Dark Souls 2 Diaries – Day 05

I’m rich. At least relative to my power and position. Over 50,000 Souls so early on is an unexpected windfall, and I have to be careful about how I spend. I have enough that I could bump myself up to over twice my current Soul level, and that seems like overkill. I have already proven to myself that I can take on greater challenges, so I don’t want to use those accomplishments to fund an easy path through the next half of the game.

But first, some general upkeep. I take my awestones to the Victory Stone and donate them? Sacrifice them? Pay them?

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There are 6 in total, and each vanishes in a puff of light. A message tells me that I have deepened my devotion to my Covenant, but nothing happens otherwise.

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I talk to the cat next, checking my Covenant rankings. I am still rank 0 in the Company of Champions. I probably need 10 awestones donated for the next rank.

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The cat also has some convenient Soul sinks, which is exactly what I’m looking for. The more I dump into items of dubious use, the less I will end up spending on premature levels. I buy the Silvercat Ring (reduced falling damage), the Ring of Whispers (can hear hidden enemies), and the Ring of the Evil Eye (gain HP after every kill). The first two because I want to see what they do, and the Evil Eye because I want to see if it has improved at all. I also buy a few prism stones. Maybe they will have a use. I take off my Ring of Binding, which has lost its use now that I can become human and regain my maximum health whenever needed, and put on the Ring of Whispers and the Ring of the Evil Eye. That is all my ring slots filled.

Next, I talk to Licia in the underground tunnel. I don’t have enough Souls for her ring that increases faith, and still don’t feel like committing to miracles. Should I ask her to move the path? I suppose I have more than enough to pay her to move it back, and I’ve already been through the Tower of Flame and secured bonfires around it.

 

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As expected, there is no visible magic going on. I bow my head, and when I’m not looking she presses the button, and then kneels in mock prayer as the wall behind her rotates, opening up the new path. I still can’t activate the button on my own. What’s her trick?

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While the way on to the Tower of Flame is now blocked by a heavy iron grate, the way back up to Majula is still open. I guess this was a one time payment, which is fine by me. Licia still has the general attitude of someone trying to pawn miracles off on a street corner, which is not what I look for in a priest.

I check out the new path. The loot corpse I could see through the window is holding rouge water, an item that restores both HP and spell charges. For a spell casting character, access to an item like this might be enough to justify the 2000 Souls Licia charged to press a button, but that’s not me.

 

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The rough, natural tunnel soon opens up into a wider cave, with a cliff path curving around its outer wall and a straight drop into blackness taking up the rest of the space. Standing here, I realize that I am not hearing the rush of sea air, or the ceaseless pounding of waves against ruins or rocky cliffs. There is no monster growling, no Hollowed groaning. Only a deep silence that borders on intrusive, like it’s trying to block out the outside world. I don’t like it.

After carefully navigating the narrow cliff path, I take another tunnel, still climbing upward. It opens up at the top, revealing a quiet evening scene, and also a lone figure sitting on a high-backed chair facing the cave wall.

 

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I walk over and introduce myself.  I don’t get a name, or anything else except for a male voice telling me that my weakness is interrupting his ability to peer into the darkness. This guy is sitting alone in a cave and wearing a sack over his dead. So, I mean, it’s another crazy asshole Undead, no surprise there. But I have not yet encountered this single-minded weirdness. Maybe it’s some sort of Hollowed meditation? At least he’s not whining about not knowing what he’s doing here.

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I leave the cave and enter Hunstman’s Copse. There is a bonfire nearby.

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I light the bonfire, then stand near the edge of a cliff. To my left is a dark forest with a cloud of dark birds circling. That must be the Forest of Fallen giants and the fortress within.

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To my right, which is the direction I would have to go if I continued through this area, is a walled city or fort set against a mountainous backdrop. I can see an odd black shape sticking out, above the walls. A tower? A weapon?

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I can hear the grunts of nearby Hollowed, but I’m not interested in continuing here. I have seen what it is, that there is a new area to explore, and found a relay bonfire. I sit down and warp to the fortress in the Forest of Fallen Giants to do business with the old hag merchant.

As soon as I arrive, I hear a strange, directionless groaning. It wasn’t here before. Is it because of the Ring of Whispers? It’s freaking me out a bit, because I can’t see anything, and nothing attacks me. But it’s supposed to reveal hidden enemies, so maybe that’s the point. Just to be safe, I rest at the bonfire while I consider my next move. After taking some notes, I get up and remove the ring. The sound stops. Nothing attacks me. I put the ring back on, and the groaning starts up again immediately. I can’t tell where it’s coming from, if it’s getting closer, but if nothing is going to come after me then there’s nothing I can do about it.

I talk to Melentia, still hearing the groans in the background. I buy all her effigies, and she gives me a Covetous Silver Serpent Ring +1. This increases the Souls reward for kills, and is not something I’m likely to have a use for, but it’s a nice gesture for having spent a bunch of Souls. I wonder if the other vendors do the same thing.

 

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When I leave the bonfire area I no longer hear the groaning sounds. When I warp back to Majula I don’t hear them, either. In fact, after warping to every other bonfire I have access to, I find that the only place I hear the groaning is near the fortress bonfire. I first heard itas I was leaving Hunstman’s Copse, on my way to the Forest of Fallen Giants bonfire. Hmm.

I warp to Hunstman’s Copse and look around a bit more. Near the bonfire is the entrance to another cave. I can see someone kneeling in the dirt, staring at nothing. A Hollowed, sure, but not hostile. There is another one laying in the grass, lazily scratching at the tough, rocky ground.

 

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The kneeling Hollowed is laughing, a low chuckle that doesn’t communicate anything like joy or humour. Standing near them I can hear the distinctive groaning of the ring, as I could in the fortress bonfire. I run back to the bonfire and warp to Majula. The groaning doesn’t follow. Why only at those two bonfires?

I am distracted when I remember the armourer in Majula. Maybe he has something I can spend my Souls on. I get annoyed once again by not being able to compare what is on sale to what I have equipped, but after going in and out of menus I confirm that my Watchdragon parma is a better version of the medium shield for sale, with greater resistances to elements and magic damage. While checking that, I notice there is a column of bonuses for my equipped shield. Which of my stats are they coming from?

 

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I look over the resistances again, this time actually paying attention. Recent events are telling me that I need to take less for granted. I notice there is now one stat for curses, and another for petrification. They are no longer the same thing, as I’d already experienced. So, what do curses do now? There is also a darkness resistance, where I’m pretty sure that in Dark Souls 1 darkness was a combination of magical and physical damage. What I come away with is that my basic resistances from stats might carry over onto my shield, but what is less clear is how much of a difference that would make. I seriously doubt any investment I made that would significantly alter the power of a shield would be worthwhile compared to putting stats toward basic needs like damage and gear requirements and then using a shield with better base stats. If that were the case, then it would defeat the purpose of having heavier, more powerful shields in the first place.

