Chapter 34 - The Four Kings
Crestfallen was missing. Usually when I ventured down to New Londo, both Bells of Awakening rung, I found his hollowed self just a short distance from the lift down from Firelink shrine. Now standing just before the bridge into the city with Laurentius and Ilyena there was no sign of the sad warrior,
“Nameless?” Ilyena asked stepping closer to me, “Is something the matter?” I shrugged, scanning the path for hints. Ground undisturbed, no signs of struggle, and a lack of blood or any discarded belongings, I couldn’t discern a reason for the warrior’s absence assuming he was alive.
Laurentius leaned over the edge looking curiously down into the depths of the lake. I stepped over and grabbed the man’s shoulder. Jumping in surprise the pyromancer, jerked his head to face me,
“Gods,” Laurentius muttered looking somewhat shaken, “You startled me.”
“Don’t.” I warned,
“Don’t what?” He cocked an eyebrow, “Don’t look? Then say so don’t just go and grab people. You scared the-” He suddenly smiled and exclaimed, “You scared the life out of me!” Ilyena groaned, Laurentius beaming at me,
“Pyromancer could you please pay attention to the situation?” She sighed with a headshake, “We don’t have time for such awful attempts at humor.” I blinked, releasing Laurentius to look sidelong at Ilyena. When had there been a joke?
“Awful?” Laurentius snapped, “At least I’m trying!” Arms crossed he sucked his teeth at Ilyena, “After all ma’am what sin is there in trying to find humor down in this gods forsaken cave?” Forcing myself to ignore their talk of gods I focused on the conversation itself trying to follow. When had there had been a joke and why had it offended Ilyena? From what had been said there seemed to be no insults. I found it frustrating I was so ignorant to most social interactions,
“Your humor is a sin,” Ilyena snorted, “The mindless corpses at the lift had better delivery.” Laurentius rolled his eyes and turned to me,
“I never asked why we were here.” He grunted scowling. Ilyena took a breath but I held up a hand silencing her,
“Yes.” I nodded to Laurentius, “I am sorry.” Clearing my throat I stood a little straighter, “We are here to kill the Four Kings. A Primo-” I stumbled over the word, “Primor-” Again I could not pronounce the word, “Serpent.” I managed, “A Serpent informed me that,” I stifled a cough, vocal chords protesting, “by defeating the Four Kings again he would answer my questions.” The two undead stared at me,
“Wait,” Ilyena this time, “You know multiple Primordial Serpents?” How could she pronounce it?
“Yes.” I replied,
“Alright,” Ilyena said slowly, “And what questions do you have?”
“How do I reach the gods.” Their eyebrows shot up, jaws disengaging,
“The gods?” Laurentius sputtered, “But what in Flame could you want to see them for?” Tensing I considered the dangers in telling them,
“They took something from me.” They both frowned and asked in unison,
“What?” I did not answer. Ilyena bowed her head,
“I apologize Chosen, I did not mean to offend.” She offered and Laurentius nodded in agreement,
“We just want to know.” He added,
“I must kill the Four Kings again,” I grunted dismissively, “That is all.”
“Again?” They blurted. I bit my lip,
“Yes,” I grated. Ilyena and Laurentius looked at one-another,
“But,” Ilyena questioned turning back to me, “How can that be?”
“I have done so many times in the cycle.”
“To link the Flame.” I answered, “I have done this since the very beginning.” Ilyena appeared to be the most affected by this,
“You’ve linked the Flame already? And multiple times?” She whispered incredulously, “But if such is the case how is the curse not banished humanity restored the undead healed? How has nothing been,” She hesitated, “How is everything not fixed?”
“You are both part of the cycle.” I explained rubbing my throat tenderly, “I know nothing else of your roles aside from what you know. I must speak to the wizard Ingward atop the church to break the seal.” I gestured to the lake and coughed, “Then enter the Abyss to destroy them.” A small realization came to me, “Alone.”
