Dark Souls Diaries – Day 13
To: The Blighttown Tourism Board
To whom it may concern,
I have recently returned from a trip to your town–if we are calling a ramshackle collection of driftwood held together by old spit and luck a town now–and I have to say that I was thoroughly underwhelmed.
My first destination was your “famous” waterside, which turned out to be nothing more than a large swamp full of tapeworms the size of small ponies and mosquitoes the size of large cats. Oh, and a smell! I will admit, you’re definitely onto something with that smell, but I have two questions regarding it: how and also why. I suppose it’s unique, something to write home about, but not in a good way. You will find my dry cleaning bill enclosed, and you had better hope that’s the last of it, because I rather liked that gold-hemmed cloak, and if I have to burn (which won’t be easy, since it’s designed to resist flames) because I cleanse it of that stench, then I will be taking that up with the relevant authorities. It is one of a kind and not insured.
Not to mention that you have no boardwalk to speak of. How do you expect anyone to get around down there? You know the water is poisonous, right? And not a single warning sign. It is a debacle, and you can be sure I will be taking it up with Lordran’s Health and Safety Office. If there hadn’t been a bonfire–which is in an open sewer!–I may have had to give up on that part of my trip. Lucky I had my Rusted Iron Ring as well–you might consider at least selling those at a kiosk, along with plenty of purple moss, because I don’t see how, or why, anyone would see most of the swamp without them.
As for the natives of your town–and believe me when I tell you that I do not have a racist bone in my Undead body!–I have never met a less welcoming or less intelligent bunch of people in my life: they were wood-wearing wankers and hideous troglodytes to a man. I admit that I’m not from around these parts, and the customs in Lordran are both ancient and strange, but I should think the first reaction to a tourist shouldn’t be to either spit poisoned darts at them or try to club them about the head with–and I do not exaggerate here–a rotting corpse. You might say that I just happened to wander through the “bad” part of town, but I walked the length of your rickety old walkways and I never did find the “good” parts. Assholes from top to bottom, and their pets were just as bad; ugly rat-looking things that coughed fireballs at me, and not a leash in sight.
Maybe you keep those things around to help with your pest problem. News flash: it’s not working. Everywhere I went was to the accompaniment of the endless droning buzz of the bugs in your town. I’ve already mentioned the tapeworms, which apparently live on swamp water and Titanite Shards (If you were smart you’d be exporting them instead of letting them harass everyone who wanders by.), and the mosquitoes, but there are also those fire-breathing things flying around. At first I thought they were just bugs as well, but the longer I looked at them the less sure I became. No bug has such humanoid arms, or a head like that. You might want to get that checked out, and to tell the idiots who live there to stop drinking the water. I doubt they would listen, but it’s your civic duty.
You might also want to take a better look at your infrastructure. Some of those bridges, well I would swear they swayed on purpose, as if I was supposed to fall off.
But the worst thing about Blighttown, worse than the morons and maniacs that call it home, or the swamp mud that I will never clean out of my boots, or the nightmares I will have about that buzzing sound, or even the complete and utter lack of guard rails, is that, after I had finally walked the length and breadth of it, I could not leave. I could not get out. There was no escape and I was trapped. I found a door and it was locked from the other side and I had just climbed more ladders than should even exist and I had to kill so many and I had to feel so much pain and I just wanted to leave and I was just looking for a way out and I just wanted to go home and I just wanted to die, but I couldn’t die because I am Undead, and I understand the meaning of that curse more than anyone now.
Do you understand what you have done to me? Do you understand that in that moment I wanted nothing more than the dragon–a beast I hate more than the words of our greatest poets could capture, that I hate more than my Undeath, more than should be physically possible–to find me there, and to breathe on me Hell itself, to burn the flesh from my bones as I open my mouth to scream and have all the breath in my lungs consumed by the flames, to deny me my final expulsion of my rage, my pain, my dying curse. I wished that, the worst death I could imagine for myself, because it would mean Blighttown would go down with me. It would mean that nobody else would ever have to go through what I went through, and with that knowledge I could die peacefully. I could rest forever, knowing that I had done something good with my life.
