Today I’m headed into the Catacombs, and then into the Tomb of the Giants, for (hopefully) the final time. These were the first places I visited on my journey through Lordran, and now they’re set to be the last as well.
On my way down, passing through the graveyard again, I take a few minutes to work out a mechanical theory I’ve had in the back of my mind for a while.
Swinging weapons into walls, trees, rocks, whatever, usually causes them to bounce away, incurring a stamina penalty and sometimes causing problems with general combat. It’s meant to simulate fighting with weapons in real environments–you can’t swing a huge polearm around in a tight corridor and expect do well. In the real world, soldiers armed themselves for battles depending on where they would take place, so it’s fine that Dark Souls attempts to emulate that, and occasionally it has some relevance. Not so much that there’s a need to change weapons for such occasions, but there is some attention to be paid to what else might be hit besides an enemy.
So, I understand the mechanic, the reasons it exists, and generally what it’s intended for, but there has always been something inconsistent about it. Not every attack is deflected by solid objects, and it’s probable that the same is true for how shields deflect attacks (even though very few enemies have shields, and fewer still use them for blocking often enough to matter).
I swing at the tombstones in the graveyard until I’m satisfied. I work out first that not every attack can be deflected. I had an inkling of that from my last encounter with those armoured boars in the Duke’s Archives. Jumping attacks (forward+heavy) will always complete their animations, whether they hit a wall, a shield, or heavy armour. From that, I work a little further: why are they like that? Are they special, or is it a property of how their animations work, since their attacks complete earlier, having already gone through the front swing by the time I land.
By standing at different angles and distances, I become relatively satisfied that jumping attacks aren’t unique. Any attack will play out completely once it has reached a late enough animation frame. If I stand next to a tombstone and use the Dragon Greatsword’s heavy overhead attack, it will be deflected by the solid stone every time. If I stand a little further back, allowing the swing to be further along in its animation before it hits the stone, it will not be deflected. The same holds true for the normal attacks, which are horizontal swings. Place the tombstone directly in front of me and my swing will bounce away. If I turn slightly, letting the swing get a little further before it hits the stone, it will go right through. These principals are consistent for every weapon with which I test them.
I’m not sure what practical use any of this is–just knowing that jumping attacks aren’t deflected should be more than enough–but it’s always nice to learn something new.
Anyway . . .
I have a merry old time smashing eleven shades of crap out of all the skeletons that once gave me so much trouble. I rest at each bonfire on the way down, and jump from ledge to ledge until I reach the final tomb.
The hall there, now empty, feels strange. I was so used to seeing that titanite demon hanging out, a fixture nearly as permanent as the dusty coffins themselves.
Speaking of coffins, I have another chance to investigate the one with the open lid. I hop inside again. Maybe acquiring the Lordvessel has changed something?
Eventually, something does happen. A cutscene starts up, and I’m looking out from a first-person view. I see the dirty ceiling, I gaze down at my feet in the cramped space, and suddenly the coffin’s lid starts to shut. I get a brief glimpse of something–at least I think I do, it’s over so fast I can’t be sure–a skull? Then I’m in complete darkness. There is a feeling of movement, heavy and deliberate. A while later, the lid opens again. I get out, only I’m no longer in the titanite demon’s hall. I’m in the Tomb of the Giants, in a dank, grey cave.
I stumble about, somewhat disoriented. There are shallow puddles of old, stagnant water, the sound of constant dripping from the black stalactites above. The cave is doughnut-shaped, with a central clump of rock like the indentation of an angel food cake pan. (Note to self: do less writing while hungry.) I round the nearest curve and find a pair of huge stone coffins leaning against the far wall. Both are open, but one is empty.
The one that isn’t empty has something large and bony, and it’s also moving.
It’s mostly just a huge clump of bones, but I can see little arms waving gently. Could be wind, but I don’t imagine there’s much of a breeze way down here. Whatever that is, it’s alive, in some sense.
I step closer. I can make out a blade now, long and curved. It’s alive, and it’s armed. Is this actually Nito? Seems a bit premature. I prepare myself mentally for a fight.
