Remaining Defiant in Dark Souls

So, I like Let’s Plays. Gives me a good glimpse of games I never would have tried or am on the fence on, and it’s interesting seeing other perspectives of games I already know well. But I’ve noticed a big problem in all the lps I’ve been watching/reading. They’re always trying to make progress. Constantly trying to hit some sort of performance goal, or even (gasp!) attempting to actually beat the game. What’s going on with that? Where’s all the aimless wandering, the unfocused milling about, the pointed refusal to move yourself towards completing the game? Everyone knows it’s when you’re doing nothing of value whatsoever that you get the best material. Last time, on Aether’s Glorious Dark Souls Conquest Mk. II I tried to deliver just that sort of experience, but I failed. That’s becoming kind of a standard thing here, isn’t it? My failure. In any case, the game tricked me, and I accidentally ended up making progress.

Well, now I’m determined to not let that happen again. No more progress until I’ve exhausted all other avenues of effectively wasting everyone’s time! Will I succeed in this endeavor? Find out below!

After kicking Sif to the curb, I make my way back to Quelaag’s Domain, deep in the bowels of Blighttown. This is actually pretty troublesome, and not just because Blighttown is a hole that no healthy-minded being would ever even think about. No, the problem with Blighttown is that there’s no bonfires I can warp to in there, meaning that if I’m going to traverse it, I’ve got to get halfway through the blasted sewer level again. But I do it. Why? Because I apparently lost all sense of self-respect around the time Frampt decided to give me a saliva-bath.


Anyways, so I get to the lower level of Quelaag’s Domain, around where we killed the spiderbabe and rang the second Bell of Awakening. I notice that there’s a section of wall that isn’t covered in spiderwebs, making it oddly suspicious. The note on the floor claiming ‘illusory wall ahead’ is a pretty damning clue as well. I give it a good smack, and the wall fades away, leaving me with this view. Being surrounded by literally thousands of infant spiders in those egg sacs does not exactly strike me as a good time, but still, treasure. There could be treasure. I love treasure. I head into this new hallway.


No treasure down here, but that bonfire is pretty tempting. Blocking my way, though, is this unfortunate soul weighted down under so many eggs nested in his flesh. He asks me if I’m a new servant. Servant to what, I don’t know I’ve no interest in killing him just to get to the bonfire, so I humor him. He lets me inside for an audience with ‘Our Fair Lady’ before shuffling aside. The bonfire’s already lit. Usually the bonfires I’ve been finding out in the wild, I’ve been lighting myself. In fact, the only bonfires I’ve found that have already been lit when I came across them were…


those tended by fire keepers. Well. I suppose like everything else, ‘fair’ is in the eye of the beholder. I try to offer some conversation and pay my respects, but I just can’t understand her. She’s saying something, but not in any language I’ve ever heard, and her words seem to leave my head as soon as they enter.

Well, whatever. I have the option to join her covenant of bug-infested psychopaths, which I’m not going to do because seriously, no. Mr. Hive at the entrance, Eingyi, as he’s apparently called, does offer a weird list, the ‘Servant Roster, and some pyromancy upgrades for sale. I take the opportunity to boost my flame a few levels. I consider putting him out of misery, because seriously, did you see him? He’s more gross spider-baby than man, now. He seems pretty happy with his arrangement, though. To each their own, I guess.

On my way out, walking through the floor of Blighttown, I run into someone new. Someone I didn’t see here before. Someone just hanging out. Seriously? Who just hangs out in Blighttown?! All of Lordran to go chill in, and you choose the God’s Dungheap to spend your time? Something’s obviously wrong with her. She’s surprised to see me, claiming that only those with unique gifts can do so, and introduces herself as, well…


The fabled Mother of Pyromancy. The one responsible for granting the art of pyromancy to mortals through the Great Pyromancer Salaman. Apparently, I remind her of the historic flame-wielder, and offers to teach me pyromancy as well. The power to make more things burn better? Of course I’m up for that! She warns me that in pursuing her pyromancy requires giving something up. Heedless, I pick up two new spells from her, the first a more powerful version of my fireball and the second a spell that engulfs the area around me in flames. Both circumstantial, as I don’t get enough uses out of them to make them my mainstays, but I can see getting some good use from this. As I leave her, she gives me a warning to always fear the flame, else it will consume me and I will lose myself. Then…


Aww, I’m touched. So far, all the pyromancers I’ve met have been such nice, caring…


Ok, less touched now. Still, the Mother of Pyromancy. Here in Lordran. Quite an awesome opportunity! I’ve got to tell Laurentius. A quick port later, and…


He notices my pyromancy has grown, already, under Quelana’s tutelage. I let him know about the Mother of Pyromancy, thinking that he’ll be interested in it just the same as I. After all, just sitting around Firelink with nothing to do is sure to kill your hope and drive you hollow. He was kind to me, giving me a part of himself through this pyromancy flame. The least I could do is give him this one positive note to keep his sanity afloat. He resolves to reach her on his own, claiming himself enough of a pyromancer to be able to handle it himself.

