The Eye of the Dark Souls

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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Instead, I take the staircase down, and find myself near a bonfire in a whole new section of the city.

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Distractions of Dark Souls

Last time, on Adventures in Oolacile, we had a cliffhanger.  The first in this entire series, I think.  What the hell, Aether?  Weren’t you just complaining about those?  You hack.  Fix it.  Fix it now.

Well, if you insist.

If you’ll recall, we ended things last time with me tromping through a forest then passing through a fog gate.  On the other side of that gate we find a cutscene.  You know what that means.  That means it’s boss time.

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And here’s our opponent.  Look at him.  All bobbly and spindly and totally smaller than me.  And here I thought the DLC was supposed to be hard!  I could totally take this guy.  I could totally take like, 20 of this guy.  I could…

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My reflections on how awesome I am in comparison are interrupted as someone else jumps in and totally takes that guy.

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Dude lifts his sword a bit, then stabs the guy again for good measure.

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Then he seems to notice me.  Dark energies begin gathering around him.

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I’m… not entirely sure I can totally take this guy.

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Dude roars at me, strikes this pose, then hurls the impaled corpse of that guy right at me.

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The corpse doesn’t quite clear the distance, it skids to my feet, but the meaning is clear.  And aww, man, Artorias?!  We were supposed to be buds!  I’d impress you with my awesome swordwork, we’d bro out and save the princess, and then be generally cool guys together until I had to return to my time!

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The Dark Souls Nature Trail

Last time, on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dark Souls, we got taken someplace a long, long time ago, in a land far, far away.  Oolacile.  What I know as Lost Oolacile.  A fallen land that no longer exists, because, much like me, it is just too pretty for my blighted world.  Whatever happened to pull me here must have somehow yanked me across time, too.  I’ve followed Dusk to her home.

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Look at that.  Sunlight streaming through the trees onto a sacred copse in the woods.  Anor Londo, Firelink Shrine, and the Undead Burg all have some direct sunlight, but it just feels different here.

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A bunch of humanoid statues that are, admittedly, creepy as all blazes, but hey.  At least these people have some art and culture in them.  That’s beautiful on its own.

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And of course, the giant mushroom man, well renowned for its wait WHAT?!

I’ve been pounded by these guys too many times.  Wary, I raise my shield and approach.  The mushroom does nothing.  In fact it doesn’t even have limbs.  Slowly, I lower my guard.  Then it… she… speaks.

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If blood and sewage and whatever Frampt’s been eating smells like human to you, I’m not sure I want to see who you hang around with.  Also, how do you tell that when YOU DON’T HAVE A FREAKIN’ NOSE?!

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Oh, wait, Dusk’s been talking about me?  She, uh, say anything good?  Like how gorgeous and powerful and totally dating material I am?

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“…snatched away by that horrifying primeval human.” she says.  Yeah, she was kidnapped the last time I saw her, too.  Can that girl keep out of distress?  I get that she’s a princess, and getting kidnapped is like, what they do, but that still seems excessive.

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Oh fair knight, canst thou pleasest saveth our princess and smiteth the evil dragonst Generica plaguing our landst and liveth literally every classic Heroic Romance ever?  Let me guess.  The princess will be set up to be sacrificed to fuel or satisfy some greater monster.  A false hero will appear, who will seem cooler than me in every way, but ultimately fail in his endeavors.  Then it will be up to me to save the day in which I need to slay the dragon and dispel some lie the princess believes and then she’ll fall in love with me and I’ll hang up my sword and buy a farm.  Eh.  I’ll think about it.

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Depression and Dark Souls

Last time in Dirty Deeds Done Dark Souls, we pretty much became a killer for hire.  Oh sure, it may have been a wicked mercy, and it may have been for the fate of the world and all that best chosen one business, but the fact remains that I killed both two of the Izalith family members as well as the twisted, misshapen Witch of Izalith herself just because my lady of the flame asked me too.  It was a dirty deed, but one that needed to be done, but, I hope, one that bought them all some measure of long-deserved peace.

