Chapter 28 - Broken Walls
A large cylindrical room I recognized faintly. Marble walls encircled the Bonfire, continuous circle of knights reminiscent of those guarding the palace stood at attention ringing around the bottom of the walls. Behind and opposite me were two tall entryways, one at my back that lead out to a spinning stairwell I had used to enter, the other in front a long stairwell leading down. A dilapidated body slumped against the left side of the doorway to my front wearing a single golden ring on its finger.
Stepping away from the Bonfire and over several marble slabs inscribed in words I did not care to read I crouched over the body. Face unrecognizable skin pulled tight over the little remaining flesh and protruding bones, sightless sockets stared down at the marble floor between it crossed legs. Jaw unhinged its expression was gaunt and soulless. Grasping the hand with the ring I carefully slid it off, holding the thing up to my eyes. Simple and worn with time the golden band reflected the Bonfire’s light dully and, strangely enough, a deep sadness leaked from it, though beneath the sadness was a distant pride.
Lord Gwyn’s firstborn, who inherited the
sunlight, once wore this ancient ring.
Lord Gwyn’s firstborn was a god of war,
but his foolishness led to a loss of the
annals, and rescinding of his deific status.
Today, even his name is not known.
Whispered a quiet voice hidden somewhere out of mind. I stared at the ring, a deep muted chord struck on ancient heartstrings from the trinket. It too, like this room, felt familiar. Gauntlet closing over the ring memories flared bright beyond the walls of my mind, flashing in the depths of terrible dark that I dare not test. This ring was dear to me. How or why I could not explain, but it did not matter. Thinking was dangerous, emotion only capable of ending in pain. Single-minded action would bring about a solution.
Dropping the ring to the floor I peered down the stairs at a doorway filled with white fog. Brow furrowing I straightened, descending the steps cautiously where I found a crimson carpet trimmed gold laid out before the fog door. Four candles set in a square burned at the front of the carpet in some humble sort of shrine or other place of worship.
Attention turning to the fog door I stepped up to the barrier, striding over the shrine without heed for its preservation. Whenever I sighted a door such as this it typically meant it was a path meant for the Chosen Undead to tread, a direction expected to be traveled. Every fog door lead to something meaningful.
Action already delayed long enough by useless thought I stepped through.
Inside stretched a long moonlit hallway, pillars that rose from the floor to the ceiling lining either side. Statues of knights with swords held high and angled forward adorned each pillar, as if guarding the hall. All was silent.
“Heretic.” I instantly recognized that voice, “First thou offendeth the Godmother, and now thou see fit to trample upon the tomb of the Great Lord.” I had heard this voice once before, not just in the chamber of the Princess, but at the beginning. Voices hissed, walls cracked, “I am the Dark Sun, Gwyndolin!”
In one instant eternity flew past, forwards or backwards I could not say, and a dream smothered reality.
"For thine punishment thee shalt be kindling to Flame, thine power sealed.” I lay on a white slab, large orb colored the darkest of black hovering above my chest, “And so it shalt be til time’s end.” A frail figure clad in white and silhouetted by the moon hovered over me. The upper half of its head above the nose hidden by a ridiculous seven pointed star mask of pure gold, “Chosen Undead.”
The dream wavered and I faced the same figure as in the dream. Slender and help up by slick black tentacles that protruded from beneath her robe, Gwyndolin pointed a frail finger of accusation,
“Let the atonement for thy felonies commenceth!” Hall’s end vanishing in a flurry of white flecks, revealing an endless stretch and a frail figure clad in white, I stood stock still. Frozen in shock, fighting against raging voices that suddenly screamed inside my skull, dreams took me once more.
"We will make them see brother.” A man of resounding brass and courageous appearance boomed, armor gleaming with the light of a true sun, “We will make this right.” I nodded, diminutive in size compared to the great man, my armor dull and rusted,
"Thank you,” I reply, “This kindness shall never be forgotten.”
