I have reached another bone fire in the castle above the shrine. The worn path southwest of the shrine led to a sewer. One of those blasted undead soldiers rained firebombs down on me as I climbed, and a few others with sword and shield rushed me down. They proved no match for me and were dispatched quickly.
When I reached the firebomber by a set of stone stairs, I landed a solid kick in his rotting abdomen, flinging him off the ledge to the valley far, far below. I did not pause to listen to the corpse burst upon the distant rocks.
Past the stairs, a small archway led to a grime-encrusted sewer. To my left was a plague rat the size of a dog, feasting on a corpse hanging halfway out a portcullis of iron bars. Disgusted by the sight, I shoved my longsword right up that rat’s ass, spilling its putrescent entrails into the ankle-deep muck.
The sewer emerged into the castle above, and after slaughtering several more undead soldiers and traversing a series of narrow bridges and stairs upward, I reached this fire in the base of a cold stone tower. After I rested, however, I could see through the tower’s entrance that the soldiers I had slain on my way in had returned! What was this sorcery? It appears as though this castle returns to a horrid default state, full of monsters and undead beasts, every time I ignite one of the bone fires. Damnation!
Above is the crude map of my surroundings I have managed to scrawl out. The sky is permanently overcast and I am without my compass, so I shall call the direction starting from the fire and pointing toward the tree “North.”
Ruins of ancient temples, overgrown with centuries of brush and moss, surround the clearing. The chainmail-clad man by the fire has informed me that I am not the first Undead to attempt to find this so-called Bell of Awakening. The bell is actually two bells - one higher, in the Undead Church, and one lower, in the ruins of Blighttown. I must ring them both, if I am to learn of my destiny.
To the left of the man are stairs leading downward. I can only assume that following them would lead me to Blighttown. Toward the southwest, I can see a path leading upward toward a bridge. Further up, the still intact stone walls of what I am sure is just the merest visible tip of a massive dark castle.
I met a cleric named Petrus in the courtyard of one of the ruined buildings. Initially, he offered me a single copper coin and told me to be about my business. After some more pressing, he offered to allow me to swear covenant to the Way of White. Although I was not entirely sure what that entailed, I swore the oath. As dark as this place is, I fear I will require all the Divine protection I can get my hands on. He has offered to teach me miracles - perhaps at a later time. I do not have the wisdom or the gear to conjure up the forces of Light as I am sure he does as easily as breathing.
Through the northeast ruins, atop which the great Crow perches furtively, I came upon a vast graveyard filled with metal fences and ancient tombstones. Two skeletons built themselves out of bones lying on the worn stone path. Swift, agile, and armed with sword and shield, they rent my flesh without delay and despite my pitiful attempts to wound them. I awoke back at the campfire, my brand emitting a searing pain. So I am truly Undead, a permanent specter. A smile twisted my cracked lips as I realized that I might reach the Bells of Awakening after all, no matter how many resurrections it may take.
The demon’s key fit the huge metal doors at the end of the hall. I swung them out to reveal, at long last, the outdoors! But my heart sank as I continued along the upward path, for there appeared to be no corresponding downward path. Indeed, the path ended abruptly at a precipice of unimaginable height. The chill wind blew straight through my armor, a frigid reminder that I lacked anything that could reasonably be called skin.
Just then, a voice rang out from everywhere and nowhere at once. I was not sure if it was coming from inside my head or not. Still, I remember its words clearly:
“Only, in the ancient legends it is stated that one day an Undead shall be chosen..”
Suddenly a massive crow swooped down out of nowhere and let out a hideous “Caw!” Before I had time to react, it had gripped me by the shoulders in its sharp talons, each claw the size of a man’s forearm.
The voice continued. “..to leave the Undead Asylum, in pilgrimage, to the land of the Ancient Lords. Lordran.”
I could only assume that this was where that awful crow was taking me as it swept me away into the grey and clouded sky. And that is when I awoke here, by the bone fire and the gnarled tree at the place known as the Firelink Shrine.
A short prologue, and The Undead Asylum
A brief aside - as I circled the area around the fire in an effort to evaluate my surroundings, I stumbled across several pages from a journal caught under a rock. It seems as though I am not the first Undead to have escaped from the Asylum and found myself here at the Firelink Shrine. I hope that this.. Golem of the West is doing well in his quest.
My name; lost to both myself and time. Identity however, remains. I was and forever will be The Golem of the West. I remember little of my life before the Asylum, I remember war. I remember not battles, but the idea of war. I know not if it was the code I lived by, or the life I lived. I know only that I was enveloped in conflict. Why? I suppose it doesn’t matter now. I wonder what is older, myself or this Asylum. I suppose it is lucky that we undead have no need of food or drink, these halls have long since been abandoned and fallen into disrepair. I’ve seen some of my brethren over the ages run past. None speak. Have we forgotten how to use our tongues? I find it a labor to even consider the meaning of the spoken word in my mind. Perhaps though, this is part of the process of becoming hollow. The absolute loss of self, of humanity… of meaning. I find myself worried to say the least. This dark cell shall be the end of me. My flesh decaying, becoming like leather….. This must be a slow process indeed. To think; some are worried about quickly becoming hollow. Then again, who is to say how long I have actually been here? I don’t know anymore. Without the need for sleep…. how can one judge the days? These black firebombs and a broken sword are all that I have. I could try and end my life; though I would just come back anew here….well I suppose ‘Anew’ is the wrong word. Why am I thinking… far easier to fade…into…nothing.
