Dark Souls Diaries – Day 24

I can sense the end coming. Only a pair of Lord’s Souls stand between my and Gwyn, and only Gwyn stands between me and my destiny.

There is always a sense of melancholy that comes with the approach of the end. Not necessarily the end itself, but more the knowledge that I’ve reached a point of no return, a marker in the road telling me that further deviations become less likely with every step I take, as if finally being able to see where I’m headed, being able to lock eyes with that goal, shows me a downhill view of what is to come, and I know that nothing else could stop me.

At the same time, being able to see that ultimate destination gives me a more tangible ideal against which I can measure my strength. By now I have seen most everything Lordran has to offer, and I know that I can take it. Instinctively, I recoil from that sense of dominance. I feel the ebb in the game’s atmosphere of danger, which is as primarily because of the knowledge that I have seen what there is to see, and the most dangerous foes are always the ones I’ve yet to encounter.

I am level 85, and I have the strength required to use the heaviest of weapons. I have a decent shield, and my poise is greater then zero. If that wasn’t enough then I’d know it, and if I needed more I’d have already hit that wall.

Only the Lord of the Dead and a single pathetic dragon remain. May as well go after the weak link, especially since I’ve already started on that path.

Firelink Shrine

I’m back in the relative peace of the Firelink Shrine, back to the present day, or as close as I can manage with the way time works in Lordran, and back to my own problems.

The first of those is rather mundane. What am I going to do with all of my Souls now that I’ve hit 50 strength and can use the Dragon Greatsword? I had been prepared to stop at level 75 before finding that weapon, and now I’ve hit 85 and I don’t feel as if I need anything else out of stats. I suppose I could start dumping points into endurance, to bump up my equip load and allow for more variety in armour, but I’ll look for something else to spend them on first.

I see Griggs, the sorcerer. He is one of the few characters who is still here, which stands out to me, because he is one character who told me that he would leave if given the chance. I talk to him, and spend my accumulated Souls on purchasing his inventory of spells, because that seemed to be what he was waiting for. Not that I could use any of them even if I wanted to, but it’s something to do.

griggs 1

I spend a bit more time swapping gear around, trying to get a bit more poise out of the little bit of weight I can afford. I end up wearing Solaire’s simple iron bracelets, as they are the lightest option I have for that slot that still offers some poise and passable defence stats. I upgrade them to +9, but don’t yet have the heart to spend one of my titanite slabs for the full +10. I then upgrade my club to +14. I could be running around with the heaviest armour in my inventory if I used that thing, but I spent so much so that I could use this big old sword, so I’m sticking with it.

That done, I warp to Anor Londo and run back to the Duke’s Archives, rest at the bonfire there, and take the elevator back up to the library.

Duke’s Archives

Everything in here has respawned, but they shouldn’t have bothered.

library dead 1

At least, that follows until I get to the first section of the library proper, where I encounter one of those prancing mages. I run into the room, charging straight for him, and get him with a solid smack from my sword. It’s not quite enough to kill him, though, and he teleports away before I can ready my weapon again. The archers on the stairs ahead start loosing arrows at me, so I duck behind a nearby bookshelf. From there, I can see that the mage has moved himself to the top of those stairs, behind the archers, and is now doing his little dance that will buff their damage.

library mage 1

I may be reckless and a little stupid, but even I can realize a foolish option when I see it. I do not take a direct line for the stairs, where I have to content with 2 archers and the mage throwing out magic missiles. Instead, I circle around the bookshelf and get underneath the stairs, where I know there will be a pair of those crystallized soldiers waiting. I prepare to take them on, when I am suddenly hit in the back by a magic missile–the mage has teleported behind me. Before I can turn to face him, or even recover from his attack, one of the super-charged soldiers slashes me with his sword, killing me.

On the way back, pretty much the same thing happens, only this time I also lose my body. The Souls mean little, but I would have liked to keep those 2 Humanity.

Well, fool me once and all that: I’ve proved that I’m dumb, but now I need to prove that I’m not hopeless. This time, I grip my sword in both hands when I charge the mage, which gives me the damage boost I need to kill him in a single running attack, so he doesn’t get the chance to teleport away. Without the worry of being randomly attacked from behind, I have no trouble clearing out the rest of the room.

At the first landing of the stairs, I take the left fork, killing another archer, and then the soldier who comes at me from behind. I run around the upper tier, killing more crystal-studded soldiers, who are no threat at all without the mage’s buff.

library soldiers 1

With my 33 poise I am able to take a single attack from them and still trade, which always works out in my favour. Behind the last pair of soldiers is a chest. As it was defended, and this area is pretty narrow, I decide that there’s no way it could be a mimic.

I grab the lid, lift it a little, and the mimic grabs me and chews me to death. What can I say? It’s just a day in the life of a poor Undead trying to make her way through what’s left of this dour hellscape.

I repeat the library again. Part way through, Gwyndolin’s health bar appears again. I ignore it. I smash the mage, the archers, the soldiers, and then the mimic.

library mimic 1

It drops a Crystal Knight Shield, which is a normal knight’s shield, but with really low durability and higher stability. Sparkly junk.

I circle around to the other side of the library, where there is another chest. As it had no guards, I figure it has a higher chance of being a mimic, but then I decide that since the chest mirrored on the other side of the library was a mimic, and had guards, there’s no way this one could be a mimic.

