Dark Souls Diaries – Day 23

I can hear the moans and the mutterings coming from Oolacile. I can hear the distant screams, and I can feel the still air of disaster that has come and gone without resistance. All of that does nothing but draw me in, makes me eager to discover the fresh horrors the Abyss has unleashed on this place.

However, I have a ravine to explore.

As I leave the bonfire, heading back toward the arena in which I killed the Artorias of legend, I find some stairs that lead up to a balcony running around upper tier of the tower. The tower is lined with curious statues, each holding a branch-like catalyst, which I think is the same as the one Dusk and Elizabeth sell, but also each missing its head.

statues 1

Not entirely sure what to make of that right now.

There is a bridge crossing to the next tower over, and I can hear the sound of metal scraping against something rough. Blades being sharpened? Probably not. There is also a thick metal door, but it’s locked.

tower door

I leave the towers and talk to the man in the black hat. He calls my killing of Artorias an act of treachery, which I take as a reflection of his own personality more than an actual comment on something I’ve done.

Then he tells me something much more interesting and relevant. Oolacile, he explains, doomed itself with the Abyss by digging up the grave of “primordial man,” and all at the behest of a “toothy serpent.”

It’s not that I’m at all surprised that Kaathe was involved in Oolacile’s destruction. I met him in the Abyss. That appears to be where he lives. Besides that, I already know that he was involved in New Londo’s destruction, which was instigated by their dalliance with the Abyss. It makes sense for them to be connected by the only being I know that could have connected them.

What is surprising to me, though, is that nobody bothered to mention any of this as part of the legend of the great Artorias the Abysswalker. I mean, as long as we’re making stuff up about how he did such a great job fighting off the Abyss (even though in both recorded cases of the Abyss becoming manifest those places were destroyed anyway, and everyone who lived there still died, so good job?), why not mention that if a big ugly snake shows up outside your window one day, tells you that if you just do what he says then you’re sure to get some sort of ultimate power, and then hangs around there grinding his teeth until you get so sick of the noise that you agree to go digging around in places nobody was meant to go, that maybe–just maybe–you shouldn’t listen to him.

I’m really starting to question the basic sense of priorities in Lordran. What possible good is a legend if the only thing it does is cover up the fact that a supposed hero didn’t actually do anything, and manages to leave out any sort of cautionary advice that could keep it from happening again in the future. At the very least, someone should have included the part about the Abyss and said that if it happens again Artorias the Brave and Good won’t be around to save them.

As for Kaathe, well, I never really trusted him. The main difference I see between me and Artorias, or the Four Kings, or whoever started this mess in Oolacile, is that Kaathe hasn’t asked me to do anything aside from kill Lord Gwyn, which I wanted to do anyway. He has yet to mention anything about the Abyss, or the spreading of it, and it’s quite possible that everything having to do with that dark place was an unintended consequence of his desire to bring about the Age of Man. I’m all for an end to oppressive stewardship of the gods, but I really do hope that the Age of Dark is just a metaphor for the snuffing of the Flame that gives the gods their power, and not a more literal foretelling of the entire world being turned into a sunless void.

This seems to be the fundamental problem with Lordran and everyone in it. They’re all a bunch of assholes, so choosing sides is largely a futile effort to be less of a jerk than the other guys. Personally, my mind was completely made up when I got to Anor Londo and actually interacted with the gods. As far as I’m concerned, letting every human be their own asshole is infinitely preferable to being lorded over by those whiny, conceited, self-appointed deities. If Kaathe helps me do that, then I’ll let him, but I don’t think I’ll remain a Darkwraith. If he doesn’t like that, he can screw off just like Frampt did. I can do the rest of this on my own.

Anyway, back to the task at hand. I’m headed down into the ravine, via the ramp across the bridge from the man in the black hat.

I find only a trickle of water down there, but there are also piles of cut and smoothed logs lying around. Someone had obviously been down here with the intention of building something. There are also a few wild dogs, which are fast enough to be annoying while I try to smash them with my slow sword, but not really dangerous.

ravine 1

I find a body with a Brave Warrior’s Soul, and then head down the ravine, toward where Darkroot Basin will be in the future. As I come to the end of the area, I discover the use for the logs: they were building a large gate, though I’m not sure why, unless they planned to expand this into a road leading to and from where Undead Burg is (or will be?). There are also big holes in the rock walls, product of the Abyss below.

ravine gate

I step through the gate. Immediately, I hear a roar, and that black dragon flies past, from my left to my right. I must be getting closer to its territory. I also hear the telltale sound of a crystal lizard somewhere nearby.

I step to the edge of the cliff and look down into the basin just in time to see a light go out somewhere below. The crystal lizard is gone. There is a ladder here, and I use it to get down to the basin, which is pretty empty at this time. There is no lake, but instead a shallow puddle. I can, however, see some bodies and a message inscribed near them.

ravine bed 1

The only sound down here is the rush of water from the waterfalls.

ravine bed 2

I start toward the lake-puddle, but don’t see any bodies back there, so I turn around, just in time to see that the black dragon is headed my way, flying low over the ground. It breathes black flames all over the ravine, which I manage to block, but not without taking a lot of damage.

dragon 1

Once he’s gone, I quickly heal, and then run toward the bodies. I read the message: “A dragon in the sky, invisible to the naked eye.” What is that supposed to mean? I saw him pretty clearly; in fact, I’m pretty sure he’s doing everything he can to make sure that I don’t miss him. Actually, I can see him right now, coming back for another strafing run.

I survive that one as well, but barely. My health low, I climb back up the ladder to heal and think about what to do next. Am I going to have to run all across the basin while the dragon tries to fry me? I slide back down the ladder, and run to the bodies, where I recover a trio of Undead Souls. The dragon comes and goes. Is this fire, lightning, or magic damage? What should I be trying to resist? I run toward the end of the basin, and I can see there is another message there. I get close: “If only Hawkeye were here.” There is a body nearby with a few Gough’s arrows. The Hawkeye from the message is obviously Hawkeye Gough, who I know to be one of Gwyn’s Four Knights.

The dragon comes in again, and, as I’m now near the start of its flight path, it hits me with its breath both when it enters the basin, and again when it leaves. I’m almost dead, so I run back to the ladder and climb out.

So, I find a message mentioning the most famous archer to ever walk Lordran, a pile of his arrows, and all while a dragon is flying around above me. Am I meant to shoot it down? I do have bows, though I never use them, and also some arrows, though not many. I’m out of healing spells, but I do have flask charges. Might be worth a try, to see if I can hit him. If so, I could always go and get some arrows if I need them.

I equip the Black Bow of Pharis. It has low damage, but none of my bows are upgraded, and I don’t have a lot of dexterity, so that hardly matters. It does have the longest range of all of my bows, and since I just want to see if I even can shoot the dragon, that’s all I really need now. I also switch out the Greathshield of Artorias for the Black Iron Greatshield, as the latter has better fire defence. Preparations complete, I climb back down the ladder and wait for the dragon to return.

Soon enough, it does. I figure the best chance I’ll have is to block its breath, and then shoot it in the back as it flies away. That should give me the longest opportunity to line up a shot without having to worry about taking damage.

So, I block its breath. The first tick removes all of my stamina, and the second tick kills me dead. Oops.

I respawn back at the Oolacile bonfire and equip the Greatshield of Artorias once more. As I’m headed back to the ravine, I go through the Artorias arena, and see that there is someone huddled over a small grave. That was fast.

grave 1

I know this is the spot on which I killed Artorias, but in my time his grave is massive, and all the way on the other side of the forest. Yet more warping of the legend?