“Alone?!” Laurentius yelped, “Then why bring us?!”
“I…” I didn’t want to go alone. Once I could act without emotion or fear but now with the destruction and reconstruction of my mind after the Dark killed Gwyndolin I was not nearly as hollow as I had once been. Thoughts sparked bringing forth ideas, opinions, emotions. To think I had assured Ilyena of her humanity not so long ago and now I struggled with the same process. Of course I’d had more time, since what little personality I had broke free during the fight with Gwyndolin. I sighed, “I am afraid.” The words echoed through the cavern and the voices of New Londo grew louder taunting me. Barriers broken, a beast running rampant, voices whispering terrible truths, my true self. What held control now was something more intelligent, more human, yet not. This self I existed as now, that fought against what was very possibly my true self, could not accept the beast. Such a blind, emotional,hateful thing, I refused to accept it as me. I was better than that wasn’t I? I shook my head vigorously, thought was dangerous,
“Why?” Ilyena fired indignantly, “You are the Chosen! You possess the power to kill gods, heroes, abominations, beasts,” She cut a hand through the air dramatically, “You saved me when a god could not, you triumph when all others have fallen, none have been able to defeat you! Still you feel fear? Still you hesitate? Still you question your own will and strength? I find this hard to understand, even more so when you say you have done all these things over and over? You are unstoppable!” I could not look her in the eyes,
“I am sorry,” I murmured. Ilyena bristled and stepped in front of me,
“What happened to the man who stood against a Primordial Serpent in my defense?” She snarled, “The man who brought night to Anor Londo where the sun never sets?” She grabbed my shoulders and shook me violently, “Will you stop trying to convince yourself you are useless and for once stand for yourself?” Laurentius watched in conflicted silence, “I pledged my life to you Nameless,” She insisted, “Because in the centuries I have watched over this land only you,” She planted a finger on my chest, “Have ever made a difference. Countless came before you but never have any of them so greatly changed Lordran and the lives of its people.” Her crystal blue eyes fixed upon my own sparkling in the gloom. She took my hand into her own, “No one has changed anything except you. Do you understand Nameless?” For better or worse? The words caught in my throat, unable to be spoken, and why did I care if it was for better or worse? This was for Orlai not Lordran. Gauntlets clenching I bobbed my head dumbly. Stop thinking, “Good.” She snapped, “And should you falter do not forget that I stand at your side. I will always believe in you, always support you. I do this not just out of duty or pride but because it is my choice and belief.” Pressing a hand to her chest Ilyena straightened and looked me in the eye, “My Truth.” Sparks flew in my chest,
“I don’t know about all this talk about gods and heroes,” Laurentius muttered stepping awkwardly next to Ilyena, “But after all you’ve done for me I’m the same.” He grasped my other hand, “It may not be much but I offer you my Flame until it is nothing but ash. Nobody has ever cared so much at all for a pyromancer like me until you.” Ilyena and Laurentius regarded one another a moment before he looked back at me, “I’m with you Nameless.” The pyromancer declared.
The water rippled, ground shaking. Jerking around to face the city I drew my greatsword but froze mid-draw. I could see, on the far end of the cave, gates opening to bright light, surface of the lake beginning to decline. Why the seal had been released without me? Had the old man done it himself or had he given it to another? Had he been killed and the key been taken? Was there another trying to kill the Kings? What would happen if they killed them first? Were they friend or foe? Was it the gods or a follower of theirs or was it the gods themselves? Perhaps it was something else entirely? I had to move quickly,
“Go back to Firelink.” I ordered. Ilyena practically exploded,
“Go back!?” She boomed drawing Estoc, “After what just happened?! I fight with you Nameless!”
