Note: This update takes place after the patch 1.15 and calibration 2.02, which fix the 60FPS durability loss bugs.
The binoculars invite me to gain some new perspective, or at least to look around a bit. In Majula, standing in the highest unobstructed place I can find, I realize that I don’t need a map to see half of the places I’ve been, or where I’m trying to get. From up here I can clearly see the mountains that loom over Drangleic like stony wardens, alternately protecting the kingdom from outside aggression, and protecting the outside from the doom that King Vendrick instigated. In front of the mountains is the massive aqueduct-bridge looking like bars to a cage, and behind it the singular sight of the black tower, so tall that it rivals some of the mountains.
Out in the water I can see the roofs of Heide’s tallest buildings, and the Tower of Flame itself. Almost ironic that a nation obsessed with the colour blue built what ultimately ended up as grave markers for what must have been a beautiful coastal city before everything fell apart, both figuratively and literally.
In the other direction I can see the head and shoulders of the giant stone statue that watches the coast from the walls of the fortress in the Forest of Fallen Giants. Is that an island over there? At this distance, even with the binoculars, things are too indistinct to tell.
No sign of No-Man’s Wharf, or, I think, of the Lost Bastille, or even Huntsman’s Copse, but that makes sense. The light of the sun which hangs over Majula is a constant companion in the places I can see as well. Those other places, not so much, and I didn’t expect to see a grey line marking the terminator between Drangleic’s swirling and confused days and nights.
As much fun as it is to stare wistfully into the distance, I’m not posing for a 90s album cover. I have things to do, and places to see, and before doing or seeing them I want to unload the Souls I’ve recently acquired. I look around for rings and other trinkets I can buy. From the cat I purchase a Redeye ring, which makes it easier for enemies to see me. I can see that being useful in places. That’s all she has worth buying, so I leave.
I’m standing over the edge of the pit in the middle of Majula. Every time I come through here it tugs at me mind. It’s there, taunting me, and I need to figure it out. I also need to figure out what the point of prism stones are in this game. I take one out and toss it over the side. A blue light drifts downward till it is just out of sight, which is when I hear the shriek.
So they do still have a practical use, despite what their description says, because there’s no way I could survive that fall. I line myself up with the first platform and drop another prism stone, this one a soft purple. It lands.
So, what am I meant to make of this? My stubborn mind tells the rest of me that I’m vindicated, and after putting the Silvercat ring on again, I jump into the hole, again. And die. Again.
It would seem that I have found a health wall. Or hole. That’s the only thing that makes sense, that I am meant to fall down there, but am not yet strong enough to survive. Which is likely my own fault for not putting a single point into vigour.
My curiosity mollified for the moment, I prepare to leave Majula. As I’m going, it occurs to me that I’m missing a sorcery NPC and vendor. The guy in No-Man’s Wharf could be it, but I’d have though he was more advanced. I suppose that area is relatively early on, but it seems odd that someone wouldn’t be tempting me. That guy won’t deal with me because I lack intelligence, or magical aptitude, but at this point in the game what am I meant to do? Nobody will even sell me a basic staff or wand, which is a bit of a barrier. If I wanted to become a cleric I have someone selling me the basics and some spells, and same with pyromancy. At the same time, I have skipped a few areas, and it’s even possible that not every spell needs a wand these days. Half the guys that use magic against me are just throwing it around.
And where am I going? I have another branch of Yore, and I’d like to use it before moving on. There are 3 routes that I could open up. The one in the tunnel between the Tower of Flame and No-Man’s Wharf, the one near the man-scorpion Tark in the Shrouded Woods, and the other one in the Shrouded Woods across that broken bridge underneath the last bonfire.
With so many statues in Shrouded Woods, it’s possible there’s a domino effect involved. Opening one path might lead to another branch of Yore to open the other, though, structurally, those two paths are so close they might actually intersect, and that says nothing about the random beastmen that are blocking nothing at all. I might even be able to narrow it down to 2 or 3 branches it total, though that’s still more than I’ve got.
