Welcome to the first (I assume) RWBY Wiki hosted fanfic, Dark Souls III: The Invincible Girl. Pyrrha Nikos, in her attempt to save Beacon and Vale, has been slain. Awakened in the hopeless and fallen kingdom of Lothric, she is forced to fight a constant struggle to survive and hold herself together in this dark universe. A pseudo-novelization of Dark Souls III, multi-hosted on Sufficient Velocity, the RWBY Wiki, and posted on Ao3 with help from Arkantos95.
Here is the first chapter:
Chapter 1: A Death in the Limelight
Back aching from her impact against what was left of the tower wall, Pyrrha launched herself to her feet as Cinder nocked an arrow and drew her bow taut. With a shout of exertion, she spun and threw her shield at Cinder at the same time she let her arrow fly. The two projectiles collided in mid-air, the glass arrow shattering against the shield before suddenly reforming itself and impaling Pyrrha's ankle, causing her to collapse with a cry. She attempted to stand again only to have the bones in her calf give with a sickening crack that sent her tumbling to the ground once again. She forced herself up onto her knees as Cinder circled her, taunting her fallen foe.
"It's unfortunate that you were promised a power that was never truly yours," she said as she knelt in front of Pyrrha and grasped her chin, forcing her to look at her before continuing. "But take comfort in knowing that I will use it in ways you could never have imagined."
Pyrrha jerked her face away from Cinder before sitting up and staring at her with all the defiance she could muster before saying "Do you believe in Destiny?"
Cinder scowled at her in response, the playful cockiness she had displayed for so long finally gone. "Yes." she said before standing and taking a few steps away from Pyrrha. She reformed her bow and another arrow as she drew the bowstring once more. Staring straight at the arrow in Cinder’s bow, she prepared for what was most certainly the end. Despite fearing the consequences of failing to stop her, she couldn’t help but think of someone else, how hurt he may be, how he would go on without her there.
‘Jaune...I’m so sorry I had to leave you like this.’ she thought.
Suddenly, a flash of red appeared out of the corner of Pyrrha's eye.
At that instant Cinder fired her arrow, and Pyrrha felt an intense, sharp pain as it pierced her chest and stuck through her back. Her body recoiled backward from the force of the arrow, and her whole lower body felt numb. Pyrrha’s attempts to take a gasp of air weren’t working, and was only able to manage a few microscopic strands, which were insufficient to alleviate the pain now developing in her ribcage. Eyes stinging and foggy from involuntary tears, she saw Cinder approach her, some of her old assuredness returned. Despite fighting for every second, Pyrrha’s vision began to darken, and her body began to give out, the pain in her chest lessening as the rest of her body began to numb. Her vision finally started to truly fade, the last thing she felt being Cinder’s hand on her forehead.
The first thing she heard was the bell. It sounded as if it echoed from far away, and yet the sound rang in her ears. Slowly, roused by this strange bell, she opened her eyes, seeing only darkness. Upon regaining feeling she started moving her head, and she smelt and breathed in dust and stone particles from the air.
‘What?’ Her hands, previously on her stomach, moved, hitting something in the dark when she extended them. Light claustrophobia set in as she discovered how confined she really was.
‘Where am I? What is this thing? The last thing I rememb-” Her thoughts froze, a realization taking hold in her mind and seizing her heart.
“No. No! I’m not dead, let me out! I’m not dead yet!” Pyrrha pushed at the sides before trying to shove the stone sarcophagus open. The lid jumped when she did. ‘I haven’t been buried! I can get out!’ Pyrrha pushed on the lid, adjusting herself as it rose. In her peripheral vision she could see a steel grey sky, but was focused on lifting the lid, which eventually she shoved to the side. She let out a breath of relief and smiled as she looked around at her surroundings, but the smile faded as she did.
The place she was in dark, dreary and unfamiliar: a strange, foggy valley with several headstones next to her sarcophagus, which rested against a dead tree. At that moment a cloaked figure came shambling into view. While apprehensive, Pyrrha tentatively stepped out of the sarcophagus and began to approach the figure.
“Hello?” The figure didn’t reply, but took notice of the noise and began walking towards her. “I-I don’t know where I am exactly. Do you know the way to the nearest village…?” Pyrrha’s inquiry trailed as the figure came closer into view. The face was obscured by the hood, but the figure’s arms were grossly pale and sore covered, and in its emaciated hand was a rusted shortsword. The figure gave a strangled groan of a battle cry and leaped forward. Pyrrha’s instincts took hold and she disarmed the hooded attacker and through him against her sarcophagus, disturbing the sword and shield that was leaned against it.
“What in the world? Why ar-” At that moment the figure rose, its hood knocked back. The being’s bald head was stark white and its face was desiccated, with no nose, rotting teeth and glowing, red eyes. It was like a walking corpse.
The being, no, the creature cried out again and charged without its weapon, which was held by Pyrrha. She stepped back and slashed the creature, which stopped and let out a light groan before falling down dead, and Pyrrha vaguely felt a flowing sensation in her right lumbar.
Pyrrha stared at it in horror. Besides Penny, she had never killed anything so human-like before in her life, and both times she hadn’t completely meant to do so in the first place. The shock of everything that had happened, combined with the creature’s rotted appearance and the overall smell of her surroundings had finally taken its toll and she vomited on the ground at the base of the ledge with the headstones.
Pyrrha sat at the base of the tree, staring at the ground where she dropped the shortsword. Everything was happening so quickly. She had just fought and died, but was now in a strange place, attacked by what could only be described as a human abomination, just after crawling out of what for all she knew was a tomb. The place where the arrow had hit was normal, with no wound to speak of.
‘Why am I here then?’ she thought.
She looked left to the sarcophagus where she crawled out of, but was puzzled when she saw something there that she didn’t see before: a dirty glass containing golden fluorescent fluid. She picked it up, the glass being warm to the touch. A bell tolled in the distance, prompting her to look to the opening where the creature had come from. Wherever she was, she couldn’t stay here.
Recovering from her shock, she pocketed the flask of gold and noticed the small, round shield and the straight sword it was paired with and picked them up, opting to follow the bell’s sound, and hopefully find answers to all the questions she had.
Here's the next chapter of Dark Souls III: The Invincible Girl.
Chapter 2: Cemetery of Ash
‘It’s too cold to be Vacuo’ Pyrrha mused, trying to occupy her mind after all that has happened. ‘Too warm to be Atlas, certainly, and I don’t recall…,’ Pyrrha shuddered, ‘...ghouls being in Anima’s countryside. Am I still in Vale?’ The thought brought her mind back to what had happened before she got here, and to her teammates that she left behind as she walked along the dark path that was the cemetery. ‘I wonder if they’re alright, how they must feel. They must have evacuated, Beacon wasn’t safe last time I checked, the teachers would have forced them to.... Do they know I’m not dead?’
Her thoughts were interrupted when she saw something in the distance. One of the creatures was at the fountain rustling something about...an armored figure!
“Hey!” Pyrrha yelled as she rushed in to help.
The ghoul had stopped its thrashing and came at Pyrrha, but was quickly taken down by a few quick slashes. While not as traumatizing as the first time, Pyrrha still was not used to fighting figures like them to the death, especially when they fell to the ground with a wet thud, not dissolving like The Grimm would. She forced her eyes to the body the ghoul was fiddling with. The body had an elaborate and well crafted suit of armor, but it was clear that it had died a long time ago. Pyrrha even wiped away a thick layer of dust from the helmet as she saw it.
No help to be had of him, she sighed defeated, but noticed it gripping a glass with blue fluid, similar to the gold one she had. She wrenched it from its grasp, the flask being cold to the touch.
Up two flasks but no answers, she pocketed this one as well and kept exploring the cemetery. She noticed a figure leaning against a wall. She approached but discovered it was one of the ghouls from before. However, it didn’t attack her, despite being closer than any of the others, and instead kept to its own despair. Pyrrha, feeling a twang of pity, opted not to disturb the creature, and continued through the marsh the path lead to.
But upon doing so, a ghoul got up from where it was sitting further down the marsh and charged at her. Pyrrha raised her sword, but the ghoul from behind her grabbed her hand, Pyrrha only just managing to block the first ghoul’s swing, causing it to glance off and send the ghoul off-balance. Preoccupied by her two opponents, she failed to notice a third ghoul rising from its spot on the stone floor, shooting her in the shoulder with a flaming bolt from its crossbow. Pyrrha let out a cry of pain as the fire from the bolt seared the muscle it sank into. She threw off the ghoul behind her and killed it with a slash of her sword, focusing again on the 2nd ghoul, which charged and jumped at her with its broken sword. Raised her shield to block and bashed the ghoul away, causing it to fall to the ground. The 3rd ghoul had reloaded and fired, but Pyrrha was able to raise her shield to block the bolt, after which she charged at the crossbowman and defeated him. The 2nd ghoul was still alive though, and with its broken sword slashed just as she turned around, hitting her stomach. Pyrrha cried in pain, but retaliated with a swing of her sword, instantly killing the ghoul.
Pyrrha panted, trying to take stock of what had just occurred when she winced at the pain the crossbow bolt, still in her shoulder, gave her, as well as the pain in her abdomen. She took the bolt, closed her eyes, and grit her teeth as she pulled it out, nursing the wound after doing so. She limped forward, still holding the wound received from the bolt. She left through a mouth in the grave’s canyon, moving up an incline that overlooked a large mountain range, their peaks brimming in snow, and to the side was...a wall? She looked at the construction and then followed it up, gasping in surprise as she saw a truly huge castle, bigger than even Beacon Academy, covered in so many towers and parapets, overlooking the entire region.
Mouth agape, slowly she turned around and kept walking. Eventually, she came across a sword, sticking out from the ground with ash and dust surrounding it. Curious, she approached it and reached out to take it, but the sword suddenly burst into flame, sending audibly fierce plumes of fire up into the air, causing Pyrrha to step back in shock. After the brief explosion, the fire reduced in size, surrounding the blade sticking in the ground. Pyrrha slowly approached it, and getting closer she knelt down and placed her hands over this impromptu bonfire, enjoying the warmth after having been so cold in the cemetery, and suddenly she couldn’t feel the pain from her wounds.
The safety of the fire and her mind no longer focusing on the pain, she began to question her surroundings, such as the enormous citadel behind her. She didn’t recall any such building existing outside of the kingdoms, not to such an impressive degree, with defensive parapets made (mostly) vestigial by the addition of aesthetically pleasing spires. Whatever the castle was built for, it must have been built in a safer time. She looked around at the gray crags of the dark cemetery. ‘Safer than this’ Pyrrha thought, recalling the ghoulish creatures that had attacked her.
Ghouls, roaming a graveyard in the fog, as an ominous castle looked over everything. It sounded like a scary story, told to children to prevent them from wandering into dangerous places. Except these creatures weren’t shadowy monsters, they almost looked like the bodies of human beings.
‘Could these really be people?’
The bonfire relaxed her however, lifting her spirits after what had been a very confusing and taxing day. By this fire, Pyrrha felt at peace.
Author’s Notes: This will be one of the shorter chapters in this story (since the Cemetery is a tutorial level pretty much), but since you’re reading this right now, that must mean you haven’t ditched the story, so that’s good. To make sure Cemetery doesn’t drag on, I’m posting the 3rd chapter tomorrow.
After resting a bit, she got up and looked around in the cemetery, looking to find a way to where she heard the bell toll. She saw a structure in the distance with a thin entryway, and attached to the round building was a tower, a bell tower.
“I guess I know where I’m going now” Pyrrha said to herself as she started to make her way down the hill, where more of the ghouls were. She fought her way through and made it to a large arch, through which she entered a large courtyard, with a statue in the center, a large cliff overlooking the mountains, and a tall double door on the other side. She walked closer towards the center, but when she got there she saw the statue had embedded in it a sword, much like the one on the bonfire, and to the right of it was a halberd, and etched on the blade was the word GVNDYR.
To her horror, the statue started shifting in place, groaning in what seemed like pain. Pyrrha looked to the sword, and after taking a moment, pulled the sword out. Where she was pulling the sword, black shadowy fluid spilled out. Despite this, she successfully removed the sword.
The statue then started moving with less difficulty, finally rising and picking up the long halberd next to it.
Gundyr, its eyes now glowing bright red, looked to her menacingly. It soon became evident she had made a huge mistake. Gundyr brought its halberd down, Pyrrha just managing to dodge away. Gundyr made another large slash immediately after, with Pyrrha leaping in front of it and managing to slash it twice. However Gundyr, while staggered from the attacks, prepared a wide sweep with his halberd. Pyrrha readied her hand to manipulate it with her semblance, but the halberd didn’t slow down in the slightest and hit her with full force, knocking her back. She got up, in great pain, but somehow able to keep fighting.
‘My Semblance, I couldn’t even feel it…’ she thought. She looked to her weapon and shield, trying to bend them with her mind, but she couldn’t. ‘Something is very wrong.’
With enough distance between them, the statue leaped into the air. Pyrrha saw where he was going and jumped to the side just as it stabbed the ground she was at. She used this opening to unleash a flurry of slashes, as well as one final strong stab, leaping away as he recovered.
Gundyr knelt to the ground wounded, but Pyrrha noticed a strange shadow rising out of him before it exploded into a black morass of a creature. It was uncannily similar in appearance to a Creature of Grimm, except this was larger and more unstable than most she’s seen: a large serpent like creature, growing out of Gundyr and brandishing a large, shadowy, skeletal hand.
‘Could this really be a Grimm?’
The serpent didn’t wait for her to find out, swinging its hand to attack, with Pyrrha jumping away and slashing at the beast while its back was turned. However, the serpent craned its neck to see her and spun around, striking her and launching her into the grave stones on the wall.
She landed with heavy force and the air knocked from her lungs. Her body was wrecked and she was struggling to see, her gaze darkening. She attempted to get up, but she was too weak, her bones shattered, and slowly her body started to go numb. She went cold and felt a familiar ebb as her vision faded once more…
She stirred and started moving. She felt well-rested and healthy, as though waking from a good night’s sleep. Slowly she opened her eyes, in the haze seeing only a gold flickering light, surrounded by darkness. Her eyes jutted open after regaining consciousness, remembering what had happened, or what she believed had happened. She sat up, and looked around, realizing she was back at the bonfire on the hill.
“What happened? Was all this a-” Pyrrha stopped as she put her hand to her forehead, just now discovering her tiara was missing. She scampered around the bonfire’s area, futilely trying to find it before giving up and sitting by the fire once more. She again mused on her situation.
“Was that all just a dream? It all felt so real, and I remember it so vividly,” Pyrrha stated to herself, recalling seeing the words GVNDYR on the halberd, and the shadow creature that had-
Pyrrha’s face crumpled in phantom pain. The shadow creature that killed her. She looked to the building in the distance and back to where Gundyr was. She set out to continue her journey. Hopefully what she saw was just a dream. Either way, she needed answers on what these creatures were and what they were doing here.
She went down the path from the bonfire, but the ghouls were back, just where they had been before. Pyrrha was puzzled. She knew just where each and everyone of them were and what they’d do, but if what had happened before was a dream, how did she know they were all there? She fought through them all as before, but upon reaching the entryway to the courtyard, she saw it was blocked by an impossibly thick wall of fog. She approached it, puzzled at where it had come from. She reached out, her hand passing through perfectly fine.
‘Well, it is fog’ Pyrrha thought, embarrassed at thinking it’d work any different than it should.
She pressed on through the wall of fog, where she saw the statue, Gundyr rise up as it had before.
‘It was real...it had to have been,’ Pyrrha then readied herself as Gundyr leapt into the air and brought his halberd down, Pyrrha dodging forward in order to capitalize on the opening. After a few slashes, Gundyr swept behind himself, but Pyrrha was able to block in time, the impact sending her back. When she readied again however, Gundyr had already brought his halberd down, slamming her to the ground and then lifted her into the air. Shrugging off the intense pain from the impact, Pyrrha lept up back on her feet in time to dodge Gundyr’s next attack, allowing her to get two more slashes in. Gundyr reached out as though to grab her, but Pyrrha was able to dodge out of the way, another two slashes followed. Gundyr prepared to bring his halberd down, but Pyrrha used her shield to maneuver it aside and then stabbed Gundyr in the armpit, with copious amounts of blood spilling onto her, which she ignored in order to focus on the arduous battle.
She removed her sword and stepped back, with the shadow surrounding Gundyr as the shadow spilled out and exploded into the familiar form of the serpent. Pyrrha braced as the serpent brought its hand down upon Pyrrha, who sidestepped and slashed it as it came down. The serpent craned its head as before, but Pyrrha was ready this time and blocked it, though the impact still caused her some pain. With agility belied by its massive size, the serpent launched itself into the air before slamming down its skeletal hand, knocking Pyrrha back.
Despite being a gasp away from death, Pyrrha got up anyway and readied her shield. The serpent stared at its opponent and then brought its hand to swing, but Pyrrha rolled forward, getting close enough to swing wildly at Gundyr’s body. The serpent was readying another swing, but Pyrrha chose to use her remaining strength to continue slashing, causing the serpent to stagger and after one final swing from Pyrrha, the serpent and Gundyr both recoiled and began to light up and dissolve into bright light, exploding into nothing but air, leaving no trace of them...except for the coiled sword she had pulled out in the beginning.
Pyrrha breathed heavily, collapsing to her knees in exhaustion and pain. While not the most complicated fight, without her Semblance and the reduction of injury (or rather, the typical reduction of injury she expected) usually offered by her Aura, she felt physically weaker than she would have normally, and without her skills she would have-
Pyrrha froze in place and looked to the sword. She did die before. It didn’t feel like a dream, and if it were, why would the coiled sword be there? She had never seen anything like the halberd wielding giant, or the sword in its chest. Pyrrha placed her hand on her forehead in tired confusion, not helped by the intense pain she was in as well as feeling light-headed. She looked to the right where she first saw Gundyr, but in its place was another sword sticking in the ground, similar to the first bonfire except it wasn’t lit. Pyrrha picked herself and the coiled sword up and limped to the bonfire, reaching out to it as before, whereupon it lit itself. Relieved, Pyrrha sat down and rested. The bell tower was just ahead, and despite the ordeal she felt as though the worst was behind her.
Author’s Notes: Hope you liked the first boss battle chapter. Pyrrha’s first day in Lothric has so far been quite difficult, putting it lightly. But fret not, she hasn’t even been told what she’s doing yet! That’s coming next in Chapter 4: Firelink. As always, this fic will be updated on Fridays at 12PM. See you then.
Beacon Academy: intact and bustling with students and faculty. Pyrrha sat amongst her friends, both her teammates and Team RWBY. Nora was rambling on about something she heard but couldn't decipher, with Ren patiently waiting for her to finish, while Ruby (tried) talking with her partner Weiss, who was busy filing her nails. Blake sat buried in a book with unusual folded pages, and Yang attempted to talk, but eventually ended up playfully debating with Nora, all as Pyrrha watched on. She turned from where she was, and saw Jau-
And that was when she had woken up, rested but glum, her heart sank as she began to look around and remember where she was. While the warmth of the bonfire had lulled her to sleep the day before, it had done little to reduce her extreme exhaustion from her battle with Gundyr.
The pleasant dreams had only served to highlight the dark world she was currently in. Somewhat demoralized, she picked up her sword, Gundyr's sword, and her shield and started moving again.
The building was just in sight. Slowly she walked up through the path, spotting several of the ghouls sitting about. They did not trouble her, but she kept her guard up just in case.
She managed to reach the entrance without incident. The inside was dark, but she was able to see just fine after her eyes adjusted.
The room was almost like an amphitheater, with five impossibly large thrones overlooking the atrium, which had a ceramic, bowl-like protrusion. She could vaguely see a corpse hunched over on one of the thrones, but the whole building was quiet. She cautiously walked down the steps right of the entrance and made to the center of the building.
"Hello? Is anyone here?" Pyrrha called out, her voice echoing across the halls.
"Will you be quiet? You'll wake the dead." A bitter voice called out to her right. Pyrrha followed the voice, finding a man with a greatsword and shield, wearing a suit of partial plate with a chainmail coif.
"Ah, I'm sorry…" Pyrrha replied, almost automatically.
"Hmph, sorry? No you're not, not yet. Trust me, you'll have plenty of time to be sorry once this all blows over, may as well get comfortable here, where it's safe at least" The warrior pitiably spoke, his head hanging from his neck.
Pyrrha stepped back uneased by the man, and turned around, where a woman was standing right behind her, causing Pyrrha to jump in alarm. The woman, who had smooth white hair and skin, had a mask covering the upper-part of her face, with no eye holes visible, and she stood utterly still.
"Welcome to the bonfire, Unkindled One," the woman spoke.
Even more uneased, Pyrrha adjusted herself to a somewhat more natural position. "Um, thank you? Who are you?"
"I am the Firekeeper. I tend to the flame and tend to thee" the Firekeeper explained. "The lords have abandoned their thrones, and must be delivered to them. To this end I am by your side."
"Wait just a minute, I was brought here by a bell ringing. What are you talking about?" Pyrrha demanded, painfully confused as to what was going on. The man sitting on the steps started speaking.
"What do you mean 'what are you talking about?' The lords. The Lords of Cinder?"
Pyrrha turned around, unexpectedly shocked by the word. She finally asked "the what?"
The man was nearly to his wits end. "Any of that sound familiar to you lass?"
Pyrrha looked down. "The only Cinder I know of was the woman...who killed me."
"But that's why you're here right? You are Unkindled aren't you? Called to this fool task?"
"No!" cried an old woman's amused voice from down the hall, underneath where she came, where she also vaguely heard hammering steel. "This one is different."
"Oh what is she on about now?" the warrior sullenly asked. The Firekeeper too had turned around, but had made no facial reaction.
"Bring her here, Keeper" the old woman called. The Firekeeper motioned for Pyrrha to follow her, and Pyrrha shuffled into the hall. A large, burly man with silver hair was hammering something on an anvil at the end, and to the right was an old woman in a red robe on a chair, fiddling with a thin figurine apparently made of wicker. The old woman looked up with milky white eyes, showing Pyrrha her missing teeth as she smiled with a warm but not entirely benevolent smile.
"Ahh, yes. A lost little lamb come wandereth in." Pyrrha shuffled uncomfortably where she was. The woman continued. "So, young lady, what exactly is the last thing thou remember before hearing the bell?" she asked. "Cans't thou remember?"
Pyrrha's eyes widened, recalling to her being shot in the chest, every agonizing moment before losing consciousness, and then waking up in the cemetery.
"...dost thou have any questions for me?" the woman asked. Pyrrha had several questions, about many things, but she had one that was more pressing.
After a pause, she finally answered. "Where am I?"
"Lothric" the woman answered, fully aware of the vagueness of the question.
While infuriated by this, she calmly rephrased her question. "And where is Lothric exactly? Which continent?"
"Evidently thou art not from here, but I know thee to be special, young maiden, I can sense it. But, thou hast more pressing matters to tend to, such as thine condition."
"My… condition?" Pyrrha asked, even more incredulously.
"Thou hast died already, and yet thou art here talking to me. This is because thou art undead."
"Thou bear on thy person a brand, the Darksign. 'Long as you walk this earth, thou shalt never die, and this unceasing cycle of torment will drain thy light and thy mind, until thee go mad. Thy will be a beast with no motivation, wandering the world, attacking any who will approach you in your insanity."
Pyrrha slowly shrank inwards as the Old Woman spoke, and saw how well her words fit into all she had gone through, from her waking up in a sarcophagus to her second death at the hands of Gundyr. She raised her head upward for a question. "But, what about my world? Is there any way to return?" she asked, desperate for an answer. "Am I...stuck here? Forever?"
The woman scowled instead. "Is our world not worth considering? Didst thou not peer out into that cemetery of ash? See how our lands crumble?"
"T-that's not- I didn't mean…," Pyrrha stuttered, naturally apologetic. The Firekeeper moved to her for support, but Pyrrha was preoccupied.
"No, perhaps not. But regardless of circumstance and independant of reasons, we need thee. Thou hast answered the bell, which calls for a warrior to help us. I look upon thee, and I see a woman who wouldst not turn away from a people in need. Only in helping would we provide you the answers thou seek. Who knows? Mayhap you find these on your own in so doing. The bell has rung, and the fire that has made our civilization possible is dying. At the same time, thou hast come to our door. To protect us, and protect the link of fire, and find the answers you seek, 'tis thine destiny..."
Pyrrha froze at these words as she said them.
"Thou believe in destiny, dost thou not?" the Old Woman inquired.
Pyrrha shook herself out of her stunned expression and nodded. "I do."
"So… what is thine answer?"
Pyrrha looked down at her hands and at the thrones just barely visible from the hall. She thought of all that had happened, how confusing and tiring being in this world had been for just a moment. She thought of all the people she knew back home.
Who may not even know if she was alive...if she was. And from where she was, she couldn't see refusing this quest as anything but selfish and self-defeating. At least by accepting she could find answers while helping them while finding a way back to her own world. She had no other choice.
She paused for a long while thinking. Finally, she turned to the Old Woman.
The woman smiled her toothless smile. "Yes, indeed…"
Author's Notes: Very exposition heavy (and misdirect heavy now that I mention it) chapter, I hope that's alright for people. For those asking, I have not purchased the DLCs when making this fic and crafting the direction, so chances are I won't adapt those into the story (though it seemed interesting), since it doesn't exactly have to do with the main story as far as I'm aware. As for side-quests, I'll do ones that contribute to the character development and/or the main story, but not every NPC is going to be met chances are.
Thanks for reading, the next update is going to be rather small, but I hope its content more than makes up for it. As always, I'll see you on Friday.
It's not all bad. M&B:W given me a few good ideas in my original work (the same original work I put off to play M&B:W >.>)
I certainly hope this story can serve as a good introduction to Dark Souls for a good deal of people (as an intro to RWBY, not so much. You pretty much have to know a lot more about that to go anywhere, especially with Pyrrha's dreams).
Pyrrha was floating in darkness, disconnected from all sensation, a strange tense feeling in her eyes. Eventually however, gravity returned and she was standing again. She was puzzled, but accepted it for now, simply attempting to look around and find any landmarks. The darkness eventually gave way to a horizon as stars came into the sky, and in the distance she saw an entryway, with a dim orange light. She walked to it, somehow reaching it in an instant.
Going through her vision blurred, but when she came to, she was shocked. She was on Beacon tower again, except it was extremely dark, floating well lit in a black void. In the center she saw Cinder and...herself. Cinder glared at Pyrrha- the other Pyrrha and stepped back, forming her bow and arrow. Despite her growing sense of dread, Pyrrha felt compelled to watch. Next to her, a flash of red appeared, Ruby Rose. She turned her head, seeing her friend clear as day. The arrow then hit the Pyrrha in the middle of the tower. Ruby’s face flashed briefly before turning into an expression of shock and sorrow, tears beginning to well in her eyes. The Pyrrha who was shot by the arrow quickly collapsed, and Cinder began to walk toward her. Cinder placed her hand on her forehead...Pyrrha, Ruby, and Beacon tower itself burst into furious flame. The void burned away too, and Pyrrha heard the distorted, distant screams of the people below. Pyrrha looked at all of this buried her face in her hands and-
Pyrrha then awoke in shock. She shuffled about where she was sleeping. She was...in her team’s dorm?
“You’ve grown so much since we started training. And I know this is just the beginning.”
She paused. Those were her words she heard, they echoed as though they were in a large hall. She turned her head right to where she heard the source, and saw Jaune sitting with his phone, a joyless expression on his face.
Jaune didn’t move an inch. He didn’t seem to hear her. Pyrrha got out of bed, not noticing a trail of shadow flowing behind her.
“I-I…I want you to know that I’m just happy to be a part of your life.” said the scroll. Pyrrha began tearing up. She knew what he was watching
On her right lumbar, a ring of dull orange shined, and from it shadow began to emerge and creep its way long her body. Pyrrha reached out, wanting to at least touch him. The shadow grew more and more, leaving her body and spreading to the room. The video began echoing more and louder.
“I'll always be here for you, Jaune...”
As Pyrrha’s hand grew closer, Jaune began to dissolve into ash as his clothes fell to the floor in a crumpled heap. The Scroll too began to fall apart.
Pyrrha felt absolute terror and dread, distraught at everything falling away. Suddenly the darkness manifested in front of her, forming a figure. It took the shape of a Beowolf, a Creature of Grimm. Pyrrha, uncharacteristically, stepped back in fear. Behind the Beowolf, several corpse like figures melted out from the woodwork, and appeared behind her as well, all with the same glowing red eyes. The Beowolf roared a loud, yet rather distant, roar and lunged, turning into the shadowy serpent that had overtaken Gundyr mid-leap. As it clos-
Pyrrha’s eyes jerked open, seeing nothing at first before vision began buzzing in. Her body was still and borderline deathly tense, and she inhaled in alarm. Slowly feeling began to seep back in and she slowly got up. She had slept in the middle of what was called “Firelink Shrine,” opting to start her journey tomorrow. Hawkwood, the man sitting on the steps, observed all this, only offering an amused “hmph,” as though he had seen this before. Pyrrha failed to take this in, however as she hugged her knees and squeezed her eyes shut. While she had recovered from the night terror for the moment, it had left her exhausted.
Author’s Notes: As stated, a short update, but I’m hoping it has some good content in it. However, next update will be even longer than previously, so that should make up for it. Also, I’m happy to say this story is so close to 1,000 views. Thank you for reading my first published fanfic so loyally. As always, I’ll see you Friday.
With her rest disturbed, Pyrrha began wandering the shrine, looking to collect herself before beginning her journey. She began reading the plaques behind the thrones, the ones belonging to Lords of Cinder she apparently had to bring back. “Yhorm the Giant. Of the Profaned Capital,” read the one belonging the truly enormous throne, the title clearly not hyperbole. “Watchers of the Abyss,” read the comparatively smaller one, which was lined with swords and draped in wolf pelts. The one at the head of the shrine’s thrones seemed carved in still heated magma, and that read “Holy King Lothric. Last hope of his Line.”
“Lothric,” Pyrrha repeated, the name of the kingdom she was told she was in.
She went down to the next throne, the one belonging to “Ludleth the Exiled.” However when she got there, she heard humming in front of the throne. Curious, she climbed down and walked to the front of the throne when-
“Ah, evening Ashen One” came a kindly voice from the throne.
Pyrrha turned her head and gasped in surprise, nearly falling off the ledge the throne was on. The voice came from what looked like a living corpse, adorned in tattered regalia and a crown worn off center. While he still retained his nose and his skin appeared healthier than the creatures she’d encountered in the graveyard, his appearance was still of an atrophied body, and below his waist he was missing two legs, his lordly gown hanging loose over where his stumps were.
“Woah there youngin’” chuckled the man, “I didn’t mean to startle thee. I may not have most genteel of appearances, but I assure thee I am quite harmless.”
Having calmed down, Pyrrha began to address him. “Who are you?”
“Weren’t thou not reading the plaques on the thrones? I am Ludleth the Exiled, originally of Courland, though I doubt thou hast heard of such a place.”
Pyrrha smiled, disarmed by Ludleth’s unambiguously kindly demeanor, “No, I’m sorry I haven’t.”
“And what would thine name be, if thou don’t mind my asking?”
“Pyrrha. Pyrrha Nikos” Pyrrha answered earnestly.
“Ah, a pleasure to make thine formal acquaintance Ms. Nikos. I trust the Handmaiden and the Fire Keeper have informed thee of your mission’s location?”
“I’m to go to a place known as the “High Wall of Lothric” am I not?” Pyrrha stated a bit confused.
Ludleth cheekily smiled, “But thou’st not know how to get there do thee?”
Pyrrha shuffled, “They told me to place the sword I obtained from the graves into the center, but…”
“Don’t be so hard on them child. They have dealt with many an Undead who had known their purpose and the way our world works. When thou rest at the Bonfire, the Fire Keeper will assist thee in transporting yourself there initially. To return, simply rest at a bonfire, clear your mind, and think of the place you wish to go to, visualize it, and you will find yourself there.”
Pyrrha absorbed Ludleth’s advice, and after a brief pause smiled, thankful to have someone to talk to.
Pyrrha took the coiled sword and began to plunge it into the center of the shrine. As she placed it, the sword silently caught on fire, and despite the growing heat, Pyrrha firmly plunged it all the way through and the bonfire had caught into a familiar, life giving blaze. Pyrrha sat down, rested by the bonfire. Behind her, the Fire Keeper walked slowly to her and placed her hands on her and the bonfire’s sword. Pyrrha felt a surge of energy flow through them both.“Be safe Ashen One” the Fire Keeper bid, as Pyrrha felt the universe unravel.
When she came to, she was sitting in the middle of a room of stone blocks. The room was dirty and barren, and smelled of dust. Slightly nauseated and disoriented from the transport, she got up and looked around, moving forward to the door to the outside. She placed both hands on the door and proceeded to push, eventually creaking it open more and more. When she finally opened it all the way she gazed out at Lothric Castle. The High Wall and the castle were even more intricate and beautiful up close than belied from where she was in the graves, but both were clearly in terrible decay, and the whole area smelled of burning debris and flesh, the air a sulfuric shade of yellow. She scanned the battlements and found an unlit bonfire.
After lighting, she rested for a while, recalling Ludleth’s advice on how to return should she need to. She got up and opted to explore. Going to the left, she went down to a section of the wall, which was lined by several statues of cloaked women holding lit candles. The sight of the undead huddled on the wall however, while unnerving at first made her heart sink. Several undead, either clothed in cloth scraps or padded armor, surrounded strange and frightening effigies of corpses on maypoles, and they pawed and knelt before them, reaching out in desperate reverence, moaning pleading prayers incoherent even to them. The undead who didn’t do this simply lay on the ground, either deathly still, crying, or simply sitting in despair.
In all of Pyrrha’s life, she had never seen such...misery. On Remnant, despair, fear and negative feeling, in sufficient quantity and magnitude, could attract hordes of Grimm which could destroy entire kingdoms. Indeed this very thing had happened before she died and awoke in Lothric. However here, people were allowed to stew in despair and fear, the Darksign she was told of ensuring it continue until it drains them of their mind, as it had already to these people on the wall, crushingly forced to find something to cling to if it meant to avoid losing what little they still had. Pyrrha found herself staring empathetically at the crowds of undead, sobbing around the maypoles.
However, she wasn’t alone with them on the wall, and a hollowed soldier spotted her and rushed at her. Pyrrha had spotted him, deflected his strike with her sword and knocked him back before stabbing him. The praying undead had huddled in terror, going silent. Pyrrha knocked the soldier off her sword, but when she turned her head left, a hooded ghoul with a lantern and a broken sword hilt came from the steps, and released a loud, high pitched scream, which caused Pyrrha to cover her ears. The hollowed soldiers on the bridge covered their ears as well, but then rose in anger and began to attack Pyrrha. Whatever the lantern bearers did, it compelled them to action, and Pyrrha was forced to deal with them. She blocked a good amount of their attacks and stabbed one while pushing one into another. A hollow soldier charged, flailing wildly, but Pyrrha’s combat experience let her grab the assailant by the arm and use its momentum to throw it off the wall, before turning around and slashing another. The hollow with the lantern began to back off as another soldier charged, but Pyrrha saw its retreat and followed. Pyrrha bashed the soldier to the ground before jumping at the lantern bearer, killing it.The fight over for now, she began to gauge her-
And she froze when she saw what was right next to her. A large, dead, lizard-like thing, with spikes, horns and, upon looking up at where it had landed on the parapet, wings. It was a dragon, and its appearance, while different to the one at Beacon, brought back unpleasant memories nonetheless. Of the beast flying over Vale, dropping Grimm where it did, the entire top of Beacon’s tower being blasted apart by its collision when it assisted Cinder, and vaguely recalling it landing on the tower just as she was defeated. And yet this creature was clearly long dead, its body covered in insects and mayflies, as well as unidentifiable black specks floating from it. Pyrrha, though horrified at seeing a creature such as this again, knew that everything in this world seemed to be suffering.
Free of her shock for now, Pyrrha pressed forward into the wall’s innards, defeating the hollows standing guard in the tower. The gate to the other side, where a ghoul was wandering aimlessly, was covered by rubble, the only way open being down a ladder through the trapdoor. Coming through the other side of the tower several hollow soldiers laid in wait, one with a shield and another with a crossbow. She sped toward the shield bearer while keeping tabs on the crossbowman. She made a light slash against the shield, but as it began to reel back for an attack, Pyrrha stepped out of the way and the crossbowman fired into its own ally. Shaken from the fire damage, Pyrrha went in for a finishing slash before turning to the crossbowman. Behind it however was several more soldiers, and one managed to fire a bolt at her stomach while the other one was reloading. Pyrrha dodged the second bolt and began to go up the stairs, but there were even more soldiers up there, and they began to advance on her.
At that moment however, a very much alive dragon appeared. Both Pyrrha and the hollows looked up, the hollows in confusion and Pyrrha in horror. The dragon glanced down at them for a second before screeching a loud cry and releasing a plume of fire. The hollows were instantly consumed and Pyrrha, reacting as fast as she could, went prone on the stairs and raised her shield, angled slightly to direct the flame over her body. The hollows below were affected by the flame as well. Pyrrha’s shield arm began searing in painful heat, but Pyrrha clenched her teeth and waited for the fire to dissipate. When the dragon let up, Pyrrha rose, the ground beneath her still hot from the fire, and went up the stairs. She pushed past the remaining hollow soldiers who were still on fire and ran to where the dragon wouldn’t be a threat: inside the tower. She made it inside just as the front of the tower was enveloped in flames again.
Panting in relief, Pyrrha went down the steps inside the tower. Ahead was the ladder leading out, but at the back of the tower was a peculiar chest. She grabbed the ladder’s rung, but stopped, looked to the chest, and walked toward it.
As she grew closer, she saw that it was unlocked, and its chain was dangling away from it, as well as hearing a strange swirling sound. Cautious she grabbed the lid and slowly lifted. When she did, in the darkness she saw a shadowy battle-axe...and teeth. Her eyes snapped wide and her pupils dilated, leaping back just as arms reached out to grab her from the chest.
Having missed their mark, the mimic then picked set itself up onto its legs, which were sickeningly long to match its sickeningly long torso and arms, far too long to possibly fit in its chest form. Its mouth consisted of long, brown-red teeth and a depraved tongue, which hung drooling from its mouth. Pyrrha, under no circumstances, wished to fight this horrid creature and ran up the steps. The mimic followed, giggling as it pursued. The platform on the other side was separated by a gap, but choosing that over the mimic was no conflict and Pyrrha leaped, making the jump as the mimic fell to where it was. The mimic got up and tried to grab Pyrrha’s legs, which dangled from the platform. However Pyrrha, frightened greatly, was only just able to get her legs up as she felt the mimic’s hand brush her calf. Pyrrha hyper-ventilated, finally being able to control her breathing after a good while.
Opening the gate out of the tower, the mimic having given up and gone back to its spot in the back, Pyrrha exited, greeted again by the High Wall’s burning aroma. She walked forward and saw a glint from the doorway of the tower on the other side. Out of the entryway was a figure clad in shining plate armor with a red cape, completely set apart from the tattered jackets of the soldiers. The knight seemed to not see Pyrrha, but curious, she approached it.
“Uh, h-hello?” Pyrrha greeted it. The knight snapped its head to her and charged. Pyrrha quickly blocked its hard hitting upper swing and dodged its follow up. She readied herself and tried circling it, but the knight would have none of that and smashed her with its shield, sending her on her back. The knight prepared another attack, but Pyrrha deflected the strike with her shield and got up while slashing its ankle, stunning it. When she got back up, the knight had readied its weapon, holding it with two hands. Pyrrha looked to its movements and waited for it to strike. The knight swung from the bottom up, but Pyrrha spun to the side and slashed at the knight when it did. She released a flurry of slashes to punish it for its opening. The knight made one last horizontal strike, but Pyrrha ducked and stabbed the knight, causing it to erupt in a cascade of light and disappear. Pyrrha, exhausted from her trek across the wall and an inch away from death, walked into the tower and up the stairs outside of it. On the top of the tower was a bonfire. Relieved, she went to it and rested. She had much more to go through, it seemed. She needed her rest.
Author’s Notes: Here we are 2,000 words, and several hundred views over 1,000 (though the actual visitor count is still under that). Thank you for the viewership. Funny story; the following chapter was originally 5,000+ words long, but it has been cut in two to provide more consistency. The chapters will probably be around the 2,000 mark from here on out (barring the half-chapters of course). As always, I’ll see you Friday at 12 (btw, by 12, I mean 12 PST. Sorry for just telling you now XD).
Pyrrha sat at the foot the alcove where a burly, bearded man named Andre had made his shop. Although there was plenty of space, Andre kept himself only in the middle of the entrance, sitting on a wooden chair, surrounded by various blades, hammers, and shields, all the while hammering a red-hot piece of metal on an anvil.
“So, how’d ye enjae yer first foray into Lothric, lass?” Andre asked, pausing his nearly constant hammering to talk with her.
Pyrrha shivered somewhat to alleviate her stillness, having become used to the clattering of the hammer.
“Better...and worse, than I thought” Pyrrha answered, recalling the sadness of the hollows on the wall and the sheer amount of horror that had taken place atop it.
“Heh, sounds rath’r rough. You didn’t get yerself killed too often, did ye?”
Pyrrha looked at the floor. “About two or three times, perhaps...”
“Hmm, not too bad, but I pegged ye for a more savvy lass than that. The Estus not help?”
Pyrrha perked her head up at this new noun. “What was that you just said?”
“That Estus Flask ye have, didn’t it help?”
Pyrrha blinked and then reached into her back pocket, pulling out the golden flask she found in her sarcophagus. “You mean this?”
“Aye. Estus: An Undead favorite, it heals the body from any wound. As for the mind, well, that’s up to you. Doesn’t do you much good if you’re dead though, so people use it whenever they can” Andre explained to her, returning to his hammering.
Pyrrha looked at the flask and proceeded to take a hesitant sip from it, which quickly turned into an enthusiastic chug. The drink had the consistency of light syrup, but it had the pure flavour of a favorite meal and refreshment of cool water on a warm day, and the warmth of the sun on a cold one.
Pyrrha exhaled as she emptied the flask. Andre let out an amused chuckle. “Nice to see you like it too lass, but ye really got to ration it. It refills at bonfires, but ye won’t always be near one when yer travelin’.”
“Thank you Andre”
“I take it back, yer more skilled than I thought, going that long without any Estus and managin’ only a few deaths.”
Pyrrha blinked wearily. “How do you get used to it so easily? Dying? Every time it happened to me, it’s always been frightening as is waking up at the bonfire realizing what happened,” Pyrrha said, holding her forehead with her hand.
Andre stopped hammering. “Who knows? Might be a be a blessing, really. I’ve met too many undead who’ve stopped caring whether they lived or died, no matter what I tell ‘em. Never see ‘em again, though I assume they just go hollow when that happens. ‘Least ye got a healthy fear o’ death, keeps ye alive long enough to get ye to yer goal.”
“How is it like for you though?”
“Mmm?” Andre grunted, confused at the query.
“How do you deal with dying?”
“I don’t recall ever dyin’” Andre replied simply, returning once again to his smithing.
“You’re just human?”
“Oh gods, no. I’ve lived too long to be considered one. I’ve been in my trade since...hmph...well I reckon’ since the First Flame first started dyin’. That was a long time ago.”
Pyrrha didn’t pry deeper, she didn’t want to ask how long ago was ‘a long time ago.’ “Well, thank you Andre. I think your words helped.”
“Don’t mention it, lass.” Andre said, briefly pausing and then hammering again. Pyrrha began to walk back to the shrine’s bonfire. “Oi, lass, I forgot somethin’. Come ‘ere!” Andre called suddenly. Pyrrha went back to see what it was all about, and Andre reached down into a box and took out various gems and metal fragments. “I ain’t simply ‘ere for decoration. Ye find any o’ these out in yer travels, bring ‘em to me and I’ll forge yer blade into something ye can fight with. Heh heh.”
Back on the tower, Pyrrha got up, looking briefly at the corpses on the poles, which ringed the whole parapet. The corpses looked finely balanced on the poles, and were reaching outward. More unnerving was the long, wing like protrusions from their backs, which were lined in threads where presumably feathers would go.
Walking down the steps, she was immediately greeted with a knife to the chest, which gave her a good amount of pain, but more alarmed her than anything. The thrower crouched down near the barrels and unsheathed another to throw, which Pyrrha swatted away. Seeing the knives would no longer work, the hooded figure brandished a short sword and charged. Pyrrha blocked the first attack, but the figure attacked quick enough to get a nick on her arm. Pyrrha grunted in pain, but still slashed at the hooded hollow. Without the heavier armor of the soldiers, the hooded one fell quickly.
The hollow’s body fell, but Pyrrha heard footsteps lower in the tower. She looked through the broken floor in the tower, seeing a patrolling hollow. Pyrrha decided to capitalize on this by balancing on the exposed support beams, followed by dropping down on the unsuspecting hollow. Behind her however was another hooded ghoul, who got up upon seeing her and charged with its dagger. Pyrrha however redirected the ghoul and threw it into the barrels, the hollow, slashing it when it got up for another attack.
Before her was an exit to the tower, with orange tinted sunlight peering through the entryway. Behind her however was a ladder to a lower floor in the tower. Despite the consequences of her curiosity before with the mimic, she wasn’t going to learn anything or get a better sense of her location playing it completely safe. Besides, she had very little to lose when it came down to it...besides dying of course.