Items to declare:
- assorted Undead Souls
- x1 set of pyromaner’s gear
- x1 poison mist spell
- x1 dragon scale
- x3 large Titanite shards, various
- x1 Server (curved sword, life leech)
- x1 green Titanite shard
- x1 plank shield
- x1 set of wanderer’s gear
- x1 whip
- x1 power within spell
- x1 Eagle Shield (high lightning resist)
- x1 Iaito, katana sword (bleed damage)
- x1 Humanity
- x1 set of shadow gear, which is basically ninja armour
- x1 set of Sealer’s gear
- x1 remedy spell
- x0 keys to New Londo
When I am God, you will be first against that wall.
Comment: Would not visit again. Extra star only because the tentacle monster at the top of the sewer shaft was kind of cute, and that one guy who was hiding in the barrel made me smile.
In New Londo I tried to give my Flame Embers to the caged blacksmith, but he wanted nothing to do with them. Figures.
The last couple of days weren’t a complete waste. I may not have found the key I was looking for, but I found a clue: the Sealer’s robes. Seems the guy I met on that rooftop in New Londo wasn’t the only survivor. There were two others, and they both left that place long ago. One of them went down to Blighttown and died, and hers are the robes I found, along with a remedy spell. Where the other one went I do not know, but could it be that they took the key with them? Alternatively, the old guy has long since gone senile, and maybe I can trick him into helping me by putting on the robes of a fellow Sealer. I think that’s a long shot; even if he was fooled by my disguise, the entire point of Sealers is to not open doors in New Londo. I have to believe that I will find the key when I am ready.
The guy at the bonfire says he heard me ring the second bell, and then tells me I have a new problem, a problem that makes a lot of noise, snores, and has dangerous breath. A dragon? Could it be?
“Maybe it’s time I do something about it,” he tells me, without moving.
I turn away from him.
There is a monster in the shrine.
I approach. It is possibly the ugliest beast I have encountered so far. I can hear it grinding its teeth. Nervous anticipation of a fresh meal?
It’s not hostile. He calls himself Kingseeker Frampt, says that he works for Lord Gwyn, and that he will tell me my destiny. I thought I already knew my destiny, that I’m supposed to be the saviour of Undead, but some clarification wouldn’t go amiss. “You must go to Anor Londo,” he tells me, “and succeed Lord Gwyn.”
That’s something new. I had already been planning a trip to see Lord Gwyn, partly because it’s fast getting to the top of my list of places to visit, and partly because I suspect Lord Gwyn of being responsible for halting my progress through the Demon Ruins.
I can feed Frampt items. He chews them up and converts them to Souls. That’s great. I give him all of the junk I’ve been hauling around, and surprisingly I get the most return from the huge pile of dung pies I’ve collected. He will also eat my copper coin for 1000 Souls, but I’m not sure about that yet. Could be that’s all the coin is good for, but 1000 Souls isn’t so big an amount that I can’t sit on it for a while longer.
He also has menu options for eating Titanite. While he can eat Titanite directly from the normal item menu (for very little return), that there is a separate option for each type of Titanite I have implies that it’s a different process with different results. Unfortunately, the only Titanite I’d be willing to spare would be the small shards, since I can just buy more if I need to, but I don’t have any of those. I suspect that feeding him lesser Titanite will get him to spit out better quality Titanite, or exchange it for a different type. So, I could give him Green Titanite and he might give me Red Titanite back. But I’m not sure. I will do some testing first, once I’ve bought some shards.
After speaking to him, hearing the way he grinds his teeth without end, I realize that he must be who the bonfire guy was complaining about, and also who I heard snoring when I last wandered through the shrine. That’s one mystery solved.
I check in with Andre on the way. He won’t take my Flame Embers, either. There has to be another smith somewhere. I also confirm for myself that Sen’s Fortress is open.