I weigh all of that impeccable gaming logic against the idea of having to fight through the entire library again if I’m wrong, and decide that it’s actually a sign of personal integrity and strength of will to be able to admit uncertainty. What I mean is that I check it with a swipe of my sword before I open it. As fortune would have it, I was right, and it’s not a mimic. I pick up a twinkling titanite and tell myself that it’s better to be safe than sorry.

I circle back around. There is a doorway that I’ve been passing, because the glow it gives off made me think it was blocked by white light. It’s not, but it does lead back outside, where the sun is very bright, even though Anor Londo is supposed to be plunged into permanent midnight (or perhaps that darkness is just another illusion created by that Gwyndolin twerp, even though it has persisted long after his death). There is a body holding another piece of twinkling titanite.

library balcony

There is an elevator at the back of the library, behind the stairs. I step on and pull a lever, which activates the platform and carries me up, up, up, higher into the Archives than I thought I’d be going. I see there are other floors in the library, but I’m skipping straight past them.

When the elevator finally stops I am in a small room covered in random splashes of crystal, as if a crystal golem exploded all over the walls.

archives 1

I take the only exit and walk down a narrow hall that is curving gently to the right. A crystallized fighter rushes me. At first I think it’s another Hollowed soldier, but this guy is better armed, and rolls–slowly, heavily–as he approaches.

crystal fighter 1

He makes a great show of switching between one-handed and two-handed grips on his sword, but I have no patience for this, so I bludgeon him with the heaviest part of my sword. He dies easily, but with a great show of noise and light, and drops nothing.

Past him the crystals start to becoming more developed, to the point where they threaten to choke off my passage. Stairs lead further up, so I keep going. I can hear the sound of a crystal lizard ahead, but it disappears as I take my screenshot. Oh well.

crystals 2

At the top of the stairs is a small doorway of white light. I step through.

Seath the Scaleless

I am in a room with a boss, which I did not expect, as that was not the regular boss door–it was much too small. Seems these Archives are a place of unexpected circumstances.

I stand there for a short while, waiting for something to happen.

saeth 1

This room is big, but so crusted with crystal formations that the addition of the big dragon in the middle makes it feel claustrophobic. Seath himself is a sight to behold: the great beast has warped himself over the many long years, further divorcing himself from his dragon brethren, though he was already an outsider. He is a pale, sickly white, evidently an albino from birth, on top of not possessing the powerful dragon scales that were his due. His wings are not the leathery bat-like appendages that other dragons and drakes have, but instead glittering, delicate things,, like those of the butterfly in Darkroot Garden. Everything below his torso is missing, or hidden by the crystals.

While I’m taking that in, Seath finally makes a move. He roars, which sends a wave of sharp crystals up and out of the ground. They break my guard and then pierce me over and over. I can see my curse bar building slowly, but I die before it fills.

Duke’s Archives

I respawn not at the bottom of the library, but at a bonfire I haven’t seen before. I’m behind thick iron bars, also patched with crystals. I can hear heavy breathing from somewhere nearby, and I can see a man-serpent, like the ones in Sen’s Fortress, leaning casually against the outer bars of my prison.

archives bonfire 1

I light the bonfire and sit down. I assume that I was supposed to lose that first encounter with Seath. Chances are that if I had been proactive enough to actually hit him, I would have done no damage, or he would have been shielded by the crystals, or something else that would have made it impossible to win. I can dig that, but what of my body? I need to find the way back.

I explore the length of my cell. Around a small curve are a few crystallized soldiers, and a locked iron door that looks out over empty space. Otherwise, it’s a dead end.

I return to the bonfire. There is another door there, next to the lounging lizard, but it’s also locked. I reverse my Hollowing, then attack the man-serpent through the bars. My sword pings off them, but not before inflicting mortal damage. The guard flops over, and I fish around in his pockets till I find the Archive Tower Key. It informs me that I’ve been placed into what was once another part of the Archives, but is now the prison Seath uses to hide away the mistakes he’s made in his madness-inducing quest for knowledge of immortality..With all of the experimenting he’s been doing over the years, I imagine he’s got plenty of stuff to shut away. Maybe that’s the heavy breathing I can hear.

I use the key to open the cell door, then step out. A cutscene plays. A man-serpent pulls a switch, which starts some music playing from a primitive gramophone and opens a large cage, setting free a gang of particularly horrible looking creatures–forked tails connecting to an upright body like a snake, and a mop of octopus tentacles for hair–which must be the mistakes mentioned.

mistakes 1

Instinctively, I step back into my cell and close the door. A moment later, a couple of man-serpents rush past, running up the stairs to my left and then climbing a ladder out of the room. Seems even they want nothing to do with whatever they’ve set loose.

I leave the cell again, and a trio of the creatures comes up the stairs at me. They make darting, grabbing motions with their bodies, which I am careful to avoid. One of them spits a stream of blue bile at me. Thankfully, they squash as easily as any other monster, so after a few big sword smashes, I’m safe.

mistakes 2

Up or down? I’m in a huge room–the entire tower is open space. Stairs spiral down to the bottom, where those monsters were being held, and up to the ladder those man-serpents used to get away from them. The walls are mostly covered in bookshelves (how is anyone supposed to reach them?), but here and there the shelves have been removed and replaced by more iron-barred cells.

tower prison 1

I decide to head down first. Chances are the way out is locked anyway, and it’s not like I’m going to retreat from a fight.