Pyrrha elected to go down the ladder, where she was greeted by an undead halberdier. The hollow began jogging toward her before finally made a diagonal slash that Pyrrha was only just able to roll away from. The hollow made another horizontal slash that Pyrrha managed to duck under before retaliating with some quick slashes. The hollow, unwilling to let her continue capitalizing on her close proximity to it, shoved her with the shaft of the halberd and prepared an overhead swing, but Pyrrha used her shield to keep it far enough away and use the momentum of her pivot to impale it with her sword.
Allowing the hollow to fall, she made her way through the tower. Through the halls and down the steps was a small opening to the outside, which lead to another section of the tower. Moving into this section she saw a large prison cell, with door that proved to be locked. Crouching in the middle of the cell craning its head, no doubt to hear what was approaching, was a person with a strange, long hood with eyeholes cut out and wearing the same tattered armor the soldiers wore as well as torn trousers. The man perked up when he saw her and spoke.
“Ah, you’re no jailer are you?” the man asked, his voice raspy and somewhat muffled by his hood. “No no, you’re from far away.”
Pyrrha was taken aback by the strange person talking to her from the cell. “How do you know that?”
“Ah, I can see it in your eyes lass.”
Pyrrha was puzzled. “I’m sorry, what about my eyes?”
“They’re...I haven’t the foggiest, they’re... different. But you are sane aren’t you? Not like those hollows outside? Could I convince you to let me free from this cell?”
Pyrrha leered away from the suspicious character asking her to free him. “Wait, who are you?”
“Ah, I should have introduced myself. I am Greirat, of the Undead Settlement, and though I may be a petty thief, I have more wit than most nobl-”
“A thief? That explains the cell.”
“W-well I mean, listen. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, love, but the end time are on us. I-I don’t think anyone-”
“I don’t have any key that can release you, and even if I did, I can’t just let you go free and pilfer things from people who need it” Pyrrha said. She then began to walk away. Greirat, his facade broken and growing desperate, grabbed the bars and called after her.
“Wait, WAIT! You don’t have to let me out, just listen to me! I have to ask something of you, PLEASE!” Greirat called out to her. Pyrrha stopped and turned around, going to Greirat’s cell. Greirat, having Pyrrha’s attention, continued in a still somewhat shaken voice “I need you to deliver something. You’re going by the Undead Settlement I warrant?”
“I...might be” Pyrrha responded, half still not trusting Greirat, half genuinely unsure of where to go.
Greirat fished out of his pocket a ring with a blue gemstone and held it up to Pyrrha. “I need you to take this ring to an old woman named Loretta, she lives in the settlement at the base of the High Wall. She needs this ring. Please, would you do this for me?”
Pyrrha felt sympathetic to Greirat’s selfless request and took the ring. “I will.”
“Thank you, love. What’s your name?”
Pyrrha hesitated, but responded warmly all the same. “Pyrrha.”
“Pyrrha” Greirat repeated. “I won’t forget this Pyrrha. Thank you.”
Pyrrha finally left the tower and proceeded to go the other way she saw higher in the tower.
Leaving the tower, she saw another corpse of a dragon. A pair of hollows were praying and prostrating before it, their moans as unintelligible as before. Pyrrha passed them by. She couldn’t understand why they’d worship such a monstrous looking creature, but seeing their desperation earlier in on the High Wall, she couldn’t be so callous as to fault them for clinging to something to keep them sane, to give them meaning. Up ahead, on a shingled roof, a larger group of hollows were surrounding another of the winged bodies on the spike. She approached them, all seemingly not hostile.
However, upon seeing her, one stood up. Pyrrha raised her shield preparing for it to strike. The hollow, however, started to release a pained, ear piercing screech which caused Pyrrha and the other hollows to cover her ears again. Beneath the skin of the hollow, a strange pulsation boiled beneath its back. The screeching abruptly ended as a shadowy force erupted from the hollow’s body, spraying pools of blood across the roof and blasting the other hollows away, killing them on impact. The force of the blast also broke the pole the winged hollow’s body rested on, scattering pieces all about. The shadowy figure took form, resembling the exact same serpent that she had fought in the Cemetery of Ash.
Pyrrha took a step back, but the serpent was on the attack. It leaped into the air and brought its claw down, sending Pyrrha against a rail. Pyrrha quickly got up, but her back felt smashed. Taking a moment of levity, Pyrrha quickly took a sip of Estus, which healed most of her pain, just in time to dodge a swipe from the serpent. The hollows that had survived the serpent’s violent birth had huddled where they were praying. Pyrrha looked to the serpent again, who opened its mouth and lunged to bite her, managing to sidestep and slash at the serpent’s neck. The serpent had hardly flinched and leaped into the air to slam itself down at her, sending her back and killing the hollow behind it. Pyrrha began to get up, but noticed the hollow still enveloped by the serpent, its legs moving the serpent to its target. She got up to do battle with the creature, blocking its swing, followed by slashing across both the serpent’s body and, more importantly, the hollow’s body. The serpent staggered but resumed its attack, stepping forward and swiping down. Pyrrha however bent backwards and twisted to face it again, slashing as she did, followed by swinging at it, finishing by stabbing the hollow inside in the head. The serpent was wounded by this, but it was able to retaliate, grabbing the arm that held her shield. The force of its grip forced Pyrrha to fall to her knees in pain, but she focused on flipping her sword to reverse grip and stabbed the serpent’s head.
The serpent recoiled under the sword before finally dying and dissolving, letting go of her arm, and leaving the hollow’s body where it stood. Pyrrha began to nurse her arm, still wincing in pain, before she remembered to drink her flask of Estus, which restored more feeling in her arm, as well as generally healing her wounds. Her injuries healed, she allowed herself to think about the existence of a second serpent. This one had come from a normal hollow, when previously she had seen it on Gundyr. Out of all the darkness she saw thus far in Lothric, she was puzzled by this familiar creature.
‘It’s like it’s spreading. There really must be a darkness taking hold in this land” She thought. ‘What is causing it? Were they always here? Was it because of this ‘First Flame’ dying?’
As she thought, she couldn’t find any answers, reasoning she’d have to talk to Ludleth or Andre about it. Now that she had been thinking about it, she realized she didn’t know how the Grimm came to be on her world, except for legends and fairy tales; a creation story about feud between divine brothers over light and darkness. As far as she knew, shadowy creatures like the serpent and The Grimm had always existed, and had always been apart of her life as a result.
‘It’s not about why...it’s about knowing’ she thought to herself, recalling the words she spoke to Jaune. She looked at the ruins of the shrine the hollows were huddled around, as well as the bodies of the hollows killed by the serpent, including its host, her head feeling heavy. ‘I don’t know this world though. Man has both light and dark, it’s what made us who we are, how we protected ourselves. But what happened to these people?’ she continued to think. She began to think of the thing on her right lumbar, the thing that she only noticed when she wished to. The Darksign she was told of.
“What does this curse do to people like them...like me?” Pyrrha asked herself. She stared at the serpent’s host. “To turn them into that?”
Author’s Notes: Here is part 1 of what was going to be chapter 6 before I split it up. Writing has been a little slow recently, I’d been distracted by important things, like C&C Red Alert 3, Civilization V, and Mount & Blade: Warband (I think M&B: Warband is actually worse for writing than Civ V, If you can believe that). But, I still have a back log, and hopefully I can manage it so I won’t run out and require a hiatus. Also, thank you for the 2,000+ views, and I hope you like it. As always, see you Friday, ~12 PST.
WC-83 wrote:Writing has been a little slow recently, I’d been distracted by important things, like C&C Red Alert 3, Civilization V, and Mount & Blade: Warband.
I know the feeling. Endless Legend, Read Only Memories, and Salt and Sanctuary. And quite a number of anime this season (Re:CREATORS is amazing).
Now, something more relevant, there's something I've been feeling in this chapter and Chapt.5.........Pyrrha is not Pyrrha enough. What I mean by this is, that, well, she doesn't feel enough like Pyrrha to me right now beyond the mention of things from her world.
You know those stories where people describe their playthroughs like one, but adding "thoughts and dialogue" to their character? Well, this is how this chapter felt to me. That I was reading someone's MC with personality, but not exactly Pyrrha. The fact that it seems she has no Aura or Semblance to help her here doesn't help.
In this regard, I say the previous chapters, especially 4.5, were much better, because the Pyrrha there did feel like Pyrrha, did feel like someone who arrived in a soon-to-die world right after dying and has no idea what's even happening.
Of course, there are parts that I think depend more on interpretation of her character. Like her seemingly (almost) abandoning Greirat to his fate just because he was a thief. I mean, considering the things she has seen and experienced since she arrived in Lothric, I would think she would be at least more sympathetic, at least until meeting Patches.
On a side note, I'm pretty sure I've said it before, but I'll say it again just in case: Bloodborne. It really, really, really would've been much more fitting for this kind of premise. In fact, the more one learns about it, the more fitting it is, to the point that not using it feels like a waste of total potential.
The most obvious aspects are the apparent setting, the style of the game and it's combat.
1-Victorian London-esque city. Now, it's not even half as advanced as Remnant, but it's at least somewhat closer to Vale's aesthethic. Well, leaving aside Yharnam's citizen's....quirks.
2-Hunters who fight Beasts, Monsters with varying levels of eldritchness.
3-Weapons with multiple forms, from an Axe that can switch between 1-handed and polearm forms, a Sword made of magnetic metal (Siderite. Yes, it exists) that can divide into dual daggers, a Spear that can turn into a rifle...
4-99% of all Armor and Shields being useless (due to 1) The monster's strength, and 2) Guns), thus leading to combat efficiency being more reliant on Speed and Evasion, which is more similar to RWBY.
Those are the most obvious. But once eyes start lining up in your brain and you realize more of what's really going on, it also makes it fitting in multiple ways, along with other things that while not necesarily fitting, do make things simpler to justify and/or add interesting ideas to the table:
1-The Hunter's Dream, and pretty much dreams in general, along with nightmares like the Nightmare of Mensis.
2-Insight, and the things you start to see ahead of time after you got enough eyes lined up in your brain as a result. Imagine how Pyrrha would react to seeing things like these. By extension, the things you fight as you gradually stop fighting werebeasts, crazy people, or electrified undead skeleton werewolves.
3-Yharnam Sunrise ending. Which, with modifications, can lead to a shocking ending.
(PS: Trying hard to avoid spoilers).
Due to the (real) setting in itself, and the beings involved, it's much easier to justify how Pyrrha ended up in Yharnam, and also much easier to justify the apparently-less-sensical stuff such as healing by injecting blood into oneself, or one's hand turning beast-like when doing Visceral Attacks due to the curse.
And due to the combat gameplay and the weapons, it's much easier to show Pyrrha fighting like...well, Pyrrha. Maybe more aggressive than before, since in Bloodborne if one doesn't fight like Guts one will get ganged-up by the horde of monsters until one is reduced to dust. But, the more-agressive style can also be justified as the result of getting a bit too close to Frenzy.
I really agree with the sentiment, especially the criticisms of Pyrrha. I'm trying to get things to be more action packed as well, even breaking some of Dark Souls' mechanics. I can't really change the setting mid-fic I'm afraid (of course, I can just abandon this fic and work on the PMMM/Bloodborne idea I had, but that's hardly sporting, espescially when I can just write better on the current fic).
To be perfectly honest, Pyrrha wasn't terribly interesting to begin with. She was just generically nice and perfect.
WC-83 wrote: 1-I'm trying to get things to be more action packed as well, even breaking some of Dark Souls' mechanics.
2-I can't really change the setting mid-fic I'm afraid (of course, I can just abandon this fic and work on the PMMM/Bloodborne idea I had, but that's hardly sporting, espescially when I can just write better on the current fic).
3-To be perfectly honest, Pyrrha wasn't terribly interesting to begin with. She was just generically nice and perfect.
1-Be careful with that. Dark Souls focuses more on being prepared and careful, much slower and paused, instead of frenzied and quick like RWBY. Making things more action-packed than nerve-packed can be good, but remember: It's still Dark Souls.
2-You could start once you finish this one, either under a pseudonym or with the same account. Use what you learned making this one to make another one.
3-Which kind of makes me feel she would be more sympathetic than she was to Greirat.
Also, a question: Multiplayer. Invasions, or lending a helping hand. I mean, she could get attacked by someone, or she (maybe after becoming a Sunsis, since you want her to get the Sunlight Spear) could go to someone else's world.
...Of course, Sunbros in DS3 can also get medals by invading, not just helping. Also, leaving aside Covenants: messages (trollish or helpful) on the ground, or seeing the ghosts of people who suffered yet another stupid death.
1. A few rules are going to have to be broken in order to make things interesting. Not too many, but a few.
2. I have no idea how long that'll be though. It could be awhile. But I did think of starting it once this fic was well along (to prevent it from being buried, or from people jumping ship because the author is an idiot who doesn't know how to manage his time).
3. I...could have handled that better, I just had this idea in my head. But I didn't think she'd be as receptive to a creepy sounding thief stuck alone in a jail cell. I may have thought wrong.
4. I don't know how I could incorporate invasions/multiplayer (since the bulk of the game, including the PvP, is inherintly single-player). I do plan on including at least 1 invasion in the game, even if it's from the AI. You don't have to be a SunBro/Sis to get the sunlight (or at least lightning) spear, you just have to find it.
1. I...could have handled that better, I just had this idea in my head. But I didn't think she'd be as receptive to a creepy sounding thief stuck alone in a jail cell. I may have thought wrong.
2. I don't know how I could incorporate invasions/multiplayer (since the bulk of the game, including the PvP, is inherintly single-player). I do plan on including at least 1 invasion in the game, even if it's from the AI.
3-You don't have to be a SunBro/Sis to get the sunlight (or at least lightning) spear, you just have to find it.
1-Yeah...I mean, my main issue with the thing is that while I understand not trusting him for multiple reasons, the way you wrote it makes it seem like her main reason for leaving him there was that he was a thief. And to quote him...well, the end of times are upon them. If anything, the idea of there still being people left to steal from is amazing in itself.
2-Now that you mention it, you were attacked in DS3 by NPC Phantoms at some points, right?
3-Being a Sunbro is still the simpler way though...
Speaking of Covenants, will she join one? And which one? I mean, there's not just Warriors of Sunlight, there's also Way of Blue, Blue Sentinels, Discount Priscylla-tan's Darkmoon Blades......and I assume she wouldn't even think of things like Mound Makers or Rosaria's Fingers, even less Aldrich Faithful.
I can probably rectify that in the next chapter. I don't know exactly how though.
That's what I was thinking, the NPCs.
Most of the covenents are multiplayer focused however. I did think of the Blue Sentinals having some role, but not an especially strong one, mostly either character development or lore. Besides, a good amount of covenants (Darkmoon Blades and Warriors of Sunlight) appear later in-game.
I just realized something watching a DS lore video. The only reason Unkindled Ash rise when the bell tolls is because they failed. They failed in life before becoming undead and are only called as a last resort. So how is Pyrrha like that if she's never technically failed? She only got killed. Is it the regret that motivates her?
It certainly makes sense, kind of what I was thinking too when it was brought to my attention. The Unkindled tried to kindle the First Flame when they were called to link it, but they were too weak and ended up turning into useless ash, unfit to be a Lord of Cinder, who are capable of fueling the First Flame.
ACWeapons wrote: I just realized something watching a DS lore video. The only reason Unkindled Ash rise when the bell tolls is because they failed. They failed in life before becoming undead and are only called as a last resort.
You're right and wrong.
The Unkindled are Undead who had the capacity to Link the Fire, but lacked enough will and force and thus were consumed by it instead. Put in another way, they weren't even fit to be kindling for the Flame. Indeed, try to Link the Fire yourself, you manage to achieve nothing.
The only reason they are being summoned, X amount of time later, is because the Lords of Cinder who can do it, aren't in a fit state to do it. It's not because they failed in life. But they are indeed being called as a sort of Last Resort. Then they are given the job of returning the Lords of Cinder to their thrones by the Fire Keeper.
The Unkindled died and were buried in the Cemetery of Ash, before being revived by the Bell of Awakening as an Unkindled Lord of Cinder (they can become a real LoC by using Ember). For the same reason they don't Hollow or need humanity unless they get branded with the Dark Sigil.
The question, however, is indeed "how did Pyrrha end up an Unkindled?". She never failed to Link the Fire. She never tried. But it has nothing to do with "failing in life" or "having regret".
@WC: By the way, what do you mean by Cinder!Phantom? A phantom with a build that resembles Cinder? (Pyromancer with dual swords and a bow). Or actual Cinder, which makes less sense?
In either case, why replace an existing Phantom? Just add an extra one somewhere, which would also resemble the Invasions without much problem.
It's unrealistic to do right now. You realize that? It's not that I don't like Bloodborne, it looks fantastic, it sounds fantastic, and its story is fantastic (I know about the story yes), but I cannot do it right now, not with this fic. The baby isn't old enough to feed itself yet.
She began moving again, making her way through assorted cellars and rooms. However, she noticed a large storage room, and paused when she heard a panting noise. She creeped her way down, not wanting to attract any attention. She followed the sound to a small rectangular pit that had stairs leading down. Horrified, she saw what appeared to be a hollowed dog, staring at a body that was gripping a ring keys. Momentarily distracted by this, she failed to notice a hollow soldier slowly approaching until it charged, tackling her and throwing her down the stairs. The shock of falling down made her vulnerable to the dog’s wrath, seemingly maddened by her interruption of its vigil. The dog had pounced on top of her, trying to knash at her throat and face. However Pyrrha kept its head in place until she was able to throw it off. Both the soldier and the dog came at her however, and in a hurry she picked up the closest sword nearby and slashed twice without thinking. The soldier went down while the dog leaped back, at surprising distance given its atrophy. The dog leaped again, but Pyrrha brought the sword down, sending it on the floor along the floor in the direction it was swung.
Pyrrha recovered again after the battle, taking another sip of Estus although the pain was minimal this time. She looked at her sword, which was not the longsword she had been using, but a broadsword, with a more triangular blade meant for slashing. The weight and feel of the weapon reminded her greatly of her xiphos, the sword she had back on Remnant. After examining the sword, she turned to the item in the corpse’s hand, the ring of keys. She took the keys and looked at them before remembering what she may have needed them for.
Pyrrha walked to the cell, awakening Greirat from his slumber. He got up and was surprised when Pyrrha put the key into the cell and opened the door.
“Oh, hello, you’re back. Did ye get a chance to deliver that ring?” Greirat asked.
“I haven’t yet, I just found the keys and thought I’d set you free.”
Greirat paused. “Huh. What changed your mind lass?”
Pyrrha hesitated as well. “You seemed honest...enough.”
“Honest? Ha! Ah, not many people have called me that.” Greirat laughed.
Pyrrha however paused at this sentence, finally replying. “Did she?” She asked sincerely.
Greirat sat still, presumably agape at her comment. “Eh, what?” He asked as though he had no idea what she was talking about.
“The old woman you wanted me to deliver this to. I was just wondering if...” Pyrrha tried to ask, stumbling on how to word it. “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to-”
Greirat interrupted after being absorbed by Pyrrha’s deduction. “Eh, well, I just needed to tie up some loose ends. Y’know, ‘end of days’ and all.”
Pyrrha paused, having not received a clear answer, before nodding.
“Well, you helped me, and you agreed to help me further, perhaps I can help you for a change.” Greirat propositioned, scampering from his cell. Pyrrha gazed puzzled by Greirat’s movement and followed him back up the stairs.
“Wait, what is it you’re helping me with?” Pyrrha asked confused as to what Greirat was trying to accomplish.
“Well you’re going to need to know where to go aren’t you?” Greirat asked. “There’s a woman here last I heard. She can get you to the Undead Settlement.” Greirat continued to move, going past the storage room Pyrrha found and out to a balcony. Following him, she got a close look at where he had stopped. The balcony overlooked a large fountain, which would have been beautiful if not for the assorted corpses and suits of armor surrounding it, ringed around the fountain and the courtyard as small fires burned, with swords and spears adorned with banners sticking out of the ground. At the top of the fountain was a statue of a thin, cloaked, and hooded boy with long hair, kneeling down and propping up a greatsword almost as large as he was.
Pyrrha was aghast once more at the devastation present in what appeared to be a once great and thriving kingdom, prompting her to ask Greirat: “What...happened here?”
“Civil war, The Fire fading, the dead rising.” Greirat responded, completely blasé. “It’s leveled several kingdoms, ones I can’t even remember the name of. As for these sorry souls, I have good money on him.” Greirat then pointed near the fountain at a giant armored knight with a halberd patrolling the plaza, with a suit of armor with decorative wings and a shape that made it appear morbidly obese.
“I get the impression we don’t want to tangle with him,” Greirat said, “follow me and don’t make a sound.”
Greirat then proceeded to loudly shatter the boxes next to him, revealing an opening in the balcony railing, through which they jumped down. It was a lower level of the plaza, with a set of stone stairs leading up to the main fountain area, and through it the exit. In the pit they were in, there were several suits of armor and swords strewn, the armor slumped over as though their occupants gave up and rested there. Up close she realized the suits were empty, its occupants probably having died a long time ago. The two huddled to the edge of the ledge at the other side of the stairs up, waiting for the winged knight to pass. However, behind them was a hollow soldier, assumed to be just another corpse, who got up silently and with a shrill cry lunged at the two. Greirat and Pyrrha heard this and dodged, the hollow loudly crashing into a suit of armor.
“He’s going give us away!” Greirat hissed. The winged knight had indeed stopped its patrol, but it had not yet taken notice of them specifically. Greirat tackled the hollow and unsheathed a dagger, stabbing the hollow repeatedly as it tried resisting, while Pyrrha stood stunned, switching her view between the fight and glancing at the knight, seemingly unaware of the brawl between them, and it began moving in its normal pattern. After a scuffle, the hollow fell silent, Greirat stumbling to Pyrrha’s side with two bones in his hand, and resumed his observation of the knight’s rounds.
“That’s...certainly something I’ll never do again…” Greirat said, somewhat shaken. “He’s moved, let’s go” he whispered.
Pyrrha and Greirat made their way, precisely slipping by the knight in synch with when it turned its corner. Making their way, they arrived to another, narrower courtyard, with a castle chapel with a large, blue window overlooking it, with the courtyard acting as a pathway between a set of double doors located below a somewhat large stairway and the chapel, and an overhead pathway opposite where Pyrrha and Greirat came from.
Pyrrha and Greirat hid behind bushes near the center of the courtyard, where two of the knights from the High Wall were patrolling alternatingly. Greirat however saw a pattern.
“Ah, I know how we’re getting past this”
“How?” Pyrrha asked.
“They patrolling, but occasionally they’ll both face the same way. In that moment we dash to the other side and enter that chapel” Greirat said as he pointed to their destination.
They agreed on the plan, and once the knights had turned their backs they ran across, heading up the stone flight of stairs to the walkway overlooking the courtyard. However, as they made their way across, they found a knight walking up to the opposite side of the walkway near the chapel, which spotted them.
“I did not know he was here” Greirat sputtered, quite embarrassed as Pyrrha readied for a fight.
The knight lifted its sword upright on the other side of himself and swung at them as he approached them. Greirat backflipped back while Pyrrha raised her shield, which pushed her slightly back. Pyrrha immediately retaliated with a slash, which the knight tanked and followed by slamming its shield into her face, slightly dazing her. It prepared for another slash, but as it did Pyrrha slashed and when it swung she ducked, slipping behind and stabbing the knight in the back, Pyrrha pushing the knight off her sword once the damage had been done. The knight began stirring, but Pyrrha leaped and plunged her sword into it before it got up, causing it to start dissolving into bright, white particles. Greirat nervously approached a somewhat tired Pyrrha.
“My, you’re good, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone beat a Lothric Knight in personal combat.”
Pyrrha straightened and took a sip of Estus, “From what I can see they aren’t ones to be around for long.”
“Oh yeah, ‘course that’s just a normal rule I have. The ‘pillars of Lothric’ don’t take kindly to ill-doers such as myself.” Greirat explained.
Rather quickly afterward, and after waiting for the other knights’ patrol to synch up, they entered the chapel, which was much larger than had appeared on the outside, its form hidden by being connected to the rest of the wall. The inside contained a large hall, with large wooden beams connecting to the ceiling and a large red carpet lining the middle, which lead up to a shrine at the end of the hall, in front of which was an old woman wearing a blue cloak sitting on a wooden throne.
“Who goes there? What business have ye both?” cried the old woman.
“Ah, I’m sorry for intruding miss. I’m Pyrrha Nikos, I was told you can get me to the Undead Settlement.”
“Oh? Are you...yes, you must be the Ashen One.” the old woman investigated.
Pyrrha shifted. “So I’m told.” Pyrrha somberly muttered as the two approached the throne where she sat.
“I am Emma, High Priestess of Lothric Castle. You must have been made aware: you won’t find the Lords of Cinder here, they’ve abandoned their thrones. I can grant you access to the lands at the base of this castle, where the Lords have returned to their churning homes. Please take this.”
Emma reached behind her and handed Pyrrha a small banner on a somewhat small pole.
“Forge on through the main gate and plant this banner to proceed.”
Pyrrha took the banner and stared quizzically at it. “But, what do I do with it after?”
“Patience child, once you raise the banner, the rest shall follow suit.” Emma provided vaguely.
Greirat then turned to Pyrrha. “Well, I believe I fulfilled my end. Do you know of a safe place I can go to wait while you go off on your merry way?”
“Well, I’d say go to Firelink but I don’t see-”
“Very well, sounds good enough.” Greirat said. He then fished out the pair of bones he took from his pocket. “I’ll make my way over. Here, I’ve’ a spare. Don’t forget your promise Pyrrha. I meant it when I said she needed that ring.”
“Wait, what is this?” Pyrrha said halting Greirat, somewhat disturbed by holding a bone most likely from the corpse of the hollow.
“Hmm? Oh, well these are what we used to call ‘homeward bones.’ Just hold them, think of a sanctuary you know of, and then crush it in your hand, you’ll be there in a heartbeat.” Greirat then demonstrated, stepping back to a kneel, muttering almost inaudibly, before crushing it, a strange bright pattern forming around Greirat before he and the pattern disappeared almost in a cloud. Pyrrha looked to the bone in her hand and pocketed it, making her way out of the chapel.
Sneaking past the Lothric Knights, she went down the stairs that lead to a large set of double doors, opened. Through it, she went into a large room, about as large as the chapel’s had been, except mostly empty and stark, lined with the same empty suits of armor as the fountain plaza. She made her way to the very end of the room, which had a large gate covered in thick, encrusted vines. She reached out to touch them, however she then felt a strange, piercing chill...and heavy breathing. She turned around and saw a large, white plume of icy vapor, in the middle of which was forming a large being. As the vapor settled, the figure was revealed. It was large and intimidating, though sporting a large belly, and having ornate silver and blue armor, with impressive shoulder pauldrons and, most prominently, a snouted, intricate helmet through which she saw glowing blue eyes, and armed with a large flanged mace. Most disturbingly however, the being was in all fours, its body positioned perfectly for the stance, seeming more a dog than a person. By then the only vapor still surrounding this beast was that emanating from himself. It then arched backward and gave a loud howl into the sky and prepared to do battle.
Pyrrha reached for her shield and sword when it charged, raising its mace for an upward strike. Pyrrha blocked it but was launched back into the gate, where the creature then grabbed Pyrrha and threw her, sending her flying and landing hard on the stone brick to the left of her, near the wall. Pyrrha got up shaken, with the dog-like knight slowly advancing on her. She reached back and took another sip of Estus, rejuvenating herself more. The knight stepped back and prepared a long swing, but Pyrrha was ready this time and dived underneath, followed by stabbing the hand the creature used to hold itself up. The creature briefly faltered from the pain, but used the hand she stabbed to slap her away. Pyrrha fell to the ground and the creature leaped back and then up to crush her. Pyrrha saw this and rolled on the ground to avoid it, being directly underneath it when it landed, completely unharmed. The creature remained still, momentarily confused, allowing Pyrrha to sit up and start slashing at the beast above her, slashing at its stomach as blood fell on top of her. The beast began reacting to the pain and abruptly turned, knocking over her over. The beast then slammed its mace into the ground and held it there, with white, icy vapor beginning to billow from the ground and the beast itself. Pyrrha scuttled away and raised her guard, but she could feel the chill, and frost began to cover her shield, even going behind it.
The mist subsided, and the beast stepped back, and without warning dashed at Pyrrha, knocking her violently aside as it rammed into wall behind her. All the air in her lungs was knocked out from the force, and she felt extremely weak, with several parts of her body numb, but she crawled up and tried to make ready for another attack the beast may make. She took another sip of Estus, but as she brought it down she saw there was very little left, probably only good for one more drink. The creature turned around and charged again. This time Pyrrha was able to leap and grab hold of the beast’s armor, hanging on as it charged towards the door. As she hung on, she tried slashing at the beast’s neck. It kept running but after a few strikes it went faster and then abruptly stopped, launching Pyrrha against the door. She fell to a heap at the base of the gate, but the beast stopped and began to inhale. Through her pained haze, she saw cold mist flowing into its face and quickly she dove underneath the beast. As she did, it blasted a plume of freezing, frost inducing air, which quickly started freezing the gate. Underneath it, Pyrrha also started freezing. Although not taking the brunt of the cold air it was exhaling, the freezing effects still took hold, Pyrrha wincing in pain as her skin became brown and hard with frostbite. Pyrrha then crawled out from the beast as it stopped breathing out and it turned around. The beast stared at her for a beat before charging again, Pyrrha only having enough time to dodge its attack. She limped back to the gate and turned to face it as it stopped. Behind her however, she noticed the entire gate was frozen, including the vines. An idea came into her head. The beast prepared for yet another charge, with Pyrrha raising her guard to bait it. The beast charged, at full gallop, towards Pyrrha. At the last second however, Pyrrha dodged, and the beast crashed into the gate, launching itself outside and tumbled out onto a broken bridge high above the ground. The stone bridge could not hold its weight, and it began to collapse, the beast only barely managing to grab hold of a stable chunk of the bridge. Pyrrha ran outside and began to attack the beast’s hand, causing it to roar in rage and pain. It swung its mace with its free hand, slamming her back. She got up however and continued slashing, the hand’s grip becoming weaker and weaker before finally it lost its grip and plummeted into the chasm past the mountain the castle stood on, roaring a mad roar the whole way.
Pyrrha panted and breathed heavily after the exhausting task of killing the monster, and she fell onto her back and rested for awhile. She was exhausted from her task and the fight against the beast. However as she lay there, she felt a sharp pain all across her body, but then she felt a strange rejuvenating feeling, all the pain she suffered during the fight had gone, and was replaced by consistent warmth. She sat up and looked at her hands, which had begun to glow, her skin fractured by glowing, miniature rivers of ember, as though her body had once been set on fire. Her body also gave off floating embers, flicking off even the parts of her body that weren’t affected.
Confused by this development, she got up and took out the banner Emma gave her, somewhat banged up by her fight. Following her instruction she raised it as high as she could, overlooking the land outside the High Wall. Beyond it was a large expanse of land, with several trees, which surrounded a small settlement with a tall manor and a keep to the right of each. Closest to the High Wall was what appeared to be a bridge, with a gate and gatehouse. It looked almost as though it connected to the castle, before the mountain the castle was built on was raised. She waited for awhile. Nothing had occurred. After awhile she began to ponder if she were doing something wrong. She set the banner down, but as she did, she noticed a thin red hand at the edge where she was standing, its owner climbing up, revealing itself to be a truly hideous creature, with a lanky white body, a cranium that was shaped like the brain that was supposed to be contained and long curved ears, a rat like face, and large bat-like wings. Three of these creatures crawled up and before she can ready her weapons, two had taken her arms and started flying with her. High above the gap separating the castle from the rest of the world. Finally she was being flown to the tower at the gatehouse and the creatures had dropped her there, Pyrrha accomplishing a three-point landing to break her fall. Next to her was a bonfire, which she lit and sat down at, resting herself and trying to recover before journeying forward, and seeking out these Lords of Cinder she was told to bring. She had a whole world to explore.
Author's Notes: Chapter 7 nice and ready. A bit of bad news, this is probably the last of the backlog, and end of semester bulls*** is in full force, so there's a good chance I won't be able to update next week. But I'm hoping I can get something for you guys before long. Thank you so much for reading. See you Friday, hopefully.
I am the one who slays and captures gods. I am the one who knows the end and the founder of genesis. Return thyself to the cycle of providence, the five elements to elements, and sever the link woven between images and truth. Now all of creation shall perish here, at the distant ends of the void.
Returning to Firelink, Pyrrha felt her skin pulsate and the lumbar where her Darksign was seethed and burned. She vaguely felt this on the High Wall when she defeated the icy creature and on the parapet where the bat winged creatures dropped her off, but only had a moment now to truly notice it. She looked at her hand and saw small white dots moving about her hand, like an electrical current or a nerve cell, though they didn’t have a specific pattern. Pyrrha stood there for a small while trying to figure this out on her own. The Fire Keeper approached and solved the problem for her.
“You are brimming with souls, Ashen One” the Fire Keeper spoke, startling Pyrrha, who did not hear her approach.
“I’m...what?” Pyrrha said, not understanding what she meant.
“The defeat of your foes in Lothric have granted you a good many souls, and you are teeming with them. More than you are perhaps used to.”
Pyrrha’s eyes widened slightly as the Fire Keeper explained. “Wait...souls? Is that what the feeling was? Was I...absorbing their souls?” Pyrrha said, the implications worrying to her.
“Yes” the Fire Keeper candidly spoke, the implications not so troubling to her.
Pyrrha had put her hand to her head in dizzying queasiness. The night she had died, the first time, she was to undergo an operation to make her a powerful being called a maiden, but to do so she had to take the soul of the previous one. What little she felt of the procedure was painful and searing, to say nothing of the moral implications involved with ripping another person’s soul out.
The Fire Keeper noticed Pyrrha’s distress. “Ashen One, are you alright? Have I upset you?”
“No” Pyrrha assured her, “I just… Why, do I absorb them? What causes this?”
The Fire Keeper began to explain. “In every being lies a power, a form of energy, proportional to their strength, skill and mind, which is measured in what we call Souls. When a being dies, a small portion is absorbed by the killer, or anyone nearby who can channel such energy. The rest is spilt at their resting place, contained by its former master’s blood. In time the stain will fade-”
“And so will the souls, is that correct?” Pyrrha interrupted, demonstrating a developing command over the concept.
“Unless it is retrieved in time, all the souls held would be lost.” The Fire Keeper confirmed.
Pyrrha looked down, slightly perturbed . “What a waste.”
“It is partly why I am here.”
“To be Undead, especially Unkindled, is to be a vessel of souls, sovereigness souls will become your strength. I shall show you how.” The Fire Keeper then held out her palm to Pyrrha. “Touch the darkness within me, and let these souls within you find their new master.”
Pyrrha looked at her hand and processed what she said, and nervously took it, with the Fire Keeper firmly but gently holding it. The Fire Keeper and Pyrrha’s hands then became enveloped in brilliant light, and Pyrrha’s began to surge, feeling the Darksign on her back flaring but then stopping almost immediately.
“Breathe, relax.” The Fire Keeper whispered, “focus on the parts of yourself you wish to be enriched.”
Pyrrha shut her eyes and focused, as rivers of energy began leaving and then entering her body in quick succession.
“Let these souls, withdrawn from their vessels, manifestations of disparity, elucidated by fire, burrow deep within me, retreating to a darkness beyond the reach of flame. Let them assume a new master, inhabiting ash, casting themselves upon new forms.” The Fire Keeper chanted. The energy flowed until a surge rushed suddenly to Pyrrha, who slightly shook. The tingling and pulsating of the Darksign was gone, as were the white pinpricks of energy that were present on her person.
“Do you feel any different, Ashen One?” the Fire Keeper kindly asked.
Pyrrha couldn’t really tell, but she did feel...healthier, somewhat lighter and stronger. She couldn’t explain it, but it was clear. “I do, I feel more powerful, ever so slightly.”
“That is good. The stronger you become, the more souls you will require to improve yourself more.”
Pyrrha shrank however and looked away.
“Absorbing another person’s soul to make myselfstronger for a goal I am vaguely aware of. Well, at least nothing has changed much.”
“I am sorry Ashen One if-” the Fire Keeper began to speak, but Pyrrha quickly stopped her.
“No no, it’s alright. And please, you can call me Pyrrha, I would like that more.” Pyrrha said, readjusted from her thoughts.
The Fire Keeper’s expression didn’t change. “Very well” she said quickly, “I shall refer to you as Pyrrha if that is what you wish” she said mechanically, without the warmth and friendliness Pyrrha had admittedly hoped. It was enough though, she supposed, and lightly bowed before making her way to the bonfire to resume her journey.
Upon the parapet she looked down to the area below her, down the ramparts, which were crumbling with age with stone bricks crumpled in a heap at the base of the walls and down the stairs.
She walked to the left and continued through the ramparts looking over the gatehouse, pondering if there was a way through, when she saw something peculiar: several rocks with fabric stuck to them all cluttered near the bridge that once lead to the castle. She drew closer and went down the steps to view them. She went past the ruined wagons and moved closer. But she gasped in horror when she saw the boulders were chained to people, clad in tattered robes, with only their arms visible, clutching their staves with hands so decayed they had become long and spindly. They were the same ones she had seen in the High Wall, only there were dozens of them.
Pyrrha slowly walked amongst them, looking vainly for any sign of life. “Hello?” she shouted, but she received no reply...at least, at first.
But then she heard shuffling and a light rasping sound. She turned around and saw one of the cloaked figures shifting and struggling under the weight of the boulder, and she was able to hear him more clearly now.
“Please… grant me death...undo my shackles…” cried an old and feeble voice. Pyrrha quickly made her way to the old being. She knelt down and looked at the chains binding him to the boulder, looking for a way to loosen them. But just then, the being’s hand fumbled, flimsy grasping her hand. “Wait, could it be?” he asked. Pyrrha was a bit unnerved by his manner, but he continued. “Oh, as I live and breath, a Champion of Ash. Please, help me up” the man requested. Pyrrha looked at the boulder on his back. “Oh, don’t worry about that, I just need leverage to support it. I’m fine.”
Pyrrha helped the shrouded figure stand up and he rested his weight on his staff before speaking. “Ah, thank you Champion of Ash, I am most grateful for the rescue” said he.
“Thank you, I’m just glad to have found you, it looked like no one here was alive.”
“That was our purpose Champion of Ash. We had come to this land, close to the first flame, in order to die. All of my fellow pilgrims have done so...somehow I have failed to die as ordained.”
Pyrrha looked down at the dusty ground, her head heavy. “That...makes two of us.”
The cloaked figure looked down to her. Though his face obscured by his wrappings (if he had a face at all), his body language conveyed a sort of sympathy. “Say, Champion of Ash, how does the idea of taking me into your service strike you?” Pyrrha looked up at him, “I was once a sorcerer, surely I can be of use.”
Pyrrha paused before smiling. “It would honor me. And besides, it’d be better than leaving you here.”
The cloaked man lifted up in what little motion of happiness he could muster in his decrepit body. “Ohh. I am honored, truly. I should be dead, yet you have given me purpose anew. I, Yoel of Londor, do solemnly pledge myself to you.”
Yoel then reached into his pocket and took out a ‘homeward bone’ as Greirat had called it. His whispers were almost inaudible, but he mentioned wanting to be taken to where the bell had rung. When he crushed the bone, with some difficulty given his long, frail looking fingers, he disappeared.
Pyrrha was left alone with the dead pilgrims, with the gate to the Undead Settlement ahead of her. “Purpose anew” she muttered to herself, and smiled. Somehow, meeting Yoel gave her hope.
She walked back up to the gatehouse and was alarmed by the presence of hollows, shambling aimlessly near the gate to the rest of the settlement. She readied her sword and shield, but stopped herself. One of the hollows turned to her and stared blankly, and then shambled off without so much a groan. Pyrrha lowered her weapon and let them pass. It was always so puzzling to gather which hollows were hostile and which weren’t. There was no way a Creature of Grimm would accommodate a human in their ranks, it was such an abstract notion. She remembered the serpent and the aggravated hollows on the High Wall and wondered if the people in this world had as much trouble discerning friend from foe as she did now.
Just then the gate opened, revealing a figure in dirty and disheveled farmer’s garb. To his left and right were 3 desiccated hounds growling and twitching near their master. Before the gate had finished opening the hounds had dashed forward in a frenzy and began to attack the docile hollows. Completely blindsided from their foggy wandering, the hounds began to rip at them, dragging and thrashing them about with their few sharp teeth.
“No, NO!” Pyrrha cried out, and jumped in to save them from the undead canines. She slashed at one, immediately felling it, but a second one bit her on the arm, sending a sharp pain through her arm as it clamped its maw on it. Pyrrha cried in pain before repeatedly hitting it, eventually knocking it off before stabbing it. The last one finished mauling the hollow it had attacked and lunged toward Pyrrha, who spun and slashed at it mid air.
The dogs were dead, but so were all the innocent hollows, and up ahead the gate was closing. The dogs’ handler slowly began to walk away, Pyrrha glimpsing what could faintly be described as a smile on its face. Pyrrha quickly dashed at the gate and slid across to clear the gate before it closed. The handler turned around in shock before lunging at her with a scream. Pyrrha raised her shield and put her sword pointed behind it and stabbed the handler. As it died, the handler whispered something, but she couldn’t make it out. It sounded like a name.
Pyrrha looked at the handler’s body. Despite what it cruelly did to the hollows outside, Pyrrha still couldn’t help but be unnerved by killing it, much as she had been in the Cemetery and the High Wall.
She wandered into a ruined cabin near a building that lead into the rest of the settlement. She began to walk to it, but the smell repulsed her, and as she turned away for air she spotted a strange tower in the distance. She tried looking closer, and found a strange shape moving on the top. A dark line left the shape, and accounting for this she realized it was a giant person on the tower, with an equally giant bow and arrow.
Pyrrha recoiled from the sight in puzzlement, but felt it’d be better to move on and find out later. She approached the building, which was made of cobblestone and had a wretched and appalling smell. In the distance she could hear hums and mutters. She went to the door and opened it slowly opened it, immediately finding the source of the stench.
Bodies. Dozens, some hanging upside down, wrapped head to toe in canvas, some cramped and stuffed into cages, various limbs hanging out. A few of them still faintly shivered. The smell either went away or was masked by Pyrrha’s numb horror as she stumbled in. No action taken by the most depraved bandit clans in Mistral’s history or those who had endured the worst of The Great War could easily match this house that she had wandered into. The air and how it interacted with the bodies, coupled with her growing distress, caused her to tear up and look for an exit.
At that moment she heard the hums, no hymns, apparently outside, and she saw an open doorway, the outside invisible from the cover of bright light. She quickly made her way, to the doorway, half to investigate this sound, half to escape from the corpses in the house. The doorway led to a balcony, which overlooked a chunk of the settlement, which consisted of ramshackle buildings of wood, with occasional cobblestone arches or bridges. The area where the hymns were derived from had a large bonfire, with a tree burning in the middle, and was surrounded by several hollows clothed in the same farmer attire as the dog handler near the gate. At the base of the bonfire was a large, fat being clad in a very wide brimmed hat, a bronze cuirass, and a simple, clerical gown. In her hand, currently used as a walking stick of sorts was a long pole with a spiked club at the head, and a large, thick, steel spined book tucked under her right arm. Near the large being were 3 hollows whose hands were tied, with a figure in a hood at the front. The large being bellowed out in low woman’s voice.
“Step forth Loretta, to be judged before The Saint’s most holy communion” the woman spoke, before thumping the pommel of the polearm on the ground, which notified a member of the congregation to shove the hooded figure, Loretta, forward. Pyrrha saw this and crouched behind the wooden railing on the balcony, unbeknownst to her a impish creature wearing a similar hood to Greirat’s snuck behind her. The imp raised the hatchet in its hand and struck Pyrrha just as she looked behind her, knocking her off the balcony, breaking the railing and sending one of the bodies that was hanging nearby plummeting to the ground.
Pyrrha landed with a thud and the congregation became alert and raised their weapons, consisting of pitchforks, hatchets, and torches. The head woman turned her head at the commotion in confusement, and then smiled menacingly. The woman then spoke, softly but dripping in condescension.
“Ah, welcome child. We welcome newcomers to our mass, as these…” she motioned to the captives, including Loretta, “...homesteaders, have shown.”
Pyrrha slowly got up, having recovered from the shock of being knocked off the balcony.
“Mass?” Pyrrha asked, the memory of the bodies and the situation with the clearly imprisoned people near the woman in mind.
“Indeed” the evangelist continued, “we have come to this village to spread the word of The Deep, the word of our saint. Through our sermons we have cleansed the people of this village, and have brought peace and good order.”
The words raced in Pyrrha’s mind as she did the arithmetic, and it made her face pale.
“Those bodies...y-you were behind those...” The words drained her as she said them.
“They were a sinful people. They insulted and blasphemed against us and the Cathedral! They had called us filthy, and yet wallowed in their own vices, screeching as the Dark Sign claimed them one by one! We brought with us fire, and with it, salvation from the accursed cinder. Lo, even amongst the disgraced there is purpose, to make able our goodly saint.”
Hearing it was true, all Pyrrha could do was stare shocked. Remnant was not perfect, and she knew this. She knew people could still be monstrous and superstitious, especially where the kingdom’s safety waned, blaming a random townsperson or passerby of attracting the Grimm and executing them to ease the tensions amongst them. But such a purge...it was a shattering and alien concept. ‘The bodies... so many… what was this place…?’