I talk to the dark figure, who turns out to be a woman. She asks if I could give her the Soul of Artorias that I picked up after the fight. I shrug mentally, and decide that I probably wasn’t going to use it anyway (I don’t know what it’s supposed to make, but it’s probably just another sword, since he didn’t have his shield on him, and I’ve already got the Dragon Greatsword, so I don’t need another weapon). I know that if I tell her no just so that I can go check to see what the Soul makes, she’ll either leave, or be like Petrus, the cleric in Firelink Shrine, and refuse to talk about it again. So I give her the Soul of Artorias. In turn, she gives me a pair of blades, the Dark Silver Tracer (a dagger that does toxic damage), and the Gold Tracer (a curved sword that does bleed damage). I’ve traded the potential for making a weapon that I probably won’t use for two weapons that I definitely won’t use.

The description of the blades tells me that they belong to Ciaran, who was one of Gywn’s Four Knights. I assume that’s her hunched over the grave. If she wants his Soul and is giving up her blades, then I also assume that means she’s retiring. I remember that I found a body with her ring behind his grave in my time. Whatever their relationship was or wasn’t is none of my business, and now that she’s put down her weapons, I guess she’s not a threat, even if she does work for Gwyn. Now the only one of the Four Knights that I haven’t met is Hawkeye Gough.

I don’t bother to reverse my Hollowing. I’m probably going to die a bunch before I get a real shot off against this dragon, as I have no experience using bows. Could be this isn’t even a fight that I can win. I put on some armour with better fire resistance, though I’m not sure that it’s fire that I’m actually resisting (my gut tells me it probably isn’t since the drake in Undead Burg did fire damage and the drakes in Valley of Drakes have lightning breath). To cover my bases, I also put on the Speckled Stoneplate Ring, which has fire, lightning, and magic resistance, though they’re all on the low side.

I climb down the ladder, bow in hand, and I also have my throwing knives selected. The dragon comes around, but I can’t get a target lock, which rules out the throwing knives. I run to the back of the basin, thinking that maybe I’ll get hit less there. That doesn’t work out well, and somehow I get hit even more, and then I die again.

Back at the grave, the woman is gone. She has left behind only a single flower and a tassel, which was probably recovered from the dead knight’s helmet. It kind of looks like a dead slug.

grave 2

After a couple more attempts, I am convinced that this is not going to do me any good. Aiming and firing the bow takes too long, so even when I survive the dragon’s breath, trying to hit it on the way out is futile. I try different tactics, like trying to wait on the cliff above, but the dragon will only come if I’m standing on the ground where it can hit me with its breath. Maybe I really am supposed to find Hawkeye Gough. Not that I think it’s impossible to shoot the dragon, but more that it’s so obviously impractical that I’m probably not supposed to.

I see the crystal lizard again. It’s sitting on a ledge part way down the waterfall, which I notice as I’m sliding down the ladder. I quickly climb back up, and see that I can drop down from ledge to ledge in the waterfall, but by then the crystal lizard is gone. Maybe I can get it if I kill the dragon.

I’m a bit annoyed that I was teased with the dragon multiple times, only to run into a dead-end like that. Even waiting around like I did with the drake, hoping it will land, does no good. Why taunt me like this unless it’s just to reinforce that dragons really are the absolute worst things?

I take my Souls (I recovered my body each time the dragon toasted me, so I didn’t lose anything except for some time) to the man with the black hat. I buy 2 more Humanity, and he still has more. Now I’m wondering how much I should be investing in this, considering that I really need to get to 50 strength to use the Dragon Greatsword. Do I actually need so much more Humanity, especially if I’m not going to donate it to Kaathe’s Darkwraith fund?

I go back to the bonfire and reverse my Hollowing. Time to move on.

Oolacile Township

I’m still not quite sure what kind of time travel I’m dealing with. I know for certain that I’m too late to save Oolacile–it will never be there again when I go back. I’ve killed Artorias, which preserved his status as a legendary hero, but since he was already dead and a legendary hero in my time, did I actually change anything? The problem with that is that a legend needs to be propagated, and there’s nobody left to do that. Not to mention that I probably would have noticed if the Abyss had spread all over Lordran when Artorias was unable to stop it.

Again, it’s time travel and magic, so I’m not going to think about it too hard.

What is relevant to me, though, is not that I’m too late, but how late I actually am. At some point in the past, Oolacile collapsed, it was broken and fell into the Abyss below. The buildings are all at odd, disjointed angles, where they’re still standing at all these years later. Man-made structures have a tendency to settle over time, often sinking partially, especially when foundations haven’t been properly built. This is why in the real world many modern (last 50 years or so) brick houses are wracked with pressure cracks, long breaks in the masonry joints that appear when one part of the house sinks even a tiny amount. Other times, buildings are knocked about by earthquakes, or other geological disasters. What happened to Oolacile is more than mere settling, and even if it was an earthquake, what’s important is that whatever did cause the city to collapse wasn’t a recent occurrence: there is no sign of further movement, only signs that this happened a while back, and everything is the way it is, and will stay that way. I probably won’t have to worry about a building falling over suddenly as I try to cross through it.

More evidence that whatever happened here was not recent: there has been enough time for weeds and moss to start growing out of the stones and up the walls. Did Artorias also come here too late, or has he been wandering around for years? Or maybe he lost long ago, but only recently fell completely under the control of the Abyss.

Anyway, from the bonfire, I climb down a few short steps and run into the first Oolacilian. He is not a pleasant chap, either in appearance or temperament. His head is covered in by a chaotic chitinous shell studded with red orbs that I take to be eyes, while his arms have been elongated to gross proportions, now nearly double the entire length of his body, and ending in hands like clawed frying pans. I recognize him immediately as the same type of creature that Artorias killed and threw at me in his intro.

abyss hollow 1

I block his swipe at me, then chop him down. There are more stairs, and I can see 4 more of the bloat heads standing in a small courtyard below. My experience in the Royal Wood tells me that they’re going to rush me in groups. I get close enough to attract the attention of the first pair, who rush up the stairs at me. Seeking a means to fight them with more of an advantage, since my weapon is slow enough that I’m likely to be interrupted repeatedly if they get close, I step onto the corner of a nearby roof, where I also loot a body for an Undead Soul

abyss hollow 2

They jump at me, clawing for the wall next to the stairs, and giving me the time and space needed to drop my sword onto their heads. They’re tough enough to take 2 hits to kill, but in this position they ‘re not very menacing, and having bolstered myself with that victory, I run down the stairs and take down the other pair as well. One of them drops a large titanite shard.

I still hear the screams in the distance. Is that meant to invoke an urgency in me? I don’t see how any human could still be alive in this place.

Past those guys is an elevator shaft, but the platform is at the bottom, and I can’t activate it from here.

oolacile elevator 1

I get an even better look at the fallen city from there. I wonder how far down I’ll be going. All the way to the Abyss, I suppose. I realize that heading in this direction is also heading toward where New Londo is in my time.

oolacile 3

I look at one of the bloated Undead for a while, watching its jerky, convulsive movements. These guys are not the Hollowed that I know from my time, which are characterized by silence and slack limbs. In Oolacile, aside from the heavy body distortions, there is also constant motion and garbled muttering and bellowing. I don’t think these are actually Hollowed at all, at least not in the sense that I know them.

