I completed Dark Souls a couple weekends ago – something I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to do. However, just because I’m done doesn’t mean that each and every one of you aren’t hanging on breathlessly for the next installment of my Diary! Far be it from me to deny you.
Today the adventure continues with all new topics: oral hygeine for snakes, the world’s worst library, dragons in the buff, and more crystal than you can shake a hippie at! Let’s go!
Dark Souls Diaries: Deaths 735-756
Kingseeker Frampt was so excited when I turned up with the Lordvessel that he roared at me for like three minutes straight, then sheepishly apologized for his exuberance. Communication can be hard when you’re a giant snake-dog thing, but the incoherent language of joy needs no translation. I mean he was really jazzed about this. If he had arms he would have waved them. If he had legs he’d have scampered around. The Lordvessel is proof that I’m the Chosen Undead, that I’m the one who’ll break the curse on Lordran. Lordvessel for the win!
Some people with dirty minds chose to interpret my bounteous concluding prose in the last installment of the Diaries as implying hanky-panky with Lady Gwynevere. Nothing could be further from the truth. First of all, I’m wearing armor, and in Dark Souls, the armor DOESN’T COME OFF NO MATTER WHAT. You never know what might be lurking in the shadows waiting to stab you when you remove your codpiece. Second, Lady Gwynevere, despite being the Princess Cherished by All, the Author of Miracles, the Illusory Goddess, yadda yadda, is kinda gross. While it might seem logical to assume that 35 feet of woman just means more to love, in fact it sort of exaggerates the flaws. So no, I knelt out of respect, and the Lordvessel is not what some unnamed (Ajax19) individuals with perverted minds seemed to think it was. It’s just a really big bowl.
My return to Firelink Shrine with the Lordvessel was uneventful because thanks to its power, I’m now able to warp between certain campfires. It would’ve taken me an hour to get back on foot. Instead, I just sat down at the fire outside Gwynevere’s throne room and teleported my bowl-carrying ass back to Firelink. I’m never gonna walk anywhere ever ever again.
So Frampt was super-duper-excited about my retrieving the Lordvessel, and after all the roaring he ate me.
The drawback of not having arms? When you want to carry someone somewhere you have to put them in your mouth. I knew it was coming and tried not to think about how many Dung Pies I’d fed him over the course of my play. If I could face down the Gaping Dragon, I could survive a ride in a giant snake-dog thing’s unbrushed mouth.
Deep below Firelink Shrine is an underground chamber called Firelink Altar, and it’s there that Frampt had me place the Lordvessel, with a level of ceremony somewhat diminished by the fact that he was hanging upside down from the ceiling watching me do it. My new task (silly me, hoping that getting the Lordvessel was all he would ask me to do) is to “sate” it with four very particular souls: souls of beings that had, according to Frampt, “outlived their usefulness or fallen to wickedness.” He didn’t say what would happen once I put them in the bowl, but I’m assuming it’ll be a cue for him to give me some other huge, death-defying task he’s too lazy to do himself.
Dark Souls doesn’t lead you around by the nose. It’s up to me which of the four Lord Souls to go after first. Unfortunately Frampt was not particularly explicit about where the Lords are, or even who they are, or maybe I wasn’t listening on account of I was busy wiping snake-dog saliva off my armor. Plus I assume they’ll be hesitant to give me their souls. I only know for sure where one of them is, because in a rare moment of loquaciousness the Anor Londo Fire Keeper had mentioned him: Seath the Scaleless, the King’s lieutenant. Rather ominously she related the story of the Duke’s Archive, a vast repository of books, a place of learning, which Seath had built to pursue his study of immortality.
You know what? Never study immortality. I can’t think of a single time when it’s gone well.
And sure enough, the Duke’s Archive became a place where unspeakable experiments were conducted in the name of Seath’s studies. Eventually the pursuit drove him mad, and somebody locked him in there. The Fire Keeper didn’t say what his nickname the Scaleless meant (I can guess, but it’s unclear whether he’d once been Scaleful or what). So now I’m off to kick his ass, which should be comparatively easy since apparently the dude doesn’t even have any scales unless that name is meant ironically.