Besides that, seeing the elephant warrior in Doors of Pharros renewed my interest in that path near No-Man’s Wharf. I am certain the creature I saw up there is also one of those elephant warriors, and I want to know if there’s a connection at all. An initial evaluation of the geography suggests there isn’t, but I don’t yet know how deep, or in which direction, Doors oh Pharros goes. Plus, I found it first, and I may as well get it out of the way.
After dispatching the basilisk and the Hollowed in the tunnel, I lift the petrification curse. The freed Hollowed flops to the ground, then drags himself up and attacks me. I kill him with a single stab from my spear and he blows away as dust.
At the top of the stairs is exactly what I expected. An elephant warrior stands menacingly over a loot corpse. When it sees me it lumbers in my direction, filling the underground hall with its thumping footsteps. The fight is fittingly primal and should be easy, but I slip up and my opponent crushes me with his heavy shield, killing me in a single blow. It’s a minor inconvenience, and doesn’t bother me since I’m already Hollowed and not doing anything important.
I return, kill everything, and then loot the corpse hanging over the stone railing. I recover an Estus flask shard, so not a bad prize.
I check down the side passages. To the right, in a small alcove, is a chest. Inside is a full set of knight’s armour. Functional, middle-of-the-road gear with decent defence and poise for the weight. Nothing that I want to put on right away, but it might fill in gaps later on.
To the left are strange metal doors.
They are heavy black iron, and embossed with intricate designs. They don’t have any gold, and I don’t think they’re related to those other black doors that I’ve seen, as both the shape and the designs are different. Who made these doors and where they lead will remain a mystery, at least for now, because damage has put them beyond the point of use. Something twisted them out of their hinges, bending them away from the frame so that they are almost fused, and no amount of pushing or club smacking is going to dislodge them.
Back in Majula I hand my Estus shard over to the Emerald Herald. That’s 7 flask charges now.
My next stop is the Shrouded Woods. I talk to Vengarl’s head, on the off chance that the invader I killed was his body, but he’s got nothing new to say. I check in with Tark next, figuring that, since he gave me a branch of Yore, using one on the statue nearby should be my next move. I’m slightly frustrated when I realize that I’m out of branches of Yore. For some reason I was sure I’d picked up 2 of them in the Shrouded Woods, but I must have been confused by all the Pharros lockstones I also picked up.
On the way back I see there’s a curse on the broken roof of the building above Tark’s sand pit. That thing is why I kept getting cursed, and there’s no way to get to it from down here.
I kill one of the beastmen on my way back to the bonfire. He drops a Lion Warrior cape. According to it, these guys are offshoots and not related to humans. Offshoots of what, then? And does that mean they aren’t part of the same experiments that made Tark and his girlfriend? Naturally, they hate humans. The cape’s defence stats are about as low as they come, which makes sense since wearing some tattered cloth on your back isn’t going to do much when the stabbing starts. That’s now what makes it interesting. What makes it interesting is that it has a special effect when worn, which is that it reduces falling damage. I file that away for later consideration.
Doors of Pharros
Along the same lines as using the branch of Yore, I’d like to find out what the function of a Pharros lockstone is withing the context of an entire area built around them. I realize I could be missing out on using them in other places, but I figure there will be enough to go around. Besides, there’s more likely to be that domino effect here than with the branches of Yore in the Shrouded Woods. It makes sense to find Pharros lockstones in a place named after the guy. Maybe I’ll find a Tree of Yore eventually.
The passage from the first bonfire to the large central chamber is carved to look like the skull and upper jaw of a toothy animal. My first thought is of a reptile, maybe even a dragon, but the eyes are wrong for that, and the nose is too pointed for a dog.
Each Pharros device is near a wall that is likely a door. They’re called lockstones, after all, so it makes sense that using them here will open things up. But there are so many in this chamber alone. On a ledge above I see another Gyrm warrior standing guard, and odd statues with outstretched arms.
There are two other exits from this chamber, besides the way back to the bonfire. I check the nearest and find a tunnel leading up to a loot corpse. From it I take a torch, reminding me of the unlit sconce nearby, and a Gyrm axe. The axe is stubby, but heavy. It tells me that the Gyrm are nomadic people who are great smiths, which is an odd mixture of features since proper metalworking requires infrastructure of some sort, but it’s possible they learned those skills before humans banished them to Drangleic.