“So do I.” Laurentius declared flames crackling in his hands. I ground my teeth, glancing between the draining water and stubborn undead. Shield raised and greatsword at the ready I jogged onto the ramshackle wooden walkway into New Londo,
“Follow if you dare.” I said over my shoulder to the two undead already trailing a few steps behind. I screeched to a halt suddenly, Laurentius and Ilyena slamming into my back with surprised yelps. Quickly snatching several Transient Curse’s from the bottomless box I pressed them into their hands,
“Use these.” I ordered breaking one in a gauntlet. An aura of white fog formed around my head, skin prickling. To my relief Laurentius and Ilyena obeyed without question using their respective curses. Crossing the remainder of the walkway onto a raised stone floor of some sort a set of stairs lead up the far side to the massive chapel above. We crossed to the stairs unhindered and walked up, no phantoms attacking even as we crossed a stone bridge inside. Entering through a short stone archway I stopped surveying the interior. To my left a short hallway that lead to a lift and lever ahead a room of jars and urns. I glanced back at the apprehensive Ilyena and Laurentius just behind me. Phantoms should’ve been flooding out of the floor and walls. What was keeping them? Had they been destroyed or were they waiting for something? If I just took the hall to my left and went down the lift I’d be skipping a significant chunk of the journey. It could be a trap.
I turned to the left and walked to the lift platform ready and waiting. Hadn’t it originally been down below? Again I looked back at Laurentius and Ilyena, expressions anxious but stalwart. Stepping inside, Laurentius and Ilyena silently joining me, I planted a boot on the button in the center of the lift. Gears rumbling it ground down several meters before halting at a stout stone doorway. I walked out into a stone courtyard. Stables or some other sort of wooden structures lined the walls, wood soaked and rotten, air significantly heavier. Things still whispered just beyond my hearing, shadows darted, stone slick with green slime everything was the exact same as the last time I’d passed through. Yet where were the enemies? The Wraiths should have been here, skull-faced humanoids twice my size adorned in armor of bone and black cloth. Even the massive amorphous blob of black ooze that gave birth to those exploding heads was missing,
“What’s wrong?” Laurentius’ face was white as snow, eyes flitting about warily, fists clenched in apprehension. The man seemed so tense a boulder might’ve cracked under similar pressure. Ilyena held Estoc close, sweat and condensation dripping down her face, breathing short and quick, she appeared much more ready for what lay ahead. Poised to strike, a viper waiting for prey to step within range of its deadly bite, she would kill without hesitation. I ignored the question, pressing on. We slunk through the waterlogged city as quietly as we were able and not a single foe made themselves known to us. Passing through empty streets and rancid buildings there were no signs of life, dead or alive, though we did not dare lower our guard. Eyes unseen watched from the shadows. I could feel their fetid gaze on my back.
For an hour or so we marched until we reached an outcrop that ran below the length of the tall chapel we had first entered. Blinding light startled us as we stepped from the chapel basement and, squinting against the light, the three of us looked out over massive piles of soaking corpses. A pair of gigantic doors lay open to a valley outside, pale rays of sunlight cutting into the evil veil of dark within. A short distance away, at the outcrops end, sat a stout tower. On its side I could see a fog door,
“No.” Laurentius fell to his knees on the wet stone. Tears crawled down his horrified face, “Look at them all.” He murmured, “So many dead. Why? Why did they all die? How?” I winced, eyeing the gigantic corpse piles that filled the courtyard below each several meters tall. I never gave them too much thought in the past having been forced to climb over them. Only an atrocity of impossible magnitude could leave so many dead but I did not let the thought weigh too heavily on me. So much death already plagued Lordran these were just another reminder, nothing to think too much about,
“Who did this?” Ilyena snarled in fury, “Who?” She grabbed my shoulder, “Do you know?” I shrugged,
“They may have died when the seal was made.” I guessed. Ilyena scoffed,
“Who is truly the monster,” She growled looking back at the bodies, “One who seeks to rampage and kill, or one allows so many to die in order to halt it?” I remained silent. We did not know the circumstances, who or what these people were, why or how they died, it was not our place to judge. Still though I wondered as I always had. Had these people given their lives willingly or simply been innocents caught in the crossfire? Had they been evil and tainted as well? Perhaps this was a mass burial, submerged in water rather than buried or burned? I did not know any local burial rites or if there even were any in Lordran. This could be punishment for betrayal, or a testament to humanity’s hubris and stupidity when tasted with its own self-preservation. In fact, I wouldn’t have been surprised if the gods were to blame. No thought or estimation of mine would bring them back or change their situation, best to keep moving. Sheathing my sword and shield I walked down the outcrop to the tower eyes on the fog door,
“Nameless!” Ilyena called running after, “How can you ignore this? How can you look the other way? This is genocide!”
