Wednesday January 1, 2020
Traversing the Dark
“The legends speak of a terrible Dark that was sealed away…”
Key to New Londo Ruins
Since we did the optional area in the Painted World last time, I want to make some real story progress today. I want to do the Four Kings first, for a specific reason that will be revealed once we (hopefully) beat them. I’m nervous about this fight for 2 main reasons: the first being that the Four Kings probably have very high Magic defense, so my damage output might be quite low. With my small health pool, I’m not sure how long I can last in the fight – especially given the DPS-race structure. The second reason is that the Four Kings reside in the depths of New Londo, aka, one of my least favourite areas in the game. For an area that has such an incredible story behind it, it sure is a pain in the ass.
Before we hit New Londo, I head back to Firelink Shrine to check on our compatriots – Big Hat Logan informs us that he plans to leave again. Hopefully he won’t get himself into trouble…
Next, I head back to the Undead Parish, and into Darkroot Garden. We know that the Four Kings reside in the Abyss, which no man can traverse. The only person (or legend) that we know of, where a man was able to conquer the Abyss, was Artorias. Nicknamed the Abysswalker, his grave is protected by the Forest Hunter covenant in Darkroot. Not for the first time (sorry, Shiva) we’ll have to betray that covenant and find Artorias’ grave. Its the only lead we have at the moment.
According to the crest, many seek his grave, yet none return. I’m sure we’ll find out why. Deep in the forest, past the covenant members, and Alvina, we find a bridge across the ravine; at the end, an imposing set of doors that certainly lead somewhere promising. Judging by the massive tombstone, and myriad of scattered weapons (guess we’ve discovered what become of all those adventurers) we’ve found the resting place of Sir Artorias.
…And now we know why none leave this place alive – a gigantic wolf appears, grabs Artorias’ greatsword (???) and turns to face us in battle. Square up, Abracadaniel!
This is Sif, Artorias’ faithful wolf companion. Even after his death, Sif stands by to guard its friends grave – possibly out of respect, but more likely, to stop anyone pillaging the treasure that lies here. It’s a ring that will allow its wearer to traverse the Abyss. But Sif has seen what the Abyss can do to a person, and it won’t allow that to happen again; it won’t allow anyone to take this ring to their doom.
I genuinely hate this fight, and I wish it was optional, but not for the usual reasons – I think Sif is a phenomenal character (who doesn’t love a dog?) and I hate killing it. Towards the end, as its health gets lower, it starts to limp, and its attacks become much clumsier. It’s heartbreaking, but we do need the ring that I mentioned – the Covenant of Artorias. You can also pick up the Hornet Ring, behind the gravestone. We pay our respects to Sif and Artorias, then head back to Firelink.
I’ve kind of forgotten about a certain NPC that has moved up here – he’s located rather inconveniently under the aqueduct that leads up into the Undead Burg. We have to make a dicey jump to reach him. But here he is again, Domhnall, up from the Depths. He’s selling us boss armor (I can buy the Iron Golem’s set, and Ornstein’s) and some more good(ish) advice. He tells us that to engage with the ghosts of New Londo we’ll either need to be a) cursed or b) have a special weapon.
There are two ways we can approach this curse (the weapon option is off the table). We can either literally get cursed by the Basilisks (say, in the Depths) – this cuts our HP in half, but allows us to damage the ghosts normally. If we had a large health pool, this would be a viable option, but we don’t. Instead, we’ll be using a special item to help us, called a Transient Curse. This temporarily gives us a ‘curse’ status, with none of the side effects. However, it is on a timer, so we’ll need to keep an eye on that. With that, we speak to Griggs one final time – Logan has left, as he told us – then head down to New Londo.
Unfortunately, we find an old pal of ours down here, looking much worse for wear (i.e. Hollow). Crestfallen vanished from Firelink a while ago – turns out, he was here the whole time…
We’re forced to kill him (RIP buddy) before collecting some Transient Curses from a corpse in a pot, next to the foot of these stairs.
From here, it’s straight across some rickety plank bridges, and into the ruins. We’ll pop a Transient Curse before we cross the second bridge – you can see the effect shimmering around Abracadaniel. The ghosts that haunt this cursed city will begin to attack us as soon as we cross, so we’ll do it here (the animation takes a couple seconds, so you don’t want to do it right in front of an enemy).