Outside the dream I watched numbly as the figure of white raised its hands to let loose a sphere of light flying towards my chest with blinding speed. Body unresponsive and mind jumbled by the sudden memories and thoughts that slipped through walls I’d believed impervious I could only look on as death bore down upon me.
"For thine transgression,” Spoke the frail figure masked by a golden star, “Thine status is revoked.” The man clad in armor of true sun cried out, incandescent light fading, “Never to be returned, thee shalt be erased from time, past, present, and future.” The man reached out to me, white figure looming over him,
"Brother,” and was gone.
A claw of black steel rose to meet the white orb, breaking it into wispy fog that drifted past the hooded head of something Dark,
"Child of the False Sun," Growled the hooded figure, voice reverberating endlessly through the moonlight hall, ”Keeper of the hallow city," Night dimming, the two figures of white and black stared one-another down, ”Bastard son of the Deceiver." The Dark rumbled, Gwyndolin inching back drew a large blow gun, tentacles twitching nervously, ”You speak of felonies?!" Vanishing, the black figure reappeared before Gwyndolin, abyssal smoke billowing from him, ”I speak of atrocities!" Armored limbs seeming to stretch and warp two terrible lights appeared beneath the abominations hood, gaze fastening on the figure of white.
“Villain,” Gwyndolin shot back, “Thine taint shalt persist no longer!” Gwyndolin vanished in a puff of white ash, teleporting several hundred feet back where he fired a massive column of power down the hall at the Dark. However the hooded man was already gone.
"Foolish boy," Hissed a voice. Steel fingers closed around Gwyndolin’s neck from behind as black goo swelled up from the floor, swallowing his tentacles and retraining him in disgusting jelly, “You are but a sheep too poorly dressed to look a proper wolf." Chuckled the Dark, ”Shaking like a frail lamb before me I can naught but end," Tendrils pulled Gwyndolin close and the Dark reached out a black claw. A jagged talon sliced down the pale skin of Gwyndolin’s cheek, drawing a single drop of blood that hung at the tip of the steel talon, ”Is at hand."
“Curse you,” Gwyndolin hissed, struggling to pull away from the Dark as it smoothly wrapped an arm around his waist, pressing close, “This shall not go unpunished!” Turning Gwyndolin’s head the Dark huddled close, spheres of white boring into the god’s own golden eyes as if the sun mask covering Gwyndolin’s face was nonexistent. The Dark hovered centimeters from the god’s lips,
"Oh," Cooed the Dark behind its mask, removing Gwyndolin’s golden headpiece with a rank limb of goo, ”It won’t my boy." Deceptively feminine, Gwyndolin’s golden glimmering eyes glared defiantly beneath the shadowed hood into the spheres of white. Soft lips curving back in a ferocious snarl Gwyndolin bravely stared down the incarnation of evil,
“The Daughter born of true fire shall banish thine horrendous self, beast!” He declared chin rising up, steady eyes glaring down his nose and expression firm, “I fear not death, that I have already long been denied! I would relish such a boon!”
"Truly?" The great deity asked sarcastically, talons tightening around Gwyndolin’s neck, ”How little you know, how little you see, how little you are," It sneered, ”Yet think yourself a god?" Deep laughter shook existence, truth shuddering beneath power that rivaled gods. The Dark threw back its head, shape twisting, ”IF GODS EXIST IN HONEST," It jeered in a booming voice arms held high to the heavens, ”THEN SO TOO DO THOSE THAT CHALLENGE THEM!" Time and reality warped complete darkness swallowing the endless hall and Gwyndolin. Peering cautiously into the abyss, realizing he was no longer restrained, the god stood carefully, “Arrogance," Boomed that which knew itself as Fate. Feathered wings sprouting from its back, face hidden behind black cloth, an angel draped in midnight rose from the Abyss in front of the small frail god, ”To think one self above fate." Gwyndolin’s eyes bulged, head shaking side to side in disbelief,
“Nito?! What doth transpire in thee?” The small god asked. Shrouded head tilting forward, the angel’s voice hissed,
"Nameless are we who hunt the Ascendant. We are not false, despicable, and vile, the lie you call Nito a traitor to us Nameless." The angel whispered, “Purpose our creed, death our need." Pearly white and practically shining in the unbreakable darkness beneath its hood, a skull grinned down at the boy called Gwyndolin, ”Timeless and free we thirst for the blood of thee.” Obscure shapes gained form in the dark, phantoms of white mist, ”Once again shall the roles be changed, no longer we the ones deranged." Ghostly and transparent a circle of twisted figures surrounded the lone Gwyndolin, ”This," The angel continued, reaching a claw towards the boy, ”Is as it has always been."
