I am enjoying doing these Diaries, as someone should know my suffering, but since I waited until I had a solid backlog before publishing them, I’m beginning to forget some of the stuff that’s happened to me in late December and early January (you’ll note these Diary entries date well before that). In any case, I’m going to try and catch up a bit so I don’t forget stuff if I have a Dark Souls adventure and no chance to write it down.
Now, some of you may be getting sick of the Dark Souls Diaries. I can understand that. If you are, let me know, and I’ll polish the (currently) 6,554-word scholarly paper I’ve been working on in parallel – the one that talks about Kierkegaard and Kant, about the concept of the Knight of Faith, about Campbellian Monomyth Variances, and so on – and I’ll just run with that. It will be epic.
Dark Souls Diaries – Deaths 332-346 (November 7)
The Bell Gargoyles are destroyed.
The Bell of Awakening has been rung.
After my disappointments in Darkroot Basin, I decided to retrace my steps and try out all my new equipment on the foes that’ve held me back. I am, after all, now armed with a Drake Sword and some reasonably upgraded Elite Knight Armor, making me altogether more formidable than the last time I clashed with the Gargoyles. Taking a moment to crack a Humanity and return to life, I summoned my old friend Solaire, and together we passed through the fog door leading to the roof the Temple of Awakening.
It was a glorious battle that raged for hours.
We made absolute mincemeat out of them.
The first Gargoyle was dead before the second had a chance to come bounding up, and while Solaire selflessly planted himself in front of the second’s fiery breath, I circled round and chopped off its tail, wings, and head in quick succession. Solaire dissolved into the ether even as the Bell Gargoyles did, but not before leaving me with a family heirloom – a Sun Medal, representing fellowship against trying odds. Alone again on the rooftop, I took a moment to recommend all the “I DID IT!” messages left by other players (and to leave one of my own), then made the rather treacherous climb to the steeple, where an unassuming lever set the Bell of Awakening chiming through every player’s game.
Full of exuberance and a sense of invulnerability, I took a roundabout way back to Firelink Shrine, then cut through the aqueduct to the Undead Slums, where even unassisted I made short, short work of Capra Demon. With his fall came the Key to the Depths… a gloomy subterranean world underneath the Undead City. Half sewer, half cesspit, all awful, The Depths lead I know not where, but I took some time to explore them all the same. While down there I encountered one Master – an obese, cleaver-wielding demon. He was working in a kitchen incongruously perched on wooden pylons over a shallow pool filled with bloated corpses.
I knew what I was getting into as I ventured further into the Depths. Poison, disease, and rot permeate the area and inhabitants. I found and killed an undead rat the size of a Lincoln Navigator:
But beyond the rat lurked horrid bug-eyed frog creatures that made an end to my journey into the Depths. They’re easy enough to kill, but they spray toxic breath that curses (and kills) you.
In Dark Souls, if you’re Cursed, you only get half your maximum hit points. For my puny sorcerer self that’s not a lot, and the road to becoming uncursed is expensive and circuitous. If I keep going into the Depths with no protection, I’m doomed, because Curses stack. The Moss Merchant in the aqueduct sells a stone that breaks curses, for a measly (yeah right) 8,000 souls. Yet another chance at investing in stat increases (like, maybe, Curse Resistance), gone.
Another alternative is to find a Cursebreaker in Londo. The game itself told me this – that a Londo Cursebreaker could do the job. I doubt he’d do it for free, and I’ve never been to Londo (I don’t even know where it is… I’ve been to the New Londo Ruins, but I don’t know if that’s the same thing, and there were certainly no cursebreakers there). But regardless of which I choose, one way or the other I have to break this curse before I can make any more serious progress.
Once that’s done, I have a number of potential options open. With the first Bell rung, Undead City is old news. That leaves Darkroot Garden to explore, as well as Darkroot Basin (I’ve lost a lot of fear of those places after the Depths). There’s the New Londo Ruins, the Valley of the Drakes, and the Cemetery. There’s also the HUGE locked gate over in the Undead Parish, and this knight is sitting there, wanting to get it. I’m pretty sure Blacksmith Andrei sells the key to that, but at 10,000 souls I’ve been putting off the purchase.
Hmm… the Dark Souls wiki tells me that Snuggly the Crow will trade a curse cure for a Cracked Red Eye Stone, the tool used to invade other players’ worlds as a Black Phantom. I have… four of those, I think. If I can figure out how to get Sparkly the Crow to take me back, that might be my best option.
Dark Souls Diaries: Deaths 347-422 (November 16)
I haven’t been playing much Dark Souls in the past few weeks, on account of Skyrim and Arkham City, but I do want to get back to it. Unfortunately there’s a problem.
The problem is that I’ve hit an impasse. I’ve reached a point where there are a million potential places to go and they all destroy me. I’m not sure if this is the result of my mishandling my character build or if I just suck at the game, but whereas in the past there was always a pretty evident forward path, now each of the paths available are equally hellish.
I did manage to get the curse broken. Sparkly the Crow maintains a second nest high up in the ruins near Firelink Shrine, and with some creative jumping I managed to get up there. Then, curling myself into the general shape of a giant crow’s egg, I waited. Sure enough, along came Sparkly to move her eggs around, and minutes later I was safely dropped at the Northern Undead Asylum.
Snuggly was where I’d left her, asking for something warm and soft… but knowing that all crows like shiny things as well, I gave her a Cracked Red Eye Stone. The trade? A Purging Stone to cure my curse. Ahhhhh.