Loretta turned to Pyrrha and shook her head, speaking with an elderly voice.
“Foolish girl, you should have left when you saw the bodies! What possessed you to come here?”
The evangelist’s face twisted into a sudden and immediate anger. “Be silent!”
Pyrrha snapped out of her shock and timidly answered. “Greirat...he-he sent me.”
Loretta looked down and squirmed. “That foolish boy, he had no right to do this to you.”
The evangelist couldn’t care less about their conversation and turned, snarling at Loretta. “I said SILENCE infidel! You can still be brought to Aldrich like the rest.”
“Aldrich? The Lord of Cinder?” Pyrrha exclaimed.
The evangelist snapped her head to Pyrrha and squinted, before opening in surprise, not in what she said, but who she was. “An...unkindled?”
Loretta then leaned to Pyrrha and shouted. “Run girl! Run n-”
She was immediately silenced by the evangelist, who bashed her over the head with the spine of her tome, and she fell to the ground flat. Pyrrha was once again shocked and upset. “No!” she cried out.
“SEIZE HER! SEIZE THE HERETIC!!!” the evangelist knashed.
At that moment the previously silent, if menacing, crowd began to converge on Pyrrha. No time to ready her weapons, she had to act fast. A hollow charged at her with a pitchfork, which Pyrrha immediately grabbed used its momentum to swing the hollow aside while keeping hold of the pitchfork, flipping it around to overhead swing another hollow with a machete across the face, sending it reeling. She crouched down immediately after, brought the pitchfork up in reverse grip, and brought her thumb up for aiming before throwing it at the evangelist. The evangelist sidestepped however, the pitchfork hitting a hapless congregation member, who ended up being pinned to the burning tree.
Pyrrha made her move regardless however, and tried to grab Loretta’s hand, the other prisoners having either died or escaped in the chaos. However at that moment, Pyrrha was slammed by the evangelists pole-mace, sending her flying. Pyrrha still was able to clutch on to Loretta’s finger bone. She looked to Loretta herself, her body was disturbed by the force of the evangelist launching Pyrrha, and blood oozing from where she had been hit by the book. The evangelist let out a mirthful laugh of satisfaction.
‘Greirat...I’m so sorry” she thought to herself. Just then, scores of hollowed farmers and villagers like the congregation started moving out and pouring from different entrances, far too many for what she could deal with. She hastily got up and started running, with the mob in hot pursuit. She ran behind the burning tree only to be blindsided by a worker, who stabbed at her. Yelping in pain, spun and kicked him off onto the ground below and dropped down the lower level with him, drawing her sword. On the patio of one of the houses, a hollowed worker threw a ball at Pyrrha, which she ducked, the ceramic ball breaking and exploding into flames, engulfing the hollow she had knocked down before.
The sound of the mob got louder and she rushed through the pathways to the bridge that lead out, the wooden beams supporting the end having 2 more corpses strung along it. However another, somewhat smaller mob was rushing across from the stone tower past it. She doubled back and went the other way, through an arch and spotted a door leading into a building. She immediately opened the door, went inside, closed the door, and then barred it with a pitchfork lying on the floor, immediately earning a few bashings on the door.
She paused for breath and then turned around, running headfirst into more bodies hung from the ceiling, only more densely packed and all hanging upside down, like a human slaughterhouse. Pyrrha screamed in alarm and began stumbling around, breathing heavily and slightly claustrophobic by the amount of bodies present in the single room. She calmed down after briefly hyperventilating, and the sound of the banging on the door had grown fainter, no doubt as the mob dispersed to find another way in. Lined on the walls were more of the body cages, and even a solitary body slumped against the wall. There was a hole in the floor with a faint light coming from within. Judging it to be safe, she jumped down and readied her weapons, but there were none in the hole. Instead a brewing pot was on a stove, which smelled delicious and inviting. Next to the pot was an illegible note and an empty wooden mug along with spoiled fruits and onions. She approached the bowl, which proved to be the real source of the light in the room, and recognized the golden fluid within.
‘Estus?’ Pyrrha thought to herself. There was a wooden ladle next to the pot. Pyrrha bashfully smiled, her panic and stress finally easing a bit. She took the ladle and drank, what wounds she had felt easing.
After having her fill, she wandered out through the doorway and out to a tight street, with stone buildings flanking the sides, and with a stone archway up ahead. Where 2 members of the mob were searching the area for her. They turned around hearing her and attacked. This time with her shield and sword ready she charged. She blocked a downward stab from their pitchfork while stabbing the other as it raised its machete. She angled her shield to slide the pitchfork down and slashed as she spun around. Behind her another hollow crashed through the wooden barrier blocking the doorway to the building to the left of her. Pyrrha used its momentum to let it slam harmlessly into a wall.
Up ahead, before the archway, was a giant, undead creature, with a cage similar to the ones the corpses were stuffed in on its back, only empty, and it wielded a large blade with handles on both sides, similar to what is used to cut trees.
The giant noticed her and lumbered toward her. It swung its large machete, which Pyrrha tried to block only to stagger and stumble from the impact, which the giant followed up with a kick, which sent her into the wall of one of the buildings. The giant roared in incoherent rage and swung again. Pyrrha, shocked from the impact, rolled away just in time, managing to stand up. The giant then swung horizontally, which Pyrrha rolled under, and finally the giant brought its blade down, rapidly slamming it three times like a pouty child. Pyrrha dodged these as well and began to strike at the giant, eventually felling it. But the sound of the mob, though faint grew close and she decided to retreat before they caught onto her trail.
She stumbled through building that was past the archway and out into the open air, where to her right was a bridge that lead to a wooden gate with iron bars and up ahead was a cemetery. She took this time pant and catch her breath, after what had been a tiring and horrible-
She stood upright immediately with her weapons ready, her Dark Sign chilled and freezing on her back, the hairs on her neck and crown of her head standing upright. She was fully alert, though she didn’t know what for, only knowing that she was in danger. She walked cautiously forward, slowly and carefully feeling encroaching danger.
Around the corner turned a figure in disheveled plate armor with a peaked helmet, sporting a serrated sword and small buckler shield, glowing faintly tinted purple. The knight screeched and charged. Pyrrha raised her shield, but the knight stopped and then kicked her shield, throwing her off balance. Wasting no time, the mad knight raised its sword, but Pyrrha was quick enough to duck un-
The sword hit her however, sending her stumbling. She tried to reach for Estus but the knight didn’t let up. She blocked one of his swings and prepared to slash, but the knight punched Pyrrha’s sword arm with his buckler and followed it up by stabbing her through the abdomen.
The pain was enormous and excruciating, and she can feel blood leaving her body. This was made worse when the sword was pulled out, the serrated blade doing a lot of damage. She was left on her hands and knees facing away from the knight, with one hand on her abdomen. Through her foggy gaze she could see something in the distance: a bonfire. Desperate, she rushed towards it, possibly her only chance, but the knight grabbed her neck and prepared to finish her.
“Hodrick!” a woman’s voice called. The knight, Hodrick, looked up and saw a woman clad in armor, the chest piece covered in what looked like fine linen, the pauldrons large and elegant, with the chainmail sleeves wide and flowing, and with long steel greaves and boots, silver hair restrained by her circlet. In her hands was a long, round estoc. She dropped down and prepared a stab against Hodrick, who blocked with his sword and shoved it aside. Before she can follow through, Hodrick, who had not let go of Pyrrha’s neck, threw her off the cliff before running. The woman gave a light pursuit, btu looked to Pyrrha, who had grabbed hold of a ledge on the cliff, in clear pain but was unable to do much about it.
“Take the handle, quickly!” the woman called, and Pyrrha saw she had held the blade end of the estoc and turned the handle to Pyrrha for her to pull her up with. Pyrrha moved to gain momentum and took hold of the handle, with the woman straining to pull her up. On the top of the cliff, Pyrrha panted in immense pain, not only from the stab wound, but from possibly dislocating her arm from grabbing the ledge so abruptly and leaned on the woman who walked her to the bonfire where they rested.
Once relaxed, Pyrrha sighed and spoke. “Thank you, thank you so much.”
“It was my duty to help someone such as you” the woman replied.
“Who was he? Did you know him? You mentioned him by name” Pyrrha inquired.
The woman looked down at the bonfire, her face crinkled in bitterness. “Yes, but he doesn’t know me.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean…I got in the way”
“It is not your fault. What is your name, struggler?”
Pyrrha paused. “Pyrrha, Pyrrha Nikos” she answered candidly.
“I am Sirris of the Sunless Realms. I am a Blade of the Darkmoon, hunting those who would harm innocents in this realm and all others. It is an honor to make your acquaintance.”
“I’m so unused to this…” Pyrrha absent mindedly pondered.
“Hmm?” Sirris inquired.
“Oh nothing, it’s just...so much is different from where I’m from.”
“I am told that is the rule rather than the exception.”
“No I mean this doesn’t happen. This...personal level of destruction and murder. Even for the most sadistic of us, no one where I was from would do anything like what I had seen in the settlement.” Well, almost no one.
“You must have come from a land of angels. You’ll find none here in Lothric. But I swear to you, I and several others like me have not given up. Find us, and we’ll keep you safe, if you be of a lawful heart.”
Pyrrha smiled. “Yes, that would be grand.”
Then came the painful task.
She walked through Firelink Shrine, past Andre and down towards Greirat, who perked up as she stopped in front of him.
“Oh, hello, you’re back. Have ye’ a chance to deliver that ring yet?”
Pyrrha’s heart sank into untold depths as she reached into her satchel and solemnly gave him Loretta’s bone. Greirat froze as he saw it.
“...I...I see, she was already dead…”
His words cut her even deeper than before. “Greirat, I’m- I’m so…”
“Heh” Greirat sadly chuckled to himself, “well...I-I’m not surprised. Would have happened sooner or later. You can keep the ring if you’d like. Consider it a payment I guess.” Greirat sighed briefly but deeply, almost as though gasping for air, and was faintly shaking.
Pyrrha slowly backed away and went out to the center of the shrine, but went behind a wall and looked back at Greirat, who had put his head in his hands and was visibly weeping, even though he never removed the hood.
“Heavens…! She was already dead…”
Pyrrha cupped her mouth with her hands and began tearing up, eventually letting the tears flow and the breathing become irregular. She felt so useless. She couldn’t save a single old woman, let alone her own home.
‘Why me then? What good am I?’
Author’s Notes: I did it! I managed to update this time! There is a chapter this week and as promised it is longer than normal (tell me if that’s better or not). I started '''seriously '''writing this at 3 PM yesterday, started writing again at 9:30 PM yesterday and didn’t stop until 1:08 AM '''today'''. I hope you enjoy it. I might start updating bi-weekly, with longer chapters. Wish me luck on finals papers.
Pyrrha sat numb near an alcove, behind where Hawkwood was sitting, trying to let her grief pass on its own. It was taking awhile. She still thought of what happened at the Undead Settlement, and what had come of it, particularly Greirat’s pain.
“It was your fault you know.” Hawkwood finally said. His words snapped her out of trance, too startled to be offended at what he had said. Hawkwood, having Pyrrha’s attention continued, “you shouldn’t have promised to do anything for anything. All that happens is you looking like a fool when you fail.”
Pyrrha blinked and then turned away from Hawkwood in silence. Finally she spoke. “I thought I could save her like Greirat had wanted, that I could help him.”
Hawkwood gave a light breath of incredulity. “Help? Help? Who do you help from going hollow from feeling sorry for yourself? You’re unkindled, weaker than even a common undead. What chance have we?”
Though Pyrrha was aching from his words, she did have a limit to how much she was willing to be insulted by anybody. “At least I’m trying to hope. At least I’m going out there and risking my life to help people. You’re the one sitting here doing nothing.”
Hawkwood was taken aback at first, but his face twisted into bitterness and venom. “Risking your life indeed” he muttered, no doubt chewing on the irony of Pyrrha’s words. Hawkwood spoke again as he did at first, but with obviously more cruel of intentions, “tell me, you said you died and then woke up in our world yes?”
Pyrrha squinted in confusion. “Yes?”
“Who’s to say this isn’t just your afterlife? Hmm?” Hawkwood posited, his words sending a twisted chill through Pyrrha’s guts. “What if this is just your eternal reward, for all your good deeds lass?”
Pyrrha stared in shock and confusion, her head becoming suddenly heavy, causing her to grasp it. Pyrrha finally answered, “I don’t think any god or spirit with any form of justice would do something so...cruel” she shakily spoke, she then genuinely asked him “would... any of yours?” It had occurred to Pyrrha to ask, considering all she had seen, especially from the congregation and their crimes.
Hawkwood however gave a shrug. “I wouldn’t know. Our gods either ditched us or someone up and killed them all. I don’t think anyone noticed really” Hawkwood plainly said, his voice and expression having no trace of hyperbole.
Pyrrha stared for awhile, then dipped her head and looked into the alcove she had been next to, but then craned her neck to look closer when she saw something in the shadows. She then was able to make out a familiar, decrepit body looking up at her as well.
“Is someone there?” an old voice spoke, echoing from the floor and walls. Pyrrha immediately recognized the voice.
“Yoel?” asked in relieved greeting.
“Ah, Champion of Ash! It is good to see you are alright.”
Pyrrha was relieved to see Yoel and got up to climb down from the alcove and into the room he was in. Yoel earnestly yet slowly approached her and put his hand on her shoulder in an almost grandfatherly way. “I heard the commotion you were involved in, I trust everything is alright?”
Pyrrha’s warm smile at greeting Yoel faded and her face sunk. Yoel noticed immediately and gently removed his hand from her shoulder and onto his walking stick. “I see...your journey has taken a toll on you.”
“Innocent people, and I wasn’t able to save them. I couldn’t save people I was meant to save.” Pyrrha candidly said, somewhat saddened by having to repeat it out loud.
“You mustn't blame yourself Champion of Ash. Such tragedies are common in our world, you must accept this as the way of things. In a way, they were lucky to have finally passed on despite our shared curse.”
“But I want to save people, I don’t want to fail them and bring more grief in this…place” she said in mild desperation.
Yoel looked for a long time, pondering his options. Finally he shifted and faced her. “I have a way to make you stronger if that is what you truly wish.”
Pyrrha looked up puzzled, but then asked him “how?”
“I believe I can tease out your true strength. We pilgrims of Londor are keenly aware that those branded by the Darksign possess something quite special...if you wish, I can bring it forth, and grant you some extra power to be at your disposal.”
Pyrrha thought for a moment before nodding. Yoel then reached out and put his hand within inches of Pyrrha’s face. Instead of touching it however, a strange flowing force emitted from his hand and poured into her through her eyes, being a cold and nauseating feeling. It flowed through her body and into her darksign, which began to freeze. As this happened, she did feel a surge of energy, but her mind was still racing, which continued a small while after Yoel ended his ritual.
“Are you alright Champion of Ash?” Yoel almost apologetically asked.
Somewhat shaken from her ordeal she answered, “yes, it was just so...unfamiliar.”
“I’m afraid that is simply the nature of my power, but rest assured you are stronger than you were before, and as you continue to fight and die, you will grow stronger still. Simply return to me when you feel it is time to further draw it out. You will know when it is.”
Pyrrha awoke near the bonfire where she fought Hodrick. Sirris was no longer there, having already left, no trace of her was seen. Before Pyrrha returned to Firelink, Sirris had said that the way to the Lords of Cinder was through a tower at the very end of the Undead Settlement. Pyrrha had seen this tower when she was flown in from the High Wall. She made her way back onto the path, which lead to a cemetery, which was peppered in large spears, stuck shaft deep into the ground, with a lonely white birch tree standing amongst several old, nasty trees that had long since died.
This alone put her on alert just in time before she saw a patrol of hollows walking around the cemetery. Before they could do battle though, she heard the wind tearing, and instinctively leaped back away from where the sound was coming from. A second after she did, a large explosion shook the ground, sending the hollows flying. As the dust settled, she realized the ground had been hit by a spear similar to the ones scattered around the graveyard, they were launched as though from an artillery piece.
Pyrrha began to run across to evade the large arrows, but the lone survivor of the patrol grabbed her leg, causing her to stumble. She quickly squirmed and broke free from the hollow’s grip, but the spear had already travelled its needed distance and Pyrrha had just enough time to see it rush straight toward her. Her body began to numb long before her body hit the ground.
Pyrrha got up from the bonfire and winced in a sort of phantom pain, but still less than when she had started. A new feeling however was a similar feeling of cold as when Yoel unlocked the power in her darksign.
“Will I ever be used to this?” she pondered to herself.
She made her way to the cemetery again, this time waiting for the arrow to destroy the patrol. The second they were undone by the strike, she dashed, but jumped over the hollow that was still alive and rushed into the cobble building, where she stopped to catch her breath. Up the stairs she caught her breath, and looking up she saw a hallway, at the middle of which was a vast amount of flowers, in the middle of which stood Sirris who was staring at something intently to Pyrrha’s left, out of sight.
“Sirris?” Pyrrha called out. Sirris moved her head ever so slightly, enough to acknowledge Pyrrha’s presence but without breaking eye contact with her unseen target for more than two seconds. Pyrrha approached her, glancing at the admittedly beautiful flowers surrounding them before looking at what she was looking at: a very large, but otherwise unremarkable tree, surrounded by both flowers and some hollows who were praying around it. And yet it was ominous and oppressive somehow, emanating a hostility she could not understand. There was something very wrong with that tree...
“I see you’ve made it past the giant alright” Sirris dryly noted.
“Giant?” Pyrrha asked, before her mind raced back to when she first entered the Undead Settlement, the giant being with the bow on the…
“That was the giant, he’s on the top of the tower?” Pyrrha reasoned.
Sirris simply nodded. “It had been firing upon many areas throughout Lothric, I have yet to figure out what connects them, but in the lands it protects nothing can survive for long.”
Pyrrha turned back to the tree that Sirris was staring at. “What is it?”
“A greatwood. The inhabitants of this settlement once had the power to take their curses and put them in a vehicle, cleansing themselves. They put it all into that tree. That’s not why I am here though. You remember your encounter with Hodrick?”
Pyrrha nodded, recalling nearly being killed by the madman, to say nothing of the wounds she sustained.
“He is here. I can feel it. His presence is stronger than ever, and yet I cannot find him. I’m puzzled, and I’d been contemplating what to do about that” Sirris stated, certain that her mark was indeed where she said he was. But then she turned to Pyrrha, “but you must carry on with your duty. Behind me is the way to the tower.”
Pyrrha nodded and began to walk, but Sirris stopped her to give some more advice. “Be careful and discreet Pyrrha Nikos. Your disturbance in the Undead Settlement has caused the cathedral’s forces to search for you. They are adamant you do not reach their icon.”
Pyrrha stared at Sirris for a beat before turning and making her way. From where she was at the top of the steps, she saw a large pathway surrounded by the tall cliffs, which cast a shadow over the area. To the right was a pathway up a hill and back to the settlement, where she could vaguely see the entryway. Up ahead was a small hamlet located across a bridge that went over a ravine. Pyrrha began making her way down the steps before spotting a search party originating from the hamlet, with the evangelist at its head and a rather large hollow holding a pot at the rear accompanied by one of the emaciated dogs. Noticing this, she hurried to a tree at the end of the steps and hid as they passed. The group passed without incident except for the dog which stopped suddenly. Pyrrha froze in apprehension, and the dog turned its head sickeningly her way.
After a long pause, the dog began to bark and roar and charged its way toward the tree, which caught the attention of the rest of the search party. Pyrrha got up and managed to get her sword out in time to kill the dog in its tracks, but the 4 hollows and the hulking brute made their way as well, forcing Pyrrha to run toward the hamlet.
She managed to run to the bridge, but the hollows caught up to her, with one diving to catch her, which threw her down into the ground and stopping her chase, only managing to kick the hollow that had tackled her off before getting her sword out again.
Just then the brute held up its pot and threw it to their location, sending them all flying. Two of the hollows fell into the ravine to their certain deaths while a third died from the impact. Pyrrha herself was extremely shaken, and took a sizable swig of Estus to recoup from her wounds, but almost spit it out upon discovering what was in the pot: human heads, no doubt more victims of the congregation’s purge. The remaining hollow dashed quickly to Pyrrha. She took the initiative and slashed, but the hollow blocked and slapped Pyrrha across the face before winding up for another slash, which Pyrrha managed to block with her blade, slide off it and then stab the hollow, killing it. The brute meanwhile roared and began to charge, but Pyrrha took advantage of where she was and let it. It pulled back and rushed at Pyrrha, who used its momentum to hurl itself off into the ravine. The evangelist, who had witnessed all of this having just now caught up, sneered and turned away in a bitter retreat. Pyrrha opted not to go after her having won this day, and decided to concentrate on getting to the tower which was now in reach.
Approaching the tower, Pyrrha spotted a man with black, angular, and monstrous looking armor, wielding a large mace with the shaft as long as he was and with the head as big as his upper body, the weapon much too large to be considered simply a mace at all. The man turned his head towards Pyrrha, his face covered by his helmet resembling a grotesque mixture of a dog and an eagle.
“Ah...another one of those ‘unkindled’ are you?” the man spoke, his voice dripping of the same venom and mean-spirit as Hawkwood but without any sort of pity or sympathy.
Taken aback by his tone, Pyrrha nevertheless answered “I am, so I’m told at least. I’m Pyrrha Nikos-”
“All you faceless Undead, thinking you deserve respect.”
“Excuse me?” Pyrrha asked, somewhat peeved at the man’s rudeness despite just meeting her, “I’m just trying to help, I’m looking for the Lords of Cinder.”
“Hmmph, no matter. Heed my words. If you’ve any sense, you’ll go find a coffin and huddle up inside. You may have bested the dullards here, but you, in this land of hollows, you’re like a frail maiden on the front lines. You are not prepared for what’s out there”
Pyrrha was even further taken aback by his spiteful words, but they still cut deep, even with her learning she still felt she didn’t belong in this terrible world, and everything in it.
“Eygon? Who is there?” A frail voice called from a room from behind the man, Eygon, who turned his head in alarm. “I TOLD YOU to keep quiet!” Eygon barked at the voice, in what sounded like nurtured frustration.
Pyrrha however was curious as to the identity of the voice and moved towards it, finding a woman clad in white cleric’s robes, sitting in an old and dirty cell carved into the mountain. As she moved closer, her head rose in alarm, but didn’t turn toward her.
“Ahh, who’s there? Eygon? Is that you?” she spoke, still not facing Pyrrha.
“No, I’m sorry. My name is Pyrrha, Pyrrha Nikos. You’re…” Pyrrha trailed off and looked to Eygon, “‘friend’ is sitting there” Pyrrha finished.
The woman reached out her left arm, which was facing Pyrrha, as bashfully inviting her to come closer. “The darkness surrounds me, it nips and bites at my flesh. Please touch me, I must know you are near.”
Having come close to the woman and knelt down to eye level, but still couldn’t see her eyes from her hood. She then gave her her hand to grasp. The woman clutched on nervously at first, but then firmly, as well as feeling it with her fingers and palm. Finally she let go of her hand and spoke again. “Ahh yes, there you are, so close indeed. Then I am not alone entirely alone, not just yet. Praise the merciful gods above” the woman spoke in relief.
Pyrrha gave a smile she was sure the blind woman could see, especially considering how ill tempered her companion Eygon had been. “I’m just glad I could help you.”
“Oh, forgive me” the woman fumbled nervously, “I am Irina of Carim. I came to this land hoping I might be a fire keeper” she explained.
“Like the one in Firelink. But...what happened?” Pyrrha had asked.
Irina looked down in a mix of shame and pain. “I...was not worthy” she simply said. “I am unfit to tend the flames, but if it would not trouble you, might I enter your services instead?” she had asked. Pyrrha accepted without a second thought, and Irina smiled. “Oh, thank you, Ms. Nikos” Irina smiled as she felt her hands, eventually gripping the homeward bone Pyrrha placed in them. Irina paused however, “it’s odd” she said, “I feel a such a peculiar energy about you. You are unquestionably a Champion, but you have a hum, a murmur of life surrounding you.”
Pyrrha froze at her words, and daring to hope, she asked further. “What do you mean?”
Irina shook her head, “I am not sure, it flows through you and focuses through your limbs and your head. An unmistakable energy.”
Pyrrha thought long and hard, but shook it off and closed Irina’s grip on the homeward bone, “let’s worry about that later, I would be honored to take you into my service.”
Irina paused, but smiled. “I shall take my vows. I, Irina of Carim, solemnly swear to serve you.” Upon finishing her vow, her body shimmered and vanished.
Upon exiting the cell, she was greeted by Eygon, who was standing up and resting his great-mace on his shoulder. “You’ve gone and rescued her have you?” he asked.
“I have” Pyrrha said, partly shooting back.
“How very quaint, pitying creatures that are beyond help” Eygon said. Pyrrha could almost feel his eyes rolling under his helmet. “Very well, I’m sick of looking after her at any rate.” he had said, which caught Pyrrha faintly by surprise, as it ever so slightly had a sad tone, a microscopic inkling that he was sorry to leave Irina in her hands. She didn’t understand why exactly. “I am Eygon, a knight of Carim. I am loyal to you as long as you ensure the girl’s safety” he said sincerely, but then he marched toward Pyrrha before sticking his helmet in her face, “and only for that long…” he said in a low, murderous growl, with Pyrrha’s eyes widening at the very implicit threat. Eygon then marched off into Irina’s cell and went through the second entrance into the ravine. After awhile, Pyrrha could vaguely hear monstrous roars before being silenced by a the sound of a violent and short scuffle.
The tower was tall and had no floors of any kind, being simply hollow building with two points of interest: the bottom and the very top. Immediately after entering the tower, the wooden, makeshift elevator to the top began to move on its own, causing Pyrrha to try and double time to catch it, to no avail. She looked up as it went out of sight before stepping back to prevent falling down the hole in the floor that had come from the elevator. She tried looking around and found a lever in the top right corner. However, as she made her way to it, she realized the elevator had failed to stop and turning around she saw the elevator ceasing to rise, with a second platform having risen, carrying a….a walking onion?
Upon doing a double take, Pyrrha discovered that this was a man wearing white curved armor and an onion shaped helmet and targe, while resting a large zweihander on his shoulder. After the elevator stopped, the onion...knight, walked forward, completely ignoring Pyrrha at first, simply humming a low ‘hmm’ as he walked, but then stopping in its tracks and turning around to face her, where he began to speak in a deep, bombastic and jovial voice.
“Hmmmmm, hm-oh! Pardon me, I was absorbed in thought. I am Siegward of Catarina, how do you do?”
Pyrrha took the opportunity to introduce herself to the strange yet affable Siegward. “I am Pyrrha Nikos, and how are you?” Pyrrha asked in a friendly manner.
Siegward paused however. “Hmmm, to be honest I’m in a bit of a pickle. Have you ever walked near a white birch tree, only to be struck by a great arrow?”
“A white birch?” Just then Pyrrha’s memory flashed to the cemetery, which had all the large arrows surrounding an untouched birch tree.
“Well if I’m not mistaken, they come from this tower”
“That’s right, there’s a giant.”
“Well whoever this giant is, I’m sure I can talk some sense into it, but I have to find a way up, and that’s the trouble. This lift only goes down you see, and...hmm” Siegward then began thinking again, subtly raising his shield arm slightly as though instinctively wishing to put it to his chin.
“But the elevator can go up, we just have to- Siegward?”
Alas, Siegward was lost in thought, ignoring Pyrrha’s words and muttering to himself. “This lift only goes down, but you know...With a little warming up, eventually... No, no...I've got to use my head and think. Hmm... Mmm..."
Pyrrha went to the pressure plate on the elevator and looked up at where the other elevator went. To test her suspicion, she put her foot on the plate, pressed down, and then immediately back stepped away. Sure enough the middle-top elevator eventually came down as the other platform sank further down to the tower’s basement.
“Siegward, I’ve figured out-”
But Pyrrha stopped herself again when it became clear Siegward wasn’t paying attention. “I could use the ropes to- no no, they are much too thin, I couldn’t get a proper grip…hmmmm, quite difficult, this, I just have to think!”
“Siegward?” Pyrrha asked, inadvertently stepping on the pressure plate, activating the lift up. Siegward still didn’t notice, and Pyrrha heard him still muttering another plan to get up the tower, not bothering to turn around to see Pyrrha had solved his problem for him.
“What a strange person.” Pyrrha remarked, but he was friendly enough. Before long the lift reached the top. Pyrrha just realized this was where the Giant was, but rather than go back down, Pyrrha decided to cautiously approach the sounds of breathing that were coming from outside. She tentatively toed to avoid being heard until she came to view the Giant, which was understandably tall and had strange manacles and shackles, which appeared nailed to its limbs without chains, as well as having a strange metal mask, and on its back was an proportionally sized bow. The giant immediately turned its head to Pyrrha, as though it had no trouble finding her. Pyrrha ducked away just as quickly, but it was too late for that.
“Who are you?” The Giant asked in a lumbering voice. Seeing as the Giant didn’t seem hostile, Pyrrha cautiously stepped out. Seeing that Pyrrha wasn’t hostile, the Giant turned as though to fish something out, and then bent down and reached out to give Pyrrha something: a white birch branch, small and thin. Pyrrha took the gift and looked up at the grotesque yet friendly seeming giant. “I help anytime” the Giant simply said before turning. Pyrrha was puzzled, but smiled at the gesture before returning to the lift, hoping Siegward was waiting for her at the entrance.
As she went down the elevator, she heard something from farther down, it sounded like…
‘Siegward?’ Pyrrha though, moving closer to the edge to see if she could see. Sure enough, the knight was on a wooden scaffold in between the entryway floor and the top, facing away from the lift again. ‘How did he get up this far?’ she thought.
Just then the lift shook, and while it was hardly anything significant in force, this combined with her being near the edge caused Pyrrha to lose balance and fell from the lift, unable to get a grasp on the lift’s edge. Pyrrha began plummeting down the length of the tower, and closed her eyes waiting fo-
But her hand was caught by a metal gauntlet, which strained her arm but saved her from the fall. Pyrrha looked up and saw it was Siegward, who began to pull her up, with Pyrrha holding her arm in pain. “Woah, don’t disappear like that, you had me downright worried.”
Pyrrha put her Estus flask to her lips and took a sip, “thank you Siegward.”
“Oh think nothing of it. Thanks to you, an epiphany struck me square in the head. I’ve unraveled the mystery of this inscrutable lift!” Siegward laughed in triumph. Pyrrha blinked in confusion as to how he achieved this, but settled into a smile before long.
The two left the tower from the middle scaffold and found themselves on a roof overlooking square in the settlement filled with burning wagons and trees, the cause of which being a large and intimidating creature with tree like skin and protrusions, its body engulfed in flames.
“Anyhow, do you see that? That humongous beast?” Siegward pointed to the monster, which paced and prowled about the square. “I'm no coward, and I've a steady hand, but that thing makes my skin crawl. We must be careful how we approach it.”
Pyrrha looked at the creature, but something near it caught her eye, a person with a staff and hat and…
“Oh no” Pyrrha whispered. It was the evangelist again, hiding in one of the buildings, who looked up where she and Siegward were before reaching into her pocket and through something she couldn’t see, which burst into a strange dust a few meters from where Pyrrha and Siegward were. The fire demon rose its head in alarm and turned towards them, howling a loud cry which caused the flames on its body to intensify.
“Bother, it’s noticed us now” Siegward said, as the two of them readied their weapons. Siegward nugged Pyrrha with his elbow, “I, Siegward of the Knights of Catarina, fight by your side! Arrrrggghh!!!” whereupon he immediately charged ahead of Pyrrha to do battle against the fire demon.
Pyrrha charged after him. The fire demon was ferocious, but Siegward thus far had been able to stagger it with his strength and the sheer size of the sword he wielded, having put away his shield in favor of wielding the sword with both hands. Pyrrha rushed to slash at the parts of the fire demon that weren’t, well, on fire, but the demon recognized her to be the weaker member and focused on attacking her forcing her on the defensive. It struck with large, basic swipes, which were extremely deadly considering its size and nature, its attacks hitting Pyrrha’s shield, the force of each attack slightly knocking the wind out of her, occasionally burning her exposed arms from the cinders that would fly. Siegward noticed this and redoubled his efforts.
“See here beast! Your fight is with me! Back to the flame of chaos with you monster!” Siegward cried, trying to gain its attention to no avail. A well placed strike on its tail was much more persuasive, causing it to stop its attack on Pyrrha, but reel back and slap Siegward away in retaliation, sending him flying and causing him to crash into one of the wagons. The beast then continued its attack.
The force of the swipes were taking its toll on Pyrrha who, despite blocking every hit, was having trouble keeping her guard up until a final strike launched her back into the wall of one of the buildings, which caused it to crumble. Pyrrha opened her eyes, which began to dim in weakness as the beast closed in on her. She didn’t have enough time to get up, drink from her Estus flask, and then avoid its next attack, all it would do is let her take more damage than before. Her situation seemed hopeless. Just then the beast was blindsided by Siegward, who bashed into the beast with his spiked shield sending it on its side and, weakened by his earlier attacks, was only able to briefly struggle as Siegward raised his sword up and finished it with a mighty chop to its neck, and the fire demon was no more.
Pyrrha got up in aching relief, drinking from her Estus flask to alleviate her pain. Siegward panted in exuberation before turning around to Pyrrha, bringing her in for a hearty, one armed hug, which crushed Pyrrha against his armor. “Haha! Excellent performance out there, friend!” Siegward cheered, raising his fist triumphantly in the air. He then let her breathe and then sat down taking out two wooden mugs that appeared almost like a miniature barrel and handed Pyrrha one. “I think, for the moment, we’ve a toast to make!”
Pyrrha looked into the mug and smelled its contents, having the distinct smell of alcohol. “What...is this exactly?”
“Why it is my own special brew: Siegbrau! The drink of victors! Come, have some! It won’t bite.”
“I-I feel I shouldn’t, I’m underage and…” Pyrrha trailed off, no doubt feeling very ridiculous about fretting over such a law in her situation.
“Oh bother it all! You are a capable warrior in an inhospitable hellscape the likes of which have been foretold to bring forth the end times upon the inheritors of Lordran. If I may say, that calls for a pint of spirits, Ha ha!” Siegward laughed. Pyrrha warmly smiled and sat down. The two reached out to each other and clanked their mugs together, with some trace amounts of Siegbrau spilling out, and they both drank from their cups. Pyrrha took a drink from hers and was immediately repulsed and caught off guard by how strong it was, admittedly having gotten used to subsisting off of Estus for so long. Meanwhile Siegward was downing his cup like it was going to go away if he didn’t drink within seconds, and despite lifting his visor to drink, Pyrrha was still not able to see his face before he brought it back down after finishing, only being able to make out a thin, black mustache.
“Ahh, it is good to have a moment like this to rest, before our duties take their tolls on us all. A memory of times before such circumstances”
Pyrrha knew the feeling, remembering the dance at Beacon, the friends she had back then, her team, Jaune. They helped her belong when before she felt she was isolated from the world based on people thinking she was too much for them. “Thank you so much Siegward. If I may ask, what is your duty?”
Siegward paused for a second. “Oh, it’s...far to early to discuss, and it’s of a...personal matter, a promise to a friend you see…” Siegward said, trying hard to choose his words carefully. Pyrrha nodded in agreement, but was still upset at not really getting to know the people she was meeting on her journey. Siegward saw her expression however and piped up, opting to tell her many tales of his adventures and the adventures of his forebears. He told the story of his family line, including his ancestors Siegmeyer and his mortal daughter Sieglinde, both of whom wandered across the old kingdom of Lordran in the time of the First Flame’s crisis. He told the story of his travels and the various locations he discovered travelling from Catarina to Lothric, including a strange monastery of snakes in the mountains, to which he never really bothered to explore. Finally he fabricated a fascinating tall tale about a king with two daggers that had command of the wind and used them to destroy the darkness of the abyss that had come from a place called Carthus, since erased from history. All the stories and legends reminded Pyrrha much of Professor Port from Beacon, who had a similar voice and appetite for high adventure. All of his stories were always seen as unbelievable and not without merit to be sure, but she was always polite enough to listen, and she wondered if the two would have become as good of friends as she was with Siegward now.
‘Friends’ she thought. Pyrrha thought of all the places and all the horrors she encountered, she was grateful to have found so many people in this land she could call friend. From Greirat, to Yoel, Sirris, Irina, and even the Giant on the tower. And she was especially grateful to have made a friend with such a figure as Siegward of Catarina.
"Well, I'm going to have myself a little nap. The only thing to do, really, after a nice toast" Siegward laughed, clearly also being exhausted. As he dipped his head down, Pyrrha began to get up, deciding to embark on her journey again. Before completely turning around, she shyly faced him again.
“Um Siegward, I would just like to say-”
Siegward was fast asleep, with the tell tale sound of wind vibrating through his head and echoing from his bulbous helmet. Pyrrha smiled in resignation regardless.
“Thank you” she whispered to herself.
Author’s Notes: When I say I’ll update I will! Even if it’s 3 hours later. Woops. Getting this done was a pain, and staying up late until 2AM without getting much done only makes you tired, which makes you stress more. I’m sorry if parts of this felt half-assed and I fear it may be irrevocably tainted (that is, if I was not able to EDIT IT!!! HAHAHA!!!). Please tell me how it turned out though, and with Finals done, I hope to be able to actually space my writing out efficiently.
Btw, I have a feeling I might get to writing a Fallout (4, but with NV elements, you’ll see) fanfic that I’d been wanting to do for awhile now, but I’ll have to figure out some essential things before trying to write it. If that works out though, I’ll be doing that along with this, so stay tuned! Again, sorry for the late release on this :(
Pyrrha’s vision was blurry and her head was numb as she walked down an asphalt road in Vale, now abandoned except for the packs of Grimm rushing past and covered in fog, which helped accentuate the glow of the occasional fire. The streets were littered with strewn trash and debris from buildings, and every so often the body of one of the many innocent people caught in the attack on what was considered a safe place away from the darkness. Despite the omnipresence of the Grimm and her own very present dread, Pyrrha could only shamble forward through the ruined roads. She began to near her destination, which turned out to be the docks, where the woman who killed her, Cinder, was standing, looking to the horizon. She looked back and smiled at Pyrrha as though she were a friend with a mischievous prank in mind. When Pyrrha approached her, she raised her arm and motioned to the spot she was looking at.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?”
Pyrrha didn’t see what she was referring to at first, until, through the fog in the distance, she saw something: a large mountain with…
She recognized it: the city of Mistral, the twin mountains covered by buildings and lush with plant life. Home. It was beautiful, but for whatever reason Pyrrha couldn’t be anything but worried, the dread gripping her still having not gone away, like a shadow gnawing at her spine.
At that moment, Cinder spoke again, with words she only vaguely remembered from that day. “As someone who hails from Mistral, I can assure you the situation there is...equally undesirable.”
She then turned from Pyrrha and raised her hands to the air, the dragon Grimm flying down from nothingness and towards the image of Mistral across the horizon. As it gained distance, a wind came from behind Pyrrha, causing her to turn around. The city and sky of Vale was crumbling and fading as a wall of noisy blackness swept through and swallowed everything. Cinder smiled at Pyrrha from the base of the dock and continued to do so as she too faded into it. The wall finally caught up to her only hearing the faint roar-
Of a dragon, which was faint and originating from Lothric Castle, which loomed over over the dead kingdom. Pyrrha’s eyes jutted open once more, having rested in the abandoned section of the Settlement where she and Siegward had fought the Fire Demon, only Siegward had gone, having left a cup of Siegbrau where he was. Pyrrha looked at the cup and sighed exhausted and dejectedly picked it up.
Using the bone Greirat had given her, Pyrrha had gone back to the last bonfire she rested at, making her way back to the tower. Although expecting the Giant to bombard her like before, but the missiles that were shot from the tower hit the cemetery, landing everywhere but where she was, Pyrrha guessing the Giant resolved to helping her after their brief talk. The hollows dealt with, Pyrrha continued back to the tower. Upon examining the lift, she recalled the need to activate the lift to use the lift to get down to the lower levels. After some messing with the lift, she went onto the platform and descended.
The ride was much shorter than the ride going up, and on reaching the floor an odd chill reached Pyrrha’s skin, almost familiar. It then occurred to her, it was like the same chill as when she encountered that beast on the High Wall, except much fainter. As she continued through the room, she found a strange creature lying in icy mist in a room filled with pillars, some chipped as though hit by a strong object. The creature appeared to be similar to the creature on the High Wall, except far smaller and carrying a sword rather than a mace. It was injured, and was missing an arm, which was nowhere to be found. Pyrrha readied her weapons and cautiously began to approach.
Suddenly the creature rose and bellowed, and prepared a fighting stance as best it could despite its pain. Suddenly it began to speak. “Ashnun” it said in a deep, pained, and gurgling voice, as though it was slowly forgetting how to speak.
Pyrrha looked puzzled. “I’m sorry?”
The creature continued however, possibly unaware of Pyrrha’s confusion. “Ponnif speak’ dee…” it pushed out as much as it could while circling Pyrrha, staring through the pillars as Pyrrha tried to keep in front of it. “Kill, kill dee, r’turn, live” it tried to say, before rabidly shaking its head and roaring.
The armored beast launched itself at Pyrrha before leaping into the air and slamming it’s sword into the ground and sending Pyrrha back into a pillar with a searing cold covering her shield arm. Despite its wounds, the beast was still ferocious. It swung and slashed, with Pyrrha only just being able to block, having little recourse in the room of pillars. Just as it was going to finish her, she redirected the blade and stabbed at the beast’s neck, sending cold across her sword arm. The blow, combined with its earlier wounds caused the creature to fall and disappear into light, as the frost surrounding it remained.
Pyrrha briefly took a moment to drink her Estus before pondering what the being had said. ‘Who was “ponnif” and why did...they, want her dead?’ was a question that came to mind. She began to wonder why it was wounded and who wounded it to begin with, before remembering Siegward had come from below the tower when she first arrived. Chances are it had a run in with him.
Without any solid answers, she continued on, out at the entrance of a forest, with a bonfire before its mouth.
After resting awhile at the bonfire, she began to explore the woods. They reminded her of the Emerald Forest where the Beacon initiation took place, in the sense that it was certainly scenic, but unmistakably deadly. She knew however that unlike the forest back home, the beasts here had more teeth if what Eygon had said was true. She walked forward and looked around while walking on the path. Up ahead, she saw a carriage, crashed and broken, with no sign of any driver or occupant. It was either attacked or fell apart and was abandoned. Given all she saw of this land and it’s inhabitants, she figured the former and got her sword and shield ready.
At that moment, a loud shrieking came from the hill behind her, where rested a tree and a path leading out. By the tree was a strange and horrifying creature, humanoid in shape but covered almost entirely in mottled feathers and sported empty eyeholes. Just when she thought it couldn’t get any more gruesome looking, it doubled over in pain and from it’s back it bloodily sprouted raven-like wings. Pyrrha began to dash toward it, but in mid run was blindsided by another one, wielding a knife. Knocked to the floor, Pyrrha was stabbed in the side by the bird-creature, which she drove off with a couple of panicked swings. After getting up, more of the birds came and began to surround her. Pyrrha attacked one of the ones in front of her immediately, trying not to get surrounded, but there were too many to take account of at all times while also fighting, and the birds then slashed and stabbed ferociously. Falling on the ground, they continued to attack as Pyrrha cried out in pain and agony before falling silent.
Pyrrha awoke with a start at the bonfire before the woods, still shaken from her latest death. This time she remained ever vigilant, tentatively approaching the broken wagon again. She looked to the corvid she first saw the last time, which didn’t notice her, and quickly ran towards it. By the time it noticed her approach and sprouted it’s wings again, she was able to kick it, which sent it falling off the cliff the tree was was resting on this whole time. Within seconds she heard the other corvids converging on her. She quickly ran from them and went through the darkened path under a stone archway, stopping abruptly when she saw a stone bridge leading out, guarded by more of the things, which had just seen her.
Pyrrha turned and saw the corvids had caught up to her, and attempted to fight them off, starting with the ones behind her. Before one of them could attack her she bashed it with her shield before attacking the other one while it was stunned. It managed to block, but Pyrrha followed with a kick and quick stab. The corvid she bashed had recovered and tried pouncing on her back, but unlike in the graveyard, she was prepared and flipped it over her using its momentum. She moved to finish it, but the corvids from the bridge made their way to her. One with a staff stood on a hill looking over the bridge and the corvids, and screeched, causing more to climb out from under the bridge. As Pyrrha was seeing them approach, the corvid on the ground pushed her away and, using its wings, started relentlessly slashing at her with its feet. Pyrrha instinctively backed away from the assault, trying her best to block, but she backed up to the edge of the cliff. Noticing the danger, she tried repositioning to avoid it, but the attacks from the corvids came to fast and she fell into the ravine below screaming, ending with a crushing impact at the bottom.
Pyrrha steeled her gaze and got up from the bonfire. There was a way out, she just had to make it past the horde of corvids before her. She prepared and when she felt she was ready she made a bee-line to the bridge. The corvids were initially surprised, but chased after her. As she approached the bridge, the corvids were immediately on alert. The corvid with the staff, instead of shrieking as before, blew a cloud of purple mist at the bridge, not affecting the corvids standing guard. Pyrrha tried to dodge the corvids, but in doing so passed through the cloud, which was noxious and caused her to become queasy, hindering her dash. The bonfire was dead ahead however, but the corvids struck at her, causing her to slow from staggering. This chain reaction of interruptions caused the corvids to dog-pile on her and send her to the ground. The attacked again and Pyrrha waited for death to claim her as before.