The other exit, on the opposite side of the chamber from the bonfire, leads to a smaller room with a ladder climbing up to the ledges above. As I enter, one of those dog creatures with the flame aura rushes at me. I kill it.
There are small openings carved into the walls along with the larger doorways, many of them leading nowhere. This place is like a maze that nobody bothered to finish. I kill another dog and find the back of the room is full of more Pharros devices, more closed stone doors.
I can hear a Gyrm shifting and clanking around above me. I climb the ladder, rungs carved out of the stone itself. At the top is a narrow ledge curving around the room and leading to a wider space holding a chest. More Pharros devices, and an unlit sconce nearby.
I hear someone walking behind me. I turn and see a lone Gyrm warrior making his way to the chest. He gets to it, then stands behind it and starts bashing at the wall with his hammer. At first I think it’s an AI glitch, but after a couple of swings the Gyrm hits a switch and metal spikes stab out of the once smooth wall on the way to the chest. Are these Hollowed getting smarter? This one is trying to set up a trap. A weak and pointless trap, but a trap nonetheless.
I loot a nearby corpse. It holds an Undead Soul and a twisted barricade spell. Or hex. Hexes are new, and it must be the dark magic I’ve been hearing about. This spell reflects other spells, and requires a staff to cast.
The first Gyrm goes down without much of a fight. They are so slow that it’s nearing the point of farce, and it’s not even worth fighting them head-on, where there’s the slightest chance they might be dangerous. I can circle them twice before they recover from any attack, so it’s backstabs all the way. I’d hate to find out what happens on the off chance they actually land a hit. It drops a Gyrm greatshield, which isn’t much more than a slab of stone with a handle on one side. Compared to the tower shield I already have, it has 100% fire resistance to go along with the 100% physical resistance, requires 32 strength over 30 strength, and is worse in every other category. These guys would be good against dragons, if they could ever catch them, but not much else. I get a Gyrm chest armour from the next. It’s quite heavy, of course, but the stats don’t seem to justify the weight cost.
I make it to the spike wall trap. They don’t even stick out that far, and from this angle it doesn’t seem dangerous. In fact, the ledge widens there, as if inviting me to cross.
Still, better safe than sorry. I wait for them to retract and then sprint across while the Gyrm is trying to hit the button again. I stab him in the back, then switch to my club to finish the job as he stands.
The chest has a poison trap, and after dodging it I pick up a petrified dragon bone and a titanite chunk. More upgrade materials that I can’t use. There are more Pharros devices here as well. Everywhere I go there are more, and I’m starting to wonder if I’ll ever get enough lockstones.
I follow the ledge until it has looped back around to the main chamber. Behind some stairs there I find a body holding an Undead Soul and Pharros lockstone. A drop in the bucket, probably, but I’ll take what I can get.
I’m standing above the main chamber now, and I’m feeling defeated. I had intended on seeing how many Pharros devices I could access from the start and deciding which to go for first, but at this point there are just too many to deal with.
But I’m here, so I may as well keep going.
I turn right, and approach one of the Gyrm statues. It’s not facing me, is not a valid target. I hit it with my club and nothing happens. Safe, I suppose, but what is it? A petrified Gyrm, but not one I can free with a branch of Yore? And how did it become petrified? Maybe these guys just like to build statues when they’re not building weapons.
I’ve gained the attention of the nearest pair of Gyrm warriors, and they start walking toward me from across a narrow stone bridge. Even fighting them head-on, they do little stamina damage, and I can block and attack with relative safety. Except, one of them does a combo attack that I’ve never seen before, and the second hit smacks me right in the face, killing me and answering any questions I had about what would happen if I made a mistake.
On the way back I take a lunge off my shield from one of the little flaming creatures. It does petrify buildup along with some form of poison, now I see how the Gyrm could be turned to stone without a basilisk nearby, and that the glowing aura these things have is not of flame, but of horrible disease. When I kill it, it drops a Radiant Lifegem, and the next one drops a Pharros lockstone. Well, that’s something.