In the end, I get nothing useful from the armourer. A recent loading screen popped up for a Winged Spear, which makes me hopeful that there will be a weapon in the spear range that is more specialized to my needs. If possible, I’d like to spend these Souls on something else, so that I will be able to swiftly adapt to whatever stat requirements a Winged Spear might have, should I find one.

Wanting to clear my head a bit, I walk over to the Majula pig pen. When I get close, I hear the disembodied groaning sound. When they die, it stops. That’s something. I warp to Things Betwixt and run out to the tutorial area, into the first tree. I get near one of the Hollowed inside. I hear the groaning. I move away, and the groaning stops. Well, that explains that. I am hearing the sound of nearby enemies and Hollowed, not the sound of hidden enemies. What I’m hearing in the fortress must be because of nearby Hollowed soldiers.

I talk to the blacksmith, buy his last titanite shards. I upgrade my Merchant’s Hat. I like the extra item find, and the monocle, and it’s not as if I can’t make it without a heavier helmet.

That done, I have nothing else to buy, so I spend my last Souls on 6 points of vitality. This puts my total equipment load back under 50%. I had considered putting the points into adaptability again, but now that I’ve played more of the game I am less interested in it than I was when I first discovered the new stat. Whatever agility is supposed to do for rolls, I know already that my current invulnerability frames are getting the job done. Besides, if the option is better rolls across the board, or reducing my weight so that I get faster roll animations, I’m certain that the reduced weight is more important right now. It’s possible that I’m wrong, but not probable. It makes little sense to hide such an important, and well known, system behind a nebulous statistic like agility when players can see without aid that having lower weight completely changes the way a character rolls. I would have to know frame data and break points to confirm my theories, and as I’ve said, what I have already is good enough. If I were finding my dodges to be lacking it would be a different story, and chances are that agility only becomes an important factor once the roll animation is final–it would be important for a character that is already rolling as fast as they can, but not for a character that is still hovering around 50% weight and could be lower.

Resistances are trickier, especially after seeing that stuff with the shields, but equipment still makes up the bulk of those stats, and if I can wear better gear because of weight limits that would be solving the same problem and allow for greater flexibility in the long run.

On top of that, I know what vitality and equip load do. I can be sure of what my investment will get me. I am only guessing with adaptability. When I have more space for experimentation, maybe I can test a few things, but for now it makes more sense to stick with what is demonstrably practical.
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Next, I warp to the Tower of Flame. I haven’t forgotten about my unfinished business there. I run past all the knights until I am back in the cathedral. After they’ve gone, I go outside and loot the chest I missed last time.

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Through the cathedral and I come out to a balcony. There is a knight out there holding a polearm and a blue shield. Friend or foe? As he is behind a boss fight, I’m assuming friend, but when I step into the open and there are no groaning sounds from my ring, I know it’s safe.

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There are a couple more chests out there. I pick up 3 more cracked blue eye orbs, and I already have so many of those it doesn’t matter. There is also a cleric’s parma shield, which is terrible for everything but lightning resistance, though apparently it can parry spells. The other chest has a tower shield, which requires 30 strength to carry, and is very heavy, but has 100% physical resistance and great stability.

I talk to the knight. He calls me a transient being and tells me I could never make a knight of the Blue.

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Even though I have full health, I pop an effigy. Maybe his idea of a transient being is another Hollowed Undead? It makes no difference. Likely it has something to do with the Way of the Blue Covenant.

It’s interesting that I spent so little time here exploring the actual tower of flame. A simple boss fight and a bonfire, but no clue about what it’s doing there, still burning away. Maybe it was some sort of beacon?

 

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I’ve done all I can here, spent all of my Souls. It’s time to move on.

The Forest of Fallen Giants

Exploring the old fortress comes along with the peculiar feeling of being an invader, a time traveller, an archaeologist, and a forensic pathologist all at once. There are important questions hanging in the air, ones that I think will be crucial as I continue my journey.

What is history without witnesses, evidence without memory? At what point does the past become lost?

As with Heide’s Tower of Flame, the people who built this fortress, who made up its garrison, the great king who envisioned it in the first place–they are all gone now, and with them seemed to die any legacy they might have tried to leave. It’s not as if I picked up a history book and read about the foes was built to defend against, or the battle that broke it. I have only the babbling of a crazy old woman, some scattered text on pieces of armour, and the physical remains.

It’s obvious enough that King Vendrick saw the northern coastline as a threat to his realm, and put a lot of resources into securing it. Did this happen before or after he pissed off a nation of giants? It may even be the case that, with the fortress in place, he believed himself in a position where he could make himself such a terrible enemy. But why? The motives aren’t merely unclear, they are a missing puzzle piece. Could be the giants had been making threats against Drangleic for years, or that Vendrick had kidnapped the giant’s equivalent of Helen of Troy for his bride.

Without witnesses and their recorded memories, it is difficult to put what I see into true context, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t scenes designed to evoke specific responses and emotions. I may not know who was the aggressor, but I do know who I am meant to feel sympathy for.

For example, the first giant that I find is a broken down creature that must have been majestic in life. It sits, mutilated and passive, in a small courtyard at a midway point in my journey through the fortress. Even in this ruined state, the giant somehow forlorn with its bent back and bowed head, the beast is being set upon by Hollowed soldiers.

 

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When I stumble into the scene, something that must have been playing out for centuries, I essentially rescue the giant by clubbing the soldiers to death. No further interaction with the giant is possible, at least not yet, but I am not given the most subtle of messages.

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These things wrecked this fortress, killing countless human defenders. Yet, when I encounter one, even though I myself am human and by all rights should be on that side of the conflict, not being able to chat with the giant, or see it move, is something like a setback. There is no relief that it doesn’t uproot itself and tear me in half, something that it was capable of doing– and by all available evidence more than willing to do, as well.

Even at a broader, more basic reading of the situation, it’s clear that the opposing forces were not created for equal sympathy. The human inhabitants of Drangleic were capable of impressive feats of engineering and stonework, could erect some great structures, but appreciation of that skill is skewed by what they were ostensibly defending themselves against. Giants who look an awful lot like walking trees, and who sprout into huge systems of roots and branches when killed, is as direct as metaphors can get without me finding graffiti scrawled into the fortress walls with protest slogans like “nature rules, humans drool,” or, “the branch is mightier than the sword.”

