I saw a dragon today. It was close enough that I felt the hot wind of its take-off, smelled the ozone-tinted scent of its breath. In that moment, brief as it was, I felt small again. Sure, I had done battle with a small army of skeletons, destroyed their puppet master, and slain the Black Knight with my very own club, but none of them made me feel the way I did as I watched the dragon soar into the sky. The menace of a skeleton–jangling bones, short, sharp blades, that eternal grin–is enough to cause anxiety, even a bit of fear when I was close to death. Pinwheel made me feel sick. The Black Knight simply made me angry. The dragon sent a shudder through my bones. It was the creeping dread of inevitability. The primitive certainty of fiery death. The winged embodiment of Hell on earth.
Maybe it shouldn’t be in an Undead to fear Hell. Maybe I hadn’t, before. But it’s only natural to fear what’s real.
They say that no news is good news, so maybe the fact that the lumpy oaf near the bonfire never has anything new to tell me is an indication that he’s trying to be cheery, in his own way.
Not that I cared one whit what he was saying at the moment. I had other things on my mind, the most pressing of which was what to do with my 10000 Souls.
I sit down at the bonfire and take a good, long look at my stats.
Here is my dilemma: Though I normally have no problem at all hoarding stats in games that allow it–I’m notorious for doing just that, if you ask some of my friends–the way Souls work isn’t ideal for that type of play. Every time I leave the relative safety of the bonfire, I risk losing everything. So I need to spend the Souls that I have, but I don’t yet really know what I’m going to need. I have nothing very solid on which to base future plans. That’s not a situation I’m used to.
I can only weigh the factors I’m already aware of. I can’t really make contingency plans when one false step will lose me my nest egg for good. Even if I the best I can manage is an educated guess, I have to spend what I have.
So I consider the needs I’m aware of. First off, I know that every new weapon I find comes with either a strength or a dexterity requirement, and often both. As I’d like to be able to use the loot I’ve worked hard to acquire, that puts those stats at the top of my list. (Not to mention that levelling up those stats adds to my general damage output.)
Next up on my list is endurance, because it affects two more substats that I have found to be increasingly important: stamina and equip load (which is basically weight capacity). As it’s the best example I have of a more powerful weapon, I examine the Black Knight’s Axe. It has a weight of 16, and even my zweihander has a weight of 10. My total equip load is barely over 50, and just walking around with my club and some simple cloth robes is enough to slow me down right now. When I equip the Black Knight’s Axe my walking speed would best be measured in geological time, they way the passage of glaciers is judged. I mean that it makes me really slow, and I haven’t even neared being overburdened. It seems obvious that in order to effectively use the weapons I find, even once I’ve met their strength and dexterity requirements, I’ll need a strong back and knees that wont wobble, which means more endurance.
After that comes vitality. I have been putting points into it, because who doesn’t want more HP? However, the investment feels like it’s giving me very poor returns. I don’t know if it’s my class or what, but each point into vitality is giving me around 22 additional HP, which hardly seems worthwhile when a skeleton is slashing me for 200 or more. I still need it, though, so I’ll continue to get vitality, just not at a high rate.
After that, the stats are lot less certain. Intelligence? Faith? Attunement? Every one of those depends on my access to spells, and the tools needed to cast them, and all of that is a mystery to me. Do I get my faith up in order to use a spell I don’t have, or know about? I’ve already got my heal, and so far it’s been good to me. Good enough for me to keep investing in magic stats, though? I’m not so sure; it already heals me for more than half my HP bar, and I’d need to have a lot more vitality first before that started to feel like too little. I’ll have to treat magic the same way I’m treating weapons: as new goals. If I happen to find a spell that I’d like to cast, then I’ll consider investing stats in that direction.
That leaves resistance, which I still don’t see the point of. Especially now that I’ve found my priest robes, the wearing of which has effectively doubled all of my defence stats. Every point in resistance is a pittance compared to that, and one less point into a stat I actually want–and pretty much every other stat adds to my defence anyway. Is poison really that bad?
So, at the bonfire, I make my decision: I will continue to base my goals around that which I know. I get another point each of dexterity and endurance.
Next, I visit the cleric again. When I try to chat him up, he mentions that he knows something about an Undead mission. That gets my attention. An Undead mission is the reason I was forced to leave my cozy jail cell back at the asylum. I would like to know more.