The onion knight is gone. Inside the fortress I find a pair of big lizardmen who take turns biting at me with their long necks and slashing at me with their big swords. Some statues fire bolts around the room. Must have stepped on a mechanism. I kill the lizardmen and pick up an Undead Soul.
I have been putting off the use of my last key for too long now. I return to the dragon bridge, and take another run at him for old time’s sake. Even with all of the fire resistance I have, I still die. Someday. At this point I figure that I will somehow draw the dragon away from the bridge, and have to come back later to get the items there.
I use my Basement Key to unlock the door on the far side of the bridge, and I enter the lower streets of Undead Burg. I figure this will eventually lead me to the other side of the door I couldn’t open in Blighttown. I know I have to get through Sen’s Fortress to make real progress, but I may as well exhaust my other options first.
I take some stairs down and I’m outside, next to the fire I’d seen in my first trip through the battlements of this old, rotted city.
There are large wild dogs running these streets. For the nostalgia, I pull out my trusty club and get to work on them. I soon clear the area, and start checking the doors. I hear a man calling for help, and find his door. It’s locked. I need a key.
I find a gate I can open to give me a shortcut back to the battlements above. I visit the shopkeeper there and buy the key he has for sale.
I return to the locked door and use the key. Inside I find a bunch of barrels and the man who was calling out. He says his name is Griggs, that he’s an aspiring sorcerer, and that he will return to Firelink Shrine to rest and plan his next move. Poor guy; he’s in for a rude surprise when he gets there.
There is a dead body inside a barrel. I break it open and loot the corpse. I find a set of sorcerer’s gear.
I search the rest of the street. I find a small mob of skinny Hollowed waving torches around near a dead body. I kill them and find Twin Humanities. Was this some sort of Undead lynch mob?
Further down the street a trio of doors are kicked open and I am jumped by bandits. They are weaker versions of the rogue I took down in Darkroot Garden. Much, much weaker, and they collapse after a single clubbing.
Inside their hiding places I find a mail breaker, which is a stabby little sword. Not very interesting.
Further down the street and I run out of paving stones and start walking over grass. More bandits come at me, and they die just as easily as the others. More dogs, more club work. Inside another bandit’s hiding spot I find a set of black leather armour, a buckler, and a thief’s mask. I can now cosplay as a rogue.
I see a doorway of white light.
I approach it, but see stairs leading down and away. I take them. At the bottom I find another paved back alley. I see a bandit directly in front of me, waiting patiently. There is a corner next to me. I wonder what is around it.
I take a step forward. Of course there is a bandit there waiting to ambush me, except it is frozen with, I assume, fear when I finally appear. Fine with me. I club them both and move on.
The end of the alley is blocked off by heavy iron bars. A dead body is trapped on the other side. I loot it for an Undead Soul. There is also a locked door. I guess I need yet another key.
There are also stairs leading up to another doorway. I step through it. I’m at the bottom of another of Undead Burg’s towers. The stairs spiral against the wall, leading upward. A Hollowed archer starts shooting arrows at me. I charge up the stairs and use the business end of my club to express my distaste for that sort of tactic.
I find a long, straight tunnel with ankle-deep scummy water. There is someone standing behind the bars to my right. It’s another Undead, this time a woman, from the sound of her voice if not how she looks.
She offers to sell me moss, and a few other items, saying that she needs my Souls. Also, the creepy, deranged laughing.
I look through her inventory. Mosses of all sorts, as well as various elemental damage arrows and bolts. She also sells prism stones, which look interesting. They are an item that can be dropped from a height to determine whether or not it’s too far to fall without dying. They are also pretty cheap, so I buy a bunch. She also has Humanity for sale. Well, a single Humanity: I buy it to see if there is more than one, but there isn’t. Still, Humanity is Humanity, and for 5000 Souls it’s a relative bargain. Finally, she sells curses, but for a much higher price than the guy in New Londo. I don’t need any more of those.