“The present cannot solve the past.” I growled. Ilyena balked and worked her jaw for several seconds,
“But we must avenge them!” She shouted desperately, “We are heroes, ones who stand for good, we can make a difference! We-” I kept walking. Turning onto a short bridge to the fog door a gloved hand grabbed my arm and yanked me around to face Ilyena her expression twisted with pain, “If you can save Gwyndolin’s most faithful Darkmoon and destroy Lordran’s greatest illusion,” She snarled, “Why refuse to even try to do anything for these people?” Laurentius joined, his own expression pitiful and pleading. I scowled at them,
“Do what,” I spat, “Bury? Burn? Do not pity their failure.” I yanked free of Ilyena and pulled two homeward bones from my bag, “Break these, see you at Firelink.”
“Firelink?” Ilyena sniffed, “Where are you going?” I jerked a thumb at the fog door and Ilyena looked past me,
“The wall? There’s nothing there.” I had never asked an undead if they could see fog doors. No reason to think they could ever,
“Break.” I ordered, pressing the bones into their hands. Laurentius, eyes on the corpse piles, broke it immediately but Ilyena delayed. Head down, hands balled at her sides the undead knight gave me the impression of a small child. She didn’t speak at first instead glaring at her boots,
“Is this it? Was this a test we failed?” She asked head turning slightly to the bodies, “You knew these were here and wished to see our reaction?” I remained silent. Straightening Ilyena looked through the open gates at large blue wyverns basking in sunlight just outside, “How long will you be?” She snapped,
“I don’t know.” Ilyena twitched gripping the Homeward bone tightly,
“I am your faithful knight,” Her hands shook, “You sword and shield. I will fight with you until the end.” Head snapping to me, ponytail whipping about, she glared, “Why do you push me away?” Confusion, sadness, horror, desperation, insecurity, the Darkmoon’s blue eyes begged me to answer,
“I am Chosen Undead. You are not.” I said simply, “I may walk the Abyss and you may not. We are not heroes Ilyena we are undead. You want glory?” I pointed to the bodies, “That is my glory. Remember that.” I turned on my heel and took a step into the mist but she grabbed my arm,
“Is that where the Kings are?”
“Yes.” I answered tensely,
“Promise me you won’t be long.” I didn’t answer, “Promise me.” Sighing heavily I stepped back from the door and faced her.
It didn’t make any sense. He was a god, she knew it, a true god. Gwyndolin had called himself a god and, though Ilyena never saw the man’s face behind that marble wall and blank painting, knew that the soft feminine voice spoke true. She could not explain how but Ilyena knew just as she did with the man before her. Fate demanded she follow the man, duty pushing her after him. His insistence of being an undead seemed humble, deflecting away from a much more powerful title. Every word he spoke was deliberate and simple. She heard no lies or falsehoods when he spoke, only wisdom and intelligence born from centuries of life. Within his eyes she had seen too much to understand; a beast, a hero, a corpse, a man, a god, Ilyena did not know how to describe Nameless. Without any true name or self Nameless what just that, nameless. Despite his insistence, he was not undead, and despite her assumptions he was not a God, though it somehow felt blasphemous to say such things. All his talk about Linking the Flame, killing the Four Kings, walking the Abyss, he accomplished what gods, heroes, and undead alike could not. At least not at once. Gods performed duties beyond Ilyena’s comprehension and pulled at the strings of the undead masses while creating great heroes of legend who kept the Dark at bay. Yet Nameless denounced the gods, upheld the undead as equals, and vehemently denied her declarations of him being a hero. He even brought Darkness and death to the land while liberating others such as herself. The man was an enigma, one Ilyena found to be precious to her.