He says that the can’t tell me, and then, in the same breath, says that, as I’m his student now, he’s willing to accept payment in order to tell me anyway. He wants 2900 Souls. I only have 2700 Souls. The yes or no option appears on screen. As I don’t have enough Souls to pay him yet, I choose no. Then I head to the graveyard and beat up a few skeletons. With the required bribe in hand, I return. Only now he won’t tell me what he knows anymore, says that it’s sacred knowledge or some other nonsense.
Hey, buddy, a minute ago you were willing to sell your gods out to any Undead who could afford your rates. I didn’t have your Souls then, but I do now. I’d have given you what you wanted if I could have! Nobody told me this was a one-time offer! If this is how he dicked with people back in the land of the living, then no wonder they sent him to Lordran to die.
There’s nothing I can do about that anymore, so I move on.
Where do I move on to, though?
From the bonfire, I can see what looks to be a bridge in the distance, leading from my little land mass to a huge walled fortress-city. I had seen it before, when I’d first landed here, but only now do I notice the incredibly obvious set of stairs leading up from the bonfire to where the bridge is.
Maybe I’m just destined to take the hard way.
So I check it out.
As soon as I get to the top of the first set of stairs, I am assaulted. There’s a pink Undead up there, with a sword, like so many of the wretches that I’d already seen, and killed, except he’s got a few tatters of clothes on, and also has some fight left. I already know he’s weak before I hit him, and just the lightest tap of my club caves his skull in like it’s made from papier-mache.
I sigh inwardly, imagining what it would have been like to fight these guys when I was still fresh, instead of a host of invincible skeletons.
Yeah, I’m destined to take the hard way.
I scoot back a bit, because I figure that if I have to fight more of these Undead goons, I may as well do it my way. Unlike all of those skeletons, these guys still have their flesh, worn and dry as it is. They also have eyeballs. Eyeballs and flesh are two of my favourite things to stab with spears.
And that’s what I do: I fight my way up to the bridge, shoving my spear through every Undead that dares stand up to me. They all die after a single fleshy stab. It’s not unsatisfying, especially when I push my spear through the guts of the one that has the gall to throw firebombs at me as I’m trying to climb the last set of stairs.
I make it to the bridge. On the ledge in front of me is a body that I can loot. I walk over to it and find an Undead Soul. But I could swear I saw the glimmer of another item from the bonfire. It was further down, though, under the bridge. I walk back around to the cliff connecting the Firelink Shrine to the bridge and check underneath from both sides. I spot the body, far down, and I know what to do. I position myself at the edge of the cliff, and I fall to the bottom of the bridge. Strong ankles, as you know. Nudging around the narrow ledges, I find the loot corpse. It yields a Ring of Sacrifice. “Lose nothing upon death, but ring breaks.” I really could have used that a couple of days ago. It’s still looks like a useful item, just not right now, while I’ve got nothing I care about losing. Maybe if I get my hands on some Humanity.
Getting from the bridge back to the cliff is a little bit of a problem. Initially, I think I’m supposed to use one of my teleporting bones to get back, like I had to when I fell into that pit in the Catacombs. But the far ledge is so close to the cliff that, in reality, I could just step across. If only I could jump–but I can jump, sort of; there isn’t a jump button, per se, but if I get a running start and try to roll, I will do a small hop first. If I line myself up just right that might be enough.
It is! I clear the gap, body intact. I’ve learned something new.
Back on the bridge I find a way inside its walls. There is scummy water running through there. This isn’t a bridge at all. Not a bridge meant for regular traffic; it’s an aqueduct. One that could be connected to a sewer, from the looks of it. And from the giant rat walking around.
I walk the length of the aqueduct and try the metal gate at the end. It won’t open from this side. There is a side passage with some stairs that lead up. I take them.
I step out onto the rooftops and battlements of what must have once been a thriving city. Everything is decay now: old, rickety scaffolding that barely stands where it hasn’t already collapsed; garbage everywhere, both of the material kind, and the sickly Undead who mill about hopelessly, aimlessly.
They do bring one bright spot to my day, though: as I search the area, finding strategic places to fall so that I can eventually reach higher points, I notice that some of the Undead are launching themselves up at me from over the walls. But we’re at the top of the city, so where could they be climbing from?
From the walls themselves, it would appear. I turn around and spot one of them just dangling there, face stuck to the creeping ivy. Exactly how long have these goofballs been waiting like that? Do they ever get bored? I hope they at least pull themselves up now and then to have a stretch and empty their bladders (Do Undead need to do that? They don’t seem to eat, so maybe not.).
