Forest of Corpses (Alexander Spider Mystery Book 2)
Right now I can focus on my own task and the simplicity of blades. The Anor Londo firekeeper is waiting for me in the darkness outside. She used to lean nonchalantly against the wall, but now she wants my blood. Not hollowed, just aggressive, in on the illusion. Her boss dies too - Gywndolin, the Dark Sun, who fights by throwing up more illusions, these no harder to break than the first.
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I dip back into Sen's Fortress, a crumbling tower filled with traps and lizards and narrow ledges scored by swinging blades. I take a risky leap across a broken bridge to reach the one survivor here. I don't know his name but I do remember liking him on my ascent, despite the few words we shared. He had a fine selection of wares to sell, but it was his personality I liked the most. Stripped off the corpses of fools like yourself. It isn't easy. I have to catch them just before they go Hollow. Don't worry. I'll be there to claim your trinkets.
Gazing at your final twisted grimace! I still felt new the first time I came up—wary, cowed. I could appreciate his attitude, the sharp sarcasm and dark humour used to deal with the world. With things so bleak, there's little left to do but laugh: we shared a sneer, I felt relieved. Things have changed. Now all I see is the fear beneath his words. He came this far in the world and could go no further, reached the heights of the crumbling fortress and stopped.
He just seems a little sad now, hiding in some half-hidden room. But I admit, I find some regret in killing him. The company was welcome as I ascended, a long time ago. I may not have started this task if I had known I'd have to finish someone I had really liked. The two men I liked the most are already dead: Knight Solaire by my own hand, Sir Siegmeyer by the blade of another. I first met Solaire standing on the castle walls in a little pocket of quiet between demon and dragon. He offered his help freely, a rare and selfless act in this world.
I accepted eagerly, taking him with me against many bosses along the way and finding him not just a reliable friend but a powerful warrior. He was turned away from me, staring out at the rippled grey clouds as the sunlight laid a wide and blinding smear across them.
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Our paths crossed and then separated many times as I faced my challenges and he scoured the lands for a sun of his own. An odd task, one taken up with a cheery resignation that eventually it might all go wrong. I became Undead to pursue this! But when I peer at the Sun up above, it occurs to me… What if I am seen as a laughing stock, as a blind fool without reason?
Well, I suppose they wouldn't be far off!
Hah hah hah! It went wrong near the lava fields of Lost Izliath. I was swinging my sword at a wall—a wall that looked like a door, like it should open. It wouldn't budge and I was sprinting at, running into and attacking this barricade in the vague hope of fooling the geometry for a moment. Somehow, a swing clipped through the stone and it triggered something beyond. There came a lone, familiar voice:. I froze—panicked a little. Still no way through, and my friend in trouble an impossible few feet away. By the time I found the same passage from the other side it was far too late. Solaire came running out to meet me.
I learned early on that nothing friendly moves towards you. He came crowned with something new, not Hollowed, tricked and twisted by something crawling down there in the heat. I hated the two swings it took to finish him. He never found his sun. He died the furthest from it a man could get. I hated the world too.
Sir Siegmeyer was another friendly soul, in a bumbling endearing sort of way. He always looked a little out of place in his barrelled Catarina armour, helmet domed up like a silver onion. His attitude seemed impervious to the world's leeching misery, his warming cheer always boosted my own defences for a while, a bonfire unto himself. The last time I saw him alive was in Lost Izliath. We fought side by side in an easy battle and I left him standing contented, ankle-deep in mud.
I met his daughter Seiglinde too, who had come to this land to fetch him back. I spent a chunk of the game trying to bring them together, but they always seemed to just miss each other, paths not quite crossing right, until the last time. Ash Lake is a strip of white sand that winds through vast, dark, tree-pierced waters.
A stone dragon slumbers passively before a bonfire. The giant skull of some unknown beast sits upon the cinder shore. Seigmeyer's body at his daughter's feet. As I run across the sands again now, it's a great relief to find them empty. She took him home. Onward to Blighttown, the festering swampland pooled at the world's feet. I kill Queelag's mute and mutated sister, strung up in strands of web. I kill her corrupted guardian, consumed by maggots.
The third sister, Quelaana, is somehow free from the curses of spiders and worms. She still stayed close to her siblings, sitting cross-legged on a narrow bank of mud before the rolling marshland. Quelaana taught me the highest level pyromancies. Pyromancy is considered a crude magic here, powerful but unrefined.
I buy everything she's got left to offer. I head back up, back out again, towards Firelink Shine and the final clutch of lives remaining. This place is the closest thing Lordran has to a safe haven. Everyone ended up here, if only to rest for a while before moving on. A deep rest for them all. Old Ingward who kept New Londo drowned, kept the dark wraiths and the four kings buried under chill water..
The second Undead Merchant inside the aquaduct and Domhnall sitting beneath it, both of whom saved my life many times with their information and their items:. Burn in hell! You cross eyed Hollow! There's no hope for anyone like you! The Gods will not have it! I attack the great primordial serpent Frampt but my strikes have little effect. He just leaves in a foul mood, disappearing into the hole that leads down the the Kiln of the First Flame where my journey is destined to end.