He had saved her life and humanity when destroying them would have been far easier, trusted and welcomed her on his legendary quest, gave her place and reason when he himself had destroyed all former, caring for her like none other. She was undead a hideous monster meant to be sealed away in the depths of the Darkness yet he saw something much more bright and hopeful. Her emotions centered around him, drew her after him, she felt as if he was a part of her. Without him she was nothing.
Wide shoulders drooping Nameless sighed,
“No.” It struck Ilyena like a whip. He turned to her and held up a black gauntlet scorched by the world’s flame. In its palm sat a dull green ring, “The covenant of Artorias.” Ilyena’s eyes widened, “This ring symbolizes Knight Artorias’s covenant with the beasts of the Abyss.” Nameless said, “It’s wearer, like Artorias himself, can traverse the Abyss.” She looked up at Nameless, “Only one may wear it.” His eyes flashed, “And only one may bear the duty with it.” Ilyena turned away,
“I am dismissed then?” She hissed. A gauntlet grasped her shoulder but she refused to meet his eyes,
“No.” She looked back in surprise, “But I cannot promise to return.” Ilyena deflated,
“What? But you said-”
“Things changed beyond you.” He interrupted, “Wait at Firelink.” His grip on her shoulder tightened, “I will return.” He opened the flap of his satchel and, after rummaging around, drew a simple broadsword. He offered the weapon,
“My first weapon,” He said lovingly, holding it gingerly like a father would his child, “I will find you again and you will return this to me.” Ilyena took the sword with a nod,
“And this is your promise?” Her breath caught, fires of her heart flaring as his eyes smiled,
“Good.” She snapped the Homeward bone.
I stepped through the fog onto the top of a spiral staircase that lead down into pitch darkness. Slipping off the Cloranthy Ring as I walked down, replacing it with the Covenant of Artorias, I checked my pack to ensure I had all the essentials. Ivory Talisman. Full Estus Flask. A disgusting number of Black Firebombs, I wondered for a moment how my bag held so many. Five Elizabeth Mushrooms. Plenty of throwing Knives. I placed the Transient Curse back in my bottomless box. Despite room for more items I left the spaces empty. Nothing else would be of any use against the Four Kings at least nothing I had. Satisfied with my inventory I ensured all of my miracles and other tricks were in place and stopped staring at several broken steps that hung over utter black. The Abyss.
Licking my lips twice I jumped.
For several seconds I fell. Landing heavily with a grunt I looked up.
As disturbing as I remembered the Abyss was featureless. I couldn’t even see the surface I stood upon. Dull silence pressed upon my ears only the rustling of my armor indicating I hadn’t gone deaf. Icy cold, worse than usual, entrapped me. Air heavy I breathed deeply tasting the essence of death. I felt as if I was buried beneath the earth. Hefting my weapons I straightened and marched forward.
Adrenaline began to flood my veins. Eyes darting about, limbs tingling, body vibrant with the will to survive I could feel a familiar rage, lust, rising. Voices, stronger here in the stifling Abyss, whispered to me,
A beast inside rumbled. Cage broken, fortress long in ruins, it roamed wild and free,
I bit my lip struggling for control. Rage bubbled as furious thunderclouds gathered, the beast begging, clawing, screaming, demanding to be released once again,
“Undead,” I chanted, “I am undead.” Lies and temptation, everything, “I am undead.” The beast was an illusion, an irrational fear manifested by self-doubt, “I am undead.”
Several bright balls of light bloomed, brilliant and blinding against the black Abyss.