One thing I can say about the Undead in Lordran: it takes all sorts. The moss seller tells me that she’s actually happy to be hanging out in filthy sewers, selling hand-picked moss to passersby, much happier than she’d ever been in her real life. In the same breath she accuses me of thinking she’s Hollowed and crazy. I don’t know about Hollowed, but she’s definitely nuts, but I doubt that has anything to do with being Undead.
I run the length of the tunnel and unlock a metal gate. I’m back at Firelink Shrine, in the aqueduct I used to first enter Undead Burg. Another shortcut.
Down at the bonfire I find the sorcerer, Griggs. He offers to teach me spells, and I don’t refuse. He sells a few variations on the Soul Arrow spell, as well as magic shield and magic weapon, which actually seem like they could be useful. He then gives me his sob story, about how he came to Lordran with Big Hat Logan to learn the ways of sorcery from him, but at some point Logan ditched him to explore Sen’s Fortress and Anor Londo. Griggs thinks it was for his own safety, but I think it’s probably because he’s the type of idiot who gets himself locked in buildings without knowing where to find a key. Why would anyone want to bring along such a handicap while exploring a trap-filled fortress guarding the entrance to the land of the last living god?
As for Logan, I suspect I will run into him soon enough, or his corpse. Probably his corpse, since I keep seeing his hat pop up as an item in my loading screens.
The guy who usually sits next to the bonfire is gone. Seems his version of “doing something about it” is to run away, because Frampt is still peaking his big, ugly face out of the shrine.
Even though I didn’t rest at a bonfire, when I return to Undead Burg all of the enemies have respawned. Did I just wander too far, and that resets the spawns?
I go back to the doorway of white light that I’d passed by earlier. I step through.
It makes sense, even if it’s a little confusing. The key I used to get down here said that a Capra Demon and a bunch of dogs were terrorizing the streets. I figured that was just some flavour text, or that I would find a big old demon boss eventually, but it was pretty direct: here is a Capra Demon, and a bunch of dogs. I remember the way the shopkeeper put it: a bull above him, a goat below him, and a drake flying around. The bull was the Taurus Demon, that’s obvious, and the drake is the dragon, but I mistook the Black Knight for the goat, because his helm had horns that, frankly, look a lot more like goat horns than this guy’s.
The Capra Demon is something I am familiar with: I fought through plenty of them in the Demon Ruins. I called them bull-skull demons then, and I still think that’s a more apt description than goat-skulled. Maybe it’s just a case of the greatest trick the Capra Demon ever pulled being that it convinced everyone it looked more like a goat than a bull. In which case bull would still be more descriptive.
But I digress: the point is that I met a Capra Demon and his dogs, and I used my club for what I always use it for.
I recover a Humanity, a Homeward Bone, and a Key to the Depths.
This key must unlock the door in the alley below.
I realize now that I have been neglecting a pretty important mechanic in the game. I walk around Hollowed all of the time, and let Humanity build up in my inventory, even after I figured out the main purpose for it. Especially after I figured out the main purpose for it, because I’m always thinking that there will be a bonfire that I’ll want to Kindle at some point, only there never is. I’ve been doing just fine with 5 flask charges and 5 healing spells.
There was a point where I wondered about whether being Hollowed or not had any effect on my interactions with others. It seems like it should, but everyone I meet is quick to tell me that I’m not Hollowed, so how could reversing my Hollowed state change their opinion?
The other thing about it is the item drop rate. How many items have not dropped because my drop rate is at its lowest? Maybe there actually was a Black Knight Spear, and I didn’t get it because I killed the Black Knights and it didn’t drop. Even without that possibility, there is Frampt to consider. The junk items I pick up are no longer just things that clutter up my inventory, they are now an alternate source of Souls. With a higher drop rate I should naturally be earning more Souls.
So, before I enter The Depths, I return to the Undead Burg bonfire and spend 1 of the 21 Humanity I have saved up to reverse my Hollowing. I also spend some of my accumulated Souls on a point in vitality. Gotta protect that life.