Down stairs and around a corner I see something new: there is a bloat head mage, along with a normal bloat head as a bodyguard. I charge in, and the mage blasts at me with balls of black energy. I kill the bloat head quickly, and see that its body has an item to loot, but I’m unable to get to it before he falls over the edge, into the void below. I turn and attack the mage, who prods at me with her ugly wand, which does heavy poison buildup even through my shield. Still, she dies easily enough, even after trying to float away from my attacks.

abyss mage 1

Another corner, another of the bloat heads. I grip my sword in both hands and hit him with my jumping attack, smashing his body with such force that I get an overkill bonus. I pick up another Undead Soul from a nearby body.

After that, the path gets a little more maze-like. It diverts around a building, up some stairs, then down some stairs, where I have to jump down to a lower ledge. I find and kill another mage, then continue, down more stairs, into more buildings, until I find a room where I am blasted by a pair of mages. I back out and see a crystal lizard on a roof in the distance. Not something I can reach from here, and soon it disappears. I can hear the mages inside laughing at me. I step back through the doorway, drop off the ledge and smash my sword into one of the mages, killing it, then roll forward, underneath another magical blast, and kill the other.

There are 3 chests in this room, 2 of them already opened. I find that to be suspicious.

oolacile chests

However, it’s not a mimic. Inside, I find a dark orb spell, which does both magical and physical damage, and I assume it’s also what the mages have been attacking me with. I decide to try out my Crest Shield for a bit, to see if its high magical resistance helps at all.

I explore a bit more, finding mostly dead ends and dead drops. After some backtracking, I end up on a ledge with a message. I read it: “Let there be light,” and a dramatic drum beat starts up, but nothing else happens, except that a bloat head rushes me from behind.

oolacile message 1

I make my way back up, finding another Undead Soul. After I’ve finally returned to the main path, and start down the stairs, I am invaded.

Marvellous Chester appears on the roof behind me. I turn to face him, and recognize that he is the man in the black hat.

marvellous chester 1

He fights with a crossbow, sometimes throws out a trio of darts, and when I get closer he tries to sweep my legs out with vicious kicks that knock me back. The problem for him is that he’s only got short range and long range covered, so I have an easy time standing outside of his kick range and smashing my sword over his head until he gives up on life. I get 9500 Souls, but no items or anything else.

That done, I cross over a narrow plank bridge connecting two high rooftops. I resist any urges to look down, and make it across safely. On this rooftop is nothing but a single chest.

oolacile chest 1

Predictably enough, it turns out to be a mimic. Unfortunately for it, my Demon Machete is heavy enough that I can slap the mimic around without it being able to fight back much (not that it would make much of a difference, since the only dangerous aspect of a mimic is the possibility of it eating me before I figure out what it is–after it’s been discovered they’re more ugly than threatening). I kill it and recover a “Very Good!” carving, which, upon examination, turns out to be a piece of an archtree that has been whittled down by Hawkeye Gough to look like a jovial face, though all I see are some rough grooves. It can also speak, which I expect is what would happen if I used it. Not very exciting, but it does tell me that Gough is imprisoned, which is, for my purposes, better than him being dead.

The further I get into the city, the deeper it has sunk, which isn’t much by itself, but I find that everything here is tilted at increasingly odd angles, creating an unsettling feeling of everything being just that extra bit wrong only enhanced by the constant, disturbed chattering of the corrupted citizens.

I fight off a couple more of the bloat heads, and can see that across a narrow stone bridge is another of the mages. I’m going to have to charge her across the open space in order to make any progress. She throws a dark orb at me, which I block with my Crest Shield. I take minimal damage, but my stamina is completely drained. That isn’t going to work. She throws another dark orb, and I roll under it, fall off the corner of the building, and die.

I respawn at the bonfire and switch back to my greatshield, then reverse my Hollowing. Taking damage but keeping my stamina is much better than not taking damage, but being left totally vulnerable. Attrition has never been much of an issue for me, as I find my few flask charges and my 5 healing spells are almost always enough to get me from one bonfire to the next. So, forward progress is paramount.

Fighting the bloat heads is ever so slightly annoying as, like the scarecrows before, I am doing almost enough damage to kill them in 1 shot, so that I imagine that another point or two of strength would be enough to put me over the top again. I could also upgrade my weapon to +11, but that would require a bunch of backtracking to the blacksmiths, and I’d rather stay in Oolacile until I’ve seen my mission through to the end.

On my way back, I hear and see the crystal lizard again. It’s on a rooftop somewhere below, and I could get down to it, just not in time to get the kill. Maybe I could get it with a bow? I’m not really concerned: I have little need for more titanite at this point.

oolacile crystal lizard

I’m back that the bridge, body recovered.

abyss mage 2

This time I make it across without difficulty, and I cut the mage down in a single hit. She drops a green titanite shard.

I’m about the enter a building. The stone floor here is marked by the same crawling, chaotic taint as the arena where I fought Artorias. The spread of the Abyss, and it means I’m headed in the right direction (really, the only direction).

tainted ground

Inside the building, which is trashed, but not in the same sort of post-cataclysm calm as the rest of Oolacile, I find bloat heads prepared to leap down on me from the rafters. They land with heavy thuds, and then I squish them with my sword. I find a body holding a piece of rubbish. Now I have two bits of rubbish, and still don’t know what I’m supposed to do with them.

A set of stairs leads down to the floor below, a large room with thick stone pillars and a fireplace at the far end. I can see the glow of the bloat head’s red eyes in the gloom, and all around I can hear the hiss of the spreading Abyss.

oolacile interior 1

I can tell immediately that this room will be the greatest challenge yet. There are at least half a dozen of the bloat heads down there, and a couple of mages as well. Chances are very good that most or all of them will attack me at once, so I’ll have to be decisive with my actions, or figure out places I can fight without being blasted by the mages.

I’m not half way down the stairs when I attract the attention of a mage below me. She starts hurling dark orbs, but when those miss she also throws a cloud of toxic mist, which I have to retreat from to avoid becoming poisoned. Once she stops, I make my move. The fight is going well, and I’ve managed to kill most of the bloat heads, as well as the mage below the stairs, but it ends in a draw when I bring my sword down on the last mage at the same moment she lets loose with a dark orb.

The bloat heads inside, with their eyes lit up in the dark, are stronger than the others, and worth more souls. I don’t feel so inadequate having to use two attacks to kill them.

I return, and this time my assault goes better, as I have my opponents mapped out in my mind. I drop from the stairs onto the mage below, quickly kill her and the bloat head next to her, then take cover behind the pillar there, waiting out the other mage’s magical assault. From there, I move in and out of cover, killing the bloat heads as they come, until finally it is just me and the last mage. I run, dodge through a dark orb, and finish the job.

