Dark Souls: The Princess and I

Chapter 17 - Nothing

Chapter 17

Nothing

Since time immemorial I have existed, the fulcrum of events far beyond my own ken. While I performed a meaningless task of painful suffering to keep the flame of the world alight others schemed and planned in an endless, never-ending cycle. Gods rose and fell, lived and died, slowly the blood of the ancient diminishing with the speed of a snail upon a hot stone. The ancient consciousness did not wish to remember, its sanity already a faded parchment that threatened to tear at the slightest touch. Better to live, some semblance of my former self, than die a hollowed monster.

“But is that really what you want?” I sat atop a snowy hill overlooking a land of white and grey, long rolling hills bare of trees and covered in the frozen dust of rain, an icy wind cutting through my armor, sky obscured by cloud cover and falling snow. A little girl stood next to me, watching the world with golden eyes that held a deep wisdom far beyond her years beneath a small pair of ivory horns that grew from her eyebrows, the wind plucking at strands of long white hair that hung to her waist over a serpent’s furry tail of white. She tightly clutched a small doll in her arms, the same doll I had retrieved from the Undead Asylum,

“No.” I grunted, “I do not want to forget.” The girl nodded,

“Then why won’t you remember?” The girl sat in my lap, leaning against me and curling her tail around my thigh, “Why do you still stay within your fog? Why will you not stand to fix the world you know has been forever broken?” She looked up at me curiously, golden eyes bright in the subdued light of the cloudy snowfall,

“I am afraid.” The words left a bitter taste in my mouth, “I do not want to die.” Those golden eyes did not waver,

“Nobody wants to die.” She murmured, “That’s just silly.”

“True,” I chuckled humorlessly, “But still I cower.” The girl grabbed my cheeks, kneading my face with her hands,

“Don’t be so hard on yourself,” She chirped, “You’ve had a bad time, nobody’s ever really loved you!” I shook my head, gently taking her wrists into my black gauntlets,

“No, I ha-”

“She didn’t love you.” I blinked, looking down into the dark expression of the girl, “She didn’t love you.” The girl repeated, “You were just used by her, and the gods, they made you love her, forced you to stay with her. I know you hated her deep down.” I frowned,

“Why?”

“Didn’t you think it was weird?” I shook my head, “What do you mean no? Did you think it was love at first sight? Did you think just because two people meet they just suddenly love each other?” Her expression softened, “I’ve watched you for so long,” Tears welled in her eyes, “Watched how much pain and suffering you’ve marched through, the horrors you’ve seen, the people you’ve tried to help, and those that betrayed you.” Lips pressed against my cheek, their touch cold as ice, “You deserve better, so much better.” Darkness began to close upon my mind, “You deserve me.” I fell into the black and landed in a forest of dead trees and light snow.


I groaned curling into a ball as pain, not agonizing but certainly noticeable, stabbed my body with vicious abandon. A massive hole of melted and cracked metal gaped in the chest of my armor, scorch marks covering its black steel. I looked around at cruel and leafless trees that clawed at the pale sky with twisted branches. They reminded me of skeletal hands, reaching up hopefully for the hand of another, waiting for some sort of divine being to descend from the heavens above and take them within its holy embrace, pulling the dilapidated trees up and away from the barren world they inhabited. A light smattering of fallen snow dusted the world in a thin layer of dull white that I would have mistaken as ash if not for the cold bite I felt through my armor from the grayish snow. A cold wind blew the smell of rotting flesh past my nose and ruffled my short hair lightly with wisps of white particles.