I fight my way back to the Gyrm that killed me, this time not even pretending to give them respect. They are dumb and slow, but dangerous if not treated properly. No point in doing anything fancy. Each Gyrm gets a backstab, then is killed as they stand. The one with the pair of axes (Why do his look so much cooler than the one I found?) is a little more dangerous than the standard hammer and shield variety. It tries a big spinning attack that blows my shield away, but he’s got no followup. I smash him down with my club and pick up another Gyrm warrior chest plate. A nearby body holds a large Undead Warrior’s Soul.
Across a gap I see another ledge, and past it is a dark fog gate. How do I get around to it?
I soon find the way. A doorway leads into a small room with a bonfire, and past it is another fog gate. Not the same one as I saw, but it should lead to the same place.
This bonfire has the ominous name of Ordeal’s End. Looks like I’ve found myself a boss fight.
When I step through the fog gate, nothing happens. There’s no cutscene, no boss health bar. But I’m no longer surprised by that. I’m standing at one end of a huge, open chamber, at least as large as the main one I just left, but this one lacks any of its defining features. It’s just a big, flat space. The other fog gate, the one I’d seen before entering, is behind me, but inaccessible. Which is the first way I know for sure that this is a boss fight.
The next comes to me when I turn around and see something large and alive resting on raised plateaus at the far end of the room. I can only see a bit of it, but what I can see is rising and falling in a gentle rhythm. Waiting like a filthy honour guard at the base of that big, stone bed are a quartet of the little creatures I’ve been fighting.
I take a few tentative steps toward them. They don’t move. Whatever it is that’s sleeping up there is making a low, but deep and strong, sound almost like a purr. I can’t see a way up, so I assume it will jump down when I wake it.
A few more steps and the smaller creatures break formation and charge at me. I get a flash of movement as I turn the camera toward them. It’s coming as well.
Royal Rat Authority
The little rats–glad I finally know what to call them–do toxic buildup along with the petrify buildup, even through my shield. Toxic is like poison, but a lot worse. Bad enough that there’s no way I could survive it, and even if I could cure the toxic effect, I wouldn’t survive long enough to administer the antidote. And that’s all assuming I’m not being attacked by a bunch of little rats and one really, really big one.
I think I’ve found a clue about that carving back near the first bonfire, except it looks more like a rat than the big one does. Its pointed ears and stubby snout, its lack of tail and clawed paws, all say canine to me. But who am I to argue against the Royal Rat Authority? And, more importantly, what difference does it make when the thing is big enough to swallow me hole, and also intent on doing just that?
Even as the big rat lunges toward me, the toxic damage kills me. Which means I’m committed. I’ve got 15,000 Souls on that body, and the only way to keep them is to go through the fog gate and kill everything on the other side.
This fight has two distinct parts. There are the little guys, and the big guy. Each of them is only dangerous because of the other, which is important. I can take on 4 of the little rats no problem, especially in such a big, open space. But I can’t do that while their big brother is running around and headbutting me in the back. I also can’t fight the big guy while the little ones are all over me, covering me with their toxic bile.
I know this won’t be as easy as some of the other fights I’ve been through. Any time I’m forced to take on a gang of opponents at the same time there will be some challenge, as Dark Souls combat is better geared toward fighting one or two others at a time. Not that I mind this at all. Switching things up like this keeps the experience fresh, and the player should want to be removed from their comfort zone now and again.
My first step is experimenting. I try different equipment, doing the best I can to raise my poison resistance. I don’t have a lot of choices, but I manage to get to a point where it takes maybe one more blocked attack before I become fully toxic. It’s not close to being enough.
What else can I do? The little rats are the most dangerous, but also the quickest to die. If I could figure out a way to get rid of them fast, or even before the fight starts. I have to bright idea of using the Redeye ring I bought earlier, but if it does anything at all, it doesn’t do it here. I can’t pull the little rats from any further out with it on, but the glowing red eye effect while I wear it is kind of cool.
The big rat can hurt the little ones, knocking them down when it attacks me, but the damage it does is so low that I’d been to run in circles for a solid half hour to have them kill each other off. But it does knock them down, which gives me my first idea. I can use the big rat as an obstacle, keeping close to it and under its legs while I try to fight the little ones. Which is what I do for a while, but end up making little progress. I can kill a couple of the rats, but its inevitable that I’ll run out of stamina and take a hit from the big one, or lose sight of it and become toxic from the remaining little guys.