After having cleared out the immediate area, I walk through some white light. I’m in what I assume is an old guard tower. I take the stairs up. There’s a narrow wooden landing, and then more stairs leading to the battlements at the top of the city’s massive fortress walls. Opposite that is an open doorway leading to a gap that was once completely bridged by some scaffolding that fell away long ago. On the other side of the gap is another guard building, one that I had searched before, and that had broken steps preventing me from getting to its upper level. If I can’t go there, then I definitely want to go there; that’s how treasure finding is done.
After my little move underneath the aqueduct, I am sure that I can make it across this gap. I back up a bit to get a running start, then jump. My feet nearly touch the wood on the other side. I wonder if maybe I can’t jump as far as I should because of my clothes, so I take those off and try again. This time it seems like I come a little bit closer. If I can just get a bit more distance to start up with, I should be able to build enough momentum to hurtle my body over the broken across the short distance.
I back up, then back up a little further. I run, jump, and still don’t make it. I try again, back up a little further, a little further. I’m half way up the stairs to the battlements now. Back up a little further.
The room shakes, the entire wall shakes, for all I know. I spin around just in time to see the massive, heavy shape of a dragon crashing over the battlements, close enough that I am buffeted by the wind its wings kick up. It roars, scrabbles for purchase, launches itself into the sky, and flies away, high into the sky.
I was not expecting that.
Cowed, I try to clear the gap a couple more times, and eventually decide that, even though it looks like it should be possible, and I’m definitely getting close enough that I should be landing on the other side, this whole jumping thing may be a little overrated. It’s probably meant to be done in specific places, where the game expects it.
Time to move on, outside, onto the battlements, where I just had my first ever dragon sighting. Maybe they’re like lightning, and never hit the same place twice? One can hope.
On the battlements, I get a better view. On my right, at the bottom of the wall, is the city, full of houses (sloped slate roofs, tall chimneys for warm fires) that looked like they must have been full of homey pleasure at some point. On my left, across another covered stone bridge, is a large stone fortress sitting at the top of a cliff. On the other side of that bridge, past the city below, is a the massive inner castle walls. I can only imagine the kinds of things people would be trying to keep out with walls like that.
I sally out onto the top of the battlements, and find myself confronted by another small gang of Undead. They’re as easy to deal with as any, but they’re being supported from range by another Undead with a crossbow. I see him up there, standing at attention, skinny, wasted arms frantically working the lever of his weapon. I hate him already. He’s also the only Undead so far that has taken more than one stab to kill.
On another rooftop I find a pair of Undead armed similarly to me: spears clutched in one hand, kite shields in the other. They take some work to kill, since they never want to lower their shields. On their rooftop I find a pile of old wooden boxes. Pushing them aside reveals stairs that go down to the building’s main floor, where I find a sad-looking fireplace that hasn’t seen use in centuries, and, behind a crude barrier of upturned tables, another Undead with an axe. He bursts through his makeshift ambush spot as I come near. I shove my spear through his throat.
There are two doors leading out from here, one on my left, another in front of me. I take the one on the left.
I find a ghastly looking Undead: smiling skull head stained black like bad blood, eyes like glowing orange embers. He doesn’t attack me, though, so I talk to him.
He tells me he’ll sell me his items for Souls. Strange place to run a shop, but I’m not up on current Lordran business trends, so who knows?
He has a small selection of goods: a few consumables, throwing knives (I’ve already found some of those), keys (I’ve got my Master Key, so no need for those) a variety of shields, some swords, and, most interestingly, a short bow and different types of arrows. I consider that, but I work out that I have to buy arrows individually, which would cost me a fair bit of Souls, and it’s not like I’m facing anything here that I’d be afraid to get into melee range with, and if I am, then chances are pretty good that shooting pencils at it won’t get the job done for me. He also has a set of chain mail armour, which I also consider, but after comparing its defence with that of my robes, and accounting for how much heavier the chain armour would be, I decide against it. Besides, it’s always better to take my new gear directly from the bodies of the enemies I’ve slain.
Since I don’t want to buy anything, I talk to him instead. He complains to me about a goat monster living below him, a bull monster living above him, and a drake flying all over the place. Drake? Dragon? Is the distinction relevant?
I try the other door. There is a short connecting hall, passing over the cobbled city street. I look down and see a fire raging.
I keep going. Stairs lead down to a rooftop alley. I kill some more Undead. At the end of the alley is a ladder, I climb it and end up on the roof of the guard building where I saw the drake. From up here I can definitely make the jump to the other building.