Slowly pushing myself up I clutched at the knot of pain in my stomach, struggling to ignore the burning sensation on my face. I leaned against a tree, pressing my forehead against the rough bark finding no comfort upon its unwelcoming surface. I tried to pull the most recent memories from my mind but, to my shock and horror, I hit a wall of white fog that refused to budge no matter how strongly I concentrated or forcefully I heaved at its solid resistance. Snarling ferociously after several moments of failing to disperse the mental barrier I drew my head back and head butted the tree I leaned upon with all my might breaking the dead wood in half as splinters tore at my face, upper half falling with the moan of wood to land in puff of ashen snow. Still the fog remained. I slid down the remains of the, tree dragging a gauntlet down its side I dug the gauntlet’s sharp fingertips into the bark, peeling off long shavings of wood that curled back upon themselves as I slumped to the gray snow. Tear drops of ice fell from my eyes, freezing solid as they met the air, dropping with muted thuds to the snow. An overwhelming sorrow suffocated me, the pain in my dead body amplifying tenfold choking the breath from my lungs and grinding me into the ground with the pain, yet I still did not understand.

Why did I hurt so badly?

I could remember no reason to be such a blubbering mess of self-pity, unable to recall what had so thoroughly beaten and wounded me, in fact who or what, was I? Where was I? The trees unfamiliar and claustrophobic, air pitiless with its frozen winds and pale sky uncaring to the plight I was subject to. I shrank away from this merciless world of gray, pressing against the splintered tree fearfully. Why? Why did it hurt so much, physically and mentally? How had I come to be in this place, where was I from, what had I been doing? Lost, confused, alone, and scared I huddled against the broken tree crying out to the uncaring heavens for answers, receiving none. I remained there for what seemed an eternity, wallowing in my agony and depression as solid tears fell to the snow.

I opened my eyes, lying on my chest in the shallow ashen snow, forest no different from when I had fallen unconscious. Still my body ached but with much less intensity than before, my tears having ceased to leave a cloud of dark emotion hanging over me. I grabbed a handful of snow scrubbing at the crusty mucus that had leaked from my runny nose and solidified around my lips. Standing shakily I used the brutalized tree as support, looking around to spot an exotic blue sword and black shield. I stumbled towards them, falling from tree to tree as I made my way to the weapons. Dropping to my knees with a painful grunt I reached down for the sword, grasping its hilt I instinctively reached back to place it in a sheath I had not realized I carried on my back and to my surprise the blue weapon fit snugly, as if the sheath had been made for it. Next I picked up the shield that seemed to match with the black armor I wore, shield’s surface burned and scarred. Again I tried desperately to think or remember something anything, ever present wall of fog preventing such actions.

I turned my gaze up to look beyond the sky at something I could not see or comprehend, violent emotion building up within me. Sucking in a breath of the cold air that stank of dead flesh, I screamed. Funneling all my rage, sorrow, pain, and confusion into the act I screamed until my throat turned raw, lungs emptied, ears ringing and the scream faded. Breath heavy, I could hear my voice echoing in the distance, as if another shared my tumultuous emotions.

Firmly gripping a tree trunk I got to my feet, knees threatening to buckle as I straightened, grunting and moaning. Once stable I studied the desolate forest and gray sky for some signs of life, perhaps some smoke or firelight. Eyesight somewhat blurry I could only perceive gray snow, dead trees, and an empty sky. Exhaling in an effort to calm my nerves, slowly inhaling after a moment, I felt myself relax, fog still keeping the voice of my mind silent. Setting my jaw in determination, I took a step, knee giving way as my foot met the ground I collapsed with a pitiful yelp. Sprawled on the ground and face buried in snow I could not find a reason to bother standing up.

I could not remember. Why did whatever it was that kept me moving matter if I could not remember there was something to remember? Was there even anything to remember or was I just forgetting there was nothing? Why did I care so greatly for something obviously unimportant seeing as I had forgotten? What was so inconsequential yet greatly influential? What pulled me to my feet and pushed me through the dead forest? What was it the fog could hide from me behind its swirling barrier? What made me so frantic, so desperate, and so grieved that I had lost it? Soul breaking, body aching, and mind forsaking, I lay there.

Exhaling slowly into the snow I relaxed.

If I had forgotten then it wasn’t important. Nothing mattered anyway I was just a thing with no reason to exist, no point questioning why I existed. There was nothing to remember because there was nothing. I was nothing. A nothing caught within this world consumed by nothing at all aside from the trees that reached pleadingly to the heavens and gray snow of ash. I had everything a nothing like me needed here. There was no point in moving, no logic in trying. What could I, a nothing, do anyway? Nothing.