A little closer and a message pops up: “Pray to the sarcophagus Gravelord.”
I get down on my knees. The only options are to enter a covenant or to leave.
I was already prepared to break my covenant with Kaathe. I feel no loyalty to the Darkwraiths, nor do I think I share their principals, at least not to the extremes that they’ve demonstrated so far. I’m happy to leave if the alternative is better.
What are the alternatives? There’s the Way of White, which I prefer to have no truck with, as they’re as contrary to my goals as can be. The Princess’s Guards? I wouldn’t want to join them, and I couldn’t anymore. Same with the Blades of the Darkmoon. There may be others that I haven’t discovered yet, but at this point I probably won’t, either. Of the options left, there seems to be only the ancient dragon’s clique, which is as appealing to me as a bath in a deep fat fryer, the Daughter of Chaos’s covenant, and Nito’s.
Realistically, I’m not sure what any of them would actually do for me. I assume that, like when I joined those other covenants, I would be given a spell and possibly a weapon. From context, I can also assume that joining with the Daughter of Chaos would give me some pyromancy. What would Nito give me? Since I don’t use any of that stuff anyway, it wouldn’t make a difference in my decision.
So I’m left with what each of them represents. The dragons, which I would never join in with, are the old way. The embrace of prehistoric anarchy, a time when community was attained through brutality, and life was red in tooth and claw. The Daughter of Chaos is a symbol of a way that is not as old, but is also about failure, which might have been admirable, except that I can feel from them remorse, and regret, but that is a fixation on past tragedy that has nothing to do with humans and offers no hope for the future.
Nito, though. He is in many ways the most mysterious of the original Lords. What do I know about him? That he’s the god of death, and apparently he’s just sleeping it off in his casket down here. The elephant in the room is what does a god of death have to do with a curse of undeath? Is his complacency a part of the problem, or a symptom of it? Could he do anything about the curse if he had the inclination, or does the fact that he has no power over a world increasingly full of the not-dead cause him to shut himself away? It’s simply odd that a world so obsessed with undeath seems to have forgotten about the god that should be most intimately related to it, or who would at least be able to understand it best. You’d think that a mission by a chosen Undead to find the cause and the cure for such an ailment would be less concerned with raiding Anor Londo and meeting up with the Great Lord of Sunlight or his children (Speaking of, how exactly did that Princess Gwynevere ruse work? Shouldn’t anyone coming from outside Lordran be well aware that she left Anor Londo ages ago? How does a goddess the size of a small cottage go into hiding, especially if she’s known to be married to another god that is apparently still known and worshipped in the lands beyond Lordran? Did the gods leave Anor Londo and set up a new Mount Olympus, where they’re still hidden away from and ignoring humans and their problems?) than it would be with finding the literal lord and god of death.
And that’s the situation. Nito is either incapable or uncaring, and both of those make him about as useful an ally as any of the other gods, but I figure at least he’s not trying to run my life in the meantime, which I can appreciate.
I enter a covenant with Nito, which grants me a Sword Dance miracle, which requires no faith to use, but would still mean replacing my healing spell in order to equip, and I doubt I’d get much use from it at this point anyway. It also tells me that Nito is basically napping while still doing his duties as the lord of death. Maybe we’ve just reached the point where he can do it while asleep. According the Eyes of Death I’ve picked up, his servants are supposed to spread disaster to other worlds, but I won’t be doing any of that. That does imply that he’s a more malevolent deity than the others, at least overtly, but, honestly, who can even tell the difference anymore?
I also get the Gravelord Sword, which looks somewhat like the blade Nito himself holds. It’s a curved greatsword, like the Server I found in Blighttown. A bit ugly to look at, and I do not like the weird flourishes involved in each attack. It has very high base damage, but terrible stat scaling, so that I’m sure I’m well past the point where it would be useful to me anyway.