Huge mythological beings clad in great robes of shimmering ivory that spread from their chests in long blades of silver in all directions. Expressions calm their beautifully sculpted faces, eyes glowing pure white, were a stark contrast to their otherworldly bodies. Upon their brows large horns protruded in varying sizes and lengths made from similar substance as the copious ivory blades they wore as some manner of robes. Carrying cruel and massive swords made from some strange material that gave off purplish energies, blades seeming to twist and warp, long curtains of silky white hair drifted about their faces on wind unfelt.
Silhouetted by the perfect dark of the Abyss these phantoms of legend floated suspended by nothing in nothing. I stood alone, level with them on an invisible floor. Things whispered in the dark, adding to those already in my mind, pulling at my mind and tainting my soul. The phantoms raised their jagged blades as one.
The Four Kings.
I could not recall all of them appearing at once. Not point in thinking about it. Concentrate.
I exhaled and time slowed. Thought grew distant, reality a dream, body nothing more than a shell, my mind swelled as all faded until I was alone. Eyes sliding shut I focused. Concentrate. Thinking was dangerous, wasted effort, an invitation to die, thought was pointless in battle. In battle I found direction. In battle I found peace. In battle I found Truth. In battle I found my true self. No remorse or hesitation, no past or future, only the present. In battle I lived. I inhaled
No voices, within or without, could reach me here, not even the great beast trying to consume me; much less the Four Kings. The Four Kings were tangible, real. The things in my mind, while intangible and unreal, were much more deadly, much more dangerous. The Four Kings could be killed. The voices and great beast could only be delayed, inevitably they would overcome. Push all to the side. Empty, hollow, unfeeling, my body was a weapon to be used. Focused, clear, unbreakable, my mind ruled absolute. I could be killed if only momentarily. But my duty and will would resurrect me, neither ever truly finished. The Four Kings could be killed.
Action. The time for thought was long past. Action.
I was unbreakable.
The Kings moved and I charged.
Advancing in a line the two Kings on the edges brought their swords around, twisted blades glowing purple. One of the two in center glided forward while the other hung back. The two on the edges swung down hurling gigantic tears of purple light screaming towards me. Fear flashed somewhere far away, an unpleasant memory to be ignored. Kill. Diving between the tears I rolled to my feet and looked up into the blazing eyes of a King. Teeth gritting unconsciously, body knowing what punishment it was about to be forced to endure, I watched as the King swung faster than lightning. Screaming in what might have been desperation I threw the black shield up. Sparks flying, body jarring, I jolted back as an ethereal blade crashed down upon my shield.
I had forgotten the pain of battle. Real and unrelenting battle that ground you down to fine ash pushing the very limits of human skill and willpower. It was foolish of me to have neglected battle for so long and to succumb to the dark powers in my clash with Gwyndolin rather than overcome using skill, strength, dexterity, and grit. The senses I honed endlessly and body I forged tirelessly had dulled from being coddled by this new adventure. No longer fighting to live every second with every ounce of power that I could harness I had grown soft from so little combat. Swallowing air like a starved man, exhaling all at once through clenched teeth, I stood stubbornly against fear and death incarnate.
The King pressed down, concentration threatening to buckle, body quaking, pain pushed through. This was judgement for my sins. I had taken the powers of Dark and used them to smite one of Divine status out of hate and revenge. They were right to call me Child of Dark, I brought evil and death to those I thought to care for. I had nearly killed Andre. Rhea had died trying to kill me, a pointless endeavour but Orlai had not know of my immortality. So many died while I lived.