I have escaped that accursed Asylum! I sit now at a bone fire by a gnarled and twisted dead tree. This place, apparently, is known as the Firelink Shrine. I have one companion here - a stout, nameless man wearing a suit of chainmail.
The Beast is no more. The fog gate had led to a balcony above Its courtyard. The Beast sat below, regarding me with those awful black eyes. Without hesitation, I leaped off the balcony and sunk my sword into its head. Blood the color of oil and yet more putrescent than the slime on the floor of my cell poured from its wound and it let out a tremendous roar of pain. I circled It some distance away, waiting.
The Beast was strong, but also slow. I knew I could use this to my advantage. I was able to easily roll out of the way of its mace strikes and hack away at Its tender underbelly with my sword. Although It did manage to strike me a couple of times, I was able to withstand its blows, armed as I was with a sword and shield. Finally, It fell, shaking the entire Asylum before It dissipated in a fragmenting cloud of black light, leaving behind an oversized key.
The dead knight’s key fit the lock at the top of the stairs. Yet more ghouls awaited me beyond, and another archer. But the wall here was partially destroyed, and for the first time since I can remember, I felt the cool breeze of the outside air upon my face.
Another fog gate blocked the archway to my left. Beyond, I could hear a tremendous crashing sound, and I knew that the Beast was furious. I left the gate for now and proceeded further into the passages, where I encountered a ghoul armed with sword, shield and helm! This one seemed a great deal more intelligent than the others - still, he was no match for me. Finding no way forward, I returned to the fog gate and braced myself to face the great demon beyond.
I thought, “Now I should find the exit. Perhaps there is a way around the Beast’s courtyard.” I tried heading up some stairs, but a fiendish ghoul at the top rolled down a massive iron ball, which crushed part of my leg and knocked me on my back. Luckily, the injured limb seemed to be perfectly useable - however, I felt less vital and I knew that my life force was slowly draining out.
After slaying that bastard ghoul, I looked down to where the iron ball had smashed a giant hole into another cell. A dying knight lie inside. He hailed me in a raspy voice, and I took a moment to hear his last words.
The knight’s final request, from one Undead to another, was that I should complete his pilgrimage to the Land of the Ancient Lords and there ring the Bell of Awakening, so that I may learn the fate of the Undead. I gave no assent or dissent to his entreaty. He also gave me what he called an Estus Flask - “an Undead favorite” - and a small iron key. The flask was small, orange, and glowed softly. Just holding it, I began to feel my wounds lose their pain.
I am pausing here to record all this so that I remember the knight’s request, should I choose to pursue it after I free myself from this accursed Asylum. But the incessant plodding of the great monster’s bulk has never ceased, and I fear that only through its defeat will I escape. In other words, the knight’s final request will most likely never make it beyond that central courtyard and its Hellish occupant.
I have returned to the bone fire in the courtyard. After leaving the fire in the room off the Beast’s chamber, I encountered a skeletal archer blocking the path forward. I dove into an alcove to avoid his arrows, only to find a shield. At last, some proper armaments! Ducking behind the shield, I was able to make my way slowly to the undead fiend and rend his dried-out guts with my broken sword.
On another corpse at the archer’s feet I found a fully intact longsword. Praise the Sun! Memories of my past as a soldier floated up out of the time-murk. The sword and shield felt powerful in my hands, and the martial knowledge of how to wield them came flooding back to me. Beyond the door to the left was a second archer, whom I dispatched quickly. These hands, I suspect, have taken many thousands of lives.
Beyond the archer was a stone staircase, at the top of which was a wall of fog. Touching the fog caused it to dissipate. More cryptic messages: “O: Backstep. Left stick + O: Roll.” Being stone and devoid of trees, the Asylum surely harbors no sticks. Perhaps these glowing letters are but the meaningless chicken scratchings of a madman.
I have located another of the bone-and-sword bonfires in a dank chamber through a passage to the left of the great demon. Having lit this one as well, I am taking a moment to rest and reflect upon my situation. My escape from the demon was a narrow one - after crossing into the passage, a gate barred the doorway.
I have found glowing orange script on the floors of several corridors. The messages, however, remain cryptic. “R1 to Attack”? What in God’s name does that mean? Perhaps as I advance through the asylum, I will come to understand these mysterious inscriptions.
So I am truly undead then. I had barely time to react before the Beast, letting out a gutteral roar of alarmed hatred, leaped down into the courtyard with a thunderous crash, charged me and smote my brains to the floor with that massive mace.
Yet here I am, sitting by the bone fire again in the outer courtyard. I touch my hand to the circular brand on the back of my neck. The Darksign. I remember now - that’s what the brand was - is - called. It tingles gently. I am sure it is what binds me to this twisted plane, although how, I have no idea. Will it raise me at the bone fire once more if I perish again, or have I just used my only resurrection? I may find out all too soon, as I am determined to venture once more into the Beast’s chamber. Perhaps there is some exit I can reach before he crushes me again.