#11 – Approaching the Undead Church (part 1)

I woke up by the bonfire feeling like another man. I could swing the zweihander easily, but still wouldn’t dare hold it one-handed with a shield, which would be very useful to use it as my primary weapon with a shield. I then tried my old short sword and noticed it felt better and easier than even before the undead curse hit me. This was specially interesting. Once having regained my humanity, I thought the blessings of the bonfire would reach a maximum, bringing me back to my past abilities, but it was actually bringing me to new grounds, and I had now just started to feel like a super-human in comparison to my pre-curse state. I was amazed by this realization, but also felt a strange fear for the future, not completely understanding how would my adventures leave me in the end. I couldn’t imagine what powers the bonfire could grant me, but I did figure I could possibly become so powerful as to feel like a demigod from the old legends.

After careful consideration, I decided to keep to my short sword. Of course the zweihander was powerful, but the security of the shield was priceless and, as far as fighting hollowed warriors went, the shield + sword combo was probably the wisest. So I kept the zweihander for largest fights against ungodly beasts.

I was now ready to venture forth. I went up the stairs I had slid down before and was greeted by a name marked in glowing golden light on the floor. It did not say Solaire, but I felt brave enough to touch it and see the real meaning of Solaire’s words. Nothing happened for a while, so I took the time to reconsider my plan. Sticking my head above the stairs leading to the bridge, I could see the dragon was still perched in the small shrine forward. I could now see there was another bonfire there as well. Coming back down, I noticed a spear-wielding hollow guarding the way below the bridge. It was clearly wiser to go that way.

When I came back, there was a golden ghost with clearly superior armor and weapons than mine. His armor was that of a noble knight from Astoria’s elite, very similar to the knight’s who helped me escape my cell in the asylum. His sword was a beautiful claymore, much heavier and more poweful than my longsword, and his shield had a dragon sketch in front of it. He promptly pointed to the underway, but went up to face the dragon. I was stunned, but followed his directions.

Along the underway I fought a hiding hollowed warrior, the spear-wielding hollow and a few giant rats, carefully avoiding their bites, though even the fumes of their poisonous breath on my shield made me few a little bit ill. Above and behind me, I felt the bridge shaking with the noble knight’s struggle against the dragon. To my mind, he was insane, but i trusted his bravery and valor. I then went up some stairs, where I found another hollow warrior and fought him. Then I faced back and could see the bonfire through a gate. At this point, the dragon screamed terribly and I saw the knight run towards the garden that lay beside the shrine. The shrine was suddenly taken ablaze by the hellkite’s breath. Then I heard him fly away.

The knight came back from the garden and opened the gate for me. I had now access to the bonfire. I didn’t know how I could possibly thank him, but he didn’t seem to care. He walked on the direction of the bridge and left me further baffled to see him drag towards my direction the severed tip of the dragon’s tail. I felt like a child, struggling to kill mere hollows while he successfully faced a giant dragon. Then my attention was drawn to a view from heaven: a beautiful claymore sitting in the bridge’s ground by a charred body. I immediately threw my longsword down the bridge and adopted the claymore, which felt powerful in my right hand.

A few seconds feeling the sword were all I had, however, because I then witnessed a red phantom rise in the bridge’s middle area. He double-wielded a massive battle axe, with no care for a shield or even armor. He charged in my direction instantly and made me feel like a child once more in such a short time, hiding behind my shield like a little girl beneath her bed. I ran back to the shrine, where the golden phantom stood in fighting stance. I felt braver from seeing him, and fighting by his side was for me a great honor.

I count recall with the detail how the struggle played out, such was for me the hush and confusion of the moment. Years has passed since I had been in a war and fighting the hollows was a completely different ordeal. I can say, however, that I but played second fiddle to the golden warrior. He caught the red phantom’s first, powerful blow with his shield, but before he could hit twice I had slashed the red phantom and proved to myself that he could bleed, perhaps die by my sword. His second blow went against my shield and threw me to the wall. I would have certainly died if the golden warrior had not charged back. They kept fighting while I reached around for the claymore I had dropped in my helpless moments. As I looked up, the golden warrior was again taken aback by the power of the axe over his shield. Once again I landed a blow on the axe wielder and once again I raised my shield to prepare for his powerful strike, but it never came. As the red phantom faced me, the golden warrior pierced him from the back with his claymore. The red warrior disappeared before me and I felt a strong transference of souls that reinvigorated my body.

The golden warrior was clearly injured, tired and could barely stand the wright of his weapons and heavy armor. With a gesture he showed me he could not drink from his Estus flask. I offered him mine, but he declined, and with further gestures told me to drink it, and so I did. I could see he was made better by it, which showed me how deep and intimate was the spiritual relationship between me and the phantoms I would summon from then on. Their very life depended on my concentration and care. I would not again make the same mistake of neglecting this. He then pointed to me the bloodstain left by the red phantom and led me to touch it. Once I did, I felt again another hush of energy and felt better prepared to the fights to come.

The golden warrior then showed me a broken statue sitting in the garden beside the shrine, but I could not understand what he meant. We then ventured forth, back in the direction where I had slain the hollow warrior, after leaving the rats’ nest. He signaled that I shouldn’t go up the stairs to a small tower nearby, then proceeded on the way to the big Parish to the front.

The Parish was guarded by many hollow warriors but, most fearfully, by a huge armored boar with big tusks that could easily impale a man. I instinctively knew the Astorian knight would face the boar while I kept busy with the hollows. It did not happen that way, however, thanks to his incredible and cunning strategic thought.


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