I pass the other cells, which appear to be empty of other real prisoners. Probably been a long while since anyone visited these Archives. One of them holds a single crystal soldier, another appears to have nothing inside, but is locked, the next holds two of the crystal soldiers, and a hole in the floor that lets me drop down into the cell below (crushing a third crystal soldier on the way down). A body in there holds the Archive Tower Extra key, which I use to unlock the other cell, giving me access to a body holding a Soul of a Brave Warrior.

I can see a body hanging from a bookshelf on the other side of the room, up high, but underneath a cell door. Probably the one in the bonfire room, which I couldn’t open. Looks like I’ll have to drop down from there to recover whatever item that body holds. I wonder if that guy opened that door once upon a time, thinking that he’d found freedom, and then he fell out, only managing to grab onto a wooden ledge, but without being able to pull himself back up. Could be that the man-serpents gathered around to hiss and taunt him while he slowly lost his strength. I wouldn’t put it past them.

hanging body

I’ll get that on my way back up. Meanwhile, I keep fighting my way down the stairs, taking down the tentacled creatures as they come. As I near the bottom, I can see a group of 4 more, gathered around the entrance to their holding pen.

mistakes 3

I crush them without any trouble.

At the bottom of the tower is a pile of heavy, rusted gears. It’s hard to imagine them being dragged here from somewhere else, so I think instead that they were once part of a mechanism, probably a part of this tower’s original purpose–as a library and storage space for ancient knowledge. Could be that once Seath began to lose his mind, once he lost the use for the knowledge here and decided that his experiments were more important, whatever those gears powered became unimportant as well and it fell into disrepair. Maybe it was a mechanism to rotate the stairs, or the shelves, so that they could be accessed. I mean, that’s just about the most convoluted means of accessing a bookshelf there could be, but how else would people do it? Unless Seath meant them only for himself. As a dragon, he would be able to fly around in here, but, as a dragon, I’m not sure how he could really fit in here, either, unless the roof comes off (maybe that’s what the device controlled?). More likely, he had minions who would fetch and carry the materials he needed, and I’m sure those dancing mages would have been smart enough to work a few levers to get them to whatever their master needed.

gears 1

There are two more of the hideous creatures through the open gate at the bottom of the tower. They are tougher than the others, but don’t fight back. One drops the Soothing Sunlight miracle, the other drops Bountiful Sunlight, which are both healing spells used by Gwynevere’s handmaidens, leading me to the conclusion that this particular group of creatures were probably created by experimenting on those poor women. Did Seath go after them before Gwynevere had left Anor Londo? If that was the case, was the absence of Gwyn and the God of War enough to embolden him? Had he already solidified his power over Anor Londo enough that it wasn’t worth going after him with the threats of demons and Hollowed roaming the lands outside? Either that, or Gywnevere left her handmaidens behind when she fled, which would have been callous, but I wouldn’t put that past these gods.

There is another cell down here, and I can see a familiar big hat through the bars. It’s Logan. I think I came close to hitting him while killing the last two octopus-heads, but I didn’t see a damage number. I’ve noticed that there is a small whiff area of effect with big weapons when they hit the ground, and it can make enemies flinch, but doesn’t actually hurt them. I have to hope that’s what happened to Logan, because he was sitting down when I got here, and now he’s standing.

logan 1

He’s also behind the bars, and too far away for me to interact with. The cell door is locked. I can only hope that he’s not too upset, or Hollowed.

I make a circuit around the tower’s bottom, making sure that I haven’t missed anything behind the pillars. I find no items, but there is a ladder leading to a floor above Logan’s cell. I climb up and find the gramophone and a trio of man-serpents (two fighters, one mage).

serpents 1

I kill them all. They’re tougher than the ones in Sen’s Fortress, but still not a match for me. I put the pillars in the mage’s line of sight, giving me the cover I need to take out the other two, and when the mage circles around to get a shot at me I cut it in half.

There is a chest with an Archive Tower Giant Door Key, which will open the exit at the top of the tower, probably the door being guarded by the two fleeing man-serpents. There is also a switch I throw, which finally shuts off the music. Strange how energetic that noise has been–not exactly what I’d call a reading song.

music 1

I’d still like to get into the room with Logan, even if he won’t talk to me. There’s a body in there with him, and I’m sure it has something juicy. Without a key, though, I have no way of getting inside.

I run back up the stairs and use one of my keys to open that cell door that allows me to drop down to the hanging body.

hanging body 2

All of that work, and all I get is another Brave Warrior’s Soul.

That done, I run up the stairs once more, all the way to the ladder. I start to climb, but I’m only half way to the top when the serpents start coming down. One of them starts kicking me in the face, so I retaliate by punching him in the ankles, which then causes him to lose his grip on the ladder, so he slides down past me, which in turn knocks me off the ladder so that I land in a heap on top of him at the bottom. We untangle ourselves, stumble to our feet, and I smash him with my sword, then smash the other serpent as he reaches the bottom of the ladder, but only after I have to wait out the really annoying knockback effect enemies all get whenever they get on or off a ladder. Finally, everything in the tower is dead.

Next to the door is a small ledge, which I use to drop down to another cell. Inside that is a body slumped over, as if in prayer. From it I take the White Seance Ring, which adds another attunement slot, just like the Darkmoon Seance Ring, but is related to the Church of Thorolund. I also get a set of Maiden’s robes, which seem to be the clothes worn by a female priest. I wonder what that was. Perhaps another priestess who was mistaken for a handmaiden?

kneeling body

As far as I can tell, that’s everything in the tower. I still don’t have another key for Logan’s cell, so I have to believe that I’ll get that later, otherwise I missed my chance by hitting him accidentally, which is Rhea all over again.