I’m giving up ground fighting like that, and every step back is one I’ll never regain. I have to be more aggressive and take the fight to the rats. With the spear held in both hands I can reliably kill the little rats in a single thrust. With speed and a little luck, I should be able to kill them before the big one arrives. The first time I do, just barely, I die when the big rat rams into me. The problem now is running out of stamina to defend myself when it attacks.
Somewhere along the line I manage to lose my body, which makes no sense to me because I was careful to fight near the fog gate and to always recover my body before each fight. It’s disappointing, but what can I do? That’s the price I have to pay for doing this, I guess. Unless there’s some mechanic I haven’t noticed where repeated deaths reduces the Souls I’m carrying. But you know what they say, never attribute to punishing mechanics what can adequately explained by player stupidity. Or maybe that’s just me.
So I combine the strategies. I can take out 2 or 3 of the small rats in the first seconds of the fight, before the big one lands, then use it to manoeuvre around, keeping the remaining rats away, while I wait for the chance to take them out.
Then the fight begins. Or, ends, really, because the lone Royal Rat isn’t a big deal. My shield is strong enough to block any single attack, and most of its attacks are single. As long as I stay close, and far enough to the side that I won’t get hit by its double paw swipe, I can always defend myself or move out of the way. I may be covered in slobber, and I may have to smell its breath, but at least I’m not getting hurt. The only thing prolonging the fight is how far above the ground the rat’s body is, which makes it difficult to land hits from most angles.
When it falls somewhere below half health, the rat changes up the fight. It slows down, stops leaping around the room, and instead snaps at me with its massive jaws, and though it’s still an intimidating beast, and it has the look of unrelenting frenzy in its beady black eyes, it has any chance it had to hurt me.
In a last ditch effort, it starts rises up on its hind legs, bows its head, and begins to puke. A stream of putrid yellow liquid gushes from its open mouth and forms a puddle around it, then expands to a small, steaming lake. I back away, holding my shield up to protect my body, but without a free hand there’s nothing stopping the smell from reaching me. I try holding my breath, then letting it out slowly, until the puddle has dissipated and I can move in for the kill.
I gain a rat tail, a Soul of the Royal Rat Authority, and about 14,000 Souls. That about makes up for what I lost.
According to the Soul and the rat tail, this thing guards an underground realm by order of the Rat King himself. Is that my next stop, an underground world run by a sewer rodent with its head in the clouds? As messed up as Drangleic may be, I have trouble believing that’s as close to real royalty as I’ll find. It’s likely another Covenant, since the tail implies I can use it to strengthen my bond. Which just makes me wonder if there will be more of the big rats in the future.
I don’t have far to look for the Covenant. I leave the boss room through the other exit, the one I’d seen before finding the bonfire, and the first thing I see is the chewed-out remains of a Pharros device with a large rat huddled inside. It’s not covered by a cloud of disease, and doesn’t attack me. It has clear, red eyes and when I get close there’s an option to talk with it.
He calls himself the Rat King, and after some complaining about me being a filthy human–which is a bit rich, considering he’s a rat, and what his followers look like–he notices the rat tail and tells me that if I’m willing, he’ll allow me to bend the knee to him. Honestly, I’m less turned away by him being an ugly rat than I am with the pompous way he talks. If I never have to hear another thy or thou again I could keep from going Hollowed forever.
Doors of Pharros
The tunnel continues for a little longer, then ends abruptly in a doorway overlooking the entrance to Doors of Pharros.
I drop down and climb up to the room with the little carved figures. I take the stairs up from there till I’m in the long hall guarded by the Gyrm with the two big axes. I walk toward him and he surprises my by throwing the axes at me. Each falls short, sticking hard into the ground before disappearing, and he then comes at me with his fists.
Seems simple enough, but I get anxious and take a left hook, which comes close to killing me. I end the fight immediately, crushing his skull with my club, and then drink a flask charge before moving on.