“No.” A clear tone sounded as if a small bell struck sharply in a cavern echoing with power greater than its size. The angel of death and small boy turned to a hooded man among the ghostly figures. Armor scorched black eyes muddy brown he stood squarely, studying the two gods calmly. The circle split before the man as he strode closer, phantoms fading back into the dark before iron will and steel courage, “No.” The man growled,
The angel twitched suddenly, wavering beneath power greater than its own, ”BEGONE!" It screeched dark waxing and waning in the presence of the man, ”YOU CANNOT STOP FATE!" Throwing Gwyndolin back with a swipe from its great wings, the angel fell to its knees, aura shrinking. The endless hall gradually reappeared, moonlight breaking through the abyss, ”YOU CANNOT DENY THE INEVITABLE!" Screaming, claws tearing at its skull the angel wailed furiously at the man, ”YOU ARE NOTHING!” Roaring in futile rage as the moonlight burned its form away shredding the massive being into dark flecks, the angel vanished replaced by the man. Head slowly rising, eyes abyssal pits glaring out from beneath his hood, the man calmly exhaled air frozen solid by death’s grip,
“No.” He declared. Climbing steadily to his feet the man in black, face masked, eyes betraying white hot emotion, growled threateningly, “I am no god.” Reaching back, the man drew a sword Gwyndolin instantly recognized as Artorias’ Great Sword, “I am undead.”
Seizing the god by the throat I slammed Gwyndolin against the wall with a snarl,
“I remember,” The god writhed, face twisted in pain, “You did this to me, you began this cycle, you help continue this cycle, how many times have you seen its end?! Tell me!” I roared, shaking the boy I threw him roughly against the wall several times, not waiting for a response, “Who is the man of the sun and why did he call me brother?!” I swung my sword, drilling the hilt into Gwyndolin’s stomach he guffawed, vomiting on my arm, “What did we do, what punishment were you speaking of, what did we try to fix?!” I pulled Gwyndolin away from the wall, hammering him violently against it several more times, “Why has all this been happening, what started everything in the first place?! Who is Orlai, who is the woman in brass, who are the people I always meet and why are they here, who are the undead, the gods, WHO AM I?!" I shook the god to and fro, shoving him brutally down to the floor, ”WHO AM I?!” Straddling him I seized the front of his dress with one gauntlet, tearing the cloth, and dealt several blows to his jaw with the steel fist before hauling him up to blazing eyes,
"WHO AM I?!
Face broken and bruised, channels of blood pouring down his face, Gwyndolin coughed weakly. Eyes barely open breathing labored he looked up, blood oozing over my armor.
It was cold.
I stared at the undead caught in my claws, gazing into its golden irises of hollow will and empty life. Slowly, grudgingly, the eyes of Gwyndolin dimmed to black pits and revealed what I had always known in the infinite depths I called my mind. The girlish and frail boy I had been beating ferociously despite his slim feminine body was undead. Claws disengaging the boy fell, head banging loudly on the white marble floor. A wall of white ash blew past from deeper within the endless hall in a thick cloud that dissipated after a moment, giving way to a room not twenty feet down the hall. Stuffing thought and logic into a tight jar at the back of my mind I grabbed the undead’s ankle and dragged him after, walking into the room.