Also, I slew the well from which all my  wicked inferno magic is drawn!  I’m pretty awesome, aren’t I?

Eh.  Have to joke.  Have to try and keep the spirits up.  Humor’s most important in the darkest hour, right?  Truth is, I’m just about at the lowest point I’ve been in since I left the Undead Asylum.  Laurentius of Great Swamp went hollow and died by my hand long ago.  Solaire of Astora, I’m not sure whether he went truly hollow rather than just being driven generically mad, but either way, he lost his will, then lost his mind.  Siegmeyer of Catarina, well, I’m not entirely sure what happened.  He seemed depressed, over his lack of success, over the amount of times I bailed him out, whatever, but I don’t think he was ever expecting to survive his charge against those demons.  And even as far back as the beginning of my journey, that knight that opened the way to my escape from the Asylum in the first place, before again, going hollow and dying by my blade.

Oh, Geezer Zeus, I’m going to have to tell Siegmeyer’s daughter.

And all the while I roam this blasted land where anyone normal seems to have perished years ago, in this dying world, working on the vague promises of that stupid snake whose words coming out of his mouth is worth no more than the dung pies I’ve shoved in, and that bloated goddess, who for all her divinity has done absolutely nothing that a simple box couldn’t have.  I’m the Chosen One, I’m the one who’s supposed to link the fire, cure the undead plague, renew the world, and succeed a god, and yet I’m the only one who actually does anything towards that goal.  Frampt, the Lords, anyone else who ruled in this land?  They’ve all either vanished, twisted themselves into uselessness in ages past or are actively making Lordran worse, now.  And what does succeeding Gwyn even mean?  I am already immortal and monstrously powerful.  What more can becoming a god gain me?  In pursuit of that, I have killed so many people, some of whom deserve it, but what good has come out of it?  Whose lives are better for my actions?  Sure, some of those I killed played some part in how screwed up Lordran’s gotten, but I feel like even with their deaths, I’ve only just put a bandage on a mortal wound.   I’ve got promises that by fulfilling my station as the Chosen Undead, I can at least purge the undead curse and bring life, true life, back to this world, but most of that comes from sources I know aren’t telling me the whole story.

Yet even so, I know I’m going to stay the course.  I have to.  If I stop, I know I’m going hollow.  The knight at the Asylum lost his mission.  Solaire got discouraged.  Siegmeyer seemed to have given up.  And they are all no more.  That will not happen to me.  I need to keep moving forward.  And I have no other direction than the quest of the Chosen Undead.  And you know what?  I’m starting to find myself not caring about killing these people for their souls.  The holder of the Lord Souls have all needed a good killing thus far.  For all I know, Nito might be the same.  And even if he hasn’t gone full-blown malevolent, at the very least, he’s done nothing about Lordran falling so hard to the darksign.  I’m sure I can make much better use of his Lord Soul than he is.

Still, even the most epic of quests could do with a break now and again.  And I really need something to feel good about right now.  And honestly, I could do with someone to talk to.  My best friend just tried to kill me, I watched another friend die, and the pressure of being chosen are getting to me.  Even the strongest of warriors need a shoulder to lean on, and I am getting to that point.  I head first to Quelana.  I don’t expect much empathy from her, but I at least need to let her know the deed is done.

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She, at least, is happy that her family’s been released from their twisted, chaotic forms.  Well, except for the Daughter of Chaos, the waifish, spidery, fire-keeper.  As dire as her situation is, she at least seems to have retained something of her self.

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You know, that’s a big expression of endearment from her.

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She teaches me the Fire Tempest pyromancy.  I’ll have to try that out sometime.  She calls out to me as I’m leaving.

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Well, I seem to have helped her out at least.  Now, I just need to keep this up for, oh, the rest of the still-living world?

While I’m in the area, I pick up the treasures left behind in the Demon Ruin’s magma, the ones that were by that pack of Taurus Demons.  There’s a bunch of souls on one, and a Chaos Ember on the other.  I take it to Andrei, who reports that he can’t do anything with it.  The Giant Blacksmith has no interest in it either.  And Rickert, as he proudly claims, doesn’t deal in embers.  I hold onto it for now.