There is also that everywhere I go in the fortress I am assaulted by Hollowed soldiers and royal guards. They attack me with axes, swords, bows, bombs, and spears. There are even hints of stranger, most sinister goings on within the Drangleic troops, represented in this case by the turtle-looking Ironclad soldiers who stand, march, and fight as silently now as they did in life, if they were ever truly alive.

 

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I may not know what they really are, but I’m pretty sure they aren’t human, and likely not natural. I do like the way they flop onto their backs when I come up behind them, though.

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Not to say that things are completely black and white. There may be plenty of leftover Hollowed soldiers to deal with, but there is also plenty of evidence of the ordeals they dealt with while trying to defend their homeland.

The first part of the fortress I explore is the scaffolding outside the upper bonfire.

 

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From there I can see that the inside of the fortress is on fire, and probably has been since forever.

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When I reach the ground, I find not only the cause of the fires, but also the painful end it dealt to many helpless humans. Their agony-filled final moments are frozen in time as statues of condensed, fire-blasted carbon and ash.

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Inside a cave I find the source, a great fire-breathing salamander.

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Though a solid wall of debris and junk blocks off the way into the fortress from here, when I descend the ladder from the upper bonfire and get a look at the area from above, it can see that there is another fire salamander down there, at the heart of the fortress, keeping the fire burning eternally.

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Frustratingly, I can find no way to get to either of them. As bad as it is being Hollowed, fire-belching monsters roasting you over and over again is much worse. Despite what the environment wants me to think, I still have sympathy for the humans here. Any human knows to fear the fire above all else.

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The fortress itself is a maze of old debris, locked doors, and root-chocked passages broken into segments by paths that loop back to the bonfire, such as the cracked wall opened up by explosive barrels that allows me to bypass an early section of archers.

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The explosive barrels are consistent feature of the fortress, and not always easily avoided. More than once I fought an enemy, usually one of the clanking Ironclads, that would smash into a stack of them, catching both of us in the explosion. Usually I survived, usually they did not. Every time I made note of where it happened and took care to avoid being in the same position again.

I meet more people as well. I find the first in a mining tunnel I gain access to after fighting through the previously mentioned gauntlet of archers and their assorted melee support troops.

 

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It’s a skirmish that involves a lot of falling and jumping from roofs, and the Silvertcat Ring seems to come in handy there. I never take any falling damage at all with it equipped, which I take note of for use later on.

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In my own roundabout way, after checking every possible nook for loot and more enemies, I gain access to the mining tunnels, and after a close call with a giant rolling ball, I find Cale.

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It goes without saying that he’s an odd duck. Not only do I find him digging around in the dirt of an old fortress full of angry Hollowed, but he claims that he’s there just daydreaming. After some prompting, he claims to be a cartographer, and that he has been travelling around Drangleic to confirm that a map he found is really a map of the continent. He invites me to check the map out myself, and hands over a key to the large, locked house in the back of Majula. The key comes with a dire warning about searching too far into the abandoned mansion, because he’s pretty sure something bad lurks in there. Honestly, that’s more interesting to me than a map, except for the question of why he didn’t bring this map with him on his journey.

Above the archers, next to the wall that becomes a shortcut back to the bonfire, is a wide, flat roof.

 

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I first climb up to it when I spy a bomb-throwing soldier perched on the corner of the roof, ready to pepper me with his little man-made fireballs. I might have left him for later, but the way past is stuffed with barrels of all sorts, and I had no interest in standing next to them while some jerk tries to test them for duds.

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The first time I climb onto the roof I hear the beating of large wings, and a shadow passes over me. I think for a moment that I’m about to be dive-bombed by another dragon, but as the shadow passes I see that it’s a giant bird, and it flaps away, toward a distant part of the fortress.

Bodies litter the roof, and they aren’t all holding loot. I know at least a few will hop up to fight me, but I’d like to take care of the bomb thrower first. I run over to start attacking him, and hear sounds of something coming up behind me. Just Hollowed soldiers, I think, and I have enough time to kill this guy before they get to me.

Then I start to take sword slashes that remove huge chunks of my health. Within seconds I have tried to roll away, and die before I can fall off the roof. I only catch a glimpse of what attacked me, and it wasn’t another Hollowed soldier. It was a big, white knight, and it was floating. In fact, it looked an awful lot like the black phantom knight I killed in Things Betwixt.

Return trips to the roof are fruitless. I get up there again, and no phantom knight appears. I try going as both Hollowed and human, reasoning that I was Hollowed when the black knight appeared, and human when the white knight appeared, but it never returns. The only explanation I can find is that either I missed an important sub-boss, or that it was somehow linked with the bird that passed overhead, because it never came back, either.

It’s around this point, after clearing the roof, that I find the passage back to the bonfire and decide that if the game is going to give me the means to jump around from path to path, I should take advantage of it. I warp back to Majula to check out the mansion.

Majula

While there, I check in with the Emerald Herald. I’d picked up an Estus shard on the roof, and after using it I am up to 4 flask charges. Closer and closer to a meaningful amount that will help mitigate general attrition from exploring.

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I also use some titanite shards I’ve found to upgrade my Watchdragon parma to +1. I wouldn’t care so much about upgrading a shield, except that I can see all the resistances go up with upgrades now. I don’t have enough titanite to get to +2, which would raise the stability a fraction, but it already seems that with the right investments shields can be quite strong in this game.

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On the other hand, the resistances gained are mere fractions, so it’s also possible that I wont be able to upgrade the shield enough to make a real difference. I’ll figure that out when I have access to more resources and other shields. Right now experimentation is the goal.

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The inside of the mansion is not exactly luxurious. Though the house is large enough, it seems to have been built with utility in mind, and countless years of wear and neglect have made it cold and drafty.

The most prominent feature of the main floor is a study filled with large books, the largest of which with the largest propped up and opened for easy reading next to a few candles.

 

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The meaning or purpose of the books is a mystery to me, and might remain so because I can’t read them or interact with them in any way. At least I pick up a Pharros lockstone from a body in there. I have 2 of them now, so I know they aren’t unique.

At the back of the mansion is a large room carved out of the rock that hems in two sides of Majula, with the others boundaries being the open sea and the man made stone wall that cuts it off from the entrance to Things Betwixt.

 

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The floor dips, and at the back of the room, in a roughly hacked alcove, I see what looks like a large, indistinct smudge on the floor. A stain maybe, or snow? Not snow, it’s not cold enough here for that, and there is no way it could have fallen in here.