New Londo has a fascinating story behind it – it was once a bustling Undead city. It was ruled by the Four Kings, supported by their knights. When the Four Kings ‘fell’ or were corrupted by the Abyss, their knights became the Darkwraiths; they were lead by an ancient being, but we’re not familiar with him just yet. The Darkwraiths were capable of utilizing the feared art of Lifedrain – stealing and absorbing humanity. In order to deal with this unprecedented threat, the Sealers (we’ve been wearing a Sealer set – the crimson robes – off and on throughout this game) made the decision to sacrifice the city – and all who inhabited it. New Londo was flooded, and the Darkwraiths were contained at a massive cost. These cursed souls now wander the ruins as ghosts, and the Darkwraiths lie in wait…
The ghosts are fairly weak, and easy to deal with one on one – as long as we don’t get surrounded, we should be fine. Their grab attack is particularly deadly. We get through a couple buildings safely, and reach a ladder we can kick down to create a shortcut. From here, we have to get through the most dangerous area. A nearby tower has literally dozens of ghosts inside – I run in, then dash out. From out on this bridge, I can pick them off with my Soul Arrows. I also have to make a quick reapplication of my Transient Curse.
Once I can get back inside without being mobbed, I can ascend a ladder hidden in a fireplace/chimney space, up to the roof. A new NPC is waiting for us here – it’s Ingward, one of the New Londo Sealers.
He knows what we’re here for, and he gives us the Key to the Seal – with this item, we can open the flood gates, and drain the lower parts of the city. From there, we’ll be able to access the Four Kings – if the Darkwraiths don’t get us first. There’s a nearby tower with an elevator lift we can now access with our key. This will get us to the lever to open the gates.
With the water drained, we can take the lift down and see what we’re dealing with.
There are hundreds – thousands – of bodies here. Scattered about the floor, and piled in heaps. This is what became of the residents, but what of the former knights? Well, one attacks us right off the bat, so looks like they’re still alive.
This area is quite dark, and the Darkwraiths are scattered throughout, so we need to more forward carefully. They’re strong enemies, and we don’t want to aggro a bunch at the same time. Through the wooden building ahead, we can enter a new area, filled with Darkwraiths and an enemy called a Mass of Souls. We want to lure one Darkwraith and then deal with the Mass before we push forward. There are two or three more in the area; once we deal with them, we can find the most important item in this area: the Very Large Ember. If you’re making a normal weapon, you’ll need to give Andre this ember to ascend it to +15. Since there is no bonfire in New Londo, I use a Homeward Bone at this point to return to Firelink. There’s an easier way to get where I need to be from the beginning of the area.
From the beginning of New Londo, we can drop down into a sort of square, and then continue through a building that leads to a tower gated by a fog wall. Through the fog, and down a long spiral of steps, is the Abyss – an endless darkness. If you were to try and drop down into the Abyss without the ring we collected earlier, you would die immediately. So we put the ring on, and drop down. and down, and down.
We face the Four Kings. This fight is a race against the clock – one king spawns at a time. If you don’t deal with him quickly enough, one more will spawn, and so on. You can have more than four kings in the arena at a time. We really want to make sure we’re fast enough to be dealing with them one at a time. Abracadaniel’s dodges need to be on point. Their magic AOE and grab attacks are the main concern. My first run, I get slapped about 60 seconds into the fight and die immediately so that doesn’t count…
My second run (on trend with the rest of this playthrough) goes much better. I beat the Four Kings, and only the last one gives me any trouble (just as I had killed him, a second king was approaching). Forgive my lack of pants in the screenshots – I had to ditch some armor to maintain my fast roll.
Now, because we haven’t placed the Lordvessel yet, or spoken to Kingseeker Frampt (the primordial serpent in Firelink Shrine) we meet a rare NPC, down in the Abyss.
This is the second primordial serpent, Darkstalker Kaathe. While Frampt would tell us that it was our destiny to prolong the Age of Fire, by succeeding Lord Gwyn and linking the first flame once more, Kaathe tells a different tale. Kaathe is also the being that granted Lifedrain to the Darkwraiths, and facilitated the Four Kings’ fall to the dark.
He tells us that we are the Dark Lord, born to end the Age of Fire, and usher in the Age of Dark – the age of mankind. It is our duty to kill Lord Gwyn and let the fire die. Both Frampt and Kaathe have their own agendas, and it’s up to us at this point to choose which path we walk. For now, we go with Kaathe, to place the Lordvessel at his request.
Kaathe tells us that we need the souls of Seath the Scaleless, Gravelord Nito, and the Witch of Izalith to satiate the Lordvessel and open our path to Gwyn. We can also join Kaathe’s covenant (PVP based) at this point – and become a Darkwraith, with the art of Lifedrain. That’s cool and all, but I really just want the Darkwraith armor because it’s rad as hell.
I make a quick run through the Depths to grind some Humanity from the rats there, then return to Kaathe and pay my 30 Humanity, to level up in the covenant and get my armor.
Nice. So that’s one soul down, three more to go. Next time, we’ll be heading back to Anor Londo, and up to the Duke’s Archives, where the infamous dragon traitor, Seath the Scaleless, resides. In the sealed archives, he’s been free to pursue his research and twisted experiments. Who knows what we’ll find there…