It’s starting to occur to me that I could do with an upgrade in equipment.  I love this Black Knight Sword.  It has been my most constant companion in the Chosen One quest.  I would marry this sword if I could.  The nuptials… would be awkward.  But even so, I’ve upgraded it as much as I can, and I’m not going to be getting much stronger than I am now.  My damage output with this blade has peaked, and while still considerable, I’m worried it may not be enough for some of the future challenges facing me.  I’m not in a hurry to replace it, but I am going to be keeping my eye out for a new weapon.  Maybe I’ll learn to love it as much as I love this one.

In the meantime, my mind drifts to one other person who I’m pretty sure would do me good to talk to.  Someone who I’ve unequivocally saved.  Someone who’s not completely steeped in the despair that pervades those under the undead blight.  And perhaps most importantly, someone who hasn’t yet rejected my requests for a date.  Dusk of Oolacile.  The lady trapped for untold ages in the body of the golden golem, before I rescued her and she used her magic to return to the past.  She left me a summon sign, to speak with her again.  And if ever I needed it, it’s now.  I venture back to the lake at the Darkroot Basin.

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Dragging On in Dark Souls

Last time, on Dying Slowly in Dark Souls, I learned that I had been underestimating just how bad this undead life can be.  Sure, when you die over and over again, yet always come back almost good as new, it’s easy to forget the sting that death carries.  It’s easy to forget that sometimes it’s final.  And yet, just like Laurentius of Great Swamp before, death has taken one more good man.  My friend, Solaire of Astora, gone hollow, or at least driven mad by that maggot that had attached to his head, and put down by my hand.  And he won’t be coming back.

I feel a bit hollow.  No, not that kind of hollow.  At least, not much.  I don’t know what I’m supposed to do here.  Mourn?  Rage against the Lords?  Rail against the undead curse that allowed this to happen?  None of those would help.  Instead, as always, I can only move on.  Just one foot in front of the other.  My feelings don’t matter, I need to keep moving forward.  I can grieve when there’s time.  For now, much as I hate it, there’s some things I need to take care of.

I owe that much to Solaire, at least.

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We’ve just got a few places left to explore in Lost Izalith.  The first on our plate is this obvious trap we had noticed but largely ignored last entry.  Now, I am a lot of things.  A warrior.  A genius.  A renowned sexpot.  One thing that’s not on this list?  A chump.  It’s obvious, just from checking out the lay of the floor in that room, that the ground is going to give way as soon as I put pressure on it.  I don’t know a way of going through without triggering that trap, though.  Hedging my bets, I stick to one side as I move forward, figuring that this will be less of a fall than walking in the center.  Specifically, I stay to the left.  Because it’s closer to the bait.  Which I know is counter-intuitive, but come on, treasure!

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Sure enough, the ground gives way as soon as I step on it.  I fall.  For like a foot.  I had been walking directly over this root, which catches me, saving me from certain death.  For once, my greed saved me.  Of course, the bait disappears at this point, but I can’t complain.

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I head down the root, which winds quite a bit before reaching the bottom.  There are these monsters below me.  I am really, really glad I didn’t fall in there.  What kind of beast eats with the crown of its head?

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Hey, look at that.  It’s Sieg…. Something.  Siegmeyer, or Sieglinde, I can’t tell.  They both have those child-bearing hips.  Runs in the family, I guess.  Either way, I am really, really glad to see a friendly face.  I could really use that, right now.  I hop off the root when it nears the floor of this ruin, then make my way around to talk to them.

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One of those tentacle pudding monsters tries to cut me off.  I slip past him then cut him down easily enough. Continue reading

The Despair of Dark Souls

Last time, on this thing, we killed a fat wad of fire and a gigantic gross-out bug, then gained the ability to walk on liquid rock.  Unfortunately, we’re still stuck underground for a while yet.  I hate being underground.  Have I mentioned that?  Sewer levels, caves, volcanoes, none of it’s really for me.  I think I’m starting to understand why Lordran’s so full of those sun-worshippers.