From closer up, I realize that it’s the map Cale was talking about. Now I know why he didn’t bring it with him.

 

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I have no idea of the scale, or accuracy, of the map. Without context, it looks like a basic tracing of major topographical features, with no legend or markers to tell me how what I’m looking at might relate to the real world. There isn’t even an orientation compass. As it is, I can’t see what use this would be to me.

There are stairs leading down to a dark basement. I’m assuming this is the place Cale warned me about.

 

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Before checking that out, I climb some stairs to a the crumbling second floor. The roof has fallen apart, if it had ever been finished in the first place, and sun splashes in through big holes. There is a single room that is still mostly intact, and amongst some battered furniture I find a chest.

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Inside are some torches and titanite shards. I’m nearing an hour of torch time now, and I have to wonder what I could possibly need that for.

Back in the basement and I find what the fuss was all about. As I reach the bottom of the stairs, I hear the telltale clattering of bones, and a skeleton jumps out at me.

 

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The space is too narrow to swing my club, so I back it out to the map room, and there I take it down easily. I gain 700 Souls, which means that it’s going to stay dead. I mouth a silent prayer to whatever deity is responsible for that particular mercy. I also pick up an effigy.

It is nearly pitch black in the basement, and I can see an unlit sconce nearby. There may be more skeletons waiting in there, and I may as well be safe while I’m still human. I run back to the bonfire and light a torch, and with it I light the sconce.

 

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I’m not sure what the original intentions for this place were. There is nothing much left, besides a scattering of broken pottery in one corner. Like the ruined stone arches in Mujula, the walls down here look like they are slowly collapsing, sinking back into the ground. Whoever built here should have been more careful.

Although I find another skeleton, it’s not the kind that will get up to fight. I loot an Estus shard from it, and find a chest that holds a Soul Vessel.

 

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This is a lot sooner than I expected to find one of these, and I’m a little surprised that it doesn’t seem to be a unique, key item. If I use it, I imagine I will have to live with the consequences until I find another one. Which isn’t a big deal, because I don’t feel the need to play around with my stats yet. The most interesting part of the Soul Vessel right now is how it might relate to my Soul Memory, and I’m not going to use it just to test that theory. Its flavour text has a warning about using it improperly, without help, but I can’t use it directly, so I’m not sure what that’s about.

The Estus shard goes to the Emerald Herald, and now I have 5 flask charges. That’s about the amount I’m used to. I upgrade the Watchdragon parma to +2 with the titanite shards, because what else am I going to do with my Souls? I also repair a couple of the old knight swords. I broke them all while testing a theory based on their flavour text, which promises that sometimes an item will show its true potential just as it breaks. Not sure what I was expecting, like the swords would transform in my hands, Shadow over Mystara style, after I smashed them against the nearest wall a few times, and become the Sword of Legend. In the end nothing happened, and I figure I might need the ultra greatsword again, so I fix it up.

The Forest of Fallen Giants

The further I get into the fortress, the less the twisting, chaotic roots of the giant trees have damaged it. Here it is all stacks of dense stone arranged in precise lines and brutal angles, all the better to set it apart from giants, who seem to be avatars of nature itself.

The organized feeling of the fortress’s construction does give the area a pleasingly sectional feeling. Having completed the area with the archers and the mine, then clearing off the roof where I saw the bird, and after opening up the shortcut back to the bonfire and going through the mansion back in Majula, I can move on. Which, in this case, means climbing down a ladder to ground level, putting me in a large, open passageway that branches into new areas.

 

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There is a large hole in the wall here, leading into a storage area full of ballistas. It doesn’t take a genius to see that they are all aimed directly at the hole in the wall, with loot corpses placed enticingly in their line of fire, and that the entire setup is a trap. At the same time, this is the way in, and those corpses aren’t going to loot themselves.

I step inside and hear a heavy, mechanical sound. The trap has been sprung. I turn to make sure the way back out isn’t closed off, which is when the ballista bolt hits me, knocking me to the ground and taking out half my health. A Hollowed soldier comes at me from the right, and I see movement behind the ballistas. There are other Hollowed back there, moving out from behind the siege weapons so they can attack me.

I manage to get enough distance for a flask charge, but before long I am surrounded by a quartet of Hollowed soldiers, and they have backed me into a corner. With nowhere to run, and not enough stamina or stability to block all their attacks, I’m soon dead.

My shield has been causing me problems. It is not yet strong enough that I can completely alter the way I play, but it’s still strong enough that, even unconsciously, I have taken a more defensive stance in most fights. It goes along with my desire to see what I’m up against before making decisions. But that is now ending more often than not with enemies surrounding me, or attacked from behind, or with me failing to recognize an obvious opening and waiting too long to take advantage of it. It is never a good idea to give AI a chance to run its routines, if possible. I have to come to grips with enemies now often travelling in packs, and that means fighting them in ways that mitigates that numbers advantage.

Instead of waiting for the soldiers to group up and attack me, I use my speed and power to isolate them. After stepping through the hole in the wall, I back out a little. This causes the nearest soldier to rush out at me, and it takes the ballista bolts in the back instead of me. That’s one down and three to go. The soldiers are circling around from behind the ballistas now. I get inside and cut right, where two are coming after me. I attack the nearest, knowing that I can take a hit from his buddy and still come out ahead. After a couple of solid club smacks, the soldier goes into a defensive pose, starts to back away. I ignore the one that just attacked me and chase the injured one down, finishing the job. Then it’s a simple matter to turn on the other soldier and finish him off before the last one gets close enough to attack.

Room cleared, I go through the loot corpses. One holds a blue wooden shield, the other a Soul Arrow spell. Neither is useful to me.

 

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Standing behind the ballistas, I find that I’m able to fire them. I use the middle ballista, sending a long bolt in a straight line through the hole in the wall, then through a nearby arch into a space full of barrels. There is a series of explosions and I gain a few Souls.

There is a ladder leading to a basement floor. I can still hear the heavy groans of the Ring of Whispers, so I assume there will be more enemies down there. On the one hand, I’d like to check that out soon, because it would be good to clear this area before I die, so that I don’t have to go through that fight again. But I’m also curious about what I just blew up.

 

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Back outside and I can see there’s fresh loot amongst the bits of wood and metal left over from the explosions. As I get close, bombs start to fall. I look up and see a couple of tossers standing above me in open windows.

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I grab the loot and back out. It’s a Winged Spear, which requires 11 strength and 18 dexterity–more than I have–but its moveset is much more in line with what I want from a spear. Everything except for the jumping attack is a quick jab or long-ranged thrust, and it even does decent damage. I now have the next weapon to level up for.