I use the key to open the heavy metal doors leading out of the tower. Their surfaces are are scarred and dented, signs of the creatures that have been locked away through the years.

tower door

On the other side I am back outside, and I can see something shining brightly in the distance. As I step forward and adjust to the glare, I make it out as a great crystal spire, a jagged structure of magic and insanity.

crystal 3

I’m on a balcony running along the outside of the archives building. Below is a small, enclosed forest. My more immediate concern is the crystal soldier on my right, which I kill, and then the archer on my left, who is camped out in a small room at the end of this balcony. He’s situated far enough back that it’s quite obvious that there is another soldier in the near corner waiting to ambush me. Sure enough, he’s there, but he’s so slow that I’m able to kill the archer and turn to face the soldier before he can hit me.

There are some stairs and a door, which leads me back inside, into another library like the one I went through when first entering the Archives.

The first thing that happens when I get inside is a magic missile blasts me in the face. There is another of those dancing mages somewhere above me.

I step back out and heal, then back into the library. Another mage blasts me from my left, so there are two of them in here. At least that one is within my reach, so I splatter him all over the floor. Unfortunately, I can’t see any way to get up to the mage above me. It looks like there are a set of mechanically controlled stairs that need to be turned around somehow for me to get up there.

library stairs 1

I walk around a bit, and find my way into another library, which I realize is actually the first library, only seen from above.

library 1

I could explore, and even get down to the bottom floor to see what is down there, but I really want to kill that mage. The sound of him firing off magic missiles constantly is wearing me out. I haven’t rested in forever, since in the tower I didn’t want to reset any of the enemies, and I’m still hoping to recover my body from that room where I was killed by Seath, if I can find my way back to it.

I run around the libraries, killing archers and soldiers, flipping switches, until I’ve moved the stairs to allow access to that mage. I kill him, and loot a Strong Magic Shield spell from a nearby chest. That done, I descend to the bottom of the second library, where I encounter a further annoyance: there is an archer standing on top of a bookshelf, so that I can’t reach him, even with the Dragon Greatsword’s shockwave attack.

archer 1

There’s a bonfire on a small balcony down there, overlooking the woods below. As I get close to it, the archer on the bookshelf falls down, and I run back to kill him.

Do I really want to rest here? If I do, everything will reset, including that archer that I can’t hit and all of those mages. On the other hand, using the shockwave attack has damaged my Dragon Greatsword, and it needs to be repaired, which I can’t do without resting.

library bonfire

I light the bonfire, but do not rest. I’ll see what else there is first.

I switch to my Black Knight Greataxe in the meantime, then use the mechanical stairs to access a different part of the library, where I find a room and another archer I can’t reach.

archer 2

There is a ladder here, which I could use to go down, but I’m not keen to do that while under fire. I throw a couple of spare firebombs that I’ve picked up somewhere, and then some dung pies, which poison the archer. Eventually, it dies.

I slide down the ladder. I’m in a small space with a switch and two open doors, each leading to other library rooms choked with books. One only has a single chest with a blue titanite chunk, while the other has 4 chests and another switch.

chests 1

I test each chest in turn. The first is safe and holds a set of Channeler’s gear, which is the armour worn by the dancing mages, who were sent out by Seath to kidnap victims for his experiments. It also implies that Seath is blind, as well as being a scaleless albino. The armour is heavy for something a spellcaster would wear, but has greater defence and even some poise. Nothing I can, or would, wear, though.

The next chest is safe and holds a Archive Tower Giant Cell Key, which should open Logan’s cell.

The third chest is a mimic, which drops a Symbol of Avarice, a weird head piece that says it improves item find and the amount of Souls dropped.

mimic head

It’s heavy, and when I put it on I realize that it’s also draining my HP, while not even raising my item find stat (maybe it doesn’t stack with the Serpent Ring?). I take it off. The mimic also had an enchanted falchion, which I suppose is nice to have, even though I’ll probably never do anything with it.

The last chest has a Crystal Ember, which will allow me to make crystal weapons after giving it to the giant blacksmith in Anor Londo. Not sure why I would want to make crystal weapons, as they are so brittle, but it’s nice to have.

I go back to the other room and pull the lever, which opens a shortcut back to the main library and the bonfire there. I pull the lever in the chest room and it lowers a ramp leading further down. I pull out my club and kill a soldier down there. There is a chest that contains 20 prism stones, and a whole lot of old, rusted machinery. Must be a storage room. There is a doorway of white light, but I’m not ready for that just yet.

archives white light 1

I double back to Logan’s cell, which is easy since everything is still dead. Even so, it’s a lot of backtracking, so he’d better not be wasting my time.

Turns out, my fears were unfounded. He’s not mad, and he thanks me for saving him again. He tells me that he’ll visit the Archives now that he’s free, and share any spells he discovers. The body in the back of the cell holds a Fire Keeper Soul. Score.

logan 2

That done, I feel like I can rest at the bonfire in the library, where I repair my Dragon Greatsword and every other piece of equipment I’ve damaged throughout the game. Not doing anything else with those Souls.