My haul is not bad. I’ve collected 2 Humanity and plenty of Souls. There is also a body from which I loot the Dark Fog spell, which I assume is the poison mist the mages have been throwing at me. From the last mage, I also pick up a Sorcerer’s Head mask, which tells me that the Oolacilians I’m fighting are not Hollowed (which I guessed already), but rather are the result of wild, corrupted Humanity. The mask itself is all kinds of ugly.

sorc mask

The main entrance to this building has long since collapsed into the darkness below. Across the chasm I can see more of the headless statues of Oolacile’s sorcerers.

oolacile statues 1

I find some stairs, and climb up into the rafters. I find the places where the bloat heads were dropping down from, and also another floor above the room I just fought through. As with the city outside, the off-kilter angle of the building adds a sinister look to the place, as if even the architecture here has been driven insane by the Abyss.

oolacile fireplace

I roll down from my perch, making it over the short banister and landing safely near a lit fireplace. There is also a chest, which is another mimic. I kill it and pick up a Crest Key. It opens a door that was sealed with a powerful spell. So far, I’ve only found one locked door, but I’m not ready to backtrack that far to find out whether or not this key opens it.

oolacile mimic 1

I find a balcony overlooking a roof. I could drop down to that roof; ever y part of me says that I should drop down to that roof, but if I did, how would I get back?

oolacile roof 1

I decide to play it safe, as I haven’t found a bonfire yet, and it would be a pain to have to clear that big room out again if I died to something stupid. Instead, I find a ladder, which I take down to a wooden walkway above the main hall. There is a rope here, but nothing handing from it. I realize that it must have been holding the body I found, the one with the Dark Fog spell. Not sure how it was cut, because I didn’t do it.

I circle back around, trying to get back to the fireplace where I killed the mimic, but I miss the jump (which happens because I actually jump this time, which causes me to bump my head against the ceiling and fall to the floor below like a Loony Tunes character). I land on my feet, but almost die. I have to be careful. I heal up, then run the route again, return to the balcony, and drop down to the roof, where I find a body holding Twin Humanities. I then drop down from the roof and cross a short stone bridge onto what looks like a collapsed building. I’m now near the headless statues, and I can see that I’ll be running another gauntlet of bloat heads and mages if I want to get through.

oolacile statues 2

Behind me is a doorway lit by a glowing magical lamp. I go that way, and find an elevator, which I activate. I realize that it will carry me back up to near the entry bonfire, which should allow me to skip past the rest of the city.

Having accomplished that shortcut, I feel foolhardy enough to attempt the statue gauntlet. I walk forward far enough to see that there are at least 3 mages on the stairs ahead, and they see me as well, which leads to a bunch of dark orbs flying in at me, as well as 3 bloat heads charging at me from below. I retreat until I think I’ve got enough distance to keep me safe from the mages, then turn and leap onto the bloat heads. I hit them, and they hit me, and we all die at once. Should have just gone to the bonfire when I had the chance.

I respawn, then take the elevator down to grab my body. I’ve got 3 Humanity on it now, which I can use to keep my Hollowing at bay. I return to the bonfire and level up a point of strength.

bonfire 3

The Princess

“You were there on the day,” said the travelling priest.

Dusk saw images, a scene that carried such dense, pressurized emotion that she usually only conjured it up for especially bad nightmares. The mangled bodies of the workers, entwined in death, locked together in their final, struggling embraces. The one man who still lived, pinned to the ground by the spears of the soldiers, who even then, after the man had broken most of the bones in his body, grunted with the effort to restrain him. His shattered limbs and his wide, dark eyes twitching and writhing with a primal intent, an animal need that was deeper and stronger than any hunger or thirst. His body was shaking with the pulsing need to take something from everyone else, but also showed the fear that no matter how much he took, he would never be whole.

Fifteen good men had brutalized each other in that catacomb, battering themselves to death while trying to wrestle that most essential piece of Humanity away from each other. The one who had come out ahead . . . even now, years later, Dusk shuddered at the thought of what he had become, how he had screamed without breathing, had dragged himself with his elbows, leaving a trail of slick, fresh blood on the stone, to attack his wife and child, how he kept screaming until they had finally killed him.

“I saw it,” said Dusk, remembering something even worse. “The thing they carried out of the tomb.”

“That was no thing, child. It was not a foreign creature.” The priest coughed roughly. “That was the distilled essence of man.”

To most, Oolacile was the City of Light, a symbol of progress, a place where sorcery was used not for the pursuit of power, but to enrich the lives of all citizens. In the evenings the wealthy and privileged would gather at the tops of the tallest towers, where they could look down on the endless lights twinkling like stars below. It was said that even the gods in Anor Londo would gaze down at the marvel that humans had created.

It was also said that Oolacile was the only place where humans did not fear the dark.

To Dusk, the last princess of Oolacile, those bright nights were only a reminder of the terror she lived with. Since the day that tomb had been found, her life had been a waking nightmare, all the familiar faces now masks that seemed to hide dangerous, corrupted intent. Even her parents, who had been so careful to impress upon her the sacred duties of the nobility, and how their chief responsibility was to the people, were also the ones who coldly ordered another twenty men into that pit after others had all died.

The nights were also when she heard the voice. It would come from the shadowed corner of her room, or outside her window when there was no moon. It spoke to her of the days to come, of such blasphemous ideas that her heart began to race of its own accord.

Dusk saw time as perspectives, facets of a crystal refracting the light of Humanity. To her, the long nights passed with an aching sluggishness, but her mother would tell her how she longed for the nights to be longer. She saw the passage of those years in the lines of that face, how they began as smiles, but became pensive, guarded frowns.

“What do you know of time, girl,” the voice had said. “The lazy gait of your youth, such a thing will be the sprint of unavoidable decay when you have the space to look back. Yet, both are merely the half-crawl of your youngest when compared to the marathons run by the oldest, most elemental denizens of this world. But your time will come, soon enough. And if not you, if not this place, there will be others. Time is entropic, eventually even the mightiest will be brought low. The vacuum must be filled . . .”

On those nights, when her eyes finally closed, when sleep managed to overtake her, the real nightmares began. She felt her body falling, through her bed, the floor, the palace, the rock, until she was in the cold, black air of the pit. All around were other citizens of Oolacile, also falling. Together, they were seeking a bedrock that could not exist. She would wake up just as a massive, gnarled hand reached for her out of that ultimate dark.

Black Dragon Kalameet

I run back out to the woods. Marvellous Chester is still there, and still alive, and he openly admits that he attacked me. How is he invading me if he’s already in my world and time? Probably doesn’t matter. He’s quite upset with me, which seems completely at odds with his attitude that attacking me was just business and I have no right to be offended. I mean, sure, but if that’s the case then why get mad if I happen to defend myself? That’s the problem with assholes: they’re really just assholes, no matter what justifications they try to defend themselves with.

He’ll still sell me items, though, so I buy a couple more Humanity with my leftover Souls. I’m not sure where he’s getting them from, but I don’t really care, either.

marvellous chester 2

As I leave, he tells me that he’ll see me again.

I take my Crest Key to the locked tower. The metal door opens, revealing a ladder, which I climb up to the roof of the tower. There is a giant sitting there, carving away at chunks of wood. There is an equally giant bow on the ground next to him. Seems I’ve found Hawkeye Gough.

gough 1

I talk to him, and he thanks me for freeing Artorias with his honour intact. I”m not sure how that works out, since the only way he gets to keep his honour is if we all keep lying about him, and how is that honour at all? Maybe he just means that he died in a decent fight instead of being put down like a rabid animal, but I’m not sure how valid that interpretation would be. But, as long as we’re lying about everything else, sure, he died in a duel while protecting the virtue of a noble princess.