At the far end of the passageway is a man holding a spear while lounging on a pile of sandbags. Nearby is an unlit sconce (Convenient that it’s so close to a bonfire?) and an open portcullis with a raised iron gate.

 

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This guy calls himself Pate, and warns me of bandits. I hate to labour over this point, but that is a strange, maybe even stupid, thing to say to a person while you both stand in the middle of a literal fortress full of Hollowed soldiers. He then warns me about the open portcullis, claiming that he has seen its like before, and that it is a trap. If I step through it will shut behind me, locking me inside. The last time he found one he was with another warrior, who took the bait and became trapped. Pate still has that guy’s ring, but he won’t give it to me.

On Pate’s word, there is supposedly treasure on the other side of the gate. Thing is, no matter how I stand or angle the camera, I can’t see anything in there. Not even an enemy. They could have at least dangled a shiny corpse in the corner. I’m willing to walk into a trap, but not if there’s no bait.

Near the bomb throwers is where I catch sight of the first humbled giant and his Hollowed tormentors. I don’t rush to rescue him just yet. I have to check out that basement first.

 

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It’s dark down there, but not so dark that I can’t see what I’m dealing with. There is a chest, an unlit sconce, and in the corner a pattern of strange holes in the wall. A face? There is also a locked wooden door.

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I move through the dark room, expecting an attack, but it never comes. Whatever is setting my Ring of Whispers off must be on the other side of the locked door. I open the chest, which glows briefly with a putrid green, and then erupts into a cloud of poison gas. I roll away, catching only a bit of the poison fumes, and not enough to actually poison me. From the chest I take a single titanite shard.

The holes turn out to be a Pharros device, which means I can use one of my Pharros lockstones on it.

 

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I insert the stone, which is exactly like sticking a squarish peg into a squarish hole. It slides in, then clicks into place. A second later a blue-white glow fills the room. I turn and see another face projected onto a nearby wall.

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I get close enough to examine it, but there is no option to interact with the light. I can’t walk through it, either. Which means the only other option I have is attacking. The wall breaks open, showing me a small room with a pair of chests.

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I pick up a titanite slab, which now only upgrades a weapon to +10, and a Cloranthy Ring, which increases stamina recovery. Are titanite slabs more common now? Is +10 the new maximum? I have no idea. More importantly, how directly does the Pharros device relate to this secret treasure room? Did it point me in the right direction, or did using it open the room up? If I hadn’t used the stone and had attacked the wall, would anything have happened? The issue is whether the Pharros device is just a hint machine. I’ll need to find another one before I can test that.

I replace my Guardian’s Seal Ring with the Cloranthy Ring. Now that I can become human and recover my maximum health at will, I don’t care so much about the tiny bump I was getting from the Guardian’s Seal. And extra stamina gain is always nice, even if it doesn’t negate the heavy penalties from completely draining my stamina bar.

Next, I go and rescue that poor, poor giant from the nasty, nasty Hollowed human soldiers. I also pick up an Undead Soul from a nearby corpse, so it’s not a complete waste of time. I do wonder what would happen if I had the Seed of Giants now.

There is a ladder nearby that climbs to the top of the dividing wall. From up there I should be able to get at those bomb throwers, and also find a better vantage point over the alleged treasure area past the trapped gate.

 

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If I want to get that better look I’ll have to drop down into a large gash smashed into the parapet wall. If I go left, toward the treasure, I will not be able to get back to the ladder, and will have to jump down instead. Going right would be safer, but a reckless curiosity overtakes me, and turn left. After smashing my way through an old wooden cart blocking the way, I gain full view over the courtyard below.

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Still nothing in sight, but I do see a doorway into the fortress. Maybe that’s where the treasure is.

I find my own way inside, and around a corner I come to stairs leading down.

 

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As I near the bottom my Ring of Whispers begins to groan at me. I slow down and look around the corner. There are half a dozen soldiers there at least, all with their backs to me. Between the load groans from the ring, I can hear the mutterings and grunts of the Hollowed, so it’s not as if I was particularly forewarned.

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Now it’s clear what was meant to happen. If I had gone through the portcullis trap I would have had to take these guys on in a head-to-head fight, if they didn’t immediately charge out once the gate had slammed shut. I remind myself that aggression is the key, and I pounce.

Most of the battle takes place on the stairs, with me clubbing down the Hollowed as quickly as they come, giving up ground each time I need to recharge my stamina. Within seconds, it’s over.

 

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From a corpse at the foot of the stairs, I loot 3 aromatic oozes. This is a temporary magical damage buff for melee weapons. Good against thick armour and scales. There’s a lot of that around here, and I’m sure it would be useful for an upcoming boss. Chances are I will never use it.

I go outside, and the gate locks as soon as I get close.

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This forces me to take the stairs back up, then to hop down to where Pate sits. I use my Silvercat Ring to make that safe. Pate is so impressed by my survival that he hands over a white sign soapstone.

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I don’t know if Pate was being a jerk, or if he’s just oblivious. There was no treasure in there at all, unless he was counting the aromatic ooze that he wouldn’t have been able to see. But there’s nothing I can do about it now. I move on.

This time I turn right at the top of the ladder. There is a body there holding a light crossbow. I have a flask charge left, so I may as well keep going. In the grand scheme I’m still not that far from the bonfire.

A lit sconce illuminates the hall above the bomb throwers. It’s such a singular sight that it’s almost sinister, and I’m careful when I approach it, expecting an ambush or trap, but nothing happens.

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I jump a small gap above them to pick up another torch and an Undead Soul. The bomb throwers are guarding a chest.

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I kill them easily enough, then loot the chest. There is a mail breaker and an infantry helm inside. This is the first non-broken piece of gear I’ve found here, after countless battered Hollowed soldier armours. It has passable defence, but no poise and is heavier than my monocle. Pass. The mail breaker is a thrusting dagger with a special property that causes damage through shields with its heavy attacks. That’s neat, but not particularly useful. I do like that some weapons have special effects besides elemental or status damage, and I hope I find something cool that I can use.

There is a 2-handed sword Hollowed waiting for me when I jump down from the bomb thrower’s spot. He nearly kills me before I realize that I forgot to equip my shield after testing the mail breaker. I roll away, use my final flask charge, then kill him.

The final doorway is nearby. It’s the only path left after the ballista room, the giant, and everything up the ladder. This is the outer wall of the fortress. I can see the sky beyond it, and hear the sound of distant waves.

Inside is a long room full of smashed stone and masonry. It appears this is where the giant’s assault began. Nearby are a couple of soldiers holding spears.