So why was I standing up?

Gritting my teeth and gasping for air I clawed up a nearby trunk and stood on my own two feet glaring out into the forest. Determination burned brightly in my silent heart of ice despite the dark emotions that yearned to smother it and I pushed off the tree, hands flailing for support as balance abandoned me, weak legs trembling beneath the weight of my armor, and crashed once again to the snow.

It didn’t matter.

I pushed myself up.

Nothing mattered.

I clawed at another tree.

I was nothing.

I planted my feet on the ground.

A nothing who did as he was told.

I walked forward, tripping over my own feet.

Just give in, little nothing.

I caught myself, trying to see past the trees.

You have everything here for a nothing.

I stumbled through the forest pushing off from tree to tree I stumbled through the forest.

You have nothing to remember.

I focused on putting boot in front of the other, each step taking a lifetime to complete, movements sluggish and strained as if I dragged a ten-ton boulder behind me.

You don’t need to move.

The trees began to thin, air smelling less of rotten flesh.

This is your place of nothing.

My limbs became lighter.

This is what you deserve, nothing.

The fog began to clear.

You are nothing.

I could see a castle.

YOU ARE NOTHING!

I burst from the trees, gasping as I fell to my knees and broke through the fog.

CHOSEN UNDEAD!

On one side a fifteen-foot-tall Angel wielding a spear of flame, huge wings of white feathers sprouting from his back and bright glittering exotic plate mail that outshone the sun’s own light adorned his body, face obscured by a masterfully made winged helmet depicting the head of an eagle.

On the other, a twenty-foot-tall woman carried by wings of flame wielded a shield that burned like a furious firestorm while in her other hand was gripped a sword of white-hot metal. Her armor burned with blue flames, metal plates beneath shimmering silver, hair a maelstrom of fire, and eyes crisp green gemstones. To look upon her was to witness the true embodiment of rage and fury.

The two gods spoke, above me the goddess of fury and flame, their words shaking the very air, humbling me with their beautiful voices. I could not move, could not speak. I watched with dead eyes as the goddess attacked the Angel, deftly cutting off a wing and burying her sword of fiery death in his chest reducing him to ash. Turning to me, carried by wings of flame, the goddess alighted to lean over me. Reaching down she lifted me to her breast with silver arms of blue fire. I did not feel the flame’s heat. The goddess spoke, my deaf ears unable to hear her, golden tears of sunlight falling from her jade eyes. She vanished in flame and I fell into an abyssal dark.

“Orlai.” I hissed. Jumping up I sprinted towards the large ruins of the castle, shambling figures marching across its walls. I sped towards a long suspension bridge, on a whim casting a glance back over my shoulder at the trees. For a split second I thought I saw a short shadow, the black shape gone as I blinked. Frustrated by my distraction the ancient mind of black ice yanked my strings again and I focused on reaching the bridge as quickly as possible. Stopping at its start I studied the frayed ropes, ancient and brittle planks, and the ocean of white clouds floating below. Unease churned my stomach, a one-way ticket to certain death if the planks gave out before I crossed. The ancient mind pushed me roughly and I stepped onto the bridge, the two of us crying out as the wood shattered we dropped down through the clouds.


I groaned curling into a ball as pain, not agonizing but certainly noticeable, stabbed my body with vicious abandon. A massive hole of melted and cracked metal gaped in the chest of my armor, scorch marks covering its black steel. I looked around at cruel and leafless trees that clawed at the pale sky with twisted branches. They reminded me of skeletal hands, reaching up hopefully for the hand of another, waiting for some sort of divine being to descend from the heavens above and take them within its holy embrace, pulling the dilapidated trees up and away from the barren world they inhabited. A light smattering of fallen snow dusted the world in a thin layer of dull white that I would have mistaken as ash if not for the cold bite I felt through my armor from the grayish snow. A cold wind blew the smell of rotting flesh past my nose and ruffled my short hair lightly with wisps of white particles.

I could not remember….

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