Then I remember that it’s Humanity that determines item drop rates, not reversing my Hollowing. I use another Humanity.
Either way, I’m rewarded almost immediately, as a soldier drops a Titanite Shard, and the bandits drop a dagger and some leggings. And just not being Hollowed carries an extra thrill. Everything seems a little more dangerous.
The Depths are supposedly where people are banished to from Undead Burg. Who is doing the banishing and why is a total mystery to me, but one group of Hollowed scum is the same as any other if they’re all going to attack me on sight.
I pass through the door, down some stairs, down some more stairs. Scrawny Hollowed rush at me with their swords. I’m in some sort of basement. I hear the sound of a cleaver swinging. Below me I can see a butcher hard at work, and more torch-carrying Hollowed.
The next room down is a large, open dining hall, full of simple wooden benches and empty boxes and barrels. Below it is the kitchen, where the butcher works, guarded by more dogs. Maybe Undead eat after all, but if cannibalism is the current trend in Undead cuisine then I’ll keep to my Estus fast.
He does not look the friendly sort, so I doubt we’ll be swapping recipes.
I find stairs down to the kitchen and kill one dog. The other is loyal, and will not leave the cook’s side. I get close enough for them to notice me and the cook comes out swinging. The damage he does surprises me, and I take bad trades. Soon, I am dead, and thus ends my dalliance with being properly Undead, at least for now. However, when I return I have collected 2 Humanity. I kill the dogs and the cook, he drops his sack hood. It’s light, and goofy looking, but that’s about it. In a chest nearby I find a Large Ember. Is this the missing link I need to upgrade my weapons past +5? Maybe I’ll be able to use my winged spear again, if any blacksmith will take the Ember.
I check my status, and see that the increased item drop rate is not linear with more Humanity. I started at 100, then went to 150 with 1 Humanity, but with 2 I am only at 158. I wonder if reversing my Hollowing might actually have an effect, some sort of multiplier.
From here there are a number of ways to go. I could return to the dining area above and drop down to the halls that run around below it, I could jump down into the garbage hole behind the cook’s workstation, or I could go down into the flooded floor under the kitchen.
Of all the options, going into the water makes the most sense. There is no ladder down to the garbage hole, so if I drop down there I don’t know where I’ll be or how to get back, same with the halls outside the dining area. If I take the stairs into the water I know I can take those same stairs to get back out.
In the water I have to fight a couple of dogs. They move around freely, jumping back and forth. I am restricted severely by having to drag my legs around. Eventually I catch them and kill them. There is nothing else down here except for a crumbled ramp leading to the halls outside the dining area. That was simple enough. I am attacked by another Undead cook, and I give him no leeway. I beat him down quickly with my club, and gain another Humanity.
At the end of the hall are some stairs. I take them up to a large storage room, full of barrels and boxes. In the far corner I see a body stood upright in one of the barrels. I know what that means, so I start toward it, ready to smash it open. When I get to the centre of the room I am startled by a voice. A man calls to me, “You there. Help me. Get me out of here.” This is the first living body I have found inside a barrel, or at least the first one that wasn’t an enemy.
I break open the barrel, making contact with the man inside. He cries out, but seems to know that some pain was inevitable. He thanks me and says that his name is Larentious, of the Great Swamp, and that if I hadn’t saved him he would be “her supper.” None of the cooks I’ve met were woman, so I wonder who he is referring to. He tells me that he will not forget this debt. From the way his hand glows, and the background I remember, he must be a pyromancer. I leave him to it, figuring I’ll meet him again soon enough, probably back at Firelink like the Griggs.
Around a couple of corners I find a door. Behind it are more stairs, leading further down. At the bottom is knee-deep water. I see a loot corpse on my left, and walk toward it. When I am near, a huge blob drops down on me and starts digest me whole. I struggle and throw it off, then beat on it with my club till it dies. Bad enough that I have to wade through this stagnant flood, I do not need slime monsters trying to get into my helmet.