 

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I turn the other way, and up some stairs I find a corpse holding a Lifegem and a homeward bone. After some hesitation, I decide that I’m still close enough to the bonfire for safety, and I attack the spear soldiers, killing them both. I then kill an Ironclad and loot another corpse.

At first I think the hole in the wall was caused by a falling pillar, but nothing of that size would have fit in here, and there is a dull, metallic texture to the object jutting out over the sea. It’s a giant sword that something stabbed into the fortress, creating this opening in its defences. The scale of such an action is titanic. How big were these giants?

 

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I can see the glow of loot up there, near the hilt. I can also see that it’s an obvious trap. After I’ve taken a few steps out onto the blade, when there is nothing under me but the sharp stones scattered like defensive stakes in the water below, the trap is sprung. I hear a thunk from behind me, and catch motion in my peripheral vision. I spin around and see that Hollowed soldiers are dropping onto the sword, trying to block my way back to the fortress. It would be suicide to fight them on the narrow blade, an idea hammered home when one of the Hollowed falls over the edge and dies in the water. I spring past them, then beat them all to death. My club breaks during the fight, and I have to finish the last Hollowed with my fists.

Outside, I can see that a pair of massive statues stand a silent, and ultimately fruitless, vigil over the sea. These are the only visual adornments I have seen in the entire fortress, besides that crest, and the statue in the bonfire area.

The statue on the right is missing its head.

 

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The statue on the left is missing its sword hand.

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Which explains what I’m standing on, if not quite how it got here. What is the purpose of these statues, while the rest of the fortress is so spare? It must have taken a lot of time and resources to build them, time and resources that obviously would have been better spent on further defences. Considering their size in relation to the mangled giant I saw, maybe building huge, stone men to face the giant’s attack was meant to be an insult.

From the corpse I recover a halberd. It’s probably as good an all-round weapon as it was in the last game, but just like the last game, I’m not interested.

The only things left in the outer room are a locked wooden door and a fog gate.

 

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That could be a boss, or not. Either way, I’m out of flask charges and don’t even have a weapon. However, I have cleared out a significant section of the fortress, and it would be a shame to let that go to waste. I run back to the lit sconce near the bomb throwers, and from there I carry my torch to the unlit sconces I have found. I light the one in the basement, near the Pharros device, and the one next to Pate. I then use my old knight ultra greatsword to clear the area underneath the bonfire, and light a sconce there, next to a locked door.

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Those are all that I’ve found, and with that accomplished I trudge back to the bonfire and have a rest.

I warp back to Majula to repair my club. While at the blacksmith, I notice that the fire sword I found near the first salamander uses normal titanite for upgrades. Are elemental paths now completely separate from phsyical damage? Can a weapon go straight to fire or lightning damage from level 1? Since faith and intelligence now raise elemental damage, it might be feasible to run a build like that. I spare only a few seconds of thought for that, since I don’t have the ores or the smith needed for such upgrades. I have 3 titanite shards I’ve picked up recently, and I could use them on my shield, but I decide to save them for the Winged Spear.

With that in mind, I talk to the Emerald Herald and put 3 points into dexterity.

 

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Even with 15 out of 18 dexterity, I can’t use the Winged Spear in a 2-handed grip. I guess that dexterity weapons are more complex somehow, so holding them in both hands doesn’t help the same way as holding a strength weapon does. What’s odd is that equipping a weapon that I can’t quite use yet gives me a message saying I can’t use it at all, even for strength weapons, where all I need to do is lift it up high enough to drop it again. In Dark Souls 1 it would tell me that I could only use it with a 2-handed grip.

Back to the Forest of Fallen Giants and I use an effigy in preparation for a possible boss fight. Pate is gone now. I figured that would happen after he’d given me an item.

I start fighting toward the fog gate. The spot full of explosive barrels blows up again when I throw a firebomb I’ve picked up. I recover another Winged Spear from the debris. Are they common drops now? I guess the soldiers here must use them. I should be able to experiment more with upgrades at least, and it will be nice to have a backup weapon.

Before long I am standing in front of the fog gate. I step through. It’s not a boss. I’m back in the large, open area above the fire salamander, on the other side of a metal door leading to the bonfire. It’s locked from this side, so I couldn’t open it before. Which means I’ve just opened up another shortcut.

 

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There is an unlit sconce as well. I’ve also reached an elevator that I saw before. It ends up somewhere far below, so maybe it will take me down to the salamander?

I pick up some fire arrows from a body, then fight my way to the nearest lit sconce and carry a torch back. Another body holds large leather shield and a few Lifegems. The shield has passable resistances, and is light, but has poor stability.

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The next step is taking that elevator. I have full health and all of my flask charges, as well as a shield with great fire resistance. I am ready for a fight with a fire-breathing amphibian.

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I step onto the platform, depressing a large button. Chains start moving, and the elevator descends. Down, down, then I’m at the ground floor. I can feel the fire, see its glow. I ready myself for the fight. But it doesn’t happen. Instead, the elevator keeps on dropping, until I am deep underground. I step off into a narrow corridor with another fog gate at the far end.

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Now, this has to be the boss.

Half way down the corridor and I’m attacked by an estoc-wielding soldier. At the start of the fight I still have the menus open, and when I hastily close it and throw out a wild club swing, he parries me. I fall on my ass, prepared for death, but he hops backwards instead of sticking a sword through my face. I guess these guys are as confused by the new mechanics as I was. I stand up and kill him.

The Hollowed was guarding another door, which I can’t open.

 

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I keep going, until I have left the man-made corridors underneath the fortress and entered a rough natural cave, complete with stalagmites.

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The Last Giant

The sudden shift toward natural, primal scenery should have been the clue. I have left the fortress proper, stepped away from the harsh, artificial walls and towers, the unnaturally rounded turrets and impossibly regular battlements. Back in the wild, I was bound to run into such an enemy, closer to its own turf. Past the fog gate is a large cave, the ground patched with green plant growth.

A cutscene plays, showing the giant pinned under rubble, impaled with rusted iron. When it sees me, there is a flash of blood-red rage, and it starts to break free from its bindings.

 

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The fight is simple enough, and also easy. Knowing that I can target the giant’s feet, I am able to bash away at its knees while it tries to stomp on me. I still take a few hits, and flask up for safety, but it’s not actually dangerous.

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When it falls below half health, it pulls off its own arm and starts to swing it like a club. This gives the giant extra range for its attacks, but doesn’t make it any more difficult to fight from up close.