There’s nothing else in this cave. I try throwing knives at Nito, because why not toss daggers at the literal God of Death? Nothing happens, so I leave. I get back into the coffin, and the lid shuts on me again (I swear I saw a skull!). Darkness, and then I get out back in the titanite demon’s hall. Guess that’s just a way to access the covenant, and not a means to shortcut through the Tomb of the Giants. I’ll still have to go through that place.
I slide down the ladder to the bottom of the Catacombs. The pair of skeletons there block my way and punch me in the feet a few times. I fall, then get to my feet and splatter their bones all over the room.
Next are the skeleton wheels.
I lure them out in small groups and clobber them once they’ve missed me. One of them rolls right through the valley wall, which seems to happen fairly often. A minute later it finally hits the bottom of the map and dies.
I visit the skeleton blacksmith. He reminds me that I’m still carrying that last magic ember by complaining that he can’t use it with his crackling, distorted voice.
He goes on to tell me that he would really love the embers from New Londo and Lost Izalith, even though I gave those to him a long time ago. I upgrade some random gear, figuring that I may as well spend Souls on something.
I then get to Pinwheel’s lair. I wonder now where he got all of those books from. Could he have made trips into the Duke’s Archives at one point?
Tomb of the Giants
I’m well aware that my journey through Lordran has been nearly as upside down and backwards as is possible. While some of that is the fault of the master key, much more of it is my pig-headed determination to see whatever I start through to the end.
Looking back, I can ask myself whether or not I would have done things differently, had I known ahead of time. There are paths that I would have left for later, and I would have liked a steadier course with less time wasted trekking my way through dungeons only to come up against impassible doorways. However, there is one thing that I do not regret, and that is going through the Catacombs first.
It’s not for any meta-game reason, either. Sure, I picked up the Rite of Kindling before I even rang a bell–and finding that gave me the clue I needed to figure out what Kindling was actually for (I would have figured it out soon after anyway, once I had access to more Humanity)–but I’ve kindled about 3 bonfires in total throughout the game, and the only one that was kindled fully was the bonfire at Firelink Shrine, and that only because the Fire Keeper there did it for me. I didn’t take particular advantage of the items I found there, either. The only weapon I carried out of that place that mattered was the Winged Spear, and I got that from the graveyard.
None of that mattered. What did is that the Catacombs was just fun.
Then, there’s the Tomb of the Giants. It’s a an odd case. Like the Demon Ruins and New Londo, when I made it to the end I found that I couldn’t progress, which made it feel like a waste of time, and to make matters worse, I went through the entire place without a light, which I doubt is recommended. Do I regret going through it like I did? Yes, and no.
What I regret is the same thing I regret about the other Lordvessel areas, that I powered through it without regard to whether or not I could make real progress, which contributed to the feeling that I’ve been over-levelled and over-geared (even though I didn’t do much weapon or armour upgrading) since before I arrived in Anor Londo, and really ever since then.
What I don’t regret, though, is going through it without a light. Because now that I do have lights–both the Skull Lanterns the Nercomancers used and the Sunlight Maggot hat I took from poor Solaire’s corpse in Lost Izalith–the curtains are pulled back, and Tomb of the Giants is now much less interesting than it had been.
It’s particularly odd because it’s obvious the game was designed so that the player could have access to a light source, as a Necromancer drops a lantern on the way through the Catacombs, and there is the Cast Light spell that Dusk sells (and what other possible use would it have?) as well as the Sunlight Maggot.
I say the game was designed that way, but it doesn’t seem like Tomb of the Giants itself was.
When I came through here in the dark it was unknown. The lack of vision created a pervasive sense of danger. It was much like going through the Catacombs was–by taking away my sigh and putting me up against relatively strong and aggressive enemies, I was at a disadvantage again, and I had to fight for every centimetre of progress. I think that if I hadn’t been stymied when I made it to the bottom then I wouldn’t have felt anything that wasn’t positive about getting through it without seeing where I was going.
I contrast my encounters with the first skeleton then and now.