‘So close…’ she thought to herself.
At that moment they stopped, but the cloud as well as her internal bleeding was finishing her off anyway. But she was hearing something. Clanking of metal on stone and the grunts of a battle.
“Horace, hold them off! I’m getting her to the fire!” a voice cried out, distorted by her shifting pain. She began to fade out though and her vision dipped into blackness.
“Hey easy, are you alright?” a familiar voice whispered out to her.
“Uh?” She muttered as her eyes fluttered open tiredly. Jaune was standing over her in her bed in the JNPR. It was late, and Jaune was using his Scroll’s screen as illumination so as to not disturb anyone with the flashlight. He faintly smiled as she lay there, but she still faintly felt pain that she couldn’t explain well.
“Are you ok? You were tossing.”
Pyrrha was unable to focus somehow, whether from being tired or the pain, only being able to lightly articulate. “Hurt...dying...tired” she managed.
“Don’t worry, you can make it. I believe in you Pyrrha, you and I know you can do this.”
Pyrrha’s vision began to blacken again, only being able to mutter in agreement.
Pyrrha’s vision slowly returned, and her dimmed limited vision saw a shadowy figure in some armor, with the silhouette of a shield resting under his arm. “She’s waking up, we did it. Are you alright?”
“Jaune?” Pyrrha muttered in a fog, still waking up from her unconsciousness.
“I beg your pardon?” the figure asked, confused as to what she meant. Pyrrha’s vision brightened and cleared. The figure was a person clad in partial-plate armor, the chainmail shirt covered by an intricate and beautiful surcoat. The arms were protected by plate pauldrons, the shield arm covered more extensively and with a plate gauntlet. On his head was a simple but knightly close helm, which obscured his face.
Pyrrha blinked and shook her head, her senses having come back to her at last. “Ah-uh I’m sorry. Just a mistake is all” she chuckled, somewhat embarrassed.
“Well, it’s you’re safe. The Road of Sacrifices is dangerous to walk alone, as those Corvians had shown you. I am Anri, a knight of Astora, and this is my faithful companion, Horace.”
Pyrrha managed to relax a bit more. “I am Pyrrha Nikos,” she said and turned to Horace, who was standing still with his arms folded and facing Pyrrha’s right, not glancing at her. His armor, in contrast to Anri’s armor, was simple and almost crude, being a simple round cuirass with plated greaves and gauntlets, as well as a stark and oval-shaped helmet with only eyeholes being notable. “Thank you for helping me out there” she said gratefully, but Horace simply turned his head and stared what seemed like daggers at her.
Pyrrha withdrew the hand she extended, feeling unwelcome, but Anri quickly interjected. “Oh forgive me, Horace isn’t very talkative. But don’t think ill of him, he’s a kind-hearted knight and a fine partner on this gruelling journey. Speaking of which, do you too seek the Lords of Cinder?”
“I am actually.”
“Well we are well along the Road of Sacrifices, we are making our way to one such lord now. You could come with us if you’d like.” At this, Horace turned and grunted at Anri before glancing at Pyrrha. Anri put a hand up to reassure him before looking to her again, “what say you?”
Pyrrha immediately nodded in agreement, not wishing to continue further without some help.
Anri immediately stood up and nodded in enthusiasm. “Splendid, may the flames guide our way.”
“Before us is the Crucifixion Woods” Anri motioned with his hand over a cluttered swamp with land covered in small wooden crosses and trees to the left and a large sea of knee deep swampland to the right, also covered in trees. Anri’s hand curled into a point and moved to the swamp. “Beyond the flooded woods lies Farron Keep, home of the Undead Legion,” Anri explained, he turned his hand once more to the dirt path. “Further yet is the Cathedral of the Deep” he had said before finally turning to Pyrrha, “we seek the Cathedral, home of the grim Aldrich” with solid determination. They nodded and started moving, with Horace in front with a torch. “Remain vigilant. The Crucifixion Woods is filled with hollows and lycanthropes, and before we get to the steps of the Cathedral we must contend with the Crystal Sage that has made its home here.”
As they kept moving, Pyrrha pondered what was the purpose of the myriad wooden crosses in the ground were, and eventually, the curiosity got to her.
“What is on your mind Pyrrha?”
“What are those crosses for, on the ground?”
Anri hesitated, trying to form an answer. “The crosses, if I must guess, are used by the locals to restrain undead on the verge of hollowing, ensuring they don’t go mad and attack anyone.”
“And they are just...left out here?”
“Or they’re picked up by the Cathedral as they pass by here.”
Pyrrha thought back to the Undead Settlement, with the cages filled to the brim with bodies and corpses. “That’s where they’re taking them, to the Cathedral? All those people from the settlement?”
“Yes…” Anri said, almost pained.
“Is there any hope for them?”
Anri paused for a long moment before finally giving his answer. “No one who enters the Cathedral leaves it, one way or another.”
Pyrrha’s head sank once more, but raised again when she heard something. Up ahead, past an arch along the path.
As they approached the arch, they saw several bodies of hollows gripping sharpened wooden poles like impromptu spears, all strewn across the ground, along with a horrifying creature with elongated arms and legs, a cross chained to its back, and an elongated maw lined with sharp teeth, whose body was slammed into the stone wall of a fort. “I think we know why we haven’t been ambushed by the hunters” Anri dryly remarked. He then looked inside the building the lycanthrope was crushed into, all the occupants also being variously strewn about.
“What could possibly have been strong enough to do this?” wondered Pyrrha aloud.
“I don’t know, but hopefully whatever did this has moved on and left us a clear path. We should keep our guard up.”
The trio continued and moved through the derelict fort, across the bridge past more bodies and small chunks taken out of the floor, possibly made by a blunt object.
The pathway to the Crystal Sage that Anri had mentioned was lined in more of the crosses from the woods, and up ahead was a large wall of fog, similar to what Pyrrha saw before fighting Gundyr.
“A fog wall, a great power must be behind it. This is it. Is everyone ready?”
Pyrrha and Horace nodded their heads, fully behind Anri.
“Whatever happens, we keep each other alive. May the flames guide us.”
With a breath they waded through the fog. They passed through and saw a stone floored square from used to be various rooms and corridors, since decayed. However, nothing else occurred in the room after several minutes, leaving an air of apprehension and confusion amongst the party.
“MMmm?” Horace grunted, looking around quite nervously.
Anri looked around as well, but more restrained in his utter befuddlement. “I...don’t understand, the Sage was said to be here, the Cathedral was said to go around it whenever possible.”
Pyrrha tried to be helpful in finding an answer, “maybe it was just a myth, to prevent people from journeying to the Cathedral?” she positioned, still completely at a loss.
“No no, that can’t be it, I could have sworn... What has become of the Crystal Sage?”
Just then, a woman’s booming voice came from the exit out of the Cathedral, which was still covered in fog. “Seek the soul in search of answers, Anri of Astora.”
Anri’s head immediately snapped to the exit and he became deadly silent. Out from the fog came The Evangelist, the same one from the Undead Settlement, smiling smugly at the trio as she walked to the head of the arena.
“You!” Pyrrha declared, blood suddenly becoming hot from her experience in the Settlement.
The Evangelist however rolled her eyes at her indignation. “Yes indeed, me, child. If you must know about the Crystal Sage’s being, it has been dealt with by the Cathedral. A blasphemous creature last loyal to a blasphemous king. It was only a matter of time you see.”
Horace readied his halberd, completely silent. Anri was ready to fight too. “Regardless, all you’ve done is make our job easier.”
The Evangelist blinked and pulled her head back in genuine amusement. “Oh truely little Anri? How be that so?”
“We are going to the Cathedral, we will slay all who reside in it for their horrid atrocities against the flames and the innocent people of Lothric, and Aldrich for his. You will not stop us!”
The Evangelist’s face twisted into malice and stepped forward slightly. “While it is quaint that you believe you can accomplish such sacrilege, I cannot allow you to even try. If you three will not submit to Aldrich, you will be cursed forever!”
Horace charged first, causing The Evangelist to turn her head and immediately swat him away with her tome. As she did this she muttered a sentence of inarticulate words, before pointing the spine of the tome at Anri, sending a spiralling dark missile at him. Anri and Pyrrha split off in different directions to flank her. As Anri stopped to his position, he turned to see the the spell heading his way and immediately raised his kite shield to block, only for the Evangelist to pivot use the momentum to swing her long-mace at Anri, sending him off balance and onto his back. Pyrrha took this opportunity to twirl and slash at her. The Evangelist however was reading from its text calmly, though clearly in pain. Just then, her body burst into flames and immediately turned around. Her arms outstretched, she embraced Pyrrha, roasting her in copious flames, which made her shriek in agony as her skin and armor burned. The Evangelist threw her down onto the ground in a heap, though still alive, her pyre flickering out.
The Evangelist smiled at her victorious quarrel. “I may be but a humble preacher, a voice for my saint, but I will guard his rock with all my power and strength. And lo, my power is great.” She then hummed another hymn from her book, surrounding herself in a shield of faint, foggy shadow.
The three managed to steadily get up and raise their weapons once more. The Evangelist smiled once more, eager for the challenge. Pyrrha lead this time after taking a sip of Estus, and when the Evangelist brought her mace down, she raised her shield up to give Anri and opening, who thrust at the Evangelist. After a grunt of pain, she bashed him away with her book, but left herself open to a swing from Horace’s halberd, pushing her back. Pyrrha then swiped down and struck her, but infuriated by being beaten back, The Evangelist bashed her in the stomach with her tome, knocking her down and taking the wind out of her. Anri bashed her with the shield however, and the three continued to push the Evangelist back. Her blocks, while successful and quick for her weaponry, were beginning to tire and annoy the Evangelist and eventually she had enough, slamming her mace down and sending wave after wave of dark missiles at the three. They blocked at first, but the number was too great and after taking many hits they fell to their knees drained.
The Evangelist’s posture became more relaxed and she made her way to a wounded Pyrrha, who was trying to reach her Estus flask, which had fell out of her hand in an ill advised attempt to heal. “I realize in my haste to do my duty, I failed to acquaint myself with you child. What may I call you before I bestow the saint’s judgement?” The Evangelist cooed in a condescending tone.
Pyrrha stood up, weak but defiant, and glared at the Evangelist. “I...am Pyrrha Nikos, I am from Mistral, and I will come back until they get to the Cathedral and make you pay for all the horrible things you did. I will not let the darkness win” she said simply and sternly.
The Evangelist exhaled an amused breath from her nose and quickly glanced at Anri, who was trying to stand up as well. “Such a naive girl. The power of the deep, of the Abyss, cannot be stopped. I am not familiar with this ‘Mistral’ you speak, but I know for a fact that it too will be consumed in its loving embrace, and bring the sweet silence we have awaited for all time. I shall see you again Pyrrha Nikos.”
The words pained Pyrrha, reminding her of her dream, but she continued standing. The Evangelist quietly raised her mace above her head, ready to finish her. A sudden boom from behind her caused her to stop however and she turned around to see what it was. It was Eygon, with his enormous hammer/mace, rising up silently from his drop down to the arena. The Evangelist paused in confusion for a second, but smiled and went for him with her own mace. He swung and caused the Evangelist’s weapon to go the other way as she staggered from the change in direction. Eygon swung again, this time to hit her, and the Evangelist dodged and blocked another swing, but the impact made her stumble, the next hit causing her to fly to the ground, her mace rolling from her hand in shock. Eygon slowly walked up to her, and when she tried to cast something from her book, Eygon brought the hammer down on the arm holding the book, cutting it off from the body and sending the book’s pages to fly outward, as the Evangelist shrieked. It was unknown if it was for the arm or the tome.
The three from the original party healed up and went to the Evangelist, who was still alive, yet holding on barely to life.
“We’ve won here, and we will end this terror you and others of his ilk have brought upon Lothric” Anri stated to the dying Evangelist.
The Evangelist simply laughed, clearly thinking the whole thing to be a farce. “Oh my, you haven’t the faintest clue have you? Look at the three of you. I can see none of you have any time left.” The three looked to each other, Pyrrha at herself as well, not seeing any change to herself besides her gear being somewhat worn from her travel. “Sooner or later, the curse will take you, and you will have nothing to turn to when the end comes. You will not know the deep’s salvation from the hell that is your lives, which will strip the best parts of you until there is nothing left. I would wish upon you Aldrich’s forgiveness, but that would be insincere. Hehehe.”
After her final chuckle she finally shook and collapsed, dying of her wounds. Pyrrha stared at her body and looked to Eygon so she could thank him, but he was already gone, possibly having left as soon as he had lay the mortal wound upon her.
Anri also looked at the Evangelist’s body and then to the exit from the Road of Sacrifices. “I know. We both knew. I would gladly suffer that if it meant we found peace for all the victims.” He then turned to Pyrrha. “I understand if you would wish to stop and rest, but we cannot. I am grateful for your help however, and it would be remiss of me to not ask you to join us again. Do you still wish to go with us?”
Pyrrha turned and nodded. “Yes. What she said didn’t matter. I want to see you defeat this Lord of Cinder, to know that the dark can be defeated.”
The two turned to the exit of the Road of Sacrifices and the entrance to their destination.
“Then we go to the Cathedral of the Deep, and Aldrich.”
Author’s Note(s): Got this chapter done and with (some) time to spare. What a twist eh? Wouldn’t that have been cool? A buffed up Evangelist that fights you until you get to the Cathedral? How many saw that coming? So no it isn’t an exact novelization, but I hope it was still entertaining. Let me know if something is lacking at all (I felt quite rushed getting this out on time unlike the last time, which resulted in manly tears).
So I might have lied about the Fallout fanfic (I feel like that baby isn’t ready yet, I really want to know I can do it justice), but I definitely want to do some other fic to distract me in a constructive way for a change (maybe StarCraft, that’ll be easy to get material for).
Pyrrha opted to make a short transport to Firelink before departing with Anri and Horace to the Cathedral. With the journey they were making, she wanted to make sure they were stocked and her own equipment upgraded. Moving through the hall past the Handmaiden, she went to Andre for this task.
As he went to work on hammering Pyrrha’s broadsword and reforging it with the metals she’d scraped together, a small scurrying caught Pyrrha’s ears, and she heard a voice call to her. “Ah, Pyrrha, Pyrrha Nikos right? Finally got your attention.” Pyrrha turned and saw Greirat approach her from his usual hangout near Andre.
“Ah Greirat, I didn’t want to- I didn’t mean..” Pyrrha nervously fumbled her words.
“Oh it’s no trouble, I’d been meaning to ask you something for a little while anyway. You know I’m a thief, so why not have me go on the prowl and find some weapons and treasure for you? Or maybe some new armor?”
Andre butted in behind Pyrrha, “Sound plan if I’d ever heard one.”
Pyrrha paused, confused and searching for something to say. “You...would really do that?”
“Well, everyone’s either dead or hollowed anyway, right so…”
“No, I mean...you aren’t upset over-”
“Hmm? Oh, not at all. If anything I was mostly angry at myself. Of course, out here, cruel twists of fate have become...normal, ashamed to say. All we can do is keep moving forward.”
Pyrrha looked to the thief and her face softened and smiled in musing thought. “Keep moving forward…” she fondly repeated.
“Awfully grim isn’t it?”
“No, not at all.”
Greirat had taken what supplies he needed and left the shrine. He said he wouldn’t be back for awhile, but would return with ample loot when he did.
Pyrrha walked to the right of Andre and down the hall, where Irina, not minding sitting in the dark. She heard her however and looked up to the sound of Pyrrha’s approach.
“Don’t worry, it’s me” Pyrrha said, holding out her arm for Irina to grasp.
Irina laid her hands on her arm and breathed a sigh of relief. “Oh Ms. Nikos, welcome back.”
“How are you holding up here?”
“I was not meant to be a fire keeper, but I am honored to serve you before the bonfire.”
“Thank you. Um, if it’s not too much a bother, I wanted to ask you something, it’s about the ‘energy’ you felt the other day.”
Irina’s eyes widened and she nodded, “ah yes, that feeling. I had trouble feeling it at first, but now that I’m here I can sense it clearly, like a river of spiralling energy flowing through your body. I can’t explain it.”
“Perhaps I can. On my world, it is the manifestation of the soul, both a shield and a sword formed from our being, protecting us from harm and hardship.” Her face dropped, however, “but when I arrived on this world, I lost my connection to it, and I could no longer use the unique skills that I had once relied on, the tangible power within, and felt all the pain that I would normally have been shielded from.”
“I think I can understand. I would like to help, but I do not know how, or if I am able to.”
“I am not sure either. Normally it would have to be unlocked, but that either requires great stress or someone with an Aura to unlock. And considering all I’ve been through…”
“Indeed. But perhaps I can assist you in figuring it out. How would you control such a power.”
Pyrrha paused and thought. Controlling her Aura and Semblance had been so natural for so long. “Well… for me, I could manipulate metal and control it by focusing my Aura toward it.”
“You should try, I’ll be able to sense the change in energy.”
Pyrrha looked and smiled. “I suppose it couldn’t hurt to try.” She then took her shield and rested it against the wall near Irina. She extended her left hand to the shield while her right hand rested in Irina’s, who had begun to focus as well. With great focus, Pyrrha tried to will the shield to bend, a simple enough task that would make her feel all the better to accomplish.
“I...feel a twisting, and a shaking, as though the energy were a glass of water trying to spill out. It is moving.”
Pyrrha tried to focus harder, and for a small while she managed to hear a slight bending in the shield, but with no noticeable change to be seen.
“It’s- It’s now-”
At that moment a crushing pain came to Pyrrha’s left bicep and she involuntarily jerked her hand away from Irina to nurse it. Pyrrha’s arm ring had begun to shrink and twist, crushing her arm, and in great pain Pyrrha tried to get it to stop, but failed, the ring further damaging her.
“Pyrrha? Pyrrha what’s going on!? Pyrrha please tell me!” Irina cried, terrified and hopelessly confused as to what was occurring.
Pyrrha’s arm ring was further tightening and writhing, causing the skin and muscles of her arm to be cut and lacerated from the pressure as Pyrrha tried in vain to get it off. At that moment a pair of hands slammed against her forehead and right wrist, and with a bright glow the arm ring ceased its assault and Pyrrha fell to the floor light headed, as though completely drained of water.
“Are you hurt Pyrrha Nikos?”
Standing above her was The Fire Keeper as Pyrrha held her forehead and breathed heavily. “What...what did you do to me?”
“I simply took the energy causing you harm and let it flow between us until you were stable.”
“I-I couldn’t control...my semblance.”
“I’m sorry Pyrrha, I couldn’t exactly tell what happened, it’s as though the energy snapped like a rope” said Irina behind them, her head lowered apologetically.
Pyrrha knelt down to her and assured her it wasn’t her fault, though Pyrrha couldn’t help but feel the wind taken out of her sails.
“If you would allow me however, I could assist you in performing miracles.”
“Miracles?” Pyrrha asked.
“When I lived in Carim I was a nun, and we had access to many tales that granted its readers revelations, giving them power granted by the gods. With a good talisman and ample faith, you could use these powers much like those in the stories of old.”
Pyrrha smiled sadly. She couldn’t seem to escape fairy tales that turned out to be more true than she thought. Still, she couldn’t see the harm in letting Irina help her, and she nodded her head in agreement.
Irina then smiled and procured a small, canvas talisman and a sheet of paper. “Eygon found these on our way here to Lothric. He didn’t see a use for them, but you might.”
Pyrrha stared intently at the paper, engrossed in the story it told. The picture at the top also depicted a man with a jagged crown looking over several knights, with icons of the sun emblazoned on their tabards, holding aloft what looked to be fiery throwing spears.
“Mmm!” Horace grunted, shaking Pyrrha from her reading.
Anri however waved down the two who were sitting at the bonfire where they had fought The Evangelist before. “Sorry about that, Horace was just wondering if you were ready to head out.”
“Ah, yes, I think I’m ready” Pyrrha said, scrambling up to begin their journey to the Cathedral.
The party walked along the path to the Cathedral, passing a campfire long since gone cold, and up a path that lead to a large set of steps leading through a stone arch, alone amongst the dead trees. Along the stark and shadowy path were several large and heavy footprints, no doubt belonging to the large hollows that carried the sacrifices to the Cathedral.
“There, up ahead, the Chapel” Anri said, pointing forward past the road, lined and embedded with tombstones, that lead to the rest of the Cathedral to the small building at the very end of the path.
They slowly made their way to the chapel, but rounding the corner to the right of the chapel came a hollow with a broken sword hilt. Pyrrha only somewhat felt cautious, the hollow being indistinguishable from the hollows too far gone to be any threat. Anri and Horace however went alert immediately, and Pyrrha found out why. The hollow proceeded to stab itself with the short sword, but then erupted in furious flame and shrieking at the top of its lungs, not in pain but as a battle cry. The hollow ran blindly forward as fast as it could, with Pyrrha being unprepared to ready her guard. She was pushed back by Anri, who readied his kite shield to block the hollow, who leaped and exploded, launching Pyrrha and Anri back into the rockface.
“What in the world?” Pyrrha exclaimed.
Anri got up and looked around, finding several more hollows huddled and praying before an obelisk. “The denizens of this Cathedral, if not sacrifices to Aldrich, are ready to defend this place time and again if it means getting the blessing of the Deep.”
Anri walked back silent and opened the doors to the chapel, moving forward to the bonfire which stood cold at the end, lighting it with his hand. “The Deep, as it’s been said, was a pure and peaceful place, ‘beyond human glen.’” he finally said, sitting by the bonfire, “but then it became corrupted by vile, outside forces, and a cabal of holy men were formed and tasked with preventing its spread, meeting here” he motioned about the room they were in, “in this place, the Cleansing Chapel.”
Pyrrha, who had taken a seat across Anri, had listened to this and pondered its meanings. “But Aldrich came and killed the holy men?”
“No. Aldrich was one of them.” The news surprised Pyrrha, and Anri continued. “While he was powerful and intelligent, he called upon the powers of the Deep, in violation with the rest of the order, and in time, he corrupted them as well. Rather than stop the Deep, they worshipped it, with Aldrich as its patron saint. They have served him ever since, as Deacons of the Deep.” Through Pyrrha’s disbelief, Anri held his head as he continued, his voice becoming ever so slightly pained. “As his corruption grew, so did his hunger...and he hungered especially for human flesh. The more he ate, the more bloated and obese he became, until he dissolved and became nothing more than a mass of flesh that consumed all it came in contact with. And it still wasn’t enough. He needed more...so the Deacons... brought him more, much as they continue to do now.”
The story sickened Pyrrha, and caused her to cover her mouth as she gagged. Anri’s head was lowered, while Horace fidgeted with his weapon as he stood guard near the bonfire. After resting, the group got up and moved toward the exit, with Pyrrha glumly marching behind. But before Anri left the chapel, Pyrrha called out to him.
“Um, Anri...how do you know all of this?” she asked, half wanting to be as respectful as possible given the subject, and half wary, almost to the point of not wanting to know the answer.
The latter feeling only increased with Anri’s response. “This isn’t the first time we’ve been to Lothric, to this place. But one way or the other...I want it to be the last.”
The entire party stopped in their tracks at Pyrrha’s urging. “That voice, is that-?” Pyrrha trailed off and looked around, eventually zeroing in on a well. “It can’t be…”
The voice did indeed call from the well, and it called out again. “Hello? Hello! Anyone there? Anyone at all?”
“Siegward!” Pyrrha called out in relief at meeting her friend once again.
“I know that voice. Ms. Nikos! How long has it been?”
“I…” Pyrrha actually did not know, time seemed to move in circles in this world. She had no comprehension of how long she had been in this world even. She wasn’t about to let this worry her however, not now. “I’m not sure, but what’s going on? Why are you in a well?”
“I’m loathe to admit it, but I’ve been had, someone’s swiped my armor. Have you seen it anywhere?”
“What does it look like?” asked Anri.
Pyrrha looked back to him trying to find the right words. “Uhh, well, let’s just say you’d have known if you’ve seen it.” She turned back to Siegward. “I’m sorry, I haven’t. Do you need help out?”
“Oh no, no, I’m perfectly capable of climbing out myself. It’s just that...well, hmm…”
“Well I...don’t feel it’d be appropriate to fight against all of Lothric in nought but my underwear.”
Pyrrha paused for a beat and then caught herself before she could let out a chuckle. “I’m sorry, it’s just...it reminded me of someone, a boy I knew who wore a dress and danced with me to cheer me up.”
Anri and Horace’s heads snapped to Pyrrha when she heard that, with Horace tilting his head inquisitively.
“He sounds like a braver man than I Ms. Nikos. But leaving without my armor is out of the question I’m afraid. I would be ever in your debt if you found it.”
“I’ll keep an eye out for it.”
Pyrrha and the party began to walk away, with Anri keeping his view locked on the well until a certain distance.
“Now, perhaps I can fashion an armor, perhaps out of rock…...no no, that would never work. I have to think!”
They moved past the obelisk where the hollows prayed and walked up to a rusty gate that lead to a cemetery. Anri and Horace’s body language tensed as they stopped before it. “This cemetery is the best way into the Cathedral, but it is not empty. Once they begin to rise, we have to run.”
Anri then apprehensively opened the gate and they walked inside. Pyrrha felt a horrible, sinking feeling in her stomach as she scanned the graves piled in mounds around them. Not too far into the graveyard, a rustling came from behind them, prompting Pyrrha to look behind her. Out from the ground, a pale, emaciated hand pierced through the soil, followed by its owner, a gaunt, naked hollow that weakly scrambled from its place in the dirt. Then more sounds came, in front, near, behind, around them, moaning and nauseous gurgling of truly mindless and famished ghouls.
Horace and Pyrrha obeyed Anri’s command, rushing and shoving past the horde of undead that had begun to rise and claw at them as they passed. Blitzing past and weaving through the paths in the graveyard they immediately stopped at seeing what was ahead: a sea of hollows packed together, blocking the path to the bridge that lead to the exit. Bracing themselves, they charged forward, killing and striking the undead in their way. But the ranks of the undead were too great and their advance slowed.
Pyrrha continued to slash and bash the undead away with her shield, but they soon began to grab her sword arm and ponytail, with other undead rising beneath her clinging to her legs, trying to pull her down. Frightened, she wrenched all of it away from them, the ponytail coming undone and hanging loose, but as she sped forward from the momentum, a hollow ahead of her rapidly turned around and hit her with enough force to knock her on her back. Looking up, she found herself staring at a face...with the face and the body it belonged to made entirely of various maggots and larvae, which squirmed and pulsated as it held its shape. Looking closer, the body appeared to be growing from the stomach of one of the dessicated hollows. She froze in shock, and several maggots fell from the body as it restrained her. Just as it raised its squirming arm to strike, a projectile hit and exploded on it and its ghoulish host, causing it to squirm and writhe and shriek in pain as a fire engulfed it.
“Pyrrha!” Anri went to her side and lifted her up from her arm as he kept pace, with the three running all the way past the bridge. As she stopped to catch her breath however, she noticed what the maggots that fell on her were doing. Each one found a place on her skin and began gnawing and drilling, sending sharp, burning pain through her body and face that only increased, the maggots slowly tearing farther and farther through the epidermis. Pyrrha panicked and swiped at the maggots trying to get them off, but as she grabbed one it maintained its bite on her neck.
“Horace, quickly! Pyrrha hold still” Anri instructed, and in a second, Horace took out and lit a torch before holding it close to Pyrrha, causing the maggots to fall off of her. Pyrrha began breathing heavily, still recovering from the flesh eating parasites that slowly started dying at her feet.
“Sacrifices. Whatever is left of them becomes interred here, where those worms eat and grow in what’s left before manifesting themselves to kill larger prey.”
Pyrrha stared at Anri stunned before covering her mouth...and then her stomach, quickly moving to a railing to vomit over the edge. Anri and Horace looked to each other and shrugged their shoulders.
The Cathedral looked more than abandoned, it looked much as an insect’s husk, long since discarded and left to the elements. The Cathedral itself was weathered and dusty, and the vegetation that had grown on it in the years since had died as well, seemingly long ago, leaving only rotted trunks and wispy branches. Despite its apparent decay, besides the occasional loose brick or tile displaced by vegetation or otherwise, the Cathedral was perfectly intact, with not a sign of it ever collapsing anytime soon.
In a disturbing way, the Cathedral, with its buttresses connecting the towers to the central building, reminded her of Beacon Academy, but the air and feeling of the place felt monolithic and unnatural in contrast to the green and inviting Beacon. Something terrible lurked beneath its surface.
“We must move quickly, the wardens comb the cemetery to keep the numbers down, they could discover us.”
They strode through the stone stairs and landings, idly being watched by more of the former sacrifices that were on a platform below. They immediately hid when a figure walked by. They weren’t noticed as it continued, seemingly unused to actively searching for prey. The figure was long and slender, with the tell-tale skin of a walking corpse that was ubiquitous amongst the denizens of Lothric, its hands holding two long scimitars and wearing a hood. The warden effortlessly slaughtered the ghouls nearby, but then stopped to sniff into the air. After a tense moment, the warden shuffled off, and the trio left as the sound of the warden’s duties resumed.
The main gate of the Cathedral was locked shut, and no amount of strength could budge it. Anri however knew of another way into the Cathedral, through the upper floors by going through the architecture. They took a right and approached a tower overlooking a path through the roof and the buttresses that made up this section of the Cathedral, with wooden planks connecting the gaps where needed. “Used to be we had to jump across” Anri stated. In the tower, however, a hollow with a crossbow screeched out, causing a few hollows to come, including some that were hanging from the railings.
One hollow with a spear guarded the plank walkway while the one from the railing attacked. This one was immediately cut down by Pyrrha, but it distracted from another, who stabbed itself with the sword and burst into flame. This time Pyrrha was ready, and all 3 dodged away, but the crossbow hollow shot at Pyrrha while the spear struck at a nearby Anri, who knocked into Pyrrha, almost causing her to fall to her death below. Horace followed with body check that sent the hollow crumbling over the railing it was near to its fate. They quickly moved before the crossbow hollow could reload and found themselves on a roof with a buttress overhanging, with a stone parapet connected to the roof.
Going steadily to where the buttress hung over the roof, down from it came two of the same creatures from the Undead Settlement, the ones who had similar hoods to Greirat’s, with one wielding a hatchet and another with an impractical looking zweihander, both landing in front and behind the group. From the parapet came several other hollows. Horace charged toward the parapet hollows, kicking one off the railing before it finished climbing and spinning about to cleave his halberd through the others. The imp like creatures prepared to jump at Pyrrha and Anri, but the two sidestepped as they did, allowing the two to stab the ones that fell on their side. Behind them however, they heard a loud creaking sound, the door in the front having opened, with several sounds of hollows grunting and roaring with increasing loudness. Reinforcements, they surmised, and the party ran down to the buttress to the next part of the Cathedral, but midway through, they saw the landing was lined with crossbowmen, with a large, imposing hollow wielding a halberd behind them wearing clerical robes. The hollow lightly beat the shaft into the ground, prompting the archers to aim and fire. They blocked the swarm of bolts before continuing down. Just as they reached the end they had reloaded and prepared to fire, but Anri and Pyrrha managed to block before quickly ducking down to allow Horace to swing at several of the crossbowmen, killing several instantly, but this allowed the halberdier cleric to deliver a blow to Horace, knocking him down.
As Pyrrha and Anri readied to strike, the cleric retreated as quickly as it could. While it wasn’t fast at all, it managed to outrun them until it made it to a path leading to a stairway. By then, Pyrrha and Anri had caught up with the cleric and were about to attack before the cleric swung its halberd on the ground, forcing them to block. As they did, 3 imps fell to the ground to ambush them, allowing the cleric to escape. Anri immediately set to work on one imp that continuously dodged his attacks while Pyrrha stayed on the defense against two. However, one of them was wielding a zweihander, and Pyrrha was able to attack it in the time it took to swing, but was hit in the side by the other. Anri managed to kill the imp on his side, but from the door a fourth imp leaped into the air with a zweihander. It it attacked however, Horace had caught up with the rest and used his halberd to hit the imp mid air and use the momentum of the swing to cause the imp to overshoot its target and fly screaming off the Cathedral. The three continued to run after the cleric.
They ran up the stairs and found themselves in a narrow balcony, where the cleric was waiting with a squad of hollows standing behind it. As they moved closer, other hollows, previously slumped over on the pillars. The three went back to back anticipating their strike. The hollows attacked all at once, with 4 from the front and the 2 from the back. The ones from behind charged, with one getting knocked down from a shield bash by Pyrrha while Anri was holding back several hollows, who were clawing and pulling his shield to no avail, allowing Horace to kill them as they struggled. The rest of the hollows committed suicide and burst into flame, forcing them all to dodge, with Horace and Pyrrha unable to escape the fire and knocked down by the explosion. The cleric took notice and moved to attack Horace. Before it attacked it moved to Anri and began to swing. Anri moved to block, but the odd timing of the swing caused Anri to briefly lower his guard in confusion, knocking him into a wall. It then raised its halberd to finish Anri, but Pyrrha blocked the strike, causing her to get slightly crushed by the strike. The cleric attacking Anri drove Horace into a rage however, and he relentlessly swung and bashed at the cleric until it was on its back. With its final breath, the cleric finally spoke.
The word caused Horace to scream into the high heavens and drive the halberd into the cleric’s chest, spraying profuse blood from the impact. Anri got up and gently put a hand on Horace, who briefly growled before relaxing, like a dog not expecting to be petted.
The looked to the double doors that lead to their destination. Anri went up to the doors and rested his hand on it. He hesitated however, and didn’t move a muscle.
“Anri?” Pyrrha asked, confused as to his delay.
The prodding shook Anri out of his lull however, and with enough force, he opened the doors, and opened the way to the Cathedral, and the dark forces within.
Author’s Note(s): Another one down to the wire, I really have to manage my time. I really hope (again) that it didn’t drag on too much near the end, but I do have plenty of exposition (some really juicy details people never really think or learn about when they do this area). Up next is probably one of my favorite bosses in the game. As for a certain trusty, mild-mannered, unbreakable, spidery character you may know and love, I have to see if it’s convenient to the level design in conjunction with the story, but he will appear in the story one way or another. As always, see you at the movies...I mean on Fridays at 12 PM PST.
Ludleth sat as he always did on his throne, dutifully waiting until the task came to link the first flame. The long days, that had since turned into years, had been dull and uneventful, which had been a small price to pay for the peace that existed in Firelink. There were worse ways to go hollow: madly searching for a loved one who could not be found no matter how hard a person searched, being tortured and killed time and again, wandering aimlessly forever. By contrast, Ludleth always felt staying in a safe place, surrounded by friends and allies, that was a much preferable fate for the countless hollows that wander Lothric. However, when it came to people like him, for those with a duty and will to achieve it-
“Excuse me, Ludleth?”
Ludleth turned her head to the right, seeing the outsider, Pyrrha Nikos, standing near him, constantly rubbing her left arm, which was stained red for an unknown reason. In his musings, he must not have heard her approach. “Ah, Ms. Nikos, it is good to see you again. What brings you here, back to Firelink?”
“I was just returning for supplies. I found new companions and we were going to continue on to the Cathedral when I came back.”
“I can tell this has been difficult for you, it’s good your resolve has not wavered. But...there was something you wished to say?”
Pyrrha slightly lowered her head and went to the edge of Ludleth’s throne pedestal and sat down, staring intently at the bonfire below while holding a piece of paper. “It’s...nothing in particular, exactly. Just all these different things, ever since I got here. The companions I meet on my journey help me and push me forward, but I still feel so...trapped. I still can’t shake off what happened in my final moments, what should have been my final moments. I can’t help but feel I failed everyone, that I failed.”
“Failed in saving your world?” Ludleth candidly asked.
“...Yes. It haunts my dreams, it never gives me peace. No matter what I do, and no matter who I meet, I still feel so guilty having failed in something I was destined to do.” Pyrrha cried out, her voice cracking and near the verge of tears.
“And you help us because of this?”
“I don’t know.... I hope that, by helping save this world, I can prevent the same catastrophe affecting mine. But, I admit there is a personal reason. My friends, my family...I didn’t mind dying for the sake of keeping the world safe, but I only ever said goodbye to one, the one I cared about most. I just want to see them again.”
Ludleth remained silent, quite moved by her words. He finally looked to her. “I know the feeling, and I have known those who have known it better. But we keep fighting because it is what we must do. Even if it seems futile, even if the world conspired against us, we do it in the hope our people can thrive in the First Flame’s warmth and civilization can return.”
Pyrrha paused, collecting her thoughts and adjusting herself after pouring her heart and doubts to Ludleth. Then, a pressing thought finally manifested itself in Pyrrha and she turned to him in earnest.
“Ludleth, do you believe in destiny?”
Ludleth tilted his head, puzzled by the frankly vague question. “Whatever do you mean?”
“When I think of destiny, I don't think of a predetermined fate you can't escape. But rather... some sort of final goal, something you work towards your entire life. That no matter what happens, no matter if you were ‘meant’ to do it or not, you can achieve the things you strive for. I held this until the moment I died. I wonder...what do you think?”
Ludleth was stunned and remained eerily silent, staring into space.
“Ludleth?” Pyrrha asked, somewhat worried by Ludleth’s silence.
Ludleth’s head snapped to her again, having been brought back to reality. His longing expression gave way to a warm smile, evidently having been listened to every word Pyrrha said.
“I don’t believe I have met anyone so much like myself until now” he smiled.
When Anri opened the door, a small breeze blew past the trio from inside the Cathedral, which prompted Pyrrha to cover her nose. There was a strange humidity to it, yet the stream was cold and had a cocktail of various oders, primarily of decomposition. It was like opening a tomb.
“Just the way we left it” Anri darkly quipped before they entered, walking on a red carpet, ahead to a balcony that overlooked the entire inside of the Cathedral. Pyrrha took the opportunity to move and shuffle her hair about, not being used to wearing it this long. The inside of the Cathedral was completely different to the outside, margins more colorful and ornately decorated, the walls engraved and carved more beautifully than outside, with the shadows helping accentuate them than in broad daylight. In the middle of the Cathedral hung four impossibly ornate chandeliers, with countless candles, all hanging from the rafters and the ceiling above.
As beautiful as the whole Cathedral looked, it still radiated darkness from its halls, and the air was supernaturally cold and biting. The whole place had a strange blue mist in the air, and Pyrrha heard a strange breathing noise. Anri walked ahead to the edge of the balcony and looked down, with Pyrrha following his lead. Below them was a giant similar to the one in the Undead Settlement, curled up and sleeping in a swamp of deep, green sludge.
“Ah good, it’s not awake yet, that means we can slip by” Anri said, evaluating the situation. The three walked into a hall to the left, in the middle of which was a strange puddle of slime, which seemed to shiver and ripple. “Just keep moving, go around…” Anri said cautiously, as though not wanting to disturb it. As they slowly walked past, Pyrrha looked at the slime, realizing on closer inspection that it was moving and appeared to have bones and other strange objects jutting out from it. Pyrrha couldn’t help but stare at it as she walked along, the implications racing through her mind. Through a dining room and down the steps from a statue depicting a crying, shrouded figure with a growth in its back, they stopped at the doorway, beyond which was a path that ringed across the side of the Cathedral they came from, all in close range of the giant, still asleep.
They slowly began walking down the steps to the walkway, but their attempts to not wake the giant were for naught when its hand raised up and slammed down next to them, the three looking up at the giant in surprise.
“We should run!” Pyrrha exclaimed.
Horace hastily nodded in agreement and they all three started running quickly. Two hollows stood ready to fight them near the first corner, but they didn’t slow down. “Keep moving! Stop for nothing!” Anri cried out, and the three ran past the hollows, who were crushed by the giant’s fist as it came down. The giant then swept its hand across the stone surface, as though it were sweeping dust off a counter. The strong gust of wind managed to knock Pyrrha off balance and cause her to fall down, quickly scampering back to her feet in order to keep up with Anri and Horace.
They quickly went around, dodging and running past the giant’s swipes as they came before spotting a doorway out. Running as fast as possible, they blitzed forward, past other hollows that tried to strike, with Pyrrha diving through just as the giant slammed its palm down before the doorway, causing Pyrrha to crash through onto the ground, thankfully on the other side.
Anri and Horace helped her up and she brushed herself off. “Well that was...exhilarating. Let’s hope we don’t have to do more of that.”
“Yes. The giant should fall back to sleep with nothing to attack. We should keep moving.”
They walked through the halls and rooms, past an area resembling a chapel, but clearly better taken care of than the Cleansing Chapel, which looked to have been abandoned for years. Past another room with a lone chest in the center, Anri sternly told the others to keep moving, somewhat shaken. Recalling her own experience on the High Wall, she suspected the chest was another one of those duplicates...and that Anri had an unfortunate run in with them. The longer they were there, the longer Anri talked of the Cathedral’s dark details, the more worried Pyrrha became for Anri and Horace.
‘What in the world happened to the two here? Could they have been sacrifices? Or worse…”
Pyrrha didn’t dwell on it, and the last thing she wanted to do was to bother them with such things. The fact that they didn’t tell her everything seemed to have been, for once, for her benefit. Whatever happened to them, it pained them so much that they refuse to bother anyone else with what occurred.
Further down the stairs, they finally exited out to the ground floor, back in the atrium. The entire middle it seemed was flooded in clear, ankle deep water.
“There, that’s where we need to go.” Anri said, pointing at the balcony above them to the right, separated by a large, gate-like wall. Oddly enough, the gate had several large openings they could easily go through, causing Pyrrha to question why have it at all. Then Pyrrha noticed the giant, resting in a lake of slime and sewage beyond the gate, with a set of staircases just behind it.
“We aren’t going that way are we?
“Not if we can help it. I think I do know of one other way to the chamber where Aldrich is. If we-.”
Anri stopped abruptly and Pyrrha immediately went on alert at the same time, Horace also silently raised his halberd. “You felt that too?”
Anri nodded. “An invader…” His head snapped to the left and saw a figure, lined in red and wearing a set of armor covered in metal thorns, with an equally serrated sword and spined shield.
“Where did he come from?” Pyrrha asked. The thorned knight stopped walking and started jogging and finally charging at the three. Horace abruptly counter charged despite Anri’s cry to wait. Horace made an overhead swing with the halberd, intending to use the momentum to crash the halberd down onto the invader, but the knight tackled Horace and then flipped him over behind him before giving a solid kick to the armpit. When Horace landed in the water, he squirmed stunned as small amounts of blood leaked into the water.
Anri and Pyrrha readied their shields and cautiously maneuvered to flank him. The knight was content to stand in the middle before taking a long look at Pyrrha...and immediately striking at Anri, the sword slicing against the shield, scratching some of the ornate gold paint off the shield. He immediately rolled toward Anri and when Anri raised his sword to stab at him, the knight of thorns bashed the side of his shield into Anri’s abdomen, causing him to stumble, but only with superficial wounds due to the strength of his armor. The attack left him open to a quick slash across his chest and a kick, knocking him down, and when he attempted to get up he bashed his head back with the shield, momentarily stunning him.
When Pyrrha attempted to help Anri, the knight elbowed her in the face, causing a deep gash and knocking her into the water. This proved to be his objective, and he immediately kicked away her sword and pinned her in the water, lightly cutting her arm to get her to open her mouth. When that happened, he reached in and pinched her tongue, pulling lightly on it, Pyrrha’s eyes opening wide in shock as the knight pulled out a small blade. Just before he could get the knife close, however, Horace rammed into the knight. The momentum causing his fingers to slightly cut Pyrrha’s tongue, but otherwise forcing him away. After coming to a stop, Horace poured some Estus on his face plate on armpit before taking out his halberd and staring down the knight.
By then Anri had also recovered, slowly approaching the knight. Seeing itself outmatched, the knight pulled out a small black crystal and held it out in front of itself. Anri dashed forward and reached out, but the knight crushed the crystal in his hand, vanishing from sight.
Anri, stopped where he was and immediately went to Pyrrha, who was still shaken from the encounter and leaking some blood from the mouth. “Pyrrha? You’re hurt. What happened?”
“Heh died do dake-” Pyrrha then put her hand to her mouth in light pain, causing her to reach for her Estus and take a sip, causing the cut on her face to heal. She then made another attempt to talk, “he tried to take my...tongue” she said shaken and winded. “Anri, who was that?”
Anri looked to where the knight had disappeared and shook his head, somewhat ashamed. “I do not know.”
“Huh? Oh, yes, we really should keep moving. Unless you wish to rest of course.”
Pyrrha shook her head and got up. “No no, I just was...shocked was all, we should keep going. Where was this other entrance you spoke of?”
Exiting to a walkway outside the Cathedral proper, Horace forced open a set of double doors to reveal a lift, which they took up to the tower where the crossbowman was shooting them just before the path to the roof. After dealing with the hollow they came upon a ladder on the side of the tower, which they climbed up.
As Pyrrha made her way up they heard an old voice call out to them. “Well well, another journey through the Cathedral, eh Anri? How long has it been?” In front of them, overlooking the Cathedral from the tower’s edge was a hollow-like figure in ornate clerical robes, holding in both hands a cross-like ornament. The figure turned to face them with a crooked, sinister smile and glowing red eyes.
Anri turned to face him and glared through his helmet. “I see you’re still here. They never found out about you?” he said with uncharacteristic venom in his voice.
“Now Anri, whatever do you mean? Last we met, we were friends. You were so happy to be free of this place” he cooed in clear condescension.