Back down that ramp and through the white light. I’m outside, on a small wooden platform. There is a ladder I down to the forest floor, which is a little surprising to me. I saw it, but I figured it looked kind of half-assed, so it was probably just background.

crystal forest 1

The place is full of crystal golems, which are naturally stronger than the ones in Darkroot Basin, but still not much of a threat, even if groups.

crystal golem 1

A few of them drop blue titanite chunk. There is a body next to the wall with a blue titanite chunk. I’ve basically got more blue titanite chunks than I could ever need at this point, and I’m wondering again what further use I have for the Serpent Ring’s item find.

By now I’ve settled into a groove with the Dragon Greatsword. With my less powerful shield, I’ve reverted back to the basic tools I used to get through the Catacombs: zoning and whiff punishment. There is no need to dodge, and very little need to block, when I have a weapon with enough reach. I almost exclusively use the Greatsword’s heavy attack, which is a dashing overhead chop. As long as I stay out of an enemy’s reach, I can wait for them to throw something out and then bop them over the head, the same way I used the club’s heavy attack to mash all of those skeletons. The only downside is that I can’t use it 2-handed, as that heavy attack is the shockwave, which takes a heavy toll on the weapon’s durability.

On another body I find a set of crystalline armour, which appears to be what that guy I killed near Seath’s chamber was wearing. It has very good physical defence, but poor lightning and magic defence, and is still too heavy for my tastes.

The further downhill I get, the more evident it is that the crystals here are not natural, but a result of some greater corruption. Nearer the massive formations, even the trees have been turned to glass.

crystal forest 2

I kill off the last couple of golems, and then make my way down a treacherously smooth ramp of pure crystal.

Crystal Cave

A golem rushes up at me from below. I kill it. Looks like I’m headed underground, even further away from my body.

crystal cave 1

A little further down and I start to hear a magical twinkling sound, similar to a crystal lizard, but deeper and steadier, and coming from all around the cave. I pause for a moment, but it doesn’t go away; if it were a crystal lizard, it would have escaped by now. Instead, I realize that it’s the very nature of the cave itself, that these crystals are related to some great magical power. Are the crystal lizards also Seath’s creations, or a result of titanite interacting with whatever created this cave?

Everything in here is a murky blue, and either jagged or smooth enough to look dangerous. I’m not surprised that nothing living is apparent, and I keep thinking I will slip on something.

I come to a bend in the path, I can hear a more distinct and musical tones over the general din of the cave. I see flakes of crystal falling like snow, and each dissipates with a light, jangly sound, like a muffled xylophone.

crystal flakes

I turn and see a large shape moving down below. It’s a giant crystalline butterfly, like the one in Darkroot Garden, and it’s perched just below me.

butterfly 1

Why did so many of Seath’s creations end up in Darkroot Garden? It’s no closer to Anor Londo than most other place in Lordran, and further than others. Is it possible that, aside from kidnapping Princess Dusk, he was also there to sack Oolacile of its magical records after it fell and the Abyss had been cleared away? Golems may be no more than disposable muscle, after all. Or is it that one of the butterflies escaped, and found a place as similar in dankness and darkness to this cave?

A little further down and I spot a loot corpse on a ledge above me. There’s no place to fall down from, and all the paths here only lead deeper. How am I supposed to reach it?

cave body 1

Then, I remember that final chest I opened before leaving the Archives, the one that held the prism stones. I walk back up. Video game logic 101 tells me that I wouldn’t be given an item with such a specific purpose unless I had a need for it soon after. Those crystal flakes, the way they fall, and then disappear, as if they’re hitting something solid. I had assumed they were bursting in the air, but they are in a straight line from where I’m standing to where that body is. What if?

I take out my prism stones and stand near the edge, with only empty space in front of me. I drop the prism stone, and, as I suspected, it doesn’t plummet into the dark depths of the cave, it lands right at my feet, hanging in the air.

invisible path 1

I step out gingerly, but, like the prism stone, I do not fall. There is an invisible path here. I walk slowly, and in a straight line. Not exactly sure why speed matters, but it feels appropriate. Below is only empty air, so I try not to look down. I make it across, all the way to the ledge with the body, from which I recover a single Humanity.

Down a steep ramp, and I’m on the level with the butterfly. I can see flakes falling here as well, and I follow them to another invisible path, this one more obviously marked by a message hanging in the air.

cave message

I step out and read, “Path ahead.” Thanks for that.

I retreat to visible ground and approach the butterfly. It doesn’t react, but it’s perched far enough away that I can’t hit it with my sword without risking a fall. I’m still hopeful about recovering my body at some point, so that seems like an unnecessary risk. I could just leave it. On the other hand, I only know that it’s docile right now. What if it attacked me later, when I was in a worse position, like when I’m trying to cross an invisible bridge.

butterfly 2

So I throw a knife at it, which wakes it up. It launches into the air, hangs there (still too far away to hit), and starts pelting me with magic missiles and spears of light. I expected that, as it’s what the butterfly in Darkroot Garden did. I wait, and I wait some more, but it just stays there, flapping its wings and out of reach. I blow through 4 flask charges, even with all of my blocking and dodging, before I realize that it’s never going to land, and I have no means of damaging it. I back away, far enough that it stops attacking me, but it still doesn’t return to its perch.

butterfly 3

I leave it there, and sneak across the invisible bridge. I can still hear the aggressive flapping behind me, which is distracting. On the other side of the bridge I am confronted by a huge crystal golem. It rushes at me, but I’m so busy worrying about the butterfly that I take the fight poorly.

big golem

I get hit, then push myself up onto my feet again. I’m out of options, with nowhere to retreat to–a solid wall of crystal at my back, and only the uncertainty of the invisible bridge on my left. Before I have time to drink from my flask, the golem smashes its fists into the ground, causing a nova of crystals to erupt from the ground. They damage me even through my shield, and I finally die. My dream of recovering my body after all that work is gone, and it’s almost fitting that I died the same way now as I did then, being stuck to a crystal pincushion.