Before leaving I stopped by the Fire Keeper’s cage. This comes from the Department of Facepalm, so don’t read this paragraph if you entertain any notions that I’m an intelligent person, or someone who thinks things through. You see, for some reason I was of the belief that simply killing Lautrec of Carim would, like, magically resurrect Anastacia of Astora, the Keeper of Firelink that he’d murdered. It honestly didn’t cross my mind that her soul, once recovered, might be crucial to the process; that it was not mine to do with as I pleased. So I’d used it to reinforce my Estus Flask, which is actually probably what Lautrec meant to do with it. Long story short, Anastacia of Astora is going to continue on being dead, the fire’s not going to be igniting, and I’m an idiot.
Dark Souls Diaries: Deaths 757-811
The Duke’s Archive is a horrible place. I don’t generally associate libraries with horror, but then, not many libraries are the Duke’s Archive.
The approach is guarded by three – count ‘em – of those giant metal-plated boar demon things, who let me tell you don’t get much easier as you level up and who are especially hard to kill when they’re in a narrow passageway where you can’t take advantage of an AI exploit and hide behind a pillar and pelt them with firebombs. Thankfully they don’t respawn, but it took a fair amount of effort to just get past those guys, to the point where I’ve developed a sort of block about them so I hope there aren’t any more in the game.
Beyond that is the Archive itself, home to the abominable results of Seath’s immortality experiments. From what I can tell, his immortality experiments involved stuffing people full of crystals so they turn into crystal-covered crystal monsters that shoot you with crystal arrows and stab you with crystal swords. Though not large – all the extra crystal weight sort of hunches them down – they are surprisingly tough. The Archive is laid out as sort of a two-tiered hall; there’s probably an architectural term for it. And it’s cluttered with tables full of books, and globes, and strange objects of all sorts, so maneuvering is ungraceful. I turned around at one point and realized I’d basically smashed my way through the entire room, leaving nothing but splintered furniture in my wake. I would have been more respectful of Seath the Scaleless’s property if his crystal-infused employees weren’t so intent on killing me dead.
When I build my vast library to study immortality, I’ll tell you what I’ll not do. I’ll not set it up in such a way that you need to manipulate various mechanisms scattered all through the building in order to get the stairways to point the way you want them to point. If I’m in a section of my library, say, “Immortality: Theory and Philosophy,” and I want to go over to another section, say, “Immortality: Practical Applications,” I want to just be able to walk over there. I don’t want to have to cut through “Immortality in Fiction,” throw a switch, climb a ladder up to “Cooking with Immortality” to throw another switch, then climb back down and walk all the way to “Immortality and Crystals” to throw a third before I can reach the section I want. That is a dumb way to build a library.
Seriously, Seath the Scaleless might’ve hired the guy who designs Babylonian palaces from Prince of Persia to do his floorplan. Were it not for the absence of spikes – though the crystal guards are kind of spiky – I’d be sure of it.
Dark Souls Diaries: Deaths 812-884
I found out why Seath is called “the Scaleless!”
It’s because he has no scales.
In and of itself this might not be shocking, but Seath is also a dragon (thanks a lot, Anor Londo Fire Keeper, it would have killed you to mention that part?), and a dragon without scales is worthy of comment, while a person without scales is just normal.
He’s a great big buck-naked dragon sitting in a bed of crystals. I don’t know how he became a dragon, or if he started that way – I’m thinking no, because all the chairs in the Archive are person-sized not dragon-sized – and whether all his scales fell off or he never had any in the first place.
Even though he’s a dragon I was in such a panic that I forgot to use my Dragonslayer Greatbow on him, not that it would have mattered.
Our very own Tanis38 warned me about this in the comments on a previous Diary. It was much appreciated, that advice about my first battle with Seath the Scaleless. Of our brief exchange, here is the most relevant line:
That initial encounter is From Software at their most devilish. Go through that fog door naked and weaponless if you want. It makes no difference.
When you first face Seath the Scaleless, you will die. Death is a way of life in Dark Souls, and you get used to the penalties that come along with it. But death is usually your own fault, because you got careless or ignored some warning sign or suck or whatever. Only in this one instance is your death out of your hands.
You know what’s worse than being killed by a naked, crystal-fondling, book-reading dragon? Waking up in that dragon’s prison.
Normally I’d think it was a nice gesture of Seath the Scaleless to toss me in prison rather than into a well or something, but having seen what happened to other people who were in Seath’s clutches I decided I’d better make a break for it before he came back and bungholed me with crystals.