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It nearly gets me with a couple of stomps when I think I have enough damage to kill it, but run out of stamina instead. It’s so slow that I easily get the distance needed for my final flask charges, and then I run in for the kill.

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I gain 10,000 Souls, a Soldier’s Key, and a Soul of the Last Giant. According to its Soul, this thing was the lord of the giants, and was a prisoner down here. Was that the impetus for the giant’s attack? Possibly, but that still leaves me with questions, and it’s as likely that it was captured during the battle itself.

I try the key on the door outside the boss room. No joy. Where, then?

I return to the bonfire to recharge my flask. When I stand up, Melentia is gone.

 

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The Forest of Fallen Giants

With my Soldier’s Key in hand, I am able to access a few new sections of the fortress. Taking the ladder down from the bonfire, I unlock a door and find a chest holding a few torches and a Ring of Restoration, which slowly restores HP when worn. There is also a doorway to the outside.

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I stand on a broad, flat roof. There is a loot corpse in one corner, a chest in another, and nearby is a large black door covered in intricate patterns of etched gold. A solitary knight stands guard, sword and shield at the ready.

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The knight makes no move against me as I loot the corpse, picking up a grand lance, and take a couple of amber herbs from the chest. The grand lance is something new, being a heavy spear option. It requires 22 strength on top of 18 dexterity, so I can’t use it, but it’s nice to know it exists. I might be able to get behind big, meaty stabs. The only problem I see is that its poise damage is low when compared to other heavy weapons I’ve found. Perhaps it makes up for that with multiple hits?

My Ring of Whispers is telling me that the knight is hostile, but he still hasn’t moved a muscle, even when I test the grand lance out in front of him. There is nothing else here, no other way to go besides that black door. Curiously, when I stand in the far corner of the roof, I can hear the same slight magical ringing tone that I heard outside the bonfire. I wonder what it is.

I walk over to the knight. A message pops up informing me that I must produce the symbol of the King. It’s only then that the knight starts to move against me.

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He doesn’t put up much of a fight, but also drops nothing. I don’t have the symbol of the King, so I’m not getting through the black door. I leave.

The key opens another door, the one near a sconce I’d lit earlier. On the other side are stairs going down, and at the bottom, darkness.

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I can make out indistinct shapes, there is a perception of some length. It’s a cluttered hall, filled with old boxes and barrels, and broken stone bricks, and I now know why there was a sconce so close to the door, because there is another unlit one close by.

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I walk over and light the first sconce. The sudden light ruins my low-light vision, and now I can see even less of what’s ahead. Then a skeleton pops up, holding a long, curved sword in each hand. I extinguish my torch, and then batter the skeleton into pieces. It stays dead. Good. A hall full of skeletons that I can kill, and that will stay on the ground, is like dessert after that boss fight.

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I leapfrog from sconce to sconce, lighting each after I’ve killed any skeletons that stand up. I loot a corpse, picking up some black firebombs and a homeward bone, another corpse holds a torch. Soon, I am nearing the end of the hall.

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The soft clacking sound of bone on bone as each skeleton hops up is something I revel in. Without the advantage of a necromancer backing them up, they fall back down as fast as they stand.

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There is a door at the end of the hall, and when I open it I find myself back outside. Across a small gap is an archer who immediately starts firing arrows at me. In my mind, I can make the jump, but it doesn’t go so well in reality. Maybe I could have, if I’d timed it right, but my run feels oddly slow, and I jump much too early. I fall into the crack in the earth, and I die.

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I fight through the skeletons again, still without any trouble. As I near the door, an Ironclad bursts through. It does a series of quick attacks, somewhat mimicking the combo that caused so much trouble with the old hammer knights in the Tower of Flame. I had never seen this particular sequence from the Ironclads, and I’m not prepared for it when it comes. I die again.

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This time I open the door to the outside, then immediately sprint across to another building. Inside is a ladder leading to the roof, a door leading in the general direction of the archer.

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I begin a methodical campaign to clear out all resistance from this section of the fortress. There are a couple of Hollowed soldiers in the next room, they go down swinging. I pick up an effigy from a nearby body. On the roof I find a small gang of Ironclads. I attempt to pull them one at a time, but fail. When they all turn toward me at once I drop down the ladder, and for the next minute I can hear them angrily smashing at boxes and barrels. While tabbed out to take notes, I hear clanking footsteps nearby, then the urgent warning moans of the Ring of Whispers. I look around the corner and see the Ironclads coming down the hall toward me.

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It might be my imagination, but they seem a little stronger than the ones I’ve already fought. Maybe it’s just the new attack string they use, as it’s more dangerous than the slower attacks I’m used to. After some work, I manage to take all of the Ironclads down. This leaves the roof free for looting.

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I pick up a whip, a bastard sword, an effigy, an Undead Soul, and a few cracked red eye orbs. I drop down onto another Ironclad that was standing guard below. He nearly knocks me into the bottomless pit, but I get him first.

My mental map of the fortress tells me that I’m on the other side of an iron grate I ran into earlier, somewhere behind the area full of archers, next to the mines.

 

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A corpse there holds amber herbs and green blossoms. A good haul.

I take a short path through a crumbling building to get across the gap to the archer. As I kill him, a message pops up. Armorer Dennis is invading me.

 

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He comes at me wearing robes and holding a sword and shield. As soon as he gets close, he hits me with a guard break and gets a solid hit in before I can roll away. He follows that up by pulling a magical blade out of thin air and swinging it in a wide arc. I dodge that, and then we dance around a bit in the narrow space. I get a backstab, and then a message pops up telling me that my club is about to shatter in my hands. This is not good. Dennis still has about half his health. After getting some distance, he starts throwing out Soul Arrows, which I avoid with ease. Then he begins to spew a mist of magical energy in every direction, forcing me to back away and take cover until the attack is over. There is a close call when he hits me with another magical blade attack, but I flask up. Using careful positioning and another backstab attack, I manage to kill him just before my club breaks.

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I was Hollowed when Dennis appeared. I was Hollowed when the red guy showed up in Things Betwixt. I have yet to find an NPC to summon, but other than losing my maximum health, I’m wondering what being Hollowed or human does for me. There is no humanity, and no indication of a magic find stat, so it can’t be anything to do with that, can it? According to the effigies, being human actually makes it more difficult to be summoned or invaded, at least for online purposes. Does that apply to NPC invaders as well? Hopefully I will get more information about being human at some point.

After searching the area a little, I find a bonfire tucked into a tiny room behind where the archer stood. Perfect timing.

 

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In the next building over is another fallen giant, this one tells me that it is resting in peace.