I keep going, past a torch, and eventually start to hear rushing water. I emerge in an underground valley, with a waterfall plunging into the darkness below. Above the sound of the water is the distinct jingle of a crystal lizard, and I can see the little bastard in the water in front of me. I hit it once with my club and it starts scurrying away. I’m wary, because the waterfall is at the entrance to another tunnel and I could be walking into an ambush. Within moments the crystal lizard has run to the edge of the ledge and jumped off, disappearing in the water below. I get nothing. A Grym warrior comes at me swinging a hammer, and when I miss the timing of a block after it does a strange spinning move, I take a bone-shattering blow and fall to the ground, dead. Oops.
I return and kill the crystal lizard, netting myself 3 large titanite shards and a raw stone. I then kill the hammer Gyrm, fighting with some caution now that I see he fights differently from the others. His attacks come out as swooping, awkward swings, which are weird to see, but leave him so open that I get backstabs without even having to circle behind him.
A shallow stream of water feeds the waterfall, and it finds its own source at the end of a short hall cut into the stone. Sitting there, staring at a lit sconce, is one of the anvil-on-a-chain guys I’ve encountered a few times already. I walk right up to him, not even sneaking, and club him to death from behind before he can even stand up. It may seem cold-blooded, but I know that at some point it will end up being him or me, because it always does, and I’m not taking chances. The water is flowing from a dark well, and it’s not as if I can jump down into it. Nothing else to see here.
Past where the hammer Gyrm stood are some narrow stairs with an almost corrugated pattern of stone corners spaced regularly along the passage.
I climb and climb until I come out to different architecture. I’m in a big, largely empty building with smooth stone walls and a trio of curved windows showing a black sky.
The only major feature in the room is an old fountain. When I get close I see that, bent and broken as it is, the fountain is not empty, nor is it filled with old, stagnant water. It’s full of ash. And human bones. Most of which are wide-eyed, grinning skulls. Those are the worst part, because other bones can be indistinct enough to all come from the same person, but each skull represents a life lost by itself. Just the ones I can see on the surface suggest a terrible death toll and the measures people went to when confronted with Undeath and Hollowing.
Brightstone Cove Tseldora
I leave the building and its grim fountain, stepping out into a cold night made a little warmer by a nearby pile of burning bodies. It’s not the most pleasant thing to see when entering a new area, but at least it tells me that the locals were trying to take care of the Undead. If I’m lucky a few of them might even still be human.
I’m at the edge of a military camp, and I can see a bonfire. As I walk toward it, my hopes for a refuge are dashed. I can see Falconer soldiers patrolling around and between the ugly brown tents, or watching from rickety wooden guard towers, or supervising the burning of more bodies. The bonfire tells me I’ve found the Royal Army Campsite.
I skirt around the edge of the camp. Past a few wooden barricades I find a lone Hollowed, all dressed in green, hacking away at the ground near a pile of loot corpses with an old, dark pick. He must have begun digging the grave and given up part way through. I get close enough for him to notice me and take a swing with his axe. He’s tough enough, but has no poise, so I stab him until he dies. I loot the corpses, picking up a few decent sized Undead Souls, mostly knights and soldiers. While I’m doing this a Falconer charges me from behind, stabbing at me with a heavy rapier. I smash his skull in. They still fight like jackasses.
Archers overlook most of the main tents, and I feel this is going to be a pain in the ass to get through, but I’m compelled to continue despite myself.
I take out my spear and head into the closest tent. I’m able to get the drop on the knight standing near the corpse fire, jamming my spear straight through his spine for a quick kill. Even as I do that, another Falconer rushes and stabs me with his sword, taking out half my health. I drop the body and kill him as well before ducking back into the tent and healing up.
Then I hear something I did not expect, the squeal of a pig. There are a couple of them–big, haggard-looking swine with sizable tusks–wandering through the back of the camp.
Seems an ideal time to test the Redeye ring. I put it on. Nothing attacks me. I walk forward and one of the hogs comes at me, trying to gore me with its tusks. It was already so close when I left the cover of the tents that it would have seen my anyway, so the test doesn’t tell me much. When I kill it I find a smooth and silky stone.
I enter another tent and kill another Falconer. He drops a set of Falconer gloves. Next, I go after the watchtowers.