When I came here in the dark I cautiously took steps over an overturned stone casket, then heard the distinct shuffling of bony bodies, and then saw those glowing eyes hovering in the gloom. I approached, and saw the giant skeleton only when he was already swinging his sword at my head. That was dangerous. That was exciting.
Now, I have my lantern. I walk forward, holding it up, and I see the giant skeleton waiting for me. I see him, and somehow he does not see me. That’s where things fall apart.
Without a light I have no advantages here. When I see them, they’ve already seen me, and I have to depend on my other senses to keep myself alive, to even know where I can move during a fight without hitting my back up against a wall or falling off a cliff. With a light I see them well before they see me. It’s not that the light has put me on equal footing–the light is a straight advantage back in my favour, and it chases the danger, and the excitement, away like so many shadows.
It’s a bizarre oversight. I could understand wanting to give the player a light, but I don’t understand not accounting for it when designing the area and the enemies within. Like many other aspects of Dark Souls, there is this unfortunate sense of it being hard, but only until the player has what they need to progress, and at that point the game just rolls over and lets them get on with it. If I had come through Tomb of the Giants my first time with a light I would have been robbed of that experience, and I would have been even more disappointed than I am now.
The problem is not just that my pulling out a bright lantern seems to not give any of these brainless bone piles an idea that someone might be coming (are they blind? if so, why the glowing eyes, and why are the ones outside of Tomb of the Giants obviously able to see?), but that now I can just splatter them before they can react.
There is no give and take here, no decision to be made. If, on the one hand, I could go through blind, but only attract enemies when I was close enough for their limited vision to see me, that might be a valid choice if the alternative was shining a light so bright that every skeleton for 10 square kilometres knows where I am and starts coming after me. That would make it feel as if the game was reacting to me, instead of a puzzle being solved and a problem disappearing.
Anyway, I’d already had a bonfire down that is a warp point. I came the long way because I wanted to see what that would be like to do it properly, but also because I think I missed some things in my rush to get away last time I was down here. My plan now is to use a light to clear out the entire area, at which point it will be safe to explore and find anything I’ve missed. To that end, I put away the Skull Lantern and put on my Sunlight Maggot hat instead. All considerations of losing the poise and defence from my Gargoyle Helm are moot when I can just kill every enemy before they have a chance to attack.
What do I find? There’s a corpse holding a single Humanity next to the final ramp, the one that slides down to where I met Patches and found the first bonfire. There is also another item, the one I was thinking of when I started this, on a ledge silhouetted by the light coming from Ash Lake.
I kill everything in the Tomb, except for the pack of skeletons in that huge casket-like room, the one where I found the ember. It’s not that I’m particularly scared of them, more that I remember last time I tried to get down there I slid right through the floor, and I’d rather avoid a silly death like that. I don’t think there was anything else in there anyway.
I can’t find a way over to that body, though. I look for ways to drop down, but the problem is that once I get a fair distance away, the item disappears in the limited draw distance, so from above I can’t see where it is. Finally, I find my way by just rolling up the wall, using its slope to get up onto the ledge. It’s something that seems possible in the real world, but not anything I’d expect to happen in Dark Souls, where vertical movement is nearly impossible unless I’m falling.
I take a step toward the body, and half a dozen bone pillars erupt from the ground around me. I am startled, because I figured I’d already found and killed every enemy around.
Once I’ve regained my composure, I knock them all down, and pick up a Covetous Silver Serpent Ring from the corpse. It says it will give me extra Souls from kills while I wear it. The last thing I need now is more Souls, but it’s nice to have for my collection.
That done, I’m satisfied that I’ve found all there is worth finding in the Tomb of the Giants. I’m ready to move on.
I make it down to the cave that was blocked off by the golden light. While preparing to take a screenshot, I hear the telltale sound of a crystal lizard, and I run to the cave mouth just in time to see it disappear before my sword hits. At the same time, I get a message telling me that I’m being invaded by Dark Paladin Leeroy. I wait in the tunnel, unsure of where Leeroy will attack me from, but sure that he will find me if I wait for him. After a few seconds, he comes at me from behind, from the direction of Tomb of the Giants.