I clear the gap, landing in a tight roll. There are some stairs leading out to a narrow wooden balcony. I see a corpse slouched over the railing, and when I loot it I find a light crossbow and some bolts. Looks like I’m going to try some ranged combat out after all.
In another building, I find a wooden shield that offers better defence than the one I’ve been using. I return to the spot where I killed the Undead with the crossbow. When I make ready to move on, I hear the sound of small explosions nearby. I look up, searching for the source, and spot a pair of Undead chucking firebombs down at me
This seems like the perfect opportunity to use my new crossbow, only I can’t lock a target on either of them. Guess I don’t have enough range. Oh well.
As I search for a way to reach them, I find a bonfire inside an otherwise empty guard tower. I’ve found my new home.
I keep searching through buildings, looking for a way to the rooftops. I kill more Undead. In a chest, I find some black firebombs. I keep climbing, till I find a ladder that gets me to the roof behind the bomb throwers. I see there are 3 of them now, and when I get close enough to them they switch to using swords. They must still have some self-preservation instinct, no matter how primitive, if they don’t want to set themselves on fire along with me.
I find a locked door that opens to my Master Key, and inside is a chest with some Gold Pine Resin. It says it gives my equipped weapon lightning damage. “Very effective against dragon family foes.” Good to know.
As I’m moving and stabbing and moving and stabbing, I get a surprise when one of my enemies, after taking near-critical damage, pulls out an Estus flask and takes a swig, restoring his health. That’s an interesting development.
I finally come to a place where the path forks. To my right are stairs leading down to the city. To my left are stairs leading up to the cities inner walls.
I take the stairs going down.
I’m not yet half way when I see an enemy. This isn’t another sappy Undead fighter, it’s a tall, armoured knight of a type that looks quite familiar.
This must be the goat monster that the merchant told me about. This must be a cousin of the Black Knight. This must finally be a real enemy to test my spear on.
He has his back to me, but I know I can’t sneak up on him. When I get close enough, I leap toward him and thrust with my spear, landing a solid blow. He turns on me and starts slashing with his sword. Unlike the Black Knight, who swung his axe in single, ponderous arcs, this knight is in constant motion, slashing back and forth. The space is so narrow I can’t really dodge around him. He drives me back, down the street, past the stairs. Suddenly, I realize that my back is against open air, and below me is an endless fall to ground so distant I can’t even see it. I desperately try to roll past the knight, but for every swing I dodge, there is another swing waiting for me when I stop. Eventually, I die.
For whatever reason, I respawn all the way back at the Firelink Shrine. I quickly run to my corpse and recover it, then go to the bonfire nearby and rest. Hopefully this time it takes. I also have a Humanity, so I reverse my Hollowing. Finally, I look like a human being.
Feeling better, I decide to go after the knight again. I’m not sure if it’s the way I’ve been abusing their bodies with my spear, or just general anger now that I don’t look as hideous as they do, but the Undead on the battlements suddenly seem to be fighting with passion that they didn’t have the first time I came through. Maybe they were also stunned by the drake’s presence? The reasons are less important than the result, which is a stupid death on my part. When I respawn, I’m Hollowed again, ugly as ever. Oh well; at least this time I respawn at the proper bonfire.
Lesson learned, I no longer give the Undead any mercy, any opportunities. Once they have been dealt with, I am ready to face the knight again. This time I lead him up the stairs, onto the wall, where I’ll have more space to move around him. The fight ends up being easy enough, once I figure out that he has a telltale flourish he likes to perform after a series of attack. At first I thought it actually was another attack, but it didn’t hit me, so I use it as an opening to circle to his back and shove my spear through his chest. After a few of those he disappeared in a blast of white light, and I received a Titanite Chunk.
Behind where the knight had been standing, I find a Blue Tearstone Ring. It’s supposed to boost my defence when my HP is low. Normally I have no truck in berserker-type items, but since I’m only wearing the Darkmoon Seance Ring, I may as well have something on my other hand.
Back at the bonfire with 11000 Souls and another Humanity. I wonder if I should bother to reverse my Hollowing again. Do I gain Humanity while human? I decide I may as well reverse while I’ve got the chance. I also invest in another strength.
As I continue to fight the Undead soldiers, I notice something about their tactics: they use their shields while also attacking. If they can do that, maybe I can as well. And I can, though it puts a heavy penalty on my stamina recovery. Not something I would do all the time, but I’m sure it will come in handy.