I respawn in the library, reverse my Hollowing, run back to the cave. The butterfly is resting again, which is good. This time I leave it alone. I run across the invisible bridge, but realize just a little too late that I’m playing a trick on myself by running toward where my bloodstain is instead of straight across the bridge. I’ve been moving diagonally over a straight line, and I fall over the edge just before reaching the other side, which means I’ve lost not only the body I left with Seath, but everything I’ve earned since then as well. Oh well.

I do it again, and this time I make it across, and the big golem is no trouble now that I’m under no pressure.

There are more butterflies ahead.

butterfly 4

At the bottom of the ramp the golem had been guarding I reach a flat island. There is another butterfly here, but I ignore it while it ignores me. I can see crystal flakes falling nearby, and another message hanging in the air below. I drop a prism stone, which lands safely.

I hop down, then turn and see a small cave hollowed out of the crystal. I hear scurrying sounds, and I run to the cave in time to kill a crystal lizard, which drops some twinkling titanite. I think there were other crystal lizards, but they’ve escaped. I turn back, walk over to the message. “Immanent fall.” That’s not a pleasant idea, but I don’t really have anything to lose anymore, not even pride. Directly below me are a loot body and another big golem.

cave message 2

I drop down to them, kill the big golem, and pick up yet another blue titanite chunk from the body. I search for a way back, and find flakes falling on an invisible path that takes me back to where I killed the first big golem.

At the back of the cave with the crystal lizard is another invisible path, which leads only to open air. It’s kind of peaceful here, not having to worry about monsters.

invisible path 2

I walk out slowly, watching the flakes fall. This one is different from the others: it is either very wide, or it’s not straight, which I can see by the way the flakes fall both ahead of me and to my right. There is a body in the distance, on a ledge somewhere below me. I get the impression that it’s a trap, meant to lure me ahead like my bloodstain did. Though I am sure that I need to take a right turn at some point, I don’t watch carefully enough to see exactly where (the flakes fall randomly, so a lot of patience is required), and I fall to my death.

One bit of good news, though: the big golems don’t respawn, and when I get back to the cave there are a couple more crystal lizards to kill. I get green titanite along with more twinkling titanite, but one still gets away.

I recover my body, and this time I make the right turn. I watch the flakes for a bit longer and realize, to my horror, that this may be more than a simple detour in the path, but could be an invisible maze. I try to turn back, but I’ve confused myself, and I fall again to my death.

It ends up not being that bad. I kill the last crystal lizard, getting more twinkling titainte, and I work my way through the invisible path, which is simple a right turn, a couple of lefts, and then another right, as if it was just going around something, though there’s absolutely nothing else here. I make it across to the body and pick up a blue titanite slab, but there’s nothing else down there. Did I do all of that for something I won’t even use? Probably.

The way back is a little worse, because the glare of the central crystal structure in the cave makes it a challenge to see the flakes falling, but I’ve left markers where I turned, so I just follow them.

Back to the message mentioning an immanent fall. Now I see there are flakes ahead, defining a path across the chasm. What was that message about then?

invisible path 3

I make it across to solid ground. A short right turn, and I’m in another big cavern. The ground here slopes down gradually, and I can see a bunch of those killer clams like the ones in Ash Lake.

clams 1

They have low poise with their skinny little legs, so they smash easily–a single overhead heavy attack to knock them flat, then a followup bash to finish the job before they can stand back up. They also drop twinkling titanite and purging stones, which are used to remove curses. Those might come in handy, as Seath’s crystal attack had some curse buildup.

Past them is an area filled with glowing mist, bisected by a path leadhing to a light source at the back of the cave.

bright light 1

I step into the final section of the Crystal Cave.

Seath the Scaleless

Another cutscene plays. I get a closeup of the bright object at the back of the cave, a delicate crystal like a toothpick sticking out of the ground, and then Seath crashes through the ceiling, getting between me and it.

seath 2

This time, I’m a little more prepared, and the space is bigger. I run up and smack him with my sword, which does no damage to his health bar, though I see damage numbers. The ground erupts with crystal again, and my curse bar ticks up a bit. This pretty much confirms that Seath was invulnerable when I first encountered him, which is why I have to fight him here, in a different place. Following from that, I must now have the means to remove his invulnerability, unless I’m supposed to encounter him a 3rd time, in a different place. I dodge around him, then run toward the back of the cave, but he hits me with a swish of bis giant tail, killing me.

I respawn back in the library. Did I miss a bonfire in the Crystal Cave? I run back down, dodging past the golems and running directly across the invisible bridges (it’s easy when I can line myself up with where I know they end and just run in a straight line). I find a Soul of a Hero on a body near the entrance to the clam cave.

I’m confused before reentering that room. First a boss fight that I couldn’t win and a body that I couldn’t recover, and now a boss fight without a doorway? Then I see that a entrance to the final cave is now covered with light, only it’s grey instead of white.

seath door 1

Maybe that’s just the dark lighting in the cave, because the game still calls it white light.