Gough continues, telling me that he is old, blind, and retired, but mentions nothing of being imprisoned. That one of the Great Lord’s most decorated warriors is blind and locked away in a tower next to a dead city tells me that things weren’t a whole lot better in the past, even if the sun shines a little more often. He then waxes nostalgic about their battles with dragons and complains that a dog is no good without hares to hunt. Well, there’s a pretty big dragon that’s been annoying me. He doesn’t offer any immediate help in that direction, but he does sell more of his big arrows. Am I actually supposed to use them? I talk to him again, and this time he asks me if the black dragon is giving me trouble. I say yes, and he tells me about Kalameet, a fierce black dragon with a single red eye that even Anor Londo leaves alone (but, really, if their best dragon hunter is an old blind dude, that only makes sense). He asks if I’m really so determined to fight the dragon, giving me flashbacks to the lead-up for the Red Dragon fight in Shadow over Mystara. I keep saying yes, and a cutscene plays. Gough gropes around for his bow, picks it up. Conveniently, Kalameet chooses that time to fly by, and Gough fires an arrow that is probably closer to a javelin with how big it is.

gough 2

The missile hits home, knocking Kalameet from the sky. Gough assures me that he has successfully grounded the beast, which should allow me to fight it.

Frankly, I’m a little miffed. I mean, good on him for making the shot while blind, but I could have shot that stupid dragon if it had left the basin like it did for Gough, and I’m not exactly pleased that twice in a row I’m being forced to take on weakened version of legendary opponents. First Artorias, with a shattered arm and a broken mind, and now Kalameet, with a huge arrow sticking out of his back. I always find it annoying when a game looks down on the player like this. Don’t build up my expectations for a fight and then give me a weakened version of the enemies I want to kill. I know, story and fairness and all that, but how am I meant to feel like a true badass if I can’t claim that I beat anyone in their prime? Especially when I feel like I definitely could.

Anyway, I run back down to the ravine, and I find out what they were building that gate for: so it could be used as a boss entrance.

dragon doorway 1

By this point, I believe that I have sussed him out. A black dragon shooting black flames in a place where the magic is also black, but has the special property of doing physical as well as magical damage. So, I’m not going to bother with fire resistance, and instead I’ll keep my high stability shield and see what I can reliably avoid. I put on the Wolf Ring for added poise and head through the white light.

I can hear the crystal lizard again. I chase it down the waterfall, dropping from ledge to ledge until I finally catch it at the bottom. I take a lot of falling damage, but I do kill the crystal lizard at last, which gives me some twinkling titanite.

As soon as I hit the basin floor, boss music starts playing. I look up and see Kalameet coming toward me, and I can see the arrow that has clipped his wing. He’s stuck in here with me.

kalameet 1

Before he comes too close, he breathes his black flames at me. I block, to be sure that I’m able to. It works out well enough; I take damage, but I’m still standing. He then leaps into the air, landing somewhere behind me, and starts sending waves of dark fire at me. I block one of them, but figure I should be able to roll through the next, but my timing is poor, so that I basically dive face-first into a burning death. Not my best work.

I return, and then spend some time trying to cut his tail. The problem is that he doesn’t often drop it low enough to the ground for me to make contact with it. I wait, watch, and circle, until I’ve found the two most likely opportunities for attack: occasionally he will sit his big dragon butt down on the ground and either shoot flames at the ground in front of him, or use his glowing red eye to grab at me with some sort of magical curse, which takes away about half my HP and then leaves me with a glowing red mark that causes me to take more damage for the next minute or so.

kalameet 2

The artificial need to cut his tail makes the fight both more difficult, but ultimately much easier, than it needs to be. The difficult part is getting the tail–though that is less about actual difficulty than it is about patience. As there are very few opportunities to even try for it, and I don’t seem to have any way of controlling when they happen, I die a bunch of times just waiting for chance. Eventually, I decide that my intention of gimping myself with lesser weapons is all fine and good, but I’d like to move on with my life, so I switch to my Black Knight Greataxe +5, and the next time he lowers his tail I circle around and chop it off in two quick swings. I pick up the Obsidian Greatsword (which is apparently an axe?).

That done, I’m prepared to go back to my Demon Machete, so I attempt to climb back up the ladder, figuring that at the top I’ll be able to swap my weapons out. Kalameet has different plans, and seems to be angry about the loss of his tail, so he cooks me alive before I can get half way up the waterfall.

At least I can start the actual fight now, which is where the tail cutting has made it easy. I’ve spent so much time just watching his attacks that I’m in little danger of falling for them anymore. I’ve figured out that his ranged breath attacks have the exact same range as my target lock-on, so that all I have to do is retreat far enough to lose him as a target and I know he can’t hit me. I know that after most of his attacks he pauses just long enough that I can safely get a hit in and have my shield up before he makes his next move, and I know that if I get close enough he will eventually just hop away to get distance, which gives me all the time and space I need to do any healing required.

Soon, Kalameet is dead.

kalameet 3

It was not a bad fight, and was interesting in the same way Artorias and the Sanctuary Guardian were. Kalameet had a bunch of different attacks, and though his breath did substantial damage, it was easy to avoid, and could be defended against reliably. He is everything that I was expecting from the Drake in Undead Burg.

I receive 60k Souls and a Calamity Ring, which doubles the damage taken from all sources. Not sure what the point of that is, except to make the game more difficult, but if I’ve done the DLC then shouldn’t I have also done the harder parts of the game as well? Could be a new game+ thing.

In a chest behind the waterfall where the lake will be, I find a titanite slab. Now I have 2 of those, so I could make a pair of +15 armour pieces. Maybe a lighter shield would be worth upgrading if I could get it to a reasonable stability. That would help offset the weight of my ultra greatswords.

I return to the bonfire and take another point in strength, which gets me to 50.

bonfire 4

Now I can use the Dragon Greatsword, and I have to make my decisions about the rest of my equipment. My primary problem right now is a lack of poise, as having lower physical armour isn’t such a big deal when I can block and space.

These are my options:

  1. I can simply put on the Ring of Favour and Protection, which will give me extra equip load, HP, and stamina, but if I do so then I will be stuck with it, and I will lose the magic find from my Serpent Ring. That isn’t that much of a problem, I don’t think, since I’ve already decided which weapon and helm I’ll be using, and I don’t have access to Frampt for selling excess items. From here on, most of what I find will be useless to me.
  2. I can keep levelling up and put a bunch of points into endurance, which will take a while to set in.
  3. I can upgrade a different, lighter shield, which should give me enough extra capacity to keep my weight below 50%, and possibly wear another piece of armour with a bit of poise. I doubt any of the shields that are light enough to make a difference will be able to match the defence and stability of the Greatshield of Artorias, but both the Eagle Shield and the Silver Knight Shield seem to be at least passable. The Eagle Shield could even use one of my titanite slabs.
  4. I can walk around with even lighter armour, which, at this point, would basically mean running around naked.

The Dragon Greatsword actually does less damage out of the box than the Demon Machete, since it has no scaling at all. I upgrade it to +3, which puts it at about the same level. I only have 9 dragon scales total, and I get the impression that I will need 10 if I want to get all the way to +5, but I don’t know where I’m supposed to get another, or when I might just find one. I use a couple of Undead Souls to pay for the +4 upgrade and see that, as I thought, I am 1 dragon scale short of my next upgrade.

I can’t put my equipment problems off, either, as I am already overweight without changing any of my equipment besides that Dragon Greatsword. I’m still not quite sure about committing to the Ring of Favour and Protection (partly because I think I may need that extra magic find if I ever want to get another dragon scale), nor am I ready to take my clothes off again–the Catacombs were a long time ago. Even if I did decide to get more endurance, that won’t help me until I have the Souls needed for more levelling up. So I’m forced to go with the other option.