I wonder if any of these Undead fellows are at all related to the ones back at the Asylum. I only start on that train of thought because, when I return to the forked path and attempt the stairs leading up, I am confronted with a large barrel rolling down at me. It’s also on fire, because why not. I find the dirtbag who pushed it at me and take no small amount of pleasure from puncturing most of his vital organs with the tip of my spear.
Past that guard and I’m inside the large, circular tower. There are stairs leading up, and in the far wall a locked door that opens to my Master Key. Behind it are stairs spiralling down. I descend, find an empty room, and more stairs leading down. I go down again, another empty room, more stairs. Down once more, and I run into a big fat knight with a massive hammer. He sees me and charges up the stairs after me. I try fighting him on this floor, using my spear, but I do very little damage, even with critical back attacks. I’d like to retreat to switch weapons, but he follows me up the stairs. Eventually, even though his attacks are pretty slow, I get caught out by how much range he has, and I die.
I return, determined to show him what a real clubbing is like. When he dies, he leaves behind Havel’s Ring, which nearly doubles my equip load, and makes me feel like I’m running around naked again. In fact, with my new weight capacity I’m able to wear some of the heavier armour that the Undead soldiers have been dropping.
I find another door on the floor the knight was guarding. Through it, and I’m in Darkroot Basin. Nearby is a large creature that looks to be made out of crystal of some sort.
I’m trying to fight it, doing next to no damage with my spear, when one of its buddies shows up. I may be stupid, but I’m not an idiot. I leave.
I run back up the tower (this armour is loud!). Up one floor, it’s full of empty wooden barrels. Up to the next floor, and there are more barrels. I break them anyway, and inside I finally find something: a small, slug-like creature with a shiny back. It’s so small, in fact, that I can’t hit it with my spear. I quickly open the item menu to switch to my club, which has a good vertical swing that allows me to hit such short targets, but before I can equip it, the creature disappears into thin air. I am disappointed.
The stairs leading to the next floor up are broken and impassable. There is a doorway of shimmering white light. I go through.
I step out onto the top of the wall. On either side are crumbling stone parapets, crenellations expanded tenfold by the ravages of time and weather. I see another tower ahead. I move toward it.
A crossbow bolt ricochets off the stone in front of me. Someone is shooting at me. I turn around, and spy the head of an Undead peaking out from above the roof line of the tower I just exited. I find a ladder leading up, and I kill both the crossbowman and his sword and shield guard.
By now I have another 10000 Souls and 1 Humanity in my pocket, and I’m down to my last Estus flask charge, with no more healing spells. I wonder if I should turn back and get all my loot to the bonfire?
Nah! Onward and upwards, and damn the enemy.
As I’m walking toward the next tower I get the distinct feeling that everything is too quiet: such vast, open spaces, with no enemies in sight, are not normal in Lordran. The only sound is the howling of wind through cracked stone.
Sure enough, I’m not half way there when a huge beast appears, jumping out of nowhere. It’s a Taurus Demon, and, I assume, the bull monster the shopkeeper complained about. He charges me, club swing. I try to roll to his side, figuring that I’ll have a much better chance if I can get behind him, or at least to his flanks. I seem to get stuck again an invisible wall. The game is preventing me from following my plan through. The demon takes advantage of my positioning by smacking me with it’s club, sending me flying into the endless sky outside the castle’s walls. I die.
If you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed a trend: I tend to die every time I find a new enemy stronger than cannon fodder. This happens because I am more than willing to throw a life away for a noble purpose, and what purpose is nobler than the acquisition of knowledge? The first time I find a new enemy is a chance to learn about them: their capabilities, their strengths, their patterns. As someone who plays a lot of competitive games, I’ve known for a long time that it takes a willingness to fail, to make mistakes and lose, in order for ultimate success to be achieved. So, I make this promise to all of the enemies I face: the first one if free.
When I return to the tower, club in hand, I find the little creature again, and when I kill it I get a Twinkling Titanine, and a Titaninte Chunk.
Now there is a decision to be made: I know I’m about to slaughter myself a giant demon cow, but how would I like it served up afterwards? Should I be carving chunks out of it? Filling it with holes so the blood drains and I can crack it open for some nice ribs? Maybe I’d like to tenderize the meat first.
In the end, I decide to give my spear another shot. I haven’t been giving it enough love, and my club got to kill Pinwheel and the Black Knight.
The fight ends up being enjoyable, but mostly because of the relative heights of me and the demon: as it is, my spear thrusts have only a few places to go, either into the empty air between its legs, its huge, furry kneecaps, or directly into its groin.