He is holding a massive hammer. The first thing he does when I’m in range is try to smash me with it using a heavy, 2-handed overhead attack. I take that off my shield, still moving. There is a bit of damage, but nothing serious; he must do some magical damage or something, like the other Paladin types I’ve fought. Too bad for him, he’s presented his back to me. I get my critical attack, which kills him in a single blow. I receive around 25k Souls (probably more than I would have since I’m wearing the Silver Serpent Ring–I just wanted to see what percentage more Souls it would give when I killed an enemy I for which I already knew the Soul value), and from his body I recover a single Humanity for my counter, a pair of Humanity for my inventory, and his weapon and shield. The hammer is called Grant, and requires 50 strength and 30 faith to use properly, which is outside of my budget. It has a special 2-handed heavy attack like the dragon weapons, some sort of light burst that explodes in every direction, but I probably can’t use that properly. The shield is Sanctus, which has moderate stability and passable defences, but also comes with a light HP regeneration buff. Like the hammer, it requires faith to use properly, and a bit of HP regeneration isn’t that big of a deal for me these days.
I look out from here. Kind of amazing how I’ve delved so far underground but still haven’t reached the cloud cover above Ash Lake.
I pause to get a snack. Upon restarting the game, I hear the crystal lizard again. It’s back, right where it was when I missed it. I kill it and gain green and twinkling titanite. Does restarting the game like that reset some spawns? It doesn’t make any of the enemies come back. I wonder if I could have used that method to find the crystal lizards in the Great Hollow, or the ones in Oolacile that were always too far away to get to in time.
At the end of the tunnel I come out into a wider cave, which isn’t pitch black.
All is quiet here except for the distant sound of water dripping. I feel like I’m getting close. I hope there’s a bonfire soon. I haven’t rested at one since part way through the Catacombs.
On my left is a narrow cliff path. I take it, travelling along the cave wall. A bone pillar pops out of the ground, dies. I walk further, and I can see the path ahead getting a little wider, so I am not at all surprised when another bone pillar pops up there, but it isn’t alone. I kill it, spin around and kill another that’s appeared behind me. I can hear heavy arrows being fired. I turn back and see another bone pillar, and behind it is a giant archer.
I pick up a white titanite chunk from the first bone pillar’s corpse, then use the Dragon Greatsword’s shockwave attack to kill the bone pillar guarding the archer. As I charge in to take that guy out, I realize that he’s going to have a giant skeleton guarding him, waiting to ambush me from around the corner when I get close. It’s too late to stop, so I slash into the archer, killing it. The skeleton fighter is there, and he tries to kick me over the edge of the cliff, but I move just in time to avoid that big foot. I attack it, but it dodges away, and for a moment I think it’s going to jump over the edge like so many other skeletons have, but it doesn’t, so I just finish the job myself. I’m getting overkill damage against all of these enemies, which is nice.
Further on, through another small tunnel, and I find a room choked with suspiciously regular piles of bones.
I get closer, but they don’t move. I can see that they are full skeletons, bent over in kneeling adoration and prayer.
I smash a couple, but nothing happens. They aren’t animated, so they’re of no concern. Beyond them I can see some real enemies. They look like clones of Pinwheel, and I can see at least 3 of them in the cavern. When I move out of the tunnel the first of them spots me and starts throwing fireballs in my direction. I duck back behind cover, and a few seconds later I see something completely new: a little baby skeleton totters into view, a big stupid skull-grin on its face.
It tries to attack me, but has such low range that it doesn’t have much chance of making contact. I kill it. It’s not worth many Souls. I wonder where it came from.
I walk out again and count 1, 2, 3, 4 of the Pinwheels, all far enough away that I’ll have to go through the fireballs to get at them.
Really wish I’d rested at that last bonfire.
I get a little further in, falling to the same level as the Pinwheels. One of the Pinwheels falls over the ledge, landing in some water below. Another throw’s fireballs at me, and I duck into a nook where I have cover. There is a body holding the Soul of a Hero. Soon, another baby skeleton wanders over to me. It dies.