“That was before we heard about your arrangement with McDonnell. You didn’t care about us at all, you were just giving us to another glutton. We escaped the Cathedral.”
The man rolled his red eyes and shook his head. “Things past” he said dismissively, “it worked out for me in the end, anyway. What brings you here by any chance? After a bit of revenge, I take it? What makes you think it will be so simple?”
Pyrrha stepped forward in Anri’s defense, angered by the clear lack of care for Anri and Horace’s plight, “we don’t, but we can’t just give up and let all of this continue.”
“Such an ignorant girl you’ve made an acquaintance of, and I see you’ve kept Horace around after all this time.”
“I trust them with my life” Anri firmly said, which Pyrrha was surprised at. They had only known each other for so long, and Pyrrha was such a stranger, and yet Anri still said it with utter conviction.
“It’ll be your doom then. It isn’t too late to repent you know. There are worse fates out there than giving yourself to Aldrich.”
After a pause, the trio marched past him, with Horace knocking his shoulder against his as he passed. They dropped down from the tower to the buttress connecting it, walking up it and walking along the walkway immediately below the roof, searching for an archway with an open passage. They finally found one, and it lead straight to the rafters, just below the ceiling. Carefully and cautiously they walked along the rafters which, while wide, was still the only thing between them and a long fall to the ground. Below the end of the rafters was a small platform, below which was a staircase to the side of the Cathedral connected to the gate guarding the giant.
As they dropped down, they heard a strange gurgling sound. Cautiously looking around, they deduced it came from the ceiling and looked up, seeing several strange, grub-like monstrosities drop down on top of them.
Immediately dodging out of the way, Pyrrha saw in horror that the grubs had humanoid top-halves, except extremely grotesque and consistent with the grub lower-half. The grubs pitifully but quickly lunged at them, madly trying to claw and grab at them while the three effortlessly began cutting them down. One further grub dropped from the ceiling with a staff and lifted it up into the air, causing the end to glow. The staff then erupted forth a white, forked energy spear from the end and shot toward Anri while he was distracted, which Pyrrha noticed and blocked. In retaliation, Pyrrha charged and kicked the grub off the platform connected to the gate and down to the ground floor below.
“By the flames...”
“I take it these are strangers as well?” Pyrrha asked, trying to lighten the mood, however possible.
“I’m not familiar with these things-”
Just then they heard a noise from the stairs above. “Where is he!?”
“But I plan to find to find out” Anri finished.
As they walked up, they saw several of the dead man-grubs, including some nailed to the wall around a large doorway, even so high as near the ceiling, oozing mysterious sludge all the way down.
They walked into the doorway, left ajar before they arrived, and entered a strange chamber, with the red-carpeted pathway lined with several large baby cradles, with several hanging from the ceiling. Some of hanging cradles had strange, inhuman noises coming from them. Up ahead was a large, unkempt woman kneeling on a large bed, petting a grotesque slug that wrapped around behind her. In front of the bed was a man with a tricorn hat and white mask and black coat, who was conversing with…
‘Sirris?’ Pyrrha thought, recognizing the woman in white. She seemed to be arguing loudly with the man in black.
“He must be with you. He has been preying on the weak and helpless, collecting his trophies, where else could he be!?” Sirris shouted at the man, who remained unfazed by her words.
“Mere stereotypes, Sirris. Hodrick is not amongst our ranks, and even if he were, I wouldn’t know his whereabouts.”
“What are you talking about Leonhard?”
“Despite the romantic camaraderie Heysel might desire, we are free and unchained. It’s not our business to look into what our members do. So long as they give their offerings of course” Leonhard spoke. The woman on the bed then shook in discomfort and held the slug to cope.
“Vile people, the lot of you…”
“If you think so, you would have no issue in killing our master would you?” Leonhard taunted.
Sirris actually hesitated, staring intently at the woman on the bed. “You know I cannot do that.”
“And that is what makes you weak, Sirris of the Sunless Realms. You cannot focus on who people are, only what they used to be. Whether it be Mother Rosaria here, or Hodrick…”
Sirris grabbed Leonhard’s collar and pushed him against the pedestal that held up Rosaria’s bed. Rosaria didn’t flinch, and continued to absent-mindedly pet the slug on her bed.
Leonhard continued after the initial shock. “You of all people should understand nothing can be done about him. Once a person succumbs to madness, there is no going back.”
“You know nothing, Leonhard” Sirris spat before letting him go. When she turned around she saw the three who had entered, who had stood still, listening in the whole time. “Pyrrha Nikos? I see you’ve made it to this foul place?”
Pyrrha stood to attention when Sirris began to address her. “Yes, it’s good to see you again. What brings you here? The last time I saw you, you were in the Undead Settlement looking for Hodrick.”
“I still am, but unfortunately I haven’t received as much help here as I planned” she said, motioning over to Leonhard, who rolled his head in annoyance.
“I’m sorry about that, but since you are here, would you be interested in helping us?”
“I’m afraid I must decline. Without the information I seek, I fear I’ll have to leave soon, so that the trail does not go cold. But in the future, if the trail is lost, I may have little recourse but to seek you out” she said hopefully, clearly meaning well to Pyrrha.
Pyrrha nodded glumly, but understood her reasons. The trio then left the bedchamber behind them as Sirris looked on.
“We just have to go across the gate to the other side, there will be a lift for us to take, which will-” Anri stopped as he saw something at the opening to the gate walkway. A man that looked like an onion.
“Hmhmmhmm” the man said, clearly imitating Siegward’s verbal tic. “Ohh, hello there. You’ll never believe me, but I found treasure across this bridge. I’d be willing to share if-”
His words were cut off by all three of them drawing weapons on him and holding him at sword point.
‘I knew they’d recognize it if they saw it’ Pyrrha thought to herself.
The imposter backed off when presented with the clear threat they gave, he then began talking in a light yet roguish accent. “W-well...when you put it like that…” he said before bolting off across the bridge.
Pyrrha and the others immediately gave pursuit. While Anri and Horace were falling behind due to their heavier armors, Pyrrha was able to close in on the imposter, who was clearly unused to wearing such bulky and awkward armor. Pyrrha was right on top of him, but right as the imposter reached the end, he pivoted and fired a mighty kick at Pyrrha’s abdomen, which sent her flying back onto the bridge and sliding off it, her sword and shield falling to the ground. Anri was right in range to catch her hand, but lost his balance as well, forcing Horace to catch him and keep them steady on the gate-bridge.
The imposter wasted no time and pulled the lever on the other side, which caused the gate to begin lowering down. “Haha, well, this was certainly fun!” the imposter began to gloat. He removed Siegward’s helmet, revealing a man with a bald head, crooked nose, and the most audacious grin possible on a human being. “Thought you can outwit an onion?” he jeered as they sank down.
“You won’t get away with this, I swear you won’t!” Pyrrha growled.
“Sticks and stones, love. By the way, say hello to the nice giant! He adores visitors! Hahaha!”
The gate finally sank down to the ground level, causing Anri and Horace to let go and for Pyrrha to retrieve her weapons. When she did however, the giant protecting the staircase awoke and stood up.
Pyrrha backed up with Horace and Anri. “Is there any other secret way past?” she nervously asked.
“This is the only way now” Anri steely said, “Pyrrha, rush to the staircase! Horace, follow her!”
The three split up accordingly, running much as they did with the giant protecting the entrance. The sludge the giant rested in, which smelled as horrid as a septic tank, slowed their approach however, with the staircase so close as it was. The giant prepared to flatten the two, it staggered in pain, looking behind itself to see Anri had dug his sword into its ankle. It immediately turned around to face him as Pyrrha and Horace trudged on. The giant swung quickly at Anri this time, forcing him to roll through the sludge to escape. As it reeled back for another blow, however, Horace struck it in the tendon with his halberd, forcing it to stagger again. Pyrrha lifted leg after leg trying to march through the gunk, and couldn’t help noticing more of the bone slimes floating about, the implications from before finally reaching their conclusion.
Eventually they reached the stairs and went up as quickly as possible before catching their breath. Anri stood up and flicked the slime off of his surcoat and armor, as well as banging his helmet to force some slime out. Finally he stood erect and they marched forth, past the pews and statues covered by tarps, down a long set of stairs that lead to an ornate and light swallowing set of double doors. The room that lead to Aldrich.
The three looked up to it and gazed in awe at the apparent end to their journey. For Pyrrha, only the beginning, but for Anri and Horace, the crux of their entire lives and afterlives.
“This is it everyone” Anri proclaimed, “our duty will be done, as lord-seekers. For the children we knew, bless their souls. Is everyone ready?-” Evidently Horace was, as before he had finished, he stepped forth and slammed open the doors with one kick, eager for blood. Anri and Pyrrha did not dispute this and they all marched forward, as dark, droning bells tolled inside the shadowy, circular room.
Ahead of them, before a giant stone structure, turned several hollows in clerical garb, all with glowing red eyes, which shined in the darkness, accentuating its darkness. They were numerous in number, and ranging from normal build, to unnaturally tall and thin, to morbidly bloated, all bearing hideous, sinister smiles. The Deacons of the Deep. “They have come at last” “They have returned at last, come to die perhaps?” “They come for the Lord of Cinder” “Our lord” they said. “Our gracious lord and patron” they all said in unison as several more appeared to the flanks of the structure.
“I won’t let you stop us! We will slay Aldrich no matter how you may try to stop us!” Anri shouted at them.
“What makes you think it’s that simple, child?” said a tall Deacon. “Their failure here will break them, most certainly” a fat one said. “I see they are all cursed, it will not be long before their blasphemy consumes them” one noticed.
“We are not cursed!” Pyrrha called to them, “all we want to do is survive!” she said, somewhat confused on what to do herself, but she felt she needed to say something to them.
The Deacons were not impressed. “Ignorant” “Heretics!” “No matter” they said. “We however have ourselves, we have Aldrich’s blessing.” “Blessed He, Saint Aldrich!” they all responded in unison. “And most importantly, the promise of the Deep Sea.” “Blessed be the Deep and their loyal Deacons, amen!” they all responded once more. The Deacons on the flanks then pulled out books and spun a thunderous sound from opening and flipping the pages all at once. Once they stopped, they began to sing:
(Deacons of the Deep)</span></span></span>
The Deacons all raised their crosses one by one in quick succession, each one firing off a flaming missile. The three began running to the targets they picked, dodging and weaving between the fireballs, which were fired in order of cross raised. Pyrrha and Horace charged headlong at the Deacons who were bracing for her approach. Horace waded through the Deacons, sending several flying, a few into the choir, who dutifully kept singing the hymn. Pyrrha crossed blades, or crosses, with the Deacons. She took down one after the other through many stabs, slashes and parries, chopping at one’s hand and then flipping over the back one to escape a stab from the fatter one.
However, the Deacons kept appearing, flooding in from the back of the room. Anri was holding off several ones coming in after sliding one Deacon off his sword. The tall ones kept trying to launch fireballs at the trio at will. Horace caught one’s feeble attempt to stab with its cross and retaliated with a brutal upward chop to its stomach, followed by punching it downward to the ground.
Pyrrha was able to grind away at more of the dark clergymen, but as she tried to finish one off with a stab, a fat Deacon grabbed her now flowing hair and pulled her, bouncing her off its stomach and onto another Deacon, who blasted a bright, white force from his body, sending her to the ground. As she tried to get up, they prodded her with their crosses, forcing her down. Just as several lined to fire their missiles, Anri came in to interrupt them, also distracting the Deacons pushing down Pyrrha, allowing her to backstab one and slice at the others.
The fighting continued, with more Deacons coming in to fill in the ranks as the trio carved their way through.
“ENOUGH!” bellowed a voice from atop Aldrich’s coffin, which had several statuettes of what could only be assumed to also be the Deacons. The voice belonged to a frail, bearded hollow in an elegant white and gold trimmed collared robe and pointed, gold trimmed hat, holding close to him a solid gold, twisted and ornate scepter. Flanking him were two tall Deacons in blue robes and sporting less ornate but taller obsidian colored scepters.
With the figure’s words still echoing throughout the chambers, everyone involved stopped their fight, and the choir halted their hymn to listen.
Anri stepped forward as a sort of challenge. “You’re not McDonnell, where is he?”
“Archdeacon McDonnell has been removed after being charged, and convicted, of heresy. I am Archdeacon Royce. And I am not pleased with what has come over Aldrich’s blessed rock.” Royce had stopped however when he spotted Pyrrha amongst the congregation. “You are different. I can sense it. You come from a different plane of existence. Most intriguing. The Pontiff would be pleased to make your honest acquaintance.”
Pyrrha was taken aback by this. “That’s the third time I’ve heard that. Who is this man? This ‘Pontiff.’ Why is he so important?”
“An irrelevant question, child. All that matters is you are not like these...” Royce motioned over to Anri and Horace, “...petulant children. You have brought here by lies and half-truths, they do not understand the blessings we have been given from the Deep’s generosity. Stay with us, and you may find the answers you seek all along…”
Pyrrha’s eyes widened, and then narrowed in anger. “After everything I’ve seen of this ‘Deep,’ I want nothing to do with you, and I will not stop until justice is done!”
Archdeacon Royce glared with piercing, glowing red eyes that unnerved even Pyrrha, so soon after her show of defiance, and began to shimmer and emit a light scarlet aura. “SO BE IT!”
The choir flipped their books once again and took it from the top.
Royce’s aides then raised their staves and a shadowy blob of darkness fired at them at bewildering speeds, hitting Horace and barely missing Pyrrha, who rolled out of the way. The Deacons formed ranks once again and began releasing their fireballs at the three, who began to retreat and hide behind the pillars. The Archdeacon and his aides then raised their scepters in the air, where a large, shadowy sphere was forming above the battleground.
Anri noticed this too, and tried to get Pyrrha’s attention. “If we don’t stop them, that orb is going to kill us all! Any ideas?”
She didn’t have any, actually. If she were on Remnant, she’d have used her javelin and thrown it at the Deacons, using her Semblance to have it float back to her. But even if she did have her Semblance, which she might as well not have at this state, she didn’t have even so much as a…
“A spear..” she realized and pulled out the story Irina gave her, with the knights who wielded bright throwing spears.
“Pyrrha, are you...reading now?” Anri asked, genuinely puzzled, almost worried at Pyrrha’s fixation on the paper.
Pyrrha didn’t hear him, and she peered out from the pillar, absorbing the enemies ranks in the split-second before pulling back to avoid a dark projectile to the face. She then pulled out the canvas talisman that Irina gave her from her pocket and concentrated hard on the story’s words and how the knights from Lothric’s legends created light spears from their hands to fire on the dragons. If Remnant’s fairy tales and legends were true, why not theirs? Clenching her fist as the talisman hung around her wrist, a crackling energy came from her hand and extended into a long rod of lightning she had no trouble holding in her hand.
Quickly thinking back to the layout she saw, she swung out from the pillar, raised her arm and thumb, and threw the lightning spear at the Deacon on Royce’s left in the chest, sending shocking ripples through his body before he fell limp to the ground, the Deacons below moving out of the way to avoid getting crushed.
“Now Horace!” Anri cried out before joining Horace in a charge on the Deacons, who tried in vain to fire at them before breaking ranks in fear of their imminent onslaught. “Pyrrha, aim for Royce to stop the Deep Soul from firing!”
Pyrrha concentrated and summoned the lightning spear, raising her arm and aiming her thumb at Archdeacon Royce, who was intently focused on the Deep Soul. Pyrrha tossed the lightning spear as hard as he could, hitting him square in the shoulder. He stumbled back into the statues of the Deacons behind him, breaking them apart, but he was alive and fuming, accentuated by the aura he had. Despite this, the Deep Soul kept building up, uninterrupted by the blow to the Archdeacon.
Anri was about to swing at a Deacon when it suddenly seized and died, with Anri looking up to see Royce absorb the essence from the Deacon, as well as from the Deacon to his right. Pyrrha looked at the Deep Soul, wondering what could possibly be strengthening it if it wasn’t the Archdeacon. Then she glimpsed again at the choir, who were invisible for the whole fight despite filling the room with their terror inducing hymn. She saw their eyes have become bright blue, leaking blue mist from their eyes, which flowed into the Deep Soul.
“The choir! It’s the choir!” Pyrrha cried to Anri and Horace.
Anri looked to the choir after running through a Deacon, turning and nodding his head to Horace who went to the other flank. Together they began swinging and chopping past the choir Deacons, who dutifully kept singing their hymn, but the incantation connected to it weakened nevertheless, causing the Deep Soul to sputter and vanish in the air.
“NO!” Archdeacon Royce echoed through the chamber.
“Pyrrha, finish him off!”
Pyrrha dodged several Deacon’s attempt to fire at her and she launched another lightning spear immediately after finishing her roll. It hit Royce in the other shoulder, which caused a few Deacons to fall limp to the ground. Pyrrha raised her arm again, but Royce growled and raised his scepter, launching three dark spirals at her. Pyrrha hesitated to break her concentration, but at that moment, Anri leaped in and blocked the first two, but the force left him unable to block the third, sending him squirming in pain on the ground.
“Foolish girl! You’ve damned all you cared about by resisting us!” the Archdeacon spitefully taunted.
Pyrrha immediately retaliated in anger by tossing the second lightning spear at Royce, which shot him in the chest, sending several ripples across his body, and causing many more Deacons to die feeding him more life.
Pyrrha finally summoned the third spear and let out a loud cry as she hurled it as hard as she can, striking him right where it struck the last time. The blow caused a large burst of light, and created a large, cross shaped outburst of electricity, which cracked Aldrich’s coffin below him. The Deacons could sustain him no more and they all slowly and dramatically fell, the choir softly giving the final notes of their hymn before falling to the ground.
Royce himself collapsed on his knees and plummeted to the ground. Anri and Horace slowly approached the coffin, with Anri kneeling to Royce, flipping over the Archdeacon, who was surprisingly clinging to life, however long it may be.
“It’s over Archdeacon, now we fulfill our duty.”
“You are fools, all of you…” the Archdeacon muttered deliriously. Strangely, Pyrrha noticed a faint smile on his face.
Anri nodded to Horace, who then raised his halberd, pulling back and finally swinging at the giant coffin. The strike broke open a large hole in its wall.
“Hmm? MMM?! RAAAAGHHHHRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!”
Horace’s cry was almost deafening, and Pyrrha almost had to cover her ears, but when she finally looked through the hole after the dust settled, she knew why.
The coffin was utterly and completely empty.
Anri straightened up in pure disbelief. “Where...?” he muttered before grabbing Royce by the collar in desperation. “Where is he!? Where is Aldrich!?!” he cried at him.
“Gone...long gone...you will never lay your unclean hands on him. At last, the Deep’s victory is assured. Blessed be Aldrich and the Pontiff...” the Archdeacon said, a final curse before his eyes ceased their illumination and his neck fell limp.
Anri held onto his collar, stunned and distraught at this cruel turn of events, only mustering enough energy convince his muscles to drop him before settling his hands on his knees. Horace was on his knees and breathing heavily, while Pyrrha watched all of them, completely numb. Another failure. Another final battle against agents of pure evil...brought down by inclement weather. How many more could she take?
Just then, Pyrrha noticed something in Royce’s robe, a strange fabric. She bent down and reached for it, suddenly pulling back when she heard a shifting. “Did you hear that?”
“Hear what?” Anri asked, being temporarily taken out of his stupor by Pyrrha’s investigation.
Pyrrha hesitated before putting her hand on the fabric again, pulling it out and taking it out, revealing it to be an ordinary straw doll. But the appearance wasn’t the odd thing. It was the endless whispers spilling out into Pyrrha’s mind, utterly incomprehensible and shifting, practically white noise. She shook her head, not able to make heads or tails of the gibberish. “It’s whispering something but...I can’t understand it.”
Anri extended his hand and took the doll when she gave it to him. He stared at it for a long while. “It’s fuzzy, but I hear names, places. I can’t figure it out, but it’s a lead. There’s a chance that this doll could be the key to finding Aldrich, it’s too strange of an object for the Archdeacon to have” Anri said, hope reemerging in his voice as he elaborated.
Horace however looked over his shoulder, not bothering to join in their investigation, almost seeming completely exhausted.
Anri and Pyrrha stood and faced each other. “Thank you Pyrrha Nikos. I don’t know how far we’d have gotten without you. Thanks to you, we have come closer than ever to bringing Aldrich to justice, I will never forget that.”
“I...didn’t do anything really. I know you would have gotten here on your own. I’m the one who’s out of their element.”
“I have never met anyone so modest. Earlier, I said I trust Horace and you with my life. I meant that. If ever you need us, do not hesitate.” He then handed her a strange white stone accompanied by glowing crystals of various colors. “A soapstone, it attracts those inclined to help to your location, and we use these prisms to trace our steps through a dangerous area, for the other to follow. I hope they are of use.”
Pyrrha took the gifts and smiled at Anri. Anri nodded and began to walk to the exit of the chamber.
Horace then clasped his hand roughly on Pyrrha’s shoulder, turning her around to face him. Despite looking somewhat unhinged, Horace then lifted a small cloth, with a sword and moon painted on to it. “Oh, another gift, it looks rather-” Horace then shook her shoulder and lifted the cloth to her again, prompting her to take it, somewhat nervously. Once she did however, he gently and tiredly removed his hand from her shoulder and lumbered away, almost ready to collapse. Anri waited near the door for Horace to meet him at the door before bidding Pyrrha farewell.
On her back, the Darksign was freezing, and after using the bonfire that appeared at the Deacon’s chamber, she transported to Firelink to see Yoel. However as she approached, she heard voices coming from where he was staying.
“You musn’t be here! I have everything under control. You have my word” she heard Yoel say to an unknown person.
‘Was someone threatening Yoel?’ Pyrrha readied her weapons in that event and moved forward slowly.
“Be still Yoel, I am merely early. My presence shouldn’t interfere. You have my word” cooed a silky, female voice, sounding almost like Cinder did, on the top of Beacon tower.
“Yoel?” Pyrrha said, wanting to make sure everything was alright.
Yoel shuffled in surprise at her sudden appearance. The woman he was talking to, however, was not surprised and maintained her composure. She was clad head to toe in a black gown, with leather epaulets and an ornate metal helmet that had wispy black hair sprouting from the back.
“Is this her Yoel? The Champion of Ash?” she asked.
“Yes, yes she is. As I said.”
“It is good to finally make your acquaintance, Ashen One” the woman said, extending her hand for her to shake. “I am Yuria of Londor.”
Author’s Note(s): Done in record time! I have some bad news however: I’m taking a Summer Math 56 course and I will have to take some time off to concentr-
Paranoid!Reader: THE FIC’S DEAD! BAIL! *Dives into the water*
No no, the fic isn’t dead, but for as long as the course is going on (8 weeks), I’ll have to put the fic on hold. Thankfully, by the time this is published, 2 out of 8 weeks will have passed. I really must thank you for reading this, I didn’t expect my first fic to have been so well received. The only thing that’d make it better is if this gets a TvTropes page (which I’m sure will eventually happen but I’d be lying if I wasn’t a bit disappointed by its absence. Too many NGE fics to keep track of I guess XD (seriously, look on TvTropes, the FanFic folders are overflowing with NGE fics, I’m beginning to wonder if it warrants a separate folder, it’s gotten almost to self-referential levels).
So I guess consider this a Season Finale of sorts until I return (still faster than RWBY’s breaks).Also, special thanks to ACWeapons (ACGearmaker on DeviantArt) for the new cover art. I apologize for its rough appearence, it is technically unfinished but I haven’t been able to get into contact with him since he too has been busy with school. Hope you like it, he did a great job on it (and from what he told me, the final product will look even better).
Anyway, I’d just like to say, see you on the other side. Stay tuned when you get there.
“This had better be important. We don’t have much time.”
“Your Holiness, I have very bad news. Rumors are circulating that Archdeacon Royce has been killed.”
“...Is that so? Then it was most fortunate we acted as quickly as we did. Speaking of which, what of the Bed of Chaos?”
“...Digested, Your Grace.”
“Very well. Rouse our good saint. We will have to launch our attack earlier than hoped.”
Pyrrha’s eyes snapped open and her mouth took a sharp inhale as she awoke from her rest. Shaken again by her bittersweet visions, she raised a hand to her face to nurse a small sob. The Fire Keeper saw this and went to her as she had always done, and placed her hand on her shoulder.
“Is all well Pyrrha Nikos?”
“I’d think by now you’d know the answer to that. Oh- I’m sorry, I didn’t mean...I’m just so, tired now, I can’t seem to get any good night’s sleep.”
“No, just...memories. Even by this bonfire I feel shivers of cold.”
“Be wary, Pyrrha Nikos. Such things are rarely so innocuous.”
“...Do you sleep at all, Fire Keeper?” Pyrrha looked up hopefully, eyes still somewhat red from the tears she shed when she awoke.
The Fire Keeper shook her head. “I’m sorry. Sleep is for the living.”
Pyrrha looked down and lay near the bonfire, hoping to let sleep come again. She resigned on staring at the glowing amber in the bonfire. She shivered from the chill that occasionally interrupted the warmth of the bonfire. So she closed her eyes and pressed her fingers on her lips, recalling a time when she felt warm the most.
In the shadows of the alcoves, Yuria of Londor leaned against the wall looking to Yoel, taking the time to wonder what had become of the ruler they had selected.
“Horace, easy now, you can’t keet rujisini yuul ii…”
He couldn’t hear him, he could barely see him. He felt a biting chill in his spine and his movement was sluggish and slow, his legs wet and damp. The last mark was due to their surroundings, which was-
The side of a mountain? Far below them and far to the distance was a castle overlooking a village. To the right was a large flock of black robed pilgrims, all pitifully trudging along using their walking sticks chained with incense. Horace’s blood boiled and he clutched his halberd as one pilgrim tentatively approached with his hand outstretched to A-“HORACE!” Anri cried, shaking him out of vision, his hands gripping his head trying to have him come to his senses.
He tried to look around, to know where he was, but it was dark and frightening, he wondered where he-
The swamp, he remembered, they were in a swamp. They wanted to...find something. No, someone. No, find something to find someone...who?
A chill once again ran through his back as he heard a screech and turned his head. He saw a boy running through an ornate hallway floating in the middle of the swamp. He ran after the boy, along with several others to another room, where they saw a red headed girl running from a...monster. A horrifying creature with elongated limbs and body, a jaw made from a chest with a tongue as long as his arm.
The girl curled in a corner behind wooden pews, but the creature knocked and burst the wooden structure away and lunging immediately at the girl, who screamed as the beast shoved her in its mouth, only stopping when it crunched and chewed at her flesh, blood dripping down to the floor. The boy was despondent and his gaze was far but-
Wait, the girl didn’t have red hair...Where did he see…?
He then remembered where, he saw it in that other woman. He didn’t know her name, but he knew she was there too. Or there at...when was she there? She wasn’t there when that happened.
The biting cold laid its grip on him…
‘When what happened?’
He heard a rolling sound, snapping him out of his vision in time to see a tall assailant with glowing red eyes that charged with a large, curved sword. Without any effort, he twisted toward the blade, missing it, and brought his halberd on the hollow, chopping its head off.
His mind was foggy now, and he had no idea where he was, but before he could collect himself he was at the mercy of more of the shadowy warriors, who disappeared as they evaded his strikes, the freezing cold wouldn't go away. His mind raced once more as-
The man’s hands swept over their heads, the children were kept sullen by the audible screams of those who came before. The man in the clerical robes was fat and his smile toothy, turning to gesture to an abnormally tall man in a long, black, regal garb, obscured by a mesh mask.‘McDonnell...Sulyvahn! ALDRICH!!!’
His rage had found its mark once again, and he leaped toward McDonnell, strangling him with all his-He stopped, he heard a gasping coming from his hands, and when he looked down, he stopped. Beneath him was Anri, his gauntlets trying in vain to separate his hands from his throat.
“Horace...don’t do this…’a hollow needn't be mad.’ That’s what the pilgrim told us, remember? We have hope…” Anri said, trying his best to speak with no air to support him.
His mind was clear at last and he removed his hands from his friend’s throat, just in time for his mind and vision to fog and the cold to take him once more.
He finally awoke from his walking slumber and found himself lying down on jagged rocks, surrounded by bones and swords, while above him he saw a rickety bridge.
“Horace? Horace!?” he heard in the distance. Anri. His closest friend. But he had almost killed him, he couldn’t understand, how could he even-
He remembered. He remembered everything.
He had to get away, he couldn’t let Anri find him. His time was over, he knew this. He never wanted to kill Aldrich, he just needed to keep Anri safe as he did. That’s why he gave the banner to...to Pyrrha, that was her name, the girl who journeyed with them.
More of the fog creeped in. It faded, it dimmed. He saw more and more varied shifts in his surroundings until he found himself laying on the ground, in a cavern, glowing from lava. He didn’t seem to know however, or care, and where there was once a freezing chill there was only a numb pressure. The curse was at hand. His throat was sore. It had been for so long, and he could never speak, even on the rare occasion when he truly wanted to, needed to. But here, at the very end, he somehow found a way.
All he could say were two names.
Author’s Notes: Guess who’s coming back? Only two weeks left in my class and then I have a more or less free schedule again. Updates will come soon after. Hope you like this small sneak peak. Next chapter will be a bit more low-key as well but longer, and will focus more on character (hopefully) than before. Keep an eye out for the next chapter.
The attack on the village left it in tatters, but RNJR’s intervention prevented it from being completely leveled. They camped out by the church at the head of the hamlet, where scant hours before, Ruby managed to defeat a large portion of the Grimm, including a Beringel. But though the village was safe for now, especially with them staying to ward off any other threat, Ruby was restless, and she could not sleep. Sitting up she noticed Jaune standing up; his back turned away from the rest of the group. He seemed to be staring at the night sky, and the broken moon that hung above.
“Jaune? Is something there?”
Jaune abruptly turned around, startled at her being awake. “Oh, sorry, I was...standing guard. Decided to give Ren a break for awhile” Jaune said, cracking a tired smile.
Ruby smiled back where she was, but then looked down. Jaune and indeed the rest of the team had been in good spirits since they left Patch, but Ruby never shook off a lingering bug in the back of her mind, the elephant in the room. Pyrrha. They had talked so little of her under the circumstances. Ruby never truly stopped thinking about what would have happened if she was just a little faster or if she didn’t stop in places before she and Weiss got Jaune’s call. Pyrrha would have been alive, and she’d have come with them, and they’d find out what happened that night together.
But perhaps the worst feeling was wondering what Jaune and the others were thinking. As bad as it was for her, Pyrrha was their teammate, and she was such a supportive person, to Jaune most of all, and she knew they were close. The question ground against her mouth before she let it out.
“Were you…” she hesitated, “thinking of Pyrrha?” She asked, in part because she was.
Jaune looked slightly stunned, but quickly composed himself. “Um, uh no, no not really. I mean...I just was...thinking, that’s all” he pushed out.
The two looked and retreated from the conversation out of the awkwardness they shared, but Ruby remained awake, and Jaune remained vacant from his vigil. Eventually, Jaune said what was on his mind. “I just...hope she’s in a better place...wherever she is.”
She did too.
She couldn’t breathe, and she couldn’t see without getting all sorts of gunk in her eye. Quickly she raised her head above the water, with her long hair mostly sticking to her face and armor. She turned around and was blasted again by a jet of water, pushing her back into the bog. Pyrrha got up and pushed the hair out of her eyes to see the creature attacking her: a giant, lumbering crab.
She looked at her Estus flask, which had been drained halfway in her fight with this thing. The crab became impatient and moved to sidestep toward her, readying its claw to slam down on her. Pyrrha charged ahead and raised her shield.
Pyrrha came back to Firelink utterly exhausted, the Bonfire giving her a needed reprieve from her failed first trek into the swamp where she was told the Abyss Watchers were kept. Her hair was draped over her as would a cape, clinging to her back and armor. She lifted a long strand in her hand and sighed. “I think the hair has to go” She said to the Fire Keeper, who nodded behind her. She moved to the front of Pyrrha, holding a polished and reflective shield in front of her as a mirror as Pyrrha took the bulk of her hair in her hand and her sword in the other.
She took an opportunity to look at the reflection, however, having not seen it much when she came here. She seemed weathered, perhaps accentuated by her loose hair and most notably her armor, which had become chipped and her skirt rather torn and dirty. She reinforced her grip on the sword and the bulk of hair in her hand and carefully cut the hair off. Her hair now reached merely to her upper back and shoulders, much more manageable than before, while still having a familiar look. Even so, she couldn’t help but feel like she just removed a part of herself, a part of who she was. But if she was to survive in this world, to find any semblance of answers, she had to do anything. A haircut was a minuscule sacrifice. She took the locks and strands of hair still in her hand, and threw them into the bonfire, instantly causing a burst of gas and flame before dying back down.
The coils of hair still in the fire glowed and seemingly flowed a river of ember as they shriveled and crumbled. As she stared at it, she remembered the piercing pain, the burning in her chest, the numbing in her lower body, the air in her lungs burning and with no way to get more. The tears, both voluntary and involuntary.
Behind her, she heard a clanking of metal and went to look at the commotion. She went to the back and found a large sack of various junk and treasures alike as well as a man in a peculiar hood.
Greirat turned and piqued his head up at Pyrrha who was standing at the top of the stairs. “Ah, good to see you again Pyrrha. As promised, I’ve brought a fair amount of loot to sort through. Go ahead, take what you fancy.”
She looked through his wares and his items, looking for the right armor to don and replace her old set. She finally settled on a plate cuirass with short sleeves, steel gauntlets as well as steel greaves to replace her old ones. She decided to keep her old shorts and the tattered remains of her skirt, along with her belt.
She found a quiet place to change out of her battered armor and into the new one she got from Greirat. She kept staring at it, the assorted bits of armor, wrapped up in a sheet of cloth, the armor she’d worn for so long.
“Get rid of it.”
She spun around at the voice that came from behind her. Leaning against the wall she saw Hawkwood, who didn’t look her in the eye, instead staring straight ahead of him, a bitter countenance as he did.
“What did you say?”
“Get rid of it. That armor is poison.”
“What are you...you-you’re talking about this?” she asked him, pointing to the armor wrapped in cloth. “In what way would this armor be poison?” Pyrrha asked, somewhat indignant.
“You’ll stare at it. You’ll long for it. Or rather, you’ll long for the memories it carried. All that’ll do is just make you go hollow, as you go crazy, laughing madly while cradling a piece of threads that only holds dust. It’s dead weight, girl. If you don’t get rid of it, you’ll drown.”
Pyrrha frowned and walked away. She didn’t want to talk to Hawkwood, a pitiless man who spends his days stewing in Firelink, about the merits of keeping something of immense sentimental value.
She walked outside with her head down looking at the armor, wondering what to do with it. She was considering covering it in stones to prevent people getting at it. But when she looked up and froze.
Ahead of her was a large tree, one that looked like a large giant creature kneeling down with branches growing from its back and arm stretched arms, with an oval where a face would be. The thing that alarmed her, however, was a figure standing before the tree, a glowing orb in hand. He was clad head to toe in steel armor, with a metal cuirass, gauntlets, and a green undercoat with fur lining the shoulders. Slung on his back was a large, green greatsword, glowing in a calming light. Most striking of all, for whatever reason, was his engraved, crested helmet with a T shaped visor, on which rested an impressive, pointed crown seemingly latched onto the helmet.
The orb of light in his hand petered out and the crowned knight glumly shook his head. He raised it and turned his head slowly to Pyrrha, staring straight into her eyes, which were likewise stuck. After staring her down for several minutes, the knight turned his head and slowly walked away past the tree.
Pyrrha then shook herself from her stuck expression and tried to follow the knight, but he was gone, seemingly vanishing into thin air. But up ahead, at the locked gate to the tower was a figure in white robes, clinging to the bars, knees on the ground.
“...Irina? Irina!” Pyrrha then rapidly ran up to the tower. Irina’s head turned to Pyrrha’s direction.
“Oh, Pyrrha. Thank goodness you’re here, I wasn’t making any headway with this door,” Irina chuckled, sheepish and embarrassed.
“Irina, what in the name of Dust are you doing out here? You could have been attacked by the Hollows.”
“I can’t explain it but...I saw something here.”
“W...what? You said you were blind.”
“I am...very so...but there’s a light at the top of this tower. I moved my head and saw it glow above my head. It seemed burned into the void. So...I-I followed it.”
“A light… this gate is locked correct?”
Irina nodded her head. Pyrrha took Irina and guided her back from the gate and turned back to the gate. She stared at it and took a deep breath. She raised her hand and focused. And focused, and focused. She felt more control, but it took everything in her power and more to prevent from hurting herself. Finally, the lock of the gate began to groan and creak, slowly bending.
The lock then began to implode before snapping and sending a shard of metal forward, slamming into Pyrrha and causing her to crash to the ground. Irina jolted in shock and shivered. “Pyrrha? Are you alright?”
Pyrrha was lying a few feet from Irina. The wind was knocked out of her, and she felt blood in her mouth. Her shaking hand moved to her chest, and she sat up, fishing her Estus flask from her belt. The wound immediately left, but the hole it made in the armor remained for now. Had the armor not been there, it might have had enough power to punch right through her. “I’m alive,” Pyrrha said, somewhat shaken. She heard Irina sigh a breath of relief behind her and saw the gate to the tower creaked open, the lock having been blasted off.
The two began walking into the tower, which was dark and with two rectangular pits on the sides of a walkway to a lift.
“The light is coming from directly above us,” Irina said, her head craning up.
Pyrrha gently guided her to the lift and stepped on the pressure plate to activate it. As they sailed up, Irina’s head tilted down as they rose, following what she was seeing. At the end of the lift’s ride, they stepped off and climbed a few steps to find themselves at the top of the tower. Underneath the bell, the same one that had awakened her from the dead, was a swirling figment of white, silk-like energy. It lightly pulsed at their presence as they approached it.
“There it is…” Irina gasped. Pyrrha gently let go and cautiously approached it, the swirling energy pulsing more as she did. She gently picked it up. It stopped moving but it felt heavy and icy cold, almost painful to hold, but she couldn’t set it down. When she brought it up to her stomach’s level, the object violently contracted and exploded.
Pyrrha saw a field of white. It quickly changed to a series of horrifying visions: a girl in old and worn robes, and from her mouth, she was heaving up a stream of black fluid. She then saw another figure clad head to toe in bronze armor, which then collapsed, revealing nothing but the black fluid, molded to a humanoid shape. She saw a large, monstrous spider with the top half of a pale, naked woman who looked sickly and surrounding her was several eggs, which burst into more of the black fluid.
The white field erupted again but died down into a black void. But in the black void, a portion of it stood out, separated from the rest of the void by a white, vaguely person shaped outline, and within the piece itself was a pair of white dots that looked like eyes, which seemed to stare into Pyrrha’s soul.
The phantom then imploded on itself and shaped itself into a creature, a black furred monster with two large, tangled horns adorned with red lights and mismatched arms. The creature charged and roared at Pyrrha.
Pyrrha screamed and dropped the object she was holding, which Irina dove to catch. Pyrrha, however, was still shaking and hyperventilating, though she didn’t precisely know why. Putting her hands to her arms, she continued to breathe heavily at what she saw.
“It’s so warm”
Pyrrha looked at Irina with an odd look, like she just admitted to being from another planet. “I’m sorry?”
“It’s really warm, like a little heartbeat. I should have known, it’s a Fire Keeper’s soul. But…” she hesitated “it isn’t speaking to me I suppose,” she said, looking down crestfallen.
Pyrrha felt sorry for Irina, more than that she sympathized. She mentioned how she wished to be a Fire Keeper, but instead of receiving that, she lost her eyes. Her purpose, her destiny, was to be one thing but lead her down another.
“Perhaps we can bring it to the Fire Keeper. She might know what to do with it.”
Irina smiled and nodded her head, and they travelled down from the lift. But ahead of them the gate was shut, with several chains covering and threaded into the gate from the outside, connected to rings that were nailed into the stone. And behind the gate was a man with leather armor, a tower shield and spear...and a bald head sporting a smug smile.
“It’s you!” Pyrrha shouted at him.
All the man did was wave his hand, like one might gently wave away a hovering fly. “I’ve been told that before. But I’m doing you a favor, really, honest. Curiosity’s going to kill you two kittens, some places are better left alone you know?”
“Pyrrha what’s going on? Who is this man?” Irina said, clinging to the Fire Keeper soul.
“A thief,” Pyrrha said, still scowling at the bald man, who was unflappable in his superior position.
“No matter, I’ll still get those trinkets off your corpse. If it makes you feel better, you’ll be making a customer very happy. See you later bug eyes and….” the man trailed off and bent down to get a better look at Irina before pulling back repulsed, “and no eyes?” The man then shrugged, not particularly bothered and walked away.
Pyrrha gripped the bars of the gate and lightly jostled them before beginning to vigorously and viciously shake them in desperation, the chains being tight and secure in keeping the two in.
“Could you not open it like you did with the lock?”
“I don’t want to risk it again, especially not here where you might get hurt.” Pyrrha looked around and looked to the pits, which were dark, but had small ledges to land on. It would be close, but she failed to see any other way. “Irina, there’s a way, but it’s risky, do you want to try?”
Irina nodded her head in confirmation. Pyrrha gently guided her to the edge and explained. The two made a few thrusts with their legs to gain momentum before finally leaping onto the small platform, but it was too little for two people and without eyesight Irina lost her footing and began to fall. Pyrrha quickly caught her free hand, which left her dangling from the platform. The platform shook and rumbled, being unused to the strain, and a stone Pyrrha was putting weight on gave out, causing the two to tumble. Pyrrha arranged themselves so that Pyrrha could take the brunt of the impact.
But the landing was softer than what she expected, and they landed on an incline. As they recovered, Irina set her hand on the ground they were on before pulling away in disgust. “By the...Pyrrha, where are we?”
Pyrrha turned around and gasped. Irina was lying on several corpses, long dead and covered in ancient and decrepit hooded robes. They had markings and stains around their eyes.
Pyrrha looked up, into Irina’s absent eyes. Pyrrha froze. “...It’s not important” she said. She went and helped Irina out of the mound of corpses. They exited and opened a gate on that side, which lead to the front of Firelink Shrine.
As Pyrrha and Irina walked back into Firelink, Pyrrha heard a clanking of metal. Instead of coming from the back of the building where Greirat was, this came from above them, up the stairs, near where she exited to the outside to the tree. She didn’t know what it was...but she had a pretty good idea.
“Give that to the Fire Keeper” Pyrrha cooly said before marching off to the stairs.
The man who left the two for dead was rummaging through his pile of junk, vaguely “organizing” them for stock before pulling out his latest find: a worn hard leather cuirass/corset with bronze greaves wrapped in a white cloth that he found near the Giant tree. He greedily fawned over it before setting it down. As he did, he ended up hearing footsteps in increasing tempo.
He tried to stand up and defend himself, but was too late and was grabbed by the throat and thrown into the wall behind him, crashing into his pile of loot. Before he could get up, he saw a sword up against his throat. Pyrrha stood over him as he raised his hands meekly in the air with a nervous smile on his countenance. “Well now...seems you’re alright after all.”
“This has been twice you have tried to kill me and you nearly killed my friends. To what end? Why, of all times?”
“Oh, please do forgive me. I don’t want to do it, really I don’t, but sometimes I get these...urges, what with the business and all. I can’t help myself.”
Pyrrha slightly lowered her sword in disbelief at how transparent his excuses were. “W-Are you...what?”
The man nervously shifted his position and began pathetically prostrating to Pyrrha. “Please, please I beg of you, give me a chance! I won’t do any of that again, I swear it, honest! I’m at your mercy here!”
Pyrrha craned his head at the over dramatic display and sighed. “What’s your name?”
“Patches, lass. Trusty, unbreakable, Patches” Patches told her, earnestly trying to stay his execution.
“Hmm. Fine, I’ll let you go.” Patches smiled, but shrunk back when Pyrrha continued, “but, you have to do two things. First, don’t try to kill anyone.”
“Second, give me back my armor” she then looked at the loot pile, which contained a set of onion shaped armor, “and Siegward’s armor” she said pointing at the set.
“Both, bu- ah alright alright, just enough of the sword already!”
Pyrrha took the armor from a muttering Patches and left down stairs. Irina and the Fire Keeper were nowhere to be found, being somewhere else in the shrine. But as she wandered the bonfire area, she stopped and turned around, seeing Yuria, the black lady.
“Welcome home Ms. Nikos.”
Pyrrha seemed unnerved, though she didn’t know why. “Umm, hello. What there something you needed?”
“Oh, it’s no trouble. Yoel wished to see you, he said it was important.”
With only a pause, Pyrrha immediately ran to Yoel’s alcove. Yoel was hunched over his walking stick as normal, but he seemed like he was ill, well, more ill than usual. He was shaking. Yuria walked behind Pyrrha, having caught up to her.
“Yoel, are you alright?”
“Oh, Champion of Ash, it is good to see you came. I have but one Dark Sigil left to give you, do you wish to do so now?”
Pyrrha hesitated. “Yoel, I don’t know. Ever since I took these, I started feeling...cold and uncomfortable. Is it connected? If so...I don’t know what I should do.”
“I understand your concern, but if you are to survive, nay, thrive in this world, it would be beneficial to take it.” Pyrrha was still thinking and Yoel set a hand on her shoulder. “I want you to know, it is my deepest desire to do what is best for you, my champion. If you do not wish to take it, do not, but know I only wished to help you.”
Pyrrha heard Yuria shuffling behind her and closed her eyes. “Alright.”
