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About this blog

My collection of stories from one of the three Dark Souls worlds - the stories have no direct relation to each other but all stories about a particular game are in a singular consistent universe. As consistent as a Souls world can get, anyways. Currently I have no plans to include Bloodborne or Demons' Souls here, as I have not played them.

Obligatory disclaimers:

- Major spoilers ahead for endgame content and DLCs.

- It's Dark Souls. People fucking die. Shouldn't be anything too graphic but be prepared for blood.

- I like worldbuilding, so don't expect omo content to start up until about a quarter or a third of the way through any given story.

- try tongue but hole

- message ahead therefore be wary of message

 

Entries in this blog

The Lord's Blade

Under any other circumstances, being summoned to stand before the Great Lord of Sunlight would have been the highest possible honor. Of course, in light of the Eldest’s treason, those that served him were now potential traitors as well, and as one of the disgraced war god’s knights happened to also be the captain of the Four Knights, all four were to be in attendance. Ciaran could understand – after all, if the leader of the Four was a traitor, the Lord had good reason to believe that the other three would follow along. Quite frankly, Ciaran was surprised that she wasn’t the main suspect, or indeed the target of any suspicion at all, considering her status as the foremost among the Lord’s assassins and spies. Then again, perhaps that was exactly why she wasn’t seriously considered a threat; regardless, she couldn’t envy the Dragonslayer his present condition.                 “I swear I knew nothing, my Lord,” Ornstein said, kneeling. His helm and spear lay in front of him at the Lord’s feet. “His betrayal was as shocking to me as it was to you.”                 Being in the Great Lord’s terrifying presence was one thing; seeing the golden lion-knight, one of the most faithful and honorable knights of the Sun, brought to his knees to beg for mercy was almost nightmarish.                 “Thou wouldst have me believe that?” The Lord looked down on His knight from His throne, His expression unreadable and body almost motionless. “Thou wert his most faithful servant, and still he told thee nothing?”                 “Yes, my Lord. My loyalty to him only extended so far as to best serve you, and I suspect he knew that.” The Dragonslayer was unusually hesitant. Perhaps the others would see it as his nerves getting the better of him, as one would expect given the circumstances. No doubt all three of them were unsettled by this, Ciaran especially. She hoped that either her deductions were wrong or that the Lord would assume that any strange behavior by His Knights could be attributed to the stress of the situation. If Ciaran’s skills were still reliable – and right now she very much wished for them not to be – Ornstein was right to be afraid, though perhaps he’d never have acted on his desires. Still, some deep part of him was yet loyal to the exiled king, and Ornstein was very seriously considering listening to it. Of course this would be an uncomfortable situation. She really didn’t want to be around to see what would happen when the Lord saw the truth.                 There was another reason for Ciaran’s present anxiety, though, for she had been en route to deal with more personal matters when she’d received her summons, but that was a drop in the ocean compared to what potentially awaited the Four. Even so, if they were going to be executed as traitors, Ciaran hoped she’d at least be allowed to deal with that before being put to the hammer, to retain at least some dignity.                 The Lord sat still for a while, and the room was silent save for Gough’s breathing. Then the Lord rose and said, “Very well. I shall reaffirm thy station among my Knights. In return, thou shalt prove thy loyalty again.” He raised His left arm and snapped His fingers, and within seconds a silver knight was at His side, presenting His greatsword. The Lord pulled the sword from its housing, and taking it in two hands He touched the flat of the blade to each of Ornstein’s shoulders before returning the sword to the knight that had presented it. “Thine orders come now from the Princess. Thy station is to be shared with… the cannibal…” There was a hint of disgust to His voice for a moment. “And together thou shalt serve and protect the Princess and the Cathedral. Thou shalt not leave Anor Londo without my order to do so. Go now.”                 “At once, thank you my Lord.” Ornstein stood, collecting his helmet and spear, and backed away from the Lord while bent into a deep bow. When he came to be in line with the other Knights, he put his helm back over his head, straightened out, and turned to leave.                 The first to speak when he had gone was Artorias.                 “The cannibal, my Lord?”                 “If Smough cannot break him then truly his loyalty lies with me.” The Lord turned to Ciaran while Artorias bowed his head in acknowledgement. “Ciaran. Thou art to follow him, ensure that he does as ordered. Do not be seen. Gough and Artorias, I shall summon thee again if I have need of thee. Go now, Ciaran.”                 “Of course, my Lord.” Ciaran bowed deeply while the other two gave a salute and rushed off. By the time she’d turned to leave, Artorias was already at the steps leading down into the Cathedral’s main room, and she hurried to catch up with him. “So,” she said, popping up from behind him. “Where are you off to?”                 Artorias turned his head ever so slightly to look at Ciaran, presumably giving a bit of a sideways glance and a suspicious glare – hard to tell under his helmet. “I was headed to the blacksmith, but don’t you have work to do?”                 “Oh, well, I was actually going to go that way, so we can walk over there together.” Ciaran had developed a bit of a spring-step while speaking.                 “It’s… just down the hall…” They passed a set of Sentinels, and Artorias returned the salute they gave.                 And, indeed, the two were nearly at the first set of stairs that would lead to the Giant Blacksmith’s workshop, but Ciaran didn’t seem the least bit discouraged. “Yeah, I know, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a bit of company for a little bit?”                 “I guess…”                 Ciaran glanced at Artorias, her expression hidden behind her porcelain mask. “What are you having the blacksmith do anyways,” she chirped. “All your stuff is in good condition.”                 Artorias put a hand on the sword at his hip and returned a salute from a passing silver knight. “Yes, it is, but I’m going to have him make me a shield. A proper magical one that can still protect someone even if they’re not actually carrying it.”                 “Sounds pretty complicated.” Ciaran had started fiddling with the hair on the side of her mask. Not quite the same as if it were her real hair, but it would do.                 “It has to be. It’s not just myself I need it to protect. But I trust the giant’s skills. He’s even earned our Lord’s trust, so I have no doubt he’s capable.” The rhythmic clanking of the Giant Blacksmith’s wooden hammer against his anvil could now be heard, and it grew louder as Artorias spoke and the two descended towards the workshop. “Should you really be going this way? Probably would have been better to just follow him out the front door.”                 “What do you mean?” The two looked at each other for a moment, and Ciaran suddenly realized what it was she was supposed to be doing. It was a good thing her mask hid her flushed face. “Oh! Oh, right, no, this is fine. He’s… he’s not going to sneak away anywhere just yet, I’m sure. I’ve, uh, got to keep a good distance anyways.”                 “Riiiiiight…” As they reached the bottom of the stairs, Artorias gave a little wave to the blacksmith while he spoke. “Well, here we are. Good hunting.” He made a gesture that was almost a hybrid between a salute and a wave, then turned to the blacksmith who greeted him the same way he greeted everyone else.                 “Forge, I can. Strong, I am.”                 “Oh, don’t I know it. Listen…”                 Ciaran cut him off when she suddenly turned around at the door and called out to him, carefully walking backwards to get properly outside. “Oh, I’ll probably need to check on the painting too, so I guess I’ll see you later.” She gave a wave before she disappeared.                 “Uh, sure, I guess.” Artorias shrugged, at this point no longer talking to anyone at all.                 Ciaran sighed as she walked the streets of Anor Londo. It hadn’t taken very long to find Ornstein, so it was just a matter of watching him and staying out of sight. She was looking for any opportunities to get on top of a building, so she could see and hide better. Not the easiest of tasks considering her divided attention.                 First, there was her job. She would be in quite a lot of possibly-explosive lightning-based trouble if Ornstein really did try to pull something and she wasn’t there to see it and report back to Lord Gwyn. Maybe even worse if she was there but wasn’t paying enough attention.                 Then there was Artorias. Ciaran wasn’t stupid. She could tell Artorias wasn’t responding to any of her advances. He barely even seemed to know she existed. And yet, she couldn’t help but think that some day she’d win him over, that one day he’d be hers alone. She knew perfectly well the odds of that happening were just as good as the chance that the Dark he hunted would take him first, and yet here she was chasing after him like a child. It’d never work, so why was she trying so hard?                 As if that weren’t enough, that personal matter of hers from earlier had returned in force once she’d calmed down from the audience with the Lord and almost having been briefly alone with Artorias. Keeping in constant motion was helpful, but considering Ciaran had already been preparing to deal with this issue hours ago, there wasn’t much time left until she didn’t have a say in the matter anymore.                 For now, though, she was still in control. Very fortunate, as she still had a job to do and Ornstein was passing by the stables, which Ciaran would have to go through to stay out of sight. Fortunately, they were mostly empty. Except for…                 Bark. Bark.                 The little grey wolf pup Artorias had brought back from the forests around Oolacile; the inspiration for his Wolf Ring. Her name was Sif, she was Artorias’s best friend, and as far as Ciaran was concerned she was absolutely adorable – or would be at literally any other time. As it was right now, Ciaran had to maneuver herself over a wall to hide from Ornstein, who almost certainly would have come to investigate the barking. Usually such a maneuver wouldn’t have been a problem, but her present condition made her a good deal slower.                 Sif was kept in a separate enclosure, large enough for her to grow into a proper great-wolf, so there was no doubt Ornstein knew exactly where the sound was coming from. Indeed, just as soon as Ciaran had gotten herself out of sight she could hear the clattering of the golden armor approaching, then stopping, presumably at Sif’s enclosure to see if the wolf had noticed anything out of place.                 Ciaran of course knew that she was the one to set Sif off in the first place, but Ornstein was left to try to find some reason the wolf would have been startled. So he looked, or at least Ciaran could assume that was what he was doing – she could only hear his armor rattle as he moved, never going far.                 Perhaps some other time Ciaran would have been more than patient with something like this, but right now she was praying for Ornstein to move on so they could both be done. The pressure was growing while Ciaran was just sitting there doing nothing, and if she couldn’t at the very least move along soon… something would happen that she preferred not to think about.                 Finally, after what must have been hours – but of course was hardly even five minutes – the Dragonslayer addressed the wolf.                 “Are you looking for your master? He’s not here now, but I’m sure he’ll come visit you soon.”                 Sif just barked at him in response, and he must have considered that to be acceptable, for the sounds of his armor soon faded away. Ciaran pulled herself up to look over the wall, with far more effort than it should have taken, then worked her way over and dropped onto the ground on the other side, receiving another greeting from Sif as she landed. That little bit of sudden warmth she was feeling had absolutely nothing to do with any of that and would go away if she just ignored it.                 Not that she had time to deal with that even if it had been something – truly, ignoring it was the only option. She had to hurry to make sure Ornstein wouldn’t get out of sight. He was approaching a path down to the lower city, and now there was finally going to be an opportunity to get above him, if only Ciaran could climb up one of the many buildings that made up the residential center of the holy city. All the better that the Executioner worked in the slums, where the spaces between buildings were just barely large enough for a silver knight to slip through. If this were one of the more upscale places out towards Duke Seath’s library, sure the houses would be larger, but they’d be so far apart that Ciaran would have to climb down and back up every time she got to the edge.                 Right now, just getting onto a roof once would be a problem. Ciaran was hanging back out of sight and, save for the occasional civilian, the streets were empty, so she had some time mostly alone to prepare herself for the task of scaling the side of a house. Mentally more than physically – things were under control for now and would remain so, if only Ciaran could focus on guaranteeing it. She had to act quickly, though, as narrow roads and sharp turns into innumerable alleys and side streets meant she could lose track of Ornstein in an instant. So, with a deep breath, Ciaran slipped into the nearest alleyway and got to work climbing up the house wall in front of her, grabbing at windows and using the Tracers to get a grip in places where the masonry was cracked. It was a good deal slower than normal, as Ciaran was trying to maintain the delicate balance she’d established in her lower half, and if anything were to happen to disturb that balance… she didn’t really want to think of what that meant.                 Fortunately, Ciaran was able to maintain focus and control long enough to get up onto the roof, and even more fortunately, she could see both Ornstein and the executioner’s block from there – she’d still have to jump across to another couple of houses on the way, but so long as Ornstein planned to do as he was told, there wouldn’t be any issues. He’d slowed down considerably, though, and stopped just before he rounded the last corner. He stood there, looking around at whatever there was to see, adjusting bits of his armor and inspecting his spear. Ciaran loomed overhead, just out of sight, both hoping the Dragonslayer would move on, so she could get back to personal business, and wishing he wouldn’t, so she didn’t have to get so close to the Executioner.                 