The King broke my guard and threw me tumbling back. What selfish hope did I have in killing gods? Ilyena and Laurentius believed I was something to be protected, followed, respected. I was a monster. Pushing myself up I half-heartedly raised my guard again meeting the King’s ethereal blade. The weapon deflected, whistling around the King held it overhead,
Thee be no Child of Dark, A soft voice whispered, No Son of Darkness, Warmth blossomed on my thigh, Thee live, Chosen Undead. The King swung down, black shield momentarily halting its weapon in a flash of sparks, Bearer of the Dark Soul, he who doth walk outside time, Faint light shone from my pack, Fuel to the World’s flame, faithful knight of Lordran, Strength I had not known filled me and held the shield strong against the King’s sword, Loathed more by none but thine self, I knew this voice, Know that this abomination shalt always love thee. The flap to my pack burst open and a single soul flew out. To my disbelief the soul darted at the King and threw itself against the mythical being’s ivory face. The King recoiled and in the soul’s golden heart I saw a smiling Priscilla,
“For all thee hath done,” The soft voice whispered as the King’s blade fell to slice the soul in two, “I bestow this small boon.” Faster than I’d ever thought possible my Black Knight Shield appeared between the soul and ethereal blade. Quickly whisking the soul into my hood its warmth tickling my cheek I glared into the King’s bright eyes. I pushed back against fear, death, absolution, fate, duty, refusing to fall. The King’s sword could not be beaten. The King pressed harder, looming overhead demanding I yield; follow the code and surrender to reality. A King was no normal foe. It was impossible.
You dare defy a god? You dare?!
Shield twisting to meet the flat of the King’s blade I parried.
Eyes wide with shock, midsection open, the King glared down upon me with blazing disbelief. Without pause I stepped forward and slammed Artorias’ Greatsword home. Head jerking back, hair whipping about, the King screamed in agony as it turned to ash. Quickly attaching the black shield to my back I snatched the Ivory Talisman off of my belt and called forth a Sunlight Spear, “Hold on.” I muttered offhandedly to my passenger. Hurling the Sunlight Spear pear forth it struck the farthest King in the chest with a fantastic explosion and faded to ash disappearing into the Abyss.
I threw myself forwards, two more purple tears ripping through the space I’d just occupied. Rolling to my feet I raised my shield barely redirecting a King’s strike but not managing to parry. Pure instinct rose Artorias’ Greatsword to meet the other King’s blade as it attacked from behind. I tried to roll with momentum but it seemed fate demanded vengeance for my rule-breaking. Slamming into the flat of my greatsword several jagged teeth of the cruel twisted sword pierced my plate armor digging into me. Gasping as flesh liquefied vivid and passionate hate sought to sunder body, mind, and soul. Emanating from the purplish sword in an unstoppable flood emotions too massive in scope to describe or comprehend obliterated the mind I so arrogantly called unbreakable. Death seized me in its grip pulling me down into the Abyss. Gasping when the King’s sword broke contact I sailed through the air. In the precious second or two spent hurtling away I frantically grasped Priscilla’s soul,
“Get back in!” I grunted trying to put her back into the bottomless box but she, to my frustration, remained stalwart. Rolling when I hit ground, not risking healing or throwing another bolt I braced. Already on top of me both Kings separated attacking either of my flanks. I dived between them, auras of both weapons licking hungrily at my own soul as well as Priscilla’s. I felt her warmth weaken, the crossbreed stifling a cry of pain. Teeth gritting from the woman’s soft exclamation I spun around, blocking several more swings. I backpedaled struggling to keep the King attacking me between the other circling as it tried to get a hit in edgewise. I danced and rolled about, stalling for an opportunity without having to risk parrying. That was a mistake.
Ripping open its chest to reveal a great vortex of blinding light the King closest to me flew forward, catching me mid-step, snapping its jaws shut with the power of absolution. I looked into the King’s heart; an empty expanse of virulent white and pure humanity. Blinding and bright the vortex, with unseen talons, gouged into me mentally and physically. Ripping and tearing without discrimination the King raped my very sanity hungrily digging and clawing out what little humanity I still contained. I bent and twisted begging for release by death or rescue unable to escape. Over the whistling wind and screeching voices I could hear hysterical screaming. Pain annihilating my senses and mind ripping in two I fought frantically to retain some form of control in order to protect the reason I’d dropped my precious shield. Amid the chaos and ice a single pinprick of warmth stubbornly remained;
the Soul of Crossbreed Priscilla,
“Release me!” She cried, “Else thou shalt loose thine self!” I pushed her frail pleading aside, concentrating entirely on my left hand and keeping it closed. Something else brought by instinct surged forth forming a solid unbreakable bulwark around Priscilla. I could feel her suffocating, her life fading, but knew this was the only way. For an entire eternity this struggle lasted, the King ravishing my body and soul as I kept Priscilla enclosed in the shelter of my hand, when I suddenly crashed to the invisible floor.