My choices there are again limited by circumstances. I can’t upgrade the Eagle Shield without access to blacksmiths, and I’m not ready to leave this place yet. So I upgrade the Silver Knight Shield to +5, as it’s lighter than the Black Knight Shield and also has better general resistances (the Black Knight Shield has a lot of fire resistance, but that’s about it) and stability. That gets it to 76 stability, which seems good, but is probably still a long way from the Greatshield of Artorias and its 88 stability.

The crisis is dealt with. Changing shields has dropped me back below 50% equip load, though I am still unable to change into any heavier armour pieces. I do change what I’m wearing enough to get little more poise (with an emphasis on more magic resistance, anticipating the fights with Abyss magic). I’m tempted again to put on the Ring of Favour and Protection, because, after all, if I don’t do it now, when would I ever? I am pretty sure that when I finish the DLC I’ll be much closer to the end of the game than the beginning, and what’s the purpose of such a power increase if I don’t use it till after I’ve conquered everything?

So, I’m now using a Dragon Greatsword +4 and a Silver Knight Shield +5, while wearing my Gargoyle Helm +5, a Witch Cloak, Black Iron Gauntlets, and a Crimson Waistcloth. I only have 26 poise with this setup, but that’s better than nothing. For important fights I can always switch to the Wolf Ring for extra poise.

equip 1

I take my new toys down the stairs to test them against the first bloat head. Its attacks are still deflected by my shield, but I lose noticeably more stamina while blocking. On the plus side, I can now parry, and I’ve learned their attacks well enough that I’ll have little trouble timing it properly. The bloat head drops a Bloated Head, which is the thing their faces are covered in. It also mentions Manus, father of the Abyss, who must be the one they dug up. Did Kaathe think he was the original Dark Lord?

I turn, walk down some stairs, and promptly fall off the edge to my death, because I like to keep myself humble with random acts of pure stupidity. I respawn, retrieve my body, and reverse my Hollowing. Time to move on.

Oolacile Township

I take the elevator back down to the sunken depths of the city. It’s time to take that road past the statues, through the mages.

I have some trouble at first, while I’m still getting used to my new setup. I can no longer reliably block multiple dark orbs from the mages, and if I’m hit by one then I lose a lot of HP, even with my better magic defence. I’ll need to be more evasive and decisive now.

I run down a short flight of stairs and take cover behind a pillar. Out of sight of the mages on the stairs, I can take care of the 3 bloat heads that rush me all at once. I am able to slash through them all in a single swing, which is necessary because I wouldn’t be able to block all of their attacks and still have the stamina required to retaliate.

Next, I move from pillar to pillar, as I did in the big hall in the previous building, keeping cover from the mages until I get next to the stairs. They are far enough away from each other that I am sure I’ll take a hit on the way up, or while trying to kill the closest of them. My first attempt does not go well, and I die quickly. On my second attempt, I make it, but I am no longer Human. I am worried about missing another invasion by Marvellous Chester, but I also consider that avoiding him may be a better option if it allows me to keep buying Humanity.

I run back from the depths, up to the forest, and I burn through some extra Undead Souls so that I can buy the rest of Chester’s Humanity stock. I’m left with a few extra Souls, but they’re not enough to level up, and most of my equipment takes twinkling titanite to upgrade, something that I am low on.

What follows is a comical sequence of deaths while I try to learn a new way of playing, now needing to focus on rolling and parrying instead of blocking and brute force. Eventually, I sort that out, and I make it past the statues, Humanity intact. I also find a body with an Undead Soul hidden in a corner, behind a statue.

I’m now at the end of a cavernous hall, lined by more of the headless statues. I enter, and a creature at the other end moves toward me. The dark markings of the Abyss are becoming more and more prominent the deeper I get, and so is the corruption of the enemies I face.

ball and chain 1

This guy is a prime specimen. He looks to have been chained to a large metal pole at some point in the distant past, and now is hunched over, dragging the heavy bit of stone the chains were once anchored to, and using it and the pole as weapons. When I’m far away, he swings the chains around, trying to clobber me with the stone, and when I get closer he tries to ram me with the metal pole. I can at least block his attacks, though the stamina toll is heavy. He crashes around the room, breaking the headless statues in his mindless rage. After a bit, I’ve subdued him, but I only gain 1000 Souls, which is lame.

Past the hall are some stairs, and another elevator. I can hear the bloat head that rides the elevator platform up, and all he finds when he makes it to the top is a sword swinging for his face. I step onto the platform end descend further into the dark.

At the bottom I find a short corridor that has been steeped in the black corruption of the Abyss. I can hear it, smell it, feel it. All around are broken bars; this was once a prison, but everyone who was a prisoner is long gone. Possibly not the best idea to keep your criminals next to the source of ultimate corruption.

At least there’s a bonfire as well.

abyss prison 1

I can hear faint movement. I move forward cautiously, but find that it’s only the rustling of heavy chains hanging from the ceiling above the bonfire.

abyss bonfire

There is a big hole smashed into the wall here. I rest at the bonfire, then step through.

Chasm of the Abyss

At first, I see nothing. I can hear a deep thrumming coming from below, and there is the impression of rough rock walls. After a few moments, I adjust to the gloom. I can see that the trail of corruption I’ve been following ends abruptly in a gash broken through the floor, and then a sheer fall into the darkness..

chasm of the abyss 1

I manage to not follow it over the edge, and instead find a path along the cliff on my left. There is another crystal lizard there, and when I kill it I pick up a pair of twinkling titanite and a white titaite chunk. Ahead, in the darkness, I can see glowing markers, like the ones in Tomb of the Giants. Am I going to be stumbling through more pitch black caves? Should I have gotten the create light spell from Dusk or Elizabeth?

It’s not quite that bad. There is enough ambient light from my presence that I can at least see where I’m going, and I can spot the bloat heads in the distance by the glow of their many eyes.

chasm corrupted 1

I storm into the fight, parrying and chopping the corrupted with the fervour of fresh confidence. There is a mage back there as well, but she only gets off a single dark orb before I chase her down. Compared to the Demon Machete, my Dragon Greatsword feels marginally faster, and also has a much faster, and longer reaching, heavy overhead smash attack that is quite satisfying to use. At the back of that cave I find what they were guarding: a body holding the Dark Bead spell, which fires off a bunch of dark magic missiles at once. Is that the next spell I’ll have to contend with?

There is nothing else back there, so I walk back to the glowing markers. I find a path leading further down, which I take. I kill off a couple more of the bloat heads, and I can see strange, dark shapes floating around below. I recognize them immediately as replicas of Humanity.

humanity 1

I assume that if they’re hanging around in the Abyss, where the influence of Manus has been causing Humanity to go wild and turn people into monsters, any free-floating spectres of that power will not be friendly. Plus, in Dark Souls there is rarely a creature encountered that doesn’t immediately try to kill me.

I can see a wide ledge below. I could drop down to that, and then down to where the Humanity are gathered, but instead I continue along the narrow path I’ve been taking. The Humanity seem to spot me, and they begin to move as a loose mob, gathering around the ramp up to where I stand and gradually moving in gangs toward me. They don’t attack, but instead try to bump into me, and any contact with them causes damage. Is the implication here that Humanity itself is harmful, or that this Humanity has been corrupted to the point of causing damage to humans? Since I can’t block their damage, I use the range of my overhead heavy attack to smash them before they can get too close, and after a while I’ve cleared a path.

humanity 2

They aren’t worth much in the way of Souls, but they do drop a some Humanities and Twin Humanities, which makes me feel kind of silly for having spent so much time and so many Souls trying to buy it from Marvellous Chester. I kill small ones and big ones, and even a bloat head mage that was somewhere in the darkness behind them.

