the Abyss, however.

There’s nothing else up here, so I head back up, taking a different fork in the path down from the elevator and Sif.

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It leads me to a dead body with some souls, and the sorceress that fired at me earlier.  I make sure she doesn’t get a second chance to try her aim.

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I drop off the ledge she was on, and pick up on Artorias’s trail of prism stones heading downwards, over this odd structure.

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Not sure what the purpose of that masonry is, but it does lead to this cave.

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Which holds a fog gate.  I think we’re nearing the end of this little adventure.

There are a few things to take care of.  A ghost guarding a slab of white titanite, which is an incredibly rare and useful item that will sit in my box for all eternity because the types of weapons it upgrades don’t scale well with my big giant muscles.  A few baby ghosts just hanging out in the path.  A whole group of ghost guarding a bunch of souls on a corpse.  Not too much to give me pause.

And with all that out of the way, I pass through the fog gate, to see what awaits me on the other side.

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Which is a whole lot of nothing.  No sign of Dusk, no sign of that Manus, no Abyss beasties, nothing.

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A solitary cliff overlooking absolute darkness.  Were it not for where I currently am, or Dusk’s need of a hero, this would be quite peaceful.

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The darkness starts boiling.

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And I’m not facing a whole lot of nothing anymore.

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I immediately recognize the hand as the same one that pulled me back in time in the first place.  Once more, before I can react, I’m caught in its grip.  Whoever this belongs to, I’ve got something they want, and they’re willing to reach across worlds to get it.  The hand drags me down to the abyss.

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And it lets me go.

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A glow in the darkness tells me I’m going to meet the owner of that hand soon.

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More glows tell me I’m really not going to like them.

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As he comes into the light, I see I was right in that assessment.

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I’m going to make sure he dislikes me just as much.

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Manus, Father of the Abyss.  This is where Artorias’s trail ends, so I imagine this is what drove him under.  I must be cautious.

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Manus extends his arm out, much, much further than it should naturally go, and swipes at me from across the battleground.  The rocks around us crumble under the assault.  My shield arm does not.  But it still knocks me back, off my feet.

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I get up and charge forward, only to stop short as his hand slams down on me from above.  I block it, but this time my guard does not hold.  He doesn’t get a clean hit, but I take damage nonetheless.

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I recover faster than he does, however, and cut into his hand.  I won’t be able to save Dusk by staying on the defensive.

He launches an uppercut, which I narrowly roll out of range of, then slip behind him and counterattack.  He catches me with a quick jab behind him from his extend-arm, then turns around to face me once more.  I catch the next blow from his staff on my shield, and skid back and heal.

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He slams his hand down on me once more, and overwhelms my guard again.  I’m back up before he is and heal, then charge forward in an attack once more.  He swats down, but I dodge around his hand, and score a quick two blows before he can respond.

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He hits me with two strikes, both of which I catch on my shield, but knocks me up in the air with a third then begins juggling my body with a quick series of blows before slamming me back down on the ground.   Manus has combos.  That was intense.

I might have found him overwhelming, once.  He’s powerful and aggressive, and I can easily see how Artorias fell to him.  After fighting the Great Knight himself, though, this feels a lot more manageable.  Hit for hit Manus may be stronger, but he doesn’t bring the same intensity to battle that Artorias did.  With Artorias, it was a constant struggle to find a safe spot to attack or heal.  Manus doesn’t bring nearly that pressure.  He attacks, then leaves an opening, then is on the move again.  Manus ebbs and flows, whereas Artorias was all assault, all the time.  After dealing with Artorias, this feels almost comfortable.  Adjusting to Manus’s rhythm, I score a few more blows.

Then Manus does something I hadn’t expect.  He gathers energy into his staff, and launches numerous dark orbs into the sky.  The orbs start tracing after me as they crash down in a stream.  I dodge the first several of them.  I block the next.  There are still more, and they quickly overwhelm me.

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Still, I managed to take off nearly half his health my first time.  For someone with a sobriquet as intimidating as “Father of the Abyss”, this really wasn’t that rough.  At this rate, Dusk, I’ll have you safe in no time!

Next time: AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA I actually thought that!  What a poor fool!

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4 responses to “Dark Lord, Dark Souls

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