Yoel gently placed his hand on her head. Pyrrha shuddered as power surged through her, as well as a chill. “Ah, excellent. This is good, just as I thought.” Yoel removed his hand and returned it to her shoulder. “All will be clear soon my lady. You simply must wait for it to become so.”
Pyrrha nodded her head and left for the bonfire. Yuria, however, stayed.
“You took a big risk, leaving the choice for her. It is good she chose to go through with it Yoel.”
Yoel didn’t move and shook his head. “I almost feel sorry for her, what she will endure in the future, but I know, in my heart it is for the best, she will be our hope.”
“Do you still wish for my assistance?”
“Yes. My time has come.”
Yuria raised her left hand in the air. It began to darken and take a red hue before glowing bright and radiant.
“Kaathe...I have done my duty well.”
Yuria gently laid her hand on to his head.
Author’s Notes: I’m back, sorry it took so long. By the way, for clarification, the “sneak preview” is probably more of a teaser, since it won’t appear in a chapter proper since it is a mini-chapter by itself.
It has come to my attention that things might not be completely clear in the story, since some know of RWBY, some know of Dark Souls, some know of Dark Souls III, and some know of both, so if you ever have questions, just PM me and I can explain (without spoiling).
Some things I wanted to point out. First, Patches’ comment on Pyrrha’s eyes (as well as Greirat’s in an earlier chapter) is kind of an in-joke, since Pyrrha comes from an anime-esque universe and has bigger eyes as opposed to the people Dark Souls. It isn’t important plot-wise, but I thought it’d be funny.
Also, some of you may have picked up on the description of the crowned knight. I will tell you right now, at the risk of reduced surprise, that is the Bearer of the Curse. And he will come back.
As always, stay tuned. Updates will resume to their Friday schedule.
Though many hollows remained, still praying outside, the Cathedral of the Deep seemed rather quiet since her battle with the Deacons. The ominous shadow the Cathedral cast over the surrounding area has lessened, but not vanished.
She returned to the well where she had left Siegward last time he was here. She nervously approached the well, worried she’d find a disheartening sight or even nothing at all. Both possibilities made her heart ache, but then she heard a loud cry and a crash of water from below the water.
“Oh, blast it all, that won’t work either!”
Pyrrha breathed a sigh of relief and went to the edge of the well. “Siegward?”
“Hmm?” she heard from below, “oh, Ms. Nikos! It’s been too long, have you spotted where my armor had gone?”
“Yes I managed to get it” Pyrrha sighed, recalling her experience with Patches.
“Excellent, if you would be kind as to just drop it down, I should be able to catch it.”
As soon as she dropped the set down the well, she heard a crash and a light swear echo. “I’m sorry!” Pyrrha said, a playful chuckle leaving her mouth despite herself.
“Errgh. Ah finally, reunited! Thank you, Ms. Nikos, I am in your debt yet again. Don’t worry about me; now I am plenty equipped to climb out of this well.”
Pyrrha turned to leave, but stopped herself and looked back into the well. “Siegward, what was that promise you talked about? The one to your friend?”
She didn’t hear anything for awhile, not even the shuffling about she heard shortly after dropping the suit of armor down the well. “I suppose it couldn’t hurt to tell, especially to you. We were sworn battle-brothers, having fought and bled and died and returned side by side countless times against the forces of darkness and the fires of evil. Even when others distrusted him, even as the world conspired against us, I remained by his side and he to mine. When our...his mission was nearly complete, he made me swear that should the time come, should the worse come to pass, I would find him...and kill him.”
Pyrrha recoiled slightly from the well when she heard this, and her eyes went wide. “W-what?”
“I suppose it would be difficult to understand at first, but when a person completes their purpose, achieves their destiny, they are forgotten by the world, and they go mad despite their best efforts, or they if they’re lucky, they die. My friend did not want this to happen; he did not want to return and harm all those who he and I saved, no matter his feelings for them. So he asked me to help him should it happen.”
“And you accepted.”
“I was his closest, most cherished friend Pyrrha Nikos. I could not refuse.”
Firelink was quiet as ever that day, save for Andre’s blacksmithing and the gentle crackling of the bonfire. She stood and stared at the flames, thinking of what she had heard at the Cathedral of the Deep. She was only vaguely aware of what the people here called hollowing, a vague state of undeath where those afflicted eventually go insane, no different from the shambling corpses outside in Lothric. The loss of personality that comes with the curse she’d been told she had.
And then there was the chill. Pyrrha shivered again, as she stood near the bonfire. She looked at her hand and went to the alcove for answers. She walked silently, looking down and thinking of what to ask.
“Yoel? What is-,” she then gasped, and her pupils dilated. On the floor of the alcove, Yoel lied still on the stone brick floor, the light from the rest of the shrine casting down on him. Pyrrha stumbled forward before rushing to his limp body. “Yoel? Yoel!?” She felt for a pulse, for all the good it’d have done her. Her breathing became heavy and rapid, “no no, answer me Yoel, please! Help! Help, somebody!”
Pyrrha continued panting and begging Yoel to respond, her eyes welling and breathing becoming shaky. “He passed a little while ago.” she heard from behind her. She stood up and turned around, seeing Yuria curtly standing behind her, impenetrable with her mask.
Pyrrha calmed down and looked to Yoel’s body. “How long ago?”
“Shortly after you left.” Pyrrha furrowed her eyebrows, and her gaze fell. “He had fulfilled his destiny, in helping you achieve yours, and died peacefully. A truly great honor.” Pyrrha felt sick to her stomach at this, and her eyes and were frozen, staring through Yoel’s body. Images of Penny Polendina’s body flashed into her mind, split into four pieces. She saw Loretta’s head, oozing blood.
Pyrrha’s eyes couldn’t move from either.
“Sorry I guess.”
At this point, hearing his voice made Pyrrha’s blood boil. “I’m sorry, should I ask?”
“For your loss,” said Hawkwood, “thought it’d help. Personally, I don’t see why you’re so in a fuss. I don’t trust those shifty types from Londor, all sorts of trouble follow them.”
“All I saw was a kind old man who needed my help and a purpose.”
“Hmmph, you need to stop seeing with your eyes.”
“How dare you!” she snapped, standing up and over Hawkwood, who hadn’t moved an inch or even bothered to look up at her. “The way you scoff and belittle every opportunity you can get, all I can see is that you are an awful, pitiless man. You don’t understand just how important Yoel was; he was almost like family for me here!”
Hawkwood’s eyes widened, and then he emitted a faint chuckle. “Heh, family...right. I had a family once you know, real big one at that.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You know those big shots you’re going after? Farron’s Undead Legion? The Abyss Watchers?” Pyrrha nodded her head in response. “I used to be one of them.”
Pyrrha gave him the oddest look. Even with her limited understanding of this world, the concept just sounded ridiculous. “You? You were with the Abyss Watchers?”
“Oh yeah, even made a pact with the Old Wolf himself. They were my family you see. Until we had a falling out. You know families, I’m sure.”
Now Pyrrha was genuinely curious, and Hawkwood seemed to be telling the truth. “What happened?”
“I wanted to use a shield,” Hawkwood said, with an exasperated tone and a stone face.
“I-is, that it?”
“Petty, isn’t it? They were traditionalists, them. They all held greatswords and daggers, all to be like the founder Knight Artorias himself. Oh, they didn’t kick me out because I insisted on a shield, but from that moment on, we knew where we stood. I was the outsider, and we all knew it, and they made sure I knew it too. Eventually, I read the writing on the wall and pissed off like they wanted me to.”
“For what? Bunch of gits, they were. I turned around and never looked back. Now if you want to pay them a visit to their keep, you’ll need to snuff out the fires keeping the gate closed. Small little things, surprised they never went out on their own. Pinch those fires out, and the gate will open up for you to go to work.”
Pyrrha absorbed this information before slowing down, when a thought, a question, drilled into her mind. “Hawkwood, why are you telling me this?”
“Moral of the story: If you aren’t with them, you’re against them. Best thing they ever taught me.”
She trudged through the murky swamp once more, slimy gunk and scum squelching as she pushed through it. The bog was dark and thick, in the water, the vegetation, and the air.
Pyrrha’s head was heavy and her mind numb. The humidity and the darkness weighing down her already troubled mind.
A friend was gone, after having gotten a semblance of being used to this world, after he had put his faith in her. She still thought of all the people who died because of her actions; Penny, all the civilians, and huntsmen during the Battle of Beacon, Loretta…herself.
“It’s all my fault,” she said out loud, unintentionally shaking her from her stupor. She had walked through the sludge and found herself standing near a bonfire at the lip of the greater swamp, even darker than before, even though she could see the sky for a change, the bisected bridge from Lothric Castle towering over the entire land. Sunken in the bog were several buildings and constructs, including a bridge that seemed to have broken in half as it sunk, and growing in it were countless trees with hideous growths on them, as though covered in tumors. She blinked and lowered her head, turning to light the bonfire before going forward.
While the swamp was initially shallow, it soon went up to her thighs, and she could barely walk, let alone run. The air, it seemed, also grew thicker, and she had trouble breathing, coughing and gagging from the sheer power of it all. Worse than that was the itching and burning she felt on her skin as the water leaked in, bringing minute but still present pain. She tried to climb up on the bridge sunk in the bog to get away from the water and to get a vantage point.
Ahead was a set of stairs that gave her a clue as to where to go. The water’s effects stuck with her, and grew to the rest of her body, causing a stinging pain along her skin. Trudging past the swamp, she saw several ‘islands’ floating above the waters, with campfires in the middle and ringed by several crucified creatures, cut from the waist down and with elongated skulls.
She struggled to stop looking at the display in horror, but eventually climbed to the top of the stairs, where there was a stone archway lined with more of the crucifixes, and in the middle, in a sort of ‘shrine’ was a small, delicate flame. She widened her eyes and walked up to it, taking a moment to look at it. This was one of the flames Hawkwood told her about, the ones that, when extinguished, opened the gates of Farron Keep. She took her hand and proceeded to smother it.
The immediate area around her darkened, and she felt a brief but intense quake, like a tectonic plate just moved directly underneath her. Besides that she was alone, but something was wrong. Just as she began to move, her Darksign chilled again, and she heard rapid footsteps. She turned and saw, a Beowolf! It growled, and its eyes glowed as it charged at her, the sight of such a familiar creature caught her off guard and allowed the creature to knock her to the side.
She quickly got up and saw her sight had betrayed her. It wasn’t a Beowolf, but a still very much malformed beast, with a goat-like head covered in purple growths and sporting a beard, with goat’s legs standing upright, and with a jagged knife, clad in a yellow cloak and loincloth.
It then turned and hunched over, seemingly eyeing Pyrrha to see what’d she’d do. It then abruptly pounced and slashed at her. She blocked the attack, but gripped hard and pulled at her shield. It gripped, gnashed, and pulled, wildly trying to stab at her. The creature, after a violent pull, managed to cut a gash on her face, stinging and burning at the rest of her face. She screamed in pain, and the monster used this to grab at her face, but Pyrrha gritted the pain long enough to cut the beast’s hand off and stab it in the gut, causing it to let out a shrill and alien shriek.
Pyrrha panted in pain and nursed her wound before taking a drink from her Estus flask, which did nothing to alleviate the burning of her skin. She walked forward, still coughing from the air and having trouble making out her surroundings in the heat and darkness. As she walked, various flies and gnats moved to her face, clearly trying to eat her wound among others, persistent despite being repeatedly shooed away. Stumbling from trying to get away from them, Pyrrha stopped in her tracks.
Ahead of her, shadowed by a campfire burning behind it, was a taller form of creature, stark naked and standing crookedly while staring seemingly straight at her, its arms jankily poised to the sides, claws unsheathed.
It bent down and let shout another alien roar as it made a rush straight for her. Pyrrha tried to sidestep it, but it used its hand to grab Pyrrha by the mouth and throw her down into the water. Thrashing and panicking at not being able to breathe under the water, she blindly slashed at its leg, forcing it to let go. She quickly got up and slashed it in the stomach, but after a brief jolt of pain it grabbed her arm and used it as leverage to get its unnaturally long legs on to her shoulders, wrapping itself around her. As Pyrrha struggled, the beast got its claws and began scratching at her neck and back, sending Pyrrha into a state of pure agony. Desperate and in pain, Pyrrha tried striking the creature as it was on her, eventually stabbing it through the back and hearing its strange call yet again.
The weight of the lifeless creature combined with her pain caused her to lose balance and fall into the bog with the creature. After some wrangling, she got the beast’s corpse off of her and took a sip of Estus, just in time to see something else coming her way.
They looked like dogs, but as they grew closer, she found them to be the same creatures she just fought, hunched over and gaining on all fours. The “hounds” galloped and slid through the muck and swiped its paw at Pyrrha, who blocked and chopped its hand off before delivering a slash across its abdomen. The other one jumped up onto her back, but she took it and threw it off before it could latch on. Out from the trees and hills, more hounds came in and circled her.
Pyrrha struck a stance and prepared to fight them off, but the ground shook, and the hounds scampered away. The fire that was burning nearby immediately cooled off as though put out by an invisible fire extinguisher.
The thumping grew closer, and Pyrrha turned around in apprehension, her eyes widening as she saw a colossal creature coated in moss and vines, several curling horns sprouting from its canine like head, chest emaciated and prominently displaying its ribcage, and holding an entire dead tree as a staff, its furry legs partially hidden by the cloak of plant life.
Pyrrha tried to step back and ran right as the giant brought the base of the tree down onto the muck of the bog, sending it flying upwards into the sky and knocking Pyrrha into the water. She turned around and saw it running toward her, prepared to smash her with the trunk. She managed to roll away from the hit, the force still knocking on her side before she scampered up.
The beast slowed down and gave Pyrrha an opportunity to heal, but then it shuffled toward her and bowed its head.
“HRRRUUUU” she heard it gurgle, before it swiped its staff. It didn’t hit Pyrrha, nor was it meant to it seemed, but out from the roots came a cloud of glowing, burning pink and ethereal skulls that floated above before diving for Pyrrha as she recovered on the ground. Rather than dodge them immediately, Pyrrha looked to the giant creature and decided to roll past them and slash at the left leg of the creature, cutting and breaking the skin, and rolled to avoid the beast’s plunging attack with the base of the tree. She dodged and managed to remain on her feet, but the beast pushed the tree down before pulling it up violently, throwing Pyrrha up into the air and into the water again.
Pyrrha was panting and bleeding still, and covered in grime from the slime of the water. She was running out of energy, and the monsters weren't going to give her a chance to heal herself. She had only a few options and looked at the wound on its leg and the water it was in. She put her shield on her back and readied her sword as though she would block the tree in the creature’s hands with it. The water was thick, and she could not run well, but she trudged through anyway, lifting her legs high to get more distance with each step. The beast brought its weapon down, but Pyrrha only had to dodge once, for she was at the beast’s wound. She plunged her sword into the beast’s left leg right as it swatted her away. But as she got up she dug out her talisman and channeled her energy into it, summoning the lightning spear and raised her thumb to aim at the sword.
Tossing the spear, it split and cracked on contact, sending sparks up its body and down into the water, spreading around. The beast began to shake and seize before eventually coming down.
Pyrrha panted and breathed, down on her knees and chest deep in the slime that was supposed to be water. She tried getting up and fishing her Estus flask. But before she could bring it up, she had a violent cough of blood, and her throat was sore. She realized she couldn’t feel her body, it was in so much pain, including from the toxicity and disease of the swamp. Her hand tremored and she dropped the flask into the bog, still able to see its golden glow through the green film of the water. Her body shook, and her spine was burning, and she couldn’t keep her balance, falling into the water.
Her head was fully submerged, and she couldn’t move. She tried holding her breath and keeping her eyes shut to prevent the water from getting into her eyes, but the pressure of losing her breath got to her, and she opened both in panic. She couldn’t get feeling in time, and her entire body froze, so much she thought she’d freeze the water that was drowning her, her lumbar feeling like she had dry ice on it.
As her vision faded, all she could see was the glow of the Estus flask at the bottom of the water...and one of the black, shadowy creatures from her vision at Firelink floating slowly toward her.
She awoke by the bonfire at the lip of the swamp, slowly as though she awoke from sleep. She felt cold for a small while before the being warmed by the fire. She got up and looked around. The Estus flask and her sword were back in her possession, but as she looked closer around the swamp, she could make out a tall, horned creature pacing around the swamp.
Pyrrha returned to Firelink dejected and heavy hearted. The peace of the shrine was welcome to the dread of the swamp. But somehow she felt uneasy. There was almost no sound save for Andre’s smithing. Things were the same as they’d always been in the shrine, but something was wrong.
She shivered and paced, stumbling at one point. But then she turned around, somehow knowing the Fire Keeper was there behind her. The Fire Keeper recoiled back, as though she was startled by her of all things. Pyrrha stared for a beat at her before asking her something.
The Fire Keeper hesitated, another oddity. Finally, she told her the truth. “Your appearance…” she began. “You appear nearly Hollow.”
Pyrrha blinked. “What?” She didn’t feel any different from when she first came, aside from being stressed all the time. She didn’t understand what she meant.
“Your curse, somehow, seems to have advanced. You have Hollowed.”
“I-I what?” This time Pyrrha asked for the polished shield to see. She held it up to her face and slowly gasped. Her skin had become shriveled and atrophied, as well as her muscles, skin gray from dryness, her nose having disappeared. Her hair, while still present, full and red, was malnourished and the locks had become wispy. Her teeth had become yellowed and somewhat blackened, with a black tongue. Her wide green eyes were seemingly gone, replaced by black, vacant holes, at the center of which were red pinpricks of light.
She only held the shield up for two seconds before immediately dropping it and covering her face, where she began sobbing, finally dropping to her knees and weeping, the first time she really did so since awakening in the cemetery.
“Why?” she shook. “Why...is this happening to me?”
The Fire Keeper paused, somewhat stunned by her reaction. “It seems you are progressively losing-”
“No!” she screamed, “No why is all of this happening to me!? Why am I here!? What have I done to deserve this!? I just want to go home...” she cried out. She tried to say something else, but it was muffled by her hands as she continued to sob and let her emotions spill out.
All the while Firelink remained quiet, including from Andre, walked with Greirat to see the commotion. There was nothing to do for their friend but be there. The moment all undead feared fell on the stranger from a better world.
Author’s Notes (A/N): It’s finally happened, Pyrrha is seeing the curse and it’s looking her in the eye. A friend dying hasn’t done her much favors either, and she still has a swamp in the way of the Legion.
Hope you guys enjoyed this chapter, I’m starting to get used to having a schedule again so that might be why this chapter’s a bit shorter than others (especially Season 1’s “finale”). As always, message me if you have questions about any part of the story you didn’t understand, I’ll see you every other Friday at 12:00 PM PST.
This next chapter I'm writing is just a pain to write. To be perfectly honest, nothing much happens in Farron Keep, and there's not much to see. The enemies from this zone practically disappear too. I'll try my best to work on it and add some nuance though.
It is. The Hollow is a non-canon "what if?" Sidestory, though elements introduced in it MIGHT show up in the main fic. It's a story where Pyrrha finds herself back in Remnant after rotting in Lothric so long, just in time to be swept up in V5.
Pyrrha shivered uncontrollably while still tossing, turning, and twitching in her sleep. Her eyelids were pressing hard against her face, and from them, hot tears poured down her cheeks and her teeth were barred from the stress.
“AHH!” Pyrrha screamed as she sat up, breathing heavily as she always did. But before she could settle down and collect herself, she panicked and scrambled for a reflective surface. She spotted the shield the Handmaiden left behind and held it up to her face.
Pyrrha sat still, holding up the polished shield for hours. She saw her own, faintly glowing red eye floating in the middle of the darkness that was her eye socket, surrounded by dry, dessicated flesh.
The sight of this sank her heart though she continued to stare at the reflection, despite herself. It wasn’t a dream or a nightmare, just the reality of her situation.
The inescapable truth was in front of her. She was dead.
Or rather that she was hollowing, this looming shadow that grips everyone in this already frightening and oppressive world. And yet, somehow, so selfishly she felt, she always thought it wouldn’t happen to her. She thought she was safe, that all she needed to worry about was getting back home to her family and friends, hopefully before they were gone.
‘Before I’m gone,’ a thought went through her mind. She looked around the shrine. Hawkwood wasn’t at his post this morning, completely absent. For whatever reason, Hawkwood’s absence only served to make Firelink seem even more empty. She saw the Fire Keeper sitting on the steps, her head down and hands in her lap. Pyrrha closed her eyes. “How long do I have?”
The Fire Keeper did not move. “I do not know. It is different for everyone.” Pyrrha lowered her head below her arms, skin covered by her new armor.
“I have to go out there...don’t I?” She said. The swamp, the darkness, the toxic water that burned her skin and poisoned her. She didn’t want to go back...but if what everyone said was true, about how and why people die and then turn, then she had no choice. She had to find a way…
If she didn’t, she’d be worse than dead.
“Irina?” she called out, her voice bouncing off the alcove. She heard the shifting of cloth at the end of the hall.
“Pyrrha? Oh, it’s good to hear your voice.” Hearing this, Pyrrha couldn’t help but smile as she went over to Irina’s side. “You...you feel so cold, and you’re shaking. Pyrrha is something the matter?” Pyrrha’s smile immediately faded at the reminder of her...condition.
“I...it’s…” She forced a smile, despite Irina not being able to tell, “it’s nothing really. D-did you ever give the Fire Keeper that soul we found on the tower?”
Irina’s face sank and she closed her blind eyes. “I did, but...there was nothing she could do. The soul inside was so damaged, so...weathered. At least she took it into herself, but...I don’t think anymore could be done with it. It was so lost.”
Pyrrha closed her eyes. “Irina, I’m-”
“I’m so sorry we had to go through all that for nothing, I was so sure that…” Irina trailed off and began shaking. Pyrrha couldn’t finish her own apology. No matter her own grievances and feelings, she had to put them aside for those who looked up to her and needed her help. And that still applied to this world, of all places. As sorry as she was, Irina was more sorry, if that could be believed.
She reassured Irina and gently rose to return to the bonfire, to begin her journey again. She walked out of the hall that lead to the alcove when a voice called out to her.
She turned around and saw the goblin-like helmet of Eygon, Irina’s former bodyguard, leaning against the arch overlooking Irina’s alcove.
“What are you doing here?” Pyrrha asked.
“Relax, I’m just checking up on her. Have to keep on eye on her you know. At some point she’ll wander off where she doesn’t belong. Bloody annoying, keeping her around.” The words stung and burned in Pyrrha’s mind, and she narrowed her eyes on Eygon, who was casually relaxing on the arch. “No, much better that you’re taking care of the girl rather than I.”
“I agree! At least I care about her.”
Eygon’s head snapped to zero in on Pyrrha’s face. She heard a faint, metallic growl from his helmet before it faded. “So, is that what you are now? Is this recent? Anything to do with that ugly face of yours?” the two marched closer to each other, both unwilling to back down. “I’ve listened to those talks you’ve been having with her. You stupid bitch. You think you’re so skilled and righteous. Tell me, how will you feel when you lose your mind and hurt all those pretty, magical friends I keep hearing about?” Pyrrha shook, but didn’t give Eygon the satisfaction of knowing how she felt. “Answer me you mewling q-”
“Eygon?” Eygon’s head snapped behind him to the alcove with a slight growl. “Eygon is that you?” He breathed ferally and harshly, but his shoulders sank slightly and his breathing slowed.
He slowly turned his head to Pyrrha and looked her in the eyes, raising a finger to her face. “Safe, like I asked.”
He walked over to the arch and dropped down, emitting a light gasp from Irina. Pyrrha ran to the arch and looked down. Eygon slowly walked up to a startled Irina and knelt down. He gently took one of her small hands and covered it in his large, steel gauntlets. Irina took her second hand and placed it on his wrists, breathing a sigh of relief as she smiled.
She faded back into the swamp. The air already began to choke her lungs, but she knew the real difficulty came from the water. The second she stepped inside and waded, it began to burn her skin again. She trudged and sloshed her way through the bog, ankles pushing away wet sand and root infested mud. She went the same way as before, but kept low and out of sight, wanting to avoid those...things that killed her before.
The flame she extinguished was still gone, darkness surrounding the alcove it where it used to be. She hid in the cluster of crosses that littered the shrine. In the fog of the mire, she saw the tall silhouette of the monster she fought. No, she saw several of them, all huddled around a small island, with a corpse in the middle.
Against her better judgement, she went closer to look. She remained hidden, using the crosses as a lioness would use tall grass. The towering beasts raised their tree branches, summoning a cloud of the red skulls they had summoned last time. Despite the fear that they had seen her, she remained where she was, staring intently at their ritual.
The shamen slammed the staves on the ground, and the skulls swirled and danced above the body before rushing down into the body. The body and the island was coated pure black, like the light above that one specific area was completely blacked out.
The darkness pulsed and shook all so subtly. Pyrrha tried to look closer, seeing if there was any detail to make out of the lightless void. The only detail she could see was the black hole that used to be land….and several small, red dots. When it subsided the hollow’s body was untouched, completely unchanged, and that’s what worried Pyrrha.
One of the tall creatures slowly brought its finger to poke at the chest of the hollow, which had a Darksign nestled in a festering tumor. As the finger approached, the red ring burned brighter, until it blackened when it made contact. The black ring oozed and dripped down, before striking and writhing around its body. More and more tendrils spilled out, eventually enclosing itself around the body, forming in the shape of a large, black snake.
Pyrrha jumped back in shock, slipping and disturbing the rocks on the ledge. They crumbled and rolled down the side, taking Pyrrha with her into the bog. She lifted her head out of the water, eyes and scalp stinging. Through her blurred sight however, she saw a tall and dark figure approaching her, its right hand with a longsword of some kind, and his left glowing bright red. Pyrrha tried shaking off her haze and stumbled back into the cliff face. The figure came into focus, a knight wearing what appeared to be a skeleton fused to its plate armor, an unidentifiable black hair-like ‘hood’ flowing over his head, almost hiding the stare that came from the skull shaped helmet.
It moved slowly toward her, and Pyrrha felt no compulsion but to press herself against the wall harder, apprehensive of what this thing was thinking or planning to do, and shivering she suffered almost drowned out the itch and burning of the water’s poison.
The figure raised his glowing left hand to her, causing Pyrrha to reach for her sword. It shined brilliantly, and Pyrrha’s hairs, what was left of them, tingled and stood up, her Darksign burning her back, eliciting a hiss of pain from Pyrrha’s face. The figure, however, stopped and bowed its head as it stepped back. It took out a small black and white crystal, barely as big as its finger and caressed it. Within seconds, this black knight was gone.
Pyrrha sweated and shook, the tension of encountering that...knight, whatever it was. There was so much wrong in this swamp, in this world. But of all the creatures she met, the knight seemed the most….inhuman. It was like staring at absolutely nothing, the darkness of a goliath sized Grimm consolidated in a...in a human shape. It was so...wrong to her, somehow, so unnatural to the way things worked, what people were supposed to be.
She knew that humans could be evil, such a person had killed her. She didn’t understand how evil could be human. She shook her head and tried to breathe deep, despite the gaseous toxins wafting through the swamp, taking a sip of Estus when the burning water began affecting her. The thoughts worried her, but amongst all the pain she currently felt, she tried to find a silver lining, a positive.
‘At least such things weren’t on Remnant.’
The thought didn’t comfort her however. The reality was that she had no idea if that was true…
The world cracked again while she was walking. Pyrrha was headed to the other fortification where she thought one of those fires would be when an earthquake nearly sent her into the bog and with such force that she nearly broke her ankle, which was submerged in the...mud.
She heard squawks and screeches coming from the hill she was approaching and tried to quietly walk up the stairs to sneak by them. Walking up the stairs, she saw a light ahead of her. The same small delicate flame, huddled in the crucible, almost hiding from sight. She approached it, seeing how much smaller it was and how little it moved. She briefly rested her hand above the vessel before lowering her hand. This time, the world did not shake as it did before. But the entire swamp went completely dark, shrouded in more of the yellow fog as the sun seemingly dimmed, like a light bulb near the end of its life.
But behind her, there was chattering and growling. Pyrrha froze where she was as her blood chilled. Light came from behind her, and she turned to see six of the shadowy creatures she fought before holding torches.
Pyrrha and the creatures remained still, staring at each other. The creatures growled and hissed, but didn’t move. The tallest one, which wore a long, scrappy robe, subtly twitched the horns on his head as it glowered at Pyrrha. A faint, ‘splish’ sound came from behind her. She swiveled around and threw a lightning spear almost automatically, hitting a naked creature that was sneaking up on her square in the chest.
The ploy having failed, the creatures that stared at her before suddenly rushed toward her, screaming their shrill scream. A spear wielding creature thrusted, Pyrrha blocked. It bashed its wooden shield, Pyrrha pivoted left. The creature tried to pull its shield arm back, Pyrrha quickly swung her sword to force it away from its body. She followed quickly with a stab, driving it in more with a second thrust.
Another with only a loincloth and a jagged knife ran at her. Looking up from the creature dying on her sword, she removed it from its stomach and twirled from it, beheading the charging creature in an ellipse of blood.
The robed creature stood where it was as its pack member fell headless and bloody on the ground. When Pyrrha rose up from her stance, it raised its staff and from its end grew a cloud of darkness. Pyrrha began to raise her shield, but the cloud darted toward her like an arrow, striking her in the stomach.
The impact hit her like a rail train grinding against her abdomen, and through her agony, she felt a numbing chill throughout her body.
Her vision went black. She couldn’t see, she couldn’t feel. For a few seconds, time was lost. Existence clicked back with no fanfare of any kind. In front of her, the robed creature’s head and left arm slid off its body. The head of the staff, held in its right arm, dropped off the stick.
As the corpse fell to the ground, Pyrrha remained still, her vacant eye holes fixed on what ‘she’ had just done. She wasn’t in control when this happened. So what was?
She walked through numb and staggered. She moved forward increasingly quickly, trying to get away from where she was trying to get away from the fight she had just finished. She was looking over her shoulder when she tripped on something, landing face first onto muddy brick.
She nursed her throbbing face and broken nose long enough to not immediately see what was in front of her, the body of a dead mushroom-like creature with an alabaster, fiber-like skin. When she did see it, she didn’t move a muscle.
It was a curious thing, the mushroom creature, it was small and unassuming, and yet it was so viciously slashed and torn, blood soaking the brick floor. Pyrrha couldn’t help but have her heart sink. Worse was still to come, as had become typical, for in front of her were dozens of such bodies, manymuch larger than the first body she saw. Some of the smaller mushroom bodies leaned against the bigger ones, limply embracing them.
Her mind was doused in electricity as the pieces were added together inside. Families, parents and their children. She looked down, her skin and face burning, and not from the poison in the swamp’s water. In the entrances to the building she was in were several of those dark creatures, ribcages and skulls crushed and caved in, explaining the blood on the mushroom ‘parents’ hands.
“Oh, they got them too huh? Bloody shame. Of all creatures in this gods-forsaken place, I actually hoped the Ghru wouldn’t get them.”
Pyrrha slowly turned around to see Hawkwood, wielding his round shield covered in cloth and a bastard sword.
Hawkwood, upon seeing Pyrrha took a step back. “By the Lords...your face…” Pyrrha looked down crestfallen at the remark, but Hawkwood’s face softened. “I...see. I really am sorry about that.”
“I...what are you doing here?”
“I got homesick. So where are you going?”
He was referring to Pyrrha beginning to leave the scene of this brutal massacre and out into the swamp once again. “I’m going to find the last of those fires. To open the door?”
“Oh that. Don’t worry about it, I got one of them already, the door should be open.”
The shaking of the swamp she felt earlier, that must have been what it was. “You already got the flame…”
“What did you want me to do? Wait?”
The Farron stronghold, at least the parts not buried by fluidic mud, was a crumbling fort, but the perimeter was left surprisingly intact, excusing the decay and dilapidation present in all of Lothric. The gates that kept so many creatures out was ajar, the impenetrable marble opened after snuffing out the flames. Hawkwood made a point of wiping the most recent layer of dust and grime off of a relief on the door.
They stared at the main entrance, shrouded in fog and guarded by a multitude of these ‘Ghru’ creatures that were elsewhere in the swamp. They wielded spears and knives, and had several guard dogs.
“What are they doing here? How did they get in here, the keep was sealed off...” Hawkwood mused.
“Should they not be?”
“It’s like they’re protecting them, but the Abyss Watchers were made to keep a check on the Abyss and the creatures that came from it. They’d watch them, if you will. None of those would help them...unless...”
He didn’t continue, forcing a glance from Pyrrha. “Hawkwood. What is it?”
Hawkwood was still holding his chin like it was a sword hilt, his eyes closed. He finally turned to Pyrrha, “-Unless they’re so weak that the only thing they have to worry about isyou getting to them.”
“Come on.” He waved at her to follow him, quietly sneaking around the guards through a path behind various columns and shrubbery. “Oh they’ll most likely kill us, but here we have to get passed them, and once that’s settled we have to fight all of them by ourselves.”
“All at once?”
“Yeah, they’re big on honor, which for them means fighting against impossible odds...and actually winning. Convenient, isn’t it?” They remained quiet as they got closer to the Ghru standing guard. They tried to get as close to the fog as possible without being discovered, and Hawkwood gently reached for the-
“Oh hell with it all…” Hawkwood muttered. The two quickly turned around, but the dog was growling at something away from the keep, and the two guards immediately outside the entrance turned around after hearing them, and raised their shields.
The two readied their weapons, but at that moment, a howl cried out elsewhere in the swamp, causing them all to look around. At the entrance to the perimeter came two of the black, shadowy knights, wielding the red hands and dark steel swords. A Ghru was thrown limp into the path as the two walked forward toward the Ghru guards now facing all their attention toward them. They walked in no particular hurry.
“By the Gods...They actually exist…” Hawkwood muttered.
“Hawkwood, what are they? Tell me!”
A Ghru fell from the ridge above them in front of the guards, followed by two of the beings falling from the same ridge to join the others. Pyrrha’s Darksign became a piercing cold and her thinned hairs stood up on her head. A few feet ahead of them, a red puddle of energy swirled, and out from it came another one of them rising up, briefly colored red before changing to his natural color.
“Darkwraiths, attacking whoever they could find and taking their souls and humanity. They always were in league with the Abyss, but they haven’t been around in...ever, really. I just thought they weren’t around anymore. You know, ‘till now...”
The Ghru guards charged, but the Darkwraiths cut them down, splitting their shields and their heads, barely breaking stride. Pyrrha and Hawkwood dared not move, merely gripping their weapons harder.
The Darkwraiths continued to march forward, but stopped, mere feet away from them, and bowed their heads. They remained still, but behind them, Pyrrha saw a red glow, and her Darksign began to act up again.
They then parted like manor door would, revealing the figure that appeared behind them.
“Y-Yuria? What is this, what are you doing here?”
Hawkwood’s face turned with a sneer, “isn’t it obvious? That Londor shrew is with them, maybe always had been.”
Yuria didn’t flinch and stepped forward, the Darkwraiths closing ranks behind her. “If that is true, would that be so bad?”
Pyrrha stepped in between them. “Yuria...what, are you doing here?”
“Isn’t it obvious, my lady? I am here to help you.”
Hawkwood grunted, “Help you, heh, shows up with more Darkwraiths in one spot at any one time and she says ‘I’m here to help you.’”
“Regardless of your clear bias toward me,” Yuria interrupted, “I am offering warriors, as well as myself, to bring these lords back to their throne. This task is important to my lady, the Champion of Ash, you would not deny this would you?”
“Explain this Yuria” Pyrrha said, matter of factly wondering what Yuria’s reasons were.
“I am here with some brothers from Londor, who are willing to see the fire be linked, and to do this, the lords must be returned to their thrones. They are ready to die many a time to fulfill this.”
It didn’t answer her question precisely, but the important thing was she seemed to be sincere regardless. And regardless of intent, there was one simple fact that stood out to her.
“Hawkwood, we can’t fight these Abyss Watchers alone.”
Hawkwood looked to the Darkwraiths, then to the Ghru corpses on the ground. He shifted his sword and spoke. “Hmph, fine. It’ll add some...poetic justice anyhow.”
Yuria lightly bowed, “I am honored to serve the Champion.”
“Go jump off a cliff…” Hawkwood muttered before turning around. Yuria almost certainly heard that, but it was impossible to tell how she reacted.
The eight of them waded through the fog. It was a long, flat room, with practically no furnishings of any kind besides reliefs on the walls and ceiling. Filling in for the decorations were torches lining the walls and dozens upon dozens of corpses, all wearing conical, hat-like helmets and leather armor with steel gauntlets and capes.
Up ahead near the end of the room were three figures, the Abyss Watchers, gathered back to back brandishing their greatswords. Surrounding them were three more of them, except their eyes glowed a bright red, and they were shrouded in darkness. The six Abyss Watchers were fighting amongst themselves. The dark ones charged forward, only to be chopped, stabbed, and beheaded respectively, all three of them landing on the floor.
The three Watchers spotted Pyrrha’s entourage walk in and stood up to face them. They bowed their heads and raised their greatswords in one hand, pointing them at her while their offhands, wielding daggers, went across their chests in salute. Hawkwood casually spit something out as they stopped. The Abyss Watchers and the group readied to fight.
The middle Abyss Watcher charged forward blindingly quick, Pyrrha being barely able to tell it had begun to move, the group dodging out of the way. One Darkwraith was not so lucky and was impaled by its sword before being thrown to the side.
The other two were taking the opportunity to go around them in opposite directions, both twirling in a circle with their blades. Hawkwood kept one at bay while several Darkwraiths kept the other.
The middle Watcher turned its attention to Pyrrha, who was currently still recovering from her dodge earlier. It paced up to her before giving a quick slash, which she blocked but still was sent sliding across the room. Pyrrha looked up from her shield to find her opponent crouching down. He then jumped and flipped in the air above her, slamming its sword down on her and knocking her over. Pyrrha saw him walk over to her currently vulnerable body, ready to quickly deal the mortal blow, but at that moment a blade erupted behind his back. After a cry of pain, the Watcher quickly twirled around, sending a head flying next to Pyrrha, wearing a skull helmet. She got up and took a sip of her Estus before the Watcher pulled the sword from its back.
Hawkwood was fighting one of the Abyss Watchers one on one, both blocking and striking to a stand still. He’d shield bash, the Watcher would pull back. The Watcher would attack, Hawkwood would attack at the same time, the two clashing swords before letting them slide off.
The fights brought them to the middle of the arena the Abyss Watchers’ hall had become. Suddenly, at the entrance and the end of the room, three Abyss Watchers each, with glowing red eyes, materialized, effectively surrounding them. The light Abyss Watchers knew this and turned their heads while still concentrating on their entanglement with Pyrrha and her party.
The Dark Watchers charged, forcing the Watchers to detach from their fight and block them. The Dark Watchers attacked Pyrrha and the others as well. One Dark Watcher pounced on a Darkwraith and proceeded to rip it apart in a savage attack with its dagger. The Dark Watcher couldn’t enjoy its kill for long before a Watcher brought its sword on its neck, beheading it instantly.
Yuria, who had been lying low for most of the fight, had brandished her uchigatana and stared down a Dark Watcher that had begun walking toward her. She raised her sword sideways (te ura gasume pose) next to her head. The Dark Watcher began to spin in a flurry. Yuria brought her sword down to stop its momentum before bringing her left hand onto its head, pulling a copious amount of white and black energy from its body. The Dark Watcher then fell down, its eyes drained of the glowing red, while Yuria’s hand shimmered of silver.
Hawkwood kept battling against the Watcher. They clashed and came within breathing distance of each other. Hawkwood had dropped his shield after a particularly strong blow and the two were staring each other in the eye, the Watcher’s grey hair and ashen skin being perfectly visible. After a minute of clashing, Hawkwood reeled his head back and knocked his forehead against the Watcher’s nose, breaking the clash. Hawkwood pressed the advantage, reeling for a horizontal slash.
The Watcher, however, recovered much quicker from the headbutt quicker than he thought and began to bring a downward slash on Hawkwood. Hawkwood quickly turned his sword and went in for a stab instead. The Watcher’s sword imbedded itself in Hawkwood’s shoulder while Hawkwood’s sword plunged into his chest. The Watcher looked into Hawkwood’s pained face, a look Hawkwood didn’t like in the slightest. Pride...in him. Hawkwood pulled out the sword and lifted the sword off his shoulder, nursing it before collapsing against the wall.
The third Watcher was busy fighting one of the Dark Watchers when the two remaining Darkwraiths came up behind it, stabbing it in the leg and back. The Dark Watcher was killed, but the Watcher could only slash at the Darkwraiths before going down himself. The Watcher still mustered a final stab, killing the second Darkwraith.
The Watcher fighting Pyrrha threw her against the wall before plunging his sword to impale her. Pyrrha dodged at the last second however and the sword went through the stone wall instead. The Abyss Watcher then took his dagger and scraped a part of the wall, sending all manner of dust particles into Pyrrha’s eyes. She blindly kept her shield up, managing to block his heavier attack before rubbing her eyes to regain her vision. Through the pained fog, she saw him somersault up into the air once again. This time however, she dashed toward him and raised her sword, letting it fall onto it. The impact crushed Pyrrha, but the body soon went limp.
With great effort she lifted the body off of her and saw all the Abyss Watchers were dead, including the dark ones that had risen to attack them. She had won.
“Congratulations, Champion of Ash” panted Yuria, who had begun to walk up to her. “Truly a miraculous victory.”
“Yes” said Pyrrha, also panting from the extreme effort it took to manage them, “oh, what a fight. I am grat-”
“Hang on now,” whispered Hawkwood, in pain and writhing against the wall, covering his chopping wound, “something is happening.”
He was right. At that moment, blood began to rise out of the bodies of the Abyss Watchers, all of them. Pyrrha felt a pressure in her foot and moved when she realised she was standing on a Watcher’s body, sending a stream of blood to join the others. It swirled and twisted above one body, and it all spiraled into one stream, flowing down into the corpse.
Instantly it came alive, more than that it grew to about 8ft in height, towering over even the imposing final Darkwraith. Its body and sword erupted into furious flame and ember, its skin cracked and became a million small rivers of lava. Without any hesitation, it raised its sword and lowered it in readiness.
Pyrrha and the Lord of Cinder charged at each other. As they approached, Pyrrha slid under it, slashing at its ankles to send it flying down into the ground. As she got up to follow through, the Lord spun around, encircling the middle of the room in fire. The last remaining Darkwraith was caught in this inferno and was turned to ash immediately. Hawkwood and Yuria were trapped behind the wall as the Lord and Pyrrha were forced to fight.
The Lord Watcher walked up to Pyrrha who kept ready. It punched at her shield, forcing it aside, but Pyrrha deflected its sword slash, though she was burnt by the heat coming off it. It spun around, sending a wave of fire toward her, forcing her jump above it, where it grabbed her neck and threw her down. It then made and upward slash from the ground, sending a fire disk zooming to her location. She managed to roll away from it, but the Lord jumped and was about to crash its sword into her. She got up and tumbled away from it.
When it crashed into the ground Pyrrha wasted no time in attacking, getting off a few slashes before being knocked back by its knife. It brought in an over head and underhanded combo against her, creating an ‘X’ shaped plume of flame where it did, but Pyrrha responded by jumping back and attacking once more.
She steeled her gaze at what it was about to do. The Watcher brought in a horizontal slash, but Pyrrha bent forward and pushed her shield toward it, deflecting the sword outright and opened it up for a punishing stab. She had it, she slashed and poked at the Abyss Watcher as it was forced to go on the offensive. She remained as unpredictable as possible. She slashed its legs, lightly jabbed its chest, slashed its arms, before chopping its ribs. It only had one shot. It spun around in a ball of flame, but Pyrrha stopped its attack before rolling off its body, burning as she did, and stabbing it in the back.
Despite the pain, Pyrrha knew she was triumphant as the Abyss Watcher crumpled to the floor.
She panted and ached, but it was soon remedied by a surge of energy that healed her wounds, and a bonfire appeared at the head of the room, surrounded by the bodies of the Abyss Watchers.
Yuria was nowhere to be found, but Hawkwood got up and limped toward Pyrrha, the energy she felt clearly not having healed him. “So...this is it then huh? I pity the poor sods” he glumly said as he looked at the bodies, including those of the corrupted. “This is lordship’s final reward?”
Pyrrha felt a twinge of guilt at Hawkwood’s words, at what they had done, what Hawkwood had helped them do. She lowered her head, but at that moment a marble altar at the end of the room beyond the bonfire shifted and made sounds.
“Go on. I’ll… catch up with you I suppose. Or not, either way.”
Pyrrha blinked, but nodded, leaving Hawkwood in peace. Hawkwood walked to the bonfire where he could see all the bodies clearly. He violently sighed through his nose before he raised his sword to them and crossed his left arm over his chest.
Pyrrha made her way toward the altar. As she did, the altar gave way and slid into the back wall, leaving an opening below where it used to be, with steps leading down.
Although Lothric always smelled of the dead and of corpses, the gas that emanated from this hidden passage was...ancient.
Author’s Notes: Alright, it’s done, it’s finally here. The first chapter with a Lord(s) of Cinder. Probably not my best work I’ll admit, but I managed to get out more than what I thought. Something that kind of bugs me is that the enemies from Farron Keep don’t really appear elsewhere, and thus very little really happens in the area besides “ooh look, isn’t this like Artorias of the Abyss? Does this speak to you Dark Souls fans?” I mean I guess, but still…
Up next is the Catacombs, and I actually have been looking forward to that since I was planning on doing some much needed character building there.