I spent just a few more minutes in the Undead Asylum. A new boss has moved in – the Stray Demon – and I’d barely gotten a look at him before I died, conveniently resurrecting in Firelink.
This may not seem like much. How then does this entry begin with 347 deaths and end with 422? The story is so boring even a Diary wouldn’t want it.
I got to maybe Death 349 trying to break my curse. Beyond that I was – as my British friends might say – “faffing about.”
I lacked the courage to choose a path and make a substantive move forward, but also lacked a safe place where I could endlessly grind for souls and fall into my Shrine of Storms trap from Demon’s Souls.
That was the rest of the deaths.
Eventually, at the urging of a friend (thx McShane) I did what I needed to do. I returned to the Depths.
Dark Souls Diaries: Deaths 423-455 (November 29)
I forgot how much I love this game.
I was afraid of the Basilisks – the frog things that cursed me, I looked them up on the Dark Souls wiki – but once I understood how their cursing attack worked, it was… not easy, but possible to avoid it.
So! The Depths. So full of twists and turns I’ll never find my way in it; after significant exploration I did find a campfire, which I promptly kindled. A few more exploratory forays into the territory and I’d earned enough souls to grab another point in Vitality. While the Basilisks pose a real danger, they’re mostly dangerous if you round a corner and find a couple, already inflating to breathe out that cursing gas.
Beyond that the Depths are disgusting, but bearable, and there’s some good shit (get it?) down here. Undead rats sometimes drop humanity, and if you’re willing to poke into nooks and crannies you’re likely to find all sorts of interesting treasure. In the sewer. With the rats.
Eventually, though, you hit the fog door, a big white signpost that basically says, “Hello! You’re about to encounter a boss. I hope you brought clean undergarments!”
The boss of The Depths is a suitably repulsive monster called Gaping Dragon.
Imagine your worst nightmares of vagina dentata combined with a lizard and some wings, and you have some semblance of an idea.
There is something seriously wrong with the people at From Software, that they could create a monster as revolting and as terrifying as the Gaping Dragon. It has a protuberance that looks like a crocodile, so at first when it pokes out of the sewer water you think, “Oh! A crocodile! I can deal with that!” then the rest of its 900 feet come crawling out.
Gaping Dragon is hard. He’s big, he flies, he stomps, he swings his tail. So far I’ve managed to bring him down to half hit points, but no better. I will eventually get him, but probably not tonight. The good news? My old friend Knight Solaire is available to summon for help if you’re human. During my latest attempt I also summoned a regular player, but he/she lost his/her connection almost immediately. Pity; I could have used the extra sword. Gaping Dragon is vulnerable to lightning, which you can apply to most weapons with Gold Pine Resin, but I bought up the merchant’s entire stock and now I’m out. Worse still, the Drake Sword doesn’t take enchantments. I’m beginning to think that thing might be a slippery slope. I had to use my Longsword +5 with the Pine Resin, and it’s hard to switch to a weapon that does so much less damage.
Also! I got invaded today. My first time. As Dobry once pointed out, there’s little more terrifying than that simple text alert – YOUR WORLD HAS BEEN INVADED BY A BLACK PHANTOM. I never even caught this one’s name. He had some sort of magical weapon that did automatic backstab damage, so my time against him was short.
Overall, though, my time in The Depths has been fruitful. I got an Evil Eye Ring, which steals hit points from fallen enemies; and I’ve conquered my fear of Basilisks. If only I can find a way to destroy the Gaping Dragon…
Dark Souls Diaries: Deaths 456-471 (December 1)
Fear! Fear is the mind-killer. Gaping Dragon wasn’t so hard after all. You just have to chillax and not freak out, take advantage of the fact that they give you a pretty generous amount of space to run around in, and while Gaping Dragon’s attacks are devastating, he’s a very slow creature. I brought him down with a combination of Heavy Arrows and Soul Spears, then, when I ran out of both of those, I ran in and had at him with the Drake Sword.
I would have smote his ruin upon the mountainside, but we weren’t on a mountain, we were in a sewer, so I settled for just watching him sink into the water. Total haul? 25,000 souls, more souls than I’ve ever had, and a key to Blight Town.
The walk back to the campfire was more harrowing than the Gaping Dragon. I was convinced I’d fall into a bottomless pit or get melted by a slime and risk losing all those precious souls. But I didn’t! I bought new stats, dropped off some Large Titanite Chunks with Blacksmith Andrei to upgrade and ascend my longsword (almost as good as the Drake Sword now), and replenished my arrow supply. I also bought a Bottomless Box, one of those by-the-counter impulse purchases. It helps me manage my inventory at campfires.
Curious to see how much stronger I was, I took myself off to Darkroot Garden and had a lot of fun battling the enemies there. Those things are no joke, but the Moss Knights drop 600 souls apiece and the Ents drop 100, provided you avoid their brain-sucking maneuver. In the end I made it farther into Darkroot Garden than I ever have, climbed the steps of a ruined tower, boldly passed through a fog door, and damned if there wasn’t another boss there.
Moonlight Butterfly doesn’t sound like a sinister demon; she doesn’t look like a sinister demon, but a sinister demon she is nonetheless. Still, buoyed by my recent success against Gaping Dragon, it took me only two tries to bring her down. Still no mountain, but there was kind of a hill, so I smote her ruin on that. By that time I was sleepy and I decided to go to bed.
Next challenge? Blight Town! The City of Disease. And hopefully non-diseased nympho hookers.
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