I shall slumber, until I am awakened again.
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I kill Patches with some pleasure. In the pitch dark of the Tomb of the Giants, he shoved me into a hole and I burned up an innocent as I tried to save myself from her hollowed body guards. Patches only feigned repentance when I emerged again, anything to save his own skin. The world fits him perfectly: cruel without reason, outcomes of little concern.
Things happen or do not happen, issues of responsibility a strange concept. No care for others, only myself. Her soul is gnawed by infinite humanity, and can boost the power of the precious Estus Flask. She sits hunched up in a small barred hollow beneath the fire. My favourite character of all, though I can't place why: everyone is mysterious, sketched out with lines that point to other places, other mysteries, but Anastacia more than all of them. She is hushed, burdened.
Wretched, desperate. She was murdered once, but I brought her back—the selfishness of such an action only obvious with hindsight.
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All I wanted at the time was the fire back, Firelink warm again. That you have agreed to link the Fire … I thank you, sincerely. Finally, the curse of the Undead will be lifted, and I can die human. I am powerless, but I will do all that I can Please, save us all I don't want to kill her, but I know she wants to die. I throw a fireball in through the bars and She doesn't even react.
No movement, no dialogue. No release. I could have easily not brought her back to life, or I could have accidentally used her soul for something else and I'd be all alone in the world. Dark Souls wouldn't care if I murdered myself into a corner. Anastacia sits as a symbol, of humanity and the human's place in the world. Invincible thanks to the bonfire, but enslaved by it, forced to feed it humanity to keep the flame burning. Maybe that link will reset the cycle, rekindle everything and keep it burning long enough to free the keepers from their duties.
All fires die down in the end, and all cycles come full circle. Even if she is freed, at some point humanity will be here again, at the same point. Leashed to embers, controlled by lords and gods and kings. I had forgetten someone. At the water's edge in Darkroot Basin there is a summoning sign.
Unlike all the others, this sign is visible even though I am hollowed. And unlike all the others, this one summons someone for conversation instead of combat—Dusk of Oolacile, who sells odd magics based on silence and deception. I found her trapped inside a gold-crystal golem at the far end of the basin, the wide waters beneath the forest sprawl.
Time and space don't work quite right here—they're fluid, folded things. It's no great surprise to find a character fallen out of the world entirely. As Solaire told me once:. The very fabric wavers, and relations shift and obscure. Alternate realities are layered on top of each other: players moving as phantoms between them to hinder or help.
I had to invade a character's world to get Anastacia's soul back, and other legendary adventurers have invaded here.
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Ghosts flicker in and out, the captured actions of players just before their deaths. Shadows gather in around the bonfires, all worlds separate but tenuously linked, everyone aware of the connection. Time doesn't pass, Lordran stuck in an infinite afternoon even as Anor Londo sits in darkness now. The world waits, enemies stuck in place until someone approaches, stuck in loops of their own, cycles of action reset on every death. Clockwork souls. She knows it doesn't matter in the end. She has just slipped off, between worlds again, waiting to be summoned back. In another place, in another time, by another person.
This will all come round again, here as the cycle resets or in another world just the same. I've finished, for good this time. More confused, less content. Maybe everyone else was right as I killed them, too. Curses on me, screaming out my madness. In a dead world, I find myself lacking anything to hold on to.
We see that this is happening in the middle of a spiral of henge-like stones all encompassing a Weirwood tree. The stone symbol looks like what the White Walkers created with horse heads and limbs in Season 3. Later in that same episode, Bran touches the roots of the Heart Tree without the aid of the Three-Eyed Raven and travels to a snowy version of this scene, where the Night King has assembled his army. This is the moment that the Night King sees Bran, brands him, and all hell breaks loose.
Circles within circles, that look like wheels…. Not only does he show her the vast cache of dragonglass located right under her palace, but he also shows her some dazzling cave paintings. These images include various esoteric symbols, many of which look just like the circular and spiracle patterns the White Walkers have been leaving behind.
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Jon uses the moment to impress upon Daenerys that the Children of the Forest and mankind once put aside their differences to battle the White Walkers. Clearly something. The same motif shows up again in Season 3 with the horse corpses, and now Ned Umber has been left at the center of one. Or does it mean something else? Delivered weekly. The power that moves them is powerless here. There is one at Winterfell, a few beyond the Wall, and not many elsewhere.
They are tied to the Old Gods, and the Children of the Forest explain to Bran that they created the White Walkers to defend themselves from men who were cutting down their sacred trees. All this suggests that the Heart Tree in Winterfell may be even more important than we ever thought in the war ahead. The symbols have an ancient magical meaning — and probably profound magical power. I want to add that Jon translates the story on the cave walls as being about how the Children of Men teamed up with their enemies, the First Men, to defeat the White Walkers. But is that the whole story?