As always I’ll see you guys at 12PM PST on Friday (bi-weekly). Give me a message/review for any questions, and see if it’s too spoilery to answer (reviews done by guest accounts cannot be replied to, so don’t ask questions if you do those).
“Damn” Sirris breathed onto her hand, covered in her own blood, which began to freeze. Across the bridge was her opponent, clad in mail, face obscured by a helmet, and wielding a large axe. On his chest, his tabard had the design of a deer’s skull with antlers. He slowly walked toward her, dragging his axe along the stones in the bridge, a sickening grind that sent sparks where it went.
Sirris got up, blood smearing her face from a cut on her eye, and readied her estoc, trying to keep a strong stance as the man approached.
“Now now, lass. What’s the matter? Finally bitten off more than you can stomach?” the man said, head tilted down and eyes tilted up.
Sirris didn’t speak and steeled her gaze into the man’s pale eyes.
“Thought it’d be simple, eh? But now I get to give out a taste of your own medicine, wench.”
“I’m only after one man, I have no quarrel with you, Finger!”
“But you do now, lass.” He raised his axe to his hands. “And I’m not leaving empty handed, just because you’re a weak-kneed toad.”
The man charged, prompting Sirris to do the same. Sirris tried to stab her estoc into the man’s head, but the man pivoted slightly, grabbing the estoc with his hand and using her momentum to throw her on the ground.
As Sirris began to get up, the man delivered an uppercut to her, sending her flying back. Sirris’ front armor was split and a large gash appeared on her face, making it more bloodied than before. She curled and shook as electric shocks as blood stained the pile of snow beneath her, with her strength weakened from the blow. Before she could muster energy to get up, her head was forced down by the man’s boot and she felt painful electric sparks crackling on her neck, the axe he wielded brushing up against it.
“Hah. Hah hah hah!” the man began to laugh as he raised his axe. “Hah hah h-AWWW!!!” the man was flung from Sirris’ broken body and further along the bridge. “Grrr, what in- who the hell did that! I swear I’-” the man stopped, his pale eyes widening behind his mask as he saw his assailant.
Stepping over Sirris was a knight in full armor, wearing a crown on his helmet and wielding a large, green greatsword. The Knight lifted his head to face him. “Creighton the Wanderer.”
“T-that’s not- you can’t be...how are you still alive?” Creighton muttered.
“I would have asked you the same question, except I know what you owe your survival to. All to stave off hollowing?”
“Piss off, you can’t be any better! Even with all that innocence back then, the only reason you can survive is if you’re like me. You hear me? You’re no better!”
“Actually, I am Creighton.”
Creighton breathed a primal growl but quickly composed himself. “You sound like him! That damn prick with the ring! That….that...fuck, what was his name!?!”
“Honestly, I should have killed you both. In the end, you were a backstabbing knave too.”
“...You bastard!” Creighton charged, raising his axe and brought it down to The Knight.
The Knight, however, grabbed the shaft in his off hand holding the blade above his crowned helmet. “I didn’t think it possible Creighton.” He then turned his head, slowly, to stare into Creighton’s shivering eyes. “You have gotten weaker…”
The Knight threw off the axe and immediately used the free off hand to give a punch to Creighton’s abdomen. As he stumbled back, The Knight swung the brilliant green sword at him, shining bright as it slammed him backward.
Creighton got up, poured a cup of Estus upon his faceplate, and then resumed his attack. He hacked and slashed, but The Knight rolled and pivoted aside, causing him to miss each one. Creighton gave a downward chop, which glanced off his shoulder armor, sending shocks down The Knight’s body.
The Knight briefly flinched, but turned his head to Creighton. The Knight then threw his free hand to Creighton’s neck and before he could lift his axe to defend himself, Creighton was lifted and then thrown on to the ground. The Knight brought the green sword down on him, but he rolled to the side and scampered back in fear. Creighton began fishing something out of his back pocket as The Knight rushed toward him. Creighton found what he was looking for: a black crystal, and crushed it in his hand. Just as The Knight swept his sword across his previous position, Creighton had vanished.
The Knight stared at the empty space Creighton left behind and breathed a sigh. “I’m not much better…” A raspy, ghoul-like gasp came from behind him, and turning around he saw Sirris was crawling away from where she was nearly killed, trailing blood behind her, clearly in pain. He walked over to her, and while she flinched in fear, she relaxed when he handed her a glass bottle with red liquid. “Here, drink this, it should make you feel better.”
Sirris took the bottle and sloppily let the liquid touch her lips, giving her enough strength to sit up and nurse her wounds. “T-thank you...who was he? I recognize him as one of Rosaria’s...fingers, but you seemed to know of him.”
He turned to look at the snowy city behind him, beyond the bridge. “A person from my past, I’m afraid.”
“And just who are you?”
He moved to her and looked her in the eye. “I am a Bearer of the Curse. I am one of many, but the last of my kind.” The crown on his helmet caught her eye, but before she could ask more, he began moving. “I will make sure of that. It’s the least I can do.” The Bearer walked away. “Seek Misery, struggler.”
Before Sirris could get up, the Bearer was gone.
“It is done then? Another lord back to their proper place?” Ludleth said to Pyrrha, who was sitting from the ledge in front of his throne. Across the room, the throne of the Abyss Watchers stood, with several small skulls wearing their metal hats, and the air around it was distorting from invisible heat.
Pyrrha continued to sulk. It was odd to her that, despite not having a good night’s sleep in what felt like forever, she continued trying. But another nightmare left her restless and brought her to Ludleth.
“Fine kindling for the thrones, are they not Ms. Nikos, the Lord-Slayer?”
“Don’t call me that.” Pyrrha snapped, prompting Ludleth to send a curious look to her. Pyrrha immediately realized what she said and how she said it. “Ludleth...am...am I doing the right thing?” she began to shake. The words were harder and harder to get out, not without the dam in her eyes bursting.
Ludleth’s face softened and looked to the Abyss Watcher’s throne. “I apologize, Ms. Nikos, I suppose I got carried away. But, you mustn’t stray from this task, to bring the Lords of Cinder to their thrones, it is a just thing that must be done.”
“I feel terrible...Ludleth, I don’t know what this leads to, how this fits together, and I just killed them and brought their...souls, back to the thrones I’ve been told they are trying to escape. I am violently going against everything I ever held as right, and I don’t know where this goes.”
“I apologize for your turmoil, and understand that I do understand your peril, but if it puts you at ease, this task is in the name of our survival. Without it, civilization, the skeleton of which you have seen, will never return, and the chaos and despair gripping us.” Pyrrha sank on her ledge trying to make sense of it all. Ludleth could do little, not even so much as a hand on her shoulder. “I realize you do this in an attempt to return to where you are from?”
“Yes. I- I feel like it’s selfish, after everything I’ve seen. How despite seeing so much suffering and misery in your world, I just want to go back to my own, where I don’t have to worry about that anymore.”
“Nonsense. If you didn’t have such a drive, such a need, you probably wouldn’t have even gotten this far. It’s a humble goal, after becoming as skilled and powerful as you are, to only desire the simplicity of your home.”
“It’s always something I was comfortable with I guess…”
“I know you will do what you feel is necessary, I only ask you continue, for all our sakes.”
Pyrrha stood up, and heaved a sigh. She then turned around to face Ludleth. “Why do you continue in this. Every other lord abandoned their thrones. Why didn’t you?”
Ludleth froze and said nothing for a long while, but Pyrrha stood where she was, unmoving. “Because it is my duty….and because I am afraid of what will happen if we fail. I am sorry, but that is all I can tell you...”
Pyrrha walked to what used to Yoel’s alcove, but Yuria was not there. She looked around and stepped forward cautiously to look for her, albeit foolishly, since deep down she knew she wasn’t there.
“Are you looking for something Champion of Ash?”
Pyrrha sharply turned around, staring at Yuria where one would presume her eyes were. “Where were you?”
“Oh, forgive me milady, I was talking with Ms. Irina of Carim.”
“Nothing in particular. I was interested in finding a way for us both to help you. Now, was something on your mind?”
Pyrrha continued to stare at the elusive woman. “Those people you came with when we fought the Abyss Watchers. The Darkwraiths.”
“Milady, whatever you’ve heard I c-”
“I am not stupid Yuria!!! I can feel their darkness, and I can feel the empty space they should be, even without my Aura. And from what Hawkwood told me, they are even worse in behavior, I have heard they invade others and take their souls, is this true?”
“It isn’t as simple as that!”
“Did Yoel know about this!? Is…” she motioned to her dessessicated face “this all connected!?! Why are you with them!?”
“ENOUGH!!!” Yuria’s shout froze them and the air around them as it echoed throughout the shrine. “I...have been patient. I have done nothing but serve you faithfully and I shall continue to do so. And you may send me off if it soothes you, but you cannot judge me. You and I both know you are an outsider. You have lived in a land of comfort and answers… Our people know of no such things. You don’t know this place, how we live. How we die. How we live past our death.”
Pyrrha’s eyes fluttered and she backed off, sitting down in the alcove where Yoel was, where the sunlight shined through the roof. “I-I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” She covered her head in her hands, her mind hurting as it thought.
Yuria remained silent as well, but it was clear the heat she was burning under the mask was cooling off. Finally she approached Pyrrha. “You...are worried, about your condition?”
Pyrrha curled her body and nodded, staring through the stone in front of her.
“I don’t much understand it. In my homeland, we worship death and hollowing. There are those in Londor who would envy you.”
“So Yoel knew this would happen to me?”
“Hollowing was the side effect. Yoel told you he brought out your ‘inner strength’ I assume? That was his aim. He truly did have the best of intentions for you.”
Pyrrha buried her head in her arms.
Yuria saw this and leaned down to her. “If it really troubles you, I have something that can mask your appearance.”
Pyrrha raised her head, eyes faded and weary nonetheless wide in surprise. “H-how?”
Yuria pulled something from her sleeve, a simple, black ring. While it was unremarkable in design, it seemed to hum and “glow” with a faint, dark outline. “It won’t cure your hollowing, but you don’t need to be reminded of that.”
Pyrrha stood up and took the ring, looking at it intently. Yuria looked to her belongings that she had sitting against the stone wall, retrieving a polished shield with which to use as a mirror. Pyrrha hadn’t put on the ring yet, however. She stared at it for a long while, hand subtly shaking the longer she held it. She motioned to put it on her finger and, after brief hesitation and a deep breath, slid it on.
A puff of air seemed to blow over Pyrrha, and she looked at the shield. Her skin was restored, her hair healthy and strong, and her green eyes vibrant. She was herself again. More or less. But she wasn’t as jubilant as she thought, as she should have been, and she didn’t know why.
Yuria looked to Pyrrha as she collected her thoughts. “You look beautiful, Ms. Nikos.”
Pyrrha had returned to where she and the others had fought the Abyss Watchers, their bodies still strewn across the room, including the ones that they personally had killed.
Hawkwood was nowhere to be found, the only evidence of his existence being his round shield, which was left next to the bonfire. Pyrrha picked it up, taking the moment to reminisce about the pitiless, fatalistic man. She sadly rested the shield back on the floor.
She went to the staircase revealed when the altar moved and went down, covering herself in shadow as she went. She finally emerged from the dark tunnel, entering a stone room similar to the Abyss Watcher’s chamber above, but ahead there was a chasm lined with pillars, a stone bridge connecting her end to the one across the gap.
The floor she walked on was littered with several bones and skulls, and closer inspection showed the pillars were lined with tombstones. The air was sour, stale, and dusty. This place was a giant tomb, the likes of which Pyrrha couldn’t imagine. The swamp she came from before was teeming with hostile, rotted life. This place was completely lifeless.
She walked slowly to the bridge and began to cross, but she stopped. She heard a blowing of the wind. She looked around, but brushed it off as a draft. However, she heard a clicking and straining sound coming from behind her, and she rapidly turned around with her weapon and shield raised just as she was hit by a large sword, sending her flying back near the edge of the thin bridge.
The thing that attacked her was a large, cloaked, walking skeleton with glowing red eyes and a curved greatsword.
It stepped forward to her as she got up, glowering menacingly. The second she stood, it brought the sword down diagonally. Rather than block it and get knocked off the bridge, she rolled toward the strike. Not a second after her roll she swung at the skeleton, who rolled back...and vanished. Pyrrha looked at where it was in confusion. Behind her however, she heard a rush of air and she swirled around to face it.
Her sword clashed with the skeleton as it stared her down. Before the robed skeleton could disengage, Pyrrha delivered a quick kick to what would have been its abdomen but was instead the spinal cord. The robed skeleton stumbled backward, eventually losing its footing and plummeting down the chasm.
Pyrrha breathed heavily and safely walked across the bridge. Through the archway, there was a room with several of the stone lined pillars with scattered bones on the floor. She continued through the room, but she flinched when something began moving under her foot. In a shock she lifted it, revealing it to be a bone, which immediately slid behind her. Following it, she saw several other bones assembling a skeleton, headless and without a left arm nevertheless rising to face her with a large cleaver.
She raised her sword to fight and the headless skeleton began to circle around the pillars. Finally the skeleton attacked, with Pyrrha blocking. She attempted to slash in retaliation, but the skeleton, with impressive dexterity, turned its sword while it was on her shield to block it.
The skeleton shoved her away before pulling the sword closer to it, circling her once again. Pyrrha brought out a slash when she saw an opportunity, but the skeleton bashed her arm away and proceeded to impale her through her armor.
While not as damaging as the riposte she suffered at the Undead Settlement, it still brought an intense pain as copious blood poured out of her and her breath spilled from her mouth. The skeleton pushed her off its sword and onto her back, where she saw other bones moving away from her and sliding elsewhere. She rapidly got up, automatically and numb from the pain, quickly drinking Estus to heal her wounds. However, behind her, another skeleton that had formed grabbed her sword arm and threw her behind it, sending her careening off the ledge. However, it was a short fall, softened by the pile of jagged bones below, into another room in the catacombs.
The skeletons began to file down the stairs as Pyrrha emerged from the pile of bones, some clinging to their skin. As they drew closer, Pyrrha calmed down and focused, extending her sword arm behind her. As they began to charge again, she made a sweep with her sword, severing all their spines at once, knocking the bones from their frames and scattering on the stone floor.
Breathing a sigh of relief she healed a bit more of her wounds but stopped when she saw one of the skeletons reforming. She readied herself, but as the skeleton fastened its head and stepped forward, it was instantly decapitated by an invisible force. Pyrrha got off the pile of bones and stepped forward cautiously, trying to see what killed the skeleton.
Suddenly, three knives struck Pyrrha in the side, and looking in that direction, she saw another one of the robed skeletons. She only saw it for a split second before it faded into dust like the other had. Pyrrha kept hearing for its movement and slashed at the empty air, not so empty as the robed skeleton revealed itself in order to dodge away. As it hopped away it threw another set of knives at Pyrrha, who blocked them this time, before disappearing.
The robed skeleton manifested in front of Pyrrha before immediately disappearing as she swung. It reappeared behind her, slashing at her back, and causing her to drop her shield. She turned around to face it, but still got hit with another attack. She deflected two or so attacks, but was being overwhelmed by the relentless flurry of attacks. A final slash on Pyrrha caused her body to spill much blood from all the attacks she suffered, and she collapsed.
The robed skeleton raised its sword for a killing blow, but right as it came down Pyrrha stabbed her sword into the skeleton’s blade to knock it away before turning her sword to plunge it into the middle of the skeleton’s ribcage, cracking it and shattering when she turned it. The skeleton fell back, with its red eyes falling dark, before disappearing once again.
Pyrrha looked around in a panic, unsure if it was dead or not and if there were more around. Her physical status was less than perfect, feeling ever weaker from the amount of blood she lost and the wound she suffered. She head a crunching of bone and clinking of metal behind her and she swirled around and thrust her sword.
The person, Anri of Astora, grunted in pain as the sword sunk into his midsection. Pyrrha’s eyes opened wide and she felt a stinging pain in her cheeks and eyes with a numbing in her head.
Anri, however, only reacted by grabbing the blade. “It will take a lot more than that to kill me, Pyrrha Nikos.” He then pulled the broadsword from his abdomen, shuddering from the pain as Pyrrha remained still.
“Anri I-I’m so sorry…” Pyrrha shook, tears faintly forming in their ducts.
Anri waved her off though, “it’s alright, Pyrrha, you couldn’t have known.” He then reached into his pocket and took out an Estus flask, raising his helmet just enough to put it to his lips, and Pyrrha couldn’t see his face. “Ah, that reminds me, have you seen Horace anywhere? At all?”
Pyrrha snapped out of her shock. “I-I haven’t...is something wrong?”
“He has become...he’s run off. I’ve not been able to find him since.”
“And you think he’s here?”
Anri began rubbing his neck with his gloved hand, “I...am certain of it… Can you help me find him?”
Pyrrha smiled “yes, of course.”
The two walked through the catacombs, passing the bones on the floor and walls. “Your appearance has changed.” Pyrrha’s eyes widened and her skin felt clammy, but Anri quickly diffused this. “Your armor is different, and you have cut your hair.”
“Oh...I’m glad you noticed I suppose.” Pyrrha scratched the back of her head in nervousness, taking the time to also feel her cut hair.
“Pyrrha...you are not from this world, are you?”
Pyrrha couldn’t help but laugh, somewhat darkly. “Is it that obvious?” she joked as she stepped over some bones.
“Oh yes,” Anri chuckled along with her. “I just wanted to know, what is it like there?”
Pyrrha hesitated, trying to collect her thoughts and feelings. For in truth, no one had asked her about her own world, until now. “It...it’s a rather diverse place. Our people used to be plagued and besieged by dark creatures known as the Creatures of Grimm, that were focused on preying on us.”
“Nothing too out of the ordinary I suppose.” Anri quipped. “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt you.”
Pyrrha lightly laughed. “But even still, despite the Grimm, we pushed them back and made four kingdoms. There was a period of almost complete peace and prosperity.”
“We had so many advanced inventions. Lightning to power our homes and devices, advanced medicine…”
“I had only heard of one kingdom that could accomplish such after the darkness came. I believe it was called...Drang, I believe. I don’t know.”
They went through an archway, that lead to a staircase down to another section, all above the chasm.
A biting cold gripped Pyrrha and her face became crestfallen. “And then…”
The two stopped when they saw something in the middle: the same robed skeleton Pyrrha had fought on the bridge directly above them.
The skeleton got up and began shambling over, but looked up in shock. The two turned around and discovered what it saw: a giant ball, made up of several skeletons held together.
“Run!” Anri cried. On cue, the ball of skeletons fell over the entrance where they entered and began to roll down. They quickly bolted for the exit, shoving aside the skeleton warrior Pyrrha had fought, who had been knocked down once again but the ball.
They continued running down the steps as the ball began gaining on them. They approached the end of the path, but Pyrrha pulled Anri to the left, causing the ball to crash, stiff and solid, against the wall. It then, under its own power, rolled back and up where it came.
The two got up and swept the dust off themselves. They continued walking somewhat shaken from the run.
“I am loathe to admit it, but that was quite exhilarating.” Anri said.
“It is...but I still find it so frightening still.”
Anri grew solemn and looked at Pyrrha. “People...remain dead in your world,” he stated, with Pyrrha nodding her head. “It wasn’t always like this. People lived, people died. kingdoms were built, like yours I suppose. But then people died...and they rose again with the Darksign. They couldn’t die, and they went mad, they turned on everyone. Demons rose from the darkness. The light...the fire, faded. It’s one thing to face creatures of darkness, it’s another to face your own as you do, knowing they will be the ones to kill you in the very end.”
Pyrrha covered her mouth and closed her eyes. “Anri...do you ever feel...like you are a side-character in someone else’s story?”
“All the time actually. It’s rather frightening, really.”
“I never truly gave it thought, until I came here.”
“I suppose it matters not, for me at least. I have my goal, however small, that I want to see through. Once it’s done...I’ll think of something...What about you?”
Pyrrha kept walking with Anri in silence. She thought of what he had said, about how their world worked, all the things that happened to ruin it. She thought of the kingdoms that fell around them. She thought of the one she died in. “Anri-”
Pyrrha’s eyes widened as she looked at what she stepped on: a stone pressure plate. Up ahead, three fire bolts came speeding over to them. Anri threw Pyrrha and himself to the ground as they whooshed overhead, along with another set of three.
The noise attracted attention though. Behind them, bones began forming into intact skeletons. The two moved ahead quickly but stopped when they saw two skeletons along with one of the shadowy skeleton warriors.
One skeleton with a peaked hat threw a ceramic plate at them, which Anri split in half with his sword. On impact with the blade, however, it exploded in a shadowy mist and swirl, and Anri was blasted back into a railing, stunned for a short time.
The shadow skeleton dashed forward with the large curved sword. Pyrrha deflected the blow with her sword and blocked an attack made by one of the other skeletons. Anri recovered and gave a slash at one of the skeletons, splitting it in half. Pyrrha held the shadow skeleton at bay with her shield, but the skeleton slid the sword and butt her in the head with the pommel, knocking her back.
When she stumbled backward, the stones fell beneath her and she fell.
“Pyrrha!” she heard Anri cry out before continuing his fight with the multitude of skeletons. Pyrrha got up, ankle deep in water, apparently having fallen in a sewer or water duct. She tried calling to Anri, but she looked around her and saw she was surrounded by giant, sore covered rats.
They charged at her, but with a few quick slashes, even the largest fell. But behind her, she heard a clattering sound.
She turned around and saw a skeleton, standing upright and encased in a spoked wheel. The skeleton pointed at her before jumping and rolling the wheel toward her. Pyrrha raised her shield, but when the skeleton made impact, it grinded and turned against it, and eventually her endurance gave out.
Her shield was smashed aside and she fell into the water, her skin being grinded against the spikes on the wheel. She quickly got up and attempted to fish her Estus flask out of her pocket, but the bonewheel skeleton had already turned and began spiralling toward her, knocking her aside.
Pyrrha looked up, seeing the bonewheel skeleton turn toward her once more. Pyrrha gave a fierce glare toward it. It began rolling toward her, but Pyrrha rose and grasped the wheel, using its momentum to throw it at the opposite end of the wall. The bonewheel skeleton slammed into the wall, shattering it and the wheel it was attached to.
The battle above had grown silent, but before she could call Anri’s name, she saw another of the robed skeletons across the room. She quickly began running and she passed an archway out of the sewer.
Stumbling out of the sewer, she was in a cold, dark cavern, lined in stalactites/mites. She walked slowly, looking around for any way out. Ahead of her was a long, rickety bridge leading across a large chasm, seemingly held together by string, ready to collapse at any time.
“Horace? Horace!? Pyrrha!?”
‘Anri,’ she thought, relieved to know he was alive. “Anri! I’m here. I’m-” she stopped however. Behind her, away from the foot of the bridge, was an enormous field of bones and skulls. One femur bone began to vibrate and then move. Soon the entire field began to move all forming a massive army of skeletons. Pyrrha began backing away.
“Pyrrha!” she heard behind her. Anri was on a ledge overlooking them, and threw a firebomb between her and the skeletons, breaking apart some that tried to charge. “Quick, across the bridge!”
The two began running as fast as they could across the bridge. The skeletons began following them, causing the bridge to shake with sheer numbers. Anri fell behind, deciding to hold them off, knocking a few off in the process.
Pyrrha reached the end of the bridge, but Anri was still dealing with the horde of skeletons. “Cut the bridge!” he heard him scream. Pyrrha hesitated, and looked as Anri kept fighting. Anri looked behind him yelled again, “CUT THE BRIDGE!!!” A skeleton approached from behind and grabbed onto him. At that point Pyrrha cut a rope on the bridge.
She was preparing to cut another, but the bridge was so weak and unstable, and so burdened by the weight, it began to give out before collapsing completely. A large deluge of skeletons poured down off the bridge, and Anri rushed to reach the end, but the bridge completely fell before that, sending him falling.
“Anri? ANRI!” Pyrrha cried out. She looked down the bridge, but she couldn’t see Anri anywhere. Pyrrha feared the worst and fell onto her back. Hot, painful tears began pouring from her eyes. She put her hands to her eyes and mouth and tried to stifle her sobs. Her body began to shimmer and spark, but she couldn’t notice.
She moved on. She grimly marched forward from the bridge and pushed aside the large double doors in front of her. Ahead of her was a large room with a stone staircase at the end leading to a throne, with a marble altar in the middle. On the altar was a chalice made of a human skull.
She slowly walked toward it, before feeling incredible nausea, which only compelled her to come closer. She reached out with her hand, and the second an atom grazed against it, the room shook.
“Enter the realm of our Lord, Wolnir...” a voice said.
Suddenly a cloud of dark smoke emitted from the cup, more than what was capable of fitting within it. The room began to be covered by the smoke, and soon the room was made pitch black.
Everything was different in the void. She felt neither cold nor warm, and the air was extremely stale, as though the air was frozen in place. She began walking, though she couldn’t see where she was. The surface felt like rock and declined downward, but it was almost invisible, covered by the void.
Ahead, shining in the darkness, was a faint light. Pyrrha tilted her head and approached it. As she grew closer, her Darksign began freezing, and she felt uneasy. When she finally made it to the light, the surrounding area began shining brighter. When she looked up, she gasped. Above her was a giant skeleton, with a golden, gem-encrusted crown and two gold bands on its wrists. And it was staring right at her.
The skeleton, who could only be assumed to be this “Wolnir,” raised its hand, preparing to swat at Pyrrha. She rolled back just as it flattened the speck of light. She took out her sword and shield and faced down Wolnir.
Wolnir swiped across the surface where they stood on, pushing Pyrrha away. She began hacking at Wolnir’s fingers, but the bone was strong and barely made any scratch.
Wolnir bashed Pyrrha back. As she looked up, she saw the skeleton lord’s golden wrist rings, scrawled with bright runes. The wrist rings…
Pyrrha got up and made a beeline to one of the rings. Wolnir noticed and tried to smash her with its hand. Pyrrha rolled forward and delivered a slash to the ring, sending gold sparks all across. She kept striking and slashing, gradually chipping against it until finally it broke, exploding into gold dust, while Wolnir flinched back, grasping its forearm.
Enraged, Wolnir picked up Pyrrha and threw her back. After she was done rolling across the dark floor, Wolnir put its palm to its head, a glowing swirl of light generating. It slammed its hand to the ground, and from that spot, several skeletons arose.
She couldn’t afford to be distracted, not this long, not anymore. She took a sip of Estus before running again to the bracelet. The skeletons tried to stop her, but she clashed swords with one, slipping away in the process while rolling past another. She made another chop against the bracelet, causing a large chip. However, one skeleton grabbed her from behind and restrained her. She took its arms and threw it over to Wolnir’s chest cavity, where it dissolved into bone meal. This shocked Pyrrha, but she didn’t let up on the bracelet. However, a skeleton came from behind her and swung its sword at her. She quickly dodged, causing the skeleton to hit the bracelet instead, breaking it and killing the skeleton.
Wolnir once again recoiled, but this time directed its gaze toward Pyrrha. It then took its hands and started pulling itself toward her. As it went, the skeletons it summoned were disintegrated when it got close. Pyrrha tried running away, but the incline she was on ended with a dead end, blocked by a wall of fog. Wolnir got close and knocked her on her back.
Wolnir put up its hands, and from them formed an object. In its hands was now a gigantic, runed greatsword proportional to its size, and it started shining within it. At the same time, the darkness of the void circled around it in a contradiction of terms.
It was prepared to strike down with it, and Pyrrha stared shocked at it while lying on her back. It began bringing the sword down but Pyrrha, out of pure instinct, put her hands in front of her. Wolnir’s sword stopped ahead of her and began shaking.
Pyrrha heard the groan of metal and her mind raced. She was thinking of Penny Polendina, straining and in pain from the wires being wrapped around her, shortly before they split her piece by piece. She thought of pushing Jaune against the wall in a fit of stress. She remembered using her shield as a projectile shortly before Cinder shot her. But the odd thought out was Anri, falling to his certain death without being able to do anything.
“Arrggh!!!” Pyrrha cried out. Wolnir sword began warping and twisting before finally it snapped, turning into gold dust like the bracelets. Wolnir grasped the ground underneath it in fatigue. Soon, a strange wind began blowing toward them, and Wolnir gripped the ground harder trying to keep from being sucked back.
Pyrrha herself was having trouble holding on, but then Wolnir grabbed on to Pyrrha’s leg, and began being pulled into the darkness. Pyrrha gasped, but out from the fog wall someone grasped her hand. She looked up and was relieved. Anri of Astora was alive, and had grabbed her hand and plunged his sword into the ground anchoring them into the surface.
Wolnir’s mass was taxing on them, and Anri began to grown in pain. “Just hang on!” She heard a bone crack and Anri cried out in agony. Pyrrha held on regardless, her leg in enormous pain.
Finally, Wolnir could hold on no more, and the hand fell away. Wolnir fell into the darkness, never to be seen again. Anri and Pyrrha began panting and breathing heavily as the shadow fell away from the room.
The skull chalice was no more, and a bonfire appeared. Pyrrha got up and saw Anri, and a wave of happiness surged over her. “Anri…”
Anri got up with a groan. “Pyrrha.” His armpit was leaking blood.
“I...I thought you were dead.”
“So did I, until I awoke on a ledge and saw the bridge there like a ladder.”
Pyrrha got up and looked at the throne, which had been destroyed from unknown causes, revealing a tunnel. “All that's left is out I suppose.” She breathed.
She began to walk out, but stopped part way through. She turned around and saw Anri hanging his head despondently.
“I… can't leave now. Not without Horace.”
Pyrrha was crestfallen at this reminder. “That's right. He's still out there somewhere.”
“He's a dear friend and companion. I'd have been lost for so long. I can't just leave him.” The two paused for a long while. “What were you going to tell me?”
“You we're going to say something, before we got separated. What was it?”
Pyrrha’s mind raced before she solemnly remembered what she was about to say.
“When I was about to die the first time, before I appeared in Lothric, I regretted that I would die and never see my friends and family again. That my existence would end. But here, I live in a world where death is meaningless and so common. It's torture.” Pyrrha’s hand unconsciously started rubbing the ring Yuria gave her, the one hiding her hollow appearance. “And now...all I want is to stay dead, and just let this nightmare end.”
Anri was silent for a long time. Finally he step forward to Pyrrha. “I remember the first time I died. Facing down my foe was to be expected. Even inevitable. But death became my friend, and my battles were fought harder. I remember the first time I died, but dying got easier; it’s how you die that leaves your mark. Prepare to die…” he then put his hand on her shoulder and she looked up at him with teary eyes, “but remember to go beyond death.” Pyrrha smiled at him, and Anri took her hand and put the doll they got at the Cathedral of the Deep into her palm. “For whatever reason, our fates are intertwined. I will see you again, Pyrrha Nikos.”
Pyrrha took the doll. “I’ll make it a promise I guess,” she smiled.
“May The Flames guide your way.”
The two parted ways. One to find a friend. One to find an answer.
Author’s Notes: First of all, a thousand pardons for this being late, and I mean a thousand and I mean late. This took awhile to make, a lot of hours were lost. Most of it was from playing Galactic Civilizations II (and now III), but there were lost nevertheless.
However, I hope I made up for it by making this the second longest chapter in the fic (beaten out only by the Deacons of the Deep, which was the season finale of sorts). If you’re still reading, thank you for being patient with me.
I will admit, looking back, the Catacombs weren’t that long, but I made a point to make this a character episode and the Catacombs (well, the parts that were in this) served that well. Also decided to add a bit of the Bearer of the Curse in there while I was at it.
Although I was late, I hope to see you again at 12 PM PST on Friday. Stay Tuned though, just in case Be sure to review or PM me if you have any questions.
“Horace!!!” Anri screamed. “Damn, why won’t you answer? Horace!”
Anri had been wandering these caverns under the Catacombs for hours now, since discovering the entrance underneath the bridge.
When he had found it, his first thought was to go through, and see where Horace had gone. He was sure he came through here, and he could see footprints, scuffle marks, and the like. He would have surely gone in, to see if he was alright. But then he felt the chill, the piercing cold. He knew there was something dark in those Catacombs near him. He couldn’t let his friend, the foreigner Pyrrha Nikos, face it alone.
He had to make sure she was safe, but no matter how much he wanted to help, no matter how much he wanted to hear more of her tales of that peaceful place she called Remnant, Horace was still out there.
So he continued, calling Horace’s name through the cavern under the bridge, now a ladder. He called in the chambers, where there lay the corpse of a demon, surrounded by several disheveled bones and skulls. Anri continued throughout until he found himself here, in a smouldering lake. He continued to call his beloved friends name.
At this rate, he should have attracted the unwanted attention of no doubt hordes of enemies by now. Come to think of it, Horace couldn’t really answer back even if he wanted, not in anything coherent anyway.
‘Horace. How could you run, when we are so close?’
The heat didn’t get to him, though it kept rising the farther he got. The earth was searing his boots and warming his greaves. He could feel the chainmail he was wearing beginning to chafe his skin through the cloth. Cool water condensed on the breathing holes on his helmet, only to evaporate in the heat.
But he soon found that it wasn’t from lava of any kind like he’d expect from being so deep. He found the pillars that kept the ceiling up were coated in ember and the air distorted around them, and the structure he thought was sandstone was in fact the bodies of demons, stacked and climbing to the ceiling. The pillars radiated not the calm inviting heat of a bonfire, but a searing, relentless fire, a kind unnatural for a living being to feel.
‘This place,’ Anri thought as he looked around. ‘If this place is what I think it is, I am definitely close, I must be!’ He couldn’t remember the name, no matter how hard he focused, but it was a place of hubris and folly, where a city was consumed by the fires of chaos.
Anri ran through the humid cavern, drenched in either condensation or his own sweat. He looked around quickly for any sign of Horace’s passing through. He was scanning the cave when he saw something in the distance.
On the exact other side of the cave was a figure, clad in armor, which glowed a burned gold in the heat of the cavern, and wore a helmet with no features aside from two eye holes. Horace.
“Horace! Horace I’m here!” Horace didn’t listen, and he saw him shamble into a cave, with a lumbering gait.
“Where are you going?” Anri said to Horace in a whisper he himself could barely hear. He ran toward him, but he stopped himself. He felt a cold chill where the Darksign was, a great danger was near. But Anri could see nothing. His gaze darted around the cavern, looking for the threat. He could hear rumbling and shaking, the pits of water quivering from the noise.
Anri turned, and stared stunned at the large thing he saw in the dirt. Wormsign.
He rolled away from where he was, just as it erupted in a shower of dirt and scalding water. Pouring from the ground like a stream of water was the long carapace of the Carthus Sandworm. It spilled out and coiled into a pile, with its head being held up.
The Worm let out a shrill cry. Anri tried to step back, but the Sandworm plunged down to where he was, knocking Anri back.
He looked around, trying to find where the Worm had gone. He felt the vibration in the ground, but not where specifically it was going. Suddenly, the pool of steaming water next to him ceased bubbling and, noticing this, he raised his shield just as the worm erupted from the pool. Anri was knocked back from the impact, but he was able to control his fall and landed on both feet and readying his sword. He rushed forward and slashed at the Worm, putting a modest cut in the carapace of the Worm. It was a fair bet that any other sword would have not made much of an impact on it, but Anri’s sword was blessed by the gods of Astora, wherever they may be now.
The Sandworm shrieked in pain and tried to dive again at Anri, but he stepped out of the way as it burrowed. It emerged elsewhere and Anri ran straight toward it. The Worm looked his way before unraveling itself to strike Anri with its tail. He was sent flying back and hit against one of the pillars, which also assaulted his back with heat and fire before being knocked back to the ground. He quickly got up and charged at the worm.
He dodged more strikes from its tail and when he reached the main trunk of the Worm, he stabbed his sword into it before twisting it and slashing across its carapace, cracking it as he went. The Worm didn’t make any sound. Instead, it crackled and flared with energy. Anri pulled the sword out from the electric shock, but when he looked at the worm again, he saw a ball of lightning forming in its mouth. Anri began running away, and as he did, the Worm’s head snapped to his position and fired a long stream of lighting, chasing after him. Anri ducked behind one of the pillars, which the lightning discharge blew in half.
The cut he made, while certainly powerful, was but a small scratch when compared to the rest of the worm.
‘This is useless, there must be a better way to kill it’ he thought. He looked around, and on the ridge behind the Sandworm, near the cave Horace entered, was a ballista. This worm needed to die if he and Horace were to leave this cavern, and achieve their destiny. He started sprinting toward it, the Sandworm tunneling under the ground, erupting near where he was going. Anri ignored it and kept running, making it to the ramp. As he moved closer, he realized just how big the ballista really was, and saw the body of a giant crumpled on the ground, mutilated and with a halberd sticking out of his body. “Oh Horace...”
The Sandworm roared from below. Anri looked at the ballista. It was far too large to actually use himself. The Worm began charging for another round of electricity. Quickly, Anri climbed on top of the ballista, drawing his sword and bending his knees. The Worm released its lightning attack, utterly shattering the ballista, but as the debris flew, Anri leaped from the ballista and descended on the Worm as it continued firing its lightning, plunging his sword into the top of its head.
The Sandworm immediately recoiled in pain, sliding around the area, kicking up a torrent of ash and dirt. Anri held on to the sword as well as the Worm’s carapace. He stabbed and stabbed against the Worm’s cranium, continuously cracking against its shell. The Worm finally flung Anri off, but he made one final plunging attack against the creature, this time where the cuts he made before were. With a downward strike, he plunged the sword deep in its trunk, and the Worm began writhing again, this time knocking Anri back.
He was in great pain, but he could see the damage he did was done. The Carthus Sandworm twisted and roared before finally glowing bright and vanishing, the sparkles of light flowing away in the hot breeze of the cavern.
Anri panted in exhaustion and brought his Estus flask to his lips. Still tired, he went back up the ramp to the cave Horace wandered into. When he entered, however, he didn’t see anything but the rock walls and a small pile of rocks at the end. He walked in puzzled, until he realized the cold in his Darksign never went away.
He was suddenly tackled to the ground by an assailant: Horace. ‘He’s gotten worse.’ He struggled against him, but Horace kept him pinned to the ground. Anri finally managed to kick him off and stood up.
“Horace! Snap out of it!” Horace didn’t listen, and without missing a beat he lunged back at him, grappling with Anri until his sheer strength overpowered him and sent him back to the ground. Horace bashed his head against Anri’s before gasping his neck with both hands.
“Horace...please…not when we’re so close. Hang on...” Anri gasped. Horace growled and breathed in feral rage and fury, his eyes glowing red through his helmet. Anri’s hands shook and his vision faltered, but only from the weight of what he had to do. He took his hands off the hands crushing his throat and drew his sword.
Horace stumbled back, with Anri’s straight sword impaled through his chest. It was painful to be sure, a holy object coming into contact with an unholy being such as an Undead. But Horace was slow, almost tranquil, before finally collapsing to his knees and crawling away from Anri.
“You...had kept me safe for so long, were it not for you, we would both be nothing more than food, forgotten just as easily when eaten” Anri said, as Horace breathed in muted pain. “You deserved better than this.” Horace slowed down, shivering where he was. “There’s a place, Horace,” he began saying, “a place where things like this don’t happen. Where kingdoms rise and keep their people safe, where the horrors of the world are kept at bay, where the dead….are remembered. I know it exists, she told me so, Horace. I hoped...I hope, we can see it one day, when all of this was done...”
Horace didn’t move. The red glow from his eyes was gone.
It took all the strength in the world to move closer and pull the sword out from his chest. “Goodbye, my kind friend. I only wish I could have done more.”
Pyrrha walked through the passageway that was made when Wolnir’s throne vanished. She mostly wandered aimlessly, trying to find the end of the tunnel, and she knew it lead somewhere.
Just then, she noticed a small sliver of light, far up ahead of her. Was that the end? She began jogging toward it, and she could feel a slight chill, but only from the cold wind blowing her way. When she reached the light, she saw where it was coming from: a hole shining silver light, at the top of a wet, rocky, twenty-foot ledge.
Pyrrha blinked and then sighed in dejection, fog billowing from her mouth as she did.
She sunk her blade into the rock-face, pulling herself up while using her free right hand to grab the next rock. The wall wasn’t simply wet, it was cold and almost frozen over, her hands were burning from the intense cold, and she occasionally had to shake them to keep them from being numb.
“Just once,” she grumbled, “I’d like to go to a place, and have it be a pleasant journey. Not a swamp, but a nice forest or a garden.” She said, half-way up the wall, growing more strained in her movement and her tone of voice. “Or, an inviting village with sweet bread, instead of being full of murderous zealots!” Dust fell from the top of the cave, and Pyrrha almost slipped her hand, briefly dangling from the sword before regaining a handle on the wall. She sighed and closed her eyes briefly. “To be warm….and where I belong.” She didn’t say not dead or back home. She may have felt it or wanted it, but she herself didn’t make it clear, especially in her occupied thoughts. “Or someplace nice at least, mix things up a little…” she muttered to herself.
She continued climbing until she finally reached the top and scrambled up, panting and focusing on resting her muscles. She walked out, facing a sharp, cold wind blowing her in the face. Stumbling forward, she nearly stepped off the edge, but when she looked forward, her breath was taken away.
Just up ahead was a small city with several spires, turrets, parapets, and abodes, all overseen by a tall cathedral. The city was bathed in a silvery-blue glow, an ethereal aurora in the backdrop, shimmering in the light of a perfect crescent moon.
Pyrrha breathed an awed gasp and blinked, staring agape at the sight. “I...suppose this will do.” The cold, the physical one at least, then got to her and she started moving, shuffling down the ridge. She walked through the stone gatehouse that stood before the bridge. Completely empty of all but snow, the bridge extended outward to the still shimmering, boreal city. She stepped forward in complete awe.
A chattering, almost whisper-like rasp swirled behind her, however. She stopped dead in her tracks and spun around with sword and shield in hand. However, she quickly realized she had grossly underestimated the size of the threat manifesting behind her. The threat, a giant beast still partially manifesting itself, had the appearance of a colossal, monstrous rat, but with the poise of a wolf. Its fur was wild and mangy, its long snout had long and sharp teeth lining its jaws. It had 3 eyes on each side, all leaking a red glow, and its rib cage was exposed, and seemed more like a second mouth than anything to protect its organs.
The Beast became perfectly opaque and stared at Pyrrha, who was beginning to step back from the creature. Finally it roared, vibrating through the cold air and sending errant sparks from its mouth. Pyrrha froze in place from the impact of the fierce roar, but she soon began running. The Beast pursued her, its front legs bent like human arms. It growled and panted as it chased after Pyrrha, who’s heart was beating in fear. She grew closer and closer to the end of the bridge, but she just now noticed the source of the shimmering around the city: it was surrounded by a misty blue field.
Pyrrha saw this but couldn’t afford slowing down with The Beast closing the distance. The Beast grew tired of simply chasing her and pounced. Pyrrha desperately dove through the field, and began passing through with ease. The Beast’s maw opened and had Pyrrha’s legs in biting distance, but before it could shut its jaws closed, it collided with the barrier, crumpling against it from the force of the impact. Pyrrha landed face first in a snowbank and looked behind her. The Beast writhed in pain briefly before staring out at her from behind the field before finally vanishing into the air.
She breathed a sigh of relief at having evaded The Beast, looking out at the now empty bridge. Even in a place as beautiful as this, there were terrors waiting in every corner. Pyrrha stood up in the courtyard of the suddenly darkened city. Near a cold, water-less fountain adorned with engravings and statues, was a sword sticking out into a pile of ash.
“Irithyll? My, going up in the world are we now?” Greirat said, handing Pyrrha the ragged cloak she had asked for.
“So you know of the place?” She put the cloak over her armor and wrapped several pieces of cloth over her hands to create makeshift gloves.
“Of course. It’s an old, lost city. The Boreal Valley of Irithyll. Legend has it there’s a bunch of old, moon-worshiping nobles holed up in the city.”
“Well, it is beautiful moon.”
“Full of scum it is.” Pyrrha turned to Greirat in confusion. “It was said some nobles would take time out of their day to run the dungeons down below. Everyone has to have a hobby I suppose.”
“Be sure you know how to die, or you’ll be stuck in it for the rest of your miserable life, however long that lasts.”
Pyrrha looked down at her hands. She remembered Anri’s words, the ones that filled her with so much hope just a few hours ago, the ones that helped her keep going, and how she fared on the top of Beacon tower. She came to one conclusion. “You know, now that you mention it...I guess I really don’t know how to die.”
Greirat was silent, the conversation having staled like dried bread. Finally he had the courage to break the silence. “Legend also said the place was packed with treasure. I could go out for another run if you’d like. What do you say?”
“W-what? You just said-”
“Ah don’t worry, I have a few tricks up my sleeve. Besides, I’m not worried about the dungeons.”
“Being threatened with being moved there every day tends to desensitize you after a few years.”
Greirat gave a chuckle while Pyrrha followed his lead, albeit a bit more nervous.
Pyrrha knelt down and touched Irina’s hand, who recoiled slightly, but not with enough force to escape Pyrrha’s gentle grasp.
“Oh, p-Pyrrha, I didn’t realize it was you.”
“I’m sorry” she said, on reflex almost.
“It’s just, everything’s been so...cold recently.”
“Heh, might be me actually. My hands are probably going to freeze for awhile.”
“N-no, it...it’s a most peculiar chill, it nibbles at me, all from the darkness.” Pyrrha froze, her hand gently squeezing Irina’s. “It relieves me to feel you here. But I know you can’t always be here.”
Pyrrha paused, staring at Irina’s sullen face. “No, it seems I can’t.”