The prison tower was uneventful, aside from the presence of those giant snake-headed men presumably on loan from Sen’s Fortress. I did manage to rescue the famous sorcerer Big Hat Logan for the second time. How this guy became a major hero when all he seems able to do is get himself locked up, first in Sen’s Fortress and now here, is beyond me. Logan is one of those characters who I never really gravitated toward. He wears an enormous hat specifically so he doesn’t have to interact with people, and despite the fact that I’ve rescued him from prison twice, he’s unwilling to give me a discount on the sorceries he teaches. This is relevant because the dude’s prices are absolutely shocking. I’ve bought a few spells from him, but he’s not very personable, so I haven’t really taken the time to find out if there’s a quest line associated with him, or if just constantly rescuing his sorry ass counts as that. Logan’s okay but I’m friendlier with some of the other NPCs.
Oh! By the way, you may have noticed the comparatively high number of deaths in this installment. The Duke’s Archive is hard, but it’s not that hard. Here’s the explanation: remember how I always say “never play Dark Souls angry?” That’s good advice and I stand by it. Don’t ever do it. However, it is acceptable to play drunk, provided you’re willing to pay the price that your probable lack of coordination will entail.
Dark Souls Diaries: Deaths 885-897
After busting out of Library Jail I found myself back in the main Archive, throwing more damnable switches to move stairs around. I was lost in this area for a while because I honestly wasn’t sure where to go. Seath’s decorators did the cruise ship thing with his Archive: you know how on a cruise ship it’s set up so you only notice the opulent stuff? So even the doors that lead to functional areas are cleverly hidden? It’s like that here too. You’ve got to get to whatever an Archive’s equivalent of the back room is, and the door is unobtrusive. But from there it’s just a trip down some stairs to a very utilitarian basement that leads you out to a sort of forested area high up the mountain.
Naturally enough, haunting this forested area are monsters made out of crystal. Honestly, it’s like Final Fantasy pooped on this place.
One notable encounter in the forest is a corpulent young lady named Sieglinde of Catarina. She too has been captured by Seath, and since rescuing people is apparently what I do, I cut her loose.
Sieglinde is Siegmeyer’s daughter. I haven’t mentioned Siegmeyer of Catarina because there’s not much to say. The Knights of Catarina wear a unique type of armor that makes them look patently ridiculous; add to this that both Siegmeyer and his daughter have a bit of a weight problem, so they resemble metal-plated sausages, and it’s hard to take them seriously.
It also doesn’t help that Siegmeyer of Catarina is the most incompetent knight I have ever encountered. He’s very friendly, and he means well, but Lordran is not the right place for him. Literally every time I’ve encountered him he’s been sleeping, having sat down to ponder some obstacle and dozed off. I last saw him in Blighttown, into which he’d wandered without any poison antidotes; after I sorted that out he announced he was off to somewhere and I haven’t seen him since. Sieglinde’s trying to find him, but my intel on his location was pretty out of date. Freed from Seath the Scaleless, she determined to leave the Archive and return to Firelink Shrine in hopes that her Dad, or someone who knows where he is, might be there. She seemed very sweet – both she and her father are among the nicest people I’ve met in Lordran – but I don’t have high hopes for their long-term survival.
Anyway, the forest isn’t large and I soon found myself at the crystal-lined mouth of a cave called – wait for it – the Crystal Cave.
The Crystal Cave sucks.
First, I’ve had enough crystal. Second, the floor is invisible half the time. Third, even though it’s not a very large region, for some reason I had enormous difficulty finding my way around. As you might imagine given his crystal lust, this cave is the second lair of Seath the Scaleless.
Despite fighting him twice, I can’t really describe the experience of Seath the Scaleless beyond stating that both encounters are extraordinarily chaotic, perhaps moreso than any other boss fight. He’s roaring and flapping and banging his tail and there’s crystal flying all over the place and you’re just trying to stay out of the way of his crystally breath and all the crystals that keep shooting out of the ground. So I’m sorry to end without any oomph, but all I can say is that with the help of a summoned player who did most of the heavy lifting, I brought down Seath the Scaleless and collected my first Lord’s Soul.