After idling long enough to seem suspicious, though, Ornstein did head down the proper road, and Ciaran followed above and slightly ahead of him, hopping over gaps between houses to end up directly above Smough. There was a prisoner already on the block, so her focus was on Ornstein while he approached, putting up a hand to block his view and turning his head to the side as a massive cracking noise and guttural laugh rang out in the alley. Only Smough was left standing when Ciaran and Ornstein both looked again. Neither of them dared look directly at what had happened to the prisoner, though the Executioner’s reputation and the size of that hammer were more than enough to guess.                 The lion-knight cautiously stepped forward and opened the maw of his helm that served as a visor, and Ciaran dropped into a low crouch to hear what he was to say. There was a protest from somewhere deep within her body, but she willed herself to ignore it, just for a little while.                 “New orders for you,” he said, “From, eh, from Lord Gwyn.”                 “What? Why would He do that?” Smough’s voice was muffled and distorted by his grotesque helmet.                 “You’re, uh… you’re, you’re more than welcome to… to ask Him yourself when you see Him.” Ornstein tugged on the plume at the back of his helmet and looked off somewhere just beyond Smough – in Ciaran’s general direction, though she was sure she was hidden. “But… best not to bother Him with questions like that.”                 “Right.” Smough let his hammer down at his left side, grabbing the handle to keep it upright. “Well, what is it?”                  “I was sent to tell you,” Ornstein leaned his spear towards Smough as if to point at him. “That, uh, you, and me too actually, we’re to speak to Princess Gwynevere. We’re in Her service now.”                 Ciaran shifted around as her body continued to disagree with her choice of position – and she tried her best to stay silent as she felt a most unwelcome warmth in her smallclothes.                 “Uh, alright. Hey, if I’m working with you now does that mean there are Five Knights?”                 Ornstein closed his visor again and briefly looked up at Ciaran’s roof, this time quite explicitly. Surely he couldn’t have heard her fighting against her own body. “No, I’m pretty sure that’s never going to happen. I mean, you eat people’s bones. I don’t think that’s the kind of person the Lord wants representing Him. Lord Nito, maybe, or even Lady Izalith if She’s in the right mood, but not Lord Gwyn.”                 “Fair enough, yeah.”                 The two trailed off into some sort of conversation, though Ciaran had stopped paying attention. Still in her squatting position that her body hated her for, she had both hands vigorously rubbing her thighs, drifting ever closer to grabbing at herself without ever quite getting there. The inside of her mask was utterly saturated with her sweat and the warmth below grew in little intermittent bursts until she was practically sitting in a puddle within her own clothes. She was out of options and out of time. She’d done as she’d been commanded, and it seemed like Ornstein and Smough were just going to sit around making friends with each other. She’d earned a minute to herself.                 Thus, Ciaran backed away from the edge of the building, stood up and immediately ran back to the house she’d climbed up in the first place, the force from jumping the gaps between buildings causing a little more liquid to join the party. Once she was fairly sure she’d reached the right house, or at least was far enough away, she fumbled with getting the Gold Tracer off her belt, nearly dropping it, and dug it into the wall as she jumped off. Thanks to whatever magic the Giant could work into weapons, that knife was far stronger than it had any right to be, so Ciaran could simply slide down the wall of the house and drop into a quiet alley. And thanks to her small stature compared to the other Knights, she didn’t have to worry too much about being seen, though she was right next to the open road.                 Not that any of that was important. Ciaran could think of nothing else as she tore down her pants, a light but steady stream already working its way to the ground, which became a full-force torrent as soon as Ciaran had lowered herself into the usual position. The pale golden stones below her immediately became drenched in a fresh coating of a much deeper gold, and even the opposite wall of the alley was close enough to receive a generous spray.                 Alas, it didn’t last long. Before Ciaran was even halfway done, she could hear heavy footsteps coming from behind her, out on the road. If they were loud enough to be heard over her own cascade, that meant only one thing. With every grain of strength left in her body, Ciaran forced herself to stop, hastily redressed, and crossed her arms as she willed a disguise spell upon herself. Not a moment later did Ornstein pass by, Smough at his side. They were engaged in some sort of conversation that Ciaran truly did not care one bit about, until Ornstein, who was the nearer of the two to Ciaran’s alley, stopped abruptly and looked down. He lifted his right foot, and a little bit of the Blade’s waters dripped from the heel of his boot.                 “Eugh.” Ornstein shook his foot and took several steps to his left to avoid the still-expanding puddle that had spilled out onto the street, then the two carried on walking. “How do you live down here with these creatures and their filth?”                 Smough’s response was something about plenty of opportunities for him, but Ciaran only listened for when their footsteps had faded away enough for her to be considered out of earshot. As soon as she was sure, she dispelled her disguise and instantly fell forward, lying on her hands and knees in a pool of her own making. There was hardly even time to breathe before the flood she had so rudely interrupted started again, this time filtering through Ciaran’s clothes before hitting the ground with even more force than earlier.                 With no real options available, Ciaran moaned as she let herself fall even lower, head kept off the ground only by the fact that her forearms were in the way. Her chest and arms were soaked almost immediately, to the point where she could feel her waters on her skin. And yet she didn’t really care. She was bent over as if she were a dog in heat presenting herself, and was panting like one too, and still she didn’t care. Only the relief mattered, so Ciaran stayed as she was, reveling in the feeling of being able to remove what must have been more than twelve hours of fluids from her system. Ciaran couldn’t properly gauge how much time passed until the torrent ended, but even when it did she remained in her position for a while, letting whatever was left drip down from her garb and join the ocean she’d made.                 Once she heard the last drops land, she pushed herself up and fell back against the wall. Ciaran lifted up her mask and for a few moments gasped for breath before calming down again and sliding even farther into the pool below. It took a while to process what had just happened, and when she did finally figure it out she pulled her mask down again to hide her deep blush. Then she looked around and sighed. She was an absolute mess. Soaked through to the skin practically everywhere except her back and head, she had no idea whatsoever how she was meant to clean up. Perhaps she could just borrow a painting guardian uniform. They wouldn’t dare pry into their leader’s personal business, if she could get over there without being seen by anyone else, like a silver knight, or Artorias, or worst of all Lord Gwyn. What nightmare awaited her if her Lord found out one of his prized Four Knights lacked the constitution to perform a simple task without soiling herself like a pathetic Undead?                 Oh well. She’d deal with that if it came to it. At least she’d made sure nobody could say the streets in Anor Londo were not paved with gold.