As for the demon’s tactics, they end up being as primitive as could be. It either tries to smash me horizontally off the walls again, something that I see coming now, and can dodge easily, or swings its club in huge, overhead arcs. Remember what I said before about swinging a weapon being much more likely to throw an opponent off-balance and leave them open? Well, the Taurus Demon swung for the fences, and every strike meant he was getting stabbed in the balls.
I pull my spear out of the beast’s body for the last time, feeling its life end as I do. Before me, it explodes into white light. I tap the butt of my spear against the cold stone, shaking excess fur and gore from the sharp, killing point. I consider the scene before me, and feel myself being transported through years. How many battles had these battlements witnessed? How many times had these very stones felt the rushing footsteps of soldiers, of the enemy? Or the impact of other poorly aimed attacks, like the ones the Taurus Demon swung at me? How much had they seen, through centuries, and how had they endured, long after the city they were built to protect had fallen into darkness and ruin? These walls still stand, I realize, because that’s what walls do. Just as I still stand, after every battle, because that’s what I do.
I walk to the next tower, no longer disturbed by the quiet around me: before, it had been a sign of danger, now it was a sign that danger had been conquered.
In the tower, I find more wooden barrels and boxes. I pull my club out, just in case, and smash them up. I find an Undead Soul on a hidden corpse. This is finally starting to pay off. There are windows on my right, overlooking the castle defences below. Out there I can see a gauntlet of messy Undead, armed with swords, shields, and crossbows. I assume that they’re next.
I find the stairs to the lower level. There is a door in front of me, but it’s locked, even to my Master Key. On my left is the bridge full of Undead, on my right are stairs leading down to a balcony overlooking the endless sky. There is also a man, dressed in green, with a blazing, many pointed star painted on the armour over his chest.
He calls himself Solaire of Astora, and says that I don’t look Hollowed (even though I definitely am), and says that he’s come to Lordran, now that he’s Undead himself, to emulate the Lord of Light. Or something. He has that same crazy laugh that everyone else I speak to has. I get the distinct impression that there’s not a sane Undead anywhere, possibly including me, since I literally escaped from an asylum.
Solaire asks me if I’d like to cooperate, seeing as how we’re the only non-Hollowed Undead around. I can think of no good reason not to, and he gives me a White Sign Soapstone, which I can’t use. He then mumbles some stuff about being unstuck in time, and our worlds only being intertwined at random. After a bit more weird laughing, he asks me if I’d like to watch the sun with him, and waxes poetic about its power and beauty. Which pretty much confirms he’s as crazy as the rest; I haven’t seen the sun once in Lordran, and it’s still hidden behind the clouds, even up here.
I figure that after a boss fight like I just had, there must be a bonfire nearby, though he also dropped a Homeward Bone, so maybe not. The only things standing between me and finding out are a few pathetic Undead.
I move out onto the bridge.
Suddenly, I am drenched in fire. The Undead before me melt away, and I’m driven back through the doorway. The dragon is back, and its sitting comfortably on the other side of this bridge.
That’s going to be a problem for me.
But, for once, I err on the side of caution. I’ve just taken down the Taurus Demon, and what I really want is a nap. And a big jar of horseradish.
I have a strong feeling that the drake will still be there when I return. It thinks that I’m scared, and I was, when I first saw it. I am still scared now. Fear is a natural reaction, something we’re born with. It’s part of our nature. What is important is not the fear itself, but how we react to fear. What makes us human is how we’re able to conquer our baser instincts, our primitive impulses and reactions. Every human knows that, in their hearts. As an Undead, I cling to that contradiction stronger than I ever did in my natural life, because I no longer have the luxury of natural humanity; I’m forced to earn it back, piece by bloody piece. Everyone else in Lordran may be crazy, and maybe I am Hollowed right now, but overcoming that is no different from facing the physical challenges I’m up against every day. No, fear is not a reason to retreat, to back down. Fear is a reason to take another step forward, to show everyone, everything, to show myself, that I may be small, I may be a pawn in this game, but I still make my own decisions, and I’m still master of my head and heart.
So, I expect the drake to still be on the bridge when I return. I want it to be on the bridge when I return. I want to feel my hands shake under its gaze. I want to feel my skin blister from its breath. I want it to hear my heartbeats, to see my eyes, and I want it to know that, in the end, it should have been even more afraid of me than I was of it.
I saw a dragon today, and that dragon saw me. I’ll see that dragon again tomorrow, and I’ll be the last thing it ever sees.