Going deeper, and I can see more markers.  There is also a body, but it’s up on a cliff that I can’t reach from here. The markers are all grouped around a ramp formed by a huge broken stone pillar.

chasm ramp 1

At the bottom of the ramp I find a body clutching Twin Humanities, and another cave. Inside that are more of the Humanity spectres, and down below I can see a boss doorway, white, but covered in a dark fog.

chasm doorway 1

I find a sloping path, and I explore the cave, killing spectres all the while. On a ledge I find a body with a white titanite slab, and on another body, nearest the boss doorway, is the Soul of a Hero. Poor fellow made it all the way down here, only to be backed into a corner by a group of spectres.

chasm doorway 2

It’s time meet the old man of the Abyss.

Manus, Father of the Abyss

A cutscene plays. I step onto a narrow ledge, and a big, blunt hand grabs me and pulls me down. It’s the same hand that reached for me through the portal in Darkroot Garden. I land on dark stone and struggle to my feet. There, I finally get face to face with my great-great-great-etc-grandfather.

He is quite large, and has the same red, random eyes as the bloat heads, but on a head adorned by a crown of dark horns. I can see the big hand he used to grab me, attached to his body by a shifting, ethereal tether of Abyssal energy. He prowls the area, knuckle walking with obvious intent to do me harm. He even has a stout, upright tail.

Basically, this ancestral human is a giant, mutated ape. Because, why not?

manus 1

As I’m dealing with a caveman, there could only be one form of communication between us, and that is pure violence. He slaps at me with his weird arm, or clubs me with his big, gnarled catalyst. I roll around a bit, and then die. Which is pretty much what I expected to happen.

I respawn and consider my progress. I’m at the boss, but I know there is at least 1 item I haven’t made it to yet, so I have to assume there are paths through this area that I’m missing.

I find my first alternate path on the ledge leading down to the first mob of spectres. The ramp leading down to them is on my right, but on my left I look down and see a curious mist. There is a ledge above that looks like a dead-end, but when I step onto it I find that it’s actually an illusion, and I drop down o the misted area. I see a big cat ahead. I think of Alvina, the cat that was warning me away from the grave of Artorias in my time.

abyss cat 1

I walk toward her, but she disappears in a flash of light. I keep walking, and see the cat again, further ahead. It disappears once more. There are some Humanity spectres here, so I kill them, and then kill a giant spectre. I can see markers leading further down.

abyss markers 1

There is also a doorway, near where the cat disappeared for the final time.

abyss elevator

I go through the doorway and find an elevator. It leads me back up to the Royal Wood, near Marvellous Chester, so it’s just another shortcut. Before heading back down, I run up and talk to Gough. For the feat of killing Kalameeet, he gives me his huge bow. It’s actually pretty good for me, since it has heavy strength scaling instead of dexterity, but I doubt I’ll ever use it. Gough also tells me the story of how Kaathe tricked Oolacile into waking Manus, but also that they drove him mad. The Abyss is created by Manus, and the only way to stop it will be to kill him. Gough is sure that even a legend like me cannot hope to stave off the spread of the Abyss forever.

gough 3

I then consider Chester. He never did invade me again, and I’m at the boss. I’ve also bought out all of his Humanity and he’s got nothing else I need or want. I decide to give him some time, since I’m a little busy at the moment.

I take the elevator back into the Chasm of the Abyss, then follow the markers down, around, and up, where I loot the body I saw on the ledge before. It’s only a single Humanity. I keep going down, fight off more of the huge spectres–which really hurt when they touch me–and find a body with the Black Flame pyromancy spell.

I think I’ve exhausted the alternate paths here, but I still don’t understand the point of the cat. If I’d fallen down there I would have had to follow the path she lead me on regardless, since there was no other way to go. Was she just leading me to the elevator, or something more specific? I’ll check again, but later.

I return to the boss doorway. I look down and I can actually see my body glowing in the dark below, along with Manus and his many red eyes.

boss body 1

I step through the light, go through the cutscene again (you’d think that he’d have figured out I’m hostile by now and just fling me into a pit or something). I get much further into the fight this time, surviving long enough to see that Manus does use the Dark Bead spell, sending out a stream of dark magic missiles, which nearly kills me. He is polite enough to give me time to heal up after that, but it ends up not mattering, since I run out of flask charges before he runs out of HP, and I’m dead again.

I respawn back at the prison entrance, and, thinking that it will be faster, I drop down onto the ledge above the first mob of spectres, and then down into them. They turn on me as one, closing in so that they become too close for me to hit. I swing wildly, but soon I’m out of stamina and dead. I’ve lost 60k Souls and a couple of Humanity, but it’s not as if I was doing anything with them.

Going down again, I find a ledge with a body holding a Help Me! carving. I then amuse myself by getting the spectres to line up on the narrow ledge above them then using the shockwave blast of the Dragon Greatsword’s 2-handed heavy attack to kill them all at once.

On my next fight with Manus, I get even further, but run out of flask charges once more. I even try to use Humanity to heal, but it takes much longer to consume one of those than it does to take a shot from my flask. As Manus is at his last tick of HP, he raises his catalyst into the air, sending out a flurry of dark orbs that form a ring around the arena, and then collapse inward, converging on me from all sides. I’m startled enough that I don’t try to roll, and my block is ineffectual as the orbs come at me from behind. I die.

Manus, like the other bosses in the DLC, has a larger variety of attacks that he can use. Most of them are easy to spot and avoid, like the multiple strike combo he launches into, incorporating punches and staff strikes in an effort to overwhelm my block and pummel me into the ground, or the really obvious reversing-slap he does when I get behind him, where his hand strikes at me before his arm can catch up. It’s relatively easy to catch him while he is busy smashing away at the air, but occasionally he will throw out some magic, either a swarm of dark orbs, or a rain of jagged dark projectiles from above me. I manage to block and roll most of those, but I am always forced to heal afterwards. I briefly consider kindling the bonfire for some extra flask charges, but decide that it would be simpler to just use the Greatshield of Artorias one final time. I don’t have to worry much about being slowed if I can defend myself adequately.

I return, pick up my body, and use all that I have learned to beat Manus down. This time when he sends out the ring of dark orbs, I do not hesitate. I charge forward and deliver a final blow, killing him before his magic can get to me.

manus 2

“Victory Achieved”

I gain 10 Humanities, a Soul of Manus, and 60k Souls.

According to his Soul, Manus was the owner of the broken pendant I found. That explains why he grabbed me from my time.

Nearby is a bonfire, which I light. Just in time, too, because I need to take a break so that I can eat something.

manus bonfire

After I’ve restarted the game, I’m left feeling that something is missing. Wasn’t I supposed to rescue a princess? And what about that cat, or Chester?

I use the bonfire to warp back to the top of the Abyss, then retrace the path back to the spot where I saw the cat. It couldn’t have been leading me to the elevator out of the Abyss; that makes no sense. Besides, the last place I saw it wasn’t next to the elevator, it was a little past that point. I walk over to where I think that was, but see only a blank wall. Reflexively, I take a swipe at it. The wall breaks away, revealing a new path.

abyss wall 1

I go through and kill a couple of spectres. Nearby, I can see more of them, gathered around a prone animal.

sif 1

I kill off all of the Humanity, and then see that they were beating up on Sif.

sif 2

He howls, then disappears. Alvina must have been leading me to this. Where Sif had been, I pick up a Cleansing Greathshield, which Artorias used to defend his companion from the spectres, presumably at the cost of a broken arm, or after his arm had been broken. Seems a bit silly to save his dog over Oolacile, but I’m sure he had his reasons for making such a choice.