Sake

Blackflame

“I see flame. Flame, flickering, once again. Not enough blood yet shed. My flail… bring me my flail. Ahh, Friede. What stops thine ears? Please, my flail, right away…”                 I knew he’d be trouble, and now here he is, disturbing the Father. Damn Ash. I’d have killed him as soon as I saw him if he wasn’t undead. Damn Darksign.                 “Ahh, oh. Bring Friede to me, please. Canst thou not see? The flame, flickering once again. Soon it will surge. I can see it, feel it...”                 Oh well. Let’s just get it over with.                 “Fret not father, we have no need of thy flail. Tis only the flame, quivering at misguided Ash.” The scythe’s blade is cold as I run my hand across it. It won’t be for long. “Please avert thine eyes. I will snuff out these ashes for good.”                 All I do is walk forward, slowly, and the Ash comes running. I need to have a talk with Yuria about her idea of “potential”, if this is how her “Lords” behave in a fight. He comes into range, and all it takes is a few swings before he’s on the ground, fading away.                 “Return from whence thou cam’st,” I tell him. “For that is thy place of belonging.”                 He’ll be back, of course. But that’ll teach him a good lesson. It takes a few minutes – the fire’s just up the stairs, so at the very least he’s being smart about it and preparing himself. Maybe even poking at one of those white signs, as if it’d be any help.                 Sure enough, he comes charging through the fog. Now he’s got his shield up. How cute. He thinks he’s learning.                 Of course, I just walk towards him. Walking is always so much more intimidating than running.                 He thinks he has an opening, so he lunges around his shield. A jump to the side is more than enough to get out of his way, and a swing to counterattack leaves him reeling. I was really hoping that’d do him in straightaway.                 The Ash rolls off to the wall, and I stay behind. I bring the scythe up and pull it back, and then he can’t see me anymore. He takes a swig of that estus that undead are so attached to, and I jump across the hall to his side. The idiot runs over to where I just was, so I drive the scythe into his back.                 He falls, but by some miracle he manages to pick himself up again. He tries to roll off, but I hit him with a low swipe and he fades away before he gets a chance to figure out which way was up.                 “Leave us be, Ashen One.” I know he won’t listen, but at least if I tell him it makes him wrong for coming back. “Sweep all thought of us from thy mind. As thy kind always have.”                 A few minutes and he’s back again, of course, but now he’s changed into some lighter armor. Roll around all you like, it won’t help you. He runs at me, I walk towards him, and he manages to actually get out of the way of my first few swings this time. Apparently rolling is helping him. He takes a swing, and I jump out of the way, but he follows up with another and nicks me right as his attack is ending. No big deal, and it’ll be back to normal once he dies anyways.                 I jump back across the hall and turn invisible again. He hasn’t learned, so he runs at me, and I jump over his head. He’s on the floor in one strike yet again. This Ash is stubborn, though, and he gets himself out of the way before I can finish him. A dose of estus, and he rolls in for some attack. I catch him with the scythe-blade as he’s getting up from a roll, so he has to pick himself up off the ground again. He manages to lift himself directly into the path of another swing. Oh my, where did that come from? Down he goes again, fading away.                 I’ve got a few minutes to myself again – good time to think, though perhaps not the best time to notice my body making requests. But it’s no concern; this Ash has to give up some time, and I can outlast him. Especially since I’m restored to peak (almost, anyways) condition every time he dies. I’d always wondered about that – that and the fog doors, the damn things.                 He comes back, of course. This time he’s not running around, he’s rolling everywhere. I guess he figures that counts as an improved strategy. Not improved enough, though – it didn’t work last time, and it sure isn’t going to work again this time. One swing goes over his head while he’s on the ground, then a follow-up catches the back of his leg. He stumbles for a moment then lashes out, and I just take the hit and move on with a strike to the head. I don’t know how, but he survives, though he’s staggered. A strike to the ribs snaps him out of it and he rolls away, drinks some estus – they’re so reliant on that stuff these days – then he throws a knife. I can feel it fly past my head, then I jump back and turn invisible again. He runs forward and takes a jab at where he thinks I am, so I leap over him again and prepare to finish him.                 I have to give him credit – he is learning, a little bit. He rolls out of the way at the last second, either because he just happened to feel like rolling just then or he could tell it was coming, but either way the massive swing I’d just taken at him missed completely, and I almost hit the back of my own head with my scythe. He runs in for another poke while my weapon is out of the way, but I just take it and hit him around the head while he’s busy tiring himself out swinging his sword. He drops to the ground and fades away yet again.                 Perhaps if this were any other time I’d be admiring his persistence – he’s an idiot, no doubt about that, but a persistent idiot. That’s respectable, but… right about now I’d really prefer one of those guys who comes in, dies once, then gives up and spends the next few days lurking around with a soapstone trying to figure out how to kill me without actually needing to risk anything. Those people, they’re clever. And, well, they’d give me some time alone. Not that it’s necessary or anything, but still, it would be nice. Don’t want to have any distractions when I’m fighting.                 This one, though, he’s back again, and he keeps coming back. Even on a good day I hate these types – he rolls out of the way of a swipe, and then I jump over him as he tries to counter – they get really boring really quickly. Usually – I hit him in the head with the blunt side of the scythe, but he manages to stab my leg in return – there’s a bit of a rotation. One guy dies, another comes in, then maybe the first comes back. Not with these people. These people, they just – he runs over to Father Ariandel and starts throwing knives, but I just jump back, fade away, and while he’s trying to get over here I swipe my blade across the ground and freeze the stone beneath him – well, they just don’t stop coming. Kill them once, they try to figure out what they did wrong – he tries to roll out of the way, but the ice has slowed him, so I drive the shaft of the scythe into his head while he’s down and watch him dissolve – and then they come back and try to not do that again.                 