I see the lay of the land, and I put on my Rusted Iron Ring. Should make the rest of this more bearable.
The next room is lined with small doors. Have I found the old pantry?
I step out into another flooded corridor, wider than the last few. As I walk forward slimes start to drop from the ceiling. I hold my club in both hands and smash them all to bits.
There is a closed door and stairs leading further down. My master key opens the door. I see a long hall with a bonfire at the end. I light the bonfire, take a rest, and consider using one of the Humanity I’ve accumulated to reverse my Hollowing again. I have enough Souls to purchase another point of vitality, so I decide to use one of my to use the Humanity as well. I’m not getting a whole lot out of the extra item drop rate, as 3 Humanity has only increased it to 165.
I leave the bonfire and take the stairs down. I’m above a sewer now, and below me is the biggest rat I have ever seen.
That’s fine; what are clubs for, if not bashing rats?
In the next room I get a chance. There are 5 of the things, all trying to scurry away from me. I smash them up, and find a Humanity. There is a loot corpse as well, and I find a greataxe. It has decent stats, but requires 32 strength.
The water here is littered with dead bodies, and there are mounds of fleshy, congealed slime. Slime also oozes down the walls in slow-moving, sticky patches. Near the end of the hall I spy a rat small enough to almost be considered regular sized. When it sees me, it runs around the corner. Another big rat bursts from a wooden box nearby. I kill it.
Around the corner are more rats, all keeping their distance from me, and more slime. Looks like I have the rats cornered, which should be when they’re most dangerous. Past them should be the giant rat I saw before.
He’s there, behind some iron bars. He sees me, but can’t get to me. I make him watch as I smash the other rats, taking them all down with one leaping attack. I loot the corpse near the bars and find the Sewer Chamber Key.
It’s description is odd: “In any community, a few bad apples are sure to exhibit insatiable greed. If they were turned Undead, and banished to the Depths, would they reconsider their ways?” If they were turned Undead. Turned Undead. Not, “if they became Undead.” Turned seems very deliberate. Is there more to this curse than I know?
There is another tunnel underneath the sewers I just passed through. At the end is a body with an Undead Soul, and when it turns tail and flees it leads me to a doorway of white light. There is another branch, back at the mouth of the tunnel, leading further down. I descend and see a rat. When I move toward it, the rat retreats around a corner. I follow it, and find an open room full of large, glowing rats, and a wizard like the one I fought in the church back at the Undead Parish.
He, and all of his rat minions, fall to a single smack from my club.
Where the rat turned left, the tunnel also goes right. I take that path and fight another slime monster, turn a corner, and find a conspicuous hole, with a loot corpse on the other side.
Standing near the hole, I hear monstrous growling. Should I attempt to jump over it, or just take the fall and fight whatever is down there?
I figure better now than later, so I jump into the hole. I fall down to another sewer and am confronted with a large, bug-eyed toad monster. It breaths clouds of gas at me, which I avoid, and then I smash it in the eye. It dies. Around the corner are two more, and they both die, though one of them does get its breath all over me. A small bar start to fill, one that I haven’t seen before. It’s a skull, and I realize that it’s for a curse. It doesn’t take effect.
This sewer is a maze. Everywhere I turn are more of the curse toads, more horrid slime moulds, more rats hiding in boxes. I find bodies with Undead Souls, and behind another open hole I find a Humanity. I search for a way back up. I find a Ring of the Evil Eye: “Absorbs HP from fallen enemies.” I wonder how much; if it’s anything like Server, it won’t be worth the slot. I put it on; the water here isn’t so deep I need the Iron Ring.
I travel through the sewers, killing rats and toads. The amount of health I gain from the Evil Eye ring is best described in that way: an amount. Not enough that I can trade hits and come out ahead, but not so little that I don’t notice it.
I turn another corner, and a message flashes onto my screen: I am being invaded by the Dark spirit Knight Kirk.