There is a narrow ledge leading from my side of the cavern to the side with all of the Pinwheels. I cross it quickly and find a pillar to take cover behind. I can see the 3 nearest Pinwheels, 2 in front of me and another above. Then the Pinwheel that had fallen into the water starts shuffling back to its original spot, which is where I’m standing now. I can see it coming at me, and I’m getting flashbacks to the Catacombs again, when all those skeletons I’d knocked over ledges had come marching back up at me.
He forces my hand, throwing a fireball that hits the pillar I’m hiding behind and explodes through it, hitting against my shield. I didn’t have much of a plan when I started, and what little I did have is falling apart. I try to back away, figuring that I can reset and try again. I get across the bridge, but then my back runs up against a ledge there. I can’t retreat any further, the fireballs are coming thick and fast, and the only way to avoid getting hit by 4 of them is to take the same way out that the Pinwheel did, so I run forward and drop to the water below.
Immediately, a bunch of baby skeletons attack me. I kill them, and then there are more. I’m trying to keep my eyes on the Pinwheels above, who are still tossing fireballs at me, but the baby skeletons don’t stop. They punch away at my ankles, which is building bleed damage on me. The more I kill, the more they come, and quickly I realize that they won’t stop. Seems any contact with water causes them to appear, which must be why they came at me before: when the Pinwheel hit the water it created some of the baby skeletons. One of the baby skeletons drops a Humanity.
I keep slashing the baby skeletons, now having cover from the Pinwheels. I heal when I can, and, now realizing that I’m never going to stop them all, I ignore them and run, looking for a way out of the water. Thankfully, the baby skeletons seem to be limited in their spawns: although they will keep coming as long as I kill them, no more than about 5 will show up at once. If I get some distance from them I’ll have breathing room.
I find a ramp that leads back up, out of the water and to where the Pinwheels are standing. There’s even a Pinwheel guarding the bottom of it. I run to the lone Pinwheel and hit him with an overhead smash, putting him on his face, which buys me the time to get around him, onto dry ground. I kill him when he stands up again. He drops a white titanite chunk. The baby skeletons have caught up, but from dry land I can kill them off without more spawning.
I climb to the top of the ramp. I can hear the clanking of lamps. Those other Pinwheels are just around the corner.
I step out and get their attention, then duck back behind the wall. I want to time their fireballs and attack them during a gap. Another fireball bleeds through the wall, hitting my shield and knocking me back into the water. I run back, kill the baby skeletons that spawn, and try again.
Now they’ve spread out a bit more. I time the fireballs, standing further from the wall. I find a gap, step out and use my shockwave attack to kill the nearest Pinwheel, then step back behind cover. I step out again, using my heavy attack to hit another of the Pinwheels, knocking it over. Another hits me in the back with a fireball. I run to cover and heal, using a flask instead of my spell as I’m worried about being hit through the wall again. Recharged, I step back out once more. It takes one final attack to kill the injured Pinwheel, and the last one, now completely alone, is easy pickings. It drops a Mask of the Mother, which slightly raises max HP.
With the room secured, I’m able to explore a bit. I go back down to the water and find a body with a white titanite chunk.
Behind where I killed the final Pinwheel is the focus of the silent skeletal genuflection. A wall of red sticks and crude rugs blocks the way to a doorway of white light, which I figure must be the way to the boss.
There is a body up there with the Soul of a Hero. I’m feeling more keenly than ever that the last bonfire I rested at was way up in the Catacombs. Do I want to risk a boss fight now?
I look around the room for another path, maybe a way to another bonfire. I find a passage leading to a body with a with a white titanite slab, but no bonfires.
I decide to play it safe. I run back to the Tomb of the Giants and rest at the lower bonfire. I figure that will be that, and I’ll smack around a few bone pillars and giant skeletons and then I’ll be at the boss door.