Or, well, most of them try to learn. This one not so much. They all get mad and quit after a while, though – I just have to last longer than he does, and that’s simple enough considering I almost never get tired. Sure, there are… other things that could, eh, impair my skills, but… That’s not a problem yet. Not one I have to care about, anyways. Maybe I should stop thinking about it.                 T-there are more important things. Yeah, like the fact that he’s back again. But like every time before, this shouldn’t be a problem. Just a swing and h- I fucking hope for his sake he was just flailing that shield around. Now there’s a sword in my chest and I’m on my knees because why the fuck wasn’t I watching his left arm? Stupid. Just one stupid mistake that I’m not going to make again. At least, I’d better not, because the feeling of getting run through wasn’t the only pain from that…                 Come to think of it – he’s got his shield up in front of him now, but I just hit him around it because he doesn’t understand what a scythe is – I’m rather consistently amazed that I can survive something like that. My, eh… There might be some parts of me that wouldn’t be able to last through too many of those, but I still feel fine overall. Sure, it hurt like Izalith, but I’m in good fighting condition otherwise. Barely even lost any blood.                 And, well, even if I did die, it’s not like that’s a problem. I bet he doesn’t even know I’m every bit as undead as he is – got the damn Sign to prove it, even if its location means I’d rather not need proof– and that I’ll just be back in someone else’s world, even if I might not be in his ever again.                 I’m sure he wouldn’t care. He’s just running around poking at me and trying not to get his ass frozen again. He’s actually getting pretty good at finding me when I’m invisible, so I’ll give him credit for that. I’m still beating him into the Abyss, though. He has to know one lucky shot doesn’t give him a chance, right?                 That estus sure does give him a bit of favor, if he can use it properly – he just tried to drink it a second ago, but I smacked him before it could do anything – but it’s nothing I can’t handle. It is rather annoying, though. His supply is a little smaller than we could get back in my day, no doubt a tradeoff for not needing to sacrifice bits of yourself to get more, but it’s more potent. Probably just because they ran out of Firekeepers to shove into those things so they’re using something more plentiful, and a lot of it.                 If he’s not going to drop dead any time soon, though, I’ll have a real attrition war on my hands here. He was dumb with the drinking once, but he figured himself out quickly enough. I’ve been counting, he’s had four doses already, plus the one I stopped – I really shouldn’t be thinking about drinking that stuff, though; if there’s one thing about it I remember it’s that it goes right through you, and, uh, that’s not a convenient thought right now – so he’s still pretty well-stocked, I figure. He’ll just keep dodging, I guess, so I have to hit him enough to make him run out.                 For now, though, I get out of the way and turn invisible again. A jump over his head when he gets to where I just was, then… Wow, okay, I didn’t expect the pressure to get that intense already. S-surely just from the landing. Still invisible, I press my legs together for a moment, and I’m fine enough once again, so I take a swing.                 I miss. He decided to run away once he realized he had no idea where I was, and it just so happened that he chose the exact moment I’d decided to cut his head off. So, his neck wasn’t where it should have been, and now I look like an idiot and have to spend time bringing my scythe back into position.                 He’s actually smart this time, and he takes advantage of that opening, runs over, and… of all the things he could have done, he kicks me. Exactly the thing I needed right now, thanks… I’m sure it’s not the chance he expected, but now I’m bent over dealing with making sure various internal fluids stay internal – I’d definitely be reeling from that anyways, but this takes just a little bit longer to get under control than just getting the air kicked out of you. Whatever the reason, he’s got an opportunity, and he takes it.                 And, apparently, I greatly overestimated my condition. I get hit in the jaw with the guard of his sword, and then I just see a blur of what I can only imagine is the ceiling.                 Then there’s a horrible pain in my neck and I can’t see anything at all.                   But then I wake up. Two things about this situation are definitely not right. First, I am very warm and very wet. That’s… not a good sign. Second, once my vision comes back I can see that everything is fucking on fire, and there are the sounds of Father Ariandel thrashing about behind me. Then the feeling comes back, and fuck everything my head hurts. Okay, third thing not right: this is a pool of blood I’m in right now. My blood, as in all of my fucking blood is on the floor. And if this pressure coming back is any indication, this pool is just my blood. So now there are two problems. I apparently didn’t come back to life properly, or the Father’s done something, and I’m stuck here fighting this same idiot some more, and I could really use a piss that I’m not going to get to deal with any time soon.                 The pain in my head fades – that’s the worst part about dying, you wake up feeling like, well, like you died – and I move to pull myself up. Plant the scythe on the ground, push up off of it, then work up to standing again. At some point, I was apparently set on fire, too, but it’s reduced to a few embers by the time I’m upright. Then it’s just a matter of getting the scythe back into position.                 Ariandel is the first to act, and his idea of action is smashing that vessel of his on the ground. I take the opportunity to swipe up a sheet of ice, then I jump over to get behind the Father.                 The Ash seems to focus mainly on Father Ariandel, who is himself busy flailing wildly trying to crush the Ash like the bug he is. I can feel a little bit of pain every time Ariandel gets hit, like it’s me taking those hits, too. This won’t be something I can just wait out, so as much as part of me would greatly prefer that I just hid in a corner for a minute while Ariandel solves the problem, I can’t do that. Every second I waste is another second he’s left blindly crawling around trying to accomplish anything at all.                 So, as much as it pains me to, I jump around to get into position, and while the Ash is distracted I hit him with a series of winding strikes – he doesn’t roll away until after I’ve finished beating him up, and once he’s in the clear, he takes a drink. That’s six, unless he had one while I was dead.                 