And you know what? I’m not gonna return any of the books I borrowed from his Archive, either. Take that, Seath the Scaleless.
You’re breakin’ my heart, dragon. Deaths 898-1,043 >>
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Great stuff! I laughed many times over.
I feel bad for Hellkite now. Which is odd because I hate the bastard.
I never noticed or found Sieglinde in that area in my game. Maybe I didn’t do something earlier to trigger her appearance. In fact after 3 sessions she has never appeared.
The NPC stories are so nuanced that if you miss out on one event you may alter it for good. Gotta love From Software for that. There really is a TON of story and history in this game, but damn if you don’t have to really look for it. Which again, you gotta love From Software for. They do things their way and to Hell with how everyone else does it.
One of the things you gather very quickly if you spend time on the Wiki is how immense the game is. There are huge, huge swathes of stuff I’m not even covering in the Diaries, either because I didn’t get involved with them or it’s just too much. Not places – I wound up visiting every region – but other things. Covenants. Darksun worlds. The other children of Gwyn. Indictments. Not to mention the vast collection of items and upgrade paths that I never even knew existed. Demon’s Souls had all that to some degree, in Dark it’s upped by a large factor.
I believe Sieglinde only triggers if you encountered her father in Blighttown. Then she’s in the forest, trapped inside a golem made of crystal – gold instead of the usual blue ones. If you defeat it she pops out. I’m sad to say I didn’t successfully complete the Siegmeyer questline, but that’s a story for a much later diary.
I did discover a gold golem in a small area just past where you fight the first Hydra. Was that her? I did defeat the golem, freed her, but I never went back to her for anything. Kinda forgot about her in fact. Goes to show how much stuff there is to do in this game.
I keep hearing that From Software is going to be releasing DLC for this game and I cannot wait for a proper announcement! Seeing the way they do things I am curious what that content could be. Not to mention that I want more Dark Souls! My Great Demon Machete is running out of bad thingys to kill!
DLC and a PC port are the two hopes for the big upcoming Dark Souls announcement. My money’s on the latter. There’s also talk that it may be a King’s Field announcement, which would be the equivalent of announcing a third Souls game. I am in favor of all of these things.
From Software just released Armored Core V in the West and is working on the new Steel Battalion, which looks like it’s going to be pretty innovative in how it uses Kinect. We should be hearing more in the next few weeks.
I’ve skipped reading this entry and just jumped down to the comments section — don’t wanna expose myself to any spoilers since I’m still on a long, Skyrim-among-other-things-induced hiatus from Dark Souls — but I wanted to pop in and first, thank you for these continued posts, and second, ask about the status of that academic-style feature on Dark Souls that you mentioned a while back? Any plans to post that now that you’ve finished the game?
Hey GregP! Haven’t seen you around here in a while. 🙂
I’m still working on something on and off, a fairly large-scale discussion of the philosophical underpinnings of the Souls games. There’s a lot of Kierkegaard, Kant, and Nietzsche to validate the tropes in this game, and a lot of Joseph Campbell that it refutes. I would like to make those points.
It’s mostly loose notes and a whole bunch of unconnected paragraphs at this time. Will I complete it? Depends. A lot of what I’ve been intending to put in a more academic article has wound up in the Diaries, just in a very different style. The truth is I assume the Diaries are more fun to read than a dense, footnoted, scholarly dissertation along the lines of Alone for All Seasons, but I would like to create such a piece, time permitting. It means a lot that at least one person is interested enough to follow up on it!
Add another to the interested list! 🙂
Same! I love reading about all your travels, no matter how wordy and pretentious. I’ll be getting back to Demon’s Souls soon after a bit of a break in the month of March.
Forgive me Steerpike, but I haven’t read any of your Dark Souls diaries because… well, for obvious reasons. When I’ve completed it myself in 2017 I’ll be sure to swing by and see how things panned out for you.
Nothing to forgive, Gregg, I haven’t held back on any spoilers in the Diaries, so people who want to experience everything themselves should stay away. At first I felt guilty about it, but in the end I decided that the experience of Dark Souls is the same whether you know what’s going to happen or not – it’s the journey not the destination. Though I referred to the Dark Souls wiki pretty regularly, I made an effort to avoid reading about things I wanted to see revealed by myself, as a pure experience. I knew a pair of bosses in the region I was visiting were named Ornstein & Smough, for example, but elected not to follow up. The reveal is almost always worth coming in ignorant.