The two didn’t speak for fifteen minutes after Pyrrha sat down. Yuria continued staring at the wall, not moving. Pyrrha kept her eyes trained on Yuria even as she walked to sit down and hadn’t taken them off.
“...Are you in need of something Ms. Nikos?”
“What were you discussing with Irina again? I seem to have forgotten…”
“...I was simply discussing ways we could both help you.”
“Now I remember. She seems...ill, is all.”
“Would you know of anything that would cause that? Something in your possession?”
“Perhaps. People outside of Londor are so sensitive to change. All I did was leave her with some miracles to assist you. She refused to look at them.”
Pyrrha stared at her, not sure how to sort through her words, how much she could take at face value.
“You do not trust me, do you Ms. Nikos?”
“That someone who wears a mask, does not trust a mask wearer.”
Pyrrha looked at the hand that wore the ring, the ring that continued to fool everyone, most of all herself, that she was still...human. That she wasn’t dead and rotting.
“Which brings me to a question.” Pyrrha looked up at what Yuria had to say. “Knowest a man known as Knight Anri of Astora?”
Pyrrha blinked. “Yes? We met along the Road of Sacrifices.”
“Excellent. You are acquainted with him. He has progressed far in his journey and is reaching his destination, close to you.”
“...Indeed... “ Pyrrha said, leery of where Yuria was going with this.
“He will make an excellent groom when the time comes.”
“I-eh-w-what?” Pyrrha was completely thrown for a loop with this, her train of thought derailed so utterly as to be frazzled. “G-groom!?”
“Something the matter?”
“I...I don’t understand. I mean, Anri is a friend-he’s a friend, but I never really...I mean, I don’t know how old he’d be at this point…!” Pyrrha was awash with red embarrassment and looking all across the alcove.
“If you are to achieve your destiny as our savior, as our leader, you will need a consort. That is where the noble Anri will play his role.”
“I don’t know if I could...it’s just so...it’s something I never really imagined, ever, really.” Pyrrha’s face was flush and her breathing trembled slightly.
“There is no need to dwell on this, Ms. Nikos. After all, you still have work to do.”
“Yeah…” Pyrrha looked to Yuria again, but Yuria had left without a trace. She was alone with her thoughts. The whole idea seemed ridiculous and even manipulative to some extent. The only person she ever had feelings for, the person who treated her like a normal person, not someone they admired or put on a pedestal, was Jaune. The sweet boy who needed her help and who helped her when she needed it.
Anri was like that too.
She looked to the mouth of the alcove. “Strange. It doesn’t sound so weird.”
Rising from the comfortable warm bonfire, Pyrrha shuffled onward into the cold city. While it looked beauteous and elegant from afar, Irithyll was oppressive up close. The dark, icy stone absorbed the light around them. She walked up the sullen roads, caked in frost, past houses that had no life in them.
And nothing greeted her. This alone made her nervous. Suddenly a pair of spectral figures, a male and a female she thought, emerged walking toward her. She drew her sword, but they kept walking, and she couldn’t feel any intent of harm toward her. They walked and passed right through her, like they were just fog illuminated by a laser.
Up ahead was a large courtyard overlooking a chasm and leading to the rest of the city. In the middle was a large fountain surrounded by a garden and with trees on the sides. She walked slowly forward, leery once more at the emptiness of Irithyll.
Suddenly a figure emerged from behind the fountain. A decrepit, scraggly and dried corpse in rags holding a longsword. It took one look at Pyrrha before returning to its place behind the fountain. Suddenly she heard something.
Behind her and to the right of her was clatterings of metal. It came from several slender, ethereal looking figures in silver armor and draped in thin linen capes, each wearing gold crowns that held their masks. They carried long, curved swords and a few had shields.
Pyrrha tried to run to the staircase leading to the rest of the settlement, but an eruption of fire blocked her path. A tall figure in robes and a mask wielding a strange spiked staff lowered its weapon. She backpedaled to the center of the courtyard, surrounded on all sides.
Suddenly, a booming voice echoed throughout the valley.
“So. Who do I now speak to? Anri of Astora? Horace the Hushed? Or someone else? Tell me, who comes to my doorstep?”
Pyrrha stood up. “I do. I am Pyrrha Nikos of Mistral.”
“A newcomer. From parts unknown? Fascinating. You address the Pontiff. Do you know who I am?”
Pyrrha’s blood boiled furiously as she stared at where she imagined the sound coming from. “Yes.”
“They’ve told you of me haven’t they? Good. What has become of my precious children? I must know.”
“I don’t…” Pyrrha said, gritting her teeth.
“You sound so hostile. What brings you here, Knight Pyrrha of Mistral?”
“I have come to kill you, I suppose.”
“Such an undertaking. What compelled you to take such a drastic action?”
“I’ve seen the devastation your men have caused, all the people you’ve killed or hurt! I want to help them be rid of you, and end Aldrich’s tyranny.”
“...My my. And you were so honest before. It’s not polite to lie to your minister.”
“I...beg your pardon?”
“A stranger like you doesn’t appear in a place like Lothric to simply help its people. If you did, you would still be with Anri and Horace, wherever they are. You are not after me or Aldrich, not specifically him anyhow. You are searching for the Lords of Cinder. You are looking for a way to justify your existence in this world, or even escape it…In reality, you aren’t any better than a hollow, digging at scraps of cloth they recognize. Sorry to disappoint you.”
The knights began to march toward Pyrrha and she tried to get as many in her line of sight as possible. The tall fire witch marched forward too. She braced for their charge, but at that moment, a hiss of a sinking blade rang out, and one of the knights was thrown to the center. The circle unfolded to reveal Anri of Astora.
The knights all readied their weapons and charged at the two. The knights were fierce and unrelenting, and whenever Pyrrha tried to block their attacks, they just continued striking until she gave out. Pyrrha ducked beneath a sweeping attack but the knight followed through with a spectral scythe that blasted her back into the fountain.
Anri was busy holding off the knights on his side, but on seeing Pyrrha get knocked into the fountain, he retrieved from his pouch a firebomb, which he threw behind him. It landed in the middle of the knights Pyrrha was fighting, managing to knock them off balance. The one closest to Pyrrha landed at her feet, which she quickly capitalized on.
The masked witch raised her staff, conjuring a glowing, orange circle at Pyrrha’s feet. The sensation, and the previous encounter when she stopped her from leaving, reminded her of Cinder’s attacks during their fight on Beacon tower. Without even thinking, she rolled out of the way, just as a pillar of light consumed the ground beneath her.
The witch raised her staff again, but Pyrrha took aim and summoned a lightning spear, tossing it at the witch’s head. A direct hit, the witch staggered and shook, and a plume of fire erupted from the staff, hitting several of the knights she was fighting and engulfing them in flames.
Anri, however, was not as fortunate in his fights, being constantly overwhelmed by the knight’s barrages. Eventually, a knight hanging back from the fight raised its hand to its head, summoning a bubbling swirl of shadow before throwing it Anri, which hit him in the side as he was blocking another. He landed on his back and the knight he fought stood over him.
Anri didn’t resist.
At that moment, as it raised its sword to end him, a horizontal spurt of blood burst from the knight and when it fell, Pyrrha Nikos was standing behind it.
The knight that had struck Anri tried to launch an attack on Pyrrha, but she turned around and stopped it with her shield.
The witch raised her staff once more, but suddenly it shuddered and eventually collapsed after several spasms and spurts of blood. Pyrrha looked at this puzzled, still trying to hold off the knight’s bombardment. Near the witch’s corpse, she could see small pinpricks of light hovering and moving. Two of them locked in with Pyrrha’s eyes before they ‘scampered’ off.
Either way, their biggest obstacle was down. “Come on!” Anri rose to his feet and the two began running. The rest of the knights tried to chase after them as they escaped into the rest of the city.
The knights chased in the direction they went, some breaking off to look in any houses they might have entered. The search drove them to one of the churches, and they began scouring the area for any sign of them. Eventually, however, they broke off pursuit and walked back down, and started patrolling.
Unbeknownst to them, near the same steps they used to reach the church, Anri and Pyrrha hid until they had left their sight before entering the church themselves.
“Lost them” Anri said. They both looked around. The church was somewhat large and had several small pillars supporting the building, many chipped, with a bonfire in the middle of the room. It was made of the same cold stone as the rest of the city and had an altar at the end, with a high relief of a woman with scales on her forehead and a scythe.
“Who is that?” Pyrrha asked.
“I don’t know. Perhaps it was one of the gods, but I don’t recall this one exactly.”
“Did-” a silence erupted from her mouth. She just realized she was in a church with the person Yuria said she’d marry while staring at an altar.
“Something wrong Pyrrha?”
“I- just...nothing. I just remembered something stupid someone said to me…” she blushed, cheeks stinging in the cold air. She then remembered what she was going to say. “Anri, did you ever find Horace.”
Anri didn’t move a muscle. “No. I never managed to find Horace.”
“I’m sorry, I-”
“It’s alright Pyrrha, really. I had hoped to find him in time, to repay him for the lengths he went to save me but...I have to keep going, I have to find Aldrich and his lackeys.”
“For the children you knew….oh I’m sorry, I just….I remembered what you said back in the Cathedral.”
Anri turned to Pyrrha and sunk his head. “Yes. I suppose that involves Horace too now.” He was silent for a long while. “I still have a duty, I am still an unkindled Lordseeker. I will to do the duty alone if I have to. We all have our reasons don’t we?”
The words that came from the Pontiff rang in her ear, about her reasons for seeking the Lords. She wanted to go home, but she still had no idea why the Lords of Cinder were involved.
Before Pyrrha could finish her thoughts, Anri took Pyrrha’s hand and placed an object in her palm. “Please, take this as recompense for my foolish request, and to provide you with some protection.”
Pyrrha looked at the object in her hand. A ring. It was black, almost made of obsidian and with a gem that had a swirling yellow cloud interrupted by a white line through the middle, giving it the appearance of a creature’s eye.
Pyrrha blinked repeatedly at the bizarreness of her increasingly marital situation, but when she raised her head, she saw Anri facing the altar, not paying attention to her.
He sighed as he leaned against the altar. He seemed so exhausted, almost defeated. “Pyrrha, if I don’t succeed, if my journey was for nothing, would that be awful?”
“...What do you mean?”
“If it comes to pass that the task is too much for me, that I fall to Aldrich or to the Pontiff, what occurs then? Will it all matter to anyone but me? If I do defeat him, will this solve anything? Will my deaths mean anything?”
Pyrrha raised a hand to her mouth as she stared forlornly at him.
“You are indeed brave, to face your duty alone. I would do well to learn from you...do you wond-”
His words were cut off when her hand spun Anri around and she embraced him in a deep hug. Her arms wrapped around his back and she buried her face in the collar of the surcoat. Anri was stunned at first before stiffly maneuvering his arms to do the same for her. He began to shiver and she heard the breathing behind his helmet shake.
After a long while, they separated. “I...well...thank you.” Anri finally managed.
Pyrrha nodded while wiping away a wet streak from face, smiling all the while. “I have to attend some things, but I will help you. I will stay and help you fight them, fight all of them if I have to.”
“I will wait for you at the top of that cathedral. That is where the Pontiff is. And I don’t think either of us should face him alone.”
“I’ll see you there I guess.”
“May the flames guide your way, Pyrrha Nikos.”
She slowly parted from Anri and slowly made her way to the bonfire as Anri turned around. Her footsteps echoed throughout the church as she walked away. After a short while, footsteps made their way to Anri again.
“Did you need something el-”
A flash of light was the last thing he saw.
Author’s Notes: I’m back! Kinda. I didn’t want to leave you without a Christmas present after all, so I packed together this story of death, loss, trial, and misery just for you. Tis the season everyone!
But I will say, the next chapter, while it will no doubt be a bit shorter, is one I wanted to do for awhile now, and honestly this is the time to do it. It might come after Christmas, but maybe a little before New Years, we’ll see. But it will be awesome, and you’ll see why when it comes.
Happy Holidays and be sure to leave a review or PM me if you have any questions or comments!
Travelling to and from the various distances through the bonfires of Lothric was such a strange experience for Pyrrha, so taxing and yet refreshing in a way. The warmth of the bonfire left her head as clear as it could, even make her forget briefly the events that brought her here to the dead land.
At the same time, she had to focus her entire brain to travelling to where she needed to go. This was no hyperbole. Once ‘in transit’ she could think of nothing else even if she wanted to. She entered an ethereal state, unhinged by the physical or the mundane. It was a swirling of the bonfire’s energy in her mind and body, all tingling in a sensation that the transport didn’t allow her to observe, something always in her peripheral sense, never being capable of focusing on.
There were times when she tried to leave Lothric as well, using the same techniques necessary to travel between the bonfires. To focus on the sanctuaries of her past, the sweet homes and havens of Remnant. They always failed of course, and each time it made her feel guilty for wanting to abandon these people to their fate, to just return home. It wasn’t her way, or it didn’t use to be at least.
If the turmoil was agonizing, unbearable, or exhausting to witness, it’s because it was.
But this time, things were different. The weight she saw on Anri’s shoulders, the culmination of his life and afterlife to slay these phantoms that haunted him and Horace was there, in that city, waiting for him. It was goal in life to kill this Pontiff and Aldrich, a horrifying consumer of life, or hollow trying. It was his destiny.
Destiny. It was the least she could do for him. Were Aldrich a Lord of Cinder, or just another of these soul-sucking abominations, it wouldn’t have mattered. Though, she acknowledged she would never have asked any of her friends to join her in what became her certain death, it’d have been selfish to do so she felt. But as she died, as she slipped away from the world, she just wished someone could have been there to comfort her, to let her die in peace.
In a world where misery is so rampant, it seemed like that was the least people could do here. To stand with their friends and help them achieve their goals.
The thought of her goal made her turn toward the old Handmaiden in red, sitting in a rocking chair in the middle of the hall. She hadn’t spoken to her since her first arrival at the shrine. Ever since then, she had been left alone to think about her words, about her place in this world.
She never answered her questions.
But when she looked toward her, she saw the Handmaiden was speaking to the crowned knight she saw outside the shrine when she went to store away her armor, in his hand an old, downy feather. Just like before, she froze in place. The knight looked in her direction again and nodded to the Handmaiden before walking away.
Pyrrha chased after him, again once more, but he inexplicably vanished from the shrine. Pyrrha turned to the Handmaiden. “Who was that?”
“Of whom dost thee speak, youngin?” the Handmaiden said, a coy grin lining her jaw.
“The knight.” This wasn’t funny. The last thing Pyrrha needed was to start seeing things.
“Ah,” she breathed, “no one, child. No one at all. No matter how he wouldst believe.”
Pyrrha glared at the old woman, her milky white eyes piercing her. Still, she thought of the knight. This was the second time she saw him, and yet there was something...strange, ethereal about him. Something familiar. She hadn’t seen anything like him at all, and yet his presence was disruptive somehow, a strange thing she shouldn’t be seeing. Her instincts-
*CLANK* *CRASH*Were immediately derailed as she twisted around to see Patches huddled over Greirat’s sack of treasure and nick-knacks, recoiling from the noise.
“Blast, there must be-” Patches quieted down, slowly turning his head to see Pyrrha glaring daggers into him. After a tense thirty seconds of staring at each other, Patches slowly went back to looking through the pile, whereupon Pyrrha rushed to him and through him on the ground next to the sack. “Ay, mercy! What are you on about now!?”
“What do you think you’re doing!?”
“This isn’t what it looks like!”
“It looks like you’re pilfering my friend’s things.”
“Only part of it really! I’m looking for clues as to where he’s gone!” His face then straightened and leaned in to her face as much as he could with a sword still pointed at his throat. “So...where has he gone, if you don’t mind my asking?”
“Like I would tell you!”
“You have to tell me, his life could be in danger.”
“And I’m sure you would help a lot, thief.”
“Hmmph, fine. If that is your attitude, I won’t offer my wares to you either. You’ll have to make due without my help.”
“I can live with that.”
That didn’t go according to plan and Patches went wide eyed. “Wait wait! Fine, I’ll tell you. He did me a good turn in the Lothric Dungeon, and I don’t want that stinking little rodent to hang that over me forever. So I’m going to go save from the doubtlessly dangerous deathtrap you sent him in so I can get rid of that debt. Honest enough for you?”
Pyrrha stared at Patches with fury, but she was slowly thinking through what he was saying. “....Irithyll. I sent him to Irithyll.”
Patches grinned and waved his hands, prompting Pyrrha to let him go. But just as he began walking, he was stopped by Pyrrha grabbing his shoulder. “Oi, what now?”
“If neither of you come back, I will find you.”
Patches nodded and scampered off. But once he was away from her, he looked back to where he came from. “Hrmmph. ‘I will find you.’ Who does she think she’s dealing with?” he spat as he made his way to his pile. The items he needed, long since covered in various trinkets, reflected the light from outside back on to him. “Hello there. You miss me?”
“Come on, nothing personal, I just need your gem- AGGH!” The lizard bit Greirat’s hand, causing it to recoil back. Firmly hitting it on the head for that, he got his knife and stab it dead before using the knife to pry that comprised the bulk of its body, rewarding him with a chunk of twinkling titanite.
He threw it in with the rest of his haul, which was coming along rather poorly considering where he was. This chunk was the single most valuable thing he found, the ones before it being two small bottles of blessed water and an ivory candlestick, among other items. Could prove useful when Pyrrha looked at them.
Should she ever look at them. Throughout her time in Lothric, she hasn’t had much need for the items he brought back and going out into the world left her only a little time to talk with those at the shrine. Of course, the items weren’t the point, not really.
In the corner of his eye he saw a faint twinkle, and saw something resting on the base of a tree. Blinking once, Greirat gathered his bag and scuttled to the tree. He slowly inched toward the object and reach to pick it up, a blood red gem.
It was warm and rough in his hand, almost sticky but he couldn’t tell why. Some dry red flakes got onto his hand as they brushed against it.
He turned to put it in the bag, but that’s when he saw what was following him. Lining the length of the pathway was several floating, glowing white eyes topped off with swirling black smoke. The air shimmered and the eyes each found bodies, those of decrepit, shambling witches. One stared directly at him, eyes brighter than the rest, and shrieked.
The witches all began to run toward Greirat, who pocketed the gem and began running with the bag over his shoulder. He couldn’t possibly out-run the witches with the weight he carried, so he had to rely on using his dagger to push them aside at they charged and weaving in between them. One, however, caught his bag in its hand and pulled him back, sending him crashing to the ground.
Greirat took his end of the bag and pulled against it while the witch began pulling incrementally closer. The witches behind the one he was struggling with came close and the lead witch shrieked once more and two shining orbs emerged, floating around it.
He could hear the stretching of the bag as the witch pulled at it. Time had run out. Greirat pulled his knife out and threw it at the witch. The witch never let go of the bag, but with no muscle to pull, Greirat and the witch fell along with the bag into the water below.
Greirat coughed as he freed himself from the freezing, film covered scum that was the Irithyll river. There was no way to get back up and the only way through was to keep going down river.
Walking under the bridge to the city, he began to see several bodies floating in the river, thin and wasted, but not particularly decomposed. White, as though someone drained all the blood from their bodies, while their hair floated, mixing with the water.
He didn’t want to get close to them, but considering he was here, he thought he’d look around. He saw a tall, vibrantly healthy herb growing in the middle of the water. Greirat approached it slowly, not by choice as the water was as thick as it was cold.
“AUYIIIIAIII” A shrill cry sounded and one of the corpses came to life. But it had not the body of a normal person, but the many legs and underbelly of a centipede, almost nothing but legs and spines connected by flesh.
The centipede pounced at Greirat, but he managed to move around it, water erupting from where the centipede landed. It arched its back ninety degrees and slammed itself down on to the thief, plunging him into the water. He struggled against the centipede’s legs and mouth while being submerged in the water and heavy mud. The struggle came to an end, however, when the centipede stopped fighting. Greirat wasted no time and tried to push it off him, throwing it back as he got his head back above the water.
It took a second to adjust his eyes enough to see, but the centipede was dead, sending small streams of oily fluid from its midsection. Standing over the centipede and Greirat was a figure in plate armor, with a frog-mouth helm and wielding a spear with a tower shield.
The knight silently put his spear in his shield hand and offered Greirat a hand, helping him up. “Thanks friend. Thought I’d be done in there. I’m in your debt.”
“Then we’re even then, right?”
“That voice…” Greirat knew that voice.
The knight removed his helmet, revealing a man with a bald head, crooked nose, and the most audacious grin possible on a human being. “How’ve you been, ‘friend’?”
“Ah, some people just can’t resist.”
“What the hell are you doing here!?”
“I came here to save you. What, aren’t you happy to see me?”
“Happy!? I hoped I’d never have to see you again!” He picked up his bag and started making his way to the entrance to the sewer that the river flowed into, walking as quick as he can through thick mud and scum.
“What are you going on about? Didn’t I get you that ring you wanted so badly?”
“Yeah, and then you left me in the prison!”
“And you’re still alive. Wasn’t that what the ring was for?”
Greirat turned around, hunched down and clenching his fist. “The ring wasn’t for me!”
“Well who else could it have been for?”
“AWWWUUUUUGGGHHHHH” Greirat turned around to look at the sewer just as water splashed and a centipede’s body fell at Greirat’s feet...split in half.
Out of the sewer walked Siegward of Caterina, in his onion-like armor. Turning his head, he immediately began marching toward the two, pointing his finger at Patches. “YOU!”
Patches rolled his eyes. “You know, the more I hear that, the more it loses its meaning.”
Greirat looked to Patches. “What did you do this time?”
“You’re the ruffian that stole my armor!” Siegward bellowed.
Patches now started backing up as Siegward got closer. “Now come on then, where’s all the forgiveness gone in the world? That dim, bug-eyed, red-haired girl forgave me, didn’t she?”
“Wait, Pyrrha Nikos sent you here to help me?”
“Lies! I don’t believ-”
“RAAAAAUUUUUGGGHH!!!!” A mighty roar came from above them. A giant, rat-like beast was perched above on the bridge, it’s orange eyes glowering down on them. It gave a brief roar before leaping down and landing in the river, causing it to explode in a shower of water and slime as it stared at its prey.
“Get back, both of you!” Siegward called out, raising his sword, ready for it to strike. The Beast glowered and then charged at the trio. Patches and Greirat rolled out of the way while Siegward slashed downward, gashing The Beast but getting caught in its grip before being thrown to the side into the river next to the other two.
Siegward rose, limping from the throw. He panted and took a swig from his Estus flask. “My, quite strong” he said, somewhat winded.
The three were safe on a bit of land sticking out from the river, but the beast was now blocking the way to the sewer.
“What do we do now?” Greirat said.
“You stay back” said Patches, “the last thing I need is you getting mauled and ruining my rescue.”
The Beast roared again and began breathing a cloud of lightning toward them. Dodging, Siegward then charged, raising his sword above his head. The beast stood up on its hind legs and lunged forward, sweeping its arm. But Siegward learned from the last attack to sidestep it and slash at the arm instead.
The Beast looked behind it, seeing Siegward by its side, but before it could act, a sharp stab hit it in the shoulder. Recoiling, The Beast saw Patches had struck it while it wasn’t looking.
In a rage, the beast focussed all its attention on Patches, swinging and slashing at him. But Patches held his shield up firm, straining under the blows being battered against it. The assault eventually lessened, and Patches looked up from his tower shield. “Is that it?”
The Beast roared, but spun around to Siegward, who was about to attack. It swiped its hand at him, sending him flying against the stone wall. Patches then took the opportunity to roll under the beast and stab it between the ribcage, digging his spear deep.
A roar of pain came from the creature, but remained as ruthless as ever, standing up abruptly, causing Patches to be lifted up with the spear. While he hung, the beast grabbed Patches and brought him to its face. But before it could eat the treacherous man, he delivered a mighty kick to its head. A kick from anyone else wouldn’t have registered to the creature, but Patches’ kick wounded it enough for it to drop him into the water below.
The fall wasn’t painless, but it was better than the alternative. He landed in the water below, splashing some on Siegward, who took another sip of Estus. The beast turned to the two men, backs against the wall, and began to crackle with energy as it roared. Suddenly, it’s back burst into flame, its fur burning into coils of carbon. The lightning breath exploded out and struck the buildings in the city above, destroying several walls.
The Beast turned and growled, seeing Greirat, who retrieved his bag and threw a black firebomb.
The Beast was incensed and forgot the other two in favor of killing Greirat, who began to retreat, not even bothering with throwing another bomb. It was too quick, however, and Greirat had nowhere else to run.
With a pounce, it lunged at Greirat, who was ready to either dodge or die. Neither occurred, for at that moment, he was pushed aside to safety by a man wearing light armor and a cape with a chainmail coif, wielding a greatsword and a curved dagger.
Hawkwood raised his sword and thrust it forward, piercing straight through and impaling its hand. The force knocked back Hawkwood, but the sword stuck in its hand, despite its attempts to shake it out, eventually resolving to limp on one leg.
Hawkwood stood up, but looked at the small parrying dagger he took from the Abyss Watchers, which was currently the only weapon he had now in this fight. “Last time. Thelast time I save people.”
Siegward and Patches ran back up to the monster, but it turned around and delivered a burst of energy to the water they were running in, shocking Patches and Siegward. It then turned and charged at Siegward, opening its mouth tall as Siegward remained shocked.
Siegward was caught by its mouth and was scooped up, his sword landing blade first into the muddy river. The Beast closed its mouth, but it wasn’t in satisfaction. It tried desperately to keep it shut, but soon its jaw parted, revealing the onion shaped knight pushing it open with his hands and legs.
The Beast couldn’t keep its handicapped hand hovering forever and lowered it enough for Hawkwood to grab it and pull it out. With its hand free, it went on its hind legs and reached at its mouth to get at Siegward.
Hawkwood and Patches struck at its legs, causing it to lose balance and fall backward into the water, accidently knocking Siegward out of its mouth intact.
It quickly tried to get up and roared in pain at the three, but another fire bomb landed in its mouth, getting caught in its throat. It choked and grumbled until a small thudsounded and fire spilled out of its mouth, smoke billowing from its nose and beginning to appear in parts of its skin as its ribcage erupted in flames.
As it caught fire, The Beast knelt down in pain, putting its front palms together in ‘prayer’ as it faded in amber and silver light.
Siegward picked himself up with his sword and chuckled. “Hah, marvelous! Always enjoyable, to participate in such jolly cooperation!” Greirat caught his breath and picked up his bag of loot, starting to walk to the sewer. “You there. Continuing to the city?”
“Well, um, yes. I was planning on getting more...supplies for Pyrrha and-”
“Splendid! Any friend of Ms. Nikos is one to me!”
“Oh, so...bygones?” Patches grinned.
Siegward stared at the rogue in plated armor. “For now…” he finally said before resuming his walk with Greirat. “What of you sir…?” he asked Hawkwood, waiting for him to fill in his name.
Hawkwood didn’t however. “None of your business. Let’s just say I’m on a pilgrimage, near the dungeons.”
Siegward stopped and turned to him. “Oh? You’re in luck, I’ve been meaning to go that way after a respite. Would you join us?”
“...Suit yourself.” He turned to Patches, “thief,” and with that continued to the sewer with Greirat.
Patches looked to the sparkling air in the place where they killed The Beast of Irithyll, giving a whistle. “Well, my work seems to be done.” He took a step, but soon became dizzy, and his body became cold. “No, no…” He rifled through his pouches and retrieved a small, stark stone with a skull engraved on its face. His hands trembling, he placed it to his forehead, the fog in his mind slowly draining as the stone grew more and more blackened. He dropped the block of obsidian into the river and went back the way he came.
‘Unbreakable’ he thought, ‘I am unbreakable…’
Author’s Notes: Sorry for the wait, but I hope you liked this chapter, but I feel I could use a beta reader to help punch it up in terms of quality. I wanted to do this fight for awhile now too.
Btw, as of this chapter, with size 12 Arial font at 1.5 line spacing, this fic has taken up 196 pages on the Google Doc. It’s so big it’s beginning to lag.
Some behind the scenes stuff, if you have a problem with some of the previous chapters (or even this one) let me know, and I might do rewrites depending on the complaint.
If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to leave a comment or review (I do read them, all of them), and here’s hoping this gets a TvTropes page (it doesn’t hurt to want, does it?).
I might start updating on Sundays at 12pm PST (since the RWBY release schedule has changed dramatically since this started) so keep an eye on that. Stay tuned, I’ll see you next time.
A sigh emerged from the mouth of the hollow in priestly robes. The body of the experiment twisted and morphed, crying and shrieking in anguish before groaning. The body began to smoke in swirling dark energy, shimmering in and out of existence. Dragging his feet in frustration, the priest waved his hand, signaling the armored knight at his disposal to lift the almost skeletal creature and throw him into the sewers beneath.
“Your progress is most unassuring, Royce. Is the heatwave getting to you?” Royce turned, seeing two figures approach. The speaker, McDonnell, short and stout with more extravagant robes, and Sulyvahn, far taller being in black donning a mesh mask.
“Enough,” Sulyvahn said to McDonnell, he turned to Royce. “What have you to report?”
Royce bowed his head in reverence. “I feel we are close, Father Sulyvahn,” he turned to the knight, “BRING ANOTHER!” The knight nodded his head and lifted one of the shaking captives from their cage and forced them to walk to the table. “However, these are not objects like rings, these are live specimens. It’s been difficult to infuse them with both the Deep and the Profaned Flame.”
“Oh I’m sure you’ll find the solution eventually, Royce. In the meantime, Gascoigne and the Patriarch will move on Father Aldrich and us!” McDonnell spat. He straightened himself out. “So… I would advise some haste in the matter.”
Royce sneered at McDonnell, but turned to the subject who was cowering in fear, strapped to the table. The subject pleaded and begged for mercy, having seen what had happened to the rest of the tests, but it was useless.
Fire gripped the subject’s body, chewing, ripping through its moist flesh, as the subject screamed in agony. The flame coated its eyes as it glowed in heat.
Then the darkness swept in, seemingly dousing the flame while engulfing the hapless soul. The being stopped moving, but this elicited a smile from Royce’s desiccated lips. The skin began to dry and smooth as the eyes vanished from their sockets.
But when the dual shadow filled in his body settled, only a dried, elongated body could be seen.
“Did it work?” McDonnell said, annoyed at the lack of fanfare.
Sulyvahn walked calmly to the being strapped to the table and undid its bindings. “Stand. I command you.”
The body opened its eyes, which glowed a shimmered blue and left the table, standing upright and proper to Sulyvahn’s order. He placed his hand on its forehead, keeping it there for several seconds before pulling it away. He pointed to one of Royce’s Cathedral Knights. It immediately went to kill the subject only for it to engulf in red, unnatural flame. A Fire Witch had been born, the knight it once was replaced.
Sulyvahn turned to the two priests. “It took many tries, many failures, and brought many close calls that could have meant our end, but you have finally given us our chance. Aldrich now has his army, and we walk closer to our destiny. Repeat the process on the rest.”
Pyrrha snapped to her senses after staring into space for a long time. Lothric Castle loomed above Firelink Shrine, grey and lifeless. She thought of the flame and chaos that gripped Beacon during its initial fall and wondered if Lothric fell the same way. But it was quiet here. No screams or crackles of flame, just the wind blowing over a dead world.
It worried her how much better this seemed over the chaos of terror.
The graveyard was unchanged from when she first arrived. The same dead tree, the same tombstones, the same place she first died in….which had another body in it now…
Curious, she got up and walked toward it. The arena where she fought Gundyr was suddenly occupied by one corpse in the center, close to the bonfire, blood smeared across the stones.
It was hard to identify, it had been badly torn up, but she couldn’t look away for whatever reason. Its clothes were still intact, made of a strange fiber and texture, and it seemed to be well made. There was an odd familiarity of sorts, unexplainable. It was as though the corpse didn’t belong there.
She had no idea what this world was doing to her to think that of such a horrifying thing.
The church was empty when she returned, everything exactly where it was before. A cool and frosty breeze swept in from the right and in front of her, sending a bite to her spine. As she adapted and looked around, she saw that Anri was not there, not a sign of his being there previously to be found.
She sank her head in disappointment. She looked to her hand and stared at the ring he gave her. In contrast to the dark ring Yuria gave her, she didn’t know what it did, only that it was given in appreciation, in care and trust. She couldn’t say the same about Yuria’s ring.
She quickly turned her head to the right when she heard odd whispering coming from the right, through the other entrance. She blinked before moving forward cautiously, slowly drawing her sword. Creeping ahead, making sure not to make too much noise, she poked her head around the corner, seeing a strange man in armor hunched over several bodies, those of the thin creatures from the city center.
Creighton pawed and thrashed at the bodies, desperately looking for something, though what it was, Pyrrha couldn’t tell. “Damn, damn, DAMN! Is there nothing left in these blasted wastes of skin!?! Bastards, ALL OF YOU!!! Can’t you see how much I need this!?” He stopped cold, slowly turning his head, back still curved in an animalistic stance. He could see her.
Pyrrha stepped out and took out her shield as well, facing down the madman.
“You there, I need something from you…” he growled before slowly taking out his axe, dragging himself toward her. “Don’t move...DON’T MOVE!!!”
Creighton made a mad sprint toward her. Pyrrha simply stayed still and made ready. For all his madness, Pyrrha knew he wasn’t to be feared, he was still predictable. So when the axe was brought down to strike her, she batted it aside, ignoring the electric shocks it sent through the shield, and plunged her sword through his body.
The unpredictable then occurred. Creighton screamed in pain before growling, pushing his hands further to grab her throat. Knocking her on her back, sword sliding out of his abdomen, he began to strangle her.
“I am not going to die here…” Creighton breathed like one would exhale toxic gas. “I am not going to die and go hollow all because a scrawny rat like you wasn’t willing to SHARE!!!”
Pyrrha’s eyes rolled in pain before she took her hands off his arms and up to his head. Suddenly a squeak and groan could be heard.
“AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!” Creighton took his hands off of Pyrrha’s throat to grasp at his helmet, which Pyrrha saw had much larger dents and wedges then was present before. Pyrrha wasted no time in grabbing her sword from the ground and rushing to him. Creighton saw this and ignored the pain, reaching for his axe and swinging as Pyrrha lept into the air.
Creighton’s head was soon rolling on the ground and his body went limp.
Pyrrha was exhausted, still breathing back in the air she lost from being strangled. She began to straighten herself out, but took a look back at the man that attacked her. She could see the eyes looking through the severed head: full of shock and terror. Suddenly she felt sick to her stomach.
This wasn’t like killing a mindless hollow that had lost all ability to reason, or defeating an enemy that was harvesting and slaughtering innocent people for abstract and hateful reasons. This was an unaffiliated person so frightened of such a clear and present threat that he was already succumbing to scavenge for what little he could. His eyes were still piercing even after long since dead. She was so engrossed in their haunting gaze she didn’t notice a different pair of eyes looking at her.
Pyrrha lowered herself down the edge into the river, which was covered in a grimy film. She spotted several bodies floating within. The stench was almost unbearable, but at this point, unbearable stenches were almost expected. It was still better than the swamp.
At the end of the river she saw a strange mound, and as she got closer she saw it was the rat-like creature on the bridge, the one she ran from. She approached it to examine its corpse.
‘How did it get here?’
“Tragic, to see such a pious and loyal scion laid so low, to decay forgotten in the mud.” The deep voice made Pyrrha’s hairs stand on end. She turned right to see, standing at the top of the muddy island, an exceedingly tall figure wearing white and black robes and a gold, branching crown atop a head, which was hidden behind a mesh mask. “But, then again, what is a beast to a hero? Merely an obstacle, correct?”
“You...you must be the Pontiff.” Her skin was clammy and she felt a stirring fire, compelling her to reach for her sheathed sword.
“My name is Sulyvahn, and you mustn’t draw your weapon just yet. It will only cut short our conversation, and we have much to discuss.”
“...Discuss what?” Pyrrha became confused, and in her situation, confusion gave way to an odd anger. “Another speech? About how futile my efforts are?”
“There’s no one between us now. None of my followers are here...and neither are yours.”
‘Does he mean Anri?’ she thought to herself, quietly so he may not hear, just in case.
“Tell me, you don’t look like someone who has grown up in hardship, not true hardship. Coming here must have been the worst thing to ever happen to you. Am I incorrect?”
No he was not. That was why Pyrrha didn’t answer.
“I thought as much. Then why did you come here? How did you come here? Do you know?”
Pyrrha simmered in a boiling rage at this person thinking he could dissect her like this, take apart her life in such a way. She raised her hand to point defiantly to Sulyvahn “I don’t care about what you think ha-”
With a gesture, the dark ring that rested on Pyrrha’s finger slipped off and flew into the hand of Sulyvahn, leaving her true, rotting form revealed. Sulyvahn eyed the ring in the moonlight as a merchant would examine a piece of quality jewelry. Pyrrha stood in shock in the middle of the water, not risking looking down to see who she really is.
“I most dislike illusions and lies. I would much prefer it if people were more...” he threw the ring into the bog, stepping in front of it to discourage Pyrrha from going after it, “...honest.”
Pyrrha shivered in bubbling emotions that were begging to be released. “What. Do you want?”
“For you to answer my question.” Sulyvahn dryly said. “Do you not believe in gods or in the strings of fate that tie to our aspirations?”
“In destiny?” She asked, her red eyes glaring at the Pontiff with the intent of setting him on fire.
“They have failed you before have they not?”
“It’s why we are both here. I can tell.” He looked almost wistfully at the moon. “It’s most distressing, living your life in isolation and stigma, all because of who you are. All because of who you serve, all because of the failure of your leader.” He turned his head back to Pyrrha, who’s eyes widened in apprehension, almost like she could feel his gaze this time. “This is what has happened to you. I know it to be so.”
Her body once more began to shake, and her head was beginning to press against itself from the blood rushing toward it. “You know absolutely nothing about me! I had friends, I had family, I had a life!”
“Now it’s gone, now you’re here. And not long enough it was. It was void and without meaning, people pushing you away because of your title.”
“You didn’t like the person you were, you resented it, you hated it. All it ever did was bring you despair and isolation. In the end, it was your undoing.”
“You still deny it, you still try to go back there, to where you were so small and invisible. You lack the ambition and desire needed to be more than tertiary, to seek significance. You would spend all of eternity as a minor player in someone else’s story.”
“Leave me alone…” Pyrrha shivered in a troubled position, her head in her hands and her knees sunk into the mud while Sulyvahn loomed over her.
“....How would young Anri feel, knowing you, Knight Pyrrha of Mistral, would gladly abandon his quest in favor of returning to your placid, shallow life before death?”
Pyrrha lunged upward and, in blinding speed, reached into her belt, grabbed her cloth talisman, and through lightning bolt right at Sulyvahn. Sulyvahn stopped the bolt with his hand, but noticeably shook in pain from absorbing it.
“I HATE YOU!!!”
“Finally.” He curved his right arm and then extended it out from him, summoning a large, thick sword covered completely in horrifying flame. “You are honest with me.”
“RAAAAAAUUUUUGGHH!” A savage cry escaped Pyrrha’s decaying lips as she drew her sword and shield and charged at the Pontiff.
Sulyvahn took his sword in both hands and swung right. Pyrrha off-handedly blocked with her shield, ignoring the stream of heat erupting from the contact point, and thrusted her sword.
Sulyvahn twisted his own sword and brought it below Pyrrha’s shield and then bringing it up to block her strike before swiping left, sending her back into the river.
She slid but managed to roll back on her feet and run back to relentlessly continue her attack. With impeccable speed, she threw slash after slash at him, becoming a grey and red blur as she continued to fight to the limit of her stamina.
However, her speed was not unparalleled, as Sulyvahn was blocking and deflecting just as quickly before leaping into the air to appear behind her and sweeping wide. Pyrrha dodged the first swing, but Sulyvahn followed through with another and another, knocking her back. Pyrrha rolled under another one and simultaneously blocked a follow up swing before slashing at his arm and then his chest before he could react.
The Pontiff staggered back, opening him up to be slashed in the leg, bringing him down to his knees. Pyrrha kneed him in the head before delivering a kick to his chest. As he fell on the ground, she leaped up and before he could move, Pyrrha plunged her sword into his sternum.
“Aggh” the Pontiff sighed, “how...this cannot be...after all I’ve done…”
He clutched the ground, trying to get up, but his body glowed and then faded away. Pyrrha still clutched her sword and the grips of her shield in a white-knuckled grip as she saw this.
Suddenly her senses came back to her and she immediately rushed to the water where Sulyvahn threw the ring. “Where is it...ugh WHERE IS IT!?” She scraped around the freezing cold mud looking desperately before seeing a shadowy circle still visible despite covered in gunk. She reached for it and brought it up, it was the ring. She put it back on and immediately she felt queasy and shallow. It wasn’t so much the ring as what she was without it, how feral she seemed in wishing it back. It was like- “SHRRRKK!!!”
A swallowing pain filled her torso, and looking down she could see a thin, sharp sword coated in an ethereal purple shadow running right through her. Her whole body froze in empty agony, and she heard a shuffling behind her. “You will regret dying for a noble cause, Knight Pyrrha of Mistral.”
“Because you won’t get another chance at life. Not here.” Sulyvahn pulled the sword out from her and kicked her into the muck. As she bled into the river, she could see his figure beginning to raise the dark sword to strike her down. All of a sudden he stopped, quickly turning around and raising his guard, but a bright green light flashed across the sky and Sulyvahn’s head, or rather that of his image, vanished before the body it was attached to glowed and faded.
Pyrrha slowly got up and reached for her Estus Flask, stopping when she saw who her rescuer was. Holding a greatsword that shined in the moonlight was the same knight she twice saw at the shrine.
After taking a small sip of Estus, enough to get her moving again, she got up and walked toward the knight before he could disappear again.
The knight saw her and stood up straight, holding the sword to his side, waiting for her to get close.
Pyrrha stared at him.
“I saw your fight with Creighton. Don’t worry about him. He deserves everything that happens to him.”
“...Who are you?”
The knight turned to idly look at the corpse of Sulyvahn’s Beast. “Why do you ask?”
“I've seen you before, and not just at the shrine. I can't explain it, it's like you aren't real, like you don't belong here.” ‘As if I belong here,’ she thought, but it couldn't be denied that something about this person was off.
“I really don't.” He turned her way and the Darksign on her back became warmer, and began to pulse. “I heard everything you two were talking about.” Pyrrha turned her head away and scowled at the ground.
“This Sulyvahn is a strong villain, up until now secure in his rule. But he talks like every other foe through history. When it comes to who will win, what they say isn’t as important as what they do. Don’t let small words block your path.” “That’s just it.”
“I don’t know what my goal is. I don’t know if I want to go back or if I just want to find a way to accept my death.” She chuckled dejectedly, “I’m just letting the chips fall where they may, just like he said.”
“I never said anything about the end. You’ll never find that out until it’s in front of you, when everything else has fallen away and your motives ultimately irrelevant. And that is the best outcome.”
Her eyes widened in disbelief. “How can you be sure? What-what is the point of all this then?”
“I am sure because I have experienced it. Countless others have too.” This last remark caught her ear and she became puzzled. “Causality will point you to your fate and the fate of the world. You must make sure you get there. No pressure.” He began to walk away, digging out a small feather, staring at it forlornly.
Pyrrha snapped out of her stupor and opened her mouth to talk to him, but it was too late.
“Shanalotte” he whispered before turning his head, his body dissolving before Pyrrha’s eyes. “Seek misery, struggler.”
Pyrrha ran toward his disappearing body, but only half-heartedly, as she knew he would be gone before she could catch him. She looked up into the sky to see the city of Irithyll towering over her, the cathedral towering over the city.
‘And yet more gunk!’ Pyrrha thought, frustrated at having to go thigh deep through more of the putrid water that was present in the sewer. It was easier to breath than the swamp, but there was freezing slime and moisture drenching the walls of the sewer mouth. Occasionally a lucky drop would go in between her cloak and her armor and land right on the nape of her neck. There were days when she preferred the cultists.
A grim sight caught her eye though. Several bone white bodies floating in the water, only they weren’t people, but some kind of crawfish. A large brawl took place here, close inspection of the crawfish showed blood seeping into the already polluted water.
That and some of them being split in half, blood splattered on the wall, and chunks of support columns being broken off recently.
Suddenly she heard booming laughter from up ahead, up the stairs that leaked golden light from the room above. She trudged her way there and found a rather cozy kitchen, with a countertop containing several knives and silverware, all leading up to a cauldron hold a distinct golden liquid: Estus.
Sitting around the fireplace, which bathed the kitchen in a warm amber glow, were the unmistakable figures of Greirat and Siegward.
Siegward turned at the sound of Pyrrha’s approach. “Ah, Pyrrha Nikos!” He called out, raising his tankard of Siegbrau, “we have been waiting ages for you to appear again! Ha!”
She smiled softly at her attention being diverted to good thoughts again. “I’m just glad to see you both alright.”
“uggghhh,” a groan sounded from Greirat’s hood.
“As much as one can stand at least” Siegward quipped before lifting his visor to bring more Siegbrau to his lips.
“Patches kept his word…?” Pyrrha said in complete disbelief. Unlike Greirat, Patches didn’t seem to have any redeeming qualities. At all.
“Yes, I suppose he did.” Siegward said. “Ruffian may he be, but he certainly is a strong combatant.”
“I may vomit…” Greirat muttered.
“Combatant...you mean...that beast out there….”
“Quite right! Glorious it was, brought down by a cooperative effort. Never believed it to be possible in this day and age. I imagine w