I throw another sheet of ice at him, but he’s already done drinking and out of the way by the time it reaches him. He’s… completely ignoring me now. Going only for the Father. Considering how much this is starting to hurt, I have to do something about that. And if I can’t distract him enough to get him to face me instead…                 A jump back and I fade out of sight, then take a knee, as much as my body would prefer I didn’t. I really don’t know how this escalated so quickly – I have to stop and work to get things under control before I search my belt and pockets for… where the fuck is this thing? I know I have it… A few more seconds of pain from within and without before I find what I was looking for. It’s just a bundle of cloth and a rock, but it’s my bundle of cloth with a rock in it, and I need it right now. I squeeze the talisman as tightly as possible and hold it up to my head, and soon enough, it’s glowing. A warmth envelops my entire body, even beyond the heat of the flames, and I feel reinvigorated.                 That is, until he runs over and slices into my arm. I’m sent staggering back, with a third type of warmth showing up now – this time only briefly, thankfully. I toss the talisman back into the depths of my robes and swat at the Ash and trip him up while he tries to run away. He falls to the ground, and I take another swing at him, but he rolls out of the way of that one and gets to his feet. He strikes me again, then rolls off, straight under Ariandel’s vessel. The Father makes a valiant attempt to crush the Ash, but the pest is too fast for him and is off to the Father’s side, where I can’t see him, but I can still feel what he’s doing.                 For just a moment, I press my legs together again – this is pretty bad now – then jump over to where I can see the Ash. I throw some ice at him and leap across the room to him, striking him across the back. He stumbles, but rolls aside and takes another drink, and I step back for a rest.                 Things aren’t going my way at all. First I die, then I come back and everything’s worse than it was before, and now the Father is very likely going to die and there’s nothing I can do about it. Not when I’m in this condition – I plant the scythe between my legs for a moment, hit by a sudden, powerful wave, but fortunately nothing else comes of that – and certainly not if the Ash is going to ignore everything I do and try to strike the Father down anyways.                 If only I coul-   “Aah…”                                   “When the Ashes are two, a flame alighteth. Thou’rt Ash, and fire befits thee, of course...”                 Alright, no, I’m mad now. Kill me, kill Ariandel, you’re going to get what you deserve. I pick myself up and draw the extra scythe I’ve had on my belt the whole time. I’m still dying inside, now more than ever, but nothing matters right now besides killing this bastard. Glorious abyssal flames are at my feet as I rise, and then I immediately jump into action. Wave the scythes and spin just so, and a swirling pillar of dark fire propels me upwards, then a downward strike has me crash down into the Ash with yet more flame.                 He’s gotten himself out of the way, but no matter. One scythe and then the other, an unyielding assault on the Ash. These blades are quickly polluted with his blood, and still he fights on. He rolls back and drinks in the moment I take to rest, but I immediately resume the assault and leave him running. No openings. He’s not going to get a chance.                 The second assault finishes, and I immediately drag one scythe across the ground, and when I lift it, a great wall of dark fire erupts and consumes everything in front of me – the Ash, unfortunately, not included.                  Let’s see how good he is at dodging what he can’t see. A step back, then I fade and jump over him. He keeps getting close, but every time he does I move farther back and fade away again. Then another jump, a deep breath, and the larger scythe carves into his back. He falls flat on his face, and yet he refuses to die. He gets up, rolls away, drinks, and then covers his sword in golden tree sap or whatever the fuck that is. I don’t give a fuck. I just want him dead.                 His weapon is sparkling with the Great Lord’s gift, and he charges at me. One strike I deflect with the smaller scythe, but he attacks again faster than I anticipate, and I feel the sting of the blade and the surge of lightning through me. I’m sure that’s made things a little warmer downstairs, but I still don’t care. A strike to the face with the blunt side of the larger scythe gets him to back off, and I unleash another assault on him. He takes a hit, then another, then gets himself out of the way to drink again.                 Then he pulls his sword up by his head with two hands, moving into a great lunge. I try to deflect with the smaller scythe, but still the lightning on the blade hits me, even if I’m not pierced by the metal itself. Another surge of pain and another involuntary release, and I’m right back to throwing fire at him. Swipe a scythe across the floor for a fire wall, slam the other onto the ground for a burst of flames.                 And yet he keeps running, while I run out of time.                 I’m not going to win this, not if I keep trying things the way I have been.                 There is one thing, one weapon he couldn’t possibly have seen coming, but I only have one shot at it.                 By the Lords, I hope I still remember how to do this.                                 I drop the smaller scythe, then the larger one, and charge directly at the Ash. He puts up his sword to run me through, but it’s too late for him.                 I swat the weapon aside with my left hand – fortunately, the enchantment has worn off – and then grab him by the mouth. My right hand grabs his neck, and as he falls to the ground in my grip, and I fall to sit on top of him, I feel him struggling. I press harder with my left, and the resistance slows, until it stops altogether.                 I’m breathing heavily as I sit up and pull away from him. As soon as I lift my hand off of his mouth, he starts to dissolve again, and I’m holding a black sprite – I can feel it writhing for a moment before I crush it. It makes a satisfying cracking sound as I absorb its power, and I’m overcome by a great, soothing warmth. I let my hands fall to the ground, shut my eyes, and take a deep breath as I let the humanity flow through me.                 When I look again, I see a pool on the floor below me, and as the humanity’s effects fade, I can still feel a lingering warmth down my legs. I’m left staring in disbelief for a moment – truly, I have no idea how this actually happened, but I don’t have much of a choice but to surrender to it, so I just watch the pool grow until it reaches my hands. Then the warmth in my legs starts to fade, and I move so that I’m sitting on my feet.                 This wasn’t exactly how I’d intended for this to happen, especially considering I’m either going to have to find a way to get new clothes without leaving this room, or just surrender to the concept of fighting either half-naked or half-soaked.                 The one consolation is that I’m fairly sure the Ash won’t be back any time soon.       