They are so flimsy that I can knock them down with a few club swings, and when I topple the nearest of them the knight who had been standing up there lands near me without taking any damage, sword already drawn, and pounces at me. He hits me once before I put him down, and as I’m picking up the Falconer armour he dropped an arrow hits me in the side of the head. I get behind cover and use a flask charge to heal back up before circling back around the camp to get at the other archer’s tower.
Three club swings and he’s on the ground. I take the hit and smash him down, then heal again. There’s another tower to knock down, and this one only has a dead body holding 15 lacerating arrows, which build up bleed damage in targets.
The final knight stands on a ridge at the other end of the camp. I move toward him, using a terribly constructed storage building as cover. Between this ugly mess, the nearby well that looks like it was made by a child using a frozen banana and bent nails, and those guard towers, it’s a wonder these idiots could even set their tents up.
Less interesting than the shoddy construction of the storehouse is what’s inside. Besides a stack of what are guaranteed to be empty boxes, I can see a chest in there. That’s treasure, and I need something to justify wasting time here. I can hear the snorts of another hog, but can’t see it.
I climb the ridge to the last archer.
He draws his sword and I swing my club. He hops back, dodging the attack, and makes me look stupid by darting forward into a running stab that almost kills me. I recover in time to get behind him and knock his head off with the club. I heal again, then drop down to loot the corpse in the well. I pick up a titanite shard.
Stones block the entrance into the storehouse. I can’t get in through the front door, and there is no place higher up that I could drop down from. I can still hear the sounds of something alive nearby, but nothing comes out at me.
I walk the edge of the camp till I come to a cliff. Below is a mine for digging up big, dark crystals. A huge building of simple and familiar design overlooks the mine, and the scale of the place is enough to turn me around.
That, and the path leading toward it is clogged with more Falconer knights and rolling boulder traps. I’ve seen what’s ahead and found my limit for today.
All I want before leaving is that chest, but how do I get to it? That sound. I look around a bit more, until I come to the conclusion that the only way in must be from below, which leads me to the well. I look down and see that there’s no water down there, but instead there is a tunnel that must lead to the storehouse.
I put on the Silvercat ring and climb to the ridge above the well. After a few jumps I manage to collide with the well’s roof. It puts up about as much fight as a well of wet paper might, with it broken the way down is open. I line myself up carefully, take a running leap, and land at the bottom of the well with a thud.
I raise my shield in time to defend against the pig I’d been hearing. I can’t back away or get behind it, so I keep the shield up and stab whenever stamina will allow it. The pieces of wood running along the walls deflect half my attacks, but I still kill it. It drops another smooth stone, and a body I landed on is holding 3 holy water urns, which are some sort of anti-Hollowed bomb. I walk the length of the narrow tunnel and find a ladder leading up to the storehouse and the chest inside.
It was bound to happen sooner or later.
Even as I begin to lift the chest’s lid I can tell something is wrong. I mean, it’s got teeth, and chests are not supposed to have teeth.
The mimic’s big arms pull me in, and it begins to chomp down on me. I struggle as best I can, but it’s not enough, and I die.
Which means I have to clear the camp again. I get a scare when, trying to take a shortcut, I manage to alert nearly everyone at once, but I still kill them off and make it back to the well.
This time I stab the chest. The teeth appear, then the gangling limbs sprout and it lunges forward. I take damage through my shield, and I move back as far as I can, waiting for it to stand so I can fight it. But the mimic only flops around, Voldo-style, until I get hit again and die. Looks like mimics are now dangerous even after they’ve been found.
Which means clearing the camp a third time. As inevitable as it was that I’d die to the first mimic I found, I was also bound to get myself killed by a Folconer at some point. Upon entering the camp and knocking over a guard tower, I get rushed by 3 of them at once. I’m stabbed from every angle, and die, losing my body and all of the Souls I’d been carrying. Oh well. Easy come, easy go.
I fight the mimic again.
I give it all the space it needs to wiggle and crawl, stabbing only when I’m sure it’s safe. It spits vile-looking globs of yellow gunk at me and thrashes at random for a bit. I keep stabbing until it finally dies. I have to drop back into the well tunnel to pick up my loot.