Eyes black and body of ice I looked up into the night sky of infinity, empty of life and soul. His voices silent and beast no more I watched through sightless eyes as Chosen Undead lay flat beneath the King. Pressing myself against his irises I could see light shimmering in the limp left hand of black steel resting upon his chest. Strings broken and body soulless ash Chosen Undead lay immobile like the puppet he was,
Is this how it ends? I asked the puppet. It did not answer, Priscilla is alive. The soul in his hand swelled to fill the black gauntlet, You see her don’t you? Nothing. Chosen Undead?
“Chosen,” Priscilla’s small soul whispered, voice trembling, “Chosen?, A King loomed overhead eyes fixed upon Priscilla’s soul, “Why?” She hiccuped, “Why doth thou be so foolhardy? If thee had allowed me take thine place, go on to redeem the undead would thee.” The King lifted its sword, poised to pierce Chosen Undead’s chest and with it the soul of Priscilla,
Get up, I urged, Chosen Undead drifting from me, You need to get up. The sword burned with purple flame that scalded Priscilla’s soul. She shrunk into the Chosen Undead’s gauntlet, huddling within the protective talons of his cruel claw,
“I beg forgiveness, O’ Chosen Undead,” She whimpered. Pressed against his chest,looking up into empty eyes between talons burned by the World’s Flame, she began to fade, “I have failed you.” The claw closed around her. The puppet Chosen Undead, strings broken, began to dance.
I twisted, King stabbing air, and rolled to my feet. Gripping Artorias’ Greatsword with both gauntlets I rose swinging, dragging my greatsword up its side in a diagonal slice cutting deep into its ivory hide. Staggering a moment the King roared in anger from the grievous wound but remained. I turned to the other King, side-stepping a swing and moving inside its guard. The divine blade of Artorias bit into its flank removing a sizable chunk. Pivoting behind the King I raised the greatsword and, with titanic effort, sliced the horror cleanly in two.
A jagged blade thrust between the two halves and impaled me through the chest.
I gasped reflexively, evil weapon lapping greedily at life blood blood pouring from the mortal wound. The final King looked down upon me in disgust as the ally it had used as a distraction disintegrated. With a triumphant and dismissive upwards tilt of its chin the King yanked its blade free in a fountain of blood and gore. Crimson pooled at my feet, a gruesome gaping hole of shredded flesh and steel remaining as evidence of the lethal blow. I stared at the King, its sword-arm held high overhead.
Then, smooth and steady, I side-stepped the long dramatic overhand strike and removed the King’s head with a quick upward slice. Taking a swig of Estus before I bled out, bright liquid going down with a slight burning sensation, I looked around. Realizing I held a small orb of light in one hand I studied it curiously,
“Chosen…?” It peeped just barely audible. Head cocked to one side I brought it closer. More faint chattering seemed to come from the orb but nothing I could comprehend. I ignored it. Spotting the Black Knight shield I slung Artorias’ Greatsword over my shoulder and started to place the orb in my hood. I stopped, the rightful place for souls was in the bottomless box. Why was I placing it in my hood? Shrugging I popped the soul into the box and moved to pick up the shield. Attaching it to my back I looked up into the Abyss.
I felt nothing.
“Greetings Undead Warrior.” Hissed an old rasping voice. I turned to face the hulking form of Primordial Serpent Darkstalker Kaathe.