Large and gray a rectangle of inscribed marble rose up from the floor above a double-layer of stairs within a massive open room. Thoughtlessly pulling Gwyndolin down the stairs I ignored his pained squeaks and moans as he bounced down the steps. Stopping at the center of the room at the foot of the stairs leading up to the inscribed marble I took the room in.
Three chests sat along the strange slab, one in the center, and one on both sides. Three large arching windows rose overhead in the back wall, while two sets paralleled on another in the two walls to my left and right. There were little to no decorations, aside from one or two pots, only the pale marble that made up the room. Air stale as if untouched for centuries or longer I could almost feel the dust that hung in the air, slightly surprised that I wasn’t choking to death from it all.
Releasing the undead’s leg, whom laid motionless, I opened the chests finding the same set of Brass armor the woman called Darkmoon had worn, plus the miracle “Sunlight Blade,” while the third chest was empty. Shrugging at the barren chest indifferently, I returned to the undead crouching over the wretched thing,
“Speak,” I spat, “Or do you want to die slowly?” I viciously brought my great sword down next to one of his legs. Flat of the blade touching its gray skin the thing reacted with a single twitch.
Silence pervaded the room.
Irritated I drove a boot down on one of his arms breaking it in two. Screaming and writhing Gwyndolin wept, cradling the broken arm as tears mixed with blood, pooling beneath his head,
“…kill…me….” He hissed, hollow eyes locking upon my own. Furious anger roared behind the black mask over my face and any inkling of curiosity was consumed by blind vengeance. Reaching into the bottomless box I pulled out a large, burning flame. Eyes bulging in terror Gwyndolin’s already pale face became pure white, thin lips almost vanishing as he pursed them together in a vain attempt not to scream. Noticing the reaction I held it well in view,
“You know the Chaos Flame?” I jeered relishing the horrified understanding in his eyes, “I figured the irony would be enough to kill but apparently not.” I channeled primal fire, seizing its uncontrollable rage and bending it to become the embodiment of my own. The fire in my hands swelled to light the room, growing past my head as it gained strength from passionate raw emotion. Gwyndolin’s eyes squeezed shut and he turned his head away, whispering words I didn’t bother heed, “You hide in the dark of your eyes, running from fire?” I accused, “What poetic hypocrisy.” The flame exploded outwards, swathing the entire room and consuming the boy at my feet.
For about thirty seconds I patiently watched the supposed god scramble and scream.
Raw agony tearing forth from its throat, it stood for a few steps stumbling steps, fell and rolled frantically on the tiled floor before repeating the process over at least four or five times. The frenzied movement was even more clumsy and disgusting thanks to its broken limbs. Then, flames still burning strong, the body fell still.
Standing straight I stared at the motionless corpse, its fires dying down. Blackened flesh smoldering and rank, it was hardly any different from those forever burning impaled on stakes in the Undead Parish.
With a tired sigh I stiffly eased myself down to the ground, sitting back and feeling the warmth of the flames. Stench of burning flesh pervading the room I could not look away from the slowly dying flames. While not living, therefore most likely not a god, I had finally killed a member of the dogmatic bastards that damned me to Lordran and taken Orlai.
The dark mist receded, bloodlust fading, raging vengeance losing steam as I slid back into the icy body that danced upon string. Judgment returned, bringing with it logic and a very unhappy conscience. Growling, voices beginning to work their way through the aftermath of my slaughter, I pulled the hood far over my head, eyes closing. I had lost myself in emotion and acted brashly yet again. Still I remembered.
Fortress walls broken, darkness beyond now fully aware of me and I fully aware of it, memories soaked in gradually. Pictures and images of varying clarity and context though steady and calm in their flow I felt overwhelmed, cowering in the shadows of my hood as broken and disjointed memories flashed.
White clouds floated beneath, warm breeze swirling through short hair, bright blue sky stretching over a mortal world far below, shimmering palace of golden sunlight huddled high in the clouds above.