The Staff of Wisdom requires a full 50 intelligence to use, and is unable to cast hexes. Which makes it an odd pairing with the dark leggings, which are heavy greaves with a bone motif that once belonged to knights straight from the abyss, and were linked in many ways to dark magic.
And that’s enough of that. I return to the bonfire and warp away.
Doors of Pharros
I stand up from the first bonfire, and as I pass into the main chamber I realize that the carved animal face over the doorway is a rat. There must be someone with opposable thumbs working for the Rat King.
I kill the elephant warrior in the main chamber and it drops a rusted mastodon helm. Like the lion men, these guys are not the results of failed experiments, and belonged to the Primal Knights, a unit that once guarded Drangleic. Say what you will about old King Vendrick, but the guy like a holistic approach to building armies, and seemed willing to give anyone a shot. At the same time, what was he into that made it necessary to get such eclectic help?
I start placing lockstones. The first goes into the device to the right of the biggest door in the room, and after it has nestled neatly into its slot one third of the door slides open. There’s another of the Primal Knights behind it, eager to get out and fight me.
I put the next lockstone in the device to the left of the door, which opens up another third. But there isn’t a third device down here, so how do I open the last section of the door? Could it be the device on the ledge above?
I cross the room to another closed door, a smaller one that will open with a single lockstone. On the other side is one of the anvil swingers. I kill him and he drops a Gyrm helm, so apparently that’s what they look like underneath all that armour.
The room, which is really more of a closet, is otherwise empty and leads nowhere. I can’t even guess what the point of it is, for the Gyrm, but I can tell already that most of the devices I’ve seen in this place are going to be dead ends and a waste of time. But I’m still going to open them all if I can. So I move to the next device and place a lockstone. It reveals another lone Gyrm. The one after that has only a rat inside.
I only have a single lockstone left, and even if I open that big door I’m pretty sure there’s nothing in there besides the elephant guy. Before moving on I light the sconce in the main chamber.
I fight my way up to the ledge over the big door and place the lockstone in the device there. It’s only then, after looking down to see if the elephant has made it out, that I see the device in the water in front of the door. Oops.
And when I look up I see that a new wall has appeared, blocking my way back to the ladder I used to get up here and forcing me to take a longer route to get back down.
Which means that I’ve used all my lockstones and managed to somehow end up worse off than I was when I started, with extra enemies and obstacles in the way. I’ve just scratched the surface, too. Where am I meant to get lockstones in bulk now? Do I have to grind the rats? Even that would be more work than its worth, since there aren’t more than about 4 of the things in total that I can find, and all of them are scattered about.
One of the Gyrm drops an old mundane stone. Grants the power of mundane to a weapon? Does that mean it removes elemental damage? But I already have ore that will do that, and most weapons that have inherent elemental damage would be upgraded with twinkling titanite anyway. I have no idea what to do with it, and can’t use it anyway. If only I had another smith. I bet a Gyrm could help me out, if they weren’t all Hollowed and hostile. That same Gyrm drops a Gyrm greataxe, which is the bigger, more powerful, and cooler looking double-bladed axe that they carry.
I’ve run out of things to do here, so I warp back to Majula. I may as well spend the Souls I have, as meagre a haul as it ended up being after losing so many. I put 2 points into dexterity to help a bit with damage and access to more weapons. I figure at this point I’ll keep on this track, putting points into strength and dexterity, until I find a smith that will let me upgrade my gear to the next tier. I’ve seen loading screens for special ore that will give me damage bonuses from dexterity and intelligence, so when I have access to that stuff it will be easier to make a decision on which way I want to redistribute my stats.
I’m ready to call it a day, but I have one last bit of reckless stupidity to try.
I put on the lion’s cape. The little cat icon that denotes reduced falling damage appears underneath my health bar. I put on the Silvercat ring. No message pops up telling me they conflict with each other, like what happened when I tried to put on 2 Cloranthy rings, and the cat icon is still there. They just might stack.
I use an effigy to get my health back to full. I walk over to the pit and drop a prism stone. It lands safely on the first platform.
I jump down after it.
I’m too tired to keep going today, but I know what I’ll be doing tomorrow.