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On a nearby set of scaffolding is a chest holding an Undead Soul and a complete set of hunter’s gear. It’s basic leather armour and a fancy hat. Nothing I can use now, but it’s nice to have options.

There is nothing else around here except for the bonfire and the giant. It’s a conspicuous pairing, as if I wasn’t already sure that I would be interacting with them more at some point. I’m intrigued by this giant having a different message from the other, but without, presumably, a seed, there is nothing else I can do here.

I search through the fortress, looking for other doors to open. In the end, I only find one in the room with the giant sword, and it leads away from the rest of the fortress. How about all that I missed, like the fire salamanders, and the small keep they seem to be guarding? Could be I need the help of the giants, or a way to open the black door, before I can explore the rest of the fortress.

 

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At the top of the stairs is a lanky soldier holding a big sword. The blade is taller than he is, and probably ways as much. He’s pretty tough, but not so much that my club can’t make short work of him. Up more stairs, and there is another of the lanky knights, and now I can see the sky through breaks in the masonry.

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After killing him, I find myself in an open space at the top of the highest walls of the fortress. Nearby is an archer perched on a ledge, and another of the knights. Past them is a fog gate.

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My club is almost broken again, and I have to punch the archer to death. There is a body nearby holding a few Lifegems and another Undead Soul. From up here I can see over the short wall of fallen stone, through to the other side of the fog gate. I see the head from the broken statue, but nothing else of note. It’s an open space of distinct design. That is a boss fight if I’ve ever seen one.

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I consider using a repair powder on my club, but I’m close enough to the bonfire that it’s not a real imposition to go back and recharge. While I’m on my way back to the fog gate after resting, I am nearly taken down by the pair of spear knights in the broken hall. Instead of standing at their post flanking the door to the elevator, they are waiting on either side of the door into the hall, and get in a few good stabs before I can recover and take them both down. One of the royal swordsmen, the guys with the overcompensation swords, drops a royal greatsword. It’s a lot like the bastard sword I found early, only with more exaggerated flourishes with each attack. I am annoyed just looking at it, and would hate to try fighting with it.

I pick up some royal guardsman’s armour pieces. The chest piece is somehow heavier than the Heide armour while also having lower stats.

Fighting the royal swordsmen reminds me to keep a closer eye on my stamina. They are the first enemy around here that I can’t always kill with a full stamina bar’s worth of attacks. If I blow everything I have and can’t roll away, I’m liable to take a hit or two for my trouble. Enemies are much more aggressive and revenge focused now, and poor planning will result in taking needless damage.

The Pursuer

I step through the fog gate and a cutscene plays. A sword crunches into the stone, then a giant bird flies overhead and airdrops a hulking knight in dull steel armour. He pulls the sword out of the ground and begins to float.

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All the puzzle pieces fall into place. The attack from the white phantom knight on that roof wasn’t a dream, and it was the bird the brought him. I wonder if I could have killed him there, if I’d had a chance to see him coming.

I am disappointed that I didn’t get the real experience of seeing him coming the first time. One of my suggestions for improving Dark Souls, after I’d played Prepare to Die, was giving bosses more presence and personality within their areas. Somehow, I got what I wanted, but didn’t notice it enough to make the experience worthwhile. Oh well.

 

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The Pursuer fights almost identically to the way the black phantom knight in Things Betwixt fought. In fact, he’s easier overall, as he doesn’t have that guy’s dark magic missile spell. Instead of fighting him exactly like I fought the other guy, though, I stupidly hide behind me shield at first, giving the Pursuer chances to break my guard, which then gives him free hits. Finally, he lands a stabbing attack, and I see that he’s got his own way of cursing.

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After I’m impaled on his sword, he lifts me into the air and pumps me full of dark magic. I’m cursed, and then I die.

The second fight goes how it should. I get hit once by the sword stab, and become cursed, but there is no noticeable effect on my combat abilities. I apply all the knowledge I gained from fighting the phantom knight in Things Betwixt, and soon the Pursuer is dead.

 

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“Victory Achieved”

I gain about 17,000 Souls, a Soul of the Pursuer, and a Ring of Blades. It’s only then that I get a good look at myself and realize that I’ve gone Hollowed without dying. That’s what curses do. Lesson learned. I wonder what they do to someone who is already Hollowed. Maybe that’s where the petrification comes in.

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The Ring of Blades raises my damage by about 20 points, which is good enough for me to put it on. Where did that bird go? According to its Soul, the Pursuer seeks the bearer of the sign, which I guess is me. Will there be others? Who sent it? Its name suggests more of a will than your typical Hollowed or monster.

I look around the rest of the area. I notice that it’s possible to fire the heavy ballistas up here, though it seems impractical to try and hit an enemy like the Pursuer with a weapon that can’t even be aimed. Through a crack in the huge stone head I can see there is another comatose giant up here.

 

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Though I already know what will happen, I walk over and interact with it. Nothing happens. I’m still not feeling sympathetic toward them. I may have had to kill a whole lot of Hollowed to get up here, but I also saw all the damage the giants did, and for what? What could have been so important that they destroyed themselves to put another nail in Drangleic’s coffin? Past the giant is a stairwell completely blocked by dirt and debris. I can’t get any further here, though there is a spot I could drop down to pick up a loot corpse.

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I climb a short flight of stairs and I’m on a wall practically at the shoulder of one of the huge statues. There is a nest in the corner. I walk toward it.

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When I bend down to check it out, a cutscene plays. That damned bird comes flying out of nowhere and grabs me, carrying me away.

DarkSoulsII 2015-04-19 01-23-09-05

Do you ever get that feeling that someone, somewhere, really doesn’t like you? That someone, somewhere, really wants to see you fail? I have had that feeling ever since I left Things Betwixt and started exploring Drangleic. Behind the general apathy of most of the Undead I meet, and the flat, distant encouragement of the Emerald Herald, has been a darker sense of quiet malevolence. It’s not a secret that Drangleic is a special kind of messed up, but the overriding question remains unanswered: Why am I, and all the other Undead, here? Why are we attracted to this place?

And why is something trying to keep us from our goals?

It is more than simple Hollowed, or monsters of any sort. Those are roadblocks, but do not have intention. They do what they do because it is all they have left. It’s what they are now, not what they always were.

But other things lurk, or watch. Or pursue. Things that have some tiny modicum of will, of purpose. Things that are here to exterminate the Undead.

Tell me that I should seek out powerful Souls for the nebulous purpose of becoming the new king of a broken, discarded land, and I might work toward that because I’ve got nothing better to do. Tell me there is a force out there trying to stop me, though, and I will begin to move with purpose. The only one who stops me from doing something is me.

 

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