Unfortunately, all of the Pinwheels respawn as well. At least this time I know my route through them. I drop into the water, kill the one at the bottom of the ramp (another Mask of the Mother and white titanite chunk), then pick the rest off one by one, using the cover provided to isolate them from the fireballs the others throw. It’s simple and not at all dangerous. They drop more white titanite chunks.
I’m ready. I step through the white light.
I’m standing next to a hole, and below is a familiar cave. That’s where I made my covenant with the Gravelord.
I drop through the hole. When I land I lose most of my remaining health. A cutscene plays as I hit the ground. A closeup of the Gravelord’s coffin, and this time he’s awake. He pulls himself out, giving me a nice look at his blade, and the fight starts.
The first thing I want to do is heal from the fall. I pull out my flask, hear a scream, and a blade shoots out of the ground at my feet before I can drink, knocking me into the air and reducing me to a thing sliver of HP as well as building bleed damage. I scramble to my feet and hurriedly drink from my flask, this time getting the heal off before another blade hits me, right after another scream. I get up again, and now there are a couple of skeletons, bones the colour of old soot, rushing at me. I move around the central rock formation to engage them, putting it between me and Nito. The screams stop, and so do the blades. Not difficult to put 2 and 2 together on that one. Safe from that, I can deal with the skeletons. I knock them over. They get back up again.
So Nito is keeping them alive. Great.
I knock them down again, then run around the room, passing by where the coffin had left me. Now I’ve got a bunch of black giant skeletons running after me along with the little ones, and I haven’t even really seen Nito. Nito gets sight on me. I hear the scream, time out an extra heartbeat, and roll. The blade pops up, but misses me. I get close to Nito and smack him with my sword, which does decent damage.
Nito respawns by crouching down, gathering his cape about him with a crackle of black energy. I recognize the signs and back away. A couple of seconds later he releases waves of foul energy in every direction. I have my shield up, so I don’t take too much damage, but all of his skeletons are unprotected, and they die (temporarily). I run up and give him a few shots before his minions can recover.
With that, I have figured out the fight. I could switch to a weapon that does divine damage, as apparently that’s what you use against the undead, but that’s a little impractical right now, so the next best option is to ignore the skeletons that I can’t kill anyway and let Nito’s carelessness deal with them. The small ones can’t stagger me without multiple hits, and the big ones are too slow to be more than a casual menace, so as long as I stay close to the boss I’m pretty safe, as his attacks are even easier to see coming than the rest of the skeletons
Once, I nearly get surrounded, and the skeletons form a solid wall between me and Nito, so I just run around the room and attack him from the other side. I assume that’s why the arena is the shape that it is. The only real obstacle to the fight is that Nito has a weird hurtbox, so that even if I’m standing cheek to cheek with him my attacks sometimes miss. I’m also vastly stronger than I need to be, which is a shame, because the fight seems like fun otherwise, and it’s over much too soon.
I gain 3750 Souls when all of the skeletons die, then 60k Souls a bit later from Nito. I also get a Humanity and a Lord Soul.
On a nearby corpse I find a set of Paladin Armour, which is what Leeroy had been wearing. They tell me of how he was the first Undead to be sent on a mission by the Way of White. How long ago must that have been, and why did he come to the Catacombs instead of ringing the bells? Did he also figure that finding the Lord of Death would be a better idea, or had the bells not been discovered yet? That would mean that he came even before Big Hat Logan and Black Iron Tarkus, and they probably didn’t go through the Catacombs.
There is a bonfire next to Nito’s sarcophagus. I rest and repair my Dragon Greatsword.
I feel disappointed all over again. I wish I’d come through here first now, as it was far and away the best fight out of the Lordvessel bosses, but I am too strong to enjoy it now.
Griggs is still there. If he hasn’t left by now, he’s never going to leave. I’m ready to go after Lord Gwyn, so if he expects to get into Anor Londo he might want to do it before whatever goes down, goes down.
As my trip into Tomb of the Giants was so short, and the next place I’m going will probably be the end, I decide that now is as good a time as any to go through some of the other areas again, to see if there is anything I’ve missed.