Thanks Matt for taking the time (a lot of time I’m sure) to type up your diary of this game. What an amazing experience to actually complete this game! Big congrats for that accomplishment, maybe one day I’ll play it (and die a million deaths). I haven’t even tried playing the first one yet though. Not sure I ever will either. 😉
I am still mad at you for killing the Lady in the painting.
Now you used a fire-keepers soul to “buff” your flask?
staring into the abyss indeed.
What can I say, the journey has changed me. I am now Dark Steerpike.
Gone is the jolly, happy-go-lucky fellow you used to hang out with. In his place is a husk of a man, twisted and evil, the kind of man who goes back into a painting to kill a little girl. The kind of man who’s so dumb that he went to great lengths (and wrote thousands of words) about how he was going to avenge the murder of another lady, then used her soul to buff his Estus Flask. I have stared into the Abyss*. Wait until you hear the end of my Siegmeyer of Catarina story.
*I will also visit the Abyss in a future Diary, so in a way it’s a good thing I’ve stared into it since I sort of know my way around.
Good job on beating the game and writing these diaries. I enjoy reading your hilarious and well detailed adventures in the world of Lordran. I’ve read all your entries and keep me entertained all the way through. If you plan on playing a second time through, then good luck. Everything just makes you want cry. Keep up the humor.
Thank you very much, Deathtothe_etc, and welcome to Tap. Keep on enjoying!
When will the next entry be?
I read these entries of yours aloud for my brother while he’s playing the game~!
Hi Konani, welcome! And thanks!
I’m a-workin’ on the next entry right now, and might have it online as early as tomorrow. If it’s late, don’t blame me, blame Bioware. Mass Effect 3 has drawn a certain amount of attention. : )
Sweet, i’m pretty bad at games myself (sadly, since i’ve been playing since i was thirteen…) so i’m still tailing around the fortress while level 56~
I’m also in the “not gonna read these until I finish Dark Souls” camp. But it’s difficult, because it’s a fun ride (I admit to peaking at a few early ones).
I’m pretty sure I’ll be diving into the game before too long, since I enjoyed Demon’s Souls so much (resists urge to gush). The shared playthrough thread for it was (is) a hoot.
I started reading these because I assumed I’d never play Dark Souls, being a PC brother. But then there were all these rumours that Dark Souls might end up on PC and I was like, well, fuck you Steerpike. Now it’s totally ruined and you’ve made my children cry. (The link may not be obvious to you, but it’s super obvious to me.)
That point was some weeks ago.
I carried on reading. Because of the bad things you do to me Steerpike. Like provoking laughter.
I thought surely, at some point, just getting killed again and again would get old. Perhaps you’ve nailed exactly why getting killed again and again doesn’t get old in the game itself.
It’s one giant cosmic joke – played on the Hellkite Dragon.
Botch, let me know when you intend on starting Dark Souls, it’d be fun to play through it with you and anyone else interested.
I’m sorry I made your children cry, Harbour Master. As a rule I avoid making children cry… but this is a story that must be told! The world must know of my humiliation and shame!
It’s very flattering that people seem to be enjoying them so much. This project is going to be over 30,000 words by the time it’s done; longer even than most things Tim Rogers writes. Thanks to everyone for sticking with me, and for those who haven’t thanks for not making fun of me.
Very excited for you guys to get into Dark Souls. I’ll be like Yoda, my wisdoms guiding you through the swampy terrain of Lordran. As much as I was predisposed to gush about Demon’s Souls, that was before I played the sequel. Not that there’s anything wrong with Demon’s Souls, oh no, it’s simply that Dark Souls is such an immense step beyond even that.
Gregg, agreed. I feel the day is imminent. That Amazon price hasn’t changed in quite some time. Do you have a copy already? I rarely buy games at release time, so I’m usually late to the party.
“longer even than most things Tim Rogers writes”
Now that’s saying something. And with less parenthesis.
Sure do! 😉 I’m in no rush by the way, I never am, just lemmie know when you’ve got it and are ready to go and I’ll put a few days aside to psyche myself up in the mirror before starting.
Ah yes, I remember that post now. Nicely played.