He appears before me, a thorny shadow outlined in red. I wonder about his strength, but he’s not much of a threat in the end. I beat him down, and gain a fair number of Souls. From his corpse I recover a Humanity and his Spiked Shield. “Can be used as a weapon.”
I’ve known for a while that shields can be used for attacking as well as defending. As far back as when I first started upgrading weapons. I thought that I could upgrade a shield as well, and I would gain more defence by doing so. But I noticed that the only thing that increased with upgrades was the damage, like a normal weapon. I put a shield in my right hand and tested out the attacks. It was interesting, but not interesting enough to use. Still, this spiked shield does more damage than some basic weapons, and it might have different attack animations. I might test it out later.
I kill more rats, some larger and more willing to fight than others. I find more Humanity. I’ve come out ahead with those, so far, which is nice.
I come to a large chamber. At one end is an endless waterfall of putrid sewer water, at the other is a rusted iron gate and past that a solid set of metal doors. Looks familiar.
There are stairs leading up and out. At the top I find myself in a huge broken space. It is eerily quiet, and I can see a crack in the wall where blinding light shines through. Below are big, dark puddles. There are stairs leading down to the main floor.
This looks altogether too suspicious for my liking. I turn back for the metal doors.
As I get closer, I confirm that they are the doors leading to and from Blighttown.
They are also locked. I am forced to move on.
If this is a boss fight, I’m going to be really annoyed. I’ll have to run that entire maze again to get back here if I die. I should have gone through that white light when I had the chance.
On the floor below I find a heavy crossbow and some bolts, and a sign asking me if I’d like to summon Knight Solaire. Ugh. Boss fight it is. I wonder for only a moment why I see his sign here. I remember my first fight with the gargoyles, and how he assisted me then as well. I had reversed my Hollowing so that I could Kindle the bonfire there, and when I died and returned his sign was gone, but I was also Hollowed again. This is the first boss since then that I have approached without being Hollowed, and also the first summoning sign I have found. So I have to reverse my Hollowing in order to summon spirits. I wonder how many I have missed, how many fights I have been taking on alone when I could have had help. Oh well.
Down the next set of stairs and there is a doorway of white light I have to pass through to get to the main floor.
On the other side is a cutscene. I see a small, reptilian head poking up out of the chasm at the other end of the room. An alligator boss in the sewer level? Why not.
Then the body starts to emerge. Alligator, alligator, what the holy hell?
This monster seems to have replaced its chest with just more teeth. It’s entire torso is masses of curved fangs, large and small, and it flies up on leathery wings, before landing in front of us.
It just figures. The one time I don’t want a boss, and it’s the kind of boss I hate the most.
The dragon launches itself into the air, then lands, facing Solaire, who paces slowly in front of it. I don’t want his heroic sacrifice to go to waste, so I circle around to the dragon’s backside, without targeting it, and start smashing at its tail with my club. Soon enough, the tail drops off. I pick up a Dragon King Greateaxe.
Solaire, as brave as he may be, is also not very bright. I watch as he gets worked over by the dragon, and eventually he dies. Now it’s just me and this enormous mass of teeth and awful.
I’ve played enough Doom in my life to know that the proper response to a hideous monsters is circle strafing. Without a tail, it is unable to defend itself from the rear, and I very carefully establish openings, and lay into it with my club. I switch to a 2-handed grip when I find I can’t block its attacks. It manages to grab me a couple of times, and tosses me into its teeth, but I struggle free. I struggle so hard that I accidentally switch the items in my hotbar, and then find myself pulling out a pair of binoculars instead of my Estus flask. I get a really nice closeup of its face before I dodge away.
The desire I have to keep my Humanity intact helps to curb my bloodlust. This abomination, descended directly from the most ancient of dragons, is a living testament to how very far Lordran has fallen. There is no part of me that doesn’t want to feel its teeth and bones splinter and break with every delicious impact of my club, but I force restraint. I watch and I wait. I discover that its bark is much worse than its bite, and for all of its grotesque shaking and strutting, it is almost always vulnerable, and much too slow to keep track of me while I circle around it. I have discovered its weaknesses, and my Humanity is now safe. I move in for the kill.
