Last time, on Aether’s Adventures in Barely Hanging On, we got sucked into a painting with no way out and very limited supplies, and had a hard time. Seriously, we’re starting this episode at the same bonfire we started the last one at. We’ve made no real progress. However! We’ve gained some knowledge, about our enemies, the area, and our tactics! And as G.I. Joe taught me, knowledge is power. So this time, now that our muscles are all full of knowledge, we’re going to put it to good use! We’re going to steamroll our enemies with knowledge! We shall make sure that every single strike has all the knowledge we’re able to muster behind it! We’re ready to give all our enemies a nice blast of knowledge! Right to the face!
Basically, what was really holding us back last time were the engorged zombies and the toxic explosion they go through when you kill them. After playing with my equipment for a while, I found myself a good way around that status effect: using a lightning spear, which allows me to attack while keeping my guard up, and a spider shield, which can block poison entirely. In this game you can have two pieces of gear equipped to each hand and switch between them as you see fit, so I’ve still got my pyromancy and my Black Knight Sword at the ready, in case I fight an enemy far enough away or strong enough to need either of those, but for the most part, it’s the shield/spear combo that’s going to be carrying me through this area.
And carry me through it does. Now, both the shield and weapon I’m using now are far less effective than my standard gear, even after I’ve upgraded them with what titanite I had on me. The spear is weaker, taking me longer to kill, while the shield’s a lot smaller than my usual and can’t negate damage entirely. Still, the combination makes me pretty much immune to the engorged zombies toxicity, which is really what’s been sending me back to the bonfire repeatedly. I take more damage than I used to, but I still breeze through the area much quicker than I had been before.
Now that I don’t have to worry about my enemies so much, I can explore some areas I completely missed before! For example, the rafters in one of the larger buildings I passed through on my way to the tower. This guy seen here has usually either completely missed me or dropped in on me while I was slaying his fellows on previous runs. Now that I’m climbing up to the rafters, he seems at a bit of a loss as to what to do. I make that decision for him. He can burn and die. There’s not a whole lot else going on in the rafters, although I do find an Egg Vermifuge. This is a sour-tasting, fuzzy chestnut that will purge any parasitic eggs that have been laid in my body. I sincerely hope I never have to use this. I take it anyway, because as my adventures in Ariamis have been demonstrating, only a fool goes unprepared. Besides, you can never tell what people are doing to my body all those many times I spend dead.
The rafters also lead me to a window with a ladder heading downwards, overlooking the fortress wall. I descend, and travel along the wall until I find a stairway descending into yet another room. Inside, I find a few more enemies to kill, and a chest containing a set of Painting Guardian clothes. You remember those guys in white that I killed by the bundle outside of this painting? The outfit they were wearing. I briefly ponder slipping it on myself and seeing if I can sneak by them, but I drop the idea quickly. As any woman who’s seen me would probably tell you endlessly, I’m really beefy. The waif-like Painting Guardians would probably be able to tell I don’t belong in a heartbeat. They’re probably all hollow anyways, and they seem to be able to tell who’s lost their mind already. Interesting fact in the description of these clothes, though. These guardians are charged with protecting the paintings of Ariamis, meaning there’s either more than one entrance to this world, or that Ariamis is the artist and has created several different worlds. Also, hollow or no, nobody remembers why they’re supposed to be guarding the paintings anyways. They just do it, probably because there’s nothing better to do in Lordran if you’re not the Best Chosen One.
I make my way back to the beaten path, heading towards the tower that’s been my stopping point thus far. Now, I want to take a break here to show off something. I’ve killed these engorged zombies dozens of times before. You know this, you read the last post. But have you ever seen anyone burn so beautifully as this? Seriously, just look at that! Exquisite! I am an artist, and flame is my medium!
Anyways, back at the tower, we go through our usual song and dance. First step, lure the crow demon out and engage him. He doesn’t have a whole lot of moves, and only one really dangerous one. Now that I know his tells he’s not much danger. He goes down after a few hits. He leaves behind a blood-stained, shrunken human ear. A Souvenir of Reprisal, it’s supposed to be proof that someone who has sinned against the gods have gotten their supposedly just desserts. It’s a human ear, though, obviously not from this demon.
With the crow demon out of the way, it’s time to slay the dragon! Just like last time, I begin my march down the bridge, and the undead dragon charges me. From there, the fight unfold much like last time, although I’m playing a lot more defensively and keeping a better eye on him now. He only has two attacks, one where he vomits toxic sludge at me, and another where he tries to stomp on me. By paying attention, and staying out of the way when my stamina runs low, I’m easily able to avoid both. I simply swipe at whatever body parts are available until I run out of breath or he starts to move, then stay out of the way as he attacks before pressing forward once again.
This time, the dragon falls without doing much damage. He was barely even a challenge the second time around. He leaves behind a dragon scale, which will allow me to upgrade dragon equipment. I also find a Bloodshield behind him, a solid piece of gear that might be worth replacing my current shield with, should I bother to upgrade it.
Turns out that when the dragon charged me, well, only half of him actually did anything. All of him from the waist down is still waiting at the end of the bridge. It does nothing as I approach. I’m able to stand it upright, hitting the legs with a leaping attack, but all that’s behind it is the broken remains of the bridge. I could drop down to the bridge below for a shortcut of some sort, but I decide against it. There’s no telling where that will end up, and the fall’s going to hurt.