I moaned, emotions flowing,
Throne atop a high staircase, countless heroes and heroines joined by great beasts of legend and wise deities possessing knowledge greater than any, an everlasting king that sat upon the throne above those assembled in the great hall of legend. He spoke of truth and the subjects whom he gave his soul for the cause of balance called forth lies spoken by his greatest heroes.
Numb, I felt as if I was drowning in a glacial sea,
Vitality pulsed, warm blood flowing through toned muscles of mortal flesh. A voice spoke, plain and clear,
"Traitor." Blood spewed forth and icy immortality took hold, frozen in time as death delayed its price indefinitely.
The world spun, bright lights burning across my vision in golden rays that obscured the moonlit marble room with blinding sun.
"Bearer of the Dark Soul,” A woman stood over me, hair flaming red, eyes jade green and skin tanned a long scar scrawled across her beautiful face. In one hand she held a sword of sunlight covered in bubbling red blood, silver armor battered by war and combat encasing a body I had grown to know well,
"Holder of hope,” Warm hand brushing my cheek I felt the touch of metal, the ice that gripped my body thawing ever so slightly she smiled sadly. Eyes tortured by a sorrow even I did not dare pretend to understand the woman’s expression was that of agonized futility, as if helplessly watching the end of the world,
"Guardian of my Heart,” Tears fell from the jade eyes and onto my cheeks, crawling down my bare face as divine angels flew above battling beasts of black fire,
"You must undo this terrible future.” Massive buildings of sunlight towered above silhouetted from a blue sky marred by thick plumes of black smoke billowing from mortal wounds carved into the city, blood ran through the streets in rivers.
Gasping for air, chest tight and body leaden I lay sprawled on the marble floor panting as reality suddenly snapped back. Crawling weakly across the room I grasped the handle of Artorias’ Great sword, cradling it with arms shivering in fear. The fortress had fallen, beasts kept out now raging free within its keep. I felt their influence, heard voices in place of my own. Thoughts spoke quietly, images floating directly past my consciousness, each more jarring and impossible than the next, yet none lied.
Hiccupping loudly as tears dripped onto the blue steel of Artorias’ blade I wailed, letting loose the uncertainty and doubt I’d so stoutly kept sealed away. Crying as the agony so long stifled finally drew its turn I hugged the sword tightly. The Darkness closed in.
I missed Orlai, traveling with her had been the highlight of this eternal world I tended to. She would talk while I listened occasionally adding something but mostly letting the wonder of her words awe me into curious silence as I entertained childish day dreams. Acceptance and love, not my mental instability or mindless dedication to action, were the only concerns I faced.
Freed of my apathetic and soulless trek through endless repetition I dared lower walls build from millenniums of pain. I had stretched wings rotted and decayed, flying closer to the sun that any ever had, and now found myself strangled by Darkness I’d never known.
Before Orlai I never dreamed, never thought beyond the box I existed within, never strayed beyond the path I always walked. Every day had been the same, no surprises or horrors, no rewards or happiness, just simple life or death. It only now occurred to me how fortunate I was to be ignorant of a thing called happiness. To have loved and lost was much more crushing than not to have loved at all.
Above all though, the fear unsettled me most. I was afraid of being alone, never regaining what I had lost, afraid of this terrible infatuation for Orlai that lead me to so mindlessly slaughter. Bulldozing over any and all that dared stand in my way I did not understand what had caused such a fixation.
Claws gripping my skull I wished to smother the voices. Some yelled thoughts they claimed were my own, beliefs and truths obvious in their reality while others clamored for repent, roared for retribution, demanded fo-
“Hello?” I looked up at a woman. Brunette hair bound together in a pony tail that hung behind her back, face gleaming softly in the moonlight and bright blue eyes shimmering she watched me, curiously glancing at the burning body. A name surfaced, and the voices quieted somewhat as ceaseless agony that had taken my silent heart faded to a dull ache,
“Ilyena.” I whispered.