Sake

A Cold and Lonely Painted World

There once was an abomination who had no place in this world. She clutched this doll tightly, and eventually was drawn into a cold and lonely painted world.                   What happened to that doll, anyways? And, for that matter, where was the painting? It didn’t matter much, of course, where anything was – the guardians would follow the painting anywhere, and ultimately the condition outside didn’t change anything inside anyways. Priscilla knew that, of course, though they were still interesting questions. She had brought her doll into this fascinating new world – or, well, she was pretty sure she had – and just now she realized that it was nowhere to be found. Wherever it was, though, if it were outside the painting, it could be used to get inside. And if just anyone from the outside could get in, well, surely they wouldn’t understand anything about its residents – what could an outsider possibly know about the world of rejects?                 More importantly, what would they do? The painting was home, for Priscilla and everyone else in it. They’d try to protect their home – and what if they were to be hurt? The Crossbreed shifted around nervously. There was probably nothing to worry about, but she’d been seen as a leader and protector within the painting ever since she first arrived. They were her responsibility. Priscilla took a deep breath. This wasn’t the first time she’d started thinking like that, and every other time nothing bad had happened. Why should anything be different this time? She had her own needs anyways, she couldn’t keep putting the painting before herself. Now that she’d calmed down, that was readily apparent – not a big deal yet, but why put it off?                 Setting her scythe to the side, she walked over to the edge of her tower and looked out at the distant horizons of the Painted World. No less beautiful than the first time she saw it. Putting her feet as close to the edge as possible without stepping off, Priscilla grabbed at her fluffy skirt of fur and prepared to lift it out of the way. But then there was a sound. She’d never heard it before, but she knew exactly what it meant nonetheless. She jumped back and grabbed her weapon, positioning herself right in the middle of the room just in time to see an armored figure walk through the light blocking the doorway. A human, no doubt, with some shiny plate armor covered up with a blood-stained blue surcoat.                 “Who art thou,” she said, softly, despite her fears, “one of us, thou art not.” Even though part of her was practically shouting at her to just kill the thing and be done with it, the rest of her was calm enough to give the human a chance to leave. “If thou hast misstepped into this world, plunge down from the plank, and hurry home.” Hopefully the human would listen. “If thou seekest I,” she said, “thine desires shall be requited not.”                 The human just looked up at her, their face obscured by the visor of their helmet. Priscilla took a deep breath and slowly moved her scythe into an attack position, but as she was doing that the human suddenly sat down, directly on the snowy tower floor. She lowered her guard as the human removed their helmet, revealing a soft face and black hair tied off into a tail at the back – female, probably. Her heart felt like it was about to punch through her chest. This could still be a trick. But, no, the human just sat there, and even spoke after a while.                 “Uh, hi,” she said, waving a hand. “You, uh, you’re not gonna use that?” The human pointed at Priscilla’s scythe – and she even glanced at it herself for a moment before turning to address the human, refusing to answer the question.                 “Thou must returneth whence thou came,” she said, still somehow managing to speak softly and calmly. “This land is peaceful, its inhabitants kind, but thou dost not belong. I beg of thee, plunge down from the plank, and hurry home.”                 The human just sat there and smiled at her. “Y’know, they told me about you. Well, sort of.” She adjusted some rings on her hand – one of them seemed far too tight to ever come off. “They told me there was a monster in the painting, some hideous beast that was the enemy of life itself.” Priscilla just stared at her. “I’m disappointed, actually. They told me there was a monster and all I find is you.” The human laughed, and Priscilla sighed. The human didn’t seem to be much of a threat, but Priscilla still wanted her to leave – she didn’t belong in the painting, after all, and, well… Priscilla lightly pressed her legs together. Hopefully the human would get bored soon.                 “Please,” the Crossbreed said, “thou hast no place here. Begone.”                 “But I want to know about the painting.” The human looked Priscilla right in the eye and crossed her arms. “What is this place? Why do they call you a monster?” She pulled a flask off her belt, its liquid contents glowing a brilliant gold, and took a sip from it. “And why’s it so cold?”                 Priscilla just stared at the human. She’d toss her over the edge herself if it meant she’d be alone again, but perhaps if she just answered the human’s questions, the human would leave on her own. “Ariamis created this world,” she said. “’Tis a haven for that which is cast out from the land outside. And thou art no outcast,” she added, “so, please, return to thy world.”                  “The world out there isn’t my world,” the human responded, “I remember nothing of it but I know I have this brand-“ She pointed to a slight burning ring around one eye, “-and that means I’m not wanted out there.” Another sip from the flask, and a muttered “damn it’s cold.”                 “Even so,” Priscilla said, shifting her weight between her legs and hoping it wasn’t obvious, “This world is not thine either.”                 “What’s really any different between us,” the human asked, still drinking that little undead drink of hers, “After all, we’re both monsters. I take souls from things when they die, and when I die I just wake up at a bonfire. I’m a damn human, I had to escape from a prison I was put in just because I’m human.” Another sip to warm up, and she added, “That’s actually where I found that doll that brought me here.”                 “Thou hast found my doll?” Priscilla’s eyes widened.                 “That was yours? I just found it lying around in my cell – though, somehow, it was only there after I escaped and came back.” The human pulled her arms close to her body and wiggled around where she sat.                 “Yes, that was mine. Long ago it drew me to the painting, and here have I been.” She now had her legs slightly crossed, just enough to apply a bit of pressure, but not so much that she couldn’t stand straight. This human really needed to get on her way.                 “But, uh, if you don’t mind my asking, why? Why’d you let it take you here in the first place?” More of that glowing liquid left the flask.                 “The gods fear what they do not understand,” Priscilla said, bending her knees ever so subtly. “That tyrant Gwyn cast me out from Anor Londo, and I cowered alone with my doll ‘till it brought me here, where the gods dare not trespass.” Tears came to her eyes but she blinked them away.                 The human drank yet more, and shuffled around. “The gods were afraid of you?” She laughed a little bit. “You’re not that scary. What could they possibly be afraid of?”                 Not only was this really not a conversation Priscilla wanted to have, but it was also a really bad time. She could feel the pressure in her bladder building by the second. Still, if the human’s curiosity was satisfied, she would leave. “Gwyn fears my powers,” she said, positioning her scythe in front of her so that she could press up against it without arousing suspicion. “He calls them the antithesis of life, he thinks them to be dark. Gwyn fears the dark – thus humans were imprisoned.” She shut her eyes tightly and concentrated for a second as a sudden wave of need came over her, but passed after a few seconds without consequence. “Thou art right, we are not dissimilar. And yet still this world is not thine – return to the outside, to thine own business.”                 The human seemed to be caught off-guard by Priscilla’s words. “But I was told to cast away the dark – link the fire and succeed Gwyn.” She shook her head and drank more from her flask, emptying it and leaving its usual cloudy green color visible. “If humanity is dark, then…”                 Priscilla stopped listening as she felt a small leak trail down her leg. She pressed harder with her scythe, hoping the human wouldn’t notice. “H-human,” she said, voice still soft but now with a hint of panic, “return to thy world. Thou art on some quest, and thy quest must be completed.” A fresh trail warmed her leg again.                 The human stood up and nodded. “Yeah, that’s probably for the best.” She stretched, and then said, “And, uh, is there anywhere I could, uh…” The human did a little dance. “Estus goes right through you if you’re not hurt, and there won’t be any good opportunities in Anor Londo…”                 Priscilla was both amazed she had to answer such a question and also that she could still maintain her composure, somewhat. “O-over the side.” She pointed off in some vague direction as yet more urine forced its way out and down her legs – now it was a constant trickle, though a very weak one. If the human could finish up quickly, perhaps Priscilla could get out of this without too much of an issue. Her feet were already a little bit wet and the snow under her already had a decent yellow stain on it, but, still, if she could wait just a little longer she could save most of her dignity.                 That would prove to be difficult, though. The human nodded at her and left to stand by the edge of the tower, out of Priscilla’s line of sight, but she could hear metal striking the ground as the human shed some of her armor. And if she could hear that, then of course she could hear what would inevitably come next. The shuffling of cloth as the human sufficiently disrobed, and then the one thing Priscilla really did not want to hear.                 Just hearing the human’s relief wasn’t that bad on its own – the only sound was of the stream itself, as there was nothing for it to hit against within earshot outside the tower. No, what made it unbearable was the sighs coming from the human herself. Clearly, the human was enjoying herself, and that was the breaking point for Priscilla. The constant trickle turned into a stream, and then she found herself dropping her scythe and falling to her knees as her hold broke completely.                 “Ahh… but, why…” Tears filled her eyes as she let out slight moans of relief. After all, she was sitting there on the floor, wetting herself uncontrollably, with a human nearby. If only the human just listened to her and left. Or, really, why’d the human need to show up at all? Priscilla was supposed to be beyond such things. She wasn’t supposed to act like some human child. And yet there she was, still going strong, now hugging her own tail for some degree of comfort.                 In Priscilla’s mind it was even more humiliating that the human had come over and leaned up against her – which she probably would have tried anyways, considering nearly every part of the Crossbreed’s body was covered in soft white fluff. “It’s okay,” the human said, but Priscilla paid no mind until she had finished. And then she wiped away her tears with her hand, but stayed in her sitting position.                 After a while, she spoke to the human, who was still pressing herself into Priscilla’s side. “What seeketh thee?” There really was no reason for the human to still be there. “I beg of thee, leave me.” She did nothing to force the human to move, and just lifted up the skirt-fluff over her legs to see what had happened. Her legs were wet, but she could feel that, and there was a rather large puddle underneath her. The puddle had reached far enough to soak the skirt-fluff on her backside, creating an uncomfortable moist seat. She quickly put everything back into place, though, once she realized the human was looking as well. “Leave,” Priscilla said again.                 The human looked up at her and nodded. “Alright, but once I have the Lordvessel, I’ll be back.” She hugged Priscilla as well as she could – she was much smaller, after all, so her arms couldn’t reach all the way around the Crossbreed’s body – before heading over to the exit. “This is a lovely painting” were her last words before she jumped off the edge and was carried away by a crow.                 Once the human had been gone for a while, Priscilla stood up and walked over to the edge, looking out at the view. In all honesty, she couldn’t say she didn’t want the human to come back. Solitude was fine, but a little company every so often didn’t hurt – when it was timed right, anyways. She smiled as she looked off into the cold painted horizon. It really was a lovely painting.

Sake