#15 – The Heavy Knight

Thus armed with my zweihander and full armor, the drake sword (as Andre called it) and my shield on my back, I came to the side of the church, where an entrance led to the main altar. I took a moment to observe and saw stairs leading up, certainly to the bell, some sort of elevator that could lead me down, certainly back to the firelink shrine, which would be very convenient, and a huge knight with heavy armor and enormous sword and shield. I tried to devise an strategy but couldn’t figure anything up, I simply had to fight that monster and defeat him somehow. The zweihander was clearly the weapon of choice, for at least I could keep some distance, but she shield would be a huge problem. His size, I supposed, indicated he was probably slow, therefore the best strategy would be to dodge his attacks, then attack while his guard was lowered. Easier said than done, but I was confident I could do it, I was well trained and rested.

As I entered the church, the knight saw me and attacked. His first blow took off a chunk of the wall, but didn’t get near me, he was either trying to show his strength and make me nervous or wasn’t a particularly talented warrior. I kept backpedalling, starting a circle motion, vaguely on the direction of the elevator. If things got ugly, I thought, I could jump inside the booth and pray for the old elevator to work. His second strike was close enough that I dodged it instinctively, but also would not have hit me. He was strong, but clumsy, I figured. Right at this moment a magic ray struck me and I finally got desperate. My whole body was was in pain, my eyes felt like burning and I felt weak and disoriented. The worst part was that I couldn’t even look around and see where the spell came from, because I had to dodge another strike from the knight right at that moment, and this third one would have cut me in half had it connected. I had been reckless and stupid.

But his devastating blow had also let him open, so I, holding the zweihander with my two hands, one on the extended metal hilt, perfect stance as Siegmeyer had taught me, just a bit of despair, swung in his general direction and cut off his right hand. The heavy sound of the sword hitting the ground made me realize just how lucky I was to have dodged before. The knight didn’t flinch, but bashed me right in the face with his shield. I blacked out for a couple of seconds and only woke up from the pain of my back hitting the wall. The giant took the moment to throw away the shield and get the sword from the ground. As he faced me again, I already stood, my skin burning from the spell, my backbone feeling like a big chunk of pain, my whole torso locked in more pain, and my face bleeding, the taste of blood in my mouth. I was angry and ready to die, ready to risk everything on a single bold and risky move. I grabbed my shield but didn’t raise my guard. As the giant attacked, I parried.

Parrying is an interesting art, rewarding the greatest danger with the greatest reward. It is easy enough to hide behind the shield, with your arm clutched to your body and your muscles tight shut, but to parry you have to hold your shield like a sword, with your arms extended and your muscles loose enough to move fluently, you lose the security and depend greatly on guessing where the strike will come from, since your movement will deflect it away. If you guess wrong, you will parry into the air and die. The beauty of the moment when you land a successful parry is that your enemy’s guard is wide open. If your enemy has a shield, he will instinctively try to protect his body, so you have only a split second to attack, but a shieldless enemy will be completely defenseless. It is possible to parry even the strongest attacks, since you use the strongest part of the weapon, near the hilt, against the weakest part of the enemy’s weapon, the very point. Even axes can be parried, since their momentum easily slides off and the attacker loses even more balance than a swordman. I wouldn’t normally have the confidence to try this, but Siegmeyer had taught me well.

Guessing the giant knight’s strike wasn’t particularly hard, he was slow, shieldless, was using his weak hand and moved in a very straight-forward and classic style. I had a full moment to strike and used it well, though normal riposte techniques were useless in this case, cutting off his left leg. As he lay on the floor, I cut off his head and looked around to try and determine where the attacking sorcerer was. All I saw was the blue bolt of light  coming in my direction and hitting me in chest, throwing me on the floor in intense, unbearable pain. I looked up and saw him on a ledge, wearing strange clothes. I made a note to myself that I could cut through those fabric clothes, then ran with my last strenght to the elevator booth’s floor and it started moving down.

While it was moving down I closed my eyes and held my guts with both my arms, trying to alleviate the pain with the pressure. My eyes were tearing up, burning like fire. As I reached the lower level, I couldn’t walk, but recognized it as the firelink shrine area. I screamed for help and stayed conscious barely long enough to see Petrus and the crestallen warrior approach me. I fainted, as my vision faded, it wen completely dark, and in my dreams I could only hear somber music coming from the pitch-black as if telling me of my failed state, and in that confusion I did truly believe I was dead.

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