I look around, testing for hidden walls, but don’t find a bonfire, so I go through the boss door. Seath is standing in the middle of the room again, and this time I make it past him. I destroy the crystal at the back of the cave with a single hit.

crystal 1

Seath is stunned, then recovers with a roar. I run up to him and he shakes his tentacles legs around, killing me again.

The next time I try a different approach. After breaking the crystal, I stay in front of Seath, figuring that his breath attacks will be less dangerous than his tail and those tentacles, which can kill me in a single hit. I beat on him for a while, then remember that he is nominally a dragon, and also attacks with his tail, so I should probably try to cut it off.

I circle around behind him and chop at the base of the tail. I keep doing that until he’s down to less than 1/4th of his HP, but the tail is still intact. Do I need to hit the tip? The problem with that is the end of his tail is often buried in a wall, as the cave is narrow, and his little side tentacles block my way when I’m trying to get around him. On top of that, his most dangerous attacks involve that tail, or the big roar he does before filling the cavern with crystals.

I decide to let him kill me, so that I can try again. I die a few more times while trying to get the tail cut. I know it’s unnecessary, but now I’ve committed. The unfortunate thing is that Seath himself is a chump, but his tail draws the fight out and makes it more difficult than it should be. An artificial elevation of a boss that shouldn’t need it–he’s a dragon empowered by Great Lord Gwyn’s will. That the only danger he presents is with his tail’s attacks just drives the point home: his breath is no real danger to me, and his tail would be easily avoided if I didn’t have to stand next to it for meta-game purposes. It damages the fight as a whole, even without the added difficulty, because I am constantly trying to circle around behind Seath, and Seath is spinning in place trying to keep me in front of him, so that most of the time we’re just dancing instead of fighting. Great lengths of tedium like that only rob an enemy of any sense of danger they might have still had. Bosses do best when they are short and sharp, aggressive and to the point.

After a while I decide to take the easy route and use my Black Knight Greataxe and Greatshield of Artorias so that I can stand behind him and chop away for more damage. I finally catch him during a roar and decide to just take the hits from the crystals so I can chop at the very tip of his tail. It breaks off and I receive a Moonlight Greatsword, which is a weapon that scales with intelligence (and requires 28 intelligence), and not something I can use. With that done, I retreat to the end of the cave and have enough time to change back to my Silver Knight Shield and Dragon Greatsword before he can do anything to me. Then I just run up to him and smack at his torso until he falls over and dies, which really demonstrates how pathetic he is.

“Victory Achieved”

I get a Bequeathed Lord Soul, 1 Humanity, and 60k Souls. The sword tells me that Seath is the grandfather of sorcery, which falls in line with what I’ve already been thinking, as the church seems to hate sorcery, and the biggest school of magic around is the Dragon School of Vinheim.

There is a bonfire in the middle of the cave now. I rest there, admiring the floppy end of Seath’s tail that is still laying on the ground.

seath bonfire

I am stumped once more about what to do with my Souls. I had thought about spending them on titanite to upgrade my armour, but with all of the crystal lizards I’ve killed, and those clams, I’ve got plenty of twinkling titanite, and that’s what I need to upgrade what I’m wearing.

I’m still curious about one thing. I warp out to Anor Londo and fight my way through the library, call the elevator down, and take it up to where I first met Seath. As I’m waiting for the elevator to arrive, I’m dismayed by the realization that I could have accessed it when I got back to the library from the Archive Tower, which means that I was that close to recovering my body before entering the Crystal Cave, but missed it. It’s disheartening, but not as much as it could be, because I also realize that I did survive long enough to recover my Souls, even if I was too dumb to actually do it. I figured that since I couldn’t get to the 2nd library when I first entered the Archives, I wouldn’t be able to get back to that elevator while coming back. A new passage must have opened at some point.

I find that final crystal lizard on the way back up, which means even more twinkling titanite. Back in that original room, a solid layer of crystals covering it from floor to ceiling, is a chest.

seath room

I open it and pick up a Large Magic Ember. I can now make +10 magic weapons, and on a balcony running around the end of the room I find a body with the Soul of a Great Hero, who probably died to Seath the same way I did. Poor guy.

I then warp to the Chamber of the Princess in Anor Londo and run down to the giant blacksmith, who I give the Crystal Ember to. “I make shiny-shiny,” he tells me. I can see a chest behind him, but I can’t get to it while he’s in the way. Wonder what’s inside.

blacksmith chest

I warp to Firelink Shrine and give the Fire Keeper’s Soul to Anastacia, who in turn gives me a +5 Estus flask.

I talk to Griggs again, who tells me that Logan left for the Archives in Anor Londo, and that he’ll go after him once he’s taught me all of his spells. I buy out his inventory, and even buy the special spells he said he learned from Logan. Hopefully that means Griggs will finally move on, as he’s the only one left, aside from the cleric and Ingward, who have both finished whatever they were supposed to do in the game (The cleric probably would have done more if I hadn’t killed Rhea, but I try not to dwell on that too often.). I wonder whatever happened to that pyromancer when I told him I’d seen pryomancy down below Blighttown.

I buy the most expensive spells Grigg has, Soul Spear and Homing Soulmass, for 60k Souls, and then buy the Dragoncrest rings he has, which only boost the effects of magic.

griggs 2

“That’s it then,” he says. Again. I warp away, then warp back, and he’s still there.