When all is said and done, it was no match for my club. The same club that has seen me through my worst days in Lordran. It feels appropriate that the most primitive of human weapons has been used to destroy the most ancient of humanity’s nightmares. I feel the dragon’s final, putrid breath wash over me, hot with its own desperate hate for the living, and I know that I have done my good deed for the day.
I find the key to Blighttown, 20000 Souls, and a Humanity. I check out the Dragon Axe and find that it requires 50 strength to use. There is a corpse in the room, and I loot it to find a set of standard armour.
I return with my key and unlock the way into Blighttown. I never did find the way back up through the sewers, so I use a Homeward Bone to get back to the bonfire.
I stare at the Level Up screen for a long while. I have enough Souls to buy 2 points, but I’m less sure than ever what to aim for. Every weapon I find has been a strength weapon, except for the Iaito, which is interesting, as the bleed damage it does seems to make it quite powerful. I wouldn’t put it past a Japanese developer to make the only Japanese weapon secretly amazing. I might also be able to switch back to spears, if I can get someone to upgrade my winged spear again. In the end, I choose to get 1 point in endurance and 1 point in dexterity. Would be nice if I could find a respec somewhere, but if not I can live with what I have.
From the bonfire I search the paths I hadn’t taken before. I return to where I killed the wizard, which overlooks the chamber where I fought the Gaping Dragon, and there I find rats in boxes, and a large Titanite shard, and the other side of the doorway of white light.
I cross over the hole I’d fallen through earlier, and find the entrance to the room with the huge rat. It comes at me with startling speed, knocking me back into the corridor. I get out into the open and fight it. I see its milky eyes; this rat died long ago. I also see what killed it, as there is still an axe stuck into the side of its head. When it dies I pick up a Humanity, and a nearby body gives me an Undead Knight’s Soul. Was he the one who put the axe into it?
From here I can follow the water down to the room leading out to Blighttown, but there’s something else I want to figure out. There is a ladder in a room I just passed through. It was covered with boxes before, but I can see it from here. I return to the other room and climb down the ladder. There is a door there, but it says it only opens from the other side. Where is that?
I search around for a bit. A slime I kill drops a Green Titanite Shard.
I return to the kitchen and drop down the garbage chute. I land on a pile of old, discarded bodies. How long had these chefs been at this? Who were they cooking for, besides themselves? There is still some dark purpose that motivates their actions, more than most Hollowed or Undead I’ve encountered. Who is, or was, this “she?”
Here I find another Spider Shield, and I can drop into the huge rat’s lair, but nothing else. I slide down with the water, fall into the sewer below, and eventually get to the room leading out to Blighttown. In there I find stairs leading back up to the door I couldn’t unlock. I unlock the door from this side. It was just another shortcut. I return to the bonfire. Something, probably the slimes, or the pools of bile the Gaping Dragon let out, has corroded my talisman. I repair it.
I’m calling it a day. Though I didn’t accomplish much, I did learn a few things. I was also able to kill yet another dragon. Again, not the one I want, but it’s progress. I have also satisfied any curiosity left over about alternate routes that I’ve been skipping. I’ve used all the extra keys I’ve picked up, and the only place left to go is Sen’s Fortress. I’ll feel better tackling that hellhole if I don’t have the feeling that I’ve left something important behind.
Eventually I will find the key to New Londo. Could be that whoever had it thought hiding it in Sen’s Fortress would be a good way to make sure it was never found. One can hope.
Beyond that, I’m soon to have a conversation with a god. A conversation that I don’t think will end with peaceful abdication. I should be prepared for that.
At the same time, what dragon would dare stand before me when I have acquired the powers of a god? That scaly bastard has no idea what’s coming.