The first place I go is Anor Londo, where I visit the giant blacksmith and manage to get around him to that chest he was blocking. I pick up the Hawk Ring, which belonged to Hawkeye Gough, and completes my collection of the rings belonging to Gwyn’s Four Knights. It extends the range of bows, so it’s not something for which I will have much use.
(I can warp to the Alter of the Gravelord, but he’s still dead, so I guess I can’t do anything else with that covenant.)
Next, I warp to the Abyss, but Kaathe has nothing to say, even after my trips into the past and acquiring all of the Lords Souls. Maybe I have to take them to the alter to get more out of him.
I warp to the Sanctuary Garden to talk to Elizabeth the mushroom, to see if she’ll finally acknowledge my defeat of Manus. Only, that’s the wrong spot, and when I try to leave I am confronted with something unexpected: where there had once been a single Sanctuary Guardian chimera, there are now two.
Rather than back away and use the proper warp spot, I decide to take the fight, never mind that I’m sitting on 165k Souls and a couple of Humanity.
It does not go well. They force me against a wall and get so close that I can’t even see where I am, then beat on my till I die.
There is a slight amount of panic in me when I respawn back at Firelink Shrine. I warp to Sanctuary Garden once more, and this time I don’t let them corner me. I stay nearer the mouth of the tunnel and coax them into getting close to it, where I can hit them without them being able to flank me. After I’ve killed one, I decide to head into the open where I can fight the other on its own terms.
They don’t drop anything (I do cut another tail, though), and are worth few Souls. To top it off, Elizabeth still won’t give me any credit. Maybe that’s also why Kaathe doesn’t say anything about Oolacile; I’ve broken that quest line completely by not seeing Dusk on my way out.
I take my final ember down to New Londo and give it to the smith there. He’s pretty happy about that.
Where to next? I’ve already combed through Darkroot Garden and Darkroot Basin, and I’ve been through Undead Burg now and again as well. I’ve been around Undead Parish, so the only place there I could revisit is the Depths, though I’d rather not. Same goes for Izalith and New Londo, but I can’t see any reason to return to those places.
Except that there’s one thing niggling at the back of my mind. Well, not a thing, but a person. That pyromancer I rescued from the Depths. He’s the only NPC I haven’t accounted for. Everyone else I’ve met is either dead or no longer has anything to say to me. That pyromancer, though, told me he was going to look for some spells, and unlike Griggs, he actually left.
I warp to Quelaag’s Domain. I talk to the egg carrier there and upgrade my pyromancy flame to +15, because why not? Up or down? What are the chances he made it as far as Lost Izalith, or even do the Demon Ruins, and do I want to go through all of that again? Do I want to go through the Blighttown swamp, for that matter? I decide to take the path of least resistance and most annoyance, which means heading up, putting on my Iron Ring, and running through that toxic water again.
I find the pyromancer in roughly the same place that Siegmeyer had been napping. Convenient.
Too bad I didn’t get to him sooner, as apparently he couldn’t wait any longer, and has become Hollowed. When he spots me coming he circles into the swamp, becoming poisoned, and without uttering a word he begins to lob fireballs at me.
With a resigned heart, I put him out of his misery. I gain a paltry 1000 Souls, and no items. He never found whatever it was that he left to find.
With his death, the only NPCs I have left are Griggs, Logan, Ingward, the various merchants and smiths, and Dusk of Oolacile. I run through a bit of Royal Woods, but find nothing, and probably should have expected that, as it’s DLC content and shouldn’t depend on what I’m doing in the game proper. I could go back to Ash Lake, but that area seemed optional to begin with. I could go to the Great Hollow and try the save and reload trick to get more crystal lizards, but I have no need for more titanite.
I warp to the Duke’s Archives and talk to Logan. I buy as many of his spells as I can, leaving him with only 5, which come to a total cost of 140k Souls, even after I’ve used all of my Undead Souls.
I don’t even bother to see if Griggs is still hanging around Firelink Shrine. I just need some rest, because tomorrow it’s time to go after Gwyn, and hopefully put an end to all of this.