I warp back to the Duke’s Archives library and fight my way back down to Logan’s cell, which is empty. To make matters worse, the bonfire in the tower is cut off from other bonfires, so I have to fight my way back out again. I warp back to Firelink Shrine and Griggs tells me that he’s ready to go looking for the Archives now. Progress?

griggs 3

I find Logan again in the library, in the small book-clogged room that only had a single chest with a blue titanite. He’s sitting in the corner mumbling to himself. He tells me that now he will teach me his magic, and is selling spells I bought already from Griggs, as well as some crystal-enhanced versions of other magic.

He then tells me the secret of Seath’s immortality.

logan 3

It amounts to Seath being invulnerable thanks to his special Primordial Crystal, which he stole from the other dragons, which probably would have been good to know before I actually killed him, but better late than never.

Logan then prattles on about the great knowledge Seath has collected here, and seems to have an unhealthy admiration for the big ugly dragon. He ends the conversation by mumbling incoherently. Is he starting to become Hollowed? “We are in the midst of a revolution!” he declares. Who is we? Lordran is empty. A revolution against what? Lordran is empty. And how? I’m reminded that Logan existed 100 years before my time, so anything revolutionary should have been disseminated already. He seems to be confused about the passage of time altogether now, telling me that he hasn’t seen me for ages even though we just talked.

I wonder if he is being affected by the same madness that corrupted Seath, or if simply reaching the goal he’s been after for so long has sapped him of his drive enough to let his Humanity slip. I gather that whatever Seath was researching is related to further exploitation of the Primordial Crystal, though evidently he did figure out the secret of immortality–though that might have ended up being the real problem. What he must have desired was the same type of invulnerability that all other dragons possessed, and what he got was an enhanced version of the curse of the Undead–something that allowed him to become impervious to physical assault, but which left him vulnerable to the same Hollowing that effects humans. I notice that he never spoke, and I assume that he must have been able to at some point. He also displayed rudimentary intelligence in the way he was guarding the Primordial Crystal, which is more than most Undead would manage.

He went mad, and then became Hollowed in some sense. Was he driven to that by the madness, or was the madness brought on by the knowledge that achieving his goal would be his undoing. He was a self-serving being, that much is clear from his willingness to betray his entire race, so it wouldn’t be much of a moral dilemma for him to abuse anyone and everyone in a frantic search for a way to reverse his inevitable Hollowing (how much Humanity could a dragon possess after all?). It seems as likely that his research caused his madness because of something he learned as it would because of something he couldn’t learn: a dawning certainty that his situation was well and truly hopeless would be enough to cause anyone to go Hollowed.

Perhaps it’s the same for Logan. He presents himself as someone who only desires knowledge, but finding it would inevitably only confirm that he had more to learn that he could ever hope to, and nowhere else to go to learn it. While it’s possible that some specific discovery drove Seath mad, and will drive Logan mad, I find it just as likely–and more fitting to the ideas of curse of the Darksign–that finding what they wanted only lead to a quicker end, because that is a life without purpose, and without purpose there is no hope, either.

At the same time, it’s evident that magic is intimately related to Souls and crystals, and crystals are related to curses in some way, apparent not only from the way Seath’s crystal breath causes curses, but by the way becoming cursed crystallizes the victim’s body.

I don’t have enough Souls to buy his spells, so I return to Firelink Shrine. Griggs is still there.

I’m done with him, and Logan, and dragons, and magic. I’m done with invisible paths in murky caves. I’ll rest for now, and then I’ll go back to the one place in Lordran that I feel like I know and understand: the Catacombs and the Tomb of the Giants. One last Lord Soul and I can be done with this.

As for the Duke’s Archives and the Crystal Cave, well, they were interesting. They subverted expectations by conforming to much more traditional video game ideas than many other parts of Dark Souls. From the invulnerable, unbeatable boss, to the random respawn in a prison (Why was I brought there? Why was there a guard for an empty cell? Why was that bonfire disconnected from all the others, and since it was, how did I become connected to it?) to the moving stairs puzzle in the library and the invisible paths in the Crystal Cave. It even had a boss with a protective mechanism that needed to be destroyed (multiple times, since it reformed every time I died, unlike environmental aspects of other boss fights, like the Bed of Chaos). I think that if I dropped into that area from any other game I would have had an even easier time of it, or at least had less of an issue trying to understand it.

But what’s really disappointing is that I raided the archives of a dragon obsessed with the immortal properties of dragon scales, but somehow managed to not find a single actual dragon scale. I only needed one! I’m going to be suck with a +4 Dragon Greatsword for the rest of the game, aren’t I?

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2 thoughts on “Dark Souls Diaries – Day 24

  1. > finding what they wanted only lead to a quicker end

    Incidently, I can tell you without spoiling now that would have Seigmeyer survived, this is also what would have happened to him later in his questline.

    As for the dragon scales : there are 10 scales you can find with a 100% chance (either drops from Hydras or Undead Dragons or chests) and the blue drake very rarely drop some. You must have missed one, maybe in Ash Lake.

    On a side note, you might want to head to where you fought Seath again, just once. There are a couple of places you might want to revisit again for very minor purposes too, but I don’t know if you’d like that to be spoiled or finding it by yourself.

    1. I will probably revisit most places before going to the end, because there are certainly things that I’ve missed, or at least things I want to check again.

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