Soon I was back to the firelink bonfire, pondering my options. I had two good weapons, the very enhanced zweihander and the drake sword. Along with the dragon crest shield, I should be able to kill most regular enemies, and should fear only demons. I still felt I needed another trump, and I could find it just about anywhere. I finally decided to explore a bit more. The stinking cave with those huge hollows just screamed of “leave it for later”, but the door I managed to open with the key from the Capra Demon could be doable. Who knows, maybe there was no one there. It was too promising to just leave it pass.
So I went back through the sewer shortcut and crossed the door. The stink was awful, just awful, and it clearly would just take me down and down through the sewers, so I naturally did not plan to stay long. From an elevation I could see the whole picture. There was a group of slaves, some with blazing weapons, and a little bit ahead there was a huge hollow cutting chunks of human meat and throwing the useless parts down a shaft. By exploring a little bit the scene, I also found another butcher waiting on an elevation, prepared for a trap. Quick mental note.
I started by carefully killing the slaves with the winged spear I had found in the cemetery, from behind my fire-protective shield. That was easy enough, I just had to backstep constantly to keep them from ganging up on me. Then I jumped down a level and shot an arrow at the butcher to make him come down. He was dangerous, but slow, and I butchered him back while keeping my distance with the zweihander. It was then that I found the first of my trumps. The cannibal hollows had trapped a pyromancer in a barrel for dinner. I freed him, but he was very tired and just collapsed on the floor. I didn’t really need any help then, so I left him rest a while. I was very interested in how he could help me, since the pyromancer’s attack against the capra demon before had been very impressive.
I left him there and continued clearing the area. The second butcher was protected by two dogs, but I called the dogs’ attention first with a few arrows and it worked out fine. He was tougher than the other one, but slow as well and his technique was awful. I threw him down the shaft in the pile of wasted body parts just to get a sense of justice, then opened a chest nearby, and there I found my second trump: a blacksmith ember, a bit larger than the one I saw Andre use. I picked it up and went back to the pyromancer. I gave him a sip of my estus and slaped him in the face to wake him up, then helped him back to the bonfire. The female merchant in the sewer was kind enough to provide some medicinal moss, and that made him feel much better. Then I threw him by the bonfire and took a nap there as well.
When I woke up, the pyromancer was still recovering by the bonfire, so I made a quick trip back to Andre with the ember. He was clearly impressed, but said he couldn’t help me for now. According to him, he had done as much as he could on the zweihander with the titanite shards and would now need bigger pieces to reinforce it further. He had no idea where I could find some either. I was disappointed, but he promissed to pay back in the future by reinforcing my armor. When I asked him why not now, he said my armor wasn’t worth working on and was falling to pieces anyway. Fair enough. Siegmeyer was sleeping in the bonfire nearby and I managed not to wake him up, which wasn’t hard.
I went back to the bonfire and the pyromancer, who was called Laurentius, had woken up. I took a few hours to chat with him and learn about his art. He was so grateful for saving him that he gave me a crash course in pyromancy. He told me the father of the art was Salaman, who learned it from one of the Daughter of Chaos, an order of mythical master pyromancers who had control over what he called the “chaos flame”, a powerful flame fueled by melting metals, capable of burning down even the everlasting dragons. I was amazed by his demonstrations, throwing fireballs around and making huge flames appear from his hand – which I immediately recognized as the trick used by the phantom pyromancer against the capra demon. Soon I nurtured a fantasy of burning the sorcerer who nearly killed me in the church alive, and Laurentius was happy to help me, in retribution for saving him earlier.
Pyromancy wasn’t easy to lear, however. It took me hours to be able to gather a bit of Laurentius’ flame in my hand for a couple of minutes. By the time I was capable of conjuring a small flame out of my open hand, I was already exhausted and had to call it a day. He said I was a fast learner, but I knew the truth, that the powers granted by the bonfire were beyond my comprehension, and allowed me to learn in a day what it took years for Laurentius to learn, since he was a child. As soon as I woke up, my abilities with the flame had clearly improved, but I still couldn’t perform any of his tricks. The whole thing took too much concentration, and Laurentius couldn’t help me with that. For him, commanding flames with his mind was as natural as walking, and throwing fire around was like throwing a stone. He didn’t have much method or really a deep understanding of the state of mind that enabled him to do what he did. That was the sort of finesse, he mentioned, that I could find in a sorcerer. That went in like a chunk of rotten meat: I had to go and ask the help of the sorcerer I had recued as well.
I swallowed my pride and went there to have a chat. I learned his name was Briggs and that he was concerned with the fate of his master, a sorcerer called Logan. I had to struggle not to call the guy “Logan” just to piss Briggs off, as he would mention his name always with such respect, “Master Logan” this and “Master Logan” that. That was the sort of thing that annoyed me so much about magicians. Why not just call him by his name? I don’t go around talking about “Master Siegmeyer”, he was just Siegmeyer, a nice guy who helped me with my fighting technique, he wasn’t my master, he was a friend. But I digress.
It took me all my intelligence and then some to comprehend what Briggs said, as it was so hermetic in a, obnoxious and pedantic way. Half of what he said was completely theoretic, things that him himself had never practiced, nor could explain by drawing comparisons to anything real. If I asked him about the “duality of the human soul”, he would speak about the natural equilibrium of the universe between the moon and the sun, the animals and the plants. When I asked him what was the source of his power, he said it was the “godly ether”, meaning something that we could not see and that, as opposed to what the name implied, “had absolutely nothing to do with the gods”. And finally, when I asked him how he aimed his attacks, he said he had to “build a bridge in the ether between his spiritual body and that of the enemy, and through that bridge passes a signal that is nothing but an idea, as described in its concept by a phrase spoken in the natural language of the ether, the words being primal feelings and sensations that are present in each living being’s conscience”. To this I replied: “So you point your stick at the guy like a crossbow? How do you aim? That thing has no aim!”. So yeah, he soon lost his patience. Perhaps I had it coming, but the fact is that I got mad myself, and said: “Look Briggs, I don’t want to become a sorcerer, I don’t care about any of the things you said, what I want you to teach me is how to condition my mind so that I can concentrate properly and, while at it, how do I do that in the middle of a fight, without closing my eyes for five minutes and asking the hollows to keep quiet while I do it”. He said it took years of experience, but recommended I ask Petrus for help, since, according to him, the art of summoning miracles probably demanded the same sort of concentration, but much dumber people were able to do it, and therefore it might be more suitable to my “simple mind”. I figured he was probably right, so I went looking for Petrus.
Petrus simply refused to help me at all. I had never saved his life, so I couldn’t do much to convince him either. At this point I was tired and confused, so I went back by the bonfire and shot sparkles with the tip of my fingers until I fell asleep.