First I heard the laugh, then the clapping, both clearly bathed in irony. I couldn’t be angry for long, though. This man was deeply sad and pessimistic, in my head I started calling him a “crestfallen warrior” and, even though he seemed fully human, something I had not seen for a long time, I knew he was giving up already and would soon become hollow. I couldn’t help but think of his state as inevitable, if the many great warriors and wise men of Lordran had been unable to undo the curse, either by religious rituals, magic, medicine or by destroying the force that caused it, then but a man, I was sure, could not but scratch the surface of the crisis. But I had to try, and so I had to find a way to get information from this man.
“I’ve seen many fools in this land, but you really know how to make an entrance, I was pleased. Of course, the entrance isn’t really as important as the exit, and your exit I know very well”.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, you came here to ring the bells and everything, didn’t you?”
I suddenly realized my savior knight wasn’t the first to try this.
“Well, I’ll tell you how this will end. You will go up those ladders to my left, I won’t see you for a few days, but surely enough, you will come back, either by the elevator in the shrine, or back through the stairs, wandering mindless and completely hollow”.
“And then I will kill you, and that will be it”.
“Well sir, if it really comes down to that, please do”.
So I figured the ladders to the right weren’t a good idea. I took a good look and could see hollow warriors all over it.
“Maybe you have some better recommendation?”
“Not really. Go anywhere else and you will certainly die, specially with those weapons”
“What’s the problem with my weapons?”
“The hollows do not feel pain. I am sure you are accustomed to hitting some peasant in the face and having him cry for mercy on his knees. The hollows won’t do that. You will cut their left arm and they will attack you with their right arm with no moment’s notice. You will thrust your sword in their heart, but their heart is as dead as their soul, and they will cut your throat with their teeth”.
“I have killed hollows”
“Have you killed five of them? Some with axes, some throwing firebombs at your face? You haven’t killed hollows, you aren’t but a novice in this world, and there will be no tutors, no tutorials, you will attack and die and that is it. And if you survive, worse will come”.
“Worse than hollows, you say?”
“Demons who came straight from the ruins of their forgotten city below, hollowed knights of Lord Gwyn, you haven’t seen the first of it”.
I pondered for a moment. In my present state I surely couldn’t. How could my cheap blade penetrate the armor of Gwyn’s knights? And demons, I had no training to fight demons, I trained to fight men and hollows were already terrifying enough. The tricks my father taught me would be useless against anything but living, breathing men. How could I knock a demon from its feet, or twist a demons’ arm to take his weapon? How hard would I need to bash my shield to take off his balance? For the first time I realized the task at hand was more than I could take.
“So you say I should just sit here by your side and wait for the curse to claim every last human, including me and you?”
“No matter what you do, that will be the outcome. This is all I have to say”.
It was enough for now. I tried to make a deal with the warrior for him to watch over me while I slept by the magnificent bonfire in front of the Shrine. He laughed and said I was safe by the bonfire, the hollows feared the bonfires more than anything else. And so I slept on the ground like a peasant.
When I woke up, the sun was sitting still where it was before. I asked the warrior about it. He shrugged it off: “Who cares?”. I guess I should let it be as well.
So I asked him more.
“How can this bonfire be so strong and bright?”
“Because of the mute firekeeper below it, go around those stair and you will see”.
And so I did. She wouldn’t answer.
“Who is she?”
And again, “Who cares?”, and “You make too many questions”.
I walked around for a while and saw the cemetery. I decided to walk around and see what I could find.
“I wouldn’t go too far in that direction if I were you”.
“You see those bones?”.
“They will take life and slit your throat. See, each pile of scattered bones has shields and swords near it, those are their weapons”.
I tried my best not to show how shocked I was. He continued:
“And it’s a shame as well, a fool went down that way a few weeks ago, he had a zweihander, I bet it is still there. With that sword you might be able to do some damage against the hollows. Look, there it is!”.
It looked heavy and powerful, I had to take it. So I asked:
“Can the skeletons come near the bonfire?”
I noticed that was his reply every time he didn’t know the answer to a question. But I needed that sword, so I planned the best I could. I couldn’t imagine what kind of damage could my sword make to a skeleton, so I decided not to even try to hit them. I took off most of my armor, keeping only the chest-piece, and even my sword stayed by the bonfire. Thus, half uncovered and two-handing my shield, I charged into the cemetery as fast as I could. When the bones started moving I was sure I would die, but they didn’t stand as fast as I feared. As soon as I approached the zweihander, however, I saw the dead body of its former owner. It was cut in half. I looked back and figured the human skeletons now preparing to chase me couldn’t have done that. Then I looked down and saw giant bones. When they started moving, I stopped thinking, stopped breathing, I just took the zweihander and ran, faster than I had ever before. Bashed a skeleton with my shield so hard, half of his bones probably fell off the cliff, then kept running. Never looked back to see the giant skeleton, but I knew it was there.
When I reached the bonfire, the warrior was on his back, laughing so much that his guts were clearly in pain and he couldn’t breathe. I thought I had earned his respect by then, but he didn’t care. He said only:
“I’ll be sad to cut you off when you come back hollow…”.
“Well thank you for that I guess…”,
“… because you are so funny, I could use the entertainment!”
But I didn’t care, I had the zweihander. That is, if only I had the strength to hold it properly. More laughter was had on my expense.