And hey, while I’m here, do you remember Frampt? The primordial serpent? You can feed him items in exchange for souls. A wide variety of items, including one that I’ve been picking up over and over again in Blighttown.


Hey, you remember when he decided to transport me inside his blasted mouth? The indignity of it? Yeah.


Down the hatch.

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Proving Ourselves in Dark Souls

Last time, on this thing people keep reading for whatever reason, I gained the power to control fire and used it to kill some things that are already dead. It was certainly fun, but now it’s time to do something that actually matters. That’s right, it’s back into the sewers for us.

At the end of the sewer level, past the double doors previously blocked to us, I find the entrance to the infamous Blighttown. I don’t know much about this place, other than that it’s spoken of with much ire around the internet. Is it because the area’s especially difficult? Annoying? Boring? We’ll find out together! Remember, here at Lost to the Aether, I play this game so you don’t have to!


The entrance to Blighttown is this massive blasted pit. We’ve made it to the lowest depths of the sewer level, and now we’re going to have to dig even deeper. I sure hope that’s not metaphorical.

I briefly consider plunging to my death, avoiding what is to come, but instead, I find a ladder and descend that way. Apparently, one of the other players thinks I should be regretting that decision.


It’s not long before we run into our first adversaries in this area, these infested barbarians. There’s a bunch of these guys in a row, but I decide to play things safe and lure them out one by one. As you might expect, they’re quite strong, able to push me around even as I block them. Their clubs are also poisonous, somehow. And they’re surprisingly mobile, at least within the confines of this wooden latticework. I have to play this defensively, rolling back at the slightest sign of an attack and picking my moments to attack. With careful timing, though, I’m able to wear these guys down enough for a killing stroke.

They have a habit of leaving behind dung pies. I’m not sure why I keep picking them up.


Moving forward along the walkways into the bowels of Lordran, we encounter our second enemy class of this area, the infested ghoul. These guys, as well as the barbarians, seem quite a bit different than the standard hollows we’ve been putting down. Something’s happened to this place, beyond the normal curse of the undead, that’s twisted those who’ve been hanging out here.

In any case, the ghouls here rush towards me as soon as they catch a glimpse. They’re armed with swords, spears, or bone clubs, but telegraph their attacks well enough that they’re easy to block. They do have a nasty little grab attack, though, putting their filthy teeth to bear. The bite takes a good deal off my health, but they snarl before they do so, giving me enough time to prepare my defense. Two hits is more than enough to take them out, so they don’t pose any real threat individually.

Heading on just a bit farther, I’m struck by something. Something small. It doesn’t do any damage, but it causes my toxin gauge to skyrocket. It came from my right. Luckily, there’s a wall nearby that I’m able to duck behind.


Here’s our perpetrator. An sniper with a blowgun. The darts don’t hurt me, at least not right away, but they’re coated with a powerful poison, and two hits are enough to overcome my resistance. Also, the way bows work in this game, they’re really not well suited to sniper battles. You can’t move and ready an arrow at the same time, meaning you’re a sitting duck for an enemy who’s already drawn on you. My best bet is to try and hit these guys from areas they can’t return fire to, but with as observant as these snipers are, good luck with that.

Also, for whatever reason, structures in Dark Souls actually extend a bit beyond what they’ve got visuals for. Those arrows you see floating in the air in the picture above? They’re embedded in the wood that doesn’t really exist. This has been a small frustration of mine all game, but it’s really infuriating now, that I have to face off with these enemies I can’t reach with my sword.

Luckily, these snipers don’t seem to be undead, meaning they don’t respawn. Kill ’em once, they’re out of your hair forever. I catch a bounty of purple moss from this one, which serves as an antidote to poison. Something tells me I’m going to need that.


After I slay the sniper and start moving on, I find a message that there’s a sniper around. Thanks, guy! There’s also a tempting bit of treasure that appears out of my reach. I’d have to jump for it, but it looks like a tricky leap. If I miss, the fall will either kill me or land me in unknown territory. I decide to leave it be for now.

I move out from the initial walkway, into where Blighttown opens up and… oh my. I don’t know whether it’s the size of the area, the poor PC optimization, the lack of developer tricks to hide areas so they don’t have to be loaded, or what, but this place is doing absolute murder to my frame rate. My computer’s been handing the game at a solid 30 fps, but this area tops out at half that, and frequently dips into the single digits. This is painful.

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