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Speaking of sun-worshippers, hey look!  It’s Solaire!  He’s my best friend!  Did I mention he’s my best friend?  Because he totally is.

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Unfortunately, he hasn’t perked up any since we saw him in the Undead Burg.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  Dude doesn’t even notice that I’m here, so absorbed is he in his sorrows.  I try to offer some comfort, some support, but I don’t think any of it’s getting through.  He just keeps repeating the same thing.  I’ve got some business to take care of here, so eventually, I have to break off and press onwards, but for whatever it’s worth, I assure him that I’ll be back to check up on him once it’s all over.  I don’t like the state he’s in right now.

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Ahead of me is a veritable sea of magma.  No way through without getting my feet wet.  Luckily, I picked up this ring from the oogy Centipede Demon that supposedly will let me just walk right across it.  I’m a little hesitant about it.  Like, what if I don’t stay afloat?  I know I’m effectively immortal, but drowning in red-hot magma seems to me a particularly unpleasant way to die.  I’m not sure if I could hang on to my sanity in that event.

Well, what good has my sanity ever done me, anyway?  I slip the ring on, and dart across towards the next bit of stone poking out.  Luckily, my footing holds.  And the ring works.  It’s not exactly comfortable, but the burn is lowered from immediately cauterizing me from the waist down to biting into a way too hot hunk of meat.  I can’t stay in it indefinitely, but it holds of the burn long enough for me to get where I’m going.

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And where I’m going is Lost Izalith, apparently.  Guess I’m on the right trail of the Witches of Izalith.  Although why they would live below what was assumedly a home for demons is anyone’s guess. Continue reading

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.

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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.

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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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Diving into in Dark Souls

Last time, in Don’t Die in Dark Souls, I died. I died hard, too. So hard that I didn’t even have time to grab a screenshot of it. It turns out that being able to cut through hundreds of opponents with less resistance than than a hurricane through tissue paper kind of got to my head, when really, it was only building up a pedestal so that I’d have farther to fall.

Now that I know the area, I try to rush back to where I fell. My supplies of these transient curses, that I need to put up a defense against these ghosts in the first place, are limited, so I want to make it there while still under the influence of the first one I consumed. That proves to be a humbling experience. These guys, that I was beating so effortlessly before? Yeah, that was only because I was cautious the first time around, taking them on a few at a time before any of them could make a move. Now that my confidence is bolstered, I do my best to rush through them.

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Turns out they’re a little tougher when they can gang up on you. They still don’t do much damage, but they’re able to overwhelm me nonetheless. I don’t die, but I come closer than I’d like. When I regain my feet, I roll out of the middle of these guys, and dissipate them with a few quick strikes. This was a wake up call for me. I resume my careful pace moving forward.

I end up back in the elevated walkways just before where I died last time. There were a number of ghosts here, attacking through the ceiling and floor, last time I went through. I admired their tactics then.

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Well, I found a ladder now, that allows me to completely subvert them.

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Case in point, here’s a lurking ghost, just waiting for me to walk overhead into his eager knives. Unfortunately, he’s paying attention to the above walkway, and doesn’t notice me down here. I teach him the error of his ways. I dispatch another ghost in a similar manner, then return to the upper walkway and continue my path forward, unmolested.

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Here’s where I fell to my death last entry. Just like the previous time, two ghosts emerge from the water, one by one, as I approach. These ones are tricky, able to clip through the ground and come at me at a low angle that’s difficult to strike at. If I back off, to give myself more space, they retreat, hovering beyond the edge of this walkway. This is going to take a careful hand.

Last time, I misjudged the distance between the ghost and the ledge, and overextended myself, sending me hurtling off. I’m paying more attention now, but even so, I almost do the same here. I catch myself with one foot before I fall. I’ll have to be more careful.

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The second ghost, I arrow him to death. Or undeath. Redeath. Whatever. He actually takes a few hits, enough to give him time to close the distance. He gets off one strike, but no more.

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