I warp back to where I killed Manus. I can see the shallow grave that they must have found him in, but nothing else. If Dusk was ever here, she isn’t anymore.

manus grave

I then warp back to Oolacile Township. I find an I’m Sorry! carving when I stab a mage in the back, and I make my way back to the message saying “Let there be light.” I stand there for a bit, considering. Every part of me tells me that there is something important about this message. But what? I examine the wall nearby. I can see odd markings on it, and I smack it with my sword, but it doesn’t break. There is a tower here, and there very well could be something on the other side of that wall. After some fumbling, I come up with my Skull Lantern, and I turn it on, illuminating the wall. It disappears, and I find a chest containing a Silver Pendant. It’s supposed to deflect darkness, and is an active item that I can put in my hotbar. When used, it produces a short-lived swirl of light that deflects Abyss magic. Would have been useful against all the dark orbs and other spells I had to deal with.

Next, I talk to Elizabeth the mushroom. She has no comment about me having killed Manus, even though she was the one who asked me to do it. Oh well.

I have only one last thing to do. I return to Marvellous Chester and destroy him. At first, he is indignant, acting as if he is not to blame for trying to kill me earlier, that I should have known better. Well, I do know better now, and that is the reason he receives no mercy at all, only my justice.

chester death

From his corpse I pick up his gear, his goofy hat, long black coat, gloves, and boots.

I warp to Undead Parish and run down to Darkroot Basin. Dusk’s summoning sign is back. At first, she is as she has always been, but when I talk to her she realizes that it was I who rescued her from Manus, not Artorias. Still, she’s not about to tell anyone that, so his legend is intact.

I can only hope that the legends they tell of me end up half as kind.

The Serpent

On the last night of Oolacile she found the travelling priest. She could not say what compelled her to descend into the dungeons, after she spent so much of her life fearing what lay below. Perhaps she felt a kind of honesty there, away from the artificial people and their artificial light. It was not difficult for her to sneak past the guards using simple obfuscation magic, and she had always wondered what that man had done or said to so upset her parents that they had locked him away.

He had been chained bodily to a large pole that was spiked into the middle of his dank, dirty cell. She heard him talking before she saw him. “Oolacile, the City of Light,” he sneered. “‘May the Flames guide you,’ they tell me. Yet, I see no flames in this place. They substitute those magical abominations for the true light of our Lords.

“Princess Dusk,” he continued. “The City of Light, the princess of oncoming dark. This is an ill omen. This is hubris. Flaunting. If only . . . if only I had the words, or the power that they once evoked.”

Dusk heard that voice from her darkness again. “This is the fate of all of the god’s lickspittles.”

“You are the Princess Dusk.” The priest looked up and saw her, peering through eyelids swollen shut from multiple beatings. One of his arms was bent at a wrong angle, obviously broken, and his chains held him in such a way that he could not even rest his knees on the ground. “Your people commune with powers beyond human ken.”

“Our light is the reflection of the Great Lord’s power,” she replied automatically.

The priest tried to laugh, but a spasm of pain interrupted him. “Your light is an imitation, born of the taint of dragons and the arrogance of humans.”

“Our priests–.”

“Have been here too long.”

Somewhere in the dark, teeth ground.

“Something must be done,” she said, dumbly, because what else was there to say?

“Aye,” he said, letting his head droop, “there’s the rub. Humans are lowly, petty creatures. We seek our own path, because we have been . . . neglected. But our light,” he nodded at her, at the magical light she held in her hand, “is pale, and it only casts deeper, darker shadows. Too many would rather hide in those shadows than seek enlightenment.”

Teeth ground again.

“I know you are there, serpent,” called the priest. “This is not the true dark, and it does not hide you from me.”

That was the only time she ever saw him, the creature that belonged to the voice that had kept her up at night. A face loomed out of the shadows, all jutting, square teeth and bulging, reptilian eyes. She stumbled away from the beast and nearly dropped her light. The glow played back and forth over his huge head, so that he appeared to be swaying about madly.

“The lies you tell will no longer protect you, preacher,” said the serpent. “You pine for parents that never loved you, try to preserve what has already been lost.”

“We keep faith with those who dragged us out of cowering anarchy. Without the light of the Great Lord we would never have learned the reason that makes us more than animals.”

“Yet you are too afraid to make use of your gifts. Huddled around your bonfires listening to the howls of the circling wolves in the night when you should be their masters. You choose the comforting shackles of lies, because freedom means responsibility, freedom requires courage.”

The priest moved his good arm, showing his shackles. “This is man’s freedom. It is the freedom to do what evil lies in his heart. There is no justice in a world without the gods.”

“How can you know the evil that lies in your heart when you take your morals from an absent father. Justice requires strength, and their strength will continue to fade.”

The priest addressed Dusk. “Who would be your guiding hand? Your king and queen, already long mad? This monster? Or do you believe that you are capable of that responsibility? Has the royal family of Oolacile ascended to godhood themselves?”

Dusk could feel her worlds crumbling around her. Her nightmares were bleeding into each other, and the city was starting to fall apart. Stone crashed against stone high above, sending vibrations like the rumble of angry beasts through the walls of the underground prison. Her mind was reeling, barely able to contain everything that was happening.

“Is that why you chose this place?” the priest wondered at the serpent. “No gods have lived here, and the people believe themselves apart from the rest of Lordran. Do you not understand the madness you are causing? This city will be buried under the weight of its own insanity, and then it will be erased.”

The serpent began to roar, and Dusk began to run. “You do not escape from this. What I speak of is not a choice, it is a fate. Flee from here, girl, and this city will die, but it will not be the last. As long as man must live and the gods must fear them, there will be others.”

Dusk stumbled through the prison, blind except for her tiny, fading light. The guards she had been so careful to sneak past on the way down were gone now. Her light briefly showed a splatter of blood near where one of them had been standing. She ran, until she found that the elevator she needed to escape this place had failed. She could not get away.

Behind her, the priest had began to scream, a rising cry of throaty agony. Dusk found a corner of the hall and fell against the wall. She felt something coming with the sureness of a memory. She snuffed the light and hid in the dark.

Her breath caught in her throat for a long moment. All at once, the priest fell silent. She could hear thick scuffling sounds. Her eyes opened wide, seeking any light that would give her a clue about what was there.

The last thing she saw was that massive, gnarled hand grabbing for her, but this time she did not wake up.

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7 thoughts on “Dark Souls Diaries – Day 23

  1. When you beat Manus, Dusk appeared on the floor, prostrated and not saying much. She disappears as soon as you leave the area, which explains why you didn’t see her if you quit right after your victory.

    1. I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what happened. It’s not like I’m missing out on anything important, so it’s no big deal, and I’ve moved on to the next area.

      1. Yeah you’re not missing much, she basically just gasps and says nothing. Just know that, yay, you saved her.

  2. I didn’t read the whole thing but man, you do have patience.

    Did you play it on PC? I think I saw that this was a PlayStation exclusive but I could be wrong. How did you take the screenshots?

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